Talk:Liberty University

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The violence hasn't stopped, and we can't keep censoring it. MilesMoney (talk) 03:59, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

There is no censorship at all. WP has two articles on the subject. See: List of school-related attacks & List of school shootings in the United States. The fact that various buildings, schools, neighborhoods, towns, cities, parks, etc. suffer such violence does not justify including stories about individual incidents in particular articles. Overall, in history, violence is at the lowest level ever seen. And schools, in particular, are actually very safe locations. – S. Rich (talk) 04:14, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
It would be original research of the most dubious sort to pretend to know whether these schools are safe. Fortunately, it would also be unimportant to the question of whether we should censor such incidents. Do you have any policy at all behind your support for censorship? MilesMoney (talk) 04:37, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Violence may be at the lowest level in history, Srich. Does that mean that we pretend that nobody was killed in all the wars of the past 50 years? What a foolish and offensive denial of the tragic incidents at Liberty University. SPECIFICO talk 04:48, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
School violence is an article that addresses the subject, but interestingly it does not say much about the rates of violence either historically or in comparison to other parts of society. Still, I am not suggesting that we look at any particular school or incident and thereby strive to say things like "its about the university including its policies about shooing students" or "tells us not to attack an officer" or "ongoing violence". Quite the opposite. Policy? WP:NOTNEWS covers this, and NOTNEWS is not the equivalent of censorship. – S. Rich (talk) 04:56, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Once again, a misrepresentation wrapped in a wiki-link. That policy has nothing to do with your equivocation concerning these events at Liberty University. We're not talking about abstractions like school violence, aggregate or average rates of crime, or any other of these straw man denials. The WP article must describe specific events as stated in the cited RS references. SPECIFICO talk 05:01, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
There is no misrepresentation, absolutely none. MilesMoney suggests that censorship is at play, but the links show that WP addresses the issue of school violence, even if it does a poor job in doing so. Nor is there dispute about the reliability of the source. But describing a source as RS does not excuse improper usage of the WP:NOTNEWS material. Address that concern before putting the story back in the article and see if you can garner support for inclusion. – S. Rich (talk) 05:31, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Your entire statement is a misrepresentation of policy. The dead give-away is that you gave us TLA's but can't quote specific sentences of policy that are relevant. I'm sorry, but this sort of evasion is entirely counterproductive. You need to step up your game by being rigorously honest. MilesMoney (talk) 05:49, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
In 2012 there was mention of a RICO lawsuit involving Liberty. I thought it should be mentioned, but agreed that I was wrong after reading "I agree with Wolfy54. If there is significant coverage of the lawsuit by reliable, notable sources would probably warrant some sort of mention in this article. But the sources submitted so far don't reach that bar and without such coverage almost certainly we shouldn't be including civil lawsuits in an encyclopedia article. ElKevbo (talk) 6:17 am, 17 August 2012." So, the issue seems to be, according to these two editors who are removing the text, that if it has received significant coverage by reliable, notable sources it warrants mention. I would argue that it clearly passes the bar that ElKevbo and Wolfy54 have set[1]. It's hard to AGF editors who keep deleting critical material, but perhaps they can explain. Dougweller (talk) 09:59, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Inclusion in reliable sources is a necessary but not sufficient condition for inclusion in an encyclopedia article. In other words, we don't include every single item reported in reliable sources but we employ editorial discretion in deciding what to include (which is one aspect of due weight). In this instance, noting a single recent act of violence on campus doesn't seem to tell readers anything about the campus except that a single recent act of violence occurred. It's a tragic and deplorable event but what essential information about this university are readers supposed to learn from it? This is an encyclopedia article summarizing the essential characteristics of this university, not an all-inclusive list of events and items associated with this university.

Unless we receive more information, it seems to be just a one-off incident that doesn't tell us anything except that a one-off incident occurred. Should there be further information that makes this into a larger event - police or administration coverup, long history of violence, etc. - my position would likely change. ElKevbo (talk) 14:45, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

I opened this section by pointing out that it isn't a "one-off incident", linking to a RS. Now you act as if you'd never even seen the OP. How am I supposed to react to this? MilesMoney (talk) 15:05, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks; I missed that. It still seems to be a stretch especially linking the off-campus violence of a brother of a current students to this incident (and the seemingly-ridiculous fact that "a search warrant also revealed that Hathaway was also in possession of a pair of scissors"). This builds a slightly stronger case for inclusion but I'm still not convinced. ElKevbo (talk) 15:18, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm afraid I still see a chance in stance between what you and another editor said last year and what is being said now. But ok, you've agreed that further developments might change your position, that's helpful. Dougweller (talk) 17:16, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

Dougweller, in this edit [2] you restored the story about the shooting. (Line 35) ElKevbo, Wolfy54, and I all agree that the isolated shooting incident is not appropriate for the article. – S. Rich (talk) 17:21, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

