Wikipedia:Informative/Old

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Content on Wikipedia must be informative (that is, containing information), as well as being verifiable and of a neutral point of view. This is because Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, and the purpose of an encyclopedia is to inform.

Information, for the purposes of Wikipedia, is either actionable or interesting.

Actionable[edit]

A piece of information is actionable if it might be used to do something, and actioned if it has been used to do something. Everything actioned is therefore actionable. For example:

  • Einstein's theory of relativity is actioned, as it is used in a wide range of scientific endeavours.
  • The theory that bread always lands butter side down is actioned, as it has been empirically tested by countless school children, as well as various purer treatments by mathematicians and physicists.
  • Alicia's theory that the raindrops falling on her head increase when she's singing in the rain is not actionable, as nobody takes her seriously, and even if they did, it wouldn't be good for much.
  • The birthday of Alicia's cat is not actionable, as the cat has been dead for two years, and even Alicia would struggle to remember the date if she hadn't written it down.
  • The birthday of the British Queen is actioned, as on certain anniversaries of it, all of the UK goes on holiday.
  • The birthday of Lev Borisovich Kamenev is actionable, as it can inform discussions of his age relative to contemporaries.

Interesting[edit]

By "interesting", we don't mean "interesting to everyone", or "interesting to you". Rather, we seek information that is potentially interesting to, at least, some small but significant proportion of the world's population. For example:

  • The date of the Battle of Hastings is interesting to people interested in 11th century history
  • The time that King Harold was killed in said battle is interesting to slightly obsessed historians of the Norman Conquest
  • The general diet of King Harold, as opposed to his contemporaries, is interesting to historians of 11th century nutrition.
  • The time that King Harold had breakfast 183 days prior to said battle is interesting to no-one, even if King Harold had kept a meticulous diary which has been preserved to the present day.
    • However, the diary itself would be both actionable and interesting to certain nutritionists and many historians.

If someone says they find something interesting, then they probably do, but this is not an excuse to include idiosyncratic information that really is found interesting only by this one person.

One type of uninteresting information is that which is obvious. Note that what is obvious to one person may not be obvious to someone else. However, sometimes things really are too obvious for words, and we'd rather live without them. For example:

One way to tell if something is too obvious is to ask if it is distinguished -- that is, does it set apart the subject of the article from other entities of the same general category? Every human being breathes; and all cities contain houses, flats, streets, and shops -- thus, these facts do not distinguish Ms. Thatcher or Worcester.

See also[edit]