User:The Rambling Man/FLC things to check

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TRM is seen here checking his "things to check" checklist before embarking on another successful nomination.

This is The Rambling Man's mini-guide to things to check in a featured list candidate before nominating, to save him from checking them himself. It's far from a "guide to succeed at FLC", more a checklist of common faults TRM finds in many nominations that could easily be remedied beforehand.

Last time I checked, I was a major contributor to about 45 featured lists, from the first in April 2007 to the most recent in February 2012, and in that time there have been many changes to the criteria, many successes and some failures. This guide is not intended to replace the manual of style (MOS), it simply provides a synopsis of the most common shortcomings.

The guide as presented is (as you would expect from Wikipedia) a collaborative effort, and is a distillation of the suggestions of many of our valued FLC contributors. Of course it's a living document and should bend and flex its way round MOS changes, around updates to the criteria and any other external influences that are relevant here.

Don't forget, if you nominate a list, support your fellow FLCers, and review a couple while you wait for feedback on your own. It's a recipe for success!

Process[edit]

  • Most FLCs take atleast 15 days before receiving enough comments for consensus to form. Be patient.
  • How can you speed the process up? More reviewing, of course! In addition to reducing the FLC backlog and increasing the chance that other editors will review your FLC, reviewing other nominations often helps you to identify your own errors more easily.
  • Check for dabs and ensure external links are live before FLC; it saves reviewers time when you start the nomination.
  • Consider submitting your list for peer review, and leaving it there long enough to get some useful comments, before submitting to FLC. If no-one does comment, at least you tried...

Criteria[edit]

  • Check the list will meet the current criteria. These do change from time to time, you need to be able to prove your nomination has what it takes.
  • Standards and reviewers also change. Claiming a list to be just perfect because other FLs are similar doesn't cut the mustard. Take onboard the constructive criticism you're bound to receive from the FLC community and strive for the best.

Lead[edit]

  • Read WP:LEAD! It needs to adequately summarise the list!
  • Wherever possible, a lead image is always an enticing start to an article, perhaps one in an {{infobox}} if appropriate, but take care with licensing issues (see below).

Images[edit]

  • Check these are appopriately licensed (PD, Creative Commons, etc.). Just because it is on Commons doesn't (necessarily) make it okay.
  • Images should be formatted within the list according to WP:MOS#IMAGE.
  • Images need useful, informative captions. If the captions are complete sentences, they take a full stop, if not, they don't.
  • If captions contain claims that aren't substantiated in the list, reference them!
  • It's vital that selected fair use (non-free) images are appropriate (i.e. can be "used fairly" in the list) and that the image has a justification on its page for inclusion in the list. If the image is fair use, make sure it meets the NFCC. The fair use rationale should be individual and specific, not a boilerplate you (or someone else) has borrowed from another fair use image.

Prose[edit]

  • Engaging prose. Elegant prose. Grammatically correct and consistent prose. All obvious, but all vital to the success of a candidate. Tony1 has some excellent self-help tutorials, including this one which assists in "removing fluff" from writing.
  • Spell-check your prose. Especially if English isn't your native language.
  • Don't start with "This is a list of"... It isn't engaging writing and it's been discouraged for years now.
  • Look for copyeditors. Sometimes what you write makes perfect sense to you, but is confusing to the general English Wikipedia audience.
  • Don't fall into the trap of jargon and technospeak. Treat every member of our audience as able to speak English but new to the topic you're describing. Don't assume folks know the terminology of your field or sport.
  • Check rules regarding grammar and punctuation, especially the proper usages of commas (avoiding run-on sentences, comma splices, and the like) and semicolons.
  • Don't overlink terms and don't use abbreviations without explaining what they mean beforehand.
  • Per WP:LINKING, be specific and explicit: "X is a [[Cinema in the United Kingdom|British film]]" is more useful to the reader than "X is a [[United Kingdom|British]] [[film]]". Don't link terms that most English speakers know (such as common nationalities or occupations). Chronological items (years, centuries, etc.) should almost never be linked.
  • Use a single variety of English per WP:ENGVAR. Don't mix your "ax" with your "disk" or "criticise" then "apologize"...

List[edit]

General[edit]

  • Guidelines say chronological lists, including all timelines and lists of works, should be in earliest-to-latest chronological order.
  • Repeat the wikilink per WP:REPEATLINK – a sortable table needs to link every linkable item every time because once it's been re-ordered, there's no way of knowing whether the linked or unlinked term will be top of the list.
  • Verify that the information in the list correctly reflects the sources (but be careful of plagiarism and copyvios). This is especially important in statistics-heavy lists, where it's all-too-easy to add an extra 0 or type a "2" when you meant to type a "3".

Sortability[edit]

  • Make sure you click on all sort buttons. This means sort them up and down more than once to make sure that the sorting is always correct. Check numbers sort as numbers (not text, e.g. 1, 10, 11, 2, 3, ...). Use {{nts}}, {{ntsh}}, or put in invisible preceding zeroes with <span style="display:none">...</span>. Assistance with intricate sortability techniques can be sought at Help:Sorting.
  • Diacritics should sort as letters: e.g. Petr Čech should sort as "Petr Cech". In this case {{sortname}} would be used as follows – {{sortname|Petr|Čech||Cech, Petr}}
  • Consider the fact that different browsers may behave differently – you should try the sorting in as many browsers as possible, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Google Chrome.

