Wikipedia talk:Notability/Historical/Fame and importance

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See Wikipedia_talk:Deletion_policy for more general deletion policy discussion.

This page contains a discussion of the following question:

Should lack of fame or importance be a legitimate reason to delete an article?

Clarification[edit]

This poll is not saying something has to be famous/important to be included in wikipedia. It says does there exist some threshold of fame/importance which articles should exceed, without specifying what that threshold should be. That is it is on the principle should we include articles on everything or require some level of fame/importance. --Imran 20:19, 29 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Really you should have asked the question about "fame" and the question about "importance" separately. They are different concepts, and it is certainly not the case that someone who agrees about one will agree about the other. -- Oliver P. 03:45, 2 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Yes[edit]

  1. Daniel C. Boyer - but perhaps these are not the right words to use, but subject of article must have some colourable basis for inclusion (have done or been involved in something of marginal significance, or have a status of at least marginal significance [e.g. children of royalty])
  2. Angela
  3. Ashibaka
  4. Imran
  5. Archivist
  6. Tempshill
  7. Jiang
  8. JeLuF
  9. Maximus Rex
  10. Dori
  11. Secretlondon - although needs quantifying.Obscure subjects are fine (and to be encouraged), articles aimed at children/young people are fine (all the video games etc), but someone who thinks they are a famous whatever and they are not, or someone who has a crank theory that exists only on usenet is not. Autobiographies are bad, self-promotion is bad.
  12. Wiwaxia
  13. Darkelf — but agreed with Secretlondon in that this needs some quantifying.
  14. Sean 23:21, 25 Jan 2004 (UTC)
  15. Tuf-Kat
  16. Kokiri
  17. Muriel - if not it would be unleashing hell
  18. Fennec - though it should not, of course, be the only criterion. If there are other reasons to delete as well, that would be better.
  19. Tompagenet - with common-sense (sic) applied to each case
  20. Bmills - but not on a simple Google hit count, please.
  21. UtherSRG
  22. Jimbo Wales - but see my NO vote as well! This vote is a token of expression of concern for the real issues that users in favor of this rule are raising, while my no vote below is an expression of where I think the real solution lies.
  23. Wolfram
  24. Finlay McWalter. Crap not promptly removed remains forever (and in practice gets wired into honest articles, until pages like List of historians is full only of those seeking to (vastly) enhance their Google presence, and the article becomes useless). Stuff that should be in the encyclopedia but is erroneously removed will (by definition) be reinserted (hopefully by someone else entirely). Yes, it's subjective - everything we all do here is subjective (bar those wikipedians who receive editing instructions de profundis). Wikipedia is not Angelfire.
  25. Texture - Encyclopedias do not contain "personals", resumes, or advertisements. Wikipedia is kind enough to allow personal user space for whatever you feel you need to say about yourself or others as long as you don't link to it from the general encyclopedia.
  26. Jwrosenzweig - I understand the concerns of those on the "No" side, but I personally have confidence in the names who are voting yes that we will not abuse this rule (if it goes into effect). If we use this rule to trample other people's beliefs and values, that will violate Wikiquette; if we use the rule (as I believe it is intended) to make the process of ridding ourselves of vanity-type articles easier and more painless, I think we'll all actually get along better.
  27. silsor
  28. Fuzheado, perhaps a better stating of the criterea, but some type of "importance" or "significance" is needed to be a Wikipedia article.
  29. Stewart Adcock - Yes, although being interesting should be enough to counteract such a deletion policy.
  30. -- uriber 13:59, 6 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  31. Actually, see Martin's "No" vote and Tuf Kat's Why post. TMC1221 00:10, Feb 7, 2004 (UTC)
  32. Jmabel 09:06, 13 Feb 2004 (UTC) & concur with Stewart Adcock; also, "important" may be to a small community, but should not be to a trivially small community (e.g. being the best swimmer in your high school shouldn't get you into wikipedia).
  33. RickK 03:27, 15 Feb 2004 (UTC) - it's not a blanket thing, of course, there are individual situations which need to be considered.
  34. Bryan This is subjective, of course, but at some point I think it's reasonable to say "nobody on Earth is going to be remotely interested in this" about some articles and just get rid of them. My standards are pretty low in this regard (I wrote Sidehill Gouger :) but they do exist.
  35. Nilmerg In my opinion, a person has to have done something significant to be included - for good or bad (granted, there was a British aristocrat - whose name I have forgotten - who was famous for spending most of his life in bed, but there is always an exception or thirteen). Of course and unfortunately, due to laws of newsworthiness, that would include, for example, serial killers but only a cursory mention of their victims. Otherwise, in the worst case, we would have to begin to write articles equivalent to List of couch potatoes who died peacefully in bed. - Nilmerg 13:13, 16 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  36. Oberiko: Personal webpages can easily be created on something like Geocities or one of the thousands of other webhosting services out there. Let's keep Wikipedia for content that could genuinely be researched. While it is difficult to quantify the exact amount of fame or noteriety needed, I think we can usually judge for ourselves what is and isn't important. Remember, there are over 6.5 billion people out there, each with their own story. I personally only want to find the ones that have had some notable impact on society.
  37. Ruhrjung 13:35, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC) - Yes.
  38. Iorsh 20:37, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC) - Yes.
  39. Axlrosen 18:20, 24 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  40. James F. (talk) 10:18, 26 Feb 2004 (UTC) - broadly agree with Secret, Jimbo
  41. — Sverdrup (talk) Fame and importance means that it has to have relevance and is interesting to the reader _not in the way a good novel is interesting_.
  42. BCorr ? Брайен 21:37, 26 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  43. Wik 20:45, Feb 29, 2004 (UTC)
  44. Rossami: To answer the Wikipedia is not paper argument, the issue is usability, not storage space. It's hard enough already to sort the wheat from the chaff. Authors and editors have to exercise some judgement. Fame is a rule of thumb to help.
  45. moink Encyclopedias are not places to list every human being.
  46. PilotPrecise While I don't believe that any quality be the sole determination for inclusion in an encyclopedia, there is a very real need for a standard of general significance to be enforced. This is true of any legitimate encyclopedia, this one included. Without explicit standards being set, not only does the general quality of the content come into question, this entire site becomes open for efforts that are guided by agendas other than the providing of information. And what is an encyclopedia if not authoritative? They provide explanation, but also context for a subject to which the general public refers. ((Ex. The Consequence of Agenda: An editor I've been dealing with is clearly using WP as a medium for promoting himself within a field he is not recognized, and has gone to rather elaborate efforts to do so. He is continually making pages or links that relate to his work, lacking any substantiation by people in the industry or community at large. Generally I can refer Wikipedia:No original research or remove the most egregious stuff (linking himself to 2004) in an edit with an explanation, but I'd really just prefer the option of establishing a lack of subject credibility (unpublished, undocumented, unsupported, and unestablished work) and move on rather than have to refight the same battle over and over. PilotPrecise 08:09, 5 March, 2004))
  47. Isomorphic Whether or not we think importance is a criterion, users will likely assume that we use it. Hence if we have articles on subjects that are far less notable than whatever else we have in the same general subject area, we potentially mislead the reader. Also we don't want to encourage self-promotion or we'll be overrun with it, and there are ways to self-promote that don't obviously violate the "original research" or "verifiability" clauses.
  48. In particular, there should be a need to have done something that is verifiable, preferably significant (by some measure: peer judgment, public acclaim, historic record...) and most of all not mere self-promotion or original research. -- The Anome 14:34, 11 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  49. I find it reasonable that a certain level of significance on some level should be reached to be included in a reference work. Satori 05:17, May 10, 2004 (UTC)
  50. yes, but only insomuch as is necessary for an article to be edited by the general user population. wikipedia is not paper, but non-verifiability due to obscurity is unacceptable. Badanedwa 23:18, Jun 24, 2004 (UTC)
  51. Yath 00:43, 7 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  52. JFW | T@lk 23:34, 15 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  53. Andre Engels 18:03, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC) - Every subject should have some notability/significance, and that reason should be mentioned. We don't need to lay the bar high, but we should not completely remove it either.
  54. Henrygb 16:55, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC) Notable and interesting should be the criteria. Some disambiguation lists are already too long such as John Smith. If you cannot find the article you are looking for because there is too much detail, then Wikipedia will have failed as an encyclopedia.
  55. --Idont Havaname 5 July 2005 00:51 (UTC)
  56. Cedars 8 July 2005 08:24 (UTC)
  57. --Elysianfields 01:16, 20 August 2005 (UTC)

