Wikipedia:In the news/Death criteria

This page is intended for a centralized discussion about the present criteria about prominent recently deceased people. At issue is should the death criterion be changed to occasionally list one or two deaths of extremely notable people whose deaths don't warrant substantial article updates? In 2007 and 2008, the deaths of Pavarotti, Arthur C. Clarke, Edmund Hillary, Bobby Fischer, and Charlton Heston were not included because—despite their widely acknowledged notability and importance—their deaths fulfilled neither criteria 5 (no "substantial update" beyond acknowledging the date, cause, and possibly responses to the death) nor criteria 6 (no office, not unexpected, no larger impact).

The primary purpose of this discussion is to develop a consensus for new criteria that would permit the deaths of extremely notable and important people, even if the death is not unexpected nor warrants substantial updates to their article, to be included on the ITN template.

The secondary purpose of this discussion is to develop a consensus for incorporating these deaths onto the template in a systematic way.

Among the current criteria, the two suggested for revision are:

5. The bold link must lead to a newly created non-stub or a pre-existing article that has been substantially updated to reflect the new information. Changes in verb tense (e.g. "is" → "was") or updates that convey little or no new information beyond what is stated in the In the news blurb are insufficient.
6. A death should only be placed on ITN if it meets one of the following criteria:
(a) the deceased was in a high ranking office of power at the time of death,
(b) the deceased was a key figure in their field of expertise, and died unexpectedly or tragically,
(c) the death has a major international impact that affects current events. The modification or creation of multiple articles to take into account the ramifications of a death is a sign that it meets the third criterion.

There is an existing consensus that:

  • ITN is a portal for featuring up-to-date encyclopedic content reflecting important international current events;
  • The manner in which inclusion is determined is by editor nomination, discussion in light of criteria, and consensus-formation on the WP:ITN/C candidate forum;
  • Neither Wikipedia nor ITN are memorials and should not be used as obituaries;
  • Neither the death of any notable person nor acts of violence, accidents, or disasters involving large losses of life are sufficient for inclusion. More appropriate and exhaustive lists for these topics exist at Deaths in 2008 and Portal:Current Events respectively;
  • The unexpected death (whether by natural causes, accident, or violence) of a person in a prominent office or position may warrant inclusion (eg, national leaders, prominent experts, celebrated artists, etc.);
  • The unexpected death of a person precipitating a series of subsequent newsworthy events may warrant inclusion (eg, several Wikipedia articles in addition to a biography need to be updated).
  • There are people of extreme importance or notability whose deaths, even if not unexpected and not requiring major updates to their article, may warrant inclusion.
  • There should be no subsection of ITN that must constantly be populated with some deaths. However, there should be a regular and systematic mechanism for incorporating the deaths of extremely notable people on the ITN template.


In order not to have the same debate every time someone prominent in his/her field dies, this criteria need to be improved. Some of the recent debates were about Edmund Hillary, Bobby Fischer and Luciano Pavarotti. Fell free to write your comments. --Tone 21:11, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for the page. I'm not happy Bobby Fischer was removed but was even less happy Sir Ed was not included. I feel an issue with criteria (b) - the person has to have died unexpectedly or tragically. As someone mentioned on the previous talk page and with all due respect to Mr. Neil Armstrong, would his death not be worthy of inclusion on ITN? I don't think so. Would he meet any of the criteria above? Probably not. Maybe there needs a criteria (d) - When the death is of great public interest. Boomshanka (talk) 21:46, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
This proposal makes sense. However, in order to prevent ITN to become a memorial section, this great public interest has to be defined a bit more. As someone previously pointed out, Anne Nicole Smith's passing received a huge media coverage for example but wouldn't go in the ITN. Some people who pass 5a and 5c, Benazir Bhutto with international impact and Thomas Klestil who died in office. The criteria (b) is a bit loose. Maybe we should omit it totally and use Recent deaths instead? In any case, there should be not more than one death post in the template at a time. --Tone 22:09, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
Good, I'm glad we're talking about this right away. I agree with Boomshanka's proposal, though it still requires a judgment call. Unfortunately, public interest can't be quantified. Or can it? If someone's death is likely to be the topic of news headlines around the world, that would meet my standard for international notability. Sir Edmund Hillary's death was mentioned on A1 of the Ottawa Citizen, as was Bobby Fischer's. I no longer recall, but I'm sure that Pavarotti's death also made A1. That's only one newspaper (though a newspaper not from the native country of any of those three men), but I believe that the death of each of these men was considered newsworthy around the world, which is reason enough for it to be on ITN. I believe that people this internationally recognized do not die every day, so there's little chance of ITN becoming an obituary page.
If you want to make it absolutely clear cut, so that there can be no debate, you could pick a few significant international newspapers and require the person's death to make the front page on, say, half or two thirds of them. If someone's death is considered newsworthy in New York, London, and Moscow, it's probably pretty newsworthy. DOSGuy (talk) 22:34, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
The newspaper idea is nice but internet should be considered as well. Newspapers have one day delay in fact, we want to be faster. By the way, the newspaper I usually read had Fischer and Hillary on the last page and usually keeps politics and economy for the front page. --Tone 22:55, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
I recall Pavarotti's death making the front page of the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, but I'm not 100% sure...

The newspaper idea is really flawed, since a story in the Commonwealth might make the front page in London, Sydney and Toronto but ignored in New York, Tokyo and Paris. One thing I think that should merit inclusion is if it is announced the deceased will have a state funeral. --Plasma Twa 2 (talk) 23:16, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Well, my point was that it would demonstrate international media attention, rather than just national or regional interest. There's more than one way to judge if "the death is of great public interest." If you want to eliminate the need for a judgment call and make the criteria quantifiable, that would do it.
I think a state funeral is a good indicator of a person's notability, but Bobby Fischer obviously won't be getting one, and it's at least possible for someone who is enormously important to his or her nation, but totally unheard of elsewhere, to receive a state funeral. DOSGuy (talk) 01:51, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
That comment wasn't reall about Fischer. We need to decide what other criteria we can do for others, but if someone gets a state funeral I believe they should be on the itn. A state funeral means they are of some internation importance. --Plasma Twa 2 (talk) 02:06, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree, for the most part. A few years ago, Canada started talking about having a state funeral when the last World War I veteran dies. There is now only one surviving veteran, and his family has declined a state funeral. Canada will likely have a special ceremony on behalf of all World War I veterans instead, but it could have had a state funeral for a specific individual, and other nations may do the same for their last survivor of World War I, or any other war. That individual will have symbolic significance to the nation, but their passing wouldn't be of great public interest in any other country. Maybe it's not a great example, but it demonstrates a possible exception to that criteria. DOSGuy (talk) 02:39, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I know of the veteran (I'm Canadian). Of course, there is obvious exeptions; for this I would have a blurb on itn when the last veteran in the world dies. People like presidents and prime ministers are really debatable, so I'm not going to touch those. --Plasma Twa 2 (talk) 02:49, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
I just added Heath Ledger - the fact he was a recognised leader in his field (Oscar nominated) and died at an early age (28) unexpectedly seemed to fit the criteria - presumably this is acceptable? Neıl 23:43, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
I personally have no problems with having Heath on ITN. He is certainly the most unexpecte death to be conisdred since Benoit last year... The key part is what is annoying most people, however... He was a Oscar nominee and was getting considerable buzz for his upcoming apperance as the Joker, but... --Plasma Twa 2 (talk) 00:18, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
The fact that some people are even considering Heath Ledger's death for ITN shows that there is a real problem with criteria b. Considering him the top in his field is a huge stretch, but even if he was there would be an obvious slant towards people who are in more public fields, as opposed to if someone like Linus Torvalds died (who is much more "at the top of his field", but much less well known and who's death be much less reported in the media). In order to prevent ITN from being filled up with nothing except deaths, criteria b really needs to be an extreame exception rather than a regular basis for additions to ITN. If the pope/president/prime minister gets assinated (criteria a) it needs to be mentioned and criteria c is ok as well, as it is the extream senario, and the criteria almost reaches the "need to create an article about the death itself" type senario. Problem is that people of the notablity of Heath Ledger die every single day --T-rex 03:37, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
That's absurd. Oscar nominees don't drop everyday, nor does anybody else. Where are all the candidates dying that support your claim? --Plasma Twa 2 (talk) 04:26, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Well wikipedia happens to keep a list of them. I have no problem finding 20 there who are just as notable as Heath Ledger. If you want to be more specific and limit yourself to just oscar nominees the situation doesn't change much. Over the past 79 years 847 people have been nominated for an Oscar, which would indicate an average of one Oscar Nominee dying every month. Considering that acting is far from the only notable occupation, people of the notablity of Heath Ledger die every single day. --T-rex 22:42, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Very few of those were unexpected or tragic such as Heath Ledgers death Lympathy Talk 15:29, 28 July 2008 (UTC)


