Wikipedia:Baseline revision

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See Wikipedia:Stable versions.

Wikipedia is a collaborative effort that works because anyone can edit any page at any time. This allows anyone to improve and expand an encyclopedia article any time they want. However, this also means that factual inaccuracies and a non-neutral point of view can creep into articles, along with poor structure and other stylistic problems of articles.

Currently, Wikipedia has a review process that works via two mechanisms:

  1. Wikipedia:Peer review - currently underutilized but still very useful, and
  2. Wikipedia:Featured article candidates, which allows articles to become featured - or that they are the best articles on Wikipedia.

These systems are great, and work well. However, people can still edit articles when they reach featured article status. I am proposing that we have a system whereby contributors can make a "baseline" revision of a featured article: an article revision that is the most accurate, well-written and neutral writeup of an article. The baseline revisions should only be featured articles, as they have already gone through an extensive editorial process and are already endorsed by Wikipedia.

One thing that baseline revisions are not is an endorsement that the article should be set in stone and never modified. A baseline should be moveable, and more information becomes available or total rewrites are performed new article revisions may need to become the newest baseline (a history of previous baseline revisions should be kept on record).

A temporary start to baseline revisions would start off with a subpage called /baseline with a numbered list of baselines, with the current baseline in bold. Hopefully in new versions of MediaWiki this could be built into the software and user interface of Wikipedia itself.

Baseline revisions should only be set when all facts are verified over an extensive period of time. Pedantic Wikipedians are most definitely needed when selecting a baseline revision: any facts that are not sourced must be given external sources and the article must be viewed as entirely neutral. Stylistic concerns must be addressed. Basically a baseline revision process will be (while not vicious), a very honest and very critical look at an article. Any identified flaws in an article will disqualify the article from being a baseline revision, until that issue is resolved in a manner agreed upon by a clear majority of contributors. A set procedure should be formulated for determining what a baseline revision might be, and must be followed strictly.

We think that a baseline moderator would be a good idea when determining what revision is the most reliable. We think that the best revision should be picked as a proposed baseline, and then all problems with this should be resolved. The baseline moderator should be able to consult with people who are recognised as experts in their field, or find out how consensus means for resolving problems. When all issues are resolved baseline moderators must justify the reason for choosing their baseline. Discussion should be done on the talk page.

Example:

Common Unix Printing System would have Common Unix Printing System/Proposed baseline where a baseline could be proposed. The baseline could be announced on FAC, Village Pump, Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Fact and Reference Check and Wikipedia:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards for a time period, then any potential issues MUST be resolved. This might involve asking for external expertise or expertise from an existing user who has a good track history in editing similar articles (for instance, 172 might be asked if he could help with a specific issue on the Russian history article).

Then Common Unix Printing System/Baseline could be created. When all the issues are resolved, a brief report of the process should be made with all listed objections and how they were resolved. If there are no issues with the proposed baseline, then a link to the revision could be added to the top of a list of past baselines. It should probably be bolded.

Another possible procedure:

Someone suggest an article baseline to an admin (or a committee of users, or a committee of admins). The proposal is checked for sanity, then a baseline page and a vote for it is set up. If the vote passes, the baseline page can be protected. If a better baseline is proposed, that procedure is repeated.

See also[edit]