Wikipedia:Notability/Historical/Non-notability

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"Notability criteria" can be more practically and efficiently met by referring to existing official guidelines or policy. Editors are encouraged to assess articles on grounds of verifiability, original research, neutrality, and What wikipedia is not instead of resorting to vague words such as "notability". This concept does not override either the five pillars or any other existing policy; it simply encourages editors to use policy rather than the abstract concept of notability.

Definitions of "notable"[edit]

According to a dictionary, "notable" can refer to one of two general concepts:

  • "Notable" can mean "worthy of note". A "note" is a written record, so notable means "worthy of written records".
  • "Notable can refer to the concept of being important, significant, famous, unique, etc.

Of these two definitions, only the first is in line with Wikipedia policy and practice.

Reasons for including articles on non-notable topics[edit]

Ways of improving non-notable articles[edit]

An article on a non-notable subject can develop in various ways:

  1. Articles that lack quality can be tagged as such, or readers can judge for themselves that a page is not written with the same standards as other articles. A suggested fix is to specially mark articles of quality, and also articles without quality.
  2. Categories can be reorganized or further split off to form smaller more specific categories in which to place topics of differing degrees of fame.
  3. Articles on non-verifiable subjects, or topics that directly violate official policy leave themselves open to being deleted.

These solutions are proposed to fix any potential problems associated with having articles of varying quality and size on Wikipedia (this happens anyhow, notwithstanding non-notability). Articles on topics which "will be significant one day" may fall foul of "Wikipedia is not a crystal ball". The subject should be judged as it is known now outside Wikipedia, not the current or potential content. Some articles are said to be incapable of being written in a NPOV fashion - however that is simply another crystal-ball judgement on the integrity of future editors.

One exception is living people. These articles require careful handling, and articles which are uncomplimentary and hard to verify should be fixed or deleted as soon as possible.

Improve the article

Follow the suggestions in the {{Sofixit}} template, and be bold! Edit the article so that it establishes the importance of the subject. Let's say you come across this stub:
Eric Moussambani is a swimmer from Equatorial Guinea.
Verifiable, factual, neutral, but fails to make any assertion of importance. But we know there is more to it than that! How about expanding it to read:
Eric "The Eel" Moussambani is a swimmer from Equatorial Guinea who achieved worldwide fame after finishing in the slowest time ever recorded in the Men's 100m Freestyle finals at the 2000 Summer Olympics. Moussambani had never seen a 50m pool before the competition.
The subject now asserts importance! The problem is gone.

Merging

Information which is verifiable can be merged into a more major article, so as to make the information easier to find and manage (but not so as to give it undue weight). If merging the information would put undue weight on a main article; and the separating out of the information does not constitute a point of view fork; and it does not violate official policy or guidelines, then the information may be kept on its own page rather than merged. However, note also that though a minority view may be spelled out in great detail, to maintain our neutral point of view it should not be represented as the truth. Further, the separate page should refer back to the main article.

Userfying

Articles about garage bands whose lead singer matches the name of the user who created the article are a common occurrence on Wikipedia, and are frequent cases of non-notable content. These and similar instances can be moved to the user's space by any editor, and the remaining redirect can be tagged for speedy deletion as a cross-namespace redirect. You can leave a polite notice such as {{nn-userfy}} to explain what you did, and why (and don't forget to {{Welcome}} them!).

Transwiki

Some information which has no place in an encyclopedia can find a happy home in a sister project such as wikibooks. However, most wikibook information not suitable for wikipedia can be condensed and summarized so that it is encyclopedic.

Tagging for cleanup

The {{Notability}} template is one of many standard templates which can be applied to an article which fails to establish the importance of its subject. See the cleanup resources page for more details of these.

Deleting

If an article cannot be merged or by nature of the subject conform to policy, then it can be deleted if sufficient consensus is reached, via Speedy deletion, Proposed deletion, or Articles for deletion. Now for an important caveat: This is a last resort and should only be used if the subject of the article is the problem, rather than the article's content. Indeed, it is most likely a failing of the article content if it fails to explain why the subject is notable, so always try to fix content before deleting a subject. If the subject so obscure that the article cannot be improved, then it is a candidate for speedy deletion and should be listed there after a reasonable amount of time per CSD-A1 or CSD-A3.

Misconceptions - Non-notability is not...[edit]

Non-notability is often assumed to be equivalent or related to one or more of the deficiencies listed in the following subsections. These are not allowed on Wikipedia for their own individual reasons, under specific policies or guidelines. When deciding an article's worthiness for Wikipedia, be sure the article is judged against these specific criteria, not against notability per se.

Non-verifiability[edit]

All information on Wikipedia must be written from an accessible and reliable source. While non-verifiable information is often not notable either (such as what I have in my pocket), in many cases non-notable information is verifiable. For example, Qubit Field Theory is a little known quantum theory but is certainly verifiable. Something is verifiable only if it can be substantiated from reliable sources that can be verified by wikipedians. It is not sufficient for an article to be simply theoretically verifiable. If the only source about something is its promoter and their press releases, it is not verifiable. Look for multiple non-trivial mentions in independent academic or mainstream publications: the article must be verifiable from reliable secondary sources.

"It isn't the lack of fame that makes the page objectionable, it's the lack of verifiability."
– Jimbo Wales [1] ("writing only as another user, not as The Jimbo")

Non-neutrality[edit]

Neutrality is non-negotiable. By extension we must not give undue weight to minor points of view. We must therefore be able to verify that a subject is covered neutrally. The section on undue weight notes however that minor points of view can be given as much attention as major points of view, in articles specifically devoted to those minor points of view.

An article may not include information that arbitrarily favors one side or another. However, point of view in non-notable articles (as in notable articles) is most often written by an editor who has knowledge or interest in the subject, and who may contribute intended or unintended bias. This is a fixable problem, and biased non-notable articles can just as easily be corrected as biased notable articles, provided that the subject has been covered widely enough that there is informed discussion available for reference.

Non-encyclopedic[edit]

In a paper encyclopedia, non-notable topics are not included for practical purposes. Wikipedia, however, is a very different model not confined by this limitation. As the word "encyclopedia" is defined by dictionaries, notability is not a requirement; The Star Trek Encyclopedia is an encyclopedia, for instance. (Note that The Star Trek Encyclopedia differs from Wikipedia is several key ways, particularly in that it relies on one singular primary source and that it is in an in-universe style.) See also an essay section which argues against the claim that "Minor issues are not encyclopedic".

Original research[edit]

Non-notable articles may consist of large amounts of original research. However, this is definitely not always the case. Non-notable subjects are subject to the same scrutiny of original research as notable pages are. Wikipedia is not the place to premiere this research, notable or not.

See also[edit]

Existing practice

Proposals

Essays