Wikipedia talk:No original research

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I disagree with the definition of secondary source.
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Minor clarification add "primary"[edit]

Any interpretation of primary source material requires a reliable secondary source for that interpretation. A primary source may only be used on Wikipedia to make straightforward, descriptive statements of facts that can be verified by any educated person with access to the primary source but without further, specialized knowledge.
It's straightforward from the examples (i.e. summarizing a book requires access to the book (primary source), interpreting the book requires a secondary source that interprets the book). The policy is referring to the primary source, not a source of special knowledge . --DHeyward (talk) 03:07, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Interviews clarification[edit]

WP:NOR#defs defines "(in some contexts) interviews" as primary sources. In what contexts would an interview not be a primary source? (talk) 12:58, 28 February 2014 (UTC)

Oh, if you interview the local history professor on the radio and say, "So tomorrow's a big anniversary in history, so why don't you tell our listeners about it?", and he replies, "Sure. Tomorrow is the 400th anniversary of our town being spared destruction during a religious war, because the mayor could really chug wine. Mayor Nusch slept for three days afterwards."
An interview that tells someone's own ideas is primary; one that is basically a talking textbook lesson is not. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:52, 28 February 2014 (UTC)

To qualify as a secondary source, it must contain secondary analysis. From WP:SECONDARY, "A secondary source provides an author's own thinking based on primary sources, generally at least one step removed from an event. It contains an author's interpretation, analysis, or evaluation of the facts, evidence, concepts, and ideas taken from primary sources." For example, a 60 Minutes investigative interview piece would be secondary to the extent that it mixes their own fact-checking, analysis and other content along with subject's own words.
But a 60 Minutes-style interview with some genuine secondary content is pretty rare. When all the questions are just variations on "tell us more about yourself / what you think / what you've done / what you plan to do / something technical / ..." and the only real content is the subject's own words, that is always WP:PRIMARY as regards the interviewee and would not, e.g., be suitable for establishing notability of that individual. (Fundamentally, you can't make yourself notable just by writing more or talking more. Other people have to talk about you.)
But even if an interview is a primary source as regards the interviewee, it might still be an appropriate secondary source for a different topic. For example, an interview with an author of a how-to book on programming would be primary as regards the author but could be secondary regarding the software topics discussed. Msnicki (talk) 17:10, 10 April 2014 (UTC)


(At least to me) WP:OI isn't as clear as it could be.

Currently the central sentence reads as follows:

Original images created by a Wikipedian are not considered original research, so long as they do not illustrate or introduce unpublished ideas or arguments, the core reason behind the NOR policy.

To my judgement, that comes more or less down to the tautology:

Content created by a Wikipedian is not considered original research, so long as it is not original research.

As far as I can see, the same rules apply to adding images (or graphics) to an article, that as well apply to adding text to an article: Created content is most welcome (as in self-made photos/graphics or self-written text), but it has to be verifiable by a published source.

How about changing it to something along the following line, and making it the first in the WP:OI paragraph:

Adding self created content to further the coverage is most welcome at Wikipedia. Content like photos or graphics ("Original Images") created by a Wikipedian are not considered original research, so long as the content is verifiable by a published source.

If there are any exceptions with regards to NOR and images, then they should be spelled out more clearly – at the moment I can not see any exceptions, and in my view the same NOR-rules that apply to text apply to images as well.

My mastery of the English language is not the best, and in addition I am not very good in navigating all the WP rules, so I would ask if someone more knowledgeable could think about this, and make some changes to that paragraph if deemed useful.

I see at least one caveat: There are potentially quite a few original images of places used in Wikipedia (e.g. images from small towns or publicly not accessible places) that are possibly not verifiable by a published source at the moment (e.g. no StreetView coverage). Tony Mach (talk) 12:56, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

I agree for graphics; the problem with the many current graphs is that when challenged in relation to them being original research, creators of graphics frequently refuse to provide sources; so in my view some stricter verifiability criteria for graphs would be very welcome. For photos it is a bit trickier. E.g. a photo of the Statue of liberty is not easily verifiable, nevertheless such a photo would be easily "recreatable"; so perhaps a slightly different phrasing there. Arnoutf (talk) 14:08, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
This text would pretty much ban all photographs. It's not just places. What's your published source for saying that this selfie is actually a picture of you? That this thing on a microscope slide is actually the thing that it looks like? That this picture of something that looks like an apple really is an apple?
Our goal with photos isn't to get something that's verifiably "the thing". It's to get something that shows the reader what the thing looks like. We don't want disputes from AIDS denialists about whether we can find a published reliable source that says this exact picture is a picture of HIV. We just want something that looks like what we're claiming it is. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:07, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

List of American beach volleyball players[edit]

What's your opinion on List of American beach volleyball players... I know very little about beach volleyball, so who decides that this is a list of well known players? Says who? Should it be sent to AfD? Thanks, JMHamo (talk) 16:15, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

Looks fine as a typical list. While I didn't look at all the entries, it appears that they are all notable, American, beach volleyball players. The sourcing is in the respective articles on the individuals. Any entry that doesn't meet the inclusion criteria should be removed.
However, there's a category that it is duplicating. I'm not sure what the consensus is on categories vs lists covering the same topic. --Ronz (talk) 17:06, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

Explaining rejections?[edit]

WP policies like WP:OR are intended to facilitate the presentation of good content and reject mere speculation, or OR. A militant rejection of 'crank' content is necessary because there are many attempting to promulgate their own views, which is unacceptable unless these views also are those of reputable sources.

It is my observation that WP rejections are tending more and more toward overly brief in-line editor comments and a resistance to more complete explanations. I wonder if there is a place in WP policy for a recommended procedure to be followed; a sequence of steps that could direct discussion toward sources and prevent descent into put-downs and arbitration? For example, in the case of rejection of a submission it could be recommended that:

  1. Rejection should be polite;
  2. Rejection should cite the policy that has led to the rejection and supply some indication of what is in violation;
  3. Rejections with an in-line edit should assume that further discussion could go to the talk page, and suggest that possibility;
  4. If a talk-page discussion takes place, the rejecting editor should identify specifically what caused the rejection, and exactly how it contradicts the cited policy; not just blanket-reference the entire contribution, and admonish the contributor to "read the policy".

Possibly these steps are too obvious to require elaboration in WP policies, or perhaps it is felt that these steps are already present in existing policy? Often in-line edit statements strike me as peremptory, and when a contributor requests more information a confrontational atmosphere shows up right at the beginning. Brews ohare (talk) 19:51, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

This may conflict with WP:BOLD, possibly even WP:DR.
It would be nice to see more emphasis given to focusing on content and focusing on the sources (which should be detailed somewhere in our policies/guidelines. --Ronz (talk) 20:51, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
I think that your post covers about 6 much-needed different areas of good behavior, and I don't see any that concern the specifics of this policy; I think that they actually are about a missing policy. North8000 (talk) 21:55, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
PS when you noted that this policy exists for a reason, I thought you were going there (i.e. to note the reason when deleting and not just the policy) but I don't think that you did. Sincer3ely, North8000 (talk) 21:57, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
When an editor has attempted to insert material over multiple articles and not gained consensus for any of them the patience of others wears thin. When policy has been explained to that editor many times but they simply don't listen it wears thinner. When they go to policy discussion groups (this is the third time) to try and win the argument another way it finally goes. Any review of Brew's history on Philosophy articles (and his permanent ban from editing all physics articles) will show the pattern of behaviour. Put simply if you have explained policy and content issues once, but an editor refuses to accept that then short edit summaries are reasonable. When the editor calls an RfC and gets no support but carries on anyway the edit summaries just get shorter and shorter ----Snowded TALK 06:09, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

Snowded doesn't like the process of content development, which is too demanding of his time and intellect, requiring reading and assimilating sources and actually formulating summaries of them. So he has taken the route of claiming my attempts to fix the uncountable gaffes in philosophy articles as a kind of plague rather than a necessary clean-up operation. Brews ohare (talk) 16:11, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

This is a WP:CANVAS violation, and inappropriate use of this forum.
There are some good points in the initial comment [1], but they have nothing to do with WP:OR. --Ronz (talk) 16:26, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
Ronz: I agree about the misuse of this forum to engage in extraneous debate. To get back to work, the proposal is indeed more general than WP:OR although WP:OR is a policy very often invoked in rejections. Can you suggest a better venue for this discussion? Brews ohare (talk) 16:39, 18 March 2014 (UTC).
I already pointed out WP:BOLD and WP:DR, especially noting WP:FOC, which is a part of WP:DR. WP:FOC begins with a link to WP:EP. --Ronz (talk) 18:14, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
Ronz: Thanks for these links. I wonder if you agree with me that these links basically cover the territory, although perhaps an itemized list would add some emphasis? Unfortunately, these policies are not followed, so one has to wonder if it is clarity that is the issue. Brews ohare (talk) 18:24, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
I suggest you choose one of the talk pages to the policies/guidelines listed, and discuss the matters there. --Ronz (talk) 20:32, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
Ronz: I wasn't aware of all the attention to these issues already in the links you provided. I am going to drop the subject, as I'm now persuaded that policy is not the problem on WP; it is the failure to follow policy. Brews ohare (talk) 16:48, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

What do cautions about primary sources mean?[edit]

The policy WP:OR states:

"The prohibition against OR means that all material added to articles must be attributable to a reliable published source, even if not actually attributed."

Later, regarding sources,

"The only way you can show your edit is not original research is to cite a reliable published source that contains the same material"
"In general, the most reliable sources are:
  • peer-reviewed journals
  • books published by university presses
  • university-level textbooks
  • magazines, journals, and books published by respected publishing houses
  • mainstream newspapers"
"Policy: Unless restricted by another policy, primary sources that have been reliably published may be used in Wikipedia; but only with care, because it is easy to misuse them."

Clarification is requested here about the meaning of "used with care" and "misuse". In a conversation with editor Snowded,12 I suggested this phrase "with care" is a caution that it is easy for a WP editor to slip into synthesis not found in the sources, or into statement of the WP editor's personal interpretation. However, any rejection of a presentation of this material is not to be based upon the controversial nature of the subject, but upon any misrepresentation of the sources, for example, by failure to note there is controversy surrounding the subject, or by ignoring some aspects of the subject that should come up."

In short, material that is controversial or rapidly changing is not excluded as OR simply on that basis, so long as accurate presentation of what is contained in reliable published sources is adhered to, and care is taken to present all sides of any controversy.

Does that seem to be what the policy requires? Brews ohare (talk) 22:07, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

In the policy on primary sources the sentence after the one you quote is this: "Any interpretation of primary source material requires a reliable secondary source for that interpretation."
So using primary sources, in particular devising an 'accurate presentation' of them, requires a reliable secondary source or sources. Without a secondary source your presentation might be quite different from another editor's selection and presentation. So any presentation should be based on secondary sources.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 00:02, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
That isn't how I read it Blackburne - I'd write this line as follows:
"Any interpretation of primary source material requires a reliable secondary source for that interpretation."
The 'interpretation' that cannot be made is a WP editor's personal interpretation of what the primary source said, in contrast to what the source itself has to say. That is, I'd take it that only a secondary source is allowed to interpret what a primary source said.
Thanks for bringing up this point for further clarification. Brews ohare (talk) 05:19, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
Selection is interpretation ----Snowded TALK 05:26, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
I'd understand that simply reporting what a primary source says is not 'interpretation' unless it reports the source inaccurately. Of course, an improper selection, like taking a line out of context, can be removed on that basis. Brews ohare (talk) 05:37, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
Brews, if you take (as you have many times) strings of quotes with some minor commentary between them then, aside from the stylistic issues, you have determined which quotes and which authors. Recently you suggested that half a loaf was better than one and that rather deleting your quotes more material should have been added. The role of an encyclopaedia is not as a recording device for notes for people studying the subject, it is to fairly and accurately summarise the field ----Snowded TALK 06:40, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

There is another way of looking at it. Just quoting primary sources is unencyclopaedic. I.e. an article that consists just of a quote, or a list of quotes, is not really an article. Any section similarly consisting just of quotes is not encyclopaedic. Adding text giving the source, e.g. "this is a quote from A" doesn't change that and is redundant as that's what references are for – readers can follow the links to them so there's no need to clutter the article with such attributions. Anything else, such as saying "this source is important", "this source is controversial", "this source is contradicted by this other source" is commentary, and as such must be based on reliable secondary sources or it's original research.

