This is an essay.
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: Writing an encyclopedic entry about a subject will involve generalizations. Avoid the temptation to engage in original research by finding every example of a phenomenon, or every exception to a phenomenon.|
Encyclopedia articles are a summary of accepted knowledge on a given subject. Making an appropriate summary involves describing theories and observations that come from mainstream scholarship and news. Naturally, every theory can be demonstrated using examples or counter-examples. However, this tends to make articles less readable and reliable because mentioning too many examples, or exploring an individual example in an excessive level of detail, takes the article farther away from its original point.
Writing about examples of the phenomenon
Examples help readers advance their understanding of a concept by typifying it. One (or at most a few) examples about the subject matter under discussion should suffice. Before adding a further example to an article, pause to ask yourself whether doing so would help readers unravel additional facets of the article subject, or if it would only be adding details specific to that example, without advancing the readers' understanding of the central theme.
If the number of examples in an article become too many, consider pruning them, or creating a separate list at the bottom of the article. Where the list of examples as a whole has verifiable cultural significance, consider creating a separate article.
Writing about exceptions to the phenomenon
Any theory or phenomenon lacking a reliable source directly supporting it may be removed. But avoid removing theories attributed to a reliable sources without discussing it first.
A theory that appears in many reliable sources should never be removed, even if that theory is not 100% true. The standard for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. Rather than engaging in original research by trying to invalidate a theory you disagree with, look for criticism of that theory from reliable sources on the subject. It is always preferable to describe an alternative explanation from a reliable source, rather than synthesizing a thousand counter-examples.
Balancing coverage of a phenomenon with intelligent criticism is a part of creating a neutral encyclopedia. However, counter-examples and criticisms that come from sources that are unreliable or thoroughly discredited should be removed. Wikipedia is not a compilation of every fringe theory or opinion piece about a subject. Treat each perspective on a topic with proportional weight.
- Wikipedia:Systemic bias
- Wikipedia:Writing better articles
- User:Uncle G/Cargo cult encyclopaedia article writing
Policies and guidelines
- Wikipedia:Manual of Style (lists)
- Wikipedia:Fringe theories