Superposition of yes and no[edit]

  1. +sj+ 00:01, 2004 Feb 22 (UTC)

(earlier note:) I definitely agree that some view of the wikipedia should have fame and importance standards. I also definitely feel that acquiring as much NPOV information as possible is good. Some information not currently important may become so -- your local city councilman may become mayor, or an international talk-show-host star who later becomes governor. In which case it will be wonderful to have your old thoughts about him handy. And even if only twenty people in the world care about your information -- the local place-names for landmarks in your home village 40 miles outside of Islamabad, in all 12 regional dialects -- that's the kind of glorious archive that only a distributed encyclopedia can provide.

Suggestion -- perhaps a 'superencyclopedic' wiki could be created largely as a place to put all of these personal, local, and quaint articles which are regularly slated for deletion? a user's family tree, bios of "unimportant" people like the locak teachers and doctors who keep small communities together, neighborhood landmarks, etc. [anecdote: a high school kid in my neighborhood famously put up a site about how much the area sucked, w/photos of neighborhoods, quotes from the police blotter, etc. it ended up being a great introductino to new residents, and was mentioned quite favourably on a "welcome to our town" mailing list...]
Itai 11:41, 9 Feb 2004 (UTC): I have been thinking along similar routes, although my solution would be to allow real articles to be marked, rather than mark all unreal articles, due to reasons too numerous to mention (not to mention being excessively long). In addition, I favor putting an "expiration" date on articles - a note saying "by xx/xx/xxxx this article will probably be outdated (for instance, a current, non-vampiric, mayor of a town). Should a knowledgeable user visit this entry afterwards, he or she may either modify the expiration date or remove it altogether (turns out the mayor is a vampire after all). To top all that, if Wikipedia is to last longer then one should hope to presume (as in "over 5 years"), it will, in the fullness of time, require a Wikipedia Archive (for storing, for instance, a list of a characters of a book nobody has ever heard of) - although a full description of that should not be provided here. One day I'll compose, in the safety of my user page, a lengthy article detailing my views on all of the above, and nobody will ever read it.
This has to be one of the most confusing polls ever. Even though the existence of this option (Yes and No) violates the mutual exclusivity requirement of good questionnaire construction and makes the data obtained in the poll useless, it is, by a process of elimination, the best choice. Not only should "fame" and "importance" not be a necessary or sufficient condition for article deletion, but they cannot be. They are virtually unoperationalizable. Never-the-less, the objective of discouraging "trivial" entries remains sound. The question is, How can that be done without lowering ourselves to subjective assessments of what we feel is important or using popular culture indices like Google hits. Jimbo is correct in that we already have good operationalizable criteria like "verifiability", "promotion/advertising", etc. We have to ask ourselves if introducing this new criterion will help us obtain the non-triviality objective better than we are able to with only existing criteria. If existing criteria sets the triviality bar too low, we have to come up with better additions than "fame" because this is just asking for a subjective popularity contest on each VFD entry. mydogategodshat 09:46, 18 Feb 2004 (UTC)

No[edit]

