Wikipedia talk:Biographies of living persons/Archive 15

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Aren't we done?

Currently the policy page addresses the EL issue in two sentences, as follows:

  • In the writing style subsection: External links must be of high quality and in full compliance with Wikipedia's external links guidelines
  • In the Reliable sources section: Material about living persons available solely on partisan websites should be handled with caution, and, if derogatory, should not be used at all. These sites should also not be included as external links in BLPs.

I would argue that these two sentences encompass all the issues related to ELs in BLPs. Can we archive the discussion now? We do not need any other specific limitations for ELs on BLPs. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 20:03, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

Yes, we should be done. Discussions of what other terms mean or other policies or guidelines should do are not needed or proper here (although the endless repetitive comments go on and on and on below...) 2005 23:47, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
I am happy with that wording and would very much like to be done. Wikidemo 20:14, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
At random the wording of the second sentance would ban this so no it isn't acceptable.Geni 20:42, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
That's fine per the proposed wording, I think - FBI isn't partisan and the material is not "solely available" there. Not sure why you'd want to link to that though. Any other random examples? Wikidemo —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wikidemo (talkcontribs) 21:15, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
The FBI are a fervent supporter and proponent of the idea that OLB is a criminal rather than a hero. How partisan do you want?Geni 21:32, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
Scroll up to previous section: #"Material available solely on partisan websites" (1.13); I pointed to similar lack of definition problems pertaining to "partisan" as to "obscure" in "obscure newspapers" (which never reached "wide consensus" but was deleted anyway--and I point that out as someone who questioned it in the first place). "Solely" calls for doing "original research", which violates WP:NOR. WP:BLP language needs to be crystal clear; some of it is still not crystal clear and it leads to contention (as above). --NYScholar 21:44, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
[Please note: after the archiving the sections that I refer to in my own comments are now in archived talk pages. Sorry for the inconvenience, but they are located in the tables of contents for each of the talk archives. Thanks. --NYScholar 22:36, 2 September 2007 (UTC)]

Re: the question "Aren't we done?": Consensus is an ongoing process in Wikipedia: see Wikipedia:Consensus; "we" few people who have been debating these matters are not the final arbiters of them. Changes to policy project pages are not supposed to be made this way (in the process of editing wars). Please see the statement about that on project pages for policies. Proposals for altering (changing) policies have a procedure in Wikipedia. This talk page has generally ignored that; I have pointed it out, linked to procedure, but that has been ignored. I have tried to confine my comments to the talk pages and except for very minor edits since August 12, I have not been participating in edit warring over the language of this project page; I have just been discussing it. That is what a talk page is for. Please read the previous discussion by me and others so that one can see what is at issue and what is not at issue about WP:BLP#Reliable sources and WP:BLP as it pertains to WP:EL. Thank you. --NYScholar 21:50, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

I have added "and the rest of this policy" as it appears to be necessary to this recent revision of the policy. It is not a redundancy. It is a reminder to consult the whole policy when contemplating adding or deleting material about living persons to or from Wikipedia. (sorry forgot sign.) --NYScholar 22:06, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
Sure. A bit redundant, but I do not think that is big deal. As for "partisan websites" and the FBI ... well, I think that the analogy is is a stretch. Everybody has a POV, but when we speak of "partisan" or "obscure" sources, it is obvious what we mean. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:43, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
"Partisan" may be apparent,but "obscure" is not, as can be seen from the many debates over the term on this page. If "obscure" is part of the policy it should be defined. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 23:01, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
Agreed that calling FBI partisan is a stretch. Partisan means favoring one significant viewpoint on an issue over others, and it's relative to the subject being discussed (what's partisan in respect of a religious fixture is different than what's partisan in respect of a politician). Something is not partisan for ignoring fringe elements (e.g. terrorist supporters). I'm deleting the "and the rest of this policy" because it appears to be ongoing agenda-pushing to equate external links with sources and make the inclusion rules identical. If it's redundant the comment is unnecessary. If not redundant, the comment lacks support. Wikidemo 04:57, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
See previous discussion in #Current problems in WP:EL pertaining to WP:BLP (and WP:V), which, for me, is a crux of the contradiction between what used to be WP:BLP#Reliable sources (with the phrase "including as an external link") and WP:EL. Referring people to WP:EL does not solve this problem if that item #4 in WP:EL's "links to be considered" countervails WP:V, which is linked as a core policy to follow in both WP:EL and WP:BLP. People don't just "consider" such links and then accept or reject them after consulting WP:BLP and WP:V; they toss them in indiscriminately, leading to vast problems in biographies of living persons and in "material about living persons" in other Wikipedia space (in my observation over the past at least two years). --NYScholar 23:36, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
Put another way, I am saying that "WP:EL#Links to be considered item #4: 'Sites which fail to meet criteria for reliable sources yet still contain information about the subject of the article from knowledgeable sources.'" does not permit such sites to be included in biographies of living persons as "external links" or in "material about living persons" in Wikipedia space otherwise; that is how I understood the spirit and letter of "including as an external link" (originally added by, I think, SlimVirgin (SV), as cited throughout). That is also the context pertaining to both "obscure newspapers" and "partisan websites"--as both relate to "material about living persons" both in biographies of living persons and in other Wikipedia space. But, it appears still, one needs a clearcut reference for the definition of both "obscure" and "partisan" (or "highly partisan"--suggested earlier by Wikidemo); these are subjective terms; their meaning tends to vary with the point of view of the reader (Wikipedia user/editor), and that is problematic and is leading to contention (over and over again). --NYScholar 23:42, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
Re: User Noroton's objection to the "partisan websites" phrase: please see his/her comment in #"Material available solely on partisan websites" above. --NYScholar 00:11, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
Should I have put my previous comments elsewhere on this page? I've tried to read everything relevant on this page about the points I commented on, but I have to say I'm confused as to where to comment. I get the impression, someone correct me if I'm wrong, that, as of the point of the time stamp on my comment, "obscure newspapers" is neither on the page now, nor is there a consensus to put it there. That's the way I like it. Count me as completely opposed to including that language. If it's already buried by consensus and my comments are useless, then let me just dance on its grave. <dance>Stomp, stomp, stomp.</dance>Noroton 00:43, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
Actually, I thought your comment was in a proper place; I just didn't think everyone else may have noticed it (given the disc. about "partisan"). As I read the comments concerning "obscure", there are pro and con opinions about it; my own viewpoint on "obscure" is con; since there are more than one subsection of this talk page discussing it, some of the pros and cons are spread out. Thanks for trying to follow this discussion.  :) --NYScholar 01:07, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
Given the still-divided viewpoints on "obscure", Jossi added it back in most recently. "Partisan websites" is still in the language of the project page as well. There does not yet seem to be "wide consensus" on removing that sentence or on how to revise it otherwise. Since "wide consensus" requires development over an extended period of time generally, I don't think it's yet clear what "wide consensus" is and changing it does not seem the thing to do; at least that's how I understand Jossi's restoring the "original" (pre-Aug. 12) language in the sentence. --NYScholar 01:12, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. Now, if I want to make further comments on the "obscure newspapers" language, would this be a bad spot or should I go back up, or should I go back up and leave a note down here saying I've made a comment back up there that I'd like people to see? This isn't a wise-acre comment, funny as it sounds. I seriously wonder where I should commment. Please advise Noroton 01:15, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm probably not the best person to ask for such advice about commenting on this talk page! That said, I would, however, suggest that you might want to add your "pro" or "con" position to the place where most people have been doing that (briefly) and explain your position in whichever section people are already raising issues that you want to discuss. Alternatively, to the latter, you could perhaps add "Obscure newspapers" as a new section heading as well below this comment for longer comment, I would suggest as well. Or, as you say, leave a brief note below and just cross-link to the section(s) where you place your comments about it (as I did a few times bec. I thought the other people's earlier comments might not be noticed by newcomers). I am logging out due to over-tiredness and need to take a break from Wikipedia editing and to turn back to other things. --NYScholar 01:24, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
Jossi's proposed text works for me. -- Ned Scott 02:45, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

Responding to Will's comment above, I would say that "obscure newspapers" is a judgment that editors can easily make, and that they can discuss with other editors on specific cases if that "obscurity" is challenged. We could attempt to find a different distinction, but I have been unable to come up with a better one. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 03:03, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

If we can't agree on a definition here, it probably isn't the right word. Here's a set of dictionary definitions for "obscure" (adj):
1. Deficient in light; dark.
2.a. So faintly perceptible as to lack clear delineation; indistinct. See synonyms at dark.
2.b. Indistinctly heard; faint.
2.c. Linguistics. Having the reduced, neutral sound represented by schwa (ə).
3.a. Far from centers of human population: an obscure village.
3.b. Out of sight; hidden: an obscure retreat.
4. Not readily noticed or seen; inconspicuous: an obscure flaw.
5. Of undistinguished or humble station or reputation: an obscure poet; an obscure family.
6. Not clearly understood or expressed; ambiguous or vague:
The only one of these definitions that would seem a good reason to exlude a source is the last. Unless anyone disagress, I suggest we change "obscure" to "ambiguous or vague". Or is there some other meaning of "obscure" that applies? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 03:42, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
That is not the meaning I take from it. #5 is the closest and most relevant. - Crockspot 04:02, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
I don't think we'd want to say that "humble" media sources are automatically unreliable. There are many instances above of well-run small newspapers. Perhaps we mean by "obscure" those sources which have so little reputation, good or bad, that their reliablity is hard to gauge? "Unknown reliability" is a problem but mostly for sources. For one thing, it's hard to tell by looking at a website whether a newspaper is a an old and trusted large circulation paper or a brand new scandal rag with little circulation. It's even hard to tell what's a newspaper versus a "webzine". Howevre by adding a criteria like this we're saying that links must affirmatively be reliable, not just presumptively so. That if we can't determine a site's reliability we must delete it. That is a very high threshold, suitable for sources but not for mere external links. We already ban large swaths of sites, such as forums, fansites, commercial links, blogs (with exceptions), etc. If we ban links of of unknown reliability that will enormously increase the scope for disputes about acceptable external links. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 04:35, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
I think we're working backwards by starting with the word and trying to get to the definition. Exactly which newspapers are we trying to exclude? If we figure it out we can choose the best word for it, and if there's no word for it we can use a phrase. The dictionary definition above isn't a good one. Obscure is used in he sense of a newspaper being relatively unknown and hard to find, out of sight, something you have to hunt to find. I don't think that's the right word to use unless we say that obscure is relative to the subject matter, i.e. if the subject of the biography is a fisherman from the backwoods of Vermont, a Vermont fishing paper is not considered obscure with respect to him...but a business journal from Lincoln, Nebraska is. Conversely, if the article is about a Lincoln, Nebraska banker the Lincoln business paper is fine but the Vermont fishing paper is not. But isn't partisanship a bigger issue here too? Also, why single out newspapers for a special rule? I'm not arguing any position here, just trying to clarify some thoughts. Wikidemo 04:57, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

(unindent) 1. Someone please tell me if this is NOT correct: The intent behind the "obscure newspapers" inclusion is an effort to create a higher standard of reliable sources than we have at WP:Reliable sources.

2. If so, why is the "reliable source" standard not enough? I'm sorry if this has been covered before (just point me to the spot and I'll read it). If the intent is merely to ensure that sources of negative information for living persons are reliable, we don't need to duplicate the standard we already have. Is there some incident we don't want repeated that this policy discussion stemmed from?

3. Jossi says (03:03) "obscure newspapers" is a judgment that editors can easily make, but Wikidemo in the post just above brings up points and examples that describe some of the predictable arguments. It seems to me it would be better for future editors to be arguing over the reliability of the source rather than its obscurity.

4. Wikipedia editors from the U.S. and perhaps elsewhere I think can agree with this description: In the vast, vast majority of small dailies and weeklies, anything seriously wrong with a report gets corrected, usually within a short time. If the report is on an important enough subject, the information is often published correctly in some other periodical, often a competing one, although a newspaper will seldom actually state that even a competitor was wrong (they might say "contrary to reports"). Errors are certainly made in small publications, especially in small dailies and weeklies, but they do strive to get it right, editors work with reporters to get it right, and they correct themselves. Even if this doesn't apply in other countries, it still seems more productive that editors argue the reliability of a particular source rather than disallow whole categories of sources, even about negative information.

5. BLP policy, I think, has three motivations: to simply be fair and accurate, to avoid libel suits, and to avoid embarassing Wikipedia. This applies to all established newspapers, large and small, obscure and not obscure. They want the same things and can generally be relied upon to provide them. Noroton 17:18, 2 September 2007 (UTC) (slight addition Noroton 17:20, 2 September 2007 (UTC))

Earlier (now in archive 14) I had suggested that both "partisan websites" and "obscure newspapers" seemed to relate to unreliable and unverifiable sites/sources; I agree with Noroton (above and in archive 14 comments) that what seems intended is to cite only "reliable and verifiable" websites and newspapers as sources of "material about living persons" in Wikipedia. Given that linking is possible to Wikipedia:Verifiability; cf. Wikipedia:Reliable sources via WP:Attribution. E.g., Editors need to "attribute" "material about living persons" to "reliable and verifiable" sources and websites. By definition, if a particular "partisan website" is not both "reliable and verifiable" as a source of information for "material about living persons" (whether in BLPs or elsewhere), editors should not link to that website in a biography of a living person or in material about a living person in other Wikipedia space. That seems to be the intention of WP:V (core policy) as it pertains to WP:BLP. Similarly, if a "newspaper" (either a printed-only source or an online-only site for the newspaper or both versions) is not both reliable and verifiable, one cannot "attribute" such information about living persons (in BLPs or other Wikipedia space) to that newspaper as a source of formation about the living person. I don't think that "obscure" is relevant to the intention here. I think that reliability and verifiability of such sources and websites are. Again, unlike some others, I regard websites linked in Wikipedia as sources of information that editors are sending readers to consult. These sites of information need to be just as reliable and verifiable as other sources of information that Wikipedia directs readers to in both notes citations and various kinds of references. I have said before that, in Wikipedia articles, and often in biographies of living persons throughout Wikipedia when there are no Notes sections and no References sections, "External links" sections are the only kinds of "references" ("sources") being provided. If those links do not meet Wikipedia policy standards as linked to in WP:Attribution, they are links of questionable dubious value (not "high quality" sites or links to "high quality" sites as Wikipedia itself defines "high quality" (in W:V). --NYScholar 23:14, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
That language is clear and understandable. I think it's a big improvement over "obscure" and "partisan". ·:· Will Beback ·:· 23:28, 2 September 2007 (UTC)


This page is 289 kilobytes long. It may be helpful to move older discussion into an archive subpage. See Help:Archiving a talk page for guidance. Seriously, no-one is going to read 289 KB. could someone please update the BOT's script, because that was no archive just now, Mizabot. (Not the BOT's fault.) Newbyguesses - Talk 08:06, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

There was a problem with the bot blanking the entire page: see [1]. Thanks. This page is so long that it could be split into three archive pages. --NYScholar 21:22, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. It would be a great idea if someone involved with the long discussion could summarize the main points. Noroton 17:22, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
I really do not like that suggestion [about "someone involved with the long discussion" summarizing it] very much. People involved in the discussion have very distinct points of view on it and every time a summary is attempted, it seems to misstate what some people have said. I appreciate the spirit in which you ask for this summary, but, if archived (since archived pages of article talk archives are not to be edited further), the table of contents serves as a summary of the contents of an archived discussion. If the pages are broken up chronologically into equal parts, one should be able to find what what needs via the table of contents of each archive page. (?) Again, see my comment above: the bot created blanking of the page the last time it malfunctioned (archive 10). --NYScholar 21:22, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
I've created three more archive pages which approximately 1/3 of this current page can be archived (moved) intact. I do not think that these parts should be further re-factored. --NYScholar 21:26, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
[Please see the note added to #External links above; the material there is now in Archive 11. Thanks. --NYScholar 21:38, 2 September 2007 (UTC)]
[Please see the note added to #Regarding the desire "to amend the page in reference to external links" above; the material there is now in Archive 12. Thanks. --NYScholar 21:43, 2 September 2007 (UTC)]
[Please see the notes added to previous sections (above; see toc) that are now archived in Archives 13 and 14. Thank you. --NYScholar 22:16, 2 September 2007 (UTC)]
Perhaps a summary could be attempted by someone who has not been involved in the discussion?! Otherwise, I suggest just consulting the table of contents of the archived talk pages for the topics discussed in them. Thanks again. --NYScholar 22:24, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
Those are reasonable points about summarizing. Thanks for taking on the archiving chore. Noroton 04:14, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

I object to archiving an active discussion. Let's just restore it . ·:· Will Beback ·:· 22:32, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

Sorry: (editing conflict: note all my summaries that say "may take time"); I already did that. See above. --NYScholar 22:34, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

Thanks. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 22:38, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

Archive index

Please help to correct the archive index. I don't know how to do that. The bot that was doing that did not function properly earlier and had blanked the page: see link about that: [2]. Someone who can do so: Please correct whatever needs correcting in the script for the bot (which was malfunctioning earlier. Thanks. --NYScholar 22:20, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

Once the "Archive index" is corrected, it could serve as a "summary" of the contents of the talk archive. --NYScholar 22:24, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

Very minor typographical corrections

After archiving this talk page into separate talk page archive pages (as requested above), I have made what I consider very minor typographical corrections to the project page. I do not believe that any of them are contentious. If any are indeed problematic, please advise below. Thank you. --NYScholar 23:33, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

Phrase added

In the sentence "These sites should also not be included as external links in BLPs or in material about living persons in other Wikipedia space." I added the phrase "or in material about living persons in other Wikipedia space." I believe that that is consistent with the statement of this policy that precedes and follows this sentence. It appears to have consensus. [I just added a "see above" cross-ref. instead; less controversial.] Note "These sites" refer to "partisan sites" and also to "obscure newspapers" (in intention); I do not think that is currently clear. It should use the phrase "These sites and these newspapers should also not be included as external links...." Frequently in Wikipedia the "newspaper" linked to is actually a URL for the printed version of the newspaper (not the printed version of the newspaper) and the online version is, therefore, also "a site"; this discrepancy needs correction if "partisan sites" and "obscure newspapers" both stay in the sentence preceding the one that I added the prhase "or in material about living persons in other Wikipedia space" to. While "or in material about living persons in other Wikipedia space" has been debated, "material about living persons" and "biographies of living persons" are both included in WP:BLP. I believe this matter still needs further scrutiny. --NYScholar 23:39, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

