Wikipedia talk:Biographies of living persons/Archive 18

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3 revert rule does not apply to BLP?

I hadn't noticed that slipping in. Can someone who added that please show the discussion and rationale for that change? --Kim Bruning (talk) 09:56, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

It's been here for ages and is widely agreed and acted on. I think it's also in the 3RR policy. People are cautioned, however, not to go wild on it. :-) SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 12:12, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
Of course, if a particular edit is obviously a BLP violation another user will have beaten you to the fourth revert. That's the way I look at it, anyway. — CharlotteWebb 13:31, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
Not necessarily especially if it is an obscure article. My impression is that in practice this is enforced with varying levels on WP:3RRV. Some admins will block if the person who is claiming there is a BLP violation is clearly whitewashing; others take it as applying only to straight-BLP violations (i.e. poorly sourced contentious content or poorly sourced potentially negative or defamatory content) and not applying BLP-penumbra issues (that is well-sourced content that may or not be included based on privacy and other concerns that isn't a blatant privacy problem like a phonenumber). This is to me at least one more reason we should make a distinction in policy between strict BLP and and BLP-penumbra issues. JoshuaZ (talk) 15:30, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
The idea is pretty uncontroversial, but there have been several very, very notable instances (the Mantanmoreland RFAR is a good example, where Crum375 took it upon himself to take on the entire community, the AC clerks, and Arbiters themselves) over a removal whose validity under BLP was disputed. There should be wording that a disputed BLP removal is never automatically exempt, and the community of users (not just admins, as Crum375 at one point asserted) need to decide together with the minority following consensus or risking a simple 3RR/disruption block, as Crum himself did here. That one was actually like a 8RR or 9RR, and he took on at least 5 or 6 editors, and then came back and did it again the next day despite Arbiter warnings. Simply claiming BLP is not a license to freely revert, especially if a number of users dispute the BLP claim. Lawrence § t/e 18:02, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
If an editor wants to call something a BLP violation, that doesn't make it true. I think it should be clarified that there is no immunity when other established editors disagree that that the material is a BLP violation. This exception should not reward those who misunderstand the policy. Cool Hand Luke 18:12, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
I think there is already an implication with 3RR, that if you are going to revert >3 times/day believing you are covered under an exception, you basically have to be damn sure that the admins are going to come down on your side. It's the risk you take: by reverting >3 times, you are saying, "I am so certain that the community will eventually agree with me that I am willing to bet a 24 hour block against it."
I don't agree with Luke's suggestion, because there could be a circumstance where other established editors were, for whatever reason, mistaken in their judgment, and where a potentially very libelous statement was being reverted. Now, I would think already that just about any good faith editor would seriously check themselves if other established editors were fighting their reverts -- but if after that self-check, the editor in question was still confident that the community will support their revert, so confident that he or she was willing to stake the possibility of a 24hr block on it, I think that editor has every right to exceed 3 reverts/day in the interest of protecting against libel concerns.
The control comes from the fact that if the reverting editor is wrong, i.e. even if he or she honestly thought they were enforcing BLP but the community ultimately sides against them, then that person could find themselves blocked. There is no exemption for "I thought I was doing the right thing" with 3RR. If you >3 revert and it turns out you were mistaken, you may find yourself blocked, good faith or no. THAT'S the control, because it discourages people from >3 reverts unless they are absolutely 100% certain that they are enforcing community consensus. --Jaysweet (talk) 18:26, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
A recent example where I reverted >3 times in defiance of established editors was with Elliot Spitzer's announced resignation. A number of people misunderstood Spitzer's Wednesday press conference as a resignation, as opposed to an announcement of intention to resign on Monday 17th. Easy mistake to make, and it resulted in a lot of inaccurate edits to the infobox and article text. Now, I must have made reversions regarding that fact ten times or more on Wednesday, and many of the editors I reverted were established editors acting in good faith who had simply misunderstood the announcement. But, I was absolutely certain that community consensus would support my actions, and so I continued to revert with no fear of 3RR recriminations. And sure enough, there were none.
It is situations like that why I oppose Luke's suggestion. There are cases where more than one established good faith editor can find themselves making the same exact mistake regarding a BLP, necessitating a revert. And there is no reason why a single editor should not be able to make those reverts, even if it adds up to more than three in a day as long as the reverting editor knows they are risking a block if they have not correctly gauged community consensus. --Jaysweet (talk) 18:37, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
You misunderstand. I said when established editors disagree—I didn't mean when established editos merely revert you. I should be more clear—I mean when established editors explicitly say "I don't see a BLP violation here" as happened in Crum's case. When that occurs, there's not much chance that they're supporting the community consensus, and the reverts should stop. Cool Hand Luke 18:50, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
I think there's another issue here also- sometimes we just don't pay as much attention to 3RR when there are general issues. For example, I was one of only a few editors paying attention when the Mark Foley scandal broke and I almost went over 3RR on the main article as well as on Mark Foley Scandal (I may have actually gone over I don't remember and it isn't important). The upshot was that there were serious issues, the Wikipedia articles were in the spotlight and changing rapidly and I thought it made sense to IAR a bit. We can generally use our judgement about such situations. Circumstances like the Crum one... well, if multiple arbitrators are telling you to quit it on an Arbitration page you should probably quit it. JoshuaZ (talk) 19:02, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
That of course raises the question of how to determine what the consensus is. How would one go about doing this without discussing the material on a talk page, which would go against the WP:BLP principle of immediate removal of unsourced/poorly-sourced controversial material without prior discussion? Or would doing a single remove-revert cycle followed by discussion be acceptable, as then you did attempt to remove it "immediately"? Also, is it possible that the lack of material in BLP articles may itself be damaging, and therefore BLP also should require adding material under certain circumstances? mike4ty4 (talk) 04:32, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

Basically, I think what's going on is that we're inviting the edit-warriors back on to the wiki.

If you're so sure that you are right about some policy and must revert more than once, then surely someone else agrees with you, and will eventually do so (or even beat you to it).

If you end up going over 3 reverts, perhaps the community doesn't agree with your assessment or interpretation of that policy? (be it BLP or any other policy in general)

--Kim Bruning (talk) 00:25, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

I think the reasoning is that we really don't want people to think it's okay to not revert some crap because they might be blocked. If something was obviously true and well sourced, the 3RR could be applied, but someone spotting a really damaging and clearly unsourced statement on Wikipedia would want to remove it, so this clause allows for that. --Anticipation of a New Lover's Arrival, The 01:11, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
Well, if it is really damaging and unsourced, many people would revert it, not just you. If you're the only one reverting, perhaps you're wrong? ;-) Isn't that how 3RR was supposed to work? --Kim Bruning (talk) 02:07, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
Yes but BLP is a serious enough issue that we can't always wait for other people to show up (I'm one of the people most strongly in favor of using process to resolve BLP penumbra issues but I agree with this notion pretty strongly for traditional BLP concerns). If for example you are reverting an article repeatedly with a new editor who wants to add in completely unsourced accusations of criminal behavior, I don't think many of us would object to 3RR if you can't in the meantime find someone else to look at the matter. This is especially true on more obscure articles. As I said before (and will of course continue to do so) this is a good argument for distinguishing between tradditonal/straight/strict BLP issues and penumbra issues. JoshuaZ (talk) 02:14, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
Hehehehe, you SO sound like one of the revertwarriors of yore. :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 03:17, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
I think the point is that it's better to be an edit warrior than to sit around twiddling your thumbs while a page claims that Dame Nellie Plumbtwaddle plotted the assassination of Princess Profusia. --Anticipation of a New Lover's Arrival, The 03:24, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

I would also like to set to rest this "penumbra" nonsense. There is little or no penumbra. The occasions when there is doubt that a factual statement about a living person is being made are few. --Anticipation of a New Lover's Arrival, The 03:28, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

Er, not what I mean by penumbra. See User:JoshuaZ/Thoughts on BLP. Incidentally, agree with your comment to Kim. JoshuaZ (talk) 03:34, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps there should be an explicit requirement that whenever an editor feels they have to exceed 3RR with someone who they believe is violating BLP, they should also alert the BLP notice board. They can then continue reverting without sanction until additional help arrives, as long as they are acting in good faith.--agr (talk) 03:38, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

I agree that we could add that, or something about how it's wise to contact an administrator if you find yourself going over 3RR. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 03:42, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
I've added these words (new words are after the first clause). This should cover it without adding an actual restriction:
"The three-revert rule does not apply to such removals, though editors are advised to seek help from an administrator or at the BLP noticeboard if they find themselves violating 3RR, rather than dealing with the situation alone."
SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 03:48, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
I like that wording. The situations where the types of revert wars that happened with Crum are rare enough, aren't they, where BLP is invoked? As long as the community does issue 3RR blocks for bogus or heavily disputed situations if one person persists, that would be perfect wording. Lawrence § t/e 04:42, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
I like it as well. It advises editors to seek the input of others (an informal request for an outside opinion is a good idea in any revert war, especially when 3RR is approached or breached) yet preserves the 3RR exception for BLPs. Black Falcon (Talk) 16:41, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
Also agree. JoshuaZ (talk) 18:15, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
Add me to the support list for this addition. Going it alone usually leads to more problems, which ultimately makes resolving issues more difficult. R. Baley (talk) 18:41, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

Harrumph. I still have this sneaking suspicion that y'all just want to put on some armor, and get knee-deep in wikidrama, precisely what the 3rr was supposed to prevent.:-P

But ... this is a good start, at least. :-)

--Kim Bruning (talk) 23:33, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

On the one hand, the risk of "moar wikidramas." On the other, the risk of having legally actionable libel on the encyclopedia for one millisecond longer than necessary. I'll take the "moar wikidramas" any day. FCYTravis (talk) 05:53, 17 March 2008 (UTC)
  • I don't see any reason for it to be exempt from 3RR at all - if someone is reinserting obviously questionable material with that much persistence it should be taken to ANI or similar anyway. All that making it exempt will do is encourage edit wars and drama. -- Naerii · plz create stuff 11:30, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
    • Agreed. I see any exceptions to 3RR as just asking for trouble; these exceptions have few actual situations where they're genuinely needed, but numerous opportunities to be gamed and used as bludgeons by warriors. If you're fighting against one person inserting questionable items, they'll probably end up violating 3RR themselves. If there are a bunch of people protecting the content you object to, then maybe they're right and you're wrong. If you're still right and facing a bunch of people, you can go to AN/I or other such places for help. If somehow you can't get any help but everybody ultimately agrees you're right anyway, then you can probably get away with WP:IAR. Exactly when is an explicit exemption necessary and desirable? *Dan T.* (talk) 12:01, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

Undue weight question

Is it a contradiction or dichotomy in our policies that the "undue weight" principle is often used to remove information from a BLP that is othewise properly cited from a reliable source, and the fact that if the information was presented in an article about the event that the person was involved in, then all of the information could be included? For example, the Michael Brown Okinawa assault incident is basically about a single event that Michael Brown was the central figure in. If Brown was the subject of a BLP, however, undue weight would probably limit the amount of information on the assault incident that could be included in Brown's BLP article. If so, does that mean the way around the "undue weight" rule is simply to write an article about the single event or issue in question? Cla68 (talk) 03:37, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Unfamiliar with the case but I'll have a go at a guess at an answer from what it sounds like.
If the article is the person, then the subject is the person, so it'll be some bio information, info on things that are relvant to their bio, and so on (however much or little). The focus though is them as a bio-subject, and the incident is only part of that. But if it's an 'incident' article, then the articles topic is the incident, and the person is only part of it. It changes which is primary focus, which is secondary.
So both will cover the incident and person to an extent, but the bio article will add to it by covering more of the person (youth, school, work, etc) and not so much extra detail on the incident... whereas the incident article will add to it by covering more of the prior background to the incident, maybe its cultural or social context more, the others in it, the impact, the aftermath etc, and not so much extra detail on the specific person.
Any help? Thats my feeling... FT2 (Talk | email) 06:50, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, I think I understand the difference. Cla68 (talk) 07:23, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

BLP Deletions and DRV - spawned from Don Murphy mess

Please review this deletion log. So, if any admin deletes any BLP article and invokes BLP as the reason, it must go through DRV, even if the person is clearly notable? I'd like to just understand this. If that is the case, and I deleted Jamie Lee Curtis, Thomas Ian Nicholas, or Mary Donohue, to pick some random BLPs, and someone undeleted them, the undeleter would be sanctioned? Lawrence § t/e 16:00, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

DRV is certainly the place for it, and especially in this case that is not exactly a random BLP case, I would suggest arbcom or an rfc would be the course of action if sanctions were to be applied against someone restoring a speedied BLP article without recourse to DRV first. Thanks, SqueakBox 16:08, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
And the notability of a subject takes no role in this? An admin can delete Barack Obama, cite BLP, and tie everyone's hands into DRV? I know this is an extreme example, but this idea seems to be a very good intention that leaves a possible loophole. Shouldn't the deleter have to cite why under BLP? Lawrence § t/e 16:11, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

It does seem that an admin may delete any biography citing BLP and require review to occur at DRV. From the Badlydrawnjeff ArbCom decision:

Summary deletion of BLPs
4) Any administrator, acting on their own judgment, may delete an article that is substantially a biography of a living person if they believe that it (and every previous version of it) significantly violates any aspect of the relevant policy. This deletion may be contested via the usual means; however, the article must not be restored, whether through undeletion or otherwise, without an actual consensus to do so. The burden of proof is on those who wish to retain the article to demonstrate that it is compliant with every aspect of the policy.

Notability is not an element of the principle it would seem. ArbCom can of course be asked to review and clarify its past decisions. WjBscribe 16:16, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

You have a good point about Obama, Lawrence, and this, I think, is at the heart of the BLP problem, some would argue if you remove the Obama article that makes it likely you are a Clinton supporter trying to influence the election, and that is clearly wrong. Thanks, SqueakBox 16:19, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
The idea that any admin can unilaterally delete should be rejected by the community. And in cases like the current one, where the last input by the community on the question was (afaik) a clear consensus keep as established by a proper AfD nom, it is the admin who disregards the clear community opinion who should be worried about his/her bit. The route to deletion should be through AfD. R. Baley (talk) 17:04, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

I think the article should be deleted, but I agree that this policy needs more fleshing out—it's way too subjective and prone to cause drama. That said, we would want to put our thumb on the scale of favoring BLP deletion.

Perhaps we would say that BLP admin deletions can occur if and only if the admin believes that the majority of the community would favor deletion after the fact, and that frivolous deletions might be sanctionable. I think this makes more sense because we're really (in my opinion) talking about IAR deletions. Cool Hand Luke 17:09, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

In general we expect admins to exercise good judgement in using their powers. I don't think it's necessary to add a qualifier every place authority is granted to admins. In this particular case, we can survive nicely without the article in question until DRV is completed. If an admin deleted the Obama article, I suspect it would be restored and we would have one less admin, both rather quickly, using IAR if necessary. --agr (talk) 17:23, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
Good point. IAR and common sense work in both directions, but I still think these cases should be rare. Cool Hand Luke 17:55, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
In the current case, I can't believe there was a real expectation that even a majority would have agreed with deletion (given the 2 AfD's; just saw the 2nd one, a little over 2 months after the first one in June of 2007). And even in the current DRV (AfD?) a lot of the delete !votes are made on the basis of "tired of this issue -make it go away," do editors consider this a valid basis/argument for deletion? R. Baley (talk) 17:33, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
I do tend to agree that this kind of preemptive deletion should not happen, yes. The policy should be rewritten to discourage this kind of thing. That said, BLP headaches are (in my view) a legitimate reason to delete. Cool Hand Luke 17:55, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

We asked about this at about the time of the Badlydrawnjeff arbitration. The feeling seemed to be that nobody was about to delete, say, Barack Obama but if they did it would be restored quickly (Ignore all rules). If on the other hand a more obscure article goes, what's the hurry? Getting it right under the policy takes precedence. --Anticipation of a New Lover's Arrival, The 18:46, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

Getting it right under the policy takes precedence? Tony, you've become a bureaucrat! --Kim Bruning (talk) 19:01, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
Don't think so. It's implied by ignore all rules, too, but I sometimes speak bureaucratese (inexpertly). --Anticipation of a New Lover's Arrival, The 19:08, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

Of course, we do seem to be missing something in the ArbCom decision quoted by WJB above:

Any administrator, acting on their own judgment, may delete an article that is substantially a biography of a living person if they believe that it (and every previous version of it) significantly violates any aspect of the relevant policy.

The words I would point to are "and every previous version of it." In all the examples given above, from Barack Obama to Jamie Lee Curtis, there will be an "uncontroversial" version which can be restored over that which has caused a particular admin concern. The Don Murphy article was no different, and so a DRV should not have been necessary, as it wouldn't be with either Obama or Curtis. The loophole as described will in fact only ever be exploitable on new pages. Steve TC 12:09, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

  • Endorse marking this section as disputed. It has caused great concern, encouraging as it does a mindset of radical deletion contrary to the spirit of BLP (seek a high quality article if possible, rather than automatically click "delete" if there is a perceived issue), culminating in this (the Don Murphy) case. See below. FT2 (Talk | email) 12:58, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

Proposed rewrite of disputed section

I have had a go at rewriting this section to clarify it. My approach was as follows:

  1. Provide a general principle that we rectify flaws in articles where possible, rather than delete them. This is a long-standing principle on the wiki, if there is a problem with an article (or page) try first of all to fix it. For BLP the priority is fix/remedy it; if that can't be done then delete the offending material and discuss the issue eg on the talk page, and if that can't be readily/easily done then delete the entire page.
  2. I have separated the "deletion" section into three parts - AFD deletion, summary deletion, and the policy on deleted material (eg don't restore it to other articles, burden of proof for undeleting, etc). This seemed far more useful than "deletion" vs "disputed deletion".
  3. I took the view that for cases where the suitability of the article was in doubt, AFD is the usual route. That would cover questions like notability or WP:NOT. Summary deletion by any admin is then more for cases where the issue is more that the material is negative, unsourced or poorly sourced, non-neutral etc, and cannot readily be fixed and the admin feels its simpler to delete than fix, which seems the actual intent of things.
  4. I don't think I've changed much else.

This preserves the important default that offending material unable to be easily rectified should be removed, and deleted material should not be restored until policy compliance (especially sourcing, npov etc) is achieved, with burden of proof on the restorer to show this. (Note this is moved to the subsection 'After deletion') But it clarifies that if the material is readily fixable, it's still preferable in wiki terms to try and fix it, which was missing.

I also noted under "protection" that (as with all protection) allowing editing is desirable. Maybe this can be worded better; the point is as usual if its 1 or 2 editors that are a problem one should address the alleged BLP-breaching editors rather than protect a page long term. (Same as for most edit wars). Page protection is then more a transient step in doing so. If this can be better worded then please do so.

I don't know if it's perfect but I think it's an improvement.


