Wikipedia talk:Notability/Archive 42

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A proposal for promotion of wp:quote recently closed.

The pros for promotion where that if wp:quote was promoted, we would not have quotes strewn on articles with out an explanation to:

  1. why they are there
  2. its pertinence to the article
  3. its reason for being included
  4. its notability to its inclusion

For 4., an example is poet articles where excerpts of poems are included in articles, but these excerpts are not explained for its inclusion, among the infinite number of quotes that can be used to "represent the poets life". Should we include this case in this guideline? (talk) 03:54, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

No, as notability (as we describe here) has nothing to do with article content, only if a topic merits an article. --MASEM (t) 04:00, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

On sources of a scheduled or universal nature

In a recent AFD, the closer said "every single educational establishment in the UK, whether it has one child or five thousand is required to be inspected by OfSTED and thus have an indepedent report on it, so such reports cannot be used as evidence of notability.". I do not believe that this opinion is supported by the notability guideline and so we should perhaps make the guideline clearer.

In that case, the issue was school inspection reports. These are, by their nature, independent, detailed and reliable, and so seem excellent establishers of notability. A similar situation might be reviews of new movies which appear in the press. These appear as a matter of course - the editors will not just ignore some new release in order to fill the newspaper space with some other item - the readership will expect the appropriate review column to cover all new releases.

The issue seems to be universal coverage - that all items of a given type will receive coverage of a standard kind. Whether such coverage is standard or not seems immaterial for our purposes. What matters is that the item has been noticed and that it has been written about in detail so that we have a good basis for our article. How shall we improve the guideline to make this clearer?

Colonel Warden (talk) 23:30, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

I must take a completely different interpretation of notability than you do. Notability == "Worthy of notice", best demonstrated by evidence that a reliable source has already taken notice. OfSTED doesn't take notice of any school; it's part of their job to write reports on them. Similarly, it's a judge's job to issue opinions on case matter. The judge is independent of the case matter, if not the case, and could be considered an expert on judicial matters. His opinions are even frequently reviewed by higher courts. But again, it's his job to issue opinions on cases that come to him, and so judicial opinions have never been taken as proof that the underlying case matter is notable (aside from cases that have received opinions from the highest court in a nation).
Thinking this way, I have always considered a source such as the one you bring up to not actually be independent. It's not independent if there's no choice on what subject matter to report on. Major movie releases are different. There is no legal obligation on the press to write a review, and there is no contract demanding they do so. It's consistent and inevitable that every Dreamworks picture will receive many reviews, but the reviewers still make a concious decision to write those reviews, and so they are quite a different story. Someguy1221 (talk) 23:48, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
We might introduce language about "indiscriminate" sources. If a source is required by law to notice something, or if, in practice, it notices everything (e.g., very small town media sources), then the existence of these sources does not prove that someone would voluntarily consider the thing worth noticing (or, worth noticing more than other things). WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:56, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
This falls under "routine reporting". If, by law, every school will have to have that report, then it is a routine report. The movie example is a good counterexample to this - nearly every movie that gets released to theaters will have reviews, but this by far is not "routine", as these reviews go into more detail about the work and no two reviews from the same source will necessarily cover the same details. I'd also argue that the reporting of the school by law is non-transformative, and thus a primary - or possibly a tertiary - work, insufficient for notability. --MASEM (t) 00:06, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
School inspection reports are far more transformative than a movie review. In the latter case, one person watches the movie and then gives us their off-the-cuff impressions, larding them with whatever humour and marginal digressions they care to add. A school inspection by contrast, will be the result of days of work: inspecting the school, its staff, premises, facilities and classes. The inspectors will have been professionally trained to report the details which the education hierarchy and community consider to be worthy of note - the quality of the education; the safety of the children; the competence of the management. The reports are not made regularly just to keep the inspectors busy but are performed because the community considers that the school, by its nature, is worthy of note and so is prepared to pay teams of people to notice the place in a systematic and thorough way. The scheduled nature of the inspections thus heightens their value as evidence of notability, rather than diminishing it.
If this point is not accepted, then we will be left with the impression that notability is a matter of freakish incident or sensational story which causes such a place to attract special interest. But Wikipedia is not a freak show like Ripley's Believe It or Not!. Sober and unexciting reports should count just as much or more for notability as tabloid reporting or personal opinion. This point seems well understood in other areas - we don't expect every plant or chemical to have some exciting feature or story to tell. Botanists and chemists will report such matters in a mundane and boring manner but it is all grist to our mill. So it should be for other topics.
Colonel Warden (talk) 08:30, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

Notablity of qutoes not established on Philip Larkin

almost-instinct says on Wikipedia_talk:Quotations#Unable_To_Post: "For the biogs sections I chose quotes that had some relevence to that section of Larkin's life. The other quotes are from popular poems and can stand alone.":

The quotes are in quote boxes and they have no explanation to why they are included.

These quotes should be moved to wikiquote. Can we get more feedback? (talk) 04:58, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

This can't be discussed here. Notability is about a topic being apropiate for a stand alone article or not, not about the content of an otherwise notable topic for an article MBelgrano (talk) 19:20, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes, it is not a matter of notability. And yes, quotable quotes would be welcome at Wikiquote:Philip Larkin. ~ Ningauble (talk) 19:38, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Foreign language sources

Over on Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Network_TwentyOne it has been suggested that foreign language news, magazine, and journal articles do not contribute to notability unless supported by english speaking ones, since WP:NOTE doesn't say they're ok. I won't state what my response to that is, but instead would request some input here? --Insider201283 (talk) 10:22, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

I don't see why not. when WP:NOTE request reliable sources, it does not need to explain what constitutes a reliable source, as that is explained elsewhere. The important part is that, for notability, they must be independent from the subject, such a rule is independent from language MBelgrano (talk) 11:19, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
This has been brought up many times before, and soundly rejected each time. The last time can be read here. Sjakkalle (Check!) 06:00, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
Yup, there is nothing fundamentally different about foreign language sources from english ones. You may need to be ready to defend against bad translations, but that's a different aspect altogether for notability .--MASEM (t) 06:11, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

Proposal to merge relevant parts of WP:NEO here

Due to lack of further feedback/objection, boldly merging into WP:NOTDICT. Further discussion, if any, go there.
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.

Discussion at Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style#WP:NEO_--_Merge_and_split Gigs (talk) 02:02, 6 April 2010 (UTC) Moving the discussion of the notability part back here. Gigs (talk) 13:31, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

WP:NEO, while often cited in deletion discussions, is actually part of the Manual of Style. The MoS people are running a big cleanup right now, moving inappropriate material out of the MoS. Because of that, I have suggested that we merge the parts of WP:NEO that are actually notability guidelines into WP:N.


Some neologisms can be in frequent use, and it may be possible to pull together many facts about a particular term and show evidence of its usage on the Internet or even in larger society. It may be natural, then, to feel that Wikipedia should have a page devoted to this new term, and this is sometimes but not always the case.

To support an article about a particular term or phrase we must cite reliable secondary sources such as books and papers about the term or phrase, not books and papers that use the term. (Note that wikis such as Wiktionary are not considered to be a reliable source for this purpose.) Neologisms that are in wide use but for which there are no treatments in secondary sources are not yet ready for use and coverage in Wikipedia. The term does not need to be in Wikipedia in order to be a "true" term, and when secondary sources become available, it will be appropriate to create an article on the topic or use the term within other articles.

An editor's personal observations and research (e.g. finding blogs, books, and articles that use the term rather than are about the term) are insufficient to support articles on neologisms because this may require analysis and synthesis of primary source material to advance a position (which is explicitly prohibited by the original research policy). To paraphrase Wikipedia:No original research: If you have research to support the inclusion of a term in the corpus of knowledge that is Wikipedia, the best approach is to arrange to have your results published in a peer-reviewed journal or reputable news outlet and then document your work in an appropriately non-partisan manner.

Articles on neologisms are commonly deleted as these articles are often created in an attempt to use Wikipedia to increase usage of the term. As Wiktionary's inclusion criteria differ from Wikipedia's, that project may cover neologisms that Wikipedia cannot accept. If you are interested in writing an article on a neologism, you may wish to contribute it to that project instead. In a few cases, there will be notable topics which are well-documented in reliable sources, but for which no accepted short-hand term exists. It can be tempting to employ a neologism in such a case. Instead, use a title that is a descriptive phrase in plain English if possible, even if this makes for a somewhat long or awkward title.

Feel free to edit this here. If no one objects, I'll merge it into the guideline soon. Gigs (talk) 13:31, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

This guideline must be kept in broad terms, that may be applied to any article. To create a notability criteria for a specific topic, it must be at a guideline of it's own, so write this at a new page. MBelgrano (talk) 13:48, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Our guidance on neologisms should apply to all articles, shouldn't it? This isn't an issue that's limited to a specific topic. As well, I'm not sure there's enough material to put into a standalone guideline page. Gigs (talk) 14:01, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
This might find space at Notability (events). --MASEM (t) 14:06, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Heh, I couldn't see that at all. What do neologisms have to do with events? Actually I've thought of a very good reason why this needs to be here in WP:N. It doesn't describe additional notability guidelines that would add a presumption of notability, as the subject specific guidelines do, it describes additional guidance that would remove a presumption of notability. If we stick this into a subject specific notability guideline, we'll have to fundamentally change the additive way that they work. Gigs (talk) 14:10, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Since WP:N and it's children don't specify exclusion, would this belong in Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not ? —Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) talk 14:18, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Might be better at WP:NOTDICT with that approach, since it is effectively an extension of that. For all practical matters, the advice above states nothing different from the WP:GNG - we are looking for significant coverage about a topic, not just name dropping in secondary sources, though I can see how neologisms can be specifically problematic. --MASEM (t) 14:23, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
(e/c, to Joshua)The thought has crossed my mind. Right now it's just guideline-level though, we'd have to get consensus for promotion to policy to put it in WP:NOT. If we put it in here it wouldn't be strictly exclusionary, it would just provide guidance on when not to give the presumption of suitability for inclusion. It might be better if it were in part of WP:NOT in the end though, since that's more reflective of how it's used. Gigs (talk) 14:25, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Gigs, don't make things so complicated: specific notability guidelines are not meant to "add" or "remove" anything, but to provide topic-specific criteria. This one wouldn't apply to all articles, just to articles about neologisms. If we want to consider the notability of a music band, an event, an organization, etc; what use would it have a section like this? The current sections are global and unfocused enough as to be useful for all possible cases, this one is not. MBelgrano (talk) 15:30, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

This guideline has been cited in hundreds of articles for deletion debates and articles for creation requests. I don't think I'm "making it complicated", I'm just trying to make sure we don't change the spirit of it. Gigs (talk) 18:08, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

I've left a note on WT:NOTDICT. Gigs (talk) 18:17, 7 April 2010 (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.

notability for software

How do we establish notability for computer software, especially free and open-source ones? (talk) 19:06, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

See previous discussion on the last archive page here, but in general, the general notability guideline requiring coverage in secondary sources is required. --MASEM (t) 19:08, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
I would add "required -- and not that hard to comply with." With respect to software (and specifically FOSS), the examples we've been given as special cases that obviously need exemptions have consistently turned out to have many more sources than the editor originally believed.
The usual rules, BTW, mean that you have to show that someone else has (voluntarily) "noticed" it. The usual places to look include computer-related magazines, books, and industry news -- but just about anything written by a person who isn't creating/selling the software "counts". WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:45, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
I would have a higher standard than "just about anything written," (and I think the higher standard is more consistent with the WP:GNG): blog entries, forum posts and the like are not enough. UnitedStatesian (talk) 20:55, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
Blog entries and such may "count" according to editors at AfDs... just often not for very much, compared to something like a magazine article. There is no rule against "online-only" sources, as GNG explicitly allows "all forms and media".
Editors' responses to a source often depend on details, like whether the blog is written by a widely acknowledged expert, or is associated with proper editorial control (e.g., a blog at The New York Times carries more weight than a personal blog), and how much it says about the subject. A long series of detailed blog posts by an expert at an industry magazine is likely to count for far more than a passing mention in a local newspaper article. Still, I think that you could build a case for an article based only on relatively weak sources -- if you have enough of them. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:06, 10 April 2010 (UTC)

Downgrading this guideline to an essay

An editor has started a centralised discussion over at the village pump with a view to exploring the possibility to downgrade this guideline to an essay. Due to the wide impact this guideline has on the fate of vast numbers of articles over at AfD, the village pump has been chosen as the forum , in order to hopefully attract widespread participation. Contributions from the regulars here is of course welcome! FeydHuxtable (talk) 17:58, 10 April 2010 (UTC)

Who decided that lists needed independent notability?

