Wikipedia:Facts precede opinions
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Facts Precede Opinions states that content accepted by Wikipedians to be factual takes precedence over content that is contended to be opinionated. This is a complement to NPOV.
When there are conflicting viewpoints among editors there are two options on how to proceed:
- Resolve the conflict and represent the resolution as undisputed/factual content.
- Represent both or all significant views fairly, proportionately and without bias. (NPOV)
This policy reminds the editor that where possible, it is better to resolve the conflict and present the undisputed/factual resolution, than to present both/all opinions (attributed to their prominent adherents).
Explanation & example
The dictionary definition of a fact is: 'Knowledge or information based on real occurrences', but for the purpose of editing, until one encounters a conflict one can define a fact as: "A statement that the editor considers to be true".
Thus, if an editor thinks it is true that the sky is blue, that editor can boldly go to SKY and write: 'the sky is blue'.
However, often two or more editors will disagree on what is true because one person's fact conflicts with another person's fact.
This can present itself as an edit dispute over a specific statement (For example, another editor comes along changes "the sky is blue" to "the sky is red", or as a dispute over the way that content is arranged, included, or omitted (the editor omits the statement that "the sky is blue" entirely).
When this happens, none of the editors may assume their statement to be fact, even if they think the opposing statement ludicrous.
For these editors to add their edits to the article they must take one of the following two approaches:
- Resolve the conflict and add the undisputed/factual version to the article.
- Ie. You say the sky is blue and I say the sky is red. The source of the conflict is the time context. Lets agree on the following statement: "The sky is blue during the day, but red at sunset."
- Cite the opinion according to NPOV
- Ie. "According to Bob Blusky the sky is blue, but according to Ron Redsky the sky is red."
Facts precede opinions states that the former approach should take precedence over the latter whenever possible.