Wikipedia talk:NPOV tutorial

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Comment[edit]

Meh. I thought it was a good example, but it's your project so I wont object. BL 16:58, 25 Sep 2003 (UTC)


PS - new section moved to bottom of page

I completely disagree with the assertion that "Articles need to be interesting" as it goes on to say "to attract and keep the attention of readers" while it may possibly be true that if you don't want the content you authored to be heavily edited you may want your content to be interesting, but no, articles do not need to be interesting and the day that they do is the day the sentence should be cut from the NPOV tutorial and pasted into the "Why Wikipedia has a reputation that more closely matches that of a Daily Newspaper and not an Encyclopedia" tutorialDirtclustit (talk) 04:54, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

Don't pass judgement[edit]

It is a well known fact that the Christian Church burnt witches during the 17th century. Today most of us do not believe in the existence of witches and we feel that the witch burnings of the past were inexcusable crimes committed against innocent women. It is hard for us to understand how such things could happen. But before condemning the people who perpetrated those acts which we would now consider crimes, we should understand the full implications of our judgement. We should also ask whether we are wholly condemning the Church that stood behind those acts. To be concrete: though witches were burned, that did not make the whole Church an evil organisation, nor every Christian a wicked person. Even less can we say that because of the witch burnings Christianity is wholly a wicked religion and for that reason to be condemned.

Would this same reasoning argue that we cannot condemnn slavery or genocide as bad, because we cannot pass judgement on they who committed those crimes ? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 66.44.103.90 (talkcontribs) 10:13, 21 December 2003 (UTC).

No, you can condemn slavery but you do not need to condemn it when you say that Romans used(?) slaves. Saying someone killed a baby is stating a fact; saying that someone did the bad thing of killing a baby is over-stating a fact; it would be even more POV saying someone is bad because he killed a baby. Pfortuny 13:29, 22 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I know it is very tempting to do that. But try hard to let the facts speak for themself. I think that any reasonable person would come to the conclusion that burning witches was a horrible thing but stating it in the article text is neither neccesarry or good (according to the Wikipedia NPOV policy). —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Ed Poor (talkcontribs) 17:18, 25 September 2003 (UTC).

Oh yes you can say condemn anyone who harmed any witch when they had not committed any crime, it doesn't matter if the society's written law made explicitly stated once a witch was identified it was legal to burn them, even if one could positively ID one, anybody who executes such a blatantly flawed law is in fact evil. And if not then at the very least it could be said that executor does not deserve their own life in the House Of Human Being, and a strong case could be made that anybody who witnessed it and did not speak out to the act being wrong could get the exact same judgement handed down. The same deal with un-consented to slavery unless they had some questionable law wherein jail time could be substituted for a stint of indentured service. And if that was the case for anyone I was LEGAL COUNSEL to I would inform them that they might want to make sure they are biological parents to offspring somewhere, as combined spiritually with another who was NOT so foolish is the only way they are going to carry on, as those unfit for the THIS HOUSE will find the gates locked after their current lease expiresDirtclustit (talk) 05:11, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

I have one minor quibble and one major objection:

Minor quibble: In Wikipedia:NPOV tutorial#Attribution vs. citation, I'm afraid that the criterion that a view can be demonstrated to be wrong may be abused. If a view is a widely-held error, then it's generally fine to explain why this is so. For example, many people believe that Harry S. Truman never used a period after his middle initial, but in fact he did, as documented by numerous signatures. However, in some situations, there will be people who are perfectly familiar with the sound reasoning against their position, but who nevertheless will not accept that reasoning. For example, many people believe in creationism, but in fact nothing of the sort ever happened, as documented by the overwhelming scientific evidence of evolution. (Ed may disagree with my example ... but that's part of the point! -_^) I call this a minor quibble, because I know that nobody intended to authorise this sort of thing. So can we change the language to something along the lines of "Is there indisputable evidence for the claim, which those who disagree with it are unaware of?"? (Or something like that, this isn't ideal yet.)

Major objection: In Whose view matters?, a definite preference is given to "experts". While there is a brief mention that this is not a well-defined class, I worry that this could easily lead to a bias in favour of established opinions (over new ideas) and the opinions of people with interests (since nobody knows more about genetic engineering than our friends at Monsanto). One possibility is to define "experts" so that it clearly includes a potentially wide variety of people: perhaps "people that have studied the matter a good deal" (whereas a bad alternative definition would be "people that know a good deal about the matter"). My preference would be to avoid relying on that word in the first place; either by replacing it with a more suitable term (any ideas?) or by supplementing it. One supplement (but we should think of more) could be "participant"; for example, an anthropologist might be an "expert" on voudun, but a practitioner might not be (for some interepretations of the word). Clearly, we don't want to permit the sort of biases that would result by ignoring the Haitian hougan in favour of the French scientist!

-- Toby Bartels 07:52, 25 Oct 2003 (UTC)


I think this piece is a good approach to clarify things. I agree with Toby that the "expert" reference could be...a bit problematic. I think it will be very inspiring to me for a shameless translation. I wrote something one day, but can't find it back :-( To those who read french, I also propose that link, which hold the charter of another encyclopedia http://agora.qc.ca/encyclopedie.nsf/Communiques/Charte#principe1

Anthère 16:18, 25 Oct 2003 (UTC)


I don't think we should expect or demand a lot of patience from people who are in need of tutoring about neutrality. Hence, I think this article right now is way, way too long; in particular, because there exists and even longer article that's about NPOV and is not called a "tutorial," and because "tutorial" suggests a quick how-to. It might be O.K. to preserve all the excess (better to merge whatever isn't redundant into the main article), but in that case I think there should be a succinct how-to up top. In one short sentence preceding it the article can offer a link out to the longer one for readers who don't arrive with some knowledge of the term NPOV.168... 03:17, 5 Nov 2003 (UTC)

On "the good way to judge neutrality"[edit]

I changed the "good way to judge" part to ..

