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Tips and tricks

What automation can do for you (and your WikiProject)

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By Headbomb

Over the years, people have designed a variety of tools to save you time and headaches. Most deal with centralizing information in some way so you don't have to look for "all the discussion related to topic X" yourself, but can instead make use of centralized lists. Some are my ideas. Others are from, well, other people. Here is a summary of three of the biggest ones out there.

Article Alerts

Ah Article Alerts (or WP:AALERTS)... this is by far the dearest and closest tool/project to my heart. People who already use it can probably fathom why. Prior to 2008 or so (see previous Signpost coverage), if you wanted to know if "Topic X" had proposed deletions, you would have to stroll Category:Proposed deletion, and manually inspect every article out there. Let's say you are interested in dance. For some topic, like the Miani Sahib Graveyard, you can fairly easily tell that it's unlikely to be related to dance. But Gustave Geffroy? Are they a physicist? An athlete? A ballet dancer? A Simpsons character? You have to read the article to know for sure. This takes time. Repeat that for the dozens of articles PRODed... Congratulations, after 20–30 minutes, now you've compiled a dance-related list of PRODed articles. That no one else has access to. That will be outdated tomorrow. For one workflow/discussion venue.

And that's the tedium Article Alerts is designed to tackle. AAlertBot will cross-check all the articles (and other pages like templates) in a WikiProject's scope against all the discussion venues on Wikipedia and create a daily report for the WikiProject. WP:AFC, WP:DYKN, WP:FAC, WP:FAR, WP:GAN, WP:MERGE, WP:PROD, WP:RFC, WP:TFD... it covers them all, though projects have a wide variety of customization options. So if you're curious about dance, head over to WikiProject Dance and look for "Article Alerts", "AALERTS", "News" or similar somewhere on that page.

WikiProject Dance's current Article Alerts listings

Did you know

Articles for deletion

  • 22 May 2024 – Neil Fitzwiliam (talk · edit · hist) was AfDed by SL93 (t · c); see discussion (1 participant)
  • 16 May 2024 – Dancing Stage Max (talk · edit · hist) was AfDed by Cakelot1 (t · c); see discussion (3 participants)
  • 15 May 2024 – Adam Solya (talk · edit · hist) was AfDed by Rosguill (t · c); see discussion (0 participants; relisted)
  • 14 May 2024Sally Bomer (talk · edit · hist) AfDed by Allan Nonymous (t · c) was closed as delete by Liz (t · c) on 21 May 2024; see discussion (8 participants)

Peer reviews

Articles to be merged

Articles to be split

Articles for creation

(3 more...)

The same will apply for any other WikiProject. The full list of Article Alerts subscriptions is available here if you want to browse things directly. If your project isn't subscribed to Article Alerts, it's very easy to do so. Technical help is always available at WT:AALERTS, though most people can probably figure things out themselves.

If your project doesn't advertise its Article Alerts subscriptions on its front page, it's probably a good idea to start a discussion on the talk page to ask what's up with that and if it should be added. And while you can regularly check the mainpage of a WikiProject for the most recent alerts in most cases, putting the Wikipedia:WikiProject .../Article alerts page on your watchlist is what most people should do. For WikiProject Dance, that would be Wikipedia:WikiProject Dance/Article alerts. Lastly, if your project has a standard shortcut, like WP:DANCE, it's a good idea to create a shortcut like WP:DANCE/AALERTS so you can easily point to it during discussions, like a talk page message welcoming a newcomer to the project.

Hats off to Hellknowz for coding that bot.

Recognized Content

Similar to the Article Alerts tool above, which focused on finding active discussions, Recognized Content (or WP:RECOG) is all about finding articles that have achieved some kind of recognition somewhere on Wikipedia. Want to know if your topic has anything listed at WP:FA? WP:FL? WP:GAN? WP:DYK? Well, inspired by the success of Article Alerts, I thought it would be nice to have a bot – in this case JL-Bot – do the hard work of collecting these for you and give you a nicely formatted page with all that information. Using this time WikiProject Bhutan as an example:

WikiProject Bhutan Recognized Content listing

Featured articles

Former featured articles

Featured lists

Good articles

Former good articles

Did you know? articles

In the News articles

You can also have lists of DYK blurbs, this time using WikiProject Berbers as an example:

WikiProject Berbers DYK listing

Transcluding 10 of 19 total

The full list of customization option is available at WP:RECOG. If you're not sure how to set it up, just look at a listing that you like, and you can generally copy-paste what they did, changing WikiProject Foobar to whatever is appropriate. Just as with Article Alerts, most WikiProjects advertise these lists of recognized content somewhere on their front page (search for "Recognized content", "Featured content", "Showcase" or similar). If your project has such lists, but isn't advertising them, I suggest starting a discussion on the WikiProject's talk page on how to best address that issue. You can browse Category:Wikipedia lists of recognized content to find individual listings, which again, you really ought to put on your watchlist.

Lastly, just as with Article Alerts, if your project has a standard shortcut (e.g. WP:BHUTAN or WP:BERBERS), it's a good idea to create shortcuts like WP:BHUTRAN/RECOG or WP:BERBERS/DYK so you can easily point to them during discussions.

Hats off to JLaTondre for coding that bot.

Cleanup listings

This tool I had no part in its development or design. However, like the tools above, CleanupWorklistBot is designed to collect all cleanup-related information for articles within a WikiProject's scope. This one is a bit less straightforward to setup, but luckily most WikiProjects already have been integrated. All you have to do is to browse the list of cleanup listings and find something that you care about. Cheese perhaps? Or maybe human rights?

These listings, unlike the two previous tools, cannot be embedded directly on Wikipedia. Instead, most WikiProjects use {{WikiProject cleanup listing}} to advertise their cleanup listings on their front page, though alternatives exist. You can also put those on your own user page if you want.

Example {{WikiProject cleanup listing}} for Human rights.

The listings can be viewed alphabetically, by category, downloaded in a .csv file, and the 'History' link shows a graph of the number of cleanup tags over time for the project. The listings are updated weekly on Tuesday, so if you seriously tackle one cleanup category, or systematically go through a set of related articles, you can actually see the difference you're making from week to week!

If you use the box above, you don't need to create new shortcuts for Cleanup Listings. In the case of Wikipedia:WikiProject Human rights, with the standard shortcut WP:HR, you can just use WP:HR#Cleanup listings and you will be taken to the section where the box is listed.

Hats off to Bamyers99 for coding that bot.

Final thoughts

There are many other tools out there. Some are bot-assisted, like TedderBot's New Page Search, HotArticlesBot's Hot Articles, or JL-Bot's Journal Cited by Wikipedia. Others are user scripts-based like my own Unreliable/Predatory Source Detector, SuperHamster's Cite Unseen, or Trappist the monk's HarvErrors. I plan to cover those in follow up Tips and Tricks columns, but there are other tools I've never used or heard of I'm sure! In the comments, I'd like people to put what tools they use to facilitate WikiProject-wide collaborations or which are otherwise helpful to their editing. Those can be the tools I've already mentioned, so others know they've got widespread endorsement, or tools I've never heard of so people can discover them!

Tips and Tricks is a general editing advice column written by experienced editors. If you have suggestions for a topic, or want to submit your own advice, follow these links and let us know (or comment below)!

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