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Wikidata talk:Notability

This is the talk page for discussing improvements to Notability.
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For discussion of the "Exclusion criteria" section of this guideline, please see the /Exclusion criteria subpage.


Previous discussion at Wikidata:Project chatEdit

Notability of autobiographical itemsEdit

According to Jarekt on this discussion the "structural need" criteria can be abused by people creating their own item, and that maybe we should discourage "autobiographical item" creation based on "structural need" (people would still be able to create their own item if they fulfill #1 or #2). I propose to add to #3 that: "If the item is about you or someone you know, this notability criterion is not valid."--Micru (talk) 17:16, 26 December 2018 (UTC)

I don't think "not valid" is the right way to express it. The validity of the criteria should be independent of the person looking at them. How about "You should not use this notability criterion to create an item about you or someone you know." ?? ArthurPSmith (talk) 18:32, 26 December 2018 (UTC)
Yep, that sounds better. Thank you for the correction!--Micru (talk) 18:56, 26 December 2018 (UTC)
Please don't misrepresent the notability policy in that way. If you wish to change the notability policy, start an RfC. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 19:28, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
An RfC might be a good idea. Thinking about it some more, "someone you know" is rather broad, and really doesn't fall under "autobiography" in general. Are we just trying to limit this to the person themselves and those very close to them? In that case maybe "about you or a close friend or relation" would be better? Just thinking of myself I "know" (as in have personally met over my lifetime) tens of thousands of people (my various address-books contain thousands of names). Many of them are clearly "notable" and already have items; others are probably justifiable one way or another. I may have created some of those items already working on filling out author items for scientific articles - would that violate this policy? ArthurPSmith (talk) 20:04, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
@Pigsonthewing: What exactly misrepresents the notability policy? There have been modifications to the policy without the need of an RfC. I would only start an RfC if that would be a broad issue, or if we wouldn't be able to find a consensus here, which we should try to achieve first.--Micru (talk) 12:38, 1 January 2019 (UTC)
@ArthurPSmith: On a second thought, now that you mention the difficulties of defining "knowing someone", perhaps it would be better to rephrase it in terms of what we want to achieve. I think the goal should be that the notability is appraised by a neutral party. Self-aggrandizing behavior and undue attention based on personal relationships are problematic because they distort our project neutrality, however sometimes only a person that knows you can assess if you are important enough, so I guess what matters is the intention of reflecting a reality vs. creating one using Wikidata as a tool to that purpose. What about something more generic: "You should not use this notability criterion to create an item about you or to push someone else's notability."--Micru (talk) 12:38, 1 January 2019 (UTC)
@Micru: That version is reasonable I think. ArthurPSmith (talk) 16:18, 2 January 2019 (UTC)
To me the core question doesn't seem to be importance but whether it's possible to verify the information. When people about whom no public information is available create items about themselves based on their own private knowledge that's problematic for our project. ChristianKl❫ 00:01, 3 January 2019 (UTC)
@ChristianKl: What about: "You should not use this notability criterion to create an item about you, to push someone else's notability, or to add unverifiable data." On the other hand, we have WD:V, which could be updated and promoted to policy and linked from this one.--Micru (talk) 16:29, 4 January 2019 (UTC)
I don't like push someone else's notability as that doesn't seem to me like standard English. When writing policy I would prefer to speak more clearly about what behavior is meant.
If we have a bunch of academic papers in Wikidata, I don't see a problem with the author of those papers creating an item for themselves that links to those scientific papers. I think the problem gets created when items are without being based on public and reliable sources. ChristianKl❫ 17:11, 4 January 2019 (UTC)
@ChristianKl: I would like to clarify that we are dealing with point 3 of the notability criteria. Point 2 still applies, which means that if a person can be described using serious and publicly available references, they are notable.
If you don't like push someone else's notability, what do you suggest instead? What is meant is that in marginally notable items about organizations or events, "structural reasons" shouldn't be enough reason to justify the creation of an item for the members or participants, if those people are not notable by themselves. In my opinion "notability inheritance" should have some limits.--Micru (talk) 17:57, 4 January 2019 (UTC)
Can you give examples of the items that you think we currently have that you think we shouldn't and estimate how many items you think we currently have exist and would be forbidden with this policy change? ChristianKl❫ 20:16, 4 January 2019 (UTC)
@ChristianKl: No, I cannot. The proposed addendum is not a policy change, it is a formalization of WD:UCS. However, Jarekt might have some cases in mind since he originally suggested that we should discourage "Autobiography" creation based on "structural need".--Micru (talk) 22:53, 4 January 2019 (UTC)
