Archive:The Big Cleanup

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Note: This page is now obsolete. The Checklist on the Talk: page has been superseded by the metadata; Template:Checklist has been obsoleted; the Category:Checklisted Articles is no longer in use; etc, etc.


The Big Cleanup was finished on May 23, 2007, two months after it was started.

Here is the old sign-up list.

Why a "Big Cleanup"?

In the months since the Citizendium began, we have created and borrowed many articles. Widespread problems have crept in--for example, there are "live" articles that are not marked Category:CZ Live. In fact, we have a whole "to do" list that we are using to improve articles en masse. That's what we mean by "The Big Cleanup."

But the cleanup job doesn't consist just of going through the to do list and "cleaning up" articles. For each article, we're also putting a template on the article's talk (discussion) page--The Article Checklist--and tracking information about the article.

This is not, however, mere busywork. If we give this treatment to our entire body of articles, consider what we achieve.

A list of benefits

The big benefits:

  • We assign articles to Workgroups. After we've finished, workgroups will have a complete list of articles in their care. As a result,
    • The "recent changes" function for each workgroup actually tracks the recent changes made to all of the workgroup's articles. For example, have a look at recent changes for the Biology workgroup. Pretty handy.
    • Workgroups can see what they have started on--and what they haven't. It's an inventory. We just don't have that now, for any group.
    • These benefits in turn allow workgroups to start functioning (better).
  • We divide our body of articles into five categories: approved (status = 0), developed (status = 1), developing (2), stub (3), and "external" (4) (i.e., borrowed from Wikipedia but not significantly changed). Furthermore, since every article is also marked with its categories, the Article Checklist automatically generates lists of articles such as Biology Developed Articles and Computers Stub Articles.
    • This gives us a nice overview of what proportion of our articles are at what stage of development. Nice for bragging.
    • It helps workgroups a lot. For example, it alerts workgroups to what high-priority articles are underdeveloped; it also alerts them to what articles that are "developed" but not yet approved.
    • It will allow us to find easily and, if we so decide, delete articles that were copied from Wikipedia (or wherever) without significant changes.

More benefits:

  • We place "CZ Live" on all articles on which we've done significant work. This is probably several hundred more than the 1100+ that we are now taking credit for. This generates our most visible statistic, and it also allows for alphabetical browsing; so it's important that we use that tag correctly.
  • We give Wikipedia credit where we've borrowed their content. This is crucial for purposes of our being compliant with the GNU Free Documentation License.
  • We get a list of all the articles that are about living persons (and other legal entities); they are listed at Category:Topic Informant Workgroup. This allows us to manage these sensitive articles more effectively.

Still more benefits:

  • We get a list of all articles about which someone is uncertain of the proper categories: General Category Check. We also get similar lists for each workgroup (e.g., Politics Category Check).
  • The articles look considerably "cleaner": we get rid of unused (red) templates, category tags, images, and interwiki links.
  • We get a list of "underlinked" articles, meaning those articles that have no links from any of their expected "parent" articles. For example, if "tree" were not linked from "Biology," "Botany," "Plant," or any other such important "parent" topic, then it would be underlinked. Having a list of such articles allows us to work toward integrating all our articles into a more systematic whole.
  • All article titles are bolded.

See also: CZ:Unchecklisted Articles

An outline of your job as "cleaner"

Interested in helping? Here (in summary) is what you'd be doing. First, you'd go to The Big Cleanup/Signup and volunteer for a set of articles (a dozen in a set). Then, for each article, you'd go through the to do list--click through, now, to see what's involved. Sometimes you won't have to do anything; sometimes you'll have to do a few things. In either case it doesn't usually take longer than a minute or two per article. Next, you click on the article's discussion tab. You paste in the blank checklist--again, click through to see what it looks like--and fill it in. This won't usually take more than a minute or two.

More complete instructions are below. Eventually, you'll have questions. You can ask them on the talk page.


You might find it most efficient to follow the precise steps listed below in this precise order each time--or, anyway, sticking to the same routine each time.

