How to write about things that were once notable?

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How to write about things that were once notable?

David Gerard-2
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Citizendium#So_what_and_how_do_we_write_about_this_sort_of_thing.3F

How to write about things like [[Citizendium]], [[Conservapedia]],
[[Veropedia]] - things that were notable at the time and got lots of
press coverage and hence articles, and which readers may well want to
read about into the future - but which have fallen out of notice and
so their decline (and, in the case of Veropedia, death) got no
coverage and hence we can't answer the reader question "so, whatever
did happen to X?"

(Anyone who wants to reply saying "Citizendium is alive and well and
will rise again!" or similar needs to check the most recent
WP:RS-suitable coverage from 2011:
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/10/five-year-old-wikipedia-fork-is-dead-in-the-water/
and particularly the comments, where people have never heard of this
thing and in two weeks no-one even defends the project.)


- d.

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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Fred Bauder-2
It's a problem. Information about the current status of these projects
may have fallen off so much that little or nothing can be obtained from a
notable source. So you are left with the splash and little else. No
obituary available.

Fred

> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Citizendium#So_what_and_how_do_we_write_about_this_sort_of_thing.3F
>
> How to write about things like [[Citizendium]], [[Conservapedia]],
> [[Veropedia]] - things that were notable at the time and got lots of
> press coverage and hence articles, and which readers may well want to
> read about into the future - but which have fallen out of notice and
> so their decline (and, in the case of Veropedia, death) got no
> coverage and hence we can't answer the reader question "so, whatever
> did happen to X?"
>
> (Anyone who wants to reply saying "Citizendium is alive and well and
> will rise again!" or similar needs to check the most recent
> WP:RS-suitable coverage from 2011:
> http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/10/five-year-old-wikipedia-fork-is-dead-in-the-water/
> and particularly the comments, where people have never heard of this
> thing and in two weeks no-one even defends the project.)
>
>
> - d.
>
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>



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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Matthew Brown-5
I don't think you need a *notable* source for all information, though, just
a reliable one.  If the project officially shut down, a notice from the
project itself should suffice, right?

I suspect in most of these cases, though, the project never officially
died, just petered out.  If the project's software gives such a thing, you
can cite the information its edit history shows: "As of <date>, the last
contribution to the project was back in <long-ago date>." or "from a high
of <edit rate> in <long ago>, the rate of contributions has slowed to
<rate> as of <now>."

If the site is gone, can you cite e.g. the Internet Archive's last cached
date as an approximate for when it vanished?  Or DNS registration records,
if the name expired?

-Matt


On Tue, Feb 5, 2013 at 3:36 PM, Fred Bauder <[hidden email]> wrote:

> It's a problem. Information about the current status of these projects
> may have fallen off so much that little or nothing can be obtained from a
> notable source. So you are left with the splash and little else. No
> obituary available.
>
> Fred
>
> >
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Citizendium#So_what_and_how_do_we_write_about_this_sort_of_thing.3F
> >
> > How to write about things like [[Citizendium]], [[Conservapedia]],
> > [[Veropedia]] - things that were notable at the time and got lots of
> > press coverage and hence articles, and which readers may well want to
> > read about into the future - but which have fallen out of notice and
> > so their decline (and, in the case of Veropedia, death) got no
> > coverage and hence we can't answer the reader question "so, whatever
> > did happen to X?"
> >
> > (Anyone who wants to reply saying "Citizendium is alive and well and
> > will rise again!" or similar needs to check the most recent
> > WP:RS-suitable coverage from 2011:
> >
> http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/10/five-year-old-wikipedia-fork-is-dead-in-the-water/
> > and particularly the comments, where people have never heard of this
> > thing and in two weeks no-one even defends the project.)
> >
> >
> > - d.
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > WikiEN-l mailing list
> > [hidden email]
> > To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> > https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
> >
>
>
>
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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
On Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 6:58 AM, Matthew Brown <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I don't think you need a *notable* source for all information, though, just
> a reliable one.  If the project officially shut down, a notice from the
> project itself should suffice, right?
>
> I suspect in most of these cases, though, the project never officially
> died, just petered out.  If the project's software gives such a thing, you
> can cite the information its edit history shows: "As of <date>, the last
> contribution to the project was back in <long-ago date>." or "from a high
> of <edit rate> in <long ago>, the rate of contributions has slowed to
> <rate> as of <now>."
>
> If the site is gone, can you cite e.g. the Internet Archive's last cached
> date as an approximate for when it vanished?  Or DNS registration records,
> if the name expired?
>
> -Matt
>
>
> On Tue, Feb 5, 2013 at 3:36 PM, Fred Bauder <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> It's a problem. Information about the current status of these projects
>> may have fallen off so much that little or nothing can be obtained from a
>> notable source. So you are left with the splash and little else. No
>> obituary available.
>>
>> Fred
>>
>> >
>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Citizendium#So_what_and_how_do_we_write_about_this_sort_of_thing.3F
>> >
>> > How to write about things like [[Citizendium]], [[Conservapedia]],
>> > [[Veropedia]] - things that were notable at the time and got lots of
>> > press coverage and hence articles, and which readers may well want to
>> > read about into the future - but which have fallen out of notice and
>> > so their decline (and, in the case of Veropedia, death) got no
>> > coverage and hence we can't answer the reader question "so, whatever
>> > did happen to X?"
>> >
>> > (Anyone who wants to reply saying "Citizendium is alive and well and
>> > will rise again!" or similar needs to check the most recent
>> > WP:RS-suitable coverage from 2011:
>> >
>> http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/10/five-year-old-wikipedia-fork-is-dead-in-the-water/
>> > and particularly the comments, where people have never heard of this
>> > thing and in two weeks no-one even defends the project.)
>> >
>> >
>> > - d.
>> >
>> > _______________________________________________
>> > WikiEN-l mailing list
>> > [hidden email]
>> > To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
>> > https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>> >
>>
>>
>>
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>>
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Statistics special page on citizendium states they have 31 active editors.
(have made an edit in the last month)


