User talk:Ravpapa/The Politicization of Wikipedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Ravpapa, I was clearly impressed and déjà vu’d(?), as this [1] will attest. More importantly, this follow-on [2] (link in particular) pretty much brings it full circle. We should talk. Regards, CasualObserver'48 (talk) 06:20, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Great reading[edit]


I just discovered your user page articles and they make a great reading. I've been contributing for several years to Wikipedia on Israeli-related topics, but took a long break recently. Nowadays I make only minor contributions, mostly on the animal rights front. But you seem to take the politicization issue seriously, which I appreciate.

Thanks, -- Gabi S. (talk) 14:34, 11 December 2008 (UTC)

A dispute which may interest you?[edit]

Ravpapa, you might in the context of your 'modest proposal' be interest in looking here. Best regards, --Smerus (talk) 10:19, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

Yes, here we have another pointless, contentless article, which exists just to add to the list. My only comment is that the repetition of the allegations against Conrad Black could be a BLP violation, and potentially actionable. But I am not familiar enough with the story to make a judgment call on that.

Thanks, for pointing it out. --Ravpapa (talk) 13:57, 30 December 2008 (UTC)


I try to avoid Israel-Palestine articles because I've always imagined they would be the absolute worst of the POV war-zones. But your points apply to all kinds of areas. Wikipedia is just not designed to cope with this kind of "hot topic". One thing I've never understood with articles on recent history - and current news, especially - is that we are allowed to throw out Wikipedia's policies forbidding original research (especially the rule against "synthesis") when writing them. Nobody would get away with writing an article on a World War One battle by patching together information from contemporary newspaper reports, but apparently this does not apply to the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict. The chances of the latter being accurate or neutral seem remote to me.

Your comments about the needless proliferation of articles on minor subjects to promote "the Cause" are spot on. The endless series of "Allegations of Apartheid in Country X" pages was a good example of this. Coatrack articles are a similar phenomenon. Often a POV-pusher writes an article on a book (usually of marginal notability) which gives a one-sided or polemical view of a "hot topic". They tend merely to summarise the contents of the book with no critical commentary, thus effectively creating an editorial which evades our policies against soapboxing.

I certainly wouldn't recommend "content forking" within Wikipedia. I'd actually go further and tell the people who want an "exclusively Israeli" or "exclusively Palestinian" view to found their own wikis on the model of Conservapedia.

Just some brief comments. Maybe more later. Cheers. --Folantin (talk) 17:44, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

POV, presentation and fact[edit]

It seems to me that the problem goes far beyond issues with battle ground articles. Moreover, it is seldom a case of one side spinning the facts, and the other telling the truth. Every editor who is in some way invested with the issue of an article, with something a stake, is spinning the facts to make themselves look as good as possible, and the other side(s) look as bad as possible. WP editors do that -- consciously or not -- because all people do that. It is human nature, and is sometimes designated as the Rashomon effect.

I have been involved in the editing of a number of articles touching on Israel/Palestine issues. In my view, perhaps the most important change that WP could make is a strengthening of WP:civil, to a comparable level with 3RR. Editors seldom get blocked for incivility, but it is at least is disruptive as 3RR, and I think it is often more disruptive. It is my observation that aggressive incivility is used in attempts to drive away opposing editors; and those editors who are the more gentle souls, or who are less invested in the issues, usually do leave. That leaves the most determined spin doctors to edit the article; which, in turn, reduces the chances for an article that is NPOV. That is certainly WP:disruptive. Malcolm Schosha (talk) 15:30, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

You are certainly right that the editing process, especially in battleground articles, tends to attract the extremists and repel the compromisers. It is an issue I hadn't thought of - thank you.
And, on this opportunity, I want to respond to Folantin's concern about content forking. My suggestion is not to create a content fork; the essence of a content fork is the creation of a separate, competing article, with a different title in order to give it an excuse for being, but covering essentially the same material as its competitor. My suggestion is to present the two versions of the article in the same article space and force them to cover exactly the same material. That is, the rules of editing would require that, if one side includes a sourced statement, the other side must also include it. The difference between the two articles would only be one of presentation, not of content. The objective would be to eventually merge the two versions, something which might be possible because of the unity of content (might be, but probably not always). This is kind of the opposite of a content fork. --Ravpapa (talk) 18:04, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
I don't believe that more work is necessary, as this is already what happens to some extent. In a good Wikipedia article, each presented fact must be supported by a reliable source, and I don't believe that there will be too much disagreement between these sources. It is also possible to present statements and opinions from other sources, but the source of these statements should be clearly marked, and it is usually not difficult to determine the bias of these sources, if present. cojoco (talk) 12:36, 13 January 2009 (UTC)
We need to be ultra-careful about suggestions such as that of Malcolm Schosha. They pander to wiki-lawyering and, inevitably, the victory of bad editing over good editing. The major problem in articles (that I'm familiar with, anyway) is the disruptive removal of good information (not always easy to positively identify) and the disruptive insertion of bad information (much easier to identify). Anything sourced to pressure groups in favor of Israel seems almost inevitably bad - I'd be happy to name and shame any group critical of Israel that similarly falsifies and incites hatred. PRtalk 15:51, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
It is difficult to understand how improving standards of WP:civility enforcement would cause lose of article content that is WP:reliable. In fact there seems reason to expect the opposite result, because a larger number of editors will feel then comfortable editing disputed articles. I think that seems a likely outcome, and there is nothing good that could be lost to WP by increasing standards of civility. Certainly, I never thought of civility as danger to WP. Malcolm Schosha (talk) 16:34, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Essay Question[edit]

