User:Dweller/Dweller, on Featured Article Candidates

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    Dweller, on Featured Article Candidates[edit]

    Featured Article Candidates (WP:FAC) is where your peers at Wikipedia scrutinise nominated articles and critique each one for quality, completeness, and verifiability. Once the concerns of peers have been addressed, they may provide their approval, and the article is then granted featured article (FA) status.

    Featured Articles (FA) are those that have been acclaimed by consensus as the highest quality articles on Wikipedia. And though the system isn't perfect (since a few articles have squeaked through that probably shouldn't have), the FAC process is generally quite rigorous. It can be hard work developing an article to FA quality because...

    Featured Articles are expected to be:

    • encyclopedic (i.e., it covers the breadth of the subject)
    • stylishly written
    • thoroughly sourced
    • well-illustrated with images that are appropriate and correctly licensed
    • free of subjectivity.

    However, reaching FA status is not impossible and is extremely satisfying.

    Currently, there are about 5,500 featured articles (FAs), which means they constitute a very small proportion of Wikipedia articles. A small bronze star (LinkFA-star.png) in the top right corner of an article's page indicates that the article is featured. A list of all featured articles can be found at Wikipedia:Featured articles.

    Featured articles can be nominated to become "today's featured article", which is displayed on Wikipedia's main page.

    To receive "FA" status, an article must go through and pass the FAC process. And that's what this lesson is all about...

    The following steps will guide you through this process to help you get an article to FA status and, once there, to maintain it.

    FAC needs your help[edit]

    Please keep in mind, that to ensure that Featured Articles represent Wikipedia's highest standards, WP:FAC continuously requires the participation of discerning editors to critique nominated articles and to make sure that articles don't slip through on fan support and shoddy reviews. It's up to each of us to chip in and make a difference, and that difference especially needs to be maintained at FAC. Your help is needed. Please set aside some of your wiki-time to participate in the critiquing of featured article candidates. Thank you.

    Selecting a candidate article[edit]

    There is no such thing as an inherently good or bad topic for a featured article. Don't become preoccupied with considering what are "important" or "popular" topics (or their opposites). Featured status is awarded based on the quality of an article, not its topic. This doesn't stop some people from occasionally opposing a nomination on the grounds that it is trivial in their opinion. However, that's not a valid reason, and falls afoul of Wikipedia's policy on maintaining a neutral point of view - such positions are generally discounted by others who support policy (that is, almost everyone).

    Therefore, when selecting an article, consider candidates as being "more" or "less" ready. The further developed an article is, the easier it will be to prepare it for WP:FAC. In particular, you'll find it harder to "win" with articles without (properly licensed) images. This is especially a problem with biographical articles, which are badly flawed if they lack a single usable image of their subject! Articles that already have some references are also easier to push on; in such cases, somebody has already done some of the grunt-work for you.

    Policy and guideline knowledge[edit]

    To produce a featured article, you will have to know and apply Wikipedia's style guidelines. And that requires that you read them. It's a bore, I know, but you'll get opposed otherwise, because peers can and will be exacting in their expectations of quality. I'm afraid there are no shortcuts. Here is a minimal reading list:

    1. WP:DASH - yup, we have rules about how to use dashes. The dash on this line is wrong.
    2. WP:FOOT - citing references properly is essential. Read the policy and follow it. You can also visit an article that's recently passed FAC and copy the formatting of its citations.
    3. WP:LEAD - the LEAD (pronounced "leed", rather than "led") is the introduction to an article, which comes before the first heading and before the table of contents. A good Lead makes an article much stronger, and provides a good lead-in to the rest of the article.
    4. WP:MOS - MOS = "Manual of style". This guide covers the formatting and specific style standards (in grammar, punctuation, and formatting) which we use here on Wikipedia. Pay particular attention to those on dates and subheadings.

    I also recommend that if your article includes numbers with units, you put " " between the number and the unit, which will insert a hard space, which makes the text in these cases easier to read (for example: 4 litres).

    Knowing, and applying your knowledge of these policies and guidelines (especially the third and fourth ones), will greatly improve your contributions at Wikipedia in general, and not just your success with FA candidates.

