Tutorial: Summary of policies

Wikipedia is a project that has wide boundaries. As such, there are many rules and policies that describe how things are done. As of right now, there are 42 policies that are enforced and used in the maintenance of Wikipedia. A brief summary of each policy, listed in bold, sorted into categories, follows. (Note: This only covers official policies, not guidelines)


The first few policies deal with an editor's start on Wikipedia. The Username policy limits certain names from being used, including those of celebrities (unless you can prove who you say you are), ones that imply leadership on Wikipedia, are offensive, or are similar to an established user. Usernames can be changed by going to Wikipedia:Changing username and requesting an unused username, or one that has no edits can be usurped. Editors are discouraged from having multiple accounts, often called sock puppets, and are disallowed from using them to "create the illusion of greater support for an issue, to mislead others, to artificially stir up controversy, to aid in disruption, or to circumvent a block."

After this, the Editing policy states simply that editors should work on improving pages, without regarding perfection, because it can be fixed later. However, certain types of edits are prohibited:

Most of your interaction with other editors takes place on the Talk Pages. There are three main policies for governing interaction with other editors:

Two more policies fall into this subcategory of Policies:

Content and style

Content and style policies talk about what type of articles are allowed in Wikipedia, and what has to be maintained in the articles.

These are Wikipedia's three core content policies. Together, they set the standard for what should be in Wikipedia's articles. They should be viewed as parts of a whole and not separate. The principles upon which these policies are based are non-negotiable and cannot be superseded by other policies or guidelines, or by editors' consensus.

Two policies based on content apply to two specific subsets of articles:

The final two policies in this category are:


The Deletion policies govern what articles should be deleted and what process they have to go through in order to be deleted. They allow for four methods of deletion: Articles for Deletion, two of the methods of deletion listed below and copyright violation, which can fall under speedy deletion. Deletion Review is also established under this policy, which allows for the undeletion of articles that were deleted incorrectly.

The other two policies governing deletion deal with actions by the Wikimedia Foundation. These policies are when the Foundation is doing something for legal reasons or because of exceptional controversy:

Enforcing policies

Any system that has policies has to be able to enforce them in some way. Wikipedia is no different. The first two of these deal with how you work with other editors in order to decide how things work in Wikipedia:

If these methods of discussing the problems don't work and edit warring continues, there are policies that come into effect, in this approximate order:

The final two methods, below, are extensions of the Blocking policy. They help to enforce the strength of blocks, so that they aren't avoided or misused:

Copyright Policies come from The Laws of the United States of America and the State of Florida. All the policies listed below are extensions of the previous two listed:


There is only one policy that falls in this category, and it is impossible to summarize it, because it is already so succinct:

Further reading

Also this week:
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  • WikiWorld
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