Featured articles: Quality of reviews, quality of writing in 2012
Continuing our recap of the featured content promoted in 2012, this week the Signpost interviewed three editors, asking them about featured articles which stuck out in their minds. Two, Ian Rose and Graham Colm, are current featured article candidates (FAC) delegates, while Brian Boulton is an active featured article writer and reviewer.
It was a privilege to serve as a delegate at FAC in 2012, and view articles I might not have otherwise (though we're from the same place, I never knew there were so many varieties of banksia, for example). Restricting myself to nominations with which I was directly involved as a delegate, the article that remains uppermost in my mind is Lynching of Jesse Washington. The subject matter is important and disturbing, but presented in a dispassionate yet compelling manner. As a candidate, it was well prepared through a good article nomination and peer review, in which experienced FA writers participated. That the FAC still generated some detailed commentary was hardly surprising, but the discussion remained cool and collegial, and issues were resolved in a timely manner. For me it was one of many articles and FAC nominations in 2012 that did Wikipedia proud.
As a delegate I read a broad variety of articles that otherwise would pass me by. So different in subjects, I found it impossible to choose a favourite from the treasures on last year's list. But I do have a favourite FAC: it was a joy to follow the reviews of Betelgeuse. I was deeply impressed by the thoroughness and knowledge of the reviewers and the timely and intelligent responses from the nominators. Focused and ever mindful of our readers, the team went through the article with a fine tooth comb, refining every fact and nuance of meaning as they went along. Of course, I love the article – about a beautiful star with a beautiful name – it is a product of gifted content creators and expert reviews.
From the year's many excellent FA promotions, with some difficulty I made a short list of two: Mary, Queen of Scots, nominated by DrKiernan, and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, nominated by Maria. Mary, Queen of Scots is an engrossing account of a tragic life; the article has particular resonance for me since I live not far from Fotheringhay. The writing is crisp and authoritative, a credit to the encyclopedia. But my final choice of personal favourite, narrowly, goes to Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, a beautifully written description of a work by a writer who would perhaps never have come to my notice but for WP. It exemplifies for me the ability of Wikipedia to extend one's knowledge and sensitivities in unexpected and delightful ways.
Three featured articles were promoted this week:
- Broad-billed Parrot (nom), by FunkMonk. The Broad-billed Parrot (Lophopsittacus mauritianus) is a large extinct parrot once endemic to Mauritius, near Madagascar. It had a large head, distinct crest of feathers, and very large beak for cracking seeds. The birds exhibited extensive sexual dimorphism, with males at least 10 centimetres (3.9 in) longer. First mentioned in 1598, by 1680 the parrot was extinct; it was not formally described until the 19th century.
- California State Route 56 (nom), by Rschen7754. State Route 56 (SR 56) is 9.210 miles (14.822 km) long and runs east–west, connecting Interstate 5 to Interstate 15. It is the only connecting freeway for several miles. Initially added to the state highway system in 1959, SR 56 was not completed until 2004 owing to funding issues and environmental concerns.
- Brazza's Martin (nom), by Jimfbleak. Brazza's Martin (Phedina brazzae) is a bird in the swallow family native to central Africa. It averages 12 cm (4.25 in) in length and has grey-brown upperparts, heavily black-streaked white underparts, and a brownish tint to the breast plumage. The Martin burrows in river banks, where it lays a clutch of three white eggs. Its conservation status is currently classified "Least Concern".
Four featured lists were promoted this week:
- Scheduled Ancient Monuments in Coventry (nom), by HJ Mitchell. There are ten scheduled ancient monuments in the English city of Coventry. The earliest date from the 11th century, while the most recent was constructed in 1835.
- List of Crystal Dynamics video games (nom), by Hahc21. The American video game developer Crystal Dynamics, currently a subsidiary of Square Enix, has developed 36 games since it was established in 1992. It is best known for developing the Legacy of Kain and Gex series
- List of Looking Glass Studios video games (nom), by JimmyBlackwing. The American video game developer Looking Glass Studios, active between 1990 and 2000, released twelve games and several ports. It is perhaps best known for its Ultima Underworld and System Shock series.
- List of awards and nominations received by The Vampire Diaries (nom), by Bill william compton. The American supernatural drama television series The Vampire Diaries has been nominated for 62 awards since its debut in 2009, winning 22, including 18 Teen Choice Awards.
Twelve featured pictures were promoted this week:
- Whimbrel (nom; related article), created by Andreas Trepte and nominated by Tomer T. The Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) is a wader that breeds across much of subarctic North America, Europe and Asia. It averages 37–47 cm (15–19 in) in length.
- The Jewish Bride (nom; related article), created by Rembrandt and nominated by Crisco 1492. The Jewish Bride, a painting by Rembrandt c. 1667, likely does not depict a father and his soon-to-be married daughter as originally thought, but instead may depict a biblical couple.
- SBB-CFF-FFS Re 460 (nom; related article), created by David Gubler and nominated by Crisco 1492. The Re 460 series are modern four-axle electric locomotives of the Swiss Federal Railways. This one is pulling an IC 2000 double decker trainset.
- Pair of European Bee-eaters (nom; related article), created by User talk:Kookaburra 81 and nominated by Ceranthor. The European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) is a migratory bird found in much of the Old World. It feeds predominantly on insects, especially bees, wasps, and hornets.
- Thurston's East Indian Rope Trick (nom; related article), created by Otis Lithograph Co., restored and nominated by Adam Cuerden. The Indian rope trick is stage magic supposedly performed in India in the early 19th century, but for which the earliest documentation dates from 1890. The trick has several versions.
- Brusio spiral viaduct (nom; related article), created by David Gubler and nominated by Elekhh. The Brusio spiral viaduct is a single track nine-arched stone spiral railway viaduct which serves only to adjust the altitude of the Bernina Railway.
- Skylab (nom; related article), created by NASA and nominated by Pine. Skylab was a space station launched and operated by American space agency NASA which orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979. This photograph was taken by its final crew while departing.
- Vyborg Castle (nom; related article), created by A.Savin and nominated by Tomer T. Vyborg Castle is a Swedish-built medieval fortress around which the town of Viborg, Russia, sprang. Now a museum, it was constructed in the 13th century.
- The Execution of Lady Jane Grey (nom; related article), created by Paul Delaroche and nominated by Rwxrwxrwx. The Execution of Lady Jane Grey is an oil painting by the French artist Paul Delaroche which was completed in 1833. It depicts the moments preceding the death of the "Nine Days Queen".
- Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks (nom; related article), created by Ilya Repin and nominated by Adam Cuerden. Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, an oil on canvas painting by Russian artist Ilya Repin, was completed in 1891 and depicts the Zaporozhian Cossacks drafting a rude letter to Sultan Mehmed IV.
- Les raboteurs de parquet (nom; related article), created by Gustave Caillebotte and nominated by Adam Cuerden. Les raboteurs de parquet is an oil on canvas painting by the French artist Gustave Caillebotte which was completed in 1875. It was controversial for its depiction of shirtless working-class men.
- The Pirate Publisher (nom; related article), created by Joseph Ferdinand Keppler, restored and nominated by Adam Cuerden. This 1886 cartoon from the American magazine Puck satirized publishers who were stealing newly published works from one country and publishing them for profit in another.