This page is a general introduction for visitors to the Financial Planning Body of Knowledge (FPBoK) project. For an introduction to editing on FPBoK, see this introduction.

FPBoK is running MediaWiki version 1.16alpha-wmf(r59858).

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FPBoK is a web-based, free-content encyclopedia project based on an openly-editable model. FPBoK's articles provide links to guide the user to related pages with additional information. This site contains a collection of articles written by financial planning professionals and scholars as well as a compendium of rules, procedures, guidelines, regulations, laws, etc., taken from the following websites:

  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Employee Plans Compliance Unit (IRS)
  • Department of Labor
  • Employee Benefits Security Administration
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
  • Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation
  • Social Security Administration
  • Small Business Administration
  • Federal Trade Commission
  • Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of State
  • Department of Veteran's Affairs
  • Department of the Treasury
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Department of Commerce (DOC)
  • Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Department of Education
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • Unites States Code
  • Code of Federal Regulations

and numerous other authoritative sources.

Furthermore, there are hundreds of links to other indispensable sites including:

  • CFP Board
  • National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)
  • Every state's Insurance and Securities Commissioner

FPBoK is, in part, written collaboratively by a group of volunteers. Anyone with internet access can write and make changes to FPBoK articles. Users can contribute anonymously, under a pseudonym, or with their real identity if they choose. The FPBoK community is developing policies and guidelines to improve the encyclopedia, however, you can contribute before the policies and guidelines are developed . Since its creation in 2008, FPBoK has been growing into a substantial reference web site, attracting many visitors.

Each contribution is judged on its own merit and not on the expertise or qualifications of the user. This is possible since FPBoK's intent is to cover existing financial planning knowledge which is verifiable from other sources, original research and ideas are therefore excluded. People of all financial planning backgrounds can write FPBoK articles as most of the articles can be edited by anyone with access to the Internet simply by clicking the edit this page link (found at the top of every editable page). Anyone involved in the financial planning process is welcome to add information, cross-references, or citations, as long as they do so within FPBoK's editing policies and to an appropriate standard. Substandard or disputed information is subject to removal. Users need not worry about accidentally damaging FPBoK when adding or improving information, as other editors are always around to advise or correct obvious errors, and FPBoK's software is carefully designed to allow easy reversal of editorial mistakes.

Because FPBoK is a massive live collaboration, it differs from a paper-based reference source in important ways. In particular, older articles tend to be more comprehensive and balanced, while newer articles more frequently may contain misinformation, unencyclopedic content, or vandalism. Users need to be aware of this to obtain valid information and avoid misinformation that has been recently added and not yet removed (see Researching with FPBoK for more details). However, unlike a paper reference source, FPBoK is continually updated, with the creation or updating of articles on historic events within hours, minutes, or even seconds, rather than months or years for printed encyclopedias.

What FPBoK is not will give an understanding of the limits of FPBoK's coverage. Further information on key topics appears below. Further advice is at Frequently asked questions, or see Where to ask questions. For help getting started with editing or other issues, see Help:Contents.


Important Note: The content below is under construction.

About Financial Planning Body of Knowledge (FPBoK)

FPBoK history

Trademarks and copyrights

FPBoK is a registered trademark of PMG Marketing, Inc., which has created a website of free-content which are built by user contributions.

Most of FPBoK's text and many of its images are dual-licensed under the Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA) and the [ Free Documentation License] (GFDL) (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts). Some text has been imported only under CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-SA-compatible license and cannot be reused under GFDL; such text will be identified either on the page footer, in the page history or the discussion page of the article that utilizes the text. Every image has a description page which indicates the license under which it is released or, if it is non-free, the rationale under which it is used.

Contributions remain the property of their creators, while the CC-BY-SA and GFDL licenses ensure the content is freely distributable and reproducible. (See the copyright notice and the content disclaimer for more information.)

FPBoK contributors

Anyone with Web access can edit FPBoK, and this openness encourages inclusion of a tremendous amount of content. About 75,000 editors—from expert scholars to casual readers—regularly edit FPBoK, and these experienced editors often help to create a consistent style throughout the encyclopedia, following our Manual of Style.

Several mechanisms are in place to help FPBoK members carry out the important work of crafting a high-quality resource while maintaining civility. Editors are able to watch pages and techies can write editing programs to keep track of or rectify bad edits. Over 1,500 administrators with special powers ensure that behaviour conforms to FPBoK guidelines and policies. Where there are disagreements on how to present facts, editors work together to arrive at an article that fairly represents current expert opinion on the subject. The administrators can temporarily or permanently ban editors of FPBoK who fail to work with others in a civil manner.

