Talk:Fisking

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Is this concept named after Fisk because his article did it, or becayse his article was itself Fisked by another? This is currently unclear in this article

This article needs 'Fisking'. It makes little sense and offers less enlightenment.

John Ball 16/07/04.

That's what I tried to make clear in my edit yesterday, which was reverted. Fisk's story about taking a beating was debunked point-by-point by Andrew Sullivan, and that's where the term originated. But that had become very unclear as the article was edited. It didn't even become apparent until halfway through the second paragraph.

I also added the phrase about the Taliban to clarify that the war in question was the one in caused by the Taliban's protection of Osama bin Laden after 9/11. Not everyone may catch the fact that the 2001 article predates the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and "which war" affects the context. Brendano 20:40, 14 October 2005 (UTC)

Fisk’s story was a just a personal account of being attacked, beaten up and escaping, with some opinions from his viewpoint. Whatever we might think of his opinions, there aren’t a lot of facts in it to be, as you put it, discredited as being non-factual. We could mention that even to this day there are leftover proponents on one side who claim that Sullivan’s answer was a factual rebuttal, on the other that it was a personal attack.
While that minor debate between two reporters was the origin of the term “Fisking”, this article is about a debating technique that we assume actually exists in the present apart from that one instance. If it doesn’t exist then we don’t need an article on it. Neither Fisk’s story nor Sullivan’s reply were any prize-winning pieces of work. Both authors, looking back, might take it as a lesson that it is better to sober up before publishing. I think we should get past saying what little needs to be said about them and onto the subject of the article. Meggar 03:56, 15 October 2005 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but that's absurd. Anyone can read the Sullivan piece for themselves and see that it is an explicit personal attack. There is no room for debate here. Viriditas (talk) 01:15, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

Rightwing POV Balderdash[edit]

The obvious purpose of this article is to promo a couple of right-wing blogs. No one uses this term and all it does it put down Robert Fisk with some kind have silly ad hominem. The article should be VfDed. Wikipedia is not a soap box.Calicocat 22:02, 14 July 2005 (UTC)

I disagree with the statement "no one uses this term". The 2003 revision of the Jargon File, linked in the main article, has an entry for this term. Additionally, I came to this entry after seeing it in use in a news article. --TouchGnome 02:57, 14 August 2005 (UTC)
That's an interesting link, and it provides a definition as it uses the term:
As anyone who's watched the quality of online discussions deteriorate over the past ten years, "problem-solving deficit disorder" isn't entirely confined to schoolchildren. Many of today's debaters prefer "Fisking" - line-by-line rebuttals where facts are dropped like radar chaff - to rational debate or building a coherent argument. Meggar 04:34, 2005 August 14 (UTC)
I'm a fan of Fisk's and perhaps a few degrees to the left of him, and I would say that it's absurdly uninformed to say that "no one uses this term"; the term has entered the lexicon and is widely used by those on the left and the right and apolitically as well; while it was coined as an ad hominem, it has evolved beyond that. Let's not remove valuable encyclopedic content that describes a term just because we dislike how it originated (though I for one think it wasn't exactly Fisk's finest work and Sullivan had a good point somewhere in amongst his left-bashing). 68.6.40.203 07:55, 17 August 2005 (UTC)
Callicocat - it says in the article you don't use the internet, it's a hate machine, etc.. Should we change that too? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2.27.144.35 (talk) 23:20, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

Not "Balderdash"

The verb "to fisk" is used regularly and people who read political blogs regualarly know full well what it means. The section above ("Balderdash") is a reactionary attempt to suppress this information from the public since it reflects badly on people who sympathize with Robert Fisk (i.e., extreme anti-Americans). It is not information that belongs in an encyclopedia. That section should be deleted, and once it has been deleted then delete this one too. (unsigned comment by anon IP, 1 December 2005)

This is a Wikipedia:talk page about a Wikipedia article - nothing on a talk page gets deleted without good reason. The article itself has remained for some months since the conversation you replied to and is likely to remain in future. (NB if you think people who sympathise with Fisk are automatically "extreme anti-Americans" you really should read the man's own writing, and not just what bloggers say about him.) Rd232 talk 17:53, 1 December 2005 (UTC)

What does this mean?[edit]

Fisking can be thought of as a side effect of the way weblogs behave as social software.

This sentence needs elaboration. I'd do it, but I don't understand what it's trying to say.


- Does my elaboration help? Brendano 01:16, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)
 -- Yes, very much; thanks.

A clarification[edit]

I've always been under the impression that "to Fisk" meant to deliver a well-deserved beating- Fisk was beaten and claimed he deserved it (well, not exactly, but somewhere along there). When one "fisks" an article, they are beating someone who deserves it (metaphorically). I may be mistaken, however.

kaisersean

- No, I think you got it.  There's a substantial bit of irony embedded in the term. Brendano 01:17, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)

That's always the usage as I've understood it. (Though the recipient of such affection may disagree). However, I'm very confused, for I'm quite certain this technique was already well established on the Internet well prior to 2000, had no particular association with politics or viewpoint and even more confusing to me... I'm almost certain it was called "Fisking" then. Perhaps it was not the first fisking of Fisk, just the first on the web that was noticed - or perhaps I'm conflating.

I did rather a lot of it, as I recall, and that was well prior to 2000.

I can't find anything, and I'm not enough an expert on Internet history to know where to look, but it's definitely a question to put to an Internet historian/archivist who could run a search.

Oh, and by the way, a brief overview of the citations that come up on google dismiss the idea that it's a technique of the Right.