Again: "BLP" is a plural term in this policy. It does not need rendering as "BLPs". --NYScholar 23:40, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
I have changed "BLPs" to "biographies of living persons" for clarity in the sentence. --NYScholar 23:42, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
I believe that those most likely to need to consult this policy are newcomers (new editors) to Wikipedia, and, for them, the use of "BLPs" in a sentence when "BLP" stands actually for "Biographies of living persons" can be confusing. --NYScholar 23:53, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
Again, for the sake of clarity, I have made some very minor syntactical changes to the sentences (sentence structure; active voice of verbs); the passive-voice constructions are not only unnecessarily wordy and unwieldy (throughout this project page), but they are less clear than active-voice constructions would be. Each time the agent of the action is submerged in a passive-voice construction, the sentence is less clear about who is supposed to be doing what. I suggest (again) that the project page be rewritten identifying the agents of actions ("editors" usually) and using active-voice verb constructions. Passive constructions are means of hiding the relationship between the agent and the action. (This is just an editorial observation about syntax [sentence construction]).) At the very least, project pages defining policies require the clearest expression possible. (Throughout Wikipedia.) --NYScholar 00:14, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
These very minor changes that I have recently made are simply examples of further changes that other editors could make to this and other project pages in Wikipedia. I have to log out to do other non-Wikipedia work.--NYScholar 00:15, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
I Support the version in its current form as edited by NYScholar with the following caveats. (1) Saying external links must follow all policies of Wikipedia does not change the status of external links as described in current WP:EL guidelines. If people believe the statement overturns WP:EL it may need to be clarified. (2) I made a change to the "partisan websites and obscure newspapers" sentence so that it applies exactly the same to material in the article and material pointed to by external link. This clarifies some possible confusion and smooths oer an anomaly I myself introduced a few days ago with the phrase "these sites" that could be taken to impose a higher standard for external links than article content. (3) I would support the language with or without certain of the changes, i.e, they are harmless in my opinion. (4) The phrase "partisan websites and obscure newspapers" could use some more thought. We can talk about that later / separately. Wikidemo 05:20, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
I had been editing for over an hour and made a lot of very minor syntactical changes; I've tried to incorporate your change after the editing conflict that I encountered. Please examine it and see if it does what you intended. Thanks. --NYScholar 05:58, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
In making the previous changes that Wikidemo refers to above, I noticed that linking to the official policies page is useful because it links directly to copyright policies, which do pertain to website linking in "External links" sections and in "external links" otherwise in Wikipedia space. So I think it's useful to have the page to consult via the link that I added to it. (That is only one of several reasons to link to it. Newcomers to Wikipedia are probably not even aware that the page exists.) --NYScholar 06:11, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
Wow, lots of copyediting. 90% is for the better and overall it is a significant improvement in the language (in my opinion) so I won't quibble. Other than re-introducing the change I mentioned above (which we can discuss if necessary), I made two others. First is self-explanatory, changing the admonition about being "cautious" to apply as before to the editor's actions in writing articles rather than the articles themselves, because a "cautious" article could be interpreted as an instruction to use weak or circumspect language. Second, the new version had told article subjects who felt the article is unfair to state their objections, in writing, to wikipedia, citing the BLP rules. Although that would indeed be ideal, people who find inappropriate material about themselves in an article may not be experienced editors or not wikipedians at all. I don't think we should be stern in telling them what procedures to follow. Within reason we should listen to any complaint they have in any form or forum they make it. Also, I'm not sure BLP is the place where we tell them what to do. Perhaps there is some of this in the COI, welcome pages, etc. I hope everyone else is fine with have to cross your fingers when making stylistic improvements so close in time to a dispute over substance, because the two can spill over into one another.Wikidemo —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wikidemo (talkcontribs) 06:39, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

Please slow down

Your contributions and desire to improve this page are most welcome, but please be mindful that is is an official policy of Wikipedia, and that changes, even syntactical ones, may have implications beyond the good faith intentions you may have. If you want to make so many changes, please be patient, make a few changes at a time, see if they stick and if they do after a few days, do some more. Thank you for your understanding. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 13:47, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

Jossi: I didn't realize that you had changed something that I had edited. I thought I had forgotten to save it correctly. I did not actually intend to "revert" your change. I will, as you suggest "slow down"; I am actually logging out (finally). So I will leave the changes for you and others to absorb. Did not intend to step on your or others' toes here. --NYScholar 13:54, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

FWIW, I support these edits that were reverted by Jossi. I agree that it's possible to go too fast, but all of these edits look like improvements to me so I propose that we restore them.
I am not so sure about the only edit by NYScholar left standing though, and have reverted the part that seemed problematic to me. Avb 14:38, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
I may support these edits, but these are way too many in a way too short period of time. Make a few changes, see if they stick and then do another batch. That will give me and other editors the chance to evaluate the edits. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 14:41, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
I am one of "the other editors" -- those weren't my edits, I just reviewed them and accepted them as straightforward, uncontroversial, beneficial changes (with the exception of the last edit). Avb 22:41, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
Can we list the edits that folks don't agree with? The problems with "partisan websites and obscure newspapers" have been discussed for a while and a good solution was proposed. Is there another possible solution? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 17:47, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
Which good solution? There were so many proposals. Not that copy editing this page is the most important thing going on at the moment but it doesn't hurt, so why not just post the changes up one paragraph or section at a time in some orderly way, and when we're done move on to the next? There's some added complication in mixing copy-edit discussions (which don't require the same thing by way of consensus) and proposed changes to the actual policy. Wikidemo 18:56, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

Privacy of names

I've changed this section to read as follows:

Caution should be applied when naming individuals who are discussed primarily in terms of a single event. When the name of a private individual has not been widely disseminated or has been intentionally concealed (such as in certain court cases), it is often preferable to omit it, especially when doing so does not result in a significant loss of context. When evaluating the inclusion or removal of names, their publication in secondary sources other than news media, such as scholarly journals or the work of recognized experts, should be afforded greater weight than the brief appearance of names in news stories.
Editors should take particular care when considering whether inclusion of the names of private, living individuals adds significant value. The presumption in favor of the privacy of family members of articles' subjects and other loosely involved persons without independent notability is correspondingly stronger.
In all cases where the redaction of names is considered, editors should be willing to discuss the issue on the article's talk page, but this is not a licence to drag a private individual's name into the wiki.

I've performed the following removal:

private, living individuals who are not directly involved in an article's topic -> private, living individuals

Obviously if we can write a good article without naming a private individual we should do so. That's what the word privacy means: that you don't expect to find your name dropped into an encyclopedia article without very good reason.

In all cases where the redaction of names is considered, editors should be willing to discuss the issue on the article's talk page. -> In all cases where the redaction of names is considered, editors should be willing to discuss the issue on the article's talk page, but this is not a licence to drag a private individual's name into the wiki.

Equally obviously, we don't want to fuss around and drag a private individual's name into discussion simply because there is dispute on whether to use it. The discussion can take place without naming the individual. --Tony Sidaway

Although I support the intent of your edit (to avoid naming private individuals when it's not necessary to do so), I disagree with your changes. Your first change removes an important clarification that gives guidance on when it is appropriate or inappropriate to mention a private individual (i.e. if the individual is not directly involved with the article's topic, don't mention him/her). Your second edit imposes a rather awkard constraint on talk page discussions. It seems to imply that, instead of writing, "X said ..." we must write, "The subject of this dispute regarding inclusion of a private name said ..." or "The individual who brought forth accusations of misconduct also stated ..." or something similar. One problem is that this shuts out participation from anyone that is not familiar with the origins of the dispute. More generally, however, a coherent discussion is virtually impossible without identifying the subject of the dispute. I realise that there are certain cases where a discussion can be held without naming anyone, but I don't think that this can be codified as a general policy. Black Falcon (Talk) 22:17, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
Tony, trying to change a policy page to get the upper hand in a content dispute does not fill me with trust for you. -- Ned Scott 02:52, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Ned Scott, this is definitely not an honorable action. That said, I think this policy should basically state that if the name could be easily found by a search for the subject on a search engine, there really shouldn't be reason to exclude it. Censoring the encyclopedia to protect something that is already public knowledge seems rather pointless. -Nathan J. Yoder 06:27, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

"Material about living persons available solely on partisan websites or in obscure newspapers"

"Partisan websites or obscure newspapers"

OK, so that phrase is back in, despite the objections of enough editors on this page that it seems clear that it's not supported by consensus. The arguments have been made several times, but the short version is that "partisan" and "obscure" aren't defined, and are thus open to debate; also, what may be "obscure" with regard to one subject may be authoritative with regard to another.

So, let's talk about alternative ways to express what "partisan websites or obscure newspapers" is getting at.

I had proposed replacing the offending phrase with "questionable sources", since that's defined at WP:V#Questionable sources. NYScholar has a helpful discussion of the subject above, and if I'm reading him correctly seems to suggest "sources of questionable or dubious value". I think "questionable" and "dubious" are redundant, and we don't need both. How would people feel about changing the sentence so that it reads:

Material about living persons available solely in questionable sources should be handled with caution, and, if derogatory, should not be used at all.

Howzat? —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 05:47, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

Seems better. Less questionable. :-) --AnonEMouse (squeak) 18:42, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
"Dubious value" refers to other language in WP:V referred to in WP:BLP: WP:BLP#Reliable sources: "high-quality sources"; sources of "high quality" elsewhere; websites of "high quality"; those not of "high quality" are "dubious" ["of dubious value"] or "questionable" (synonyms). --NYScholar 18:48, 4 September 2007 (UTC) [expl. in brackets. --NYScholar 18:51, 4 September 2007 (UTC)]
Synonyms are not necessarily "redundancies"; they are useful for emphasis; espec. if new editors might be prone to misinterpretation of Wikipedia terminology such as "reliable" and "verifiable" sources and "high quality websites". --NYScholar 18:49, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

"Questionable sources" (unreliable and unverifiable sources) links to WP:V:WP:V#Sources: WP:V#Questionable sources; "questionable websites" refers to "websites" that are not of "high quality" and are, therefore, "questionable" (not reliable and/or not verifiable) and of thus "dubious value". That is the intention of "of dubious value" as it pertains to websites. "Newspapers" are both "sources" and "websites" (URL) in Wikipedia. "Websites" are linked via URLs. But a newspaper can be either a "printed" source ("printed" version, "print" version) or a website, or both (both versions). --NYScholar 19:15, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

The original phrase ("Material ....") refers to "websites" in "partisan websites"--that phrase includes links to "websites" everywhere, not just as "sources" in "Notes" and/or "References" list. See the archived discussion pages for contentious debate about the distinctions between "websites" and "sources"; I am for the "Material about living persons" phrase pertaining to all such "sources" (in my view): encompassing both printed sources and internet sources ("websites"). If the Wikipedia article documents "material about living persons" via links to "websites", then "such sites" must not violate WP:V. That is my viewpoint on this matter. In stating it (here and earlier archived comments), I point out that linking to a website in Wikipedia is linking to the site as a potential source of information for readers to consult; the link serves as a "recommendation" to readers; any such "recommendations" sending readers to "sources" of information ("Material about living persons") must be in keeping with Wikipedia's core policies, which include WP:V. --NYScholar 19:33, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

One should not lose sight of the fact that this sentence appears in a section of WP:BLP entitled "Reliable sources" (WP:BLP#Reliable sources); in that context (the section), the word "websites" is clearly intended as a kind of "source". (current language of the policy). --NYScholar 19:35, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

There must be a better way to define explicitly as well as to link to what Wikipedia considers "reliable and verifiable sources" for "material about living persons" as the phrase "reliable and verifiable sources" pertains to both printed sources and to internet sources (those that appear in or on or as "websites"). --NYScholar 19:39, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

It might be better if the sentence did not appear at all? If one wants editors to use and to refer to only "reliable and verifiable sources" (including "websites") for "material about living persons", one needs to state that in the positive (not in the negative). (?) --NYScholar 19:41, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

I am unable to wade through all that verbiage, but am guessing that NYScholar doesn't like shortening from q&d to merely q. Let's try q&d, then, that's at least better than "obscure". --AnonEMouse (squeak) 19:42, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
I think that you are quite capable of reading "all that verbiage"; I took the time to write it to respond here, and I would appreciate it if you would read it. I read your comments and I don't characterize them in any way. Please see: WP:CIVIL. Thanks. --NYScholar 19:49, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
Please don't "guess" about what I am saying; I stated what I mean, and to see what I mean, one does need actually to read it. Please don't just "guess" and then restate what I said. What I said responded to the questions posed in this entire section. --NYScholar 19:51, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
I must admit that I'm slightly confused about what you're saying concerning the "source/website" distinction. At times it looks as if you're arguing both sides of the question. Are you saying that "sources" is or is not the right term to use in this context? —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 19:58, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
I think that is is quite an simple distinction: a website can be a source for a claim made in an article about a BLP, providing that the website is notable, accurate, reliable, not self-published by a third party, etc. as per WP:V#Sources. External links sections in most articles have a somewhat lesser burden for reliability, but in BLPs we have tightened the threshold for inclusion so that there is no such a lessening of standards for EL sections as in other articles, as per the spirit of this policy:Biographical material must be written with the greatest care and attention to verifiability, neutrality and avoiding original research, particularly if it is contentious. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 20:04, 4 September 2007 (UTC)


(edit conflict) Earlier I also questioned "solely" as unverifiable and requiring "original research" (WP:NOR); I believe it violates WP:NOR. Why is "solely" necessary or helpful or in keeping with WP:NOR? Material about living persons in biographies of living persons and material about living persons in other space in Wikipedia must not come from "questionable" (or, in other words, "unreliable and unverifiable") sources or websites. Period. If it does, instructions already exist to "remove" it "on sight". That has always been clear to us and the policy project needs to make that crystal clear (I think). It must not mince words and "beat about the bush" about this matter. WP:V is core policy in Wikipedia. --NYScholar 18:45, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

NYScholar, can we please do one thing at a time? Otherwise we risk not getting anywhere. How do you feel about replacing "partisan and obscure" with "questionable"? [split comment from --AnonEMouse (squeak) 18:56, 4 September 2007 (UTC) (as signed below)]
I already responded to that. I moved the part of my comment back to where I had originally placed it before AnonEMouse refactored it. --NYScholar 19:11, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
"Solely" is a different issue, and I can understand why "solely" might make a difference; if information that the President of the United States is having an affair with an intern is available "solely" on a partisan blog, that's one thing, if that information gets checked and reported by the New York Times, that's something entirely different, and referring to the fact is was first reported on the blog becomes highly relevant. --AnonEMouse (squeak) 18:56, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

My point is that in order to determine whether or not information is "solely" on a blog or in another "questionable" source or website, one needs to do "original research", which violates WP:NOR. This is related to the matter discussed above because the sentence contains "solely" as well as "partisan websites" and "obscure newspapers": it's all one sentence. The features of the whole sentence need this further scrutiny. "Solely" is an adverb modifying the inclusion of everything after it: the modifiers of both "websites" and "newspapers" ("partisan" and "obscure"). It actually further limits their usage in that sentence. These are points relating to the grammar and syntax and meaning of the words in the sentence. --NYScholar 19:04, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps "policy creep" led to this sentence earlier in the history of this project page's revisions? Perhaps one can find where and when in the editing history (and archived discussion about it)?

Example of the positive: "Editors must document material about living persons in Wikipedia with citations to reliable and verifiable high quality sources."

Sources that are "websites" are defined in W:V#Sources. (The sections of WP:BLP already relating to "external links" (including all such links, as well as those in "External links" sections) already define that matter and include a link to WP:EL guidelines. What is the "policy" in WP:BLP pertaining to "websites" presented as "sources" of "Material about living persons" in Wikipedia (whether it be through notes citations, references lists, or "External links" sections of articles or elsewhere in Wikipedia "space"? (The key question). --NYScholar 19:48, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

AnonEmouse's edit does the job. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 19:56, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

I'm fine with it, though I'll note that "questionable" (even as defined) and "dubious" are even looser in definition that "obscure." However, the looseness encourages people to take a common sense approach to figuring out what sources are dubious or lack editorial oversight, which is okay. I've reinstated the clarification I've added before that seemed to get lost in the wide-scale reverts. If anyone doesn't see why I can explain why the clarification is helpful. Wikidemo 20:08, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
I simply referred the reader to the previous section on "External links"; those additions to the sentence were confusing the intention of WP:BLP. [That is: WP:BLP#Reliable sources.] --NYScholar 23:00, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

"Reliable sources"

As per the very title of the section of WP:BLP#Reliable sources, this whole subsection deals with "sources". --NYScholar 23:04, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

Revised sentence

I think that the following sentence solves the problems previously discussed: "Material about living persons from questionable sources of dubious value should be handled with caution; if derogatory, such material should not be included at all in biographies of living people." --NYScholar 23:23, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

That sentence pertains to all "sources" of "material about living persons", which includes websites accessed by way of "external links"; I do not think it is necessary to add the cross reference since WP:BLP#External links already is clear (I hope). --NYScholar 23:26, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

External links (again!)

If others still think that a cross-reference to WP:BLP#External links is necessary, please state that here and explain why for further discussion. Thank you. --NYScholar 23:28, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

As we've discussed at length, an external link is not the same thing as a source. A statement that external links have to follow Wikipedia policies is redundant but harmless. A statement that material outside of wikipedia, reached by external link, is treated the same as material in Wikipedia articles, is problematic and not policy. If the revised language is an end run around that distinction, or if people interpret it as such, we will have to clarify. Wikidemo 23:46, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
The section that you keep bringing "external links" into is called WP:BLP#Reliable sources. That is its title. The phrase "including as an external link" was one that you and others kept deleting from it. Now "external links" have a subsection devoted to them in the "Writing" part above the "reliable sources" section. That subsection clearly links to policies and guidelines that pertain to "external links" in Wikipedia in relation to this project policy page which is on "biographies of living persons", including "material about living persons" in Wikipedia space. It is a policy page. If you want to propose a policy page for "external links", doing so is another matter (a separate "proposal"). Currently, there are only "guidelines" pertaining to "external links" (viz. WP:EL). --NYScholar 01:01, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
The whole section that "Reliable sources" is a subsection of is called "Sources" (WP:BLP#Sources); it is policy. Websites are mentioned in the third sentence:

Material from self-published books, zines, websites, and blogs should never be used as a source about a living person, unless written or published by the subject of the article (see below) [active link to "see below" in the page].

