The WP search protocol described in this page – an easy method to navigate the labyrinthine behind-the-scenes of Wikipedia – is something you likely would have figured out yourself sooner or later. Click here if you want to skip the introductory blather below. In fact, everything on this page, can be summarized in one sentence, and if it's enough for your understanding, you may not need to read anything further:

By merely typing into the search box, "WP:" (an easier-to-type alias of "Wikipedia:"), followed by the title/name or phrase of just about anything you see mentioned by regular editors, or come across in Wikipedia's interface, you can probably find a targeted, behind-the-scenes information/help page or how-to guide providing relevant information on that topic. (That's it!)


Wikipedia has hundreds or even thousands of behind-the-scenes project pages that provide information on all manner of subjects – Wikipedia's internal documentation on its policies and guidelines; its structure; navigation; dos and don'ts of interaction and editing; help pages; discussion forums; collaborative projects; essays on editing; overviews of each element of Wikipedia's viewing and editing interfaces – the list goes on and on.

As an editor of Wikipedia, a profitable skill is knowing how to navigate the labyrinth of behind-the-scenes pages so that you can easily find project pages to assist you with aspects of building the encyclopedia. This project page is directed at that goal, by providing a simple search protocol that, when followed, should allow you to easily target and land on relevant project information and help pages without laborious searching.

"Wikipedia:" / "WP:" prefix search protocol[edit]

All of Wikipedia's encyclopedia articles will be found at just a base name, with no prefix. For example, Wikipedia's encyclopedia article on the movie, The Godfather, is at just the title: "The Godfather". All internal project pages, by contrast, have a prefix in their names, designating its "namespace". For example, Wikipedia's bedrock policy on verifiability of information is at the name: "Wikipedia:Verifiability". Thus, that project page is in the Wikipedia namespace.

Just about any feature of Wikipedia that is a part of the interface, or that you see mentioned by regular editors in discussions (possibly using an abbreviation or acronym, or in truncated or shorthand fashion), can be accessed by typing into the search box: "Wikipedia:Name Used". This includes the links you see right now at the top of this page or in the left hand side menus, and just about any Wikipedia project, concept, policy, guideline, essay, tool, script, protocol, style, methodology, etc.

A time-saving trick to combine with your knowledge of this typical naming protocol is that "WP:" works as an alias for "Wikipedia:", reducing typing time. Sometimes the target project page title may actually be in the "Help:", or other namespace, but the titling scheme "Wikipedia:Name Used", and its easier-to-type formulation: "WP:Name Used", will still work seamlessly, as near invariably redirecting to the actual project page title; the same is true of all likely title variants for major features of Wikipedia's digital interface and conceptual framework.

This search protocol has, in a sense, already been demonstrated by the manner of the formatting of every one of the piped links provided previously on this page — such as to to the project pages for: verifiability, namespace, redirecting; and yes, even earlier in this sentence, for piped links. Each was typed, and it was known that they would each link to a pertinent project information/help page or how-to guide without having to 'think much at all about it', by use of the shortcut titles: WP:Verifiability, WP:Namespace, WP:Redirect and WP:Pipe.

Example use[edit]

As an example of the usefulness, and prevailing wide scope of this search protocol for title variants: if you are reading this page and are logged in, you'll see a link at the top of this page for your "Watchlist". If you want to know about that feature of the interface, you can find the main behind-the-scenes project page describing it—despite it actually being at the title "Help:Watchlist"—by typing any of:

—as well as other variations.

The same is true of most everything else you see or hear mention of as you wend your way through the serpentine forests and backwaters of this mighty encyclopedia project.

Try it out below[edit]

See also[edit]