Wikipedia:Notability/Historical/Significance

Certain policies and guidelines have established a broad base of what will determine notability or encyclopaedic worth, and certain topic areas have criteria which have been developed by editors and achieved acceptance as guidelines.

Since not all topic areas have accepted guidelines, in order to determine a broad level of notability for a topic for which no established or proposed guidelines apply, an editor should evaluate the topic with an eye on existing guidelines and policy.

Therefore this page gives some rough guidelines which Wikipedia editors should use to decide if any particular subject or topic should have an article on Wikipedia. This page seeks to further expand upon and delineate a level of noteworthiness based upon the principles that information in Wikipedia is verifiable, of a neutral point of view, is not formed of original research and cites reliable sources.

Defining notabilityEdit

Notability as a concept on Wikipedia is conferred through mentions in verifiable sources. These sources should be independent of both the topic and of Wikipedia, and should be of the standard described in Wikipedia:Reliable sources. Articles should not be built using only the subject itself as sole source. This requirement for independent sources is so as to determine that the topic can be written about without bias, and also that any claim to notability is likewise independent; otherwise the article is likely to fall foul of our vanity guidelines.

Why is notability importantEdit

Although Wikipedia is not paper, it also has to be noted that many editors on Wikipedia do not believe Wikipedia should hold an infinite number of articles. This is because:

  • Wikipedia cannot maintain them all to an acceptable standard,
  • Wikipedia does have physical limits,
  • Articles on trivial topics damage the credibility of the encyclopaedia as a whole.

Also, the notion that article subjects should have some degree of notability can be seen in guidance on writing better articles asserts that a "lead section ... should establish significances, large implications and why we should care". This is because "the basic significance of a topic may not be obvious to nonspecialist readers, even if they understand the basic definition. Tell them!"

Wikipedia's vanity guidelines have also noted that "articles on very little-known subjects are often of debatable value for our readers, so if you write a new article on one it is particularly important to express the facts in a neutral way and as much as possible to cite sources that are credible, neutral, and independent."

Therefore, given the guidelines already established above, it can be seen that Wikipedia editors believe that an encyclopaedia has a duty to inform, that a topic's significance or notability should be explained, and thus, notability of a given article's topic needs establishing, in a manner that satisfies verifiability and neutral point of view.

Establishing notabilityEdit

Given that the perfect article is expected to reflect expert knowledge and have its significance explained clearly and accurately, and also given that Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of items of information, whereby something held to be 100% true is not necessarily suitable for inclusion in an encyclopedia, most topics can demonstrate notability if they can cite information from experts within the topic area, and this information can be verified. As stated in guidance on writing articles, these sources should generally be the best and most reliable references available for the subject, and should be placed in a references section, as, per Wikipedia:How to write a great article; these references are what will allow Wikipedia to be the most trusted, reliable resource it can be, and also demonstrate an article as not being original research.

Editors should also be mindful of the dangers outlined in maintaining a neutral point of view of giving undue weight to a given topic. A topic's encyclopaedic value can be hard to discern, but it is worth remembering that to give undue weight to a significant-minority view, or to include a tiny-minority view, might be misleading; one must balance a topic's claim for notability against the background of those that would claim no notability for it.

Disputed notabilityEdit

Where an article's given topic is deemed by a particular editor to be of little encyclopaedic value, or not noteworthy, it is best to assume good faith and first initiate a discussion upon the talk page of the article. An editor may also consider using either {{Unreferenced}}, {{importance}} or {{cite needed}}. These steps may reveal sources which will allow more value to be placed upon the article. If no such discussion or sources ensue, an editor could consider listing the article for deletion

In the case of such articles being listed for deletion, such a listing occurs at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion, and Wikipedia editors should outline their reasons for believing the article's given topic to be of no encyclopaedic quality, namely that no independent sources of a reliable nature have been referenced. This will allow a balanced discussion to ensue on the topic's given value, and will determine its worth to Wikipedia.

See alsoEdit