Ever google yourself and find that there's a Wikipedia article about you?
Nope, me neither.
For me, that comes as no surprise. I mean, as fascinating as I might believe myself to be, I've never been under the illusion that anyone would have any need to look me up in an encyclopedia.
Still, I found myself wondering recently: What exactly does it take to get a Wikipedia article written about oneself? Scouring through the glut of information Wikipedia provides on the topic, I found my answer: The key is "notability." If you ever wish to appear as an entry in Wikipedia, you must be notable -- and not just to yourself. In case you're wondering if you are, in fact, notable, Wikipedia makes clear that the absence of a Wikipedia article about you might just be a clue that you are not:
"If your life and achievements are verifiable and genuinely notable, someone else will probably create an article about you sooner or later."
I can accept that. But what if you're someone who truly believes that you are, in fact, "notable," and yet, inexplicably, no one has created an article about you?
Although it might seem to argue against your own notability, hell, why not write your own Wikipedia entry? Well, it turns out that Wikipedia strongly discourages this practice, encouraging, instead, that aspiring article subjects make a request for article creation. Unfortunately, the price you pay for making such a request is that if declined, your request will be recorded for eternity on Wikipedia's web-accessible "Declined Articles For Creation Submissions" page.
Perhaps then it is better to ask a third party to submit an article about you, for you? Presumably -- since you are notable -- you have a fan who'd be willing to do so. And if not, well, perhaps your mom or a friend for whom you'd be willing to return the favor? Unfortunately, if you're not notable, it will end up in Wikipedia's Declined Articles for Creation as well.
In addition, the reason for the article's being declined is noted at the top of the article in a contrasting color and font. So, let's say you draft a glowing Wikipedia-type biography of yourself for your buddy to submit to Wikipedia. If your only sources are your own website, your blog, your Twitter feed and your Facebook page, it's going to be declined with a notation such as: "No extensive coverage in independent nor reliable sources, therefore non-notable." This cannot be remedied by adding independent sources that don't actually mention you, although apparently Wikipedia aspirants have tried.
To me, having to endure such close proximity to Wikipedia while being denied a place on Wikipedia would be to endure the fate of Tantalus -- with delectable fruit dangled close, yet still out of reach. Plus, I'd feel embarrassed to be publicly labeled as "not notable" -- regardless of the veracity of the label. It's hard for me to imagine why anyone would subject themselves to such suffering.
But perhaps some believe that being found "not notable" by Wikipedia actually creates its own form of notability? If you're inclined that sort of meta-thinking, then I say "go for it" -- because "notability" is subjective anyway. In fact, Wikipedia includes countless articles on topics that I do not personally consider "notable." I've compiled a short list of ten. As you read through them, don't forget to bear in mind that Wikipedia has deemed each and every one to be more notable than me, and probably you:
1. Phineas Gage:
A railroad worker who lived in the mid-nineteenth century and survived for 12 years after a rock-blasting accident in which his frontal lobe was impaled by a metal rod.
2. Bird Fancier's Lung:
A disease caused by the exposure to the dry dust of bird droppings.
3. Stadium Buddy :
A condom-shaped porta-potty for guys who just can't be bothered to find an actual toilet but who are too well-mannered to simply pee against a wall.
It's like a foot fetish, except instead of feet, it's insects crawling on your skin.
5. Night Soil:
It's like dumpster-diving, except instead of dumpsters, it involves cesspools, and instead of stuff you might want to take home and display in your living room, it involves human feces.
Calcified human remains of a fetus that died in utero that can remain in the body undetected for decades.
It's a word, so it's in the dictionary. Yet somehow it is notable enough to have merited a Wikipedia article. It refers to a quality of fortuitousness or serendipitous occurrence.
8. Anti-plurality Voting:
A voting system where votes are cast for the undesired candidate; the candidate with the least votes wins. No one uses this system anywhere.
9. Coprosma Spathulata :
A shrub indigenous to New Zealand, along with "nothofagus and rimu, where understory associates include Blechnum discolor and Doodia media."
10. Rotbold III (Count of Provence):
According to Wikipedia, "an obscure person" who was the only son of his father, Rothbold II who lived in the 11th century.
For anyone declared "not notable" by Wikipedia, that last one's gotta sting.
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