Wikipedia:Remember the reader

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Not all readers are specialists, but they still want to learn.

The thinking behind the naming policy is that an encyclopedia is a summary of knowledge for the general public. People look up the common name for something they wish to know more about, and are led to a brief article on the topic which supplies basic information, part of which may be to give and explain the scientific or specialised name of the topic. The articles are not written FOR the specialist, though they may be written BY the specialist. The naming policy was drawn up to remind specialists that the intention of the article should be to inform the general reader. Wikipedia is not a specialist paper, so jargon and specialised terms and language should be explained to the reader per Wikipedia:Jargon. As for articles on Wikipedia using non-common terms – there may be some examples, and there may be reasons for each of these (we tend not to use brand names for example), or it may be that nobody has yet challenged incorrect usage. Articles mentioned in WP:COMMONNAME show the common name not the scientific name.

It is understood that specialists prefer to have the "correct" terminology for the name of an article; however, the name of the Wikipedia article will show up on Google and other searches, and it is the name which navigates people to an article. Using the most common name is the most helpful thing for the common reader, and for the article, as it will deliver more readers to the page. Bear in mind that the specialist will know both the specialist/"correct"/scientific name and the common name, the general reader will likely know only the common name, so a reader looking for an article on Oak may not respond to a result turning up Quercus. Also, under the principle of least astonishment, we want people to be in a position of understanding information without a struggle; and, when they arrive at an article, to be able to quickly identify they are in the right place.

See also[edit]