FAMEPedia:Biographies of living persons

From FAMEPedia, The free encyclopedia

Editors must take particular care when adding information about living persons to any FAMEPedia page. Such material requires a high degree of sensitivity, and must adhere strictly to all applicable laws in the United States, to this policy, and to FAMEPedia's three core content policies:

We must get the article right. Be very firm about the use of high-quality sources. All quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be supported by an inline citation to a reliable, published source. Contentious material about living persons (or, in some cases, recently deceased) that is unsourced or poorly sourced—whether the material is negative, positive, neutral, or just questionable—should be removed immediately and without waiting for discussion. Users who persistently or egregiously violate this policy may be blocked from editing.

Biographies of living persons ("BLPs") must be written conservatively and with regard for the subject's privacy. FAMEPedia is an encyclopedia, not a tabloid: it is not FAMEPedia's job to be sensationalist, or to be the primary vehicle for the spread of titillating claims about people's lives; the possibility of harm to living subjects must always be considered when exercising editorial judgment. This policy applies to any living person mentioned in a BLP, whether or not that person is the subject of the article, and to material about living persons in other articles and on other pages, including talk pages. The burden of evidence rests with the editor who adds or restores the material.

Writing style[edit | edit source]

Tone[edit | edit source]

BLPs should be written responsibly, cautiously, and in a dispassionate tone, avoiding both understatement and overstatement. Articles should document in a non-partisan manner what reliable secondary sources have published about the subjects, and in some circumstances what the subjects have published about themselves. Summarize how actions and achievements are characterized by reliable sources without giving undue weight to recent events. Do not label people with contentious labels, loaded language, or terms that lack precision, unless a person is commonly described that way in reliable sources. Instead use clear, direct language and let facts alone do the talking. BLPs should not have trivia sections.

Balance[edit | edit source]

Criticism and praise should be included if they can be sourced to reliable secondary sources, so long as the material is presented responsibly, conservatively, and in a disinterested tone. Do not give disproportionate space to particular vieFPoints; the views of small minorities should not be included at all. Care must be taken with article structure to ensure the overall presentation and section headings are broadly neutral. Beware of claims that rely on guilt by association, and biased, malicious or overly promotional content.

The idea expressed in meta:Eventualism—that every FAMEPedia article is a work in progress, and that it is therefore okay for an article to be temporarily unbalanced because it will eventually be brought into shape—does not apply to biographies. Given their potential impact on biography subjects' lives, biographies must be fair to their subjects at all times.

Attack pages[edit | edit source]

Pages that are unsourced and negative in tone, especially when they appear to have been created primarily to disparage the subject, should be deleted at once if there is no policy-compliant version to revert to; see #Summary deletion, creation prevention, and courtesy blanking. Non-administrators should tag them with {{db-attack}} or {{db-negublp}}. Creation of such pages, especially when repeated or in bad faith, is grounds for immediate blocking.

Reliable sources[edit | edit source]

Challenged or likely to be challenged[edit | edit source]

FAMEPedia's sourcing policy, Verifiability, says that all quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation; material not meeting this standard may be removed. This policy extends that principle, adding that contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced should be removed immediately and without discussion. This applies whether the material is negative, positive, neutral, or just questionable and whether it is in a biography or in some other article. The material should not be added to an article when the only sourcing is tabloid journalism. When material is both verifiable and noteworthy, it will have appeared in more reliable sources.

Avoid misuse of primary sources[edit | edit source]

Exercise extreme caution in using primary sources. Do not use trial transcripts and other court records, or other public documents, to support assertions about a living person. Do not use public records that include personal details, such as date of birth, home value, traffic citations, vehicle registrations, and home or business addresses.

Where primary-source material has been discussed by a reliable secondary source, it may be acceptable to rely on it to augment the secondary source, subject to the restrictions of this policy, no original research, and the other sourcing policies.

