Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Trivia sections

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Say what you mean?[edit]

"Trivia sections should not simply be removed from articles in all cases" means "Trivia sections should be removed from articles in most cases" least that is the action it suggests. If the meaning is not to "removed from articles in most cases" then it needs rewording. A section labeled "Guidance" should not bury the lead, in this case stated in the lead section - "Trivia sections should be avoided" Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 20:07, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

If the lead is stated in the lead section, then the lead is not buried, by definition. I think the passage is worded the way it is, to encourage discussion and consensus building. The construction suggests more caution than "should be removed from articles in most cases", which will be taken to mean "in every case that people don't fight for a whole year to keep one". >;-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:02, 13 June 2015 (UTC)

Covering cultural references / popular culture material[edit]

I added a section to MOS:TRIVIA, at WP:Manual of Style/Trivia sections#"In popular culture" and "Cultural references" material, on how to approach pop-culture content from a MoS perspective (avoid list format, etc.). For content policy matters, I just cross-referenced to the relevant policies. Comments/improvements welcome, as always.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  10:05, 14 June 2015 (UTC)

Deprecating the "In popular culture" heading[edit]

NAC: There is consensus that the "In popular culture" section should be deprecated. There is no consensus at this time as to how it should be handled or what should take it place. What should take its place should be discussed on this talk page or the subject of another RFC. Robert McClenon (talk) 03:59, 24 July 2015 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I propose that MOS should formally deprecate the "In popular culture" heading. As detailed at the long-standing Wikipedia:"In popular culture" content essay, this heading is often inaccurate and misleading, and it directly inspires the addition of pointless, trivial cruft that often violates the WP:Core content policies, and various guidelines.

The most popular alternatives to "In popular culture" are heading "Cultural references", "Cultural impact", "Cultural influence", "In culture", and sometimes medium- or genre-specific approaches are used, e.g. "In fiction", etc. I'd like us to discuss what the best approaches are, and agree on a default recommendation (or a few recommendations depending on article type/scope). MOS:TRIVIA now recommends writing such sections as prose paragraphs, not lists, and integrating this material into the main flow the article instead of having such a section to begin with, but I think we all know they will never entirely go away. In some articles, they are actually the most practical approach to such material.

 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:21, 14 June 2015 (UTC)


  • Support, but only after we first establish clear alternative guidance. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 23:27, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Depending on the definition of deprecate, maybe. My inclination is to say something like "popular culture can be trivial, but should be molded into something that looks nice" followed by a "'popular' culture is not the only subject which may fit into a more general understanding of a topic's 'cultural influences' but which could easily be mistaken as trivial [Izno note: something we tend to not get very right, in a most circumstances]. Accordingly, editors should consider renaming such sections." I don't think a ban is necessarily appropriate ("retired" is a phrase I've seen in contrast to "deprecated"); editors may not be able to find any other reference or may not have the desire to, and so renaming the section for renaming's sake is a touch on the bureaucratic side. --Izno (talk) 20:22, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Support. Staszek Lem (talk) 21:59, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Support If it is necessary to have a place to put such references let it be in a separate article that can be a see also. --Wehwalt (talk) 07:13, 1 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Support I like "Cultural impact". That seems to come with a certain requirement to only list instances that have appreciable impact beyond being an optional pet in a video game. While this does often hit too close to home, there are plenty of cases where a mention is definitely of interest (e.g. Common_house_martin#In literature and culture).-- Elmidae (talk) 12:59, 21 July 2015 (UTC)


Recommending alternatives[edit]

