Wikipedia talk:What is an article?

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Moved from Talk:Main Page[edit]

OK now that the new wording is in place on the Main Page that states; "Anyone, including you, can edit any article right now, without even having to log in.", I think it is now necessary for us to write down our definition of just what a Wikipedia article is (some people may be confused with the "edit any article" statement when the main page and several policy pages are clearly read-only by non-admins). Here is a rough sketch of what I feel should be in such a definition;

There are many pages in Wikipedia, far more than we actually consider to be articles. For calculating our site statistics and for regular conversation we have a more or less specific definition of what constitutes an article.
A Wikipedia article can be defined as a page in the database that either has encyclopedic or almanac-like information on it ("almanac-like" being; lists, timelines or charts).
This does not include any pages in any specified namespace such as:
All these specified namespaces also have a yellowish background color to distinguish them from pages in the article namespace which have white backgrounds.
However there are still some non-articles in the article namespace; most notably:
  • the Main Page;
  • hundreds of very short "stub" pages that cannot be considered real articles yet (a rough measure for purposes of automatic detection is that stubs do not contain any commas)
  • thousands of "redirect" pages which are used to re-route traffic going to one page to another page.
It should be noted that our naming conventions only cover what articles should be named. Therefore it is perfectly fine to use whatever capitalization, pluralization or transliteration you like for your user page and even pages in the other namespaces (except special, which can only be created by developers).
The Main Page and a few of the most important policy pages in the Wikipedia: namespace (such as Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines) are protected, because experience has shown that the main page is a major target for vandals and Wikipedia Policy has to be agreeded to by consensus before being changed. But every article and the vast majority of non-article pages can be edited by any user, including you right now!

Please go ahead and edit the above or leave suggestions below. As soon statement is agreed to I plan on placing it in Wikipedia:What is a Wikipedia article? or something similar and then sublink that to the word "article" in the intro message on the front page. --mav

Great, and I've made what I hope are improvements. (I also indented it for readability, but of course the final version won't have that.) I suggest putting it in Wikipedia:What is an article; the lack of a question mark or a repetition of "Wikipedia" will make linking easier. I've hedged a bit on the precise definition of "stub", because my impression is that the comma guideline is just an approximation for purposes of automatic detection (as I wrote), but only human judgement can tell if something is really a stub. However unlikely, a long and substantive article might consist entirely of short declarative sentences and no commas; now that I think of it, we probably have some list pages that fall into this category. OTOH, a page whose only content is a repetition of the title (the ultimate stub) will still have a comma in it if the title does. — Toby 21:50 Aug 12, 2002 (PDT)

Great! I really like your improvements, but I did tweak the reason why certain pages are protected; No Admin has to ask permission to make minor changes and copyedits to any protected page. Any major reorg or refactoring should be announced (a major reorg of the Main Page would need to be agreeded to before hand though). The only time permission and/or consensus is needed is if there will be any change in the meaning of any policy page. --mav

End moved talk


Methinks it would be useful to briefly explain what the namespaces are for, in stead of only mentioning them with an example. Or will it get too lengthy then? Jeronimo

Good idea - although that should be a very brief explaination since namespaces have their own FAQ page. --mav

Is is true that disambiguation pages are not automatically detected and thus are counted in the total number of articles given on the Main Page? — Toby 01:14 Aug 16, 2002 (PDT)

Last time I checked, yes. This is yet another feature request I have in my head -- trouble is that so many of the requests are already from me. Fixing this souldn't be hard though. --mav

OK, somebody has to say this: The fact that we are patting ourselves on the back for intentionally undercounting our articles is just plain silly. I just now went and looked under "short pages" at all 28 pages with exactly 100 bytes, and 13 of them contained a comma. Not a single one of them deserves to be called an article, but almost half are counted. Next I looked at all 33 pages with exactly 200 bytes, and 27 of those contained a comma. A few of them (not eighty percent!) might be considered articles under an extremely lenient definition of article, but does anyone outside of Wikipedia consider a single, brief paragraph to be an article? Are ANY of Brittanica's articles under 500 bytes?

I estimate our median article size as 1000 bytes, because that's the size of our 18943rd longest page according to long pages. (18943 would be the median of 37886 total articles.) To my mind, a conservative count of articles would place an 1000-byte minimum, rather than a 1000-byte median, which would trim our total article count in half. But no matter how we count articles, let us at least prominently post the median size of the articles which are included in the count. And please, please don't call the count "unimpeachable". (For refernence, my little tirade (including this sentence) is 1367 bytes long, i.e. rather longer than our median article.)