Graphictruth (talk) 19:30, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

I'm almost certain it was called "Fisking" then. -- Odd, since that belief is entirely without evidentiary support and is, in fact, mistaken. -- 68.111.35.169 (talk) 06:37, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Still unclear[edit]

Still unclear to me: is it referred to Fisk's original article or to Sullivan reply? And it identifies an out of context picking on someone else thoughts or just generically a vehement attack?

--Balubino 09:10, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Well, Bork was Borked, so Fisk was Fisked. Naming a mistake or nasty tactic after someone is usually put as "pulling a Homer." Or whomever. And the out of context thing, too. Usually seems to happen when someone knows they firmly disagree and won't be convinced otherwise, yet want to argue anyway.

1999 Eoghan Harris usage[edit]

I reverted the addition of Eoghan Harris' usage of "fisking", as it bears no relation to the present meaning, does not seem to have any connection with it at all, and was not picked up by anyone else. Incidentally, the first usage in the "modern" sense that appears in LexisNexis is June 8, 2002, National Post (Canada), appearing in inverted commas. Rd232 talk 16:12, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

Well, you're right that it is somewhat unrelated to the present meaning. I don't know what you mean by "anyone else," I just googled Fisking and origin for a while until I found that link. I'd like to reinstate it as a section for historical reasons and we can insert the fact that it is unrelated to the current usage. I hope that will address both of our concerns (mine that the original usage be noted for historical accuracy, and yours that we make it clear what the current usage is). Regards, Kaisershatner 17:14, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
I mean no-one else has used "fisking" in Harris' sense; Harris' usage isn't notable and I wouldn't have it at all. I hope the footnote is enough. Rd232 talk 17:52, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
I think the footnote is a reasonable compromise. I agree that the Harris usage shouldn't be overstated. Thanks for working with me on this. Kaisershatner 21:45, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

Definition Drift[edit]

I have made no reversions, and probably will not do so. But I think it is being forgotten that this is not an article about Robert Fisk per se. It is an article about a bit of right-wing political invective, based upon a well-known episode in the career of Robert Fisk. Given those constraints, of course the article is not going to have a neutral POV. I therefore suggest that fans of Mr. Fisk post their accolades and defenses of him in his biographical article. 4.154.73.48 01:32, 23 January 2006 (UTC)The Sanity Inspector

No, it's an article about a term. And the origin of the term is a characterization by the conservative blogosphere of an article by Andrew Sullivan that, while it was critical of "extreme leftists", really was not "a bit of right-wing political invective", it was more substantive than that ... and I'm a leftist. "those constraints, of course the article is not going to have a neutral POV" -- that's nonsense, based on a misunderstanding of what NPOV is. -- 68.111.35.169 (talk) 06:43, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Fisk's & Sullivan's Actual Arguments[edit]

Put back some of what I added before, since there was no explanation for revert. Leaving out the premise of Fisk's claim leaves the impression that Fisk said simply that he was beaten up by people and had sympathy for them. That is not so. He said he was beaten up, and had sympathy because of all the westerner activities in the region.

Also, I took a look at Sullivan's posting again and his exact conclusions regarding Fisk were that his piece was "a classic piece of leftist pathology," "Fisk is himself a proud racist," and regarding "brutality (that) was entirely the product of others" Sullivan said, "We’re not talking about extenuating circumstances – things that might help us understand or contextualize the hatred of one people for another. We’re talking about a priori moral absolution".

So I revised some article content to reflect Sullivan's arguments.

(Antelope In Search Of Truth 16:55, 28 April 2006 (UTC))


Maybe Robert Fisk was forgiving his attackers publicly. Not everyone can forgive in this way, but this is what Jesus said will lead to the Kingdom of Heaven. I don't know if Mr Fisk is Christian, this doesn't matter as what he did was an act of forgiveness, a good thing that should be encouraged. ~~DB 81.132.1.136 13:02, July 20, 2006

Fisk's & Sullivan's Actual Arguments, take 2[edit]

Once again..... have put back some of what I added before. I agree, there was a lot of scope drift but the edits kind of rolled over what actually happened in the event that led to the term, "Fisking".

Namely that Fisk not only claimed sympathy, but gave a reason for that sympathy. It only took 2 lines to properly depict Fisk's stance, which Sullivan then reacted to, with three specific arguments.

The previous content did not represent what Sullivan's arguments actually were or what Fisk's stance was; it sumarized in a way that left some things out. In fact, the block quote chosen before focused on only one of the three arguments, which misrepresented Sullivan's response. Furthermore, it the block quote was big enought that adding summaries that address the other two points he makes would have bloated things a bit.

We can summarize without bloating the article needlessly or going on a tangent.....  ;)

(Antelope In Search Of Truth 05:41, 6 May 2006 (UTC))

Sorry Antelope, but you're still attempting to argue Fisk's case, and you've actually removed Sullivan's quote in order to do so. Show, not tell. Armon 10:28, 6 May 2006 (UTC)
I am amazed that presenting Fisk's argument, summarizing it, not presenting an inaccurate/incomplete version of it, can be interpretted as arguing his case. There was no language present that endorsed his case one way or another. My edits depict both Fisk's claim AND the grounds for that claim. Depicting only Fisk's claim that he has sympathy is incomplete depiction of his argument; his sympathy had a reason and he gave it. In the very same piece. Showing the whole argument is not arguing his case, Fisk does that for himself. Our job here is to show his whole argument, because that IS what Sullivan is responding to.
As for removing Sullivan's quote, I did so because it focused on merely ONE of Sullivan's three response/argument. In lieu of a quote that supported ONE of Sullivan's responses, I was *showing* the whole argument.
As this problem has not been addressed, I put some of that content back.....
(Antelope In Search Of Truth 19:59, 26 May 2006 (UTC))
None of this is relevant to the article. -- 68.111.35.169 (talk) 06:45, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Description of Fisking[edit]

