How Wikipedia Works/Chapter 7

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Chapter 7: Cleanup, Projects, Policy, and Processes[edit | edit source]

Please don't say you're at a loss for something to do on Wikipedia today. There is far too much that needs to be fixed for that! Wikipedia's broad concept of cleanup includes most tasks to improve articles once they have been created. Any time you need a break from writing new articles, you'll find plenty of work waiting for you on existing ones.

Work on Wikipedia is self-directed. You can create your own tasks or look into the wide variety of projects and processes for improving and maintaining Wikipedia content in particular areas. You can almost always find someone else who is interested in working in the same areas as you are.

In this chapter, we'll talk about some of the available cleanup tasks and the collaborative projects that have been set up for maintaining articles. We'll also introduce processes, the review structures that have been set up to allow interested editors to discuss articles and perform certain formal tasks. Processes are the practical implementation of policies and provide a structure for day-to-day work. We'll discuss two of the biggest processes: deleting articles and promoting good content. The activities described in this chapter are at the heart of the collaborative editing and article improvement that make Wikipedia work.

Cleanup[edit | edit source]

If you see a message with a yellow bar at the beginning of an article, along with the icon of a broom chasing out the dust, that's a tag indicating the article needs to be cleaned up. Although the majority of articles could be improved—after all, Wikipedia is never finished—some are clearly in more desperate need of help than others. These neglected articles require cleanup.

Cleanup is simply the general term for improving articles. The vast majority of tasks on Wikipedia fall under this broad heading: Sourcing, formatting, rewriting, and linking are all cleanup tasks. Although anyone is free to work on any task at any time, Wikipedia has developed a variety of mechanisms to sort out articles in need of help, so editors can find them and address cleanup issues more easily. In this section, we'll describe the basic mechanism for identifying and flagging articles as needing help, and then we'll discuss the broad categories of issues and how to find articles with these issues.

Spending at least some time on cleanup tasks is helpful for any Wikipedian. Working on articles that need to be cleaned up reveals the kinds of problems that Wikipedia faces, and dealing with similar issues and problems in a number of articles is an excellent way to learn Wikipedia style and develop proficiency at encyclopedic writing (and by extension, any type of writing). Cleanup is also one of the best ways to contribute; Wikipedia always has a tremendous backlog of cleanup needing to be done. Thoroughly improving a poorly written article can also be immensely satisfying: You can always compare the before and after versions of the article from the page history to see just how much you accomplished.

Most people start volunteering by exploring and trying out small cleanup jobs. Try different kinds of editing tasks to see what suits you. The authors of this book have different tasks they like to do on Wikipedia: Phoebe likes merging and fact-checking, whereas Charles prefers creating redirects. Many people end up focusing on one or two tasks—copyediting or referencing, for instance. As described in "Projects: Working to Improve Content" on Section 3, “Projects: Working to Improve Content”, many of these tasks have dedicated WikiProjects where groups of interested editors work on them: WikiProject League of Copyeditors (shortcut WP:LoCE) caters to those interested in stylistic editing, whereas WikiProject Fact and Reference Check (shortcut WP:FACT) is for fact-checkers. 1.1. Flagging Articles

When editors encounter articles that need to be cleaned up, they have two options: They can immediately fix the problems, or they can flag the article with a message describing the problem for another editor to clean up later. Once articles have been flagged, other editors can then systematically work their way through all the ones tagged as having a particular issue.

These flags or tags are the cleanup messages you'll see at the top of many articles. They are produced by templates, small pieces of code that can be included on pages to produce standardized messages. As noted in Chapter 5, Basic Editing, to add a template to a page, you simply enclose the name of the template in double curly brackets and place it on the page where you want it to appear.

For instance, you can find the generic cleanup template at Template:Cleanup. To flag an article as needing cleanup using this template, insert this code at the very top of the article:


This will create the message shown in Figure 7.1, “The cleanup template message”.

Figure 7.1. The cleanup template message The cleanup template message

If an article has several issues, multiple cleanup templates may be stacked on top of each other. An editor may also replace a general cleanup message with a more specific message as the particular issue becomes clear: For instance, if the article needs to be rewritten for clarity, you would flag it with the {{confusing}} template instead of the more general {{cleanup}} template. Template messages now exist for most conceivable problems. The long list of cleanup messages is available here (shortcut WP:TC); we also list some of these templates in the sections that follow.

If an editor fixes an article so the cleanup message is no longer needed, he or she can remove the template message by simply editing the page and removing the template tag. If the editor only partially addresses the problem, he or she may remove only the appropriate template message if more than one has been added to the article or add a note on the talk page detailing what's been done and what's left to do. Although an editor sometimes forgets to remove a template when cleaning up an article, be careful about removing templates if you aren't sure all the issues have been addressed because content-related templates also serve as warnings to readers.

Most cleanup templates can also be dated, so you can see how long an article has been in need of cleanup. For the general cleanup tag, adding a date looks like this:

{{cleanup|date=November 2007}}

This tag adds the date to the template message and sorts the article into a cleanup-by-month category.

Although the cleanup process is thus somewhat subjective—no hard and fast rules on when to add any particular template exist, and anyone can add or remove templates—using the template message system allows several different editors (who may otherwise never be in touch) to clean up an article using a loose process and helps readers know when an article has problems. 1.2. Cleanup Categories

Adding a cleanup message to an article will automatically place the article in an associated cleanup category. This way editors can easily find all the articles tagged as needing a certain kind of cleanup; they can simply go to the category and get to work. For instance, articles tagged with {{cleanup}} are placed in the category "All pages needing cleanup". Articles tagged with a dated cleanup tag are automatically sorted into a cleanup-by-month category as well so those with older tags can be worked on first. This also makes the large cleanup category more manageable. If you edit out the template to remove it, the article will automatically be removed from the cleanup category.

Of course, flagging articles is easier than actually cleaning them up. This is reflected in some of the large cleanup categories. These categories have backlogs—large numbers of articles awaiting attention. Wikipedia's rapid growth has perhaps made this inevitable. Because there is so much to do, adding a template for every issue isn't really helpful, as this may, in fact, mask an article's worst issues; if a quick edit can resolve the problem, instead of adding a template, go ahead and fix it (the sofixit principle described in Chapter 13, Policy and Your Input). Make sure, however, that you flag the biggest issues if you can't fix them right away. As of early 2008, roughly 31,000 articles are in the category "All pages needing cleanup". Working in this category can be overwhelming; on the other hand, 31,000 represents less than 2 percent of the total number of articles on Wikipedia at this time.

Cleanup Tasks[edit | edit source]

The most comprehensive place to look for a list of collaborative cleanup projects is Wikipedia:Maintenance (shortcut WP:MAINT). This page gives an overview of all sorts of cleanup tasks, from the simple to the complex. So many tasks are listed that you might not know where to start. What is WikiProject Red Link Recovery? Well, this project aims to turn redlinks to bluelinks by automating the process of finding close title matches and suggesting redirects.

If you would rather edit by topic, joining a WikiProject may be the best route (see "WikiProjects" on Section 3.1, “WikiProjects”). Alternatively, you can simply scan a list of articles in any topic area to find one that looks interesting and is in need of help. Try Category "To do", which shows articles with to-do lists on their talk pages or "Wikipedia:Cleanup" for a selected list of articles that need to be cleaned up, along with brief explanations of what needs to be done. If you can clean up one of these articles completely, simply edit the page to remove it from the list.

Cleanup may be basic Wikipedia work, but it still offers challenges and interesting insights. Sometimes articles will require complete restructuring. Some will need to be rewritten: Refer to "Handling Major Editing Tasks" on Section 1.3, “Handling Major Editing Tasks” for a general approach to handling major edits, and heed the advice in Chapter 6, Good Writing and Research about keeping the material that can be saved and working so cleanup doesn't leave big breaks and surprise diffs in the page history. 2.1. Rewriting

Every article in Wikipedia should aspire to elegant and clear prose that explains a topic gracefully and logically. Unfortunately, this aspiration is far from always being realized.

Poor writing creeps into Wikipedia in different ways:

An article may start with a poorly written draft. The original author may not be a proficient writer or English may be his or her second language.

An article may have gradually become unclear. Articles that have been copyedited in pieces over time, improving the wording but neglecting the logical flow, may still need to be thoroughly rewritten. Perhaps small pieces of information have been added over time, but the article now lacks structure.

Finally, an article may be clearly written but have an inappropriate tone or style for an encyclopedia. An article may lack a neutral point of view, demonstrating an editorial bias toward an event, a product, or a person. An article may also read like a press release, a product announcement, or even an advertisement.

Articles that need language help can be flagged in a variety of ways. Additionally, many of the articles flagged with the generic cleanup tag actually need to be rewritten.

Numerous explicit cleanup tags address the question of poor writing. To see articles flagged with any of these templates, you can go to the template page (such as Template:Copyedit); generally, the categories articles are placed into will be noted here, or you can click What Links Here from the template page. For instance:

{{copyedit}} Addresses any problem with grammar, style, cohesion, tone or spelling {{advert}}, {{fansite}}, {{gameguide}}, {{likeresume}}, {{newsrelease}}, {{obit}}, {{review}}, {{story}} Address problems with inappropriate tone and style

The "Fix Crappy Prose" Challenge[edit | edit source]

Everyone reading this who thinks they're a pretty good writer should click the Random Article link in the left-hand sidebar 20 times and rewrite any crappy prose in the articles you find, without sacrificing facts. Do this at least once a week. Detail and accuracy beat eloquence when the choice arises, but that does not justify bad prose. (Adapted from User:David Gerard)

{{abbreviations}}, {{buzzword}}, {{cleanup-jargon}}, {{inappropriate person}}, {{quotefarm}}, {{toospecialized}} Address composition problems

{{contradict}}, {{misleading}}, {{unbalanced}}, {{limitedgeographicscope}}, {{weasel}} Address problems with content and presentation

Depending on the level of problems, many approaches to rewriting articles exist. Guidelines for good articles are given in the Manual of Style and a variety of essays on the subject (see Chapter 6, Good Writing and Research), but the most important goal is that information be clearly conveyed to the reader, in line with the content policies. For unclear wording, consider clearer ways to provide explanations without sacrificing facts or ideas. Readers will benefit when you're done. To find other editors interested in writing and copyediting, consider joining the League of Copyeditors WikiProject.

Expanding Stubs[edit | edit source]

Stub articles are beginning articles that need to be expanded with more information on the topic. Hundreds of thousands of articles have been marked as stubs in all topic areas—so many that stub-sorting by topic is itself a key maintenance task. If you don't want to write an entire article from scratch but enjoy the research and writing process, try expanding one of these articles. Don't forget, however, that new information should be well referenced.

A list of all stub types (which, in turn, links to specific categories for each type) is maintained at Wikipedia:WikiProject Stub sorting. When working on these articles, review more mature articles in the same topic area. What information is missing? Does an article about an author, for instance, contain a bibliography of the author's work?

Wikipedia has no hard-and-fast rules about how long a stub can get before it is no longer a stub. If an article seems reasonably complete or it seems like a long article, you can probably remove the stub message. If an article seems longer than a stub but still needs to be expanded, flag it with the {{expand}} template.

Wikification[edit | edit source]

Wikification is the changing of any text into wikitext, including marking it with wikisyntax, structuring the article into logical sections, and adding internal links. Wikification can easily turn into rewriting and fact-checking because, fundamentally, you are converting ordinary prose into Wikipedia hypertext. Wikification, in this broader sense, means "formatting according to Wikipedia style." Experienced Wikipedia editors probably wikify before serious rewriting for prose style because wikification brings articles closer to encyclopedic considerations and helps flag related material in other articles.

When you wikify, be alert to other issues:

If the article is a dead-end article with no wikilinks leading from it, check What Links Here to make sure the article isn't also an orphan article without incoming links. These two problems often occur in the same article. Part of wikifying may be adding appropriate links to the article from other pages.

You may need to add sections to the text or rewrite the lead topic sentence to be more encyclopedic. If the whole logical flow of an article is wrong, give that the highest priority of all.

Poorly formatted content should usually also be examined for compliance with notability standards and factual accuracy as well; poor formatting is often a sign that the content was added by someone unfamiliar with Wikipedia.

Wrong tone can be a clue to copyright issues; see "Copyright Violations" on Section 2.4.2, “Copyright Violations”.

Formatting Articles[edit | edit source]

Sometimes articles in need of stylistic help turn out to not be suitable for the encyclopedia: They may duplicate other older articles, be about non-notable topics, or even be hoaxes. If you see an article with a questionable topic, don't be afraid to ask for a second opinion before spending a great deal of time formatting it. You may also need to add other tags to the article as you edit, such as Citation Needed for questionable statements.

Flag articles that need to be wikified by using the {{wikify}} template (Figure 7.2, “Wikify template message”). The article will then be added to Category:Articles that need to be wikified. The Wikification effort is supported by Wikipedia:WikiProject Wikify (shortcut WP:WWF). A related cleanup tag is {{sections}}, which places articles in Category:Articles needing sections.

Fact-Checking and Referencing[edit | edit source]

Good sources boost the quality of articles. Sources give the reader a place to find more information when they have finished reading the Wikipedia article, as well helping to ensure stated facts are accurate. Verifiability and Reliable Sources (shortcuts WP:V and WP:RS) are key content policies, as discussed in Chapter 1, What's in Wikipedia?. However, verifiability, which means the ability to verify something in principle, differs from actually providing verifiable sources. Many Wikipedia articles fall a little short here. Older articles from the more free-wheeling days on Wikipedia may not cite sources at all, whereas other articles may cite sources for only a few of the ideas in the text or not contain footnotes in the text itself.

