User:Herostratus/List of The Angry Video Game Nerd episodes

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Summary and decision[edit]

I'm closing this RfC with a result of Delete the external links from the body of the article. Instead, just retain a link or a few links in the "External links" section that devolve to sites hosting the videos.

I've considered the various arguments in some detail, and this "Summary and decision" section only summarizes these. If my exposition of the arguments seems overly simplified here, see the various sections below for more detail.

Three details to be gotten out of the way to start:

  • If the videos are not separate external links in the body of the article, they cannot be anywhere in the article. That would require the "External links" section to be too long and this would violate WP:LINKFARM {"Excessive lists [of external links] can dwarf articles and detract from the purpose of Wikipedia") in both letter and spirit, and that is a policy.
  • It's highly problematical to consider the links as references (I expound on this below), but if they are to be references, they should be cited normally: the {{cite video}} template or another template in the body of the text, the actual link to the video to be accessible from the "References" section, or some other similar method.
  • The links to the videos, if present, have to be labeled as video links.

The headcount was, depending on how one counts standing (and counting all commentors in the whole history of the talk page, not just the RfC sections), about 10-7 in favor of including the links. This is close enough that I didn't consider it very important. So we move on to strength of argument.

The argument in favor of keeping the videos as separate external links basically comes down to one big point:

  1. It is incontrovertible that at least some people would find the links useful, even if we restrict "useful" to mean "useful for scholarly research".
  2. And there's very little cost to include them. Wikipedia is not WP:PAPER, and no one is forced to clink the links.
  3. And so including the links is net benefit.
  4. And it is only guidelines, not policies, which militate against the links (and even that is arguable).
  5. So of course they should be included, and to do this the guidelines should be interpreted with some common sense leeway, or apply WP:IAR and WP:NOTBUREAUCRACY and WP:5P Pillar 5 if it comes to it.

A very compelling argument, as I have said below. Against this, we have some less compelling arguments. Is there a strong policy proscription of these links? No, there isn't:

  • WP:NOTREPOSITORY (also called WP:NOTMIRROR, WP:LINKFARM, WP:NOTLINK) which is a policy, was cited. It's a policy so if it applies that would be strong argument. In my view it doesn't apply here, this is not a case of a bare list of links.
  • WP:NOTDIRECTORY, ditto.

But there are some cogent, if non-policy, arguments:

  • Wikipedia:External links is a guideline, but a cogent and much-cited one. It militates against including external links in the body of an article, granted it says only to "normally" not use them (although "exceptions are rare").
  • The links cannot continue to exist in their present form, they must include the information that they are video links, and this would to some extent add clutter and raise the cost of including the links, somewhat weakening "include links" point #2. (N.B.: This point was not raised by any of the commentors, I raise it here. Whether to do this as closer is considered bad form or not I don't know.)
  • The list is probably not eligible to become a Featured List if it contains these kind of external links. No other Featured List includes this feature. And all lists should aspire to be featured lists. (N.B.: This point was not raised by any of the commentors, I raise it here. Whether to do this as closer is considered bad form or not I don't know.)

Then getting back to the "include links" main argument. What about point #1? I think it's not as strong as it appears at first.

It is true that the number of persons doing scholarly research or other legitimate research who would find these links useful is not zero. But it is probably pretty small, and since there is a link to the videos in the "External links" section this is not a problem, and our imagined scholar would likely find this as useful if not more useful as a way to access the videos. So this is not an important point.

It is true that the number of persons persons not doing scholarly research who find these links useful is probably much higher. However, what about these people? This takes us to point #2.

  1. 2 is that there's very little cost to include them. I think that argument that there is little cost to including the links is not proven.

I have one commentor with "Personally, I think the links decrease the quality of the article. All the little EL icons make it quite ugly looking." But that is just one person. But as pointed out above, we would need to make the link text longer. So there's some cost there, in what Edward Tufte would call datacluttter. As encyclopediasts we are information designers and do have to consider this.

