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Wikipedia:Notability (people)

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On Wikipedia, notability is a test used by editors to decide whether a given topic warrants its own article. For people, the person who is the topic of a biographical article should be "worthy of notice"[1] or "note"[2]—that is, "remarkable"[2] or "significant, interesting, or unusual enough to deserve attention or to be recorded"[1] within Wikipedia as a written account of that person's life. "Notable" in the sense of being famous or popular—although not irrelevant—is secondary.

This notability guideline for biographies[3] reflects consensus reached through discussions and reinforced by established practice, and informs decisions on whether an article about a person should be written, merged, deleted, or further developed. For advice about how to write biographical articles, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biography and Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons.

The article title should define what the article is about. If there is enough valid content to fill an article about a person, then that person's name (such as Abraham Lincoln or Marie Antoinette) would be an appropriate title. If, however, there is only enough information about one notable event related to the person, then the article should be titled specifically about that event, such as Travis Walton incident. Sometimes when a famous person dies, there is enough information for an article about their death, such as Death of Michael Jackson or Death of Diana, Princess of Wales. If a notable person's main article is too long to contain all of their works, then a separate page can be created for that information, such as George Orwell bibliography. If the person was the victim of a notable murder, then a title such as Murder of Kitty Genovese is appropriate.

Basic criteria

People are presumed notable if they have received significant coverage in multiple published[4] secondary sources that are reliable, intellectually independent of each other,[5] and independent of the subject.[6]

  • If the depth of coverage in any given source is not substantial, then multiple independent sources may be combined to demonstrate notability; trivial coverage of a subject by secondary sources is not usually sufficient to establish notability.[7]
  • Primary sources may be used to support content in an article, but they do not contribute toward proving the notability of a subject.

People who meet the basic criteria may be considered notable without meeting the additional criteria below. Articles may still not be created for such people if they fall under exclusionary criteria, such as being notable only for a single event, or such as those listed in Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not.

Additional criteria

People are likely to be notable if they meet any of the following standards. Failure to meet these criteria is not conclusive proof that a subject should not be included; conversely, meeting one or more does not guarantee that a subject should be included.

A person who does not meet these additional criteria may still be notable under Wikipedia:Notability. Editors may find these criteria helpful when deciding whether to tag an article as requiring additional citations (using {{BLP sources}} for example), or to instead initiate a deletion discussion.

Any biography

  1. The person has received a well-known and significant award or honor, or has been nominated for such an award several times; or
  2. The person has made a widely recognized contribution that is part of the enduring historical record in a specific field;[8] or
  3. The person has an entry in a country's standard national biographical dictionary (e.g. the Dictionary of National Biography).


Many scientists, researchers, philosophers and other scholars (collectively referred to as "academics" for convenience) are notably influential in the world of ideas without their biographies being the subject of secondary sources.

Creative professionals

This guideline applies to authors, editors, journalists, filmmakers, photographers, artists, architects, and other creative professionals. Such a person is notable if:

  1. The person is regarded as an important figure or is widely cited by peers or successors; or
  2. The person is known for originating a significant new concept, theory, or technique; or
  3. The person has created or played a major role in co-creating a significant or well-known work or collective body of work. In addition, such work must have been the primary subject of multiple independent periodical articles or reviews, or of an independent and notable work (for example, a book, film, or television series, but usually not a single episode of a television series); or
  4. The person's work (or works) has: (a) become a significant monument, (b) been a substantial part of a significant exhibition, (c) won significant critical attention, or (d) been represented within the permanent collections of several notable galleries or museums.

Crime victims and perpetrators

A person who is known only in connection with a criminal event or trial should not normally be the subject of a separate Wikipedia article if there is an existing article that could incorporate the available encyclopedic material relating to that person.

Where there is such an existing article, it may be appropriate to create a sub-article, but only if this is necessitated by considerations of article size.

Where there are no appropriate existing articles, the criminal or victim in question should be the subject of a Wikipedia article only if one of the following applies:

For victims, and those wrongly accused or wrongly convicted of a crime (or crimes),

  1. The victim or person wrongly convicted, consistent with Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons#Subjects notable only for one event, had a large role within a well-documented historic event. The historic significance is indicated by persistent coverage of the event in reliable secondary sources that devote significant attention to the individual's role.[9]

For perpetrators,

  1. The victim of the crime is a renowned national or international figure, including, but not limited to, politicians or celebrities;[10] or
  2. The motivation for the crime or the execution of the crime is unusual—or has otherwise been considered noteworthy—such that it is a well-documented historic event. Generally, historic significance is indicated by sustained coverage of the event in reliable secondary sources which persists beyond contemporaneous news coverage and devotes significant attention to the individual's role.[11]
    • Note: A living person accused of a crime is presumed not guilty unless and until the contrary is decided by a court of law. Editors must give serious consideration to not creating an article on an alleged perpetrator when no conviction is yet secured.


