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GA Review[edit]

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Reviewer: Dunkleosteus77 (talk · contribs) 19:09, 30 January 2016 (UTC)

Comments by Dunkleosteus77[edit]

  • Judging by the multiple citation needed tags, I'd say this article is no where near GA quality (I don't even think it's B-class quality). Also, the Phanerozoic Eon section is in serious need of a rewrite (might as well delete it). I'll give you a week to fix the citation needed tags.   User:Dunkleosteus77 |push to talk  19:09, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
No one seems to be interested in rewriting it so we should just delete it. MartinZ02 (talk) 22:35, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
Then delete it or rewrite it yourself   User:Dunkleosteus77 |push to talk  00:50, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Seeing as your username doesn't show up very often on the article's Version History, you might want to ping a more frequent editor for help if you're really serious about this.   User:Dunkleosteus77 |push to talk  19:14, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
  • The lead does not need refs (only for controversial or relatively new information that might be deleted); don't delete the refs, just move them to other sections. Keep the refs for the quote, and the Late Bombardment theory; for the last paragraph, have at most 1 ref after each sentence (and a minimum of none).
  • In every section, instead of wikilinking the word the section's named after, add {{Main|}} to the top. For example, for the Hylomorphism section, add the template {{Main|Hylomorphism}} to the very top of the section (just under the ===Hylomorphism===) instead of wikilinking it in the section itself.
  • Good job with the new section, but the first paragraph is unreferenced. Also, add {{Main|Spontaneous generation}} to the top of the section
  • If you've done a task, please add template {{done}} or simply say "done" below the task.

General comments[edit]

  • In the lead, change "Nonetheless, more than 99 percent of all species, amounting to over five billion species, that ever lived on Earth are estimated to be extinct" to "Nonetheless, it is estimated that 99 percent of all species, amounting to over five billion species, that ever lived on Earth are extinct"
  • In the Materialism section, change "...argued that every thing..." to "...argued that everything..."
  • Wikilink words when they first show up in the article. For example, teology shows up first in the quote in the Materialism section, but is wikilinked in the Hylomorphism section
  • Do not italicize things for effect (like with "purpose" in the Hylomorphism section)
  • In the Vitalism section, give the first and last names (like instead of saying "Nietzsche" say "Friedrich Nietzsche")
  • Only use bulleted list for, say, five points and up. In the Origin section, change the bulleted list to "There is no current scientific consensus as to how life originated. However, most accepted scientific models build on the Miller–Urey experiment, and the work of Sidney Fox, which shows that conditions on the primitive Earth favored chemical reactions that synthesize amino acids and other organic compounds from inorganic precursors, and Phospholipids spontaneously forming a lipid bilayer, the basic structure of a cell membrane."
  • The See also section is for other articles relevant to this one that are not already wikilinked in the article itself. Take out Abiogenesis, Astrobiology, Evolutionary history of life, Biological organisation, and Non-cellular life.


  • ref no. 53 (Paul G. "How to Define Life") is probably not very reliable. Delete (you don't have to replace it because there's a much more verifiable ref right before it)
  • For lists, put the ref in front of the colon, then start the list; the refs just go in front of the colon, nowhere else in the list
  • ref no. 115 has an external link in the work parameter (meaning it says |work=work); there should not be any external links in the any parameter (except for the url parameter of course)
  • Make sure, at the very least, each paragraph has a ref at the very end. In other, words the last period in every paragraph should have a ref directly after it. There are two that don't (I see one in the first paragraph of the Spontaneous generation section)
  • Use this converter to convert ISBN-10 to ISBN-13 as per WP:ISBN
  • I think the death section needs to say that after being brain-dead, parts of the organism still function (to exemplify the blurriness in the limit b/w life and death). Nergaal (talk) 03:55, 28 February 2016 (UTC)


MartinZ02, Dunkleosteus77, where does this review stand now? There haven't been any posts here since February, though there has been editing to the article since then. Can we get this moving again? Thanks. BlueMoonset (talk) 06:29, 27 March 2016 (UTC)

Comments by LT910001[edit]

@BlueMoonset it's clear you've put a lot of effort into this vital article, and it reflects generally in the high overall quality of this article. I am happy to continue and finish this review if there's no response from the other editors (I originally followed this review to see if they would comment on one or two things.) I have experience reviewing (and writing) some large, broad and complex articles and am happy to discuss the below with you.

