Wikipedia talk:Biographies of living persons/Archive 26

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Concerns

I'm concerned about Maurreen's actions on this page, particularly this edit saying that badlydrawnjeff is outdated. The decision is at Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Badlydrawnjeff, and so far as I can tell it's entirely non-controversial and still reflected in the policy.

Can someone point out which part of it is outdated, with diffs to discussions or policy changes, here or elsewhere, that would support such an interpretation? SlimVirgin talk contribs 22:47, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

I agree that that's very strange. I have marked them with "dubious" tags that link to this section. Hans Adler 23:18, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Removed; they're really for mainspace, and give an unhelpful impression. A broad support for inclusion's absent at present. The content's being discussed above; we can continue that. –Whitehorse1 00:09, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
Most of the people posting about it here have asked that they be included in See also as a compromise. There's no reason to remove them so long as we're including essays that have no force whatsoever, and guidelines that have arguably less force than ArbCom decisions. Admins are governed in their actions by the ArbCom and the policies, and many of the issues in the ArbCom decisions are addressed to admins, so we need to include them. SlimVirgin talk contribs 00:47, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
SV, I don't see "Most of the people posting about it here have asked that they be included in See also as a compromise."
About "There's no reason" -- We've given you reasons; you apparently don't like those reasons.
I'll try to be more clear. By including the links as you did, you imply that the decisions are supported by consensus, or at least that they are not controversial. Maurreen (talk) 01:32, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

These things shouldn't be decided by numbers alone, but for the record, five or six agree to have them added to See also: Gigs, MZMcBride, Jayjg, Wikidemon, I believe Hans Adler, and SlimVirgin. Three disagree that I can see: Maurreen, Father Goose, and Whitehorse1.

As for the argument, as I've said several times, we link to essays for which no attempt has been made to gain consensus. Therefore, the issue of consensus is not a pivotal one. The point is whether the ArbCom decision are important processes, and they clearly are. SlimVirgin talk contribs 01:42, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

Also, Maurreen, I asked you above for links to discussions that show badlydrawnjeff is outdated, per your edit. I'd appreciate if you could supply those. SlimVirgin talk contribs 01:46, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
No, above you asked, "Can someone point out which part of it is outdated ..."
I'd appreciate if you would answer the the question I asked you. Maurreen (talk) 01:52, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
Maurreen, you made an edit to a policy page calling an ArbCom decision "outdated." I'm asking for your source, your reason to have used that word. You can't just add your own opinion about these issues. The badlydrawnjeff decision was entirely uncontroversial. It reflected this policy at the time, and the policy continues to reflect the decision. No one else has made that edit, just you. The onus is therefore on you to show us which discussions suggest it is outdated. SlimVirgin talk contribs 01:56, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
For one thing, did you notice that it's been removed from the page? Maurreen (talk) 02:00, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes, but there is consensus to retain it, so it will likely be restored. If your "outdated" edit is to be retained, we need some evidence that it really is outdated. SlimVirgin talk contribs 02:02, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
There is no consensus to have the links on the page. You missed Jogurney's opposition. Wikidemon supported the compromise with the contextual notes, which is what you challenged. Gigs did not ask that the links be included, but is apparently going along. It appears that Gigs would also at least go along with removing the links.
Also, you paid no attention to the numbers when they were 4-2 against you. Maurreen (talk) 02:10, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
By the way, trying to tell people what they can and can't do is not an effective method of persuasion. Maurreen (talk) 02:16, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
I wanted to clarify that I opposed SV's suggestion that there was a BLP policy which endorses summary deletion for the sole reason of lack of sourcing. I don't strongly support the inclusion of the links to the Arbcom decisions in the See also section, but it seems like a reasonable compromise (especially with contextual notes). Jogurney (talk) 03:13, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
I don't favor including the links. I would go along with either outcome. This isn't a vote, anyway. My specific position is that I objected to including the links and quotations in the body of the policy because that seems to change the policy in a way that does not reflect consensus. I have no objection if the links are included with others as part of a compendium of ArbCom cases on the subject, in such a way that the policy does not endorse ArbCom's statements or encourage the notion that they are policy. The two contextual notes achieved that result although they were worded inelegantly. We could achieve a similar result without criticizing ArbCom or trying to reach agreement on the effect of the decisions, with a more general statement just below a heading saying that the links are included for informational purposes and not to add further to the policy. If we do have such a list, it would be an omission to leave off two ArbCom actions simply because some (including me) disagree in part with them. We can just note that these cases happened. - Wikidemon (talk) 06:03, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

