My view of Bios in WP:


I. Depth
I suggest the bios of people should be in proportion to their importance. The details of their work or other notability, obviously, but also the details of their personal life, unless that is their notability. I am concerned about such things as listing all directorships. Or divorces. Just a suggestion.DGG 00:18, 23 December 2006 (UTC)

II. Extent of biographical depth
I still think a good bio should always mention parents, siblings, and children. Mentioning the names, for me, is de riguer, but details beyond that may of less interest to most readers. To me, its what is verifiable, and that is dependent on whether someone took an interest in writing a biography in the past. If I am interested in an obscure person, I want to know everything about them, but that information may not be available because no one took the time to record the information, when it was available. In the past that was dependent on the marketability of the information collected since it was so expensive to publish. Now its cheaper to record more information on minor people. So how are your biographies going? --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) 00:35, 23 December 2006 (UTC)

III. I am not primarily working on bios, in general. Mostly, I've gotten involved only in context of AfD and the like, and only if it is necessary to rescue one--I can find content on almost anything, & I'll add content myself if necessary. What I try to rescue in an AfD is when the figure is religiously or politically controversial, & I think the deletion is being made for that reason. For PROD and Speedy, the only ones I can catch is when I recognize the name--and I do it for companies too, if I recognize them. You can see the sort of thing Im likely to recognize from my user page. Naturally, one article leads to another, but for the ones I see that way I can't take the time to source, & I limit it myself to what can be done fast, which is copyediting--especially small cuts to improve clarity--& usually only in the lead, and putting in obvious links if omitted. Or noticing irrelevant sections, like the details of a divorce or directorships, but I'll usually comment instead of deleting unless it's clear nobody has been editing there for a while.

Only ones I intend to add systematically are for academics in my subject, especially in information science, which has been much neglected. I have a birth date, that's enough personal life for the time being for most of them. :) If I have more at hand, I put in a paragraph.

I have not yet had the chance to do much along this line. If you want to see a really good project, look at List of geneticists, and the comment from the guy who's doing it, see just below.

Exception: Johannes Gutenberg. There's been some edit wars here & a lot of vandals, so I am accumulating material rather than adding it piece by piece. For someone like him, where there is relatively little known at all and almost none of it personal, I will add all the personal data I can find. It'll be two paragraphs, probably.
Another exception: Darwin. In this case there are details, literally day by day. He kept diaries--The Voyage of the Beagle is a condensation of one-- and letters. Furthermore, his work & life were intimately involved--he wrote stuff up only under pressure, and there are truly important influences otherwise. Even the illness of a child is notable & the death of some of them very much so. But they are notable because he is probably one of the two most influential figures in the 19th century, and of the two most influential scientists ever. (I am not actually working on this, because 2 very good people have taken it in hand.)
As for your comments: For people in general: Yes, I would include the name & dates of the wives and children if conveniently available. Ditto for parents. For many people in business history, the names of the other ancestors are very much relevant, and the circumstances of their early life & education (e.g.Edison)--and usually death, because people like to know that. Otherwise, only the events of their person life that would have been notable in their own right, like the survivor of the Col. Slocum (excellent article). For professional activities, I'd want the highlights & the dates, which might be more of less extensive depending on notability. Discussion of the work--depends on extent of discussion elsewhere in WP, but for less important people the bio is the place. Bibliography--depends on their importance. Darwin gets every scientific paper, and every book, and every contemporary edition of every book, because in his case he made scientifically important changes. Gutenberg gets every thing he printed, most of them scraps, especially since the older PD lists are incomplete. Professional positions--for academics I shorten the intermediate ones.

An exception: if the bio is in because of vanity, and the personal details as large as the vanity, then certainly I remove what I can.

