User:Yomangan/A bastard's guide to writing a featured article
There's a lot of advice in various essays and guidelines on how to get an article to FA, but most of it suggests stupid things like researching your subject, organising your article, writing "brilliant" prose, reviewing your sources, checking that your article is comprehensive, and asking others to review your work. This is all nonsense and quite unnecessary. There are many articles just waiting to become FAs. Instead of organising and researching, you need to be sneaking around and plotting.
Much of the so-called advice also suggests collaboration. This is actually a good idea: a collaborator is a type of workhorse. Let them collaborate your article up to FA standard and then dispose of them. After a war, collaborators are usually shot. This is perhaps a little extreme on Wikipedia (you may need them again), but there is no need to pretend you owe them anything.
Why would you want to get an article to FA?
Finding a subject
Since your actual aim is to bump yourself up a chart, don't worry too much about producing the best article you can. Your target is to squeeze through FAC with the minimum effort.
The easiest way to do this is to hijack somebody else's work.
- Here are a number of methods:
- Approach somebody who has almost finished their article professing a deep interest in the subject and limitless admiration for the work they've done. Suggest they put the article up for FA. They will reply "I am going to do it tomorrow/next Thursday/in May". Add a few commas to show your commitment to the subject. Wait until the main author logs off, then nominate the article praising the great work the other editor has done and add something along the lines of "X said they would nominate it tomorrow/next Thursday/in May but I think they are just being modest, it is clearly ready now". If you phrase it correctly then the author would appear churlish if they were to ask you to withdraw the nomination (and, most importantly, your name is on the nomination)
- When an article fails to be promoted even though most issues have been addressed, immediately renominate it claiming you are outraged that it was not promoted when the main editor had worked so hard to address concerns. Other editors will become curious and may fix the remaining issues (and, most importantly, your name is on the nomination)
- Find an old nomination. Sneak into the archive and change the nominator's name to your own. Sneak away. It's unlikely that anyone will notice, but if you're concerned, edit anonymously from your local library and profess innocence should anyone bring it up to you (and, most importantly, your name is on the nomination)
- Look around the regular FA contributor's user pages. When you find a user that is on wikibreak, search their userspace to see if they have any nearly complete FA standard articles. You are working against the clock on this one: it is best to pick an editor who is on a long vacation without access to the internet. If you find an article, cut and paste it to mainspace. This is now your article. If it is ready to nominate, go ahead and nominate it. Otherwise approach another expert in the field and tell them that you want to nominate it, and ask if they could they help you out, but tell them you are going on wikibreak soon so they will hurry. Once your nomination is in, you should try and encourage the FA director to promote as soon as possible, so the whole process is complete by the time the poor author returns. The good thing here is that by the time the article has been through FAC it may be different enough not to be obviously their work at first glance (and, most importantly, your name is on the nomination)
- Hang around Peer Review. Many editors foolishly bring their articles here before going to FAC. Not only may the article get a few comments on how it could be improved, but also the main contributor may tell you when they are thinking of nominating the article, and with a little prodding may even inform you of their availability (pretend to be an authority on the subject, suggest working together, ask them when they are available for a couple of days of intensive editing. They will probably reveal a couple of days when they won't be around. If they do turn out to be available then pretend something urgent came up). What you are looking for here is a sentence along the lines "...and am planning to nominate it at FAC after the weekend/my upcoming wikibreak". Bingo! Nominate it over the weekend/during their wikibreak. Don't mention the principal author in the nomination - this will draw attention to them and someone may alert them to the FAC nomination or, unbelievably, suggest you are a bastard for nominating somebody else's work. With any luck by the time the main author returns their watchlist will be too long for them to notice that the article is at FAC (and, most importantly, your name is on the nomination)
- Find an editor that is working up an FA article. Bully them into leaving. Steal their article. They were weak and did not deserve an FA (and, most importantly, your name is on the nomination)
- Find an incomplete nomination (these happen sometimes when a first time author forgets to transclude the nomination). Rewrite it slightly along the lines of "X wanted to nominate this article and I've helped them out along the way". Tell X what a good deed you've done for them. You can even support the article (and, most importantly, your name is on the nomination)
- Add yourself as a co-nominee on the yearly lists. If you pick an article that's quite old and where the nominator has left, there's hardly any chance you will be found out (and, most importantly, your name is on the nomination)