  • I think we need a multi-recommendation approach, as these sections can have a different character, rationale, and organizing principle. I can think of three main types, but there are probably others:
    1. Cultural references (and that's the best heading title for it. Often subdivided chronologically, geographically, etc.) – e.g.: The Star Trek character Spock is the focus of a Big Bang Theory episode ... featuring Spock actor Leonard Nimoy in one of his last media appearances ...
    2. Cultural impact/influence (what is the best heading title for it? Often subdivided chronologically, geographically, etc.) – e.g.: Pyramid schemes have had major impacts on entire nations, not just individuals. The failure of a national-level Ponzi scam set off the Albanian Rebellion of 1997. In Greece ...
    3. Cultural usage/adoption (what is the best heading title(s) for this? Often subdivided by medium, genre, etc.) – e.g.: The song was used in the closing sequence of the film Fight Club, described as "one of the most iconic movie-musical moments of the 1990s" by ....[1] It has been covered by more than 20 major recording artists ...
(I'm writing these examples on the fly from real facts, not quoting actual article text.)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  10:05, 14 June 2015 (UTC)

Comment: In a discussion with Beyond My Ken (BMK), I once argued against the "In popular culture" heading because, from what I'd seen, it had become a red flag for most experienced Wikipedia editors. I still feel that way. But if the section is well-written or written decently enough, the "In popular culture" or "Popular culture" heading shouldn't matter much. I'm not going to vote to essentially ban or heavily discourage the heading. I do support noting that it is often better to go with one of the alternative headings. Flyer22 (talk) 13:29, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

Comments on alt[edit]

I would vote for "Cultural impact". Of the three suggestions, this title strongly hints against trivia of kind "Ginnie Lu whistled the tune of Never on Yesterday in the 3rd episode of Homely Househusbands. Staszek Lem (talk) 22:02, 18 June 2015 (UTC)

I don't think it matters what you call it. Because what ever you call it, it will be used as an excuse to leave trivia.--Wehwalt (talk) 07:18, 1 July 2015 (UTC)

Test case[edit]

  • Just from a gut feel, what would one rename Parkour#Popular culture? That section is near and dear to my heart since I curated parkour in popular culture into that section. --Izno (talk) 20:24, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
    My suggestion would be:
    1. Section title: "Depictions in arts and literature"
    2. Allow only items which provide a significant depiction of the subject (which would be an encyclopedic value in itself as a ref to extra knowledge about the subject)
    3. Remove the sentence about Stephen Amell as a shameless advert plug-in for Tempest Academy (WTH are they?) (the fact is more directly relevant to articles Arrow and actually already plugged into several of them).
    Staszek Lem (talk) 22:10, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
    I've actually only (myself) added/kept items that are both WP:N and have a WP:RS of some sort that mentions a(n extensive) correlation with parkour (with the exception of one or two items in the list). I think that hits your #2. Feel free to shoot anything on sight that doesn't keep to that. --Izno (talk) 03:07, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Belated comment, re: Test case – It's in what I was calling the "Cultural references" category, whatever title would be settled on. What I was proposing was three (possibly more) categorizations, and some standardized names for them. I think that would still be a good idea, even if we ran with different standardized names, and even if consensus at any given page could do something different, of course.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:08, 24 July 2015 (UTC)

Unhelpful example[edit]

The current example (prez Monroe) really isn't relevant and helpful to the reader looking to restructure real trivia sections in articles. The real challenge in rewriting trivia, and the reason so little trivia is integrated better in articles, is that there is no natural links between the bits and pieces of information. I can argue the natural structure of "real" trivia is the unorganized list.

The example's bullet points are - in stark contrast to real trivia - all related and are quite easy to "write together" in a coherent paragraph. (The example reads almost as if it was extracted from an existing text)

To be useful, the example needs to address the fact almost all "real" trivia lists contain completely unrelated information. Finding similarities and themes in heaps of trivia is not easy.

More to the point, the example does nothing to show how it's done or otherwise help in the actual editing process.

Let us pick a real article. Let's take Gonna Fly Now. How can the example be improved to instruct the reader how to integrate the following in any other way than... a list?

  1. Due to its original use, the song (or soundalikes) is used frequently in various forms of popular media where a main character is forced to train hard in order to defeat an opponent, often during a montage sequence.
  2. It was used in the Will Smith (who's from Philadelphia) NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, for the Season 4 (episode 26, the season finale) episode The Philadelphia Story. When Will's training to fight a bully that used to beat him up in school, the music plays in the background of his training sessions, and as he's running up the Philadelphia Art Museum, as Rocky Balboa did in the Rocky movie.
  3. The song has been used as the main theme for France's daily radio comedy program Les Grosses Têtes since 1977.
  4. The song was used in Jackass 3D as part of a recurring gag called "The Rocky," which involved Bam Margera throwing a cup of water on an unsuspecting victim, then punching him with a boxing glove.