In one sentence, can someone summarize what the "controversy" is here? We're discussing two extra links, right? With this level of debate, I feel like I must be missing something larger that would require so much dialogue and debate.... --MZMcBride (talk) 02:15, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

I still haven't dug through the entire page history, but edits like this are borderline trolling. This needs to stop. --MZMcBride (talk) 02:18, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

MZ, the debate is whether to include links in the policy to relevant ArbCom decisions. My own preference is to include them in the text where appropriate. That wasn't agreed to, so a compromise was to have them in their own section, along with the Foundation resolution, as in this version.
That wasn't agreed to either, so as a further compromise I suggested they be moved into the See also section, where we link to lots of policies, guidelines, and even essays, as in this version. Five or six people have agreed to that; three disagreed. Maurreen then added that the ArbCom decisions were outdated or disputed, [1] Hans Adler added the dubious tag to her edit, [2] then Whitehorse1 removed the links entirely from the See also section. [3] That's where things now stand. SlimVirgin talk contribs 02:29, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
I'd say the amount of controversy over these links stems from the fact that ArbCom's seeming position (embodied by the linked-to pages) is at least partly out of sync with the community's position (embodied by the policy as a whole as well as the recent WP:BLPRFC).
Being ArbCom, their decisions hold a lot of weight. But how much weight do we accord their decisions when they aren't a faithful interpretation of policy, as the community sees it? If they say something other than what the policy says, should the policy link to their statements at all?
Honestly, I still don't know what the right approach here is. And you have to assume more good faith toward others trying to reconcile these issues -- if there's anything that needs to stop, it's accusing others of trolling. Totally uncalled for.--Father Goose (talk) 05:33, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
I think what is needed is for people who have experience in editing policies, and in dealing with BLP issues, to become more involved again. The problem is that the recent discussions, at least some of which did look like filibustering, have driven a lot of people away, and some of the arguments on this page and edits to the policy have been unacceptable. It nearly drove me away too, and I'm someone who has been very committed to BLP issues over the years. Hopefully things will soon settle down again.
As for ArbCom, I'm still waiting for someone to show me a discussion that suggests badlydrawnjeff is outdated. SlimVirgin talk contribs 05:52, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
Your repeated assertion that no one except you and some mythical cabal that no longer edits the policy are the only people that "understand BLP issues" is insulting and borders on ownership. Gigs (talk) 12:09, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
re SlimVirgin @ 00:47:
Most of the people posting here have objected to their inclusion. If I read you correctly you're saying they asked that they be included, that it is at their request, which wasn't readily apparent. Incidentally, I do not see that to devote an entire toplevel section to them is a compromise, as you say in one comment. There's no reason to include them whatsoever; at least none has been brought forward.
The degree of force other documents have isn't why we include or exclude them. In my earlier comment I explained how and when referencing other pages can be advantageous. An essay or guideline doesn't gain status or strength of policy by association or being linked in policy. Any number of ArbCom decisions involve factors that fall within the area of focus a policy or guideline has. That doesn't mean they should be mentioned in the policy/guideline page. The project's basis is the consensus model, however no-one's clamoring to add this to the Consensus policy or any other given decision.
The natural tendency to adopt a compromise through desire to seem reasonable and magnanimous is a pitfall. Yes, sometimes adopting a moderate or middle position will resolve a matter to the satisfaction of all participants. When done for its own sake, however, the risk is loss of perspicuity. The intended audience must be foremost when we determine what to include, and what to omit. They should be included if necessary, not problematic, and of particular benefit. I'd like for you to consider my earlier comments in the section above. Thanks. –Whitehorse1 15:51, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

Some more thoughts

I'm disturbed by some of the editing I'm seeing here. BLP consciousness has been a process of evolution on Wikipedia, not revolution, with more editors realizing every year how unwelcome bad BLP editing is. It can badly affect the lives of the subjects, as anyone who's had to deal with an urgent BLP issue knows. It could also affect the lives of the Wikipedians who make the edits, because we could each of us be sued individually, and it has the potential to close down the project if someone were to win a big lawsuit. Part of the evolution of that consciousness was this policy in 2005, which has been developed and strengthened over the years, and has come to be accepted by all experienced editors and admins, the ArbCom, and the Wikimedia Foundation.

