Following its second nomination and lengthy discussion, Encyclopædia Britannica was promoted to featured article on 12 April 2007. Promotion to featured article status signifies that the article is "considered to be one of the best articles in Wikipedia, as determined by Wikipedia's editors." This promotion comes a little more than a year after Britannica issued a scathing response to a study published in the prestigious science journal Nature. The study compared the accuracy of content in Britannica and Wikipedia.
First nominated for promotion in October 2006 by Nautica, the article was unable to overcome objections made by a number of editors. These objections included needed formatting changes, unsourced statements, violations of Wikipedia's neutral point of view principle, and criticism that the article focused too much on the differences between Britannica and Wikipedia. Following these objections, the Featured Article Director (Raul654) declined to promote the article.
The family of Britannica articles has expanded significantly since its last [nomination], as may be seen from the new category Encyclopædia Britannica. New pages have been created on the History of the Encyclopædia Britannica, Propædia, Macropædia, Micropædia, Staff of the Encyclopædia Britannica, Bicentennial of the Encyclopædia Britannica, Dobson's Encyclopædia as well as biographical articles for all major people in its history. The present article is stable, a good article, and has been through a recent peer review.
The Encyclopædia Britannica's first nomination came approximately ten months after the Nature study was published. In that study the journal selected 42 of the same articles in Britannica and Wikipedia and had experts evaluate the articles' content. The experts concluded that "in the sample of articles, Encyclopædia Britannica had 123 errors while Wikipedia had 162." This averages to "about 2.9 and 3.9 errors per article, respectively." This study generated significant mainstream media coverage. (see archived story)
Three months later in March of 2006, Britannica issued a biting response titled "Fatally Flawed". This response discounted the Nature study, stating that "almost everything about the journal’s investigation, from the criteria for identifying inaccuracies to the discrepancy between the article text and its headline, was wrong and misleading." Britannica went on calling for the journal to make a retraction of the study (see archived story). This response also garnered significant media coverage, including an article in The Wall Street Journal.
A featured article is considered to be of the highest quality work on Wikipedia and "features professional standards of writing and presentation." It is considered to meet all of Wikipedia's article requirements and is "well written, comprehensive, factually accurate, neutral, and stable."
Encyclopædia Britannica received a number of comments during its second nomination, including a number of ideas for improvement. Following the implementation of these suggestions, and tremendous effort on the part of Willow and others, Encyclopædia Britannica was promoted on 12 April 2007.
During the nomination, Robert McHenry, former editor-in-chief of Britannica, was invited on his blog to look over and possibly contribute to the Britannica article. McHenry did not respond. After Willow's second peace overture, McHenry thanked her for her sentiments and "charming letter", but referred her to Tom Panelas, long-time director of public relations for Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
On a sidelight, Warren E. Preece, the famous editor who shepherded the Britannica through the difficult transition to the 15th edition, passed away on the same day that the Wikipedia article became featured. Preece's son updated his Wikipedia biography almost immediately, although this was reverted a day later for lack of a reliable source. After confirmation, his death was recorded, and sundry improvements to his page were made. His online Britannica biography has still not been updated as of this writing (17 April 2007).
Update: Preece's online Britannica biography was updated thirteen hours after the publication of this article. This update came six days after the first announcement on Wikipedia and three days after the New York Times obituary.