Wikipedia talk:Civil POV pushing

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What's all this talk about PCCTL?

POV pushing[edit]

This essay would probably be more useful if it were renamed to Wikipedia:POV pushing and the civil POV pushing made a subset of it. There are many POV pushing behaviours that are not associated with being civil, and it would help to cover them here. I've said more on this here. Also, it is confusing that WP:PUSH redirects here and WP:POVPUSH redirects to a section of Wikipedia:NPOV dispute. Which in turn links to WP:Advocacy. Surely WP:PUSH and WP:POVPUSH should point to the same place? Carcharoth (talk) 08:01, 11 January 2011 (UTC)

Good points. Civil POV pushing is in the eye of the beholder. Uncivil is pretty obvious to everyone - though a lot of people get away with it. CarolMooreDC (talk) 01:27, 21 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, ever since the original NPOV policy was changed from "describe all views fairly" to add "in proportion to the prominence of each", POV pushers have seized upon this as a legal pretext to suppress views which they label as "fringe". For example, they deny that controversy exists in the global warming (or "climate change") field, siding with those who claim that the science is settled.
It shouldn't matter whether someone has an ideological or financial motive to advocate or criticize a scientific idea. I would hope we would be able to describe all scientific views fairly, paying careful attention to falsifiability and reproducibility of results. Considering that a top journal rejected a paper critical of AGW theory, even after it passed peer review - solely on the grounds that it "would not be of interest to our readers" - is indicative of the possibility of bias in the scientific world.
Wikipedia should not, therefore, endorse either side in the dispute but rather report what each side says, and summary its evidence and reasoning.
Or is it by definition "POV pushing" to ask Wikipedia to describe a minority view, when only 5% to 20% of scientists question (what seems to be) the majority view? What is the threshold? --Uncle Ed (talk) 14:15, 24 June 2011 (UTC)


If there were a simpler way of topic banning editors who have been heard on a topic, were unable to provide reliable sources to substantiate their points, but kept talking - then methinks this problem could be dealt with. I deal with a fair number of topics and editors that circle around this idea and the biggest failings are a failure to appreciate what a reliable source is for a regular article, what a parity source is for a fringe article, and why a failure to find discussion in mainstream scholarly literature is an excuse to dismiss a topic rather than start rooting around in suspect webpages and 6th-tier sources. If a source appears, and is legitimately dismissed as inadequate, that should be the end of discussion. Just some musings, these issues are cropping up in an article I'm working on/with/against right now. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 16:36, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

Very much agree. There is a process of natural selection at Wikipedia: blatantly disruptive editors are removed, leaving those who have learned a few survival rules. They push and push and push, and wear out useful editors. I noticed an excellent draft essay at User:AGK/Arbitration and content and am hoping the community will recognize that new approaches are needed to avoid having Wikipedia end up being dominated by civil POV pushers. Johnuniq (talk) 08:14, 17 June 2011 (UTC)

Although many wikipedians might not like to admit it, the primary problem is the fundamental policy of consensus itself. When you allow a group of random people to attempt to form some agreement as to the contents of an encyclopedia article there are bound to be those who aren't rational and intellectually honest. Not everybody is intellectually on the same playing field and when you pair the dumb with the brilliant the dumb are going to prevail. In practice what happens is that the dumb tend to be more fervent in getting their way and the smart unwilling to argue with a brick wall forever. Unfortunately, those intellectually dishonest amongst us are growing in number and soon I suspect wikipedia will be completely inundated as their numbers continue to grow in the admins group. The solution to this problem though is simple. You merely have to get rid of consensus and replace it with a hierarchical based system. If wikipedia users were subjugated to an online test that assigned a score to their ability to be intellectually honest and reason, than a voting system based on such scores could be created. Those with higher scores could trump article writing decisions of lower ranking editors when disagreements arise. Problem solved. Consensus could then be relegated amongst only those editors within the highest of scores.

The only problem with this idea is that it would require wikipedia to have an adequate test written outside the collaboration of wikipedian editors. There would have to be a large pool of questions so that sockpuppets couldn't determine the correct answers through trial and error and would require periodic retesting of users. The test would also not be able to have standard IQ questions since such questions can easily be answered by dishonest people. Instead the focus should be on questions that gauge ones ability to separate one's beliefs, politics, cultural norms etc. from plain truths. Most of the people I have dealt with on wikipedia simply are unable to do this. For example in politically related articles you often see users argue one position when it paints their political parties in a favorable light, but then take the exact opposite position if they perceive it would make their party look bad. They don't care about whats true or not only with how it would be perceived. This type of intellectual dishonesty can easily be weeded out via a series of questions whose correct answers would require users to admit truths that they don't want to be true. It wouldn't be too hard to gather a large collection of editing decisions made by past users that clearly reflect dishonest decision making and create a test based on that.Chhe (talk) 10:38, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Might be a good idea in principle but you're never going to get consensus for it. The only way it could happen is if WMF decide WP is getting so bad they need to impose a solution unilaterally. Peter jackson (talk) 10:37, 30 September 2011 (UTC)

