Wikipedia talk:Run-of-the-mill

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"Run-of-the-mill:" essay or policy?[edit]

Someone on the discussion page for another proposal recently suggested that this essay become a policy or guideline. It has actually been cited a lot in AFDs. What do others think?

I would not support this as a policy or a guideline. Some people (like me) are not a fan of this essay or similar ones, such as WP:NLI or Wikipedia:Notability (buildings, structures, and landmarks) (which definitively failed to gain a consensus). Cazort (talk) 14:38, 20 June 2009 (UTC)


I see this essay as:

  • Not necessary - truly insignificant articles are usually deleted by overwhelming consensus anyway, without any need for a guideline like this. Example: Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Homewood Avenue.
  • Increasing subjectivity in notability discussions - WP:N is very clear that notability is not about importance, and it does not mention anything about uniqueness. The general theme/spirit of this essay seems to be based on the idea of importance and uniqueness. While WP:N is hardly objective, the notion of "significant coverage in reliable sources" leaves less room for subjectivity than the idea of whether or not something is unique or run-of-the-mill. More subjectivity --> longer and less productive arguments.
  • Potentially being used to override WP:N I think the best guidelines and policies clarify, rather than making exceptions. This essay seems to be oriented towards arguing things are not notable even though they seem to meet WP:N. I am concerned about deleting local interests...things like municipal parks (like Williamson Creek Greenbelt). Also, anything that could be interpreted as conflicting with WP:N is going to lead to more arguments in AfD's.

So these are my concerns. I can't really support making this a guideline; all of the above concerns are major and together they really kill it for me. The biggest one is that I just don't see the need for this guideline. Cazort (talk) 14:55, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

Strong support[edit]

I love this proposal. Local newspapers cover local high school sports, for example. That's their job. They report local events. That is what they have to do to make people buy their paper instead of USA Today. That doesn't make the local QB notable beyond a 50 mile radius. Same with local TV anchors/weathermen/sports reporters. They speak at the Rotary Club luncheons, ride on a parade float and give talks at local elementary schools. That's simply their job. And the local paper covers it. I used an example in an AfD that bears repeating. A community near me has 1,500 residents and a part time mayor. The community is covered by 3 newspapers (1 published daily, one published 3-4 times a week and one published weekly). The part time mayor of the small town is mentioned at least once a week in each paper, often more. Should we consider him notable since "multiple, independent reliable sources" mention him? Of course not! But strictly speaking, he meets the criteria. This is a terrific proposal. Niteshift36 (talk) 06:21, 4 July 2009 (UTC)


  • This essay is mistaken in two ways. Firstly, the judgement of what is special is essentially subjective. On the one hand, every fingerprint and snowflake is unique and so there is infinite variety which makes all topics different. On the other hand, many topics have something in common and so might argue that we should only report the special ones. For example, we might say that that we should only have articles about important US Presidents like Abraham Lincoln but not lesser ones like John Tyler. Saying that professional sportsmen are special while schools are not is a matter of taste or a value judgement. Many editors might say that schools are distinctive and important while footballers are run-of-the-mill and insignificant. The distinction is subjective.
  • Secondly, Wikipedia is not paper and so the practical constraints upon the inclusion of topics is boundless. Google and other services show us that it possible to have coverage of every street, every book, every web page, etc. As we have no deadline, there is no reason to restrict ourselves in our coverage. If editors wish to cover boring topics (and it seems that they do) then this is harmless activity. Whether these topics are plants, asteroids, places or whatever, the same core principles of WP:NOR, WP:V and WP:NPOV may be applied to cover the topics in an educational and comprehensive way and this is the essential nature of an encyclopedia.

Colonel Warden (talk) 11:20, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

This is an encyclopedia, not the Guinness Book of Records or the National Enquirer[edit]

Those publications only write about the exceptional and the sensational. Encyclopedias, by definition, do cover the run-of-the-mill. Phil Bridger (talk) 23:11, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia is in danger of becoming "clogged"?[edit]

The essay needs to explain how Wikipedia is going to become "clogged". Are we running out of space? Or are you just talking about some aesthetic desire to make Wikipedia neat and tidy?

Notability is about ensuring that we have enough verifiable information from reliable sources to write a complete article. If we have that, who are we to say that the subject is not worthy of inclusion of Wikipedia?  Þ  11:17, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

WP:PERFORMANCE appears to say that the creation of articles cannot cause technical problems and that we do not need to worry about running out of memory when deciding whether or not to ceate new articles. That information page is supposed to represent consensus. James500 (talk) 18:31, 3 September 2013 (UTC)

I have replaced the passage in question with what I think it means. James500 (talk) 19:23, 3 September 2013 (UTC)

I notice that the passage in question has been restored to the essay. Can I point out that the metaphor is not apt if its meaning is not clear, which it isn't. It ought, at the very least to be explained in plain language, which it is not. James500 (talk) 00:48, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

New essay Every Snowflake Is Unique[edit]

I've created the related essay WP:SNOWFLAKE that tries to counterbalance some of the arguments presented here. It's not meant to supersede WP:MILL but to supplement it in cases where notability is likely but it's distributed among several related items; in that case some alternatives to content removal are suggested.

