This page tries to give the foundational principles of the policies and guidelines of the English Wikipedia. This page (along with the simplified ruleset) was a prototype for the five pillars. Some people prefer this page, because it is simpler. See the page itself for instructions on use.
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia created by the community through collaboration, and these three basic characteristics suggest three basic guiding principles for editors. Other principles, policies, and guidelines can be viewed as more elaborate formulations of these three simple points.
- Remain neutral
- Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, and ought to just tell people about stuff, clearly, simply and honestly. Don't let your head get in the way of the project. Look at Neutral point of view (NPOV), Verifiability, Citing sources, No original research, Biographies of living persons and the Deletion policy to see how this idea plays out in various policies and guidelines.
- Don't be a jerk
- Wikipedia is a community, and editors ought to treat each other – and the encyclopedia itself – with a certain level of pleasant, polite respect. Yes, we're almost all anonymous; yes, things go wrong; yes, the system is crocked up sometimes. Don't be a jerk and don't call anyone a jerk. This is put more politely by our Civility policy, as well as other things like keeping your cool, assume good faith and no personal attacks. And remember unregistered editors are human too.
- Ignore all rules
- Wikipedia is collaborative, so collaborate! Rules are fine when they're helpful, but rules are not a substitute for working things out with other editors and getting things done. See Consensus, Be Bold, the Bold, Revert, Discuss cycle, avoid instruction creep, the snowball clause, What Wikipedia is not, and similar.
This page is not a policy, guideline, or any other official sort of thing, but it is plain good common sense.