Wikipedia talk:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards/Archive 4

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Archive 3 | Archive 4 | Archive 5

Brief summary

This page is all over the place. But it appears that we have consensus in the following general areas.

  1. Concerns about sourcing;
  2. Interest in editorial approval, dispute resolution or both; and
  3. Interest in best-of-both worlds approach toward flagging "approved" articles.

Areas of division:

  1. Sourcing,
  2. Who is "qualified," and
  3. Where to start. Maurreen

Where to start

My suggestions for further development, in no particular order:

  1. Best-of-both worlds approach toward flagging "approved" articles,
  2. "Approval" process,
  3. Dispute resolution process. Maurreen 09:22, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Editorial disputes

One way to resolve editorial disputes could be to help at WP:RfC. Or we could build on that. I think RfC needs help. It doesn't even need to be anything formal.Maurreen 16:36, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Article "approval" process

Should we develop guidelines for these or decide them case by case? Should we start at Featured Articles or elsewhere? Who will decide? Maurreen 16:43, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Article candidacy

Articles should be suggested as candidates, similar to FAC. Candidates should meet certain criterion which differ from the criteria applied for FAC - while quality of writing/readability should be emphasized, verifiability would be the primary focus of this process.

  1. citations/footnotes for statements of fact
  2. ascribe opinions
  3. quotes footnoted
  4. bibliography of supportive and relevant source items, articles, texts, websites.

In short, articles should report rather than state. - Amgine 17:03, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Sounds good overall. Maurreen 17:08, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
How is this proposal different to FAC? I get the impression from many of the contributors to this page that they want to raise standards of FAC, not flag articles at a more intermediate standard. If so one should work with FAC and get the standards changed. Article candidacy for an intermediate standard might be useful work for Wikipedia 1.0. Wikipedia 1.0 is no going to filled with just 400 articles, it needs thousands upon thousands! :ChrisG 20:13, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Weekly collaboration

Because there is so much to do, a weekly collaboration might be good. I think that could add a lot of focus. Maurreen 17:08, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Yes. Wikipedia seems to be getting more and more of these. I think they are generally helpful. It's not a bad place to start, but I would suggest two other alternatives:
  1. That more people with this orientation get involved in some of the existing collaborations.
  2. That if we start doing collaborations out of this forum, after it gets its legs I'd rather see four or five proceeding simultaneously for a month than one singled out each week. This is often slow work -- a week may not be enough -- and depending on the subject-matter area, very different people will be involved: not a lot of people know abstract algebra, Eastern European history, and Japanese pop culture. -- Jmabel | Talk 19:16, Nov 18, 2004 (UTC)
I think we should work within FAC and other collaborations. :ChrisG 20:13, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

"Approval" flagging

I'd like to encourage further development of Noel and Forsetti's ideas. Maurreen 16:43, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

A democratic alternative to a two-tier system

I agree with the objectives behind a two tier system of articles. There must a way of judging the quality of an article and informing the reader of how much credence an article can be given before they read it. However I have misgivings about the praticality of its implementation and the philosophical implications. A multi-tier system would require a bureaucratic structure consisting of "experts" in all fields of knowledge. Assessing the quality of articles would take far too much time and be very expensive. Worst, it really dosnt solve many contentious problems because on many of these issues experts do not agree. We are left with the decision of which experts to believe. A two-tier system would also reflect a substantial philosophical shift. From its inception, Wikipedia has been built on democratic principles. A multi-tier system implemented by a experts clearly reflects a shift to patrician principles. I would accept this shift only as a last resort. I would like to see all possible alternatives explored before we consider such an approach.

