The general utility or usefulness of an article for use as reference information should be a criterion to keep a Wikipedia article or section. Utility should be a criteria that can be used, regardless of the article's perceived notability. This rule appears to already be used, although it is not explicitly stated. Articles must still be encyclopedic, and not contradict WP:NOT.
For example, individual mobile phones models are rarely notable, but the usefulness of the individual articles to consumers, developers, and people in the telecommunications should be adequate reason to keep the articles in Wikipedia.
Likewise, individual suburbs, train cars, or movies are all rarely notable, and would unlikely warrant space in a paper encyclopedia. In Wikipedia, however, it is utility and not the notability of these articles which decides their inclusion.
Articles on topics which are neither notable—nor generally useful—should be considered for deletion.
Utility vs. What Wikipedia is not
Utility, by itself, appears to be directly contravened by a large number of points from Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not. Almost any bit of information is useful to someone, yet many kinds or forms of information are excluded as a matter of policy.
Not all information, however, supports Wikipedia's mission to be an encyclopedia. An encyclopedia is, in its way, a specialized reference work, with two key points:
- "Works of encyclopedic scope aim to convey the important accumulated knowledge for their subject domain."
- "Some systematic method of organization is essential to making an encyclopedia usable as a work of reference."
Also, Wikipedia is intended to be "general, containing articles on topics in every field," as opposed to a reference for one particular field.
In order to preserve Wikipedia's utility as an encyclopedia, policy decisions have been required to exclude certain content:
- Wikipedia is not a dictionary: While dictionaries are certainly useful, an encyclopedia is expected to supply more than just word meanings and usage.
- Wikipedia is not a publisher of original thought: While original thought could be quite useful, it contradicts an encyclopedia's purpose as a reference summary of human knowledge.
- Wikipedia is not a mirror or a repository of links, images, or media files: While such catalogues may be useful, an encyclopedia is expected to provide some analysis in order to instruct the reader.
- and most of all, Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information. The items specifically listed under this heading— travel guides, memorials, news reports, genealogical entries, phonebook entries, directories, instruction manuals, etc.— may well be useful; yet it has been determined that they are not encyclopedic.
Utility is not just about the information that Wikipedia provides; it also concerns Wikipedia's utility as a supplier of that information. The limitations on content and form have been put in place to protect that utility.