- This one takes split-second timing. Prepare some boilerplate text for a nomination. Wait until you see somebody has added the FAC template to the talk page of an article. Quickly submit your boilerplate as the nomination. Claim it was an unfortunate case of bad timing. This will probably raise a lot of complaints, so keep harping on about how it is important to address the merits of the article and suggest taking the complaints to talk. Keep the talk discussion going until the article is promoted, then promise never to do it again. Apologise to the author, as they may be useful to you in the future (and, most importantly, your name is on the nomination)
- Orchestrate a campaign opposing a perfectly good candidate on some technicality. Try to remain a shadowy puppet master during the process (lurking in the shadows over there will help, as will holding a cloak across your face). Try to make the the process as unpleasant as possible for the nominator. The aim here is to have a good candidate failed and the nominator to swear off FAC for life. Once the nomination has failed make a few hundred edits which eventually return the article to the state it was in before. Renominate it. You may even get the previous nominator's blessing if you've done it right: something along the lines of "Do what you want with it. I'm sick and tired of FAC and want nothing more to do with it" will let you know you've done a good job (and, most importantly, your name is on the nomination)
- Join the League of Copy Editors. Don't worry, despite the name, you don't need any copy editing skills to join, and you won't have to do any copy editing on articles that you aren't intending to steal. This Wikiproject should be called Wikiproject:Lambs to the Slaughter: editors bring their articles here just before they are going to nominate them at FAC and when they think there is nothing more that needs doing apart from a copy edit. They might as well just give you the nomination and ask you to add your sig. Anyway, in case you are too dense to work out the strategy here, it is as follows: as soon as you've spotted a candidate listed on the LOCE requests page, nip over and slap the "Undergoing a copy edit" template on it. This establishes your ownership of the article. After 20 mins or so (you were reading it for style and grammar during this time) drop a note to the principal author telling them it is excellent and will be ready for FAC just as soon as you've given it a quick polish. Run the article through a spellchecker and grammar checker if you have one. Make a few edits, look busy. As soon as the main author logs off, nominate it at FAC. You've already told the main author that it will be ready to nominate once you've polished it, so provided you praise them to skies in the nomination, they shouldn't complain. If they do complain, act as if you are astounded that anybody should feel that getting their name higher up the list at WP:WBFAN is important: that should make them feel petty enough to back off and get back to fixing the article on your behalf (and, most importantly, your name is on the nomination)
- Alter WP:WBFAN directly. Do this a little at a time. If you go from one FA to twenty then people will be suspicious. Use this method in conjunction with the cheating method outlined below.
- Once you have exhausted these methods you might have to write one of your own. If so:
- Choose a subject with very little content but lots of commentary. You don't want to be fretting about how to organise it, but you don't want it to be too short or people will (wrongly) object. When you are a bit more confident you can sneer at such objectors and drive them away from your nomination. Lots of commentary allows you to cut and paste quotes into the article which creates an impression that you've studied the sources. Reviewers rarely check quotes.
- Choose a cookie cutter subject - a run-of-the-mill town near to another previously FA'ed place or an episode of a series that already has an episode FA - this will allow you to steal both the layout and most of the sources (remember to change the names where they are different in your article).
- Try and find a subject with a Wikiproject that is not very active, but has the stated aims of getting some articles to FA. You may then get unconditional supports without the problems of reviewers who care about the subject trying to pick you up on details
- Try to spot a collaboration ahead of time. If you team up with the right person you can avoid the work, but still get the nomination (remember only getting your name on the nomination counts). Find an enthusiastic experienced FA regular and then try to find a topic that they will be keen to write on. Sit back, have a cup of tea and relax (but don't get too relaxed that you forget to nominate).
- Vote "Remove" for an article that lacks inline citations at FAR. When it is removed add inline citations and renominate. You could have fixed it at FAR but that would not help you move up the chart.
- Send a perfectly good article authored by an editor who has now left to FAR yourself. With any luck it will be removed, as nobody will pay it any attention: there's no chart for people saving FAs at FAR, so it is far better for everyone that it is demoted. Clean it up a little (or better yet find a "collaborator" to "help" you clean it up). Renominate it.
- You can also cheat:
- Add a star to your article. If it stays looking like an FA for long enough people will start to think it is one.
- Unless you've reused sources from another article, find a couple of obscure books and cite them everywhere (whether they back up the statements or not). Very few people check the quality of the sources, and those that do will be unlikely to have access to the same obscure books.