  1. Jimbo Wales - 'fame' and 'importance' are not the right words to use, they are merely rough approximations to what we're really interested in, which is verifiability and NPOV. I understand and appreciate where people are coming from on the 'Yes' vote, but feel that they will only get the unanimity necessary in a wiki environment if they rephrase the issue in those terms. Consider an obscure scientific concept, 'Qubit Field Theory' -- 24 hits on google. I'd say that not more than a few thousand people in the world have heard of it, and not more than a few dozen understand it. (I certainly don't.) It is not famous and it is arguably not important, but I think that no one would serious question that it is valid material for an encyclopedia. What is it that makes this encyclopedic? It is that it is information which is verifiable and which can be easily presented in an NPOV fashion. (Though perhaps only as a stub, of course, since it's very complicated and not many people would know how to express it clearly in layperson's terms.) See #Discussion of Jimbo's no
  2. Anthony DiPierro - Wikipedia is not paper.
  3. Jack 09:40, 28 Jan 2004 (UTC) - "me too!"... really tho, you can see a debate on this on my user talk. deletionism is anti-wiki
  4. --denny vrandečić 17:11, Jan 28, 2004 (UTC) - too much material about too much is not really that bad, methinks
  5. tb - Maybe it's just the wording. I'm not really worried about deletion of "vanity articles", but I hope this doesn't lead to the deletion of non-famous and not very important towns, cultures, languages and other information. (Which I'm sure it's not intended to do, i don't mean to sound paranoid!) But I don't see too much wrong with an article about an obscure school, as long as they don't modify other pages inappropriately to link to it.
  6. Lizard King 11:30, 29 Jan 2004 (UTC) - Who gets to decide what is famous and significant? The Deletionist Armada, that's who. The object of this poll is completely ridiculous and, in principle, contradicts the very spirit of Wikipedia. If this poll is taken seriously it will give envious little gremlins with too much time on thier hands the excuse to destroy 30 to 70 percent of the entries on Wikipedia. Further, it just seems like this is clever way for some people to get more leverage on deleting the pages of wiki users they have a beef with, and that is basically it. So I guess you are saying you can have an article on Superman, but not on Krypton the wonderdog, because he is not as famous. What appeals to me about Wikipedia in the first place is that you can potentially find information on virtually anything. If you give editors on here the power to arbitrarilly delete entries because they don't think they are important they will abuse that power.
  7. Seth Ilys - "Importance" or "fame" are subjective criteria. My two (personal) criteria for inclusion of biographies, are 1) verifiability of information -- can someone who doesn't know the individual verify the facts (all the more reason to get a workable citation system up ASAP), and 2) linkability -- are they linked to (or could they reasonably be linked to) in a non-biographical article, excluding lists (which suggests that we also have a long way to go in creating non-bio articles). The non-policy at Wikipedia:Criteria for inclusion of biographies roughly suggests to me that one out of a thousand individuals are ultimately deserving of inclusion in Wikipedia. That sounds about right to me.
  8. ScifiterX More information is always better in my opinion. I agree that importance and fame are subjective. I also feel that deleting information is not only anti-wiki, it is contrary to the spirit if the First Admendment. I have the right to speak my mind. Others have the right to disagree with me. No one has the right to make it so others can't speak their minds. See #Discussion of ScifiterX's no
  9. Jamesday The thresholds used today are unduly high for many things, so, overall, no, using them is harmful, even though I agree that there are cases where insufficiently famous is merited. Insufficiently important is far more often used inappropriately than insuffiiently famous, IMO and is the biggest factor driving this no vote. See #Discussion of JamesDay's no
  10. See Martin's suggestions below for a more sensible approach. --Michael Snow 18:24, 30 Jan 2004 (UTC)
  11. I prefer wikipedia:verifiable and wikipedia:informative to "famous" and "important", which are heavily subjective. Martin 23:29, 5 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  12. This reflects my opinion. SweetLittleFluffyThing
  13. No, clear-cut. For starters, there are six billion people on this world of mine... er... ours, and one has no means of knowing which are important to whom. More important, however, is the age-old Wikipedia is Not Paper. It may not be an agglomeration of all human knowledge, the later being for the most part far too devious in nature to be distributed freely over the internet (come to think of it, what am I saying? The internet is all about mischief. They wanted to name it Evilnel, but marketing disapproved), but it can allow itself to accrue as much information as possible. Then again, I hold the extreme view that the only articles worthy of deletion (aside from tests, vandalism and pages that contain absolutely no information - e.g. "The town of Smallvile is a town called Smallville") are vanity pages. The rest should be, at most, merged into other articles, possibly the Borg. -Itai 22:49, 8 Feb 2004 (UTC) See #Discussion of Itai's no
  14. The less famous someone is, the more important that they be documented here, as chances are you can't find as much information on the web about them. There are billions of pages about Tiger Woods or Britney Spears on the web, so if they weren't in Wikipedia, the world wouldn't suffer. If John Q Citizen isn't in Wikipedia, I've got nowhere else to go to find out about them. Therefore, I think it's important to document less famous people. Aside from that, not only is deciding who's famous a POV issue, the choice to impose a famous criterion at all is making a POV judgement. ShaneKing 03:21, 15 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  15. I vote No. Articles about my cat should be excluded not because of fame or importance reasons, but because of frivolity reasons. I think we can draw the line. Philwelch 01:03, 16 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  16. No, if it is NPOV, verifiable, and not original research, keep it. No harm is done, and who knows what it's importance to someone may be. Mark Richards 05:35, 18 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  17. +sj+, poor and unsuitable metrics. (but see my Superposition of Yes and No response above).
  18. Until the cost of storage becomes prohibitive, everything anyone has reasonably considered worth writing about should be left in, unless an overwhelming majority of users reject it. :robinp 00:24, 24 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  19. No. There are absurd examples of articles that really are too unimportant, but we don't need a guideline for that. DrZ
  20. No. Unless there is some reason for the deletion of the articles (eg. lack of space on the server) I do not see why the articles should be deleted. Jeff8765
  21. AY Normally you wont come to an article unless you either search for it or you follow a link. So it really does not matter if an article that has no importance stays (text hardly takes any place.) If on the other hand someone did search or click a link he/she definately wanted to know more. So the article should stay.
  22. Absolutely not. The key to Wikipedia's proper scope is Verifiability. We can return to this debate when storage capacity becomes a technical problem -- hopefully, never. -- Toby Bartels 05:59, 24 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  23. No. Extraneous information does no harm, even if it's trivial. If people find the trivial information here, it's because they're looking for trivial information here, precisely because they won't find it elsewhere. And it's not like the details of the perfectly played Pacman game are going to appear in Featured Articles on the Main Page. The deletionists seem more concerned about the "appearance" or "reputation" of Wikipedia than the content -- so what if there are more articles about Lord of the Rings than Thermodynamics? There will always be imbalances -- it is a constantly evolving project. Who is judging us? Who is looking at the alphabetized list of articles and "tsk"-ing over the proportions of serious to trivial? Why be rabid about our reputation, when no one seems to be criticizing us on these grounds? The site is only getting more popular and more reputable with time, and we can only benefit by expanding our knowledge in every direction. See #Discussion of Extraneous's no
  24. Ryan_Cable
  25. Lirath Q. Pynnor
  26. I agree with Jimbo. I also agree that if someone cares enough to write an informative article about a subject, then that article deserves a place in the Wikipedia. In other words, single-line vanity articles should probably remain subject to deletion; but if the article can be reasonably deemed informative, then it should remain online. After all, encyclopedias impose a threshold of fame primarily because of space limitations. Our limitations are very different on Wikipedia. Cribcage 07:27, 5 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  27. Frazzydee 18:53, 1 May 2004 (UTC): I agree with Jimbo Wales. There is something which can be learnt from everybody/everything, and the Wikipedia should aim to preserve information- whether or not it is deemed 'famous' or 'important.' I see where the people who argue 'yes' are coming from, but I don't fully agree with it.
  28. Blades 00:51, 2 May 2004 (EET): Althouhgh I agree that this question is misplaced or -phrased, I'll much rather say no.
  29. Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 01:25, 2004 May 14 (UTC): Lots of nice things can be written about things that not a lot of people know or care about, it's not like we're running out of paper.
  30. siroxo 09:00, Jun 1, 2004 (UTC) Several thousand people may be interested in something with small fame or importance, for example High Schools. Wikipedia is an excellent place to catalog information about such things, like other encyclopedias never could.
  31. Stirling Newberry 02:12, 28 Jun 2004 (UTC) Disinterested standard: would someone with no personal interest in the success/failure of the idea, organization or person bother to write about it. If yes, then keep. If no, then delete.
  32. ··gracefool | See votes 1, 6 and 23.
  33. Eclecticology 10:23, 2004 Sep 4 (UTC) Such criteria are too subjective
  34. Dystopos 03:46, 6 May 2005 (UTC) Late to the discussion, but important to me: Criteria other than "notability" are more pertinent, more objective, and more clearly-defined. A truly non-notable entry will necessarily fail one or more of those other criteria.
  35. Smerdis of Tlön 19:02, 9 May 2005 (UTC): It would be hard to say, for example, that Alexis-Vincent-Charles Berbiguier de Terre-Neuve du Thym is "famous" or "important" in the English-speaking world; he is nevertheless remembered. What do these criteria do for Myxobolus cerebralis, a worm that causes a fish disease? Minor medieval kings and authors whose books are no longer read? All valid subjects for an encyclopedia; very little fame or importance.
  36. Both entirely subjective terms. -- Necrothesp 5 July 2005 12:16 (UTC)
  37. IJzeren Jan 18:17, 11 August 2005 (UTC) I surely don't want to include everything, but "fame" and "importance" are highly subjective things. What is important and famous to one is worthless crap to the other. Fame and importance can contribute to the wikipedifiability of a subject, but they are by no means the only criteria.
  38. noösfractal 03:57, 18 September 2005 (UTC) It is unethical to censor information based on subjective criteria.

