Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/Archive 13

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Verifiability of WP:Policy Claims

Proposal to include (and in one case use as a replacement) the 'trinity' quote.

Following discussion here, I'm going to propose that we include the following to the lead of each policy. In the case of the NPOV policy, this also includes removing a previous quote on the matter which has been superseded.

In the words of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, "I consider all three of these to be different aspects of the same thing, ultimately. And at the moment, when I think about any examples of apparent tensions between the three, I think the right answer is to follow all three of them or else just leave it out of Wikipedia."

For the sake of clarity, please discuss this on Wikipedia talk:Neutral point of view. --Barberio 18:18, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Does verifiability require that everyone may easily verify?

Does verifiability require that everyone may easily verify? I believe not; I believe that it only requires verifiability in principle. User:NYScholar seems to be arguing otherwise in this edit. Since he refers me to this page, and since I'm not terribly concerned with the particular issue in the particular article, I'm concerned with the principle, I thought I'd bring the matter here.

NYScholar says, "A source has to be verifiable by ALL Wikipedia readers, not just someone who belongs to an organization that has sent out flyers to its members." There are two different statements here. I agree with the second, but not the first. That is, if something can only be verified by members of an organization, that is probably way too narrow (especially because they would, in many cases, be expected to share a particular political view, etc.) but I do not agree that a source has to be verifiable by ALL Wikipedia readers. For example, many readers of the English-language Wikipedia can read only English; many books are not widely available; many documents (legal documents, scientific papers) might be physically available, but beyond most people's ability to read them; etc.

On the specific of a flyer sent to members: this is not, in principle, an unverifiable source, as long as either (1) someone has a copy of the flyer and can make it available in response to queries or (2) some library has it a collection of ephemera. It has roughly the same problems as any other primary source. I would agree that if (for example) the organization denies every having issues such a flyer the matter might require a strong secondary citation saying the the flyer was real but I see no reason to think that possible forgeries are not really more of an issue here than elsewhere. - Jmabel | Talk 00:03, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

I would say that the verifiability requirement means that, in theory, anyone can access the source; i.e., that there are no artificial restrictions, such as membership in an organization, on access. In practice, we recognize that sources vary in their accessibility, so that it might be very inconvenient for many readers to examine a particular source. I think a minimum practical requirement would be that a source is available in at least several widely scattered public places (e.g., major open-access libraries) and in a form accessible to many readers (i.e., not in an extinct language known only to a few scholars). -- Donald Albury(Talk) 03:04, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
I think that with regard to documents published to a small audience like flyers, they are verifiable only insofar as they have been incorporated into some kind of public archive or library which has an index easily accessible to the public. For example, I can go to Stanford University's Web site and search for the locations of documents in particular boxes in the university archives. Then I can go to the archive and file a request for that box so that I can see that document. But if the flyers are only in the hands of various private individuals, it would be difficult for a Wikipedia editor (who is new to the particular subject) to find out which individuals still have a copy of a particular flyer on file. --Coolcaesar 05:13, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

How to handle this case?

Let's say I want to contribute to the article on the Jefferson Nickel. As a reference, I want to cite one of the leading books on Jefferon Nickels; The Jefferson Nickel Analyst by Bernard Nagengast. This book can be purchased by anyone with $25 to spend, and is offered by multiple vendors on the web. This book is held in extremly high regard by the community of Jefferson Nickel collectors, which is however a very small community.

However, despite this being one of the leading books in the field, it is self-published by Mr. Nagengast himself. Additionally, a search of the catalogs of the five largest libraries in the United States (Library of Congress, Havard, Boston Public, Yale, and Chicago Public) show that none of them have this book in their collections.

So, a strict reading of the Verifiability policy would prohibit using this book as a reference, even though it is the leading reference in the field. How should this be addressed? - O^O 18:49, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Sounds like a case of WP:Ignore all rules, as long as your real world example is as nice and clear cut (and noncontroversial) as the hypothetical one you have laid out. On the other hand, if you are looking for an end-around on something other editors have been resisting, ignoring all rules may just lead to an edit war. At worst, consensus will go strongly against you, and the citation will probably be removed. On the other hand, if no one objects, you will have added something of value to Wikipedia. dryguy 20:56, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
WP:Ignore all rules, well, that's a good one I've never seen. My concern is pretty much accurately described in the example above. I've edited in the past on aspects of coin collecting and antique firearms. Much of the best information on these obscure topics is found in obscure references. I don't want edits thrown out just because someone considers them too difficult to verify. What I'd really like to come up with here, however, is a way to subtly tweak the policy to explicitly embrace these cases. - O^O 21:14, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
The rules mention the case of a self-published work by an author well-known in the field. Gimmetrow 21:06, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Ah, it only mentions professional researchers and professional journalists, but I think I see now how to rephrase it. - O^O 21:14, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Please don't change the policy without agreement. Read the lead section. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:28, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
I just checked CalCat, the publicly available WorldCat subset for all California libraries. None have Mr. Nagengast's book, though you're right that it's available from several online vendors including Amazon.com. But it's already hard enough to fact-check stuff available in public libraries and the problem is that no one (who's not a numismatist) has the time or money to buy the Nagengast book and read it.
After some thought, I agree with you that we need an exception to cover such odd situations, but the exception must be narrowly tailored to keep crackpots and lunatics from sneaking their pet projects onto Wikipedia (many crackpots have self-published books advertising their conspiracy theories and the like). It's amazing to follow the Articles for deletion process for a few days and see what kind of weird stuff crops up.
I think the best way to handle this is to allow such obscure and inaccessible sources only if they are described as reliable by at least one reliable published source. Surely if Mr. Nagengast is truly the authority on Jefferson nickels, at least one numismatist will have referred to him as such in a published magazine article somewhere. What does everyone think? --Coolcaesar 21:33, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, in the case of Mr. Nagengast, here is a web-accesible article from CoinWorld magazine which calls this work the "best discussion of full step nickels by date and Mint" [1]. The way I phrased this restriction in my edit is "the work is generally respected or cited by other experts 'in that field". - O^O 22:08, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
The way to handle it is to use common sense and not to bring all these issues to the policy pages in an effort to change the policy. We can't legislate for every conceivable possibility. If someone objects to your use of that source, then you can discuss further, but in the meantime, no one has, so just use your editorial judgment. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:17, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for you opinion. I take your mention of "common sense" to agree that there are times when self-published sources make sense (you can correct my opinion of your meaning if you choose). At the time, however, I prefer to clarify the policy to make it clear that these sources are acceptable under certain conditions. The exception is already there in the "professional researcher" language, it is just a matter of tweaking it. - O^O 22:52, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
If you agree the "professional researcher" language covers your case, then what needs to be changed in the policy? You might want to look at this discussion and others from the archives. Gimmetrow 23:33, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
I believe that clause is meant to cover this case, but the language is not sufficient. Nagengast is neither a "professional researcher" or "professional journalist". I believe he is an engineer by profession. He has written a definitive book on Jefferson Nickels, but it is not his profession. - O^O 00:02, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

There are some self-published sources that you just have to use because they are the only sources. (This is my opinion, not shared in WP policy.) The Jefferson nickel example is one; others are the many self-published books on local history or any number of hobbies upon which the publisher-author is an expert. That's why the rule against self-publication is just plain silly. Sincerely, GeorgeLouis 09:07, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

I have not yet seen an example where this rule has actually prevented someone from using one of these important sources. The idea that there are self-published sources out there which seriously do harm to the neutrality of an article is much more documented. If the source is truly worthwhile it surely can fit one of the exceptions. Let's see a real example where a local history or expert source is being kept from use because of the rule before we tweak it. --Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 10:21, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
Well, how about the one that User:O^O raised at the top of this section? JulesH 12:01, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
I completely agree with dryguy's response to that. I meant an example of someone protesting the use of one of these sources. Evidence that this is actually causing a problem. I am not sure policies should written in a way to cover every possiblity. Doing so just encourages wikilawyers and "Javerts" (do you know what I mean by that?). Perhaps we have already gone to far in that direction to stop now. I am unsure. If you have a proposal for changing the wording, I will certainly look at it with an open mind however.--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 16:29, 10 September 2006 (UTC)
I'm firmly of the opinion that the policies should always reflect how we want the site to be used in all cases. Yes, I know we have Wikipedia:Ignore all rules, which is a policy and could therefore override this policy where they disagree, but frankly the less often we need to resort to that the better.
As to the wording, I've previously advocated inserting "or notable expert" following "professional researcher". I think that would cover this case. JulesH 21:23, 10 September 2006 (UTC)
I would very much like to policies reflect that. However to do so would involve backing the policies off some of details they now have which may not be possible. I am not sure "notable expert" helps anything. An argument could be made that any notable expert would have no need to self-publish their material. But this is all hypothetical which is whay I ask for a real example. I actually tend to dislike that whole sentance. Self-published material should only be accepted when it has been "vouched for" by a reliable source (according to normal rules), with the possible exeption of specialty fields where no traditionaly published sources specific to the field exist. I don't know why we would rule in or rule out any sources based on the author alone. --Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 00:25, 11 September 2006 (UTC)
I disagree with the effort to cover all these things with rules. As several of us were discussing at the recent Seattle meetup, what ever happened to judgment, discretion, and common sense? We are moving toward a straitjacket of rules that, in most cases, do nothing to improve the quality of articles. And this is exacerbated by an approach that tries to deal with everything by "statute", instead of simply having some regard for precedent. - Jmabel | Talk 04:10, 18 September 2006 (UTC), apparently even more on the side of Valjean than Ms. B.

Russian wikipedia community fights for Verifiability and loses

I don't know where to put this notice, but I feel, I need to alert the community. Currently, the voting process on the Russian translation of the Verifiability is underway in the Russian part of Wikipedia. Despite all the arguments for the necessity of this most basic policy, the votes so far are distributed 2:1 (pro:con). I urge all active participants of Russian wiki who are also acive here to take a look at what happens at the voting page and to make their choice. Alexei Kouprianov 20:15, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for letting us know, Alexei. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:50, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Heh ! I've always wondered about Russian thinking. Terryeo 14:46, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

Revert of 01:29, 26 August 2006

Did you even read what the change consisted of before you reverted it? The change did two things. First it inserted a blank line between the explanation of self-published sources and the explanation of the exception. Now, notice that the old language in the first paragraph referred to books, websites and blogs. Move on to the language of the old second paragraph, the phrase "professional researchers blog" doesn't make sense in this context. The proceding paragraph isn't about blogs, it is about a whole gamut of self-published information. So my second change is to replace "information on a professional researcher's blog" with "information in question".

Before:
Anyone can create a website or pay to have a book published, and then claim to be an expert in a certain field. For that reason, self-published books, personal websites, and blogs are largely not acceptable as sources. Exceptions may occur when a well-known, professional researcher in a relevant field, or a well-known professional journalist has produced self-published material. In some cases, these may be acceptable as sources, so long as their work has been previously published by reliable, third-party publications. However, exercise caution: if the information on a professional researcher's blog is really worth reporting, someone else is likely to have done so.
After:
Anyone can create a website or pay to have a book published, and then claim to be an expert in a certain field. For that reason, self-published books, personal websites, and blogs are largely not acceptable as sources.
Exceptions may be when a well-known, professional researcher in a relevant field, or a well-known professional journalist has produced self-published material. In some cases, these may be acceptable as sources, so long as their work has been previously published by credible, third-party news organizations or publications. However, exercise caution: if the information in question is really worth reporting, someone else is likely to have done so.

So, are you objecting to the insertion of the blank line, or are you objecting to the broadening of "information" to include all the types being discussed, instead of just blogs? - O^O 01:49, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

P.S. The change from "credible, third-party news organizations or publications" to "reliable third-party publications" wasn't mine. It is getting pulled in and out depending on where people choose to revert to and edit from. - O^O 02:05, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Please stop playing around. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:19, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
I have no idea what you are talking about, but as long as we are mkaing requests of each other: please stop making reverts without reading and understanding the edit first. - O^O 03:16, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Leave people's names out of headers, and don't mess around with the policy just because you want to make a particular edit to an article. You're causing a problem here and at NOR to no-one's benefit, and I recall you did this once before. You also changed a sentence there that indicated secondary sources were preferred, then pretended not to know the policy had ever said that. Enough already. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:32, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
The header I created in this talk page was accurate as I was addressing Jossi as to his revert. You are of course, free to comment, but you are not the person I was addressing. With regards to you, SlimVirgin, I have tried to assume good faith and to treat you politely, but I do not perceive that you are doing the same. I'm growing tired of you misrepresenting my actions. If you want to discuss the subtleties of NOR then I suggest we either do so there or in our personal talk pages. I don't think anyone will be well served by you pulling a debate there into an unrelated edit here.
I would appreciate it if you would treat me and my edits with more courtesy. Whether it is your intent or not, you are leaving me with the perception that you will immediately revert any change I make to the policy articles without even judging the quality of the edit. You don't expect to have that done to you, and you shouldn't do that to others. - O^O 04:33, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Please WP:POINT? Maybe? Thanks. And maybe going back to edit some good ole' articles rather than policy pages will do us all some good? ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 04:38, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Jossi, I believe my edits serve only to improve the article, and I assure you I am not out to disrupt or make any philosophical point. - O^O 05:13, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
O^O, I'm looking at your contribs, and I don't see much in the way of editing the encyclopedia; the edits I do see are minor. Yet you magically know what the content policies should say and feel you have the right to disrupt the talk pages until you're satisfied, while insisting the volunteers whose time you're wasting should good faith. SlimVirgin (talk)
Thanks for ignoring my requests for civility and choosing another personal attack. Did I attempt to impugn the quality of your edits? Did I accuse you of "magically" knowing what the content policies are? Did I accuse you of disruptive behavior? No, I did none of those things. If you would like to stop wasting both of our valuable time, then I respectful ask again that you stop misrepresenting my actions and treat my edits with respect. Neither you nor Jossi appear to have any true objection to my recent edits that inserted one line of white space, and replaced "information on a professional researcher's blog" with "information in question". If you do object to the edit, then like any Wikipedia editor I welcome constructive comments. If you do not object, then I do not understand your reverts, nor do I even understand why you came here with your "stop playing around" comment. - O^O 05:13, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

That's what I saw too. He added a blank line. So what's the problem? Wjhonson 05:40, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

O^O, I just want you to know that I appreciate your input here and welcome your contributions here on the talk page (after all, that's what its here for.) Your changes to WP:V are constructive and well thought out, and I'm disappointed that those reverting you are not making the effort to state why they think reverting your changes is helping Wikipedia, but are instead trying to sidetrack any discussion of merit by bringing up irrelevant side points. I guess some people think that their "seniority" on a certain page gives them the right to push others around arbitrarily, especially newcomers who might dare to make meaningful contributions without first kowtowing to those who have edited before them. Anyway, I fully support your efforts. Please carry on trying to help Wikipedia, and ignore those who try and bite the newcomers. dryguy 14:19, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

This has nothing to do with biting newcomers. This is related to users with little experience in our project, attempting to change long -standing consensus about specific wording of our core policies. Comments are welcome in talk pages from anyone, including people that just started editing. What is not welcome is editing the policy despite not having consensus. As per what it says at the top of this page: The project page associated with this discussion page is an official policy on Wikipedia. It has wide acceptance among editors and is considered a standard that all users should follow. Before you update the page, make sure that changes you make to this policy really do reflect consensus. 16:54, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
You don't aid the discussion by not saying why you don't agree with the changes. If you were just reverting vandalism without much comment, that would be one thing, but you are reverting the edits of a user who I believe is acting in good faith, and you don't explain why, other than to make vague references to previous consensus. I don't see how consensus will be reached if you can't be bothered to say what it is about the changes that you disagree with. Repeatedly shouting that this page is policy and shouldn't be changed by inexperienced users will not help those users figure out how to contribute in a way that you feel is more beneficial to Wikipedia. dryguy 18:23, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
 :-) Kim Bruning 14:42, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
I partly agree with Dryguy here. What consensus? It seems to me that "consensus" consists of a few editors who are willing to resist change. Did we ever have a discussion on the sentence in question? Where is it? Who agreed to it? Who demurred? How was the consensus formed? Like most policies, I think that what actually happened is that someone wrote it, someone else fiddled with it, and no one has had anything much to say about it till now. Usually, when someone doesn't like something, it's because it doesn't suit some bullshit editwar they have going on somewhere else. They try to make a change to suit and they are resisted by the "guardian" editors. The change may or may not be useful but whatever the truth of that, a fight is bound to ensue. Why? Because the changer clearly is not motivated by a desire to improve the policy but by their own personal thing, and the guardian is not interested in "consensus" (but more in keeping the status quo, which is what they actually mean by it) but is willing to use it as their stick to batter the change out of existence. Neither is in the wrong; most times, neither is right either. Anyway, if Buddha guy wants to make changes, he's been here long enough to know that he'll piss someone like Slim off if he makes them to the policy instead of proposing them on talk, and doubtless he knows that he's likely to be reverted without discussion if he does it. Grace Note 00:58, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

"The policy" 3-point summary

The most problematic in this is #2, which would entail that any editor may remove any material that does not cite a reputable source. This would make it perfectly acceptable under policy, perhaps even encouraged, to remove any wording on any article that does not specifically reference its source. If an editor were to actually follow the supposed policy as it is worded in that summary, they would find their edits all quickly reverted and would probably be blocked for vandalism. The logical consequence of following a policy cannot be a block. There are entire articles that don't have sources, this policy cannot mean that it would be acceptable to blank them. For less drastic situations, this is at odds with the general way in which many articles are developed on a wiki; sometimes sources are not provided for information that is nevertheless obvious or could be referenced by anyone else. Yet, this policy would allow anyone to remove information. There is not a single article on Wikipedia that does not have parts unreferenced. There is not a single addition that does not have at least a minor unreferenced part. As far as I can tell this was part of what was under the guise of a "rewrite" with only 10 days from creation to implementation in January, and it was added despite significant concerns that were expressed on this very matter, Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/Jguk's version. Requiring reputable sources is guideline material, not non-negotiable policy material. —Centrxtalk • 00:00, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Can you point us to where this has been a problem? -- Donald Albury 00:34, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
It is a problem in that it is listed as policy; I did some random articles and K. D. Singh Babu Stadium, Francisco Sanches, Battle of Arica would all have qualified for being blanked if someone had followed this policy. Insofar as we do not see major text removals all the time, it is because people aren't following the advice of this policy. Or, take for example several recent featured articles, Talbot Tagora and Sequence alignment being exceptional candidates for large-scale blanking under the policy as it is currently written. —Centrxtalk • 01:51, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
No, that is not how it works. I do immediately remove edits that are particularly outrageous or that violate WP:LIVING. I hide somewhat less problematic edits, or move them to the talk page for discussion. I also mark unsourced edits with {{cn}}, and remove such edits if citations aren't supplied within a reasonable time (I've been allowing a month or more, in many cases). The system works. You are hypothesizing a problem that doesn't exist. If citation of sources has been requested, and isn't forthcoming, no one is going to be blocked for removing the unsourced edits. -- Donald Albury 02:02, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
As I have mentioned in our previous discussions on related matters, the number of uses of {{cn}}, {{fact}}, etc., is increasing at a rate of 150 articles/day, as was brought up by others on the talk page for Template:fact. In other words, the tags fail to achieve their stated purpose 150 additional times every day. So, no, the system does not work as you claim. At least we can rest assured that there is an upper limit; the tags should level off once 99.6% of Wikipedia is tagged or deleted, since the remaining 0.4% is actually sourced (see below). dryguy 02:43, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Considering that 2,827 new articles were added to the English Wikipedia in the last 24 hours, I would say that 150 additional articles per day with the {{fact}} is way too low. I find it hard to believe that 2,675 of the new articles are all properly sourced. -- Donald Albury 03:02, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
This is not about you. The policy allows all of those new contributions that you say need {{fact}} to just be deleted. Why should the policy allow that? Note that the box does not say "If sources for a dubious statement have been requested but aren't forthcoming, then the statement may be deleted." It doesn't say that they must be commented out or moved to the talk page. It isn't restricted only to outrageous statements or statements in violation of WP:LIVING It allows for any statement to just be deleted summarily, and if someone were to enforce the policy while they were doing Recent changes patrol, for example, they would just be removing a lot of verifiable, but uncited, information, under the full authority of the text of this policy. If someone were to enforce this policy while going through a category or random articles, they would making mass blankings of text. It doesn't matter if that's not what you do, it matters that thousands of people read that box; either they follow what the box says, and may do revert after revert and blanking after blanking, or they don't follow what the box says, and the policy is just a moot fancy that someone made up, but still wrong. —Centrxtalk • 03:41, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Dryguy claimed above, "If an editor were to actually follow the supposed policy as it is worded in that summary, they would find their edits all quickly reverted and would probably be blocked for vandalism." I was pointing out that I do remove unsourced material and no one is complaining about what I do. Everything I do to remove unsourced material is covered in WP:V. And I do not understand what you are trying to say in the second half of your comments above. -- Donald Albury 10:02, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Nope. That was Centrx. dryguy 11:54, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
You are correct. I apologize for the incorrect attribution. -- Donald Albury 12:17, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
To be clear, I'm not referring to the number of times a day {{fact}} is added. Rather, it is the number of additional articles/day that remain tagged. For example, it could be that 151 articles were tagged and one of them was referenced, or that 250 were tagged and 100 were referenced. Either way, the tags are accumulating at a rate of approximately 150/day. Michael Z. has repeated the count more than once and reported it at Template:fact. dryguy 03:29, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Let me be clear. You stated above, "At least we can rest assured that there is an upper limit; the tags should level off once 99.6% of Wikipedia is tagged or deleted, since the remaining 0.4% is actually sourced." That will never happen. As I said, 2,827 new articles were added during the 24-hour period I checked. We can assume that is a typical day's worth of new articles. Looking at my own contributions, about 2 out of 5 new articles I create are redirects or dabs, and thus don't need sourcing. I'll round that up to 1/3 to allow for the possibility I don't create enough redirects. That would give about 1,800 new articles a day that should have sources. AfD deletes less than 100 articles per day. I don't have stats on speedy deletions, but I'll say 200 a day, for the sake of argument. I'll round that off again, to 1,500. That leaves a net increase of about 1,500 new articles a day that require sources. So, the number of articles containing the {{fact}} templates (and its synonyms) is growing at about 10% of the rate of new articles that need to be sourced. Assuming (for the sake of argument) that those trends continue unchanged for the forseeable future, then the number of articles with {{fact}} templates will converge on about 10%. The only crisis I can see in this is that so many articles are not sourced, and the number of such articles is growing by leaps and bounds every day. -- Donald Albury 10:02, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
If an editor challenges material in an article that is not supported by a reliable source, it is the burden of the editor that added that material to provide a reference form a reliable source. I do not see what can be possibly wrong about that. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 00:42, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
People can and do add substantial, verifiable information to articles that would qualify for being summarily reverted under point 2 of "The policy" section, when instead sources to them could have been found. Yes, the person adding the information should have cited their sources, but the fact is that the text has been written, the information is there and is still able to be verified; the proper response to it is to cite the specific sources, and this policy should not be encouraging the removal of perfectly valid information.
It does not serve the purpose of the encyclopedia, and it is not conducive to the way wiki articles are written. We already have the Wikipedia:Reliable sources that says articles should cite reliable sources. This is the foundational policy; the foundational policy is not that all uncited information should be deleted, except in the special case potentially libelous negative information about living persons.
There is, secondarily, also the potential problem of ne'er-do-weels citing this policy as an excuse to delete all sorts of information, and with the policy as it is written now it would be perfectly valid of them to do so. See the several articles noted above. —Centrxtalk • 01:51, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
By following the random articles link in the navbar, I generated the following list of 10 articles: Window period, The Slackers (album), New Zealand National Airways Corporation Flight 441, Cave Hill, Saint Michael, Barbados, Chinchorro mummy, Albert Jacka, Solomon Breuer, Brighton, Michigan, PRIDE 4, MyTravel. Of the 10, only one actually cites any references, namely Solomon Breuer, and it only cites two references. Using MS Word to count the number of lines gives a total of 515 lines for all 10 articles. Most of the lines in my sample contain 1 or more statements of fact, but to keep the math easy, lets estimate 1 fact per line. So, I estimate that > 99.6% of Wikipedia's current content is not supported by reliable sources (100%-2/515*100% = 99.6%). Shall we get busy with our delete keys?
Anyone, anyone, Bueller?
No? When Nature obtained reviews of 42 Wikipedia articles to compare against Encyclopedia Britannica, only 8 major errors of fact were discovered by the reviewers (Nature, 14 Dec 2005). If that data can be applied to any random sample of 10 articles, then, on average, there will be about 2 major errors in a random group of 10. Out of 515 lines, that means about 99.6% of the content is valid. By an ironic twist of fate, that is the same estimate I got for the percentage of material that is unsourced.
I'm very glad that Wikipedia takes the reliability of articles quite seriously, but I also think that WP:V has some major flaws in the current state, as pointed out by Centrx and others before him. It is time for the editors here to start listening to complaints on a good-faith basis and stop with the knee jerk accusations that anyone who comes here has an axe to grind over some change made to their edits. dryguy 01:55, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
To clarify, I mean WP:V the policy page. The principle of verifiability is sound. dryguy 01:59, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm sure that Donald Albury uses this policy correctly and reasonably; most editors do, with most policies; but the present phrasing is in fact abused by cranks. I have seen text removed on the grounds that it says "X's paper says Y" instead of "Y[ftnote]". The actual reason for removal is usually obvious, and never admitted. Rephrasing so to give less encouragement to this sort of thing is probably a good idea. Septentrionalis 16:23, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Citing that a book exists?

