User:Yukichigai/Viewpoints and Arguments

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Hazard X.svg This is not an essay. It is also not a policy or guideline. It expresses the opinions and ideas of one Wikipedian and may or may not have wide support, but it's easier to just post the link below rather than make the same points over and over again. Feel free to quote this non-essay as needed, but please use my discussion page to propose major changes.

This is where I put some of my opinions, ideas, viewpoints, and arguments I have made or adopted on (mostly) various Wikipedia-related topics. Many of these are my opinions with regards to discussions which seem to crop up frequently, usually in relation to interpretations of policy and guidelines. If I linked to this page in the course of a talk page discussion, AfD, or similar, just scroll down the page a bit until you find the section that most closely relates to what you were screaming at me about.

Original Research: Collection of Information[edit]

I've heard a number of arguments that, in essence, boil down to the assumption that the mere act of collecting information from multiple sources is the same as synthesis of information with an implied/explicit conclusion, and thus counts as Original Research. I've already opened up a discussion of the matter on the WP:NOR talk page, but let me just reiterate a few points:

  • A collection of information is what Wikipedia is. If the simple fact that an article (or section of an article) uses more than one source to compile a more complete and detailed offering of information makes that section Original Research, then round about 99% of Wikipedia falls into that category.
  • A "synthesis" violation of WP:NOR requires an implied or explicitly stated conclusion. As per the policy's example text, Original Research comes into play when an editor takes sources A and B, then uses them to state (or imply) something along the lines of, "because A and B, we get C." Even then, as long as C can be properly sourced it meets WP:NOR.

Fair Use: Images in Lists/Multiple Images in Articles[edit]

I'm hardly alone in arguing over this, but there are some issues being raised of the use of multiple Fair Use images in articles, particularly lists of episodes or lists of characters. This comes down to arguments over two of the numbered points in WP:FUC: #3 and #8.

WP:FUC #3[edit]

From the policy text: "(a) Minimal usage. As few non-free content uses as possible are included in each article and in Wikipedia as a whole. Multiple items are not used if one will suffice; one is used only if necessary.
(b) Minimal extent of use. An entire work is not used if a portion will suffice. Low- rather than high-resolution/fidelity/sample length is used (especially where the original could be used for piracy)."

First and foremost, this is not a carte blanche justification to delete every Fair Use image on Wikipedia, regardless of recent changes made to WP:FUC due to the March 23rd, 2007 Wikimedia Foundation Licensing policy resolution. The resolution does "clamp down" on things a bit, but had the Foundation wanted all Fair Use images removed from Wikipedia they would have said so quite clearly.

If we're talking about minor, one-time, or throw-away charcters/etc. then there's little justification for using a Fair Use image to help describe such a marginal aspect of the larger work. (much less devoting a section to something that trivial) If the section's subject is relatively important or recurs then we're on firmer ground.

Another important consideration is whether or not there is one image which can accomplish the task of many. In many cases important subjects (main characters, etc.) will be shown/drawn/rendered together by the originating work such that they are all (or mostly) identifiable. In such instances it is recommended (if not required) that the "group shot" be used; not only will it cut down on the number of Fair Use images in an article, (good) it will also make the image in question that much more "bulletproof" against removal since it identifies not one but several important (or semi-important) aspects of a larger work. (better)

It should be noted that the above specifically excludes "montage" images; just because you've combined several images into one file doesn't mean they aren't still separate images as far as copyrights are concerned.

WP:FUC #8[edit]

From the policy text: "Significance. Non-free content is used only if its presence would significantly increase readers' understanding of the topic, and its omission would be detrimental to that understanding."

This is one of the more hotly contested sections of WP:FUC, or rather the effect it has is contested. You can find discussions of the matter here and here, for starters. The conflict about this part of WP:FUC is centered around the use of the term "significantly;" does identification of a section topic count as a "significant" contribution?

This is where we get into one of those "well, it depends" situations. Consideration must be given to how important the visual representation of the subject is; if a simple text description can adequately convey how a subject looks or appears then the image is likely unnecessary, but for more complex or visually confusing subjects a picture may not only improve the article dramatically, it may be necessary to understanding the text. What determines whether or not a text description is "adequate" is, of course, something that must be evaluated for each use.

It's also worth pointing out that it has been farily well established that using images for unadorned lists (such as an episode "grid") is not okay. Fair Use images are meant to support article content, not replace it.

Verifiability: Citing the Primary Source[edit]

I'm all for making sure that articles on Wikipedia meet the requirements of verifiability, but some editors seem to think that WP:V requires some things that, well, it just doesn't. The most common of these is concerning sources and the citation thereof, specifically primary sources, usually relating to works of fiction. Rather than trying to explain in my own words, let me borrow the words of a fellow editor (and a recurring, usually oppositional participant in many of the arguments I get into):

In the absence of a secondary source, we use a primary source for uncontroversial claims about the subject. Such primary sources can't establish importance, but they can be used for simple, uncontroversial claims in the absence of any alternative secondary source.

