Talk:Barack Obama

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Featured articleBarack Obama is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Main Page trophyThis article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on August 18, 2004, and on November 4, 2008.
In the newsOn this day... Article milestones
August 12, 2004Featured article candidatePromoted
August 18, 2004Today's featured articleMain Page
December 21, 2007Featured article reviewKept
January 23, 2007Featured article reviewKept
July 26, 2007Featured article reviewKept
April 15, 2008Featured article reviewKept
September 16, 2008Featured article reviewKept
November 4, 2008Today's featured articleMain Page
December 2, 2008Featured article reviewKept
March 10, 2009Featured article reviewKept
March 16, 2010Featured article reviewKept
March 17, 2010Featured article reviewKept
June 17, 2012Featured article reviewKept
October 22, 2012Featured article reviewKept
In the news A news item involving this article was featured on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "In the news" column on November 5, 2008.
On this day... Facts from this article were featured on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "On this day..." column on November 4, 2013, and November 4, 2016.
Current status: Featured article
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Information.svg To view the response to a question, click the [show] link to the right of the question.
Family and religious background
Q1: Why isn't Barack Obama's Muslim heritage or education included in this article?
A1: Barack Obama was never a practitioner of Islam. His biological father having been "raised as a Muslim" but being a "confirmed atheist" by the time Obama was born is mentioned in the article. Please see this article on for a fairly in-depth debunking of the myth that Obama is Muslim. Barack Obama did not attend an Islamic or Muslim school while living in Indonesia age 6–10, but Roman Catholic and secular public schools. See [1], [2], [3] The sub-articles Public image of Barack Obama and Barack Obama religion conspiracy theories address this issue.
Q2: The article refers to him as African American, but his mother is white and his black father was not an American. Should he be called African American, or something else ("biracial", "mixed", "Kenyan-American", "mulatto", "quadroon", etc.)?
A2: Obama himself and the media identify him, the vast majority of the time, as African American or black. African American is primarily defined as "citizens or residents of the United States who have origins in any of the black populations of Africa", a statement that accurately describes Obama and does not preclude or negate origins in the white populations of America as well. Thus we use the term African American in the introduction, and address the specifics of his parentage in the first headed section of the article. Many individuals who identify as black have varieties of ancestors from many countries who may identify with other racial or ethnic groups. See our article on race for more information on this concept. We could call him the first "biracial" candidate or the first "half black half white" candidate or the first candidate with a parent born in Africa, but Wikipedia is a tertiary source which reports what other reliable sources say, and most of those other sources say "first African American". Readers will learn more detail about his ethnic background in the article body.
Q3: Why can't we use his full name outside of the lead? It's his name, isn't it?
A3: The relevant part of the Manual of Style says that outside the lead of an article on a person, that person's conventional name is the only one that's appropriate. (Thus one use of "Richard Milhous Nixon" in the lead of Richard Nixon, "Richard Nixon" thereafter.) Talk page consensus has also established this.
Q4: Why is Obama referred to as "Barack Hussein Obama II" in the lead sentence rather than "Barack Hussein Obama, Jr."? Isn't "Jr." more common?
A4: Although "Jr." is typically used when a child shares the name of his or her parent, "II" is considered acceptable, as well. And in Obama's case, the usage on his birth certificate is indeed "II", and is thus the form used at the beginning of this article, per manual of style guidelines on names.
Q5: Why don't we cover the claims that Obama is not a United States citizen, his birth certificate was forged, he was not born in Hawaii, he is ineligible to be President, etc?
A5: The Barack Obama article consists of an overview of major issues in the life and times of the subject. The controversy over his eligibility, citizenship, birth certificate etc is currently a fairly minor issue in overall terms, and has had no significant legal or mainstream political impact. It is therefore not currently appropriate for inclusion in an overview article. These claims are covered separately in Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories.
Controversies, praise, and criticism
Q6: Why isn't there a criticisms/controversies section?
A6: Because a section dedicated to criticisms and controversies is no more appropriate than a section dedicated solely to praise and is an indication of a poorly written article. Criticisms/controversies/praises should be worked into the existing prose of the article, per the Criticism essay.
Q7: Why isn't a certain controversy/criticism/praise included in this article?
A7: Wikipedia's Biography of living persons policy says that "[c]riticism and praise of the subject should be represented if it is relevant to the subject's notability and can be sourced to reliable secondary sources, and so long as the material is written in a manner that does not overwhelm the article or appear to take sides; it needs to be presented responsibly, conservatively, and in a neutral, encyclopedic tone." Criticism or praise that cannot be reliably sourced cannot be placed in a biography. Also, including everything about Obama in a single article would exceed Wikipedia's article size restrictions. A number of sub-articles have been created and some controversies/criticisms/praises have been summarized here or been left out of this article altogether, but are covered in some detail in the sub-articles.
Q8: But this controversy/criticism/praise is all over the news right now! It should be covered in detail in the main article, not buried in a sub-article!