    Get help[edit]

    The FAC process is usually long and arduous, with a lot of work to do. It can be very frustrating. And while "going solo" is eminently commendable, this is not the easiest nor most advisable way to go about it. Teamwork not only splits up the workload, but also improves the quality of the article through group synergy (two heads are better than one). Therefore, you should strongly consider finding others to join the effort rather than taking it on alone.

    Here are some places you might find others willing (and even excited) to help produce featured articles:

    • The article's talk page. Many editors visit the talk page of the articles they are interested in. So be sure to leave a notice there to catch their attention.
    • WikiProjects. Relevant WikiProjects may already have an ongoing interest in the candidate article (look for a project notice at the top of its talk page). If not, they might take an interest once you visit them and let them know what you are up to. WikiProjects are very good at bringing technical expertise to an article, and many have a 'pet' copyeditor, whose help you may find invaluable. But WikiProjects vary immensely in the number of their participants and in their level of activity – so don't expect an army of helpers. You may also find that WikiProject members may be busy working on something else, so the response may not be immediate either.
      Etiquette suggests that you return the favour of a WikiProject that helps you, by joining it and helping out on one or more of its endeavors.
    • Collaborators. I've found that working with a small group of dedicated collaborators is the best approach to producing FAs. Remember, once they've helped you, you owe them one! This is great, because instead of landing up with one FA, you could end up with two or more!

    Preparing the article[edit]

    Don't rush to place an article at FAC. It is counter-productive. You may not need to do every step in this section (if the article is already well-developed), but the more meticulous you are at this stage, the easier your eventual FAC nomination will go.

    The lead section[edit]

    Following the guidelines at WP:LEAD give the article a crisp, professional lead section.

    Reference the entire article[edit]

    This is a biggy. The approach that I find works the best is to add a citation tag ("{{cn}}") after every fact (or claim) presented in the article. Then go back and replace each tag with a proper inline citation. However, please don't litter the article with hundreds of cn tags if you're not intending to finish the job by replacing them! Some recent FAs (e.g. medieval cuisine, S. A. Andree's Arctic balloon expedition of 1897 and Palladian architecture), have passed with sparser citation - but in my experience, it is easier to pass FAC with a fully cited article.

    When citing, there are various accepted methods of citation. You'll need to get the hang of our citation policy, but I find that the "citeweb" methodology works best. Other referencing styles, such as Harvard referencing, are also acceptable, and many editors consider them less distracting than footnotes. Whichever citation format you choose, be sure you are consistent and thorough. If you find citing references a struggle, it might be useful to find a "WikiGnome" to help you. A Wikignome is someone who enjoys and is good at technical process tasks in Wikipedia. Take a look at the Category:Wikipedian WikiGnomes for a list of self-declared WikiGnomes. WikiGnomes are also helpful in checking that all your wikilinks lead to actual articles, rather than to disambiguation pages and for solving many other minor irritations that can delay progress to FA.

    Place your references after punctuation, particularly at the end of sentences or paragraphs, after the full-stop (period), according to the instructions presented in WP:CITE.

    I find it easiest to go to a recently promoted featured article with proper citations and copy some for format, replacing the bits that vary. You'll get oppose comments if you cite the same source excessively, so note how in articles like Adam Gilchrist you can see the same reference being used on multiple occasions.

    Address the contribution jigsaw[edit]

    Most FA candidates begin life as a jumble of additions made by various editors. Someone somehow needs to pull it all together, and integrate it so that it flows and reads exceptionally well. Outstanding prose is a key FA criterion, and while a copyeditor (as discussed above) can help with this, don't leave it all to that one person.

    A good place to find help with achieving this is to read Tony's relevant article, User:Tony1/How to satisfy Criterion 1a. It gives practical, no-nonsense advice for smoothly joining passages and ensuring that an article reads well.


    An article's structure includes its headings and the order of presentation of its subject's subtopics. Good structure not only enhances readability, it also ensures encyclopedic coverage of the whole topic. The layout and ordering of the section headings are covered in Wikipedia's Manual of Style, so your knowledge of that set of guidelines is essential.

    Here is a useful shortcut: copy and paste the structure from an existing (similar) FA to the top of your FA candidate, and then rewrite the headings. Then move the text from your candidate into the appropriate sections and delete any headings you are no longer using. For example, on the noted Victorian, Bernadette, the bearded lady, you could copy the relevant structure from Joseph Merrick.

