Readers' FAQ

This FAQ page addresses some concerns and questions readers may have about Wikipedia.

How do I search Wikipedia? edit

There is a small search box in the upper-right corner of the screen, with the gray word search in it. Just type what you are looking for into the search box and press the Enter key. See Wikipedia:Searching for more details.

How do I do research with Wikipedia? edit

You can see information about researching with Wikipedia here.

What is the license agreement on the contents of Wikipedia? edit

Wikipedia articles are all open content and are covered by the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA) and in most cases the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). See Wikipedia:Copyrights.

May I mirror entire sections of the Wikipedia to my site? How much may I quote? edit

You may mirror or quote as much as you wish, as long as you maintain the text under the CC-BY-SA or GNU Free Documentation License. See Wikipedia:Copyrights.

If I link a word from my site to Wikipedia, am I required to use the GNU FDL for my site? edit

No. Linking is not an act regulated by copyright, so the CC-BY-SA and GNU FDL does not apply.

What if I use a small quote (three or four sentences)? edit

No, since it is covered by the fair use doctrine.

What if I quote entire articles? edit

Check with your lawyer, or just put the site under the CC-BY-SA or GNU FDL. However, Wikipedians try to assume good faith, so minor copyright violations are unlikely to result in a lawsuit.

Can I get Wikipedia on CD, or download it for offline use? edit

SOS Children have published a Wikipedia CD Selection for schools, which may be viewed at, and is available for free download via the charity's website.
The database can be downloaded here, but you will need to set up a web server, PHP, MySQL and our wiki software, MediaWiki, to make use of it. A paper or CD version of Wikipedia is currently under discussion at Wikipedia:Pushing To 1.0.
However, several Wikipedians have made various Wikipedia databases available in TomeRaider format for offline reading. See Wikipedia:TomeRaider database for more details.

How do I cite a Wikipedia article in a paper? edit

Cite it as you would any other web page in accordance with the normal citation practice the publication you are submitting the paper to follows. Citing the individual authors is not necessary, but you should at least include the date on which you retrieved the article (and ideally the full timestamp from the history).
Automatically generated citations in several standard styles are available through the "Cite this article" link in the toolbox.
See Wikipedia:Citing Wikipedia

What should I do when I find a factual error in Wikipedia? edit

You should correct it. (See Wikipedia:Contributing FAQ.) Wikipedia is written by volunteers who believe knowledge should be free for everyone, and the community is always ready to welcome new volunteers.
Because Wikipedia is an all-volunteer project that anyone can edit, errors or omissions can and do creep in. This should be kept in mind when reading; the very nature of Wikipedia means it should not be trusted completely. Articles frequently contain citations of authoritative works where a reader can verify the information found.

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