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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Charles Matthews
Notability is *supposed* to be timeless, not perishable, let's recall.

DG raises an interesting writing issue, nevertheless. Remember Pownce?
This is the startup over which Andrew Lih went ballistic - with risk
of distortion in my hindsight, the point at the time was that Lih
thought a press release about a Silicon Valley startup was quite
enough for an encyclopedia article, while other disagreed. As things
now stand

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pownce

tells us it went down one of the startup routes, for a lifespan of
around 18 months.

That article seems fine, except that "The developers have also
created" should now read "The developers also created".

Pownce is clearly a footnote by now. One of WP's purposes is to host
such footnotes. So the writing issue boils down to reducing froth to
footnote coverage.

Charles

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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

David Gerard-2
On 6 February 2013 08:20, Charles Matthews
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> Pownce is clearly a footnote by now. One of WP's purposes is to host
> such footnotes. So the writing issue boils down to reducing froth to
> footnote coverage.


I went on a massive cleanup of [[OpenOffice]] recently. It had a lot
of stuff that was EXCITING AND CURRENT NEWS!! ... in 2005, when it was
an exciting project. Perhaps it will become exciting again when 4.0
comes out, and the press coverage will be more than reprints of the
press release ...


- d.

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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Tom Morris-5
In reply to this post by Charles Matthews

On Wednesday, 6 February 2013 at 08:20, Charles Matthews wrote:

> Notability is *supposed* to be timeless, not perishable, let's recall.
>
> DG raises an interesting writing issue, nevertheless. Remember Pownce?
> This is the startup over which Andrew Lih went ballistic - with risk
> of distortion in my hindsight, the point at the time was that Lih
> thought a press release about a Silicon Valley startup was quite
> enough for an encyclopedia article, while other disagreed. As things
> now stand
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pownce
>
> tells us it went down one of the startup routes, for a lifespan of
> around 18 months.
>
> That article seems fine, except that "The developers have also
> created" should now read "The developers also created".
>
> Pownce is clearly a footnote by now. One of WP's purposes is to host
> such footnotes. So the writing issue boils down to reducing froth to
> footnote coverage.


Pownce is an interesting example of why we need to keep these kinds of
articles around: every time a new social network comes along, people
jump on to it like it's the best thing since sliced bread. Showing them the
many failures and closed services may prompt them into reconsidering
their actions.

Not that Wikipedia ought to moralise or preach, but the lesson of reading
articles like Pownce is that Silicon Valley venture capitalists don't value
things for longevity. And a lot of people seem to forget that.

"Those who don't learn from history are bound to repeat it" applies to
technology and business too.



--
Tom Morris
<http://tommorris.org/>



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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Charles Matthews
On 6 February 2013 09:07, Tom Morris <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Pownce is an interesting example of why we need to keep these kinds of
> articles around: every time a new social network comes along, people
> jump on to it like it's the best thing since sliced bread. Showing them the
> many failures and closed services may prompt them into reconsidering
> their actions.