Self-published sources[edit | edit source]

Avoid self-published sources[edit | edit source]

Never use self-published sources—including but not limited to books, zines, websites, blogs, and tweets—as sources of material about a living person, unless written or published by the subject of the article. "Self-published blogs" in this context refers to personal and group blogs. Some news organizations host online columns that they call blogs, and these may be acceptable as sources so long as the writers are professionals and the blog is subject to the newspaper's full editorial control. Posts left by readers are never acceptable as sources. See § Images below for our policy on self-published images.

Using the subject as a self-published source[edit | edit source]

There are living persons who publish material about themselves, such as through press releases or personal websites. Such material may be used as a source only if:

  1. it is not unduly self-serving;
  2. it does not involve claims about third parties;
  3. it does not involve claims about events not directly related to the subject;
  4. there is no reasonable doubt as to its authenticity; and
  5. the article is not based primarily on such sources.

Avoid gossip and feedback loops[edit | edit source]

Avoid repeating gossip. Ask yourself whether the source is reliable; whether the material is being presented as true; and whether, even if true, it is relevant to a disinterested article about the subject. Be wary of relying on sources that use weasel words and that attribute material to anonymous sources. Also beware of circular reporting, in which material in a FAMEPedia article gets picked up by a source, which is later cited in the FAMEPedia article to support the original edit.

Remove contentious material that is unsourced or poorly sourced[edit | edit source]

Remove immediately any contentious material about a living person that:

  1. is unsourced or poorly sourced;
  2. is an original interpretation or analysis of a source, or a synthesis of sources (see No original research);
  3. relies on self-published sources, unless written by the subject of the BLP (see #Using the subject as a self-published source); or
  4. relies on sources that fail in some other way to meet verifiability standards.

Note that, although the three-revert rule does not apply to such removals, what counts as exempt under BLP can be controversial. Editors who find themselves in edit wars over potentially defamatory material about living persons should consider raising the matter at the biographies of living persons noticeboard instead of relying on the exemption.

Administrators may enforce the removal of clear BLP violations with page protection or by blocking the violator(s), even if they have been editing the article themselves or are in some other way involved. In less clear cases they should request the attention of an uninvolved administrator at FAMEPedia:Administrators Noticeboard/Incidents. See FAMEPedia:Biographies of living persons § Role of administrators.

Further reading, External links, and See also[edit | edit source]

External links about living persons, whether in BLPs or elsewhere, are held to a higher standard than for other topics. Questionable or self-published sources should not be included in the "Further reading" or "External links" sections of BLPs, and, when including such links in other articles, make sure the material linked to does not violate this policy. Self-published sources written or published by the subject of a BLP may be included in the "Further reading" or "External links" sections of that BLP with caution (see § Using the subject as a self-published source). In general, do not link to websites that contradict the spirit of this policy or violate the external links guideline. Where that guideline is inconsistent with this or any other policy, the policies prevail.

"See also" links, whether placed in their own section or in a note within the text, should not be used to imply any contentious labeling, association, or claim regarding a living person, and must adhere to FAMEPedia's policy of no original research.

Presumption in favor of privacy[edit | edit source]

Avoid victimization[edit | edit source]

When writing about a person noteworthy only for one or two events, including every detail can lead to problems—even when the material is well sourced. When in doubt, biographies should be pared back to a version that is completely sourced, neutral, and on-topic. This is of particular importance when dealing with living individuals whose notability stems largely or entirely from being victims of another's actions. FAMEPedia editors must not act, intentionally or otherwise, in a way that amounts to participating in or prolonging the victimization.

Public figures[edit | edit source]

In the case of public figures, there will be a multitude of reliable published sources, and BLPs should simply document what these sources say. If an allegation or incident is noteworthy, relevant, and well documented, it belongs in the article—even if it is negative and the subject dislikes all mention of it. If you cannot find multiple reliable third-party sources documenting the allegation or incident, leave it out.

