Wikipedia talk:Civil POV pushing
Wikipedia:Civil POV pushing is an excellent essay
Wow! What a great essay! I wish that I'd read it 3 weeks ago, if had I then my sanity would not have suffered so much recent damage. I understand that the office of Wikipedia:Town_sheriff does not exist, but how would I go about contacting someone(s) who currently fills the sheriff's function? Deicas (talk) 18:56, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
- Yeah, that's how it tends to go unfortunately :( ...when you deal with civil POV pusher(s), you will begin to question your own sanity and at times start thinking that you might in fact be the problem. If this happens, IME you should take a step back and think about your true reasons for editing. This should give you perspective. If you are truly here to build an encyclopedia, then you are not inherently the problem. You may have gone about it improperly and made mistakes, but that's okay, it happens. However, the people who are not here to build an encyclopedia pose the real problem to wikipedia's "system". Often, they do everything right and rarely make mistakes (if they did things wrong, they would have been "weeded out" already).
- In my experience, the best way to deal with civil POV pushing is to simply get more experience editing. The problem with civil POV pushers is that they happen to be very knowledgeable about the way wikipedia works and they know how to game the system and WP:WIKILAWYER without getting caught (again, if they weren't that good at it, they would have been dealt with accordingly by now). They also know the limits, and won't game the system or wikilawyer an unreasonable amount that will get them into trouble. Civil POV pushers have an agenda, and they will utilize the rules to get what they want. This is what will drive you crazy. They will tell you that you are violating all these rules, and they might actually make some seemingly very good arguments. You will likely begin to question your sanity, as you put it. However, they are wikilawyering, using the "letter of the law" too strictly while ignoring the "spirit of the law". They are also probably rhetorically skilled, and will find ways to shift the conversation into a topic that better suits their agenda (ie you might find that you are talking about trivial interpretations of policies or other vague theoretical nonsense instead of the actual content). Do not try to rationally reason with them, as it will only lead you off track and drive you further from a consensus.
- Once you start to better understand the policies and all the little in's and out's, you can start picking up on the rules that they are twisting and distorting and bending and blurring. Now, when you recognize their tactics, you can call them out on it. This should make a big difference to your editing experience. You will begin to know for certain that you are not at fault and this should ease your mind. You should also be more equipped to hold your ground in the content dispute. Please know that they will not give you any leeway and they will quickly come to understand your strengths and weaknesses. So if you're really lazy about going and verifying material in sources, they will not make any efforts to verify it for you. For example, they might cite "pages 110-170".
- I know you asked for a "town sheriff", but unfortunately I don't know the best place to find one. Very rarely will you find a sheriff that cares enough to take the time to hear your case and begin to understand what the POV pusher(s) are doing. At first glace, most sheriffs will think the pusher(s) are doing nothing wrong. However, if someone really takes the time to understand your situation, they will be able to help (assuming they thoroughly know the rules). No matter what you do, if you hold on long enough, someone will stumble by. Things that seem like curses might actually turn out to be blessings. For example, the POV pusher(s) might report you for edit warring or something like that. However, this will get an admin involved. Hopefully, that admin will catch on and if he or she does, he or she will help you.
- If someone does come around and helps you out, you will probably find that they are making all of the same arguments you've been making the whole time, but are citing policies while doing so. This should truly put your mind to rest. Personally, I think the reason why wikipedia is an unreliable source boils down to civil POV pushing. In reality, any person can learn the ins and outs of wikipedia and will have a relatively easy time pushing any opinion they want. They have no fear for their reputation or their license or their job because editing wikipedia can be totally anonymous. Furthermore, not only can they push their POV onto articles, but they can do the same to policy pages, which broadens their POV's influence from a single article to every article.
- Good luck. Feel free to ask me any questions as I have a lot of sympathy for people like you. Charles35 (talk) 03:55, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
- User:Charles35: Thank you for your response.
- 1) I am attempting to find, for use in talk page disputation, a policy or guide-line that says something to the effect of "all editors involved in discussing an item in dispute must engage in logical reasoning and rational argumentation" or something to that effect. Can you can you suggest where I might look for such information?
- 2) I call to your attention the AN/I that I just filed, citing in part WP:CRUSH -- it is the Section 'No rational argumentation at Talk:Paul Krugman "Consensus on inclusion on the Gary Becker quote"' at WP:ANI.
- If you have time, I'd be very interested to hear what you have to say about the discussion in dispute. Deicas (talk) 05:42, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
- Hmm. A rule like the one you're looking for is one that places requirements on editors. This is relatively rare in the rules. For example, it's common courtesy not to add 100 citation needed tags to an article without making any effort to verify the material, but it isn't against the rules. The best thing I can think of is tendentious editing. You might want to check that out.
- I will take a look at the dispute. `Charles35 (talk) 14:15, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
- Specifically this might help. Charles35 (talk) 14:22, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
- I'm afraid that there is a hell of a lot of discussion there and on the Paul Krugman talk page, and there's no way I can catch up on the issues. As far as I can tell, I can't see anything the other editors are doing wrong. But that doesn't mean that they aren't doing anything wrong. If you'd like to tell me specifically what you believe the real problems are, I might be able to help. Feel free to create a section on my talk page or send me an email. That is probably a better way to go about it than to continue discussing it here, especially if you don't want the other editors to see what you are saying about them (which is totally understandable and not a personal attack). Charles35 (talk) 15:17, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
- Charles35: Your refusing to answer good faith questions from other editors reference, above, has been *very* useful. Thank you. Deicas (talk) 01:46, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
23:10, 15 February 2014 Stax68 (removed term "conspiracy theories" from the list of unacceptable kinds of opinion. Conspiracy claims can be true, justified, sound, etc. If this is intended to refer only to bizarre or fantastical, etc., consp. theories, it should say so explicitly.)
00:59, 16 February 2014 Johnuniq (rv: there is no doubt about what "conspiracy theories" means here; please do not modify essays while engaged in a related dispute)
First, just to be clear, this essay is undoubtedly an excellent treatment of an important topic. 2nd, I'd given up on the dispute you mention (on the 6-Day War page) - faced with a losing battle with (IMO) a 'civil POV pusher'. I wasn't trying to manufacture support for my side in that dispute, which is presumably the point of your second clause, and in fact my edit wouldn't have served to do that anyway. The only connection between the two is that both concern the term 'conspiracy theories', which I have a problem with on general grounds. (Actually, come to think of it, I might return to that dispute when I can find the time and energy, but even if I do I won't be be praying in aid this essay; cogent though it is, it's nt really capable of supporting my case with or without my edit.)
3rd - the main point: there is always doubt about what "conspiracy theories" means. That's why I object to it so strongly. What would you say it means here?
The fact is, the term can be applied to any position which posits a conspiracy or even, by extension, merely dishonest, deceptive, collusive, etc. behaviour. But once it is so applied, it brings with it a huge amount of baggage. There's a long-standing strand of polemical literature from Popper through Hoftadter to Pipes et al., which associates the term with the most lurid kind of fantasy a la Dan Brown; with antisemitism (cf. the idea that 'Arab Conspiracy Theories' is an analytically useful category), even with beliefs about aliens and with global warming denialism, etc., etc. Along with this second highly specialised polemical usage comes a load of psychobabble generalising about 'conspiracy theorists', the 'paanoid style', the 'conspiracy theory of history', and endless cod-methodological criticism of a supposedly homogeneous class of 'theories'and 'theorists'. Applying the term to any view is always obfuscatory and highly prejudicial; it is a broken term denoting an incoherent pseudo-concept. Its only use is as a tool of the very civil POV-pushers you so eloquently decry.
Of course, in this essay you do not apply the term to any particular view; but even by treating it as a respectable term standing for a useful and coherent concept, you inevitably contribute to its continued abuse - albeit inadvertently, and by a tiny increment. Look at that list: "pseudoscience, crankery, conspiracy theories, marginal nationalist or historic viewpoints". All of these explicitly specify an unreliable type of opinion - except 'conspiracy theories', which conveys a nebulous kind of disapproval which is dependant on the penumbra of evaluative and descriptive implications that has come to be associated with it.
One way of looking it this is to consider that the conditions for applying the term, using something close to the plain meaning of the words, has come apart from the inferential role of the concept, which has become fixedby stereotypes and a body of unsupported theory. The essay states: "Often these issues are complicated enough that knowledge of the topic is necessary to identify...conspiracy theories...(One important reason for this is that oftentimes there is a great deal of misinformation surrounding these topics." It's clear that 'conspiracy theories' as used here implies falsehood, but in fact, finding ut that something is a conspiray theory does not permit one to infer that it is false, unless 'conspiray theory' is appplicable only to false theories in the first place. But if you mean to stipulate that you only mean to refer to false, or at least unfounded or unjustified, theories, shouldn't that stipulation be written on the face of the term you use?
You may think this is a lot of fuss about nothing, and I confess I can be a bit of a bore on the topic, but I genuinely do think that the way this term is used has a very damaging effect on the quality of public debate about recent history (it's only recent history; histoians discussing conspiracies in ancient Rome or renaissance Florence are never accused of being 'Conspiracy Theorists!). It has the effect of shutting down debate - and even thought - about the behaviour of powerful organisations like the CIA and large corporations, and about events like the spate of political assassinations that occurred in 1960s USA or the political and economic role of the 'Cosa Nostra'.
