Dispatches: Choosing Today's Featured Article
Each day since February 2004, one of Wikipedia's featured articles (FAs) has occupied a prominent spot on the Main Page. The scheduling of featured articles for the Main Page has fallen to Raul654, the featured article director. An article usually appears on the Main Page only once, even if it is defeatured and later re-admitted to FA status. Virtually all featured articles are eligible for selection as Today's Featured Article (TFA), although Raul654 maintains a small list of articles that he chooses not to schedule.
According to Raul654's thoughts on the main page featured article, scheduling of TFAs is done to minimize resource starvation; that is, to ensure that all topics are represented fairly so that editors are not discouraged from working on specific groups of articles. As the number of featured articles has increased, the competition for a slot on the Main Page has also increased. As of August 2008, more than 975 featured articles are still waiting to appear on the Main Page—more than a third of them for longer than a year.
To give the community greater input in the scheduling of TFAs, Raul654 created the TFA request page in May 2006. The original incarnation of the page allowed anyone to submit a TFA request for a particular date. This list soon grew to hundreds of requests, making the page difficult for Raul654 to use effectively.
Recently, the instructions on the page have been revamped to allow the community greater latitude in removing and replacing requests. Articles may now be requested for any date in the subsequent 30 days that have not already been scheduled; only five requests may be active on the page at any one time, to enable good management. To assist with planning, a template on the talk page allows requestors to submit proposed requests within the subsequent 60 days; the template prompts discussion on the talk page to finalize the number of points that a request has earned (see below). Requesting editors must still return to move their articles to the request page at the appropriate time.
- Points system
Because so many articles are requested for TFA, the points system provides a means to present five articles within a time frame to Raul654; requests with higher points may displace a request with fewer points. Points are awarded on the basis of the following criteria.
- Timing – Articles receive points if the requested date is relevant to the article topic, and the point amount increases for decennary, semicentennial, and centennial anniversaries.
- Importance – Vital and core articles receive additional points, as the community has already identified these as important.
- Time since promotion to featured article status – The longer an article has waited to be TFA, the more points it receives.
- Contributor history – To encourage the creation of featured articles, a point is awarded if the primary contributor or FAC nominator to the article has never had an article appear as TFA.
- Diversity – If the article is in a Featured article category that contains fewer than 50 articles, the request will receive an extra point. This is to encourage editors to work on topics that are underrepresented.
- Main page representation – To ensure that topics are not overrepresented on the main page, points are deducted if similar articles have appeared on the main page recently, and points are awarded if no similar article has appeared for several months. For these purposes, similar articles are not defined as narrowly as the FA categories; for example, two film articles would be considered similar, while two articles, about a newspaper and a film, may both be grouped under Media but would not be considered "similar".
Editors are asked to request only one article at a time. When making a request, editors should include a concise summary of the article, which can be used as the Main Page blurb (Raul often rewrites the blurb before it appears on the main page). If possible, a free image should be included. The requesting editor should include the number of points(s) the request has accrued, with an explanation of how the total was calculated. After a request is placed on the request page, editors are encouraged to Support or Oppose a request. Editors may dispute the point value.
In many cases, five requests are already on the page when an editor is ready to request an article. Older requests may be removed and replaced by a new request in one of the following instances:
- an article nominated more than 48 hours previously has accrued over 75% oppose votes;
- where two requests are for the same date (but not necessarily for the date the new request is for), the request with the smaller number of points may be removed; and
- if the new request has more points than an existing request, the existing request may be displaced.
To assist requesting editors in determining the status of the existing requests, a summary chart of the nominations appears at the top of the request page; this lists the date, the name of the article, the number of points the article has, and comments, which may include notations about disputed points or disputed date connections.
|Aug 24||Planet||4||2-yr definition anniv.+core topic|
|Aug 27||Donald Bradman||6||100-yr birthday|
|Sep 7||Internationalist (album)||2||Next to be replaced|
|Sep 8||Yellowstone fires of 1988||5||20-yr anniversary|
|Sep 11||United Airlines Flight 93||3||Anniversary|
As of August 2008:
- The list currently consists of Jenna Jameson.
- The categories that currently qualify are: Awards, decorations and vexillology; Business, economics and finance; Chemistry and mineralogy; Computing; Culture and society; Education; Engineering and technology; Food and drink; Health and medicine; Language and linguistics; Law; Mathematics; Philosophy and psychology; Religion, mysticism and mythology.
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