What some editors forget is that for works of fiction the work itself is the primary source. There is nothing at all wrong with using it as a source, and in most cases it can be directly inferred that an assertation about plot, characters, or other specifics which bears no overt citation (e.g. <ref> tags) is sourced from the work itself. For groups of fictional work such as television shows it is still recommended (if not required) that the specific episode be cited in some way; however, statements like, "in episode X, character Y lost their leg," qualify as a form of citation.

Regardless of the use of primary sources in articles about works of fiction, every article still requires some form of secondary or tertiary source to establish the notability of the subject overall. After all, as WP:V states: "[i]f no reliable, third-party sources can be found for an article topic, Wikipedia should not have an article on it."

Notability and Verifiability: Sexual Terms and Related Articles[edit]

I have noticed that articles about sexual terms, sexual practices, and other such articles seem to be increasingly vulnerable to proposed deletion and Articles for Deletion nominations. Sometimes the article survives, and sometimes it doesn't. The latter mostly occurs due to failure (preceived or real) to meet verifiability and notability requirements.

The issue with sex-related articles, WP:N, and WP:V is that the number of reliable and easy to find secondary and even primary sources is limited by the subject's very nature. To put it another way, you would not expect to find an article on the term felching (or even an article using that term) in The New York Times, to say nothing of less secular or more conservative sources and publications. It is for that reason (and common sense) that sex-related articles should be evaluated with a slightly more forgiving standard with regards to WP:N and also, to a lesser extent, WP:RS when relating to issues of verifiability. This is not to say that articles are in any way exempt from the requirements of those three documents; rather, the numbers and standards one would apply to an article about, say, a type of car cannot be applied verbatim to an article about a sexual practice. (Or to paraphrase, we're dealing with apples and oranges here, folks)

Notability of Articles[edit]

Notability is possibly the most common reason why sex-related articles are targeted for deletion. The problem arises when editors assume that if one of these articles lacks multiple, easily citeable mainstream sources that it is not notable. In most cases a handful sources from a mainstream source are all one can reasonably expect for a sexual subject, even less as the term or topic becomes more explicit. The BDSM term bottom has been used in numerous episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and other shows, but (again) the term felching has only been used in one show that I am aware of; both are suitable for inclusion in Wikipedia. Evaluations of WP:N must be done on a sliding scale with regards to relative vulgarity and explicitness, though at no level of either is an article exempt from the requirements of WP:N.

Verifiability and Reliable Sources[edit]

Verifiability is less often directly cited; usually it is a combination of WP:V and issues about reliable sources that is argued. Many cited sources are disqualified due to their explicit, "underground", or otherwise non-mainstream nature, which supposedly makes them unsuitable via WP:RS. While this is not always wrong, it is not always right either. Sources for sex-related articles should be evaluated primarily on the origin of their content. If the source is a blog, forum, or other such primarily user-driven content source, then it is highly likely that it is unsuitable for establishing valid information. However, if it is a static publication, author-driven website, work of fiction, even a pornographic film, then the reliability is likely suitable (though perhaps barely) for use in the article.

Notability: Lists and Other "Sub-Articles"[edit]

From time to time the notability of an article may be called into question. Usually it is a simple matter of providing sources which properly establish that the subject of an article is noteworthy enough for inclusion in Wikipedia. However, notability assertions for "List of..." articles are not necessarily established in the same fashion. To quote a relevant notability criteria guideline:

Minor characters (and places, concepts, etc.) in a work of fiction should be merged with short descriptions into a "List of characters." This list should reside in the article relating to the work itself, unless it becomes long, in which case a separate article for the list is good practice.

Though this is specifically about those articles (and list articles) which discuss works of fiction, many "list" articles are created for the same reason: inclusion of the information in the "main" article would make that article far too long, would disrupt the flow of the article, and other such primarily aesthetic considerations. In these cases notability of the "list" article overall is asserted by the "main" article; if the "main" article is notable, then the "list" article is notable.

Notability of the individual pieces of information within the "list" article must also be considered, however. If a piece of information would provide a significant or useful purpose were the list placed inside the "main" article (with no consideration given to issues of article length, etc. in this hypothetical situation) then it is suitable for inclusion in the "list" article, and otherwise should be removed. If sufficient amounts of information are removed from the "list" article it may then be appropriate to reintegrate it with the "main" article, but the size of a list does not constitute its notability or warrant its deletion; if moving a "list" subsection to its own article serves to make the "main" article better then that alone is justification for the continued existence of the "list" article irrespective of its size, issues with the information itself notwithstanding.