One litmus test that can be used to judge the neutrality of an article is to ask, "Would a reader suspect that this article was written by someone who was trying to push a particular agenda or point of view - either subtly or not-so-subtly?"
Note, however, that when there is a large disparity between the public opinion about a subject and the published facts about it, this test may not apply. Take the example of someone who has been branded a criminal by the media and later conclusively been proven innocent. The public opinion might be clearly set against him still, even if the facts are on his side. That does not mean that an article which reports these facts is in violation of NPOV just because people will feel that it is based on their perception of what the facts should be.
Also note that if you feel that a particular view is overrepresented, one of the least controversial (and therefore often most productive) things to do is to add more facts from the "other side" of the debate.

Gbog reverted and said this should be discussed first because it's a major change. I don't think it is, but if Gbog disagrees with this explanation, I would invite him to comment on it. If he fails to do so I will reinsert the new version.—Eloquence

I prefer A good way to judge the neutrality of an article is to ask, "Would a reader suspect that this article was written by someone who was trying to push a particular agenda or point of view - either subtly or not-so-subtly?" The more an article appears to be written by a neutral writer, the more neutral it is.
I don't know why you removed last sentence. I would change it to "The more an article appears to be written by a neutral writer, the more neutral it is likely to be".
I don't know why you changed a good way to a litmus test. For me, it is really a good way and it essential that no article in Wikipedia should be suspectable to have been written by someone trying to push a particular agenda.
Your two note have no place in a section called "overall tone" because they adress to something else. The first tries to adress a specific problem, where "public opinion" is in conflict with "published facts". The second adress the problems of "Whose view matters" and "striking a fair balance".
So we disagree, and a consensus is not found yet. gbog 10:08, 21 Dec 2003 (UTC)
How about the compromise proposal? This tones down the absolutes, and moves the section out from the "overall tone" header.—Eloquence
I don't understand what you want.gbog 10:39, 21 Dec 2003 (UTC)
See [1].—Eloquence
I don't agree with these changes. Overall tone of any Wikipedia article should be neutral, no? Again, please, you are not god, you have to care about what other people think. So don't change this again before a consensus. gbog 10:59, 21 Dec 2003 (UTC)
That's a very vague statement. To say that "if you suspect that an article isn't NPOV, it probably isn't" is a very specific statement. That specific statement needs a caveat for the reasons I have given, which you have not addressed. Until you do so, it will stay in.—Eloquence
You said "Gbog reverted and said this should be discussed first because it's a major change. I don't think it is, but if Gbog disagrees with this explanation, I would invite him to comment on it. If he fails to do so I will reinsert the new version." As I have "commented on" the thing, and I don't agree to your changes, we will have to wait for a consensus before changing this important article. You can try to convince me that you proposed change is essential, but it is now not the case at all. I think that "overall tone" is very important, and that there is a "neutral" tone that any article should reach, so the statement is imho essential in the subsection. For the moment, please don't add your changes to the article, except if you think that you have more rights than me on the content of Wikipedia. gbog 11:46, 21 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Consensus will not magically appear. You have to actually justify your opinions. You have failed to do so -- I did not remove the test, I merely qualified it. We can talk about toning down my qualification (e.g. "Some people hold that"), but there is no reason to remove it.—Eloquence

I know people fight a lot over NPOV, but fighting over an NPOV tutorial... (shame there's not an emoticon for "shakes heads in bemusement"). Can you please stop this before the page needs to be protected? Now it's advertised on the Village pump, why not leave it a few days to see if other people have anything to contribute to this? Angela. 11:48, 21 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I'm all for it. Of course, if Gbog continues to violate policy, the problem might solve itself.—Eloquence
You are for all but considering my position in the debate. And now you are showing teeth. Nice attitude for a sysop dealing with a new Wikipedian... gbog
Oh, but I did consider your position.—Eloquence
I have no wish to get involved in the nitty-gritty of this discussion, but Eloquence, that was an important and much-needed addition. Tannin 12:51, 21 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Well, I don't care enough to fight about it. This is just a tutorial, after all. Feel free to take it out if it bothers you that much.—Eloquence

No no - I meant that your addition was important and much needed. Tannin
I know.—Eloquence

from the village pump

Eloquence feels the change clarifies that the suspicion that an article is POV is not always an indication that this is the case, as there may be cases where there is a large disparity between facts an opinions. He thinks it is an important (if minor) caveat.

Gbog explained that this relates to the FAQ section on the Mother Teresa talk page. Gbog would like to add a quote from the NPOV_tutorial to the FAQ, but Eloquence disagreed, stating that the quote was inappropriate and explained that "merely suspecting that an article is POV doesn't make it so, as on cases like Mother Teresa, quite a few people will have this suspicion."

Andrewa felt the issue provided support for the benefits of a filter project (see m:Talk:Referees for full comments).

Menchi reminded everyone that calling others incompetent was anti-Wikilove. Eloquence noted that censorship of negative views and a lack of understanding of our policies were worse than vandalism. Gbog thought that transforming Wikipedia into an anti-religious sandbox would be worse than vandalism.


NPOV tests section[edit]

If you read above, you will notice that there has actually been an edit war about the "NPOV tests" section already. The current version reflects a compromise. It acknowledges that "Would a reader suspect that this article was written by someone who was trying to push a particular agenda or point of view - either subtly or not-so-subtly?" is one question one may ask to find out whether an article is in compliance with NPOV, but to avoid abuse of this guideline, clarifies that we need not pander to beliefs which are clearly incorrect. For example, we don't need to write "Some experts claim that wrestling fights are staged" but we can write "Wrestling fights are carefully staged". We can acknowledge these misconceptions insofar as we mention them, but we don't need to soften our language to accommodate them.

