Wikipedia:No single merge target
One well-established exception to the general notability guideline is the issue of when content is not separately notable, but has no single merge target. The classic example of this is WP:BAND clause six, which as of this writing reads: "Is an ensemble which contains two or more independently notable musicians, or is a musician who has been a member of two or more independently notable ensembles." Such content is kept despite the lack of (or marginal) notability, because it serves an encyclopedic purpose to do so.
- Why an exception to notability guideline?
Many types of content are verifiable through reliable or otherwise appropriate sources, but don't separately meet the WP:GNG criteria of multiple, reliable, independent, non-trivial sources. Normally, that content is merged somewhere appropriate, but prior to this essay, no universal guideline had been written on what to do with content that had no single merge target: Some such content had been kept (especially per WP:BAND), others had been redirected to one possible merge target, and other content had probably been deleted (contrary to the WP:ATD policy) as too unimportant to keep
- Why not just delete it?
One of Wikipedia's deletion policies is that alternatives to deletion are pursued whenever reasonable. When content doesn't meet criteria for individual standalone articles, but is both verifiable and does not run afoul of WP:NOT it is merged, rather than deleted. However, consider the following situation: a particular musician has been a member of three separate, notable bands, but not a whole lot has been written on him as an individual. If we assume for the sake of argument that he's not, in fact, notable, where do we redirect his article? To the first notable band in which he performed? The biggest? The most current? Each of these alternatives has possibilities and drawbacks, but each is superior to deletion. However, consider another particular musician, who was only ever part of one notable band. If his coverage is insufficient for a standalone article, deletion policy is clear that it should be redirected to his band per WP:ATD. Now, the question: why would it ever make sense to delete the first musician's info and keep the second's after a merger to his band?
- But isn't this just for bands?
The original context where this was articulated was, indeed, a band. However, other fictional elements, biographical articles, and perhaps even Wikipedia topics that have not been considered yet may fall into the same category, of lacking sufficient notability to justify a standalone article, yet having no single merge target. Consider a television character who was part of two notable shows.
Thus, the principle first articulated at WP:BAND clause six can be appropriately applied to any content:
- That lacks coverage sufficient to meet the general notability guideline
- Yet has appropriately verifiable content
- And cannot be merged to a single target per deletion policy
In such cases, the content is best retained as a standalone "article", containing information common to its multiple possible merge targets, with prominent links to each such target. In essence, it becomes much like a hybrid of a disambiguation page and an article.