Sourcing is an ongoing process: Compiling a good bibliography for any topic, even a small one, is a big task. For some topics, you may have trouble finding any reliable sources, and accurate referencing work in these instances is particularly valuable. When original authors do not source their facts, various fact-checking projects perform this work.

Wikipedia has several templates that alert both editors and readers that citations are needed in an article:

{{unreferenced}} This template places articles in Category:Articles lacking sources. Use when an article doesn't cite any sources at all.

{{refimprove}} This template places articles in Category:Articles lacking reliable references. Use when some sources exist but more are needed.

{{citeneeded}} The more usual {{citeneeded}} or {{fact}} both place an article in Category:All articles with unsourced statements. Unlike the first two templates, add these templates inline in the article text wherever the problem occurs. For instance, if an article contains a questionable or controversial statement that needs a reference, you can insert the {{fact}} template at the end of the sentence in question.

Sourcing can be time-consuming, but you can add sources to articles gradually. If you can find an outside, reliable source for just one fact mentioned in an article, adding a footnote with this source is quite helpful. If you have a more general source for the article's subject but haven't used it as a source for specific facts in the article, consider starting a Further reading or External links section and listing the source as a place for readers to get more information. For instance, you may want to list definitive biographies for articles on noteworthy people in Further reading or add links to online primary source documents for historical articles in External links. Every article should be as well sourced as possible.

If you are knowledgeable about a particular topic area and want to concentrate on finding sources for that area, joining a WikiProject (as described in "Projects: Working to Improve Content" on Section 3, “Projects: Working to Improve Content”) is the easiest way to find articles on that topic that need to be improved.

Help, an Article About Me Is Incorrect![edit | edit source]

Wikipedia does not want articles to include mistaken statements, particularly those damaging to people or commercial ventures. On the other hand, Wikipedia content is not determined by outside pressures; neutrality is a key principle, and Wikipedia is not a mechanism for promotion. Therefore, inaccurate information and unfair criticism without a factual basis should not appear in Wikipedia articles; but fair criticism, properly sourced and presented in a balanced way, is not going to be removed from Wikipedia just because the subject or anyone else wants it removed.

If an article about you or your company is factually incorrect, you have several options, but you should first assess the best way to get corrections made.

Discussion[edit | edit source]

First, remember to take into account the guidelines and policies presented in Chapter 1, What's in Wikipedia?. All articles must be neutrally presented, factually accurate and verifiable, and about notable, encyclopedic topics. Issues regarding factual inaccuracies can be discussed on the talk page for any article. This is the best first step toward getting a problem resolved. Give a calm account of where the article is factually wrong, and back up your argument with outside references. This should prompt those editing the article to correct it.

Editing[edit | edit source]

You can also, of course, simply edit the article; but before doing so, please consult Wikipedia:Conflict of interest (shortcut WP:COI). This guideline distinguishes defamatory comments (which anyone, including you, may remove) from other inaccuracies. Two further relevant pages are Wikipedia:Biographies of Living persons (shortcut WP:BLP) and Wikipedia:Autobiography (shortcut WP:AUTO). Wikipedia has strict guidelines on what can be written about living people, and WP:BLP will help you argue for deletion if someone has posted a hostile piece about you. On the other hand, WP:AUTO (subordinate to the conflict of interest guideline) explains why autobiographical writing is strongly discouraged—under most circumstances, you should not edit an article about yourself.

Email route

If discussing the issue on the talk page does not resolve it, even after you have drawn an administrator's attention to it, do not be tempted to force the issue, make threats, or abuse the editors who are working on the article. Those approaches are likely to be counterproductive. Your best recourse is to send an email, as explained at Wikipedia:OTRS (shortcut WP:OTRS), detailing the problem. This channel is the official complaint mechanism. If your complaint has any substance, an experienced volunteer will review the article and work to resolve problems. 2.4.2. Copyright Violations

You can often spot copyright violations on Wikipedia simply by their tone. Material from another source usually doesn't read like an encyclopedia article. Most copyright violations are caused by people cutting and pasting material from other sites into an article, which you can detect by searching the Web for the passage. Be sure to search for selected phrases from middle or particular unlikely sounding sentences; editors tend to change introductory and concluding sentences.

If you locate a probable source for some article text, the next question is how much text was copied. If only a sentence or two was copied and the source is simply unattributed, then rewriting and citing the source may solve the problem. If, however, an entire article or most of it has been copied from a single source (as is more common with cut-and-paste violations), then a copyright violation has occurred. Be aware, though, that Wikipedia does include, legitimately, much public domain text and that other sites mirror Wikipedia content—double-check that the other website is not copying Wikipedia, rather than the other way around!

You have a few options for removing copyright violations:

First, the text can be reverted to a good version. Check the page history to see if a clean version exists; if so, simply revert to this good version, adding an appropriate edit summary.

If you're having trouble figuring out if a good version exists, you can always rewrite the text yourself. Be careful that you aren't simply paraphrasing. Strip out most of the detail and start over, citing each fact to a source as you reinsert it. Be sure to add a note to the talk page explaining why you cut article text.

If you are unable to revert or rewrite, flag confirmed copyright violations using the {{copyvio}} tag, which will place the article in a category of possible copyright violations for experienced editors to check.

If you aren't certain that a copyright violation has occurred, use {{copyvio|url=}}, which will trigger a more measured deletion process. After the equal sign, paste in the URL from which you think the material may have been copied. Detailed instructions can be found at Wikipedia:Copyright problems (shortcut WP:CP).

If you are sure the article violates copyright and that the text or topic doesn't seem to have any redeeming value, you may want to use the speedy delete tag {{db-copyvio}}, which will ensure rapid administrator attention (see "Deletion Processes" on Section 4.2.1, “Deletion Processes”).

See Wikipedia:Spotting possible copyright violations (shortcut WP:SPCP) for more information. If your copyright is being infringed in an article, see Wikipedia:Contact us/Article problem/Copyright; several experienced editors work on resolving copyright issues

Vandalism Patrolling[edit | edit source]

Vandalism patrolling, though formally neither a project nor a process, is some of the most important ongoing work on Wikipedia. Vandalism is, by definition, a change made to Wikipedia with the malicious intention of having a negative effect on the content. Disputes over content may lead to accusations of vandalism, but no editor should ever use the word lightly—always assume good faith unless you have very good reason not to. Any good-faith effort to improve the encyclopedia, even if misguided or ill-considered, is not vandalism. See Wikipedia:Vandalism (shortcut WP:VAN) for a general perspective on the topic and Wikipedia:Administrator intervention against vandalism (shortcut WP:AIV) for a place to file reports against the most problematic editors.