I think this is a very important part of this tutorial, as it concerns a common problem: How to deal with false information. I'd rather elaborate on it than remove it entirely.—Eloquence 08:10, Jan 21, 2004 (UTC)


I was surprised to learn what that section is supposed to be about, b/c it doesn't read that way to me. I agree we're in a sticky situation if the section reflects a hard-won compromise, but my naive assessment of it was that it was unfocused and unhelpful, so all things equal I think it needs serious revision or chucking. I think there's a big problem being glossed over here, which involves taking for granted what the rest of the article doesn't take for granted at all. The problem is: How do I know when my POV is worse than another user's POV? How do I know that I should just step aside and give their POV primacy because mine, though popular, is a fiction (i.e. that contrary to what it looks like to me and what my buddies all say, actually wrestling is staged). If you proved wrestling is staged on the pages of Wikipedia, what would that proof look like? Tell me that and I'll know when to back off. But the section simply assumes that proof is obvious to everybody (murderer proven innocent). But to some one who believes in the fiction despite the proof, plainly it's not proof. If you think that once a Wikipedian has told them of the proof they will realize it's proof, then you are talking about someone whose POV has been changed and they don't need this section to urge them to defer to the truth. How is this section helping anybody? 168... 08:33, 21 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I've moved the material which I consider important into the "Space and balance" section.—Eloquence 08:51, Jan 21, 2004 (UTC)

I like this latest version of the tutorial, and I commend Eloquence for having the foresight to recommend its initial creation. It's much better than I could have done myself. :-) --Uncle Ed 14:47, 1 Mar 2004 (UTC)


The passage:

Assertions written in neutral language are objectively true. One such neutral assertion is this:
"In 1989, Drs. Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann of the University of Utah shocked the world by reporting they had discovered a means to tap energy from nuclear fusion at near to room temperatures."
Even though very few scientists believe Pons' and Fleishchman's report was accurate, let alone responsible, probably none would disagree with the assertion made in the previous sentence.

bothers me. Is it in fact true that Pons and Fleischmann shocked the world? At the time I heard it, I thought it was mildly interesting, but I certainly wasn't "shocked." (Perhaps I was too young, and all adults that heard it were shocked?) It certainly seems like a non-factual observation, anyway. I don't think it really matters, but maybe a different example could be chosen. It caused a bit of cognitive dissonance in a place where it didn't need to occur. TreyHarris 00:48, 15 May 2004 (UTC)

I also have some objections to the phrasing of the sentence if it is to serve as an example of NPOV... I haven't read the 1989 report lately, but I am pretty sure they didn't say they "found a means to tap energy from nuclear fusion". The report announced the discovery of anomalous heat that couldn't be explained by known chemical reactions. Fusion was the only known process that could supply the amount of excess energy observed. Furthermore, the "cold fusion" experiment doesn't provide any way to actually use the anomalous heat to supply energy to external equiment, so it could hardly be called a means to tap energy. The statement is sensationalized, a typical trait of material from journalists who report on subjects they know next-to-nothing about. --D. Estenson II 20:35, July 14, 2005 (UTC)
I just read the above comments regarding the Pons/Fleischmann 'shocked the world'. i'm amused, as i had the exact cognitive dissonance. i'm going to modify the explanatory text, as i think it could serve as an example of the ambiguity here.Anastrophe 08:35, 8 November 2005 (UTC)

I didn't realize this discussion had taken place about the cold fusion sentence before I put back "shocked the world" with the comment "'drama' is not inaccurate if it has not been offered as a literal depiction of something people found dramatic" [I've rephrased the comment, which I garbled when I made my edit] although I think my comments still stands in answer to the points in the discussion. This intolerant accuracy quibbling is totally subjective and the presumed authority and confidence with which people quibble is snobbish deference to the language of a prominent specialty or discipline. Language is inherently figurative, schematic and ambiguous, and the goal of education is inherently didactic. Some things aren't worth fussing over though, and some well meant fussing is counter productive. I contend "tap" in this context will lead _nobody_ to imagine the scientists used the energy powered a car or appliance, and please note that I do not mean "nobody." You know what I mean.

Things not to avoid[edit]

I've just added a section warning not to avoid saying things that some groups object to having stated if they're not disputing the facts. I've encountered this a couple of times recently, and it looks like people are misunderstanding NPOV, and so taking political correctness too far. I see earlier on this talk page there are a couple of mentions of other forms of this problem. I'm not entirely satisfied by my exposition of the issue; perhaps others here can devise a clearer statement of it. 195.167.169.36 16:49, 10 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I removed the examples in this section. They weren't very useful and were poor examples of NPOV. Perhaps we could discuss better examples. Carrp 14:39, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Sensible approaches to minority views[edit]

I have some concerns with the NPOV definition, specifically how it is being used to force small minority views into articles in large ways. Take, for example, the "sun case" used throughout the early part of the NPOV tutorial. I have seen a couple of cases where people have quoted this argument, and the explicit statement that 99% of the world seeing something may not make make it true, in a destructive way. Does anyone really think that there should be a disambugation link at the top of the article about the Sun (as suggested in "word ownership") saying "This article is about a large majority view of the Sun. For the view of the Sun by Apollo-Worshippers, see..."? This is clearly what the article implies. I would like to rewrite that example, and the example of "word ownership" to explain that consensus meanings DO have greater weight than very small minority meanings. Does anyone have any thoughts? --Goodoldpolonius2 05:43, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Neutral language and Bias in attribution: Mind your nuances[edit]

See my suggestion in Wikipedia talk:Words to avoid#Claim --Irmgard 09:53, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

Your "accusations" section has a high potential of being labelled as libel. As it currently states; ((Attribution and citation are especially important for claims against a person ("Michael Jackson is a child abuser")etc.... )) is basically presenting a very nasty association that is damaging and in many nations illegal. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 61.122.255.117 (talkcontribs)

Article splitting[edit]

