Wikipedia:Reviewing good articles

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This guideline helps editors review Good article nominations. If you want to discuss the decision of a reviewer, please see Good article reassessment

Good articles meet a set of minimum standards (the Good article criteria) for quality of writing, factual accuracy and attribution, broadness of coverage, stability, and appropriate use of images. This guideline provides advice on how to review fairly against these criteria and hence decide whether to list a nomination as a Good article.

About the process[edit]

The Good article (GA) process is intentionally lightweight. Anyone, including unregistered users, can nominate an article and (subject to the next two paragraphs) any registered user can review: multiple votes, consensus building, and committees are not required.[1]

The process is dependent on reviewer integrity. Reviewers may not review articles that they have edited significantly, and they should focus on determining whether the article meets the Good article criteria. The review should not be influenced by beliefs about how the article could be made "perfect", by how the reviewer would have written the article, or by personal feelings about the article topic.[2] Reviewers should aim to advise on content and form rather than to impose their preferences. A reviewer involved in a contentious discussion should consider withdrawing, so that a less-involved editor can make the final assessment and decision on the Good article criteria.

A reviewer should be able to read the article critically and apply the Good article criteria fairly. If the reviewer believes that the criteria are met, then the reviewer should list it as a Good article. If any of the criteria are not met, the reviewer has two options:

  • If the problems are minor or easy to fix, the reviewer can simply fix them or may place the nomination "on hold" for a period of time to give regular editors of the article time to address the reviewer's suggestions. This is the recommended procedure for typical nominations.
  • If the problems are substantial or extensive, the nomination can be failed. In the latter case, the editors at the article should be invited to renominate the article once it has been improved; the Good article criteria are achievable in almost any article, and there is no minimum time between nominations. "Quick-failing" articles sometimes irritates editors who are keen to improve the article. (If you fail an article and then discover that the editors appear willing to make significant improvements, it is possible to re-open the review.)

The nominator is the person who listed the article at the Good article nominations page. It is not a special position, does not indicate that the person has had any involvement in improving the article, and the nominator has no duty to participate in the review. All editors at the article are encouraged to participate on an equal basis, but no one is required to participate in the review or interact with the reviewer. In nominating the article, the nominator indicates that he or she believes the article to meet the criteria; if the nominator later changes their mind, he/she may withdraw the nomination. If the review has not begun, then withdrawal requires only deleting the GA nominations template from the article's talk page. If a review is already underway, then, unless there are exceptional circumstances, the reviewer should promptly close it as "not listed".

Why articles are nominated for Good article status[edit]

Nominations are occasionally made by editors who happen upon an article that they believe is good quality, but the majority are made by editors who have spent extensive time working on the nominated article and are interested in improving it.

The Good article process is one of Wikipedia's systems for providing a detailed review of an article. Regardless of whether the article meets the criteria, most of the editors at a nominated article appreciate receiving concrete, specific suggestions about how the article could be improved. If making suggestions about how to improve the article, reviewers must clearly differentiate between improvements necessary to meet the actual standard Good article criteria and ideas that might help the article meet A-class criteria or featured article criteria.

How to review a Good article nomination[edit]

The process and mechanics of reviewing a nomination are described by the guidelines at the top of the Good article nominations page. The guidelines below focus instead on the evaluation and decision-making involved in reviewing a nomination.

First things to look for[edit]

Before conducting an extensive review, and after ensuring you are viewing an unvandalized version, check that the article does not have cleanup banners that are obviously still valid, including {{cleanup}}, {{POV}}, {{unreferenced}} or large numbers of {{citation needed}}, {{clarify}}, or similar inline tags.[3] If it does you are entitled to fail the article without reviewing further. You can also give the nominator a chance to address the tagged issues if you wish. You should also check to see if the article has been nominated previously and if there are any outstanding issues from the last review.

If while reading the article you think that it falls a long way short of the six criteria you have the option of making a note of how it doesn't meet the criteria on the review page and failing the article without placing it on hold. The reviewer has some discretion when it comes to this option, but it should only really be used when they think the issue can not be solved in a reasonable amount of time or without major rewrites.[4] If at any time you find significant close paraphrasing or copyright violations the article can also be failed without further review.

Assessing the article and providing a review[edit]

If a nomination requires a detailed review, there are two basic steps: assessing the article against the Good article criteria, and communicating this assessment to other editors. For both steps, you may find it helpful to use a checklist, such as {{GAList}}, {{GAList2}} or {{subst:GATable}}; however, this is not required, and if you prefer to communicate your assessment purely in prose, do so.

Step 1. As you read through the article, keep in mind the Good article criteria.