Recently at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Philip H. Farber there was an interesting exchange. (The article itself was ultimately deleted, which is OK with me; that's not why I am bringing the issue here.) There is an exchange here between Geoffrey Spear and GBYork in which the latter seems to insist that it is necessary to cite explicitly for the existence of a book: that is, as far as I can understand, that the article should explicitly indicate a library that holds a copy. This seems a bit bizarre to me. I routinely use books as sources; I cite author, title, publishing company, date, and (if possible) ISBN. That is normal citation for a book. I would not consider it a reasonable expectation that I should then need to add another level of citation for the existence of the book. - Jmabel | Talk 03:44, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Probably this falls under WP:Reliable sources. From what I can tell from the discussion, the reliability of the source was in question, as being from a vanity press. It isn't necessary to recursively cite sources to verify the source of every source. That would be an infinite loop! dryguy 03:53, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
The ISBN number in these cases should be requested to ascertain the existence of that book (unless the book was published pre 1970). If the editor adding the cite from that book has the book in his hands, the ISBN number is there in the title page and in the back cover. If he does not have the book, why he is citing from that book in the first place? If the editor is citing from a another cite, he needs to say so in the reference ("as cited in XXXXX"). Citing the ISBN number is great, because the wiki software will automaticaly wikilink it to the ISBN search page where you can use the tools provided to find the book in a public library, amazon.com or other on-line retailers. WP:V at its best. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 04:34, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
And for books without ISBN, here's a trick I once used for an ISBN-less book (see bolded part):

Toffanin, Giuseppe. Machiavelli e il "Tacitismo". La "politica storica" al tempo della Controriforma. (Padua, Draghi, 1921; re-issued Naples, Guida, 1972) The book has no ISBN, but a query for its presence in libraries worldwide can be triggered by clicking this "Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog" link

(from Tacitean studies#References) --Francis Schonken 11:23, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Entirely reasonable responses. One aside, though: "If he does not have the book, why he is citing from that book in the first place?" I've certainly been known to cite from notes I took, sometimes as much as decades ago. Nothing invalid about that, as far as I know. - Jmabel | Talk 15:44, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

That would be OK, as we take edits in good faith. But you need to provide the ISBN or other methods so that others can verify that the cite is indeed correct. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 15:52, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Author and title (and date if editions have varied) should be sufficient, unless they are (very rarely) ambiguous. Septentrionalis 16:26, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

For what it is worth, and that is probably nothing, my entire point was that it does not matter what you "know" to be true, it is what is verified per WP:V by citations in the article that counts. The example happened to be a book, but my point was merely the importance of WP:V. If you look at people's comments, they were not using WP:V to evaluate the article. That was my only point. GBYork 18:19, 31 August 2006 (UTC)


What about papers/books which were published but are now only available in a few libraries, or original source material only available from one site? I came across the first during a discussion about a page (now deleted) about a Canadian author of a book on the Holodomor, and an example of the second can be found here Chindits#_note-7. Of the former there are many special interest groups who hold books/pamphlets on topics which although published had only a small print run, and are now only available in a few libraries world wide, (particularly if they are in a language which does not have a wide distribution). --Philip Baird Shearer 18:26, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Burden of evidence

This seems to push too aggressively for deletion. If 20 seconds with google brings up several good references then it doesn't seem to me that deletion should occur.

It currently reads:

"The burden of evidence lies with the editors who have made an edit or wish an edit to remain. Editors should therefore provide references. If an article topic has no reputable, reliable, third-party sources, Wikipedia should not have an article on that topic."

Which seems to more or less say you can delete absolutely anything that is uncited. This seems too strong.

I'm therefore proposing adding:

"If some part of the wikipedia is uncited it is best practice to quickly check with atleast one major search engine before proceeding further, if it can be cited then it should be wherever possible.

If this fails to provide any strong supporting evidence or if the evidence is equivocal then the burden of evidence lies with the editors who have made an edit or wish an edit to remain. Editors should therefore provide references. If an article topic has no reputable, reliable, third-party sources, Wikipedia should not have an article on that topic." --—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Wolfkeeper (talkcontribs) 16:46, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

No, I think the burden of proof always lies with the person who added the material. Further, per WP:BLP some stuff really should just be removed. Wikipedia isn't a game of gnomic, and I don't think it does argue for deletion. It might argue for the deletion process, but that's just one tool in the box for fixing articles. Hiding Talk 16:58, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

It says very clearly: 'Any edit lacking a source may be removed' and there's a few weasel words about it being nice to be nice to other editors and asking for a cite 'if you want to' but: 'Be careful not to err too far on the side of not upsetting other editors by leaving unsourced information in articles for too long'. Basically, it amounts to you are encouraged to delete anything at any time unless it's cited; and you don't have to check it in any way, nor are you in any way encouraged to do so. So yeah, it does argue for deletion of all unsourced information that has been there for a few weeks.WolfKeeper 17:45, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Put a {{fact}} or {{verify source}} at the end of the passage, and comment on the talk page and wait a couple of days. If the text is not sourced and there is no discussion on the talk page then I think is OK to remove the text if it is incorrect or has a Non-NPOV. --Philip Baird Shearer 18:47, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Yeah. But that's not what the policy currently says you have to do, in fact according to the policy it's ok to make the article more non-NPOV if the text is correct, but uncited.WolfKeeper 19:19, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Above, I wrote a small essay on "What this policy does not mean." Since we seem to return to discussing the minority of editors who use Verification as a sort of gamesmanship, and the fear that the policy as phrased gives cover to unreasonable behavior, perhaps my essay could be used as a starting text for a few words of reassurance and caution.
What this policy does not mean
This policy does not mandate that every trivial statement be footnoted. There are many styles of citation, and for some articles (particularly shorter ones) a simple bibliography may suffice. So long as a reasonably-diligent reader can identify and check a source of all significant statements without undue effort, the requirement of this policy is satisfied.
This policy does not mandate that articles be deleted, unless there is reason to believe consensus that no reliable, third-party sources can be found for the topic, in which case the article does not belong in Wikipedia. Articles that do not conform to Wikipedia policies should be fixed, if possible, rather than deleted.
This policy is not a stick to be used selectively in content wars. Every editor is responsible for policing his or her own conduct, as well as for checking that of others. Helping an editor with opposing views to identify a source he cannot find is consistent with both NPOV and this policy. Deleting an unsourced statement by an opposing editor when one is reasonably certain that a source exists is not consistent with NPOV and is an abuse of this policy.
I think this expresses consensus.Robert A.West (Talk) 22:03, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
OK. So why does the policy not say that? That is the hole in your reasoning. If that's the consensus, then the policy should state the consensus. It does not do so. Comments on the talk page are not policy.WolfKeeper 23:38, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
The distinction between tagging an unsourced statement and deleting it should be whether the editor thinks that a source is likely to be found. If a group of editors agree that a statement can be sourced, but have no source, the proper action is to find a source promptly. It usually is a matter of secondary importance whether the assertion remains in the article during the search.
FWIW. Robert A.West (Talk) 22:03, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Robert, you have hit the nail on the head. (applause) dryguy 23:14, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
I am not sure if I follow your logic. unless there is reason to believe that no reliable, third-party sources can be found for the topic(?) How we go about assessing that, unless a source is found? Shall we start editing on gut feeling? ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 22:17, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
No, we do what we always do, and what fundamentally we must do: use judgment. Take the article on quid pro quo. I found the article lacking sources and with problems of accuracy, clarity and diction. On the other hand, I know that there is such a concept in law, and that it has specific meaning. I tried improving the content, but haven't had time to find decent citations. When I do, I may need to correct the article further. Should I have put the article up on AFD instead? If you put it up on AFD, do I have to drop my real life to find the sources before the debate ends or see it deleted? This is a common type of case, and in practice we do exactly what I said: make a judgment on whether sources are likely to exist.
On the other hand, I simply deleted the reference in Hades (disambiguation) to a planet named Hades and am proposing the redirect for deletion, because I know there is no such thing, and judged that no reliable, third-party sources will ever be found. Should I really have to tag this nonsense first? This sort of thing is normal and proper. Robert A.West (Talk) 22:50, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
I would argue that this applies whe you are challenged on a specific edit. There are thousands of articles in WP without any source, and we do not delete these, are we? But if an editor comes and request sources, and these are not forthcoming, then deleting the offending material is normal and proper as well, as per this policy. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 23:26, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Jossi. There are certain times when an expert can confidently delete something knowing it is so wrong it could never be justified. But most of the time, editors passing by an unsourced claim either add a source they themselves know, or ask if anyone can provide one. This works pretty well and it doesn´t need to be in the policy. The burden of proof is on the person adding the claim but that never means someone else cannot put in a source if they know it, nor does it mean that we don´t give the contributor a chance to add the source. Slrubenstein | Talk 23:33, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree this should be obvious, but people keep coming here and claiming that this policy mandates things it doesn't mandate. Maybe it isn't so obvious and should be stated. As for deleting articles because there is consensus they never can be verified, that happens on AFD all the time. Robert A.West (Talk) 23:40, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
It didn't mandate, it permitted and encouraged the removal of any unsourced information whatsoever. No respectable editor followed it, but that only means a problem with the text of the policy. I have made a minor change that I think improves it significantly and reflects the comments here. —Centrxtalk • 23:53, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Yes, we are in agreement. The issue is that some people prefer to go by the rules, rather than to develop an understanding about the reasons for these rules. Human nature? Rules and policies without common sense and the applicaton of good judgement, do not work, IMO. The result of "no understanding" is more rules and regulations. That is why we should be cautious of instruction creep, and keep our content policies as tight and as simple as possible. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 23:59, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Not only do they come here claiming the policy mandates things it doesn't, they do so when discussing edits in article space. There seem to be a number of editors who believe that WP:V says things that sound close to what is actually said, but with little tweaks that have severe consequences. For example, it seems to be a common misconception that WP:V says all facts must be sourced, period. 2 + 2 = 4? No way mister; source it. Another one is that any unsourced information should be removed. Another set of misconceptions is that WP:V mandates that {{fact}} should be applied to any statement any editor feels is POV, is dubious, or to trivial statements that are unsourced. At Wikipedia_talk:Citing_sources I have posted a couple of lists of articles that have been bombed with tens of {{fact}} tags on each paragraph. dryguy 00:39, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

Note that this is a verifiability policy not a citation policy. That implies that everything is verifiable, not that it is cited.

The removal part says:

Any edit lacking a source may be removed, but some editors may object if you remove material without giving people a chance to provide references.

So perhaps we should write it as:

Any edit that cannot be easily verified may be removed, but some editors may object if you remove material without giving people a chance to provide references.

That implies that you should atleast make a half-hearted attempt to check the facts before removing it, whilst the previous paragraph makes it totally clear that the primary burden of proof lies with the originators of any statement.

Do we have consensus?WolfKeeper 17:27, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

  • Okay, I can see what you're driving at. However, if we are tweaking the sentence, could we perhaps amend the second half to:
  • Any edit that cannot be easily verified may be removed, although it can be considered discourteous to remove text without first giving people a chance to provide references.
I don't have any objections.WolfKeeper 19:14, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
  • The phrase "some editors may object" always felt a little judgemental. Another sug

gestion for consideration would be:

  • Any edit not obviously verifiable may be disputed, although it can be considered discourteous to remove text without first giving people a chance to provide references. Hiding Talk 18:30, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
That seems to imply that everything in the wikipedia has to be obvious, but not everything can be.WolfKeeper 19:14, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
<unread edit conflict with above>No, it doesn't suggest everything has to be obvious,
Well yes, what happens if it's not obvious, but turns out to be easy to verify; like you type it into google and it unexpectedly appears at the top? What does obvious really have to do with it? 'Easily' is defensible, you can always challenge somebody to ask how they checked to see how easily it was to find, and they can go 'I typed x-y-z' into google, and it didn't appear, so atleast it's checkable; whereas obviousness can vary from person to person and people can feign how obvious it was.WolfKeeper 22:02, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
I think the same thing applies to easily verifiable, but this argument feels like it's turning into an argument for the sake of it. Hiding Talk 19:40, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
it says you shouldn't dispute anything obvious.
Something can be obvious and still wrong. Urban legends abound. I really feel you are just muddying the waters with this. Obviously verifiable stuff that cannot be easily verified should be removed!WolfKeeper 22:02, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
I kind of feel your change is muddying the water. Something can be easily verifiable and still be wrong. I'm not sure I can see your reading of obviously verifiable as equating to an urban legend, which would still be easily verifiable. This feels like a semantical argument. Hiding Talk 19:40, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Also note this page is about verifiability, not about verification. We don't require that things actually be verified, but if people can't verify the information then they have the right to dispute the text. The policy in a nutshell is clear on this: "Facts, viewpoints, theories, and arguments may only be included in articles if they have already been published by reliable and reputable sources. Articles should cite these sources whenever possible. Any unsourced material may be challenged and removed." I'm not sure what you mean by things changing sometimes. Hiding Talk 19:23, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

  • Um, you seem to have edited one of your messages so that this bit doesn't appear to address anything. Hiding Talk 19:40, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

It's all subjective

I guess the reason I'm against this is that ultimately, it's all subjective, and trying to cover such subjectivity is very hard. The nuts and bolts of the issue should always be that an editor is within their rights to remove any edit they feel contentious. Such removals shouldn't be seen as deletions, and should be seen as good faith actions. Yes, there are ways and means to go about requesting a source, but at the end of the day we're here to build an encyclopedia, and I don't think we should get too hung up on describing processes in the hope of discouraging subjective decisions. The argument isn't about whether someone is right to remove information, it's about whether that information is verifiable. Asking for people to search google shouldn't be a requirement, because, given the amount of mirrors Wikipedia now has, it's going to be hard for newcomers to work out what counts as easily verifiable, and it's going to allow a degree of wiki-lawyering. Let's not bite newcomers and let's keep it simple. The guidance reads fine to me as is, and doesn't advocate deletion. Nothing on Wikipedia is ever permanently deleted. What it advocates is that people be aware that the information they add is open to challenge, and the ultimate challenge is the removal of that information. Hiding Talk 22:58, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Self-published and dubious reliability

This doesn't make sense: "Material from self-published sources, and other published sources of dubious reliability, may be used as sources of information about themselves in articles about themselves, so long as:"

It takes for granted that a self-published source is going to be dubious reliability, but that's not always the case. If a guy comes up with a theory and then self-publishes a book explaining his theory, how could that book possibly be a source of dubious reliability when used to explain the theory? That would be a very reliable source. I think that sentence needs some modification. JoeMystical 23:51, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

If such theory is not of dubious reliability, then surely there will be secondary sources that describe such theory. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 23:56, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Whether the theory is of dubious reliability or not doesn't matter. It's still the guy's theory. It could be a total crackpot theory that no one else takes seriously or has written about. But the self-published source would not be of dubious reliability at all. JoeMystical 23:59, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
I think you are confusing two questions:
  1. What is the description of the Crackpot Theory?
  2. Is the Crackpot Theory true?
The theorists's own website may be a reliable source for #1, but it is not for #2. If no other source even discusses the theory, then the Crackpot Theory is not worth a mention. Verifiability is a good proxy for importance. Robert A.West (Talk) 00:07, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
Of course you're correct on your first point, but I can't agree with the second. An author can sell a lot of books describing his theory. Just because no other writers are discussing that theory, that doesn't mean it's not worth a mention. And it certainly doesn't mean it's source of "dubious reliability." The part of the sentence that says "and other published sources of dubious reliability" should be taken out. It adds nothing to the sentence, and as you acknowledged, it may be a reliable source for #1. JoeMystical 02:18, 1 September 2006 (UTC) There should also be a sentence that says: "Any self-published material may be used as a source for what is in that material, in an specific article about that author's material." Don't you agree? JoeMystical 02:38, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
It is actually easier: The theory can be described and supported by self-published sources in the article about the author, but not in a generic article in which such theories are described. That, of course, only if the author is notable enough to warrant an article in WP. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 00:12, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
We obviously differ on what is easy. I see the issue as being less which article than for what purpose. I would oppose using a blog to "prove" that the author is right and his enemies wrong even in an article about the author himself. On the other hand, if an expert used a blog to repudiate his former belief in a theory (to use the canonical example), it would be wooden to ignore that fact in the article on the theory if that expert's support for the theory was a major factor in evaluating it. The blog is reliable as a description of the expert's opinion. It is not reliable as an evaluation of others' actions. Easy. Robert A.West (Talk) 00:35, 1 September 2006 (UTC)


I added this and think it takes care of what was lacking there: "Self-published materials are, of course, reliable sources of information about what the ideas and opinions of those self-publishers are, and may be used in an article dedicated specifically to those authors or their ideas. This is acceptable on the condition that the sources are used merely to describe the self-publishers' ideas and opinions, rather than to assert them as being true or valid." JoeMystical 20:48, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

That sounds like a good edit to me. I see it has been removed, but I'd support putting it back in. JulesH 12:35, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

Centrx's edit

I've reverted because, contrary to his statement that it seems this is what everyone's understanding of the policy is, it isn't mine, and I suspect it isn't the understanding of many other editors. -- Donald Albury 00:14, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

That's not my impression of the above discussion under Burden of Evidence. dryguy 00:18, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
I won't edit war over it. I do not see an explicit agreement to change the wording of the policy. Today's paricipants in this discussion are not sufficient in numbers to form a consensus to change something so fundamental and longstanding as this policy. -- Donald Albury 00:37, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
Removing all uncited text is not fundamental to the policy; it is fundamentally wrong. The change was a relaxation of one word that corrects that wrong and brings it in line with common practice. It is not a change in the principle or the policy as it is understood by most all editors on Wikipedia. If you don't actually disagree with it and so aren't going to explain why the old version was better, it might as well be kept until someone actually objects to the change. The old version does more harm. —Centrxtalk • 00:49, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
How does this policy not permit any uncited material to be summarily deleted by any editor? Your counter-argument for that was a description of your own practice when dealing with uncited material, a practice that consisted of challenging uncited claims except when they were outrageous, unlikely, etc. —Centrxtalk • 00:31, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

To Donald Albury: Then what is sufficient? This is a serious question; some aspects of this page were added by individual editors, and are known to be consensus because they have not been removed. To take an extreme position, if this page were to permanently protected for six months, at the end of that time there would be very little reason to believe any particular word to be consensus, because it would have been removed from the wiki process. Septentrionalis 02:59, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

I agree if someone removes a good faith edit made to this page, they should paste onto this talk page and refute it. Then other people can weigh in and we can see where opinion stands on restoring it or not. To just remove it and state you do not agree with the edit summary is not acceptable. This is not the first time this type of problem has occured here, and it needs to stop. The wording of this policy is open to improvement. If anyone contests that an edit is an improvement they must be willing to debate what the issue with the particular edit is.--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 19:02, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
Centrx, any unsourced edit may be removed, not just challenged; obviously any edit can be challenged, so there's not much point in saying so. However, just because any edit may be removed doesn't mean we're encouraging it. As with all the policies, we rely on users exercising common sense. Anyone who went around removing material willy nilly would be blocked for vandalism or disruption. SlimVirgin (talk) 15:38, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Trolling

How do you handle a troll that demands that every sentence in an article be sourced? If every fact has to linked to a source, wont the article have every sentence followed by a citation? Wont that be required of every sentence in every article in Wikipedia? Is that the ultimate goal? --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) 19:50, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

If you feel that calls for sources in an article have become disruptve, follow the steps in Wikipedia:Resolving disputes. Note, however, that consensus on an article cannot over-ride policies. And, yes, I hold that every statement in Wikipedia needs to have a source. Depending on circumstances, however, one source citation may be sufficient for a sentence, a paragraph, or a section. No statement in Wikipedia is immune from being challenged as unsourced, however. -- Donald Albury 01:14, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
So a troll can delete that "Trenton is the capital of New Jersey" because the policy reads "Any edit lacking a source may be removed". Am I reading that correctly? A troll can go and delete anything that doesn't have a direct reference adjacent to it and be justified. Doesn't it make more sense that if the someone can find contadictory evidence it must be removed? Lets say they find an article that says "Princeton is the capital of New Jersey" Does every birth and deathdate in a biography need to be sourced? Does the persons middle name have to be sourced? --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) 01:57, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
Hi Richard, it's hard to judge without an example, because it boils down to common sense and editorial judgment. In general, citations are preferred, though not when it reaches WP:POINT. For example, one editor, who was trolling, once asked me for a citation for the specific sentence that Auschwitz was a death camp, when there were already dozens of sources in the article testifying to that. When it reaches that level, it's disruptive editing and you should ask an admin for help or pursue dispute resolution. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:48, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