Hmmm. I am rather concerned about the section of this page called "Article splitting" since it references Wikipedia:Content forking but then describes as mandatory a different procedure from what that page actually says. Wikipedia:Content forking says that when one subtopic is getting too large or too contentious, it can be split off into its own article, with a shortened summary left in the main article. This page claims that Wikipedia:Content forking claims for all subtopics of an article to be spun out at the same time. I am concerned that this misrepresentation will be used to oppose legitimate changes ("No, you can't spin off 'Criticism of King Loopdeloop' into its own article! Not unless you're willing to spin every subtopic, including the two-sentence 'Shoe size of King Loopdeloop', into its own article!"). I'd like to get comments on this, but if no one can explain a good reason why this particular procedure, not supported by either of the pages it references, should stay in its current form, I will change it. -- Antaeus Feldspar 15:28, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Could you give a real life example?
It's all very nice to talk about King Loopdeloop, but if there is a main section in the [[King Loopdeloop]] article entitled 'Shoe size of King Loopdeloop', then there's probably something wrong with the "space and balance" of that article to start with ("space and balance" as in Wikipedia:NPOV tutorial#Space and balance). So you've got work on that article before thinking about splitting it. Indeed, there is a danger that important subtopics are split off, leaving in the King Loopdeloop main article nothing more than a few summaries, immersed in a host of trivia.
Also drawing your attention that you misquoted Wikipedia:NPOV tutorial#Article splitting:

The NPOV way of splitting articles is explained in Wikipedia:Content forking: every main section of the article is reduced in size, keeping to the "space and balance" principle as explained above, and an equal number of sub-pages is created using a technique as explained in wikipedia:summary style.

You had replaced "every main section" by "every subsection" - which is not the same (e.g. a subsection with no more than three secondary "see also" links is not really a "main section" of the main article, is it?).
Also your rendering of wikipedia:Content forking#Article spinouts - "Summary style" articles is slightly deformed, as in that guideline it is indicated:

Summary style articles, with sub-articles giving greater detail, are not content forking, provided that all the sub-articles, and the summary conform to Neutral Point of View.

Well, that would be impossible to produce if after the split the main article were out of balance, in the NPOV tutorial sense (No wikipedia article in the article namespace is exempt of NPOV, including "space and balance" recommendations).
So I don't see where you see the contradiction between wikipedia:Content forking and Wikipedia:NPOV tutorial. But maybe you can point to an example, that might indicate a real problem with either or both of these guidelines. --Francis Schonken 16:51, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, in the hopes that I can draw the attention of an editor willing to discuss this in a constructive rather than a confrontational manner, let me point to a passage from Wikipedia:Summary style: "it is generally considered to be a bad idea to divide an article too hastily. Often the best way to divide an article is to let it grow and then look for sections that could logically be summarized and spun off so the article once again efficiently covers its topic. Interwiki links, along with external links, further reading, references, see also and similar sections should not be counted toward an article's total size since the point is to limit readable prose in the main body of an article." How is this to be reconciled with the contention that ... you know, I don't think I'm even going to bother describing what a reasonable person believes Wikipedia:NPOV tutorial#Article splitting says when they read it, because it'll just result in a patronizing lecture about how I failed to appreciate the massive difference in meaning caused by a comma or something. -- Antaeus Feldspar 04:51, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Please make clear whether you want a constructive rather than a confrontational discussion: using words like "patronizing lecture" where none was intented (WP:AGF!), seems rather to indicate you're looking for confrontation. So, again, maybe give an example where you've seen things go wrong. That would make discussion much easier IMHO. --Francis Schonken 13:02, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, responding to someone's stated concerns with the reply that "it's all very nice to talk about [a way someone could abuse the policy as currently written] ... But maybe you can point to an example, that might indicate a real problem with either or both of these guidelines" (emphasis in original) strikes me as very patronizing and not at all conducive to a constructive discussion. -- Antaeus Feldspar 18:43, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

POV information suppression: add examples to this page?[edit]

Currently we have a clarification on WP:NPOV, about how an article easily can be biased WP:NPOV in a hidden way. This was planned to be spun off to a separate help page (this goes back to the WP:NPOV talk page of November). However, it is just a list of examples that now is presented as "new policy", and as such it receives misdirected negative criticism. I don't think it will pass as "new policy", and I'm also against that: "no bias" and fair treatment of all notable POV's is the corner stone of Wikipedia, it's not "new" in any way.

An alternative would be to trim it back down and reinsert it on the NPOV page, but that would be a waste.

Now, as it's just a tutorial on how articles can be biased and there shouldn't be a wildgrowth of guide pages, personally I think that it is best placed here, after some more text improvement. See: Wikipedia_talk:Information_suppression Harald88 14:17, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

How 'bout merging Wikipedia:Neutral point of view/Examples and Wikipedia:Information suppression? They both have a similar approach...
I'll put up a {{merge}} template on both --Francis Schonken 14:44, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestion, for I hadn't even noticed that that article with examples existed!
However, the "NPOV Examples" are specific examples (which are therefore arguable), while those on Wikipedia_talk:Information_suppression are non-specific, as a guideline that has not been explained elsewhere --and a very important one as well. Thus IMO it should not go to a sub page of this sub page of NPOV, where it may easily be overlooked.
I'll add the proposal that I made in a header, like you did. Harald88 17:38, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

I reverted your no-consensus intrusive change. --Francis Schonken 06:53, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

There is a large consensus that this must be mentioned, see the NPOV page etc; and nobody asked me if I agree with the contents that already are here, some even just pointing to esssays. You don't "own" this article that is here to instruct users, and the need for this information has been established. Thus, please clarify your single-handed objection. Harald88 08:11, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

1) I'll make a link to the essay in the "see also" section (note that your "information suppression" essay met some opposition too);
2) You had deleted one of the most often quoted paragraphs from this guideline, and several other rewritings which were no "consensus".
--Francis Schonken 08:27, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

