Notability For People

What is the notability guideline for people on Wikipedia?

In general, Wikipedia determines notability for people based on significant coverage they receive in independent secondary sources like newspapers, magazines, or books. There are exceptions (such as election to state-wide office, winning a Pulitzer Prize or writing a song that charts on Billboard) that can establish notability even without substantial in-depth press coverage of the person, but these are limited. We describe some of these later in the Guide, including criteria for politicians, academics, musicians and other types of artists.  In most cases,  notability usually requires being the subject of multiple profiles.  Although it’s counterintuitive, fame and merit are not metrics by which Wikipedia determines “notability.” Notability should be understood as the name of a group of strict Wikipedia policies that runs for tens of thousands of words. It is not synonymous with the common English language definition of the word.

Notability by itself is not sufficient to guarantee a draft page will be approved or not deleted. Notability is the threshold. From there, dozens of other policies apply, such as Verification, Reliable Sources, no advertising or promotional content, Puffery, NPOV. And users, including Wikipedia agencies, must abide by the Wikipedia Conflict of Interest policy, including public disclosure of COI and submitting draft pages for review prior to publications.

What types of sources are considered valid for establishing notability for people?

Independent secondary sources such as newspapers, magazines, books, and peer-reviewed academic publications are generally considered reliable source when establishing notability on Wikipedia.  The sources must have a reputation for editorial accuracy. The coverage also needs to be “significant” and focused on the person.  Wikipedia editors might look to see if the publication has a staff of editors and is updated frequently; they might evaluate the quality of the quotations and whether they seem original vs. press release rewrite; they will look at the length of the article to determine it is not superficial coverage.

Most people know if they have been profiled by a media company (not to be confused with a broadcast interview or podcast) or their life and career have been written about at some length in a story about another topic. Those are the stories that will meet the criteria.

Passing mentions and quotes about other topics do not help establish notability.

What types of sources or stories are excluded?

Here’s a look at some of the types of publications and stories that are not allowed either because Wikipedia considers the sources unreliable or they don’t meet the enhanced criteria for a source that establishes notability.  The list doesn’t include everything but covers most common situations. 

Some excluded types of stories are:

  • press releases or paid promotions
  • any Q&A or interview, whether in print, broadcast or podcast.
  • routine news coverage, such as hiring announcements, unless they are part of a significant feature story with original reporting 
  • opinion pieces of any sort.
  • anything authored by the subject of the article.
  • press not written by independent journalists.
  • stories published on non-media websites.
  • 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.)
  • non-media websites, such as university websites, company or organization websites.

Can people who don’t meet the “general” notability guideline still be included in Wikipedia?

Sometimes. An individual who doesn’t qualify under the general notability guideline may still qualify if they meet certain specialized criteria for different fields.

Are there specific notability guidelines for different categories of people?

Yes. Academics, creative professionals, entertainers, athletes, political figures, and victims/perpetrators of crime each have their own set of criteria to determine notability.  These are explained below. There is also a whole policy devoted just to athletes.

What are some common challenges in establishing notability for people?

Common challenges in establishing notability for people include finding reliable and independent sources, differentiating between significant coverage and trivial information, and determining whether someone meets additional criteria for specific categories, such as academics or entertainers.

What steps can I take to avoid violating the notability policy for people on Wikipedia?

To avoid violating the notability policy for people on Wikipedia, follow these steps:

1. Deeply research the subject to find  reliable, independent secondary sources that are focused on the subject of the article.

2. Don’t load up the draft.  with unreliable sources.

3. If relying on category-specific criteria, read and follow the criteria closely.

4. Provide adequate citations to support the information

What are the Wikipedia notability guidelines for CEOs, entrepreneurs or business people?

There are no special notability criteria for business people on Wikipedia with the sole exception that there is a presumption that pages about the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies should not be deleted. That exception, however, does not explicitly address qualifying the page in the first place. There is also no “inherited” notability just because a page about the CEO’s company is notable.   Indeed, unless there are multiple distinct articles about the company and their CEO or founder, it is often presumed that there should only be a page for one or the other; if two pages are published, it is very common for these pages to be merged if they do not have sufficiently distinct press coverage. When there should be two different pages, or only one page, about a CEO or company falls more into the category of unwritten Wikipedia best practices rather than firm policy.

