Wikipedia:Relevance of content
|This page in a nutshell: Stay on topic!|
This essay addresses the relevance of content within individual articles. For guidance on the encyclopedic suitability of subjects or articles as a whole, refer to Wikipedia:Notability. For the suitability of certain types of content, see Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not. For the relevance of links to outside websites, see Wikipedia:External links.
Keep articles focused
Unlike a paper encyclopedia, Wikipedia's size is effectively unlimited. Individual articles, however, should be of finite size and stay focused on a small number of topics for ease of reading and navigation. An article that is dense with information only tenuously connected to its subject does little to inform readers about that subject.
Building Wikipedia articles is a constant process of revision. The focus of an article may change over time as editors add information, and context, from appropriate sources. Some sections of an article may grow beyond a discussion of the subtopic, in relation to the main topic. It is important that the focus of an article remains on its main subject and that information is placed in the appropriate article.
Use summary style
Wikipedia articles should be written in summary style, providing an overview of their subject. This overview may touch upon several related topics or subtopics, but any details not immediately relevant to the primary topic should be moved into other articles, linking to them if appropriate. If coverage of a subtopic grows to the point where it overshadows the main subject (or digresses too far from it), it may be appropriate to spin it off into a sub-article.
Articles on very general subjects should serve as an introduction to the entire subject, and avoid going into detail on topics for which more specific articles exist. Articles on very specific subjects can treat their subject in depth.
The topics an article covers should match the article's title. An article titled Internet should be about the global computer network, not about networking, software, or computers in general. The way in which those subjects relate to the Internet should be described, but all other information about them should be put in networking, software, and computers, respectively. When several concepts share the same name, such as "jet", disambiguation pages or templates should be used.
The bulk of Wikipedia's content consists of:
- Basic description – which explains what the subject is, what it does (or did), and what it is notable for. This type of information should be put in the article lead, or in the first lines of the section to which it is most relevant.
- Factors that have influenced subject's form, role, history, public perception, or other noteworthy traits. The effects of these factors on the subject should be plainly apparent; if they are not, additional context is needed. Groups of disparate facts lack such context, and should be avoided.
More specific guidance on content may be provided by a WikiProject whose scope includes the article in question.
Interactions between subjects
A fact that connects two subjects may be appropriate for mention in the article of one, but not the other. This is often the case with creative works: what is important within the creative work may not exert a measurable influence on the other subject.
For instance, comedian Chevy Chase's depictions of U.S. President Gerald Ford reinforced the public perception of Ford's clumsiness and may merit mention in the articles of both Chevy Chase and Gerald Ford. However, a later depiction of Ford as one of The X Presidents had little effect on him and probably has no place in the article concerning the former president.
- For more information, see Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons
There are particular considerations to keep in mind concerning Biographical subjects. Some people are only famous for their connection to notable events, without having any fame beyond those events. As such, they are not public figures, and details of their personal lives are not relevant to what has made them of encyclopedic interest. See Wikipedia:Avoiding harm (pseudo-biographies) for more details.