I have reached that point at Pillar of Fire Church. It seems that the person is just trying to get the article deleted, or demanding that I blank it. They cite these rules, now they are complaining that the article is too long. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) 02:00, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

That article looks fine to me. You shouldn't have to put a source next to each statement, although it may help in some cases if you do, particularly for contentious statements. But everything on the page should be covered by one of the sources. You shouldn't have to repeat the source multiple times, though, except to clarify what the sources for different positions are if there is contention.
As to the length of the article, it looks fine to me. I'd possibly remove a few of the less important items from the timeline section and the periodical coverage section so that it each fits on a single screen comfortably. But the point here is that this is a matter of preference, so should be down to editors on the page to reach consensus. If consensus can't be reached, mediation would likely be the best approach. JulesH 12:30, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
To clarify my position, I'd suggested repeating each source only once per section. If a source is used for multiple statements in a section, I'd put it at the end of the first sentence or paragraph that it supports, then not mention it again, except for particularly contentious claims. JulesH 12:32, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

Lack of Consensus as Grounds for Revert

This seems to be the most common reason given for reverts to good-faith edits on this page, even when there has been no discussion on which to base any judgement about the level of consensus. I think WP:V would see a greater level of acceptance among Wikipedia editors if they felt there was some chance they could contribute here without being immediately reverted with the old catchall "lack of consensus," which really isn't a supportable statement if there hasn't been any discussion. So, please, if you are going to revert a good faith edit, copy the material to the talk page, and state what the problem is with it. Don't just say "lack of consensus" unless the material has actually been discussed at some length without reaching a consensus. dryguy 02:32, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

I think an important question is: what exactly does constitue consensus for making a change to this project page?JulesH 12:39, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
It has reached consensus when nobody reverts your edits.WolfKeeper 18:57, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
I'm not talking about changing the policy itself (which I assume would require a huge amount of consensus, with weeks or months of debate publicised in all of the most prominent places possible, e.g. village pump, adminsitrator's noticeboard, possibly even community portal), but rather changes to the explanations of it, of the kind that have been discussed here and periodically added and then removed.
How many people need to agree to such a change before it becomes consensus? JulesH 12:39, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
It is not a matter of counting heads. See Wikipedia:Consensus. Also note that because Wikipedia:Verifiability is a policy, consensus must be broad, the policy must remain in congruence with other policies and the founding principals of the Foundation, and the policy is ultimately subject to the authority of Jimmy Wales. -- Donald Albury 12:50, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
If it isn't, then what is it about? Seriously. If it's about lack of objection, there are plenty of changes which have been raised on this page, have achieved some degree of support from other editors, little or no dissent on this page, and have been made to the project page and immediately reverted due to lack of consensus.
Besides, as I said, I'm not talking about changing the policy per se (i.e. the three bold statements in the set-out box at the top of the page), but the explanation of the consequences of the policy. Largely just phrasing changes, here and there. That's what the majority of the changes that have been reverted recently seem to be about.
But the question remains, what do you mean when you say "consensus must be broad". How can we tell when it has been reached, and if we can't, how do those performing the reversion know that it hasn't. JulesH 16:05, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
You seem to have it backwards. If there has not been consensus reached on the talk page to make a change, then making the change is acting without consensus. If you edit the policy without prior consensus, and no one challenges the edit for a while, then a 'de facto' consensus for the change can be assumed to have developed. But if you make a change and someone challenges it, then you have to seek explicit consensus for the change. In other words, lack of discussion about a change to existing policy (which has been reached by consensus in prior discussions) means there is lack of consensus to make the change. -- Donald Albury 12:50, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
What defines consensus for WP:V? Unanimity? If some dissent is tolerable, how much? How much discussion (duration, # of participants, # of people persuaded) is necessary? Some people are hard to persuade about anything; pretty much any edit will ruffle some feathers. Is there a voting mechanism? What about cases when the discussion is just an argument between two people - many lurkers refrain from posting when their point of view is represented, so you have no way of measuring how many lurkers are on which side of the argument. What if someone makes an edit and it gets buried by other edits and ends up just happening to not be noticed by the people who said they object to any change? I think that's what happened with this recent edit. Is that de facto consensus? Because if it is, then I see no reason why such a litmus test couldn't be applied to other bold edits without the instant reversion for 'lack of consensus'. If all edits require pre-approval, then how can de facto consensus ever be attained? mjb 15:44, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

I agree. Quickly reverting, citing "lack of consensus", is unproductive and promotes groupthink. The problem with the wording is that we don't know whether there's consensus or not, so we can't say there's "lack of consensus", only that "consensus has not been established". The best way to establish consensus for a change would be a discussion on the talk page. Therefore, when reverting, instead of citing a "lack of consensus", it would be friendlier to say "please try to seek consensus by posting a discussion on the talk page". This will make it easier for those who wish to make good-faith modifications to the policy. I think this policy is plagued by groupthink. When someone tries to raise an issue with the policy, they are quickly accused of being trolls with an axe to grind. I once experienced this myself when trying to raise several issues with the policy. Such an attitude promotes cabalism and is harmful to the project. *waits to be accused of trolling* --J.L.W.S. The Special One 13:08, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

I don't think just asking for consensus is in practice any better than just saying there is lack of consensus. My point is different. If you are reverting an edit, presumably you think there is a problem with that edit, so state what the problem is. Later, after discussion has taken place here, it will be possible to assess consensus. Removing edits just by stating "wait for consensus," is a very convenient way for someone to remove anything they disagree with. I think the bar should be slightly higher; if there hasn't been any discussion about the matter, then you ought to state what was wrong with the edit you reverted. Lack of prior discussion is not proof that the change was defective. dryguy 13:46, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
Agreed: if there is no dissent with the change, then consensus exists by definition. When removing an edit, show evidence of dissent, even if it is only your reasons for disagreeing with the change. That was a debate can begin. If it's just removed for "lack of consensus", there's no starting point for a debate. JulesH 16:05, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
The long-standing provisions of this policy represent consensus that has been hammered out in many discussions. If you want to change it, you have to demonstrate that consensus across the Wikipedia community now supports the change. As this is one of the fundamental policies in Wikipedia, you cannot simply come in and change it to fit your personal preferences without broad support from the Wikipedia community. Personally, I think the proposed change weakens the policy and Wikipedia. -- Donald Albury 17:02, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
In a case like that it should be easy to cite the previous discussion where the consensus was reached, and you should do so to help the newcomers understand they aren't just being bullied. Also, if you say "wait for consensus" it implies that the issue hasn't been discussed. If that is the case, then there is no basis to say anything about whether the change reflected current consensus or not. dryguy 17:08, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

Dryguy, if I understood you correctly, the issue is that some seem to think they OWN this page, and are quickly reverting any edits made there, with the simple reason of "lack of consensus"? --J.L.W.S. The Special One 04:51, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

I believe many of the reverts are made in a good faith attempt to maintain the integrity of one of the three pillars of Wikipedia, but that many people who come here are not given a fair hearing. Too often it is assumed that anyone new who makes a change is simply trying to change the rules to suit their actions elsewhere on Wikipedia. I would prefer to see all changes evaluated based on the merit of the change, rather than based on how long the editor who made the change has been working on the WP:V page. That can't happen if the editor who reverts a change will not take part in a discussion about it. Too often, the "discussion" seems to begin and end with nothing more than "there is no consensus for that change" or the equivalent. In the cases where a discussion does take place, the argument against change most often put forth is that "this page represents the consensus of many editors developed over a long time," which may or may not apply to the change that was reverted. If it does apply, then the previous discussion should be cited. If there was no previous discussion then there could not have been a previous consensus about that particular change, so the dissenters ought to state their objections. dryguy 15:40, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for recognizing my motive in reverting the change. This is one of the three pillars of Wikipedia, and changes should not be made lightly to it. As for 'ownership', I don't think I have added a single word to this policy. It is not my 'baby'. However, I do believe that the polciy as it currently stands is important to Wikipedia. I will not edit war over it (at least, not on my own), and if someone makes the same change again I will not revert it, but I'm confident someone else will.
However, I must state that I believe that it is bad to have major policy pages displaying statements that are liking to be removed when consensus is restated. When I revert because there is no consensus for a change, it is because I believe that there is in fact no consensus for that change, and that someone else will revert if I don't. And yes, I do feel that I am protecting the policy. I know that there are other editors who also passionately protect this policy.
As for the specific statement, my position is that immediate removal of unsourced material must remain an option. Please note that the immediate removal without discussion of unsourced negative material about living persons is mandated by WP:BLP#Remove unsourced or poorly sourced negative material. In other cases, it needs to be left to the judgment of the editor as to whether immediate removal, moving to the talk page, hiding in the article text, or asking for citations is the best option for unsourced material. Requesting citations is often quite effective, especially if done very soon after the material is added, but some editors are very obstinate about not supplying references, and removal of the material has to remain as the last resort. Therefore, I am opposed to requiring that statements must be contested before they can be removed. -- Donald Albury 16:15, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
And an example of why some material should be removed without discussion, here. It's unsourced, an attack on a living person, very POV and apparently includes OR. I reverted it under the provisions of WP:BLP. -- Donald Albury 16:50, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
Donald, I realize I started this particular thread after you had reverted someone's edit, but please don't think my comments are directed primarily to you, nor am I trying to comment in any way on the subject matter of the change you reverted.
I don't buy your argument of reverting for no other reason than "someone will revert if I don't." If that is your only reason to revert, then let that "other person" do it and state their reasons for doing so. If I were to follow the same logic, I would have to revert every change to this page, period, because, you know, someone else will if I don't. Finally, I'm not saying all statements must be contested before they are removed, I am simply saying that "no consensus" is a flimsy excuse to revert a good-faith edit. If someone agrees with a change, why would they remove it? All I ask is that editors of WP:V give the reason why they disagree with something at the time they revert it. If an editor doesn't have a good reason, then leave it for another editor to deal with. dryguy 17:02, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
I was replying to earlier posts as well as yours. I did not mean to attribute to you all of the things I was replying to. When I reverted saying there was no consensus, I thought it was clear that I did not concur with the edit, and was merely saying that it was a change that needed to be discussed on the talk page before adding it to the policy. Actually, I've been amazed at how much power some users seem to be attributing to me, as though I had the ability to cut off discussion by reverting a change to the policy because consensus had not be been demonstrated for that change. As for letting someone else object first, I do that a lot, and if I see someone mounting the same arguments I would use in a discussion, I often tend to hang back, waiting until the ranting and endless repetition of the same arguments dies down, voicing my support sparingly. -- Donald Albury 18:32, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Hey, guys. Formally speaking, if lack of consensus is grounds for reverts, unless the reverted text reaches consensus then there is equal grounds for reverting it back again straight away. Who's to say that the version that has been there longer is the right one to revert to? It may well not be consensus since somebody just changed it. So that's a bit of a hole. At some level you need to go for a higher authority, like quoting Wales, or other policies, otherwise there's a revert war possible right there. So I claim that on its own it cannot be grounds for reversion, you need to quote another policy or Wales.WolfKeeper 14:55, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

There is an important difference. The version that has been there for a while is there because that is the version that consensus had settled on.
No. I don't think that's right. Not in general.WolfKeeper 23:03, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Consensus does not evaporate overnight.
I would argue that it does, as soon as somebody makes an edit. Somebody arguing that it's not consensus is the tail wagging the dog. IMO the only time you should revert for consensus is to re-establish consensus on the talk page.WolfKeeper 23:03, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
The consensus for the existing version is presumed to still hold until demonstrated otherwise. One editor's attempt to modify the policy does not wipe out the existing consensus, it just challenges it. In a rough analogy, the incumbent stays in office until defeated by a challenger. -- Donald Albury 22:11, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Where's the rule for that?WolfKeeper 23:03, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Wolfkeeper, please do not intersperse your comments in the middle of my post. It makes it difficult to keep straight what I said. I don't appreciate it at all. -- Donald Albury 01:30, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Concern

"Articles dealing with urban myths, black projects, open secrets and otherwise obscure topics are not exempt from verifiablity requirements. In general, articles of this nature should not exist here unless they are well known, culturally signifigant, or can meet the criteria for notability (examples of which include the Jersey Devil, the Aurora aircraft, and the Israeli nuclear weapons program). Articles that deal with topics of this nature general have few, if any, reliable sources, leaving them open to claims of original research or speculation, niether of which are permitted on wikipedia."

This I added because the black project template points to this page as one of the standards that must be met for an article to stay here. For this reason I am somewhat concerned that this has been removed from the article, but I am not going to force it back. Instead, I merely wish to advise those who freqent this page that they may or may not find that something to this effect must stated out in the front for those who do not find any explicit references to the above three conditions. I will leave you alone now. ;-) TomStar81 02:22, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

While I have no objection to this addition in principle, I'm not sure what it's intended to achieve. The page already clearly states that all articles, regardless of subject, must conform to the policy. As to notability of such articles, I'd suggest a guideline should be created and added to the list at Wikipedia:Notability. It is certainly an area where caution is required to establish the importance of any information. JulesH 07:53, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
  • I know, but I figure its only a matter of time before some enterprising person comes up with either "This is a valid project, its just there are no sources for it" or "There was nothing on that page about this/these types of articles, so it doesn't apply". All I am trying to do is preempt such rational by stating clearly, in simple english, that those two lines are thought are not excuses/reasons for doging policy. I will take a look at adding something similar over on Notability later today. Thanks for the suggestion! TomStar81 09:17, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
You might do better to add more in-depth reminders about wiki policy in the appropriate articles' talk pages as well as at the top of the articles themselves, commented out so that only editors can see it.WolfKeeper 14:29, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
A talk page template of a nature similar to the one used for living-person bios might be a good idea, just to remind editors of the requirements of verifiability. JulesH 19:27, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Objection to "Challenged"?

Where is it? What is the reason why "removed" is better? —Centrxtalk • 15:37, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Centrx, any unsourced edit may be removed, not just challenged; obviously any edit can be challenged, so there's not much point in saying so. However, just because any edit may be removed doesn't mean we're encouraging it. As with all the policies, we rely on users exercising common sense. Anyone who went around removing material willy nilly would be blocked for vandalism or disruption. SlimVirgin (talk) 15:39, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
I agree: the "removed" phrasing is important... if a user objects when you remove their unsourced additions, you can point them here to make them understand. If it were changed to "challenged" they would likely expect you to put a {{fact}} tag on there or something instead, which isn't always the best thing to do. JulesH 15:54, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Exactly. If something is obviously biased, false, propagandistic, absurd, etc., then leaving it in the article does a disservice to the reader and damages Wikipedia. Less controversial stuff can be "challenged", but more controversial stuff can be "removed". Jayjg (talk) 18:14, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 22:33, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

What does everyone think of 2. Editors adding new material to an article should cite a reputable source, or it may be challenged or even removed by any editor. This way it clearly states removal is an appropriate reaction, but does not give the impression that removal is the only acceptable reacation. --Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 22:37, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

  1. The current wording allows the removal of any information, regardless of whether it is obviously biased, false, etc.
  2. The current wording allows anyone to go around removing unsourced information, regardless of how extensive. That they would be blocked for it is a defect in the wording.
  3. Obviously any bogus edit can be removed, but we don't need a policy allowing the removal of any edit, based only on whether it has a citation.
  4. A reasonable new user with common sense can, upon reading this policy, think that all uncited material is not permitted on Wikipedia, regardless of whether it is verifiable.

Other possible revisions (emphasis added):

  • "...source, or it could be removed by any editor."
  • "...source, or it may be challenged or removed by any editor."
  • "...source; bogus material may be removed by any editor."

These specifically admit the reasonable action of not removing good, but uncited, information, rather than having the policy recommend or mention only the possibility of removing the information. —Centrxtalk • 22:37, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

My suggestion is very similar to your second possible revision. Did we edit conflict? Any way I can definately agree with "challenged or removed by any editor" --Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 22:45, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Self published sources: researchers & experts

I note that the change from "researcher" to "expert" that was introduced by User:Wolfkeeper in the description of exceptions to the no-self-published-sources rule over the weekend has been reverted, along with a batch of other changes.

I strongly feel that the word "expert" should be included in this sentence: limiting the valid cases to just researchers or journalists means that articles in subjects which are neither academic or current affairs are harder to find sources for.

My interpretation of the policy has always been that the two categories are just examples, and that we should allow other similar examples in different disciplines, but unfortunately there are other editors who read the policy as excluding anything other than these two exceptions. Hence I feel the addition of "expert", which is a broad class of people who are collectively qualified to discuss almost any subject, is the best way to solve this problem.

The last time this was brought up, there were no objections to changing it, although the change was subsequently reverted. I've put up a brief description of my reasons for wanting to make the change in my user space, and a history of what has happened over previous attempts to make the same change: User:JulesH/Self Published Sources.

Any comments on putting this back in place? JulesH 16:02, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Researcher doesn't mean only academics, Jules; it means any professional researcher of any kind. Are you saying you want to allow non-professional experts? If so, how would we judge who was expert? SlimVirgin (talk) 16:09, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, there are plenty of experts out there who are more than qualified to provide references for an article here but who would not normally be described as a researcher. And it is a subject-specific divide: consider the example above of a book written about the history of a particular kind of coin (I believe it was). I doubt you'd find many people in this area who would call themselves a researcher. There are plenty of experts though. I'd say there are very few people outside of academic disciplines that would usually be called a researcher.
As for requiring professional status, that I'm not sure about. I'd leave it in for now, because I'm not certain of the pros or cons for removing it. I'd note that anybody who has self-published a book or other source for profit and has made a significant number of sales should qualify as a professional expert: by selling that work, they are selling their expertise.
Other examples of experts who are not considered researchers would include, off the top of my head:
  • High-level practitioners of a martial art
  • Particularly notable artists, writers, musicians, etc.
  • Any craftsman who is close to the peak of their profession (e.g. a book restorer who is employed by an internationally important library)
Note that of these three suggestions, only the first isn't professional, but their expertise can be verified because they are accredited by an independent body, i.e. the officiating body of the art in question. JulesH 17:09, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
I think the point to consider is that experts who are not researchers are under the same OR constraints of other editors. It is editors who do research as part of their living who are being reminded that their research, no matter how well performed, must be published in reliable third-party sources before it can be cited in Wikipedia. -- Donald Albury 18:09, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
All editors are under the OR constraints, including researchers. Experts who are not researchers do have reliable, verifiable knowledge. The examples above are good, but there are non-researcher experts even in more academic-like disciplines, like engineers and computer programmers. They don't need to do "research" to know that a structure did indeed hold a certain weight, or that a particular function does indeed produce this output. —Centrxtalk • 22:42, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Some time ago, I raised several issues with the policy. One of the issues I mentioned was "it creates systematic bias", and I think your discussion explains what I mean. --J.L.W.S. The Special One 03:52, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

So should the change be made, specifically by inserting "or notable, professional expert" after the word "researcher" in the current phrasing? JulesH 06:55, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
I don't think 'professional' adds anything here, in fact it takes away. If an expert retires, then they're no longer professional, but they're still experts and presumably quotable. What about sports people: Olympic athletes aren't necessarily professionals, but does their opinion count for nothing about their sport? I think if you leave out 'professional'; it would be perfectly OK to revert something by challenging whether somebody is, or isn't an expert at whatever it is they are supposed to have commented on; and then you would presumably have to reach consensus on that.WolfKeeper 15:05, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
So I think it should just be 'notable expert' after the word "researcher". Simple and sweet.WolfKeeper 15:05, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
OK, that was my original preference anyway: I felt 'professional' may help address User:SlimVirgin's concerns about verifying who was an expert or not. There's still a potential issue without it, but I suppose there are less ways expert status could be challenged. JulesH 08:07, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Self-published and dubious sources in articles about themselves

First of all, the title and first sentence in the section don't make sense. What are the "dubious sources" that are distinct from the "self-published sources."? And what is "themselves"? The sources or the AUTHORS of those sources? I can't believe something so incoherent is considered policy. What kind of operation are you running here? JoeMystical 03:47, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

I suggest the title to be changed to: "Self-published material in articles dedicated the authors of that material or their ideas" and the first sentence to be changed from "Material from self-published sources, and other published sources of dubious reliability, may be used as sources of information about themselves in articles about themselves, so long as" to "Self-published materials are, of course, reliable sources of information about what the ideas and opinions of the authors of those materials are, and may be used in an article dedicated specifically to those authors or their ideas, as long as" JoeMystical 03:53, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

Joe, the first thing is that you need to get a bit more editing experience before you start trying to change the policies.
A "dubious source" is one we would not normally rely on i.e. not a reliable source. A "self-published source" is usually self-explanatory. We mean personal websites, books published by vanity presses, that kind of thing. When we talk about sources, they could be the authors or they could be the publishers. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:55, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
That makes no sense. The "self" in "self-publisher" refers to a writer who publishes his own material, does it not? If someone else other than the author publishes the material then it's not published by the self but by someone else. If "self-publisher" and the author could be two different people then every publisher in the world is a self-publisher. That can't be what you mean. And, I'm still not seeing how the "and dubious sources" part fits in. This section is supposed to be referring to self-published sources. What do you mean the sources could be the author or the publisher? That section and what you're telling me seems all very incoherent. JoeMystical 03:58, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
I didn't say that the self could refer to both writer and publisher.
A dubious source may be used as a source about himself, whether self-published or not, but may not be used as a source about other people or issues. That's how it fits in. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:17, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
A "source" is supposed to refer to a DOCUMENT. A source is not a "himself." Sources have AUTHORS. JoeMystical 04:19, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
You might want to gain some more editing experience before commenting so vociferously. This has all been discussed before. Perhaps you could look through the archives. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:21, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
This has nothing to do with editing. This is the english language. A "source" refers to a document, not a person, otherwise your sentence "A dubious source may be used a source about himself" would mean "a dubious person may be used as a source about himself." What does that mean? JoeMystical 04:23, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
In English, a "source" can be either an individual or a document. Jayjg (talk) 04:25, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Ok, let's take it to mean an individual then. What does "A dubious person may be used a source about himself" mean?? The whole rest of the article is using "source" to refer to a document. Why would this section change the meaning all of a sudden? JoeMystical 04:26, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
We aren't interviewing these people live; they'll have published their views somewhere, e.g. on their website or blog. Jayjg (talk) 04:31, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
If you mean self-published individuals then it should say "self-published individuals" or simply "self-publishers." The title would be "Self-publishers in articles about themselves." But, that's still really bad. What does "sources" mean there? People or documents? JoeMystical 04:33, 5 September 2006 (UTC) Note that the first sentence says "Material...may be used as sources of information about themselves." Themselves? The material? Why is material being referred to as "themselves" but then you say that we're talking about people? Can you not see how incoherent everything about that section is? It's meaningless. JoeMystical 04:37, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Your opinion that it's meaningless notwithstanding, please don't change it (or any other part of the policy) again without first getting consensus to do so. SlimVirgin (talk) 05:52, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
That is, for controversial and major changes. I certainly hope you don't think that all editing of policies is prohibited without a week-long discussion. —Centrxtalk • 06:24, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Improving wording is fine, but any actual policy change requires agreement. SlimVirgin (talk) 07:10, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

First of all, I think some of these changes are useful. But you're making a lot of changes all at once and we need to slow down and discuss them one at a time. I do agree that the use of the word "source" to refer to both a self-published document and its author can be confusing, and therefore we should probably try to avoid it. So a change of title to "Self-published materials in articles about their authors" would be reasonable, I feel.