The alternative I have in mind is user based rating system. I would like to see every reader have the ability to rate every article. This can be done with a side bar button that gives the reader the option of rating the article (say from 1 to 5). The result would be an automatic quality rating system that would greatly reduce the amount of time spent on Feature article voting, VFD, cleanup, and would eliminate the need for a bureaucracy of paid experts. There are a couple of technical questions to work out (such as how to prevent a user from multiple voting on an article, and how to refresh the rating scale as articles change), but these issues can be resolved.

mydogategodshat 17:54, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Strongly disagree that a voting system is relevant. There may be room in Wikipedia for a popularity contest, but this is something else entirely. I can just see the POV warriors mass-voting for biased articles in the middle of NPOV disputes, or the fans of a rock band flooding to increase the ratings for the article about the band. That will have nothing to do with the quality of the articles. And where did this thing about "paid experts" come from? -- Jmabel | Talk 19:21, Nov 18, 2004 (UTC)
I agree with Jmabel on democracy issues.
Mydogategodshat, please understand: the worst accusation raised at Wikipedia is that of its unreliability. Because of this it seems that would-be serious contributors stay away of it perceiving it as "toy encyclopedia". Of course it isn't because of hard work of many contributors. However we have observed far too many trolls, POV-pushers, even fanatics to count that those serious contributions won't be spoiled at random moment.
This is a project to back the serious people's effort with tools and procedures that provide a way to ensure that valuable content stays while unvaluable is eliminated with minimal effort and annoyance of serious contributors. Indeed, my proposal does divide the Wikipedia into two worlds: stable, governed by meritocracy for trusted content and the other development, governed by present-day... well, benevolent anarchy.
This doesn't mean the unpassable gap however as there is an egalitarian way for promoting the article to stable status: just write according to policies. This way the serious contributors would see their work rewarded while troublesome POV-pushers and like would rather see rejection and would (optimistically) either reform or vanish seeing that their subversions are only mildly effective as they have little chance to reach audience.
However, we don't take anything away with this proposal, we add a value and significance to our work. The old system exists in the background as a foundation of Wikipedia's growth. It exists with all its peculiarities, edit and revert wars and so on. If one wishes to participate in mayhem, he can there and ops still have to stop him. It is just hidden from view of reader we should cherish. I only hope that this proposal will work towards toning the mayhem down as its perpetuators will see no significance and exposure paid to their spoiling work.
I've never thought of paid experts. I trust that we have enough experts already contributing for free we don't have to pay for their services. We don't really need Ph.D.s at the moment - a small step of review by competent holders of any university degree will do for now showing that we do care for our reliability and that we do show signs of maturing. Perhaps this would draw to us more competent authorities that would want to point us inconsistencies, drawbacks etc. Just that would be great.
However, there is a problem with non-academic issues. Take an example from my field of interest: the Role-playing games be it paper or computer. There are no university degrees nor publictly known experts on this field and many like. Should we use famous marriage quote: 'if somebody knows any objections, let him speak or be silent forever" or there is another way?
-- Forseti 20:07, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Concur that open voting isn't the way to go, for exactly the reasons Jmabel gives. Which means that whatever mechanism does it has to have a line of authority to the Wikimedia Foundation, as "benevolent dictators". (And before anyone objects, they set rules in other areas - of course, always after listening carefully to what all Wikipedians have to say - so I see no reason it would be a problem here.)
However, that does not mean that it cannot be transparent, and in fact I think that it is vital that whatever we come up with is transparent. Noel (talk) 14:26, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Absolute discrimination

Members must be PhD's or graduate students? How utterly elitist and condescending. RickK 22:48, Nov 18, 2004 (UTC)

I agree. I think the whole point of Wikipedia is that people without academic credentials can and do do great research. We must hold to this bedrock principle. Now, the fact that people can do great research doesn't mean that people can't do poor research, and I thought the whole idea of this forum is to work on that problem. But it shouldn't be based on the credentials of the editors. Slrubenstein
Those of us who "only" have bachelor's degrees, or even 12- and 13-year-olds who are VALID editors are going to feel mighty unwelcome here if this process proceeds. RickK 22:56, Nov 18, 2004 (UTC)
I'm a student (currently working toward my IB diploma) and a member of the project. I don't think anybody (except Adam Carr) is proposing a Ph.D or graduate student requirement. [[User:Neutrality|Neutrality (hopefully!)]] 23:00, Nov 18, 2004 (UTC)