Discussion of Jimbo's no[edit]

User:Optim: I agree with Jimbo. Optim 19:07, 29 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Jimbo, I agree with you that there are many non-famous items that do belong in Wikipedia, but there are also many verifiable and NPOV-able items that do not belong in Wikipedia. Take some random web page, created by John Doe, age 13. It lists John's favorite TV programs, which Pokemon cards he has, etc. Is this verifiable? Certainly the contents of the web page are verifiable. Can it be written about in a NPOV fasion. Sure. Should it be in Wikipedia? I sure hope not. Obviously, this is an extreme case. My point is that we must think very carefully before we make any blanket statements about what should or should not be included. -Anthropos 18:34, 29 Jan 2004 (UTC)
This example proves my point, though, doesn't it? It isn't the lack of fame that makes the page objectionable, it's the lack of verifiability. It's just someone's random musings about a private matter, and there's no way for external confirmation or disconfirmation. Therefore, it isn't encyclopedic. 'Qubit field theory' on the other hand, is encyclopedic, precisely because there's a scientific paper about it, so we can say that thus-and-such Cambridge physicist proposed such-and-so theory, blah blah blah. And that's valuable. Jimbo Wales 18:57, 5 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Ok, let me try a slightly less contrived example. Many small-town newspapers have a "police blotter" column, listing many law-enforcement events of the community, such as speeding violations. Would an article about how so-and-so (nonfamous) was ticketed for going 36 MPH in a 25 MPH zone deserve a Wikipedia article? It's completely verifiable: The newspaper is on file at the local library, and the police records are available. Yet (IMHO) it would be worse than pointless to include such an article.
Please understand that I generally agree with you -- many disputes about inclusion could be resolved simply by testing verifiablity. But, as you know, diskspace in not infinite and free (of cost). Nor are the efforts of Wikipedians, who must copyedit and (ideally) verify all these articles. Having a poor article on an obscure and unimportant topic will still reflect poorly on Wikipedia. Shouldn't there be some sense of prioritization? -Rholton (aka Anthropos) 16:52, 11 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Hard disk space is practically free. The man-hours required to fill a hard-disk is some ridiculously high number. Also, you copyedit and verify what you want to. Why does a poor article on an abscure topic reflect poorly on Wikipedia? The only people who will look up such a topic will be interested in it. See also Discussion of Extraneous's no. ··gracefool | 03:27, 4 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I think it very much disproves your point. The contents of a webpage are entirely verifiable, either directly or through something like the Web archive. So should an article on the page be kept? - Andre Engels 17:55, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Please address the following possibility: I take photographs of each tree outside my home and build articles giving the history of each tree, complete with photographs through the seasons. I do the same with the street lamps, describing the individual numbers and markings from damage and such to each. Each article is trivially verifiable by anyone who can walk down the street or was around for the bits of history described. Do they belong in the Encyclopedia, in general? If not, what threshold gets them removed? Jamesday 19:10, 29 Jan 2004 (UTC)
This example is better in a way and worse in a way, but even so, 'fame' is not what we're after. The information is not verifiable by the Wikipedia community. When I say 'verifiable' I don't mean 'in some abstract fantasy theory' I mean actually practically verifiable by Wikipedians. But more imporatantly, this information also violates another of our rules "no original research", which surely it is. The only way for someone to verify it is to replicate the research. The reason I say 'worse in a way' is just that the example doesn't seem to address any actual deletion controversies that we're ever likely to have. Jimbo Wales 18:56, 5 Feb 2004 (UTC)
I'm coming in very late here, but I think it's worth distinguishing between "verifiable by recourse to authority" and "verifiable by recourse to experiment". The former means that we can verify a statement by checking whether someone we trust (such as an authority in the field) has affirmed it. The latter means that we can verify a statement by performing an experiment to see it if is true. When we require verifiability, we mean "by recourse to authority". Your articles about the trees outside your home are theoretically verifiable by experiment, but they are not verifiable by recourse to authority until you have found a reputable venue in which to publish your findings (and cited the publication in the article). Similarly, if I write an article on www.someirrelevantwebsite.com in which I state www.someirrelevantwebsite.com is a website., then that statement is only verifiable by authority if there exists a reputable source to back me up. It is not enough to just go to the site and see if it exists, because that would be verifiability by experiment. Just my two cents. Hesperian 30 June 2005 01:31 (UTC)
The Internet Archive is an authority on the history of many websites. Dfeuer 20:52, 11 February 2006 (UTC)
I'm coming in even later here, but I have another example that may be useful. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints maintains vast stores of genealogical information. I believe the Church could reasonably be considered an authority on genealogy, and it would be possible to write thousands of Wikipedia articles based on this information. The vast majority of these articles, in my opinion, do not belong in Wikipedia. Dfeuer 20:52, 11 February 2006 (UTC)
Later still. Let's imagine that Wikipedia does grow to many times its present size. There might then be too MANY statements to verify, even if each individual statement were verifiable; because verifying statements is more time-consuming and less popular than producing statements (e.g. by borrowing them from suspect websites). The existing tendency to delete articles on thoroughly unfamous topics would tend to protect against this, since it means most Wikipedia topics have at least three or four editors who have at least heard of them and will correct blatant misrepresentations. This would not be true of all verifiable topics, without original research, that someone might want to start a page on. "Almost nobody has ever heard of this" is a salient objection to an article precisely because it implies "probably no Wikipedia editor is familiar enough with this topic to be inclined to police the page". DanielCristofani 12:47, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Discussion of ScifiterX's no[edit]