Civil POV Pushing is in the eye of the beholder.[edit]

My POV is I want an article to be factually correct and NPOV. If other editors don't, then I'm "Civil POV Pushing" unless I walk away. I have noticed there seem to be admins patrolling controversial articles but they're pretty hands off unless there's an edit war. Self-appointed "lead editors" exist now. They are WP:OWN and WP:NINJA. It's hard to see how ArbCom would have the time to do an adequate job of vetting these editors. I believe the solution is tighter enforcement of existing rules, starting with reliable sources. That means no sources who are affiliated with the subject. Primary sources have parity with secondary sources when it comes to determinations of fact. And most of all, if reliable sources are in conflict, an assertion cannot be made in Wikipedia's voice. As they say, you're entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts. Brmull (talk) 10:49, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

I agree what's needed is enforcement. But
  1. who's going to enforce policy?
  2. what can be done about vagueness?
On the examples you mention, I'm not entirely sure what you mean. A source published by a political or religious group would count as self-published, and so subject to the restrictions given in WP:SPS. But the same applies to primary sources: indeed SPSs are primary sources. Priamry sources are regarded as reliable sources only for straightforward descriptive statements about themselves. For other facts they're not relaible. For example, Nigerian census returns are wildly inflated by tribal rivalry. Similarly, birth cerificates aren't necessarily reliable sources for dates of birth: they may be falsified to make the child seem legitimate, or to avoid a fine for not registering within the time limit. Peter jackson (talk) 09:50, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
In scientific matters there are only 2 categories of information. 1 Relevant facts, and 2 Relevant information. And most readers are running around looking for relevant facts. But you system of organization of information places more emphasis upon the degree of agreement of opinions on subject matters than it does about the clarity of the understanding of the subject matter, and about any known relevant facts. Thus the protocol of presentation becomes more important than the information conveyed in the article about the subject matter. In earlier days, when there were less fact and more opinions, there was more discussion in articles about comparative opinions about a subject matter. And now we're being overwhelmed by irrelevant diversity of information about scientific matters and by the unorganized compartmentalization of subservient matters such as to interfere with finding an getting at the pertinent facts.WFPM (talk) 18:46, 22 February 2012 (UTC)

Breast cancer awareness[edit]

BCA should not be included in the list, it is a single editor currently involved in a dispute who is trying to make a point. It is not comparable to global warming, creationism or other issues which have years of history behind the disputes, a longstanding scientific consensus which is continually attacked by nonscientists, and popular movements which try to use wikipedia to push their causes. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 18:49, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

WLU - Leave me alone. Everywhere I go you or someone else in your posse are right there behind me. You edit war when you don't get your way and you think you're entitled to everything you want. I'm so sick of hearing criticisms from you for everything I do. You don't even consider the possibility of my actions being valid. You immediately think that everything is wrong. I make edits in good faith. So stop it and just leave me alone. Stop stalking my recent contributions. This project page is NOT the place for such frivolous and immature debate, so I will give you all of the reasons once and only once:
I am not illustrating a point. Please stop trying to evaluate my faith. I am improving the page. Spite is not a good reason for a revert. We're talking about edits, not editors. Had I been illustrating a point, that would still be irrelevant anyway if you would just assume good faith.
This is not a single editor. Everyone who has entered that page except for the posse saw and mentioned the serious NPOV issues there. Every single editor besides you and your friends. Most of them have left. This has been for years.
There is nothing about BCA that makes it different from the rest of the list. All of them share one common thing - civil POV pushing. That is all that's important. Some of the things listed aren't even specific pages. The list benefits from solid examples of NPOV issues. It doesn't matter whether POV comes from conflict of interest, pseudoscience, pushing a cause, or whatever. I won't speculate the reason the editors there are civilly pushing POV because I don't do such things. Charles35 (talk) 23:59, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
You are such a child. Please do not ever again follow me anywhere aside from the breast cancer awareness page. There is substantial history, actually, look at the archives on the talk page. Charles35 (talk) 00:14, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Another way of looking at it is that I understand the issues better than you (which seems to be the case here, [1], [2]). Claiming that opposition to your edits is based on a posse or cabal is not a great way to garner consensus. You may have to accept that your understanding and interpretation of the community's mores is incorrect. My edits and reverts are never based on spite - if I make a change, it is because I genuinely think it improves the page (which you believe as well I'm sure). However making an edit in good faith isn't the same thing as making an edit that is appropriate. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 14:48, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Civil POV pushing is an excellent essay[edit]

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)

"Conspiracy Theories"[edit]

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)