Talk:Harvard University/Archive 4

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older

♥♥♥♥♥hi im 10 when im older i want to go harvard what iq do you have to have or grade♥♥♥♥♥♥ —Preceding unsigned comment added by 178.103.63.1 (talk) 23:23, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

"is it the first?"

words to this effect ('first?') should be a section or subsection, based around the text of what is currently the long footnote. It should be linked from the intro paragraph.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by 94.27.191.185 (talk) 15:37, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Benjamin Netanyahu

The Prime Minister of Israel, why he is not in the list of the Alumni?

Mostly because Netanyahu is affiliated more with MIT than he is with Harvard. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.85.212.212 (talk) 00:52, 24 November 2010 (UTC)
The fact still remains that he's an alumnus. I'm adding him in the section. Aclarado (talk) 06:13, 22 December 2010 (UTC)

New lead

Given the sorry state of the lead (superlative after superlative) and the likelihood that the previous discussion about boosterism would just turn into a pissing match, I've made a major overhaul to the lead which I believe does a far better job providing important information (campus, athletics, enrollments) and also summarizing and contextualizing the rest of the article (history, administration, alumni). Feel free to discuss here. Madcoverboy (talk) 17:40, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

I'd also note that it apparently takes an MIT alumnus to write a proper article about Harvard :) Madcoverboy (talk) 17:41, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't know Madcoverboy. I think a few of the editors in the above section have a good point: At some point, once the evidence becomes overwhelming, it ceases to be boosterism to say that Harvard has long been considered one of the very best universities in the world and it becomes not only verifiable fact but indeed common knowledge.
I think that sometimes we go too far in fighting boosterism and fail to recognize that sometimes there is truth on the claims of perceived excellence. This seems to be such a case, IMHO.
(I'd also suggest removing the word "currently" in the sentence that says that Harvard has the largest endowment in the world. It's unnecessary, particularly in light of the fact that Harvard's endowment is so much larger than other institutions' endowments that is inconceivable that someone will ever catch up given the mathematical power of compounding interest.) ElKevbo (talk) 18:09, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
I certainly don't dispute that Harvard has a historically privileged position in American higher education. But claims such as the one above are far too slippery of a slope: it's obvious that the IP editor thought Harvard's use of these weasel words excuses it in other contexts as well. In that case, we get to rehash arguments such as "Well Harvard does it, why can't we?" ad nauseum. As I mentioned, I feel a far better alternative is to explain Harvard's distinctiveness among higher education institutions rather than using the crutch of synthesizing claims from intrinsically flawed rankings. Madcoverboy (talk) 18:17, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
To that end, I significantly expanded and reorganized the article in an attempt to capture the substantive facts and contextual information about the university. On the issue of rankings, whatever they purport to measure are simply subjective abstractions of otherwise factual data (administrator's perceptions of quality, prizes won, research activity). Why not simply report these statistics instead of synthesizing claims about quality from arbitrarily-weighted metrics? Madcoverboy (talk) 22:05, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Madcoverboy speaks the truth. Just state the facts, simple as that. That's a trait of a good encyclopedic article. Sure, many people believe Harvard is consistently ranked as a leading university in the world by numerous sources, but let the rankings speak for themselves. What's more is that if we allowed such claims to be present in university articles, there could potentially be many disputes over which universities would be considered "leading" and which wouldn't. For example, a university ranked 30th by authoritative sources might not seem like a leading university when you look at that number by itself, but when you consider that there are over 9000 universities in the world (from what I've heard - correct me if I'm wrong), that essentially means the university is ranked in the top 0.3% of all universities in the world. So it seems reasonable to label such a university as "leading". Soon alumni from universities ranked 50th and 100th are going to come barging in, saying that their universities should be labeled "leading" as well - and in all honesty, depending on where one sets the threshold, this could be the case. But obviously not all universities can be considered leading. Where's the cut-off? How can we establish this threshold? It is in no way easy to determine a non-arbitrary number for this. It's better to just state the facts (like a good encyclopedic article) rather than make implications that could lead to a mess like the one I described. Good job on the new intro Madcoverboy. --208.120.72.134 (talk) 22:40, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't know where you should establish the cutoff but it would disingenuous if someone were to suggest that Harvard doesn't make the cut.
My focus is not necessarily on rankings and I think it's not productive to fixate on them. But don't you think it's strange that this article doesn't outright say in the lead that Harvard is widely considered to be the best university in the U.S. and sometimes the world? There's a reason why so many institutions claim to be the "Harvard of the ___" and I think it's ridiculous for us to ignore that. We shouldn't dance around it or force readers to guess or make assumptions; this is a widely known fact and we should be honest and upfront about it because it is incredibly important if one is to understand Harvard. ElKevbo (talk) 05:32, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
I have no doubt that "Harvard is widely considered the best university in the U.S. and sometimes the world". (Of course, so are a lot of other universities - HYSP and OxBridge probably share this claim more than any other university in the Europe and the USA). However, a good encyclopedia article must maintain quality material and leave out the fat. I believe that rankings can warrant inclusion in a good encyclopedia article if (i) the rankings were created by authoritative sources, e.g. that have been established as having authority on the subject, and (ii) more importantly, if the ranking methodologies are sensible, satisfactory and serve to accurately rank the university based on relevant academic strengths rather than perceived prestige and similar snobbery junk, or even crowd mentality which universities like Harvard too often fall victim to (i.e. it's obvious that many people [e.g. laymen] think Harvard is the best precisely because many people think Harvard is the best, often without having themselves even determined any other reasons why it would possibly be the best). Unfortunately, simply stating something like "Harvard is widely considered the best university in the U.S. and sometimes the world" by itself does not do much to prove that it passes i and ii. This sentence effectively claims that Harvard is widely considered #1 in lists that rank how "good" a university is (with #1 obviously being denoted the "best"). Nonetheless, I presume that this sentence acts as an implication made based on a few specific ranking lists mentioned in the article that essentially purport the same thing (e.g. U.S. News and World Report). In this case, it might be fine to include such a sentence, given that you reference the relevant sources and the relevant sources pass i and ii above. --82.31.164.172 (talk) 21:08, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Your fixation on rankings is unproductive and even a bit disruptive. ElKevbo (talk) 20:26, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Sounds a bit hypocritical. You were the one who suggested that we should include the claim that Harvard is widely considered the best university in the US and sometimes the world (which is a ranking in itself and is based on what other rankers have purported). --82.31.164.172 (talk) 20:40, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
I would not expect an encyclopedia article to state that a band is the best. But I would expect the article about The Beatles to note that they're one of the most successful and influential bands in modern history. And the very first sentence of that article does just that by saying that they are "one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music." This article should say something similar instead of beating around the bush and hoping that readers will be able to divine from arcane lists and statistics that a lot of people think that Harvard is the best or among the very best universities in the world.
That's why I said fine, go ahead and make the claim that it is widely considered the "best" as long as you include some references and as long as those references are authoritative and including sensible ranking methodologies. --82.31.164.172 (talk) 21:05, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
We're trying so hard to avoid unwarranted and inaccurate boosterism that we're actively hurting this and other articles by suppressing useful and relevant information. ElKevbo (talk) 20:49, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
And note that I'm not suggesting that we say that it's the best, only that it is widely believed to be the best. That's an incontrovertible fact and it's ridiculous to suppress it. There is a slippery slope argument to be made but this isn't the place to make it. ElKevbo (talk) 05:32, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
All fine points. I believe you could find some fine historical books or scholarly articles that establish the exceptional perceptions of its quality. This NBER article on students' revealed preferences consistently places Harvard on top and goes a long way towards substantiating it independent of games one can play with weighting annual statistics differently. However, I draw the line in the sand at synthesized claims with weasel-worded statements cited to rankings. Madcoverboy (talk) 06:03, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
If Harvard gets to do it, then shouldn't Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, and Chicago? And if they can, surely Williams, Wesleyan, and Amherst can as well? Then again, Berkeley and Michigan rank higher than some of those schools, so surely they have standing to make the claim. Before you know it, some vague claim will be on Cal State Stanislaus and UT Dallas and we'll get to play the same 'ol game of "well Harvard's article has it." I simply refuse to set this precedent as lay editors will simply run away with it. Madcoverboy (talk) 06:12, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Madcoverboy, and think he's written an exceptionally good lede. Let the main points he's enumerated speak for themselves. We don't need another survey-citing lede: as he says, those have a way of drawing out all manner of boosterism and one-upmanship. MarmadukePercy (talk) 06:25, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
Case closed. If anyone sees any similar cases of boosterism in other articles, please do justice and eliminate. Cheers. --82.31.164.172 (talk) 16:08, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
When time permits, I plan to raise this general issue in a much more visible venue. ElKevbo (talk) 16:33, 31 August 2010 (UTC)


From WP:LEAD: "The lead should be able to stand alone as a concise overview of the article. It should define the topic, establish context, explain why the subject is interesting or notable, and summarize the most important points—including any notable controversies. The emphasis given to material in the lead should roughly reflect its importance to the topic, according to reliable, published sources, and the notability of the article's subject should usually be established in the first sentence."