--Fritzlein 02:55 Aug 17, 2002 (PDT)

Print encyclopedia's have many very short articles that are little more than definitions. I do agree that our automatic article count is not as conservative as it should be though. It should, for example, search for and exclude from the count any page that has the word "disambiguation" in the text or title and do some other things to exclude pages that are probably better described as definitions of encyclopedia topics and not encyclopedia articles (that is, there needs to be better stub detection). --mav


This FAQ looks good to me now. Shall we link it from Wikipedia:FAQ and the Main Page now? --mav

(Of course, mav changes it after saying this.) Yeah, I think that it's fine, although it'd be nice to write the pages that it links to too. That shouldn't stop us from linking to it, however. — Toby 15:30 Aug 21, 2002 (PDT)

Coolness - now all we need is a small entry in the actual FAQ about this with a brief answer. I will go ahead link it from the Main Page. --mav

Is it just me or has the number of articles dropped? Lir 23:36 Nov 14, 2002 (UTC)

No. It has been at 90679 since Monday. --mav

I prefer the byte-based distinction of stub/article. I'm working on Japanese Wiki, and Japanese writing can go on in a great length without any commas, partly because we have a similar but different Japanese sign for that: "A"

I imagine this situation is not unique to Japanese language.

Tomos 00:35 Feb 3, 2003 (UTC)

ZONGULDAK regional info @ history in English[edit]

You can use text on singlix web site, zonguldak web pages...

I am the owner of these web pages...

INFO page text taken from www.voyagerbook.com but, recently i have updated it at singlix web site.

HISTORY is written by me, directly...

There are not any copyrights on these pages... (www.voyagerbook.com Zonguldak page is not orginal source of information about Zonguldak. All text is compilation/adaption from official turkish state/tourism documents.)

USE THE TEXT of Following web pages...

http://www.singlix.com/zonguldak/index.html http://www.singlix.com/zonguldak/info.html http://www.singlix.com/zonguldak/history.html

Regards... Erdogan Tan


Dictionary versus Encyclopedia[edit]

A lot of entries really do not belong to an encyclopedia but to a dictionary. Is the Wiktionary going to get combined with this project at some stage? Why aren't they already one thing? BozMo(talk)

No, it will likely never happen. In the beginnings of wikipedia, there were disagreements about whether we should include dictionary definitions or not. It was decided that Wikipedia is not a dictionary (see What Wikipedia is not), and wiktionary was created. ✏ Sverdrup 16:10, 26 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 7 March 2017[edit]

would you please help me to edit the article i wrote but be deleted because i did not understand the rule! I AM SO SORRY Josephnguyenvu (talk) 10:47, 7 March 2017 (UTC)

@Josephnguyenvu: You have used the edit request template, which is for requesting a change to this page, not for asking general questions. If you need assistance with editing, you can visit the Help Desk or (for a new user) the Teahouse to ask a question. You can also ask the user who deleted your article directly why it was deleted. 331dot (talk) 10:49, 7 March 2017 (UTC)

Scope and focus[edit]

Would like to add something to the guideline, about an article having focus; that is, "being about a single, identifiable topic". This should probably go into the #Scope section.

One way to think about this principle or how to word it, is to examine some articles that violate it. Some of these may have the Template:Unfocused banner placed on them, such as Path length, Biscuit or Chandelier Tree. How do we best say something that would lead editors to produce and maintain a focused article, and avoid creating an article structured like those?

I think the question of proper scope of an article is tightly bound to the article title, which "unambiguously identifies the article's subject and distinguishes it from other subjects." I think all three articles above violate this principle.

So along with the main definition about focus, however we word it, maybe we could add something about that, as well, and point out that if an article seems to be going off in multiple directions at once, they could consider a couple of approaches:

I think an expanded #Scope section would be an improvement to the guideline. Mathglot (talk) 22:14, 25 March 2017 (UTC)

By the way, I wouldn't want to mention in the guideline itself any articles (such as the examples given) that aren't compliant, because we don't want to pick on any articles or anybody. I only list them here as a way to help us think about how to word a guideline that helps avoid those pitfalls. Mathglot (talk) 22:18, 25 March 2017 (UTC)