And then this: although this was not a major point, one commentor decried the "...fan-dom direction Wiki would take without these rules [against such links]".

Normally I wouldn't care about this, but... well, the behavior of the commentors got me to thinking.

Based on the behavior of the the people who commented, I would think it fair to say that the Wikipedia would be justified in actively discouraging such people coming to the Wikipedia, or at any rate certainly not catering to them. OK, we don't care who reads the Wikipedia, but if these people are going to become actively involved in editing the Wikipedia and participating in these discussions, it's legitimate to ask if we are encouraging an an Eternal September type situation by overlinking to certain types of popular media. To the extent that this is too bad for the (relatively few) people favoring the links who didn't misbehave: life isn't fair. I think this is a legitimate point.

So I don't see the links as very useful for scholars. And I don't see the population to whom the links would be useful as a population that we need to go out of our way to accommodate. If someone finds the links as a gateway to an amusing and merry few minutes on this earth, that is all well and good, but providing easy access to mirth is not what we're here for, and I didn't see any invocation of "useful" that refutes WP:USEFUL.

And so I don't see point #3, that the links are a net benefit, as proven or necessarily true. And if #3 is not true or at any rate not proven, points #4 and #5 don't matter and we are thrown back on WP:LINKBURDEN.

A couple of commentors noted "The long standing policy against external links is the result of earlier debate and any call for change of policy should be discussed elsewhere" and "The existing Wikipedia policies are the result of long term discussion so they should hold more weight than the immediate reaction of a few fans on a single article"

I think that this is spot on, and a strong point. The people who write [[[Wikipedia:External links]] aren't fools, and they had their reasons for writing it as they did.

What I would suggest is this. I suppose we are going to see more and more material like this. How are we going to handle this? Are we generally going to include external links to the material in the body of the lists and articles, or not? The articles Homestar Runner and so forth aren't peppered with external links. Should they be? I don't know, but I do think that if we are going to go in this direction there needs to be a good long centralized discussion of the matter, for which I would recommend Wikipedia talk:External links as a start.

In the meantime, let's follow the guideline. Herostratus (talk) 07:08, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

Guiding policies and principles[edit]

The guiding principle of Wikipedia is that "Wikipedia is first and foremost an online encyclopedia". Wiktionary, the free dictionary, defines "encyclopedia" as "A comprehensive reference work with articles on a range of subjects", with "comprehensive" defined as "Broadly or completely covering; including a large proportion of something."

The policy "Wikipedia is not a mirror or a repository of links, images, or media files" states: ""Wikipedia articles are not mere collections of external links or Internet directories. There is nothing wrong with adding one or more useful content-relevant links to an article; however, excessive lists can dwarf articles and detract from the purpose of Wikipedia. On articles about topics with many fansites, for example, including a link to one major fansite may be appropriate.

The nutshell for guideline Wikipedia:External links is:

"External links in an article can be helpful to the reader, but they should be kept minimal, meritable, and directly relevant to the article."

and other material in this guideline includes:

  • "External links should not normally be used in the body of an article. Instead, include appropriate external links in an "External links" section at the end of the article..."
  • "it is not Wikipedia's purpose to include a lengthy or comprehensive list of external links related to each topic"
  • "The burden of providing... justification is on the person who wants to include an external link."
  • "An article about a book, a musical score, or some other media should link to a site hosting a copy of the work"
  • "Very large pages, such as pages containing rich media files, should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Worldwide, many use Wikipedia with a low-speed connection."
  • Long lists of links are not acceptable"
  • The WP:ELBURDEN section states "The fact that a given link is not actually prohibited by this guideline does not automatically mean that it must or should be linked. Every link provided must be justifiable in the opinion of the editors for an article... Disputed links should normally be excluded by default unless and until there is a consensus to include them."

Under "Links normally to be avoided", there are twenty cases of links not to use. As near as I can figure, the YouTube videos don't meet any of these twenty cases.