Anyone can just revert obvious vandalism that they see, of course; check the history page and then edit or use the undo version if you're logged in to revert an article to a version before the vandalism occurred, as explained in Chapter 5, Basic Editing. (With either method, check the diff of the current version with the version you are reverting to make sure you're only undoing vandalism, and then add an edit summary: rvv vandalism is common.) Many editors use their watchlists for just this purpose, scanning the list of changes on a regular basis to check for suspect edits that might be vandalism. Others devote substantial time to watching Recent Changes and other logs. Most vandalism is obvious: cutting content for no reason or inserting obscenities, crude humor, or nonsense. If you find a vandalized page, you should spend a couple of minutes reviewing the page history; vandal edits tend to be clustered, and you may have to revert several edits to find the "latest good version" or a version of the page that hasn't been vandalized at all (see "Fixing Mistakes and Other Reasons to Revert" on Section 1.4, “Fixing Mistakes and Other Reasons to Revert”).

If you can't tell whether an edit is vandalism, check the diff of the edit along with the editing history of the user who made the edit to make a final determination. If an edit seems potentially realistic but is unsourced and uncommented, you can always tag it appropriately (with the Citation Needed template, for instance), leave a comment on the talk page, or revert it but copy the text of the edit to the talk page for others to verify one way or the other.

Most vandalism follows a pattern. The soft security concept, which will be discussed again in Chapter 12, Community and Communication, is worth mentioning here. Wikipedia is open to everyone, so bad edits will happen. As noted in Chapter 4, Understanding and Evaluating an Article, however, most of these edits are caught quickly. The offenders are often young, and most vandalism is juvenile. Some persistent or more subtle vandals can succeed for a while. But Wikipedia defends in depth, not just with one front line. Wikipedia works by self-healing.

Many tools and systems have been developed to detect (and sometimes automatically correct) vandal edits; the Counter-Vandalism Unit, found at Wikipedia:Counter-Vandalism Unit (shortcut WP:CVU), is a collection of editors interested in this work (Figure 7.4, “Counter-Vandalism Unit logo” shows its logo).

Cleanup Editing Tools[edit | edit source]

Besides vandalism repair, many cleanup editing tasks (such as correcting spelling or fixing typos) are repetitive, and for these you can use editing tools. These tools help power editors get dull tasks done quickly (though editors are always responsible for the edits they make, regardless of whether they used an automated tool or not).

One popular application is the AutoWiki Browser. Here is a description from its page at Wikipedia:AutoWikiBrowser (shortcut WP:AWB):

The AutoWikiBrowser is a semi-automated Wikipedia editor for Microsoft Windows 2000/XP (or newer) designed to make tedious repetitive tasks quicker and easier. It is essentially a browser that automatically opens up a new page when the last is saved. When set to do so, it suggests some changes (typically formatting) that are generally meant to be incidental to the main change.

This tool and other automated tools are meant for experienced editors only; learn the ropes by editing by hand. You can find many other tools, including tools for editing quickly, at Wikipedia:Tools.

Further Reading

General Cleanup Tasks


Expansion and Stubs


Copyright Violations



Cleanup Editing Tools

Projects: Working to Improve Content[edit | edit source]

The fundamental problem of the Wikipedia method is that massive collaboration is *hard*. David Gerard, WikiEN-l mailing list, 9 October 2007

After being created by individuals, articles are often brought up to a much higher standard within the broader community of Wikipedia editors. Two types of systems, projects and processes, have developed to work on Wikipedia content from different directions. Projects are loose social groups on the site. In contrast, processes, discussed later in the chapter, focus on making editorial and other decisions following specific guidelines. In other words, projects use the more casual idea of workflow, but processes move articles or decisions from one stage to another, more like a factory.

WikiProjects[edit | edit source]

A WikiProject is a loose grouping of editors who have banded together. There isn't actually a WikiProject Frogs—but there is a WikiProject Amphibians and Reptiles. WikiProject Philately and WikiProject Skateboarding both exist as well. Some projects are quite specific, whereas others focus on a broad area, such as WikiProject Chemistry, which works on articles related to all areas of chemistry (Figure 7.5, “The WikiProject Chemistry page”). WikiProject Novels "aims to define a standard of consistency for articles about Novels." This aim is typical for a WikiProject: to prescribe certain aspects of structure or format for articles. Such a project takes an interest in developing helpful templates and guidelines for writing about a particular subject area. Projects may also work on rating articles in their area, developing portals and other navigational structures, and determining what articles are missing.

A Note on Naming[edit | edit source]

WikiProjects are pages that exist within the Wikipedia namespace. The convention for naming them is to use WikiProject (with the P capitalized) and then the name of the project. Thus the full internal page name to link to, for instance, WikiProject Chemistry, is Wikipedia:WikiProject Chemistry.

Wikipedia has hundreds of different projects, each addressing a topic area or specific maintenance or cleanup task. The best reason to participate in projects is that they operate on a smaller scale, whereas Wikipedia is enormous. Within the big city of Wikipedia, projects operate more like a small village, where it's easier to to get to know and work with other editors who are interested in the same topics.

There are two types of WikiProjects:

Topical WikiProjects[edit | edit source]

These projects focus on improving and managing articles in a single topic area. They usually serve as a place for documenting and discussing changes and provide a natural forum (on the talk page for the project's main page) for discussing a topic area. They may provide centralized "to-do" lists for coordinating articles among interested editors.

Maintenance WikiProjects[edit | edit source]

These projects focus on Wikipedia maintenance and general cleanup tasks by coordinating efforts to clean up needy articles, perhaps using several template types. These projects simply help aggregate the work with formal project pages that describe the tasks needing to be done and techniques for doing them.

A list of both types of projects can be found at Wikipedia:WikiProject_Council/Directory.

To join a WikiProject, simply add your username to the list of interested editors and take on one of the jobs that might be listed. Of course, you don't have to join a project before working on articles in that area! People generally take on tasks on their own initiative. Formal assignments and other kinds of top-down management are pretty much nonexistent. Projects vary in their level of formality and activity; some have editors who provide regular updates about a topic area and active groups who work on tasks or rate articles, whereas other projects simply provide an occasionally updated list of articles that need work.

Any editor who thinks they have a good idea for a project can create a project page, and then other interested editors are free to join the project and get to work. If you see a need for a new WikiProject, you can start one easily. You'll find more information at Wikipedia:WikiProject (shortcut WP:PROJ) and Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Guide (shortcut WP:PROJGUIDE). You don't need special permission before starting a new project, but you might want to ask around—the success of any new project depends on attracting others to help out.

