[Foundation-l] Six criteria for Wikipedia inclusion

GerardM gerard.meijssen at gmail.com
Sun Oct 1 10:53:56 UTC 2006

I really hate articles that try to pin down what should be done particularly
because others then have to comply with what is proposed. For many of the
arguments equally valid arguments can be brought that polarise the situation
even more..

A good example is this "a decent size".  Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia. This
means that it does not have to tell it all, it has to give a decent basis on
the subject. There are however many articles that are truly long and it can
be argued that they are no longer encyclopaedic it their outlook. The
en:Gandhi article is one such. I would argue that your "decent sized" is no
longer what you would call an encyclopaedic sized article. Making this
article shorter could in turn create "problems" because some points of view
might no longer find a place in the article.

Another problem with "decent size" is that about some things there is not
that much to say. Removing them from wikipedia is fine, if the notion of
"bringing all the knowledge" is for what the Wikimedia Foundation intends to
do and is not what Wikipedia is about. Decent sized would mean enough
information is provided in my book and it would not be quantative in the way
you use it.

You assume that we have to comply with "the law" and consequently that there
are things we cannot have articles about. I would like you to substantiate
that. When things are publicly known, we may not use material because all
kinds of IP restrictions but I doubt that we can not inform about it. When
we do not want to report about people, it is a choise a choise that is as
much about the peron involved being a public figure thant anything else.
Remember in Wikipedia we create an encyclopaedia and the next moron shooting
ducks in a school may be something for Wikinews but in the larger scheme of
things it is a non-event.

Your idea about what makes something encyclopaedic is indeed fuzzy. You
start by excluding several categories of information and end your position
paper with "I think the less popular something is the *more* useful it is to
include information about it in Wikipedia". You cannot have it both ways. I
would say that when something is sufficiently relevant it may be included.
Starwars is very much fictional and it is very much relevant to our culture.
In the same way I am happy to see that "the roman de la rose" has it's well
deserved article. This was in it's day more popular than the bible (1).

What is also "fuzzy" for me is what "human dignity" is about. Many people
have done things that are extremely undignified and are of a relevance that
inclusion in Wikipedia is the right thing to do..

Concluding, I take your pov as a discussion paper, and there is enough meat
to chew on.


(1) Herfstij der Middeleeuwen - Johan Huizinga

On 10/1/06, Anthony <wikilegal at inbox.org> wrote:
> On 9/30/06, Anthony <wikilegal at inbox.org> wrote:
> > On 9/30/06, Brad Patrick <bradp.wmf at gmail.com> wrote:
> > > > In fact maybe we can beat them to the punch.  Create a verifiable
> > > > neutral article about them *before* they get around to it.
> > > >
> > >
> > > True to your belief everything should be in Wikipedia, Anthony.  I
> disagree.
> > >
> > In a perfect world "everything" should be in Wikipedia, I suppose, but
> > I don't believe we live in such a perfect world.  Please don't
> > misrepresent my position.
> >
> I thought I'd expand a little bit on what my position is.  I can think
> of six criteria off the top of my head for Wikipedia articles.  They
> must be:
> 1) based on verifiable sources - anything which can not be written
> about using verifiable sources shouldn't be in Wikipedia - this
> criterion includes the concept of "no original research" - this is a
> big part of what I mean by "in a perfect world...", as in a perfect
> world we'd be able to verify anything.
> 2) NPOV - if an article is not written from a neutral point of view it
> should generally be rewritten - however, in some cases perhaps it
> makes more sense to simply remove the article - this criterion
> includes the concept of barring autobiographies.
> 3) encyclopedic - this is perhaps the fuzziest criterion, but it would
> exclude things like essays, lists of quotes, articles about words,
> fiction, etc.
> 4) legal - due to various laws, including but not limited to privacy
> laws and so called "intellectual property" laws, there are some things
> we can't legally have free articles about
> 5) of a decent size - articles which are too short and will likely
> never be expanded should generally be merged with other articles and
> redirected.
> 6) in line with human dignity - this would prohibit disclosure of
> certain types of private information, even in cases where it's
> probably legal under US law to include the information - I also think
> we should give the benefit of the doubt in borderline cases to people
> who ask that private information, especially biographies, not be
> included - however, I only think we should take this so far, and in
> the case of legally disclosable and already widely available public
> information I think the NPOV principle overrides any concerns about
> disclosing negative information.
> One criterion that I explicitly do not include is how popular
> something is.  In fact, I think the less popular something is the
> *more* useful it is to include information about it in Wikipedia.
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