WP:ELPEREN is only an essay, but a well-formed one that has much the weight of a guideline. WP:ELPEREN#YouTube has this to say: YouTube (and this would or could apply to other video-serving entities, depending on their reliability) is "sometimes" acceptable as an external link and as reference. The examples given (videos from government agencies or network news) are rather a far way from these videos, but this situation is different as the article is about an internet video entity. However, it points out that all videos Videos must be labeled with software requirements (note existence of Template:YouTube), and that many people can't view videos.

(Considering this, I concluded that the fact that people using the Wikipedia via printed copy, telephone, dial-up modem, in some countries, etc. can't view a video makes video an extremely poor if not outright disallowable medium for citation as a reference, since reference is a core part of a Wikipedia article. If the link is just a here's-something-extra add-on that's different.)

The guideline Wikipedia:Manual of Style (linking) (which is primarily, but not entirely, concerned with internal links to other articles) says:

  • "Appropriate links provide instant pathways to locations within and outside the project that are likely to increase readers' understanding of the topic at hand... Care should be taken to avoid both underlinking and overlinking"
  • "Don't assume that readers will be able to access a link at all, as, for example, they might have printed down an article and be reading the hard copy on paper"
  • "If the link is not to an HTML or PDF file, identify the file type"

Wikipedia:Inline citation (which is only an essay) is relevant to the extent, and only to the extent, that an external link (inline or not) is used to support statements in the article. Nothing in this essay envisions the use of non-text media for inline citations. (My opinion: that doesn't mean it is not allowed. However, it is not standard and there are problems with that (a bare video proves nothing, and anyone can put a video on YouTube (although no one here has claimed these YouTube videos are false); and citations should not be completely unavailable to persons using printed copies etc.).

Wikipedia:Arguments to avoid in deletion discussions is only an essay, and relates to deletion discussions. However, the section WP:USEFUL does have something to say about the argument of "usefulness" in general:

  • "just saying something is useful or useless without providing explanation and context is not helpful... you need to tell us why the [material] is useful or useless, and whether it meets Wikipedia's policies... Usefulness is a subjective judgment and should be avoided... Try to exercise common sense, and consider how a non-trivial number of people will consider the information "useful". Information found in tables in particular is focused on usefulness to the reader"

WP:PRESERVE, a policy, doesn't really have much to offer. It's really only about text, saving it by rewriting rather than deleting it. It would come into play only if the argument was "the links are badly presented (or formatted), delete them" was an issue, which has been mentioned but is pretty peripheral to this discussion. WP:COMPREHENSIVE (only an essay anyway) is only about edgy material and doesn't have any application here. WP:LINKSPAM, a guideline, says "Adding external links... for the purpose of promoting a website or a product is not allowed", doesn't really apply here.

WP:COPYLINK would not apply to the YouTube videos if the video were uploaded there with the knowledge and consent of the copyright holders. I am assuming that this must be true or we would not even be having this discussion (and YouTube would have deleted them.)

Wikipedia:Television episodes. Although these are not "television" episodes, they are something close to it, except broadcast via the web rather than TV, so Wikipedia:Television episodes (a guideline) is worth looking at. It doesn't have anything to say in the body of the guideline, but it does give three examples of "List of..." TV episode articles that reached featured list status and are presented as good examples. TV episodes may not be available on the web, though.

  • List of 30 Rock episodes doesn't have any links to video of the episodes. Presumably not available.
  • List of Avatar: The Last Airbender episodes doesn't have any links to video of the episodes. Presumably not available. (It has one link in the "References" section which, while it is mainly included because it contains text information, does itself contain a link to download (not view) videos of the episodes, but this requires registering as a member of some entity. If this was the main purpose of the link, it would not be allowed.)
  • List of Heroes episodes has a single link, "Watch full episodes at NBC.com" in the reference section. Heroes has had webcast spinoffs (listed at List of Heroes episodes#Web-based spin-offs) and, significantly, there are not links to these, either in the body of the tables or anywhere else, even though they are presumably available on the web.