FT2 (Talk | email) 12:58, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

I like these changes. This should squash confusion in the future. Well written, as usual, FT2. Well organized, covers all bases. Good job. LaraLove 13:33, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
In my opinion, the last sentence is the most important, and needs to be moved to the top of the new "BLP deletion standards" as an overarching principle. i.e. this:
Further, the burden of proof is on those who wish to retain or undelete the article to demonstrate that it is policy-compliant, written neutrally to a high standard, and based on good quality reliable sources.
..should be moved to the top and revised along the lines of:
In order to ensure that biographical material of living people is always policy-compliant, written neutrally to a high standard, and based on good quality reliable sources, the burden of proof is on those who wish to retain or undelete an article.
Alternatively, if it is kept at the bottom, it could be promoted to a sub-section (for easy linking) and expanded a little. John Vandenberg (talk) 13:35, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Following discussion, one further edit:
  1. The restoration of deleted content now has its own more visible subsection. I have tentatively added the following wording:
    If the material is to be restored without significant change, then consensus must be obtained first, and wherever possible, disputed deletions should be discussed with the administrator who deleted the article. If the material is proposed to be significantly repaired or rewritten to address the concerns, then it may need discussion or may be added to the article; this should be considered case-by-case. In any event if the matter becomes disputed it should not be added back without discussion and consensus-seeking.
    This aims to fix the problem that someone who sees a paragraph deleted for BLP reasons and decides to fix it otherwise couldnt do so without asking the deleting user, whatever the "required fix" might be, including a rewrite! But (anti-gaming measure) if a rewrite is disputed or its a disputed deletion where the user proposes to restore without change, it should be discussed first.
  2. Added the issue John was mostly thinking of, that at AFD there is a presumption of deletion if no consensus to keep is found, which is different than normal.
FT2 (Talk | email) 14:07, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. The added clarity is good. John Vandenberg (talk) 14:23, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
I too think this new version by FT2 is much better. The old version was a bit patronizing, basically just saying "undeletion = bad," with no room for questioning. I like that the new version explains the complicated issues involved, as well as stressing the need for good administrative judgment on a case-by-case basis. krimpet 14:33, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
I like the changes as well, but I'm not sure about this last addition (the AFD paragraph). This looks like a major policy change to me that might require more discussion. All biography articles (only those about living persons, I assume) should be deleted when there's no consensus in an AFD? Even those where BLP problems don't play a role at all? Why? I've had a look at some recent AFDs, and with this new rule, Jael Strauss, Darren M Jackson, Alycia Lane, Irene Hirano and Michelle Morgan would have been deleted. Two of those articles (Michelle Morgan and Alycia Lane) might have BLP problems, but the other three seem to be perfectonly reasonable articles to me (at least when it comes to WP:BIO). What would we gain from deleting them? --Conti| 15:27, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Would any of these work better, Conti?
  1. "Note that for a deletion discussion of a biographical article, the traditional AFD standard is reversed -- a closing decision of 'no consensus' is taken as delete and not keep."
  2. "Note that for a deletion discussion of a biographical article on BLP grounds, the traditional AFD standard is reversed -- a closing decision of 'no consensus' is taken as delete and not keep."
  3. "Note that for a deletion discussion of a biographical article where BLP is a concern, the traditional AFD standard may be reversed -- a closing decision of 'no consensus' may be taken as delete and not keep."
May need discussing but for now I've tentatively edited in (2) as likely to be non-contentious (if the deletion isn't on BLP grounds then unlikely to need BLP-related special handling for no consensus).
For what it's worth my own preference is to replace "is" by "may be", per (3), to allow admin discretion in tricky AFDs (as with subject requests for deletion), but I'm unsure how others feel. FT2 (Talk | email) 17:06, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification, FT2. My preference would be (3) as well, but I'm fine with the current change. --Conti| 17:22, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
I have reverted the change. The question of reversing deletion standards for BLPs received a lengthy and heated discussion some months ago, and there was no consensus for its implementation. Is there any evidence that consensus has changed? Black Falcon (Talk) 17:42, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Hmm, couldn't we work the two paragraphs in the AFD based deletion section into one? Something like "If BLP reasons are cited (or "are a major concern", maybe?) in an AFD about a living person, the closing admin may delete the article even if the result is 'no consensus'". I'm not very good at wording these things, but I hope the meaning is clear. :) Maybe it should be mentioned that a no consensus deletion should have a closing rationale (apart from "Result: No consensus, article deleted"), too. --Conti| 17:39, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Unsure; it's not a million miles out so maybe see what others think too. FT2 (Talk | email) 17:43, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
While I don't think it is a good idea to give consideration to the subjects wishes due to conflict of interest and NPOV, I do find the new wording better than the previous. It is made clear that the closing admin should use their discretion when deciding how much weight to give the subject's wishes, I just hope they remember NPOV when the use that discretion. (1 == 2)Until 17:29, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
(Point of fact, that discretion was in the original version too; it's left unchanged.) FT2 (Talk | email) 17:43, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Nice rewrite to the section but would definitly support having the 3rd option with 'may be' as the wording for BLP related AFDs as the wording which was what I think we currently have as the practice, rather than a quite sweeping no consensus means deletion on all bios. Davewild (talk) 23:01, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
I would go with option (2), as option (3) leaves too much room for problematic wikilawyering, especially at putative DRVs - if previous experience is anything to go by. Otherwise this is a very good rewrite.Black Kite 00:44, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
I think the rewrite of the page makes a good job of clarifying the policy and certainly represents an improvement. My personal opinion would be to favour the third of the above options. While I would tend to agree that option two might reduce wikilawyering over individual AfDs, I think it would be probably be too heavy handed not to leave an element of discretion in whether it ended up deleted or not in the instance of a lack of consensus. Will (aka Wimt) 01:55, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Fair enough to this whole thread, but based on some of Viridae's comments on his talk page, his motive for deletion was notability. BLP was the pretext only. The issue is whether or not an admin can delete based on his own personal assessment of notability. This wasn't exactly speedy-delete material, I think we can all agree. The AfD process should be respected unless the BLP issues are overwhelming enough to make an article unkeepable in any of its known diffs. Girolamo Savonarola (talk) 03:57, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

An admin can delete unilaterally based on notability, but it is a near certainty that DRV will call that an incorrect use of admin tools. There really is no legitimate recourse for admins to unilaterally decide something is not notable and then go and delete it, especially after there is a clear consensus to the contrary. (1 == 2)Until 14:58, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
The problem we are dealing with in cases like the Murphy deletion and others are that people have deleted people who they agree are notable citing BLP. And then we get retroactive claims that the person isn't actually notable (like we got here and like what we got with Brandt). Essentially, this comes down to the strict BLP v. BLP penumbra issue as discussed at User:JoshuaZ/Thoughts on BLP. What we should do is just make it so that BLP-penumbra issues require AfDs. And claims of deletion based on notability of people who have already gone through AfD? That's ridiculous and shouldn't bother requiring a DRV to overturn. JoshuaZ (talk) 04:23, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

I have edited the "Summary deletion" section to match the introduction of the BLP policy, which states: "Unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material about living persons ... should be removed immediately and without waiting for discussion, from Wikipedia articles, talk pages, user pages, and project space." Black Falcon (Talk) 04:10, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

Saw that, and concur. Also yes you were right.. unspotted edit summary. Thanks :) FT2 (Talk | email) 07:19, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

Suggest a brainstorm subpage

The dead trees standard interpretation I proposed for courtesy BLP deletions worked pretty well last summer but obviously goes farther than the community is comfortable with. Trouble is, no one has proposed a well defined standard to take its place. So let's set up a brainstorming locale where we can set up something clear and consistent to short circuit these periodic wikidramas over BLP deletion requests. DurovaCharge! 19:30, 23 March 2008 (UTC)

Well, If people actually read User:JoshuaZ/Thoughts on BLP like I recommend (hint I'm recommending it not just out of egotistical self-promotion) they would see a section where I list at least two other possible standards, willing public figure (which I favor) and NOB (no original online biography standard). The second standard is that standard that is favored by WAS however, depending on how one interprets it one gets very different results (what constitutes a biography enough is highly open to debate). I believe that the standard of willing public figure is an easy test that would lead to the most sensible result. JoshuaZ (talk) 20:20, 23 March 2008 (UTC)

Discussion and proposals on protecting biographies.

SirFozzie has written a few proposals here that involve protecting biographies of living people upon request. I've also written a different set of criteria for article protection here. It'd be great if we could get some more input about this from a wider range of people... please take a look if you have time. Please comment there to keep things centralised. Thanks! -- Naerii 04:00, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

1885 cutoff

Category:Disappeared people says "For any individual born before 1885 whose year of death remains undetermined, please change this category to Category:Year of death unknown." Category:Possibly living people says "For any individual born before 1886 whose year of death remains undetermined, please change this category to Category:Year of death missing." In both cases the See also section links to Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons with the note "presume person still alive if born after 1885". However, I come here and the page says no such thing. I understand it makes sense to apply BLP to Steve Fossett and Natalee Holloway and even Judge Crater since it's vaguely possible one of them could show up still breathing, but where is this rule codified?  Randall Bart   Talk  03:32, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

The cutoff is 1885 because no one has ever lived longer than 122 years. (FWIW, the one person proven to have lived so long was Jeanne Calment.) So if someone was born more than 122 years ago, it's 100% certain he or she is dead. While it's extremely unlikely a disappeared or possibly living person has lived that long, this is still a useful cutoff point because it's the boundary between assuming a person is dead and knowing it. szyslak (t) 04:03, 24 March 2008 (UTC)


Sorry if this is a stupid question, but why do BLP have to adhere strictly to the law in Florida? Is that where the Wikipedia servers are located or something? Was Florida inserted as vandalism? I'm confused. Thanks, Helikophis (talk) 17:35, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

You are correct. The servers are located in Florida. Would there be any objection to adding a footnote to the policy noting that the servers' location is the reason for this? JoshuaZ (talk) 02:25, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
We have equipment located in South Korea and Europe as well. Wikimedia Foundation was incorporated and used to be headquartered in Florida as well as having its main servers there. Now we are headquartered in California. Further, since volunteers and Foundation employees can be extradited and/or charged where they live around the world, perhaps specifying "Florida" is a bit simplistic. Perhaps the Foundation lawyer could be asked to the proper phrasing. WAS 4.250 (talk) 04:59, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
I don't know why specific laws are even mentioned. We don't need people (especially non-lawyers) trying to interpret laws to apply to Wikipedia content and I would hope that we could do better with BLPs than simply ensuring that they aren't criminal libel. Would there be any objection to removing or generalizing it? Mr.Z-man 18:22, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps changing it to merely be a reference to WP:LIBEL, which covers all libel including related to BLPs anyway. WAS 4.250 (talk) 18:59, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for bringing up this interesting point. I made a post here about it earlier (look higher up this page) that was ignored/got no responses, and I'd be curious to hear some discussion about this. What happens when someone who is not a lawyer themselves or is too poor to consult a lawyer (like me, for example) gets involved with that? mike4ty4 (talk) 04:39, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
I would have no objection to adding a footnote to the statement "Such material requires a high degree of sensitivity, and must adhere strictly to the law in Florida, United States and to our content policies..." that reads something along the lines of this (without the messagebox, I just wanted to format the note for ease of reading):
This leaves open the possibility that other laws may (and do!) apply, while specifying why Florida is mentioned in this context. In this manner, something that might not be OK everywhere isn't permitted just because Florida might be ok with it. Incidentally, if we have servers elsewhere, we should probably mention them if their laws apply differently as a result. UltraExactZZ Claims ~ Evidence 12:12, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
What about the lawyering thing I mentioned? mike4ty4 (talk) 20:09, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. It would make sense to include some explanation. I do like your solution, UltraexactZZ. Helikophis (talk) 13:19, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

Too little information?


Is it possible for a BLP to be damaging if it has too little information in it? What I had in mind was what if one were to just remove every unsourced statement in a BLP without bothering to check for sources or level of controversy surrounding each claim? mike4ty4 (talk) 20:12, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

Yes, it would, if the removal of information would lead to a violation of WP:NPOV. Suppose a 10K article has a bunch of unsourced information about the subject's accomplishments, and a single sourced sentence about the time they were charged with possession. If you deleted all the unsourced stuff, that would be giving the possession charge extraordinarily undue weight. Best thing to do in that case is to source some of the other stuff. If that's not possible, and the other stuff is in any way contentious, then you should stubify it. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 23:02, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

Photographs of living people

Should this policy include a section on photographs of living people? Merle Terlesky requested that his photo be removed (the photo was released under the GFDL, so there were no copyright issues) on the basis that it posed a threat to his safety, and I confess to having had no idea of how to handle it. It has since been removed following an OTRS request, but I think policy would be useful on this front. Note that I have no proposals as to what that policy should look like. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 22:49, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

I think that specific example is not a reasonable request as his image is already publicly available, including on his own web site. I do however agree that in cases where a persons appearance is not known to the public that in some cases could be an unacceptable release of personal information. For example if someone interupted a sporting event and caused a game to change outcome and the persons face was not known, it would be a really irresponsibilt to publish it, and a bit of original research. (1 == 2)Until 22:52, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
I agree completely that absolutely no threat was posed to his safety by the image. I just would have found it useful to have some policy as to who makes that determination, on what basis they make it, and whether the picture stays up or goes down in the meantime. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 22:56, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
Indeed if he publishes self-photos on his own web site, it is frivolous to ask us to omit free photos of him based on privacy concerns. If he has a photo which he'd rather have us use, he only needs to release it under an appropriate free license. — CharlotteWebb 02:10, 25 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm wary of codifying too much. To an extent, its best we let the few cases where there really is contention be solved case-by-case. FT2 (Talk | email) 06:04, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

One Event

Discussion here appears to have fizzled out. The history of WP:BLP1E's place here in policy has been contentious from the start. I shall put another merge tag on the section, and if there are no notable objections, remove the section from here, rediverting the shortcuts to WP:BIO1E. It's not a question of deleting the advice, just a question of putting the advice in the right place and the most appropriate context. SilkTork *YES! 15:19, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

I support this merger! --Kevin Murray (talk) 23:23, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
Tentative concerns, I think, from me... at least till more discussed. BLP1E is often quite important for living people who are tangential to an event, or (by definition) only notable for one thing. In such cases there's probably quite a strong presumption that the event is more relevant than the person and in many of these cases we shouldnt have an article on the person. Putting that in WP:N might dilute it, I fear. BLP is a strong policy, and will carry a lot of weight in removing biographical articles that we should merge into the event, or redirect to the main topic. I'm concerned that the same text in WP:N wouldn't carry that weight, leading to us keeping bio articles that we usually would merge or redirect. Would it have the same weight as (say) WP:N1E? If it would then I'd be happier. Also, is it better viewed as an aspect of notability (WP:N), or of privacy (WP:BLP)? FT2 (Talk | email) 03:19, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm not entirely sure I follow your concerns. Your comments appear to me to read like a discussion on notability, which would fall under the notability guideline. It is right and proper that people should on a case by case basis be discussing if an individual who is known for only one event be considered notable enough for a standalone article. I'm not sure why we would need to have a policy on this. A guideline, yes, to give people the benefit of feedback from previous discussions, and why one person was considered notable for one event while another wasn't, but a policy? A policy saying what? "Cover the event, not the person"? - which sounds like there isn't room for discussion on why some single event individuals are considerable notable. But there is room, and there are a good number of articles on single event individuals. SilkTork *YES! 18:52, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Daniel Brandt (redirect only) on DRV

See Wikipedia:Deletion review/Log/2008 March 24. We don't have a policy regarding redirects, or anything close to this, so I suspect that this discussion is definitely relevant to WP:BLP (as it will probably result in something being formed). -- Ned Scott 06:51, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Help regarding Mark Wills

Recently, Swelchmgt (talk · contribs) has been removing Mark Wills' birth name from his article, stating in the edit summary that he (Wills) wishes to have his birth name removed "for the privacy and security of his family". Note, however, that his full name is clearly identified in his All Music Guide biography (and possibly other sources too). The "mgt" part of this user's name has me believing that the user in question is possibly Wills' manager. Having never dealt with BLP issues like this before, I would like to know what should be done. Ten Pound Hammer and his otters(Broken clamshellsOtter chirps) 22:48, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

Need to clarify on WP:RS blog entries about BLP

I don't know if this has been discussed before but it is causing problems in an article (and could be issue in a couple others I can think of). It needs to be re-written for clarification. Wikipedia:Biographies_of_living_persons#Reliable_sources reads: Self-published books, zines, websites, and blogs should never be used as a source for material about a living person, unless written or published by the subject of the article (see below).

However, if blogs published by WP:RS (whether or not the person is edited) can be used to convey possibly libelous material, this section should say so explicitly. Similarly, for when the blog entry itself becomes news carried by mainstream sources. Carol Moore 15:48, 29 March 2008 (UTC)Carolmooredc {talk}

Given no response, I'll just change the article text per below and if people don't like it, maybe then we can discuss. :-)
"Because mainstream reliable source blogs may or may not be edited, only those which the Wikipedia editor can prove are approved by a reliable source editor will not be considered self-published." Carol Moore 23:32, 31 March 2008 (UTC)Carolmooredc {talk}
I don't know what this means. Among other things, what is a "reliable source editor"? I'm removing the line. 2005 (talk) 00:56, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
you wrote in edit summary: "no need to repeat in different words what the external links guideline says, and has said for literally years." It would help if you provided the relevant link(s). There is a whole discussion on this in one mediation where even the mediator hasn't been able to explain the policy on whether mainstream blogs can be used as RS in BLP. People seem to think yes, if the blog is edited by one of the sources editors, but not sure. Even if this is somewhere else, shouldn't it be here?? Carol Moore 02:29, 1 April 2008 (UTC)Carolmooredc {talk}
That line was refering to the other edit. The first thing you need to seek is clarification from WP:V about non-self-published blogs, then come back here as WP:V trumps this since if they don't allow it in general, then obviously they are not approriate for BLPs since this policy is a restriction on general policies. If WP:V does allow them, then this policy doesn't comment on them, so they would be allowed. If WP:V doesn't allow them, then a comment disallowing them here would be approriate if there is a consensus for one. 2005 (talk) 04:46, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
Actually I did that before coming back here and found this. Should this footnote be here too? Or some other variation for BLP?
"Blogs" in this context refers to personal and group blogs. Some newspapers host interactive columns that they call blogs, and these may be acceptable as sources so long as the writers are professionals and the blog is subject to the newspaper's full editorial control. Where a news organization publishes the opinions of a professional but claims no responsibility for the opinions, the writer of the cited piece should be attributed (e.g. "Jane Smith has suggested..."). Posts left by readers may never be used as sources.
Carol Moore 00:36, 2 April 2008 (UTC)Carolmooredc {talk}

Help regarding Major Alan G. Rogers

Could someone with experience in controversial biography articles please come over to the Major Alan G. Rogers and help with that article. Thanks, Remember (talk) 20:15, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

I've just completed a major overhaul. Comments, suggestions, additions, deletions or corrections are welcome.--Robapalooza (talk) 07:03, 2 April 2008 (UTC)


Ned, please don't keep adding disputed tags to policies. Discuss here if you disagree, please. SlimVirgin talk|edits 16:29, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

This section was disputed very recently and may legitimately still be. In this case I am inclined to concur with Ned, and leave the tag in a while, to alert others that despite lack of further dissent since previous work, the section may still in fact be open to discussion and consensus. (Ie, if it really isn't disputed any more, time will tell.) FT2 (Talk | email) 18:00, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
There are always parts of policy pages that are disputed, but we can't go around tagging them all, or they'd be full of tags. And I think Ned will always dispute it. SlimVirgin talk|edits 18:13, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
Considering recent events around Don Murphy and even Daniel Brandt, the level of dispute for parts of the section are enough to completely remove those parts right now. Consider yourself lucky that all we're asking for is a tag. -- Ned Scott 02:15, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
I don't follow deletion debates often, so I'm not aware of the disputes. Can you say exactly which part of it you disagree with, and what wording you'd like to see replace it?
We really can't just tag policies, or parts thereof, that we disagree with. There's plenty of policy I don't like myself, but it'd be wrong to turn up there and slap a tag on it. These things have to be worked out on talk pages, even if it takes a long time. SlimVirgin talk|edits 18:12, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

"the law in Florida USA"

I see that some changes are being made with respect to this. Please be aware that applicable legislation varies from state to state, and thus it is necessary to specify which state's law applies. Incidentally, it should probably be verified with the Foundation whether the Foundation is going to become a "California" organization or remain a "Florida" one. It's possible that either state may have jurisdiction, anyway - the WMF is in California, but the servers are in Florida. Risker (talk) 07:55, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Asked Mike, and changed wording to "must adhere strictly to applicable laws in the United States and to our content policies" which is less state-specific. Its complex, and we really can't give legal advice in that kind of detail. FT2 (Talk | email) 07:45, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

Two sentences

I've reverted an edit the second time, as follows, because having looked again I cannot see how this edit can help the page. It covers four changes:

  • "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."
This is about reliable sources, not BLP. The section it's in is titled "reliable sources"; the sentence before it I've linked to Wikipedia:Reliable sources. We don't need WP:BLP to actually cover the detail of WP:RS at this point; it's enough simply to link to it. We're explained it in detail. No obvious benefit.
  • "When in doubt, biographies should be pared back to a version that is sourced, neutral, and on-topic"
As explained in previous edit summary, this is valid text - except it is already in the article with identical wording no less than three times already(!), including barely a couple of sentences previously in the section header:
== Preventing BLP violations ==

...When in doubt, biographies should be pared back to a version that is sourced to good quality sources, neutral, and on-topic. Administrative tools such as page protection and deletion may also at times be necessary.

=== Semi-protection and protection ===
Administrators who suspect malicious or biased editing, or who have reason to believe that violating material may be re-added, may protect or semi-protect the page after removing the disputed material. It is generally more desirable in the medium and long term to obtain compliance with this policy by editors, in order that the article may be kept open for editing wherever possible. When in doubt, biographies should be pared back to a version that is sourced, neutral, and on-topic.

1/ Pointless repetition, 2/ relevant to "preventing violations" as a whole, not specifically "protection".
  • Removal of "disputed" tag
if a user sees this as disputed, then I won't disagree. It was clearly disputed and it may well be that it is not yet 100% agreed. leave tag in place a while.
  • Replacement of advice with mandatory email
I suspect this was "also included" rather than actually intended. The sentence as it would be written, states "if in doubt use email". Better advice is to explain what to avoid (the problem) " unbiased consultation is still important, but one should take care not to publish effectively the same information in seeking advice", and to "consider" alternative means of which email might be just one.