What are the notability guidelines for academics on Wikipedia?

For academics, including scientists, researchers, philosophers, and other scholars, notability is often determined by their influence and contributions in their respective fields, even if they have not received significant press coverage. An academic’s notability is also influenced by their major accomplishments, discoveries, or publications. This is among the most complex notability policies. You can learn more in our specialized notability guide for academics.

What are the notability guidelines for creative professionals on Wikipedia?

Creative professionals, such as authors, journalists, filmmakers, artists, architects, and photographers, are considered notable if they are widely cited or regarded as important figures in their fields, have originated a significant new concept or technique, or created a major work or body of work. Proving any of these requires receiving considerable attention in independent sources such as review in mainstream publications, peer-reviewed journals, or books by experts.  Certain highly notable awards, such as as a Pulitzer or National Book Award, will also establish notability in the creative fields. Receiving these highly prestigious awards almost always receive press coverage.

What are the notability guidelines for politicians and judges on Wikipedia?

Politicians and judges are presumed to be notable if they have held international, national, or state/province-wide office, or if they have been members of legislative bodies at those levels. Major local political figures who have received significant press coverage are also considered notable, but this is essentially identical to the ordinary notability criteria for press coverage for any other person.

What are the notability guidelines for entertainers on Wikipedia?

Entertainers, including actors, comedians, models, voice actors, and celebrities, are considered notable if they have had significant roles in multiple notable productions. For movies, this usually means a starring or co-starring role. For TV and streaming, this usually means being a series regular on a notable production.  For directors, the productions must have received significant press notice. Winning major national and international awards for the field can also establish notability. Multiple nominations can be helpful.

What are the notability guidelines for athletes on Wikipedia?

There are policies that cover dozens of different professional and amateur sports, from badminton to Sumo wrestling. We will write another guide just on athletes. Being a professional athlete on the highest level (e.g. Major League Baseball rather than minor league baseball) will meet the criteria for most major sports, provided there is at least one piece of significant press coverage.  Sports personalities may also be notable if they have won a significant honor and have received significant coverage in reliable, independent secondary sources. A sports bio must include at least one reference to a source providing significant coverage of the subject, even if they meet one of the other criteria.

What are the notability guidelines for crime victims and perpetrators on Wikipedia?

Crime victims and perpetrators are generally covered within an article about the criminal event or trial, rather than having separate articles, unless their involvement in the event is significant or the event itself is historically significant. A separate article may be appropriate for notable victims with a large role in a well-documented historic event, or for perpetrators whose crime or motivation is unusual and well-documented.

What are the notability guidelines for people known only for one event on Wikipedia?

For people who have gained a degree of public exposure for their role in a single event, Wikipedia typically focuses on the event rather than the individual. However, if the event is highly significant and the individual’s role within it is substantial, a second article may be warranted. But in most cases where the individual is only known for one event, they should be covered in an article about the event. A redirect can be set up so that a search of the person’s name leads to that article.

What are the notability guidelines for family members of notable people on Wikipedia?

There is no such thing as conferred notability on Wikipedia. That means that simply being related to a notable person does not make an individual notable on their own. An page about a notable person may mention family members, but a separate article for the family member is only warranted if that individual meets notability guidelines themselves.

How can WhiteHatWiki help?

We are an agency that specializes in “white hat” consulting in “conflict of interest” (COI) situations. Proposing a new page, or updates to an existing page about you, your company, family, friends, clients, employers, your financial interests and other external relationships constitutes a COI. Public disclosure of the COI is mandatory; and direct publishing or editing of pages is not allowed. WHW can work with qualified clients to create a draft or proposal that will abide by Wikipedia’s labyrinth of policies to the satisfaction of Wikipedia’s tough, independent reviewers. Contact Us.