I would say #1 is a good start, and #2 can be used to exemplify (after copy editing, of course). However, speculating as to WHY Les Grosses Tetes uses this song would probably be wholly OR, so how do you integrate snippet #3. (Perhaps more pertinently; how do you justify throwing it away? What to discard and what to keep should be the example's first priority, I think!) Snippet #4 is a good example of something I would be flabbergasted to add to a coherent narrative, so I'm leaving it as a challenge :-)

Anyway: the Monroe example is all but useless. Actually, it IS useless, when I think about it. As in, I honestly believe the article would be MORE helpful without it: it misleads the reader into thinking reorganizing trivia is a simple and neat task.

Regards, CapnZapp (talk) 11:33, 6 August 2015 (UTC)

Okay, so no comments and no objections? Removing example, since we apparently agree the article is better off without it. Cheers, CapnZapp (talk) 12:08, 1 October 2015 (UTC)

Request for comment: Are "in popular culture" entries "self-sourcing" or do they require a reference under Wikipedia:Verifiability and Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources?[edit]

I have started an RfC on whether "in popular culture" entries are "self-sourcing" or, conversely, require a reference under Wikipedia:Verifiability and Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources. Since this has some relationship to trivia sections, I thought I would advertise the RfC here, in hopes of getting wide participation.

The RfC is at Wikipedia talk:Verifiability, so discussion is centralized there. Comments are welcome. Thanks. Neutralitytalk 00:00, 28 September 2015 (UTC)

Request for comment[edit]

There is a related discussion at WP:Village pump (policy)#Video games and historical figures. Please take a moment to comment. --Izno (talk) 11:41, 14 March 2016 (UTC)

RfC: Expand WP:TRIVIA "in popular culture" guideline[edit]

This RfC was closed because of lack of discussion participants. BrightRoundCircle (talk) 02:07, 24 June 2016 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

There is established consensus that examples from popular culture are "not self-sourcing", that is, "The source(s) cited should not only establish the verifiability of the pop culture reference, but also its significance." MOS:POPCULT "in popular culture" section currently suggests the cleanup of "unencyclopedically trivial" entries, but does not elaborate what they are. The article "In popular culture" does elaborate on this, and makes it clear: "Although some references may be plainly verified by primary sources, this does not demonstrate the significance of the reference" and "[examples] should be reserved for major, in-depth treatments of the subject that have had lasting significance". Should the quoted text from the consensus of the RfC discussion and the "in popular culture" article be added to MOS:POPCULT for clarification of what is "unencyclopedically trivial"? BrightRoundCircle (talk) 15:25, 13 June 2016 (UTC)

