Minimal importance article
This is an important threshold. By itself, a minimal importance article may barely be notable, but all such articles together could form a large fraction of human knowledge. According to the law of normal distribution, most encyclopedia articles will be of low or minimal importance. There are more ordinary things than extraordinary things; this is also expressed in concepts like the Long Tail and the Bell Curve.
Low-importance articles are marked as such on Wikipedia with various "Category:Low-importance" or "Start-Class" tags at the bottom of the page or elsewhere. They are also likelier to have "Orphan" tags associated with them, indicating that they have no incoming links, and are often targeted for speedy deletion as well.
Examples might include obscure concepts like fictional last words used in video games, or list of fictional raccoons, or list of real animals with fraudulent diplomas, and such rarely used terms as: Lopadotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsanodrimhypotrimmatosilphioparaomelitokatakechymenokichlepikossyphophattoperisteralektryonoptekephalliokigklopeleiolagoiosiraiobaphetraganopterygon.
However, most minimal importance articles are about normal but "boring" subjects with very limited appeal, like finance committees and other organizations, low-level managers, local infrastructure plans, etc. They tend to be about ordinary and non-controversial subjects, and are often poorly written and incomplete. The best place to find such articles is probably at Deletionpedia or Speedy Deletion Wiki.
Every encyclopedia has different notability standards. For Wikipedia, these are quite high. The for-profit site Wikia.com on the other hand, allows detailed articles about even the minutiae of fictional universes and subcultures, along with having easier editing rules. Encyclopedias like Infogalactic have much lower notability barriers than Wikipedia, theoretically allowing them to become several times larger.
The notability cut-off could be determined by technical limits. If an online article was created about every eligible subject below the minimal importance level, the web host might not have enough online storage to host them all. However, Wikipedia has made an editorial decision to only allow articles about subjects important enough to have been included in traditional paper encyclopedias, both general and specialized types. This has started an ongoing debate among its contributors. Wikipedia editors have suggested that such non-notable articles be posted elsewhere.
An online encyclopedia that allows minimal importance articles would not care as much about notability. It could allow anyone to have a biographical article about themselves, provided the article meets the other site standards. If enough such articles appear, the encyclopedia might become an extension of social media. Every business or other organization could also have its own article.
An encyclopedia emphasizing minimal importance articles would no longer be a traditional encyclopedia, but could aspire to become a universal database, also known as a knowledge core. First, the encyclopedia would have to reach a social critical mass, before the network effect would draw in more and more users. Unlike the semi-random results from a search engine, all its content would already have been organized. However, it's unclear whether that would convey a real advantage, or if such a concept is practical.
Other allowable articles could describe non-mainstream scientific, social, or historical theories. Beliefs held by only a few people and rejected by established researchers are often described as crackpot theories or pseudoscience. However there could be significant value in listing them all, as a guide to cognitive biases, for sociological studies, and for the possibility they might contain unexpected insights.
Articles could also be generated automatically. For example, special software could search listings of online booksellers and scanned books like Google Books to extract a book's title, author, and ISBN code. This information would not be copyrighted, unlike any attached book reviews and summaries. The software could also extract key words to deduce the meaning, and generate simple descriptions of the book's content. This process alone could generate millions of new minimal importance articles, as it has been estimated that over a hundred million books have been published throughout history.
Similar online searches could automatically generate lists of other commercial products, historical and current events, persons, and places. Such software could become an extension of normal search engines, without reaching the editorial standards of a true encyclopedia. Humans would still need to review and edit articles generated in this way.
Other issues affecting minimal importance articles could be a requirement that the writer of an article be unconnected to the topic of the article. However the only people who care enough to write the article might be directly involved with the subject, or even be the subject. This is related to the issue of neutrality. If every religious group or church creates its own article, they are not likely to describe their main religious controversies as exhaustively as their critics would. This might also cause editing wars.
Articles about obscure subjects would be updated less often, and their information could soon become obsolete. Open source unpaid contributors would not have as many incentives to maintain them, giving the entire encyclopedia a bad reputation. They could also include too much original research.
Then there is the issue of reliable sources. Since encyclopedia articles are supposed to be verifiable, they have to include references, but not all sources are considered acceptable due to scientific, editorial or even political standards. For example, Wikipedia editors have often debated whether news stories published by the Daily Mail should be allowable in article citations. Most Wikipedia editors support banning the Daily Mail for this purpose, in most but not all cases.
- Wikipedia category, retrieved Jan 18 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Low-importance_articles
- Wikipedia category, retrieved Jan 18 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Orphan
- Mark Hill, Top 10 Worst Wikipedia Pages & Articles, Feb 21 2013. http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-worst-wikipedia-articles.php
- Wikipedia category, retrieved Jan 18 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Unusual_articles
- The 8 Most Needlessly Detailed Wikipedia Entries, Sep 27 2007. http://www.cracked.com/article_14981_the-8-most-needlessly-detailed-wikipedia-entries.html
- Timothy Noah, "More on Wikability", Mar 2007. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/chatterbox/2007/03/more_on_wikability.html
- Joe Brockmeier, Is Wikipedia's "Deletionism" Out of Control?, Mar 19 2010. http://ostatic.com/blog/is-wikipedias-deletionism-out-of-control
- What draws Wikipedians to deletionism?, May 2011. https://www.quora.com/What-draws-Wikipedians-to-deletionism
- Sharon Hill, Skeptical Inquirer article: The Trouble with Pseudoscience—It Can Be a Catastrophe, Jan 30 2013. http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/the_trouble_with_pseudoscience
- Leonid Taycher, Aug 05 2010. http://booksearch.blogspot.com/2010/08/books-of-world-stand-up-and-be-counted.html
- Wikipedia guidelines, Jan 18 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Your_first_article#Are_you_closely_connected_to_the_article_topic.3F
- Wikipedia category, retrieved Jan 18 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Edit_warring
- Wikipedia discussion started by Hillbillyholiday, "Daily Mail RfC", January 7 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Noticeboard