Want to get a Wikipedia page? Here's the secret: Notability. You either have it, or you create it. The guidelines in this article will help you understand the building blocks that go into creating a Wikipedia page, and how to engineer them.
Notability is a concept used by Wikipedia editors to determine whether a subject merits an article. It's important to note that the notability guideline does not determine the content of an article - just its existence.
So, what does notability have to do with it? Basically, a subject is assumed to be notable if it has received "significant coverage" in "reliable sources" that are not controlled by the subject of the Wikipedia article.Wikipedia notability 101
The basic principles of Wikipedia notability are:
Significant Coverage: The subject of the article must have received significant coverage from reliable sources. "Significant coverage" means that the source addresses the subject directly and in detail; a mere mention or two in an article is not enough.
Reliable Sources: Wikipedia sources must be reliable. That means they are third-party publications with a reputation for accuracy and fact-checking. This could include newspapers, magazines, academic journals, books, and other reputable publications.
Independent of the Subject: The sources must be independent of the subject. Self-published sources such as personal blogs, social media profiles, press releases, or a website controlled by the subject of the article are not considered reliable when determining the notability for a Wikipedia article.
Meeting the notability guidelines for a Wikipedia article does not guarantee an article will survive. It just means that the topic is appropriate for its article, but it still has to meet Wikipedia's other policies and guidelines as well as objective and subjective decisions made by editors.
Why you should establish notability before creating an article
Notability should be established upfront because once an article is deleted for a lack of notability, it is difficult to create a second time without going above and beyond what might have initially worked.
In addition to the basic notability guidelines, here are subject-specific guidelines for notability. For instance, for musicians or bands to be considered notable, they probably need to have released at least one album on a major record label or received significant coverage from multiple independent and reliable sources.
Biographies of living persons
For people who are currently alive to have a Wikipedia article created, they must adhere to BLP guidelines, or Biographies of Living Persons.
Privacy Concerns: For biographies of living persons (BLP), special consideration is given to privacy concerns. While this is a general guideline for all Wikipedia articles, it is emphasized for BLPs due to the potential for real-world harm.
- Special Content Restrictions: BLPs have unique restrictions of categories do not, such as a higher bar for avoiding unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material. Editors are especially careful for BLP quality guidelines.
Unverified or Potentially Defamatory Content: BLP policy states that unverified or potentially defamatory content shouldn't be included when creating Wikipedia articles, regardless of whether it is covered by a reliable source.
Higher Standard of Sources: BLP articles demand higher standards for sourcing, particularly when it comes to negative information. The sources used should be of high quality and reliability, and they must directly support the information as it is presented in the article.
A battle rages on Wikipedia. On one hand, most companies would like the prestige that comes with having a Wikipedia article about them. On the other hand, many Wikipedia editors simply do not like companies, and will find any reason to take down or degrade articles about companies - no matter their market segment.
Crypto-related companies seem to have an especially hard time. Reputation X is often asked to create pages for cryptocurrency companies, but references from most industry cryptocurrency publications, on their own, are not enough to prove notability.
Financial services companies are another industry segment that must endure additional challenges, but not nearly so many as gambling companies.
Good vs. bad Wikipedia references
A Washington Post article about a subject is usually considered a good reference when creating a Wikipedia page, whereas a press release about the same subject is not considered notable.
Examples of sources Wikipedia generally deems unreliable include:
- Tabloid newspapers
- Articles by contributors rather than staff writers
- Fan sites like Fandom.com
- Content owned or controlled by the subject
- Press releases
- State-controlled media (propaganda)
- Reddit conversations
- Sputnik News
- The Onion
... and many more. For further reading, see this article.
Why a press release isn't considered notable
We are often asked why press releases are not reliable. After all, isn't the subject of an article the primary source and, therefore, more reliable? A press release isn't considered notable as a Wikipedia article reference because the subject of the prospective Wikipedia article can control the press release. A press release, or similar content that the subject can control, is considered a "primary source."
A press release is essentially self-promotion. Anyone can have a press release created for less than $100. That is why a press release is considered "owned" content, whereas a Wikipedia reference needs to be "earned" content.
