User:Uncle G/Wikipedia triage

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Wikipedia article triage is a procedure for when one is performing various sorts of patrols, such as "new page patrol" (fielding new pages as they appear on the list at Special:newpages).

It is based upon the idea of collaborative editing, as laid out in our Wikipedia:Editing policy. The process of improving articles can sometimes operate like a production line, with different editors performing different stages. For example:

  1. Editor A creates the initial page
  2. Editor B, on "new page patrol", places the appropriate cleanup and stub tags on it
  3. Editor C, on "cleanup patrol", applies cleanup
  4. Editor D, on "stub patrol", adds categories, "see also" section entries for related articles

What to do[edit]

Problem with article Course of action
Copyright infringing text has been added to an existing article Revert the infringement back to the latest non-infringing version, noting the details in the edit summary.
The article was a copyright infringement right from its very first version. Nominate the article for deletion. The {{copyvio}} template points to a sub-page where you can create a good stub from scratch (without deriving it from the prior article) on a temporary sub-page.
The article is short.

"Short article" is not synonymous with "dictionary article".

The article cites no sources.
  • Look for sources yourself and add them to the article.
  • Ask other editors for sources, using {{unreferenced}} and the article's talk page.
The article doesn't cite enough sources.
  • Look for sources yourself and add them to the article.
  • Ask other editors for sources, using {{more sources}}, {{onesource}}, and the article's talk page.
The article doesn't cite any independent sources.
  • Look for independent sources yourself and add them to the article.
  • Ask other editors for independent sources, using {{primarysources}}, {{self-published}}, and the article's talk page.
The article is unwikified or in need of other cleanup. Clean it up yourself. Place an appropriate cleanup tag on the article if you only do a partial cleanup.

Deletion is not Cleanup. If you want the article to be better, an administrator deleting it isn't the solution. There are plenty of tools in the toolbox. Nominating an article for deletion should not be the only tool that you use.

The article is a duplicate article that duplicates another article. Merge the articles yourself, or initiate a merger discussion on a talk page.

Article merger does not involve deletion at any stage. An administrator hitting a delete button is not required. Even editors without accounts have all of the editing tools necessary for performing article mergers.

The article is blatant advertising or other puffery that requires a fundamental rewrite.
The article is one of the following bad article ideas:
  • People writing about themselves.
  • People writing about their own companies.
  • People writing about their own products.
  • People writing about their web sites.
  • People writing about their bands.
  • Apply Copyright Judo if possible.
  • Completely rewrite the article yourself using independent sources.
  • If you cannot actually find any independent sources at all, nominate the article for deletion.
  • If you haven't looked for sources yourself, and there aren't any cited in the article to use, ask other editors to look for and to cite independent sources using {{notability}}, {{unreferenced}}, and the article's talk page.
The article resembles a dictionary article, talking about the word or idiom that comprises its title rather than about the person/concept/place/event/thing that the title denotes.
You've looked for sources yourself and there are no sources at all to be found anywhere. Nominate the article for deletion, on the grounds that it is unverifiable. Explain what steps you took to look for sources in your nomination.
You've looked for sources yourself and there are no independent sources discussing the subject to be found (i.e. there are no sources other than those written/published by the subject xyrself or its members/creators/authors/founders/inventors). Nominate the article for deletion, on the grounds that the subject is non-notable. Follow the guidelines at User:Uncle G/On notability#Giving rationales at AFD in your nomination.
You've looked for sources yourself and whilst there are independent sources to be found, they give no more than passing mention to the subject, discuss the subject only tangentially in relation to their main topics, or contain nothing other than simple directory listing information.

Rename, refactor, or merge the article into an article with a broader scope. See User:Uncle G/On notability#Dealing with non-notable things.

You've looked for sources yourself and there are multiple independent sources to be found that are more than simple directory listings and that discuss the subject directly and in depth. Cite them in the article, in a "Further reading" section, so that other editors can collaboratively build upon your work.

Looking for sources yourself beforehand[edit]

The above procedure, Wikipedia:Guide to deletion#Nomination, and Wikipedia:Articles for deletion#Before nominating an article for deletion, all say to look for sources yourself when considering isses of either notability or verifiability.

