Wikipedia:What notability is not
|This essay contains comments and advice of one or more Wikipedia contributors on the topic of notability. Essays may represent widespread norms or minority viewpoints. Consider these views with discretion. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines.|
Notability is not objective
It is sometimes stated on Wikipedia that the primary notability criterion is not a subjective criterion. Nevertheless, the criterion itself contains four subjective words, specifically "A topic is presumed to be notable if it has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject." Whilst guidance on notability is useful, it is intended as a rule of thumb, and not the only consideration in a debate. Rather, the contents and subject of the article should frame the debate, and arguments should be put forward relating specifically to that content and subject. It is not helpful to declare a subject non-notable, an editor should express their opinion as to why the article is non-notable, referencing both the article contents and any relevant policy or guidance offered on Wikipedia. They should also not seek to stifle debate simply by declaring that notability is an objective fact. As the guidance itself states, notability is a presumption; it is an assumption or supposition made with a degree of certainty, not an assertion of certitude. The significance of coverage, reliability of sources and the independence of the sources are all issues which should be explored within a deletion debate, not simply contended by an editor, and it is the debate which decides the notability of a given subject on Wikipedia, not an individual editor. A topic's inclusion in Wikipedia is decided by a consensus of Wikipedians, nothing more and nothing less.
Notability is not permanent
Since consensus can change on Wikipedia, Wikipedians should not state that notability is permanent. Wikipedia operates by consensus, and that process includes deciding what is and isn't suitable for inclusion on Wikipedia. Those standards are subject to change, as can be seen in a number of deletion debates. Articles which were thought notable and suitable for inclusion earlier in the history of Wikipedia have later been deleted. Therefore it is a fallacy to declare Notability is permanent. This is not to be confused with Notability is not temporary.
Notability is not judged in isolation
Notability of a topic can often carry through to key features of that topic. This is especially obvious in fiction where a fictional place may not be notable on its own, but might be the primary setting or character of a notable work of fiction (e.g. Arrakis is the primary setting in the Dune universe). The best test for this sort of relationship is to ask, "would a very short summary of the parent topic be expected to include the child topic?" Even then, typically such subordinate topics are merged into the parent unless (as noted above) size limitations make this option less ideal.
Notability is not a meritocracy
It is a good idea, when writing a stub of a new article, to mention important awards or accomplishments of the subject of the article. Still, it is not a good idea to turn things around and pretend that someone must get awards or pass through some arbitrary set of conditions to "earn" a place in Wikipedia. Awards and accomplishments are useful because they don't come from out of the blue; someone who has earned a Grammy or an Academy Award is likely to have already received the required coverage in the press to justify inclusion. But if someone did get such recognition, but did not receive awards (or did not receive enough awards), then he may be included anyway. Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia, an article on someone with 5 awards does not remove space or resources for someone else with 10 awards, so we don't need to be selective.