Because this had been an evolutionary process, I was concerned when I saw the mass deletions, and I largely kept away from the ArbCom request and RfC for that reason. What that process triggered was an alliance of opponents who would otherwise have had little to do with one another. Some are people who don't like deletion on principle, or who oppose out-of-process admin actions, and those are entirely respectable reasons. Others again just didn't like the people who were involved. And then there are the ones who enjoy filibustering and nitpicking.

If the development of BLP policy falls into the hands of the filibusterers, it will be killed stone dead. Everyone who edits this or any other BLP-related page has to imagine that Wikipedia might tomorrow host an article about someone they love, someone who can't afford a fancy lawyer when the tone of the article heads south. It really isn't an exaggeration to say that this policy exists to protect you and your family. So I hope everyone watching this page will do what they can to protect the spirit of the policy, and will respect the several years of thought and experience that have gone into it. SlimVirgin talk contribs 05:29, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

This isn't a question of filibustering. There's no question that BLP will be upheld in the cases where it absolutely has to be -- through office/foundation action, if need be.
The question more broadly is how much diligence we need to exercise toward BLPs, in what manner, and how urgently. Unless the Foundation dictates these details, the community has to decide amongst itself. And the answer depends a lot on what resources we have at our disposal.
Accusations of filibustering have a tendency to disrupt discussion every bit as much as actual filibustering does. All of us commenting here are in broad agreement about the general principles. But there are many, many devils in the details. You're very, very experienced with policy work. Please don't jump to extremes in the face of disagreement. Have more faith -- in the process, in the community, and in the individuals with whom you have the disagreement.--Father Goose (talk) 05:54, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
When I saw the extreme positions emerging during the deletions, I stayed away, because I could see which way it was heading. And I know that not all discussion, even when protracted, can fairly be described as filibustering and nitpicking. But sometimes it can be, and I'm using the terms advisedly, FG. It isn't always deliberate. It's just a love of process and detail over substance, and it drives reasonable people away, leaving no one experienced to engage in debate with. And that's what kills things. It's annoying enough when the processes are well understood, but it's intolerable when they're not.
My hope is that we won't allow that kind of thing to develop around BLP issues, and if it has already that we put a stop to it. SlimVirgin talk contribs 06:04, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
Can we stick to the issues and not interpretations of motives? Maurreen (talk) 06:09, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
And denigrating people just because they disagree with you? Maurreen (talk) 06:12, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
I don't think anyone could reasonably argue that we're not sticking to the issues when we discuss how experienced editors feel (rightly or wrongly) that they've been filbustered to death—so that they barely want to get involved in BLP problems now. Bad discussion drives sensible people away, but sensible people are needed to make good policy. That is an issue. SlimVirgin talk contribs 06:17, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
Your comments in this section are interpretation at best. None of it is helpful. Maurreen (talk) 06:22, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
What is your point with this part, anyway? What are you trying to accomplish with this section? Maurreen (talk) 06:23, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
And your comments about filibustering don't hold water. Earlier in the discussion, when the opinion was more against you -- you could have moved on. Maurreen (talk) 06:34, 30 March 2010 (UTC) Nevermind, I'll take my own advice. Maurreen (talk) 06:56, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
SV, you shouldn't interpret disagreement, protracted or otherwise, as filibustering or "bad discussion". Nor should you assume that the new faces who are part of this debate are inexperienced just because you haven't kept up with them. And even those who are inexperienced have a right to have their views heard and to be part of the process.
Perhaps you're yearning for a time when the consensus forged over this policy was more in tune with your views overall. Well, shit happens. I too have seen the site, and the community, change in ways I don't like. There's more and more politics; more people trying to "run the site" (and succeeding); and while the encyclopedia gets a little better year-to-year, it's a less fun place to work, unless you happen to be one of the people running it. In a decade or two, we'll probably have succeeded at most of our encyclopedic mission, but also devolved into a project of nitpicking and navel-gazing (we're already halfway there). For those of us who are trying to keep the fire alive, don't bawl us out because the fire is dimmer than the last time you saw it. It frustrates us too, but we're not as prepared to criticize our colleagues because of a loss of collegial spirit, or because things have changed in a way we don't like.--Father Goose (talk) 14:13, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
SV, I think I understand your concern. You have done good work in updating the policy page, and I would have never voiced any opposition to your edits except when I read the comments about summary deletion. Perhaps I am misunderstanding policy, but I have no intention of filibustering your changes. I truly believe your view of per se contentiousness for lack of sourcing to be the incorrect reading of policy and consensus. I'll happily concede if you can explain why I'm wrong. Jogurney (talk) 13:58, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
I wasn't referring to your posts, Jogurney, or to protracted discussion in itself, FG. I was thinking of BLP input that goes beyond this page. There's been a recent spate of no issue being too minor to focus on, and it has affected morale across a number of pages related to BLP. My point was simply that it makes no sense to drive experienced editors away from policy discussions. Perhaps if we all try to keep things focused and constructive, the atmosphere will improve. On that note, hopefully no more needs to be said about it. :) SlimVirgin talk contribs 20:23, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