That is a policy statement too. WP:EL is guidelines pertaining to "external links" in Wikipedia; these policy statements pertain to "websites" and "external links" [to "sources"] in biographies of living persons (BLP) and in "material about living persons" in Wikipedia space. See Jossi's earlier replies, with which I agree. --NYScholar 01:09, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
It appears to me that this insistence on changing WP:BLP to accommodate "external links" that it does not currently accommodate is a matter for a formal proposal, not a talk page. --NYScholar 01:12, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
Your repetitive comments on this have gotten so numerous it is hard to even follow what you are saying now, but once again this is the BLP page. You can't ignore policy, or the rest of the encyclopedia just to have your own view accepted. External links are not sources. The guideline for external links in general are covered elsewhere. Here we just need to include that like in the body text, external links should not link to unreliable or inflamatory material. That is the end of the scope of this article regarding the external links section. If you want to eliminate the distinction between external links and sources, propose that elsewhere, please don't make this talk page unreadable again by going on about it here. 2005 01:30, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
WP:CIVIL: "That's not what I've been doing" either: If you do not agree with something, don't label it "repetitive"; my points are not more "repetitive" than anyone else's. I repeat them because you and others just don't seem to understand the point: WP:BLP is a "policy" page and not a "guidelines" page for external links. If you want to (re)define guidelines for external links, Wikipedia talk:External links regarding WP:EL is the place for doing that, not this talk page. --NYScholar 01:39, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
Reminding an editor to keep comments brief and few is not a civility matter, nor is pointing out that they are repetitive, wrong, or make no sense.Wikidemo 01:43, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

That's [bringing external links into the sources section] not what I've been doing and I can't make heads or tales of the statements above, but again, if this is an attempt to assert that content accessed by external link to pages outside of Wikipedia is treated the same as content on Wikipedia pages, that's wrong and we'll have to clarify. Reliable sources, verifiability, and citations pertain to material on Wikipedia articles and how it is supported; external links are for external links. Wikidemo 01:16, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Please re-read Jossi's previous comments to you (throughout)--in them, Jossi continually points out that this policy page pertains to "biographies of living persons" and the "material about living persons" in Wikipedia. It is policy. If you want to change the policy itself, you really do need to go to a proposal procedure in Wikipedia. The point of a policy page is that it is to be clear, not subject to "interpretations" of "intention" of people writing about it on talk pages. The policy is the policy as stated. It needs clarity. If you think it unclear still, then, by all means, continue discussing it, but you cannot keep trying to change the policy project page to make statements that violate core policies in Wikipedia. Again, policy statements are about policy; guidelines are just guidelines. There are differences between the status of a "policy" and a "guideline" in Wikipedia. I do not understand your continuing problems with the current versions (or the past ones that you reverted). If you "can't make heads or tales of the statements above," then I do not understand why you can't. --NYScholar 01:26, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Also, please try to keep in mind the subject matter of the section called "Sources" in WP:BLP#Sources: it is "sources", as it states. --NYScholar 01:27, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

No. What I don't understand are some odd non-sequiturs like the sentence immediately above. References to what I am supposed to read, pay attention to, and what another editor supposedly told me aside, you have been making the strange claim for several weeks now that external links and sources are the same thing, and trying to engineer changes in the language to back up your point. That's not policy. If anyone tries to make it policy via this page it won't work, and if anyone claims that the reference on this page that external links must follow wikipedia policies creates such a policy we'll have to change this page to make clear that is not what it's doing. Wikidemo 01:39, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
Once again, please adhere to WP:CIVIL: I have not been doing what you keep saying that I am doing; not in my view of my own statements. Please stop accusing me of these things; the section that you keep having trouble understanding is called and about Sources; no non-sequitur here at all: I'm pointing you to the subject of this section/discussion about this section, which it appears to me you and others keep losing sight of through this persistence on talking about guidelines for external links (WP:EL). The persistence is not mine, but yours. --NYScholar 01:43, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
Please stop giving false civility warnings. It's tiresome and inappropriate. Wikidemo 02:05, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

I think it possible that a better place to put a cross-ref like "Regarding external links, see above" would be in the sentence linked via "see below": "A blog or personal website self-published by the subject may be listed in the external links/further reading section if not used as a source in the article." At the end of it, one could add a cross-ref. like [quoting as an example:]


Active voice

As I have stated earlier, I think that active voice would be clearer than the currently passive voice constructions. Also, I think statement in the positive is better than a negative construction. Instead of saying what not to do, one could more clearly state what to do. People come to this policy project page for instructions to follow (what to do); the "should not be done" construction is hiding what to do in both a negative and a passive voice construction, making it harder for a reader to know what to do. --NYScholar 23:31, 4 September 2007 (UTC)


So, OK, maybe this is silly, I dunno. But do we apply BLP rules to articles about previous incarnations of living people? In some cases, I can see, maybe, how the current Dalai Lama could object to really negative content regarding one of his earlier incarnations being added. I don't imagine that this will be a situation that arises very often, but I guess it could happen. John Carter 21:22, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

I could not help it but smile... ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:44, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
Ditto: and I needed to. ... --NYScholar 01:49, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
I would say that it may be a good idea to leave the page for a while, NYScholar. You will get a fresh pair of eyes in a day or two. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:50, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Most recent revert: "Stable?"

[...removed archiving box to an active discussion among not two but at least three participants, one of whom had not yet commented. --NYScholar 19:30, 7 September 2007 (UTC)]

Note: the participants involved in the above discussion have agreed among themselves that the policy language they were discussing is currently acceptable. No representation is made that this represents any wider consensus, merely that this discussion has reached that result. Wikidemo 11:37, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Sorry: That is an untrue statement. It takes advantage of people engaged in an active discussion. I had pointed out that the participant whom I was engaging in discussion with (not Wikidemo but User:Josiah Rowe) had not apparently had an opportunity to respond. I'm undoing this "archiving"; it should not be archived until all its participants have had a chance to reply. This is not the way to handle an active discussion. I have asked Wikidemo before (in now-archived discussions in archive pages) not to speak for me. I had already indicated that I was waiting for Josiah Rowe to reply. My comments are clear. I object to this strategy of closing an active discussion and claiming that it is over when it is still ongoing. No one user gets to decide for two other users that the discussion is "over." As far as I'm concerned (and perhaps as far as Josiah Rowe might be concerned), it is not.

[refactored to indicate actual state of discussion. --NYScholar 19:30, 7 September 2007 (UTC)]

I would like to know what User:Josiah Rowe's response to my comments replying to him or her are. I've undone the archiving for that and the above-mentioned other reasons. --NYScholar 19:33, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
I've left a message on his talk page, respectfully requesting that he return to reply to responses to his queries. --NYScholar 19:37, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
The language that I proposed is (I repeat here): "Editors should be cautious in considering whether or not to include in Wikipedia material about living persons that they find only in questionable sources or sources of dubious value; if the material about living persons from such sources is derogatory, they should not use this material or these sources at all in biographies of living persons or elsewhere in Wikipedia."

So far only one user (Wikidemo) has commented on it. --NYScholar 19:40, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

At this point you are playing games. After a 7,000 word discussion you said tice yesterday that you were not proposing any language change. Now you say you are, and that the fact that a third person had asked a question means it is still an active discussion. If you want to propose a language change, why not start a new section, propose it, and we can discuss it in the clear. At this point the page is once again a mess thanks to a huge number of unconstructive and near-unintelligible comments. Wikidemo 19:49, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
I object to this user's continual mischaracterizations of my comments. I clearly stated (several times in replying to those mischaracterizations before, some of which are clearly uncivil--see his repeated civility warnings to me, which I believe are not warranted) that I am proposing only changes to the language of the policy and not changes to the policy. I stated that in the material that he (without my agreement and despite my objections) put in an archive box, so anyone can re-read it for themselves. It is interesting to me that the user continually accuses me of "incivility" and does not perceive his own comments as uncivil. To me that smacks of hypocrisy. I find the comments that he makes in his replies to me unpleasant and I really do not want to deal with them any further. I leave my proposal language (which I revised after reading others' comments) in the later comments below. I do not intend to enter an "editing war" about this proposal page. I comment on this talk page about the changes to the language that I think need to be made. In the case of a recent typographical error ("dubious sources" instead of my proposed "sources of dubious value"), I corrected the (what I regard as a) typographical error.
I object to the above user's placing three "civility warnings" on my talk page (which is now re-directed to my user page, because I have no time left for replying to comments on it), and I refer others to his comments to me, which in my view and that of others (now archived in talk page archives of this talk page), are repeatedly uncivil. If he is going to place civility warnings on other users' talk pages, he needs to abide by WP:CIVIL and WP:AGF himself. I do not see that occurring, and, for that reason, this is my final reply to any comment that he posts about anything that I post on this talk page or anywhere else. I am simply unable to communicate with him constructively due to the kinds of replies that I am getting from him. I am returning to my other work, which, for me, has priority over discussions on this talk page. --NYScholar 22:28, 7 September 2007 (UTC) [Logging out of Wikipedia. ---NYScholar 22:30, 7 September 2007 (UTC)]
In no way am I being uncivil here. NYScholar has dominated this talk page for a fair while (the edit history shows 62 posts so far today; sometimes 20K+ in new material), and taken swipes at me and others who have contrary opinions. When the abuse has grown particularly bad, as it did today by calling my innocuous comments on a language proposal "nasty", and scolding me for reproducing something in normal font that had been previously posted in bold, I have offered a relevant civility warning. These have been met with tit-for-tat allegations rather than an attempt to be civil. I am trying to be as soft and circumspect as I can with this user, given the volatile reactions to my being here, but do not wish to surrender the Wikipedia policy page entirely to his/her aggressive editing. The incivility is one thing. The excessive posting and refactoring of convoluted, repetitive, and verbose material is another. I am at a loss for what to do. Wikidemo 23:13, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

I object!

This page documents an official policy on the English Wikipedia. It has wide acceptance {Fact|date=September 2007} among editors and is considered a standard that all users should follow. When editing this page, please ensure that your revision reflects consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page.

Well, as a biography project member, I don't accept many of these provisions. So, I would like a source placed on the main page supporting "wide acceptance." How many people commented on the policy provisions? What percentage of people participating on Wikipedia were aware of policy provisions under consideration before a "vote" was taken? What efforts were taken to "advertise" the proposed policy to the general group of editors? When was the Wiki wide "vote" taken, and what was the total votes, pro and con, to this "policy"? What minority tabulated the vote and made the final decision on "policy"? The imposition of minority opinion on this type of control issues has got to have a limit somewhere. WBardwin 06:53, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for posting this comment! --NYScholar 06:59, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
This is a very good point. While a lot of BLP is good, it has grown in the shadows and without much community input. That is not to say that we should suddenly change all of BLP, but there are things that are not supported by consensus, the Foundation, or by legal reasons that I take issue with. (and I'm sure others do as well) -- Ned Scott 07:43, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
I also concur. While I haven't been involved in BLP specifically, I see this phenomenon on all guideline and policy pages. It's a general problem with policies and guidelines that changes creep in over time and they really don't gather much of a representative consensus. When they're created, they can have over a hundred people discussing it, but when changes creep in over time, it may be less than a dozen people who agreed on it. There should be a special tag for challenging parts of guidelines and policies that sort of snuck in without a large consensus. Would creating a template for this be a good idea? What about a technical mechanism where people can view a special page and see all edits not marked as minor on policy and guideline pages? Either that, or people manually add something to a page that all Wikiepdians are encouraged to watch listing changes--requiring this to be done manually encourages extra effort, making it less casual, requiring more serious thought. In addition, new changes could be tagged with a dated tag and it would add it to a category people could view, like "changes made in september 2007 to policies" or something. Thoughts? -Nathan J. Yoder 09:06, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
Something like this was brought up here not too long ago, using the new Flagged revisions feature. I think something like this would be a very good idea. People could still be bold with guidelines and policies, while letting people check what was the last big agreement. Then, from time to time, start new discussions to flag a newer version (maybe even on a regular basis). -- Ned Scott 19:00, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

I do not think that the text of the page has changed dramatically since it was upgraded to policy. It is most definitively an official policy of Wikipedia, despite edits made since that time. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 20:48, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

I don't know about that: -- Ned Scott 21:08, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

In reply to WBardwin (talk · contribs), there is no such a thing as !votes in Wikipedia, as you probably know by now. The page was heavily discussed during its development as a guideline in talk and in the mailing list. The upgrade to policy was announced on the Wikipedia signpost of July 24, 2006. It was upgraded from guideline to official policy on July 18, 2006. It has wide support from the community, referred to in ArbCom cases, and applied by patrollers of the BLP noticeboard. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 20:52, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

The question remains unanswered though: How do we know that this reflects, as it claims, "wide community consensus"? Noone seems willing to step up and answer the man's question. I don't remember this being presented for community approval or discussion, so could someone please show where this was done? Its kinda funny how we're dancing around here. I'm blind. Kyaa the Catlord 21:14, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
One change is that the original policy had a defined scope, namely articles that are biographies of living people, which make up about 1/4 of all of our mainspace pages. The policy as it now stands, depending on exactly when you look at it, seems to lay claim to things having to do with living people in all articles. Those in the biography project have been heavily involved, and therefore on notice since early on that BLP existed (note: I just edited the wikiproject page to alert people that it's a policy, not a guideline). However, those working on other wikiprojects (e.g. music, architecture, science, business, etc) have not been involved in this way and their standards are different. For example, it might be legitimate within the scope of an architecture article to mention that a building design is considered lowbrow and derivative; viewed in the context of BLP that might be seen as unreliable derogatory information about the architect. Similar concerns for suspect scientific theories, troubled musical groups, crime project articles, etc. One might accuse BLP of overreaching, or at least enacting policy on people who didn't know policy was being enacted on them. This happens all over Wikipedia, not just BLP. The people who write the articles aren't on notice that someone in a far off policy page is writing rules without asking them, sometimes based on strong convictions and abstract arguments on meta issues without considering the effects out in the field. Wikidemo 22:37, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm glad to see that my initial comments drew response here. Despite the "snide (?)" reference by Jossi above, I used the word "vote" intentionally. I know this is not a democracy, but any policy category should be widely advertised and discussed if it is to gain "wide approval". If you want the support of the majority of editors, you must reach out to the majority of editors. My suggestion on this page, because of the legal complications regarding living persons, is that the legal representatives of Wikipedia review and define the minimum limitations that would prove Wikipedia is acting in good faith in a court of law. This material should remain as "policy." Other material should be placed as "guidelines" on biographies and related mention of living persons, with the authority of administrators to enforce these "guidelines" significantly reduced. Comments and related changes should by widely solicited by, for example, posting the page on all Wikipedia projects, admin noticeboards, etc. Authority and punitive actions in Wikipedia, and I sincerely wish, elsewhere, should be based on the consent of the governed. Best to all. WBardwin 22:46, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
My comment was not a "snide". I just simply offered you facts about this page. To reply to your argument, BLP was not designed to fend off lawsuits only. Just read the references from Jimmy Wales on this regard: [5], [6], and [7]. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 03:42, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
For a policy that has been in place for more than a year, that is widely applied, and that is widely quoted in ArbCom cases, I would argue that the burden is on those editors that find fault with it to seek consensus to change it, rather than the other way around. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 03:45, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
If anyone can tell me what "obscure" means in this context I'd be happy to let the existing language remain. Any editor who can't define it should support changing the language to something that is more obvious. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 04:33, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
Please see the previous section (most recent comments), which begins in #"Material about living persons available solely on partisan websites or in obscure newspapers"; this matter has been discussed and alternative wording (current version and proposed alternative versions) supplied. --NYScholar 19:38, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
My own view is that ""questionable sources or sources of dubious value" covers both "partisan websites" and "obscure newspapers". (Explanation above in response to questions asked.) --NYScholar 19:41, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
Point of clarification: the "existing language" in the version that Jossi reverted to (not really "stable" as stated) does not include either "partisan websites" or "obscure newspapers" as earlier versions did (dating to August 12, 2007 and before that: sometimes referred to as "SV's version", which also included the phrase "including as an external link"). --NYScholar 19:44, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
I agree with that language. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 21:08, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
Which language? (I don't know which you mean: Jossi's reverted version (which I just edited to correct "dubious sources" (which is an error--the "sources" are not "dubious"; what is meant there is really "disputed sources" [sources "of dubious value"]); "questionable sources" is the phrase of the link. --NYScholar 21:59, 6 September 2007 (UTC) [corrected in brackets. --NYScholar 22:10, 6 September 2007 (UTC)]
I had trouble w/ the editing summary and the edit changed before I finished writing the editing summary: I was explaining that I was correcting a typographical error in "dubious sources" (already explained in previous section). [rethreaded. --NYScholar 22:10, 6 September 2007 (UTC)]
Will Beback: could you quote which language you "agree with?" Thanks. --NYScholar 21:59, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
Again, I'm not saying I don't disagree with most of BLP, but whatlinkshere is not an indication of acceptance (people often link to it if they're going to complain about it, or even if they are neutral about it). Also, arbcom doesn't set policy, but I still respect their opinion. I don't think we're saying the spirit of the policy is in dispute, but there are many things that get snuck in here. We have editors who write "copyediting" and will add something new. What's worse, we don't always notice it until a long time later. Time doesn't make everything true.
The problem often comes up with wording, where someone added/changed something without significant (or any) input. Then another editor goes to change it, or reword it, and the first editor blocks such attempts. Look at the EL debate we had. A lot of us didn't even disagree with the basic idea, but people were demanding that their particular wording was the consensus, and nothing else would do, and would not discuss the issue. Finally, we were able to discuss it, but we shouldn't have had to fight people to do something so simple. -- Ned Scott 05:36, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Further objections: Requesting administrative assistance

These are active discussions; I strenuously object to this tactic of archiving still-active discussions. Archiving is for when discussions are finished, not active. --NYScholar 19:42, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Please see my objections as stated above

(edit conflict):Some of the discussion took place "in the middle of the night"/wee hours of the morning, and others have not yet necessarily had opportunities to respond to it. Two users do not make a "consensus" on when discussions about WP:BLP are "done". My views are misrepresented by another user, and I want to make that clear. I proposed a statement that alters the passive voice to the active voice and that does not change the policy of WP:BLP. The policy WP:BLP still adheres to WP:V (which includes WP:V#Sources particularly) as well as Wikipedia:Neutral point of view and WP:NOR. These are core policies in Wikipedia that all of Wikipedia must follow (not violate). If one has questions about how WP:BLP pertains to them, one must consult those project policy pages too. Thanks. --NYScholar 19:56, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

I also have proposed that one move the "see above" link to WP:BLP#External links to the section below which deals with "websites." I explained my reasons earlier. The whole matter of injecting "external links" issues into WP:BLP#Sources is confusing the policy statement. Once "including as an external link" was removed circa August 12/13 and after that (a part of persistent edit warring over WP:BLP#Reliable sources--see archived talk pages in archive box next to table of contents), then eventually users participating in this discussion introduced a sentence about them in an earlier section of WP:BLP on "writing"; I added a subheading "External links" for clarity. That statement is clear (I did not compose it, other(s) did), and linking back to it makes sense in the later part of the policy dealing with "websites". That is my current point of view on this matter (already stated above). The context for my proposed language is the entire rest of the policy in WP:BLP; it changes nothing. --NYScholar 20:01, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Will you please state, clearly, what you are proposing so that we may consider it? Thx, Wikidemo 20:04, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Please stop changing what I write: I already used bold print to indicate the sentence that I proposed (above): (edit conflict)Also: let's be entirely clear: this is not a battle for control over WP:BLP (in my own view). I simply think that passive voice constructions lead to lack of clarity especially for new editors. I do not mind if others do not agree; but I do mind when they present my proposed language as something that it is not. It is simply a suggestion about how to improve the expression of the already-existing policy in the project page. That is what talk pages are for: improving articles (including project policy pages) so that they express their content clearly and unambiguously. --NYScholar 20:06, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

How am I changing what you write? I thought you bolded your proposal to set it off from the discussion, not that the entire phrase is proposed to be bold on the policy page. That would be a bad idea, but no matter. It is perfectly appropriate that I restate your proposal. The language is poor, and it does affect the meaning of the policy for the worse. I am not going to get into a debate over the difference between bolding and not bolding a sentence. Wikidemo 20:16, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Sentence proposed for WP:BLP#Reliable sources (Please comment below)

NYScholar proposes to change the sentence in the "Reliable Sources" portion of the policy page


"Material about living persons available solely in questionable sources or sources of dubious value should be handled with caution, and, if derogatory, should not be used at all in biographies of living people, either as sources or via external links (see above)"


"Editors should be cautious in considering whether or not to include in Wikipedia material about living persons that they find only in questionable sources or sources of dubious value; if the material about living persons from such sources is derogatory, they should not use this material or these sources at all in biographies of living persons or [in biographical material about living persons] elsewhere in Wikipedia." [added phrase. See below. --NYScholar 20:32, 7 September 2007 (UTC)]

["Elsewhere in Wikipedia" is contingent on the previous part of the sentence; "this material" refers back to the previous phrase: "material about living persons"; that (material about living persons) is what WP:BLP#Sources concerns: read the previous sentences and the following sentences in the policy.] Thanks. --NYScholar 20:12, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

