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Wikipedia:Notability (organizations and companies)

This page is to help determine whether an organization (commercial or otherwise), or any of its products and services, is a valid subject for a separate Wikipedia article dedicated solely to that organization, product, or service. The scope of this guideline covers all groups of people organized together for a purpose with the exception of non-profit educational institutions, religions or sects, and sports teams. If another subject-specific notability guideline applies to a group, it may be notable by passing either this or the more specific guideline. For example bands are covered by WP:MUSIC.

Simply stated, an organization is a group of more than one person formed together for a purpose. This includes commercial and non-commercial activities, such as charitable organizations, political parties, hospitals, institutions, interest groups, social clubs, companies, partnerships, proprietorships, for-profit educational institutions or organizations, etc.

This guideline does not cover small groups of closely related people such as families, entertainment groups, co-authors, and co-inventors covered by WP:Notability (people).

Contents

Decisions based on verifiable evidence

Wikipedia bases its decision about whether an organization is notable enough to justify a separate article on the verifiable evidence that the organization or product has attracted the notice of reliable sources unrelated to the organization or product. Notability requires only that these necessary sources have been published—even if these sources are not actually listed in the article yet (though in most cases it probably would improve the article to add them).

No inherent notability

No company or organization is considered inherently notable. No organization is exempt from this requirement, no matter what kind of organization it is, including schools.[1] If the individual organization has received no or very little notice from independent sources, then it is not notable simply because other individual organizations of its type are commonly notable or merely because it exists (see "If it's not notable", below). "Notability" is not synonymous with "fame" or "importance." No matter how "important" editors may personally believe an organization to be, it should not have a stand-alone article in Wikipedia unless reliable sources independent of the organization have discussed it.

When evaluating the notability of organizations or products, please consider whether they have had any significant or demonstrable effects on culture, society, entertainment, athletics, economies, history, literature, science, or education. Large organizations and their products are likely to have more readily available verifiable information from reliable sources that provide evidence of notability. However, smaller organizations and their products can be notable, just as individuals can be notable. Arbitrary standards should not be used to create a bias favoring larger organizations or their products, though articles about very small "garage" or local companies are typically unacceptable per WP:NOTADVERTISING.

No inherited notability

An organization is not notable merely because a notable person or event was associated with it. A corporation is not notable merely because it owns notable subsidiaries. The organization or corporation itself must have been discussed in reliable independent sources for it to be considered notable. Examples: If a notable person buys a restaurant, the restaurant does not "inherit" notability from its owner. If a notable person joins an organization, the organization does not "inherit" notability from its member.

This works the other way as well. An organization may be notable, but individual members (or groups of members) do not "inherit" notability due to their membership. A corporation may be notable, but its subsidiaries do not "inherit" notability from being owned by the corporation.

Primary criteria

A company, corporation, organization, group, product, or service is notable if it has been the subject of significant coverage in multiple reliable secondary sources that are independent of the subject.

These criteria, generally, follow the general notability guideline with a stronger emphasis on quality of the sources to prevent gaming of the rules by marketing and public relations professionals. The guideline, among other things, is meant to address some of the common issues with abusing Wikipedia for advertising and promotion. As such, the guideline establishes generally higher requirements for sources that are used to establish notability than for sources that are allowed as acceptable references within an article.

How to apply the criteria

The primary criteria have five components that must be evaluated separately and independently to determine if it is met:

  1. significant coverage in
  2. multiple
  3. independent,
  4. reliable
  5. secondary sources.

Note that an individual source must meet all of these criteria to be counted towards notability. I.e. each source needs to be significant, independent, reliable, and secondary. Then, there must be multiple of such qualifying sources. If the suitability of a source is in doubt, it is better to exercise caution and to exclude the source for the purposes of establishing notability.