  1. Sign up at The Big Cleanup/Signup. (Sign up instructions are on that page.)
  2. Click on the title of your first article on the signup list; it will bring up a search that includes all your articles.
  3. For each article, complete this to do list:
    • Bold the article title, if necessary, where it appears in the first sentence or so of the article. Note that certain phrases, and "list of X" titles, do not need to be bolded. See Article mechanics.
    • Remove all unused (red) templates, category tags, images, and interwiki links. It might be a good idea to copy the templates and images to the talk page for people to reinsert later. Please don't remove links to nonexistent articles (unless you feel moved to work on the article: removing such links isn't part of the "assignment").
    • Add appropriate workgroup category tag(s). Please use only the workgroup categories listed under CZ:Workgroups. (Note, this page is linked on the left sidebar as "Workgroups".) If you think there needs to be a new workgroup created in addition to one that you've placed an article into, then when you fill out the checklist, simply specify: cat_check = yes to request that someone check over the categories. Also, add "Category:Needs Workgroup" (capitalization important) if, and only if there are no suitable workgroups for an article.
    • Add Category:Topic Informant Workgroup if necessary, i.e., if an article is a biography of a living person, profile of a company, group, etc.--essentially, any article that concerns an existing nonpolitical entity with legal interests.
    • Add (or remove) the CZ Live tag as appropriate. An externally-sourced (e.g., Wikipedia) article is "CZ Live" if there have been at least three significant changes in three different places to the wording of an article. Hints:
      • To determine whether an article should be marked "Live" you might have to click on the page history, and compare the most recent edit with the very first edit. Use the "diff" between those two versions to determine whether the article has been changed enough.
      • The following are not significant changes: removing unused templates, etc.; spelling and minor rewording; deletions; and shuffling text without changing it.
      • Any new article, even if a stub, is automatically "CZ Live".
      • You might wonder if Category:CZ Live is necessary, since we will be constructing Category:Internal Articles. Perhaps--but we should not remove Category:CZ Live or even stop from maintaining it well, until after we have created Category:Internal Articles as its replacement--which means, not until we have added The Article Checklist to all of our articles.
      • Articles that are "CZ Live" are internal (checklist 'status' = 0-3); articles that are not "CZ Live" are external (checklist 'status' = 4).
    • Check the "Content is from Wikipedia?" box if any part of the article is sourced from Wikipedia. To determine this, you might again have to look at the article history and look at the very first version of the article. If that has a lot of red templates and categories, it came from Wikipedia. NOTE: if, for whatever reason, this is the only edit that you want to make to an article, you have to make some small edit in the article text box as well (e.g., add a space at the end of a line--it won't show up). Otherwise your checkbox change won't be saved. Do look at the bottom of the page that there's a link to Wikipedia.
    • Hint: use page history! You should probably make a trip to the page history for most if not all articles. If you want to determine whether an article is sourced from Wikipedia, then just look at the first version in the edit history. Virtually all Wikipedia articles left in the database have templates and images (that we have not uploaded, and thus are distinctive red links). That should be enough for us to tell whether to check the "Content is from Wikipedia?" box. If you want to determine how much an article has been changed from its Wikipedia original, go to the page history and press the radio buttons next to the oldest and the newest edits, and hit "compare". You'll be able to see the differences there. We have mostly been assuming that the original-uploaded version is identical to a Wikipedia original. Note: if an article is an "external" article and it has not been changed enough to be considered "CZ Live," consider whether according to our deletion rules you should put the {{speedydelete}} template on the page (put this template on the article's talk page, please). Please do mark it for "speedy deletion," if appropriate.
  4. Be sure to click "toolbox" > "What links here" before you navigate away from the article page to the talk page. Look to see whether the article is "underlinked" according to the definition on The Article Checklist.
  5. Then copy the Article Checklist (you can copy it from below these instructions, or here) and paste it at the top of the article's talk page. Complete the checklist. Instructions for doing so are on The Article Checklist. Please "sign your name" on the checklist with four tildes, not three, so that the date you filled out the checklist is given.

That's it! If you have any questions, again, ask on the talk page.

Here's a copy of the blank Article Checklist template and it's instructions that you can copy and paste onto the talk page of articles. Once you have filled out the checklist, delete the instructions!

{{#switch: {{{info}}}

<!--general article properties-->
|       pagename = 
|        variant = 

<!--Required for checklist-->

|            abc =  
|      cat_check = 
|         status = currently no status
|    underlinked = 
|        cleanup = 
|             by = 
|           cat1 = 
|           cat2 = 
|           cat3 = 
|           sub1 = 
|           sub2 = 
|           sub3 = 
|           tab1 = 
|           tab2 = 
|           tab3 = 

<!--required for ToApprove template-->
|    article url = 
|    subpage url = 
|        cluster = 
|            now = 
|     ToA editor = 
|    ToA editor2 = 
|    ToA editor3 = 
|           date = 

<!--required for Approved template-->
|       A editor = 
|      A editor2 = 
|      A editor3 = 


In brief:

  • pagename: must contain the correct name of the article.
  • variant: records the dialect of English which the article is written in.

  • abc: means the form of the title for alphabetization, e.g. "Doherty, John" or "Orient, The". Please think this one through.
  • cat_check: put "yes" if you want someone to check over the categories.
  • status: 0 for approved articles; 1 developed, 2 developing, 3 stub, 4 external
  • underlinked: put "yes" if not enough other articles link to it (click "What links here" at left)
  • cleanup: put "yes" if basic cleanup has been done.
  • by: obsolete; leave blank.
  • cat1, cat2 and cat3: workgroups; fill in numerical order.
  • sub1, sub2 and sub3: sub-workgroups; fill in numerical order.
  • tab1, tab2 and tab3: per-article subpages; fill in numerical order.

  • article url: a URL link to the version to approve.
  • subpage url: a URL link to the version of a subpage to approve.
  • cluster: blank unless the whole cluster needs to be approved.
  • now: the date and time when the nomination was made.
  • ToA editor, ToA editor2, ToA editor3: name of the editor(s) who nominated the article for approval; fill in numerical order.
  • date: deadline for comments (format yyyymmdd).

  • A editor, A editor2, A editor3: copied from ToA editor etc when Approval is completed.

Useful links