I didn't propose any such thing. Adam 23:05, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I see the "PhD/grad student" phrase as a sort of shorthand for "discerning editor". It's not something that can be formally defined, although people who've been around here a while have at least an intuitive sense of who is careful and who is not. It's a trust thing - if my watchlist shows an edit by someone I trust, I probably won't look at it, if it's someone I don't trust, I'll look at it to see what they screwed up. 1/2 :-) Academic credentials are a traditional way of developing trust, because universities have collectively agreed to train students in a certain way. If we decide not to pay attention to academic credentials, then we have to invent another way of deciding who we trust, whether by voting, reputation scoring, in-person meetups, whatever. Stan 05:45, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

An excellent point. The thing is that the "I know this person" model breaks down as the contributor pool gets larger. People who have been editing off in a corner one doesn't know about, and garnered a good reputation there, may be unknown elsewhere. Some sort of system to indicate such things would be good to develop. Noel (talk) 16:55, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The "Phd and grad student" requirement was apparently put forth by 172 on the project page. Maurreen 16:22, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

So am I allowed to sign up as a member, or not? I only have a Bachelor's degree, but I am a professional tech writer and editor. RickK 20:50, Nov 19, 2004 (UTC)

"Approval" rough proposal

Here's an outline of a possible plan, submitted for your suggestions. One advantage is that the computer part of it is simple. Maurreen 06:49, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

  1. An article could be "approved" with at least 10 votes and no more than 10 percent of the votes objecting. Only registered users could vote. Users with multiple accounts should only vote once. Voting for each article would be open at least a week.
  2. To allow appropriate time for review and possibly improvement, no more than three articles would be considered at a time. Others nominated would be compiled on a "pending" list.
  3. Nominations would be accepted only from registered users who agree to maintain the article. So, in a sense, we would be voting on the nominators also. The commitment to maintain the article would allow the article to still be edited, but give us some assurance that the article wouldn't deteriorate.
  4. "Approved" articles would be compiled on a list, along with the names of the maintainers.
  5. Possibly the nominations or list could refer or be limited to a specific version of the article. That is, the article at such-and-so date and time.
  6. "Approved" articles could have some indicator of that status on the article itself.
  7. Guidelines or standards for what is worthy could be determined before voting ever starts on articles.
  8. Nominations would be encouraged from featured articles and peer-reviewed articles. Initially, general topics (such as Electronics) would be preferred to more-specific ones (such as Ohm's Law). That could work toward the "approved" material having a broad and even general base.
  9. Nominations of contentious articles would be discouraged, at least initally.


It could help to refer to the numbers above when making your comments. Thanks. Maurreen 06:49, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Are you all aware of Wikipedia:Approval_mechanism. It seems rather silly that you are working on a new approach without reference to existing suggested schemes.  :ChrisG 13:29, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I will copy Maureen's ideas to the talk page of Wikipedia:Approval_mechanism, and I've added Wikipedia:Approval_mechanism to the list of related pages on the project page here. -- Jmabel | Talk 22:42, Nov 23, 2004 (UTC)

New and detailed proposal for an approval mechanism

After rereading all the various suggestions for approval mechanisms (for what seems the hundreth time) I had a brainwave and ran with it. The outcome is this proposal is here . I look forward to comments. :ChrisG 19:15, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I am confused

There is a lot going on on this page. Different people have different ideas of what the purpose of this page is. Have we reached any consensus on the most general aims of this page/group? I see that most recently people are working on an approval process. Okay, I can see why some would find this interesting and important. But I thought there were other ideas being bandied about -- e.g. mediating conflicts based on content, and reviewing articles with an eye towards giving editors activiely working on an article good critical feedback and constructive suggestions. Have we decided that these are not really going to be an important part of our work? Or is it all three of these things? Or are there things I have missed? Frankly, I have been distracted with my own edit problems with another "user" so I apologize if I am missing something. But I think that before we expend a lot of energy coming up with a mechanism or procedure to achieve aim "x," we need to be clear that we all agree what the aim, or aims, of this working group are. Then perhaps we can have a division of labor or figure out a way to work on meeting different aims simultaneously but without confusion ... Slrubenstein

