Wikipedia:Notability (people)

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Within Wikipedia, notability is guideline to see if an article should be included. The topic of an article should be notable, or "worthy of notice"; that is, "significant, interesting, or unusual enough to deserve attention or to be recorded".[1] Notable in the sense of being "famous", or "popular"—although not irrelevant—is secondary.

This notability guideline for biographies[2] is based on consensus reached through discussions and reinforced by established practice. It helps editors decide whether an article on a person should be written, merged, deleted or further developed. For advice about how to write biographical articles, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (biographies) and Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons.

In order to meet Wikipedia's standards for verifiability and notability, the article must actually show that the guidelines have been met. Evidence with references should be included.

These guidelines are about whether a person is notable enough for an article. Other relevant policies which can affect an article include:

Basic guideline[change source]

A person can be notable if he or she has been written about in many published[3] secondary sources. These must be reliable, independent of each other,[4] and independent of the subject.[5]

  • If there is not a lot of coverage in any one source, then several independent sources may be combined to show notability. Trivial coverage of a person by secondary sources may not be enough to show notability.[6]
  • Primary sources may be used to prove content in an article. They do not prove the notability of a person.

Additional guidelines[change source]

People can be notable if they meet any of the following guidelines. Failure to meet these standards is not proof that a subject should not be included. Meeting one or more of the guideline does not guarantee that a subject should be included.

A person who fails to meet these additional standards may still be notable under Wikipedia:Notability.

Any biography[change source]

  1. The person has been given a well-known and significant award or honor, or has been nominated for one several times.
  2. The person has made a widely recognized contribution that is part of the historical record in his or her specific field.[7]

Academics[change source]

Many scientists, researchers, philosophers and other scholars, known as "academics" are notably influential in the world of ideas without their biographies being the subject of secondary sources.

If an academic meets any one of the following guideline, with reliable sources, they are notable.

  1. The person's research has made significant impact in their area of study, as shown by independent reliable sources.
  2. The person has received an important academic award or honor at a national or international level. Awards such as the Nobel Prize, MacArthur Fellowship, the Fields Medal, the Bancroft Prize, the Pulitzer Prize for History mean the person is notable.
  3. The person is or has been an elected member of an important scholarly society or association (e.g. a National Academy of Sciences or the Royal Society) or a Fellow of a major scholarly society for which that is a highly selective honor (e.g. the IEEE)
  4. The person's academic work has made a significant impact in the area of higher education, affecting a substantial number of academic institutions.
  5. The person holds or has held a named chair appointment or "Distinguished Professor" appointment at a major institution of higher education and research.
  6. The person has held a major highest-level elected or appointed academic post at a major academic institution or major academic society.
  7. The person has made substantial impact outside academia in their academic capacity.
  8. The person is or has been an editor-in-chief of a major well-established academic journal in their subject area.
  9. The person is in a field of literature (e.g. writer or poet) or the fine arts (e.g. musician, composer, artist), and meets the standards for notability in that art, such as WP:Notability (music).

Athletes[change source]

Sports people may be notable if they have:

  1. participated in a major international amateur or professional competition at the highest level such as the Olympics.
  2. won a national event of competition
  3. played for a national team
  4. played for a team in a national level competition

For guidelines on notability for particular sports see Notability in sport

Creative people[change source]

Scientists, academics, economists, professors, authors, editors, journalists, movie makers, photographers, artists, architects, engineers, and other creative professionals:

  1. The person is regarded as an important figure or is widely cited by peers or successors.
  2. The person is known for starting a significant new concept, theory or technique.
  3. The person has created, or played a major role in co-creating, a significant or well-known work, or collective body of work. This work has been the subject of an independent book or feature-length movie, or of multiple independent periodical articles or reviews.
  4. The person's work either (a) has become a significant monument, (b) has been a substantial part of a significant exhibition, (c) has won significant critical attention, or (d) is represented within the permanent collections of several notable galleries or museums.