Wikiportals[edit | edit source]

Portals, those inviting pages with a collection of related articles and projects described in Chapter 3, Finding Wikipedia's Content, are not generally under the direct control of WikiProjects. On the other hand, a natural relationship exists between a portal on a topic and a WikiProject on the same topic. WikiProject Poetry announces, "Help is needed in maintaining the Portal:Poetry, including adding quotes, poems, articles, and other material for future weeks." A portal is a natural entry point on the site for a browsing reader, so a WikiProject often aims to sustain and improve a matching portal or to set one up if needed. Portals also often provide a list of articles that need work in their particular subject area, so look here if you're searching for articles to work on. Portal:Contents/Portals provides a list of portals, organized by topic.

Most portals use a standardized layout that relies heavily on templates and subpages. Setting up a new portal does not require any special permissions, but you'll find that understanding templates before you begin is helpful. Try working on other portals first to get a sense of how they function. See Wikipedia:Portal/Instructions for a detailed guide on how to create a new portal.

Writing Collaborations[edit | edit source]

A writing or article collaboration is simply a drive to improve a particular article. Some people prefer to work on their own, but others enjoy the more focused push that a writing collaboration offers. When several people work on a particular article, it can improve very quickly.

Most of the WikiProjects use collaborations. Some are based on periods of time, such as an article of the week, where the group selects one article for dedicated improvement efforts that week. One long-standing project that is not topic-specific is the Article Collaboration and Improvement Drive, which picks articles to collaborate on that need work. Often the articles, selected by popular vote, are on core topics or important articles that have been neglected in favor of more specialized subjects. Broad topics can be surprisingly difficult to write about well! See Wikipedia:Article Collaboration and Improvement Drive (shortcut WP:ACID).

Another good place to find collaborations is Wikipedia:Community Portal, also accessible from the Community Portal link in the left-hand sidebar. Here, people are free to post collaborations, projects, and cleanup tasks that they want other editors to help with. On the Community Portal page, you can find an entire section devoted to collaborations; many are article collaborations in need of good editors. A further list of writing collaborations can be found at Wikipedia:Collaborations (shortcut WP:CO).

Further Reading[edit | edit source]

Processes[edit | edit source]

Editorial and management decisions have to be made all the time on Wikipedia, yet the site is far too large for a single decision-making center to be an effective solution. Decisions, small and large, are thus made in different forums, where discussions about specific topics are clearly structured. Processes are not formally directed, but they generally follow specific, agreed-on rules for making decisions. Processes are clearly structured, while projects rarely are, and are more like a conveyor belt for processing decisions. Several processes are based on official policy, such as the deletion policy. Anyone can participate in a process; interested editors simply go to the process page to add their views.

Technically, a Wikipedia process is a page, or a suite of pages, normally found in the Wikipedia namespace where editors discuss proposed decisions. Processes are public, open, and transparent. They are also confidence-building mechanisms, as they help ensure that the rules are the same for all editors and topics, and everyone can see (and double-check) that others are playing fair and that the rules do not suddenly change. As the essay Wikipedia:Practical process says:

We're here to write an encyclopedia. Process is the temporary scaffolding we put up to help us write an encyclopedia. Having no process or not working to established process leads to chaos. We use process: 1. To give some consistency in similar situations. This helps process feel fair, even though precedent is not binding on Wikipedia. 2. To reduce the redundant effort of making each and every decision from first principles. 3. To encourage institutional learning and lead to a higher overall quality of decision making.

Most processes rely on community consensus as well as policy for making decisions. Consensus, as used on Wikipedia, is an unusual and specific term. Within the context of processes, consensus means general agreement among participants within a specified time period (almost all processes put time limits on discussion). Sometimes a specific type of voting is used, as in article deletion discussions where editors include their name and whether or not they think the article should be deleted; but even in these situations, everyone understands this is not really a vote—compelling arguments that follow policy are treated with more weight than a simple yes or no.

Wikipedia's processes are, therefore, systems for getting certain things done. Process, community, and policy: These are key concepts for how Wikipedia works—the real Wikipedia, not a utopian clone. Although Wikipedia has very few committees, it has many processes, each open to anyone who is willing to do the work to understand the issues involved in that particular decision.

Processes should generally be followed, unless very good reasons are given for not doing so; for example, administrators can delete pages out of process, but they risk inciting controversy if they do. On the other hand, processes have a tendency to get out of control, and rule-bound processes should not exist for their own sake. The process is important—red tape is not. The anti-bureaucratic nature of Wikipedia is set in context on the official policy page, Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not. Searching on WP:BURO takes you directly to the section Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy. This section is worth quoting in full (from July 11, 2007):

Wikipedia is not a moot court, and rules are not the purpose of the community. Instruction creep should be avoided. A perceived procedural error made in posting anything, such as an idea or nomination, is not grounds for invalidating that post. Follow the spirit, not the letter, of any rules, policies and guidelines if you feel they conflict. Disagreements should be resolved through consensus-based discussion, rather than through tightly sticking to rules and procedures.

In other words, process should not become legalistic. Processes can get out of control and having processes that insist on following their own rules no matter what should be avoided. We'll return to this idea in Chapter 13, Policy and Your Input (see "Ignore All Rules and Be Bold" on Section 1, “The Spirit of Wikipedia”). 4.1. What Processes Cover

Wikipedia has numerous processes, dealing with both content and community. These processes include some that implement Wikipedia's official policies, such as the deletion processes, the Featured Article candidate process, the various dispute resolution processes, and the Request for Adminship process for administrator promotion. Other processes focus on making specific maintenance tasks routine, such as renaming categories or approving bots.

One notable exception is resolving disputes over article content. You might believe that an encyclopedic wiki should start with a clear idea of this process. No such process exists and will not likely ever exist. This design decision is one of the keys to Wikipedia's model.

Deletion processes deal with the question of whether a topic should be covered at all, and dispute resolution processes help editors who are arguing come to agreement. But Wikipedia has no formal form of adjudication for rival views of suitable article content. Editors are supposed to engage with others about their differing conceptions and deal with disagreements through discussion and common sense and with the assumption that everyone is on the encyclopedia's side. A content decision process would turn into an editorial board for the site, which is against the fundamental ideas of openness and community that are key to Wikipedia. Status on Wikipedia does not allow anyone to dictate content.

In this section, we'll cover the two major content processes that do exist: deleting articles and featuring articles. In later chapters, we'll look at community processes, including dispute resolution. 4.2. Deleting Articles

Wikipedia is growing at a tremendous rate, but a great deal of content is also deleted—hundreds or thousands of articles are deleted from Wikipedia every day. Clearly, not all articles that are created belong in the encyclopedia, but what should stay and what should go is not always obvious. The article deletion process is used to decide what should be deleted. Primarily used as a housekeeping measure, this process is mainly applied to poorly chosen topics—ones that don't, and can't, lead to proper encyclopedia articles.