    • Two points; a) Wikipedia is an encyclopedia not a forum for 'speaking your mind' and b) the first amendment to the Constitution of Ireland extended to conflicts in which the State is not a participant the provision for a state of emergency to secure the public safety and preservation of the State in time of war or armed rebellion. Is this what you had in mind or do you imagine that the writ og the US constitution runs everywhere? Bmills 15:22, 29 Jan 2004 (UTC)
    • I happen to know Scifiter X is brilliant, first hand (just a little prone to accidental electrocution when repairing household appliances). Really the wrong guy to be correcting. The constitution of the United States of America is a model for MANY organizations, because it has proven to work and lend endurance to organizations that emulate it over time. Chances are, if an organization violates the spirit of such a constitution its going to serve to create a system that makes a couple of people happy and a lot more people miserable. Which was the entire aim of this poll to begin with. Contrary to popular belief the United States of America is not a Democracy; which simply equates mob rule or anarchy, it is a Republican Democracy, and as such operates on an entirely different set of principles.(: Lizard King 20:30, 29 Jan 2004 (UTC)
    • Freedom of speech is not the issue here. If Wikipedia restricts article pages in any way, it is not depriving anyone of their freedom of speech. We allow (almost) anything on user pages. If we are to use the US constitution as a model, we should remember that even there, freedom of speech has limits (e.g. you cannot place your poster on my front door without my permission). As much as we like to look at Wikipedia as "public space" it is not. It has a specific purpose, and all activities on Wikipedia are subject to evaluation based on if and how they serve that purpose. -Anthropos 03:10, 30 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Discussion of JamesDay's no[edit]

WE MUST HAVE AN ARTICLE ON EACH AND EVERY ANT IN MY ANT FARM! - Arthur George Carrick

That would appear to require considerable original research, I, for one, am not up for it. Mark Richards 05:35, 18 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Discussion of Itai's no[edit]

    • Well said. I'd like to add that "vanity pages" is a problematic criteria. It's almost never clear-cut whether or not a page is actually a vanity page, and I have seen some definitively non-vanity pages called vanity by many people. Anthony DiPierro 22:54, 8 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Discussion of Extraneous's no[edit]

Of course we should have comprehensive and serious coverage of mathematics and geography and Marilyn Monroe and etc. ad nauseam, and if the trivial articles were preventing people from covering this in some way, I might understand the argument. But they don't -- I would argue that they may even encourage people to become contributors, because it shows them that their own personal corner of the world (be it their neighborhood school, their Rubik's cube hobby, etc) IS suitable for inclusion in an encyclopedia that purports to want to present all knowledge. And if you can't force the volunteers to focus on "serious subjects", why alienate them by deleting what they have worked hard to contribute, within their sphere of knowledge? Yes, it will take work to tag articles for significance for various filters, forks and print projects. But is that really more work than wrestling each article through the contentious VfD process, and eliminating knowledge that might otherwise be of benefit or importance to someone, somewhere?
I'm not arguing that there are legitimate candidates for deletion, but the parameters Jimbo has favored seem like a reasonable check to me. Organize, categorize, move -- or better yet, improve -- to your heart's content. Or list it on Cleanup for someone else to do. But if it was important enough for someone to write, it may well be important enough for someone to read, don't you think? Catherine 21:33, 26 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Brilliant. Sam Spade 21:50, 26 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Echo that. It's even gotten to the point where genuine stubs of important info are being deleted because they aren't good enough yet! ··gracefool | 03:24, 4 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Why?[edit]

Why is this poll being held? Where is the discussion in which people have put forward arguments for and against excluding articles on subjects that are not famous or "important", and tried to come to a consensus decision? Has there even been a centralised discussion of this issue at all? This fashion for solving disputes by polls has reached the limit of absurdity here. From Wikipedia:Polling guidelines:

Wikipedia is not a democracy. In general decisions are made by consensus (see consensus decision making) rather than a strict majority rule. However, on occasion it is useful to take a poll of opinions on some issue, as an aid to achieving consensus and an indication of which options have the most support.

Is this poll being used an aid to achieving consensus? Or is it just an attempt to suppress any attempt at reaching a consensus by sheer weight of numbers?

What we should do is move this page to Wikipedia talk:Inclusion of content or some such thing, and use it to discuss the reasoning behind this suggestion (assuming there is any), and try to come to a consensus about precisely what sorts of material should be ineligible for inclusion, and, just as importantly, why. -- Oliver P. 01:07, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

On vfd the argument comes up several times a week whether any topic at all can be included in wikipedia or if criteria including fame/importance should be used. This isn't an issue where a "compromise" can be reached because it depends on the fundamental belief of the individual on what wikipedia is or should be. The primary purpose of this poll is so that when someone uses this arguement they can be pointed at this page and see what the majority of wikipedians believe at that time. --Imran 01:48, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Well, we'll never know if a consensus (nicer than a "compromise"...?) can be reached unless we try! Setting up a system whereby the community is forced to polarise itself into two diametrically opposed camps is not helpful. If we're just blindly pulling in opposite directions, we'll never get anywhere. Let's at least pretend to be rational people here. Even if it's not true, it's a good game. What happens is, we put forward arguments for our positions, and other people argue against them, and eventually someone persuades someone of something, and we all move a step closer to enlightenment. Hurrah!
I'm certainly willing to listen to arguments as to why it would be a Good Thing to exclude information from our encyclopaedia on topics that are not well known. As I say, if there are any such arguments... -- Oliver P. 04:13, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Several people wanted criteria for how famous one has to be. When I decide my opinions on subjects, I consider Wikipedia as a collection of encyclopedias on specialist subjects. For example, it would be reasonable for an encyclopedia of punk rock, Japanese history or conspiracy theories to be published (and they probably have been). Anything which would be in any of those encyclopedias is fair game. I oppose high schools, for example, because I doubt even an Encyclopedia of education in XXX country would include an entry on an otherwise non-famous high school, but even the most bizarre educational style or teaching tool would have an article, and thus can have one in Wikipedia. Plenty of extremely obscure punk rock bands, who perhaps existed for a brief period and never recorded, might have articles, but my friends' band, Lovenut & the Weird Beards, would not, even though I think they're quite good. I suppose this doesn't really help define any criteria for inclusion, because it depends on what I believe are likely topics for and in a published encyclopedia, but that's the criteria I use, and it has served me well. Tuf-Kat 04:42, Jan 26, 2004 (UTC)

