top of page

An encyclopedia everyone can edit

1 September 2022
Liron Dorfman
wikipedia logo

The Wikipedia homepage is a part of the website that, according to its statistics, isn't read by most. Most people search using a search engine and the relevant Wikipedia entry in their respective language will pop up as one of the first results. Occasionally, a concise definition excerpted from the opening paragraph from the Wikipedia entry will appear at the top of the search window, and many will be satisfied with this definition alone.


If you do find yourself at the Wikipedia homepage, you can see that at the top of the page, right under the banner proclaiming "welcome to Wikipedia" it claims to be "an encyclopedia everyone can edit". The specific wording varies according to the website's language (over 300 of them). Still, it will always feature the word encyclopedia beside the subtle hint that you, too, can write in it. After all, only a few understand that we are dealing with an encyclopedia, and even fewer decide to contribute to its writing, editing, and improvement. This is unfortunate, but the writers at Wikipedia are working hard to change this situation and indeed, the number of writers is steadily (albeit slowly) growing each year. The editors are more than glad since every new writer brings something of their own: their experience and areas of expertise (whether those related to their profession or their hobbies and interests), and all add new perspectives to the project. Everyone has what to contribute.


What to do to become a Wikipedia Editor


Wikipedia in Hebrew began writing in 2003, approximately two and half years after the launch of the first version of Wikipedia in English. The editor community decided that in order to earn the right of influence, a certain degree of seniority should be required, as well as regular use of the platform during the months preceding the vote (which follows the preliminary discussion). Anyone can write on Wikipedia. And like any encyclopedia, access to writing is free and doesn't require you to identify before it. However, only those who have created a username and gained three months of seniority, during which they performed at least 300 content edits, will be considered editors. These editors will be able to participate in the various votes held regarding the platform. Their vote will be counted when making decisions regarding the issue being voted on. Occasional writers can continue writing for the platform without any substantial limitations, as long as they write according to Wikipedia's rules and philosophy, and can even express their opinion during those votes. However, their vote won't be counted.


Don't worry; you are not required to count each user's number of edits before each vote. The system is designed to automatically identify certified editors.

By virtue of the decision regarding seniority required for the vote to be counted, even if the editor has gained years of seniority since they began being active in the platform, they might not have the right to vote. If, for example, they took a trip to a tropical island with no access to the internet and stayed there for too long, when they log into Wikipedia, if they were found to perform less than 300 edits during the three months preceding the vote, their vote will not be counted. If they once again become active, they will sooner or later be granted voting rights.

This method ensures that only people immersed in the project will make decisions regarding its content, graphic interface, and future in general. Simply put, someone previously active but not recently isn't necessarily proficient in the intricacies of the latest discussions and might subsequently misunderstand the currently disputed issue. Furthermore, this method eliminates any "lobbying" attempts in favor of a cause close to any group's heart and prevents content from being affected by interest groups' biases.

Wikipedia tends to summarize this method by stating that "decisions are made by those who show up". This is the essential foundation of any democratic organization: if you weren't part of the process, don't complain about the result. If you didn't show up for the vote, don't complain about the outcome.

For further details on Wikipedia's policies and guidelines, click here. To read more about Wikipedia's voting system, click here.

Liron Dorfman /

The author serves in various positions at Wikipedia in Hebrew and Wikimedia Israel, Inc. and is currently employed by ROM Knowledgeware.

bottom of page