Wikipedia talk:Coatrack articles

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Older discussion[edit]

This is wrong. The best thing to do with an article that's not about what its title says is to change the title, not delete the majority of the content. then evaluate bias. Night Gyr (talk/Oy) 23:20, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

The whole point is that the content isn't encyclopedic and can;t stay regardless of a name that tries to put a fake encyclopedesque gloss over it. DreamGuy 20:35, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, we do get a lot of weasel articles, POV forks and other undue weight. This page seems hardly wrong with respect to that. >Radiant< 11:10, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
Some "off topic" information is appropriate as basic background information. Certainly such information should not be a major portion of the article, but we shouldn't be so extreme to exclude a sentence or two that gives some more info. Bob sued Frank. Bob is a doctor of cheese, and lives in England. Most of us probably don't have a problem with that kind of thing, but I can see advice like this being misunderstood as a reason to remove "Bob is a doctor of cheese". -- Ned Scott 19:06, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps, but then people have been misunderstanding WP:IAR for years to make edits like that already. I've seen a few articles that are not biographies which originally were intended to explain one topic, but some POV-pusher decided it needed a section on an alternative interpretation, & proceeded to add so much detail on the alternative that it took over the original article. Sometimes this is the result of a well-intended but inexperienced edit, but often it's clear that it's just another POV-pushing tactic. -- llywrch 21:11, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for writing this essay Moreschi. Coatrack articles are indeed a serious problem for Wikipedia. IMO, the BLP policies don't go nearly far enough in addressing this problem. Kaldari 06:19, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
No, they don't. I agree, but don't praise me, this wasn't my idea, I just copied-and-pasted Weregerbil's essay out of his userspace. Moreschi Talk 10:59, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Good essay[edit]

I may start to use this template just now.-h i s s p a c e r e s e a r c h 06:54, 7 July 2007 (UTC)


Funnily enough, there's no article about literal coatracks!

Interesting one, that. Maybe we should create one...-h i s s p a c e r e s e a r c h 16:24, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
I've created coat rack and coatrack as redirects, presumably these are valid redirects.--h i s s p a c e r e s e a r c h 13:43, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

A para and a scandal[edit]

See this a fair bit in politician articles. One para bio and maybe a couple of paras on some scandal.Geni 00:19, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

Real-life example[edit]

This is an excellent, real-life example of a coatrack. Article is ostensibly about a small(ish) place in Bosnia & Herzegovina, but the bulk of the article is about alleged apparition(s) of the Virgin Mary and all the controversies surrounding this... 18:30, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

Please see my related comments and request for opinions here. Ward3001 18:38, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

Improving this essay[edit]

I really like this essay. It could be improved, though, with examples of actual past coatracks instead of hypothetical examples that seem to be hyperbole. - Chardish 18:49, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

True; they are caricatures. I can think of a number of current ones, but part of the difficulty is that real examples get into the territory of personal attacks on the editors concerned. Gordonofcartoon 20:04, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

When COATRACK doesn't apply?[edit]

I think it might be useful to have a section of this essay pointing out when WP:COATRACK isn't a legitimate criticism of an article; if an otherwise non-notable person or place is significantly notable for one particular event, then it's inevitable that most of the article will concentrate on that event. As an example, I saw someone raise WP:COATRACK as a criticism of the Willie Horton article, arguing that it concentrates too much on his use in the 1988 Presidential campaign; but as someone on the Talk page said, 'Horton the person isn't important or worthy of an article. Horton as political smear tactic in 1988 is.' As the main reason why Horton is notable, it should be the focus of the article, and the same is true in similar cases of people or places known for just one event. Terraxos (talk) 06:56, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

Of course, maybe I should have actually read the essay properly before I made this point. If I had, I would have seen the section WP:COATRACK#What is not a coatrack, which entirely addresses my criticisms here. Oops. :) Terraxos (talk) 06:58, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
After reading your suggestion, I wrote the article you recommended with more precision, as a formal template for plugging arguments for deletions into. Here is the essay you suggested somoeone write Wikipedia:Coatrack Deletions. I posted it and it is being argued for deletion here Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/Wikipedia:Coatrack Deletions. Can anyone weigh in? EricDiesel (talk) 21:15, 10 September 2008 (UTC)


Isn't "coatrack" a spelling mistake? Shouldn't it be Wikipedia:Coat rack? - Face 17:50, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

"Coat rack", "coat-rack" and "coatrack" are all acceptable variants (the last is in Merriam-Webster). I think the single-word version makes for a punchier label. Gordonofcartoon (talk) 18:58, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
Ok, thanks. The word wasn't in my English -> Dutch dictionary, and when google wanted to correct me, I felt confused for a minute. Cheers, Face 19:38, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