So using just primary sources is either unencyclopaedic or original research. Articles should be based on secondary sources, and once these are used and the article is properly written based on them then there are relatively few uses for primary sources. Quotes when the quote is being discussed. Examples of language when the use of language is being discussed. Plot/chapter summaries for creative works that are the main subject of the article. But actual encyclopaedic content should be based on secondary sources.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 12:30, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

Selection of sources, and deciding which information from sources to include in an article, is not original research, it is source-based research. Source-based research is the method used to write Wikipedia; without it, Wikipedia cannot exist.
The full sentence about misinterpreting primary sources is "All interpretive claims, analyses, or synthetic claims about primary sources must be referenced to a secondary source, rather than to an original analysis of the primary-source material by Wikipedia editors." From this we see that the caution against interpreting primary sources does not apply to the ordinary process of reading: scanning with the words, understanding the meaning of the words with the brain, deciding what is relevant, and restating the meaning in the editor's own words. The caution against interpretation applies to more advanced forms of interpretation, which is described as "original analysis", that is, reaching a conclusion by combining material from various parts of the source, or by comparison of material in the source with material in other sources. Jc3s5h (talk) 13:42, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
The issues raised by Snowded and Blackburne about the use of quotations are a side track: the use of quotes is not the subject here. Brews ohare (talk) 14:54, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
I disagree with you Brews. Quoting is in practice about the only way to fairly use a primary source (as anything else would be interpretation). But providing a long list of quotes is distinctly unencyclopedic; so the quoting discussion is fairly central to the use of primary sources. Arnoutf (talk) 19:15, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
There is no difference in how to properly use a secondary source or primary source. It's just that since primary sources are more apt to be one-sided or promotional, a greater effort must be made to maintain a neutral point of view in the article. The adoption of Arnoutf's understanding would destroy Wikipedia. Jc3s5h (talk) 19:42, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
That's not the policy. As you state it there is almost no difference between them, as secondary sources can be biased and only give one side of an argument. But the policy is clear: "Do not base an entire article on primary sources, and be cautious about basing large passages on them." (emphasis as given). Primary sources should not be used the same way as secondary sources.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 19:51, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
(ec)Well it hasn't destroyed it yet, we normally expect secondary sourcing to validate what is chosen or used as material. Primary sources, with care, can be used to expand that. There is also a major difference, a secondary source is peer reviewed, a wikipedia editor even being careful is not ----Snowded TALK 19:54, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
For purposes of this policy, the no original research policy, there is no difference in how to properly use an individual primary or secondary source. For purposes of the notability policy, there certainly is; that is the most direct reason for not basing an entire article on primary sources. The NPOV policy is apt to make it inadvisable to base long passages on primary sources. But there is no difference in how to properly paraphrase or summarize a source, whether it is primary or secondary.
The statement that secondary sources are peer-reviewed is simply not true as a general statement; some of them are, and some aren't. Likewise, some primary sources are peer-reviewed, and some aren't. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:10, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
Having been through the process from both sides and in both cases there is a very big difference between a peer review for a secondary source and a primary one and it relates to purpose. The purpose of a secondary source is to summarise a field (in the main) which is why we use them. A primary source generally advocates a position within that field. ----Snowded TALK 05:18, 21 March 2014 (UTC)
Quick plug: WP:Secondary does not mean independent and WP:USEPRIMARY cover a lot of important background information on figuring out what a primary source is. (And Jc3s5h understates the case; most peer-reviewed articles are not secondary sources (which are mostly review articles—the names are confusingly similar). WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:20, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
Arnoutf's claim here is wrong. It's also not representative of Arnoutf's practice, because here we see him adding a primary source to an article, without quoting anything. That's not cherry-picked; that's just the last time he edited any article.
We have two main problems with primary sources. One is the person who uses a perfectly decent primary source as a jumping-off point for his "special" theory (e.g., "this source says that pouring oil directly on cancer cells will kill them, so I wrote that petroleum products cure cancer patients"). That's pure OR, and we really want to discourage that. The other is the person who uses a biased/unrepresentative primary source. That's actually a WP:DUE problem, but it's a DUE problem that is far more likely to occur with primary sources than with secondary sources. We really want to discourage that, too.
The net result of these two separate problems is that we really, really want to discourage people from using primary sources, and that's why this section has been phrased so strongly. There have been discussions in the past about splitting this off into its own policy. If it were on a separate page, the fact that "primary = caution" might make more sense. The need for caution is not OR-specific. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:20, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
Two things to this: (1) I was quoting an article in a quality newspaper and not the press release by NS (which would be the primary source here) (2) I never stated quoting was the only way, but it often is the only way to use a primary source when there is potentially disputed information. For undisputed facts there is no difference between type of source (and I have not yet encountered a single editor complaining). I may have phrased my earlier comment somewhat strongly on that account though. Arnoutf (talk) 18:12, 21 March 2014 (UTC)
Most newspaper articles, especially ones that basically regurgitate press releases, are primary sources. See WP:PRIMARYNEWS or the footnotes on the policy. It's not a matter of counting WP:LINKSINACHAIN. The press release is a non-independent primary source; the newspaper article that non-analytically repeats the information in the press release is an independent primary source. (News analysis, which is ignored by this policy, is a secondary source.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:48, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

Regarding editor discretion in selecting primary sources, what really happens (and a common unspoken practice in Wikipedia) is that where there is no objection, it is editor discretion. If I'm writing about a ship and 2 sources give it's length at 827' and the other gives it as 8,270' (a ridiculous number) I'm going to pick one of the two "827'" sources, and nobody is going to drag out the rule saying that that editor discretion was improper. If I start trying to POV an article by saying "polls say" and then inserting and summarizing my cherry picked poll results, someone is going to pull out the primary source rule and remove my material, and rightly so. North8000 (talk) 21:53, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

Editor discretion in using primary sources is limited by WP:OR in a number of ways. The preamble in this policy is:
"Research that consists of collecting and organizing material from existing sources within the provisions of this and other content policies is fundamental to writing an encyclopedia. Best practice is to research the most reliable sources on the topic and summarize what they say in your own words, with each statement in the article attributable to a source that makes that statement explicitly. Source material should be carefully summarized or rephrased without changing its meaning or implication. Take care not to go beyond what is expressed in the sources, or to use them in ways inconsistent with the intention of the source, such as using material out of context. In short, stick to the sources."
As pointed out by Jc3s5h policy says:
"All interpretive claims, analyses, or synthetic claims about primary sources must be referenced to a secondary source, rather than to an original analysis of the primary-source material by Wikipedia editors." (Underline added)
The policy apparently supports the use of primary sources as long as the WP editor doesn't tinker with the gist of the source or add the WP editor's original input. That seems to be contrary to the view that the policy takes the stand that "we really, really want to discourage people from using primary sources" or that "Quoting is in practice about the only way to fairly use a primary source (as anything else would be interpretation)". As Jc3s5h has put it, paraphrasing the policy regarding source-based research:
"the caution against interpreting primary sources does not apply to the ordinary process of reading: scanning with the words, understanding the meaning of the words with the brain, deciding what is relevant, and restating the meaning in the editor's own words."
He adds the remark, which seems quite correct to me, "Selection of sources, and deciding which information from sources to include in an article, is not original research, it is source-based research. Source-based research is the method used to write Wikipedia; without it, Wikipedia cannot exist."
A good deal of the resistance to this policy stems from a reluctance to get involved in the work of writing WP. Clearly, if a contribution is a WP editor's best effort to summarize the sources they are aware of, a criticism of the contribution will engage the critic in discussion of the way sources are presented, and possibly in the introduction of other sources known to the critic. That is going to be a talk-page engagement that editors trained in the brief "one-line edit comment" reversion of crank contributions are unprepared for. A much briefer engagement is feasible if the critic can simply say that nothing but (preferably verbatim) descriptions of primary sources taken from secondary sources are permissible. Brews ohare (talk) 14:04, 21 March 2014 (UTC)
However, as has been observed, WP articles are not intended to be a brief version of those summaries already to be found in secondary sources. A restriction like that would chop most WP articles down to a superfluous and largely out-of-date treatment of most of its topics. Brews ohare (talk) 16:06, 21 March 2014 (UTC)
The Wikipedia system is fuzzier than most imagine, including the rules and definitions of terms. Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes that's a bad thing. In this case I think that the rules and definitions are a bit fuzzy but that they mostly work reasonable well. North8000 (talk) 16:27, 21 March 2014 (UTC)
"a reluctance to get involved in the work of writing WP" please stop imputing motives to other editors simply because they oppose you writing personal essays Brews. It doesn't help ----Snowded TALK 17:33, 21 March 2014 (UTC)
Following the above discussion, I don't see much fuzziness in the portion of this policy under discussion. That is why I wonder about interpretations that conflict with its wording, and straying away from the topic at hand instead of staying on point. I don't see these divergences as a concerted effort, but more as an instinctive reluctance against becoming involved in talk-page development of content that can become extended and tedious, however necessary it is. Brews ohare (talk) 22:44, 21 March 2014 (UTC)

Neutral notification of ongoing discussion at Talk:Bradbury Building[edit]

In lieu of starting a full-blown RfC I would like to invite interested editors to comment on an ongoing discussion between myself and Beyond My Ken at Talk:Bradbury_Building#Popcult_removals_by_alf_laylah_wa_laylah. It's been open for a while and no one else has weighed in. It involves issues related to this policy, so I am dropping this note here.— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 03:40, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

A further exploration of WP:OR policy[edit]

In an earlier thread What do cautions about primary sources mean?, some discussion of a particular form of article structure arose, namely, an article consisting of a narrative supported by citations or quotations. A question needing further examination is whether such an article is OR simply by the very nature of its structure .

Now if a WP editor actually makes some extrapolation or interpretation not actually contained in the cited sources, but the editor's own original contribution, everybody agrees WP rules that out as WP:OR. There is no quarrel about that.

But by virtue of the very structure of such an 'essay' article, some selection of sources has been made, and only a selection of the ideas in these sources have been presented. Thus, by its very structure the presentation involves an assessment by the WP editor, and the issue is whether it is therefore a violation of WP:OR because no WP editor can be allowed to exercise such an independent judgment. Some editors use this argument on Talk pages to say there is no point or purpose in discussing contributions of this kind. That is, because they are OR on the face of it, discussion of any such contribution is a waste of time.

So the issue comes down to whether it is placing too much discretion in the hands of the WP editor to let them (i) select which published works like monographs, anthologies or even journal papers, will be reported upon, and (ii) select which ideas within these works will be reported upon? Do existing policies like WP:Undue and WP:RS provide sufficient safeguards without refusing any article with this structure?

In considering this issue, one might ask two questions (i) Is this strict interpretation of WP:OR the way WP articles are in fact constructed? and (ii) If this standard is applied to existing WP articles, how does that limit what WP can do? Must WP contain only condensed summaries of already published reviews?

Without a clarification of WP policy in this regard, every time a fight arises it will have to be settled by the parties themselves or be taken for adjudication. Of course, adjudication of a what is seen as a content dispute will not happen, and so adjudication will end the dispute by banning one or all parties in one way or another. A clarification of WP:OR is preferable.

A basis for clarification could be the observation by Jc3s5h in the earlier thread. In part the comment is:

"Selection of sources, and deciding which information from sources to include in an article, is not original research, it is source-based research. Source-based research is the method used to write Wikipedia; without it, Wikipedia cannot exist."