I know all that. I explained why. If you all disagree with me I'm sure one of you will reverse me. I'm unlikely to reinstate it if no one else agrees with me or there are no new relevant reports of further developments. Dougweller (talk) 17:53, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Maybe I misunderstood your explanation. Seems part of the discussion involves RICO. And you referred to a discussion that took place last year while the shooting incident occurred this month. So I am confused. Do you think this shooting incident is appropriate for the article? If not, then yours will be a fourth voice for keeping it out. The incident generated a lot of news, as such incidents do, mainly because campus violence is rare, especially when compared to other locations. – S. Rich (talk) 18:16, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Srich, there's clearly disagreement here. Two editors responded to your removal of this text (for what was it, the third time?) on the talk page. We asked for a clear policy-based explanation of your concern. You declined to provide one. It sounds to me as if you believe that -- because you believe your view is correct -- you are entitled to edit-war this short paragraph. That's not nice. Please AGF and engage in talk so that we can all find common ground. SPECIFICO talk 18:37, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Last year's discussion was about a lawsuit - it was agreed that it should not be in the article because there was insufficient coverage. That doesn't apply to this incident and those who argued against it last time seem to have raised the bar with an argument they didn't use before. I am not at all convinced that that is a sufficient reason to keep it out, but I'm not going to keep adding it if most editors think it should be removed, unless the coverage continues, etc. So I am not one of those who think it should be removed. And if campus violence is rare, that's another reason it should be in the article. Dougweller (talk) 22:18, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
I believe that the shooting information should be removed again. It appears to be a singular incident, one that will not readily recur or become newsworthy in the future. Therefore, I believe that it should at the very least not be in this article, as WP:NOTNEWS does not allow for the inclusion of information regarding events without enduring notability. I would not think of this as censorship, as Wikipedia does not accept all content. We as editors have to cut down the content to only include encyclopedic information. Another note is that this story did gain fair media coverage, which I do not find significant, as shootings and violence gain excessive and disproportionate attention in news.--ɱ (talk) 22:36, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Excessive by whose standard? We are here to report the facts in proportion to the importance reflected in mainstream sources. It's not up to WP editors to call such coverage excessive. SPECIFICO talk 00:02, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Then let me rephrase it: I do not believe that we can call this issue significant solely based on national and/or multi-corporation media coverage. In addition, I would say that it is a fairly-accepted idea that shootings have more coverage than other events and issues. The Newtown and Aurora shootings, as well as the incidents related to Christopher Dorner were on the national broadcasting stations for weeks, with an overwhelming coverage. This does not make either of these three issues remarkably significant. In fact, here's an article about a shooting that received little coverage, but can be deemed just as significant in an encyclopedia: link.
Now WP:EVENTCRIT tells us that "A rule of thumb for creating a Wikipedia article is whether the event is of lasting, historical significance, and the scope of reporting (national or global reporting is preferred)." I believe that in this circumstance, the scope of reporting should be less influential in whether we include the information. The news reports on the issue at Liberty College appear to be remarkably excessive for just another violent incident out of many, I believe that most of us can agree on that. Therefore, and because of the appearance of no lasting significance, as described by me above, I stand against the content's inclusion. This is without a doubt recentism that will fade from any real significance within a year.--ɱ (talk) 02:48, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for your reply. Yes, there are many shootings in the world every day. However for a student to be shot to death by his college's security guard is unusual and noteworthy. To respond in terms of the example you provide above: The Sany Hook shootings were just among the hundreds of thousands of human deaths on the planet that day. They would not be noteworthy in an article about life on earth. However they are extremely noteworthy for an article about Sandy Hook Elementary School. SPECIFICO talk 02:54, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
I disagree. One person shot another person, that wouldn't be noteworthy even if it happened at Sandy Hook; it doesn't matter who the victim is, why the shooter did it, or any other minor details. The Newtown shooting is primarily noteworthy because of the remarkable amount of fatalities. As well, most would agree that Newtown and Aurora had lasting effects that this Liberty U shooting will not have. In this case, it's situational: there were no unauthorized guns, no premeditated murder, no regulations that need changing. In Aurora and Newtown, besides the massive casualties, there was premeditated murder as well as stolen or illegal weapons. The Liberty U shooting appears to be covered excessively by media sources, appears to have no lasting effects, and has no place in this article.--ɱ (talk) 16:57, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── The "excessive" coverage by reliable sources contradicts your personal opinion about the shooting being unimportant. Let's not second-guess our sources on such matters. MilesMoney (talk) 17:20, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

What exactly are readers supposed to learn about this university from this item? What larger narrative does it play into? Remember that we're writing an encyclopedia article and that article should have a cohesive narrative and not a disconnected list of seemingly-unrelated facts. ElKevbo (talk) 17:26, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
On the contrary, it's not up to WP editors to weave a narrative out of what RS say about the University. There's no doubt the violence is noteworthy. That has been established from the RS coverage of it. On the other hand, much of this article's content is currently sourced to primary statements and promotional materials which originate at the University itself and its affiliates. That kind of sourcing is very problematic on WP, because the noteworthiness of the underlying facts and events has not been established. SPECIFICO talk 17:32, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Miles Money: The "excessive" coverage in no way contradicts my personal opinion about the shooting being unimportant. I was very clear in stating that media sources have given this issue undue weight, that much is obvious.
SPECIFICO, there's great doubt the violence is noteworthy. It appears that the doubt has been expressed at least by S. Rich, ElKevbo, and me. As for the RS coverage, it establishes nothing of the noteworthiness of this item; this issue having been blown significantly out of proportion by mass media.--ɱ (talk) 18:16, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Hello Ɱ. WP policy categorically prevents us from basing edits on our own judgments, such as your view that this has been blown out of proportion by the RS media. That would be WP:OR and regardless of our opinions we must represent what RS say in proportion to the references. Have you found RS which state that the violence is unimportant or not noteworthy? If so please share with us, as it would help move the discussion forward. Thanks. SPECIFICO talk 18:21, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Cute. When determining whether or not information is encyclopedic or mere news, WP:EVENTCRIT tells us that "A rule of thumb for creating a Wikipedia article is whether the event is of lasting, historical significance, and the scope of reporting (national or global reporting is preferred)." Therefore, editors are recommended to make subjective judgements using good faith and fair reasoning. I believe that in this circumstance, the scope of reporting should be less influential in whether we include the information. Therefore, we should primarily assess the event's lasting, historical significance, which appears to be insignificant.--ɱ (talk) 18:27, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Specifico is correct about policy. The coverage from reliable sources is a clear signal that cannot be overcome with subjective doubts. MilesMoney (talk) 18:29, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
If I found thirty RSs saying a celebrity dislikes some electoral candidate, sure it has enough RSs to be included, but it is still far from encyclopedic. Wikipedia does not accept all RS'd content. That is firmly established in WP:EVENT. Wikipedia is not a newspaper, it should not contain this insignificant piece of news..--ɱ (talk) 18:43, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
The policy you cite is not applicable to this discussion. That policy relates to whether an event is notable enough to have its own WP article. At this point I don't have any opinion as to whether we should start an article about violence at Liberty U. SPECIFICO talk 19:00, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Editors exercise judgment all the time with regard to the encyclopedic nature of the information. Compare, panty raids were once newsworthy, but we would not include such events in individual articles. Nor should we add news reports of more serious events such as dorm thefts, parking lot car break-ins, fights and assaults, etc. In this case we consider the applicable guidance and exercise judgment to exclude this tragic event because of its narrow scope. – S. Rich (talk) 19:05, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Are you really comparing shootings to panty raids?! MilesMoney (talk) 19:13, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

