Talk:Charles R. Burton

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Burton the explorer[edit]

Hi, Dr. Connolley, I respect your personal opinion that Burton was not an explorer, but at Wikipedia we have to go with the sources. Yopienso (talk) 20:17, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

Now, this is an odd dispute! Maybe the problem is that there is only one source and a small sub. Can you expand it to demonstrate that he was an explorer? Viriditas (talk) 06:09, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
Hi! Long time no see. Check the article history. Best, Yopienso (talk) 06:15, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
It seems to me that Burton was, among other things, an explorer, but you can't really use that as his sole description. Perhaps "solider and explorer" or something along those lines? (I have also taken the liberty of moving indents around to keep the conversation clear; feel free to restore of course.) Jonathan A Jones (talk) 08:42, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
I've restored the previous version. Unless we are joined here in conversation by the editor who removed the material, I can see no reason to remove nor modify the current version. Viriditas (talk) 10:21, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Thanks, Viriditas. I see room for expansion but not removal.

Jonathan, he trained in the military but I'm not aware he was ever a soldier. He worked in securities. The bios and obits consistently call Burton an explorer. So does the Ency. Brit. Yopienso (talk) 10:55, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

I know WMC is a bit of explorer himself (according to past user page and talk updates) so perhaps he was objecting to the classification for some personal reason that he hasn't yet shared. Viriditas (talk) 10:58, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
Yopienso, he is described in the article as "joined the British Army, serving with the elite Special Air Service", so unless this is wrong he certainly was a soldier. I think the case for "expansion not removal" as you put it is clear. Jonathan A Jones (talk) 19:57, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Yes, I agree, but he was not known for being a soldier. Mentioning his military service would be appropriate "expansion" and I would not seriously object to calling him a soldier; my own definition ("warrior") of that word may be too limited. What I think is important is to follow the sources and call him an explorer. Yopienso (talk) 20:07, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

See what you think of my latest version. I have also improved the formatting of the references. Regards, Jonathan A Jones (talk) 20:20, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the reformatting. (I guess; I don't understand it but am willing to learn if pointed to a tutorial. How is it better than simple Chicago style?) Personally, I would not have "soldier" or "security consultant" in the lede at all, but in the body. I'm unclear about what his security work was; at first I thought maybe he was a stockbroker, but am more inclined now to think he was a security guard (watchman). As I said above and Viriditas says more clearly below, the reason he even has a stub WP article is because he was an explorer; nothing else about his life is the least bit notable. He very much played second fiddle to Sir Ranulph.
There is considerable more info to expand the body in this source and the longer obit it points to. Among other things, it says, "Burton went into the private security business, looking after the Cabinet Office and the Treasury Office," which is what makes me think he was a guard or possibly owned a business that supplied guards. Yopienso (talk) 06:48, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Charles Burton: from my talk page[edit]

[Moved from my talk page, to where it blelongs]

Hello. Please revert yourself at Charles R. Burton. The sources are clear that he was an explorer and they should not be removed. Thanks. Yopienso (talk) 20:20, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

Stop stalking and get a life William M. Connolley (talk) 22:26, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
The article called Burton an explorer since it was created in 2008; the burden of proof to show from RSs that he was not falls on you. We have four reliable sources--including the one you let stand--that call him an explorer. Can you please explain on what basis you assert, "he's still not an explorer, sorry"? Can you please provide a rationale for deleting reliable sources? Thanks. Yopienso (talk) 22:59, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
Only the bleedin' obvious; it really doesn't take much thought if you actually think. He was only an "explorer" for one 4-year period of his life; for the rest of it he did a variety of jobs, mostly "security". If he had a profession, that was it. Just because he made the papers for doing only one thing doesn't make him that thing. And secondly, of course, he wasn't an "explorer" during that phase either: "adventurer" would be more accurate William M. Connolley (talk) 09:25, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
Thank you. Thing is, the sources say "explorer." Why, in your view, should we ignore/delete/contradict them? In my view, the second pillar forbids us to: "All articles must strive for verifiable accuracy, citing reliable, authoritative sources . . . Editors' personal experiences, interpretations, or opinions do not belong." (WP:5) Yopienso (talk) 10:38, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
See my answer above. And since I'm not adding anything, you can't complain that my personal opinion is in it. I'd like you to stop stalking me too, unless you're trying to make anyone believe the wild and implausible assertion that you're here by chance William M. Connolley (talk) 12:24, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
Please revert yourself. You have removed well-sourced material with the sources, offering only your interpretation and opinion that they are wrong. Surely we agree that we are here to build an encyclopedia, and that WP is built on solid sources, not on our personal conclusions after we "actually think" about them. Maybe we should seek some outside help to resolve this. Thank you. Yopienso (talk) 16:20, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
It still isn't clear why the text was changed and the sources were removed. We probably need to have an RFC. Viriditas (talk) 19:59, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Hey folks -- a person who was only an explorer for only four years of his life was still an "explorer." If his obits use the term, there is no rational basis for calling him "a British" (with no noun at all!) Cheers and think abut how this stuff looks. An author who wrote only one book was still a writer if he is described as such in reliable sources. Notability in any field is not defined as "not applicable if it was for only four years" that I can find. Collect (talk) 12:31, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Source review[edit]

The New York Times
  • Obit by Paul Lewis describes Burton as a notable Polar explorer, not a soldier nor an adventurer. The entire obit is about his explorations.
Los Angeles Times
  • AP obit describes Burton as a "British explorer" who is notable for taking part "in the first expedition to circumnavigate the world from pole to pole". It does describe this expedition as an "adventure" but makes no mention of his work as a soldier.
The Guardian
  • Obit by Oliver Shepard describes him as an "explorer" who once "joined the Royal Sussex Regiment" and after the expedition retired to work in the "security business". According to The Guardian, he is notable for being an explorer, not for being a soldier nor for working in the security business.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • This is probably just a syndicated version of the Los Angeles Times AP story.
Transglobe Expedition
  • This biography page describes the backgrounds of all of the members of the expedition. It does not intend to imply that each member is notable for the things in their background, it simply gives a history of their achievements up until the expedition. If we were to follow the lead of this biography page, then Burton would become "notable" for being a mechanic and a cook.

I think it is quite clear that Charles Burton is notable for being a Polar explorer, not for being a soldier, a security businessman, nor a mechanic and a cook. Viriditas (talk) 01:47, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for this review. Yopienso (talk) 06:50, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
You're missing the point. He is *notable* for being an "explorer" (really, adventurer - explorer is badly inaccurate) but that wasn't what he was. He did this for 4 years of his life. It was the only notable thing he did, so its what all the obits talk about. I find it hard to believe that this trivial subtlety is beyond you William M. Connolley (talk) 09:29, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biographies: "The opening paragraph should have...The notable positions the person held, activities they took part in or roles they played; Why the person is notable." Viriditas (talk) 01:35, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
And my version does exactly that. What's your problem? William M. Connolley (talk) 08:24, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Sources are clear; consensus is clear[edit]

Dr. Connolley, please revert your removal of reliably sourced info. Thanks. Yopienso (talk) 20:59, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Consensus cannot possibly be clear if you're still "paring" the lede. But it was dishonest of you to describe your edit that way. What you mean is, you'll permit no description other than explorer; and it must be that way, because that's the text I removed, and that's the only reason you're at this article. He's not allowed to be called a soldier, oh no, because you won't permit it, despite reliable sources; nor may he be called a security consultant, for the same reason William M. Connolley (talk) 21:11, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
There's no need for vituperation. Biographical leads generally describe what the subject is notable for, and in this case, it's for being an explorer. Let's just file an RFC and let the community decide. I should like to point out that you have reverted three editors, which could be construed as editing against consensus. Viriditas (talk) 21:45, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
@WMC: Point taken that I should have let the word "soldier" stand. Please take the point that you should let the word "explorer" stand. I can't find a source that calls him a "security consultant," but his work in security is covered.
@Viriditas: Thanks. Yes, I think we need to ask for more comments. Yopienso (talk) 22:05, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
@WMC: This is a warning. (Since you are a regular I won't be templating you.) You have removed long-standing and well-sourced information, i.e., that Burton was an explorer, five times without showing a single RS that says he was not an explorer. All three of the other involved editors agree that the word "explorer" best defines Burton for this WP bio. We have linked to three RSs that call him an explorer, plus noted that the Encyclopedia Britannica does, too. If you do not revert yourself, I will report you for tendentious editing. Thank you. Yopienso (talk) 04:59, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
My two cents, if he didnt go exploring and wasnt a notable explorer, we would not have a wikipedia article. William M. Connolley, Burton was soldier, PMC member, cook and bartender- he achieved no apparent notablilty in any of these feilds, he is however notable for his exploring with the Fiennes. The opening of the lead "Charles Robert Burton (13 December 1942 — 15 July 2002) was British", is not how MOS:BLP. I will revert, to the original WP:OPENPARA and consensus version. Murry1975 (talk) 09:22, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

I noticed this mentioned on ANI, read the article, found it interesting, and investigated the background of this person - including the sources used and other reliable sources that I found for myself. My opinion: I also believe it should begin, "Charles Robert Burton (13 December 1942 — 15 July 2002) was a British explorer, best known for his part in the Transglobe Expedition". He's clearly best-known for that part of his life, and it leads the sentence nicely on to the Transglobe. The rest of the first para has appropriate information summarizing the rest of his life. The fact he's an 'explorer' is very well referenced.

It would be nice to expand the article giving more detail of that interesting journey - of course, not too much because that belongs in the Transglobe article - but I think that aspects that strongly feature Burton in the available RS could be put into this article.

I have no opinion on the disagreement; I just thought that - being as I'd read up on the subject - I might as well offer another opinion to help consensus. (talk) 10:16, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

  • It seems clear to me that someone who was only involved in an expedition for one short period of his life, but not otherwise involved, is not an explorer. In the same way, someone who does science for 4 years of their life is not a scientist. Second Quantization (talk) 17:02, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
It seems clear to me you are forgetting that it is not our personal interpretation, synthesis, or opinion of the facts that stands at WP, but what the RSs say. They are unequivocal that Burton was an explorer. Yopienso (talk) 19:01, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
It seems entirely clear that you'll never back down. Now, are you still pretending that "consensus is clear"? William M. Connolley (talk) 19:29, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
2nd Q is the first editor to agree with you. None of the dozen or so editors since 2008 (see history) have disagreed that Burton was an explorer, and most recently, Viriditas, JAJ, and I had a clear consensus. JAJ agreed Burton was an explorer, restoring the word after you removed it. The only lack of consensus was over his wish to also call him a soldier and a security consultant. Yopienso (talk) 19:46, 22 February 2014 (UTC) Please note the numerous editors who have commented since I opened the AN/I; again, only 2nd Q demurs from the consensus. Yopienso (talk) 19:51, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
From the talk page record, the consensus and the sources seem clear. Span (talk) 20:43, 22 February 2014 (UTC)


Fiennes and Burton were both in the SAS at the same time, [1];

"after returning to London, enlisted as a Territorial in the SAS with Fiennes and Shepard as they were planning their expedition"

But [2]

"he took a job working behind the bar at The Admiral Codrington pub in Chelsea, and it was there that his brother Richard introduced him to Ran Fiennes "

I will get more sources to clarify this when I can.Murry1975 (talk) 09:30, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Discussion at AN/I[edit]

There is presently a discussion at AN/I over whether or not Burton was an explorer. Yopienso (talk) 19:48, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

The RfC below supersedes the AN/I. Yopienso (talk) 23:13, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Request for Comment[edit]


Overwhelming consensus, with very little opposition. Charles Robert Burton (13 December 1942 – 15 July 2002) was a British explorer (talk) 21:52, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Should Charles R. Burton be described as an explorer in the lead section? Yopienso (talk) 21:36, 22 February 2014 (UTC)


  • Yes He was known as such at the time of his death. That is what counts. As to the word "explorer" being repeated in the lead, the most important place is in the first sentence when dealing with "primary notability attribute." Collect (talk) 22:06, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Of course NE Ent 22:09, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Yes, because that is what he is known for. I'm reminded of the fact that Wikipedia, being a tertiary source of information, can only reflect what reliable secondary sources state about a person. Because the sources we have call him an explorer, that's what we should call him. I concede that an argument can be made that he should be called something else, but we don't get to make that determination as without overwhelming support from reliable secondary sources it would be original research, or at best, synthesis. -- Atama 23:38, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Strong support, per my reasoning shown in the section above. The counter-argument that 'he only did it for 4 years' is very weak; you would not describe Neil Armstrong as a teacher! (talk) 00:24, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Support using explorer as description - The fact that we are having this survey is absurd. What happened to common sense? A trouting is called for at the very least. Jusdafax 01:19, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose For most of his life he was not an explorer and what he did for a small fraction of it doesn't describe his entire life's occuption. This version describes the situation best: [3]. Second Quantization (talk) 03:54, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
    • Is this the fallacy of division? You are arguing that because Burton was not notable as an explorer for the entirety of his life, he therefore cannot be notable as an explorer for part of his life. Viriditas (talk) 11:08, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
You are arguing a a straw man. I don't recall saying the entirety of his life being required, just that the vast majority of his life was spent on other things. Second Quantization (talk) 21:15, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
Is he known for those "other things"? Viriditas (talk) 21:21, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
Where do we go from here, Viriditas? The consensus on the RfC is overwhelmingly to keep the word "explorer" in the lede. WMC asserts his own opinion against the RSs and 2nd Q advances no argument but merely bickers. (Aside to 2nd Q: Like WMC, you take exception to the RSs. Just a few lines above, you wrote, "what he did for a small fraction of it doesn't describe his entire life's occuption." The next day you wrote, "I don't recall saying the entirety of his life being required.") So, I understand we do nothing but leave the word "explorer" in the lede and move on. There's no "closing" of an RfC like there is of a request at AN/I, right? Yopienso (talk) 22:10, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
It's too early to close right now, but when it's ready to be closed, we'll have an uninvolved admin close it, if needed. Viriditas (talk) 22:28, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
OK, and thanks. I thought it was so obvious we could just call it done, but there's no hurry. Ending RfCs. Yopienso (talk) 22:44, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. the question is not what he did for the non-notable portion of his life, bt what he did of encyclopedic interest that justifies an article in Wikipedia. that is, as the article very clearly shows, his work as an explorer. That's why the NYT wrote an obit of him; for us to use as a reliable source for a bio. Had he not been known predominantly as an explorer, there would not have been an article. DGG ( talk ) 06:18, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Support - Jimmy Carter was only President of the United States for 4 years. But for one line paragraph, the entire lede of his article is about his presidency. For most of his life he was not President and what he did for a small fraction of it has come to define his entire life. Just sayin'. Stalwart111 07:46, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Well, that's an excellent example. The Carter article says is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States (1977–1981). Which is fine: he was indeed a pol. If we were to re-write that in the style desired here it would say is an American President of the United States which would be absurd William M. Connolley (talk) 08:55, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
  • The proper analogy by occupation is as follows: Jimmy Carter is known for being an American politician just as Charles R. Burton is known for being a British explorer. Viriditas (talk) 05:32, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Carter was also a sailor and farmer- so as per MOS we leave these ones until later. But by your logic, it should read "Jimmy Carter is American; for four years he was President of the United States".
  • No it says "an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States (1977–1981)", or cant you see the differnce? Murry1975 (talk) 22:41, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. At no point was he an explorer. For 4 years he was an adventurer, which is different. But whilst hat was what he was notable for, it wasn't what he was - it was only 4 years of a reasonably long life William M. Connolley (talk) 08:54, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Support as proposing editor. How can anyone assert "at no point was he an explorer" when RSs call him an explorer? WMC, who removed the long-standing term, has the burden of proof to demonstrate from RSs (not from his own opinion) that Burton was not an explorer. Also, the lede did not redundantly say Burton was an expeditioner who went on an expedition, but an explorer who went on a specifically named expedition. That's a parallel construction to "a politician who served as the nth POTUS." Yopienso (talk) 11:00, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Support, It is only because of his exploring that he is notable for wikipedia porposes. Murry1975 (talk) 11:07, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Support per arguments of Atama above. Jonathan A Jones (talk) 11:26, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Support per the RS refs. No question really. Capitalismojo (talk) 20:25, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Support I would say that taking part in "the first expedition to circumnavigate the world from pole to pole" (from the LA Times article) qualifies someone as an explorer. JamesRoberts (talk) 00:25, 6 March 2014 (UTC)
  • Yes It's fine like that, per arguments above. Floatsam (talk) 01:15, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.