Creating an article when there's not quite enough notability
If a subject of the new Wikipedia article does not quite have notability, it may be possible to engineer notability. Keep in mind, most people and businesses cannot achieve the notability necessary, but some subjects are almost close enough and just need a nudge to get over the line.
Some subjects are almost close enough and just need a nudge to get over the line.
Here is an example of earning notability: Reputation X recently helped a financial services client develop a new Wikipedia article. The company was preparing for a sale and knew that a Wikipedia article could improve its valuation. The problem was that new articles about companies in the financial services space are considered challenging to earn. It's a closely watched topic, with many PR firms trying to get their clients into Wikipedia.
How we achieved notability for our client
Our solution was to identify similar companies with existing articles. Then we identified the types of publications that supported their articles. We then performed a gap analysis between what our client had and what it needed (based on what similar companies had). Then we generated headline ideas and a target list of publications and provided that to our client's internal PR team.
Our client spent 90 days performing outreach and ended up with a handful of good articles that could be used as references - about 25% of the articles they successfully pitched. Once they had the additional notability in place, we began the process of creating a new Wikipedia article for them. Then new article was accepted by senior editors and stands to this day.
Other considerations when creating a new Wikipedia article
There are (at least) four things to consider when creating a Wikipedia article.
- Notability test
- Many references to the subject
- References themselves have a Wikipedia article
- Bad Wikipedia sources
Get it right the first time: 1,000 articles removed daily
Every day, Wikipedia takes down about 1,000 articles. The articles are removed by either people or specialized bots. The bots sometimes have fun names like ClueBot NG and Huggle.
Wikipedia editors make mistakes, mainly around notability requirements. Sometimes Wikipedia articles are removed because an editor just thought it should be gone, and no one objected. This often happens to articles that were created years ago but were overlooked. As Wikipedia guidelines evolve, articles may succumb to deletion.
1. Is the subject notable enough for Wikipedia inclusion?
At its core, Wikipedia strives for reliability. Are there articles written about your brand or about you? A Wikipedia article about a person requires the person to be notable. Many people and brands believe they are notable but aren't (Tip: you can take a quick notability test to get a rough idea).
Does a simple mention count as a Wikipedia reference?
No. An article where the subject is just mentioned or quoted is not usually good enough to merit inclusion as a reference. Articles about the subject need to be *about* the subject as the main angle of the article (or another type of content).
The ideal type of online content to be used when creating a Wikipedia article could be something like an interview, a biography, a scientific paper, or an article by a reasonably well-regarded author. In other words, a blog contributor on a little-known blog does not count. In fact, a contributor as an author is far less likely to be accepted when compared to a staff writer.
Here are two "rule of thumb" guidelines:
- Is your brand name (or your name) in the article's title?
- Is the article on a site many, if not most, people have heard of?
Wikipedia states it this way:
If a topic has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject, it is presumed to be suitable for a stand-alone article or list.
Certain subjects within Wikipedia have particular guidelines called subject-specific notability guidelines.
2. Are there numerous well-known references online?
The quality of good citations is essential for reference-able Wikipedia content, and so is quantity.
It takes more than one reference to make a Wikipedia article. Far more. For example, a biography of a living person requires web references for most, if not all, facts presented. Wikipedia editors are very picky about this.
For example, a statement like: "John Smith is the CEO of Acme Roadrunner food and was born in Ventura, California on July 5th, 1964." would ideally require one or two solid and verifiable references about the facts contained in the sentence.
Acceptable references could be public birth records on a government website or an article about John Smith in a well-known and respected publication.
An example of this would be Elon Musk's Wikipedia article, which has numerous references. At least one of the references is to Wired.com, a well-known tech publication (see an image of his citations above).
Primary vs. reliable Wikipedia sources
What is a primary Wikipedia source?
According to Wikipedia, a primary source is original content that is close to an event and is often an account written by people who are directly involved with the subject. Primary sources cannot be used for new Wikipedia articles (usually). A self-published website the subject is not acceptable as a reference (more examples of bad Wikipedia references here).
You cannot generally use your own website as a Wikipedia reference
Examples of a primary source would be the subject's website, a press release by the subject, proxy statements, patents, etc.
What is a reliable Wikipedia source?
A reliable Wikipedia source is a third-party, published source with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. These are usually considered "secondary sources".