I guess Wikipedia policy joins sausages and laws as something one shouldn't watch being made! :-) Well, that's the way rough consensus gets created. Yes, this is a little disorganized, but... So. just because something hasn't figured in recent postings doesn't mean that we don't like it as a goal (and I suspect most people here agree with the two points you mentioned - I certainly do). If something seems to contradict a goal that's important to you, but hasn't been mentioned recently, say so, and see what people think. You have have seen something others missed. Noel (talk) 21:12, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think I agree with all that. I'm not sure we've decided anything, other than perhaps we'd like to raise the overall quality. But "Brief summary" and "Where to start", above, might be useful. Maurreen 08:36, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Google Scholar

Copied from the Village Pump, thought this might be of interest here. -- Jmabel | Talk 23:51, Nov 19, 2004 (UTC)

Google Scholar at looks like an interesting new tool for research into scientific publications on the Internet. It is described as " Google Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research." At first glance, this seems to be far more helpful for finding relevant refences than other search engines. Please try out, and please give feed back. Should Scholar be recommended in our How-to pages? Kosebamse 15:21, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Shouldn't we get someone to contact google and add us as a publisher? I see we're listed as some of the citations, but google doesn't (yet) know where the actual work is. anthony 警告 19:17, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

<end of copied content>

I haven't tried it, but I copied it to Wikipedia talk:Google test. Maurreen 08:06, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Wikipedia 1.0

People watching this page should probably all look in at User:ChrisG/Approval mechanism, a proposal for how to get to Wikipedia 1.0. -- Jmabel | Talk 00:11, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)

Against a democratic review

I can see the notion to make the process of reviewing the articles democratic. This means estimating their value by popular vote. Let's examine it (if you don't want to read all of this, please read just last paragraph).

Now, please consider article that is correct with exception to one minor but noticeable flaw. Question is: who can notice it and is he able to correct it (as it is the subject of review). We can expect that (according to bell curve) more edecated people are increasingly hard to come by while in democratic type of review we can expect a medium level of competency on average. So it is quite possible that party that is right will lose.

You may say that that is not a problem because that competent person can just state his objections and work it out his way. But on the other hand: is this any different from normal mode of improving an article? IMHO review should not be a way to improve a quality of article. It should merely be assesment of its value. The outcome of this assesment should be PASS, REJECT (why) , and RETRY after: {list of cleanup jobs like typos} . Else we will have queues like those in gold years of communism. It's not that bad however, because voters are free to go and edit the article in present day mode - if them just deem it necessary.

You can still state that if someone known for his competency states his objections, others will follow. This is quite reasonable asumption but it makes the other one: that the competent expert will engage in shows of their competency (and clashes with trolls along their way). Well, I've seen reaction of some biology graduates on creationist propaganda recently and I doubt that they will be willing to democratically club with creationists when it comes to reviewing for long. And in democratic scenario the review would be most watched and contested stage of article life.

This leads us to another question: that of POV. As seen above, even most scientific articles can be contested on grounds personal beliefs. Biology has its creationism, physics - its subtle and free energy fans. And vice versa: alternative medicine articles can have hard time when estabilished physicians will get on them. Yes, we have policy of NPOV but at the same time we have vandals, trolls, POV-pushers and fundamentalists of various kinds. Abortion, Arab-Israeli, Polish-Czech-German, USA-and-its-diabolic-govt and the like articles are clear showcase of fact that Wikipedias policies are no match for determined contributor with commitment to his not ours agenda with little good will. As stated above the review process is likely to attract contributors proportionally to their commitment to the article and/or its cause. This mean that extremists will be the first, most sure to pop-up and most determined to forcing their vision of article. Are we here for extremists' interest? Are we here to deter them? No, we are here to provide good content above all!