Crime victims and perpetrators[change source]

A person who is notable only because they were the victim of, or committed a crime or crime, should not normally be the subject of a separate Wikipedia article. Their information could be added to an existing article which has encyclopaedic material about that person.

If there is not an existing articles, the criminal or victim should be the subject of a Wikipedia article only if one of the following applies:

For victims

  1. The victim, consistent with WP:BLP1E, 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 have significant attention to the individual's role.[8]

For perpetrators

  1. The victim of the crime is a renowned national or international figure, including politicians or celebrities.[9]
  2. The reason for the crime or the way the crime took place 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, not just news coverage, and includes details of the individual's role.[10]
    • Note: A living person accused of a crime is not guilty unless and until this 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.

Diplomats[change source]

Diplomats who have participated in a significant way in events of particular diplomatic importance that have been written about in reliable secondary sources. Sufficient reliable documentation of their particular role is required.

Entertainers[change source]

Actors, voice actors, comedians, opinion makers, models, and television personalities:

  1. Has had important roles in several notable movies, television shows, stage performances, or other productions.
  2. Has a large fan base or a significant "cult" following.
  3. Has made unique, prolific or innovative contributions to a field of entertainment.

Pornographic actors and models[change source]

  1. Has won a well-known award such as an AVN Award. (See Category:Pornographic movie awards or Category:movie awards for other awards which may apply.)
  2. Has received nominations for well-known awards in multiple years.[11]
  3. Has made unique contributions to a specific pornographic genre, such as beginning a trend in pornography; starred in an iconic, groundbreaking or blockbuster feature; or is a member of an industry Hall of Fame such as the AVN Hall of Fame, XRCO Hall of Fame or equivalent.
  4. Has been featured multiple times in notable mainstream media.

Politicians[change source]


  1. Politicians and judges who have held international, national or sub-national (statewide/provincewide) office.
  2. Members or former members of a national, state or provincial legislature.[12] This will also apply to those who have been elected but not yet sworn into such offices.
  3. Major local political figures who have received significant press coverage.[7] Generally speaking, mayors of cities of at least regional importance are likely to meet this criterion, as are members of the main citywide government or council of a major metropolitan city.
  4. 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 main guidelines of "significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject of the article".

In the case of candidates for political office who do not meet this guideline, the general rule is to redirect to an appropriate page covering the election or political office sought in lieu of deletion. Relevant material from the biographical article can be merged into the election or political office page if appropriate.[13]

Invalid standards[change source]

  • Just because person A has a relationship with well-known person B, a spouse or child for example, is not a reason for a separate article on A (unless significant coverage can be found on A). However, person A may be included in the related article on B. For example, Brooklyn Beckham and Jason Allen Alexander are included in the articles on David Beckham and Britney Spears, respectively. The links to Brooklyn Beckham and Jason Allen Alexander, are just redirects to those articles.
  • Standards based on search engine statistics (e.g., Google hits or Alexa ranking), or measuring the number of photos published online. The adult movie industry, for example, uses Googlebombing to influence rankings. Search engines cannot easily tell the difference between useful references and just text matches. See also limitations of Alexa. When using a search engine to help establish the notability of a topic, measure the quality, not the quantity, of the links.

Failing all guidelines[change source]

If no standard can be met for a standalone article or inclusion in another article, and improvements have not worked or cannot be reasonably tried, then the article can be deleted:[14]

  • If quick deletion rule A4 applies, use the {{QD}} tag to request quick deletion.
  • For articles that do not meet the quick deletion rules, then there needs to be a Request For Deletion (RFD). This allows the article to be deleted after a discussion.
  • For cases where you are unsure about deletion or believe others might not agree, then nominate the article for the RFD process, where it will be discussed for seven days.

