Wikipedia:Try not to leave it a stub

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

When you create a new article, try not to leave it a stub.

From quantity to quality[edit]

Wikipedia is a very different place now than it was in 2001. In the early days of Wikipedia, volunteers could pick almost any notable topic and start an article about it. There were some basic guidelines for article content, but they were not as well developed or as consistently enforced as they are now. Since then, we have amassed more than 6 million articles and there is less and less low-hanging fruit. Over the same time period, Wikipedia has become one of the most popular websites in the world, with millions of people relying on our content every day. For these and other reasons, the general culture of Wikipedia has shifted its focus from quantity to quality.

The warm and fuzzies of article creation[edit]

Creating Wikipedia articles is fun! There's a special feeling associated with being able to say "I started the article on X!" that motivates a lot of Wikipedians. For that reason, it's common to see long lists of "articles I created" on user pages. But starting an article is the easy part. Improving it to something more useful to readers is the hard part. For this reason, many Wikipedians frown on editors who frequently create stubs to claim "creation credit" before quickly moving on and leaving the more difficult work to others.

Creating stubs is ok sometimes![edit]

This essay does not intend to argue that all stub creation is bad. In fact, there are many cases when stub creation is a perfectly good way to contribute:

  • Sometimes you may do the work of searching for sources just to find that while a subject is notable, you do not have access to the sources which would be needed to improve it further.[a]
  • Maybe you start an article and realize you don't have time to continue work on it, so publish it with the intent to return to it soon.
  • Stubs are a good place for new editors to get started. Sometimes users learn to edit at an event like an edit-a-thon, when there is not time to fully develop an article. The purpose of such events is to introduce the idea of editing Wikipedia to the public, and to that end any constructive contributions are welcome.

Whom this essay is really for[edit]

This essay should not be used to heckle new users' creations, or to shame someone who happens to create a single stub. While it's a good thing for anyone to improve articles they start, the impetus for this essay is the routine practice of some experienced users creating stubs when they are fully capable of doing just a bit more work. While there are some Wikipedians who see any contribution as a good contribution, there are others who feel some sense of resentment for those who frequently create stubs, add the title to a list of "articles created", and either walk away or go so far as to suggest that other editors use their volunteer time to do the rest of the work. If you think that other users might be interested in writing an article, and you are not interested in doing anything more than creating a stub, perhaps hold off and see of those other users might want to be the ones to create it.

Yes, discussing ideas of "credit" on Wikipedia feels yucky[edit]

Nobody "owns" an article, and any talk of "credit" among Wikipedians tends to feel a bit gauche, but it is well documented that Wikipedians are motivated by a sense of having contributed something meaningful. Like it or not, article creation is high on that list for a lot of people. Most of the time, this is a very good thing. We want people to be proud of their contributions. This essay does not intend to sap anyone's source of pride, but to highlight a minor issue that arises at the intersection of personal pride, community spirit, and the purpose of the project.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ PS: If this applies to you, you may want to explore the resources available at the Wikipedia Library!