How about we come at this from the other direction and list deaths that remained listed on ITN? The ones I recall are Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and John Garang, with John Paul II's item actually being 'stickied' at the top of ITN for some time. In the first two cases, articles specifically about the death and funeral were created: Death and state funeral of Ronald Reagan and Funeral of Pope John Paul II, while in the latter the sudden death of Garang led to all manner of related and necessary updating of Second Sudanese Civil War, Salva Kiir Mayardit, etc. In practice, only criterion (c) seems to be observed and I would suggest the dropping of (a) and (b) as simply too subjective. Using newspapers, which will always place their hometown heroes on the front page, as a measure has similar problems so only on wiki editing should count.

On a more personal note, I was dismayed when the deaths criteria was used to nix the listing of giants Milton Friedman and James Brown. The fact that it can be used to support listing a figure of middling stature like Heath Ledger (with some hesitation about critiquing the recently deceased), just proves that I completely screwed up when I originally wrote the criteria and I welcome the opportunity to tighten it up. Note that I do not consider adding an addendum to the final film of a deceased actor to count as "a major international impact" under (c), which may indicate that we'll simply transfer the continuous arguments over listing deaths to this phrase as editors will always argue that people they feel a connection to fit the criteria or merit an exception. :/ - BanyanTree 04:45, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

I'm not sure the fact that he was of 'middling stature' should disclude him from the list - Wikipedia is for people, all of us - and a lot of us people would have found the nature of his death news-worthy. Conversely Hillary and Fischer, et al, should have made it for their 'News-worthy' status - to exclude them because they died 'expectedly' would be going against the principle of 'news' - keeping people informed.
Proposal : 1/ add a (d) - When the death is of great public interest - criteria. I'm sure a consensus could be reached at the ITN nomination page as to its news-worthy-ness.
2/ Alternatively if it needs to be quantified, take a poll of major News publications and see percentile who carrys the story vs those who don't. This was mentioned above by DOSguy.
3/ No more deaths in ITN.
I think this issue needs to get resolved before everyone dies and no-one finds out about it. Boomshanka (talk) 05:22, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Taking a poll of newspapers would not so much hinder the objective of ITN, as miss the point of the template entirely. It is to highlight updated encyclopedic articles, not mimic a newspaper. The most basic argument is that any biography meeting notability is encyclopedic and the death of that person is encyclopedic. We're clearly past the point when we think listing every death of a person with a Wikipedia bio is in the best interests of the Main Page, as indicated by the creation of a separate Recent deaths page, so we're at the stage of figuring out what filter to use for ITN. I would argue that using newspaper coverage is an awful way of determining encyclopedic viability- see Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Corey Delaney and Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Allison Stokke (second nomination) for proof that Wikipedia standards for inclusion differ significantly from those of other media. The argument about "the principle of 'news'" is invalid because ITN is not a news service and never has been. I thought that "high ranking office of power" and "key figure in their field of expertise" would narrow the candidates to those with broad consensus among editors, but have been proven wrong. Your first proposal might be viable, if we can convince admins that they will need to seek approval before adding deaths they think are worthy. I think John Paul II would have passed easily, while Ronald Reagan might have run into accusations of U.S.-centrism and John Garang would have run into "who cares?" opposition. Your third proposal is clearly viable, though one could argue that the near-world summit of John Paul II's funeral and political instability following Garang's death were the story, not the deaths themselves, and would be worthy of ITN regardless of a "no deaths" rule. - BanyanTree 06:26, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Why isn't ITN a news section? Why does it have "news" in the title? Of course the deaths of Ronald Reagan and John Garang were noted on there, as they should be. I am surprised the sentence on Ledger's death was removed, frankly, with such dismissals as "of middling importance" - I don't feel strongly about the guy either way, but it would seem a more notable event (Oscar-nominated actor dies at the age of 28, massive media coverage) than two activists being arrested for trespassing on a whaling ship, a story that's been on ITN for a few days now - there seems to have been an over-reaction along the lines of "oh my god ITN will be overrun with recent deaths so we can't have any on the main page". There also seems an element of exclusivity against pop culture. If a Nobel-nominated scientist had died unexpectedly at the age of 28, or a leading baseball player, it would (quite rightly), have been added with no kerfuffle. My suggestion would be to have one death, and only one, featured on ITN. When someone else particularly notable per the current criteria (which are fine for this purpose) dies, swap them in. If noone particularly notable has died recently, don't have a death entry. It shouldn't be complicated. Neıl 09:36, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Correcting mischaracterizations of my own words is tedious and boring, and I don't care enough to do so in this case. I'll leave you to it. Good luck, BanyanTree 12:03, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for your mature and constructive response. Neıl 16:19, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm going to have to agree with Neil. The idea that ITN will be overrun with deaths is highly unlikely, and so the slippery slope idea just isn't sitting well with me. The discussion over the death criteria happens periodically -- not constantly -- because we have deaths of arguable significance periodically -- not constantly. I think there is an impression here that pop culture news is almost never important, while political news almost always is. While I might be inclined to agree with that, this section is entitled "In the News", not "What We Think Should Be In the News". Thus, we should be highlighting unique stories that are in the news extensively, internationally; the death of Heath Ledger, unfortunately or fortunately, is/was one of those. -- tariqabjotu 21:33, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm also going to have to agree with Neil and Tariqabjotu. I see that this policy is being used to exclude the death of Suharto. The man was president of the fourth largest country in the world for over three decades, and had a huge impact on the shape and direction of the country. A week of mourning has been declared. He was their Roosevelt or Lincoln. If Lincoln died tommorow would his death make ITN? (Suharto's death is excluded from ITN while the results of the men's world handball championship are highlighted?) Yes, there should be a significance threshold, but this (and the deaths of Garang and Reagan) clearly fall on the right side of this. Suharto's death is a significant event - he had great influence even in his last years. I was stunned when I couldn't find his death in there - it was the lead item for many news services yesterday. We also need to be aware of systematic bias issues, and try not to privilege the deaths of Americans and British (as we are so good at doing). To sum up importance or significance of the person in question should be the criteria.
I appreciate BanyanTree's concerns, but we risk falling into proceduralism here. Policy needs to be flexible, and there will always be important deaths that don't fall neatly into one little box.

Mostlyharmless (talk) 22:57, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Not to bring up everyone's favorite word, but the current ITN requirements for a death seem unnecessarily biased toward politicians. Why is it that if you excell in that singular field your death is considered newsworthy, but if you excell in one of the many other fields of human acheivement your death is relegated to the recent deaths link? I realize that if more categories of acheivement are allowed, it will make it harder for editors in each case to decide who should and who should not be included in ITN. However, I think the discussion will lead to a stronger ITN, and a stronger front page, especially if it means the inclusion of people such as Sir Edmund Hillary and Arthur C. Clarke. In addition, the criteria requiring an unexpected or tragic death is silly. Don't even tempt me to make a list of all the notable historical people this would exclude from the front page. Newsboy85 (talk) 16:22, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Where is the consensus to insert the death of key figures in a field only if the death is unexpected? It may be arguable that we should avoid the death of figures who were notable fifty years ago and are forgotten, but Clarke did not drop out of sight, and Hillary is not forgotten. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:13, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Overwhelming notability?Edit

There are many notable people who pass all the time and there is a place for that news at: Deaths in 2008. However, in cases such as Hilary, Suharto, Pavarotti, and Clarke who were not only giants (or tyrants with regard to Suharto) in their field, as has been repeatedly alluded, the death criterion is far too stringent. The sudden or violent death of a political leader should obviously be included, I think that much we can agree upon. However, in cases where a person's notability is so overwhelming (I of course assume a continuous or scaled, rather than binary, value for notability) as to transcend the boundaries of every other member populating their discipline or profession, why should we not include them? This is to suggest that there is a cohort of people whose notability eschews what or how many awards they have, books published, years ruled, etc. but have left an indelible impact upon the psyche of humanity. I would say that most Nobel Prize\Pulitzer\Academy Award\etc. winners would never make the cut since they never transcended their field. However, Hilary will always be the first to scale the last mountain, Pavarotti the singer who introduced the modern world to opera, and Clarke the intellectual giant with prescient technosocial foresight. What are we to do when other heroes pass? Their memory and the efforts of the editors of their article deserve more than an obligatory bullet-pointed entry on a rarely-visited page. Indeed, we as editors can do better than blind proceduralism which has unfortunately hampered this process in the past (despite WP:IAR). Madcoverboy (talk) 22:14, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

I agree, and there seems to be a consensus that the death criteria are too strict. But we need some good wording to replace that of the existing policy. Any ideas? -- Mwalcoff (talk) 03:12, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
See the discussion here for a proposed idea. SpencerT♦C 16:36, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

Moved from talkEdit

Copied from Template talk:In the news Madcoverboy (talk) 02:35, 16 April 2008 (UTC)


I dispute the existence of any special criterion on deaths. The rest of the criteria are either that we should have a good article on the subject, or that the event should be important; there is no other criterion on substance. While WP is not a memorial, some deaths are important, and should be entered; no single sentence can delineate which. Is there clear evidence that this criterion expresses consensus? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:20, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

None of that matters in the case of Arthur C. Clarke (whom you referenced in your edit summary), given the fact that the article still hasn't been substantially updated beyond the mere indication that Clarke died. If you were to put together a decent Death section (documenting the international response and ramifications), you'd have a better chance of making headway in this instance. If there is insufficient available information on which to base such an update, that illustrates one of the main reasons why the death criteria (which, for the record, I believe should be broadened to include more deaths) exist. —David Levy 19:00, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
My edit summary was automatic; and that argument on Sir Arthur would be valid whether there was a death section or not. Substantially updated to reflect the new information would still be in the criteria. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:30, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Okay, thanks for clarifying. :-) —David Levy 19:34, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
We may need something to say that we are not a memorial service. How about Wikipedia is not a memorial. A person's death is generally somewhat less newsworthy than the achievements for which he is notable, except when, as in the case of assassinations, the death is itself newsworthy. In the News cannot chronicle the death of every living person on which we have an article; but some people are so notable that their deaths are the most newsworthy event of the day., if we require a substitute? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:39, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure that we should link to WP:NOT#MEMORIAL, as that advises users not to write memorial articles about non-notable people.
Perhaps we could combine criteria "a," "b" and "c" into a single, simplified item. If there's consensus to eliminate the "died unexpectedly or tragically" wording, I believe we also can eliminate the "high ranking office of power at the time of death" and "key figure in his or her field of expertise" wording and simply state something along the lines of the following:
A death should be added only if the deceased was internationally well-known and his/her death has resulted in a major international impact that affects current events (often evidenced by the modification or creation of multiple articles to take into account the ramifications). A death meeting this criterion should not be added until the other inclusion criteria have been satisfied, irrespective of the deceased individual's recognition, importance or (un)popularity.
Opinions? —David Levy 20:38, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
the deceased was internationally very well-known or his/her death has resulted in a major international impact might be better. We do, I think, want the possibility of obits on Clarke or Hillary, which are major news even if they don't provoke international rioting. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:27, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
I don't think we want obits on anyone. This is an encylopaedic, not a newspaper, try wikinews if you want obits Nil Einne (talk) 11:40, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

I wanted to invite everyone to join the discussion at Wikipedia:In the news section on the Main Page/Death criteria, as it seems obvious this discussion is not going to accomplish anything. Newsboy85 (talk) 19:04, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Based on these discussions, might I suggest a section on the main page related to recent deaths? Some things aren't appropriate for ITN, and deaths are frequently following into this category. See the German Main Page for a possible idea of what this could look like. I'm really not a big fan of including deaths in ITN (nless they follow criteria 5), so maybe this could work out. I'm not really sure, but I think we could do this. Comments? SpencerT♦C 21:52, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Isn't it called Recent deaths? Madcoverboy (talk) 21:58, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Then why are we having these debates? That's what I'm not understanding. SpencerT♦C 23:37, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Because under the criteria and justifications being espoused here, if Jimmy Carter, Margaret Thatcher, Neil Armstrong, Paul McCartney, Nelson Mandela, or Noam Chomsky (among living people with vital articles, former national leaders, explorers, and artists) died tomorrow, their death would not be covered on ITN. But it appears that people are ok with that... Madcoverboy (talk) 01:45, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Most of those deaths will have "a major international impact that affects current events," thereby qualifying them under death criterion "c" and giving us something to write about beyond the mere fact that they died. —David Levy 05:47, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
I don't see how these deaths would have any more of an international impact affecting current events. Many of them are private citizens now with no notability besides their illustrious histories, their deaths wouldn't be unexpected, and what would there be to significantly alter about their articles? Madcoverboy (talk) 06:05, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
The deaths of Jimmy Carter, Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela, and probably Neil Armstrong will elicit significant responses from high-ranking officials around the world. Certainly in the cases of the first three, numerous past and present world leaders will attend the funerals, and that absolutely will qualify as major international impact (and give us plenty of new information to write about). —David Levy 06:16, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
(undent) Those are all valid points, but why privilege the passing one type of super-notable person (politicians) over others. Certainly, legitimate arguments were presented that the ACC nom didn't meet other ITN criteria, but most opposes hinged on the current death criteria. So I ask again, if McCartney, Armstrong, or Chomsky died and the nomination fulfilled all the ITN criteria save the current death criteria, should ITN cover it? Madcoverboy (talk) 16:35, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Note that a death need only meet one of the three death criteria (which Arthur C. Clarke's death didn't) to qualify for inclusion (provided that the non-death-related criteria are met). Death criteria "a" and "b" are very specific (and I believe overly so, which I why I favor their removal), but death criterion "c" is not. If anyone's death (irrespective of his/her profession) results in "a major international impact that affects current events," it satisfies the death criteria. If that doesn't occur, what is there to write about beyond the mere fact that the person died? —David Levy 17:05, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
@Madcoverboy; nope, there's no extract of "recent deaths" on the English wiki on the /front page/, as there is on the German wiki in order to give a nod to those recently-deceased prominent persons.
@Spencer; re. "I'm not really sure, but I think we could do this." - thanks; I'd happily go with that, if possible, since it more-or-less resolves the "issues" here (and ongoing, continuing debate) for the sake of a few lines of front-page real estate. And, of course, since entry to that front-page "deaths" box still requires the individual to have been reasonably prominent, there is no "need" for more than their name to be given (whereas the general ITNs at present do often need much more background explanation). Harami2000 (talk) 03:54, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Precisely. Is anyone else up for a deaths box like on the German wiki? See: de:Hauptseite. It would solve all of our problems. We would just list the names and we wouldn't have to give an explanation about what they did, they would be famous in and of themselves...of course, we'd need criteria... like: 1. the deceased was a key figure in his or her field of expertise. 2. the deceased was in a high ranking office at any point in there life. 3. the death has a major international impact that affects current events (?). SpencerT♦C 16:30, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
I don't mean to insult here but on a global scale can Jimmy Carter really be compared to Margaret Thatcher, Neil Armstrong, Paul McCartney, Nelson Mandela or Noam Chomsky? He seems to be making it into that random select list purely because he spent some years living in the White House - 4 in fact as he didn't even make a second term and left as a deeply unpopular man. If that is the case shouldn't deaths of all leaders from Indonesia, China or India make it onto ITN too? Indeed someone from a much smaller country could be said to have had more historic relevance, i.e. Mary Robinson or Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. If it's the Nobel Prize - well that presents its own problems - including the death of every Nobel Laureate in existence? --➨♀♂Candlewicke ST # :) 17:25, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