Discussion[edit]

I believe that the first mention of this issue was at Talk:List of The Angry Video Game Nerd episodes/Archive 1#Links to episodes on March 16, 2009. However, the issue only began to capture real attention on Christmas Eve of 2010, with the creation of the section Talk:List of The Angry Video Game Nerd episodes#Removal of External Links. The main relevant talk page sections are

Headcount[edit]

To start, let's count heads. Granted that headcount is not a decisive or even necessarily important factor, its a place to start.

In the earlier discussions before the main discussions began, we had

  • User:ManfromDelmonte with "I feel that each episode needs some sort of external reference to prove its existence." Possibly this proof could be links to the videos (or not).
  • User:Apoyon, established editor, active, opposed to the links.
  • User:Rror, established editor, inactive, had mixed feelings.
  • User:DevinCook, established editor, active, was just concerned at this time that links should go to offical AVGN site not YouTube. Later he made comments putting him in the "opposed" camp, see below.

In a later sections after the main RfC, we had

  • User:Egon Eagle, established editor, active, opposes the links
  • User:Exs10s, established editor, active, favors the links. (N.B. and FWIW - only five edits after 2007 (last in April 2010) before making nine recent edits, eight to this talk page, so "active" may be arguable.)
"Removal of External Links" talk page section[edit]

Opposed to links in the body of the article:

Favoring links in the body of the article:

Other:

  • User:MSGJ established editor, active. Did remove the links, but as a procedural matter, and has expressed neutrality.
  • User:Shadurak, neither established nor active. Position not completely clear, but looks to be against the links.
  • User:Ged UK, established, active, admin. Comment only to say that he had protected the page.
"The Unholy Crusade" talk page section[edit]

Only adding editors not referenced in the above section.

Opposed to links in the body of the article:

Favoring links in the body of the article:

Other:

"Request for comments" talk page section[edit]

User:MSGJ created this RfC. This was only somewhat successful in bringing in new blood and was mostly dominated by users who had contributed previously.

Only adding editors not referenced in the above section.

Opposed to links in the body of the article:

  • User:Melodia, established editor, active.
  • User:WhatamIdoing, established editor, active. Comment was "Is there a webpage somewhere that already lists all these links? It would be preferable to link to a 'www.fansite.com/WatchAllTheVideos.html' than to link directly to all these videos ourselves." And it was then pointed out that there is exactly such a link, here. So I would categorize WhatamIdoing as thus being opposed to the links.
  • User:ElKevbo, established editor, active.

Favoring links in the body of the article:

Other:

  • User:174.95.108.172, not established or active (although he does claim to have a real account, just not willing to use it here). Gist of comment was "Get a life, people" and just stop arguing about it.
Headcount summary[edit]

I discounted editors who I don't consider to have standing: 7 anon IP's, all of the "favor links" persuasion. All of these were basically WP:SPA's or close enough. I didn't count User:ManfromDelmonte either way, as his concern was verifiability, which is probably best met with text references rather than media. I was inclined to not count User:Shakzor on grounds of removing oneself from consideration by poor behavior, but I did count him, since at no time did he compare the deletion of the links to the Holocaust, which may have required some restraint on his part. I did include User:MSGJ as opposed. This gives:

  • 7 opposed to links.
  • 10 in favor of links.

However, in my written notes, only one of the 7 "oppose links" commentors are marked up (for unclarity of position), while 6 of the "favor links" commentors are marked up, either for egregious behavior or iffy standing. It could have been 6-7 rather than 7-10 if I'd used stricter criteria. At 7-10 there is 59% in favor from a mid-sized sample. It is edging toward a supermajority but not enough to constitute a supermajority, so I gave little weight to the headcount. I did give some.