  1. The article should be clearly written, in good prose, with correct spelling and grammar. Check for coherent formatting, good organization of the article into sections, appropriate use of wikilinks, and other aspects of the Manual of Style referred to in the Good article criteria. After you have read the article, check that the lead section is a good summary and introduction to the topic.
  2. The article should be factually accurate according to reliable sources, with inline citations (typically using either footnotes or Harvard (parenthetical) references) for the six types of material named in the GA criteria.[5] The article should not copy text from sources without quotation or in text attribution, and it should not contain any original synthesis of source material, or other forms of original research. Perfectly formatted citations are not required. Read the detailed guidance at WP:DEADREF before addressing any non-functional URLs.
  3. The article should broadly cover the topic without unnecessary digressions. The article may, and sometimes should, go into detail, but it is not required to be comprehensive.
  4. The article should be written from the neutral point of view: this viewpoint strives to represent all other views fairly, proportionately, and without bias. Ensure that the article describes disputes without engaging in them.
  5. The article should be stable, with no ongoing edit wars: constructive article improvement and routine editing does not apply here.
  6. The article should comply with image use policy. Images are encouraged but not required. Any images used should be appropriate to the article, have captions and free licenses or valid fair use rationales.
  7. The article is free of obvious copyright violations. Reviewers can use several tools, as well as Google searches, to help establish whether material has been plagiarised or cut-and-paste from some of the electronic sources used; but this is not a trivial undertaking.

Ideally, a reviewer will have access to all of the source material, and sufficient expertise to verify that the article reflects the content of the sources; this ideal is not often attained.

  • At a bare minimum, check that the sources used are reliable (for example, blogs are not usually reliable sources) and that those you can access support the content of the article (for example, inline citations lead to sources which agree with what the article says) and are not plagiarized (for example, close paraphrasing of source material should only be used where appropriate, with in text attribution if necessary). If you can not access most of the references you should confirm the most important content of the article via alternative means. Reviewers can confirm information from sources they cannot access at the resource exchange or request translations at Wikipedia:Translation. Beware of on-line sources that have copied content from Wikipedia.
  • Copyvios and plagiarism might be found by detailed checking of referenced material against the declared sources used in the article, but is more difficult in those cases where undeclared sources have also been employed. For book sources: digital images of some out of copyright books may be found through ebook sites, electronic archives, such as Project Gutenberg, and on Google books. For books still in print, Amazon in its many forms (i.e. by country, such as: .com, .ca, .co.uk, .fr, etc.) has selected images of some copyrighted books, where the copyright holder has given permission, and this may vary from country to country; otherwise the books themselves may need to be consulted in a library and/or borrowed. Some journals and newspapers have also been archived and are available in electronic form, such as The Times, The Washington Post, etc. The use of some of these sites may be free, provided that you register with them; others will be subscription only, but some public library borrowing cards and/or university library cards do provide free access for their members to certain sites of their choosing. Google internet searches can also be used by copying sentences from the article and putting them into the search box. If any are found, the Duplication Detector can be used to detect instances of plagiarism or copyvio. Here the reviewer needs to enter the article's url and the source url into the two fields and the software compares them. It is usually best to start with sentences that appear "out-of-place", though a few sentences should be checked at a minimum. Remember that a match may indicate that the other website copied Wikipedia, rather than the other way around.

Step 2. Summarize your assessment on the review page, noting any problems you have found, preferably with specific examples. To avoid conflict and encourage other editors, try to write your review in a positive way, raising problems as opportunities for improvement rather than criticism of previous efforts; suggesting specific fixes can be particularly helpful to other editors.

  • If the article meets the criteria, it should be listed as a Good article; bear in mind that future editors may be interested in your reasoning, so don't just leave an all-positive checklist. Suggestions for further improvement may be welcomed by article editors.
  • If instead, the article has problems, you need to decide whether to fail the article (leaving a detailed review), or place it on hold. Many of the considerations concerning "quick-failing" apply here. As the nominal hold period is one week (this is a suggestion, not a requirement) one rule of thumb is to consider whether the issues you have raised could reasonably be fixed within such a timescale. If that is possible, then the article should be placed on hold. If you decide not to place the article on hold, ensure your review provides detailed advice for improvement, and encourage editors to renominate the article once the problems have been fixed.

Step 3 Indicate the result by marking the review as passed or failed, placed on hold, or requiring a second opinion, as appropriate.

Mistakes to avoid in reviews[edit]

Giving problems, not solutions[edit]

When reviewing an article, do not just describe its shortcomings, provide suggestions to fix them. For example:

  • "The lead is messed up" does not give editors any guidance to make the lead better. Instead, try something like. "The lead does not adequately summarize the article. Try expanding it. See WP:LEAD for more information".

Using the Good article criteria as a guide to organize a review is a good thing, but do not merely use it as a checklist. For example:

  • "This article violates criterion 1 of the Good article criteria" with no further information does not help anyone improve the article. Instead, try something like: "This article is dominated by its plot summary and takes an "in-universe" perspective. According to the Manual of Style, an article about a work of fiction should be written primarily from an "out-of-universe" perspective. That needs to be fixed before this can be a Good article."

Imposing your personal criteria[edit]

When reviewing, focus on providing the best review you can for that article. Take care not to be distracted by whether related top-level articles are lackluster, or let frustration over how many articles there are covering a given topic area show through.

Avoid commenting on the perceived "merit" of the subject of the article. If an article on a porn star is well-written, well-organized, well-referenced, and follows the specific content policies and style guidelines that are required by the GA criteria, then you should not fail it because you think Wikipedia has too many articles on porn stars.