Proposed compromiseEdit

As most deaths fail to meet our inclusion criteria, I think that a reasonable compromise would be create a subsection of In the news (with different tense and a smaller font size) in which we list one recent death at a time. Here's an example [updated 23:46, 22 March 2008 (UTC)]:

In the news


On 19 March, Sir Arthur C. Clarke died at the age of 90. (Read about his life...)

Given the emphasis on reading about the person's life and writing about his/her death (as opposed to reading about his/her death), we could list said individual as soon as the appropriate article no longer indicates that he/she is alive. If and when it's updated to meet the regular ITN criteria, we could switch to a standard entry and list a different death in the subsection. Opinions? —David Levy 18:24, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

Hmmm, perhaps the "write about his death" part should be removed, given the fact that there isn't always much to write about. —David Levy 18:29, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
That's a good idea. I would also be in favour of relaxing the ITN criteria in the specific cased of deaths. Few would debate that Arthur C Clarke is one of the most well known sci-fi writers. Hinging his inclusion on death criteria seems like a bit of a waste of what is an interesting and different story for ITN. However, David's solution seems like a good compromise. Would there be a way to collapse that box if there was no recent notable death? Random89 19:04, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm thinking that we could transclude an embedded template via an #ifexist construct and simply delete that template when it isn't in use.
Incidentally, I also favor relaxing the death criteria, but the main purpose of the above proposal is to sidestep the article update criterion (which applies to every entry, but often is difficult or impossible to satisfy in the case of a death).
I recall reading the compelling argument that when someone this notable dies, many people want to read about his/her life (even if little information about his/her death is available), and I believe that this would be a good means of linking to such an article without misleading our readers (many of whom otherwise would expect to find the nonexistent content). —David Levy 19:27, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Comment: I suggest you do this: "March 19 – Sir Arthur C. Clarke died at the age of 90. (Read about his life...)" Maybe the date is inappropriate, and I would definitely recommend using past tense when there's a death, even though ITN requires the use of present tense. I'm on the fence about the picture...I'm thinking no, but I suppose with one person it doesn't hurt. However, if two people die, only one picture.
Is there a way to see how this would affect the mainpage look as a whole? With this, we might need to add another DYK to balance the page. SpencerT♦C 22:46, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
I've implemented a variant of your suggestion (using a complete sentence). I've left the photograph, but that obviously is optional.
Here is what it would look like on the main page. Depending on their respective lengths, we could either add an entry to DYK or remove one from ITN (the latter of which often contains too many items anyway). —David Levy 23:46, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Looks nice! I say remove from ITN unless it's pretty recent, and then ask the DYK crew for an extra if there are a lot of ITN points. How and where do we propose this? SpencerT♦C 19:16, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
I definitely support the addition of a Recent Deaths section at the bottom of ITN, but I don't think we need the photo, especially if it's going to be that small. Here's a more minimalist example of what could be done. I'm not sure about including the date of death: it would be a bit weird to have dates for recent deaths but not for the other ITN items. Pruneautalk 23:42, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
The photograph certainly isn't essential. As for the wording (including the date), the idea is to deliberately make the death item appear different from the others (to stress the fact that the article in question provides a great deal of information about the individual's life, but not about his/her death). —David Levy 02:45, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

(Remarginate)I like the idea of a recent deaths separate from the general ITN, and would favour Pruneau's minimalist example, but we still need a consensus of who gets in there rather than resting (pardon the pun) at WP:Recent Deaths. Since ACC, 25 people deemed notable enough to have an article have died: by what criteria will we say that which of them would have displaced ACC from his place on the front page. Kevin McE (talk) 15:52, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps these (?): 1. the deceased was a key figure in his or her field of expertise. 2. the deceased was in a high ranking office at any point in there life. 3. the death has a major international impact that affects current events.
I believe that this section on the main page would be for notable people, not just a nobody who had a notable death (say, thrown off of the highest building on earth), and that simply their name would be enough to generally recognize who the person was. SpencerT♦C 18:38, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

The point of ITNEdit

Part of the debate about "natural" deaths on ITN seems to focus on the lack of substantial updates to the article. The objection is that ITN is supposed to point people to recently updated articles, and articles about people like Arthur C. Clarke and James Brown won't have much on their unremarkable deaths.

But I think we ought to reconsider the assumption there. This isn't Wikinews. People who want lots of recently updated text on recent events should be pointed to Wikinews. IMO, the point of ITN should be to help people find background information on topics "in the news." Because that's what an encyclopedia is for. When you think of it that way, it makes sense to include the deaths of extremely notable people on ITN. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 00:21, 23 March 2008 (UTC)

Please see my above proposal. —David Levy 00:43, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I saw that, but I still prefer including very notable deaths with other ITN items rather than creating a new sub-section of ITN. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 21:41, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
The current death criteria is good enough. The only way it failed was on Edmund Hillary's (or even Pavarotti's) death, other wise, it would've been fine. We could always invoke WP:IAR but only for the most general disciplines. Obscure things such as science fiction are rightfully omitted or else we'll go in a slippery slope. --Howard the Duck 08:37, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

Another proposalEdit

In the news


David Levy's proposed compromise reminded me of the Main Page of the Dutch language Wikipedia. The left column of the page shows, from top to bottom, the Featured Article, ITN, DYK, Recent deaths, On this day, an overview of the Featured content and interwiki links. Would having a separate Recent deaths section in the right column of our Main Page help end the eternal discussion? AecisBrievenbus 12:59, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