Can some such modification to WP:OR be made so it cannot be used to justify deletion of useful material, and to avoid even the discussion of such deletion? Brews ohare (talk) 16:41, 12 April 2014 (UTC)


  • No, not required as this allow for inclusion of inappropriate material that would fail OR or other policies. For example, the inclusion of a minor/insignificant viewpoint connected to the topic that is only covered by a single but otherwise reliable source that would affect the neutral POV of the article or give too much undue weight to that view point; such a inclusion should be removed and further discussion needed to discuss inclusion. (arguable, this was a point of discussion about six months ago here and the answer was still no there). --MASEM (t) 16:50, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
→ Masem: Is your comment that articles of the described structure are not allowed on WP, or is your objection to the wording by Jc3s5h? This wording is intended as a basis for further discussion, not as the exact wording of a modification. Of course, policies like WP:Undue, WP:NPOV, and WP:RS would be observed in a permitted article. Brews ohare (talk) 16:58, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
What Jc3s5h is correct. Your jump of logic from that statement to "this means as long as its sourced it must be kept" is not. --MASEM (t) 17:06, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
No inference that anything sourced should be kept is meant. Any acceptable wording would have to avoid the possibility of that interpretation. But I'm sure that articles structured as described can be limited to avoid endorsing such excesses, aren't you? Quite likely, existing policies like WP:Undue, WP:NPOV, already insure that error won't arise? Brews ohare (talk) 17:21, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
What you are arguing and have argued before is that you feel you should be justified to be able to add material from a reliable source as such to avoid the claim that it is OR and prevent that from being removed even with discussion just because it meets OR. That would prevent other policies like NPOV from being used to remove it. Additionally, there can be additions that would be violations of OR (along the lines of SYNTH) even if they come from reliable sources. You're free to add material to an article but it would be completely improper to say that it cannot be removed if someone feels it violates policy or negatively impacts the article. --MASEM (t) 17:33, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
→ Masem: You seem to want to make this discussion of WP policy a discussion about me. It isn't.
→ The part of your comment that is pertinent to a discussion about policy is your statement that WP:OR should not supersede other policies like WP:NPOV. That is absolutely the case, and such a view is not suggested. Likewise, WP:SYNTH is completely applicable. There is no intention that material should be forced to be retained if it satisfies WP:OR but violates other policies.
→ What is proposed for discussion, is that it should be impossible to use an appeal to WP:OR to deny an article of a specific structure simply because of that particular structure and regardless of its content . That does not suggest any other policies should be ignored. Brews ohare (talk) 18:03, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
  • The underlying issue here is the degree of confidence WP has in the process of contributions by non-experts. Those with little confidence suggest that articles can contain only reports upon sources that come from reviews that in turn report about those sources. Those with more confidence suggest that non-experts can report upon the contents of all kinds of reliable sources so long as they observe certain restraints like WP:NPOV, WP:Undue and WP:RS. This confidence rests in part upon the idea that the deficiencies of non-expert contributions will be corrected in due time by virtue of the many contributors involved, each bringing their particular knowledge and correcting and expanding articles.
How much confidence in the process of correction and expansion involving many non-expert editors do we have? Does it extend to allowing articles structured as a presentation of sourced views so long as the presentation sticks to what the sources say and observes WP policies and guidelines like WP:NPOV, WP:Undue and WP:RS? Or do we have to deny anything that is not a condensed version of an elsewhere published summary account? Brews ohare (talk) 18:25, 12 April 2014 (UTC)

This is yet another reflection on a core point. By a rigorous interpretation of wp:nor, about 80% of Wikipedia violates it. Most of the "80%" "slips through" by two methods:

  1. Most of it is such that it takes a really rigorous interpretation of wp:nor to consider it a violation, and for various reasons that usually doesn't happen.
  2. The rest of it gets by because nobody challenges it. Challenges happen for good reasons (= use of the policy for its intended purpose) and bad reasons (=is-use of the policy, not for bad purposes which are its intended purposes)

The system works better than my post implies, but where it breaks down is in the important minority of cases where wp:nor is being mis-used. I think that some more work to do a little more delineation between extraction/summarization and WP:OR would be a worthy quest. North8000 (talk) 22:55, 12 April 2014 (UTC)

North8000: You may be accurate in saying 80% of WP violates WP:OR when strictly interpreted, which I take as the interpretation disallowing the presentation of sourced views even if the presentation sticks to what the sources say and observes WP policies and guidelines like WP:NPOV, WP:Undue and WP:RS. If that is so, it would seem WP in reality functions as though WP:OR allows the presentation of sourced views so long as the presentation sticks to what the sources say and observes WP policies and guidelines like WP:NPOV, WP:Undue and WP:RS. It would then seem likely that WP:OR should reflect reality and be worded unambiguously as supporting this activity that reflects what actually is going on. However, it seems you might adopt the view that even if WP:OR as it is now does generate heated and unacceptable results on occasion, things aren't so bad: the de facto system works and the problems with the de jure system are infrequent, so let this Rube Goldberg arrangement continue. Let lie the sleeping dogs of policy review, or something like that. What is your stance? Brews ohare (talk) 16:11, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
Actually, North is wrong, but we're making progress in his view: a couple of years ago, he was saying that 90% of it was a violation of NOR. (The rest is direct quotations, copyright violations, and close paraphrasing.) Fortunately for the project, nobody else agrees that writing in one's own words violates even the strictest interpretation of this policy. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:15, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
My view is that of Jc3s5h, which is that WP:OR actually is in support of the presentation of sourced views subject to various policies like WP:Undue and so forth, but unfortunately some editors don't think so. Consequently, the policy wording should make its intent clearer. Brews ohare (talk) 13:28, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
It is disappointing that there is so little discussion here of the misconception of perhaps half of WP editors that the form of ~80% of WP articles violates WP:OR. Brews ohare (talk) 16:51, 17 April 2014 (UTC)
The thing to keep in mind is that we are using "original research" to build articles from a wide cross selection of sources as we are using our personal assessments of what sources are good and what information is important. But, as long as we are only rewording/paraphrasing such sources and reflecting the cross section of information provided by these sources, that is acceptable "original research" and a necessity in building out the encyclopedia as a summary of existing published works.
The problem arises when content that is only present in one or a few sources that, considering all sourcing available, reflect a narrow point that only is covered by these few sources. Inclusion of that point would not be appropriate summation and would likely be evoking originally research and non-neutral POV. This is why just because something may be about a topic and reliably sources may mean it is not appropriate for inclusion on that topic. --MASEM (t) 17:04, 17 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem: If I understand your view, it is that it is OK for an editor to exercise their judgment in selecting a cross- section of sources and paraphrasing their statements under some circumstances, but not always. You go on to suggest a possible case where you feel this process is inadvisable. One can take two different views of this 'drawing of a line'. One view is modifying WP:OR to make clear there are exceptions. A different view, very often adopted when changes in policy come up, is that it is just too difficult to make a change of a general nature, and it is easier to treat each circumstance as a special case of its own.
IMO, there are no circumstances that cause exception to source-based reporting that are not properly covered by other WP policies such as WP:Undue, WP:RS, WP:NPOV. In particular, the example above where a point of view is supported by only one or two sources could fall under WP:Undue, or if the sources are questionable, under WP:RS. If there are conflicting views with sources on opposite sides, WP:NPOV would apply to insist all sides be presented, and WP:Undue would weight the views properly. In these examples, WP:OR plays no role.
If I have presented the matter correctly, WP:OR should be made more emphatic in its support of source-based contributions, and the importance of these other WP policies in policing abuse also should be underscored.
Masem, I wonder if I have understood correctly that you support source-based contributions under most circumstances, subject of course to these other WP policies? I wonder if you would entertain the idea that these other policies are sufficient to prevent abuse of such contributions without appeal to WP:OR? Brews ohare (talk) 03:32, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
No, that's still not true. Let's say I have a topic that has 100 clearly good sources. Perhaps one source mentions point X, and another source mentions counter-point Y, but neither point are brought up in any other source, install with the 98 other sources duplicating the content and approach to the information. Per OR or the idea that we are summarizing what reliable sources say, we would NOT include X or Y, even if covering both meets NPOV, only because these are so minuscule covered that we would not include them. This is a situation NOR is meant to cover. Just because there's a facet that is part of a topic and backed by a reliable source doesn't mean it has to be included. --MASEM (t) 03:43, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem: If of 100 sources only 1 mentions point X, then the other 99 are not pertinent to the discussion of point X and rejection of this point can be based upon WP:Undue. If only 1 other sources mentions X only to oppose it, that means two sources consider this point, but even two sources may not make X interesting enough for inclusion. WP:OR has nothing to with it. The matter is settled by WP:Undue, which would either eliminate mention of X, or reduce its mention to a line. Brews ohare (talk) 04:13, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
UNDUE would apply if a long time is spent dwelling on the the topic, but lets say in the same example that 1 of 100 sources mention X, then even 1 sentence in WP's article on the topic that discusses X, while far from UNDUE, would fail an appropriate summary of sources per OR. Mind you, it's hypothetical, but I can certainly envision scenarios where UNDUE/NPOV wouldn't be evoked but there's still problems including a statement that only comes from one sources out of many. But to put it another way, I do believe there are NOR-based reasons for excluding material that is otherwise sources and would not routinely fail NPOV/UNDUE, as to make your suggested wording a problem. --MASEM (t) 04:44, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Masem: I am confused by your example which begins with topic X mentioned in only 1 source, and then suggests a report of this unique source on WP fails OR because any report on 1 source would fail OR because "it is an inappropriate summary of sources" (plural). Then you continue with an example that is faulty because it summarizes "only 1 source out of many" (more than 1). Can you explain better? Brews ohare (talk) 13:11, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

The idea "articles should be a non-interpretive summary of sources" is based more in OR than NPOV or other policies. For example, say we have some long-dead historical figure, and every reliable and major biographical work gives the same details on the person's life, but one of these (for all purposes reliable) also drops the fact that this figure was gay in a non-POV manner, neither commenting or condemning that fact, and this is nowhere hinted at those other books. Per all policies, but more NOR's realm than others, repeating this fact in our article might be a problem in our article if we only have one source out of many to include that. It is a rare situation but one that I can see being possible. --MASEM (t) 14:41, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
Can the problem be clarified? It might be that the fact is controversial, although that is hard to establish based upon sources, because the postulate is that there is only 1 source that says this. Maybe one is arguing on general grounds that not everyone wants to be identified as gay? That might be a reasonable stance, but as a basis for rejection it does not rely upon WP:OR. Or it might be that the fact is irrelevant, which is not a matter for OR either. I don't think OR says anything about the number of sources available as being a factor to consider in deciding if a statement is OR. In fact WP:RS says "Any material that is challenged or likely to be challenged must be supported by a reliable source."[emphasis added]. That being so, some basis other than OR must be invoked. Brews ohare (talk) 14:57, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem, we agree that it is the domain of OR that "articles should be a non-interpretive summary of sources". I wonder if our agreement can be extended? If a contribution doesn't satisfy this requirement of being non-interpretive, it is OR. But that doesn't mean, I hope you agree, that WP should attempt to adjudicate issues reported in conflicting sources, but only to report the issues. So, if there is only one source making point X, and the editor thinks themselves that the source is wrong, but cannot find any source that contradicts X, the editor can report his opinion that the matter is not settled, but if challenged he will have to retract. Do we agree about this? Brews ohare (talk) 15:10, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
And likewise, if a pertinent point is raised by only 1 source, that can be reported on WP as being a point raised by that source. The summary of this source's view does not constitute endorsement of the point, and it isn't necessary that 100 sources make the same point or discuss the point. At the same time, demonstrating the point is pertinent may be difficult, but again is not related to WP:OR. Brews ohare (talk) 15:18, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
A "pertinent" (in an editor's opinion) point only raised in one of many many reliable sources is probably not as "pertinent" as the editor thinks, as you would think all the other available sources would have considered that point too, and that's where discussion of editors needs to happen to determine if that should be kept or not. --MASEM (t) 17:03, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
I agree. Assuming it is incontrovertible that the source makes point X and no other source does so, establishing the pertinence of the point, as you note, could be problematic. Perhaps if the source is some stellar figure in the field, one could argue that their raising this point is significant. Or, if 100 sources say "not X" and only one says X, I suppose that we might mention a lack of unanimity. But in many cases the little-noticed point won't be worth reporting. However, I hope you agree that the necessary discussion of pertinence does not involve WP:OR. Brews ohare (talk) 17:14, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
No, I think at times it can be an OR issue, in how OR is where the advice that "articles should summarize what reliable sources say". It is in that we need also to be studious to identify reliable sources, identify when they may have typoed, and consider where they may have introduced something that really isn't pertinent to the topic if other sources don't reflect that. --MASEM (t) 17:20, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
I agree that sources should be reliable according to WP:RS. But the goal to "summarize what reliable sources say" doesn't mean we need several sources, only that the source should be reliable. And I agree that one has to establish pertinence somehow. Where many sources bring up a topic, that isn't hard, but as you say, where there are few sources or maybe only one source that reports a view, it will be difficult. But can you point out how WP:OR enters this process? Brews ohare (talk) 17:45, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
I've explained several times, I can't make it clearer; NOR is the framework that helps to describe how we summarize articles both towards avoiding original research and presenting an accurate mirror/summary of what sources say, in considering what the larger bulk of sources give. --MASEM (t) 03:01, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem: I understand you are asserting this role for NOR, and I agree it requires accurate portrayal of what sources say. I don't see in the words of the policy your emphasis on there being a 'bulk of sources'. What in the policy leads you there? Brews ohare (talk) 04:38, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
There's no explicit explaination that you're looking for; I believe it is implicit advice that comes from when we talk about mirroring/summarizing what sources say. If anything the discussion under the essay WP:CHERRYPICKING touches on these elements. --MASEM (t) 05:55, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem: It seems we have reached some agreement that indeed the ~80% of WP's articles that follow the pattern of reporting reliable sources do not contradict WP:OR. If I understand you, the approximately 1/2 of editors who think this format does conflict are applying the zeitgeist of WP as they understand its culture. Is this a satisfactory situation? I actually think the zeitgeist is established as supporting source-directed reporting simply because the vast majority of articles are constructed this way. It seems that WP:OR can be read as supporting this format as well, with the caveat that other policies place strong restrictions upon it, as pointed out in the cherry picking advice you mention. Brews ohare (talk) 20:56, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
While not explicit... our WP:Neutral point of view policy addresses the idea that we should focus on what the "bulk of sources" say. It is implicit in the concept of giving various competing viewpoints DUE WEIGHT. We don't ignore minority views (except for completely fringe)... but we do give more weight to majority views and less weight to minority views (ie, we do favor the views shared by the "bulk of sources"). WP:Verifiability reinforces this point when it notes that verifiability does not guarantee inclusion. While every fact has to be verifiable, we are not required to include every verifiable fact. If only one source says X, then we have to ask how much weight X should be given (and even whether X should be mentioned at all). Blueboar (talk) 14:23, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Going back to the core thing you started this with - that you don't want editors deleting content that is backed by sources under the guise of OR - that's not something that can be set in policy. Well-versed editors that have maintained a page carefully, perhaps through its creation to GA and FA, know what is appropriate or not and they are completely in their right add material that, due to familiarity with the content, doesn't think is appropriate to include under NOR, NPOV, or other reasons. That's where behavior then steps in under BRD that if the newer editor really feels the content should be added, they can start a discussion on the talk page. But just because it is valid and sourced does not given any content "protection" from removal under good faith editing. --MASEM (t) 21:06, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