This leads to conclusion that dedicated body of experts would be much more adequate to our needs:

  1. It would be professional because they will have to be screened before their admission to experts' body
  2. It would be more NPOV because only persons approved by the community as worthy would become experts
  3. It would be permanent thus element of chance in review process (will any expert be present or not?) would be eliminated invreasing its reliability
  4. It would be seen as authority - if this authority will behave as benevolent one, it would create a spirit for creative competition. As they would measure the high standards, their acceptance will be a sign that contributor(s) of acceepted article do really good job. Their position and fame would increase, perhaps making them eligible for next cadency. Thus both meritocracy and real aspiration for higher standards would appear because a prize is quite good motivation.

I hope I assured you that democracy's place is out of judgement process. If not, consider the example of real three-pillar democratic system. The pillar of Judgement isn't democratic, relying instead on professionals with help of few virtuous representatives of society in some countries.

-- Forseti 00:44, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

This argument is based on the presumption that the wiki process is fundamentally broken. EB and the media would not be taking Wikipedia so seriously if that was true. The German wikipedia indeed was found to be superior to mainstream encyclopedias in one case study, though we do not have a comparable English study, so we cannot make the same assumption. Obviously there are issues with some articles especially when an article reaches a high standard or it is controversial; but for 99% of articles the wiki process clearly seems to be working.
This democratic approval mechanism I put forward seeks to stay as true as possible to that wiki process, while putting versions of articles through a quality check. As such it is a minimalistic approach which tries to apply the collective, anarchist, democratic approach that works so well in creating articles to the process of reviewing articles. We do not want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. :ChrisG 12:30, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Like I said before on this page, review process with meritocracy of experts would be an added value for Wikipedia not something that would interfere or making obsolete current practices. I don't think that wiki process is broken. It allowed development in nearly 400.000 articles in en: wiki alone. But this project page is a witness to fact that there are valuable contributors that aren't happy with current state of article state and strive for perfection. It is remarkable that WP has gained so much attention from EB and others but reliability is still an issue. You can be entirely right with those 99%. Problem is that one cannot be sure if an article belongs to that 1% or not.
Perhaps the objections raised at meritocracy come from simple misunderstanding. I don't propose an oligarchy of experts, some mysterious and unfathomable cabal of They that is like employer and overlord in one. What I propose as body of experts is indeed a form of representative democracy. However, I think that criterion for measuring of fitness for that body of experts should not be only commitment, opinion and fame on Wiki but real expertize in given field of knowledge. With the body of experts, the higher house in WP's parliament, and normal WP process continuing on current level I don't see any real threat to our goose. Perhaps threated would be POV-pushers that would see their pushing pointless.
-- Forseti 13:11, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)
One major benefit of a democratic mechanism is that for 99% of articles it will be very easy to approve respectable articles or identify the article isn't suitable for recommendation.
This leaves the 1% that produce M:More heat than light. The mechanism requires 80% support to pass, so it will be difficult for any biased or erroneous article to pass; and so those articles will not have the seal of approval of a stable version. This is a good thing! This would be high quality information we could give to the reader.
However, there will be a huge pressure among the editors of particular articles to have a stable NPOV versions of important articles. This is a good thing! The approval mechanism will identify the critical issues and most editors will work to produce a suitable compromise. I've given up writing in most controversial topics; but I would work on them if I could get together with the likes of Adam Carr to produce a NPOV version and then put it forward for approval. You could then bring in the wider community to get that version passed. We could then add a template, which said 'This is a controversial issue. Wikipedia strongly suggest you check the stable version of this article.' This would be a good thing
I suppose my general point is that a democratic process of approval will work against extreme points of view and vandals and so experts will be able to work far better within Wikipedia. The democratic process would favour them, because Wikipedia is a meritocracy. Editors of merit garner far more respect, and thus would find it far easier to get certain versions of article approved. :ChrisG 13:42, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Draft of mission statement

Wikipedia:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards is a place where discerning Wikipedia editors can "meet" to discuss, develop and promote encyclopedic standards.

