Dispatches: April Fools 2009 mainpage
Once again, it's time to begin preparing for Wikipedia's tradition of celebrating April Fools' Day on April 1. Some media outlets follow an April Fools tradition that dates back to medieval times by printing hoax articles—probably the best known of which was the BBC's spaghetti tree hoax.
Raul654 first proposed an April Fools' Day featured article (FA) in March 2005, stipulating that the article must first pass FAC like any other daily featured article; because a featured article must be factually accurate, this means no made up articles. A lengthy debate ensued about how to handle April Fools. No article was written and featured in time for April Fools' Day 2005; instead, the main page was filled with hoaxes: Bishonen's sublime European toilet paper holder article as the FA, and Britannica was taking over Wikimedia in the news.
On April Fools 2006 we featured Spoo as an unusual article, and in 2007 we featured George Washington (inventor), written primarily by Pharos. The latter appeared on the main page written as if it were a hoax; everything in the description, however, was entirely true. A similar approach was taken in 2008; Karanacs led a collaboration that involved more than a dozen editors to bring Ima Hogg to featured status in time for April Fools. The blurb that appeared on the Main Page was written mostly by The Fat Man Who Never Came Back, again as a hoax in which everything was entirely true. CNET News reviewed Wikipedia's April Fools' coverage favorably, saying:
Whoever wrote the fake Ima Hogg bio might want to think about pursuing a career in screenwriting. It sounds more amusing than any of the movies I've seen recently... 
And the Houstonist reported:
Eat your heart out, History Channel. You may have fancy production values and three-dimensional graphics of Roman aqueducts and WWII bombers, but you'll never have the sort of ethical objectivity and factual foundation that Wikipedia does. 
Because of the success, and the fact that we really did have many people confused, this is the path we are going to follow this year, if we have an article that allows it. Candidates meeting the Featured article criteria should be submitted to FAC in time to be reviewed and promoted before April 1—by late February or early March at the latest. Once Raul654 promotes and chooses an article to be featured as the April 1 Today's featured article, a mainpage blurb is submitted that may be "totally different from the lead in [of the article], and ... as outlandish or misleading as possible, provided it's all true". The mainpage blurb should be a maximum of 1,400 characters including spaces.
Ideas for an article that could be brought to featured status in time for April 1, 2009 can be culled from unusual articles, which offers a potential list including Mozart's Leck mich im Arsch (translated as "Kiss my ass"; literally: "Lick me in the ass"), Casu marzu and Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116. Other ideas, and general discussion of the April Fools' featured article, are at the April Fool's Main Page discussion page.
Did you know?
The main page Did you know? (DYK) section also runs hooks for pages that are odd enough to seem like April Fools' jokes, but are actually referenced articles. Suggestions for 2009 are discussed at Wikipedia:April Fool's Main Page/Did You Know.
In the past, the usual requirement for new material from the past five days was waived to include new material created during the prior year. DYK entries in 2008 included:
Did you know...
- ...that the 24 Hours of LeMons includes such penalties as tarring and feathering a racer's car and crushing a car via audience vote (crushing of a car pictured)?
- ...that John F. Kennedy was shot dead in an ambush by government agents who had foreknowledge of his whereabouts?
- ...that after a long term at the helm, Sir Winston Churchill was succeeded by Prince William in 2000?
- ...that in a few villages and towns of southern France and Spain it is illegal to die, and that there are attempts to have the same law in a town in Brazil?
- ...that men are able to be insured against alien impregnation?
- ...that Ben Affleck died while shoveling snow outside of his house, leaving behind an unexpectedly small estate speculated to be worth as little as US$20,000?
- ...that six latrines at Black Moshannon State Park in Pennsylvania are listed on the National Register of Historic Places?
- ...that Wiener sausages are named after the mathematician Norbert Wiener?
- ...that the winner of the Ernie Awards is the person who gets the loudest boos from the audience?
- ...that the 31 mi (50 km) West Rim Trail along the Grand Canyon was selected by Outside Magazine as the best hike in Pennsylvania?
- ...that James Garner sent two of his associates into a room filled with toxic chlorine gas?
DYK entries from 2006 and 2007 mentioned:
- Queen Elizabeth II worked as a lorry driver during World War II.
- Joshua Blahyi, a Liberian warlord also known as General Butt-Naked.
- The British Rail flying saucer design patented in 1970.
- Casu marzu, a Sardinian cheese known for its leaping maggots.
- Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 is a legal name in Sweden.
Today's Featured Picture
Unlike the Featured Article and DYK, Today's Featured Picture (also known as the Picture of the Day) is difficult to fill with a "jokey" entry. The approach the last few years has been to show a silly picture with a serious caption. A fresco that resembled Mickey Mouse was featured in 2006, 2007 showed a statue of Louis Agassiz with its head under the ground, and 2008 had the Grenville Diptych, a coat of arms that features a ridiculous 719 smaller coats of arms on it.
The picture that will be selected must be of Featured Picture quality and must be suitable in tone for display on the Main Page. Suggestions can be made at Wikipedia:April Fool's Main Page/Today's Featured Picture.
Note on jokes
In general, it is OK to make April Fools jokes in the 'user' and 'user talk' namespaces. However, do not do it in the article namespace—that is considered vandalism and is liable to get you blocked.
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