Wikipedia:FAQ/Main Page

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Main Page FAQ

This is a list of frequently asked questions about the Main Page of the English Wikipedia. Check out Wikipedia:FAQ/Technical for general technical questions and answers.

Why am I not able to edit the Main Page?

The Main Page and its associated templates are permanently protected and may only be edited by administrators. Images are protected during the period of time for which 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 spot a problem with content, please mention it at Wikipedia:Main Page/Errors so an administrator can fix it. However, alternative versions of the Main Page are not protected.

How do I get something fixed on the Main Page?

If the error is straightforward, such as a misspelling or an obvious error of fact, please place a message at Wikipedia:Main Page/Errors and an administrator will fix it. For more complicated discussions, such as about image choice or topical coverage, or issues unrelated to specific content, place a message at Talk:Main Page#General discussion. 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.

Content on the Main Page usually defers to the supporting featured articles in case of 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?

The Main Page errors page (WP:ERRORS) is not designed for overly lengthy discussion. Although it is possible to initiate such discussion at the "General discussion" section of Talk:Main Page, if there is any possibility of dispute and the problem is just carried over from the article, it is usually better to hold the discussion at the article talk page, which is a far more relevant venue and 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 reports are removed regardless of whether it was resolved. As the errors page is not archived, any discussion there is only retrievable by trawling through the page history. Even if it were archived, or the discussion held in Talk:Main Page (which is archived), this would not be 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 that might have occurred there.

How are templates used on the Main Page?

Almost all text seen on the Main Page is from transcluded templates, which are also protected. The content sections that are regularly updated are "Today's featured article", "In the news", "Did you know", "On this day" (selected anniversaries), "Today's featured list" (on Mondays and Fridays) and the picture of the day. There are also templates for other areas of Wikipedia, Wikipedia's sister projects, Wikipedia languages and Main Page interwikis, which may occasionally be updated. The Main Page also contains one automatically updating variable (known as a magic word), {{NUMBEROFARTICLES}} (currently 6,416,558). There is normally little reason for administrators to edit the Main Page directly.

The page history of the Main Page only shows how the overall structure and layout of the page has changed, and not changes in the content sections themselves. The histories for each section are stored separately:

Histories for the other content sections ("Today's featured article", "On this day", "Today's featured list" and the picture of the day) are further confused by being stored separately for each date, or calendar date in the case of "On this day".

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

As an international community, Wikipedia uses Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which roughly corresponds to Western European Time without daylight savings. Users on New Zealand Standard Time thus have their "Wikipedia midnight" at local noon. Content on the Main Page is generally automatically updated at UTC midnight. As a result, the calendar date displayed on the Main Page in "On this day" might not correspond to the current date in your local time zone.

Why is the Main Page not updating?

The servers may still have the previous day's version of the Main Page cached, so try [purging the server cache]. If purging does not seem to work, you may need to bypass your browser's cache.

I think that the articles chosen for 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?

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

It is important to remember that items selected for the Main Page (boldfaced links) are predominantly chosen based on article quality, not on how important or significant their subjects are.

As a result, various featured articles that have appeared on the Main Page have occasionally been criticized for being trivial, geeky, obscure, commercial, or political. "In the news", "Did you know" and "On this day" 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 popular 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 Wikipedia:Main Page/Errors or 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 "Today's featured article", Wikipedia:Featured article criteria states that an article needs to be "well written, comprehensive, factually accurate, neutral, and stable" to attain the status of a featured article. It is possible for an article to meet these standards without appealing to many readers; that article may be chosen for the Main Page even if there are other featured articles that might 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 lists the criteria for articles to be included on "In the news". It is important to remember that Wikipedia is not a newspaper. A current event needs to have international importance, or at least interest, to warrant an article being written about it. Relatively small news items should not be put into articles, and those type of news items should thus not be displayed on the Main Page. Discussions are held at Wikipedia:In the news/Candidates to determine which items should be listed, with both the importance of the event and the quality of the associated articles (including those for recent deaths) being evaluated. 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 "On this day", the criteria at Wikipedia:Selected anniversaries states: "The selected article (boldfaced item) must not be a stub and must be a relatively complete and well-formatted article ... In other words, it should be a good example of Wikipedia content". Although there might be a number of historically significant events that happened on a specific date, the articles on these subjects might 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 mentionedm 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 the picture of the day 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 at Wikipedia:Did you know, articles eligible for nomination for the "Did you know" may only be up to seven days old, significantly expanded in the last seven days or good articles that have been recently promoted. However, reviewing and promotion take time and so it can be several weeks before an accepted nomination is included in a set to appear on the Main Page. For information on how to start and expand an article, see Wikipedia:Article development.
  • For the 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 people. Featured pictures 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 section 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 "Did you know" section will try to create a mixed template by pulling in newer submissions. However, there have been cases where more than half of the templates coincidentally include items relating to outer space or New Zealand, for example. There may occasionally be cross-section cooperation, such as on July 20, 2019, when most of the Main Page was dedicated to space-related content in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

