User:Yannismarou/Ten rules to make an article FA

Ten tips to make an article FA
A possible recipe for success


Before you nominate the articleEdit

Featured content:

Featured article candidates (FAC)

Featured article review (FAR)

Today's featured article (TFA):

Featured article tools:

 
My precious!
1. Choose the right article. What does this mean? Many things:
  • Choose an article that you really like to improve and whose subject excites you so much that researching it becomes pleasurable.
  • Prefer a non-controversial article. As Cla68 says, "if the article you want to work on is under the ``protection`` of one or more POV-pushers, you're just going to immensely frustrate yourself".
  • If you want to work alone without being disturbed, then articles that have been left alone for a long time fit for this job. However, co-operations and "synergies" do also give great results. In this case, start wiki-socializing and find one or more users with common interests, and the shared appetite to upgrade an article exciting you all, and bring it together to FAC, without egoisms and arrogant or patronalizing approaches.
2. Conduct thorough research. Make sure that before you start writing or rewriting you have some basic sources to work with. During your writing continue searching for new sources. Look on the Web, in Google, Google Book Search and Google Scholar, in the local library and in your own library in case you've missed some of your books! Usually four sources are Ok for FAC. But I'm a reference-freak and I try to have dozens of them (you are not obliged to be as insane as me but I'd recommend it!). Printed sources are highly esteemed. They are deemed better than online sources because they're more stable and often more credible than websites. Have in mind that you can buy used books online very cheaply or use those you may find in Google Book Search. Articles found in Google Scholar are also regarded as printed sources. When you use these or other search machine for your research, it's important to use the right key words and to try various combination. While writing the article, never stop researching! When you make a new edit, immediately add your references so as not to forget them and so that other editors can also jump-in to assist if they want to and have access to the references you list.
3. Cite everything. A list of references is not good enough for a FA anymore; inline citations have now become one of the basic FA criteria. The (unofficial!) rule is one citation for each paragraph. My advice? One citation for each sentence! In this way you'll avoid the annoying [citation needed], you'll impress and you'll convince everybody about the high level of your research. Assertions, assessments, direct quotes and hard data should be definitely cited. According to the Military History Project "an article should have copious inline citations." Try not to have more than two citations in a row for each sentence. Let's not overdo it! Another useful advice comes from Cla68: "Spread your citations out among your references so that it doesn't look like you're using one or two sources for everything".
 