This guideline applies to actors, voice actors, comedians, opinion makers, pornographic actors,[12] models, and celebrities. Such a person may be considered notable if:

  1. The person has had significant roles in multiple notable films, television shows, stage performances, or other productions; or
  2. The person has made unique, prolific or innovative contributions to a field of entertainment.

Politicians and judges

The following are presumed to be notable:

  • Politicians and judges who have held international, national, or (for countries with federal or similar systems of government) state/province–wide office, or have been members of legislative bodies at those levels.[13] This also applies to people who have been elected to such offices but have not yet assumed them.
  • Major local political figures who have received significant press coverage.[8]

Just being an elected local official, or an unelected candidate for political office, does not guarantee notability, although such people can still be notable if they meet the general notability guideline.

Sports personalities

A sportsperson is presumed to be notable if the person has won a significant honor and so is likely to have received significant coverage in reliable secondary sources that are independent of the subject. Sports biographies must include at least one reference to a source providing significant coverage of the subject. Meeting this requirement alone does not indicate notability, but it does indicate that there are likely sufficient sources to meet the GNG (general notability guideline).

Invalid criteria

  • That person A has a relationship with well-known person B, such as being a spouse or child, is not a reason for a standalone article on A (unless significant coverage can be found on A); relationships do not confer notability. However, person A may be included in the related article on B. For example, Jason Allen Alexander is included in the article on Britney Spears and the page Jason Allen Alexander merely redirects to that article.
  • Avoid criteria based on search engine statistics (for example, Google hits or Alexa ranking), or measuring the number of photos published online. The adult film industry, for example, uses Googlebombing to influence rankings.[14] For most topics, search engines cannot easily differentiate between useful references and mere text matches. For example, while the Alexa Toolbar is useful, its utility is limited by its userbase (numbers and willingness) and by data scarcity (less data tends to raise error margins). When using a search engine to help establish the notability of a topic, evaluate the quality, not the quantity, of the search results and linked webpages.

Failing all criteria

If no criterion can be met for either a standalone article or inclusion in a more general article, and improvements have not worked or cannot be reasonably tried, then three deletion procedures can be considered:[15]

Special cases

Failing basic criteria but meeting additional criteria

If neither a satisfying explanation nor appropriate sources can be found for a standalone article, but the person meets one or more of the additional criteria:

  • Merge the article into a broader article providing context.
  • Place a {{Mergeto}} tag on the page, indicating the page where the article may be merged.
  • If no article currently exists into which the person can be merged, consider writing the article yourself or request the article be written.

Failure to explain the subject's notability

If an article does not explain the notability of its subject,[16] try to improve it by:

Insufficient sources

If an article fails to cite sufficient sources:

  • Look for sources yourself
  • Ask the article's editor(s) for advice on where to look for sources.
  • Put the {{notability|biographies}} tag on the article to notify other editors.
  • If the article is about a specialized field, use the {{expert needed}} tag with a specific WikiProject to attract editors knowledgeable about that field, who may have access to reliable sources not available online.

People notable for only one event

When an individual is significant for their role in a single event, it may be unclear whether an article should be written about the individual, the event or both. In considering whether to create separate articles, the degree of significance of the event itself and of the individual's role within it should both be considered. The general rule is to cover the event, not the person. However, if media coverage of both the event and the individual's role grow larger, separate articles may become justified.[17]

If the event is highly significant, and the individual's role within it is a large one, a separate article is generally appropriate. The assassins of major political leaders, such as Gavrilo Princip, fit into this category, as indicated by the large coverage of the event in reliable sources that devotes significant attention to the individual's role.

When the role played by an individual in the event is less significant, and little or no other information is available to use in the writing of a balanced biography, an independent article may not be needed. That person should be covered in an article regarding the event, and the person's name should be redirected to it. For example, George Holliday, who videotaped the Rodney King beating, redirects to Rodney King. On the other hand, if a significant event is of rare importance, even relatively minor participants may warrant their own articles. An example of this is Howard Brennan, a witness to the JFK assassination.

Another issue arises when an individual plays a major role in a minor event. In this case, it is not generally appropriate to have separate articles on the person and the event. Generally in this case, the name of the person should redirect to the article on the incident, especially if the individual is only notable for that incident and it is all that the person is associated with in the source coverage. For example, the disambiguation page Travis Walton redirects those looking for Travis Walton UFO incident. In some cases, however, a person famous for only one event may be more widely known than the event itself, for example, the Tank Man. In such cases, the article about the event may be most appropriately named for the person involved.

Editors are advised to be aware of issues of weight and to avoid the creation of unnecessary pseudo-biographies, especially of living people.

It is important to remember that "notable" is not a synonym for "famous". Someone may have become famous due to one event, but may nevertheless be notable for more than one event. Conversely, a person may be generally famous, but significant coverage may focus on a single event involving that person.

Lists of people

Many articles contain (or stand alone as) lists of people. Inclusion within stand-alone lists should be determined by the normal criteria established for that page. Inclusion in lists contained within articles should be determined by WP:SOURCELIST, in that the entries must have the same importance to the subject as would be required for the entry to be included in the text of the article according to Wikipedia policies and guidelines (including Wikipedia:Trivia sections).