If you call this aricle an essay, then that's also an essay; however, in Wikipedia language these aren't essays, as they are the result of much discussion and corrections by a number of people. Note that the proposal to make a list of examples into "policy" was also met by oppositon by myself; and that some opposition has been traced to bad faith. Consensus had already been reached months ago on the policy page that this kind of NPOV violation must be mentioned and clarified. Also, please clarify your point 2, and note that this tutorial isn't an offical guideline. And please explain why you had put a sign "{{proposed}}" on the essay of specific examples with which you suggested to merge Information suppression, as that essay is just a list of overly specific (and thus debatable) examples, and I could find no discussion about that.
Most importantly, please provide your reason for deleting this important tutorial piece about Information suppression from the main text of this tutorial. I surely hope that we can avoid a wildgrowth of independent NPOV tutorials! Harald88 14:07, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
Too confusing. I can't follow any of the proposals. Lay them out in an easy to read manner and post them to the appropraite notification venues. Untill then, I support the existing version without changes. Hipocrite - «Talk» 15:53, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
As it's of instruction use only, there is nothing to notify (and who and what was notified about the existing text?). Personally I find FT2's version much too long. I'll copy a condensed version below; it fits well inside or just after the chapter "Space and balance". Harald88 22:41, 8 February 2006 (UTC)
"Instruction" won't be allowed in this guideline, which is a how to-guideline.
"Instruction" is generally rejected, while the wikipedia community has a lot of feeling against instruction creep. The guideline is long enough as it is. Some parts of it might even be condensed. Do you have any suggestions in that sense? (please discuss here before operating, you've gone too rash before!) --Francis Schonken 22:58, 8 February 2006 (UTC)
I dare say that I'm probably less rash than you, since I had patience for two months! And sorry if you are allergic to "instruction": I simply meant helpful info, as different from "policy" (rules that are imposed). This whole manual is for instruction in that way. Dictionary.com, instruction: Imparted knowledge. And indeed, as alternative meaning, giving orders. I'm surprised to see that. But, just as surprisingly, the same misunderstanding is possible with "tutorial": "Something that provides special, often individual instruction". Maybe NPOV-guide, NPOV-advisor" or even "NPOV-help" would be better?!
My intention is to keep things compact too, but without leaving out important things. Of course, the problem is that editors have different opinions about what is important. Because of the variety of editors, it will be hard to make a very short guide that provides in the needs of most Wikipedians. Worse, when things are made overly concise, they tend to be overlooked or misunderstood -- as was shown after "writing for the enemy" was deleted from WP:NPOV. IMO, "POV forks" can be deleted from that page, as it's a minor point (compared to information suppression) that usually automatically sorts itself out in the course of time, while it's also covered in this article (it's double!). What I look at is not just the length of one article, but the total volume of text that is offered to newcomers, and especially the number of different pages and links (too many IMO). Harald88 21:33, 9 February 2006 (UTC)

Information suppression[edit]

A common way of introducing bias is by one-sided selection of information. Information can be cited that supports one view while some important information that opposes it is omitted or even deleted. In this manner, the full range of views on a subject can be unfairly presented or concealed whilst still complying with Wikipedia:Verifiability.

Some examples of how editors may unwittingly or even deliberately present a subject in an unfair way:

  • Biased or selective representation of sources, eg:
    • Explaining why evidence supports one view, but omitting such explanation in support of alternative views.
    • Making one opinion look superior by omitting strong and citable points against it, comparing it instead with low quality arguments for other POV's (strawman tactics).
    • Not allowing one view to "speak for itself", or refactoring its "world-view" into the words of its detractors.
  • Editing as if one given opinion is "right" and therefore other opinions have little substance:
    • Entirely omitting significant citable information in support of a minority view, with the argument that it is claimed to be not credible.
    • Ignoring or deleting significant views, research or information from notable sources that would usually be considered credible and verifiable in Wikipedia terms (this could be done on spurious grounds).
    • Concealing relevant information about sources or sources' credentials that is needed to fairly judge their value.

Thus, verifiability, proper citation and neutral phrasing are necessary but not sufficient to ensure NPOV. It is important that the various views and the subject as a whole are presented in a balanced manner and that each is summarized as if by its proponents to their best ability.

Restored most of the section on information suppression. These are very good points and helpful info. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 15:24, 9 February 2006 (UTC)

Sanity check[edit]

Would it be ok if I were to tag chinese ctities under Category:Taiwan as the goverment of Taiwan (Republic of China) claims to rule mainland china? --Cool CatTalk|@ 09:19, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

  1. Seems like a question you could easily answer for yourself... if not, maybe after reading Wikipedia:NPOV tutorial#Categorisation, and other guidance linked from there.
  2. If still not being able to answer that question for yourself after reading all that, maybe ask your question at wikipedia talk:categorization, or start an RfC (but I think you may assume that the outcome of such RfC would be pretty much predictable - only encouraging you to try to find a sensible answer to your question yourself - if you'd try to find it yourself, I'm convinced the eventual answer will stick better)
--Francis Schonken 09:49, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
You are right the outcome is easy to guess. The result would be that what I am suggesting is nonsense right? I for one would oppose tagging of Beijing under a taiwanieese category. I'll copy this chain to all those pages you mentioned. --Cool CatTalk|@ 08:50, 15 April 2006 (UTC)
From Wikipedia talk:Neutral point of view --Cool CatTalk|@ 08:50, 15 April 2006 (UTC)
Any comments? --Cool CatTalk|@ 08:10, 17 April 2006 (UTC)


Sourced speculation v. Stick to facts[edit]

I wonder if anyone might take a look at the argument in Talk: Adolf Hitler#Goebbels quote from Steigmann-Gall? One party contends that a particuar sentence constitutes an assertion by a secondary source and, as sourced material, must be kept in. The other party contends that the sentence constitutes speculation and, not being based on fact, must be kept out. Apart from a long quote, the contribs (8 or 9) are short and clear (-ish), and raise the issue of how free the WP editor is to separate fact from speculation in a secondary source.--shtove 20:51, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

