User:Dennis Bratland/sandbox

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Draft WP:NOT proposal[edit]

Wikipedia is not the final arbiter of truth

Wikipedia is not written to settle bar bets. Wikipedia is not your Snopes, PolitiFact or FactCheck.org. The policies requiring neutrality and verifiability, and prohibiting original research, mean that Wikipedia cannot judge who is right in an entrenched disagreement.

Articles give space and weight to facts that are most widely accepted and established. While fringe ideas are given little space, significant dissent from mainstream views is still given attention proportionate with what reliable sources give it. When reputable authorities and experts are divided, Wikipedia will struggle to accurately portray that division, but not oversimplify it.

A Wikipedia article cannot resolve questions that established experts have not themselves fully resolved. The ambiguities and contradictions of real life cannot be artificially made simple and tidy by Wikipedia. Articles can strive to give simple explanations for complicated concepts, but they cannot do away with complexity itself, nor make a roundabout series of events into a straightforward narrative. This does not mean Wikipedia should present facts as if they were opinions, only that Wikipedia does not add weight to the judgement of reliable sources.

An encyclopedia article is not the place to find the definitive answer to the question of whether the motorcycle is a German, French, or American invention. Wikipedia can verify that for a long time, most mainstream authorities have agreed it was the Daimler Reitwagen, but the muddy and complicated picture made by reputable dissenters who bring up earlier steam motorcycles cannot be neatly cleaned up by Wikipedia editors. The International Astronomical Union's mission may include announcing, once and for all, that Pluto is not a planet, but Wikipedia's mission is only to describe the IAU's statements, and the significance and influence the IAU represents, but not to give or withhold a Wikipedia seal of approval. An encyclopedia of unlimited size can give a plot summary and production details of the Friends episode that featured the practice of going commando, but Wikipedia cannot change from opinion to fact the assertion that Friends is almost solely responsible for popularizing the slang term for not wearing underwear, even if that means you never get to find out who really won trivia night.

As with any reference work, an encyclopedia is often used to find a quick answer to a simple question. But Wikipedia only gives pat answers when there happens to be overwhelming consensus among reliable sources. Definitive answers are not an editorial goal and no editor is under pressure to suppress ambiguity. Changing an article, or requesting that it be changed, to give answers straightforward enough to settle your bar bet is contrary to Wikipedia's core principles.