We envision developing or refining:

  1. A set of goals for articles,
  2. A system to indicate articles or article versions that have attained those goals, and
  3. A quality-based method of resolving editorial disputes.
Maurreen 09:10, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)


  • I agree with those goals. :ChrisG 13:45, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Checking facts

I think there's a Wikipedia fact-checking group that we might want to coordinate with, but I can't find it right now. Maurreen 09:19, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Wikipedia:WikiProject Fact and Reference Check Fred Bauder 12:40, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)

Jurisdiction of the arbitration commitee

The characterization of the arbitration committee on the project page does not fully represent the actual situation. I think everyone involved declines acceptance of disputes over specific article content, which I gather this project also wishes to avoid. We do accept cases which involve edit warring over content and try, not always successfully, to deal with editors who either cannot or will not reference their additions or deletions from articles. This is seen by some, but not all of the arbitration committee, as within our charter. Please look at Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/Lance6wins/Proposed_decision#Proposed_findings_of_fact for an example of how this works out in practice. Please especially note the negative votes at Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/Lance6wins/Proposed_decision#Significance_of_Lance6wins.27_viewpoint. Fred Bauder 12:40, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)

Should these or similar comments, also about mediation, be added to the project page? Maybe a lot of people think the formal dispute resolution process is concerned only with behavior. Maurreen 00:48, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Test case for editorial disputes

See Talk:Finnic. I don't think knowledge or awareness of the topic is an absolute requirement in this case. See the "RfC" section. Maurreen 14:54, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Yes this looks good. Two versions with serious questions as to where one of them at least is getting his information. Fred Bauder 16:10, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)

See also Talk:Finno-Ugric languages, Talk:Uralic languages... - Mustafaa 01:03, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

emergency request

As many of you may know I have been involved in an edit war concerning Cultural and Historical Background of Jesus. I spent the better part of yesterday working on the article, and I sincerely think what I came up with was a good basic article, good in terms of NPOV, verifiability, and style. FT2 has I admit put an equal amount of time working on the article, but I think the result is the inclusion of a fair amount of speculation and editorialization, much unnecessary material, the deletion of much necessary content, and a structure that is a total mess. I requested mediation several days ago, but there hasn't been any response. Moreover, my problems -- primarily with CheeseDreams but to a lesser extent FT2 and Amgine -- is over real content and issues of verifiability, stuff the mediation committee will not touch. If one purpose of this working group is to arbitrate substantive issues, I am begging you for help. Here are the two versions: [1]. In order to get a complete sense of what has been going on, you should read all discussion, but that is an ENORMOUS job. I think anyone who starts with the discussion over the "new messiah paragraph" (item 16) will get a practically thorough sense of what is going on. Minimally, please look at the discussion from item 21, "EDITS: please read" onward -- this is the discussion from yesterday. Slrubenstein 19:17, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

As a party to the above, the primary issue appears to be Slrubenstein's desire to write and protect an article. He has provided an excellent article, from what I have had time to read of it, however in doing so he has thrown out almost all of the Wiki process as well as engaged in a variety of ... uncivil behaviors. Most recently, after being asked to wait on edits until contributors have had the opportunity to assess FT2's implmentation of consensus votes of the past two weeks, he substituted his personal essay without prior discussion on the talk page.
In my opinion, this is not a matter for Encyclopedic Standards, but perhaps another administrative element. - Amgine 20:22, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

As far as "civility," people can read the talk page and judge for themselves -- but as I just said we already have a request pending for mediation, which is meant to address such issues as incivility. But Amgine, if you really think this is not a matter for Encyclopedic standards, then you better explain why. I have argued -- over the past everal days on the talk page of the article -- that this is largely a matter of encyclopedia standards. I have told you, CheeseDream, and FT2 point-blank and explicity that this is a question of "verifiability" -- that I question your scholarship, and that you (or they) have reverted my work based on scholaship without ever explaining why the scholarship is faulty. Scholarship is very much the concern of "Encyclopedic Standards." What I wrote is not a personal essy -- I ask people involved in this site ot read it and tell me if it is a personal essay -- I believe it is an encyclopedia article. Slrubenstein

