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.

FL directors

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

Featured lists by topic area (May 11, 2008)

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.

Also this week:
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  • Sighted revisions
  • Copyright claim
  • Policy updates
  • Citizendium 2
  • Board elections
  • Maker Faire
  • IP block exemption
  • WikiWorld
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    May 12

    The 21st is done, ready to focus on this one? It needs a title, and I guess y'all are still putting it together? The first para leaves me (as a person unfamiliar with FL) lost ... I need basic definitions first, a link to the criteria (didn't they always include comprehensiveness), I don't know what this first line is (WP:Featured lists week), and I'm not following why a test case was created (wouldn't that be a WP:POINT nomination? ... I'm not getting it ... ) Ready to help, first it needs more groundwork laid for those who don't know FLC. Also, hard to tell, but it seems like "Existing Featured lists" is history and stat info, so should it come first, before discussing this current issue? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:39, 21 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]

    Also, I'm wondering if you plan to touch on any of the issue of how to tell if something should go to FAC or FLC (article or list), or does that need a separate dispatch? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:43, 21 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]
    The article right now is basically a bunch of prosified notes Woody and I have made. We'll work on cleaning it up this week (I have two exams, but I'm done Thursday, so I'll have plenty of time after that). -- Scorpion0422 00:58, 21 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]
    OK, I'll tune in after Thursday ... have fun! SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:08, 21 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]

    Query: with elections under way, should we put this off for two weeks? We could give this slot to DYK; they have something almost ready. Or would you rather have a separate entry on elections? Up to you all ... but if you'd rather defer, I have to get someone else to fill in soon. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:49, 24 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]

    Seems like a good idea. THe long lists discussion seems to be falling apart, so perhaps we should wait a few weeks, then devote a column entirely to the director stuff. -- Scorpion0422 17:53, 24 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]
    I'll wait to hear from others, and then will ask DYK to fill in if others concur. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:56, 24 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]
    I've no strong feelings on the matter. The director stuff will probably be a more interesting read than a dispute over the completeness of sporting lists. Colin°Talk 11:59, 25 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]
    Yep, if DYK can fill in that would be great, FL seems to be undergoing a bit of upheaval at the moment! Woody (talk) 12:48, 25 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]

    Hey, guys ! Time to get crackin' :-) If you watched Wikipedia:FCDW/May 5, 2008 and Wikipedia:FCDW/April 28, 2008 evolve, you know that no matter what text you dump on to this page, Tony1 and Jbmurray are going to make it sparkle, so just start adding text! SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:28, 6 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]


    Nice work. I have a few qualms, though:

    • I suggest a greater angle towards the dynamic and the positive. I'm glad "Dilemma" has gone. "Fluctuations" implies back and forth, to me. I've tried a more catchy title to engage readers' attention—otherwise, many will not proceed.
    • Structure: The article needs to start with a brief overview of what the hell FLs and FLC are, then move to the more important news of fundamental change in the process (the directors in the first subsection, then the impending revamp of the criteria (and the instructions), then to particular issues or types of list.
    • The lead: In the lead, I suggest including the bit at the start of "Longer lists" that a third of all FLs are sports-related (a quarter are blah, 10% are blah—big categories, to give an overview). The relationship with FAs is important too. Let's remember that some FACs are booted off because they're too listy, and perhaps the converse occurs. Other big issues that most WPians won't even have thought of is the finite vs dynamic; are there more? It's interesting.
    • Detail: I think it makes it look a bit in-house and clubby to mention everyone's name in the director section—who nominated, who withdrew, who failed. Just the basic facts are enough, aren't they (it was better in the previous version), and the names of the directors and FLR closers?
    • Longer lists and comprehensiveness: I still find it hard to work out the angle of the "Longer lists and comprehensiveness" section. The readers need to know at the beginning whether this is talking about a fault, a strength, an ongoing issue. It plunges straight into one particular type of list (sports-related) for no apparent reason (at least, the title needs to be the point of the departure in the first para: longer lists and comprehensiveness). ... Are any other issues going to be covered? Tony (talk) 03:08, 10 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]
      • It's still more of a rough draft than anything, but thanks for taking a look. I have added an introduction and I'll take a look at cleaning up the long lists part tomorrow (I think it could easily be trimmed a bit). As for the directors, I have removed mention of every nominee, but I think all four candidates should be mentioned. -- Scorpion0422 03:16, 10 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]

    A couple of ideas:

    1. It might not hurt to have a section about the proposal for FLs on the main page. there is an experiment right now, but most FLC regulars disagree with it (including myself and Woody). However, we could ask TonyTheTiger to write it (although he may make it more promotional than informative)
    2. Would it be possible for someone to make us a graph similar to this one?
    3. Another section we could include is a brief overview of the list/article debate. I think Colin is the one best suited for that because he has been more involved in the discussions than me. -- Scorpion0422 03:37, 10 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]
    I don't think there's much chance of lists going on the mainpage anytime soon, and before spending time on such text, I'd ask Raul. I don't think TonyTheTiger's proposals enjoy broad support, and it might be better to focus on all the tasks at hand. That graphs was made by Carcharoth; you could ask him. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 09:06, 10 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]

    I hope to get a chance to look at this but it sounds like we are trying to mention every FL-related issue from the last six months. When would Dispatches feature FLs again? In a few months, six months, a year? Colin°Talk 09:00, 10 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]


    Graph: Good idea, but unlike that FA graph, which fails, I think, because it's too fine-grained, how about merging some of the categories into larger ones. A pie graph of, say, eight or so super-categories might give people a more digestible view of the topic spread. Tony (talk) 11:11, 10 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]

    Re: move and resize. I could just read the chart in its original size, but not now it has been shrunk. Combining some topics might help compromise between legibility and size. The text mentions those topics with no FLs so perhaps that doesn't need repeated in the chart. Also, the chart fits better with the lead section than the "Longer lists and comprehensiveness" section. Could it be moved to the RHS of the lead? Colin°Talk 18:45, 11 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]

    It wasn't working there before as it was before the lead, and the problem with putting an image in the lead on the Dispatch is that the banner down the side fights with it and restricts the size you can use. How about combining some topics first to see how it looks? The categories are too small to be useful, and that does affect size and legibility. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:48, 11 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]
    I eliminated the ones with no FLs, combined some of the smaller ones (physics and chemistry, Law and history, computing an mathematics) and made the text a little bigger. Is it better? -- Scorpion0422 18:49, 11 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]
    Not sure if you'll like this, but how about just "Other" for combining all of the 9 and less? Will help readability. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:50, 11 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]
    Or, why not just make it the top 10 + others, then we could make it a pie graph? -- Scorpion0422 18:51, 11 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]
    Good idea (list the rest in the caption), but prefer bar chart to pie chart. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:52, 11 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]
    I'll try it in both formats, then we can decide which we like better. -- Scorpion0422 18:53, 11 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]

    New version is up. Is it better? I decided not to bother with a pie chart. -- Scorpion0422 19:26, 11 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]

    It looks good; the bars convey the information nicely, so I don't think a pie chart is needed. Gary King (talk)

    Inline queries

    I left some inline queries. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:46, 12 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]

    Yeah, I saw that and I think I've fixed it. -- Scorpion0422 16:47, 12 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]


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