Wikipedia:Notability (fiction)/2008 proposal

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For information about writing articles on fiction, refer to Manual of Style (Writing about fiction).

Wikipedia:Notability (fiction) covers the general notability of works of fiction including individual episodes of serialized works such as television or comic book series, as well as fictional elements such as characters, items and places within a work of fiction. For more specific notability guidelines on works of fiction presented in specific forms of media, see the following guidelines:

Defining notability for fiction[edit]

This guideline is based on three excerpts:

From Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not#PLOT:

Wikipedia articles on published works (such as fictional stories) should contain real-world context and sourced analysis, offering detail on a work's development and historical significance, not solely a detailed summary of that work's plot. This applies to both stand-alone works and series. A concise plot summary is appropriate as part of the larger coverage of a fictional work.

From Wikipedia:Notability:

A topic is presumed to be notable if it has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject.

From Wikipedia:Editing policy:

Whatever you do, endeavour to preserve information. Instead of deleting: try to rephrase; correct the inaccuracy while keeping the content; move text within an article or to another article (existing or new); add more of what you think is important to make an article more balanced; or request a citation by adding the {{fact}} tag. Exceptions include: duplication or redundancy; irrelevancy; patent nonsense; copyright violations; or inaccuracy (attempt to correct the misinformation or discuss the problems first before deletion).

For articles on fiction, reliable sources may cover such things as design, development, reception and cultural impact. This is real-world coverage because it describes the real-world aspects of the work. Fictional coverage describes the work's fictional elements, such as the setting, characters, and story.

Based on this reasoning and the above excerpts, fictional concepts can be presumed notable if they have received significant real-world coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject. However, notability for individual topics on fiction should be judged on a case-by-case basis while following Wikipedia's core policies of verifiability, no original research and neutral point of view.

Demonstrating notability[edit]

Works of fiction[edit]

Articles on a work of fiction (a book, movie, television series, video game, or other medium) should demonstrate real-world notability from reliable sources. Articles on of works of fiction should strive to include information on critical reception, viewings or sales figures, development and other information from reliable sources.

Certain media have additional notability guidelines: WP:BK for books and printed material, WP:MOVIE for films, and WP:TOY for toys, traditional games, and video games. A work of fiction is presumed to be notable if it meets the general notability guideline, the guidelines presented here, or the guidelines specific to its medium.

Elements of fiction[edit]

Elements of a work of fiction, including individual stories, episodes, characters, settings, and other topics, are presumed to be notable if there is significant coverage of the element(s) in reliable secondary sources. For fictional elements, this will typically include the real-world context and analysis of the elements, and can include influence and other aspects of its development, critical reception of the elements, and popularity of the element through readership/viewership ratings and marketing. Notability of an element may also be shown through secondary-source analysis of the main work of fiction, citing the importance of the element to the work. Reputable academic studies of individual elements may also demonstrate notability.

Data such as actors, cast and crew, publication and airing dates, appearances in a larger body of works, and production codes, while useful and sometimes necessary data for articles on fictional elements, are not sufficient for notability as these are trivial data that can be learned for any other work in the same medium by reviewing the original work or through sites and resources such as IMDB or TV Guide. Evidence of notability should explain what is special about the topic, such as awards, rankings, sales figures or studies and analyses specifically relating to the element in question.[1][2] Notability, in accordance with this guidance, is best demonstrated through citations to reliable secondary sources.

Notability may be shown for an individual element[3] or for a certain grouping of elements, commonly characters or episodes.[4] When notability can be shown, the element or grouping of elements merits a separate article. This article should be summarized in the parent article, and {{main}} or {{see also}} templates should be used to direct users to where they may find more information.[5] Further details can be found in the Summary style approach section of Manual of Style (Writing about Fiction).

However, even where an element or group of elements is notable, it may be more appropriate to include the information in an article on the work itself if:

Fictional elements as part of a larger topic[edit]

If consensus on a fictional element is that it is of unproven notability, editors should seek to retain the information where it can improve the encyclopedia. Such coverage may be placed as part of the main article on the work of fiction, or if better suited, an article on another, notable fictional element. If this makes the main article too long, per Wikipedia's article size guidelines, then there are several steps to consider:

  • Trim away unneccessary material to reduce the size of the article. The approach to covering non-notable fictional elements is more fully described in Manual of Style (Writing about Fiction), but in general, non-notable fictional elements should only be given sufficient information for the reader to understand its relationship within the entire work.
  • Transwiki material that may be of trivial, or of only highly detailed interest, to the general reader. It is still appropriate to leave some mention of non-notable elements within the Wikipedia article, while linking to the other wiki for more details.
  • Merge coverage of less-notable elements to into a list article as described below.