Okay, so once upon a time when a work of fiction was being covered on Wikipedia and it had an overly abundant amount of characters, multiple lists were created for the sake of organization, article size, etc. But recently this logic has been thrown to the wayside in favor of "notability". Multiple character lists are simply being thrown together, completely defeating the purpose of why they were made in the first place. I'm not really sure why "independent notability" is needed for list articles that are are all divisions of the same subject. It's like merging/deleting List of Shakespearean characters (A–K) because "there's no independent notability for the subject Shakespearean characters with names beginning with A through K. Asinine, yeah? That didn't really stop series like Dragonball and One Piece, with hundreds of characters spanning their stories, from being compacted haphazardly into single, incredibly lengthy lists that offer the bare minimum of information. Hell, I'm pretty sure this is actually counterproductive to what the guys over at WT:FICT argue for years about. The only thing to come from that hilarious circlejerk was the decision that lists shouldn't be dealt with via notability, but here we are. Fix it. - Norse Am Legend (talk) 22:39, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Such lists are obviously useful to the readership in facilitating navigation to existing material. The density of blue links in the list justifies its existence. This should be covered by WP:CLS, not WP:N. The blue links in the list should go to pages that meet notability criteria.
The article size should not be excessively large. The page mentioned prints to the 35 pages, which I think is too long for a "page". It fails the principle of least astonishment when single click printing a web page consumes all of your paper and ink. If substantial documents are desired, I think content transcended into superpages should be used. So, in the end, merging and splitting such pages should take into account such concerns and be an editorial decision independent of WP:N. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:01, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
It's not a question that has been reasonably answers and there is still split division on it. If a list is not notable, it needs to be supporting another main topic, and even then, there needs to be good reason (that after appropriate trimming and the like, that the list would not fit well into the main topic article) to split off the list from the main topic. It is probably fair that there are some cases where characters lists are appropriate, but it is likely not going to be a immediate allowance for other lists. Much of the advise here falls to Summary style writing, not so much notability. But a non-notable list that is there for just being there without a major topic connected to it will likely be deleted. --MASEM (t) 23:56, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
Though it really shouldn't be. This notion that breakout articles should have independent notability is wacky to my thinking. I think if we used sub-articles to do this same thing, we'd get a general agreement doing so was okay. Arg. So basically I agree with Norse Am Legend. Hobit (talk) 00:02, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
No, I'm not saying that spinouts per SS should have independent notability, but an increasing issue is that people are making spinouts whenever they can for these. (If it's not a spinout, then yes, it needs independent notability).
Case in point: NAL points to "hundreds" of characters across series like One Piece. Ok, I know enough about the series that the claim of hundreds of specific named characters is true. But the question that comes when list articles are created with that many entries is if appropriate discretion has been used. For One Piece, obvious Luffy and Zoro and the like need to be in there, but a character that is only present in one short story arc is questionable. That's where the trimming and editing and smart consideration of discrimination of who are actually characters that are pertinent to the work should be include - this would be your main characters and other reoccurring characters, but not one-shots. We're covering the work of fiction in an encyclopedic manner and I would acknowledge that coverage of major and minor characters are needed (I know others disagree here) but we have to consider that we should not be a fan guide and list every possible character. Again - not a notability issue, but often going to be criticized if the list is compiled without thought and balance. --MASEM (t) 00:09, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
Not being a fan guide does not mean that we should not list (read "link to") every character with existing coverage. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:34, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
A character with a blue link certainly should be included in a list of characters. However, I don't think one-shot/cameo characters are ever going to have their own articles (exceptionally rarely, though), and thus that's not an issue towards this. --MASEM (t) 00:46, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

Note: Let's not turn this into a thing about the notability of single characters, small groups and whatnot. Naturally lists and stuff probably shouldn't go back to how One Piece was, where every pirate crew and tiny faction in the series had their own article. This is more about full lists like "List of Dragonball humans/aliens/villains", where there's enough recurring or notable characters to fill a list for each of those. - (talk) 01:31, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

  • I think that when anyone talks about lists, they need to clearly distinguish between a stand-alone list that is independently notable as a list, and a list that is justified as a navigational aid. Lists of fictional characters are unlikely to be judged notable, but where the entries all receive a mention on a proper article, the navigation benefits trump cruft concerns. (Wasn't there once a notability guideline covering them?) --SmokeyJoe (talk) 04:36, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
Well, there's also a third category of lists that you don't include, and that's where the list itself isn't notable (the parent subject would be), nor are the majority of the entries notable, ending up as just a list of characters or the like, and this is the type of list I suspect that NAL is concerned with. I believe these to be appropriate when they are written appropriately (that is, with discrimination as described above) and the parent article is too large to contain that. However, I know there are others that are strongly against this type of list. I would point to Wikipedia:Notability/RFC:compromise that was done in late 2008 in which spin-out lists do not enjoy strong consensus to be created freely, though there was support for certain types of such lists. It remains a non-clear cut issue. --MASEM (t) 04:59, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
I considered your third category to be lists that fail to make the first category and don't belong. If they can't meet the my second category, which means that the character name is not a section header on any page, then I think the dominant view is that the list doesn't belong. I know this is contentious. An alternate view of a character list is that it is an early, badly written form of good content. Convert the list to prose, and say something about the characters. I assume that some source, it need not be independent, says something about the character. The solution to spin-outs is to not spin-out the weakest parts of big pages, but to spin out independently interesting parts. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:58, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
Certainly avoiding spinouts is important from the start, and doing things like trimming and prose-ify these into the main article makes sense. I suspect there are a lot of dead-weight character lists for lesser-known works that could be reduced into one or more paragraphs into the main work. However, I can't say this is universally true for all such lists that are not notable of themselves or are not navigational aids. There are two issues to be cautioned on. The first is that spinout advice does suggest, when dealing with spinouts per size issues, starting these with the material that is of less interest to the general reader and that is more specific to highly-interested readers. Full listings of characters fit this bill rather well - because they are typically only of interest to those that need to find out more about the work than the reader that is looking to learn to recognize what the work is. The other issue is that there is a large number of editors that don't seem to have said anything in this discussion that are already slighted at the impact of notability on fiction of late (last few years, at least as since the first Ep & Char arbcom case). Some still standby Wikipedia:Deletion policy/Minor characters, which was the basis of the original FICT under a few years ago, and there is still footnote #7 of WP:N which suggests this is appropriate. I also throw out the WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS phenom that is hard to work around with some editors when we allow for lists that meet either the notable or nav. aids but block these for other cases complete. So right now this is an area with conflicting advice and very little consensus in any direction, which is why I throw caution here: this is not a simple issue to resolve. --MASEM (t) 13:37, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

I can think of the following justifications for a stand-alone list:

  • Independent notability.
  • Navigational aid to articles. In this case most entries are independently discussed in Wikipedia (in an article or at least a section).
  • Spin-out per WP:Summary style. In this case the list must make sense as an integral part of an encyclopedic (note that this implies brevity) article about the notable main topic. In a printed encyclopedia all the subarticles would form a single article together. The depth of this combined article would be in a reasonable relation to the notability of its subject.

If this listing is complete, it follows that a stand-alone list of Shakespeare characters is already borderline, and a stand-alone list of characters in some TV series is almost always excessive and needs to be cut down so that it fits into the parent article. Note that we don't even have List of Muppets, even though at least two dozen of them have notability beyond any doubt and many more have articles.

Without some requirements of this kind we would soon get things like List of French words that contain the letter E or List of Italian cities without a Chinese restaurant. Hans Adler 07:07, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

I think there is little problem with making a List version of Category:The_Muppets_characters, assuming that it offers more than the category already does, and that it is of reasonable completeness and quality, unlike the [version that was converted to the redirect. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:17, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
I think you are right: It wasn't a good argument because there could be such a list. My point was that that's about the degree of degree of notability – both of the programme and of many individual characters – where I think a list of characters begins to make sense. Hans Adler 01:29, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
I though the phrasing sounded familiar of 'here's no independent notability for the subject Shakespearean characters with names beginning with A through K' and sure enough when I looked atr th history of WT:FICT I spotted someone who goes in for this sort of business of looking for the exact wording. If that is the real source they will just go on and on not contributing anything but arguing in a similar vein and not considering your answer even if there is one with the same name but A through M and M through Z. Sorry, this is just the sort of thing you have to contend with sometimes on Wikipedia and it has little to do with anything useful. Dmcq (talk) 15:07, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Hans Adler on this issue - a list has to demonstrate notability. The key to lists is definiton: even a broad defintion ("This is a list of French words...") is the dividing line between raw data and information. Some editors think that the list title is the defintion; don't be fooled, because this is just a way of avoiding having to provide any form of external validation for a list's content or its existence. I did put a proposal a while back regarding the Notability of lists, but has been rejected by Masem (on spurious grounds in my view):

In any encyclopedia, information cannot be included solely for being true or useful. Lists, whether they are embedded lists or stand-alone lists, are encyclopedic content, and they are equally subject to Wikipedia's content policies. To provide a verifiable rationale for inclusion, we must provide a defintion for their subject matter from a reliable souce. Inclusion of material in a list should be based on what reliable sources say, not on original research.

The reasons for this are as follows:
  1. A list without any defintion is original research;
  2. A list with a definition, but based only on primary sources fails WP:NOT#DIR;
  3. A list without reliable, third party sources fails WP:BURDEN;
  4. Only lists that are defined by of reliable secondary sources are suitable for inclusion.
I think there is a mistaken view that since lists are "harmless", "useful" or are needed to make articles "complete", then they are acceptable, but I don't subscribe to arguments encapsulated in WP:IKNOWIT. Lists are like any other article topic: they need to be defined, and they need external validation for inclusion purposes (notability) and quality control (against original research). I think there should be stronger guidance than is presently the case, because our existing guidelines on list provide no useful guidance at all on this issue. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 15:11, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
Notability only applies to article topics, not every article. Thus, lists if they are supporting a main topic does not need the support of secondary sources (though that's always a better). (True stand-alone lists that are not otherwise directly associated with a single topic need to be shown notable). Our list definitions need to be guided by avoidance of indiscriminate information. As I explained at the other page, this is both attributed to the actual list definition (the example there "List of 40-pt games by Kobe Bryant", questions why the choice of 40-pts or just Kobe Bryant as these are indiscriminate), and the potential list content ("List of people in America" would be overly inclusion and beyond discriminate. However, as long as the choice of the list definition and inclusion requires are discriminate, we are free to use original research to create those list topics, just as we do original research for deciding how to create articles and what content goes into articles - it is part of the WP backend that can sit outside of normal mainspace content rules. The content of lists still need verification. When you apply this to the character lists, most of these start to fail at the indiscriminate inclusion aspect: while "list of characters in work X" is a fair definition, including every possible character is indiscriminate, so that's an issue. --MASEM (t) 15:34, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
The topic of a list is provided by its definiton, so that argument is dead in the water. The defintion should be explicit ("This is a list of French words...") but the default defintion is its title. Lists do not sit outside normal mainspace content rules, as they are mainspace pages, just like articles. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 15:52, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
No, this is wrong. The content of a list must confirm to content policies and thus why we need to avoid definitions that are indiscriminate or lead to indiscriminate inclusion, but the exactly means of titling a list or defining it is reached by consensus and thus may include original research. --MASEM (t) 16:01, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
I dispute Masem's assertion that "defining it is reached by consensus and thus may include original research", because consensus boils down to the personal opnions of one or more editors, and original research is strictly forbidden in any shape or form. Masem is essentially suggesting that WP:IKNOWIT applies to lists, and by doing so, he implies the subject matter of lists do not have to be externally validated in accordance with WP:BURDEN.
As I said earlier, even if a defintion is not explicitly stated in the lead paragraph of a list, then it is still implicit in the title. Therefore, there is at the very least a requirement for editors to provide attribution for the title of a list in the absence of a defintion in order to demonstrate that is not original research.
Take the example, AfD - List of allies and other characters in Codename: Kids Next Door, whose subject matter is only defined by its title. Since no external source can be found, it has already been labeled as orginal research. Masem's views are just not supported by what is going on in the real world. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 10:35, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
The argument mirrors much of what was said about Scientific opinion on climate change - how we organize matter across WP is not limited by was sources say or bounded by the "no original research" claims as long as consensus agrees it is appropriate - there is probably elements of avoiding POV-specific topics of some type.
Now, as your example of that list, I agree it is a bad list, under the concept of being both an indiscriminate definition, indiscriminate inclusion (I see several one-shot characters in the list), and to a point of detail that seems appropriate for the topic (the show's notable, but does not have the significant impact or general overall coverage that other fictional works have). This does not rule out that a possible single list of characters would be appropriate instead that combines that list and drops non-recurring characters and some of the excess weight of prose. It's also important to note that such a list is verified. From the primary work itself, which is a completely valid source to use though if there are third-party sources they need to be used too. And because it would be in support of a larger notable topic, it would not have to shown notability (though if it could, that would be better). But I will again say this is "seems appropriate" for such a list article, but is only after other attempts at cleanup have been done to determine if its necessary. Looking at the present Codename: Kids Next Door page, I'd say there's a lot of cleanup work that has to be done before a list of characters page is justified, because there's presently no need to split off that many characters with as little information about the show in that article (heck, I can only count 2 secondary sources among a ton of primary information - I'm not saying the show isn't notable but there's definitely UNDUE plot coverage here.) But all this is for this specific example. Other works may be able to better support multiple character lists depending on information available, how its written or what steps have been done before to clean up, and so forth. --MASEM (t) 12:08, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
So what you are saying is that although List of allies and other characters in Codename: Kids Next Door is not a good list because it fails WP:UNDUE, its OK that it is entirely original research?
In answer to Masem, this makes no sense. When you say a consensus of opinion "decides" what an article title is, would you not agree that they would tend to make a rational decision, and select a title that is widely used and so could be externally validated? The problem is that this list title is not used anywhere else, nor has its content been compiled anywhere else - in fact, there are no sources available to valdiate it at all, either in terms of inclusion in Wikipedia, nor in terms of content as not being original research. I just don't subscribe to the view that lists are exempt from WP:OR, and I think citations are need to demonstrate that this list is not original research, whether that comes in a citation to support the title or a defintion in its lead, which are entirely lacking in this case. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 12:22, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
No, I don't think the list ok in either case, as it does fail UNDUE (do we need that split yet?) and that the collection is indiscriminate. But I am not saying that list is bad because the title is original research. The contents of a list needs verification and as I explained on the stand-alone list talk plage, argued this comes from two places: either a single source that exhaustively lists all elements within a list, or from multiple sources that assert one or more elements belong in that list's inclusion. But the list inclusion - and as a result its title - can be defined by consensus as long as the collection of elements is not so large to be indiscriminate or that the list definition is defined by discriminate criteria - all elements that can only be judged by consensus with some possibility - but not required - of being backed by sources (eg, in the "List of 40pt games by Kobe Bryant" if there was a reason 40pt was selected, say as being a mark of a good game by the sporting press, would help clear up the indiscriminate nature of that 40pt selection). --MASEM (t) 12:40, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
I am still not understanding why Masem thinks lists that are original rearch are acceptable in any shape or form. Surely it would be better to include only those lists that are verifiable? If List of allies and other characters in Codename: Kids Next Door was in any way verifable, surely it would not be challenged as being original research?--Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 15:06, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
I can verify the list, go watch KND. If you're going to say that's independent research then every article listed on List_of_Lost_episodes needs to go because their sources all originate with the aired tv episodes as a primary source.-- (talk) 16:21, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
Content cannot be original research but how we organize and present content can be - that's basically how the MOS and other style and other guidelines are used. For example, we have to use "original research" to distill numerous sources into a usable article. How that's done is based on a hierarchy of MOS-like guidelines in terms of what sections we should have, how to avoid POV-ness in presentation, and so forth. Once you start making actual claims, then you have true "original research" issues (as spelled out at WP:OR), but, for example, as the IP pointed out above, the existence of a character in a fictional work can be asserted by the primary source, that is not an extraordinary claim. --MASEM (t) 23:24, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
Original research is not WP:Original research. Only one of them is prohibited on Wikipedia. The actual policy encourages distilling numerous sources into a usable article. WhatamIdoing (talk) 07:21, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
That's what I meant (if it wasn't clear). --MASEM (t) 12:38, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
Creating entirely new or novel lists based on editorial opinion is original research in my view, since the creation of lists without any externally verifiable rationale is an entirely novel and original list topic that has not been already published by a reliable source. Since the compilation of an original list does not involve the distillation of numerous sources into a usable article, it just a regurgitation of the primary source data, and what purpose it serves will only be known to the editor who has created it (WP:IKNOWIT). In other words, if no one outside Wikipedia has thought of publishing a list of characters from Codename: Kids Next Door, then there is no rationale for inclusion.
Another way of looking at the creation of novel or original lists without external validation is that is the process of creating listcruft, i.e. the accumulation of random stuff into lists. This is the issue picked up by WP:NOT#DIR: regardless of whether the existence of something can be verified, Wikipedia is not a directory of everything that exists or has existed. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 18:40, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
That's your view, but it is not the consensus view. OR can be used to organize content, just not in the generation of that content. --MASEM (t) 19:18, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