I also think it would be reasonable to expand this to articles about the author's ideas: this would be helpful when the ideas suggested by the author are notable for some reason, yet the only published sources about it are the author's self-published ones. An example, I think, would be Time Cube. That article should exist, I think, because it nicely explains a frequently-referenced crank site that is kind-of famous around the Internet. But there are few or no non-self-published sources that explain what it is about in any detail. The best way of explaining Ray's theory is to link to Ray's own work on it. Yet the current phrasing implies that this would only be acceptable on Gene Ray. So I feel that the insertion of "or their ideas" on the end of the title I suggested in the last paragraph is also reasonable.

I think that's enough to discuss for now. Any other changes can be discussed after we've decided whether or not that's a reasonable change to make. JulesH 07:12, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

I guess my problem with the proposed changes is that I never had a problem understanding what the policy meant. 'Self-published' was clear to me. 'Dubious source' was clear to me. If these terms are not clear to all editors, then we should see if we can clarify them, but we should not change what I see as the very clear intent of this policy. And we certainly should not make changes until we find a formulation that is clear to as many editors as possible and for which there is a clear consensus that the policy itself is not being altered. -- Donald Albury 11:55, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

Does your understanding of the policy preclude using self-published sources on an article about the ideas discussed in those sources, rather than an article about the author of the sources? JulesH 13:20, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
I think that is stated clearly in the policy. -- Donald Albury 13:52, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, it precludes it, obviously. SlimVirgin (talk) 14:00, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
It should include it then, obviously. Imagine, for example, if L. Ron Hubbard published his own books. How could anyone disagree that those books would be reliable sources in an article called called L. Ron Hubbard or Scientology to show what Hubbard's philosophy is? Or another example, if Ayn Rand published her own books. You could use them as a source in Ayn Rand or Objectivism. Or, if Kant published his own books. You could use them as a source in Kant or Kantianism. JoeMystical 15:34, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
If they're well known researchers in their field and/or have been published by someone else before on that topic, it's a different matter, and often boils down to common sense. What we want to avoid is John Doe setting up a website and calling himself an expert on X, and then being used as a source on X by a Wikipedian — who may also be John Doe. SlimVirgin (talk) 15:52, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Everybody is an expert on their own ideas. If an individual self-publishes something, it's always a reliable source to show what his ideas are. A book is always a reliable source to show what is in that book, regardless of whether the author published it himself or if someone published it for him. We're not talking about using a self-published source in an article about something else, but using it in an article dedicated specifically to that author's ideas. JoeMystical 15:59, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Not so. Just because I decide to set up a website dedicated to George Bush doesn't mean I get to be cited in the George Bush article, or get my own article, "SlimVirgin's ideas about George Bush." SlimVirgin (talk) 16:03, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Again, I'm not talking about using you as a source in an article about something else (such as George Bush). Let's say you have a philosophy calling Slimism. If that philosophy is notable it would have an article. Your self-published works would be reliable sources for the article called Slimism. JoeMystical 16:08, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, if Slimism were notable, but then if it were notable, we'd have third-party sources on it too. Joe, you've made 249 edits to articles. Once you have more editing experience, you'll start to see how the theory translates into practise. I see you've edited Neo-Tech (philosophy) a lot. Was there a particular source there you were prevented from using? SlimVirgin (talk) 16:22, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, but even if there are "third-party sources," those self-published sources would still be reliable. Stop saying I have a lack of experience. I have plenty of experience writing research papers and I know that a self-published source is a reliable source for the ideas of the author of that source. About Neo-Tech, no I wasn't prevented from using a source. But, according to you and the policy here which you say precludes that, then there would be no sources. It's indisputable that a self-published book is a reliable source in an article about the ideas of that author. This problem with the policy only begins to touch the absurdity of this section. It needs to be wiped out and written from scratch. JoeMystical 16:33, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
It doesn't matter what kind of experience you have elsewhere. You need experience of editing Wikipedia to understand how our policies tend to work in practise. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:38, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
I have enough experience to see something so obvious. Stop trying to make this about me. This section cannot decide if it's using "sources" to refer to people or material, and according to you, it doesn't allow someone to use a self-published source in an article about the ideas of the self-publisher. It's nonsense. How can you defend, as policy, something so incoherent? JoeMystical 16:42, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

While I completely agree that the debate should focus on the merit of the proposed changes, and not the merit of the proposer (and that the repeated charges of "inexperience" are irrelevant, condescending, and maybe just a wee bit hostile), I have to say that the policy is fairly clear as it stands, and that I'm all in favor of the restrictions currently imposed on self-published sources. The existing policy helps to ensure that information added to Wikipedia comes from established, reliable, verifiable sources. Self-publishers are free from many of the controls used in the publishing industry to ensure the accuracy of information, so they may not be reliable. P.S. - My copy of The Random House Dictionary defines source as "a book, statement, person, etc., supplying information." So, Joe, I think you can rest easy that the policy does in fact say what others in this discussion claim that it says. Joe, can you give an example to illustrate your last point? I'm trying to imagine an article about someone's self-published ideas that would be notable, but I can't think of any. dryguy 21:51, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

I gave some examples above. Consider the hypothetical case of Ayn Rand publishing her own books. Those books would be a reliable source for an article called Objectivism. Or a self-published book by Kant, as a source in Kantianism, or a self-published book by L. Ron Hubbard in an article about Scientology. Etc. A book, whether self-published or not, is a reliable source at to what that book says. If an article is about someone's philosophy, then self-published descriptions of that philosophy are of course reliable sources for articles about that philosophy. (Note there are also articles on Wikipedia dedicated to particular books. According to the policy, as some here are explaining it, if it's a self-published book then that book cannot be used as a reference for itself but only in an article about the author of that book. That defies all rationality). Besides this, the section is not clear whether it's using the word "source" to refer to a person or a document, and seems to use iit in different ways in different sentences. The entire rest of the article uses "source" to refer to a document. JoeMystical 23:40, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Don't give hypothetical cases. It's too easy to twist them. Give us a real example where a notable writer self-publishing within his widely acknowledged area of expertise, and where reliable published sources confirm that he's an expert, could not be used as a source on that area of expertise because of this policy. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:50, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Hypothetical cases are fine. The policies should be able to handle any eventuality that comes up. And, that's certainly a very conceivable one. The policy is flawed. A book is always a reliable source about itself, whether self-published or not. A document describing a person's ideas that is published by that same person is always a reliable source about that person's ideas and may reliably be used in an article about those ideas. JoeMystical 23:57, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
No, I want a real example, because the fact is this policy can handle any real case you produce, and if it can't, then we can talk about changing it, but not before. You've made around 40 posts to this talk page in just a few days; 250 edits to articles overall; no article edits since August 31. Most of your time is currently spent here, and it's not helping you, us, or the policy. So please, show me a real case that indicates we're talking about a real problem and not pie in the sky, or let it go and return to editing the encyclopedia. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:04, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
Slimvirgin, stop attacking me and stop your dismissals of me. I'm making some legitimate points, and I can discuss this all I want. I think the policy is flawed and incoherent. I don't plan on stopping until it's fixed or I'm convinced that I'm in error. So you might as well stop trying to demean me as inexperienced to get me to leave. JoeMystical 03:24, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
Joe, the examples you give all have many third party sources that can be cited that are not self published, so the policy does nothing to prevent the creation of those articles. BTW, I don't see them as hypothetical - Rand, Kant and Hubbard are all real subjects. They just don't make a good cases for your argument. dryguy 00:27, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
They're hypothetical cases because these people were either not self-published or not prohibited from being used as sources. If the claim is that this section of the policy is a real problem, I want to see a real example of a reliable, notable self-published expert who couldn't be used as a source because of it. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:15, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
Nope. The original Dianetics was self-published by Hubbard. Rand's philosophy works were self-published, IIRC. Not as sure about Kant. Wouldn't be surprised to hear Kant also self-published, but I don't know if he did or not. Anyway, as I said, they are bad examples because there are tons of third party sources on scientology and objectivism. The policy states clearly that self-published works are not to be used except in articles about the authors, so don't cite Rand's or Hubbard's self-published works in articles about scientology or objectivism. dryguy 01:35, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
Not sure what you mean by "nope." I said "these people were either not self-published or not prohibited from being used as sources." SlimVirgin (talk) 04:33, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
They are self-published and prohibited as being used as sources. Which part is giving you trouble? dryguy 04:35, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
The part that's giving me trouble is that it's false. Kant is not prohibited from being used as a source; nor are Rand or Hubbard. Apart from that, it's a wonderful example. :-) SlimVirgin (talk) 04:55, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
Don't think you think that's absurd? If Hubbard is the author of Scientology then isn't it obvious that his book would be a source on what Scientology is? JoeMystical 03:24, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
And it is used as a source for that very reason. You're trying to invent a problem here where none exists. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:33, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
I think it is fine, because all of the major points about scientology (or objectivism, or whatever) will be adequately covered through third party sources. Sure the self-published works would cover the material, but if isn't available elsewhere, it may not be notable. The policy does a good job of weeding out self-published physics crackpots and other pseudo-information, and the examples you have cited so far don't really compel me to think that the policy is excluding anything of major importance. dryguy 03:49, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
You say "Sure the self-published works would cover the material, but if isn't available elsewhere, it may not be notable." "MAY" is the keyword there. It's conceivable that there are some self-published materials describing the self-publishers philosophies or theories, which no scholarly secondary sources have has analyzed, that are notable. So, why should the policy premptively prohibit them from being used as source in articles about those philosophies or theories if those philosophies or theories ARE notable? JoeMystical 04:18, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
Quite true. Cite an example. dryguy 04:29, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
Ok, I'll give the example that led me here to discover that the policy was flawed in that sense. There is an article about a philosophy called Neo-Tech: Neo-Tech (philosophy). There are no secondary published sources describing the philosophy. Yet, it is notable. If you doubt that, look at all the self-published books about it on Abebooks.com [2] and Amazon.com: [3] Now, according the policy those books could not be used as sources. You would have an article that could not be sourced...at all. I think that's absurd. A book describing the author's philosophy is always a reliable source as a description of that philosophy, whether self-published or not. (I should not that there are books that CITE some of those books but none that I know of that actually go into describing the philosophy) JoeMystical 04:41, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
And now at last we learn the reason you're trying to change the policy, which is what often happens with new editors: their edits get thwarted, and rather than learning how to edit within our policies, they want to change the policies to accommodate their editing. If there are no reliable third-party sources on this "philosophy," then the article shouldn't exist. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:45, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
Don't you dare accuse me of doing that. No one has tried to stop me from using any sources in that article. I'm getting really tired of your attacks, SlimVirgin. I am here to try to fix the policy in order to improve Wikipedia, because IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. JoeMystical 04:48, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
Joe, you may wish to read up on WP:N which describes Wikipedia policies for notability. Other articles of possible interest to all involved are WP:BITE, WP:FAITH and WP:CHILL. dryguy 04:56, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
I know about WP:N but also I know that that is a "guideline" rather than a policy. It says "it is not set in stone and should be treated with common sense and the occasional exception." The sheer number of books published and sold about the philosophy is enough to make it notable. JoeMystical 05:03, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Notability is in the eye of the beholder. dryguy 05:06, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Joke. That's enough for me today. Good night. dryguy 05:08, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

It is in the eye of the beholder. Exactly. The article has been put up for deletion a couple times and the Wikipedia community agreed that it was notable. So here you have a situation where an article is notable enough to exist but then it is not allowed to be sourced, because all the sources are self-published. This is even though they are indisputably reliable sources as to what the philosophy is. So, therefore, the policy is flawed. It needs to be fixed. A self-published source is ALWAYS a reliable source on the philosophy or theories of that self-publisher, and may be used in articles about those philosophies or theories. JoeMystical 05:25, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

OK, loads of stuff going on here. Going back in time a little, we had these two comments, in reference to Dianetics being a self-published work:

Don't think you think that's absurd? If Hubbard is the author of Scientology then isn't it obvious that his book would be a source on what Scientology is? JoeMystical 03:24, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
And it is used as a source for that very reason. You're trying to invent a problem here where none exists. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:33, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

If this is true, it's used as a source despite this policy. And it would be easy for somebody to come along and demand that any information that we rely on it for be removed from the article, and according to the policy we should let them. I don't think that's a good way to write an encyclopedia.

If we want to allow self-published sources to be used in articles about the ideas of those sources authors, I think this policy should be updated to specifically allow it. There should possibly be some text giving a warning about notability and that it is unusual for a notable idea to have only been self-published, but in the end there are many ways in which an idea can become notable and often it is useful to refer back to the original source even if others have discussed it. I don't think it's a good idea to confuse discussions of verifiability and notability. Yes, if something's not verifiable it isn't notable: that doesn't mean we should structure the rules of verifiability to take into account that we don't want non-notable ideas to become verifiable. The two are, to a degree, independent. JulesH 06:00, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

  • Regarding using Scientology books self-published by the founder of Scientology as a source for the Scientology article, that sounds exactly like what this policy allows us to do. As far as a lack of third-party sources for the Neo-Tech (philosophy), I seem to be able to find plenty of them. For example, "most of the explanations of Neo Tech and the NovaTech Society (and attacks on them) could best be described as gibberish" says the Miami Herald on August 23, 2004. "An eight-page letter from the Nuova Tech Society received by Linda Muller promises membership will allow her to command respect and admiration and make her the centre of attention. ... [Mrs Muller] is convinced it is a 'manipulative scam'" reports the August 16, 2005 Aberdeen Press and Journal. The October 9, 2005 South Bend Tribune reports that "The Noveau Tech Society solicits consumers by mail to buy books published by the Neo Tech Publishing Co., which is based in Henderson, Nev., according to the Better Business Bureau. ... There are lots and lots of letters posted on www.Scam.com and www.BadBusinessBureau.com from people who bought books and found them worthless." From the Australian Associated Press on May 3, 2005, "Queensland consumers are being warned of a 'mystical' letter scam which promises them prosperity, love, happiness and peace of mind ... She said the scammers were sending the letters under various aliases including Novatech, Nouva Tech, Novus Tek Society and Neo-Tech Las Vegas." -- Dragonfiend 06:26, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
Both User:Dalbury and User:SlimVirgin have commented here that they believe the policy doesn't allow this use:
"Does your understanding of the policy preclude using self-published sources on an article about the ideas discussed in those sources, rather than an article about the author of the sources? JulesH 13:20, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
I think that is stated clearly in the policy. -- Donald Albury 13:52, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, it precludes it, obviously. SlimVirgin (talk) 14:00, 5 September 2006 (UTC)"
Yet SlimVirgin seems to think that the example of Dianetics in the Scientology article isn't an example of this policy causing a potential problem. I'm trying to understand why.
As to the non-self-published sources for Neo-Tech (philosophy), they're good sources, but none of them are anywhere near as in-depth as the article we have here about it. They do, of course, establish that the idea is notable in at least some fashion. Obviously we need other sources to sustain such an in-depth article, if we accept that such an article is desirable. I see no valid objection to using a self-published source by somebody who is considered an expert in this field (e.g. the original developer of the philosophy) to enable us to add more depth to the description of it. JulesH 08:06, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
Exactly. Thank you for taking the effort to see what my point is. I'm getting the feeling that some here think the policies are perfect and instead of really listening to someone trying to show them flaws they're taking a defensive stance. So how do we fix what's wrong? A vote or something? JoeMystical 17:19, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
I'm done commenting. Joe, please leave the policy alone and gain some editing experience. If I don't comment again, don't take that to mean that I agree; I'm noting my disagreement here. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:50, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
Thank you. I'm glad you've chosen not to participate. You've been very difficult to work with, insulting, and condescending. I'd rather discuss this with others. JoeMystical 01:20, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
I'm still not seeing the problem, Joe. All I see are concerns about hypothetical examples, not real or plausible ones. Jayjg (talk) 01:25, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
Then read the thread. Not only have I explained the theoretical flaw but I've given an actual example. Look at the exchange above and around "Notability is in the eye of the beholder." And, look at JulesH's comments. He undersands and agrees with what I've been saying. JoeMystical 01:28, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

To summarise the point, there are a lot of articles in wikipedia where self-published sources are used in articles that are not about the self-published source. This is accepted behaviour, and is generally considered by everyone concerned to be a good thing. These sources are important sources, and they are being used in appropriate ways in articles on notable subjects. Yet doing so is a violation of this policy, because this policy only allows a self-published source to be used in an article about the author of the source. A number of users above claim not to see the problem with this situation, but I really cannot understand why, as they seem to understand all of the individual points, and I think the conclusion that the policy needs to be updated to reflect the reality of how these articles are being written is unavoidable. The only other alternative is to go to Scientology or any of the other articles mentioned above and remove all of the self-published sources that are referenced, and the information that those sources are being used for. I don't see how this would be a good thing. JulesH 12:02, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Jules, I think you gave in a single paragraph a good summary of this (over 30kB) section. --Francis Schonken 22:37, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, so you agree that policy needs to be corrected? JoeMystical 20:00, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

Challenge/remove

Centrx, I think this covers what you want to say. Not sure there's a need to say more than this. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:16, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Any edit lacking a source may be removed, but some editors may object if you remove material without giving people a chance to provide references. If you want to request a source for an unsourced statement, a good idea is to move it to the talk page. Alternatively, you may tag the sentence by adding the {{fact}} template, or tag the article by adding {{not verified}} or {{unsourced}} ... You can also make the unsourced sentences invisible in the article by adding <!-- before the section you want to comment out and --> after it, until reliable sources have been provided ...

"The policy" section is either a summary of the text after, in which case the prior version would be a misleading summary, or it is "the policy", with the remaining text being only an explanation or extrapolation of that first "the policy" section. It is also much more visible. —Centrxtalk • 04:22, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Sorry, I don't follow. The whole page is policy. There is no policy section. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:29, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
There is a "The policy" section which purports to be either a summary of the policy or the first principles of the policy. —Centrxtalk • 04:48, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, and the summary is that edits must sourced or they may be removed. There is then more detail about that below. You're trying to flesh out the summary so that it's no longer a summary. :-) SlimVirgin (talk) 04:51, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
A summary that does not admit the good practice, in many cases, of challenging an edit rather than immediately removing it, is not a sufficient summary. The section remains a summary with this addition, and would remain a summary even if a full sentence were added to each enumerated item; the summary would then be less concise and less useful for cursory inspection, but in this case one major word and one conjunction has a negligible cost in that respect, for the benefit of a major improvement in accuracy. —Centrxtalk • 05:00, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

And the reason you give in your reverting edit summary applies just as well to mere removal: any editor may remove edits they find suspect just as any editor may challenge edits they find suspect. Either the situation with removal is just as it would be in any case of removing bogus edits, and there would under your reasoning be no reason to mention it, or this clause is asserting that editors have a right to remove any uncited edit whatsoever, in which case it must be tempered to describe the actual, reasonable practice when dealing with uncited edits.

Is there a reason why you might object to "bogus material may be removed by any editor."? Do you think that this policy needs to give any further authority or suggestion to editors to remove eminently correct, but uncited, material, beyond what is already normally within the power of an editor on the wiki? —Centrxtalk • 05:14, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

We don't judge what's bogus; we judge only whether something is well sourced or not. What is it about the paragraph I cited above that you feel is insufficient? Also, can you give some examples of editors removing "eminently correct, but uncited material," without requesting a source? SlimVirgin (talk) 05:25, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
So any uncited information should be summarily removed, regardless of its value? Any editor who is removing or not removing uncited information is making a judgement as to whether it is bogus, and it is reasonable to make that judgement. If someone else thinks it is bogus, they will remove it instead, but they still think, as reasonable editors, that it is bogus. Discussion and discovery of related sources may clarify whether it is or not, but there is no reason for this policy to go beyond that and authorize anyone to remove any and all statements that are verifiable but happen not to be sourced. Here is an example of uncited text that was removed, you yourself restored it despite the source not supporting the vague, general statement [4]. Here's another, [5]. —Centrxtalk • 05:44, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
The problem with having the summary read 'challenged and removed' is that it implies that unsourced material may be removed only after it has been challenged. That is unacceptable. Vandalism and unsourced negative material about living persons need to be immediately removed. If someone adds a sentence to The Holocaust to the effect that less than 1 million Jews died in it, I don't ask for a citation and wait around to see if one is forthcoming, I revert it. I don't delete unsourced material without first asking for a sources without good reason, but there are plenty of good reasons for doing so. If material that can be verified from reliable published sources is deleted, it can be easily added back in. If unverifiable material is left in because it has to be challenged before it can be removed, falsehoods may be widely propagated through mirror sites in the meantime. -- Donald Albury 10:20, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
True enough, but note that the phrasing currently being proposed is "challenged or removed", not "challenged and removed". JulesH 11:56, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
Whoops. Missed this discussion before making my last revert. My apologies. Carry on. dryguy 13:19, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
Still reasonable, the only evident objection to this text is aesthetic. —Centrxtalk • 14:55, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

What is the objection?

