Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Trivia sections

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Avoid creating lists of miscellaneous information. A number of articles contain lists of isolated information, which are often grouped into their own section, labeled "Trivia", "Notes" (not to be confused with "Notes" sections that store footnotes), "Facts", "Miscellanea", "Other information", etc. This style guideline deals with the way in which these facts are represented in an article, not with whether the information contained within them is actually trivia, or whether trivia belongs in Wikipedia.

Trivia sections should be avoided. If they must exist, they should in most cases be considered temporary, until a better method of presentation can be determined. Lists of miscellaneous information can be useful for developing a new article, as they represent an easy way for novice contributors to add information without having to keep in mind article organization or presentation: they can just add a new fact to the list. As articles grow, however, these lists may become increasingly disorganized and difficult to read. A better way to organize an article is to provide a logical grouping and ordering of facts that gives an integrated presentation, providing context and smooth transitions, whether in text, list, or table.

Guidance[edit]

See also Wikipedia:Handling trivia#Practical steps

Trivia sections should not simply be removed from articles in all cases. It may be possible to integrate some items into the article text. Some facts may belong in existing sections, while others may warrant a new section. Integrate trivia items into the body of the article if appropriate. Otherwise, see if the trivia section contains sources for a particular aspect of the subject of the article, and then consider using the section items as a basis for a different article discussing that aspect. Items that duplicate material elsewhere in the article, have no support from reliable sources, or lack real importance can be removed in most cases.

Research may be necessary to give each fact some context or to add references. Any speculative or factually incorrect entries should be removed, entries outside the scope of the article should be moved to other articles, and entries such as "how-to" material or tangential/irrelevant facts may fall outside Wikipedia's scope and should be removed altogether.

What this guideline is not[edit]

There are a number of pervasive misunderstandings about this guideline and the course of action it suggests:

  • This guideline does not suggest removing trivia sections, or moving them to the talk page. If information is otherwise suitable, it is better that it be poorly presented than not presented at all.
  • This guideline does not suggest always avoiding lists in favor of prose. Some information is better presented in list format.
  • This guideline does not suggest the inclusion or exclusion of any information; it only gives style recommendations. Issues of inclusion are addressed by content policies.

Not all list sections are trivia sections[edit]

In this guideline, the term "trivia section" refers to a section's content, not its name. A trivia section is one that contains a disorganized and "unselective" list. However, a selectively populated list with a relatively narrow theme is not necessarily trivia, and can be the best way to present some types of information.

Other policies apply[edit]

Trivia sections found in other publications outside Wikipedia (such as IMDb) may contain speculation, rumor, invented "facts", or even libel. However, trivia sections (and others) in Wikipedia articles must not contain those, and their content must be maintained in accordance with Wikipedia's other policies. An item's degree of potential public interest will not excuse it from being subject to rules like verifiability, neutral point-of-view, or no original research. It is always best to cite sources when adding new facts to a trivia section, or any other section.

Example[edit]

Here is an example of the type of "list of miscellaneous facts" that should be avoided in Wikipedia articles. The facts themselves are not the issue here: the problem is with their organization.

  • Before college, Monroe was a classmate of future U. S. Supreme Court justice John Marshall.
  • During the Revolutionary War, Monroe dropped out of college and never returned to earn a degree.
  • Monrovia is named after Monroe; it is the only foreign city named after a US President.
  • A famous quote of Monroe's: "The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil."
  • Monroe, as president, saw five states admitted to the union.

See James Monroe for a better way of organizing these facts.

"In popular culture" and "Cultural references" material[edit]

Shortcuts:

A large number of articles contain a section on media references to, and other popular culture coverage or portrayal of, the subject of the Wikipedia article in which the section is written. Such sections are most often titled "In popular culture", though some more encyclopedic alternatives are in increasing use, e.g. "Cultural references". This material is not categorically trivial. Media coverage of a topic is generally encyclopedic information, helps establish the topic's notability, and helps readers understand the subject's influence on the public (and often vice versa). Unfortunately, these sections are frequently just lists of appearances and mentions, many of them unencyclopedically trivial.[1] These can be flagged for cleanup with the {{In popular culture}} template.

Short cultural references sections should usually be entirely reworked into the main flow the article. If a separate section for this material is maintained, the poorest approach is a list, which will attract the addition of trivia. It is preferable to develop a normal article section with well-written paragraphs that give a logically presented overview (often chronological and/or by medium) of how the subject has been documented, featured, and portrayed in different media and genres, for various purposes and audiences.

Other guidance: See WP:No original research for why and how to avoid engaging in your own novel analysis of this coverage. See WP:Verifiability and WP:Identifying reliable sources for referencing standards; the more notable the topic is, and the more notable the topic's treatment in the media has been, the more likely there are already reliable sources that discuss that treatment and, for a modern biographical or organizational subject, their reactions to it. See WP:Neutral point of view for principles to apply in balancing Wikipedia treatment of cultural references to the subject. Wikipedia has no policies or guidelines addressing the content of pop-culture sections specifically, though an essay, WP:"In popular culture" content, provides some views on how to approach such material.

See also[edit]