User:Jengod/Some common objections to featured status and how to avoid them

The featured article process is becoming increasingly stringent as overall standards on Wikipedia improve. This can make FAC frustrating for editors who aren't aware of how articles are judged against the featured article criteria.

Featured article candidates are expected to meet a series of objective and subjective standards; it's not a prize that rewards any particular editor's work on an article or dedication to a subject. As Michael Corleone once said, "It's not personal. It's strictly business."

Here are some tips that can help you decide if your article is ready to be nominated. In addition to this page, read all the guidelines at WP:FA, read as many recently approved featured articles as you can stand to see what gets through, and take a look at other archived nominations to note (and hopefully surmount!) the obstacles faced by other nominees.

You say, we sayEdit

  1. "It has more information than any other webpage/encyclopedia article on the Internet!" That's not a useful standard. Our articles should be compared with both online and offline references, and strive to outshine them all.
  2. "It's really long." Good in the bedroom, useless on Wikipedia.
  3. "I worked, like, really hard on this!" We are truly sad to report that if the outcome is not up to snuff, no one besides your grandmother cares how hard you worked on it. Blame Darwin.
  4. "We need more featured articles on snails!" Well, maybe we do, but that's not a reason to elevate any given article about snails to featured status; it's a reason to work on improving snail articles so that there's a better chance that one will become featured.


  1. You must have inline citations that link to a references section that are derived from the documents listed in the sources section. (Cite/Cite.php is currently in vogue, but any recognized citation method, such as the older note_label, ref_label model, would do.) Further reading references are not enough; unanchored sources are not enough. Go on, roll around in Category:Citation templates, and don't come back until you're covered in bibliographic soot!
  2. An article based on the knowledge in your head, even if you are the world's leading expert on your obscure Internet subculture, doesn't make it good reference document. The text has to be verifiable, and we can't fact-check your personal experience. Avoid weasel words, which are frequently used in an attempt to mask the lack of genuine scholarship in the article.
  3. If it was written, reviewed and edited exclusively by fans/residents/users/owners/opponents of the topic in question, chances are, it's not neutral. Run it by peer review to get a fresh set of "disinterested" eyes.
  4. If it hasn't been copy edited from top to bottom and if it isn't internally consistent—using the same style and notation method throughout—it's probably not ready to be featured. Style, grammar, punctuation and spelling count. Prepare to be confronted by rabid word-nerds who'll nit-pick your prose to shreds.
  5. Just because you want an image or sound to be fair use doesn't make it so. Wikipedia has to protect itself and preserve intellectual property rights by only using free images and sounds. Check the copyright status of the images and media in your article before submitting it for featured status and make sure all of the images are correctly tagged.
  6. Remember, the lead section is your first and best chance to grab readers' attention and respect.
  7. Any given reader of Wikipedia, an international resource of dizzying diversity, may not be familiar with your topic or its importance. Make sure you put your topic in context and explain why it's encyclopedic, only, just to complicate matters, you have to do so without retelling the history of the world and crowding the article with indirectly related information. It's a difficult balancing act.
  8. If your article is mostly lists or mostly pictures, it should probably be nominated elsewhere. Featured articles used to be called "brilliant prose" and that's just what voters expect, not lists or images, although those can certainly enhance an article.
  9. If your dates are wikified (see MOS:UNLINKYEARS) and your category headings are not in sentence case, someone will complain. Fix them ahead of time or you're just handing someone a gun and asking them to shoot you down.
  10. Web references are fine and dandy (although they're usually at their best when used in conjuction with material from dead trees, etc.). That said, the links should work (no error messages), and the reference should record the date the page was visited and/or verified. That way, if the page goes away or moves, folks can track down the referenced version at the Wayback Machine or elsewhere.
  11. When you lean too heavily on one source, it makes people suspicious. We're just sayin'.
  12. Keep in mind that the bigger your subject, the bigger the target for nitpicking. It's easier to present naysayers with proof of your comprehensivity when your topic is wasps of the Serengeti than it is when your topic is, say, the Bible.

Issues of tasteEdit

  1. "It's too short! It's too long!" These objections are hard to combat, because they're vague and don't specify the best way to remedy the problem (adding filler or removing important details won't cut it), but most featured articles are 30k-50k, so just keep that in mind.
  2. "There are too few pictures! There are too many pictures! The graphics suck! The borders on that table are too fat!" There's no catch-all remedy to this kind of objection. Just try to make it look attractive, and avoid both excessive clusters of pictures and overlong stretches of unillustrated text wherever possible.
    • (a) Try not to overwhelm the text with "too many" pictures—one image or infographic every 250 words is a good guideline. Try to space images out throughout the article and keep pictures from bumping into each other.
    • (b) Images aren't a requirement for any Featured Article, but asking for specific parts of articles which would benefit from having an image to be more illustrated is a valid objection. Having at least a few images for any FA is a good idea, and having about one image per screen is also valuable from an aesthetic perspective, drawing more readers into taking the time to read the article.
    • (c) Look at the page on different platforms and browsers to catch things other users might see that you aren't picking up.
    • (d) Check other related articles and see what they do, or investigate the standards of an umbrella WikiProject for other ideas on how to visually present the material.
  3. The generality, specificity or narrow viewpoint of any given topic is another frequent target. In general, featured articles are expected to provide a 360° view of a subject.
    • (a) Consider retargeting your article on a broad topic so it aims at (and hits) a specific subtopic.
    • (b) Conversely, try to make your article more substantial by identifying other dimensions of the topic.
      • (i) What happens in other countries?
      • (ii) How do different disciplines treat the same subject?
      • (iii) If it's about a person, is there more to him or her than holding a title or winning a prize or committing a crime?

Objections to common objectionsEdit

  • FAC can be rough, but try to take any criticism you may receive as constructive. Automatically declaring every comment inactionable can come off as combative, and you may find that the combination of many small notes and resultant fixes become the basis for a substantial improvement in your article.

See alsoEdit

Good luck!