Contentious FAC debate: a week in review
The featured article process was rocked this week by several lengthy and contentious discussions. Most were centered on a single issue: whether the positions of featured article (FA) director and delegate should be elected, or if the delegates should continue to be appointed by current FA director Raul654. In the midst of this, a shock came with the unrelated resignation of longtime FA delegate SandyGeorgia.
The discussions spawned from a lengthy post by SandyGeorgia, where she laid out points which she felt needed discussion based on feedback from the previous year. The section quickly became a heated debate between supporters and opposers of the FAC delegate selection system.
This should be understood with a consideration of the history behind the current FA setup. The term "featured articles" replaced "brilliant prose" in January 2004, and around this time Raul654 suggested that these articles should appear on the main page, which looked like this before. In late February 2004, this was done, and the now-standard main page setup of a featured article, in the news, did you know, and on this day were seen for the first time, though featured pictures were not yet included.
With the new system of selecting "featured" articles over "brilliant prose", Raul became the de facto FA director in mid-2004 and was officially recognized in August. Over the next several years, he was in charge of promoting or not promoting FA candidates (FACs) and scheduling articles for the main page (through Today's Featured Article). As traffic increased on the pages, he delegated some of the work at FAC to SandyGeorgia in November 2007, though there were some concerns over the process. Over time, Raul stepped further away from FA areas, adding new delegates in March 2009, November 2010, and current delegate Ucucha in August 2011, along with a TFA delegate in June 2011.
According to Raul, vacancies are filled in a consultative process between the FA director and the featured process (FAC, FAR, TFA) needing a delegate. Raul asks the current delegates for a short list of candidates, from which he picks an editor and gauges their interest. If they decline, he repeats the process with another editor on the list. When one accepts, Raul puts his choice on the process' talk page and assesses community reaction to his choice. So far, none of his choices have received sufficient opposition to warrant withdrawing their name. Delegate removals operate with a similar process, though the only reason serious enough to warrant removal in the last four years has been a lack of activity on-wiki.
Opposers of this system tend to believe that having one editor in such a position is at a disconnect with other processes that hold annual elections for leadership positions. Supporters counter that such a system insulates delegates from having to worry about an upcoming election when closing FACs.
A straw poll and RfC on the election issue were opened, but both were strongly opposed by editors with objections and concerns over the process, with a planned RfC drafted by editor Mike Christie (who managed the 2010 FAC RFC) coming in a few days. The first topic to be tackled in this RfC was left open to a straw poll, and it appears that leadership at FAC – whether it should be left to the current system or a voting procedure – will be examined first.
While these discussions were taking place, SandyGeorgia – a featured article delegate since 2007 and a reviewer for some time before that – tendered her resignation on 8 January, though she will continue to serve for thirty days or until another delegate is appointed to ease the transition. Before becoming a delegate, Sandy was a frequent editor of medical articles; with increasing problems of ensuring accuracy within this topic, along with POV issues in her other topic of choice, Venezuela-related articles, she believed it was time to resign to devote her editing to improving these areas.
Part of Titchwell Marsh, the subject of a new featured article
A recognition drawing of the German battleship Tirpitz
, the subject of a new featured article
A Boeing 767; the model is the subject of a new featured article.
A new featured picture of Salman Khurshid, Cabinet Minister of the Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Minority Affairs of India
A new featured picture of a Great Crested Grebe
Eight featured articles were promoted this week.
- Mathew Charles Lamb (nom) by Cliftonian. Lamb, born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on 5 January 1948, was arrested in June 1966 for the murder of two people and the wounding of another two. Found legally insane by the court, Lamb was sentenced to indefinite internment at a mental hospital but was released in 1973. Later that year he joined the Rhodesian Security Forces. He died from friendly fire on 7 November 1976 and was given a "hero's funeral" in Salisbury, with his ashes returned to Windsor.
- Typhoon Gay (1992) (nom) by Hurricanehink. In the succinct words of the nominator, "A gay typhoon blew saltwater to turn plants brown, curiously ignoring gymnosperms". The Signpost notes that there have been four Gay blows, with the new featured article the most recent.
- Nicky Barr (nom) by Ian Rose. Nicky Barr was born on 10 December 1915 in Wellington, New Zealand, but moved to Australia in 1921. In 1939 he joined the Wallabies, the Australian national rugby team. However, after failing to play against the United Kingdom due to the outbreak of World War II, on 4 March 1940 he joined the Australian air force. As a pilot, he was posted to North Africa with No. 3 Squadron, eventually taking lead in May 1942; shortly afterwards, he was shot down and brought to Italy. He escaped, was repatriated to England, and helped with the invasion of Normandy. He died on 12 June 2006.
- Titchwell Marsh (nom) by Jimfbleak. Titchwell Marsh (portion above), in Norfolk, England, between the villages of Titchwell and Thornham, is a nature reserve owned and managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Covering 171 hectares (423 acres), the marsh includes reed beds, salt marshes, a freshwater lagoon and a sandy beach, and is an important breeding site for some scarce birds. Artefacts found in the marsh date back to the Upper Paleolithic, and there are some abandoned military constructions scattered throughout it.
