Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 40

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Gay Bashing

What is up with people being harrassed on and off wiki for being openly gay? I foresee a lawsuit here unless wikipedia steps in to regulate this behaviour. Plz. note that I'm not trying to violate the "no lawsuits" policy, I'm just ringing the tocsin as it were. Average White Dork (talk) 19:24, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

I'd always had the impression that Wikipedia was a relatively gay-friendly environment; I think we have openly gay editors out of proportion to the general population (of course, pseudonymity probably helps with that; there's no guarantee that these people are "out" in real life). Certainly, gay-bashing is blockable - could you point me to some examples of gay-bashing where the offender hasn't been sanctioned? Sarcasticidealist (talk) 19:27, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Sarcasticidealist - I observe a disproportionate number of open LGBT people in the community and they're all generally welcomed and treated with respect. That doesn't mean that some people aren't intolerant — if you have a specific complaint or incident please point to it so that appropriate action can be taken. Dcoetzee 23:54, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
The "turd burglar" incident, while not directed at any individual was particularly unfortunate. DuncanHill (talk) 00:30, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Short Question

Is there a policy against posting the names of deceased people without consent? This edit seems controversial. --EoL talk 01:19, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

There is no such policy. However, there is a policy against posting those names unless they're cited to reliable sources. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 01:22, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
And without who's consent? The deceased? They don't talk much, you know. And under the law, silence implies consent. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 01:24, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Er, not necessarily - for example, it is possible to consent to assault, but silence is not considered to be such consent. But that would be "off topic". Sarcasticidealist (talk) 01:26, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
This does not have to do with self-defense tactics, it has to do with civil objections, as with the point made by Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons. In fact, the article lists those 3 guys but apparenlty no source confirming those names, so it could just as well be Manny, Moe and Jack. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 01:32, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
I don't think we owe any responsibility to the dead to not reproduce information about them found elsewhere, but I think their names are just irrelevant. Knowing the names of the "three spectators" that were killed in the incident doesn't help us understand the incident, and we have no need to know that those individuals were the victims because they have no other significance here. Their names, ages, and hometowns are dead-end facts. Postdlf (talk) 14:40, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Not necessarily. Someone might like to know, for any number of reasons. However, if the names were just stuck there with no attribution, they could be fake names, or pals of the editor, or who knows what, so they should be deleted on that basis. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 03:25, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Which you already did. I would say you did the right thing for the wrong reason, but whatever. :) Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 03:28, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

"Agree to Disagree" section format?

Is this possible: setting up a section that divides into two columns, with one view in one column, and an opposing view in the other column? There are many areas of science where two hypotheses have equal support. For example, I read in The Economist last week that malaria scientists are strongly divided on a certain issue (which the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation got tangled in).

There could be a poll at the bottom of the section for readers to vote for which view is more convincing. Sometimes the poll might make it clear that one statement has "won" and the losing statement could be removed. But an "agree to disagree" section could be left up indefinetly; I can imagine that many users will enjoy clicking on a list of "Articles With 'Agree to Disagree' Sections," reading the controversies, and voting. I can't wait to give my opinion on controversial subjects I know nothing about! Oh, wait, I already do that whenever I edit Wikipedia. :-)

This would also reduce "wiki-lawyering." Considering Wikipedia's contradictory policies, instead of "wiki-lawyers" citing policies to justify reverting each other's edits, each could have his or her own section, supported by his or her favorite Wikipedia policies.

I heard that this idea was suggested some time in the past, hotly debated, and no agreement could be reached. :-) Was another website built with this feature? I searched the archives but the phrase "agree to disagree" has appeared only twice in Village pump: Policy discussions.--TDKehoe (talk) 20:24, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

I don't know the background of the issue, but it immediately brought to mind Truthiness#Colbert ascribes truthiness to Wikipedia... :) Black Falcon (Talk) 20:54, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

User talk pages guideline

The user talk pages guideline says in one section that removing comments on user talk pages by other editors "without any reason is generally regarded as uncivil", and then in a later section, says, "users may freely remove comments from their own talk pages." I think this could be seen as contradictory and confusing. The guideline should be clarified to resolve the issue one way or another. I have posted a proposal. Please would any interested editors comment over at WT:TPG to keep the discussion with the guideline. Thanks, - Neparis (talk) 00:03, 12 March 2008 (UTC)


Further to another incident in which a school was threatened with violence (currently at AN/I) - here's a proposal from User:Bstone (and myself, I guess!) for a centralised approach to such events, which seem to crop up every few weeks or so... thoughts most welcome. Privatemusings (talk) 03:28, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

I should add in particular, that any pointers which may render this proposal redundant would be particularly welcome - I haven't been able to find any centralised discussion, but that doesn't mean it's not there! thanks - Privatemusings (talk) 03:29, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

Here is the redundancy you are looking for: Wikipedia:Responding to threats of harm. You could merge them. Jehochman Talk 03:38, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Fire. DurovaCharge! 05:13, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Thanks guys - I've posted these links to the new proposal talk page for consideration... Privatemusings (talk) 05:38, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
There are some guidelines to follow first. Threats of violence usually stem from two parties who are in conflict. The key here is to resolve the conflict by being civil. Threats emerge when one party feels that they have been disrespected numbours times. A good essay that needs to be read before acting on this wp can be found on Friday user page. We first need to understand the 'why' before we try to make policy. Thright (talk) 19:07, 12 March 2008 (UTC)thright

Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons#Articles about people notable only for one event

I started an MfD on the above section, but this was speedy closed as being against procedure. The issue is regarding should the One Event section be in BLP, a policy page, or in WP:BIO, a guideline page. Previous discussions: Original Oct 2007 proposal; 2nd discussion; third discussion here and here; latest discussion here. As can be seen, this is a good natured discussion. Nobody is being stubborn or difficult. But few people get involved, and the thing drags on because no wide consensus for having the section IN or NOT IN the policy page can be established. It was suggested that this would be the appropriate arena to generate the wider discussion needed to get some consensus as to what should be done. My own view is that the One Event section is best placed in the guideline as it's a notability issue, and that is how it is worded. SilkTork *What's YOUR point? 16:02, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

Can you point to somewhere specific that the meaning of "one event" is discussed? Some individuals notable only for "one event": Mohamed Atta, Crispus Attucks, Lee Harvey Oswald... Am I missing something? Postdlf (talk) 16:20, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
To which you can add Edmund Hillary, Tenzing Norgay, Robert Peary, Mark David Chapman, and Nick Leeson and others. That is why it is felt that the section is a guideline rather than a policy. There is already a policy statement about such events: Wikipedia:NOT#NEWS, but it then directs people to another policy page (BLP) for the inclusion criteria, which is the purpose of the notability guidelines. Advice on discussions on the notability of a topic is the purpose of the guidelines. As with other notability guidelines, there are consensual requirements which are best discussed in the context of the relevant notability guideline - in this case WP:BIO is the relevant notability guideline. WP:BLP is the policy which should be consulted during the writing of the article, after discussions informed by WP:BIO have decided that the person is notable enough. The section in question is the only part of the BLP policy which advises on inclusion - the rest of the policy page deals with how the article should be written. SilkTork *What's YOUR point? 16:59, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Oh, no. Hillary Clinton said her parents were impressed by Edmund Hillary when he was a beekeeper, so he clearly was notable for more than his climbing ability. -- SEWilco (talk) 17:09, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Notability doesn't have a "one event" restriction, but does note that notability is not temporary (however, whether an event is notable might not be obvious at the time of the event). Related BLP notability issues are being proposed at User:Fritzpoll/Victims of crime guideline. -- SEWilco (talk) 17:13, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
BLP1E is policy, not a guideline. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to place it on a guideline page. How BLP1E is interpreted and applied is a subjective matter, like any of our policies, but that does not mean it is not policy. FCYTravis (talk) 18:48, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
I agree that there are many, many people in history who clearly need to be in the encyclopedia who are notable only for one event (John Wilkes Booth, Brutus, and many more) and hence it seems reasonable to move WP:BLP1E to a guideline since we don't actually behave as if it were a policy and we aren't actually willing to delete the articles we'd need to delete if we took its "policy" status seriously. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 19:08, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
John Wilkes Booth and Brutus are not living persons, last time I checked. BLP1E is policy. Like all of our policies, it is subject to interpretation. and proper application. But that does not change the fact that it is well-established policy. FCYTravis (talk) 19:29, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Ok, but we have many examples who are living who would still meet it such as Charles Manson, Lynette Fromme, and others from the above list such as Mark David Chapman and Nick Leeson. JoshuaZ (talk) 19:34, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Charles Manson is encyclopedic not for one event, but for his involvement in a long series of crimes including serial murder, culminating in his life imprisonment. Had he merely killed one person and made one news cycle, it would be doubtful that he would be encyclopedic. Lynette Fromme was involved both with Manson and with a single event of undisputed encyclopedicity - an attempted assassination of a U.S. president. We also have in-depth, reliable secondary sources available which have chronicled the lives of these people, giving us the encyclopedic context necessary to write a biographical capsule rather than a scandal sheet. FCYTravis (talk) 19:44, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
This seems to be a good example of how what constitutes one event is highly subjective and no one seems to agree on it. In any event, the other examples above such as Chapman are pretty clear cut. Or if you want, I could point to Yigal Amir as another. JoshuaZ (talk) 19:53, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Again, Chapman - he shot and killed one of the most popular music figures, ever. That's "one event" of extreme encyclopedicity. BLP1E does not say we *never* do these things - it says that "Where a person is mentioned by name in a Wikipedia article about a larger subject, but remains of essentially low profile themselves, we should generally avoid having an article on them" and "If reliable sources only cover the person in the context of a particular event, then a separate biography is unlikely to be warranted." These are not hard-and-fast proscriptions. They are rules that establish, in these cases, a rebuttable presumption that we should not have a biography. Like all of our policies, it is subject to interpretation and debate as to where and how it is applied. That does not mean it is not a policy. FCYTravis (talk) 19:58, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
It seems to me a "rebuttable presumption" type situation is just what a guideline is intended for. A policy, on the other hand, is intended for a more clear-cut "always" or "almost always" situation. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 01:48, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Without researching any of the past debates, why can't it be in both? </stupid question> Keeper | 76 | Disclaimer 19:28, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

