A Business Owner’s Guide to Wikipedia Part 5: The Wiki Community

As well as being an online encyclopedia, Wikipedia is also a community with a culture all of its own. Therefore, it’s important to understand this culture before you begin to reach out to other contributors. Today, we will be looking at the various sections of this community and describe what they do.

Wikimedia Commons

This sister website hosts images and other media files that are licensed under Creative Commons, an alternative form of licensing that falls between private ‘All rights reserved’ licenses and public domain ‘no rights reserved’ licenses. All the images on Wikipedia have to be licensed in this way. As of July 2013, there were over 19 million images stored on the Commons website, and there is no limit on the amount of images that users can upload.

Recent Changes Patrol

Also known as “Vandal Patrol”, this is a small group of dedicated Wikipedians who look out for recent changes on Wikipedia to detect instances of vandalism and other abuses of Wikipedia’s open structure and remove these malicious edits as quickly as possible.


These are self-organised membership groups of Wikipedians dedicated to collaborating on articles that interest them. They are divided by encyclopaedic topics, geographical regions, hobbies, and areas of interest.

Arbitration Committee

AKA the “Supreme Court” of Wikipedia, it is highly unlikely that you will ever have to deal with this group unless a dispute can’t be resolved even after mediation from a fellow editor. This group is where the buck stops on Wikipedia, and is responsible for making the final decisions in disputed matters.

Help desk

If you aren’t sure about how to do something, or whether you should be doing it at all, then you can ask here and a knowledgeable member of the Wikipedia community will usually respond within minutes or hours. Alternatively, you can try using “Editor Assistance”, which performs a similar function. You can find these by typing WP:HELPDESK or WP:ASSIST into any major search engine.

Wikimedia Foundation

Jimmy Wales, Founder of the Wikimedia Foundation

The not-for-profit parent organisation behind Wikipedia, it also runs various related projects such as Wikiquote, Wiktionary, Wikimedia Commons, and Wikinews. It does not play an active role in content decisions on Wikipedia, leaving this up to the community of Wikipedians.


Wikipedia’s administrators (or “sysops”) are editors that have access to a few additional tools. These people are responsible for cleaning up Wikipedia – hence the logo for admins being a Wikipedia logo with a mop. They can delete pages, prevent pages from being edited in the event of an edit war occuring, and temporarily or permanently block other users. Therefore, it stands to reason that you want to keep on the right side of these people, but it’s worth remembering that they have a duty to respect you as well.


Many of the edits made to Wikipedia are made by automated processes called “bots” rather than human beings. These perform simple tasks such as correcting spelling mistakes and removing obvious vandalism. They do, inevitably, get a few things wrong, but their edits are easy to reverse when they do.