I think that although lack of fame and importance of an article should be A reason to delete it, it should never be THE ONLY reason to delete it. - Fennec 20:03, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Who decides what is important and what is not? How can one decide what is important while maintaining a neutral point of view? I suggest that if the conclusion is Yes, it be implemented cautiously with guidelines which should be debated and not be rigid. - Hemanshu 20:03, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

My opinion[edit]

1. Non-famous subjects in Wikipedia tend to be either people or schools. In each case, the article is typically written by the subject, or someone close to the subject. I believe this raises two immediate problems, of bias and of verifiability. To this extent I'm not stating that non-famous subjects should be deleted for being non-famous, however I am stating that if a subject is non-famous, then (by definition) the chances are small of there being other Wikipedians who can verify the information and counter bias. As such, these articles should be treated with extreme suspicion until corroborating sources can be found. In my personal opinion, this suspicion should extend to deletion if no external sources are readily available, i.e. the assumption here should be guilty until some argument for innocence is presented.

IMO, better to risk having biased information than no information at all. No matter what source you get your information from, the reader should always be aware that the source may be biased. That ever goes for printed encyclopedias. As for something on the internet, well, everyone knows how reliable such information is. "I read it on the internet so it must be true" is a widely used sarcastic remark! I say if it can't be verified, assume the best, and rely on the reader taking things with a grain of salt (as they should do for all articles anyway). ShaneKing 13:28, 16 Feb 2004 (UTC)
I can't agree here, and wikipedia:verifiability seems to suggest that the vast majority of contributors wouldn't agree here either. It's up to the submitter to make sure that all contributions are verifiable. If the source isn't readily available online, then it should be noted in the comments. Anything not verifiable is subject to being moved to the talk page until someone can verify it. IMO, it's better to risk having no information at all than to have incorrect information. Anthony DiPierro 14:30, 16 Feb 2004 (UTC)
If it's better to risk having no information at all than incorrect information, nobody should ever add information to an article, because there's a chance it could be incorrect. Frankly, I'd rather take the attitude that people have the benefit of the doubt and it's accurate unless there's reason to think otherwise. ShaneKing 14:43, 16 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Certainly a lot of leeway and deference are going to be given to regular contributors with a good reputation. But when challenged, a non-verifiable statement should be made into a verifiable one (usually by attributing it to someone), or removed. Also, verifiability is much less of a standard than proof. But an article about a topic which is completely non-verifiable has no place in Wikipedia. See also Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. It's basically the same policy, except at an article at a time level. Anthony DiPierro 15:14, 16 Feb 2004 (UTC)

2. Wikipedia has a "random page" generator. It is already the case that something like 1 in 5 articles in Wikipedia is a stub containing raw demographical data for an American village or town. This makes the place look bad. If we also had an article for everyone who stumbles across the site, and another one for his dog, it would look appalling. This could of course be dealt with to an extent by biassing the random page generator, but when Wikipedia advertises "we have X thousand articles", I believe that it is dishonest not to qualify that with "of which several thousand are auto-generated from US census data". If any and all articles about someone's mate Dave were welcomed, we would have to add "and several thousand more are about otherwise poorly-documented subjects".

3. Yes, a judgement of "famous" is influenced by point of view. However, there are many other issues in the organisation of the Wikipedia which always are, and always will be, influenced by the subjective opinions of the authors. With a given article it is not possible to compromise between splitting it into sections or keeping it in once piece. It is not possible to compromise between deleting it and not deleting it. So if there is genuine disagreement on these kinds of issues, a balanced "NPOV" solution is impossible. The organisation of the 'pedia cannot be done from a neutral point of view, hence neutrality can be sacrificed to expediency in this case, and a "not NPOV" argument can't be applied on either side of this argument.

All that said, I'm not voting. I don't wan't non-famousness to be a criterion for deletion. However I can't see how Wikipedia with its current organisation could possibly be improved by large numbers of articles about very obscure subjects. Onebyone 22:38, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

We serve the readers[edit]

We serve the readers. The readers should decide whether something belongs to the encyclopaedia or not. We should have a system to get readers comments and use them for deleting or keeping the articles. If the readers want Wikipedia to list biographies of all ants of Earth, we should allow that. We should get the opinion of all readers, or most of them, not only one or two. We cannot decide whether an article should deleted or not, if we don't ask the readers first. Optim 17:03, 30 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I'm not sure what the advantage would be in deleting something that is simply uninteresting to many people. If it is interesting to some people, or potentially interesting to even one, why not keep it? Mark Richards 05:37, 18 Feb 2004 (UTC)

We ARE the readers[edit]

We ARE the readers of Wikipedia. We are also the writers and editors. The main concept is that this is not written by one group for the use of another group. Instead, it is intended as a collaboration by the readers. With this in mind, deleting in the manner done now is being done by the READERS. (Us) - Texture 18:18, 30 Jan 2004 (UTC)

There are many more readers that the paltry few who choose to edit, my friend. I began as only a reader, after having been reccomended to use the wiki by a reader (non-editor) and I often discuss the wiki w people who read, and do not edit. Do not underestimate the silent majority ;) Jack 03:38, 1 Feb 2004 (UTC)
so... we should listen to those who choose not to be heard? ;P - Texture 21:42, 26 Feb 2004 (UTC)

No, rather we should consider those whom we are here to serve ;) Sam Spade 21:47, 26 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Yes, the community of editors and readers. We are among those we are here to serve and our opinion is representative of those who do not wish to be heard. - Texture 21:52, 26 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I don't find that to be remotely accurate, but I don't think this is going anywhere, so let's agree to disagree, shall we? I agree w Optim above, so perhaps his explanation is more useful to you than mine. Sam Spade 01:17, 27 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Deletion in general[edit]

What does it matter what the famouness of an article, or what you believe the usfulness is. There will be someone that will want to know about it, and thats what matters. Its an encyclopedia, a library of all knowledge. killographic was deleted because its a new word, well, I'm seeing it appear more often now, and 10 games are on poll to become the first retail Adult Only rated games because of this words invention. But nope, its new, so out it goes.

If an article actually contains information on its subject, it should stay. Or, - To reverse the context - As long as it isn't gibberish, or spam, or something that isn't related to the article, it should stay. People say its a dictionary word? So are many of the articles on here. Let it grow.

