Wikipedia:Big events make key participants notable
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.
For more than 100 years, very large events have made the key participants, of the event, notable beyond that single event. Also, several phrases or small places have also become notable from a single event, and therefore, Wikipedia has separate articles for those topics. The general rule, in many cases, is to cover the event, not the person. However, as both the event and the individual's role grow larger, separate articles become justified.
The Wikipedia guidelines WP:Notability (people) & WP:BLP note that most small-scale events do not generate notability for the participants at those events. However, the result is different for big, highly-significant events that affect large numbers of people. The first example, given in WP:BLP (in July 2009), is for notable person John Hinckley, Jr., who had tried to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1981. As an independent article, detailed facts about Hinckley can be kept separate from articles about President Reagan or others involved, rather than being repeated within each.
The following big events have made several key people/phrases notable:
- The sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic generated several notables in 1912:
- Edward John Smith, a captain of the White Star Line, died as Titanic's captain
- Frederick Fleet, the crewman who sighted the iceberg
- Molly Brown, a passenger whose lifeboat held the only survivors pulled from the water
- Marconigrams, radio messages of wireless telegraph used onboard
- SOS, a distress signal used in Morse code, new at the time
- The U.S. September 11 attacks (in 2001) produced several one-event notables:
- American Airlines Flight 11, 1st plane, hit WTC North Tower
- United Airlines Flight 175, 2nd plane, hit WTC South Tower
- American Airlines Flight 77, 3rd plane, hit Pentagon
- Mohamed Atta, hijacker pilot of 1st flight to hit
- Marwan al-Shehhi, hijacker pilot of 2nd flight to hit
- Todd Beamer, told phone operator they would jump cockpit of Flight 93
- 9/11 – key 3 digits, were the 2002-09-11 New York Lottery result: 9–1–1.
Other big single events which have generated several notables, include:
- The assassination of JFK (U.S. President Kennedy) in 1963:
- Lee Harvey Oswald, suspected assassin found in hiding
- Jack Ruby, a nightclub owner who shot Lee Harvey Oswald days later
- Dealey Plaza, the area in Dallas where shots were fired
- Texas School Book Depository, old storage building where rifle found
- grassy knoll, a hillside near the scene of shooting
- J. D. Tippit, Dallas police officer shot to death shortly after the assassination
- The murder of actress Sharon Tate and LaBianca neighbors, in 1969:
- Charles Manson, imprisoned as the leader of the plot
- Manson family, followers of Manson (some at the scene)
- Helter Skelter, struggle Manson said would end the world.
In general, most events are not of a large enough scale to make the key participants notable. However, others generate such mainstream coverage that the key people, or companies, or products, or places, or other names become separately notable, as almost household names for the general public.
In summary, as noted in Wikipedia guideline WP:Notability (people), some highly publicized events have made the key participants instantly notable, due to having a major role or impact in the event. Hence, separate articles have become justified.