This edition covers content promoted between 29 July and 4 August 2012
This week the Signpost interviews Casliber, an editor who has written or contributed significantly to a startling 69 featured articles. We learn what makes him tick, why he edits, and why he can write on everything from vampires to dinosaurs, birds to plants. He also gives some advice to budding featured article writers.
A banksia; Casliber was interested in improving the article since his early days on Wikipedia.
On editing and featured content
I've been on a few game shows over the years, and had read bits and pieces of Wikipedia to remember trivia. Then I figured that editing and improving or correcting things would help me retain facts better, however I gravitated straightaway to editing banksias and dinosaurs, which I was interested in at the time; My first DYK came as a bit of a (welcome) surprise (I was busy making new articles)... and off I went. Hesperian and I discussed making Banksia a Featured Article very soon after I got here.
What initially attracted me to featured content was that it gives one's edits/improvements some permanence or stability, as I was dismayed with the idea that what I wrote would be subsequently erased. Featured content is the best thing we have short of Stable Versions. It marks a point where consensus has been reached on quality, and can be referred easily to later by anyone if or when the article degrades. This still remains my biggest motivator for pushing articles to FA status. I also think it helps us all be better writers; by promoting collaboration and review we can find out about our own weaknesses in writing. For instance, I can be a slob so it helps me actually finish things in less of a slap-dash way For the reader, I see the role of Featured Articles as twofold – laypeople can soak up information, and experts can scan the references for the sources to hunt up on if they've missed them elsewhere.
I have soft spots for almost all of the articles I've written, but some of the biggies were epic and a real pleasure afterwards to look back and go, "wow!". Vampire, Sirius, [and] Lion are some which come to mind which I look back on and feel most impressed by. Some are definitely easier than others – it is funny how sometimes they come together almost naturally and other times they just....don't. My most difficult featured article candidacy was major depressive disorder, which was finally promoted after something like six weeks, including a lengthy first page and restart. This was a group collaboration and to be fair I wasn't as thorough in checking sources as I am now. Medical articles have stricter sourcing guidelines, but relations deteriorated badly with one reviewer which sidelined the FAC somewhat.
Collaborations are an integral part of editing and most have been very enjoyable – many of the Bird WikiProject editors have joined in on various bird articles I've worked on. Helpful in a different way are the reviewers. Sasata, Ucucha and J Milburn are three who come to mind who are incredibly thorough and clinical in their dissection of stuff I put forward. Guettarda and Hesperian with writing plant articles, Circeus loves taxonomic conundrums and, of course, Sasata with fungi. The Dinosaur Wikiproject was quite active when I began so we had collaborations happening which were a lot of fun. I miss some of the dino editors, who are not now editing, as we buffed a fair few articles. Writing medical articles – part of my real-life work – is too much like... ummm... work. But seriously, I have been meaning to. One has to reach a certain level of enthusiasm and sustain it to the end to carry it through the process. Best I can say is, "watch this space".
On participating at FAC
New participants should keep upbeat, try to do everything possible to improve the article beforehand, and always respond to reviewers' concerns promptly – if you can't find sources say so, if you don't feel the point made is warranted, explain calmly why not. As a reviewer, I place a lower priority on reviewing articles where I see concerns unanswered or dismissed out of hand. The added rigour of the FA process combined with the lack of Peer Reviewing has meant that the GA reviewing process is a good thorough review-point and can act as a way-station on the way to FAC. It helps articles be better prepared for FAC. When reviewing GAs, I try to give nominees a big a shove as possible toward FAC.
Lettuce, a new featured article this week, was developed as part of the Core Contest, which focuses on improving high-importance articles. Casliber has been integral to the contest in both its past and current iterations.
For narrow or esoteric articles it is a reasonably straightforward matter of harvesting all available material and reviewing it. Broader articles become trickier as one needs to become more discerning about what to include, how much to weight it, and what to (possibly) leave out... and then on really big articles the subject of maximum prose size invariably comes up. Long articles are always tricky at FAC as a lot can go wrong and be very time-consuming to correct. It is true that (well, for me anyway) there needs to be a significant amount of enthusiasm to really carry a subject/article all the way to FA status, and mine has waxed, waned and shifted over time.
