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This essay, WP:Acceptability, explains the various issues which affect whether information should be accepted into an article, and for how long. There are several restrictions which affect what forms of information are considered proper within various articles. Also, some topics are acceptable mainly in subpages, rather than in a main article, to prevent undue weight in coverage of the topic, such as recent charges of corruption, or fringe theories which conflict with well-known facts about a subject.
Considering verifiability, truth and other factors
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has written about some various factors which limit the acceptability of text in articles. In September 2011, he wrote:
- Here is a story for consideration. Recently in the UK, a Member of Parliament was accused of sexual assault. There was a flurry of news stories. Within a few days, the entire case collapsed and his accuser admitted the whole thing was a lie. For a few days, his biography was problematic in the usual way: the accusations took up a huge percentage of the article, so that there were serious undue weight issues. When the case unraveled, a consensus was quickly reached on the talk page that while we should leave the material in his biography for a little while, since some people may not have heard about it at all, that a good case could be made for removing the whole incident entirely, eventually, because as it turns out, it is likely to have had zero impact on his career, life, etc., because basically nothing actually happened. (I reserve judgment on whether removing the information completely will be the right thing in this particular case, but I can see where it could be the right thing to do.)
- All of that is editorial judgment as opposed to be transcription monkeys. The transcription monkey view, which virtually no one actually holds of course, once they stop to think about it, would say that editorial judgment is wrong, that the information is verifiable in reliable sources, therefore we must include it.
- What's point here? My point is that even if something meets "verifiable" we might not include it... even if it is true. There are also cases where it is possible to find a handful of reliable sources that made a claim that is false and never corrected themselves, even though it has become starkly obvious that the claim is false. It's wrong to say "verifiability, not truth" if it leads people to think that it is ok to not care about truth.
The focus is to judge the multiple factors that determine whether text should be accepted into an article, whether into the main article or a subarticle, and for what duration of time.
Priority of factors for acceptability
When considering whether to add text into an article, the various factors should be ranked by priority:
- Privacy: perhaps the top priority is to beware privacy issues (wp:BLP), especially to avoid personal details as with underage children or wp:BLPCRIME, even if stated in multiple sources.
- Verifiability: the text must be verifiable, such as documented in wp:RS reliable sources, or otherwise text cannot be added.
- Notability: text is limited by notability (wp:NOTABLE), typically within the wp:Notability#General notability guideline (wp:GNG) as a major consideration.
- Relevance: the text should be placed in the most-relevant article(s), where in the case of fringe topics (wp:FRINGE), then a separate sub-article should be used.
- Timeliness: based on the timing of events, text should be added to the appropriate section, perhaps in chronological order, or text could be moved after time has passed.
- Weight: a major issue can be mentioned in the lede section of a page (wp:LEDE), and considering wp:NOTNEWS, even a recent report could be included if covered by many wp:RS reliable sources.
The main point of this essay is to consider the numerous factors which affect the acceptability of adding text into articles, and to be prepared to spend a few hours, discussing those issues, before adding the text.