Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not
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Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia. The amount of information on Wikipedia is practically unlimited, but Wikipedia does not aim to contain all knowledge. What to exclude is determined by an online community committed to building a high-quality encyclopedia. These exclusions are summarized as things that Wikipedia is not.
Style and format
Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia
Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia, but a digital encyclopedia project. Other than verifiability and the other points presented on this page, there is no practical limit to the number of topics Wikipedia can cover, or the total amount of content. However, there is an important distinction between what can be done, and what should be done, which is covered under § Encyclopedic content below. Consequently, this policy is not a free pass for inclusion: articles must abide by the appropriate content policies, particularly those covered in the five pillars.
Keeping articles to a reasonable size is important for Wikipedia's accessibility, especially for readers with low-bandwidth connections and on mobile platforms, since it directly affects page download time (see Wikipedia:Article size). Splitting long articles and leaving adequate summaries is a natural part of growth for a topic (see Wikipedia:Summary style). Some topics are covered by print encyclopedias only in short, static articles, but Wikipedia can include more information, provide more external links, and update more quickly.
Information should not be included in this encyclopedia solely because it is true or useful. A Wikipedia article should not be a complete exposition of all possible details, but a summary of accepted knowledge regarding its subject. Verifiable and sourced statements should be treated with appropriate weight. Although there are debates about the encyclopedic merits of several classes of entries, consensus is that the following are good examples of what Wikipedia is not. The examples under each section are not intended to be exhaustive.
Wikipedia is not a dictionary
Wikipedia is not a dictionary, or a usage or jargon guide. For a wiki that is a dictionary, visit our sister project Wiktionary. Missing dictionary definitions should be transwikied there. Wikipedia articles are not:
- Definitions. Articles should begin with a good definition or description, but articles that contain nothing more than a definition should be expanded with additional encyclopedic content. If they cannot be expanded beyond a definition, Wikipedia is not the place for them. In some cases, however, the definition of a word may be an encyclopedic subject, such as the definition of planet.
- Dictionary entries. Encyclopedia articles are about a person, or a group, a concept, a place, a thing, an event, etc. In some cases, a word or phrase itself may be an encyclopedic subject, such as Macedonia (terminology) or truthiness. However, articles rarely, if ever, contain more than one distinct definition or usage of the article's title. Articles about the cultural or mathematical significance of individual numbers are also acceptable.
- Usage, slang, or idiom guides. Descriptive articles about languages, dialects, or types of slang (such as Klingon language, Cockney, or Leet) are desirable. Prescriptive guides for prospective speakers of such languages are not. See § Wikipedia is not a manual, guidebook, textbook, or scientific journal below for more information. For a wiki that is a collection of textbooks, visit our sister project Wikibooks. Prescriptive guides for prospective speakers of a language should be transwikied there.
Wikipedia is not a publisher of original thought
Wikipedia is not a place to publish your own thoughts and analyses or to publish new information. Per our policy on original research, please do not use Wikipedia for any of the following:
- Primary (original) research, such as proposing theories and solutions, communicating original ideas, offering novel definitions of terms, coining new words, etc. If you have completed primary research on a topic, your results should be published in other venues, such as peer-reviewed journals, other printed forms, open research, or respected online publications. Wikipedia can report your work after it is published and becomes part of accepted knowledge; however, citations of reliable sources are needed to demonstrate that such material is verifiable, and not merely the editor's opinion.
- Personal inventions. If you or a friend invented a drinking game, a new type of dance move, or even the word frindle, it is not notable enough to be given an article until multiple, independent, and reliable secondary sources report on it. And Wikipedia is certainly not for things made up one day.
- Personal essays that state your particular feelings about a topic (rather than the opinions of experts). Although Wikipedia is supposed to compile human knowledge, it is not a vehicle to make personal opinions become part of such knowledge. In the unusual situation where the opinions of an individual are important enough to discuss, it is preferable to let other people write about them. (Personal essays on Wikipedia-related topics are welcome in your user namespace or on the Meta-wiki.)
