Throughout the Skeptics.SE site, there are demands for claims to be 'notable'.

For example: in Close Reasons, and in several places in the FAQ.

'Notable' isn't a common word and isn't always clear.

What does 'notable' mean in relation to Skeptics.SE?


A claim is 'notable' when a significant number of people believe it is true.

Claims of the kind "I once heard" or "my friend told me" are not notable if your friend is the only one actually believing the claim.

Naturally, a notable claim will have many mentions doing a quick Google search. When Google does not seem to return examples of it, we need to demonstrate notability.

The main way of demonstrating notability is showing the claim being mentioned in the media. Examples include: books, newspapers, mainstream television, or widely-known web-sites including major blogs and Wikipedia. Claims put forward by a celebrity are also automatically considered notable. The idea here is that once a large number of people are exposed to the claim, it is of general interest to validate the claim and either confirm or refute it.

Alternatively, many references to individual people writing about the claim should be enough to demonstrate notability.

Sometimes people say stuff they don't mean to be taken as a claim; e.g. as comedy or in fiction. The claim is only notable if people believe it to be true, or at the very least, if it is clear that the author of the statement intended people to believe it as true (in the real world).


  • 2
    People writing about the claim is enough? What if all the writing about the claim is to debunk it? What if none of the writing shows that anyone believes it?
    – user5582
    Aug 30 '13 at 14:33
  • 1
    Is the fact that a user did a google search and found people writing about the claim enough? Or do they need to also show evidence of that in the question by including a quote and reference? Could they just say "quote not needed, I did a google search".
    – user5582
    Aug 30 '13 at 14:34
  • Also, we should clarify significant. Does it mean "more than a handful", as Fabian wrote?
    – user5582
    Aug 30 '13 at 14:36
  • Basically, I like this answer, but to make it more relevant to SE, it should include a part about how to demonstrate in a question that the claim being asked about is notable.
    – user5582
    Aug 30 '13 at 14:39
  • I wanted to separate the definition of notability from our rules and processes, because I think the concept is complex enough. This was partly triggered by your comments, which I think conflates the need for notability with the need for explicit quotes. This meta-question already exists.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Aug 30 '13 at 15:58
  • @Sancho: Fabian's definition was (deliberately) vague. I don't think the additional clause added much to it, so I dropped it for simplicity. I do not think precisely defining "significant" will be helpful; I'd rather let the community decide on a case-by-case basis, than try to come up with a prescriptive set of rules for border cases.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Aug 30 '13 at 16:00
  • Okay cool. What is a notable example of a claim, then? Is that the same as an example of the notable claim? Is there a separate criteria for notability of examples of the notable claim?
    – user5582
    Aug 30 '13 at 16:16
  • Copy-editing -- Perhaps reorganize to put "media" before "several people": because the former is more notable and more common. Perhaps expand "media" to include all web sites: including Wikipedia and government and big-company web sites, and any less reputable ones including any snake-oil .com web sites, but perhaps excluding personal blogs and Facebook etc. Perhaps add or "I've heard" after "my friend told me", and move that whole "Claims of the kind ..." sentence to immediately after the "The idea here" sentence.
    – ChrisW
    Aug 30 '13 at 19:43
  • @Sancho: I got lost in there. I think I prefer "example of the notable claim", but I think both are talking about the same thing - but where does this language appear?
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Aug 31 '13 at 2:20
  • @ChrisW: Thanks for the suggestions. I've incorporated most of them.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Aug 31 '13 at 2:29
  • @Oddthinking. It's from the other meta question, where you suggested some wording for the new close reason.
    – user5582
    Aug 31 '13 at 2:51
  • Maybe change "believe" in the first sentence to "have been told" or similar (because the number people who actually believe it is unmeasurable). Perhaps the 3rd sentence is ungrammatical: change "for the claim being mentioned" to "to show the claim being mentioned" or "to show that the claim is mentioned". Perhaps change "widely-known web-sites" to "public web-sites". Perhaps add ", and advertisements".
    – ChrisW
    Aug 31 '13 at 16:51
  • @oddthinking people are using the word notable to refer to sources, not the claim. They say stuff like "please add a notable source for this claim".
    – user5582
    Sep 6 '13 at 14:47
  • 1
    @Sancho: All the more reason for us to explicitly define what we intend. I don't want to take a strong stance and say that usage is wrong: Yes, a notable source (e.g. a celebrity) making the claim is sufficient. However, a large number of "nobodies" making the claim is also sufficient. So saying the source must be notable is an ever-so-slightly misleading shortcut to what the rules actually are. (It wouldn't surprise me if you found examples of me taking this shortcut, which is another reason for me not to attack it too strongly!)
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Sep 6 '13 at 15:11
  • @Oddthinking Just wondering if you want to clarify that that there are two senses of the word in use at this site. One referring to the claim (which you address here), and one referring to the source (which, as far as I can tell, we haven't set strong requirements for).
    – user5582
    Sep 6 '13 at 15:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .