Wikipedia:How ITN works (and how it doesn't)

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If you wanted the news, this is where you would go, rather than WP:ITN.

Wikipedia:In the news is one of the most visible sections of the Main Page. The purpose of ITN, as stated at the top of its page, is to direct readers to articles of suitable quality that reflect recent or current events of wide interest. On paper, this is a simple and concise purpose, one that lends itself to providing a steady stream of content for the Main Page, since current events by definition happen all the time, and Wikipedia editors are predisposed to update articles reflecting current events. This meme factor is a self-serving, organic process that, in theory, means any newsworthy story for a decently-updated article will get posted to the Main Page.

In practice, this is not the case.

Scroll a bit further down on WP:ITN and you will be led to Criteria. As it turns out, it is not sufficient that an article is in the news and is sufficiently updated. In order to comply with WP:NOTNEWS, the content being covered needs to be significant or, as some other editors prefer to state, "encyclopedic". And the definition of significance is one that is hotly contested, as is inevitable when you have editors and readers from many different backgrounds, cultures, nationalities, or ethncities. While the "updated content" section of the criteria is only 300 words long, the criteria for "significance" is over 900 words as of July 2022. And even then, significance includes a lot of noncommittal phraseology: "contentious", "no rules or guidance", "highly subjective", "case-by-case basis", and most importantly: "The consensus among those discussing the event is all that is necessary to decide if an event is significant enough for posting."

Far from having an operational bureaucracy and a concrete process, WP:ITN and its nomination vehicle, WP:ITN/C, operates primarily on highly subjective localized consensus.

The result is that over the years, mostly due to having a regular number of users who have been through the nomination process many, many times, there's an unwritten rules culture as to what items generally will or will not get posted.

What significance really is[edit]

The Watergate burglary would not have been considered newsworthy by ITN's users if it had occurred today.

The "significance" section on WP:ITN has a lengthy discourse on what constitutes a significant item worthy of ITN/C posting. But in reality, strictly from an administrative perspective, the section could be boiled down to just these two points:

  • The event can be described as "current", that is the event is appearing currently in major, national news sources, and/or the event itself occurred within the time frame of ITN.
  • There is consensus to post the event.

The first principle is easy enough to define; the event simply has to not be stale. In other words, ITN cannot report on a news item that actually occurred a month ago, even if the accompanying news article were published today or yesterday, unless the actual discovery of the event's occurrence is itself newsworthy. Those rare exceptions aside, it's easy to come to a consensus that excessively stale items, or items lacking in reliable source reporting, will not get posted to ITN.

With that first principle satisfied, the second point is the one that causes the greatest headache on ITN/C for both regulars and newcomers. ITN is a forum consisting of many different cultural backgrounds and perspectives, which means any given item could have both of the following !votes in equal measure: "Strong Support, this is very significant" and "Strong Oppose, this is not significant at all". Inevitably where such deep divides occur, discussions can turn uncivil as some Wikipedians entrenched in their positions find themselves passionately defending their viewpoints against what they believe is a collective mob. Since a lot of these items force an admin to use their own discretion to determine whether a consensus exists to post something, in reality significance is usually defined by a head count. While ITN tries to lay down criteria as to what is considered a significant item, what it really comes down to is who is participating in that discussion and in what quantity. Look back through the ITN archives and you will find, every 3 or 4 years, a sea change occurring as to what sorts of news items are considered notable.

"ITN is not a news ticker" is often used in discussions, even though ITN is not presented in a scrolling display. The implication is that news tickers present the top news of the day, but ITN should somehow be more discriminating. However, the open-ended and subjective definition of significance, combined with the diverse backgrounds of the participants, and the desire for some participants to editorialize or come up with their own standards for posting inevitably results in news stories being barred from ITN. Ironically, WP:NOTNEWS frequently gets cited as a reason to disallow certain stories on "In the news". Other times, the suggestion is that while an item may be in the news, more learned people know it should not be, and it is therefore not encyclopedic.