- Discussion forums. Please try to stay on the task of creating an encyclopedia. You can chat with people about Wikipedia-related topics on their user talk pages, and should resolve problems with articles on the relevant talk pages, but please do not take discussion into articles. In addition, bear in mind that article talk pages exist solely to discuss how to improve articles; they are not for general discussion about the subject of the article, nor are they a help desk for obtaining instructions or technical assistance. Material unsuitable for talk pages may be subject to removal per the talk page guidelines. If you wish to ask a specific question on a topic, Wikipedia has a Reference desk; questions should be asked there rather than on talk pages. However, these should be used for questions of reasonable academic interest; WP does not serve as a technical help line or customer support for products or companies that have articles.
Wikipedia is not a soapbox or means of promotion
Wikipedia is not a
- Advocacy, propaganda, or recruitment of any kind: commercial, political, scientific, religious, national, sports-related, or otherwise. An article can report objectively about such things, as long as an attempt is made to describe the topic from a neutral point of view. You might wish to start a blog or visit a forum if you want to convince people of the merits of your opinions.
- Opinion pieces. Although some topics, particularly those concerning current affairs and politics, may stir passions and tempt people to "climb soapboxes", Wikipedia is not the medium for this. Articles must be balanced to put entries, especially for current events, in a reasonable perspective, and represent a neutral point of view. Furthermore, Wikipedia authors should strive to write articles that will not quickly become obsolete. Wikipedia's sister project Wikinews, however, has "opinion" pages allowing commentary on articles.
- Scandal mongering, promoting things "heard through the grapevine" or gossiping. Articles and content about living people are required to meet an especially high standard, as they may otherwise be libellous or infringe the subjects' right to privacy. Articles must not be written purely to attack the reputation of another person.
- Self-promotion. It can be tempting to write about yourself or projects in which you have a strong personal involvement. However, remember that the standards for encyclopedic articles apply to such pages just like any other. This includes the requirement to maintain a neutral point of view, which can be difficult when writing about yourself or about projects close to you. Creating overly abundant links and references to autobiographical sources, such as your résumé or curriculum vitae, is unacceptable. See Wikipedia:Autobiography, Wikipedia:Notability and Wikipedia:Conflict of interest.
- Advertising, marketing or public relations. Information about companies and products must be written in an objective and unbiased style, free of puffery. All article topics must be verifiable with independent, third-party sources, so articles about very small garage bands or local companies are typically unacceptable. Wikipedia articles about a person, company or organization are not an extension of their website, press releases, or other social media marketing efforts. External links to commercial organizations are acceptable if they identify notable organizations which are the topic of the article. Wikipedia neither endorses organizations nor runs affiliate programs. See also Wikipedia:Notability (organizations and companies) for guidelines on corporate notability. Those promoting causes or events, or issuing public service announcements, even if noncommercial, should use a forum other than Wikipedia to do so. Contributors must disclose any payments they receive for editing Wikipedia. See also Wikipedia:Conflict of interest § Paid editing.
Non-disruptive statements of opinion on internal Wikipedia policies and guidelines may be made on user pages and within the Wikipedia: namespace, as they are relevant to the current and future operation of the project. However, article talk pages should not be used by editors as platforms for their personal views on a subject (see Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines).
Wikipedia is not a mirror or a repository of links, images, or media files
Wikipedia is neither a mirror nor a repository of links, images, or media files. Wikipedia articles are not merely collections of:
- External links or Internet directories. There is nothing wrong with adding one or more useful content-relevant links to the external links section of an article; however, excessive lists can dwarf articles and detract from the purpose of Wikipedia. On articles about topics with many fansites, for example, including a link to one major fansite may be appropriate. See Wikipedia:External links for some guidelines.
- Internal links, except for disambiguation pages when an article title is ambiguous, and for lists for browsing or to assist with article organization and navigation; for these, please follow relevant guidance at Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lists, Wikipedia:Stand-alone lists.
- Public domain or other source material such as entire books or source code, original historical documents, letters, laws, proclamations, and other source material that are useful only when presented with their original, unmodified wording. Complete copies of primary sources may go into Wikisource, but not on Wikipedia. Public domain resources such as the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica may be used to add content to an article (see Plagiarism guideline: Public-domain sources for guidelines on doing so). See also Wikipedia:Do not include the full text of lengthy primary sources and Wikisource's inclusion policy.
- Photographs or media files with no accompanying text. If you are interested in presenting a picture, please provide an encyclopedic context, or consider adding it to Wikimedia Commons. If a picture comes from a public domain source on a website, then consider adding it to Wikipedia:Images with missing articles or Wikipedia:Public domain image resources.
Wikipedia is not auser space, are not: