Wikipedia:Trivial mentions

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The general notability guideline arguably states that sources that only mention a topic in "one sentence" are insufficient to establish that topic's notability, and clearly states that "trivial mentions" of a topic are insufficient.

Quotes from Notability[edit]

The general notability guideline states that:

  • If a topic has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject, it is presumed to satisfy the inclusion criteria for a stand-alone article or stand-alone list.

The meaning of significant coverage is explained:

  • "Significant coverage" means that sources address the subject directly in detail, so no original research is needed to extract the content. Significant coverage is more than a trivial mention but it need not be the main topic of the source material.

A footnote indicates the meaning of trivial mention using an example:

  • The one sentence mention by Walker of the band Three Blind Mice in a biography of Bill Clinton ("In high school, he was part of a jazz band called Three Blind Mice.") is plainly trivial.

Alternative view 1: Single sentences are inherently insignificant coverage[edit]

Wikipedia articles need to include verifiable evidence of the topic's notability from reliable independent sources. The guideline states that these sources need to provide "significant coverage" of the topic, and this coverage must consist of more than a "trivial mention". The guideline has long stated that a one sentence mention is plainly trivial.

Alternative view 2: Single sentences are not inherently insignificant coverage[edit]

The general notability guideline does not clearly state that a single sentence never constitutes significant coverage. What it actually says is that a particular single sentence does not constitute significant coverage. The single sentence in question is "In high school, he was part of a jazz band called Three Blind Mice." The general notability guideline does not expressly say that any other single sentence does not constitute significant coverage and there are a number of serious problems that prevent what it does say about the example that it gives from being generalized to all sentences:

  • The example is a single sentence in a single source. It is possible to imagine a topic being covered in multiple sources each of which contains a single sentence. The number of such sources might be extremely large. The sum total of such coverage is not a single sentence. Moreover the sum total of information in the sources might be much larger than the amount of information contained in the example.
  • The example is fourteen words long. There is however no limit to the length of a sentence, and it is possible to imagine a sentence which is much longer than fourteen words. The amount of information that a sentence can contain is limited by its length.
  • The example only contains a certain amount of information about its subject matter. It is possible to imagine a sentence that contains far more information about its subject matter, either because that sentence is much longer, or because of the style in which it is written, such as by dispensing with unnecessary words (The sentence "Three Blind Mice was Bill Clinton's high school jazz band" conveys the same information as the example in fewer words).
  • The information given in the example could arguably be conveniently merged into the article Bill Clinton (or some spin off article that deals with his time at high school), rendering a separate article on the band redundant. It is possible to imagine a sentence that contains information that could not be conveniently merged into a broader topic.
  • The information contained in the example is arguably of no importance, or of low importance, because it relates to a high school jazz band. It is possible to imagine a sentence that contains information that is far more important. (An extreme case would be a sentence that read "Vespasian was Roman emperor from 69 to 79", which contains information of exceptional importance which would certainly indicate the notability of Vespasian even if no other sources were available).
  • Finally, the example might simply be wrong. The jazz band which is the subject of the example has a Wikipedia article (3 Kings (jazz trio)) which has never been deleted, merged or redirected on any grounds. Since that article has a number of other sources we can never know what would actually happen if an article based only on the example was nominated for deletion.
    • Another argument for this possibility is that GNG seems to say that coverage is significant if it allows the content to be extracted without original research. One could, without original research, write an article on the jazz band, using no source other than the example. An article, cited to the example, that read "Three Blind Mice was a high school jazz band. One of its members was Bill Clinton." would not contain any original research.

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