I enjoyed reading your essay, but I had one question:

You mentioned how there is a growing conflict between Pro-Palestinian and Pro-Israel editors, and one of the ways you examine that battle is through the implementation of "Vulture words." While you point out that the Israeli's are winning the war by 1 article, you failed to account # of hits or popularity of each individual article. If you were to combine that with your essay, you would learn that the Pro-Palestinians have a far greater lead. There is away of determining the hits of each individual article, but a general way is to simply examine the talk section. Israel and the Apartheid Analogy is probably one of the biggest and most popular pro-Palestinian article, definitely surpassing the competition in terms of hits. I think the essay would also benefit on the levels of bias. While there are some pro-Israel articles that are clearly lacking in NPOV, putting them in the same league as pro-Palestinian is rather ignorant. Israel and the apartheid analogy is a bloated propaganda piece, recognized by many and even commented on some well-known non-wikipedians. I have yet to find a comparable pro-Israel article. But, my opinion might prevent me from recognizing such an article.  ; ) Anyways, thought I'd let you know my biased opinion. Overall, very well-written essay and if there are any updates I'll be sure to check them out. Cheers! Wikifan12345 (talk) 22:37, 5 February 2009 (UTC)

Thank you for your comments. The same thought occured to me a couple of weeks ago, and I did a bit of checking. My impression is that most of these articles with hate words in the titles (Passover massacre, Israel and the apartheid analogy, and so on, are pretty lightly trafficked. Compare Israel and the apartheid analogy (4538 hits in January) with Chamber music (an article I wrote - 13687 hits). --Ravpapa (talk) 06:38, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
I meant in comparison to Pro-Israel articles not Chamber music lol. How do you calculate hits? Wikifan12345 (talk) 08:13, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
ON the history page there is a link to "View page statistics". --Ravpapa (talk) 14:39, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

Phil Burnstein's comments[edit]

I think this is a fabulous idea, but I have a few reservations.
  • Each side must include all the references included by the other side: One of the basic tools in POV is choosing reliable references that support your side. Unfortunately, most reliable references will contradict each other. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are both reliable sources, but in reporting a particular incident they may be completely contradictory. (In fact todays paper may contradict yesterdays paper!) Suppose the NYT story says that my side is correct, and the WSJ says that the other side is correct, I will say that the WSJ got the facts wrong, or they were improperly slanted, or the reporter was biased, etc. etc. Neither side will impugn the reliability of the papers.
  • You are assuming that both sides will deal with the facts with intellectual honesty. This is rare when the two sides are advocating contradictory ideas. Each side assumes that they are correct and that the other side is wrong.
  • Most facts in the Palestinian Israeli debate are irreconcileable.

I propose an even modester? proposal. I propose that a subpage of the Palestine Israel collaberation be set aside for ranting about subjects with contradictory POVs. I agree with most of your proposal. Each side can only be edited by advocates of that side. Each side has to meet WP standards. etc. I do not want this rant to be in article space because I want each side to be able to advocate without worrying about NPOV and NOR. What I would suggest that each side of an issue be limited to 100 words or less. (I personaly would prefer 50 or less, but cest la vie. It would look something like this:

Israel Palestine Noncollaberation
List of possible topics

--Phil burnstein (talk) 16:20, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

Sorry, got to LOL. Of course you don't want the word "massacre" used about Deir Yassin. But it was one. Both sides know it was. Israeli paramilitaries murdered 250 villagers (another LOL at the notion that "scholars" have revised the figures: Benny Morris is a reactionary who favours transfer for fuck's sake! and has made a career out of largely apologising for early Israeli expansionism and Uri Milstein, omfg, you'd never accept someone on the "other side" for a source as unhinged as he is). This is the problem, right here. You want to rewrite history. Your side nibbles away at the truth, piece by piece, by changing the meaning of words, slicing away events and recasting them, reinforcing yourselves by citing and reciting the same bullshit over and over. Meanwhile, the villagers who were "depopulated" remain dead. I mean, it just is what it is. You might not want it called a "massacre" but the villagers were massacred all the same. You are left quibbling over what a word means, while the plain fact of it remains. This quibbling over terminology to try to mask what it is led to the borderline insane insistence that we not call the Occupied Territories the Occupied Territories. Everyone in the world, bar Likudniks, calls them that. So okay, we might note that Israel disputes the terminology, but the fact is that that is what the world calls them. Do you see? It's neutral to use the name the world uses and to note the dissent. It's not anything like neutral to refuse the name because one faction dissents.