For example, a draft article on Acme Inc. cites four sources: a single-sentence mention in an article by The New York Times when pointing out a missing feature in a rival's product when compared to the product by Acme; an extensive company profile in Forbes blog by a non-staff contributor; a blog post from a tech enthusiast who has provided a review of the product; and a court filing by a competitor alleging patent infringement. Analysis:

  • The New York Times is reliable, independent, and secondary – but not significant (a single-sentence mention in an article about another company).
  • The profile in Forbes blog is significant and secondary – but not independent or reliable (most of such posts are company-sponsored or based on company's marketing materials).
  • The blog post is significant and secondary – but not independent (blog posts are often sponsored; thus without evidence otherwise, editors should exercise caution and exclude the source) and not reliable (self-published sources are generally not reliable).
  • The court filing is significant, independent, and reliable (in that the court record is a verified account of a legal action being taken) – but not secondary (court filings are primary sources). However, the filing itself cannot be taken as factual for anything beyond that legal action was taken; the allegations remain unproven until completion of the case.

Therefore, the article does not have a single source that could be used to establish the notability of the company, let alone multiple sources. The analysis can be summarized in the following table:

Source Significant? Independent? Reliable? Secondary? Pass/Fail Notes
New York Times  N  Y  Y  Y  N A single-sentence mention in an article about another company
Profile in Forbes  Y  N  N  Y  N Most of such posts are company-sponsored or based on company's marketing materials
Tech blog post  Y  N  N  Y  N Blog posts are often sponsored and self-published sources are generally not reliable
Court filing  Y  Y  Y  N  N Court filings are primary sources
Total qualifying sources 0 There must be multiple qualifying sources to meet the notability requirements

Significant coverage

The depth of coverage of the subject by the source must be considered. Trivial or incidental coverage of a subject is not sufficient to establish notability. Deep or significant coverage provides an overview, description, commentary, survey, study, discussion, analysis, or evaluation of the product, company, or organization. Such coverage provides an organization with a level of attention that extends well beyond brief mentions and routine announcements, and makes it possible to write more than a very brief, incomplete stub about the organization.

Quantity does not determine significance. It is the quality of the content that governs. A collection of multiple trivial sources do not become significant. Views, hits, likes, shares, etc. have no bearing on establishing whether the coverage is significant. Similarly, arbitrary statistics and numbers (such as number of employees, amount of revenue or raised capital, age of the company, etc.) do not make the coverage significant. For the coverage to be significant, the sources must describe and discuss in some depth the treatment of the employees or major changes in leadership instead of just listing the fact that the corporation employs 500 people or mentioning that John Smith was appointed as the new CEO. Further, the significance is not determined by the reputation of the source. For example, a 400-word article in The Village Voice is a lot more significant than a single-sentence mention in The New York Times. However, the reputation of the source does help to determine whether the source is reliable and independent.

Further, sources are not transferable or attributable between related parties. Sources that describe only a specific topic related to an organization should not be regarded as providing significant coverage of that organization. Therefore, for example, an article on a product recall or a biography of a CEO is a significant coverage for the Wikipedia article on the product or the CEO, but not a significant coverage on the company (unless the article or biography devotes significant attention to the company itself).

Examples of trivial coverage

Examples of trivial coverage that do not count toward meeting the significant coverage requirement:

  • simple listings or compilations, such as:
    • of telephone numbers, addresses, directions, event times, shopping hours,
    • of office locations, branches, franchises, or subsidiaries,
    • of employees, officers, directors, owners, or shareholders (see above for #No inherited notability),
    • of product or service offerings,
    • of product instruction manuals, specifications, or certifications,
    • of patents, copyrights, clinical trials, or lawsuits,
    • of event schedules or results (such as theater performance schedule, score table of a sporting event, listing of award recipients),
    • of statistical data,
  • standard notices, brief announcements, and routine coverage, such as:
    • of changes in share or bond prices,
    • of quarterly or annual financial results and earning forecasts,
    • of the opening or closing of local branches, franchises, or shops,
    • of a product or a product line launch, sale, change, or discontinuance,
    • of the participation in industry events, such as trade fairs or panel discussions,
    • of the shareholders' meetings or other corporate events,
    • of the hiring, promotion, or departure of personnel,
    • of the expansions, acquisitions, mergers, sale, or closure of the business,
    • of a capital transaction, such as raised capital,
  • brief or passing mentions, such as:
    • of non-notable awards received by the organization, its people, or products,
    • of sponsorship of events, non-profit organizations, or volunteer work,
    • in quotations from an organization's personnel as story sources,
    • as an example of a type of company or product being discussed (e.g. "In response to the protests, various companies, such as Acme Inc, have pledged to address working conditions in their factories")
  • inclusion in lists of similar organizations, particularly in "best of", "top 100", "fastest growing" or similar lists,[2]
  • inclusion in collections that have indiscriminate inclusion criteria (i.e. attempt to include every existing item instead of selecting the best, most notable examples), such as databases, archives, directories, dictionaries, bibliographies, certain almanacs,
  • coverage of purely local events, incidents, controversies (see also #Audience below),
  • presentations, speeches, lectures, etc. given by organization's personnel,
  • other listings and mentions not accompanied by commentary, survey, study, discussion, analysis, or evaluation of the product, company, or organization.

