Wikipedia:What BLP1E is not

WP:BLP1E may be one of the most consistently misunderstood Wikipedia policies, particularly in deletion discussions. This essay endeavours to clear up the matter of what constitutes a "living person notable for only one event" under Wikipedia policy and what doesn't.

BLP1E criteria

Quoth BLP1E, we generally should avoid having an article on a person when each of the three criteria is met (emphasis added):

  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. John Hinckley Jr., for example, has a separate article because the single event he was associated with, the Reagan assassination attempt, was significant and his role was both substantial and well documented.

These criteria are surprisingly narrow; by a strict reading, BLP1E permits articles that would give even the most die-hard inclusionist pause. For instance, BLP1E theoretically permits an article on a low-profile individual notable for only a single event in which he had a substantial and well-documented role -- say, a film's lead actor who went on to actively disclaim the limelight, cut all ties with the film industry, and move to Connecticut to restore muscle cars, refusing to return anyone's phone calls for twenty years. An article on such a subject is unlikely to be written, and it may well be one where the subject requests deletion if it does exist (say, if the film's notability is for being terrible), but one can interpret BLP1E in this article's favour.

This is because BLP1E is more a courtesy we grant potentially unwilling article subjects than anything. While plenty of reasonable room exists to interpret BLP1E more exclusively than written, no reasonable reading of BLP1E gets it to the level where it's often thrown around at AfD. The major moving part in BLP1E regards low-profile individuals; a low profile by choice (especially someone who actively avoids attention) is generally considered an argument in favour of the deletion of borderline articles.

"One dominant event"

An exceptionally common misinterpretation of BLP1E is that subjects notable primarily for one event are notable only for one event. If the article's subject has done more than one notable thing, even if the rest of it is far overshadowed by the primary event, BLP1E does not apply. This includes:

  • Subjects who were first notable for one event, and rode that fame into attention on their other endeavours
  • Subjects who have created many works, of which the majority have little attention and one has a sizable (or cult) fandom
  • Subjects who were involved in significant events, but with a pattern of involvement in smaller (but still worth mentioning) events outside of them

Title misunderstanding

A number of Wikipedia policies, guidelines, and essays alike are primarily quoted by their titles, not their content. Is this an issue for BLP1E?

Consider the oft-namedropped WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS, a common argument in deletion discussions. OTHERSTUFFEXISTS is frequently used as a rejoinder to keep !votes that rely on the existence of related articles, with the implication such arguments are inherently invalid. However, the second line of the essay is "These "other stuff exists" arguments can be valid or invalid", and it goes on to expand on the many circumstances where referring to other articles (or a lack thereof) is relevant to a discussion. Consider Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Miskel Spillman (3rd nomination), which explicitly discusses the issue of people nominating, !voting, or commenting on the basis of OTHERSTUFFEXISTS (and closed as keep as a result).

Do people assume, from the abbreviation, that BLP1E is "articles on people notable (or notable primarily) for one event are inappropriate for Wikipedia"? Some nominators and !voters seem to read it as such, and it tracks with common misunderstandings.

See also