Creating fictional element lists[edit]

Where none of the above steps can resolve the length problem without damaging encyclopedic coverage of the work, groupings of individually non-notable elements can merit their own supporting articles; this should be considered only for highly notable works,[6] and the information within the supporting articles should not exceed the necessary depth of coverage for the main article's topic. Under current practice, these supporting articles are generally one of the following two types of list:

  • Lists of characters in a highly-notable work or series of works.
  • Lists of episodes or serial elements in a serial work.

If the resulting list would be too large without exceeding the necessary depth of coverage, elements may be grouped into smaller lists. To avoid undue weight on a subtopic, the smaller lists should correspond to either highly notable[6] fictional subtopics or divisions of the work, or a real-world division.[7] Lists of elements corresponding to a less-notable topic could still appear as sections in an article on that topic. For divisions by fictional characteristics, consider the use of categories to categorise redirects to individual list elements.

Subject-specific guidelines may limit these cases, or give other cases when such articles are considered appropriate. Articles that fail to meet these requirements can have their inclusion challenged through a deletion debate and are often deleted through editorial consensus. Articles that fail to meet the guidelines presented in Manual of Style (Writing About Fiction) can also be challenged and deleted or improved to meet our style.

Depth of coverage[edit]

Articles on fiction should be structured around evaluations and critiques of the work or topic, with an appropriate balance of real-world and plot information, as outlined at Manual of Style (Writing about fiction). The size of a plot summary is often determined by building consensus for each article on a case by case basis. Editors should compare approaches taken on featured and good articles about fiction for examples of length and tone.

Depth of coverage within an article should be guided by the amount of real-world information which can be sourced. A single movie, book, video game, or other work of fiction has most likely not generated substantial[8] coverage in sources which Wikipedia can summarize. Therefore, the article will be able to summarize those sources in one article. On the other hand, a series of books, television shows, or video games could contain elements which are better covered in a separate article or articles, helping to provide suitable background and supplementary information for each work within the series. See elements of fiction above for more details.

At times, better depth of coverage may be accomplished by combining notable and non-notable elements into a single topic, such as a character cast or a single season of a television show, instead of individual elements. WikiProjects that deal with fiction have guidelines describing what depth of coverage should be provided for plot information relative to the length of the original work. The complexity of the work should also be taken into a consideration; uses of certain creative elements (such as time travel or flashbacks) may require more detail to clearly explain the concepts in an encyclopedic manner.

If there is an imbalance of fictional information in an article, consider trimming the text or moving the fictional information to an appropriate GFDL-compatible Wiki.

Dealing with non-notable fictional topics[edit]

Editors may request evidence of the notability of any article, including those on fictional elements, either through in discussion on the article talk page or by the addition of a {{notability}} template on the article itself. Articles on fictional topics that lack demonstrated notability should be improved either by adding demonstrated notability, or by other editing actions such as trimming, merging, or moving content to another Wiki.

Nevertheless, the lack of demonstrated notability is not one of the criteria for speedy deletion, and good faith improvements are expected as part of the editing process. Editors should review specific guidelines or approaches outlined in the appropriate WikiProject, such as Wikiproject Television or WikiProject Films. Other concerns about dealing with fictional notability can be raised at the Fiction-related Noticeboard.