I notice you say "my problems -- primarily with CheeseDreams but to a lesser extent FT2 and Amgine -- is over real content and issues of verifiability, stuff the mediation committee will not touch." Whatever their practice it is not in their policy that they will not mediate content or issues of verifiability. My take on it is that they should mediate anything the 4 of you agree to mediate. I also think the matter might be accepted by the Arbitration Committee should mediation fail. But that said, please do your best in mediation. The Arbitration Committee does consider matters of this nature, but our methods of resolving disputes of this nature remain under development, even experimental, see for example, Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/HistoryBuffEr_and_Jayjg/Proposed_decision and especially apropo to this case Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/HistoryBuffEr_and_Jayjg/Proposed_decision#Extensive_rewriting_by_HistoryBuffEr. Fred Bauder 22:03, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)

I certainly don't mean to bypass established mediation or arbitration procedures. What I said about the mediation committee is based on what mediators themselves have said in response to our request for mediation, on the RfM page. It is possible that we will eventually need arbitration, although I prefer to see that as a matter of last resort. I didn't think anyone involved in this project would technically arbitrate, nor that anything they would say would have the status of an arbitrater. But this project seems to have been founded on the basis of a concern for the quality of encyclopedia articles, especially interms of verifiability, so I thought that people involved in this project might consider consulting on the page in question -- or even attempting informal mediation -- would be appropriate. But I leave that up to the other participants in this project. As for regular mediation -- I await that. Slrubenstein

Mediation/arbitration and disputes with extremists

Fred, I only joined Wikipedia at the beginning of this month so I'm still finding my feet. But I want to say that the inherent problem with mediation seems to be precisely what you said above: that the mediator will deal with issues the parties AGREE to mediate. I'm in a dispute Death of Jeremiah Duggan (it hasn't reached mediation) with two users I believe are Lyndon LaRouche activists. The real issue between us, I feel, is whether LaRouche activists should be allowed to insert LaRouche-related POV. But they deny it's LaRouche POV. They say the material they insert provides balance i.e. they're NPOV guardians, they argue. In my view, they're using the NPOV policy as a Trojan horse to insert their POV, and there doesn't seem to be anything in the rules to stop them. If I try to get a mediator involved in the specific issue of whether these users should be regarded as LaRouche advocates, the other parties will not agree. They'll try to limit mediation to X said this, and Y said that, which is what they call NPOV, which results in a biased, uninformed source being given undue weight in the article, along the lines of "Dr. X, who is a professor of history, says . . . but Mr. Y [a LaRouche activist who knows nothing about the subject but we're not allowed to say that] says . . . "

I found an example on Usenet recently of a self-confessed LaRouche activist backing up an argument with reference to a Wikipedia article on the subject. Unknown to readers of Usenet, that article had been edited (and I believe created) by a LaRouchie and wasn't an independent reference at all. This is an example of why I feel the mediation/arbitration committees (or a new standards committee if one is formed) would be doing Wikipedia a great service if they could find a way to deal with extremist groups/cults using Wikipedia as a propaganda tool. Slim 23:35, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)

Please take a look at Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/Lyndon_LaRouche/Proposed_decision#Proposed_remedies and see if you think the problems you are encountered are covered by that decision. My impression is that some of them are, for example, "Supporters of Lyndon LaRouche are instructed not to add references to Lyndon directly to articles except where they are highly relevant, and not to engage in activities that might be perceived as "promotion" of Lyndon LaRouche." Fred Bauder 01:56, Nov 21, 2004 (UTC)
Fred, thank you for providing that link. I believe some of the issues are indeed covered by that decision. I have therefore posted a "request for enforcement" on your user talk page. I wasn't sure whether that was the right place to post it. I'll be happy to move it if it should be somewhere else. Thank you. Slim 00:03, Nov 23, 2004 (UTC)

