Wikipedia:FAQ/Main Page

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Main Page FAQ

This is a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the Main Page of Wikipedia. Check out Wikipedia:FAQ/Technical for general technical questions and answers.


Why am I not able to edit the Main Page?[edit]

The Main Page and its templates are permanently protected and may only be edited by administrators. Images are protected for the period of time that they are on the Main Page. This cascading protection was implemented as a result of repeated vandalism of the Main Page and keeps our welcome mat clean. If you see a problem, please mention it at Wikipedia:Main Page/Errors so an administrator can fix it. However, the alternative versions of the Main Page are not protected.

How do I get something fixed on the Main Page?[edit]

If the error is straightforward, such as a misspelling or obvious error of fact, post it to Wikipedia:Main Page/Errors and an administrator will fix it. For more complicated discussion, such as about image choice or topical coverage, post to Talk:Main Page. If you wish to start an in-depth discussion particular to a specific section of the Main Page, it may be more appropriate to bring it to the relevant discussion page, such as Template talk:In the news. Please centralize discussion in one location.

The main page usually defers to the supporting articles when there is disagreement, so it is best to achieve consensus and make any necessary changes there first.

Isn't a problem on the Main Page more pressing? Why does the Main Page defer to articles so I need to change the article first?[edit]

The error page is not designed for lengthy discussion. Although it is possible to initiate such discussion at Talk:Main Page, if there is any possibility of dispute and the problem is just carried over from the article, it is better to hold the discussion at the article talk page, which is a far more relevant venue and is more likely to be watched by editors familiar with the article. In the event of a misleading error, changing it in the template may seem to be more immediately pressing since many people will see it on the Main Page. However, if nothing is done about the article, the problem easily could remain for a long time afterwards and be seen by even more readers. Changing the problem in the article does not usually require the assistance of an administrator and there is no guarantee that anyone will notice the problem in the article or notice the change on the Main Page. Finally, since the presence of an error on the Main Page becomes a moot point once the article no longer is on the Main Page, any error report is removed regardless of whether it was resolved. The error page is not archived and any discussion there is effectively lost. And even if it were archived or the discussion held in Talk:Main Page, which is archived, this is not directly connected to the article. This means that there is little likelihood that anyone trying to find discussions about an issue in the article will come across any relevant discussions which occurred at T:MP or T:MP/E.

How are templates used on the Main Page?[edit]

Almost all of the text seen on the Main page is from transcluded templates, which are also protected. The sections that are regularly updated are: Today's featured article, Selected anniversaries, In the news, Did you know, Today's articles for improvement, Picture of the day, Wikipedia in other languages and Interwikis. The Main Page also contains one automatically updating number, {{NUMBEROFARTICLES}} (currently 5,018,253). There is normally little reason for administrators to edit the Main Page directly.

The Main Page history only shows changes in how the Main Page includes several sections, not changes in the sections themselves. History for each section is stored separately. Here are "In the news" history, "Did you know" history, other language history, and interwiki history. Histories for the other sections are further confused by being stored separately for each date.

When is the Main Page updated? Why do you have the wrong date in "On this day"?[edit]

As an international community, Wikipedia is organized along Coordinated Universal Time, which roughly corresponds to Western European Time without daylight savings. Users in New Zealand thus have their "Wikipedia midnight" at local noon.

Why is the Main Page not updating?[edit]

I think that the articles listed on the Main Page are awful and much more important articles should be there instead. Isn't the Main Page biased towards certain topics? What can be done about it?[edit]

It is true that Wikipedia has a systemic bias towards topics of interest to computer-literate males from industrialized anglophone countries, resulting from a skew towards this demographic in its editor base. The Main Page reflects the bias of Wikipedia as a whole, though people tend to overlook biases that they share.

It is important to remember that the selected articles (bold items) on the Main Page are chosen based more on their quality, not on how much their subjects are important or significant.

As a result, various featured articles that have appeared on the Main Page have been criticized for being trivial, geeky, obscure, commercial, or political. The In the news, On this day, and Did you know sections have been criticized for bias toward a particular subject or region of the world.