For the above reasons I have reverted this edit as a reduction in wording quality. FT2 (Talk | email) 17:58, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

FT2, these sentences have been in the policy for some time. If someone objects to a policy addition or removal, you shouldn't really revert back. It needs to be discussed on talk instead.
The sentence, "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," is there because it's something that's disputed a lot and leads to lots of revert wars, with people saying no, it can't be added because it's self-published. Therefore, this was added to clarify.
I wasn't aware that the other sentence was already there. Perhaps it should be moved instead. I'll take another look. SlimVirgin talk|edits 18:17, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I see now it's there twice already. My apologies for adding it a third time. SlimVirgin talk|edits 18:46, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
The blog sentence is an obvious content fork. Official sites are allowed by the external links guideline. It is bad to be redundant in different wording. All that does is create confusion and lead to lawyering over mega-subtleties in differences in the wording. This policy exists to highlight differences in treating BLP articles, not to say "oh, BLP articles have the same official site external link rules as every other site." That's just adding clutter. 2005 (talk) 20:52, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
So the issue is basically, that personal sites are being caught as "selfpub" and deleted?? Is that the concern? If so it can probably be handled more gracefully. FT2 (Talk | email) 02:47, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
The issue is that people use the selfpub issue as an excuse to remove personal websites from EL, even when the website belongs to the subject of the BLP; and they do this when they don't like the BLP in question, not because they care deeply about our sourcing policies. :) This is the place to point out that it's allowed. The sourcing policy, V, doesn't get into that kind of detail, and it's important to stress in this policy that the subject's voice may be heard, even if it's only a self-published voice, and even if only in EL.
Now, there may be occasions where we want to remove a personal website from EL if it contains questionable material about other people, but that's quite difficult to enforce given that people can change the contents of a website at any time. It's also the kind of issue that ends up with people tussling back and forth, so we've not mentioned it here, and I think we probably shouldn't. Ultimately, that has to boil down to common sense. SlimVirgin talk|edits 18:18, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
[with malice toward none, with charity for all, ...], I may add that as the saying goes common sense is rather uncommon :) no offense intended indeed! --Bhadani (talk) 18:32, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes, indeed. The problem with not relying on common sense is that instead you have to expand the policies to cover every eventuality. And the problem with endless expansion is that, the more detailed the policies, the more common sense is needed to interpret them if they're not to turn into weapons to beat people with. So we're often caught between a rock and a hard place, common sense-wise. :) SlimVirgin talk|edits 19:05, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

Unfortunately, too many wikipedians want clear rules to tell them how to edit articles on subjects they lack a background in and haven't read the sources for. Actually understanding the subject cuts down on the edit count and prevents a timely leveling up. WAS 4.250 (talk) 19:37, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

I've reworded that part slightly to try and emphasize how and when self-pubs are exceptionally allowed. It now emphasizes much more directly 1/ that Unreliable sources should never be used and 2/ that self-pub in some cases are an exception, if cited as such, and then "see below". FT2 (Talk | email) 07:55, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

BLP flowchart

I thought a flowchart would be helpful here (as at BRD, CONSENSUS etc).

Image:BLP flowchart.svg

Thoughts whether this would work as a general approach?

FT2 (Talk | email) 06:07, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

Actually, I think that is excellent. Incredibly unambiguous, easy to follow and easy to implement. Yep - Alison 06:28, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Very logical, and I think it will be very useful. One question, though: from the flowchart, it looks as though deletions of a sentence or paragraph for BLP purposes are to be contested at DRV. I'm not sure DRV is really set up to address such partial deletions. More to the point, it's likely that the material may be reinserted weeks or months after the fact by a different editor who has no knowledge of the prior deletion of a section of material; how will future editors know that a partial deletion has been done? Risker (talk) 06:33, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Make it SVG, and we got a deal forsure. :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 07:20, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Risker - it needs fine tuning to the wording, the important words are in the policy of course... the title of that box says "Recreation forbidden unless the offending material is remedied or consensus agrees", so the text under it needs a couple more "for instances". And Kim, MZMcBride already said he'd SVG it tomorrow :) FT2 (Talk | email) 07:24, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
<3 --Kim Bruning (talk) 07:32, 22 March 2008 (UTC) in SVG, text is actually text, so it's trivially easy to adjust wording. I just wish the wiki could support it natively :-)
Done. FT2 (Talk | email) 14:30, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
I like this somewhat. It is a lot more sensible than what we have now, however the wording that says "in most cases" take to AfD bothers me. Why should we leave a vague exception? Just say take to AfD. Otherwise this won't in practice change anything. JoshuaZ (talk) 15:54, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

The BLP standard is "Unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material about living persons — whether the material is negative, positive, or just questionable". The flowchart misrepresents this. It is very important for NPOV that we not bias claims about living persons in favor of the subject of the article. Seemingly positive things about the subject can be negative claims about other living people, for example. Further some seemingly positive things can be viewed as negative by the person themselves (different people have different views about being called a "liberal" or a "fundamentalist Christian" for example. WAS 4.250 (talk) 20:48, 23 March 2008 (UTC)

That's a very good point. JoshuaZ (talk) 21:23, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
Agreed. Also, there can be a problem with extreme or contentious interpretations of phrases such as "poorly sourced", "contentious", "conjectural interpretation", etc. In the Prem Rawat pages controversy, an editor has been accused of abusing the BLP aggressive deletion provisions to justify edit-warring. What is the procedure for resolving questions of interpretation on these phrases? Msalt (talk) 18:15, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

Problem with this policy

QUOTING the policy:

"Unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material about living persons — whether the material is negative, positive, or just questionable — should be removed immediately and without waiting for discussion, from Wikipedia articles, talk pages, user pages, and project space."

Suppose I come to an article which has zero sources. I should immediately delete the unsourced contentious material. I can leave in the unsourced but uncontentious parts.

The problem is, how do I know which is which?

For example, if there is a statement that "John Smith has a restaurant in Topeka, Kansas and is an excellent chef." The statement doesn't sound contentious to me, but maybe half the good folk of Topeka have become ill from eating at the restaurant. If so, it is a very contentious statement.

Wanderer57 (talk) 05:28, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Unfortunately, there's no good answer, because the wording here has became very poor. It should say "unsourced negative material must be removed in all places". Whether something is "contentious" isn't relevant in such cases. If an aricle says "John Smith has a restaurant in Topeka, Kansas where many people were poisoned", it should be promptly removed if not well sourced even if we personally know its true (say you got poisoned yourself). Also, little harm is done by having contentious material left on talk pages, if it's neutral or positive (as long as it's not promotional). --Rob (talk) 23:20, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
Nonsense. All long standing versions refer to contentious or the equivalent. NPOV requires that we don't leave positive claims that are questionable any more than negative ones that are questionable. And immediate removal of questionable claims is only for cases where the potential harm is significant (libel, BLP, medical advice, etc) since this a a collaborative amateur effort and eventualism is part of our process. WAS 4.250 (talk) 23:56, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
To say a restaurant poisoned someone is obviously a contentious statement. A true statement can also be a contentious one. Ty 00:20, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
True, but the context is "Unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material". The contentiousness or questionableness being referred to is about whether or not the claim in question is adequately sourced to reliable published sources or not. If it is so sourced, then being contentious or questioned on other grounds is not relevant to this section of policy. Context determines meaning. WAS 4.250 (talk) 00:41, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
To make it clear, I was agreeing with you and replying to the statement preceding yours. Ty 00:46, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
Thank you all for the feedback. WAS 4.250's answer sounds very authoritative. However, it doesn't answer my question of how to know if a particular statement is controversial.
I offered the example of a hypothetical John Smith with a restaurant in Topeka. The issue is much more serious than that one example might suggest. A statement that sounds harmless and uncontroversial to me or another editor may be a sparkplug for controversy in some community or some dispute in which the subject is involved. Wanderer57 (talk) 00:37, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
We used editorial judgement to get it right to the best of our abilities. Ty 00:47, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
This is a real world problem that can not be solved with a few words in a policy. It takes research and thoughtfulness. On the one hand we don't want to delete every minor claim in every BLP just because that specific claim does not have an in-line citation after it. Nor do we wish to allow "Jon was arrested for murder" based on a claim that it says so somewhere in a book that is out of print and not available in a local library. We need to research the subject of articles, get a feel for what sources are reliable for what claims and make adult thoughtful careful editorial choices. This can not be done by following a rote by the numbers approach. For example, there may be a claim in an article that someone has a dog, but he is in a court case that rests on his claim that he does not have a dog. We can not evaluate which claims are questionable outside the context of a specific case and research into that case. We had someone who knew nothing about professional athletes removing well known facts about professional athletes just because there was no in-line cite following those claims. That is exactly wrong. But if you are well read on a subject, a gut feel that some claim seems wrong and a quick google uncovers no evidence for the claim, then deleting it or moving it to talk is probably correct. WAS 4.250 (talk) 00:57, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
"unsourced negative material must be removed in all places" is definitle not the point. Saying Charles Manson is the head of the Manson family is negative, but would be absurd to remove. The point is contentious. The restaurant example misses the point. If any editor questions a negative statement, THAT is contentious. Contentious means between editors, not conflict in society. negative statements that any edotor disputes should be removed. Thus is some contends that Manson wasn't actually the leader of the Manson family, they could force other editors to cite the statement. Negative (or overly positive) statements should be removed, but single sentence in the Manson article can be wildly negative, even if not cited. So basically, if any editor thinks a statement is negative or overly positive, then it becomes contentious and should be removed immediately, with a BLP note, which means an editor can try and well source the statement and re-add it. 2005 (talk) 00:49, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
To step back a moment, this is about uncited or unbalanced statements in articles. Now... in all cases and all articles really, if editors genuinely disagree whether a statement is contentious or balanced, then careful citation, evidence and discussion will always be appropriate. That's in all cases anywhere, in theory. We already have that about all articles anyway. So BLP is adding to that, because that much of an approach would already be in our article policies for any article even if we didn't have a BLP policy.
What BLP adds or is trying to add (I think), is that if the effect of the statement is plausibly harmful to a living person, then we don't force that person to wait upon our ages-long deliberations for its removal. We remove it first whilst we deliberate. That removal can be by fixing it, redacting it, or deleting it etc, it doesn't matter in BLP terms, The point is, we don't let harmful dubious material endure while we take 3 days or 6 months to consider it, and that's the case indifferent to why it might be dubious, and whether that's due to sourcing, or "weight", or balance, or whatever.
To me this suggests two principles:
  1. First, that provided it is fixed in the meantime, BLP's demands will be met. "How" is irrelevant to BLP. The usual norms in every case of error or doubt are that we improve it if we can. So in these cases an editor should strive ideally to repair the contentious and harmful material by fixing or editing it; otherwise they should summarily remove it. Then at leisure we can discuss if anyone else feels it is valid, balanced and sourced, and so on.
  2. Second, that positive and negative material may indeed have a rationale for being treated differently. Whilst both are problematic for an encyclopedia, positive questionable material is not usually harmful in the way that negative questionable material is. We have less demand to "remove it now" to prevent harm to the subject whilst we deliberate in such cases. If an editor feels it should be removed that's a usual editorial decision; if none feel it's that problematic, and as a result it were to be left while we discuss, that's much more likely to avoid harm for positive material, than for negative material which may actually do harm during the time taken for a discussion process. We still need to fix it, and NPOV still matters, but the necessity and imperative to "remove now and discuss later", is simply not present with positive questionable material. Although it can be deleted, as with any doubtful content, it would often be much safer in those cases where users did happen to feel it should be left while discussing.
FT2 (Talk | email) 07:30, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
I've tried to stay away from WP editing after the userbox war, mostly just using it as reference. Now, however, I feel the need to comment and since you provide such an opportunity, I will. I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with your second point. I think that BLP is being abused more often than not by people who are intentionally trying to hide their negative aspects. Why do we even give a damn? It isn't our job to be their PR agent. As Phil remarked in the BADSITES debate, WP being NPOV is far more important than trying to make everyone happy. Being NPOV is more important than preserving someone's reputation. I think a "disputed" tag with a fully open discussion is the transparent way things should be done. I think secret arbcom discussions and over-usage of oversight only leads to many editors being frustrated by lack of careful process and transparency. The whole John S. Sr. kerfuffle led to a poorly thought-out and overly broad policy. Now anyone with hurt feelings can go crying to OTRS and have their perceived butthurt oversighted away like it never happened (despite the fact that it did). I tell you, one day this will come back to bite us. Personally, I think BLPs should be no different than any other article. If the subject doesn't like it, then they are welcome to FIXIT themselves, is my opinion, so long as they obey the core Wikimedia Foundation pillars. What was preventing JS from fixing his own article, if he knew it was incorrect? He was being a little arrogant and violating WP:POINT by letting it stand and then pointing it out. What I hate the most is sophisticates invoking "don't blame the victim" card just to hide any factual evidence which might show that said victim is not as innocent as one might assume. There are always two sides to the truth, and why should we always take that of the anointed victim? The world is not BLACK and WHITE, we need to present both sides and let the chips fall where they may. I think Justin Berry is an excellent example of such a case, where, now that more truth is coming to light, the picture looks a whole lot different. A whole lot different. Not that you would know from what our article says, because it is nothing but a feel-good pity party. Not that I thought the pro-pedo article was any better, but serious allegations and facts should be preserved even if they tarnish the reputation of the abused. Anyways, WP should take as stand and say NO to the griefers, instead pointing them to dispute resolution where they can properly argue why negative information should be removed. Again, keep it open and off the secret arbcom mailing list. In fact, just get rid of the list and deliberate openly. Lastly, despite the fact that IANAL, I know libel and slander are very difficult to impossible to win in US courts due, thankfully, to our wonderful 1st Amendment. Even that curmudgeon Scalia will stand up for the good old 1st. And as a prominent open information provider on the internet, I know there are tons of organizations out there ready to stand for our right to provide accurate information, even if it isn't nice information. Again, IANAL, but really the burden is on the complainant to prove that it is factually incorrect and that they showed a good faith effort to get it corrected. Individual states are NOT allowed to pass laws which contradict the Constitution, so why should we worry about laws in Florida or California in this regard? We should keep this in mind when they try to threaten the Wikimedia Foundation. And please, no "because Jimbo says so" arguments, since he is no longer the sole funder of this project these sorts of decisions really ought to be left to the community, with his input valued but not necessarily final. --Dragon695 (talk) 21:39, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

Criticisms of

How do articles like this square with our BLP policy and WP:UNDUE? -- (talk) 22:29, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

Generally they should be merged into the parent article, unless the length of this is such that something is better chopped off (in which case a summary should be left in the parent article, along with a link to the sub-article). In those cases, it's generally best to separate something other than criticism, since doing so with criticism can create a WP:POVFORK (although not all "criticism of..." articles are necessarily POV forks). Sarcasticidealist (talk) 22:32, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
BLP policy should ban "Criticism of..." articles for Living People. Currently there are 10 living people with "criticism(s) of.." articles. 5 of the 10 are politicians, the other 5 are Cindy Sheehan (her article is titled "Criticism and support of..), Naom Chomsky, Sylvia Browne (psychic and medium) and Bill O'Reilly (reporter) and now Prem Rawat. It is a way to circumvent BLP policy. As you can tell, there is nothing particularly reprehensible about these people but detractors have created the articles and it is difficult to remove them.Momento (talk) 03:23, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
No. BLP is not a reason to not be NPOV. If there is enough material about an individual to make a criticism article then we make it. BLP means we need to be extra careful about dealing with living people. BLP is not a washing machine for controversial people. JoshuaZ (talk) 05:58, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

Just so you know, the IP edit starting this section was a sock of User:Fredrick day, a vandal and shit-stirrer, who has been blocked.--Abd (talk) 04:09, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

An article devoted to criticism is by its nature not NPOV. You don't need a "Criticism of..." article for Hitler, Pol Pot, Charles Manson etc, their activities speak for themselves. If a balanced BLP doesn't provide an accurate picture, then the article needs to be improved. Creating a ""Criticism of..." article is contrary to NPOV.Momento (talk) 08:30, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
Criticism sections can be spun off of articles when the sections are getting too long for the articles themselves. We do this all the time. The criticisim needs to be NPOV. And actually, in my experience such separate articles more often occur for controversial people. Hitler isn't controversial, in the sense that pretty much no one thinks he was an at all ok human being. Such articles are more necessary when there is serious criticism and serious responses to that criticism. We do this all the time for articles about corporations or political organizations or similar entities. BLP is a not a magic set of initials that makes those cases any different. JoshuaZ (talk) 14:53, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

It is best if a criticism section is blended into the article rather than being separated out as a separate section. But it is better to have appropriate data in the article poorly formated than not there at all. If you see data in an article that should be better formatted, then fix it, don't delete it. WAS 4.250 (talk) 08:49, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

It depends on the context. Richard Dawkins for example has the criticism blended into the article since he has been criticized on many different points. In contrast some others have criticism sections that are separate. It really depends on the exact circumstances especially in regard to the nature and extent of the criticism. JoshuaZ (talk) 14:53, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
In fact, BLPs cases are entirely different from articles about corporations or political organizations and must be treated with a lot more care. Having a separate "Criticism" section in any BLP is giving "undue weight" to critics, as per [1]. The Richard Dawkins article is a good example of how a BLP should be structured. Regrettably, many editors who don't like the subject have inserted a "Criticism" section and worse created a "Criticism of (name)" article to ensure their POV is prominent. I really believe Wiki should take a hard line with BLP policy and make it absolutely clear that "Criticism" sections in BLPs and "Criticism of (name)" articles are not encyclopedic and contrary to NPOV. Currently we're talking about 10 "Criticism of (BLP name)" articles and probably hundreds of "Criticism" sections.Momento (talk) 20:58, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
No. This claim demonstrates a deep misunderstanding of Wikipedia policy. NPOV is paramount above all else. If there is a general problem with criticism sections then they are a problem regardless of where they are. And they are not in general a problem. This is precisely why the section you lined to in NPOV but didn't actually quote says that such sections " may warrant attention" - indeed this is for reasons similar to what you outline- they are often made by people with a bone to pick with the subject. But that doesn't mean such a section or an article can't be NPOV. And the notion that what constitutes NPOV based on whether the subject is living or dead is simply wrong; BLP means we need to be extra careful about POV issues in regard to living people. It doesn't mean that what constitutes a neutral description magically changes when the subject dies. JoshuaZ (talk) 21:54, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
I agree that criticism sections are problematic — in all articles, not only in BLPs — but in BLPs particularly, because the spirit of the policy is to enforce our best practices with extra care when it comes to living persons. I also agree that we should say something in the policy about not creating separate "Criticism of ..." articles about living persons. I can't imagine why a separate article would ever be necessary. SlimVirgin talk|edits 22:05, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
There may be some wiggle room with corporations and political organizations but this is the BLP page. If any editor decided to remove the criticism woven into Richard Dawkins's article and put it in a separate article called "Criticism of Richard Dawkins" that would be counter to at least 4 NPOV issues -
1. Article naming [2] - "Therefore, encyclopedic article titles are expected to exhibit the highest degree of neutrality. The article might cover the same material but with less emotive words, or might cover broader material which helps ensure a neutral view (for example, renaming "Criticisms of drugs" to "Societal views on drugs"). Neutral titles encourage multiple viewpoints and responsible article writing".
2. Undue weight [3] - "NPOV says that the article should fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by a reliable source, and should do so in proportion to the prominence of each". That is specifically eliminated in a "Criticism of .." article.
3. Balance [4] -" the core of the NPOV policy is to let competing approaches exist on the same page: work for balance". Again, specifically eliminated in a "Criticism of .." article.
4. POV forks [5] - "A POV fork is an attempt to evade NPOV policy by creating a new article about a certain subject that is already treated in an article, often to avoid or highlight negative or positive viewpoints or facts. This is generally considered unacceptable. The generally accepted policy is that all facts and major Points of View on a certain subject are treated in one article.".

The issue isn't what constitutes NPOV, that's clear enough. The issue is, what are we going to do about "Criticism of..." BLP articles that clearly violate NPOV. My proposal is to make it clear in BLP policy that "Criticism of...(living person)" articles are expressly forbidden and should be removed on sight.Momento (talk) 00:55, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

Momento, you recently created Criticism of Jimbo Wales[6] then recreated it again after it was speedily deleted.[7] Why did you do so if you think they should be forbidden? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 04:10, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
Clearly Momento was trying to make a point. I think that he has now understood that it was unwise. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 04:15, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
Let's hear it from him. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 04:18, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
My widely discussed and long held POV is that "Criticism of (Name)" articles are inappropriate and a blight on Wikipedia. However, putting aside my POV and writing for the enemy, if "Criticism of (Name)" articles are the way of the future for Wikipedia then a good place to start would be with Jimbo Wales. Fortunately the tide is turning and some people who supported "Criticism of (Name)" articles are having a rethink, so I applaud WillBeBack's request to merge "Criticism of Prem Rawat"[[8]] with the main article.Momento (talk) 01:50, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
Your response is characteristic of the problem. You write here that you "applaud" the request to merge the "criticism" article, but on the article talk page you insist that there is essentially nothing worth merging.[9] And you wonder why peope think you want to simply delete criticism? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 04:46, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
I have explained this to you at Prem Rawat talk that there are three methods of merging and here it is [10].Momento (talk) 08:03, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
We could add something like this to the criticism section:

When handling criticism of living persons, editors should seek wherever possible to weave it throughout the article as appropriate, rather than creating a separate section devoted to it. Separate articles devoted to criticism of living persons are unacceptable.