What is the objection to Editors adding new material to an article should cite a reputable source, or it may be challenged or removed by any editor. ?--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 02:51, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Ditto. dryguy 03:34, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
I support Dryguy's change. --J.L.W.S. The Special One 03:38, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
While I don't think the change is necessary, I don't object to making it either. JulesH 11:51, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Document a definition of consensus for WP:V

I would like a quick definition of consensus as it applies to WP:V, and the methods by which it is achieved. And I would like to see this information added permanently to the top of this discussion page, as I believe it would help reduce the amount of back-and-forth that goes on; people are used to the kind of consensus that is achieved over time, in the article namespace, whereas here in Policyland, there is a different or higher standard for consensus. So what is the standard, exactly, and why is it not documented? I recently saw a reversion with the edit summary "rv there was an objection; see talk", which implies that consensus is not achieved without unaninimity. Is the standard unaninimity among people who weigh in on it on Talk? How many people must participate? Are all participants equal? I have many other questions that I raised in a post above (search for my username: mjb). Thanks. —mjb 14:00, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

I think it is misleading to think of consensus as something that is "to be achieved." It is better to think of it as something that needs to be demonstrated. Let me just say the rest of my comments refer to page like this which are heavily watched by many people. The best to demonstrate consensus is by making a change and having no one object, this is part of being bold. However if there are known objections to something, it should be hashed out on the talk page. Many things just need to be better explained or refined until the objections are either retracted or weakened to the point people will not remove the change. I believe everyone willing to participate in the dialog is equal here. However certainly everyone brings a different experience to the table and that should be respected. My main complaint is when people revert a change without moving it to the talk page and stating why the object to the change. These kind of actions prevent people from being able to refine their ideas into something that can demonstrate consensus. An exception to this is when someone makes several significant changes at once, they should be reverted and asked to hash out their ideas on the talk page first. Also this page has alot of people that just tend to straight revert anything they don't agree 100%. In other pages this situation might be handled by editing the change without completely removing it. This sort of action would not need and explanation on the talk page as a revert does IMHO.--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 17:32, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
The fact that several days have passed and no one has objected to your comments would seem to indicate that consensus has been achieved and everyone supports you, by the standards of some. But I am pretty certain that's not the case; it has been stated here repeatedly that neither WP:V, nor any other publication in the policy namespace, is the place to make bold edits and see if consensus is demonstrated over time; that's only for the regular, non-BLP article namespace. Here, there is obviously a much different standard being applied, and any change is supposed to be discussed and consensus reached/demonstrated in advance of making an edit. Apparently, though, no one is motivated to pin down exactly what such consensus entails, and that's a source of frustration for everyone involved. I consider it an intolerable situation, but apparently I'm in the minority. I also observe that if it can be said that despite my opposition there is apparent consensus that 'consensus' need not be better defined, then it must be possible to have consensus without unanimity. I ask again: how exactly is consensus attained/demonstrated/measured on WP:V? mjb 01:07, 11 September 2006 (UTC)
I don't mean to imply that you should edit a policy such as this with a brand new idea no one as ever heard of and see what happens. What I mean is when you believe an idea has consensus editing the policy and having no one change is one way too demonstrate it. I suppose your real question is how could anyone come to believe an idea has consensus if it isn't written in the policy? The answer too that is by being aware of existing practice, by being aware to various discussions happening on talk pages. Policy should always follow existing practice. When existing practice is not uniform that is when you need to rely more heavily on the talk pages. When you think you know where consensus stands then edit the policy. If there are obejections to the edit then they need to be hashed out until you can demonstrate consensus by having an edit "stick." I don't know that it possible to ever change policies like this without being bold to a small degree. Many people who will oppose an edit do not always speak up on the talk pages until someone actually makes a change. --Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 01:40, 11 September 2006 (UTC)
BTW I don'u think the fact that no one has spoken againt my first statement demonstrates consensus, because it is on a talk page. Either the small number of people who even read my answer, think it is close enough to their owns ideas to stay silent, are unsure of the answer and do not wish to go record before firming their own opinion, or else they just don't think this conversation is worth their time. Things which get no response on a talk page may suddenly find much opposition if they edited into policy. --Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 04:52, 11 September 2006 (UTC)
"Either the small number of people who even read my answer, think it is close enough to their owns ideas to stay silent, are unsure of the answer and do not wish to go record before firming their own opinion, or else they just don't think this conversation is worth their time."—Such speculation is, as near as I can tell, the cornerstone of the WP:V consensus criteria. Each person who has contributed to the discussion believes that the lurkers with an interest in the discussion support their point of view. The last poster thinks they've given voice to a silent majority, while in the eyes of the person they're responding to, the last poster seems to be the only person holds a contrary point of view. As a lurker myself, I quite often say "my view is represented in the discussion, and that last objection to it wasn't worth my time, surely any sensible person agrees" but my silence is usually ineffective; people believe what they want to believe. —mjb 14:27, 11 September 2006 (UTC)
You misunderstand me. I meant people might think I am so far off base refuting me isn't worth their time as they may believe any sensible person would ignore such outlandish ideas. In a nutshell a lack of interest in a talk page dialog is not a show of consensus. My ideas are my own. I think they have merit and I try to act according to them. However I am well aware that other people may disagree with me. I can't force people to state their objections although I seem to spend a lot of time trying to cajole people into doing so. Silence after an edit to a well-watched policy page however is a demonstration of consensus. The only time I think people not participating in the dialog support my idea is when I observe them acting according to my idea elsewhere. You completely misrepresent my posistion above, I hope this clarifies it for you.--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 18:50, 11 September 2006 (UTC)

The adding it and seeing what happens is perfectly acceptable for someone who has a good knowledge of the way a particular policy works and is put into practice and is a reasonable, intelligent user changing it reflect that practice. If someone disagrees it will be reverted. People who are actually trying to radically change a policy or want to implement their peculiar view of it are the problem with bold changes. —Centrxtalk • 06:22, 11 September 2006 (UTC)

From what I've seen, most newcomers who attempt an edit are not out to radically change anything. Rather, they're reading the policy and not coming to exactly the same understanding of it as is held by its principal guardians, who find it hard to believe that a cringe-worthy heading like "self-published sources in articles about themselves", for example, could be considered awkwardly phrased or difficult to understand the nuances of. The reader, though, doesn't always find its meaning to be crystal-clear, so they attempt to divine the intent and publish a clarification accordingly. As far as I can tell, such changes are quickly reverted for 'no consensus'; there's no denying that bold edits are heavily discouraged around here, but only after the fact. Good faith is rarely assumed, and humility (of the "maybe if people keep trying to change it, it's not as cut-and-dry as we thought" variety) is almost nonexistent.—mjb 14:42, 11 September 2006 (UTC)
I would figure any newcomer would read the big box which says When editing this page, please ensure that your revision reflects consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page. I would further think that any newcomer would figure that maybe they should, as a newcomer, discuss any changes, or understand why their changes are reverted and they are instead invited here t discuss instead. Hiding Talk 21:08, 11 September 2006 (UTC)

Reliable source question

On the article page for WP:V it says:

Material from self-published sources, and other published sources of dubious reliability, may be used as sources of information about themselves in articles about themselves, so long as:

It is relevant to the person's or organization's notability; 
It is not contentious; 
It is not unduly self-serving; 
It does not involve claims about third parties, or about events not directly related to the subject; 
There is no reasonable doubt about who wrote it.

Does this mean that if I have a memoir written by someone I can use it to flesh out the article about him as long as I can post it to a family history site that is publicly accessible? I was under the impression I couldn't, but it came up in my FAR for John W. Johnston and in reading this clause more closely it sounds like I can? Thanks! --plange 21:41, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

I've looked at the FAC page and I'm not clear as to where the manuscript comes from and who verifies its provenance. For me, if you use it as things currently stand you may be in violation of original research. There was discussion on archived material, but your comments at the FAC page indicate this isn't even archived. Clarification of those issues would help. Hiding Talk 21:49, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
It's a typed manuscript written by John W. Johnston, the subject of the article, and was passed down in his family (I'm a descendant). I wouldn't be doing any OR since I would only be taking statements he made himself about his activities ("I went to school in a log cabin", etc); I wouldn't be analyzing it. It's a primary source, which is allowed, but it's not publicly accessible (unlike his memoirs of 13 years in the Senate, which is deposited at Duke's archives and so is accessible) and so isn't allowed under WP:V unless I can post it on the web (which I can do on a family history website), but wasn't sure if that would then qualify under WP:V rules. It has info that:
  • is relevant to the person's notability;
  • is not contentious;
  • is not unduly self-serving;
  • does not involve claims about third parties, or about events not directly related to the subject;
  • there is no reasonable doubt about who wrote it.
despite it falling under "Self-published and dubious sources in articles about themselves"
--plange 22:19, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
  • To me it constitutes original research and so fails on those grounds, because you are using unpublished material and placing it on the web yourself isn't publishing it for the purposes of WP:V. If it were, we'd accept any crackpot theory someone whacked up on the web. What you have to do is show verifiability. At the moment I only have your word that the manuscript exists and is what it purports to be. It'd have to be examined by experts in the field who pronounce it to be written by the subject for me to be satisfied it meets the final criterion. Therefore I think there are reasonable doubts as to the authorship. Hiding Talk 22:28, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
    • This may be excessive caution. We wouldn't insist, if we were talking about a modern politician, that uncontroversial claims on www.johnwjohnston.com wait for expert verification that it was really his website, and several articles have been written with genealogy websites as sources, because they're available.
    • That being said, this isn't a particularly good source, until it is validated. Both www.johnwjohnston.com and the genealogy website would be subject to challenge; and neither would be appropriate for a Featured Article. (Even when validated, they may be wrong: one of my ancestors said he was thirteen years older every census, i.e., every ten years.)
      • According to a recent discussion I had at WP:OR, it wouldn't matter if the validated information were correct. Verifiability is not about truth. In fact we will often throw out true information in order to add false information that can be verified. I think that it is rediculous, but it is what policy dictates. So accordingly, I don't think this point is valid, since it is not relevant whether or not the source is right or wrong. So long as it is verifiable, it is permissible. -- RM 20:38, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
    • I have, therefore, two suggestions: Take the manuscript, put it on the web as you suggest, and put the points you want to include in the Talk page. They may be sourceable elsewhere. In the long term, mention the manuscript to the nearest professor of American history; it may well be publishable. Septentrionalis 22:58, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
      • Those are the points I was driving at. Sources have to be evaluated case by case, we can't make a blanket judgement, and the point this fails on is the provenance point. Hiding Talk 08:33, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

Although this has no bearing to acceptabily as a source on WP. I wanted to let you know that you can put primary sources on Wikisource as long as you are the copyright owner and wish to do the free license thing. I would be best if the document could be scanned so others could proofread it etc. --Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 00:26, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

  • I just found this which states that they accept the provenance -- the manuscript they reference is the one I have -- don't know if this makes a difference? --plange 00:50, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Again, from my understanding, we only have your word that this is the same book. The issue of verifiability is that it should be relatively easy for someone to verify the source says what you say it does. So are there other copies of this work in existence and how easy is it for others outside your family to access are other factors to bear in mind. The page you link to doesn't help prove the provenance of the manuscript you have. If you can get it published it would be a lot easier. The point here is reasonable doubt, and at the minute reasonable doubt exists. Septentrionalis makes a good point, that you could place material on the talk page and see if it can be sourced elsewhere. But I think your best hope is to get it published. I'm not sure how else provenance can be ascribed, but I'm open to other ideas. Hiding Talk 08:33, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
    • This is an unusual set of circumstances. If this typescript had been posted on the Web by somebody else, and we had the same confirmation by google.com, would Hiding still object? Septentrionalis 16:09, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
      • What confirmation do we currently have from google? All we currently have is on one hand a published paper says x wrote an autobiography and on the other y claims to have the autobiography in question. We have no verifiable way of knowing that what "x" refers to is indeed "y". Are you suggesting that if I place any old text up and pretend it is the autobiography in question, we accept it as so? Let's be clear on this. At the moment, we only have the user in questions word that this document is the autobiography in question. The policy is quite clear on what we do in these situations: The readers don't know who you are. You can't include your telephone number so that every reader in the world can call you for confirmation. And even if they could, why should they believe you? Let's also not forget our policy on original research, which does, however, prohibit expert editors from drawing on their personal and direct knowledge if such knowledge is unverifiable. Wikipedia welcomes the contributions of experts, as long as these contributions come from verifiable (i.e. published) sources. Thus, if an editor has published the results of his or her research elsewhere, in a reputable publication, then the editor may cite that source while writing in the third person and complying with our NPOV policy. We have to ask ourselves, is this personal or direct knowledge or from a citable source? I believe it is from direct knowledge and thus requires publication in a reliable source before it can be used. Hiding Talk 21:52, 10 September 2006 (UTC)
I think the easiest method to add verifiability would be to authorise Google to provide a 'Full View' of the text, if this is something you are in power to do. This may require contacting the Randolph-Macon College. Once this makes the text more accessable, it will become to us a 'verifiable' source, since readers may check for themselves.
Note, if the manuscript you have is the 1918 edition, then that is now public domain, and you should be free to offer it for scanning and open republishing. I'm not too clear on if the 1951 edition may still be in copyright, but I suspect that Google are playing it safe in not assuming it is public domain. The Randolph-Macon College may be able to clarify that themselves, and authorise Google that it is a public domain document. --Barberio 13:19, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

This appear to me to not be a self-published text. But one that has later been edited and maintained by the Randolph-Macon College. If the Randolph-Macon College has a copy they can show to the public, then it is verifiable.

The current policy makes no requirement of the ease by which a reference can be verified. For instance, it can be hard to verifiy old newspaper articles or out of print books, but they are still verifiable. It is a misinterpretation of the requirment that every reader be able to verify the source, or that the source has been verified, just that the source is verifiable. This is an example of a very hard to verifiy document, but it is independantly verifiable if you can go to the Randolph-Macon College to examine the text. As the current policy stands, this still counts as being able to independantly verify the contents of the text. (note, the requirment is not that it has been verified, but that it can be verified.)

I'm not sure where this leaves us, or if this is even desirable, but that's the way the policy stands at the moment. And I think it may not be something we can 'clarify' by altering the page since it would be a change to the policy itself to add a requirment of easy accessability as well as verifiability.

I think the question of sources that are very hard to verifiy may need to be refered to the Wikimedia Foundation, or Jimbo.--Barberio 13:51, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

Sources that are very hard to verify are, effectively, not published. Randolph-Macon College has not published it anywhere. Old newspapers were indeed published at one time, and are available on microfilm in thousands of libaries. Jayjg (talk) 20:27, 12 September 2006 (UTC)
The issue here is that the requirment is publication by a reputable source.
  • Has this document been published? Yes, google books were able to see a copy and scan it in, and at least one editor has a copy themselves. There are coppies of this work available, but the scope of it's publication is unknown. It may only have been published in limited academic circles, and there may only be a handful of coppies.
  • Was it published by a reputable publisher? Yes, Randolph-Macon College is an accredited instituion. We can assume that they have published a work in good faith, and that it is what it claims to be, a collection of biographies written by a contempary.
As the policy currently stands, this makes it 'published by a reputable source'. Since it's a work by the subject of the article, it's also a suitable source under the current guidelines. Being 'effectively unpublished' is not covered by the current policy. --Barberio 21:10, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

(Comments coppied over from User talk:Jimbo Wales)

Well sure, such a source is acceptable. While we obviously tend to prefer online and widely circulated print sources because they're easiest to verify, such sources don't exist for all information. If someone – an appropriately credentialled researcher, if necessary – can readily gain access to a physical copy of the document in the library to confirm that it says what is claimed, then it is verifiable.
Note that an unpublished manuscript (of confirmed provenance) is a verifiable source, but not necessarily a reliable source for all purposes. That is, it can be taken to represent the opinions of the author (In an 1884 manuscript, John Smith reported that he hated cats because he believed they would eat his brainlink to citation.) but not as a reliable source of factual statements (Cats like to eat brainslink to citation.). TenOfAllTrades(talk) 15:30, 12 September 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. I think, as long as the source isn't classified (or sometimes even if it is restricted, but available) and can be accessed in a national library, or even some colleges, it may be used, as long as the claims are plausible. It's the way paper encyclopedias work, actually. For questionable claims such a hard to verify source probably would not fit, though. CP/M comm |Wikipedia Neutrality Project| 18:23, 12 September 2006 (UTC)
And it's not going to be used to put forth questionable claims, only things about the author himself ("I went to a log cabin school" can then be written as "Johnston attended a log cabin school")... Though he does write biographies of other family members in the same document (John Floyd (Virginia politician) and John B. Floyd and Joseph E. Johnston, just to name a few. These others are the ones that Randolph-Macon excerpted and published. Should I post it on the web so you guys can take a look? --plange 21:19, 12 September 2006 (UTC)
Actually, being born in a log cabin is one of those romantic stories that is told of and by people who weren't. Just an example of why we should be careful. Robert A.West (Talk) 21:44, 12 September 2006 (UTC)
Bad example (though mine was not being born in one but going to a log cabin school, which was very common) -- I was just using that as an example, I didn't mean it was what was in there. Actually, as a real example (which is much longer and that's why I used the other fake example), he talks about the name of the horse he rode to school every day and how he brought his lunch in a pail, etc. Sorry for the confusion --plange 23:21, 12 September 2006 (UTC)
Should I post it? --plange 14:34, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
My take is no. It won't help here, because there isn't verifiable evidence that it is what you claim it is, so any references to it would be dubious at best. The best way of being able to use it here would be if it were published by somebody other than yourself, and publishing it yourself may harm the chances of this being possible, as it diminishes the market for it. Have you approached any local-interest publishers in your area about publishing it? JulesH 14:44, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
Didn't mean for citing, just so people could compare it with the excerpts from Randolph-Macon. I'm pursuing publishing it, but since I don't live in Virginia I'm handicapped in knowing good possibilities. Anyone know of local-interest publishers in Virginia? --plange 14:58, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

(Unindent) Thanks everyone for helping to clarify this for me. I'm going to work on getting it published. Meanwhile, it has come to my attention that I might not even be able to use the primary source I already used that IS deposited at an archives. Johnston's Thirteen Years in the Senate is deposited at Duke University's Special Collections Department, and I assumed that it was useable because it's verifiable -- anyone can go there and verify it. Now I noticed that on WP:OR it's stated that only published primary sources are allowed and then when I investigated WP:RS it says the same thing. But yet here I've gotten the impression that this was acceptable. I'm really confused! --plange 23:13, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

Wanted to see if I might get clarification on this? I've brought this up at WP:OR (see Wikipedia_talk:No_original_research#Only_published_primary_sources.3F) and they've directed me back here. I also brought it up at WP:RS (See Wikipedia_talk:Reliable_sources#primary_sources_must_be_published.3F). The new question is, are primary documents housed at a reputable repository verifiable and so useable? Thanks! --plange 14:50, 26 September 2006 (UTC)
In my opinion, this is published. There is (I forget where) a legal precedent that "published" means "offered to members of the public who are not acting or considering acting on behalf of the author/owner/etc", which is clearly the case here. JulesH 15:29, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

Marcel Lefebvre

I invite interested parties to take a look at this page. One editor has added a huge number of footnotes (in one case, a single sentence has five individual footnotes). Unfortunately many of the footnotes are not from reliable scholarly sources; many are from anonymous undated webpages which may even have gotten their information from this very Wikipedia article. In my opinion this is a misuse of the Verifiability policy. One editor has stated his intention of removing every single phrase which is not individually footnoted. If this caught on, then Wikipedia would be about 1% of the size it is now. I invite others to comment on Talk:Marcel_Lefebvre. Noel S McFerran 01:50, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

Reference neccesary for short articles without controversial information?

Would it be appropriate for a biographical article that contains nothing more than DOB, names of spouse/children, and education and key positions, with dates to not contain a single reference?

This information is obviously taken from somewhere, and the truthfulness of the facts could be easily verified by a simple web search. But the information is also not controversial. Does an article that contains just this basic information need a reference? Patiwat 18:36, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

Sure it needs a reference, as per WP:V... Add the {{unreferenced}} tag at the top of the page and hopefully someone will add such a reference. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 19:29, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestion. I've used {{unreferenced}}, but keep on getting reverted, with claims that the tag is unneccesary for easily verified facts and uncontroversial information. I also keep getting told that the tag is ugly and unduly damages Wikipedia's credibility. Patiwat 19:47, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
So why not look it up and add the reference, if it is as simple as a quick web search? Or tell me which article, and maybe I will. dryguy 19:58, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
Two remarks. First, if that is all there is to say on the person, does the subject pass WP:BIO? Second, if you cannot readily confirm the information, it may not be accurate. In that case an AFD will either spur someone to find appropriate references, or expose the article as inappropriate for Wikipedia. Robert A.West (Talk) 21:31, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
What is the name of the article in question? ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 21:40, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
A whole bunch of articles in the Thai Wikipedia. There is currently a debate there about when an article needs a reference, and when an article deserves the {{unreferenced}} tag. Most, but not all of the posts have been in Thai. Patiwat 21:50, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

Asking: factors to include information

The factors which a piece of information must satisfy to be used in Wikipedia are:

  • Published
  • Reliable Source (such publication must be by a reliable source)
  • Verifiable (the information it self must be verifiable as as having been published by the reliable source)
    But the source of publication need not be verified, is this correct? That is, an out of print book could be cited if the information being included in Wikipedia were from the book, but republished more modernly? Thence the information could be verified, but not verified to the original publication. Though the more recent publication quotes and cites the earlier, out of print publication ? Then we can cite to the original, out of print publication ?Terryeo 23:02, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
Verifiability simply means that the document must be capable of being verified. Ease of verifiability isn't a criterion in WP:V, and quite rightly so. Editors may well need to quote rare works in specialist libraries (see e.g. Crushing by elephant, which quotes a number of rare 19th century British books). Such works are clearly verifiable, but you might have to travel a long way to be able to do that, or else engage someone else to do so on your behalf. -- ChrisO 23:21, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
Okay, in the Crushing by elephant article, citation 11, Robert Knox, London, 1681. The original publisher of that book is not cited, is that right? The author, Robert Knox, is cited and the city of publication, London, and the year of publication, but the out of print book's original publisher is not cited ? So then, the information within an out of print book can be referenced in that manner even though the original publisher of the book can not be provided ? Then, as much information as possible about the original publication is provided ? Terryeo 00:29, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
According to the British Library catalogue, the 1681 book was published by "R. Chiswell". That's probably the name of the owner of the shop in which it was printed, no doubt at Knox's expense. R. Chiswell wouldn't have been a "publisher" - the modern system of publishers didn't exist back then. The publisher information actually isn't that important. It's nice to have, but the author's name, book title and year of information are the only bits of data that are really essential. -- ChrisO 00:41, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
TerryO's link is to a site which contains a full text of the book, and (aince it's Project Gutenberg) is fairly reliable. Furthermore, it was reprinted in 1911, and the reprint is in a couple dozen major libraries. Interlibrary loans are cheap. Septentrionalis 03:08, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

What is the policy on the verifiability of archived news sources that are pay for only? I've found that Google news is capable of searching such archives [6], but you have to pay to access the articles. I'm willing to do this (I see it as a boon for researching tons of articles, too), but somebody would have to pay to verify the sourcing. — pd_THOR | =/\= | 02:21, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

I have a potentially similar situation - I have free home access to Britannica, Times Digital Archive etc. via my local library, and free Lexis-Nexis access via a couple of academic libraries of which I'm a member. These are all pay-per-use resources, though I'm lucky in that I don't have to pay a penny. However, as I said in the discussion above, "Verifiability simply means that the document must be capable of being verified. Ease of verifiability isn't a criterion in WP:V, and quite rightly so." If you think about it, books are "pay for" only as well, so it's not an issue that's limited to archived news sources alone. -- ChrisO 02:28, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
I don't think pay-site should be discussed in this policy. Nevertheless, as a jmatter of helping the reader, linking free sources, like the Christian Science Monitor, is preferable to linking the Wall Street Journal when both contain the necessary information. Also, as I comment above, books can be gotten for free with time and some inconvenience; there are websites, like much of the New Republic which are literally unavailable in print or without payment (and to which few libraries subscribe). Septentrionalis 03:14, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
I would prefer to use the most reliable/authoritative source you have access to, rather than the most accessible. You may have to pay for Google News to find the source with their search feature. But once you have cited it others can likely verify it at a library. Libraries keep archives of papers like the Walll Street Journal as well as books. I don't believe that the preference should be for convenience.--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 11:54, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
I agree, especially if there's no other source for the information --plange 15:05, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
No reason not to use both sources, but in general I agree. Much of the work I've done on PublishAmerica is sourced from newspaper & magazine articles that are in pay-for-access archives now. JulesH 19:39, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. As per Brigitte's "the most reliable/authoritative source you have access to, rather than the most accessible". ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 01:24, 16 September 2006 (UTC)
Also, as I've pointed out many times, a lot of people are unaware that they can get free access to many databases from home through their public library. Most public libraries in English-speaking North America subscribe to Thomson Gale's Infotrac OneFile and the ProQuest Historical Newspapers New York Times archive, as well as EBSCO. Many of the articles available through the new Google News Search feature for news archives have been available on databases directly accessible through library OPACs for about a decade. In my experience, ProQuest and LexisNexis are the most comprehensive (which is why few libraries can afford to subscribe to all of their content). --Coolcaesar 01:58, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

