Wikivoyage:Outline articles

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An outline article is a status rating for any article in Wikivoyage that has template sections but still does not address its subject sufficiently to be very useful for other travellers.

In general, outline articles are incomplete articles. Subjects worth having an article about are usually worth having at least a paragraph written or at least a few listings in each of the standard template sections. If only some of the sections of a standard template are filled, then the subject is not covered fully or it may not merit its own article and should be incorporated into another one. See What is an article? for details on what deserves its own article on Wikivoyage.

Of course, length doesn't guarantee completeness or even usability. An article about a destination can go on for pages and pages and still not give the enough information you need to survive there. Each article should cover its subject with the appropriate depth or breadth. But if you do not know how to get there, or where to stay if you do, then the article is not very useful. Such an article would still be an "outline", even though it has a lot of content.

See also: Stub articles, Usable articles, Guide articles, Star articles.

Pros and cons of outlines[edit]

Outlines have their bad sides. Readers can get confused by too many empty sections. Is that all there is to say about the article? Is that the expected length of articles for Wikivoyage? Where's all the info? Outlines can give a bad first impression if people haven't seen other Wikivoyage articles.

Mostly, though, outlines are a good thing. An outline is the framework that allows an article that started its life as a stub to grow and evolve into a full blown article. One Wikivoyager can start with an introductory paragraph with a bare outline, and other Wikivoyagers will come along and add more information to it. Someone else comes in and reformats the information according to the Manual of style, and someone else adds photos. Eventually, the bare outline becomes a healthy, useful guide.

Identification[edit]

If you set the Threshold for stub link formatting value to something other than 0 in your preferences under Misc, links to short articles will be shown in a different color than links to complete articles or to non-existent articles. The threshold value is a number of characters in the article; somewhere around 500 characters should give you a good idea of whether an article is long enough or not. (The basic template alone is around 150 characters.)

Note that this only shows short articles, and so it's a very rough approximation of an "outline". An article with lots of unformatted information is not yet an "outline", but may exceed the character count of a bare outline article. We don't have the software yet to decide if an article covers its subject well, so we have to manually add Project:Article status disclaimers.

What to do with them[edit]

If you make an outline article, or see one that someone else has made (but not tagged), you can either tag it or upgrade it.

Tag[edit]

If you add template sections to an article that doesn't have them, or see one that someone else has made, it's good to add a little disclaimer that says that the article isn't really usable yet. It gives a bit of extra impetus to readers to add what they know to an article. There's special markup in our software to mark something as an outline. It looks like this: {{outlinecity}} or {{outlineregion}} which makes this appear on the page:

This city travel guide to Outline articles is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!

or

This region travel guide to Outline articles is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!

or for travel topics {{outlinetopic}}:

This travel topic about Outline articles is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!

You can add the outline message at the bottom of the page. This reassures readers that we know the article is not complete, and that it's not indicative of the overall quality expected out of Wikivoyage articles. Also, it invites them to add whatever they can to make the article better.

Upgrade[edit]

It's trivially easy to upgrade an article from "stub" to "outline"; upgrading an article past "outline" can sometimes take a bit more work. In fact, many generally well-developed articles get stuck at this stage because they're missing some key information. The specific criteria varies depending on the kind of article (i.e. city, country, etc.) but the general theme of a better-than-outline article is that it contains enough specific information that a traveler would know how to get there, where to sleep, where to eat, and what to see there. Which actually isn't all that hard to do, with a little bit of research

At that point it's not an outline any more, and the disclaimer can be changed to be a {{usablecity}}, {{usableregion}}, {{usablecountry}}, {{usabletopic}}, {{usableitinerary}}, or {{usablephrasebook}} article (depending on which kind of article it is).

Improving a city article[edit]

  • Cleaning up existing information
    • Convert entries in the see, do, buy, eat and sleep sections to listings format. (Listings icons on top bar of editor)
    • Any inline links to external pages showing as numbers ("footnote style"), place description text inside link brackets after web address ("frontlinks"). If multiple information or in bullet point change to a listing.
    • Any phone numbers not clickable to dial, see if can move into a listing.
    • Does the page have a Wikipedia link in "In other projects"? If not on Wikipedia page press Wikidata item on sidebar and add the Wikivoyage page.
  • Validate existing information
    • Check all external links are still valid. Correct if just page rename or new website. If cannot find then check existence of listing.
      • (Enable the "ErrorHighlighter" gadget from your user preferences. After enabling the gadget, invalid links will display followed by a very noticeable "dead link" warning.)
    • Check if listings in do, eat, buy and sleep are still in business. If not remove.
      • Note, not having a web site is not proof of closure but if web sites such as TripAdvisor, Google Maps and Yelp do not have a review less than a few years old, assume closed and remove (except in remote locations).
  • Add additional listings to cities. Recommend to have at least two sleep and two eat listing and at least either one see or one do listing.
    • Add any attractions (see or do), hotels and restaurants you are aware of.
    • If still not enough listings in each section look on Google Maps, TripAdvisor, Yelp, the towns own website and other websites and guide books you may have for recommendations. Just type "attractions in", "restaurants in" and the town name in search engine.
    • Check the Wikipedia page for any other points of interest.
  • Enhance the page information
    • Identify listings that have Wikipedia pages, copy and paste the Wikidata Q number (on the Wikipedia page click "Wikidata item" in the side bar) into the wikidata field of the visual listings editor, press "Update shared fields using values from Wikidata". (pays to check the results, not always correct url or coords).
    • Add web links, phone numbers to listing if do not exist.
    • If required add address and possibly telephone number to listings
    • Add lat/long coordinates for listings.
    • Expand the content description of listings.
    • Improve the get in section.
      • Search the web to check on bus and rail connections.
      • Review map pages to describe the road connections.
      • If there is an airport add the {{IATA}} code.
    • Improve the get around section. Search the web to check on bus connections. What other means of getting about such as bicycle or taxi.
    • Is the geo zoom value correct for the location area covered?
    • Add adjacent locations to the go next section.
    • Not a must but consider looking on Commons, or even better in your own photo collection, for some good pictures to add to the page.
    • Also not a must, but if page does not have a banner image then look at making one from your own photos or from images on Commons.

Improving a region article[edit]

  • Move listings in region article to city pages (if necessary, and enough information to justify, create new city pages).
  • Check all location pages in a bottom level region are listed on the region page (go to one of the city pages, if you display hidden categories you can click on the region category to see all pages associated to it).
  • Add red link entries to any important locations of the region not currently mentioned.
  • For the region article (and maybe some of the city articles) are the airport references and connects up to date?
  • Add or clean up entries in see and do sections, should mention important attractions but reference the corresponding city or park page rather than be a listing.
  • Provide some overview text about type of food and style of accommodation in the region, maybe listing the key towns.
  • Add any relevant Travel topics or Itineraries to the see and do (or even eat) sections.
  • Is there a local dialect or regional language worth mentioning in the talk section?