User:Giggy/A noob's guide to GA reviewing

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This isn't supposed to be a definitive guide on how to review GANs, and if you treat it as such I'll be forced to change it to something totally unworkable. So don't. It's advice; that's all. dihydrogen monoxide (H20) 06:28, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

The "noob" in the page title is me, not you. dihydrogen monoxide (H2O) 02:42, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

Getting started[edit]

Well, to get started, go to WP:GAN. Chances are you've been here before...otherwise, you're probably better off writing a few articles yourself, just to get the hang of...things. At GAN, read the header...there's some useful information there about what GA is, what takes place on the page, etc.

Read the criteria if you haven't done so already. In fact, read it anyway!

Do your homework[edit]

No, not your real homework - which you should have completed before fooling around on Wikipedia - but the necessary bit of homework needed to efficiently and quickly review an article. Check the Good articles and the Featured articles lists and try to find a similar article to your review article. Keep the article open in a separate tab or window so that you can cross-compare. For some types of articles, don't forget to check Encarta or another on-line reference source to cross-compare.

Cross-comparing against a 'good' article makes it really obvious if there are any problems with the article you are reviewing. This is especially true for omissions; all the stuff that isn't in the article but should be. It is easy to be fooled by concentrating on problems of style and not see that whole sections are missing.

Choosing an article[edit]

Go to the toc, and try and find a subject area that takes your fancy. Music, history, places, science, whatever floats your boat. Having chosen that topic and clicked its entry on the toc, you'll see a list of nominees in that subject area.

You're *supposed* to choose the one at the top of the list as it's been waiting the longest, but you don't have to. Most experienced reviewers will shoot through random categories reviewing the oldest articles, using the backlog notice at the top. No need for you to steal their fun! Instead, look through the list and find the article that sounds the most interesting to you. If you see something that you know a bit about, that'll also make your reviewing experience that little bit easier.[1]


Open the article's talk page in edit mode, and the article itself. Leave the GAN page open in another tab, just for reference and for some template stuff later on.

There are plenty of ways to actually set out your review, and it really, truly, does not matter at all which way you do it. Let's assume you're putting the article on hold.[2] On GAN, go towards the top of the page, and find the on hold section. Read the instructions there, and copypaste the on hold variant of {{GA nominee}}. Add this to the top of the article's talk page, replacing the current {{GA nominee}}.

Now for the fun part...

Using the on hold template[edit]

Click on the link to the template, just below where you got your on hold tag for the article. Copy paste all the code from the template's description page, and insert this at the bottom of your article's talk page. Now, start filling stuff in!

Well written
This is where you add commentary relating to prose, etc. Criterion 1.
Factual accuracy
Are the references reliable? Are they formatted properly?
Does it cover all aspects of the topic? Is it missing anything you'd expect to want to know when reading the article?
Does the article call Johnny a legend and Jimmy a wanker with no sources or justification?
Edit wars, or regular changes.[3]
Not having images isn't going to stop the article meeting GA status. If there are images, are they fair use, and do they have proper rationales? Do the images have appropriate captions?


This is how I do things. Basically, you just list things (using *) as you see them, and then the nominator can indent their responses, or whatever. Quick and easy...and a bit too simple for some![4]

Reviewing tips, and things to look for[edit]

  • If the article is (semi-)protected, this could be due to an edit war. If so, it automatically fails that critierion, and thus fails its GA nom.
  • Cleanup templates result in a quick fail, unless they shouldn't be there.[5]
  • Having a few {{fact}} tags at the start of the review is OK, but be sure to point them out; you shouldn't pass the GA until they are sorted.
  • References need to go after some form of punctuation (,."-), not before it, and with no spaces between.
  • If you haven't already, check out Wikipedia:Guide for nominating good articles and see if the article meets the stuff listed there. Point editors towards it - even experienced editors will find it useful.
  • Keep an eye out on external links; in most cases, there is an abundance of links that could be used as inline references, and that shouldn't be in the EL section anyway
  • The lead is often drilled in GA reviews - make sure you do too! Check length, clarity, broadness of coverage, etc.
  • If you're feeling lazy or are trying to burn a few reviews in a short amount of time (please please please don't do this if you're new to GA), you can often see obvious prose issues at a glance, so skim through.[6]
    • Paragraphs that are highly sourced or wikilinked are often quoting statistics etc., and changes of there being prose issues or other things to pick up on there are less likely than in paragraphs with less links, one ref at the end, and longer sentences.
  • If you need help, ASK. Go to WT:GAN and ask the people there for opinions on your review, or on the article, or on anything.
  • It's tedious and pointless (in most cases) to check refs inline, just check them all when you've read through the rest of the article. HOWEVER, if you see a potentially contentious statement in the article, ensure it's sourced to something that actually backs it up.
  • Insist on reliable sources, or the FAC regulars will eat us.
  • If there are more than 10 refs, {{reflist|2}} should be used, and if the references are generally quite short, {{reflist|3}} can be used if you have 15 or more.[7]
  • Install popups and check disambiguation links. Fix them if you can, but if there are lots or if you aren't sure, make a note of them in your review.[8]

When the review is done[edit]

Finish off the review, with all the notes you've made about the article. Preview and save the talk page, then go back to GAN and add the on hold template below the article.[9] On the article's talk page, invite the author to review a GAN![10]

Now sit back and enjoy getting your GANs reviewed faster, thanks to the work you've done in shortening the backlog. Don't sit back for too long another one!


  1. ^ In other words, don't review the Alkane article if you slept through chemistry.
  2. ^ I find myself starting my GA review by adding the on hold templates, and only changing these to passes/fails in very extreme circumstances. So it's a good place to start.
  3. ^ Causes for this could be a newly released album or movie, a presidential campaign, or a bomb having gone off...basically, stuff that's likely to change in the near future with new information coming to light.
  4. ^ I suppose if you're starting it's probably better to use a template which reminds you of the criteria...
  5. ^ eg. an {{unreferenced}} in the 20-refs notes section
  6. ^ Don't bother reading quotes in such cases as the prose issues there need to be replicated in the quote.
  7. ^ This sorts them into columns....but rarely works in IE
  8. ^ Another way to check if you're lazy or the article is long is to use the Veropedia parser...which takes a long time anyway, but you can let it run while reviewing. Not sure if it's worth it...up to you.
  9. ^ Or follow the pass/fail instructions if that's what you've done to the article.
  10. ^ This may be more appropriate when you pass the article, but whatever.