I really don't think we'd need a separate section, since it is not that helpful to our readers to find out who died recently. The current setup is fine already since:
  • If the person died of old age, more than likely people knew of his achievements already; unless he is relatively unknown or if his specialty is too specialized (such as science fiction). And there's really nothing much to update.
  • If the person died at the height of his career, it'll be better to show his/her achievements to give perspective, especially if s/he died while at the line of work. --Howard the Duck 14:27, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
(edit conflict) The German Wikipedia also has such a box, as was pointed out by Spencer. I'm not too fond of it: because the box is there, there is a need to always have at least two or three names listed in it. When no major figure has died recently, this leads to including people who are not "very notable". I think we should allow the possibility that no deaths at all are listed on the Main Page at some moments, and that isn't practical if recent deaths have their own box. I like David Levy's proposal better, or the minimalist version posted at the beginning of this subsection. Pruneautalk 14:37, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Pruneau...I think that it's the notable figures that should be used, and perhaps a collapsable box as suggested above (somewhere) when there are no real major death. I prefer the minimalist example, by the way. SpencerT♦C 00:37, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
Coming in late here sorry. It may make for more work deciding who is included but I support including persons who have already appeared in recent deaths. Pruneau's minimization of David Levy's box looks perfect. Linking to the article name will save some precious main page space. If the box disappears that's fine but if three babies are born every minute someone dies about as often. If some are less recognizable names, that's ok. Also wanted to mention that obituaries are rich sources for Wikipedia and that giving space for deaths will help the project receive more updates (I wouldn't require this in advance). -Susanlesch (talk) 01:04, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
I actually prefer the larger version by David Levy. I think its important to keep it clear that it is a subset of ITN, and not a new "recent deaths" template. As I suggested below, along with a bunch of other things, all deaths featured (for lack of a better word) should go through ITN/C. Not all people for recent deaths should be by default put on the main page. It would only have to be expanded when someone notable dies, and it is agreed upon through the candidates page. Otherwise it should remain hidden or collapsed or something like that. Since it would not be there permanently, that is why I support Davids version. Random89 06:03, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Death Criteria (again)Edit

In the midst of the debate over the inclusion of Charlton Heston's death on ITN, and keeping in mind the discussion caused by Clarke, Hillary, and Pavarotti not being included, I think it is time to take another look at alternatives for how we deal with non-surprise (i.e. old age or long-term illness) deaths. Since there is most likely not a compromise to simply reword the death criteria to foster more inclusion, as most of these normal deaths do not result in major article updates, I believe the best solution would be to adopt a special part of the template to devote to a notable death. A good example of this is David Levy's proposal:

In the news


On 19 March, Sir Arthur C. Clarke died at the age of 90. (Read about his life...)

Perhaps that box would mention the death for ~4 days, which is about average for a conventional ITN entry; would never hold more than 2 deaths; would collapse if no recent notable deaths had occurred; and would still have potential entries be submitted through WP:ITN/C to avoid violating WP:NOT#MEMORIAL. These guidelines and the new template would give us the ability to link to quality articles about people recently deceased without changing the true scope of ITN. Random89 06:53, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

See the continuing discussion above: Template talk:In the news#Dispute...somewhat down the link. SpencerT♦C 10:46, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Consensus for ITN death criteriaEdit

Whereby many editors have expressed displeasure at the inflexibility of WP:ITNMP criteria for including the deaths of notable people like Hillary, Pavaratti, Clarke, and Heston, a consensus exists that:

Existing consensusEdit

  • ITN is a portal for featuring up-to-date encyclopedic content reflecting important international current events;
  • The manner in which inclusion is determined is by editor nomination, discussion in light of criteria, and consensus-formation on the WP:ITN/C candidate forum
  • Neither Wikipedia nor ITN are memorials and should not be used as obituaries
  • Neither the death of any notable person nor acts of violence, accidents, or disasters involving large losses of life are sufficient for inclusion. More appropriate and exhaustive lists for these topics exist at Deaths in 2008 and Portal:Current Events respectively.
  • The unexpected death (whether by natural causes, accident, or violence) of a person in a prominent office or position may warrant inclusion (eg, national leaders, prominent experts, celebrated artists, etc.)
  • The unexpected death of a person precipitating a series of subsequent newsworthy events may warrant inclusion (eg, several Wikipedia articles in addition to a biography need to be updated)
Artfully reworded by Madcoverboy (talk) 06:25, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

Proposed changesEdit

  • The death of any person of significant exceptional historical importance, influence, or prominence may warrant inclusion (eg, Wikipedia has identified their article as vital, core, or essential)
Support as nominator Madcoverboy (talk) 06:25, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
Support -- Grant.Alpaugh 07:42, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
Oppose. I support broadening ITN criteria to allow more deaths, but I'd restrict it to people of exceptional notability, lest we wind up with too many death entries. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 02:51, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
So among the perhaps two or three dozen living people who have vital, core, or essential articles, this is still too broad a criterion? Please suggest another specific criterion to be used instead. Madcoverboy (talk) 05:40, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Oppose --PlasmaTwa2 04:14, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Support as a minimum People with vital, core, or essential articles should definitely go up. There are some other people that would also, but that seems like a good point to start from. Random89 17:40, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Support. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 09:51, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
Support. -Susanlesch (talk) 21:08, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
  • Deaths should be mentioned in the same body and style as other ITN headlines
Support as nominator Madcoverboy (talk) 06:25, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
Support 07:42, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
Support -- Mwalcoff (talk) 02:51, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
  • Deaths should be separated into a subsection from the rest of ITN headlines (see proposals by David Levy and Pruneau)
Oppose Segregating the death section seems to be setting us up to lowering the bar for inclusion as well as complicating implementation for unfamiliar/drive-by admins. If we are already subjecting the nomination to exactly the same consensus process as before, why not make the outcome the same as well? Madcoverboy (talk) 06:25, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
Support This compromise seems to be the best opportunity to appease everyone. While I think you're correct to point out that this "lowers the bar," I don't think it does so in any monumental way. Also, as a means of providing new content to template, this allows us to highlight important people who have died (I think people who have at any point in their lives been at the pinnacle of their field or international political importance like Mother Theresa or retired leaders from prominent countries should go in the new section), while preserving the integrety of the "normal" ITN area as well. I probably could have worded things better, but I'm tired. Hope you at least get my point. -- Grant.Alpaugh 07:42, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
Oppose. I'd rather have fewer ITN death entries and include them with the rest of ITN than have more death entries in a separate little nook. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 02:51, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Support The Germans got it right. --PlasmaTwa2 04:14, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Conditional weak support. I wouldn't be outright opposed to this as long as David's version of the template is used. My feelings here are that I don't believe the standards of inclusion should change, but maybe a notable recent death (such as Clarke or Hillary) could be placed in a separate, collapsible, box if their article is not updated. [Clarification: I mean change compared to the above proposal, not to how they are now] Random89 17:44, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Strong Support Only if there's a collapsable box, and I prefer a minimalist, but still separate box (e.g. picture-less version of David). SpencerT♦C 02:30, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
Support -Susanlesch (talk) 21:09, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
  • Deaths should be added as a separate subsection (in addition to normal ITN inclusion for exceptional cases), see proposals by David Levy and Pruneau.
Support Pruneau box. -Susanlesch (talk) 15:03, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
As I said above, I oppose Pruneau's version as I think it would lead to too much inclusion and does not really seem to be part of ITN, but more of a subset of our recent deaths page. It looks good, but I don't think it is quite what we should want for ITN. Random89 17:37, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
And as I said above I support a new main page subsection. I can't speak for "we" only me. And I think David Levy's version is nice but it is out of character with the main page and that it has been evaluated and improved by Pruneau. Pruneau's font size is the same as the main page size for one, and it takes less screen real estate to link to a name than to both list a person and then say click here. -Susanlesch (talk) 19:46, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
Support Only if there's a collapsable box, and I prefer a minimalist, but still separate box (e.g. David's version sans picture). SpencerT♦C 02:30, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
Question, by "collapsible" did you mean you prefer a box with state collapsed, like just for example in Template:Navbox, or did you mean a box that appears and disappears depending on current events? -Susanlesch (talk) 08:29, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
I meant box that appears or disappears based on if there's anyone notable that died. SpencerT♦C 22:29, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