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

Why is [insert event here] not included in "On this day", an event that is "more important and significant" than those currently listed?

As stated in the previous section, Main Page content is largely chosen based on how well the articles are written, not on the notability of certain subjects. There is generally only room on the Main Page to list about four or five events at a time in "On this day", so not everything can be posted. It is easier for administrators to select a well-written, thoroughly cited, verifiable article over a poor one over trying to determine objectively how much a subject is regarded as being important or significant. Remember: events that are most significant to you or your context may not be regarded as significantly in other parts of the world.

The criteria listed at Wikipedia:Selected anniversaries also list other factors that determine what gets posted, such as the principle that the array of topics and biographies selected should be varied, and not exhibit (for instance) tech-centrism or the notion that the world stops at the edge of the English-speaking world.

Also, to maintain some variety of topics on the Main Page as a whole, an event might not included if it is also featured in other sections, such as "Today's featured article". These one-paragraph sections can provide much more detail than a brief bulleted item in "On this day".

Why are the images for "In the news" and "On this day" not aligned next to each relevant entry?

The French Wikipedia sometimes aligns photos with their associated entry.

The Main Page's 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.

Bear in mind that included events in 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 word "(pictured)" instead of using italics was attempted, but received complaints that it was too distracting. The current guideline is to align the image near the top of each template and add an appropriate caption underneath it.

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

Wikipedia's featured-picture process also accepts videos, moving pictures and animations, which are by definition a sequence of still pictures representing scenes in motion. These media files are just as eligible to be selected to be the picture of the day.

How can I get something fixed before it appears on the Main 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. Pages with those sections planned in advance are available at Wikipedia:Main Page/Tomorrow and Wikipedia:Main Page/Day after tomorrow, and a week's worth of upcoming content is available at Wikipedia:Main Page queue.
  • Featured articles are normally scheduled for the Main Page at least a week in advance. See the Wikipedia:Today's featured article/2021 navigation bar for upcoming and past blurbs.
  • Template talk:Did you know contains articles and hooks nominated to appear in "Did you know", and users are free to comment on any particular item. Alterations can be made by anyone at one of the preparation areas, where the upcoming templates are prepared. Last-minute changes can be made by administrators at the queues.
  • Similarly, Wikipedia:Picture of the day/Archive displays various entries and their accompanying blurbs, including those scheduled to appear on the Main Page. Due to technical reasons, a "protected version" of each POTD selection is created; this protected template is the one that is actually transcluded onto the Main Page. Changes to the "regular" POTD page will not affect the Main Page version, and vice versa, but the protected version usually is not created until two days before its appearance on the Main Page.
  • Because "On this day" is repeated annually with little change to the blurbs for available events, you can see the anticipated entry for any particular calendar day in the subpages of Wikipedia:Selected anniversaries (e.g. Wikipedia:Selected anniversaries/December 1). 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 HTML comment code (e.g. <!-- hidden text -->).
  • Due to their nature, blurbs for "In the news" cannot be scheduled ahead of time. Nevertheless, Wikipedia:In the news/Candidates has some utility if you wish to check suggestions.

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

The "Wikipedia languages" section and the standard interwiki list on the Main Page only lists Wikipedias qualifying for inclusion. The current minimum article count is 50,000, omitting projects determined to consist primarily of stubs and placeholders (such as the Cebuano Wikipedia, with most of its nearly 6,000,000 articles being stubs created by a single bot). There are simply too many others to list on the main page. The complete list of Wikipedias displays a list of all active projects in order of the number of articles, along with a measure of its "depth". Discussion related to the list of Wikipedia languages should take place at Template talk:Wikipedia languages.

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

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

There have been periodic attempts to improve the design 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. No significant redesign proposal has been successful since then, although minor changes have been made.

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.