- Support a few other nominations in the weeks leading up to your nomination. This will either make those other editors reluctant to oppose, or if you've done it right, earn you a support in return
- Be really helpful to regular reviewers on "unrelated matters" just before you nominate, for the same reason
- Ask your friends to copyedit just before you nominate: even if they can't write this lets them know about your soon-to-be FAC candidate, and if they add one comma, it makes them feel like they are contributing (they don't know that it is only the person with their sig at the end of the nomination that counts), and hence they will be more likely to support
- Identify problem reviewers. Try to time your nomination so they are busy elsewhere when you nominate
- Don't link to this essay in your nomination. And remember, even if you try to pass the link off as a humorous aside, the more people who read and follow this guide the more competition you will have on WP:WBFAN and the more effort you will have to put into preparing "your" subsequent articles for FAC.
Dealing with FAC
Opposers are your enemies. The aim of the FAC is to change opposes to supports or, failing that, to either discredit the opposers or limit their input to the review to a minimum.
- Slavishly alter your article to meet the requirements of the most recent reviewer. Remember: once you have a "Support" that reviewer's opinion is no longer relevant. Feel free to pander to the wishes of the next reviewer even if they totally contradict those of the previous reviewer.
- Claim any opposition isn't actionable
- Address completely different points to those raised by opposers. Ask them to explain their points in another way. Provide some incorrect diffs and ask them what they think is wrong. Call them by the wrong name. Confuse them and wear them down.
- Claim "recently promoted FA X has this feature". Accuse anybody who says that isn't relevant of double standards.
- Ridicule the tiniest typo in any oppose comment. This is particularly useful if the opposition is based on prose issues: how can the opposer be an expert on writing when they can't even spell?
- Point anybody who opposes to WP:SOFIXIT. You can always hope.
- If the MOS is a sticking point, and you can't be bothered to change every instance of whatever to conform with its requirements, it is often easier to change the MOS: nobody will notice, it is changed many thousands of times a day.
- If a reviewer is a real problem, claim that you can't work on the article because of "other commitments" then wait a few days before engaging the other reviewers in long conversations. Hopefully your opposer will lose interest.
- Alternatively, find another FAC where your problem opposer is also opposing. Leave a message for the author of that candidate sympathising with them, along the lines of "I know how you feel, X is causing me a headache over at my FAC too". With any luck that editor will both support your article in solidarity and start fighting with your opposer, distracting them from your nomination.
- Alternatively, find a subject area that the opposer is interested in. Tell them that such and such an article is in a terrible state and you were thinking of fixing it up. Admit you know very little about it, but you noticed that the opposer was quite an authority on the subject. Ask them if they want to collaborate on getting it up to standard. At its best, this tactic serves a number of purposes: it may soften the opposer's view of you, making it more likely they will change their opinion; they may be distracted from your review while working on the other article; and, best of all, they may bring the new article up to FA standard, at which point you can sneak in and nominate it.
- Find your opposer's enemies: somebody they have clashed with on a previous FAC or at ANI or elsewhere. Run across these editors "by chance" and drop hints about your FAC. With any luck, they will check it out, notice that their "enemy" has opposed and look for the slightest reason to support just because they don't want to take up the same position.
- If you are still attracting opposition, accuse those opposing of personal attacks or a vendetta. This can help muddy the waters, and if it goes on long enough can confuse the FAC enough that it has to be restarted.
- If it is restarted, remember to remind all those that supported the original (those that opposed don't deserve such courtesy).
If you've reached this stage I'm disappointed in you, but all is not lost, you may still be able to get an FA out of it with just a little extra effort.
- Renominate immediately. Profess yourself mystified on the FAC talkpage. Maybe somebody will be interested enough to fix the remaining problems. Use the same tactics as recommended in the previous section.
Still failed? You are useless, but you could try:
- Rename the article. Renominate under the new name. Use the same tactics as recommended above. This isn't quite such a disaster as it sounds: if you then alter WP:WBFAN you can add the old name in as one of your FAs and it will look like it is a genuine correction. Two for the price of one.
Still no luck? Honestly, I don't think you are cut out for this. Try bumping your name up the WP:DYK chart instead. It's even easier. Or become a templating AWB maniac who saves between every key press and doesn't understand what the "Preview" button is for, and you can rise to the top of WP:WBE—edit count, that's the true measure an editor. Failing all those there is always the chart at WBUTTE.