Comments and refinement to the ideas in that essay are welcome. Diego (talk) 12:51, 26 January 2012 (UTC)

Claim that it is impossible to create articles on everything that is verifiable[edit]

I notice that this claim has been restored to the essay. I observe that this claim is supported by absolutely no reasoning, let alone evidence. I observe that this claim is counter-intuitive (if it is possible to compile all these sources in the first place, it must in principle be possible to abridge them all into Wikipedia, regardless of whether it would be laborious or indeed desirable to do so). Presenting conjecture as fact ought to be no more acceptable in the Wikipedia space than it is in the article space. James500 (talk) 00:21, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

  • This is an essay. The box at the top clear states "This essay contains comments and advice of one or more Wikipedia contributors". They are comment. Opinions. Additionally, since these are the comments of editors, they clearly can't be reliably sourced since Wikipedia generally prohibits self-published sources. The box also says "Essays may represent widespread norms or minority viewpoints". You see....viewpoints. Even minority viewpoints. In short, essays do not fall under the same parameters as an article. Niteshift36 (talk) 00:53, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
An assertion that something is definitely impossible is not an opinion, it is a factual statement. Impossibility is not subjective. I did not claim that self published sources could not be convincing proof in a case like this. James500 (talk) 01:27, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
  • You're being literal when it's not appropriate. You're acting like this is a science article. It's an opinion. Relax.Niteshift36 (talk) 01:47, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
I am afraid that I cannot agree. This essay is invoked at AfD and consequently needs to be as factually accurate as possible (where it deals with objective facts). If it is not accurate, it has the potential to seriously undermine the project. We don't want participants at AfD acting on factually wrong information. James500 (talk) 09:33, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
  • If this essay were invoked at AfD, it would likely not be considered because a) AfD debates should be based primarily on policy, guidelines and MOS, not essays; b) most people are intelligent enough to understand that trying to interpret something so literally isn't the intent of the author or the essay itself. An essay is meant to be a statement of opinion and why the author(s) think that opinion is valid. In short, it saves them from having to repeat themselves over and over. It is never meant to be policy or a procedural. Niteshift36 (talk) 11:27, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
I agree with James on this. If you want the essay to state an opinion, write it as an opinion (Wikipedia shouldn't contain...), not as a fact (Wikipedia can't possibly contain...). Also the later assertion is against WP:NOTPAPER, which states that we can technically do it, dedicating the rest of the page to explain the policy of what shouldn't be done and for what reasons. Having an essay directly contradicting policy like that without a thorough explanation is rarely a good idea. Diego Moya (talk) 10:01, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
  • It IS written as an opinion. The big box at the top, before you even start reading the essay, makes that perfectly clear. The essay doesn't contradict policy. It doesn't propose that anyone disregard policy. While you're tied up with an overly literal reading of what could be "technically" possible, you ignore that it isn't the least bit feasible to have an article on everything. Why don't one of you try asking the author for his input? Your singular edit seems fine. I believe it's not needed because most people have enough common sense to realize that nobody is arguing the technical aspect of server capacity, but commenting on the realistic topic of notability. I won't revert it though. It's also worth pointing out that you authored an essay that disputes this one. You have plenty of space there to argue why you disagree with this essay. Your essay holds the same weight as this one (which you've promoted here) Why do you need to impose your opinion here as well? Let this author make his argument. You make yours at your essay. Niteshift36 (talk) 11:27, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
Essays in the main space are open to edit by WP:Consensus (yes, you also could try to improve Snowflake's wording in ways that you think reflect the inclusionist point of view, subject to the common consensus-building process). New editors don't know Wikipedia policy, so writing essays as mandatory rules[1] to follow is still problematic - the small essay notice at the top is not enough to clarify that you can safely ignore this "advice of one or more Wikipedia contributors", which "may represent widespread norms"; so it's too easy to mislead newbies. In particular, because many people at AfDs do cite essays as if they were policy.
When I wrote WP:SNOWFLAKE I tried to make it compatible with Run-of-the-mill, not discredit it; I tried to expand on the part of policy that protects content, as well as WP:MILL expands on the part of policy that excludes content. Both are not incompatible as long as they make clear which parts of the essay strongly follow policy and what parts are opinion.
Of course all essays ultimately lean towards some "ism" attitude more than other, but it pays off to have some editing from an adversarial perspective to make for a convincing argument rather than an extreme one. (For example now I see that another possible wording for the nutshell can be "there cannot pragmatically be an article on each one"; this reflects what you're arguing as the reason for creating the essay better than the "cannot possibly be", which is a hyperbole). Diego (talk) 11:55, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
  • [1](only not really).
  • I am quite aware that I can edit your essay. Thank you for stating the obvious. When you stated here that your essay was meant to "counterbalance" this one, it gives the impression that it's the oppostie in many aspects. Frankly, I agree with much of what's in your essay, just as I do with this one. Neither are perfect and I think both authors have Wikipedia's best interest at heart when they wrote them. I do, however, think you're being overly (and unnecesarily) literal and talking about policies that aren't really even at play here. Niteshift36 (talk) 14:18, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