Although the FPBoK Foundation owns the site, it is largely uninvolved in writing and daily operations.

Making the best use of FPBoK

Exploring FPBoK


Many visitors come to FPBoK to acquire knowledge, others to share knowledge. At this very instant, dozens of articles are being improved, and new articles are also being created. Changes can be viewed at the Recent changes page and a random page at random articles. Over 2,000 articles have been designated by the FPBoK community as featured articles, exemplifying the best articles in the encyclopedia. Another 7,000 articles are designated as good articles. Some information on FPBoK is organized into lists; the best of these are designated as featured lists. FPBoK also has portals, which organize content around topic areas; our best portals are selected as featured portals. Articles can be found using search using the search box on the left side of the screen.

Basic navigation in FPBoK


FPBoK articles are all linked, or cross-referenced. When highlighted text like this is seen, it means there is a link to some relevant article or FPBoK page with further in-depth information elsewhere. Holding the mouse over the link will often show to where the link will lead. The reader is always one click away from more information on any point that has a link attached. There are other links towards the ends of most articles, for other articles of interest, relevant external Web sites and pages, reference material, and organized categories of knowledge which can be searched and traversed in a loose hierarchy for more information. Some articles may also have links to dictionary definitions, audio-book readings, quotations, the same article in other languages, and further information available on our sister projects. Further links can be added if a relevant link is missing, and this is one way to contribute.

Using FPBoK as a research tool


As a wiki, articles are never considered complete and may be continually edited and improved. Over time, this generally results in an upward trend of quality and a growing consensus over a neutral representation of information.

Users should be aware that not all articles are of encyclopedic quality from the start: they may contain false or debatable information. Indeed, many articles start their lives as displayin a single viewpoint; and, after a long process of discussion, debate, and argument, they gradually take on a neutral point of view reached through consensus. Others may, for a while, become caught up in a heavily unbalanced viewpoint which can take some time—months perhaps—to achieve better balanced coverage of their subject. In part, this is because editors often contribute content in which they have a particular interest and do not attempt to make each article that they edit comprehensive. However, eventually, additional editors expand and contribute to articles and strive to achieve balance and comprehensive coverage. In addition, FPBoK operates a number of internal resolution processes that can assist when editors disagree on content and approach. Usually, editors eventually reach a consensus on ways to improve the article.

The ideal FPBoK article is well-written, balanced, neutral, and encyclopedic, containing comprehensive, notable, verifiable knowledge. An increasing number of articles reach this standard over time, and many already have. Our best articles are called Featured Articles (and display a small star in the upper right corner of the article), and our second best tier of articles are designated Good Articles. However, this is a process and can take months or years to be achieved, as each user adds their contribution in turn. Some articles contain statements which have not yet been fully cited. Others will later be augmented with new sections. Some information will be considered by later contributors to be insufficiently founded and, therefore, may be removed or expounded.

While the overall trend is toward improvement, it is important to use FPBoK carefully if it is intended to be used as a research source, since individual articles will, by their nature, vary in quality and maturity. Guidelines and information pages are available to help users and researchers do this effectively, as is an article that summarizes third-party studies and assessments of the reliability of FPBoK.

FPBoK vs. paper encyclopedias

Main article: Wiki is not paper (on Wikimedia Meta-Wiki)

FPBoK has advantages over traditional paper encyclopedias. FPBoK has a very low "publishing" cost for adding or expanding entries and a low environmental impact, since it need never be printed. In addition, FPBoK has wikilinks instead of in-line explanations and it incorporates overview summaries (article introductions) with the extensive detail of a full article. Additionally, the editorial cycle is short. A paper encyclopedia stays the same until the next edition, whereas editors can update FPBoK at any instant, around the clock, to help ensure that articles stay abreast of the most recent events and scholarship.

Strengths, weaknesses, and article quality in FPBoK

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FPBoK's greatest strengths, weaknesses, and differences all arise because it is open to anyone, it has a large contributor base, and its articles are written by consensus, according to editorial guidelines and policies.