The examples above are not meant to be exhaustive.

See #Product reviews for a full discussion on what reviews of restaurants, events, and products qualify as significant coverage.

Examples of substantial coverage

Examples of substantial coverage that would generally be sufficient to meet the requirement:

  • A news article discussing a prolonged controversy regarding a corporate merger,
  • A scholarly article, a book passage, or ongoing media coverage focusing on a product or organization,
  • A documentary film exploring environmental impact of the corporation's facilities or products,
  • An encyclopedia entry giving an overview of the history of an organization,
  • A report by a consumer watchdog organization on the safety of a specific product,
  • An extensive how-to guide written by people wholly independent of the company or product (e.g. For Dummies).
Audience

The source's audience must also be considered. Evidence of significant coverage by international or national, or at least regional, media is a strong indication of notability. On the other hand, attention solely from local media, or media of limited interest and circulation, is not an indication of notability; at least one regional, statewide, provincial, national, or international source is necessary.

Illegal conduct

It is possible that an organization that is not itself generally notable will have a number of significant sources discussing its (alleged) illegal conduct. Sources that primarily discuss purely such conduct shall not be used to establish an organization's notability per this guideline. However, the organization may still be notable, in whole or in part due to such sources, under different guidelines, e.g., WP:CRIME.

Independent sources

A primary test of notability is whether unrelated people with no vested interest in the subject have actually considered the company, corporation, product or service notable enough that they have written and published non-trivial, non-routine works that focus upon it. Self-promotion and product placement are not routes to qualifying for an encyclopedia article. There are two types of independence to consider when evaluating sources:

  • Independence of the author (or functional independence): the author must be unrelated to the company, organization, or product. Related persons include organization's personnel, owners, investors, (sub)contractors, vendors, distributors, suppliers, other business partners and associates, customers, competitors, sponsors and sponsorees (including astroturfing), and other parties that have something, financially or otherwise, to gain or lose.
  • Independence of the content (or intellectual independence): the content must not be produced by interested parties. Too often a related party produces a narrative that is then copied, regurgitated, and published in whole or in part by independent parties (as exemplified by churnalism). Independent content, in order to count towards establishing notability, must include original and independent opinion, analysis, investigation, and fact checking that are clearly attributable to a source unaffiliated to the subject.

Trade publications must be used with great care. While feature stories[3] from leading trade magazines may be used where independence is clear, there is a presumption against the use of coverage in trade magazines to establish notability as businesses frequently make use of these publications to increase their visibility.[4]

If source's independence is of any doubt, it is better to exercise caution and exclude it from determining quality sources for the purposes of establishing notability. If contested, consensus on the use of sources can be sought at the Reliable sources/Noticeboard.

Once notability is established, primary sources and self-published sources may be used with appropriate care to verify some of the article's content. See Wikipedia:Autobiography for the verifiability and neutrality problems that affect material where the subject of the article itself is the source of the material.

Examples of dependent coverage

Examples of dependent coverage that is not sufficient to establish notability:

  • press releases, press kits, or similar public relations materials
  • any material that is substantially based on such press releases even if published by independent sources (churnalism),
  • advertising and marketing materials by, about, or on behalf of the organization,
    • including pieces like "case studies" or "success stories" by Chambers of Commerce, business incubators, consulting firms, etc.
  • any paid or sponsored articles, posts, and other publications,
  • self-published materials, including vanity press,
  • patents, whether pending or granted,[5]
  • any material written or published, including websites, by the organization, its members, or sources closely associated with it, directly or indirectly,
  • other works in which the company, corporation, organization, or group talks about itself—whether published by itself, or re-printed by other people (for example, self-submitted biographies to Who's Who).