I would not object to it being stated in both. I vehemently object to any attempt to remove it from the realm of policy. FCYTravis (talk) 19:30, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Can you explain the basis for such opposition? I'm not sure I understand why it should be policy rather than a guideline. JoshuaZ (talk) 19:34, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Do you know the historical context here? The BLP1E policy evolved from the grand Internet memes wars, in which it was finally brought to a consensus that we should not write "biographies" of people like Brian Peppers because we cannot possibly hope to create a balanced, encyclopedic biography of the person; instead, what we get are "this guy was on the Interwebs here, and that made the news here and here, the end."
BLP1E is a bulwark against that ever happening again. It says we should not even attempt to write biographies of people who made one news cycle, then disappeared; because what we end up with is not a biography, but a scandal sheet.
The idea that we not become a scandal sheet for living persons, is an integral and vitally important part of our policy on the biographies of living persons. FCYTravis (talk) 19:43, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm aware of the history; I just don't see why it needs to be a policy matter rather than a general guideline (indeed the fact that we manifestly have many articles about people who are notable for only one event suggests it should be a guideline). Furthermore, Peppers was deleted because our general notability criteria were increased. Today he would be deleted under WP:NOTNEWS or for not really meeting WP:BIO. And frankly, the idea that we need to so strongly prevent having a tiny set of articles that we need to keep this in policy when the statements says merely "reliable sources only cover the person in the context of a particular event, then a separate biography is unlikely to be warranted" which is not very strong language. NOTNEWS does this more than well enough; it isn't at all clear to me why we need anything beyond that and it is certainly unclear why this needs to be policy. And Silk seems to make clear below that there wasn't any real consensus to make this policy anyways. (Personally I don't know whether this should be policy or not, but right now I haven't seen terribly good arguments in either direction). JoshuaZ (talk) 19:53, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
(ec)I've just looked back at the history of this section. It was added in May last year after this discussion. The addition to policy appears to me to be incorrect, as there were more oppose statements than support. The section appears to have been contentious from the start and it looks like it has not had the widespread support of the community which would be required for policy. It appears that the section is there on a policy page because objections have been ignored or reverted and then protected. Policy shouldn't be made up by a handful of Wikipedians on talkpage during a wet Wednesday indoors - especially when there are other Wikipedians who are questioning the proposal. Negotiation and discussion is the way we do things so we can achieve consensus. Forcing through a proposal against consensus appears inappropriate. But there may be more to this than meets the eye. I may be missing some discussion that took place. SilkTork *What's YOUR point? 19:38, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
I think that it is, in general, a bad idea to draft policy on the basis of reactions to extreme circumstances (e.g. a "war" about Internet meme biographies). Policy should be drafted in a way that it takes into account the average article, and not just the best and worst ones. Black Falcon (Talk) 19:54, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
The BLP itself was drafted as a response to the 2005 Seigenthaler incident, in which a very blatant and disgusting libel of a public figure sat on Wikipedia for several months without anyone bothering to check or remove it. This is one case where it was a very, very good idea to draft policy in the wake of a disaster; to prevent that disaster from happening again, as much as we can possibly do so, anyway. It was a wake-up call to this community, that we can and do affect real people in a negative manner when we screw up their biographies. FCYTravis (talk) 20:09, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Right, that's because we realized we had a systematic problem; the existence of unsourced negative content. That's a straight BLP problem, not a BLP-penumbra issue. In general, adopting new policies to handle a small number of articles isn't a very good idea In fact I'd be inclined to sympathize with an argument that people have decided there is a similar general problem with BLP1E issues but that's a pretty hard argument to make since that's inherently a BLP-penumbra issue about reliably sourced content that is frequently easily googlable even aside from Wikipedia. JoshuaZ (talk) 20:12, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Last I checked, we, as an encyclopedia, hold to higher standards than "it is easily googlable." If we ever decide not to have those higher standards... well, that's where I and a lot of other people will get off the train. FCYTravis (talk) 20:17, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Given the circumstances surrounding BLP1E's creation and the frequent controversy regarding its interpretation, what exactly is wrong about stating that it is "a generally accepted standard that editors should follow, though it should be treated with common sense and the occasional exception"? Black Falcon (Talk) 20:22, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
(edit conflict with Falcon's remark above) Missing the point and not responding to most of the details; why do we care about BLP-penumbra issues? The entire logic is that we want to be careful not to add harm to people. Now, if content is already in reliable sources which one can obtain by a matter of seconds then the argument that having the content is harmful is pretty weak. Indeed, as I've argued elsewhere, having an NPOV description can actually help matters if most of the other descriptions are salacious or unflattering. So once the BLP-penumbra issue is weak, we need to use our general attitudes about content as to whether or not to include something. Indeed, we have a simple method for telling if someone is harmed; they can email OTRS or such. Once the content is reliably sourced there's not much more we can or should do. Sure, if someone says "this is the top google hit for my name, and it hurts me" there is a possible argument for changing matters so that it emphasizes an event rather than the person. Although even there, in the vast majority of cases, any details about an event that is relevant will be the most hurtful elements; so BLP1E can potentially make things worse rather than better than subjects. This is in general a very complicated issues. Let's not think that there's is some overarching harm issue at play here that having these articles is automatically harmful. JoshuaZ (talk) 20:26, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

The "one event" criteria doesn't even have anything to do with Peppers, whose asserted notability was entirely based on internet documentation and comment upon his disfigurement and medical condition, not upon his criminal conviction. That, like all memes, is not an "event," so "one event" doesn't capture such problematic articles at all. And as demonstrated above, plenty of articles about which there is no dispute for inclusion are in fact about individuals notable for only one event (no matter how "extremely encyclopedic" such events may be). In other words, the "one event" criteria is simply too poorly targeted towards any real problem to function as anything more than a guideline. It covers too many valid articles and leaves out invalid or borderline ones. Postdlf (talk) 20:23, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

