Wikipedia:Notability (fiction)/proposed-12-9-07

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For articles about books and films, rather than characters and locations therein, please refer to the guidelines Wikipedia:Notability (books) and Wikipedia:Notability (films).

Wikipedia:Notability (fiction) covers the notability of characters, items, places, and other elements within a work of fiction.

Defining notability for fiction[edit]

This guideline is a detailed extension of two excerpts:

From Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not#PLOT:

Wikipedia articles on published works (such as fictional stories) should contain real-world context and sourced analysis, offering detail on a work's development, impact or historical significance, not solely a detailed summary of that work's plot. A brief plot summary may be appropriate as an aspect of a larger topic.

From Wikipedia:Notability:

A topic is presumed to be notable if it has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject.

For articles about fictional concepts, reliable secondary sources cover information such as sales figures, critical and popular reception, development, cultural impact, and merchandise; this information describes the real-world aspects of the concept, so it is real-world content.

Based on this reasoning and the above excerpts, fictional concepts can be presumed notable if they have received substantial coverage in reliable secondary sources.

Types of content[edit]

There are two distinct kinds of content about works of fiction: real-world content and plot summary. The purpose of an encyclopedia is to provide real-world content. Plot summary can be included where it assists to understand the real-world content.

Fictional topics are notable if sufficient real-world content about them is available. If this is not the case, the article should be merged or removed as described further below.

Real-world content[edit]

Real-world content (also called out-of-universe content) describes the relation of the work of fiction to the real world. This may comprise, for example,

  • historical origins of the work,
  • critical reception and controversies reported in the press,
  • information about derived works,
  • sales figures, release dates, and other commercial data.

Real-world content must be attributed to reliable sources, preferably independent ones, in particular where it refers to critical reception.

Plot summary[edit]

The term plot summary (also called in-universe content) is used here for all content that describes the work's plot, regardless how it is organized. This would include a direct summary of the main plot, but also a description of individual elements (episodes, chapters, characters, fictional places, events, objects, etc.), cross-reference lists ("which character appeared where"), and any other form of partially re-telling the work's contents.

The sole purpose of plot summary on Wikipedia is to provide context for real-world content. It should be limited to this extent. Plot summary that does not have associated real-world content, either in the same article or a directly related article, should be shortened or removed.

Types of sources[edit]

Sources must be reliable. Only these confer notability. Typical examples of reliable sources about fiction are

  • coverage about the fictional work in the mainstream press,
  • coverage about (not broadcast of) the fictional work on TV.

Typical examples of not reliable sources about fiction are

In order to confer notability, sources must also be independent of the fictional work's publisher. In particular, this excludes any press releases, announcements, and advertisements by the makers of the work. (For a topic which is otherwise notable, such sources may however be useful to make article content verifiable.)

Dealing with fiction[edit]

The following sections use the term "article" to encompass articles, sub-articles, and lists.


Wikipedia is not divided into a macropædia, micropædia, and concise versions as is the Encyclopædia Britannica — we must serve all three user types in the same encyclopedia. Wikipedia:Summary style is based on the premise that information about a topic should not all be contained in a single article since different readers have different needs;

  • many readers need just a quick summary of the topic's most important points (lead section),
  • others need a moderate amount of info on the topic's more important points (a set of multi-paragraph sections), and
  • some readers need a lot of detail on one or more aspects of the topic (links to full-sized separate articles).

The top or survey article should have general summary information and the more detailed summaries of each subtopic should be in daughter articles and in articles on specific subjects. This can be thought of as layering inverted pyramids where the reader is shown the tip of a pyramid (the lead section) for a topic and within that article any section may have a {{main|<subpage name>}} or similar link to a full article on the topic summarized in that section (see Yosemite National Park#History and History of the Yosemite area for an example using two featured articles). The summary in a section at the survey article will necessarily be at least twice as long as the lead section in the daughter article. The daughter article in turn can also serve as a survey article for its specific part of the topic. And so on until a topic is very thoroughly covered. Thus by navigational choices several different types of readers get the amount of detail they want.