Not including any references to Harvard's high-rankings as referenced in the article itself goes against the relevant guideline. It's also inconsistent with nearly every article on this site, as many contain so-called boosterism. University of Oxford, The Beatles, Casablanca (film), Abraham Lincoln, and William Shakespeare all contain "boosterism" (and The Beatles, Casablanca, and Shakespeare are featured articles). ~DC Let's Vent 19:56, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

I fail to see how the failure to discuss rankings in the lede is any more inconsistent with the policy than the failure to discuss admission statistics, annual enrollment numbers, or any other statistic mentioned in the body but not summarized in the lead. 30% of the weight in the ARWU comes from number of Nobel Prizes awarded to affiliates, this statistic *is* mentioned in the lead, for example. Rankings in of themselves neither establish notability or context, explain why the subject is interesting, nor summarize the most important parts of the article; they're arbitrarily-weighted abstractions of other extant data. If other editors feel that the lead is an insufficient summary, they are free to cite a specific ranking (eg, "Harvard was ranked first in the 2010 ARWU ranking") rather than synthesizing claims or employing weasel-worded terminology. Madcoverboy (talk) 20:35, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
I remind editors that the threshold for inclusion on Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. No one is disputing that Harvard stands apart from other institutions in both popular and academic culture. However, citing rankings from a single year certainly does not allow one to verify the claims being made about the "consistency" of its quality; that is simply the institution's ranking for a given year by an organization employing a particular methodology. If "Harvard was ranked Xth by Y" is the claim editors wish to make in the lead, then make precisely *that* claim. Madcoverboy (talk) 20:40, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
The Encyclopedia Britannica says Harvard is "oldest institution of higher learning in the United States (founded 1636) and one of the nation’s most prestigious." An administrator at Princeton said Harvard is the "prestige brand...the Gucci of higher education" in a 2005 interview with USA Today. A 2003 Gallup poll found that Americans think of Harvard as the best school in the country. ~DC Let's Vent 20:57, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
If you want to define the prestige of your institution by what a Princeton University administrator says in a USA Today interview or 7-year old survey says, that's your prerogative. I'm of the mind that a talented editor might find some actual peer-reviewed scholarship on historical perceptions of university prestige that we can include. Madcoverboy (talk) 21:01, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
I feel like the Brittanica one is enough on it's own. Also, per WP:RS we can use news organizations. ~DC Let's Vent 21:06, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm not disputing whether they're reliable sources of information under WP:RS. I'm disputing whether or not they are sources that let one verify the statement "Harvard is consistently recognized as one of the best/prestigious universities in the nation/world". Both seem to fall into the camp of "Harvard is popularly perceived as the best university in the nation". Madcoverboy (talk) 22:40, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Well it does consistently makes lists of top schools, seeing as two different groups have named it number one in the world for the last 8 and 6 years. Even if we don't roll with that, why not say it's one of the most prestigious in the country/world, because popular perception is what makes it so prestigious.
On another note, can I suggest you slow down a bit. You've made similar efforts on several other schools this month, without much of consensus. ~DC Let's Vent 00:32, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
Unless you have specific concerns about the content of my contributions which you would like to raise on those articles or my talk page, I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell me how I should go about volunteering my time and expertise. Madcoverboy (talk) 03:32, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

From Harvard's iPod app: "About Harvard - Harvard University is devoted to excellence in teaching, learning, research, and to developing leaders in many disciplines who make a difference globally. The University has twelve degree-granting Schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Established in 1636, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States. The University, which is based in Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts, has an enrollment of over 20,000 degree candidates, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Harvard has more than 360,000 alumni around the world." CaribDigita (talk) 18:35, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

Edit warring

Since editors appear to be more interested in edit warring over the presence or absence of modifiers about prestige in the lead (although no discussion of prestige actually occurs in the body of the article), I've requested full page protection until a consensus exists (1) to include said information cited to an appropriate source and (2) the wording to be employed to make the claim. As it stands now, I believe no claim should be made in the lead until (1) there is a discussion of prestige in the body of the article with enough weight to warrant mention in the lead and (2) this discussion is cited to reliable sources specifically making claims about prestige and not rankings, quality, selectivity, etc. Madcoverboy (talk) 15:59, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

GA Review

This review is transcluded from Talk:Harvard University/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Comment: Madcoverboy (talk) 16:30, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Well-written:

(a) the prose is clear and the spelling and grammar are correct; and
 Fail The history section is poorly cited and written, entire paragraphs devoted to relatively minor episodes such as Agassiz's class etc. while impact of major episodes of American history (Civil War, World Wars & Great Depression, racial integration & coeducation, 1960s-70s student activism on campus, etc.) are wholly ignored; inappropriate use of embedded lists which need to be prose-ified; several single-sentence paragraphs throughout
(b) it complies with the manual of style guidelines for lead sections, layout, words to watch, fiction, and list incorporation.[1]
 Fail Several sections have embedded lists which have been templated since June 2009 and need to be prose-ified; the faculty & staff section has been templated and needs to be expanded; the "In popular culture" needs to be integrated, summarized, or done away with.

Factually accurate and verifiable:

(a) it provides references to all sources of information in the section(s) dedicated to the attribution of these sources according to the guide to layout;
 Fail Several sections such as Athletics, Student Activities, Research lack citations for many statements.
(b) it provides in-line citations from reliable sources for direct quotations, statistics, published opinion, counter-intuitive or controversial statements that are challenged or likely to be challenged, and contentious material relating to living persons—science-based articles should follow the scientific citation guidelines; and
 Pass Inconsistent citation formatting,
(c) it contains no original research.
 Pass

Broad in its coverage:

(a) it addresses the main aspects of the topic; and
 Fail No discussion of research contributions or activities, architectural history of campus(es), student or faculty government, athletic activities beyond football & crew, notable art or other holdings in libraries & museums,
(b) it stays focused on the topic without going into unnecessary detail (see summary style).
 Fail Likely undue weight on student activities, recentist coverage of campus expansion

Neutral: it represents viewpoints fairly and without bias.

Stable: it does not change significantly from day to day because of an ongoing edit war or content dispute.[4]
 Fail The article just had several major changes to the lead and other sections introduced in the previous week, there's an on-going discussion about incorporating some mention of prestige in the lead.
Illustrated, if possible, by images:
 Pass A few images of campus, more needed given the length of the article. Several sections have no images.
(a) images are tagged with their copyright status, and valid fair use rationales are provided for non-free content; and
 Pass
(b) images are relevant to the topic, and have suitable captions.
 Pass Images need alt tags, possibly wikilinks to topic mentioned, etc.
A very premature nomination that should be speedily closed. Madcoverboy (talk) 16:30, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
Considering that WP:GAN explicitly states "you cannot review an article if you have made significant contributions to it prior to the review," and you definitely made significant contributions to the article, I would say you shouldn't review this article. ~DC Let's Vent 18:03, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
It is precisely because of my contributions to this article that I did not close this GAN but rather voiced my objections which are hard to dispute. Madcoverboy (talk) 18:19, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
Or you have an axe to grind. You spent much of August systematically going through college articles and whitewashing them to conform to your own essay. ~DC Let's Vent 18:31, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
This discussion has now become tangential from either incorporating prestige into the lead or evaluating the GA criteria. You appear to be editing while angry. I would caution you against making bad faith assumptions of other editors, unless you want to raise specific accusations on a dispute resolution forum. Madcoverboy (talk) 18:52, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
I dont understand how you can separate "prestige" from Harvard in the lead. they go hand-in-hand (no i did not go to harvard and have only been to Mass. as a child) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 207.238.152.3 (talk) 18:40, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Reviewer: Edge3 (talk) 22:07, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

WP:GAN rules clearly state "you cannot review an article if you have made significant contributions to it prior to the review". On that basis I am usurping Madcoverboy's status as reviewer in this nomination. Cheers! Edge3 (talk) 22:07, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

I agree with Madcoverboy that this article is not ready for GA at the moment. Numerous statements remain unsourced, many embedded lists need to be converted into prose format, and trivial information is receiving too much importance in the article. I suggest that you take a look at similar university articles at GA or FA status. GAs include University of Chicago, University of Oxford, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. FAs include Dartmouth College and Georgetown University. Edge3 (talk) 22:30, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
alright fair enough. What would you consider trivial information so I can work on removing it? ~DC Let's Vent 03:31, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
If the article is to be rated GA I suggest also making it clearer what is undeniable fact and what is merely opinion. Quantifiable info, years, dates, etc., are factual. How beautiful something is, how ugly something is, how prestigious something is, etc., are not. This issue arises in the following sentence: "Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the country, as well as one of the most prestigious". In this sentence, the part before the comma is factual information, and the part after is opinion. It is a fact that Harvard is REGARDED by the referenced source as one of the most prestigious; it is not necessarily fact that Harvard IS one of the most prestigious - such a claim is largely unverifiable so it is best to make it clear from the onset that this is opinion. Thus, you should make this clearer by modifying the sentence so that it is phrased in a manner similar to the following: "Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the country, and regarded as one of the most prestigious." --82.31.164.172 (talk) 14:05, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
The trivial information needs to be reduced, not removed. The "In fiction and popular culture" section, for example, should present only the most notable references to Harvard in popular culture. Edge3 (talk) 14:45, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

Student activities: list or prose

Hello fellow editors,

You may remember seeing a

template message in the 'Student activities' section.  I have, as best as I knew how, converted the list into prose.  In short, this was mostly removing the bullet points and making the information look more like it was in paragraph form.  There are a few comments I would like to make beyond that, though, to explain what else I did:

I also rewrote (basically just rearranged information) some sentences.  I changed '(founded ####)' into ', founded in ####, '.  I combined some student activities to make larger paragraphs, and also combined some of their sentences with semicolons in an effort to avoid confusion with different activities being in the same paragraphs.  In an effort to increase the section's ease of readability, I added paragraph indentations (four non-breaking spaces) and an extra space (also non-breaking) between sentences.  If acronyms are used, then they should be declared at the first occurrence of whatever they stand for; I added those declarations where I noticed they were needed.  I removed the template message.  Sorry if I forgot to mention anything else.

In case you have not noticed, I am new to Wikipedia and not very experienced with editing it.  I would not be offended if someone were to 'undo' my edit and provide a sufficient explanation as to why it was not good enough.  Since it was work that I would not like to do all over again, I saved the section to my computer as a Word document, which includes all the brackets and HTML tags seen while editing.  That way, it can be easily replaced by simple copying and pasting if the section is changed (although I would do this only with a good reason and not just because it was changed).