No sourced material "must" be kept: for instance it would be perfectly acceptable to take the Goebbels quote, attribute the translation of that quote to the Steigmann-Gall book in a footnote, and stop there. As it would be acceptable to take a larger quote from the Steigmann-Gall book, with some of the text surrounding the Goebbels quote, and make a single reference out of it. There's no "imperative" either way from NPOV policies and tutorials.
Note however that the sentence (currently used in the Hitler article), Historian Steigmann-Gall explains his view that what Goebbels meant by "Christianity" was "Catholicism", is not totally OK. I bolded what is wrong with it per [[wikipedia:words to avoid#Point out, note, observe, insist, maintain that, protest [synonyms for "say"]]]. When I read the Steigmann-Gall quote on the talk page, I would conclude this author merely "suggests" that, or even, Steigmann-Gall simply wants to make you believe these Germans didn't know Christianity from Catholicism.
Note also that that sentence with the word "explains" is placed at the wrong place in the paragraph. It is separated from the Goebbels quote by a few sentences about something Speer would have said. Speer also used the word "Chistianity" and not "Catholicism", yet here Steigmann-Gall appears not to remark that something is wrong with the choice of words. Apparently they all used the word "Christianity", which makes Steigmann-Gall's suggestion seem rather queer. But if that is what Steigmann-Gall said, it is what that author said. Everyone reading the passage should be able to make his own conclusions. I'll rewrite it somewhat though, trying to lift the questionable choice of words, and the queer order of the sentences mentioned above. --Francis Schonken 21:57, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Steigmann-Gall's suggestion seems queer to you. So what? He's an expert writing in his field. It would hardly be neutral to decide that he doesn't know what he's talking about, and therefore not include what he says. I note that you put the entire quote in the article, though, and so I'm a bit confused what your point is. Drogo Underburrow 03:27, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
If this is a bar-room brawl, then we've just crashed through the swing-doors and onto the street. By theological analogy on the role of the WP editor: my view is that the editor is immanent (taking decisions that affect the text, beyond grammar and syntax), whereas Drogo Underburrow's view seems to be that the editor is transcendent (staying apart and uninvolved). I chose this talk page to seek views, because the linked article states, stick to the facts. Drogo Underburrow asserts that the only fact the editor should consider is that a relevant statement was made by a reputable source; whereas I think the editor should get involved in sifting fact from speculation within that relevant statement. The Talk: Adolf Hitler#Goebbels quote from Steigmann-Gall example is a good one and might help with the general NPOV debate - but I don't want to drage this talk page into the minutiae of the dispute in question.--shtove 09:22, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Of course Drogo only does that in some cases, whereas in other cases he has no problem in deleting referenced material that doesn't contain such twisting of words. Str1977 (smile back) 23:58, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

How to add the NPOV tag[edit]

I've moved this new point to the bottom of the page, while that's where people will most likely see it

There should be a section in the NPOV article on how to add the POV warning tag. or at least a link to the how to page that has that information. I dont know how to do it so I cant add that. 67.23.60.92 21:48, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Template messages/Disputes is probably what you were looking for.
Whether it is a good idea to have these in the NPOV tutorial (I mean, one would e.g. need some basic understanding of wikipedia's way of addressing disputes when using these) is another question, but I'll try something. --Francis Schonken 09:51, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
Yes that's a practical idea Harald88 18:39, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Recent changes to NPOV_tutorial#Attribution_and_citation[edit]

(See diff.) I think these changes need to be reverted. Wikipedia is not reporting the opinion of the magazine; the magazine is reporting the opinion of many Australians and responsible for the truth/reliability/etc. of this information. Wikipedia editors who read the magazine can then quote the article as the source where they have garnered the information. See also No original research. I'd like to revert straight away since the current text misinforms new editors but I'll hold back for a while pending input from other editors which would be most welcome. AvB ÷ talk 17:33, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Done [2] - I added a small clarification about "citation", while the example was a somewhat unusual format for doing citations. But improve as you think fit. --Francis Schonken 18:14, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Looks good to me! AvB ÷ talk 19:47, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Expert rule vs. Equity rule[edit]

I made some changes (diff) that were reverted. I apologize for doing so without talking first, I hadn't anticipated there being objections.

Currently, the article mentions two rules for how to balance competing viewpoints. For cases of scientific, technical, or social problems, space should be balanced "it should do so in proportion to the credibility of the experts holding the various theses". For cases of morals, religion, faith, and politics, we should list all opinions.

I have run into NPOV disputes involving faith, religion, and morality where one faction in the dispute tries to use the expertise rule to justify having an article which gives one side of the debate a vast majority of the space, and the other side only a small fraction of the space. The thinking is that some religious leaders, like Popes, should be considered as the most credible experts, and that the article should reflects that. My thinking is that such issues are moral/faith debates-- issues of opinon, not expertise. As such, the "in proportion to experts" should not apply, and so long as the moral debate itself is noteworthy, Wikipedia should try to treat all sides equally.

As such, I try to add some language to clarify that the "in proportion of credibility of experts" rule exists for questions of fact, not for questions of moral opinion. In doing so, I wasn't trying to change the policy, only clarify what I _think_ is the intent of the current text.

So... first off, do I understand the policy itself correctly? i.e. should the expertise rule apply to sciencey questions more than opiniony questions? If so, what sort of language can be added to help future editors from misunderstanding it and thinking that religious leaders, as religious experts, should dominate articles.