  • The issue about BLP1E is that, even for people famous for one event, there exists reliable biographical material on those people outside of that event. If a person becomes famous for a single event, and then, as a result of that event, reliable extensive biographies are done of the person some time later, then there is extensive source material about the person. There is a difference between that and a person whose ONLY extensive coverage is the direct press coverage of the event itself. Essentially, once a person has been covered in a reliable source as a person of their own right, BLP1E no longer applies. However, if ALL of the coverage of a person is part of the coverage of the event, and that only, THAT is the type of coverage that BLP1E is meant to stop. If a person makes the news for a single event, and then receives no further coverage beyond that event, then BLP1E applies... If the single event leads to coverage of that person's life outside of the event BLP1E does not apply. 20:50, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
    • If no reliable source has any information on an individual beyond their involvement in a particular event, then obviously their coverage in Wikipedia could extend no further. So how does this go beyond WP:RS, and why should it? Postdlf (talk) 20:58, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
  • The problem is when someone is famous only for incident X, as with Crystal Gail Mangum. In such cases there is a clear presumption per WP:BLP that we cover the event, if it is truly notable, rather than the person. Most of the news stories on people who fall under WP:BLP1E (and it is almost exclusively news stories that are used as sources here) are about an event, not an individual. There is rarely any biographical coverage after the event, and none which is separate form the event, so rather than hang their necks about with a millstone of a Wikipedia entrye purporting to be a biography but in fact being solely a record of something they might rather forget, we have WP:BLP1E, as an application of common decency. I don't think it's a problem. Of course, some of the news events themselves turn out not to be especially notable other than as examples of tabloid sensationalism, per WP:TABLOID; we have a sister project for news stories so we don't need to cover news stories of no lasting cultural or historical significance. Guy (Help!) 22:39, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
    • I'm not sure why it matters that much, in terms of WP:BLP or Mangum's own interests, whether Mangum's employment history as an escort is documented under the article title "2006 Duke University lacrosse case" (as it is currently) or "Crystal Gail Mangum." Otherwise it's just a matter of editorial judgment as to whether a subject is substantial enough in its own right to merit an article or is just an element of another topic, which isn't a concern specific to people, living or not. Postdlf (talk) 23:12, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
  • I strongly agree With FCYTRavis at 19:43, 11 March: It says we should not even attempt to write biographies of people who made one news cycle, then disappeared; because what we end up with is not a biography, but a scandal sheet. The idea that we not become a scandal sheet for living persons, is an integral and vitally important part of our policy on the biographies of living persons. And also: How BLP1E is interpreted and applied is a subjective matter, like any of our policies, but that does not mean it is not policy. (18:48, 11 March). It's an important principle -- so important that it should be part of a policy, not a guideline. It's written with enough flexibility for the occasional Oswald or Sirhan Sirhan. The policy also works with WP:NOT#NEWS in that we want articles only on people known for such important single events that they're recognized not just by news cycles but by historians. This also means we can get enough information for a full-fledged biography article. I will admit that there are plenty of AfDs where the majority, and then the closing admins, ignore policy without saying so. Noroton (talk) 00:58, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Note that in WP:BLP the subsection is part of the "Presumption in favor of privacy" section. It fits in well there because many of the parts reinforce the parts around them: WP:NPF for instance fits in well with this section. And there is such a strong tendency among Wikipedians to want to make ill-considered exceptions to this policy that we should keep it within the stronger strictures of a policy page rather than a guideline page. Noroton (talk) 01:05, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Inconsistency is a problem we have throughout Wikipedia. It is an inevitable consequence of our decentralized structure. The Spitzer example is a bit different because a) so far it fits fine in his article and b) the names there haven't been widely discussed nor are they that relevant. If the Spitzer matter becomes larger we can always split that off to Elliot Spitzer prostitution scandal. These things often need to take time to settle down. JoshuaZ (talk) 02:48, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Actually, the Eliot Spitzer article is 100K long and the software flag recommends splitting it, and the redirect was proposed when the "article" was two sentences, with two references. That section in the Spitzer article is now seven paragraphs, plus a three-paragraph quote from Spitzer and 22 different references, which qualifies as enough to justify a separate article. You were strongly in favor of retaining both the Iseman article and the McCain lobbyist controversy article, but wish to merge the Spitzer article. I hate to give the appearance of failure to assume good faith, but why are they different? You state that the names of the women are not widely discussed, but I found one after about three seconds of searching; you say they are not relevant, but insisted that Iseman's name was relevant. Horologium (talk) 03:04, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Ok, a few things; first, the Iseman name showed up in a lot more sources than the names connected to Spitzer and the old standby test for Iseman passes; we have enough info to write a decent biography of her. That isn't true in the cases you suggest. I also was not (and am still not) against a possible merge to of the Iseman article to the main controversy page there. Oh, and if it is already that long, yeah the Spitzer one should be clearly split off. I didn't realize it was that long. JoshuaZ (talk) 03:14, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
  • This looks to me like one of those futile arguments based on applying absolutes to a situation which does not permit of an absolutist approach. Should we really can WP:BLP1E just because one biography sits at the margins between biography and event? I would think not. As it happens, I don't think Iseman's biography is ever going to be anything other than a coatrack, but maybe we will see some coverage in respect of something else one day. And if not, then we can revisit the issue after the election when people with deep-seated desires to keep or exclude the article as serving or damaging a political agenda, will have departed for the latest cause du jour. Guy (Help!) 14:36, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
    • This is not about removing the advice contained within WP:BLP1E, it's about whether that advice should be in the form of policy or guideline. That there has been a dispute about it being policy from the very beginning, and that there is no clear consensus emerging here leads me to feel that - despite individuals feeling strongly that they would like it to be policy - it should remain in BIO but be removed from BLP. People are using its position on a policy page as a trump card to bypass discussion. Indeed, this current discussion arose because some people had been using the WP:BLP1E shortcut as a trump card and were dismayed to find that the shortcut directed to a "mere" guideline. The point when one can rise above negotiation and discussion by using Wiki shorthand is when that shorthand is based on well established consensus. Until that time one has to keep using rational explanation and reasoned debate to get one's point across. It's tougher, but fairer that way, because then one isn't using fake currency, and the negotiations lead to the pure reduced gold of genuine currency. I see no evidence for consensus for One Event to be policy. There seems to be enough said in Wikipedia:NOT#NEWS, with these key sentences: "Even when an event is notable, individuals involved in it may not be. Unless news coverage of an individual goes beyond the context of a single event, our coverage of that individual should be limited to the article about that event, in proportion to their importance to the overall topic." That seems fair enough to me. While "Cover the event, not the person." in WP:BLP1E is a rallying call with no sense of perspective. The crusading charge of that call is unpleasant and rather than being in bold, it should be removed. It is not reflective and doesn't encourage consideration of the individual situation. It reads like there is a certain distaste to having articles on people in the news. Well, if we are covering the event, then we are already covering the people involved in the event - judgment on the point at which a break out article is justified needs more assistance than a cry to not do it! I like the advice given at WP:BIO1E, less bombast, and more guidance. SilkTork *What's YOUR point? 16:34, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Notability (criminal acts) proposed guideline.