Because Life is such a vital and broad topic, I hope you don't mind my comments even at this late time.

In terms of the GA criteria, I think some issues need addressing in terms of the six criteria (WP:GA?)

  1. The lead sentence ("lead")
    • I think the lead sentence is essential to an article like this, which is probably viewed by readers from kindergarten up to biology students or academics. This article would benefit from a shorter, simpler lead sentence:
      1. I suggest move examples and what life is not into a separate sentence ("Life is a characteristic distinguishing physical entities having biological processes, such as signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased, or because they never had such functions and are classified as inanimate)
      2. I suggest rewording this so that the definition is not tautological ("Life is a characteristic distinguishing physical entities having biological processes" ). To me, this states life is defined by creatures with biological processes, which are processes present in living things
      3. I suggest look up some online definitions in dictionaries to see how this could be refined and simplified for the benefit of readers
  1. Religion. This falls under "Broadness". This should definitely be mentioned in "Theories of life"
  2. Section titles - relating to "Well written"

I suggest the following structure for clarity. It's currently a little hard to follow the flow of the article, and headings don't always match the content of sections:

  • Definitions
  • Origin (subsection "Environmental requirements")
  • Types (subsection "Cells", "Classification", "Viruses")
  • Location (subsection "Extraterrestrial life")
  • Research (subsection "Artificial life")
  • History

I suggest split up and rename the following sections

  • Move "Viruses" from "Definition" to the new subsection "Types"
  • Rename "Form and function" to "Types" and move most of the content to a subsection "Cells"
  • Make "Classification" a subsection of "Types"
  • Move most of the content in "Definition#Ecology and living systems theory" to a new section "Research"
  • Remove the subsection titles in "Biology" and "Alternatives" (they are very small subsections), or rename "Alternatives" to "Alternative definitions"
  • "Early theories" - move to "History" or subsections in "Origin"
  • "Environmental conditions" - rename to "Location" and move the part about cells and what they need to "Origin#Environmental requirements"
  • "Extraterrestrial life" - move to "Location" as a subsection
  • "Artificial life" - move to "Research" as a subsection

If there are no updates from the reviewers, or they are happy for me to take over this review, I will summarise where we are up to according to the good article criteria and complete the review. --Tom (LT) (talk) 07:17, 27 March 2016 (UTC)

Tom (LT), while I think other viewpoints are always useful, especially on such a broad topic/article such as this one, I'm just a bystander. MartinZ02 is the nominator, while Dunkleosteus77 is the reviewer. I noticed that the review was eight weeks old—the fourth oldest extant GA review—and also that it seemed to be inactive with no posts at all for the second half of that time period, thus the query. I'll let them chime in on where they stand at present. Thank you for your thoughts and your willingness to take over, should it be necessary. BlueMoonset (talk) 15:02, 27 March 2016 (UTC)

Concerns - article not broad enough[edit]

Having had a couple of days to look over this article, I do not think this article is ready for GA status, mainly based on the "broadness" of the article. There are a number of areas that should be addressed. Some areas that in my opinion are lacking:

  • Increased coverage of the definitions of life, including religious and philosophical views
  • Coverage of the parts of life, including ageing, disease, reproduction, and activities.
  • Greater coverage of the diversity of multicellular organisms, including animals and plants and humans
  • Coverage of ecosystems and how life interacts
  • Coverage of the metabolic and environmental processes essential to most life on the planet, including photosynthesis, carbon, nitrogen, and water cycles, homeostasis and any other important biological concepts

This is not to take anything away from the authors of the article, who have clearly put a lot of work into it... but that said, Rome wasn't built in a day, and I don't think the article is ready at the moment. I think after failing the review, some concrete actions would be:

  • starting a peer review (WP:PR) with requests placed for attention at (at the least) wikiproject biology, wikiproject medicine, wikiproject philosophy
  • looking at some similar articles, such as encyclopedia britannica, world book and alternative language wikipedias (the spanish one is quite good IMO, and there are at least two other GA/FAs in other languages)

