Wikipedia:Main article fixation

Even though a newspaper has many sections, many writers strive to get their articles on the front page. The same phenomenon is true in Wikipedia, where editors often want to add contributions to the main article, rather than a sub-article, or in the lead, rather than in one of the sections of the article.

Main article fixation is an observed effect that editors are likely to insist that their contribution appear in the most prominent article, rather than in a sub-article where it may be better suited. Similar to this is lead fixation: article leads get by far the most attention from editors. The effect is especially prominent on highly visible and already reasonably complete topics, such as Human, Islam, Hinduism, Sex, World War II or George W. Bush:

One explanation for this behaviour is the natural desire of the author that their contributions be seen by as many readers as possible. Especially if an editor has a political or religious agenda, they will insist that their point appear in the intro, where it will get more attention, often neglecting whether the point is substantially relevant, or how it is covered in the article body.

An alternative explanation is the natural desire for all articles to be as complete as possible. This leads to editors inserting additional information, perhaps without sufficient thought as to the level of content appropriate to a main article. In a complex subject which already has many sub-articles it can be quite difficult to decide what level of information is appropriate in which article. It may even be difficult to determine what sub-articles exist, and how they relate to each other. Organisation does not come easily to everyone. It is especially hard in a non-hierarchical collaborative online environment like Wikipedia.

Yet another explanation is the natural disagreement which exists between editors as to what information is most important. In the case of less well established articles, an editor might reasonably add information without disagreement. In the case of a popular or fundamental topic, it is likely that an established view about the article already exists in the minds of several editors, who may defend the existing structure against changes. Even where they themselves might not entirely agree with it, it may already be the result of past battles between opposing viewpoints. Sometimes the established position may be eminently sensible, but in other cases it may be a historical accident due to the order in which information arrived at the article, or the knowledge of early contributors.

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