Regarding behavior[edit]

There was great deal of heat - and uncivil and otherwise bad behavior - at some points. Going through my notes, I have:

"...deletionist moronacy...", "...bureaucratic troll destroying information to lick the boots of hyper-policy driven administrators to try and earn things like Barn-stars. This is exactly what the bureaucrats that worked for the Nazi regime were like. Please STOP DESTROYING TRUTHFUL INFORMATION HERE.", "...drooling psychopath...", "**** everyone who wants to delete those links.", "...ignorant minds here on wikipedia; gathering place for law school drop-outs. I will be back reverting the page on February 1st, when the protection expires.", "Wikipedia is a JOKE!", "This is complete horseshit.", "You Deleters need to get a life." (edit summary), "...deletion gestapo...", "You are an elitist, ignorant, disdainful hypocrite...", in addition which my notes include quite a few cases of use of all caps.

It's remarkable that every single one of the these quotes is from a person in the "support the links" camp, and that was a broad-based effort - these quotes come from at least a half dozen different editors. I wasn't looking to cherry-pick quotes from one camp or another, I just pulled the most egregious ones that came to my attention, and they turned out to be all from one side.

Editors in the "oppose the links" camp were not perfect, but they weren't nearly as bad, and they didn't start this trend of behavior, and they were generally responding to being provoked or baited. I have a couple of quotes - "Clearly you guys can't read [this quote]" and "Grow up!", which are not good, but as I say after some considerable provocation.

Couple of points about this. On the one hand:

  • This sort of thing is annoying to everyone involved. Its annoying to me personally, and it doesn't predispose me to look with favor on the arguments presented. This shouldn't affect my decision, but I'm only human.
  • We don't want to reward this sort of behavior. This is not how we make arguments or "get our way" on the Wikipedia, and we do not want to give the impression that it is ever likely to be successful tactic, and it's legitimate to take this into account, I think.

In the other hand... some editors got heated because they feel it is just slam-dunk obvious that their arguments are clearly prima facie correct. I understand this, and I understand why they feel that way, and it's not an illegitimate response when you consider things at first blush (although its still no excuse for bad behavior), and on some level you have to respect that. I'll address this in more detail below.

About the "Summary of External Link Issue"[edit]

Here, User:Anber made a detailed summary of the debate and the players. He is to be commended for this work and for the time and effort he put into it. I especially appreciated that, even though he was heavily involved in the discussions, he produced a fair-minded and even-handed summary, which I have used as a reference.

I didn't agree with all of his methodology, including the division into editors who are and are not major contributors to this debate. I considered overall Wikipedia standing for headcounting purposes and discounted some users which I didn't consider to have standing, for instance. However, when it comes the strength of argument I didn't pay any attention to standing. For instance, User:70.54.91.203 has made only one edit to the Wikipedia, but in that one edit he had something useful and cogent to say, and I considered that neither more nor less strongly than if he had had 20,000 edits.

On reading this section, I find that it is a fair summary. Most of Anber's work duplicates what I have done here, so I am not going to quote from it extensively, but it was useful to read.

Arguments[edit]

Some more background[edit]

Going back to first principles: "Wikipedia is first and foremost an online encyclopedia". Well, what is an encyclopedia, and what is it for (in design, and in practice)? Nobody can answer that exactly, but some of the customers for this article might include:

  • A person researching a book or article titled (say) FreeMedia: How The Internet Will Destroy Television or (say) Armagedoom: Online Media And The Dumbing Down Of Popular Entertainment or (say) Born In A Funk: How A Random Slacker Achieved Internet Stardom and so on.
  • A person researching a scholarly paper on any number of subjects - the growth of internet media or whatever.
  • A person wanting to settle a bet over whether AVGN ever reviewed Donkey Kong.
  • A person browsing the encyclopedia at random.
  • A person who wants to start their own series of web videos and is researching the current state of the art.
  • A person compiling a database, say like IMDB but for web videos.
  • A TV network employee tasked with "finding out what the kids are watching on the computer so we can pitch that to the suits".
  • A person who was told the AVGN was worthwhile watching.
  • An AVGN fan.
  • Yadda yadda yadda. Who knows?

The only real operative policy is WP:LINKFARM ("Wikipedia is not a mirror or a repository of links, images, or media files"). It doesn't really apply here. No one is claiming that this article is mainly a list of links. It would apply if a separate link to each episode was moved to an "External links" section" - that would make the section too long and unwieldy, and would (in my opinion) pretty much violate this policy. No one has suggested this, probably for this reason.