People are afriad of being discredited as 'Conspiray Theorists' and this fear in many cases has become internalised into a free-floating aversion to a wide range of ideas; in effect (and, I conspiratistically theorise, in intent) this is an Orwellian debasement of language which renders a whole range of ideas almost unthinkable to very many people. In the 50s, HUAC waged a systematic campaign to coerce opinion-formers such as film-makers, lecturers and writers into toeing the establishment line. Inchoate hostility against 'conspiracy theorists' - which has been helped along, if not manufactired from whole cloth, by those in positions of power - is less heavy-handed but if anything perhap s all the more effective for it.
I'd like to see the term included on lists of 'words to watch' etc., and if I can muster the energy and find the time, I may yet take on the daunting task of arguing that case in the appropriate forum. In the meantime, I ask that you reconsider the inclusion of the term in what is otherwise a cogent and persuasive essay on a crucially important topic. Stax68 (talk) 23:24, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
I think the all-purpose accusation of "civil pov pushing" is awesome. What possible defense could the accused have? If he gets angry about it, you can use Wikipedia:No_personal_attacks, and if he stays calm, he proves your point. It's almost a perfect Catch-22. --MatthiasGutfeldt (talk) 13:07, 14 May 2014 (UTC)
- That's not why the original draftees of this essay wrote it. The bottom line was that POV pushers that add nothing but nonsense to arguments and content learned to remain civil so their POV pushing wasn't as obvious.--MONGO 13:17, 14 May 2014 (UTC)
- I don't doubt that original intention. I also don't doubt the existance of "POV pushers that add nothing but nonsense to arguments and content learned to remain civil so their POV pushing wasn't as obvious". But the point remains that it can be misused as an all-purpose accusation. I haven't exactly searched for examples or proof that it has been misused in this way, my point is more in the nature of a general observation. I'm a bit fan of Catch-22 rhetorics, and this rule seems to fit, even if that wasn't the original intention :-). --MatthiasGutfeldt (talk) 10:35, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
First of all, this page is my hero. Second, I would like to provide more specific information on favorite CPOV techniques for using/abusing sources. That is what truly drives me insane. My preference would be to create a subsection called "Sources." Under "Sources" I would include these two items from "Neutrality":
They argue for the inclusion of material of dubious reliability; for example, using commentary from partisan think tanks rather than from the scientific literature.
They argue that some sources are biased while their own preferred sources are neutral.
I would add:
They insist attempts be made to find reliable sources for a dubious claim before removing it from the article. This amounts to requiring other editors try to prove a negative.
When pressed for reliable sources they employ the following tactics in lieu of honoring the request:
- Using a reliable source to verify a claim outside its author's area of expertise. For example an intro to an electrician's handbook is used to verify a statement of historical fact.
- Responding to requests for evidence with Google search results instead of specific citations. "Here you go! Look at all this evidence!"
- Citing high reliable sources which in fact contradict their claim, or cherry-picking high reliable sources.
- Citing non-English language sources
- Citing highly obscure books with no Google books preview
- "non-English language sources" WP:NOENG: "Citations to non-English sources are allowed."
- "sources for a dubious claim before removing" WP:V: "Any material that needs a source but does not have one may be removed." Also, WP:BURDEN: "The burden to demonstrate verifiability lies with the editor who adds or restores material" Paradoctor (talk) 02:09, 21 June 2014 (UTC)
- Hi Paradoctor. Oh I know. I wasn't trying to argue that non-English language sources be excluded or that a tactic isn't covered by WP:BURDEN or some other policy. This is just a profile of how POV pushers commonly use sources. Do you think it would be better to say "Citing non-English language sources when the preponderance of reliable English sources contradict a claim"?
- Thanks for your input!:-)--Atlantictire (talk) 02:31, 21 June 2014 (UTC)
- You're welcome. I took the opportunity to reread the essay, and I think it misses the point. The list of symptoms isn't really helpful, because it describes mistakes made by pretty much everyone, including myself. What distinguishes CPOVPs from others is repetition: They keep raising the issue after it has been adressed properly. But the real problem seems to be the other editors engaging the CPOVPs. In my experience, the CPOVPs' civility makes it easy for others to make the mistake of trying to convince them, long after the points raised have been properly addressed. This doesn't work, people become frustrated, and soon drama enters the stage. I "discovered" a really useful tool a while ago:
- WP:TPO "Some examples of appropriately editing others' comments" [...] "Off-topic posts:" [...] "It is still common to simply delete gibberish, comments or discussion about the article subject (as opposed to its treatment in the article)" (my emphases)
- That is, at least in my experience, a criminally underused tool, and it has made my life here quite a bit simpler. If a CPOVP has a problem with that, they can go to hell. Paradoctor (talk) 11:28, 21 June 2014 (UTC)