Long Discussion moved from WP:ANI

What is this recent fetish with "verifiability" and having footnotes in every article these days? Not even the most minor article will be spared tagging with "unreferenced" if you dont provide any. When I started editing Wikipedia (on another account, I forgot the name) nobody gave a thought about footnotes and sources. Did something change?Pewlosels 04:58, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

In response, to cite the official policy..."The burden of evidence lies with the editors who have made an edit or wish an edit to remain. Editors should therefore provide references. If an article topic has no reputable, reliable, third-party sources, Wikipedia should not have an article on that topic." I see the calls for verifiability as based on this policy and the underlying call for quality edits. Kukini 05:01, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Yes, thanks. But that policy has been part of Wikipedia as long as I can remember (pre 2005) and last year nobody really made too much a fuss over it, except on high-profile articles. Now people cite WP:V ad nauseam even in regard to obscure ones. So my question is, why the shift?Pewlosels 05:04, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
A lot more people are editing Wikipedia now, and many are trying to insert uncited garbage. The obvious response is to tighten down the standards. Fan-1967 05:07, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
A great example of the type of article where this can become a REAL issue is here [7]. Kukini 05:09, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
  • But in doing this aren't you kind of scaring off the "newbies," i.e., engaging in "newbie biting," with those new user's euphoria in making edits to Wikipedia tempered by constant assertions of WP:V? It might be seen as demeaning to their new contributions, especially if their proud first few edits, even if of quality, are derided for being "unsourced."Pewlosels 05:13, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
I see it as a learning process for us all, but especially for new editors to wikipedia. I actually experienced something like this when I began as well. This is why I also believe in leaving detailed welcomes for newcomers to help them learn how to edit effectively within the community. Kukini 05:48, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

Thus spoke Jimbo Wales (paraphrasing): "we have high quantity, now let's focus on quality." Quarl (talk) 2006-09-18 07:28Z

See WP:DC. It's more important to have 1,000,000 Good Articles than to have 1,000,000 unreferenced stub articles.--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 07:54, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

Anyone who does OTRS will tell you, we have a fair number of valid complaints from subjects of bios about libels and false information being inserted into articles. It is imperative that WP:V be enforced ruthlessly and with full rigour on such articles. Frankly, better to risk a biting a newbie than risk actionable defamation in our encyclopedia. --Doc 09:22, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

Exactly. It's much more important to make sure that articles on a very popular encyclopedia website have verifiable content than it is to make sure a newbie doesn't get his/her feelings hurt.--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 09:26, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
These things are not mutually exclusive. Newbies, which everyone was once, learn fastest when educated. Part of that education is being asked for citations. It comes down to being not just civil, but being useful with comments on talk pages. "Teach a man to fish...." Fiddle Faddle 09:53, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
We need to diferentiate between the clueless newbie making good but unsourced contributions and the POV driven slanderer. Basically, to protect the subject, I'm arguing for a hard line WP:V on bios - as WP:LIVING indicates, it it is negative and uncited, remove it. Outside biographical info, I'm happy to be a bit of an soft-line eventualist - removing probably true things because there is no cite, makes zero sense.--Doc 10:34, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia is evolving into a reliable encyclopedia better than Britannica. Verifiability is part of how we get there. That said, don't delete things you know are true, but don't restore (without an adequate source) inadequately sourced content another has deleted because they do question if it is true. Tell newbies unsourced stuff will eventually be sourced or deleted, but this is a coorperative venture and different people are good at different things so its ok to add stuff that someone else will either source or delete just as it is ok to add some data to an article without having to be responsible for making it perfect. WAS 4.250 10:01, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

WP:V is a key policy, and should remain so. On the other hand, new users are an important resource -- the problem is less about whether we should implement the policy, but more about how we do so. Are we scaring off new users and helpful contributors? How would this affect our public image? Is it a problem? How can we do better? That's more the angle I'm looking at. Luna Santin 10:09, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
This is not a social networking site - we are not out to recruit as many users as possible as Myspace is. Recruiting and retaining users is merely a means to an end, that being writing the encyclopaedia. Writing articles to the standard that is becoming less of a misty-eyed dream and more of a requirement takes some effort - I wouldn't say it's hard, but the fact that everyone can write something here does not mean that everyone should. If we scare off people because they can't or won't write encyclopaedia articles that comply with the cornerstone policies, well, that's not really a significant loss, though it may slow down the proliferation of fancruft. "Quality, not quantity" does not just apply to our articles - it also applies to our users. --Sam Blanning(talk) 15:06, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

The way I see it, Wikipedia is becoming no longer the online encyclopedia "anyone can edit" -- which makes it fun. Its more like the encyclopedia "anyone can edit, with footnotes and sources," which really makes working on Wikipedia more like working on a school term paper. Therefore, more tedious, less fun, and less likely to attract new contributors. Pewlosels 21:52, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

While I don't want to sound like a PE teacher from the 1950s, it's not exactly meant to be fun; though personally, I find writing sourced encyclopaedia articles interesting and rewarding. I can think of three important differences between this and homework; a) I can choose what I write about; b) what I write can be seen by anyone interested in the subject with an Internet connection, not just by the long-suffering teacher being paid to and c) whoever reads it hasn't just read the same thing from the 19 other bored kids in my class.
The fact is, not everyone will want to spend their time writing an encyclopaedia. The best we can do is create a community that allows those that do to get on with it and makes them feel appreciated when they succeed; if we tried to make it "fun" we'd probably either fail badly or turn Wikipedia into something it's not meant to be. --Sam Blanning(talk) 23:27, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
Without sources, it ceases being an encyclopedia and becomes a pile of crap. If you want to edit a pile of crap, EncyclopediaDramatica is available. But this is Wikipedia. If newbies are being bitten, then bitten they must be. This project exists for the work, not the poor newbies who don't get to write about their pet cat. --Golbez 04:00, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
Verifiability is a very good policy to have when the accuracy of information is disputed or when it is about a living person and thus needs to be referenced... but I do think we go too far when people start putting 'cite' tags on every fact of which they were personally unaware - or even those they have heard of but don't have a reference for. Yes, eventually it would be wonderful to have direct easily verifiable references for every single fact stated in Wikipedia (though I note that Brittanica and the like go nowhere near that far), but insisting on such when there is no pressing need goes against what made Wikipedia such a major site. If we deleted everything which isn't properly referenced 90% of the encyclopedia would be gone and we wouldn't be so very popular. The vast majority of Wikipedia was and is written by those newbies who 'must' be bitten. As others have said above, we should use verifiability as a cudgel when it is needed to settle a dispute about accuracy or to avoid libelous comments, but the rest of the time we should just have faith that we will get there eventually. That's the root concept of wiki collaboration. We don't delete completely unreferenced three sentence stubs because eventually they can, and do, grow into perfectly sourced featured articles. Removing valid information during the 'transition' just annoys the people working on it and slows the process. --CBD 11:34, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
  • yes, that's exactly what I was getting at. I think the WP:V is being used as a weapon to harrass and annoy other editors, like for example when someone slaps an {{unsourced}} tag on the line "the sky on earth is blue," or some such! Pewlosels 19:56, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

In some areas, it's brutal. Try editing any article related to Israel/Palestine/Jewish issues. There, even footnotes aren't enough. If the info isn't pro-Israel, editors are held to a very high standard. Otherwise, expect a tag-team revert. Read through Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Israeli apartheid for a picture of how this works in practice. It's a group WP:OWN thing. This intimidates many editors.

It's tough to deal with a group WP:OWN problem. We have 3RR to deal with individuals trying to exert ownership, but we don't have a mechanism or policy in place to deal with teams. So we end up in messy arbitration proceedings, which wear down everyone not seriously committed to the issue. This leads to articles edited only by the most determined editors, who, inevitably, are the most partisan ones. --John Nagle 22:01, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

"We have 3RR to deal with individuals trying to exert ownership, but we don't have a mechanism or policy in place to deal with teams." Yes. But this is precisely how consensus makes itself effective in practice. Do you have a solution that isn't worse than the problem? I don't. WAS 4.250 22:15, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
John is one of those partisans who is part of the problem. For example, he will delete properly sourced and verifiable quotes because he believes the TRUTH to be something else. Jayjg (talk) 22:33, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
Where does any Wikipedia WP:NPOV policy text forbid removing a properly sourced and verifiable quote that is unfairly biased against what reasonable people know to be true? --Rednblu 23:02, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
I didn't mention names, but now I suppose I have to. Some of the usual suspects, those admonished in a recent arbitration, keep popping up in this context. From Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/Israeli_apartheid#Administrators_admonished: "Humus sapiens, ChrisO, Kim van der Linde, SlimVirgin, and Jayjg are reminded to use mediation and other dispute resolution procedures sooner when conflicts occur." The commentary at Talk:New_anti-Semitism#Gable quote illustrates how they operate. Now that's group WP:OWN. It's not "consensus", it's just a small group with enough people that they can collectively get around 3RR. There's a messy RfA in progress over that article, which I wasn't aware of until today, having been off doing other things. --John Nagle 23:10, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
Let's avoid names if we can. There are a lot of unexpendable editors here. But there are undesirable patterns, yes. What fixes to Wikipedia policy would get the work done without us having to organize these undesirable patterns to create and protect good encyclopedia pages? --Rednblu 23:28, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
Re. the names cited by John: Kim van der Linde isn't actually part of the group, and has more or less left Wikipedia: "I left primarily because of the anti-expert atmosphere at Wikipedia and its incapability to maintain the quality of articles over time. The way people like SlimVirgin treated me contributed to me leaving, but was not the prime reason." ([8])
Note that the same group "owns" the WP:V policy (so moving this discussion to the WP:V talk page has no guaranteed success you're actually talking to the right party on this topic). I tried to expose that ownership of WP:V some time ago, the evidence was removed. Of course I can post some pointers to that, which I'll do here: [9] [10] - and of course mediation was refused: [11] [12]
The point is that WP:V (and I mean foremost the parts where some fuzzy logic is developed regarding "unreliable" = "self-published" = "probably extremist or at least fringe" = "removable on sight unless in its own article") is written "tailormade" for those groups in society that have the largest financial means: how more prestigious (theoretically used as a synonym to "peer-reviewed", but in this context almost used as a synonym of "expensive") a publication is, the more it de facto can be considered reliable according to the current group of owners of the WP:V page. This comes in very handy for pressure groups and ideologies that have more fincancial means to publish in English speaking countries than their opponents: Jews (vs. Arabs); Scientology (vs. those duped by Scientology); Objectivism (sorry Jimbo); etc... And this causes a lot of trouble in Wikipedia, the Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Israel-Lebanon case is only one of many examples. Concluding: a root for all this trouble I'd like to see excluded from WP:V is the hacksaw definitions of "reliable" vs. "unreliable" sources: there are no wholesale definitions of "reliable" vs. "unreliable" in this sense. Assessing the reliability of sources has to take account of several parameters: "self-publication" may be one of these parameters, but it's not the only one. So, again, like I've done some times before, I propose to move all descriptions of how to discern "reliable" and "unreliable" sources from WP:V to WP:RS, where these descriptions belong, and where they can be discussed at guideline level, while there are no "absolutes" regarding the reliability of sources, and while a WP:V policy that contains such "absolute" distinctions has, over time, become a fraud w.r.t. WP:NPOV. --Francis Schonken 09:25, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
Two points. First we have, the threshold of inclusion is verifiability which is not actually the situation because any personal website might have a verifiable quotation, i.e, the moon is made of green cheese, which would be verifiable, but not reliable. When WP:V states, "the threshold for inclusion is verifiability", it misleads editors into thinking that is the actual situation. But that is not the actual situation. The threshold for inclusion is reliability. The second point is that to place not truth up against the threshold for inclusion is verifiability is confusing and misleading because it fixes an editors attention on finding verifiable information. "Truth" is not a factor at all, WP:NPOV makes clear that Wikipedia is to deal with published information, the idea of NPOV is how to present one man's truth up against another man's truth. WP:V, therefore, should not deal with "truth" at all, but with a definition of verifiability and a definition of reliability. If WP:V does not deal with these two, it then fails and the situation has to be delt with at WP:RS (reliable sources). And that leads to editors saying, "oh, that's just a guideline" and ignoring it, in favor of "VERIFIABLE". — Preceding unsigned comment added by Terryeo (talkcontribs) 20:07, 22 September 2006
Two points:
  1. The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability (not "reliability": whether, for example, "pseudoscience" is "reliable" is irrelevant as an inclusion criterion for Wikipedia - see for example Wikipedia:Neutral point of view/FAQ#Pseudoscience: it is nowhere written that all info regarding "pseudoscience" should be excluded from Wikipedia, while "pseudoscience" would be "unreliable" in the eyes of some people);
  2. Verifiability, not truth ("truth" is a philosophical notion, of no use in a tertiary source that wants to describe several philosophies – and religions – each with their own truth; selecting one or more of these conflicting philosophies/religions as "true" is a breach of WP:NPOV, and would deteriorate Wikipedia's over-all quality).
If you don't like it, see Wikipedia:Mirrors and forks (in other words: you can start your own wiki/website, with other rules). --Francis Schonken 05:47, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

Wow, this discussion is getting pretty long. Shouldn't it be moved from here to WP:V's talk page?--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 23:04, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

Banning polemics

I suggest that polemical articles that lack concrete proof for their assertions should be banned as unverifiable. My thoughts drift to unverifiable conspiracy theories or saying that someone believes such and such even though it cannot be directly proven through their writings or claims made by close associates. Allowing cheap polemics on either the left or the right to be considered WP:V undermines Wikipedia's credibility and reduces the WP:NPOV to the level of a joke. I would grant an exception if is in an article about the person who makes the claims. Allowing assertions to pass muster makes casual readers look at Wikipedia as a joke, which betrays Jimbo Wales' vision for the concept. Let's declare factually unverifiable polemics verboten.--Pravknight 17:08, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

Can you explain what you mean by "polemical articles"? Is this an existing problem or a therorectical one? If existing, do you have any examples?--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 17:17, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
If properly applied, the content policies already deal with this. There's nothing novel that could be added to the policies that would somehow stop polemics from coming in the door. Marskell 17:21, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. Polemics, by definition, violate WP:NPOV, so are already banned. If they are a personal viewpoint, they also violate WP:NOR, so are already banned. If unsupported by evidence, they violate this policy as well for a trifecta. Any editor can fix, prod or AFD such an article as he or she thinks appropriate. Robert A.West (Talk) 20:18, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
How are polemics banned by WP:NPOV? As long as it a significant viewpoint from a reliable source, all points of view are to be covered; WP:NPOV expressly calls for this. FeloniousMonk 20:57, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
Not when admins introduce the polemics and persecute editors who exercise professional judgment to revise or remove polemical materials. I write and edit for a living, so when I see some of this stuff, combined with the lack of professionalism on the part of many admins and editors, I cringe.
I think a more plain-language approach would work because to answer Birgitte's question, yes I've seen polemics used as source material. However, the involved individuals who I will not name because I don't want to get into WP:NPA consistently argue their polemics are WP:V compliant. Their rationale was the polemic was made by a group tied with a reputable university. One would think better points that illustrate certain perspectives could be made without sourcing polemics.
What can we do to make this more cut and dry, so we can eliminate some of the Wikilawyering?
--Pravknight 20:20, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
This proposal yet another one to reshape policy, all prompted by Pravknight's campaign to remove criticism from his personal friend's article, Paul Weyrich, as detailed in his user conduct RFC: Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Pravknight. FeloniousMonk 20:57, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
I'm a bit confused by FM's question above, "How are polemics banned by WP:NPOV?" My copy of the American Heritage Dictionary gives the following: "A controversy or argument, especially one that is a refutation of or an attack upon a specified opinion, doctrine or the like." A polemic is, by definition, not attempting to cover all sides of the argument fairly -- it is advocacy. If Pravknight, or any other editor, is trying to remove fair and verifiable criticism from an article (or to give undue weight to verifiable criticism), that is polemical and is prohibited by NPOV. What am I missing? Robert A.West (Talk) 03:52, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

DFTT ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 04:31, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

VERIFIED

there is a tag asking for varaiiability on the page about overclocking, i would like to say that YES one can catch their (or their highschool's) computer onfire(atleast by the where there is smoke there is fire... copious amounts of smoke) by overclocking — Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.52.224.118 (talkcontribs)

Hmmm. I'm familar with hardware. There are implementations which allow a software setting of the clock speed of a processor. But this isn't commonly accessible and especially isn't commonly accessible in a public use (or school) computer. It would be poor systems administrator who allowed a user to overclock a public computer. Then, if a computer was set to overclock there are other tempreture sensing functions which come into play. Generally, an integrated circuit will cease to function when it gets too hot and can not function until it catches something on fire. In short, I don't believe it. heh. Terryeo 19:53, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
I'm sure it happens from time to time, just as computers catching fire without overclocking does occasionally. But why its being discussed here is beyond me...! :) JulesH 07:45, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

To the original poster - You're misunderstanding what this page is for, and what you're supposed to do. As far as anyone can tell, you, being an anonymous user of Wikipedia, are not a reliable source of information about the risks of overclocking. If you were the author of an article published in, say, a reputable magazine for overclocking enthusiasts or the Washington Post or something, then perhaps a reader of the article would consider you to be an authority, but you'd also be a "primary source" providing firsthand information here, which generally isn't allowed since you'd still need to give people a way to verify that you know what you're talking about…and if you did that without having it published elsewhere first, then you'd be using Wikipedia to publish your original research, which is likewise frowned upon. Ideally, rather than providing your firsthand info, you would have access to some other published, reliable source, and you would cite it in the article as per Wikipedia conventions; this what the verifiability policy (for which this Talk page exists) says you should do. Don't come here and post unverifiable anecdotes to 'verify' a claim made in an article; post verifiable information in the article itself. Read the pages I linked to for more info. —mjb 20:00, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

Byron Allen, Marcus Allen, Ronnie Lott and College Cheating

I have a link to an interview on a site for a Byron Allen interview of Ronnie Lott that I had first seen on late night television. People keep deleting it. In the interview Ronnie Lott brags about himself and Marcus Allen cheating with the help of Byron Allen. Now the site still exists but the video seems to be disabled. Does the fact go away? --Gbleem 20:04, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

No. Insert a reference of the form "title of program, production company, channel broadcast on, broadcast on date of broadcast". Broadcasting is publication, and therefore the source is acceptable according to the standards here. JulesH 07:49, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
The problem with using programs is that, unless they are available on videotape/disk/web, they are impractical for others to verify, and if the source cannot be verified with reasonable effort, it does not meet the purpose of this policy. If the program or transcripts are available (as many programs are), then an indication of how to obtain one would be helpful. Robert A.West (Talk) 16:15, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
Where does this policy say the source must be verified with reasonable effort? --Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 17:05, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
My suspicion is that if the reader attempting to verify the information were to contact the production company, they would be able to confirm whether or not the summary given was accurate or not, so all the information necessary to verify is included in such a citation. JulesH 18:29, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

"Third party hearsay"

A ZDnet article quoted, with much scorn, the example of "famous physicist's Theory X" from this page. While it makes a good point about the importance of third-party verifiability, it opens itself to ridicule by limiting verifiable sources to "reputable news organizations". But in this context, where the question of fact is whether Famous Physicist actually said something, surely an equally verifiable source would be a public statement the scientist made on his own website, or in some other medium where his identity is not in question.

I suggest the example is extended to include the possibilty of such sources. – Smyth\talk 10:42, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

If you reread the policy, I think you'll find that it is possible to include such a statement, because the scientist is a "professional researcher in a relevant field", and is therefore one of the exceptions from the self-publication rule. There are many problems with this policy, IMO, but that ain't one.
Frankly, the article strikes me as hot air put out by somebody who doesn't understand what an encyclopedia is. All encyclopedias have always relied on external sources of knowledge -- their purpose is to summarise what those sources say in a convenient, easily referenced fashion. JulesH 14:29, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
To what extent should policies be written for the clueless? Given that it is an example, perhaps it could be tweaked slightly. Robert A.West (Talk) 16:23, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
For the benefit of those (like the ZDNET guy) who need a cluestick: I mentioned that the scientist could publish his own retraction, preferably in a peer-reviewed journal. I think to tweak further would be silly, but I cannot imagine any conceivable controversy about my edit. Robert A.West (Talk) 16:30, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

JulesH, the relevant exception to the self-publication rule is: "Material from self-published sources, whether published online or as a book or pamphlet, may be used as sources of information about themselves in articles about themselves, so long as there is no reasonable doubt about who wrote it, and where the material is [...] relevant to the person's notability" and "reported as the POV of the publisher". – Smyth\talk 17:03, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

There are two exceptions, the other being:
Exceptions may be when a well-known, professional researcher in a relevant field, or a well-known professional journalist has produced self-published material. In some cases, these may be acceptable as sources, so long as their work has been previously published by reliable third-party publications.
I read the policy as stating that these exceptions are two separate cases where self-published sources are acceptable, not two conditions that must both be fulfilled in order to use such a source. This section needs a lot of work, IMO, but this is one case where it does work, at least the way I read it. JulesH 18:22, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

I agree. – Smyth\talk 18:58, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

I have read the ZDNet blog entry several times, and I am still struggling to figure out exactly what their objection is. Surely it is obvious that in the scenario quoted, the obstacle is not "Famous Physicist now disavows Theory X" but "we have no reason to believe FP disavows Theory X except the word of one person who claimed an unprovable personal communication to that effect"? The headline just adds to the confusion, because if anything, the fact that we wouldn't add "Famous Physicist now disavows Theory X" just because Wikipedian Q claimed FP said that in person means that Wikipedia isn't accepting "third party hearsay". ... Frankly, the only theory that really makes sense to me is that someone just wanted to bash Wikipedia and didn't care from which side they did it. And that impression is reinforced by the fact that Daniel Brandt is an early replier... -- Antaeus Feldspar 03:51, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

About preferring the original sources over hear-say: Currently some editors of WP:NOR are pushing for inclusion of the following sentence there:

Articles which draw predominantly on primary sources are generally discouraged, in favor of articles based predominantly on secondary sources

IMO that sentence not only doesn't belong there but it even may cause conflict with WP:NPOV as well as WP:V, exactly because it may easily lead to preference of hear-say over the verifiable facts. Please comment on its Talk page [13] —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Harald88 (talkcontribs) .