SlimVirgin talk|edits 01:10, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
Responding to Andries' concern:

When handling criticism of living persons, editors should seek whenever appropriate, depending on the nature of the material, to weave it throughout the article, rather than creating a separate section devoted to it. Separate articles devoted to criticism of living persons are unacceptable.

SlimVirgin talk|edits 06:52, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
That's good. I take out the first bit and stick with "Editors should weave positive and negative material throughout the article, rather than creating a separate section devoted to criticism. Separate articles devoted to such criticism are unacceptable".Momento (talk) 04:15, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
Strong oppose, in some cases it is theoretically possible to weave criticisms/controversies thru the articles but it will lead to bad article. Sometimes crticisms/controversies should be dealt with per subject and cannot be dealt with chronologically without leading to tortured article. Andries (talk) 06:16, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
I agree that it's not always possible. That's why it says "wherever possible." It should be the aim when the material allows that structure, but you're right that it doesn't always. Also, Andries, integrating criticism into the article doesn't necessarily mean it has to be written about chronologically.SlimVirgin talk|edits 06:30, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
Slim, I suggest toning down the word "possible" or specifying it. E.g. "reasonably possible", "possible without leading to an unnatural, badly structured, or tortured article". Andries (talk) 06:44, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

The point is not to weave good and bad like a mindless effort at "Some say the world is flat and others say it is round" kind of pseudo-neutrality. But instead to provide the information in the article where it is relevant. Criticisms in a WP:BLP wikipedia article should be related and relevant to their claims of notability and should be discussed in that article alongside those claims of notability and not provided as a list of criticisms in a section devoted to negative claims about the subject of the article. WAS 4.250 (talk) 04:40, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

I didn't realize when this first came up that it was connected to the creation of Criticism of Prem Rawat. It would be helpful if we could hear from the people involved in that why they felt it was a good idea. SlimVirgin talk|edits 06:07, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

Ironically, it was Jossi who created Criticism of Prem Rawat in 2004, and he explained his reason for doing so:
  • Opposing views can be added here [11]
At the time, as I recall, negative material was moved to that article so that the main article would be free of criticism. The article grew contentiously, but contained well-sourced material. In 2007, it was merged by a then-uninvolved editor who felt it violated NPOV as a POV fork.[12] More recently, there have been complaints that the merged material has mostly disappeared and that little of the critical material is mentioned in the main article anymore.
Stepping back, the supporters of Prem Rawat on this project have been active in seeking to prohibit and remove "criticism" sections in all articles, including those of Mother Theresa and the Dalai Llama. BLP standards keep going up and that's a good thing. Personally, I believe that most biographies are best written chronologically, including positive and negative commentary contemporaneously. Other biographies are arranged topically, and the outside views can also be worked in there too. The only reason that "criticism" sections are good is that it makes it easier for article patrollers to ensure that the critical material isn't getting deleted.
Note that we have Category:Criticism of religion and it's full of articles. Category:Criticism of Mormonism has dozens of articles, but no "Criticism of Joseph Smith". OTOH, we do have Criticism of Muhammad and Criticism of Jesus. So dead religious leaders aren't necessarily an issue. (yeah right!) We have a special problem when the main article of criticism of a religion is on the living founder/head of that religion. If Jesus were alive today would we allow "Criticism of Jesus"? But what about "Criticism of Christianity"?
I think that we should suggest that only non-personal topics about living people are suitable for "criticism" articles. So "Criticism of George W. Bush" would not be allowed, but "Criticism of George W. Bush's Presidential Administration" or "Criticism of George W. Bush's Iraq Policy" would be permitted. Likewise, "Criticism of Prem Rawat's teachings" or "Criticism of Prem Rawat's organization" would be permissible articles. We can cover it in an extra line:
  • Articles devoted to criticism of activities, beliefs, and organizations which mention living people are permissible.
That would prevent the disruption of many worthwhile articles. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 07:34, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
Thanks that is really helpful. Andries (talk) 07:42, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
But this would lead to unwieldy article names e.g. Criticisms of the actions and teachings of Jesus. Criticisms of the actions and teachings of Prem Rawat. Andries (talk) 08:17, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for that, Will. I'm wondering how we could elegantly word a provision to say that separate articles on criticism of an organization associated with a person are okay, but not criticism of the person himself. SlimVirgin talk|edits 19:16, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
I would like to congratulate Will Beback for his helpful post above. However, after reading it, I just know somebody will ask the absurd question "does BLP apply to dead religious figures who, according to the doctrine of their followers, have been resurrected?" Now, who on earth would want to answer that? All I've got to say to that is "pick a decent standard and apply it everywhere" (this could probably be twisted around to mean "write about any subject as if it were a living person", but that would miss the point). Please don't tell me I'm delusional for imagining that things could ever be that simple, I already know. — CharlotteWebb 14:10, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

<<< Policy talk pages are not for the discussion of specific articles. That is better done in article talk page. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 18:56, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

There was also a discussion about a guideline on "Criticism" that never made it. It is now an essay WP:CRITICISM. There is also a suitable template {{criticism section}} that may be useful. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 18:59, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
With all due respect, why is this discussion occurring here rather than at WT:NPOV? Certainly any proposed rewording of the NPOV policy that is listed on this page is absolutely in the wrong place. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 19:23, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

Quick comment on "criticisms of" articles. In general, and provided they are appropriately done, these are usually likely to be okay. The exact same criteria apply to these as any other summary style article. Roughly speaking:

  1. A page that has a section which itself merits expansion may have a separate article on that section. That's so whether it is a subtopic of any topic. Many many articles have subtopic sections with their own articles expanding on them.
  2. However this does not supersede NPOV. The main article contains a high quality summary of the "criticisms" article and the "criticisms" article is merely an expansion of that aspect.
  3. Likewise the "criticisms of" sub-topic must be a neutral statement of the criticisms, must refer to other articles, must balance those in their appropriate context too; it must not merely be a negative list of all criticisms and nothing else. Especially, the notion that because an article may be called "criticisms of X" it is OWNed somehow by the critics and is "Intended" as a forum for their critical views, is utterly incorrect.
  4. Finally, POV forks are not allowed. These are integrated articles that cover different aspects in more depth, but each aspect neutrally and respecting the others.

My $0.02 on the question. FT2 (Talk | email) 07:54, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Can we work on Slim Virgin's original proposal?Momento (talk) 21:54, 7 April 2008 (UTC)


I think I support the idea of semi protecting all BLPs, and I also think I support the proposal above, which I have made concrete for further consideration. I know many aren't yet sure that there's a problem which needs to be addressed, but I think there is, per Doc G's work, and other thoughts and observations from around the place.

I'd also say that despite the many concerns raised above, it does look like an idea to me which is gaining ground, and could indeed have a chance of becoming the consensus view... so thoughts on how we expedite that process are also most welcome... I think we should move towards thinking about asking someone nicely to write some sort of bot in the next month or two, should further support emerge.... best, Privatemusings (talk) 03:54, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

It seems that if this opt-out gets off the ground (which I hope it does, personally) the real issue is going to be who gets it and who doesn't (in terms of where to draw the notability line) and I would imagine that in practice that line would bound to be challenged but I hope allt he same that this becomes reality. Thanks, SqueakBox 03:59, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
The idea of letting the subject of the article decide if the article is deleted seems to me to be such a departure from neutrality that it is not compatible with our project goal of using the neutral point of view as the guiding editorial principle. (1 == 2)Until 04:17, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
It's already policy that we give weight (of unspecified amounts) to such requests in cases where the subject's notability is marginal. All this would be doing is defining the weight and trying to define the margins of notability (not that I support this wholeheartedly, mind you; my thoughts can be found at the proposal talk page). Sarcasticidealist (talk) 04:20, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
ah, well I think you've kinda got to squint at it to see removing an article as a statement of non-neutrality..! I don't really look at it that way - but fair enough, if you, or others, do! Privatemusings (talk) 04:21, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
Based on how Wikipedia has handled cases like these to date, the subject of the article can always ask, which may serve as a factor in deletion discussions (or office actions), but a person can't opt out of being an encyclopedic topic (if they are one) any more than Muslims can tell us to not put pictures of Muhammad into that article.
It's not gonna happen.--Father Goose (talk) 07:20, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
Rather than repeat myself endlessly, I'll link to my lengthy comments at Wikipedia_talk:OptOut#Violation_of_a_foundation_issue and say I think this is a Bad Idea that should not be implemented. MBisanz talk 08:01, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
To quote m:Foundation issues: "The Wikimedia projects as a community have certain foundation issues that are essentially considered to be beyond debate. People who strongly disagree with them sometimes end up leaving the project". Allowing the subject of an article to have the sole decision over the deletion of an article not only violates NPOV, but also the foundation issue which states the "wiki process" is the decision mechanism on content. We simply do no outsource our content decisions, we use consensus. (1 == 2)Until 17:27, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, this problem is already handled by OTRS. I would rather not have it codified, because this is something that really needs to be on a case-by-case basis. If a person reaches a certain level of notability, even if they didn't ask for it and didn't do anything to encourage it, then Wikipedia needs to have an article on that person. There isn't really a good way to define that notability threshold in absolute, unambiguous terms.
The only way I could see this getting off the ground is if OTRS is really bogged down with requests of this nature. If that is the case, then I could maybe see a very narrow (more narrow than the ones currently proposed) set of criteria to get automatic approval for self-BLP deletion, just to lighten the workload on OTRS. I'm not an admin, so I don't know what the workload is like over there. But that's the only way I would even consider supporting this, is if OTRS is so overwhelmed it is about to collapse. If the resources are there, this needs to be case-by-case. --Jaysweet (talk) 17:35, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
Though OTRS chronically runs behind, it is in no way horribly bogged down such that a fundamental shift of this nature seems warranted to me. Please note I am speaking here purely as an editor and not as an OTRS volunteer. Phil Sandifer (talk) 17:42, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

I don't know if opt out is the solution since it would be inconsistently applied. It would be hard to draw a line as to who gets opt-out treatment vs. definate public figures. One idea is to not allow original biographies which is technically original research. If no outside biography can be found, whether it's the subject's personal glowing webpage bio or a print encyplopedia's version, then there should not be an article due to OR. That may help with the problem. MrMurph101 (talk) 23:01, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia:BLP subject response

I have set up this new proposal which allows subjects of BLPs to post an on-wiki response to their biography, and have it linked to from the article. Sjakkalle (Check!) 08:20, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Abuse of date of birth

In addition to identity theft, could a date of birth be abused to obtain other private information about a person, such as their home address? (The living person I have in mind is John Yoo) Thanks, Andjam (talk) 10:05, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Semi-protecting all BLPs

I have advertised this discussion at Wikipedia:Village_pump_(policy)#Discussion_about_semi-protetcing_all_BLP_articles.. Corvus cornixtalk 23:52, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

I'd sort of thought this was a perennial proposal, but I can't find anything about it in the last year's worth of this page's archive, so I'm raising it. Why not semi-protect all BLPs? I think it would cut down on a lot of the problems we have with IPs, whether maliciously or in good faith, adding BLP-violations to articles. Of course, it wouldn't be a cure-all - BLP violations can be found in articles that are not themselves BLPs, for one thing. For another, a determined BLP-violator would only have to register an account and wait a few days, but I don't think most malicious BLP-violators are that determined (it seems likely, although not certain, that this could have prevented the Seigenthaler incident, for example, and also some of Don Murphy's more legitimate complaints). The cost of this would be that Wikipedia would become ever so slightly less welcoming to newcomers, but barriers to participation on Wikipedia are already lower than they are almost anywhere else on the net; you don't even need to provide an e-mail address, for crying out loud. Thoughts? Flames? Sarcasticidealist (talk) 22:51, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

I do not recall this being discussed before. Nevertheless, I think the proposal has merit and the downside, quite minimal. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:55, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
I think we'd need a clear tagging formula, living+yes just doesn't do it {{BLP}} does, IMHO< and should be tagged on any article mentioning living people and then, sure, semi-protect. Thanks, SqueakBox 23:06, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
I can definitely see that there would almost have to be some way to make it "automatic" given we have over a quarter of a million articles currently tagged as blps. Exactly how to remove the protection would be a problem. Would it be automatic upon death, or something else? If the former, couldn't I adjust the article to say, for instance, Terje Aa died yesterday as a registered user, thus unprotecting it, and then log off and edit the article with unrelated vandal-like material as an IP? Knowing which material added later, if it's done well, would potentially really screw up several articles about less widely watched pages. Any ideas? John Carter (talk) 23:37, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
Presumably, admins wouldn't un-semi-protect unless the subject's death was properly-sourced (I'd hope that the semi-protection would be done by an adminbot, I think unprotections could be done manually by human admins). Sarcasticidealist (talk) 23:54, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
For the initial run, most BLPs can probably be found via two categories: Articles in Category:Living People, and articles whose talk pages are in Category:Biography articles of living people (I love how we have two categories for the exact same purpose) - any that that misses, obviously, would have to be done as we find them. --Random832 (contribs) 00:08, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
We should tag all articles containing living people, and all living people we ,mention in the encyclopedia without articles should be tagged as well. Thanks, SqueakBox 00:29, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
If the bot could be made to run regularly, it wouldn't be a problem to add others, as they'd be automatically added in the next bot run. In response to SqueakBox, I'm not entirely sure what is meant there. I'm assuming that if an article about a dead politician contained information about a scandal which occurred earlier regarding a person still living, or something similar, is what he's addressing. I would agree to that as well, although it would be substantially harder to find them all and might conceivably wind up semiprotecting more articles than we anticipate. John Carter (talk) 00:33, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
What about a dead person like Alexander Litvinenko or a case like Disappearance of Shannon Matthews where the blp issues are not such a problem with the little girl) for whom we have no reliable sources for BLP controversy but there are huge issues for 2 people mentioned int eh article (for whom we have masses of reliable sources). Yes it is scandals and controversies in the real world that are especially problematic. Thanks, SqueakBox 00:43, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
(edit conflict)I think, if this were to be implemented, we could use a bot for the initial run, and after that, just have people who are watching the category, or the {{blp}} template's usage, semiprotect those pages as they come. How many BLP articles are created/tagged in a day anyway? Dansiman (talk|Contribs) 00:59, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
(ec) About 1/8 of our articles are blps. I think that means at least 1/8 of the articles created probably are as well, considering that we tend to have more biographies than any other single thing deleted on the basis of notability concerns. John Carter (talk) 01:07, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

I think this idea has many of the same weaknesses as banning all anonymous editing. Remember that more than three-fourths of anonymous edits are intended to improve the encyclopedia. And yes, an anon is less likely to be familiar with BLP than a registered user ... but an anon is also less likely to be familiar with WP:NPOV, WP:V, WP:NOR and various other policies and guidelines. Should we, say, semiprotect all articles on controversial subjects to maintain their neutrality? I suppose one could argue that BLP is the absolute most important policy in the entire encyclopedia, but that idea smacks of legal paranoia. When BLP problems arise, regardless of whether the offender is an IP or a registered user, we remove the offending content, along with the various other ways of dealing with the issue. Is that somehow not good enough? szyslak (t) 00:49, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

I think the answer to that is a simple no. Thanks, SqueakBox 00:52, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
If you will not explain yourself coherently and make rude dismissive comments rather than answering people's questions, you can hardly expect others to accept your views. --erachima formerly tjstrf 01:04, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Ooh err I was just trying to be concise and give a simple response. This is serious stuff and I apologise if I offended you as it was far from my mind. I am thinking lots about this issue and really I take you seriously and I take you seriously. Thanks, SqueakBox 01:24, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
(ec) Agree with Squeakbox. The problems arise in whether anyone actually notes the changes made. I am not myself a recent changes patroller, and never have been, so I can't speak from experience here. But I believe it is unreasonable to say that the dedicated patrollers can necessarily keep up with every change made. If I were to try to damage the article on a living person, I would probably make a series of small edits over a comparatively quick period of time, say a few days, all of which built on each other. If a patroller came along later and see the changes made over time, they might reasonably infer that the changes made were all based on news reports released over that period, as such is far from uncommon.
The carefulness about content relating to living persons isn't so much legalism as the fact that I think many of us know people have enemies out there, and not all of them are stupid enough to be easily caught. This can be particularly true now, with elections in the US coming up in a few months. I'm not sure how many of you are from outside the US, but tactics, particularly in local elections, often are contemptible. I worked in state legislature elections in California I don't want to talk about, and which I dismiss on the basis of my being in college at the time, where I would have been appalled by what I was doing if I didn't know the opponent was behaving even worse. And not so much on the basis of law but public outcry, I definitely do not want to see that sort of thing happen here. John Carter (talk) 01:07, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
See? This is a far more helpful post.
Personally, since our (in great part BLP-motivated) stable versions system is nearly ready to roll out, I would suggest that if we want a layer of technical libel protection that our efforts would be better focused on overcoming the opposition to implementing stable versions, rather than trying to get them all semi-protected. The effect would be roughly the same, and stable versions have a much higher chance of actually getting consensus for implementation than any sort of massive semi-protection would. (Szyslak's opinion is shared by a large number of editors, since allowing IPs to edit is a deeply grounded wikipedia principle. Stable versions would let them still edit after a fashion even on pages which were marked to display approved revisions only.) --erachima formerly tjstrf 01:17, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
(ec) I agree with John Carter to a point, but maybe we could semiprotect such articles when potential BLP problems arise? To address your example of active political candidates, do most or all such articles experience this problem? Out of the many thousands of elected federal, state and local officials in this country, I'd imagine a good majority of them sail to re-election with little or no serious opposition. In any case where we run into trouble, let's use semiprotection when the need arises. And yes, there are many unwatched stubs about living people, but perhaps we can encourage more vandal fighters to engage in random page or BLP patrol. I still don't see the need for pre-emptive protection, which is currently disallowed by the protection policy. Also, erachima's idea to focus on stable revisions has a lot of merit. szyslak (t) 01:23, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

It's incomprehensible to me that all policy and guideline pages are not semi-protected. It's one of those utopian bit of nonsense ideas that "widespread consensus" policy pages can be edited by any dingaling who passes by. Likewise BLP's should have that same minimal protection. Make a dingaling vandal at least spend the time making an account before being able to vandalize the page of a living human. 2005 (talk) 02:10, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

I think this is a very good idea. If we can't have BLP-lock, this is a good start. Set up a bot to take a rough cut, with loose parameters, and if some get protected that shouldn't that's better than missing a few. It will take a while for us to work through the policy implications of Stable Versions so this is a good thing to do meanwhile (and perhaps beyond, if google and other bots will be looking behind the stable version itself at the in flux newer revisions) ++Lar: t/c 03:06, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

I think this is a bad idea. This is allowing BLP paranoia to start cutting into "You can edit this page right now". To semi-protect an entire class of articles preemptively goes against the core principle here. Protection is temporary and only when needed due to actual abuse -- not predicted abuse. Living people are the most likely topics for people to want to edit, and they should be editable by anyone, for the same reason registration isn't required on Wikipedia. Equazcion /C 06:19, 3 Apr 2008 (UTC)
Well of course, if I were waving my magic wand, I'd require registration, with an Amazon comments level of real name verification, and full disclosure of the name publicly, before I'd allow editing. But that's neither here nor there. That BLPs are an attractive nuisance ("the most likely topics for people to want to edit", as you say) is precisely why they should be semi protected at the least, if not subject to BLP-lock. 1 in 1000 means 250 problems at any given time, and the incidence is far higher than 1 in 1000 and we are failing to deal with the problems. ++Lar: t/c 11:51, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Spot on. No to not doing something just because flagged revisions might, some day, actually be rolled out here. Not ready now. If we choose to do this, and we will sooner or later even if we wait for flagged revisions, Wikipedia would still be the free encyclopedia anyoneterms & conditions apply can edit. Why wait? Angus McLellan (Talk) 12:43, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
It's just not gonna happen, for the reasons I already specified. You can edit this page right now. There are no terms and conditions, aside from occasional temporary, individual article protections in the event of actual recurring abuse. Implementing this suggestion will require changing that basic principle; which will, in turn, require changing protection policy, and that'll require a large central discussion. If it happens, a lot more will need to happen beforehand; and I doubt it'll happen at all. Equazcion /C 19:09, 3 Apr 2008 (UTC)

I strongly oppose this suggestion. This is "the encyclopedia that anybody can edit". We've already limited creation of articles by anons, which was supposed to be an experiment but became a de facto policy, and now we're going to prevent anons from editing a huge number of articles? Not only would this be a public relations nightmare, it would severely damage Wikipedia in as-yet unforeseeable ways. Corvus cornixtalk 23:44, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

It would be the opposite of a public relations nightmare. WP has been heavily criticized for allowing anyone to edit living bios. Even with semi-protection, anyone could still edit them; they'd just have to open an account and wait a few days, so the only thing that would be stopped are thoughtless, spur-of-the-moment edits, and it's hard to argue that that would be a bad thing when it comes to BLPs. SlimVirgin talk|edits 23:50, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
It's not often that I agree with SV, but she's quite right here. Black Kite 23:57, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
Ditto. The public relations nightmare of the genuinely disgraceful anyone can anonymously post evil garbage on BLPs had to be addressed. No one in the outside world can understand the practice of allowing anonymous comments. Sure we have a polcy against slander stuff, but it strikes the world as utter bullshit given the practice of allowing totally anonymous contributions to bio articles. requiring a login is basic human decency. Requiring three days before editing a bio article is common sense. Anyone could still edit BLPs, but requiring the maturity of a 3 day old should not be controversial. Adopting such a policy would do more than a little to repair the Wikipedia's poor reputation regarding bio articles. 2005 (talk) 00:19, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
I have a lot of college sports articles on my watchlist and during the college football season, if I sit down after being away for a day, I can spend two hours reverting unreverted libel. These are college kids whose bios are getting vile accusations put in there by rival fans and, due to the extremely high ratio of articles to editors in this topic area, it can go for a long time without being noticed. This absolutely needs to change - if we lack the resources to instantly revert the vandalism, the articles need to be s-protected. --B (talk) 05:21, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
So protect those articles during the "vandalism" season. When there's a problem with a specific car model, you don't issue a recall for every car the manufacturer ever made. Protection? Okay. Preemptive, project-wide, permanent protection? Heck no.--Father Goose (talk) 06:42, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

Wait until after Flagged Revs

May I suggest that any major changes to semi-protection standards wait until after we see how Flagged Revisions effect vandalism on this site? If, in the Flagged Revs system, we set all BLPs to only show the last assessed version, than the public will not see vandalism by default. This has the potential of both making many vandals ignore BLPs as not worth their time, and could potentially eliminate most liability issues since vandalised versions will be more hidden. If, after Flagged Revs is up and running we still have a problem with BLPs, we can come back to this discussion. --Arctic Gnome (talkcontribs) 06:31, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

I agree, I think implementing stable versions on BLPs is a better method of dealing with the problems with BLPs while still allowing good contributions with IPs to be included in the articles. Davewild (talk) 07:04, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
If we can implement Flagged Revisions in a reasonable timeframe, this would be the way to go. The relevant proposal (Wikipedia:Flagged revisions/Sighted versions) means to start with the currently semi-protected articles; the next step could be to apply it to BLPs on a large scale. --B. Wolterding (talk) 08:05, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
That sounds much more reasonable than blanket protection.--Father Goose (talk) 10:14, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

I am opposed to massive scale experimentation with either semi-protection or even the newer flagged revisions. Both approaches massively alter the wiki-model and are certain to have unexpected consequences. Let a smaller wiki find out what the upsides and downsides are first. --Kim Bruning (talk) 12:56, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

What about an incremental scale experimentation? One should certainly not apply it to all BLPs in the very first step. --B. Wolterding (talk) 12:58, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Maybe... I'm seriously worried that we're abandoning the wiki-model. This would be fairly ok if there was some kind of decent rationale for it, but mostly I just see it being whittled away as a consequence of ignorance. Please tell me I'm wrong? --Kim Bruning (talk) 13:02, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Well, in which way is this rationale not decent? --B. Wolterding (talk) 13:07, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Sighted versions needn't be bad... as long as we still display the *newest* version to the reader. I don't think that would alter the wikimodel too much. --Kim Bruning (talk) 13:15, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
That would ignore the actual benefits of sighted/stable/fixed/whatever versions, which is to discourage vandalism and edit warring by preventing vandals and edit warriors from having their changes immediately visible to the world. Instead, people will be forced to build consensus in order to get changes to move into the stable version. If we just wanted a permanent link to a previous version, we already have the tools to do that. — Carl (CBM · talk) 13:56, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Which is not the current wiki-model as we know it. Let's be cautious and let de.wikipedia try this out for say 6-12 months and see how they do. --Kim Bruning (talk) 14:32, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
If we keep the newest version of an article as the default viewed by IPs, then sighted versions can't do any harm. All it would do is add a button saying this this article might be compromised, and that the reader can click here to see a version that we promise is referenced and free of vandalism. --Arctic Gnome (talkcontribs) 18:14, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
I think any language that suggests that we're in any position to guarantee the balance of accuracy of any article would be a serious mistake. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 18:18, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
Kim: The "wiki-model" means doing things and trying things, in a search for what works. It's not some sort of commandment or religious principle about what can and can't be done. BLPs are broken, today, and something desperately needs doing. So don't claim that the "wiki-model" prevents trying something to resolve that, please. I am not opposed to a controlled experiment, say only do this to half of all the BLPs and take measurements, if we can decide what needs measuring and how to do it accurately. But I say just do them all. What bots can do, bots can undo (if notes are taken to record what was done)... ++Lar: t/c 14:07, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Nah, I actually agree with you mostly. The problem is that this would immediately have large-scale effects, where most experiments don't. We should let de.wikipedia play with this first. Or only do very small experiments first. --Kim Bruning (talk) 14:32, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Let's construct an experiment here then, unless we're sure that de.wikipedia's findings will map over accurately. Heck, semiprotection may not help at all, for the very reasons given by others (it doesn't stop editing, it just delays it, it doesn't stop editing to BLP articles, it just pushes scurrilous info to other articles, etc...) but there IS a BLP problem and something needs doing. ++Lar: t/c 16:55, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
The wiki model Kim is referring to is the editability by all without registration. Lar, you've already stated your fantasy that Wikipedia be basically the opposite of that, so you'll of course have to excuse me if I doubt the objectivity of your "we must save the BLPs" motivation for wanting to protect articles large-scale. Those of us who don't want to dramatically change the site so that it's sign-up only, like every other site was prior to web 2.0, are not in favor of this. Equazcion /C 15:39, 3 Apr 2008 (UTC)
Sorry for doubting your objectivity or expertise, whoever you are, because I should have realised you have vastly more experience with writing NPOV biographies, with solving BLP problems, wwith working OTRS tickets, with dealing with the concerns of people who have been smeared, etc, than the average admin has. Or maybe you're just talking out your hat, can't really be sure, although your contrib history doesn't really settle the matter. What was it you were up to the last time we encountered each other? Oh yes, I remember, you were edit warring over inserting yourself into a category and then lashing out at everyone for restricting your freedom to amuse yourself by it after being repeatedly warned about it. So, no, I doubt your objectivity when you cast aspersions on my motivations, just as you doubt mine when I say there is a problem and it needs fixing... As for what model Kim was referring to, I'll defer to Kim on that... Kim seems to be agreeing with me, though. ++Lar: t/c 16:55, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Mmmm. I could describe what you were doing at the time as well, but I'm of course not going to sink to Springer-level as you've done. Looking at a person's history rather than arguing the merits of this issue isn't really that helpful. Anyway, to respond to the one thing you said that actually did have to do with this issue, I wasn't doubting your motivation, as in, accusing you of having an ulterior motive. I was doubting you objectivity, meaning that based on the above-referenced comment, you might have a pre-existing bias in discussions about whether or not to protect articles en-masse. While most of us here feel BLP is an important issue and want to assure the accuracy of our BLP articles, we also feel the need to balance that with our openly-editable wiki priority; whereas you would of course have no problem enforcing BLP via across-the-board semi-protection, since you feel all of Wikipedia shouldn't be openly editable by "just anyone" anyway. I hope this clarifies things. Again let me repeat, this is not an accusation. It's more of a "no-duh". Equazcion /C 17:43, 3 Apr 2008 (UTC)
Well no, not at all, because I'm pretty good at keeping the distinction between how I think things OUGHT to be and how things actually ARE very clear. While I might want to wave wands and change things round, that's not going to happen any time soon, if at all. So, my focus HERE is on what can be done to fix the problems we have within the context of what's doable. If semiprotection is a solution (which I'm not convinced it is, although I'm hopeful) it is. That has nothing to do about ideology, it has to do with the wiki way... the notion that things get tried and if they work great, if they don't, fix things up till they do, or try something else. So basically, you're way off the mark, I'm afraid. ++Lar: t/c 19:28, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
When someone has a bias they don't necessarily realize it's affecting their judgment. This suggestion goes along with your ideals, so there's really no way to tell whether or not your biases have affected it. Least of all your assurance that it hasn't. Equazcion /C 19:35, 3 Apr 2008 (UTC)
You miss my point. You've apparently concluded that I *want* to restrict editing. That's wrong. I don't *want* it, I just fear it's becoming necessary. That's not a bias, it's a regret. ++Lar: t/c 13:30, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
Both of you, drop it. If you must snipe at each other, take it to user Talk pages. You're not adding to this discussion anymore. -- Kesh (talk) 23:03, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
You miss my point too. ++Lar: t/c 13:30, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
  • I'd like to mention one aspect of "Sighted versions" that has not been pointed out yet. The plan is not (as it may seem in other parts of this thread) to mark a large number of pages "sighted" by a bot. Rather, an editor needs to identify the page as vandalism-free, well sourced, clear of libel, etc. and then mark it sighted. (Everything else would be rather counter-productive.) So in either case, the number of "sighted" pages would only increase gradually. --B. Wolterding (talk) 19:41, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for that, Bert. So we're now talking about shelving this proposal in favour of doing something unspecified with a technical feature that we really hope will be added any time now and which will, if properly implemented, very slowly address some of our BLP issues? I don't mean to suggest the sighted versions would be a bad thing - it looks like a pretty solid proposal to me at this point - just that it doesn't seem to be a full enough fix that it justified dismissing the idea of universal semi-protection. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 20:42, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Article vandalism is something we've always had to deal with. Granted it's a more serious issue when BLP is involved, but we do our best, as has always been the case. If there's a complaint by a person who has an article here, we deal with it and fix it. There hasn't been an incident thus far that's been so serious as to suggest protection of all articles on living people is necessary. Sure it would make things easier if we could just protect everything that could potentially cause problems, but that's just not what we do here. "You can edit this page right now" is important, and I don't see that anything's changed recently that would cause us to abandon that principle even partially. An openly-editable medium is going to have issues like this, everyone knew that going in. We deal with them as they arise, and that's always worked out fine in the end. I don't see what the sudden hubbub is about to make such a drastic change. Equazcion /C 21:00, 3 Apr 2008 (UTC)
(ec) I understand what you're saying. Our fundamental disagreement, I think, is your apparent belief that dealing with material denegrating living people "as it arises" is sufficient. I don't think it is.
And I'm not an extremist about this. I don't think we should confine our BLP articles to people who also appear in paper encylopaedias. I don't think we should delete articles upon the request of the subject. One of my AFD closures is currently at WP:DRV, because I closed as keep when a number of editors believe it should have been deleted out of BLP concerns. So I'm fine with hvaing coverage of a wide range of living people; we just need to do a much better job of protecting them than we do. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 21:05, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Okay, so we'll find a way to protect them better. And I'll also point out that just because something goes to DRV doesn't mean it'll be overturned. If attention needs to be called to our deletion criteria or the behavior of closing admins, then let's by all means bring that up. But we have to take care in making sure our solutions don't begin to cut into our core principles. Semi-protecting an entire class of articles permanently and preemptively goes against everything this project was built on. Equazcion /C 21:14, 3 Apr 2008 (UTC)
Actually, I consider Sighted Versions a better fix than semiprotection. First, it allows at least some "unregistered" editing, while semiprotection does not - a reason why the proposal has been rejected over and over again. Second, Sighted Versions provides a better level of protection: While there would be many Surveyors (who can mark pages as sighted), the bar would still be much higher than just having an idle account for 4 days. Thus also vandalism by newly registered accounts would be stopped. As for the bot-protection in masses, this applies to both semiprotection and sighted versions. An automated protection would be possible, but probably not useful, since you would be protecting something which you have never seen (and which might in turn contain vandalism). --B. Wolterding (talk) 21:04, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
I accept all of those arguments. But by your own statement earlier, isn't it likely to be years before even a significant portion of our BLPs have been flagged? The other thing semi-protection has over sighted revisions is that it's (mostly) pre-emptive, whereas sighted revisions do us no good until somebody gets around to flagging a version of an article. Also, you say this proposal has been rejected "over and over again". That was actually my impression earlier as well, but I couldn't find any evidence of it having been proposed even once. Can you? Sarcasticidealist (talk) 21:11, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Try going through the WP:Village pump (proposals) archives. "Let's semi-protect everything" and its variants are put up every few days, and semi-protecting BLPs specifically comes up probably two or three times a month.
Also, pre-emptive protection is specifically considered a bad thing. --erachima talk 21:15, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
(ec) I know current policy considers pre-emptive protection a bad thing. You'll note that I'm arguing for a policy change. Citing existing policy to object to a proposed policy change is, if you'll pardon my saying, begging the question. Thanks for the link to WP:VPR, though; I monitor WP:VPP pretty closely, but don't spend much time at the proposals pump; I'll look through the archives. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 21:30, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
See also Wikipedia:Editors should be logged in users, Wikipedia:Disabling edits by unregistered users and stricter registration requirement. These examples do not refer specifically to BLPs; but the arguments given there seem to apply as well. --B. Wolterding (talk) 21:18, 3 April 2008 (UTC)


I have seen no persuasive evidence that users who are unregistered (or registered 1-3 days ago) are significantly more likely to cause problems than users who registered 4+ days ago. If this were actually true, if account registration was a non-trivial hurdle which actually helped weed out malicious users, (if there was any statistical data to support this) we might as well "semi-protect" all articles, i.e. require the additional step of creating an account to edit anything in main-space.

This goes hand-in-hand with the fact that inappropriate content can be added anywhere. Let's say somebody is outright determined to libel a living person but can't edit the person's article... or edit anything linking to or from it. Hitting "random page" until they find something they can edit wouldn't be an unlikely approach (particularly if they get an error message explaining the exact reason that they can't edit the page—our interface is generally quite good about spelling out everything). Say they find one of the few pages (maybe 5% of the total, being generous—I really don't know) which don't already mention at least one living person by name.

There are roughly two possible effects this would have on deliberate "BLP violations" (that is, "edits which deliberately malign a living person", not "edits which deliberately violate a particularly complex policy which most editors are oblivious to"... seriously, do the math):

  1. Patient people will create an account and post the same crap a few days later.
  2. Impatient people will post the same crap to an unrelated article which nobody is watching.

Even if we have a bot to automatically update some sort of list of all pages mentioning a living person by name, I doubt any sort of bot would be high-tech enough to see the problem with "the inventor of the Segway currently owes $18,275 in unpaid parking tickets", and in an obscure stub like 14917 Taco, the statute of limitations for said tickets would run out long before a human editor found it.

Even putting "wiki-models" and foundation issues completely aside, I'm afraid technical approaches like this would, much like the ban on unregistered page creation, only create another false sense of security. — CharlotteWebb 14:23, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

Not to mention cut down on new user participation and make the community even more insular? --Kim Bruning (talk) 14:33, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Choir, Kim. But I think the number of administrators who don't see a problem with that would surprise both of us. I'm trying to stick to practical concerns here because I know most people will disagree with us on ideological ones. — CharlotteWebb 14:57, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
I'm worried about those administrators. Should have watched RFA more thoroughly. Regret it now. --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:08, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
For the record, I'm all in favor of the anyone can edit model. If it works. I just don't think it does any more, based on what I have seen here of late. Too much at stake. ++Lar: t/c 16:57, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Holy shit. That's a huge statement. Care to explain? (If too large for this margin, please try on my talk page, or per e-mail) --Kim Bruning (talk) 17:04, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
See this blog post. Took me a while to pull it together, sorry for the delay. I hope I'm wrong about what I say there. ++Lar: t/c 04:01, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
(Regarding that blog post) If you want to argue it on a legal basis (we must protect ourselves against lawsuits!), then there's a particular person who's responsible for deciding Wikipedia's strategy for dealing with them. Have you spoken to him about this issue yet? What has he said?
Also, bringing up Siegenthaler is increasingly irrelevant as our BLP policy and procedures mature. We certainly do want to avoid future incidents like that, but the big thing about that incident is that were were totally unprepared for it at the time, and that's what made us look like idiots. We have multiple ways of preventing and responding to such problems these days, and with Stable Versions coming, we'll have even better measures in place. Near-total lockdown, which is essentially what you're proposing, is a gross overreaction to a problem which is important but probably not as world-ending as I believe you are claiming.--Father Goose (talk) 07:03, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
I was asked why I hold a particular view, (that, regrettably, the anyone can edit model may have issues as the project has grown in scope and import) and that blog post is an explanation of why. It's not a call to action. It's not legal advice, just a view. But if you think that the project's "multiple ways of preventing and responding to such problems" are going to solve every problem, or even most, I believe you're mistaken. I believe they don't always work, and as the stakes increase, that's possibly going to cause the project greater and greater problems. Sooner or later, someone will sue, someone with big enough money to draw blood. Mike Godwin is an awesome lawyer, make no mistake, but his being with the project is not an impenetrable shield. Further, I've got my real name out there, and you don't. Therefore I have more at stake here, more standing, than you do (or any other pseudonymous or anonymous editor does), so forgive me if I worry a bit more than you do. That was my choice from the get go, but I'm entitled to worry if I like. Note that it's not "near total lockdown", that's a mischaracterization. It's only increasing the responsibility for what contributors contribute. ++Lar: t/c 13:39, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
Well, now I'm even more convinced that you're overreacting. Do talk to Mike. I've emailed him about legal issues in the past and he made sense. See if he can put your mind at ease. Or if he can affirm your feeling that we are not living up to our responsibilities, legally.--Father Goose (talk) 04:52, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Regarding CharlotteWebb's statement: what, exactly, is the issue with ideology? It is, IMO, fundamental to the concept of Wikipedia that certain basic ideas be maintained and defended. An abandonment of these ideological concerns in favor of practical concerns leads us to lose sight of the meaning of the project. --Wikiacc () 21:28, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
Concur with Charlotte Webb's observations above. I have a fair number of non-biographical articles on my watchlist that are regularly "vandalised" and many of those improper edits include information about real people. I've found very nasty stuff about developers in articles about software programs, seen academics trashed in what appear to be pure science articles, and that doesn't count the slurs on current residents of stately homes, or the routine "John is teh gay" edits. People who want to insert BLP violations into Wikipedia are quite capable of finding ways to do it that do not involve editing a biographical article. I'll also add that there are plenty of examples of registered users creating coatracks in non-biographical articles to pillory people, and plenty of biographical articles containing BLP violations (both excessively positive and excessively negative) are regularly edited by registered users. Risker (talk) 15:10, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
I agree with most of this. My own experience is that I see no discernible difference in behavior between newish accounts and anon IPs. I think the current discretionary semi protection generally works OK, for BLP and non-BLP. I would agree with protection of policies, but that's another matter. Crum375 (talk) 17:14, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Agreed that newish accounts are often IPs who've been restricted. Also agreed that instituting semi-protection on all BLPs, including potentially ones that don't previously exist, is also problematic. I guess the questions is do we have enough people to prevent the problems from occuring and potentially lingering, and are there people who are good enough to vandalize without being caught for a good long time. So far as I can tell, the answers to the last two are not favorable. Germany, based on my limited knowledge of it, is a much more homogenous area than at least the US is, and vandalism by people who dislike a subject enough to effectively vandalize articles is I think probably less likely there. In the US, things are very different. We have more paid political and PR operatives and more articles, both of which could create more problems. On that basis, my guess would be to maybe not institute semi-protection immediately, but maybe create a controlled experiment, where a few blps are semiprotected, while a statistically significant number of similar articles aren't, let things run no more checked than usual for a month or two, and then examine the results at the end. If the results indicate that semi-protection of blps would decrease vandalism by a significant enough amount or degree, then we'd have cause to institute it. If not, then there'd be no real benefit. I would think maybe 1,000 blp articles, although maybe 10,000 would be better, with possibly a slightly larger than normal number of "political" bios, might be enough to run an effective study. It might be difficult to design, but it would give us results without necessarily impacting things too seriously too quickly. John Carter (talk) 17:26, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
The "design" stage would be easy. The hard part would be counting the results, to compare the number of "vandalism" edits and "BLP violation" edits (significant overlap, yes, but neither is a sub-set of the other) to compare with the total edits for each article. I wouldn't trust a bot to accurately do this, and I wouldn't trust a human to objectively do this Frowny.svg. — CharlotteWebb 17:46, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
I wasn't thinking in terms of number of edits, because that can be misleading, but rather the, admittedly subjective, analysis of the final results at the end of the experimental period, which could probably be determined by the number of unreverted incidences of vandalism. It would require having people willing to fact check everything added in the interim, and that might take a while, but I think the results could be meaningful. John Carter (talk) 18:57, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
I agree that in some cases, the two consequences you've identified will take place. But can you tell me with a straight face that you don't think an awful lot of the impatient ones will get frustrated and go do whatever it is kids these days do on the internet? Moreover, while I agree that BLP violations could be inserted into articles that don't have living people as their subject, at the very least those BLP violations wouldn't enjoy quite the privileged position in Google search rankings that the article on the subject itself would - not precisely "do no harm", but at least "do less harm". Finally, a lot of argument amounts to pointing out ways that people could circumvent this. Absolutely, they could. I'm not pretending that this would eliminate BLP violations, but I think for the low cost of semi-protecting our most vulnerable class of articles, we could greatly reduce BLP violations - not by 100%, maybe not even by 50% (although that's sort of my blind estimate), but certainly by a non-trivial proportion. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 17:41, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
True, they could always post the same crap on some other site and we wouldn't care. Not because we are callous or because we can safely say "it's somebody else's problem" (even though would be true), but because it will not affect the quality of our articles, which is our paramount concern as an encyclopedia (well, actually it might affect us if somebody tried to use the other site as a source, but we already have ways to deal with that).
I think there is a misunderstanding between us. Sarcasticidealist refers to kids being bored on the internet, resorting to garden-variety vandalism with no objective other than personal amusement, whereas John Carter is talking about malicious attempts to damage a person's reputation, especially for political reasons. To some of us, it boils down to whether the user expects others to believe what is posted, or to recognize it as some sort of joke. To others, it makes no difference at all. To the editor, it's a matter of how much trouble they'll go through to post it. — CharlotteWebb 18:23, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
To be clear, I'm talking both about bored kids and malicious defamation (and I actually think there's a finer line between those than you might think). This edit could have been bored kids or a political opponent, but I think we can say that there's at least a fifty-fifty chance that it wouldn't have happened had the article been semi-protected. I reverted nearly instantly, but I think I'm the only editor watching that article regularly; if I'd been retired, on a wiki-break, or had just missed the edit on my watchlist (it's a long watchlist), it could have stayed there for weeks, been replicated in Wikipeda mirrors, etc. Semi-protection of BLPs would substantially reduce (not eliminate) that kind of thing, and that benefit to me far outweighs the cost of telling well-intentioned IPs "Sorry, BLPs are semi-protected; while we encourage you to edit Wikipedia, you'll either need to register or go edit non-BLP articles". Sarcasticidealist (talk) 18:56, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

