I spent some time working on the "Fringe theories" editorial guideline. I got into this because I saw some editors blocking citation of what they called "fringe authors" and "fringe publishers". They were wielding WP:Fringe to declare sources to be unreliable just because they were writing (or publishing) about a marginalized topic. They did not notice the circularity of their logic (or maybe did but didn't care).
Since then, looking over discussion pages, I've seen a great deal of needless vituperation and edit warring around the pejorative uses of Fringe]]. More temperate editors say that the word "fringe" means peripheral or marginal, and that the pejorative senses "extreme" and "lunatic" are not intended and are not appropriate in Wikipedia.
However, the definition of fringe in the RH dictionary is
- something regarded as peripheral, marginal, secondary, or extreme in relation to something else: the lunatic fringe of a strong political party.
Secondary means subordinate in some recognized way. Unless the tail is trying to wag the dog (WP:UNDUE), merely subordinate topics would be uncontroversial, and not Fringe. So we're not dealing with the entire meaning of "fringe" here. Taking out the "secondary" and "subordinate" senses, what's left in the scope of the definition of "fringe" is peripheral, marginal, or extreme. Extreme is the part that raises people passions. I proposed that we jettison these two parts of the meaning of the word "fringe", the irrelevant part and the troublemaking part. I suggested that we talk about peripheral or marginal theories as peripheral or marginal theories, and leave name-calling like extreme (or "lunatic" as in dictionary's example) out of our editorial guidelines.
We can't be like Humpty Dumpty and make words mean whatever we please.
Bn (talk) 14:46, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
Doing so, we might find ourselves in hot cockalorum: http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=johnson&book=oak&story=master&PHPSESSID=8d6f423296406fada22d7a94ff9ca666 Bn (talk) 21:35, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
- Haven't had occasion to poke into the Fringe guideline in four years. I see that the cleanup of the nutshell and intro paragraphs remains intact.
- In the interim, I've just made typical Wikipedian edits, ranging from extensive work on topics that I know quite well to copy edits and typos encountered in the course of using Wikipedia.
- Bn (talk) 22:19, 28 July 2014 (UTC)