User:Tony1/How to find good copy-editors

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A significant proportion of featured article candidates are not written to the required ‘professional’ standard. This situation arises because many Wikipedians have specialised knowledge and wish to do this justice by seeking the ‘gold star’ for their articles; however, far fewer people are able to write and edit an article to satisfy Criterion 1a, which insists on ‘engaging, even brilliant’ prose.

There's a chronic shortage of good copy-editors on Wikipedia. If you're not a skilled copy-editor, you’ll need to collaborate with those who are; it’s much better to arrange this before you put your article through the rigorous FAC process. Good copy-editors should still network with others; see strategic distance.

Collaboration is a key feature of working on Wikipedia, and we should be delighted that we now have this extraordinary functionality to network with like-minded people all over the English-speaking world. It’s part of the fun of the project, and a great way to make friends. To assist in casting your collaborative net over the project, it’s a good idea to make a list of your fellow Wikipedians who might be interested in your topics, listing their interests and skills. Think of ways in which you might reciprocate, to give these people good reasons to work with you.

This page will help you locate the right people. You may wish to open a second window on this page so that you can follow our links while continuing to read through the process we describe.

You’ll need to look for people with three key attributes: (1) interest in your topic, (2) skill at copy-editing, and (3) willingness and availability.

(1) Interest in your topic[edit]

Logo you were the missing piece.png

Identify featured articles on related topics. For example, if you want to prepare the article on Saint Petersburg—the great Russian city—for nomination as a featured article candidate, you might start by searching the list of FAs at Geography and places. Unfortunately, there are no Russian topics here, but we're in luck—History yields at least three related articles: History of Russia, History of post-Soviet Russia, and Russian constitutional crisis of 1993. Further down, 'Language and linguistics' yields Russian language, 'Literature' yields The Brothers Karamazov, and 'War' yields Military history of the Soviet Union, Polish-Muscovite War (1605–1618), Polish-Soviet War, and Battle of Smolensk (1943).

If you need to locate more related articles, try:

In all cases, be selective—the quality of the articles will vary greatly.

(2) Skill at language editing[edit]

After identifying articles edited by involved Wikipedians with an interest in the field, your task is to narrow the focus to users who are good copy-editors. Discard poorly written articles, and go straight to the edit history of the most promising article, by clicking on 'history' at the top. If your connection is fast enough, go straight to the previous 500 logs.

Wikipedians tend to carve out particular roles in the project—all of them valuable. You'll be able to tell a lot about those roles from the edit summaries (in parentheses).


  • There are those who mostly perform administrative and clerical duties; bless them. Some of these people make reversions of inappropriate edits, e.g., "(rv anon edit)"; some deal with images and link repairs and redirects; some protect us against the unscrupulous, e.g., "(don't you dare troll the FAs)".
  • There are those who apply their knowledge to constructing and improving the article, but who tend not to perform copy-editing duties, e.g., "(annexation was unilateral, Poland was partitioned through treaties)".
  • There are those who work through relatively large amounts of the text just to improve the language, e.g., "(copy-edit)", or "(ce)". One of the signs of this is a sequence of consecutive edits in different subsections—sometimes with, sometimes without edit summaries.

It's this last group of people you're trying to locate (the second-last group may also be copy-editors—sometimes it's hard to tell from the edit summaries alone). Click the button one below the first edit in a sequence, and the button for the last edit in the sequence, to check whether someone really does perform serious copy-editing.

  • Here's an example of someone who clearly has knowledge of the topic, but is not copy-editing.
  • Here's an example of someone who is making improvements to pre-existing text. In fact, this person's use of language is good, but this may not always be easy to determine.
  • Here's an example of a series of edits more focused on improving language. You can tell from the scattered editing patterns that these are likely to be purely linguistic improvements. This contributor may be a good person to ask for help.

(3) Willingness and availability[edit]

Having identified potential copy-editors, research their user, talk and contribution pages. Ensure that they are active enough to copyedit your article.

Approach them by indicating that you have knowledge of their work on WP, and admire their copy-editing ability. Ideally, you'll be in a position to offer something in return.

Please don't be offended if your request is met by silence or refusal. Many Wikipedians who can copy-edit skillfully are flooded with requests and have heavy commitments in the real world. This is all the more reason to embark on your exciting plan to become a good writer yourself.

Good luck! Smile.png