'Notability coatracking'[edit]

I have seen, and have on occasion myself used, the term 'coatracking' to refer to attempts to bolster an article's apparent notability by adding material and/or citations that are heavily tangential to the article's topic. Is this phenomenon sufficiently similar to 'NPOV coatracking' to be worth adding to this essay? HrafnTalkStalk 07:20, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

Unfortunate use of this essay[edit]

This essay is being quoted extensively at Talk:Wasilla Assembly of God (Sarah Palin's church of over 20 years), as well as in a discussion of whether the article should be deleted, and in erasing selected, sourced edits to the page itself that do not themselves have anything to do with Sarah Palin. Although I see the reasoning behind the essay, I am disturbed that it is being quoted as it it were policy and being used to block what I consider to be (my own) helpful edits. I will also note that the discussion there is obviously politically tinged and that the back and forth over certain edits (or the erasure/keeping of the article itself) may be politically motivated for some editors, at least there is a danger that that is the appearance. Unfortunately, this essay appears to muddy the waters about what edits are acceptable and what are not.--Cdogsimmons (talk) 07:16, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

I am also confused about how the assumption that someone is making a biased edit because it happens to have a negative association interacts with the policy that we should assume good faith, especially if the information is well sourced. --Cdogsimmons (talk) 03:37, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree. See next section. EricDiesel (talk) 17:18, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Weigh in on "Coatrack Deletions"[edit]

In response to abuse of this fine essay, I abstracted it and created a formal template for plugging arguments for deletion based on this essay into. See Wikipedia:Coatrack Deletions. Also on keeping this template up Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/Wikipedia:Coatrack Deletions EricDiesel (talk) 21:18, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

Please explain this rule in terms of Young_Earth_creationism and the writings of Morris as published on .en by Hrafn and other WP editors. Even with good references, I was unable to list the Amish as YECs, and you know, they don't even use electricity, let alone computers.
OK, You see, to understand YEC (nice acronym, eh?) you must first know a little about black holes and time. Stephen Hawking was telling a story about Bertrand Russell telling a story about heliocentrism (which presumed a round earth to get off the ground), in which a little old lady in the back interrupted and said, "No, what you are saying is false. The world is flat and rests on the back of a turtle". Russell replied, "Oh, yeah? Then what does the turtle rest on?" The lady said "Another turtle." Russell then asked, "Well what does that turtle rest on?" The lady replied, "Its turtles all the way down!" Now this is supposed to be some sort of metaphor for infinite regress and a lack of a beginning of time, but I recalled seeing the cover of Dr. Seuss' "Yertle the Turtle", like at, or some such image, and realized that Dr. Seuss wrote this after the Russell-Little-Old-Lady-In-The-Back-Debates, so the little old lady's theory was predictive, and had evidence of merit. So YEC must account for specification of the particular turtleback tesselation on which the Garden of Eden is located. In conclusion, this means that the entire YEC article can be deleted as being a coatrack for Dr. Seuss. Next question? EricDiesel (talk) 05:31, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Also, can you give your rule in Mathematica format? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:31, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
What is mathematica format? (And what kind of name is Is your father also a .116, or is that your nick last name?) EricDiesel (talk) 05:31, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Should be made policy or guideline[edit]

Really good idea, cited often, I propose it be made policy or guideline.--Ipatrol (talk) 21:57, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Symbol confirmed.svg Support given. --➨Candlewicke  :) Sign/Talk 17:57, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Symbol confirmed.svg Support. --RoadAhead =Discuss= 21:40, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
No sign.svg Strong Oppose Unfortunately in my experience and others, 1, 2, this essay is yet another tool that editors have used to delete well reference articles.
The first sentence of Cotrack states:
"A coatrack article is a Wikipedia article that ostensibly discusses the nominal subject, but in reality is a cover for a tangentially related bias subject. The nominal subject is used as an empty coatrack, which ends up being mostly obscured by the "coats".
The biggest irony, is that Coatrack is nothing more than a Coatrack itself, a biased split off of Neutral point of view. Coatrack is another Kafkaesque bureaucratic contrivance[1] used to delete articles.
As Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia, states, "there is no practical limit to the number of topics it can cover". Exceptions to this universally embraced policy is already covered more competently, more thoroughly, and less biased in established policy elsewhere.
It has been one month since it was suggested this essay become a policy or guideline. In that month, three people have responded positively. Not exactly an overwhelming consensus. travb (talk) 17:22, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
No sign.svg Strong Oppose See my objection to this page above. This proposed policy is vague. When does something go from being a discussion of the subject to being a discussion that is "tangential"? It's not clear. Plus, this pseudo-policy was repeatedly misused in the Sarah Palin wars to remove true, well-sourced info that related directly to the subject matter, Sarah Palin. I see bad things happening again in the future if this can be cited as official policy.--Cdogsimmons (talk) 05:46, 15 December 2008 (UTC)
  • support as a guideline. I find it is in practice a very useful rule for removing marginal content from pseudoscience articles and misused political ones, as well as spam.--as when an atricle for a company making a particular drug for disease X has an article devoted almost entirely to the social harm caused by the disease. DGG (talk) 18:49, 17 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose. Instruction creep. The concerns are already sufficiently covered with WP:N and related policies. The essay fails to even address the deciding question if the town XYZ, the journalist Joe Q. Random, the "dude" Jim B. Ean and others are notable in the first place. If they are, then the addition of some "coats" can easily be remedied by removing the "coats". — Sebastian 03:05, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
    Moreover, the essay hinges on the presumed hidden agenda of the article, which goes against WP:AGF. — Sebastian 03:13, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Fine as an essay, not policy. The examples provided could easily be addressed using existing policies. Semitransgenic (talk) 20:06, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