Deleting an article is the only way to remove content from the encyclopedia entirely, so readers cannot see the page or the page's history. Deleting is not the same thing as blanking a page by saving an empty revision; in deletion, the history of a deleted article, with access to all revisions, is also deleted. All traces of contributions to that article also disappear from the site—changes to a deleted article won't appear in user contributions, watchlists, Recent Changes, or Related Changes. The articles do not vanish entirely, however; deleted articles are still visible to administrators, which allows them to review deletions and restore content (undeleting) in case a mistake was made. Each deleted article is also logged in a special list, the deletion log, at Special:Logs.

Only Wikipedia's administrators may delete articles, but the deletion process is open for anyone to discuss the fate of articles proposed for deletion. Wikipedia has very specific—and complicated—rules for how pages should be deleted and a large body of past discussion on the subject. Because Wikipedia leans toward including as much as possible, deletion is generally seen as a bad solution if the article can be salvaged. Articles are not deleted when the only issue is that they need to be cleaned up or are stubs. Articles are also not deleted based on anyone's personal dislike of the subject matter—Wikipedia has no censorship. How much emphasis to put on deleting content is a long-running philosophical debate on the site; see Chapter 12, Community and Communication for a broad discussion of the "inclusionism versus deletionism" debate.

What does get deleted then? Usually, deletion is for Wikipedia's worst content. Some articles can't possibly be cleaned up. Submitted pages may be nonsense, graffiti, not in English, life stories, advertisements, blatant copyright violations, and spam articles containing nothing but the URL of a website. These examples are not particularly contentious, and many of these types of articles are deleted almost as soon as they are submitted, as part of routine vandalism control (this falls under the speedy deletion process described in the next section).

Deleting articles that were submitted in good faith but that probably violate Wikipedia's content policies is more controversial. Sometimes the violation is clear; plain dictionary definitions or pieces of original research just don't fit within the scope of the encyclopedia. Many articles are deleted because they violate the principle of notability, and this violation is harder to determine. It can also lead to contention—no one likes being told that their company is "not notable." In these deletion discussions, editors discussing the deletion may need to do outside research to find out more about the topic and thoroughly assess the article and whether it belongs in the encyclopedia. Occasionally, editors decide that although the topic doesn't merit its own article, the content should be merged or otherwise incorporated into another article.

Notability can be a problematic notion. If an article's topic violates the principle of notability, then the article will likely be deleted. But turning that around, the best working definition of notability comes from which topics are and are not deleted. Applying notability is not an exact science. As discussed in Chapter 1, What's in Wikipedia?, notability guidelines have been set up for various topics to help guide decisions, but these don't provide exact criteria. Saying that a TV actor is notable because he or she has 421 minutes on screen but not with 419 minutes on screen would be ridiculous, as would be declaring someone notable who has received 76 column inches of industry press but not with 74 inches.

On the other hand, precedent is not binding on Wikipedia—and particularly not in deletion discussions. Many Wikipedians argue that one article's existence does not mean another article on the same topic should be automatically included. For instance, just because an article about one actor is on the site does not mean an article about another actor should also be included by default. Each article should be assessed on its own merits and measured against the basic content policies. Thus deletion discussions are about individual articles, not whole classes of articles.

These complicated issues do help explain why deleting articles is a process—the process helps ensure a timely decision is made one way or another that settles the issue for the time being, if not forever. 4.2.1. Deletion Processes

Anyone can nominate articles for deletion, review the articles that have been nominated, and offer opinions on whether they should be deleted. Nearly every deletion requires some interpretation of Wikipedia policy (which is certainly not always clear-cut). Deletion processes are, however, fairly stable, well regulated, and reasonably consistent.

Of the three main ways to delete an article, Articles for Deletion (AfD) requires community discussion and a dedicated debate, whereas proposed deletions (PRODs; see WP:PROD) and speedy deletions (speedies, or sometimes CSD, which is short for Criteria for Speedy Deletion, the policy page) do not. Speedy deletions are the most common, due to the sheer volume of nonsense articles submitted. Articles that don't meet speedy deletion guidelines may get deleted though the Articles for Deletion process or the proposed deletion process instead, and contested speedy and proposed deletions are often referred to the AfD process. In other words, when the quicker deletion processes prove contentious, Wikipedia has the more serious AfD as a fallback.

Each deletion process is initiated by an editor tagging the article with a red-bar deletion template. This template adds the page to several lists for review, and in the case of AfD, the editor creates a page explaining why the article should be deleted.

Each specific deletion process covers a different type of problem article:

Speedy deletion

This process is for articles that definitely violate Wikipedia policies. Wikipedia maintains an extensive list of around 20 particular criteria for speedy deletion at Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion (shortcut WP:CSD), along with the particular deletion templates that can be used. If none of these criteria are met, one of the other deletion processes should be used. Speedy does mean quickly, however. Speedy can also occasionally mean hasty, and it should never be applied to controversial or unclear cases.

The usual process for speedy deletions is that a new-page or other vandalism patroller will discover a clearly bad article. He or she will tag the page with a speedy deletion template (Figure 7.6, “Speedy deletion message”) to add it to a list that administrators check routinely. If an administrator agrees that the page should be deleted, he or she will delete the page, citing the appropriate criteria. Speedy deletion can also be requested for non-article working pages that are no longer needed, such as user space subpages; this kind of housekeeping work is rarely contentious.

Figure 7.6. Speedy deletion message Speedy deletion message

Proposed deletion

Proposed deletions (PRODs) are gentler than speedy deletions and give the community time to review the proposal. PRODs, like speedy deletion, are also designed for deletions that are not likely to be contested, but PRODs can be used for any type of article, not just those falling under the CSD criteria.

When an editor discovers an article that he or she thinks should clearly be deleted, the editor can begin the proposed deletion process by tagging the article with the PROD template (Figure 7.7, “PROD deletion message”) and explaining why the article should be deleted. You can find the template at Template:Prod. The editor should insert the template on the page to be deleted along with this code, {{ambox|type=content|text=Was this page created by accident or as a test? Please clarify what the intentions of this page are on the discussion page. The page might be able to remain at Wikibooks after 7 days when further development is likely. , replacing reason with the specific reason for deletion.

This template remains on the article for five days, during which time the article's talk page is open for discussion. If, at any point during this time, any involved party—the original tagger, the author of the article, or another editor—thinks the article should not in fact be deleted, he or she can simply remove the template and the case is closed. This is called contesting the PROD, and at this point, if the nominator wants to pursue it, he or she must submit the article to AfD for discussion in order to delete it. If, at the end of the five days, no one contests the deletion, an administrator will review the article, the reason for deletion, and make a decision. The process is explained at Wikipedia:Proposed deletion.

Figure 7.7. PROD deletion message PROD deletion message

Articles for Deletion

This thorough discussion process is for articles flagged for potential deletion; these articles are added to a list, and other editors review them on a dedicated page. Articles for Deletion (AfD) deals with the 5 to 10 percent of seriously contested cases, as well as any deletion case where the nominator wants input from other editors. If, during the course of about a week, consensus emerges, the discussion is closed, and the decision implemented. When no consensus emerges, general practice is to keep the article. Other outcomes are possible (for example, merges or redirections). A small proportion of cases become acrimonious.

