How to Avoid Getting Your Article Tagged as a Stub

Three Parts:Understanding the stub tagAvoiding a stub tag on your additionsAdding the icing on the cake

Have a great idea, write it all out- and BAM!- it's tagged as a stub! What can you do to prevent this from ever happening? You can guess... or you can read this to work out what needs to be done to avoid having a stub tag added to your article on wikiHow.

Part 1
Understanding the stub tag

  1. 1
    Understand the purpose of the stub tag. The stub tag is not a personal attack on your efforts; what you have added is still fully appreciated and wanted as part of the wikiHow project. A stub tag is an editor's assessment that while your work is good, it's not yet complete and needs enhancement to ensure that it's fully useful to a reader. It will likely benefit from new perspectives or from a reworking by an experienced editor. Your care and attention in adding the topic remains valuable from the outset and will be built on, as intended by the wiki way.
    • The wiki way refers to the expectation that wikis are a place of collaboration and that many people will add their skills in building the wiki in a way that enhances each addition. It is both an acceptance that each individual matters and that as a whole, we help each other out for the benefit of all readers and learners.
  2. 2
    Ask for advice if you need it. People add tags daily and you can simply ask them for their reasons on their talk page. Be civil and assume they acted in good faith. The majority of editors here will explain their action to you if asked and will also help to guide you if you wish for that input.
    • You can ask wikiHow editors for help to enhance your article too. In fact, you can ask other editors for help with any aspect of your article and editing that you'd like guidance on. Community members are a friendly bunch here, and are often most willing to help.

Part 2
Avoiding a stub tag on your additions

  1. 1
    Select a good topic. Many of the low-hanging topics have already been addressed on wikiHow, since this community-driven project is now over a decade old. If you have the same topic but new information, add to the existing article as appropriate––a new tip, a new method or by way of enhancing existing information. If needed, you can even go for a rewrite. If your topic is different, write on but avoid the stub tag as follows
  2. 2
    Choose a topic you know well or have researched in depth and can write about fully. This makes it easier to write the article and to cover all the aspects of it that a reader is likely to look for.
  3. 3
    Write a good introduction. Your introduction should be short and to the point and not use infomercial speak. Help the reader to know what they're going to learn in the article––this isn't about stealth or surprise; a reader who knows what is coming up can decide whether or not the article is worth their time and effort. Compel your reader to keep reading by being clear and by detailing the expected outcome.
  4. 4
    Write a full article. While wikiHow once accepted short instructions that still needed rounding out, this is no longer the case. The aim is to write as completely as possible. Otherwise, the reader will simply go somewhere else that the article is explained fully. It is important to write as fully as possible while ensuring that it's not overdone either. This is a good skill for any writer to learn.
    • Keep paragraphs as clear and succinct as possible, to make them easy to read. A standard amount of sentences is around four to five, depending on what you're writing. Also consider breaking down very long paragraphs into sub-steps, to assist the reader even more with ease of reading and to help with additional highlighted step points. This sub-step itself provides an example.
    • Recipe articles tend to have fewer sentences where the explanation would benefit from being set apart and images being added.
    • If the article really is short, consider adding an alternative method. For example, while once How to Make an X, Y, Z Cocktail or Cake might have been fine with one way to make it, now it would be preferable to add at least two ways, where possible, denoting each way as a separate method (see next step on methods). Another alternative is to detail the article by using Parts, also explained in the following step.
  5. 5
    Use Parts or Methods to break down the article into sections or different explanations. This feature helps guide the reader's eyes with ease:
    • Aim to divide your article into parts, if the subject-matter permits this. It helps readers to read in sections, such as "Preparation"; "Making the Cake"; "Baking the Cake"; and "Frosting the Cake". You can add a notation to the base of the article that says __Parts__, to force the Parts header to show.
    • If you have more than one way to achieve the outcome, break the article into different methods. It's a good roadmap for other editors down the track if they have their own methods to add.
  6. 6
    Think about the reader. What is the reader likely to be looking for beyond the obvious things any person can work out for themselves?
    • A reader does not want to be told to go to another website for instructions. They came here, so be sure that they get the answer here.
    • A reader does not want to be told to go and buy something or to hire someone as the sole point of the article. While this might be a useful side element or tip, if it's all that the article is about, it's not helpful.
    • A reader is not interested in your personal experience. As harsh as that may seem, they came here for objective advice that can apply in multiple situations and isn't unique to your individual circumstances. If only you know how to do it/you made it up/your own invention is the only solution, then it needs to be reworked so that it can apply broadly. By the way, just because it worked for you or didn't work for you, isn't a reason on its own to state that something is "true", a "fact" or the "one and only solution".
  7. 7
    Reference the article to help with authenticity if possible. The Sources and Citations should mention where you got your information from and what bolsters its factual nature. It is an important element when considering the accuracy of the article and whether or not it's complete.
    • If everything you have written is from real life experience, this is not needed. However, be objective in writing up your experiences and, where possible, find relevant links to bolster your personal experience.
    • If you got information from a website, link to it.
    • Do not spam, but there is a filter for catching spam links in articles anyway.
  8. 8
    Add Things You'll Need to the base of the article. These are the physical, tangible items that a person would need to complete the steps. Although this isn't essential, it's very helpful and can influence an editor to consider the article as complete.
    • Food ingredients: This tells the reader what items (food/drink) are needed to create your recipe (food/cosmetics/pet food, etc. recipe style articles). Do not add a recipe without this list, or it's an automatic stub because readers cannot be expected to play guesswork with the ingredients or their measurements.
  9. 9
    Read over your article when you're done. Consider some of the following things before pressing on publish:
    • Does it have accurate spelling and proper grammar? These are red flags to editors, and the more errors present, the less the article will seem ready to go.
    • Have you fully covered what is needed to be done to achieve the outcome? If you haven't explained all aspects, readers are liable to state that things are missing and a stub tag will be likely.
    • Go through your article as if you were doing it for the first time. Could you achieve the intended outcome using the instructions you've written?
    • Does the article come across as objective, logical and applicable to the situation other readers would find themselves in?
    If you can answer yes to these questions, it's probable that your article is full enough to not be called a stub.

