Wikipedia talk:Notability (software)

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My comments[edit]

This is not really all that bad. If we got a sharper picture of what "significant" means it might even be workable. And if "significant" means historically or technically significant, not run of the mill, not just another entry in its field, and we required that historical or technical significance to be referenced independently --- not by self-published sources --- that would be a positive step in clarifying when back-office software is in fact notable.

Open source software: too inclusive[edit]

The first problem I see is that this sets up a separate track for open software, and allows open source software to be referenced to blogs and other self published sources if they are "prominent, notable, and independent". First, I suspect that this is institutional bias at play. The open source encyclopedia that anyone can edit attracts fans of open source software and free content. Second, this puts a burden on page patrollers and admins to judge whether some blog with a tiny, technical readership is "prominent, notable, and independent".

Rather than have a separate track for open source software, I'd prefer to mention that software marketed by a business is also a product and must meet the notability guideline for products.

Consumer software: too exclusive[edit]

The proposal I drafted made clear that video game publications are general interest and confer notability. They are notable in the common sense definition: the general public is likelier to have heard of them than they are of IT department supervision suites or sysadmin tools. While sourcing is usually not an issue for video games and well known products, I would not apply a requirement of "significance" to those sorts of products.

Best practices in policing software pages[edit]

If that's going to be part of the guideline, please add this: "Any proposed deletion or AfD nomination of a software product should mention the sort of software it is, if that can be intelligibly derived from the article." A good number of my !votes are prompted chiefly by a desire to add this missing and vital context. If you're looking at AfD for software articles to rescue or improve, it helps to know whether it's the sort of thing that interests you.

- Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 15:05, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Hey Ihcoyc, here's my response:
A)This is a essay. Not a policy or guideline. That being said, nothing prevents this essay from eventually becoming a guideline with enough work/consensus.
B)I agree that the wording of Open Source is too inclusive, I wanted to make it so that prominent sources (even if they are blog like) can be allowed (ex.,, TorrentFreak, etc.) while avoiding mere existence (maybe a clarification is needed on "significant"). I did state that independent ones were preferable, maybe add that 2-3 such references are needed in comparison to 1-2 independent. Apart from the exceptions listed in FOSS section though, FOSS software follows the same rules as non FOSS.
C)I don't see the current wording excluding any "general interest games." Any general interest game will have plenty of citations meeting the current requirement. Perhaps some clarification on the exact wording change? I added reviews to the third clause if that was what you were looking for.

Edit: I noticed you felt that they do not have to meet all of the requirements if they met one. That is correct. The current revision says "if it meets any "one" of the following criteria".


ηoian ‡orever ηew ‡rontiers 18:34, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Copyedit/revision needed[edit]

Having submitted many college applications, I noticed my writing is naturally littered with grammatical and style errors when unedited. I frequently use the words "have" and "like" amoung other repetitions. A copyedit by an uninvolved editor is appreciated, as I am too tired to properly revise this myself. ηoian ‡orever ηew ‡rontiers 05:40, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Ideas versus functions[edit]

I have realized one of the things that is wrong with the deletionist sentiment towards software, and what is partially right about a special "FOSS clause". I think some sort of distinction really should be made in this essay (or proposed guideline).

Software may have at least two nearly orthogonal functions. One of those functions is performing technical tasks in a "mechanical" manner. Software is just a kind of machine from this functional perspective, and the notability standards pertaining to machines is nearly relevant. By this standard, a category of machine like Microwave oven has an article, but an obscure individual model like Sharp R-230KK does not, and should not (that model chosen at semi-random as the first one the shows up in a Google shopping result; I have no knowledge or opinion about the model). Of course, some individual machine models become highly notable, say the Model T or the Playstation 2, through some combination of sales popularity, third party reporting, and general innovation.

Proprietary software is, for the most part, simply a particular model of machine. However, FOSS software can also be something quite different. Software source is a form of expression, and publishing source code is much like publishing a book or an article. In source code, ideas are conveyed which may be discussed, critiqued, analyzed, rephrased, cited, etc. (just like in a book or article). Obviously, not every book or article should have a Wikipedia article, but many do and should on a basis other than massive volume sales or household recognition. Many books, and many software programs, are by design targeted at narrow, technical or specific audience, but within those target audiences may have a notable influence. Software can certainly be more widely known and used than are many "obscure" mathematical theorems that can, do, and should have WP articles about them.

One absolutely mind-numbingly bad AfD nomination I saw recently was for the Ratpoison X window manager. This is a software program that I have known of for years, and that I have frequently discussed with technical colleagues. Not having an article would be a painful gap in Wikipedia, since there would not be this place to point interested readers to. What makes Ratpoison so notable isn't that it has such a huge userbase (it probably doesn't), but rather that it expresses a distinct, novel, and widely discussed idea: that a window manager can avoid use of pointing devices and overlapping windows. For this particular case, the fact that I could read the source code is actually not the main point; it's more about the ideas advanced by the actual functionality (one could, perhaps, imagine a proprietary work-alike that had come earlier that would merit similar discussion). I don't really know if Ratpoison is the first in the family of tiling window managers, but it was early and is probably the most widely known one.

Judging software--the expression of ideas between humans--solely as commercial products, that need to sell a million copies (or whatever) for an article, is deeply misguided. This is so much more true for FOSS software where the conveyance of the ideas as source code is inherent to conveyance of the functional machine. It would be something like claiming a book doesn't deserve an article because there was "nothing special" in the way it was bound and printed! LotLE×talk 08:33, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

I'm fairly certain you could have argued such an article is notable in it's field (open source) as allowed under this essay (see exceptions part too). If consensus would have agreed, I have no idea. ηoian ‡orever ηew ‡rontiers 13:51, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
I feel like the current FOSS clause is a band-aid for an issue that should be addressed in another way. ηoian ‡orever ηew ‡rontiers 13:55, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
As noted, I did not really like the FOSS section, so I boldly went and rewrote the entire paragraph, and added additional factors that I thought might weigh in on the reliability and significance of sources and coverage that were not entirely covered by that rubric. It continues to mention FOSS, but is no longer focused exclusively on that kind. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 15:42, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
Excellent changes Ihcoyc! Although I see an overlap between promotion and scope and this section on the issue of wikipedia not being a laundry list. Do you think it would be appropriate to removing the latter redundancy because it is already mentioned elsewhere in two places (at least) about the different between notability and existence? ηoian ‡orever ηew ‡rontiers 01:32, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

FYI: reviews are okay for videogames[edit]

Wikipedia:VG/RS#List. Pcap ping 12:40, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

I never said they weren't. The wording was intended to achieve the same affect as your link, to notable reliable reviews while also accepting occasional unique circumstances. If you disagree, feel free to change the wording ηoian ‡orever ηew ‡rontiers 06:33, 8 February 2010 (UTC)

Using popularity as an alternative to media coverage[edit]

One way forward could be to use the results of popcon, popularity contest, an opt-in program which gathers statistics on which programs are installed and votes for them:

This would let us set a minimum install base, rather than simple availability in distributions. Unomi (talk) 02:22, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

I'm opposed to this. Gaming the system is very possible, as well as skewed statistical base. What is popular will have media coverage. I guarantee you.ηoian ‡orever ηew ‡rontiers 01:58, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

Move this page[edit]

The title (and the hatnote on the rejected Wikipedia:Software notability page) are likely to lead to confusion as to the status of this page. I'd like to move it to a title with a much larger hamming distance. - Aaron Brenneman (talk) 12:23, 15 July 2011 (UTC)

Current practices in assessment of notability[edit]

Just a couple of questions:

  1. Under section 2 "Inclusion" of your essay, you posit that the software must be the subject of instruction as opposed to merely being used in instruction. The two categories may be somewhat blurred. Could you give an example to clarify? GNU Octave and Matlab, for instance, are widely used in instruction; but would you say that they are also the *subject* of instruction?
  1. Under section 3 "Reliability and Significance of Sources", you recommend that "[i]t is not unreasonable to allow relatively informal sources for free and open source software, if significance can be shown". Is there consensus then that inclusion in a major distro such as Fedora is indication of notability?
  1. Is there consensus concerning usage of download statistics as an indicator of the software userbase and if so, what is the measure of the userbase size that imparts notability? What do you regard as reliable evidence of download statistics?