Multiple sources

A single significant independent source is almost never sufficient for demonstrating the notability of an organization.

"Source" on Wikipedia can refer to the work itself, the author of the work, and/or the publisher of the work. For notability purposes, sources must be unrelated to each other to be "multiple". A story from a single news organization (such as AP) reprinted in multiple newspapers (say, in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Orlando Sentinel) is still one source (one newspaper article). If multiple journalists at multiple newspapers separately and independently write about the same subject, then each of these unrelated articles should be considered separate sources, even if they are writing about the same event or "story". A series of articles by the same journalist is still treated as one source (one person). The appearance of different articles in the same newspaper is still one source (one publisher). Similarly, a series of books by the same author is one source.

The existence of multiple significant independent sources needs to be demonstrated. Hypothetical sources (e.g. "the company is big/old/important so there must be more sources, I just don't have/can't find them") do not count towards the notability requirement.

The word "multiple" is not a set number and depends on the type of organization or product. Editors should recognize certain biases, such as recentism (greater availability of recent sources) when assessing historical companies or systemic bias (greater availability of English and Western sources) when discussing organizations in the developing world. Therefore, for example, a Bangladeshi women's rights organization from the 1960s might establish notability with just one or two quality sources, while the same is not true for a tech start-up in a major U.S. metropolitan area.

Reliable sources

Reliable sources, generally, are third-party published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. The best sources have a professional structure in place for checking or analyzing facts, legal issues, evidence, and arguments. The greater the degree of scrutiny given to these issues, the more reliable the source. Questionable sources are those that have a poor reputation for checking the facts, lack meaningful editorial oversight, or have an apparent conflict of interest. Self-published sources are generally not accepted as reliable sources. For a full discussion on what is and what is not a reliable source, see Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources.

Secondary sources

A secondary source provides an author's own thinking based on primary sources, generally at least one step removed from an event. It contains an author's analysis, evaluation, interpretation, or synthesis of the facts, evidence, concepts, and ideas taken from primary sources. Secondary sources are not necessarily significant, reliable or independent sources.

A primary source is original material that is close to an event, and is often an account written by people who are directly involved. Primary sources cannot be used to establish notability. In a business setting, frequently encountered primary sources include:

  • corporate annual or financial reports, proxy statements,
  • memoirs or interviews by executives,
  • public announcements of corporate actions (press releases),
  • court filings, patent applications,
  • government audit or inspection reports,
  • customer testimonials or complaints,
  • product instruction manuals or specifications.

Product reviews

Product, event, and restaurant reviews (i.e. where author describes personal opinions and experiences) must be handled with great care and diligence. Some types of reviews have a longer history and established traditions (e.g. restaurants, wine, books, movies), while other (e.g. new tech gadgets, travel blogs) are newer and more prone to manipulation by marketing and public relations personnel. Like any other source, reviews must meet the primary criteria to be counted towards the notability requirement:

  1. Be significant: brief and routine reviews (including Zagat) do not qualify. Significant reviews are where the author has personally experienced or tested the product and describes their experiences in some depth, provides broader context, and draws comparisons with other products. Reviews that narrowly focus on a particular product or function without broader context (e.g. review of a particular meal without description of the restaurant as a whole) do not count as significant sources. Reviews that are too generic or vague to make the determination whether the author had personal experience with the reviewed product are not to be counted as significant sources. Further, the reviews must be published outside of purely local or narrow (highly specialized) interest publications (see also #Audience). For example, a review of a local harvest festival in a local newspaper or a book review in a newsletter by a city's library would not qualify as significant coverage.
  2. Be independent: many reviews are not independent and are, in fact, a type of advertisement and product placement. Sponsored reviews include reviews where the reviewed product is provided free of charge to the author. Often, sponsored nature of a review is not disclosed and not immediately apparent. In particular, a strong indication of a sponsored or other relationship is a review that is excessively positive or negative. Therefore, editors should use reviews only from sources with well established reputation for independence and objectivity. Further, reviews that simply regurgitate someone else's opinion are also not independent sources unless enough original work was put in to produce a meta review (e.g. review aggregators). If the suitability of a source is in doubt, it is better to exercise caution and to exclude the source for the purposes of establishing notability. Once notability is established, not independent reviews may be used to verify some non-controversial facts in the article (e.g. number of employees, number of tables in a restaurant, product models).
  3. Be reliable: the reviews must be published in reliable sources that provide editorial oversight and strive to maintain objectivity. Self-published reviews (e.g. most blogs) do not qualify.

