Dispatches: The latest on featured articles

Featured articles (FA) show off our best work to the world on the main page and serve as a powerful model for all of Wikipedia's articles. The featured article candidate process (FAC) is vital to setting and maintaining our standards of verification, writing and formatting. To complement the FA nominations/archiving process, the FA review process (FAR) enables the review and updating of articles that already have the bronze star. While the number of FAs grows at an average rate of 50 articles a month, a relatively small body of editors provides most of the successful candidates, and even fewer editors shoulder most of the burden of reviewing candidates at FAC and FAR. A successful promotion requires the input of about 12 editors, so nominators might consider re-paying the process by themselves reviewing a dozen or so candidates. More reviewers are always welcome!

Promotions and demotions

, Banner year for Featured articles
A graph of the total number of featured articles on the English (green) and German (blue) Wikipedias

About one in every 1,130 Wikipedia articles is featured; the ratio of FAs to all Wiki articles has been steadily climbing since February 2007.

During the first nine months of 2008, promotions of FAs have been at about the same rate as for 2007, while demotions at FAR have declined slightly relative to 2007.

During the past two years, average FA promotions were 63 a month; 2008 promotions through September are 64 a month, compared with an average of 42 three years ago.

After inline citation requirements were added in December 2005, demotions peaked at 30 during November 2006. Demotions over the past two years have averaged 16 a month, while the past year was slightly lower at 13 per month.

Combining promotions and demotions yields an average growth in FAs of 47 a month over the past two years, and 51 a month over the past year; the increase is due to the lower rate of demotions.


Through August 18, the top 10 FA producers of 2008, with eight or more FAs for the year, were (alphabetically):[1]

Amazingly, these 10 editors accounted for one in five of FAs promoted in 2008 through August, at 105 of the 489 promotions.


FAs as of September 16, 2008 Count % chg since
Feb. 23
Art, architecture and archaeology 72 10.8%
Awards, decorations and vexillology 26 8.3%
Biology 155 20.1%
Business, economics and finance 19 18.8%
Chemistry and mineralogy 31 6.9%
Computing 17 0.0%
Culture and society 48 20.0%
Education 34 13.3%
Engineering and technology 37 5.7%
Food and drink 11 0.0%
Geography and places 158 6.8%
Geology, geophysics and meteorology 90 28.6%
Health and medicine 36 12.5%
History 154 5.5%
Language and linguistics 15 -11.8%
Law 34 17.2%
Literature and theatre 134 24.1%
Mathematics 14 7.7%
Media 171 7.6%
Music 182 19.0%
Philosophy and psychology 13 8.3%
Physics and astronomy 82 22.4%
Politics and government 67 8.1%
Religion, mysticism and mythology 44 22.2%
Royalty, nobility and heraldry 90 20.0%
Sport and recreation 162 36.1%
Transport 74 57.5%
Video gaming 96 33.3%
Warfare 173 19.3%

As of September 16, 2008,[2] the largest featured article categories had at least 150 entries.

  1. Music
  2. Warfare
  3. Media
  4. Sport and recreation
  5. Geography and places
  6. Biology
  7. History

The smallest categories had fewer than 20 entries.

  1. Food and drink
  2. Philosophy
  3. Mathematics
  4. Language and linguistics
  5. Computing
  6. Business, economics and finance

Relative to categories tallied in the February 25 Dispatch, the fastest growing categories are: Transport; Sport and recreation; Video gaming; Geology, geophysics and meteorology; Literature and theatre; Physics and astronomy; and Religion, mysticism and mythology. Three categories had no growth or a net decrease due to demotions: Language and linguistics; Computing; and Food and drink.


At FAR, great saves by a core group of editors contributed to a record-breaking month, with 17 articles retaining Featured article status during September.

At FAC, reviews have become more specialized, with individual editors tackling specific areas of the FA criteria. Several reviewers have developed expertise in reviewing images (see Reviewing free images and Reviewing non-free images), others in checking sources on every FAC for compliance with the Reliable sources guideline (see Reliable sources in content review processes), while others focus on Manual of style or prose and copyedit issues (see Reviewers achieving excellence).

FAC reviewer awards (see Feb stats, April stats and May stats) have gone to consistent productive reviewers: Awadewit, BuddingJournalist, Dweller, Ealdgyth, Elcobbola, Epbr123, GrahamColm, Indopug, Jbmurray, Juliancolton, Karanacs, Laser brain, Maralia, Moni3, Peanut4, Roger Davies, The Rambling Man, Tony1, Yllosubmarine and Yomangan.

Dedicated FAC and FAR volunteers work to assure that every article nominated receives a thorough review. Without them, FA standards would decline and the FAC and FAR pages would be likely to develop a large backlog as nominators wait for review. It is often thankless work: nominators, please be kind to the reviewers, and if you get a chance to lend a hand, please review some articles as well—we want your expertise too!

Article size

Readable prose size of Good articles (green) and Featured articles (blue)
Readable prose size of Good articles (green) and Featured articles (blue)

As of October 1, 2008,[3] the average "readable prose" size on 2,253 Featured articles was 25KB.

Average size at 25KB has not changed relative to a year ago for 1,721 featured articles. At that time:

Hence, average "readable prose size" has not changed, while the number of FAs of both the larger and smaller size-ranges has increased. (Several of the largest FAs have grown since passing FAC).

At around at least the average size of a FA (25KB), the number of Good articles (GA)s and FAs are roughly the same; below the average FA size, there are many more GAs.


Also this week:
  • Experimental RfA
  • News and notes
  • Dispatches
  • Features and admins
  • Technology report
  • Arbitration report

  • (← Previous Dispatches) Signpost archives (Next Dispatches→)

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