Dissenting viewpoints[edit]

Not all contributors to ITN/C agree with the WP:NOTATICKER philosophy. There are a number of Wikipedians who hold the philosophy that the significance standard, as it exists, is too subjective and too ephemeral to be workable. The belief is that WP:ITN should primarily focus on reasonably good-quality content that has demonstrated reliable source coverage, without an editorial measurement of significance based on personal viewpoints. Although proposals have been made to this effect, they have not yet achieved the widespread consensus required in order to execute them. The main concern held up is that this sort of standard would heavily favor news items from Western countries with a heavy focus on sports, celebrity news and political minutia.

Regardless of one's viewpoints on ITN/C significance, there tends to be widespread agreement that the system is far from perfect. Some question whether ITN should even exist due to WP:NOTNEWS.

Items favored/disfavored[edit]

The current makeup of ITN's users generally favor:

  • Major disasters (in line with death toll expectations)
  • Major sporting events, generally those listed at Wikipedia:In the news/Recurring items (ITN/R)
  • Head-of-state changes, regardless of freedom or fairness of elections
  • Geopolitical maneuvers that broadly affect populations on a multinational level
  • Major scientific discoveries that completely alter the scientific landscape on a tangible level for humanity

And they generally disfavor:

  • Business transactions except for those affecting multiple companies within the top echelons of the Fortune 500
  • Arbitrary milestones or records
    • ... particularly for individual records in sports that are not internationally played.
  • Meteorological events with little to no impact
  • Sub-professional/amateur sporting events (with one or two exceptions posted on ITN/R)
  • Subnational political events and elections
  • Penultimate items in a sequence of events (e.g. a vote being called for a snap election, rather than the snap election results)
  • "And finally..." stories with no coverage beyond local or municipal media
  • Incremental updates related to an ongoing item

Of course, bear in mind that this is absolutely regardless of whatever is published in a newspaper, news website, reliable source, etc.. It may be "in the news" but it may not be considered significant from the perspective of ITN users, giving rise to the mantra: "ITN is not a news ticker". But also keep in mind that, as always, consensus can change and what may hold to be true on these lists today may be altered in a month or so. Certainly there are always exceptions to be made, and as the makeup of ITN/C's userbase shifts, so too does the list.

International notability[edit]

This is a fairly common scenario at ITN: Joe User wakes up one day and finds a hashtag trending in the United States about a controversial bill that was just passed by the House of Representatives and approved by the Senate. All of a sudden, every news platform at his disposal is wrought with news of the story. Thinking this is clearly newsworthy, he goes to ITN/C and nominates it, thinking it's a slam dunk story. Thirty minutes later, he comes back and is appalled to find that a good many users are calling for his nomination to be SNOW closed. "But it's notable," he explains, "look at all of these news sites that are running the story." The responses come back to him, somewhat unequivocally: "Yes, but where's the international notability? Where's the global notability?"

To Joe User, this paints a muddled picture about how ITN operates. Listed in two different places - the ITN guidelines and the "Please do not..." header on the ITN/C page - are specific clauses discouraging arguments on the basis of an item solely because the event is only relating to a single country, or failing to relate to one. It may appear then that many users who contribute to ITN/C openly flout these guidelines, or occasionally will try to talk around them: "I'm not opposing because it only relates to one country, I'm opposing because it's not newsworthy here."[1] The fact of the matter is this: The significance criteria on ITN does not require international notability. The only thing that is required is a consensus. Of course, in practice, consensus is formed out of the deliberations of users on ITN. Thus, if it so happens that the majority of users participating in Joe User's nomination disfavor its posting due to the lack of global coverage, then an administrator would be well within their rights to conclude that the consensus does not favor posting. Naturally, another administrator may be equally empowered to discount those same !votes when assessing consensus, based on ITN's guidelines.