Thank youVisionat (talk) 15:55, 22 April 2013 (UTC)

  1. There are university courses titled in variations of "Using Matlab". You should be showing there are such courses for GNU octave.
  2. To my knowledge, no.
  3. No.
Someguy1221 (talk) 17:26, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
OK, the answer to 1) is what I thought you meant in the essay. I gather there is disagreement concerning 2) and 3). Thanks, I had no idea that the Notability of Software essay was authored by Some Guy - I might not have asked.:) :)
Hopefully there will be wider agreement on some of the elements discussed in your essay and it can become more "notable" as an official guideline. With regard to my first question, it might be possible for a software package to transform the manner in which a particular subject or core theorem is taught, yet might be so simple to use that there would be no point in dedicating a course for learning how to use it. I'll get back to you as I acquire more information.

Visionat (talk) 23:26, 22 April 2013 (UTC)

As a major author of this essay, I want to say that on points 2 and 3 that I feel it is better to consider such things on a case by case basis rather than explicitly laying out specific thresholds. Generally something with high download statistics will be mentioned in a reliable source somewhere. If something is included in multiple linux distributions and is the backbone of a FOSS software, or is an important part of a particular distribution, it may warrant an article. Or it may be better served as part of another article elsewhere. Again, notability does not restrict content, just whether or not something deserves it's own page. Thus, imho it is better to consider such things on a case by case basis. ηoian ‡orever ηew ‡rontiers 08:44, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

Some color on the "Trade Wars Decision"[edit]

I have a fascination with the early microcomputer era, especially "forgotten" examples of systems and software from the 1980s.

Software from that era is very poorly documented. The cost of documentation in the pre-internet era was several orders of magnitude greater than it is today, and many products in question were non-commercial, so there was little mention of them in any durable form. It might have been the #1 topic on BBS's and the topic of full reviews in CIS, but none of this information exists any more. Unless it was in print form, which is rare or entirely non-existant for non-commercial software, it almost certainly didn't survive this "internet black hole".

A good example of this is the Star Trek game, which was played by millions of people and was available for every microcomputer I ever touched, yet we had to scramble to find RS to survive an AfD. Another is Escape from Epsilon, one of the most beloved side-scrollers of its era, which exists now only on the authors own web pages. And my actual reason for writing this post, the wonderful Medieval Combat which appeared in type-in format and was so hugely popular it was offered commercially on tape. This one gets mentioned on blogs and forums to this day.

So that's the background to what follows...

This page specifically makes mention of software from this era and calls it out for what appears to be a "lighter shade of RS". It specifically refers to Trade Wars, a perfect example of a game that falls into this "black hole" period.

So I'm wondering if anyone might offer a little more "color" on this statement in the document, how it came to be, and how it might apply to the examples above?

Maury Markowitz (talk) 14:24, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

I'm not sure about the origins of the mention of trade wars specifically, but this older software may be given more flexibility in regards to the guideline as articles on such software are unlikely to be spam/advert/promotional. One underlying issue in many software afd discussions is the likelyhood that the article is promoting/advertising the software. Unfortunately, a large number of SPA accounts are created just to push a specific piece of new software by creating an article on it.Dialectric (talk) 05:17, 2 December 2013 (UTC)


Is there any reason why this essay has not been prooted to official Notability Guideline? Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 05:41, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

