As part of rolling out the related articles feature to mobile @JKatzWMF has relayed a request from the community to *not* boost popular pages in the search ranking. This feature, boosting by the number of incoming links, has been a default feature of wikimedia search both in the old lucene search engine and now in CirrusSearch. Additionally CirrusSearch has a feature not present in the old lucene search that boosts pages which contain templates specified on wiki (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MediaWiki:Cirrussearch-boost-templates).
The incoming link boosting feature is already available in a hacked together manner, purely for testing purposes. Any request, api or web, can send the query parameter cirrusBoostLinks=no and incoming links will not be considered in final scoring. There is unfortunately no current way to disable template boosting for morelike queries (they can be disabled in normal full text by including boost-templates:"" in the query) but we can come up with something to add. The abiity to disable one or both needs to be exposed in a manner that is explicitly supported in the API rather than via unregistered query parameters.
- related page query scoring does not take into consideration incoming links
- related page query scoring does not take into consideration templates (this one sounds like it is harder to do)...open to other ideas to mitigate the overly strong preference on featured articles
- a list of before and after sample articles' results are published on the related pages project page https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Reading/Web/Projects/Related_pages