Specific examples of groups that have periodically accused the Main Page of blatant bias include Americans who are amazed by the continuous stream of new articles on cricket, non-Americans who are amazed at the claim that baseball is an international sport, non-Europeans who are amazed that the Eurovision Song Contest is listed on In the news every year, non-geeks who are amazed at the frequency of articles on computer and video games, "encyclopedia conservatives" who are amazed at the number of articles on pop culture, and "encyclopedia radicals" who are amazed at the number of articles on frightfully dull people and events from long ago. The variety of accusations of bias that have been made on Talk:Main Page is nearly endless.

Each Main Page template attempts to minimize the effects of bias, but each template is largely autonomous in operation and depends strongly on what topics editors contribute to at a given time:

  • For the Main Page featured article, Wikipedia:Featured article criteria states that to achieve featured article status, an article needs to be "well written, comprehensive, factually accurate, neutral, and stable." It is possible for an article to meet these standards without appealing to many, or even most, readers and that article may be chosen for the main page even if there are other featured articles that seem more important. The most effective way to get more featured articles that you find interesting is to help write them. Constructive comments and editing assistance at Wikipedia:Peer review and Wikipedia:Featured article candidates are always appreciated.
  • Wikipedia:In the news section on the Main Page lists the criteria for articles to be included on "In the news" (ITN). It is important to remember that Wikipedia is not a news report. A current event needs to have international importance, or at least interest, to warrant updating the corresponding article. Relatively small news items should not be put into articles, and thus those type of news items should not be displayed on the Main Page. Feedback is always welcome at Wikipedia:In the news/Candidates on which items should be listed. All items are listed chronologically and given the timely nature of "In the news" some items may never be listed if the articles are not sufficiently updated in time. Remember that we are all volunteers!
  • For the "On this day" section, the criteria on Wikipedia:Selected anniversaries (SA) states that "the selected article (bold item) must not be a stub and preferably it should be a relatively complete and well-formatted article. In other words, it should be a good example of Wikipedia content." Although there might have been a number of historically significant events that happened on a specific date, the articles on these subjects do not meet this basic standard. Helping to improve these articles is always appreciated. Anniversaries of births and deaths of individuals are only considered for big round numbers: the 249th anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birth was not mentioned, while there was general agreement for a placement on the 250th anniversary. Also, in some cases an item will be chosen for the featured article or featured picture because it relates to an event that happened on that day with specific mention of that event. In such cases, to improve variety the event will not be listed in the "On this day" section. Finally remember that feedback on events that should be listed is always welcome, check out Wikipedia:Selected anniversaries for more details on how to help.
  • As stated on Wikipedia:Did you know, eligible articles listed on "Did you know" (DYK) section may only be up to 7 days old, or significantly expanded in the last 7 days. However, it normally works on a 'first nominated-first listed' basis. For information on how to start and expand an article, see Wikipedia:Article development.
  • Per Wikipedia:Today's articles for improvement, Stub-Class, Start-Class and C-Class articles are ideal for nomination, as they often have potential for improvement.
  • For the featured picture of the day, Wikipedia:Featured picture criteria states that, among others, featured pictures must be of a high technical standard and high resolution, have a free content license, and add value to a relevant article. Again, it is possible for a picture to meet these standards without appealing to many, or even most, people and these are usually displayed on the main page in a "'first promoted-first listed' manner. Among the effective ways to get more featured pictures that you find interesting is to photograph them yourself, find existing images, and learning how to improve image quality. Constructive comments and editing assistance at Wikipedia:Featured picture candidates are always appreciated.

Still, because each template is largely autonomous in operation, it inevitably invites bias, even though the bias is unnoticed most of the time. In cases where, for example, a prolific editor nominates four new articles on train lines in India, the organizers of the DYK template will try to create a mixed template by pulling in newer submissions. However, there have been cases where over half of the templates include items relating to outer space or New Zealand.

If you would like to further help mitigate the systemic bias in Wikipedia, see Wikipedia:WikiProject Countering systemic bias.

Why is [Insert event here] not posted on "On this day", an event that is "more important and significant" than all the others that are currently listed?[edit]

As stated in the previous section, the content on the Main Page is chosen based more on how well they are written, not based on how much their subjects are important or significant. There is generally only room on the Main Page to list about 5 events at a time so not everything can be posted. It is easier for admins to select a well-written, cited, verifiable article over a poor one versus trying to determine objectively how much a subject is important or significant. Remember: events that are most significant to you or your place of residence may in fact be regarded as insignificant in other parts of the world.

The criteria on Wikipedia:Selected anniversaries also list other factors that determine what gets posted, such as the array of topics should be varied and not exhibit, just for example, tech-centrism or the belief that the world stops at the edge of the Anglosphere.

Also, to maintain some variety of topics on the Main Page as a whole, an event is not posted if it is also mentioned in either the "Today's featured article" or "Today's featured picture" section. These one-paragraph sections generally provide far more significant detail than the "On this day" bullet list.

Why are the images on "In the news" and "On this day" not aligned next to each relevant entry?[edit]

French Wikipedia sometimes aligns photos with their associated entry.

The Main Page templates are also transcluded on other pages. For example, In the news also appears on Current events and the old PDA version of the Main Page. There are also a number of other alternatives to the Main Page that users may use. Changing the placement of the images may interfere with the formatting on those other pages.

Keep in mind that the events on both of those Main Page sections are listed in chronological order ("In the news" displays the most recent events first, while "On this day" lists the oldest first), and there might not always be a suitable image for each entry listed.

There have been several proposals to highlight the relevant article entry (see one archived discussion from 2006 and another also in 2006) or to use a caption (example discussion). Bolding the pictured instead of italics was attempted but received complaints it was too distracting. The current guideline is to align the image near the top of each template and add a caption underneath it.

Why is it called "Today's featured picture" when videos are occasionally posted?[edit]

Wikipedia's featured picture process also accepts video and moving pictures, which are by definition a sequence of still pictures representing scenes in motion.

How can I get something fixed before it appears on the Main Page?[edit]

Main Page toolbox
November 26
November 27, 2015
November 28
POTD Main Page v.
POTD regular v.
POTD Main Page v.
POTD regular v.
POTD Main Page v.
POTD regular v.
  TFL (Friday)  
In the news: candidates · discussion · admin instructions
Did you know: nominations · discussion · queue
Protected main page images
Protected pages associated with Main Page articles
Error reports · General discussions · FAQ · Help · Sandbox
Main Page history · Main Page alternatives · April Fool's
It is now 00:51 UTC
Purge the Main Page
Purge this page
Sometimes items appearing on the Main Page require some copyediting. However, as there is a process to get much of the content to the Main Page, users have the opportunity to spot issues before they appear for the world to see. A page with those sections planned in advance is available at Main Page/Tomorrow. The various sections are:
  • Main page featured articles are normally scheduled at least a week in advance. See the Wikipedia:Today's featured article/2015 navigation bar for upcoming and past blurbs.
  • Template talk:Did you know contains the suggested blurbs that appear on DYK and users are free to comment on any particular item. Alterations can be made by anyone at Template:Did you know/Preparation area 1, where the upcoming templates are prepared. Last minute changes can be made by administrators at the queues.
  • Similarly, Wikipedia:Picture of the day has an archive section that actually schedules entries and their accompanying text ahead of when they appear on the Main Page. Due to technical reasons, the "normal" POTD template and the POTD "protected" template that appears on the Main Page are different. Changes to the normal template will not affect the Main Page template, and vice versa, but the protected version usually is not created until a few days before its appearance on the Main Page.
  • Because On this day is repeated annually with little change, you can see the anticipated entry for any particular day in the archives of Wikipedia:Selected anniversaries. See the {{SelectedAnnivBar}} navigation bar for the list of months. If you want to see the "preset options" that an admin may consider, when looking at the source code for a particular day (for example January 1) items that might prospectively be, but are not currently, used are made invisible to viewers by use of the <!-- TEXT --> markup code.
  • A list of upcoming articles for the Today's articles for improvement section is posted on holding area page.
  • Due to their nature, current events blurbs cannot be scheduled ahead of time. Nevertheless, Wikipedia:In the news section on the Main Page/Candidates has some utility if you wish to check suggestions.

In what order are the other Wikipedias displayed? Where's my language?[edit]

The Wikipedia languages section and standard interwiki list on the main page only lists Wikipedias qualifying for inclusion at Template:Wikipedia languages. The current minimum article count is 50,000, with Wikipedias determined to consist primarily of stubs and placeholders omitted. There are simply too many others to list on the main page. The complete list displays a list of all active Wikipedias in order of number of articles, along with the depth.