As another reviewer at Articles for Creation, I would like to add my appeal to Kudpung's. We rely heavily on Wikipedia:Notability and the list of topic-specific guidelines there. If this essay were a guideline it could be listed there. Thanks. StarryGrandma (talk) 16:43, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
StarryGrandma, it's probably covered by WP:PRODUCT or something like that. Anyway there doesn't seem to be much interest for it. Start an RfC for it if you think it would fly, but do the RfC in the right place, and back it up with plenty of compelling proposal. --Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 04:51, 15 February 2015 (UTC)
I'm not opposed to guidelines status, although in my opinion an RfC is needed about potential updates to the essay in terms of language and because the essay was written in 2010. I believe the essay should be a fairly reliable gauge of consensus given the other comments on this talk page as well as the other failed essay talk page. This essay attempted to address concerns that caused the other software notability to fail (note: I was one of those who opposed the other essay). At least, I believe this essay was reflective of consensus when I wrote it and there doesn't seem to be any major challenges. Again, a RfC would shed better light on how consensus has changed. On the other hand, I do see this essay sometimes being cited in nominations with only "non-notable" as the reason and no assertion at least that the nominator even looked up to verify such statements. This happens despite the emphasis the essay places on verifying an article is actually non-notable before nominating for deletion. I'm not sure if promotion to guideline would make this occurrence worse. There are many other good uses of this essay as well...ηoian ‡orever ηew ‡rontiers 08:52, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

Notability of fonts[edit]

Please see Wikipedia_talk:Notability_(web)#Notability_of_fonts. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 04:22, 14 August 2014 (UTC)

Since fonts can be cast in lead as well as being digital their notability probably isn't purely a software issue. This seems like an inquiry for Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Typography. That project includes computer fonts as well. StarryGrandma (talk) 23:14, 14 August 2015 (UTC)

RfC: On Software Notability.[edit]

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.

The essay Notability (software) is currently used in some discussions about the notability of articles. On the other hand, it's been five years since this essay was written and the suggestions may be behind the times. There do exist other guidelines on notability of similar topics (ex. WP:PRODUCT and WP:Notability (web)), thus the best path forward may be to keep this as an essay and avoid having specific rules for software notability. This RfC is to get more feedback on software notability, on whether or not the community feels a need for a formal guideline, and whether there are changes in consensus, etc. New comers to this topic may choose to take a look at this essay's talk page as well as the talk page of WP:Software notability for a feel of the general consensus in 2010. This is not a vote on promoting or rejecting this essay. ηoian ‡orever ηew ‡rontiers 09:07, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

General Discussion[edit]

Is there an identifiable problem to address? Terrible articles being kept? A flood of worthless software stubs being written about software? Valid new software articles being deleted because GNG isn't somehow being applied to them correctly?  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  17:13, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
Not particularly that I am aware of, I haven't been that active on Wikipedia. This is more of an open ended discussion about software notability and whether or not consensus has changed. I recently happened upon this old essay again while looking through my logs and noticed that it is cited in a few AfD. I'm sort of curious to learn what the community views as consensus today (it's entirely possible consensus hasn't changed) and whether or not I should update the essay or mark it as obsolete. The topic hasn't really seen much interest since 2010 when WP:software notability was rejected (hence the RfC to increase feedback). Another reason I'm opening this RfC is for the two editors in the Guideline section above on this talk page who say they'd prefer to have a guideline on software notability (I'm perfectly fine with a rough essay on tips). ηoian ‡orever ηew ‡rontiers 17:38, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
I do agree in general terms that this essay could use an update. We see hundreds of software-related submissions at AfC monthly. I'd say one of the biggest issues that this entails is defining what a reliable source is when it comes to software. FoCuSandLeArN (talk) 19:43, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
That, in my opinion isn't something easily defined and needs comments from more editors as it can vary depending on the particular category the software is in. I'd have to get back to this task when I have more time to think on it. Are there any particular examples or use cases where WP:RS is insufficient? ηoian ‡orever ηew ‡rontiers 05:43, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
Well, I can't recall any specific cases, but I do know that sometimes software that might be notable isn't covered too broadly in general sources, so I'd like to know where to look for specialty sources to corroborate facts relevant to those articles, for instance. Regards, FoCuSandLeArN (talk) 19:17, 31 July 2015 (UTC)
Addressing the part "whether or not the community feels a need for a formal guideline", I believe there is none. This eassy itself is a mere repetition of Wikipedia:Notability; it is entirely wordiness. It really says nothing new.
Best regards,
Codename Lisa (talk) 14:18, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
I cleaned up a bit of your changes, feel free to edit if you disagree with any of them. With regards to the nothing new, I feel the reliable sources section has differences specific to software to what is in other guidelines. Or is my interpretation of other guidelines different? Otherwise, yes there is a good amount of linking to other guidelines. Lastly it's not a bad thing if there isn't a need for a formal guideline. :) ηoian ‡orever ηew ‡rontiers 18:00, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
I feel you couldn't do badly even if you wanted to. Face-wink.svg I myself made an edit to fix its most glaring problem. Best regards, Codename Lisa (talk) 10:56, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
I believe that the essay has been rather resilient when it comes to time; many of the concepts remain solid even while technology progresses, since this is about notability rather than the software itself. I do feel like there might be something missing, as notability will always be rather open-ended, but I strongly disagree that This eassy itself is a mere repetition of Wikipedia:Notability; it is entirely wordiness. It really says nothing new. —烏Γ (kaw), 19:37, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
Hello, 烏Γ. About the "strongly disagree" part; do you mind telling us a few specifics? Thanks in advance.
Best regards,
Codename Lisa (talk) 10:56, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I will suggest a couple updates. First, put in something to clarify the guidance scope to make what's in and out a bit clearer and more current in the era of cloud computing and web products. State that 'software product' includes Software as a service or subscriptions, such as Google docs and Office 365, just to clarify that software goes beyond 'product' meaning physical boxes. I'd also like to see some statement to give a principle over what's not included, perhaps that if it goes beyond a personal content to include advertising such as Mapquest or Yahoo mail it falls under guidance of web services. Second, put in something to guide article naming and use of family labels such as MS Word or Pentium or MacOS. State a principle, perhaps that WP:COMMONNAME will be regarded as the software name, even if that refers to many different levels of product, a succession of versions, or dissimilar individual items under a bundle. Markbassett (talk) 17:08, 13 August 2015 (UTC)