Examples of reliable Wikipedia sources include reasonably well-known and reliable news sites, video news interviews, government databases, and similar publications. Scholarly articles have value, but articles that cite scholarly articles are often better.
Is Wikipedia a reliable source for Wikipedia?
No. Wikipedia itself states that Wikipedia is not a reliable source. Wikipedia states the following:
"Wikipedia is not a reliable source for citations elsewhere on Wikipedia. Because it can be edited by anyone at any time, any information it contains at a particular time could be vandalism, a work in progress, or just plain wrong.".
3. Ideally, the references themselves have a Wikipedia article
Ideally, each site used as a reference will also have its own Wikipedia article. For example, the New York Times has its own Wikipedia article. Therefore it is probably a notable reference.
When working to get a Wikipedia article, do all references need to have their own Wikipedia articles? No. But it's a good idea to do so, especially when an article is new.
Why? When a publication used as a reference already has its own Wikipedia article, editors are more likely to see that reference as reliable.
Remember that a mere mention of the brand being referenced on a publication with its own Wikipedia article isn't enough – the referenced article must still be "about" the subject and not just be a passing mention.
A publication with its own Wikipedia article is generally trusted, but not always. Take Fox News, for example. In August 2020, Wikipedia stopped calling Fox News a reliable source. To quote Wired:
...a panel of Wikipedia administrators in July declared that Fox News would no longer be considered “generally reliable” in its reporting on politics and science, and in those areas “should be used with caution to verify contentious claims.
Still, in most cases, the existence of a Wikipedia article for publication means it can be considered reliable and would therefore make a good reference.
4. Avoid "bad" Wikipedia sources
When creating a new Wikipedia article, weak or "bad" reference sources should be avoided. Certain types of publications are considered non-reliable. Bad Wikipedia references include the following:
- Self-published material like the subject's own website (this is common)
- Fox News (considered "marginally reliable")
- Nearly all sites that rely on user-generated content
- Tabloid journalism
- Amazon reviews
- Reddit (anyone can post on Reddit)
- Blogspot.com (and most blogging sites)
- International Business Times
- WikiLeaks (sometimes)
- Occupy Democrats
- PR Newswire
For a more exhaustive list with explanations, check out this article.
Should you create your own Wikipedia article?
Self-written articles seem to have an odor
Wikipedia rules say that you should not create your own Wikipedia article. Doing so would be considered a conflict of interest. From a practical standpoint, it's difficult to write your own Wikipedia article anyway because, let's face it, it is hard to be objective about oneself. Self-written articles seem to have a certain odor to them that professional Wikipedia editors can easily sense.
articles removed for conflict of interest are tough to revive
If you write your own Wikipedia article and it gets taken down, it is very difficult to get a new article - even if you do it right the second time. Why? Because it will be suspect, and so will its author(s).
Creating Wikipedia articles can be a bit like a metaphorical knife fight. The person or persons who take a Wikipedia article down will almost certainly be watching to see if someone tries to put the article back up again in the future. So even if you are concerned about false information in an existing article, think twice before editing it yourself.
Am I eligible for a Wikipedia article?
There are four things to consider when determining Wikipedia eligibility. Are you not able? Are there numerous references to you online? Do the references themselves have a Wikipedia article? Are the references from notable sources? If the answer to these questions is no, then you probably aren't eligible for a Wikipedia article.
Can I make a Wikipedia article about myself?
You can, but you shouldn't. Wikipedia rules say that you should not create your own Wikipedia article. Doing so would be a conflict of interest. If you decide to write one anyway, and it gets taken down, it is very difficult to get a new article because your name will be flagged.
Why does Wikipedia remove articles?
Every day Wikipedia editors and bots take down about 1,000 articles. They are removing articles that are not well sourced, are biased, or are promotional in nature.
- Wikipedia Biographies of Living Persons - Rules about living person Wiki articles.
- What is a neutral point of view for Wikipedia articles?
- How Wikipedia articles use images.
- What is a reliable source for a Wikipedia article?
- Who are Wikipedia editors? Demographics and more.
- Should you edit your own Wikipedia article?
- Why create a WikiData entry even if you can't get a Wikipedia article.
- Wikipedia alternatives