Wikipedia:Notability (events)

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Within Wikipedia, notability is a test used by editors to decide whether a topic can have its own article. The topic of an article should be notable, or "worthy of notice"; that is, "significant, interesting, or unusual enough to deserve attention or to be recorded".[1] Notable in the sense of being "famous", or "popular"—although not irrelevant—is secondary.

This notability guideline for events reflects consensus reached through discussions and reinforced by established practice, and informs decisions on whether an article about past, current, and breaking news events should be written, merged, deleted or further developed.

Background[edit]

Article deletion discussions have featured a number of contentious debates about events, particularly breaking news events, that have received intense media coverage. This guideline was formed with the intention of guiding editors in interpreting the various pre-existing policies and guidelines that apply to articles about events, including WP:GNG (i.e. "a topic is presumed to have met the criteria for notability if it has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject") and its relationship to WP:NOT#NEWS (i.e. Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of news material). By attempting to clarify the application of these rules to articles about events, this guideline reflects the community consensus regarding the handling of similarly situated articles.

Inclusion criteria[edit]

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Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia, which means that there is no practical limit to the number of topics we can cover or the total amount of content. However, it is also not an indiscriminate collection of information or a news service. Wikinews offers a place where editors can document current news events, but not every incident that gains media coverage will have or should have a Wikipedia article. A rule of thumb for creating a Wikipedia article is whether the event is of lasting, historical significance, and the scope of reporting (national or global reporting is preferred).

Editors should bear in mind recentism, the tendency for new and current matters to seem more important than they might seem in a few years time. Many events receive coverage in the news and yet are not of historic or lasting importance. News organizations have criteria for content, i.e. news values, that differ from the criteria used by Wikipedia and encyclopedias generally. A violent crime, accidental death, or other media events may be interesting enough to reporters and news editors to justify coverage, but this will not always translate into sufficient notability for a Wikipedia article.

  • Events are probably notable if they have enduring historical significance and meet the general notability guideline, or if they have a significant lasting effect.
  • Events are also very likely to be notable if they have widespread (national or international) impact and were very widely covered in diverse sources, especially if also re-analyzed afterwards (as described below).
  • Events having lesser coverage or more limited scope may or may not be notable; the descriptions below provide guidance to assess the event.
  • Routine kinds of news events (including most crimes, accidents, deaths, celebrity or political news, "shock" news, stories lacking lasting value such as "water cooler stories," and viral phenomena) – whether or not tragic or widely reported at the time – are usually not notable unless something further gives them additional enduring significance.

In evaluating an event, editors should evaluate various aspects of the event and the coverage: the impact, depth, duration, geographical scope, diversity and reliability of the coverage, as well whether the coverage is routine. These factors are described below.

The event[edit]

Lasting effects[edit]

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An event that is a precedent or catalyst for something else of lasting significance is likely to be notable.

Events are often considered to be notable if they act as a precedent or catalyst for something else. This may include effects on the views and behaviors of society and legislation. For example, the murder of Adam Walsh ultimately led to the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, among other notable subjects.

Events that have a noted and sourced permanent effect of historical significance are likely to be notable. This includes, for example, natural disasters that result in widespread destruction, since they lead to rebuilding, population shifts, and possible impact on elections. For example, Hurricane Katrina or the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake are notable by these standards. A minor earthquake or storm with little or no impact on human populations is probably not notable.

It may take weeks or months to determine whether or not an event has a lasting effect. This does not, however, mean recent events with unproven lasting effect are automatically non-notable.

Geographical scope[edit]

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Notable events usually have significant impact over a wide region, domain, or widespread societal group.

An event affecting a local area and reported only by the media within the immediate region may not necessarily be notable. Coverage of an event nationally or internationally may make notability more likely, but such coverage should not be the sole basis for creating an article. However, events that have a demonstrable long-term impact on a significant region of the world or a significant widespread societal group are presumed to be notable enough for an article.

The coverage[edit]

Depth of coverage[edit]

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An event must receive significant or in-depth coverage to be notable.