Is original research or original research acceptable?

That said, it is not just any OR is acceptable for organizing content - we can't create a list that presents a strong POV point, eg. "List of political blunders by George W. Bush", and we do want to avoid listcruft and excessive spinoffs (again, why I've suggested the list you mention should be merged into a single character list, and that itself possibly merged to the parent article). But there is no ban on the use of OR, within reason, to create articles and lists. --MASEM (t) 19:26, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
IMO, "creating entirely new or novel lists based on editorial opinion is original research" -- but it is not necessarily WP:Original research. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:23, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
I think there is some very shallow or selective thinking going on here. Correct me if I am wrong, but if the idea for an entirely new or original list topic is dreamt up by an editor, then surely that goes against Wikipedia's policy on original research, pure and simple? I think WP:OR#Related policies makes it more or less clear that creating entirely new or novel lists based on editorial opinion contravenes WP:V and WP:NPOV, as Masem's example of "List of political blunders by George W. Bush" illustrates.
Going back to my earlier example, it is clear to me that the "List of allies and other characters in Codename: Kids Next Door" is original research. One anon IP has suggest that it is not original research because the characters are verifiable. I don't buy into that because the list is little clearly indicates that it is original research; a more accurate title would be "List of fictional allies and other characters in Codename: Kids Next Door". But it does not end there: we don't know if the list is complete, nor even it was intended to be complete, nor what was the basis of selection; this goes back to my point about lists without a definition are an excuse for not providing external validation . A more correct title that describes its content would be "List of an arbitrarily selected fictional allies and other characters in odename: Kids Next Door". In this case, the lack of correct title and/or definition is being used to disguise original research.
Just because a list comprises of elements that are not controversial, that does not mean that it is not original research. It is true that some sort of editorial judgement has to be used to organise content, but to create an entirely new and original topic goes beyond that. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 09:37, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
As I said above, using OR to define the inclusion aspects of the list is allowed, but there are still other considerations to make sure the OR is not leading to an indiscriminate list that is arbitrarily defined or overly broad - we still need to avoid indiscriminate lists (btw: this can still happen with list definitions spelled out by sources; it is not just a facet of the use of OR to create the list definition). We also can't use OR in the way that goes against the disallowed types of synthesis. For example, List of guest stars on The Simpsons is readily apparent from the primary source by simply evaluating the creations, but (and why the KND example is a bad list) the labeling of characters as "villain" is a tenuous ground that should be avoided without better sources (even if a primary work to guide the definitions better). A general list of KND characters (with no distinction made) is more appropriate. The other aspect you worry about is completeness, but this is something we can't spell out in a title easily; whether the list is exclusive or inclusive is the type of language spelled out in the lede of the list that explains what the inclusion metrics are. a "List of KND Characters" can lead to either "a complete list of all KND characters" or "a list of major KND characters", and the list lede just needs to make that clear. Remember, lists are not always new topics; but if they are spinouts of a larger topic, the spinout needs to be merited first (the content needs to have been edited and trimming to the most appropriate content, and there needs to be significant size issues to require it). --MASEM (t) 12:46, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
Forgive me for sounding harsh, but I would question the assumptions that underpin the view that lists are not always new topics. Where does it say this in content policy? Perhaps you are thinking that a list without a definition is not a topic? I think this goes back to my earlier point that if a list does not have definition, then its title is the definition by default. Is this what you mean? If not, in what circumstance would a list not be a new topic? --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 16:48, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
WP:SS and common sense, which is what is needed here, not blind following of the rules. --MASEM (t) 17:36, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
Maybe I am entirely devoid of common sense, but I would have thought lists are indeed separate, discrete topics in their own right, although we might refer to them as list topics instead or article topics, they are topics. Certainly one list is different from another, if only in title, if not in definition. Now if that is the case, if I create a new list topic that has not been published before, surely that is original research? --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 19:49, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
Only in some instances where you would be using subjective terms like, "Worse/Best ever" and do not cite reliable sources claiming such. Creating a list of episodes from a TV series is not original research.Jinnai 00:11, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Because of WP:SIZE, a large topic can span several article pages, including articles and lists; these additional pages are not new topics of themselves. "articles" and "topics" are two very different concepts on WP. --MASEM (t) 00:21, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Beautiful. It only took a few days roughly 10,000 words to circle back to square one. Now that's what I call progress. Thank you, Gavin, you've been a big help on getting us this far. - Norse Am Legend (talk) 07:27, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
In answer to Masem and Jinnai, I think you will find that there is never justification for arbitrarity spinning out articles on their own without some form of external validation. For example, if a TV episode or a season of TV episodes is not notable in its own right, there is no benefit from dumping non-notable topics into a list.
Although Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia, that does not mean that WP:AVOIDSPLIT or WP:UNDUE can be ignored. I think your attempts at infer that lists don't need to be the subject of content policy (because "they are not articles") nor inclusion policy ("they are not topics") is not supported in any policy or guideline; some external validation is need to demonstrate that a list topic is indiscriminate and its content is not original research; that can be achieved quite easily, either by citing a source for a definition (in which case editors are free to determine the article title) or citing a source for its title (such as the title of a published list). --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 08:14, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Of course there are spinouts that don't work, and there are ways of creating (intentionally or not) spinouts that would be considered their own topic. But when and why those are good and bad is up to consensus. As soon as we have to deal with SIZE, we have to deal with the concept of spinouts, otherwise, we are arbitrarily limiting coverage to 100k of text for any single topic. Lists work well regardless of their content as in general, they are usually details that are unnecessary to a core understanding of a topic but encyclopedic/alamanac/other reference source-like information to have, and usually can be brought out of the main topic without impacting its understand while making a page that can be read for a more detailed view on its own. We still have guidance to avoid indiscriminate coverage by lists - something that is very difficult to define through policy and guidelines, but it is there. But beyond that, there is zero requirement to create our spinouts based on external sources. Content still needs verification and to meet other content policies, but not the organization of content. --MASEM (t) 11:52, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
As far as I am aware, Wikipedia policies and guidelines don't say any of the following:
  1. Lists are not articles;
  2. Lists are not topics;
  3. Lists work well regardless of their content;
  4. There is zero requirement to create our spinouts based on external sources;
  5. Lists don't need verification for the organization of content.
I would suggest that these views are purely Masem's personal opinions. At this point, I can't say for sure if they are valid or not, but it's good that Masem brings them out into the open, so we can discuss them.
My own view is that they are not supported by any policy or guideline, but I am curious to know why Masem thinks why they are. Hopefully there will some sort of principle reated to content why they should other than WP:CONSENSUS, WP:SIZE and (that old reliable) WP:IAR, because I don't see how it would be possible resolve any content dispute without at least one. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 13:10, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Can you prove the negative of those are supported by policy or guideline? eg "Lists are articles", etc.? The fact is, lists are not well qualified beyond WP:SAL, and even that doesn't negate any of the above statements. The thing is, all of these read like common sense results as long as you recognize that WP is built on consensus and subjective - and thus debatable and contestable - decisions. You may want objectivity, but you are not going to find that through WP's policies and guidelines. As long as consensus agrees that a list definition is suitable for WP - despite what apparent policies and guidelines it may fail - it will be acceptable per IAR. --MASEM (t) 22:53, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Why would I want to prove the negative of statements that are purely your opinion? I don't know where your opinions come from, so I have no chance of finding the antithesis to what are effectively random statements. I do know the following does come from existing policies and guidelines:
  1. WP:LISTS#List articles: List articles are encyclopedia pages consisting of a lead section followed by a list; Stand-alone lists should always include a lead section just as other articles do.
  2. WP:LISTS#List naming: the precise inclusion criterion of the list should be spelled out in the lead section (see below), not the title;
  3. WP:LISTS#Content The contents of an article that is a stand-alone list should be clear. If the title does not already clarify what the list includes, then the list's lead section should do so. Don't leave readers confused over the list's inclusion criteria or have editors guessing what may be added to the list;
  4. WP:LISTS#Listed items: Inclusion of material on a list should be based on what reliable sources say, not on what the editor interprets the source to be saying;
  5. WP:LISTS#Listed items: Lists, whether they are embedded lists or stand-alone lists, are encyclopedic content as are paragraphs and articles, and they are equally subject to Wikipedia's content policies such as Verifiability, No original research, Neutral point of view, and others.
I think it is pretty clear, if not common sense, that lists have to verifiable. Whilst the potential for creating lists is infinite, and the number of possible lists is limited only by our collective imagination, that does not mean that editors have carte blanche to engage in original research by making up poorly defined list topics that cannot be externally validated. If they did, then editors would have licence to create unverifiable and nonsensical list topics.
Whilst I can see where Masem is comming from ("the creation of lists should be based on consensus"), it is difficult to understand what the consensus is, and how that might be the same as or different from Masem's own personal views, if it is not codified. As far as I can see, our existing policies and guidelines are the consensus, and they are clear what is and is not allowable in terms of list topics. I think it is pretty clear that lists have to be defined (even if only by their title), and that their defintion has to be verifiable, else how could you distinguish one list topic from another? --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 08:28, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
There is zero support for your statement that list definitions require a verifiable support, or your other points above, with what you state above. They also neither assert that a list definition can be based on consensus (eg the statement you state I'm tryign to saying) - effectively the policies and the list are mum on all those points. They certainly say that list content needs to be verifiable, but not how they are organized. But advice for organization is very unclear and thus we have to turn to consensus. Again, this is turning into the same argument as the climate change naming issue, which consensus won out on over your objections about a "not a verifiable topic name". --MASEM (t) 11:50, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
If a list definition does not have to be verifiable, does that mean that original research is permissible for list topics? How is it be possible to distinguish bona fide list topics from those that are wholly novel or unpublished original research? Generally speaking, this question is not determined by consensus alone, but by a consensus of editors who have evaluated the evidence in the form of reliable sources. Its a subtle distinction, but personal opinion need to be backed up by evidence in Wikipedia; hearsay and bald statements of opinion are not accepted. If there is another mechanism for identifying what is not original research, please enlighten me.
A good example is the List of Star Wars races (A–E), which has no definition, is a synthesis of various sources (films, books and games) and whose content is more or less entirely comprised of original research. The fact the races are not "races" at all (they are in fact Fantasy races of fictional characters) suggests to me that the list title was dreamed up rather than externally validated, and the fact that many of characters in the list never appeared in Star Wars at all is probably a good indicator that this is original research. The clincher for me is that this list has not been published elsewhere (except perhaps Wookiepedia) indicates that the whole rationale of this list is original research (although I can't prove this), as well as failing WP:NOT#DIR. Pretending that this list is not made up when there is no evidence to support the view is not a validation of Masem's views. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 15:55, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
OR is perfectly fine for the definition of a list topic, just not it's contents. And consensus is there to determine if it is too far off what we'd accept for OR. Simple. --MASEM (t) 23:03, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
Believe what you will, but a list that does not cite any reliable, third party sources in accordance with WP:BURDEN has no external validation to provide a rationale for inclusion as a standalone list article, because it fails WP:NOT#DIR, and has no defence against deletion under WP:CSD#A7. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 08:32, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
You still need sources to verify the content of the list to make sure it meets the definition, there's no question about that. They don't need to be third-party if it is a supporting list. But at the same time, if the definition has been poorly chosen by OR such that showing an element belongs to a list is likely going to be contested, then third-party sources are need as to provide support for "any material challenged or likely to be challenged". Example: a list of characters of a work can be sourced to the primary work without an issue, because asserting a character is part of a work is a non-contestable aspect. On the other hand, as per that example of KND Villains, using "villain" to classifying characters (if not readily apparent on the show) is one that can be contested, and thus would need external sources for. Because I very much doubt there will external sources for the show that will validate characters as villains, this is a bad list definition for this purpose - it is too arbitrary and indefinite. To contrast, the list List of commercial failures in video gaming is one that you are likely not going to find spelled out in any source, but the term "commercial failure" for video games is thrown around a lot; thus, this list is built with the inclusion requirement of at least reliable external source asserting that the entry is/was a failure. The list definition is OR, but is built from external sources - that avoids the indiscriminate nature of a bad list definition built by OR. --MASEM (t) 12:04, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
I don't buy into Masem's methodology, for there is almost infinite number of novel or unpublished lists that editors can be create that are either subsets or compliments using the same list elements. The only way to distinguish between list topics that are in some way notable and those that fail WP:NOT#DIR is some form of external validation; this provides a rationale for inclusion in accordance with WP:BURDEN (e.g.List of federal judges appointed by George W. Bush) , evidence that all significant views have been represented (e.g. not "List of political blunders by George W. Bush"), or that the list is not the subject of original research (e.g. not "List of golf courses played by George W. Bush" nor "List of family relatives of George W. Bush").
I think what Masem is trying to argue is that some lists are OK if they have consensus, and some are not if they don't, but either way there is no need to obtain external validation for these decsions. The problem is, without some form external validation (such as weak test for notability), what evidence is there to defend a list from deletion under WP:CSD#A7?--Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 14:56, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
Please learn to accept good faith. The fact that there are an infinite possibilities for possible lists if we allow the definition to be based on original does not make the idea bad, as we need to assume users will consider all other aspects. If there is a case where too many lists of a similar type are being made that are against other policies or guidelines, we can then step in and create advice towards that (which is already in WP:NOT, such as no business directories or the like). But you're wanted to assume bad faith before the list is even created which does not work on WP.--MASEM (t) 22:46, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
In fairness the inclusion criteria for lists has nothing to do with good or bad faith on my part or any other editor, so lets stick to the topic in hand. If the content of a list has to be verifiable, then it makes perfect sense that citing sources for the list defintion (or its title, in the absence of a defintion) are also a requirement. Arguing that list topics don't have cite their sources seems to me to be half-baked idea. I am not convinced that "ignore all the rules and assume good faith" is the right approach, as its not really clear what this means in terms of the inclusion of list topics in Wikipedia. If I set out what believe to be right approach, and my reasons for doing so, then not only I am acting in good faith, but I am being open and honest as well. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 08:19, 1 April 2010 (UTC)

