Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Community discussion/Archive 1

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Contents

History[edit]

Wikipedia:Attribution was worked on over 5 months (more than 2,000 edits to the page itself, and more than 5,000 edits to the talk page by more than 300 editors), and it was upgraded to policy on the 15 February, 2007. The discussion was made public on various policy talk pages, on the wiki-EN-l mailing list, and was announced on the The Wikipedia Signpost.

Jimbo's initial comments on this issue are here.

More recently, on the Wiki-EN-l mailing list (wiki-EN-l March 20, 2007, 11:56 PM), Jimbo Wales suggested: [1]

  • "A broad community discussion to shed light on the very good work done by a group of people laboring away on WP:ATT and related pages,", (see: Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Community discussion), and then,
  • "a poll to assess the feelings of the community as best we can, and then we can have a final certification of the results"

References:

  1. ^ Jimmy (Jimbo) Wales, "Just what *is* Jimbo's role anyway?" WikiEN-L, 06:56, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

A poll draft has been set up at Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll.

This is not a place for recriminations about how we got here, justified or not; this is a discussion of where we are now.

There seem to be the following major questions:

Where has this been posted?[edit]

Could someone list where this discussion was posted to, so that we know we're generating the "broad community discussion" Jimbo has asked for? Marskell 08:50, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Posted at (please add links if you know of others):

This discussion is not sufficiently widely advertised. One thing that is needed and that is missing is prominent proposed-merge tags on WP:V, WP:NOR and WP:RS, with links to this discussion. This discussion should continue at least until such merge tags have been in place for a good long time. --Coppertwig 22:08, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Blueboar, do you really think an edit summary of "...he can't add merge tags because the pages are locked... so all he can do is (over) complain" is helpful? Maybe you might consider that a number of people here believe these merge tags should be installed, and that the fact that they are being resisted is really ironic, given that we are all here right now because they weren't used the first time around? — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:28, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't understand why merge tags are not being used. And there's still no link in the "page is protected" notice to the discussion. Xiner (talk, email) 00:25, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
So let me get this straight, Orginal research is allowed when marked as "Original Research?"
I never knew about this until today when I saw a notice on my page. But this is a disturbing document. I think the three prior policies were good as they were. --Blue Tie 22:42, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Should WP:V and WP:NOR have been merged at all?[edit]

The chief argument for this was that they had an extensive area of overlap. It is more efficient to state the same policy in the same place, once. When they diverged, as they did from time to time, the result was two somewhat different policies on the same issue, of equal authority.

As a lesser advantage, "verification" in WP:V was not the common meaning of "verify": confirming the truth of what Wikipedia asserted; but checking that Wikipedia's statement could be attributed to a reliable source, and was therefore not original research. The change of name may well mean that we don't have to explain this once or twice a month to some well-intentioned soul who has just encountered our policy pages. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:43, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

  • When I first heard of the proposal to merge V and NOR into one combined Policy my initial reaction was negative. Especially since part of the proposal involved also shifting RS (which I have been involved in heavily) to a FAQ page. I was sceptical, thinking that this might be an backhanded way to slip policy changes past the watchful eye of the community, under the guise of simplification. While I did not get heavily involved with the drafting, I did pay attention to the discussion about it. After a while I discovered that my fears had no basis. The folks who drafted this really did mean it when they said they did not intend to change anything. Before too long I found that I had changed my mind... this actually was a very good idea. While V, NOR and RS seem to be seperate concepts, they actually overlap in many areas... Perhaps not in wording, but in concept. Changes to one greatly affected the others. We even had times where they were in direct conflict - two policies saying opposite things about the same idea. It now makes sense to me to have them combined into one Policy to avoid such confusion. Not only was this merger good... it should have been done a while ago. Blueboar 23:04, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I fully agree with the merger. The concepts expressed in the two policies are both part of the same basic idea that everything we report here be based in external confirmable reality. Simplifying redundant policies into cohesive single pages is an excellent idea and should be done often to avoid both inconsistency of policy and inadvertent WP:CREEP. If nothing else I hope we keep the rewording from "verifiability, not truth" to "attributability, not truth", because the first was oxymoronic and meant "truth, not truth". --tjstrf talk 23:22, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I disagree with merging these two. No original research, and no novel syntheses, is different form verifiability. Something can be verifiable from impeccable primary sources but still be original research because it is compiled entirely from primary sources, and Wikipedia is not a publisher of first instance. The value of WP:ATT is in taking the examples and putting them in context, showing how - well, attribution is necessary and how it should be done. Guy (Help!) 23:34, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
    • If it is compiled, i.e. simply collected into one place, without drawing any conclusions it is not OR. `'mikka 04:30, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
      • Yes. The term "original research" is vague enough that well-meaning people are likely to misunderstand it, as we see here. Verification is clearer. Jonathan Tweet 23:54, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I would prefer to see them remain separate. I feel they were more understandable when presented in discrete chunks: together, they are a bit too much to process at one time. It also is a bit too much to process on one talk page. That said, if condensed, it could be a good summary page. So, although I would like to see WP:V and WP:NOR remain as separate policies, WP:ATT, if condensed, would be a good guideline to show to people who would prefer to do less reading. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 23:44, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
This is already a subject of discussion at Wikipedia talk:Attribution and is slated for further investigation at Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll. I don't see the point of this thread existing here on this odd page. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:11, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. Of course. The policies are intimately related; after all, Original Research is essentially an argument or synthesis that cannot be Verified to a Reliable Source. Combining them clarifies the relationship between them, and helps avoid policy (and guideline) divergence. Jayjg (talk) 00:24, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • YES! Until now, it's been impossible to clearly articulate and enforce NOR or RS. People followed V, but almost never NOR, and rarely RS until now. The Wikipedia is getting way better in quality now.--Urthogie 00:33, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, indeed. People were always complaining about the policies being spread over two pages — three pages if you count RS — and in addition newbies got confused about how the word "verifiability" was being used. This is much clearer, and it was a very popular move. I've received more e-mails in the last few months saying this was a good move than over any other single issue since I've been at Wikipedia. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:48, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No, but now that is has been done, I think the more important questions are should ATT totally subsume V and NOR (and possibly RS), should ATT just go away, or should ATT be a summary policy and the others more in-depth explorations? I lean toward the third option. I can't see a rationale for completely undoing ATT. A lot of good faith work has gone into it, and while some of us weren't entirely happy with the process, that's kind of water under the bridge at this point. The real challenge will be to have separate documents that actually agree with each other. I don't think this problem is insurmountable at all. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:14, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • YES. Think of the new editors coming to join the project. What better than having two simple and well presented policies WP:NPOV and WP:ATT? We need to think of the future of this project and embrace evolution. If you do not evolve, you die. A conservative move to keep a status quo that has created enormous problems for editors is not a good thing for this project is not a good thing. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:32, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. WP:V and WP:NOR should not have been merged. At one time Wikipedia:Verifiability had instructions for how Wikipedians should verify article content. The instructions for fact-checking by Wikipedians stressed the importance of multiple unimpeachable sources to support statements in encyclopedia articles. Of course, that was bad news for POV pushers, but WP:A now tells us that only for certain "exceptional claims" need editors think about comparing multiple reliable sources in order to check facts. This change does not help editors keep garbage out of articles and improve the encyclopedia. There was never any problem in having WP:V and WP:NOR discuss similar issues from different perspectives. WP:V should go back to its roots and serve as a resource for guiding Wikipedians in their fact checking work. WP:NOR is needed for examples that define the distinction between trying to slip unpublished research into Wikipedia and doing the kind of analysis of sources that Wikipedians must do in order to produce an encyclopedia. Merging the two pages only serves to weaken and dilute those important functions. --JWSchmidt 02:19, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
What JWSchmidt has to say here makes a lot of sense to me. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 03:02, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • YES, there has not been a single refutation of my proof, so the merger is a good idea. More seriously, attribution doesn't mean you should not compare and contrast sources... but in any case, I'm very glad that this merger has highlighted (although it's irritating that it is being blamed for) the role of truth in more recent versions of WP:V than those cited above. Perhaps WP:V should go back to its roots, but it should definitely not go back to the "truth, not truth; but the first truth in this context means something other than truth" formulation. --Merzul 03:29, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Let me start from rephrasing my very first objection I ever made w.r.t. WP:A. I am afraid that this section title is a loaded question, and vaguely (I am sure, inadvertently) stated, too. Yes, the pages were merged. But the policies were not. The renaming them from "policies" to "key principles" is merely a bureaucratic trick. Of course, there was much trimming/cleanup done in the process, but if right now you cut WP:A into two pieces along the VPL (er..., "visible partition line") and rename "key principles" back into "policies", will it make any difference? IMO one of the core troubles is that the two WP:NOR & WP:V had their long lines of evolution, and significantly shifted in essence, so that their meanings and purposes are no longer immediately deduced from their titles, and this confuses new generations. This happens all the time with many technical terms in all natural languages (take the word "computer"). Their contents grew over time until it became evident that the two bushes turned into one thicket. Naturally, many felt that something should be done. But I have an impression that instead of thinking and deciding how to proceed, the merge itself and the discussion of what is to be done run in parallel (and the first draft of VP:A (whose structure I like more) differs from the result drastically).
After this long rant, let me answer to the "correct" question: Should the policies WP:V and WP:NOR be merged?YES, but... (to be continued...) (and to the original one: yes, it was a useful and instructive exercise) `'mikka 04:30, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • YES - As a result of creating Wikipedia:Attribution, the debates at AfD began to move away from the subject test of whether a topic was important or famous enough to include in Wikipedia towards the objective test of whether there was sufficient source material to include a attributable, encyclopedic article about the topic. Instead of telling newcomers that Wikipedia doesn't want their article and thinks the topic is unimportant (which really gets newcomers upset), the AfD focus began to move towards yes, the topic is important, but there is not enough source material to include an attributable, encyclopedic article about the topic. Newcomers seem to have better acceptance of this reasoning. This seemed to work towards reducing hurt feelings at AfD. -- Jreferee 04:54, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
    • That's very compelling if true (examples?), but even if there has been a general trend away from criteria of importance and fame at AfD, I suspect it has more to do with the recent changes and discussions regarding Wikipedia:Notability than the ATT merger.--ragesoss 06:11, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • yes - easy to understand policies are important - it means more people will follow them. if it is possible to merge these two into an new, easier to understand one (which, as far as i can tell, has been achieved with WP:ATT), then it should certainly be done. to be able to accurately summarize one's policies in as few sentences as possible seems to be a good goal for any policy maker. Mlm42 09:06, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I'm undecided. I agree with the valid point made above that "attribution" is a more accurate wording than "verifiability", as "verification" usually refers (outside Wikipedia) to determining the truth of an assertion, rather than attributing it to an external source. Therefore, the famous Wikipedia doctrine "Verifiability, not truth, is the threshold for inclusion" makes little sense to many non-Wikipedians. However, it might have been better to simply rename WP:V to WP:ATT, and keep WP:NOR as a separate policy. Although they do refer to two sides of the same coin - original research is, by definition, the absence of attribution - it's sometimes clearer to refer to WP:NOR, especially when explaining things at AfD. Walton Vivat Regina! 09:49, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No, It was done with too much haste. Wikipedia has become a gargantuan project. Big changes at its core should only be made slowly and carefully. SmokeyJoe 09:58, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Is 5 months. 2,000 edits to ATT and 5,000 comments in talk haste? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 12:24, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Your point has my sympathy. I don't understand why, but it seems that so much work over such a long time happened in the complete ignorance of so many. I am interest in policy, and keep many policies, including WP:V and WP:NOR on my watchlist, and yet I was completely unaware of what was happening until there was an announcement that it was about to happen. How many editors, as a percentage of active editors, participated in the creation of WP:ATT? SmokeyJoe 04:36, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
That is a general problem with Wikipedia, and not an argument against this particular change. — Sebastian 18:32, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No Verifiability was about increasing article accuracy through fact checking and providing sources to enable this. Attribution is turning into "if it is not attributed then delete it" and (using the NOR merger) "only worry about whether the attribution is accurate", both of which would damage Wikipedia --Henrygb 13:16, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
    Can you repeat this below? This is an assertion that WP:ATT is a change in policy. I agree that any such change would be a bad thing, and have attempted to word ATT so as to preserve the present policy, which I like. What further changes does WP:ATT need? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:55, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes I think it is better if they are combined. But several things have changed while the combining took place (see my comment below about a change in OR, there has also been a change in the wording in Primary sources etc) which I think should not have been made until after full discussion about such changes on the talk page of ATT, after ATT became active. --Philip Baird Shearer 21:52, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, Verifiability and NOR mean the same thing. One says, "articles should contain only material that has been published by reliable sources", the other says, "Wikipedia is not a publisher of original thought. Articles should only contain verifiable content from reliable sources without further analysis". Having two "different" policies which mean practically the same thing is pointless. --Xyzzyplugh 23:19, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. My initial reaction to the announcement of the merger was skepticism and a bit of dismay at not having known about it before. However, the more I thought about it (and looked at the result), the more I liked it. As long as reliable sources remains independent (as it really is an independent issue), I don't see any big problems with merging verifiability and no-original-research, except that it will take awhile for everyone to use the new jargon. Maybe that's a plus in and of itself, though.--ragesoss 05:28, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. I was also taken aback at discovering that there'd been a change, but once I'd realised that it was only a change in organisation, I thought that it was significantly better. In fact, I'd be dismayed if it changed back permanently. More than half my time is spent removing text that's simply placed in articles without explaantion o source (and often having to argue with people who don't have time for explaantions or source-finding, but have plenty for acrimonious protests); the simpler and clearer the policies and guidelines are, the better. (I find it difficult to understand the claim that policy is simpler to understand if it's split into different chunks on different pages.) --Mel Etitis (Talk) 09:59, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. The policies as they were were confusing and difficult to work with; the ATT solves both of these issues. JulesH 11:42, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • We should also include Citing sources in this even though it's only a guideline. Kingjeff 23:50, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. They made more sense to me as separate items. WP:NOR has an intuitive meaning to anyone who's ever had to deal with science cranks, which it loses once it's buried inside some other doctrine. Wasted Time R 23:51, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
    Yes, that's what it was used for originally. But it has grown together since. I only see two options: Either accept the fact that it has expanded its meaning, or fight it, in which case the WP:NOR intro needs clarify per WP:LEAD#Establish context that it's only for a specific use. — Sebastian 18:32, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    • No. Each have a specific point, a specific and very different topic. Merging all does not make sense! And Wikipedia change is just too disturbing anyway. Reasons specified above also defend my point. Merging is efficient and organised, but the different points addressed lose its value, I believe. -- Andy W. (talk/contrb.) 23:55, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes If something is NOR, then it's verifiable. Xiner (talk, email) 23:56, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
    • That sounds backwards to me. A person can cite an external source published by someone else, making it NOR, but that source could be completely bogus, meaning it's not V. On the other hand, original research is by definition not verifiable, so the statement should be that if something is verifiable, then it is not original research. --DachannienTalkContrib 00:29, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. On the question of merging the two concepts, I agree that they are intricately linked enough to make them one policy. As per my subcomment above, V is a subset of NOR that is necessary to the function of Wikipedia, so that subset should be emphasized, with NOR being used to reinforce it. --DachannienTalkContrib 00:29, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes the essential idea of NOR and V is identical in that both require information posted on Wikipedia to have reliable attribution instead of fancy theories. Wooyi 00:27, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Also I think the WP:NOR and WP:V links should redirect to their respective section of the merged policy if they ever get merged. Wooyi 00:55, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes While the merger was disconcerting at first, the merged layout is clear and effective. It is appropriate for the more detailed clarifications such as WP:RS to be linked from this (merged) core policy. .. dave souza, talk 00:35, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes Original research is a bunch of information that verifiability is in question. Verifiability is when somebody can check the information to make sure that it is correct. Therefore, those two concepts are closely related and should be merged to enforce it as one policy.  V60 VTalk · VDemolitions 01:45, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes The debate at various places seems to not really center on "Is the merger a good idea" but "Was the merger handled correctly". If changes to wikipedia article happened as people wanted this process to happen, wikipedia could never be improved. WP:BOLD should apply here as well... 5 months seems more than adequate, simply because someone didn't send every registered wikipedia member a personal invite on their talk pages does not mean that adequate warning wasn't given. Furthermore, even if the process of creating the new page irked some people, it has no bearing on whether or not the results of the process (i.e. the new page) is beneficial to the project. That is the only thing that matters: Does the new ATT page significantly improve the project. It does. That's all that matters to me. Plus, as a tacit verification of acceptance, the new page seems to be being used in many places. Consensus is displayed by many more means than a simple straw poll... --Jayron32|talk|contribs 01:53, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes Less text is better MisterSheik 01:54, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I am one of those editors who does not offen comment on policy pages, and didn't really follow this discussion when it (the merge) was happening. That said, the merge seemed logical to me. I tell someone "We can't have OR" and they wonder, "How can I show that this isn't OR", the answer: provide verification. So they post something from their website. No, provide verification from a reliable source. It just made sense to me to take out the overlap under the heading of attribution. Also, as others have pointed out, we don't actually verify (go and check each source -- especially print sources), we merely expect the information to be attributed. So, for me, Yes. -- Pastordavid 02:00, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, they say basically the same thing. There's no reason why small differences can't be handled by different aspects of one policy. The fewer policies there are, the easier it is for new users to get a handle on things. delldot talk 02:34, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No, they are two distinct and seperate concepts - I don't think there's really anything to gain by putting them both on the same page. I don't really think there was anything wrong with things being as they were before, and I can't see any improvement being made from the merger. Perhaps if there are issues with the policies work should go into improving them seperately rather than deciding to combine the two. Veesicle (Talk) (Contribs) 02:43, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yep, this seems a sensible idea to me. I didn't like the idea at first, but having read the pages, everything seems to slot together nicely. As has been said, the two separate policies cover the same idea from two different angles, therefore it's much better that they are covered on the same page, without significant overlap. →Ollie (talkcontribs) 03:00, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No - firstly, they are distinct, secondly, many people do not know what "attribution" means while "verify" (root word) and "no original research" and "reliable sources" are common words and commonly understood. I didn't even know about the discussion despite 12 months of activity on Wikipedia and regularly reading many of the policies, and I don't doubt others were in the same boat - I heard about it by accident from another admin a few weeks after it took place, and even now most people on AfD debates don't seem to know they've been merged. I do tend to favour harmonising the policies to create an overarching Attribution framework, but keeping the others as core policies much as we have parent and child Wikiprojects. The maxim "if it ain't broke don't try to fix it" fits here IMO. Orderinchaos78 03:06, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
    But "attribution" is a term naturally associated with high quality source-based scholarship, while "verifiability" is naturally associated with high quality original reasearch. Which intuitive idea should be conveyed to new editors? --Merzul 10:28, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
    What's wrong with "reliable sources"? That seems pretty intuitive to me. — Sebastian 18:32, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No - Wow. Look at the bolding trend. Anyways, I don't think they should have been merged at all. To me, verifying something would refer to validating something that is primarily unknown or just needs to be clarified for "upgrading" the validity of the article. OR, on the other hand, tells me that original research, that is not based on anything, can not be included. Now, they are similar on a certain level, but I feel they both qualify for seperate articles. I could, however, see V and RS be merged. Disinclination 04:13, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Aye, all the relevant pieces can be better displayed in one place. Taking the long term view, editors don't just figure out the minutiae of policy and how it is applied from reading the policy, they also get there by observing and being involved in day-to-day editing, therefore seeing how it is applied and how others interpret it. Having one page to refer back to works better for me. Deiz talk 05:10, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes; it took me a little while to see how the pieces would fit together, but conceptually it makes a lot of sense. A single policy page that authoritatively defines "what material we can include" will always be easier to understand than two policies. WP:NPOV defines "how we write included material", and WP:NOT defines "what not to include". Easy peasy. -/- Warren 05:53, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No - Each concept should have its own page. Cacophony 06:06, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • YES, as per User:Jayjg: "The policies are intimately related; after all, Original Research is essentially an argument or synthesis that cannot be Verified to a Reliable Source." Merging the three policies to one page makes it easier for all to figure out a) why their additions to Wikipedia are being considered original research, b) how to find acceptable, reliable sources if they disagree, and c) how to use those sources to verify or attribute their additions. I consider myself an experienced editor, and even I've found myself swamped in policy at times. Merging them for simplification can only be a good idea. PMC 06:14, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, It's simpler & more likely to be read & followed. Attribution more accurately describes what is called for than verification; I can verify that I have five fingers on each hand (to borrow an example someone has used here) but if I'm a non-notable person, that information should not be in WP. Attribution to a reliable source seems a more intuitive description of what is generally wanted Ewulp 06:14, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No, Fully aware I'm in the minority. If (or more likely when given the discussion thus far) this happens the templates used to tag articles will probably have to altered right? I'll guess we'll get to that later. I'm curious to see what they'll look like, given that this looks like a foregone conclusion. Quadzilla99 06:48, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No They are all different topics. They should not be merged.--Sefringle 06:57, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. I never understood why No Original Research was a separate policy and not a subset of Verifiability. -- Jitse Niesen (talk) 08:43, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • WP:ATT (with an accompanying FAQ for detail) is better; it is more concise and easier to absorb (for new users especially). Since this is a core concept and policy, it can only be a benefit to the project to communicate it all in one way and one place. (Yes, the topics, to any reasonable approximation, are one concept.) Make the replaced policies inactive and leave their redirects pointing at them (with links to ATT at the top of the page, obviously). Incorporate any detail in WP:RS that is not captured in ATT in the ATTFAQ. Applaud policy developers for level-headedness. –Outriggr § 09:54, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. While at first against it, I think the benefits outweigh the problems. If two policies have some area of overlap, too many problems can arise if one of the policies change. — Pious7TalkContribs 10:26, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • YES. I wasn't fully satisfied with the merge at first look, but then again it'll definitely be easier for new users to understand only two main content policies rather than three. Moreover, they are basically the same thing: Attribution (WP:A) ► from published sources (WP:V) without exceptions (WP:NOR). I'm aware that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", but we strive for the highest standards of policies, despite apparent low need in changes. Leaving them redirects would fix any misconception in deletion debates following the merge. Michaelas10Respect my authoritah 12:27, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
comment Shouldn't that be: “NO, Keep it simple”? Is it not simpler to have pages addressing specific problems, rather than one complex and unwieldy article with byzantine subsections? Freederick 10:30, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
It's easier for me to cite one policy and point people to one article when discussing edits. --Sean Brunnock 12:47, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. They're two sides of the same coin and the information needs to be available in one place. TomTheHand 14:26, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, the guidelines are similar. Seivad 14:27, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, KISS. However, more detailed explanations can have sepatare pages. (I am not sure but this was probably adressed before.) --Tone 22:42, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. Ezratrumpet 23:17, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. On the surface, all three existing policies do fall under the heading of attribution, and I'm all in favor of merging policies in the spirit of clarity, conciseness, and avoiding instruction creep. However, I think there are fundamental areas where the policies do not overlap, and even contradict one another, that have not been resolved to my satisfaction.

I'll give an example. Back in July 2006, I wrote an article on the joke chess problem. It was a notable topic, for sure, and I took care to cite references for all the chess problems in the method that is conventional for that field. So it fulfills the criteria of verifiability and reliable sources without question. What about original research? There I have misgivings (though not enough to contemplate deleting it). I'm not aware of any article that has discussed the "joke chess problem" as an independent subject in the past; basically, I collected six or seven problems that have individually been identified as jokes by others. Arguably, then, it's synthesis of cited material. So does it violate Wikipedia's inclusion policies or not? Under the old split policy, we have multiple factors to consider, and when they are all weighed together, my opinion (which is of course biased) is that it's not so much synthesis of published material, as rather collecting related items under a single article title. When making this judgment, it's helpful to treat the OR question separately from the verifiability question. If someone makes a judgment based on a unified attribution policy, he/she might come to delete the article as "synthesis" without appreciating the relevance of the sources and the nature of the relationship between them.

I can also envisage the opposite kind of case, where there is no original research (for example, it's a patently obvious phenomenon such as the monthly lunar cycle) but the verifiability of details in reliable sources (such as an astronomy journal or book which discussed the monthly lunar cycle) might be hard to find. In that case also, where two policies seem to contradict, I'd prefer to leave it to the judgment of editors how to reconcile them, rather than trying to make a blanket merger policy. YechielMan 00:59, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't really think this is an argument pro or con merging. A discussion about joke chess problems would be the same under the current set of policy pages as under the new proposed policy. As it is I'm unsure about these types of pages. Reluctantly I'm in favor but only if NOR is really kept to a minimum. It would be my preference that such an overview of chess joke problems would (first) published in some chess forum than in an encyclopedia. On the other hand, especially for popular or fringe topics that may restrict too much. So, if this page were in AfD, I'd give a small keep. Sander123 14:03, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. As someone who has been translating the policy to a smaller Wikipedia (ro.wp) for quite some time and who has been doing his best to explain the policy to many users, I understand how frustrating it is that you can never talk about original research without talking about verifiability and reliable sources. I had always wondered why they had to be separate in the first place. Original research is defined through verifiability --- look at the nutshell in WP:NOR ---, and how can a policy be fundamental if it's built upon another? I believe that "No original research", though very important, can only be a part of a wider policy, call it "attribution" or "verifiability" or whatever. I certainly welcome the merger. — AdiJapan  01:36, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. Splitting policy over multiple, small, partly overlapping pages is a bad thing. Only if the topics are clearly separate should a new page be made. Here it is only confusing. So, I say merge it. Sander123 08:28, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. NOR and V are difficult concepts to explain, as many have observed above in this section. The nutshell statement of "All material in Wikipedia must be attributable to a reliable, published source" explains the policy much more clearly. "Attributable" is a much better word than "Verifiable", especially when contrasted with "True". The change is a big step forward, IMHO. --Jdlh | Talk 08:48, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. This is one of those situations where there is no "right" answer. Clearly all the WP policies could be merged into one single article WP:* and editors who did something wrong could be told "you violated *" or "you violated * section 3.1." But V, OR, RS, NPOV, AGF etc. are all part of the Wikipedia culture and language. There are zillions of discussion pages where these terms are used. I think is is better to leave these bits of jargon unchanged even though there is overlap. It's more helpful to keep continuity then to strive for some perfect policy organization.--agr 10:06, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. While I would support merging WP:RS into WP:V (and WP:Attribution is a better name for the resulting page), yet I am strongly opposed to merging WP:NOR into it. Firstly, in principle: WP:NOR refers to a different class of problems. It is possible to violate WP:V/WP:A without violating WP:NOR, and technically it is possible the other way around, when the attribution is a reference to OR. Secondly, in practice: these policies are invoked in talk page discussions, and they are often invoked to deal with different situations. Merging them would obfuscate such arguments, robbing them of strength and clarity. It is better to refer to the specific policy, pinpointing: this is what is being violated here; rather than to refer to an all-inclusive, complex piece of legalese. WP:NOR should stand on its own. Freederick 10:23, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • NoThese policies are too different. Merging would be confusing and pointless, as well as generating a ridiculously long page. YuanchosaanSalutations! 10:52, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Uh...? Wikipedia:Attribution is shorter and therefore easier to digest than NOR, V, and RS — 2,500 words rather than 4,900. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 18:09, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps I should have been clearer >_<. I meant that it is harder to sort through the information due to the clumping together. Anyway, happy Editing! YuanchosaanSalutations! 06:45, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No - As several above have said, they are different things. I think it could be likened to the combining all of the laws into one all encompasing laws for an area. I dont think there was anything wrong with the 3 seperate policies and am content with them staying that way. -- Chrislk02 (Chris Kreider) 13:49, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, of course. All of these policies are complementary, and are best combined into a single page. There are far too many policy and guideline pages as is - consolidating them was a major improvement. Guettarda 15:24, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Probably, but I do have a problem with the continual rewriting of fundamental policies. Those of us who have views on this but would rather be writing an encyclopedia than arguing policy find we keep getting dragged back in to re-fight battles we thought were one. In my case, it seems like twice a year I have to waste significant time making the case for three different issues: (1) that you don't throw away a reference just because a URL is broken, (2) that for many topics the best references will not be in English and (3) that the "no original research" and "reliable sources" rules are intended to prevent us from including dubious material, not to turn turn this into a timewasting game in which people spend all of their time finding overt citation for the obvious rather than writing new content. - Jmabel | Talk 17:32, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. V, NOR and RS should be merged. They make up a single logical unit: "All statements should be directly and explicitly attributed to reliable secondary sources." Itayb 19:17, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No per Jimmy Wales. They are separate policies that each require separation. The useful ideas required therein will be lost with a merge. It is not such a hassel to have two distinct policies. Really, it isn't. ~ UBeR 19:49, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes V is important and unambiguous. OR was widely abused in wikilawyering, since it was no ill-defined. Original was the problem word. Is it OR to try and set the definition of a word for the purposes of an articele based on a few dictionaries? Some used OR to say yes - just for example. David Spart (talk · contribs · logs · block user · block log) 21:00, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes It is much better to have the policies combined. The merged document looks much clearer. A writer now needs only refer to one document, to understand that all statements should be attributable, as opposed to three. Much more efficient. Makes understanding the policies easier. Allowing writers to concentrate on the quality of content. Alisdair37 00:03, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes WP:V is a positive "what is OK " while WP:NOR is a negative "what is not OK" on a similar topic. It makes sense to me to have them combined in a single policy for ease of interpretation. It can be confusing to have to look at two or more policies to determine what is appropriate. Peter Campbell 05:22, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I can see value in both approaches, the two policies were different lenses viewing the same thing, Wikipedia consolidates and aggregates existing knowledge rather than adding to the corpus of knowledge in its own right. In that sense, two policies saying the same thing could be abused and has the potential to be confusing. However different people respond better to some communications than others and saying the same thing in a different way improves the probablility of understanding. That said there is an issue of readability, where the article takes up more than a couple of screen lengths it's not easily screen readable and from a policy perspective that reduces the probability of compliance. On balance and in the interests of policy rationalisation I'd tend to support the merger of WP:V and WP:NOR however the merged policy should call supporting material to provide the editor with background and explanatory material, aiding readability and utility.ALR 08:19, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • At first I said no, but now I've changed my mind to Yes. What has been done reads well, is concise, follows a logical order and, especially for newbies, does more to convey the spirit of the policy than a bunch of scattered policies and rules. I will say, however, that there could be a subpage (structured like WP:NAME) that goes into more detail about NOR. Mainly I would like this for newbies that post well-referenced essays, and are perplexed as to why it violated policy.--Esprit15d (talk ¤ contribs) 12:58, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. Change is unhelpful of itself unless there is a real gain: we all have to relearn where to refer people etc. Here there is no clear gain. Therefore I am opposed to the merge --BozMo talk 13:40, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. At last someone did something against instruction creep! (Read WP:CREEP if you don't see that that's a problem!) — Sebastian 18:40, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • It doesn't matter. The old way was fine, and the new way is fine. Let's toss a coin, wrap this up and rechannel all of this energy to content or something in the real world. --Butseriouslyfolks 03:58, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. There is a difference, but not significant enough that merging would confuse more than the present 2. As long as NOR remains, whether as an example of a broader policy or a specific part, policy understanding and reading is more probable.--In1984 05:28, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. More precise, more maintainable, more accurate. Marskell 07:38, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. Coherent, shorter, more accurate, more succinct, easier to grasp (especially for new users), easier to maintain its parts conflict free, old NOR/V parts linked into their own section without breaking those links, I only see pluses. Crum375 10:17, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. They are very closely related, and having the policies spread over so many pages just makes it more confusing. ElinorD (talk) 10:44, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. Support full merger 101%. - Denny 19:35, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. The concepts are separable but intertwined, and having them on one page shows the relationship clearly; plus one policy page is easier to maintain, easier to read. SlimVirgin (talk) 19:39, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

If they remain merged, should WP:RS remain merged with them?[edit]

  • Keep WP:RS along with V and NOR as in-depth explorations of their subtopics, but make sure that ATT accounts for the basics of RS to the extent they are relevant to RS (and that NPOV do likewise to the extent that RS issues are relevant to NPOV; i.e., just make of these things agree with each other). — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:15, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
    • Hear, hear! "Keep WP:RS along with V and NOR as in-depth explorations" but put the top-level information in ATT. I like the idea of being able to point to ATT in a revert's edit summary, and let the editor of the reverted content follow links from ATT to RS or wherever to find out how they can do better. --Jdlh | Talk 08:51, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I do not think WP:RS should remain merged with them. WP:RS is sufficiently complex and controversial that it really should have its own page for us to try to improve it on.
That said, if WP:RS is to be merged with something, I think it should be merged with WP:NPOV, not WP:ATT. If well-rewritten, it could fill in a gap in WP:NPOV - figuring out what due weight is - as well as providing further clarification on the difference between facts and opinions.
Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 01:16, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
agreed RS needs to exist as a clear guideline. muddling it into ATT just prevents a clear policy. Betacommand (talkcontribsBot) 02:26, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. Wikipedia:Reliable sources is the correct place to hold Wikipedia's institutional memory of past debates and decisions about which sources are not reliable. We have a spam blacklist and we need a sources blacklist for unreliable sources that are frequently cited by Wikipedians. There are many sources that are biased and cannot be trusted and we need tools to blacklist them from use at Wikipedia. I'm skeptical of the idea that a few examples of unreliable sources as part of subpage (Wikipedia:Attribution/FAQ) should replace a function that can be served by Wikipedia:Reliable sources. Rather than put discussion of reliable sources on the page of that name, we are told it is "better" to spread that discussion out over WP:A and a subpage. That only serves to dilute and hide the process by which Wikipedians battle POV pushers who continually cite unreliable sources. --JWSchmidt 02:37, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I concur with JWSchmidt's points here as well. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 04:18, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. WP:RS must be related to whatever policy be via Wikipedia:Summary style, but rewritten: it has two distinct parts: policyish and guidelineish. This distinction must be drawn clearer, to decrease the amount of possible dispute. `'mikka 04:35, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No, as they have different functions. WP:ATT (or alternatively WP:V and WP:NOR) are core content policies that must be followed in articles. WP:RS, on the other hand, is a guideline; it's helpful to users in understanding what kind of sources are appropriate, but it isn't necessarily as central to the running of Wikipedia. Also, WP:RS contains a lot of detail, that could potentially make WP:ATT excessively lengthy and confusing for readers. Walton Vivat Regina! 09:52, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • RS was not policy and was in a very poor state to say the least. The current verison of WP:RS is actually the result of the work done at WP:ATT. We took a totally messed up, verbose guideline and made it compatible with V and OR. Then we added all the details and examples and placed the in WP:ATTFAQ. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 12:27, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I have to quibble with Jossi's statement a bit... I would say that the concept of having reliable sources is policy - as it is mentioned as being a key concept on all of the policy pages we are discussing. What isn't policy is the guideline page: "Wikipedia:Reliable sources" - that page is only a guideline ... this is an important distinction. One problem with V and NOR was that while they mention the need for reliable sources they don't really give an explanation of what that phrase means or how to determine what a reliable source is. The WP:RS guideline was created to fill in this omission. The ATT Policy, on the other hand, does give a clearer explanation of what we mean by Reliable Source(especially when you add in the attendant FAQ page). So... I would say that the CONCEPT of RS should indeed be part of ATT. The ATT/FAQ page should be worked on and eventually promoted to a guideline status firmly under the ATT banner. If we keep ATT, then I do not see the need for the WP:RS guideline... However, if we go back to V and NOR, then we should keep WP:RS as a guideline to explain the concept. Blueboar 13:08, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I agree completely with Jossi on this — no more to add. --Mel Etitis (Talk) 10:07, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Oppose Merge - No need to repeat what my fellow thinkers have to say.Bakaman 23:49, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. If they remain merged, RS is quite a different topic. Merging that with this loses is value, I believe. And merging is a very drastic and sudden change of Wikipedia that is too disturbing. Oppose merge. -- Andy W. (talk/contrb.) 23:57, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Probably not. RS is sort of a HOWTO on the topic of fulfilling ATT / V+NOR. On the other hand, ATT should make more than a passing reference to the concepts of RS, and in fact, the idea of RS should be made plain in ATT as policy, while the execution of RS should be in the RS guideline. Merging the two promotes RS to policy status, and that promotion should have a discussion all to itself before such a merger takes place. --DachannienTalkContrib 00:34, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
    • I should clarify this by saying that my suggestion goes a bit beyond that of a simple merger and into that of changing policy. Discussion of adoption of ATT should be very clear on that point if any of RS is included in it. --DachannienTalkContrib 01:04, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No I was torn about this, since ATT should include a requirement that sources be reliable. After some thought, and originally considering Yes, I came to a conclusion. What is really needed is 3 pages: Why we cite sources (WP:ATT), How to cite sources (WP:CITE), and What sources we should cite (WP:RS). These three pages should be internally cross referenced so people are directed to read all three, but since all 3 serve a different purpose, we should maintain all 3 seperately. --Jayron32|talk|contribs 02:01, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No, per several views above. ATT needs to say that we should cite reliable sources, but what a reliable source is should be a separate guideline. →Ollie (talkcontribs) 03:12, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
The poll comes later; now is time to discuss the proposal.--Jorfer 04:58, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Merge because the concepts are related. A tabbed page will nicely tie all these tightly related topics together on single reference page. I wish that MediaWiki supported article embedding, to trivially embed existing articles into a new master page in tabs, without any need to delete the original pages. This would eliminate the merge debate altogether. --Lexein 12:08, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No: RS is intended to be a guideline. Yes, it is a derivate from V/NOR, but these ones are policies. What I mean is that RS is a user-friendly way to help new wikipedians, for example, to better understand what to do or not. --Neigel von Teighen | help with arbs? 12:38, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. RS is a sufficiently important and distinct topic that it should remain separate. TomTheHand 14:28, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No; inclined at this time to keep RS separate. It's intuitively a different topic, since it's about the sources, not the process of verifying and researching one's subject. I suppose I could be persuaded otherwise but I think we're better off in the long run with RS a separate page. Antandrus (talk) 19:52, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. Reliability is different than verifiability or original research. Ezratrumpet 23:20, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Merge. Verifiability and attribution mean something only if you define what a reliable source is. — AdiJapan  01:41, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. This does not contradict my misgivings about the whole idea (see previous section). I consider RS essentially a subset of V, so a merger works; my only real misgivings are about merging OR and V, but that doesn't affect this question. YechielMan 05:36, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Merge Reliable sources and attribution belong together. Sander123 08:15, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. V, NOR and RS should be merged. They make up a single logical unit: "All statements should be directly and explicitly attributed to reliable secondary sources." Itayb 19:19, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. Far easier for us to have the one, unified source to go to. 199.243.154.46 20:47, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. They are distinct policies. Per Jimmy wales, leave them separated. They provide much better context and remains less burdensome for the reader to have them separate. ~ UBeR 22:21, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. Reliability is not doctrinal and should not be enforcable in the way that policy can be. Different sources have different levels of reliability subject to their own characteristics and the use which is made of them and even the topic area within which one is operating. Efforts to migrate RS away from a doctrinal and rigid approach were strongly resisted by some segments of the community, to the detriment of the support available to editors. WP:RS does need some considerable work, but it should be treated as a tool to support editors. Some topic areas suit a more doctrinal approach, others benefit from a more pragmatic and informed approach to source assessment.ALR 08:23, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. It would make it easier to have a one-stop-shop with all of the editing info we would need. And "easier for us to have the one, unified source to go to". Haseo9999 19:13, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. In fact, between NOR and RS, RS is the one that should be merged with V first. If you need to unmerge, try unmerging NOR. Original research other than pure ideas requires verifiability and reliability, too, simply a different type (primary, secondary, and tertiary all being available to OR). That may cause some difficulty in merging the policy. I think it would work better explaining it all together under one policy.--In1984 05:39, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes here too. One of the big problems with V as a policy is that it long relied on the hard to maintain, often sloppy, RS guideline. Note that ATT/FAQ is actually the primary merge target here. Marskell 10:47, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. For many of the reasons above. - O^O 22:56, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Does the present text of WP:ATT in general come close to representing present policy and practice without changing them?[edit]