Other commentsEdit

I find myself unable to weigh in above, as I believe that the proposal for a separate subsection has been misunderstood. The idea is not to stop including death-related entries in the main section; it's to create a means of including items pertaining to extremely notable people's deaths that don't result in substantial article updates (a current requirement of all entries). This addresses the fact that it's common for there to be little to write about beyond stating that the individual has died, but many people will want to read about his/her life (and possibly even improve the article).
No one is suggesting that we disallow the inclusion of standard entries in instances in which the "substantial update" criterion is met (as is likely to occur when past or present high-ranking political/religious leaders die or when the cause of death is something other than illness or old age). I even noted that we could post the blurbs immediately and move them up to the main section if/when the requisite updates occur. —David Levy 06:38, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Right, there needs to be a way so that if George H. W. Bush, Prince Charles, or any other extremely notable person dies that isn't currently at the top level of their field as they have retired or something they are featured on ITN because there will be international coverage/interest in their life/death. If Jimmy Carter or Tony Blair died of natural causes tomorrow there would be a million people arguing that they shouldn't go up, which is silly. There needs to be a place for ITN to recognize deaths that get a tremendous ammount of coverage and draw international interest, regardless of whether they take place after someone has since retired or stopped doing what made them notable. -- Grant.Alpaugh 08:54, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
I agree, but I don't believe that this is disputed. Under the current rules, it's highly unlikely that any of the above deaths would be omitted; each would result in a major international impact and would lead to a substantial article update. —David Levy 09:09, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Well, Jimmy Carter would be disputed... --PlasmaTwa2 14:54, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
That's a joke, right? :-) —David Levy 21:30, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes, cause that is hilarious. :P We disputed Ford, we'd get arguements over Carter if we tried to put him up like it is right now. --PlasmaTwa2 21:42, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Maybe some brainstorming. What about having a list of people (like Wiki core articles) and if anyone from the list dies, he/she gets a post on ITN, the others don't. I don't really like splitting of the ITN on events and deaths and I would prefer having as little obituaries there as possible. So, list of people, anyone? --Tone 17:45, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Like A deathlist ? Madcoverboy (talk) 19:20, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Brrrr, this is a very sinister name, rename it quickly. But yes, that's the general idea. Maybe it could be connected to top importance biographical articles about living people (check the project assesments). --Tone 19:39, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
The deathlist idea could work, very well I might add, but that really would be a hard thing to do. Notability changes everyday, and some people who are notable to some aren't elsewhere. I like the idea, but if we were to do that we'd need to do something with that problem -- (talk) 19:57, 11 April 2008 (UTC) (Plasma Twa 2)
There still appears to be some misunderstanding. The idea is not to split off a separate section and constantly fill it with obituaries. It's to occasionally list one or two deaths of extremely notable people [that don't warrant substantial article updates, simply because the deaths themselves are the only new information to report] and omit the subsection when no such individuals have recently (say, within the past week or so) died.
The purpose of this is not to include additional deaths beyond those of individuals for whom there already is consensus of sufficient notability; it's only to sidestep the "substantial update" hurdle that currently prevents many of these entries from appearing (by using clear demarcation to eliminate our readers' expectation that a substantial article update has occurred). —David Levy 21:30, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

List of important living peopleEdit

Please view and edit Template:In the news/Important living people. This well help us ascertain the feasibility of using such a list as a means of evaluating importance prior to a notable person's expected/forseeable/unsurprising (ick) death. Madcoverboy (talk) 20:12, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Valiant effort. Madcoverboy, may I ask on what this list is based? I can add women, and so can other people, but for now there are 5 women and 48 men. Asking partly in wonder, and partly wondering if the Category:High-priority_biography_articles that Tone suggested is skewed that way. -Susanlesch (talk) 20:29, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
I think a necessary but not sufficient condition for being on LILP is being rated as either a Top or a High priority biography. More women could certainly be included as could more non-Anglophone people, but I would caution against overt "affirmative action" for inclusion since that is just a whole can of worms on top of what is sure to be a contentious list (if accepted). As other editors have pointed out, we needn't be comprehensive for every important death in the French, Spanish, Hindi, Chinese, etc speaking world since they have their own Wikipedias. Obviously I am not implying that only Anglophones should be included, but it is within our purview to favor them. Madcoverboy (talk) 20:41, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
The list headers are derived from Vital articles. I populated the politician field with people who held office for significant amounts of time in major countries. The rest are just my own assessments of importance. I use a generations-removed textbook heuristic - would future generations read about this person in their textbooks, or would they and their work be forgotten after a few years or a generation? Madcoverboy (talk) 20:53, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Since this is a English Wiki, there probably could be more emphasis on English-speaking people-of-notability. There definetely should be a emphasis on Americans, Canadians, British, Australians and New Zealanders then some person from Mongolia no one here has ever heard of. Regardless, important politicians and national icons, iregardless of nationality, should be considered. --PlasmaTwa2 21:45, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
I think, that for the politicians, any former president or prime minister should be qualified. Example, if Brian Mulroney died two days after this went up, that would be newsworthy. Also, the actors and entertainers section is... difficult to complete, I think. Off the top of my head, Sean Connery, Al Pacino, and Meryl Streep could be added. I support the idea, but we are too far away yet to decide to do it like this. --PlasmaTwa2 21:52, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Hmm? I guess you forgot Ireland... But why only first language speakers? What about Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, South Africans, Malaysians, Singaporeans...... There are almost definitely more people in India who speak English then there are in New Zealand (and I'm a kiwi so I can say that) or heck Kiwis+Aussies combined! (Whether there are more people with access to the internet that I don't know but I would emphasise English speaking Indians are probably the most likely to have access to the internet so it wouldn't surprise me.) I wouldn't oppose some minor extra consideration given to English speaking but would oppose excessive emphasise and especially oppose ignoring the large number of non-native English speakers. Nil Einne (talk) 19:19, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
I hope I don't offend, but... Is this real? Do you really think that this solution will be manageable? My first reaction was that it was tongue-in-cheek and pointy. Who will be responsible for maintain the list? Who decides what additions are reverted? This is just a guess, but I think this is going to be a major headache. --Elliskev 19:31, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
Well, this is just a preliminary idea, a possible solution about how to improve the present policy. What I think is that it would be more reasonable to make the list the same as one of the WP:biography articles, though top importance category lists almost no living people and high importance is already quite big. Maybe this was discussed at the project before, could be worth asking... --Tone 19:40, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
It seems to me that the best uses of ITN on the main page are to showcase our best articles or to invite collaboration. Maybe it would make sense to simply restrict main page recent death notices to B-class or better articles. B-class+ BLP (formerly-so) articles are likely to be about fairly well-known people. Even if they aren't so well-known, it would at least be topical and provide the service of a GA/FA background or invite help on getting the articles to GA/FA.
This isn't so much a proposal as a wrench ;). I'm a little worried about the subjectivity of the "important list". --Elliskev 19:48, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
Hi. I tried to locate through the Hall of Fame inductees lists, the rock musicians who might be included and quickly came to the conclusion that even in this one little area of the world unfortunately this list is endless. Have you come to that conclusion too, or did you see this list in your mind's eye as thousands of names long? -Susanlesch (talk) 08:22, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
Elliskev, you do make a good point, with the B-Class or better idea. My gut feeling is liking it. However, I begin to imagine: but if someone really major died, but they had a bloody short article, then we might start another dispute. But still, I doubt that this would happen. If the person is really notable, the information should be out there to make an article at least B-class. SpencerT♦C 18:00, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
If somebody really major died with an article at Stub-or-Start-class, I would guess that it could be (probably would bee) brought to B-class within hours. --Elliskev 13:28, 14 April 2008 (UTC)
I don't see why the list wouldn't approach a thousand names long. It stands at about 250 right now with only 3 editors (very valuable) contributions. If we had 1,000 and one person off the list died every single day, it would take on the order of years to exhaust it. If one person a week died off the list (about as long as an ITN headline remains visible), it would take on the order of decades with no replacement. The issue I see is ensuring whatever criteria for inclusion are universally applied across fields; it seems that it will be easy to overpopulate actors, musicians, athletes, and politicians to the detriment of artists, scientists, and activists. Madcoverboy (talk) 18:13, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
Likewise, recentism may also be an issue when it comes to evaluating claims of importance. Madcoverboy (talk) 20:51, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
Nobody called it hubris but it was when we made a list for just one city (criteria). That list is the single most time consuming thing I did to help that city's article reach FA because almost everybody loves to add their favorites--and sometimes overriding these are difficult and seemingly unfair calls. I slept on it and am going to vote multiple times on the proposals above, thinking more inclusion (whether in a box or not) will solve this. Thanks for thinking out loud here. -Susanlesch (talk) 21:55, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
The reason we overpopulate actors, musicians, athletes, and politicians to the detriment of artists, scientists, and activists is because most people don't recognize the latter three as much. I could easily list of more sports players than mathemeticians, scientists and artists. It's likely that most other people could too. This leads to the compromise: we need to find a middle ground between familiarity and contribution. Generally, one comes along with the other, but still, a major contributor to geometric topology is probably less well known than the keeper for Celtic FC. The key is finding the middle ground. SpencerT♦C 00:55, 14 April 2008 (UTC)
I also encourage everyone to visit Template:In the news/Important living people and edit the list. The more input, the better. SpencerT♦C 00:57, 14 April 2008 (UTC)