Special cases[change source]

Failing basic standards but meeting additional standards[change source]

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 standards:

  • 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[change source]

If an article does not explain the notability of its subject,[15] try to improve it by:

Insufficient sources[change source]

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, ask on WP:Simple talk for help from editors knowledgeable about that field, who may have access to reliable sources not available online.

People notable for only one event[change source]

When an individual is significant for his or her 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 or not to create separate articles, the degree of significance of the event itself and the degree of significance of the individual's role within it should be considered. The general rule in many cases is to cover the event, not the person. However, as both the event and the individual's role grow larger, separate articles become justified.[16]

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, an independent article may not be needed, and a redirect is appropriate. For example, George Holliday, who videotaped the Rodney King beating, redirects to Rodney King. On the other hand, if an event is of sufficient importance, even relatively minor participants may require their own articles, for example 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 an article on both 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 is all that that person is associated with in source coverage. For example, Steve Bartman redirects to Steve Bartman 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.

Lists of people[change source]

Many articles include lists or are just lists of people. People included on lists should meet the notability standards above. Every person in any such list needs a reliable source which shows that the person is a member of the listed group.

For example, articles about schools often include (or link to) a list of notable alumni. These lists are not meant to list every graduate of the school—only those with verifiable notability. On the other hand, a list within an article of past school presidents can contain all past presidents, not just those who are independently notable.

Family[change source]

Being related to a notable person in itself does not make a person notable. See also Invalid standards.

Articles on Wikipedians[change source]

Some Wikipedia editors could have articles about themselves (see Wikipedia:Wikipedians with articles); however, their status as Wikipedian editors by itself has no effect on their notability, regardless of whether they edited Wikipedia before or after their articles were created. (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.

Related pages[change source]

Notes[change source]

  1. Encarta dictionary definition Retrieved 13 March 2008
  2. This guideline also also applies 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.
  3. The definition of what a "published work" is covers all types of publications.
  4. Sources that are just copies of an original source can be used as references, but do not prove notability. "Intellectual independence" means that the content of sources must be different. Also if all of the content in a published work comes from (or based on) another work, it is not seen as a different source. For example, a speech by a politician about a particular person helps show the notability of that person, but copies of that speech by different news outlets do not. A biography written about a person helps show his or her notability. A summary of that biography without extra contributions does not.
  5. Autobiography and self-promotion are not ways to get an encyclopaedia article. The test of notability is whether other people, not connected to the subject itself, think that the persont is notable enough, and that they have written and published major works about it. Entries in biographical dictionaries that allow people to write about themselves, (such as the Marquis Who's Who), do not prove notability.
  6. 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 person in detail. A credible 200-page independent biography of a person that covers that person's life in detail is non-trivial. A birth certificate or a one line listing on an election ballot form is trivial. Database sources such as Notable Names Database, Internet Movie Database and Internet Adult Film Database are not considered credible since they are, like wikis, mass-edited with little oversight. These databases have much lower tests of notability.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Generally, a person who is "part of the historical record" will have been written about, in depth, independently in many books on 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.
  8. Example: Matthew Shepard.
  9. Example: John Hinckley Jr..
  10. Example: Seung-Hui Cho.
  11. For awards with multiple rounds of nominations such as the Fans of Adult Media and Entertainment Award, only final round nominations are considered.
  12. This is a secondary guideline. People who meet this guideline will almost always meet the main guidelines. Biographers and historians will usually have already written about the past and present holders of major political offices. However, this guideline makes sure that our coverage of major political offices, including all of the present and past holders of that office, will be complete.
  13. Deleting a biography in these cases instead of just redirecting it makes recovering useful information from the page history difficult, and should be done only when there are relevant reasons other than lack of notability for removing the article from the mainspace.
  14. Wikipedia editors have been known to reject requests for deletion that have not been properly researched. Research should include attempts to find sources which might show notability, and/or information which would show notability in another manner.
  15. 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.
  16. 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. Secondly, WP:BLP1E should be applied only to biographies of low profile individuals.