Wikipedia talk:Today's featured article

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Quality control[edit]

Is there any expectation that a) the article selected and b) the blurb have any sort of quality control? It is fairly common to find serious errors in both. It might help us if were able to catch some or most of these errors before an article and its corresponding blurb go live on the main page. --John (talk) 15:21, 14 May 2014 (UTC)

Q.E.D. --John (talk) 18:04, 15 May 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for your edits in the last couple of days, although accusing me of disrupting Wikipedia to make a point when I corrected one of your mistakes on a blurb that was on the main page at the time (and where your mistake had been pointed out at WP:ERRORS) was hardly fair. Part of the reason that I schedule a fortnight in advance usually (sometimes more, if time permits) is precisely so that people (whether the original editor(s) of the FA or not) can check over blurbs and the articles, and make improvements where necessary. After all, no-one is perfect. History of Sheffield is one of the older FAs yet to run, so it perhaps needs a bit more TLC than some of the more recent FAs, but then again not every new FA meets with unbridled enthusiasm about the quality of writing, so newness/oldness is not necessarily a reliable indicator of quality. JeremyA, the FAC nominator from 2007, is still active and has been alerted to the article's appearance, and I hope that he also has some time before TFA day to check over the article.
To answer your initial question more directly (although I don't accept your starting point that "serious errors" are commonly found - TFA isn't DYK, after all(!) - but I don't want to get into a debate about that, which wouldn't help anything), the quality control measures (if you want to call them that) would be these:
  • Firstly, FAC itself - although standards can change over time and the reviews may themselves vary in thoroughness. Hopefully an increase in reviewers would help improve standards of new FAs generally, as well as increasing the number of new FAs (since many FACs stall for lack of reviewers).
  • After an article has the FA star, it is then left to the article's principal editor(s) - if they stay active, of course - and other interested editors to keep an eye on the article. Some articles will need regular updating, some will not. To that extent, it's all a bit of pot luck. An old FA may be perfect; a new FA may lose its shine very rapidly.
  • Some FAs may deteriorate to the extent that they are no longer fit for the main page. Dweller started a survey a while ago at User:Dweller/Featured Articles that haven't been on Main Page of older FAs, which I consult when making my decisions. I'd love it if more people took a look at that and checked out articles there – I'm not sure how active Wikipedia:Unreviewed featured articles is. Some may deteriorate to the point that someone takes them to FAR. Needless to say, anything that's at FAR won't be running at TFA at the same time!
  • Then we get to the selection process. On average, about 45% of TFAs are processed through the requests process, where people can and do point out issues with article quality. Sometimes this will lead to nominations being withdrawn or unsuccessful, and I can think of at least two examples where a TFA nomination led to the article being taken to FAR and then delisted (one of which was promoted as recently as September 2012). Blurbs are often written by the principal editor(s) of the article, who hopefully know the territory well enough to ensure that compression does not mean distortion, and then can be (and often are) tweaked by me and by others.
  • The other 55% of TFAs - although unfortunately it's currently running at 75% because TFAR is comparatively quiet - are chosen by me. Now, my wife would be the first person to tell you that I'm not perfect, and she'd be the second person to tell you just to make sure that you got the message. But I do my best. Mistakes will happen. I will try not to choose obviously problematic articles. But I am not a one-man FAC / FAR substitute - I do not have the time or the skill to check every potential TFA for mistakes, omissions, referencing issues, lack of updates, or anything else. What I can do, though, is to schedule a decent time in advance so that others can check the queue. At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, this has been welcomed by some FA editors, in comparison to former times when TFAs were chosen with less than half a day's notice. 10/14 days gives people time - and an incentive! - to check over their FAs before everyone else does...
  • So, both before but also after scheduling, quality control is open to anyone interested in helping. I know from my watchlist that there are some editors who check my blurbs and new TFA choices regularly before they hit the main page. The more the merry, frankly! I would welcome your ideas as to how the processes could be improved. In terms of what you can do to help, perhaps, just carry on doing what you're doing whenever you can. To that extent, I consider History of Sheffield as a good result - you've taken a look at an article you might not have otherwise read but for its forthcoming TFA slot, and found things that you can improve, with plenty of time before TFA day. I'd also invite you to consider taking a look now and then at TFAR, if you would, as more eyes are always welcome there - and the more that can be done at/through TFAR before scheduling, the less I will have to do when scheduling either TFAR articles or off my own bat. Then at last I might find time to, I don't know, write some more articles... I hope you find this reply useful, John, and I'd welcome your further observations. BencherliteTalk 19:19, 15 May 2014 (UTC)
  • Thank you User:Bencherlite for your thorough and thoughtful reply. I am sorry for responding to your cheeky edit summary with a cheekier one. I hadn't realised this was basically a one-man show. The problems with History of Sheffield were serious; one error of fact and one NPOV fault in a short blurb would not have been a good advert for the thoroughness of our QC process. I will try to make time in the future to review TFAs a week at a time, as it is interesting and fun. That will be better than my previous practice of cursing under my breath as I corrected what seem like obvious errors on an article already being displayed on the main page. I apologise again for my snarkiness and I appreciate the good work that you do. --John (talk) 19:28, 15 May 2014 (UTC)
Thank you too, much appreciated, and I look forward to seeing your name popping up on my watchlist - although not too often, perhaps!!! BencherliteTalk 19:38, 15 May 2014 (UTC)