Not only an interesting case study for technology, but also a case
study for Wikipedia, especially as we now know that mid-2007 was
mid-mayhem as far as our editor numbers were concerned. I want to get
some decent case studies written as material for the Wikimedia UK VLE,
by hook or by crook.

Charles

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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Carcharoth
In reply to this post by Charles Matthews
On 2/6/13, Charles Matthews <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Notability is *supposed* to be timeless, not perishable, let's recall.

Yeah. But that is a bit of a canard in some cases. It is a question of
whether coverage endures and continues or peters out. i.e. Whether
people/sources (the right sort) write about something over time, and
in what manner. Coverage of something when it starts is very different
to coverage after it is gone. The former is news, the latter starts to
become history (whether a footnote or not).

> Pownce is clearly a footnote by now. One of WP's purposes is to host
> such footnotes. So the writing issue boils down to reducing froth to
> footnote coverage.

Ultimately everything becomes a footnote if you take the long view.
With some things being more a footnote than others. Getting the
balance right as something goes from having lots of coverage at
inception, to either increasing or decreasing coverage thereafter is
tricky, but an important consideration.

It is something that I don't think those engaged in debates about
notability consider enough, especially when considering that living
people get coverage because they are living. Whether they get coverage
when or after they are dead (which we won't know until that happens)
*should* be a consideration, but often isn't.

Sometimes when something comes to en end, new coverage will prompt
updates here, but sometimes even that doesn't happen. It all results
in a large mass of articles that are poorly maintained and look
increasingly out of date as time goes by.

Carcharoth

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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Anthony-73
In reply to this post by David Gerard-2
On Tue, Feb 5, 2013 at 5:57 PM, David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Citizendium#So_what_and_how_do_we_write_about_this_sort_of_thing.3F
>
> How to write about things like [[Citizendium]], [[Conservapedia]],
> [[Veropedia]] - things that were notable at the time and got lots of
> press coverage and hence articles, and which readers may well want to
> read about into the future - but which have fallen out of notice and
> so their decline (and, in the case of Veropedia, death) got no
> coverage and hence we can't answer the reader question "so, whatever
> did happen to X?"

If readers continue to want to read about it, then it continues to be
notable, no?

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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Charles Matthews
In reply to this post by Carcharoth
On 6 February 2013 13:06, Carcharoth <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On 2/6/13, Charles Matthews <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> Notability is *supposed* to be timeless, not perishable, let's recall.
>
> Yeah. But that is a bit of a canard in some cases. It is a question of
> whether coverage endures and continues or peters out. i.e. Whether
> people/sources (the right sort) write about something over time, and
> in what manner. Coverage of something when it starts is very different
> to coverage after it is gone. The former is news, the latter starts to
> become history (whether a footnote or not).

Yes, the point about reducing notability to "reliable sources" is that
making GNG depend on RS assumes we know what we are talking about in
RS. Which is questionable. So I cordially hate GNG. Precisely because
it takes more to write history of lasting value,, than journalism that
informs and sells, reducing things to RS is basically a bust. But,
absent a catchy replacement, it is what we are stuck with. Which is
exactly the status of notability, anyway.

>
>> Pownce is clearly a footnote by now. One of WP's purposes is to host
>> such footnotes. So the writing issue boils down to reducing froth to
>> footnote coverage.
>
> Ultimately everything becomes a footnote if you take the long view.
> With some things being more a footnote than others. Getting the
> balance right as something goes from having lots of coverage at
> inception, to either increasing or decreasing coverage thereafter is
> tricky, but an important consideration.
>
> It is something that I don't think those engaged in debates about
> notability consider enough, especially when considering that living
> people get coverage because they are living. Whether they get coverage
> when or after they are dead (which we won't know until that happens)
> *should* be a consideration, but often isn't.
>
> Sometimes when something comes to en end, new coverage will prompt
> updates here, but sometimes even that doesn't happen. It all results
> in a large mass of articles that are poorly maintained and look
> increasingly out of date as time goes by.

Nothing at all wrong with footnotes, though. I once had a project to
go through the footnotes of Gibbon's "Decline and Fall". I had an
interesting hour with the first, on Jordanes, but got no further,
though it produced an article.