The aggravation of this is further exacerbated whenever these same spurious standards are not applied to items that are not internationally notable, such as bus plunges or national sporting events, but they are posted anyway because "it's just what we post on ITN". As a user participating in ITN/C, navigating this culture is not always straightforward, though there are a couple of suggestions:

  • It's worthwhile to seek out sources outside of the country in which the news event occurred to find coverage of your proposed item. For example, for the above scenario that would have occurred in the United States, you could try looking for coverage from BBC (U.K.), Der Spiegel (Germany), Al-Jazeera (worldwide), Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), etc.. Keep in mind that websites associated with these sources will sometimes tailor the content to align with the accessing user's region or location.
  • Skim through the archives to find comparable stories that were posted on ITN. Although this might be interpreted as WP:WAX, showing prior instances of consensus being achieved can still help to marshal those users and administrators who are not entrenched on a particular position.
  • Remind users of the guidelines that are in place on ITN which explicitly do not require international or global notability. This may not always work or could be seen as condescending, but it is always possible that the participating user may not be aware that these guidelines are in place.
  • Keep trying. Do not let one failed nomination discourage you from continuing to participate and nominate. As long as you have been putting in the effort of collecting sources, updating the article, and making a case for notability, your actions will eventually bear fruit. Consensus can, and indeed does, change, and what might be shut down on ITN one week might be embraced the next week as users come and go.

For further reading on this, see: User:InvadingInvader/Against international notability.

Who gets a death blurb?[edit]

A feature that was added to ITN about a decade after its fateful naissance on 9/11 was a section called Recent Deaths. This system was intended to stop a flood of recently announced deaths from forcing out other news items, during a time when ITN had a steady clip of news stories as a result of (what we now regard as) lax significance standards. Originally when the concept of Recent Deaths was conceived, all deaths were held to roughly the same standards of significance as seen with news items.

As time went on, the system was found to be problematic by some users on ITN/C due to the fact that it was highly difficult to gauge notability on a scale that was fair. Is a Turkish scientist who won a Nobel Prize for discovering new methods of engineering hydroponic farms as notable as a beloved Hollywood actress? The asking of this question immediately raised concerns of systemic bias, and eventually in 2016, a proposal was formed to address this issue. It was simple: All deaths eligible for the Recent Deaths ticker were considered notable, so long as those individuals had their own standalone Wikipedia articles. This meant the only requirement to post a death was that the person's article be recently updated and of good enough quality. This solved one wrinkle, but in doing so, it left behind an issue that remains highly contentious to this day.

Who gets a death blurb? In other words, what sorts of deaths are, for whatever reason, deemed significant enough to merit a news blurb separate from the Recent Deaths ticker? That depends on who you ask. Much like all of the aforementioned criteria regarding significance, namely its subjectivity, the criteria are somewhat noncommittal. There are three forks of a trident under which someone might merit a blurb separate from the Recent Deaths ticker:

  • The individual being uniquely and extraordinarily transformative in their field.
  • The death being the main story by virtue of its unusual or unexpected nature (homicide, suicide, early death, etc.)
  • The death being the main story due to global, public response such as state funerals or worldwide plaudits.

But even in all three of these forks, the section hedges by saying that one may merit a blurb or certain comparisons being rarely sufficient to post or the ticker is usually used if the life is the main story. Why is the language noncommittal? Because unlike other areas of ITN which might be considered guidelines, the ITNRD page is an information page. This means it is a community-edited page intended to supplement other pages for informational purposes and that may reflect some practices or customs. As such, this page is descriptive and not prescriptive, and in theory, it describes the current consensus.

There is only one item on that page that is actively enforced by both users and admins, and that is that all individuals with standalone articles (living organisms, specifically) are eligible for Recent Deaths. There is no firm eligibility criteria for a blurb. The standards for a blurb are based on the consensus of users reached and nothing more. This is why the discussions for blurbs apart from those figures who are immediately globally recognizable (and such unanimous consensus will always occur organically) will always be contentious, and the weight of numbers is what carries the day. Naturally, this methodology is still biased towards public figures or celebrities in Western culture simply as a result of demographics, although those can still experience widespread opposition if an effort is put forth to try and counter this form of systemic bias.

Examples of items that won't get posted[edit]

This section aims to list things that are frequently nominated for WP:ITN, either by regulars or by new editors, and which never get posted due to failing the significance criteria. As stated above, due to the high subjectivity of significance, the failure to post these otherwise newsworthy items inevitably leads to intense frustration and bewilderment from good-faith newcomers.