First and foremost, if you can provide reliably sourced, verifiable information on real-world facts that establish the notability of the topic, be bold and include it in the article. Here are additional suggestions to improve articles that lack demonstration of notability:

  • If you believe the article will never have a chance of demonstrating notability or cannot be merged elsewhere, and that its deletion is unlikely to be contested, place the article up for proposed deletion. A character in a TV show that only appeared on-screen for a few seconds and is never referred to otherwise is probably non-notable; however, by using the proposed deletion process, someone may be able to provide the required evidence of notability. If you are unsure if this is the correct step, then do not perform this step.
  • Inform the editors of the article on the article's talk page of your concern about the lack of notability. This can also be done by tagging the article with the {{notability}} tag on the article page, though it is recommended to discuss your concerns with the editors as well in this case. If many such articles within the same fictional universe exist in a similar state, attempt to find a project or task force page for that fictional work and let the editors there know your concerns.
  • If the article can be grouped with an existing article or other articles on the same type of fictional elements, then it may be appropriate to discuss a potential merge. This may require that information be trimmed from the article. If articles are merged, leave redirection pages in their place to the appropriate page, and link the old article or articles in your edit summary to comply with the GFDL. Consider using redirection templates to help track such redirects. You can boldly merge articles, but consensus will often be required before major changes are accepted by the community.
  • If an existing GFDL-compatible wiki for the fictional topic exists, suggest transwiki'ing the information. Again, articles that are moved should be replaced with redirection pages.
  • If the above options have been considered and determined to not be possible or if you feel that any action taken has not remedied the situation, it may be appropriate to nominate the article for deletion where the merits of the article can be debated. However, this should be considered carefully for an article that otherwise does not violate any further Wikipedia policies or guidelines such as those regarding original research or verifiability.

Editors are cautioned against performing the above actions on numerous articles en masse; an Arbitration Committee case stated that editors are "urged to work collaboratively and constructively with the broader community and the editors committed to working on the articles".

Relocating non-notable fictional material[edit]

Wikibooks, Wikipedia's sibling project, contains instructional and educational texts. These include annotated works of fiction (on the Wikibooks:annotated texts bookshelf) for classroom or private study use. Wikisource, similarly, holds original public domain and GFDL source texts. See Wikisource:Wikisource and Wikibooks. One possible action to consider is to make use of all of the Wikimedia projects combined: to have an encyclopedia article about the work of fiction on Wikipedia giving a brief outline, a chapter-by-chapter annotation on Wikibooks, the full source text on Wikisource (if the work is in the public domain), and interwiki links joining them all together into a whole. However, Wikibooks opposes books on fiction, so it is not an appropriate place to transwiki large quantities of fictional material.

Fictional material unsuited or too detailed for Wikipedia can be transwikied to a appropriate GFDL-compatible wiki, such as Wookieepedia or WoWWiki; editors should check with related Wikiprojects to determine if a specific wiki has been selected for transwiking materials. Any transwikied material should be edited to meet the guidelines of specific wikis.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ An example of a plaudit given for fictional elements that speaks directly to notability is AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains, selected by a respected body on the basis of clear criteria; fan polls will not generally indicate notability, although coverage of the poll result in media or academic sources may do so.
  2. ^ It is not generally a sufficient indicator of notability for an award to be given for a fictional topic, or for a fictional work to have high figures according to primary sources; however, these are often discussed in secondary coverage which, if significant, may be used to establish the notability of the fictional topic in question. In some cases, however, a plaudit is of sufficient stature to represent sufficient coverage in itself; it is rare that such will have been given without coverage in other secondary sources, and exceptional evidence will be required to justify any element as notable on the basis of an award alone.
  3. ^ For example Superman, Jason Voorhees, Troy McClure, Pauline Fowler and Hell Is Other Robots
  4. ^ For example Characters of Kingdom Hearts or Smallville (season 1)
  5. ^ For example, an overview of Characters of Carnivàle is provided by the "Cast" section of Carnivàle, while a brief summary of Squall Leonhart is included in Characters of Final Fantasy VIII to compare with other listed characters
  6. ^ a b Highly notable works are taken as those that substantially exceed the minimum standards for notability, having large coverage in secondary sources. This would typically include those that have been the subject of extensive academic analysis.
  7. ^ Regardless of how the split is broken up, the list article title should clearly indicate the work of fiction as part of the title; 'List of Jedi characters' would not be an appropriate title, but 'List of Jedi characters from Star Wars' would be.
  8. ^ This guideline does not offer a numeric threshold for how much coverage qualifies as "substantial". We cannot rule on every instance, and there is a vast difference between the coverage the Harry Potter books have received and the coverage The Dark Secret of Weatherend has received, with many falling into a grey area left to editorial consensus. Where disputes cannot be resolved, please list them at various venues to encourage wider participation and the building of consensus. WP:FICT/N is one such venue.