Sincerely, Casdmo (talk) 22:11, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

Archive this

WhisperToMe (talk) 01:40, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

Pre-Harvard Jesuit presence

In response to this edit, I received the following message on my talk page:

Hello. Well, I see you delete my edit of Harvard colonial history, because, and I quote, "highly dubious assertions with inadequate sourcing". What does it mean? What's wrong with this source: Dominique Deslandres, Croire et faire croire, Fayard, 2003, p.287. There is the author's name, the book's name, the edition, the year and the page... It's not a newspaper, it's an historical book about Canada and New France made by a doctor at the University of Montreal with the help of doctors at the University of Chicago etc. You can also found the same information in the French and Canadian National Archives (Colonial section), also, I don't have the sources at the moment (It's not like I've them with me all the time haha). Anyway, it's a fact and a recent discovery, do you need me to scan the page and the Jesuit XVIIth century documents? It's a recent discovery and like I said, the Jesuit College was short lived, so the College wasn't big and important. It's more like a small history fact and a history anecdote. It was more like a place to gather the Amerindians and convert them. But still, it's important to know the Harvard College wasn't born on nothing but rather on a place where others had tried to build a College as well. The history of Harvard doesn't start on 1636, there was life there before. Sorry, but I don't see what's dubious and inadequate? Except for my English which isn't my first language... sorry for my bad English. Say me what I did wrong and what you need (sources etc), and I will try to provide them as much as I can. In advance thank you for your answer, best regards, 162eRI (talk) 04:49, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

I responded briefly that I am moving the discussion to this page in order to engage a broader spectrum of editorial responses. My initial response will be posted immediately below. Fat&Happy (talk) 05:44, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

I am primarily applying the principle that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary sources".
"Extraordinary claims" would seem to apply because according to most established history, and specifically the Wikipedia articles covering the subject area, Boston was firmly in English hands by 1635 – specifically Puritan English hands, completely hostile to the Catholic Church and the Jesuits, not to mention France. Massachusetts and surrounding areas were part of New England, not New France. Were the claim to be made that, e.g., the Jesuits established a college elsewhere in what is now the United States – Wisconsin, Chicago, New Orleans, St. Louis – which predated Harvard, sources would still be required, but the claim would not be quite as extraordinary as that they established one in Puritan Massachusetts.
The citation for the book could use a bit more information, including publisher and ISBN, as well as some indication it should be considered a reliable source; in this case reliable enough to be used as the source for a seemingly unlikely assertion (or, editors may point out an error in my premise which makes the assertion less unlikely). If the book is not widely available, a direct quotation would be helpful. If any of the archives you mention are available online, links would be helpful.
The above only represents my view on the issue; as with any discussion at Wikipedia, the views of other editors may differ. Hopefully we can have a productive discussion and reach a consensus on the matter. Fat&Happy (talk) 05:44, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

As much respect as I have for the Jesuits, the suggestion made by this editor is preposterous exactly for the reasons you've outlined. MarmadukePercy (talk) 05:53, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

Deslandres, Croire et faire croire, is indeed a serious scholarly book. It deals with Canada. The founding of Harvard College by Samuel Eliot Morison Appendix C discusses the French Jesuit college in QUEBEC that opened three years before Harvard--it was the only Jesuit school in North America. Furthermore "college" meant high school; the school was designed for French boys not Indians, and it was in Canada not Massachusetts. Morison is online at Morison on Jesuit College in Canada Rjensen (talk) 11:13, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, I feel like a fool, because indeed, it's hardly, if not at all, possible the Jesuits could have open a College around Boston by 1635... So I will double check to see what kind of mistake I made (the year, an other American place...) So, aside from my stupid mistake, I will provide the ISBN and the exact quote in French (and translate) of the assertion. If needed, I will contact Deslandres at Montreal. About French College, it doesn't only mean high-school in French, especially in the 17th century. Colleges, for the Jesuits, are places of studies designed for French boys, yes, but can also be designed for Amerindians, like in New France. Young Amerindians boys would come to the Jesuit College and learn to become perfect young Catholic French boys (to make it short... something similar to Indian Reductions). The biggest and oldest College was indeed in Quebec, but there was many other "Amerindians College" in New France. I'm going to get my hand on the book this afternoon and list some of them. Cheers, 162eRI (talk) 15:48, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, still didn't have the time to check. I will next week, 162eRI (talk) 21:40, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg attended Harvard, but did not graduate. The way the piece is written now is as follows: "Among the best-known graduates of Harvard University are American political leaders....." The wording will have to be changed, as it implies Zuckerberg is a graduate. Which he is not. MarmadukePercy (talk) 21:24, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

Ah, ok - I didn't see that. Thanks for pointing it out!
I'm not sure what the best course of action is here. On the one hand, I think Zuckerberg's Harvard connection is interesting and historically important given how it is connected so intimately with Facebook. On the other hand, I think that changing the sentence to describe alumni would be a change for the worse because it's such a commonly-misunderstood word that is much less clear than "graduates." Am I overthinking this??? ElKevbo (talk) 21:55, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
I suppose one fix might be to change the wording to 'Among the best-known people who have attended Harvard....,' which gets around the 'graduate' issue. Or perhaps, "Among Harvard's best-known alumni,' which as you say doesn't require graduating. In any case, just wanted to point out the need for a small fix here. I do think Zuckerberg's connection is interesting, given the role Harvard seems to have played in that story. MarmadukePercy (talk) 22:00, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
I like your first suggestion; it's simple and direct. Thanks so much! ElKevbo (talk) 22:09, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
Does that mean we should also now include Bill Gates, up until now perhaps the most famous success story of a Harvard drop-out? Fat&Happy (talk) 22:13, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
Yes! Good call! ElKevbo (talk) 23:02, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

Nine or ten faculties?

The article says that there are nine faculties, which it then follows with a list of ten faculties. Maybe it's accurate but worded badly. Either way, it needs a tweak. I'd do if it I knew. dweinberger 19:31, 11 March 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dweinberger (talkcontribs)

Updating Rankings, etc.

Recently, there was an alteration of Harvard's ranking by a particular university from 9 to 11. Of course, the truth of that is of concern, but what also needs to be taken into consideration if such a change is made is that the referenced source needs to agree. In this case, it was ranked 9 on that particular citation. If updating to 2011 stats, please include a new citation along with the change. Kfodderst (talk) 06:15, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

The Washington Monthly home page and main "College Guide" page show the 2010 rankings, in which Harvard is #9, as being the most current. Fat&Happy (talk) 15:16, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

Harvard is absolutely the most famous and the most prestigious universities in the world, all university ranking and many reliable sources has been put Harvard reputation as the leading academic institution on earth.

So, it would reliable to named Harvard as the most prestigious universities in the world, and NOT " ONE OF THE MOST ".! —Preceding unsigned comment added by 110.137.249.12 (talk) 08:18, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

What is the difference between 'Harvard College' and 'Harvard University'?

The article uses two terms, 'Harvard College' and 'Harvard University', seemingly without definition or explanation of the difference between them.

You state the institution became Harvard College in 1639. But the title of this article is 'Harvard University'. Providing history is fine -- we all want to hear it. But now we're waiting for you to tell us when 'Harvard College' became 'Harvard University'. Or, if there was no such event, then what do the two terms mean? I for one can't find it.

In addition, there is a separate Wikipedia article titled 'Harvard College'. You don't even cross-reference it at the top of the article. (The disambiguation statement, "'Harvard' redirects here. For other uses, see Harvard (disambiguation)" is fine, but insufficient. You also need: "For Harvard College, see Harvard College."

One of the most prestigious institutions in the country, with a $27.4B endowment, is incapable of seeing to it that one of the highest-profile public descriptions of itself, updated as recently as 2 days ago, is professionally written.

Time and again, I have come to Wikipedia to settle a fundamental fact, and it's a complete no-show. I'm writing a historical article that mentions Harvard a number of times, and I need to tell the reader when Harvard College became Harvard University (if that even happened). The specifics are covered; the fundamentals are not.

It'd be analagous to going to Wikipedia's page about the periodic table of elements and finding an element missing.

In these troubled times, it is a comfort to welcome, now even Harvard, to -- quoting Charles P. Pierce's book title -- Idiot America.

--Jim Luedke Jimlue (talk) 06:57, 22 May 2011 (UTC)

The third sentence of the body of History of Harvard University reads, "It received its corporate charter in 1650 and became a university in 1780." I'm having trouble sourcing this based on a cursory googling. I've added a citation needed to that article. The correct date probably warrants inclusion in the present article, but only once a WP:RS has confirmed it. Lagrange613 (talk) 22:31, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
Harvard College currently refers to the undergraduate college, separate from Harvard's graduate schools. Harvard University refers to the entire institution. I have no idea how long this usage has existed. As stated in the article, Harvard originally trained clergy; however, this was at a time when there wasn't a standardized separation between Bachelor's and Master's programs. If you want to know when Harvard College "became" Harvard University in today's terms, look up when it added its first graduate school. But that isn't likely to be the same year that it started referring to itself as Harvard University.

Could someone hyperlink South End Press?

To the South End Press Wikipedia page? Thank you, Seergenius (talk) 02:59, 11 July 2011 (UTC)Seergenius — Preceding unsigned comment added by Seergenius (talkcontribs) 02:55, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

I'd have done it but the other publishers don't look like they're linked. And FYI you should be able to do it yourself. Hot Stop (c) 03:57, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Edit request from Judgeclay, 2 August 2011

You forgot some people on the famous people that went to Harvard. 1.Fred Gwynne-actor (My Cousin Vinny,The Munsters,The Cotton Club) 2.Al Lewis- actor (The Munsters,Car 54, Where Are You)

Judgeclay (talk) 20:42, 2 August 2011 (UTC)

Not done: please provide reliable sources that support the change you want to be made. — Bility (talk) 20:55, 2 August 2011 (UTC)

Harvard University archives

The university archives has a rather impressive set of online materials Wikipedia should make better use of: [1] Madcoverboy (talk) 03:13, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

Zuckerberg’s Harvard moment: What the students are saying

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-11-08/facebook-s-zuckerberg-becomes-latest-harvard-dropout-to-drop-in.html and more at google news Ottawahitech (talk) 20:29, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

Harvard's treatment in other Wikipedias with regard to "prestige"

So, as a personal exploration of Harvard's a) world b) prestige, I decided to look at how the other Wikipedias handled this. This is not anything that can be used in the article, because Wikipedia articles are not reliable sources, and because it involves a personal synthesis and original research. But it's a legitimate tool for me to use in calibrating my own thinking. Remember, I am particularly concerned about the word "prestige," because I think it carries some baggage in the form of a non-neutral point of view; because I think it is a U.S.-centric term; and because I always want to know why people are so insistent on the use of this particular word, rather than "fame" or "reputation." A Wikipedia editor says "the university's prestige is one of its defining characteristics." If it is a defining characteristic, then it ought to show up frequently in the foreign-language Wikipedias. It is at least relevant to see how our international colleagues have handled this.