External validation

Gavin, I'm trying to get a handle on how much the format matters to you. So imagine some Famously Complicated Chemical Reaction (FCCR). Hundreds of sources discuss the dozens of steps in the chemical reaction. A hundred different chemical entities are involved.

We'll say that FCCR was a great source of theses topics for a decade, so the role of each and every chemical involved is discussed ad nauseum in sources. By looking at the existing sources, it would be trivial to compile a complete and multiply sourced list of every single chemical involved in FCCR, and even to sort that list alphabetically, by atomic weight, by moles used in the FCCR, or by the order in which it is encountered in the reaction.

However, we (the Wikipedia editors) find no external sources that actually lists them all: Every single source discusses the chemicals in paragraph after paragraph of tedious prose. None of the sources bothered to format the information about the chemicals in FCCR into a proper list.

In your opinion, would making an alphabetical list of the chemicals involved in FCCR violate Wikipedia's current WP:No original research policy? WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:37, 1 April 2010 (UTC)

I only have a rudimentary understanding of chemistry, but a recent BBC documentary, "The Order of the Elements" opened my eyes to the importance of lists, the order of their content, their provenance and the ideas that define them. The 19th century chemists, such as Mendeleev who struggled to impose an order on the apparently random world of the elements built on the work that had been published before them, and published their own research until the Periodic table was developed. It seems to me that Wikipedia could learn a lot from their struggles: we can build an encyclopedia on verifiable published lists that readers can use and rely on, or we can fill it with original research that satifies the whims of our editors. I know which approach I prefer. What say you? --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 08:33, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
I say that you haven't answered my question.
Every single bit of information in my hypothetical scenario is verifiable. Every single bit is tightly related to the subject. The only difference is that the sources say:

"The initial substrates is foo, which is converted to bar and then quickly baz. An enzymatic reaction produces qux, quux, and corge in sequence. Grault is produced through the action of light, followed by heat-sensitive garply, waldo, fred, plugh, xyzzy, and finally thud."

and the Wikipedia page, which would be titled "List of substrates", would type the information this way:
In your opinion, is converting the sources' sentences into a simple list a violation of WP:Original research? WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:53, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
Although your list seems to mirror the source, I would suggest it is original research in the sense that the list strips the source from its context. Lets say that your hypothetical scenario is taken from a scientific paper that describes an experiment or a manufacturing process. What is the point of creating a list of all of the elements if the context of the experiment is omitted? Or to give you another example, what is the point of a listing all the ingredients of cornflakes, if no reader can understand their significance or how or why those ingredients are mixed together? The answer to this question can only be provided by some form of externally validated rationale for doing so, not editorial whim.
It seems to me that stripping a source of its context is as much original research as inventing coverage to provide additional context. My view that lists are only truly useful if they have a verifiable definition, or failing that, a verifiable title that can act as a default definition. If they don't, there is not rationale for their inclusion in Wikipedia, as they are just random stuff that provides no context to the reader. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 23:07, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
Again: In your opinion, is this "original research in the sense that..." a violation of WP:No original research?
If so, would it stop being a violation if the list were re-drafted as a sentence, like this: "The chemicals involved in the FCCR are foo, bar, baz, qux, quux, corge, grault, garply, waldo, fred, plugh, xyzzy, thud"? WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:05, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Of course, because the list provides no context such as proportion, temperature, reaction time, reaction order, reaction environment etc. that might be considered significant (I am guessing here) that would come with a published list which was created to provide such context. There is no rationale for inclusion for this list, because the list's definition, purpose and meaning is known only to yourself. Just like "List of substrates (A-F)", "List of volatile substrates" or "List of substrates by atomic weight", there is no limit to number of lists you could create from these list elements using criteria based on subjective importance. In practise, I would guess that most unverifiable lists are created in this way, but some may be created on the basis that some form of verification may appear at some point in the future. Until it is verified, its just a random jumble of stuff. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 18:17, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for your enlightening reply. I interpret your reply as saying:
  1. You think that making a bulleted list of the chemicals would violate WP:NOR.
  2. You think that presenting exactly the same information in simple sentence -- the only difference being that the editor types a comma between items instead of an asterisk (bullet list formatting) -- would eliminate any violation of NOR.
I do not believe that the community agrees with your view. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:47, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I suspect Gavin might argue that the context of the second offers an important and mitigating inflection to the question of OR that is not present in a stripped out list. Eusebeus (talk) 19:55, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

What context? The only difference is the punctuation. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:41, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
This is a point I've tried to point out several time. If we had no WP:SIZE limit, of course most of the lists we currently break out would be included in the main article. However, for usability, we have decided to enforce size - that means things will be broken out of the article, and this is outlined by thinking in summary style approach, leaving the most general details within the main article and the specifics to the split out articles (which are often lists that aren't needed to understand the concept in general). End of the day the same information is in WP, but in a different format. Now of course there are bad ways to break out this information, or breaking it out too prematurely, or breaking out indiscriminate elements, or even including information that would be considered indiscriminate in the first place. But how that is broken out is based on how we have set our WP policies and guidelines, and that means that broken-out lists are subject to appropriate OR to make sure the best breakout is selected. --MASEM (t) 20:08, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
If I understand WhatamIdoing correctly, he thinks that extracting a list of elements from a scientific paper, rearranging them in a list that is entirely novel or unpublished is acceptable, so long as rules of punctuation are observed. Masem thinks it alright to then split this list if the list size is too big, but not if the split is in someway "bad", "premature" or may be "indiscriminate".
This approach brings to mind the analogy provided by the Infinite monkey theorem: that if editors slice and dice enough elements into enough lists, then eventually some useful information will be arrived at.
Yet I have my doubts. It seems to me that useful information has been transmitted to us through the ages in the form of articles and lists whose definition, purpose and meaning are verifiable, while unverifiable stuff is discarded.
It seems to me that if unverifiable list topics are allowable, then we should be honest and warn readers that these lists are original research, rather than published scientific research.--Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 21:57, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
What do you mean, "unverifiable" and "not published scientific research"? My hypothetical example is taken directly from (multiple) scientific sources, which present the names of the chemicals in exactly the same order. I've summarized it (as encyclopedia editors are supposed to do) and typed it with bullet points instead of commas.
If your position is that exactly the same chemicals, in exactly the same order, using exactly the same words, is acceptable in a comma-separated sentence, but not in a bullet-style list, then I believe that you have substantially departed from the community's consensus.
Furthermore, I believe that if you went to the Village Pump and said: "I believe that "The chemicals involved are: foo, bar, and baz" is okay, but if you type it "The chemicals involved are: * foo * bar *baz" it's not", you'd actually have editors laughing at their computer screens. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:07, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

WhatamIDoing's original question posits that every chemical involved is discussed ad nauseum in sources. Wikipedia should then be covering every chemical so discussed. The list is then justified as a navigation aid to existing content. I can't easily fault Gavin's position, nor find serious challenge to mine: A list is (1), independently notable based on verifiable objective evidence; (2) justifiable as a navigation aid (or content summary) of existing Wikipedia content; or (3) does not belong (WP:NOT#DIR) or should be prosified. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:37, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

I would have to question SmokeyJoe's view that lists based on original research are justifiable if they act as navigation aids. Whether a list is useful or not is just another measure of subjective importance, and as such, is not a valid criteria for the inclusion of list topics. For me, a list is an article topic similar to a Set (mathematics), in that it is a collection of distinct objects, considered as an object in its own right. A list can be defined by:
  1. an intensional definition, e.g. "This is a list of substrates..." which is an explicit definition; or
  2. an extensional definition, in which the elements of the list are implicitly judged as meeting the criteria made explicit by the list title.
I am probably going into too much detail here, but the point I am trying to explain is that either way, a list is a topic, whether its definition is implicit or explicit, and this definition originates from either an external source that can be verified or has been invented by an editor for their own purposes.
Why WhatamIdoing would want to create a novel or unpublished list, such as "List of substrates by atomic circumference" is not clear - maybe to prove that he is a creative editor, which is understandable in a way. By contrast, Masem is very keen on lists based on original research, since they can be used a dumping ground for elements of fiction that are not notable in their own right, and these lists can be filled to the brim with nothing but plot summary. The thinking behind this is that plot summary only content that contravenes WP:PLOT is allowable if it is contained in a list, rather than in article, which is entirely erroneous in my view.
The bottom line for is that lists topics based that are original or novel in the sense that they cannot be externally validated is original research, and is not allowable. The consequences of allowing such lists is that we end up with WP:Listcruft in the form of List of Star Wars races (A–E), or list articles without any rationale for inclusion such as List of basic geography topics. I just don't see the point of it all from an encyclopaedic perspective, but maybe that is just me. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 10:15, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
You are starting from the assumption that a list is new topic. That is not what consensus seems to say. There are some lists that are topics on their own, but most lists are otherwise support for a larger topic. --MASEM (t) 13:33, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

I do not support lists based on original research, but I do not know of such a list. Please do not confuse "original research" with "research". I do not think it likely that any page that serves primarily as a navigation aid would be original research.

A navigation aid will be based on existing content. It is little more a content summary designed to be helpful to the readership, to help them find the real information that they are looking for. I think that a navigtion aid is not subject to WP:N.

If there is an article, or at least a section, devoted to most of the races of Star Wars, then I think it more than reasonable to have a page listing the races of Star Wars and linking to the page/section with information about the race. It is reasonable to have a small number of non-notable races in the list, for completeness sake, and to have redlinks where such articles are reaonably desired.

List_of_Star_Wars_races_(A–E) I find dubious. This is not a list for navigtional purposes, because for most races, the information is not presented elsewhere. I would ask for this list to be independently notable. Bad signs include: No introduction; the content is in-universe; there is not commentary or similar about the races, as would be found in a secondary source; the page in its entirety feels like a Star Wars derivative work, and is thus deletable as a copyright infringement. (I do not recommend testing this at AfD, but urge interested contributors to read and comply with WP:WAF).