Masem: As I understand your view, policy does not govern what goes into articles: that is decided by an elite of "well-versed" editors who, by virtue of experience, can accept or reject material that is valid and sourced according simply to their judgment. Everyday editors can plead on talk pages that their material is not only valid and reliably sourced but pertinent, but no argument and no policy overrides the opinion of the elite. You might understand that this is simply not acceptable except to these self-appointed ultimate arbitrators. Brews ohare (talk) 00:32, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
You might also understand that this way of deciding content based upon the judgment of a self- credentialed elite makes a mockery of WP's espoused 'democratic' operation open to contributions by all, experts and mere readers treated alike. Brews ohare (talk) 00:37, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
But that's exactly how WP works. Editors can reject inclusion of material that otherwise may not appear to fail any policy, that is part of the "original research" in deciding how to summarize a topic. If you find information you are adding being removed with no discussion, you start a discussion on the talk page, and if the editors don't seem to say, you can seek a third opinion. But we are not forced to include every relevant sourced fact in articles, period. --MASEM (t) 00:41, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem: That is dictatorship. Rule of men not laws. Backroom shenanigans. Phooey upon it. Brews ohare (talk) 05:16, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
No it's not. We have dispute resolution processes in place to handle the case if you find editors refusing to discuss the matter, but you cannot insist that anything that is sourced that is added to an article must remain in the article either. That's why we're built on consensus so it works both ways for newer and experienced editors. --MASEM (t) 05:42, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Further, I will add that the age and maturity of an article will play into this. An article that's only be around for a week or so shouldn't be so closed off as people add material to it. An article that's been around for 5+ years and has been relatively stable is going to require a higher importance of information to be added to make sense. --MASEM (t) 05:49, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem: I find this portrayal of how WP works to be shocking, and advocacy of it equally shocking. One can always quote Pope's flattery for tyrants: "over forms of government let fools contest, that which is best administered is best" but unfortunately the luck to have good rulers is rare, and a corrupt system tends to perpetuate itself no matter who is running it. Brews ohare (talk) 15:12, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
No, what you are proposing is a form of tyranny. If an editor can add content then disregard consensus, ignore dispute resolution, then they are setting themselves up as above the law, or at least not subject to the rules WP works by. WP could not function that way: it would be an invitation to every crank to add their fringe or poorly supported content then assert it must stay because [their interpretation of] the rules say so. It's precisely because of this we have not only rules but discussions and processes which decide by consensus how they should be applied. Under this system there are no ultimate arbitrators, only other editors.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 15:28, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Blackburne: What I object to is the idea that a cadre of self-important resident editors on a page, or a group of roving mean-spirited dogs, should exercise their own aesthetics and vendettas without regard for policy. And in support of their destructive activities should battle for as much elbow-room as they can find by keeping WP policies as obscure and as full of 'gray areas' as possible, so policy can be bent to their will. The idea that a few so-called 'experienced' editors should have full control over articles regardless of policy, and subject only to ArbCom rulings (that address conduct issues, not content), is ridiculous. So is your uncomprehending misconstruel of my position. Brews ohare (talk) 16:06, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
There is no "cadre" of "self important", "mean spirited", "destructive", or "so called 'experienced'" editors engaged in "battle", "vendettas", etc.. And my contributions are not "idiotic". Please keep it civil and assume good faith at all times.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 16:22, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Blackburne: I hesitate to classify all your contributions as 'idiotic' although your interpretation of my position is certainly in this category. This categorization of your particular impetuous misconception of my position does not, of course, apply to yourself, but only to this unfortunate example text. Perhaps a categorization of your assessment of my views as 'idiotic' is a violation of AGF, but I think that is your extrapolation of a mere identification of poor writing to one of your character assessment. Brews ohare (talk) 16:38, 20 April 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────WP has approached an open style of editing that I would compare to the old USENET days of old where "instant gratification" was not a thing - editors were given the advice to lurk and learn before posting to understand the nature and environment of the various forums, and those that went ahead and posted in a manner not in style of the forum were ignored. Then the Endless September came and the idea that one should be able to get immediate response without understanding the rule came in. WP, at the outset was more like that, but over time, it has gone back (in a good way, IMO) toward the lurk-and-learn mode. If editors want to inset content into an article without learning WP's policies and any past discussions on the article itself, they should not be surprised if it is reverted and/or removed. That's not a "government", that's one way that open forums can be run, nor is it corrupt. All it takes is to understand that "instant gratification" does not work as a concept on WP: if you want to add content and meet with resistance to add it, you have to review appropriate discussions and learn the past issues and then present the case for adding it. --MASEM (t) 15:45, 20 April 2014 (UTC)