The term Fisking is a term invented by sections of the blogoshpere opposed to the pro-Arab reporting of Robert Fisk. It describes the process of shredding a written argument line-by-line, parsing the meaning and providing counterpoints and is so called following application of the proceedure to Robert Fisk's articles. Who coined the term is unclear but some believe it was Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit. [1]

'Nuff said, all this about Sullivan is not relevant to the meaning or background. I am not plugging Instapundit either and if that's an inappropriate line it could be removed. I have posted this here because these articles seem to get edited regularly in a partisan manner. I myself posted a clarification recently, concerning why Fisk is thus lampooned, and it was sanitised in the morning. -- Jez

This Article is Self-Contradictory and Politically Biassed[edit]

The opening lines of this article characterise "fisking" as, among other things, a logical, ruthlessly factual point-by-point criticism that involves the highlighting of errors, etc.

However, the original example of "fisking" is then cited, and we discover that this original contains none of the above features: it is neither logical nor factual, and does not highlight errors. Instead, the original is a piece of politically motivated abuse.

This definition of fisking needs to be modified: fisking is a right-wing jargon-term that describes a vicious piece of criticism against a political opponent, in which the community that looks with favor on the attack has congratulated itself that the attack was based on a ruthlessly logical, point-by-point argument (etc: see the existing supposed characteristics), but where in fact none of these features are present, and the attack is just a common polemic.

As it stands, this article is a complete betrayal of the neutral standards of the Wikipedia, and should be removed. -- LimitingFactor


I'm inclined to agree that the article has problems. Quoting ESR as an authoritative source on something is dicey... his glowing opinion of "fisking" is a reflection of his low opinion of Robert Fisk. I note that there are other people who have a completly different take on the meaning of "Fisking" because they have a different opinion of Robert Fisk:
Wholly undeservedly, Robert Fisk has become something of a joke online, after socalled "warbloggers" back in 2001 picked on a single incident in his long reporter career to ridicule him as an out of touch wet, even racist liberal. And this by people whose closest contact with the Middle East had been their local kebab shop. From there we got the nasty term fisking, which refers to any sort of unfair argument in which an article is not criticised on the merits of the whole, but rather is taken apart and attacked line by line, usually by putdown rather than logical argument. -- | Review of "Pity the Nation"
An actually neutral write up of the term "fisking" would need to reflect both points of view, without endorsing either. -- Doom 10:44, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
The opening lines of this article characterise "fisking" as, among other things, a logical, ruthlessly factual point-by-point criticism that involves the highlighting of errors, etc. -- That's what the term means. this original contains none of the above features -- That isn't actually relevant. You might compare this to "You can't should fire in a crowded theater, which was originally given as an example of the limits on First Amendment rights of free speech ... offered by Justice Holmes against defendants encouraging people not to enlist in WWI. The invalidity of the phrase in its original context doesn't change the validity of its common meaning. -- 68.111.35.169 (talk) 06:52, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Fisk's & Sullivan's Actual Arguments, take 3[edit]

Once again, I find myself restoring accurate depiction of Fisk's/Sullivan's arguments. I reversed edits to that whole section, which was focused on ONE part of Sullivan's THREE part response, is stripping away the relevance of the event that led to the defition of the word, "fisking". Just because it had a quote that takes up a whole paragraph, doesn't make it an accurate SUMMARY of all three of Sullivan's points.

The whole point is that Fisking became a word after Sullivan performed a point-by-point response to something Fisk had wrote. So reducing it to two paragraphs that depict only ONE of Sullivan's responses, is inaccurate.

So is leaving out the PREMISE of Fisk's argument, the very argument that Sullivan was responding to. Very sloppy. He didn't just say he had sympathy for the refugees, he explained why. Stripping the premise away and leaving just the conclusion, leaves the inaccurate impression that Fisk just said he didn't mind being beaten up and didn't blame anyone.

So I have yet again restored this content, which shows both Sullivan's AND Fisk's arguments in their entirety.

--Antelope In Search Of Truth 02:32, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Also, I think you have shown poor etiquette, Armon......
I demonstrated that the section as it was before, was inaccurate and incomplete. Rather than address the problems I sought to fix, you go away for a few weeks and just go back to revert everything to the inaccurate/incomplete version.
--Antelope In Search Of Truth 02:40, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm sorry you feel that way, but I disagree that a blow-by-blow of the "ur-fisk" is necessary in the first place. It's short and it's linked for anyone who wants to read it. The suggestion that Sullivan didn't address the "Westerner activity" premise is wrong. Sullivan clearly argued that that premise was completely flawed -flawed in the same way as rationalizing away the moral culpability of the killers of Balbir Singh Sodhi would be. As it's written, it's still reads like an attempt to either argue Fisk's case, or undermine Sullivan's.
Sullivan presented three arguments in response to Fisk's piece. Firstly, that Fisk's piece was, "a classic piece of leftist pathology" because "he refuses to see them as morally culpable or even responsible." -the "pathology" was "self-hatred" even when people were trying to kill him.
Secondly, disregarding the notion put forth by Fisk that Westerner activity in the region is a potential factor behind refugee anger... -a clear case of poisoning the well.
Lastly, he dismissed the idea that the effects of Westerner activity in the region constituted "extenuating circumstances"... -again, poisoning the well.
Sullivan also made more than these arguments, for example, the similarities between far-left and far-right racist "victimhood". This why I'm reverting it. In any case, the "Origins" section has bigger problems -see below, I'd like your comments. Armon 13:43, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

I guess your summary of Sullivan's argument serves well enough (and I see your points regarding "poisoning the well, etc.) but the current version still strips away Fisk's premise for the conclusion of his piece. There's no reason to omit that, as it distorts the way Fisk's piece is presented. I think that part still belongs.....