The article on anything --- people, automobiles, books, is proportional to the importance. (Unless there is insufficient information.) The length guides the reader. And as for the editor's time, WP should try to get truly encyclopedic, and include any topic for which people would reasonably look here, and there's few hundred thousand to go. DGG 01:40, 23 December 2006 (UTC)

primary and secondary criteria for notabilityEdit

from Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Aaron Goode

  • 'Question/ Is the role of the secondary criteria to replace the primary criteria over the field they cover, to supplement it, by providing an alternative justification, or to add to it be requiring that both they and the publication criteria be met. As far as i can tell the official line is that they merely act as a shorthand for predicting whether the primary criterion is overwhelmingly likely or not to be met. If they are merely predictive, then an article with 2 RSs discussing his career would stand regardless of whether the ever subject actually played a game in any league at all. There is however only one source at present, but there would probably be another, and then he would be notable. Personally, I think that's nonsense, and the correct view is that they replace the primary criterion. Does that have general acceptance? Or is it only in sports that they replace it? 19:14, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

List of geneticistsEdit

from TBHecht: You asked: "Where are you getting them from? categories? ....I ask because it may serve as a example for the other such lists."

Thank you for contacting me (twice). I will try to relate my method (or methods) for developing the list of geneticists that I am in the process of assembling:

  • First, I am checking all the names on the automatic category listing of geneticists for suitabilty of inclusion in the list of geneticists.
  • Second, I am going through the online archives of genetics journals in search of obituaries of prominent geneticists. (An example is the American Journal of Human Genetics.)
  • Third, I am looking for geneticists of renown in the Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences. (This is an extraordinarily useful source of online biographical material for scientists of all kinds from around the world.)
  • Fourth, I network from one geneticist to the next. Networking is of critical importance. (To take an oversimplified example, I go from James Watson to Francis Crick and then to Maurice Wilkins who shared the Nobel Prize with them.)
  • Fifth, I google for missing information such as birth and death dates, nationality, achievements, etc. and try to fit all the information about one person on one line, if feasible.

I do have some personal acquaintance with the world of genetics (see my user page), and that helps, too.

BLP and its applicationEdit


I even know the basic political cleavages that underly the differences here, just as I know how in wikipedia one manages to be just a little non-obvious about them. To put it bluntly, I find it inconceivable that anyone who knows the soviet system could think that any Dignitary was not considerably involved with the KGB, and the question is really to what extent he was and how honest his claims of trying to ameliorate it are. I think it clear from the chronology that he tried to avoid the draft, as anyone would for any of a number of motives. I doubt that he didnt get the necessary paperwork doe when he married. I doubt that he lived in monastic asceticism. And I think it obvious that his opponents, knowing it is impossible to prove the reasonable serious accusations of political criminality, resort to insinuations about his character. I would give the bare facts of his marriage. and of where he lived, and if possible find a source which defends him and one that attack him, and simply refer to them. I think insinuation raise questions of BLP, and the present version approved by Jeepday is not acceptable. I've discussed it with him, and we disagree; he's going by the rules literally, and I by their intentions, and we each think that our method of doing it is right. (re Patriarch Alexius II, but not posted)

Going forwardEdit

We could assist this perhaps by having an explicit input form and standardized layout for bio articles in various fields--essentially this would be an extension of the infoboxes which already tend to duplicate the text in large part. It seems a little absurd to do everything twice, and I suggest that we perhaps adopt infoboxes as the basic format for many types of articles, to be automatically turned into prose if anyone really wants it to look like a conventional encyclopedia--and, in many cases, supplemented by free-form more conventional writing. This is in essence providing information for a semantic web, not conventional writing--but it has advantages, such as clarity, comparability, and search capability. If someone wants to see articles for everyone born in Seattle in 1960, they could do so. They could even print it out as a book.

The minority of wikipedians who actually have the skills to write coherent prose, or who are willing to learn, would still have enough scope in the famous people and the general articles. An actual printed example of this is Louis Kronenberger's "Atlantic Brief Lives: a Biographical Companion to the Arts."  (1965) which consists of 1081 one- or two-hundred word fairly standardized biographies of famous people writer by a small research staff--211 of which are supplemented by one- or two-thousand word diverse free-structured essays on the very most famous, written by distinguished critics or scholars. Browning gets a bio; Tennyson gets a bio plus an essay. Just as in WP, the choice depended considerably on whom the distinguished critics and scholars wanted to write about. (from Wikipedia-L)