Nominating an article for this deletion process requires a few steps. First, an editor adds the AfD template to the article in question (Figure 7.8, “AfD deletion message”). Then, the editor creates a dedicated subpage from the main AfD page for discussing the article (this page is created by simply clicking a link in the deletion template). After the editor has created the subpage, he or she explains why the page should be deleted and signs his or her username. (Detailed instructions can be found at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion, shortcut WP:AFD.) Once the page has been nominated, other editors discuss the matter, adding comments that indicate whether or not they think the article should be deleted.

Figure 7.8. AfD deletion message AfD deletion message

Anyone can discuss AfD nominations by simply going to the main AfD page and adding a signed comment with his or her opinion about whether to keep or delete the article being discussed (Section 1.5.3, “On-Wiki Forums” shows a sample comment). Participating in a few debates to see what kinds of discussions crop up can be quite interesting. Some editors routinely review all the current AfD nominations, whereas others just visit the list once in a while to check if any articles they are interested in have shown up there. If you are knowledgeable about a particular subject, giving an opinion on whether a particular article or topic should be kept can be quite valuable to the process, and AfDs are now sorted by topic for those who don't want to search through all of them. Good practice for reviewing AfDs is to read the article in question thoroughly, do any other research necessary (such as looking for information online, checking backlinks, and doing basic fact-checking), and then give a reasoned opinion based on the article's content and Wikipedia's policies. AfD discussions can be lively, but certain ground rules exist: The discussion should always be about the content, not the editor who posted or nominated it, and appeals to personal taste ("I like it; I don't like it") are not helpful.

If an article is no longer relevant, having been superseded by another article, or has a bad title, a deletion discussion is not needed. Instead, turn to Chapter 8, Make and Mend Wikipedia's Web to learn how to move, merge, or redirect an article. 4.2.2. Help, My Article's Being Deleted!

Step one: Don't panic! You can often rescue an article under threat. Wikipedia has different procedures to follow if you want to contest a deletion; getting angry is not one of them.

Sometimes articles will be nominated for deletion immediately after being posted; other times, the article may have been on the site for years before someone decides it doesn't belong. Either way, contesting a deletion varies depending on the deletion process being used, but all require discussing and bringing the article up to Wikipedia's standards.

Deleting Other Kinds of Pages

AfDs, PRODs, and speedies are only for deleting articles or pages in the main namespace. Images and media are dealt with separately; see Wikipedia:Images and media for deletion (shortcut WP:IFD). Categories and templates also have their own process; see Wikipedia:Categories for discussion (shortcut WP:CFD) and Wikipedia:Templates for deletion (shortcut WP:TFD), respectively. For deleting pages in the Wikipedia or User namespace, see Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion (shortcut WP:MFD). A handful of debates occur here about unused or inappropriate material that has made its way into the project namespaces. A rare case is administrative blanking, not deleting, of project-space pages. For this, refer to Wikipedia:Deletion policy#Courtesy blanking (shortcut WP:CBLANK). This page provides a solution for old pages from deletion debates or other discussions that contain very pointed comments, for example, about specific people or companies. As a courtesy, administrators may replace the current page content to ensure that, over time, the old content becomes less prominent on search engines. Because the page itself hasn't been deleted, the content remains in the page history.

If your article is proposed for speedy deletion, don't remove the template. Instead, insert a Template:Hangon template at the top of the article in question, and then go to its talk page immediately to explain why the article is notable and worth keeping. Citing sources will also help a great deal.

You can always remove a proposed deletion tag, but then you ought to work on the article to address the issues raised by the nominator. If the article's notability has been questioned, add reliable sources that demonstrate notability. Notable sources depend on context; for instance, for a person, listing publications, awards, and honors helps to prove notability. Putting in enough effort to show the article meets notability and content standards should help prevent a subsequent nomination to AfD.

In an AfD debate, feel free to participate in the discussion. Argue your case clearly, and don't take others' comments personally. During an AfD debate, anyone can clean up the article under discussion, so you can use this opportunity to improve the article according to the critics' points. You can then explain how you've improved the article on the AfD discussion page. Asking people to reconsider based on your own cleanup and extra referencing may have very good results.

If you don't realize the article has been nominated for deletion until it's already been deleted, determine why and how it was deleted. Generally, a reason is given in the deletion log along with the deleting administrator's name. You can view this information by going to the article's title, which will now be a redlink page, displaying the Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name message. Click the Deletion Log link that appears in the middle of the page to see the deletion log entry.

Understand the common reasons for articles being deleted. Remember, you don't need to rush to get an article written and posted. Working on Wikipedia is not a race, and Wikipedia gives out no prizes for speed. Adopt a thoughtful approach, and learn the system rather than rage against it.

The most common reason articles are deleted is because they are judged to be non-notable or vanity topics. Articles about local musicians, minor executives, or other people who aren't in the news regularly are likely to be rejected. Remember not to write about yourself either; autobiographies belong on user pages or personal websites.

Here are some other common reasons for deleting articles:

Spam-like postings[edit | edit source]

Does the article read like an advertisement? Is it all about one project or company? Does it just talk about how great something is, failing to keep to a neutral tone? Content originally written for a company website or a press release is rarely suitable for Wikipedia.

Too specialist[edit | edit source]

If your article was judged as non-notable but is really part of something larger—for instance, if you're writing about a single college within a university—you may be able to include the information under the broader topic rather than write a new article about it.

Enthusiast[edit | edit source]

Specialism is a common problem with characters and elements from fiction, such as comic book and video game characters; TV episodes; individual songs; or batches of articles about minuscule parts of a fictional universe. Fancruft (sometimes shortened to just cruft) is a derogatory term for these types of articles, which are sometimes just barely tolerated. You will win friends by cleaning up the broader articles that already exist on the topic and adding detail to those first, rather than starting new articles. In some cases, the content might really belong on a more specialized wiki (see Chapter 16, Wikimedia Commons and Other Sister Projects).

They hate the way you write[edit | edit source]

Bad writing shouldn't be a valid reason for deletion rather than cleanup, but you can avoid deletion by submitting a well-written article in the first place. Many experienced editors make drafts in userspace, as was discussed in Chapter 6, Good Writing and Research, along with other writing advice.

Finally, if you're sure your article was good and was deleted by mistake, you can start a deletion review. For a PROD deletion, getting an administrator to revive the article with no special discussion is usually easy. For a speedy deletion, you'll have to show you can address the reason it was deleted. For AfD deletions, a serious appeal process has been developed (see Wikipedia:Deletion review, shortcut WP:DRV), in which another round of community discussion will take place. This process reviews and checks the procedural side of deletions, and contributors can comment on whether they think deletion was the best option or not. As the Deletion Review page says, however, the first step is to talk to the deleting administrator to see why the page was deleted. If nothing comes from the deletion review, you'll probably have to wait six months before trying to re-create the article.

