Wikipedia:Avoid mission statements
|This page is an essay, containing the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.|
|This page in a nutshell: Mission statements rarely tell us much and should generally not be transcribed in full in Wikipedia articles.|
Many companies, non-profits and other organizations briefly describe their aspirations in the form of mission statements and/or slogans. These rarely provide any insight into the company, what it does, or the impact it has. Rather they focus on platitudes rather than the kind of specifics Wikipedia aspires to. In short, they rarely tell us anything useful and do not help establish the notability of the company or organization.
While these statements may be very meaningful to those in the organization, they are rarely differentiable from any other mission statement. If a mission statement doesn't describe the organization, help readers understand how this organization is unique and doesn't support the notability of the subject, it probably should not be transcribed in full in the article.
In some cases, it might be appropriate to paraphrase a lengthy mission statement, thus removing the flowery, self-promotional language. For example, if a company mission statement uses weasel words to claim that the firm aims at "producing amplifiers that are widely seen as the most premium, pro-grade gear, that is of legendary quality", this might be paraphrased as "The firm's mission statement states that the company aims to produce quality products." But in the end, is this goal any different than any other similar business? Does it tell us anything? Even this should probably be left out of the article.
Additionally, a full mission statement appearing in a Wikipedia article, especially if it is lengthy, is seen by some Wikipedia editors as a "red flag" for a possible conflict of interest. This is because editors directly involved with the company or organization are generally those most interested in promoting awareness of the mission statement.
Mission statements generally suffer from some fundamental problems that are incompatible with Wikipedia style guidelines:
- Even though mission statements are verifiable, they are written by the company itself, which makes them a primary source.
- They contain boastful words and puffed-up, flowery language.
- They contain vague unsubstantiated claims such as We are the industry leaders in commitment to <insert industry here> excellence.
- They focus on the speculation about the future of the company: becoming the industry leader, or the top producer, or the most reliable manufacturer.
- They are promotional in both tone and purpose.
- They are not usually verifiable in third party sources.
When should mission statements be included?
The rare mission statement which is specific and speaks directly to how that organization is notable (such as Wikimedia's mission statement or even the preamble to the United States Constitution) should be included in the article prose and adequately cited, rather than simply copied verbatim and left to stand on its own. Tell the reader why and how reliable secondary sources view portions of the mission statement as an important part of how the organization works and reference not just the mission statement itself (which is, by definition, a primary source) but also third party sources that provide that analysis of the mission statement.
Another case in which mission statements can be included, at least in part, is in cases where the mission statement has been written about by secondary or tertiary sources. In some cases, controversies have arisen in regards to company mission statements, often because a company's actions are greatly at odds with its mission statement, and these controversies have been the subject of investigative reports in newspapers, magazines, and books. If a reputable source discusses a company's mission statement, it may be appropriate to include points raised in these sources.
However, Wikipedia editors should be careful not to become "investigative journalists" themselves in an attempt to identify ways in which a company's actions do not meet to goals in its mission statement. This would be synthesis and/or original research, both of which are prohibited.
- Chipotle Mexican Grill § Food sourcing, for an example of points from a corporate mission statement effectively incorporated into the article's prose.
- "Mission Statement". Wikimedia. Retrieved 2009-11-13.
- An example of synthesis in this context would be if a Wikipedia editor described a company's mission statement (A), and then described incidents in newspaper reports that appear to conflict with that mission statement (B), and then arrived at a synthesis (A+B=C), in which he or she would assert that the company had violated its mission statement. Only an independent published source can arrive at these types of conclusions. For us humble Wikipedia editors, all we can do is "just the facts", without synthesis or speculation.