User:GK/On adding trivia to the main body of an article

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On adding trivia to the main body of an article such as Charles Darwin[edit]

Except for a very small number of articles, the addition of some inconsequential and unessential bit of coincidence should not be into the main body of the article. For a couple of examples of where it might be appropriate, look at the Birthday paradox article, or the mention near the bottom of the Mark Twain article about his association with [[Comet Halley}Halley's Comet]]. Mark Twain not only knew about the coincidence, but had commented on it (and proved prophetic as well).

For most other articles, the elevation of a minor trifle to a place of importance in the main body of the article (especially near the beginning) is a distraction that only helps to devalue and trivialize the importance of the rest of the information in the article. In that sense, the inclusion of a simple bit of coincidence then does real harm to the article. Keep in mind that the Wikipedia is an encyclopedia (and not a miscellanea).

If the coincidence is mentioned at all, there is an appropriate place for it in a Trivia section at the bottom of the article. There is certainly enough precedence for doing it that way in the Wikipedia (just do a Google site-search on trivia and The Simpsons TV show, for example).

I can certainly see how the coincidence between the birthdays of Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln might seem important to mention, because it is an attempt to put Charles Darwin in some sort of context, but there is a much better way to do that. For major individuals, such as Charles Darwin, it is probably a good idea to add a small section explaining things in a broader context than just the details of that person's life. For Darwin, the section would include information about which British monarchs were ruling while he was alive, and what other major scientific discoveries (such as in physics and chemistry) were being made around the same time that he was writing "Origin of the Species". If America is brought into the discussion, it should be to include any scientific breakthroughs that were being done in the New World. gK ¿? 22:00, 31 Dec 2004 (UTC)