Generally the work required goes up dramatically with the size and breadth of an article. As well, some articles seem to "come together" a lot more easily than others and it can be hard to pinpoint why. Often when I've tried to improve some large existing chunk of content, I've found it a more laborious process than if I'd started from scratch. Oftentimes one has no choice if one decides to hoe into an established article to buff it for GA/FA, but is worth being aware of. The good thing is that one can always walk away for a while and come back later, which often brings new insights and a fresh look. This then is an interesting learning process at how to work through writing blocks as well, which inspires me to finish the job. The level of enthusiasm required to carry an article "all the way" makes forcing people to work on core content difficult, if not impossible. To this end, I much prefer the idea of carrots rather than sticks, which is why I've always tried to promote WikiProject collaborations (though this has met with very limited success in recent years) and the Core Contest.
For a first up, pick a reasonably narrow well-circumscribed topic you know well, and hopefully for which there is a template or format, then read the recipe below:
add everything one can think of for comprehensiveness grounds, especially critique/commentary etc.
ensure all referenced with inline reliable sources
copyedit (ideally wait until all material added, but often tidying along the way is unavoidable)
ask 1–2 uninvolved folks to take a squiz.
See if the GA reviewer suggested "bonus stuff" to work on before FAC
FAC and presto, one Featured Article...
It's a great way to improve writing and making sure some of your work "sticks".
Maya Angelou (nom) by Figureskatingfan. Angelou (b. 1928) is an American author and poet best known for her six autobiographies, which include themes of racism, identity, family, and travel. She has also had five books of essays and several books of poetry published, and is credited in plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than fifty years. The recipient of dozens of awards and over thirty honorary doctoral degrees, she holds the Reynolds Professorship of American Studies at Wake Forest University, and has made numerous public lectures.
HMS Hermes (95) (nom) by Sturmvogel 66. Hermes was the first ship to be designed and built as an aircraft carrier, but owing to several delays was not the first commissioned. The Royal Navy ship spent most of her career with the Mediterranean Fleet and on the China Station. Placed in reserve in 1938, she was recalled during World War II, working in European waters before being transferred to Asia. Hermes was sunk in 1942 near Batticaloa.
"Triangle" (The X-Files) (nom) by Gen. Quon. "Triangle", the third episode of the sixth season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files, was written by series creator Chris Carter. The storyline follows Agent Mulder as he is caught in a time warp. Inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's film Rope, it was filmed and edited to appear as a single take. "Triangle" premiered on November 22, 1998, receiving positive reviews and being viewed by 18.20 million people.
Clarence 13X (nom) by Mark Arsten. Clarence Edward Smith (1928–1969), also known as Clarence 13X, was an American religious leader who founded the Five Percent movement. Initially part of the Nation of Islam, he left the group to establish the Five Percenters, teaching that that all black men were divine and that God was found within each of them. Although he initially taught his followers to hate white people, he eventually began to cooperate with white city leaders and became a community leader until his assassination.
History of Mars observation (nom) by RJH. The recorded history of Mars observation dates back to ancient Egyptian astronomers in the 2nd millennium BCE. Various cultures have used differing techniques to learn about the Red Planet, including its size and relation to Earth. The first telescopic observation came in 1610, and within a century, astronomers had discovered visible features with distinct albedos. During the past century humans have made increasingly accurate observations with advanced technology, dispelling previous misunderstandings.
Poppy Meadow (nom) by M.Mario, Frickative, and Malleus Fatuorum. Meadow is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Rachel Bright. Introduced in January 2011, she met with critical derision, but after returning in June of that year she was better received: The Guardian critic Stuart Heritage considered Poppy to be "perhaps the greatest television bit-part character of the modern age". She left for another seven months beginning in November, but as of publication continues to appear as a minor character.