So we are concerned with guidelines only. Guidelines are just that, they are not policy, but some guidelines (WP:EL included) are well-considered and venerable and are often seen as being close to being policy. But they're not, its good to remember.

Here's what I am seeing: a lot of people on both sides do aver that there are some strong guideline points against including the links. And this is true. Actually, there are guideline points on both sides, but there are some pretty strong points against including the links:

  • "External links should not normally be used in the body of an article." (guideline)
  • "External links... should be kept minimal." (guideline)
  • "The burden of providing... justification is on the person who wants to include an external link" (guideline)

But then:

  • ""An article about [a work] should link to a site hosting a copy of the work" (guideline)

While the Wikipedia is not against someone coming, through a Wikipedia link, to see an amusing and enjoyable video, we are not in favor of that either. We are not here to provide amusement or enjoyment in this way, we are here to provide information.

On the other hand, there certainly is information in the videos. Many researchers, scholars, and casual readers would have no need to view the videos. But some would. This, I think, is a core element of the "include links" camp (and perhaps why some feel so vehement about the issue):

  1. The number of people who would find the links useful is certainly not zero.
  2. And there's no cost to include, or little cost. Wikipedia is not WP:PAPER.
  3. So of course they should be included, and to do this either the guidelines should be interpreted with some common sense, or apply WP:IAR if it comes to it.

This is an extremely compelling argument, by the way. It doesn't necessarily make it right, but it is compelling.

Summary of arguments[edit]

There was a lot of material, but a lot of repetition. I pulled some quotes, and there are a lot of quotes making similar points which I didn't pull.