The general guideline is that coverage must be significant and not in passing. In-depth coverage includes analysis that puts events into context, such as is often found in books, feature length articles in major news magazines (like Time, Newsweek, or The Economist), and TV news specialty shows (such as 60 Minutes or CNN Presents in the US, or Newsnight in the UK). Reporting with little thematic connection or contextual information is often considered to be routine reporting.[2] Some editors consider narrative news reports to be primary rather than secondary sources.

Media sources sometimes report on events because of their similarity (or contrast, or comparison) to another widely reported incident. Editors should not rely on such sources to afford notability to the new event, since the main purpose of such articles is to highlight either the old event or such types of events generally.

Duration of coverage[edit]

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Notable events usually receive coverage beyond a relatively short news cycle.

The duration of coverage is a strong indicator of whether an event has passing or lasting significance. Although notability is not temporary, meaning that coverage does not need to be ongoing for notability to be established, a burst or spike of news reports does not automatically make an incident notable. Events that are only covered in sources published during or immediately after an event, without further analysis or discussion, are likely not suitable for an encyclopedia article. However, this may be difficult or impossible to determine shortly after the event occurs, as editors cannot know whether an event will receive further coverage or not. That an event occurred recently does not in itself make it non-notable.

If an event is cited as a case study in multiple sources after the initial coverage has died down, this may be an indication of lasting significance.

Diversity of sources[edit]

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Significant national or international coverage is usually expected for an event to be notable. Wide-ranging reporting tends to show significance, but sources that simply mirror or tend to follow other sources, or are under common control with other sources, are usually discounted.

Wikipedia's general notability guideline recommends that multiple sources be provided to establish the notability of a topic, not just multiple references from a single source.[3] A series of news reports by a single newspaper or news channel would not be sufficient basis for an article.

Media channels under common control or influence are usually counted as one local or national outlet and a single instance of coverage when they report a matter, even if they have several regional or national outlets. Similarly, where a single story or press release is simply re-reported (often word-for-word) by news publications, or when reporters base their information on repeating news coverage from elsewhere (for example, "AP reported that ..."), this should only be counted as a single source for the purpose of determining notability (see Wikipedia:Bombardment). Derivative reports and reports under common control cannot be used to verify each other, nor does mere repetition necessarily show the kind of effort that is good evidence of a significant matter.

Other circumstances[edit]

Routine coverage[edit]

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Per Wikipedia policy, routine news coverage of such things as announcements, sports, and tabloid journalism are not sufficient basis for an article. Planned coverage of pre-scheduled events, especially when those involved in the event are also promoting it, is considered to be routine.[4] Wedding announcements, obituaries, sports scores, crime logs, and other items that tend to get an exemption from newsworthiness discussions should be considered routine. Routine events such as sports matches, film premieres, press conferences etc. may be better covered as part of another article, if at all. Run-of-the-mill events—common, everyday, ordinary items that do not stand out—are probably not notable. This is especially true of the brief, often light and amusing (for example bear-in-a-tree or local-person-wins-award), stories that frequently appear in the back pages of newspapers or near the end of nightly news broadcasts ("And finally" stories).

Sensationalism[edit]

See also: WP:NOTSCANDAL
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Tabloid or yellow journalism is usually considered a poor basis for an encyclopedia article, due to the lack of fact checking inherent in sensationalist and scandal mongering news reporting. Per policy, Wikipedia is not for scandal mongering or gossip. Even in respected media, a 24-hour news cycle and other pressures inherent in the journalism industry can lead to infotainment and churnalism without proper fact checking, and they may engage in frivolous "silly season" reporting. Some editors may take into account perceived media bias, such as Missing white woman syndrome, when assessing notability.

Criminal acts[edit]

See also: WP:CRIME
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Articles about criminal acts,[5] particularly those that fall within the category of "breaking news", are frequently the subject of deletion discussions. As with other events, media coverage can confer notability on a high-profile criminal act, provided such coverage meets the above guidelines and those regarding reliable sources.

The disappearance of a person would fall under this guideline if law enforcement agencies deemed it likely to have been caused by criminal conduct, regardless of whether a perpetrator is identified or charged. If a matter is deemed notable, and to be a likely crime, the article should remain even if it is subsequently found that no crime occurred (e.g., the Runaway bride case) since that would not make the matter less notable.