Given the level of participation and comments here, I'm willing to venture that there is a sufficient amount of consensus that making and using the LILP (list of important living people) is worth at least trying. Obviously the list is not yet authoritative, but hopefully it will stabilize and standardize in time. The question we now face is how to implement it. Is it possible to write a bot/script to compare Deaths in 2008 to the names on the LILP? Just looking over the past several days, 2 "important" people jump out at me as seemingly important enough to warrant inclusion on the list, thus ITN: Patrick Hillery (Irish President for 14 years) and John Archibald Wheeler (physicist and advisor to Feynman). Now for a straw poll; assuming that (1) we had a reasonably stable and authoritative LILP, (2) a mechanism for nominating LILP-people on ITN/C, and (3) both Hillery and Wheeler were on the list, would you have supported their inclusion on ITN? Madcoverboy (talk) 23:53, 14 April 2008 (UTC)
I think yes. SpencerT♦C 01:14, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

Proposal: Article class as criterionEdit

I took a look at deaths from the last month (2008-03-15 to 2008-04-14) from Deaths in April 2008 and Deaths in March 2008. If the sole criterion was B-Class or better, the following people would "qualify":

I think that's a pretty good list. There were a handful of people that should arguably be included based on importance or notability. Maybe a strict quality-based system would provide some incentive to get those articles up to speed. A spot on the main page is pretty good motivator. So... I've decided to make this a proposal. --Elliskev 14:46, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

  • Support as nominator --Elliskev 14:46, 14 April 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose I'm hesitant because of systematic bias and the general unreliability with which articles are evaluated among or even within WikiProjects. Going on evaluations alone strikes me as an evaluation of their local importance to Wikipedia and its editors rather than on global importance for their actual accomplishments. However, your point is not moot — many of the people on LILP have extremely poor articles which I would frankly be embarrassed to feature on the front page. Madcoverboy (talk) 23:55, 14 April 2008 (UTC)
Maybe I misunderstand your objection, but I'm not talking about evaluated importance, but evaluated quality. In looking through many, many articles, I do realize that many, many are not evaluated as I would evaluate them, but it's always within one level, i.e. some are listed as Start where I would give them a B and vice versa. But, that's trivial. It would take about an hour to get an outside, object re-evaluation of quality. --Elliskev 12:32, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
Additionally... Regarding systemic bias, this would be countered by eliminating any regard for importance. The only thing to debate is A: Is the person recently deceased? and B: Is the article of sufficient quality? If somebody thinks that recently-deceased person XYZ should be listed, all that would be required is getting the article up to snuff (and meeting notability criteria to have an article in the first place, obviously). It doesn't take a whole lot to get an article to B-class, especially if we're talking about someone truly notable. --Elliskev 12:57, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
No, that won't solve the problem (simply because there will be far more editors willing to write/improve articles about people from countries in which English is widely spoken). While this probably won't affect the most notable individuals from other nations, the disparity will manifest itself when every semi-famous, newly deceased person from an English-speaking country makes it through (which won't occur with comparably notable people from elsewhere). —David Levy 23:47, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
  • Neutral The B-class criteria would make some sense, but Madcoverboy makes a good point. Perhaps the minimum of start-class or better? I think that we could implement this criteria, and then have a decision on start-class articles of important persons. I must say though, if someone's article is a single paragraph, then it's not right for it to go on the Main Page. SpencerT♦C 01:19, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
I suppose it could be argued that if a Core biography subject dropped dead with a Start-class article, we'd want to put it up. However, I'd think that we'd want to improve the article first, anyway. --Elliskev 13:11, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
Comment: in the past month, are there any other persons that could go up, but are not B-class or better? (an important person who is not listed above.) SpencerT♦C 01:21, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
Found one: John Archibald Wheeler. See, an article like this I would say could pass, even though it isn't rated B-class. SpencerT♦C 11:05, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
Excellent example. B-Class is an informal evaluation class. I would say that this article needs an image and the breaking down of the Biography section into more focused sections before qualifying. That would be a simple and quick thing to do. Call it a B and put it up. B-Class simply means that it would be useful to most readers. --Elliskev 12:39, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose for now. B-class is a reflection of the quality of the article, not the importance of the subject. I know the relation between the two, but I'm still not convinced this is better than just saying the person should be of exceptional notability and go on a case-by-case basis. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 23:07, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
  • Neutral- B-Class or better should not be the single criteria, but instead a determining factor. Based on my comment above, we can aprove start-class articles on a case-by-case basis. SpencerT♦C 23:43, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Madcoverboy's arguments are strong, and while linked articles should be in reasonable shape, making their overall quality the "sole criterion" misses the point of ITN. TFA and DYK reward editors for writing and improving articles, and systemic bias already is a big enough problem. Extending this to include obituaries (which we aren't even supposed to feature) is a very bad idea. —David Levy 23:47, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
By the way, what is the point of ITN? I thought it was to provide readers/editors a link to background on current topics. --Elliskev 15:29, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
From the consensus above, "ITN is a portal for featuring up-to-date encyclopedic content reflecting important international current events" Madcoverboy (talk) 15:43, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes. I saw that. That describes what ITN is. I'm asking about its purpose. Maybe I'm over-thinking it. It features "up-to-date encyclopedic content reflecting important international current events". My question is To what purpose?
I guess I'm just thinking out loud here. There's probably not an answer, and my question is probably so tangential as to be unproductive. --Elliskev 15:56, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

Ah, well. Looks like WP:SNOW applies here. --Elliskev 12:32, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

Comment: Elliskev still brings up a good point in this. We all want the main page to showcase some of wikipedia's better contributions. Say some president (say in Nigeria) died, but his article was only a sentence (Let's just say), I would highly recommend that the person's article should not go up. I also suggest that we view the articles on a case-by-case basis before they go up, just to make sure that there aren't blatant errors and fallacies. For example: If a major golfer dies, but the article says he's a pornstar (assuming he wasn't) then that golfer shouldn't go up until the article was fixed. Anyone else have comments regarding this? SpencerT♦C 22:20, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

