Wikipedia talk:Vital articles/Frequently Asked Questions

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This page provides answers to frequently asked questions about the Wikipedia:Vital articles list.

This page summarizes the current consensus surrounding the questions' answers.


  • DO help us answer frequently asked questions about the article.
  • DO use edit summaries to describe your changes on this page.
  • DO NOT sign your edits on this page.
  • DO NOT discuss anything on this page. Conduct discussions on the Wikipedia talk:Vital articles page.

What makes an article "vital"?[edit]

A vital article is one considered essential to the subjects listed. For example, it would be difficult to discuss Science without the scientific method, History without World War II, Language without Grammar, Earth science without Geology, or Civics without Democracy. Individuals within the People section represent the pinnacles of their field, such as Albert Einstein in "Inventors and scientists" or William Shakespeare in "Authors". In sections such as those pertaining to People, History or Geography, weight is given to some articles to produce a more diverse, worldly list.

What is this list?[edit]

WP:VITAL consists of exactly 1000 articles considered vital to the encyclopedia. These articles span the breadth of human knowledge and are divided into 12 subjects: People, History, Geography, Arts, Philosophy and religion, Everyday life, Society and social sciences, Health and medicine, Science, Technology, Mathematics, and Measurement. The articles listed represent the most important and fundamental articles to any encyclopedia within those topics.

Why does the list exist?[edit]

WP:VITAL serves a number of useful functions for the community:

  • It gives Wikipedia a direction in which to work to enhance the quality of the encyclopedia in the most essential areas.
  • It provides a barometer of Wikipedia's quality, allowing the community to determine which areas are lacking in high-quality articles and which areas Wikipedia is excelling in.
  • It serves as a centralized watchlist for Wikipedia's most important articles, giving editors the chance to see which fields need the most help.

Who created the list?[edit]

WP:VITAL was originally created in August 2004 by David Gerard as an adaptation of the metawiki "List of articles every Wikipedia should have". Since then WP:VITAL has undergone numerous revisions by multiple editors, creating a collection of no more than 1000 essential articles that represents the consensus of the Wikipedia community.

How are articles selected?[edit]

There are no "set in stone" guidelines for WP:VITAL. Since it encompasses so many topics, a single overarching criterion for inclusion would be irresponsible. Over time, however, certain commonly held notions have become prevalent. This applies especially to the most frequently revised area, the People section.

  • Geographic diversity: since this is the English language Wikipedia, the majority of editors come from either the United States or the Commonwealth. This creates a systemic bias towards topics more well-known in the Western world. To counter this, list includes a number of important topics less-known to the average American or Brit.
  • Chronological diversity: the topics represent the entirety of human history. To facilitate this, People subsections are sorted chronologically, not alphabetically.
  • Anti-recentism: of the 133 individuals currently in the Level 3 People section, none are still living. While living individuals such as Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama or Queen Elizabeth II have tremendous current notability, they are avoided because their place in history is difficult to ascertain.
  • Politicians and leaders: this subsection is currently fixed at 25 Level 3 entries.

How do I update an article's status?[edit]

An article's status is indicated with a symbol immediately before the article name. If the symbol is incorrect or out of date it should be changed to indicate the article's current status. The edit summary should mention both the article and the promotion. No links to the promotion are needed. (Example: Julius Caesar has been promoted to FA-status.)

  • {{Icon|FA}} produces Featured article, the gold star in the upper right corner of all Featured articles. The official featured article log can be used to keep up to date.
  • {{Icon|A}} produces A-Class article
  • {{Icon|GA}} produces Good article, the symbol for Good articles. A bot-maintained log updates both promotions and demotions.
  • {{Icon|B}} produces B-Class article
  • {{Icon|C}} produces C-Class article
  • {{Icon|Start}} produces Start-Class article
  • {{Icon|Stub}} produces Stub-Class article

How do I add articles to the list/remove articles from WP:VITAL?[edit]

To add or subtract articles, please propose your article(s) under a new section on the WP:VITAL talk page. Since there are only 1000 slots, additions should also include which article(s) would be replaced. Be sure to clearly explain your reasons for the replacement. Please do not propose replacing articles across subjects (i.e. replacing Yoga with Tamerlane) lightly and without lengthy explanation.