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How influence and authority affect Wikipedia eligibility
Updated on July 14, 2021 by Reputation X
- Notability is a trait Wikipedia uses to determine whether a topic or subject is worthy enough to have its own page in Wikipedia.
- Notability is the ability of the subject to attract attention based on its merit over a sustained, significant period.
- Almost any person or business can become notable by attracting attention over time.
- A subject should be the primary topic of several reliable information sources to be considered notable enough to have a Wikipedia page.
- Notability is not the same as popularity.
- A Wikipedia article about a bug is easier to get than one about a person or business.
Wikipedia can be a headache for anyone trying to use the platform for marketing and promotional purposes. The founders of Wikipedia specifically forbid using it as a marketing platform. But its popularity and pervasive high search engine rankings attract marketers and business owners alike, though few are able to master Wikipedia's many pitfalls. The biggest pitfall of all is notability.
At the end of the day, it's still an encyclopedia. Wikipedia is not a platform on which just any average business profile can appear.
To put some distance between those two purposes, Wikipedia instituted a set of notability guidelines a subject to be eligible to have its own article. These guidelines give Wikipedia editors a concrete method of determining whether a subject should have a standalone article, be mentioned in a “parent” article, or even be included on the platform at all (most fall into this latter category).
In this article:
- What does “notability” mean to Wikipedia?
- How does a person or company become notable?
- What are Wikipedia’s requirements for establishing notability?
What does notability mean on Wikipedia?
For Wikipedia’s purposes, notability is a trait used to determine whether a topic or subject is worthy enough to have its own article.
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia and therefore does not accept content indiscriminately. Subjects of Wikipedia articles should be worthy of notice and the information contained within the content must be verifiable.
This means that most individuals and businesses simply do not qualify for a Wikipedia page.
That does not stop someone from submitting one, but most likely one of two things will happen:
- It either won’t be published
- Or it will be quickly deleted
There are thousands of editors whose sole mission is to delete articles based on a lack of notability, and they are efficient in their work. Many are assisted by various types of Wikipedia bots.
What makes someone notable enough for Wikipedia inclusion?
Almost any person or business can become notable by attracting attention over a significant period. Infrequent news stories or bursts of popularity typically are not enough unless they are sensational.
Sensationalism has its place too. For example, designing and developing a building won't get you a Wikipedia page nearly as fast as blowing one up.
Generally, a business becomes notable enough to have a Wikipedia page for their company by:
- Making regular contributions to its industry
- Having attention-worthy corporate social responsibility (whether good or bad)
- Having an impactful or lasting scandal
- Having sustained and attention-worthy market performance
- Standing out in some other fashion for an extended time
Notability is not temporary, but a long-standing ability of the subject to attract attention based on its own merit. Often businesses and people will inadvertently earn a Wikipedia article for a reason they don't want - such as a scandal.
How much notability do you need?
A mention in a Forbes article is not nearly enough. But an entire article specifically about a business or person in a well known publication like Forbes or the New York Times is a good start. But even that isn't enough. More on that later.
How do you qualify for a Wikipedia page?
If you are notable, how do you prove it?
First of all, a lot of people and company leaders think they’re notable when they are not.
You might be popular or gaining notability, but if you can’t provide sources that meet the following criteria, you are going to have a pretty difficult time convincing Wikipedia editors you deserve to be there.
The fact is, most truly notable companies do not have to write their own articles or pay someone to write them because editors have already done it. It is often said that if you do not already have a Wikipedia page, you are not notable enough to have one. While that's not true of every person or company that wants a page, it's true of most.
Making an effort to get a Wikipedia page when you don’t need one can open you up to negative attention and possible reputation damage which can reduce the chances of you getting a page in the future.
The case of the model who paid to have a Wikipedia page
Reputation X once had a client who is a well known model. The client had paid someone claiming to be a Wikipedia editor on UpWork $1000 to build them a Wikipedia page. Once his page was up it was quickly taken down. Months had passed but it was not possible to put another page up because Wikipedia editors were onto this person as someone paying to have a page put up. No matter how much notability had been gained in the intervening months the editors would not allow him to have another page. His mistake was to pay some random person online to build it for him without taking the months required in advance to build up notability.