Per discussion above, and further discussion in my user space, a proposed guideline has been posted at User:Fritzpoll/Notability (criminal acts) in an effort to achieve wider community consensus through debate and editing on the associated talk page. I am hopeful that the outcome of this will be useful guidance in the creation and administration of articles that have proven so contentious at AfD debates. Fritzpoll (talk) 16:54, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

I'm loathe to suggest expanding any of the sprawling notability subguidelines. However, if such a topic truly needs additional clarification, why not simply propose an additional section to WP:BIO instead of creating yet-another-notability-guideline? Vassyana (talk) 17:05, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
That's an option, in which case the above can just be a discussion on the content of that additional section. Fritzpoll (talk) 17:18, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Administrators has been marked as a policy

Wikipedia:Administrators (edit | talk | history | links | watch | logs) has recently been edited to mark it as a policy. This is an automated notice of the change (more information). -- VeblenBot (talk) 18:51, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Wiki spirit

This line which appeared in the 2002 policy guidelines page has been dropped. "Our goal with Wikipedia is to create a free encyclopedia--indeed, the largest encyclopedia in history, both in terms of breadth and in terms of depth. We also want Wikipedia to become a reliable resource." I believe it should be re-added to reflect the goals of this project. WP should be reflected on goals and social norms, and thus this line is needed.Thright (talk) 18:54, 12 March 2008 (UTC)thright

Must newspapers cite their sources to be a reliable source?

Does a newspaper have to cite its sources in order for the article to be a reliable source? Specifically, on the Russian presidential election, 2008, references to a Guardian article criticial of the election's fairness has been removed twice ([1], [2]) on the grounds that no sources were supplied. Could someone please advise on WP policy? Thanks Pgr94 (talk) 12:06, 4 March 2008 (UTC)

  • Regarding reliability of the source, the answer is no. The Guardian is a highly respected publication, and sourcing to that is sufficient. From reliable sources: Material from mainstream news organizations is welcomed, particularly the high-quality end of the market, such as the The Washington Post, The Times of London, and The Associated Press. When citing opinion pieces in newspapers and magazines, in-text attribution should be used if the material is contentious. When adding contentious biographical material about living persons that relies upon news organizations, only material from high-quality news organizations should be used. The Guardian should fit the bill. Often newspaper editors and journalists protect the identity of sources, and if the reason for this is justified, then that does not make the source unreliable in the Wikipedia sense. The demands for cited source do not cascade down past the source we cite. Sjakkalle (Check!) 13:10, 4 March 2008 (UTC)
In this case there's absolutely no justification since the excised passage plainly depicts this is an accusation made by the Guardian and does not state it as an absolute fact. Mangoe (talk) 14:56, 4 March 2008 (UTC)
As far as general reliability of sources (no comment on the specific isuse in dispute), one could argue that the newspaper's sources would have to cite their sources. And so on. The buck has to stop somewhere. "Reliable sources" are the places Wikipedia is willing to let it stop. High-quality news organizations are generally considered reliable sources, and especially so for matters of current politics and opinion about political matters. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 20:05, 4 March 2008 (UTC)

Yes, Guardian would not need to name its sources 'if it was accusing of those things itself, but it is not. The accusations are not made by Guardian, it is quoting the accusations of "independent sources", which it does not name. It claims those accusations are "according to independent sources", which it does not name. I point out the New York Times John McCain lobbyist controversy, which was furiously criticized because of its use of annonymous sources.--Miyokan (talk) 02:25, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

For what it's worth, I don't believe news agencies or news media should be considered reliable sources at all. Their primary function is to create original research, and the number of times even the "Respectable" news sources have been demonstrated to lie, cheat, misunderstand or misrepresent should make us wary of using any assertion from them that is not backed by a reliable source. And, in case you're wondering, I'm not talking about "vast evil conspiracies by the MMS to suppress The Truth", but the combination of sheer incompetence, editorial pressures, and ultimate objective (sell papers) means that accuracy is, at best, a secondary concern.

In particular "science" journalism is often so twisted and deformed that it's not usually possible to even guess at what the actual science was. — Coren (talk) 17:41, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

That newspapers publish original research is not a problem. WP:OR bans editors from publishing original research on wikipedia. It does not ban editors from reporting original research done elsewhere. Dsmdgold (talk) 13:51, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Our job is to find good sources of WP:OR and report that. Our job is not to be a source of WP:OR or a place to publish WP:OR. If there is a doubt about something from a newspaper or magazine, we just state where the information came from, so that it is clear it did not come from us and what authority we are relying on. Newspapers and magazines, particularly the high end like Wall Street Journal and New York Times and Sacramento Bee and the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Times of London and the Washington Post, have a reputation to protect, and legal exposure as well, so this makes them a bit more reliable than the run of the mill blog or other source. This does not mean they do not make mistakes; even peer-reviewed journals make mistakes. However, they do have some standards that they demand for inclusion of material, and will print retractions if they find out they made a mistake. --Filll (talk) 14:06, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Policy about articles of murder victims

I've been heavily involved in an AfD about an article on a recent murder victim, and the problem is that although I favour deletion on the basis that the victim is notable only for being murdered, the argument of others is essentially that there is significant media coverage, and this doesn't seem to be an invalid argument. The problem is that this seems to be a regular occurrence at AfD, and there is no fixed consensus that I can locate on the following issues:

  1. Should such articles be immediately introduced into Wikipedia, or should time elapse to ensure notability of the murder? Is the initial press coverage sufficient as a source?
  2. If they should be included, how should they be titled? If only notable for the murder, should it be "Murder of XXX", "Media coverage of the murder of XXX", or is it alright just to use the name of the victim?
  3. If they shouldn't be included, then what policy justifies that?

I have several answers, including ones backed by what I think are appropriate policies that I have mentioned at the current AfD, but I wondered if anyone thought that some sort of specific consensus about this issue should be sought, as proposed by Joseph A. Spadaro at the AfD in question? Fritzpoll (talk) 10:52, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

In my opinion, the recording of an event of an illegal killing of any kind, of which there are thousands every day, rests only upon the notability of the event. A more interesting question to me is how to label the entry. Should it be with the name of the killer, which is the more usual, or the victim, or maybe somebody else? A very interesting case, which I recently wrote up, is the case of baby Zachary Turner. He was the victim, and knowing that it would get written up sooner or later, I didn't want to see it identified in any other way. JohnClarknew (talk) 16:43, 9 March 2008 (UTC)
I'd love to see such a policy, but given how the AfD's tend to go, you will never achieve consensus on one. As I very often state in such deletion debates: "newsworthy is not noteworthy". Wikinews exists for such stories. The problem, as I see it, is that Wikipedia is reflecting the same systemic bias that we see in the major news outlets, specifically the overcoverage of stories related to Missing white woman syndrome. There are very few murders/deaths/disappearances like that of Robert Latimer, where you can definitively state that a single murderer or victim is notable for being a murderer or victim. Resolute 17:03, 9 March 2008 (UTC)
I'd prefer if the names of the killers can be avoided, to reduce any reward of such behavior. But that's a psychological issue and not a documentary one. Another issue is that an early accusation can be wrong. As for victim articles and recentism, I'd suggest that such articles be considered for deletion after sufficient time elapses to give an opportunity for notability to be established. This would be a separate consideration from other reasons for deletion. Six months? A year? -- SEWilco (talk) 18:40, 9 March 2008 (UTC)\
That's backwards, actually. Notability must exist before the article is created. To give an article on a murder victim x time to prove notability only opens the door to every band and wannabe to say "well, I might be notable in six months, so let's see what happens." WP:CRYSTAL exists to prevent this. If any of these murder victims do become notable as a result of dying, the article can be recreated 6-12 months down the line. Resolute 03:04, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
How did you know from Day 1 that Natalie Holloway is notable? How do you even know it now? Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 14:15, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
The AFD debates usually (always?) mention WP:NOTNEWS, etc. Well, Wikinews IS news. The obvious policy is a speedy transfer to Wikinews then a redirect to the Wikinews article. The article would still be easily accessible by WP readers or editors. Maybe someone could semi-automate the process. Sbowers3 (talk) 19:42, 9 March 2008 (UTC)
Unfortunately, articles can't be transferred from Wikipedia to Wikinews (without the agreement of all the authors) because the two projects use conflicting copyright licences. Iain99Balderdash and piffle 19:57, 9 March 2008 (UTC)
  1. Should such articles be immediately introduced into Wikipedia, or should time elapse to ensure notability of the murder? Is the initial press coverage sufficient as a source? - Wikinews is for coverage of breaking or recent news. Wikipeida is an encyclopedia, and as such we need to take a long term approach to events. We need to discuss their significance (such as did the murder lead to new legislation) and end result. I strongly feel that time needs to pass after most events before we discuss them, just so we can know what the significance of the event is. I am also warry of initial press reports. They are often inaccurate or speculative, and will not reflect subsequent information.
  2. If they should be included, how should they be titled? If only notable for the murder, should it be "Murder of XXX", "Media coverage of the murder of XXX", or is it alright just to use the name of the victim? This is another reason to wait before writing an article. Article's should be entitled by the most common name for an event... and it can take time for a consensus to develop as to what that most common name is. But, if we must write an article before such a consensus is achieved, Naming would depend on what exactly is covered in article... is it a biographical article of the victim, that goes beyond just the murder? Is it a bio of the murderer? Or is it just about the murder? If the latter, I would suggest "Murder of (Victim's Name).
  3. If they shouldn't be included, then what policy justifies that? WP:NOT. Specifically: Wikipedia:NOT#Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information, point 5 - "News reports. Wikipedia considers the historical notability of persons and events."
The problem is that Wikinews is fairly new... a lot of people don't know about it. If more people knew that this was a more appropriate venue for current and recent event reporting, we would have less problems along this line. We should support our sister project... and encourage people who want to write about current and recent events to contribute to Wikinews. Blueboar (talk) 19:53, 9 March 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps we should do more to invite people to contribute to Wikinews. Some places where we might do this are:
  • WP:YFA - where we tell them what not to write about. We could include breaking news and a link to Wikinews.
  • When a search fails and we tell them they can create the page, we might have "Create a Wikinews story".
  • In the "Before creating an article" message box above the editing box for a new article, we could link to Wikinews.
  • At the Help desk, etc. we could tell people about WP:NOT#NEWS and provide a link to Wikinews.
Do you think these or any others are worth doing? Sbowers3 (talk) 22:12, 9 March 2008 (UTC)
I personally think that this is a good idea, but people involved in these debates insist that it is included in Wikipedia, and, not unreasonably, want to know why not? A "notability" argument then breaks out with both sides saying "oh yes she is" or "oh no she isn't". I think your solution stems some of the original problem, but it won't necessarily answer the problem of policy tug-of-war when they inevitably are AfD'd - Fritzpoll (talk) 08:26, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
What's throwing me a little is that we have some inconsistency. A lot of the debates are ending no consensus, but some are ending in delete, such as the British murder victim Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Gary Newlove. What has been pointed out to me is that the same debates are taking place over and over again: look at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Eve Carson and Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Lauren Burk. I know it might be tough, but I think that some consensus needs to be formed so that we don't end up locked in the same debates over and over again. I'm not sure what the procedure for doing this would be, but perhaps a draft policy that we can RfC? Fritzpoll (talk) 08:26, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

The deletionists are primarily making policy and guideline arguments, which is theoretically fair. The problem is that these so-called guidelines are not being applied uniformly. When I bring up the presence of Natalie Holloway, who if anything was less notable than Eve Carson prior to her disappearance, I hear deflecting arguments that amount to "that's different". No. The only difference is that Holloway is such a media-driven story that if there wasn't an article here it would make wikipedia look stupid(er). The argument about "wikipedia is not 'news'" is also fallacious. Today's news is tomorrow's history. The argument that it can be created or recreated in 6 months is also an exclusionary diversion tactic, and is inefficient. It's easier to get the sources right now than to look for them in 6 months. The better way is to allow the article to take its course, provided it's written even-handedly and is properly sourced (as the Carson article seems to be) and then review it later when the dust has settled. Maybe there could be some kind of automatic review after some specified time, perhaps 6 months (since that's the figure that keeps getting mentioned) to determine if the story is still "notable", i.e. if it still "has legs", which is the only reason I can think of for justifying the Holloway article's existence. Someone said that consensus is unlikely. I don't agree. The deletionists are arguing guidelines. So the guidelines need to be changed, and then there should be consensus. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 09:34, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

Indeed - neither side seems certain. The problem is that policy suggests that waiting for a subject to become notable is unacceptable. It may be that a consensus can be forged to exclude articles of this type from this requirement (albeit temporarily, as you suggest) but this will require a policy discussion of the kind I propose. Certainly, the current AfD battles indicate there is a great deal of uncertainty on this issue. As to your bringing up Holloway, I have mostly seen people arguing against you (including myself) on the grounds that another article of a similar type existing isn't much of an argument at AfD. Still, these are all discussions that can be avoided if we can forge a coherent consensus. - Fritzpoll (talk) 11:17, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
Maybe I should propose deletion of the Holloway article, on all the grounds cited on the Carson page, and see what happens? Even though I don't agree with deleting it, it would at least push the issue. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 12:12, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
Aside from that, another idea comes to mind, which I think has been posed in the Carson AFD page - to have an article called "Murder of Eve Carson", on the grounds that the event is noteable due to coverage. The problem is, no one is going to come to wikipedia and look for an article by that name. So "Eve Carson" would simply redirect to "Murder of Eve Carson", and it would essentially be the same article. It could also be referenced from the UNC page, but simply putting a paragraph about it there and leaving at that, as someone suggested, is not sufficient to cover the info. What do you think of that concept in this case, and as a standard in general? That would also address the Holloway issue - rename the article to "Disappearance of Natalie Holloway" and have "Natalie Holloway" redirect to it. Seems like that could satisfy most of the concerns. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 12:20, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
That's sort of what I was driving at with my second question. I think that it might be harder to argue against non-notability when the article is clearly about an event rather than a person. Some of the biographical information would, however, have to be rewritten/removed as it would suddenly be inappropriate for the article it was in. Personally, I would find articles titled in such a way, tagged with a {{currentevent}} tag easier to include. With the inclusion, perhaps of sections covering the intensity of the media coverage, these would probably be of encyclopaedic value - if developed as a gudieline, however, we would have to be careful to stress the intensity of the media coverage. Perhaps we could write a proposal for a guideline, RfC it and see what happens so that we can avoid the pointless rehashing of arguments going on at these AfDs? I'm happy to draft something out in my userspace to get some opinions... Fritzpoll (talk) 12:46, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
What info would you exclude from the Holloway and Carson articles? Note that I'm now treating them the same, as no one has provided any explanation as to why they shouldn't be. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 13:07, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
You see, I actually went and read the Holloway article to see how to answer your question (I really meant "might need to be changed" - just wasn't very clear!) and spotted a difference immediately: the Holloway article doesn't have an entire section devoted to who she was, what she did while she was alive or anything, except where it directly informs the event. This is in contrast to the Carson article, which spends the majority of the article talking about the life an memorial of the victim, and not about the event which is notable. I'm going to post a version of this up at the AfD, because I think it's where some of the confusion is being generated - everyone is arguing at cross purposes - Fritzpoll (talk) 14:16, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

I am laying the bare-bones of a guideline at User:Fritzpoll/Victims_of_crime_guideline, and welcome any edits and discussion on the associated talk page. - Fritzpoll (talk) 17:37, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

  • I find it very interesting that this debate continues to rage. I have been involved with several articles relating to the Virginia Tech Massacre and have seen this debate over and over again. Jocelyne Couture-Nowak was nominated for AfD 6 times (1 2 3 4 5 6), as well as 3 deletion reviews (1 2 3). The consensus that seemed to be reached in regard to the other victims was this: professor = notable, student = non-notable. (I can't off-hand find all the discussions for the AfDs for the various victims, but that is how it has turned out: list of victims). One specific example that I can recall, though, was Emily Hilscher, the first victim who also received considerable press coverage. It was decided to merge her information (which was pared down quite substantially as you can see) into the victim list page. The event itself was considered the notable aspect, not the victims. I fall on the side of exclusion because I feel that so many of these articles amount to nothing more than just an obituary. In fact, the "secondary sources" that many point to in establishing notability are nothing more than glorified obituaries themselves. This creates a basis for establishing notability based on trivial coverage by these sources. Rooot (talk) 19:51, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

This is an interesting issue. Sometimes I have seen articles about a one-time criminal which ended up being moved so that they were about the victim instead. An example is the article about Cameron Hooker, which was moved to Colleen Stan. Note the discussion at Talk:Colleen_Stan. Obuibo Mbstpo (talk) 01:11, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

For what it's worth, I remember there being a big AFD debate for Jessie Davis --- that resonated with these same issues. (Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 04:52, 11 March 2008 (UTC))
On a semi-related note there was also Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Julie Birch about the murderer in a nn murder case. That didn't get as heated because it wasn't in the news now, but it was the same sort of issue, and currently Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Murder of Jana Shearer is a bit tangled. I think this is getting to be a longer running issue with general untimely deaths and does it make the person notable if they weren't already per WP:BIO or the relevant sub guideline. Examples: Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Keeley Dorsey (3rd nomination) (a nom-admitted pointy nom, but one that raised a valid point of the lack of consistency) and stemmed from Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Mickey Renaud (2nd nomination) which went round and round in circles before it closed as delete. I don't know what the 'answer' is to any of this, but they're sure not to be quite discussions. TRAVELLINGCARIMy storyTell me yours 11:55, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

In 2007 in the talk page of the essay (once a proposed guideline) WP:NOTNEWS, I kept up a pretty complete listing of AFD results for articles based on news stories, including a number of murder cases. This essay was an attempt to delineate the difference between the news judgement of newspaper and TV editors, who seek to maximize newspaper sales or TV viewership, and that of encyclopedia editors. This study, covering mid May through mid-September can be seen at Wikipedia talk:News articles#AFDs for news stories(May 10-September 19, 2007). A policy should take into consideration the actual consensus from such AFDs, as well as the opinions of a few editors who wish to stamp their views into policy or guideline form via talkpage discussions. Some murders, kidnappings, or disappearances were deleted and some were kept. All received multiple substantial coverage in reliable and independent sources and thus technically satisfied WP:N. A non-notable crime victim such as Natalee Holloway or Madeleine McCann can gain so much worldwide attention over so long a time that the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann or Natalee Holloway have not just the splash of coverage that every murder or kidnapping gets, but enduring coverage of every twist and turn in the case investigation. To avoid having either memorial articles or biographical articles of persons with no real prominence, it has been argued in AFDs and article talk pages that it is preferrable these articles be titled "Disappearance of,," or "Murder of .." Clear exceptions to this idea are the Holloway article as well as Joseph Force Crater about the disappearance of Judge Crater in 1930, long the most famous missing man in America. If a murder or kidnapping had no real effect on society (such as the "Amber Law" or other laws named for victims) and did not get the continuing non-stop coverage of the Holloway or McCann cases, then its article was very likely to be deleted, even if there were a number of citations for a shocking crime. Shocking crimes, per se, are clearly newsworthy, but not, per the AFD results, automatically encyclopedic. An encyclopedia is not a newspaper. Edison (talk) 03:47, 14 March 2008 (UTC)