Monday, November 24, 2008

Reviewers Wanted

Here's an excerpt from our [[Using Wikibooks]] book that contains some of our first guidelines on how to use the new FlaggedRevs extension at Wikibooks. If you have a good eye for content and have good judgement, we could use your help to review our mountains of pages. Also, we could probably use some help improving these guidelines:

Page Criteria

When reviewing a page, there are 3 categories with 5 levels in each. The three categories are Coverage, Accuracy, and Composition. Knowing how to review a page means knowing what these categories are and how to judge a book using them. The levels in each criteria are more then just grades for the page, they are also a checklist that editors can follow to bring a page up to featured quality. If all the pages in a book are basically featured quality, the book could easily be nominated for the honor at WB:FB. Of course, having individual pages be featured doesn't mean that the book itself is also featured quality. There needs to be an emergent quality to the book where pages build on each other in a logical and consistent way for the book to become featured. If the pages don't work together, the book is probably more of a macropedia then a textbook and needs additional work.


Composition is the basic quality of a page: How well is it written? Wikibooks is a text-based content website, so everything we do here revolves around the quality of our writing. The Wiki process does not demand that everything be written perfectly, but that successive editors and authors can improve a page incrementally by fixing errors and omissions as they are found. Pages should aspire to be technically correct in terms of spelling and grammar, but must also have flow, consistency, and structure. Readers hate to be presented with a bland wall of text, so things like headings, lists, templates, tables, and images should be employed to break the page up into bits that a reader can easily absorb.

This page either hasn't ever been reviewed, or else it has been reviewed and is terrible. Spelling and grammar is off, the page has no flow and makes no sense. In short, this page is unreadable.
Good Spelling and Grammar
Using proper spelling and grammar, or very close approximation thereof, is really a minimum requirement. If a page isn't written so that other people can read and understand it, it's worse then having no page at all. This rating doesn't mean that the spelling and grammar must be perfect, but it should be reasonable and easy enough for an experienced editor to clean up quickly. Many web browsers have built-in spell checking functionality, so this shouldn't be too hard to achieve.
Good Structure
Once the words are spelled correctly and the sentences are constructed properly, it's time to focus on the overall structure of the page. Ideas should flow logically from one paragraph to the next. Later topics should build on earlier topics without going on tangents or requiring prerequisite knowledge that has never been discussed. The page should be broken down into sections and subsections, and maybe use some templates and tables to include additional information.
Consistent Style
Consistent style is the next step in page development. The page should not just be technically correct in spelling and grammar, or written with good paragraph and section structure. The page must be written in a consistent voice that properly accounts for the target audience. Wikijunior books for children should be written with high-energy and child-friendly vocabulary. Books for students, adults or professionals should all be written accordingly. To achieve this, the authors of a page should probably be familiar with pages like Wikibooks:Reading Levels.
Featured Quality
This page is not only well written, it is an example that other pages should follow. This page should be an example of good writing and good teaching by any standards.


Information is only as good as it's accuracy. If a page is well-written and has good coverage, it's still worthless if it's untrue or misleading. Wikibooks is an educational resource, and should aspire to teach accurate information to readers. The accuracy metric of a page should show how accurate and trustworthy the information on the page is, and how valuable it will be as an educational tool. Accuracy has five levels:

The page is nothing short of absurd, talking about pseudoscience, nonsense, or other garbage. The page is untrue, misleading, and may even be dangerous to readers.
The page contains truth, or partial truth. It's not absurdly incorrect, but isn't well supported either. Important details might be missing and certain aspects may be incorrect. The page will be short on examples, and short on discussion to explain things in an understandable way.
The page presents information that is not obviously incorrect, and maybe only suffers in certain details. The page won't have many, if any, examples to illustrate the topic. The page probably doesn't make use of any references.
A verifiable page is one that presents correct information, but also provides the tools to prove that the information is true. This proof can come in many ways including references to primary sources, do-it-yourself verification, or building logically on topics covered in other pages from the same book. Some books may require a certain amount of prerequisite knowledge in readers, and will take certain facts to be self-evident, so this should be considered when reviewing.
Featured Quality
The accuracy of this page is a goal that other pages should aspire to. This page is a good and reliable resource on the given topic by any standards.


Coverage deals with the amount of material that the page actually covers, as compared to the amount of material that it should cover. Good coverage means that a page covers all the topics that it intends to cover, and covers all of them well. Consider a page called "Arithmetic" that only covers addition, or a page called "Animals" that only covers mammals. Or, consider a stub page which only has a few short sentences about a large number of topics, without actually providing any interesting information about any of them. These are both examples of pages with poor coverage. Coverage is broken into 5 levels:

This is the default setting for pages that are unreviewed. If a page is in this condition, it needs to be improved badly. Pages in this category are typically incomplete stubs, that provide only a brief overview, or only contain a lot of empty sections.
The page covers it's topic in a minimaly-acceptable way. It includes the bare amount of information on the topic, and doesn't include background information, references to other topics, examples, or in-depth discussions. This page needs an author to sit down and start drafting more content as soon as possible.
The page covers it's topic in a reasonable way. It should probably include a high-level overview, some examples, some background information, and other pieces of information that readers will want.
Readers should be able to read this page and get all the information that they need on the topic. The page should have lots of good examples, in-depth discussions, overviews, and background. The page should set the reader up with all the information they need on this topic throughout the rest of the book, and maybe more then that.
Featured Quality
The amount of information that this page covers, and the method in which it covers that information is exemplary. This page is an example that other pages should aspire to follow, and is a good resource on it's topic by any standards.

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