The matter is not as simple as is generally assumed at the discussion Fred refers to. The LaRouchite users Herschelkrustofsky and Weed Harper (there may be others), don't just "directly" promote LaRouche, except at directly relevant articles such as Lyndon LaRouche. They also insert LaRouchian prespectives in other articles, forcing editors who are knowledgeable in these areas to spend time and engergy in revert wars. The LaRoucheites then play injured-innocent and claim others are censoring them. Thus Herschelkrustofsky has now taken to editing articles about 19th and 20th century Australian politicians, selecting ones that the Australian LaRouchies (the CEC) claim (quite wrongly) as their ideological ancestors. One has to be active in Australian politics and knowledgeable about Australian history to see what he is up to. Fortunately I am both, and have been routinely reverting his edits, but now I am being taken to arbitration as a result, while he plays wide-eyed innocent. Only a general revert-on-sight and ban-when-necessary policy will be effective in stamping out the LaRouchite infestation of Wikipedia. The same applies to the cabal of Stalinists led by Hanpuk/etc/etc and Shorne, who at the moment are doing even more damage than the LaRouchites. Adam 02:12, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)


I think at least some of the editorial disputes could be addressed through more effort in available processes. For example:

  • listing them on RfC,
  • summarizing the dispute on the talk page, to help anyone who visits the talk page from RfC, and
  • anyone who lists anything on RfC trying to help out at least at a couple other disagreements.

I've only listed on RfC a couple of times, and the second was only today. But I believe my first RfC listing didn't bring any comment. RfC or a similar mechanism I think is especially needed or useful when the disagreement is between just two people. Maurreen 00:36, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Breadth and quality

I created a page mainly to discuss the tension between the goals of quantity and quality, and what, if anything, to do about it. If you’re interested, please see Wikipedia:Breadth and quality. Maurreen 02:35, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Researching with Wikipedia

By the way, I also wanted to call everyone's attention to Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia. I think it's a reasonable statement of how Wikipedia is and is not currently a useful research tool, but I bet some of the people participating here would have a great deal to add. -- Jmabel | Talk 03:56, Nov 21, 2004 (UTC)

”Reviewed”articles draft proposal


  • Simple and quick. This could be implemented and useful within an hour of its adoption.
  • Takes best-of-both-worlds approach to wiki nature and any standing of experts.


  1. Any registered user could review any article.
  2. There would be a category and list of reviewed articles.
  3. The list would indicate which version of an article was reviewed by each reviewer.
  4. Reviews on the list would be no more than a paragraph long.


  1. Detailed reviews could be written and linked to from the list.
  2. Reviewers who chose to could list themselves and a paragraph about any relevant qualifications or limitations on a list of reviewers.
  3. Reviewers should at least indicate if they have worked on the article.
  4. We could have a list of articles for which a review is desired, or use the current peer review page.
  5. We could choose a set of suggested levels or other indicators (such as “acceptable,” “weak,” “comprehensive,” etc.).
Maurreen 21:04, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
My thought on this is that there is an immediate problem with 'Any registered user could review any article'. There's no problem with having anyone review an article - however to improve the credibility and reliability of Wikipedia, I think that we (unfortunately) need a link to the 'outside world' where people have real names and qualifications, rather than 'karma' built up under a nom-de-plume. For articles' credibility to be increased, someone's, or some people's, reputation needs to be on the line. My thoughts are that a properly constituted editorial board needs to approve (and possibly modify) articles. As I've mentioned elsewhere, there could (and in my view should) be multiple competing boards aiming to set their seal upon particular article versions. For example, one such board could be a set of academics in a particular subject whose names are known, who have a publishing record in peer-reviewed journals, and have an academic reputation. This does not preclude a self selected group of people setting up their own board under noms-de-plume and producing a Wikireputation based set of approvals. Users would have the choice of using either or both or neither board's seals of approval (article tags) as a filter into Wikipedia. WLD 21:48, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)