Enthusiasm in wanting an article to be the best it can be is admirable, but take care not to impose conditions for passing the article, perhaps based on your own stylistic preferences, that exceed the criteria. In particular, the GA criteria do not require compliance with several major guidelines, including Wikipedia:Notability and the main Wikipedia:Manual of Style page. As you are determining whether an article is complete, well-written, properly sourced, etc., you may find it useful to consult various community-wide guidelines or advice pages from WikiProjects. These guidelines are often very helpful, but be careful that you do not wrongly require compliance with any guideline that is not specifically mentioned by the Good article criteria. For example, reviewers must not fail an article over the presence or absence of an infobox, even if a relevant WikiProject has declared that infoboxes are extremely important (as some have) or extremely undesirable (as others have) in articles within their scope.

Passing articles that do not meet the Good article criteria[edit]

Beware of the several temptations to pass an article that does not meet Good article criteria. For example:

  • You are a fan of the subject, and want to see the article listed. (Instead, consider improving the article, rather than promoting it.)
  • You want to illustrate a point.
  • As Good articles are not Featured articles, it is all right to let things slide. (It is not. The standards for Good articles are less exacting than those for Featured articles, but they nonetheless mean something and should be upheld.)
  • It appears that the article is as good as it will ever get, and will never meet the standards. (Not every article can be a Good article. If the references to improve an article to Good article standards simply do not exist, then you should not overlook that part of the criteria.)
  • The editors of the article have obviously spent a considerable effort improving the article during the Good article review process, and even though it does not meet all of the criteria, it is much better than it was when it was first nominated.

Dealing with disputes[edit]

While we hope that a Good article review will be a positive, friendly, collaborative experience, disputes sometimes arise. Multiple mechanisms are in place for resolving disputes.

Get a second opinion[edit]

If a dispute arises, anyone involved in the review (reviewer, nominator, other editors at the article) can ask for a second opinion.

  • Leave a clearly labeled note on the review page that specifies what you'd like from the person giving a second opinion. Do you have a single, specific question? Do you want an overall opinion about whether the article meets the GA criteria? Try to be as direct and specific as possible.
  • On the talk page of the article set the GAN status parameter to "2ndopinion" as in {{GA nominee|...|status=2ndopinion}}. The bot will then add a note to WP:GAN that you're looking for a second opinion.
  • Alternatively, you can personally request help from an individual, GA mentors, or relevant WikiProject, or use the normal third-opinion process.

Change reviewers[edit]

Occasionally, it is necessary to change reviewers in the middle of a review, rather than closing one review and re-nominating the article. Instructions on doing this are given at Wikipedia talk:Good article nominations/FAQ.

Close and re-nominate[edit]

If the reviewer is dissatisfied with the article, but the editors of the article are confident that it meets the GA criteria, it is appropriate for the reviewer to close the GA review (as 'not listed'). The editors may re-nominate the article at any time, including immediately. It is generally best for the first reviewer to allow another person to conduct the subsequent reviews. Subsequent reviewers often carefully consider the comments in recent reviews, and the nomination is more likely to be successful if all relevant issues are addressed appropriately before re-nominating the article.

Send it to GAR[edit]

WP:GAR—the Good article reassessment process—can be used for both listing or de-listing articles. It is open to articles that have been reviewed at any point in time, but is not normally used for articles whose reviews are currently open. If an article has received a poor-quality review it is usually faster to simply renominate it at WP:GAN.

Delisting older articles[edit]

The Good article process has evolved considerably since it began.[6] Despite these changes, and indeed as part of its nature, the Good article process does not always get it right the first time: this is the price paid for the efficiency of the one-nominator:one-reviewer approach. Consequently, if you come across an article which no longer meets the criteria, you may remove it from the Good articles list by following the delisting guidelines. If you believe that an article was improperly listed or delisted, you can raise your concerns at Good article reassessment.

Useful tools[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The process does require a reviewer. Nominators cannot review their articles. Articles may not be assessed or graded as Good unless they undergo and pass a review.
  2. ^ This is a particular consideration for articles within the scope of a WikiProject where the reviewer is an active member. Sometimes it is helpful for an article to have an expert reviewer, but on other occasions it is preferable that the reviewer is not too close to the topic.
  3. ^ The tags must be present before you start your review. It is also worth checking the date they were added (just hover over the tag) as the nominator may not have had time to address any recent ones yet.
  4. ^ Although there is no set "reasonable amount of time", a week appears to be the generally accepted standard.
  5. ^ Small articles that have a single main source may still be adequately referenced without the use of inline citations. Inline citations may not be required for some articles; the criteria name the only six types of material that require inline citations.
  6. ^ Good articles began on 11 October 2005, and the nominations system was introduced on 10 March 2006. (See Good article statistics.) During 2006–2007 the Good article criteria were refined and improved, and during 2007–2008, processes were changed and review pages introduced. A major sweeps effort has ensured that old Good articles meet the current criteria, which have essentially been stable since 2008.