Editors must take particular care when adding information about living persons to any Wikipedia page.
[People are presumed to be living unless there is reason to believe otherwise. This policy does not apply to people declared dead in absentia.] Such material requires a high degree of sensitivity, and must adhere strictly to all applicable laws in the United States, to this policy, and to Wikipedia's three core content policies:
We must get the article right. Be very firm about the use of high-quality sources. All quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be explicitly attributed to a reliable, published source, which is usually done with an inline citation. Contentious material about living persons (or, in some cases, recently deceased) that is unsourced or poorly sourced – whether the material is negative, positive, neutral, or just questionable – should be removed immediately and without waiting for discussion.
[Jimmy Wales. "WikiEN-l Zero information is preferred to misleading or false information", May 16, 2006, and May 19, 2006; Jimmy Wales. Keynote speech, Wikimania, August 2006.] Users who persistently or egregiously violate this policy may be blocked from editing.
Biographies of living persons ("BLP"s) must be written conservatively and with regard for the subject's privacy. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a tabloid: it is not Wikipedia's job to be sensationalist, or to be the primary vehicle for the spread of titillating claims about people's lives; the possibility of harm to living subjects must always be considered when exercising editorial judgment. This policy applies to any living person mentioned in a BLP, whether or not that person is the subject of the article, and to material about living persons in other articles and on other pages, including talk pages.
[Requests for arbitration/Rachel Marsden: "WP:BLP applies to all living persons mentioned in an article"] The burden of evidence rests with the editor who adds or restores material.
BLPs should be written responsibly, cautiously, and in a dispassionate tone, avoiding both understatement and overstatement. Articles should document in a non-partisan manner what reliable secondary sources
have published about the subjects, and in some circumstances
what the subjects have published about themselves. BLPs should not have trivia sections
Criticism and praise should be included if they can be sourced to reliable secondary sources, so long as the material is presented responsibly, conservatively, and in a disinterested tone. Do not give disproportionate space
to particular viewpoints; the views of tiny minorities should not be included at all. Care must be taken with article structure
to ensure the overall presentation and section headings are broadly neutral. Beware of claims that rely on guilt by association
, and biased, malicious or overly promotional content.
The idea expressed in – that every Wikipedia article is a work in progress, and that it is therefore okay for an article to be temporarily unbalanced because it will eventually be brought into shape – does not apply to biographies. Given their potential impact on biography subjects' lives, biographies must be fair to their subjects at all times.
Pages that are unsourced and negative in tone, especially when they appear to have been created to disparage the subject, should be deleted at once if there is no policy-compliant version to revert to; see below
. Non-administrators should tag them with . Creation of such pages, especially when repeated or in bad faith, is grounds for immediate blocking.
Challenged or likely to be challenged
Wikipedia's sourcing policy, , says that all quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged
must be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation
; material not meeting this standard may be removed. This policy extends that principle, adding that contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced should be removed immediately and without discussion. This applies whether the material is negative, positive, neutral, or just questionable, and whether it is in a biography or in some other article. Material should not be added to an article when the only sourcing is tabloid journalism
. When material is both verifiable and noteworthy, it will have appeared in more reliable sources.
Remove contentious material that is unsourced or poorly sourced
Remove immediately any contentious material about a living person that is unsourced or poorly sourced; that is a conjectural interpretation of a source (see No original research
); that relies on self-published sources, unless written by the subject of the BLP (see below
); or that relies on sources that fail in some other way to meet Verifiability
standards. Note: although the three-revert rule does not apply to such removals
, what counts as exempt under BLP can be controversial. Editors who find themselves in edit wars over potentially defamatory material about living persons should consider raising the matter at the BLP noticeboard
instead of relying on the exemption.
Administrators may enforce the removal of clear BLP violations with page protection or by blocking the violator(s), even if they have been editing the article themselves or are in some other way involved. In less clear cases they should request the attention of an administrator at Administrators Noticeboard/Incidents.
Avoid gossip and feedback loops
Avoid repeating gossip. Ask yourself whether the source is reliable; whether the material is being presented as true; and whether, even if true, it is relevant to a disinterested article about the subject. Be wary of sources that use
and that attribute material to anonymous sources. Also beware of circular reporting
, in which material in a Wikipedia article gets picked up by a source, which is later cited in the Wikipedia article to support the original edit.
Avoid misuse of primary sources
Exercise extreme caution in using primary sources. Do not
use trial transcripts and other court records, or other public documents, to support assertions about a living person. Do not use
public records that include personal details, such as date of birth, home value, traffic citations, vehicle registrations, and home or business addresses.
Where primary-source material has been discussed by a reliable secondary source, it may be acceptable to rely on it to augment the secondary source, subject to the restrictions of this policy, , and the other sourcing policies.
[Please note that exceptional claims require exceptional sources]
Avoid self-published sources
Never use self-published sources – including but not limited to books,
, websites, blogs, and tweets – as sources of material about a living person, unless written or published by the subject (see below
). "Self-published blogs" in this context refers to personal and group blogs. Some news organizations host online columns that they call blogs, and these may be acceptable as sources so long as the writers are professionals and the blog is subject to the newspaper's full editorial control. Posts left by readers are never acceptable as sources.
[From Verifiability#cite note-3.]
for our policy on self-published images.
Using the subject as a self-published source
Living persons may publish material about themselves, such as through press releases or personal websites. Such material may be used as a source only if:
it is not unduly self-serving;
it does not involve claims about third parties;
it does not involve claims about events not directly related to the subject;
there is no reasonable doubt as to its authenticity;
the article is not based primarily on such sources.
Further reading, External links, and See also
External links about living persons, whether in BLPs or elsewhere, are held to a higher standard than for other topics. or should not be included in the "Further reading" or "External links" sections of BLPs, and, when including such links in other articles, make sure the material linked to does not violate this policy. Self-published sources written or published by the subject of a BLP may be included in the "Further reading" or "External links" sections of that BLP with caution; see above
. In general, do not link to websites that contradict the spirit of this policy or violate the External links guideline
. Where that guideline is inconsistent with this or any other policy, the policies prevail. Similarly, "See also" links should not be used to imply any contentious categorization or claim about a living person.
Presumption in favor of privacy
When writing about a person noteworthy only for one or two events, including every detail can lead to problems, even when the material is well sourced. When in doubt, biographies should be pared back to a version that is completely sourced, neutral, and on-topic. This is of particular importance when dealing with living individuals whose notability stems largely or entirely from being victims of another's actions. Wikipedia editors must not act, intentionally or otherwise, in a way that amounts to participating in or prolonging the victimization.
In the case of
, there will be a multitude of reliable published sources, and BLPs should simply document what these sources say. If an allegation or incident is noteworthy, relevant, and well documented, it belongs in the article – even if it is negative and the subject dislikes all mention of it. If you cannot find multiple
reliable third-party sources documenting the allegation or incident, leave it out.
Example: "John Doe had a messy divorce from Jane Doe." Is this important to the article, and was it published by third-party reliable sources? If not, leave it out, or stick to the facts: "John Doe and Jane Doe were divorced."
Example: A politician is alleged to have had an affair. He or she denies it, but multiple major newspapers publish the allegations, and there is a public scandal. The allegation belongs in the biography, citing those sources. However, it should only state that the politician was alleged to have had the affair, not that he or she actually did. If the subject has denied such allegations, that should also be reported.
Privacy of personal information and using primary sources
With identity theft
a serious ongoing concern, people increasingly regard their full names and dates of birth as private. Wikipedia includes full names and dates of birth that have been widely published by reliable sources, or by sources linked to the subject such that it may reasonably be inferred that the subject does not object. If the subject complains about the inclusion of the date of birth, or the person is borderline , err on the side of caution and simply list the year. In a similar vein, articles should not include postal addresses, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, or other contact information for living persons, though links to are generally permitted. See above
regarding the misuse of primary sources to obtain personal information about subjects.
People who are relatively unknown
Many Wikipedia articles contain material on people who are not well known, even if they are enough for their own article. In such cases, exercise restraint and include only
material relevant to the person's notability, focusing on high-quality secondary sources
. Material published by the subject may be used, but with caution; see above
. Material that may adversely affect a person's reputation should be treated with special care; in many jurisdictions, repeating a defamatory claim is actionable, and there are additional protections for subjects who are not public figures.
Subjects notable only for one event
. Being in the news does not in itself mean that someone should be the subject of a Wikipedia article. We should generally avoid having an article on a person when each of three conditions is met:
If reliable sources cover the person only in the context of a single event.
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.
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.
The significance of an event or individual is indicated by how persistent the coverage is in reliable sources. It is important for editors to understand two clear differentiations of the People notable for only one event guideline (WP:BIO1E) when compared to this policy (WP:BLP1E). Firstly, WP:BLP1E should be applied only to biographies of living people. Secondly, WP:BLP1E should be applied only to biographies of low-profile individuals.
In addition, some subject specific notability guidelines such as Notability provide criteria that may support the notability of certain individuals who are known chiefly for one event.