If editors are allowed to include hoaxes, crackpot psuedo-science and similar content in the Wikipedia space, it defeats the whole point of excluding it from the article space. James500 (talk) 00:33, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

  • Since there is no hoax, no science or psuedo-science or similar content in this essay, your reasoning has no connection to this essay. Niteshift36 (talk) 11:27, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
  • If something is impossible then it's waste of time to argue against it because, by definition, it can't be done. The point of this essay is to argue that articles about commonplace items shouldn't be written. It obviously does this because editors can and do write such articles - bus routes; buildings; streets; stars; villages; fungi; bacteria &c. And what's especially commonplace, of course, are idle opinions. The page is quite ironical in that it condemns its own existence. Warden (talk) 11:53, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

Professional sports, not a good example[edit]

The use of professional sports as an example is a very USA-centric way of looking at things.

To people in the USA, "professional" sports implies the highest level of that sport - so the NFL (32 teams) or MLB. But even in the USA, minor-league baseball is professional. Back in the fifties, when there were class B and class C and class D minor leagues, every small town had a local minor league team. They were professional teams; players were paid. But they certainly weren't comparable to the majors. Every single person who has played a single minor-league game isn't notable. I'd call that a perfect example of run-of-the-mill. I note that the actual guideline WP:BASEBALL/N requires the player to have played in the major leagues, not just in professional baseball.

This is even more true outside the US, where the NCAA doesn't run large nominally-amateur sports. Here in the UK, "professional sports" includes many thousands of people, earning very ordinary middle-class salaries and going to work in front of a few hundred or a thousand or two spectators. Not only that, when you say "professional sports", that's what that means to a lot of people - Conference football (soccer), or lower-tier Rugby League, or minor-county cricket. These people aren't notable; they don't get automatic notability under the sports guidelines in Wikipedia. Sure, there's the odd person gets in through the GNG - but, well, they're the exceptions to run-of-the-mill, aren't they?

I think that pro sports is a really bad example of the sort of things that earn automatic notability, and that the article should pick something else. No problem with every NFL player being notable, but pro sports is much wider than that, and the implication of the majors when you say "professional" is American. "professional" might have the same denotation both sides of the Atlantic, but the connotation is very different. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Po8crg (talkcontribs) 09:30, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

Poor map analogy[edit]

At the outset, this essay sounds deletionist and I don't ascribe to that viewpoint. That said, the map analogy (so many cul-de-sacs with four houses) doesn't work with this argument. You cannot claim that "run of the mill" articles clog up Wikipedia. Internal links, navbars, categories, disambiguation pages, and the like ensure readers find the content they want to read. Many Wikipedia readers will tell you that they lose hours reading one article after the next with no memory of where they started. I'd recommend removing that nonsense altogether.

The winning argument here is that run of the mill content, especially when produced by single-purpose accounts, threatens to grow beyond the level that our long-term editors can manage. Too many articles insufficiently written for Wikipedia standards might go un-watched and un-gardened for years. The decline of Wikiprojects and the limits of recent changes and new pages patrols represent our collective inability to maintain any real article quality standards across the project.

I'd also like to remind AfD !voters that essays don't carry the weight of guidelines or policies. If you want to challenge notability, please do so. The fact that Wikipedia has too many articles might be true but it's not yet a criterion for inclusion. Chris Troutman (talk) 21:02, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

Is there a place for this clip from a film?[edit]

Often, when confronted by "evidence" of notability that amounts to routine announcements, very local coverage, and computer-generated listings, I'm reminded of a scene from the 1979 film The Jerk, in which the character played by Steve Martin is ecstatic to confirm that he's been included in the local phone directory for the first time and exclaims, "I'm somebody now! Millions of people look at this book every day!" Would there be a place for this illustrative clip, if not in this article, then in a related and less reverent one? —Largo Plazo (talk) 22:13, 27 November 2015 (UTC)