A high-level tour of the WikiVerse
3. The Five Pillars
Wikipedia states its editorial principles in the "five pillars":
1. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia
This, you might think, is obvious. But some people attempt to contribute their own original work, and this is not allowed. (There are other Wiki-projects for this.)
2. Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view
A very, very important point. Some contributors suggest that it's impossible to be truly neutral & that we should strive for balance in an article instead. Avoid advocacy (no matter how "good" the cause). Articles should aim for verifiable accuracy and reliable, authoritative citations.
Interested in learning more about Wikipedia and neutrality? Read How Wikipedia became a battleground for racial justice.
3. Wikipedia is free content that anyone can use, edit, and distribute
Sounds good but it can be tough. When you contribute an article to Wikipedia, you do not own it and it can (and often will) be ruthlessly edited. Assume a CC-BY-SA licence on whatever you contribute.
4. Wikipedia's editors should treat each other with respect and civility
<Sigh> This should be obvious. However, some people do get emotionally attached to their writing and there are often strong feelings about controversial topics, in which "maintaining a neutral point of view" is just really hard to do. An occasional veteran Wikipedian may get impatient with the innocent editing errors of newcomers. The overall Wikipedia community is well aware of this and seeks (in a number of ways) to promote a friendly, helpful environment.
5. Wikipedia has no firm rules
This is only sort of true since Wikipedia's policies and guidelines often function as rules. Nevertheless, contributors are encouraged to "be bold, but not reckless, in updating articles." Be reassured by the fact that mistakes can be easily fixed.
Wikipedians are strongly advised "don't bite the newcomers".
Image CC-BY-SA, by ST15RMwikipedia