  Oppose Policy shouldn't be changed to get longer and more wordy without any specific problem that can be demonstrated to exist. ChristianKl❫ 10:04, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
@ChristianKl: You wrote: When writing policy I would prefer to speak more clearly about what behavior is meant. The wording of "structural need" is unclear and it can drive contributors away that think their item is notable, to have it deleted. If you don't want a longer and more wordy policy, what do you suggest instead to clarify the "structural need"? Would you prefer a separate page like "inclusion criteria"?--Micru (talk) 12:53, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
Given that the policy existed for years and while you have theoretic concerns that the policy could be misinterpreted you can't even point to a single case where it has, I don't think the policy is unclear enough to warrent a change that would increase it's complexity. ChristianKl❫ 12:57, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
@ChristianKl: Now that I think of it, actually I can refer to an item that I created long ago: Q15094827. This person cannot be described by using serious and publicly available references, so I created this item for structural needs. Would have been ok if the person would had created their own item? What about this museum is it acceptable to have an item for the curator based on structural needs?--Micru (talk) 13:14, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
It's easier if you use the {{Q|Q15094827}}-template to point to an item instead of using Wikilinks.
I consider it valuable to have information about the founder of a tax-exempt non-profit corporation like MusicBrainz. It allows you to ask questions like do non-profit corporations are more likely to have female founders then for profit corporations? ChristianKl❫ 14:04, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
@ChristianKl: I agree with you that the item is valuable, that's why I created it, do you think it would have been ok if he had created his own item? And what about the curator of the linked museum above? Is it ok to invite him to create his own item without fearing that it will be deleted?--Micru (talk) 16:18, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
As long as we get good data, I don't mind who creates items. If we have a problem of users creating items about themselves that are problematic, I would see that as a justification to create policy to deal with the problem but at the moment such problems haven't been domenstrated.
To get back to Robert Kaye (Q15094827), there are also plenty of serious and reliable sources that say that he's the founder of MusicBrainz.
Given that the of website of a museum is both serious and reliable for providing information bout who's it's curator, I also see no issue with that information being provided.
It's quite easy to bloat policies by addressing theoretic concerns that create no practical problems and as long s you don't demostrate that we have practical problems you won't convince me to change my mind.ChristianKl❫ 17:36, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
@ChristianKl: From what you write it seems to me that you have a reactive mindset. You don't take the initiative, you let the events set the agenda. Me on the other hand I'm trying to foresee different scenarios and try to make happen the most beneficial for the project. There is no right or wrong, however I think that if we state our preferences we can define our growth direction.
I do not want you to change your mind on anything, however I would like to invite you to imagine possible future scenarios and to decide which one you would like to promote. For instance, would you find interesting a campaign to invite people from small institutions to create items about themselves? And shall we create items for the founders of Wikiprojects?--Micru (talk) 20:43, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
In programming there's the saying "premature optimization is the root of all evil". It's about adding complexity to solve a problem that you don't know matters.
The challenge of writing good policy is similar. If you create all sorts of rules to solve all theoretical problems you can think of, you get documents of the size of Wikipedia's notability policy and it's a lot harder for new users to read them then the size of our policy.
The notability policy is for deciding what's allowed. It's not for deciding what behavior gets promoted. It's okay when different people engage outsiders differently as long there's no conflict.
I don't have a problem when Scholia-PR tells scientists to create an item for themselves and link their papers to see nice grafics about themselves but I also wouldn't invest any energy in that. ChristianKl❫ 21:20, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
@ChristianKl: You didn't answer my question. Do you consider founders of Wikiprojects notable?--Micru (talk) 00:13, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
@Micru: You could first start by demostrating that you understand how that question is different from the one you asked above. ChristianKl❫ 09:53, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
@ChristianKl: The questions are different, yet the intention is the same. I would like to know if in your opinion there are limits to the creation of items for structural needs. To have the founders of the wikiprojects fulfills a structural need, do you consider them notable?--Micru (talk) 11:04, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
I don't consider the question about whether or not the founder of WikiProjects get items to be important. Creating those items in bulk might produce drama with Wikipedia editors and I would irr against that.
