Peacock Term

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In Wikipedia articles, try to avoid Peacock Terms that merely show off the subject of the article without containing any real information.

Some terms to watch for:

  • "an important..."
  • "one of the most important..."
  • "one of the best..."
  • "the most influential..."
  • "a significant..."
  • "intriguingly..."
  • "indisputable..."

It's not necessary to justify the subject of your article to the reader. If they're reading the article, then they're probably already interested in the subject. Be bold in updating pages. Your choice to write (or edit) an article is good evidence that the subject is worth including in Wikipedia (but see below).

Believe in your subject. Let the facts speak for themselves. If your ice hockey player, canton, or species of beetle is worth the reader's time, it will come out in the facts. Insisting on its importance clutters your writing and convinces no one.

Examples

Consider the following two examples. Which do you think makes for more interesting reading?

William Peckenridge, eighth Duke of Omnium (1642? - May 8, 1691) is widely considered to be one of the most important men to carry that title.
William Peckenridge, eighth Duke of Omnium (1642? - May 8, 1691) was personal counselor to King James I, general in the Wars of the Roses, a chemist, bandleader, and the director of the secret society known as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He expanded the title of Omnium to include protectorship of Guiana and right of revocation for civil-service appointments in India.

The first example simply tells the reader that William Peckenridge was important. The second example shows the reader that he was important. Show; don't tell.

Unimportant things are important, too

Don't forget the pleasure of reading about relatively unimportant subjects: the vice presidents, the discredited scientists, the character actors, the backwater cities, the extinct species. Not everything is the best, the most important, or the most influential. There's something to be said for ugly ducklings, too.

A general guide of what is appropriate to include in Wikipedia is accessible at Wikipedia:What's in, what's out and at Wikipedia:Importance.

Inappropriate subjects

On the converse side, if you are trying to dress up something that doesn't belong in Wikipedia—your band, your Web site, your company's product—think twice about it. Wikipedia is not an advertising medium or home page service. Wikipedians are pretty clever, and if an article is really just personal gratification or blatant advertising, it's not going to last long—no matter how "important" you say the subject is.

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