Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not for things made up one day

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wikipedia is not for things that you and/or your friends made up. If you have invented something in school, the lab, your garage, or the pub, and it has not yet been featured in reliable sources, do not write about it on Wikipedia. Write about it on your own website, blog or social media instead.

Resist the temptation[edit]

Sometimes an editor is tempted to write an article about an idea that they or their friends have come up with, such as a new ball game, a new word or phrase, a film you uploaded to YouTube, or a new language. It's natural to want to tell the world, and Wikipedia seems like a great way to do that.

There are several things wrong with doing this:

  • Wikipedia content is required to be verifiable. There's no way that the rest of the world can verify your account of the new thing your friend said or did one day. It's not recorded and it's not documented. Sometimes, there's no way for the rest of the world to indeed verify that your friend even exists; just because they have an associated Wikipedia article doesn't mean that their invention is also known as well. Verifiability isn't up for postmodern debate; it's a standard criterion. All articles need to cite reliable sources; if you can't do that because there aren't any sources documenting what you invented, then your content is unverifiable and should not be posted on Wikipedia.
  • Original research is forbidden on Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia; that is, it aims to be a summary of information that has already been published. It does not seek to be a place where new information is published for the first time – for that we have newspapers, academic journals, publishers of books and so on. It does not exist to promote new things and spread new knowledge. If you find yourself arguing that your Wikipedia article is necessary because no one else has written about your new invention yet, you have misunderstood the purpose of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is here for documenting things in which precisely the opposite has occurred.
  • Wikipedia is not a crystal ball. Editors often protest the deletion of their articles on the grounds that their new idea is bound to take off and become popular soon, so why not have an article on it now? Sometimes they might be right, but other times they might not be, and once again there is no way for the reader to verify that their idea is going to be the next big thing. Wikipedia deals with subjects which are already notable and written about. It doesn't speculate on what might become well known in the future.
  • Wikipedia is not a dictionary. Many articles of this nature describe new words or terms coined by a small group of friends. But Wikipedia is not a dictionary; it's an encyclopedia. Meanings of words and phrases go into a dictionary, such as Wiktionary; however, adding your own new words and phrases to Wiktionary is also unacceptable. Wiktionary requires evidence that a word or phrase has been attested before it will accept it. A new word that one person or a small group of people has made up and is trying to make catch on is a neologism and may not be acceptable at Wiktionary. Take a look at Urban Dictionary instead.
  • Wikipedia is not a free wiki host for you to use for your own purposes. It is an encyclopedia. Our primary goal here is to write an encyclopedia, not to provide free web hosting to people. Even if your article isn't taking up much space, you are still misusing Wikipedia, and the efforts employed in removing your article could be used instead in creating a usable encyclopedia. If you like the idea of having your own wiki, go on a wiki farm such as Fandom or Miraheze, or try installing MediaWiki on a website.

The right way to get things you or your friends made up into Wikipedia[edit]

Of course, everything in Wikipedia was made up or discovered by someone at some point in time, so how can your idea join them? Essentially, you have to persuade others that it's important first – and those people have to think it's sufficiently important to write books, newspaper or magazine articles, or academic papers about (not just mentioning) your idea. Such resources are considered reliable, and therefore the subject can become eligible for Wikipedia. It is important that someone else other than the originator of the idea does the writing, as notability can be conferred only through independent attention; see Wikipedia:Notability. Advice on how one can obtain this kind of independent attention is beyond the scope of Wikipedia, and as such seeking notability lies in the hands of the individual.

Citing one's own book/academic paper/etc. may still be done after such independent attention has been garnered; however, it must be done in a neutral manner, and not in a style which suggests vanity.

As an example, consider the history of the game Scrabble. It was originally invented by Alfred Mosher Butts in 1938. At first, he made only a few copies to give or sell to his friends, and contacted several game manufacturers, all of whom turned him down. Therefore, had Wikipedia been around in 1938, it could not have had an article on Scrabble. Even though Butts had invented a game that would eventually become a worldwide bestseller, at the time it was known only to a few people and little or nothing had been written about it. However, he was not disheartened: he kept promoting his idea until several years later it was bought by a games manufacturer, sold in many stores, and became widely known and widely written about. This is the point at which Wikipedia could have had an article about it, as opposed to when it was first invented.

In August 2006, a Wikipedia article on the iPhone was deleted after discussion. At that point, little was known about the product outside Apple Inc. and it could not have had a Wikipedia article. Following the product's launch and mass-media coverage in January 2007, the article was recreated and has been improved ever since. See Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not a crystal ball.

What you should do[edit]

Do not write about your own ideas and inventions on Wikipedia if you cannot cite reliable sources to show that they are notable and verifiable. For a full discussion of what counts as a reliable source, see Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources. In particular, remember that people writing in blogs or posting on discussion forums are not considered reliable.

Even if your ideas and inventions are notable and there are good sources to cite, it is often a bad idea to write about them yourself. Why? Because you have a conflict of interest (COI). The COI guideline applies to you and limits your ability to edit out any negative material that others may, with reliable sources, add later on. We have something called the "Law of Unintended Consequences" that will always apply to you. Read it carefully, because ignoring it can have serious repercussions for you, your family, your business, and your future in the real world. Editing here is not a game, so do it carefully. Wikipedia is not a free web hosting service. Everything you do here is recorded for posterity and is publicly available information, too.

If you cannot cite reliable sources, please write about your invention somewhere else. You could use your own website, one of the many social networking sites, or any of various alternative outlets which may have more flexible rules than Wikipedia on what content can be included.

See also[edit]