[This proposal relates to a previous section of discussion headed #"Material about living persons available solely on partisan websites or in obscure newspapers". Editing wars have related to the passage in WP:BLP#Reliable sources beginning with that phrase and also including a phrase "including as an external link"; my proposed sentence attempts to resolve confusions already discussed at length by many editors (not just two to four editors). --NYScholar 20:15, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

(edit conflict)The proposed sentence also removes the very problematic "either as sources or via external links (see above)." and, as I say above, I recommend that the "see above" which links to WP:BLP#External links appear lower down in the later section on "websites" (already quoted: just see the policy WP:BLP#Sources. --NYScholar 20:20, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

[Comments reposted from above]

I do not really see an improvement in the wording. Sorry. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 19:57, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
I don't either. The proposed version is very clunky and repetitive as well (e.g. we should exercise caution when considering, not be cautious in considering, if the material is ... they should not use this material, etc.). I think the use of the passive voice is appropriate in this instance. Notmyrealname 20:01, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
I disagree with the change as well, on several grounds. The existing language is fine as it is. The proposed revision is unnecessarily wordy. It is harder to understand than the original. It embodies a misunderstanding about the nature of sourcing and linking - NYScholar has been arguing that language like this will prohibit external links to pages forbidden as sources. "Elsewhere in Wikipedia" overreaches the scope of BLP policy because it is not limited to information about living people: certain publications may (or may not, depending on how one reads it) are banned as sources about anything on Wikipedia because they contain information about living people. "or as sources" creates a complex, indirect ban in the same way. If we don't mean for the BLP policy to ban certain publications entirely, without regard to what they are used for, we should not adopt language that seems to do this. If we do mean such a ban we should do so in clear, explicit language. Wikidemo 20:03, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

I have no objection at all with people trying to improve the language that I suggest. I still think that the phrase ""either as sources or via external links (see above)." is problematic and misplaced in WP:BLP#Sources. As I say above, I still recommend that the "see above" which links to WP:BLP#External links appear lower down in the later section on "websites" (already quoted: just see the policy WP:BLP#Sources. --NYScholar 20:22, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Once again (sigh): I have not "been arguing" what Wikidemo states that I have "been arguing"; my comments repeatedly state that he is misinterpreting what my sentence states and what I intend to state in it. --NYScholar 20:24, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

"elsewhere in Wikipedia" is referring back to "material about living persons" and using sources for "material about living persons" that are "questionable" (not reliable and/or not verifiable) or using sources that are "of dubious value"; WP:BLP already states that one cannot do that anywhere in Wikipedia in the lead of the policy statement. I have also (earlier) stated that I think it is better to state a policy in positive terms (what one can do) not in negative terms (what one cannot do); but in that this part of the policy statement focuses on what not to do (albeit in passive voice), I have adapted to that fact. I would prefer that a positive statement not a negative statement appear in WP:BLP#Reliable sources. But, given the negative statement, I have tried to work with it. --NYScholar 20:28, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

I added a phrase "biographical material about living persons" (which is what I have intended all along and the referent for "material about living persons" throughout WP:BLP: scroll up to beginning of the policy page. --NYScholar 20:32, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Revised version of sentence above (Please comment)

"Editors should be cautious in exercise caution in when considering whether or not to include in Wikipedia material about living persons that they find only in questionable sources or in sources of dubious value; if the material about living persons from such sources is derogatory, they editors should not use this material it or these sources at all in biographies of living persons or in biographical material about living persons elsewhere in Wikipedia." --NYScholar 20:33, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

[My changes proposed here and below (as time goes on) are in response to comments by others. --NYScholar 20:57, 7 September 2007 (UTC)]
Strike-outs and incorporated suggestions by others. This is consistent with policy lede. --NYScholar 08:20, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

Example of a positive version

[Revised further:] "Editors should be cautious in exercise caution when considering whether or not to include in Wikipedia material about living persons that they find in questionable sources or in sources of dubious value, especially if it is derogatory. They should use If editors do use derogatory biographical material about living persons that is derogatory,in Wikipedia only if they can must document it only with reliable, verifiable, notable sources. in compliance with all Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines, including the rest of this policy." --NYScholar 20:42, 7 September 2007 (UTC) [added "including the rest of this policy" (which deals with websites and external links to them, etc.). --NYScholar 20:47, 7 September 2007 (UTC) [Added strikeout and incorporated suggestions from others. --NYScholar 08:36, 8 September 2007 (UTC)]

[See also: WP:BLP#Well known public figures, which has some important information pertaining to points of view about them. --NYScholar 20:48, 7 September 2007 (UTC)]

No to both proposals. Disagree on grounds of style, content, and interpretation. This discussion is unnecessarily persistent, convoluted, and long. So please consider that a standing objection to any change in the language of the policy along these lines. If and when there is a stable, concrete proposal put up for comment I will consider it. Wikidemo 20:51, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

This is a discussion page; please do not stifle discussion. All participants are equal in Wikipedia. Please keep that in mind. Thank you. --NYScholar 20:54, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

What????Wikidemo 20:58, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
I don't see how any of these versions add any improvements over the existing version. Telling people that they have to comply with all policies and guidelines in Wikipedia is hardly helpful or necessary. Notmyrealname 20:59, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Please understand: I welcome your (everyone's) comments; I just don't welcome nastiness (from anyone). I appreciate any constructive discussion. Thanks. --NYScholar 21:05, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Yet another civility warning for NYScholar (the third or fourth), and a request to assume good faith. For saying my comment is "nasty" and "unproductive." Please stop sniping at me on this talk page. Wikidemo 21:26, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

My concerns about the wording relate to readers of it who are inexperienced or new Wikipedia editors or other users (including the subjects of biographies of living persons--the living persons who may be encountering "material about living persons" pertaining to themselves in Wikipedia). For all such users, links to policies and guidelines can be helpful. That is my thinking. --NYScholar 21:08, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

For an example of the concerns of such a subject (apparently), please see 15 (an archived discussion of my own talk page). The user was not experienced in Wikipedia and was making references to WP:BLP in what appears to be a discussion with administrators in Wikipedia re: an entry about (what appears to be) himself, having encountred an editing war about the article about (what appears to be) himself by another user or users editing only that article. The changes made to WP:BLP recently (since August 12/13) can be very confusing for such users/living persons subjects. Thanks. --NYScholar 21:20, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

NYScholar: This sounds a bit like a monologue. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:31, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Jossi: Did you consult the dialogue in the archive page (15) linked above as an example of my concerns? That entire matter concerning a WP:BLP and "contentious" and disputed "material about a living person" in Wikipedia articles and talk space and editing histories may still need administrative assistance. There is still an active link to the article being disputed in another user's (Ovid Plastering)'s [Actually, it's in the anon IP user's talk page, where the other user placed it] talk page (Wikipedia space) and in editing histories. I would appreciate your and other administrators' helping with that situation if you can. Resolving it appears to me to be not a editorial matter but an administrative matter. (I had posted a request on your talk page about problems re: this WP:BLP project page but got no response a couple of days ago.) Thanks. --NYScholar 23:45, 7 September 2007 (UTC) [corr. as updated. --NYScholar 09:41, 8 September 2007 (UTC)]

WP:BLP/N addition

I have posted about Murray Waas to the WP:BLP/N so that seasoned administrators (I hope) can consider it. I myself do not have time to deal with it any further. --NYScholar 00:02, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

regardless of any problems with this particular article, the proposed addition is instruction creep at best, and entirely unnecessary. BLP is a specific policy of its own, and should be kept as specific as possible. As worded, the proposal would permit unilateral deletions of any WP article about a living person for all alleged reason whatsoever. DGG (talk) 05:06, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

[DGG: could you move this comment above this section to the section w/ the proposal version that you are responding to? Thanks. --NYScholar 08:23, 8 September 2007 (UTC)]

Please see "revised version" above (w/ strikeouts, incorporated suggestions by others. Thanks. --NYScholar 08:23, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

Resulting sentence (positive version): Please comment

"Editors should exercise caution when considering whether or not to include in Wikipedia material about living persons that they find in questionable sources or in sources of dubious value, especially if it is derogatory. If editors do use derogatory biographical material about living persons in Wikipedia, they must document it with reliable, verifiable, notable sources." --NYScholar 08:36, 8 September 2007 (UTC) [Sorry forgot link; added it. --NYScholar 08:38, 8 September 2007 (UTC)]

[Reminder: the pertinent section is: WP:BLP#Reliable sources. --NYScholar 08:42, 8 September 2007 (UTC)]

Whew. I just read all the drama which had occurred on this talk page since I last visited it. I apologize if my lack of comment delayed closure on this subject: I dropped by after Wikidemo had changed the wording to include "sources of dubious value" and closed the conversation, and thought that the situation was resolved. My bad.

For the record: I don't object strongly to the current wording of the sentence (that is: Material about living persons available solely in questionable sources or sources of dubious value should be handled with caution, and, if derogatory, should not be used at all in biographies of living people, either as sources or via external links (see above).) I still think that the distinction NYScholar is drawing between "questionable sources" (regarding verifiability) and "sources of dubious value" (regarding notability) is not one that will be immediately clear to readers, but I don't feel strongly enough about it to make a fuss.

Also, for the record, I don't think that the proposed change to the active voice improves the sentence. One advantage of the active voice over the passive is that the passive often lends itself to circumlocution and imprecision; however, the phrase "...should exercise caution when considering whether or not to include" is far more circumlocutive than the current phrasing. That said, the second sentence NYScholar proposes (If editors do use derogatory biographical material about living persons in Wikipedia, they must document it with reliable, verifiable, notable sources.) may be a useful addition and/or clarification to the policy. That said, the active voice in that sentence suggests that the responsibility for finding sources belongs solely to the editor who adds information. It's true that the onus for providing sources is on the editor who adds information, but there's also a sense in which it is the responsibility of any editor who works on a biographical article to ensure that all derogatory information is well sourced. Because of that element of shared responsibility, I wonder whether the passive voice would be more appropriate as well. That would result in the following:

Material about living persons available solely in questionable sources or sources of dubious value should be handled with caution, and, if derogatory, should not be used at all in biographies of living people, either as sources or via external links (see above). All derogatory biographical material about living persons in Wikipedia must be documented with reliable, verifiable, notable sources.

Would this be a compromise acceptable to NYScholar and other editors? —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 19:33, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

Thank you very much for this very thoughtful reply. The answer to your question "Would this be a compromise acceptable to NYScholar ..." is Yes. Thanks again. --NYScholar 20:58, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
Re: your specific comment concerning "sources of dubious value":
At times I have thought of linking to "verifiability" ("Official Policy") or "notability" (an editing content guideline) there. But I now wonder if the best possibility to direct readers to what the term means may be the "dubious" template: e.g., "sources of dubious value." I would suggest that one add the link to the current version of the sentence whether or not it changes otherwise. (Earlier I also explained that "dubious" appears in Wikipedia:Disputed statement as well and that in Wikipedia "dubious" means "disputed" [doubted, questionable; hence, "of questionable value"; parallel to [but not precisely the same as] "questionable sources". That's why I do not see the phrase "sources of dubious value" as redundant [as discussed earlier in archived sec. above]. --NYScholar 20:58, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
Josiah Rowe (and others): Do you think that adding a link to the dubious template or a link to Wikipedia:Disputed statement (in phrase "sources of dubious value") as just suggested would be an improvement? [If so, please indicate which link you prefer; or, if another, which one is preferable to them.] --NYScholar 21:02, 8 September 2007 (UTC) [updated w/ links --NYScholar 21:07, 8 September 2007 (UTC)].
Less objectionable but the added sentence is unnecessary and a little inaccurate, so still a step in the wrong direction. All material on Wikipedia needs reliable sources. We don't need to restate that here, and I don't think unsourced derogatory material is a real problem - it gets deleted on sight as it is. Further, sources are not "verifiable" or "notable". Verifiability applies to factual claims made. Notable applies to the subjects of articles, not their sources. No point linking to procedural templates in a policy statement. Wikidemo 21:35, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

[Additional clarification/explanation: There is a difference between entirely "unsourced" material and "poorly sourced" material. This section of WP:BLP (WP:BLP#Sources) addresses [both "unsourced" and?] "poorly sourced" "derogatory" "material about living persons" (the nature and quality of the sources provided to document the material [statements]), which is (was) the subject of the paragraph in question in WP:BLP#Reliable sources (see editing history). The sentence in the "compromise" proposed by Josiah Rowe emphasizes the necessity for editors to provide what elsewhere--see WP:V--Wikipedia policy calls "impeccable" sources: these are (in Wikipedia terminology) "reliable, verifiable, notable sources" [restrictive commas intended]. (See WP:V, WP:Reliable sources, and Wikipedia:Notability for reference; further explanation in my "Note" archived below.) I tend to prefer the more academic phrase: "Editors must document ... with sources...." to "material that is poorly sourced" (another passive construction); "sourced" and "poorly sourced" are odd constructions that one finds throughout Wikipedia. "To document" statements with sources is an action. --NYScholar 23:31, 8 September 2007 (UTC)]

Continuation of previous sentence: "To document" statements with sources is an action which someone (an editor) does (is "responsible" for doing); editors are "writers", "writing" is an "action", and the use of active voice (agent/action verb) is clearer than passive constructions masking the agents of the actions (deemphasizing editorial responsibility). I emphasize these points about the sentence constructions in WP:BLP#Reliable sources and elsewhere in this policy and others in Wikipedia because I think the emphasis is consistent with the ledes in both WP:BLP and WP:V and with emphases throughout them in quotations, citations, and notes. --NYScholar 23:43, 8 September 2007 (UTC)


External links

[Please see Archive 11. Thank you. --NYScholar 21:42, 2 September 2007 (UTC)]

Regarding the desire "to amend the page in reference to external links"

[Please see Archive 12. Thank you. --NYScholar 21:42, 2 September 2007 (UTC)]

Selective deletions and the GFDL

[This section is in Archive 13. Thank you. --NYScholar 21:48, 2 September 2007 (UTC)]

Cover the event not the person

[These three sections are in Archive 14. Thank you. --NYScholar 22:03, 2 September 2007 (UTC)]

"obscure" removal

[This section is in in Archive 14. Thank you. --NYScholar 22:52, 2 September 2007 (UTC)]

Current edit warring on this policy project page

[This section is in Archive 14. Thank you. --NYScholar 22:15, 2 September 2007 (UTC)]

Protected for 48 hours

[This section is also in Archive 14. Thank you. Repeated here due to its being an administrative notice. --NYScholar 22:15, 2 September 2007 (UTC)]

  • I have protected the page for 48 hours. There have been 8 reverts in the past 5 hours, including five in the past hour. Please work out any disagreements on the talk page. — Black Falcon (Talk) 21:28, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

WP:BLP#Reliable sources policy section itself

[This section is in Archive 14. Thank you. --NYScholar 22:15, 2 September 2007 (UTC)]

Unprotection (immediate edit) request

[This section is in Archive 14. Thank you. --NYScholar 22:15, 2 September 2007 (UTC)]

The matter of external links

[This section and related subsections are in Archive 14 [and 15]. Thank you. --NYScholar 22:15, 2 September 2007 (UTC)] [Updating archiving. --15:04, 14 September 2007 (UTC)]

Bold font

I added some bold font in the policy page, thinking that I had seen it in earlier versions and that it had been inadvertently omitted in people's revisions. But, having checked the editing history over parts of July/August, I don't find it in earlier versions; e.g., 15059912. It apears that heavy editing and some edit warring perhaps was going on in the period of July to August 2007 (and post-August 12). Nevertheless, I think the bold print is helpful (given the bold print in the next paragraph and earlier). I think it is a typographical improvement. I hope that no one objects to my adding it. --NYScholar 00:36, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

At some point we will copy-edit this page and likely make the format consistent, work on section headings, and get rid of all markup used for emphasis. Project-wide, using markup for emphasis of policy statements is unhelpful. But for now I'm not even thinking about these kinds of stylistic issues. Wikidemo 03:55, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

What about italics instead of bold print (when the time comes)? --NYScholar 04:54, 9 September 2007 (UTC) I changed the bold that is inconsistent with Wikipedia Style Manual [to] italics. --NYScholar 05:00, 9 September 2007 (UTC) [tc sorry. --NYScholar 05:25, 9 September 2007 (UTC)]

Oh, it's not that important but I think it's mainly a question of legibility. There's a guideline page somewhere that urges people to use as little markup as possible and to keep any markup use consistent. That goes for italics, offsets, bold, putting things in boxes, etc. True, it calls it out to people, but it doesn't explain to the reader why that one sentence is being emphasized over the others. Is it extra important or just too easy to ignore/overlook? Better to get it recognized through strong wording or simply trust the reader to follow all of the policies. You can also turn some things into a bullet point / numbered list, and/or move the most important items up to the front. Wikidemo 07:48, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Who is this "us"?