I am wondering what would people think about linking a FT to a running TFA. For example, today's TFA, "Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses)" could have linked to the discography topic had it been not a GT, but a FT. Perhaps link it somewhere around the "Recently featured:..." part? Nergaal (talk) 14:38, 25 May 2014 (UTC)

Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the 1969 autobiography about the early years of writer and activist Maya Angelou. The first in a six-volume series, it is a coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma. In the course of Caged Bird, Maya transforms from a victim of racism with an inferiority complex into a self-possessed, dignified young woman capable of responding to racism. Angelou was challenged by her friend, author James Baldwin, and her editor, Robert Loomis, to write an autobiography that was also a piece of literature. Because Angelou uses thematic development and other techniques common to fiction, reviewers often categorize Caged Bird as autobiographical fiction, but the prevailing critical view characterizes it as an autobiography, a genre she attempts to critique, change and expand. The book covers topics common to autobiographies written by black American women in the years following the civil rights movement: a celebration of black motherhood; a critique of racism; the importance of family; and the quest for independence, personal dignity, and self-definition. Caged Bird was nominated for a National Book Award in 1970 and remained on The New York Times paperback Best Seller list for two years. However, the book's graphic depiction of racism, sexuality and childhood rape have caused it to be challenged or banned in some schools and libraries. (Full article...)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is part of the Maya Angelou autobiographies series, one of Wikipedia's featured topics.

Recently featured: Hare coursingMeningitisMuseum of Bad Art

Something like this, perhaps? BencherliteTalk 14:52, 27 May 2014 (UTC)
Rather a topical example, as it turns out... BencherliteTalk 14:06, 28 May 2014 (UTC)

Perhaps something even more subtle than this, but this would work. Nergaal (talk) 14:06, 28 May 2014 (UTC)

Support I like the idea of linking a FT to TFA. Hawkeye7 (talk) 06:49, 31 May 2014 (UTC)
Support. Not sure about the formatting, but it's a perfectly good inclusion. —Designate (talk) 20:23, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
Support - I'm all for this. Being a delegate for FTC, I think this'll help get the project and the Featured Topics some well needed exposure on the main page. GamerPro64 05:24, 5 July 2014 (UTC)

Would it be appropriate to run a Maya Angelou FA as tomorrow's TFA?[edit]

We have a good number of Maya Angelou FAs, although I'm not sure if any haven't been run yet. If the community isn't against it, it might be nice to consider. Sven Manguard Wha? 16:28, 28 May 2014 (UTC)

The thought had already occurred to me... although I was wondering about going for the day of her funeral, whenever that may be, which will give a bit more time for the articles to be updated / tweaked. The choice is:

I'd be tempted to go for All God's Children as that (and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which has already been TFA) strike me as being the two best-known in the series, although I may be wrong. I would also propose to link to Wikipedia:Featured topics/Maya Angelou in some shape or form in the blurb, per the above thread. BencherliteTalk 17:23, 28 May 2014 (UTC)

I'll weigh in here, since I'm the main editor of all the above articles. The main article, Maya Angelou, was TFA on her 85th birthday last year (April 4, 2013), so I think that was too recently to put it on the main page again. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was TFA on Angelou's 81st birthday in 2009, so if the community supports it, I think it'd be a good choice. After that, Mom & Me & Mom is actually her next-best known autobiography, because it's her most recent; plus, it encapsulates many of the themes in the previous six autobiographies and answers many questions that rise from the others. After that, any of the others would do. BTW, the themes article doesn't mention Mom & Me & Mom because there are no sources, at this point, that specifically refer to its themes and how it fits into the rest of her autobiographies. Finally, I agree that the FTs, either the one mentioned above or Wikipedia:Featured topics/Maya Angelou autobiographies, should be mentioned. Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 20:21, 28 May 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for stopping by, Figureskatingfan. When we have so many Angelou FAs to choose from - well done you! - I don't think we need to break the rule about not repeating TFAs. The main article is bold-linked as a "full blurb" at ITN at the moment anyway (I merely suggested it for the "recent deaths" section but others went further) which is another reason not to use it as a repeat TFA. M&M&M has the advantage of course of being the most recent one to pass FAC, so I'll look to schedule that. Christine, do you have any thoughts about timing of TFA? BencherliteTalk 20:26, 28 May 2014 (UTC)
You're welcome, and thanks for the kind words. I wonder if we should wait until the day of Angelou's funeral, which I don't believe that been announced yet. Isn't that customary in this kind of situation? Plus, if we went with the main article, I'd want to wait until all the editing that's been going on dies down (62 so far today, with over 458,000 views--yikes!), and on the other articles, which I haven't looked at yet. Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 20:48, 28 May 2014 (UTC)
OK, you and I are thinking along the same lines - I'll look to schedule M&M&M for the day of her funeral, which gives you a chance to breathe again and check everything over! (This is why most of my articles relate to small uninteresting churches - no drama...) BencherliteTalk 21:00, 28 May 2014 (UTC)
I agree. Usually, the articles I edit are drama-less! I suppose that with Dr. Angelou's advanced age, this kind of thing was inevitable. I regret that I never got to meet her. Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 21:45, 28 May 2014 (UTC)

I know this is a short notice, but would you guys be for or agains linking a TFT (Wikipedia:Featured topics/Maya Angelou autobiographies)? Nergaal (talk) 08:00, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

As I said before, I would also propose to link to Wikipedia:Featured topics/Maya Angelou in some shape or form in the blurb, per the above thread. BencherliteTalk 17:23, 28 May 2014 (UTC). Does that help? BencherliteTalk 08:34, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

You might have seen that there will be a closed memorial at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem Saturday morning. Perhaps that might be the day for an Angelou TFA? I've hesitated asking that question because there will be all kinds of memorials in the coming weeks, including a public one, perhaps. But maybe not. Would it be appropriate to tentatively plan for one, and if there's news of a more public (televised) memorial, that we postpone it? If not, I'm fine with Saturday (6/7). I also wonder if instead of using the above suggestions, that we use All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes, which surprisingly enough, is the most applicable of her books to what's going on in the world around us today. Plus, it's the autobiography that's been mentioned the most, after Caged Bird, in the press this week. It also happens to be my personal favorite, after Caged Bird. Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 03:45, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

Yes, I'd spotted that something looked as though it was going to be happening on Saturday. However, the TFA chosen for that day (Wells Cathedral) was picked because the new Bishop of Bath and Wells is enthroned in the cathedral on that day, so I'm reluctant to oust it in favour of an Angelou TFA. Would you mind if we waited for another opportunity? If we don't get news of another Angelou memorial soon, I'll just put All God's Children into the queue for a date at random. BencherliteTalk 06:39, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
Okay, I'm fine with that. I'll continue to keep my eyes open for such. Thanks. Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 16:46, 4 June 2014 (UTC)