Opposed to the links[edit]
  • WP:NOTLINK, WP:ELPOINTS, WP:NOTDIRECTORY.
  • "Information about episodes are encyclopedic. The episodes themselves, are not."
  • "...fan-dom direction Wiki would take without these rules"
  • "...makes the articles "fragile" inasmuch as external links can never be considered 100% stable."
  • "While linking to YouTube can be a valid reference in some instances, this is not one of them."
  • "The long standing policy against external links is the result of earlier debate and any call for change of policy should be discussed elsewhere."
  • WP:SAL. "I fail to see how >100 links is minimal."
  • "From WP:EL, you might consider is 'it is not Wikipedia's purpose to include a lengthy or comprehensive list of external links related to each topic'."
  • "The existing Wikipedia policies are the result of long term discussion so they should hold more weight than the immediate reaction of a few fans on a single article."
  • "WP:EL states 'External links should not normally be used in the body of an article. Instead, include appropriate external links in an External links section at the end of the article...' The article includes an External links section which links to the four main sites that contain the individual episodes."
  • "WP:EL stats 'In the External links section, try to avoid separate links to multiple pages in the same website; instead, try to find an appropriate linking page within the site.' No credible policy based argument has been put forward as to why separate links to multiple pages in the same website is valid here."
  • WP:NOTDIR states 'Wikipedia is not a directory'. Inclusion of these links turns this article into a directory... WP:NOTMIRROR states 'Wikipedia is not a mirror or a repository of links'. Inclusion of these links makes Wikipedia a repository of links."
  • "This page as it is has serious sourcing problems. All sources are from the subject. No independent reliable sources have been used. These external links compound the sourcing problem."
  • "It has been suggested elsewhere that the external links could be turned into references. This would not be appropriate as they are not independent sources and while Wikipedia:Verifiability does allow for the use of self-published sources as sources, to convert these links would be unduly self-serving and would compound the problem of this article being based primarily on such sources."
  • "At the end of the day this page is not unlike others so there is no reason this page should have an exception to the policies."
  • "The purpose of this page is not to tell people where to find all these individual videos, that would be the purpose of a directory. This is not a directory, it is an encyclopedia, the article should tell people about the videos..."
  • "I fail to see how the quality is substantially reduced [if the links are removed], I personally think it will be increased... Personally, I think the links decrease the quality of the article. All the little EL icons make it quite ugly looking."
  • "A game guide is useful, a telephone directory is useful, etc etc but they are not what Wikipedia is for."
In favor of the links[edit]
  • "It is quote common and useful to have links like this." and "There are countless examples of this being done elsewhere.." and "Many other pages do this..."
  • "...there is no reason to artificially limit the size and scope of things as with a traditional media encyclopedia..."
  • "...diminishes the usefulness and general worth of the episodes page to delete these links..."
  • "...a single link from each episode to the episode doesn't violate policy. To quote: 'There is nothing wrong with adding one or more useful content-relevant links to an article; however, excessive lists can dwarf articles and detract from the purpose of Wikipedia.' I don't see these links in any way dwarfing the article itself or detracting from the purpose."
  • "...over-zealous application of the letter of the law is in contrast to the spirit of the law, which is intended to uphold quality in articles."
  • "On this kind of page specifically, a direct link to the the subject media is relevant for each entry in the episode list; and I would call the use of these links "minimal, meritable, and directly relevant to the article" as the guideline states."
  • "...the information on this page is incomplete without the inclusion of these links. The 'Related videos' section specifically becomes completely vestigial when the links are removed, as there is no way of locating all the material without the links. I would also say that it is more useful... Should we keep a page around because it conforms to Wikipedia policy, even though the information on it is nearly useless owing to those policies? Well that is what this page is without the links."
  • WP:5P, fifth pillar ('Wikipedia does not have firm rules')' WP:BURO.
  • "The spirit of the rule for WP:EL is to avoid pages where a list of external links is the only focus of the page. That is not the sole or primary purpose of this page."
  • "What harm does it do to have the links? Is it freeing up a few extra megabytes of bandwidth? Is it making the site look "unprofessional"? Nobody cares! People use Wikipedia as a source of information. They don't care if it looks professional. Now, I want some answers on how exactly ELs are murdering and raping people."
  • "...provide a reliable source proving the existence of the episodes, and convenience for the reader."
  • "Wikipedia's rules are flexible and are meant to ensure a good quality product."
  • "'External Links should not normally (my emphasis added) be used in the body of an article'. This implies a general rule but not an absolute rule. This page appears to be an exception. It refers to one exception being for 'other meaningful, relevant content' purposes. This would seem to be such a purpose. 'An article about a book, a musical score, or some other media should link to a site hosting a copy of the work' and this is a valid reason to keep the links. 'There is no blanket ban on linking to YouTube or other user-submitted video sites'. Further, from WP:NOTLINK: 'excessive lists can dwarf articles'. This is not a concern here. In the present case, the use of links is done tastefully in a way that promotes usefulness of the article without making the article long or unsightly."
  • "...while there are good arguments on both sides, firstly, article quality should be supreme..."
  • "I can see nowhere that says 'Do not use external links in the body of an article, ever. Always put them in a separate section below the body.' All terms used in actual policy are indefinite, and the wording leaves room for flexibility. You... cite policy as though the wording were constructed from hewn granite, but this is not the case. If the links are individually and directly relevant to the subject matter of an article, why should they not be included? Not all content is linked at the bottom of the article. The source sites are, yes, but the individual links represent an organization of information... The organization on YouTube as a whole is atrocious, the links solve that problem quite handily. The other sites linked are more organized, but the episode list on one is not the same as the episode list on another, and the reason for this is the same as the reason for multiple links for some episodes, as episodes have been changed from one version to another. If a link gets changed or goes dead, then it should be noted as such, and a suitable replacement link should be found in its stead. It seems that all the episode links are still functioning nicely. As for the longevity of links, they have been there long enough for my reckoning, and no one has yet to put forth an argument as to why the two-plus year history of these links being around is to be ignored.
  • "It is not as though this page consisted of 'Here's a link to an episode, and here's a link to another', and so on; it is rich in information and much more than a mere 'repository of links' or a 'directory' or just a collection of off-site content or a 'link repository'."
  • "The rules of Wikipedia policy are meant to be applied in a way which contributes to the quality of the final product."
  • "Adding a link doesn't make something a directory. The idea is it shouldn't solely be a directory."