Kindly, --Tom (LT) (talk) 16:43, 31 March 2016 (UTC)

I think we have to be careful here; the article is already longish as is. There's still room for some growth, but all of the topics listed above already have some purchase in the article, and to expand on each to a significant degree would definitely run up against WP:Summary style in a hurry. I'm particularly cautious about expanding too far into religious definitions, which are a massive topic in themselves. Certainly there should be some reference to non-biological concepts, but at present the article seems to be primarily discussing "life" in the scientific sense, regarding organisms as understood by empirical observation. Now, there's no reason it necessarily "should" be that way, but at some point we are going to have to decide to scale back certain elements to accommodate others, and it might be worth making tactical decisions about that now, rather than later.
For example, I wonder if we need such extensive summaries in the "History" section for four different articles pertaining to ancient/antiquated concepts about the origin of life. These are less about the concept of life as the physical process as we understand it today and more about history and philosophical contemplations about reality, primitive concepts of abiogenesis, and folk cosmogony. The fact that some of these notions persisted right up until about the modern era not withstanding, I think maybe two to four paraphs with appropriate internal links would suffice to describe these concepts in a manner consistent with summary style, rather than the massive sprawl we have right now. In other words, I don't necessarily disagree with your recommendation to expand the scope of the article, but I think it needs to be done in a restrained manner. Snow let's rap 01:12, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments Snow Rise.
Life is just such a broad topic I think an article on it will necessarily be quite large, as there are many areas to cover. In terms of this specific review I do not think the article is "broad" enough to pass.
As you state, and I think the view that underlies what you write, is that this article doesn't necessary need just length along, but it does need the attention of other editors to make sure that all areas are covered in sufficient (but not excessive) depth.
That said, I've seen much longer articles, and would expect such a broad topic to have an article that's fairly long, and I see no reason why this article couldn't expand somewhat to cope with some extra content rather than to have new additions be matched by deletions for the sake of length alone - although there are other reasons content could be moved, as you outline above.
As you also state, and I agree, the way forward for a big article like this are lots of smaller sections written in summary style with hatnotes to point to main articles. --Tom (LT) (talk) 03:05, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
Yes, I think we're on the same page here, my initial comments not withstanding. I should probably clarify that I think they article could easily be 1.5x its current length without running up against summary style, precisely because, as you say, the topic is so broad. But at the same time, that extra 50% of space could be filled in a blink, owing to the same fact of the breadth of topics needing coverage here. For example, there's no section on genetics as yet,and that topic ultimately deserves a chunk of real estate here. In general, I think the prose just needs to be tightened up for a lot fo sections. There's some redundancy in place and also too much focus on the historical development of the sciences and schools of thought involved in the examination of life (and I speak not just of the history section here, but others as well). That's all valuable information, of course, but some of it is more appropriate to articles about those fields and their development than an article about life itself. For example, the "Classification" section is pretty clunky, and heavy with the history of different trends and thinkers in that concept from the ancients to just into the modern era, but there's only superficial detail about actual phylogenetics or taxonomy. That feels like misplaced emphasis to me. It's also lead to a fair deal of clutter and ungainly layout that will frustrate any effort at getting the article judged GA. If I can find some time in the next couple of days, I will sandbox drafts of new versions of some of these sections (starting with classification) and submit them for consideration on the talk page. Snow let's rap 03:52, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
Thanks. I will boldly mark this review as not passed and will help you and the nominator MartinZ02, who has thus far put a stellar job into improving the article, to improve the article further. Let's continue the discussion on the article's talk page. --Tom (LT) (talk) 05:05, 4 April 2016 (UTC)

Review closure[edit]

MartinZ02, you've put a stellar job into this article. Well done for your current efforts - the article is well sourced and well written, but may need to be expanded a little before it's suitable for GA. As stated this is a very broad article that is very difficult for a single editor to get to GA by virtue of being a long and complex topic. Hopefully we can provide some extra hands to lift it up to GA in the future. --Tom (LT) (talk) 05:15, 4 April 2016 (UTC)