If you do decide to try again, make sure you address all the criticisms brought up by reviewers and you are confident you can produce an article that meets content policies and guidelines, including Notability, Verifiability, and Neutral Point of View.

Of course, the six-month rule isn't absolute: The notability of a topic can change overnight due to current events or new reliable sources being published. However, repeatedly re-creating an article that was deleted by community consensus without improving it substantially can be considered a form of vandalism. Occasionally, repeated re-creation can lead to an administrator salting a page, which means protecting the page and adding a special template that conveys the message that Wikipedia sincerely, truly, hand-on-heart does not want an article about this topic (the term comes from the phrase "salting the earth").

A Deletion Case Study[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia is clearly not a business, but this has not stopped it appearing in a Harvard Business School case study. It was prepared by Andrew P. McAfee of the School, with Karim R. Lakhani.[22] Wikipedia's systems are put under the microscope, as they track a particular deletion debate from August 2006. This was one of the first occasions on which a Wikipedia internal process, AfD in this case, was dignified with such close academic attention. The paper used an analytical and historical approach (all the way back to Ephraim Chambers via Nupedia), amply supported by the case study of the particular deletion debate. The study is interesting for the clear picture drawn of the structures, community, admins, policies, and processes all interacting, focusing on the role of individual editors as a major factor.

The study concerns the fate of the article Enterprise 2.0, a neologism coined by McAfee himself. The topic lies on one of the fringes of Wikipedia's natural content. The classic debate on including new terms has two opposing views:

  • Wikipedia's mission is factual and has nothing to do with spreading neologisms.
  • Many people would like to refer to a discussion of a new phrase making the rounds, in Wikipedia's slightly distanced and neutral style.

These thoughts may be behind deletion debate positions, with "deletionists" (see "Wikiphilosophies" on Section 1.6, “Wikiphilosophies”) aiming to keep Wikipedia out of spreading jargon; but they have to be reconciled with the core content policies of No Original Research and Verifiability. For a neologism, you do have to go by usage in published texts, verifying that new jargon is actually used and used in the way the article claims so that the definition isn't "original research"; sometimes an article on a new phrase really should wait for good sources to appear elsewhere. Wikipedia's content and determinations of notability should never be based solely on a publicity effort.

In the end, this rather slight article survived AfD. The deletion process, decisive as it may seem, is in fact provisional. Enterprise 2.0 actually has had a checkered history since it was kept, suffering redirection to another article, then re-creation. A redirect to Enterprise social software is its status at the time of this writing.

Clearly, a neologism may flourish or it may not, and Wikipedia can and ought to update to reflect that. From this perspective, Wikipedia's social mechanisms are good, rather than weak, in their flexibility: The conclusions of AfD, or any other process on Wikipedia, are not set in stone. 4.3. Featured Articles

Rather than being deleted, some very good articles are promoted in status. Good articles (GA) and featured articles (FA) are two levels of articles that the community has determined to be some of the best content on Wikipedia. Reviewing and working constructively on articles is one of the key skills of an involved Wikipedian. This skill also applies in formal or informal peer review (as noted in Chapter 6, Good Writing and Research) and on WikiProjects. Gauge content with an eye to improving it. (Working on good articles is also recommended as an antidote to the burnout caused by the other extreme—immersion in deletion debates.)

Finding and browsing featured articles was described in Chapter 3, Finding Wikipedia's Content. Wikipedia also has featured review processes for media, images, lists, and portals. Relative to the rest of Wikipedia's content, few articles have been designated good or featured, with only about 1 in 660 articles listed as good and 1 in 1,200 listed as featured. However, many good-quality articles aren't on these lists—those that haven't gone through the formal processes. The criteria for good and featured articles are basically those mentioned in Chapter 6, Good Writing and Research, but in the processes, you can experience the criteria in action, as debated through open peer review. For either process, anyone can nominate an article and anyone can review it, though featured articles require a more complex review. If it is difficult for you to receive detailed criticism of your own work, remember the no ownership rule. Most articles under review improve greatly, regardless of the eventual outcome.

Candidates for good articles are listed at Wikipedia:Good article candidates (shortcut WP:GAC). To nominate an article, simply follow the instructions on this page and place the corresponding Good Article Candidate template on the article's talk page. In turn, any editor can choose to review the article (typically, only one person will review the article). The criteria for review are listed at Wikipedia:Good article criteria (shortcut WP:GA?). The review process is supposed to be fairly informal. Reviewers read through the article and evaluate it based on the criteria, and then they have three options: They may pass the article as being a good article, fail the article if they feel it doesn't meet the criteria, or make suggestions for improvement by placing the article on hold. Often reviewers make detailed constructive comments. Articles that pass are added to the list of good articles at Wikipedia:Good articles (shortcut WP:GA). Articles that fail need to be improved. An article can be renominated once the criticisms have been addressed.

Featured articles go through a more formal community peer review process, typically with several different editors participating as reviewers. This review is based on Wikipedia:Featured article criteria(shortcut WP:FACR). The criteria include, for example, appropriate use of images. Reviews take place at Wikipedia:Featured article candidates (shortcut WP:FAC). Here, you can find between 50 and 100 candidates that are under current scrutiny. Reviewer comments are likely to be detailed and extensive, ranging from minor issues, such as formatting, to major issues, such as unclear writing or missing references. Anyone can nominate an article to be featured, but by convention, the nominator is supposed to stick around for the review and help out with fixing up the article. The process is intended as a dialogue, with the nominator responding to the critique by working on the article's issues. Others are also welcome to help, but an article that doesn't improve at all in response to criticism isn't likely to pass. Directions for nominating a new article are on the Featured Article Candidates page (shortcut WP:FAC), along with directions for commenting on nominations. An article should not be nominated for good article status and featured article status at the same time, but a good article can later be nominated for featured article status.

Articles that pass (sometimes only after several rounds of review) are then added to the list at Wikipedia:Featured articles (shortcut WP:FA). Any featured article may then be listed as Today's featured article on the main page of the site; the current month's selections are listed at Wikipedia:Today's featured article. Featured articles that degrade in quality may be reviewed through the featured article review process (Wikipedia:Featured article review), where anyone with concerns can nominate a currently featured article for discussion about whether that status should be removed.

Further Reading


Deletion Process

Good and Featured Articles

[22] The case study is online at

Summary[edit | edit source]

As part of the overall task of upgrading and updating Wikipedia, a vast range of jobs are accomplished by small teams or through local, open discussions. These collaborations and discussions are how the apparently anarchic Wikipedia works. Behind the scenes, a large and diverse population of supporting projects and processes are at work. What they all have in common is that editors operate within loose frameworks, communicating and pooling efforts to improve the encyclopedia.