() MilesMoney, it may be silly, but he's still entirely right. SPECIFICO, sure WP:EVENT refers more specifically to whether an event can warrant its own article, but editors refer to it consistently as a guideline for what content can or should be considered encyclopedic. It stands separate from WP:OR, and maintains that even though content needs sources, it also needs to be worthy of inclusion in an encyclopedia.--ɱ (talk) 19:42, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

I did not intend to be silly, and the rest of my comment says so. This is a matter of sound editing, and we should not let our sympathies for the student override our judgment in these matters. As I remarked at the start of this discussion, there are several articles where the topics of violence and campus violence in particular can be developed. – S. Rich (talk) 19:51, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
It's not silly, it's insulting. Comparing someone's death to something as inconsequential as a panty raid trivializes it.
We agree that WP:EVENT does not apply so let's not try to apply it. Instead, we should recognize that we don't have crystal balls and that Wikipedia is not complete. Based on what our sources say today, we should mention the violence. If this turns out to be a minor blip, our successors can remove it at some point in the future. MilesMoney (talk) 20:02, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
We do not agree that EVENT "does not apply". Quite the opposite. (And I first learned about death in kindergarten.) – S. Rich (talk) 20:13, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
In fact, when looking at WP:N for news-related content (under "Common Circumstances"), it directs the user to WP:EVENT as the main source of information and policy on content that may be news-like and unencyclopedic. As well, we can all use that WP:N section, under Common Circumstances, titled "Events". It contradicts any justification for including the Liberty U shooting information in this article. And as S. Rich has stated before, WP:NOTNEWS also covers this. --ɱ (talk) 20:25, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Another useful essay is WP:DUST. If this turns out to be worthy of inclusion, later, then we add it. But putting it in now, without exercising sound editorial judgment, creates an other stuff exists situation. E.g., "Look, Liberty U has a section about this particular death, the article I want to write about should have similar material!" – S. Rich (talk) 20:42, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Srich, even if you are correct in claiming that "other editors" -- those weasels -- incorrectly cite that policy in order to selectively ignore RS, that hardly provides any justification for you to do so. Right? SPECIFICO talk 21:14, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
This is not an RS issue. There is an Internet full of RS, and so we have to select what RS goes into the article. The "selective ignoring" of RS occurs when this incident is not added to the list articles (mentioned above) as has been done so far. – S. Rich (talk) 21:42, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Explain why we should omit mention of this incident. MilesMoney (talk) 21:48, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Well I did, several times; if that's not enough for you, I don't know what is. All of the points against using the shooting content still are valid and remain relatively uncontradicted within this discussion. An abundance of RSs does not make a news topic worth mentioning; the policies and guidelines tell you only to include information with lasting effects, and this has none yet, so we should let the DUST settle. RSs alone are not justification for content inclusion, as long as the information is not encyclopedic.
Better yet, explain why we should mention this incident.--ɱ (talk) 22:20, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
We have reliable sources showing that this series of incidents is notable. You've offered absolutely no reason to omit mention, other than your crystal ball certainty that such violence is unimportant. I refute your crystal ball with a shrug. MilesMoney (talk) 22:46, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

() That's it? That's the only reason you think the content should be included; because mass media stresses its importance? Mass media has also asserted that IQ affects browser usage. Mass media should not be a primary nor hardly a contributing factor whatsoever for inclusion in this article. Also, don't mention crystal balls. Nobody has yet argued that this event will have any lasting significance, and in the absence of such information, we should hold off on including the information. As well, I never caught a mention of how the content about this isolated event is encyclopedic.--ɱ (talk) 23:52, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

MilesMoney your original post claims that the violence can't be ignored, but the only violence that relates to Liberty University is the tragic student confrontation and death with the officer. What other violence is being censored? All I have seen reported on this so far is that an officer of the university was attacked by a student, and then shot the student in self-defense. There are plenty of RS on this story, but RS does not in itself make the event encyclopedic. WP:Notanewspaper covers this by stating that we need to consider the enduring notability of persons or events. The shooting happened a week ago; where are all of the stories today? It seems to be a tragic, sad incident, but it is not notable to RS even a week later. This may all change if some controversy is discovered during the ongoing investigation, but so far it appears to be self-defense by an officer. That is not encyclopedic, nor is it interesting from a historical perspective. Please provide some recent RS that suggests this is something other than self-defense by an officer. I have not found any at this time, which makes this story currently not encyclopedic or enduring.Wolfy54 (talk) 06:12, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Please re-read the OP. It's not a single incident of violence. MilesMoney (talk) 06:16, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

