Wikipedia:Wikipuffery

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Wikipuffery is the puffing or "larding" done by Wikipedia editors in articles, often in misguided good faith, as a way of exaggerating the notability of article subjects to avoid deletion of the article. Symptoms include use of peacock adjectives such as "notable" to describe trivial accomplishments, making unsubstantiated claims using adjectives such as "award-winning" or "influential", providing a detailed listing of minor biographical details (such as specific radio show appearances, appearances on talk shows, and minor speeches given), and using POV-filled lead paragraphs that boldly proclaim the superiority of the subject to "sliced bread".

These articles may have lots of footnotes to non-reliable sources (MySpace, Facebook, etc) or to sources that do not specifically mention the subject, and the stilted language resulting when editors stitch together passing references in reliable sources in consecutive sentences to make it appear as if there has been significant independent coverage of the subject. Synthesis of published material to reach a novel conclusion is also a common trait. A Rolling Stone article says that "young garage bands are reinvigorating the music industry". Since the article subject is a garage band, the editor then does a novel synthesis: "Rolling Stone magazine suggests that young garage bands like XXX are 'reinvigorating the music industry'".

Wikipuffery can occur in an article on any topic. However, some topics are more prone to Wikipuffery than others. Articles about bands, especially non-notable garage bands and college bands, tend to have a lot of Wikipuffery. If the band plays an unpaid warm-up spot at a music festival for a well-known local band which opened for the special guests to the headliners (say, Metallica), the article will deceptively inform the reader that the band "opened for Metallica". Articles about individuals who have attained a fleeting celebrity for their involvement in a reality TV show or a highly-publicized brush with the law may also have Wikipuffery, as some editors try to "plump up" the article with trivial references to keep the article from being deleted.

Anti-"reliable sources"-ism[edit]

Conversely, but far less regularly, the opposite effect, Anti-"reliable sources"-ism, may occur. This is normally manifested in cases where editors remove relevant and encyclopedic information from an article and/or its main factor of notability. This can sometimes occur in articles about celebrities in which the majority of the information that is added is trivial gossip and innuendo sourced from tabloid websites and POV praise sourced from non-reliable sources such as fan websites. In these types of articles, attempts to add information about the individual from reputable sources may be deleted. For example, in the case of a Hollywood actor who is better known for debauchery and scandal than acting skill, quotations from a reputable source such as a Variety or Time magazine film review that criticizes his acting skills may be deleted.

Related issues that should be distinguished[edit]

Wikipuffery should be distinguished from the promotional language that results from doing "cut and pastes" from advertising websites about the article topic (a copyright violation), even though the effect (vague, unsubstantiated positive claims) is similar. Conversely, efforts to do anti-puffery and delete references to reputable sources should be distinguished from situations of conflict of interest, in which an editor with connections to the article topic tries to remove any negative coverage of the article topic—even if it comes from the most reputable sources. Protection against both may be sought in examination of any source material provided; one reference to Encyclopedia Britannica is better than fifty MySpace references.

An opposing view[edit]

Wikipuffery may sometimes be used inaptly to disparage good-faith efforts of those engaged in the improvement of articles of questionable or marginal notability, by lumping good-faith actions (e.g., adding tangential sources and trivial references) and bad-faith actions (e.g., doing a novel synthesis) together and implying that together such actions are at best useless and at worst harmful to the encyclopedia. Be sure to examine each claim and source on its own merits, being aware that some editors treat Wikipedia:Articles for deletion as a battle to be won on either side.

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