An example of a list that is justified as a navigational aid is List of record labels. Such a navitagitonal aid does not have the significant material in the list. You have to navigate elsewhere to find the significant material. I do not think that such lists need to be externally validated. It is enough that the information is elsewhere in mainspace, in proper articles that are policy compliant. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 13:39, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

Gavin, I really don't understand why you think that my "list of chemicals" is not a proper set (it is [exactly] "the set of chemicals involved in this reaction"). I do not understand why you think "the set of chemicals involved in this reaction, as named, defined, and described by multiple sources, which multiply confirm that each item belongs in this set" is a made-up, unverifiable, non-source-based set. Note that I do not decide what belongs in the set: the sources decided what belongs in the set. All I did was type out the simplest description of the set -- using the format of a bulleted list, rather than the declarative sentences that the sources used.
You seem to be saying that it would be entirely okay to name each member of the set in a declarative sentence -- that is, if I type commas between the items -- but not to name each member of the set if I type bullets between the items, even though it is exactly the same information.
Does the converse also hold true? If the source names the symptoms for influenza in a bulleted list, would you prohibit editors at Influenza from typing them out in prose? WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:54, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
This is to SmokeyJoe on the Star Wars races list. First of all, let's take care of the derivative work idea. Per the sourced text from derivative work, "A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”." Now, when we at WP create plot summaries or other aspects, we are not performing anything that creates what otherwise would be "an original work of authorship". (If this was the case, any type of summary - not just plot, but for science, historical, and political articles - would be a problem) Summary without synthesis is not creating a new work, and thus normally a good plot summary would not be a problem. When the plot summary becomes expansive or detailed or starts including synthesis, then we run into problems with derivative works. This is not to say that the list of Star Wars races is not perfectly free of this issue, but it's a separate issue not relating to lists.
As to the nature of the list itself, I'm not saying it is a good example. Too much of it is written from a fan's point of few. And there's races that only appear once or the like, and this from side media (like the novels). It is, effectively, an indiscriminate collection of elements. But there is a reasonable selective grouping of "Races of Star Wars" which can be written in an encyclopedic manner that would be attached to a topic about the Star Wars franchise, enough to establish the major races (eg, Ewoks, Hutt, etc.) that are cited in reviews and other sources about the overall universe. Discrimination is necessary to make this list better. But it does not need to be notable because it is a supporting element of Star Wars, which is way to big to include this per SIZE and per SS; again, lists are not necessary new topics, and thus issues like PLOT and Notability do not apply to these specific lists (those are important to the overall topic coverage, and if our Star Wars coverage was only plot stuff over multiple pages, that would be a problem for sure). --MASEM (t) 17:14, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
Masem, I don't think you've at all taken care of the derivative work issue. If the material comes entirely from the copyright material, even if indirectly, then it is a derivative work. Some transformation is required to prevent a work from being a derivative work. But I agree that it is a separate issues to lists, and I think we agree that the derivative work issue is treated by an application of WP:WAF.
As for spinouts, supporting elements, and specialist interests, I agree with Gavin that lists are not good spinout candidates. Lists are weak material. If you cannot make a clear case on how they support a main article, or on who has a special interest in them, then they are just the weakest part of an overly large article. To see how a list is supporting a main article, I would expect to see the main article making multiple references to the list. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:59, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
While a separate issue on derivative works, going by your account, most of WP is a derivative work because we are using copyrighted works in summary to create our articles. If you look at the aims of US law towards derivative works, it is for new artistic expressions based on existing copyrights; it is hard to state that WP is going for artistic expression here (though again, some people will write towards that type of approach). Because derivative works are a questionable copyright area, we are hard pressed to enforce against it, at least until Mike Godwin or the Foundation says to nix them. (I am aware that at least one fiction guide for Harry Potter was considered too much a derivative work by a court, but again, we cannot let copyright scare us). Outright copyvios and plagarism, yes, we need to deal with immediately, but appropriate summary within WAF is not going to be a problem.
I disagree that a supporting list would need to be extensively referenced in the main article; in fact that would be a bad spinout in that case as the main article should be able to stand alone in terms of understanding and readiability. If the list is so much in support that the main article ref'ed it many times, that list probably should be the in main article to begin with. Instead, per WP:SPINOUT, materials that are part of the topic but less critical to general understanding of it should be broken out - these more than likely are elements that the main article will summarize sufficient and allude to but will no require understanding to understand the rest of the main article. This may mean the material is not directly notable, (though it could qualify under your "navigation links" example) but is still supporting the overall main article topic. This is necessary as long as SIZE is a requirement for articles.
There is a third aspect here, which is specific for fiction which is exactly to what degree we cover the fictional aspect of a work. It is not a question that has been sufficiently answered by consensus of any form - only that we know highly detailed coverage is unwarranted, while no coverage is not warranted. How a list of Star Wars races would fall into that is an unknown quantity right now. Which is why non-notable lists are a very touchy subject and evidence suggests it is better to encourage better writing, avoiding indiscriminate inclusion, better sourcing, and a bunch more, than deletion of these lists, otherwise that will ignite the inclusionist/deletionists war over this. --MASEM (t) 23:22, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
Masem and myself have discussed this at length at WT:FICT, and it is my view that treating lists of fictional elements (such as characters) as simply a size issue is disingenuous, since it ignores the fact that giving undue weight to non-notable elements rather than the notable work is an example of not being able to see the wood for the trees. The various lists such as List of Star Wars races (A–E) demonstrate this: the proportion of coverage given over to the non-notable elements exceeds the coverage of the notable film by a factor at least 50:1 and no amount of trying to rationalise this based on size provide any rationale for the creation of these lists. Dumping stuff into lists has only come about because it is impossible to prove that their existence conflicts with WP:UNDUE, or that they fail WP:NOT#DIR, let alone the fact that they are novel or unpublished list topics that are born out of original research. I think this is one of the first threads in which list topics without external validation have been challenged; up to now, editors like Masem would argue that lists are not topics that there is no need for externalvalidation, hence the argument that they can be created to increase the reader's understanding (which is the another spin on WP:IKNOWIT). --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 23:31, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
Star Wars is a "franchise" with at least 6 movies, numerous video games, numerous published novels and comic books, and the like (at minimum, I count 19 separate works). It is ingenious to call out UNDUE here, because no way 19 works, their fictional aspects, their development aspects, and their reception aspects can be covered in one 100k article. This is exactly the case where SIZE and SPINOUT are needed. This is not to say the present list is perfect as I admit it needs better descrimination and trimming. But I can say it is the type of list that can be sourced by individually sourcing each item as a qualified "race in Star Wars" (and I suspect a good number from third-party sources.) --MASEM (t) 00:05, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
The problem is, there are no third-party source to validate these list topics as being suitable for inclusion as standalone list articles, in fact most of the List of Star Wars races (A–E) is completely unverifiable. Finding sources in order to provide attribution for original research is an impossible task, equivalent to looking for a pin in a haystack, armed only with the knowledge that the pin might not even exist.
I think the lack of verifiability of these list topics is the central problem. In WhatamIdoing's example of the "List of substrates", the source of data is verifiable, but the rationale for extracting the raw data from scientific paper has not been verified. If the authors of a scientific paper did not think it important or necessary to extract the data themselves and publish a "List of substrates", then what rationale is their for Wikipedia to include such a list? None.
It seems to me that there are many lists without an externally validated rationale in Wikipedia which can be used as a dump for content that fails WP:NOT. Lots of excuses based on WP:ATA are used to justify their existence:
  1. SmokeyJoe: they are useful navigational tools (a.k.a. WP:ITSUSEFUL);
  2. WhatamIdoing: its content can be verified (a.k.a. WP:BUTITEXISTS);
  3. Masem: there is good number of third-party sources (a.k.a. WP:ATA#CRYSTAL)
I would conclude that it is not possible to prove that an unverifiable list is original research; I acknowledge this to be a major stumbling block, and I think it is the reason why several editors believe there is no evidence to support my arguments. However, I think that the burden of proving that a list topic is not original research remains with its creators and contributors. If a list topic does not provide even a weak form of notability (e.g. WP:GNG minus "significant coverge"), then there is no rationale for inclusion of that list topic as a standalone list in Wikipedia. I don't see why unverifiable topics should be allowed, just because they come in list form. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 08:41, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Gavin, do you disagree that navigation is an important thing? The relevant page for navigation iads is WP:CLS, not the one you point me to. Do you disagree that List of record labels is well justified as a navigation aid, regardless of external validation? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 11:39, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Gavin, I'm responding to your "not possible to prove that an unverifiable list is original research" statement.

This is my major point: You cannot prove that such a list violates WP:NOR because it doesn't.

Whether such a list should be included in the encyclopedia is a completely separate issue. Such a list could simultaneously comply with WP:NOR and fail to be notable. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:14, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

In answer to SmokeyJoe, whether a list is a good navigational aid or not is a matter of opinion, and without external validation, this could be used as an excuse for low quality content, which is why, for instance WP:ITSUSEFUL is considered an unacceptable argument in deletion debates.
With regard to List of record labels, I can only speculate about the methodology that was employed to create this list. I have a major problem with such lists: if they are not externally sourced, its really not possible to rely on it. It could contain promotional content, or "record" companies that are nothing of the sort and are just fishing for business. For me, external validation marks the boundry between reliable sourced list that can be verfiied, as opposed to lists whose quality is questionable to the say the least and whose "usefulness" is diminished as a result.
In answer to WhatamIdoing, its hard to accept your bald statement that "You cannot prove that such a list violates WP:NOR because it doesn't" at face value, because everything in Wikipedia needs to be verifiable information published in reliable sources before an article can even be considered for inclusion, otherwise it could be considered original research. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 08:28, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
WP:ITSUSEFUL can absolutely be a valid argument in the correct circumstances. If you read the entire section, it says "An argument based on usefulness can be valid if put in context. For example, "This list brings together related topics in X and is useful for navigating that subject."" Sjakkalle (Check!) 14:06, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
That's absolutely true; but Gavin's point is correct that lists are often used as mechanisms for circumventing our standard policies and practices with respect to notability and sourcing and the ITSUSEFUL he cites is not with respect to ease of navigation amongst items that independently satisfy these criteria. Eusebeus (talk) 15:00, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
The point that needs to be made is that there are clearly lists that 1) are in support of a larger topic or a notable concept themselves and 2) can only be built by showing external validation of the source to the list definition. One example: LGBT Literature is a notable topic, and it would make sense to include a list of works that are considered to LGBT literature; we do have, for example List of lesbian literature. Now, I am not saying that these examples are perfect (in their present state, as well as possibly being too broad/indiscriminate a definition as it is), but the concept is there. You are not going to find one single source to list out every single published work that has been established as fitting this category; you may get some summary lists, but more than likely you're going to have one third-party source per entry to establish the claim of the work belonging to the list, but it is still appropriate. The claim that this is original research is not valid here, because this is the type of original research we would allow within the context of summarizing a topic; we are not creating original research of a new field called "LGBT literature" because that already exists, we are simply taking our best shot as providing material that belongs to that field from other sources. --MASEM (t) 15:29, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
How do you know if a list has been created "in support of a larger topic"? Only if evidence is provided. The claim that this is original research is never valid as Masem says, as it no editor can prove that a list topic is original research. But if it is a bona fide topic worthy of inclusion, then surely if some sort of external validation is need to show that an article topic is encyclopaedic, then surely the same applies to the list topics? If Masem is arguing that they both the article and the list come from the same "field", then surely there must be a source somewhere in the grass, the hedge or hidden in a cowpat that demonstrates this is the case? --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 21:58, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
You are saying that "LGBT Literature" and "List of LGBT Literature" are not the same topic?? --MASEM (t) 22:21, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
More importantly, you are basically ignoring common sense, and want everything to be objective and externally sourced. That would be a great standard if we were a professional work, but that's not the case here; it is a community driven work that makes no claims of professionalism (we even state in the disclaims that WP's reliability is up to the reader). The demand that sources drive everything is overly restrictive to the idea of community standards and certainly doesn't agree with consensus (there's even a present push-back against "every sentence must be sourced" concept that has plagued this recently.) We still want verifiable information, but how we present it is a community standard. --MASEM (t) 22:30, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Gavin's idea of requiring external validation is not so bad, but it goes too far. Sufficient validation should be: (1) actual navigational benefit (blue links); (2) explicit reference from the main article; or (3) some external validation in secondary sources, even if not independent.
Internal (within wikipedia) validation should be sufficient in cases. Whether something is a good navigational aid can be gauged in the first instance by the density of blue links. A navigational aid is not a repoitory of significant material, the material is located beyond the blue links. If that material is of low quality, it gets deleted where it is located, and the blue link turns red. When it comes to details, common sense will be required. Where a list is properly spun out, I think validation can be present in the main article. If validation is not provided by genuinely useful bluelinks, or from the main article, then yes, external validation should be required. But if the topic os obviously part of a wider topic of unquestionable wikipedia-notability, then this validation need not be quite to the standard of the WP:GNG, I don't think every spinout should have to remake the case that the topic is supported by independent sources. Once a topic becomes huge, ike Star Wars, subtopics are not being created for promotion, or by WP:COI editors, so we can relax a bit. If there is no super notable main topic, then this external valiadation defaults to WP:N. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:53, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

I don't disagree with this. Ideally, all articles (and thus lists that are otherwise notable in of themselves) would only be split once critical mass per SIZE was reached, and all other attempts to trim content back were attempted. The problem is that newer editors love to create lists to start when there's zero need to do so, which leads to some problematic topics. The top-down approach always works better to achieve better creation of spinouts than the bottom up. Is this a reason to demand strong validation of list definitions, in order to prevent bottoms-up creation? Heck no. There is a common sense balance here. --MASEM (t) 23:06, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
This is not a "balance" issue, this is a key pillar of Wikipedia: that every topic has external validation. If "LGBT Literature" and "List of LGBT Literature" are the same, then lets see the sources that say it is. If they are in the same "field", as Masem puts it, then surely they will be defined as such by an external source.
I think the key issue here is that a source cited in one article cannot be deemed to apply to another entirely seperate and distinct article or list. If there are no sources cited in the "List of LGBT Literature", that does not mean that the sources cited elsewhere apply to that list. To provide a rationale for a standalone article or list, the sources have to be cited in the article or list directly. Sources cited in one article don't apply to all the others in the same "field".
I think there is a general misconception that most mainstream list are verfiable, rather than verfied, such that even if they don't comply with Wikipedia's content policies at this time, then surely they can in the future per WP:ATA#Crystal. However, I agree with Eusebeus point, these sort of excuses are merely a mechanism for ignoring or circumventing our standard policies and practices with respect to notability and sourcing. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 09:13, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Changing the community's view

I don't think that this discussion should be continued. Gavin, I realize that you hold your views very strongly, but the fact is that the community disagrees. The lists you would like to see prohibited are routinely accepted at AFD; your claims of policy violations are almost never accepted. At some level, what the community most often does at AfD is the definition of notability (because this is a descriptive, not prescriptive, page).