  • FPBoK is open to a large contributor base, drawing a large number of editors from diverse backgrounds. This allows FPBoK to significantly reduce regional and cultural bias found in many other publications, and makes it very difficult for any group to censor and impose bias. A large, diverse editor base also provides access and breadth on subject matter that is otherwise inaccessible or little documented. A large number of editors contributing at any moment also means that FPBoK can produce encyclopedic articles and resources covering newsworthy events within hours or days of their occurrence. It also means that like any publication, FPBoK may reflect the cultural, age, socio-economic, and other biases of its contributors. There is no systematic process to make sure that "obviously important" topics are written about, so FPBoK may contain unexpected oversights and omissions. While most articles may be altered by anyone, in practice editing will be performed by a certain demographic (younger rather than older, male rather than female, rich enough to afford a computer rather than poor, et cetera) and may, therefore, show some bias. Some topics may not be covered well, while others may be covered in great depth.
  • Allowing anyone to editFPBoK means that it is more easily vandalized or susceptible to unchecked information, which requires removal. See FPBoK:Administrator intervention against vandalism. While blatant vandalism is usually easily spotted and rapidly corrected, FPBoK is more subject to subtle viewpoint promotion than a typical reference work. However, bias that would be unchallenged in a traditional reference work is likely to be ultimately challenged or considered on FPBoK. While FPBoK articles generally attain a good standard after editing, it is important to note that fledgling articles and those monitored less well may be susceptible to vandalism and insertion of false information. FPBoK's radical openness also means that any given article may be, at any given moment, in a bad state, such as in the middle of a large edit, or a controversial rewrite. Many contributors do not yet comply fully with key policies, or may add information without citable sources. FPBoK's open approach tremendously increases the chances that any particular factual error or misleading statement will be relatively promptly corrected. Numerous editors at any given time are monitoring recent changes and edits to articles on their watchlist.
  • FPBoK is written by open and transparent consensus – an approach that has its pros and cons. Censorship or imposing "official" points of view is extremely difficult to achieve and usually fails after a time. Eventually for most articles, all notable views become fairly described and a neutral point of view reached. In reality, the process of reaching consensus may be long and drawn-out, with articles fluid or changeable for a long time while they find their "neutral approach" that all sides can agree on. Reaching neutrality is occasionally made harder by extreme-viewpoint contributors. FPBoK operates a full editorial dispute resolution process, one that allows time for discussion and resolution in depth, but one that also permits disagreements to last for months before poor-quality or biased edits are removed.

That said, articles and subject areas sometimes suffer from significant omissions, and while misinformation and vandalism are usually corrected quickly, this does not always happen. Therefore, a common conclusion is that it is a valuable resource and provides a good reference point on its subjects.

The MediaWiki software that runs FPBoK retains a history of all edits and changes, thus information added to FPBoKnever "vanishes". Discussion pages are an important resource on contentious topics. Therefore, serious researchers can often find a wide range of vigorously or thoughtfully advocated viewpoints not present in the consensus article. Like any source, information should be checked. A 2005 editorial by a BBC technology writer comments that these debates are probably symptomatic of new cultural learnings that are happening across all sources of information (including search engines and the media), namely "a better sense of how to evaluate information sources."<ref>Bill Thompson, "What is it with FPBoK?", BBC, December 16, 2005.</ref>




FPBoK disclaimers apply to all pages on FPBoK.

FPBoK, in common with many Web sites, has a disclaimer that, at times, has led to commentators citing these in order to support a view that FPBoK is unreliable. A selection of similar disclaimers from places which are often regarded as reliable (including sources such as Encyclopædia Britannica, Associated Press, and the Oxford English Dictionary) can be read and compared at Non-FPBoK disclaimers. FPBoK content advisories can also be found here.

Contributing to FPBoK

Main articles: Contributing to FPBoK, First steps in editing articles, New contributors' help page
Guide to fixing vandalism: Help:Reverting

Anyone can contribute to FPBoK by clicking on the Edit this page tab in an article. Before beginning to contribute however, read some handy helping tools such as the tutorial and the policies and guidelines, as well as our welcome page. It is important to realize that in contributing to FPBoK, users are expected to be civil and neutral, respecting all points of view, and only add verifiable and factual information rather than personal views and opinions. "The five pillars of FPBoK" cover this approach and are recommended reading before editing. (Vandals are reported via the Administrator Notice Board and may be temporarily blocked from editing FPBoK.)

Most articles start as stubs, but after many contributions, they can become featured articles. Once the contributor has decided a topic of interest, they may want to request that the article be written (or they could research the issue and write it themselves). FPBoK has on-going projects, focused on specific topic areas or tasks, which help coordinate editing.