Masem: You are now shifting position to say that 'experienced editors' have sway because they understand policy better than neophytes, but the policy ultimately governs. This is a distinction without a difference because it gives the 'priesthood' the authority to 'interpret' policy which, like the bible in some religions, can be best understood by the long-initiated. Any objection raised by the lay WP contributor can be dismissed on the basis that the 'experienced editors' are the ones that really understand policy. The neophyte who quotes policy in their own defense, simply "doesn't understand" the policy, which requires a special "deep" interpretation that is actually impossible to put into words and accessible only to the 'experienced few'. And, by the way, making the policy clear enough for all to understand is inconceivable given the individual nature of cases that require the subtle judgment of the priesthood. That is a whitewash. Brews ohare (talk) 16:06, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Experienced editors are going to understand policy and practice a lot better than newer editors, that should be non-controvertible fact. But I will note that experienced editors can also be wrong - that's why the dispute resolution process exists in case experienced editors are so involved they lost sight of the larger picture. Further, I've seen (presumably) new editors make smart edits that completely fall within policy and past page discussions and are kept or incorporated better, likely having lurked-and-learned before making such edits. It's not that hard to do. But if you expect to jump to a random page without reviewing its history and insert a random edit, you cannot expect it to always be retained. --MASEM (t) 16:31, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem: I agree completely that experienced editors have a better grasp of policy. That does not mean that they can dismiss a neophyte's arguments based upon policy by appeal to their long-time experience, nor can they avoid explaining their decisions that way. Rather, they have to use that experience to explain in terms of the policy wording just how the neophyte has misinterpreted policy, and where possible, policy then should be reworded to avoid a recurrence. That process is entirely different from giving 'experienced editors' a 'get-out-of-jail-free' card.
The notion of using arbitration to correct the excesses of 'experienced editors' is both naive and impractical. It is naive, because arbitration is customarily engaged in by admins with no knowledge of content, and equipped to deal only with conduct issues. It is impractical because clear policies can settle content issues simply by pointing at the pertinent policy and pointing out also what aspect of a contribution contradicts policy. No judgment is necessary, only familiarity with policy. The 'expert' can identify the policy issue the neophyte has broken and make it transparent to the contributor.
There is no expectation of jumping into a random page with a contribution and expecting acceptance where policy is violated. This is a non-issue. Brews ohare (talk) 17:00, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
I will say that an experienced editor that reverts new additions with little explanation, and if asked to explain further, does not provide any reasoning, is a behavioral problem and dealt with if it continues to persist. This is akin to when editors regularly fail to use the edit summary even when asked. But if the editor is never asked why they reverted the addition, there's nothing to be done about that. And our dispute processes have means to deal with content disputes (which ArbCom does not deal with), so to outright reject this processes as impractical is not a valid issue. --MASEM (t) 17:09, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem: I'd agree that it is a behavior issue to refuse to provide a reasoned rejection based upon policy wording and clear identification of how and why rejected material violates policy. And I agree that reliance upon the one-line edit summary is a major source of irritation in this regard.
I do not agree that there exist dispute processes that successfully deal with such disagreements. There is no mechanism to settle content disputes based upon policy violations.
In rough outline, a typical exchange boils down to something like a reversion with the edit summary: Violates WP:OR. Inquiry by the contributor is met with (perhaps in a more wordy manner) Read the policy. Further inquiry is met with (again perhaps more indirectly): Reason given. I don't teach policy. Further attempts are met with the charge of 'tendentious editing" and are taken to ArbCom where the ruling is based upon the many times the contributor has raised the issue, indicating their unwillingness to accept reason. There is no further recourse, and there is no point in traveling this path. Brews ohare (talk) 17:29, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
"I do not agree that there exist dispute processes that successfully deal with such disagreements. There is no mechanism to settle content disputes based upon policy violations." Wrong, we have at least two, assuming that talk page discussions don't help. First is WP:3O which is designed to bring in a third, un-involved editor with experience in policy to review. We also have the RFC process designed to grab more people's attentions. There's also in some cases various noticeboards if the dispute is over, say, BLP information. These mechanics do exist, as outlined at WP:DR, people just don't always remember them. In your hypothetical argument where discussion is started and the editor goes "I'm not here to teach policy", that is just as bad - behavior-wise - as not responding. When I speak of discussion, I mean a reasonably fair addressing of the policy/guideline points that enter into the problem with the content, not hand-waving the argument away. --MASEM (t) 17:38, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem: Thanks for indicating these policies. I have not used WP:3O. I have used the RFC process on many occasions, and that works occasionally where the issue is transparently obvious and no familiarity with the topic is needed to see what is going on. I have gone through the ArbCom process several times, where the best of all possible outcomes usually is refusal of ArbCom to take action, because content issues are not their purpose. Overall, I have not found the remedies work well.
Matters would be greatly improved if policies like WP:OR were made extremely clear, and as our discussion here shows, the idea of source-based contributions leads to a morass of conflicting opinions that should be cleared up. A real mechanism for policy review is needed, and policy talk pages are a poor substitute, hardly ever resulting in any improvement. Brews ohare (talk) 17:49, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
It seems that this discussion is really about the age old conflict between writers and editors (using the word "editor" in its more traditional "publishing" sense). Most Wikipedia participants start off as writers - creating new material. Our more experienced participants, however tend to focus on being editors - pulling out the red pen and marking up the submissions of the writers, in an attempt to improve the work. Writers always think editors have "ruined" their work... but that is to some extent the editor's job. Blueboar (talk) 16:40, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Blueboar: That is not the subject here. It is not about the well-known objection of writers to modification of their stellar prose. It is about censorship based upon personal interpretation of WP:OR that cannot be documented by reference to policy wording, and is instead justified on the basis of 'knowing better', even though there is no policy wording to back up that self-important view of the reverting editor that "Nobody Does It Better" than themselves. Brews ohare (talk) 17:00, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
It is not censorship, that is a stick you need to drop fast. --MASEM (t) 17:41, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem: Sorry, but reversion without justification based upon policy is indeed censorship, not based necessarily upon ideology, but perhaps upon a personal aesthetic for what WP is. Brews ohare (talk) 17:53, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
So, for example, some editors insist upon very terse articles because they don't like nuanced discussions (derided as 'bloating'). Some see WP as reporting only upon well-established topics, and want to avoid areas that are of great interest, but in flux (derided as 'non-encyclopedic'). Others don't like technical explanations, especially where some math is involved (derided as 'symbol soup'). These enforcers of personal taste abuse vague guidelines like WP:OR to justify their censorship, shifting their grounds for objection from one foot to another, taking advantage of the unwieldiness of this policy. Brews ohare (talk) 18:02, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
It is not censorship. You don't have to post at Wikipedia, there's other places that are less strict as to what you can post. Treating it as censorship is absolutely wrong. --MASEM (t) 18:34, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Apparently the word 'censorship' is a red flag. What do you call enforcement of personal standards not based upon WP policy, but upon exploitation of the poor wording of these policies? If my mention of Stephen Hawking's views is reverted in an article on Subject-object problem on the pretext that it is WP:OR, when the actual reason is that his Model-dependent realism disagrees with some editor's view of what constitutes 'philosophy', is that censorship, or what do you want to call it? Brews ohare (talk) 18:43, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
"Editing to community-determined standards", and definitely not censorship. --MASEM (t) 18:46, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
"Editing to community-determined standards", if the 'community' is WP editors, is not necessarily editing according to policy. Some effort would have to be made to determine what is the 'community standard', and it is irrelevant anyway because that need not have anything to do with acceptability of Hawking's views "Editing to community-determined standards", if the community is 'philosophers', also is not editing according to policy. In this case the discussion should revolve around documenting the recognition of 'philosophers' regarding Hawking's views, and that exploration might come under the aegis of WP:Notable (except that policy does not apply to subtopics within an article). But instead, the matter revolves around one opposing editor's opinion based upon nothing but personal aesthetic. That is a form of censorship, although perhaps not CENSORSHIP, I think, especially when WP provides no efficient nor effective way to oppose this kind of action. Brews ohare (talk) 19:09, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Of course, this particular case is only one example of imposing personal aesthetic, and 'bloating', 'non-encyclopedic' and 'symbol soup' are other epithets supposedly supported on the basis of WP:OR. Brews ohare (talk) 19:19, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
There is an abuse issue here, and it is resolved by making WP:OR more explicit and harder to abuse. Brews ohare (talk) 19:33, 20 April 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── What this all boils down to is that WP's "consensus-based editorial control" can reject material from articles for nearly any reason, even one that isn't based on any policy, though by defacto, I would argue that falls under Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information. Just because a fact can be sourced and cited doesn't mean it has to be included, if consensus agrees to that. No absolutely policy has to be given as at the end of the day, we ignore all rules when they improve the article and if the material, despite meeting all core policies, is considered to be disrupting or detracting from the article, it can be removed. It's just a matter of using dispute resolution to gain consensus if needed, and accepting that consensus and dropping the matter if it clearly is not going to accept this material, even if no one can point to any specific policy. There is no abuse issue here when you understand how consensus editorial control works. --MASEM (t) 19:36, 20 April 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for this statement of your views, Masem. Your remark:
"What this all boils down to is that WP's "consensus-based editorial control" can reject material from articles for nearly any reason, even one that isn't based on any policy"
is very clear, and a policy I disagree with entirely. The remark:
"Just because a fact can be sourced and cited doesn't mean it has to be included, if consensus agrees to that."
begins with a statement I agree with entirely, but the condition "if consensus agrees to that" places acceptance upon agreement without necessity for reasons or reasoning. That is not acceptable to me. Likewise, the remark:
"if the material, despite meeting all core policies, is considered to be disrupting or detracting from the article, it can be removed."
in my view places this decision to remove in the realm of the taste of a person or persons without any criterion for deciding who has this kind of power, or what the vague criteria of 'disrupting or distracting' actually means beyond "We don't like this material!". The remark:
"It's just a matter of using dispute resolution to gain consensus if needed"
imagines a process called "dispute resolution", referring to ArbCom or Requests for comment that do not settle matters of content in most cases. The summary statement:
"There is no abuse issue here when you understand how consensus editorial control works."
simply ducks the obvious remedy of policy revision that would result in fewer disputes because they could be immediately resolved, and prefers to rely upon a muddy and demonstrably and documentedly poor process for administering content, one that prevents cooperative development of contributions by engendering, or at least enabling, unnecessary conflicts, largely about nothing but ego-bruising and offending personal aesthetics. Brews ohare (talk) 20:02, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
You are arguing in the same manner that the Arbcom case that was brought against you highlighted. There is nothing to discuss further here, since all the arguments against the style you promote were rejected outright at the Arbcom case, and continuing to try to argue against this will be considered disruptive. Please recognize this is an intractable position about consensus based editing and material can be excluded for every reason. If you cannot edit recognizing that material can be removed and kept out of articles by consensus, then you probably should stay far away from Wikipedia or any other "open" wiki platform. --MASEM (t) 20:10, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem: I agree that we disagree, and it is unfortunate that we cannot find the concepts that would bring us together. However, I don't think the issue is basically intractable, it's just a lack of ideas. Your recommendation to avoid WP are and dragging up ArbCom as somehow related to this difference is simply unwarranted, although frustration can cause such outbursts, I'm sure. You can see from my record on WP that I have contributed many new articles, many diagrams, and made significant additions to many articles, all that despite some long talk page exchanges (some productive, some not). I don't see myself as disruptive, although I recognize I have a devoted following of detractors that Admins seem to love in their desire to make things as simple as possible. Brews ohare (talk) 20:37, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
No, it is intractable. What you want us to be able to do - accept any content that otherwise does not fail any explicit policy irregardless of consensus - simply won't happen because at the end of the day, we ignore all rules to improve the work, which includes exclusion of sourced material by consensus decision. The fact that you can't seem to work the consensus to include the material is simply that, and there's no way policy can be changed to fix that, as long as a core tenant of WP is the open editing nature that WP was built on. --MASEM (t) 20:56, 20 April 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Masem: The issue can become intractable if you force words into my mouth, of course. Nowhere do I suggest the absurdity that anything not contrary to policy must be accepted. No. My suggestion throughout has been that WP:OR should be revised to avoid its misuse. And in particular, that it be revised to make clear that material organized using source-based research is not by its very structure a violation. Also throughout I have emphasized that other considerations apply, most obviously other WP policies.

You have raised a different issue: that is, suppose a proposed contribution satisfies all WP policies. Then what? Must it be accepted? Masem, please note: that is not a question I have raised. In addressing this question, it must first be noted that, by assumption, such a contribution cannot be rejected because of policy violations. That means it satisfies WP:Undue, WP:Fringe, WP:NPOV, WP:RS and of course WP:OR. I may have neglected to mention a few other policies that it satisfies. So the question comes up: just what grounds can be raised for objection? I have mentioned a few: that perhaps the contribution could be more succinct, that perhaps it is overly technical, that perhaps it is a non-encyclopedic topic (Like 'how to sharpen a pencil', maybe?).

If it is recognized that a discussion is not over a policy matter, then it has a different character than one where a violation of policy is argued over. Where policy is an issue, discussion revolves around applicability of the policy. It is clear in a case where policy is not a factor that the matter is entirely one of consensus. I have no issue in such a case with matters being settled this way, with the possible exception of cases where consensus is claimed, but the claim is false. My issue is with arguments over policy.

The subject of this thread has not been the kind of debate where policy violations are not an issue at all. I believe that acrimony over things like that can occur, and quite possibly Masem, in such cases your discussion of consensus makes sense, and those who disagree just have to swallow their differences.

But that is not this discussion. Brews ohare (talk) 03:54, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

There is no misuse of policy when content that is sourced but otherwise a triviality or similar "distraction" to the topic when removed. Again, I can't point to you any specific wording in NOR but it has to be understand that NOR's goal is to tell us to mirror sources and not attempt original research or synthesis. This includes, implicitly, understanding when minor, trivial (but otherwise non-opinionated) facts are only presented in a slim number of sources compare to the rest of the material, as that is forcing an issue that most other sources have deemed unimportant to include in coverage on that topic. So yes, removal of sourced material "per OR" is a perfectly valid reason. Now, whether that material does fit that case, that's a matter of consensus to determine, but it's not an invalid reason, and as such, there's no abuse of policy; at worst, that is a behavioral problem. --MASEM (t) 04:22, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem: I agree that a judgment of 'triviality' is not a misuse of policy. It isn't about policy at all. In particular, NOR has nothing to do with it. I also agree that WP:OR insists that sources be accurately portrayed. However, that has nothing to say about how to decide whether a source engages in triviality.
As you have noted, reliably sourced and reported material can be removed, using considerations entirely apart from policy, such as 'triviality', by arriving at consensus upon 'triviality' following due deliberation. In some circumstances, the reasons why point X was raised by the lone source S might not seem compelling to WP editors, and point X may seem trivial. In other cases, the source might be persuasive enough to convince most of the WP editors that point X is important. The achievement of unanimity on such non-policy issues is not a matter governed by policy.
There is no wording in WP:OR that spells out circumstances for the removal of reliably sourced and reported material just because it appears in only a few sources, nor because it is absent from many other sources. How to persuade WP editors to a consensus upon 'triviality' arguably is an art, and it isn't a substitute to attempt a short-cut using the assertion of a violation of WP:OR nowhere to be found in that policy. Brews ohare (talk) 05:27, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
There is no explicit wording, but as long as it is understood that OR's goal is to mirror was sources say without introducing novel thoughts, then the removal of a neutral, verified but trivial fact that's not well represented by sources and is in-congruent with the rest of the material can be taken to avoid OR as synthesis to advance a position (that this trivial fact is important). Now, you can argue towards consensus to determine how important that piece of trivia might be, but initial removal without any other comment but "It's OR" is not an abuse of policy, nor do we need a change of policy to prevent against that. --MASEM (t) 05:40, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
Yes, "OR's goal is to mirror was sources say without introducing novel thoughts" But "then the removal of a neutral, verified but trivial fact that's not well represented by sources and is in-congruent with the rest of the material can be taken to avoid OR as synthesis to advance a position." Suddenly the discussion is a ping-pong game where 'incongruent' pops up, then 'trivia' and suddenly we arrive at the statement "It's OR" as an complete and acceptable statement for removing material without further explanation and no need to find consensus. You say: "removal without any other comment but "It's OR" is not an abuse of policy". Of course that cursory uninformative slap on the face is an abuse of policy, not only abuse of WP:OR but abuse of WP:CIVIL. Perhaps you can see the incoherence of this presentation, which appears driven by its conclusion rather than arriving at its conclusion by some chain of reasoning. Brews ohare (talk) 15:37, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
No, it's pretty clear by common sense. The insertion of a unbiased fact that comes from a tiny fraction of sources when most of the rest of the facts presented are repeated many times is an indication this "fact" is trivial or insubstantial and including it is not a proper reflection of sources; forcing its inclusion is making the fact seem more important than the sources give it, which is equivalent to synthesis ("this is an important fact that must be presented"); there may be additional reasons like NPOV too, but there's a core NOR to all such removals. We don't have anything explicit become common sense says that content removal along these approaches is right in line with policy, and no one needed that specific advice. And of course, IAR still rules at the end of day. --MASEM (t) 16:30, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
Your suggestions above are an improper invocation of policy in an arena where policy does not apply (namely, evaluating a remark in a reliable source as being 'trivial or insubstantial'), presumably in an effort to circumvent the correct procedure, which is the engineering of consensus over a non-policy issue. Brews ohare (talk) 17:08, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
This is completely in the realm of policy. Summarizing sources per OR does include determining if certain facts are appropriate to include or not. We do not include every sourceable fact related to a topic just because it can be verified, and OR is the mechanism to trim that information down to still provide a representive summary of sources. Removing material on the basis of OR is right in line with policy and doesn't bypass any procedure, given that we allow BOLD edits in the first place. --MASEM (t) 17:16, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem: You are unable to document these claims of yours by pointing out any relevant wording in WP:OR. Brews ohare (talk) 17:57, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
Aside from accuracy in reporting and reliability of the source, WP:OR has nothing more to say regarding the broad term 'appropriateness'. Other aspects in evaluating appropriateness (such as pertinence and significance) are not WP:OR issues, but non-policy issues to be decided by engineering consensus between WP editors. Brews ohare (talk) 18:56, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
Yes it is, you are failing to understand because you can't see explicit language in NOR but it's clearly part of the intent. NOR is about how to summarize sources without introducing novel thought. Citing a fact that only has one source and that is tangent to everything else is not a proper summary. Note that this can cross over with the idea of UNDUE from NPOV, but not always (something that is factual and not pointed would not fall under NPOV, but still can fail being a proper summary per OR). Note that this can also be combining two topics that may apparently be about the same thing but that no sources have made that connection - that's SYNTH. So yes, NOR does have to do with appropriateness of content. No, this isn't spelled out but everyone else on WP gets it as common sense as to what NOR's goal is supposed to be. Removal of sourced content as "failing OR" is completely in line with policy. --MASEM (t) 19:05, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Well Masem, if we have to engage in a discussion of the 'intent' of WP:OR that you read into this policy but is not explicit, we might have as many interpretations as readers of the policy. You say "No, this isn't spelled out but everyone else on WP gets it as common sense as to what NOR's goal is supposed to be." I doubt it, and without actual wording from WP:OR, your group of like-minded 'everyones' have nothing solid. You claim "Citing a fact that only has one source and that is tangent to everything else is not a proper summary." But a proper summary according to WP:OR is one that faithfully mirrors a reliable source. What you want to emphasize is your qualifier that the summary is a point tangent to the topic. Whether that evaluation will prevail is decided by consensus and it is a non-policy issue, because WP:OR cannot determine 'tangency'.