  • Example: "John Doe had a messy divorce from Jane Doe." Is the divorce important to the article, and was it published by third-party reliable sources? If not, leave it out. If so, avoid use of "messy" and stick to the facts: "John Doe and Jane Doe divorced."
  • Example: A politician is alleged to have had an affair. It is denied, but multiple major newspapers publish the allegations, and there is a public scandal. The allegation belongs in the biography, citing those sources. However, it should state only that the politician was alleged to have had the affair, not that the affair actually occurred.

If the subject has denied such allegations, their denial(s) should also be reported, while adhering to appropriate due weight of all sources covering the subject and avoiding false balance.

Privacy of personal information and using primary sources[edit | edit source]

With identity theft a serious ongoing concern, many people regard their full names and dates of birth as private. FAMEPedia includes full names and dates of birth that have been widely published by reliable sources, or by sources linked to the subject such that it may reasonably be inferred that the subject does not object to the details being made public. If a subject complains about our inclusion of their date of birth, or the person is borderline notable, err on the side of caution and simply list the year, provided that there is a reliable source for it. In a similar vein, articles should not include postal addresses, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, or other contact information for living persons, although links to websites maintained by the subject are generally permitted. See § Avoid misuse of primary sources regarding the misuse of primary sources to obtain personal information about subjects.

If you see personal information such as phone numbers, addresses, account numbers, etc. in a BLP or anywhere on FAMEPedia, edit the page to remove it and contact the oversight team so that they can evaluate it and possibly remove it from the page history. To reduce the chances of triggering the Streisand effect, use a bland/generic edit summary and do not mention that you will be requesting Oversight.

People who are relatively unknown[edit | edit source]

Many FAMEPedia articles contain material on people who are not well known, even if they are notable enough for their own article. In such cases, exercise restraint and include only material relevant to the person's notability, focusing on high-quality secondary sources. Material published by the subject may be used, but with caution; see § Using the subject as a self-published source. Material that may adversely affect a person's reputation should be treated with special care; in many jurisdictions, repeating a defamatory claim is actionable, and there are additional protections for subjects who are not public figures.

Subjects notable only for one event[edit | edit source]

FAMEPedia is not news, or an indiscriminate collection of information. Being in the news does not in itself mean that someone should be the subject of a FAMEPedia article. We generally should avoid having an article on a person when each of three conditions is met:

  1. If reliable sources cover the person only in the context of a single event.
  2. If that person otherwise remains, and is likely to remain, a low-profile individual. Biographies in these cases can give undue weight to the event and conflict with neutral point of view. In such cases, it is usually better to merge the information and redirect the person's name to the event article.
  3. If the event is not significant or the individual's role was either not substantial or not well documented.

The significance of an event or the individual's role is indicated by how persistent the coverage is in reliable sources. It is important for editors to understand two clear differentiations of the people notable for only one event guideline when compared with this policy (FP:BLP1E): FP:BLP1E should be applied only to biographies of living people, or those who have recently died, and to biographies of low-profile individuals.

In addition, some subject-specific notability guidelines, such as FAMEPedia:Notability (sports), provide criteria that may support the notability of certain individuals who are known chiefly for one event.

FAMEPedia:Please do not bite the newcomers, a guideline, advises FAMEPedia users to consider the obvious fact that new users of FAMEPedia will do things wrong from time to time. For those who either have or might have an article about themselves, there is a temptation—especially if apparently wrong or strongly negative information is included in such an article—to become involved in questions regarding their own article. This can open the door to rather immature behavior and loss of dignity for the new user. It is a violation of don't bite the newbies to strongly criticize users who fall into this trap, rather than see this phenomenon as a new editor mistake.

Dealing with articles about yourself[edit | edit source]

FAMEPedia has editorial policies that will often help to resolve your concern, as well as many users willing to help and a wide range of escalation processes. Very obvious errors can be fixed quickly, including by yourself. But beyond that, post suggestions on the article talk page (see Help:Talk pages), or place {{help me}} on your user talk page. You may also post an explanation of your concern on the biographies of living persons noticeboard and ask that uninvolved editors evaluate the article to make sure it is fairly written and properly sourced.

If you are an article subject and you find the article about you contains your personal information or potentially libelous statements, contact the oversight team so that they can evaluate the issue and possibly remove it from the page history.