"Hearsay" is not an acceptable secondary source, so I think you're conflating two separate issues here. Basing articles predominantly on reliable secondary sources is preferred, because secondary sources can do the kinds of analysis and interpretation that would be original research if done by Wikipedia editors. Let me put it to you this way: The United States Constitution is a primary source that just about anyone can get hold of if they have a web connection. Which do you want the article on the Constitution to be based on:
  • Wikipedia editors' interpretations of that primary source, or
  • Reliable secondary sources such as the Supreme Court of the United States and Constitutional scholars, interpreting and analyzing that primary source?
If a secondary source is really obviously clearly misinterpreting the primary source, then that's a problem with the secondary source, not with having a preference for secondary sources. Even then, however, I'm willing to bet that in a sizable number of cases where a Wikipedia editor swears a secondary source is drawing the "wrong" conclusions from the primary source, it's actually the Wikipedia editor whose understanding of the primary source is less than perfect. -- Antaeus Feldspar 04:07, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
Your above example is misplaced, since editor's opinions are irrelevant and are not allowed as source (see WP:NOR!). What is preferred is reliable sources that are relevant for the stated claims (WP:Reliable_sources).
And a secondary source that paraphrases a primary source definitely ís hearsay. It's unacceptable as reliable source for the primary information, and it's generally expected that writers of any article do their homework by verifying (WP:V!) the original sources as well as possible. IOW, I'm certainly not conflating issues here!
Articles must base their information on the relevant sources, which implies verifying primary information (data and original opinions) as well as secondary information (later analyses and reviews) from the original sources. Relying on posssibly erroneous accounts is not acceptable for an encyclopedia, and certainly not for Wikipdia especially because of WP:V.
If indeed this is insufficently clear, I propose to add a paragraph about this to the policy. Harald88 20:40, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
First, you are wrong about the definition of hearsay. If the issue is whether X made statement P, then testimony by Y is not hearsay. It is first-hand testimony about the contents of the conversation or writing. Hearsay comes into play when Z says that he believes P to be true because X said so, or when the jury is apt to take Z's testimony as proof of the truth of P.
The term you want is "best evidence". Yes, a primary source is generally better evidence for the contents of the primary source than any secondary source could be, but there are exceptions. The primary source may not be sufficiently available to allow verification. For older texts written in obsolete scripts, the primary source may require special skills to read. The list goes on.
Second, hearsay is a courtroom concept, not a Wikipedia concept. We are concerned with primary and secondary sources. In many cases (i.e. the writings of Herodotus), even our primary sources are actually hearsay. So what? That is a valid critique, and classical scholars deal with it, which is one important reason we rely on secondary sources, but we would engage in original research if we tried to make such determinations ourselves.
In Wikipedia terms, if a secondary source (Y) is reliable about the interpretation and consequences of the fact that X said P, then Y's quotation or paraphrase is perforce reliable. Any editor is free to provide a better source, if available, but there is no reason to reject a valid source. Robert A.West (Talk) 17:25, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Verifiability, not truth

What would people think of separating these two ideas and presenting them independently? Obviously Wikipedia information must be verifiable, which means "previously published by a reliable source". But when placed against "not truth", the two ideas seem to be in contradiction to each other. Instead, the reality is, almost all known "truth" is broadly published and verifiable. It is going to be rare to find a "truth" which is not published and could not be verified. Yes, there might be some exception and it is a different concept. But I believe the idea of verifiabilty will communicate to the editor better if the idea is presented by itself, on its own grounds. Terryeo 20:55, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

I think what it actually means is Only truth which is verifiable. So we could say that. Stephen B Streater 21:12, 24 September 2006 (UTC)
Okay. I'm trying to, you know, reduce confusion and not create confusion. Terryeo 21:30, 24 September 2006 (UTC)
I have always taken the distinction as a guard against those who believe themselves in possession of The Truthtm, and who believe that Wikipedia must reflect that viewpoint. We aren't trying to determine the truth -- we are reporting what experts believe about the truth. Robert A.West (Talk) 01:03, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
May I make a small distinction, please. We are reporting what experts have published in reliable sources, in regard to their thinking about "the truth", yes ? Terryeo 04:25, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
My main problem with this phrasing is that a small but persistent minority reads it and interprets it as "Wikipedia doesn't care about the truth". I'd certainly support changing it to something that doesn't have that issue. JulesH 15:49, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
I agree that there's something unnecessarily jarring about the juxtaposition of verifiability and truth there. Verifiability for me is only a first step; in working on an article, I may check if a verified source is accurate. I may replace it with another statement based on a source or sources which show it to have been false. (I'm not talking about controversial articles here, like Islamophobia, but about factual ones.)qp10qp 16:16, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
How about, only information which can be verified as being reliable ? This doesn't use "truth" at all but substitutes "information". I've never liked directing editor's attention toward The TruthTM because it tends to be inflammatory in areas of religion and politics.

How about, not truth, but verifiable truth'? – Smyth\talk 20:22, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

Seems better. "Not just..." might be even less dualistic. -- nae'blis 20:28, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
Leaves us vulnerable to the crank who insists that the rest of us can't know the truth about his private system unless we take fifteen years to learn his notation and examine "the complete file". He's right; we can't. We can know that nobody else has been persuaded by him, however. Septentrionalis 20:39, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
Not just truth, but reliably published, verifiable truth ? Terryeo 21:20, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
I've changed the statement in the article page by just dropping the, "not truth" which appears later in the article, anyway. Let's discuss. My interest is in making the article both easy to understand and difficult to misunderstand. Terryeo 14:19, 26 September 2006 (UTC)
I don't like this change. The point of "verifiability, not truth" is that it cuts off arguments that say "Yes, I know the New York Times says that X is true, but the NYT is wrong, so we don't need to include it." TheronJ 14:25, 26 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, but if the consensus of editors is that the NYT is wrong, then we should not include it. JulesH 15:31, 26 September 2006 (UTC)
OKay, but my experience has been that if the NYT is wrong, a handful of editors become tendentious and insist that the wrong statement be included because A) it was published and meets verifiability and B) shows how beanbrained the NYT can be. Terryeo 15:44, 26 September 2006 (UTC)
Without meaning to take either side in this discussion, I would point out that WP:Five Pillars is worded to state that verifiability, not truth, is the guiding principle. Since WP:V is basically the expression of that principle as a policy, it seems to me this issue would need to be decided at Wikipedia_talk:Five pillars, not here. dryguy 20:45, 26 September 2006 (UTC)
No it isn't. It says "all editors must [...] strive for accuracy", and doesn't mention truth other than in discussing NPOV. Besides, Five Pillars isn't policy; it's an introduction to the policies. If a policy page is changed, it should be updated to reflect that, but that shouldn't stop us changing policy pages. JulesH 08:33, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
"Truth" is a very slippery concept in any case, as what you perceive as truth depends to a great deal on your preconceived POV. Terryeo will know this better than most, I think, given his philosophical leanings. The "not truth" clause is a vital part of NPOV: we don't take a stand on whether a claim is true or not, we simply present the verifiable facts (or claimed facts).
To give an example that's close to home for Terryeo's concerns, in L. Ron Hubbard we note the verifiable facts that (a) Hubbard claimed to have sunk two Japanese submarines off Oregon in 1942, and (b) the US Navy said that he'd spent two days bombarding a known magnetic deposit on the seabed. The Scientologists claim that the "truth" is that this was just part of a US government conspiracy to defame Hubbard. Hubbard's critics regard the "truth" as being that Hubbard was an incompetent nitwit. We don't state a preference for either "truth", instead just reporting the verifiable facts listed at (a) and (b). In other words, we're neutral between these two conflicting "truths". -- ChrisO 00:03, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Heh, close to home. But you didn't mention Contract Bridge and my BBO article. I would be for just dropping "not truth" from the statement altogether because, as ChrisO illustrates, it has little bearing in actual application. "Truth" could be treated in a separate paragraph. There's just too much that is emotionally rousing about "truth", to jarringly present it next to "verifiability", which is our foundational concept. Terryeo 01:04, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
You miss the point, I'm afraid. The "not truth" clause is there precisely to forestall the claim that "because it's verifiable it must be true." If we omit the "not truth" clause I can guarantee that we will get those arguments. We already get them a lot - I simply point people to this page to explain that verifiability, not truth, is the key criterion. Having those two words in there saves a lot of time and futile arguments. -- ChrisO 07:55, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
It's worth noting that both your points (a) and (b) in fact are true, because each is phrased as a claim rather than a statement of truth. JulesH 08:33, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Truth (as used) means "published information". The phrase is too easily confused with TRUTHtm. The present phrase is "verifiability, not truth". Could we do something so it can not be misunderstood ? So that "truth" is more clearly meant as "verifiable, published information". Several discussion pages have tied themselves up with this phrase, the phrase's meaning is not completely clear to new editors (I think). Terryeo 15:40, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

I do think we need to explictly explain that verifiablity is not truth in some fashion. Just recently a post was made at Wikipedia talk:Reliable sources#19th century racial theorists asking to clarify that it was OK to just get rid of the 100 year old racial theroys because no one thought they were true today. Of course removing this "false" information entirely would really do a disservice to the article because WP is not about "true" information but rather encyclopedic information (which definately includes published falsehoods). The above link and this discussion are good examples that confusion exists on this issue and that it should be covered in policy somehow. I think it important that we clarify that we intend articles to contain enclyopedic information that is "believed false", but that it must be presented in a proper manner. In some cases this will be need to be presented as historiography others types of info need to follow "minor viewpoints" guidelines at WP:NPOV. It may be good to address this issue with examples that are patently false rather than likely edit wars. --Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 23:40, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

But it is also verifiable that the theories in question are out of date and not widely held. This should certainly be included. Septentrionalis 05:30, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Of course I agree and I suggested it be presented as historiography. My point is a well-meaning editor did think it should be removed because it is not "true". This shows that people are confused on this issue and the policies should be clarified.--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 17:41, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Also, I recall a number of discussions both on this policy's discussion page and other, nearby discussion pages that express a little confusion, or at least a lack of really clear understanding because of that phrase. Might this phrasing do the job? Terryeo 17:57, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is true information in the sense that true information has verifiably been published by a reliable source Terryeo 17:57, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

The headline of this newspaper is false, yet it is encyclopedic and is used in the article Harry S. Truman

I dislike the attempt to redefine "true" in your suggestion, and worry it will only continue the confusion. How about:

The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is encyclopedic information, information which has verifiably been published by a reliable source. This includes information that is believed false as long as it is presented in an encyclopedic fashion. --Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 18:24, 27 September 2006 (UTC))

Beat me until I comply, I like it. Terryeo 18:36, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

I strongly support the traditional phrase, "verifiability, not truth." There are two problems that a policy statement needs to address. The first is that "verifiability" as we use it is almost a technical term with a Wikipedia-specific meaning. In ordinary parlance, if I say "I've verified thus-and-such," it means "This is true, and I know because I've checked it." This is stronger than simply saying "This is true."

Saying "Verifiability, not truth" immediately warns the reader that there's something non-obvious ahead. It immediately raises the question "what does that mean?" and therefore gives some motivation for reading carefully.

The second point is that "verifiability, not truth" is a reasonably familiar idea to, say, anyone who's engaged in basic scholarship. That would include most Ph. D.'s, many college graduates, and more studious high-school seniors who were fortunate in their teachers. It does not by any means include the entire population of Wikipedia readers. Many people interested in using or editing Wikipedia will find this a puzzling idea. Many people still have some vague idea that anything that appears in print is "true" because otherwise "they" wouldn't let it be printed. They believe that dictionaries are prescriptive. (Even in the days before Webster's Third International I won an argument with a high school teacher who believed that the pronunciation listed first was "preferred" when I showed him the paragraph in the preface that said it was merely the "most frequent.") They believe that encyclopedias are supposed to determine truth authoritatively.

It is very important to use the phrase "'not truth'" upfront and conspicuously, in your face, with no softening, to shake people up a bit before their eyes glaze over. Dpbsmith (talk) 18:42, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

While those points make sense, they do not address the lack of understanding the present phrasing causes. Sometimes people seem to misunderstand the use of "not truth" in the phrase. Ideally it would be impossible to misunderstand and very easy TO understand. Terryeo 19:23, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Please give us an actual example of somewhere that it's been misunderstood. I can't help feeling that this is a solution in search of a problem. -- ChrisO 19:56, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
User:BirgitteSB just posted one [14]. But there have been earlier ones, too. And, as you said, according to your pov, User:ChrisO, I miss the point. Let's write the policy so the point can not be missed, not by me, not by the greenest editor. Terryeo 17:47, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

I've reworded it a little, I hope it reads more smoothly and presents the concept so it would be difficult to misunderstand. Terryeo 17:54, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

That is now here. Would people take a look at it and discuss if it would serve our needs, please? Terryeo

I agree that it reads more smoothly, but I disagree with dropping "in this context" (or something that fulfils its intent). The inclusion of "in this context" had been supported because it had been shown here that "verifiable" has, in the general population, a broader meaning and widely-held connotation with "truth". Dictionaries, perhaps the best measure of how words are used and what people think they mean, strongly support this assessment. The more scholarly application of "verifiability" by Wikipedia is also supported by dictionaries, so without the clarification it'd still be correct, but just a bit too ambiguous for the intended reader (i.e., someone who doesn't know about the policy and who is probably being directed to it after having violated it out of ignorance). Since the point is to explain the policy, we need to acknowledge that there are different ways to interpret the term, and clarify that we have a very specific definition in mind. —mjb 22:29, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
Okay. Then without changing that paragraph, could we change the first paragraph to read ?
Information on Wikipedia must be reliable and verifiable. Information may only be included in articles if it has already been published by reliable and reputable sources. Articles should cite these sources whenever possible. Any unsourced material may be challenged and removed. This includes unsourced facts, viewpoints, theories, and arguments or any other unsourced information. Terryeo 00:42, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
Terreyo, I don't see the benefit of the changes you're proposing. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:55, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
My proposal states the most important element first, information must be published. Since this is the center of WP:V, it can be presented without any complexity. When "facts, viewpoints, theories, and arguments" appear as examples of the general term, "information", it causes the reader to understand a number of specifics before the reader is presented with the general concept. By placing the most foundational elements alone and by themselves I hope to make the intent more clear, easier to grasp, with less words between the meaning and the reader. Terryeo 02:59, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
Said another way, I propose to give the reader the general concpet first. And then after that, give the readers examples of that concept. The concept is "information" and examples (presently) are "facts, viewpoitns, theories, and arguments". Terryeo 03:07, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
What would you give as an example of "other unsourced information", Terryeo? I've noticed that you've introduced that phrase which wasn't there before. What do you think it covers that wasn't covered before? -- Antaeus Feldspar 00:57, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
My phrasing does not include, "other unsourced information". Terryeo 02:59, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
What? The last words of your proposal of 00;42 above are "or any other unsourced information." Septentrionalis 05:00, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
Oh, right, in the last part. Other information which might be unsourced besides facts, viewpoints, theories, and arguments would include "word-of-mouth rumor, unpublished documents, claims on distributed flyers, common useage words which are not documented in dictionarys" and hell, probably 6 dozen other sorts of unsourced information. Private codes which two kids develop between themselves to communicate with each other in the presence of their parents, you know, any sort of unsourced information. The point I'm attempting to make is that it is all information. If we first present the idea, information must be verifiable and then, after the basic idea is presented, then present examples of information, the idea would be easier to understand. Terryeo 07:25, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

(unindent) This sounds reasonable to me. From a linguistic point of view, the proposed phrasing of the paragraph is easier to read: it has a simpler sentence structure, introduces more general concepts first and then specifies them (understanding a list of items without knowing what is going to be said about them is actually substantially harder than understanding the list once you know why the items are being listed). Other than being easier to read, it says essentially the same thing as the old paragraph. It doesn't change the meaning or scope of the policy in any way. I say the change should be made. JulesH 07:37, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

It would appear someone else will need to do the actual edit. I seem to have a "fan club" that reverts any edit I make. <grumble> (moved this statement) Terryeo 15:42, 29 September 2006 (UTC)Terryeo 17:06, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Dewey Defeats Truman

P. S. I like the Truman headline illustration. Dpbsmith (talk) 18:42, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

Dryguy's inclusion of the Trueman photograph may be enough. In any event it addresses the point. We'll know its right if difficulties like User:BirgitteSB mentions, don't show up anymore. Terryeo 20:44, 27 September 2006 (UTC)(Those refusing consensus will be assimilated !)
unfortunately the photo is fair use and we cannot use it. If anyone can think of a similar illustration without copyright issues, I do believe it would be helpful.--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 17:20, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
This photograph looks to be a work of the US gov't and may be public domain: [15]. Any copyright gurus out there care to comment? dryguy 21:53, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
Copyright notwithstanding, I don't see how the headline illustrates "encyclopedic" content or "verifiable, not true" per se. The caption should be adjusted. What claim is being made, and what is it being verified against? Is the claim that Dewey defeated Truman? I'd say that's neither true nor verifiable, since the early edition of the November 3, 1948 Chicago Daily Tribune has proven to be an unreliable source. What source are we talking about? The newspaper, or the photo of Truman holding it? If the claim is that the early edition of the November 3, 1948 Chicago Daily Tribune claimed that Dewey defeated Truman, then yeah, that's verifiable, using the newspaper itself as a reliable source. If the claim is that the paper falsely claimed Dewey defeated Truman, then the newspaper alone is not a reliable source; you need to show the newspaper made the claim, and that it was false. The photo of a triumphant President-elect Truman might illustrate whatever source you do end up using for the latter, but it doesn't constitute a source, itself. Furthermore, the caption's own claim that the photo is in the Truman article is unverifiable at the moment! —mjb 22:11, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
The statement that Dewey defeated Truman is verifiable by the letter of WP:V, citing the Chicago Daily Tribune as a reliable source, yet the statement is false. The photo of Truman holding the paper is an incredibly clear and forceful illustration of "verifiability, not truth." A photo of the paper itself is almost as good. dryguy 23:03, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
dryguy has addressed your main concern. However one I really want disagree with over is: "the November 3, 1948 Chicago Daily Tribune has proven to be an unreliable source". At least as far a WP is concerned, a reliable source means a source with reliable editorial control. Now the editors didn't suddenly change between the early and late editions of that paper. The Chicago Daily Tribune (as far as the portions under editorial controls are concerned) is a reliable source or it isn't. We cannot claim a source is reliable except for this one edition where we they are wrong. When we judge a source reliable it is not because we have judged all the contents truthful but rather that we trust the editorial supervision and fact checking of information put out by such a source. As an aside a reliable source such as Chicago Daily Tribune certainly must have printed a retraction of the early edition.--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 23:35, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
These arguments are not persuasive to me. Sure, generally speaking, the Chicago Daily Tribune, as an aggregate publication over a span of time, is a reliable source for whatever claims it makes. But sometimes it publishes retractions. So for a given claim, one particular edition of the paper may not be a reliable enough source to say the claim is verifiable. Even if you accept that the claim is verifiable by that one source, it's not verifiable in general, given the overwhelming contradictory sources, including later editions of the Tribune. Consider also that otherwise-reliable publications sometimes run April Fool's Day jokes, but we can't put joke claims in Wikipedia and point to the publication to say "look, it's verified in that reliable source". The IETF is certainly a reliable source of information about Internet standards, but I wouldn't claim in the telnet article that the telnet protocol has a "SUBLIMINAL-MESSAGE" option, as verified by RFC 1097, published April 1, 1989. Every other reliable source about telnet options tells me otherwise. Maybe it really does have such an option, but even if it does, the claim that it does isn't verifiable. At most, I could only make a meta-claim ("the IETF says telnet has this option"), since that's verifiable against the RFC; I couldn't say "telnet has this option" and say it's verifiable, unless there's no other reliable sources that would undermine that verifiability. —mjb 03:56, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
We may present any verifiable information from a reliable source. It is not incumbant upon an editor to justify the reliable source of information, it is incumbant on him to use reliable sources. In an article about the reliability of that newspaper, that edition would be an excellent reference to use. Of course the most reliable source will on rare occassion make a mistake. But it is not on us to judge whether a publication is accurate and not mistaken. It is on us to present information which has been previously published by a reliable source. Terryeo 07:30, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

(unident)Mjb I feel you are confusing things by taking a reliable source as the only policy that needs to be followed. When you take into consideration other viewpoints per WP:NPOV your problems are cleared up. I do think the claim of it being a source in the Truman article is wrong, that is the picture. The headline itself is not signifcant enough to make the cut for the Truman article. However it very well could be used in a historiography section at United States presidential election, 1948. And presented as historiography, it would meet all policies and not be misleading in the least.--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 13:39, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Just to clarify what I meant by a historiography section, as it can have several meanings. I mean a section dealing with the way the election covered by press during election, immediately after the election, at the end of Truman's career, and today when the topic is considered "history". If there were such an examination how this election and it's important issues were written about over time, there would probably be a place to use the early edition with it's false headline as a source. A less hypothetical situation is the one I talked about above regarding 19th century racial theories. These ideas are certainly false yet well-covered in sources as reliable as the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica. And they have an important place in any encylopedic examination of race, as historiograpy. The are also important topics to cover in an encylopedic examination of colonialism and the historical missonary work. The fact that information is false, doesn't discount the role this false information had in the decisions made by people at the time it was belived true. This is why I believe encyclopedia writers really should try to avoid thinking about information's value as being either false or true but try to think about what its encyclopedic value is.--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 15:37, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Yes, but even then you would phrase the information in a way that is true. For instance, the following sentence is false:

"Black people are inherently lazy and stupid."

But the following sentence may well be true:

"In the nineteenth century, a number of people propogated the idea that black people were inherently lazy and stupid."

The question of false information doesn't really enter into the equation: we should be making sure that everything we state is true whenever this is possible. This involves choosing how to phrase sentences that introduce ideas that we believe to be false carefully. JulesH 09:31, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

Guilt by association

WP:BLP#Negative_content has a broken link to WP:V#Guilt_by_association that no longer exists. Was this part of the policy discarded or was it moved to a different page? FYI, in a previous revision, the now-missing section read:

Claims attested only by sources that rely on guilt by association are not considered acceptable. Verifiability requires direct evidence which specifically identifies a person or organization as having engaged in a negative behavior. This is especially true of claims which infer information from membership of an organization and from activities of others associated with that organization. For example, Smith and Jones are Knights of the Garter. Smith kills his wife. It is inappropriate when writing an article about Jones to include information such as: "Smith, also a member of the Knights of the Garter, killed his own wife" under the heading "Crimes of Jones."
Most uses of guilt by association are more subtle than this example, but share the characteristic of using inference from known information to attempt to establish a fact about which there is no direct evidence.
Compiling a guilt-by-association argument would be an example of Wikipedia:No original research: putting together known facts to construct a particular argument or position favored by the editor.

