Wikipedia is a haven for specialized knowledge, unevenly applied. While articles on topics as important as "The Sun in culture" sit little-noticed and little-loved, we have poured time and attention into producing extremely high-quality articles on some more obscure subjects. Here are a few of Wikipedia's featured articles on the bizarre, outlandish, or simply fascinating things the world produces from time to time.
The Brown Dog affair
With a title that seems lifted from a Tintin book, the Brown Dog affair actually involves a public hue and cry in Edwardian Britain. At about 5,600 words, the full story is well worth your time to read, but in short, to quote from the lead: "it involved the infiltration by Swedish feminists of University of London medical lectures; pitched battles between medical students and the police; police protection for the statue of a dog; a libel trial at the Royal Courts of Justice; and the establishment of a Royal Commission." Nominated for FA status by the great and much missed SarahSV, this article is a reminder that the past is a massive place.
Why don't animals have wheels?
Rotating locomotion in living systems answers a question that occurs to every five-year-old shortly after they learn about cars. Why haven't animals given up their ungainly legs, paws, and wings in exchange for the ability to roll? The article, nominated for FA status by , is a perfect example of how to turn inquiry into knowledge.
Cats, the coronation cut
Continuing on our mammalian theme, we come to the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office. This article describes a cat with a lordly salary of £100 a year, whose role is to keep 10 Downing Street, a notoriously drafty and unwelcoming home, free of vermin. It's hard to say which part of the article better exemplifies Wikipedia's appreciation of the catholic nature of knowledge – the section on partisanship with relation to the cat, or the navigation box at the bottom containing article links to all the Chief Mousers of years past. Nominated for Featured List status by Matthew.
And now for something completely different...
Anyone who has suffered through a YouTube video beset with ads will understand the frustration of American football fans who tuned in to watch the Heidi Game. Played in 1968, when TV channels were few and football was just beginning its rise to dominant popularity in the United States, the regular-season game filled up its entire 3-hour timeslot. A few minutes before the Oakland Raiders began an epic comeback, NBC decided to switch to regular programming – specifically, Heidi, a made-for-TV movie not much remembered today. Interestingly, the film's score was composed by John Williams, one year after his first Academy Award nomination. Nominated for Featured Article status by The Writer 2.0.
Finally, mention must be made of Extremely Online, recently brought to Good Article status by JPxG. An enjoyable read, the article does fail to answer one key question – how much time do you have to spend on Wikipedia before you become Extremely Online? Maybe it's best if we leave that one to the philosophers.