From now on please have all support votes also say "policy" or "guideline" and please avoid plain votes, vague refrences to policy, and personal points of view. I also don't like refrences to previous arguements as this would be subject to the ignorance clause if such situations were to arise again. You may ignore what I just said, just a suggestion. Thank You--Ipatrol (talk) 17:18, 27 December 2008 (UTC)

  • Oppose. Existing policies are already sufficient to control weak content and POV-pushing editors. As an essay, this page is very useful--I've referred to it several times. As policy, it's redundant. Binksternet (talk) 17:58, 27 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Support as a guideline per DGG. This page is very useful and helpful for keeping articles NPOV--Cailil talk 18:14, 27 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Support as a guideline per DGG. The actual text could use some further development though. Arnoutf (talk) 18:45, 27 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose promotion from essay directly to policy under just about any circumstances. Oppose turning this into a guideline as written because it's just not written in the format of a guideline. Neutral to turning the ideas in this essay into a guideline, as honestly I haven't researched how often it's been quoted or whether it reflects enough of a consensus to qualify as a guideline. Besides, there's already large overlap with existing guidelines and policies, so the benefit would be marginal. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs)/(e-mail) 19:07, 27 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose - This just duplicates lots of other policies in a poorly-worded rant. There isn't anything this essay gives us that's not already handled better elsewhere. DreamGuy (talk) 22:25, 27 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose, this is fine as an essay. The basic concept is simply that articles should focus on their subjects. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 22:48, 27 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. It should stay as an essay. It should most certainly not become a policy, as it is not written properly for that and it does not fit with the other policies. If it was better written, we could at a later stage discuss making it a guideline, but not now. --Bduke (Discussion) 23:07, 27 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose We already have WP:WEIGHT, WP:NPOV, WP:V, WP:FRINGE, WP:BLP, WP:N, and so on to handle the issues raised here. There is no need for yet another policy/guideline. It serves its purpose well as an essay elaborating on the existing guidelines and policies. Anomie 04:00, 28 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Support While not strong enough to stand on its own as a policy, this is effectively a guideline already. I see no problem with giving it guideline status, and improvements are always a good idea. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 09:22, 29 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Comment Wikipedia:Content forking, a content guideline, states:
    "Since what qualifies as a "POV fork" is itself based on a POV judgement, do not refer to forks as "POV" except in extreme cases of persistent disruptive editing."
    This rule nulifies this entire essay. travb (talk) 17:39, 29 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose: no need, as it's basically a dramatised exposition of the WP:WEIGHT section of WP:NPOV. "Coatrack" is a useful informal description of articles in breach, but WP:NPOV would be the policy invoked. Gordonofcartoon (talk) 15:34, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. I think it could prove to be very useful. --Crackthewhip775 (talk) 04:02, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

This discussion seems to have died out, and it's clear there is no consensus to make this either a policy or a guideline. the wub "?!" 13:04, 25 January 2009 (UTC)

nothing actually dies out here, though things sometimes temporarily die down a little. I hope to do some rewriting of this eventually, that will make it strong enough to be accepted as a guideline. DGG (talk) 23:38, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
If you can clean it up and address concerns expressed above, I would strongly support this page as a guideline. It's obvious we need something like this. LK (talk) 06:28, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

