Wikipedia:The rules are principles

Our policies reflect certain principles; understanding these principles, is more important than understanding the rules

The rules are principles, not laws, on Wikipedia. Policies and guidelines exist only as rough approximations of their underlying principles. They are not intended to provide an exact or complete definition of the principles in all circumstances. They must be understood in context, using some sense and discretion.

The rules are guidance on those principles. They help editors understand those ideals in a concrete fashion. We should neither restrict our discretion, nor disregard policies and guidelines. Finding an appropriate balance is not always an easy task, and should be done in the context of the principles supporting them and the improvement of the encyclopedia.

Purpose of the principles

The principles, and accompanying rules, on Wikipedia are solely intended towards creating and distributing a free, quality encyclopedia to everyone. The requirements of verifiability, reliable sourcing and other content rules seem the "most obvious" to many contributors. However, all of the principles are equally central to this goal. The principle underlying the behavioral rules allows us to work towards a healthy collaborative environment for contributors. The principle underlying our non-free content criteria is intended to ensure we protect the mission of a free encyclopedia. The rules exist to support Wikipedia's mission and should be interpreted in that context.

Jimbo Wales once spoke these wise words:

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