"please alert us on the BLP noticeboard." Who could this "us" be. Can't be the community because it talks about editors who would be part of the community alerting "us". Can't be the foundation because BLP notice board is not an accepted way of contacting the foundation. So who is it?Geni 18:45, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

I think that it just means please let everyone (in the Wikipedia community) know ("us" = everyone; many users and editors who are or are not administrators consult the Noticeboard for such "alerts"). At the top of the Noticeboard, there is a reference to "outside intervention": "This noticeboard is for reporting and discussing Biographies of living people policy issues which require outside intervention." The "us" in WP:BLP as quoted appears to be simply a general reference (to the Wikipedia community). After a notice appears in the WP:BLP/N, and then "outside intervention" occurs, I do not know who the "outside interveners" are. That is not clear to me. I thought that "administrators" (who are editors who become administrators and thus "inside" Wikipedia structure)--WP:ANOT and Wikipedia:Administrators "patrol" the WP:BLP/N to see if they and/or others need to do something about reported (purported/alleged) violations of WP:BLP. Clearly, they are not "outside" of Wikipedia. Maybe "outside intervention" refers to action taken beyond simple editing (email communication with subjects of articles, lawyers, etc.; I do not know. If "us" really is problematical, perhaps a less-problematical (and it is still only a request) would be: "... please place a notice on the BLP noticeboard." Then one would go to the WP:BLP/N to consult the procedures in the top, its links to various procedural policies and guidelines, and discuss those matters on its talk page as warranted. --NYScholar 19:49, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Changed the sentence to more coherent syntax (following the conditional clause in start of the sentence): "If you have concerns ... please report them ...." --NYScholar 20:00, 9 September 2007 (UTC) [Corrected other problems of grammar and syntax in that sentence. See editing summary. --NYScholar 01:43, 10 September 2007 (UTC)]
Eh, "us" sounds more friendly, but whatever :) -- Ned Scott 04:43, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Tbe BLP noticeboard is manned by volunteers, in the same manner of other noticeboards. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 14:40, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

sources question - CV

I have a question regarding acceptable sources when writing an article about a currently living scientist/scholar. Is it appropriate to cite the CV of such a person (which is often available at that person's website) as a source for some biographical data? Thanks, Nsk92 15:41, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

that would fall under useing the subject as a source.Geni 16:14, 12 September 2007 (UTC)
For specific language and limitations, see WP:SELFPUB. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 16:18, 12 September 2007 (UTC)
In particular, a CV at an official University site is to a considerable extent subject to public fact-checking--people who tell significant untruths there relevant to their professional activities often end up unemployed, typically with public comment in RSs. such sites are certainly OK to use for uncontroversial material. I would extent that to CVs at official sites of any sort. (There are exceptions--one borderline academic's claims about a PhD could not be verified and the article was removed at AfD for that and other reasons)DGG (talk) 17:59, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

Sexual preference

Hi. I'm wondering if it would be appropriate to add a 4.7, Privacy of sexual preferences, incorporating some of the language of the category rules, something along the lines of (abbreviated suggestion further down, in bold):

This question is inspired by recent conversations at the BLP noticeboard--should Clay Aiken be identified as gay? Should Tim LaHaye's son be identified as gay? As Steve Dufour points out, this is an issue frequently reported at that noticeboard. The language I've used may be problematic, though, because sometimes sexual preference may not be self-professed, yet still unquestioned. Matthew Shepard's sexual preference is highly relevant to his notability. If Mathew's mother were to spearhead a foundation in his honor, mention of her son's sexual preference would certainly be relevant, if not self-identified. I am very open to input on the suggested change and the wording. :) --Moonriddengirl 15:17, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

It would be most helpful to have some guidelines on this. Material relating to Aiken's sexual preference (his response to continual gossip and innuendo) was deleted from his bio months ago by neutral, uninvolved editors on the basis of BLP, but now other editors are determined to return it. They make some valid arguments, but arguments that are just as valid about privacy, "Wikipedia is not a tabloid," and the like are not being heard or respected. -Jmh123 16:29, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Way to long to be included so no.Geni 18:20, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

It can be edited down. :) Do you object to the principle or just the length?--Moonriddengirl 18:24, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
sexual preferences CATs are already mentioned. Sexual preferences mentions in articles should follow the normal standards. I would tend to view any specific mention as bloat.Geni 18:37, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Respectfully, I disagree. The CAT standard specifies that its purpose is because "Category names do not carry disclaimers or modifiers." It could easily be argued from that that a disclaimer or modifier excuses speculation in articles as long as an assertion of sexual preference is sourced. As I mentioned, we see a lot of this kind of thing over at the BLP noticeboard. Even if the language were reduced quite extensively it might still be useful; for example, "Information regarding sexual preference of the subject or the subject's associates should not be included unless the sexual preference is relevant to the subject's notable activities or public life and is well documented by reliable published sources." I do think some expansion would be useful in keeping down speculation about the Clay Aikens and Tim LaHaye Jrs of the world. In the alternative, if the Category rule is meant to also apply to articles, that needs to be specified in the policy. --Moonriddengirl 18:54, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Covered under "editors should exercise restraint and include only material relevant to their notability" and all the stuff already on the page about RS.Geni 18:59, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Also note that the Clay Aiken article is currently the subject of an RfC. The real topic is NOT his sexuality, but reliable third party sources that document the notability of the questions about it. Subtle but important distinction. So far, every uninvolved commenting editor has been in favor of including the material. See forum shopping. Pairadox 19:37, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
I mentioned on the BLP noticeboard here [8] that there was an RfC as the disputed material was originally removed under BLP. I did so at 16:22, 8 September 2007 yesterday. At the time there were two responses to the RfC--check the timestamps. My comment there did not suggest what the correct response should be. My comment here states that there are valid arguments on both sides of the question. -Jmh123 20:08, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
I asked a similar question of Wikipedia:WikiProject LGBT studies, in reference to whether celebrity chef Jeremiah Tower should be attached to their project or on their list of gay people. They said sure, the more the merrier. He makes no secret of being gay and clearly does not consider the matter scandalous or derogatory...well, a little scandalous in the sense that he writes salacious details of who he slept with in his own biography. In fact, he's such a controversial figure in the food world that it takes a lot of effort to get a sober, dignified BLP article. As important as his sexuality is to his personal life and perhaps his career it has nothing to do with his notability or abilities as a chef, so there is simply no point mentioning it in the article. However, it's only fair for the LGBT project to claim him as one of their own for purposes of a list of notable gay people. Not sure how the two intersect. There's a similar issue with well-known Jews, or Muslims, or Polish Americans, and with some of the location-based wikiprojects. Some people who happen to live in a particular city but whose notability is not at all connected to where they live get listed in the wikiproject or category for their home city, but it's not significant enough to put in the article. Why should sexual preference be a matter of "restraint" if birthplace or religion is not? It sounds like we may be enforcing some kind of a bias here. The obvious difference has to do with societal attitudes towards sexual preference, as opposed to birthplace. Wikidemo 19:55, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
That's a good point, and may make this topic a particularly tricky matter to handle. Perhaps it does relate to the subject's own profession of sexual preference, which is a requirement for the use of categories. Rosie O'Donnell rose to fame as a comedienne, but her openness about her sexuality and her involvement in LGBT issues makes her sexual preference suitable for inclusion in her article--in fact, it becomes notable because of her political activism. On the other hand, even if there were a reputable source for Clay Aikens' sexual preference, he apparently prefers not to have the matter discussed. And assignment of sexual preference is not necessarily only about straight/gay ideation. One of the other examples I had in mind (but did not use because even using it violates BLP) is a comedian who was arrested on charges of possessing child pornography. The incident, and his statements about it, are included in his article, but there's no assertion made there that he is a pedophile. This is why in my expanded proposal I mentioned that behavior may be reported on, but that conclusions cannot be drawn about it. (Another example: one of the recent disputes brought to BLP:Noticeboard concerned Larry Craig and his recent arrest. Clearly, mention of the incident is acceptable. Speculation about Craig's sexual preferences is not.) I wonder if it would be less of a bias issue to mimic the category language almost completely: "Identification of a living person's religious beliefs and sexual preference should be avoided unless the subject self-identifies with the belief or preference in question in a reliable published source." --Moonriddengirl 20:19, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
I agree that it doesn't make sense to pick out individual characteristics for special treatment. We could easily create a list of forbidden topics - orientation, religion, medical issues, political stances, ethnicity, use of hair coloring, name of spouse, birthplace, etc. The standards of verifiability and no original research are our core guides. We should be very hesitant to censor information. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 20:21, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Sexuality and religion are already set aside for special treatment in categories. I'm not sure why specific mention of them in policy with regards to articles is any more restrictive than that. I'm not advocating suppressing information and recognize that this problem would virtually disappear if editors stuck to sound sources. But in the spirit of BLP, we are urged to write "conservatively" and with respect for individual privacy. Currently, sexual orientation is regarded by many as a private matter. I believe that its frequent use in articles as "sensationalist" material does warrant special notice. Note that hair color is unlikely to be mentioned in a libel suit (And also this and this, but apparently it's okay in Massachussetts.) --Moonriddengirl 20:38, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
(Response to Moonriddengirl question at top)Notability and verifiability. Has their sexual (porported) preferences informed or otherwise effected their life, and is there reliable third party sources for it? If the answers to both are yes, then it is both relevant and allowable under WP:BLP. Otherwise, no. LessHeard vanU 20:45, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
I would also add that we need a self-declaration of such sexual preference in BLPs. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 20:50, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Part of the problem is in interperting notability and the clouding of reliable third party sources. Speculation by gossip bloggers and tabloids that is commented on by reliable sources should not be used to validate the speculation. Maria202 20:58, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
What do we mean by "self-identify". If we accept "I am a Baptist" would we accept "I am not a Baptist"? How about "I won't talk about my faith except to say that I'm not a Baptist"? There's a difference between Wikipedia saying, "Person X is a Baptist", and saying "Person X has talked about his Baptist experience." Would we forbid any mention of a subject's comments on religion if he hasn't made some positive affirmation of his specific religous affiliation? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 20:58, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
We do? How does that square with people who have had their lives, etc. effected by untrue (unproven, even) allegations regarding sexual preferences? If someone identifies as enjoying BDSM then, yes, we had best find a link quoting them. If someone has had their career effected by being alleged to have partaken in BDSM activities then you will not find a self-declaration, but it is relevant and may be referenced. LessHeard vanU 21:07, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, that's why I specified in my first suggestion (which one editor may rightly feel is too long) "Sexual behavior may be notable and reported without speculation about preference. (Example, it may be reported that a pop star has been convicted of sexual activity with a minor, but that pop star may not be labeled a "pedophile".)" It's all right to note that Larry Craig pleaded guilty to soliciting in a men's room, but we can't assert that he is gay. Similarly, it may very well be okay to say "New York Times questioned Pop Singer X about persistent rumors of homosexuality in July 2020. Pop Singer X stated firmly that he prefers not to publicly discuss his sexuality" as long as weight considerations are kept in mind.--Moonriddengirl 21:13, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm broadly in agreement, although with the last example it should be understood that there must have been a material change in the (perception) of Pop Singer X's career or personal life following the NYT interview, otherwise it is not relevant to the article about PSX. That brings me back to my original comment. LessHeard vanU 21:21, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
It's not clear to me how the above point is expressed in the proposed text below. If there is no reliable source regarding X's orientation, no precipitating event (an arrest, e.g.), no declaration of preference, but gossip is sufficiently widespread that the NYT asks about X about sexual preference and X declines to declare an orientation, then the interview itself has made no material change in the perception of X's career or personal life. According to the version below, if I understand it correctly, one could make the argument that the rumors are notable enough that the question was asked, thus the topic is relevant. Do you see the difference? -Jmh123 22:08, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

We should consider a person's sexual preference like the person's address. Wikipedia should generally not write about it, except when it has specific notability related to the person. A person's address has specific notability when having famous neighbours, for example. User:Krator (t c) 21:30, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Sexual preference provision suggestion #2

Aiming for brevity and clarity, building on above discussion, 4.7 or some other number, Privacy of sexual preferences, something along the lines of

I'm sure that's still too long. I'm not always good at writing brief. :) --Moonriddengirl 21:38, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

It is better to be clear than concise. I would suggest that the last sentence is placed before the example, as it forms part of the advice. Otherwise I think it is a working model. LessHeard vanU 21:44, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
So rearranged. :) --Moonriddengirl 21:49, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
That looks reasonable on the whole, but I don't think "included" is the right word. "Stated" or "asserted" might be better terms. We aren't forbidding inclusion of any discussion of sexual orientation or religious beliefs, just the flat declaration that a subject has a certain orientation or religion unless there's been a statement by the subject on the topic. ·:· Will Beback ·:· —Preceding unsigned comment added by Will Beback (talkcontribs) 22:04, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Seems like a good suggestion to me. --Moonriddengirl 22:07, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

A restateing of what is already on the page. There is simply no point in adding it unless you are trying to make the page so long no one will read it.Geni 03:16, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

I don't see where on the page it says "Sexual preference should not be asserted unless self-professed in a reliable, published source". --Moonriddengirl 12:25, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
I am concerned about how the word "asserted" will be interperted versus using the word "included". Asserted means you can include as long as it's not stated as fact. Include means leave it out unless self-identified. Completely different meanings. Maria202 13:56, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
I thought such a thing is already covered pretty blatantly in the lede.
"Unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material — whether negative, positive, or just questionable — about living persons should be removed immediately and without discussion from Wikipedia.
"An important rule of thumb when writing biographical material about living persons is "do no harm". Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a tabloid; it is not our job to be sensationalist, or to be the primary vehicle for the spread of titillating claims about people's lives. Biographies of living persons (BLP) must be written conservatively, with regard for the subject's privacy."
Appears crystal clear to me. I think this policy is already too long. We can't, and shouldn't attempt to, include every possible example. A good rule of thumb is, if the policy already explicitly disallows such things, there's generally little to no need to spell out the specific example. Vassyana 13:58, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
Respectfully, I think if policy were crystal clear, there wouldn't be quite so much debate going on here/ :) But I'll add you to the side of thinking it redundant. --Moonriddengirl 14:32, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
The debate "here" probably doesn't concern the exact issue covered by your proposed text. I wouldn't take it as a useful example of the common problem. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 21:23, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Current opinions seem to be

This is growing a bit complicated. :) In an effort to determine if pursuing policy clarification is beneficial, I'm going to try to figure out how much support there is for such a change. In terms of incorporating a policy, we seem to have three completely against (User:Geni, User:Ned Scott), & Vassyana. There are six who seem to believe some kind of guideline is appropriate (User:Maria202, User:Jmh123, User:Jossi, User:Krator, User:Dicklyon, and me. There's two undecided or unconvinced: User:Wikidemo and User:Will Beback. There's one neutral User:LessHeard vanU. There are two on whose positions on including specific reference I'm unclear: User:BCST2001 and User:Aquillion. Obviously, I do believe that inclusion of some specific guideline is relevant. I think the discussion that's been taking place here is evidence in itself that policy is not easily interpreted. (Updated at 17:38 on September 10)--Moonriddengirl 16:21, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Sorry. Add me to the list in favor of including specific reference. You can move this comment somewhere else if I put it in the wrong place. Maria202 13:34, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
No, not at all. :) I just want to be very careful to avoid reading too much into other people's comments, especially when it supports my position. :D --Moonriddengirl 14:29, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm against adding anything because I remain unconvinced that the problem is significant, and also out of concerns that it's biased to single out sexual orientation as a subject that's considered scandalous. There are several more analytic steps we have to take before we should even think about adding a new policy section, even if we decide it is an issue. We have to define the scope of the problem, where it comes from, exactly what mechanism to use to prevent it, and whether any proposed prohibition against something would over-exclude valid information. I also caution if the intent is to gauge where the majority opinion lies, votes and polls aren't a good way to make policy, and that refactoring the comments of people who aren't even aware they would be taken as a vote is particularly unreliable. Inasmuch as this is a policy page, we have to be cautious and make sure there is wide consensus on a point not just here but other places that might be affected (e.g. the sexuality and LGBT wikiprojects). miWikidemo 15:49, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
I did publicize this discussion at Village Pump in the hopes of broadcasting the issue to others in the community. I'm all for making sure that everybody who might have an interest is involved. And my intention with the above is not to conclude with an "Okay, 10 for; 8 against. Let's go!" :) I am trying to determine if there is sufficient support for clarification to proceed with the discussion and clarify what objections there are and how they might be addressed. The conversation has grown a little sprawling, and I'm hoping to regain some focus on the original question of whether or not a policy clarification is appropriate. The chaotic nature of internet discussions makes it difficult to maintain focus. (Or at least that was my experience on On list guidelines, which eventually just trailed away.) I had not intended to "refactor" the page as I understand the term, as the original content is all still right here. But as you seem to think the way I've presented it may be confusing or objectionable, and that's not what I'm after, I'll gladly restructure it. --Moonriddengirl 16:21, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
Okay, thanks for the clarification. In that context I think the discussion to date reveals that it's worth taking the proposal seriously, and depending on where that goes I'm not averse to putting something in the policy page once discussion has run its course. So you can properly call me cautious and undecided, not against it. Wikidemo 16:28, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
So noted. Thanks for clarifying your position. --Moonriddengirl 16:33, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

My view is that the language proposed reflects current practice and so it may not be necessary to include it in the policy. The need for it could be established by reviewing actual instances in which editors were unable to agree on whether to make a declaration about the sexual orientation of a subject. If we decide we need to make a policy addition I'd like to see it expanded to include religion, a topic that generates at least as much controversy as sexual orientation, and which likewise depends ultimately on self-identification by the subject. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 21:11, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

I have no opinion on whether there should be such a wording, I am helping with the language and clarity. I am willing to go with the consensus, and ensure the wording is as clear as possible meanwhile. LessHeard vanU 21:29, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
Thank you both for clarifying your positions. --Moonriddengirl 21:39, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Is this a real issue?

Is unwarranted speculation and identification of people's sexual preference a significant problem here on Wikipedia? To avoid rule creep I would hold the line on proposals to add things in BLP that are not real, widespread issues that existing policy is inadequate to handle. Wikidemo 22:20, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Yes, persistently in a number of bios I am familiar with. Ricky Martin, Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Clay Aiken, John Travolta, Richard Gere, Tom Cruise, Jodie Foster, Queen Latifah, there's just a few. -Jmh123 22:26, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Except for random editors adding "he's gay"-type text, I don't think we've made assertions about the sexual orientations of those people. Am I wrong? Does Wikipedia go beyond the subjects' own statements in any of those articles? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 23:10, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Speculation gets dragged in a lot. Tabloids and gossip bloggers are constantly creating "controversary" and "notability" which when picked up by legitimate media sources is used to circumvent the BLP by some editors. Maria202 23:35, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Poorly sourced derogatory information is already prohibited by the policy. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 23:43, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
This is absolutely true, of course, but as being gay is not inherently derogatory (though I presume we all recognize that in western society it can be very damaging in certain professions...say fundamentalist ministry) the provision that reads "if derogatory, should not be used at all" may not be sufficient for covering this situation. That leaves "should be handled with caution", which may not be strong enough, since definitions of caution may vary widely. I myself have most recently encountered the situation in Talk:Tim_LaHaye#Gay_Son. In that argument, the editor who wished to insert the claim that LaHaye's son was gay was eventually convinced that the source was insufficient. If self-identification were a required criteria, it would have been a much simpler matter to defuse. --Moonriddengirl 23:53, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Actually, the policy calls for all unsourced or poorly sourced contentious information to be removed, whether positive or negative. In the LaHay case it appears that poor sources were being advanced as reliable. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 00:47, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
The problem is caused by a lack of understanding or care about the notability requirements under WP:BLP. Editors who for one reason or another have an interest in including material about the sexuality of a biographical subject come up with any justification they can to say the material is notable. They may argue, for instance, that people are "interested" in whether somebody is gay or straight, that it is a matter of great importance to fans of the subject, that Person X + gay comes up with 8 billion Google hits, etc. What these editors fail to grasp is that such arguments completely fail to establish the notability of the sexuality of the subject. But because they stick to such arguments, they then proclaim that if they can find a source for such material, then it must surely be included as sourced and notable. In short, the problem exists, and is caused by poor comprehension and enforcement of WP:BLP. Whether this lack of comprehension and enforcement can be remedied in such instances by specific mention in policy of the issue of sexuality is a legitimate question. BCST2001 00:54, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
I suppose the notability requirement WP:BLP for a puiblic figure is this line:
  • If an allegation or incident is notable, relevant, and well-documented by reliable published sources, it belongs in the article — even if it's negative and the subject dislikes all mention of it.
If something has been noted repeatedly in the mainstream media that is a good indication of its notability. Does that standard need to be changed? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 01:00, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
I thought that's what the whole "controversy regarding sexual preference" bit was meant to cover. :) It's one thing for an article to say, "Allegations have been made in this&that reputable source that soandso is gay" and another to say "soandso is gay." --Moonriddengirl 01:08, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Will Beback, the line you quote does not establish the standard for notability; rather, it simply presumes and refers to that standard. This is the whole problem. People in fact ignore what the standard of notability is, and proceed directly to the question of whether it has been noted in the media. Whether something appears in the media and whether it is notable in terms of Wikipedia and WP:BLP are two different questions. Notability has to mean, according to WP:BLP, notability in relation to the subject of the entry. Where the material is contentious, controversial, or insensitive, the notability criterion becomes crucial. If the material does not directly concern the reasons for the notability of the subject, and the material is contentious, controversial, or insensitive, it should be excluded. That is why there are two different examples given: one concerns a politician and one concerns a messy divorce. In the case of a politician, the reasons for their notability (running for public office) mean that sexual scandal may indeed need to be included in the article. In the case of many (indeed most) other biographical entries, details of messy divorcees, sexual scandals, or speculation or innuendo about sexual orientation are simply not notable, may often be contentious or insensitive, and thus must, most of the time, be excluded. This is what editors fail to understand or enforce, but policy on the matter is in fact quite clear. BCST2001 01:09, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Could you be so good as to quote the notability standard you're referring to? I don't see the text you're talking about. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 01:11, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
Do you mean the text from this example (which talks about "importance" rather than "notability")?
  • Is it important to the article, and has it been published by third-party reliable sources? If not, leave it out.
Obviously if the material doesn't come from a reliable source we shouldn't use it. The matter of "importance" is harder to judge, but again we should reluy on third-party sources to guide us. If something has been mentioned often in mainstream media sourcees it may be presumed to be important. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 01:18, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

This seems like instructions creep to me as well. Including or excluding sexual preference doesn't seem like an issue. If the information is private, without proper sources, and isn't relevant, then it's unlikely that we'll desire to include it. If someone comes along and tries to use this information as an attack or as vandalism, we can remove it simply for being an attack. -- Ned Scott 04:12, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Contentious material must be directly relevant to the notability of the subject

Will Beback, the most relevant parts of WP:BLP are the following (I have placed some of the most important parts in bold type for your benefit):

  • Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a tabloid; it is not our job to be sensationalist, or to be the primary vehicle for the spread of titillating claims about people's lives. Biographies of living persons (BLP) must be written conservatively, with regard for the subject's privacy.
  • The burden of evidence for any edit on Wikipedia, but especially for edits about living persons, rests firmly on the shoulders of the person who adds or restores the material.
  • Biographies of living people should be written responsibly, conservatively, and in a neutral, encyclopedic tone.
  • Biographies of living persons should not have trivia sections. Instead, relevant sourced claims should be woven into the article.
  • Editors should also be on the lookout for biased or malicious content about living persons. If someone appears to be pushing an agenda or a biased point of view, insist on reliable third-party published sources and a clear demonstration of relevance to the person's notability.
  • Editors should avoid repeating gossip. Ask yourself whether the source is reliable; whether the material is being presented as true; and whether, even if true, it is relevant to an encyclopedia article about the subject.
  • Editors should also be careful of a feedback loop in which an unsourced and speculative contention in a Wikipedia article gets picked up, with or without attribution, in an otherwise-reliable newspaper or other media story, and that story is then cited in the Wikipedia article to support the original speculative contention.
  • Editors should remove any contentious material about living persons that is unsourced, relies upon sources that do not meet standards specified in Wikipedia:Verifiability, or is a conjectural interpretation of a source (see Wikipedia:No original research). If the material is derogatory and unsourced or poorly sourced, the three-revert rule does not apply to its removal.
  • An important rule of thumb when writing biographical material about living persons is "do no harm". Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a tabloid, and as such it is not our job to be sensationalist, or to be the primary vehicle for the spread of titillating claims about people's lives. BLPs must be written conservatively, with regard for the subject's privacy.

