Dispatches: Changes at Featured lists
A Featured list (FL) exemplifies Wikipedia's very best work and features professional standards of writing and presentation. The process of determining which lists to feature is similar to the procedure for identifying featured articles: high-quality lists are nominated at Featured list candidates (FLC) and reviewed for compliance with the criteria before they can be promoted. Featured lists do not have a spot on the Main page, but there have been several proposals for a "Today's featured list".
Initiated in June 2005 by Filiocht, the process has since seen more than 700 promotions. List of North American birds was the first successful promotion on June 1, 2005, while List of gaps in Interstate Highways was the first to fail. The majority of the promotions during the first year were handled by ALoan and Jguk.
As of May 9, 2008, just under a third (231) of FLs are related to sports or recreation; 81 are media-related; 64 relate to politics and government; 62 are about geography and places; and 61 are music-related. At present there are no featured lists relating to language and linguistics, philosophy or psychology (see the bar graph below). This profile is significantly different from that of featured articles. While there is less participation than in the featured article candidates process, the number of FLC promotions per month is slowly increasing: in March and April, a total of 113 lists were promoted.
The featured list removal process has traditionally seen a lower level of participation: from 2005 to 2007, only 11 FLs were delisted. However, participation has recently increased, and 23 FLs have already been delisted this year.
The FL process has never had a designated manager. Instead, promotions and archivings have been handled by users from among the community of regular reviewers. Recent debate on the process has led to the creation of two FL directors. They play a similar role in the FL process as the featured article director Raul654 and his delegate SandyGeorgia in the FA process. The directors will be responsible for the overall management of the process and, inter alia, will determine consensus, interpret reviewers' declarations, and on that basis promote and archive nominations.
The recommendation to create the directorate received almost unanimous support. The nomination process began almost immediately. Initially, there were 11 candidates; as voting proceeded, five declined and two withdrew, leaving Dweller, Matthewedwards, Scorpion0422 and The Rambling Man as candidates. All four have extensive experience of the FLC process, and between them have successfully nominated 60 FLs. Two vote leaders—The Rambling Man and Scorpion0422—emerged early on. When the election was closed on May 8 by Raul654, Scorpion0422 had 29 support votes, The Rambling Man 27 supports and one oppose, Dweller 15 supports; and Matthewedwards six supports and one oppose vote. The Rambling Man and Scorpion0422 will serve as co-directors, and in the next week will make arrangements for two designated users to manage the featured list removal process.
FL criteria and instructions
Along with the creation of director roles, the FL criteria have come under scrutiny. Lack of reviewers and lack of clarity in the criteria were felt to be issues that needed to be addressed. Tony1 initiated the discussion and offered a draft for discussion. Comments on this have prompted several revisions, and work towards consensus continues. All editors with an interest in the FL process are invited to participate.
The instructions for the FL process have undergone interim changes to accommodate the creation of the directorate, drawing partly on the wording of the FAC instructions. The current rules require nominations to remain on the FLC page for ten days; to be promoted, they must have consensus for promotion with a minimum of three supports in addition to that of the nominator. These rules are safeguards against premature promotion or archival without an adequate review. Further changes to the instructions are likely to be debated over the coming weeks and months; a discussion has already begun on whether the fixed rules on minimum levels of support or the length of time a nomination remains open should be altered or left to director discretion.
A current issue: longer lists and comprehensiveness
The general list guidelines and FL criteria require that the lead section of a stand-alone list clearly define the entry criteria. While desirable, it is not always possible to select a suitable title that accurately summarises the scope of a list.
Authors of football (soccer) player lists have traditionally placed a threshold on their entry criteria, to keep the list to a manageable size and to focus the entries on those more likely to have a worthwhile Wikipedia article. Many football clubs have been around since the late 1800s, so a complete list of players would probably be enormous. In contrast, lists of ice-hockey players have traditionally been complete; this has generally not been a problem, because nominated clubs have not been particularly old. However, a recent nomination of the Chicago Blackhawks (founded in 1926) ran into problems when it attempted to adopt a football-list approach to restricting the entry criteria. The nomination failed three times (1, 2, 3), and several reviewers opposed promotion because of a lack of "completeness". The nominator (Teemu08) then nominated one of the football lists (Arsenal F.C.) for removal, to establish if we should "delist all sports-related lists that do not include all of the players that ever played for the club".
A long debate ensued with comments from more than 20 editors, but ultimately the attempt to demote the list at FLRC failed for lack of consensus. All of these lists meet the current FL criterion for "comprehensiveness", since they summarise the defined scope in their leads. However, many football lists are incomplete in relation to their title, and some editors felt that this rendered the title misleading. The advantages and disadvantages of complete or restricted lists were discussed, and two of the suggestions were to split a list into several sections (similar to the List of gay, lesbian or bisexual people lists, several of which are FLs), and to rename a list to reflect the defined scope.
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