Persons accused of crime
A person accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty
and convicted by a court of law. For relatively unknown people, editors must seriously consider not
including material in any article suggesting that the person has committed, or is accused of committing, a crime unless a conviction is secured.
[Generally, a conviction is secured through court or magisterial proceedings. Accusations, investigations, and arrests on suspicion of involvement do not amount to a conviction. applies to low-profile individuals and not to well-known individuals, in whose cases is the appropriate policy to follow.]
If different judicial proceedings result in seemingly contradictory judgements that do not override each other,
[An example of this situation is the O. J. Simpson murder case, where the former footballer O. J. Simpson was acquitted in 1995 of the crime of murdering Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, but was found liable of their wrongful death in a civil trial two years later.]
refrain from using pithy descriptors or absolutes and instead use more explanatory information.
Privacy of names
Caution should be applied when identifying individuals who are discussed primarily in terms of a single event. When the name of a private individual has not been widely disseminated or has been intentionally concealed, such as in certain court cases or occupations, it is often preferable to omit it, especially when doing so does not result in a significant loss of context. When deciding whether to include a name, its publication in secondary sources other than news media, such as scholarly journals or the work of recognized experts, should be afforded greater weight than the brief appearance of names in news stories. Consider whether the inclusion of names of living private individuals who are not directly involved in an article's topic adds significant value.
The presumption in favor of privacy is strong in the case of family members of articles' subjects and other loosely involved, otherwise low-profile persons. The names of any immediate, ex, or significant family members or any significant relationship of the subject of a BLP may be part of an article, if reliably sourced, subject to editorial discretion that such information is relevant to a reader's complete understanding of the subject. However, names of family members who are not also notable public figures must be removed from an article if they are not properly sourced.
Where BLP does and does not apply
BLP applies to all material about living persons anywhere on Wikipedia, including talk pages, edit summaries, user pages, images, categories, lists, , article titles and drafts
. Please see below for advice about how it applies to the deceased or to corporations.
Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced and not related to making content choices should be removed, deleted, or , as appropriate. When seeking advice about whether to publish something about a living person, be careful not to post so much information on the talk page that the inquiry becomes moot. The same principle applies to problematic images. Questionable claims already discussed can be removed with a reference to the previous discussion.
The BLP policy also applies to user and user talk pages. The single exception is that users may make any claim they wish about themselves in their user space, so long as they are not engaged in impersonation, and subject to what Wikipedia is not, though minors are discouraged from disclosing identifying personal information on their userpages; for more information, see here.
[See Credentials and its talk page.] Although this policy applies to posts about Wikipedians in project space, some leeway is permitted to allow the handling of administrative issues by the community, but administrators may delete such material if it rises to the level of defamation, or if it constitutes a violation of no personal attacks.
Usernames violating the BLP policy
Certain disruptive and offensive usernames (for example those containing contentious material about living persons, or those that are clearly abusive towards any race, religion or social groups) should be immediately blocked by administrators and suppressed from logs
by Oversighters to protect Wikipedia and the subjects involved from harm. Requests for removing attack usernames from logs should be reported
to the team for evaluation and private removal.
Images of living persons should not be used out of context to present a person in a false or disparaging light. This is particularly important for police booking photographs (mugshots), or situations where the subject was not expecting to be photographed. Images of living persons that have been generated by Wikipedians and others may be used only if they have been released under a copyright licence that is compatible with Image use policy
Categories, lists and navigation templates
names do not carry disclaimers or modifiers, so the case for each content category must be made clear by the article text and its reliable sources. Categories regarding religious beliefs or sexual orientation should not be used unless the subject has publicly self-identified with the belief or orientation in question, and the subject's beliefs or sexual orientation are relevant to their public life or , according to reliable published sources.
Caution should be used with content categories that suggest a person has a poor reputation (see false light). For example, Criminals and its subcategories should only be added for an incident that is relevant to the person's ; the incident was published by reliable third-party sources; the subject was convicted; and the conviction was not overturned on appeal.
These principles apply equally to lists, navigation templates, and statements (referring to living persons within any Wikipedia page) that are based on religious beliefs or sexual orientation or suggest that any living person has a poor reputation. This policy does not limit the use of administrative categories for WikiProjects, article clean-up, or other normal editor activities.
Recently dead or probably dead
Anyone born within the past 115 years is covered by this policy unless a reliable source has confirmed their death. Generally, this policy does not apply to material concerning people who are confirmed dead by reliable sources. The only exception would be for people who have recently died, in which case the policy can extend for an indeterminate period beyond the date of death—six months, one year, two years at the outside. Such extensions would apply particularly to contentious or questionable material about the dead that has implications for their living relatives and friends, such as in the case of a possible suicide or a particularly gruesome crime. In the absence of confirmation of death, anyone born more than 115 years ago is presumed dead unless listed at oldest people
Legal persons and groups
This policy does not normally apply to material about corporations, companies, or other entities regarded as
, though any such material must be written in accordance with other content policies. The extent to which the BLP policy applies to edits about groups is complex and must be judged on a case-by-case basis. A harmful statement about a small group or organization comes closer to being a BLP problem than a similar statement about a larger group; and when the group is very small, it may be impossible to draw a distinction between the group and the individuals that make up the group. When in doubt, make sure you are using .
Using BLPs to continue disputes
Wikipedia articles concerning living persons may include material—where relevant, properly weighted, and reliably sourced—about controversies or disputes in which the article subject has been involved. Wikipedia is not a forum provided for parties to off-wiki disputes to continue their hostilities. Experience has shown that misusing Wikipedia to perpetuate legal, political, social, literary, scholarly, or other disputes is harmful to the subjects of biographical articles, to other parties in the dispute, and to Wikipedia itself.
Therefore, an editor who is involved in a significant controversy or dispute with another individual – whether on- or off-wiki – or who is an avowed rival of that individual, should not edit that person's biography or other material about that person, given the . More generally, editors who have a strongly negative or positive view of the subject of an article should be especially careful to edit that article , if they choose to edit it at all.
[The Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning, Columbia University: "A conflict of interest involves the abuse – actual, apparent, or potential – of the trust that people have in professionals. The simplest working definition states: A conflict of interest is a situation in which financial or other personal considerations have the potential to compromise or bias professional judgment and objectivity. An apparent conflict of interest is one in which a reasonable person would think that the professional's judgment is likely to be compromised. A potential conflict of interest involves a situation that may develop into an actual conflict of interest. It is important to note that a conflict of interest exists whether or not decisions are affected by a personal interest; a conflict of interest implies only the potential for bias, not a likelihood. It is also important to note that a conflict of interest is not considered misconduct in research, since the definition for misconduct is currently limited to fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism."
The New York Times Company: "Conflicts of interest, real or apparent, may arise in many areas. They may involve tensions between journalists' professional obligations to our audience and their relationships with news sources, advocacy groups, advertisers, or competitors; with one another; or with the company or one of its units. And at a time when two-career families are the norm, the civic and professional activities of spouses, household members and other relatives can create conflicts or the appearance of them."
Maintenance of BLPs
Importance of maintenance
Wikipedia contains hundreds of thousands of articles about living persons
. From both a legal and ethical standpoint it is essential that a determined effort be made to eliminate defamatory and other inappropriate material from these articles, but these concerns must be balanced against other concerns, such as allowing articles to show a bias in the subject's favor by removing appropriate material simply because the subject objects to it, or allowing articles about non- publicity-seekers to be retained. When in doubt about whether material in a BLP is appropriate, the article should be pared back to a policy-compliant version. Sometimes the use of administrative tools such as and is necessary for the enforcement of this policy, and in extreme cases by Wikimedia Foundation staff is required.
Semi-protection, protection, and blocking
Administrators who suspect malicious or biased editing, or believe that inappropriate material may be added or restored, may protect or semi-protect pages in accordance with the protection policy
. See also NEWBLPBAN
. Editors are subject to Arbitration Committee/Discretionary sanctions
pursuant to NEWBLPBAN
(see also the blocking policy
alerting readers to this policy may be added to the talk pages of BLPs and other articles that focus on living persons. is suitable for articles containing material on the deceased that also contains material about living persons. If a template is present, you can add |living=yes to the template parameters. If a template is also present, add |blp=yes to it.
For articles, may be used on BLPs needing attention; on BLPs needing better sourcing (an alternative is ); and for those with no sources at all. should be placed on the talk page of BLP articles that are being discussed on the .
For editors violating this policy, the following can be used to warn them on their talk pages:
for when a block is issued
The template can be used on a talk page of an article (or a user) to explain why material has been removed under this policy, and under what conditions the material may be replaced.
Deletion of BLPs
Summary deletion, creation prevention, and courtesy blanking
Biographical material about a living individual that is not compliant with this policy should be improved and rectified; if this is not possible, then it should be removed. If the entire page is substantially of poor quality, primarily containing contentious material that is unsourced or poorly sourced, then it may be necessary to delete the entire page as an initial step, followed by discussion.