  • I would say that it definitely does come close ... and may even improve understanding. One advantage of the merger was that extraneous verbage that had worked itself into the old policy pages could be made more concise and clearer in the new merged version. Blueboar 19:04, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, not only that, but work was done to fine-tune the wording so that the principles of V and NOR were better expressed. In addition, the mess at RS was resolved by making the principles behind RS compatible with policy. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:57, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, I agree with Jossi and Blueboar. Guettarda 23:27, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Again, yes. I have not seen any complaints made about the actual policy contained in WP:A that was not simply a reiteration of an older complaint about WP:V or WP:NOR. I also gave all three a thorough readthrough when the merger was announced, and found no complaints to make but a couple swiftly-repaired typos. --tjstrf talk 23:36, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Apparently you have not seen the complaint I raised at Wikipedia talk:Attribution#Role of truth and which has also been raised by others; I put a note on your talk page explaining it. --Coppertwig 22:02, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Or perhaps it has been seen and, because you are being shrill and troll-like, your complaints are being ignored? Just a thought. Marskell 22:06, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I'm not sure. The spirit was more clear in WP:V and WP:OR, in my opinion. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 23:45, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
This is already a subject of discussion at Wikipedia talk:Attribution and is slated for further investigation at Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll. I don't see the point of this thread existing here on this odd page. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:11, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
This is a better place to discuss it than the dribs and drabs at WT:ATT, In particular, I hope Mikkalai will be clear in distinguishing between where he disagrees with existing policy (below); and where he agrees with existing policy but thinks WP:ATT is changing it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:15, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Mikkalai will only be clear in his effort of picking at defects in any text at hand, but I see it pointless to do a "vdiff" of two imperfect texts. Besides, I do not express any disagreement with any of the policies. So far I expressed disagreements with language and structuring of them. `'mikka 04:59, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't see any compelling reason not to do that at WP:ATT's talk page, where these issues have already been open and discussed, and remain unresolved. Forking a new thread on another page is "better" how, exactly? — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:28, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm sorry to hear that. The discussion at WT:ATT is already fragmented, and will be continually further divided by discussions of subway stations, and wording changes for ATT which have nothing to do with the questions raised here. Does any else agree with S McCandlish's merge proposal? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:36, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, and, in fact, is in some ways even more clear than the original. Jayjg (talk) 00:16, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • The current version of ATT is clear, concise, easier to understand that the previous text spread over three pages on V, NOR, and RS, and yet is entirely consistent with them, both in letter and spirit. It's a vast improvement, and people are happily linking to it and quoting it in support of their edits. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:43, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Close, yes. I think Wikipedia talk:Attribution already identifies issues, and I see that below one of the disagreements has already been re-raised here. I don't have any fear that the issues will not be dealt with in usual WP fashion. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:17, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, but this means not much positive besides that some people did a good job. The questions remain whether this job was useful, whether the job of restructuring may be done even better, whether the job decreased the uncertainties of the original policies, and whether this version is mature enough to be declared a new/replacement/whatever policy `'mikka 04:59, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. The current text of ATT represents current practise and policy extremely well, and is much clearer than having text spread across three pages (V, NOR, and RS) that were time-consuming to maintain, and confusing for editors, particularly new ones. In addition, the titles of NOR and V caused confusion. Some people thought that "no original research" meant no research at all, which of course is absurd, and others thought "verify" meant they were expected to find out whether particular claims were true, rather than simply attributed. It was for both those reasons — ease of access on one page and clarity of title — that the move to Wikipedia:Attribution was made and it turned out to be very popular. As I've said elsewhere, I've had more e-mails (positive ones) about this issue than about any other single issue since I joined Wikipedia nearly two and a half years ago. SlimVirgin (talk) 06:30, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, on the whole. In fundamental content there is little difference between this and the earlier policies. However, I think that WP:RS should be separated, for the sake of clarity, concise expressionm and separation of policy and guideline. Walton Vivat Regina! 09:54, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. This is my answer to the question above, because this seems to be set up like a poll. Any discussion of this topic is supposed to take place at Wikipedia talk:Attribution#Role of truth at least for now unless the discussion is moved elsewhere. (I am relatively neutral about where the discussion takes place; I said it would be on this page; someone else moved it there.) However, I feel my answer to the above question belongs here. My answer is: No, it is not a fair representation of the policies; it contains a very basic, fundamental flaw: the new proposed wording at WP:ATT says "not whether it is true" without balancing this with a word such as "verifiability", thus it invites editors to knowingly insert false (but attributable) statements -- something the longstanding policies did not do. I have a strong objection about this. --Coppertwig 01:22, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Coppertwig: Please do not delete or move material from this page. It is disruptive and uncalled for. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:31, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
User User:Jossi, will you please demonstrate impartiality by giving the same message to the other user who moved material from this page? I was only moving material that would have been moved together with the rest if it hadn't been accidentally posted in the wrong section. I apologize for accidentally posting my message to the wrong section -- I don't know how that happened. If anyone moves the discussion back here, (preferably moving all the comments back here that were posted here,) I would welcome that. I've been advised not to make edits without clear consensus first or I'd move it back myself. --Coppertwig 01:41, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Further comment: The fact that multiple editors do believe it has made fundamental changes to policy indicates that WP:ATT's language does not have consensus yet, and these concerns should be addressed with discussion and resolution (and, this is not the same concern as to whether the merger of multiple policies into ATT is a good idea). — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:33, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • The new text is clearer than the old, and the fact that some editors think that it's changed the policy says more about them than it. --Mel Etitis (Talk) 10:46, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes and no. It represents current best practice, but it promotes WP:Reliable sources to the status of a policy, rather than a guideline, by its inclusion. --DachannienTalkContrib 00:37, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, although I'm no wikilawyer, ATT covers everything in V and NOR as I understand it. The fact that others have concerns suggests that all may not be well however. I also agree with Dachannien's statement re. raising RS to a policy. →Ollie (talkcontribs) 03:22, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. I agree that it's even an improvement. -- Jitse Niesen (talk) 08:49, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, iff we keep RS as guideline. If RS is promoted to policy, then, we'll have a problem: decide what to merge where. --Neigel von Teighen | help with arbs? 12:41, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • To answer the question, no, because RS has been promoted to the status of a policy. But this is a clear improvement and had to be done. The concept of attribution is defined based on what reliable sources are. Look at the old policies, WP:V and WP:NOR: Both rely heavily on the notion of reliable sources. — AdiJapan  02:06, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No, because I agree with AdiJapan's remarkably candid admission: WP:ATT implicitly makes WP:RS a rigid requirement, despite the fact that the vast majority of Wikipedia's current content is undersourced. Although WP:ATT comes close to representing present policy, it does not represent prevailing practice. The two diverge in that the policy is widely, though tacitly, interpreted as encouraging editors to tolerate unsourced but undisputed content, while challenging sourced but flagrantly non-credible content. That practice is wrongly deprecated by WP:ATT's change in emphasis. Lethiere 01:28, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. ATT elevates the reliability of sources, an inherently subjective activity, to the level of policy without recognition that reliability varies subject to topic area, usage and context. No guidance exists for the enforcement of reliability as policy.ALR 08:27, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
I have to disagree with the last few comments. The requirement that articles be backed by reliable sources is prominently stated in both NOR and V (and NPOV) ... there has not been an "elevation" of RS to policy status - it always was part of Policy. What may have changed is the emphysis and language used to define the term "reliable sources". That, perhaps, could be improved upon... but it is somewhat misleading to say that "ATT elevates RS to Policy". I have written more on this below. Blueboar 12:42, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Blueboar, at the moment nearly 50% of ATT talks about reliability, if ATT is a policy then that makes the discussion mandatory and enforcable notwithstanding the opportunity of WP:IAR, if Reliability has not been elevated to policy then what's the content doing in a policy statement? The current wording in ATT itself appears to go further than V or NOR went in the past, taking in some of what was in RS. That's elevation in my book.
The relationship of the FAQ with policy or guideline is unclear at present, if it remains tied to ATT then it's policy, if it's not policy then it should sit in its own right as guidance. The wording of the FAQ does tend more towards guidance at the moment but it should have a clear place in the hierarchy, at the moment it doesn't.
ALR 14:36, 27 March 2007 (UTC)


If it is not attributed, delete it[edit]

  • NO. As important as attribution is, it should never be used as a weapon to destroy an article. I see this happen a lot. Attribution should always take second seat to the cohesiveness of the article as a whole. Sue Rangell[citation needed] 03:09, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I don't think so. The majority of (non-vandal) article edits I see are about accuracy, challenges to accuracy, and external sources used to justify edits. WP:ATT comes too close to "if it is not attributed delete it" and "don't worry if the result is misleading or inaccurate, just worry about attribution" --Henrygb 13:20, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
    • That would be a bad thing, as I said above. I have tried to keep such wording out of WP:ATT. What more changes do we need? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:58, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
      • Put into WP:ATT#No_original_research This qualification from the first paragraph of WP:OR — or which, in the words of Wikipedia's co-founder Jimmy Wales, would amount to a "novel narrative or historical interpretation." --Philip Baird Shearer 21:34, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Some time ago I raised the list of Danny Boy#Recordings at Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Archive 1#This is an unnecessary and harmful change. It is a useful list contributed one edit at a time, typical of many similar articles. It looks to me as if someone could use the current project page to condemn the list as being unattributed, original research, based on primary sources or unpublished synthesis of published material; I would disagree but this page actually makes it harder to disagree. Just trying to verify the first three, Joan Baez, Harry Belafonte and Brobdingnagian Bards, plus personal knowledge, much of list looks reasonable.--Audiovideo 15:27, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
    • I disagree. First, I would argue that lists of things should be in most cases cited, one by one. This is something that people recognize; Wookiepedian has done a hero's job of citing many, of the entries on List of Princeton University people (edits). And these collections are not origional research unless there is synthesis; to use the example above, the list of Princeton University people, the list does not say "And because all these senators went to Princeton, Princeton must produce really awesome people" or, alternatively, "..., Princeton is obviously part of the dark conspiracy bent described here bent on controlling the world" - THAT would be original research, and I think the section "Unpublished synthesis of published material" makes that distinction clear. The only quesiton is whether this would lead to thousands of vendettas against any uncited fact, because I agree that this might be harmful (see comments below). Sirmob 13:39, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Although there is agreement to the principles, there is no agreement really on the detailed proper meaning of OR, or the definition of how much N needs to be sourced to justify a stub, or many other matters. The debates at AfD make this evident. There is therefore probably something to be gained by separating the principles from the details; just as the various subpages of N had the details, and just as the RS page can be seen as a more specifically detailed discussion. I think keeping the basic material together at one place will probably facilitate it. The literal following of JW's advice would delete half the encyclopedia. The use of it as a general principle is however very valuable. DGG 03:22, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Sort of - I think I agree with DGG on this. It seems like the actual result of the old attribution policy (WP:V and friends) and this attribution policy is that you can't argue against deleting unverifiable information and win, usually - I think the difference at work here is whether to take this as a moral imperative: "I must destroy all uncited information," or merely strong permission: "If something seems problematic, and is not cited, I have full license to remove it, and doing so is probably a good idea." The former could be harmful, the latter is important - it puts the burden of proof on whoever wants to add information. I say this knowing that I'd probably have to put some work into citing things (lists of people especially) - but it's a good idea. Sirmob 13:39, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No... unless this were to apply to a small subset of articles (say, biographies of living people) which had neither a references section nor an external link which was used as a source; and even in this case, we would need a list of such pages with a sufficiently lengthy time for people to be able to come up with sources. We could haggle over the time (two months? six?) Antandrus (talk) 19:55, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Can we force a good-faith effort to have the deleting party find sources? Probably not, so I can't support this. It's much easier to remove content than build it, and we're here for the latter. --badlydrawnjeff talk 20:00, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • It depends. Any negative material about a living person not attributed to a definitely reliable source should be immediately removed. Also see WP:BLP. Beyond that, it depends on the doubtfulness of the statement. In most cases, I would say it is best to add a {{fact}} tag, along with the date it was tagged. WP:CITE#Tagging_unsourced_material provides guidance on this matter. I should also note that I've seen this matter discussed on WT:CITE more than once. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 20:12, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No- We would then have to delete all of Miami Vice, which contains a lot of good material that many would not challenge. If we deleted all unsourced information on biographies of living people then we would be missing large pieces of Elián González. I think that information should only be removed if someone challenges it and is unable to find a source or while someone is finding a source for a living person.--Jorfer 03:06, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • It depends As has been pointed out, there are important special cases like WP:BLP. Aside from those, I believe unsourced plausible content should generally be subject to challenge rather than immediate deletion. Such content should be identified as unsourced using maintenance tags, an opportunity offered to source it, and then deleted if not souced after some reasonable period of time. This gives challenging editors a certain degree of discretion based on their view of how plausible the content is. In an edit dispute, challengers who think the added content is complete nonsense would be within their rights to delete it, and this means that contentious edit disputes should result in especially well-sourced articles, which is an appropriate outcome. However, an editor who's simply attempting to do clean-up should point out the lack of sources and provide an opportunity for sources to be provided. --Shirahadasha 03:56, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    • Comment: Assuming the maintenance tag concept remains, it might be useful to have a template to implement maintenance tags that would have a way of identifying the beginning as well as the end of specific statements or parts of paragraphs which a challenger is claiming are unsourced. Sometimes in contentious articles one needs to identify something very specific and a tag that's only added to the end can be ambiguous as to where the unsourced part begins. Best, --Shirahadasha 03:56, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No Articles should be improved, not razed. If a statement is questionable, tag it and/or discuss it on the talk page, then possibly delete it. If it it looks accurate and bona-fide, let it stand until a substantiated objection is made; in the meantime look for references and urge other editors to do so. If deleting on principle is made policy, it will just give excuse to critics to maul articles without doing any work improving them: the easy road to take. The whole idea of the wiki is for editors to do constructive edits, not just boss others around. We already have too many one-uppers around here, and too few contributors. Freederick 10:47, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes and No. IMO, deleting an unattributed statement without warning is a violation of WP's "work together" ethic. On the other hand, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary sources", and such unattributed (or only weakly attributed) claims ought to be removed.
    But there is a "middle-way" that is compliant with both aspects of WP policy: Extraordinary claims could be flagged for a certain period (say, two weeks) but after which the problem statement could be removed without repercussions.
    Along these lines, I suggest a new {{extraordinary|auto-remove-after=xxxx|statement requiring extraordinary sources goes here}} to bridge the gap. -- Fullstop 10:46, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • If it's not attributable, delete it.AdiJapan  16:13, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Not just no, hell no. Unless someone—or, more to the point, several thousand someones—feels like taking on the responsibility of re-researching almost everything that predates our current level of demand for citation. - Jmabel | Talk 17:57, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. All statements should be directly and explicitly attributed to reliable secondary sources. If they are not attributable, they amount to original-research, and the only way to prove attributability is by actually attributing. Itayb 21:45, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. Commonsense and well-known statements often do not need attribution, such as an article with a line saying "George W. Bush won the 2000 presidential election" or "United States is in North America". Wooyi 21:41, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No, because we would lose vast swathes of valuable and accurate content written under more lax sourcing rules. Something being attributable is different than it being attributed, only failure of the first is reason for deletion in most cases, failure of the second is only a reason for deletion if it is causing problems. --tjstrf talk 21:50, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes Unless its something of common knowledge. I'd question all these people who say that articles should be improved instead of cut up. If huge amounts of unattributed information are being added to articles, the article isn't being improved. Being that verifiability is a founding principle of wikipedia leaving unsourced information in articles because you want it to be a better read is abhorrible. If something is plausible, tag it and give it 3 days. Otherwise remove it now or in 3 days. This damages wikipedia and gives garbage a foothold.--Crossmr 23:03, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Most will agree it is more harmful to succumb to the curse of traditional sources of information which is being limited in the available knowledge. Wikipedia is only useful if it can contribute more information with a more user friendly interface then traditional encyclopedias; this is the niche it must fill or be lost to history as a failed social experiment. Anyone can go look up something on Encarta if they wanted a more reliable source, but if you wanted easy access to an article on your local high school or why .999... = 1, you would be at a loss. Unique and not easily accesible information is what brings people to Wikipedia, and while it is nice for information to be sourced, deleting much of what makes Wikipedia great is a big mistake.--Jorfer 23:27, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No, I sometimes add {{fact}} tags where I know the information is true and uncontroversial, but where I feel a citation could be helpful to readers who want more information. Too many editors treat these tags as if they said "delete me"; a licence to remove information without really thinking about it. That is a simplistic approach, and to my mind, a bit of a cop-out. If we want to implement some auto-delete-after-a-certain-date policy, then that needs a different tag. {{Fact}} has a much richer set of uses than that. Fuzzypeg 01:03, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No, for the reasons stated by Freederick. I emphatically object to WP:ATT being construed, by those who agree with Itayb, to grant fresh authorization to delete undersourced content (rather than tagging it) unless it is disputed as inaccurate, libelous, or misleading. Lethiere 01:28, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No , too many Stub articles will be bye bye hehe Ammar 01:03, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Sort of. I fear the implications of saying if it's attributable, you can keep it. How do you prove that the existence of the tooth fair isn't attributable to a source? I can see a problem with POV-pushing in that respect. Olin 01:41, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Sometimes. Obviously, unsourced information that is defamatory or obviously POV should be deleted straight away; this shouldn't just apply to living persons, but to all persons and organisations, past or present. However, I disagree with the idea of deleting everything that has no sources; sometimes the original author, or someone else, will add sources later, and we have to remember that there is no deadline. So if it looks plausible and NPOV, then give it the benefit of the doubt, and add a {{fact}} tag. Walton Vivat Regina! 08:13, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No Excessivly doctrinal. Flagging exists to draw attention to uncited statements which may or may not be accurate subject to sourcing. Editorial discretion is required for appropriate use.ALR 08:30, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No This would almost eliminate embryonic development of articles. Orderinchaos78 10:33, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No Collaborative writing of articles demands that at some point, there will be unattributed statements in articles. {{fact}} is useful as a placeholder for statements that still need to be sourced. It could mean that someone is putting the article up first, with the intention of going back to add the source later. For example, in my case as a former U.S. Senate employee, there are certain factual or anecdotal things I personally know regarding how the Senate operates. Since it isn't always possible to immediately find an attributable source other than my own memory, {{fact}} is a useful placeholder and notifies readers that "we're working on it." That being said, I think "trust but verify" should be the standard. If an editor sees an unattributed source, maybe they should do more than add {{fact}} or delete it. If he or she has time, then verify the statement and add citation accordingly.Dcmacnut 18:57, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. (Except maybe in a WP:BRD sense, when tagging - see below - does not work.) — Sebastian 20:05, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Sometimes. This has to be assessed on a case by case basis. However, if anybody takes issue with an uncited fact, it should be deletable without discussion. --Butseriouslyfolks 04:04, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. It would create more problems than it solves. It would destroy most stubs, and hamper collaborative efforts.Slackerlawstudent
  • No. I think that my general outlook on the removal or deletion of any material holds water in most of these cases. Deletion (of articles or material from an article) should be reserved for material that cannot satisfy the requirements laid out for reliable, verifiable, attributed sources; not for material that simply does not currently satisfy the requirement. There's a big difference between an unsourced statement, and an unsourceable one. There are, however, in my opinion, exceptions to this general rule: I think that being bold in removing likely vandalism, hoaxes or contentious material about living persons is required for the smooth operation of the encyclopedia. In general, however, I think we should consider the long view, that articles tend to improve over time, and sources may not be close-at-hand for every editor. I myself have added statements without sourcing, hit up the library the next day and gone back to add the references. For sources that aren't readily availible online, the editing and the sourcing cannot be concurrent, unless you do the research first and then bring it home (or to a computer) to edit, which isn't the way most editors I know do their work, they write and source as they go. Wintermut3 10:00, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, if it's challenged - We don't want to remote all unattributed information (what would be left?), but anything that's challenged should require attribution. Guanxi 15:58, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Usually not, but sometimes definitely. Generally no. There are tons of "unattributed" info at WP that eventually will be attributed. But if the information violates WP:BLP or isinflammatory, challenged or otherwise controversial and compromises the integrity of WP, remove it. But only under contentious circumstances. Generally apply WP:SNOW.--Esprit15d (talk ¤ contribs) 19:54, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

If it is not attributed, tag it[edit]

After an appropriate grace time (for WP:BIO maybe a week, in standard cases maybe two months) it can be deleted. We could even automatize the deletion with a bot. (That would require some beginning tag, so the bot knows where to begin deleting. That would ultimately allow us to create lists of tagged statements; I can imagine that some people could specialize in finding references for them.) Grace time for bot deletion should be twice as long as for manual deletion.

  • ProposedSebastian 20:05, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. Second best after "If it is not attributed, delete it". This way readers are being warned of fiction and original research, and editors are (hopefully) shamed into form by seeing their contributions tagged as dubious. Itayb 21:00, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. Policy tells us that there is no deadline for improving articles. Unsourced information that is not immediately harmful or obviously POV should be tagged with a {{fact}} tag on individual statements, or the article or section should be tagged as unsourced. Unsourced information that is defamatory, POV, or misleading should be deleted straight away. The stated figure of a week is completely arbitrary. Walton Vivat Regina! 14:56, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. (I've posted a similar statement in the previous section) Tagging an article may often be aimed at constructive elaboration of an article, rather than destructive removal of information. A {{fact}} tag doesn't necessarily mean that the statement is challenged, just that it could do with a citation! WP:A states that lack of citations should not be cause for disruption by removing easily attributable material: "If you encounter a harmless statement that lacks attribution, you can tag it with the {{fact}} template". These tags serve a useful purpose in expanding articles. If we want an auto-delete-after-specific-date tag (reducing articles), that would have a very different use and a new tag would need to be invented. Fuzzypeg 22:31, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, as an encouraged alternative but editors should still be able to delete non-attributed content. Just say something like, 'it's preferred that you tag it, and give other editors a chance to find a citation'. No to auto-deletions -- the need for deletion varies depending on the information, the article, the contentiousness, etc. Guanxi 16:07, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

Verifiability, not truth[edit]

WP:VERIFY WP:ATTRIBUTE
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. "Verifiable" in this context means that any reader should be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source. The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is whether material is attributable to a reliable published source, not whether it is true.
In reply to tjstrf: No, that wording has essentially the same problem. The problem is that "not truth" implies two things: (1) true but unattributable material is unacceptable and (2) false but attributable material is acceptable. The second of these is undesirable. As far as the second item is concerned, it would be best to say nothing about truth, and let people use common sense and the status quo in trying to decide whether a Wikipedian writing a Wikipedia article means what that one says.
The word "verifiability" contains the idea of "truth" in its definition, so it negates the second item. If "verifiability" is taken away, something else needs to replace it; unless there is a consensus that when someone knowingly writes false statements into a Wikipedia article, as plain statements without prose attribution, they are actually helping to write the encyclopedia; is anyone willing to admit that they support that? And if so, what do you think the ultimate purpose of Wikipedia is? I mean, if you think the purpose of Wikipedia is to write a summary of what's in the literature regardless of whether it conforms to reality, then what is the purpose of writing such a summary? To complete homework assignments with the purpose of getting good marks regardless of whether one learns anything useful? To leave a record, after our civilization falls, of the falsehoods we believed so that some later civilization can learn from our mistakes? Or what?
I think the purpose of Wikipedia is to provide information that conforms to reality a large proportion of the time, and that requiring attribution is merely a method of trying to achieve that goal. --Coppertwig 18:51, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I deny that Wikipedia's sense of verifiability ever implied "truth"; it implies that the sourcing of our assertions was verifiable. WP:V did, and does, say so at some length. Our only hope to conform to reality is the faith that our sources conform to reality; if they err, we must. (To some extent, this can be avoided by choosing better sources; by acknowledging, exempli gratia, that a newspaper, however reliable on other days of the year, is not a reliable source when it prints flying reindeer stories; but this is a minor point.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:18, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Ever? Try [1] when WP:V became policy. It said "accuracy" and I can live with that, but verifiability was all about being able to check facts. --Henrygb 22:32, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia's "sense of verifiability" may not imply "truth", but that of its readership does. People don't resort to an encyclopedia because they believe it offers information on a given topic that is "attributable", but because they believe they can rely upon it to be correct -- i.e., as close to truth as any accessible source can get. Since Wikipedia encourages readers to use it as they would an encyclopedia, it has a responsibility either to attempt to meet that expectation or to downmarket itself as a product (but so far I haven't seen any disclaimers saying, "You must check the footnotes for each statement you read in Wikipedia, and believe what it says only if you are convinced the footnote is of sufficiently high quality"). When a WP editor is constrained by policy to leave sourced but known falsehood in, while taking known but unsourced truth out, Wikipedia content will fail to pass the "smell test", and be useless for what readers come to it for. Lethiere 01:28, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Agree that the wording does leave the idea that: "(2) false but attributable material is acceptable." and this has bothered me, so I will speak out now that it has been brought up in this context. I understand that you can't claim truth without references, but you can't claim something you believe to be false is really true, just because you have references. And if you have a reference you believe is wrong, you don't have to include it (although I have seen arguments to the contrary). I think the concept of "verifiability, not truth" needs to be reworked. Dhaluza 20:47, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree in principle with what Coppertwig is saying here, however, lets look at it this way. Consider this wording: "Truth is a necessary but not sufficient criteria for the inclusion of information in Wikipedia. Where any statement of objective fact is added to an article, such statement must be attributed to a reliable source" That seems to capture the essence of the "Verifiability, not truth" idea, without its inherent problems. --Jayron32|talk|contribs 02:13, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

In editing articles relating to religion, I see aa great deal of value to the statement that the issue is not truth but attributable info. We can argue endlessly (for example) over whether the doctrine of the Trinity is true; what is attributable is that it is a Christian doctrine that states X. People often want to make that case that such and such POV is "true" when dealing with religion articles, and the fact is that that point is irrelevent to an encyclopedia (in the sense that they mean). -- Pastordavid 02:04, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

While we can argue about the truth of Trinity, there's absolutely no arguing about the truth of the statement "it is a Christian doctrine that states X". Correspondingly, the article should say precisely that and we should be relentless in making sure that no such article goes towards a presentation of the reality of Trinity. Pascal.Tesson 07:11, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • The best would be to promote intellectual honesty: verifiablity + as most accuracy as possible. If something happens to be false, another user will correct it. --Neigel von Teighen | help with arbs? 12:45, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I've always had a problem with this wording. I understand the intent, but the "not truth" wording encourages trolls. It also fails to deal with what one is often, inevitably, up against on even moderately obscure topics: how to weigh conflicting evidence, which often comes down to what should be said in the article versus what belongs in a footnote. See the birth date of Magda Lupescu for a good example of what I mean. - Jmabel | Talk 18:02, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • "Attributability, not truth". "Verifiability, not truth" is an oximoron. Itayb 19:28, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No as stated by Jmabel. I support Jayron32|Jayron32's point as the fix: Let's keep WP:ATT, but qualify the "no truth" clause to read, "attributability, not solely truth..." Lethiere 01:28, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I agree with Itayb. "Verifiability", in normal English usage, implies "something that can be shown to be true". Therefore, "verifiability, not truth" makes little sense to a non-Wikipedian. IMHO we should try to keep Wikipolicyspeak as close to normal English usage as possible. Walton Vivat Regina! 08:14, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • yes and no sorry for a confusing answer tag on this one, but I think the nature of the material matters. Relying solely on verifiability without regard to empirical truth can lead to undue weight being placed on false information that is commonly disseminated. On the other hand, information does not need to be true to be important, especially in the case of articles on some topics (pseudoscience, alternative medicine, ect.) where the claims are not accepted by the mainstream but are nonetheless important and encyclopedic. Wintermut3 10:11, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

"Verifiable" is a bad word[edit]

As far as I can tell, the word "verifiable" in Wikipedia has come to imply the word "attributable". I believe here people began using "verifiable" to mean "verifiable by a google search", and then this evolved into "verifiable using reliable sources," and finally this was shortened to "verifiable".
Unfortunately, whether Wikipedia says so or not, I can verify that I have ten fingers, I can verify that the sun rose today, and I can also verify that paper cuts often hurt. To people in the real world, these are easily "verifiable" facts. But they are not so easy to attribute to a published source, though; and crucially, one would not so easily claim these points to be "attributable".
If there is a conceptual difference between "attributable to a reliable source" and "verifiable using a reliable source", it seems small. The important point I am trying to make, though, is that when you shorten the phrase "attributable to a reliable source" to a single word: "attributable", you get much closer to the implied meaning.
Anyway, i think wikipedians use the word "verifiable" a lot, and i think it would make things much clearer if they used "attributable" instead. Mlm42 17:02, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
It has too many letters to be a bad word. :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 18:08, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
This statement is gold. If Wikipedia wants to be taken seriously as an encyclopedia, Attributable must replace verifiable.--ZayZayEM 06:09, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
What do you think about attribution to a seriously flawed source?--Bejnar 09:06, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
If done properly, the fact that the source was seriously flawed would be apparent to the reader. The people who keep bringing up this complaint are ignoring that a statement does not magically "become attributed" in a vacuum: you actually have to say who the source is, and why they are relevant. Sure, under WP:A someone could hypothetically add "According to South American KKK divisional leader and political activist John Doe, the Native Peruvians are half-llama weremen who transform under the light of a one-quarter waxing moon." and be within policy (assuming John Doe had in fact made that statement), but the statement would be obviously ludicrous to any rational reader. This is the entire point of attribution: if we divulge who makes what claim, then people can make informed judgments between conflicting ideas. --tjstrf talk 09:17, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
However I think more clarification is needed. People will delete sources they can't find through google or a direct URL link. John Smith's 11:58, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
The implication above that a sourced false statement isn't a problem because people can look at the source and judge for themselves is *wrong* when you look at actual examples.
The examples I've brought up are the covered bridge example and the Talk:Sacha_Baron_Cohen#include_Persian_descent example. There is nothing about any of those sources which would indicate to any reader that the statements are obviously ludicrous. Any typical reader would think that an article about a noncontroversial bridge, or the Guardian newspaper, would be a legitimate source. They certainly aren't obviously bad in the same way "South American KKK divisional leader" is obviously bad.
I find this maddening. Everyone discusses the issue in theoretical terms and claims that this isn't a problem because certain things will happen that, when you look at *real examples*, just doesn't happen at all. Ken Arromdee 18:06, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
There is a solution; provide reproduceable evidence that the usually "reliable" source is unreliable. In both examples, actual overwhelming evidence to the contrary would be enough.
  • How can I know the covered bridge is not as the source says it is? I'm in a different state. Find a more recent source that shows otherwise.
  • As for Cohen; there are better sources than newspapers: his Who's who entry: a printed biographer, any of these. Banning the &^(^(^ nationalists would also help, but is not anything content policy can help with. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:42, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Verifiable > Sourced/referenced. I'd prefer these terms as you can have the following situation: User A uses information from a certain media W into article B. One year later, media W is deleted (if a website) or no more to find (a book)... If we use "Verifiablity", article B's information would be unverifiable, but it is referenced... attributable. Thus, I prefer to use "sourced" --Neigel von Teighen | help with arbs? 15:41, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Join the club on the good policy, bad name section on the bottom. We like Reliability and Sourcing or the name of the merged page. The second be are more generic option.--Jorfer 16:15, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
It seems to me that a lot of the original intention of Wikipedia has been lost within the details of policy sticklers and constant comparisons to mainstream encyclopedias. Much of this is due to (somewhat recent) bad press due to article inaccuracy. I thought the original intent of Wikipedia was to build an online resource which would essentially have limitless capacity for the sum of all human knowledge -- something comparable to typing a query into Google and only getting hits relevant to what you were looking for. Since anyone can edit it freely (and pretty much anonymously), of course there lies a great capacity for abuse of the editing privilege. Perhaps if this aspect of things was a little less lenient, there would be more human resources available to do proper fact-checking and attribution research. Article evolution would also likely be a little more progressive if those who are quick to point out sections that are missing or require attribution would perhaps also care to add those citations themselves rather than simply complain about them. --Thoric 15:50, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • "Attributability, not truth". "Verifiability, not truth" is an oximoron. Itayb 19:30, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Somewhat irrelevant. If it's a bad name for the policy, then change the name of the policy. It is not a good reason for merging policies. Olin 13:20, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I'm going to break with the mainstream here, I like 'verifiable' honestly. I think it's taking NOR to extremes to say that common, obvious information needs explicit referencing. There is such a thing as too many references, when you start having to back up facts like 'the sky is blue' with a link to a paper on the absorbation of light in the troposphere and 'humans have 10 fingers, barring accident or abnormality' with a page number out of Grey's Anatomy; it gets silly. To me, anything that is imminantly verifiable, to reliable sources or to common, empirical reality, is worthy of inclusion. Wintermut3 10:22, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Is "attribution" a better word?[edit]

I acknowledge that "verifiable" has problems, as detailed above. But "attribution" seems to have complementary problems. If I source some claim with "my neighbor, John Doe, address such-and-such, told me so", or even "I called Jane Dee herself and asked, and this is what she told me", by the ordinary meaning of "attribution" I have indeed attributed my claim, but it doesn't count squat for Wikipedia purposes, and rightly so. "Verifiable" alone is bad because one assumes that it is the content of the claim that must be verified, and it is not: we want the attribution to be a verifiable fact. But on the other hand, an "attribution" alone means nothing if it cannot be verified. What we need is a verifiable attribution. Can we communicate our requirements well without dropping either word? –Henning Makholm 23:22, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

At least here you are using the word "verifiable" in the way it's defined by WP:V, so yes, our new slogan should be verifiably attributable information only! :) --Merzul 23:47, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
"Verifiably attributable" is probably the real point. Again, though, I become concerned with the petty legalistic application this is liable to get. E.g., a trusted editor cites a presumably good online source; that source is later deleted and cannot be found on the Internet Archive; do we really need to put effort into re-verifying? - Jmabel | Talk 18:07, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • "Attributability, not truth". "Verifiability, not truth" is an oximoron. Itayb 19:31, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I agree with Itayb, and have in fact made this point earlier. We need to try to keep Wikipolicyspeak as close to normal English usage as possible. Walton Vivat Regina! 08:09, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Definitely not Policy and practice never line up anyways. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 12:16, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    • Was the question changed? I don't remember seeing "and practice" the first time I answered this. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 12:18, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
      • The above opinion is no longer valid in this context because the question has changed completely. Either that or I never put this in the right section to begin with. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 02:21, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes Because that is literally all this is. Often one editor adds info, and another comes back and adds a citation for it. The chance that they used the same source? Slim to none, but there has to be some attribution. Verifiability, in the truest sense of the term, doesn't always occur at Wikipedia. For example, when editors review articles for GA or FA, they don't interview the subjects, or visit the places, or watch the movies to see if the original sources are accurate in what they have reported. These reviewers only confirm that the article is well-referenced by established and respected sources. For the sheer volume of this encyclopedia, that is all we can realistically attain to. Attribution. Even if we called it something different that's all it would be. That's all it can be. And that, actually, is good standard in light of what Wikipedia seeks to be — a tome for broad human knowledge. Most magazines have a lower standard. --Esprit15d (talk ¤ contribs) 12:56, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes and it makes clearer the fact that Wikipedia has a load of good information that is not currently cited, and that this is okay. — brighterorange (talk) 18:33, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Does the present text of WP:ATT have flaws of detail?[edit]

  • Probably (although I could not give you an example off the top of my head) ... but so do all of our policies and guidelines, including those that were merged into ATT. That's why we don't slap a big DONE sign on them and close them to further editing. At least with the merger the flaws and debates about them are in one central place instead three or four... we won't have to have the same debate on three or four different pages. Blueboar 23:10, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Agree with Blueboar - not perfect, but pretty damn good. Guettarda 23:28, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Of course. Some of them may be new, and some may have been inherited from the policies and guidelines it was built on. It may also have corrected old flaws. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 23:48, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
What is the point of the question? That flaws have been identified is already evident from Wikipedia talk:Attribution. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:09, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
There is no consensus there on which are actually flaws, and there is no consensus there on which are merely flaws (as opposed to changes in policy, as per the section above. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:17, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Indeed. An assertion is not the same as a proof. Jayjg (talk) 00:22, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
So those issues should be discussed there. If they are not resolved there yet, they won't be resolved here magically. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:23, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • If it does have flaws, they're the same flaws as NOR and V, because nothing was changed. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:45, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, it has flaws (and some or all of them may be inherited from the original NOR and V policies); some but probably not all of them have been enumerated in detail at Wikipedia talk:Attribution, and discussion about them is ongoing was ongoing and in cases still is, but many of them just got archived despite not being resolved yet. Problems with policies being identified and worked out doesn't seem weird or bad to me in any way, just WP business as usual. Archiving unresolved issue that were posted about this very day does seem both weird and bad to me. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:10, 23 March 2007 (UTC) Updated 02:04, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Any flaws can be ironed out. If there are any, these came from V, NOR and RS. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:34, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Many, mucho, viel, molto, beacuop, wiele, mult, mnoho. `'mikka 05:06, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I would take a moderate stance on this issue. I don't feel that WP:ATT is inherently flawed in its wording, but I think all policies need to be open to discussion and debate. Generally, I can see both the advantages of centralising discussion in one page, and the disadvantages of cramming too much into one page. As such, I would advocate keeping WP:ATT as a replacement for WP:V and WP:NOR, but would also prefer that WP:RS be retained as a separate guideline. Walton Vivat Regina! 09:59, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes IMHO it has a serious flaw, it should be laid out more logically. Concepts should not be used before they are defined. see Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Archive 13#Primary source --Philip Baird Shearer 21:46, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. Certainly images can be used to push a point of view, whether they are manipulated or not. That section should be removed from the text.Olin 12:31, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    Copied verbatim from WP:NOR#Original_images. The idea was to not change policy. --Merzul 20:27, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Tools needed[edit]

  • Yes. Wikipedia:Attribution does not provide Wikipedians with the tools they need to:
    1) support careful fact checking,
    2) support identification of unreliable sources and their blacklisting from Wikipedia and
    3) make the needed distinctions between
    a) required secondary research for critical analysis of what cited sources say and
    b) unwanted attempts to insert original research.
    Wikipedia would be better off if it went back to its roots of developing these needed tools at Wikipedia:Reliable sources, Wikipedia:Verifiability and Wikipedia:No original research. Wikipedia:Attribution dilutes and glosses over these needs because it tries to cram too much into one page. Wikipedia:Attribution/FAQ is one clear indicator that the cramming failed. --JWSchmidt 02:56, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
If that is the case, then you need to go back and re-write WP:V and WP:NOR as this new page is just a merge of these policies. This discussion is not not be about re-defining policy. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 03:07, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
You've got a sincere, fair, and actionable answer to the posted question. No need to go boldface, but next time just to think carefully how to ask the question about what you really really want to know. `'mikka 05:06, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

There are. I think, two questions here:

  • Does JWSchmidt assert that these tools exist in WP:V and WP:NOR? (I read him as not claiming this; but it would clear the air to say so.)
  • If not, what would these tools be?

Personally, blacklisting of unreliable sources (short of extreme cases, like the National Enquirer or The Onion) is insufficiently subtle. Often a source is reliable for one purpose and unreliable for another. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:38, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

  • Indeed, I suggest that JWSchmidt's argument shows a certain bias.There is no source that is automatically reliable above all other possible sources in general. Any source can be challenged by one of equal or greater authority. And I do not think there is consensus that there are no purposes whatever where the NEnq could be used--it does document the existence of absurd beliefs. (I remain amused by its use in Men in Black).DGG 03:26, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes These are conceptually different ideas. All are corollaries of one another, but they complement each other, and if you can remove the duplicate statements from each document, you'll find a very agreeable collection of Wikipedia principles. Xiner (talk, email) 23:59, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Of course. but as said above, "the flaws and debates about them are in one central place instead three or four...". That's what's significant to me: That there's fewer places to go for simple guidelines & links to resources. Grye 00:48, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Do we need to make any changes to present policy or practice, while we have this opportunity?[edit]

  • Emphatically no. I think it would be a major error to commingle trying to sort out merge consensus on the one hand and introduce new substantive policy changes on the other. I am not opposed to change, I just think that the changes are separate issues and their own discussions. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:22, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Widespread community involvement is always a good thing when it comes to changing policies. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 01:25, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • What opportunity? Besides all pages being protected I see no difference one day or another. `'mikka 06:07, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • My general opinion is that we do not need to make any changes; but several of the objections to WP:ATT appear to me to be objections to wording which is present policy, and which derives unchanged from WP:V or WP:NPOV. Such proposals deserve a place for discussion. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:44, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • We emphatically do not need to make any changes whatsoever to existing core content policies. The rules on sourcing and attribution are absolutely essential, and work better than any other alternative method. This discussion should concern only the possibilities of merging and renaming, not any changes to the existing processes of Wikipedia. Walton Vivat Regina! 10:01, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • What do you mean by "changes"? If we want to bring policies in line with practice, is that a "change in policy" since it changes the in-writing policy, or is it "not a change in policy" since it doesn't change the policy as practiced? For that matter, is clarifying an ambiguous part of policy a "change in policy"? Ken Arromdee 18:50, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I think a discussion of whether we should make changes to this policy/these policies is a prerequisite to merging the policy documents. There are two reasons for this: one, pure efficiency, as it seems silly to me to merge portions of policies that are going to be changed immediately afterwards; and two, it seems to me that it would be easier to change the policies while they're in the form most people are familiar with, i.e., separate. --DachannienTalkContrib 00:16, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
    • It occurs to me now that my point (and maybe even this section of the discussion) may be moot, since most of the work is already done. --DachannienTalkContrib 00:19, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. While I won't deny the possibility that changes may be needed, NOR and V had broad support and I think it's better to discuss the merger/rewrite separately from any changes we may want. -- Jitse Niesen (talk) 08:57, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No - It, take care of the bigger issue then let any majpr policies changes come afterwards. -- Chrislk02 (Chris Kreider) 13:50, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No - This is already (for some reason) controversial enough. First the merge, discuss new changes afterwards. Garion96 (talk) 18:17, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. There are many flaws with the current text of the policies, but top priority is to bring about the merger. It would be immensely easier - both in terms of getting the required support as well as in terms of making the physical merger - if no essential change to the policies took place. Itayb 19:39, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. Focus on your goals to merge & clarify. If you see this as an opportunity, once complete, follow-up with a discussion of changes. I like the idea of clearer and shorter policy. I, and the rest of us, may not find the adjustments equally likable and that may bring this otherwise helpful idea to a halt.--In1984 05:14, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No. However, current areas where WP:ATT divergers from WP:NOR and WP:V need to be addressed. These include the definition of OR and the removal of the exception for journalistic self-published sources. JulesH 07:15, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Clarify NOR[edit]

I think we need to clarify what OR is and that it is not the same as, or reducible to, verifiability or some broader concept of attribution.

Here's one example: I have no difficulty with the idea that the material Jimbo recently removed from the Langan article was original research, but I see others objecting both on-site and on the mailing list. IMO, the policy pages need to be clear enough that good users can see that this material was within the concept of OR.

For starters, why don't you follow the existing policies and provide a "reliable reference" to the thing you are talking about. The "Langan" article has a single edit, and it was not Jimbo. `'mikka 06:07, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't understand this. Jimbo ripped out a large chunk out of Christopher Michael Langan in the form it was in the other day, and various people on the mailing list (and there were also some comments on the talk page) objected that he was adopting a novel and expansive interpretation of OR (which it was not in my view). That's the incident I'm referring to. I assumed this was well known, Sorry if I confused you. Metamagician3000 07:59, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Oh, by the Invisible Pink Unicorn and Her blessed transparent hooves! Is that article still causing trouble? Anville 16:53, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Here's another example. In my opinion, this List of FRSs with public religious stances is an exercise in original research - taking statements from here and there as a research project to try to demonstrate a point that is (apparently) made in no existing secondary source: that few Fellows of the Royal Society have expressed views about religion and few of those have been critical of it. On the talk page, the creator of the article/list seems fairly open that it is intended to demonstrate something. To me, that is an exercise in OR, even if each constituent fact can be sourced somewhere (which is why it is not good to think that the OR concept is subsumed under something called "attribution").

I think there's been a tendency for us to adopt an overly lenient interpretation of the NOR principle. That overly lenient approach is being applied widely, and the written policies are not doing enough to dissuade people from it. The emphasis on verifiability and attribution tends to encourage it. I see a helluva lot of OR pervading Wikipedia, though it is not necessarily urgent to deal with it all except where there are also BLP issues involved. Metamagician3000 23:48, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Is this covered by WP:ATT#Unpublished synthesis of published material? If not, why not? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:59, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Actually, I think it is ... and quite well, at that. And yet, and yet, I also think that it needs to be given more emphasis and maybe additional examples, because it's a point that a lot of valued, sincere and productive editors either find difficult or apparently just plain disagree with. I see many people, even during the current debate, give definitions of the NOR concept that are not consistent with WP:ATT#Unpublished synthesis of published material.
What do you think, Septentrionalis? Were you just asking a question, or implying that it's already covered adequately? Note that I'm not really advocating a change of policy, assuming that my understanding of policy is more or less correct, but I'm advocating that a widely misunderstood and ignored aspect of policy be emphasised and explained more. Metamagician3000 07:55, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Asking a question; I thank you for clarifying. You think then that we need more explanation and emphasis than ATT gives, which is (in my judgment) more than WP:NOR gave. You may be right. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:44, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I've seen this sort of thing happen fairly often in the AfDs which show up at WikiProject Physics. In the extreme case, we get articles claiming that (for example) aliens from Europa rigged the 2004 presidential elections, then citing a NASA website for Europa's mass, composition and distance from Earth. The article is then called "well-referenced to reliable sources". OK, this is a caricature I just made up, but I think it's pretty clear how this can confuse people trying to decide the fate of some "theory of everything" physics article (the type of "original research" which was a big motivator behind WP:NOR in the first place). All things considered, I think the "Unpublished synthesis" section of WP:ATT should be expanded with a couple more examples, drawn from different fields. At the moment, its only example is a case of purported plagiarism; I think we'd benefit if it also included a case of history-related OR-by-synthesis and a case drawn from the sciences. Anville 16:58, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
A good idea. Why not add the examples to WP:ATTFAQ, which is not protected? We can discuss moving them to WP:ATT when we see what they are. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:21, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks to both of you for this useful discussion. Are we going to drop Anville in the soup and ask him to do the work on this that Septentrionalis suggests? I'd be interested to see the examples that Anville had in mind, which would have to be tricky ones to make the exercise worthwhile. The actual example I gave is a slightly controversial one, as it is being discussed at AfD right now, and I'll be interested to see how the community views it. Metamagician3000 07:41, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I didn't have a specific historical example in mind, since I don't edit that genre very often (mostly checking to see what's come up on FAC lately). It just seemed like an area where this type of OR-by-synthesis would naturally be a problem. If an example doesn't spring to mind, I might try pinging the people at WikiProject History. Most of the science-related examples I can recall at the moment were deleted, but I'll see what I can find. Anville 13:26, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Any structured list could be said to be "an unpublished synthesis of published material" unless it is taken straight out of a book - which would be absurd. If it is OR then so is every other structured list - such as eg this this and this which are all Featured Lists NBeale 22:24, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

The wording is bad. In real life, "synthesis" means nothing more nor less than "putting together", which is exactly what real encyclopedias do, and what makes them worth reading: they put together information, taken from a variety of sources, but related in some specific way which may not be exactly mirrored in any published literature. RandomCritic 22:46, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
The wording should say "synthesis to advance a point that cannot be attributed to a reliable source" or something of that nature. Of course synthesis is allowed, it's only when that synthesis is used to make a claim that is novel that there is a problem with it. JulesH 07:36, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

"Original research" in Wikipedia-policy-talk is indistinguishable from nonattributability. "Original research" in common everyday speech includes the act of googling to find sources to use to attribute claims. 4.250.138.205 04:53, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Especially keeping in mind that non-native English speakers may think that "original research" means "search of originals" :-) "Nonattributability" ... mmm. yummy word. `'mikka 06:01, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I think it was a mistake ever to have expressed the policy in a negative form: "No original research" is taken by many editors to mean "no research of any kind whatsoever"; e.g., the citation of primary source material is objected to as "original research", because, obviously, someone had to go look it up independently! If the policy is stated as a positive: "Sourced research" or "Attributable research", editors would not get confused, and also the essential identity of 'no original research' and 'verifiability' would be apparent. RandomCritic 02:05, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
The statement "Note the difference between unsourced material and original research: Unsourced material is material not yet attributed to a reliable source. Original research is material that cannot be attributed to a reliable source." is very problematic. How is an editor to prove that certain material has never been published by a reliable source, in any medium (paper, audio, video, digital, etc.) in any language? What it comes down to is really that unsourced material is information about which editors agree but have not (yet) sourced, and OR is material about which editors disagree which has not (yet) been sourced. For example, in Bluegrass music, article editors have agreed that the generational approach is not OR -- we are sure it has been written about elsewhere -- but we have yet to find a good citation for it. Cmadler 19:13, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Why does it need to be proved? It is either OR, or it is unattributed. In either case, it should be removed unless a source can be found for it. JulesH 07:36, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

NOR definitely needs to be more clear on what is and isn't allowed. By their very nature, new articles take some form of research. Someone needs to decide to include it in Wikipedia, write the article, and find attributable sources for items included therein. College term papers and even scientific journals are all properly sourced (or should be) in way of facts. It is conclusions drawn from that research that defines whether it is "original research."

For example, I'm working on articles for Wikipedia:WikiProject U.S. Congress. The original article on congressional committees was short. I helped expand the article by providing historical context on the committee structure. This required trips to the House and Senate websites, review of Congressional Research Service documents, individual committee histories, and the like. The bulk of the article is sourced, but is it original research? On one had it is -- I researched the topic and decided what to include in the article. However, on the other hand it is not OR, since the items in the article can be attributed to other sources. The United States Senate Historical Office did the analysis, I merely included and summarized that analysis in the article. The same is true for individual committee stubs, such as the United States Senate Committee on the Pacific Railroad. This committee existed in the 1800s and not a lot is published about it. Does it violate NOR if I went and reviewed National Archives and Congressional Globe documents related to the committee to help draft the article? Wikipedia Policy should be more clear in this area.Dcmacnut 19:20, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

I think that original research has both been weakened and over-strengthened alternately by some users. Some of them seem to mean it to be only prohibiting gathering primary data and conducting your own conclusions (certainly OR, of course, but OR is more than that) others seem to deem it to mean that no primary sources of any kind should be used to attribute data. On one hand NOR is important as a hedge against the inclusion of falsehoods or POV research, on the other hand I think it's silly not to be able to make simple conclusions. I'd like to see an exemption for A) simple logic. A = B B = C therefore A = C sorts of things. Like the famous example of socrates (I forget where I saw it used, some policy or policy talk): Socrates was a man, all men are mortal, therefore socrates was mortal. Jones was convicted of murder, murder is a crime, therefore Jones is a criminal. if A is cited and B is cited or obvious (IE 'murder is a crime') it should not be forbidden to draw that obvious and simple conclusion. likewise, by the way I understand OR, to look at data and draw a summary is OR; meaning without an exception all non-copyvio plot summaries are OR. In addition, I don't think it ought to be forbidden to make simple calculations, as the policy says, but drawing obvious conclusions should also be allowed: EG, if politician A's popularity rating in his district is 30%, it shouldn't be forbidden to say "Politician A's is not popular in his district." Wintermut3 10:41, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

NOR and the entry on Christopher Michael Langan: lessons[edit]

I would like to make several points in relation to NOR and the entry on Christopher Michael Langan, which was discussed above (I am an involved editor, if only for the past week). I will try to keep discussion of the details of the entry to a minimum, while still giving enough information to demonstrate what I consider important policy considerations arising from the dispute. I apologise for the length of this comment, but hope interested parties will see the importance of the conclusions arising from this case study.

  • I believe the policy against NOR is extremely important in relation to biographies of living persons, and I agree that there is a tendency for the policy to be interpreted leniently. But it is more than a question of leniency, and it is more than a matter of "good editors" not understanding the policy correctly. The problem is that a good editor of one entry can at the same time be a bad editor of another entry. What makes the difference?: the editor's perspective on the subject of the entry. Thus it is possible, for example, that an editor may be productive in relation to the entry on "intelligent design," working diligently to keep out original research, while at the same time utterly fail to see when they are themselves violating NOR in an entry on a person they consider a proponent of intelligent design. This problem will of course be particularly acute where the subject of the biographical entry is not very well-known and there are not many editors prepared to invest time and energy defending the entry (thus, even though more people hate George W Bush than hate Chris Langan, there are also more people prepared to defend the Bush entry from original research). It is extremely difficult to defend such entries from original research violations, especially when a group of editors share a similar antipathy for the subject of the entry, and thus can act in concert.
  • When a failure to understand the applicability of NOR is combined with a failure to understand that neutrality means more than merely a neutral tone, and combined again with a failure to understand the need to edit living-person biographies sensitively, and combined still further with a failure to understand the need for such entries to avoid controversy, a powerful cocktail results. The outcome may be disastrous for the person who is the subject of the entry, and by extension this is disastrous for the Wikipedia project. (All this occurred with the Langan entry, due to a confluence of factors I cannot go into here.)
  • Thus when User Jimbo Wales deleted the section violating NOR from the Langan entry (in brief, a section about a minor legal dispute between two High-IQ societies), this deletion was attacked as incomprehensible. How, they cried, could reporting what is said in court documents constitute original research or biased editing? Opposed editors could not grasp this possibility, even though they knew that Langan did not show up in court to contest the case, and thus knew that only one side was represented. They could not understand, in other words, how the editing strategy they were using was in fact the very strategy used by tabloid journalists to justify one-sided but “factual” reporting of court cases. In fact, of course, it is possible to factually report what court documents state, and still be engaging in original or biased research. Naturally they also could not envisage the possibility that their desire to include the section constituted bias or malice.
  • Additionally, they could not understand how factually reporting the contents of court documents necessarily means selectively choosing what to report from primary sources, and thus, in the absence of secondary sources, necessarily constitutes original research. Mr Wales stated very clearly that, lacking secondary sources about the case (since there is no evidence that the case has ever been discussed in any newspaper, magazine, TV news story, etc.), reporting about the case almost necessarily constitutes original research. From this, however, some opposed editors drew the conclusion that one must not ever refer to primary sources for an entry. They therefore claimed to have found a reason to argue against other material in the entry.
  • Also compounding these problems was the difficulty opposed editors had in connecting the different pieces of policy together. Thus they might see the point about original research, but fail to see the connections between this and policy regarding sensitivity toward living persons, policy regarding the need to avoid controversy in relation to living persons, or policy about what counts as notable and important in an entry on living persons. Thus the argument was put, for example, that if the Langan lawsuit was not notable enough for inclusion in the entry, then Langan himself must not be notable enough to even have an entry. By failing to see the interconnected nature of policy, opposed editors were able to permit themselves long-term serious violations of several policies.
  • At least two conclusions follow: Firstly, policy should be written to make clear that living persons have a legal and moral right not to be the victims of original research in their biographical entries. When editors violate policy in relation to living persons, and especially when they do so by engaging in original research, they violate the rights of the person about whom they are writing. The seriousness of this should be made much clearer than is currently the case. At present, WP:BLP states in its rationale that the information in biographies of living persons "can affect the lives" of such persons. The implication of such a rationale is that editors should understand this fact, and therefore use sensitivity and judgment when editing biographical entries for living persons. What the policy does not state is that living persons have a right not to be the victim of violations of BLP and/or NOR. The current formulation does not make clear that when an editor violates these policies, they also violate the rights of actual living persons. This allows editors to think in terms of their obligations to the Wikipedia project, rather than in terms of their obligations to actual living persons. This increases the chances editors will feel justified in resorting to NOR or other policy violations when editing contentious biographies. Hence my view that the current formulation is too weak.
  • Secondly, the way such policies are written should emphasise the interconnections between policies, to encourage editors to understand how it is the constellation of policies which really defines a policy situation. When two or three or four policies are involved in a single issue, this amounts to more than the sum of the parts. This is particularly the case when a violation of NOR is combined with a violation of BLP. If editors do not see the connections between NOR, neutrality, notability, sensitivity, and avoidance of controversy, then they really do not understand each one of these policies singly. I acknowledge that the subtlety of this point is easily lost on editors (especially editors in dispute), but I do believe policy can be written in a way that encourages this understanding. It may be that merging policies is a way to make this clear, but merger alone will not suffice, unless the text of the merged policies also makes these interconnections very evident. It may in fact be the case that merging policy about NOR and about attribution in fact clouds the fact that NOR is more than a matter of attribution. I do not claim to have the final answer to this question, but I strongly believe that those who have invested energy in these important issues should keep firmly in mind the considerations I have pointed toward. FNMF 03:02, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Merge proposal[edit]

Wrong venue. A random talk sub-page that hardly anyone knows exists is not the proper place to determine how policy is made. That's what WP:PUMP is for. Also, I object to the suggestion that this is some kind of special "opportunity". WP is a Wiki. Every minute of every day is an opportunity, and an equal one. Just the mere idea that that we should take the "opportunity" to change policy for some reason, off in this Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Community discussion hinterland is kind of grotesque and scary. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:04, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
As Hiding says below, that's why there's a link from WP:PUMP, ain't it? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:20, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Noted. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:27, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

What process should be used to change policy structure or policy in the future?[edit]

  • Jimbo suggested that for these type of changes, the process should be one that includes a checkpoint in which we seek Jimbo's input, followed by a poll to assess support, and followed by a "closing process" (to be defined) in which the changes are certified. I have tonnes of questions about this, though... ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:59, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
    • I think many people agree that it would be much less annoying that along with relaying Jimbo's words you provide a reference to the source. I fully understand and have nothing against the fact that it is easier for Jimbo to communicate with a smaller circle of people, but the feeling that you are a second-class citizen is really devastating at times. `'mikka 05:47, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I assume that we are talking about how entire policies get approved, challenged/demoted, merged, etc. and not about how the wording of an individual policy or guideline gets changed? If so, I agree that a clear process is needed, and can see that Jimbo should be involved at some stage. Perhaps this discussion could be a template... A dedicated page for discussion and comment (to be closed after a given duration, at least full week, probably longer) followed by a straw poll (both well anounced on any related talk pages, at the pump, on the mailing list, etc), then an application to Jimbo summarizing the results of the poll... and finally the certification of approval or notice of rejection. Blueboar 23:27, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
    • Clarification and answer seconded. `'mikka 05:47, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • If this poll goes through then it gives a rather significant blow to WP:!VOTE. It also appears to give Jimbo a stronger role in policy control than he has previously had, but as Jossi says we need more clarification on this. --tjstrf talk 23:34, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
    • Not surprizing (and not bad per se), see my comment below. `'mikka 05:47, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I'm floored by all this. "Jimbo suggested that for these type of changes, the process should be one that includes a checkpoint in which we seek Jimbo's input." I dunno. I'm as unclear on the structure of Wikipedia as I ever was, but that's no suggestion, that's a statement of intent. I feel like that bit in Star Wars when Solo says "That's no moon." I think I'm going to take time away. There's a lot been happening around here lately that has given me pause for thought. This is an admirable project, and it has been a pleasure to add what little I could, but ... thanks for all the fish. See you all sooner rather than later, I hope. Hiding Talk 23:37, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Wrong venue. A random talk sub-page that hardly anyone knows exists is not the proper place to determine how policy is made. That's what WP:PUMP is for. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:04, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
    That'll be why there's a link at the pump to here then, won't it. Hiding Talk 00:11, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
    Noted. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:24, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I think Jimbo/the Foundation need to be clearer about what they want here. We're basically just left guessing. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:24, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
    The Foundations has nothing to do with this, as it does not concern itself with policy. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 04:02, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
    Sorry, I'll spell it out better: If Jimbo is speaking as The Jimbo, in his official role here, then he needs to be clearer about what he wants. If he's just speaking as Jimmy Wales, another Wikipedian, which he sometimes does, he should make that clearer. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 04:21, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
    The real problem is that we don't really know this, because we don't follow WP:A here, see my very first remark to Jossi at the top of this page. We don't even know what actually Jimbo said. We even don't know whether Jimbo said this to Jossi or Jimbo said it to Bimbo and Bimbo said it to Jossi. We even don't know what Jimbo meant in what was relayed in the words "these type of changes", hence, e.g., the Blueboar's and yours and mine confusion. `'mikka 05:47, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Whatever process be, it must definitely include a moderator (per discussion or per 2 days or flexible, whatever), whose only role would be to keep the discussion it tracks. I keep wondering why for, like, 5 years this well-known idea was not implemented in wikipedia policymaking. Did I miss a discussion where the idea was rejected? `'mikka 05:47, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
    • The Mediation Committee does not accept policy disputes. See Wikipedia:Mediation#What_is_mediation.3F.
    • "Mediation is not a forum for policy decisions. If the locus of the dispute is not covered by current policy, the matter must be referred to the Wikipedia community as a whole. Under no circumstances will mediation between a small number of parties be substituted for a valid community-wide exercise in consensus building."

    • Even if the Mediation Committee did take policy disputes, I am not sure if you could find a mediator who could be neutral about this, but maybe I am wrong.
    • Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 12:21, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
      • Although the words "mediator" and "moderator" begin with "m" and end in "or", they have different meanings. May I remind you the history of soviet (council)s, which have the same noble idea to give power to people, but only gave power to those whore "more equal than others". OK, may be the term "moderator" is too strong. What I meant is a role of a clerk in discussions, who keeps track of the suggestions and helps to stay on topic. In case you didn't notice, this de facto is already happening: someone refactors discussions, redirects them into subpages, arranges polls, archives subpages, etc. It is done on a volunteer basis, and may well be a "ritual" of assignment of a "clerk" is simply unnecessary. In case you didn't notice, I ended my suggestin with a question,let me restate it here: was the idea of explicitely assigned clerks discussed and rejected? My idea was to increase the productivity and decrease chaos in discussions. I may be wrong, but again, was this discussed? `'mikka 16:48, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
        • I know mediators and moderators are different, but as far as I know, none of the dispute resolution steps currently involve moderators, so the Mediation Committee would be the closest.
        • We do have clerks, although not for the purpose you describe. Perhaps you could propose this somewhere?
        • Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 18:39, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
          I believe 'mikka has just proposed it here. It sounds like probably a good idea to me. Maybe there needs to be an impeachment process or something in case the moderator is overly biassed. --Coppertwig 22:50, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
          I meant somewhere on its own.  : ) In mediation, you would just say, "I want another mediator," or, if that didn't work, "I no longer consent to mediation." I don't know what the equivalent would be for what mikka suggests. It might be better to work out the bugs in its own proposal, like Wikipedia:Organised community policy discussion. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 02:09, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • The existing process is fine. Jimbo emphatically does not have the authority to demand consultation and/or approval during the policymaking process. Policy should be determined by a consensus of the community. If there is a consensus for change, then change should be made. Jimbo should, of course, be invited to participate in discussion and notified of any policy changes. But his opinions should carry no more weight than those of any other editor. Walton Vivat Regina! 10:03, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Does not have the authority? If anyone else but Jimbo would have undone the redirects, do you think we will be discussing this issue now? Of course not. The fact is that Jimbo has the respect of the community to afford him such interventions. Not only that, but now is is most definitively asking to be the the sounding board for all major policy changes, and be consulted to ensure that he agrees with the proposed changes. That is not a bad thing, IMO. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 12:34, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
    • Well, I am part of the community, and I am challenging his authority to make such interventions. He should be consulted in the same way that other active users should be consulted, but I have a serious problem with the idea that he has any authority to unilaterally change Wikipedia policy. Don't get me wrong; I have great respect for Jimbo as an individual, and would treat his views on Wikipedia issues with the attention they deserve. However, to draw an RL parallel, I respect George W. Bush as an individual and as a great leader, but would still not be happy if he decided to unilaterally dissolve Congress and pass all laws by presidential decree. In RL we have liberal democracy; on Wikipedia, we have WP:CONSENSUS, which should not be circumvented. Even though I agree with some of Jimbo's criticisms of WP:ATT, he was wrong to reverse the community's decision. Walton Vivat Regina! 18:54, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Jimbo has the power and prestige to act as God-King. He did so in requiring this discussion, and that probably was wise. But that's his personal variant of Wikipedia:Ignore all rules; it shouldn't be written into the rules. For one thing, Wikipedia should be structured so that it can continue if he loses all interest in us. (A requirement that proposed changes in policy have a discussion and poll announced in Signpost would be a good idea, and would in fact tell him.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:49, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
    • I agree with your proposal for announcements in Signpost (I assumed that was normal practice already), but I disagree with your implicit endorsement of Jimbo's behaviour as "God-King". Even though Jimbo may well be absolutely right about the flaws in WP:ATT, he had no right to "require" this discussion. WP:CONSENSUS should not be circumvented. Walton Vivat Regina! 18:57, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
      • It was an instance of WP:IAR, which was successful, i.e. stands unreverted. I claim no more than that. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:26, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I asked Jimbo these same questions, and his response was that (a) he wants to be involved and consulted in any major policy change or re-structuring of policy; (b) he believes that many editors did not know about ATT, despite the announcements and the 5 month of discussions, and asserted that there was no wide consensus for ATT; (c) He requested a wide discussion and a vigorous debate on the virtues of ATT; (d) he also requested a poll and a defined mechanism to close the poll and "certify the decision", and (d) He very clearly stated that he will abide by the consensus of the community after that process. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 19:38, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • What should be required is adequate notice in particular places. And all required places should be on Wikipedia. Discussion off Wikipedia may be useful to some, but on Wikipedia discussion is primary, so notice off wikipedia should be at most suggested, not required. Consensus should always be measured on Wikipedia, without regard to off Wikipedia discussion. Jimbo's participation should explicitly not be required; if he wants to participate he can watch the same forums that any other editor watches. The wikipedia community will have greatly matured the day that something is made policy when he is in opposition to the consensus of the community. GRBerry 19:41, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
    • The question is, though, what places? WP:RFC/POLICY, WP:VPP, talk pages of any affected policies...? JulesH 07:56, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I don't know if this is the place to bring it up, but I've always found it odd that so many policy discussions that affect the entire community take place on the email list. Being a participant (and admin) on a wiki shouldn't require subscribing and following (filtering and deleting) a multitude of e-mails as well. We have talk pages here for a reason, no? --ZimZalaBim (talk) 00:41, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Prior to the merge, I had some idea that it was going on -- and if I had cared to spend my time in that way I would have gotten involved in the discussion. Quite frankly, somme of us would rather spend our little available time working on the encyclopedia itself, and leave the policy discussions to those who want to spend their time on such things. The discussion was on the tlak page, I knew it was there, and I chose not to get involved. How is that a flaw? On the flip side, I understand Jimbo's concern, and respect his ability to call for such further discussion. -- Pastordavid 02:14, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Very simple:
  1. NOT to use any Dispute Resolution-related committee. The temptation to give a legislative power to MedCom or even ArbCom should be avoided: these exist to solve disputes, not to create policies (though ArbCom applies policy).
  2. Use each policy's talk page and decide through consensus.
  3. Consensus should be builded using polls (just to know what people think) and then, discussing proposals (using the polls results as basis).
  4. If no consensus, no changes.
  5. For policy creation, maybe Village Pump is the place, don't you think? --Neigel von Teighen | help with arbs? 12:54, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • If there's a clear consensus for a policy change, why does it need Jimbo's sign-off? If Jimbo gets run over by a bus tomorrow, will all Wikipedia policy be frozen forever because he's no longer around to approve any changes? Either Wikipedia is consensus-driven or it isn't. Yes, Jimbo founded Wikipedia and all respect to him for that; but this is a wiki, not his personal baby. He, and we, can't have it both ways. -- Waggers 14:53, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    • Because, like it or not, Jimbo rules here. Maybe, community perception of Jimbo's role should be an interesting topic to discuss (careful: community perception, not a referendum!)... not now, of course: we're focused on this... --Neigel von Teighen | help with arbs? 16:27, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
      • What's your basis for asserting that "Jimbo rules here"? He no longer owns Wikipedia; it's owned by the Wikimedia Foundation, an independent charity. Decisions are made by community consensus or, in urgent cases, by the board of the Wikimedia Foundation (e.g. in order to avoid legal problems). Jimbo does not have any right to overturn community decisions, or to impose policy changes on the community. Walton Vivat Regina! 08:17, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    • I said that Jimbo "rules here", not that "owns WP". Yes, he rules: this policy change will finnally need Jimbo's approval, ArbCom elections are just to help Jimbo to know who to appoint, any admin or arbitration decision can be reverted by Jimbo... Yes, he has more power over WP's structure than a regular sysop. Those are the sad facts... --Neigel von Teighen | help with arbs? 11:12, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
      • Jimbo himself has said that he doesn't want that kind of power (although I can't find the source for that right now, I definitely remember reading it somewhere...). He wants the community to make the decisions. So why would we run policy changes past him? He can contribute that same as any other community member can, and because of who he is, we will sit up and pay attention when he does (although we won't necessarily agree with him -- a consensus may exist that he isn't part of). So why is a special process required? JulesH 07:56, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
        • Not actually the source I was looking for, but Jimbo makes the point again in this mailing post: he's happy just being a (trusted) member of the community. JulesH 08:18, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
          • I suggest clear guidelines for changing policy, setting out such things as how long to wait to see whether there are objections, with longer times for bigger decisions. I would like to see a tightening up of the definition of consensus: clear guidelines for assessing whether a given situation is "consensus" or not. Currently WP:Consensus says that sometimes people on both sides of a dispute each claim consensus.
          • I would suggest that "consensus" when disagreement is present require a list of how many supporters of the proposal there are, and how many disagreeing, and how each disagreement is handled: proposal modified in response; person changed their mind; person agreed to stand down to allow consensus; person seems to have lost interest and gone away (guidelines for how to determine this); sockpuppets or single-purpose accounts, etc. There may be other outcomes of disagreements that can be present and still declare consensus, but they should be carefully described in a guideline. A key is that there has to be enough discussion. A guideline could require that proponents of a proposal demonstrate understanding of an objection or clearly try very hard to understand, and state clear reasons in response and be willing to discuss further and explain the reasons further.
          • Guidelines defining consensus could apply to all decisions, and additional guidelines could apply to significant changes of policy or of policy pages, such as requiring merge tags for a certain length of time before merging policy pages, requiring notices in certain places etc. Guidelines could also describe what types of changes are significant changes requiring such notices -- with something open-ended such as "or any change of similar importance" to cover situations not yet imagined. --Coppertwig 22:50, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
I think that proposal is quite misguided. WP:CONSENSUS is clear about how to test consensus: if an edit sticks, there is consensus for it. The idea that all participants would agree in writing to the same thing, rather than just abiding by it silently, contradicts everything I know about the nature of obstinate people. CMummert · talk 23:03, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