I don't think anyone is suggesting we completely ignore current ITN (or main page in general) criteria which generally requires some sort of decent article without any major problems. If I understand things correctly, all we're considering here is removing the requirement for an substanial update and allowing obituaries of famous people. The question of whether we should set a hard and fast, and only a hard and fast, B class article while related, is somewhat of a different issue. Nil Einne (talk) 21:24, 17 April 2008 (UTC)
Well, they'd have to be dead... --Elliskev 23:04, 17 April 2008 (UTC)
:) SpencerT♦C 11:12, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
Well yes, but I think that's implied by the obits line Nil Einne (talk) 18:55, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Message to JimboEdit

WP:ITN embodies the sui generis potential of Wikipedia to not simply be replicative but transformative of how knowledge can be created and communicated. News of all types from across the world are often featured on ITN and expose readers to up-to-date, detailed, and high-quality encyclopedic articles to provide a context for issues that no newspaper can. Moreover, the active community of editors who participates there has developed a strong ethic and set of rules that allows them to weed out the trash new and infotainment that degrades and demeans journalism as an essential component of a free and open society and to instead focus on issues of international importance and encyclopedic interest.

However, we're currently in the midst of a debate about how we might go about including the deaths of people of important encyclopedic and social importance. This year alone, the deaths of Suharto, Pavarotti, Arthur C. Clarke, Edmund Hillary, Bobby Fischer, and Charlton Heston were not included because of the existing rules despite a consensus that they should have been included anyway. However, we are again faced with the unfortunate task of debating whether or not to include the deaths of two scientific luminaries, John Archibald Wheeler and Edward Lorenz.

The compelling and often contentious manner in which consensus emerges among a dedicated group of editors, it is not ultimately up to them to take action. Like many tasks on wikipedia (deletion, banning, etc.) editing a template that appears on the front-page is prudently restricted to administrators only. But administrators are placed in the unenviable position of having to err on the side of inaction or straight-laced interpretation of the rules even in light of a consensus suggesting otherwise for fear of being accused of acting too quickly, employing poor judgment, reversing precedents, using imperfect information, being reverted by another admin, or upsetting vocal minority constituents (of which I have certainly been a member sometimes). The effect is, we have a cycle of logjams in which there is a consensus to make a change, a case in which the new consensus might be enacted, but an inability to effect the change leading to frustration. After a round of archiving and change of membership, amnesia sets in but in time another instance of the issue raises its head, the same consensus for change re-emerges, but is again unrealized.

The reason why I bring this to your attention is not for you to take a side or otherwise ask for your blessing on a policy matter, but to ask your advice on how how a community of editors can go about implementing change when the means for enacting that change are reserved to another class of users? Madcoverboy (talk) 03:58, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

I'm not Jimbo, obviously, but an admin. If you need the attention of admins, the best way is the administrators' noticeboard. A brief post like "we have reached a consensus here (link), but need an admin to do X" should be enough to get a few of them over to the discussion, and to either do what you want them to do, or explain why they don't (too small a consensus, problems not thought of before, whatever). If you did this already and it had no result, then you can always contact me or any individual admin to come over and have a look. Fram (talk) 07:50, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
I took a look at the discussion and it made me very proud. It seems like just the kind of thoughtful discussion that leads to progress. My own opinion (and this is just one person's opinion, and in fact the opinion of someone who does not directly participate in the particular case and may be therefore wrong in some important way) is that those who think the criteria should be expanded to include certain highly notable individuals who are not heads of state, etc., is a step in the right direction, and thoughtfully writing it up in such a way to minimize controversy and capture our general community spirit of what should be there is a good thing.
As to the question of what happens when there are editorial considerations in the general community that might not be reflected in the opinions of the admins who are able to actually implement those changes, well, I am not aware that there is a serious conflict in this area. I think if people generally get to a good solution here, there would be no issues with it being implemented.
The really great answer to this, of course, is flagged revisions, which will allow us to open up the editing of homepage elements for the first time in several years.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 13:49, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

A later discussion about the Death CriteriaEdit

Copied over from Template talk:In the news; (permanent link)

Okay, WP:ITN/DC has gone stale, and we've been operating without any clear death criteria. I say we need to solve this once and for all. Okay, here is what I suggest:

The death must meet one or more of the following criteria:
  1. The deceased was in a high ranking office of power, and had a significant contribution/impact on the country/region.
  2. The deceased was a very important figure in their field of expertise, and was recognised as such.
  3. The death has a major international impact that affects current events. The modification or creation of multiple articles to take into account the ramifications of a death is a sign that it meets the third criterion.
In addition, the article needs to have at least a paragraph of prose about the person's death (in accordance with ITN updating criteria), and the article as a whole must be B-class and/or be satisfactorily filled out with no major omissions of the person's life and effect.
Deaths should not be added without a consensus at ITN/C and are recommended (but by no means "must") to be listed at WP:LILP.

Feel free to recommend other criteria, and please comment. SpencerT♦C 21:41, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

I think "key figure in their field of expertise" is too broad. I think the key is that the person should be exceptionally notable, like Chuck Berry, Jim Brown or Stephen Hawking, none of whom we hope will die anytime soon. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 23:46, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
Hmm... is this better now? SpencerT♦C 00:10, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
Is what better? -- Mwalcoff (talk) 03:46, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
The current state of affairs for listing death people are fine; those who are really exceptional goes up automatically (as long as the standards are met), while the not-so-exceptional will be discussed just as the other blurbs. –Howard the Duck 05:19, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
@Mwalcoff: I amended the wording a bit, and was looking for your opinion. @Howard: I really don't like the way it is, because the not-so-exceptional are very ambiguous, and if we had strong criteria, it would be much easier. SpencerT♦C 00:40, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Criteria 1) I think in current form lot of deaths would qualify 1. For example, recently India's ex-PM V. P. Singh and ex-President R. Venkataraman died. But I don't think they should be highlighted on ITN because event had no impact on India, forget global.
    • 1a)I think person should have held a high ranking office and should have had significant contribution/impact on the country/region (maybe when person held office or sometime in past). Such deaths deserve to be on ITN and would raise minimum objections.
    • 1b)Also, ITN should not encourage natural old-age death when the person is known to be in hospital or ailing (this may not be put as a rule but can be followed as general consensus). Fidel Castro though ailing for a long time due to old age problems would go up on ITN as per 1a.
Criteria 1 should be expanded. --GPPande 07:40, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
1a sounds good, I'm amending the current wording. I don't think we exactly need 1b, as 1a–c (see suggested) take care of it. Can you cite any specific examples of natural deaths you wouldn't want to see on the Main Page? (Just too see what you mean, I'm slightly confused). SpencerT♦C 00:40, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
Ariel Sharon --GPPande 19:45, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
Okay, I see what you mean now. I think its best to do what you suggest: not be put in as a criteria, but sometimes followed as consensus in borderline situations.
Any other comments? Also, does everyone think I can remove the WP:ITN/DC link from {{ITNbox}}, as the discussion there is pretty much dead. SpencerT♦C 19:42, 31 January 2009 (UTC)
Yup, remove it but keep it somewhere nice & easy to find for everyone. Will this thread get into the archives? I would want to preserve this discussion somewhere on ITN/DC page so that anyone else reading it would be cognizant of "this" thread. --GPPande 19:13, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
I'll copy this discussion over to WP:ITN/DC, which will have a link by the death criteria section on WP:ITNMP. Are there any other comments, or can I close the discussion and implement the new changes? SpencerT♦C 21:44, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
Discussion done; implementing changes. I'm also going to copy over this discussion to WP:ITN/C. SpencerT♦C 20:33, 7 February 2009 (UTC)