Of course, pages about a nobody that was made by them should be restricted to their user lookup.

Just my 2 dollars -Fizscy46 00:00, 1 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Spirit vs. practice[edit]

In theory, non-famousness is a fine reason to delete something, since it's not encyclopedic. In practice, however, I don't believe it works. I rarely see anon comments on VfD, and indeed that page is heavily tilted away from being "new-user friendly", full of slang and so on that takes time to pick up. As such, I'm forced to assume that the only people who get a look at most of the candidates there are a (relatively) small group of regular contributors. We ARE NOT a representative sample.

Much of the time, I don't know enough about a subject to say whether or not it's famous. For example, take the disputes over Wilfredo G. Santa. He may or may not have been famous enough to be in the Wikipedia. In that case, we were informed by the Spanish Wikipedia, but in the future we might have no such sources. And I don't know enough--nor does the relatively limited community of VfD contributors--to make calls like that. In such a situation, we have to follow the principle of least harm. Which does more damage: deleting legitimate content and alienating contributors (which will happen, if fame is the criterion) or allowing irrelevant content to sit? Nonsense should be deleted; things should be moved to other wikis, as appropriate; bad writing should be improved; but non-famousness should not, given the constraints of reality, be a criterion for deletion. Meelar 05:32, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I don't know about others but I certainly don't vote on the basis of whether I think something is famous. At the very least I do web and usenet search to investigate, more often than not I then go over to specialized databases such as Lexis-Nexis (newspaper archive), JSTOR (academic journal archive), the catalogs of the LOC and COPAC, and numerous full-text book archives. If something is famous it invariably shows up in one of these sources. --Imran 18:25, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Fame no, importance yes[edit]

It's very possible for someone who isn't particularly famous to be important enough to warrant an encyclopedia entry -- a scientific researcher who's made a major medical discovery, for instance, is undeniably important, but may not necessarily be famous in the usual sense of the word.

I think "fame" is, at best, a poor shorthand for what we're really trying to get at here. Perhaps a better word is "relevance". I mean, hell, I've created a few entries myself for people who wouldn't exactly qualify as famous by most standards, but have significant historical relevance far beyond their actual name recognition among the general public.

This is the issue I have with an entry like Sarah Marple-Cantrell. That she's not famous isn't the problem; it's that I simply don't see why she's relevant enough to warrant inclusion in an encyclopedia (paper or not). - Bearcat 08:41, 22 Feb 2004 (UTC)

She is important. What makes you think she isn't? Optim·.· 19:59, 5 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Why is she important? I just don't see it. Bearcat 20:50, 7 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Surely that's part of the point though isn't it? I mean I see her importance but not everybody in the whole world will, and the same can be said for every single article in Wikipedia, some will see the importance and some won't. And it shouldn't be a domininance of the majority over the minority either, if only one person values the subject of the article that should be all that's needed. Silly articles such as every single ant in the ant farm (my judgement about it being silly - no-one else's) will be often thought of but seldom actually completed. --wayland 13:19, 30 Mar 2004 (UTC)

It would also be unverifiable. We have all the policy we need to deal with this. No More Rulecruft. Trollderella 01:31, 29 November 2005 (UTC)


I have a real issue with people saying that someone's death wasn't important. Especially the fact that a 12 year old girl was desperate enough to kill herself. We will never know what was going through her head when she pulled that trigger and the fact that you people have the audacity to say her death wasn't important????? That's sick. I knew this girl. Maybe not as well as I should, but I knew her and my family knew her. For someone to say a little girl's death by her own hand isn't important is just sick and twisted.

There is no question whether Sarah Marple Cantrell's death was important. And the fact that people don't think so makes me very sad. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.251.81.233 (talk) 03:00, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Important in a moral sense, certainly. Important to her family, absolutely. But important in the sense of "belongs in an encyclopedia"? Certainly not. Bearcat (talk) 19:23, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

My opinion: General interest should be the metric[edit]

I staunchly disagree, for the same reasons as others have given, with the "fame criterion" for deletion. Importance is almost impossible to define. Are sigma-algebras important, or just nifty? They certainly aren't famous.

I've been in several deletion debates, most regarding the card game Ambition. Ambition is a game of rapidly-increasing popularity, but certainly not yet canonical like Bridge or poker. The first Ambition page was written in (I believe) November by another author, and had many problems. At the request of many Wikipedia users (including myself) it was deleted, and I (the inventor of Ambition) was called to write a new article. The "fame debate" surfaced in the deletion debates surrounding this article.

In my opinion, fame should not be the metric of inclusion, for reasons stated above. As for "importance", I don't even know how I would define that. Who's qualified to say what's "important"? I'm not. Certainly my cat is important to me, but I wouldn't write a page for her, include her birthday under April 1 or otherwise try to establish her here. Who else is interested in my cat?

Instead, I submit the humble opinion that general interest should be the metric of what stays and what goes. For examples of how such a criterion would be applied:

Sedenions would stay. They're certainly not famous, and I'm not aware of any practical use for them (though I'm sure there is, somewhere) but they are of definite interest to mathematicians.

Ambition (card game) would stay. It contains information on the strategy and development of a somewhat well-known card game.

Neither of the above examples are world famous, but both pertain to subjects that a new user, during his or her first visit to Wikipedia, could conceivably have enough interest in to type the queries directly into the search-box in the upper-right corner.

John Highway would be deleted. Not because it was written by its subject, but because there is very little general interest in the material on the page.

A (hypothetical) review or summary of an unpublished novel or set of poems would be deleted. If said novel could not be accessed by any users here, why would they have interest in reading a review about it?

An article about a high-school or strictly local band would be deleted, on a similar principle: Almost no one would have the opportunity to see this band's performances, anyway, so what general interest would such an article have? Almost none.

Likewise, these three examples are for subjects which new users, during a first visit to Wikipedia, would be highly unlikely to enter as search queries.

An interesting point was raised earlier regarding the Random Page function:

<<It is already the case that something like 1 in 5 articles in Wikipedia is a stub containing raw demographical data for an American village or town. This makes the place look bad. If we also had an article for everyone who stumbles across the site, and another one for his dog, it would look appalling.>>

Would it be possible to weight the Random Page function according to frequency of visit, so that obscure pages would come up proportionately less often?

