User:John M Wolfson/My minimum standards for biographical FACs

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The featured article criteria describe the broad standards an article must meet to become one of Wikipedia's featured articles. In particular, criterion 1b demands that a candidate must be "comprehensive," and thereby neglect no major facts or details and places the subject in context. Applying this to biographical articles I have come up with the following guideline for me to support the featured article candidacy of any biographical article:

In order for me to support an FAC on it, in addition to fulfilling all of the other featured article criteria a biographical article must make non-passing mention of the subject's birth and childhood, and if the subject is deceased his or her later life and death.

What this, in turn, means is the subject of this essay below.

Birth and childhood[edit]

The following "tombstone info" should usually be in the article to the extent verifiably known. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Birth date
  • Birth place
  • Parentage
    Mother's maiden name, if applicable

In addition to these basic facts, a couple of sentences or so should describe the circumstances of the subject's upbringing (whether the subject was an orphan, class of family, etc.) and early life (how the subject started to come into his/her claim of significance).

Later life and death[edit]

Conversely, a couple of sentences or so should describe the circumstances of the subject's later life, retirement (if applicable), and death. To the extent verifiably known it should have as well the subject's:

  • Death date and age
  • Death place
  • Cause of death

Exceptions and non-exceptions[edit]

This is all subject to the core content policies of Wikipedia, in particular verifiability and the ban on original research. If (reliable) sources on the aforementioned material do not exist it's better to not say anything than to make stuff up, especially at the FA level. Also our BLP policy prohibits prying into non-public information on the person's life, so what would otherwise be mandatory here might be off-limits. Also, I am willing to consider lifting my demands in the presence of exceptional extenuating circumstances.

The following do not exempt an FAC from these standards:

  • WP:UNDUE: a biography is, by definition, a "writing about a life", and the two things present in every life are birth and (eventually) death. A paragraph or so each about a person's early life and later life does not place undue weight within the article to those two topics, and omitting them leaves the risk of leaving the reader unsatisfied.
  • The presence of sources that are inferior to those used elsewhere in the article but are still generally reliable: Say you have several high-quality book sources that don't indicate the basic biographical information but a couple of generally-reputable news sources (obituaries, etc.) that do. You should use the newspaper sources even if they're not as good as the book ones.