Wikipedia:No original biographies

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This essay documents the sometimes-mentioned belief that Wikipedia should have no original biographies of living persons about whom a considerable amount has not already been published.

Content[edit]

Wikipedia should have a biography of a living person only if independent, reliable sources have published biographies of that person before. Moreover, the Wikipedia article should be primarily based on this independent biographical coverage.

Rationale[edit]

Many of Wikipedia's problems arise from biographies of living persons, either because of vandalism or POV-pushing, either of which can potentially lead to libel concerns, conflicts of interest, OTRS complaints or legal threats, and public relations issues. Often these issues are more problematic on articles where the subject is "marginally" notable, or in particular where reliable sources of sufficient quality are lacking. An original biography may be considered original research if no external biography is found so it is best not to create a biography unless one can be found.

Wikipedia can have a very loud voice; it displays prominently in many search engine results, and if there is a lack of other prominent information available, such a loud voice may have a disproportionate impact on a person's life. This brings up important ethical and maintenance issues: bearing in mind that a biography on Wikipedia can potentially impact its subject if readers rely (or are forced to rely) on the content of a Wikipedia article, if we as a community cannot be reasonably sure that what we're saying about a person is accurate, should we be saying anything at all?

Resolving the problem[edit]

Various means of resolving problems with original biographies have been proposed. WP:BLP1E suggests that articles about people notable for only one event should not be displayed as apparent biographies. Taking into account BLP's Wikipedia:BLP#Presumption in favor of privacy, BLP deletion standards have been proposed or debated which might allow individuals to request deletion of articles about them, if there is no clear need for such an article.

Status[edit]

This is specifically being marked as an essay at this time, because in the original author's opinion consensus is unlikely to exist for its adoption as a guideline or policy. The page may still be useful for informational purposes.