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Submissions/The End of notability

From Wikimania 2012 • Washington, D.C., USA

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no.


Title of the submission
The End of notability
Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
Author of the submission
David Goodman,
E-mail address
DGG at enWP
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

The concept of notability is meaningless; in practice, it means our local view of what we should have an article on We decide what we want, and then call it "notable, " and try to fit it into the rules. In particular, the concept of the General notability guideline at the English wikipedia, that two reliable sources giving substantial coverage is the necessary requirement, fails for the types of subjects where the specified sources do not usually exist, which includes a good deal of computer topics, and most of non-Western traditional culture. An encyclopedia is not designed in the abstract; it exists to serve the users. What users might want information on, is what we should provide, if there are sources that are sufficiently reliable. Sufficiently reliable, in the Wikipedia context is much less than reliable in the academic world. Popularity indicates there should be a Wikipedia article; importance indicates there should be a Wikipedia article ; leadership in a segment of the world indicates there should be a Wikipedia article. There is no such thing as too many articles, or too wide coverage.

The various Wikipedias deal with this differently; I am primarily talking about the English Wikipedia, but some of the others are even more restrictive. The merit of Wikipedia in general is the extremely wide coverage. It is a way to permit amateurs to write with reasonable accuracy on avery wide range of subjects in which they are not expert, by relying on accurate citation of references to the work of people who publish in the conventional way. It's not as accurate as if they were experts, but it permits the coverage of an immense variety of material that would not otherwise be easily available. It's an experiment, and one that has proven useful way beyond anyone's expectations. When such an unexpected thing works so well, there's a virtue in continuing along it's methods, and then expanding on them.

The is a possible question of whether we should have a Wikipedia Two - an encyclopedia supplement where the standard of notability is much relaxed, but which will be different from Wikia by still requiring WP:Verifiability, and NPOV. It would include the lower levels of barely notable articles in Wikipedia, and the upper levels of a good deal of what we do not let in. It would for example include both high schools and elementary schools. It would include college athletes. It would include political candidates. It would include neighborhood businesses, and fire departments. It would include individual asteroids. It would include anyone who had a credited role in a film, or any named character in one--both the ones we currently leave out, and the ones we put in. This should satisfy both the inclusionists and the deletionists. The deletionists will have this material out of Wikipedia, the inclusionists will have it not rejected.

But consider what would happen if we had a search option: Do you want to see everything (WP+WP2), or only the notable (W)? Anyone care to guess which people would choose?

Track (Wikis and the Public Sector; GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums); WikiCulture and Community; Research, Analysis, and Education; Technology and Infrastructure)
WikiCulture and Community
Length of presentation/talk (if other than 25 minutes, specify how long)
25 Minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
Special request as to time of presentations (for example - can not present on Saturday)

Interested attendees

If you are interested in attending this session, please sign with your username below. This will help reviewers to decide which sessions are of high interest. Sign with four tildes. (~~~~).

  1. Risker 05:56, 19 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  2. CT Cooper · talk 11:51, 19 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  3. I'm very interested in the debate on notability. NaBUru38 16:45, 23 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  4. "and most of non-Western traditional culture". This one line alone persuaded me to sign my name here. Deryck Chan (talk) 14:11, 20 April 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  5. David Shankbone (talk) 17:13, 18 May 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  6. NaBUru38 (talk) 18:07, 7 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Emw (talk) 20:27, 16 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Shujenchang (talk) 04:29, 22 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Kudpung (talk) 15:37, 30 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Pgallert (talk) 15:26, 3 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  11. Johnbod (talk) 01:05, 5 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  12. Blue Rasberry (talk) 01:06, 6 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  13. Daniel Case (talk) 04:44, 12 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  14. Geraldshields11 (talk) 19:39, 12 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  15. Sj (talk) (though I can't make it thanks to a conflict :)
  16. Add your username here.