Part 3
Adding the icing on the cake

The following additions are not essential but can help to round out an article.

  1. 1
    Add a video, if relevant. You can add a video, but it is not necessary. The video should go over what you have written, confirm your writing, and maybe add a few points.
    • Do not add videos that are not on topic, or are simply songs, montages or vaguely related. Such videos will end up being removed and are detrimental to the content you've added, in most cases.
  2. 2
    Add tips if needed. Tips should be one-liners to confirm things, or to add small points not needed in the main body.
  3. 3
    Consider adding warnings if needed. Warnings should point out what to not do to achieve success with your article. However, these are not essential and it's better to err on the side of not adding any if you don't have them than to add inane ones that cause people to feel they were added for the sake of adding them. If added, these should be one to two liners that are not needed in the main article.
  4. 4
    Add some related articles. Related wikiHows are other articles that are related to your point. Be aware that this will not save an article from the stub tag, as it has nothing to do with the content's quality. It's just a nice finishing touch, and definitely not essential.
    • It is recommended that you do not link to articles in the main body/other parts, but instead link all in this part.


  • Double-check everything for best results.
  • Ask for help if needed!
  • Make sure all your information is relevant and cited (if needed.)
  • Categorize your article. Categories are topics of your article. You can only have a maximum of two at a time, although one distinct category is the preferred amount. Categories are useful for increased traffic and definition.
  • Watch out for spelling and grammar, but do not worry insanely about those other people will chip in and help with your article.
  • More informative is better than less informative.
  • Minor edits are small edits that are not needed to be patrolled.
  • Watch means you want email updates about this article, and it is added to your watchlist.


  • Do not be rude, obscene, racist, etc.
  • Your article may be edited, do not freak out about that, or do not submit it at all.
  • Do not make a useless article. Every article on here should be relevant and useful!

Things You'll Need

  • A good topic
  • Willingness to write
  • All the details needed

Article Info

Categories: What You Can Do to Help