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Wikitravel:Outline articles

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An outline article is a status rating for any article in Wikitravel 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 Wikitravel.

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 Wikitravel? Where's all the info? Outlines can give a bad first impression if people haven't seen other Wikitravel articles. (But see below for a way to make outlines less confusing.)

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 Wikitraveller can start with an introductory paragraph with a bare outline, and other Wikitravellers 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 Wikitravel: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: {{outline}} which makes this appear on the page:

This article 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 Wikitravel 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).

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