--Alecmconroy 19:21, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

Similar talks have been going on in waves at wikipedia talk:neutral point of view for several months now, filling quite a few archives. And frankly, I've no idea whether this will result in updating options for WP:NPOV. Some practical considerations regarding your changes:
  • "In these questions of fact, [...]": social problems, also listed in the section where you added this, are not always "questions of fact". Further, one of the manifestations of the discussions at the WP:NPOV page is the status of "pseudoscience": currently treated with a lot of expertise, but not as a "matter of fact". Further, to be noted that wikipedia:scientific point of view is a *rejected* guideline proposal.
  • "In these matters of opinion, we should not try to balance space in proportion to the credibility of the 'experts' holding the various theses.": debatable stance, would indeed further complicate issues if trying to get pseudoscience in the matters of opinion corner (which is heavily rejected by pseudoscience adherents).
  • "Instead, we should strive to treat all opinions neutrally. We should list all points of views, according to their importance [...]" (here I kept the sentence that followed your addition... my bolding illustrates the contradiction you introduced) If, within an article, we treat all points of view according to importance, this is not neutral with regard to these opinions (because we start from the assumption that one opinion is more important than another one), but, in line with WP:NPOV, it is thought that this procedure makes the treatment of the article's topic neutral. This is not the same as saying that when relating about an opinion we try to do that using an as neutral verbiage as possible (which is again in line with WP:NPOV).
  • You added "moral, religious" etc. to the introductory sentence about a politics-related example. I thought this was clear enough as it was. --Francis Schonken 20:47, 17 July 2006 (UTC)
Hmm. interesting feedback-- this is a really complicated issue. :) Well, let me ask: what does "according to their importance" mean? In order of their importance or proportioning space relative to the importance? When should the "in proportions to experts" rule NOT apply, and how can we make this clearer?
The problem right now is that the "in proportion to experts" rule is causing extensive debate about the issue itself. Two sides disagree about an issue of faith/morals. Each side claims their experts are most reliable, and therefore should dominate the article. Then there's ad hominem debates-- whose side has more PhDs, better book reviews, and more worshippers. Then the discussion devolves into the faith/moral debate itself, people think that we can show whose experts are more credible by arguing which side's conclusion is correct. I find myself in the middle trying to argue that it's a matter of faith and we should treat all points of view equally.
That specific debate has gone on to mediation, so edits here won't affect that. But what do we do when someone shows up at any other religious/moral debate and starts using the "Experts" rule to justify unbalanced articles? Seems like we need to do something to make it clearer. Obviously, my specific wording was suboptimal, but is there anything else we can do to make it clearer that when the "in proportion to experts" rule does and does not apply?
--Alecmconroy 21:12, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

For the matter of argument, because that is the way you present it, let's suppose there are two factions each about as big as the other, and both thinking that the credibility of the experts supporting their stance is paramount. Also, for the sake of argument, and while that is the way you present the issue, the credentials of these experts are comparable, then:

  • "in proportion to the credibility of the experts" means: the amounts of space are 50%/50% in the article;
  • "listing all points of views, according to their importance" means *exactly* the same: the amounts of space are 50%/50% in the artcle.

Where's the problem (apart from that in practice it's not completely mathematic of course, but I suppose you get the thrift)?

Maybe, you still got the problem who gets the first go? Then, look at the article name:

  • When you do an article about the Protestant Reformation, it's the Protestant's view that is explained first;
  • When you do an article about the Counter-Reformation, it's the Catholic view that is explained first, etc.

Can't be all that difficult can it? --Francis Schonken 23:04, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

Will you people write a paragraph and sign it please, and then write another paragraph and sign it, please? Its a little confusing. To respond to the issue, I don't believe the policies are written to define what should be done. The intent of policy is clear enough, "Balanced and fair", but how to achieve it, in articles of faith, opinion, in articles such as, "may a government use conscription when not in a declared war", "what minimum age are people old enough to responsibly vote", and especial <gasp> religious areas, in these areas there does not exist clear policy about how to determine "balanced and fair". For example, in Scientology we have editors who consider themselves to be expert critics, really quite knowledgeable in all of the anti-scientology information published. Such people are not accredited (there's no school gives a diploma on that subject), and their idea of balanced and fair is very different than a Scientologist's. I'm sure it must be the same in similar areas of faith and opinion. Do we depend on the amount of "Reliably published" information? How do we determine the most widely held point of view? Policy isn't clearly written so we cast about in various ways. Terryeo 14:49, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

rampant subjectivity[edit]

wikipedia is worthless. did you seriously believe that you wouldn't have problems with "vandalism" when you decided to let anybody who wants to edit something? not everyone's view matters. it is crazy that you dismiss truth just so as not to offend a 1% minority view. I can't count how many times I've seen (and from Americans) that an article is "biased" in favor of the American view. Guess what - compared to America's view, no other country's view matters. It doesn't matter what some lowbrow nobody in Togo or Ghana has to say about world events. They don't even know what a PC is. Let the leaders lead and toss this subjective truth nonsense in the garbage. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 207.69.137.42 (talkcontribs)

When individuals have space and opportunity you find civilization growing and propering. Where you have leaders who use statements like; "we can't let the common person do .. (xyz)", "it doesn't matter what some lowbrow in Ghana says" or similar, there you find a stultified society, a people without future, bigotry and poverty. <He tosses the subjective truth into the garbage>. <He pulls it out again and looks at it> But hey, thanks for posting your POV, 207.69.137.42. Terryeo 14:39, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
It's generally considered bad for Wikipedia to feed the trolls, Terryeo. -- Antaeus Feldspar 16:50, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Status of this page[edit]

What is the status of this page? I would like to see a tag at the top saying what its status is. Is it an essay? A guideline? A policy? A proposed policy or proposed guideline or work-in-progress intended to be a proposed policy or guideline? A page whose status is disputed? Thanks! --Coppertwig 13:51, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

It's a tutorial that is has a priority link from WP:NPOV. Its purpose is to help editors writing NPOV articles without cluttering the policy page (a tutorial can't be policy of course, just as an English course can't be a law). Perhaps it's useful to call it a guideline, but a tutorial is also not exactly a guideline either. What difference does it make? Probably it's useful to tag it as an approved tutorial. Harald88 13:32, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
It can make a difference, in that some editors use "policy" as some sort of weapon. I would imagine Coppertwig has had this experience, with an editor trying to cite this page as "policy", b/c it's linked from a policy page. I'm just guessing, however. Eaglizard 06:30, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

re: Bias in attribution: Mind your nuances[edit]

I have a comment regarding the suggestions about "noted", "explained" and "pointed out": often, these are the precise words needed, but I have seen some editors citing this page as a reason to change otherwise neutral statements. I don't know exactly how to formulate what I mean, but I have a great example in continuation of the main page's. If, for example, Duane Gish had referenced the bible to support his statement, the proper formulation could be

Duane Gish pointed out that the Bible states God created the Earth.

