Wikivoyage talk:Lede Paragraphs Expedition

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Lede Paragraphs Expedition[edit]

Swept in from the pub

In accordance with Wikivoyage:Expeditions, I'm suggesting a new expedition pending consensus: an expedition to improve lede paragraphs of articles. Contributors would add lede paragraphs based on local knowledge; "it's a matter of their best judgment whether or not [contributors] can incorporate information from the "understand" section..." an alternative to local knowledge. The goal is to reduce the number of articles that begin with "X is a city in [country]," a lede that does not introduce tourists to a destination. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 17:13, 12 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Related to this, on Wikivoyage talk:Article skeleton templates‎, I suggested rewording the lead in the quick article templates and the corresponding MediaWiki templates, to further giving some more interesting information in the lead. --LPfi (talk) 18:49, 12 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This feels timely. A preliminary task is to re-state the principles of a good lede, to act as a pithy intro to a place. It's almost a sound-bite, and the lede should form the basis for the reply to “Alexa, tell me about X” since a casual enquiry is more likely interested in travel than a ponderous WP recitation of geographical stats. The expedition may be limited by the overall condition of the page – it’s easy to write ledes for well-developed pages, even if we don't know the area. It's more daunting for the all-too-common messy scrappy ones. But that’s part of the challenge: if a good lede indicates why you might travel there, it can also attract you to edit there. Grahamsands (talk) 07:38, 13 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreed. Grahamsands, do you have any principles that you believe should be included on the expedition page, if/when it is created? --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 14:53, 13 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nil beyond the above, feels like there's plenty enough implicit understanding that we can just plunge forward. But I thought it worth re-stating the obvious here, because I've had several pithy ledes reduced to the likes of "Rome is a city in Italy, full stop". In future I can revert them and refer the culprit to this discussion. Grahamsands (talk) 15:25, 13 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes. What about a good name? --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 17:07, 13 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Swept in from the pub

This new expedition’s goal is to improve lede articles. However, a problem we face is creating a metric that counts ledes with fewer than 100 bytes. Does Wikipedia use any such mechanism? Or how would one be created? --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 18:36, 14 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for setting this up, SelfieCity. In just 15 days, we've improved more than 100 articles that needed better lead paragraphs. I'm looking forward to our second list, and hoping that more editors will join this expedition that help our articles do a better job of drawing readers in, and hopefully will generate more readers and more contributors. Ground Zero (talk) 20:32, 29 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Develop a metric[edit]

By "metric" we mean something machine-countable to identify target pages and measure progress.
Including false positives, as you noted below. I would guess there are also false negatives (articles with bad leads that don't show up in the search). This search reduces but doesn't eliminate the false positives. —Granger (talk · contribs) 02:17, 16 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Actually, the first the list is London. I don't think that search works. Ground Zero (talk) 03:22, 16 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It might be even better to make a list based on the length of the lead rather than (or in addition to?) the phrasing. I don't know if that's possible with search, but it should be doable with a bot/script. EDIT: The comment I was replying to has been changed, so this comment no longer makes sense. This is the comment I was replying to. —Granger (talk · contribs) 12:06, 16 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A lot of the articles have nothing in the lead and very little in the article. I don't think it's a good use of time to improve the lead of a stub article. Can we focus on articles that have a short lead and a minimum amount of other text, e.g. 5,000 bytes? Ground Zero (talk) 03:35, 16 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agree, is it feasible to identify the shortest leads in the better articles (eg lead < 50 and status > outline) to identify the lowest-hanging fruit, then work outwards?
PS I took the grand liberty of rephrasing the subsection title as above, as it was actually longer than the objects we're seeking. Cheerfully revert if that's not what was meant. Grahamsands (talk) 10:48, 16 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
> outline is a really sensible approach. Ground Zero (talk) 11:16, 16 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Good ideas. I wrote a program that found 125 articles with status > outline and lead ≤ 50 bytes. (The program may have bugs – if you notice any false positives or false negatives, let me know.) Here is the list.Granger (talk · contribs) 01:29, 17 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Excellent work. I looked at the first 20 articles. Some of them have good Understand sections that we can borrow from. There are others that just have a skeleton of listings, so they will be more challenging, but many of them could probably be improved by taking text from Wikipedia and adapting it to work in a travel guide. Ground Zero (talk) 01:46, 17 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks! This is really helpful; I've turned it into a numbered list so the numbers can easily be counted. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 11:22, 17 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's a great list. I think this task is done. Ground Zero (talk) 18:27, 17 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Standardise terminology.[edit]

Is “lede” well understood by contributors, or does “intro” play better? (Styleguide calls it “lead”.)

