Wikipedia talk:Vital articles/Frequently Asked Questions

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

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 are these lists?[edit]

Vital Articles are lists of subjects for which Wikipedia should ultimately have corresponding featured-class articles. These articles span the breadth of human knowledge and are divided into various subject areas. The articles listed represent the most important and fundamental articles to the English Wikipedia within each subject area.

There are currently 5 different levels of vital articles:

  • Level 1: 10 articles
  • Level 2: 100 articles
  • Level 3: 1,000 articles
  • Level 4: 10,000 articles
  • Level 5: 50,000 articles (incomplete)

The article counts listed above for each level are target numbers. Levels 4 and 5 also have target numbers within each subject area listed on their main pages. All articles from higher levels are also included in lower levels. For example, all 100 subjects on the Level 2 list are also included in Level 3. And the Level 2 list also includes the 10 subjects in Level 1.

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, global list.

Why does the list exist?[edit]

The English Wikipedia Vital Articles lists serve several useful functions for the community:

  • They give the English Wikipedia a direction in which to work, to enhance the quality of the encyclopedia in the most essential areas.
  • They provide a measurement of the English Wikipedia's quality, allowing the community to determine which areas are lacking in high-quality articles and which areas Wikipedia is excelling in.
  • They serve as centralized watchlists for the English Wikipedia's most important articles, giving editors the chance to see which fields need the most help.

Who created the list?[edit]

The English Wikipedia Vital Articles list was originally created in August 2004 by David Gerard (talk · contribs) as an adaptation of the metawiki List of articles every Wikipedia should have, created by Danny (talk · contribs) in May 2004 on Meta - back when not even English Wikipedia had all of these articles. The original version on en:wp was copied from the version on Simple, and then adapted locally. Danny had an interest in core material and also set up Danny's contest (third incarnation) in 2006 and the Core Contest in 2007.

Elsewhere, Wikipedia:1,000 core topics was established in 2006 as part of the Wikipedia:Version 1.0 Editorial Team for an offline version of wikipedia and later merged into level 3 of Vital Articles.

The Vital Articles list has undergone numerous revisions by multiple editors, and has expanded to include 5 different levels of vitalness. It began with what is now level 3 in 2004, level 4 in 2006, levels 1 and 2 in 2009, and level 5 in 2017.

WikiProject Vital Articles was established in 2009 by Drilnoth.

Some editors on Wikimedia are currently preparing a similar project around automating classification of article importance.

How are articles selected?[edit]

There are no "set in stone" rules for what makes an article 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. The articles selected for the project are identified through a voting process, which any member of the community is open to participate in. All levels except for level 5 require five or more support votes and a two-thirds majority for a topic to be added or removed

  • 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 better known in the Western world. To counter this, the 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, the Level 3 People and History subsections are sorted chronologically, not alphabetically.
  • Relative vitalness: Since there is a hard limit on the number of articles at each level, articles are judged against each other within the same subject areas to determine which articles are more vital to list than others.
  • Anti-recentism: Of the 132 individuals currently in the Level 3 People section, none are still living. While living individuals such as Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, or Queen Elizabeth II have tremendous current notability, they are avoided at Level 3 because their place in history is difficult to ascertain.
  • Tailored to the English-language Wikipedia: These lists are not meant to create a universal set of articles vital for all Wikipedia languages. Those universal lists already exist elsewhere for the 1,000 and 10,000 article levels.

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

An article's status is indicated with a symbol immediately before the article name. These symbols are automatically updated by Bot0612 based on the Wikiproject quality assessments on the articles' talk pages.

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

To add or remove articles from Levels 1–4, please propose your article(s) under a new section on the talk page of the Level you think they should be added to or removed from. Until Level 5 reaches capacity, articles may be added BOLDly, but those articles still may be removed by a consensus of four or more editors. Since there are a limited number of spaces available, additions should ideally 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 (e.g. replacing Yoga with Tamerlane) lightly and without an explanation for doing so.