This is objective and pretty easily verifiable fact he's noting: I'm quite confident (without doublechecking) that the Bible does, indeed, state that God created the Earth. The fact that Gish is noting it is his argument; he isn't simply making the argument directly (ie, "Gish noted that God created the Earth"). However, I have seen this transformed into things like

Duane Gish claimed that the Bible states God created the Earth.

This is obviously POV, since a reader unfamiliar with the Bible might assume it doesn't (or at least might not) say that. Besides, "said" gets very old about the umpteenth time you use it... wait... "umpteenth" is in the spell-checker?? Wow. Anyways...

I think this section could be clarified some, demonstrating that some (specifically limited) uses of those three versions of "said" are quite allowable, and sometimes very useful. It's a very subtle point, but there's a difference between directly claiming that something is true and pointing out that another source claims it (even if you only point it out to support your argument). Does anyone agree with me? Eaglizard 06:44, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

Vandalism or intentional?[edit]

The following text looks like it contains some vandalism to me: "Such split can be performed in a POV way, for example by putting everything you don't like in a new article and then giving that article an un-common name, so obfuscating its whereabouts." Would someone please review? Royalbroil 21:15, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

That doesn't look damaged. Perhaps it has been modified in such a way that the grammar isn't perfect anymore.
Better would be perhaps:
"Such split can be performed in a POV way, for example by putting everything you don't like in a new article and then giving that article an un-common name in order to obscure that information."
Harald88 (talk) 12:51, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

CIA "Fact"book POV[edit]

Traditionally, encyclopedias describe the world by dividing it into currently existing nation-states, and featuring the history of the currently dominant ethnic group which rules the nation state. Of course this is a nationalist and sometimes ethno-racist POV. However, WP has uncritically adopted this POV way of describing the world. There are alternate objective, non-POV ways the world could be described, such as economic or cultural regions which transcend nation-state boundaries, but it seems WP gets its marching orders from the CIA. Fourtildas (talk) 07:11, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

…1:44 P.M.E.S.T. THANK YOU WIKIPEDIA FOR ALLOWING ME D.G.DeL-Dorchester Mass TO CONTINUE WITH SOME EFFORT 1:46 p.m.David George DeLancey (talk) 18:49, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

fact selection dispute[edit]

We have an interesting dispute here about which agreed upon facts should be included: Talk:9/11#(subsection to make editing easier) ; fact picking.  — Xiutwel ♫☺♥♪ (speech has the power to bind the absolute) 03:39, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

Contributing as an employee of a corporation[edit]

I work for Microsoft. I like it there and I like the work I do. I have also contributed to Wikipedia from time to time but I have always avoided topics that have anything to do with Microsoft. I figured that I ran the risk of tainting an articles NPOV merely by contributing even if my contribution was nuetral. I fear the IP scanners. I have been thinking about again. I have been reading some of the NPOV articles and I haven't seen this discussed yet. Is it possible for someone, from Microsoft, or Apple, or Starbucks, or Canon, or Oracle, or whatever, to contribute on a subject that touches their company. If so, what is the best way to do that? If not, ok.....writing about rivers is fun too. I would like to hear peoples' thoughts about this. Thanks.

Crackerbelly talk 03:23, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

See WP:COI --Francis Schonken (talk) 04:26, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
COI editing involves contributing to Wikipedia in order to promote your own interests or those of other individuals, companies, or groups. If your edits are not of that kind. i.e. promoting Microsoft or its interests, you can edit related articles with great caution, or better, provide your material in talk for other editor's evaluation. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 05:30, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for the pointer to the COI article. That was helpful. I like the suggestion of contributing to the talk section and then letting someone else decide if the content is worthy of adding to the article. I would rather avoid all appearances of COI. Crackerbelly talk —Preceding comment was added at 04:29, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

One topic[edit]

The introduction to this tutorial makes it sound like it will go through the steps focusing on liberalism, but it only covers the topic a few times. I could reword the introduction to not make it sound like this, but it seems to me that this might be a good idea, that is, making the entire tutorial focus on one (hypothetical) article. It doesn't have to be liberalism. In fact, I'm not sure that that particular topic would fit all the subjects here. Anyone have any ideas on this, and does anyone with more experience with want to do this/willing to change the article? Asmeurer (talkcontribs) 04:15, 28 December 2008 (UTC)

How do I start an NPOV discussion?[edit]

I think there are several significant verifiable facts that dispute the tenor of the subsection "Sexism at King's College" in the article on Rosalind Franklin. I have stated some of these in the most recent posts to the Discussion at this time. How do I start a respectful NPOV discussion? Can I just add a paragraph stating facts I think at variance? Michael P. Barnett (talk) 20:25, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

Look at some examples at WP:NPOVN (the NPOV noticeboard). You just post a section there. However, I suggest you wait a while because you need to get fully organized before raising a matter at a noticeboard (if you start before you are ready, you may get bad reactions, and subsequent clarifications may be ignored because people only have limited time). I need to explain that I have this page on my watchlist and am replying because of that. It is entirely coincidental that I am also the person who replied to you at Talk:Rosalind Franklin#Some details. You should focus on my comment there: should be resolved by investigating what sources actually say. That is what's needed before going further. If no source verifies the sexism claim, the claim can simply be removed. If there are multiple reliable sources, the claim should probably stay. If there is just one source, it's a bit more tricky. It's very unlikely that other sources would bother saying "there was no sexism", but if there are scholarly works on the subject and they do not mention sexism, that may be an argument that the claim is WP:UNDUE. Also, you should think about how the final wording in the section might appear (you might put a draft on the article talk page). If you want to discuss this any further, we should do that at the article talk page. Johnuniq (talk) 03:19, 29 December 2010 (UTC)

Biased writing, the opposite of NPOV[edit]

Let's not say "POV" writing when we mean "biased writing". It's not a good synonym, and it obscures the fact that a huge number of Wikipedia articles are about the clash between various opinions of points of view. See Wikipedia:OPINION for more information. --Uncle Ed (talk) 17:07, 8 June 2011 (UTC)