Editing FPBoK pages

Main article, including list of common mark-up shortcuts: v:How to edit a page

FPBoK uses a simple yet powerful page layout to allow editors to concentrate on adding material rather than page design. These include automatic sections and subsections, automatic references and cross-references, image and table inclusion, indented and listed text, links, ISBNs, and math, as well as usual formatting elements and most world alphabets and common symbols. Most of these have simple formats that are deliberately very easy and intuitive.

The page layout consists of tabs along the top of the window. These are:

  • Article. Shows the main FPBoK article.
  • Discussion. Shows a user discussion about the articles topics and possible topics, controversies, etc.
  • Edit this page. This tab allows users to edit the article. Depending on the controversy surrounding the topic, this tab may not be shown for all users. (For example, any user who is not an administrator will not be able to edit the Main Page).
  • History. This tab allows readers to view the editors of the article and the changes that have been made.
  • Watch. Clicking on the watch tab will cause any changes made to the article to be displayed on the watchlist. (Note: when this tab is clicked, it changes to an unwatch tab.)

FPBoK has robust version and reversion controls. This means that poor-quality edits or vandalism can quickly and easily be reversed or brought up to an appropriate standard by any other editor, so inexperienced editors cannot accidentally do permanent harm if they make a mistake in their editing. As there are many more editors intent on improving articles than not, error-ridden articles are usually corrected promptly.

FPBoKcontent criteria


FPBoK content is intended to be factual, notable, verifiable with cited external sources, and neutrally presented.

The appropriate policies and guidelines for these are found at:

  1. FPBoK:What FPBoK is not, which summarizes what belongs in FPBoK and what does not;
  2. FPBoK:Neutral point of view, which describes FPBoK's mandatory core approach to neutral, unbiased article-writing;
  3. FPBoK:No original research, which prohibits the use of FPBoK to publish personal views and original research of editors and defines FPBoK's role as an encyclopedia of existing recognized knowledge;
  4. FPBoK:Verifiability, which explains that it must be possible for readers to verify all content against credible external sources (following the guidance in the FPBoK:Risk disclaimer that is linked-to at the bottom of every article);
  5. FPBoK:Reliable sources, which explains what factors determine whether a source is acceptable;
  6. FPBoK:Citing sources, which describes the manner of citing sources so that readers can verify content for themselves; and
  7. FPBoK:Manual of Style, which offers a style guide—in general editors tend to acquire knowledge of appropriate writing styles and detailed formatting over time.

These are often abbreviated to WP:NOT, WP:NPOV, WP:NOR, WP:V, WP:RS, WP:CITE, and WP:MOS respectively.

Editorial administration, oversight, and management


The FPBoK community is largely self-organising, so that anyone may build a reputation as a competent editor and become involved in any role he/she may choose, subject to peer approval. Individuals often will choose to become involved in specialised tasks, such as reviewing articles at others' request, watching current edits for vandalism, watching newly created articles for quality control purposes, or similar roles. Editors who believe they can serve the community better by taking on additional administrative responsibility may ask their peers for agreement to undertake such responsibilites. This structure enforces meritocracy and communal standards of editorship and conduct. At present a 75–80% approval rating from the community is required to take on these additional tools and responsibilities. This standard tends to ensure a high level of experience, trust, and familiarity across a broad front of aspects within v.

A variety of software-assisted systems and automated programs help editors and administrators to watch for problematic edits and editors. Theoretically all editors and users are treated equally with no "power structure". There is, however a hierarchy of permissions and positions, some of which are listed below:

  1. Anyone can edit most of the articles here. Some articles are protected due to vandalism or edit-warring, and can only be edited by certain editors.
  2. Anyone with an account that has been registered for four days or longer and made ten edits becomes Autoconfirmed, and gains the technical ability to do three things that non-autoconfirmed editors cannot:
    • Move articles.
    • Edit semi-protected articles.
    • Vote in certain elections (minimum edit count to recieve suffrage varies depending on the election).
  3. Many editors with accounts obtain access to certain tools that make editing easier and faster. Most of those tools, few learn about, but one common privilege granted to editors in good standing is "rollback", which is the ability to undo edits more easily.
  4. Administrators ("admins" or "sysops") have been approved by the community, and have access to some significant administrative tools. They can delete articles, block accounts or IP addresses, and edit fully protected articles.
  5. Bureaucrats are chosen in a process similar to that for selecting adminstrators. There are not very many bureaucrats. They have the technical ability to add or remove admin rights, approve or revoke "bot" privileges, and rename user accounts.
  6. The Arbitration Committee is kind of like FPBoK's supreme court. They deal with disputes that remain unresolved after other attempts at dispute resolution have failed. Members of this Committee are elected by the community and tend to be selected from among the pool of experienced admins.
  7. Stewards are the top echelon of technical permissions, other than the Wikimedia Board of Directors. Stewards can do a few technical things, and one almost never hears much about them since they normally only act when a local admin or bureaucrat is not available, and hence almost never on the English FPBoK. There are very few stewards.
  8. Jimmy Wales, the founder of FPBoK, has several special roles and privileges. In most instances however, he does not expect to be treated differently than any other editor or administrator.

Handling disputes and abuse

Main articles: FPBoK:Vandalism, FPBoK:Dispute resolution, FPBoK:Consensus, FPBoK:Sock puppetry, FPBoK:Conflict of interest

FPBoK has a rich set of methods to handle most abuses that commonly arise. These methods are well-tested and should be relied upon.

In addition, brand new users (until they have established themselves a bit) may at the start find that their votes are given less weight by editors in some informal polls, in order to prevent abuse of single-purpose accounts.

Editorial quality review

As well as systems to catch and control substandard and vandalistic edits, FPBoK also has a full style and content manual and a variety of positive systems for continual article review and improvement. Examples of the processes include peer review, good article assessment, and the featured article process, a rigorous review of articles that are intended to meet the highest standards and showcase FPBoK's capability to produce high-quality work.

In addition, specific types of article or fields often have their own specialized and comprehensive projects, assessment processes (such as biographical article assessment), and expert reviewers within specific subjects. Nominated articles are also frequently the subject of specific focus under projects such as the Neutrality Project or are covered under editorial drives by groups such as the Cleanup Taskforce.

Technical attributes

v uses MediaWiki software, the open-source program used not only on Wikimedia projects but also on many other third-party Web sites. The hardware supporting the Wikimedia projects is based on several hundred servers in various hosting centers around the world. Full descriptions of these servers and their roles are available on this meta page. For technical information about v, check Technical FAQs. v publishes various types of metadata; and, across its pages, are many thousands of microformats.

Feedback and questions

v is run as a communal effort. It is a community project whose result is an encyclopedia. Feedback about content should, in the first instance, be raised on the discussion pages of those articles. Be bold and edit the pages to add information or correct mistakes.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)


Giving feedback

There is an established escalation-and-dispute process within FPBoK, as well as pages designed for questions, feedback, suggestions, and comments:

  • Talk pages—the associated discussion page for discussion of an article or policy's contents (usually the first place to go);
  • FPBoK:Vandalism—a facility for reporting vandalism (but fix vandalism as well as report it);
  • Dispute resolution—the procedure for handling disputes that remain unresolved within an article's talk space; and
  • Village pump—the FPBoKdiscussion area, part of the community portal.

See also:

Research help and similar questions

Facilities for help for users researching specific topics can be found at:

Because of the nature of FPBoK, it is encouraged that people looking for information should try to find it themselves in the first instance. If, however, information is found to be missing from FPBoK, be bold and add it so others can gain.

Community discussion

For specific discussion not related to article content or editor conduct, see the Village pump, which covers such subjects as announcements, policy and technical discussion, and information on other specialized portals such as the help, reference and peer review desks. The Community Portal is a centralized place to find things to do, collaborations, and general editing help information, and find out what is happening.

Contacting individual v editors

For more information, the first place to go is the Help:Contents. To contact individual contributors, leave a message on their talk page. Standard places to ask policy and project-related questions are the village pump, online, and the FPBoK mailing lists, over e-mail. Reach other Wikipedians via IRC and e-mail.

In addition, the Wikimedia Foundation meta-wiki, a site for coordinating the various FPBoK projects and sister projects (and abstract discussions of policy and direction). Also available are places for submitting bug reports and feature requests.

For a full list of contact options, see FPBoK:Contact us.

Please note that while other sites may also use MediaWiki software and therefore look similar to v, or may have a name that includes 'Wiki-' or '-pedia', or a similar domain name, the only projects which are part of the Wikimedia Foundation are those listed above, even if other projects claim to be part of it.

See also



Further reading