Page deletion is normally a last resort. If a dispute centers around a page's inclusion (e.g., because of questionable or where the subject has requested deletion), this is addressed via rather than by summary deletion. Summary deletion is appropriate when the page contains unsourced negative material or is written non-neutrally, and when this cannot readily be rewritten or restored to an earlier version of an acceptable standard. The deleting administrator should be prepared to explain the action to others, by e-mail if the material is sensitive. Those who object to the deletion should bear in mind that the deleting admin may be aware of issues that others are not. Disputes may be taken to , but protracted public discussion should be avoided for deletions involving sensitive personal material about living persons, particularly if it is negative. Such debates may be courtesy blanked upon conclusion. After the deletion, any administrator may choose to . Even if the page is not protected against re-creation, it should not be re-created unless a consensus is demonstrated in support of re-creation.
Deletion of BLPs of relatively unknown subjects
Where the subject of a BLP has requested deletion, the deletion policy
says: "Discussions concerning of relatively unknown, , where the subject has requested deletion and there is no rough consensus, may be closed as delete.
Poorly sourced of unknown, non-public figures, where the discussions have no editor opposing the deletion, may be deleted after discussions have been completed."
Restoring deleted content
To ensure that material about living people is written neutrally to a high standard, and based on high-quality reliable sources, the burden of proof
is on those who wish to retain, restore, or undelete the disputed material.
When material about living persons has been deleted on good-faith BLP objections, any editor wishing to add, restore, or undelete it must ensure it complies with Wikipedia's content policies. If it is to be restored without significant change, consensus must be obtained first, and wherever possible disputed deletions should be discussed first with the administrator who deleted the article. Material that has been repaired to address concerns should be judged on a case-by-case basis.
Proposed deletion of biographies of living people
All BLPs created after March 18, 2010 must have at least one source that supports at least one statement made about the person in the article, or it may be proposed for deletion. may not be removed until a reliable source is provided, and if none is forthcoming, the article may be deleted after seven days. This does not affect other deletion processes mentioned in BLP policy and elsewhere.
Relationship between the subject, the article, and Wikipedia
Dealing with edits by the subject of the article
Subjects sometimes become involved in editing material about themselves, either directly or through a representative. The Arbitration Committee
has ruled in favor of showing leniency to BLP subjects who try to fix what they see as errors or unfair material. Editors should make every effort to act with kindness toward the subjects of biographical material when the subjects arrive to express concern.
Although Wikipedia discourages people from , removal of unsourced or poorly sourced material is acceptable. When an anonymous editor blanks all or part of a BLP, this might be the subject attempting to remove problematic material. Edits like this by subjects should not be treated as vandalism; instead, the subject should be invited to explain their concerns. The Arbitration Committee established the following principle in December 2005:
Dealing with articles about yourself
Wikipedia has editorial policies that will often help to resolve your concern, as well as many users willing to help, and a wide range of escalation processes. Very obvious errors can be fixed quickly, including by yourself. But beyond that, post suggestions on the article talk page, or place on your . You may also post an explanation of your concern on the and request that uninvolved editors evaluate the article to make sure it is fairly written and properly sourced. Please bear in mind that Wikipedia is almost entirely operated by volunteers, and impolite behavior, even if entirely understandable, will often be less effective. See below
for how to contact the Wikimedia Foundation.
Subjects who have legal or other serious concerns about material they find about themselves on a Wikipedia page, whether in a BLP or elsewhere, may contact the Wikimedia Foundation's volunteer response team
(known as OTRS). Please e-mail
with a link to the article and details of the problem; for more information on how to get an error corrected, see here
. It is usually better to ask for help rather than trying to change the material yourself.
As noted above, individuals involved in a significant legal or other off-wiki dispute with the subject of a biographical article are strongly discouraged from editing that article.
How to contact the Wikimedia Foundation
If you are not satisfied with the response of editors and admins to a concern about biographical material about living persons, you can contact the Wikimedia Foundation directly. See for contact details.
Wikimedia Foundation resolution
On April 9, 2009, the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees passed a resolution regarding Wikimedia's handling of material about living persons. It noted that there are problems with some BLPs being overly promotional in tone, being vandalized, and containing errors and smears. The Foundation urges that special attention be paid to neutrality and verifiability regarding living persons; that human dignity and personal privacy be taken into account, especially in articles of ephemeral or marginal interest; that new technical mechanisms be investigated for assessing edits that affect living people; and that anyone who has a complaint about how they are described on the project's websites be treated with patience, kindness, and respect.
Note for administrators
Administrators, please see Administrator instructions
for placing biography of living persons sanctions on editors in violation of policy. These are imposed per .
- Foundation policies and resolutions
- Arbitration cases
- Policies and guidelines
- Requests for comment
Requests for comment/Biographies of living people – Phase I; Phase II, January 2010
- Discussion forums
- Related pages