--Flex 13:28, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

This seems reasonable, although wordy. I've changed your link to a link to the version, rather than an edit screen. Does someone care to make the argument for keeping this out? Septentrionalis 16:08, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
I do have a problem with it, if I am reading it correctly. First, it is asking an editior to evaluate a source and dismiss anything from the source that uses guilt by assosiation. Secondly it points out that an editor making such an assosiaction argument on his own is Original reasearch. The Second point should be at WP:OR not here. The first part is problamatic, because we ask editors to compile information from reliable sources and to use WP:NPOV to judge how properly present this compiled info. I don't know of anywhere else where we say a piece of information from a reliable source cannot be used because we don't like the type of inference used by the author. If something is presented in a reliable source it should be useable no exceptions. The only judgement call should be in how much emphasis any information is given, which should be judged by WP:NPOV. If I am incorrect and we have other similar restrictions please correct me.--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 17:17, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
The point, "any piece of reliably published information may be included" is true. It is also true that to compile information into a guilt-by-association article would present an Original Reseach. But even before such an article trips the WP:NOR threshold, it would have gone past the WP:NPOV threshold because NPOV says to present each information in an unbiased manner, AND says to present the information TOWARD a NPOV. It is NPOV (a stated intent, you see ?) that prevents "slander by implication" and "guilt by association", though WP:NOR underscores the anti-Wikipedia nature of such an edit. Terryeo 18:56, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
We ask editors to evaluate sources all the time to see whether they are reliable, and I think it is a bit naive to assume that sources divide neatly into always-reliable and never-reliable. How often can a reliable source commit logical atrocities (such as guilt-by-association) before one ceases to call it reliable? Are there sections in a newspaper that should not be taken as seriously as others? We have to navigate between the Scylla of second-guessing our sources (original research) and the Charybdis of including everything that even looks reliable.
That said, it would seem that the point belongs at WP:RS. Robert A.West (Talk) 18:21, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
May I point out that newspaper articles frequently juxtapose good information near to implication which is designed to color a reader's opinion. For example, it might be difficult to find a newspaper article which is dry and encyclopedic about any Hollywood Star. But if a newspaper article exists, then it is citeable. But putting many newspaper articles together to imply a slander or a relationship or a guilt which is not specifically stated is against WP:NPOV. Terryeo 19:01, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
And WP:OR. JulesH 09:40, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

So if I understand what Terryeo suggests, one may use guilt by association in an article as long as the fallacious connection is made in a reliable source, but not if that connection is synthesized by a Wikipedian from material in reliable sources (that would be OR). --Flex 11:09, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

If the New York Times chooses to use guilt by association as a writing style, who are we to argue with the New York Times? If a book is published by a reliable source which states connections between groups, causing one group to appear guilty because of its ties with another, who are we to dispute the written word? Yes, I suggested what you have stated. Terryeo 13:38, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
With the caveat that guilt-by-association is an inherently biased sort of argument and must be presented per WP:NPOV. As to what Robert A West says above. When we evaluate a source to be reliable we are evaluting it's editorial control. Of course this means "letters to the editor" or "classified ads" are not considered reliable froms a newspaper whose "news stories" are. But once we are talking about the actual news stories under editorial control, everything is reliable, even logical atrocities and biased information. Of course you cannot take WP:V as a standalone policy. Once you combine WP:V with WP:NPOV we can take the information we can present (WP:V), and then judge how to properly present it (WP:NPOV) and this should prevent WP from asserting biased information as well as logical atrocities on it's own authority. However I strongly disagree that we can pick out a few pieces of a reliable source and declare them suddenly "unreliable" when they are subject to the same editorial controls as the rest of the source. Reliabily is based on editors and fact-checking, not the particular information itself.--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 13:24, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
Agreed, with the caveat that reliability includes the willingness to stand legally behind what one "prints". —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Terryeo (talkcontribs) .
But, isn't one of the reasons that we consider most major newspapers to be reliable that their articles contain a minimum of logical atrocities and that they make a strong effort to minimize or at least disclose bias? In any case, as the policy notes, verifiability is a necessary, not a sufficient condition for inclusion. If an otherwise-reliable biography of Alexander Hamilton gave a birthdate of 1957, I would ignore it as an obvious typo, not document it as a scholarly dispute. Most articles have more source material than can be reasonably included, so why waste time on the odd stray logical atrocity that one finds? There is probably better material on the same side of the argument to include. Of course, if the guilt-by-association argument is widespread, that fact is worth time and space, and presumably another reliable source will refute it. That said, what I am advocating is common sense and judgment, and you can't mandate those by policy. Robert A.West (Talk) 16:47, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
Worth noting is that Policy requires good sense to be followed. Policy is a statement of intent. Policy gives broad, general direction and requires understanding to implement. Most dictionarys will define "policy" in this manner. Understanding is necessary, good sense is required. Guidelines, however, can be specific. WP:CITE gives specific instances and examples, it is a "how-to" instruction manual and does not require an editor understand the policies it rests on. Terryeo 17:04, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Frequent changes

Terryeo, could I ask you to stop tweaking this policy and NOR back and forth, please? They're supposed to remain stable, and your changes don't seem to make much difference anyway, except that changing "facts, arguments, opinions" etc to "information" could be seen as deterioration. Could you say what you see the benefit of the changes as? SlimVirgin (talk) 15:32, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Certainly. I propose we change the first paragraph from:
  • Information on Wikipedia must be reliable and verifiable. Facts, viewpoints, theories, and arguments may only be included in articles if they have already been published by reliable and reputable sources. Articles should cite these sources whenever possible. Any unsourced material may be challenged and removed. To:
  • Information on Wikipedia must be reliable and verifiable. Information may only be included in articles if it has already been published by reliable and reputable sources. Articles should cite these sources whenever possible. Unsourced facts, viewpoints, theories, and arguments may be challenged and removed.
    The reason I propose the change is; "information" is the subject which "Facts, viewpoints, theories, and arguments" are examples of. Placing those examples at the end of the paragraph rather than at its beginning causes the paragraph to be easier to understand. User:JulesH spells out the logic of my proposed change in this edit Terryeo 17:27, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
The word "information" arguably does not include viewpoints, theories and arguments. I think it's clearer as it is. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:34, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
Hmmmm, could you give me an example of any of those which contains no information at all ? Terryeo 18:01, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
"If the cat sits on the mat, the mat is red." It's an invalid argument and it contains no information at all. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:25, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
The change seems worse than pointless to me. The old wording was better.
Among other things, there are Gradgrinds who feel that "viewpoints, theories and arguments" are not information. Newbies will sometimes remove statements like "so-and-so said thus-and-such[63]" on the ground that "it's just opinion." The previous wording cues them in that Wikipedia considers "viewpoints, theories, and arguments" to be valid encyclopedic content... subject of course to WP:V and WP:NPOV.
Leaving out "viewpoints, theories, and arguments" makes the statement harder to understand. The present wording--in which the Wikipedian use of "information" is stated implicitly—is ideal. An explicit statement, like
Information on Wikipedia must be reliable and verifiable, where "information" is deemed to comprise not merely facts, but also viewpoints, theories, and arguments. Information may only be included in articles if it has already been published by reliable and reputable sources....
would be less readable and less clear. Dpbsmith (talk) 19:02, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
If it is published, it is information. Information on Wikipedia must be reliable and verifiable. When Slim types a nonesense about cats, that is information. It may be logically inconsistant, a flight of fantasy, or even insane (to quote a well known author :)), but it is information. Let us not confuse the poor editor with a listing of several kinds of information. Especially let us not disperse his attention until he has understood why verifiability of information is so important. Then, after he has grasped the idea, then we can introduce specifics like arguements, facts, theories, etc. Terryeo 19:56, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
Terryeo, the word "information" carries with it the implication that it's true i.e. about facts. You don't "inform" someone if you tell them something that's false. If I tell you that it's ten o'clock when it's three o'clock, I haven't informed you; I've misled you. Also, arguments don't constitute "information." Please leave the sentence as it is; it really is clearer. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:00, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Re. Terryeo's "If it is published, it is information": consider this image:

Image:Inkblot.svg

This image (or: many others like it) can be found in "published" psychology books. It is particularily intended not to "carry" any kind of information. If it would be information (or carrying information) it would be impossible to use it for its intended purpose (that is: bring out the subjective information in the mind of the viewer).

The image is used in Wikipedia, see Rorschach inkblot test, and it is perfectly in line with core content policies to use it. From the listed "content" possibilities for Wikipedia (i.e.: facts, assertions, theories, ideas, claims, opinions, and arguments), I suppose "idea" would fit this image best (a visualisation of Rorschach's "idea" of the type of material that can be used in a particular test). So, no, "information" would narrow down the possibilities of what can be included in Wikipedia, in a way not desired, nor desirable, for the general goal of making an encyclopedia.

And no, not everything "published" is "information". Considering anything "published" as "information" is making an incorrect shortcut, imho. --Francis Schonken 22:01, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Personaly I don't think this wording change makes much of a difference either way. But I dislike the idea that WP is not dealing in "information" at the smallest level. WP is certainly not dealing in raw data, it is dealing information. Anything that does not inform does not belong in an encyclopedia. The above picture is conveying the information of what an inkblot looks like to the readers. If the above image did not convey that information it would not belong at Rorschach inkblot test. If it did not convey that information, we would be looking for a different illustration to show the readers what these inkblots look like. Here is one of my favorite quotes, I just want to say that everything being argued about is at least information, data doesn't belong at WP. "Knowledge differs from data or information in that new knowledge may be created from existing knowledge using logical inference. If information is data plus meaning then knowledge is information plus processing."[16] --Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 23:09, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Again, not everything "published" is "information". Something "published" that is no "information" may be eligible for inclusion in Wikipedia. Another example,

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you're at!
Up above the world you fly,
Like a teatray in the sky.

was published in 1865. It is quoted in Wikipedia. Usually this would not be described as "information". In the Wikipedia article where the text above is quoted, there is of course "information" surrounding the quote. That "information" surrounding the quote contains, among some explanations, the reference to the "source" of the quote. But the quote itself is not "information", it is a nonsense verse (where "nonsense" is usually considered non-sense, i.e. lack of "meaning"). It might be called an artistic idea, but not, as such, "information".

I don't know what you exactly meant by your comment above, but I see some confusing (and self-contradictory) language in what you wrote:

  • Re. "WP is certainly not dealing in raw data, it is dealing information": confusing phraseology: first there's not necessarily a mutual exclusiveness of "raw data" and "information": in other words "raw data" may contain "information", for example, a pile of some hundreds of filled in questionaires may be considered "raw data" (in the terminology used in WP:RS: a "primary source"), but nobody will deny that there's "information" contained in those data. Further, indeed, Wikipedia articles should certainly contain something more than "raw data", but you can't reverse that into saying that "at the smallest" level all raw data should be excluded from Wikipedia, no, raw data (like this image or a quote by a politician) is as a *component* of a wikipedia page (along with explanations/information) not only "admissible", but often the kind of illustrations needed to make an article work. So much so, that for such purposes Wikipedia even chooses to put its usual preference for "GFDL only" aside in certain circumstances (I'm referring to Wikipedia's use of the "fair use" doctrine - e.g. this image).
  • Re. "Anything that does not inform does not belong in an encyclopedia": disagree, for example art examples may be "non-informative" (or at least be considered so by many), but such illustrations have been used in encyclopedias, centuries before Wikipedia existed. Of course the text accompanying such examples should be informative; and informative is also the preferred style for explanatory contributions to Wikipedia. What I mean is that for example for art examples, as for the Rorschach image above, the "meaning" is only achieved in conjunction with the auxiliary description, and not merely by quoting/inserting previously published material.
  • Re. "The above picture is conveying the information of what an inkblot looks like to the readers": Really, I don't know what you're trying to say, but it is not correct as far as I can see, or at least self-contradictory: if the "meaning" is what a reader makes of the rendered Rorschach blot, and that "meaning" is different for every reader, then there is no "information" conveyed by the image itself. In that case there are only the subjective impressions of the readers, and no "information" contained in the image. Again, in the Rorschach blot example, as used in the Rorschach inkblot test article, the information is contained in the text surrounding the image, not in the image itself, so at a comparatively small level (250 x 169 pixels to be exact) Wikipedia displays "raw data". --Francis Schonken 14:52, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
I never said "everything published is information", I said everything belonging in an encyclopedia is information. It must be information to be encyclopedic. The illustrations and quotes in an encyclopedia are information. And quoted nonsensce is only quoted in WP because it is a representitve sample of nonsence and conveys the information of what nonsense is to the reader. You claim the illustrations/quotes you are giving convey no information, I disagree. I do agree that they could convey no information if they were taken out of the context of the WP article. However they are not used in WP out of context. They are used in WP to convey information to the reader. Everything that belongs in WP, everything that is encylopedic, is information. Yes there exists things in the world which are not information, these things are merely data. Yes data is published without being processed into information. But not in encylopedias. If you still do not understand me we will just have to disagree.--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 15:11, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
My intent was to cause the policy to be easier to understand. At the same time, hard to misunderstand. Rather than the second sentence listing various kinds of information which the policy applies to, I attempt to substitute the word "information" for the several examples of information. Later in the paragraph then, various examples of information can be spelled out so the reader has understanding by example which adds to the understanding he has gained in the first sentences. What I hope to achieve is a first written paragraph that is so clear and lucid that a reader would be hard pressed to misunderstand that information in Wikipedia must be verifiable. That is, information must have been previously published by a reliable, reputable source which can be verified. Re: a definition of "information", I believe I could find definitions which state that anything published is information whether it is nonsense, factual, argumentative, poetic, or even rumored information. But that's not my argument, my intent is to cause the first paragraph to be very very clear. Terryeo 16:35, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

The "any reader clause"

Trying to trace back the root causes of the recent Citatationgate incident, I've found right here in core policy WP:V this sentence:

  • "Verifiable" in this context means that any reader must be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source

IMHO this offers dangerous mis-interpretations. We must better differentiate between goals and measures. The goal should be, infomally speaking:

(A) An article has to be an impartial summary of published reliable sources

Yeah, both impartial and summary are can-of-wormish. Anyway.
One of the means is

(B) check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source

The problem is now twofold: (B) doesn't guarantee (A). And checking (B) will sometimes be difficult for any reader (i.e. the proverbial layperson) and checking (A) even more.

I see no way around it, that the authorative verification has to be done domain experts in many cases. Following WP:V and WP:CITE will ease the task and in many cases basic knowledge of the field (together with some experience with scientific work in general) will be sufficent.

BTW: The test run of new Mediawiki features at de: (de:Wikipedia:Gesichtete Versionen and de:Wikipedia:Geprüfte Versionen) will require domain experts for verification.

Pjacobi 19:19, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

If I understand correctly, you're postulating that only an expert can "authoritatively" ascertain the reliability of (all?) sources for (all?) claims, and you're concluding from this that only an expert can perform "authoritative" verification. With that being your position, you're uncomfortable with "any" in WP:V's "any reader" (which used to be "an editor" until it was noted that verifying an article's claims does not require one to become an editor of the article). You'd apparently prefer to change it to something far more restrictive.
I would call into question whether WP:V intends to differentiate between verification in general, and "authoritative" verification performed by a subject-matter expert. Seems like a slippery slope with all the self-proclaimed "authorities" out there. —mjb 19:55, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
In fact, I'm only looking for better wording, which won't let someone think, an article on quantum field theory can be verified without any prior knowledge in the field. By now I must have written it three times, but the major obstacles against verifiability by "anybody" are:
  • judging the reliability of a source
  • detecting the lack of sources of other POVs
  • being able to see the article is the correct summary of a larger chapter in a source
Pjacobi 20:41, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
Ideally, an article on a technical subject s being written for a somewhat larger audience than domain specialists -- who, after all, should know more about the subject than is contained in the article. The path of analysis required to get from the source to the article should not be very long; otherwise we are in danger of committing original research. These two facts, together, should mean that at nearly any article can be verified by a lay reader who is willing to put in the work. As for the exceptions, I can't think of a case where a reader complained in good faith that an article was unverifiable because of the arcane nature of the subject, as opposed to tagging the article as {{confusing}}. As for your three points:
  • Verification need does not involve re-evaluating the reliability of the source. It can, but that is rare.
  • NPOV is a different policy. This is one of the reasons.
  • The result, "This is beyond my depth," is a legitimate result of an attempt at verification. Some of our readers are young children whose judgment will be faulty. So are some of our editors. But any reader or editor should be able to make the attempt. Robert A.West (Talk) 21:16, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
I certainly agree that even articles on the most technical subjects should be written so, that everybody can gain from reading it. Vut not every reader will be able to verify it.
But I don't buy your first two bullet points. If a subject is totally misrepresented by selection of sources, the article is just not correct. If we indeed only aim at my statement (B) above, not (A), this is not an encyclopedia-project. If we aim at (A), but this aim is not coverered by WP:V, which policy does it cover?
Pjacobi 21:29, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
NPOV. Robert A.West (Talk) 16:47, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

This statement needs work: (A) An article has to be an impartial summary of published reliable sources

Let me point out how. Firstly, "Has to be" should be changed to "should ideally be". Secondly we cannot call an article "bad" simply because it does not use *all* previous source on say Abraham Lincoln. If an article stresses one source too much that is a question of balance/equal weight not neutrality. (Isn't there a WP article for balance somewhere? I'm not finding it.) If an article is partial that would be WP:NPOV. So the statement should be something an editor can actually use such as: "An editor's contributions to articles should impartially summarize the sources he/she uses". Wjhonson 17:16, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
Your sentence says something quite different to the one you want to replace. Both are true. An article should be an impartial summary of the relevant, reliable published sources. And an editor's contributions to articles should impartially summarize the reliable published sources s/he uses. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:22, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
That's my point. No person can guarantee A the way it's written above. Nobody can look at an article like Abraham Lincoln and claim it summarizes all relevant published sources. Or at least, perhaps less than one-hundreth of one percent of our readers. So to try to make them act this way is specious, because it's not practically useable . Wjhonson 17:27, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
WP:V expresses an intent, WP:NPOV expresses an intent, so too, WP:NOR. It is not the burden of a policy to tell editors exactly how to check validity. It is not the burden of policy to tell editors exactly how easily verified an information would constitute the information be included in Wikipedia. WP:V is an expression of intent. The sweat and toil of defining how many minutes of research by the average editor makes a verifiable reference includable within Wikipedia would be for guidelines to define. Those would vary and be defined by editor concensus. Terryeo 17:35, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
Agreed, that all published sources is not an option. Nevertheless (A) still summarises what should aim at: a good review article on the topic. But having no substantial gaps (keine wesentlichen Lücken) is the difficult but important part of the de: field test de:Wikipedia:Geprüfte Versionen.
As said above, I don't want a revolutionary rewrite of WP:V, but some acknowledgement, that
  • Verification may need background knowledge. Even excessive use of inline citing will only reduce, not eliminate the expertise needed to check an article.
  • Checking every addition to an article for having a reliable source is means not goal. In itself it doesn't prevent totally crappy articles.
Pjacobi 17:39, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
It seems reasonable to me that policy expresses intent. And then that guideline directs that expressed intent in specific ways. I would suggest the guideline direct editors to WP:RS for details of how easily a reference can be verified before it can be considered a reference. And yeah, you've certainly got a valid point, Pjacobi, the issue has been talked about before at WP:RS (and here too, I think). Terryeo 19:43, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

The three policies

It seems to me that Pjacobi is attempting to make a point in this policy (Verifiability) that belongs, and largely is made at NPOV. I think there is no dispute that an article should, to the best of our collective ability and the demands of presentation, fairly summarize the field. Discussion about how best to phrase that idea belongs, IMO, at NPOV, not here, and if we mention it in this policy, it should be in a section on how the three policies interact, which could be common to all three policies.

  • Verifiability is about the need to have sources, the need for those sources to be reliable, and the ideal that any reader with access to a decent research library should be able to find the sources if they wish to attempt to verify that everything in the article either comes from a reliable source, or is a reasonable inference from reliable sources.
  • No original research is about avoiding inferences that are more than trivial, that would constitute a new way of looking at the subject.
  • NPOV is about including the whole of the field, covering all opinions and viewpoints to the extent practical while maintaining the readers' interest.

Every editor is equally entitled to contribute to the efforts to maintain these standards. Since an editor's real-world qualifications are beyond Wikipedia's ability to determine, we should consider only results: an editor is the sum of his or her contributions, no more, no less. Sometimes it is good to have non-specialists trying to verify facts in a specialized article -- they sometimes spot unspoken assumptions that those more knowledgable make without realizing it. If an editor makes edits that are unhelpful, that is a matter for the community to solve on a case-by-case basis, whether the disruption is deliberate or ignorant.

My humble opinion, for what its worth. Robert A.West (Talk) 20:23, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

I agree with your assessment. These three policies work together, each one covering a specific aspect. Following the principles embodied in these policies are not a guarantee for an excellent article, as editor's judgement and collaborative efforts of editors made in good faith are surely needed for an article to be informative, neutral and encyclopedic . ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 08:38, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
I also agree with the above. Any editor whose edits are unhelpful should simply be educated about the issue, this is the bueaty of collaboration. --Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 15:22, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
I think this is helpful, esp. the distinction that policy is what needs to happen, and guidelines are how that is achieved. To this end, please weigh in on the current debate related to Pjacobi's discussion at WP:CITE - making an exception for inline citations for common knowledge facts. --plange 16:14, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

I don't think you've expressed NPOV correctly above. NPOV is not about "including the whole of the field", but rather about writing "in a neutral voice". The inclusion of the whole of the field would be more akin to Balance and Comprehensiveness, about which I'm not sure we have policies. An article on Martha Stewart may start off with her conviction and nothing else, simply because that particular editor only has a few sources to use. That shouldn't be viewed as a policy problem. It's merely a problem in that we need more editors to work on that article to add details about her childhood, or her favorite book, or quotes from her Talk show or whatever as they have sources. The "inclusion of the whole of the field" is an emergent phenomena due to the fact that we have a few thousand editors. I'm not sure how you make that policy however. Wjhonson 16:24, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

Doesn't writing in a neutral voice include balance and comprehensively covering all relevant points of view (what some have called "horizontal" comprehensiveness)? I quote from WP:NPOV#Undue weight, "NPOV says that the article should fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by a reliable source, and should do so in proportion to the prominence of each." Yes, achieving this is an emergent process, but from a realistic viewpoint, so are Verifiability, brilliant prose and everything else we try to achieve: many good articles started out as poorly-written uncited stubs and improved from there. Robert A.West (Talk) 16:36, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
(edit conflict)I think NPOV is both actually. It is about avoiding bias by writing "in a neutral voice". As well as avioding bias by ommission. We cannot claim to have a neutral point of view when the article is not comphrensive. --Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 16:42, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
I believe BirgitteSP has stated the situation, that NPOV has 2 elements. One being "write in a neutral voice" and Two being "present the several widely published points of view". Terryeo 14:49, 2 October 2006 (UTC)