How Wikipedia Works/Content/4

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Chapter 4. Understanding and Evaluating an Article[edit]

Understanding and Evaluating an Article
  1. Anatomy of an Article
    1. The Article Text
    2. Backlinks
    3. Article History
      1. Reading a Page History
      2. Analyzing a Page History
      3. Edit Summaries and Minor Edits
    4. Talk Pages
      1. Reading and Contributing to Talk Pages
      2. Making Good Use of Talk Pages
  2. Evaluating Articles
    1. Misinformation, Missing Information, and Mistakes
    2. D-R-E-W-S
      1. Discussion on the Talk Page
      2. Ratings
      3. Edit History
      4. Writing and Formatting
      5. Sources
  3. Summary
  4. Final Thoughts for Part I


Once you've found the content you're looking for, the next thing you need to know is what you're looking at. With an understanding of namespaces and content types in Wikipedia, you can easily tell whether you're looking at an article, a discussion page, a community page, or a user page; and once you know how to search and browse the site, finding articles on your topic is simple. The next step is assessing an article's quality.

Understanding how to read all the components of an article—from its edit history to its discussion pages—is key for skilled and sensible reading of Wikipedia. Experienced editors and readers use many tricks to quickly evaluate pages and understand their state. It's a matter of knowing where to look and determining which clues are most significant.

In this chapter, we'll identify the different parts of a typical article and discuss what each part can tell you. We'll then list some detailed questions to ask when critically evaluating an article. Throughout this chapter, as we describe how articles are put together, we'll list Clues—points to pick up on for quality evaluation. If you're in a hurry, we've summarized our best clues at the end of the chapter.

Note - In this discussion of the look and feel of Wikipedia, we'll be talking about viewing pages with the default configuration, the Monobook skin. Skins are customizable, and there are a variety to choose from; for more, see "Creating the Account" and "Setting Your Preferences" in Chapter 11.1.