Please note especially the line requiring "a clear demonstration of relevance to the person's notability." This is specifically state that contentious material must be clearly demonstrated to be relevant to the person's notability, that is, it cannot simply be incidental to that notability. Without that clear demonstration it must be excluded. Thus, as I have stated, in most cases the sexuality of a person is not relevant to their notability (politicians being a notable exception to this). But this one line should not be looked at in isolation either. The entirety of the section I have cited must be considered as a whole, as well as the entire rationale for WP:BLP. It is the precise goal of WP:BLP as a whole to make possible this kind of exclusion. BCST2001 01:27, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Are we still talking about user:Moonriddengirl's proposed text? Apparently not. I think we're talking about the Clay Aiken now. Let's look at the text you quote, in context:
  • Content should be sourced to reliable sources and should be about the subject of the article specifically. Beware of claims that rely on guilt by association. Editors should also be on the lookout for biased or malicious content about living persons. If someone appears to be pushing an agenda or a biased point of view, insist on reliable third-party published sources and a clear demonstration of relevance to the person's notability.
So we should only include information that is relevant to the subject of the article, obviously. Sexual orientation is indeed relevant to every individual besides children and celibates. The last sentence is problematic: "If someone appears to be pushing an agenda or a biased point of view, insist on reliable third-party published sources and a clear demonstration of relevance to the person's notability." This appears to be based on a determination of an editors apparent aims, which may not be a helpful editing criteria. Finally, how can we demonstrate relevance to a person's notability? Take the example of a pop singer. Is his religious faith relevant to his notability? Is his choice of charities? Is his birthplace? His year of birth? If we take that line seriously most of the mundane biographical information would be removed and we'd be left with the singer's discography and media appearances. We could simply replace the article with a link to the subject's website. I think we should try to clarify that language in the policy to avoid reaching an absurd conclusion ·:· Will Beback ·:· 01:43, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
Will Beback, the point is not that somebody's birthday or religion must be proven to be relevant to the reasons for their notability. The point is that contentious, controversial, and insensitive material must be relevant to the reasons for their notability. If that relevance cannot be demonstrated, then contentious, controversial or insensitive material should be excluded. The argument that sexual orientation is "relevant" to the subject is ignoring that what must be demonstrated is that the material must be relevant to the reasons for the subject's notability, not relevant to them personally. Writing conservatively and responsibly means using the judgment required to exclude insensitive or contentious material which is not directly relevant to the subject's notability. I hope this clarifies an important point for you. BCST2001 01:52, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
The policy doesn't say "contentious, controversial, and insensitive material must be relevant to the reasons for their notability". Are you proposing we alter the policy to add that? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 02:01, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
It is very clear to me that that is precisely what policy says, and that there is no other way of understanding what this policy says that makes any sense and retains the rationale for the policy. BCST2001 02:04, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
I think your interpretation of the policy conflicts with its plain language: "If an allegation or incident is notable, relevant, and well-documented by reliable published sources, it belongs in the article — even if it's negative and the subject dislikes all mention of it." ·:· Will Beback ·:· 02:11, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
There is no conflict: the material must be notable. BCST2001 02:17, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
Will Beback, the mistake you are making is to fixate on the one part of WP:BLP that you consider favours your wish to include discussion of the sexuality of biographical subjects, but not to pay attention to whatever is problematic to that wish, nor to the totality of WP:BLP as a whole. The policy requirement to write conservatively, sensitively and responsibly means that editors ought not be trying to find whatever wafer thin rationale they can to include something, but need to really reflect on whether Wikipedia and the biographical subject are served by inclusion of contentious material or not. Furthermore, the policy clearly and explicitly states that material must be relevant to the notability of the subject. Wherever that is not clear, material should be excluded. Editors who refuse to acknowledge that sexuality is a sensitive and frequently contentious issue for editors and subjects ought to refrain from editing biographical entries. BCST2001 02:30, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
"Relevant to the notability of the subject" would typically exclude birthplace, ethnicity, religion, family, education and other biographical details. We should avoid over-using that criteria. Certainly Wikipedia editorrs need to make sure that material in biographies of lviing people is sourced only to relaible sources, that it svoids speculation, and that it be worded sensitively. However we should not exclude well-sourced information about a subject that's presented in a neutral manner just because a subject has said that he finds the topic upsetting. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 02:43, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
You say it would "typically exclude" those things. I don't see why, as those things typically aren't contentious. If they are contentious in some specific case, then obviously the question is why, and whether that is legitimate. It seems to me like you are broadening out from the specific question of whether sexuality is frequently contentious or sensitive, saying it must include all these other things, in order then really to legitimate including sexual material, without acknowledging the obvious fact: that one's sexuality is, usually, a private, personal, sensitive matter, the inclusion of which is likely to be contentous or controversial. Responsible, conservative, sensitive editing of biographical articles ought to acknowledge that obvious reality. BCST2001 03:00, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Let's look at the example of Larry Craig. He is notable for being a U.S. Senator. He was arrested and pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace. The media speculated that he had attempted to solicit gay sex. He made an announcement that included the statement, "I'm not gay". He has complained about being harassed by the media over the allegations, and I believe he's asked for his privacy. The entire issue is contentious. Under your interpretation of BLP, if I understand correctly, we would not be able to include even Craig's own statements denying the rumors. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 05:08, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

If you re-read what I have written, you will see that I mention several times that sexual scandals may well be notable in the case of politicians. (For example, here and here.)This is because according to the community sexual morality is a legitimate political issue for voters, and this is why the specific example about a politician is included in WP:BLP, indicating that inclusion of such material may be necessary. But it is not possible to generalize from the case of politicians to other "celebrities." This is a very instructive example: sexual material is indicated as potentially notable in relation to politicians, precisely in order to differentiate it from the other example concerning the messy divorce. Please re-read what I have written with greater care. BCST2001 05:14, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
I didn't realize that the community BLP had added a special, secret exemption for politicians. If that's the case I think we need to make it explicit. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 05:27, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
Lets say that event never happened. If we said he had a wife or a girlfriend, wouldn't we still be indicating his sexual preference? -- Ned Scott 05:26, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
There is nothing secret about it, and it is already explicit. It is simply the case that, as everyone knows, sexual scandal enveloping politicians is considered notable by a sizeable portion of the community, for better or worse. And, for better or worse, Wikipedia reflects that. The exception is made on the grounds that voters have the right to such knowledge when casting their ballot. It does not need to be any more specific than that, because if there is a case of a non-politician to whom the same logic might be thought to apply, the Wikipedia community can make the decision about whether in fact they should be treated according to the logic of the first example (the politician) or the second example (the messy divorce). But mostly it will be the second. As is most often the case, existing Wikipedia policy makes sense if you bother to read it and think about it. BCST2001 05:35, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
Let's leave the snide remarks out of it. The only mention of politicians is an example, which I don't think anyone would suggest actually creates a special case for politicians. If we take the viewpoint of the majority as our guide on how to weight issues then we should note that a sizeable portions of the world community, the news media community, and the Wikipedia community find the personal lives of celebrities to be notable. That is one of the characteristics which defines "celebrity". Unverifiable rumors and poorly-sourced gossip don't belong, of course. But verifiable incidents and statements from public figures that've been widely reported in reliable sources do belong. An arrest for a misdemeanor is not notable for a minor figure, but for a celebrity it is. We should report on Mel Bibson's drunken rant, but not that of a college professor. Why? Because one of them is a widely reported and verifiable incident involving a public figure and the other one isn't. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 06:26, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
You are correct about Mel Gibson versus a college professor. You are incorrect in your understanding of the significance of the two examples concerning the politician and the messy divorce. You are most certainly plain wrong if you believe that sexuality is not a private, personal and sensitive issue that should be avoided where contentious, and unless it is "clearly relevant to the notability of the person." BCST2001 07:49, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
But what does "clearly relevant to the notability of the person" mean? If you are arguing that a politician's messy divorce is relevent because it significantly impacts his political prospects, you cannot then argue that a celeberity's messy divorce is never relevant to their notability. A singer's messy divorce can impact their public image and prospects as a singer just plainly as a senator's can influence their prospects as a senator; an author's sexuality can, for the better or worse, influence public perception of them and whatever they write. Do you dispute these things? What makes a sexual scandal involving a senator, for instance, more worth covering than a sexual scandal involving an actor? Both will dramatically impact their careers, the "source of their notability". My feeling is that there is no way that this can be settled completely by the rule written into BLP, and that any guidelines are going to be insufficient. The only way to know whether a particular nasty tidbit genuinely belongs in an article is to look at the article itself. --Aquillion 08:10, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Aquillion, you are completely correct in your argument that the only way to know what belongs and what does not is by examining each case. In other words, WP:BLP does not eliminate the need for judgment. I completely agree with you, and I don't believe I have argued anything other than that. But even so, WP:BLP gives very important guidance about how to make those judgments, and the two examples are a very important part of that guidance. You are correct that it is feasible that there will be some case where the details of a messy divorce are relevant to a biographical entry about a singer. But on the other hand, this possibility should not diminish awareness of what, in general, the difference between a politician and a singer is: a politician is an figure seeking our approval to control our government. That is the basis on which the community judges, for better or worse, that sexual and other personal morality may be relevant to their being a politician. This argument does not in general hold for singers, and sexual morality is not in general relevant to their notability, even if there are many people who are interested in the sexuality or sexual morality of some particular singer. I would put it like this: in cases where a politician is caught in a sexual scandal, it is crucially important that Wikipedia get its coverage right; in cases where the sexuality of some pop singer is raised as though it is notable, it is crucially important not to presume that the material is notable, nor to find this or that pretext to justify including material which is really only of prurient or other tabloid-type (that is, non-encyclopaedic) interest. But, again, none of that is to deny that examination of the particular case and the use of judgment is not also crucial. The form this takes in WP:BLP cases is that a consensus of community opinion must be found to include contentious material before it can be included, and the burden of proof to establish notablity lies with the editor wishing to include or restore material. And notability must be established in relation to the notability of the subject. BCST2001 08:23, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

I am reading all he above debate and cannot make heads or tails from it. If there is material related to sexual orientation in a BLP that is either self-declared, or described in verifiable sources and notable, what would exempt us from describing it in an article? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 14:38, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

My point is that what matters is the understanding of "notability." In the case of contentious, controversial, sensitive issues, notability does not just mean that it has appeared in the media. Rather, in the case of contentious, controversial, sensitive issues (such as one's sexuality), notability also depends on "a clear demonstration of relevance to the person's notability." This is the meaning of the example given in WP:BLP of the messy divorce: if it is not relevant to the person's notability, and it is contentious and sensitive information, it should be excluded. It is by ignoring this requirement that editors often attempt to justify inclusion of material which should in fact be excluded. As an example, there is a case at the moment of a pop singer about whom there has been speculation and allegation that they are homosexual. There are no reliable sources for this allegation, which essentially amounts to rumour and gossip. But eventually this singer, when asked directly in an interview about this matter, expressed his displeasure with the rumour and allegation, denied the allegation, and stated he did not intend to answer such questions in the future. So the argument is being put by some editors that because this person stated a denial, therefore the matter is notable and must be included. In fact, however, there is no way to clearly demonstrate the relevance of this material to the person's notability. And this is important for the following reason: in a context where there is absolutely no actual information about the sexuality of this person, and in a context where this person has stated that they and their family are hurt by this kind of rumour and gossip, and in a context where they have stated that their sexuality is a private and not a public matter, to insist on including the denial of homosexuality is in fact to perpetuate the rumour by innuendo. Editors wishing to include such material are failing to grasp the WP:BLP requirements to edit contentious material conservatively, sensitively, and responsibly, but it is also the case that what such editors fail to grasp is the necessity of clearly demonstrating the relevance of the material to the person's notability, that is, to the reasons that the biographical subject is a notable figure. By ignoring this aspect of WP:BLP, they in fact undermine the entire purpose of this policy. BCST2001 17:19, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
The pop singer George Michael was arrested in similar circumstances to Larry Craig. Since the singer doesn't get the asserted politician exemption, should we expunge all of his comments about his sexuality from his article? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 18:19, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
What made that event notable was the arrest and subsequent massive attention from the media. Speculation or rumour about his sexuality would not have been notable, but once it became a massive story through the public act of being arrested, then it is clearly notable. BCST2001 23:10, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
So then we agree that media attention eventually makes something notable. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 23:16, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
Gibson, Michael & Craig were all arrested. It's the arrest that caused the media attention. Maria202 23:24, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
Will Beback, rumour, allegation, gossip and innuendo are not notable, and neither is speculation about the sexuality of somebody—even if tabloid newspapers and other low-grade media persist with these things for some time, eventually producing a frustrated response from the subject. This is precisely what WP:BLP is for. If you cannot see the distinction, I am unsure if there is another way to explain it that will make it clearer to you. BCST2001 23:31, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
We're not talking about "rumour, allegation, gossip and innuendo" - we're addressing statements made by the subjects in response to major media attention to an issue. Now you two are saying, if I understand correctly, that we can only print a statement by a public figure (whether politician or celebrity) about his or her sexuality if it is preceded by an arrest. Does that mean the we should redact the statement by T.R. Knight on the topic? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 23:54, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

If you look back at what has been written, I don't think you will find any statement that says "we can only print a statement by a public figure about his or her sexuality if it is preceded by an arrest." You should really stop attributing positions to people that they have clearly not expressed. You do not understand correctly, and it does seem you are determined not to understand. BCST2001 00:05, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

Well, I'm sure confused. I said: "...we agree that media attention eventually makes something notable" Maria202 replied: "It's the arrest that caused the media attention." Now BCST2001 says there's no requirement for there to be an arrest, presumably meaning that media attention alone is sufficient. So let's get his clear: can we include a statement by a public figure about his sexuality or not? Are media attention and/or an arrest necessary conditions for our quoting a public figure about his sexuality? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 00:22, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
Your choice to ignore that you left out the arrests in your statement about notability and that my response was to your comment reminding you that was left out is probably what confused you about what I said. Maria202 00:31, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
Huh? I don't understand that comment. Let me repeat the questions: can we include a statement by a public figure about his sexuality or not? Are media attention and/or an arrest necessary conditions for our quoting a public figure about his sexuality? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 00:36, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
I think Maria was confused because you originally attributed BCST2001's statement to her. -Jmh123 00:46, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
It doesn't really matter. What matter to this thread are finding the answers to these two questions: (1) can we include statements by a public figure about his sexuality or not? (2) Are media attention and/or an arrest necessary conditions for our quoting a public figure about his sexuality? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 01:17, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
Answer to (1) Yes, if it is a self-statement that is well sourced; (2) No: See (1) as an exception. 01:20, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

Will Beback, you are asking for an iron law where none is possible. As has been mentioned, judgment is necessary, but WP:BLP provides very important guidance about how to make that judgment. Every situation is different. For example, when somebody issues a public statement declaring that they are homosexual, that is very different from a frustrated objection and denial given in the course of an interview where there is no actual sourced information about the sexuality of the person. In the latter case, insisting on including this material is furthering the rumour, perpetuating innuendo, and doing harm. If you cannot grasp the difference, then that is your opinion. I think you are wrong, but the point is that it is neither your judgment nor mine that matters, but the judgment of the Wikipedia community. If they decide something can be included according to policy, then it can be included. But the burden of proof in WP:BLP cases lies with those wishing to include, and among the things they have to "clearly demonstrate" is the relevance of the material to the notability of the subject. And where there is contention and controversy about whether to include or exclude something, policy dictates editing conservatively, responsibly, and sensitively. That is, where there is no consensus, material such as this should be excluded. I don't think there is any point in my explaining this further. What seems perfectly clear and sensible to me is apparently obscure to you—I'm unsure why that is, but I do believe you need to reflect further on the nature of this policy. BCST2001 01:26, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

In the past I was told that this is simple and obvious. Apparently it isn't so clear that we can find a clear answer to the questions I've asked. Jossi seems to find the answers clear and obvious. We include statements from Larry Craig, a politician who was arrested for disurbing the peace, from George Michaels, a singer who was arrested for lewd exposure, and T.R. Knight, an actor who may have been called a "faggot" by a co-worker. Yet some editors would seek to prohibit the statements by Clay Aiken, a singer who has answered questions by major jouranlists about his sexuality on several occasions. It'd be nice if we could agree on a consistent application of BLP to all of these instances. The fall-back answer is to leave it up to the consensus of editors, but if that's the case then we should acknowledge that the matter isn't siimple, obvious, or clear. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 02:02, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
I don't see that it is preferable to have one answer for all cases. Just because the answer to such problems may not be identical in each case does not mean that policy is not clear or sensible. The cases you are discussing are all different, and in clear ways that can be explained and make a substantial difference to how WP:BLP applies to them. In my opinion WP:BLP makes it clear that the Aiken material you are discussing should be excluded. If there is community consensus to state otherwise, then so be it, but I don't believe that such a consensus will emerge. Leaving it up to the community is not a "fall-back answer"; it is the way Wikipedia works. Policy is not there to give iron answers to every question: it provides the framework and relies on and trusts in the judgment of the community. Where the community cannot agree about a WP:BLP issue, policy strongly favours exclusion. BCST2001 02:12, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
On the contrary, that is exactly what our policies do; pages that give rough and approximate answers to guide editors are called guidelines.