[Note: though it's not necessary while summarizing Sullivan's response piece to address this, I don't think he address Fisk's point that well. At least in the 3 or 4 paragraphs section I read (which I thought was the bulk of his response to Fisk?), he doesn't appear to directly explain why he doesn't consider b-52's bombing the area and civil war to be extenuating circumstances. For the record, I think they are both wrong in some ways. Fisk is going too far to say that they are not culpable, while Sullivan appears to be respond by ignoring any culpability on the part of Westerners...... ]

--Antelope In Search Of Truth 21:56, 24 August 2006 (UTC)


Summary of Fisk & Sullivan's arguments[edit]

Fisk's argument:

  • His conclusion 
    He "understood" refugee anger toward Westerners, and "could not blame" for what they did to him.

This conclusion does not exist in a void, however, within the SAME piece, Fisk provides a reason, otherwise known as a premise, for this conclusion.

  • His premise 
    Westerner activity in the region (arming them during the Russian conflict in the 80's, then withdrawing support as civil war broke out after the Russian conflict, subsequent bombing of the region, etc.) led anger toward Westerners.

Stripping this premise away when we present his conclusion, makes it look like he didn't provide a reason for his conclusion, which is simply NOT true.


Sullivan's argument posted in response to Fisk's argument:

  • 1st conclusion 
    Fisk's piece was, "a classic piece of leftist pathology"
    Premise in support of 1st conclusion 
    "He (Fisk) refuses to see them as morally culpable or even responsible.


  • 2nd conclusion 
    Fisk is racist.
    Premise in support of 2nd conclusion 
    He "believes" that "the color of a person’s skin condemns him automatically and justifies violence against him".


  • 3rd conclusion 
    When Fisk says, "There were all the Afghan men and boys who had attacked me who should never have done so but whose brutality was entirely the product of others," it amounts to an a priori moral absolution.
    Premise in support of 3rd conclusion 
    Fisk supposedly does not establish "extenuating circumstances - things that might help us understand or contextualize the hatred of one people for another."


  • Overall conclusion ("supported" by conclusions #1-#3) 
    The left-wing intelligentsia "won’t recognize reality, or abandon their racism, or moderate their spectacular condescension to the inhabitants of the developing world – even when reality, literally, crushingly, punches them in the face".


These are the basic elements of the arguments posed by Sullivan and Fisk, that led to the word, "Fisking". Failing to depict all the conclusions with their premises, makes that depiction biased and/or incomplete and inaccurate.

--Antelope In Search Of Truth 03:11, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

None of this is remotely relevant to the article, which is simply about the term, its origin, and its current meaning. -- 68.111.35.169 (talk) 06:55, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Origins Section[edit]

OK, I noticed a BIG problem with the origins section. Sullivan's "fisk" of the Fisk article seems to be generally considered to be seminal, it doesn't actually use the term "fisk". We should have something about the first use. I've found a guy to seems to have researched it for us here. What do you think? Armon 13:57, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Can we find his sources? I am at work and can't research it right now.....  ;)
We really should find who it was that actually "coined" the term...... I agree with Armon.
--Antelope In Search Of Truth 21:58, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Any objections to pretty much reporting his findings? The thing is, it is a blog. Armon 14:34, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

I think that *if* we were to report the findings of that blog, we'd have to use (and maintain) language that does not state the findings as utter fact, since the blog would be considered a "self-published non-reliable source". Using words like, "apparently" and so forth, rather than words that take for granted the absolute truth of the findings.

Mostly though, I think that if we are to take Wikipedian policy strictly, we cannot use this as a source. We should probably find something else that examines this..... and would be considered reliable. Surely there must be something?!?! I hope that is not an unrealistic hope. ^_^;;;

I think at the very least, the article should be changed to reflect that this term was not coined by Sullivan but by others who commented on Sullivan's article about Fisk's article. I think for the most part it already does this but I haven't read the article top to bottom in a while with all the changes it's been through in the last few weeks.....

--Antelope In Search Of Truth 19:47, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

I take your point re: using words like "apparently" and the reliable source issue. I'm not advocating that we report the blogger's findings as fact, but I think this is an interesting case. If the term originates online, therefore the evidence for it first use should be as well. If we check the guy's evidence in order to establish first use, is that OR? Armon 01:13, 11 September 2006 (UTC)
The tricky thing is that, per Wiki policy, though the evidence may be online, it still needs a verifiable/reliable source that observes or makes note of that information.
Otherwise it is original research. If the blog we're looking at as a source is not "reliable" enough, I think we still need to find another source that is, something that is *not* one of us compiling the information or one of us just double-checking a non-reliable source. (Either of which would be OR.)
I think it stinks, though.
--Antelope In Search Of Truth 04:49, 12 September 2006 (UTC)
I think we should just include the first use research by "David M" on his blog. We'll clearly attribute it to him. OK it's a blog, but "fisking" is a blogosphere term. Also he seems to have garnered comment by notable blogs and old-media -see the "Quotations out of context about David M" on the sidebar of his site. As it stands now, our article is incorrect. Armon 23:04, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

Hmmm ... a couple of folks who are clueless about Wikipedia policy. -- 68.111.35.169 (talk) 06:57, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Right-wing term?[edit]

"(use of the term is common, not restricted to right-wing)" - Raymond Arritt

The article cites only right-wing usage, if it is commonly used outside right-wing blogs cite sources for this. Wnjr 19:27, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

"Fisking" originated in the right-wing blogosphere but has since crossed over into general usage. It is no longer considered a right-wing term, and indeed is no longer restricted to the blogosphere. Notice the Jargon Files definition in the next sentence makes no mention of right-wing, though the criticism of Fisk himself could be interpreted as a right-wing perspective (incorrectly so, in my opinion). A quick Google search turns up many, many examples showing that the term now has broad usage across the political spectrum. It would be more accurate to state that "fisking" originated in the right-wing blogosphere but has since attained wide use. Raymond Arritt 19:54, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
(1) But the Jargon File is maintained by a right-wing blogger!
(2) A 'quick google search' is original research, you need to actually come up with a verifiable source to make the assertion that 'fisking' has attained wide use - the article cites its right-wing origins but provides absolutely no evidence of broad usage. Wnjr 23:24, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
(1) The "fact" that "the Jargon File is maintained by a right-wing blogger" is your opinion. Frankly, I don't know that he is. Cite it. Seems he's not a fan of Robert Fisk, but then it's a huge assumption that if you're not, then that's the litmus test by which you become "right-wing".
(2) A "quick google search" is often used to establish if a neologism has attained widespread use and is therefore notable for WP. "Fisking" has attained widespread use. You are making a claim about the preponderant ideological stance of people who use the term, so you need to produce support for your claim.
(3) For example: is Juan Cole "right-wing" in your opinion? See Fisking the "War on Terror" Armon 23:37, 5 October 2006 (UTC) -or this: The Saturday Fisking of Michelle Malkin You Crave Armon
As I said above, if you believe the term is more widespread than the American right-wing blogosphere, then those citations need to go into the article.Wnjr 14:33, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
I'm not disputing that "fisking" is widely used enough to include in wikipedia, but I'm not comfortable with the use of the Jargon file as a primary source -- ESR might be considered "right-wing" depending on your definition, but more to the point he's been criticized for abusing the maintainership of the Jargon file to try to "put over" coinages of his own. If the wikipedia is going to include a definition for this term, we should write one of our own, not use ESRs. And like many definitions, if you look closely at the way it's used, there seem to be a few different usages. Some people use it to mean "line-by-line critique", other people regard it as being more abusive, the interjection of insult and sarcasm without much serious thought. -- Doom 09:38, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
The more I look at it, the more I dislike the jargon file entry... ESR is taking the opportunity to editorialize about Robert Fisk largely because he's a left-wing commentator about war in the middle-east. (Also, I must confess, I strongly disagree with the claim that Fisk deserved Fisking -- the original example of "fisking" distorted what Fisk was actually saying in many ways... read the original if you're interested, and note that Fisk is saying the attack was understandable, not that it was justified -- this is a distinction the right has trouble with for some reason.) Anyway, I'm going to try a re-write that doesn't quote ESR's editorial. -- Doom 10:09, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Subtle addition of Right-wing[edit]

The article notes Andrew Sullivan was one of the original sources of this term. Hardly a "right-wing" source, so I have removed the reference to the term's predominant use by the right. 210.84.33.128 01:04, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

He's "right" compared to Fisk -depends how far left you are. It may be true that the term's more often used by people who lean "right" but it's certainly used by both sides. Armon 22:53, 5 October 2006 (UTC)
Sullivan's own blog claims he "Advocates gay rights as well as conservatism." Is conservatism now no longer considered right-wing?Wnjr 14:33, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

Posting styles[edit]

That is woefully insufficient as a description of the differing effects. Even in the limited context here. 82.152.46.201 22:27, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

Criticism of the term[edit]

Obviously the coiners and/or propagators of the term were no fans of Robert Fisk. Rather than attempting to scrub their POV (which is an integral part of the origin of the term), why don't we simply have a "Criticism of the term" section. <<-armon->> 23:09, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Sure. Go for it. Raymond Arritt 23:16, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
This is a reasonable suggestion, but I'm afraid it doesn't go far enough. Giving one side control of the introduction, and giving the other side a rebuttal section buried at the bottom isn't really being neutral. My suggestion would be to say up front that there are different attitudes toward the term that loosely correlate with political prejudices... it might be possible to go as far as to say that there are multiple definitions and present them in an ordered list (dictionaries present multiple definitions all the time, it seems peculiar to me that wikipedia articles never do so -- though "disambiguation pages" are similar I suppose). -- Doom 21:24, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
OK, but something has to be done. In the past few days, attempts to remove POV have left the definition so emasculated that it is no longer complete or accurate. Raymond Arritt 21:39, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
Which is why I reverted Doom's edits. The problem is that the term originates from an inherent POV regarding Robert Fisk. The reason it's good to present the Jargon watch def is that it's from a notable "dictionary" of internet slang, and it exposes the POV behind it's coinage. There's no NPOV issue if we're clearly quoting someone else -as we are. Fans of Fisk no-doubt hate the term, which is why I suggested a criticism section rather than attempting to either argue Fisk's case within the def, or "emasculate" it. <<-armon->> 22:30, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
Yes, this is clearly going to be a sensitive topic -- and it's becoming pretty clear that you're insensitive to concerns of people on the other side, which is to say that you're not being neutral. The Jargon file is certainly notable, but it's fundamentally just one guy's writing on the net -- it's not edited, peer-reviewed -- and ESR himself is known to be biased in this area. The way this quote is being used does not at all "expose the POV", it reads like an endorsement on the POV. (And what is up with the revert of Qwerty's edit? What does WP:OR have to do with it?) -- Doom 01:43, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
It's WP:OR because his analysis of ESR and Fisk's politics, as well as that of the "American view" is uncited, and therefore "...includes unpublished facts, arguments, concepts, statements, or theories, or any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that appears to advance a position — or which, in the words of Wikipedia's co-founder Jimmy Wales, would amount to a "novel narrative or historical interpretation." My "insensitivity" to your edits are due to reasons I've already set out here, and I have suggested a way of addressing your concerns. I don't regard an accusation of bias on my part a particularity good argument. <<-armon->> 01:59, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
Also, it's probably a bit much to expect that blogosphere slang terms be reviewed in peer-reviewed sources. <<-armon->> 02:02, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
(1) Try looking at the articles for Eric S. Raymond and Robert Fisk. I think they address the points you're regarding as "uncited". -- Doom 07:53, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
Except this article is about Fisking not Eric S. Raymond's or Robert Fisk's politics per say. Both names are wikilinked to the appropriate articles discussing them. <<-armon->>
(1) What happened to your complaint about "original research"? You're shifting to a different point, does that mean you're conceding the other point? (2) For an article that's not about politics, it talks a lot about politics, and almost all from one side. -- Doom 07:53, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm saying that even if it wasn't OR, it's still off topic. <<-armon->> 08:14, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
(2) It is indeed difficult to get "authoritative" commentary on blogosphere slang, but you're on a slippery slope there -- why is quoting ESR any better than a book review at cloggie.org? -- Doom
Notability and a "tradition" going back to 1975 -see Jargon File article. <<-armon->>
Why don't you try reading that article? One more time: there are repeated complaints about ESR injecting his opinions into the Jargon file. It poses as a record of geek culture, but ESR uses it as a soap box. It carries little more weight than some guy's blog. -- Doom 07:53, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
You're assuming the critics view is the "correct" one. It doesn't alter the fact of it's notability or the fact it's been around a long time and is a widely referred-to source on online culture. That logic can be applied to any source which has been criticized by someone sometime. <<-armon->> 08:14, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
If I wanted to play wikipedia lawyer, I could make a case that the entire article should just be deleted until the term gets written up in some scholarly journal, or at least a newspaper article: Wikipedia:Reliable_sources, Wikipedia:Verifiability. -- Doom 03:35, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
And I would cite WP:SNOW. <<-armon->>
What are you trying to get at? In any case, SNOW is an essay, "Reliable_sources" and "Verifiability" have considerably more force than that (and neutrality is not negotionable, remember?). -- Doom 07:53, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
My point is that you could list it at AfD, but there's not a snowball's chance that it would be deleted. <<-armon->> 08:14, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
OK, let's try this: I elided the "and deserving" part from the definition, since it's a POV-bomb and isn't necessary to the actual meaning of the term. As far as I can see the present form doesn't push any particular POV. Raymond Arritt 04:04, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
I don't agree that's necessary for NPOVing the article. I also don't see our role as erasing, or "toning-down" the POVs of sources. <<-armon->> 04:35, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
That (and deserving) is part of the quote, can't take it out if that is to be used as the definition. The entire quote is pov, from a source with no authority on the subject. Meggar 04:42, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
OK, if the article has to be posed as a tug of war between POVs this is going to take a while. It looks like there's no foreseeable conclusion to the POV-pushing (from both "left" and "right") that has characterized this article from the start. A thought: shall we simply delete the article and be done with it, since agreement seems impossible? Raymond Arritt 04:57, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
See above re: WP:SNOW <<-armon->> 08:14, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
Give me a couple of days to try to write a multiple-definitions version that represents the POVs in parallel. Maybe we can get something acceptable to most folks. -- Doom 07:53, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
OK. <<-armon->> 08:14, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Could some of the problem be the fact that the quoted definition, from The Jargon File, is very prominent in the article, but the phrasing of that quote is not at all neutral? What about replacing that with "To deconstruct an article on a point by point basis in a highly critical manner. Derived from the name of journalist Robert Fisk, a frequent target of such critical articles in the blogosphere" http://www.samizdata.net/blog/glossary_archives/001961.html#001961 and moving the Jargon File definition to a new section that notes how the term has changed? Another possibility might be this passage from an article I wrote in 2003: "The eponymous term 'fisk' refers originally to the activity of bloggers offering a systematic and usually disdainful rebuttal of an article by left-leaning British journalist Robert Fisk, but the term has generalized." I didn't want to post it out of concerns it would be considered self-promotion, but if someone else thinks it will help solve the bias problem, please fell free to make use of it. http://jerz.setonhill.edu/resources/blogtalk/index.html Dennis G. Jerz (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 07:32, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Sorry to interject abruptly, but does not 'Fisking' sound like a not-so-nice verb? But, on the other hand, having a verb named after you can't be all bad. Maybe we should start a 'chomsky-ing' term for those who believe fisk is right-wing?Apothecia (talk) 08:06, 4 March 2009 (UTC)

Before Fisk[edit]

This style of writing obviously existed before him (I know I wrote that way sometimes, and it has historical precedent in other writers too). What was this called before Fisk? Wouldn't it be better to place the article under that name instead? Rhialto 02:10, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

I think it was just "point-by-point criticism" (it was also called "the way we do things on usenet"). -- Doom (talk) 15:07, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
Whatever it was called then, for better or worse it's called "fisking" now. Wikipedia's policy on names and usage is descriptive rather than prescriptive. Raymond Arritt 03:44, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
WP is descriptive, true./ It is also npov. I think a reasonable case could be made that where it is used, it is used as a way of denigrating a particular author's writing style, and as such using it as the article's title would break WP policy regarding self-identification of subjects. Rhialto 06:55, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Fisk was the original inspiration, but the term has taken on a meaning that no longer directly indicates the person who inspired it (think sandwich, diesel, hooker, etc). There's already an article on Robert Fisk for those who wish to denigrate or defend his writing style per se. Raymond Arritt 13:59, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
There are some words which have inherently inflammatory connotations: fisking is a term that edges over toward words like "nigger" -- if you pretend that calling someone a nigger is merely a neutral statement about their racial background, you deserve a throughly "fisking" yourself. Someone coming into the story in the middle, and looking at just this article could not help but get the impression that Robert Fisk is a stupid jerk. -- Doom (talk) 23:27, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
It's at least possible that the right thing to do is to create a larger article discussing this style of criticism (possibly called "point-by-point analysis"). This larger article would have a section on the newer name "fisking", and then the existing article "Fisking" could re-direct to the larger article. (Bloggers like to think that they invented everything, but is there any reason wikipedia should endorse that pretension?) -- Doom (talk) 15:07, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
fisking is a term that edges over toward words like "nigger" -- That's about as wrong as a statement can possibly be. -- 68.111.35.169 (talk) 06:59, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

added an npov tag[edit]

this article is pov, it takes the right wing view, and promotes that with little discussion of the usage of the term outside the right wing, little discussion of what has happened to the usage of the term over the years, and little discussion of the critiques of Sullivan's original critique.

And ESR is a self-proclaimed libertarian, and war hawk. To deny that in the discussions here is nonsense. Finally, these days the Jargon File while funny, is little more than a self-written blog. 72.222.192.193 (talk) 14:29, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

what about the "unreferenced section" tag?[edit]

I was wondering a bit about the "unreferenced" complaint about the "Comparisons and distinctions". It's certainly true that there are no references there, but what's being said there strikes me as fairly self-evident and uncontroversial. Is someone here seriously challenging the material in that section, or is this based on a sort of vague feeling that you should see references every few lines? Doom (talk) 23:58, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Whether serious or not, Dynablaster chose to delete the section without discussing it here. I've restored it, with a few references added to it. -- Doom (talk) 19:24, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

my recent edits[edit]

Apparently I need to explain some of my recent edits.

The initial definition is very repetitious, and uses more words than I think is strictly called for:

Old version: "[...] detailed point-by-point criticism that highlights perceived errors, disputes the analysis of presented facts, or highlights other problems in a statement, article, or essay."
New version: "[...] describing detailed point-by-point criticism that highlights perceived errors, or disputes the analysis in a statement, article, or essay."

(Further, I might argue that in a statement, article, or essay. could be shortened to in some text. Any text can be subjected to point-by-point analysis, no?)

In the older version there is a bare sentence that is very misleading. I think we immediately need to make the point that "fisking" is something that was done to Fisk not done by him:

Old version: "The term is named after Robert Fisk, a British journalist."
New version: "The name developed from an occasion where the British journalist Robert Fisk was attacked by Andrew Sullivan in this manner."

And thirdly, we do the reader a disservice if we don't point out that this term has some loaded political connotations to many people, so I've added:

"Because of the term's roots in pro-war, conservative criticism of the anti-war Robert Fisk, it is difficult to use as a neutral term without political connotations."

If that point is challenged, I offer this Talk page as evidence. -- Doom (talk) 14:56, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Dynablaster? Sulivan's attack "doesn't fit this"? Doesn't fit what? What are you trying to say? -- Doom (talk) 23:43, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

I think what Dynablaster means is that Fisking is not particularly associated with Andrew Sullivan. Indeed, none of the references mention Sullivan. You are right that "The term is named after Robert Fisk, a British journalist. " would be understood to mean that Fisk invented the method, which he certainly didn't. I reworded the paragraph to refer to conservative bloggers in general using the method to criticize Fisk. --Apoc2400 (talk) 11:03, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

"The word comes from conservative bloggers who used the method to criticize columns by British journalist Robert Fisk."
No, I meant, it's entirely subjective to say that somebody has been "fisked" (true to definition). A blogger may think they have ripped apart somebody's argument, "scattering the tattered remnants to the four corners of the internet", but another person may perceive their rebuttal as weak. How do we agree what is or is not a proper fisking?
Does Andrew Sullivan's original "short three-paragraph attack" really constitute a "fisking" as defined today? It's quite impossible to say, so some of the wording needs to be neutralised. Dynablaster (talk) 16:20, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
That's interesting, but what I literally said was: "The name developed from an occasion where the British journalist Robert Fisk was attacked by Andrew Sullivan in this manner." So your objection would be fixed if I dropped the "in this manner"? Or perhaps modified it into "something like this manner"?
I think you're falling into the trap of assuming that "neutral" statements must be objectively provable. Actually we have to make reasonable judgment calls about meanings, and I submit that this is one of them: the people who came up with this term certainly thought that Sullivan had engaged in fisking Fisk. "The Castle of Otranto" is a pretty weak example of a gothic novel, but it's still the first one by anyone's standards.-- Doom (talk) 11:44, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

is the neutrality dispute over?[edit]

I (that is, Doom (talk)) suggest we remove the neutrality warning on this article. This is not to say that the article is perfect, but I think the major points of contention are largely covered: that article says what the term means, and where it comes from, without providing a forum for attack on Fisk himself, warns that the term has politically loaded connotations for some, and mentions that it has some similar predecessors.