(<<<outdent) My reading of WP:CONSENSUS is that if an edit is put in once and sticks, then there is consensus for it. It doesn't say there's consensus for a version that's reverted to over and over again. That would be winning an edit war, not consensus. WP:CONSENSUS stresses the importance of discussion: "While the most important part of consensus-building is to thoroughly discuss and consider all issues,..." --Coppertwig 00:54, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Why does this page exist?[edit]

Mind you, I'm not directly objecting to the existence of this page, I just don't understand what the point is, and have concerns that between Wikipedia talk:Attribution, Wikipedia talk:Attribution/FAQ, Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Poll and Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll that the discussion is going to become too fragmented to follow. Yes, I realize I'm the one that undid the redir from Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Poll that was going to Wikipedia talk:Attribution (and if you look at how much discussion about the poll and its details there are this was a good idea, I maintain). But I can't discern at all any purpose difference between Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Community discussion and Wikipedia talk:Attribution, that isn't already intended to be covered at the poll. Indeed, this new page appears to be phrased as a poll asking roughly the same questions as the poll (I say "roughly" because the questions keep changing). — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:03, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

After reading all of this, and seeing that it is simply repeating debates already covered elsewhere, I do directly object to the existence of this page. I propose merging this immediately into Wikipedia talk:Attribution. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:13, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
This page exists to consolidate discussions being conducted elsewhere. I oppose merger. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:19, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I do directly object to such a proposal and solemnly declare opposition to any merge. Hiding Talk 00:21, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Why on earth would that not take place at Wikipedia talk:Attribution? — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:21, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Why on earth would it? We're discussing four, maybe five pages here. Hiding Talk 00:23, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
This is "Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Community discussion", not "Wikipedia talk:Community discussion of Attribution, Verifiability, Reliable Sources and No Original Research", so your response doesn't seem to address anything. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:27, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Does anyone else support this objection? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:43, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
No, this is a good idea. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:45, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Okay. I don't see the point and it seems likely to cause rehashing of contentious arguments and their linked inter-personal disputes, but whatever... — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:01, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Up until this page appeared, there was a lot of useful discussion on Wikipedia talk:Attribution. If the effect of this page is to dissipate the discussion of the very real policy issues, then I think this page is a bad move. --Rednblu 01:24, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Read the request by Jimbo at the top of this page. Jimbo undid the merger; Jimbo requested this discussion as a prelude to a poll, and thus we are having it. If you do not want to discuss it, you do not have to. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:36, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
That's a blatant straw man argument; no one here has suggested that the discussion should not take place, some of us simply don't think that forking it onto a new page is a good idea. Given that someone just went and archived over half of the still-active discussions at Wikipedia talk:Attribution, including all but the most recent disputes (and see comment above by Rednblu), I think this concern is a genuine one. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 02:01, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Hey, relax, SMcCandlish. What is the reason for such intensity? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 03:12, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I am relaxed. I'm not trying to come off as any more intense that usual. If anything, I've been pretty chill all day long. My observation above is pretty simple, and doesn't make any new arguments, just reminds that some concerns have been raised and what they are. Not everyone thinks the discussion should be happening here instead of at the main talk page, and given that disputes are being shuffled off into the archives before being resolved, these concerns may have some merits. What's intense about that? I don't think the honest concerns raised should be dismissed as allegedly counter-communicative. They aren't. That's all. :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 04:27, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I would argue that it is a bit too late to beat the drum of "not here". The discussion has been advertised widely and it is happening here, while the talk page of ATT is used to address editors' questions as usual. 30 odd comments in a short period of time in this page, and the use of "blatant", is what made me make that comment. If that is not the case, and indeed you feel cool and collected, please accept my apologies for that comment. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 04:36, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Agreed that the horse is already out of the barn, but I don't think that that erases the concerns; rather they simply shift, e.g. to something like "let's not forget that these issues have in some cases already been discussed at great length on WP:ATT's talk page, and that those conversations haven't simply gone away or become moot because this new page exists, not even after they've been archived for some reason." I'll "counter apologize", if "blatant" seemed mean or something; I meant it the sense of "obviously", not "unforgivably".  ;-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 04:43, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
In that case, try "flagrant."  :-) —David Levy 08:59, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

The question in the section title is because of the poor title of the page. When a thread of the discussion is forked out into a separate page, its title must clearly indicate the topic of the thread. Now, someone say it again, what is the topic of this thread here? `'mikka 05:56, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

  • There's nothing wrong with this discussion page, it just has to be publicised better, to invite further comment. Walton Vivat Regina! 10:04, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I have advertised it in WP:VPP, in all the talk pages of related policies and guidelines, and the Wiki-EN-l mailing list. Do you have any suggestions on how to advertise this better? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 12:36, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
The page is an excellent idea, in my opinion. It will take time to become known and for people who don't usually edit policy pages to join in. We need to be able to evaluate this discussion as the step before the poll, and that will be easier to do when the merger alone is being discussed rather than other things to do with the policy pages. Otherwise Jimbo would have to pick through threads to find out which bits were a specific attampt at consulting with the community on the merger. SMcCandlish is welcome to disagree with that, but I am surprised that he wishes to repeat the same opinion so often. qp10qp 13:14, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Is this necessary?[edit]

This is the question that keeps nagging at me. Not the discussion, but Wikipedia:Attribution. This is not a fundamental change, this doesn't affect policy, so what's the point in a) fixing something that isn't broke, and b) creating enough confusion that people think something new is happening? --badlydrawnjeff talk 15:10, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

The need for merging V and NOR was assessed necessary by those that worked in the proposal. This, in addition to attempting to fix RS, that five months ago, was most definitively broken to a point in which its value as a guideline and consensus about it was strongly challenged. WP:ATT simplifies the understanding of our policies to those thousands of contributors that join the project every month, and assist more experienced editors in content disputes by being able to point people to a well-written, and concise page that explains the principles upon which this encyclopedia is being developed. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 15:28, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
A valid question that should not be discounted. Perhaps there are other editors—like myself—who didn't get highly involved in the ATT writing because we didn't realize Wiki's most fundamental policies would be replaced/merged/changed/whatever without a much broader discussion and consensus. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:39, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Fine editors who do not edit policy pages[edit]

How do we get more of the above to join in the discussion? One of the things Jimbo said somewhere was that many fine and talented editors weren't consulted or did not know about the merger. I wonder if those of us who enjoy thinking and talking about policy (I do because it constantly refreshes and develops my editing ability) might consider contacting the various excellent editors we each know from article pages and asking them to come and check out this discussion. As things stand, this discussion might end up largely involving the usual interested parties and therefore not be seen as capable of achieving the broader consensus that Jimbo wants. qp10qp 16:11, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Sounds like an excellent idea... so long as we don't try to pre-influence their opinions and comments in our invitation... saying something like "There are some questions about policy being discussed at Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Community discussion, and we would value your oppinion" would be fine... saying something like: "Help me save/delete this wonderful/awful policy ... go to Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Community discussion" would not. Blueboar 17:00, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I love this idea. Especially since it would make such an excellent fundraiser for the Wikimedia Foundation. Even if we only fined each person who didn't edit a policy page 10 cents, that would still equal out to hundreds of thousands of dollars in the end. Even more if we counted IP editors. And if we counted sockpuppets as individual people we could get revenge on guys like Cplot simultaneously because they would suddenly owe us forty or eighty bucks. Maybe we could even make it an annual thing, where everyone who hadn't made a projectspace edit in the last 12 months was fined. Or maybe you meant to say finD them, not finE them? --tjstrf talk 17:24, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I think he did mean finE... as in wonderful editors, excellent editors, good editors, etc... "fine" used as an adjective, not a verb. But I like your idea too (especially as it relates to sock puppets) Blueboar 17:57, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Of course, we should never canvass (to be honest, I've almost forgotten what I think myself now). However, I feel tjsrf is taking my suggestion too lightly: we will only really ensure consensus here if we make the fines quite stiff. qp10qp 17:59, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't mind making our fine editors stiff... as long as they return the favor and buy the following round. Make mine a double!... no ice. Blueboar 18:15, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

A template to place on user pages. "There is a proposal to merge... Jimbo has requested...Please pass this invitation on to other good editors."? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:06, 24 March 2007 (UTC)


Huh? Oh yeah. No, sorry, I've been busy that's all. So...ahhh...we could spend a lot of time and typing rewriting instructions or we could start um pardon the expression looking things up. Like get onto some articles and check/correct sources and quotes. I mean actually looking them up, maybe even out of a book.
Has anyone else noticed that there's a big section of actively editing Wikipedia Users who don't know what a "Bibliography" is? They've worked out a definition for themselves though. Kind of reminds me of the gamers who think a "role-playing" server is a special server set up for D&D experts.
Anyways, there's a bunch of articles out there with no attribution at all. Some of them even sound reasonable (Arusha Accords). Eventualism says sooner or later someone (else) will get around to remembering how to do it right, but I think nower is better than later don't you? Seeing as we're all of us all excited about the mainstream media using Wikipedia as a resource? The imperialist oppressors did teach us how, back in junior high school and then again in freshman english. The alternative is to follow through on the threat at the bottom of every editing box. And that would be just mean.
Okies, that's me. Drop me a line.
~ Otterpops 14:23, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
I certainly knew nothing about the change, but frankly that doesn't bother me because, as has been stated many times, the change was not an alteration of policy, just a collation. So both the merge and the revert were correct in my mind, (the merge because the policies all relate to the same thing and the revert because it wasn't very well publicised) and hopefully they'll be re-merged again now that we all know about it. Waggers 14:58, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Suggesting a bad proposal, but still good poll: Do we need different thresholds for different fields?[edit]

I know this is a bad proposal, but I'm still curious about one thing: is there any correlation between what area editors are focused on, and their opinion on the merger, especially the diminishing role of truth that the name change seem to imply. Try to pick one term that broadly defines your area, such as "humanities" or "sciences", or "pop-culture", or just "everything" or "gnoming"...

PRO merger[edit]

  • philosophy of religion. This area will certainly benefit from a policy that says explicitly and emphatically that truth is absolutely irrelevant. --Merzul 17:30, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Anime and manga. I see no significant impact one direction or the other because I don't see any changes. The reworking of WP:RS could either help or hurt my work depending on the stance it takes towards sourcing of fiction. Wikipedia talk:Attribution/popculture is an interesting read regarding this, but seems to be a large no consensus pointing towards the creation of a Wikipedia:Sourcing fiction policy. --tjstrf talk 18:04, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Mathematics and history. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:04, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Science and pseudoscience. --ScienceApologist 00:41, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Science and culture JulesH 08:01, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

CONTRA merger[edit]

Neutral on issue of merger[edit]

  • Politics and British history. However, I edit lots of articles outside this area, and I don't see that it's especially relevant to policy discussion. I also comment on a lot of AfDs, which has influenced my views on policy far more. Walton Vivat Regina! 15:38, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

faulty premise[edit]

I disagree with the premise of this mini-poll. There has been no diminishment of the "role of truth". The WP:ATT policy says the same things that WP:V and WP:NOR say. Blueboar 17:53, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

I agree that no change was made, but if there is a perceived change, even if that perception is faulty, it will still effect opinions. --tjstrf talk 18:04, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes totally agree! As I said above on the first poll, I think the merger has brought attention to the long-standing wording in WP:V, which in fact says verifiability has nothing to do with truth and has everything to do with checking whether the attribution is correct. Having said that, there is an ongoing debate about the role of truth, and it is related to the discussion because people do confuse the two matters. I didn't want to make the introduction to biased, but I am making it clear here: the rule of truth has not diminished. --Merzul 18:28, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
It has clearly changed. WP:V was about using reliable sources for fact checking and greater accuracy. WP:A is explicitly is not about whether statements are true. --Audiovideo 20:36, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Role of truth[edit]

I strongly object to putting the role of truth section on the main talk page. Since this, not the regular talk page, is the page people have to follow to participate, putting it there has the effect of burying it.

I also don't think the question has been given a fair shake, either there or here. There *have* been examples where information that is attributable is (by any non-Wikipedia definition) provably false. The majority of the argument seemed to either assume that those examples don't happen, or assume that they happen very differently from how they really did. It's absurd to say "well, you can quote the debate, if it's disputed" or "well, surely the false information has got to be a minority opinion", when it wasn't disputed and wasn't a minority opinion and still false. Ken Arromdee 19:05, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

This has nothing to do with this current debate... The policy statements dealing with "roll of truth" as you call it have been long standing ones on Wikipedia. This discussion page is about whether V, RS and NOR should be merged into ATT... and if so, how... not about what those policy pages say. The merge does not change policy at all. It simply moves them to a new location. Once we know which policy will be in effect... then we can argue about changing what they say about the roll of truth. Blueboar 19:41, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
One of the questions above is "Do we need to make any changes to present policy or practice, while we have this opportunity?" So even though it says that the merger doesn't change policy, that clearly is not a settled issue.
I'm not convinced this is a change in policy anyway. It's clarifying areas that are vague, and may in fact be necessary anyway simply to keep the policy interpreted the same way the old policy has been interpreted. Ken Arromdee 19:54, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I disagree, Blueboar. The proposed merge page, WP:ATT, contains different wording with different meaning than the original pages it's supposed to be merging. This discussion focusses on that change in meaning that happens when going from "verifiability, not truth" to "attributable ... not whether it is true". This is a discussion that relates directly to the wording of the proposed merge page; my part of it at least is not about any issues that existed before the new wording was proposed. Perhaps someone could post clear instructions at the top of each talk page about which kind of discussion is supposed to go on which talk page?
Meanwhile, the discussion of the "Role of truth" issue is continuing at Wikipedia talk:Attribution#Role of truth where it was moved by user SlimVirgin. Please discuss in only one place (i.e. there, unless a clear decision is made to move it elsewhere.) --Coppertwig 19:51, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
You are asserting The proposed merge page, WP:ATT, contains different wording with different meaning than the original pages it's supposed to be merging as if it was a fact. But that is only an ungrounded opinion. If you could be more specific about these purported differences, you may give editors a chance to comment on these. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 19:56, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Several users seem to think the "Role of truth" discussion should be on this page, not on Wikipedia talk:Attribution. I agree; I prefer that it be here. Would someone please advise what is required in order to put it back? Also, would users please comment with agreement or disagreement about the idea of moving it back here?
The situation is: A long thread exists at Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Archive 12#Role of truth and Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Archive 13#Role of truth and Wikipedia talk:Attribution#Role of truth. Some related comments were also posted on this page. A user moved the comments from this page to that page. Right around the time that the user moved the comments, I was posting a comment. Therefore, my comment (a reply to tjstrf) got posted here out-of-context, which I didn't notice until later. Two more people replied here to my out-of-context post. Later I moved my post and the two replies to the same place the other related material had been moved to. Still later, someone moved my post and the two replies back here, for the second time separating my reply to tjstrf from the comment I was replying to; it's still separated and I would like it put back into context.
As a solution to all this, I propose that the entire thread Wikipedia talk:Attribution#Role of truth including everything currently in it and everything added from now on, but not the parts currently in Archive 12 and Archive 13, be moved here. Alternatively, someone could figure out which parts were originally posted on this page and move only them (and the replies to them?) here. Note that there is also a proposal to have one of the poll questions ask about the "verifiability, not truth" wording; see Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Poll#Verifiability, not truth. --Coppertwig 22:31, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I disagree... this page is for discussing the merger... was it a good idea? was it a bad idea?... what should happen with NOR, V and RS? You are talking about the wording of ATT (and in many ways talking about changing WP:V and WP:NOR in the process). Wording discussions should take place on the talk page of the policy. Blueboar 22:50, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Agree with Blueboar. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:59, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Someone created a subpage for the Role of Truth discussion: Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Role of truth. Many of the same arguments are made there. I only include it here for completeness. I'm neutral on whether this argument should continue on the Community Discussion page or be moved in its entirety to the new subpage.Dcmacnut 19:36, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

Redrafting, yes? Merger, bad?[edit]

At the moment I have an open mind, but it occurs to me that I might end up thinking that the merger was not a good idea but that some or all of the redrafting is an improvement. Is there a way to handle that position? It might be too complicated, but it seems to me that there could be reasons not to merge while at the same time there are reasons not to throw away good drafting work. Or at least, those who are latecomers to the debate (like me) might be tempted to see it like that. Metamagician3000 08:17, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

It's an acute point. The period leading up to the decision to propose a new page (nothing to with me, I might say) was in my opinion one of dark days for the NOR and RS pages in particular. The pages were palpably badly written and RS had accumulated verbal and semantic débris to the point where it was actually contradicting and obfuscating NOR and V in places: yet it was no longer easy to improve these pages because custodial editors were assuming that each individual page was more or less untouchable. The result, in the opinion of some people trying to edit the pages at the time, was a horrible mess: here we had three pages that had become soggier and soggier, and even to attempt improving the wording of one of them required balancing the wording in the other two, leading to inconsistent discussions and (frustratingly) inconsistent and contradictory reversions on three different pages at once. Matters had sunk to the level where actual grammatical errors and punctuation mistakes were being restored to the pages (I could give plenty of diffs for that happening).
Although it wasn't my idea to propose a combined, shorter page to solve these problems (I don't have ideas like that, unfortunately), I immediately saw the advantage; and now I find it very helpful in article disputes to be able to refer to the Attribution page rather than taking a pick'n'mix of three different pages: the wording really does work, and I advise anyone who hasn't done so to try referring to the Attribution page during disputes. The page's superior usefulness as a policy tool in practice is for me the clincher in the present discussion—the proof of the pudding.
Should it be voted to keep all the pages as they were, I agree with you that it might be necessary to propose that some of the Attribution wording replace some of old wording in V, OR, and RS. No doubt that would be a laborious and piecemeal enterprise (but I would be depressed if a consensus defeat of the merger were to be interpreted as a dismissal of all wording on the Attribution page in favour of the older wordings}. qp10qp 13:12, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
"The page's superior usefulness as a policy tool in practice is for me the clincher in the present discussion." Yes. The previous practice of having V rely on RS for its explanations was sloppy in the extreme. Marskell 14:34, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I've added a line to the poll for the position Metamagician suggests; the wording could be sharpened. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:11, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

General en.wikipedia header?[edit]

Silly question: As this is such a massively HUGE thing changing (four core policies), shouldn't this be posted on the general header for all of Wikipedia to get attention to it? If not all of en.wikipedia, then at least... the Wikipedia: name space...? - Denny 09:06, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Not silly; it was done for the fundraising drives, and this is comparably important. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:05, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
That sounds like a good idea to me.  : ) Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 17:27, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I am not so sure. Only a very small subset of editors are involved in policy discussions, and this is not such a huge thing. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 17:52, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
isn't it good to get more people involved...? - Denny 18:38, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
The precise problem with this whole policy implementation was that too few people were involved. Even today most don't know anything has happened. I agree with opening this up as widely as possible. Orderinchaos78 03:43, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I concur with the proposal, either way. I think Jossi's concern is resolved by limiting it to the Wikipedia namespace, but I don't think the concern is a huge one to begin with: People regularly ignore that which they are not interested in (like, um, WP fundraising drives), so it won't hurt anyone. If the fundrasing banner code were recycled, it is even dismissable after it has been seen. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 18:07, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
What would be required to make this happen? Where does it get requested/done? - Denny 18:37, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I believe that WP:PUMP in the tech section is probably the right place. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:01, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I concur that something on that scale should happen; I posted a few times and then largely ignored the first discussions of ATT, as I (apparently, mistakenly) didn't realize fundamental Wiki policy could be changed without a wide-ranging and extensive discussion. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:33, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

I've added a message to MediaWiki:Watchdetails. A message is visible on everybody's watchlist. —Ruud 23:47, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Yay! It works! — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 23:49, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

An option to hide that thing once I'm aware of this would be very nice. --badlydrawnjeff talk 23:51, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

That would likely require some scripting and using a cookie. For now you can add #watchlist-message { display: none; } to your monobook.css. —Ruud 23:55, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Congratulations on finding a good way to notify an appropriate section of the user community. (Obviously ;-) the people you want to reach are people who are addicted to checking their watchlists! Sdsds 23:55, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Note: I do NOT support having this in the sitenotice. No opinion as to watchlist as long as it is not taking up too much screen real-estate. — xaosflux Talk 00:38, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
The watchlist idea is a great one. Now people will actually realize something big is happening. Thank you. Xiner (talk, email) 00:46, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Well, except that it's vanished all of a sudden... — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:15, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, I thought it was a great idea to solve the problem handily. What happened? -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 01:28, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Someone removed it. See MediaWiki talk:Watchdetails. Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 01:31, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I support the watchlist note. Note also that I and others have requested merge tags; see e.g. Wikipedia talk:Verifiability#NOTE: There is a proposal to merge this page into WP:ATT. This would be another way of alerting users, if it were carried out. I don't remember seeing anywhere any explanation of why not to have merge tags. --Coppertwig 23:52, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Suggestion: 5-10 days now, duration of Poll[edit]

As Jimbo himself is directly involved and no one has given a good reason not to have the notice on the Watchlist page, perhaps leave it up for five or ten days, then take it down--that will give everyone absolute notification of this (per Jimmy Wales) very important discussion is happening... then, when it actually goes to a Wales-mandated Poll, the notice will go up again, to let all users know about it, so that all editors can weigh in. Everyone needs to be absolutely aware of this, and this... is the only reasonable way to do it. aside from people complaining that its annoying, I don't see a valid reason to not do this. why would we not want every eligible editor to see this? what can be gained for any sense of keeping this quiet? It should be known to everyone it affects (which is everyone!). If anyone can give a reason why every editor shouldn't have a chance to weigh in... then that is a reason to not do it. otherwise, it should stay up. - Denny 02:18, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I dunno, I would suggest leaving it up until the discussion is done, replacing it with a different notice each time a certain milestone is reached in the process. The current form includes a link that will dismiss the warning, so users who don't want to see it can get rid of it. Meanwhile, if we had someone who came back from a vacation just after the discussion was taken down per your suggestion they'd miss out on the notice. Frankly, for something as important and impactful as this I see no reason why we cannot just leave the notice up until the matter is resolved, especially considering how long the fundraising notice stayed up. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 05:26, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Nothing will be reached if we don't order this talk page. --Neigel von Teighen | help with arbs? 16:28, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

A look at WP:RS and how it fits[edit]

Also posted at the main talk page... I notice that there is a lot of confusion and disagreement about how RS fits into all of this... some people think that RS has been merged into ATT, some people think it hasn't. Some think that ATT elevates RS to Policy, others ardently deny this. I thought I would comment -

The problem is that RS has always been a unique case... falling into a grey zone between policy and guideline status. Both WP:V and WP:NOR discuss the need for reliable sources to back our edits... so, to some degree, the concept of RS has always been a Policy statement. Saddly, neither WP:V and WP:NOR explained what was meant by the term "reliable sources", or how to determine if a source was reliable or not - so a guideline page, "WP:RS", was created take care of this. Unfortunately, the creation of that guideline page put RS into a half in / half out status... on one hand editors could say "RS is Policy" since it is prominently mentioned in several Policy page... but on the other hand, editors could say "no-RS is only a Guideline. See, it says 'Guideline' at the top of the page". Those who wanted to inforce the concept as expressed on the Policy pages, edited the Guideline to emphisize its "these are the rules" nature, those who disagreed with this enforcement edited the guideline to stress it's "this is just guidance" nature. And so we ended up with a Guideline page that stated both "guidance" and "rules" ... Neither betwixt or between.

Now let's look at what happened with the creation of ATT ... some people have complained that ATT "elevated" WP:RS to Policy... others have complained that it "demoted" WP:RS to little more than an essay. But in reality it did neither. The conceptual, "these are the rules" side of RS was re-incorporated into the Policy discussion and made clearer, while the "this is guidance" side of WP:RS was shifted into the FAQ page, to be worked on and eventually made back into a guideline (I would recommend renaming it to something like "Determining reliability". This was not an "elevation" of WP:RS to Policy status... nor was it a demotion of WP:RS to something less than Guideline status ... it was a needed breaking up of something that had alway been a little bit of both.

That's how I see it, in any case... comments? Blueboar 15:10, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for bringing it up here as well, as requested. I think it will be more productive here. :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:59, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Seems reasonable to me. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:29, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I would say that moving it into a policy and a FAQ made it harder to change, which is bad because the details are highly contentious. It is easier to work towards a consensus when it is in a separate guideline, not too strongly tied to a policy.
Also, the merge into Attribution neglects that WP:RS is at least as related to WP:NPOV as it is to WP:V/WP:ATT, if not more so. I am not neutral on this: those who see reliability as binary, the source is reliable or it isn't, would probably see WP:RS as being more related to WP:V/WP:ATT.
I, on the other hand, see reliability as a matter of degrees, which leads me to see WP:RS as more related to WP:NPOV. Reliability can help distinguish between facts and opinions. (If a source is quite reliable and not contradicted by any sources of comparable or greater reliability, the statement can be reasonably stated as a fact.) Reliability is also a good way of gauging proper weight and under weight. Although still susceptible to systemic bias, reliability is most likely our best way of determining the proper weight an opinion should receive. Reliability, as a way of measuring due weight, must necessarily be a matter of degrees, not binary on/off. WP:NPOV currently discusses reliability as a matter of degrees, where you should look for the most reliable/reputable sources. If well-rewritten, WP:RS could provide very good guidance on determining due weight.
Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 17:04, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
It seems clear to me that the way that the RS material is included in ATT promotes RS to the status of a policy. I don't necessarily have a problem with this happening eventually - in fact, I think inclusion of some portion of RS as policy is a necessary change - but I think it goes far beyond the scope of the merger of NOR and V that was originally proposed, and I think it deceives the greater Wikipedian community to couch ATT as being merely the merger of NOR and V because of the inclusion of RS material in ATT. --DachannienTalkContrib 01:02, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I love Blueboar's explanation - now I understand what happened with RS. I would go one step further and not just rename WP:RS to "Determining reliability", but also WP:ATT to WP:RS. I think "reliable source" is the most intuitive term; this would certainly be the one we'd choose if we were creating the policy from scratch, and I think we can cope with legacy problems.
I don't see Armed Blowfish's distinction between gradual and binary policies as such a fundamental difference. Of course a binary policy is always easier to implement, but that's not a problem of the policy, but of the reality which the policy addresses. I think merging a gradual and a binary policy poses no fundamental problem in itself.
I agree with Dachannien's complaint about a communication problem; that's something that went wrong, but now that it has been posted for all to see we can focus on discussing what policy would be best. It would be foolish if we were held back by mistakes of the past. — Sebastian 19:16, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

RS and NPOV[edit]

I think Argumedblowfish's suggestion is very enlightened. Assessing source reliability is much more related to NPOV than ATT.

  • Attribution is primarily concerned with making sure that statements on wikipedia fairly and accurately reflect that which is stated in the cited sources. The main difficulty with proper and fair scholarly attribution is to avoid misusing a source to argue a case that the original sources are not making, and this is covered by WP:SYNT.
  • NPOV is where we make judgements as to what sources merit inclusion and how much weight is given to each source. Judging how much weight to give each source is a more difficult matter and indeed much related to WP:RS.

The benefit with this distinction is that it doesn't confuse arguments against reliability of a source with original research. For example, there is a serious problem when a reliable source copies uncited material from wikipedia (as happened with the Persian Cohen) and then that very source is used to back up the false statement. Finding evidence that this has happened is not original research. Far from discouraging such assessment of sources, we should encourage it. The way I see it, the two-policy model makes much sense. In short, they answer the following two questions:

  1. What sources should be used and what weight is given to each source? (WP:NPOV)
  2. Are the sources represented accurately and fairly without our own interpretations added? (WP:ATT)

What do you think? --Merzul 11:56, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Thanks! : ) Do you think it is worth starting a proposal on this at somewhere like Wikipedia:Undue weight (sources)? — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 15:03, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't know what is the best way of getting this started. I can tell you that the logic of what you are saying is excellent, but input from editors with years of experience would be very helpful as what is good organization of policy can't be assessed by its logic alone. I would be very interested in hearing what people think about Armedflowfish's original idea. (My presentation takes the idea a bit too far by almost implying that Reliable Sources should not be covered in WP:ATT, which is a perhaps too extreme, so please comment on the original idea). --Merzul 19:31, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
The best way I can think of would be to start it, then advertise it as much as possible (including adding a new question to the poll, if a rough draft can be written fast enough), and see if it can build consensus from there. What do you think? — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 20:44, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Well, I started it. It's a very bad draft right now so you are of course invited to participate.  : ) Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 03:20, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
I believe that the issue of source reliability doesn't sit well with the enforcable nature of policy, so it would be useful to represent it in a manner which is more flexible, and useful to editors.
Different sources have different utility subject to the context in which they're being used, and we can move between merely citing a source in support of a statement, through qualifying the statement and citing the source through to a prose description of the source and identification of how it's being used.
I'm generally opposed to the concept that some sources get a free pass based on what they are, rather than how editors are intending on using them in an article. Broadcast media, internet media and print media all have sources which at left of arc are completely unreliable for most purposes through to a right of arc where they are generally reliable for most purposes, but each suffer from vulnerabilities based on their generation process, editorial style etc.
Personally I believe there is more value in providing editors with a set of tools to allow them to evaluate sources and represent them appropriately in text. I am very concious that is a minority opinion, with most of the active participants in this policy area being more comfortable with doctrinal statements, so I'm not convinced that there is likely to be much support for empowering editors in that way. I think there is an issue there, we know that RS was widely ignored in the past and it was mainly used as a tool in disputes rather than as a tool to enhance article quality.

I fully understand the position that Armedblowfish is taking, in that the current doctrinal approach tends to favour a developed western academia based view of the knowledge contained in WP. That is apropriate for some topics, but it lacks the pragmatism needed for other topics and the globalised view required for yet more.

I think coming up with an alternative formulation is a useful exercise.
ALR 18:27, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Invitation template[edit]

I've drafted an invitation template at {{ATTCD}}. Invitations should be neutral, and it might be just as well if we agreed on wording. The indirect compliment to recipients at the end may help spread goodwill towards this project. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:28, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Looks good.  : ) Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 17:17, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Neutral? I don't think so. The wording in that ATTCD template indicates very clearly to anyone understanding English who is right and who is wrong. Can't you see it? Maybe it is the glare from the angle of the lighting. --Rednblu 19:54, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I think this old version was fine.... — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 20:15, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I can see the resemblance to neutrality, yes, in that version. Good eye! But wouldn't it be a good idea to give just a taste of the widely varied opinions among editors that have already looked at this merger in detail? --Rednblu 20:29, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I think that was the version I originally looked at. The problem with giving editors a taste of the widely varied opinions is doing so neutrally. We are having enough trouble writing something neutral without getting into that.  : ) Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 20:42, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
 :) --Rednblu 20:46, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Current version is not neutral; it's loaded. I agree with that version. I encourage involved editors to embrace NPOV, erase history, and really encourage and allow broader discussion this time through. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:26, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

The current version is a verbatim copy of the headers at this page and the poll page. It simply states facts. In any case, if you do not like it, you should not use it. Create your own message instead. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 20:48, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

I have reverted. This is an invitation, not an argument. Those arguments do not need to be made in the invitation, in part because they are made in the headers; and in part because they will be perceived as tendentious by some recipients, which is contrary to policy. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:53, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Not to mention it was about 3x too long. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 02:46, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I would just like to say that I support Jossi's removal of Jimbo's quote. The best way to make this neutral would probably be to ruthlessly remove anything we don't all agree on. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 03:06, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
That quote was cut and pasted from the headers, and I think its removal an improvement. We do need to indicate that the purpose for this discussion is to ensure that the policy structure decided on does have adequate consensus, though. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:29, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

What about process questions?[edit]

What about other, side questions, such as about the process that was (or wasn't) followed, what process should have been, whether process should be clarified, etc.? I think there are probably a lot of opinions on this. Even the very first reactions to Jimbo's stepping raised such questions. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:04, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

PS: Just to be clear, I don't mean adding more questions to Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll, I mean rather that the questions are floating around, and I wonder whether they should be raised as separate topics here or what. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 23:16, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

How do we get rid of the banner?[edit]

on My Watchlist. Where was the decision to put the banner up discussed? :) Seriously though, it is a very bad precedent not to mention annoying and I want it to go away. This whole merger thing sounds like a desire to change policy pages without actually changing policy and as such seems to be a large waste of time that I don't want to be reminded is actually going on. --Tbeatty 23:53, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

It's been downgraded from the in your face blue to a simple message. I agree, though; there's a lot of people (myself included) who don't know/care about this, and it's just a nuisance on what is likely your most visited page. DoomsDay349 23:57, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
The new box is more annoying. DoomsDay349 23:58, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Several of us have recently made it less in-your-face. It can be commented out in your skin sheets with div id "watchlist-message". — xaosflux Talk 00:01, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Apologies for my first design. The current version (although is seems to change every minute) is better. To hide this thing add #watchlist-message { display: none; } to your stylesheet. —Ruud 00:05, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

To hide this message (but not future messages), use the ID "attdiscussion" instead. —David Levy 00:08, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree a link to remove the message would be appreciated. Ocatecir Talk 00:15, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Why not make it part of MediaWiki:Sitenotice? For one, everybody logged in will see it, and it will include a link to disable it. I would, but messing with Wikipedia's interface is something nobody should do unilaterally. --wL<speak·check> 00:03, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Casual reader are likely not very interested in this discussion. —Ruud 00:05, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Casual readers are likely not willing to login. --wL<speak·check> 00:06, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Your point being? —David Levy 00:08, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Based on experience, usually when most people come to Wikipedia to learn something, they usually go to the site and get what they need. They usually have no desire to edit the article. Also not everybody uses a watchlist. Being such a large policy change, I feel it should be shown to all who decide to edit (those who login). The Anonnotice will still show "", so those who get info will not notice it. Or in other words, those who login are more likely to edit than those who don't. --wL<speak·check> 00:14, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I.e., casual readers won't see it, of course. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:16, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. This is for editors, not casual readers. —David Levy 00:08, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, where was this discussed before it was put into place? Announcements like this are good enough for the community portal. It is not imperative that every person see this discussion. I think this is getting ridiculous and it should be taken down from the watchlist pages. Jaredtalk  00:18, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't read community portal, and I'm an admin. --wL<speak·check> 00:22, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
As far as I'm aware of the history, the pages were merged, a lot of people got upset about not being properly informed, Jimbo interfered, unmerged the pages and called for a big community discussion. I don't think the watchlist message is that big of an annoyance (I don't think most people even noticed the Commons Picture of the Year Election spam there that was there a few weeks ago.) —Ruud 00:24, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I just think including it warrants other discussions to randomly be placed on MediaWiki:Watchdetails. And we wouldn't want that, so I say don't set a precedent of including discussions on the talk page. While semi-important, this shouldn't be blown out of proportion and including it on the watch page setup makes this seem like it's a huge problem and important crisis when it really isn't. Less drastic and invasive ideas may be including something more bold on the comm. portal, writing an article for the signpost, etc. There are alternative solutions that have yet to be implimented. Jaredtalk  00:29, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
In my opinion you are underestimating the importance of this discussion (Jimbo rarely interferes personally in policy discussions) and overestimate the importance of the watchlist message (maybe we should even consider using it more often?) —Ruud 00:43, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

From the above comments, some users believe that the watchlist message is too prominent, while others believe that it isn't prominent enough. That probably means that the level of prominence is roughly appropriate. —David Levy 00:38, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

It should probably be made dismissable after a couple of days. Is that possible? Xiner (talk, email) 00:54, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Working on it... but the fact the someone just removed the message makes debugging quite difficult. —Ruud 01:02, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

If Jimbo's implied position that major policy reworkings from here on out need correspondingly major community overview by poll, then we should probably make use of messages like this more often. On the other hand, we may have just come up with the perfect way to ensure NO CONSENSUS on everything. A possible future compromise could be a centralized discussion banner that appeared on all the village pump pages. --tjstrf talk 00:52, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Like {{cent}}? Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 01:43, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Personally, I like getting the notice of such important issues. --A. B. (talk) 02:15, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Ugh, it yields a lot of people making unnecessary posts about their irrelevant opinions. Just like the preceding sentence. But seriously, the people who care are already here. The ikiroid (talk·desk·Advise me) 02:17, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Not necessarily. Ezratrumpet 23:26, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Wow, how much more flippant and self-important can you get. I'm sorry, but the opinion above is not irrelevent. There are plenty of us who don't normally content on policy, but are regular editors of the encyclopedia. There seem to be issues of WP:OWN around policy as much as there are around articles. An invitation like this does attract people who would not normally comment -- and that is the point. -- Pastordavid 02:29, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Exactly... this is why I posted the suggestion. I can't understand why anyone can honestly feel that anyone shouldn't be trumpeting this like we did with the banner everywhere... everyone's voice is of equal value here. - Denny 03:48, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Wow - we have democracy now? ;) Seriously though ... I might not wish to contribute another irrelevant opinion, but that doesn't mean I don't want to know what's going on, so thanks for the banner. --Stephen Burnett 07:14, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I'm grateful for the banner and the heightened awareness about a significant change in WikiPolicy. Ezratrumpet 23:26, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

At the risk of adding another irrelavant comment, might I say thank you for the banner? I don't tend to hang out at the Pump, or edit policy pages, so I wasn't aware of this change until now. I do, however, occasionally comment on xfd, and I do edit articles. As such, knowing about this change matters to me. Skittle 16:09, 26 March 2007 (UTC)


I think that the reason that this is a banner on your watchlist is the large number of users who were surprised by this. I participated in the discussions in the early phase (but have been busy off-Wiki for the past several months), and many prominent Wikipedians were there. But many prominent Wikipedians are now objecting, who weren't there--and I believe them that they were unaware of this. This despite the fact that this proposal was discussed, at various times, in the Signpost, at the village pump, on the mailing lists, on the talk pages of the other policies, etc. Perhaps an error was made in not putting {{merge}} in places.