Look at Special:WhatLinksHere/Wikipedia:Coatrack for how many times it has been cited. If it isn't quite enough to be a stand alone guideline but there is consensus for it, mabye we could have something like the mbox at the top of WP:SNOW except more official and something like "has gained consensus" or a similar phrase.--Ipatrol (talk) 18:31, 31 January 2009 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Coatrack proposal[edit]

It is proposed that this page be made a guideline and comment is requested as to how it fits into other policies. —Ipatrol (via posting script) 22:36, 5 February 2009 (UTC)

No sign.svg Strong Oppose Wikipedia does not need more Rule Creep and Bureaucracy
Wikipedia:Content forking, a content guideline, states:
"Since what qualifies as a "POV fork" is itself based on a POV judgement, do not refer to forks as "POV" except in extreme cases of persistent disruptive editing." This rule nullifies this entire essay.
The first sentence of Cotrack states:
"A coatrack article is a Wikipedia article that ostensibly discusses the nominal subject, but in reality is a cover for a tangentially related bias subject. The nominal subject is used as an empty coatrack, which ends up being mostly obscured by the "coats".
The biggest irony, is that Coatrack is nothing more than a Coatrack itself, a biased split off of Neutral point of view. Coatrack is another Kafkaesque bureaucratic contrivance.[2]
There are already rules about this, which are covered more competently, more thoroughly, and less biased in established policy elsewhere. The straw poll above rejected coatrack already. Ikip (talk) 22:43, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Unnecessary as WP:NPOV already covers all aspects of how to deal with biased articles in sufficient detail. No more wikilegislation is required on this subject. JulesH (talk) 15:45, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Why are we going through this again when there's an open discussion on the matter directly above? I still think this article is fine as an essay but redundant and unnecessary as a policy. Binksternet (talk) 17:37, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose per above reasoning. --Cybercobra (talk) 09:15, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Conditional oppose - Not as written, certainly. But I think that aspects of it might be reasonably incorporated into policy. Shoemaker's Holiday (talk) 19:12, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

Why is this helpful?[edit]

Obviously, the continued tug-of-war between two strongly opposed factions doesn't lead anywhere. Having voiced my opposition before, I am well aware of the reasons of opponents. But I am at my best when I act not as part of a faction, but as a mediator. I therefore would like to understand the reasons of the proponents, as well. I looked at the reasons support voters give, and it seems most agree with what DGG wrote: "I find it is in practice a very useful rule for removing marginal content from pseudoscience articles and misused political ones, as well as spam.--as when an atricle for a company making a particular drug for disease X has an article devoted almost entirely to the social harm caused by the disease." I am not very active on AfD, so I have to ask for more details. What makes this essay more helpful for you than the existing policies and guidelines, such as WP:WEIGHT, WP:NPOV, WP:V, WP:FRINGE, WP:BLP and WP:N? Would you have a concrete example of an AfD discussion where removing marginal content or spam would have been harder without this essay, or would have been easier if this essay had been a guideline? I am confident that once we identified what exactly it is that people get from this essay, we will find a way to cooperatively improve the current situation. — Sebastian 18:50, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

the virtue of this one is that it's targeted to the particular problem. The others are very general guidelines, whose applicability to any particular situation is usually much debated. Almost anything can be claimed to be of excessive or insufficient weight; All articles on controversial topics are usually considered at least by one of the sides to have dubious NPOV.
But there;s a misconception in your question--tis guideline is not primarily for use at AfD. It's a content guideline. If the person or organization whose article is being used as a coatrack is not notable, there's no need for this--one simply points out that the subject of the article has no place in Wikipedia at all. This is a guideline for removing inappropriate content from articles that could otherwise stand. I'm deliberating not giving an actual example, because then the discussion will get diverted, but the typical situation is an article on a particular politician. The content of the article is devoted to the arguments for one of the positions he supports, or one on a pressure group, where the article is devoted to the evils or whatever it is the group is opposing. NPOV doesnt help, because it is generally argued that it is only the views of the person or group that is concerned. Or, an article on a battle in a civil war will discuss the merits of the different sides. -thus ever article involving any of the parties in any way gets turned into a constant struggle for NPOV. This is one of the few WP content guidelines actually devoted to a specific recurring problem, not generalities.It would be good if we had more. (to be continued) DGG (talk) 09:18, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Ah, thank you for your reply so far. I see the misconception. For the situation you describe, what I usually use is WP:TOPIC; I find it works well because everybody understands it, which is especially important in civil war edit conflicts where there are often new users (e.g. in articles we cover at WP:SLR). I do encourage you to use an example, I promise that I will remove any off-topic contributions using {{OffTopic}} - we won't let this section become a coatrack! ;-) (We could put a notice at the top of this section to alert people to this.) — Sebastian 11:06, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
I think I also see what you mean by "a specific recurring problem". The term "coatrack" is a meme; once people begin to use this term, they see problems in the light of this term. I happen to be someone who doesn't usually use that term, but that's OK, we're just different there. Maybe there's a way to write this so that those who find the term useful will find the page useful, and those who don't won't have to learn yet another guideline. — Sebastian 11:20, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

