Wikipedia:Good article reassessment/Picts/1

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Picts[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Article (edit | visual edit | history) · Article talk (edit | history) · WatchWatch article reassessment page • GAN review not found
Result: delisted The rationale for delisting provided by Efraimkeller appears to be correct. No-one has stepped forward to address the noted problems so I am closing this as a delist. Jezhotwells (talk) 01:34, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

This article fails to meet the first two GA criteria.

1a. Many sentences are unclear and wordy. Passive voice is used throughout, either unnecessarily or to gloss over the lack of a clear source. ("...had previously been described as...", "said to have been", "thought to be..." "have been used to argue the existence of..."). Other examples:

INTRODUCTION

"There is an association with the distribution of brochs, place names beginning 'Pit-', for instance Pitlochry, and Pictish stones." Vague. What association? And what is being associated with this distribution? A region or a time period? And how?

"...had been subsumed ... amalgamation" -- passive voice; also subsumption and almagamation (subsume/amalgamate) are redundant.

"Archaeology gives some impression of the society of the Picts." What impression? How? The next sentences are about written history, so the issue of archaeology is left dangling.

HISTORY
"The means by which...although there is speculation that" There are many examples, like this, of unnecessarily wordy constructions.
"The change from Pictland to Alba may not have been noticeable at first; indeed, as we do not know the Pictish name for their land, it may not have been a change at all"
Noticeable by whom? And why does it matter whether name-changes are noticeable if they might not even be a change? Many sentences like this that add nothing to the substance of the article, as the lack of knowledge of Pictish names has already been established.

KINGS and KINGDOMS

"The early history of Pictland is unclear. In later periods multiple kings existed, ruling over separate kingdoms, with one king, sometimes two, more or less dominating their lesser neighbours." What are examples of "two kings" "more or less dominating"? And what are "lesser neighbours" in this context, if we are talking about "separate kingdoms"? Separate Pictish kingdoms or Picts separate from kingdoms of another kind? And why does that matter if the word "Pict" is applied from outside, and perceived (esp. in later eras) to be blurred with Gaels? The late history of Pictland is also unclear, as the article itself attests. If little is known about how kings and kingdoms were divided, or passed from one to the other, why is there a section called "Kings and kingdoms?" Again, nothing of substance is being said here.

The examples above are just a few; other paragraphs in the article contain similar problems in abundance.

2a & b. Factual accuracy / verifiability: there are some mismatches between statements and the sources cited in support of those statements. For example, the Woolf Conversions does not demonstrate that the kingdom of Fortriu was "centered around Moray." Adomnán's "Life of Columba" is not a text that presents academic evidence, though the text of the article cites that source regarding evidence of "a Pictish kingdom...existed in Orkney." (And again, what does it mean to be a Pictish kingdom far from the Pictish homeland, if the Picts didn't call themselves Picts and their distinctions from their neighbors are unclear?)

"the evidence of place names suggests a wide area of Ionan influence in Pictland"
-- the source cited here contains the place names which the author takes to be evidence, but does not lay out an argument of that kind. The author uses etymology and place-name to "suggest" or "speculate" on a number of issues, but does not represent any authority on geographic linguistics or ancient languages in order to show that speculation is warranted from any expert perspective.

The Talk page for this article shows numerous concerns about verifiability voiced by other readers. Some of these concerns may be resolved, but for now the article leaves many readers feeling less than confident.

2c. The article seems to contain original research.

Statements like "Although the popular impression of the Picts may be one of an obscure, mysterious people, this is far from being the case" (INTRODUCTION) are left un-cited, so there is a strong impression of didactism stemming from the author's opinion.

"the evidence of place names suggests a wide area of Ionan influence in Pictland"
-- the source cited here contains the place names which the author takes to be evidence, but does not lay out an argument of that kind. The author uses etymology and place-name to "suggest" or "speculate" on a number of issues, but does not represent any authority on geographic linguistics or ancient languages in order to show that speculation is warranted from any expert perspective.

In the secton RELIGION: "The importance of monastic centres in Pictland was not, perhaps, as great as in Ireland." "The cult of Saints was, as throughout Christian lands, of great importance in later Pictland." The author cites sources that offer speculation and detail about religion, but none of them offers the comparative views of "importance" that this article ventures.

The section on ART has very few citations; the citations in LANGUAGE are disputed handily on the talk page.