Notice was also placed on User talk:Jimbo Wales, I'm certain. (I fully realize the sheer amount of stuff that goes there, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if Jimbo never read it).

As Jimbo points out, Wikipedia is a huge place. We can't have a centralized place for All Discussions Of Interest To The Community which everyone who wants to participate in policymaking ought to read--it would be unweildy. So stuff is often hashed out in a dedicated space--and when the results of such discussions are promulgated--others show up ask "why wasn't I informed"--and in some cases suggest that underhanded backroom deals are going on.

Maybe we should forget about WP:ATT and go fix WP:POLICY instead.  :)

How to handle this so most people who care are both informed and happy (a necessary conditition for consensus), I don't know. I know I've been on the other side of the coin--and seen edits I've done reverted due to a recently-created policy I've never heard of before. Real-world communities with participatory political systems (I won't utter the "D" word) that are far smaller than us tend to form legislatures in order to deal with this sort of stuff; I'm not sure the Wikipedia community wants to necessarily go there.

--EngineerScotty 16:17, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

  • Don't give too much credence to the people who don't like being notified. Presumably, most editors actually care about Wikipedia, and would want to know when something as diasterous as this is in the works. WilyD 14:37, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

surely someone would have done this if....[edit]

Errm. This may seem a bit off topic, but I think it lies at the heart of some positions in this debate...

I've been involved in several arguments about WP:V. Some influential editors decry the "fetish-like attachment" to citing many facts. They say that cites do not prevent bogus info from being introduced, etc. They often say "Why should Wikipedia articles look like freshman research papers?" End of story: They want references at the bottom of the page, and as few cites as is reasonably possible in the article text.

I on the other hand think that cites make it physically possible for me to actually verify any one of the many assertions that have been made in the text; I can't do so without knowing which assertions come from which source, and from which page in that source.

Errm, isn't there any way to make an option at the top of a page to toggle on/off any and all citation templates? That means all cites would have to be done via template rather than via simple text, but that may be a smallish price to pay for an everyone-gets-what-they-want solution...

Surely there must be technical probs, or this would have been done, I think...

Thanks! --Ling.Nut 00:22, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

The problem is that many people are not used to citing sources in their normal life and it becomes something threatening to them because of that. If wiki ever wanto become credible then there is only one way to go and this is taking things seriously and strive for acedemic quality. Otherwise we might just all move along to uncyclopedia.
About your technical suggestion, while probably possible, it should not take more than a few minutes to get used to reading artikelns that are cited, and it will be for the benefit of the reader. Drogheda 00:36, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
On the other hand, having massively cited articles does make Wikipedia look like a "freshman research paper", and thus interferes with its being taken as a serious academic source. Ben Standeven 08:28, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Never said it had to be massively cited, but even "freshman research paper" level would be a great leap forward so there is not much to lose. Drogheda 10:56, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't think most people would complain about references on the bottom of the page (not in-line), so long as you aren't in a content dispute, or trying to get the article to Good article/Featured article status. However, if someone takes the time and effort to add in-line references, I don't think they should be removed just to make the article look prettier. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 16:33, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

(undent) I don't know of anyone actually removing existing inline cites; the source of contention is that one faction is vehemently opposed to putting them in, while another wants them... but please do note that I am not here to rehash that argument! That would be pointless. Instead I was fishing for a purely technical compromise. But now I doubt that such a solution is (technically) possible... --Ling.Nut 22:22, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

It would probably require some change to a user's Monobook.css, which could probably be controlled through the preferences. Although I am not sure how to do this, there is probably someone who does. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 23:43, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Citing sources is part of any scholarly community. It's not a "fetish." It's not indicative of a freshman research paper. It's just good scholarship. It also prevents people from putting garbage into an article. It matters a lot. Take a look at any scholarly journal. Olin 19:01, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

widely considered to have been the world's greatest[edit]

Many articles on sportspersons seem to be started / edited by fans. Many of those include an assertion like "X is widely considered to have been the world's greatest Y" somewhere in the intro, often totally unsourced. My question is, how can a strong assertion like that ever be adequately sourced? Shouldn't statements like that be mentioned as a red flag? —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 02:08, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't see what the big deal is. Lot's of people have that as a sort of nickname. Look at Ali, nobody called him "The Greatest" until he began calling himself that as a promotion. And there is no way to prove whether he was or was not actually the greatest boxer ever, but to not put "The Greatest" next to his name would be wrong, because it is tantamount to a nickname. Many well known people have nicknames, and they should be documented. The only requirement should be that it's a verified nickname. Sue Rangell[citation needed] 03:02, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
1. Does this go in this particular community discussion?
2. Is there already policy on this issue?
3. If the answers to the above are 1. yes and 2. no, I note that this bothers me, too. The FIRST LINE of today's featured article is "Ian Thorpe is a former Australian freestyle swimmer who is regarded as one of the greatest freestyle swimmers of all time." It then goes on to provide sourced evidence that would, IF we allowed statements such as "regarded as the best...of all time", allow Thorpe to be the poster child for such statements. So he'd make a good test case -- is there a better way to say this? A NPOV way to say it? A way to avoid trying to use superlatives and "best evar" comparisons in the 'pedia altogether? Jfarber 02:16, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
See WP:ATT... :) ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 02:23, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
There is a better way: it has to say who said it. (attribution). "Ian Thorpe is a former Australian freestyle swimmer who is regarded by XXX and YYY as one of the greatest freestyle swimmers of all time." (assuming XXX and YYY are reliable). To me, it says it, but it is neutral, because it is backed up. --ChaChaFut 02:24, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict) WP:NPOV provides extensive guidance on issues like that. First, you would have to find a source that held the opinion that X was the world's greatest Y, or a source showing a poll that shows that many people believe that. Then, you need to turn in into an indirect statement. "According to Source A, X was the world's greatest Y." Or, if a poll, "According to Poll A, 82% of B people polled consider X to have been the world's greatest Y." If you can, discuss some facts that might cause people to believe that X was the world's greatest Y.
Of course, if Source A is Mister Joe Bob's Myspace blog, no one cares. You would be giving Mister Joe Bob's opinion undue weight.
I hope that helps. Personally, I think WP:RS should strive to further explain WP:NPOV#Undue_weight, but that might be a radical idea.
Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 02:29, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps the fact that relative newbies wouldn't know where to go to address this issue -- AND the fact that I have now been directed to three totally different places to answer it -- says what it needs to about both the importance of the current community discussion...and the need for whatever we decide to include, as a judging criteria, serious consideration of whatever ultimate solution would be as accessible and clear as possible.
For example, I find that ChaChaFut's/Blowfish's suggestion above makes a first sentence in an article goes against that same instinct towards clarity, as it makes that sentence both unnecessarily bulky and, in the case of true field-toppers as Thorpe, too citation-heavy to be effective (which of the hundreds of sources for that statement would you pick? Who would be the BEST XXX and YYY to pick?). Jfarber 02:30, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I posted this here because I wouldn't know where else to go with this, hoping for some input. It's also a question of NPOV, of course, but in this case, attribution seems to be the catch. I believe that "one of the greatest" and "the greatest" are subtly distinct cases. And die-hard fans are often hard to convince, in my experience. They tend to insist precisely on this statement of "widely considered the best/greatest", and whenever they come up with any kind of RS, they simply reference the assertion and treat it like the truth. Incidentally, I happen to believe that users should be educated as to this distinction between viewpoint and quoting. Is this difference between the two mentioned in any policy? Or do you have any suggestion where to go with this concern? —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 02:37, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, KNcyu38, WP:NPOV#A_simple_formulation discusses the difference between facts (including facts about opinions), and opinions/values. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 02:43, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Jfarber, the question of which XXX and YYY might be best is what should really be covered by WP:RS. The best XXX might be a poll conducted by a respected news source, like the New York Times or BBC. Or, perhaps a respected organisation that specialises in the topic. This is just a brief answer, of course. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 02:39, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Discussion Standards[edit]

Reading through this discussion there is one very significant omission occurring too frequently. This discussion is about original research, reliable sources, verifiability yet the discussion talks but doesn't practice its own standards. There are any claims about positive and negative affects like these: "People were always complaining about the policies being spread over two pages", "the debates at AfD began to move away from the subject test" or ". The debates at AfD make this evident."diffs these claims should be supported by diffs , diff not intended to single out any editor just an example. Gnangarra 02:20, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Of course this page doesn't comply with content policy. No talk page does; this is not encyclopedia text.[citation needed] Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:13, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
The point remains... there are claims being made with no evidence to back them up. —Wknight94 (talk) 03:39, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Just for kicks I will add a reference section below[1]--Jorfer 03:43, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jorfer

No vote[edit]

I vote for no vote. Let's not have a vote on this. WAS 4.250 03:49, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Jimbo mandated it. - Denny 03:51, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Noone mandated anything. Jimbo noted that the process by which the three revert rule was implemented was a good one, and is probably the best available model for introducing large-scale policy changes. That involved much discussion accompanied by a series of polls (1, 2, 3, 4) to gauge consensus at various steps along the way. --bainer (talk) 04:03, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo requested "a poll to assess the feelings of the community as best we can, and then we can have a final certification of the results". Thats asking for a poll to gauge concensus, which is what is underway shortly... are you saying it would be best to run the poll through a few times to bulletproof the concensus? The problem from my understanding of how it went down--note, I support the ATT policy--is that not "everyone" got a chance to be informed/contribute, and he wanted that. Is it a bad thing for giving a maximum number of editors a firm voice in deciding this now for good? - Denny 04:11, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm reminding you that he specifically mentioned the process leading up to the final form of 3RR. That involved:
  1. much work in drafting and developing a policy proposal,
  2. broad community discussion on the proposal, and
  3. several polls along the way, held as needed when it was important to gauge consensus on particular aspects of the proposal,
repeated as necessary. We've already had the first step. Now we're having a broad community discussion, and we'll have polls along the way where it is necessary to gauge consensus. Noone has "mandated" a "vote". --bainer (talk) 04:29, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Jimbo also supports Voting is evil and Ignore all rules. Jimbo supports not having a vote, too. WAS 4.250 04:24, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't believe that Jimbo has the prerogative to "mandate" anything. Decisions should be made by the community in accordance with WP:CONSENSUS. Walton Vivat Regina! 15:41, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Consensus, please!! No votes! I'm not against voting itself, just that the decision should be consensus because it's an important matter. Maybe votes to know what people think in a more ordered manner (=polls), but the decision should be done trying to reach consensus between the major opinions reflected in polls. Polls first, consensus decision after. --Neigel von Teighen | help with arbs? 16:34, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo mandates lots of things, many of them self-contradictory. Although it's worth noting that these contradictions happen over time and everyone does ends up contradicting themselves over a long enough period.
But voting does tend to discourage consensus and polarises debate, it's not helpful.
ALR 08:09, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
I like your logic, WAS 4.250. Chevinki 18:19, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Keep it simple stupid[edit]

The above header gives my opinion. People are nitpicking on details when people need to focus on what will make Wikipedia easier to edit and that would be to have all the guidelines as far as sourcing on one page so I say merge, merge, merge.--Jorfer 03:54, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Jorfer, you took the words right out of my mouth. The articles in question are related to an extent that requires merger. In addition, having on article to read will be easier and less time consuming.--88wolfmaster 04:47, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Exactly, and it might boost Wikipedia's credibility showing that we can have one umbrella policy, that we value sourced statements, and are not divided over credibility issues. Plus it'll become much simpler and easier to understand.-Randalllin 05:25, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

What if a newcomer is trying to accustom themself to the rules? They may be intimidated by a universal page of rules, I really don't see how it will be easier and less time consuming unless you account for the enormous amount of time it takes to click on a link. Ashnard talk 09:51, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

And four pages of rules is somehow less intimidating?--Jorfer 15:54, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

it is just a pain to have four articles because you go and read one article then you have to go and read three more articles that cover the same if not similar material. if the articles were merged then one nice straightforward article to read.--88wolfmaster 23:23, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I agree, when I first came here to Wikipedia I wasted a lot of time just reading through pages of policy that could have all been put into one. It's really annoying that I go to read about a policy or guideline and the page I'm reading has me go to another page, then that other page to another page. Sometimes I end up not finding the answer to the question I had in the first place because I end up going from one page to another. Please merge the pages. --Leon Sword 23:37, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Agreed! The rules are too scattered. Salad Days 03:17, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

And why do you assume it is simpler to have all the policies mixed up? Actually it is simpler to have each policy on its own page rather than trying to create a confusing compilation (It slices! It dices! It peels potatoes!). When you are discussing an OR problem on the talk pages, you want to link, unambiguously, to the WP:NOR policy; when you are discussing lack of proper references, you link to the WP:V policy. This is clearer, and far superior than pointing to a convoluted page that mentions a lot of different policies. KISS! Freederick 12:43, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

if you took a look at the voting page then you would have noticed that their is an option to merge the topics but keep the original pages up as in depth references.--88wolfmaster 14:21, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Why not? Look at Wikipedia:Arguments to avoid in deletion discussions, it's a veritable Swiss Army Knife of things. Salad Days 00:22, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

It should be possible to get a quick overview, and it should be possible to drill down to detail. - Jmabel | Talk 18:10, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

In four pages we can partition how we want to read it, if it is all merged we feel the need to read through the whole page, one big super page is unlikely to solve the problem. Eitherway you look at, looking through the whole rules is quite a laborious process. Ashnard talk 15:17, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Good policy, terrible name[edit]

(This was originally a reply to Mlm42 in a section above, but I think it needs it own section.) While I see Mlm42's point, I think it's "attributable" that's the bad word. "Verifiable" is a relatively strong word, with the concept of truth at its root. The connotation of "verifiable" is of checking something against a trusted source, and finding it confirmed to be true. "Attribution", on the other hand, is a weak word: all it means is that you saw something somewhere and can point at the source. I can see a whole new generation of editors who see references to something called "Wikipedia:Attribution" and respond indignantly when their contribution is challenged, "but I attributed it!" (to a blog, to somebody's home page, to a gossip site, to a fan site, to a conspiracy forum). There's nothing innate in "attribution" that implies "attribution to a reliable source"; you have to actually read the policy to know that. I agree that WP:ATT is very good policy... but with a terrible name.

I support a community consensus endorsing the new policy, verbatim et literatim, but I don't think it's too late to come up with a better name, since if we don't, I fear endless explanations based on the misleading single word "attribution". --MCB 03:56, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't like the name either. I think the content from Attribution should be moved to Reliable Sources because I think that is the best name for the policy.--Jorfer 04:04, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Verifiability was no better, as it apparently led to widespread confusion over the role of truth in our articles and its catchphrase "Verifiability not truth" was oxymoronic. I doubt there is a single perfect word for the concept we describe on this page, or at least not one in English. What we really mean when we say attributable is Wikipedia:Only submit content that you didn't make up, can be looked up somewhere else, and is important enough to bother having an article about. --tjstrf talk 04:07, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
What about Wikipedia:We are really, really picky about the quality of our articles? :-) GChriss <always listening><c> 13:46, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
The new proposed merged policy is all about "attribution" not "verifiability". That's why it says "whether material is attributable to a reliable published source, not whether it is true". The intention seems to be precisely so someone can say "but I attributed it!" to defend an edit. --Audiovideo 20:30, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Attributabliliy to a reliable published source ? WAS 4.250 04:31, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

  • (edit conflict) I also think "Attribution" is not a very good name, because it may lead to confusion with the Creative Commons Attribution License (which some wikipedia materials are tagged with). I guess Wikipedia:Reliability would be a better name, just in my opinion. Wooyi 04:50, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Reliability is perfect. Why has no one thought of this?--Jorfer 05:00, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
"Reliability" is not bad, but the one word I'd suggest is "Sourcing", since it has the advantage of not being in common use in that form and thus not carrying a lot of connotative baggage. So, consider this a proposal: Wikipedia:Sourcing. (The present page at that name is a redirect to Wikipedia:Template messages/Sources of articles, and it certainly could be repurposed without breaking anything. --MCB 06:39, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I disagree. WP:V, WP:A, WP:NOR are all policies regarding the content of articles, whereas WP:RS applies to the nature of sources. We can write that a source is or is not reliable, but we should never claim that an article or its content is "reliable", as "reliability" of wiki articles is not fixed. Anyone can edit and thus vandalise a wiki article, thereby rendering it an "unreliable" source. -- Black Falcon 07:53, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, fully agree, reliability should not be a name of a policy where original research is discussed. Giving original arguments why a source might be unreliable is important. We should distinguish arguments related to content from the meta-analysis of sources, also see #RS and NPOV. --Merzul 12:03, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
The reliability of the content can only be as good as the reliability of its sources so I feel you are really nitpicking. If you have a claim that the United States government is responsible for September 11th and you source it to Rosie O' Donnell's blog then the reliability of the statement depends on the reliability of Rosie O' Donnell blog. It is true that reliable content will sometimes be sourced to unreliable source, but unreliable sources ultimatly drain reliability from even reliable content like if you sourced the sky being blue to The National Association for the Advancement of a Blue Sky (I made this organization up but you see my point).--Jorfer 16:07, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
No, I'm not nit-picking, I agree that the reliability of content can only be as good as the reliability of its sources, but sometimes it can be even worse. Please look at the Talk:Sacha_Baron_Cohen#Persian Mother?, I think we should take this kind of arguments against the reliability of a source very seriously, as more and more people are starting to use Wikipedia as a source. Another example, on the article about God we had cited Adherents.com stating that 75% of the world's scientist believe in God. After tracing the sources two-three steps back, it turned out this was actually taken from a poll in the Italian magazine Class, clearly not a reliable source for this statement at all. There are times when we should dispute the reliability of a source by such meta-analysis, but this is different from original research that attempts to prove that a source is wrong by refuting its content. In any case, I might be totally wrong, but I'm not nitpicking, I think this is a serious issue. --Merzul 20:29, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Your looking at Original Research as being different because of how the original researcher is trying to put in his viewpoint, but you need to look at it from the view that Original Research is based on an unreliable source and that is the Original Researcher. Wikipedia is a reflection of experts viewpoints on material because experts are considered the most reliable source. Wikipedia since it is based on reliable sources and not content is one step behind academia because it needs to wait for verification from reliable sources. Eventually the original research will make it into Wikipedia once it has been backed up by respectable sources. Ultimatly, sources are not what is being refuted; content is. Wikipedia as an encyclopedia is a reflector of knowledge and not a creator of it. It is not a forum to introduce new ideas, so unlike academia, it requires reliable sources because they indicate that an idea is already accepted to a degree that it would be appropriate to include in Wikipedia. To sum it up, Wikipedia is limited to reflecting the current body of knowledge by it being an encyclopedia so it uses reliable sources to gauge the acceptance of knowledge the figurative body. The problem lies with sourcing of original research and not with original research itself as all knowledge that humans have gained were at one point original research.--Jorfer 01:14, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
You aren't addressing the problems I'm talking about. I'm saying there are cases where we might well be able to detect blatant factual mistakes in an otherwise (somewhat) reliable source by comparing and contrasting sources without engaging in a discussion of the actual content. How else would you approach the problem with Cohen's Persian mother? --Merzul 09:55, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Even when discussing this problem, it still comes back to reliable sources. You proved that The Guardian was not a reliable source in this case and thus the content needed to be removed. The reliability of sources is something that can be looked into because it is something that can change. If the Guardian article was written before the Wikipedia article then it is more reliable than if it written afterwards. The confusion of what constitutes original research on Wikipedia is a big reason the articles need merging into as one document titled Reliability or Sources as someone suggested. Adding your unexplored reason as to why .999... does not equal 1 is original research while originaly researching the reliability of a source does not constitute original research as the Wikipedia guideline defines it.--Jorfer 22:05, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Ok, now I'm confused why I disagreed with you. I'm just worried that if this policy is called Reliability, then having a section called NOR inside it would confuse this distinction. I'm starting to see my argument is very weak, as the policy could make that distinction clear. I have no further objections, seems like a good idea, but I don't feel strongly either way. --Merzul 01:07, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

I agree with User:WAS 4.250.. is there a problem with

it's 6 words long.. but is that a big problem? Mlm42 08:18, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes, any of those would be fine. Also, most other policies have long names, so I don't see any problem with that. On the other hand, the situation is identical to NPOV or should it be Wikipedia:Neutral point of view with respect to reliable sources as the first sentence in that policy too defines it as such. --Merzul 09:55, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I do like the name of WP:ATT. The trouble with "verifiability" is that, in normal usage outside Wikipedia, it implies "something which can be shown to be true", making the famous Wikipedia dictum "verifiability, not truth, is the threshold for inclusion" a near-oxymoron. "Attribution", on the other hand, is a more accurate description of what we do, which consists of ascribing every controversial statement to a reliable external source. Obviously, it would be impossible/impractical to check every statement for its truth. But it's highly possible to check every statement for its origin, if sources are cited. Walton Vivat Regina! 18:57, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I think you're reading too much into the word "reliable". The Truth is a much loftier concept. "Reliable" has as much to do with "truth" as with "eternity".
    But I'd like to get back to Black Falcon's point above. The distinction between demanding reliability and determining what it really means is important. I think this is why Blueboar (above) proposed to rename RS to something like "Determining reliability". If we did this, we could rename WP:ATT to something like Wikipedia:Attribution to a reliable published source or even Wikipedia:Rely on published sources. WP:RS then could become a disambiguation page to account for the fact that we have used "RS" in both meanings historically. — Sebastian 19:47, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
The content policies are about content of articles, not content of talk pages, where individuals sign their posts. There's nothing wrong with checking up on whether a source is unreliable because it was published after the same unsourced statement appeared in Wikipedia. I would call that original research, and I would say that there is nothing wrong with that sort of original research appearing on talk pages. Another kind of original research that can appear on talk pages is research to determine that 75% of the sources say one thing and 25% say another. You can do this as a Wikipedian by counting books in the library or whatever. You can't quote those numbers in the article, but you can state them on the talk page and use them to guide which POV gets more prominence in the article. Saying that something is "not original research" just because it obviously should be allowed on talk pages is stretching the definition unnecessariy. --Coppertwig 00:16, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
Coppertwig, i'm not sure i see what this has to do with the above discussion.. perhaps you meant to post this in another thread? Mlm42 12:39, 28 March 2007 (UTC) Sorry, i missed the rest of the thread. Mlm42 20:29, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
I think Sebastian has a good idea, with his suggested renamings of WP:RS and WP:ATT.. i think this thread highlights the observation that many of the discussions here are about the names of the policies rather than the policies themselves. Moreover, that it isn't enough to consider the name of a single policy, but how the names of all the relevant policies fit together. Mlm42 20:43, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Reliability isn't a bad name at all. —Remember the dot (talk) 05:34, 31 March 2007 (UTC)


The policy could start out with:

I think this is a much better way to describe the policy than using the words "verifiable" or "attributable". —Remember the dot (talk) 03:35, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

WP:REF ?[edit]

This discussion also involves the WP:REF which should be the main page.. I think and then have all these other pages merged into a "Supportive content" section --((F3rn4nd0 ))(BLA BLA BLA) 04:32, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Citing sources is patently irrelevant to this discussion. It is a style guide, not a content guideline. Michaelas10Respect my authoritah 11:36, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

WP:ATT with so much editing (300 editors, 5000 edits) should start out stronger[edit]

I generally prefer smaller singular policy pages. The nutshell looks good, but then comes the second principle: 2)Wikipedia articles must be based on reliable sources, and this line: "In general, the most reliable sources are books and journals published by universities, mainstream newspapers, and magazines and journals that are published by known publishing houses. I assume you mean "books and journals published by university press publishers," not "books and journals published by universities," as not all university press publishers are a close part of the university they are affiliated with in name. Even our article on University presses gets this right. I would like to have seen such a sweeping policy change have really been dug at by a large portion of the community such that basic details were correct--no, I haven't researched it, but I didn't write the policy. This is not a small detail way down in the article, this is prominent, the second principle tells Wikipedia editors to go to reliable sources and then mistates the reliable sources. University presses are subsumed in the last part of this also, as they are known publishing houses. It is requested on WP:ATT that the page not be changed, however I suggest that this sentence be corrected to say "books and journals published by university press publishers," as I think is intended. This should also be changed elsewhere in Wikipedia on reliable sources. I will change it there if I can find it. KP Botany 04:53, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Should it not say "academic presses"? Presses such as Routledge are just as respectable as Cambridge University Press. They also require their books to go through a rigorous peer-review. Awadewit 05:08, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't think that academic presses and university presses are the same thing. Routledge is an academic press, an academic arm of some mainstream publisher, not at all the same thing as a university press. It is, or should be covered, under mainstream or known publishers. KP Botany 05:16, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

WP:NPOV[edit]

I believe the intro to this discussion is in direct violation of WP:NPOV. "Jimbo stated that despite the very good work done at by people laboring on ATT" For shame. Also, what kind of sense does "work done at by people" make?! None! As the obsessive-compulsive nerds that Wikipedians are, why has this matter not been addressed before? ~~ Gromreaper(Talk)/(Cont) 10:00, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

If you see a grammatical error, just fix it yourself. There isn't a need to apply WP:NPOV outside the mainspace. Michaelas10Respect my authoritah 10:20, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Well, is it not in your power to remove this or modify it? It is nonsensical rubbish on both accounts that you mentioned, and to think such a statement was placed about such a matter. Ashnard talk 10:14, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I've edited it so it at least makes sense now, whether the whole statement should be removed or not is another matter, I didn't want to be too intrusive and delete it as it would basically degrade what followed as that leads on from the aforementioned statement. Ashnard talk 10:19, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes Michael, I see how your comment was so diverse to mine that it justified its addition (above mine as well).Calm down Ashnard, I must stop getting terratorial over a discussion page. Ashnard talk 10:27, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

combining is a really bad idea[edit]

Think! What is the primary use of these separate pages? As quick references in edit disputes, primarily as justification for rejection of material. Compare the likely understanding of a new editor when his material is removed with a pointer to WP:No original research versus WP:Attribution. The only people who could love this monstrosity are those who spend more time arguing about policy than writing articles --can't we find a separate project for them to work on so they don't interfere with the rest of us? This is a no-brainer! alteripse 11:08, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

he has a point! The laudable desire to have a small number of official policy pages collides with the need to have quick and succinct policy pages newbies can be pointed to depending on the case at hand. This can be alleviated by having shortcuts to h2 sections of the big unified policy page, but that isn't really all that different from having the different points on individual pages. dab (𒁳) 11:25, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Clearly each side of the idea can make strong arguments for their own sides, but in the end, what matters the most is that the policies work together, nomatter if they are on one or three pages. Unless there is any conflict between them then just do whatever is easiest and move on to greener pastures. Drogheda 11:29, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
hear hear, don't spill too much virtual ink over a simple "h2 sections vs. separate pages" question completely irrelevant to the actual content of the policy. dab (𒁳) 12:11, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • YES - and keep the current pages as pages which summerize part of a policy, like WP:CREEP does. Od Mishehu 12:39, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
  • However, why couldn't they just point to the relevant WP:ATT sections dealing with original research? I do not see a problem with the merge, really. mike4ty4 19:12, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Attribution with strengthen Wikipedia[edit]

I have had no previous involvement to this discussion. Some time ago, when I read that several of the "classic" WP policies had been merged into Wikipedia:Attribution, I immediately thought it was a great idea. Now I hear that the merger has been called into question. Discussion is always good, but I for one think it will be best for WP if the merger is upheld.

Wikipedia:Attribution is:

  • Clear
  • Strong
  • Intuitive for new contributors (i.e. a good guide) and passive onlookers (i.e. a good PR tool)
  • Will further NPOV by promoting valid individual POV's that can be backed up with stable and reliable sources, and even pertinent quotes.
  • Will ultimately lead to the documentation through footnotes of nearly every claim made in WP articles.


WP:ATTR is the best way to summarize and clearly state the closely related policies that will ultimately make WP into not only the largest organized body of knowledge ever assembled, but a highly reliable one as well. WP:ATTR does this far better than "no original research" or "verifiability" and the like.

I suppose nothing I've said here is extremely original since the discussion has apparently been going on for quite a long time, but I wanted to make sure there would be a voice for those of us who see this whole thing as both positive and sensible. Dovi 12:22, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

"Will ultimately lead to the documentation through footnotes of nearly every claim made in WP articles." This is the first time Ihave heard this argument. WP:ATT makes it clear that not all attributable material needs to be attributed, and SlimVirgin's explanation at User:SlimVirgin/Attribution explains that this was intentional. CMummert · talk 12:30, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree. If I thought WP:ATT would have that effect, I would oppose it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:20, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I like the merged guideline and article. It is confusing to have several guidelines about the same type of stuff. WP:ATTR adds clarity and is very helpful. Abridged 00:01, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

"Request for clarification"[edit]

I make this "Request for Clarification" (maybe I have been advocating too much in ArbCom cases recently!) aimed for all responsible wikipedians discussing here:

  1. Clarify what is this page for: URGENT. At the beginning, this page was to discuss WP:ATT-related changes and now we're discussing the way policies should be made and whether Jimbo likes voting or not. Please, we should define the topic and stop any unrelated discussion. If not, the whole talk page and discussion will have been useless.
  2. Define methods: After defined what is the topic, define the way it will be discussed and how discussion-derivate changes will be applied (vote, poll, or even de facto... something!).

I think it's simple. May I have your help, please? (This is an attempt from an Harmonious Editing Club member to have a constructive experience here) --Neigel von Teighen | help with arbs? 13:04, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Trying to supplement the above comment, I must also point out that I tried to follow the discussion but after so many sections, sub-sections etc. I feel lost! I don't know! Could we somehow summarize the problem, Jimbo's stance (expressed as I see not by himself but by third parties), where do we stand now (if we stand anywhere), and what are we supposed to do from now on? Thanks!--Yannismarou 13:18, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I fear I felt the same. If we don't bring this in order, all of it will be useless... believe me. --Neigel von Teighen | help with arbs? 13:51, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

See: User:SlimVirgin/Attribution. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 15:26, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I know what is the key-discussion, but I see that the topic is being lost. I'm for merging all policies into ATT (but not guidelines as RS to ensure an easy newbies' access to rules). I beg for order so the discussion can give a consensus-builded solution. --Neigel von Teighen | help with arbs? 15:33, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Including WP:NPOV? WP:NPOV is very well-written right now, in my opinion. Any significant change, and most minor ones, would be more likely to bring it down than improve it. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 16:37, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Ups, I wasn't clear enough... or my non-native english tricked me again. No, I was talking about merging WP:V and WP:NOR (policies) into ATT, but not merging WP:RS (guideline). NPOV is a great written policy and, if someone proposes to merge it anywhere, I'll be hardly against it. Hope this clarifies my position and that I didn't any mistake at this message... Excuse me! --Neigel von Teighen | help with arbs? 17:56, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for clarifying!  : ) Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 19:31, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Two points[edit]

a) Why exactly are you pestering everyone on their watchlist about this? Spam is not a good thing. b) Who gives a shit? Policy around here tends to be full of nonsense anyway, we have WP:IAR, and people will continue to act exactly as they do already regardless of what is policy or where is written Modest Genius talk 13:19, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

a) You are being too flippant, it's not spam, the User has the option to dismiss the notice, it is actually a considerate thing to state that there is a discussion. It's not pestering! Oh God, you have to get over the overwhelming agony of having a notice on your watchlist. Would you prefer to be ignorant of the matter?
b)We shouldn't omit the discussion to cater for people who don't care, without policy there is anarchy and you fail to point out what is wrong with it. Ashnard talk 13:29, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I think it is good that the notice to this discussion is posted on my watchlist. At first I did not like it. But I am trying to follow the discussion here, however intermittently, because it's importance is obvious. Bus stop 16:58, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I also think it was nice to have this notification posted in the watchlists. Very good idea and effective! I must admit that I wouldn't have taken notice of the discussion otherwise (although I know I should!). Now to the point: without being able to follow all the arguments and counter-arguments, my first impression is that merge is the correct solution. In law, all the jurists know that too many laws spread around are a bad think. No lawyer can find them, and ignorance or semi-ignorance is the final outcome of this chaotic situation! I see the merge here as some kind of "codification" that brings together poilicies spread in 3 pages. If this codification is done correctly, it results in coherency and better access to the policies.--Yannismarou 17:54, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I wouldn't have either... Thank you for spamming us! ;) --Neigel von Teighen | help with arbs? 17:57, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I think it was a great idea to do this. Kudos to whoever's idea it was. Metamagician3000 01:40, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
I liked the idea. I think it is the only way to reach a true consensus on the issue and most Wikipedians do not realize how important this issue is. People need to get over eye sores on Wikipedia and use what it takes to get the job done. If an annoying tag is going to encourage a person to find sources then put it. People are acting like there wathchlist is sacred or something. I think I am seeing the beginning of Wikianity; "Thou shalt not disturb my watchlist for any reason"-Wiki 10:8.--Jorfer 02:46, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree with the decision to watchlist it - it was really the first I knew that there *was* a discussion in the terms given. Those who really don't want it can edit monobook.css and remove it (if you need instructions on how to do that, they are somewhere else in this discussion page - just Ctrl-F search for "monobook") Orderinchaos78 09:57, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Another thumbs up on watchlisting the notice. I appreciate the attempt to get as many contributors informed & participating. --mordicai. 16:58, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Ditto to the above. Honestly, there would have been no way I would have noticed any change at all if it weren't for it. Besides, being here makes me feel like I'm a part of the community :-) Delta 22:43, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Having it both ways[edit]

Can we have both WP:ATT, and separate small pages with the policy broken into parts for newbies? I think that if I posted something and got directed to WP:ATT in response to my post (now reverted), I would have left. However, I did get pointed a number of times when I first started editing to various little policies, that I could read briefly and comprehend and apply and see where I went wrong and how to correct it for future edits.

KP Botany 20:28, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes, see the second and third options of the third question of the poll. [2]
I agree that it is easier to digest in the separate pieces of Wikipedia:Verifiability and Wikipedia:No original research.
Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 20:36, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I thought the poll was supposed to be after this discussion? But, yes, much easier to digest a little bit at a time. I'm not a user who signed on and edited my monobook as my first edit. Throw all the policy at me at once, and I'll simply not read it. Why bother? It's like saying, no, anybody can't edit, anybody shouldn't be bold, anybody should sit and spend two months in class before they touch Wikipedia. KP Botany 20:54, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
The poll is afterward; it is not open yet; there is a lot of consensus-building discussion (and unfortunately contentious debate) on what the poll should say, at Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Poll. More editors trying to hammer out consensus on that comparatively minor matter would probably be of great use. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 20:58, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
And still subject to change, hence why I provided a permanent link to the question I was referring to. But yeah, there are middle options available.  : ) Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 21:22, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I think it's important that if we have separate pages (WP:ATT; or WP:V, WR:NOR, etc.) we make it quite clear that in case of conflict, one group of pages will be the authoritative one. For this it might help to have a "derivative policy" header, to say that WP:ATT is a summary of the authoritative policies at WP:V and WP:NOR or that WP:V and WP:NOR are elaborations of the authoritative policy at WP:ATT.
I really don't care much which way it should go, but given the dynamic nature even of policy pages, we need something like that to deal with the inevitable contradictions that will emerge if both sets of pages are kept active in some form. To say that one set is a former policy and is retained for historical reasons leaves the implication (especially with the big red X) that what is on those pages is no longer valid. That doesn't seem very hepful at all.
--SteveMcCluskey 22:56, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't think I am disagreeing with that, although I would prefer that WP:V and WP:NOR remain definitive, with WP:ATT as the summary. However, at the same time, I don't think people who propose changes to policy on the talk pages of non-definitive policies should be ignored. See below. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 23:39, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Making sure people aren't ignored just because they make a suggestion on the wrong talk page[edit]

If one of the middle options is chosen, one concern is the people might be ignored if they make suggestions for changing policy on the talk pages of the subordinate pages. In order to help prevent this from happening, I'd like to make the following suggestions:

This assumes, of course, that one of the two middle options on question 3 (see links above) is chosen.

Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 21:31, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I can see why anyone would be concerned there is very little input from the community on this. I bow out. KP Botany 21:43, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I don't understand what you mean. Have fun, I guess. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 21:46, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I think KP Botany was making a sarcastic comment meaning it's quite funny, with all this discussion going on on this page, that anyone would be putting up watchlist messages or worrying about whether the merge tags are up. --Coppertwig 00:27, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

This isn't right![edit]

The policies to be merged may be similar (that's why they're in the same category,) but they are DEFINITELY different, and they ought to remain separate policies. --Luigifan 22:47, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

How are they different? Fair scholarly attribution implies that you cite your source, describe what was in the source fairly and you don't use the source to draw your own conclusions or argue a case that can't be traced back to the cited sources. If everything must be attributable, then that immediately leaves no room for original research. --Merzul 23:17, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure that's true - take poetry, one could cite lines of poetry in support of a contentious interpretation, it would be "verified" but still original research. IMMSHO that is the fine line that disunites the two concepts.--Red Deathy 10:44, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Bear in mind that even if they are different, the different facets can still be highlighted in that same single location; see for example the vast collection at WP:NOT, which are based around the same starting few words but address a whole range of different policies from what WP is used for/as, censorship, and politics of editing. That's a whole bunch of different policies... but they're easy to find and keep track of if required, because they're all in one place. Handy. Different, yes. Requiring separation, no. --Firien need help? 11:08, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Agree with Firien, but I will still continue the argument, because the poetry example clearly violates ATT. You have essentially two choices and both violate ATT:
  1. You are falsely attributing your interpretation to the source, which is in violation of ATT, because the material must be "directly and explicitly supported by the cited sources", or
  2. you are distancing the interpretation from the actual poem, in which case your interpretation simply lacks attribution, and hence is a violation of ATT.
But take the case, where you cite Darwin out of context, then you are again falsely attributing it Darwin, but the quotation is verifiable and it isn't original research; it's just dishonest and bad attribution. Currently NPOV has to deal with this issue, but it really should be part of our culture of honest scholarly use of sources, and I see ATTRIBUTION as taking us in the right direction. --Merzul 01:26, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Cutting down on pages...[edit]

I agree with this and most mergers. I think Wikipedia policy is too complex, too lengthy and has too many holes in it. I often find myself encountering contradictions in the policy. Even if they are not the same, they are similar and merging them and cutting them down into a single page makes much more sense for the sake of simplicity and manageability.Wikidudeman (talk) 23:21, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I concur. Well argued. --Coolcaesar 23:55, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Ditto. bibliomaniac15 00:11, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Anything that lowers the barrier of entry for new contributors, while keeping policy intact and concise, is helpful. Adm58 00:46, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Amen. Grace Note 06:28, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes. Policy should be concentrated not spread over many small and overlapping pages. Sander123 08:18, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. Navigating WP Help/Guidelines is an absolute nightmare. I'm in favour of anything to consolidate and organise it. Rocksong 04:46, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Too much fat trimming.[edit]

I think that the idea for merging the pages was good. But the way it was done could of been better. I feel that too much information has been lost in the merging. YaanchSpeak! 00:59, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Can you give an example of that which was lost? Also, see WP:ATTFAQ, which you may have missed. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 03:31, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
This may beg the question of whether most other people would miss it too. I hadn't even thought of that until now. Cf. my idea somewhere else that if the "make ATT the main page and have the others be explanatory side pages" compromise goes through, that the other pages should turn into FAQs about those aspects of ATT. That would probably fix this "huh? what FAQ?" problem, since the shortcuts are all over the place and would continue to be used when people didn't want to refer to the precise policy language at ATT. Just a thought. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 07:33, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
The statement in WP:NOR

Original research that creates primary sources is not allowed. However, research that consists of collecting and organizing information from existing primary and/or secondary sources is, of course, strongly encouraged. All articles on Wikipedia should be based on information collected from published primary and secondary sources. This is not "original research"; it is "source-based research", and it is fundamental to writing an encyclopedia.

is a matter of crucial importance that has been omitted. Without something on these lines WP:ATT fails to be a sole or canonical statement of the existing policies. Encouragement should continue to be given to writing in an encyclopedic manner. Thincat 11:10, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
If I understand the rationale of Slimvirgin (see the talk page of her essay at WP:ATTPRO), I believe that this is because RS was derived as an extrapolation from V and NOR; to the extent that RS is directly derived from these policies it has been merged back into ATT, and to the extent that it is a novel extrapolation is has been or is intended to be merged into WP:ATTFAQ, because RS is just a guideline, and merging guideline-sourced material into a policy page would be a dreaded Policy Change. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:57, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
See the joke chess problems example above. Would you say that this would be legal under the previous rules but illegeal under the proposed rule?
I think it's good that they cut out a lot of stuff. Policies in general, and especially these, should be subject to interpretation for each specific issue. They need to remain flexible, so the actual policy page should explain the idea behind them, but not get too specific and allow for wikilawyering. — Omegatron 15:55, 26 March 2007 (UTC)


On proactive sourcing[edit]

Not sure if this was brought up here, but I'm reminding of and somewhat expanding on the issues I brought up here.

Basically, the old policies had this small problem: People interpret "The burden of evidence lies with the editor who adds or restores material" as "la la la, I can't hear you, I don't believe you". The policy is obviously meant to be "you, as an expert, should provide a published source for anything you add, or any of the facts you agree to be correct"; however, it's misinterpreted as "It's the adding editor's job and no one else's job at all to add the sources, and everyone else's job is to remove things that aren't sourced", which is obviously incorrect and harmful - but it does happen.

WP:ATT does clarify this a little bit: the FAQ says that the best practice is to add sources first, then remove it, and the WP:ATT itself admits not everything in practice is sourced. I'd definitely like to see some of this clarified further in the resulting policies - to reduce the amount of articles that get dragged to AfD just for the lack of sources, and to make it clearer that adding sources is everyone's job.

This is an interesting issue that intersects both the verifiability requirements and assuming good faith, and regrettably if we slip too much to either side the results are equally nasty; we can't be lax about this and obviously need to take sourcing seriously, but that doesn't mean we have to be utterly paranoid and uncooperative about things either. We need good wording for the burden of proof and applicability and adding of the sources that encourages proactivity rather than destruction and disbelief. --wwwwolf (barks/growls) 09:41, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Biased hint[edit]

The first question is simple enough: do you support the proposed merger or not. Yet some hotshot included the helpful hint, smack at the beginning: You do not have to support the merger in its entirety to vote "yes". Why this particular wording? It would have been just as valid to say: You do not have to oppose the merger in its entirety to vote "no". As it stands, the hint encourages middle-of-the-roaders to vote YES, even it they mostly oppose the merger; thus biasing the poll. I suggest removal of the biased hint. Freederick 12:31, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Enforceability?[edit]

Policy is all very well and good, but WP:A also needs to outline how the policy needs to be implemented.

  1. How and when (and for how long) attribution-needed tagging is to be used.
  2. What to do when another editor removes such tags without fulfilling the need for proper attribution.

At the end of the day, the policy must also make clear how the need for proper attribution is enforced, and how editors who repeatedly violate the policy are dealt with. -- Fullstop 12:51, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

This policy, like WP:V and WP:OR, is enforced by discussion on the talk page and removal of unattributed content when appropriate. I think there is a deeper issue in your question, though: the idea that this is some sort of quasi-legal policy with objective requirements. It is not; attribution must be interpreted on a case-by-case basis by editors keeping the goal in mind. Exactly what constitutes appropriate attribution will vary greatly from one article to another and from one sentence to another. Citation tags can be helpful in starting a discussion, but a "tag and forget" mentality only leads to a backlog like the one at {{unreferenced}}. CMummert · talk 13:28, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, I wasn't clear. My issue is not with the need for attribution, but with the need for proper attribution. As WP:RS/WP:NOR/WP:V within the framework of WP:A
WP's definition of a reliable source is (reasonably) objective. Its one of the best I've seen.
My question is hence with respect to the "Enforceability?" of the WP:RS/WP:NOR/WP:V bits in WP:A. For example, is it permissable for an editor to remove {{unverifyable}}/{{or}} tags without resolving the issue? And I'm not speaking of month- or year-old "tag and forget" tags, but within hours.
-- Fullstop 07:35, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Misusing citation as "is not linkspam"?[edit]

  • WP is also in dire need of a policy to inhibit insidious linkspamming through the use of refs. Policy already prevents linkspam in the "External links" section, but this doesn't adequately cover spamming through citation.
    --
    Take for example, the hundreds of articles with references to "cais-soas.com": This site has no academic legitimacy whatsoever, and although it has no affiliation with soas, purports to do so anyway, so leaving the casual observer with the impression that the site is a legitimate academic resource. Further, it "copies" articles and images without attribution or permission from reputable sources, so giving its own theories/platorm (which then appear amongst the legitimate ones) credibility. While cais-soas.com is a particularly bad example (200+ articles in the main namespace, and again about as many in images), I'm certain that the owner of that site (present username, confirmed socks) is not the only one doing this.
    --
    Be that as it may, IMO, a spamdexing ref should automatically disqualify as an valid source, particularly in cases of "conflict of interest" (which is however a guide and not a policy). The question is, can such a policy (within the framework of WP:A) be made? And how could such a policy be phrased?
-- Fullstop 12:51, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • CAIS-soas doesn't seem to be a reliable source but I would take great care with any attempt to ban something just because it is being spammed by someone. This would open up the door for people getting sources banned by spamming them. Nil Einne 14:06, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I see your point, but isn't that giving in to the rabble? An academic source that is cited by a number of users is surely different (and identifyable as such) from a site that one/a few editors will exclusively/consistently cite. -- Fullstop 07:35, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Making life simpler?[edit]

I understand that Attribution is a pretty close approximation of the exiting policies of V, NOR and RS. I understand that only needing to explain one policy to new editors instead of three would make life simpler. I am sympathetic to these ideas.

However, I am worried the merger would lead to rationalizations of "Well, I attributed my statement, so I am in compliance with your core policies. Leave me alone." All sorts of things can be wrong with the attributed statement, including a source link to the poster's original research. Taking time to explain a level of policy nuance, required by covering three distinct policies, is well worth our trouble. Thanks, GChriss <always listening><c> 14:42, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Here is what we are the voting choices:

1.The original pages become inactive. Wikipedia:Attribution serves as a unified policy on their subjects.
2.Wikipedia:Attribution remains as the canonical policy, but the original pages remain active to describe the concepts in greater detail.
3.The original pages serve as the canonical policies (or guideline in the case of WP:RS), but Wikipedia:Attribution remains active as a condensed summary.
4.Wikipedia:Attribution becomes inactive. (Parts of it that reflect consensus are integrated into the original pages.)

Options 1 and 4 are cut and dry (all or nothing) and options 2 and 3 are compromises. This being said we really should be debating whether we want to go with 2 or 3 because it is in the best interest of wikipedia.--88wolfmaster 16:17, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Shouldn't we try to figure out how this would affect WP in the future?[edit]

Ok...think about it. Wikipedia editors have always referred to WP:V, WP:RS, and WP:OR when dealing with content policies. These policies have been embedded into our brains for the several months (years, for some people) we've been editing articles. Furthermore, we have regarded these rules as seperate policies for a very long time.

As we are working on merging three policies that were previously regarded as distinct, we must assess the possible consequences that this might have on all Wikipedia users and anons alike. For example, this merge would cause confusion among established users that:

  • don't participate in Wikipedia activities, such as gnomes
  • are inactive, semi-retired, on wikibreak, on vacation, serving in the military, etc.
  • don't read the Signpost, don't look at their watchlists, or were not notified of this discussion

In addition, we need to consider the several anons that edit Wikipedia frequently. Anons don't have watchlists, and the notice above my watchlist was the only indication I had about this discussion. This may cause confusion to them as well.

Are there any other possible consequences to this change? That's something to ponder. All I'm saying is...be careful with what you're doing. No matter how well-intentioned your actions are, this policy change may cause more problems than good results in the end.--Ed ¿Cómo estás? 16:21, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

I personally never viewed V and NOR as separate concepts, but apparently I am in a minority there. The original formulation switched the olds shortcuts to the relevant section of the new page, so older returning members who cited WP:V would have promptly found out about the new name. Also, if we're thinking about how it would affect things in the future, we must weigh the potential benefit to new users. The smaller number of policies will make there be less reading before one understands the basic principles, and therefore a lower entry bar. --tjstrf talk 16:28, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
You guys are talking in terms of it has to be all or nothing, which (as I mention once again) is not the case.--88wolfmaster 16:33, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
To a certain extent, it does have to be all or nothing. Not because there isn't any way to have an in-between option, but because this is a case in which the perceived benefits from each side are found at the extremes of the scale. If the end result is maintaining WP:A, WP:V, WP:NOR, and WP:RS all as separate and active pages, then we not only made our policy complexity even worse, but also increased potential confusion to new and old users alike, and the entire effort became counter-productive. The "happy medium" compromise here would be one that made nobody happy and would probably be the worst of all possible options. --tjstrf talk 16:41, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

There will be no confussion just because people don't read policies! ("Oh, yesterday I have spent my afternoon reading the amazingly amusing WP:NPOV"... "Oh, really? I think WP:OR is better... it is a methaphor of man's life and death"...)...

Being serious: working as AMA advocate I have experience on ArbCom's decisions and findings of facts, and can tell you that V, OR have been slowly replaced at that place by ATT. RS is not even mentioned just because is a guideline, but I wouldn't recommend to merge a guideline into a policy: guidelines should be obvious derivatives or simplier-version of a policy. NPOV, instead, is one of the most known and mentioned policies in arbitrations and never have heard that someone considered it a part of ATT. A merging of non-related policies into a BIG Wikipedia Policy could turn itself in an unsolvable trap in which abusers could refuge themselves. (Have you ever thought why countries don't unify their laws unless it is very very necessary?) --Neigel von Teighen | help with arbs? 16:50, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Countries dont merge laws because they create said laws at different times (just look at the Constitution of the US certain aspects were combined upon creation and others were later added were not merged with them because of their later add date. Outdated laws remain on the books because removing them would require another law.) But, Wikipedia isnt a hard copy (its not set in stone) its a constantly changing constantly adapting reference source. That being said their needs to be one unified policy (WP:ATT) and the orginal pages need to be kept in a more detailed guideline capacity.--88wolfmaster 19:34, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I understand that this encyclopedia constantly needs to adapt to new ideas. However, we need to plan on our transition as well. Don't forget that when a government introduces a new law, it gives a certain date as to when the said law begins to be enforced. That way, civilians and law enforcement personnel would be adequately informed about the change. Likewise, I think that we should develop a method to minimize all possible confusion to all Wikipedians as much as possible. This includes assessing possible consequences to returning users, anons, and readers. (This might not be relevant, but some policies do affect the rarely-editing readers)--Ed ¿Cómo estás? 20:54, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Actually, now that I think about it, would it be possible to have multiple messages regarding the progress of this transition on places other than the watchlist? Don't forget, the registered users only make up a small percentage of Wikipedia editors. Therefore, I think that we should have a notice above every WP page, almost like those Virgin Unite fundraising banners. Or perhaps we can have notices placed on the editing boxes.--Ed ¿Cómo estás? 15:09, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Vote for Merge[edit]

  • Support I support the merge because then articles which can be attributed, won't pile up as Prod candidates. --Paracit 16:44, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia's not a democracy (WP:NOT, WP:PNSD)--Ed ¿Cómo estás? 17:15, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Support merging of policy pages for ease of use, having 3 pages is hopelessly impractical, SqueakBox 17:49, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Support per SqueakBox. The basic rule of all this is chrystal clear: make sure your information is reliable and verifiable. Three pages make it unnecessarily complicated. Steinbach (fka Caesarion) 18:00, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    • The irony of that comment is that while WP:V had that policy, integrating it with WP:NOR and WP:RS has in fact shifted the emphasis in WP:A from accuracy and fact checking to pure attribution. --Audiovideo 20:07, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
      • You can do all the accuracy and fact checking you want when deciding what sources should be given how much weight. The policies on verifiability and no original research were (at least since last year) only focused on accurately reflecting the given sources and not adding any original conclusions of our own, in other words they focused on pure attribution. --Merzul 01:43, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

The poll has not started as yet! See Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 18:11, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Ahh I was responding to the message on my watchlist page and assumed it had, SqueakBox 19:13, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Is it helpful to have separate articles?[edit]

This is not a question from me. It is more of another food-for-thought issue. I still view this site from an inexperienced editor point of view. When I first joined, simple changing of a few things per article here and there was no big deal, but everything else was overwhelming. I did not know where to ask questions on certain issues because, unlike a single chat room, you have this whole world and one specific article is the right place to ask. It felt (and still does at times) like trying to find a single grain of sand on a beach but you do not even know which one you were looking for but hope you might recognize it when you see it. What I am trying to say by all of this is unlike standard articles which you try and keep shorter, when dealing with a WP: or Help: article, isn't it more efficient and easier on those who actually need the help/understanding to combine all of the same general ideas in to the same single article? I personally would rather have one longer article telling me all that i need to know about a subject than 5 telling me bits and pieces that are all related in some way. — CobraWiki ( jabber | stuff ) 19:44, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Saldly there are a lot more policies and guidelines. Try Wikipedia:Five pillars for a summary --Audiovideo 20:10, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Not exactly the type of answer I was looking for, but it shows my point. When I was first welcomed to the community a template was placed on my talk page that had 50 links for things to help get you started. Depending on the variation in discussion, you could be lead to any one of the links being discussed here (though WP:V seems to be most popular probably because of it's ease to remember). That means the others are probably missed by those who are new and need to know other similar information. This site could probably use a page containing all of the "In a nutshell" boxes, but that is a different matter. — CobraWiki ( jabber | stuff ) 17:37, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Merge?[edit]

Should we merge WP:NOR with the other things as seen on my watch list? Well, I am not really sure about this. Any ideas, comments or questions? I would gladly help out if I can. Sjones23 19:47, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Summary of Conclusions...[edit]

Let's see if we can organize this discussion here and get everyone's points of view in a brief summary for convince. Let's let everyone post their support or oppose in a little straw poll here just so we can get an easy look at the current consensus and then work on addressing separate problems from there. Everyone post "support" or "oppose" in bold and then explain briefly why they support or oppose it. Limit explanations to 4-6 brief sentences to make it easy to sum up. This isn't a real poll of any kind it's just a little straw poll to get the consensus of everyone and look at their reasons for supporting or opposing it so we can continue the discussion from there which would make it easier.

Support...I think Wikipedia policy is too complex, too lengthy and has too many holes in it. I often find myself encountering contradictions in the policy. Even if they are not the same, they are similar and merging them and cutting them down into a single page makes much more sense for the sake of simplicity and manageability.Wikidudeman (talk) 21:11, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Save it for Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll when it opens --Audiovideo 21:19, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

You didn't read my post. This is just to further the debate here before we actually through with the poll.Wikidudeman (talk) 21:20, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Wikidudeman, we realize that you are merely asking for a pre-poll before the real poll which is not a vote; but there is opposition to your pre-poll so we need to gain consenus for a pre-poll first so may I suggest a consensus verification effort that is not a poll for a pre-poll before the real poll which is not a vote? WAS 4.250 21:56, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
No need for that. Those of you who want to vote to help further the discussion then do so. I'm just trying to get people's opinions prior to the actual poll so that I know know where people stand. The actual poll would go smoother if we did this.Wikidudeman (talk) 22:01, 26 March 2007 (UTC)


I apologize for my rhetorical question because asking a not a question about a not a poll about a not a vote could be construed as suggesting this whole thing is absurd. Not all of it. The merge itself was quite sensible and well done. WAS 4.250 22:08, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
The page User:Coppertwig/Stability of policy has been created for the purpose of developing a concise summary of the arguments against merging or against some aspects of how the merge is carried out. Users who are "against" in one sense or another are invited to help edit the page, according to the rules on its talk page. --Coppertwig 22:51, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
opinions? Plural? Coffee's good. So is Sushi. Grye 23:26, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Sushi is the better of the two. V-Man - T/C 01:55, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
On reviewing various policies and guidelines I have the impression that essays are written by a single user or by all users, not by limited groups of users. For this and other reasons I've decided the user page will be edited by myself only; but input is welcome from all users on the talk page of the user page. When it's finished I plan to move it to policy space, as was done with SlimVirgin's essay. I've put the same message at Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Poll#Statements from all sides needed and Wikipedia talk:Attribution#Page for creating collaborative expression of arguments against. --Coppertwig 22:25, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

help requested[edit]

Could someone please summarize what the actual effect of this will be--what provisions will be made stricter and what provisions will be made more flexible; I have diligently tried to follow this through all the turns, but I am forced to admit that I have lost track of the essentials DGG 00:17, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

There is little actual change between WP:V and WP:ATT. Most of the "change" people see is one of:
1. Change by rearranging sentences.
2. Change between inaccurate perception of WP:V and what it actually said. This includes thinking that the word "verifiability" in WP:V meant "truth".
A detalied list of changes (minor or not) is here.
Most of the discussion on these pages seems to be driven by a few users, so reading one section will give you a good idea of the arguments present. CMummert · talk 00:32, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Nothing New[edit]

WP:ATT really isn't anything new, and has more or less been policy for as long as I can remember. If these are merged, or all left or all redirected or all move to metta really doesn't make any difference at all. It really doesn't change anything and really doesn't matter, so I would suggest keeping all of the pages, because why not? the only real argument for keeping them is that it's easier to link to a page rather then a section, but thats really reaching, as for redirection I see no good reason too (although also no reason why not to either...) --02:12, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Option a: Wikipedia:Attribution remains as the canonical policy, but the original pages remain active to describe the concepts in greater detail.
Option b: The original pages serve as the canonical policies (or guideline in the case of WP:RS), but Wikipedia:Attribution remains active as a condensed summary.
Either of these options allow new users to learn wiki policy while not necessarily forcing old users to have to adapt to a single new policy. this would make these sets of policy be straightfoward and concise. In addition, just because its nothing new does not mean its not redundant.--88wolfmaster 03:48, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

2 cents[edit]

I have a rather pedestrian reason for wanting to keep the policies separate: the forcefulness of the name "no original research". It's a powerful negative command. "Attribution", even if substantially identical in terms of policy, just isn't as powerful (neither is "verifiability", even less so than "attribution", perhaps). Like I said, pedestrian. But if the merged policy is substantially the same as the separated policies, I say keep them separate so we can keep directing editors to the page with "NO ORIGINAL RESEARCH" emblazoned across the top. · j e r s y k o talk · 02:39, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

But because "No original research" had nothing to do with originality or research, that emblazoned title would only mislead them. CMummert · talk 03:35, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Excuse me? Wikipedia:No original research is very much about our policy towards originality in research. —Remember the dot (talk) 04:42, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Exactly. The policy is that we are not to engage in original research. A good name for such a policy would be ... wait for it ... "no original research". Metamagician3000 07:23, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Accoring to WP:NOR, “Original research (OR) is a term used in Wikipedia to refer to unpublished facts, arguments, concepts, statements, or theories, or any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material, which 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." ” This is not in any way related to what we ordinarily call research; it is intimitely related to lack of attributability of the facts or conclusions being added to the article. The terminology "no original research" was appropriate to the problems the policy was initialy trying to address, but now the terminology is just confusing. Worse yet, although editors are encouraged to perform source-based research (in the ordinary sense) on the talk page in order to determine NPOV, they sometimes get confused by the title of the NOR policy. I found a couple threads in the WP:ATT talk archive: [3], [4]. CMummert · talk 11:09, 27 March 2007 (UTC)


May I bomb this with the relative newbie statement that in my opinion one major problem is not even in the title, but with capitalized letters? WP:CIVIL is self-contradictory to what it's supposed to convey, and WP:NOR, WP:NPOV betray WP:AGF. And so forth. The redirects to all policy pages should be deleted, so that editors have to at least write out the name. —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 05:04, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
No, that would simply cause talk pages to grow enourmously in size and probably lead to a lot of cases of carpal tunnel syndrome. :-) See them enough times, you'll remember what they mean. They are self-resolving links, anyway. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 06:29, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Tell that to a newbie you are about to WP:BITE. —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 06:35, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
WP:PIPE it and the name can be whatever you please. --tjstrf talk 06:49, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
I know about piping, and I use it most of the time. But many established users and admins more often than not prefer not to use it and thereby (in my opinion, please stay WP:CIVIL and read WP:MYOPINION) contribute to the escalation of disputes. I can still remember being a newbie with an attitude and being told WP:AGF, WP:NOR, WP:CIVIL, WP:NPOV all rolled into one talk page section. —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 07:09, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Back on the original subject of this section, I was also considering whether we should merge or not for that reason, but I think we are better off merging. WP:NOR, WP:V, and WP:RS are all so closely related that if someone really does need to be directed to one of them, there is a good chance they need to read the other two anyway. The desire to have a greater impact on someone when trying to deal with a dispute is secondary to making sure our policies are more concise and readable for the sake of newbies, so that they aren't jumping from article to article in order to find out what they need to know. Sxeptomaniac 17:09, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

I have found that, when dealing with a new editor for the first time, it often helps (and is polite) to write out the full policy name the first time you point to it and put the short form in parens (like this: "No, you can't include that statement ... please see Wikipedia:No original research (usually abreviated as WP:NOR)" ... from then on you can just use the short form as they now know what it means.
Anyway... to get to Jersyko's original comment... prior to Jimbo requesting this discussion, the short links: [[WP:V]] and [[WP:NOR]] were redirected to the relevant sections of ATT. Thus, we could still use the powerful negative command: "No original research" when needed. The title existed, just in a new location. Blueboar 17:41, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Isn't part of the motivation for merging the idea that "no original research" is somehow a misleading statement, however? (see CMummert's comments above) That makes me think that it's possible that WP:ATT is an attempt to phase out the phrase while keeping the substance of the policy, and I'm not particularly fond of that idea. Addressing Sxeptomaniac's thoughts, I agree. But that could be accomplished by creating a summary style page, like WP:5P, on our content policies at WP:ATT (or elsewhere), couldn't it? Anyway, I don't have remarkably strong opinions on the whole thing provided that the substance of our content policies remains substantially the same. · j e r s y k o talk · 18:49, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
No, I think original research would remain an active part of the wikipedia vocabulary. With section redirects there was no harm in linking to WP:NOR either! What CMummert is saying is that NOR is misleading because the NOR policy includes far more than just what we would ordinarily consider original and research. So, yes, the slogan "No original research!" would continue to have an important role, but attribution tries to capture more of the idea that you aren't allowed to include mundane unoriginal speculation either. Does this make sense to you? --Merzul 20:13, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

See #Good policy, terrible name for what constitutes original research as the guideline defines it.--Jorfer 02:02, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Self-evident statements[edit]

I don't know if I'm in the right place with this. Please point me to more appropriate discussions, as I'm still in the process of finding my way round here.

I have a question regarding this edit I made. I decided that "It is hypothesized by some" sounded weasely, and changed it to the quite self-evident "the hypothesis exists". Come to think of it, I don't even know the question. I'd appreciate any input. —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 05:15, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

The paragraph in question is:
"The hypothesis exists that the universe is computable on a universal Turing machine, which would imply that no computer more powerful than a universal Turing machine can be physically built (see philosophical implications in the Church-Turing thesis and digital physics)."
It is unsourced; that is to say that the claim is not attributed to a reliable source. So why should a reader believe that claim? Or if believing that such a hypothesis exists, why should they believe that it implies anything like what is claimed? Is the "see" comment meant to suggest that anon writers at other wikipedia articles are being used as evidence - that violates wikipedia policy based on the fact that credibility can not be legitimately created by a confidence game of anon claims backed by anon claims.
Conclusion: find reliable published sources that deal with the subject of the article and then rewrite based on those sources and attribute those claims to those sources. WAS 4.250 05:45, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
I get your point, but my question was not if or how that sentence needs to be referenced. The second half-sentence aside, isn't "The hypothesis exists that the universe is computable on a universal Turing machine" self-evident? That's where I was going, so I left out the rest of the sentence. —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 05:59, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
But is it notable? --tjstrf talk 06:02, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
(ec) The whole example aside, a phrase like "hypothesis XYZ exists" proves the point of existence of that hypothesis. Self-referential is the word, not self-evident, my bad. -- Ah, yes, notability is a good point. —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 06:05, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't concur with WAS 4.250, if Church-Turing thesis and digital physics are well-sourced articles. It isn't Wikipedia citing itself, it is simply a cross reference. The same thing could be done with any of the standard cross-referencing template, e.g. See also Church-Turing thesis and digital physics for the hypothesis that... If the article in question made assertions about those theories, those assertions would need to be sourced (probably just by copy-paste from the other article). — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 06:25, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
I appreciate all the input, but my original posting was aimed at the general case of the self-referentiality of the claim that a hypothesis exists. tjstrf made a good point by asking for the notability of such tautological statements, if I understand him correctly. —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 06:44, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Right. The hypothesis exists that the universe is fundamentally made of blue cheese, but you wouldn't add it to the blue cheese article. –Pomte 08:00, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Exactly. —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 08:38, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Isn't the point just that the hypothesis has to exist independently of the speculations of Wikipedia editors? We can bootstrap hypotheses into existence by making them up ourselves, but that would clearly be an exercise in original research. Metamagician3000 09:16, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Technically speaking, no. A hypothesis does not require any research. That was my point. —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 09:24, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Actually hypotheses do require research. Hypothesis formation is an important part of the standard hypothetico-deductive method described by Karl Popper; hypotheses are formulated only after surveying the existing body of data, and that process is certainly part of the process of conducting research. But a better point to make is that we have just created the very fact that we now rely on, which is an act original to us, not one that happened independently of us.
NOR is meant to stop us going down the path of entering into our own hypotheses, theoretical constructs, inferences, etc., as opposed to reporting knowledge-claims and opinions that exist independently of Wikipedia (a narrow exception is where there is some independent source for a notable claim about Wikipedia itself, but even then the independence of the source is important). Even the act of reporting (with a citation) the claim "P" and reporting (with another citation) the claim "P -->Q" and putting them alongside each other, pointedly inviting the reader to use modus ponens reasoning to deduce "Q" is entering into original research. We need to find a source for the claim "Q". It might seem innocent, but there could be another source somewhere - something not yet included in the article - that denies "P", and we must be careful about that possibility if we find ourselves we are about to lead to the reader to infer something that cannot itself be attributed to an idependent source. We are just not here to report, or even to issue pointed invitations to readers to infer, things that are not themselves in independent and reliable sources. NOR puts us on guard against doing that. Metamagician3000 09:58, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm inclined to believe I understand what lies at the heart of NOR, but thanks for explaining it so elaborately. I meant hypothesis more in the sense of the FSM "theory", which of course has about as much to do with an actual theory as Wikipedia itself has to do with academic discourse. It doesn't take any empirical data and no deductive step to just hypothesise away (or presume). Fallacies of definition gives a modest example of how well NOR really works as a policy. See Circular definition for a reference.
Correct me if I'm mistaken, but isn't our judgement as to which sources we trust very much based on our preexisting knowledge? We can shift the problem of judgement, but we can't escape it. —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 12:14, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
In answer to the last bit. Absolutely! NOR and NPOV and the other policies were never meant to cause paralysis or lead us into ruminations about radical epistemological scepticism. They were meant to allow for an element of skilled editorial judgment in selecting sources, giving due weight, etc., etc. (which is one reason why I take with a grain of salt the common claim that academic credentials are totally irrelevant to editing here).
Sorry to rant at such length about how NOR is meant to work; it must have made for dreary reading if you already knew all that. :) Metamagician3000 13:02, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
The NOR policy forbids certain things in articles; not all of those things are actually research (e.g. neologisms). "No original research" is the name of the policy, but the rest of the text of the policy exists because the policy is actually somewhat more complicated than three words. --Coppertwig 00:51, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Appropriateness of message on watchlist?[edit]

Resolved: Duplicate topic.