    Images, charts, tables and graphics[edit]

    Images (pictures) help to make an article FA worthy. But images with the right licenses can be very hard to find.

    A Featured Article should have the highest standards of images. The article should be well-illustrated, but not necessarily "lavishly". All images should be of good quality, and placed in the appropriate sections. Variety helps - if you're illustrating The Vladivostock State Circus, displaying a mix of photos from its past and present, with some posters used for advertising events throughout its illustrious history, would be ideal.

    Unfortunately, ideal photo support may not be attainable every time, because it can be hard to find suitable photos.

    Some places to hunt for images include:

    • other articles on similar topics
    • Wikipedia's own image library
    • "Commons" (see below)
    • "Flickr creative-commons" licensed images (By-2.0 and by-sa-2.0)

    If you can't find a suitable image anywhere on the internet or in public domain works, maybe you can take one yourself. Dust off your camera!

    Images, if placed well, embellish a page. Conversely, images, inappropriately placed break up the text and neat layout and can take away from the pleasure of reading an article. If you need to tweak your article on this count, its a good idea to run over the picture tutorial. Just to countercheck, open your proposed FA using various browsers to check that everything looks right. AshLin 04:15, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

    A great source of images which are usually already checked for legitimacy is Wikimedia Commons (which can be found at [1]). It is still important to ensure that the licence applied to each image is appropriate, for example images released to the public domain are free to use, but those released under a fair use agreement will need justification on the image's page before they can be used in an article.


    Be sure to have the photos assessed by a Wikipedia photo specialist before going to FAC, to make sure all aspects of the licensing of the photos are OK. The fiasco in which the featured article Cricket World Cup lost all of its images on the very same day it was featured on the main page was a good example of the embarrassment that can befall an article with inadequately licensed images.

    A good place to find photo specialists is at Talk:Main page, where you can request help. There's also Wikipedia:WikiProject Photography.

    Charts, tables and graphics[edit]

    On the other hand, it is much easier to support an article with charts, tables and other graphics, because you can make them yourself. There are many charts to be found in Wikipedia which you can base new ones on - just cut and paste a chart's wikicode, and modify it to suit the article. If you run into trouble making a chart, ask for help from someone who's made a similar one on another article.


    A picture says "a thousand words", but its caption shouldn't. (A caption is text that often accompanies a picture right below it, to describe what the picture is about, depict what is being said, or to enhance the presentation in some other way).

    Captions that point out the obvious may detract from an article. On the other hand, captions that help the reader understand context or the connection to the article (like, for example, place and year of photo) help to improve the article. If anything is unclear (such as the identity of a team-mate obscured by his motorcycle helmet, standing next to your FA biography subject Barry Sheene), then clarifying this with a caption is a great idea).

    Tip: keep your captions concise, factual and informative. Long captions may detract from the article by competing with it, causing readers to get distracted or lose their place and train of thought.

    Once all of the above has been completed, it's time to go to WP:FAC, right? Well, not quite...

    Before taking the plunge at FAC[edit]

    Whatever you do, don't take the article to FAC until it's really, really good. At FAC, if a bunch of serious opposes begin to fill the page, it will make it look like a bad nomination. Therefore, nominate your article at WP:FAC when you believe it is already worthy of featured article status and will pass with flying colours.

    If the article isn't ready yet, there are some other places you can seek help before you take it to FAC. Here they are:

    And once you've gotten your article as good as you can get it...

    Submit the article to Peer Review[edit]

    What? That's not FAC!

    Peer Review is a place where peers evaluate the quality and policy-conformacy of articles. If your article can't get past the peer reviewers there, it isn't close to being ready for WP:FAC. Peer Review is an optional, though very important part of the overall progression of an article to featured article status.

    You can skip Peer Review, but make darn sure you know what you are doing first! It's better to receive criticism at Peer Review than FAC, because there is no rejection at Peer Review, just helpful advice. And an article can remain at Peer Review for as long as you want it to. A good long time at Peer Review is best.