Google and the art of stable versions

On a side-note, if we are still inordinately obsessed with the implications of being a top ten site and Google's personal favorite (maybe someday we will get over ourselves). What do you think about setting "robots.txt" to only allow Google to index the latest "stable version" of living-person articles (or possibly all articles) if/when such a system is put into place? — CharlotteWebb 18:23, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

It's sort of hard to "get over ourselves" when our willingness/ability to prevent the spread of damaging misinformation has the effect it does on people's reputations and lives. But I think your suggestion is an excellent one; I'm only concerned with the "if/when". Sarcasticidealist (talk) 18:51, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
By "get over ourselves" I mean stop implying that the need to "get the article right" is some sort of by-product of being a high-traffic web site favored by popular search engines rather than a chapter from Journalism 101. — CharlotteWebb 13:41, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
I'm not a technical expert but as I understand it that will occur more or less automatically since google will only see the flagged version since it will be treated like a non-registered user. Am I missing something? JoshuaZ (talk) 19:47, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
I think you're missing that <weasel>some say</weasel> that they do not wish or expect flagged revisions to work this way. Take Kim Bruning: Sighted versions needn't be bad... as long as we still display the *newest* version to the reader. Angus McLellan (Talk) 00:02, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes, this was partly targeted toward Mr. Bruning's philosophy toward "stable versions" systems. I would like to know whether "still display the *newest* version to [all readers except for 'Google-Bot']" would be a compromise acceptable to him. — CharlotteWebb 13:41, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

More on the rationale for this

I thank all the editors who have so far provided their thoughts. I'd like to address a few of the points raised and expand a little bit on my rationale for my proposal. With regards to the flagged revs suggestion, when is that being rolled out? Eight months ago, it was expected to be available “in a few months”. I agree that it could help, but I think a lot of people – myself included – are losing patience waiting for an unspecified date when we can start figuring out how to implement a technical feature that may be able to help BLP violations. With regards to suggestions that there is no difference between IPs an newish accounts as far as BLP vandalism goes, I can’t agree, but neither side has any statistical evidence to back this up one way or another. Let’s pretend, though, that IPs and newish accounts are each responsible for similar amounts of BLP damage. First of all, reducing this damage by half by implementing semi-protection seems like a pretty good deal to me, even if 50% of the damage remains. Second, the “newish accounts” doing the BLP damage are often ones that were created just before doing the damage; some percentage of the creators of these accounts are never going to return to Wikipedia anyway, and semi-protection would prevent these accounts from doing their damage as well.

Finally, I’d like to discuss the suggestion, made by Lar, that the “anyone can edit” model doesn’t work so well anymore. I disagree, mostly. I think Wikipedia works quite well using that model. The trouble is that the ‘’way’’ it works is eventually: articles, on the whole, improve over time, eventually reaching a relatively stable state of relatively high quality. Along the way, there are going to be inaccuracies and omissions and NPOV violations and what have you, but a thousand Wikipedia editors editing under a thousand accounts eventually make the article good. I love watching that happen, and accept that the temporary inaccuracies and omissions and NPOV violations are just the cost of that. Except when those inaccuracies and omissions and NPOV violations harm living people; in that case, we can’t just say “well, the article will improve eventually,” or “well, people Googling John Seigenthaler, Sr. will eventually no longer be met with allegations of his involvement in the Kennedy assassination at the top of their Google search results.” We have to instead say that we’re going to do everything reasonably within our power to take “do no harm” seriously, and make sure that, ‘’at any given moment’’, BLPs are, if not perfect, at least not defaming their subjects.

I’m not proposing any significant challenge to the “anyone can edit” ethos, and I’m not proposing any serious increase in the barriers for newcomer participation to Wikipedia. All I’m saying is that if we need to recognize a distinction between vandalism that hurts the quality of the encyclopaedia, which is bad, and vandalism that hurts living people who have done nothing to deserve it, for which “bad” isn’t strong enough a word. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 17:35, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

As the signpost has reported here flagged versions are being tested at the moement for two to four weeks. We then need to demonstrate a consensus for turning it on. Flagged versions preserves the 'anyone can edit' ethos much better than semi protecting BLPs and for a little wait longer seems much preferable to me. Also consider the length of time I forsee trying to demonstrate a consensus for introducing stable versions and agreeing the practicalities of what we want them to be. By the time we have done this flagged versions should hopefully be ready for implementing. We should start now. Davewild (talk) 17:54, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

To IP or not to IP

This whole thing is apparently based on the assertion that IPs are up to no good. Researchers at Dartmouth performed a study which suggests otherwise: [13] [14]. I personally have seen plenty of registered and IP vandals, and positive edits coming from both IPs and registered users -- as have we all.

I can't help but think that this proposal is really just a form of xenophobia directed at unregistered users. It's certainly true that banning IPs from editing would eliminate all IP vandalism. But of course it would eliminate all good IP contributions as well, and there are plenty of them. If you're a vandal-fighter, I'm sure you want to make your life easier and prevent all vandalism, but that has to be balanced against our actual mission: building an encyclopedia. We have been accomplishing that mission by welcoming everyone in the world to contribute to the encyclopedia.

We all came in through the same door people are suggesting we now close. We all became Wikipedians by stepping through that door. This proposal is something like a project-scale form of ownership: we control this thing, we keep it pure, everybody new coming along is just going to fuck it up. But Wikipedia still has a tremendous amount of work to do, and we can use every hand we can get. Everybody who proves themselves to be a vandal gets banned; everybody who contributes productively gets a star star chucked at them.

We do a reasonable job of keeping libel out of BLPs. We don't do a perfect job, but we don't have to do a perfect job. Section 230 gives us some breathing room to make errors, and we are diligent about not abusing that breathing room. Keeping BLPs pristine is not our job; writing BLPs (and other articles) is our job. Keeping bad info out of them is part of our job. I applaud those who take it upon themselves to do that part of the job, but that part of the job should not compromise the overall job: writing the encyclopedia. Let others write the encyclopedia. Help them write the encyclopedia. Let them help us. Don't shut the door on them because occasionally an idiot strides in with them. We have plenty of ways to deal with idiots that don't require us to shut the doors.

Let's not give in to the temptation to turn Wikipedia into the encyclopedia that anybody who got here first can edit.--Father Goose (talk) 02:59, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

To be clear, my arguments in favour of protecting BLP are not legal arguments; they are moral arguments. Morally, I believe that we do have to do as close to a perfect job as we can reasonably do of keeping inappropriate material out of BLPs - no matter what section 230 says. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 07:42, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
...but not no matter the cost. Doing our best while continuing to be an openly-editable medium must suffice. Equazcion /C 07:45, 4 Apr 2008 (UTC)
Let's not pretend that we're dealing in absolutes: IPs can't create articles, new accounts can't edit pages that have been the target of vandalism, and nobody can edit fully protected pages without consensus. It's not a question of whether Wikipedia should be an openly-edited medium - all concerned agree that it should be, but all concerned also agree that this openness shouldn't be absolute - it's a question of to what extent it will be openly-edited. There is no sacrosanct principle of Wikipedia that would be violated by semi-protecting BLPs. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 08:42, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
Sure there is. I've said this before: preemptive or permanent article protection is just not something we do, let alone both on an entire class of articles. Protection is always temporary and when needed due to abuse. Once protection becomes preemptive rather than responsive, that's when the open-edit principle starts to crack. True, new users and IPs can't move or create new articles, but neither of those prevent anyone from "editing this page right now". Your solution would create such a prevention. It'd begin Wikipedia down a dangerous path... "Wikipedia, the encyclopedia anyone can edit, as long as you're not looking to edit something we're afraid of getting sued over". Even this one suggestion alone, minus the future prediction, still means "you can only edit this page now if it's not about a living person". That's a far cry from our current occasional temporary measures. Equazcion /C 08:48, 4 Apr 2008 (UTC)
If, as someone posted above, approximately 1/8 of all Wikipedia articles are BLPs, that's pretty absolute. I don't have anything against semiprotecting articles against active vandalism, or any similar pragmatic steps, but this kind of wide-scale lockdown to target a problem that we are already dealing with pretty well is totally out of scale.--Father Goose (talk) 10:04, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
Agreed. I think this proposal is a solution in search of a problem. Tabercil (talk) 05:36, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

The free encyclopedia that anyone can edit?

On the Main Page, the very first thing a visitor to Wikipedia sees is "Welcome to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit". One of these days, we as a community are going to have to decide whether that's still true, or we are now "the encyclopedia with a relatively open admission policy that most can edit, except for one-eighth of our articles, because we're too afraid of getting sued". szyslak (t) 22:34, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

This is a massive change that violates m:Foundation issues. Simply put, it cannot be implemented. Phil Sandifer (talk) 22:38, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
Thank you. One of the Foundation issues is "Ability of anyone to edit articles without registering". I'm quite willing to believe this is a foundation principle, but is it fair to ask why it is? Wanderer57 (talk) 23:24, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
The Wikipedia has some plainly contradictory ideas. There is no massive change involved here. It is ALREADY not true that not everyone can edit it -- spammers, blocked users, etc, can't. Also, already no one can add contentious content to BLPs. And non-registed users can't make new articles. So let's keep the silly stuff out of this. Anyone can register, thus anyone can edit. There is no fundamental principle in danger here, unless you consider the ability of anonymous users to be scumbags and write nonsense on BLPs to be some wonderful principle. The current policy is simply hateful and gives the encyclopedia a much worse reputation. It should be changed for reasons of common decency, let alone practicality. If a person can't be bothered to take two minutes to register, they have no business being able to say anything on this site about another human being. About Scrabble or World war II, fine, but living human beings, no. 2005 (talk) 23:46, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
How about "anyone can edit, except those who have lost the right to do so because of previous misbehavior"? The huge difference here, as others have pointed out, is that protecting all BLPs is a pre-emptive measure. As Phil Sandifer and Wanderer57 pointed out above, this proposal violates Foundation issues. I would advise supporters of this proposal to petition the Wikimedia Board of Trustees for a change in Board policy, if it's that important to you. You call the current policy "hateful". Hateful to whom? Do you accuse opponents of this proposal of violating BLP by acquiescence, or of otherwise engaging in immoral behavior? szyslak (t) 00:35, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
About what 2005 terms "the ability of anonymous users to be scumbags and write nonsense on BLPs": Registered users are just as "able" to violate BLP. If you are physically able to edit the encyclopedia, you are physically able to violate any policy or guideline until you're blocked. Of course, one is prohibited from doing so, by our policies and by common decency. szyslak (t) 00:42, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Then there is no issue, so we can just adopt this change! What registration requires is the feeble commitment to spend a few minutes before slandering someone, while also leaving a more clear trail of the slanderer than the IP address does. However much reason there is to not allow IPs to create an article about some drinking game are 1000 times less important than preventing IPs from slandering or vandalizing articles about people. It's simply absurd to stake out this opposite territory. Go fight for allowing IPs to create articles before opposing a common sense follow-up on established policy. Protacting people is more important than protecting us from vanity drinking game articles. 2005 (talk) 02:20, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Why isn't the existing BLP policy good enough at "protecting people"? szyslak (t) 03:14, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

In response to a couple of people, yes - there are cases where we find it necessary to restrict the ability of "anybody" to edit. However we have, in accordance with our core principles, attempted to minimize this. Pre-emptive protection crosses the line from what is necessary to what we are afraid of, and should not be done without Foundation approval. Phil Sandifer (talk) 02:39, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Prempting IPs from creating new articles is not "minimizing". It is an enormous net that is existing policy. Obviously no Foundation approval is necessary to take this new step since it is a tiny step compared to the larger prohibition. If IPs can't create articles about drinking games, then prohibiting them from editing BLPs is obviously not prohibited by general philosophy, so let's focus on real reasons to make this change or not. The question is whether this would be good for the encyclopedia or not, not platitudes since precedent is clear -- pre-emptively blocking IPs from some editing tasks is clear existing policy. 2005 (talk) 03:07, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes, blocking IPs from performing certain tasks is justifiable. However, we need to draw a line somewhere. Otherwise, why don't we just end anonymous editing altogether, or require identification of editors? szyslak (t) 03:15, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Assume good faith

Another objection that hasn't been addressed: Semi-protecting all BLPs does not assume good faith. It carries a sweeping assumption of bad faith targeted at our IP editors. szyslak (t) 00:38, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

See above. No more than existing policy. Besides that, this is no argument. BLPs have rules beyond good faith. All editors are simply not allowed to add certain things, whether they do them in good faith or not. 2005 (talk) 02:22, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
That has nothing to do with assuming good faith. Yes, people violate BLP "in good faith", but people also violate NPOV, V and NOR in the belief they're doing the right thing. Anyway, you seem to be arguing that BLP "trumps" AGF, that we don't have to assume good faith when people are editing BLPs. No official policy "trumps" any other. Our policies work together, not against each other. szyslak (t) 02:44, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
No, you wrote AGF "trumps" this, which of course it doesn't. AGF has no bearing here. So let's move on. 2005 (talk) 02:59, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
AGF does trump the idea of semi-protecting BLPs, as does the Foundation issue of allowing IPs to edit. Do you mean to say our BLP policy somehow requires mass semi-protection? I was saying all our official policies are equal in importance. AGF is an official policy, and so is BLP. One does not trump another. szyslak (t) 03:07, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Your circular logic is making me dizzy. If IPs can be prevented from starting articles, they can be prevented from editing BLPs for the same reasons. It's just silliness to ignore the obvious precedent. The only issue if whether to broaden the precedent, so let's focus on that. 2005 (talk) 21:40, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
By that statement do you mean to suggest that precedent should be considered before policy and Foundation issues? --Wikiacc () 11:41, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

The free encyclopedia that anyone can edit, not write

On the Main Page, the very first thing a visitor to Wikipedia sees is "Welcome to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit". Let's not lose sight of the fact that it doesn't say "Welcome to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can write". Let's also not lose sight of the fact that our material is released under the GFDL, which means people are always free to edit and to republish as they choose. Just because a page here is protected, does not mean someone cannot publish it on their own site with revisions, or even in a book. The idea that page protection is a betrayal of our fundamental principles is a misunderstanding of what we are. Wikipedia is not an online encyclopedia. It is an open content encyclopedia project, which has also been published on cd-rom and some portions in print. Are those violations of our principles? Are those not Wikipedia? Let's put the idea to rest that the database has to be open to being written. The statement means all are free to contribute, and content is decided by consensus. The content doesn't have to be edited by all to achieve the consensus, the consensus can be hammered out on a talk page and then moved to update the content. There are many models which allow us to be the "free encyclopedia that anyone can edit". We have a serious issue here, and the most fundamental principle is that we are neutral. If people wish to edit our material and insert contentious passages, why do we have to allow them to do it here? Why can't they host it themselves? That was always intended to be part of the deal, that people build on the content we generate, and publish it themselves. People have the right to fork. It is not a principle that we as a community publish everything. There are serious concerns here for the community to examine. When it comes to living people, we as editors have legal responsibilities. There are also moral and ethical considerations. Are we committed to creating a comprehensive, neutral encyclopedia? If so, we should only include material which does not unduly bias an article, presenting only one face. That is especially so with regards biographies of living people. In fact, biographies are extremely hard for Wikipedia to write, because to write a biography one has to interview friends and the like, something we as Wikipedians cannot do due to original research concerns. The reason such interviews are undertaken is so that the biography can be comprehensive, balanced and considered. As we do not allow ourselves to perform original research, we clearly cannot write a biography unless we source from biographies already written. We need to consider ow we write about living people more carefully. Encyclopedic writing in the main tends to be bland and covers the main facts. I'm not saying we have to be boring, but we have to consider doing something. There are important issues at play here. Let's not forget that in some instances, a newspaper report can actually be primary source, not secondary. We need to ground BLP articles more in profile pieces and proper biographies, not the news of the day. Hiding T 09:48, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Urban Rose's thoughts

Unfortunately I've come to this conclusion. m:Foundation issues states that one of the fundamental principles of Wikipedia and one that is essentially beyond debate is that anyone should be able to edit WikiMedia projects without registering. Period. Unfortunately, if this is one of Wikipedia's core principles, what it truly means is that article creation should be allowed for anons, and no pages should be protected or semi-protected. This means that IPs should be allowed to edit the main page, high risk templates, everything. Wikipedia isn't "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit, unless you're anon, in which case you can't edit the Main Page, penis, Template:Uw-vandalism4im, etc." As you can tell, I don't think that this is what Wikipedia should do, but if not requiring registration in order to edit is one of Wikipedia's non-debatable principles, then I think that Wikipedia has to do this if it wants to be true to it's principles. I know that there's no way that this is going to happen, and I'm glad it's not, so my true point of view is that Wikipedia's core principles need to be amended to reflect reality. Please note that this is not the same as me saying, "the software needs to be changed so that anons aren't allowed to edit", but this idea that even suggesting it is out of harmony with Wikipedia's core principles needs to be gotten rid of (which it will, once Wikipedia's core principles are updated so that what is practiced is also what is preached).--Urban Rose 02:22, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

I'm just going to take a break from discussing policy for a while. I'm sure that I'm overreacting and have said things that I'll regret later. I take back what I said about Wikipedia not practicing what it preaches.--Urban Rose 03:53, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
Okay, what I've concluded now is this: based on what is practiced, what Wikipedia in fact "preaches" on the meta in saying that the ability to edit without registering is one of Wikipedia's underlying principles is that account creation should not be required to edit all pages, though it can still be required for some. But where to draw the line between allowing anon edits to pages and restricting anon edits to pages is what confuses me. Would allowing anons to only edit the sandbox be a violation of this principle. Technically they would still be allowed to edit the encyclopedia. This is why I'd like to hear Jimbo Wales give his view on where to draw the line, so this matter can be settled.--Urban Rose 15:10, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

Designated agent

There may be a discrepancy between the Designated Agent listed on this page and the one at ... I'm not sure which one is correct. (you need a wikimediafoundation wiki log in to see the text there so I am reproducing the address:

   Jimmy Wales, Designated Agent
   Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
   200 2nd Avenue S
   Suite 358
   St. Petersburg FL 33701

Not sure what should be changed, if anything. ++Lar: t/c 01:49, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

See User talk:Anthere#designated agent. Bottom line: it is a legal term refering to something that must be changed by a formal government process, and the Chair of the Board is on the case. I expect our lawyer to act on this ASAP. WAS 4.250 (talk) 11:40, 15 April 2008 (UTC)


Would all the BLP's on wikipedia be considered unauthorized? If so should something be done about it? MrMurph101 (talk) 03:47, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

Yes, they are clearly unauthorized. Do you perceive this as a problem and, if so, why? Sarcasticidealist (talk) 03:49, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
It could be. I'm not saying that all blp's should be deleted because of this but wondering if it should be noted somewhere. Published biographies have to note they are unauthorized but I don't know how something like wikipedia fairs with this issue or whether it matters or not. MrMurph101 (talk) 03:59, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
I don't believe there's any law requiring published biographies to disclose whether or not they're authorized. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 04:09, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
"The general legal rule is that an author can write a biography without the subject's permission providing that the biography is accurate and does not invade the subject's right of privacy, misappropriate his/her right of publicity, infringe copyright protected material of the subject, engage in unfair competition or violate a breach of confidence with the subject." [15] In any event, this is a legal question, and legal questions are resolved by the Foundation's office and its legal counsel. I do think there are important ethical dimensions to Wikipedia BLPs, but those are already being discussed in enough places. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 04:12, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. I was just curious and wanted some clarity about it because I wasn't sure. MrMurph101 (talk) 04:21, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
"Authorized" biographies are published with a "sympathetic point of view"; Wikipedia's biographies are meant to adhere to a neutral point of view, which may or may not be to the subject's liking.--Father Goose (talk) 23:40, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

Sensationalistic titles

What should an editor do when they encounter a good source with a sensationalist title, and the material from that source does belong (NPOV, undue, etc...) in the article? (Many news report "titles" are meant to grab potential readers attention, which is contrary to this policies goal of understating and underplaying controversial materials.) Ideally, of course, use an equally reliable source that covers the same material without the problematic title. But if that isn't (yet) possible, what should be done?