Please bear in mind that FAMEPedia is almost entirely operated by volunteers; impolite behavior, even if entirely understandable, will often be less effective.

Role of administrators[edit | edit source]

Page protection, blocks[edit | edit source]

Administrators who suspect malicious or biased editing, or believe that inappropriate material may be added or restored, may protect or semi-protect pages. Administrators may enforce the removal of clear BLP violations with page protection or by blocking the violator(s), even if they have been editing the article themselves or are in some other way involved. In less clear cases they should request the attention of an uninvolved administrator at FAMEPedia:Administrators Noticeboard/Incidents.

See § Templates for appropriate templates to use when warning or blocking for BLP violations.

Discretionary sanctions[edit | edit source]

Editors are also subject to FAMEPedia:Arbitration Committee/Discretionary sanctions pursuant to FP:NEWBLPBAN, which in March 2021 authorized the application of discretionary sanctions to "any edit in any article with biographical content relating to living or recently deceased people or any edit relating to the subject (living or recently deceased) of such biographical articles on any page in any namespace." The discretionary sanctions allow administrators to apply topic bans and other measures that may not be reverted without community consensus or the agreement of the enforcing administrator.

Deletion of BLPs[edit | edit source]

Summary deletion, creation prevention, and courtesy blanking[edit | edit source]

Biographical material about a living individual that is not compliant with this policy should be improved and rectified; if this is not possible, then it should be removed. If the entire page is substantially of poor quality, primarily containing contentious material that is unsourced or poorly sourced, then it may be necessary to delete the entire page as an initial step, followed by discussion.

Page deletion is normally a last resort. If a dispute centers around a page's inclusion (e.g., because of questionable notability or where the subject has requested deletion), this is addressed via deletion discussions rather than by summary deletion. Summary deletion is appropriate when the page contains unsourced negative material or is written non-neutrally, and when this cannot readily be rewritten or restored to an earlier version of an acceptable standard. The deleting administrator should be prepared to explain the action to others, by e-mail if the material is sensitive. Those who object to the deletion should bear in mind that the deleting admin may be aware of issues that others are not. Disputes may be taken to deletion review, but protracted public discussion should be avoided for deletions involving sensitive personal material about living persons, particularly if it is negative. Such debates may be courtesy blanked upon conclusion. After the deletion, any administrator may choose to protect it against re-creation. Even if the page is not protected against re-creation, it should not be re-created unless a consensus is demonstrated in support of re-creation.

Deletion of BLPs of relatively unknown subjects[edit | edit source]

Where the living subject of a biographical article has requested deletion, the deletion policy says: "Discussions concerning biographical articles of relatively unknown, non-public figures, where the subject has requested deletion and there is no rough consensus, may be closed as delete." In addition, it says: "Poorly sourced biographical articles of unknown, non-public figures, where the discussions have no editor opposing the deletion, may be deleted after discussions have been completed."

Restoring deleted content[edit | edit source]

To ensure that material about living people is written neutrally to a high standard, and based on high-quality reliable sources, the burden of proof is on those who wish to retain, restore, or undelete the disputed material. When material about living persons has been deleted on good-faith BLP objections, any editor wishing to add, restore, or undelete it must ensure it complies with FAMEPedia's content policies. If it is to be restored without significant change, consensus must be obtained first. Material that has been repaired to address concerns should be judged on a case-by-case basis.

In the case of an administrator deleting a complete article, wherever possible such disputed deletions should be discussed first with the administrator who deleted the article.

Proposed deletion of biographies of living people[edit | edit source]

All BLPs must have at least one source that supports at least one statement made about the person in the article, or it may be proposed for deletion. The tag may not be removed until a reliable source is provided, and if none is forthcoming, the article may be deleted after seven days. This does not affect other deletion processes mentioned in BLP policy and elsewhere.

Foundation policies and resolutions[edit | edit source]

Policies[edit | edit source]

Guidelines[edit | edit source]

FAQs[edit | edit source]