If there is no consensus on the subject, as attested by this discussion or by wording on the policy page resulting from discussion, there is no rule. In this case, there is such wording, and I quote: When in doubt, biographies should be pared back to a version that is completely sourced, neutral, and on-topic. Therefore if a version is these three things, it is perfectly acceptable. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:59, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

Pmanderson, I did not say that policy gives "rough and approximate answers." I think it is quite clear from what I have written that I think WP:BLP is very important and makes very clear what to do. It just not give an explicit iron ruling about how to handle every single situation. Judgment on the part of the community is still necessary, and this is the very essence of how policy works. Furthermore, the difference between policies and guidelines is not that policies tell you precisely what to do whereas guidelines are rough and approximate. Rather, the difference is that policy must be adhered to, whereas the requirement to follow guidelines is something less than this (recommended, generally a good idea, etc.). Finally, it is remarkable that you cite a part of WP:BLP that is intended to make clear that the article should be reduced to a very bare minimum in cases of intractable controversy, and use that citation to argue that including material is "perfectly acceptable." The line you cite clearly means that controversial material should be excluded until there is consensus to do otherwise. BCST2001 03:09, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
  • No, it "clearly means" what it says; no more, no less. If we have cut back so far, then we need (and should) cut back no further; to do so is harm to the encyclopedia.
  • So far as I can see, BCST2001 has quoted no word of this policy. I do not see any that suggests or supports the language he has invented.
  • I see no editor who agrees with him. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:25, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

In fact I quoted policy continuously. I am unclear where it is you disagree with me. BCST2001 06:57, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

Ok, here's a much more relevent example. Tom Cruise has been hounded by rumors over his sexuality for much of his career. These rumors have been widely commented on in the press and in numerous other high-profile sources (not merely tabloids); entire episodes of major TV shows have been devoted to it, and he has been engaged in litigation over these rumors on multiple occasions. Would you argue that mention of the rumors and disputes over Cruise's sexuality should be excluded from his article? I think that that case, in particular, was the one on my mind when I objected to your position... I do not think that any policy that would exclude such a widely-known and high-profile part of a public figure's reputation could be excluded. Naturally, rumors that only exist on a few messages boards or a handful of tabloids are not worth reporting... but I think that the wording of the guidelines in that regard is not helpful. Rumors are significant when they are widely-known and widely-covered in reputable press, and not significant otherwise. --Aquillion 23:18, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
Aquillion, I agree with you that a reasonable case can be for inclusion of such rumours in the Tom Cruise case. Without wanting to put words in your mouth, I think that the case you are making is more or less that once a certain threshold is reached, a rumour becomes a part of "culture." A fair enough case. But even though I agree that such a case can be made, I am not myself persuaded that such arguments justify inclusion, even in the Tom Cruise example you raise. All the reasons that inclusion of such rumours could be considered a BLP violation still apply, however well known the rumour may be. In the Cruise case, for example, such reasons include the fact that Cruise clearly opposes the spreading of such rumours, thus that in his eyes at least it does harm, hence also that inclusion of such rumours is insensitive, non-conservative, etc. I am not denying that people can reasonably disagree with my position, but in my judgment inclusion of those rumours is unnecessary and unjustified. I just do not see that including such material makes Wikipedia a better encyclopedia, and I can see too many ways it pushes Wikipedia in the tabloid direction, with all that this implies. To my mind rumours just aren't facts, and unless there is a very good reason to include them, the potential to do harm far outweighs any purported benefit to the encyclopedia project. The fact that rumours may be well known (which, of course, does not mean there is a shred of evidence suggesting they are true) just does not add up to much in my view: without factual content, they are nothing more than nasty gossip about living people. Living people who, truth be told, whether they are rich and famous or poor and obscure, should not be forced to suffer the perpetual inclusion of rumour and gossip on what we are told is one of the top five websites in the world. BCST2001 13:04, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
But let me immediately qualify the above, before somebody else does it for me. I think that the fact that Cruise has initiated litigation several times in relation to this matter changes the issue substantially, because a far stronger case can be made for including discussion of the litigation, which is after all a public act as well as a legal act. But if the litigant in question were only a minor figure, and not the major star that Cruise is, then even in the case of such litigation it would be necessary to weigh up whether such litigation really was notable enough for inclusion. In Cruise's case, I admit, inclusion of mention of his lawsuits is justified. BCST2001 13:17, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Specific article question

(comment/question a specific article, Glenn Greenwald) Given the discussion above (on the sexual preference provision), I was wondering about the specific case of Glenn Greenwald's article. He self-identifies as gay, but it is not pertinent to why he is notable, so I'm inclined to take it out. On the other hand, he is in the LGBT cat., and rightly so, and I don't like the idea of including (someone or something) in a category without something in the article to back it up. So, should it be included now? Is there a different way to do it? And, does the change mentioned above affect this situation? Any thoughts? R. Baley 22:10, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Well, by proposed suggestion 2, if it were adopted policy, his self-profession should permit inclusion. --Moonriddengirl 22:30, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
We should never place an article in a cat unless it is obvious from the text why it is there. That's WP:CATEGORY; if it doesn't belong in the article, the article doesn't belong in the cat. The subject's beliefs or sexual preferences are relevant to the subject's notable activities or public life, according to reliable published sources. Has any reliable source said that Greenwald's sexual preference has affected his blogging, or even the other way around? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:34, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
Hi Pmanderson, as far as I know the only mention of his sexuality was a "dust-up" in the blogosphere ("Hey look he's gay! and liberal! of course he doesn't like the bush administration!") I didn't think it was relevant to his [notability myself, but as he doesn't care. . .well, I thought it might be a battle to take it out. I guess I thought the category was appropriate, but I thought to put it in the article was undue weight. But since I don't want categories without substantiation in the article, well you see my problem. R. Baley 03:50, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
I don't see your problem. Category inclusion cannot be sourced. If the article doesn't source it, take it out of the category. (I have no objection to noting the source, whether his blog or some other, on the talk page, and waiting for developments.) It doesn't matter whether it's true; it doesn't even matter whether it's uncontentious: the threshold for inclusion is Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:28, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
Inclusion in categories are not excepted from NPOV, V, BLP, and other policies. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 14:30, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
Checking the article, however, it is sourced to a statement by Greenwald himself which describes other sources, some of them public documents. The category and the (short and neutral) mention should stay or go together, that's all. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:33, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm not so sure that categories fall under V, RS, and SYNTH. In practice, you'll find vast numbers of category assignments, mostly noncontroversial, that are are not directly supported by material in the text. I don't see what it adds to our encyclopedic mission to either require that we add a sentence describing the sexuality of everyone in the LGBT category (or someone's racial/ethnic/religious affiliation for everyone in those categories), or to do away with those categories.Wikidemo 18:45, 12 September 2007 (UTC)
the policy especially, regarding categorization of religion and sexual preference, really couldn't be clearer. Notmyrealname 16:00, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
As far as this particular article is concerned, he is a very notable blogger on controversial political subjects, and his openness about his sexuality may possibly be considered of relevance. Indeed, he seems to make a political point of it with respect to US law, going by the article. DGG (talk) 17:53, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
(reply to DGG) My memory concerning the relevance of his sexuality is that it became a topic because he was "attacked" (with words, not literally) for being gay and practically a foreigner (spends a lot of time out of the country). That he is gay doesn't really make a difference concerning the arguments which he advances. If he wrote about gay rights, for instance, that might make his sexuality relevant. However, almost the whole of his writing concerns the Iraq war and possible future war with Iran (the media's coverage of the war, the white house's pursuit of it, and the enabling of democratic leadership wrt to white House's pursuit of war). His sexuality is wholly irrelevant to these issues. But on the other hand, it is reliably sourced info that nobody really seems to object to. R. Baley 18:28, 14 September 2007 (UTC)


I recently discussed with another editor the merits of including salary information.(1) There is a tradition in society that regards pay levels or salary as private information. But that isn't an absolute. In many cases, such as soldiers, civil servants, politicians, bureaucrats, and executives of both corporations and non-profits, the base salaries are available through primary sources. In a very few cases, pay information is available through secondary sources (or even promoted by PR agents); most of those involve performers, sportsmen, CEOs, and a few other high profile categories. PR folks are often eager to release pay information about their stars, thouogh the info may not always be reliable. I see three basic distinctions and their likely disposition: salary info with no sources (delete); jobs for which salaries are available through primary sources only (annual reports, government pay scales, etc.) (delete); high profile jobs: 'commissions' movie roles, prominent artworks, sports figures, CEOs, whose figures are reported in secondary sources (keep). Is that sufficiently obvious in the existing policy or should we add a line about how to handle pay? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 09:58, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

  • Like anything else, you should first ask if secondary independant sources discuss it. If other, independant sources note it, maybe it's important. On the other hand, the government of Ontario publishes the salary of all civil servents who make over $100K a year. I would advise against including that for anyone unless their salary is singled out by another publication (so I could look up Mary Anne Chambers' salary on, but I would not include that. If an article on her in the Globe and Mail discussed her salary, then it might be worth including. Context is important. WilyD 15:21, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
I think it is implicitly covered in the Presumption in favor of privacy section. I don't necessarily think it would be out of the question to add a sub-section specifically mentioning salary, though, just as there is a specific sub-section about privacy of birthdays. I think the guidelines for both would be very similar. --Jaysweet 15:31, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Indeed, I would generally agree with the first point. But expanding and expanding presumption in favour of privacy to specifically list everything it might cover is unwieldy - birthdays get special mention because they're very commonly included in biographies, but might make some people testy. WilyD 15:38, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Fair 'nuff. --Jaysweet 15:40, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Updated archive (15)

Please see top of page for indication of what has been archived. Thanks. --NYScholar 15:04, 14 September 2007 (UTC)


I've been given the understand that this is a policy page. As such it is something that should be read and and followed (or filled with the bunch of one off cases that make it a great weapon for rule laywers but useless for getting things done opinion appears to be devided). However neither of these are helped by adding about a kilobyte of quote. If you want people to read and apply the document it needs to be kept as sort as posible. Adding quotes does not facilitate this.Geni 15:08, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

These are there for a reason. See the recent interview given by Jimmmy Wales: Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2007-09-10/Jimbo_interview. Reverted. 16:23, 14 September 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jossi (talkcontribs)
No reason given there. Remeber I was in the channel watching that interview take place. Now are you going to a)counter my points b)provide a reason to keep the quotes or c) admit that you reverted without a valid reason.Geni 16:30, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
The quote is a useful articulation. I think we should retain it. Tom Harrison Talk 16:56, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
So do I — two quotes in fact. I wouldn't be in favour of fourteen, but I don't think two is overdoing it, and they are highly relevant. ElinorD (talk) 17:02, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Are they part of the policy? A short articulation of the policy is covered in "This page in a nutshell". If they are not part of the policy they are cruft and thus should be removed.Geni 17:38, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
They are part of the policy as long as consensus supports keeping them on the page. Tom Harrison Talk 17:41, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
In that case what do they cover that no other part of the policy covers?Geni 18:25, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm not convinced they must do that. They are useful. Why do they have to be anything else? Tom Harrison Talk 18:37, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
How are they useful? How are they more useful than shortening the page?Geni 20:51, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
There are other quotations used throughout the project page as "Example[s]", some less clear than these clear statements; citations to quotations in notes (not always fully clear, as they come from other contexts); citations used for clarification of points; other examples here and there; there is no strong rationale for removing these quotations, which have been in this policy page for an extended period of time without previous contention. They are helpful, especially to inexperienced editors. --NYScholar 19:01, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
[Illustrations are not "cruft"; there is a difference between "useless" irrelevant material and pertinent emphasis or illustration of a policy issue: pejorative usage of the term "cruft" (within "scare quotes") in Wikipedia talk pages sometimes itself appears to be "cruft." --NYScholar 19:18, 14 September 2007 (UTC)]
It should be clear to most readers that when a person writes, "I can NOT emphasize this enough" that "emphasis" of a point, not redundancy, is the rationale for including the statement. (It would have been better if he used italics and not all caps (shouting), but what can one do? This is an exact quotation.)
Wales himself goes on to say that he is expressing an "attitude" not a "policy"; so one could then surmise that the "attitude" toward the policy is what this part of it (use of the quotation) attempts to define: a basis for the policy in an attitude of concern. (It helps the policy make sense in simple language that sometimes the rest of the policy may fail to do; emphasis is a kind of "fail-safe" mechanism, especially for newcomers to Wikipedia (including subjects of BLP). --NYScholar 19:31, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
That would be covered in the Wikipedia:Biographies_of_living_persons#Rationale section. We don't need the quotes for that.Geni 22:28, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

If I remember correctly, during the development of BLP, we took into considerations the many comments of Jimbo on the subject. The additions of these comments have been in this page for a long time and I do not see any compelling reasons not to continue having these, in particular as BLP keeps being mentioned in the press, is widely applied, and it is used as the basis for many WP:OTRS interventions. I would argue that any dilution of this policy will require a substantial discussion and agreement. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 19:49, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

I agree 100% with Jossi. ElinorD (talk) 20:12, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
One Jimbo quote per policy page is already too many. Two is flat out Jimbo worship. Those quotes have always stuck out as awkward. They aren't particularly good Jimbo quotes even - not especially pithy, clever, or helpful, and not elucidating anything in particular. The arbcom statement has the same flaws. I don't believe anybody agrees that those quotes in themselves are operative policy statements, or valid as an interpretive tool for the policy. Inasmuch as they are ineffective, it does not dilute the policy page to remove them. In fact, they do more harm than good by confusing people as to where policy comes from and making longer and more complex an already over-long and somewhat confusing page that draws authority from various sources. Policy is embodied in policy statements, not words from Jimbo or the arbitration committee (even if his word has historically been understood to influence or even create policy). Wikidemo 19:59, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Of all Wikipedia policies, WP:BLP is the one that causes the most difficulty and controversy, yet it is a policy which is also absolutely fundamental to the project. In order to achieve the best comprehension and application of this policy it is crucial to cultivate an understanding of both the letter and the spirit of this policy. Given this context and this requirement, the quotations not only serve a useful purpose but constitute a vital element of the policy. These quotations should remain unless and until a strong consensus to do otherwise emerges. I see no signs of such an emergence in the foreseeable future. The quotations should remain. BCST2001 21:18, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
In other words, people don't agree so we're pulling out the Jimbo card? Policy is policy. It's all important and no need to broadcast canned Jimbo to prove one policy is the most important. The thing is, those quotes don't come down on one side or any other, and they make the page look silly, especially to the masses of editors and outsiders who care more about the encyclopedia than its inner workings. Far from impressing people that we take things seriously around here, tepid quotes form our beloved leader make us look like a bunch of functionaries from a minor religious cult.Wikidemo 21:36, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
What is the "Jimbo card" exactly? And why is that you consider these quotes "tepid"? They look extremely relevant to me. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 21:42, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Also note that Wikipedia is is both an encyclopedia and a community. You do not have one without the other, and it is good that the "masses of editors and outsiders" learn about that fact. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 21:43, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps learning to show esteem for our beloved leader is one of the things that turns people off, not on, to Wikipedia. Internet people are decidedly anti-authority, you know. "Playing the Jimbo card", vis-a-vis the comment I was responding to, is quoting Jimbo when he is not around, in hopes the reference strengthens your position. "Tepid" means what I said a couple posts before, not pithy, not especially insightful. The first quote is a long wonky statement about the mechanics of editing. The second is a Britney moment - "Real people are involved" and might get hurt. Really, now, you don't say? Even if you love the guy, quoting Jimbo on matters of how you should deal with uncited facts is like quoting Gandhi on how you should lace up your sandals. A good quote is something like "we have nothing to fear but fear itself" or "anything that can go wrong, will" or "never eat anything bigger than your head," something memorable that elucidates and condenses a point to memory and takes on a meaning beyond merely being the words of the person who said them. These particular words are only here to show that Jimbo said them, not because they actually add anything. We could say these things ourselves in fewer words and stronger language if they were policy. (1) "Remove instead of tagging uncited information in BLP"; and (2) "Disparaging articles hurt real people. Don't do it." But they are not policy, not quite. Jimbo's agreeing with us is besides the point. Wikidemo 22:01, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
I'd never promote Jimbo quotes just because they came from Jimbo, unless I thought they were good ones. And really, the outsiders are more interested in our articles than in our policy pages; most of them don't even know about our policy pages. ElinorD (talk) 22:05, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
not saying you can't promote them. Just not on this page. You are free to create Wikipedia:jimbo quotes about BLP and link it in see also.Geni 22:22, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Internet people are decidedly anti-authority Really? What is an "internet people"? Wikidemo, we have moved on since the early 90s. My 85 year old mother surfs the net, uses Skype and email. Is she an "internet people"? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:09, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Does she edit wikipedia? I don't know if you have been paying much attention to US politics of late but of the various pages we have on candidates Ron Paul is the most popular[9].Geni 22:26, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Let's drop this, shall we? It is becoming a pissing contest more than a useful discussion. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:11, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
That's sweet, Jossi. Yes, she's Intenet people too and I agree, I'm just ranting. Well, thanks for the interesting discussion. I don't see that anyone is going to actually remove the quotes anytime soon. But I do have an admonition against quoting Jimbo and other outside sources in my new guideline on policies and guidelines. /rant off/ Wikidemo 22:16, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Jossi you wish to withdraw from disscussion of your revert? do you wish then to withdraw your revert?Geni 22:19, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
I did not "revert". I "restored" material about which there is consensus. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 03:11, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
Help:Reverting would beg to differ. Look if you are going to try and defintion lawyer at least have the decency to do it well.Geni 03:39, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
Sorry Geni, but that is a bit disingenuous. You deleted material without checking if there is consensus for removal (see the header of this very page in case you forgot that this page is official policy). I restored back to the consensus version. If you want to challenge the keeping of these quotes, gain consensus first. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 03:46, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
I've seen good rule lawyers in action. You are not one of them. Please stop trying to be. The word is revert. You know this.Geni 12:29, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
I am not a lawyer, and that fact that you deleted material three times from this article against consensus is all what I am trying to point out. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 18:11, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

Creeping changes...

