Wiktionary:Votes/pl-2007-12/Attestation criteria

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Attestation criteria[edit]

  • Voting on: Refinement as follows to the criteria for inclusion as they pertain to attestation and time span:


“Attested” means a term is verified through independent instances in durably archived media. A sense with clearly widespread use may be deemed verifiable without citation. Otherwise quotations are required for verification. To be counted, a quotation must use the term to convey meaning (apart from the last item below). Quotations are awarded point values based on the source:

  • A well-known, influential, classical work. (20 points)
  • A work more than 120 years old. (5 points each)
  • An edited work published in print. (4 points each)
  • A work more than 40 years old. (4 points each)
  • A work more than 10 years old. (3 points each)
  • Any durably archived work not counted above. (3 points for first, 2 points each for any others)
  • An article in a refereed academic journal. (3 points for first, 2 points each for any others) This need only mention the term, or use it in a constructed example. However, not every citation may be of this type; at least one citation must be of use.

The total must be 10 points or more. For example, it is sufficient to have one citation in a Shakespearean work, or two independent citations in pre-industrial works. A single use in an antique work and two independent mentions in refereed academic journals would also tally points. If a new article printed in a refereed academic journal uses a term to convey meaning, then this may count for 4 points as an edited work.

The citations for each meaning should span a period of at least three years. The somewhat arbitrary three-year threshold is meant to filter out neologisms that may appear and see brief use, but then are never used again. The time-span may be shorter by one year for every additional 3 points over the required minimum. Thus three edited, printed works barely spanning two years are insufficient without another independent citation. At most, a neologism that is a month old, for instance, would require 19 points, such as five newspaper articles that use the term independently.

Attestation in other languages

Foreign language terms already approved on a mature Wiktionary of that language may bypass attestation on English Wiktionary. Otherwise the above rules of attestation apply. A mature Wiktionary is one that has objective criteria for inclusion and, where questions arise, an established process for deliberating the legitimacy of terms, or in other words, a policy allowing the question of judgement to be brought to the full community.

For terms of a language where the Wiktionary is not mature or does not exist, the minimum point total is 6 and the time-span requirement of 3 years is reduced by one year for every additional point. Terms in extinct languages require only a single citation of use, though reconstructed terms are inherently unattestable and belong in an appendix.

Translingual terms must be verifiable or approved in each of at least three languages that are not closely related, or dictated by a recognized body of international standards.

  • Vote ends: 1 March 2008 24:00 UTC
  • Vote starts: 31 January 2008 0:00 UTC





  • I find it odd that my mom's (unpublished) diary, from forty-five years ago, counts as four points, whereas an online-only, refereed, edited academic journal counts as only three.—msh210 22:27, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
    Presumably your mom's diary wouldn't be considered "durably archived"? Do we need to make that clear in every case?
    At the same time, maybe we could fine-tune "an edited work published in print" to include such things as digitized journals, and to exclude vanity press. How can we define those sources that are certain to still exist in 40 years' time? DAVilla 02:11, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
    It's counterintuitive, but does kind of make sense: even if a word is found somewhere in every single unpublished diary from forty-five years ago, it's going to be a pain in the neck to verify it if it had a fairly short life; whereas if a word is found just a few times in modern online-only refereed academic journals, we can easily find all of those uses and count them, so we can be pickier. —RuakhTALK 02:35, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
  • This is a bewildering scheme. The existing setup isn't easy, but this seems - almost like overkill. I'd rather see these numbers reported on individual RFV's for a couple months (without a vote) to give people a better sense of what they might imply. It also would allow for initial "fine-tuning" before being voted on. (I'm thinking something along the lines of a one-line summary right after each section heading, updated as additional cites are found.) --Connel MacKenzie 04:48, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
    That's a really good idea. I'm going to pull this for now. DAVilla 16:07, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
  • Is Wiktionary's purpose to be descriptive or prescriptive? If it is to be descriptive, then perhaps listings should be rated by frequency of usage, rather than a binary (include vs. exclude) basis. Do the active Wiktionarians see their role as arbiters? I think this is inconsistent with the Wiki idea itself. (I don't advocate a free-for-all, but splitting hairs and assigning arbitrary point values to different classes of citations and listing point thresholds goes too far in the other direction IMO.) — HowardBGolden 19:20, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
    Descriptive. You may wish to raise your questions/points in our beer parlour, where we typically discuss such general issues. —RuakhTALK 14:07, 11 July 2008 (UTC)
    Uh! Why go back to the Beer Parlour to discuss what this page is specifically created to discuss ???? --Richardb 10:37, 30 November 2009 (UTC)
  • What is "durably archived". Please explain ?--Richardb 10:37, 30 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Surely one measure of whether a word or term should be included in Wiktionary is, how likely is someone to come across it, and perhaps, not understanding it straight away, want to look up it's meaning. Now I'd argue that a word that is in 20 blogs this year is far more likely to be read than a word in some totally obscure ancient published mongolian pamphlet, and so far more worthy of inclusion. But then, I'd have no objection to the ancient obscure word either. We are not short of space! If a word has a meaning, and is not purely a vanity word - created just to get in Wiktionary (or any dictionary) - let's include it. What is the purpose and value of keeping real, used words out of the dictionary ?? No one has yet ever really explained the supposed value of exclusion.--Richardb 10:37, 30 November 2009 (UTC)


Never begun, archiving. - TheDaveRoss 18:37, 13 October 2017 (UTC)