MilesMoney, it appears that you are talking about this article, which does not introduce any recent events related to the issue, and appears to have been posted four days after the shooting; only because it contains more information about the event. Can you find a source that makes this event encyclopedic, enduring, or more than a single incident of violence?--ɱ (talk) 12:00, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Attempted suicide with no details is not necessarily violence (e.g. pills, attempted CO poisoning, alcohol poisoning, writing a suicide letter and then getting drunk and passing out, etc). It is also not encyclopedic, historical or enduring. The tragic death of the sibling of a current student has no place in this article. Am I missing something more? Surely there is more. I apologize if I am overlooking another incident, but I have read the OP 3 times now. For the length of this Talk discussion, there must be more. Could you please be kind enough to be more specific? Again, I apologize, but I don't see what you are describing.Wolfy54 (talk) 14:38, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
MilesMoney, that's not how it works. If we attempt to remove it in the future, you can just say we haven't waited long enough. It needs to be the other way; it needs to be absent from the article so that if it ever becomes notable, it can be added back in. And right now, it's been over a week and no notability. Sorry, this gets removed.--ɱ (talk) 01:26, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
It's still in the news today, so you're mistaken about notability. MilesMoney (talk) 01:35, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
I believe you're mistaken. Please provide a reliable source; I cannot find any news within 24 hours about this shooting.--ɱ (talk) 04:06, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
Are you sure you looked? Yesterday's article about the continuing investigation shows that the incident has ongoing consequences and the story isn't over. Likewise, the recent article about the Yale scare brings up the Liberty U shooting for comparison, showing that it's a touchstone, much like Columbine.
Look, this is really simple: If your crystal ball is right and this incident fades into obscurity, we can always remove the single sentence that mentions it. Until then, we have plenty of reason to keep it.
And, on that note, an editor who is not part of this discussion removed it with only a weak justification, so I'm restoring it. MilesMoney (talk) 07:30, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
Andrew Branch, who is cited in the article, looks like a free-lancer who made a small contribution to this particular news story. Nothing of enduring, encyclopedic value. Pointing to the Yale article/incident does not help – the connection is tangential at best. There are a variety of incidents that make the headlines simply because they are so unusual. They are still NOTNEWS type items. Branch's observation that there are unanswered questions actually makes the incident more un-encyclopedic. The unanswered questions probably pertain to the student himself, and not to the university. There is no requirement that editors participate in a discussion before they can make edits. In fact, the fact that they remove the material should be read as a "vote" against including it. – S. Rich (talk) 08:24, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

Assuming good faith[edit]

There's a bit sniping in the discussion above at various editors that seems to be unnecessary and unproductive. I see a genuine discussion between editors trying to figure out where the line is between new and important information that should be included and information that is just new but not (yet?) important enough for inclusion in an encyclopedia article. Can we please dampen down the accusations of censorship, favoritism, and other acts of bad faith? Thanks! ElKevbo (talk) 15:22, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

This edit [3] suggests I believe "theres no need to discuss these changes". Quite the contrary – the last article talk page posting (above) was by me. I await and welcome further input from other editors so that consensus by the community in accordance with WP policies may be achieved. – S. Rich (talk) 17:02, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
It would be helpful if you didn't contradict yourself on this particular issue. You did just say, "There is no requirement that editors participate in a discussion before they can make edits." And yet the most recent bit of tag-team edit-warring against inclusion reads, "must use talk page further". Ironically, the editor who said that failed to use the topic page further.
I think that, at this point, what we have here is a case of some people not liking a reliable source because they believe that no Wikipedia article should make something they like look bad in any way. MilesMoney (talk) 17:18, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
Oh, no. I'm not being contradictory in the least. You had pointed out that the other editor had not participated in the discussion, and my comment went on to say that I felt that other editor was voicing support for removal of the material, even though s/he had not said something on the talk page. Two factors are at play: 1. we want to encourage participation, so remarks about having not participated can discourage contributions. 2. With the discussion on-going, consensus must be reached before we make the changes. I'm sorry that you misread/misunderstood my statement. – S. Rich (talk) 17:29, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
Make up your mind. Just recently, you placed a tag to start a discussion, but once the edit-warring began, you joined in. MilesMoney (talk) 17:38, 1 December 2013 (UTC)

Debate Awards...?[edit]

I noticed Liberty claimed to finish first in the National Debate Tournament several years (including 2011, 2009, among others). When I attempted to follow the sources, all the links were broken (as the pages no longer existed). This is only problematic as it contradicts with the wikipedia page for the tournament itself (; that page details the winners of the Copeland awards (given to the top overall program), and Liberty is never mentioned. Would someone mind correcting this internal discrepency?

