Wikipedia:Wikipuffery

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The multicoloured feathers look impressive when they're puffed up, but without the feathers, the peacock looks just like an ordinary bird.

Wikipuffery is the puffing of a subject or the addition of praise-filled adjectives and claims. They may be there to exaggerate the notability of the article subject to avoid deletion of the article. Examples include use of adjectives such as "famous", "notable", "award-winning", "acclaimed", or "influential", detailed listings of minor biographical details (including complete lists of anything related to the person or topic), and lead paragraphs that proclaim the superiority of the subject.

Puffery[edit]

The examples below use puffery:

  • Foo Barkley (born 1970) is a highly-acclaimed, award-winning American filmmaker ...
  • Talia Xshosa (born 1960) is a renowned, critically-acclaimed Nigerian novelist ...
  • Bringers of Death are a legendary, highly influential death metal band from Albany, NY ...

Neutral, factual tone[edit]

In a Wikipedia article, there should not be praise-filled (nor criticism-filled) adjectives appended to the subject's name. A more neutral tone and the provision of factual information, cited to a reliable source, on the other hand, is the appropriate style. Don't tell readers that the subject is great; tell them neutrally what the individual or band did or achieved, and let them make their own decision:

  • Foo Barkley (born 1970) is an American filmmaker. In 2001, he won the Schenectady Film Critics Award for his short film Truth[1] and in 2011 he won the Rockville, Maryland Film Festival's Best Director Award for his feature film Final Odyssey.[2] ...
  • Talia Xshosa (born 1960) is a Nigerian novelist. In 2000, she won the Nigerian Writer's Award for her novel Sensitive.[3] ...
  • Bringers of Death are a death metal band from Albany, NY. According to metal historian Alger Holdens, the band "... influenced several early 1990s East coast death metal bands from the US, such as Filth and Exiled."[4] ...

Warning signs[edit]

These articles may have lots of footnotes to non-reliable sources (Myspace, Facebook, etc) or to sources that do not specifically mention the subject, and the stilted language resulting when editors stitch together passing references in reliable sources in consecutive sentences to make it appear as if there has been significant independent coverage of the subject. Synthesis of published material to reach a novel conclusion is also a common trait. A Rolling Stone article says that "young garage bands are reinvigorating the music industry". Since the article subject is a garage band, the editor then does a novel synthesis: "Rolling Stone magazine suggests that young garage bands like XYZ are 'reinvigorating the music industry'".

Wikipuffery can occur in an article on any topic. However, some topics are more prone to Wikipuffery than others. Articles about bands, especially non-notable garage bands and college bands, tend to have a lot of Wikipuffery. If the band plays an unpaid warm-up spot at a music festival for a well-known local band which opened for the special guests to the headliners (say, Metallica), the article will deceptively inform the reader that the band "opened for Metallica". Articles about individuals who have attained a fleeting celebrity for their involvement in a reality TV show or a highly-publicized brush with the law may also have Wikipuffery, as some editors try to "plump up" the article with trivial references to keep the article from being deleted. Wikipuffery can also occur in articles about writers, poets, or other creative individuals.

Anti-"reliable sources"-ism[edit]

Conversely, but far less regularly, the opposite effect, Anti-"reliable sources"-ism, may occur. This is normally manifested in cases where editors remove relevant and encyclopedic information from an article and/or its main factor of notability. This can sometimes occur in articles about celebrities in which the majority of the information that is added is trivial gossip and innuendo sourced from tabloid websites and POV praise sourced from non-reliable sources such as fan websites. In these types of articles, attempts to add information about the individual from reputable sources may be deleted. For example, in the case of a Hollywood actor who is better known for debauchery and scandal than acting skill, quotations from a reputable source such as a Variety or Time magazine film review that criticizes his acting skills may be deleted.

Related issues that should be distinguished[edit]

Wikipuffery should be distinguished from the promotional language that results from doing "cut and pastes" from advertising or websites written by the subject's publicist (a copyright violation), even though the effect (vague, unsubstantiated positive claims) is similar. Conversely, efforts to do anti-puffery and delete references to reputable sources should be distinguished from situations of conflict of interest, in which an editor with connections to the article topic tries to remove any negative coverage of the article topic—even if it comes from the most reputable sources. Protection against both may be sought in examination of any source material provided; one reference to Encyclopedia Britannica is better than fifty MySpace references.

Misapplication of the term[edit]

The term wikipuffery may be applied as a disparagement of efforts to retain articles of questioned notability. Good-faith additions, such as using sources which are not strong, should not be confused with edits which add personal opinion or synthesis. Each claim and source should stand on its own merits. While Wikipedia:Articles for deletion may sometimes appear to be a battleground, it is not the venue for unfounded accusations of "wikipuffery."

See also[edit]

Templates[edit]