Articles from 6 or 7 years ago are often essentially unimproved from
their early days. Now with much better online resources I often find
I'm improving a very stubby one from 2007. There isn't an actual
problem, though. in that I feel motivated now to do that improvement.
I think the right attitude is that it has taken longer than we thought
to start "eating our tail" and upgrade old stubs. To get back on
topic, if a stub really is on a notable topic, then there isn't much
of a problem. I'll agree that a certain kind of "transience" isn't
well expressed in basic policy.

Charles

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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
I think you are all dancing around the real subject.
Is wikipedia meant to help people have access to
knowledge, to apportion access to knowledge, or
to be a gate-keeper on which knowledge and at
which rates do people have access to it?

On Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 3:46 PM, Charles Matthews
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 6 February 2013 13:06, Carcharoth <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> On 2/6/13, Charles Matthews <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>> Notability is *supposed* to be timeless, not perishable, let's recall.
>>
>> Yeah. But that is a bit of a canard in some cases. It is a question of
>> whether coverage endures and continues or peters out. i.e. Whether
>> people/sources (the right sort) write about something over time, and
>> in what manner. Coverage of something when it starts is very different
>> to coverage after it is gone. The former is news, the latter starts to
>> become history (whether a footnote or not).
>
> Yes, the point about reducing notability to "reliable sources" is that
> making GNG depend on RS assumes we know what we are talking about in
> RS. Which is questionable. So I cordially hate GNG. Precisely because
> it takes more to write history of lasting value,, than journalism that
> informs and sells, reducing things to RS is basically a bust. But,
> absent a catchy replacement, it is what we are stuck with. Which is
> exactly the status of notability, anyway.
>
>>
>>> Pownce is clearly a footnote by now. One of WP's purposes is to host
>>> such footnotes. So the writing issue boils down to reducing froth to
>>> footnote coverage.
>>
>> Ultimately everything becomes a footnote if you take the long view.
>> With some things being more a footnote than others. Getting the
>> balance right as something goes from having lots of coverage at
>> inception, to either increasing or decreasing coverage thereafter is
>> tricky, but an important consideration.
>>
>> It is something that I don't think those engaged in debates about
>> notability consider enough, especially when considering that living
>> people get coverage because they are living. Whether they get coverage
>> when or after they are dead (which we won't know until that happens)
>> *should* be a consideration, but often isn't.
>>
>> Sometimes when something comes to en end, new coverage will prompt
>> updates here, but sometimes even that doesn't happen. It all results
>> in a large mass of articles that are poorly maintained and look
>> increasingly out of date as time goes by.
>
> Nothing at all wrong with footnotes, though. I once had a project to
> go through the footnotes of Gibbon's "Decline and Fall". I had an
> interesting hour with the first, on Jordanes, but got no further,
> though it produced an article.
>
> Articles from 6 or 7 years ago are often essentially unimproved from
> their early days. Now with much better online resources I often find
> I'm improving a very stubby one from 2007. There isn't an actual
> problem, though. in that I feel motivated now to do that improvement.
> I think the right attitude is that it has taken longer than we thought
> to start "eating our tail" and upgrade old stubs. To get back on
> topic, if a stub really is on a notable topic, then there isn't much
> of a problem. I'll agree that a certain kind of "transience" isn't
> well expressed in basic policy.
>
> Charles
>
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l



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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Charles Matthews
On 6 February 2013 14:04, Jussi-Ville Heiskanen <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I think you are all dancing around the real subject.
> Is wikipedia meant to help people have access to
> knowledge, to apportion access to knowledge, or
> to be a gate-keeper on which knowledge and at
> which rates do people have access to it?

Gate-keeping is one of a trio of concepts that are still interesting
to discuss, along with conflict of interest, and bias (as in systemic
bias). "Still interesting" as neither purely involving content policy,
nor purely about community interactions, but having both snarled up
together.

Anyway Wikipedia is meant to help people have access to knowledge, per
the mission, and to do gatekeeping per WP:NOT.

Charles

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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Fred Bauder-2
In reply to this post by Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
> I think you are all dancing around the real subject.
> Is wikipedia meant to help people have access to
> knowledge, to apportion access to knowledge, or
> to be a gate-keeper on which knowledge and at
> which rates do people have access to it?

Wikipedia is a summary of generally accepted knowledge. We aspire to make
that summary conveniently available on a global basis. The gatekeepers
are those who edit media considered reliable. In these cases, at one
time, information was published but is no longer considered of interest,
although books may yet be written which explore issues such as Wikipedia
forks.