Given that our items aren't about the Wikiproject on a particular Wiki but about the set of all Wikiprojects among all the Mediawiki websites I also find it questionable to use speak of that set having a founder. ChristianKl❫ 13:55, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
@ChristianKl: That is correct. Those items represent several projects, however together with the qualifier "applies to part" it would be possible to set the scope and determine the founder for a particular language version or project. I don't see how it would create drama with Wikipedia editors, provided that the statements are properly qualified.
In any case, I have the impression that while you are quite relaxed in terms of what you would allow into Wikidata for structural needs, other admins like MisterSynergy set the bar higher, requiring sufficient external coverage. That creates uncertainty about whether an item is going to be deleted or tolerated. Perhaps it is something to discuss in more detail in another section (see below).--Micru (talk) 22:02, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  Support ArthurPSmith version. --Jarekt (talk) 04:49, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
  Oppose any of the suggested changes here. In my opinion, item notability and COI editing are independent aspects which should not be dealt with in conjunction with each other in this notability policy. If users should not be allowed to edit/create items about themselves if certain criteria are met, I suggest to cast this into a separate (COI) policy. —MisterSynergy (talk) 18:11, 4 January 2019 (UTC)
@MisterSynergy: The guidelines about users editing/creating items about themselves has been drafted here: Wikidata:Autobiography. This is a clarification of the notability criteria #3 about "structural reasons". Many people can be notable for "structural reasons", but do we want that?--Micru (talk) 22:53, 4 January 2019 (UTC)
Autobiographical items are not the reason why "notability due to structural reasons, #3" is poorly defined. I understand your intention, but I really do not think that it is a good idea to "clarify" such things in this policy. The notability policy is a content-related policy, while COI editing is a user behavior-related policy. If we mix those policies, it becomes more difficult to make consistent and widely accepted administrative decisions based on them. Consider a situation where someone violated the notability policy in its proposed form: an admin would somehow be forced to delete the item and remove all the backlinks, but someone else could claim notability and request undeletion, or just re-create a new item with its backlinks. The administrative decision would look awkward and wrong, but the reason for that would be a poor policy (which barely anyone sees). I really do not like COI-editing as well, but as long as it results in proper content, I prefer not to remove or delete it. This, however, is not part of the question whether an item meets the notability requirements or not. —MisterSynergy (talk) 17:53, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
It's also worth noting that our content for COI requires attribution of the COI. When I encoutered problematic self-interest COI item creation the user usually didn't do well in the attribution department and that's ground for dealing with it. ChristianKl❫ 18:02, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
I'm curious. Where does it say that COI has to be declared? I only knew about paid editing needing to be declared.--Micru (talk) 20:43, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
I just rechecked and you are right the COI-RfC that we had a while back didn't come to a conclusion and we only have the foundation rules against undisclosed payed editing. ChristianKl❫ 21:20, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
@MisterSynergy: That is definitely an interesting argument. However, intent has precedence over notability. For something or someone to be notable, someone else has to want them to be notable by giving them attention. The notability policy should (loosely) specify the pool of potential notable candidates to a person. And how does a person know if they themselves are in the pool? They are either described by sources (rarely) or fit into another item (more frequently). That is not user behaviour, that is defining the notability boundaries. According to ChristianKl, everybody can consider themselves notable for "structural needs". According to Jarekt, people should not consider themselves notable for "structural needs". In the past the policy read "If there is no item about you yet, you are probably not notable", but since that was removed we are left with the situation that many people are potentially notable for "structural needs". If you prefer to leave it like that, for me it is fine. We can leave the door open for everyone to create their own item for structural needs, maybe that increases the popularity of the project (just to clarify, I'm being serious, not sarcastic).--Micru (talk) 20:43, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
"Structural need" is not necessarily established by the creation of one or two backlinks. We do already look a little closer at backlinks when considering deletion of an item, and quite often backlinked items are unlinked and then deleted. A relevant factor in those cases is whether there are serious sources backing a reasonable amount of data in the item, i.e. whether it is properly identified and content can easily be verified by other users than the item creator. "Serious sources" typically means no sources that are under control of the entity itself (such as social media handles, personal or professional websites), and no user generated content such as open wikis and the like. This is already established practice, and we do not need an amendmend for COI editing in the notability policy to deal with those cases.
Btw. I prefer to judge about "whether an item meets the notability requirements", rather than "whether a person is notable". Notability refers to content in this sense, not to persons or entities. The difference might look like a matter of semantics as the outcome is the same (subject can or cannot be described by an item), but this removes a personal notion from the judgement. When the content is okay (properly referenced as described), I do not see a reason to remove it. —MisterSynergy (talk) 09:58, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
@MisterSynergy: From what you say it seems to me that you never apply #3 as a stand-alone criterion, always together with #2. Is my interpretation correct?--Micru (talk) 11:04, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
At least for items about persons, organizations and events I do look whether there is sufficient external coverage provided in the item. For persons we also have Wikidata:Living people in place which states that “we strive to provide only information in whose veracity we have a high confidence”; this is an explicit requirement for some kind of serious external sources *in the item* (if no Wikipedia article is connected of which we assume that it is backed by sources as well). On the other hand, items such as rugby league player (Q14373094), carcinologist (Q16868721), music historian (Q20198542), or LGBT rights activist (Q19509201) are notable solely due to structural reasons/#3 only. There are no sitelinks, no identifiers, no references in these items, and although I would really welcome if someone changed that, there is no doubt about their notability as structural values for occupation (P106) statements in these cases. Although I am not 100% sure, I think that such items orginally fell under the "structural need" criterion, before it was also applied by some editors for other needs like individual family relationships, or meanwhile also "in use in another Wikimedia project" as we discuss with Commoncat-only sitelinked items that have an Wikidata-using infobox in the Commons cat these days.
That said, there is no secret admin manual that tells me how to exactly interpret the notability requirements. I do have the feeling, however, that my position is pretty common within the admin corps. —MisterSynergy (talk) 11:29, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
@MisterSynergy: I do not expect any admin manual and I definitely trust your feeling when determining notability. What I am interested in, is in translating that feeling into policy to avoid confusion. It seems that there are two kind of items created for structural needs, regular items likes the one you linked which seem perfectly acceptable, and items about persons, organizations and events, which in your opinion require "sufficient external coverage provided in the item". I'll open a new section about that below.--Micru (talk) 22:02, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  •   Weak support "You should not use this criterion to create an item about you or someone you know". I think on balance this probably would be a useful addition to the policy -- perhaps with the footnote that if such an item is indeed necessary, please request a neutral uninvolved editor to create it. I think this probably is the right way to go forward, even eg for a scientific author wanting to claim which cases of author name string (P2093) = "J.S. Smith" referred to themself. A link to current COI policy could also be included in the footnote. Jheald (talk) 21:13, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
    • @Jheald: The clause "someone you know" is problematic, because it can be misinterpreted, and because we cannot define clearly the degree of closeness. Also, there is no COI policy, unless that you refer to Wikidata:Autobiography, which hasn't been approved yet.--Micru (talk) 00:13, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
      • Wikidata:Autobiography does not require "approval", because it is informal guidance, not a draft policy. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:48, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
        • That's true, however until now it had the "draft" template. I think now there is enough consensus to change it to "guideline".--Micru (talk) 12:56, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  •   Support "You should not use this criterion to create an item about you or someone you know". I am surprised that Fuzheado unilaterally removed the sentence if there is no item about you yet, you are probably not notable. Plenty of people are creating items about themselves and we really need to discourage that. − Pintoch (talk) 08:55, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
    • No, we do not. We need to discourage the creation of inappropriate items, whether or not they are autobiographical. Items that are autobiographical, but meet our criteria, are fine; indeed, they are to be welcomed. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 13:58, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
  •   Oppose - There has been no demonstration of the scale or scope of any problem the above changes are trying to solve. As ChristianKl (talkcontribslogs) and MisterSynergy (talkcontribslogs) have pointed out, we risk over-instructing folks for no good reason. Because Wikidata notablity is very different than Wikipedia notablity, the likelihood of encountering "someone you know" when editing things for structural needs, academic authors, et al. is much higher. And that's OK. To Pintoch (talkcontribslogs), I removed the "if there is no item about you yet, you are probably not notable" because it is logically flawed, wishy-washy, and inappropriate for a high profile policy page. -- Fuzheado (talk) 01:33, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

Structural needs and external coverageEdit

Do items created for structural needs about people require sufficient external coverage provided in the item? If so, is it relevant to inform about it?--Micru (talk) 22:02, 6 January 2019 (UTC)

There's some work within Wikidata that has the intent that our own ontology trees are consistent. That work provides structural needs that aren't always about external coverage. ChristianKl❫ 10:02, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
@ChristianKl: I am referring to items about people (see above).--Micru (talk) 10:18, 7 January 2019 (UTC)


Screenshot of a highly-indented Wikidata talk page discussion, viewed on a 15" laptop screen, in Firefox, with default text sizes.

This page is, for me and no doubt many others, unreadable. I fixed it once, but have been reverted. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 22:26, 6 January 2019 (UTC)

@Pigsonthewing: I don't know why you were reverted, maybe Succu thought that you were altering the content. It is unfortunate that you don't see the page well, could you open a ticket?--Micru (talk) 23:56, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
If your hypothesis were correct, then "readability" would be a very misleading edit summary. I don't need to open a ticket; nor there is a case of me not seeing well. I - and the rest of Wikidata - simply need people to use the existing tools sensibly. Which is what my edit did. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 21:47, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
I don't have any readability problem, and perhaps other people don't since they haven't complained. Your edited addressed a problem that apparently only you had. Since it is a problem exclusive to you, why don't you report it? Even if more people had the same problem, I don't see anything wrong reporting it.--Micru (talk) 23:20, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
For the reason I gave you in my previous comment. Your assumptions are, once again, false. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 16:16, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
I don't know which assumptions you are talking about.--Micru (talk) 18:07, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
I think that this can be a reason to fire his sysop right, isn't that? -- 23:38, 23 January 2019 (UTC)


I would like to clarify two things of the policy. Point 1.4 seems confusing, sometimes there are sitelinks in normal items, what to do with those? The policy doesn't say. I would say that the same rule applies, so I would make the rule more generic and understandable, like this: "In addition, sitelinks on items to category pages on Wikimedia Commons are allowed if and only if they are linked with pages on other Wikimedia sites."