Support "lead", lede is jargon. In news media there's potential confusion with "lead story", "lead editorial" etc but that doesn't arise here. Grahamsands (talk) 11:00, 16 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Should we change the name of the expedition accordingly? --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 11:02, 17 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes. Ground Zero (talk) 18:27, 17 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Update and publicise the lede and Understand style guide...[edit]

... because confusion between lede and Understand lies at the root of many examples. That would prompt everyone, whatever they’re working on, to take a moment to remedy their page ledes if indicated.

"Understand" is okay in what it says, but it's been interpreted exclusively: as if background material only belongs there and should be stripped out of the lead and any other section it sullies. So the style guide just needs to add a permissive statement, that background is welcome wherever relevant to the traveller. A monument to a famous person in "See" or the hotel where Napoleon stayed in "Sleep" could have a couple of colourful sentences. Grahamsands (talk) 10:53, 17 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I often move information out of the lede and into the Understand section, but I hope that later someone will come along and expand both sections. I think I would support an addition to the style guide that relevant content can be placed in the best section of the article. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 11:01, 17 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Consider how the project might be segmented into do-able chunks...[edit]

...because perhaps 20% of all pages have poor ledes, a daunting task.

I thought it was created by Granger, but otherwise I agree. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 18:45, 17 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Quite right. Credit where credit is due (updated). Thanks to Granger. Ground Zero (talk) 19:38, 17 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm glad it's appreciated! Of course, when we finish this list we can tweak the parameters to generate more articles to work on (for instance, by looking for leads of less than 60 bytes, or by including outline articles that are longer than, say, 5,000 or 10,000 bytes). But one thing at a time. —Granger (talk · contribs) 21:12, 17 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Good idea. Through other editing activity, I am finding articles that are well developed but have short lead paragraphs that are not on this list, such as Parnu and Monterey. But this is a great place to start. Ground Zero (talk) 10:46, 18 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agree. It feels like we could aim to complete this first tranche of 125 by end of May. If anyone finds a particular page a struggle for any reason, flag it TRICKY on the list then we can all weigh in. It would then make sense to expand the criteria only slightly, say lead < 60, to generate a second list of similar length. Grahamsands (talk) 15:03, 18 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Well done everyone. We met Graham's target of the end of May. I'm looking forward to the next list. Ground Zero (talk) 20:36, 29 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hey, eveyone owns the target as much as the progress, well done to your good self. By my reckoning from the example of Switzerland, we've done maybe 10% of eligible pages. So if we continue to knock off similar-sized tranches say every 3 weeks, we should be done by end of year. Grahamsands (talk) 20:43, 29 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'll generate a new list. In the meantime, here are a few articles that are among our most viewed, but have lackluster leads: Coron, Bangalore, Nairobi, Lagos. —Granger (talk · contribs) 21:16, 29 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay, new list added. —Granger (talk · contribs) 21:47, 29 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The second tranche has been completed. I'm willing to continue working on this from time to time if some can prepared a list. @Mx. Granger:. Ground Zero (talk) 17:17, 9 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've also improved Coron, Bangalore, Nairobi, and Lagos. Ground Zero (talk) 19:18, 9 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Done. This time I included outline articles with more than 7,000 bytes. Let me know if this is useful or if I should go back to only usable and above. —Granger (talk · contribs) 23:47, 9 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks, Granger. I'll give it a try. Outline articles may be more challenging as there will be less to work with, but I'll try. Ground Zero (talk) 00:05, 10 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Ground Zero: I happened to come across this page today and decided to run the program again. So there's a new list if you're interested. —Granger (talk · contribs) 10:53, 1 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks. I'm still improving lead paragraphs when I come across them in the course of other work. Hopefully someone else will take on this list. Ground Zero (talk) 15:30, 1 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

