Notability Discussion on Wikipedia

There is a discussion going on at Wikipedia regarding certain facets of the on-line encyclopedia’s controversial notability policy. At heart, it’s about where the line should be drawn between notable subjects (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and non-notable ones (Shitty Arnie, my wife’s cat), articles about which should be deleted.

There are two main issues with WP:Notability that need clarification by the community.
  1. Does every article need reliable third-party sources to prove it is notable, or can notability be inherited from another article?
  2. To what extent can the General Notability Guideline be overridden by specific notability guidelines such as WP:Notability (music) and WP:Notability (people)?

My utilitarian perspective on Wikipedia makes me an inclusionist: I don’t think notability should be a central concern for Wikipedia. There is no harm in having articles about topics that few readers are interested in: they take up very little storage space each. As for Wikipedia’s “image”, the encyclopedia is far too established to have to worry about that sort of thing.

Dear Reader, if you’re a Wikipedia contributor, why not check out the discussion and make your opinion known?

Comments

  1. #1 Hans Persson
    September 26, 2008

    I have now weighed in with my thoroughly negative view of notability guidelines.

  2. #2 ArchAsa
    September 26, 2008

    A wiki-related question to you who are more in the know. On several occasions, when clicking on a link in wikipedia to an entry, I have been prompted that there there is an unknown file to be opened and do I wish to do so or cancel. i always hit cancel of courde. It seems some entries have been made into completely separate files for opening/downloads rather than as a wiki-entry. Is this a known problem and should I report it somewhere.

    As a for instance, when I try to check out the entry for “virvelines keramikos kulturos” on the Lithuanian Wiki I get prompted to do this (Corded Ware culture for those of you who wonder…). But it has also happened on Swedish wiki, and on english, for completely different search words.

    As for notability, I am an avowed inclusionists. If I can’t use wikipedia to check out obscure fantasy fiction characters, or a minor supporting actor in an episode of a Swedish TV-show from the 70′s, then what is it for?

  3. #3 DianaGainer
    September 26, 2008

    I, too, agree that notability should not be the deciding criterion. After all, I don’t really need an encyclopedia to look up things that are already well known. I need one so I can look up obscure things. Isn’t that the whole point?

  4. #4 Tina Kubala
    September 28, 2008

    Isn’t anything an unpaid volunteer cares enough about to research and write about notable enough for inclusion?

    I’ve never (yet) edited a wiki. I do, however, link to Wikipedia on my blog all the time. It is so useful when you don’t want to give hundreds of words of background. I’ve linked to articles as diverse as “Franz Kafka” and “Torx wrenches.”

  5. #5 Jonathan Jarrett
    September 29, 2008

    That’s quite opposite to my policy. Although many of the articles are the best thing online for their given topic, and I use them without much fear for easily-checkable things like where places are or when someone died, and, increasingly, to find more official pages that don’t easily come up in search engines, I would never link to Wikipedia on my blog. The reason is that by Wikipedia’s very nature, that article could be changed or moved by anyone by the time someone follows my link. If I was citing it as evidence of a school of thought on a subject, someone from an opposing school of thought might even read my post, follow the link, be outraged and change it! It’s just not stable enough. It’s a brilliant resource to look things up in, but shouldn’t be linked to IMO.