How notability impacts upon this layering of articles is at present unclear. Certainly the more detailed articles should be written in a style in keeping with the manual of style and Wikipedia is not a plot summariser. There must also be consideration of sourcing. Article should only be developed to that level of detail that independent sources allow. Descriptions of the fictional work itself may be included, inasmuch as they are necessary for understanding the out-of-universe information. The level of detail coverage should be judged in relation to the magnitude of the work covered, also taking into account any potential copyright issues.


If articles on fictional works can be improved, this should be solved through regular editing, rather than deletion. A variety of tags can be added to articles to note the problem. These are listed here. Some of the more common ones include


Articles that are short and unlikely to be expanded can often be merged into a larger article or list. For example, stub pages about minor characters in works of fiction are generally merged into a list article. Larger articles which shorten in length when edited in line with policy can also be merged in such a way, each article ultimately having a paragraph in a larger list which is referred to within the main article. When considering which characters or concepts to add to a list, editors should evaluate the importance of the character or concept to the fictional work itself. Where this importance is disputed, normal dispute resolution is the method of settling such issues.


Disputes over page content are not dealt with by deleting the page. Likewise, disagreement over a policy or guideline is not dealt with by deleting it. Similarly, issues with an inappropriate user page can often be resolved through discussion with the user.

The content issues should be discussed at the relevant talk page, and other methods of dispute resolution should be used first, such as listing on Wikipedia:Requests for comments for further input. Deletion discussions that are really unresolved content disputes may be closed by an administrator, and referred to the talk page or other appropriate forum.


Consider whether the article could be transwikied to a suitable wiki (such as Wikia or its Wikipedia Annex). For example, the Xenosaga lists on planets, terms, and organizations had no chance of showing notability, so they were transwikied to the Xenosaga Wikia and redirected to the main Xenosaga page. The article is then redirected to the most relevant article to preserve edit history for the transwiki.


  • If the article meets our criteria for speedy deletion, one can use a criterion-specific deletion tag listed on that page. However, the lack of notability is not a criteria for speedy deletion.
  • Use the {{prod}} tag, for articles which do not meet the criteria for speedy deletion, but are uncontroversial deletion candidates. This allows the article to be deleted after five days if nobody objects. For more information, see Wikipedia:Proposed deletion.
  • For cases where you are unsure about deletion or believe others might object, nominate the article for the articles for deletion process, where the merits will be debated and deliberated for 5 days.

Avoid creating brand new articles on fictional topics that lack substantial real-world content (and ideally an out-of-universe perspective) from the onset. Editors may be asked to prove, preferably in the article itself, that there is an availability of sources providing real-world information by: providing hyperlinks to such sources; outlining a rewrite, expansion, or merge plan; and/or gaining the consensus of established editors. Otherwise, the article will be subject to the options above. Place appropriate clean-up tags to stimulate activity and mark the articles as needing attention.

Relocating non-notable fictional material[edit]

Wikibooks, Wikipedia's sibling project, contains instructional and educational texts. These include annotated works of fiction (on the Wikibooks:annotated texts bookshelf) for classroom or private study use. Wikisource, similarly, holds original public domain and GFDL source texts. See Wikisource:Wikisource and Wikibooks. One possible action to consider is to make use of all of the Wikimedia projects combined: to have an encyclopedia article about the work of fiction on Wikipedia giving a brief outline, a chapter-by-chapter annotation on Wikibooks, the full source text on Wikisource (if the work is in the public domain), and interwiki links joining them all together into a whole. However, Wikibooks opposes in-universe books, so it is not an appropriate place to transwiki large quantities of in-universe material.

Fictional material unsuited or too detailed for Wikipedia can be transwikied to the appropriate Wikia, such as Final Fantasy Wikia and Wookieepedia. Other sites, such as Gaming Wiki, may also accept material. Transwikied material should be edited to meet the guidelines of specific wikias; do not just copy and paste. The Wikia Annex is a staging area for transwikied material and a place for non-notable fictional material that does not have another home; the original Wikipedia versions will also be stored there.

See also[edit]