Clarify examples?[edit]

I think there is the germ of a REALLY useful guideline on this page. However, I find the examples very unclear. Could someone who has given this topic more thought than I please provide article titles to go with the examples, even if they are fake article titles? I don't really know how the examples apply to wikipedia on a practical level because they are written in a self-consciously jokey way (for example: "Some dude did it so it must be good" - what would the article here be? About the "dude"? About the religion? Are we to assume this is a made-up religion and not, say, Judaism or Islam?) Surfer83 (talk) 22:47, 22 August 2009 (UTC)

A good article to check out would be the Todd Bentley article. Here is a classic example of the criticism problem and the coatracking problem. Personally I think the article is fair minded, however by its very subject it is easy to criticize it as coatracking, attack, and non-neutrality. Todd Bentley was an evangelist who rose to prominence a few years ago by leading revivals in Lakeland, Florida. Things did not end very well by any interpretation for him. Investigative journalism found that none of his professed "faith healings" were verifiable, and he was committing some form of marital infidelity, which according to his own theological beliefs was wrong, and the goings on at his revivals were decidedly unorthodox by any reasonable interpretation of the more widely attended Christian denominations in America. The article briefly discusses his background before discussing these things extensively. The problem is that he would never have been notable enough to receive a wikipedia enry had these things not happened, meaning that a majority of events worth mentioning are largely negative things for Mr. Bentley, with no real alternative interpretation being a reasonable thing to enter into the article. Musing Sojourner (talk) 20:08, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

this is a situation that should be discussed at the Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons/Noticeboard. The article is ,as you say, quite a problem. DGG ( talk ) 23:51, 25 September 2009 (UTC)
Oops! I forgot to add why it was coatracking insteadof just a problematic bio of a living person. Although the coatracking appears to be somewhat gone (though the article is still problematic), the article had been used to go after several different theological factions in the charismatic church, to which the subject was affiliated, in a pretty direct way. Much of that language is gone and now the other issues are as you say DGG better suited to be discussed at Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons/NoticeboardMusing Sojourner (talk) 15:21, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

This article needs to be much tighter (and smaller) to be usful in conflict situations, IMHO (22:22, 4 September 2012 (UTC))

No, More Realistic Examples[edit]

My problem is that the examples presented have words like "evil", "lousy", "wonderful", "stupid", etc. These are far beyond what's typical in a WP article and since that material is clearly against other WP policies anyway, they do little to help one understand coatracking. Wouldn't a better example be one where material that doesn't violate any other policy, is included in an inappropriate context and is therefore coatracking? AngusCA (talk) 15:24, 3 April 2014 (UTC)

These are not real examples. These are condensed, simplified sketches of biased information of marginal relevance. Probably a phrase explaining this must be added to the text. I am sure you know 12 "politically correct" ways to say "lousy". But they will make text much longer and will actually obscure the intent of the examples. Staszek Lem (talk) 19:07, 3 April 2014 (UTC)
It doesn't help that it's rather hard to read the "Dr. Fronkensteen" one without either A.) Giggling like a madman, B.) Suddenly having the urge to say "Frau Blucher" and see if horses neigh, or C.) Both of the above. Kitsunedawn (at work, will "sign" this in an edit when I get home)

I think I just came across a realistic example. In Apollo 1 (1967 fire which killed three astronauts in 1967), someone years ago (who only made two edits and then left) added an uncited small paragraph about some people "from MIT" who supposedly studied static electricity, and found that nylon space suits rubbing against the seats were capable of causing sparks. In fact, this subject was never mentioned or considered by the investigation board, which found that electrical wiring problems were the likely ignition source. I removed this. Another good-faith editor did some digging and found a 1969 NASA study (no mention of MIT) on static electricity in the improved post-fire spacecraft and suits (no more nylon). This study in no way mentioned or was relevant to the Apollo 1 fire, but the editor used this (with citation) to replace the deleted paragraph. I think that's a replacement of the original "coat" tossed onto the Apollo 1 "rack". (See Feb. 27-28, 2015 revision history.) JustinTime55 (talk) 14:20, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

Section moved to talk[edit]

"==Reality has a Liberal bias==

An article may appear to follow a coatrack form, but it would be wrong to assume this is so. The fact of the matter is that reality itself has a "liberal" bias to many editors. Given this fact, an article which appears to load "facts" in such a way as to give the impression of a "liberal" bias is often just a good article which perhaps needs some tightening up."