You're not going to change the community's view by presenting arguments here, especially with arguments like '___ is verifiable, but if you type it out as a list, then you have to produce a reliable source that also types ____ out as a list, because your punctuation has to be verifiable, too.' I'm sure we all have more productive things to do. Shall we go do those things now? WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:56, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

Feel free to drop out of this disussion about the inclusion criteria for lists if you feel this is not productive. Contrary to what you think my motivation is, I am actually seeking to find a set of inclusion crtieria that would provide the perfect defence against deletion or merger WP:AFD and to clarify the rules rather than to prohibit lists. There are already a lot of prohibitions in WP:NOT to delete most unverifiable lists, so there is no point to rehash that policy here.
Rather my concern is trying to identifiy those lists that possess a valid rationale for inclusion. My view is that if a list can meet "WP:GNG minus significant coverage", that is probably a knockout defence against any deletion proposal. However, guidelines such as WP:CLS nor WP:STAND don't provide any guidance on inclusion criteria at all, yet it is clear that lists are being deleted on the grounds that they are unsuitable for inclusion all the time. A quick examination of Wikipedia:WikiProject Deletion sorting/Lists shows that upwards of a dozen lists are the subject of deletion debates at any one time, and if anything, this number is growing. Recognising that so much effort is going into the creation of lists, while at the same time many of them are being deleted, it seems to me that the issues we have discussed here are important as they come up for debate frequently.
I don't think there is a clear or shared understanding of how lists fit in with Wikipedia content policies, and so it is impossible to agree on what is or is not the community's view on which lists are suitable for inclusion, and those that are not. If this discussion is overly long, then I appologise, but I think it is high time there should be some clarity on these issues. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 08:18, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
Most lists I see seem to be very drafty ideas for expansion of content. It is generally a reasonable method to begin writing with content in point form. Most of the problematic articles in fiction seem to most immediately require an application of WP:WAF. The application of WP:WAF can be slow. While it happened all in a rush for Albus Dumbledore, an article which in an early state was even listed for deletion, progress has been slow and steady for Galadriel. The WP:WAF applications are, however, directional, and this is very satisfying for the eventualist in me. So, I am content that many of these drafty lists will eventually be improved, remodelled or removed, and I do not think it is so useful to classify them now binomially as acceptable/unacceptable. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 13:02, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
Even if I don't agree with SJoe's exact view on lists, the AGF/IMPERFECT/DEADLINE approach combined with appropriate content policies (WAF specific for fiction, but other policies apply) are much much better methods of dealing with lists than trying to determine if they should be deleted on sight or not. If the list clearly is indiscriminate with a definition that has no hope of being fixed, then AFD makes sense, but in other cases fixing is possible, even if this means the list is trimmed to the point where it is simply included in another article. --MASEM (t) 13:29, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't subscribe to the "we must preserve listcruft" school of thought. Rather I see Wikipedia moving away from the "any old rubbish will do" to a more mature view in which the verification of list topics will be expected as the minimum threshold for inclusion, rather than the ideal. The transition to the more mature understanding of how lists work as standalone topics will only come about as the guidance on this issue becomes clearer, but labeling some list topics as indiscriminate will slow this transition. The proposal that all list topics should be verfiable a far simpler formula from which to work from: all the other suggested inclusion criteria for list topics seem to involve trying to distinguish between "good" and "bad" lists, but without any reasonable explanation as to how to distinguish the between the two. I am sure that in the early history of the learned societies, such as say, the Royal Society, similar debate raged about which topics should or should be put forward for discussion, in which various inclusion criteria were discussed. I think we should learn from their experience and use Wikipeida's content policies to give priority to published list topics, rather than those that were made up on a whim, like "List of substrates" or "List of methods for turning base elements into gold". Times have changed and so should we. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 10:01, 11 April 2010 (UTC)


About this change:

The previous text said that "Neutral sources are also needed to guarantee a neutral article can be written —self-published sources cannot be assumed neutral; see Wikipedia:Autobiography and Wikipedia:Conflict of interest for discussion of neutrality concerns of such sources. Even non-promotional self-published sources, like technical manuals that accompany a product, are still not evidence of notability as they do not measure the attention a subject has received by the world at large."

I changed the first instance of "neutral" to "independent", on the following grounds:

  • The subject of the section is "Self-promotion and indiscriminate publicity", not "complying with NPOV"
  • The subject of the paragraph is also notability, not NPOV. See, for example, the last sentence.
  • A self-published source can be neutral, but it is never evidence of notability.
  • Even wildly biased sources can be evidence of notability -- if they are independent.
  • Even if all of the independent sources seem wildly biased (from the POV of a given editor), the subject may still be notable. There are, e.g., often no "neutral" or "unbiased" sources about pseudoscience and conspiracy theories: They are all either "pro" or "anti".

I also added a clear and direct statement that self-published sources are not independent, which I suspect everyone here knows and agrees with, but we don't really write this page for the editors who 'already know the answer', and I thought it might be helpful (especially for people who read English as a second language). WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:46, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

Does anyone object if I restore this? WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:36, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
Go for it, "independent" makes more sense. --Explodicle (T/C) 19:39, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
Agree. The section is arguing for independent sources for establishing the threshold of notability. WP:N is not about neutrality. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 21:08, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't see a problem with swapping to "independent" sources. Let NPOV deal with neutrality. --MASEM (t) 21:11, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

Template notation for cites considered to apply toward GNG?

It seems to me that there may be some value in adding a template flag, "notability = yes" or the like, to the standard cite templates, indicating that the citation is considered to apply toward satisfying the General Notability Guideline with respect to the article containing the citation. This would perhaps result in a small icon with explanatory mouseover being added to the cite (in reflist). Editors would then be able to readily see whether citations are asserted to provide notability by coverage under GNG, as opposed to self-published sources used as information on themselves, affiliated sources, what-have-you. Possibly subsequent citations to the same work would not have the flag. Links to topic notability guidelines like WP:WEB, WP:BK could be used instead of "yes" if the cite is considered to satisfy a topic-specific notability guideline rather than GNG. Any thoughts? —chaos5023 (talk) 16:06, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

The idea is a good thought, but I think it's a bit too much bookkeeping that don't help much in the long run. In part, the determination if a work supports notability is still subjective, so this sorta removes this part. Another consideration is that it is not what sources are there, but what coverage in sources are there to determine notability; one source may not directly support notability but in combination with others establishes it. --MASEM (t) 16:40, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
In addition, the editors that know enough to add "notability = yes" would (hopefully!) know the GNG well enough not to create a non-notable article. Most of the non-notable articles are created by new editors, who would not usually have a grasp of effective template use and referencing. Also agree with Masem that it adds bookkeeping. The cite templates are complex enough without additional parameters. —Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 03:50, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Sensible enough; I see how it probably wouldn't be very productive. Thanks for both of your feedback! —chaos5023 (talk) 03:58, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Transcluding MoS

Can editors have a look at Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style#Trial_of_.22core.22_concept. If this is accepted WP:N would be the next in line for this kind of system Gnevin (talk) 15:23, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Notability proposal for reference works.

There is a discussion at Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)#Notability requirements for reference books and other reference materials to develop notability guidelines for reference works. All are asked to contribute. --Fiftytwo thirty (talk) 18:32, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Eric Ely (2nd nomination)

There appears to be a discussion forming around a test case of Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Eric Ely (2nd nomination). The debate centers around WP:BLP1E vs WP:N/WP:RS. If you are interested, feel free to join in.---Balloonman NO! I'm Spartacus! 14:23, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

Best evidence

I propose a small expansion of WP:NRVE:

The best evidence that a subject is worth noticing ("notable") is evidence that multiple, independent reliable sources have already "noticed" it.

I'm thinking that this might become the first sentence of the existing second paragraph.

(N.B. that the word "best" does not mean "only".) WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:36, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

  • We should get away from subjective judgments like "worth noticing". Your heart's in the right place though. We don't judge what is important. Instead, we go to reliable sources to determine if they've found it important. Maybe this should be in the lead. Arskwad (talk) 16:16, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
That's the point of the section that I want to expand.
Wikipedia chose "notability" as its name for "This subject is permitted to have an article" in part because of the term's relationship to notice: Subjects that have received no notice (by reliable sources) do not get articles. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:48, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

Adding something about global vs local coverage

This is based on the discussion about the viability of WP:ATHLETE which raises a fair point: WP:N does not discuss the issue directly of local/region sources verses national/global sources. I realize that footnote 3 covers this to some point, but I think it needs to be made stronger in the line about "sources". I'm not exactly sure what language would needed to be added to do this. --MASEM (t) 15:09, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

I am wary of that. For one thing, some regions have larger populations than some countries. Maurreen (talk) 15:30, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
WP:ORG does something like that: "Evidence of attention by international or national, or at least regional, media is a strong indication of notability." I think that "regional" needs to be on the notable side, for exactly the reason that Maurreen gives. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:02, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
We shouldn't base the idea on population alone. If we said, for example, news that only influence California (regional) as being more important than national news from New Zealand (relative pops of 30M to 4M, respectively) because of population, we're doing a disservice. I would say this: basing notability with coverage that is only off of regional sources will always be a matter of question and a point of debate at AFD, and editors are more strongly encouraged to seek more national sources. We'd also need to be clear how web sources work for this; a web version of a national magazine is still national, but a web version of a local source is still local, even if it can be read nationally. --MASEM (t) 17:25, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

WP:ITSLOCAL comes out strongly against the idea that "only of local interest" is a counter-argument to notability. Jheald (talk) 22:53, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

ITLOCAL is not the same thing. A "local" topic that receives wide, non local coverage (such as a restaurant, monument, person, etc.) is notable; a local subject that is only covered locally is not. This is not to discriminate on the scale of scope of a topic, but of the scale of the scope of the sources for that topic. --MASEM (t) 23:08, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
No. That position is explicitly rejected with the rejection as irrelevant of the proposition "No one from outside this establishment's hometown has ever heard of it or ever will"
Even if "no one from outside this establishment's hometown has ever heard of it or ever will", it may still have significant relevance inside that community.
As the guideline summarises "Notability... is about having the ability to write neutral, verifiable, encyclopedic-style information about them", and "It is not about assigning an elite status to a select group of subjects." Jheald (talk) 23:16, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
I really don't think that's exactly representing the consensus - again, I'm coming from the discussion ATH to here where it is clear, how those in sports project consider this, that minor league or high school players, while covered in local papers, are notable for that. I don't pretend that there are probably local places, only covered by local sources, that have been considered notable for WP, but this are the exception, not the rule, otherwise, we'd have every local place of business and sight-seeing point in here. --MASEM (t) 23:51, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
I am coming from more of a concern about local physical, geographical and cultural signifiers than BLPs. WP gives a community to document what it thinks is relevant about itself, which may not necessarily be anything the wider world has paid attention to. By all means raise the bar for WP:ATH. But not at the expense of significant local landmarks and cultural icons. Jheald (talk) 00:53, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
I can't imagine how something could become a significant "cultural icon" if it is only known in or written about by the residents of a single town (rather than the entire culture), and I think that the relevant definition of "significant" is "something that people who don't live in the same small town as the landmark have heard of".
In many cases, landmarks that receive only local coverage are best handled in an article about the local area or other larger group. For example, I can't really see any reason to have a separate article about each "significant" or "historic" building at my alma mater -- but I see value in having a section, or even an entire article, about the architecture on campus. I don't see any point in individual articles about the various landmarks, city parks, and memorials in that city (none of which would be known to, much less matter to, anyone who hadn't lived in the local area) -- but I see value in having them mentioned in the larger article about the city. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:53, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
To give an example: A couple of years ago, I ran across an article dedicated to a single, small drinking fountain in a city park somewhere in Canada. It was a "memorial" and a "local landmark" -- and IMO it should have been merged into the biography of the person it was erected to honor, not kept as a permastub. (I don't know what happened to the article.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:59, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Consider, for example, Category:Buildings and structures in Bristol, and all its sub-categories. These are not just water fountains. They are a valuable and worthwhile attempt to document the structures which are significant to the community in the city. I think they're worth having, and I don't even live there or have any particular connection with the place. But are they all discussed in national/global sources? Quite likely not. Jheald (talk) 08:47, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Which can certainly be documented in an article about Bristol or Landmarks of Bristol (if the city's article is too long). It is good to document them even if they are only documented by local sources when talking about them in the context of an article about Bristol. The question is whether that's showing enough consideration of discrimination to have separate articles for each of those topics when we have no idea of their non-local aspects for a global encyclopedia. --MASEM (t) 13:51, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
"Wikipedia is an encyclopedia of the entire world, not Woodsville" -- explicitly identified as a FAIL argument at WP:ITSLOCAL. Jheald (talk) 19:09, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
This is a complete misreading of what this is saying. No one is saying that topics of interest of a locality cannot be covered. A single article dedicated to one single local landmark covered by local sources, however, is a problem. Also, do note that ITSLOCAL, like all of that page, is only an essay - it's good advice for what not to say, but its also flexible. --MASEM (t) 20:31, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
  • For the record, I believe that WP:N should be about insuring that we have reasonably in-depth, reliable coverage which shows some third party has found the topic worthly of note. I see no reason why local coverage should be considered less relevant. Issues of ONEVENT and BLP1E sometimes _do_ need to account for local coverage. If the coverage is short-lived and only due to some single event and only local we'd generally not have an article on it. Were the coverage more global we might choose to have an article on it even if it was one event. But for most topics, there is no need for this distinction. Hobit (talk) 19:18, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
  • My sentiments exactly. If reliable secondary sources cover it, it's worthy of an article. A source that specializes in a particular location should be treated no differently than a source that specializes in a particular topic. --Explodicle (T/C) 20:19, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
  • There has to be some filter, because otherwise we can assert that every local politician, many restaurants and businesses, and other things are notable through their coverage at the local level - and to the best I know, we don't have those things. To some extent, there is this filter on WP, but it is not stated anywhere, which is why it needs to be addressed. This is where recongized that WP needs to be discriminate and thus not every single verifyable thing can be included as its own subsequent article. --MASEM (t) 20:31, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
  • What would be so bad about having an article about every local politician, restaurant, and business that has detailed, reliable, independent coverage? I think that would be great. --Explodicle (T/C) 20:36, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
  • It's WP:PAPER rearing its ugly head, in a more pernicious form. Basically, the idea is that in order to look like a "real encyclopedia", Wikipedia must emulate the discriminatory inclusion of past paper encyclopedias, since they established what a "real encyclopedia" looks like. I don't agree. —chaos5023 (talk) 21:17, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
  • It would be entirely indiscriminate. It's also very biased towards urbanalities that actually have local press. It becomes a slippery slope to including every garage band, every building, every person for inclusion; and then from there, as long as the topic only interests a "small" number of people, other topics we tend to exclude now could be included (see, more fictional characters). There is a line somewhere that has been drawn but not spelled out well.
  • Remember, that this is not to exclude local landmarks or figures that gain larger attention - that's fine, but I see a valid argument that local press covering local stories and aspects loses a degree of independence that we need in our sources for notability. --MASEM (t) 20:49, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
  • It would not, in fact, be indiscriminate; it would be discriminate based on the General Notability Guideline. That's rather different. There is no slippery slope established by applying the GNG as written and not adding special cases to it so as to make "local" publications "not count". —chaos5023 (talk) 21:17, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
  • There is a word in the GNG that many people forget: "presumed". Meeting the GNG is not 100% assurance that a topic should have a separate article, for many possible reasons, such as failing WP:NOT, WP:BLP1E, etc. It's also necessary that we're talking about "notable" topics; this is not to mean that a majority of people need to think it notable, but there has to be more than just a handful of people that do. --MASEM (t) 21:22, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Every local politician? there are 22,736 local councilors in the UK, thats 20,000 plus pages, and this does not include any parish councilors who might recive local press coverage. Also would council published magazines count as RS?.Slatersteven (talk) 20:59, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
  • They might be reliable, but they're clearly not independent. So you could source information from them, but they wouldn't establish notability for the council that publishes them, under GNG. —chaos5023 (talk) 21:17, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