I looked at the major languages surrounding the globe at http://www.wikipedia.org : Spanish, German, French, Polish, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, and relied on Google Translate. I had to throw out Japanese because Google's translation was unintelligible. In the following list I roughly categorize some claims, and I give them in the order the article gives them. (I use "oldest" here to mean merely oldest in the United States).

  • Spanish: 1) Member of the Ivy League 2) Oldest 3) "Best" university in the world according to rankings. "Prestige" not used.
  • German: 1) Oldest. No other claims noted in the short lead. "Prestige" not used.
  • French: 1) Oldest; 2) Member of the Ivy League which is "an informal organization of eight universities comprising the oldest and most famous." "Prestige" not used.
  • Polish 1) Oldest, specifically "First university in the British colonies of North America." "Prestige" not used.
  • Chinese: 1) Oldest. "Are located in Cambridge, the school and the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the world to enjoy first-class university 's reputation, wealth and influence." "Prestige" not used.
  • Italian: 1) great fame; 2) oldest, 3) one of the three most prestigious in the U.S. together with Yale and Princeton. 4) Top-ranked in some rankings.
  • Russian: 1) one of the most famous universities in the U.S. and around the world, 2) Oldest. "Prestige" not used.

My personal synthesis:

  • this does not support the idea that "prestige" is a defining characteristic of Harvard, or that it clearly enjoys world prestige. Only one of the seven uses a word that Google translates as "prestige."
  • Age is clearly one of Harvard's defining characteristics, mentioned in all seven articles. I think I even sense that globally Harvard's age is considered more important than it is in the U.S. and that is respected globally for that reason.
  • I think it is significant that those that speak of reputation never single it out, but either identify it as "part of the Ivy League" (two), or mention the other highest-reputation U.S. universities by name ("Yale and Princeton" in case, "MIT" in another). I personally it is accurate to say that in the United States, Harvard is seen as "first among equals" in the Ivy League. I do sense this in the foreign-language Wikipedias.

My personal preference: 1) find a good, directly quotable non-U.S. source that speaks to Harvard's world reputation, fame, or influence, and forget prestige. 2) If a formulation like "one of the world's most" is going to be used, it should be clearly indicated who the rivals are. Without that, it just sounds like a fig leaf qualification: "We really mean, and we intend for you to understand that it is the world's most, but we are putting the magic phrase 'one of' in front of it to make it unfalsifiable." Dpbsmith (talk) 15:32, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

I'm sorry but it's a terrible idea to use an automated translation to explore a nuanced idea like "prestige." A cross-cultural comparison could indeed be useful and interesting but this one has a fatally flawed methodology. ElKevbo (talk) 19:34, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
It's an exploration and a ranging shot, nothing more. Dpbsmith (talk) 01:27, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

Semi-protection

Lost in the discussion above about prestige is a question about why the article is semi-protected. I suspect it's because this article about one the world's most prestigious universities attracts more than it's fair share of vandalism. :) But if the question is a leading one that is really meant to encourage us to try unprotecting the article then that is certainly a fair request. Any objections to having an admin unprotect the article? We can always have the semi-protection reinstated if necessary or desirable. ElKevbo (talk) 18:49, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

Articles are supposed to be semi-protected for a reasonable period of time following any vandalism (was the vandalism really that bad or was some abusive moderator just being picky?). The current semi-protection time allotted is excessive and I propose we give it a rest. Do you see any other university article with a chastity belt? --Coolbb (talk) 07:26, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't know of any other college or university articles that are permanently semi-protected. In fairness to the administrator who initiated the protection, my guess is that this is the most widely-visited university article by a wide margin and thus the one that is vandalized the most.
I'll ask that the article be unprotected. ElKevbo (talk) 08:05, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
I've requested it be permanently semi-protected again. In about four days since the protection was removed the page was vandalized 12 times by IP/new users. Hot StopUTC 07:01, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
The vandalism seems scarce for something that would warrant permanent semi-protection, relatively speaking. Many unprotected articles get vandalized more often yet only receive periodic protection lasting several days maximum. --Coolbb (talk) 07:34, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

Harvard's treatment in other Wikipedias with regard to "prestige"

So, as a personal exploration of Harvard's a) world b) prestige, I decided to look at how the other Wikipedias handled this. This is not anything that can be used in the article, because Wikipedia articles are not reliable sources, and because it involves a personal synthesis and original research. But it's a legitimate tool for me to use in calibrating my own thinking. Remember, I am particularly concerned about the word "prestige," because I think it carries some baggage in the form of a non-neutral point of view; because I think it is a U.S.-centric term; and because I always want to know why people are so insistent on the use of this particular word, rather than "fame" or "reputation." A Wikipedia editor says "the university's prestige is one of its defining characteristics." If it is a defining characteristic, then it ought to show up frequently in the foreign-language Wikipedias. It is at least relevant to see how our international colleagues have handled this.

I looked at the major languages surrounding the globe at http://www.wikipedia.org : Spanish, German, French, Polish, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, and relied on Google Translate. I had to throw out Japanese because Google's translation was unintelligible. In the following list I roughly categorize some claims, and I give them in the order the article gives them. (I use "oldest" here to mean merely oldest in the United States).

  • Spanish: 1) Member of the Ivy League 2) Oldest 3) "Best" university in the world according to rankings. "Prestige" not used.
  • German: 1) Oldest. No other claims noted in the short lead. "Prestige" not used.
  • French: 1) Oldest; 2) Member of the Ivy League which is "an informal organization of eight universities comprising the oldest and most famous." "Prestige" not used.
  • Polish 1) Oldest, specifically "First university in the British colonies of North America." "Prestige" not used.
  • Chinese: 1) Oldest. "Are located in Cambridge, the school and the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the world to enjoy first-class university 's reputation, wealth and influence." "Prestige" not used.
  • Italian: 1) great fame; 2) oldest, 3) one of the three most prestigious in the U.S. together with Yale and Princeton. 4) Top-ranked in some rankings.
  • Russian: 1) one of the most famous universities in the U.S. and around the world, 2) Oldest. "Prestige" not used.

My personal synthesis:

  • this does not support the idea that "prestige" is a defining characteristic of Harvard, or that it clearly enjoys world prestige. Only one of the seven uses a word that Google translates as "prestige."
  • Age is clearly one of Harvard's defining characteristics, mentioned in all seven articles. I think I even sense that globally Harvard's age is considered more important than it is in the U.S. and that is respected globally for that reason.
  • I think it is significant that those that speak of reputation never single it out, but either identify it as "part of the Ivy League" (two), or mention the other highest-reputation U.S. universities by name ("Yale and Princeton" in case, "MIT" in another). I personally it is accurate to say that in the United States, Harvard is seen as "first among equals" in the Ivy League. I do sense this in the foreign-language Wikipedias.

My personal preference: 1) find a good, directly quotable non-U.S. source that speaks to Harvard's world reputation, fame, or influence, and forget prestige. 2) If a formulation like "one of the world's most" is going to be used, it should be clearly indicated who the rivals are. Without that, it just sounds like a fig leaf qualification: "We really mean, and we intend for you to understand that it is the world's most, but we are putting the magic phrase 'one of' in front of it to make it unfalsifiable." Dpbsmith (talk) 15:32, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

I'm sorry but it's a terrible idea to use an automated translation to explore a nuanced idea like "prestige." A cross-cultural comparison could indeed be useful and interesting but this one has a fatally flawed methodology. ElKevbo (talk) 19:34, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
It's an exploration and a ranging shot, nothing more. Dpbsmith (talk) 01:27, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

Semi-protection

Lost in the discussion above about prestige is a question about why the article is semi-protected. I suspect it's because this article about one the world's most prestigious universities attracts more than it's fair share of vandalism. :) But if the question is a leading one that is really meant to encourage us to try unprotecting the article then that is certainly a fair request. Any objections to having an admin unprotect the article? We can always have the semi-protection reinstated if necessary or desirable. ElKevbo (talk) 18:49, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

Articles are supposed to be semi-protected for a reasonable period of time following any vandalism (was the vandalism really that bad or was some abusive moderator just being picky?). The current semi-protection time allotted is excessive and I propose we give it a rest. Do you see any other university article with a chastity belt? --Coolbb (talk) 07:26, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't know of any other college or university articles that are permanently semi-protected. In fairness to the administrator who initiated the protection, my guess is that this is the most widely-visited university article by a wide margin and thus the one that is vandalized the most.
I'll ask that the article be unprotected. ElKevbo (talk) 08:05, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
I've requested it be permanently semi-protected again. In about four days since the protection was removed the page was vandalized 12 times by IP/new users. Hot StopUTC 07:01, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
The vandalism seems scarce for something that would warrant permanent semi-protection, relatively speaking. Many unprotected articles get vandalized more often yet only receive periodic protection lasting several days maximum. --Coolbb (talk) 07:34, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

The Header Dispute

Since there's a recently started disagreement, perhaps I should start if of here, this edit ([2]) what User:Megapixel has made claims it to be Moved line about prestige to appropriate section where compared to other schools. Does not belong in opening paragraph. No other University wikipedia listing has such a proclamation or statement on prestige, only to end up getting reverted by ElKevbo. My question is this: Should this be removed from the lead, or should be integrated in another section of the article? Abhijay What did I do this time? 05:53, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