So if you are determined to create one, consider strengthening your brand first to protect against the potential backlash.
What is Wikipedia notability?
Notability is the quality of being worthy of attention or notice. Notability is not the same as popularity. You could say that water is notable because it’s worthy of attention, but you would not call water “popular” or “famous.”
Many obscure topics are considered notable, as long as they meet the notability guidelines and are not excluded by What Wikipedia is not.
- Wikipedia bases notability on the sources available on the subject.
- There needs to be significant coverage of the topic.
- The sources should be reliable.
- The sources should be completely independent of the subject.
If a subject has verifiable facts but does not meet these criteria, Wikipedia suggests including the subject as part of another article.
How many references should an article have?
There is no hard and fast rule for how many references your article must have to be considered notable. What is required is that no original research is needed to provide the content for the article because it’s already covered extensively.
A mention of your name in an article is not sufficient. A subject should be the primary topic of several reliable information sources to be considered notable enough to have a Wikipedia page. This is essentially the definition of notability, as any person or company that is the sole subject of multiple articles is, consequently, notable.
We recommend having at least ten solid references available before attempting to create a page. Multiple publications from the same source are considered one source.
What are examples of reliable sources?
Sources can be published works of any form but must be verifiable and have editorial integrity, meaning they were written honestly and ethically and that their sources in turn are honest and ethical.
Wikipedia recommends using secondary sources like newspapers, books, magazines, TV, documentaries, reports, academic journals, etc. because they “provide the most objective evidence of notability.”
Reputation X suggests that reliable sources not only be "about" the subject, but that the publication on which the source material has been published already has its own Wikipedia page. This quick test can save you a lot of headaches arguing with Wikipedia editors.
What are third-party data sources?
Wikipedia requires that sources be “independent of the subject,” meaning they are third-party. Something is considered “third-party” when it’s not affiliated with either of the primary parties in a given situation but contributes its own knowledge or service to the situation.
Your website is not a reliable third-party source for Wikipedia. Neither is a press release, blog post, or little known online publication.
Ideally, sources should not be affiliated in any way with the subject of the article. This requirement excludes advertisements, press releases, autobiographies, and the subject’s website from being sources.
Subject-specific notability guidelines
For some topics, SNGs (subject-specific notability guidelines) can be used in place of the general guidelines. These alternative criteria are based on consensus to allow for standalone articles that otherwise might not qualify.
For example, academics can often qualify for a standalone article if they received a prestigious academic award or honor at a national or international level. Other examples of categories that have SNGs include:
- Astronomical objects
- Geographic features
How notability is applied to a new article
In determining notability, the status of citation in the article is irrelevant as long as sources are known and available. Notability guidelines do not apply to the content of an article, only to the subject itself. The content of the article has no bearing on notability.
Wikipedia notability FAQs
Do you have to be famous to have a Wikipedia page?
Wikipedia bases the need for a standalone article on notability. Notability is different than fame. Notability means that a subject is significant and capable of attracting notice on its own. While most famous subjects would fall into that category, a subject can be notable without being famous.
Can I create a Wikipedia page for my business?
Technically, yes. You can create a Wikipedia page for your company – but that doesn’t mean you should. Wikipedia has guidelines that discourage authors and editors from writing about their own businesses, and any articles or edits that seem to involve a conflict of interest will be swiftly deleted and the account potentially banned.
Can I create a Wikipedia page for myself?
As with businesses, Wikipedia prefers that authors and editors not write or make edits to their own articles. When other editors discover that you’ve created or edited your article – which they can and will do by tracking your recorded IP address and using other investigative techniques at which they are extremely proficient – your account could be banned and your content will most likely be deleted. Posting about yourself or your business could also attract editors who will alter the content in a way that damages your reputation.