An outline of how the Main Page has changed can be found at Wikipedia:Main Page history, along with snapshots of how the Main Page has looked for almost every day since 2011. For a look at the Main Page (then titled "HomePage") on February 28, 2001, just a month and a half after the project's launch on January 15, see this capture at the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. Nostalgia Wikipedia exhibits how the Main Page used to look prior to its first major redesign. For an array of workable alternative layouts, ranging from past formats to designs created by other users, see Wikipedia:Main Page alternatives.

If you would like to change the Main Page yourself, it is always possible to request feedback from other editors on proposed changes, usually through discussion at Talk:Main Page, Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals), Wikipedia:Village pump (idea lab) or other pages. You can test changes in your user sandbox or another subpage.

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

This feature allowing users to start typing a search without clicking on the search box was previously requested at Bugzilla, with the decision being 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 the cursor to be automatically focused in the Main Page search bar as an optional gadget in their user preferences.

Users who are not logged in have several options:

  • Pressing Tab ↹, which will display an option to "Jump to search" within a few presses if the page has fully loaded
  • Bookmarking this link, which manually adds the gadget that registered users use
  • Using the system's keyboard shortcut to place the focus in the search box. This could be Alt+F, ⇧ Shift+Alt+F, ⇧ Shift+Esc+F or Ctrl+F, depending on your browser (see other Wikipedia keyboard shortcuts)
  • Using a different page to carry out dedicated searches, such as Special:Search, which has the cursor in the search box, or www.wikipedia.org, which has the cursor in the search box and should default to the English-language Wikipedia if that is the browser's preferred language
  • Adding Wikipedia to a web browser, if it has a search bar.
  • Readers using Firefox with Greasemonkey installed can click here to install a script that automatically focuses the search box on the English Wikipedia Main Page (view script source).

Why is the word "free" mistranslated in other languages?

Wikipedia's slogan, "The Free Encyclopedia", 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 further details. Wikipedia is free to use without cost to users, 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 Wikipedia has the slogan La enciclopedia libre, rather than La enciclopedia gratuita. Other languages have slightly different approaches. The Czech Wikipedia has Otevřená encyklopedie, meaning 'the open encyclopedia', while the Japanese Wikipedia uses the English loanword フリー (furī, 'free'), avoiding the use of a native word that would force it to specify which meaning of free is meant.

Is there an RSS feed?

There are externally hosted feeds of the featured article and the picture of the day, along with some other Wikipedia pages; please see Wikipedia:Syndication.

Why is the Main Page in the main (article) namespace?

It has been argued that the Main Page should be at Wikipedia:Main Page, Portal:Main Page, or some other location. Its current location, in the main (article) namespace, might be expected to be a redirect to the article Home page. The 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 also these archived discussions: 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).

Why is a Main Page section missing an illustrative image?

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 television 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 cannot 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 his reasoning is flawed and negatively affects the quality of the encyclopedia, but attempts to add fair use images to the Main Page have not had consensus. See this previous discussion for one such example.

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

They are. For years, we had a guideline not to protect the articles, but a request for comment in 2011 gained consensus to treat the featured article, and the rest of the content linked from the Main Page, as any other article. However, we still don't automatically protect any of it against vandalism. However, the featured article is generally protected against being moved by TFA Protector Bot.

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

Possibly. The categorization scheme at Template:Wikipedia languages is the topic of occasional debate.

When first created in February 2004, the template listed all foreign-language Wikipedias. Over time, a lower bound was introduced to limit the number of items, and much discussion has since revolved around the internal structure of the template, such as on what threshold to use as a cut-off. 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, please do so at Template talk:Wikipedia languages. An opinion informed by older discussion at that page and the archives of Talk:Main Page (a search may be helpful) is likely to carry more weight.

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

Template:Main Page interwikis includes only the interlanguage 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 the discussion).

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

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', '//meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/List_of_Wikipedias',
            'Complete list', 'interwiki-completelist', 'Complete list of Wikipedias' );
    } );
}

How do you remove the title of the Main Page?

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 */
body.page-Main_Page #deleteconfirm,
body.page-Main_Page #t-cite,
body.page-Main_Page #footer-info-lastmod,
body.action-view.page-Main_Page #siteSub,
body.action-view.page-Main_Page #contentSub,
body.action-view.page-Main_Page h1.firstHeading {
    display: none !important;
}

Why are there so many backups of the Main Page?

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 www.wikipedia.org?

The start page for all of the projects at www.wikipedia.org is handled at Meta. Please direct any questions and comments there, since the English Wikipedia has no control over that page.

See also