|This page in a nutshell: Featured articles are not necessarily to be emulated; focus on our policies and guidelines|
Sometimes editors may compare an article with a featured article and conclude that because the featured article has a certain property (e.g., a formatting style), the unfeatured article in question should also have that property. While precedents in decisions made by higher courts are binding on all lower courts (in certain legal systems), Wikipedia is not a legal system, and featured articles are not identified as such so that every element of their design can be used as a model for policy guidance.
Featured articles may have problems:
- The featured article may have been changed since being featured, and new changes may not have yet been reviewed.
- Featured article policies may have changed since the article was featured, or be about to change, and the article may not have been removed from featured status yet.
- Featured articles may not be up-to-date with recent developments in a topic, and so be incomplete even if they were complete at the time it was featured.
- The featured article assessment process is not perfect: it does not identify all possible problems an article may have, and articles are not disqualified from being featured even if they have known but less serious problems. All articles are being constantly constructed; featured articles are no exception.
When discussing articles, whether it be on articles for deletion or article talk pages, avoid arguing that "featured articles do/don't do this, so this article should/shouldn't either" or "all/none of our featured articles have this, this should be added/deleted". Instead, argue based on policies: if featured articles all do things a certain way, is it because they are all following some underlying policy or guideline that says they should? Is it part of the featured article assessment criteria? Or is it mere convention or coincidence? Different articles are free to make different editorial and style choices, within reason, so don't feel restricted by how featured articles are written.