Thank you, (talk) 13:34, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

Done. Given that the material names specific people and makes claims that have been questioned, we must remove it unless there are supporting citations. MilesMoney (talk) 22:10, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
The incidental mention of one name doesn't give you carte blanche to remove the entire paragraph using BLP as an excuse. In any case, it was trivial to fix the links so I've done so and restored the material.
Unregistered editor: It looks like the awards listed on the Wikipedia article for the debate tournament are for individual teams but the documents cited in this article have results aggregated for institutions. There may be a substantial or even controversial difference between the two sets of awards/rankings but that subtlety isn't apparent to me since the references cited in this article appear to be completely legitimate and from the same organization. ElKevbo (talk) 22:36, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Now that it's sourced, I have no problem with including this material. I do have a problem with arbitrarily removing the criticism part of this section. There's absolutely no justification for that. MilesMoney (talk) 23:14, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Unfortunately, we have an editor, @Roccodrift:, who is edit-warring to keep out the debate criticism and seems unwilling to discuss their reasoning here. I don't know what to do about it other than revert them. MilesMoney (talk) 02:32, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
His latest argument is that it doesn't meet WP:BURDEN which I think it does. I see he's been reverted before over sources he didn't like but another editor thought was fine. And that he's never joined in any discussions. It was suggested in November that his editing was precocius but I have no idea if he's a sock. On the other hand, your edit summary "lolwat" was a bad idea. I've restored the criticism, the sourcing seems ok and it's attributed correctly now. Dougweller (talk) 08:24, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
It's a WP:COATRACK. The radio host didn't criticize the debate program; he criticized Falwell and the university. The material doesn't tell us a thing about the debate program or even anybody's opinion of it, because the actual substance of the material is that John Lofton doesn't think LU is "a truly Christian college". The coat is Lofton's beef with Falwell; the rack is LU's debate team. Roccodrift (talk) 09:05, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Conveniently, the article is about the college as a whole, so criticism of the college that's focused on its debate program has a place. If you actually read WP:COATRACK, you'll find that it does not apply, in that the criticism is minor and balanced, not at all obscuring the meat of the article. In addition, knowing about the controversy over the debate team being "allowed" to support the pro-abortion view adds value to the article and is not unduly critical. Depending on your political views, you could easily see this as a revelation of how extreme Lofton is, rather than anything negative about LU or Falwell. For all of these reasons, I agree with Doug. MilesMoney (talk) 15:37, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Dougweller, the "lolwat" was my immediate reaction to the criticism being removed on such a ridiculous stated basis, but you're right that it's not a great edit comment. While I can't edit my edit comment after the fact, I did immediately follow up by commenting here. MilesMoney (talk) 15:37, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't feel strongly about this issue but I'm not yet convinced that this belongs in the article because I haven't read or found any cogent argument indicating that this person's opinion as expressed one time is particularly noteworthy. The material would fit well in a different section if there are other noteworthy instances of public discussion of the university's credibility as a Christian institution but if there is only this one instance of criticism by this one individual then it seems to be giving that opinion undue weight to include it in this article. At the very least it should be rewritten and integrated into the article more clearly than as a weird stand-alone two-sentence paragraph in the section about the debate team (since the issue really isn't the debate team). ElKevbo (talk) 16:15, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── There is nothing in WP:COATRACK that makes it ok to insert random criticism into a section simply because it has a tangential relationship to the content, regardless of any purported "balance". This is what's called "fact picking", which is specifically addressed by COATRACK. Lofton's one-time, long ago mention of LU's debate team falls far short of the "significant viewpoint" threshold required by WP:NPOV. It is obviously WP:UNDUE as spelled out in policy:

"Generally, the views of tiny minorities should not be included at all, except perhaps in a "see also" to an article about those specific views."
Looks like that would mean we couldn't include any commentary in any article by one person. Which would be ridiculous. I agree it could be rewritten and inserted elsewhere. Dougweller (talk) 22:08, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
It could be, but criticism should appear wherever it is relevant, not in a single section. This is criticism about the debate program, not the school in general. MilesMoney (talk) 22:29, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
It would be ridiculous, IF that was what the policy actually says. What it does say is that we include "significant viewpoints". So, your starting point is to explain why Lofton, speaking one time and all by himself, constitutes a significant viewpoint. Well? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Roccodrift (talkcontribs) 22:32, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Roccodrift makes a good point. Why is Lofton a significant viewpoint? It is an opinion blog under the category of "John's Blog". And if this isn't a tiny minority viewpoint, then where are the other references from other notable commentators or journalists? I don't see any.Wolfy54 (talk) 23:46, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Exactly where is the webpage with Lofton's commentary? The link in the article redirects to their homepage. There are 6 commentaries listed via a "Lofton" search, but which has the material. A title for this particular entry would be helpful. Perhaps it qualifies as a newsblog, but the actual material is needed. – S. Rich (talk) 02:34, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
A quick Google search brought up an archive: [4]
It's pretty obviously a dig at the school, not the debate program. Roccodrift (talk) 02:59, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. Very helpful. Falls within WP:BLOGS. IMO, not acceptable. – S. Rich (talk) 03:10, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
If you click on John Lofton, you'll see that he's "an American conservative political commentator and editor of The American View radio program". That's why his comments are notable. MilesMoney (talk) 03:30, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
That doesn't tell us anything about why his comments are noteworthy. Can you provide anything more convincing? Is there any evidence that others share his views and opinions regarding this subject? Did anyone take action based on his views and opinions on this subject?
Even if this person's one opinion piece is noteworthy, it's clearly about the university as a whole and not narrowly focused on the debate team. The debate team was merely the example and launching off point. So if this material stays - and right now I'm not convinced that it should - it needs to be rewritten and moved to a more appropriate section. ElKevbo (talk) 03:57, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
For the record, Doug, I do believe that in many cases we shouldn't include commentary written only by one person especially when we don't have evidence that others share that opinion or that anything happened as a result of that person sharing their opinion or view. There are some obvious exceptions to this, of course, such as when the individual in question is a noteworthy expert whose opinion is of inherent encyclopedic value. But in general we shouldn't and we don't include lone commentaries by people whose opinions aren't widely shared or influential so I don't understand your objection to this principle. ElKevbo (talk) 04:02, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Think about it a little bit more, ElKevbo. Where else would it fit? Once the material is moved out of the debate section, then it immediately becomes apparent that it's a trivial blog item and not worth mentioning. The only reason there was even a scintilla of a dispute here is that Lofton made special mention of the LU debate program as a vector for his more general attack on Falwell's administration of the school. And yet the question remains unanswered: who exactly is John Lofton? And why does anyone think that his opinion matters? Nobody has even approached that question with anything like a credible reply. Roccodrift (talk) 04:08, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