Abandon your article immediately. It has served its purpose. Maintaining it or defending it from vandals is a waste of your valuable time, time you could be spending looking for your next FA candidate.
It may go to FAR at some point and be demoted. This isn't bad: one great feature of the WP:WBFAN chart is that you don't move down if your article is demoted, and since your only aim is to get higher up that chart, a demoted article is just as good as an FA. This is an excellent reason for trying to get your recently promoted article to FAR as quickly as possible, so you can renominate it and get another star. One good way to do this is to nominate it to be featured as Today's Featured Article. An appearance on the main page makes your article a target for vandals and know-it-alls who can make even the best FA look like it was written by a demented baboon. Don't nominate your article for the main page until three months after it has been promoted: FARs opened before that time are generally rejected, and you don't want to waste your opportunity by getting your article out too early.
When your article is on the main page, you'd be very unlucky if there wasn't at least one self-proclaimed expert who turned up to pick holes in it. Make sure you clash with them on the talk page. Be unhelpful and make sure you challenge them to take it to FAR. With luck, they will nominate it the following day.
Now comes the difficult part. You must discourage anybody from working on it at FAR. Use the same tactics as you would use against an opposer at FAC. Revert all improvements claiming that they are biased, change the meaning, or show that the writer is unfamiliar with the subject.
Once the article has been demoted, approach those who wanted to fix it at FAR and apologise for your behaviour there. Suggest a collaboration (Yes!). When the article is ready, make sure you get the nomination in.
Repeat until bored.
- User:Giano/A fool's guide to writing a featured article: an alternate guide which advocates more work and less glory. Pah!
- Nobody knows why this is, but counting things is important. It must be, everybody is doing it.
- If you are serious about making your way to the top of the chart, make sure your username is something as close to possible to the begin of the alphabet. That way you will always be first when the numbers of FAs are equal. For the purposes of ordering that means a number is even better, User:1111111Aardvark for example. The poor dolts who have usernames starting with X,Y, or Z have no chance.
- As you are only really interested in the bragging rights of your position on the chart, skip the whole thing and add yourself high up on WBUTTE.
- If the review also has comments suggesting it is ready for FAC already you've found the Holy Grail
- It's not important to make improvements to the copy or even make many edits. Reviewers at FAC will take care of any copy problems - they like to copy edit as it makes them feel like they are contributing. If the main author of the article is a good writer, they will be flattered that you found so little to change in your pass through. Poor writers won't know that you missed anything.
- Team here is used in the sense of the master and slave "team".
- Some people try to save articles at FAR/C. Nobody is sure why; these people may be the result of some disastrous experiment.
- That's what I did here.
- For Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia this advice came too late, but it still managed to be promoted. See how easy it is?
- Remember: collaborate should mean that others do the work while you steal the credit. None of this working together for the benefit of the encyclopedia rubbish.
- Some people might suggest appealing to the FA director at this point. Don't. That will only make you look stupid. A small group of editors gather round his page just to laugh at such appeals and those who make them. Giano suggests that SandyGeorgia may be susceptible to chocolate-themed bribery though. Worth a shot.
- If you are stuck for a template, here's one that never really caught on. I don't know why, as it is as useful as many of the others that litter articles without helping improve the encyclopedia in any way:
It looks best when placed at the top of an article above a host of other templates. If you can force the article content off the screen, so much the better. Remember, don't even attempt to fix the problem in the article yourself: adding the template is a valuable service in itself as it increases both your sense of self-importance and your edit count.
- If you do use AWB, don't forget to continually correct spelling "mistakes" in quotations, no matter how many times they have been put back to the original quoted spelling. It is a great way to both endear yourself to the authors of the article and get your edit count up.
- That's an Indian elephant, in case you were thinking of adding the unspecified elephant template.
- Yes, that's right. You can actually count an article as many times as you like provided it goes through the demotion/promotion cycle every time
- The failed experimental subjects mentioned earlier may be attracted by the signals given off by a dying FA. Try to drive them off before a pack gathers. Fire, loud noises, and a poisonous atmosphere in the FAR discussion have shown some promise. If all else fails punch them on the snout.
- While you don't want these editors working on the article now, don't forget about these improvements: they will come in handy later, as you can use them to get the article ready for another nomination.
- Blame it on the stress of having your work picked apart - they aren't to know that you stole the article from somebody else.