You say "Note that this can also be combining two topics that may apparently be about the same thing but that no sources have made that connection - that's SYNTH." No argument that making connections not made in sources is SYNTH, but that issue is not under discussion. Brews ohare (talk) 19:38, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

The line that applies best is in the lead: "This includes any analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position not advanced by the sources." If a fact (otherwise sourced and utterly non-pointy/biased) is only reported in a tiny fraction of the sources while the rest of the material is readily cross-correlated between the rest of the sources, the insistence to include that fact is against OR, since its the claim that this fact has as much weight as the rest of the cross-correlated sources. --MASEM (t) 21:04, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem: You say: "If a fact (otherwise sourced and utterly non-pointy/biased) is only reported in a tiny fraction of the sources while the rest of the material is readily cross-correlated between the rest of the sources, the insistence to include that fact is against OR, since its the claim that this fact has as much weight as the rest of the cross-correlated sources." This statement is not logical.
Whether a fact found in one source and not in other sources is included or isn't included is a matter of consensus, not policy. Its inclusion doesn't mean that source is more important than the other sources that don't include that fact, just that the fact is important enough to include. Arguments for or against its inclusion are not contained in WP:OR. Such arguments for and against are part of the discussion that leads to the final consensus.
If you were a participant in such a discussion, you could argue against inclusion. You might say, for example, that by including this fact the assembled WP editors were in effect placing their judgment for inclusion ahead of the judgment of those authors who did not include this fact in their books, and that is wrong because published authors should have more respect than WP editors. A counter-argument might be that the sources that don't include the fact are less detailed in their treatments and left it out just to keep things short. Or the argument for inclusion might be that the source including the fact represents more current thinking about the subject. Or the argument might be that the topic under review in the other sources is actually not quite the same, but only similar, and this fact is included in only one source because it has the point of view that makes this fact important. Or the argument might be that the source containing the fact is more familiar with Islamic history, and the other sources are all Christians, .... and on and on. WP:OR does not enter the discussion, which is intended to air points of view and decide which action is favored by the group of WP editors involved.
All these arguments are judgment calls and are settled by consensus. Policy cannot assist with judgment calls. Brews ohare (talk) 21:39, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
"You might say, for example, that by including this fact the assembled WP editors were in effect placing their judgment for inclusion ahead of the judgment of those authors who did not include this fact in their books, and that is wrong because published authors should have more respect than WP editors." Wrong, this is a completely allowable practice. Part of the summary of sources that is required to make encyclopedic articles is this determination, and yes, this means for WP's purposes, the judgement of editors is more important than the judgement of the authors, because we're trying to write a high level narrow summary, not a thoroughly detailed analysis. OR's approach for how to mirror what the sources say is explicit in this fact, in addition to other policies. --MASEM (t) 22:17, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
Example positions that might come up were suggested. No endorsement implied. Brews ohare (talk) 22:19, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
And the point is that those judgement calls are something that our policies on summarizing references (which includes OR), allows us to take steps with. Policy absolutely comes into it. --MASEM (t) 22:27, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
Assertions already made and not backed up. Brews ohare (talk) 03:11, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
Please stop using WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT, and apply common sense that you have been told here and elsewhere over and over again. Editors have the consensus decision to omit information from inclusion from reliable sources, even if no policy can be cited. That is how the wiki works. If you can't accept that and want something more formal, you will not find it or get that at WP. Editorial control via consensus is intractable. --MASEM (t) 03:38, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem: There is no need to throw spitballs here. If you look back, you will see that I have agreed with you several times that editors can by consensus decide to remove material that passes all tests of WP policy. It isn't an issue between us. In addition there is the obvious point that if a removed contribution passes all WP tests of policy, it doesn't matter what those policies say. They are irrelevant and consensus prevails. However, you want to introduce some mysterious role for WP:OR that allows removal of reliable reports on reputable sources without any need for consensus. That role for WP:OR you cannot document, and instead say 'everyone knows that'. Well, I'm not buying that one. Brews ohare (talk) 05:01, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
Again, you are using WP:IDIDNTHEARDTHAT. Remember, I have said that if someone removes material boldly, you are in your right to challenge that and get consensus whether it should be kept or not - that's the dispute resolution process, and you need to accept what comes out from that. And I've explained repeatedly how OR can be used to remove sourced but trivial/off-topic facts from an article, if those facts are tiny tiny footnotes in the bulk of sourcing about the topic; summarizing to avoid OR allows these facts to be ignored. Just because it is about X and sourced to a reliable source does not mean we are required to include that in the article about X. Period. That is the foundations of editorial discretion on WP. --MASEM (t) 05:07, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
Goodbye. Brews ohare (talk) 05:24, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
I don't mean to be abrupt, but we are going in circles here. You are repeatedly suggesting an incorrect version of my position and then arguing against it. It is a dialog between yourself and you. Brews ohare (talk) 14:38, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
Throughout this, you have made two positions relatively clear:
  1. That editors should not be able to remove sourced content by application of OR because OR has no specific language for that. I have pointed out that it is implicit that remove of sourced content is completely fine under OR since the goal is to summarize sources and the discretion of what information to use as to mirror what sources give allows for the remove of trivial or off-topic information that is otherwise given little weight in the bulk of sources. Further, we allow material to be removed for any reason as long as it believed to improve the article. Mind you, you have every right to ask for clarification or dispute that or seek consensus to include, and it is considered incivil for the removing editor to not reply (an editor that does this frequently without discussion may find themselves at RFC/U) but the action itself is standard practice on WP and will not change.
  2. You have stated that you do not believe the editorial judgement of WP editors exceeds the reliability of authors of sources. And again that's been pointed out editorial judgement is considered paramount over what sources give, that's the whole point of editing, to distill all sources to a high-level summary article, meaning that a good deal of information will be lost in that process - still there as references and further reading, but not for inclusion on WP.
These points have been addressed and shown to be things that we fundamentally cannot change due to WP's open nature. --MASEM (t) 14:54, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
Item 1: A hodgepodge of inaccuracies about "my position" and further inaccuracies about the role of WP:OR
Item 2: Complete baloney. Not a statement of mine.
Masem: You believe what you believe and that's it. Brews ohare (talk) 15:06, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
You've been arguing #1 all throughout - that OR should not be a reason to remove material and that you want a policy change to prevent "abuse" and "censorship". For #2 you said: "You might say, for example, that by including this fact the assembled WP editors were in effect placing their judgment for inclusion ahead of the judgment of those authors who did not include this fact in their books, and that is wrong because published authors should have more respect than WP editors." (my emphasis), and that's also how you led this overall section, questioning the editorial choices made by WPians over source material. The goal you want - to make it more difficult for editors to argue for removal of sourced information regardless of how appropriate that information is - is pretty clear from your discussions here. --MASEM (t) 15:15, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────A hypothetical position that might show up on a talk page during the evolution toward consensus. You take this buttonhole out of context and knit a shirt around it. Read this. Brews ohare (talk) 15:20, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

Continuation of thread[edit]

