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Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history/Academy/Pop culture and our position on it

< Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history‎ | Academy

There's no denying it: the world pays attention to its armed forces. From the appearance of legendary war machines like the Iowa-class battleships and SR-71 Blackbirds in films to the passing mentions of tanks and troops in literature and mentions of the heroes of the armed forces in our video games and music, every nation finds in its history a proud pop culture moment.

Often, when these moments make their appearance in real life, editors rush to add the appearance of military units or vehicular or historic figures to the corresponding Wikipedia articles on the subject. Unfortunately, though, these efforts—while made in good faith—are almost always reverted on sight for a couple of reasons, foremost among them the fact that the presence of popular culture related material is in open violation of Wikipedia:Trivia sections and the Manual of Style for the Military history project. This has the unintended effect of creating tension among our contributors, especially those who are new to Wikipedia or those who do not actively contribute to the Military history project.

For all the work we do to keep the articles within our scope free of pop culture, we do understand that there are certain circumstances in which a discussion of the pop culture aspects of the person, group, or device in question is warranted. For that reason we are outlining a few things that should be considered when moving into a discussion of pop culture. Please note that the information provided below only outlines the basics of a pop culture section and ways to know if your particular pop culture reference would hold up in such a section. This information is subject to change over time and is only meant as a guide to pop culture sections; anything you read from this point on should be taken with a grain of salt against the retention of a pop culture section.

Understanding the terrainEdit

"In popular culture" sections should be avoided unless the subject has had a well-cited and notable impact on popular culture. Any popular culture reference being considered for inclusion must be attributed to a reliable source for the article topic. — Military history Wikiproject Manual of Style

Pop culture is not something we like to have in our articles for a number of different reasons, foremost among these being that editors have a tendency to interpret in pop culture sections to mean any appearance of the things in question in any media gets a mention. Consequently, editors dash to add minor appearances of the thing in question to articles, leave no citations for a reliability check, list the appearance on a line to itself, and in some case extend this to equipment that they think may be modeled on the thing the article discusses. ALL of this comes under the umbrella of What Wikipedia is not, specifically Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information, and as such pop culture sections styled like this are ripe for removal for WP:NOT compliance.

In addition, there are varying degrees of acceptance toward pop culture: Some editors are willing to add the material to the article, others are not willing to add pop culture material to articles, and the hawks on site are adamantly against any mention of popular culture in an article. When this fact is taken into consideration with the fact that editors here do maintain articles opinionated clashes can occur between those editors wishing to add pop culture sections to an article and article maintainer protecting their pages from what they interpret to be unconstructive, test, or vandalism-based edits. In these cases the best course of action would be to talk about the edits to the maintainer but be forewarned that the editor(s) maintaining an article are unlikely to sympathetic towards the edition of a pop culture section if they feel it will poison the article content or compromise the article quality.

Is a section needed?Edit

Pop culture sections can be warranted in an article if the person or people pushing for the addition can demonstrate that there are multiple instances of the occurrence, that the occurrence is of particularly notable quality, that the occurrence has an important cultural or symbolic position, or some combination thereof. If you can gather enough material to get at least a few lines in then you have a chance of getting a pop culture section up and running provided that the section in question is worked into the article body and not spun out into its own independent section.

If you have more than a few lines and can adequately support at least two paragraphs of pop culture material and the material meets our standard for reliable sources then you may create a pop culture section for the information at the bottom of the page provided the material is written in paragraph form and each instance of the appearance is cited to at least one reliable source. If your decided to create such a section its highly recommended that you add our hidden text concerning pop culture to the top of the section so that those who edit the page see the information concerning our position on pop culture and the guidelines they will have to follow if they choose to edit the section. The message reads as follows:

<!-- ===============({{Popular culture}})===============
The subject of this article has appeared in popular cultural contexts such as films, video games, novels, strip cartoons, and the like. These are mostly trivial mentions, and listing them adds no value to the encyclopedic treatment of the subject.
Before adding items to this section, please read [[Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history/Style guide#Popular culture]]. Additions that appear to be insignificant and/or are not attributed to a reliable source WILL be removed.
If an item you have added has been removed and you wish to contest its removal, please start a discussion on this article's talk page proposing that it be restored.
===============({{Popular culture}})=============== -->

What gets to go into the section?Edit

...in particular the following, should be avoided:

  • Compendiums of every trivial appearance of the subject in pop culture (trivia)
  • Unsupported speculation about cultural significance or fictional likenesses (original research)

Military history Wikiproject Manual of Style

What goes into a pop culture section is filtered on several levels. For starters, we do not need to know about every appearance of X in Y, a fact that is often wasted on contributors. No one really cares that on page 547 of book A in paragraph B sentence C one lone mention is made of the thing in question. Anything of this nature added to the article is going to get yanked on trivia grounds. By the same token the appearance of similar equipment that has no background story to support its offshoot development from some real to life vehicle should not be added either on grounds that this is original research; while it may be true that the real vehicle served as the inspiration for the fictional likeness the absence of any proof of this fact makes the addition of such material here guess work. In both cases if you add a mention of this nature its going to be yanked, and even if you add reliable sources to back up your information that may not be enough to keep the info in the article.

The next level up is sourcing. Anything lacking a reliable source is going to get yanked, so if you add the material and its not sourced its going to disappear sooner or later, more probably sooner than later. Know that any attempt you make to re-add the material without a source can be construed as vandalism on grounds that you are making nonconstructive edits. This is a fast way to end up blocked for 24-hours, or worse end up on list of editors that admins keep tabs on due to their edit history.

Above this level comes the duration of the appearance of the thing in question. As a rule, the longer the appearance something has made in film or game or book the better the odds are of the mention staying in the article. Think of the equipment used as characters: the main characters are those that stand the best chance of getting to stay in the article, the characters mentioned only in passing are unlikely to be worth a mention in the article.

Lastly, if the thing in question made waves with the public or entered into main stream cultural use it may be worth a pop culture mention. For example, after the Dirty Harry movies came out sales of the .44 magnum increased spectacularly; at one point demand for the gun caused retail prices to triple.