Wikipedia:Run-of-the-mill

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Something that is run-of-the-mill is a common, everyday, ordinary item that does not stand out from all the rest. In other words, something or someone that is "run-of-the-mill" is probably not notable.

There are many subjects for which multiple reliable sources independent of the subject do exist. One may assume on this basis that they are notable. But there are just so many of these things in the world, and they are so commonplace, that if an article on each were to be created, there would be so many articles on these alone, possibly more than there are total Wikipedia articles to this day, and Wikipedia would be clogged with these articles, in the sense that it would be harder to structure content and it would make it more difficult to find significant information.

For example, a detailed street map shows every street within a city, down to every cul-de-sac with just four houses. Every city has at least several detailed street maps that have been published. But in one square mile of an urban area, there are hundreds, even thousands of streets. And there can be hundreds of square miles within a city and its suburbs. It is not practical to create an article on every single street, as the high volume might overwhelm the capacity of available editors to maintain them.

Almost every city has its own police and fire departments. These departments can be so busy that they are mentioned almost daily in the local news. But then again, they are just ordinary police and fire departments doing their jobs.

And many people, when they die, have one or more obituaries published detailing the fact that they died, information regarding their deaths, and often information about their families and careers. This information is published in a newspaper, a reliable source. But in a single major city, there will be dozens of obituaries published each day.

In order for such a commonplace item to be worthy for inclusion in an article, there must be sources provided other than those that would source so many others just like it. This shows that there is also be something unusual, something unique about that subject so that the article is not just blank is blank (which would essentially be a dictionary entry), and that it does not resemble hundreds of other articles by containing mostly the same words with a few fill-in-the-blanks. Once such notability has been established, the common sources (e.g. a map for a street) can then be used to verify the accuracy of information.

Examples of items that may be run-of-the-mill[edit]

This strip mall is probably important to the nearby residents, and it is probably mentioned in a number of local newspapers and newsletters. But this doesn't make it notable.

Some subjects in particular are extremely commonplace. This does not mean they are never notable. But it is surely not possible for all of them to be.

Residential[edit]

Nearly every house is listed in some directory somewhere, identifying the company that built it and the people who live in it. This does not make it notable. Additionally, there are privacy issues when it comes to writing about a personal residence. Articles can be created on historic houses that a notable person has lived in, or that are notable for another reason. Apartment complexes, housing developments, and trailer parks, even though there may be websites about each one, and even though they are often displayed on maps, are not notable on this basis.

Commercial[edit]

Shopping centers, strip malls, office buildings, business or industrial parks, or medical centers may have a lot of information from reliable sources giving them bare mention.

In every city and town are single location businesses (e.g. retail, restaurant, gas station, auto repair shop, motel), and in some places, most businesses fit this description. Yet they may be mentioned in reliable sources.

Sports[edit]

It has already been accepted that professional athletes, regardless of their accomplishments in their field, may receive coverage. But local newspapers also cover high school and college athletes. In every city and town, there are several high schools and colleges and papers that cover them. So inevitably, these athletes will receive coverage.

As for professional sport, each game will receive in-depth coverage from the local papers of the team's city, and at the very least, a box score from papers elsewhere. Each professional sports league has plenty of teams (some have more than 30), and a sports season has many games (Major League Baseball has 162 per season). It is not practical to have an article on every game ever played. Imagine an article on "July 8 Cardinals vs. Brewers game" and "July 9 Cardinals vs. Brewers game" and "July 11 Cardinals vs. Cubs game" and so on. More encyclopedic would be articles like 2009 St. Louis Cardinals season, which describe the highlights of the season.

What not to create[edit]

Some articles not to create based on common sources only are:

  • A restaurant that has been given reviews in the local papers
  • A local club supporting a hobby or interest, or a local organization promoting some cause
  • Regular-season games in a professional sport (A post-season series should be in an article about the series rather than in articles about individual games)
  • The local festival or other scheduled event that occurs annually
  • A bank that has been mentioned in the news each of the 5 times it has been robbed in its 30-year existence
  • The side street where once every few years, a news-reported crime has occurred

Dealing with a run-of-the-mill article[edit]

First, make sure the article is on a run-of-the-mill subject:

  • Does the written text seem to imply there is something unusual about the subject, or something that may be encyclopedic? Just because something belongs to a category that might often be run-of-the-mill doesn't mean that the specific example is.
  • Examine the reference, sources, and external links provided. Do they meet WP:RS guidelines? Do they come from international, national, or local sources?
  • Ask yourself, is the topic covered one that is normally accepted by Wikipedia's guidelines?

If, after this review, you feel the article is, indeed, run-of-the-mill, you may start taking action.

  • Consider if any appropriate tags may be placed on top of the page in lieu of immediate deletion that may encourage others to improve the article. A suggested merge is sometimes an option.
  • Blatant spam, advertising, and self-promotion shall be speedy-deleted, marked with {{db-spam}}.
  • If the item (other than a person, business, or organization) is a part of something larger, it may be merged or redirected to that page.
  • If something is truly not notable or is likely not to be considered notable, it may be nominated for deletion. This will give others a chance to discuss if it may be worth deleting the information. You may also start by using the {{prod}} tag to see if the deletion is challenged by someone else.

See also[edit]