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Family and religious background
Q1: Why isn't Barack Obama's Muslim heritage or education included in this article?
: 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 Snopes.com
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 
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.)?
: 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?
: 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?
: 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?
: 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?
: 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?
: 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!
: 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.
: 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?
: 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?
: 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?
: 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?
: 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!
: 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
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.
: 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!
: 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:
- Efforts by established single-purpose accounts to introduce such poorly-sourced content will be summarily deleted.
- 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?
: They are, in sub-articles called Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2008
and Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2012
. 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.