I've seen two ArbComm cases where one of the issues was the usage of such sources. Here are the sources that were problematic: [16], [17]. For the second, it is the sub-title that is problematic, so I'd think using just the main title would be an acceptable (if imperfect) citation. For the first, there is no other title, and omitting the title would lead to an incomplete citation, which is unsound sourcing. So what should be done? This is a problem that is going to recur, given the economic pressures under which newspaper headlines are written, and the "right" answer isn't obvious to me. GRBerry 18:57, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

If the sensationalist title belongs to an article in a sensationalist publication, then there's a good chance that it may need to be removed altogether. However, in the case of a sensationalist title in The Guardian or some other reliable publication ... I don't think we can be responsible for the titles chosen by others. As long as the title appears in a proper context (i.e. a "Notes" or "References" section), there should be no confusion with regard to what claims our article makes about the person. Black Falcon (Talk) 22:08, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia policy on names of teens in the news?

I looked at Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons#Privacy of names. What is Wikipedia policy on including the name of a teen who is a victim? The victim's name is available from various news sources such as the Associated Press, the New York Times and the Orlando Sentinel. (Google search gets "about 202,000" matches for the victim's name.) --EarthFurst (talk) 04:14, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

We balance the need for the information in order for the article to be encyclopedic, the ability of the information in a high visibility site to cause harm, and undue weight considerations amomg other concerns. The incident and article you are refering to have no need for the name to be in the article, could do harm (newspaper accounts grow old and in a year's time will not be in google news and some will be off the web altogether), and the incident itself in that article has a bit of undue weight proiblem. WAS 4.250 (talk) 11:13, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

Essay: Wikipedia:No original biographies

Wikipedia:No original biographies. Not a policy proposal, but codifying something I've heard here and there. Feel free to comment/edit to your heart's content. – Luna Santin (talk) 01:04, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Robot detection of articles about people

Shouldn't it be possible for bots to detect (with 90% accuracy) whether an article is about a person? For example, Faisal Faisal isn't listed in living people, but you could deduce that the article is about a person based on the category "Iraqi people stubs", which is descended from the "People" category. A human being would then have to determine whether the person is living or not, but at least that's a sorting job. Andjam (talk) 14:01, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

The latter can usually be determined by the presence of a birth date and the absence of a death date, if it matters. However, this can create false positives if the person is dead but the death date is missing. When Category:Living people was created it was mostly populated by a bot using this sort of logic, e.g. [18]. To keep this category as accurate as possible we would need bots to repeatedly and continuously cycle through all articles. Now that a "hidden category" feature is available, it might be helpful to add non-living people directly to Category:Dead people to decrease the amount of redundant checking in each cycle. Also a (hidden) Category:Non-biographical articles could similarly be added as a second list of pages for a bot to permanently ignore while updating Category:Living people, if one wanted to make this more efficient. — CharlotteWebb 10:25, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
Sounds good. Andjam (talk) 12:43, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
Of course, no matter how "hidden" a category is, some will still insist that categories serving this purpose (marking a person as dead or a subject as a non-person) should be, for reasons of propriety, used only on talk pages, similarly to Category:Biography articles of living people (for which the title Category:Talk pages of articles categorized as "living people" would be functionally more accurate, if that makes any sense, but semantic issues like that are arguably not important outside of article space). If the above strategy is to be modeled after the "BLP-talk-page" category we would probably end up with "Category:Biography articles of dead people" (or "...of deceased people" if we are squeamish) and Category:Non-biography articles, neither of which would need to be "hidden". As far as grammar goes, the adjective "biographical" would probably be better for all three of these, but again it doesn't matter much for self-referential maintenance categories which do not directly contain articles, though it would be easy to change as all of these would be added via existing talk-page banner templates. — CharlotteWebb 13:21, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Avoiding BLP by-pass

Given that there's a move towards tightening up on BLPs (see below), making it easier to delete them, we should consider biographical material outside of stand-alone BLPs, particularly "bio lists". There are numberous pages, like this list of people who last an election which collect multiple bios of people who fall short of sufficient notability for their own article. Often a "bio in a list" is just as long as a bio in a stand-alone article. Such lists are popular with TV reality shows and politics, as a "merge compromise", between keep and delete. If we're now deleting more BLPs to avoid BLP problems, then nothing is accomplished if the "problematic material" is simply relocated, and subject to all of the same problems. --Rob (talk) 18:27, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. I've mentioned this below to get more eyes and fingers (typing) up here. I think this applies to all articles, as mentioning someone in the article of the prison they were in, or mentioning someone in the article about the person they defended at a trial, all happens outside the article, but still needs to be sourced and well-written, and not "doing harm". I fear that with an article deleted, people will relax and the material will insidiously creep back in to other articles and be poorly sourced. It will all still be there, but spread out. It may do less harm in that "spread out" form, but it is also harder for us to track it, monitor it, and keep it under control. Ultimately, it may be easier to monitor tightly controlled, semi-protected, bland permastubs for BLPs, rather than deleting them and fragmenting the problem. An analogy would be an asteroid impacting the Earth - a fragmented asteroid can do more damage than a single large impact. I might even suggest that if an AfD closes as "no consensus", we should blank or stub or restart the article, rather than outright delete. Or even just bare facts in a stub, and then protect the article. That gives a place for incoming links to provide readers with the minimum information, and allows us to monitor what is being said about that person in other articles. Carcharoth (talk) 23:48, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Some examples (Blair, Beck and Lee)

One example I was involved with recently was Ian Blair. Guy stubbed this article on request as part of a larger batch. I haven't asked him yet, but I got the impression it was as part of a direct OTRS(?) request. I've been uneasy about this ever since, particularly as it has been admitted that the report into the Stockwell shooting was delayed for political reasons (the current Mayor of London supports Ian Blair and the mayoral elections were at the time a few weeks away, now a few days away). The article was bad before, but is bland now. The timing of the stubbing, as I said, has left me uneasy ever since.

Another example shows how the passage of history can dim the BLP fires. See Thomas Snow Beck and Robert Lee. If they were both alive today, and the dispute was being played out in the full glare of the media, what would the reaction be here on Wikipedia to calls for deleting the articles? In all likelihood, the media would find the story very boring, but eventually the story gets told by the historians. I agree with what LessHeard vanU said here.

So, two separate examples, which will probably confuse any discussion. If there is any. Carcharoth (talk) 00:04, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Question about a subject's year of birth

I have a question, and started a discussion on the Avoiding Harm Talk Page. Can interested parties here chime in there? Thanks. Nightscream (talk) 06:19, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

People who may or may not be living

I know there are categories handling people who may or may not be living, such as "Possibly living people" or "Disappeared people", but this policy page doesn't explicitly state that this policies apply for such people. That is, if in doubt, the policy applies. Should this be clarified? I'm also going to mention this issue at Template talk:WPBiography. Andjam (talk) 13:10, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

IMO, it should be stated specifically that when there is uncertainty the policy applies.
On a related matter, I think it should be said that a person's death is NOT a carte blanche that things can be added that were unacceptable before their death. Wanderer57 (talk) 15:53, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
Agree, commonsense though. FT2 (Talk | email) 13:54, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
Commonsense most certainly. Unfortunately, I think some Wikipedians operate on the "letter of the law, according to their interpretation" rather than on commonsense. (Sorry, I'm getting cynical.) Wanderer57 (talk) 00:45, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

A thought about the proposal

(Please feel free to thread this section into the miasm above. I gave up trying to, with all the formatting and reformatting : )

If the proposal (on specific types of BLP closures closing as delete, rather than keep) is implemented, does this mean that there could now be nominations at DRV concerning no consensus closures to be still closed as no consensus, but defaulting to "keep" instead?

If not, why not? - jc37 20:49, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

One step at a time, Jc37... ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 03:13, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
Sorry about that. I guess I just like to know if there is a lake on the other side of the puddle I'm jumping over : ) - jc37 04:52, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

"Unsourced or poorly sourced"

I think this should be changed to just "unsourced". Otherwise you get people reverting without discussion and additionally saying the 3RR rule doesn't apply to themselves. When challenged, they just say cite is "poorly sourced". I cited a professor (this guy to be exact: who describes what a primary source said (a primary source whom TIME magazine has also used without reservation) and get reverted with attention called to the BLP policy saying no discussion need be "waited" for. "Poorly sourced" is too subjective a standard. Anybody that doesn't like what's said will say it is "poorly sourced". If something is sourced AT ALL, surely the reverter can explain why the source is "poor".Bdell555 (talk) 06:07, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

To clarify, the above editor has been edit warring over an attempt to insert this edit[19] into the Bill Ayers article. The edit is a near-exact paraphrase of a portion of an editorial[20] published by a fellow of the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank, on its website, that paraphrases an uncorroborated account by a federal informant, made in an unspecified document, formant, and date, that nearly forty years ago the subject of the article, a living person, deliberately and contemptuously disregarded the likelihood of killing innocent victims, when directing the placement of a nail bomb. This article has been the subject of much edit warring and attempts at inserting POV content, for the past couple months after a story broke that political operatives are trying to make something of a claimed relationship with Barack Obama. Wikidemo (talk) 08:30, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
This same fellow of the Claremont Institute has also served as a foreign policy advisor to the US House of Representatives. His scholarship has been described as "solid" by another professional acadmic in a review of one of his books in an academic journal. Wikidemo's original research attacks the primary source, yet not only is there not any Wiki policy that calls for what he calls for (like the "format" of the original report), but TIME Magazine had no issues with the primary source. Might I note that the article on el Che accuses him of illegal activities as well? Is Wikidemo going to go on at length about Che's "contemptuous disregard" for "innocent victims"? Keep in mind here that the subject of this bio is "Gulity as sin," by his own account, and says point blank "I bombed the Pentagon". It also takes more than one person to "edit war". Wikidemo keeps reverting me and that isn't "edit warring", the very charge he levels at me? It's Wikidemo, not myself, who has repeatedly dismissed the utility of discussion as opposed to edit warring, as a full review of the Bill Ayers Talk page will reveal. Wikidemo is amongst the same crowd that descended on the article after a recent media storm, such that it is rather presumptuous to imply that other editors cannot rise to his level of nonpartisanship. Note that Wikidemo did not cite ANY Wiki policies concerning what constitutes a "reliable source". But the issue here is NOT WHETHER THIS PARTICULAR EDIT SHOULD BE IN OR OUT! It's WHETHER THERE SHOULD BE AN EXAMINATION OF THE ADEQUACY OF THE SOURCING. It's whether there should be any argument at all, not who ultimately has the better one. Wikidemo has just presented his argument, and I don't dispute for a minute that his argument should be considered. The problem is that he doesn't want MY argument considered. "immediately and without discussion" gives zero power to material adders while empowering reverters to a level that can be easily abused.Bdell555 (talk) 17:39, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
I disagree that the wording should be changed to just say "unsourced". If it said that, a questionable edit with a dubious source could be defended as "it is sourced; you have to leave it in."
From the POV of this policy and Wikipedia, this is a far more serious situation than having questionable information removed on the grounds it is poorly sourced. Wanderer57 (talk) 15:35, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
Argee with Wanderer. Poor sourcing can be as much of a problem as no sourcing. If a source is for example a random blog. JoshuaZ (talk) 15:42, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
"it is sourced; you have to leave it in." No, that's not AT ALL what I am suggesting here. What I am suggesting is that if it is sourced, there should be an examination as to whether it is "poorly" sourced or not, as opposed to just reverting it without examination. "Poorly" is a subjective standard and we should have objective standards. How could it be defended by "you have to leave it in"? What Wiki policy says "you have to leave it in"? "Unsourced ... removed without waiting for discussion" does not DEFEND the ADDITION or maintenance of ANY edit. Removing "poorly" would merely take away something from reverters who want to remove a perfectly sourced edit WITHOUT ANY ARGUMENT AT ALL because, in their subjective view, it the sourcing is "poor". There ought to be a discussion as to whether the sourcing is, in fact, "poor" or not.Bdell555 (talk) 17:39, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
There are degrees of reliability in sourcing. As Joshua says, the proposed wording would permit an accusation made by an anonymous poster on a personal blog. This amounts to no sourcing at all: put in on your blog or make a Youtube video of it, and it goes in WP. Destroys the concept of RS, OR, and NPOV simultaneously. The example is particularly telling, for the material asserted is not based upon the professor's scholarly research, but upon his retelling what was said in private to him with no documentation by an anonymous undercover informant. A perfect example of what does not go in Wikipedia. couldn't even be used in a neutral context, let alone a politically charged BLP. DGG (talk) 22:12, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
Again, how would removing "poorly sourced" "permit" ANYTHING? The sentence can only be used for REJECTING. I'm suggesting the scope for rejection be narrowed such that for sourced material there should be an examination of the adequacy of the sourcing instead of reversion with no explanation or accountability. Discussion never hurt anyone, and indeed is preferable to an edit war. Is it better for Wiki policies to instruct one side of edit war (and not the other) that there is no obligation to engage in discussion? An "accusation made by an anonymous poster on a personal blog" can be quickly dismissed by a quick reference to WP:RS in conjuction with WP:BLP. You've also got the example wrong. The informant here is not anonymous (where are you getting this from?). For someone who is avowedly standing up for "living persons" against getting smeared, you don't seem to have any reservations about levelling the totally unsourced charge that a claim by Dr Harmon ( is not based upon "scholarly research". Where is the (non-OR) support for your contention that "his retelling was what was said in private to him"? Even if your contention is correct, are you going then reject all the research that appears in Wikipedia that comes from interviews with participants? PBS Frontline has THOUSANDS of first hand interview evidence, and much of it accuses people like Cheney of things Cheney doesn't like. You are going to revert all of that? TIME Magazine has no problem printing what the informant says. Where does it say that we could not cite TIME here? Your Userpage indicates that you are a "First Amendment Absolutist" but in this case you want censor? My edit, if included, says "according to the informant". Why can't readers draw their own conclusions about the significance of what follows?Bdell555 (talk) 17:56, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
To correct a possible misunderstanding by DGG, the primary source is a document, the secondary source says without elaboration, that "[Larry] Grathwohl, a government informant, wrote." So we have a government informant who made claims in an unnamed document at an unknown date, as paraphrased in an editorial published by a conservative think tank written by one of its fellows, to the effect that Bill Ayers refused to scrap the bombing of a police station because concern for likely loss of life was "unrevolutionary." That statement would be permitted here only by the most extreme revamping of WP:V and WP:BLP, by which anything that has a source gets in. It is hard to imagine a reasonable BLP filter that would not filter out that one. The issue here doesn't seem to be what the policy happens to be, but that we have a policy at all. The fact that we have to use judgment about what we write is no argument against having standards. WP:RS has a discussion of the reliability of various sources, as does WP:V and WP:BLP. We discuss and debate those polices and how to appply them, but for the most part the system works, and deciding whether a source is reliable is not usually a problem.Wikidemo (talk) 19:25, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
So according to Wikidemo, if economist Paul Krugman claims that the rich got richer last year in one of his NY Times columns, any edit that cites that should be reverted because Krugman clearly self-identifies himself as a "Liberal" (see and moreover he's an "editorialist". Where is the Wiki policy supporting that? Policies are determined collaboratively last time I checked. Where does Harmon self-identify as "conservative" like Krugman does, anyway? Are BOTH "liberals" and "conservatives" liars? Who's left then? Whatever the BLP filter is, it should be applied consistently. As it stands now, people reverting a sourced cite not only do not have to explain themselves, they are exempted from the 3RR rule. If you are going to tilt the playing field like that, such privileges should be reserved for reverters of UNSOURCED edits. If one is going to go beyond that, "poor sources" should be objectively defined or a list of "poor sources" enumerated: e.g. no self-published. "Poor" is totally subjective and accordingly does not help resolve a dispute when whether the source is "poor" or not is precisely the question at issue.Bdell555 (talk) 20:19, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
Um, no (to the rhetorical straw man argument). I'll step back and allow others to respond, if we haven't scared them off - you might want to pay some heed. Wikidemo (talk) 20:36, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
Very well, then, what exactly is your point re "conservative" and "editorial"? What makes you think I WOULDN'T "pay heed"?Bdell555 (talk) 20:49, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

Hi Bdel555 - Just to clarify, I got into the discussion because of my interest in the wording of the policy. I'm not certain if the problem you are raising is really about the policy or about the way it was applied in a particular case.

As far as the policy itself, it says "unsourced or poorly sourced material should be removed without discussion". This is deliberately done. It can be expressed more briefly as "if in doubt, leave it out." The point is that there is less risk in leaving out questionable information than in putting it in.

This does not mean the information must be left out forever. It means leave it out to allow time for discussion, or checking for better sources, or both. The end result might be a decision to put the information in.