As for the article on Durrah, it's somewhat biased. It suffers from one of the great problems here. Every time some fact adverse to the expansionist cause is stated about Israel/Palestine, a pro-Zionist will come along and mitigate it. So at Deir Yassin, the village was massacred. But hey, Benny Morris says there were only 150 dead, not 250, so we stick that in the lead. Its due weight would be a note in the text, but try making it that! But Durrah is at least a story where the facts are somewhat in dispute. Mostly, they aren't.

And of course you think Durrah is a neutral presentation of the facts! It's biased your way. But that's how it works. It's why I think Sarah's suggestion is bad. We have actually to agree on what would be a neutral presentation. It's the only way it could conceivably be done. You can't get someone to arbitrate, no matter how "uninvolved". Grace Note (talk) 01:05, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

BTW, the Fallows article in the Atlantic is very good. Would that we had approached the quality of that! Grace Note (talk) 01:13, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

grace note , this goes both ways. if you want to use the terminology imposed by hamas and it's world wide supporters why wouldn't we begin to refer to the palestinians as a provincial gang rather than a nation? Shiftadot (talk) 16:09, 30 January 2010 (UTC) if you think you know the facts you can always present everyone with your evidence. Shiftadot (talk) 16:09, 30 January 2010 (UTC)


Say hello to C.A. Russell, Mr. Ravpapa. :))--andreasegde (talk) 09:23, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Equal weight to both sides demands the following[edit]

1. determining who is in each side and who is neutral , this means determining who are the US and the EU and the UN in the conflict , neutrals , sided parties , middle lined , fluctuating or whatever. there is a heap of sources for UN anti-Israel bias for that matter , the US is precieved to be pro israel by virtue of ... being the most pro-israel party involved outside israel. 2.Well inside of each side of the conflict unless it's very well unified and held together there are disputes . politics can't be categorized on a single axis and I'm not sure even if issues other than yes/no votes which might as well be 'projections' of interest. you wouldn't trust the israeli left to represent zionism even if they claim to(so can't use certain terminologies quickly yet again)or whatever status hamas has. as you can see this might get down to the individual opinion grain with no effective end.

so determining the parties and who is included in them for a good article is the hard way through it. but the whole concept of "facts were presented in way X to make people believe Y" is not neutral but rather evening the truth value of all parties. I think we really have to bear the expansion of controversial articles "upwards" from the pressure and then see others deflate and get concise.

as for political neutrality , I don't really think it's possible , you could accurately document the facts and the thoughts of everyone in a resolution such that would theoretically be perfect. or just strike some consensus with editors and administrators to prevent bans and edit wars for a while , the other way around is thinking a good hierarchy of notability for things such as conflicts and a standard template of presenting the facts for a given resolution , yet again an imperfect solution. maybe a rigid one . but it could be imposed on sets of articles to get better quality of them. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Shiftadot (talkcontribs) 16:02, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

Great Article[edit]

Nice article, Ravpapa. --BenJonson (talk) 12:13, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

Thanks. --Ravpapa (talk) 06:51, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

"equal platforms to opposing camps" ?[edit]

The problem with the proposal is that it assumes that there are two opposing camps, and that each should be given equal weight. Both assumptions are questionable: first as Shiftadot writes, on most issues there isn't a clear division into two sides, and second, for most issues it is silly to give each side equal weight: Evolution/Creation? Astrology/Astronomy? Psychiatry/Scientology? Turks/Armenians? UN/Soviets/Nazis? Finally, just the idea of assigning editors to a "side" will tend to give more weight to the radicals, who will now have defined allies, and less to the moderates, who will not. What we do now is try to be uninvolved editors. This is a fiction, but like the search for truth, a very useful fiction. We may never get there, but we will get a lot farther than if we don't try. --GRuban (talk) 16:43, 5 January 2011 (UTC)


Did you know this is actually used in Wikinfo and Knowino? Peter jackson (talk) 11:34, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

No, I didn't know. I looked and couldn't find it. Can you give a link? Tnx,--Ravpapa (talk) 11:46, 1 February 2012 (UTC)
Never mind, I found it. Thanks. Interested in finding out how well it works. --Ravpapa (talk) 11:52, 1 February 2012 (UTC)