Special note: advertising and promotion

Advertising is prohibited as an official Wikipedia policy. Advertising should be removed by following these steps, in order:

  1. Clean up per Wikipedia:NPOV
  2. Erase remaining advertising content from the article
  3. Delete the article by listing it at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion if no notable content remains. However, if an article contains only blatant advertising, with no other useful content, it may be tagged per Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion instead.

Alternate criteria for specific types of organizations

The following sections discuss alternate methods for establishing notability in specific situations. No organization is considered notable except to the extent that independent sources demonstrate that it has been noticed by people outside of the organization. These criteria constitute an optional, alternative method for demonstrating notability. Organizations are considered notable if they meet one of the following sourcing requirements

  1. these alternate criteria,
  2. the primary criteria for organizations, or
  3. the general notability guideline

and the article complies with the policy Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not, especially with regards to avoiding indiscriminate inclusion of information.

Non-commercial organizations

Organizations are usually notable if they meet both of the following standards:

  1. The scope of their activities is national or international in scale.
  2. The organization has received significant coverage in multiple reliable sources that are independent of the organization.

Additional considerations are:

  • Nationally well-known local organizations: Some organizations are local in scope, but have achieved national or even international notice. Organizations whose activities are local in scope (e.g., a school or club) can be considered notable if there is substantial verifiable evidence of coverage by reliable independent sources outside the organization's local area. Where coverage is only local in scope, consider adding a section on the organization to an article on the organization's local area instead.
  • Factors that have attracted widespread attention: The organization’s longevity, size of membership, major achievements, prominent scandals, or other factors specific to the organization should be considered to the extent that these factors have been reported by independent sources. This list is not exhaustive and not conclusive.
  • Caveat – Be cautious of claims that small organizations are national or international in scale. The fact that an organization has branches in multiple countries does not necessarily mean that its activities are truly international. Example: a tiny fraternal organization with a total membership of sixty members, worldwide, is not "international in scale" simply because the members live in separate countries and have formed sub-chapters where they live.

Local units of larger organizations

  • As a general rule, the individual chapters of national and international organizations are usually not considered notable enough to warrant a separate article – unless they are substantially discussed by reliable independent sources that extend beyond the chapter's local area.
  • In some cases, a specific local chapter or sub-organization that is not considered notable enough for its own article may be significant enough to mention within the context of an article about the parent organization. If the parent article grows to the point where information needs to be split off to a new article, remember that when you split off an article about a local chapter, the local chapter itself must comply with Wikipedia's notability guidelines, without reference to the notability of the parent organization. Take care not to split off a section that would be considered non-notable on its own. Splitting should occur as a top-down process. See {{splitsection}}.
  • Aim for one good article, not multiple permanent stubs: Individual chapters, divisions, departments, and other sub-units of notable organizations are only rarely notable enough to warrant a separate article. Information on chapters and affiliates should normally be merged into the article about the parent organization. See Wikipedia:Merging.
  • Information on sub-chapters of notable organizations might be included in either prose or a brief list in the main article on the organization. If an embedded list becomes too large for the parent article, consideration may be given to splitting out as a stand-alone list only if there are reliable sources dealing with the list as a topic, as with Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities supporting List of Phi Kappa Psi chapters and colonies. If an embedded list is too large, but is not notable enough for a stand-alone list, then consider trimming.

Schools

All universities, colleges and schools, including high schools, middle schools, primary (elementary) schools, and schools that only provide a support to mainstream education must satisfy either this guideline (WP:ORG) or the general notability guideline, or both. For-profit educational organizations and institutions are considered commercial organizations and must satisfy those criteria. (See also WP:SCHOOLOUTCOMES, especially for universities.)