Am I the only user who doesn't want ads for policy discussions on my watchlist? This notice wasn't too disruptive, but I hope that this precedent won't lead to many lines of spamlinks to policy discussions all across wikipedia of which I am only marginally interested. Borisblue 06:02, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

There is already a topic for this, above. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 06:26, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
You have actually chosen to waste more just typing that, just ignore it if you aren't interested. Ashnard talk 15:20, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Just click "dismiss" and it will go away.... ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 14:42, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Just curious -- is there a way to get the notice back after clicking "dismiss?" (Don't ask me why I think of these things.) Bus stop 15:29, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Clearing the history/cache of your browser seems to do it - which is annoying for me as my browser does it automatically. I agree with the sentiments above - there are better places for these "ads" than in my watchlist. – Tivedshambo (talk) 19:50, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Come on people, does it really matter, so what; you have to look at it for a nanosecond before you click dismiss, it is a non-existant problem. Ashnard talk 20:19, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Actually If you have ad block plus as well as the element hiding helper you could mark the html element as an ad and never see it again. Not the ideal way to solve the problem, but it would work... --T-rex 20:20, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Eh? The Boy that time forgot 20:52, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm on the fence as to whether or not it's a good idea to advertise the discussion by the described means. However, I will note that any argument that amounts to "why are you discussing this" is completely counterintuitive and hypocritical. Stack 21:14, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
This conversations seems to overlap into this thread above--Ed ¿Cómo estás? 22:31, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
"Conversation seems to overlap". Yes, that's why there's a "Resolved" tag here. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 08:03, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

New Title for Attribution[edit]

In #Good Policy, terrible name, the idea was thrown around to change the title of the merged document to Wikipedia:Reliablility or alternatively Wikipedia:Sources, though I like the first one better.--Jorfer 02:08, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Renaming it Wikipedia:Reliability would seem to further exaggerate the inconsistencies in spirit between WP:ATT and WP:NPOV, considering they both take different stances on the nature of reliability of sources. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 02:16, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
At first glance, I'd say that "reliability" as a term promises all the pitfalls of "verifiability": too many people would think it referred to the reliability of the information rather than to the reliability of the published source. "Sources" applies to the sources themselves, not to the editorial act of referencing them (attribution). Attribution is in my opinion an excellent title, cleverly covering in one word all aspects of avoiding original research and verifying and sourcing information. Its only disadvantage is that it isn't catchy—but I don't suppose "verifiability" and "no original research" sounded catchy before we got used to them. qp10qp
I'll say it again here, but is there a problem with having a longer, less ambiguous name such as Wikipedia:Attribution to a reliable published source? Although there seems to be a high demand for short, one-word titles, i believe there will inevitably be some ambiguity in any one word title.. nevertheless, it seems "Attribution" is the closest one.. then a redirect to the longer title will further clarify matters. Mlm42 12:45, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Bias and NPOV issues if we merge WP:RS[edit]

Stop me if this has been covered before. My concern is that writing WP:ATT to give such prominence to WP:RS causes increased risks of systemic bias, and it works against NPOV. That's because my own simple take on NPOV is about "being fair to the evidence" and "being fair to the subject". If we elevate the prominence and status of WP:RS (previously a guideline) then that tends to squeeze out evidence from sources of weaker reliability, even where minority viewpoints or aspects of balance only exist in such types of evidence. My example is an article I was editing yesterday - a living public figure probably most famous for an extra-marital relationship with a President. (No, I'm talking about a Mexican. My notes are here.) English-language international sources for the relationship easily meet WP:RS and quite frankly they're all biased (i.e. not NPOV about this individual - she's cited for one angle only). My feeling about NPOV and being fair to the subject makes me want to find attribution for the claims about her status as a pioneer in public service; but that kind of evidence is more likely to be lower down the hierarchy of reliability, in Spanish, and maybe not internet-accessible. So I feel there are increased risks of bias, worldwide, if we push editors too hard towards WP:RS as a priority above NPOV. The balanced answer for WP:ATT would be to emphasise instead that sources must be fit for purpose and keep WP:RS unmerged as a guideline, supporting both ATT and NPOV equally. VSerrata 07:28, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Our policy on which sources are useable as a reliable published source for a claim is widely and energetically debated among long time contributors with general concensus on general advice; but the experts agree that it boils down to specific claims on specific sources evaluated by research by wikipedians into both the claim and the source. Unfortunately, you can't write most of common sense or expertise into policy and so the editorial judgements needed for many cases simply can't be reduced to a page or so of policy. WAS 4.250 07:51, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
In the specific case you mention, I would think that Spanish-language sources would probably be considered more reliable than at-a-distance English-language reports. Internet accessibility is irrelevant to reliability (although I realize that there are editors who have trouble acknowledging this fact). And WP:NPOV remains Wikipolicy; RS is not being "elevated above" it. So, unless these sources you have in mind are completely unreliable, I suspect there will be no trouble in adding them. (And if they are completely unreliable, I suspect you would have trouble with them in any case, as WP:RS is, and has been, one of the most accepted of WP's guidelines for quite some time, considered by many to be more of a clarification of WP:V than something separate.) Bottom line, though, I don't think the problem is as big as you suggest, because RS is merely being elevated to the same level as NPOV, not above it. NPOV remains absolute, indisputable policy. Xtifr tälk 11:24, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
Actually, I don't think RS is being "elevated" at all. Both WP:NOR and WP:V (as well as WP:NPOV) clearly state that reliable sources are a must. Thus, the concept of RS has been Policy for years. WP:ATT does not change this, it simply restates it in a clear way. Yes, some of the language from the guideline WP:RS has been incorporated into ATT... but that language expresses exactly what V and NOR have always said. The bulk of WP:RS has been copied over to the ATT/FAQ... with the idea that it will be worked on and promoted back to guideline status. A guideline that will explain why the policy is the way it is and help editors determine if a given source is reliable or not. Blueboar 12:21, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Second contribution Let's recap. I'm supporting a slimline ATT=V+NOR and NPOV as two equal pillars. My own first copy of "five pillars" named V+NOR policies as the first and NPOV policy as the second. RS was not, as far as I know, linked directly from the "five pillars" text. RS was called a guideline and so was second-tier in at least two senses. The redrafted ATT is now the first pillar, merging "WP:V, aspects of WP:RS and WP:NOR", and it will be pushed strongly towards editors. In my mind, that certainly elevates WP:RS to first tier - so I disagree with Blueboar. It does change the relationship between RS and NPOV. What I want is policy + guidelines that allow editorial judgement (like WAS 4.250 says) to match claim and source. It's problematic that the word "bias" is missing from the text of WP:ATT. The draft goes wrong for me precisely when it emphasises "books and journals published by universities ..." etc. because each of those is still open to bias. In my mind, a balanced NPOV article quite possibly uses a blend of sources of varying reliability and bias. So that same point in ATT is where a reminder about NPOV and minority views would sit better - still using sources that are trustworthy, or [are] authoritative in relation to the subject at hand. As I still see it, demerging WP:RS is the neatest answer for now. VSerrata 15:00, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps I am missing something... No one is suggesting that NPOV be demoted in any way. All that is happening is a merger between NOR and V. We are simply going from three pillars to two pillars without a change in the status of any of the concepts involved. To me people seem overly concerned that RS is being elevated... I just don't see that. RS was always a key concept in V and NOR. RS has always been a key concept in NPOV. This hasn't changed. All of these policies state that material we added to articles has to be backed by reliable sources. So where is the difference between what NOR and V say and what ATT says? Where is the elevation? Blueboar 15:57, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm confused. Neutral point of view is covered by WP:NPOV and attribution is covered by WP:ATT. Adding information on NPOV to WP:ATT would be redundant; it's already covered by WP:NPOV! Bias is properly discussed in WP:NPOV, not WP:ATT. Reliable sources, on the other hand, are implicit to V/OR, and are quite properly discussed in ATT/V/OR policies. I also think you're reading too much into the necessarily-arbitrary order in which the five pillars are listed. NPOV is not secondary to ATT/V/OR/RS; it is one of the five pillars of Wikipedia, and is non-negotiable! Anyway, it might be helpful if you mentioned some of the sources that you'd like to use that you are afraid will be considered unreliable. It might help us get some perspective on the matter. Xtifr tälk 00:45, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

VSerrata, I would appreciate your opinion on Wikipedia:Reliable sources and undue weight if you can think of a way to make a reliable sources concept more consistent with WP:NPOV. Or if you could help write an explanation for why it isn't always consistent. Or if there's anything else you would like to say about that. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 02:21, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

A - That's helpful. The essay itself says "Note that undue weight can be given in several ways, including, but not limited to, depth of detail, quantity of text, prominence of placement, and juxtaposition of statements." That rebuts Xtifr's comment above. Before people want to sign off on the concept of the new ATT, I'd suggest doing a walk-through. What will newbie editors see, in what order? Are we helping them to see the big points, or are we putting up too much clutter of lawyerly detail in the wrong eye-catching places?? My points on ATT are basically that: (1) both the first and second pillars matter, so we should avoid RS clutter while we introduce concepts; and, (2) bias is a concept that deserves an early-ish introduction. VSerrata 07:49, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
B - On wider issues than drafting this version of ATT I suspect I've spotted an underlying problem. Maybe we can blame the physicists for it! The kind of minority viewpoint that often seems to be in policy editors' minds for NPOV, as mentioned in the essay, is something like Flat Earth. That has one kind of matching of source and claim (many-to-one), with multiple viewpoints on the same claim. My concern, in say a biographic article, is much more one-to-many in matching sources with different aspects of a subject's life in the absence of a published in-depth biography that easily meets WP:RS. That requires more recognition of bias, and systemic bias. Try looking at Joseph Gomwalk as another example that needs tackling. What are the messages we are giving out to editors in the way that policy pages say what's most important? VSerrata 07:49, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
Sorry for the long response time on my part, and thank you for your response. I am glad you like the essay, much of which was stolen from WP:NPOV. Let me know on the essay talk page if you have any suggestions about the essay. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 04:28, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

Notification of pre-poll straw poll to discuss the wording of questions and options for the poll[edit]

See Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Poll#Pre_straw_poll_straw_poll_for_Q1. Thanks, Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 02:05, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Thrashing out RS[edit]

There has been a lot of discussion at the poll about how to frame questions, the nature and utility of polling on policy in general, and whether to be simple about things or unpack every option. However, this page has already provided an informal poll here, and I'm wondering whether we might not use it rather than waste further time on trying to agree on a poll design. I see an approx. 2.5 to 1 support for the primary merger of V and NOR. It's not a nose count, of course, and it will be up to Jimbo to weigh arguments against one another (if and when this is presented to him). But if we take this result along with the acclaim ATT received when it went live, I see broad (though not unanimous) support for the primary merger.

Which brings us to RS. Here I don't see consensus, but a split. At the risk of redundancy on already long page, could someone briefly outline the arguments for why RS should not be merged if V and NOR are merged. Others can then respond, and perhaps we can get this done. Marskell 09:08, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Already explained above, but I can play the keep asking the same question time and time again game ;)
If ATT is intended to be policy that makes it enforcable, therefore needs some fairly clear cut boundaries for editorial decision making, admin actions in the event of breach and creiteria for the dispute resolution process. Reliability of sources is not absolute but depends on the characteristics of the source itself, the topic area it's being used in and how it is being used in relation to the topic and any other sources being used.
Reliability is an inherently subjective issue. Topic areas which are reasonably stable can be supported with a more doctrinal approach; this source is reliable or acceptable whereas that source is not. Topic areas which aren't stable, particularly more current subjects don't respond well to that treatment, they end up with a choppy style, never actually getting through the editorial process to make them readable or useful to the reader.
ALR 09:56, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
OK, sorry, but that doesn't tell me why RS must remain a separate page. I could well argue that having that explanation at one controlled policy location is better than at a guideline. Marskell 09:59, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, I'm kind of anticipating not having to spell it out in words of one syllable.
Reliability is subjective, not absolute. A policy needs to be enforcable hence needs to be more objective to empower administrators and dispute resolution usefully. It is inappropriate for RS to be policy.
IMO RS is a tool to support editors with, not a stick to beat them with.
ALR 10:05, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
"Reliability is subjective"—not really. But I just want to spell out the arguments, so there's one. Marskell 10:13, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
I think subjective is the wrong word. I think what ALR is trying to say is that reliability cannot be determined merely by following a set of rules. There are, to any set you can think of, a lot of exceptions. Hence 'guideline' status is more appropriate than 'policy' for a page on techniques for evaluating sources. I'm not sure I agree with it myself, but it is a convincing argument. JulesH 16:53, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
Well you've managed to oversimplify it to the extent where it misrepresents my position. But I think JulesH captures what I'm saying.
ALR 12:10, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Let's also say bias and systemic bias in addition to the policy v. guidance issue. Merging WP:RS into ATT as the "first pillar" of Wikipedia is in tension with the idea of recognising bias and dealing with it. WP:NPOV itself says "NPOV requires views to be represented without bias. All editors and all sources have biases." (And as another editor said recently elsewhere "Because we have defined only certain sorts of sources as "reliable", we end up with articles that are heavily slanted to the point of view of that type of source.") Especially for newbie readers, what's presented in the first pillar shouldn't pre-empt discussion of bias in the second pillar. We need to give the principle of reliability - trustworthy, or [are] authoritative in relation to the subject at hand - but not full-detailed text without and before the discussion of bias. VSerrata 10:10, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
RS should be kept as a user-friendly guideline to "ATT reloaded" (=ATT+V+NOR). A guide for people, as it is currently, and not turning it into a policy only to merge it with ATT. --Neigel von Teighen | help with arbs? 10:17, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
One thing we need to do is separate the concept of RS from the page WP:RS... there is a difference. Since the concept has always been part of NOR, and V... it should be part of ATT as well. We can argue about the language later. That leaves us with the question of what to do with the page WP:RS...
The problem that I see with Neigel's comment is that I don't think the current version of WP:RS is "a user-friendly guideline"... I think it is a pseudo - half policy/half guideline. Yes, it says it is a Guideline, but it is used by the community as if it were Policy. It also reads as if it were a Policy. It contains very little guidance and a lot of "these are the rules with the following exceptions" type statements. Many of these statements started off as quotes taken from NOR, V and NPOV... but they have been edited over time, and have taken on their own live. Some have even evolved to the point where they conflict with the original statement at NOR, V, and NPOV - the very statement they originally quoted.
Now, these "Rules" type statements are often a subject of debate ... we all have differing opinions as to what is reliable and what isn't... but, I think that such statements should be argued about on Policy pages... they should not be in a Guideline page to begin with (except as a direct, attributed, quote from Policy... as in "Wikipedia's Policy on Verification/Original Resarch/Attribution/NPOV states that: <quote>"). Thus, I support the fact that ATT incorporates the sections and statements of WP:RS that deal with "rules".
The next question is what to do with those portions of WP:RS that actually are "guidance". These definitely should be in a guideline... and improved upon. I have suggested (above) creating a new guideline called "Determining Reliability" or something. The guidance parts of WP:RS would be incorporated into that. Let's leave the rule making to Policy, and use Guidelines for guidance. Blueboar 13:25, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
Well, yes: WP:RS needs a re-write... Maybe, Blueboar, you're right: I'm more on favor of keeping the page WP:RS; it is always useful a comment like yours for clarifying one's ideas... thanks! A rewriting of WP:RS would include, in my opinion:
  1. Changing the "policy tone" to a guideline "tone". I believe WP:RS' Section 8 ("Convenience links") has the right tone to use.
  2. Section 4: "Unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material about living persons should be removed immediately and should not be moved to the talk page." (that's the whole section 4!) --> A guide to search on biographies and living persons that also explains the current policies.
  3. Merging Wikipedia:Reliable Sources/examples into WP:RS. I never noticed that subpage before; it's great, but in the wrong place. WP:RS should include the subpage's content... (or replacing WP:RS by the Examples subpage? The best guide is an example) --Neigel von Teighen | help with arbs? 13:45, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

I think what I'm saying here is similar to Blueboar's ideas, but I'll restate it because there may be some difference. We may need a separate non-policy page on the evaluation of sources, but if we do it shouldn't attempt to define the phrase "reliable sources" as it is used in policy, because that just ends up with it becoming incorporated in policy by reference, which defeats the porpoise of having it as a separate page. Whether that separate page should be WP:ATTFAQ or something else, I don't know -- but it should not be WP:RS, as calling it by that name encourages people to read it as defining the term, which we don't want. JulesH 17:00, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Proposal for dealing with RS[edit]

1) Include discussion of the importance of the concept of Reliable Sources in ATT, (or in V and NOR if the consensus is that ATT is a bad idea)
2) To the extent that a definition of what Reliable Sources means is needed, include that definition in the relevant Policy Page. (Note: I think the current version of ATT does this well, but I could see others wanting further discussion on the language - we can address this after we determine the status of ATT. I would also include a similar section in NPOV since the concept of reliable sources is also a key component of that Policy. The language used to define the concept does not have to be identical between the Policies, since each Policy applies the term "reliable source" in a slightly different way ... as long as they do not contradict each other we should be fine.)
3) Do not redirect the Wiki-link WP:RS to that section. (I think doing this is what convinced so many people that WP:RS had been "elevated" to policy, when that was not the intent)
4) For the moment - leave WP:RS in place... but check it to be sure that what it says is in sync with ATT and NPOV.
5) Write a proposed guideline named: "Determining Reliability" (WP:DR?) - focusing on giving advice to help the editor determine whether a given source is reliable in the context of the article they are editing. This new guideline would incoporate some things from the existing WP:RS guideline, some things from ATT/FAQ and some from the RS/examples page... but some of it could be completely new - as needed. Make it clear that WP:DR is indeed a guideline based on ATT and NPOV Policy. To the extent that the new guideline has to quote Policy, clearly state which Policy it is quoting.
6) Once this new proposed guideline is properly drafted, have a community discussion, similar to this one, to figure out whether it has community consensus and, if so, whether it should replace WP:RS or exist along side of WP:RS.

Does this make sense? Blueboar 18:05, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Looks good to me. JulesH 23:38, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
In principal yes I'd agree with that approach, however there is a need to come to a conclusion on the philosophical point of how we approach reliability. Tensions remain between those who see reliability as a movable feast subject to essential principles, cntext, usage etc and those who see reliability as a doctrinal statement where individual cases are stated.
Until that's resolved then any suggested material, DR is as good a name as any, is liable to end up in the same mess that RS has where it is neither one thing nor the other.
ALR 12:15, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

Conditional strong opposition[edit]

I would like the record of this community discussion to contain this message as a record of my conditional strong opposition to WP:ATT. Details are at Wikipedia talk:Attribution#Role of truth and archived parts of that thread; that thread includes some discussion that was moved from this community discussion page. Discussion on the specific issue (some wording of WP:ATT) should be kept in one place and is at the link I gave. --Coppertwig 12:32, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Thank you Coppertwig. You have made your opposition very clear in multiple locations on this discussion page... and multiple locations at the ATT talk page... and at the talk page for the poll... and just about everywhere else even remotely related to this discussion. We KNOW you oppose it. And it is your right to express your opposition. However, there does come a point when repeatedly stating that you oppose it becomes disruptive. Please see WP:POINT. Blueboar 13:34, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Jimbo Wales's requested poll nearly done - please see[edit]

Jimbo Wales requested a poll to gauge community thoughts on the Wikipedia:Attribution merger. A poll for this is being crafted, and is somewhat close to done. Concensus for the past 24 hours (with the occasional dissenting voice of course) that the thing is close to done. Only the main question is still heavily debated. A pre-poll straw poll is here:

Wikipedia_talk:Attribution/Poll#Q1_Straw_poll_duration

To sort that out. Accepted group concensus seems to be to pre-poll to 4/1/07 22:00 and then launch a site-wide poll (again, as implied/requested by Jimbo) at 4/2/07 00:00. Please help hash out the wording for that last quesion. - Denny 13:31, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Can we have a poll on that? :>) Blueboar 13:35, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
LOL!! SlimVirgin (talk) 22:49, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
That gives two hours to decide the form of Q1, and possibly tweak it; this is unrealistic. The pre-poll on Q1 is strongly opinionated, and quite divided. I deny, btw, that rhere is any consensus other than to avoid doing this poll over April Fool's Day. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:24, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
You know, looking at the squabbling about every petty detail in the poll makes me feel that opening this poll on April Fools day would be perfectly appropriate! :>) Seriously, I would like to thank those of you who have been working so diligently on the poll while we have been focused on the discussion. I know that it isn't easy... figuring out how to fairly phrase each question on the poll (indeed, figuring out what questions to ask in the first place) is almost more contentious than the underlying issue. But there are at least a few of us that appreciate the effort. Blueboar 23:27, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Blatant add: role of truth on conservapedia[edit]

Conservapedia Commandment Wikipedia content policy
Everything you post must be true and verifiable. Do not copy from Wikipedia or other non-public domain sources. The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is whether material is attributable to a reliable published source, not whether it is true.

I find this difference very interesting and a strong reason why I prefer the current "not whether it is true", discussion is here. Thanks! --Merzul 18:53, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Historiography and reliable sources[edit]

Per discussions here and here, I think that reliable sources - whether merged or not - should note that sources published under governments that support censorship or force specific ideology into any publication are less reliable than others.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  20:57, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Would you include Andrei Sakharov's physics? "May be less reliable than others", please. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:20, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
There is a reason the title of this heading is about historiography. Few would discard Soviet (or even most Nazi - Wernher von Braun or Werner Heisenberg, anyone?) contributions to natural sciences (and good part of social sciences). That said, keep in mind the story of Suppressed research in the Soviet Union. Particulary I'd ask you to consider the case of Lysenkoism and Psikhushka branches of 'Soviet science': you can find academic publications by renowned Soviet scientists and institutions on those subjects, but if anybody thinks this research is reliable for anything else than articles about those pseudoscienses, than... we should refer him to this policy :) Or to use even less controversial examples: you can find lots of good reviews of Walter Frank from 1930s and early 1940s - but I don't think anybody today would want to touch for any purpose other than documenting follies of antisemitism. Also seriously, those colorful cases are little more then nice trivia - the real danger is the abuse of historiography, as this still leads to many disputes on Wikipedia.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  23:34, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
Actually, I thought everyone knew that Sacharov had proven the existance of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, only to have his work censored by those Pasta hating commies in the Kremlin! - OK, seriously... you are both correct. Of course knowing the background of a source is important, and it can impact on it's reliability... depending on what the source is, how it is being used in an article, etc. etc. etc. It is a topic that should probably be discussed on any revised WP:RS (or WP:Determining reliability) guideline. But we can not just make a blanket statement saying THIS is unreliable and THAT is reliable about such sources. And we certainly shouldn't do so at the Policy level. Blueboar 23:47, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree; in Anglo-American terms, this is a question of fact, not of law. We should judge on a case-by-case basis; there are plenty of tendentious and partisan works published in the West. There are exceptions to Piotrus' rule, after all: Some Soviet historiography is on a sufficiently obscure subject that it largely escaped ideological pressures; and some questions (When was Charlemagne born?) are not ideologically important. A warning would justified. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:59, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

My only real gripe[edit]

I've been looking closely at the old pages and the new one - I think that it's good work that's been done and I'm almost ready to support the new language and the merger. My only real criticism is that the "this page in a nutshell" for the ATT page is much too brief. It's nice to sum things up concisely, but it really doesn't do justice to the substance of the policies. Can't we expand it to something that is still concise but more useful, and less likely to encourage the widespread misconception that original research is confined to uncited material (making NOR just part of verifiability)? I.e., just put in the points from the "old" articles (with any rationalisation needed to avoid repetition). If that were done, I think I could support the new arrangements. I still think we need more examples and explanation of "synthesis", and more discouragement of it, but that applies in either case. Metamagician3000 11:03, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

State clearly here...[edit]

The key question that I asked for months ago (but was somewhat ignored, at least in my opinion), which I still want answered, in a clear concise fashion is as follows:

  • What's the improvement in changing the policy?

If there's no substantive change--no way that that will affect Wikipedia--then I could care less if the policy changes (even if it's less words, more words, polled, unpolled, etc.). So please, state clearly what is the improvement. Because it is NOT obvious from this discussion. Please stay on topic and don't diverge.Olin 15:21, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

There is an explanation at User:SlimVirgin/Attribution. CMummert · talk 15:33, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't think POLICY is being changed... the only change is where the policy is to be found. The improvement that I see is that by merging we go from having two policies that involve similar concepts to having one united policy. Having two has, in the past, occasionally resulted in conflict between them ... where one was edited to the point where it said something that directly contradicted what the other said. Having them on the same page will greatly reduce the possibility of that happening again. Blueboar 15:49, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree with opinion; there was an explicit effort not to change any aspect of the policies as they were commonly interpreted before the merger. Also, there were two active talk pages where users asked questions (three if you count RS), in addition to the VP, which was a pain for everyone to keep up with. Presumably the talk page for ATT will be a unified place for users to get advice about these issues. CMummert · talk 16:03, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
Be specific, and cite an example. I still don't see an improvement.Olin 17:49, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
I moved your comment after my response to Blueboar. I don't see what you are asking for. SlimVirgin explains what the intended improvements were. If you disagree that they were improvements, that's fine. If you don't know why other people think they are improvements, you'll need be more specific in your questions. CMummert · talk 18:02, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
  • If verifiable is not a good, name, why not just change the name of the page?
  • How does no original research lead to confusion? Is it a bad name? Then change the name!
  • If reliable sources led to contradiction, why not just change reliable sources to be consistent with no original research?
  • 3 talk pages--not a problem.
Let me be clear--I have no real problem with the attribution policy, but I don't think this is the end of wikipedia if the current, revised policy stays. It just seems like people are making a big deal over such a small perturbation, if any at all.
I do worry about attributable. There are times when cranks can put material into an article which they say is attributable, but they have no source. The attribution policy is bad in that it allows them to put it in in my reading. If there's conflict, who wins? If there "might be a source" what goes in the article? Either everything goes into an article (my fear) or nothing if there's a conflict.Olin 23:46, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
You can't just rename WP:V or WP:OR because the content of the pages uses the same confused terminology as the titles. So they would have to be rewritten and renamed. The goal of WP:ATT is exactly that - to simultaneously rename the pages and rewrite the text to have clearer terminology with the same meaning. Rewriting them separately would be no easier than writing WP:ATT once.
WP:ATT is very clear that the burden of evidence to keep material is with the editor who wishes to keep it; this is no different than WP:V. It's in the lead section of the policy because it is such a crucial rule. I am very sympathetic to the problem of fighting cranks, since I edit math articles and there are lots of math cranks around. WP:ATT gives you the same tools that WP:V did.
Of course it's not the end of the world - it's just a rephrasing of the same policy meant to make the policy easier to explain. CMummert · talk 01:39, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll[edit]

Resolved: Moot.

Per comments on the Talk page here, and in other locales, it appears groups of editors are specifically against Jimbo's specifically requested public poll to gauge thoughts/support on the idea of the ATT merger. As it has been stated that the Poll is "dead" per users such as User:WAS 4.250, I am nominating this. If there is wide spread support to run this poll, this page should be kept. The MfD is here:

Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll

Thank you. - Denny 16:10, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

The result of the MfD was a Speedy Keep - Let's get back to work on the Poll folks... New voices are needed to break the current deadlock over language. Please help out. Blueboar 17:39, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't follow at all why this was done, but at least someone dealt with it. "Speedy keep" was the correct action. Metamagician3000 23:19, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
Anyway, no harm done. Metamagician3000 00:04, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Note about the merger of WP:RS[edit]

Just a heads up, but when doing the merger, I suggest that someone make sure that the language of the policy does not permit driveby reference spamming. Believe it or not we have managed to reduce the rate of spam insertion by 2%, and I have noticed in several search engine optimization forums frustration at the difficulty of inserting an uncontested spam link. Lets keep it that way. The new policy/guideline needs to be very clear that spam will not be tolerated, even if it is disguised as a reference. Parts that we must be very clear about is no self published sources Regards. —— Eagle101 Need help? 17:11, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

Let me clarify, I'm not fully up to date with all this changes we are talking about, but one thing that we must be sure to do is to make spamming wikipedia very difficult. I believe that we have that in place now with the existing guidelines, and I'm very weary as to changing much of it, as I would like to sustain our decrease in spam, I will join in the talks here as soon as I get a chance to read up on the 200+ Kb of text laying around. :) —— Eagle101 Need help? 17:23, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
Nothing to worry anymore. If you did not notice, the wiki software marks all external links in articles with the "nofolllow" attribute since a while ago. This means that these links are useless for SEO and linkspammers as these are not read by the Gogglebot and other search engine crawlers. Spammers will be wasting their time adding links... ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 18:12, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
Jossi, unfortunately not all search engines honor nofollow, have a look at what memebers of WP:WPSPAM deal with daily. In addition you can always look at the activity on m:Talk:Spam blacklist —— Eagle101 Need help? 18:14, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
Also, an example of reference spamming can be found here. Do note that at the time of insertion the spammer actually had content there. (I asked him and he told me he was the owner of the site, presenting WP:COI issues, and issues with WP:RS), we hashed out that it was not right for him to be adding the links. Then a few days later, the spammer filled up the page banner ads that reload every 15 seconds for maximum profit. (A few links were still on wikipedia). Please do note, that this spam occurred after the implantation of nofollow. Spam is real, and we get plenty of it it. —— Eagle101 Need help? 18:22, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

So where do we go...[edit]

Is there still a place where I can say "I've thought about this a little more, I've decided I like having WP:V and WP:NOR as separate pages for X reasons"? -- Ned Scott 00:13, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Well, you can say it right here now, or you can wait a few days and there will be a poll that will give you that option. Blueboar 00:17, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
You'll be able to say it in the poll, Ned. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:17, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
I just feel like saying, I knew about this merger since it started, and have never said anything because I generally agree but don't have super strong feelings about it :) I'm only saying this because I think maybe there are lots of people like me, and if we all stay quiet I guess it seems like we don't know whats going on. Lots of us probably do, it's just that we don't disagree with the merger :) - cohesion 01:28, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Poll is now open[edit]

State your opinion at Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll

≈ jossi ≈ (talk)

I'm a bit worried about this poll. Despite all the prep work on it.. it seems like people are just being thrown into the poll without a way to get the full story, one side or the other. This is not the right way to go about this. -- Ned Scott 02:31, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

From Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Poll being posted here to get more notice: Something's really uncooked here... this can't be the result of weeks of collaborating.. maybe people who've been working on this have spent to much time only focusing on it, because I don't think the outside editor is getting the full story. This is an absurd joke of a poll, and it seems to have been opened now only out of frustration. -- Ned Scott 02:37, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
The poll was started on the basis of an hour's discussion among half a dozen people, and has begun two days before the agreed on time, 00:00 April 2. (The only item on which there was consensus) I began by supporting WP:ATT; I now have difficulty believing any of this has been done with civility or in good faith. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:40, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
This is somewhat bizzarre. I hesitate to delete this section, but since the poll is not actually open at this time I put a box at the top to try to clarify the issue. CMummert · talk 03:19, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
It had started, then was stopped. See Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Poll. -- Ned Scott 03:21, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
This is sort of ridiculous, can't the poll just stay open, do we have to say our opinions again? argh :| - cohesion 04:29, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Archiving statements from cancelled poll here[edit]

The poll was apparently opened by someone and unopened by others. See above and Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Poll to get an idea of the situation. Before the poll was unopened, some people made statements, which I am archiving here. I copied these statements from this old revision. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 04:02, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

This archival may have been premature as there still seems to be some reverting going on about whether the poll should be open or not. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 04:13, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
I double-checked that all users whose comments were previously archived here have stated their opinion in the current poll. I am removing the archive here; it is available in several page histories. Some of the editors have changed their opinions, and all of them are of course free to reinsert their comments here if they wish to. CMummert · talk 14:57, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for sorting out that mess.  : ) Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 15:14, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, thank you thank you :) - cohesion 16:12, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Poll is not neutral[edit]

The poll was rushed through without any rebuttal, presenting a pro-ATT summary. It is not NPOV, and the presentation is leading. [5] SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:50, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

And then some. The fact that is presently running about 50/50 says a lot, really. The loudest proponents of WP:ATT have really shot their own ass off with the last week+ of heavyhanded behavior. D'oh. Good learning experience, I guess. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 06:01, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

About the criticism[edit]

The criticism on the poll page is actually very good, in particular some of the points made by SandyGeorgia, although I'm covering all sorts of things here. At the time of writing the poll is very even ATT leads by 75-67, so I think it is beyond time to actually listen to the criticism as see if anything can be done about the concerns. To begin with, would something like the following change to the lead paragraph satisfy at least some concerns?

WP:VERIFY WP:ATTRIBUTE PROPOSED
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. "Verifiable" in this context means that any reader should be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source. The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is whether material is attributable to a reliable published source, not whether it is true. Wikipedia is not the place to publish your opinions, experiences, or arguments. The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is whether material is attributable to a reliable published source, not whether it is true. Attribution means any reader can verify that material added to Wikipedia accurately reflects the given sources, and does not include interpretations, opinions, experiences, or arguments that are not directly and explicitly supported by the used sources.

The writing could of course be improved, but the idea is to address some concerns that I have seen.

  • You can attribute to any source! This I have seen surprisingly often. Either we need to rename this policy to "Attribution to reliable sources" or the colloquial "Rely on published sources". At the very least, the entire phrase should be bolded. Also, we might need an emphasis on NPOV and Undue weight having an important role on this issue as well.
  • You have marginalized truth! Alright, we need to at least make the wikilink more prominent. Truth is great and all, but it is simply not a criteria that one can work with. Nobody includes material they think is false, we need policy to resolve issues when people disagree about the truth. In any case, the WP:NOTTRUTH section explains this well, the link should be more prominent.
  • You have diminished notions of verifiability. Ok, let's put back something to that effect, using verifiability in the sense implied by WP:V to verify the attribution, I tried this above.
  • You can use verifiable sources but still do original research. We could try to make the relationship between attributability and original research more clear in the lead already, again I tried this, but the sentence is getting long and confusing.
  • We need a separate page to discuss the concepts in more depth. If any concept of NOR need further explanation, it is the part about WP:SYNT that needs elaboration. Everything else is in my opinion very clear in ATT, much clearer than the different policies. And SYNT is of course no more confusing here than before, it is the same example! I think synthesis is a problem of false attribution, because one is essentially using sources in a context where the implied meaning can no longer by honestly attributed to the original authors.
  • You have elevated RS from guideline to policy. No, the title is perhaps unfortunate, all the sections, except "redflags", are copied from WP:V#Sources or WP:NOR#Sources, is there anything else in ATT that shouldn't be there?
  • The page is badly structured. Uhm, (Mikkalai), if you think creating something people will agree with is an easy task, see the discussion that went into the poll :) This policy was a compromise. I could write a much better policy (in my own opinion), but for something like this to be at all be successful, it has to be begin life as almost a copy-paste of the current policy.
  • You should start from the goal not the procedure. This is, I think, the best objection. This was Mikkalai's first objection, and Mukadderat has also elaborated on this. Personally I think they are right, in theory, but I think ATT is more useful in the field. I mean, yes, verifiable and accurate information is our goal, no original research is an independent decision, and so attribution is the primary means to achieve that goal, but it is only a means not a end in itself. I agree. But I think it is more practical to have a page on attribution, and if there are other means (I'm not aware of any) to reach the goal of accuracy, then those can be posted as exceptions, such as the straightforward logical deductions exception. The fact is that without original research there are too few significant methods of guaranteeing accuracy, other than using reliable sources.

In any case, many people say NOR is a separate concept and so it shouldn't be subsumed, but I think NOR is a very bad way to counter the real problems with "original research". What should fight pseudo-science is undue weight, and what should prevent defamatory material appearing on biographies is a respect for other humans (upheld by our policy on BLP). Even if this ATT is far from perfect, it is a significant improvement over previous state of affairs, so whatever we do, let's not go back to V and NOR, let's try to find a solution on how to improve, rename, or supplement ATT! Thank you for reading, unless you skipped something, and only read this sentence. :) --Merzul 14:55, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

I do not like the idea that you can attribute to any source, from what I read, I could just put something up on the internet and cite myself. Bad idea for several reasons. Not the least, is that I can allow the link to get hits, and google traffic, then fill with adverts, and remove the content. (this has been done before, see my prior post above). —— Eagle101 Need help? 18:55, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
But even now as it is, WP:ATT says attributable to a reliable published source, where does this misconception come from? --Merzul 19:28, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Compromise - keep all (but not all as policy) with clear hierarchy?[edit]

First of all, just to clarify the two possible compromises I am suggesting:

  1. Wikipedia:Attribution becomes policy. Wikipedia:Verifiability and Wikipedia:No original research are demoted to guidelines subordinate to Wikipedia:Attribution, and may remain guidelines providing people bother to maintain them. Otherwise, they can be historical. Wikipedia:Reliable sources remains a guideline, key points of which may or may not be included in Wikipedia:Attribution depending on what people think of that.
  2. Wikipedia:Verifiability and Wikipedia:No original research remain policy. Wikipedia:Attribution becomes a summary with a status like WP:5P, providing people bother to maintain it. Otherwise, it can be historical. Wikipedia:Reliable sources remains a guideline, key points of which may or may not be included in the Wikipedia:Attribution summary depending on what people think of that.

For the record, I support the latter.

Anyway, I hope this addresses concerns about too many policy pages which could possibly be contradictory, since not all would be policy and would have a clear hierarchy. Another serious concern which some editors have about these compromises is the additional time that it would take to maintain all four. My answer to this is: let editors decide for themselves if they want to spend the time maintaining these. If people choose to maintain the pages, let them. If people don't bother, then demote them to historical.

We would also need to figure out what to do with the talk pages. In the the first possible compromise, it might be appropriate to subst WT:V and WT:NOR into WT:ATT. WT:ATT was rather hi-traffic, so this could be better for people with slower internet connections. Another possibility would be to redirect WT:V and WT:NOR to WT:ATT, and provide links to the WT:V and WT:NOR archives from WT:ATT. In the second possible compromise, it might be a good idea to move conversations from WT:ATT which were more appropriate for WT:V or WT:NOR over to the more appropriate talk pages, with notice left in both locations that the conversation was moved.

I hope I have addressed the concerns of some of those who were strongly opposed to middle solutions.

Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 15:36, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

I think demoting V and NOR to "Guideline" is a really, really bad idea... here's why... I see a distinct difference between Policy and Guideline. Policy should tell us what we can and can not do. Policy expresses "the rules" we should follow. Guidelines, on the other hand, should be guidance, telling us how to do things. V and NOR contain far too much in the way of "rules" for them to be guidance pages. Most people will continue to look at them as "rules we must follow", ie as Policy. Look at what happens with WP:RS... while it is "just a guideline"... most people think of it as if it were Policy. That leads to a lot of argument and confusion. Having V and NOR as Guidelines will also not solve the problem of having to watch three different pages to make sure that they don't conflict with each other. In my opinion we really do need to redirect them to ATT. I would keep the shortlinks... directed to the applicable section of ATT... they are usefull when we are discussing only one aspect of ATT.
However... I do agree that we need to figure out what to do about the Talk pages. I agree that these need to be kept in some form so that we can use them as a historical reference as to the intent and development of these concepts in Policy. Blueboar 15:56, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
I see the difference between policy and guideline being more the degree of consensus and how often WP:IAR is needed, policies being well enough developed that WP:IAR is very rarely needed. I think Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines supports this view.
I don't think anything should be redirected. At most, those which do not stay policy should be demoted to historical. We don't need to hide the fact that they were once policy, and since people who link to them probably meant the things that they linked to, this raises refactoring issues.
It is just as much a problem for Wikipedia:Content forking. Perhaps we need a new guideline template to deal with this? We could call it {{subordinate-guideline}}. Here's my suggested text:
Blue check.png This page is considered a guideline on Wikipedia. However, it is subordinate to Wikipedia:Policy, and parts of it included in Section are policy. In this case of a conflict, please follow Wikipedia:Policy. Otherwise, the rest of it is generally accepted among editors and is considered a standard that all users should follow. However, it is not set in stone and should be treated with common sense and the occasional exception. When editing this page, please ensure that your revision reflects consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page.
Note that I don't think this should be included on WP:RS, as some would consider WP:RS to be more of a WP:V/WP:ATT issue, whereas I (and maybe others) would consider it more of a WP:NPOV issue, so stating that WP:RS was subordinate to one of them would just open a whole new argument.
Also, what do you think of the second possible compromise I listed?
Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 16:23, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
Template seems superfluous; all guidelines are automatically subordinate to all policies, period. Anyone who doesn't understand that is just a noob and will understand it when they are experienced editors. 'Tis not a Big Deal. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:28, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
I guess you are right. I don't know of Blueboar would agree, though. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 22:30, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree that Guidelines are automatically subordinate to Policies. I think the difference between Armed Blowshish's view and mine is one of style not content. (ABF, correct me if I am misrepresenting your view), I think he sees guidelines as semi-policies that have not achieved a certain level of consensus, while I see them as advice pages on how to apply existing policy.
By the way... I do agree that WP:RS is just as much a NPOV issue as a WP:ATT issue. When including material in Wikipedia (especially one that could be contentious) the first questions relate to ATT: "Is what I want to add attributable to a reliable third party source?"... "Is it an original Synthesis?"... etc. If it passes these tests then we move to NPOV questions: "What weight should be given to the source and thus the material I want to add?"... "Ahould it be presented as a statement of fact or opinion?"... etc. ATT applies to "Can I include this material?"... NPOV applies to "Should I include this material and, if so, how?" Blueboar 12:45, 1 April 2007 (UTC)
Sorry for the long response time. I sort of took a short wikibreak.  : ) Yes, that is basically how I see the difference between policies and guidelines.
I don't see those as two steps, however. As written, they seem to be two different and contradictory ways of looking at it. In ATT, reliability seems to be a binary condition for inclusion - in NPOV, degree of reputability determines degree of inclusion / weight.
I wrote something longer here. I'd love to hear more of your view.
A completely different sort of comment on the same general topic. I see a lot of WP:PANIC on the part of ATT proponents, that we simply cannot have ATT and also have V/NOR/RS. I say "fooey". I say this because WP is chock full of guidelines, FAQs, essays and other interpretations of policy, and this causes no particular confusion or maintenance problem for us. For example, there are an almost innumerable number of such documents that all ultimately descend in one way or another from the WP:NPA policy, including everything from WP:AGF, WP:BITE and WP:TEA (and WP:POT), to WP:MASTODON, WP:TROUT and WP:DICK. Some are funny, some are serious. Some are longwinded documents, some are almost Zen-like in their simplicity. Some are so accepted they are almost policy themselves, some are little-known or even controversial. And it doesn't matter. WP is not falling apart. There is no confusion over the issue. The documents are not falling slowly out of line with policy. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:34, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

You are jumping the gun. Let the poll unfold. After the poll is done, we can evaluate the community's sentiment about these issues. Take a break. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:15, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

Don't worry. I am not trying to judge the community consensus or imply that people tend to be supporting this option. I am trying to acknowledge concerns of editors like you about the idea, try to address those concerns, clarify my position, open a dialogue, etc. No pressure.  : ) Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 04:19, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

What does No Original Research have to do with Verifiability & Reliable Resources?[edit]

Verifiability should explain what a Reliable Resource is; thus the foundation of verification. However, No Original Research, in my opinion, has nothing to do with verifiability and reliable resources. Original Research can be verified, especially when published in parallel with an emperical journal.Niubrad 23:40, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

All the various ways original research violates WP:ATT:
  1. Is it unpublished original ideas by a Wikipedian?
    Well then it's not attributable to any published source.
  2. Is it some pseudo-scientific theory on someone's blog?
    Well, then it's not attributable to a reliable source.
  3. Is it presenting an novel synthesis by combining sources, and then making a conclusion not backed by the cited sources?
    Well then the conclusion isn't attributable to a reliable source.
  4. Is it abusing reliable sources to present a novel interpretation?
    Well, then it is a case of false attribution! ATT requires material to be "directly and explicitly" supported by the cited sources.
Have I missed something? --Merzul 01:04, 1 April 2007 (UTC)
Well put, Merzul. ATT is simple to apply and it works as demonstrated by you above. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:13, 1 April 2007 (UTC)
I suppose you might have. Verifiability, in the sense of connotation and policy, explains a specific provision deemed to be important by those who use and create Wikipedia articles. We want our encyclopedia to have reliable resources, and reliable resources are those that are backed by proof or strong evidence, and/or peer reviewed journals, etc. This is one policy. Another is that we don't want our encyclopedia to have Original Research. For instance, if we wanted an article about mirror neurons we wouldn't put the entire article "Di Pellegrino, G., Fadiga, L., Fogassi, L., Gallese, V., & Rizzolatti, G. (1992) Understanding motor events: a neurophysiological study. Exp Brain Res, 91 176-180." And use it to explain mirror neurons, even though its a discovery of mirror neuron behavior, broad encompassing, and well written. Even though it was published in a peer reviewed journal, "Experimental Brain Research," we would not simply copy and paste this article as MIRROR NEURONS. Even though, hitherto, there was no other information on the topic. Even though, it was published in parallel with a scientific journal, and every tenet of their claim is strictly documented, reproducible, and verifiable, it is still ORIGINAL RESEARCH. Verifiability has nothing to do with ORIGINAL RESEARCH. Suppose the rules for merging Verifiability, Reliable Resources, and NOR, into Attribution are not published in a journal, suppose they are only your wikipedian ideas, suppose you wrote about it in your blog, Suppose you are just trying to synthesis a Novel page by combining these sources. This reminds me of a Bill Murry quote, "I suppose it must be true, it was in the paper and I assume they check their facts." Niubrad 01:06, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
Huh??? ALL WP policies are not published in journals. They are exempt since they are needed to run WP and are not encyclopedia articles. mike4ty4 08:13, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
Exactly...well, not "since" anything; but you are right, they are not published. Sorry, I am really bad at being factitious using a keyboard. Clearly, my only argument is that, in my OPINION, V does not imply NOR. I've given an example of this, so I don't know what else to say. In my OPINION, they are two different policies, albeit, related policies. And, I think that there are a lot of people that would like to see them merged, and there are a lot of people that would like to see them remain separate. Personally, it's not that big of a deal, what's the difference between hyper-linking and scrolling down the page. When new editors are trying to understand what guidelines to use when contributing to Wikipedia, I'd like to direct them to a page with a minimal outline, linking each important protocol, thereby increasing the chances they read (or at least get a glimpse at) what should go into an encyclopedia article.
Exempla Gratia -
When editing a Wikipedia article it is important to take a Neutral point of view, be Respectful to living persons and families of the departed, as well as contributing Accurate information. One can be sure their information is accurate by using Reliable and Verifiable sources; and please do not contribute Original Research or personal ideas. And most importantly, do not, under any circumstance what so ever... JIMBO IS AWESOMEEEEE (now thats a joke ladies and gents). Niubrad 19:22, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
I don't think its that ATT doesn't cover NOR. To me the question is rather of increasing the chances that editors will comprehend the meaning of NOR and therefore edit properly according to its dictates. Let me explain, based on the entry for Christopher Michael Langan (see the section on this entry above). Consider a minor courtcase involving the subject of an entry, a courtcase not reported by any secondary sources. This lack of secondary sources already means there are no grounds for discussing the case in the entry, however editors who wished to discuss the case made the following argument: because these editors only reported what was stated in documents tendered to court, therefore what they wrote was attributed to public documents, and could be included in the entry. They merely chose what they considered the significant portions of court documentation, and reported it as court documentation. These editors had great trouble understanding how this could be a "novel interpretation," that is, they had great difficulty understanding how what they considered simple, factual reportage was necessarily a selection from those documents, and therefore (in the absence of any secondary sources), an interpretation. It did not occur to them that such selective reportage is the very strategy employed by tabloid journalists every day. Now, of course, all this occurred before any merger, so it suggests that the problem of editors failing to grasp NOR obviously already exists. Nevertheless, it is important to ask whether this merger is likely to make this issue clearer or less clear. When editors are involved in disputes, it is easy for them not to see that they are presenting novel interpretations, and it is easy for them to claim that because they can attribute their statements to sources, and can write these statements in neutral language, therefore they cannot have violated any policy. The danger with a merger is that editors will feel more justified in believing that because they can attribute their statements (for example, to court documents, which are primary sources), and because they are merely reporting the contents of their sources, therefore they cannot be violating NOR, when in fact they are. This is not a definitive argument against merger, but I believe it is a question worth asking before embarking on this route. FNMF 01:36, 1 April 2007 (UTC)
I agree with your analysis, the above is something everyone should read, because ATT has inherited this problem from V and NOR and so it will clearly not go away! What they did on the Langan article is not in any way different from what I do when I selectively pick material from primary or secondary source, but it seems nobody objects to such activities when it is neutral and respectful to living people. In any case, I think the root of the problem is that we are confusing questions of neutrality and respect for other humans with questions of accuracy. In fact, while factual accuracy is very important, I would like Wikipedia to be (in the following order):
  1. Neutral
  2. Respectful
  3. Accurate
Neutrality with respect to reliable sources naturally means we get the big facts right, we don't whitewash or serve as a PR agency for people, but we needn't focus on every uncharitable fact about a person either. Doesn't matter if the law-suite is accurately presented or not, concerns for respecting other humans override this, and that's it. Leave V, NOR, and ATT out of it, if it is defamatory material that gives undue weight to something other sources have not covered, delete it, end of discussion. Saying this is NOR will only cause people to object and get into long discussions about what is original research. --Merzul 15:12, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

Even though, hitherto, there was no other information on the topic. Even though, it was published in parallel with a scientific journal, and every tenet of their claim is strictly documented, reproducible, and verifiable, it is still ORIGINAL RESEARCH. Verifiability has nothing to do with ORIGINAL RESEARCH.

This represents a fundamental misunderstanding about what is and is not OR on Wikipedia. IvoShandor 10:06, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

For instance, if we wanted an article about mirror neurons we wouldn't put the entire article "Di Pellegrino, G., Fadiga, L., Fogassi, L., Gallese, V.
The reasoning here is all skewed. I am not even sure what you are getting at but the reason we wouldn't copy and paste an article is that it would be a blatant copyvio, not OR. What are you talking about here? This makes less and less sense the more I read this comment. IvoShandor 10:10, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

Ranking policies?[edit]

As a solution to the above problem raised by FNMF. Let's discuss the idea of ranking the policies, as suggested above. This sounds quite nice as a slogan, Wikipedia is

  1. Neutral
  2. Respectful
  3. Accurate

I don't think another poll would be needed, NPOV is foundational and should be seen as the most important to begin with, and only a true DICK would object to elevating WP:BLP. Was that a convincing argument or what? :) --Merzul 15:12, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

I don't think "respectful" or "accurate" capture the meaning of BLP or ATT, respectively. In addition to the naming concern, I think we should at least wait until the fate of WP:ATT is decided. -- Black Falcon 17:52, 1 April 2007 (UTC)
BLP overrules everything, but it's a special case and isn't an issue most of the time. NPOV and V/NOR/ATT apply to everything. — Armed Blowfish (mail) 19:00, 1 April 2007 (UTC)
Thanks to Merzul for taking up these questions. I don't quite agree that it is better to treat such issues through BLP rather than NOR, because there is a sense in which BLP as it currently exists is more open to interpretation. In the case of the Langan entry, for example, editors who wished to report the lawsuit simply asserted that it was a notable event in Langan's life, and therefore it did not violate BLP to report "factually" about what court documents stated. The objection from NOR, on the other hand, was in this case much stronger, because there were no secondary sources on which editors could rely. So even though the lack of secondary sources was probably sufficient to rule out coverage according to both BLP and NOR, the NOR violation was harder to deny. That said, those specific circumstances may be fairly unusual, and thus I would draw your attention to my two suggestions at my earlier comment at NOR_and_the_entry_on_Christopher_Michael_Langan. These suggestions were, in brief: to strengthen BLP so that it makes explicit that violations are to violate the legal and moral rights of living person; and, secondly, to somehow make more clear that editors must bear in mind the connection and relation between policies (easier said than done, no doubt). The worst aspect of the Langan case was the combined effect of ignoring BLP and NOR. A BLP violation that also violates NOR really opens the door to nastiness, and I think it would be beneficial if there were something editors could point to that makes clearer to editors that they must not just think of one policy at a time when justifying their editing practice (again, easier said than done, which is why I'm raising it here). FNMF 23:41, 1 April 2007 (UTC)
I think your general idea is right, and I agree with your boldfaced things in the high-above post. People have a moral and legal right not to have us, sheltered by our anonymity, dig up and post whatever uncharitable little detail we can find. Wikipedia is for many people the number one google search result on their name. But I just think NOR is not effective in dealing with this issue. (On a somewhat unrelated note, people don't take NOR seriously no matter how hard you scream! :)) The only reason NOR worked on the Langan article, was because a certain user came along and deleted the material and declared it was OR. If I had deleted material in that way, I would have been banned and called disruptive! Obviously, any policy is supremely effective when Jimbo applies it, the question is what will work for normal users. --Merzul 11:15, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
I understand what you are saying, and it was certainly the case that before the intervention of the user you mentioned, suggestions that the material should be removed were indeed treated as disruptive. But rather than concluding that NOR is not the correct policy to apply, to me the fact that NOR doesn't get used in practice means there is a problem, either with the formulation of the NOR policy or with the editing culture at Wikipedia. Because: where there are no secondary sources, it is a straightforward application of policy to conclude that the material constitutes OR. The question then becomes: what needs to be fixed, the way NOR policy is formulated, or Wikipedia editing culture? And, obviously, whichever way one answers this question leads to the next question: how to do the fix? And, as usual, I don't have the answers to these questions, but am hoping others will have good ideas. FNMF 11:43, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
There are two problems with a strict application of NOR, based on secondary sources
  • When Ben Goldacre publishes severe criticism of Gillian McKeith in his Guardian column, is this now a secondary source that we can include at infinite length in her biography?
  • Is summarizing chapters from a books in a neutral way, as in Night (novel), is the heavy usage of primary sources a bad thing?
This is precisely why NOR is a difficult policy. I don't think stricter rules will help, what is needed is indeed a culture of respect for living people. Similarly, I think we need a culture of respect for sources, so we don't misrepresent, use out of context, selectively quote or otherwise falsely attribute something to a source that isn't explicitly making that claim. We need a culture of respect for people, and a culture of fair and scholarly attribution. I think WP:ATT is addressing the latter concerns by bringing in a vocabulary that, for me at least, immediately implies I have to use my sources with respect: is what I write really attributable to the source, or am I just using it to further my own view? This is why I support ATT, not because I like every detail of it, but because it introduces a vocabulary that is conducive to a culture of fair attribution. --Merzul 15:14, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
I do not see how it overrules "everything". You seem to imply then that original research, unverifiable material, directory/dicdefs/soap/etc., non-neutral flat-out biased statements, etc. are acceptable under some circumstances, but they are not. In fact, WP:BLP does not "overrule" these policies, rather it demands that they must be adhered to strictly. mike4ty4 08:09, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
Correct. FNMF 08:12, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
In some circumstances, following BLP may lead to an article that is biased in favour of a living subject. BLP demands strict references to highly reliable sources for any negative information. (No time to negotiate and ask for sources, just remove the material immediately if uncited or if there is any doubt about the reliability of the source.) However, for positive information, the regular rules apply, and may even be bent for sources written by the subject. (See Self-published and questionable sources in articles about themselves.) This could lead to a situation where a significant minority negative opinion on a person is ignored entirely, in violation of WP:NPOV#Undue_weight, but in accord with WP:BLP. — Armed Blowfish (mail) 23:48, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

Attribution leads to a better culture of source usage[edit]

This is to explain my above claim that attribution leads to a better culture. I have used this example many times, but I will repeat it here to explain why I think attribution has a better vocabulary. "verify" in the context used in Wikipedia was defined:

"Verifiable" in this context means that any reader should be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source.

But verification has a very scientific tone in my ears. It's a dry process giving a yes or no answer. And that's not a good thing, as the following exchange shows:

ME: Can you please verify that Darwin really wrote: "To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree."
WP:V: Yes, verified, it's on page X, done.
WP:ATT: But surely this position is not attributable to Darwin! Read the next paragraph... and so on.

I know proper application of previous policy could deal with this, but attribution captures this fair usage of sources in a much better way. --Merzul 15:32, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

Huh... interesting... I see them as saying the exact same thing:
WP:V - Yes, it is on page X. Verified. Done. ...
WP:ATT - Yes, it is on page X. Attributed. Done.
Now, not being familiar with the quote, I take it from the context of your comment that Darwin did indeed write this, but that the statement is in some way incomplete... that Darwin goes on to say qualify his remark in the next paragraph. If so, I agree that this is a problem, but the problem does not lie with the application of V or of ATT... It would be an incomplete quotation under either policy. Blueboar 17:51, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
They do indeed say precisely the same thing, the difference is that verify is a word I associate with science, while attribution is a word I associate with source usage as in attribution (journalism), or when you think copyright-attribution ("the act of establishing a particular person as the creator of a work of art"), these all imply that you don't just check it is in there but you really ask yourself if the material is also expresses the intent of the source. Perhaps it's just all in my head, feel free to ignore. :) --Merzul 18:32, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
OK, I'll ignore... la, la, la... I can't hear you... :>)
Seriously, I understand what you are saying, and totally agree that it is important for editors do more than just cite the source. We should indeed check them to see that the intent of the source is presented. Call it accuracy in sourcing. If you feel that ATT better conveys this idea better than V or NOR, then that is a good thing. It is supposed to be a clearer statement of existing policy. Nice to know someone agrees. Blueboar 18:53, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
Did anyone ever believe that quoting out of context was acceptable on Wikipedia, per V or any other policy? Can you cite a single example of someone arguing in an article edit dispute that an acknowledged out of context quote should stand, much less prevailing?--agr 13:40, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
That was a simple example to illustrate the point. But if you want a more complicated and real example: almost the entire religiosity and intelligence article is citing sources out of context, the conclusions drawn in the article are not attributable to any of the sources. See the discussion here, sources are used out of context to establish a conclusion not attributable to the given sources. --Merzul 00:53, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

Just link to WP:RS[edit]

This may have already been proposed, but if not, I'd like to throw another idea into the discussion. What if we cut out all the information about what constitutes a reliable source from WP:V and WP:NOR and just link to WP:RS? It's another option worth considering. —Remember the dot (talk) 03:57, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

And I do realize that that would make Wikipedia:Verifiabilty and Wikipedia:No original research pretty short. However, they are for the most part separate ideas, and should not be put together on a single page simply to make the policy page longer. One thing I've learned as a Wikipedian is that while some articles should be merged, some things are too different to be covered in a single page, even if that means we have a bunch of relatively short articles instead. —Remember the dot (talk) 04:12, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

The problem with this approach is that ends up with WP:RS being de-facto part of the policy, and WP:RS has often said some fairly dubious things in the past that nobody here really wants to be policy. Making WP:RS a non-normative explanatory note seems much beter, and for that to work it has to not be referenced from the policy itself (except perhaps as a 'see also WP:RS which gives additional advice on this subject'). JulesH 12:56, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
WP:RS said some pretty dubious things in the past because people tried to make it doctrinal; this is reliable at all times, that is not reliable. That quickly turns into a lengthy list of specifics and easily becomes mutually contradictory. I see the potential for it as being supportive to the editorial process, but I'm very conscious that many aditors aren't comfortable with ambiguity in that sense.ALR 07:46, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Why is having separate pages viewed as beneficial?[edit]

Many of the oppose votes say things like "we can't link to the specific violation to explain to newbies". To me, this is like saying WP:CRYSTAL and WP:PAPER should be on separate pages so they can be linked to easily and descriptively. Am I missing something here? Lyrl Talk C 00:47, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Is that kinda like WP:NOT#DEMOCRACY? How is that working out btw... Niubrad 03:00, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
It's a kind of Tragedy of the Commons. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:07, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
I don't understand how you are applying that metaphor here. I don't see a shared, unregulated resource being ruined by maximizing personal gain over the common good, in having three documents instead of one (two actually, since much of WP:RS would end up in WP:ATTFAQ, a fact which the poll misrepresents, and gains more pro-ATT votes by doing so...) Could you elaborate? — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 06:49, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
PS: Yes, the poll intro chatter mentions ATTFAQ eventually, but the average incoming poll participant is only going to read the first part. They are left with the impression that the issue is about merging simply V and NOR into ATT, and they can see quickly from the comments immediately above the ones that they are writing that RS is contemplated as well, and they get the impression that it is a 2-into-1 or 3-into-1 merger, not a 2-into-2 or 3-into-2 issue, which is actually the far more complicated case (I say 2-into-2, because ATTFAQ would continue to exist even if consensus determines that RS should not be merged into it.) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 06:56, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
I see seperate pages as being beneficial in that each page has more "punch", more impact. I find that core principles that Wikipedia has evolved with over time that have developed recognition on distinctive pages as separate entities become a bit watered down by being tucked into a subsection on an all encompassing page. (Netscott) 07:05, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
WP:NOR and WP:V are, to me, two sides of the same coin. It's two different ways of communicating the information to people. By having the same thing articulated in two different ways you increase the likelyhood that it becomes meaningful to a broader range of people.
OTOH that could be captured in a single policy article which uses the various communication methods to trigger the responses in different people, but it would tend to bloat the policy article and you get into the two screen lengths situation where people don't actually read the whole thing.
Despite that, most people aren't objecting based on those principles which rather illustrates the need to communicate the same message to different people in different ways.
ALR 08:04, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
Separate pages for the core content policies are best because, in my view, they are three distinct tasks:
  1. Ensure that all content is attributable to a reliable source (I prefer the term "attributable" to "verifiable");
  2. Ensure that such content is not used in a way that amounts to original thought;
  3. Ensure that, overall, the article represents a neutral point of view.
It's important to keep these three tasks separate because they work in different ways. --bainer (talk) 11:01, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
I think Bainer's reason has been one of the best argued points so far. Personally, I think a proper understanding of attribution would not allow sources to be used in a way to imply conclusions that are not attributable to the original sources. What I like about attribution is that you can consider issues of point 2 as false attribution type fallacies: contextomy and fallacy of quoting out of context. On the other hand, I can fully support your idea of having WP:ATT, WP:NOR, and WP:NPOV because of the reasoning in your blog. --Merzul 12:19, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
I do concede that it is possible to merge the first two tasks into one (as is attempted here), and your idea for enabling this by using those fallacies is a good one. Nevertheless, my concern with this particular proposal is that it deemphasises the importance of the second task, and I think that it would be difficult to write any policy that could successfully merge them without deemphasising some part or another. There's no simpler way to retain the emphasis on these three tasks than to keep them in separate pages.
Of course, it should always be reinforced that the three tasks are merely components of the one continuous process, and this is an area where we can immediately improve all of the policies. --bainer (talk) 13:07, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
But what if one were to rewrite this page to emphasize (2) more? And nobody I've seen has seriously suggested merging WP:NPOV in as well. mike4ty4 22:56, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

Poll bias issue[edit]

Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Poll#Invert +/- for rest of poll This could probably use more community input, as right now it is only being discussed by people deeply involved in the poll's "mechanics", while I think it is much more about the poll's ultimate meaning and value to the community as a gauge of consensus. Wish I'd started it here instead. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 09:16, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Idea : transclusion[edit]

With transclusion we can have have our cake and eat it too. Everyone can have what they want.

The Attribution policy page can consist of:

{{:V}} {{:NOR}} {{:RS}}

and the talk pages of V, NOR and RS can redirect to the ATT talk page. WAS 4.250 09:19, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Interesting idea. I'm afraid it will lead either to the individual policies being incomprehensible or ATT containing redundant information, but it's certainly an interesting idea. I can see it working alongside a policy version of RS that basically contains only the text we have here; references to the same ideas could then be edited out of V and NOR, which could have <noinclude>{{WP:RS}}</noinclude> to include the same explanations. So RS becomes a refactored "stuff that's in common between V and NOR, i.e. basic details of what kinds of source are acceptable". Each policy would need a <noinclude> header to explain how the individual parts relate, and we'd have to ruthlessly watch to make sure that nothing crept into that section that changed the meaning of the policy. But it sounds workable. JulesH 23:21, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

A concept[edit]

The three policies being discussed, WP:V, WP:NOR and WP:RS, all intertwine. I can show this with four statements.

  • If an article has reliable sources, then it is verifiable (WP:RS = WP:V).
  • If an article is not verifiable, it has original research (WP:V = WP:NOR)
  • If the article does not cite reliable sources, then the article has original research (WP:RS = WP:NOR)
  • Thus, WP:RS = WP:V = WP:NOR.

All of these concepts can be combined into one, hence WP:ATT. Sr13 (T|C) 20:25, 4 April 2007 (UTC)


This can then be proven false if just one of the four (actually three and a conclusion) statements and mathematical implications are wrong. Here goes:

  • If an article is verifiable, it need not have reliable sources (WP:V "not equal to" WP:RS).

So the first statement, and thus the proof, is incorrect.--HJensen, talk 20:45, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. I think you could argue that WP:RS => WP:V => WP:NOR, though. JulesH 08:29, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

This "proof" is derived from an overly simplistic view of the policies in question. I could quite easily write an article that has reliable sources but is still original research, by putting together the cited, verifiable statements in such a way as to constitute an original theory. In the Wikipedia terminology this is called original research by synthesis, and the underemphasis of its prohibition in WP:ATT is my main reason for opposing the merger. --bainer (talk) 10:54, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

However, if it is emphasized more, then could WP:ATT be more workable? Maybe you could draft up a revised proposal on your user page. I still think this merger can work if it's done right. To me it seems like a good idea -- I can see the close relationships between WP:V and WP:NOR, even if the original poster didn't quite get it right, and to summarize and collect these into a single unified policy seems like a reasonable idea. It might still be possible to keep the Wikipedia:Verifiability and Wikipedia:No original research (although perhaps renamed to Wikipedia:Attribution/Verifiability and Wikipedia:Attribution/No original research to emphasize the fact that they are two branches of the larger ATT policy) pages though to provide more information on the details that would otherwise bog down a single page. It would also make some sense to have WP:RS bumped up to policy, too. mike4ty4 23:08, 6 April 2007 (UTC)
ATT contains text about synthesis, but a number of those objecting in the poll stated they found ATT confusing. The concepts of attributing facts, and attributing arguments or ideas, are distinct to many people. Perhaps it is too much to try to make a "larger" policy sufficiently balancing these concepts. Could ATT achieve focus as the "smaller" policy that facts must be attributed? In this view, ATT would be like the minimum requirement in a ladder of content requirements: 1) attributable, 2) verifiable to reliable sources, 3) not an original thesis, and 4) neutral and without undue weight. Gimmetrow 03:43, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

A call to action[edit]

Regardless of the outcome of the debate, if WP:ATT, WP:RS, and WP:NOR (and related WP:SYNT) are policies, and Jimbo says better zero information than bad information, why do we have have thousands of articles in the Category:Articles lacking sources and its subcategories and thousands more at Category:Articles with unsourced statements and its subcategories? And how given the mixed usage discipline of the templates populating these categories, does one distinguish between (a) an article devoid of cited sources, (b) a section of an article without cited sources, (c) one particular claim in an article that lacks a source, (d) an article bodily copied from a public domain source (e.g., EB 1911) which cites the source but does not have inter-textual citations due to the nature of its creation and the unity of its sourcing, and (e) content that may be so obvious that they require no sourcing (if you deny that these exist, then be prepared to remove unsourced content that's everywhere like the shocking revelation without citation that June precedes July, when neither article cites any sources at all, or that unsourced nugget on 1995 that it immediately followed 1994)? And once this is accomplished we are left with the issue that the mere inclusion of sources need to be reviewed to make sure that they say what they are cited for. Whatever policy evolves needs to be enforced so we don't have 452 articles dangling from December 2005 lacking sources (see Category:Articles lacking sources from December 2005), perhaps a group of Admins needs to be appointed to be the source patrol and vigorously enforce the policies that are set. If these are indeed important policies (and I believe that), there are now well over 1000 admins on English WP, so there should be plenty to spare on fixing or deleting what cannot be fixed. Carlossuarez46 02:32, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

Because what Jimbo says isn't actually automatically policy, and many people disagree with him in some cases. In this particular case, there is not consensus for automatically removing all unsourced information, and that is clearly reflected in the text of both WP:ATT and WP:V, which both allow but do not require such information to be removed. JulesH 08:33, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
Let me share my view on this... the policy is that you may remove unsourced material... the question is whether you should... and if so when. When I stumble upon an unsourced, or poorly sourced article, my first reaction is to raise this issue on the talk page. If no one responds after about a week, I tag the article and place citation requests. I make more noise about the lack of sources on the talk page. After about a month of nagging, if there is no response, then I start removing material and thinking about AfD. In otherwords... have patience and give people time to find sources. Blueboar 13:32, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
If "wait and see" is the policy, then why permit afd's based on lack of sources unless the lack has waited for some period of time? If our policies mean something, they should say what they mean and mean what they say, WP:ATT should clearly state the time line (and we contrast that with WP:BLP that allows no waiting and seeing) and have things flagged and have admins go through and remove whatever the time has expired on. Having different approaches by different editors is very wikipedia-ish but makes these policies less policy and more structures for further debate, if so maybe these should be relegated to essays or guidelines rather than policies. Is it better to have no policy at all than a policy that's unequally enforced? no clear answer in my mind. Carlossuarez46 17:19, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
The deletion policy says that an article should only be considered for deletion if it appears impossible to find reliable sources on the topic, not just because the current contents are unsourced. But the current AFD system has no requirement that anyone has to follow any policy documents in their arguments, which is why you see incoherent arguments such as "Fails WP:V" even though WP:V says nothing about deleting entire articles. In short, it's AFD that's broken, not the attribution policies. CMummert · talk 12:48, 6 April 2007 (UTC)
Please point me to where the deletion policy says that. The deletion policy you have linked says that reasons for deletion include, but are not limited to situations as you describe, is there some other limitation I have been unable to find? If not, then different editors can have different opinions on whether mere lack of current sourcing is reason to delete - this is even advanced in deletion reviews (comments along the lines of "it had no sources" abound, only rarely does one come across comments in the vein of "I have looked diligenty for sources for this article and haven't found any"). The AfD system (in part because of your observation) is broken, but the more high-brow worlds of DRV seems to also have some of these same issues; which IMHO, is at least partially based on difficulty in applying with consistency and accuracy official policies that are so legalistically weasily worded. A suggestion: we reword the deletion policy to look more like what I have proposed on its talk page. Carlossuarez46 22:14, 6 April 2007 (UTC)


Because there isn't and can't be a firm and fast rule on this... it often depends on the article in question and how likely it is that sources will be provided. With some articles it is obvious that sources are unlikely to be found, and a quick AfD is appropriate. With others, it is obvious that there are tons of sources, and so an AfD would not be appropriate unless a goodly amount of time passed with no one bothering to add these sources (and even then, it may result in a keep based on potential). One has to use judgment and common sense. The point is... the rules say we may delete if we feel it is appropriate... they leave it up to us to decide if we should delete.
Oh... remember that there is also the option of removing most of the unsourced material, but leaving the bare bones as a stub for others to build upon. That is a good move if you feel the article's topic has potential, but that the content is, at the moment, poor. Blueboar 20:35, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
Keep in mind that the WP notion of sourcing is very feeble. Many of the article that are sourced are sourced to some general reference book or old textbook. Many are sourced to online sources of borderline acceptability when good print sources exists. Many have one or two points sourced, and the rest built for memory. Sourcing is the least of the problem. The appropriate current EB article could be quickly found for a great many pages. It would give a place to go for further reading, but it would not confirm the actual article. DGG 08:43, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

Poll Results?[edit]

I don't think it's appropriate to make such a big deal about the numerical results of the poll, such as posting the results on everybody's watchlist, if only because it's not technically a vote. If anything, the "result" was no consensus. --Butseriouslyfolks 03:56, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

We had a survey or straw vote or structured discussion on how to best word and structure/modularize our content policies. The result was a lot of good data on how to best word and structure/modularize our content policies. We will take time to analyze it. Then we will apply lessons learned. WAS 4.250 06:14, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
Who is "we" here? Is there a task force for analyzing the data from the poll and extracting lessons? And – out of curiosity – the result was no consensus, but does that mean that we remain in the status quo ante, and which of the two is actually the status quo ante, one merged policy, or two policies plus a guideline?  --LambiamTalk 12:31, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
I think that the "status quo ante" is: A bit of confusion as to what should be done, with everything in a sort of limbo. We definitely do not want to rush around declaring that one or the other is "not policy". I know this will cause a few arguments, but I would suggest that (for the moment) all of the pages be treated as if they were active. Give people time to sort through what these poll results might mean and how to move forward. If you are involved in an AfD, and need to quote active policy, quote all of them that apply... buttress your arguments by pointing to ATT and V (or NOR as the case may be) so that it is clear that, no matter which policy ends up being active, your argument stands. Blueboar 13:45, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
the "status quo ante" is the way things were before. We should revert to this state until such time as a consensus is reached that things should 'have been'/'be' changed. --Fergie 09:18, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
So which of the two is actually the way things were before we should revert to for now, one merged policy, or two policies plus a guideline?  --LambiamTalk 18:02, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
Logically it should be the reverted to the original state of two policies plus a guideline.--Fergie 20:10, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
I certainly think so. Think of that as the 'stable' version of an article. Revert to it and lock it while the discussion proceeds. Hornplease 20:44, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

Internal math consistency of Carbon dioxide article[edit]

Article states: 1. According to a study by the USDA,[3] an average person's respiration generates approximately 450 liters (roughly 900 grams) of carbon dioxide per day. >This mean s approx 1 kg /person /day or about 1/3 ton co2 per person annually or 2 billion tons annually for world population

2. Article: "Volcanic activity now releases about 130 to 230 teragrams (145 million to 255 million short tons) of carbon dioxide each year.[8] Human releases are about 1% of the amount which is released by volcanic activities."

Lets call this 200 million tons by volcanic activity annually

That would mean human respiration generates 10x as much co2 annually as volcanoes, or 1000% not 1% - and of course counting "human releases" only as respiration releases

?Is there a policy / forum that only examines internal consistencies of wikipedia articles? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.61.33.55 (talkcontribs)

Not that I'm aware of. Probably the best approach would be to discuss it on the article's talk page. In this specific instance, it seems that somebody changed the article only yesterday to read as you saw it, and it has already been changed back to the former version, which is supported by the data. Still, I'd like to see the 1% figure attributed somewhere. JulesH 11:42, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
Almost all of the CO2 generated by human respiration ultimately comes from CO2 that was extracted by plants from the atmosphere. So there is no net addition. Of course, this discussion belongs on the article's talk page, but it is a good example of the limits of Wikipedia's attribution policy in insuring an accurate encyclopedia. We still editors who know what their subject.--agr 20:47, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
This discussion really does not belong here. This is the discussion page for the merger (or not) of WP:V, aspects of WP:RS and WP:NOR into WP:ATT.  --LambiamTalk 20:59, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Statements of absense[edit]

How is it possible to attribute a statement of absense? (Example: Second Life issues and criticisms - "There is no central authority verifying the workings of [..] gambling machines") People generally do not mention, in books or papers, that something does not exist; papers aren't written or published about things that don't exist or haven't been done. Even if a citation does exist, that source could become outdated at any time as soon as the thing in question comes into existance.

This seems to be an area where WP has the potential to offer increased quality of information compared to other sources because it can contain statements of absence that are immediately removed when they become false. The alternative seems to be to ban statements of absense altogether, but this highly restricts other information that can be posted, in particular when an attributably true statement may require a statement of absense as context.

Hyphz 04:32, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

If it's important, somebody else will have noted that it doesn't exist. If nobody has, then to make the claim is clearly original research. How do we know that the central authority in your example doesn't exist, if nobody in a position to know that has commented on its absence? JulesH 08:38, 12 April 2007 (UTC)
Not nessesarily... there are some "non-facts" that are so obvious that no one has bothered to note their non-existance. We don't have lots of books that mention that the sky isn't purple with yellow polkadots. I would leave "statements of absence" unless challenged. Blueboar 14:45, 12 April 2007 (UTC)
Yes, but if nobody has mentioned this, why should we mention it? The only reason to mention the absence of something is if it is important for some reason, at which point it is likely that somebody has mentioned it. The only other reason I can think of is to back up original research. JulesH 17:58, 12 April 2007 (UTC)
The reason why nobody has mentioned it is because, as I said, you generally don't get published in peer reviewed sources by writing about the fact that something doesn't exist. This couldn't possibly be the central point of a paper or article, it would be a subsidiary point. I can understand not wanting to reproduce information that hasn't been published, but it seems to break down a bit if the only reason why it hasn't been published is that as a statement its only value can be to put other statements into context, but nobody has needed to publish a statement requiring that context yet. Second Life and its descendants have been dramatically affected by the change from WP:V to WP:ATT because many of the statements it makes about Second Life are easily verifiable, simply by logging in - but under WP:ATT, the most effort that someone wishing to challenge a point can be asked to make is to look in a book (but they'd rather just click to a linked article). Unfortunately, most of the reliable sources about Second Life are written for Second Life users and therefore don't mention things that would be instantly obvious to anyone who'd used it. Hyphz 00:39, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Don't you? I see a lot of possible references there for all kinds of things not existing. And who said that the lack of existence of the item must be the central point of a paper? You can cite anything that the paper says to it, if you want.
If nobody has published a statement requiring the context you wish to add to the article, why do you need to add the context to the article, unless it is for the purposes of adding context to a previously-unpublished statement?
When you say "Second Life and its descendants have been dramatically affected by the change from WP:V to WP:ATT because many of the statements it makes about Second Life are easily verifiable, simply by logging in," it seems to me that you are mistaken about the requirements of WP:V. Verifiability requires information that may be challenged to be cited to a reliable source, and has done since before WP:ATT was written. I also sincerely doubt that there is any important aspect of Second Life that hasn't been written about. You just need to find the right sources. JulesH 09:12, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

This is potentially a very dangerous area of WP:OR, because it allows all sort of innuendo to be added to an article "where there's smoke there's fire". Consider the sentence that was added to the article Crime against humanity: "There has never been a trial determining whether the term applied to acts of allied forces."( Revision as of 22:57, 8 February 2006) and read Talk:Crime against humanity#Allied crimes against humanity. --Philip Baird Shearer 12:07, 13 April 2007 (UTC)