Dispatches: April Fools mainpage featured article
It's almost that time of year. In a tradition that dates back to medieval times, on April 1 we celebrate April Fools' Day. Some media outlets follow suit by printing hoax articles – probably the best known of which was the BBC's spaghetti tree hoax.
We are again approaching April Fools. In past years at Wikipedia, there has been quite a debate as to how to handle April Fools. Raul654 first proposed an April Fools' Day featured article 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. No article was written and featured in time for April Fools' Day 2005; instead, the main page was filled with hoaxes: Bishonen's infamous European toilet paper holder article as the FA, and Britannica was taking over Wikimedia in the news. A number of complaints followed, such as on wikien-l where Mav and Danny complained that as a site with credibility issues, we were doing ourselves a disservice.
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. Because of the success, and the fact that we really did have many people confused, this is the path we are going to follow in future years, if we have articles that allow it.
Ideas for an article that could be brought to featured status in time for April 1, 2008 can be culled from unusual articles, which offers a potential list including Ima Hogg, Mozart's Leck mich im Arsch (translated as "Kiss my ass"; literally: "Lick me in the ass"), Casu marzu and Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116.
Did you know?
In 2006 and 2007, the main page Did you know? section ran hooks for pages that were odd enough to seem like April Fools' jokes, but were actually referenced articles. In order to select these gems, the usual requirement for new material was waived. Selected articles included:
- 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.