Wikipedia:Example cruft

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Encyclopedia articles are a summary of accepted knowledge on a given subject. In making an appropriate summary, this will involve describing theories and observations that come from mainstream scholarship and news. Naturally, every theory can be demonstrated with a list of examples or counter-examples. However, this tends to make articles less readable and reliable, as discussing too many examples will take the article further from its original point.

Writing about examples of the phenomenon[edit]

Sometimes it is useful to describe one example of a concept, or even a few. But remember that articles are meant to help readers understand a phenomenon. Before adding another example, ask yourself if you are doing it to help readers understand the phenomenon, or if you are merely showing off your ability to apply the phenomenon.

If the number of examples in an article becomes too long, consider pruning them, or creating a separate list at the bottom of the article. In cases where the list of examples as a whole has verifiable cultural significance, consider creating a separate article.

Writing about exceptions to the phenomenon[edit]

Any theory or phenomenon lacking a reliable source directly supporting may be removed. But avoid removing theories attributed to a reliable sources without discussing it first.

A theory that appears in many reliable sources should never be removed, even if that theory is not 100% true. The standard for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. Rather than engaging in original research by trying to invalidate a theory you disagree with, look for criticism of that theory from reliable sources on the subject. It is always preferable to describe an alternative explanation from a reliable source, rather than synthesizing a thousand counter-examples.

Balancing coverage of a phenomenon with intelligent criticism is a part of creating a neutral encyclopedia. However, counter-examples and criticisms that come from sources that are unreliable or thoroughly discredited should be removed. Wikipedia is not a compilation of every fringe theory or opinion piece about a subject. Treat each perspective on a topic with proportional weight.

See also[edit]


Policies and guidelines[edit]