People notable for only one event[edit]

Main pages: WP:BLP1E and WP:BIO1E

People known only in connection with one event should generally not have an article written about them. If the event is notable, then an article usually should be written about the event instead.

Breaking news[edit]

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If an event is still being widely covered in the press, editors may place the {{currentevent}} template on it to inform readers of the changing nature of the article.

Don't rush to create articles[edit]

It is wise to delay writing an article about a breaking news event until the significance of the event is clearer as early coverage may lack perspective and be subject to factual errors. Writing about breaking news may be recentism, and Wikipedia is not a crystal ball. It is recommended that editors start a section about the event within an existing article on a related topic if possible, which may later be split into its own article if the coverage suggests that the event is independently notable.

Many articles on events are created in anticipation of their notability. Anticipation is the creation of an article on a recent event with the expectation that it will meet inclusion guidelines, before the duration of coverage or any lasting effect is certain. For example, June 22, 2009 Washington Metro train collision was started just 60 minutes after the crash occurred. The rescue operation was still ongoing, an investigation was yet to begin, and the final death toll was unknown.

Anticipation of notability may be mistaken. Many events portrayed by the media as major on the day they occur quickly become only a footnote. For example, it was reported in January 2009 that a man was planning to travel to Washington to assassinate George W. Bush. It was reported several days later that he had no such plans and this event was shown to be nothing more than a routine arrest. However, articles about widely reported major unexpected or unprecedented events such as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto or the Death of Michael Jackson will almost certainly gain consensus to be kept even when created on the same day as the event occurred.

Don't rush to delete articles[edit]

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Articles about breaking news events—particularly biographies of participants—are often rapidly nominated for deletion. As there is no deadline, it is recommended to delay the nomination for a few days to avoid the deletion debate dealing with a moving target and to allow time for a clearer picture of the notability of the event to emerge, which may make a deletion nomination unnecessary. Deletion discussions while events are still hot news items rarely result in consensus to delete. There may be alternatives to deletion, such as merging or reworking the article so that it conforms with policy, for example, by rewriting an article about a person known only for one event to be about the event. Other alternatives to deletion while the story develops are userfying or incubating the article in draftspace.

Wikinews[edit]

Editors are encouraged to write about breaking news events in Wikinews instead of in Wikipedia.

Moving a page to Wikinews is not possible as this would re-license it under the CC-BY license, which is incompatible with CC-BY-SA, but the content could be reworked from the original sources for Wikinews with a soft redirect from Wikipedia. However, conversely, Wikinews content can be freely incorporated into Wikipedia.

Alternatives to deletion[edit]

Main page: WP:ATD

If the notability of an event is in question but it is primarily associated with a particular person, company or organization, or can be covered as part of a wider topic, it may preferable to describe the event within a preexisting article, by merging content. Care should be taken not to give the event undue weight or violate our policy on biographies of living persons.

If there is no suitable target for merging, a solution may be to rework the article to widen its context beyond a single event.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Encarta dictionary definition Retrieved 13 March 2008
  2. ^ Jaeho Cho; Michael P. Boyle, Heejo Keum, Mark D. Shevy, Douglas M. Mcleod, Dhavan V. Shah, Zhongdang Pan (September 2003). "Media, Terrorism, and Emotionality: Emotional Differences in Media Content and Public Reactions to the September 11th Terrorist Attacks". Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 47. 
  3. ^ From WP:GNG: "Lack of multiple sources suggests that the topic may be more suitable for inclusion in an article on a broader topic. Mere republications of a single source or news wire service do not always constitute multiple works. Several journals simultaneously publishing articles in the same geographic region about an occurrence, does not always constitute multiple works, especially when the authors are relying on the same sources, and merely restating the same information. Specifically, several journals publishing the same article within the same geographic region from a news wire service is not a multiplicity of works."
  4. ^ Harvey Molotch; Marilyn Lester (February 1974). "News as Purposive Behavior: On the Strategic Use of Routine Events, Accidents, and Scandals". American Sociological Review 39: 101–112. 
  5. ^ A "criminal act" includes a matter in which a crime has been established, or a matter has been deemed a likely crime by the relevant law enforcement agency or judicial authority.