The other thing is about "structural need". According to the conversation in the previous section, just by linking the item from another item should not become notable by this criterion. I would like to add the current practice, something like: "However, items about people require sufficient external coverage."--Micru (talk) 00:07, 17 January 2019 (UTC)

  Oppose. The first change prohibits too much. E.g., the Commons link on Ezechiel Davidson (Q19797584) would not be allowed. The existing wording is already bad, and it shouldn't be singling out a particular project for special treatment. The notability policy is supposed to be about notability of items, not about what sitelinks can go where. For the second change, you are basically removing the "structural need" criterion entirely, I think, since it would be redundant with 2, "clearly identifiable conceptual or material entity". Ghouston (talk) 02:13, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
@Ghouston: The item you have linked fulfills criterion 2, but having a link to a Commons category should not be reason enough to fulfill criterion 1. Regarding the "structural need" criterion, bear in mind that the clarification affects only items about people. The rest of the items would not be affected.--Micru (talk) 09:38, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
  Oppose The clause in question was specifically adjusted to read as it does, so that substantive items can be created here if a Commons category exists. This is a feature, not a bug, and it should not be reversed. Part of what Wikidata is here for is to allow the contents of Wikimedia projects to be described and understood in structured terms. Commons has that need just as much as any other project -- in fact arguably more so, given its intrinsic multilingual ambition, and the revolutionary success of Wikidata infobox in starting to make that a real thing.
The first aim should be to create items for the things we need to describe. Sourcing may then follow. That's the way it has worked for everything else on Wikidata, Commons should be no different. Jheald (talk) 19:58, 24 January 2019 (UTC)
@Jheald: This policy was created to defend the interests of Wikidata and its contributors from non-notable items like the ones you are advocating for. With your comment you imply that the needs of Commons are more important than the needs of Wikidata, something I disagree with. --Micru (talk) 23:25, 25 January 2019 (UTC)

Common practicesEdit

@ChristianKl, MisterSynergy: Since you are perhaps more familiar with current administration practices than me, I was wondering if you could take a look to the proposed clarification and appraise if it reflects current practices, or if it introduces something new. I had the impresion from previous conversation that the proposed clarification with would bring WD:N more in line with what already is being done. I would appreciate your input here.--Micru (talk) 17:30, 6 February 2019 (UTC)

I am not sure whether we need “clarification” at all. As the admin who does (quantitatively) by far the largest amount of deletions these days, I do not have the impression that editors do not understand how our notability policy works. There are occasionally requests for undeletions, but numbers are really small and such issues are typically resolved without much trouble (i.e. folks are neither questioning the policy as such, nor do we have disputes about how to interpret its wording). From administrative perspective I am also fine with (most of) the current wording of the policy, as it allows some flexibility during decision making. At the same time, our users are actually pretty good in making items that are in line with the current policy. On your two aspects in particular:
  • With respect to SDC’s dawn I would not touch the commonscat issue of the policy right now. Maybe there will be changes, but if so they require much more consensus than a short proposal on this page. Mind that there have been several discussions in the past already.
  • If we could define “structural need” I would be happy, but your proposal does not really do this. There are other policies wrt. people (particularly Wikidata:Living people) which define some boundaries about what is possible. There is also a common deletion reason which points to that policy (rarely used).
Maybe it is worth to mention that our administration is pretty understaffed, so that we really only have attention for the most obviously problematic items (plus what is requested for deletion at WD:RfD). If there were more admins, particularly ones which engage in the deletion business, we might at some point reach a situation where decisions became a little more complicated, but this is not the case right now. Particularly situations involving commonscat-only items are rather rare. We have tons of precarious items with much more severe problems and they are somehow using up all our administrative workforce :-) —MisterSynergy (talk) 20:40, 6 February 2019 (UTC)

Request for Comment regarding Commonswiki categoriesEdit

Please see "Wikidata:Requests for comment/Allow for Wikidata items to be created that only link to a single Wikimedia Commons category (Wikidata notability discussion)" for a discussion related to the inclusion of Wikidata items whose only (Wikimedia) sitelinks link yo Wikimedia Commons. -- Donald Trung/徵國單  (討論 🀄) (方孔錢 💴) 19:17, 12 February 2019 (UTC)

Return to the project page "Notability".