GLAM/Get started/GLAM notability guide

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GLAM notability guide[edit]

This page lists more detailed FAQs regarding how to apply Wikimedia's notability policy when considering specific museum objects to document within Wikipedia.

In Wikipedia usage of the word "notable" is a term of art meaning that the subject at hand warrants an article in its own right. So, if something is "non-notable" then it should not have its own article and could perhaps be included as a sub-section of a higher-order article.

What makes a museum object notable?[edit]

Objects that have been published in an exhibition catalogue, or a scholarly book, or a journal article would normally be considered appropriate subjects for articles on Wikipedia. Try to include references to more than one source; please see the general notability criteria. Even works which are not particularly "well-known" to the general public, for example all of the different ancient Roman sculptures of Livia, may well be suitable for Wikipedia, so long as they are known within their scholarly field and are sufficiently well-covered in the literature. On the other hand, if an object has no bibliography other than the standard catalogues of your institution, or say, a listing in a published record of an archaeological excavation, the object may not be sufficiently notable to warrant a separate article.

Should I create an article for every item in our catalogue?[edit]

Probably not; it is most unlikely that all are notable in Wikipedia terms. Creation of large numbers of articles should always be carefully discussed in advance, particularly if any automation is involved. Each article requires considerable "wikification": adding links, categories, and adopting the correct style and format for consistency with similar articles. It may be best to do a sample article or two and then ask for comments on the talk page here, or at the relevant Wikiproject. For a new article, asking at the article talk page is generally not productive, as few if any editors will see it. A common mistake is to create numerous short articles for individual items, especially paintings, giving little more information than the gallery label. Try to make each article at least 400 words long, and include a picture of the subject if possible. It is also possible to create an article about a class of pieces and have a separate section devoted to each work.

What about non-unique works?[edit]

Mass-manufactured objects, and those from the applied arts, especially if they are not unique (for example, pieces of European or American factory porcelain) are less likely to be individually notable than "creative" works such as paintings or drawings. The article should normally be on the object as a type rather than your own example of it, as in w:Colt Single Action Army for example. It may sometimes be appropriate to mention or illustrate non-unique items in a general article related to that type of object (for example on the porcelain factory, or porcelain style in that period, or type of gun). A potential mistake of cultural sector institutions is creating an article that is more about their collection of a work than the work itself. For an example, see an old copy of our article on the 1614 Low German Bible that was about a specific copy of the bible on display. That did not warrant an article. However, the current version is fine because it focuses on the Bible edition itself and just mentions the specific copy (one of only seven extant) under the 1614 Boerne Bible section at the end – if the edition were more common even the inclusion of this detail would be excessive. Natural history specimens will only very exceptionally be individually notable.

How we define Notability[edit]

We do not currently have specific Notability criteria for articles about museum artifacts and related objects. There are general guidelines for articles about people and creative professionals, such as artists. Our general rule states that:

"If a topic has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject, it is presumed to satisfy the inclusion criteria for a stand-alone article." [1]

Notability in Wikipedia is more akin to the term "provenance" in fine art studies. Proving provenance is ensuring that an object has a pedigree of owners that can be traced with strong source material and is an integral part of valuation. Proving notability is ensuring that a subject has independent and reliable sources and is an integral part of justifying inclusion into the encyclopedia. In a fine art auction an item without provenance may be judged to have no value, whilst in Wikipedia an article without claims to notability may possibly be speedily deleted for not indicating why its subject is important.

"Notability" should not be confused with the term "significance" as it is used in the cultural sector. The "statement of significance" of an item in a museum (etc.) expresses the inherent value of the item and is information which would be perfect to be included in an encyclopedic article. However, whilst there could be a "statement of significance" for every item in a collection this does not mean that Wikipedia should have an article about each item. For example, this segment of the original trans-atlantic submarine telegraph cable has a statement of significance written by the museum that houses it. However, because there is not significant coverage from reliable sources about this individual object it is not, in itself, notable. On the other hand, the w:Transatlantic telegraph cable is, and we have an article about it.

Differences between Wikipedias[edit]

The criteria for notability differ between language editions of Wikipedia. For example in the English edition we have a standalone article about the cartoon character Bart Simpson however in the German edition he is a sub-section of the article "Simpson Family"[2].