No comments about this section, I just moved to talk. Ikip (talk) 21:01, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

This strikes me as an excuse to get out of NPOV. By the way, the page is extremely funny.Mzk1 (talk) 09:47, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

WP:COAT = ESSAY userbox[edit]

A lot of people seem to be quoting this essay as if it were a guideline, so I created this userbox: User:Tisane/COAT

This user notes that WP:COATRACK is an essay, not a policy or guideline.

Tisane (talk) 19:05, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Improving this essay[edit]

This still hasn't been fixed in two and a half years. The information under 'Typical coatracks' isn't at all useful unless the silly examples are replaced with real examples. Unfortunately I don't know enough about the topic of the essay to find real examples. -- (talk) 16:29, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

  • Aha. So I'm not alone with this opinion. I came across what I consider a coatrack article and looked up the essay and I was surprised at the silly examples.
    I agree that the examples should ideally be replaced with more concrete and plausible examples, but formulating plausible examples is a tricky thing. And since most coatracking is blatantly obvious to the attentive reader, I'm not sure that examples, or even the essay itself, are needed at all. Not particularly useful in its current overlong form, anyway. -- (talk) 13:44, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

Origin of "coatrack" term?[edit]

I've looked over the article and talk pages, and I cannot seem to locate how this term originated, or who coined this term. Any ideas from folks? -- Fuzheado | Talk 17:10, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

Weregerbil may have coined it, as that user appears to have created the essay originally. I'd suggest asking, but Weregerbil seems to have left WP. Шизомби (Sz) (talk) 18:49, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

So would this be a coat rack on this essay?[edit]

The section "History" mentions an example: the Encyclopédie rule against biographies. However, editors of encyclopedias in the 18th century believed that biographical articles had no place in encyclopedias about the arts & sciences. When the publishers of the Encyclopedia Brittanica decided to include biographical articles in their third edition, the editor of the second, William Smellie, quit in protest. (Richard Yeo, Encyclopedic visions, p. 177) However, going into this much detail about the historic prejudices of encyclopedia editors might distract from the point of the example. -- llywrch (talk) 16:52, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

I'd differentiate between 'just excessive detail' and 'coatracking for an ulterior motive', e.g. promoting something piggyback-style.
The essay is just overlong, diluting its own purpose in what looks to me like 'trying to be like a guideline'. It could be reduced to the lead and nothing of value would be lost. -- (talk) 13:52, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
I like the list of examples, and I think that the history is instructive. Unlike the French encyclopedia, we don't hide biographies in other articles, but we do fairly often see people hiding non-notable product and business material in tangentially related articles. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:19, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

Are there rules that cover specific examples of coatracking ?[edit]

I think there is a simple rule can limit "All about George" coatracking. The rule would place a limit on the number of facts that can be duplicated from a biography.

Even simpler would be a policy that says that any editor can replace content that is duplicated elsewhere on WP with a link to the "primary" copy of that content e.g. the biography in the case of a person. If there is already consensus over the inclusion of the material, the policy will not be in effect. But the policy will take precedence over the need to keep properly sourced material. -- Nic Roets (talk) 21:20, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

Ongoing coatrack discussion[edit]

There is a discussion here as to whether certain material is a coatrack. Readers of this page may find it of interest.--Epeefleche (talk) 19:11, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

Spouses are coatracks?[edit]

Some are claiming that to talk about a notable person's spouse/partner (who is the primary subject of an international news story but doesn't have their own article) are coatracking. When the person making news is only making news because they have a famous spouse/partner, is putting that on the notable person's wiki page a coatrack? There are people removing content from Rod Zimmer, a Canadian senator about a recent incident with him and his wife on a plane where she was arrested. They were sitting together on the plane and she's alleged to have threaten to slit his throat. (news article) It should be noted that Canadian senators are appointed and rarely news, so this incident is the first time a majority of Canadians have heard of him. Anything specifically involving this case please add to Talk:Rod Zimmer, but in general would this type of thing qualify as coatracking or not? If he happened to be on the plane but she threatened others excluding him, would it still be coatracking? --TheTruthiness (talk) 05:18, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

