Wikipedia:Run-of-the-mill

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It is not practical to have an article on each of these identical-looking cookie cutter homes

Something that is run-of-the-mill is a common, everyday, ordinary item that does not stand out from the rest. Something or someone that is "run-of-the-mill" is probably not notable. The phrase "run of the mill" appears to have originated from early factory quality control and described work that had not been graded and was therefore unlikely to be either exceptionally good or exceptionally bad.[1]

There are many subjects for which reliable sources independent of the subject exist. One may assume on this basis that they are notable. There are just so many of these things in the world, which are so commonplace that if an article on each were to be created, there would be so many articles on these alone, possibly more than there are total Wikipedia articles to this day and Wikipedia would be clogged with them, in the sense that it would be harder to structure content and it would make it hard to find notable material.

A street map shows every street within a city, down to every cul-de-sac with just four houses. Every city has several detailed street maps that have been published. In one square mile of an urban area, there are hundreds, even thousands of streets and there can be hundreds of square miles within a city and its suburbs. It is not practical to create an article on every street as the high volume might overwhelm the capacity of editors to maintain them. Almost every city has police and fire departments. These departments can be so busy that they are mentioned almost daily in the local news but again, they are just ordinary police and fire departments doing their jobs.

Many people have one or more obituaries published detailing the fact that they died, information regarding their deaths and often information about their families and lives. This information is published in a newspaper, a reliable source. But in a single major city, there will be dozens of obituaries published each day.

For such a commonplace item to be worthy for inclusion in an article, there must be sources provided other than those that would source so many others just like it. This shows that there is also something unusual, something unique about that subject so that the article is not just blank is blank (which would essentially be a dictionary entry) and that it does not resemble hundreds of other articles by containing mostly the same words with a few fill-in-the-blanks. Once such notability has been established, the common sources (e.g. a map for a street) can then be used to verify the accuracy of information.

Examples of items that may be run-of-the-mill[edit]

This strip mall is probably important to the nearby residents, and it is probably mentioned in a number of local newspapers and newsletters. But this doesn't make it notable.

Some subjects in particular are extremely commonplace. This does not mean they are never notable. But it is surely not possible for all of them to be.

Residential[edit]

Nearly every house is listed in some directory identifying the company that built it and the people who live in it. This does not make it notable. There is a right to privacy when it comes to writing about a residence. Articles can be created on historic houses that a notable person has lived in or that are notable for another reason. Apartment complexes, housing developments and trailer parks, even though there may be websites about each one and even though they are often displayed on maps, are not notable on this basis.

Commercial[edit]

Shopping centers, strip malls, office buildings, business or industrial parks or medical centers may have a lot of information from reliable sources giving them bare mention.

In every city and town are single location businesses (e.g. retail, restaurant, gas station, auto repair shop, motel) and in some places, most businesses fit this description. Yet they may be mentioned in reliable sources.

Sports[edit]

It has already been accepted that professional athletes, regardless of their accomplishments in their field, may receive coverage. Local newspapers also cover high school and college athletes, in every city and town, there are several high schools and colleges and papers that cover them; inevitably, these athletes will receive coverage.

In professional sports, each game will receive deep coverage from the local papers of the team's city and at minimum, a box score from papers elsewhere. Each professional sports league has plenty of teams (some have more than 30) and a sports season has many games (Major League Baseball has 162 per season). It is not practical to have an article on every game ever played. Imagine an article on "July 8 Cardinals vs. Brewers game" and "July 9 Cardinals vs. Brewers game" and "July 11 Cardinals vs. Cubs game" and so on. More encyclopedic would be articles like 2009 St. Louis Cardinals season, which describe the highlights of the season.

What not to create[edit]

Some articles not to create based on common sources only are:

  • A restaurant that has been given reviews in the local papers
  • A local club supporting a hobby or interest, or a local organization promoting some cause
  • Regular-season games in a professional sport (A post-season series should be in an article about the series rather than in articles about individual games)
  • The local festival or other scheduled event that occurs annually
  • A bank that has been mentioned in the news each of the 5 times it has been robbed in its 30-year existence
  • The side street where once every few years, a news-reported crime has occurred
  • An ordinary political rally or candidate announcement or press conference
  • A lawyer who provides legal commentary for a local television or radio station

Dealing with a run-of-the-mill article[edit]

First, make sure the article is on a run-of-the-mill subject:

  • Does the written text seem to imply there is something unusual about the subject or something that may be encyclopedic? Just because something belongs to a category that might often be run-of-the-mill doesn't mean that the example is.
  • Examine the reference, sources and external links provided. Do they meet WP:RS guidelines? Do they come from international, national or local sources?
  • Is the topic one that is normally accepted by Wikipedia's guidelines?

If, after this review, you feel the article is, indeed, run-of-the-mill, you may take action.

  • Consider if any appropriate tags may be placed on top of the page in lieu of immediate deletion that may encourage others to improve the article. A suggested merge is sometimes an option.
  • Blatant spam, advertising, and self-promotion shall be speedy-deleted, marked with {{db-spam}}.
  • If the item (other than a person, business or organization) is a part of something larger, it may be merged or redirected to that page.
  • If something is truly not notable or is likely not to be considered notable, it may be nominated for deletion. This will give others a chance to discuss if it may be worth deleting the information. You may also start by using the {{prod}} tag to see if the deletion is challenged by someone else.

See also[edit]

References[edit]