How much is sufficient?[edit]

In the case of small, boring towns, like Avon (Ohio), I'm finding it hard to find much to add to the lead. If the town's tourism page is just a list of businesses, you know you're in trouble. What is our minimum standard for a sufficient lead paragraph? Ground Zero (talk) 12:26, 18 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think it depends on the place. A small town doesn't need a long lede section, as there isn't much to say. That one looks long enough to me. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 13:06, 18 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree it's hard to know what to say in those cases. I think a couple of sentences is fine—the important thing is to give the reader some sense of what the destination is like or why they might want to go there. —Granger (talk · contribs) 14:02, 18 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreed. For example Ljungby has just a couple sentences but these are sufficient for a relatively small tourist destination. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 17:59, 18 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Removing information from "Understand"[edit]

At Talk:Kinross it was made clear by ThunderingTyphoons! that he does not agree with many of the edits made in this expedition. His concern is that moving information from the Understand section to the lede of an article isn't beneficial to Wikivoyage articles. I think we need to address this criticism before we continue the expedition into the next list of articles with poor lede sections. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 15:39, 19 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Rewording information from Understand is fine, and in some situations it makes sense to move some content from Understand to the lede. What I particularly object to is removing an Understand section altogether in favour of a longer lede. That doesn't make sense, and just means someone else will have to write a new Understand section from scratch if the article is ever to advance.
I tend to think ledes are better written by someone who actually knows the place they're writing about. It's difficult to sum up a location in a paragraph or three, but it always helps if you're familiar with that place. When I'm working on an article, I nearly always leave the lede till last, because I find it easier going after having focused on each article section in turn, so know what content to highlight in the intro.
The problem with this COTM as I understand it is it's indiscriminate; you're going through articles which have poor ledes and rightly trying to improve them, but if you don't know the place and/or have never edited the article before, you'll either need to do some independent research into the place so you get a feel for what to write (which is time-consuming and hard), or, much easier and quicker, you raid 'Understand' for sentences. The net result is the exact same information as before, only spread more thinly.
It would work better if COTM participants focused on places they know or can at least learn about quickly. --ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 16:00, 19 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Originally I thought the goal of the expedition was more important articles about places/things we know. I’ve gone along with the expedition so far but I think now we should reconsider based on your criticism and focus on region articles instead, perhaps, and articles in which the understand section contains general content of the sort that belongs in the lede. Some states or provinces or counties have lede articles about which we are more likely to know than a village in Italy or a town in Bolivia. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 16:11, 19 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
(edit conflict) Overall, I agree with you—I find it basically impossible to write a good original lead for a place I don't know. In some cases I do think it can work to move information from "Understand" (example), but I don't think the "Understand" section should be removed. In some cases there isn't anything lead-worthy in the "Understand" section. A couple of times I've tried summarizing information from Wikipedia, but I'm not all that pleased with the results. Other users may be better at this than I am, I don't know. —Granger (talk · contribs) 16:14, 19 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I disagree with Thundering Typhoons on this. Wikivoyage has, at best, a few dozen very active editors, and dozens of occasionally active ones, and then others who pass by, add a little information, and never return. In an ideal world, articles would only be written by people with first-hand knowledge. But if we restricted ourselves to that, Wikivoyage would never develop to the point of becoming a useful travel guide, and would never attract enough readers to be a self-sustaining wiki.
Moving text from Understand to lead paragraph improves the article by making the readers first contact with the article more interesting. The Understand sections shouldn't be removed. Perhaps TT can provide examples of articles that he thinks have been damaged by this expedition. Ground Zero (talk) 16:22, 19 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I can see that at Kinross User:Grahamsands removed some text about population while moving other text to the lead. I'm not sure why Graham did that, but I don't think that the example is a good reason to shut down an expedition that improves our SEO results and the reader's experience. Ground Zero (talk) 16:58, 19 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
One of the tasks of this expedition is to re-visit the style guide for both lead and understand sections. That was proposed because there was confusion between them, and that confusion is manifest here - we're working on different understandings of what makes for a good reader experience. For instance, it's being said that "understand" is a required section - that is simply not what the style guide states. So we now need to prioritise that task and hold off changing pages until clarity emerges. I don't think not knowing the city is the root issue here. In the example of Kinross, I took out tedious population figures but suggested several lively snippets that might embellish that page: an "understand" along those lines would add value. Grahamsands (talk) 19:03, 19 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think that rounded and dated population figures are key bits of information for helping the reader to know what to expect. A town of 5,000 will provide different services and attractions than one of 500,000. They population figures can go in the Understand section, though, to leave the lead open for lively text. Ground Zero (talk) 19:20, 19 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