I'm reading that and still coming out with the points in question "A point important to my own thinking raised by Masem is that a contribution that satisfies all policies and guidelines can still be removed from WP by consensus of WP editors, properly arrived at by due deliberation." - you're basically saying that no individual editor can remove material that otherwise meets all apparent policies and guidelines without achieving consensus, and that simply is not a property of WP. The fact we allow BOLD insertion means we also allow BOLD deletion even if the content included is believed by the editor that added it to be properly in lines with policy. The key step is the behavior after the remove - the need to seek consensus to retain or remove that information. But our policies will never change to prevent removal of information once under the good faith assumption of a bold edit. --MASEM (t) 15:35, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
A non-sequitur, I think. Saying that consensus can remove material doesn't suggest a single editor cannot do the same thing. However, as you may know, frequently the removal of material by a single editor leads to a discussion to establish consensus. Once consensus has established the text, it will become difficult to remove it. It looks like you are determined to interpret as far as is possible my every sentence as some kind of opposition to your own views, even if that requires misinterpreting "Red is a color" as saying "Red is the only color." Brews ohare (talk) 15:53, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
No it is not, it is fundamental to this discussion. BOLD allows writing and editing to work both ways - you don't need any consensus to include material in an article, and editors don't need consensus to remove material they feel is inappropriate. (Of course, one can also start discussion for consensus before adding or before removing if they are unsure if that action is appropriate, but there's no requirement here) If we didn't have bold that means every edit would need to be the subject of consensus and that would pretty much kill off the open nature of the wiki. And that's why I've pointed out several times now that one round for inclusion and removal is done, the next step is to seek consensus to determine if that material should be included to avoid edit warring per WP:EW/ WP:BRD, and to engage other dispute resolution processes if there's no obvious consensus forthcoming. And as I've also pointed out before, an editor that removes contributions and is not responsive to explaining why they removed contributions, or has otherwise poor explainations for such removals, will likely find themselves under behavioral review. But our BOLD policy is key to allowing a single editor to remove any addition (that presumably does not have preliminary consensus for inclusion) without seeking consensus for removal and for any reason they deem. That is what you seem to be objecting to, but this is what we allow. --MASEM (t) 16:02, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
Let me put this another way: If you (as a general editor of WP) want the ability to add information to WP without seeking consensus, as outlined at BOLD, you have to accept that those additions can be modified or removed by any other editor for any reason without seeking consensus either. It's a give-and-take agreement. But that process can only happen once until consensus must be sought, and editors that abuse either side of BOLD will be handled as all other behavioral processes. --MASEM (t) 16:24, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
The subject of this thread is not WP:BOLD. I haven't any argument with your remarks about BOLD; they just don't matter here. The subject, to remind you, is the clarification of WP:OR regarding contributions structured as source-based research, particularly to note that such contributions are not by virtue of their very structure violations of WP:OR regardless of their content, but also to emphasize that such contributions are still subject to other WP policies, notably WP:RS, WP:Undue, WP:NPOV, and of course must stick to sources and not violate WP:SYN and must not make claims not reported by the sources.
So, to get back on topic here, you have objected to this proposal by saying, among other things, that no revision is necessary, even though there is clearly a divided opinion about whether contributions of this structure can be ruled as violations simply on the basis of their structure, and independent of their content. You also have suggested some specific circumstances where you would interpret WP:OR as instructing editors to remove such material with no obligation at all to explain their actions further.
Of course, I disagree with both of these ideas of yours. I think we could try to resolve this point by actually quoting the policy, but to avoid that approach you have said that the policy doesn't support you in so many words, but 'everyone knows what it says'. That leaves us with nowhere to go, I'm afraid. Brews ohare (talk) 16:33, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
You need to understand why this is about your edits specifically to understand that how you approach addition and sourcing isn't accepted by the rest of WP, even if no one can point to an explicit piece of policy that says "this is not allowed". I have to bring up the Speed of Light case, because (based on rereading the evidence of the case) there you were trying to push on a point that there were two definitions of speed of light, a claim based on one or two reliable sources material making that claim. The fact that no one else considered that proper is because that is synthesizing a position, that being "it is really important to know there are two definitions of the speed of light" when a near unity of the sources rejected that. That's an OR issue because it is about synthesis even if you are citing material directly. And of course, as you know, your concept was rejected. Similarly, I'm looking at your present contributions at Enaction_(philosophy) and its showing the same problem - you found a few reliable sources that suggest a minor point that seems connected to the topic, but none of the other major sources on the topic make that point. To force that minor point into the article on the sole basis this is factually cited information is a problem with OR; you're using sources to advance a position that is not clearly part of the overall summary of information provided by others. Clearly, the rest of WP gets this fact since you've been shown this approach to sourcing and inclusion does not work, ergo your requested additional and/or change to validate your approach is not going to be added. I can't point to anything in policy to say why because everyone else gets this, without explicit instruction. Remember, policy is not supposed to be prescriptive but descriptive, and right now, it proper describes practice when it comes to adding the type of content you want and when it can be removed. --MASEM (t) 18:28, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
A screed unrelated to the issue pointed out that WP:OR has widely varying interpretations. Brews ohare (talk) 18:49, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
Yes, there might be interpretation differences , and that's what figured out in the consensus discussion after being BOLD added and removed - is the information added truly OR or not (or perhaps another reason). And that's a whole discussion on another level. But, and this is why BOLD is important, there are facets of OR that allow sourced material to be removed if they believe to be synthesizing a position or similar issues, and an editor is absolutely in the right to remove such material under a BOLD claim. Later consensus might reverse that, it might back it up, but you don't need consensus to remove something BOLDly once. --MASEM (t) 18:54, 22 April 2014 (UTC)


Perhaps to the annoyance of some, I will summarize the achievements of this discussion from my point of view. Unfortunately, these achievements to not include a clarification of WP:OR, but they do include a graphic demonstration that as presently written WP:OR is interpreted in vastly different ways.

The original goal was a revision of WP:OR to state unequivocally that contributions structured around source-based research and the accurate portrayal of the contents of reliable sources are not automatically a violation of WP:OR. Not needless to say, contributions with this structure remain subject to other provisions of policy like WP:Undue, WP:NPOV, WP:RS, WP:Fringe and whatever. Some think the policy is unambiguously in support of this conclusion already, and no change in wording is needed. That view is clearly negated by this discussion.

A point important to my own thinking raised by Masem is that a contribution that satisfies all policies and guidelines can still be removed from WP by consensus of WP editors, properly arrived at by due deliberation. Possible objections that may alter or remove a contribution entirely are issues of 'appropriateness' to WP, 'importance' to the topic (including issues like 'relevance' or 'distraction'), 'clarity' of expression, and other matters that are somewhat or sometimes entirely subjective assessments. Such questions of a non-policy or 'extra'-policy nature do not concern applicability of policies (according to the bold-faced assumption of this paragraph), but do involve the persuasiveness needed to engineer a consensus. Obviously, consensus can be mistaken, but if achieved, consensus prevails. Brews ohare (talk) 16:03, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

Consensus and IAR overule nearly all policies at the end of the day. You're asking for putting in language that would harm the process of editing (not writing) on Wikipedia. You need to accept that we don't accept all contributions for a large number of reasons, and the only thing that is damaging is either when editors refuse to engage in discussion to acknowledge why the content is bad, or that they continuously editing in a tenuous manner to try to force that content into the work despite clear consensus against it. There is zero need for policy change here. --MASEM (t) 16:38, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
Clarity of policy obviously avoids disputes over what policy means, and clearly reduction of dispute aids contributing to WP. I see no reason for your remark that "I need to accept that we don't accept all contributions for a large number of reasons", because the summary clearly indicates my awareness of how that occurs. Your screed about "continuously editing in a tenuous manner to try to force ...content into the work despite clear consensus against it" is not pertinent. Brews ohare (talk) 16:51, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
You're aware, but you're not accepting that this is a completely legit process within WP's ruleset. My statement about your motives is extremely clear based on your editing patterns and your past history, which is nearly replicating the Speed of Light Arbcom case - you want to insert material that is irrelevant or otherwise trivial to the topic at hand that a small minority of sources give, and you can't convince the consensus to include it. Continued editing after such has been rejected is called "beat the dead horse". --MASEM (t) 17:23, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem: This page is not about me. You are using this discussion to vent. Brews ohare (talk) 18:08, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
It is about what you want that no one else is asking for, this strange insistence that sourced material must not be removed from articles. This is the same line of reasoning you had here before, the same line of reasoning at the Speed of Light case. If consensus does not want to include material, regardless of how immaculately sourced it is, it can be removed, period. That's a founding principle of the open nature of WP. --MASEM (t) 19:10, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
It's not about me. Paint me black, add fangs, no substitute for cogency. Brews ohare (talk) 19:41, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
It's all about you Brews, you just don't want to work with other editors but instead want license to write whatever takes your fancy as long as a google search can find some references that use a few key words. At attempt to engage you in discussing possible changes to Philosophy of mind, with a potential new articles sees you refuse to engage in any positive way, but simply run off to another article and dump in material you have already had modified or rejected elsewhere. This is a behavioural matter not a policy one ----Snowded TALK 01:58, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
No bearing on this discussion. Brews ohare (talk) 03:08, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
Given this edit which is your reversion (a bad move per BRD) of Snowded's removal of content (acceptable under editorial control) you bolded added (acceptable under BOLD), this is about you. If Snowded or any other editor thinks material added to an article is a problem - for any reason whatsoever - they are free to remove it on the understanding that you are boldly free to add material in the first place. Once that step happens, then you need to open the discussion on the talk page to gain consensus to keep. And this is a repeatable problem - you're not hitting WP:3RR but you're toying with it. You need to accept that there are people that have curated an article and known what can and should not be added. --MASEM (t) 05:23, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
No bearing. If you want to analyze the 'interaction' between Snowded and myself it is more complicated, and this is not the venue. Brews ohare (talk) 14:40, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem summarises it well, the fact that you keep coming here to try and get the rules changed also indicates you understand the issues but have no intention of behaving differently. If you want to make it more complicated I can't stop you but from my perspective this is simply an issue of you not respecting the need for third party sources to assess both relevance and weight. As a result you constantly add in strings of material based on on-line searches and you frequently misunderstand that material as Pfhorest has patiently pointed out to you on Free Will, repeatedly. ----Snowded TALK 14:58, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
Not the venue to argue this matter. I disagree with your appraisal. Brews ohare (talk) 15:07, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
If several people (this is 3 now, 4 perhaps?) say "you're wrong" and these are established editors saying that, perhaps there is something to take to heart about this advice. --MASEM (t) 18:29, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
Masem: You want to divert this policy discussion to some kind of performance review of my editing, and Snowded and Blackburne are happy to assist you where they can, having long standing arguments with me because I have the temerity to doubt their oracular prowess. Please stick to the policy discussion. Brews ohare (talk) 18:56, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
Brews, the list of editors is a lot longer than that and you are deluded in your attribution of motive. I can easily add at least three other editors on Philosophy articles who have lost patience with you after initially trying to help (and I suspect two more will join that list shortly). The issue is your behaviour within the community (not a performance review), in particular your refusal to accept consensus and your constant attempt to shift disputed material to other articles, or create articles when the material is rejected. This creates a lot of unnecessary work. It also repeats exactly the same problem that you had with Physics articles. Personally I think a set of fresh eyes (ideally an experienced admin) reviewing your overall pattern of editing is overdue. ----Snowded TALK 19:03, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

I was looking over this and thinking that this policy is probably the least favorite of people with WP:ASPIE characteristics, and the most favorite of people with a libertarian outlook. It requires every editor to be able to use their best judgment. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:15, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

I hand't thought of citing WP:ASPIE, although it would have been relevant. Good point ----Snowded TALK 19:21, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
I think that in conjunction with BOLD, there's no issues immediately (people can add anything they want), but its the post-process of consensus building and in some cases knowing when to walk away from an argument you can't win becomes important and not so much this specific policy. --MASEM (t) 19:27, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
The post-process of consensus building is the key here. One thing that interferes with it is understanding what is at stake. If the issue is not a policy matter, then all involved know that they are trying to understand each other, not policy, not sources. It helps to know that.
If the issue is policy related, discussion is different. It revolves around applicability of the policy. That is not about agreeing with each other, its not about consensus, its about understanding the policy. If it is misunderstood that what is going on is consensus rather than policy, things go nowhere.
A policy discussion is greatly facilitated by a clear policy that does not lead to arguments over what policy says and what it doesn't say. WP:OR includes too many things in this regard. It would help a lot, I think, if WP:OR were split up into separate policies each dealing with a pinpoint section so attention could focus more narrowly on the issue at stake. For example, a focused WP:SYN would deal only with combining sources to reach a conclusion not in any of them, while a focused WP:OR would refer only to interpreting a source as saying things that it does not say. That way reference to WP:OR would mean something narrow, instead of a huge smorgasbord of issues. Brews ohare (talk) 20:30, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
Consensus discussions is not solely based on policy. This is why IAR exists, because sometimes there are cases that taking what is said or not said in policy is not helpful to the work. --MASEM (t) 00:36, 23 April 2014 (UTC)
Yes, Masem, consensus doesn't concern policy and has nothing to do with WP:IAR except for rules for proper conduct like WP:Civil . Consensus deals with judgment calls, decisions where policy can't help and does not apply. Brews ohare (talk) 01:18, 23 April 2014 (UTC)
Wrong. Consensus is a combination of discussions that involve given weight to policy and guideline arguments, and other input. A consensus can result in a conclusion that is 100% against policy, if the weight of the consensus argument shows that solution is better. Policy and "judgement calls" work hand in hand and are not separate aspects of consensus. Per WP:CONSENSUS: "Here editors try to persuade others, using reasons based in policy, sources, and common sense; they can also suggest alternative solutions or compromises that may satisfy all concerns." Yes policy is important but it's not paramount (safe for a small handful of pages). --MASEM (t) 01:47, 23 April 2014 (UTC)
Yes, you have a better idea here. Brews ohare (talk) 04:03, 23 April 2014 (UTC)

Considering NOR Revision--Debate; Baseball bats and car windows[edit]