  • I agree that the clarification is required. However the suggested language is completely inadequate. IMO there are three items to discuss:
    • Banish the term "in popular culture" in favor of "Cultural impact". (if you disagee, I may elaborate.
    • There are two types of cultural impact: immediate and by reference (not the best terms, probably)
      • Examples of immediate impact are film made from book, a monument to article subject, a star named after a pornstar etc., you get the idea. Usually there is no problem to find references for these.
      • Examples of impact by reference: "the gameplay of Fall-off is set in Chernobyl"; "We can see archetypal Jewish mother in Big Bang theory"; "rapper Fuckin' Bro used the word 'fuck' in his latest song", etc. This is the category which causes problems. The correct phrasing must state that the article subject has a significant impact on the design/plot of the listed cultural object. In some cases it is self-evident, and WP:V may be invoked. However in many case independent secondary sources must be demanded. - I wrote 'independent', then decided against it, because references to descriptions by the author of the cultural work are quite OK.
This is what is right off my head, may be more suggestions later. Staszek Lem (talk) 23:00, 13 June 2016 (UTC)
I don't think you can "banish" terms from Wikipedia... Let's focus on explaining what "unencyclopedically trivial" means. Your wording requires original research, asking for inference instead of relying on citations. Original research is exactly what the guideline aims for editors to avoid. The wording of the conclusion of the previous discussion nearly completely eliminate original research, and with the added advice from the "In popular culture" article, everything relies on the references themselves to provide the information, and no inference or "self-verifiability" is required. BrightRoundCircle (talk) 17:59, 14 June 2016 (UTC)
Yes you can "banish". It is called "uniform style" . Quite a few synonyms have been "banished" in favor of section titles "See also", "References" and "External links". Staszek Lem (talk) 18:16, 14 June 2016 (UTC)
My wording does not require original research. I am not asking for inference. My version sets a specific criterion, which must be established following normal wikipedia rules associated with WP:V. If you insist, here is a more nitpicking version: It must be established following the WP:V rules, that the article subject has a significant impact on the design/plot of the listed cultural object. Staszek Lem (talk) 18:16, 14 June 2016 (UTC)
"The article subject has a significant impact on the listed item" is inference, and it's exactly the type of inference that the RfC seeks to eliminate. Instead, "The source(s) cited should not only establish the verifiability of the pop culture reference, but also its significance" puts all of the requirements on the source, with no additional inference. The additional requirements of "major, in-depth treatment" raises the bar on the quality of the source. While not specifically defining "major, in-depth treatment", it does allow removing sources that merely remark about the reference off-handedly. BrightRoundCircle (talk) 18:43, 14 June 2016 (UTC)
Are you saying that the source which writes "City of Apopka erected a monument to BrightRoundCircle" is inadmissible in the article BrightRoundCircle? Staszek Lem (talk) 19:42, 14 June 2016 (UTC)
In addition, IMO your are confusing wikipedian's inferences made in article text and inferences made while making decision about article content. The first one is called "original research" , the second is "consensus-building arguments". We do plenty of the latter ones e.g. during AfD. Or whether some minor bio factoid is worth including. Staszek Lem (talk) 19:48, 14 June 2016 (UTC)
Yes, that is exactly what the consensus of the previous discussion says, there are no "self-evident references" or "self-supporting sources". Whether an example is "worth including" or not is to be decided after there is a reference that shows the example's significance, prominence, importance, influence, and so forth. To give an example from the previous discussion, there are countless statues of Abraham Lincoln, but not each one of them is encyclopedic. How do we determine which one is encyclopedic? It's encyclopedic if there are sources that discuss its significance, rather than merely sources that show it exists. In other words: the bold text in the RfC. BrightRoundCircle (talk) 22:45, 14 June 2016 (UTC)
re: "there are countless statues of Lincoln": In such cases we listify them (if there are enthusiasts); see List of communist monuments in Ukraine, List of statues of Vladimir Lenin, List of places named after C. Rajagopalachari, and many more. Whether a particular statue of Abe is encyclopedic is a policy of AfD, not list inclusion. If there are sources which discuss numerocity of Communist statues, then it is a justification of the corresponding list.
Normally a person does not have countless statues, and if one has, this itself is a matter of note, per WP:COMMONSENSE. E.g. a statue at the birthplace of, say, a war hero, is notable, even if the text about it does not explicitly babbles "this is a very important statue bla-bla". And BTW this is the case when wikipedians make judgement of notability; they infer it from secondary sources which describe the object.
In case of statues of Lenin, recent events in Ukraine show why this list is encyclopedic, each and every statue of Lenin is a matter of controversy (I will not dwell upon this here), and such list demonstrates something encyclopedic, even if each particular statue is a standard piece of Communist kitch. Staszek Lem (talk) 16:56, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
