Help:How to start a new Wikipedia

How to start a new Wikipedia

This page has been superseded by Requests for new languages, Language proposal policy and incubator:Help:Manual.

Do you want to start a Wikipedia in a new language? Please realize that it could need a lot of work. It will take some time to become ready to "go live". You need to know your language well and it is strongly recommended to team up with other speakers of that language. It is also good to be experienced in editing a larger Wikipedia in another language.

Check whether your language already has one

There are editions of Wikipedia in more than 300 languages, so maybe there already is a Wikipedia in your language! Here are a few places where you can check for it:

  1. Look at the page List of Wikipedias.
  2. Loot at, the portal page.
  3. Go to the article about your language in a Wikipedia in a large language, such as English. These articles usually have a link to the Wikipedia in the language at the bottom.

If you cannot find an existing Wikipedia in your language, check the page Requests for new languages—there may be a request for it already.

Please be patient. It can take up to four months or longer.

Getting help

If you do not already use another Wikipedia, you might have many questions when you begin. For answers regarding your questions, you may contact other Wikipedians. For example, you can contact people with the mailing lists or on the channel #wikimedia on IRC.

Here are some people on meta willing to help:

Start on the pages themselves

Set Main Page

You may create your own Main Page. You may also go to the Main Page of another Wikipedia and translate it into your language.

How to edit a page

You need to translate How to edit a page into your language.

Another helpful link: Help:Starting a new page.

Add a link to lists of language Wikipedias available

Add your language to List of Wikipedias. Such lists exist in several languages, so you can go to Wikimedia Embassy for people who will help you. After you have added it to one or more Wikipedias, users of other languages will add it to theirs.

Translate the interface, etc.

Typically, when a new Wikipedia is created there is no interface yet in the language concerned; people interested in a language tend to give creating a new Wikipedia for that language (if it does not exist yet) a higher priority than to provide an interface in that language on existing MediaWiki installations.

To translate the interface you must prepare a file languages/messages/Messageslanguagecode.php (such as [1], [2], [3]) with system messages, namespace names, and a few other things. The translations are also used by other Wikimedia sites with the same site language. The translations of system messages are also used on Wikimedia sites in other languages where the user has specified the new language in the preferences. After release of a new MediaWiki version all this applies also to other MediaWiki sites. Keep this in mind when putting links in messages, and use generic namespace names in these links; by using piped links these namespace names are not displayed.

Then ask a developer to install the file (it is perhaps wise to check first with a developer on details of requirements).

As far as this file is incomplete, and also if it is not installed at all, the default values are those for English.

Some languages also need a file like [4].

Please note that for the translation of the free encyclopedia that free in this sense means "not restricted." This sometimes confuses people because English does not have different words for free (as in price or cost - like the French word "gratuit") and free (as in freedom or liberty - like the French word "libre"). If your language has different words for the two kinds of "free", please use the one that refers to freedom or liberty.

If the language has characters that are difficult to enter on some of keyboards used by speakers of the language, you can add a box of special characters to insert using the Copyrightwarning message.

You might need someone with sysop status very soon. Add your request on Requests for permissions.

Prepare the Community pages

Each Wikimedia project has a place where users go to talk about things. In the English Wikipedia, for example, this is the Village pump. The French Wikipedia has Le Bistro. Please choose a name for a page and then create the page.

You will need a page where writers and editors can write their name and location. One idea is to use the page of en:Wikipedia:Wikipedians as a base and translate it in your language.

Set up basic guidelines

There are a few rules that all Wikimedia projects must follow:

Other than these all-projects rules, each Wikipedia has created its own rules.

Some rules you might want to have right away include:

  • Orthographic practices - if there is more than one way to spell or write your language, you will need rules about it.
  • Stylistic conventions - if your language does not have a standardised universal form (way everybody speaks it to understand each other), you will need to have one or have a rule to tell people which forms or dialects of your language to use. Also, you will need more complex stylistic conventions (for an example, see here).
  • naming conventions

Add a style guide and resources for writers

You want to have a high-quality encyclopaedia. Please write a few suggestions for writers. Are there websites in your language about how to write? Maybe you want to add a dictionary or a grammar guide here. Put in everything that could be useful for writers.

Write a few good content articles as an example for others

You might want to write a few articles for your Wikipedia to get it started, and to give an example to other possible writers. You can translate an article from a different Wikipedia, or you can write an original article.

Have cooperation between the Wikipedia in your language and other Wikipedias.

We think that you should join some of the mailing lists so that you will know what happens. The mailing lists are also good resources you can use to grow from the things that happen to other Wikipedias.

Please make a local Wikimedia Embassy for multilingual cooperation. (make yourself a page so that we can talk to you more easily, and write a name for a contact)

If you want to have a central place where you can find out what is going on in the whole Wikipedia community, go to goings-on.

Promote your Wikipedia

Find appropriate newsgroups, forums, discussion lists, et cetera where people are interested that the Wikipedia has started in their language. Offer to write an article for a local newspaper about your work on the project, and its cultural value to society. Lecture at conferences where the topic would be appropriate. Create a small brochure or poster about Wikipedia in your language. Add a link to Wikipedia in your email signature.

Now your language is ready for the public! Try to convince your friends to join the project, and explain how the Wikipedia works. Thank you for working hard!

See also