Being related to a notable person in itself confers no degree of notability upon that person. Articles about notable people that mention their family members in passing do not, in themselves, show that a family member is notable.

Articles on Wikipedians

Some Wikipedia editors are the subject of an article (see Wikipedia:Wikipedians with articles); however, their status as Wikipedia editors by itself has no effect on their notability, regardless of whether they edited Wikipedia before or after their articles were created.[18] (The conflict of interest guideline still has bearing on their editing of articles about themselves.) All articles should be judged solely by applicable content and inclusion guidelines and policies, such as this guideline, Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons, Wikipedia:No original research, and Wikipedia:Verifiability.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Notable". Encarta. Archived from the original on May 28, 2011. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Notable". American Heritage Dictionary. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  3. ^ While this guideline also pertains to small groups of closely related people such as families, co-authors, and co-inventors, it does not cover groups of unrelated people, which are covered by the notability guideline for organizations and companies.
  4. ^ What constitutes a "published work" is deliberately broad.
  5. ^ Sources that are pure derivatives of an original source can be used as references, but do not contribute toward establishing the notability of a subject. "Intellectual independence" requires not only that the content of sources be non-identical, but also that the entirety of content in a published work not be derived from (or based in) another work (partial derivations are acceptable). For example, a speech by a politician about a particular person contributes toward establishing the notability of that person, but multiple reproductions of the transcript of that speech by different news outlets do not. A biography written about a person contributes toward establishing their notability, but a summary of that biography lacking an original intellectual contribution does not.
  6. ^ Autobiography and self-promotion are not the routes to having an encyclopedia article. The barometer of notability is whether people independent of the subject itself have actually considered the subject notable enough that they have written and published non-trivial works that focus upon it. Thus, entries in biographical dictionaries that accept self-nominations (such as the Marquis Who's Who) do not contribute toward notability, nor do web pages about an organization's own staff or members.
  7. ^ Non-triviality is a measure of the depth of content of a published work, and how far removed that content is from a simple directory entry or a mention in passing ("John Smith at Big Company said..." or "Mary Jones was hired by My University") that does not discuss the subject in detail. A credible 200-page independent biography of a person that covers that person's life in detail is non-trivial, whereas a birth certificate or a 1-line listing on an election ballot form is not. Database sources such as Notable Names Database, Internet Movie Database and Internet Adult Film Database are not considered credible since they are, like many wikis, mass-edited with little oversight. Additionally, these databases have low, wide-sweeping generic standards of inclusion. In addition, in cases like the Internet Movie Database, inclusion is routine for people in the associated domain and can therefore especially not be taken as evidence of notability.
  8. ^ a b Generally, a person who is "part of the enduring historical record" will have been written about, in depth, independently in multiple history books in that field, by historians. A politician who has received "significant press coverage" has been written about, in depth, independently in multiple news feature articles, by journalists. An actor who has been featured in magazines has been written about, in depth, independently in multiple magazine feature articles, by magazine article writers. An actor or TV personality who has "an independent biography" has been written about, in depth, in a book, by an independent biographer.
  9. ^ Example: Matthew Shepard.
  10. ^ Example: John Hinckley Jr.
  11. ^ Example: Seung-Hui Cho.
  12. ^ Per Wikipedia talk:Notability (people)/Archive 2019#Request for comment regarding PORNBIO
  13. ^ This is a secondary criterion. People who satisfy this criterion will almost always satisfy the primary criterion. Biographers and historians will usually have already written about the past and present holders of major political offices. However, this criterion ensures that our coverage of major political offices, incorporating all of the present and past holders of that office, will be complete regardless.
  14. ^ Adrian Degus (2014-02-19). "SEO: Linking Up in 2014". XBIZ. Retrieved 26 February 2014. Since the early days of our industry we have relied on a standard set of methods to rank our sites for popular keywords, specifically buying and trading links. These two methods have always gone against Google's guidelines, they just didn't have a reliable way to detect it until now.
  15. ^ Wikipedia editors have been known to reject nominations for deletion that have been inadequately researched. Research should include attempts to find sources which might demonstrate notability, and/or information which would demonstrate notability in another manner.
  16. ^ The text of an article should include enough information to explain why the person is notable. External arguments via a talk page or AFD debate page are not part of the article itself, and promises on those pages to provide information are not as valid as the existence of the information on the article page itself.
  17. ^ It is important for editors to understand two clear differentiations of WP:BIO1E when compared to WP:BLP1E. Firstly, WP:BLP1E should be applied only to biographies of living people, or those who have recently died. Secondly, WP:BLP1E should be applied only to biographies of low profile individuals.
  18. ^ While actions on Wikipedia can lead to notable topics, such as the Wikipedia Seigenthaler biography incident and the Essjay controversy, the information in those articles is based on independent, third-party sources talking about Wikipedia, rather than Wikipedia itself.