Wikipedia:Masking the lack of notability
This is an essay on notability.
It contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. This page is not an encyclopedia article, nor is it one of Wikipedia's policies or guidelines, as it has not been thoroughly vetted by the community. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.
|This page in a nutshell: Excellent prose and the sheer number of citations or external links has no effect on a subject's notability.|
Masking the lack of notability consists of taking steps to cover up the fact that a subject is really not notable. To do so in itself is not a violation of any policy, and no action will be taken against the creator or other editors themselves (unless a hoax is involved). But if the lack of notability is discovered, and a good cause can be given for its deletion, the article can still be deleted.
Masking is an action that is usually seen from veteran editors who know the difference between what is notable and what is not, and what other editors may look out for prior to making a deletion proposal. Naive newbies are not likely to deliberately mask an article, as they are less likely to know about notability; they are more prone to believe that an article which is well-written and has plenty of reference tags is on a notable subject simply by how it looks. However, professional writers with public relations experience often know to adopt such techniques, some of which are standard in their profession, and will do so even with their first edit. New editors submitting articles through Articles for creation often react to notability challenges during the review process with citation overkill in an attempt to make the subject appear more notable than it actually is.
Ways in which lack of notability can be masked
There are various ways in which the lack of notability in an article can be hidden:
The use of numerous, often unnecessary references, known as bombardment, can give a good impression and make an article appear notable. In many cases, these could be sources that do not reference the main point of the subject, but rather trivial details that may not even belong. But the number of references does not matter when these sources do not meet the requirements for establishing notability.
While an article may lack references, there are some pages that have one or more external links that seem to imply notability. These could be links to the subject's own site, blogs, or other unreliable sources. It may be permissible to place these types of links on a page when notability has been established. But these links are not what renders notability from the beginning.
A well-written page by one with experience in Wiki language and writing articles can give the effect that the subject appears highly notable. The page may have plenty of blue links to other articles, one or more images, an infobox, a navbox, or other templates that make it appear like a good article. The language quality may be really nice. Though these are characteristics of a well-written article, they do not automatically allow for inclusion of a subject.
It frequently happens that a badly written page on a non-notable subject is cleaned up by subsequent copyeditors, improving the language and adding wikification. Such pages can appear at first glance to be an acceptable article, but such cleanup cannot make the subject notable.
Building a biography
A living person's single event notability can be disguised by also including the subject's life history, such as graduating high school valedictorian or being interviewed by a local newspaper. The editor includes these events, usually accompanied with valid sources, attempting to establish a reputation for the person. Merging multiple unrelated non-notable accomplishments takes focus away from the true purpose of creating the coatrack article.
Numerous infoboxes and navigation templates that present the article as part of a series on the subject's family, religion, political party, field of research etc. may detract from the fact that nothing at all other than the most basic biographical data is publicly known about the subject, due to a complete lack of notability.