See Harvard's treatment in other Wikipedias with regard to "prestige" and Boosterism in Lead, two and three sections above, respectively. Fat&Happy (talk) 06:08, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
I agree that we should be vigilant to ensure that college and university articles don't unduly praise their subjects, particularly since it can quickly get out of hand and become meaningless. But there really are a handful of institutions for whom their prestige is so well-known and widespread that it has become one of their defining characteristics. Harvard University is one of those institutions. It's essential for readers to understand that Harvard University is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. That's what so many people know about it and why its alumni are disproportionately represented among the political and economic elite. Indeed, it's why so many colleges, universities, and other institutions proclaim themselves to be the "Harvard of the (region, category, etc.)."
And please note that we are not claiming that Harvard is the most prestigious, the best, or anything else. We are merely documenting the widespread and essential-to-know perception shared by many people. ElKevbo (talk) 07:16, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
Agreed completely, and ElKevbo, you are right in claiming that we are not claiming that Harvard isn't the most prestigious as that sounds a bit to peacocky for my own taste, and probably even yours. I think Megapixel will need to understand this. I've noted that ever since I placed some controversial, if peacocky text to the main header about "Big Three", he/she has been repeatedly disagreeing with whatever comes in the headers about the Harvard, Yale, Princeton articles. Abhijay What did I do this time?
Some one has changed it back, once again this editor crows to the world, I suggest the accolades are reserved for the US rather than 'the world' or better yet remove it altogether, it is unseemly. Twobells (talk) 11:31, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
I suggest that if you don't know that Harvard is considered one of the world's most prestigious universities then you're incompetent to edit this article. But to placate you I added two more references that explicitly and directly support the assertion. Can we move on now or should we continue this pointless discussion? ElKevbo (talk) 14:40, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
Let's end this discussion. Done. If there's more and more reversions on this, we risk getting this article fully protected and admins to only edit it. Abhijay What did I do this time? 16:18, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
Appreciate the comments on this topic. To Abhijay's point above, I am vigilant of disproportionate attributes featured in the header. Please see the Yale talk thread to see how someone tried putting in a "Big Three" comment in the top header that couldn't be referenced in the last 10 years outside of football. The two additional sources that were added are great and appreciated, but this gets to another point in that those articles reference several schools as the 'most prestigious'. Should those other schools (top 10? top 5?) also get a similarly cited blurb that proclaims them as among the most prestigious in their header. I think that's the fair treatment question that should be raised to ensure consistency. No other school has a similar grandiose opening as Harvard when numerous surveys have shown that there are a select few other Universities that hold comparable prestige. Megapixel (talk) 02:04, 5 March 2012 (UTC)
Your concern is legitimate but I don't think it's significant since it's my (well-informed) opinion that there are only a handful of universities in the world that are as prestigious as Harvard. I would only be in favor of allowing a similar statement in a couple of other articles. Cambridge and Oxford are the two that immediately spring to mind and the only ones that I would allow without blinking an eye. I'd have to be convinced to allow a similar statement be added to or allowed in nearly any university or college article, including the rest of the Ivy League.
I could imagine allowable statements withing particular contexts for some universities that are widely perceived as being the most prestigious within particular disciplines or groups of disciplines such as MIT for engineering, the University of Chicago or London School of Economics for economics, etc. But I'd have to convinced for each of them, too, and the bar should be very high. ElKevbo (talk) 03:55, 5 March 2012 (UTC)
Did you hear that, everyone?
Apparently ElKevbo thinks his 'well-informed' perception is a deciding factor in these matters. As long as he is convinced that something is widely perceived to be the case, apparently, for him, that's good to go, even if the vast majority of people have never even heard of the University of Chicago or LSE.
But glancing over the personal websites of the likes of ElKevbo, Madcoverboy, and such, it looks like these 'well-informed' people may have had their fair share of rejections (in more ways than one), so perhaps we should give these guys a chance. --Kayugd0 (talk) 08:15, 5 March 2012 (UTC)
To Kayugd0, please stop the attacks. We are trying to have discussion here, not create a battleground situation. Abhijay What did I do this time? 04:40, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
The Times Higher Education did a worldwide ranking of University reputations- from the perspective of other schools around the world- and they established there were six universities that were considered a big gap above the rest: Harvard, MIT, Cambridge, Stanford, Berkeley, and Oxford. (Link: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2011-2012/reputation-rankings.html). Should this be sufficient in determining which other schools get similar reputation/prestige comments in their header? It's a credible source, it's based on worldwide perceptions, and it shows a sizable gap that makes it clear. Megapixel (talk)

Possible NPOV violation?

Prominent conservative and prominent liberal voices are among the faculty of the various schools, such as Martin Feldstein, Harvey Mansfield, Greg Mankiw, Baroness Shirley Williams, and Alan Dershowitz. Leftists like Michael Walzer and Stephen Thernstrom and libertarians such as Robert Nozick have in the past graced its faculty. Between 1964 and 2009, a total of 38 faculty and staff members affiliated with Harvard or its teaching hospitals were awarded Nobel Prizes (17 during the last quarter century, 6 the last 25 years).[1]

This quote from the article is clearly a violation of WP:NPOV. Hghyux (talk to me)(talk to others) 19:47, 24 March 2012 (UTC)

Why? I removed the tag. Hot StopUTC 20:40, 24 March 2012 (UTC)
Prominant conservative and liberal voices? What about Green party voices? Or communist voices? Hghyux (talk to me)(talk to others) 21:17, 24 March 2012 (UTC)
I see no need for the doctrinal characterizations anyway -- see the text now. EEng (talk) 22:59, 24 March 2012 (UTC)
Did you also remove the Nobel prize sentence, too? I hope not because it seems interesting, important, and completely unrelated to the issue you have raised. If you do object to that sentence, please explain why. ElKevbo (talk) 23:21, 24 March 2012 (UTC)
I didn't object to anything, other than the strained writing e.g. "have graced its faculty". I just didn't want to watch another "prestige"-type fight flare up. As to the Nobel info, lead already says there have been 75 Nobelists etc etc., and I saw no need to repeat that, and even less need for specific data such as Y between years A and B, and Z since year C. EEng (talk) 00:12, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

First Corporation in North America

The article says Harvard is the "first corporation...chartered in the country." While this is true, Harvard College is also the first corporation chartered in North America, so it might be more accurate to say that instead. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.34.93.184 (talk) 22:42, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

Boosterism in Lead

Hi, skimming through this article I thought I would point out an instance of boosterism that seems to have made its way into what is an otherwise relatively neutral article: "Harvard's history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world". Please review Wikipedia:College_and_university_article_guidelines, which notes to "not praise an academic institution but describe it using neutral language and verifiable facts". By the way, why is this article semi-protected? --Coolbb (talk) 16:15, 31 December 2011 (UTC)

These are not praise, rather statements of fact which are not only verifiable, but amply verified by cites throughout the article. EEng (talk) 00:33, 1 January 2012 (UTC)
Here's a fact: if a is b and b is c, a is c. Here's an opinion: the Mona Lisa is one of the most beautiful paintings in the world. Here's a fact: triangles have 3 sides. Here's an opinion: X is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Here's a fact: Source Y claims X is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. See? --Coolbb (talk) 20:24, 1 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the lesson. I'm assuming you don't mean to imply -- as one might conclude from your examples -- that there are no facts outside of mathematics. Please enlighten me further:
Your assumption is right - I don't mean to imply that no facts are outside of mathematics. I was just giving some examples of definite facts and opinions that are not clearly facts. --Coolbb (talk) 18:38, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
  1. Would you consider the following an assertion of fact, or a statement of opinion? -- Each Nobel Prize is regarded as the most prestigious award in its field. [3]
There is a difference between an assertion of fact and a fact. That statement may be an assertion of fact, but it's not clearly a fact depending on the threshold for "regarded". If the threshold is one human being, and there is one human being that regards each Nobel Prize as the most prestigious award in its field, then that's a fact. If the threshold is all human beings, then it's not a fact because there are people including myself that do not regard each Nobel Prize as the most prestigious award in its field. --Coolbb (talk) 18:38, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
  1. How about this? -- Nobel Prizes are widely regarded as the most prestigious awards given for intellectual achievement in the world. [4]
EEng (talk) 00:56, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
Similarly, it depends on the threshold for "widely regarded". More than 50% of human beings at the time of writing? Then if more than 50% of human beings believe it at the time of writing, it's a fact. But has it been proven that more than 50% of human beings believe it at the time of writing? If not, it's not clearly a fact, is it? --Coolbb (talk) 18:38, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
Well, no, those are not facts, and for what it's worth I don't think the article should have stated them that way. Assuming the citation is accurate, which I do, the fact is properly stated: "Baruch Aba Shalev, author of a book on the Nobel Prize, has said 'the Nobel Prize has come to be regarded as the best-known and most prestigious award available in the fields of literature, medicine, physics, chemistry, peace and economics." That is a verifiable fact. Dpbsmith (talk) 18:14, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't like it. Yes, I do see the citation but I still think it's academic boosterism. In the past, any use of the word "prestigious" in any university article quickly become a contagion and infected the rest ("Why can't we call Yale prestigious? Harvard's editors did." "Why can't we call Williams prestigious? Yale's editor's did." "Why can't we call Beloit..." "Why not Murray State..." Well, Yale and Princeton are prestige-free zones--for the moment.
Neither of the cited sources actually says that Harvard is currently "one of the most prestigious universities in the world." That's an interpretation that goes beyond what the citations actually say. One of them says that its professional schools "won world prestige." It also says that it has "age, wealth, quality, and prestige," but not that it is one of the most prestigious in the world. The other includes the important qualifier "arguably,"--"the nation's (arguably) most prestigious institution"--and talks about the nation, not the world. If you must have this sort of thing in the lead, which is clearly an opinion, find a citation that can be quoted verbatim so that you are making a strictly factual report of that opinion, not a paraphrase or an interpretation. Dpbsmith (talk) 02:18, 1 January 2012 (UTC)
But there is something I do not see discussed there. The statement in the lead is that Harvard is "one of the most prestigious universities in the world." I am not sure what formal policy is, but it makes me very queasy to see a claim about world prestige supported by United States sources.
The first citation is by Morton and Phyllis Keller. Morton Keller is a professor at Brandeis. Phyllis was the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences from the 1970s to the 1990s, and the book was published by a U.S. university press. Christina Spaulding is a Radcliffe graduate, co-ordinator of the Harvard Sexual Harassment project, and again it is a U.S. book, published in Cambridge, MA in fact.
Notice that prestige is an opinion, so we are talking about "facts about opinions"--which is, of course, legitimate. But this is a fact about a world opinion, and if we are going to have that it needs to be supported by a source that can authoritatively speak to world opinion. The cited sources are not only U.S. sources, but I think it's fair to call them Boston sources, even Harvard sources (two out of three of the authors have Harvard connections). That's just not good enough. The cited sources ought to be international in nature, perhaps from a nation that hosts one of Harvard's world rivals.
I think it may be difficult to find such a source, because the concern with "prestige" dances around issues of social mobility in a supposedly classless democracy. It is always carefully blurred whether the "prestige" in question is the academic prestige of Harvard's professional schools, or the social prestige of Harvard College. And, incidentally, I question whether Harvard College should simply inherit claims that are made, not for Harvard College, but for Harvard University. Harvard College and Harvard University are not the same, the nature of their "prestige" is not the same. Claims of prestige for Harvard College need to be supported by sources that are clearly referring to Harvard College. Dpbsmith (talk) 12:09, 1 January 2012 (UTC)
As the very reluctant author of the passage in question with citations (see the RfC), I chose two references based one presumably having a promotional POV (Keller & Keller) and the second (Spaulding) having a critical POV. I see the peacockery this sets a precedent for manifesting itself on other articles, much as User:Dpbsmith expressed above and I expressed previously so we should be absolutely crystal clear about which sources to include so as not to set a poor precedent. Madcoverboy (talk) 19:35, 1 January 2012 (UTC)
Peacockery shouldn't belong in the article, per the Wiki guidelines mentioned above. It's simple as that, really. Taking two source's opinions and phrasing their opinions so as to suggest they are factual in nature is already inappropriate enough for an encyclopedia that emphasizes neutrality, I would think. --Coolbb (talk) 20:24, 1 January 2012 (UTC)
Let me continue to articulate the problem I have with this. First, it is specifically the word "prestige" that bothers me, and I want to ask: why is it this particular word that academic boosters are so determined to include? Let's begin with the American Heritage Dictionary (3rd edition)'s definition of "prestige." Boldfacing is mine. 1) the level of respect with which one is regarded by others. 2) a person's high standing among others; honor or esteem. 3) Widely recognized prominence, distinction, or importance; a position of prestige in diplomatic circles.
I've already made the point that prestige can only be an opinion. This comes directly from the definition. Prestige is someone's opinion of someone else. Facts about opinions are legitimate in Wikipedia but need to be handled carefully. But here's another point.
The word normally applies to individuals, not to institutions. The third definition seems to allow a wider scope, but notice the example they give once again comes down to individuals. Its use with institutions is rare. Can one imagine someone saying "The U. S. Army is one of the world's most prestigious armies," "the European Central Bank is one of the world's most prestigious central banks," "Exxon is one of the world's most prestigious corporations?" Sounds odd, doesn't it?
Why do we call a university prestigious? I don't think it really means the university itself is prestigious. It is shorthand for saying that attendance at that university is thought to confer prestige on its alumni.
Thus, we read (for example) here that "there’s a certain amount of prestige that you get simply by holding an MBA, especially from a top-tier school.... some people will pay more attention to you and your opinions, which does help with career advancement." That puts it right out there: the school is referred to as "top-tier;" the prestige is something that you get from having attended a top-tier school.
This puts the word "prestige" into a promotional context. It's a word people use to sell a school. Academic quality is the steak, the prestige you will get from attending the school is the sizzle. We need to be particularly careful about the use of promotional language.
You may not agree with this analysis, but I hope I've convinced you that the word is tricky. We need to be very clear on what is really meant by "prestige," why "prestige" is something that belong in the lead, and what kinds of citations would illustrate that the whole world, not just the United States, holds the opinion that a Harvard degree confers prestige on its holder.
A lot of my objections could be answered by using a word other than "prestige" and tightening the scope to the United States. Some aeons ago I suggested the formulation "In 1893, Baedeker's guidebook called it 'the oldest, richest, and most famous of American seats of learning.'" It didn't stick, although it is not only cited, but current citations could easily be found to support "oldest," "richest," and "most famous." And all are intrinsically more factual and less opinionated than "prestigious." But it seems "most famous" will not do. It must be "prestige." Why? Dpbsmith (talk) 00:21, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
You said ""prestige" is something that belong in the lead." ... Sorry, what? Can you explain why the statement regarding prestige, in its current form, belongs in the lead, and why it would belong at all, when it apparently breaches Wiki guidelines? --81.100.44.233 (talk) 00:50, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
I tangled my syntax, sorry. I believe "prestige" is not something that belongs in the lead. I think it should go. What I meant is that if we are going to have it in the lead, the people who want it in the lead have a burden of being clear on what the word means, how one could make a verifiable statement about it, and why it belongs in the lead. I don't think it does. I think you can make a case and site sources for Princeton being one of the world's most architecturally beautiful universities, but I don't believe that would belong in the lead, either. I'm not totally close-minded about this. There are three things that need to be shown by verifiable sources. a) A widespread opinion that Harvard is prestigious, or that a Harvard degree confers prestige on graduates; b) A demonstration that this is a worldwide opinion, not just as U.S. opinion. c) In order to go into the lead, a verifiable statement that this is one of Harvard's most important characteristics. Dpbsmith (talk) 16:42, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
"I tangled my syntax, sorry." Ah, okay, thanks for clearing that up. --81.100.44.233 (talk) 18:33, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
The main issue I see with the statement is that the concept of prestige, like architectural beauty, is a subjective notion, and yet it is is being touted in the lead in a factual manner. Regarding your points: even if it is true that the opinion about Harvard being prestigious is "widespread" (define?) or held internationally, it is, as you noted, still an opinion, and as such it should be stated as such. I think there is no issue with including statements concerning opinions of Harvard being prestigious in this article as long as they are clearly referenced as opinions and not synthesized, as they currently are, to form a general notion. Based on the citations used, here is a proposed fix: According to Morton and Phyllis Keller, "Harvard's professional schools... won world prestige of a sort rarely seen among social institutions".[2] Christina Spaulding notes that Harvard has "tremendous institutional power and prestige" and is "the nation's (arguably) most prestigious institution of higher learning...".[3] A statement like this would also seem to alleviate (although not necessarily eliminate) boosterism, as the opinions are clearly stated as opinions, which acts as a sort of caveat. --Coolbb (talk) 18:42, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
I personally like that as a solution, although it doesn't speak to the point of citing U.S. (and Harvard-connected) sources to support a statement about world prestige. It seems to me that the best way to support a "fact about opinions," quote directly, so that the opinion is expressed accurately--rather than stating your own opinion and buttressing it from a source which when examined says something subtly different. Name the source, so the reader can judge reliability for themselves. And if it's supposed a world opinion, to insure neutrality, find a source that stands at a little physical distance from the subject. Someone from, let us say, Cambridge, England may not speak for the world's opinion of Harvard, but someone from Cambridge, Massachusetts surely does not.Dpbsmith (talk) 18:04, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, you raise some good additional points there. Just be careful about synthesizing a general notion from several sources, however. If a few people from around the world say red is the best color, that would not seem to "automagically" imply that red is "widely regarded" as the best color. --Coolbb (talk) 18:47, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
It does not. That sort of synthesis is the problem, not the solution. The solution is to find a single source that makes the synthesis. And usually that's hard to do, because the kinds of sources that make that sort of statement with a straight face are usually sources that nobody could possibly regard as neutral. Now, if you can find one source that says, not that red is the best color, but that red is widely regarded as the best color, that's usable. And if you can find several sources that all say that red is widely regarded as the best color, no harm in citing them all. And of course if you find one that says red is not widely regarded as the best color, it should be cited, too. Dpbsmith (talk) 18:55, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
(Oh boy, this discussion again!) While I am very sympathetic to arguments that allowing this article to outright state in the lead that the subject is very prestigious will lead to a slipper slope, I think the argument for including that fact in this particular article is much stronger. It's indisputable that Harvard is one of the most prestigious universities in the world; anyone who honestly questions that should not be editing this (or any other college or university) article. In fact, the university's prestige is one of its defining characteristics. We must include it in the lead given the importance and prominence of the fact.
This may be an aside but at least one editor above asked why this is important and that's an interesting question. The answer is that in higher education prestige, as nebulous and hard-to-define as it is, is the primary way in which colleges and universities are judged. It's also their primary currency and the engine by which they earn "real" currency (money). This may not be the state of affairs that some people want to exist and there are perpetually efforts to change it (Spellings Commission, value-added, etc.) but it's how it is now and how it has been for centuries. ElKevbo (talk) 20:52, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
If it's so indisputable, then find a source and cite it. If it's so obvious, and if it is one of Harvard's defining characteristics, some reliable source somewhere ought to have said so, in so many words. If someone wants a citation for "the sky is blue," don't argue about it, just give the requested citation. "A field guide notes that 'the blue sky is so commonplace that it is taken for granted.'"[4].
Since it is a "fact about opinion," the opinion should be quoted directly. To support D, find a source that says D. Don't cite a bunch of sources that say A, B, and C and then insert your own synthesis, D, on the grounds that it's your opinion that A + B + C = D. Quote the source directly, then nobody needs to argue about the interpretation. If you want to say "Harvard is one of the most prestigious universities in the world," then find a source that says "Harvard is one of the most prestigious universities in the world." If it is, it really shouldn't be all that hard to find someone who has said so, somewhere.
Second, the bar is higher for a claim of world prestige than a claim of national prestige. It is one thing to say "Harvard is among the most prestigious universities in the United States" than to say "Harvard is among the most prestigious universities in the world." For one thing, within the United States we don't need to disambiguate what's meant by "prestige" because in the United States it is true both that Harvard is highly regarded as an academic institution and also that a Harvard degree confers social prestige on its holder. I am not so sure this is true outside the United States. And, of course, a claim of world prestige should be supported by a citation of a non-U.S. source.Dpbsmith (talk) 02:13, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
There's no need to mention the prestige in the lead; nobody will be coming to Wikipedia to confirm Harvard's prestige because it's a known fact even outside the USA, and only Wikipedia will be having a debate as to whether it's problematic to call it prestigious! There are two ways to get around this problem, the first is to describe the opinions/perceptions and back it with good sources, and the second is to point out factors that make the institution outstanding/prestigious (in no particular order): its funding, its history, its most prominent alumni, its most prominent faculty, admission criteria, results of proper polls, etc. Chensiyuan (talk) 02:45, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
Right, because you have access to an omniscient book that details the specific attendants, admissions criteria, 'proper' poll results, etc. that render an institution prestigious by fact. ;) --Kayugd0 (talk) 12:30, 7 February 2012 (UTC)
The lead's statement is certainly extraordinary and deserves a neutral, carefully-worded source to back it up -- even more than one. I've added a {{cn}} and I have no doubt I or someone else will bump into several appropriate references soon enough.
However, I know of no precedent for dpbsmith's insistence (my personal belief: he doesn't actually doubt the statement at issue -- it's just that he went to Yale) that a non-US source is needed for "worldwide prestige" of a US entity -- whether a source is or isn't reliable for a given assertion need not have anything to do with that source's geographical relationship to the subject.
Furthermore I see dpbsmith's blue-sky scenario quite differently than he does. Given that the cited Field Guide to the Atmosphere tells us that the sky's blueness is "so commonplace that it is taken for granted", the appropriate response to someone demanding a cite for "the sky is generally perceived to be blue" would not be to rush to satisfy that demand but rather to say, "Look, sorry, everyone not only knows that the sky is generally perceived to be blue, but knows that every other reasonably informed person knows that too. The article needn't be cluttered with cites for the universally-acknowledged and unconroversial. Try Google, or ask your parents."
EEng (talk)
What magic device confirms particular opinions to be so 'universally acknowledged' and (to use your syntax) 'unconroversial' to the degree that citations aren't needed for those? And if a perception is generally shared among Homo sapiens, whether it be the color of the sky or how much prestige a career confers, why does that make it true? Does that mean that the earth can shift from being flat to round if our general perception shifts correspondingly? Please advise. --Kayugd0 (talk) 12:30, 7 February 2012 (UTC)
http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2010-2011/reputation-rankings.html
http://www.usatoday.com/money/2005-06-06-harvard-usat_x.htm
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/moneymag_archive/1990/09/10/86085/index.htm
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI9026549/
http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-06-02/wall_street/29988072_1_top-tier-investment-banks-recruiters
Fat&Happy (talk) 03:58, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
We can and will do better than citing websites for an extraordinary claim such as this. I would refer interested editors back to the RfC where several books making claims about Harvard's prestige were identified. Madcoverboy (talk) 04:46, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

(unindent) Is the question on the table (a) Does prestige belong in the lead? or is it (b) Do we need better citations to support the prestige claim in the lead? The discussion seems to have begun addressing the first question but has moved to addressing the second one. ElKevbo (talk) 18:46, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

Honestly, I didn't expect a query over a simple issue to turn out this ridiculous rant. I've changed the sentence to the proposed above to alleviate some of the issues mentioned. --Coolbb (talk) 07:22, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, this is a bit of a mine field. :)
I reverted your edit. I am not amenable to attributing an incredibly well-known fact, especially in the lead. ElKevbo (talk) 08:01, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
'Fact'? Well-'known'? Ever taken a philosophy course covering the basics of fact and knowledge? I recommend epistemology. You might change your mind when you see how outrageous it would be to refer so certainly to the current sentence as a 'well-known fact'. And also, what is the threshold for 'well-known'? Shouldn't we establish this before we attribute the claim as 'well-known'? --Coolbb (talk) 07:30, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I have have taken such courses (at Harvard, actually -- but hey, who's comparing credentials?). Yes, it's a well-known fact, but whether you believe that or not a statement like this can remain for quite a long time, after being tagged, without harm, until someone comes up with refs that satisfy even you -- though I anticipate that might take some doing. So I've restored it, without the awkward attribution, which seems to imply that it's just someone's opinion, which it's not. EEng (talk) 08:31, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
Is the disputed claim a well-known fact, if it turns out that for 99% of X (X being humans and/or other objects that in some way dictate the given entity's prestige), Harvard University is the least prestigious university in the world, and not one of the most prestigious universities in the world? Or is the threshold for 'well-known fact' so lenient that the case of the notion lining up with the beliefs of a few Wikipedia editors sufficient to denote it a well-known fact? --Coolbb (talk) 14:50, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
No one's gonna disagree with you there! EEng (talk) 11:07, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
If it's a well-known fact, why would no one disagree with the possibility that it isn't? Why aren't you rebutting their argument? --Kayugd0 (talk) 12:30, 7 February 2012 (UTC)
It looks like what Coolbb may be getting at, is that there's a chance (however unlikely to the normal person it may seem) that there is an undiscovered aquatic-based village that contains 99% of the human population, that believe that Harvard is a shitty state school completely devoid of prestige, and that all other universities, and particularly community colleges, leak to the brim with prestige, which (if true) would mean that Harvard ISN'T one of the most prestigious universities in the world. AmIRite? By golly, we can't rule that possibility out, surely.
But seriously, even if there's a possibility that the earth is cuboid or that we are brains in a vat, I think that sort of skepticism is not necessarily entirely constructive to an encyclopedia article. --81.100.44.233 (talk) 18:12, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
If you honestly believe that Harvard is not one of the world's most prestigious universities then you are incompetent to edit or contribute to this article outside of very narrow confines e.g. grammar, MediaWiki markup. ElKevbo (talk) 00:12, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
To be fair, and putting aside the skepticism that Coolbb has been demonstrating, some of the discussion above does raise the question, why are some opinions allowed to be phrased factually and some apparently not, regardless of how authoritative and notable the sources are? Why is it okay to say "Harvard is one of the most prestigious universities in the world", regardless of whether the reader actually believes that, but it's not okay to say "law is one of the most prestigious professions in the world"? It's as if there is some unwritten underground Wikipedia ruleset that designates some opinions as okay to say without explicitly referencing it as an opinion, and others as not. --81.100.44.233 (talk) 17:17, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
Who says you can't say that? Try it out. No seriously, try it. If prestige is perceived as much 'a part' of a career in law as prestige is perceived 'a part' of Harvard as an educational institution, then whether or not it's sourced properly, it shouldn't be reverted if the situation here is any indication. --Kayugd0 (talk) 12:30, 7 February 2012 (UTC)
Let's see how long this lasts: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Firefighter&diff=487365461&oldid=487071502. --81.100.44.233 (talk) 17:29, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
Don't disrupt Wikipedia to make a point. ElKevbo (talk) 20:27, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
There is something very wrong here.... First of all, the claim I made in the firefighter article is of the same nature as the claim in the Harvard article. Yet you claim that the former is 'disruptive'. Either the act of adding the prestige claim to the Harvard article is disruptive, or the act of adding the prestige claim to the firefighter article is not disruptive. As the consensus among editors seems to suggest the latter, it seems to me that it is not a disruptive edit. In that case, both your reversion of the edit and your warning on my talk page were uncalled for. Otherwise, feel free to elaborate, please, because, like I said, with the obvious discrepancy, there is something very wrong. --81.100.44.233 (talk) 09:37, 16 April 2012 (UTC)
The reversion and warning were indeed appropriate responses to your edit to Firefighter. In the words of Arbcom [5], "Don't disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point. This is considered editing in bad faith. State your point, but don't attempt to illustrate it experimentally." EEng (talk) 17:28, 16 April 2012 (UTC)
Did you even read what I wrote? I just explained how the edit could not be disruptive, if the consensus reached in this article regarding such claims is true. Besides that, I genuinely did not think that the edit would be disruptive based on said consensus. For reasons explained, my edit was not in bad faith, and the reversion and warning was not justified. --81.100.44.233 (talk) 18:11, 16 April 2012 (UTC)
You clearly implied you were making a change to Firefighters as an experiment, which is exactly what Arbcom said not to do. EEng (talk) 01:01, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

Nickname

In the infobox, it says Harvard's nickname is Harvard Crimson. But why would a university be known by its athletics team's name? Can anyone confirm whether the nickname is indeed Harvard Crimson? Thanks --Merlaysamuel :  Speechify  11:32, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

Notable alumni

Despite the objections voiced by ElKevbo, I'm going to again remove the large, uncited list of notable alumni. In addition to needing some more defined criteria for inclusion, the list does not include any citations. This material is all subject to WP:BLP and WP:V.

Fortunately, as ElKevbo has noted, sources for much of this information are likely available at the linked pages. They can probably be retrieved fairly easily and restored to avoid BLP problems. — Bdb484 (talk) 00:03, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

WP:BLPCAT:
Category names do not carry disclaimers or modifiers, so the case for each category must be made clear by the article text and its reliable sources...[Special care should be taken in the case of categories involving sexual orientation or religious beliefs, or which suggest a person has a poor reputation.]....These principles apply equally to lists...
In other words, list entries may be supported by a linked-to article containing an appropriate cite List of American mobsters of Irish descent -- which you'll notice very carefully supplies cites where there is no article on a given person, but omits them when there is. This paragraph corrected 03:08, 24 July 2012 (UTC) -- previously a sentence ended abortively in the middle, though no one seemed to notice.
I have restored the list, making minor corrections to spelling and linkage. It certainly needs at least some trimming and maybe a different organization -- but for reasons having nothing to do with BLP.
EEng (talk) 01:56, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
I don't mean to be dense, but I don't understand how this guideline about categories applies here. If we were categories, I would get it, but this seems to be something totally different. — Bdb484 (talk) 02:17, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
The third line of BLPCAT states "These principles apply equally to lists" Hot Stop 03:58, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
I've added a battery of typographic modifiers to the quotation above to make the pertinent text un-missable even by the ultra-dense. ;) EEng (talk) 04:20, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm still unsure here. Your second ellipsis clips of what seems to be an important part of the guideline, which is that the application to lists seems to be talking about lists "that are based on religious beliefs or sexual orientation or suggest that any living person has a poor reputation." That doesn't seem to apply. — Bdb484 (talk) 05:23, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
Sorry EEng but this is an article, not a list, so that particular guideline doesn't seem to apply directly to this instance. However, I don't see any BLP issues here since it's highly implausible that "graduate from Harvard" can possibly be perceived as a negative by anyone. I concede that a strict letter-of-the-law interpretation of WP:V may require deleting this material but I think that's too extreme a reaction and would only result in editors wasting valuable time better spent on other activities. If pressed, I think WP:IAR is the policy to which I would appeal although I'd really like to appeal to something like "let's not waste time of silly things when we have so much else to do." ElKevbo (talk) 08:41, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
But according to WP:LIST, a list can be in either a section or an entire article, so if we were to merely separate the existing prose-format listing by inserting CRLFs and bullets before each name, WP:BLPCAT would apply. Which makes this whole discussion even sillier. Fat&Happy (talk) 15:03, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
I think the reliance on BLPCAT is misplaced. The guideline lays down principles for exercising caution in the way categories and lists are assembled. It does not say that adhering to those principles abrogates WP:V.
Even if everyone here in this discussion agrees that Harvard is just swell, there are, in fact, people who disagree. Ask Scott Brown what he thinks of Harvard. Ask a Yale grad. Even Mitt Romney, with two Harvard degrees, thinks that it's a problem when you've "spent too much time at Harvard." See also:
Some of these complaints may be trivial, but I think everyone would agree that we can't really go wrong by sourcing more content. Given the claim that all of the information can be easily sourced through the linked pages, why not just import those sources? That leaves uncited material out, verified material in, and probably no one will even notice in the meantime, because it's not like anyone actually comes to this page just dying to find out what year Ashley Judd graduated. — Bdb484 (talk) 16:01, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
Is there a particular reason why you're picking this fight here at Harvard? Why not one of the other thousands of schools with similar lists on their pages? Hot Stop 17:31, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
Because I noticed it here. But I don't think that addresses the point I was trying to make. — Bdb484 (talk) 23:56, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
And you've not addressed my point that this is a larger issue. Hot Stop 04:37, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── ElKevbo:

(1) The least appropriate time to invoke WP:IAR is when the subject is WP:BLP, which should be carefully (though not mindlessly) adhered to with respect to all persons except where it's reliably known the person is dead, or he was born so long ago (let's say 110+ years) that it's silly to worry he might still be alive.
(2) Putting aside the more-ignorant-than-thou posturing of certain politicians, we all know there's not a person on earth who (whether they admit it or not) wouldn't be thrilled to be mistaken for a Harvard alumnus. But think of the anger of someone falsely accused of being a Yale graduate -- why, even a non-living person might roll over in his grave! And since it makes things too complicated to have different standards for different schools, regardless of how justified such different standards might seem, I think we better treat all such assertions as subject to B.L.P., when made with respect to an L.P.
(3) As pointed out, WP:LIST supports the applicability of WP:BLPCAT to lists within articles as well as standalone lists.

Bdb484:

(4) "Sourcing more content" (by which I think you mean more inline citations immediately adjacent to content) isn't in and of itself bad; bad would be requiring this "more sourcing" where its cost (cluttering articles with zillions more cites, editor effort which could be expended elsewhere) far outweighs its benefit (in preventing BLP embarassment or legal trouble).
(5) WP:V sets out a general requirement:
Verifiability on Wikipedia is a reader's ability to check cited sources that directly support the information in an article.
...but is explicitly flexible about how that general requirement can/should/must be met:
It must be possible to attribute all information in Wikipedia to reliable, published sources that are appropriate for the content in question. However, in practice it is only necessary to provide inline citations for quotations and for any information that has been challenged or that is likely to be challenged.
Other policies, like BLP, put meat on these bare bones in their respective spheres of applicablity. So we needn't worry about whether WP:BLPCAT "abrogates" (by which I assume you mean "overrides" -- I'm told people learn that sort of stuff at Harvard, if not before) V because there's nothing specific in V to "abrogate" (at least nothing I can see that's relevant to the present situation).

EEng (talk) 06:15, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

I think that's a thoughtful and useful analysis, but you seem to be missing at least one relevant portion of V: "It is only necessary to provide inline citations for quotations and for any information that has been challenged or that is likely to be challenged."
And another one from BLP: "Remove immediately any contentious material about a living person that is unsourced or poorly sourced."
These don't seem to leave a lot of wiggle room. This material has been challenged and therefore needs to be sourced with inline citations. — Bdb484 (talk) 13:43, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
Hope you don't mind my numbering your points above. In response:
(1) I didn't miss the passage you quoted; in fact I quoted it myself.
(2) The question isn't whether the material should be sourced. The question is whether the source citation needs to be repeated in e.g. a "Notable alumni" list when a person listed has an article, linked to from the list, containing the citation.
(3) You haven't challenged the material i.e. you haven't questioned whether any of these people is actually a Harvard alum (but if you do question someone, click the link to his or her article). You've asserted that citations need to be repeated in lists, and the answer is that applicable guidelines say they don't.
EEng (talk) 20:33, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
I would actually prefer that you did not fiddle with my comments. I have challenged the material. If you feel it hasn't been literal enough, I'm happy to do it again: Are all of those people Harvard alumni? It's nice to say that one should just click through a hundred links to make sure that information is accurate, but that's not really workable. And even if it were, the very first link, to E. O. Wilson, is one where there is no citation provided for his Harvard degree. Did he really go to Harvard? I don't know. Why shouldn't there be a citation? — Bdb484 (talk) 17:04, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
(I've removed the offending numbering I had added to your comments.) Wilson isn't listed in the Harvard article as an alumnus but rather as faculty, and his article indeed carries an inline cite for that.
Look, maybe this is the real point: you say the list here in the Harvard article should carry inline cites; I say click through to the person's article and look for cites there. My way is just slightly more work for the Missouri (i.e. "show me") types among us than is yours, but it has one great advantage: it centralizes the citing question in a single place (the person's article) rather than spreading it to two places (the person's article, and this article too). If all that's needed is a {{citation needed}}, better that tag go in the person's article (where it's likely to be attended to, what with all those biographical sources conveniently lying around) than here (where that's less likely). Or, in truly questionable cases, the person should be removed from the list here and the assertion removed from his article (per BLP requirements). Those are what will happen under my approach of not expecting individual cites in the list here. Under your approach, I think the more likely outcome is that the assertion will be tagged or removed here only, and it will remain, untagged, in the person's article. Which is the better outcome?
EEng (talk) 08:52, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
I disagree with most of what you're saying here. Even if I were to agree about the sourcing concerns, there are still the additional questions of whether such a list is encyclopedic at all, or if it might be better to restrict the list to people whose association with Harvard is in and of itself notable, as doing so would prevent the list from metastasizing.
But your last edit summary suggests that we may be getting to the point where we're talking past each other rather than moving toward any kind of consensus. I'll put up a request at DRN and see if we can get some additional input. — Bdb484 (talk) 13:25, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
The DRN request has been posted here. — Bdb484 (talk) 13:33, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

Take 2

I just had the most incredible dream... I was sucked into a discussion at WP:DRN with a bunch of people who... oh, never mind. Let's try this another way.

With all the fussing about WP:BURDEN and so on, let's not forget an important proviso it makes (and remember, BURDEN carries the authority of being a part of WP:V):

Whether and how quickly removal should happen depends on the material and the overall state of the article; consider adding a citation needed tag as an interim step. Editors might object if you remove material without giving them time to provide references. It has always been good practice to try to find and cite supporting sources yourself. (My italics.)

That last bit is important. Certainly if any effort at all is expected in pursuit of sources, at minimum this would include clicking the link to the article on that person to see if there's a source there. I therefore propose the following:

If an editor questions the existence of sources supporting the assertion that person X is/was a H alum/faculty/staff, he should feel free to click the link to the person's article and check for sources cited there.
  • If you find a source there, and you feel there should be an inline cite here in this article (H.U.), by all means import the cite from the person's article.
  • If there's no source in the person's article, add {{cn}} to the list entry here in this article (and in the statement in person's article too).

The concerns raised to date about citation requirements for these lists does not, in my opinion, constitute "challenging" any or all of its entries, because complaining that you think appropriate sources aren't cited is not the same as asserting that appropriate sources don't exist. (Note I don't say "...asserting that the statement isn't true" since, let us recall, truth isn't the issue but rather sources.) I am therefore removing the disputed-list tag. If {{cn}} tags show up after the tagging editor has, at least, checked the article on the person in question, that can be dealth with then.

Thoughts? EEng (talk) 05:20, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

  1. ^ Nobel Foundation (2009). Nobel laureates and universities. 
  2. ^ Keller, Morton; Keller, Phyllis (2001). Making Harvard Modern: The Rise of America's University. Oxford University Press. pp. 463–481. ISBN 0195144570. Harvard's professional schools... won world prestige of a sort rarely seen among social institutions. (...) Harvard's age, wealth, quality, and prestige may well shield it from any conceivable vicissitudes. 
  3. ^ Spaulding, Christina (1989). "Sexual Shakedown". In Trumpbour, John. How Harvard Rules: Reason in the Service of Empire. South End Press. pp. 326–336. ISBN 0896082849. ...[Harvard's] tremendous institutional power and prestige (...) Within the nation's (arguably) most prestigious institution of higher learning... 
  4. ^ Schaefer, Vincent J. (1998). A Field Guide to the Atmosphere. Houghton Mifflin Field Guides. ISBN 0395976316.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help) p. 155