And the Understand section is "Recommended in all destination articles", so let's try to preserve it where we can. Ground Zero (talk) 19:24, 19 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
(edit conflict) @Grahamsands: Which style guide are you referring to? --ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 19:25, 19 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oh, and @Ground Zero: I don't have any examples because I wasn't and am not interested in shutting down this COTM. My original comment was about Kinross, and I then suggested the changes Graham alludes to should be discussed before a COTM implements them. But regarding your point about lack of editorship, I see what you mean, but still don't think a truly good lede can be written by someone who doesn't know the place they're writing about. When I say "know", they don't have to have been there (though that would be ideal), but they would have to have spent more than a few minutes looking online. I say "a few minutes" because a lot of COTM tasks are 'hit and run', you can get to an article, hit it with your changes (e.g. fixing link format) then get the hell out of there to see the next patient. You can get ten articles or more done in an hour if you work fast. But you can't take that approach for this COTM. --ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 19:41, 19 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree that a truly good lead can only be written by someone who knows the place, but until we're a bigger community, I think we have to settle for kind of good for many articles. I agree that at least clicking through to the Wikipedia article or another language version of Wikivoyage to pickup some additional text is better than just rearranging the extra text. Ground Zero (talk) 19:52, 19 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Wikivoyage:Article skeleton templates/Sections quoth: “Understand” Recommended in all destination articles. Required for Country, Region, Large City, Huge City, and Park articles. - unquote. And that statement makes sense. In the lead para we set out a few lines to help you understand the place at the outset – which for a small place like Kinross might be all that needs saying, so “understand” may not be needed. It is unlikely to suffice for a bigger place so an “understand” section for those is, at the very least, strongly recommended. (I would argue not essential if you can incorporate the material better elsewhere, but let’s hold that thought for the substantive debate on the guide.) Population figures are perhaps a side-issue (and have their own project): they’re problematic in small places that may not be registration entities, and 5000 popn of a nuclear village looks very different from 5000 dispersed across hill and dale around a nominal hamlet. I don’t jib at them, but at the implication that they’re what the reader most needs to understand. I’m not hearing any objection to what’s going into to the lead text, it’s the knock-on for “understand” that’s your entire concern, is that correct? That’s speedily resolved. Grahamsands (talk) 20:11, 19 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── My concern is more about removing useful information. Population figures aren't perfect. We won't have them for every article, and sometimes they merit clarification (like adding in metro area population), but not being perfect isn't a good reason for deleting information. If you leave the population figures in in the Kinross article, then you might as well keep the Understand section. Ground Zero (talk) 20:27, 19 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What do we do now? The community is obviously divided over this issue and there isn't consensus. We don't have consensus to copy-paste lede or understand sections from Wikipedia either, per policy. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 12:38, 20 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No, we shouldn't copy-and-paste lead or understand sections. But we can adapt Wikipedia text for our travel guide. This means selecting only those parts that are of interest, removing encyclopedic detail, and focusing it on things of interest to travellers, which is what the policy says. Is there any article where text has been copied and pasted verbatim as part of this project? Ground Zero (talk) 12:57, 20 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not sure, but I agree with you — I sometimes do the same for a sentence or two here and there, with credit given to the source, of course. How much of a change do you mean by adapting text from Wikipedia? --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 13:04, 20 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What I wrote: "selecting only those parts that are of interest, removing encyclopedic detail, and focusing it on things of interest to travellers". This isn't from the policy, I wrote that to describe the approach I take to using text from Wikipedia. We're writing a different type of website here, so text should be tailored for our readers. History is history, so there may not be much re-writing needed, but Wikipedia is usually too detailed and should be trimmed down for use here. Büsum is a good example. Compare the history there to w:Büsum. Ground Zero (talk) 13:10, 20 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── More importantly, there isn't a lack of consensus on this project going ahead. User:ThunderingTyphoons! raised the issue of the Understand section being pillaged and even eliminated to strengthen the lead. Only User:Grahamsands was doing that. TT has specifically said that he doesn't want to shut down this project. I don't see any objection to expanding the lead by using text from Understand, as long as that section remains a useful section, and no-one could conceivably object to building the article by adding text to the lead. That is a regular and extremely useful activity for editors. Grahamsands has objected to including population figures, but that is a side issue, and this is the first time I've seen that raised as a concern in Wikivoyage.