And yet these are not at all persuasive as arguments for removing the material in question. WP:NPOV requires us to be neutral, not biased in favor of the subject of the article. We cannot remove material simply because it's critical. The question here isn't who Lofton is to criticize LU, but who you are to try to silence him. MilesMoney (talk) 05:28, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
This is not a question of "silencing" Lofton. We are concerned with the project. Besides the BLOG nature of his commentary, including the Lofton material may be (e.g., is) UNDUE. WP is not a soapbox for those who wish to criticize institutions which they do not hold in high regard. – S. Rich (talk) 05:54, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
It's up to you to show that it's undue, not merely claim it. Likewise, Lofton is a journalist and is a reliable source. Spare me the rhetoric; show us how policy indicates that we should exclude this material. WP is indeed a soapbox for criticism from journalists and other reliable sources. MilesMoney (talk) 06:08, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

I am especially concerned about this edit (in a slow-simmering edit war that needs to stop) by DougWeller that has an edit summary of "but the source is RS for this, so WP:BURDEN is met, I disagree about WP:UNDUE, no consensus to remove, go to RSN if you are claiming burden & RS not met." In particular, that the source is reliable is in no way sufficient to ensure that the cited claim is presented with due weight. We are most certainly not obligated to repeat every claim made by every reliable source; that is the very essence of due weight and editorial decision making. So for at least the third time I ask: What is it about this claim that makes it something we should include in an encyclopedia article? It seems to be an opinion presented once by one person. Is this person so incredibly influential and well-known that even one opinion voiced in one article merits inclusion in an encyclopedia article? Is his opinion shared by others? Did his opinion result in any actions or changes? ElKevbo (talk) 06:03, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

Feel free to put forth some argument against this criticism being due. MilesMoney (talk) 06:08, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but to allow something to be removed under false pretenses is simply wrong. Burden and RS are clearly met and I'm tired of this being used as an excuse to delete.. This sort of one person comment is common in articles and expecting, for instance, it to be met by actions or changes (or to say it should only be included if others say the same thing) is unreasonable. If Lofton had no article I'd probably agree with you, but he does so he is notable by our criteria, right? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dougweller (talkcontribs) 06:19, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
Even so, how does this fit in with WP:UNIGUIDE? Is this small bit of controversy on topic? Are we informing readers about LU, or are we taking a jab at it because of some sort of POV? I don't think we should include it as encyclopedic material. – S. Rich (talk) 06:27, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm going to remind you that neutrality means balance, not censorship. We are obligated to include notable criticism, particular when it's as illuminating as this. Lofton's comments show the reader how LU relates to other groups on its end of the political spectrum. MilesMoney (talk) 06:38, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
One last thing: you linked to WP:UNIGUIDE, but it doesn't support your case at all. Instead, the section on neutrality warns against boosterism. Remember when I removed those unsourced claims about the debate team? That was boosterism being countered. Remember when you removed the well-sourced criticism about the same team? That's boosterism. MilesMoney (talk) 06:41, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
The section of UNIGUIDE on boosterism blows your argument to pieces, Miles.
"Wikipedia is not the place for academic boosterism – do not praise an academic institution but describe it using neutral language and verifiable facts. Remember to Assert facts, not opinions, substantiate the basis for any opinions, and don't tell the reader what to think."
Roccodrift (talk) 07:10, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
With all due respect, your argument is utterly devoid of logic. Not one single bit of it applies to this situation. There is absolutely no boosterism involved in reporting notable criticism by a reliable source. MilesMoney (talk) 07:19, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
No one has adequately demonstrated that this person's opinion - given only once! - is at all interesting and noteworthy. There are no false pretenses just the question of why we should include this one opinion piece in this encyclopedia article. It's not up to us to make the case for exclusion but the burden is on those who argue for including the material. That the source is reliable and that the person has a Wikipedia article are both insufficient grounds for including this opinion piece.
Why can't either of you answer the questions I've asked several times regarding whether this person's opinion is shared by anyone else or this opinion piece resulted in anything happening? Please stop dodging the issues.
And please stop questioning the good faith of editors with whom you disagree. You're both getting pretty close to assuming bad faith and making personal attacks both of which are completely unnecessary and unwelcome. Stick to the facts at hand and please answer my questions. ElKevbo (talk) 07:46, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
Let's see, the guy's Wikipedia biography calls him "an American conservative political commentator and editor of The American View radio program". That explains why his opinion on a conservative university is relevant. I don't see anywhere in policy where it says that he has to share his opinion more than once -- is that a criterion of your own devising? -- or any reason to think it's undue to give it two whole sentences, one of which is just background to explain the context of his statement. Did you also invent the criteria requiring other people to share this view or there being some change as a result of it? I have to ask, because I just can't find it in policy. Seriously, if you have a reason that makes any sense at all, you've yet to share it. If you want to assume bad faith and take it as a personal attack, I can't stop you, but you're barking up the wrong tree. The issue here is entirely a matter of there not being any excuse for removing the criticism. MilesMoney (talk) 08:02, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

RfC: Is a John Lofton's American View material suitable for inclusion?[edit]

There is a clear consensus to omit the highlighted text from the article. And the removal was already done in this edit. Armbrust The Homunculus 11:20, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

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

Should the Debate section of this article contain the highlighted text below? Roccodrift (talk) 13:29, 4 December 2013 (UTC)


Liberty's Inter-Collegiate policy debate program, formerly led by Brett O'Donnell, was number one in the overall rankings Championships in the National Debate Tournament for 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011.[1][2][3][4][5][6] The overall rankings include varsity, junior varsity, and novice results. In varsity rankings, Liberty finished 20th in 2005, 17th in 2006, 24th in 2007, 12th in 2008, 9th in 2009, 4th in 2010 and 4th in 2011. Liberty also hosts the Virginia High School League's annual Debate State Championships every April.