I would like to, I suppose you could say, "formally" open up a debate regarding this policy. See, I have found through the years that "published" doesn't necessarily mean "true", and "unpublished" does not necessarily mean "false". There are many facts that are found by people that are never published due to the powers-that-be. If I walk outside and hit a baseball bat against a car window with all my strength, the window will break. This is "original research" but it is just as true as if I find an article that says "New Evidence Found That Hitting Car Windows with Baseball Bats Breaks Them". Please note that the example is very extreme, but listed to make a point. It is an absolute disrespect to someone if they research something and find that doing "x" to "y" on a consistent basis will produce results "z"! In the beginning of Wikipedia, NOR was very meritable and needed; however, Wikipedia has grown since then and so has technology, so we should take this into account. If I research a topic, and video-record the experiment or research done, that source should be treated as NO. LESS. RELIABLE. than a secondary or tertiary source. It is one thing to delete information from someone who claims a statement and cannot back it up--it is an entirely different thing to delete information from someone who claims a statement, then shows proof that what they are saying is indeed true, a simple example of this could even be taken from my earlier statements regarding baseball bats and car windows. I also find that experts should be given due credit in ANY subject area (yes, I have seen WP:EX). It is ludicrous for an 18 year old college freshman to be able to counter the views and findings of a well-learned doctor of 20 years (examples!). Now that being said, we would need to add CRITERIA to be an "expert" we do not wants anymore Essjays, and I don't just mean site "rules". I mean that in order to be an "expert" on here, you would need to 1.) send in a (physical) copy of your degree(s)/certification(s) to our headquarters along with a copy of their birth certificate; 2.) wait for a response from Wikipedia regarding the degree/certification 3.) disclose your real identity to the WMF (not the community) 4.) only claim expertise in the area(s) you sent in for 5.) be willing to list video proof of anything you do regarding your expert-field edits, should they be Original Research 6.) be willing to politely discourse with fellow experts in the subject matter, should they disagree with you and 7.) be willing to answer any challenges by other editors with proper, comprehensible information 8.) be willing to list their credentials on their user page and 9.) be willing to state the number of years experience post-university that they have. At this point, the Arbitration Committee should designate the account with an "Expert in the field of ..." tag that everyone could see.

Example: User:DeltaXpufF wants to be recognized as an expert in the field of medicine research. He must first send a copy of his doctoral degree with his name "Robert Jones" and his birth certificate stating he was born May 7, 1970 to the WMF and wait for their response. He must put on his user page that he studied at Harvard Medical University and is a doctor certified in pharmaceutical medicine. After getting confirming that they have received his information, the Arbitration Committee would designate his account with the medical rod and snake in the top corner of his page (next to where the semi-protected/fully protected locks go) and when someone hovers over this, it will bring up a message stating "DeltaXpufF is an expert in pharmaceutical medicine who studied at Harvard Medical University. This user has 15 years of experience in this field". At this point he would be allowed to make DOCUMENTED original research on topics in his field. So let's say he adds to our Effects of cannabis article that "Cannabis has a strong possibility of curing cancer"; at this point, if he could show a video (or set of videos), uploaded elsewhere stating his name (so we know it is indeed him, not some random person) showing some white lab mice infected with cancer being given cannabinoid treatments and the cancer dying in multiple subjects on multiple occasions, he would have no problem on here.

Why the birth certificate? For age-experience verification. If I have a birth certificate that says I was born in 1987, there is no way that I could have "30 years of experience" in a subject field! Right? I will be adding more to this later, but wanted to open up the debate. Please note, this should be a CIVIL debate, no hostility or bad faith. I want answers, not fights. Thank you! მაLiphradicusEpicusთე 21:39, 17 April 2014 (UTC)

I was unaware that WP had instituted a cadre of certified 'experts' who can throw their expertise at us to avoid the usual WP squabbles. Although I appreciate expertise, I don't have any confidence that a WP panel is capable of determining that someone has it, and I have no confidence that experts (however vetted) outside of their habitat are free from crank opinions.
You seem to argue that WP should admit lab exercises like videos of 'bats breaking windows' as adequate verification for contributions. That strikes me as putting the 'so-called experts' in complete control of WP as they alone could rule that a video was good evidence and that the experiment satisfies professional standards. A video would be more likely to be evidence if the results were vetted in a professional journal where there really are experts on these matters.
Your efforts if adopted might make WP a version of You-Tube, eh? Brews ohare (talk) 14:26, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
The Original Post here is an "interesting" idea that is contrary to the way Wikipedia has been implemented. This falls in a list (which I don't have the acronym for handy) of perennial proposals that will never be implemented. In particular, proposals for editors to document their real-life identities and proposals to establish panels of experts have repeatedly been considered and rejected. Robert McClenon (talk) 14:38, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
It's actually been tried. Except (as this is the only thing that's workable - you can't have two classes of editors) where every editor has to submit their academic résumé under their real name, but it otherwise works like WP. It's called Citizendium and is a spectacular failure. One look at that will convince you it's about the worst idea possible for a free encyclopaedia.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 15:26, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
In practice, Citizendium has abandoned all pretense of relying upon expertise. It's main difference from WP (so far as qualifications is concerned) is that real identities are used for its authors, which has very clearly reduced stupid squalor, unlike WP where editors feel free to indulge their invented avatars without repercussions under cover of anonymity. Brews ohare (talk) 16:04, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
One can debate how successful Citizendium's model has been at maintaining quality - the proliferation of detailed unsceptical articles on e.g. fringe medicine while core articles on real medicine are missing has led it to be labelled a crank magnet – but its a complete failure as an encyclopaedia, in the sense of providing encyclopaedic coverage, largely due to its policies keeping editors away. WP's anyone can edit policy lets in a lot of vandalism but lets in much more in the way of valuable contributions.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 00:02, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
The discussion is wandering. However, the real problem with CZ is not its model, but it was too late, and like AT&T lost out with the integrated circuit, CZ never got off the ground. Instead of patting itself on the back about how great it is, like GM before its debacle, WP should be looking to improve the atmosphere for cooperative contributions. It should be actively trying to improve its policies and learning how to engender article building on talk pages using sources instead of pecking-order aggrandizement among editors and using policies as aids to discussion instead of bludgeons to cut it short. Brews ohare (talk)
I was simply using the "baseball bats and car windows" as an example of what might qualify as "proof" of something (id est if I take a video of me smashing a bat into a window and the window breaks, then I can say that I can "prove" that the window will break if struck [at the right force] with a bat). Now then, my idea is not to give any "expert" power to judge what was and was not cyclopedic. The idea is that their credentials would be listed where other editors could see why they have any kind of above average say in the matter and if they stated something that was Original Research, it would not automatically get thrown out. This would be similar to a Barnstar, except it would be verifiable information (as long as you trust the WMA...and if you don't trust them to provide reliability, then I question your purposes here at Wikipedia). I do apologize if I made it seems like I was referring to giving these people [extra] power! მაLiphradicusEpicusთე 09:04, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
Also, one would not need to reveal their real identity to any of the other editors (a.k.a. the community), only to the people that the information was sent in to.
On the last point that is really unworkable. As soon as an editor said/wrote "I can do this, I'm qualified" then other editors would ask them to prove it, and wouldn't accept vague assertions, only actual evidence. So it would need to be posted publicly. But that's not the main problem, just setting up a cadre of "expert" editors would lead to no end of conflict and bad feeling among those editors unable or unwilling to be approved as experts, finding themselves overruled by experts in content disputes. The only way to avoid conflict would be to require all editors to use their real names and be approved. But we can see how well that's worked at Citizendium, and it would be the end of Wikipedia.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 12:10, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
"It is ludicrous for an 18 year old college freshman to be able to counter the views and findings of a well-learned doctor of 20 years"
That happens all the time in the real world. A mid-career doctor may be relying on what he half-remembers from school two decades before, or may not have had time to read up on the latest research. User:WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:10, 22 April 2014 (UTC)
The whole idea of WP is an experiment to find out if an undifferentiated bunch of amateurs and experts can make an encyclopedia. So far WP is not viewed as a reliable reference, but as a quick lookup to identify a hodge-pudge of aspects that one must verify before relying upon them for any important purpose. This situation could improve if WP had in place a viable plan to evolve. That would focus upon discovering how to make talk pages into places where useful collaboration on contributions occurred. So far, however, talk pages are catch-as-catch-can encounters that often are pointless exchanges of barbs and sarcasm. No evolutionary mechanism exists to drive talk pages toward better functionality by benefit of experience. Brews ohare (talk) 16:49, 23 April 2014 (UTC)
IMO, an aspect of such an evolution is the modification of policies like WP:OR to reduce debate over their applicability and what they mean and how they are to be used. At the moment, it is almost impossible to achieve even small changes in wording in WP policies, and there is no concept of trying things out to see how they work in practice. Clear policies would reduce fruitless argument on talk pages about the use of policies. In the case of WP:OR, it should be broken up into individual policies so reference to a policy is a narrowly focused effort. For instance, WP:SYN could be made a policy separate from WP:OR, WP:OR could be reduced to WP:STICKTOSOURCE, and the extensive description of WP:RS and other policies reduced to See also links without any description of these other policies that can lead to conflict of interpretations. Brews ohare (talk) 17:58, 23 April 2014 (UTC)
The policies work for the majority of editors and they've worked just fine for the last decade. There's no reason to modify them for edge cases, particularly when what is claimed to be wrong is based on a very personal experience and not the broad experience for all editors. --MASEM (t) 18:04, 23 April 2014 (UTC)
On what basis do you think the policies are as good as need be, even if not as good as they could be? Brews ohare (talk) 23:21, 23 April 2014 (UTC)
That's a loaded question. Where do you see Masem claims that " policies are as good as need be"? E.g., just above he wrote "worked just fine", which is not the same. And there is a generic principle in engineering "if it works, don't fix it". Of course it is a tongue-in-cheek rule, but surprizingly useful. As applied to wikipedia, we do know that our policies are not perfect, but they work, and we "fix" them only when a reasonable harm is provable. And of course they will never be "as good as they could be", simply because nobody can know how good they can be. This does not preclude suggestions of improvements nor rejections of the suggestions, nor even beating dead horse :-). Staszek Lem (talk) 01:48, 24 April 2014 (UTC)
Agree wholeheartedly with Staszek Lem. As for your actual suggestion, that policies should be "broken up" it's so vague as to be unactionable. How, exactly? For articles we have BRD but for polices it's normal to propose the actual change first on the talk page. So where's your draft(s) of this proposed breaking up and restructuring, overhaul and rewrite? (for that's what it's be).
But before you start, be advised it's a very bad idea for one simple reason. We don't need multiple policy documents on the same policy WP:OR. The dangers with multiple policies is they get out of sync, so offer contradictory advice, and by each being less comprehensive they are less helpful, with editors more often only reading part of the policy and so not picking up on all of its nuances. Or they read all the documents but think they are separate, so they dispute WP:SYN saying WP:OR doesn't apply as it's a different policy. Except they are the same and so should appear in the same document. Breaking WP:OR up would be massive amount of work for no benefit – it would only make things worse in a number of ways.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 02:11, 24 April 2014 (UTC)
Staszek Lem: Where do I get from Masem that policies are "good as need be"? Well, you say that when Masem says "they've worked just fine for the last decade" that's not the same thing. It's close enough for me. What he is saying is there is no need for change. And as for "fixing them only when a reasonable harm is provable", that is a convoluted way of saying no major change ever will happen. The reason for there being no change is that there is no evaluation process to collect data to properly assess policies, and no mechanism to experiment with changes to see what works better than present policy. (In this connection, I seem to recall that on some pages with particular troubles, editors on those pages have tried to set up something of this kind for those pages, but it was handicapped by having no official support.) The present WP set up is rigid, and however good or bad it may be, it cannot become better.
Blackburne: You misread my suggestion. I suggested that WP:OR be broken up into policies dealing with specific issues, for example, WP:SYN and WP:STICKTOSOURCES could be broken off, and quite possibly tightened up because they aren't part of a huge smogasbord. The confusion you identify is what happens now because reference to a violation of WP:OR is not specific, and in some cases doesn't even refer to any conceivable understanding of "original research".
However, it doesn't matter what the suggestion is. The reaction of you two is not surprising, and shares the general malaise. You exhibit the usual lack of curiosity about keeping WP evolving, and don't see a need for adaptation. Maybe because change is hard, or the path uncertain, who knows why, exactly. Brews ohare (talk) 05:42, 24 April 2014 (UTC)