Access to knowledge, in itself, is not something within our mission. Not
that a project well founded on appropriate philosophical and scientific
principles would not be worthwhile.

Fred


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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Fred Bauder-2
In reply to this post by Anthony-73
> On Tue, Feb 5, 2013 at 5:57 PM, David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Citizendium#So_what_and_how_do_we_write_about_this_sort_of_thing.3F
>>
>> How to write about things like [[Citizendium]], [[Conservapedia]],
>> [[Veropedia]] - things that were notable at the time and got lots of
>> press coverage and hence articles, and which readers may well want to
>> read about into the future - but which have fallen out of notice and
>> so their decline (and, in the case of Veropedia, death) got no
>> coverage and hence we can't answer the reader question "so, whatever
>> did happen to X?"
>
> If readers continue to want to read about it, then it continues to be
> notable, no?

No, notablity was established by the amount of information published in
significant reliable sources. Reader, and editor, interest is irrelevant.
However, we do need a mechanism for weeding out information which is no
longer of interest to readers or editors. Perhaps this could be one
criteria justifying deletion, or perhaps some other form of archiving. We
could maintain an archive of deprecated subjects separate from the main
body of articles. Libraries do this, and call it weeding.

Fred



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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Anthony-73
>> If readers continue to want to read about it, then it continues to be
>> notable, no?
>
> No, notablity was established by the amount of information published in
> significant reliable sources. Reader, and editor, interest is irrelevant.

My bad.  My comment was based on the apparently mistaken premise that
we were speaking English when using words such as "notable".

> However, we do need a mechanism for weeding out information which is no
> longer of interest to readers or editors.

Why?  Is it irrelevant, or is it relevant?

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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Charles Matthews
In reply to this post by Fred Bauder-2
On 6 February 2013 15:14, Fred Bauder <[hidden email]> wrote:

> However, we do need a mechanism for weeding out information which is no
> longer of interest to readers or editors. Perhaps this could be one
> criteria justifying deletion, or perhaps some other form of archiving. We
> could maintain an archive of deprecated subjects separate from the main
> body of articles. Libraries do this, and call it weeding.

There's a reasonable point in here. We have a quite weak grasp of the
(absolute) concept of "salience" of information relative to a topic,
probably because a relative form - disproportionate coverage of an
aspect - is more eye-catching. We only really want salient information
in an article. and the thesis that salience or its perception begins
to look tenable. At the gossip-column extreme the salience of
information can look very perishable (cf. Pippa Middleton). We don't
really have a concept of salience to match the historians, not that (I
imagine) they have a consensus view, thus making history more
interesting than reference material.

Charles

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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Charles Matthews
Oops -

"the thesis that salience or its perception changes over time begins
to look tenable"

is the point I was hoping to make.

Charles

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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Fred Bauder-2
In reply to this post by Anthony-73
>>> If readers continue to want to read about it, then it continues to be
>>> notable, no?
>>
>> No, notablity was established by the amount of information published in
>> significant reliable sources. Reader, and editor, interest is
>> irrelevant.
>
> My bad.  My comment was based on the apparently mistaken premise that
> we were speaking English when using words such as "notable".

"Notable" is a term of art on Wikipedia defined by policy. As an English
word it has a broader meaning.
>
>> However, we do need a mechanism for weeding out information which is no
>> longer of interest to readers or editors.
>
> Why?  Is it irrelevant, or is it relevant?

It was relevant, or seemed to be, when published. It's kind of like the
best selling fiction of 1924, of note, but probably not suitable for
bedside reading in 2013. Time passes, priorities change; we could take
the view that the article namespace should contain only material
regarding which there is some minimum contemporary interest, as evidenced
by at least occasional publishing of information about in in contemporary
reliable sources.

Fred



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Re: How to write about things that were once notable?

Anthony-73
On Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 10:39 AM, Fred Bauder <[hidden email]> wrote:

>>>> If readers continue to want to read about it, then it continues to be
>>>> notable, no?
>>>
>>> No, notablity was established by the amount of information published in
>>> significant reliable sources. Reader, and editor, interest is
>>> irrelevant.
>>
>> My bad.  My comment was based on the apparently mistaken premise that
>> we were speaking English when using words such as "notable".
>
> "Notable" is a term of art on Wikipedia defined by policy. As an English
> word it has a broader meaning.

Call me the Clarence Thomas of Wikipedia jurisprudence, I guess.

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