This is not a new thing. This idea has been in our policies for some several years, and has been expected behaviour of Wikipedia editors from almost the start of the project. Before it was converted to prose form in February 2007, Wikipedia:Deletion policy used to look similar to what can now be found above. See this version of deletion policy, for example. This is a general procedure, and is not related solely to deletion. It actually originated in our verifiability policy. Earlier versions of deletion policy, such as this one from January 2006, said to "Follow the procedure at Wikipedia:Verifiability" and only if it failed to come back and consider deletion. At the time Wikipedia:Verifiability was where the procedure was, and it looked like this. Looking for sources onesself was step #4. Following that procedure before nominating articles for deletion has been explicit deletion policy since July 2004. Moreover, this step has been in the verifiability policy since Martin Harper's original formulation of it in 2003. One of the earliest versions of the policy, from the day that it was first written down, explicitly said "make a decent attempt to verify something before removing it as unverifiable".

The consensus is, and always has been, that this is proper behaviour for Wikipedia editors.

There is a Wikipedia Signpost article that deals with looking for sources, Dispatches: Find reliable sources online. Some more resources can be found at Wikipedia:Editor's index to Wikipedia#Resource.

Copyright Judo[edit]

Companies and organisations that wish to advertise themselves, their products, or their beliefs have long since learned that, because of its dense cross-linking and its mirrors, Wikipedia is a convenient means for avoiding having to pay Google for placed advertisements. Single line advertisements comprising hyperlinks to an external web site, or a reference to a book, have long since been deletable under CSD criterion #A3. That was the way that people used to advertise. However, sly companies avoid this by copying and pasting entire autobiographies, corporate descriptions, mission statements, or press releases into articles. Such articles are, by their very natures, biased and not actually encyclopædic approaches to subjects; and not what an unbiased encyclopædia wants.

Copyright Judo is Wikipedia's weapon against those who would turn it from an enclopædia into a free advertising billboard. Advertisements, mission statements, corporate autobiographies, and press releases are all copyrighted and not freely licenced under a free copyright licence. The beauty of the weapon is that companies are loathe to license their own content under the GFDL. (After all, copyright is one of the weapons that they use to prevent their competitors from re-using their advertisements.) Companies are thus effectively barred from placing their advertisements and autobiographies on Wikipedia by their own legal departments.

For best results:

  • In order to completely counter the attempt at Googlebombing, place a <nowiki>…</nowiki> around the URL of the web page, to prevent the web spiders from seeing a hyperlink from Wikipedia (and its mirrors) to the corporate site. e.g. {{copyvio|url=<nowiki>http://example.com./about.html</nowiki>}}
  • Always remember that the {{copyvio}} template replaces the violating text. It is not meant to be placed alongside of it.
  • Bear in mind that if it can be reliably determined on sight that the article is a copyright violation (e.g. one can look at a web page on some other web site where the content obviously came from and see that it is not a Wikipedia mirror and not licenced under the GFDL), the page may be speedily deleted under criterion #G12.

Checking for the possibility of speedy deletion[edit]

Bear the following points in mind when nominating articles for speedy deletion:

  • Don't become slap happy. The criteria for speedy deletion are deliberately narrow. They are there for the limited circumstances when a deletion decision can be reliably made by two pairs, or one pair, of eyes. Deletion decisions normally involve many pairs of eyes, to ensure that there are many layers of Swiss cheese in the process. Don't attempt to extend the speedy deletion criteria boundaries with creative interpretations. If an article does not fall within the boundaries, it is meant to go through the normal deletion process.
    • One very common error is to expand the patent nonsense criteria to encompass all nonsense, and thence to encompass articles that do make sense, but are simply written in fractured English or are unwikified. Articles that make sense, no matter how badly written they may be and no matter how incorrect they may be, are not nonsense. They are candidates for cleanup. Furthermore, articles that are nonsense are not necessarily patent nonsense. Remember the maxim: Patent nonsense is nonsense that you couldn't understand, not merely that you don't understand.
  • Be specific. Avoid the use of {{d}} and {{delete}}. They force an administrator on "speedy delete patrol" to have to second guess which speedy deletion criterion you thought applied. Use {{db}} or {{deletebecause}} and explicitly specify by number which criterion you think applies. (For example: {{deletebecause|CSD #G3:Silly vandalism}}.) Note that for many speedy deletion criteria there are specific speedy deletion templates: see Category:Candidates for speedy deletion.
  • Be careful. It has been known for the article creation process to become "stuck", because people don't check the contents before marking an article for speedy deletion under CSD criterion #G4 (i.e. reposted content that was deleted according to deletion policy), and perfectly legitmate articles become speedily deleted simply because there was a prior history of deletable articles by the same title. Fighting hair-trigger {{deleteagain}}-applicators can be especially dis-spiriting to well-intentioned novices.
  • You can always write a good stub yourself. If an article satisfies the speedy deletion criteria, but the actual topic of the article is one that satisfies the relevant Wikipedia inclusion criteria, it helps the encyclopaedia more, and involves less wasted effort all around, for you to replace the content of the article with a good stub on the subject, if you know (or can find out) enough about the subject to do so.

Bad article ideas[edit]

On New Pages Patrol, one will frequently encounter people having bad ideas for articles, despite Wikipedia:List of bad article ideas, and not writing about subjects close to them in accordance with the one way that it is safe to write about subjects close to onesself (see User:Uncle G/On notability#Writing about subjects close to you). Such ideas are mainly people writing about themselves, their companies, their bands, their products, or their web sites.

Instead of nominating such articles for deletion as soon as they have been created, use {{notability}} and {{unreferenced}}. They provide the creator with a pointer to the guidelines so that xe knows what information to add to the article. Don't nominate such articles for deletion immediately after they have been created unless you have done the research yourself and can definitely demonstrate that the subject will never satisfy the notability criteria.

In contrast, there are some articles that we do want to be rid of immediately. Unsourced biographies of schoolchildren, written by themselves or by other schoolchildren, are not wanted in Wikipedia. Neither are attack articles on schoolchildren or schoolteachers, or articles written by people who are so proud of their homosexual friends that they want to shout it to the world. Our various weapons against them are:

  • Speedy deletion criterion #A1 — If it is not possible to identify the actual subject of the article because it has insufficient context (e.g. "Emma is Sally's best friend. She is 16. She wants to be a racing driver and is currently studying engineering.") then it is not possible for other editors to work on it, let alone for readers to verify it.
  • Speedy deletion criterion #A3 — Sometimes several schoolchildren will be abusing a Wikipedia article as a chat room, and not actually attempting to write an encyclopædia article at all.
  • Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons — We most certainly don't want unsourced biographies of people who legally don't have the means to defend themselves. And we don't want unsourced biographies that make the typical schoolchild grandiose and unsupported claims (e.g. "Harry is a genius and rules the world. He invented television at age 8.").
  • Speedy deletion criterion #G10

Common causes of article duplication[edit]

As you are no doubt aware, Wikipedia's search form is somewhat idiosyncratic. It doesn't operate like the site search facilities at most other web sites on the world wide web. The default action, when one presses return, is not to search. The default action is to pull up the exactly matching (case, punctuation, whitespace, and all) article.

Unfortunately, many a new page has appeared because a Wikipedia novice has come along, entered a search term into the search entryfield, pressed return expecting it to perform a search like it does on most other web site, seen the resultant "Wikipedia has no article by this title but you can help Wikipedia by creating it" page, and helpfully decided to do just that, presuming that Wikipedia is missing the article.

The most common indicators of this sort of occurrence are:

Cleanup tips[edit]

Requesting sources[edit]

One tip when using the {{unreferenced}} tag is to create a == References == section in the article and place the notice there, along with a <references /> element. This points authors in the right direction.

Wikification[edit]

Many new pages are unwikified. If you can wikify them, do so. If you want to encourage the original author to wikify them, add a {{wikify}} tag to them. One common mistake made by novice authors unfamiliar with Wikipedia house style is to not embolden the subject of the article in the introductory paragraph, so do that as well, to start the author off and to give them an example of wikification. Similarly, for a biography article, wikify the birth and death dates and bring them into line with the Wikipedia house style for dates of birth and death.