Wikipedia:Other stuff exists
|This guidance essay contains comments and advice of one or more Wikipedia contributors. It is not a Wikipedia policy or guideline, though it may be consulted for assistance. A potential measure of how the community views this essay may be gained by consulting the history and talk pages, and checking What links here.|
|This page in a nutshell: In Wikipedia discussions, people often argue that their subject of discussion must exist because other such stuff already exists. The question to ask is: "Is there a good rationale for their existence?" Because sometimes, other stuff should not come to being either.|
In discussions, editors will inevitably point to similarities across the project as reasons to keep, delete, or create a particular type of content, article or policy. Sometimes these comparisons are invalid, and sometimes they are valid. The invalid comparisons are generally so painfully invalid that there has been a backlash against the "other stuff exists" type of rationales.
When used correctly though, these comparisons are important as the encyclopedia should be consistent in the content that it provides or excludes. Trouble arises when legitimate comparisons, either by analogy with existing or non-existing article kinds, are disregarded without thought or consideration of the Wikipedia:Five pillars.
Deletion of articles
The claim of "Other Stuff Exists" most often arises in article deletion debate, where it is often used in a poor manner. Examples:
- Keep There's an article on x, and this is just as famous as that. –LetsKeepIt! 04:04, 4 April 2004 (UTC)
- Delete We do not have an article on y, so we should not have an article on this. –GetRidOfIt! 04:04, 4 April 2004 (UTC)
The nature of Wikipedia means that you cannot make a convincing argument based solely on what other articles do or do not exist; because there is nothing stopping anyone from creating any article (except for a salting, which is only performed in dire cases). While these comparisons are not a conclusive test, they may form part of a cogent argument; an entire comment should not be dismissed because it includes a comparative statement like this. Plenty of articles exist that probably should not. Equally, a lot of articles do not exist that probably should. Therefore, just pointing out that an article on a similar subject exists does not prove that the article in question should also exist; it is quite possible that the other article should also be deleted but nobody has noticed it. However, threats to actually put these other articles forward for AfD after a debate closes may be interpreted as all-or-nothing reasoning. Sometimes arguments are made that other articles have been put forward for AfD and survived/deleted (the most famous example being the Pokémon test); these may be effective arguments, but even here caution should be used.
In general, these deletion debates should focus mainly on the nominated article. In consideration of precedent and consistency, though, identifying articles of the same nature that have been established and continue to exist on Wikipedia may provide extremely important insight into general notability of concepts, levels of notability (what's notable: international, national, regional, state, provincial?), and whether or not a level and type of article should be on Wikipedia. When an editor introduces a novel type of article in Wikipedia, it may be necessary, however, to consider whether such organization of material is compliant with core policies such as neutral point of view and no original research. Other editors may argue that a certain type of articles doesn't exist because of inherent violations of said policies; see WP:ATTACK for example. Dismissing such concerns simply by pointing to this essay is inappropriate.
Deletion debates can sometimes be faulty; even if the debate was correct, it can be hard to draw comparisons: would the fact that there is an article on every Grey's Anatomy character mean there necessarily should be an article on every character on The Office? Comparisons can be highly subjective, and so it is better to look at the debates in question and see what policies were cited and make an argument based on how they apply to the current debate than just say "x was kept so this should be too". However, a small number of debates do receive wide participation and result in a decision that is effectively final, until new evidence comes along. If you reference such a past debate, and it is clearly a very similar case to the current debate, this can be a strong argument that should not be discounted because of a misconception that this section is a blanket ban on ever referencing other articles or deletion debates.
The generic form of this argument, that "loads of other crap articles exist" is also common. However, Wikipedia recognizes that it suffers from systemic bias (see WP:BIAS). Sometimes the nomination of one of a series of articles that have relatively equal merit would further the bias (e.g., deletion of Fooian this but not XYZian this if XYZian represents the culture of the majority on Wikipedia) – note that this argument differs from Fooian this vs. Fooian that or Fooian this vs. XYZian that.
Creation of articles
When applied to creation of articles, this concept must demonstrate that articles of a similar nature and construct are included throughout Wikipedia. For instance:
- Each Star Trek series has an episode list and individual articles for each episode: List of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, List of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes, List of Star Trek: Voyager episodes, etc. show that episodes all have their own articles. Thus it is reasonable to expect that, using these as precedent for content inclusion, that Star Trek: Enterprise can also have an episode list as well as articles on each individual episode, as there is no fundamental difference between the various Star Trek series.
Be wary of this logic, though, across topics of differing similarities. The same is not necessarily applicable to vastly different core topics or to every aspect of a topic. For example:
- Some participants from reality shows are seen as deserving of their own page due to their notability, such as Survivor's Earl Cole and Yau-Man Chan, Kid Nation's Taylor Ann DuPriest, and Big Brother's Anna Nolan, Craig Phillips, and Nick Bateman. The existence of these articles does not imply that every participant in a reality show can have an article about them. In fact, most do not and instead a conglomerate (summary) page is made, e.g. List of Survivor (U.S. TV series) contestants, List of Kid Nation participants, and List of Big Brother 2005 housemates (UK).
While the Wikipedia community discusses the concept of "inherent notability"—meaning that there is a class of subjects in which every subject in the class could be a stand-alone Wikipedia article—the concept is in limited practice through the use of precedent.
As an example, generally speaking, any high school is deemed to be sufficiently notable for an article, but lower-level schools are generally not. While not a hard-and-fast rule, this is the status quo for Wikipedia inclusion and is consistently maintained through discussions of various schools, school districts, and their creatability and keepability (or lack thereof). Thus "inherent notability" is basically codification of "Other Stuff exists".
Precedent in usage
Though a lot of Wikipedia's styles are codified in policy, to a large extent minor details are not. In cases such as these, an "Other Stuff Exists"–type of argument or rationale may provide the necessary precedent for style and phraseology.
- For instance, when an actor recently died suddenly, a discussion broke out about adding "the late" before his name in one of his movie pages. In order to judge the necessity of such a phrase, other articles of famous deceased actors could be checked, which was done. Generally, these other articles do not use this sort of reference, and thus the newest article did not. While not a strict OSE reasoning, the overarching concept remains, that of precedent and consistency throughout the Wikipedia project.
- In categories of items with a finite number of entries where most are notable, it serves no useful purpose to endlessly argue over the notability of a minority of these items. For example, there have been AfD discussions for articles on individual area codes listed in the List of North American Numbering Plan area codes. Currently all links to area codes in use are blue links, which serves the purpose of Wikipedia being a comprehensive reference. Note that some links are redirects to merged pages of related groupings such as overlay plans, so normal rules of editing still apply.
- WP:Inclusion is not an indicator of notability
- WP:Pokémon test
- "Don't add sewage to the already polluted pond"
- WP:Ignore all precedent