    Once you've requested a Peer Review, respond to it positively and constructively. Toward this end, ask for comments at Peer Review. As PR is not a vote (or even a !vote) this does not violate Wikipedia's no-canvassing rule.

    Ideally, it is best to have a mix of both knowledgeable reviewers and novices critique the article. The reason for this is because this is an encyclopedia article - you want your article on Cobra fangs to be useful and comprehensive for snake aficionados and also easy to understand by readers with no prior detailed knowledge of snakes. Therefore, seek feedback from both.


    Keeping cool while your article is at FAC can be testing. Any number of things can try your patience - an objection just as it seems you're about to reach your goal, minutiae objections, non-specific objections, groundless objections, contradictory objections... all kinds of things. Use all of your normal coping mechanisms (I particularly recommend not responding for a few hours if you're irked, as well as re-reading the classic Wikipedia article on this subject).

    Once you've listed at FAC...[edit]

    Be sure to politely end the article's Peer Review (you want all feedback in one place). Then ask editors who are experts on the topic, and others who are novices or unfamiliar with it, to come to the FAC and comment. You will need the advice from both. For example, a cricket article must be satisfying to cricket lovers and still be understandable to everyone else. A brilliant recent Main Page FA that I (surprisingly) really enjoyed was 0.999.... I don't "get" maths, yet the article was unexpectedly digestible.

    While there is no contention about "canvassing" for comments at Peer Review, it seems that there is some disagreement over soliciting others to come to FAC (see this article's talk page). However, I strongly maintain that FAC in no way resembles a vote or !vote, in that one single well-founded oppose will prevent promotion, no matter how many weighty support comments have been elicited. In this manner, I cannot construe that such solicitation is in breach of WP:CANVASS, but there are clearly others who disagree and you'll need to make a judgement call for yourself.

    Getting through the meatgrinder[edit]

    Remember that the purpose is to get the best possible article, not to bulldoze an almost-ready piece through (but that strategy probably won't work anyways). So be patient, and be prepared to do whatever you have to do to improve the article to the standards as dictated by the peers. And to keep the process moving ahead at the fastest rate possible, respond promptly to comments and criticisms, even if it is with a placeholder reply such as "Good point - I'll look into it".

    Interacting with peers who are continuously pointing out what is wrong with your article can be frustrating at best. But be sure to maintain your cool, and treat them with courtesy and respect. They only mean well, and they simply wish that your article be as good as it can be. And toward that end, they require that it be so, as well they should. Therefore, deal with every comment and criticism without rancour. And thank your critics - they're doing you a favour.

    This doesn't mean that you need to agree with every criticism. But when you disagree, have a very good reason, and don't do it often!

    For detailed objections and extensive comments, pose your detailed responses on the talk page. This will help keep the FAC (nomination) page uncluttered, and in turn may make the procedure move forward more smoothly. A confusing nomination page will make it more difficult for your article to garner the support it needs.

    As painful as it might be, be prepared to delete things (or comment them out) if they're POV or unsourceable. Even if they're (to your mind) important or really good bits of prose.

    Most importantly, be persistent. You'll get there eventually. And then you'll get to meet...

    The "Featured Articles Director"[edit]

    The Wikipedian who oversees WP:FAC is Raul654. As "Featured Article Director" Raul is an under-appreciated and overworked saint,[1] who schedules the featured articles that appear on the main page, and he is also the one who promotes an article to featured article status once the peers have reached consensus. To make sure your candidate article goes through the process as smoothly as possible, you should understand how Raul works...

    In my opinion and experience, Raul will promote an article if all of the following apply:

    1. every reasonable oppose opinion has been dealt with or countered
    2. at least a few days have gone by since the last oppose opinion
    3. the article has been considered at FAC for at least a week. If there's a constant trickle of well-founded opposes (Raul is certainly capable of ignoring WP:IDON'TLIKEIT objections) the FAC could last several weeks... or be failed.

    Just make sure you handle every objection, and correct the article accordingly to comply, and you'll do fine.

    If you fail FAC[edit]

    In the unlikely (!) event that your nomination fails, do not rush too quickly to bring the article back to FAC. Your best bet is to return to the article and deal with any outstanding issues and then open a new Peer Review. I'd leave it several weeks before coming back to FAC.


