|This essay contains comments and advice of one or more Wikipedia contributors on the topic of notability. Essays may represent widespread norms or minority viewpoints. Consider these views with discretion. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines.|
|This page in a nutshell: Software articles should avoid promotional wording and establish significance. Consider the circumstances surrounding an article in relation to the type of sources used. Before nominating an unsourced article for deletion, make sure to verify that it is non-notable, not just missing citations|
The purpose of this essay is to provide commentary on the notability of software by measuring its technical or commercial achievements. Software includes all code or programming meant to be operated by a computer or dedicated computing device such as a game console. Note that this essay, like all notability essays, does not restrict article content. Rather, the purpose of a notability guideline is to provide guidance for deciding when a topic warrants a page of its own.
Promotion and scope
Software applications are products and fall under Wikipedia's criteria on advertisement. Thus, promotional wording like peacock terms and weasel words should be avoided. While primary/self-published citations may be used to verify information in an article, they do not establish notability.
It is long established that Wikipedia is not a primary source, nor a free wiki host. Wikipedia articles are not intended to be locations where primary source documentation for software packages is hosted. Wikipedia is also not a directory of all software packages that exist or that have ever existed. Articles falling under these categories should be transwikied (off wiki) and then deleted.
Software is notable if it meets any one of these criteria:
- The software is discussed in reliable sources as significant in its particular field. References that cite trivia do not fulfill this requirement. See following section for more information.
- The software is the subject of instruction at multiple grade schools, high schools, universities or post-graduate programs. This criterion does not apply to software merely used in instruction.
- The software is the subject of multiple printed third party manuals, instruction books, or reliable reviews, written by independent authors and published by independent publishers.
- It is published software that has been recognized as having historical or technical significance by reliable sources. However, the mere existence of reviews does not mean the software is notable. Reviews must be significant, from a reliable source, and/or assert notability.
Reliability and significance of sources
Common sense and an awareness of historical context should be used in determining whether coverage in sources found for software is in fact reliable and significant. Factors that may impact on the evaluation of sources include:
- The history of computing and of personal computers. Software from the era of 8-bit personal computers may be notable even if it was distributed or documented under pseudonyms.
- The way the software is distributed. It is not unreasonable to allow relatively informal sources for free and open source software, if significance can be shown. On the other hand, software that is distributed commercially or supported by businesses is a commercial product. Such sources should fulfill the breadth and depth of coverage required for a stand alone commercial product article.
- The state of the field in which the software operates. Wikipedia is not a directory of all software that can be confirmed to exist. Software that is just another entry in a crowded field will need more persuasively significant sources, of a kind that indicate that it stands out from the crowd. Notability of one package does not automatically mean that each of its competitors are notable as well.
- The state of the software itself. Software that is in closed beta testing stages need citations that show interest and development (ex. not vaporware) for an article prior to release. Wikipedia is not a crystal ball and notability can not be assumed. On the other hand, software of significant historical or technical importance is notable even if it is no longer in widespread use or distribution.
Editors should evaluate various aspects of the coverage: the depth, duration, geographical scope, diversity and reliability of the coverage. The depth of coverage in the sources should be significant and directly about the software. Coverage of the software in passing, such as being part of a how-to document, do not normally constitute significant coverage but should be evaluated. Inclusion of software in lists of similar software generally does not count as deep coverage.
Stories on software as the product of a local company in a small region may not be evidence of notability. The source of the reporting is important to evaluating whether the software is only important to a limited geographical scope.
Nominating for deletion
Before nominating an unsourced article for deletion, make sure to verify that it is non-notable, not just missing citations. One way to do this is to perform a Google books, Google news, or Google scholar search for the program in question if relevant. Simply stating "non notable" and "unreferenced" is not a valid criteria for deletion. Also keep in mind that the number of google hits itself do not impart notability, it is the quality of each source (or breadth of a search) that influences such numbers.
Any proposed deletion or AfD nomination of a software product should mention the sort of software it is, if that can be intelligibly derived from the article.
Remember to follow best practices when nominating articles for deletion, such as notifying contributing editors, and considering alternatives to deletion.
As with other essays and guidelines, this article is not intended to consider all circumstances. If in doubt, remember that rules are principles intended to guide decisions and that Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy. Go ahead and tag that article for deletion or present reasons to keep an article.
An ideal software article should include:
- A short overview
- An assertion of notability
- A software infobox with information on version number, developer, etc.
- An appropriate comparison/timeline of significant release versions.
Software articles should not have:
- Trivia sections
- Lists (release logs) of every released version. See Mozilla Firefox for an example of an appropriate release history containing only major and current versions.
- Notability, not existence, must be established by such citations without using WP:Synthesis.
- See, e.g. Trade Wars
- E.g., Usenet posts may be acceptable sources for some guy's homebrewed Unix clone.
- Notability, not existence, must be established by such citations without using WP:Synthesis. Sourceforge, independent project wiki's, and other self-published sites are excluded from this definition.
- E.g., Visicalc
- This is merely a suggestion. If the article is clearly spam or a hoax, go ahead and Prod/Speedy it.