Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not a fan website

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No matter how popular celebrity actors or singers are, their articles on Wikipedia should not turn into a fan website that only includes their successes and achievements. Wikipedia's NPOV policy requires that major flops and "bombs", whether they are albums, films and concert tours (or music or films which are called "turkeys") should also be covered in the article.

Wikipedia is a user-edited website, but it is not a fan website; it is an encyclopedia. Accordingly, all articles, including those on celebrity actors or musicians who have attracted thousands of eager fans, must conform to a neutral point of view (NPOV). The NPOV policy requires that articles be written in a way that represents fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on their topic. While editors may try to add a biased point of view to any type of Wikipedia article, including articles about countries, history, or religion, articles about celebrity musicians, singers and actors and actresses are particularly liable to contain a biased point of view, which is typically biased in favour of the subject. In these articles, fan-editors may only put in positive information and they may seek to delete any negative reviews.

Warning signs[edit]

Selective, biased coverage of history or critical reception[edit]

In some musician or actor articles, fan-oriented editors only cover the individuals' successful singles, tours, films and projects, and only positive music reviews or movie reviews are included in the article. Films and albums that flop, or negatively reviewed albums or movies may be omitted entirely from the article. Editors who appear to be fans of the singer or actor in question may delete negative reviews of the artist, even if they come from a high quality, reliable source, such a music critic or film critic's article in a major newspaper or magazine. In some more extreme cases, even mediocre reviews from reliable sources, which call an album "an average recording" or a film "an average movie" may be reverted, because fan-oriented editors only want praise-filled reviews in the article.

Biased, POV form[edit]

The article's form may also be non-neutral. On a biased article, there may be a subheading labelled "accolades", where the artist's awards and positive reviews are listed; however, by the use of this subtitle, there is no place for editors to add in negative reviews (a more neutral subheading would be "Reception" or "Critical reception"). Another way that subtitles can be biased is by using dramatic, positively biased language. An artist's history section may read: "Initial stardom", "Rise to fame" and "International superstardom", as opposed to the more neutral subheadings "1970s", "1980s" and "1990s".

Peacock words[edit]

Biased Wikipedia articles may also contain a great deal of Peacock words, such as "renown", "legendary", "classic", "award-winning", "highly acclaimed" and so on. On Wikipedia, we don't add adjectives to describe musicians, singers or actors (or any other article topics). We simply state the facts of their career, and allow the reader to draw her own conclusions.

  • We don't say:"The album XYZ was an instant, massive success".
  • We say: "The album XYZ sold 100,000 copies in August 2015 and was on the Billboard top 40 charts (at #35 for two weeks".
  • We don't say: "Foo Barkley (born 1970) is a legendary Nigerian record producer. She was the founder of the highly-acclaimed Foo label in 2001.";
  • We say: "Foo Barkley (born 1970) is a Nigerian record producer. She founded the Foo record label in 2001."

One factor that may be influencing fan-oriented editors to use Peacock words is that they are widely used in actor and musician press releases and even in some newspaper and magazine articles about stars. Press releases are self-promotional material penned by an artist's publicist or media relations team, so they are a biased source, and should not be used in Wikipedia.

When newspaper or magazine articles casually refer to DJ XYZ as "legendary" or "highly-acclaimed", this is arguably low-effort writing, because instead of doing research to find out why this DJ has a "legendary" reputation, the author just pops in the peacock word and is done. If a local newspaper casually drops in the word "legendary" before a DJ, actor or singer's name, it probably doesn't merit using the term in a Wikipedia article.

On the other hand, if a major critic writes a substantial piece arguing why actor/musician X is "legendary", giving examples of her achievements, then using a referenced quotation in the article may be appropriate.

For example: "According to music critic Sue Xshosa's book Celebrity X on Fire, [celebrity X] became a legendary DJ in the club circuit due to her groundbreaking mix techniques, use of world music in a club scene dominated by mainstream dance records and her collaborations with artists such as David Bowie and Brian Eno." Here, using the reliable source-attributed adjective "legendary" is more appropriate because it is sourced to a published critic's book. Nevertheless, even in this case, it would still not be desirable to refer to the artist as "legendary" in the lead. Instead, it would be appropriate to add in the quotation in the appropriate part of the history section.

Weasel words and phrases[edit]

Articles edited by fan-oriented editors may also contain a number of weasel words or phrases. For example, an article may state that a singer is "one of the top singers in heavy metal", "one of the top actors in the US" or "the world's premier harmonica player". Other examples would include unsourced statements that "Many critics believe [actress name] is one of the top actresses in Hollywood" or "It is widely agreed that [singer name] is the best pop singer of the 21st century."

Use of non-independent or improper sources[edit]

Fan-oriented editors may use record company websites from a singer's label, biographies posted on an actor's personal website or other sources that are not independent from the article topic, such as press releases issued by an actor's publicist or articles written by the artist's production company. Quotes about a singer or actor should come from a reliable source such as a published book, mainstream newspaper or magazine, or a website with editorial oversight

Moreover, these sources must be independent from the subject. A music reviewer from the New York Times is independent from the subject. A publicist penning a review about a musician who is her client is not independent from the source. Fan-oriented articles may also include laudatory quotes about the greatness of an actor or singer sourced from a fan-edited website. User-edited fan websites where any anonymous person can post any text she wants are not a reliable source, and should not be used on Wikipedia.

We are working to create an encyclopedia, so all quotations and critical comments must be attributed to a reliable source. Ann Powers or Robert Christgau's published reviews are reliable sources. Randy in Boise is not a reliable source (except on matters regarding sword-fighting skeletons).

See also[edit]