A8: Wikipedia articles should avoid giving undue weight to something just because it is in the news right now. If you feel that the criticism/controversy/praise is not being given enough weight in this article, you can try to start a discussion on the talk page about giving it more. See WP:BRD.
Q9: This article needs much more (or much less) criticism/controversy.
A9: Please try to assume good faith. Like all articles on Wikipedia, this article is a work in progress so it is possible for biases to exist at any point in time. If you see a bias that you wish to address, you are more than welcome to start a new discussion, or join in an existing discussion, but please be ready to provide sources to support your viewpoint and try to keep your comments civil. Starting off your discussion by accusing the editors of this article of having a bias is the quickest way to get your comment ignored.
Talk and article mechanics
Q10: This article is over 275kb long, and the article size guideline says that it should be broken up into sub-articles. Why hasn't this happened?
A10: The restriction mentioned in WP:SIZE is 60kB of readable prose, not the byte count you see when you open the page for editing. As of May 11, 2016, this article had about 10,570 words of readable prose (65 kB according to prosesize tool), only slightly above the guideline. The rest is mainly citations and invisible comments, which do not count towards the limit.
Q11: I notice this FAQ mentions starting discussions or joining in on existing discussions a lot. If Wikipedia is supposed to be the encyclopedia anyone can edit, shouldn't I just be bold and fix any biases that I see in the article?
A11: It is true that Wikipedia is the encyclopedia that anyone can edit and no one needs the permission of other editors of this article to make changes to it. But Wikipedia policy is that, "While the consensus process does not require posting to the discussion page, it can be useful and is encouraged." This article attracts editors that have very strong opinions about Obama (positive and negative) and these editors have different opinions about what should and should not be in the article, including differences as to appropriate level of detail. As a result of this it may be helpful, as a way to avoid content disputes, to seek consensus before adding contentious material to or removing it from the article.
Q12: The article/talk page has been vandalized! Why hasn't anyone fixed this?
A12: Many editors watch this article, and it is unlikely that vandalism would remain unnoticed for long. It is possible that you are viewing a cached result of the article; If so, try bypassing your cache.
Q13: Why are so many discussions closed so quickly?
A13: Swift closure is common for topics that have already been discussed repeatedly, topics pushing fringe theories, and topics that would lead to violations of Wikipedia's policy concerning biographies of living persons, because of their disruptive nature and the unlikelihood that consensus to include the material will arise from the new discussion. In those cases, editors are encouraged to read this FAQ for examples of such common topics.
Q14: I added new content to the article, but it was removed!
A14: Double-check that your content addition is not sourced to an opinion blog, editorial, or non-mainstream news source. Wikipedia's policy on biographies of living persons states, in part, "Material about living persons must be sourced very carefully. Without reliable third-party sources, it may include original research and unverifiable statements, and could lead to libel claims." Sources of information must be of a very high quality for biographies. While this does not result in an outright ban of all blogs and opinion pieces, most of them are regarded as questionable. Inflammatory or potentially libelous content cited to a questionable source will be removed immediately without discussion.
Q15: I disagree with the policies and content guidelines that prevent my proposed content from being added to the article.
A15: That's understandable. Wikipedia is a work in progress. If you do not approve of a policy cited in the removal of content, it's possible to change it. Making cogent, logical arguments on the policy's talk page is likely to result in a positive alteration. This is highly encouraged. However, this talk page is not the appropriate place to dispute the wording used in policies and guidelines. If you disagree with the interpretation of a policy or guideline, there is also recourse: Dispute resolution. Using the dispute resolution process prevents edit wars, and is encouraged.
Q16: I saw someone start a discussion on a topic raised by a blog/opinion piece, and it was reverted!
A16: Unfortunately, due to its high profile, this talk page sees a lot of attempts to argue for policy- and guideline-violating content – sometimes the same violations many times a day. These are regarded as disruptive, as outlined above. Consensus can change; material previously determined to be unacceptable may become acceptable. But it becomes disruptive and exhausting when single-purpose accounts raise the same subject(s) repeatedly in the apparent hopes of overcoming significant objections by other editors. Editors have reached a consensus for dealing with this behavior:
  1. Efforts by established single-purpose accounts to introduce such poorly-sourced content will be summarily deleted.
  2. On the second such attempt, the source in question will be immediately reported to the reliable sources noticeboard for administrative assistance.
New editors who wish to engage in discussions on previously rejected content are encouraged to ensure that their sources do not violate any of Wikipedia's policies and sourcing guidelines.
Q17: Why aren't the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns covered in more detail?
A17: They are, in sub-articles called Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign and Barack Obama 2012 presidential campaign. Things that are notable in the context of the presidential campaigns, but are of minimal notability to Barack Obama's overall biography, belong in the sub-articles. Campaign stops, the presidential debates, and the back-and-forth accusations and claims of the campaigns can all be found there.
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Post-presidency 2[edit]