    At some point, hopefully, Raul will press his magic button and the article will be approved as a Featured Article.

    Once the article passes FAC, well done! Here's what to expect...

    Article tags[edit]

    The tag {{Featured article}} needs to be placed on the article page, and it will generate the cool bronze star. You can place it yourself if you get there first, or wait for the bot to do it. (Good luck!)

    On the article's talk page, an automated process (or "bot" - this one's called GimmeBot) will update the Article History template and any WikiProject assessments to indicate the article's status. GimmeBot will also correctly archive the FAC.

    Help yourself to a userbox[edit]

    If you like that kind of thing, now that you've got Small creatures found in armpits to FA status, you can help yourself to a userbox, to help you brag about your achievement! Simply add {{User Featured Article|Small creatures found in armpits}} to your user page and you'll have a shiny new userbox with which to amaze your family, your friends, and your fellow Wikipedians!

    Main page request[edit]

    All FAs are eligible to become the day's featured article. This gives the article a profile way beyond its normal audience and usually attracts debate, contributions and, unfortunately, vandalism.

    You can request a Main Page appearance for the FA at Wikipedia:Today's featured article/requests. Raul runs this too. Make a strong, logical suggestion for a date, but be prepared to be flexible. There are currently enough FAs to display daily on the main page for more than four years! - and that excludes all the new FAs that will be passed during that time period. But competition isn't all that fierce and once a good solid case has been made for a certain date, in practice the article is rarely bumped.

    An important word here about the nature of your FA. As said above, the nature of the article topic is irrelevant to FA, only its quality. However, with a Main Page appearance, there are sensibilities and some topics will not feature on the Main Page, however good the article. This is partly by Raul's discretion, partly by consensus. If you have picked an "adult theme" (for example), you might struggle.

    An "eccentric", "minority" theme is no bar. One of the most startling Main Page features I can remember was 0.999.... It generated huge debate and interest, even from people (like me) who neither particularly understand nor care about mathematics.

    The future of "your" featured article[edit]

    Once an article is FA, it is not "finished". It will continue to change, as people add useful and less than useful content to it.


    Like a garden, articles need to be maintained. On wikis, cruft (crappy edits) and vandalism tend to grow like weeds. Therefore, try to keep an eye on "your" Featured Article and pull the weeds on a regular basis. Look out for nonsense and other vandalism edits. Clean up the article's presentation of information (grammar, punctuation, etc.), as needed. Request citations for all new facts added (in good faith) to the article. Keep a grip on the article's structure and format.

    Maintaining articles about "living" subjects, such as bios of living people and articles about places or recurring events, is the hardest. It's obviously easier for articles about deceased individuals and historical events, but a glance at article histories for John Lennon and September 11, 2001 attacks show that past does not necessarily mean a lack of debate and ongoing editing.

    "Gardening" will help retain the integrity of the article, helping you when, inevitably, the next step takes place...

    Wikipedia:Featured article review[edit]

    Featured articles are taken to WP:FAR on an irregular, but pretty much inevitable basis.

    At FAR, featured articles are assessed, to check that they are still worthy of their designation as FAs. In the past, Wikipedia had much lower standards for FA, so many of the articles that you will still find in Wikipedia need a huge amount of work when taken there. If they are far removed from FA quality, they will be taken to the next stage, WP:FARC (featured article removal candidates).

    Once the article reaches FARC, they're considered for removal of FA status. It's really a staging post and a chance for editors to bring the article (back) up to scratch.

    Losing FA status here is not unusual. But it's not irretrievable.

    Once an article is "defeatured", there's nothing to stop you or others from working to improve it...

    And then the FAC process starts all over again!


    Here is the route which I recommend to featured article status. (Optional phases are in italics, the rest are mandatory):

    1. Improve the article to good standard, with all claims cited
    2. Request a copyedit from a good copyeditor - such as from the league of copyeditors or at least someone new to the article
    3. Submit the article for Wikipedia:Peer Review and respond to every comment
    4. Nominate the article at Wikipedia:Featured article candidates and respond to every comment

    If you found this article helpful, please drop me a message. Better yet, use these instructions to take an article to Featured article candidates, and contact me during the process. I'll be happy to look in to see how you and your FAC are coming along. I may even join in and help!