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Yet again we see evidence one of Wikipedia's great weaknesses: articles on particular topics are edited predominantly by people with a favourable view of those topics, so the article on Ali Smith is watched over by Ali Smith fans who don't like to read anything unflattering about her. The whole encyclopaedia ends up being written from a sympathetic point of view, perhaps with a weasel-worded "criticism" section in some articles, but rarely the kind of integration of different points of view, attributed to their proponents, that the NPOV policy supposedly encourages. Last November I came across something about how one of Ali Smith's books had been padded out by the publisher because it was embarrassingly short for the cover price they wanted to charge. I added the following to the article:
The First Person and Other Stories (2008), criticised in the press for being padded out with white space by the publisher to inflate its apparent length. [footnoted to...]
'Bookworm' (31 October 2008). "Books & Bookmen". Private Eye 1222. Retrieved 18 November 2008. "By a Herculean effort of design—using a very large typeface, printing the title of each story on a separate page and cultivating as much white space as possible in the pages that surround it—Hamish Hamilton have somehow managed to extend Ali Smith’s The First Person to 207 pages. Given that at least 30 of them are text-free, that works out at 10p a page."Unknown parameter |curly= ignored (help)
This was promptly removed in a drive-by edit by an anon whose only other edits were to the same article, mainly to add flattering but not particularly interesting stuff like prizes, all unreferenced of course. You have to wonder if Ali Smith or someone close to her has been keeping an eye on this page, something which we all know is commonplace on Wikipedia. The anon left no edit summary and added no cited information to the article, instead removing the only referenced fact on the page. A similar thing happened a few days ago when another anon removed it, again with no edit summary and with no addition of sourced information to the article. This article is full of lists of prizes won (there are so many prizes around that any author who's made an impact can pick up a string of them), personal facts like how long she's been with her partner, all unsourced; but surprise surprise, most people who edit this article are not interested in improving the referencing of that kind of material. I come along and add good factual information with a source and it's promptly removed. Plenty of people criticise Ali Smith. For a very POV attempt at introducing criticism, see the contributions of this anon, which were rightly reverted but with no subsequent attempt by editors more familiar with policy to find critical reviews or anything else that would show Smith in less than a glowing light. I've now had my sourced information removed by Nick-D, on the grounds that it's "not needed, and relies on a single review". What amazes me is that everything else in the article relies on no sources at all. Criticism is very much needed given the state of the article at the moment. I hope footnotes can be given for everything I've tagged as needing a source before Wikipedia's Ali Smith fans remove my well-sourced and necessary addition once more. If not, we will see just where editors' priorities lie. This is exactly why serious academics are reluctant to get involved in editing Wikipedia. For every decent editor trying to write a balanced, well-sourced article on a topic, there are several more with no such commitment to encyclopaedic standards trying to bend articles to reflect their love of the topic at hand. Rovaniemi-5 (talk) 18:56, 27 February 2009 (UTC)
I don't see how it's helpful to accuse other editors of bad faith or make sweeping generalisations about people whom you don't know. I like Ali Smith's books, but I borrow them from the library rather than buy them because they're very expensive for their length. The statement you are insisting on is a violation of NPOV as it only provides a single view on the book (which was generally well-received by reviewers), and is incorrect as it states that the book's length was "criticised in the press" when only a single review is cited, and other reviews made no mention of this as being a problem (eg, from a quick Google search The Telegraph and Guardian published positive reviews, with the Guardian review even implying the the book might be too long!) I definetly agree that the article needs to be cited and should present a well-rounded view of critical reaction to Smith's books, but including a statement which presents only a single, and probably unrepresentative, view of the book sourced from a satirical magazine isn't the way to do it. Nick-D (talk) 23:13, 27 February 2009 (UTC)
I just cited the entire article without any difficulty at all. Nick-D (talk) 00:14, 28 February 2009 (UTC)