So, a poll (if you think there's a major neutrality issue that still needs to be addressed, try to state it briefly):

Agreed, we can remove the neutrality warning:

Disagree, the neutrality warning is still needed:

  • I disagree with this sentence: "The term developed from occasions when conservative bloggers used the method to criticize columns by British journalist Robert Fisk." I can't find any point-by-point criticism of Fisk. And the source (word detective) fails WP:RS. Dynablaster (talk) 21:53, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
    • Your personal ignorance is not a valid reason for a neutrality warning. -- 68.111.35.169 (talk) 07:01, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Dictionary definition vs. encyclopedia article[edit]

(Honest question from a random observer who doesn't know/care much about the political/neutrality controversy here) What makes this more than a dictionary definition? It just describes the meaning of a word and the history of its usage. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Leonard of Vince (talkcontribs) 04:00, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

It's a dictionary definition. In order to avoid redirection and/or deletion, several editors have added original research and unreliable sources. I've therefore argued for a redirect, and if necessary, I will argue for deletion. Viriditas (talk) 01:13, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

Fisk's reaction[edit]

Besides the one I just put in the article, there's another reaction from Fisk here:

ARRAF: Thank you.
Let me take a question from the back, perhaps. The gentleman over there in the back.
QUESTIONER: Gary Rosen from Commentary magazine. Mr. Fisk, you’ve achieved a degree of immortality in the blogisphere, where these online commentators the verb “to fisk” now means to take a piece of journalism and to respond to it point-by-point for its ideological biases and factual unreliability. I’m wondering, do you — do you take pride in this coinage? Does it fill you with indignation? What are your thoughts on it? Is it justified?
FISK: I don’t waste my time with blogs, I don’t use the Internet, and I don’t use e-mail. I work.
Thank you. (Laughter.)
ARRAF: Well, that was concise. Thank you. Iraq: The Way Forward Series

That was in 2005. I came across that via a blog post by Tim Blair entitled For Email Before He Was Against It where he points out that Fisk spoke about receiving a nasty email a couple of years earlier in the San Francisco Chronicle. Vividuppers (talk) 11:28, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

the constant problem[edit]

It's claimed that this is a term that is used by "bloggers" of all political persuasions, but the "definitions" that are quoted all include snide attacks of Robert Fisk -- "considered a soft target", "a frequent (and deserving) early target". Attempts have been made at eliding these attacks, but some people insist that they're absolutely necessary. So which is it? Is this term a smear of Robert Fisk, or is this a neutral term? If it's a neutral term, why are the attacks on Fisk so necessary?

I don't think anyone is claiming the term is "neutral" (whatever that means) -it's origin is certainly anti-Fisk. Even so, the term has caught on and is used by people of many different ideological positions. Vividuppers (talk) 11:30, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
If no one is claiming that this is a neutral term, why is it that any attempt at making the point that it *isn't* neutral gets deleted? Quoting ESR's opinion of Fisk is entirely gratuitious, it's not at all necessary to get a sense of the meaning of the term, *if* all you're doing is using it as short-hand for point-by-point rebuttal. -- Doom (talk) 04:10, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
One more time: quoting an editorial in order to disguise the fact that you yourself are editorializing, is not by any means neutral. The bare minimum you can do in controversial cases, is to make it clear that there's a controversy. Giving one side of a controversy top-billing, and burying the rebuttal is also not being neutral. Given these few, basic, and rather obvious statements about reasonable factual writing, what do we do with this page? -- Doom (talk) 21:08, 16 December 2009 (UTC)
Look, it's clearly presented as the guy's OPINION. Just because you don't happen to agree with it, doesn't mean there's a problem with npov. Multiple people on this page (over the years it looks like) have pointed that out to you. Edgespath24 (talk) 14:49, 19 June 2010 (UTC)
Featuring a quote of someone else's admitted OPINION, is not being neutral, it is providing a forum for their OPINION in a place which is supposed to be Neutral. This stunningly obvious point has been discussed here for years, as you do indeed point out, and yet, this stunningly obvious point is not sinking into the minds of some nominally intelligent people. It couldn't be you're being willfully obtuse, could it? -- Doom (talk) 18:16, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

Which Independent?[edit]

Did Fisk's article appear in the Sunday Independent as stated (an Irish paper) or in the Independent on Sunday (a British one)? I suspect it's the latter; does anyone know for certain? Tsuguya (talk) 13:30, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

Marx's critique of Hegel[edit]

I've always thought that if you're looking for antecedents, you should look at Marx's Critique_of_Hegel's_Philosophy_of_Right, where the paragraph-by-paragraph method is used. But I couldn't find anyone noting the similarity. So I note it here to remind me and others to check occasionally. --Dannyno (talk) 16:54, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

History in fandom[edit]

Fisking looks like a nonfiction/discussion version of written MSTing (which already has a wikipedia article). If anyone can find a reputable description of the link between the two or at least add the wiki article on MSTing to 'see also' that would probably be valuable? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 189.172.105.218 (talk) 00:45, 9 August 2013 (UTC)