  • Arbitrary milestones.[2]
  • Low-level resignations or firings.[3] Specifically, "anything less than head-of-state or head-of-government getting replaced."[4]
  • Politics below the national level e.g. state, provincial[5]
  • Most mass shootings in the United States don't get posted because such shootings are most prevalent in that country.[6]
  • Bills being vetoed.[7]
  • TV stars being fired or suspended.[8]
  • Sentencing in criminal trials, even if the trial was very high profile.[9]
  • Supreme Court nominations. New justices actually joining the Court, however, will usually be posted.[10]
  • Stuff Trump tweets about.[nearly too many to list]
  • Announcements by politicians, world leaders, governments, or Elon Musk of intent to do something, no matter how major that thing is.[11]


You were likely referred to this page because someone, either ironically or purposefully, used the WP:MINIMUMDEATHS shortcut as a rationale for a !vote or to make a point. Let's be clear about one thing here: There is not a guideline for the "minimum death toll" needed for such posting.

When discussing any tragic event on WP:ITN/C, and you bring up the significance of the event based on the number of deaths involved, and the whole debate about what minimum amount of deaths implies significance, just remember: it doesn't exist.[a]

The most important thing to keep in mind with this section is that the number of deaths is never the only factor in determining if something is "significant" enough to be posted to ITN. When reviewing items that are "enough" or "not enough", you should also consider the discussions that took place. For those high death toll items which are not posted, for instance, quality and updates may also have played a role in their failure to be posted to ITN. If the article associated with the disaster never progressed beyond a stub, it is almost certain that was the defining factor in determining a consensus. Though of course, this does not foreclose the possibility that the consensus "got it wrong".

Once again, remember that there is no accepted minimum death threshold for posting. Some have considered mention of the shortcut as disruptive.[12] The below material serves as a reference point to indicate discussions where, with the death toll being a factor, items were or were not posted.

Expand to view events/death toll content.

Accidental explosions[edit]

  • Knowing death toll may not even be necessary if it's obviously a major and unusual accident. Nevertheless, 17 is a good lower bound.[13][14]

Aviation incidents[edit]

  • "...commercial airline crashes with two-digit death tolls are almost automatically notable and postable." -Brandmeister[15]
  • Per Brandmeister's quote above, airplane/helicopter crashes with 50 or more deaths have generally been posted easily.[16] In contrast, 9 deaths in such a crash is too low.[17]
  • On the other hand, even 2 is enough if it involves rare planes colliding in mid-air.[18]
  • For hot air balloon crashes, 19 deaths is enough.[19]
  • This standard does not apply for accidents involving military aircraft, which will generally not be posted even if in the double-digits range.[20]

Disease outbreaks[edit]

  • 303 is high enough.[21] In fact, even just 23 deaths should be enough.[22]
  • 7,100 is high enough to get you not only a blurb but also a banner.[23]


  • 10 is high enough.[24]


  • 18 is high enough.[25]


  • 33 is enough (in China).[26] It also helps, of course, if two hurricanes are hitting the same country at the same time, killing over 40 people in total.[27]
  • 36 is also enough in Bangladesh.[28]
  • In fact, 17 is also enough in Bangladesh (though the death toll did rise after posting).[29]


  • 7 is enough in Norway.[30] But 113 is not enough in Ethiopia.[31]

Maritime incidents[edit]

  • 19 is enough, even for military accidents.[32]

Mass shootings[edit]

  • In the United States, the threshold for posting is significantly higher than you might expect, because mass shootings are more common in America (as noted in the lead to this essay). That being said, 17 killed is enough for posting.[33] In contrast, 3,[34] 5,[35] or even 10[36] is typically insufficient. There are many, many additional examples of U.S. mass shootings with only "a few" (i.e. 2 or 3) fatalities that weren't posted, several of which may be viewed here (and elsewhere in the ITNC archives, of course).
  • It is important to note this caveat with regard to the above point: circumstances surrounding any event, including a mass shooting in the U.S., must always be taken into account along with its death toll. Thus, mass shootings in the U.S. with "low" death tolls by American standards can be posted if the motive/location/etc. of the shooting are highly unusual. For example, 12 people in a "typical", otherwise unremarkable mass shooting in the US = not posted, but 12 people in a mass shooting in the US + occurred in a US military complex = posted.[37] Also, 11 people shot in a mass shooting that was live-streamed and accompanied with a 180-page racist screed on an alt-right website will also be posted.[38]

"The U.S. has a lot of gun violence, but it's not all the same. Most mass shootings don't get Wikipedia articles. Only a few of the mass shootings that get articles are nominated at ITN/C. It's already filtered down before coming to ITN/C. Looking at List of mass shootings in the United States#2022, there were four mass shootings in June 2022 that got standalone articles. One of them was nominated at ITN/C, and it was not posted. It is not asking too much for commenters at ITN/C to keep an open mind about the mass shooting articles that are nominated."

