Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Top five tips for writing a featured article

Well, my latest foray into the featured article candidates process was a surprisingly smooth one, and my article is now featured. It was a long slog, but well worth it. When I started out, it looked like this. A mess, basically. Just over five months of hard work later, it is now a featured article. I learnt a lot during the process, and I'd like to share what I learnt with everyone.

  1. Write about what you know, or what interests you greatly.
    In my case I wrote about where I live. I know the area extremely well, and while some might argue this may affect WP:NOR issues, I did not feel it did for me. Additionally, the books I used are not published in great numbers - this is generally the case for local history books. They are, however, available in the local library. Every single book used was from the library, and were invaluable in finding facts to write about. A final point is that I enjoy finding out about my local area. I have been interested in history particular, since a young age, so it was enjoyable to research and write about.
  2. Take your time with it.
    This is a good lesson I learned. I wanted to take it to FAC earlier than I did, because I thought it was ready. However, it was clearly not, as I took it to peer review instead and got invaluable feedback. There is no need to rush it; there's no time limit, it'll still be there tomorrow.
  3. Use free images.
    It is a free encyclopedia, right? Unfree images don't help the FAC, and take up a lot of time from what I have seen. On my FA, all the images are free ones.
  4. Make use of other people.
    I was lucky enough to be working on an article that is part of a very active Wikiproject, with some of Wikipedia's best editors on it. I used them - frequently. There are some sections on the article that I did not even have to author, as someone else did them for me. Working on a FA does not need to be a solo process.
  5. Get it to GA first.
    Some may disagree with this, but I think it is a good a way as getting feedback as any. And if it fails you know you have a long way to go. But you still have feedback to work on, which is good.
A final point: make sure you enjoy what you're doing, above anything else. Stuff the MOS, 1a criterion and other minor things while you're writing up the content. Deal with the nitty-gritty bits once you've put what needs saying. Good luck, should you try a FA yourself!

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