What Is Wikipedia’s Notability Policy for Companies and Organizations?
The Wikipedia Notability policy for Organizations and Companies is a set of criteria that helps determine if an organization, commercial or non-commercial, or any of its products and services, is eligible for a Wikipedia page. This policy covers all types of organizations, such as companies, partnerships, institutions, non-profit organizations, and more.
This policy is based almost exclusively around the amount and type of press coverage about the organization. It should not be confused with an assessment of merit. This exclusive focus on high-quality press coverage makes it one of the most difficult “notability” criteria on Wikipedia to meet.
The policy states organization or its products and services are notable if they have been the subject of “significant” coverage in multiple, reliable, and independent secondary sources. This requires the press article be focused on the organization and appear in publications with an established reputation for editorial accuracy. There’s no set number of stories that will qualify a company. Wikipedia says it prefers a better story from a less prestigious publication than vice versa. A good rule of thumb (taken with a grain of salt) is that three or more good feature stories about a company should meet the Wikipedia notability threshold.
Unfortunately, though, there are many exclusions, as to the type of press coverage that will count toward establishing eligibility, including coverage that is deemed “routine” (such as funding announcements, hiring of CEOs, acquisition of companies, planned launch of products). And, while good trade publications can usually be used to verify facts by Wikipedia, for the purpose of establishing qualification for a Wikipedia page, very few of them will count. Only a few, like Variety, are so well established as editorially reliable, that they will be helpful. This guide goes over the exclusions in detail below.
What’s more, direct publishing of pages when use has a conflict of interest is against Wikipedia policy. Instead, there is a queue for review by independent editors of draft pages created by COI editors.
Most pages submitted to this queue are declined because users either submit pages that fail notability guidelines or fall into scores of other pitfalls, such as violating the policies on neutral point of view, promotional or advertising content, excessive detail, verification, and reliable sources. Establishing notability is just the first step.
While Wikipedia editing is anonymous, Wikipedia employs a range of human and software solutions to discover pages created by editors with a conflict of interest. These pages are usually not hard for an experienced editor to spot. Even an otherwise notable page might be deleted if it is published by an undisclosed COI editor, including paid consultants, who do not disclose their Conflict of Interest in accordance with policy. Other penalties might include the page being labelled with a warning flag for undisclosed conflict of interest editing, the page being dramatically reduced in size, or the person who submitted the page being banned.
What is the general notability guideline for companies and organizations on Wikipedia?
On Wikipedia, the general notability guideline for companies and organizations requires them to have received significant coverage in multiple reliable secondary sources that are independent of the subject. The coverage should go beyond mere mentions or routine announcements. The content must be informative, neutral, and verifiable by sources Wikipedia considers “reliable.”
Some excluded types of stories are:
- news releases or paid promotions
- any Q&A or interview, whether in print, broadcast or podcast.
- news announcements, such as funding rounds or acquisitions, unless they are part of a significant feature story with original reporting
- opinion pieces of any sort.
- reviews that are part of long lists of “best product” roundups created without strong evidence the product was tested.
Some excluded publications include:
- most trade journals except if the trade publications are of such high quality it is generally recognized to be independent and editorially accurate. E.g. Variety magazine.
- hyper-local, neighborhood publications
- publications that do not have a reputation for “editorial accuracy” (this means most small internet-only publications/blogs and specialty publications focused on one industry.)
Even if an organization is eligible for a page, if the page consists largely of content that Wikipedia policy deems as advertising or promotion, the page may not qualify. That’s why notability is just one part of the equation of getting a page published on Wikipedia.
What types of sources are considered valid for establishing the eligibility for Wikipedia pages about companies and organizations?
Reliable sources must from reputable publications, major news organizations, scholarly journals, or other independent sources with a strong reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. Primary sources and self-published materials are generally not considered valid evidence for notability. Most trade publications are also not considered valid for determining notability with some exceptions where the source has a well-established reputation as a leading editorial publications in the field, known for accuracy, and independence. e.g. Variety.
Lets get specific: you won’t find this in the official policy but based on experience, Wikipedia editors tend to look for stories with two or more interviews not derived from press releases, enough length to indicate the reporting wasn’t thrown together quickly (600 or more words is an entirely unofficial guideline), and some type of analysis or color from the reporter so the feature doesn’t read like a press release. In addition, indications that the story is mostly just a rehash of a press release will lead to it being discounted as establishing notability.
Can companies and organizations that don’t meet the general notability guideline still be included in Wikipedia?
Companies and organizations that do not meet the general notability guideline may still be included in Wikipedia under certain conditions. If the company or organizations is a notable part of a larger topic or organization that meets the general notability guideline, its information can be integrated into the related article. The typical situation here is a subsidiary of a larger corporation. The content still needs to be reliably sourced, and not promotional. Inclusion in a list or a section in a larger article about a broader subject is possible if the inclusion provides valuable, verifiable information.
Are there specific notability guidelines for different categories of companies and organizations?
In general, no. In practice, non-profits are given more leeway by editors. Also, subsidiaries of companies might have plenty of press coverage – enough to establish notability – but if the parent company already has a page and the relevant content about the subsidiary can be included in the existing page without detracting from its readability, then editors might decide to “merge” the pages. Not to say there aren’t big companies with brands that also have pages. Amazon is a prime example. 🙂 This is a topic where subjective judgments of editors often comes into play because the policies are not detailed enough to cover every situation.
What are some common challenges in establishing notability for Companies and Organizations?
Establishing notability for companies and organizations can be challenging because writing an acceptable Wikipedia page is not intuitive. And it does not overlap with creating marketing or PR copy. Some common pitfalls pages run into include the use of promotional material or press releases, relying on non-independent sources such as those affiliated with the company, and focusing on trivial coverage rather than significant independent sources. Ensuring that notability is established for the organization itself, rather than its individual components such as subsidiaries or products, is also crucial as there’s a policy against “inherited notability.”
How does the notability policy for companies and organizations impact content contributions on Wikipedia?
The notability policy for companies and organizations is intended to ensure that only organizations and products with verifiable evidence of having attracted independent, reliable, and significant sources will have their own dedicated articles on Wikipedia. Of course, Wikipedia allows editors without a conflict of interest to publish without a prior review. So there are a lot of pages on Wikipedia that don’t meet this criteria. Scores of editors dedicate themselves to reviewing and deleting non-notable pages, including the “new page patrol.” It can take several months because there are so many pages on Wikipedia, but most pages are reviewed eventually. Once a page is deleted, it becomes more difficult to get it published again. The sourcing will need to be substantially better and any problems with promotional or unverified content need to be corrected. Multiple deletions of pages on the same topic will result in the page being permanently blacklisted by Wikipedia.
What steps can I take to avoid violating the notability policy for companies and organizations on Wikipedia?
To start, use significant, independent, reliable, and secondary sources to establish evidence of notability. Avoid using self-promotion, advertising, or product placement. And immerse yourself in the other core Wikipedia policies, such as verifiability, reliable sources, neutral point of view. These policies runs tens of thousands of words long and like the notability policy itself, are sometimes counterintuitive.