Wikipedia:No original research/Workshop

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Wikipedia does not lack respect for specialist researchers[edit]

It is not that Wikipedia lacks respect for specialist researchers. Rather it is because of our own limitations: we are a community of non-specialist volunteer editors, but validation of new research work is a task for communities of specialists. That's why Wikipedia cannot be the first publisher of a new discovery or analysis; but as soon as significant new findings have been published in a reliable source , Wikipedia can and should tell its readers about them.

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A big welcome and advice for expert editors[edit]

Wikipedia is a very different place. The expertise of editors has helped build Wikipedia, but not in the way that most would envision as when they just enter Wikipedia as an editor. As a result, many get upset by the process. This essay is to both roll out the welcome mat and provide advice to avoid that.

To start with, may we recommend reading the following 4 policies:

wp:verifiability Verifiability

wp:nor No original research

wp:npov Neutral point of view

wp:not What Wikipedia is not

and then reading the notes at WP:EXPERT

These are the best 5 documents dealing with experts editing in Wikipedia. Once you've read those, the following builds upon them.

One of the biggest differences is that experts may only put in material which which is sourcable in accordance with Wikipedia's verifiability policy. It's nothing personal. If Einstein prominently edited as himself in Wikipedia and just wrote about relativity, and a non-physicist challenged his material and said that it was uncited, he would either have to cite his material (i.e. using one of his published books as a reference) or the non-physicist could remove his material. Einstein would still still be a very valuable contributor to Wikipedia because he knows and has a perspective on what is in all of those relativity books and can put that material in articles because it is verifiable in accordance with Wikipedia's verifiability policy. And (although some in Wikipedia will dispute this, and in certain situations those decisions will be overruled by Wikipedia's wp:npov policy), his expertise is also being applied in the selection of material that is useful for the article.

A second common area of misunderstanding is that Wikipedia is not the place to present new ideas to help them gain publicity and traction. Wikipedia only wants them after they have already gained traction, evidenced by coverage in independent sources. Here are the three most common situations of exclusion of material:

  • Exclusion of there being a separate article on that topic. This is the most stringent test, it must meet Wikipedia's WP:Notability policy to be a separate article. Roughly speaking, such requires that it has substantive coverage in multiple independent sources. Note that this rule applies only to existence as a separate article, not to material being in an article.
  • Exclusion or reduction due to undue weight in accordance with Wikipedia's wp:npov policy. This comes into play when presented in an area where there are competing theories or views. Roughly, space/weight is apportioned in the article based on prevalence of coverage in sources. In this type of situation, a small minority view or new theory that has little coverage in independent sources may get squeezed down to one sentence or left out.
  • Exclusion because it has not been covered by independent sources. If I have a totally awesome new discovery, theory, understanding etc. that I want the world to know about, (that has not yet been covered by other independent sources) Wikipedia is NOT the place for me to take it.

Please note that for brevity, the above has included very rough oversimplifications (imprecise statements) of policies. In all cases, please see the referenced policies.