Some final points referenced in summary and decision[edit]

About the links as media[edit]

Currently, the links are displayed like this:

But this is not allowed. Links to rich media have to labeled as such (Wikipedia:Manual of Style (linking): "If the link is not to an HTML or PDF file, identify the file type"), I presume this is because otherwise the user may be surprised by an attempt to display rich media, which might hang his machine, which is not friendly.

There is Template:YouTube, which would give:

Even if this template is not used, per Wikipedia:Manual of Style (linking) you need to give a warning when you are linking to anything other than HTML or PDF. Something like this at least:

This does have some bearing. Given that this is required, it would clutter the format a bit, and give the argument "All the little EL icons make it quite ugly looking" more weight. It's possible or even likely, though, that this could be overcome to some extent - but only to some extent - with changes to formatting of the tables. (The section Talk:List of The Angry Video Game Nerd episodes#Suggestion addressed formatting, although not this issue exactly.)

(There is also a template, {{External media}}, designed for external video links ("This template is normally placed in the main body of the article, in the same place that you would normally have placed the image, audio, or video clip if it had been available on Wikimedia Commons"). However, where this is used, space is reserved for the video to play directly on the page (the template defaults to 258px wide, although this may be edited). Using this would break the formatting of the list, and no one has envisioned this.)

About the links as reference[edit]

YouTube is not a reliable source, as anyone can post anything to YouTube. There is no way of knowing if someone has created their own knockoff of an AGVN episode and posted it under a false name. On the other hand: no one has claimed that this has occurred here; also, other sites, which may have moderators or editors, may be more reliable.

Video in general is not a good source as a reference, as it is not available to many users. On the other hand: If the page hosting the video has ancillary information that is a reliable reference, that's different.

Video in general is not a good source as a reference, as it is difficult to search and impossible to print. On the other hand: if the reference is just to prove "this entity exists" rather to support particular quotes and so forth, then this doesn't much matter.

Generally speaking, though, video is not a good source as a reference to support the veracity of article material. It's OK if the intent is "here is some supplemental material which is not core to this article which you may find of use".

Featured list candidacy[edit]

No one brought this up, but I will (I also mentioned it above). An important goal for any article is to be Featured, or at any rate to be of the quality that would allow it to be Featured, or at least Good. As I mentioned above, there is one Featured List (List of Heroes episodes)listed at Wikipedia:Television episodes that includes a internet video, and that list doesn't have internal links to media in the body of the article. I picked a few more lists of media-type material at random from Category:Featured lists. Do they have external links to media in the body of the list? Granting that for many of these it might not be possible for copyright or other technical reasons.

In fact I couldn't find any Featured List that contained any external links in the body of the list. Granted a lot of this is not available. But look at the last one, Madonna videography. These videos are available on YouTube. Granted they are under copyright, but are the AVGN videos not under copyright? They are unless the copyright owner has specifically disowned them. Even if they are under copyright, WP:EL says "Linking to websites that display copyrighted works is acceptable as long as the website has licensed the work". Not sure how YouTube works, but I think that YouTube would have taken down the videos if they were violating Madonna's copyright, and that Madonna has the means to press the issue.

But Madonna videography doesn't contain external links to the videos in the body of the article. (In fact, it doesn't contain links to most of the videos anywhere in the article - there's one external link, which has a few videos along with a lot of exposition.) Is the subject of this list - a list of short videos which are available on the internet - really very much different from this AVGN episode list?

All this leads me to very much doubt that this list could advance to Featured List status unless the external links were scrubbed. Granted, the gatekeepers of Featured Lists may have some idiosyncratic preferences and their word is not law. But we have to give their standards a considerable measure of respect, I think. Herostratus (talk) 07:08, 13 March 2011 (UTC)