If someone approaches one of these situations with the attitude that "this has to go in right now", the policy can be very frustrating. From the longer term point of view of building an encyclopedia, a delay of a few hours, days, or even weeks before something is decided is not usually cause for great concern. Wanderer57 (talk) 21:46, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

I don't see a distinction between having a problem with a policy and having a problem with its application because policies become relevant in the context of disputes over particular, concrete edits. If a policy cannot be applied, that's a problem with the policy, not just its application! "If in doubt, leave it out" is not a usefully worded policy because one side will say "yes there is" and the other side "no there isn't" in any given particular dispute (as an aside, "if in doubt, leave it out" also begs the critical question of whether Wikipedia should be "inclusionist" or "deletionist" in its bias). An objective standard is needed; e.g., an absolute bar to self-published sources. I believe this absolute bar would be an example of specifying a higher standard than the RS policy demands without becoming subjective (as an aside, is there any other encyclopedia out there that changes its standards for BLPs?). Who is arguing something "has to go IN right now"? Where did I request special privileges? I am asking why something has to go OUT "right now" and more generally why First Amendment crowd cannot challenge the Chilling effect crowd on a level playing field.Bdell555 (talk) 22:24, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
In fact, I think it is something of a mischaracterization to say that the Chilling effect crowd is on the "other side" of the issue because a libel suit would be directed at the source a Wikipedia article cites as opposed to shooting Wikipedia as the messenger. The "other side" is more accurately characterized as the people who simply prefer hagiographies to NPOV BLPs for reasons that vary. I'm not really a First Amendment guy either, since it is not MY speech that belongs in Wikipedia, but that of reliable sources.Bdell555 (talk) 22:38, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
If something is poorly sourced then it should be deleted. The question in this case is whether a source is poor or not. The place for that discussion is the talk page, not the article itself. If the content is derogatory or controversial then it MUST be removed from the article while the discussion is going on and not be added to the article until a consensus (based on policy not voting) is reached to add it. Based on the comments above there is a case to be answered that the source is biased so it was right to delete the info from the article. If you feel you can show the source is a good one then make your case on the articles talk page and work with other editors to achieve a consensus. Be aware that the consensus might be to add the info but surround it with caveats such as "Dr Whosit claimed on a conservative website that an unnamed source had told him that...". It might even be to not add the info.Filceolaire (talk) 13:04, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
The source is NOT UNNAMED! And no one "told" anyone anything here! Finally, TIME Magazine used the same NAMED source. We've got a respected scholar whose observations derived from a primary document were published by a third party. This isn't the place to discuss specific edits anyway. User Wikidemo has unfortunately sidetracked us by jumping in with his challenges to the specific edit of mine he doesn't like instead of discussing the BLP policy. A scholar can write a piece that will be picked up by different publishers depending on who the publishers are marketing to. If there is truly a blacklist of which institutes or think tanks may be cited where is the blacklist? Provide the list of inadmissable sources here in the policy so we have an objective standard. How is stuff published by governments, including the US government, consistently distinguishable from what is published by research institutes? National governments don't have agendas? Keeping this to BLP policy, where does it say that someone reverting me here ever has to discuss at all? The current policy says "without waiting for discussion". Reverters are going to interpret that as meaning they are except from discussion as well as from the 3RR rule. "...content is derogatory or controversial then it MUST be removed" is sending Wikipedia down the slippery slope, and that's a large enough issue I'll create a new topic for that alone, below.Bdell555 (talk) 17:17, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
(Before plunging into that topic, please note the policy DOES NOT MEAN "never has to be discussed at all". It means that if there is "problem" material, it should be removed (or better yet not put in at all) until there has been discussion and a decision. The policy does not prohibit discussion, it allows for discussion Wanderer57 (talk) 17:52, 24 April 2008 (UTC))
Removing the policy in its entirety would allow for discussion just as much. Why does the policy say something? In order to provide a reason for NOT discussing. Let's not mischaracterize the policy's function.Bdell555 (talk) 18:29, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

No consensus to act should always result in no action

We've already chopped enough holes in existing policy to make it easier for anyone desiring to delete content from a BLP article to do so and claim sanctuary under BLP policy without needing to explain themselves or take part in discussion, with anone who disagrees with them hamstrung by the need not to undo content removals under BLP, regardless of how unwarranted they may be.

To now go ahead with a proposal that we alter whether we honor consensus a fundamental principle of our community seems unreasonable to me. When there's no consensus, we don't make a change. That's as true at AfD as it is with individual edits to an article. To do anything when there's no consensus is fundamentally antithetical to what a wiki is and how we've agreed to write this encyclopedia.

BLP-friendly exceptions have been made (either de jure or de facto) to mission-critical policies like Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, neutral point of view, notability, and verifiability. If we won't do anything to undo any of these changes, can we at least agree not to change the meaning and significance of consensus? --SSBohio 11:58, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

So if there is no consensus to create the article, it should not be created? Hiding T 12:02, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
I agree with FT2's policy edits that have brought the two changed deletion policies back into line with current consensus and the current WP:BLP policy. There is no current consensus to allow an unspecified in size minority (one person? 10%? 49%?) override majority opinion on deletion of BLPs. Going from wording that a consensus (overwhelming majority) is required to delete to a consensus (overwhelming majority) is required to keep skips altogether the in-between position of majority decides on BLPs. But there is not even consensus to allow a 51% majority to delete on just any basis; but instead to restrict that basis to cases where the issue is one of marginal notability. WAS 4.250 (talk) 12:56, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
I agree, either there should be no action, or continued discussion until consensus is reached, there should definitely not be deletion if there is not a consensus for deletion. Judgesurreal777 (talk) 19:36, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
My 2c: "no consensus to act" should result in continued attempts to find a consensus. As to what state things should be left in in the meantime, I suppose it would be somehow the most neutral or stable version, so not necessarily no action (for example, a controversial edit or move might be undone, new wording might be introduced, etc.) But in the particular case of deletion, because of our policy of not just deleting pages but airbrushing them out of history, the interim action must be Keep, simply because that's the only way of enabling attempts to reach a consensus to continue (you can't discuss it if you can't see it).--Kotniski (talk) 18:47, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

Ah, with apologies I missed this and have done it already

Missed the above proposal. I've just implemented it. Sorry. To my mind, it isn't a proposal, it is simply making deletion procedure comply with this policy. I've just posted to WP:AN the following and had come here to drop a courtesy note:

I have edited Wikipedia:Deletion process, [21] and Wikipedia:Deletion guidelines for administrators, [22] to bring them into line with Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons. I appreciate these are contentious edits and that I am being bold, but neither of those are cause for instant reversion. Before reverting, I'd rather editors consider their reasons for doing so, and debate whether what they are doing is in tune with the policy on biographies. I've been inspired to do this by User:Doc glasgow. I'm not looking to step into his shoes, and frankly, I couldn't. I prevaricate too much and sit on the fence too often. But Doc's right, we need to start making changes around here regarding these articles, and this is the first step. Any editors who want to revert these changes should first of all read User:Doc glasgow/The BLP problem and User:Doc glasgow. We need to find a solution to this problem, and not agreeing on any of them is simply not an option. Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons quite clearly places the burden of evidence on those wishing to include material, and has done since it became policy in July 2006,[23] when it stated that In borderline cases, the rule of thumb should be "do no harm." Obviously all comments, thoughts and the like are welcome, but one way or another we need to address this issue.

Made a bit of a mess haven't I. Sorry. Hiding T 11:26, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

You may have cut the Gordian knot. I for one won't revert, but I think further editing could help improve the process and the wording. In some ways, that would make wholesale reversion less likely. Carcharoth (talk) 11:41, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

I see no consensus to change whether we honor consensus (or the lack thereof) in BLP-related deletions. My intention is to leave the change alone to see whether consensus is demonstrated. However, later on, I may revert the change. When there's no consensus to do something, then that something shouldn't be done, particularly something that can't be undone by any editor, like a deletion. --SSBohio 12:04, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

  • How would we determine consensus, if we all reverted each other until consensus was demonstrated? Hiding T 12:25, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
    • That's why we don't change policy descriptions without consensus for change. Oh, wait... Zocky | picture popups 10:43, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
      • I'm restoring. It's not appropriate to change policy while a discussion is ongoing. I don't see that any consensus has emerged at this point. Please be patient. Wikidemo (talk) 15:42, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

Administrators' discretion

You know... Instead of making this all "cut-n-dry", how about just making it an option?
In the case of any BLP AfD, the closing admin has the option of closing as No consensus, defaulting to keep, and also the option to instead, if they deem it appropriate based on the evidence, close as No consensus, defaulting to delete
Either closure is still open to a DRV nomination.
This seems clearer, cleaner, and less bureaucratic. - jc37 05:50, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
Hmm.. giving a bureaucrat more power, can that be less bureaucratic? Anyway, see my "My 2c" comment just above.--Kotniski (talk) 18:47, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
I didn't say anything about Bureaucrats. - jc37 19:01, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
They should still be some guidance to admins, otherwise every decision will be appealed. Also, I think closing any discussion early as no consensus is a very bad idea - SNOW is for cases of overwhelming consensus. --Tango (talk) 18:48, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
I didn't say anything about WP:SNOW, either. Or maybe I'm missing some shadow discussion here? : ) - jc37 19:01, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

Bureaucracy doesn't mean "red tape", it means "rule by officials". Giving more power to officials (i.e. admins) results in more bureaucracy, not less. Zocky | picture popups 10:45, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

the slippery slope of having a "distress" policy over and above a reliable source policy

Any "distress" policy that is over and above a reliable source policy is ultimately going to conflict with the reliable source policy. Something is going to satisfy the second policy and not the first. If this never happens then why have a distinct "distress" policy? Why not remove the "distressing" material by citing the RS policy (or NOTABLE or NPOV)? When it does happen, reliably sourced material will be rejected because it causes "distress". Now perhaps minimizing distress IS more important than informing. Fair enough, but let's recognize that the very existence of a distinct BLP policy necessarily anticipates the reversion of material that satisfies the RS policy.

As far as I'm concerned, if people can't handle reliably sourced material, that shouldn't be our problem. We are not here to hold anyone's hand. I understand Jimmy Wales' motivation for creating a chilling effect. He doesn't want the slightest possibility of being held accountable for libel (never mind that if everything in Wikipedia were reliably sourced, trying to sue Wikipedia would be shooting the messenger). But if Wales' concerns are going to be repeated in the policy as if his (real or imagined) concerns are NECESSARILY OUR concerns then it is time to launch a "Freepedia" that serves the interests of a community that wants to be informed without caveats instead of the owner's interests.

Reverters of "distressing" material have accused adders of a sense of "entitlement", yet the reverters clearly feel themselves just as entitled to keep Wikipedia "distress"-free. If anyone is entitled to anything, it should be be the readers.

For Wikipedia's purposes, not all "speech" is created equal. The speech or material of reliable experts is preferred. That discrimination serves the purposes of the encyclopedia. But creating a preference for non-distressing material does not serve encyclopedic purposes.

Can anyone name another encyclopedia that has something analogous to this BLP policy? Other encyclopedias are published by people who are hard-headed types who see their primary duty as being to inform when they are at work. The Wiki community, however, has a lot of people who believe "minimize distress to our fellow men" is one's duty because that's widely accepted as one's duty when conducting one's life. People naturally assume that what constitutes proper behaviour in their personal lives constitutes proper behaviour when editing an encyclopedia. That's an assumption that needs to be challenged (even if challenging it causes "distress"!)

If the BLP policy were logically consistent, it wouldn't be a BLP policy, it would be a MLP policy, whereby all Material that relates to living persons would be subject to it, whether inside a bio article or out. If someone who is part of an organization did something "controversial", if mention of that should not be allowed in his or her bio on the grounds it would cause "distress", should it not also be excluded from the article about the organization where notable actions of organization members are described? Why doesn't someone "distressed" by a non-BLP article have the same recourse as someone distressed by a BLP article? The elimination of all BLPs (or, in the alternative, a Wikipedia that describes some alternate reality where every human that walks the earth is an angel) is NOT the end of the slippery slope (one begins to slide down when the duty to inform may be trumped by the duty to "do no harm"), since after the BLPs are gone, the rest of Wikipedia will be on deck for suppression of "distressing" facts.

In my opinion, whatever the standard for reliable sourcing is, it should be applied universally, regardless of whether the content displeases people or not. But if the standard DOES change, it should at least be objective. Right now, the BLP policy essentially just says (implies?) that unless it satisfies some presumed higher standard than RS if material in a BLP offends the subject (in the eyes of the reverter) it should be "immediately" reverted and the reverter is not bound by rules like 3RR, rules that were created for the purpose of encouraging discussion instead of encouraging brute force. But it doesn't say what exactly that higher standard is, just that it is higher than "poor". But, again, if "poor" sources aren't allowed under the RS policy either, then why is there any need for a BLP policy at all?Bdell555 (talk) 19:41, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

I can only say that I agree that NPOV cannot be sacrificed to solve our BLP problems. I am all for stronger enforcement of NPOV on BLP articles as a solution, but I will not support any solution that damages NPOV. Frankly if an article is neutral, directly based on reliable independent sources, and accurate and the subject still does not like it then that is something we can just ignore.
Our goal is to make a neutral encyclopedia, we need to keep that in the forefront of any debate. The idea that an article causes "distress" to the subject should not be an issue we consider. What we should consider is if that distress is justifiably based on something we have done wrong based on our own project goals, the laws we are subject to, and the ethics we have agreed on as a community.
I have seen issues where someone would go out on the street with a sign and draw attention to himself, then go post pictures of himself on his own website and other to draw attention to his cause, then complain that his picture is shown in an article on Wikipedia. We need to accept that the subject of the article has a strong conflict of interest towards any content decision made with that article and use our own editorial judgment. (1 == 2)Until 19:47, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
Excellent point. I talked about BLP as over and above RS when I should have said over and above all other policies, which includes the vitally important NPOV every bit as much as RS. One cannot say that BLP corrects RS for POV because there is already a NPOV policy. If BLP does not overlap 100% with NPOV, then there will ultimately be conflicts between BLP and NPOV.Bdell555 (talk) 19:56, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
If there is such a conflict between policies, then NPOV must win. (1 == 2)Until 20:02, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes, and BLP's Venn diagram must accordingly be entirely within NPOV's, which renders a BLP policy redundant, in my view. The need to apply policies more aggressively to some articles than to others does not, in and of itself, create the need for a new policy..Bdell555 (talk) 20:07, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
Indeed, a change in how aggressively we enforce policies in different areas need only involve a change in attitude in those who enforce it. (1 == 2)Until 21:43, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
We've created a circumstance where (effectively) consensus is trumped by the mere claim of a BLP issue. For example, I tried to add information from, among other things, an AP article. I was told (by a well-respected editor) that these sources "are not acceptable sources for material of this seriousness about living individuals." In other words, because it's a BLP, the normal standards of sourcing don't apply.
Similarly, another editor told me that "we should write sympatyhetically about all living people as we are an encyclopedia not an attack site" and that we "need to be much more careful about Kim Jong-il bvecause he is living." We're not here to write sympathetic accounts of people's lives or to make the Dear Leader feel good about his biography. We're here to write an encyclopedia. What we write should be easily differentiated from the plot to a Lifetime movie of the week.
The primary effect of this policy that I've witnessed has been to provide cover for those seeking to delete negative information from a biography for whatever reason. Admins can do this in such a way that an ordinary editor cannot even see what's been deleted, much less restore it. Citing BLP lowers the bar for deletion and raises the bar for inclusion. We're not supposed to have two standards, especially when one has the effect of influencing the neutrality of an article. If anyone puts this page up for deletion, I'd strongly support such action. Let's write an encyclopedia instead of creating additional wiggle room for POV edits and their editors. --SSBohio 04:06, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
  • There's one vital point everyone seems to be missing, or maybe I've missed discussion of it. In the case of biographies of living people, the law is unclear. Libel is not determined by us or by the subject, it is determined by a court. Now it's all well and good to say we simply stick to what reliable sources tell us, but if that reliable source then gets sued for libel, we can be named in the same suit. As a community we have to face up to our legal responsibilities. We can't simply say that WP:NPOV is king, it isn't. The law of the land is king, and we as a community have to respect that. This means that we do actually have a responsibility and a duty to respond to people who have issues with their biographies, and we have to decide whether we are within the law. WP:NPOV and WP:V are useful tools for this, but WP:NOR is actually something of a hindrance, since it means we are relying on other writers to have respected the law. We need to work out a way forwards. We can't be 100% sure that what we add to a bio is actually sound, and summarising secondary sources (they said it first) is not a defence against libel. Hiding T 09:51, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
That's why you don't summarize secondary sources. You rather report what those sources say. Saying "Backwater Daily Rag reported that John Smith is a fraud" is not libel if the Daily Reg really reported that, even if John Smith isn't really a fraud. If the article said "John Smith is a fraud[1]", that would be a generic problem with sourcing and reporting, not a BLP issue. Zocky | picture popups 10:51, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
My understanding is that that doesn't cover you either, you're still spreading defamatory comments. What covers you is the rather bland "Backwater Daily Rag made allegations against John Smith regarding his business transactions." And per WP:NPOV you only do that if the allegations are not being given undue weight. So the default position really is add nothing. The only time you are safe to report the nature of the allegations is during and after a trial, since the legal record is established. Hiding T 10:58, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
Well, of course you have to report John Smith's denials, and tell the reader that the Daily Rag is not a paper of record. Or the whole matter may be insignificant enough to warrant inclusion in the article. But again, those are general matters. Lax reporting and potential for libel is not specific to articles that are named after a living person. All that BLP, or any statement about a living or recently dead person, should mean is that there are additional considerations to be taken into account when deciding what to do with articles, not that the format of decision making should be different. Zocky | picture popups 12:41, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes, but this all presumes that every bio is getting watched and that every editor acts responsibly. And what I am trying to point out is that, as you say, there are additional considerations to be taken into account when deciding what to do with articles. If you read this thread, a large number of editors appear to me to be asserting the absolute opposite. Which is why we have the current problems. If we can't agree upon the basic principles, drastic measures are needed, because of the reasons Doc raised in User:Doc glasgow/The BLP problem. Hiding T 13:02, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

People play the "distress" card on non-living subjects as well. I've been abused at great length by an IP who feels that we should not be reporting what historians have concluded about certain misdeeds of the Duke of Windsor, because he was once their King. --Orange Mike | Talk 13:01, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

  • Although that's an article that could do with sourcing. Hiding T 15:52, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

Question of interpretation

My comment relates to a statement in a previous section. I'm starting a new section to avoid taking the previous section in a different direction.

SSBohio wrote: "We've created a circumstance where (effectively) consensus is trumped by the mere claim of a BLP issue. For example, I tried to add information from, among other things, an AP article. I was told (by a well-respected editor) that these sources "are not acceptable sources for material of this seriousness about living individuals." In other words, because it's a BLP, the normal standards of sourcing don't apply."

SSBohio's reading of the statement of the well-respected editor is "normal standards of sourcing don't apply in a BLP."

I think this interpretation ignores the words "of this seriousness".

My interpretation is different. I'll give an example.

If, for example, the information under discussion was: "John Smith's middle name is George", the bar for the quality of the source can be set fairly low. Of course, we want to get it correct. But if the middle name isn't George, the consequences, as a practical matter, are unlikely to be serious.

If, on the other hand, the information under discussion was: "John Smith is a serial killer", the bar for the quality of the source must be set very high. Only an impeccable source will suffice. Probably more than one impeccable source is needed. If we don't get it right, the consequences are likely to be drastic.

IMO some of the above discussion, and discussion I have seen elsewhere, exaggerates the possible negative effects of having a BLP policy. I think a more moderate approach would allow a more useful discussion. Wanderer57 (talk) 16:01, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

I don't think the question of sources is the main issue in this discussion. Unsourced negative statements about people are removed anyway. This discussion is about what to do about the large number of borderline-notability BLP articles which, though they might not contain unsourced negative statements to start with, are going to be left lying around unwatched, and possibly therefore have such statements added to them. The main proposal is to effectively raise the standard of notability in order to delete larger numbers of articles; an alternative proposal (which relatively few people have responded to, probably because no-one reads down this far) is to semi-protect them. --Kotniski (talk) 16:16, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
Where's that one proposed? I'd support that. What you're saying is that where there is no consensus to delete a BLP, we should semi-protect it? Is it possible to semi-protect all new articles for a month? Would that help? Just thinking out loud. Hiding T 17:17, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
To clarify the situation I alluded to, the AP article reported on a man's conviction and sentencing on multiple felony counts for activities for which the article subject is notable. The conviction and sentence are indisputable, and the article subject was the victim of this man's criminal acts. There is no controversy over whether the conviction & sentencing occured. Citing the AP as a source isn't controversial.
As for semi-protection of BLP articles, I could support that instead of the current BLP policy, since it's open to abuse in a way that semiprotection wouldn't be. This will restore editors to the same level playing field, except for anonymous or new editors, which seems a reasonable compromise. --SSBohio 19:18, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

Public domain

Are there any examples of verifiable information which is available in the "public domain", which is not allowed in an article? - jc37 03:54, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Sure. Phone numbers, addresses. What's the point? JoshuaZ (talk) 03:56, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
I was actually looking to see if we could assemble a list (or if such a list exists somewhere). - jc37 03:57, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
Use common sense. Certain information is obviously private and adds nothing to Wikipedia articles. JoshuaZ (talk) 03:58, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for your opinion (which of course is valid), but it still doesn't help assemble a list of demographic information (for example) which is or isn't allowable in an article. - jc37 04:05, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
I don't see why this is necessary unless you have a specific question. We don't need policy for every single thing. It simply makes us more rigid and less able to function by consensus. But if I had to make a starting list, phone numbers, addresses, names of relatives unless they are somehow relevant (especially the case for names of young children that aren't sourced in many sources). JoshuaZ (talk) 04:15, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
The article Public Domain deals with "intellectual property", eg, original works of art, literature, music, trade secrets, patentable processes, things in that line. How do phone numbers, addresses, names of relatives, etc fit into the category? Wanderer57 (talk) 15:08, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
I don't think that's what Jc meant. I think he meant by public domain information which is easily accessible (incidentally, phone numbers are in some sense in the public domain in the legal sense as well since facts aren't copyrightable). JoshuaZ (talk) 15:45, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

For politicians or "Office holders", is it appropriate to put their public domain "official" contact details in an article about them? They often have an email address or postal address for the people they represent to contact them, which could be marked up in the hCard microformat. (Anonymous) 21:34, 25 April 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Better to put their official website in the external links section. They will update that. We might not update the article. Carcharoth (talk) 09:50, 26 April 2008 (UTC)
The "Office Holder" Infobox already has a field for "official website", so I was wondering whether that should be supplemented with "official email address". I believe there would be no privacy issues with doing this. 13:22, 26 April 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)