— Muboshgu
- [17]
  • In almost all other countries, it is much more likely that a mass shooting with a given death toll will be posted than if it happened in the United States (where such shootings are far more common). Indeed, for Canada, a death toll of only 6 should be enough for posting.[39] 3 in France is also enough.[40] However, 4 in Belgium is not enough.[41] In such edge cases, the determining factor seems to be the perception and sensationalism of the event.

Motor vehicle crashes[edit]

  • 15 is enough in Canada.[42] But 49 is not enough in Kenya.[43]


Rail accidents[edit]


Structural collapses[edit]

  • 6 is not high enough[48] but 45 is high enough.[49]

Terrorist attacks[edit]

Tourist-filled submersibles near famous wrecks[edit]

  • 5 is enough. This is categorized differently from a maritime incident as no confrontation took place except that between man and nature.[62]


  1. ^ 'It' being the arbitrary death amount for significance.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Example: [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ [5]
  6. ^ [6]
  7. ^ [7]
  8. ^ [8]
  9. ^ [9]
  10. ^ [10]
  11. ^ [11]
  12. ^ Wikipedia:Redirects for discussion/Log/2018 July 9 § WP:MINIMUMDEATHS, although consensus later changed at Wikipedia:Redirects for discussion/Log/2023 June 20 § Wikipedia:MINIMUMDEATHS
  13. ^ Explosion hits port city of Tianjin
  14. ^ Explosion at Pemex HQ Note: this example shows a story about an accidental explosion that killed 32 people (later confirmed to be higher) getting posted.
  15. ^ [12]
  16. ^ Tatarstan Airlines crash
  17. ^ [13]
  18. ^ Dallas airshow mid-air collision
  19. ^ 2013 Egypt hot air balloon crash
  20. ^ [Closed_C-130_Hercules_crash_in_Mississippi]
  21. ^ [14]
  22. ^ Congo Ebola Outbreak
  23. ^ Crazy idea: dedicating a section of the Main Page to coronavirus news
  24. ^ See 2024 Hualien earthquake
  25. ^ This wasn't posted, but this was clearly because the article was poor quality, regardless of whether the event was significant
  26. ^ Typhoon Usagi
  27. ^ Hurricane/storm in Mexico
  28. ^ Cyclone Bulbul
  29. ^ Cyclone Amphan.
  30. ^ 2020 Gjerdrum landslide
  31. ^ Ethiopia landfill landslide
  32. ^ Iranian support vessel Konarak
  33. ^ Florida school shooting
  34. ^ 2013 Southern California shootings
  35. ^ Fort Lauderdale airport shooting
  36. ^ Santa Fe school shooting
  37. ^ Washington Navy Yard shooting
  38. ^ Buffalo shooting
  39. ^ Quebec City mosque shooting
  40. ^ Strasbourg Christmas Market shooting
  41. ^ Liege shooting
  42. ^ Carberry highway collision
  43. ^ 2023 Kenya accident
  44. ^ Violent protests in Bangladesh
  45. ^ Great Belt Bridge rail accident
  46. ^ Allahabad Stampede
  47. ^ Neutro Shorty Concert Stampede
  48. ^ [15]
  49. ^ Latvian grocery store roof collapse
  50. ^ [16]
  51. ^ Kabul bombing
  52. ^ Pakistan bombing
  53. ^ 2015 Baghdad truck market bombing
  54. ^ Gujba college massacre
  55. ^ Abuja twin bombings
  56. ^ Nice attack
  57. ^ Westgate centre shooting
  58. ^ 2015 Ratchaprasong bombing
  59. ^ 2016 Medina suicide bombing
  60. ^ 2016 Munich shootings
  61. ^ Suspicious packages intercepted
  62. ^ Titanic submersible incident