P.S. IMO this exchange shows that the guideline must distinguish several categories of cultural impact:
  • Tribute (monuments, asteroids, books (fictional, biographical) about the person or his specific feat, etc.
  • Influence (film based on a book, opera influenced by a legend, etc.)
  • Usage (a novel exploits a peculiarity of the article subject for a significant twist of the plot; a notable memoir of a notable person dwells at lengths upon how another notable person changed his life, etc.)
  • etc.
each with their own criteria of inclusion and way of handling. For example the "memoir" case is easily incorporable into article prose. Staszek Lem (talk) 17:07, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
WP:SAL and WP:EMBED are not in the scope of this discussion. If someone wants to make a "list of all <x> of <y>", that's covered under WP:SAL, which adequately covers list criteria (one of which is "Selection criteria (also known as inclusion criteria or membership criteria) should be unambiguous, objective, and supported by reliable sources." Reliable sources, not editor inference... but anyway WP:SAL is not part of this discussion).
Also not in the scope of this discussion is one example ("statue of a war hero"), which is neither WP:SAL nor a collection of "self-sourcing examples".
The scope of this discussion is MOS:POPCULT, in particular incorporating previous consensus into the guideline to make it clear that "self-sourcing" examples are not acceptable. Splitting hairs whether a reference is a tribute or an influence or a usage would result in more original research, not less, especially when these terms may sometimes be used interchangeably. BrightRoundCircle (talk) 19:03, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
I agree with the statement that "self-sourcing examples are not acceptable". I disagree with the suggested phrasing in bold as too restrictive. Also I disagree that "splitting hairs" is bad. Quite often it makes you think more systematically. Many words may be used interchangleably. MOreover, the same item may be both a tribute and influence. This does not change the fact than I see these as different categories, with the last one being most troublesome. However if you are insisting on extremely narrow scope of this RFC, here is my extremely narrow answer:
Strongly disagree: the phrasing of the proposal as given in boldface is too restrictive (and going away, per WP:SHED). Staszek Lem (talk) 19:18, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
Despite WP:SHED, I still think this discussion is productive despite that, or because, we disagree. First, we noted that we're not talking about WP:SAL. Second, we saw that even WP:SAL requires reliable sources, not the inference of the editors, which is what this RfC is attempting to apply to MOS:POPCULT, in addition to a more specific requirement of significance. Third, instead of making categories upon categories each with its own rules, we can apply the same exclusion standards to all types of tributes, influences, usages, references, etc. BrightRoundCircle (talk) 19:46, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
(from behind the shed :-) We agree on most points, with the single exception: treatment of the term "significance". You missed my point that "significance" is almost always "inference of the editors" . It is not that often reliable source say something like "The opera Can-Can-Me (opera) was significant for the ballet Can-Can-Me (ballet) because Can-Can-Me (ballet) was based on Can-Can-Me (opera)". The source will simply say "Can-Can-Me (ballet) was based Can-Can-Me (opera)" My common sense suggests that the latter simple statement of fact is sufficient for inclusion into "POPCULT", while it seems that you will be against because it was an inference of significance on my side. Staszek Lem (talk) 20:07, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
I see your point. For a working definition, let's assume any discussion of the example within the article's context makes it significant. For example, there are many sources that discuss the work How a Mosquito Operates. However, in order to include it as an example in the article arthropods in film, there should be a source (and it should be referenced) that discusses How a Mosquito Operates within the context of "arthropods in film". Such a source exists - Encyclopedia of Insects, chapter Insects in movies.
So maybe instead of "significant" the guideline should say "discussed in the context of the topic of the article": Sources cited should not only establish the verifiability of the example, but also discuss it in the context of the topic of the Wikipedia article that includes the example. Brief mentions, such as mentions in lists and listicles, are not discussions." This way editors do not have to make a judgement call about what's "significant", and sources that make a mention in passing are excluded, and sources that discuss the example outside of the context of the article are excluded too. Since this new interpretation of "significant" is not part of an existing consensus, I guess this RfC needs a lot more participation now to determine a new consensus. BrightRoundCircle (talk) 14:42, 16 June 2016 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Trivia SECTIONS vs trivial CONTENT?[edit]

Is this policy only about sections, or does it also cover content? At times I run into editors who reject properly sourced content because they consider it trivial. Does this policy cover that aspect as well, or are there other policies which apply? -- BullRangifer (talk) 02:32, 21 May 2017 (UTC)