Accessibility[edit]

  • Check out MOS:COLOUR where it says that colour cannot be the only way to convey information. A symbol is also needed (e.g. dagger or *).
  • Similarly, information should not be conveyed by italic text alone, unless it is previously made clear that italic text has that meaning.
  • The following symbols are known to be accessible by a screen reader: ! # $ % ^ & * ~ § .
  • The dagger † and double dagger ‡ are known to cause problems with JAWS (screen reader). Use the templates: {{}}, alias {{dagger}}; and {{}}, alias {{double-dagger}} instead. See MOS:ACCESS#Text for details.
  • We have MOS:FLAG which says a flag should also have the country (or entity, province etc.) name beside it (or noted in a key).
  • Tables should always have column headers in the first row to identify the contents of the column below. Column headers are marked up with ! scope="col" | .
  • Tables benefit from having markup that ensures screen readers can also provide something to identify the row that any cell is in (although not every table is amenable to this). If you can, mark up the key cell that identifies each row with ! scope="row" | . See MOS:ACCESS#Data tables for details.
  • If you mark up the row headers, you will find that the data in that cell is displayed as bold and centred. If that clashes with the visual style you have established for the table as a whole, then amend the first line to be {| class="wikitable plainrowheaders" which will restore left-alignment and normal font-weight for the row headers.
  • Tables benefit from having a caption which uniquely identifies that table, especially when the article contains multiple tables. However, if the caption simply duplicates a section heading which immediately precedes it, then one or the other may be omitted as redundant.
  • Small text can be difficult to read for those who are visually impaired, and may not be identified at all by a screen reader. Consider whether the information you want to display by such presentational markup can be conveyed by more accessible means.

Usability[edit]

  • Don't try to cram too much information into each cell of a table; it can make your table difficult to use, especially for user agents that are not traditional browsers.
  • If a cell in a table contains items that have to be separate, consider using {{ubl}} (unbulleted list) to make them into a list. The html <br /> merely produces a visual effect and does not guarantee that other user agents will render them separately.

References and notes[edit]

  • References are best constructed using a template such as {{Cite web}}, {{Cite book}} or similar. As many of the parameters as possible should be completed, in particular title, publisher and accessdate. Many sites will have author (or first and last) information and sometimes a publication date which should be incorporated where possible. The less detail in your citations, the more scrutiny every source will receive for reliability.
  • Non-English references should use the language parameter, and pertinent translations should use the trans_title parameter.
  • Dates should be consistently formatted in references, per the WP:MOS. This means all "1 December 2005" or all "2005-12-01" but not a mixture.
  • Page ranges, date ranges, reference titles all need to comply with the manual of style with regard to WP:DASH, so we don't have "pp. 40-41", we have "pp. 40–41", we don't have "Ipswich 3 - 0 Manchester United", we have "Ipswich 3–0 Manchester United" and so on. When in doubt, use User:GregU/dashes.js, it makes life a lot easier for you.
  • If you are using only a single page in a reference, make sure that you change the parameter to page= instead of pages= to generate the correct text.
  • Reference titles are not exempt from WP:ALLCAPS. All capitals and other stylizations that are not part of standard English usage should be removed.
  • Be browser aware. Not all browsers support {{reflist}} when it's piped into multiple columns. For CSS 3 supported browsers, this means either {{reflist|colwidth=30em}} or {{reflist|2}}.
  • Ref X was not questioned in Y's FLC is not proof of reliability. Ref X was successfully argued in Y's FLC is marginally better, as the argument could still be valid... it also could have been incorrectly accepted.
  • Notes, when supplementing information in lists, need to be referenced.

See also & External links[edit]

  • Typically, the "See also" section incorporates closely relevant articles and lists. Avoid including pages which are already linked within the list. Keep it relevant.
  • If a direct link to the list doesn't occur in a navbox, it generally does not belong there. Navboxes are for linking together sets of related articles. If there are several articles that are related to one another directly but not directly to the main list, use "See also" links.
  • Check that the external links are really directly relevant to the list. If not, they should be removed.

Categories and templates[edit]

  • Avoid using categories and "super-categories" at once. In other words, don't have "Lists of dogs" and "Lists of French dogs" unless there's a really good reason for it.
  • Templates will come under scrutiny during WP:FLC, and while they're not directly part of the FLC review process, if they show anomalies and failures to meet the standard criteria then the nominator will need to take responsibility for fixing them.

In general...[edit]

  • Sometimes reviewers are just wrong. Don't blindly assume every comment a reviewer makes is spot-on. Often, however, that the comment was made exposes an opportunity for your list to be made clearer.
  • Elucidate, elucidate, elucidate.
  • Have fun. Wikipedia is supposed to be enjoyable. When it stops... well, it is time to go and hug the dog, stroke the cat, take a walk, or do paying work and come back fresh.