The main problem with relying solely on local sources (or highly specialized sources) is that they are often indiscriminate. They serve social functions rather that reporting information.

We go over this point fairly often, so let me give you a concrete example: Almost every single time I visited my grandparents during my childhood, it was reported in the local newspaper (circulation about a few hundred). Shall we now begin the article, [[User:WhatamIdoing's childhood visits to her grandparents]]? I've got (1) multiple (2) independent (3) reliable (4) properly published (5) secondary sources [as GNG uses this term] to cite as sources for the article. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:46, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

That's not multiple sources, it's multiple entries from a single source. If two newspapers both wrote in detail about your visits, then that would pass the GNG and in my eyes be suitable for inclusion. --Explodicle (T/C) 23:09, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Are you sure you want to set that as the standard? Because there probably is a second newspaper (from the next town over, where we had other family members) in that old box of newspaper clippings, and IMO when I went to see my grandparents is not really a proper subject for an encyclopedia article. I wouldn't support an article on that subject for any of the dozens of other people who were reported as going about their normal lives in the same newspaper, and I wouldn't even support such an article for celebrity. [[Prince Harry's visits to his grandparents]] is also not an encyclopedic subject, even though the tabloids have reported sufficient information to create a substantial catalog.
Your standard would also let me write an entire article on most of the weddings that ever took place in that town, since they were very frequently reported, in significant detail, in both the bride's and the groom's hometown newspapers -- and with long-term follow-up that exceeds WP:1E, because wedding anniversaries were also frequently reported, and a re-cap of wedding information is not unusual, especially when surviving members of the wedding party appeared for an anniversary celebration. I'm pretty sure that I could lay my hands on at least five newspaper articles, from three different newspapers, that discuss my grandparents' wedding. Shall I begin [[Marriage of User:WhatamIdoing's grandparents]]? Or should I just assume that your notion of "newspaper" is more like The Chicago Tribune and less like The Mulberry Advance (circulation=120)? WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:01, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
I fail to see a problem here. Reliable secondary sources, ongoing in-depth professional coverage, and the weddings had significant lifelong impact on multiple people that continued to be covered over the course of years. We don't need to start making up reasons why to not write articles just because it turns out there's a lot left to write about. --Explodicle (T/C) 03:06, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
We are trying to make an encyclopedia not a mere collection of anything that ever existed, but a summary of that. We need discretion in our inclusion. --MASEM (t) 03:18, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
Agreed, we do need discretion. I'm not saying we should include everything that exists, just everything that has been covered in depth by multiple reliable sources. To be 110% clear, I'm not arguing against any of our other inclusion criteria, just against this "local" thing. --Explodicle (T/C) 03:20, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
But we don't; we already know to push topics that are basically news coverate (BLP1E or EVENTS) to Wikinews, but not within WP, despite the fact of that coverage. We have similar bounds in NOT. Thus, we already make exception for that. --MASEM (t) 03:33, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
If it's already covered somewhere else, we don't need to duplicate it here. If you're suggesting a change against local topics, I'm against it. --Explodicle (T/C) 04:05, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
The fundamental problem is that this kind of local coverage is indiscriminate. It does not really indicate that, given a choice between several options, the newspaper thought this was the most important thing that happened; it means, instead, that nothing else happened in a very small town that week.
Wikipedia would not benefit from having a separate article about practically every wedding to ever take place between people who live in adjacent small towns -- or of their grandchildren's visits, or of who repainted the campground building last week, or of any number of routine events. Even when obviously notable people are involved, such an article would violate WP:INDISCRIMINATE. "Prince Harry visited his maternal grandfather last week" is the archetype of "routine news reporting on things like announcements, sports, or celebrities". Articles on such subjects are prohibited by one of Wikipedia's most basic policies. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:46, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
I would suggest that you should try to formulate a way of saying what you really mean in terms of what sorts of trivial articles should be excluded from Wikipedia, then, instead of trying to make excluding "local" news sources a proxy for that, on the basis that their coverage may be of the sorts of subjects you do not believe should be covered, and taking all the disastrous unintended consequences that would come with that. —chaos5023 (talk) 05:19, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
I just want to yet again add that I feel that WP:N's purpose is to provide a baseline for coverage. I agree that "presumed" means that we apply common sense. I don't think visiting one's grandparents should, in general, be covered. And I agree with oneevent and NOTNEWS. But per WP:PAPER, and the 5 pillars, we can cover a lot of stuff and we should. Excluding local sources is just a bad idea and a horrible slippery slope. Is the NYT a "local" source? What if the NYT and Washington Post both cover it, is that still "local" to the East coast of the USA? Where is the line? And why are we bothering? If someone wants to write the article and it's verifable and meets WP:N, is there any harm? Might there not be a reasonable benefit? Hobit (talk) 05:40, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
And wouldn't local landmarks etc. be covered in "It incorporates elements of general and specialized encyclopedias, almanacs, and gazetteers."? Specifically almanacs and gazetteers? Mightn't an encyclopedia covering a given county's history include the leadership of that county over the last few hundred years? There is a book solely about Ann Arbor that covers a lot of nitty details. Is that a local source? (There are actually several). Should larger, or smaller, cities be treated differently? Hobit (talk) 05:45, 19 April 2010 (UTC)


First, this is not to say local sources can never be used, anywhere. If a person, notable by other means, has their best bio written up by the reliable source "Tinytown Gazette", then it's quite usable to supplement that article.
Second, we have to be alert to context: a work that may generally be considered a good regional or national paper (such as NYTimes or WaPost) often will cover local stories too. Context of how the source is used is very important. Just because a new deli is commented in the NYTimes restaurant review section doesn't mean its notable because it appeared in the NYTimes.
As to the harm, I think it is a matter of the slippery slope of what is discriminate coverage. As we move the line down from global to local coverage, the number of potential topics increases exponentially. There should be recognition that there's a point in the ratio of number of articles to number of active, participating editors will tip the work into falling in on itself without disabling IP editing, etc, so as this line goes down, we will pass that ratio. There is a practical limit to what we can call discriminate inclusion, but I dare not say exactly what that is. We know not every living person is appropriate for inclusion, but we have set that every locality itself is notable.
So here's where we need to think about this: as we have articles on localities (pretty much every town and city documented), there should be no problems as a first pass of putting notable local topics within these articles; some larger towns and cities may need sub-articles for this, the Ann Arbor example may be one, or some European cities with histories that go back well before the 10th century. We do need to recall there are some things in WP:NOT that we don't include, so stuff like restaurants and businesses should not be included if they are simply there, though on the other hand, something like a corner diner that has been considered (locally) as the most popular meeting place in town for decades would be important to include. As notability is a common sense guideline, there may need to be some exceptions for certain elements, but it likely depends on the depth of local coverage. If I were to put this into terms for notability, it would basically be that notability is best shown through global or national sources; using only sources from local or regional works would likely lead to questions of indiscriminate coverage and to AFD. --MASEM (t) 13:39, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
  • This is still just using an exclusion of "local" coverage as a dangerously imprecise proxy for what you really want, which is exclusion of trivia. If you want to enhance the exclusion of trivia, even though WP:NOT already does a pretty fine job of it, then that's what you should work on, not snubbing sources that may and will contain excellent, reliable coverage of notable topics. —chaos5023 (talk) 14:31, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
  • I'd like to point out that the slippery slope is an informal fallacy. It's an attempt to argue against what might be at some point in the future instead of what's on the table right now. --Explodicle (T/C) 15:06, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
  • First, no, this is not about exclusion of what would normally be called trivia. It is a determination of when we have in-depth articles on topics in considering that we are a summary of human knowledge: just because it can be verified or even locally known does not mean it is appropriate in this summary. Also, one must consider the reliability of local sources. We judge reliability based on a history of editing and fact-checking; a local source that reports only on local coverage will be called into question as to whether its reliable due to this. And while I am aware of the slippery-slope being only a possible outcome, it is still something to consider.
  • I will point out what seems to be presently practiced: if you were to go out and make an article on a local topic backed (and can only be backed) by local sources, I would suspect it either to be deleted or merged to the article about the locality. People will likely cite notability as the reason to delete/merge. Why is that? Again, right now, save for footnote #3 , and what considerations one can make for reliable sources and local sources, there is nothing explicit about this point, but it is taken for granted. But as we're seeing here, explaining that concept in words is very difficult. I believe (simply by observance), as a whole, WP recognizes there's a certain level somewhere in the local/regional/national scale where we consider topics below that point need coverage beyond the geographic area it impacts to be considered notable, and that point is somewhere between local and regional. I can't point to anything that explicitly says that or even indicates that, only just judging on what articles we have and certainly what articles we don't have. --MASEM (t) 15:28, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I was encouraged by DjSasso to come here, and I note how editors have varying opinions about how local coverage should be treated by GNG as a whole. Interested editors may, perhaps, want to take a look at how the issue, as it applies specifically to athletics, is being discussed at Wikipedia talk:Notability (sports). In particular, there is discussion as to whether NSPORT should say specifically that local coverage (also brief listings in compendia of statistics) is usually not sufficient to establish notability for athletes. Editors working on GNG may want to provide opinions as to whether or not it would be helpful to GNG for NSPORT to say something about that. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:00, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

Population comparison

Maurreen (talk) 12:18, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

    • *Laugh* I'm not sure I get the point, but that was a fair bit of work. Could you explain where you are going with this?
We're talking about supposed difference in notability based on whether a topic is covered by local/regional sources or national/global sources. So I'm showing how some regions and localities are more populous than some countries. For example, I don't think a national source from Northern Ireland is inherently better than a local source from Santa Clara County, California. Their population size is similar. Maurreen (talk) 15:15, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
Certainly some judgment is required, but can we agree that an article in The San Jose Mercury News, which is the primary newspaper for Santa Clara County (population: 1.7 million), is more likely to indicate the suitability of a subject's inclusion in a global encyclopedia than an article in The Mulberry Advance of Mulberry, Kansas (population: 577) -- especially since TMA has a stated goal of publishing local-interest news, and leaving the non-local news to the "big" papers, like Pittsburg's The Morning Sun, or even to The Wichita Eagle? WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:56, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
Sure. Maurreen (talk) 22:51, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
And maybe this is where we need to consider this. A local source, particularly as that locality gets smaller and smaller, is going to become less and less independent of the topics that happen in that source. So maybe it's not so much the geographical consideration, but the level of interest - or, more importantly, disinterest - between the source and region. This could also then apply to sources that are highly specialized in certain fields but distributed to a large area (such as a society's newsletter,, or the like). --MASEM (t) 23:06, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
That's somewhat better to me. But we should also keep in mind the value of expertise in a given topic. Life is a series of trade-offs. Maurreen (talk) 23:11, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
ORG follows that line of logic, and discourages notability claims based entirely on "attention solely from local media, or media of limited interest and circulation".
ORG is a special case here (its primary purpose is to resist WP:PROMOTION-violating spam), but I think that it does a reasonable job of balancing articles about orgs that have received some non-trivial attention, and articles that are basically self-published advertisements. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:51, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
I do tend to think that it is reasonable that ORG has the local notion, though I'm not thrilled with it it does cut down on the spam. But I honestly don't see the broader value. If there is enough material to write about and someones independent of the subject (I don't buy that smaller areas are somehow less independent) have chosen to cover it, I don't see why we can't or shouldn't. Hobit (talk) 02:53, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
I understand that for many subjects local coverage should suffice for notability, however for others it should not. For example almost every decent high school athlete will have some article about them in the high school sports section of a very local newspaper. Do we really want a page for the millions of high school athletes that will graduate and never be referred to again. One person in this conversation said feel free to edit WP:ath, but we can't do that, even though practically every editor in the WP:ATH discussion agrees with not automatically granting notability to athletes who get an article in the high school section of a local newspaper. This is because WP:GNG overrides general notability guidelines right now, general notability guidelines are currently not allowed to be exclusionary.- MATThematical (talk) 00:42, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
I wasn't in favor of excluding local sources for notability purposes, but as I think about it, allowing them skews the focus to non-notable subjects in small areas. Every high school athlete in Lake Dallas, Texas will have an article, since the Lake Cities Sun's sports page covers almost exclusively local school district sports. The Denton Record Chronicle has less such coverage, given that it covers about 150,000 people. The Dallas Morning News just doesn't have room to publish a story about every high-school athlete in the metro area it services (about 6 million people). Thus we have reverse discrimination favoring small and local papers.
This might be solved by adding something like WP:ROUTINE to WP:Notability. Thoughts? —Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 03:15, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
That's not a bad idea. I'm not sure whether it would be better to include this on this page or at (each relevant) SNG. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:53, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
Now I am not directing this at you MATThematical, but remember a story or even multiple stories in a single local newspaper or even non-local newpaper is not enough. They have to have stories about them in multiple sources. How many highschool athletes are going to have articles written about them in multiple newspapers. For that matter, how many smaller cities have multiple news papers that would pass RS. -DJSasso (talk) 18:39, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure that our guidance has made this point clear. Leaving aside the occasional claims that some subjects require zero independent sources (e.g., see the 2003 Jimbo quote at the end of WP:HS/N) because they're so inherently important, many editors seem to believe that two articles written by the same person or published in the same periodical count as two sources, not just one. Based on the definition of 'source' ("The word "source", as used in Wikipedia, has three meanings: the piece of work itself (a document, article, paper, or book), the creator of the work (for example, the writer), and the publisher of the work (for example, The New York Times)"), this is not an irrational position: two articles by the same author in the same publication are still two "pieces of work". WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:45, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
I added "Multiple sources from the same author or organization are usually regarded as a single source for the purposes of establishing notability." to the end of the "Sources" bullet point. I don't think this changes away from current practice, but it does codify it.  — Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 22:13, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