People aren't removing the content, I did it based on WP:BLP issues and I brought it up at Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons/Noticeboard#Rod Zimmer. Yes, it's coatracking because the article is about Zimmer and not his spouse. The news stories focus on his spouse and only mention Zimmer in passing. There are no facts about Zimmer in the news coverage that indicates what caused Zimmer's health issue that precipitated his spouses rage. At some point in the future, if and when additional information about it comes to light, we can expand the article. --Walter Görlitz (talk) 06:00, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
BLP says we're in the clear, as it's NPOV (which it is), not original research (it's not) and is verifiable based on many reliable news sources- legit non-tabloid newspapers & newsmagazines like Macleans are reporting this so we're good there too. -- (talk) 17:00, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
IMO the most important fact is that the alleged threat was delivered to the subject of the article. Therefore, it would be silly to say that it's just some tangential topic (using the article as a "coatrack" to hang up unrelated information).
If it didn't involve him—the subject of the article is sitting at home, minding his own business, while his spouse is elsewhere threatening to slit the throats of random bystanders—then it is probably reasonable to give it the briefest, barest mention. You might say, in an article about a politician that the subject is married or has children; you might also add maybe one sentence to help people figure out why those names sound familiar. That could be positive ("Ms Senator is married to John Doe. Doe is the president and founder of Charities R Us") or negative ("Ms Senator is married to John Doe. Doe made international news in 2012 when he was arrested for dismembering a purple cabbage as part of an ecoterrorist plot to feed his children a vegetarian stir fry"). WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:45, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

critical articles[edit]

Are excessively critical articles coatracks if the article's subject is not itself a critical title (ie it isn't "Criticism of Consumerism")? I'm asking in regards to "Breast cancer awareness". The article is obviously not a critical article, but it's composed almost entirely of criticism. Charles35 (talk) 03:53, 18 December 2012 (UTC)

Cherry picking facts[edit]

I'm running into this all of the time especially with:

  • Geographic articles about a place (mostly cities) - They frequently read like travel brochures from the local chamber of commerce.
  • Bands, movies, celebrities - They usually sound more like fan pages. There is an article on one band that lists every single appearance they made on television, and we are talking in the dozens!
  • History of certain places - Often people of a particular nationality won't abide any inclusion of negative events that happened in their country, especially if they focus on a specific ethnic group.

I guess I'm asking for this article to be a bit more broad and consider some of the examples I list because I think this is a very common occurrence on Wikipedia. The article makes it sound like an intolerance of facts that another editor doesn't like occurs mainly on abstract topics like religion or on scientific disputes.

I think you should consider not only selective vision on ideological issues but on topics that people are most passionate about, like identity: the places they are from, the music they adore, the history of their country/ethnic group. It's not abstract, it's extremely personal to many people and there should be some solutions proposed when there is a backlash on "inconvenient" facts. (talk) 20:03, 10 July 2013 (UTC)


I've tried to do a bit of cleanup of the "But it's true!" section. I've left the tags on since the task isn't done, but I'd like to question whether the article/section distinction is useful - the principle is the same in both cases and I don't see what is gained by considering them separately. Would anyone object to a merger of the third and fourth bullet points? Before my recent edits parts of the text were essentially identical, and I've pared the most obvious parts down but a lot of similarities still remain. Sunrise (talk) 06:41, 26 April 2014 (UTC)

Done. I think the issues with the section are resolved, so I've removed the tag (but feel free to restore it if you still have concerns). Sunrise (talk) 07:37, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

Greg Mortenson and Somaly Mam see-also link as a coatrack[edit]

Here is a good question: Is having a see-also link between two articles a coat rack? Greg Mortenson and Somaly Mam both are accused of fabricating portions of their biographies to enhance their charities. Is having a see-also link between the two a coat rack? Come to Talk:Greg Mortenson and join the discussion one way or the other. Would your average reader want to jump between the two articles based on that connection. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 18:55, 23 July 2014 (UTC)

Nominal and tangential subject[edit]

Can someone explain what precisely is meant by "nominal subject" and "tangential subject". --Shabidoo | Talk 01:08, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

Yes, please. I want to know it too. I still don't know what this is all about. This article is just comedy. Shouldn't it supposed to help people write articles? -- (talk) 01:05, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

Proposal to develop a content guideline on encyclopedic relevance[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere.

Please comment at Wikipedia talk:Handling trivia#Proposal to develop a content guideline on encyclopedic relevance.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:32, 14 June 2015 (UTC)


Should we move to Coat-rack article? I spent some time wondering what a "Coa-track" was.... Rich Farmbrough, 08:24 16 July 2007 (GMT).

same here. -- (talk) 13:39, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
Same here! I was just about to post a similar comment - "what exactly is a coa track?" - Gobeirne (talk) 10:15, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
I concur. I think zero opposition in almost 8 years is consensus to move, but I'll open an RM on it anyway.
Yes, let's move it - i also was mistified by the name. Zezen (talk) 15:29, 12 January 2016 (UTC)

