Wikipedia:Wikipedia is a mainstream encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Wikipedia is a mainstream encyclopedia. This means that writers and editors on Wikipedia should strive for articles that would be appreciated as being of the highest quality by a consensus of experts in any field of science or scholarship. However it does not mean that Wikipedia content is based on a popularity contest. In many debates, the most popular view is different from the scholarly or scientific view. In such cases, Wikipedia simply depends on the most reliable sources to verify content. Thus, what is considered "mainstream" for Wikipedia may be the minority view in society.

Wikipedia is neutral, which means it does not take sides in any dispute. If the preponderance of the best sources indicate that a subject has many equally valid sides, then Wikipedia gives equal space to the description of all sides. However, the best sources may indicate that a subject does not have equally valid sides. This is why Wikipedia gives the most space and prominence to descriptions of a subject that conform to the expert understanding while marginalizing in space and prominence the minority understanding. To do otherwise would create an encyclopedia that experts would not accept as being of the highest quality.

Wikipedia never endorses the expert understanding of a subject; it merely pays the most attention to it. Articles in Wikipedia maintain a neutral, dispassionate tone with regards to the subject, never indicating a preference for or against the perspective being examined.

Many statements made in Wikipedia can be reliably sourced as being disputed by somebody somewhere. This is irrelevant to our task of writing a mainstream encyclopedia, and should not be used as justification to create an article that differs from that of a mainstream encyclopedia. Unless a dispute is verifiably acknowledged to exist in high-quality sources, it does not belong in Wikipedia.

Is this situation fair? Perhaps not. But it is the situation we must tolerate if we are going to take Wikipedia being a mainstream encyclopedia seriously.

See also[edit]