Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wikipedia's most viewed featured picture?

In chat with another Wikipedian last night about the Wright Brothers' first flight and interesting question came up: what is Wikipedia's most frequently viewed featured picture? In terms of ordinary monthly traffic that would probably be a featured picture for one of the site's most frequently viewed pages. Based upon a recollection of somewhat out of date statistics I guessed that would be the featured picture of Barack Obama. Further research led to a surprising discovery and inadvertently sparked a small edit war.

A later check confirmed that Barack Obama received 1,644,252 in February 2009. That makes the article Wikipedia's twenty-second most visted page for that month.

Yet it also turned out the Obama biography didn't use the featured picture of Barack Obama. This was odd. A featured picture doesn't need to occupy the lead position, of course, but it usually appears somewhere on the article where it is most relevant. On rare occasions a featured picture gets removed from its primary article through the well-meaning effort of an editor who doesn't have much experience with image use. Normally that's simple to remedy: just reinstate the image with an edit summary explaining that it's featured.

It would be an uncontroversial and straightforward edit at any other article, but what about at this location? Usually I avoid hot potato topics in mainspace. But what the heck? I thought, The election is over. I'll start a thread at the talk page, to be on the safe side. A lot of disagreement followed. When it appeared that an editor hadn't understood the reason for discussing the image I provided two explanations, then made one edit to demonstrate. Perhaps that was too bold under the circumstances, because this followed:
Yikes. Well, in order to keep things bipartisan I'll be uploading a speech by George H.W. Bush and nominating it for featured sound. Also located a public domain photo of John McCain taken shortly after his release from a POW camp.

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