Efraimkeller (talk) 17:19, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

  • Comment Re. Fortriu in Morayshire, the Woolf article cited (Dun Nechtain, Fortriu and the Geography of the Picts Scottish Historical Review 2006 85(2):182-201) deals with this in great depth. This appears to have been accepted by others in the field (see for example Fraser, Caledonia to Pictland p50). Catfish Jim and the soapdish 19:59, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment 2 Re the introduction... this section should conform to Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section. It should summarize material from the main body of text and referencing should thus be unnecessary. The association between place names and Pictish stones is geographical... this should perhaps be clarified. Catfish Jim and the soapdish 20:45, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment 3 Re the Language section: This section summarizes current academic consensus fairly accurately. There have been several competing hypotheses regarding the Pictish language:
1. It was a Germanic language and the ancestor of the Scots language.
2. It was a Q-Celtic language related to Gaelic.
3. It was a P-Celtic language related to Welsh, Gaulish, Cumbric and the Brythonic British Language.
4. It was a pre-Indoeuropean language.
Of these, "1" has only ever been a fringe theory and was rejected by the 19th century. "2" was the favoured hypothesis of William Forbes Skene. This was popular for a while as it discounted an Irish origin for Scottish Gaelic, but has been limited to a minority view since the late 19th century. "3" was first suggested in the 16th century and while it competed with "2" to some extent during the 19th century, it has been the leading Celtic hypothesis since the early 20th century. The evidence for "4" has been a series of inscriptions in Ogham script that are found on certain pictish artifacts, mostly the symbol stones. These have long been dismissed as unintelligible. However, more recent work has interpreted several of them as Q and P-Celtic. This is covered in Katherine Forsyth's Language in Pictland. Today, virtually all historians in the field regard the pre-Indoeuropean language hypothesis to be untenable. The current view is that it was a P-Celtic language that was partially gaelicized through contact with Dalraidan Scots. Some tidying of the text may be in order, but there is no original research here, nor can the sources presented in this section be regarded as unreliable. Catfish Jim and the soapdish 09:35, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment 4. The charge that Simon Taylor's 35 page Seventh-century Iona abbots in Scottish place-names (in Broun & Clancy (eds.), Spes Scotorum: Hope of Scots. Saint Columba, Iona and the Scotland. T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1999.) "does not represent any authority on geographic linguistics or ancient languages in order to show that speculation is warranted from any expert perspective." seems, well, more than a little odd. Are you suggesting we reject information that is reliably sourced and which represents current, mainstream academic consensus as "original research" because you don't like the way the source was written? Catfish Jim and the soapdish 11:31, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment 5 With regard to GA criterion 1a, an article has to be "well-written" in a clear and concise form as per Wikipedia:Manual of Style. Passive voice is considered acceptable. The standards of prose being demanded by Efraimkeller are considerably higher than those routinely asked for at GA. Catfish Jim and the soapdish 09:13, 10 May 2012 (UTC)

I have not had time to give this a proper look, but my initial impression that the shortcomings of the article are somewhat exaggerated and that even if the original GA was achieved in an era prior to our current obsession with in-line citations it should not take much effort to sort it out. For example " the popular impression of the Picts may be one of an obscure, mysterious people" is indeed uncited but as the subject is addressed on page 1 of Tim Clarkson's 2008 The Picts: A History we might reasonably assume it's not a very controversial statement. The talk page does show "numerous concerns about verifiability" but no few of them seem to be about fringe theories regarding the language, which seems to be less controversial in academic circles. I am far from being an expert but I will give it a further look when I can. Ben MacDui 19:28, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

From EfraimKeller:, I'm new to wikipedia, so I accept the possibility that I'm applying the wrong standard. But this article struck me as a hack job; highly evasive and fanciful. I urge a deeper look at this. To convey my problems with the article more succinctly, I will just say that the article is slick, wordy, and presents the idea that something might be known, more than it presents any knowledge. It seems to have been written by someone with fantasies of ancient peoples, and a desire to cobble together vague research in order to present a picture isn't actually supported. The worst examples of this is the constant obsession with nomenclature for obscure categories of Celtic peoples, that, by the author's own admission, are mixtures of fiction and vagueness.

Comment 4. Catfish Jim asked: "Are you suggesting we reject information that is reliably sourced and which represents current, mainstream academic consensus as "original research" because you don't like the way the source was written?" NO. I'm suggesting that citations can not support a claim unless the cited source reports authoritative research on a claim. For example, if you argue that baboon populations diverged into two subspecies due to an ecological niche, you need a source which *presents* research on that topic, not just a source that *mentions* research on that topic.

Comment 5. My comment about passive voice was not merely a complaint about passive voice, but specifically, the *use* of passive voice "to gloss over the lack of a clear source."

Sorry if I'm wasting anyone's time... Efraimkeller (talk) 11:37, 27 May 2012 (UTC)

Not at all mate, your right to comment is just as good as anyone else's. Try to remember to sign your posts using four tildes(~). Jezhotwells (talk) 21:50, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Have the original nominator, reviewer and primary contributors been notified? Jezhotwells (talk) 21:56, 25 May 2012 (UTC)


The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.