- German battleship Tirpitz (nom) by Parsecboy. The Tirpitz (above) was the second of two Bismarck-class battleships built by the German navy during World War II. It was laid in November 1936 and completed in February 1941. Immediately commissioned, the Tirpitz initially served as the centrepiece of the Baltic Fleet, later to be sent to Norway to serve as a fleet in being. The ship used its guns in anger the first time in September 1943, bombarding allied positions at Spitzbergen. After attacks by mini submarines and several air raids, the Tirpitz was sunk on 12 November 1944.
- HMS New Zealand (1911) (nom) by Sturmvogel 66. HMS New Zealand was launched in 1911 and given to Britain as a gift by the government of New Zealand. One of three Indefatigable-class battlecruisers, the ship was commissioned in 1912 and spent 10 months on a tour of the British Dominions. Back in British waters by the start of World War I, New Zealand went on to participate in all three of the major North Sea battles of World War I and received no casualties. After the end of the war and another world tour, the ship was scrapped in 1922.
- Boeing 767 (nom) by SynergyStar. The Boeing 767 (example above) is a mid-size, wide-body twin-engine jet airliner built by the transnational company Boeing Commercial Airplanes. The plane, with a range of 3,850–6,385 nautical miles (7,130–11,825 km) and a capacity of 181–375 persons depending on variant, had its maiden flight in in 1981 and was first flown commercially on 8 September 1982. By the 1990s it had become the most frequently used airliner for transatlantic flights between North America and Europe. As of July 2011, there are 837 Boeing 767s in service; the 767-300ER is the most popular variant.
- Blonde on Blonde (nom) by Mick gold, I.M.S., Allreet, and Moisejp. The album Blonde on Blonde, American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan's seventh, was released in May or June 1966 after more than six months of production. The last release in a trilogy of rock albums, Blonde on Blonde's songs have been described as operating on a grand scale musically, with the lyrics once called "a unique blend of the visionary and the colloquial." One of the first double albums in rock history, it peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 chart in the US, while in the UK it reached No. 3; two of its songs were selected by Rolling Stone for their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Four featured lists were promoted this week:
- List of Afghanistan T20I cricketers (nom) by Vibhijain. Thirteen players have represented the Afghanistan national cricket team in eight Twenty20 International (T20I) matches (matches between two teams with T20I certification) since their certification in 2010. The Afghan team has played in 8 T20I matches; eight players have played in all eight matches. Noor Ali is the leading run-scorer with 199 runs.
- Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals (nom) by Albacore. The Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals—historically also known as the Best Country Vocal Performance, Duet, and later Best Country Vocal Collaboration—was a Grammy Award for two or more country singers who collaborated on a song. In 2011 it was merged with two other categories to "tighten the number of categories" at the awards. Alison Krauss, with five wins, holds the most awards in this category; seven others have two. The most nominated are Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson, with nine nominations apiece.
- List of monarchs of East Anglia (nom) by Amitchell125. The independent Anglo-Saxon kingdom of East Anglia, consisting of what is now the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk (and perhaps the eastern part of the Fens), was ruled by up to 32 kings over its approximately 400 years of existence. The original rulers were members of the Wuffingas dynasty, while later rulers were either overlords of the conquering Mercians, of unknown descent, or of Danish descent.
- List of 1964 Winter Olympics medal winners (nom) by Courcelles. At the 1964 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, 1,095 athletes representing 36 National Olympic Committees competed in 34 events across 10 disciplines. The most successful country in total number of medals was the USSR, with 25 medals (11 of them gold), followed by Norway in second position and Austria in third. Two competitors, British luge competitor Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypeski and the Australian alpine skiier Ross Milne, died in training.
Three featured pictures were promoted this week.
- Salman Khurshid (nom; related article) by Muhammad Mahdi Karim. The new featured picture (above) depicts Indian politician Salman Khurshid, cabinet minister of the Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Minority Affairs of India. Khurshid (born 1953) began his career in politics as an officer on special duty under Indira Gandhi. The new featured picture was shot when the minister was to have a photoshoot with other VIPs.
- Sunset at Porto Covo (nom; related article) by Alvesgaspar. The new featured picture (below), used in both Sunset and Sunset (color), depicts a sunset over Porto Covo in Portugal. Sunsets are generally more colourful than sunrises because evening air contains more particles to refract the sunlight than morning air. In most places, the earliest sunsets are after the winter solstice and the latest after the summer solstice.
- Great Crested Grebe at Lake Dulverton (nom; Related article) by JJ Harrison. The Great Crested Grebe (above), a bird 46–51 centimetres (18–20 in) long, found throughout the old world and Oceania, breeds in vegetated areas of freshwater lakes. It feeds on fish, crustaceans, insects, and frogs, and is classified as least concern.
Sunset at Porto Covo, Portugal, a new featured picture
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