... without consensus will be challenged. This is an official policy of Wikipedia, and the current wording is the result of previous discussions. If you want to challenge any portion, wording, or formulation of the policy, discuss first, out of respect for standing consensus. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 03:56, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

Agree, but I hope everyone makes note of this, given some of the changes made in the past. -- Ned Scott 04:02, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
BLP does not have consensus. I has never had consensus and now you set a higher bar to change it compared to keeping it.Geni 12:23, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
That is ludicrous. BLP is official policy and has been for more than a year. It is cited in all other core policy pages such as V, NPOV and NOR, is quoted in many ArbCom cases, and was recently mentioned by Jimmy Wales in his last interview. The burden to prove that BLP has no consensus is on those that challenge it, no the other way around. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 18:13, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
Geni, with all due respect you are off the wall. BLP is among the most important policies we have. Just from a legal position it is essential to the continued existence of Wikipedia. Slrubenstein | Talk 18:29, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
strangely none of that equals consensus. Aditional from a legal POV exactly two things matter "must adhere strictly to the law in Florida, United States" and the Designated agent section. Probably need a line to the effect that stuff removed by the Designated agent can't be put back. The rest is expendable.Geni 18:58, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
The content of this page in its entirety is official policy of Wikipedia. You are welcome to challenge it and gather consensus for any changes to it. Claiming that there is no consensus, will not get you anywhere, Geni. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 19:05, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm not argueing that it isn't official policy but well generaly those who deal with copyright (the other legal area) don't try and pretend our EDP has consensus. Still you appear to accept jimbo's word and jimbo has laid out what is required to demonstrate consensus. Feel free to show that BLP meets these requirements.Geni 19:18, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
Cute, Geni. Go ahead and claim that V, NOR, BLP and many other policies do not have consensus. Good luck to you. Bye for now. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 19:38, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
V and NOR had consensus when they were created which is all that really matters.Geni 19:46, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
It appears obvious that there's agreement that this policy page is a valid expression of policy for biographical information about living people. I forget now, what is the occasion for this meta-debate? If it's about the Jimbo quotes I don't think that rises to the level of a pressing legal necessity or a deep question of what consensus is. If you don't like them, get rid of them. But if a lot of people cherish them they'll say no and the quotes stay. It seems simple.Wikidemo 22:40, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
A reversion like Jossi's edithere ought to be backed up by more than a note that evolution of a page over time is a "creeping change" to an old policy. Incremental changes over time at the hands of multiple Wikipedians is a legitimate way pages improve and policy shifts, and anyone who appears long after the fact to restore the old version is going against consensus, not with it. The reversion is only okay IMO because it's a new change to an old policy and hasn't yet gained acceptance. Having said that, I don't understand why the admonition to remove poorly sourced material from BLP on sight should be limited to talk pages, articles, and project space. Why not all of Wikipedia? If Jossi could shares those reasons instead of simply reverting it wouldn't waste my time trying to hunt the change history for when and why the change happened and whether it's a good idea. The whole paragraph, incidentally, is pretty lousy as an introduction and ought to be replaced by a statement of what the policy actually is. It's got impertinent Jimbo citations and states something clearly different than what the policy really is.Wikidemo 01:05, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
The reason I reverted is that this specific aspect was discussed at length at the time. People need to know that when we say remove unsourced and poorly sourced material, we refer not only to material in mainspace (that can be construed when we say "Wikipedia"). We also refer to talk pages, project pages, etc. Editors are welcome to improve upon the wording, rather than diluting the wording. A deletion without asking as for the reasons of the wording, simply shows lack of respect for the consensus of editors that worked and discussed these additions at the time. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:59, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Same applies for other edits to this page: Improvements that do not change the meaning or intention of the wording are always welcome. And when these changes are challenged on the basis that it changes established consensus, the proper thing is to ask for clarification as you have done above. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 02:02, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
I thought the wording change strengthened things because it applied the admonition to remove unsourced material to all of Wikipedia, not just main/article/project space. So I assumed it was an improvement, though I can accept there might be a reason to limit this statement to these name spaces. Sorry if I missed / overlooked the original, you shouldn't have to re-explain every time if you've already explained before so thanks for that. Yes, asking you is better than just reverting and saying I don't understand, a good lesson. Wikidemo 02:06, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Jossi are you takeing the position that BLP does not apply in the portal help template or mediawiki talk namespace?Geni 02:12, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Point taken, Geni. What about:
Unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material — whether negative, positive, or just questionable — about living persons should be removed immediately and without discussion from all pages in Wikipedia. including talk, user, project, and other pages.
≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 02:39, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
We could also add a footnote to list all type pages, if needed. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 02:41, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
I think that's an improvement and no need for a footnote to show that a set is the union of all its members. Don't let this stop you from improving the language but I think the whole statement is all wet, though. We don't delete everything in BLP's that has no source or a poor source on sight without discussion. To illustrate I did a WP:POINT edit to a typical rock band stub, the Plain White T's, here (sorry, my bad). Since nothing is sourced the article gets pruned back to a comment that their band name is a grammatical error. Are we allowed to do it? Yes, within reason. Is that what we must do or we do in practice? No. In reality we apply fact tags, article the editor so it's better, delete only weird and controversial looking stuff, and do discuss what we did on the talk page if only after the fact. So the statement is just chest thumping and hyperbole on how serious we are about BLP. Definitely not policy. Wikidemo 03:55, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
We do "delete everything in BLP's that has no source or a poor source on sight without discussion", if it is contentious. And that is what this policy states. Your WP:POINT edit removed material that was not contentious, just unsourced. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 05:05, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Yes, if contentious, which should be added. And it wouldn't hurt to make this more succinct, which NYScholar appears to be working on, below. And why do we really need to quote Jimbo saying we're trying to get an article "right". What are we, chopped liver? Trying to get articles wrong? Anyway, I thought verifiability was key, not truth. "Right" is ambiguous here because it implies truth. Wikidemo 06:03, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Remove all undocumented or poorly-documented contentious material about living persons — whether negative, positive, or questionable — immediately and without discussion from all pages in Wikipedia.
["Sourced" ("well-sourced", "poorly-sourced", "sourced") is not a proper verb form (past participle used as an adjective); see "source" (noun); "to source" is not a common usage of the word. Wikipedians use it that way, but it is a poor use of the English language and this is the English version of Wikipedia. Policy project pages need to demonstrate exemplary usage of the English language. Use italics for emphasis if emphasis is necessary. --NYScholar 05:47, 16 September 2007 (UTC)] [delete "just"; another poor usage. --NYScholar 05:48, 16 September 2007 (UTC)]
Is the phrase " — whether negative, positive, or questionable —" necessary or helpful? Without it, the point is the same, and more clear. --NYScholar 05:50, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Hence: Remove all undocumented or poorly-documented contentious material about living persons immediately and without discussion from all pages in Wikipedia. --NYScholar 05:51, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
A couple small quibbles. How about "if contentious" as a conditional modifier rather than "contentious" as a mere adjective? That calls it out a little better. Also, "without discussion" sounds like a request not to even talk about it, which seems rude. I think the intent is that there need be no prior notice, consensus, etc. If that's true, is there a more pleasant way to say it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wikidemo (talkcontribs) 06:27, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
"Without discussion" is intentional; it means there is a requirement not to discuss such material on talk pages. When encountering it, WP:BLP requires that all users remove any such material on sight; that has been Wikipedia policy for a long time (more than a year or two years), as I recall. I remember seeing this "dictum" in several places in Wikipedia policies (referring to "material about living persons" and BLP everywhere in Wikipedia.) The dictum not to discuss such undocumented material in talk pages or anywhere else in Wikipedia is to follow this policy. When people "discuss" the unmentionable material, they inevitably "mention" it; this policy explicitly says not to do that. It's not rude. It's a rule. --NYScholar 06:36, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
I added italics above. To say one can talk about any of this unmentionable undocumented or poorly-documented "contentious material about living persons" misses the point of the policy as it is stated in WP:BLP. --NYScholar 06:40, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
The clear intention of this policy is not to discuss such material anywhere in Wikipedia. That includes "talk pages" and perhaps especially talk pages. People bring this material to talk pages and violate WP:BLP frequently. The policy says that if one encounters any such discussions [of such material] taking place on talk pages or user talk pages or anywhere, remove it [the material] on sight. Its intention is crystal clear and not disputed. It is the consensus of Wikipedia. --NYScholar 06:45, 16 September 2007 (UTC) [added bracketed clarifications of ref.] --NYScholar 06:48, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
I oppose adding "if" before "contentious"; "contentious material" is the intended kind of material; the adjective is proper and not unclear; adding "if" is confusing. --NYScholar 06:50, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
I won't quibble further. Interesting point about the dictum not to discuss. There must be some limitation. The statement here seems way overbroad. If someone keeps posting "Lindsey Lohan you're the the greatest!!!!" we should remove it on sight, but we can certainly admonish the fans on the top page to please stop posting unsourced material. Wikidemo 07:40, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
The "limitation" not to discuss "the subject" is right on the top of talk pages about subjects in their headers: viz. "This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the ... article. [...] This is not a forum for general discussion about the article's subject."
Based on that, when users (espec. unsigned anon IP users) drop into a talk page to leave their deposits like "Lindsey Lohan you're the greatest!!!!!", I delete such fancruft (or similar cruft) and provide a clear editing summary why I've done that. Those kinds of comments are not "discussing improvements to the ... article." ("..." is the title of the article/subject.") That stuff really is cruft; it lowers the level of talk pages in Wikipedia to fansite message boards and forums. Elsewhere the Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not clearly states that it is not those things and neither are its talk pages. Wikipedia editors, especially those involved in its special projects, need to uphold its own stated standards, including those currently in WP:BLP, WP:V, and Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. Deleting inappropriate comments from Wikipedia made through apparent vandalism is an exception to WP:3RR. Wikipedia's article talk pages are for making improvements to the articles. Other talk pages (like user talk pages) also should not indulge users in making small talk and gossip.
If Wikipedia is a serious project, its editors need to treat it like one. I understand that the example is a light-hearted one and that editors in Wikipedia want to "have fun"; but their fun should not diminish the reputation of the content in Wikipedia, whose reputation is already questioned and often questionable (especially among those in academia who teach college and university students). Recent controversies have led some institutions to prohibit its use as a source because of its unreliability. Wikipedia itself acknowledges its own unreliability when it states that open-source encyclopedia not subject to editorial peer review and oversight (including Wikipedia; but also online sites like the NNDB) are not among reliable sources for its articles. (At times, I would question the reliability also of often-cited sites like IMDB, whose editors frequently miss or fail to correct quickly enough or at all factual errors introduced by its users, who indulge in adding gossip [sometimes "contentious", and almost always undocumented] to its biographies of living persons.) --NYScholar 18:32, 16 September 2007 (UTC)[added in brackets. --NYScholar 18:36, 16 September 2007 (UTC)]
What I mean is that if the statement that unsourced material is removed without discussion is a prohibition rather than an enablement or some kind of hyperbole, it ought to be limited to situations where that is actually the case. The only place where the reasoning holds is where the material removed is scandalous, damaging, and novel. Otherwise, to prohibit us from discussing what we are doing and why is rather strong and unnecessary censorship.Wikidemo 18:57, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

WP:BLP refers to [removing on sight] [poorly-documented or undocumented: "poorly sourced or unsourced"] "contentious" "material about living persons" whether or not it is "positive", "negative", or "just questionable"; that is explicit and not confined to the "scandalous, damaging, and novel". Those kinds of statements invent criteria in WP:BLP that are not the policy.

After participating in discussions on this talk page over the past month or so, I have begun to wonder whether or not there are particular agenda that others have in discussing WP:BLP (and WP:EL, in the archived discussions). Some statements made really do not seem in keeping with WP:BLP as it has existed since its inception (longer than a half-year). I have been trying to follow WP:BLP in its various states for the time that I have been here (since it was a policy that one could refer to); in my case, for over two years. (I did not realize that it was being heavily edited until just this past month, because I did not look at its editing history before August.) I have not until this summer encountered such comments about the policy. I do not understand the rationale of those who make them. It seems to me that some may be attempting to open up Wikipedia articles about living persons to material that has previously been prohibited from Wikipedia: the passage under discussion is a very crucial passage. These new distinctions being made seem to be either intentional or unintentional attempts to weaken it (water it down). The purpose if there is one is unclear to me. (These comments are not in any way intended to be "uncivil": they are observations after seeing patterns in the comments being made particularly over the past month and especially these past few days.) There is a difference between "censorship" (in my view an absurd claim) and proper judgment and avoidance of Wikipedia:Libel of living persons.

As a Wikipedia editor (who is also a living person), perhaps editors should ask themselves the following hypothetical question: "(If I were deemed notable enough to warrant an article about me in Wikipedia) Would I want to permit such ["poorly sourced or unsourced"] "contentious material" being included about me (anywhere) in Wikipedia?"

There are such things as conventions of civil discourse (in academic discourse; in scholarship; in respectable journalism [in Wikipedia, generally not Blogs), other writing published in print encyclopedia), as well as legal conventions ("laws") pertaining to content published about living persons. I think that as editors of an online encyclopedia which gets distributed and re-distributed through its displaying GFDL, Wikipedia editors have a central responsibility in adhering to Wikipedia's clearly-established standards in WP:BLP. This discussion is not a substitute for the policy and, as I have said now many times, changing the policy is not a matter for its talk page; there is a clear-cut defined Wikipedia policy and procedure for making changes to policies. Policy changes occur according to such procedures; not in edit warring on talk pages of the policies. These distinctions that I see people coming up with here are policy changes not merely changes in wording of policy. ---NYScholar 22:22, 16 September 2007 (UTC)[added clarifications in brackets; I think people can read the policy to see what it says. --NYScholar 22:27, 16 September 2007 (UTC)][ditto. --NYScholar 22:30, 16 September 2007 (UTC)]

It particularly troubles me that some of the people making what seem to be forays into WP:BLP are editors heavily involved in creating and editing biographies of living persons (the project). That these editors are questioning and complaining about long-standing WP:BLP policy definitions really troubles me, because, as they are doing so, so they are may also be contributing to and editing biographies of living persons as they might prefer the policies to allow them to do. [I don't know.] I wonder how many recent biographies of living persons violate some of the standards of WP:BLP if they are being edited according to practices that are not in keeping with current WP:BLP? (I don't know but I do wonder.) I do know that there is a big problem in biographies of living persons and in material about living persons in Wikipedia that other editors are attempting to deal with, and that the problem seems to be extensive; I do not know if it is pervasive. Perhaps someone can point to the project page where these problematic biographies of living persons and articles with such questionable material are listed. ??? --NYScholar 22:37, 16 September 2007 (UTC)[strike out and clarification; I really don't know; from the recent remarks by a number of editors, I really wonder.... --NYScholar 22:41, 16 September 2007 (UTC)]

It's hard not to take that long, uncivil rant about newbies with agendas as anything other than a gripe about me, inasmuch as I'm the only one in the room at the moment. If the thought of my editing BLP and talking about it here troubled you, you'll just have to be troubled. I am not planning on leaving. Wikidemo 00:01, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

I still think that the current wording with a small change, captures the spirit of the policy, as follows:

Unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material — whether negative, positive, or just questionable — about living persons should be removed immediately and without discussion from all pages in Wikipedia.

The "whether negative, positive, or just questionable" was added after a long discussion, and ot addresses the fact that we are not only referring to negative material, but to positive or questionable material as well. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:51, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

Propose: Unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material — whether negative, positive, or just questionable — about living persons should be removed immediately from all pages in Wikipedia. Such material should not be discussed in a way that would further spread inappropriate derogatory statements about living people.Wikidemo 00:04, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
...though I just noticed Jossi's latest "tweak" and I'm happy enough with that. It does improve the wording. Wikidemo 00:06, 17 September 2007 (UTC)


I just deleted an addition that someone added w/o prior discussion; it is not a stylistic change: The content added is: "In particular, speculation about the health or death of a living person is not to be included in articles. A biography of a living person should not be changed to characterize them as dead or dying, unless supported by reliable sources with citations to allow verification."

Such content needs discussion. Adding it does not follow the warning at the top of the project page. --NYScholar 23:42, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

Do you disagree with it or are you deleting it for the sake of deleting it? Wikidemo 23:45, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

(edit conflict)[I will also state that I do not think such a deletion as this one should be subject to WP:3RR because WP:BLP is a policy page and has special requirements relating to editing it. When people change the policy page in a manner that violates the warning at the top of the page, deletions of those changes are in keeping with these requirements. This page may need protection against editing if such content changes continue. --NYScholar 23:50, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

I have no interest in discussing the addition. I simply deleted it because it should not have been added at all. People editing the page are directed to the talk page at the top of the page. Basing such a change on an experience at one article is not based on "consensus" on WP:BLP (this project page). Who knows what they are experiencing there and who has the time to check every page where such discussions are ongoing? The point is that any changes to WP:BLP that involve its content (not minor changes involving mere stylistic expression of that content) need prior discussion and then they need established consensus (which occurs over time). (I do not delete content just "for the sake of deleting it" or any other kind of frivolous reason.) --NYScholar 23:50, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

It is the responsibility of the editor who wants to add the content to come to this talk page to discuss it (first). It is clearly something that requires prior discussion and the development of consensus. (The content added appears unnecessary to me because it involves "poorly sourced or unsourced" "material about a living person" [e.g., in the phrase "unless supported by reliable sources with citations to allow verification"], which is already covered in the policy.) --NYScholar 23:55, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

"from all pages in Wikipedia" ---> "from Wikipedia"

[Altered heading to be clearer what this is about: --NYScholar 01:50, 17 September 2007 (UTC)] ==="all pages in Wikipedia"=== Jossi: I thought "in Wikipedia" was clear; see above. "all pages in Wikipedia" seems less clear to me that "in Wikipedia" (period). Some parts of Wikipedia are not "pages" from some people's perspective. "In Wikipedia" relates to all of the encyclopedia space. --NYScholar 23:59, 16 September 2007 (UTC) rethought. --NYScholar 00:00, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Instead of "from all pages in Wikipedia" (as suggested in bold above and as Jossi just inserted) would "from Wikipedia" be less likely to lead to possible interpretive quibbles (e.g., what is "a page" vs. other "space" or whatever). The phrase "from Wikipedia" refers to the encyclopedia. I think that is the policy in that (original) paragraph in WP:BLP. --NYScholar 00:06, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
The tweaking (not as minor as stated): I've altered the "from all pages in Wikipedia" to "from Wikipedia"; see editing summary: the replacement phrase has to incorporate all the previous items removed via the editing changes: "articles" ("article pages"), "talk pages", "talk space", "user space". See previous discussion above. Otherwise, I think the page needs to revert back to its original expression, which encompasses more than just "pages"; space includes "user boxes" and so on (which are often linked to and not "pages" but parts of pages and so on). --NYScholar 01:42, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
Previously, the policy included: "articles,<note 1: Jimmy Wales: "WikiEN-l Zero information is preferred to misleading or false information", May 16, 2006 and May 19, 2006> talk pages, user pages, and project space." The phrase "from all pages in Wikipedia" incorporates only some of that: "project space" not necessarily a "page"?  ??? --NYScholar 01:48, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

I just attempted to improve on the original meaning. As it seems that you object, I have restored to the original formulation. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:51, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Though I have what I call a "quibble" with the sentence, my quibble is not related to the specific change being discussed. I am fine with either Jossi's or NYScholar's formulation. Neither is a change in policy, and I think that either is an improvement on the exiting language.Wikidemo 03:39, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

It would be wise to read the discussion above before jumping in, NYScholar. It is more efficient that way, you know? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:52, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

This is getting very confusing: which is the "original formulation"? What date are you reverting that back to? I really agree with the gist of what I think you were doing, I just don't think the phrase accomplished it. What is incorrect (not in keeping with the WP:BLP) in the phrase "from Wikipedia?" Please explain. Thanks. --NYScholar 01:53, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

(BTW: I read the discussion up to this point. I just hadn't commented on some of it. --NYScholar 01:54, 17 September 2007 (UTC))

Query (not satisfied with previous discussion re: this question): How is "Wikipedia articles, [2] talk pages, user pages, and project space" not "Wikipedia"? There was discussion earlier about other material that is not the encyclopedia that one means by Wikipedia; perhaps one needs to link to Wikipedia in "from Wikipedia?" ?? --NYScholar 02:01, 17 September 2007 (UTC)