Lettuce (nom) by Dana boomer. Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is an annual plant of the aster or sunflower family. Most often grown as a vegetable, it was first cultivated by ancient Egyptians. Since then numerous varieties have been grown and consumption has spread throughout the world. World production of lettuce and chicory for calendar year 2010 stood at 23,620,000 metric tons, over half of which came from China. The plant is a good source of vitamin A and potassium, but sometimes also a source of bacterial, viral and parasitic outbreaks in humans.
Fifteen featured lists were promoted this week:
Polar Music Prize (nom) by GreatOrangePumpkin. The Polar Music Prize, an annual Swedish international award, has been given forty times since 1992. Awardees receive 1 million kr (approximately US$144,000) and are selected by a committee of musicians and music critics. It is considered one of the foremost musical awards.
List of Awake episodes (nom) by TBrandley. During its single year of broadcast (2012) the American police procedural drama television series Awake had thirteen episodes. Initially feared to be too complex for mainstream audiences, on average the show was viewed by 4.8 million persons per episode and well received.
List of Ed, Edd n Eddy episodes (nom) by Khanassassin. The Canadian animated comedy television series Ed, Edd n Eddy broadcast 131 episodes over six seasons (between 1999 and 2009). All directed by Danny Antonucci, the episodes generally received positive reviews and large viewerships.
List of protected cruisers of Germany (nom) by Parsecboy. The German Imperial Navy built eight protected cruisers in the 1880s and 1890s before the type was superseded by armored cruisers. These ships were influenced by foreign ones and mostly served overseas. All were broken up for scrap in the early 1920s.
MercyMe discography (nom) by Toa Nidhiki05. The American Christian rock band MercyMe has released 36 recordings since being established in 1994. They released six independent albums before being signed in 2001. Their initial studio albums charted gold or higher, while their debut single "I Can Only Imagine" reached platinum.
List of accolades received by Mr. Nobody (nom) by Earthh. The 2009 Belgian science fiction drama film Mr. Nobody has received accolades in categories ranging from recognition of the film itself, to its cinematography, direction and editing, to the cast's performance. It won a total of 18 out of 32 nominations.
List of battlecruisers of the United States (nom) by Sturmvogel 66 and Dank. The US began building a series of battlecruisers in the 1920s, but after an armistice with Great Britain, the majority were cancelled. Of the twelve battlecruisers and large cruisers ordered, only five were completed (two as aircraft carriers).
List of field marshals of the British Army (nom) by HJ Mitchell. The rank of Field Marshall, the highest in the British Army since 1736, has been held by 140 men. The majority were professional soldiers, although the rank has also been granted ceremonially to British sovereigns and foreign nationals. There are currently seven living Field Marshals.
Backstreet Boys discography (nom) by KingdomHearts25. The Backstreet Boys, an American pop vocal group, have released 59 recordings (including 25 music videos) since their first single "We've Got It Goin' On" in 1995. Their best-selling work, Millennium, sold over 30 million copies internationally.
List of Formula One circuits (nom) by NapHit. The Grand Prix of Formula One, the highest class of open-wheeled auto racing, has been held on 68 circuits worldwide since being established in 1950, with the Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Italy having hosted the most. Two further circuits, one in the US and one in Russia, are currently proposed.
50 home run club (nom) by Bloom6132. The 50 home run club is the group of batters who have hit 50 or more home runs in a single season of North America's Major League Baseball. Twenty-six men have hit that mark, following Babe Ruth's lead; fifteen of these were in the past 17 years. Nine batters have reached the milestone more than once.
List of Malmö FF players (nom) by Reckless182. The Swedish professional association football club Malmö Fotbollförening has had 85 players make more than 100 appearances for the team since it was established in 1910. Krister Kristensson has made the most appearances, while Hans Håkansson has the most goals.
Two featured pictures were promoted this week:
Papilio machaon (nom; related article), created by Archaeodontosaurus and nominated by Tomer T. Papilio machaon is a butterfly of the family Papilionidae found in the Palearctic region in Europe and Asia and throughout North America. Its wings have trailing elements resembling the tails of swallowtails.