|This essay contains 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: Lists of victims of an event are inappropriate unless the majority of listed victims have Wikipedia articles or sections of their own|
Per WP:NOTMEMORIAL, lists of victims of terrorist attacks, school shootings, etc., are inconsistent with Wikipedia policy. This point is, however, contentious. Related AfD debates have been debated passionately on both sides, often resulting in a lack of consensus.
Victim lists may violate the following guidelines and principles:
- Selected lists of people should be selected for importance/notability in that category and should have Wikipedia articles (or the reasonable expectation of an article in the future). The people in these lists of victims do not have Wikipedia articles and have no reasonable expectation of getting them in the future; rarely, there are a small number of notable victims, but I have yet to see a list of such persons which was composed entirely of them, and most events are far too small to have more than a couple of notable victims, thus making a list unnecessary as they could and should simply be mentioned inline.
- They fail to have significant coverage. The subjects tend to be addressed in terms of the massacre, and their notability is non-existent – as has been pointed out many times before, dying, even dying violently, does not make you notable, and the victims of various terrorist attacks, school shootings, and other events have been established to be non-notable as individuals. These people get brief coverage in the press in the context of the event, as the news tries to put a human face on it, but then fades away immediately thereafter, forgotten and ultimately unimportant and non-notable.
- Wikipedia is not a news source. It is explicitly stated that it takes more than a short burst of news reports about a single event or topic to constitute evidence of sufficient notability. The coverage of these events fits this pattern precisely – there is a short burst of news reports, then the list of victims is, by and large, never mentioned again. The reason for this is their lack of notability. For instance, Columbine is still referred to commonly, but newspapers typically won't talk in depth about any of the victims.
- What Wikipedia is not
- Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information. This ties into the lists guideline above, but warrants mentioning on its own. Specifically, it isn't a collection of news reports, and even if an event is notable, individuals involved in it may not be. In the case of these victim lists, they are non-notable.
- Wikipedia is not a memorial. These victim lists, at their core, are memorials. I feel that the memorial listing should be clarified as some people are missing the forest for the trees.
As evidence to the above, I provide the following:
- Lists of victims only include long lists of non-notable persons if they occurred in the English-speaking world. Lists of people who died from tuberculosis, drowning, Nazism, etc. are composed solely of notable persons, in accordance with Wikipedia:Lists. However, if you look at the list of victims of some random school shooting, none or at most a small percentage of those listed have articles of their own. These lists contain no valuable information, and their distribution bias indicates their primary purpose is not to inform but to memorialize.
- Comparison of school shootings abroad versus in the English-speaking world is revealing. Compare the Jokela school shooting to American school shootings and you notice no list of names; rather you see a summary of the dead (five male students, one adult female student, the principal, and the school nurse). The reason for this is not because the list of names is unavailable but because Finns are outside of our monkeysphere, by and large, and thus not enough English Wikipedians care to memorialize them with a list of names. Looking through the list of school shootings in "other countries", you find the one with a list of names is in Israel. Some, like the Erfurt massacre, have MUCH higher body counts than many American shootings, yet includes no list of names. Moreover, these articles read BETTER than the American articles which have the list of names, showing the lack of value of the list of names.
- The events which have lists of victims and do not have lists of victims are entirely random and arbitrary. There is no article listing the victims of 9/11 or of various car-bombing attacks in Iraq or other Middle Eastern countries, yet if someone kills five people in an American school there is an article about them, and sometimes a separate article for the list of victims. This shows there is not only a bias towards coverage of things which occur in the English-speaking world, but moreover that many of these articles contain an element of memorialization. The list of victims of X lists are simply a symptom of this more widespread bias and memorialization of Americans.
The following statement should be supported by editors of Wikipedia:
- Lists of victims of an event are inappropriate unless all listed victims have Wikipedia articles, or a section of an article, of their own.