Mike Church 23:48, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)

How do you decide that the few hundred mathematicians who care about Sedenions are more important than the few thousand high school students and alumni who care about any given high school band?Dfeuer 21:03, 11 February 2006 (UTC)

Your last paragraph is an interesting idea. How about frequency of edit? Except for edit conflicts, the pages most often edited are (IMHO) usually the best. OTOH, some people use Special:Randompage to find things that need editing -- maybe we should ask the opinion of the Wikipedians that use it a lot? Because I don't! -- Toby Bartels 06:20, 24 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I don't use Random Page often. It's unlikely that something "random", i.e. chosen out of all the possible concepts in existence, will be interesting to me. I use Wikipedia quite often when I'm looking for a specific thing, but I don't often just go "surfing" here.

Multiple edits do indeed improve quality of a page dramatically, I agree. Even the best writers have to write multiple drafts of their work before publication, and often rely to some degree on other people to revise and edit their work. Frequency of edit could be an alternate weight for the function. That could be an alternative weight, except for (as you said) the fact that edit wars would bias the results. So perhaps it should be number of editors in the past XXX, not number of changes.

Does Wikipedia have the capability to track frequency of access? I think, perhaps, web stats on each page would be interesting. As said above, web stats could be used to weight the Random Page function. Also, it could be used to compile a "Top 100 Most Visited Wikipedia Sites" list which might be interesting. Of course, it would include only the encyclopedic subject pages, not metadiscussion pages like VfD or User Pages.

On the other hand, the danger to the latter idea is that people might write bots to break the charts, and put a page in which they have personal investment up to #1. Still a cool idea, aside from that flaw. Mike Church 03:06, 25 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I use Random Page semi-frequently, and always as a method of finding articles that need help. So if anything, I'd want it to aim at neglected pages MORE effectively, not less. Just my two cents, Jwrosenzweig 20:04, 5 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Maybe two different tools could be useful, one prominent that has filters/biases to avoid stubs, very short articles, and articles that have very few edits - this would be for people that just want to browse and see if they can find something interesting to read up on with no particular agenda. Another tool could be made with almost the reverse metrics, suggesting articles at random that are likely to need editting in case someone just wants to learn something at random (from non Wikipedia sources on the net etc), and add what they learned to the knowledge here (or just reorganise and grammar check a few random articles, whatever). Sfnhltb 17:38, 25 September 2005 (UTC)

Linkage[edit]

Judging whether an article should stay or be deleted could be done by the number of links to the article. Any comments on this?

No of course not! The last thing we need is people spamming the encyclopedia with links to their VfD'd article in an attempt to have it not deleted. People should check backlinks before they take an article to VfD, but those links should not determine whether or not something is deleted. It's too easy to fake. Angela. 03:41, Feb 29, 2004 (UTC)
Those added links could, and would, be deleted, of course. Certainly anything deleted should have no links to it (with the exception of pure vandalism). But not everything with no links to it should be deleted. Anthony DiPierro 00:03, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Comments and another suggested metric[edit]

I think we need some concept along the lines of importance, because otherwise we can unintentionally mislead the reader. Whether we use importance as a criterion or not, I'm sure most users will assume that we do, just like any other encyclopedia. If I'm a reader and I find 15 biographies of architects, I'm going to assume that all of them are fairly well-known people who have either designed notable buildings, or had some significant effect on the course of architectural history. If one of these articles is included because the architect is a contributor's grandfather, this article is implicitly misleading. A reader trying to get a broad view of the subject (which is, after all, what an encyclopedia is for) will waste time reading this entry (even if it's true and verifiable, it's not what the user wanted.)

Here's a possible way to judge "relevance" or "importance". Imagine that the subject of the article never existed. What would be different? How many people would notice, and how much would it affect them? Unfortunately this metric still isn't perfect, as it would for examle have us removing a lot of the more obscure items in list of mathematical topics. Isomorphic

And Santa Claus

And euyyn 23:00, 13 Sep 2004 (UTC), who is currently outlining his arguments, which point in this direction

Yes, you're right, let's start removing obscure math and science articles. Hardly anyone will notice, and even those who do will not be able to stop us, because people who think obscure math articles are important are in a small minority! Where shall we start!? Trollderella 02:03, 29 November 2005 (UTC)
The criteria currently cited on VfDs (e.g. WP:BIO, WP:NMG and WP:WEB) are, it seems to me, attempts to come up with some reasonably objective metrics by which to express the likely present and future verifiability of a subject and its coverage.
Take unsuccessful candidates for political office: there will be a fair bit of verifiable information on them from secondary sources (press reports) but the primary source for most of this information is the candidate themselves (or their opponents). After the election, when the press is no longer printing information about the candidate and the candidate's press office has shut down, how can we verify any continuing information on this person, who is no longer in any sense a public figure? In ten years time, is their failure to achieve office, and no verifiable information added since, a fair reflection of who they are? Some unsuccessful candidates achieve fame or cult status and are covered much more widely of course, and they are rightly included. Others are already famous, such as H. Ross Perot. Few seriously dispute the inclusion of these people.
Other cases are much harder. One came up recently of a headteacher where there is at least some assertion of notability. But is it genuinely verifiable, other than by original research? Robert Hooke is a favourite of mine: there are several primary sources (friends, contemporaries, scientific records of the Royal Society) many of which were gathered together by Robert Gunther in his Early Science at Oxford series (I have a copy). I have found a number of details about Hooke, a well-studied subject, which turn out to be questionable, but have gained credence due to repetition. Gunther addresses these and debunks them, citing evidence. How can I distinguish whether facts about a biographical subject are actually true, or just endlessly repeated versions of the subject's own PR? Of course this is inevitable when covering living subjects. Nobody is going to bother covering a living subject unless they are famous, or the author has an agenda to pursue. So, in my view, the shorthand "notable" means they have attracted enough dispassionate third-party interest to make the details functionally verifiable, and to make it possible to assess whether the point of view is neutral.
And actually if a mathematical theory is so abstruse that few can understand or verify it, that is arguably grounds for its exclusion (at least as a subject outside of its proponent). That doesn't meant that anything above elementary trigonometry should not be here, but it does mean that something that cannot be verified as fact (rather than as being the well-argued opinion of one individual) by one reasonably well versed in the subject, is functionally unverifiable. - Just zis  Guy, you know? [T]/[C] (W) AfD? 11:45, 30 November 2005 (UTC)
Note: The following text was found below a redirect to this page:

I have a real issue with people saying that someone's death wasn't important. Especially the fact that a 12 year old girl was desperate enough to kill herself. We will never know what was going through her head when she pulled that trigger and the fact that you people have the audacity to say her death wasn't important????? That's sick. I knew this girl. Maybe not as well as I should, but I knew her and my family knew her. For someone to say a little girl's death by her own hand isn't important is just sick and twisted.

There is no question whether Sarah Marple Cantrell's death was important. And the fact that people don't think so makes me very sad. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.251.81.233 (talk) 02:59, 22 October 2007 (UTC)