Dispatches: Reviewers achieving excellence
Featured articles (FA) show off our best work to the world and serve as a powerful model for all of Wikipedia's articles. The featured article process (FAC) is vital to setting and maintaining our standards of verification, writing and formatting. To complement the FA nominations/archiving process, the featured article review process (FAR) enables the review and updating of articles that already have the bronze star. Both FAC and FAR pages are dynamic places where you'll meet and work with talented Wikipedia editors. It's a role on Wikipedia that people tend to notice; it involves a significant responsibility in setting and maintaining our high standards, and involves interacting with highly motivated people.
Some nominations are not promoted simply because not enough reviewers look at the article. The solution to this problem? More reviewers! All Wikipedians are welcome to review articles at FAC and FAR; reviews that are well grounded in an understanding of the featured article standards are most helpful. We've put together a list of frequently asked questions:
Why should I review featured article candidates?
- Have a voice in determining and applying Wikipedia's standards of excellence to our very best work—work that is showcased internationally on our main page on a daily basis.
- Gather good karma through performing an important and prestigious job for the project.
- Read interesting, well-written and well-researched articles that you might not otherwise come into contact with.
- Improve your own writing skills and knowledge of FA standards to prepare for submitting a future FAC
What do I need to know to review an article?
Featured articles are reviewed against the featured article criteria. Many reviewers choose to specialize in just a few criteria, or even one criterion. For example, some reviewers write critical appraisals solely of whether an article:
- is well-written;
- is comprehensive;
- complies with Wikipedia's Manual of Style (MoS);
- has images where appropriate with acceptable copyright status;
- has a satisfactory lead; or
- is of appropriate length.
Even more specialized, some reviewers become experienced at checking important issues such as:
- image copyright tags;
- the validity of external links (which must lead to an operational web page);
- evaluating sources to see if they are reliable; or
- ensuring that the references are formatted properly.
Other reviewers, when they approach a featured article that is close to their field of expertise, turn into content reviewers, judging whether the material is factually accurate and/or neutral. This is, of course, an extremely valuable part of the process.
How do I know if an article meets the criteria?
Some of the criteria may seem subjective to new reviewers; it's helpful to read some recently promoted and not promoted candidate pages and articles to see how the criteria were applied, and then to watch the FAC and FAR pages for a time to see how other reviewers apply the standards. Comments from editors who may not yet understand the standards can still be helpful and are welcome. It's often best to start by reviewing an article that is well down on the list, so that you can benefit from seeing other reviewers' comments.
There are way too many articles at FAC and FAR; I don't have time to read all those!
Relax, you don't have to review all the articles at FAC or FAR. Some people review only one article; others are FAC or FAR "regulars" and review several dozen each month. At any given moment a wide variety of topics are represented at FAC and FAR; you might choose to review only articles about a topic that particularly interests you, like cricket, popular culture, or bird species, or you might choose to specialize in reviewing articles for a specific criterion, like MOS compliance, reliable sources or compelling prose.
Okay, I read one of the nominated articles. Now what?
At FAC, a reviewer is expected to leave comments, prefaced by Oppose, Support, or Comments. New reviewers are encouraged to leave only Comments until they are sure that they understand the criteria. Some reviewers enter Fixes needed and return in a few days to see if the issues were addressed, and may then switch to Oppose or Support.
All comments and opposes should be actionable, giving the nominator enough information to understand and fix the issues you have outlined. For example, "Oppose, too short", is not an actionable oppose, but if you demonstrate the article is not comprehensive, that is actionable. Give examples, where appropriate, and link to the appropriate WP guideline or policy. For example, if you find that an article's prose is not compelling and brilliant, it's not necessary to analyze the entire article, but rather to give enough examples to demonstrate that additional copyedit attention is needed. Any comments that are not actionable will not be considered by the FA director or his delegate(s) when they archive or promote the nominated article.
Supports should also follow the featured article criteria. "Support because this is an awesome topic" is not a valid support reason. If you were a major contributor to the article, please note that when you support.
If you only evaluated a subset of the criteria, please note that with your comments. That way other reviewers will see what gaps they need to try to fill.
Using your talents at FAR
The featured article review page runs at a more measured pace than FAC; nominations are at FAR for at least a month. Declarations to Keep or Remove an article's featured status are not made during the review phase; during the first two weeks (the review phase), reviewers discuss deficiencies. If deficiencies are not addressed, the article may move to the featured article removal candidate phase, where reviewers declare Keep or Remove, also based on the FA standards.
- User:Nikkimaria/Reviewing featured article candidates
- User:Giano/A fool's guide to writing a featured article
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