Wikipedia:Writing your first GA

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Writing your first Good Article (GA) can be a challenging task for a new Wikipedian. WP:WIAGA contains the essential checklist, but until you've actually been through the process, the importance of several of the items may escape you. Many of those of us who now write GA articles comfortably were initially tripped up by one or more of the common errors. This can result in frustration, as you may end up waiting weeks for feedback on your first GA effort, only to find your best work (so far) has serious deficiencies.

The checklist[edit]

1. Well written

  • This should go without saying, but do be sure to spell check your work, as well as read the article to yourself out loud.
  • One of the frequent mistakes in this area is to have a missing or inadequate WP:LEAD. Be sure that you have a lead of an appropriate length, that summarizes the article. No information should be only in the lead, and in general facts don't need to be cited in both the lead and the body of the article.

2. Factually accurate and verifiable

  • Learn to use {{cite web}} and its cousins at WP:CITET. These look much more professional than bare URL citations.
  • Have, at an absolute minimum, one footnote per paragraph. Often, one per sentence is a better average to strive for.
  • Learn to use <ref name=foo> syntax, especially when you're citing one reference many times.
  • Learn to use {{rp}} if you're citing many pages out of one longer work.

All of these things spruce up your referencing, and make it look GA-worthy.

3. Broad in its coverage

  • Sometimes, this is a hard one to get right, because you're too close to your topic. Have a friend or collaborator read your article, and look for holes. What's not being covered that should be? What questions remain unanswered? Address these issues, even if just to say that it's unknown.

4. Neutral

  • WP:AVOID is your friend. Go through your article and make sure that if you're using any of those words you have a good reason for doing so and are using them appropriately.

5. Stable

  • As the nominator, you really don't have control over this one. If you revert vandalism, add an appropriate summary like rvv so that the nominator can see that you're considering it unproductive. Don't try to label a real content dispute as vandalism, of course, but a high rate of recent changes in a GA candidate is a red flag--if it's really just a high rate of vandalism, perhaps because you're writing on a currently popular topic, label it as such.

6. Illustrated

  • Some things don't have images. If you can't find a good image, note that on the talk page. Use {{reqphoto}} to demonstrate that you're actively looking for one.
  • Fair use rationales can be pretty intimidating for a new user. Don't be afraid to appropriately copy and adapt a fair use rationale from a similar image (e.g., album cover, if you're depicting an album cover) in another good article.

Other tips[edit]

Once you've nominated your article for GA, don't stop working on it. There may be a delay before your candidate article is reviewed, and this can be good or bad.

  • Watchlist your article: If you don't, unhelpful edits or outright vandalism may render it completely unsuitable by the time a reviewer begins looking at it.
  • Keep adding appropriately: If your article is receiving more coverage in reliable sources, add that coverage to the article. The lack of sourcing for latest developments could hurt your evaluation against criteria 3a.
  • Polish, polish, polish!: Come back to your article a day or two after you've submitted it. Reread it with fresh eyes--you may catch an error or typo that had escaped your notice before.