The Lead Improvement Team is a WikiProject dedicated to finding and improving poor lead sections of articles across Wikipedia.
The introduction or Lead section is arguably the most important part of the article; it should accurately summarize the article without being too technical or introducing facts that are not discussed later, and it should be well written and easy to understand. It is often the first, and sometimes the only thing that a reader will look at on the page. Many websites use Wikipedia as a source of information, and often the only information they will display comes from the lead. An example would be the meta description that displays under Google search results when a term is searched for.
It is vital that the lead be well presented. As it stands now though, many editors, especially new editors, are careless when it comes to the lead. If they have a bit of information to add, the lead seems to be an attractive place to add it, though it is not the best place to do so. When substantial information is added or changed elsewhere in the article, the lead is often not revisited to reflect that change. Expecting editors to adhere to the style guide is not enough to stop this. What we need is a team of editors willing to visit articles and improve their leads, perhaps giving advice to the people who wrote them along the way.
The members of the Lead Improvement Team will identify articles with leads that are in need of improvement, and then edit those lead so that they meet (nay, exceed!) the standard of quality expected of them.
Articles with leads that need improving.
Articles with leads that are missing.
Articles with leads that have been fixed by the LIT in the past, but that now need a second look.
This section is an essay on style. It contains the advice and/or opinions of one or more WikiProjects on how to format and present article content within their area of interest.
The lead should be able to stand alone as a concise overview. It should define the topic, establish context, explain why the topic is notable, and summarize the most important points, including any prominent controversies.
When analyzing a lead that may need improvement, ask:
Is it general? – Does the lead contain information that is too specific or technical? If so, this should be rephrased so the reader has a general idea of what is going to be discussed, without going into details that are discussed later.
Does it contain information that is not mentioned elsewhere? – The lead is meant to be a summary; if it contains information not found elsewhere in the article, that information should be moved to an appropriate heading. If there is no appropriate heading, a new one may need to be created and expansion on the point should be considered.
Does it summarize all key points? – Are there important facts discussed in the article that are not represented in the lead? In most cases, one or two sentences representing each section is ideal.
Is its length the correct ratio to the length of the rest of the article? – The length of the article should dictate the length of the lead. In general, lead length should follow these guidelines:
Fewer than 15,000 characters
One or two paragraphs
Two or three paragraphs
More than 30,000 characters
Three or four paragraphs
Is it easy to understand? – Ideally, the lead should be able to be understood by someone with no experience in the field. Although some technical articles in areas such as math or physics will inherently be difficult to understand for some, the lead should preferably at least be less confusing than the rest of the article.
Topic-specific lead guidelines
Articles on certain subjects may have specific guidelines on what should be included in the lead of the article, and in what order. When editing the lead in a certain subject area, consult to see if there are any guidelines in the Manual of Style that should be taken into consideration. Some topics do not have specific guidelines on the lead, though they may contain information that is useful when writing it, such as naming conventions and sections that should be included in the article.
Articles specifically for the LIT's attention
Since rewriting a lead may require some dedication of time, there may be occasions when you notice one that needs improving, but are busy with some other task such as gnoming. Project contributors are encouraged to add the article to this list, so that someone here can get to it. Even if you are not a listed member of this project, you are encouraged to bring articles with leads that need improving to our attention by adding them here.
This list is intended for articles that need the attention of the members of this team and that will be looked at by someone soon. Ideally, it should never grow too long.
Wikipedia already has a category for introduction cleanup. It contains thousands of articles that have been tagged with one of Wikipedia's introduction cleanup templates. Contributors are encouraged to visit the list and improve the lead. When you do, be sure to remove the appropriate tags so that it is removed from this category. We ask too that you report back here that you have made an improvement, so that we can track this project's success.
Please add any articles for which you have improved the lead. This will allow members of this project to track our success. Articles listed here should need no further work to the lead, though the members of the list should be revisited periodically to ensure that they reflect any new content that may have been added to the article, and that they still conform to Wikipedia's style guide.
Articles in this list that are found to need further cleanup should be removed and added to the to-do list above.
OliverEastwood (talk·contribs) - I find lead improvement a great way to make articles better, and really want to make this a focus of my Wikipedia editing. Mostly interested in editing articles on politics, climate change and cycling. - 09:05, 4 May 2019 (UTC)
If you think you can improve the lead yourself, please do so and then let us know so we can strike it off our list. If you are interested in helping with this project, please visit our project page and add your name to the list of participants.