Churches

Individual religious organizations, congregations and churches must meet the notability guideline for organizations and companies or the general notability guideline or both. The fact that a church building is listed on a major historic register such as the National Heritage List for England or the National Register of Historic Places does not necessarily mean that the religious organization that owns or meets in the building is notable. It is quite possible for a building to be notable independently from the institution.

Commercial organizations

Some commercial organizations meet Wikipedia notability guidelines but care must be taken in determining whether they are truly notable and whether the article is an attempt to use Wikipedia for free advertising. Wikipedia editors should not create articles on commercial organizations for the purpose of overtly or covertly advertising a company. Please see WP:NOTADVERTISING.

Publicly traded corporations

There has been considerable discussion over time whether publicly traded corporations, or at least publicly traded corporations listed on major stock exchanges such as the NYSE and other comparable international stock exchanges, are inherently notable. Consensus has been that notability is not automatic in this (or any other) case. However, sufficient independent sources almost always exist for such companies, so that notability can be established using the primary criterion discussed above. Examples of such sources include independent press coverage and analyst reports. Accordingly, article authors should make sure to seek out such coverage and add references to such articles to properly establish notability.

Editors coming across an article on such a company without such references are encouraged to search (or request that others search) prior to nominating for deletion, given the very high (but not certain) likelihood that a publicly traded company is actually notable according to the primary criterion.

Chains and franchises

Many companies have chains of local stores or franchises that are individually pretty much interchangeable—for instance, a local McDonald's. Since there is generally very little to say about individual stores or franchises that is not true for the chain in general, Wikipedia should not have articles on such individual stores. In rare cases, an individual location will have architectural peculiarities that makes it notable, such as the Shell Service Station (Winston-Salem, North Carolina); however, a series of articles on every single Wal-Mart in China would not be informative. An exception can be made if a major event occurred at a local store; however, this would most likely be created under an article name that describes the event, not the location (see San Ysidro McDonald's massacre for an example).

Products and services

If a company is notable, information on its products and services should generally be included in the article on the company itself, unless the company article is so large that this would make the article unwieldy.

When discussion of products and services would make the article unwieldy, some editorial judgment is called for. If the products and services are considered notable enough on their own, one option is to break out the discussion of them into a separate article following WP:Summary style. If the products and services are not notable enough for their own article, the discussion of them should be trimmed and summarized into a shorter format, or even cut entirely if the products are not significantly mentioned in reliable secondary sources.

Avoid creating multiple stubs about each individual product (PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator, Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator, R-36 Explosive Space Modulator, etc.) especially if there is no realistic hope of expansion.

If a non-notable product or service has its own article, be bold and merge it into an article with a broader scope (for example, an article about the type of product) or follow one of the deletion processes.

Note that a specific product or service may be notable on its own, without the company providing it being notable in its own right.

If it's not notable

Although an organization that fails to meet the criteria of this guideline should not have a separate article, information about the organization may nevertheless be included in other ways in Wikipedia provided that certain conditions are met.

Content about the organization can be added into relevant articles if it:

For organizations local to a city, town, or county, content conforming to the above criteria may be added to articles for that locale. For example, a business that is significant to the history or economy of a small town might be described in the History or Economy section of the small town.

See also

Essays:

Notes

  1. ^ But see also WP:SCHOOLOUTCOMES, especially for universities
  2. ^ If the list itself is notable, such as the Fortune 500 and the Michelin Guide, the inclusion counts like any other reliable source, but it does not exempt the article from the normal value of providing evidence that independent sources discuss the subject.
  3. ^ A feature story is usually a longer article where the writer has researched and interviewed to tell a factual story about a person, place, event, idea, or issue. Features are not opinion-driven are more in-depth than traditional news stories.
  4. ^ "Trade magazines: Still a marketer's best friend?". Inprela Communications. 30 May 2017.
  5. ^ Patents are written and published solely at the direction of the inventor or organization that the inventor assigned the patent to. Their contents are not verified to be accurate by the patent offices or any other independent agency. See Wikipedia:Reliable source examples#Are patents reliable sources?.