Does anyone else feel like the "Post-presidency" section has sprawled a bit and could use significant trimming? Therapyisgood (talk) 02:12, 26 April 2021 (UTC)

Or split off to a sub-article. It's likely to have stuff added. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 09:24, 26 April 2021 (UTC)
At a glance, the "On May 16, 2020, Obama delivered..." text seems a little out of WP:PROPORTION. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 09:29, 26 April 2021 (UTC)
Just an FYI, I plan on nominating this for FAR if this isn't addressed. Therapyisgood (talk) 20:36, 11 May 2021 (UTC)
Good evening, this. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 20:52, 11 May 2021 (UTC)

Obama Childhood[edit]

I noticed that a recent edit got reverted about Obama's interaction with the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. I think that this is significant for this article as these are major religious books, and thus Obama interacting with them during his childhood would let the reader know about this. I propose adding the following in the same place from where it was reverted:

In his book ‘A Promised Land’, Obama tells that he spent his childhood years listening to the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.[1] Shakespeare143 (talk) 22:12, 18 May 2021 (UTC)


Here is a link that works for me: [4]. Per article text, "spent his childhood years listening to" is an exagerration. The focus of the piece is his appreciation of Mahatma Gandhi, which may deserve a mention on WP somewhere. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 06:54, 19 May 2021 (UTC)
Do we have info on his favorite cookies? The color of his naptime blanket? This is trivia, it does not belong in this article. ValarianB (talk) 11:51, 19 May 2021 (UTC)
I think it is significant enough because this helps to contextualize his life in Indonesia. I do not think adding a paragraph with 5-10 sentences about how he listened to the Mahabharata and Ramayana would be good for the article, but rather that this single sentence would provide a lot of information. This also provides context for Obama's reasoning for why India "always had a special place in [his] imagination" (Obama wrote this). Obama says that perhaps it's because he spent time listening to the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Shakespeare143 (talk) 01:24, 20 May 2021 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 3 June 2021[edit]

I suggest to change "He was born to an American mother of European descent and an African father" into "He was born to an American mother of European descent and a Kenyan father". (talk) 20:39, 3 June 2021 (UTC)

 Not done for now: please establish a consensus for this alteration before using the {{edit semi-protected}} template. Also, if you'd bothered to read the rest of the paragraph, you will see why "African father" is the correct term for this sentence Zingarese talk · contribs 20:48, 3 June 2021 (UTC)
You're not wrong, Zingarese, but a little less WP:BITE wouldn't hurt. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 20:56, 3 June 2021 (UTC)
Like the OP here, I'm not American, and I thought their suggestion a quite sensible one. "African" seems a very imprecise way of describing his father. It's obviously of significance that his father was a dark skinned person, and I would guess that's what that sentence is trying to tell us. Saying "African" doesn't tell us that. Many African people are not dark skinned. Is there something specific to American usage happening here? HiLo48 (talk) 02:37, 4 June 2021 (UTC)
Yes, please do that. "African" father is very unspecific. Kenya, like "America" is a country. (talk) 03:47, 26 June 2021 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 28 July 2021[edit]

"Debbie Wasserman Schultz was addressed as the purported sender of the packages" should be changed to "Debbie Wasserman Schultz was LISTED as the purported sender of the packages" or alternatively, "The name and address of Debbie Wasserman Schultz were listed on the packages as the purported sender." (talk) 03:09, 28 July 2021 (UTC)

 Done. Seems to make more sense that way. ‑‑Volteer1 (talk) 06:55, 28 July 2021 (UTC)