- For guidelines regarding the relevance of articles or subjects as a whole, see Wikipedia:Notability. For guidance on the relevance of links to outside websites, see Wikipedia:External links. For information on what articles are appropriate (relevant) for Wikipedia, see the official policy: Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not. More specific guidelines for inclusion may be provided by a WikiProject whose scope includes the article in question.
|This essay contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.|
|This page in a nutshell: Wikipedia, by its nature, is an engine for discerning relevance.|
On Wikipedia, relevance is simply whether a fact is in the right article, based on whether it pertains to the article's subject. Usually this is obvious. When not obvious, relevance is decided by the editors of the article, based on what is considered likely to be useful to readers. The give and take between editors functions as a social-engine for discerning relevance. Wikipedia policy maintains the health of that social engine but does not itself act as an engine for discerning relevance.
In Wikipedia, rules constrain the social environment in which editors participate so that editors remain free to determine what is relevant. There are no rules for determining what is relevant, however the below, by their obviousness, exist as guiding principles (virtual rules) for discerning relevance.
Content must be about the subject of the article
In most cases, material must simply be about the subject of the article to be relevant. In special cases, an indirect connection to the subject is also acceptable—see common exceptions, below.
Sometimes an article's content evolves beyond its original subject. If any content is relevant to other, existing, articles, the content should be moved into those articles. Alternately, a new article can be created to hold the merged content. If the article's subject expands to a broader scope, the article can be renamed (via the move tab) to reflect the new scope.
Ultimately, the content of articles in Wikipedia becomes more relevant through the give and take of editing articles. The basics:
- Determine relevance—when not obvious—through discussion at talk pages. Comments in edit summaries can also be useful, but are not a substitute for talk page discussion during a dispute.
- Even if material is specific to an article's subject, its relevance must still be demonstrated when challenged by another editor.
- The best way to establish relevance of material is to edit the article in ways that make its connection to the subject clearer.
- Always place the reason for removal of information in the edit summary.
- Move content to the appropriate article if it is not relevant to the current article.
Minor details must be appropriate
Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia, and there is little limit to the amount of information it can hold. However, adding as much information as possible is not always an improvement.
- Articles should be written in summary style
- Articles on very general subjects should concentrate on information that is strongly connected to the general subject. Example: President of the United States devotes a section to Removal from office, but only one or two sentences each to the impeachments of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, and the resignation of Richard Nixon.
- Articles on very specific subjects should provide greater detail on the specific instance. Example: Richard Nixon devotes a large section to Watergate; Watergate scandal goes into greater detail still.
- Information that is only tenuously connected to the subject of the article does not belong in the article at all. (It may belong in another article.) Example: The parody of Richard Nixon in The X-Presidents is not mentioned in the article on Richard Nixon
What relevance is not
Making claims of relevance by using similar concepts like "it is important" does not establish relevance. Claiming an indirect connection is usually not sufficient either. "Relevance" should also not be confused with "notability"; topics and facts within an article are not required to meet the standards of notability guidelines.
Normally, material must be directly about the subject of the article. However, two types of indirectly-related material are often acceptable:
- Facts needed to establish context for more-directly related material.
- Mentions of later works that have influenced the subject.