|This page in a nutshell: Anecdotes, trivia, and unreleased film information from IMDb do not meet the reliable sources guideline. The IMDb should be used only as a tertiary source for hard data on released films.|
Citing the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) on Wikipedia raises questions if such references follow the important points given in Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources. This is because much of the database content in IMDb is contributed by users, not by experts. Plus, the editorial oversight by IMDb staff is minimal and not stated on the site, so you don't know what was edited and what was not.
The following essay addresses the usage of IMDb as a reference source, where its weaknesses and strengths lie with regard to content and policy, and the resulting ways you can and can't use it in Wikipedia's articles.
IMDb content which is acceptable to reference on Wikipedia include:
- That with the writing credits marked with "WGA" that are supplied directly by the Writers Guild of America (where applicable).
- The MPAA ratings reasons, where they appear, that are supplied directly by the Motion Picture Association of America.
For both of these uses, no citations are necessary because the film itself is implied to be the primary source.
IMDb content which is in dispute about whether it is appropriate to reference on Wikipedia:
- Released films only: Sections such as the cast list, character names, the crew lists, release dates, company credits, awards, soundtrack listing, filming locations, technical specs, alternate titles, running times, and rating certifications.
IMDb content inappropriate to reference on Wikipedia:
- Any potentially contentious material about living persons (BLPs).
- Cast lists, etc. for films and television programming that are still in development or production, and have yet to premiere. (These could change at any time.)
- The user comments for each title (this includes user reviews and ratings), which are pure user-generated content.
- Sections written in wiki-style with minimal editorial control. Those would be the FAQs for particular titles (not the database FAQ), the parental guides, and the plot synopses (not to be confused with the plot outlines or plot summaries, which are subject to editorial control).
- Newsgroup reviews, which are archived Usenet postings.
- The trivia and goofs sections that are based on user submissions.
- The recommendations.
- Wikipedia:External links/Perennial websites (WP:ELP) – further info on when to use IMDb (e.g., as an External link, not as a source)
- Wikipedia:WikiProject Film/Resources § Questionable resources (WP:RS/IMDB) – specific guideline regarding the inappropriateness of using IMDb as a reference source at film- and television-related articles