This project not only improves the readers' experience of Wikivoyage, it may improve our Search Engine Optimization, which will bring in new readers and editors, which we need for Wikivoyage to succeed. Let's not let it grind to a halt because of concerns that can be addressed. Ground Zero (talk) 13:20, 20 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Agreed. While I would be happy to discuss the differences of opinion over Understand sections, that should be somewhere else.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 13:35, 20 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well said Ground Zero. Jibbing at population figures was an editorial quirk of my own, I bear sole responsibility for it, and it's alarming to see this expedition castigated or confuted therefrom. I hereby amend my style, because I buy the arguments for inclusion. I anticipate similar principles will apply to climate charts and TIC info - there's perhaps a conversation to be had about where they best sit, but can we hew to the principle that if found on a target page, they stay. But continuing your thoughts above, enhancing the lead may mean subtracting from "Understand", perhaps to absurd effect. If "Rome is a city in Italy" is a sorry lead, then an "Understand" that just said "Rome has a population of 2.87 million" would be achingly sad. Please either let's say nothing or say something interesting. We can't in this exercise try to fix the totality of each page, but any improvements to "Understand" will be time well-spent even though it slows the pace. Doing this for places we know is quicker and more sure-footed, but if that's all we dare do, we cease to be Wikivoyagers - plunge forward into the pampas grass! I'll have a go at Kinross to illustrate what I'm barking at. Grahamsands (talk) 14:07, 20 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Also, very well said. We seem to share a brain on this. Let's improve the lead, and improve Understand while we're at it. It takes longer that just cutting from one to add to the other, but the result is better articles. Ground Zero (talk) 14:23, 20 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Ground Zero: Thanks. I now feel much more comfortable continuing work on the expedition and I’ll try to incorporate more information (in the way described above) from WP in future, when appropriate to do so. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 14:51, 20 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Examples of great leads[edit]

I've added a few examples of top-notch leads to give people inspiration, like how we have Wikivoyage:Banner Expedition/Star standard banners. I'm mostly imagining these will be good examples for people working on leads for places they know well, but they might also be useful to put yourself in the right mindset when summarizing or adapting information from Wikipedia, "Understand" sections, etc. Feel free to add to the list if you notice an article with a particularly good lead. —Granger (talk · contribs) 18:17, 20 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Plus interesting examples: where to flag these? I mentioned Kinross above, not because it's great, but because it illustrates some points and principles. And Ikan elsewhere highlights Batu. Others will no doubt crop up. I suggest they're simply name-checked in this section while the discussion takes place on the destination talk page. Grahamsands (talk) 10:02, 21 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

New list[edit]

For anyone who's interested, I've generated a new list of articles with short leads at Wikivoyage:Lede Paragraphs Expedition/Articles to work on. —Granger (talk · contribs) 14:17, 22 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]