Wikipedia:Notability comparison test
This page is an essay on notability.
This essay articulates a notability comparison test for articles on Wikipedia. It is based on the argument that another article B, which is less than or equally notable to an article currently nominated for deletion A, exists on Wikipedia, has survived one or more AfDs, has never been nominated for deletion, or never has its notability questioned via means other than an AfD(s); and thus A merits being kept for consistent application of policies.
In this essay, 'an article's notability' is a shorthand for 'the notability of an article's subject/topic.'
The argument on which this test is based is a parity argument regarding an article's notability. It raises a possibility of double standard being used on Wikipedia at the time of a particular discussion. A person who would like to make the argument usually starts by asking ’what about article x?‘ or ‘the same can be said of x.’ The now-unused Pokémon test is one particular past example of this argument. A parity argument involves showing that the justification that the other side uses to justify his/her conclusion also justifies another conclusion that turns out to be undesirable to him/her.
Example: If Person A argues that Wikipedia should not contain sexually explicit photographs as images in articles because they are pornographic, person B can respond to A that A's reasoning would also justify describing textbooks on anatomy and textbooks on human sexuality as pornographic and thus those textbooks should not contain sexually explicit photographs as illustrations. This conclusion is undesirable because a human sexuality textbook without photographs of human sexual anatomy is of little use to students. If A denies that her reasoning has this unintended consequence, then A is employing a double standard.
The uses of the parity argument by the former Soviet Union and modern-day Russia are sometimes called 'whataboutism'. Despite its notoriety, its instances are not always unsound. Their soundness depends on the similarities between the situational contexts (such as Crimea vs. Kosovo) used in them. Indeed, Americans should be careful when opposing unilateral declarations of independence given the circumstance of the founding of the United States.
If the article under consideration (A) is more notable than or equally notable to another article (B), and A does not violate what Wikipedia is not, then:
- If B merits inclusion on Wikipedia, then A also merits inclusion on Wikipedia.
- If A does not merit inclusion on Wikipedia, then B also does not merit inclusion on Wikipedia (meaning that both A and B must be deleted).
The test relies on two premises:
- Notability is graded (from low to high). In other words, it is not all or nothing but comes in degrees.
- Every Wikipedia article is subjected to the same notability criteria.
Premise 1: Notability is graded
There are different ways to describe notability of an article's subject such as in terms of how many people know about the subject, but the way it is understood on Wikipedia is that whether or not an article is notable depends on the amount of coverage by reliable sources that are independent of the article's subject. Since a subject can have more coverage than the coverage that another subject has, it follows that notability is graded. This gradation is the basis for the test. As an illustration, suppose that, in order to be included in one's personal List of super-high mountains, a mountain must have a significant height (analogous to significant coverage for notability). If one knows that Denali is on the list and then one discovers the existence of a higher mountain than Denali, say Mount Everest, then one also discovers that Everest also belongs on the list because it is higher than Denali, which is already on the list.
Premise 2: A single standard is used
This one is pretty straightforward. If we use multiple standards, then we should have some specific, relevant reason for why we do so. Otherwise, only a single notability standard is used for every article. The reason why using double standard is frowned upon is that the usage is often arbitrary. The specific notability guidelines (such as that of astronomical objects) for different topics are for determining an article's notability level given the context of the article within those topics.
Using the test
Care must be taken when trying to show that an article is more notable or equally notable than another article. While that United States is more notable than Sacramento is easy to be established, that Justin Bieber is more notable than Kanye West might not be. Also, a comparison would be most likely convincing if it is made between two articles within the same topics (such as comparing a one geographical feature to another or a politician to another).
Case study: Episodes of a TV series
On Wikipedia, every individual episode of several TV series each has its own article. These series include Game of Thrones, South Park, Star Trek: The Next Generation, American Horror Story, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and The Walking Dead. Some series have an article for most of their episodes (usually those of the older seasons): Family Guy and Modern Family. It is possible to justify creating an article for every episode of a series by citing the series's popularity, which ensures that significant coverage exists for every episode. However, whether or not this is the case for every of the series mentioned above is an open question. Also, a case can be made for creating an article for every episode of a series not mentioned above if one can show that that series is popular enough such that every of its episodes is covered more significantly (or equally significantly) than the episodes of one of the series mentioned above. For example, a comparison can be made between episodes of South Park (mentioned above) and episodes of House of Cards. Possible sources can be episode recaps and reviews on various news websites.