John Lofton of The American View Christian radio show accused Liberty University of not being "a truly Christian college" when Jerry Falwell gave permission for the debate team to debate in favor of abortion when required.[7] The issue arose when the team was faced with the need to argue for abortion rights or give up the debate program for that year.

  1. ^ National Debate Tournament Spring 2005 Report National Debate Tournament, 2005. (MS Word file)
  2. ^ National Debate Tournament Spring 2006 Report National Debate Tournament, 2006. (MS Word file)
  3. ^ National Debate Tournament Spring 2007 Report National Debate Tournament, 2007 (MS Word file)
  4. ^ National Debate Tournament Spring 2009 Report National Debate Tournament, 2009. (MS Word file)
  5. ^ National Debate Tournament Spring 2010 Report National Debate Tournament, 2010. (MS Word file)
  6. ^ National Debate Tournament Spring 2011 Report National Debate Tournament, 2011. (MS Word file)
  7. ^ A Truly Christian College Would Teach Biblical Defense Of The Faith Not "Debate" As A Game John Lofton, The American View, 2006


Omit the Lofton piece and related discussion in the article. No one has presented any compelling information that shows that Lofton's opinion is inherently noteworthy, is shared by others, or has resulted in any action on anyone's part therefore including it in this or any other article gives it undue weight. ElKevbo (talk) 16:38, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

Omit Lofton's opinion because it fails to meet the threshold of a "significant viewpoint", as required by WP:UNDUE. Roccodrift (talk) 07:29, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

Keep Lofton is "an American conservative political commentator and editor of The American View radio program". He's a pundit and journalist, so his opinion is inherently noteworthy and significant. The New York Times and Boston Globe also covered the issue of the debate team having to argue in favor of abortion, showing that the incident itself is notable. Please note that there is no requirement in policy for Lofton's view to be shared by anyone else; that is a red herring that we must disregard as irrelevant. I'll also note that this is valid criticism that WP:NPOV does not allow us to censor. MilesMoney (talk) 08:42, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

Omit Lofton's opinion on Liberty University because he and his opinion fail to meet the requirements for notability and violate WP:UNDUE. Wolfy54 (talk) 16:11, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

Thank you bringing up WP:UNDUE, as others have. Would you consider explaining precisely why you believe it's undue? I ask because it's not self-evident. Lofton is a public figure speaking within his area of expertise, so I would think that this would suffice to make the criticism notable. MilesMoney (talk) 02:00, 10 December 2013 (UTC)

Omit -- The non-notable comment by a non-notable host on a non-notable radio station with a citation to a primary source. I also object to the deceptive Easter egg wikilink for the American View show that appears in the sentence.-- KeithbobTalk 17:42, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

Omit Explained further in the above and below comments. Non notable source, non notable comment. The validity of the comment and the worthiness for inclusion are not things that can be determined mathematically but common sense, (at least by my definition), dictates this section go. Crimsonhexagon (talk) 21:26, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

Threaded discussion[edit]

I was going to do this, but not quite this way as the issue is whether John Lofton's comment should be included at all, not necessarily as part of the debate section. The quote comes from this page. The New York Times article is at [5]. It's also mentioned here. Dougweller (talk) 14:27, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

I should have said that I would have worded it differently, eg "Should a comment by John Lofton be included in the article?" This avoids specifying where, as well as the use of the word 'blog' - it is of course his blog, but the issue isn't that it's a blog but whether his opinion should be included. Dougweller (talk) 14:49, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm not seeing where Lofton is mentioned in either the NYT or Boston Globe articles. Can you please help me find it? Thanks! ElKevbo (talk) 14:56, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
The 'debate', sorry, not Lofton. Dougweller (talk) 15:44, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
Then I'm afraid that I don't see how those publications are germane to this discussion. The question on the table is the inclusion of the Lofton piece and associated material, not the general issue of inclusion of the debate team in this article. ElKevbo (talk) 16:35, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
It's context. The Lofton piece mentions the NYT article, so it seems obviously relevant. I think the BG article is also - if you don't see that, you don't see that, but I do. It's about the debate team arguing for abortion if required to. Dougweller (talk) 17:06, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
No, that's not how it works. We don't consider an opinion piece to be more noteworthy just because it mentions a NYT or Boston Globe article. It works the other way around: If the NYT or Boston Globe discussed Lofton's opinion or his piece then that would be evidence that it's noteworthy and something we should include in an encyclopedia.
So again (for the fifth time?) I ask: What evidence is there that this opinion piece is so noteworthy that it should be explicitly discussed in an encyclopedia article? ElKevbo (talk) 18:21, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
Once again you've misunderstood me (where have I mentioned noteworthy, or anything for or against keeping this, in this thread?). I've posted here only to provide the link for Lofton, the NYT article he refers to, and just because I found it and it seems relevant, the BG article. This is an RfC, let's see what others have to say. If I feel like it, I may say more, but not because I'm being questioned over and over again. Dougweller (talk) 19:40, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Dougweller, you're getting questioned over and over because you've been dodging questions about how your edits comport with Wikipedia policy. So far, the crux of your position seems to be that Lofton's blog is a RS for Lofton's opinion, so therefore the material is suitable for inclusion. But you have studiously avoided the matters of due weight and relevance. You steadfastly refuse to address the most basic question, "Why does Lofton matter?" You're stonewalling. (Impertinent of me to express it this way. Sorry.)

