|This essay contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.|
- See below: Update November 2008.
Do you consider writing featured articles a tiresome business? Is this a zone only for the geeks from your high school or Wikiholics? Are you an engineer or mathematician who can't find any words? (Just kiddin...) Become a Speedwriter! This page carries a bunch of practical suggestions on how to write quality, high content and value articles in a short period of time. Its not "How to become a good writer" or "How to master the English language." Prose and grammar are the means, not the end. Just help write an encyclopedia – a sober, reliable source of some of the knowledge of humankind.
Why bother with good or featured articles?
The English Wikipedia has crossed more than 1 million articles (before Sept. 2006) and will surely hit 2 million articles in no time (exceeded 2.6 million after mid-2008). The number of reliable and high quality articles is about the same as the number of administrators here: 1,000 [see "Update" below]. Only 1,000 articles are guaranteed to be reliable, unbiased and high quality. Sure, there are smaller articles that give a lot of information, but they're not comprehensive, easy to read or gateways to specialized knowledge about specific subjects. Wikipedia editors seriously need to set themselves a target to transform as many articles as possible into the best content the world has to offer. This is the only way Wikipedia can fulfill its mission and edge out rival projects, or at the very least be the no. 1 one-stop reference point for all human beings with access to the internet.
A practical vision for the Wikipedia community can be to make at least 33% of all articles "good articles" and more than 10% of all articles "features" by 2010 [see "Update" below]. Of course, the two goals must not overlap, must they?
Update November 2008
What you need
Before you start, peruse through the following guidelines and policies. You're not expected to absorb all of it in order to write better, fast. Just get a basic gist; you should know which page talks about grammar so you can quickly flip back to check if you have questions or a doubt.
- Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not
- Wikipedia:Guide to layout
- Wikipedia:Manual of style
- Wikipedia:What is a featured article?
Your best friends
Yes a word processor is a "best friend." But there's more to that concept here. Work is done faster, better when you can get 1–2 other editors to chip in with a bit. You don't have to stake out at wikiprojects and catch up with the drift there. Just drop a note at the village pump or the talkpage of a wikiproject or portal and someone might join you. You're far better off with 1–2 partner editors than trying to rally the masses. You'll be more comfortable if you know someone's got your back, even if it's just the little things.
The most essential parts of a featured or good article are the sources used and the citations of important facts and explanations. Its important to keep things as factual and reliable as possible. Good sources include – books, research papers, newspapers and magazines.
Play to the strengths
OK so you're not Shakespeare (few of us are). Don't bitch about it! Just focus on the target — well-written, reliable points of reference.
Write a great article on:
- a subject that you know well – not just stuff you studied, but what you have dealt with through life. If you've built treehouses for your kids, write about it! If you can fix your own car problems, maybe the article Internal combustion or Automobile is for you.
- Something you got a book about, lying around... This is a good way of reading books that you can't seem to finish reading. An article is a summary which you can later enrich with specific details.
- What about something you would love to learn about? What about something you love to do or talk about? Put it in writing!
Feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of having to write a large body of text? About something you don't exactly understand yourself? Something entirely foreign to you? No fear! You can paraphrase:
- Track down a reputable source, a solid body of text on the subject or section of the article topic.
- Cut and paste into the article, BUT DO NOT SAVE CHANGES! (see WP:COPYVIO).
- Rewrite the passage. You don't need to change every word and sentence – rephrase as much as possible without changing meaning or information.
- Ask another editor to help you re-write, paraphrase the passage.
Things to take care of:
- Do not violate WP:COPYVIO. While information cannot be copyrighted, it is not justifiable to copy and use somebody else's work, nor will it be tolerated.
- Do not import the opinions and perspective of the authors of the work you are paraphrasing. Neutralize the language and remove sentences that carry insinuations, assumption of facts or interpretations. Adapt the passage to WP:NPOV.
Cleansing your work
- DON'T STARE AT THE SCREEN FOR TOO LONG Tired eyes and minds trigger spelling and grammatical mistakes.
- There is no particular need to supplement Wikipedia's editing tools with a word processor, although the benefits are quite clear.
- Go one paragraph at a time. Deal with big articles through sub-sections.
- Use the page search tool to track all the instances of keywords such as "also," "and" and "as well as." At every instance, study the sentence in question and surrounding text — this is a useful way to conduct pin-point examination of prose, instead of having to read all of it altogether.
- Simple sentences yield beautiful prose. Remove words with common meanings, and try using synonyms in different sentences.
- Word processors are helpful in mass changes, such as standardizing between British English and American English, according to the subject of the article. It is easy to make 90% of the changes in one instant — for Australian or British English, use organise instead of organize. Thus, mass search-and-replace of -ise and -ize is a useful method. In the latter case, if words like size are misspelled as "sise," it is easy to detect the problem through the automatic spellcheck.
- There should be no comma before "and" or "as well as." In such cases, people often write as they speak — this is the root cause of many grammar problems.
- Also, inverted commas/quotation marks must follow and not precede full stops/periods. There are considered commonplace and perhaps not mistakes at all. However, I choose to follow the training I was given at school.
|The path to a featured article|