Focus: broad vs narrow

I think I've hit upon the language we would like here. Our goal is that we want topics that have had coverage in reliable sources that have "broad coverage", and want to avoid assuming notability if the only sources are from "narrow focus" sources. This covers both the idea of graphical coverage and topic/area of specality coverage. Of course, "broad" and "narrow" are up for debate but when you start thinking about it, they do work out and are less contensious than "local" and "national" or the like.

  • For geographics, most large city newspapers are broad focus - they cover int'l, national, and local news. When you start getting to smaller and smaller cities or papers with less frequent publications, you start getting more focused on just that region, to the point where a small town, weekly newspaper is narrowly focused on just that town.
  • For fields, like a chemistry journal (particularly peer-reviewed ones), one that covers the field without question is broad coverage (eg "Chemistry Letters"); as you start to narrow the focus of that field ("Double Aromatics Monthly") the question of how important the topic to the overall field becomes questionable.

Why consider this? Well, given that we're looking for discriminate information to include, if a source that typically has broad coverage includes a given topic, that's a line of discrimination to consider, as that one article could have been competing from a pool of hundreds. On the other hand, with a more focused magazine, the material included becomes less and less discriminate to the point where any newsworthy event gets included.

Every scenario I can think of, this is a clear reason for considering notability. Say John Smith is an expert underwater basketweaver. If he's only featured in "Underwater Basketweaving Fortnightly" (a highly focused magazine), that's a bit of a question to say if it's really notable to the world at large. On the other hand, if he's featured in "Sports Illustrated", appears in "Time" or "National Geographic" or the like (magazines with very broad coverage), then there's clearly something notable about the guy.

This also needs to be combined with the concept of routine coverage, because both broad and narrow sources will have it (eg results of most major sporting events), for proper notability assessment. --MASEM (t) 22:41, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

The fields part is even worse than the geographical part. That would amount to the re-enfranchisement of WP:IDONTCARE as the new and improved "too niche". This would be a disaster. —chaos5023 (talk) 23:47, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
Masem, I think that something like this could be helpful... especially if we can first legislate some common sense. The thing to do IMO is not to say that narrow/niche publications don't "count", but to say that the focus/audience of the sources is one of several characteristics that editors should consider. For example: a long, detailed newspaper article "counts" for more than a brief article in the same publication, but successful notability claims have been based on (lots of) brief articles. Similarly, an article from a general-interest source should "count" more than (an otherwise identical article) from a narrow source.
Thus, to use your examples, a long article in Underwater Basketweaving Fortnightly might "count" about the same as a short article in Sports Illustrated. In the simplistic "2RS=N" model, two long UBF articles indicates notability, or one long UBF article plus one short SI article indicates notability. Conversely, two short UBF articles, or one short UBF article and one short SI article, might not indicate notability. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:45, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
Especially for topics, I think it's unfeasible to draw a clear line between "broad" and "narrow".
For example, between Science and Hadrons are Physics and Subatomic particles and probably others. Maurreen (talk) 00:48, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
Notability is often a fuzzy issue. You combine your estimate of the number, nature, depth, quality, independence, and reputation of the sources you know about with your estimate of how well the known-to-you sources represent the existing-anywhere-in-the-world sources, and make a decision about whether this means "enough for an article" or "not enough for an article".
Don't you think that editors who fluently assess these half-dozen characteristics today are capable of adding one more characteristic to their estimates? WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:02, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
How about we add something like this to the end of the "Significant Coverage" clause of GNG: The nature of a source should be taken into account when evaluating whether the coverage is significant.[1] The footnote should say something like Some sources may give undue weight to to local or minor occurrences, persons, or organizations. These type sources may meet WP:V#Sources, but take care when using such a source to establish notability.  — Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 01:18, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
We could add a section about how to evaluation "significant coverage" and review aspects such as the list WhatamIdoing expands on including this broadness, borrowing on some of the language from the first section, and implying that the weaker facets of each element do not necessary negate a source but may be convincing evidence should notability be challenged. --MASEM (t) 01:51, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

What is there about this whole thing that makes it something other than WP:CREEP? —chaos5023 (talk) 01:56, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

Because as per the discussion in ATH and NSPORT have pointed out, there is nothing in WP:N that reiterates the general idea (through AFD and the like) that a topic covered only by local/focused sources is likely not to be significant enough for WP. Without that statement, ATH/NSPORT has to be absolutely clear that local players with only local coverage are not notable, but this is true for all topics. Thus it's helping to normalize all the sub-notability guidelines. --MASEM (t) 02:05, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure anything here needs to change. But if it is going to change, do you plan an RFC? Maurreen (talk) 05:48, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
If that's the point, why are you writing language that is so much more broad and far-reaching than "local topics with only local coverage are not notable"? —chaos5023 (talk) 15:09, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
Because it's not just "local", as pointed out, one can consider a work that only covers Vatican City as local as a work that covers a small town in the US; however, one of those is going to be considered very important for notability. The idea is more than just geographical. --MASEM (t) 21:48, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm not really seeing why this can't be left to ATH and NSPORT's topic-specific notability guidelines for their purposes (where clearly they've had a pressing need to codify consensus on the matter), and WP:NOT and common sense otherwise, until such time as real, live problems call for a codification of consensus in other areas or in general. —chaos5023 (talk) 22:39, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
cf. WP:BROKE. —chaos5023 (talk) 22:41, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
Because the local vs global issue should not just be limited to sport, and the way NSPORT is progressing, the less they have to talk about it and leave it to the GNG, the more likely we can get rid of the problematic ATHLETE guidance. --MASEM (t) 23:09, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
My understanding is that this stemmed main from concern about high school athletes about high school athletes qualifying. Is a similar problem perceived for anything other then high school athletes? Maurreen (talk) 23:46, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
Same question here. If we aren't solving a problem with this, there's a great risk of the exercise being WP:CREEP. Even with an identified problem, we have to ask whether the cure is worse than the disease, but without that we have only the risks and difficulties of new policy and no upside. WP:PPP is good reading here. Why is NSPORT's "progression" and ATH-specific guidance "problematic"? That almost suggests forum shopping; are you trying to get this language written into the GNG as an end-run around a lack of consensus about it in ATH? That would be a pretty awful idea. —chaos5023 (talk) 00:07, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
I think this would be broadly useful in discussions about several categories of articles:
  • AltMed products: 'Reputable' herbal (etc.) products tend to be able to produce a small number of science-y-sounding articles -- all written by the same person, or published in the same niche trade rag.
  • Very small, strictly local businesses: In a small town, almost every single business will be 'featured' in the local newspaper at least once. Why should "Joe's Smalltown Burger Joint" get an article, when "Sam's Big City Burger Chain" doesn't?
  • Local events: Many regularly scheduled annual events (e.g., a parade on a given holiday) will be reported each year as items of purely local interest -- but that doesn't mean that Wikipedia should have a separate article on "Annual ice cream fundraiser for Lake Woebegone's elementary school" (although it might be worth mentioning it in the article about the school/district/town).
  • Relatively pricey niche products: Some limited-circulation trade rags will publish quite detailed reports about certain kinds of new products of interest to investors or competitors. This doesn't really indicate that Wikipedia should have a separate article about the most recent product offering from each company (although it probably should have an article about the company/all the products).
  • Highly regulated products and processes: How to comply with certain regulations is a major issue in some industries, and this is reflected in industry-specific sources. My bookshelf has a highly respectable source whose subject is, at some level, "Analyzing the 2004 annual financial report from". Changes to marketing materials (Should the box be blue or red?) and other aspects of presentation (Should cough syrup be colored red, orange, or green?) are routinely dissected in specialty publications -- but I don't think that "Color changes to Brand X cough syrup packaging in 2008" should be an encyclopedia article.
  • Novel medical ideas: When a "disease" or "treatment" can only be sourced to a single individual, or to a journal with a reputation for publishing nonsense, then I don't think that Wikipedia needs an article about it (yet). Wikipedia isn't the place to promote your new idea, even if you have previously published in Medical Hypotheses.
That's just off the top of my head; I'm sure there are many more examples of why the mere existence of some publication should not be taken as proof that Wikipedia needs a separate article on the subject.
Also -- one of the points here is to provide our real rules to newbies. If this is already happening at AfD, then we need to document it here. It's not fair to new editors to tell them that they met the written rules, but the article is being deleted for not complying with the secret rules. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:42, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

Arbitrary break

Sorry, but I'm not clear on whether change proponents are saying this is perceived as a real or hypothetical problem. Also I'm not sure if you're saying this is what we already do, so we need to codify it, or that you think we need to change to start doing this. If you see it as a real problem, I might see more context if you show links such as AFDs. Thanks. Maurreen (talk) 17:23, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

Also, I have some concern that this might have unintended results. For example, general-interest newspapers and magazines give much more coverage to sports and movies than to science. Maurreen (talk) 17:51, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

Ditto, again. What I'm looking for is evidence of problems that are actually happening and which existing policy, guidelines and situational consensus are inadequate to address. —chaos5023 (talk) 18:30, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

First, it is not a present problem; the point of adding this language is to codify current practice. Even if it not an athlete, a person that is only documented by local/focused sources is not going to be considered notable by WP editors; same with businesses, locations, etc. In part, some of our CSDs are based determining if there is more than local non-significant coverage.
The reason to add this is to help remove the hangups over keeping the widely inclusive WP:ATHLETE for a more pruned version of WP:NSPORT. One of those is that the GNG in its current form does not address local coverage. According to discussions there, without either the GNG mentioning it or their guideline mentioning it, people would presume local coverage is notable, and added local high-school stars, etc. Now, yes, certainly it can be added there, but this idea of local applies to all topics; sports is only where it comes up a lot more due to the visibility of that field. Thus, while NSPORT could add that language there, it makes zero sense to put that there when it really belongs here as the general rule for notability.
Again, this is not a change in standard practice, simply codification of it. --MASEM (t) 19:55, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
WP:CREEP calls for us to avoid codifying consensus as much as is practical, rather than writing and modifying policy simply because we find a current consensus to exist. That suggests to me that, since the current and existing problem is in ATH and NSPORT, that's where it should be addressed, and hypothetical future problems can be left for their (non-pointy) future manifestation. —chaos5023 (talk) 20:07, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
I disagree it is CREEPing rules, but I'm not going to consider adding anything until an RFC is done. --MASEM (t) 21:57, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
Fair enough. I suggest, with said RFC and in general, that you focus on proposing the most narrowly-scoped, least-impactful change that will address the live problems in evidence. That's the most likely to reflect, and garner, consensus, and not raise the specter of things like providing a backdoor for WP:IDONTCARE, which will tend to get people's backs up. —chaos5023 (talk) 22:04, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that any editor can fairly describe this as "gratuitous requirements", "not reflecting true community consensus", "over-complicating the page", "unnecessary prohibitions", "too strict", or any of the other things that WP:CREEP inveighs against. Perhaps some editors here should go read the essay, paying particular attention to the section that says, "Not all rules are bad". WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:28, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
I would, in fact, say that this initiative is entirely describable as "gratuitous requirements" (in that it is admittedly designed to solve problems that are not in evidence), "not reflecting true community consensus" (in that it generalizes far beyond actual consensus, and that the consensus being cited in ATH/NSPORT is itself less than solid), "over-complicating the page" (in that the GNG is presently laudably simple and adding clauses to it would compromise that), "unnecessary prohibitions" (again, in solving problems we don't actually have) and "too strict" (in devaluing swathes of reliable sources, like niche scientific journals, without good cause). —chaos5023 (talk) 17:22, 2 May 2010 (UTC)