Those articles don't strengthen your case; they weaken it. Here we see coverage in two major news sources, and neither of them contain a mention or even a hint of agreement with Lofton's views. It's obvious that the bombastic Lofton is an outlier, and doesn't represent the required "significant viewpoint". Roccodrift (talk) 22:48, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

As usual, your reasoning eludes me. The fact that two other reliable sources noted the odd situation about the debate team being forced to argue in favor of abortion shows that it's not some fine point that Lofton picked up on but nobody else cared about. I have no idea why you imagine that Lofton's point has to be repeated by other to be significant. Is there a policy behind this or did you make it up? MilesMoney (talk) 04:29, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
But that's not Lofton's point or even a point of discussion here. Lofton's point is that this situation is evidence that Liberty University is not (as) Christian as it claims to be. That is why this material is included in this article and why it is at all interesting. Without that claim - which appears to be only be Lofton's and as such is such a tiny minority view that it's not something to be included in an encyclopedia - it's completely trivial and not worth noting since it's totally routine and expected that debate teams prepare both sides of a debate. ElKevbo (talk) 04:56, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Being expected to debate any side of an issue is normal; the expectation that a truly Christian college would disallow the pro-abortion side is, well, unexpected. The Globe and Times show that the issue of debating in favor of abortion is notable, and Lofton is an example of how this incident was viewed by other conservatives. His view is in itself notable; I have no idea where you get the notion that it's a "minority" view. In fact, I'm not even sure what it's a minority 'of'. You seem to be using it purely as a slur to discredit Lofton, but that goes against our sources, which show him to be a journalist and pundit. MilesMoney (talk) 05:20, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Ok, I'll repeat myself - " This sort of one person comment is common in articles and expecting, for instance, it to be met by actions or changes (or to say it should only be included if others say the same thing) is unreasonable. If Lofton had no article I'd probably agree with you, but he does so he is notable by our criteria, right?" This is simply my opinion, hopefully the RfC will show if others share it. Dougweller (talk) 06:40, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Seriously? You're an admin and that is your argument?
Do I really have to explain to you that what's been done in other articles makes absolutely no difference whatsoever?
OK, here it is again, the thing you need to address... here is the section of a Wikipedia core policy that you (an admin, who should know better) have been ignoring: WP:NPOV
"Neutrality requires that each article or other page in the mainspace fairly represents all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint in the published, reliable sources."
Thus far, you haven't even attempted to explain how Lofton's blog piece meets that threshold. Lofton's attainment of basic notability for a Wikipedia article is meaningless here. We do not enshrine every pronouncement of every person who has a bio on Wikipedia simply because we carry a bio on them.
We've asked you repeatedly: "Why does Lofton matter?" What makes the opinion of John Lofton significant? And you are still dodging that question. Why wouldn't you address it, unless the reason is that you simply don't have an answer. And if you don't have an answer, then you are simply being obstructionist. Roccodrift (talk) 07:11, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
This question has been answered repeatedly. Ignoring an answer does not prevent it from existing. MilesMoney (talk) 07:18, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

NPOV and lead[edit]

See WP:LEAD - the attempt to keep any controversies out of the lead - which seems to be mainly by SPAs, violations both our guideline on leads and NPOV. Dougweller (talk) 19:44, 5 December 2014 (UTC)

The main argument is Relative Emphasis. Your counter was that a controversy should be included in the lead. I argued that the addition of a controversy in the lead was unusual for a College and University stub. But the main argument is still Relative Emphasis. Liberty is a very large university with 148 areas of study. To single out the curriculum of one area of study for the lead (even if it is controversial and wrong) violates Relative Emphasis, and breaks with the usual College and University stub. YEC is not even a trait that Liberty is well-known for outside of science academia; for instance, it is not mentioned in the lengthy Washington Post article from last year. Liberty is not the only university to have strange curriculum. It is well-handled and fine in the body of the article, where it belongs.Wolfy54 (talk) 20:08, 5 December 2014 (UTC)

Can you quote the guideline that mentions relative emphasis? Please note what I've written - there are no controversies mentioned in the lead. 'Unusual' doesn't mean that they should be kept out of the lead. Dougweller (talk) 09:31, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
WP:UNDUE and WP:LEAD ("Do not violate Wikipedia:Neutral point of view by giving undue attention to less important controversies in the lead section.")? This is not an expression of an opinion about the topic under discussion – just a pointer to the policy that I think is being invoked here. —BarrelProof (talk) 18:35, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
But that doesn't mean no controversies should be mentioned (and I know you aren't suggesting that). I'm not arguing for the creationist stuff, just saying that keeping all controversy out of the lead is probably inappropriate for this specific university. Dougweller (talk) 18:48, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
I think the inclusion of that subject in the lead is entirely warranted and appropriate. There are not many universities, especially ones so large, that offer science programs teaching intelligent design. I disagree that its inclusion in the lead would represent undue emphasis. Rytyho usa (talk) 21:12, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
That is the policy to which I was referring, and that is still my main argument. I agree that controversies may be appropriate in the lead of articles, but I think it is undue in this instance for the reasons outlined above. Wolfy54 (talk) 22:51, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
Please remove the NPOV tag at the top of the article. I don't think it is relevant or necessary, and it has been there for over a month.Wolfy54 (talk) 04:01, 19 January 2015 (UTC)


Can someone please elaborate what exactly Liberty University is teaching as creationism? Seems a rather short subject. ♆ CUSH ♆ 18:21, 14 September 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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