Chapter 18. Better Articles: A Systematic Approach

Most of the first 17 chapters of this book offered you an assortment of how-to advice on improving Wikipedia articles. Now it’s time to tie all that advice together, and to fill in some of the gaps.

If you’re a less experienced editor, this chapter can serve as a detailed checklist. When you’re looking at an article you want to improve, you have a step-by-step process for going from the top to the bottom of that article. For experienced editors, the section headings in this chapter can serve as a reminder of everything that goes into making a good Wikipedia article.

This chapter is particularly intended for articles that are short and/or relatively unsourced. It also contains a lot of advice about minimizing disagreements with other editors—a good idea even if you’re working on an article where other editors are scarce to non-existent. Consider the advice about disagreements as safety insurance, in case a cranky fellow editor comes out of the woodwork.

Avoid Surprises

You don’t want to spend time researching and editing an article, and then discover (or be told about) something that sharply reduces the value of much or all of what you’ve done. Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself, to avoid unpleasant surprises:

  • Has the article been vandalized? Check for both recent edits and for edits in the past that removed a large chunk of good information. If the vandalism is recent, revert it, or use the good information to improve the article. ...

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