Wikipedia:Cleanup process

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Wikipedia:Cleanup is part of a small ecosystem of maintenance tracking pages. This page explains how it fits in and how it works. In the box on the right you can find specific categories of articles needing maintenance.

Where do I report my problem?[edit]

It depends on how bad the problem is.

  • If the article is very short and missing some basic information, tag it as a stub.
  • If the article requires subject-specific attention, refer to Wikipedia:Cleanup resources.
  • If the content is eligible for deletion, according to Wikipedia:Deletion policy, then you should post it on the appropriate deletion page.
  • For everything else, use Wikipedia:Cleanup. Examples:
    • You aren't sure whether something should be merged, deleted, or expanded.
    • Needs formatting, proofreading, or rephrasing in comprehensible English.
    • Multiple overlapping problems.
    • The article is very short and might need removal or merging with a broader article

What's up with all the tags?[edit]

There are a number of specific problems such as WP:NPOV issues, formatting (needs wikification), copy editing (grammar, spelling, etc.), bad style, lack of context, etc., which have specific cleanup tags. These are listed on Wikipedia:Template messages/cleanup. For example, we use {{Cleanup}} to indicate a general cleanup problem not covered by more specific tags.

Adding one of these tags puts the page in an appropriate category under Category:Wikipedia maintenance. There are some editors who go directly to these categories to find articles that need work. Also, articles in these categories will get posted to Template:Opentask if they stay around for too long. Backlogged categories may also get featured on the Wikipedia:Maintenance collaboration of the week.

So why list on Wikipedia:Cleanup? Well, there's a community of editors here who enjoy doing triage work, and who prefer to work off a central listing of newly identified problems. The people here can also help figure out what needs to be done to an article, if you aren't sure. Listing an article here improves the chances it will get fixed sooner rather than later, as compared to simply tagging it.

What happens to older listings?[edit]

Listings from previous months get put on a subpage of Category:Articles needing cleanup. Many of the archived listings still need your attention, so feel free to browse through the older listings! Some editors enjoy fixing the oldest listings first, to try to prevent any one problem from lying around Wikipedia for too long.

To prevent editors from having to repeatedly check whether or not an article has been fixed, the oldest subpages are converted into tags. Any comments put on the central listing are moved to the article's talk page. When the article is fixed, someone will remove the attention tag, and it will automatically be removed from the affiliated cleanup category by the Mediawiki software.

What should I put in my Wikipedia:Cleanup listing?[edit]

  • Keep in mind that editors who see the attention tag will not necessarily see the central listing. If you have any comments necessary to explaining what needs to be done or how to do it, you should add them to the article's talk page.
  • Listings on Wikipedia:Cleanup should be as brief but specific as possible, and just let the editors there know what kind of work the article needs. (Saying an article "needs work" is completely uninformative.)

How can I help maintain the page?[edit]

  • Fix some articles that need cleanup! This keeps the page from getting too long, and of course is the whole reason why this page exists.
  • Remove listings reported as fixed, or reported on another collaboration mechanism (e.g. a deletion page or Wikipedia:Pages needing attention).
  • Archive last month's listings onto a new subpage.
  • Deal with the oldest listings still on subpages.
    • Check to see if they have already been fixed, and if so, de-list them.
    • Move any substantive comments to the article's talk page.
    • Apply a specific tag or add the request to a different collaboration mechanism, if appropriate. (See Wikipedia:Cleanup resources.) Use e.g. {{Cleanup}} (depending on which month's subpage you are working on) for general cleanup problems.
    • Remove the listing so we don't have to keep checking it.
  • Get the oldest tag-only listings for general cleanup fixed.

Advice on fixing articles[edit]

Some common types of entry follow, together with advice on how to handle them.

  • Harmful content (nonsense, personal essays/opinions, accuracy problems, or severe unedited bias): may be fixed by paring down content until nothing objectionable remains.
  • Bad article, likely candidate for deletion - move the entry to AfD. If it isn't voted for deletion it will generally be moved back here, somewhat improved.
  • Bad article, perhaps listed on AfD, but an unlikely candidate for deletion - leave here; try to improve. Cleanup works on a longer timescale than AfD. When in doubt, leave the entry here.
  • Raw text dump - remove only after the article has been wikified, reworded with better encyclopedic style, verified for accuracy, weeded for useless or unremarkable information, and NPOVed.
  • Request for NPOV, fact checking or other faults which could make the article actively harmful - don't remove unless you're sure the article is fixed.
  • Request for expansion of a sub-stub - remove once it's a valid stub, or move it to Wikipedia:Requests for expansion if you think the topic needs more than a stub (see below).
  • Request for expansion of an otherwise fine stub. Most requests of this sort can be moved to Wikipedia:Requests for expansion.
  • Request for expansion of a non-stub, long-term reworking of an article, or better completion of a list, template, or overview - after a week, can be moved to Wikipedia:Requests for expansion. RFE works on a longer timescale than cleanup.

De-listing cleaned articles[edit]

Once you believe an article is clean, de-list by deleting the cleanup tag from the article. This causes the article to drop off the monthly cleanup-needed list page. Also, after you've done that, check the Wikipedia:Cleanup page. If the article was recently tagged for cleanup, it might appear there as well. If so, strike it out with tags like these: 〈s〉 cleaned-article-name 〈/s〉.

As a courtesy, you might want to leave a comment on the talk page of the person who identified it as needing cleanup; if there is much update activity going on or any controversy happening, you might first propose de-listing on the article's talk page.

See also[edit]