Wikipedia:Levels of competence

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Shu ha ri

In martial arts, there is a concept along the road to mastery called shu ha ri[Note 1] that could be explained as:

  • One who is a beginner plays within the boundaries.
  • One who is proficient explores the boundaries.
  • One who is an expert creates the boundaries—or ignores them altogether.

While editing Wikipedia:

  • Beginners don't know (or are only starting to learn) the rules.
  • Intermediate users learn the rules.
  • Advanced users learn the spirit of the rules.
  • Finally, once users understand the spirit of the rules and principles, they can sometimes ignore them.



tip: Don't be afraid, just be BOLD! There's no way you can damage the wiki that can't be corrected in under a minute that doesn't get you in the stocks.

  • Edit Wikipedia, just make a change, go ahead! If you make a mistake, someone will correct you. If someone more experienced than you corrects you and points you at policy, assume good faith and learn what they are asking you to learn. Refusing to learn may result in the community deciding you cannot learn.


tip: you can pick up a lot of ideas about how consensus was previously formed by reading policy, guideline, and essay pages

  • Can you name the five pillars of Wikipedia, and apply them?
  • What are some issues with the five pillars as chosen? Would you choose other pillars? Why?


tip: Try to get people to react to you in ways that just happen to lie along the lines of policy. When in a discussion, instead of pointing to the policy itself, try to integrate your understanding of the policy in your own words, and try to convince people that way. You'll probably learn a lot from how they reply!

  • Do you understand WP:IAR?
  • If you are an admin, can you enforce policy without use of your admin tools?
  • Can you get people to follow policy, without making a single link to a policy page yourself?
  • Can you convince people to follow the principles behind the policy, simply by setting a good example?

See also[edit]


  1. ^ shu-ha-ri can be loosely translated as Learning, Applying, and Transcending