Requested move 14 June 2015[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: no consensus. Jenks24 (talk) 12:35, 15 July 2015 (UTC)

Wikipedia:CoatrackWikipedia:Coat-rack article – Parseability. This move has been proposed since 2007 with support but zero opposition. Still, it's a well-used essay, so a last-call RM is probably in order. Relisted. Jenks24 (talk) 06:22, 6 July 2015 (UTC) --Relisted. George Ho (talk) 00:28, 21 June 2015 (UTC)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:01, 14 June 2015 (UTC)

oppose. tradition. wikipedia has more of much weirder slang. if you are wondering what coa track is, read the article.-M.Altenmann >t 15:16, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment why is being posted in the middle of an 8 year old section that has had no activity for most of a decade? This hides the material from people expecting new talk at the bottom. Further, that discussion is blatantly stale (such as people not posting into it because it is stale), so this should have been a new section at the bottom. Indeed on many pages, there are multiple renaming discussions, where we do not just go back to the first posted section that are years old with no activity; for example, the recent request at Talk:Victor Valley, California does not reopen the 4-year old stale discussion at the top of the page, but opens a new discussion at the bottom of the talk page. -- (talk) 05:50, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
I agree. It should have been a new section at the bottom of the page. However, since it has instead been added to the old section, rather than break it up I am moving the whole section to the bottom. The editor who uses the pseudonym "JamesBWatson" (talk) 16:26, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
It's been moved, but who cares? People find RMs by clicking on them at WP:RM, or by what they see in their watchlists, not by trawling millions of articles' talk pages and manually looking at recent threads. Let's not be silly.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:03, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Support of course this change will make no change to the use of shortcuts WP:COAT and WP:COATRACK yet it makes valuable sense of the content. I would prefer a title as Wikipedia:Coat-rack articles. GregKaye 20:20, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Concision, tradition. Don't really see the value add to spelling it out, you still need to read the essay to understand WTF it's talking about. SnowFire (talk) 00:37, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
  • The value-add is that it's plain English and makes sense as a title without having to go read it to find out why we have a page about a piece of foyer furniture. The #2 complaint of new WP editors (after a snobby, insiders-only attitude, which is closely related to #2) is that it's too dense with confusing jargon.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:03, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
  • I entirely agree, it's a big problem. However, I don't see how "Coatrack article" is any clearer. WTF does that even mean? It's *still* internal jargon, incomprehensible unless you read the essay. Wikipedia:Articles should be about the actual article would be descriptive and friendlier to newbies but not concise (unless turned into an incomprehensible acronym), so choose your poison. SnowFire (talk) 15:22, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
It's clearer in that you at least know it refers to a classification of articles. Look, WP:COATRACK is a shortcut. The point of a shortcut is that it's shorter than the page name, which should generally be more descriptive. There are some exceptions, like WP:Consensus, where a longer title would be superfluous, but that's not the case here. "Coatrack" by itself just means a piece of furniture in a lobby.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:35, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
WP:COATRACK is not only about article. There can be a coatrack section. The title of the essay is irrelevant. Unlike wikipedia articles, it is not a searchable term. Normally a reader sees it only when it is cited in a discussion. If somebody does not know WTH is this, they simply have to click this wikilink, if only to learn a new piece of wikilingo. E.g. do you know what "pigtail" or "bird's beak" mean in electronics? -M.Altenmann >t 15:33, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
Fair enough point about "not only about articles". We can relist this, and suggest alternatives. Some obvious ones are WP:Coatrack content (describe the "substance"), WP:Don't coatrack (gives advice and uses a verb that makes it clears it's a term of art, not furniture), WP:Articles aren't coatracks (describe the situation, and it still works because sections are part of articles). Etc. I did know pigtail, don't recall birdbeak, but it rings a bell. The thing is, I'm not even slightly compelled to go see what it means. Not everyone shares your fondness for clicking to find lingo. :-) I generally don't bother, since I know all the important pages here already, and any new ones I see are either links to probably crappy new essays, or disused shortcuts to stuff I already know. Everything on WP is searchable, just not be default with WP's own search tool. To the extent there's some "joy of discovery" factor involved in wondering what "coatrack" means on WP and clicking to learn about it, that will still happen, since most references to this page use the WP:COATRACK not-really-shortcut.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  05:26, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

All about George[edit]

In the All about George section, the essay states "perhaps George Washington did own slaves at the time, nonetheless, it presents it in a negative, non-neutral point-of-view". This suggests that slavery shouldn't be presented in a negative way, which I don't think is supported by WP:NPOV. Perhaps we can reword the section? Pburka (talk) 22:16, 29 May 2016 (UTC)