So You Want Your Film to be on Wikipedia?

489px-wikipedia-logo-en-bigSo you’ve made a movie, you’ve worked hard on it, it’s been accepted in a small film festival in California. Then, one day, you’re looking up some film on Wikipedia, and get an awesome idea — “Hey, my film should be on here, I think I’ll write an article about it!”

Great idea, right?

This article will hopefully answer that question for you, and help prevent unnecessary confusion and possible pain. I’ll explain about that in a minute. First, the short answer to the question.

It’s a great idea, right? After all, the film was selected to be in a film festival. And, what’s more is that you managed to keep a blog of everything that happened during the production process (plenty of blog posts to cite as sources)!

Short answer, it *might* be a great idea to have a page for your film on Wikipedia. The odds are, it’s not a good idea at all (and for sure, if there should be a article for your film, you shouldn’t be the one to write it). Before thinking that I’m crazy, thinking that Wikipedia would love to have a page for your film on it, and rushing over to Wikipedia to write your article, at least read the rest of this article. You won’t regret it, I promise.

So why isn’t it a good idea?

There are several reasons, namely, the Wikipedia standards on verifiability, notability, reliable sources, and conflicts of interest.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

A very good reason not to create a page with info about your own film (or any other piece of work, for that matter) is that you’re the one who created it. Why? Because you have a heavy bias towards it.

Another reason is that taking this action would also be viewed as self-promotion and/or advertising, a big no-no for editing Wikipedia. Of course, you very well probably have honest intentions, but it probably won’t be viewed that way by others. I quote:

COI editing involves contributing to Wikipedia in order to promote your own interests or those of other individuals, companies, or groups. Where advancing outside interests is more important to an editor than advancing the aims of Wikipedia, that editor stands in a conflict of interest. Source.

So now you’re thinking: Okay… So maybe I shouldn’t make the article on my film… But can a friend? And can I make an article for his film, too?

Technically, yes. But here’s where the next thing to consider steps in:

NOTABILITY

The Wikipedia standards on notability, particularly the WikiProject:Film guidelines on what makes a film notable, are pretty clear on what films (or other work, even film companies) should or shouldn’t have an article.

Notability guidelines reflect the following things: articles must not be vehicles for advertising; subject matter must be verifiable from reliable sources; no original research can be used; the fact that Wikipedia is not a soapbox; Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information; and that Wikipedia is not a crystal ball.

Specifically dealing with films, one or more indicators that a film might have the required notability are:

- The film is widely distributed and has received full length reviews by two or more nationally known critics.

– The film is historically notable, as evidenced by one or more of the following: publication of at least two non-trivial articles, at least five years after the film’s initial release; the film was deemed notable by a broad survey of film critics, academics, or movie professionals, when such a poll was conducted at least five years after the film’s release; the film was given a commercial re-release, or screened in a festival, at least five years after initial release; the film was featured as part of a documentary, program, or retrospective on the history of cinema.

– The film has received a major award for excellence in some aspect of filmmaking.

– The film was selected for preservation in a national archive.

– The film is “taught” as a subject at an accredited university or college with a notable film program.

– The film was within the top 10 in terms of box office sales in at least one national market.

Source.

Also consider:

- The film represents a unique accomplishment in cinema, is a milestone in the development of film art, or contributes significantly to the development of a national cinema, with such verifiable claims as “The only cel-animated feature film ever made in Thailand.”

– The film features significant involvement (i.e., one of the most important roles in the making of the film) by a notable person and is a major part of his/her career.

– An article on the film should be created only if there is enough information on it that it would clutter up the biography page of that person if it was mentioned there.

– The film was successfully distributed domestically in a country that is not a major film producing country, and was produced by that country’s equivalent of a “major film studio.” Articles on such a film should assert that the film in question was notable for something more than merely having been produced, and if any document can be found to support this, in any language, it should be cited.

Source.

And… Just in case you’re wondering whether or not you should write an article about a somewhat major feature film being produced that you’ve heard about, consider these guidelines:

Films that have not been confirmed by reliable sources to have commenced principal photography should not have their own articles. Budget issues, scripting issues and casting issues can interfere with a project well ahead of its intended filming date. The assumption should also not be made that because a film is likely to be a high-profile release it will be immune to setbacks—there is no “sure thing” production. Until the start of principal photography, information on the film can be included in articles about its subject material. Sources must be used to confirm the start of principal photography after shooting has begun.

Additionally, films that have already begun shooting, but have not yet been publicly released (theatres or video), should not have their own articles unless the production itself is notable per the notability guidelines. Similarly, films produced in the past, which were either not completed or not distributed, should not have their own articles unless their failure was notable per the guidelines.

Source.

For more in-depth information about policies concerning future films, see this article from the WikiProject:Film.

Oh, and just as a note: the IMdB is not the all-knowledgeable source for films, future or otherwise (it can be an especially unreliable source for future films). All content must have a certain degree of:

VERIFIABILITY

Basically, information needs to be verifiable, that is, readers need to be able to check to make sure the information is correct. The rumor that you heard from a friend about the Kendrick brothers shooting their next film on a tropical island with a 50-million-dollar budget is not verifiable (and what’s more, it’s 100% untrue; I heard from an acquaintance that they’re shooting a film about some deep-sea divers who meet some dolphins that can talk).

The following sources should be treated with utmost caution: questionable sources (they’re not known for getting their facts straight), self-published sources (remember the conflict of interest thing?), Wikipedia itself, and non-English sources (online language translators are notoriously inaccurate).

RELIABLE SOURCES

And of course, all sources used must be reliable. Unreliable sources include: forums, social networking sites (like FaceBook and MySpace), media sharing sites (such as YouTube), Twitter, etc. There are exceptions to the rule, but the line is extremely fine; thus, it’s best to steer far away from such sites when looking for reliable sources. See the official guidelines article on what sources are considered to be reliable.



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So in short, if you’re going to write an article about a film (or anything, really) on Wikipedia, be sure to bear in mind the things above. Otherwise, there can be consequences. Remember the thing about confusion and pain I mentioned before?

Well, if you decide to ignore all the guidelines I’ve just set out in this article, don’t be surprised if your article is speedily deleted, or if deletion is proposed. It can be confusing, because you’ll be wondering why anyone would want to delete the precious article you’ve just created. And it can be painful, because you might be called a spammer, as well.

Conversely, you are completely capable of writing a feature-quality article if you follow the guidelines and stick to the policies. If you’re considering writing any articles, it’s a wise idea to brush up on Wikipedia guidelines, not just for the topics discussed above, but also for style, format, etc. There’s a whole lot more to writing a good article than putting words on a page.

So the basic principles to remember:
– Don’t write articles about things you’ve created. If the work is good enough, other people will talk about it (creating reliable sources), and other people will create the article.
– Sources must be reliable and verifiable.
– Follow common sense and Wikipedia guidelines.

Here’s a list of some places to start if you’re interested in learning more about Wikipedia guidelines:

Manual of Style
How to Edit a Page
Avoiding Common Mistakes
Editing Policy
Layout

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