The Wikipedias listed on the main page are alphabetized according to their native language names, not according to the languages' English names or the domain names used. This order was deemed the most useful to speakers of these languages (the readers most likely to seek the links).

Is there some way to make the Main Page look better?[edit]

There are periodic attempts to revamp the look of the Main Page. A community effort that began in December 2004 to redesign the Main Page and key pages linked from it, was implemented in March 2006 after several months of discussion and input from the community organized by the Usability WikiProject.

The next major attempt to redesign the Main Page began in July 2008. A number of proposals were submitted, but after several months neither one of them attained consensus within the Wikipedia community.

A major discussion about the layout of the Main Page occurred in mid-2011. There was some agreement by the Wikipedia community that the Main Page needed to be modified at least to some degree, but the community did not attain consensus on the specific changes. Other redesign attempts are listed at Wikipedia:Main page redesign proposals.

For a look at the Main Page on 28 February 2001, see the Internet Wayback Machine archive. For a range of choices, ranging from those past formats to designs created by users, see Wikipedia:Main Page alternatives.

For the current page design see the 2015 Main Page redesign.

Why doesn't the cursor appear in the search box, like with Google?[edit]

This feature allowing users to start typing a search without clicking on the search box was previously requested at Bugzilla and the decision was against implementation. See Bug 1864: Cursor should be placed in the search box for the report and discussion. The basic issue is that many readers expect to be able to scroll through the Main Page using arrow keys. However, if the cursor is in the search box, using the arrow keys will instead pop-up autotext in the search field. This is not an issue with Google search because there is no need to scroll.

Users with registered accounts can enable an automatic focus on the Main Page search field as a Gadget in their preferences, which can be enabled simply by marking it checked.

Users who are not logged in have several options:

Why is the word "free" mistranslated in the names of other language editions?[edit]

The Free Encyclopedia slogan is sometimes the cause of confusion because there are two distinct meanings to the word "free". One relates to "no cost" and the other is to "freedom". See Gratis versus Libre for more. Wikipedia is free to use without cost, but it is also free in the sense of having few restrictions on what may be modified or replicated elsewhere. The latter meaning is mandated by the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License, under which contributions site-wide are submitted. This meaning is thus more fundamental to the character of Wikipedia, so (for example) the Spanish-language Wikipedia has the slogan La enciclopedia libre, rather than La enciclopedia gratuita. Other languages have slightly different approaches. The Czech version has "Otevřená encyklopedie", meaning "the Open encyclopedia", while Japanese uses the English loanword フリー ("free"), avoiding using a native word that would force it to specify which meaning of free is meant.

Is there an RSS feed?[edit]

There are externally hosted feeds of today's featured article and featured picture, along with some other Wikipedia pages. See Wikipedia:Syndication.

Why is Main Page in the main namespace?[edit]

It has been argued that Main Page should be at Wikipedia:Main Page, Portal:Main Page or some other similar location. The current location, being in the main namespace, might be expected to be a redirect to the article Home page. Main Page was created in the default namespace before pages were divided into "project", "portal" and "main", and has continued there mainly due to historical inertia. Several proposals in early 2007 to move the page failed due to rejection or lack of consensus. See the discussions in archives 67 (April 2006), 87 (January 2007), 89 (January 2007), 90 (February 2007), 114 (December 2007), 115 (December 2007), 123 (May 2008), 125 (July 2008), 128 (October 2008), 129 (October 2008) and 143 (August 2009).

The other major project-related page in the main namespace is the redirect Transwiki, which must exist for the procedure to move unencyclopedic articles to Wikimedia Foundation sister projects.

Why is a Main Page section missing an illustrative image?[edit]

The Main Page image copyright rules require that only freely licensed images be used on the Main Page—this excludes copyrighted images, such as album covers or TV screenshots. Since freely licensed images that are relevant to the featured article or other sections are not always available, the section will sometimes simply lack an illustration.

More specifically: in articles, non-free images can be displayed for the purpose of illustrating the subject of the article when it meets certain established non-free content criteria, which are an extension of the U.S. copyright doctrine of fair use. We can't claim fair use for images that are used for purposes other than illustrating articles, and the Main Page is not an article.

In the early years of Wikipedia, fair use was allowed on the Main Page. Since early 2007 or so, User:Jimbo Wales has made clear that he feels fair use images are not appropriate for the Main Page. Other critics argue that Jimbo's reasoning is flawed and negatively affects the quality of the encyclopedia, but attempts to add fair use images to the Main Page have been beaten back. See previous discussion for some of the flavor of the arguments.

Why aren't pages linked from the Main Page protected to stop vandalism?[edit]

They are. For years, we had a guideline not to protect the articles, but a Request for Comment in 2011 gained consensus to treat Today's Featured Article, and the rest of the content linked from Main Page content, as any other article. However, we still don't automatically protect any of it against vandalism.

Shouldn't the "Wikipedia languages" section be categorized differently?[edit]

Possibly. The categorization scheme at {{Wikipedia languages}} is the topic of periodic debate.

When first created in February 2004 the template listed all of the foreign language Wikipedias. Over time a lower bound was set to limit the number of items and much discussion has revolved around the internal structure of the template, e.g. what numbers to use as cut-offs. Other suggested categorization schemes include a tag cloud or making two sections, one for the largest wikis and one for the wikis with the most number of speakers, regardless of the size of the wiki, to counter systemic bias.

The template structure in periods of low dispute is a reflection of an equilibrium of editor opinion between those who feel that the section should include as many languages as possible, acknowledging as many benchmarks as possible, to those who feel that it should be as simple and succinct as possible. Given that Wikipedias in other language are continually progressing towards new benchmarks, this balance also continually shifts towards new tipping points, at which time editors determine the new structure. If you wish to propose a change, an opinion informed by older discussion at Template talk:Wikipedia languages and the archives of Talk:Main Page (a web search may be helpful) is likely to carry more weight.

How are interwiki links in the left-hand column chosen?[edit]

{{Main Page interwikis}} includes only the interwiki links to languages with the most number of articles. The cutoff number is identical to the minimum cutoff used in {{Wikipedia languages}}. This is the newest template on the Main Page, consensus for its inclusion having been reached in October 2006. (See discussion.)

How do you put the "Complete list" link at the end of the interwikis?[edit]

The link to the Meta list of Wikipedias is a neat little JavaScript hack in MediaWiki:Common.js. You can search for "complete list" to see the code there.

The code is:

/** Main Page layout fixes *********************************************************
 *  Description: Adds an additional link to the complete list of languages available.
 *  Maintainers: [[User:AzaToth]], [[User:R. Koot]], [[User:Alex Smotrov]]
if ( mw.config.get( 'wgPageName' ) === 'Main_Page' || mw.config.get( 'wgPageName' ) === 'Talk:Main_Page' ) {
    $( document ).ready( function () {
        mw.util.addPortletLink( 'p-lang', '//',
            'Complete list', 'interwiki-completelist', 'Complete list of Wikipedias' );
    } );

How do you remove the title of the Main Page?[edit]

This is controlled by MediaWiki:Vector.css. Look for "Don't display some stuff on the main page". Note that "h1.firstHeading" hides the title and other parts of the script hide links when you are redirected to the page among others.

The code is:

/* Don't display some stuff on the main page */ #deleteconfirm, #t-cite, #footer-info-lastmod, #siteSub, #contentSub, h1.firstHeading {
    display: none !important;

Why are there so many backups of the Main Page?[edit]

In response to past incidents of compromised administrator accounts, the Main Page is also transcluded on five (formerly ten) sub-pages with cascading protection. This gives the page additional protection as discussed at Talk:Main Page/Archive 99#Cascading protection backup subpages and Talk:Main Page/Archive 102#Main page/1-10.

What about the first Main Page, at[edit]

The start page for all of the projects at is handled at Meta. The actual code for that page is at template, which has an associated discussion page. English Wikipedia has no control over that page so please direct any questions or comments to Meta.

How do I see the history of what has appeared on the Main Page?[edit]

Various ways of seeing the Main Page as it appeared over time, including editing history, replicas, page captures, and archives of Today's featured article, Selected anniversaries, In the news, Did you know, Picture of the day, are at Wikipedia:Main Page history.

See also[edit]