This poor guy, a failed FA nominator, who faced the fierce critics of the FA-reviewers about his bad prose, is now trying all night and day Tony's exercises.
4. Make your prose "compelling, even brilliant". This is one of the most difficult tasks. Tony underscores that "for many contributors [including me, Tony!], this is the most problematic aspect of preparing a FA candidate (FAC)". According to the Military History Project, "one of the most common objections that articles encounter is that the prose is too dense or poorly written". The article flow is of paramount importance. I'll quote Robth this time: "One of the weaknesses of a collaboratively written article is that transitions from section to section are often awkward, and the order of presentation can become illogical as people add information at varying points". According to Robth, when you are writing, you should "try to make articles tell a story, with clear, logical reasons for why each section comes where it does. This is a good thing to think about whenever you're doing major work on a multi-section article." If you are not a native English speaker don't get discouraged. These are some things you can do:
A) Network with other Wikipedians who are interested in the topic and who are skilled at editing prose, and request input from them (before nomination)
B) Improve your article in direct response to the comments of FAC reviewers (after FAC nomination).
C) Improve your own writing/editing skills (before and after FAC nomination and continually!).
For practice, you can try some of the exercises Tony has prepared for you.
  • Ask for many peer-reviews utilizing the Wikiprojects, to network with native English speakers who will volunteer to help you.
  • Ask politely a highly esteemed copy-editor to go through your article. According to the Military History Project, "it is incumbent on editors to ensure that an article has been thoroughly copyedited before being nominated for featured status; while this can be done, to an extent, on one's own articles, asking someone unfamiliar with the text to review it is generally very helpful in catching less obvious stylistic problems". You can always try the list of copy-editors. I usually try to convince more than one great copy-editors to have a prose checking on the articles I'm writing. I believe that the combination of copy-editing skills can give amazing results, as it happened with El Greco.
Some further prose suggestions:
  • "If you're stumped or your writing isn't flowing well, take a break and do something else with your free time for a day or so." (Cla68)
  • Make sure your article is not POV. This is a "Wikipedia particularity" and many editors don't understand it. Check Wikipedia:POV.
  • Avoid peacock and weasel words. Be precise and give a reference.
  • The prose can be sentimental but not unencyclopedic or POV. Sentimentalism is a great weapon, if you know how to use it. If you don't know this "art", don't try it!
5. Layout and style. Various things you should check:
  • Read carefully and follow the instructions of Wikipedia:MoS. Lately, FAC reviewers are getting more and more interested in MoS issues, such as punctuations, dashes etc.
  • Concerning the use of quotations, italics and the way titles of works should be mentioned, check MOS:ITALICS.
  • Concerning citations, try to adopt a consistent and cohesive style of citing. Concerning references, if you want to cite online sources, make use of Template:cite web or Template:cite news. For books use Template:cite book and Template:cite encyclopedia, and for articles Template:cite journal. Again, I insist on consistency! Meaning? E.g. if you have ten books edited let's say after 1997, you must mention the ISBNs of all of them; you can't choose!
  • Read also Wikipedia:LEAD. The lead is the mirror of your article. It must summarize it and it must stand alone as a concise article. It must be neither too long or too short. Two to three paragraphs are usually Ok for an article over 30Kb.
  • The whole article must not be too lengthy. Try to keep its size under 100 Kbs with not more than half of it prose (not more than c. 50-55 kbs). If the article is getting too long, a nice solution is to create sub-articles, which you'll summarize in the sections of your article (read Wikipedia:SS).
  • Find or create pictures and maps with an acceptable copyright status. Make sure that this pictures have no copyright problems because specialized FAC reviewers check these issues. Try to have informative captions. As Peirigill once told me: "Some FA reviewers want captions to be complete sentences. Take advantage of this to relocate or reinforce some information from the article into the captions". Finally, don't forget that now alt text is also asked for pictures in FAs.
  • Personally, I like very much quotes and inboxes. But, again, don't overdo it! Huge and repetitive quotes interrupt the article flow. Quotes offer what Cla68 calls the "human element".
6. Submit for more than one peer review. Last but not least action before nomination! The obvious choice is Wikipedia:Peer review. But you'll find peer-review procedures in more than one Wikiproject, which are usually better than the general peer-review forum, because the reviewers there are more experienced and check the peer-reviews more systematically. Characteristic examples are the military history project and the biography project, where I also review. I'm a constant reviewer in this project and in the Greece project. The helpful and experienced peer review editors will point-out any flaws or problems you might have missed. Try to address the concerns of the reviewers and then elaborate on your improvements in the peer-review page of the article. Don't be indifferent and don't give the impression that you are indifferent to the reviewers' suggestions.
7. Prepare yourself for the FAC nomination. The peer-reviews are over. All the concerns of the reviewers are addressed and the article seems now nice and stable. Everything looks perfect for the FAC nomination. But is it? Are you really well-equipped? My advice is to take some more time to prepare yourself for the usually tough FAC procedure. Take a look in Wikipedia:FAC to see what criticisms FACs face and what the demands of the reviewers are. In this way, you'll get used to FAC's logic and you'll track further deficiencies of your article. You'll also prepare yourself for possible criticisms and negative (or even absurd) comments you might face.

After you nominate the articleEdit

8. Be there, active. After you nominate the article, devote your time to the nomination and show the reviewers that you are ready to address any concerns they may have. FAC nominations are often demanding and the nominators must follow them all the time, so that they don't miss something. That is why I advise you not to nominate more than one article at a time. Start a new FAC nomination, only when you are over with your previous one. Two nominations at the same time will possibly distract your attention.
9. Be polite and avoid fighting with the FA reviewers. Be always polite. Don't forget to thank the reviewers for their comments, even if they are negative. They dedicate their time to your article and they deserve some praise for that. Believe me: A polite attitude can bring more supports. Assume that the comments or criticism that comes from the FA candidate reviewers are being made in good faith. Respond constructively and try to correct whatever they point out. If what they propose seems absurd to you, keep your polite attitude, but convincingly explain why their comments are irrational. Have in mind that if somebody objects to something that isn't reasonable, another reviewer will usually come to your defense. In any case, avoid any personal attacks, insults or sentimental outbursts. If you are provoked, do not respond.
10. Don't get disappointed. If the nomination fails, do not resign. Start from scratch and keep improving the article. Vindication will eventually come!

FAC coachingEdit

 
FA Force was once upon a time here!

Update: Unfortunately, the FA-Team seems to be inactive

[Well, all this stuff may be useless if you convince this special force to support you! Submit your project for consideration (try to impress them; if you can't do that, then just bribe them!), and they may decide to guide you smoothly through FAC. Some of the best FA contributors have joined the team, and they are eager to help their protégés.]

In closingEdit

Remember you are not here for thanks and praise; you are here to share and spread your knowledge. So, when your efforts are crowned with success, remain humble and go for your second FA! Good luck!

Helpful wikilinksEdit