Megan McArdle has discovered that the Wikipedia entry about her was deleted because she’s been deemed insufficiently famous for inclusion. As the subject of my own, quite outdated Wikipedia stub (essentially a replica of a bio for an online journal I edited from 2004-2005) I find the whole thing rather amusing. I’m sure I’ll be deleted any day now.
As Megan’s commenters point out, Wikipedia includes entries for minor characters in pop culture, including detailed synopses of popular television shows and that “the strength of Wikipedia over dead trees is that memory is cheap; they should be welcoming stubs (short mentions) on topics of interest to small numbers of people and encouraging people to post on their areas of expertise.”
Further, Megan is arguably more noteworthy than many people who qualify for publication according to Wikipedia’s unofficial Notability policy, which allows “Politicians who have held international, national or statewide/provincewide office, and members and former members of a national, state or provincial legislatures” and athletes “who have played in a fully professional league, or a competition of equivalent standing in a non-league sport such as swimming or tennis.”
Is a writer for the Economist whose blog gets read by 5000 or so people a day and does occasional national television appearances more “notable” than a local politician? Someone who was once a minor league ball player? Or, indeed, a non-starter on a major league team?
It’s certainly true that neither Megan nor I would merit inclusion in Encyclopedia Britannica. Then again, neither would most of the entries in Wikipedia. Space is, for all intents and purposes, infinite yet, as another of Megan’s commenters points out, we “don’t want every bored kid writing themselves into the encyclopedia.”
So, where do we draw the line?