Changing the infobox[edit]

What are people's thoughts on using {{template:WikiProject notability essay}} or {{template:infopage}}? Edit:  Done ηoian ‡orever ηew ‡rontiers 05:43, 23 July 2015 (UTC)

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

Product vs Public Domain[edit]

Some software is in the public domain and therefore not a "product" as the term is used on the project page. (talk) 19:21, 25 July 2015 (UTC)

There is no contradiction between something being a product and being in public domain. Quite to the contrary, the thing that is not yet produced (and hence, not a product) cannot be licensed, be it public domain, free license or proprietary license.
Best regards,
Codename Lisa (talk) 20:04, 25 July 2015 (UTC)

Actually, the IP is correct, except that he doesn't go far enough. Something in the public domain cannot be licensed at all. 'Public domain' is not a license. It means that no one has the right to issue or withold a license. In any event, no one sells computer programs. They sell copies. The copyright is not sold, and an idea (as opposed to the right to make use of it), such as a creative work, cannot by its very nature be sold. If, for the sake of argument, I sell someone a license, I am not selling the program. I am selling permission to engage in certain activities (eg possibly copying the program from the CD I sold you onto your computer) that I have a temporary commercial monopoly on. I have in no way sold you the program itself. Moby Dick is not a product because a large number of companies sell copies of their own editions of it. Cows are not a product because some people sell cuts of beef. Oranges are not a product because some of them are sold (many are not sold at all). Homo Sapiens is not a product because some people have been sold as slaves. It should also be born in mind that some programs do not even have copies sold at all. A military program might be produced by an army for their own use and no one else's. We must resist the line of reasoning that everything is a 'product' because it would be convenient for deletionist wikilawyers if it was. James500 (talk) 00:04, 3 March 2016 (UTC)

First, metonymy is a valid device even the most formal variants of English language. Your argument denies metonymy while at the same uses it: Anything that comes out of a compiler is a product by definition; no metonymy needed. When call you it a creative work, you are using metonymy.
Second, I do not seek to immunize myself against an imagined group of wrong-doers by doing the opposite wrong. This kind of hostile attitude is not constructive to the project.
Third, advertisement is forbidden in Wikipedia, even for non-products. In addition, oranges would be products, even if they grew, ripened, fell down and turned to soil in a planet that no man has ever reached. Cows would not be products even if they were solely used for their meat. Maybe you need to figure out why you arguing at all.
Best regards,
Codename Lisa (talk) 01:50, 3 March 2016 (UTC)