What's the definition of "News Organizatiion"

As in "Avoid self-published sources" - "Where a "news organization" publishes an opinion piece but claims no responsibility it (sic), the writer of the cited piece should be attributed (e.g., "Jane Smith has suggested...")".Momento (talk) 04:12, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

We haven't defined it in any of the policies, because any definition could exclude something that would otherwise be fine, or include something that wouldn't be. :) SlimVirgin TALK contribs 04:33, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
So an undefined organisation on the internet can publish an opinion piece that it accepts no responsibility for and an editor can insert the opinion in a BLP as long as the writer of the cited piece is attributed. Is that what you mean?Momento (talk) 06:49, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
They could in theory, but then it would likely be reverted by other editors. Keep in mind that BLP is an exclusion principle, a reason that some content should be excluded from the encyclopedia. It doesn't say that content that passes through the BLP filter must be included, but only that content that failes BLP should be excluded. It's just one rule and there are many others. Relevant policies and guidelines there might include WP:WEIGHT (giving undue weight to just one person's opinion), WP:NPOV (the opinion biases the article), WP:RS, WP:COATRACK, and so on. Some people (including me) think that in order to list a person's opinion there should be a third party reliable source to say that the person holds it, and that it's relevant to the article subject... That's a lot better than us deciding as Wikipedians what is worth repeating and what is not. I call this the "Chomsky effect". You know, Noam Chomsky is a very famous person and he has a lot of negative opinions about a lot of notable people. We can't add them all to the encyclopedia or we would have 10,000 Chomsky references here. There are famous conservatives, and apolitical people too. Unless the opinion is widely reported there's no particular reason to include it, and even if it is it may have no encyclopedic purpose (e.g. a discussion currently talking place on Jimbo's talk page right now about what Paris Hilton called Carrie Prejean). Not everyone agrees. Also, some people think that material excluded for non-BLP reasons like NPOV becomes a BLP issue when it's about a living person. That's kind of moot because it could be excluded on either grounds, and it's simpler just to say that it's not appropriate for the encyclopedia, BLP or otherwise. Plus, even if material passes through all these filters, people still have to agree on including it via the WP:CONSENSUS process. We don't print every fact that can be sourced, only the ones that editors here agree are helpful to readers in understanding the subject of the article. I hope that makes sense. - Wikidemon (talk) 18:19, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Momento, I'd have to see the example to be able to give a proper response, but generally the source would have to be reliable, whether you call it a news organization or something else, and if it's a BLP we'd expect it to be a higher-quality reliable source, not one that just scrapes in. SlimVirgin talk contribs 19:32, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
I'd hoped that someone would have pursued this issue but apparently not. Surely an "opinion piece" that even the "news organisation" that publishes it takes "no responsibility for" should not be inserted into a BLP. Wikidemon's suggestion that it "could be (inserted) in theory but then would likely be reverted by other editors" is an argument for no Wiki policies at all! SV's suggestion that they would "have to see the example to be able to give a proper response" suggests that BLP policy is now determined by individual editors. How can a source (whether we call it a news organisation or a racist, homophobic rag) be considered "reliable" when even they deny any responsibility for the opinions they publish? The sentence should be removed.Momento (talk) 07:20, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm not clear what you're asking, then. Opinion pieces (editorials, op-eds, essays, and the like) are for the most part not reliable sources, no matter who publishes them. So if we want to source that X is true, we need to find a reliable source that asserts it as a fact, not somebody's opinion. The passage quoted at the top says that in cases where we can use a statement from an opinion piece, we can do so only to verify that the the statement was made there, not that it is true. Is that what you're asking? I agree that this could be clarified, but it gets to an issue that I don't think people have agreed on or even discussed much. When is it okay if ever to even mention in a BLP context what someone's opinion is, if sourced only to the publication of that opinion? - Wikidemon (talk) 08:01, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm asking "How can a source (whether we call it a news organisation or a racist, homophobic rag) be considered "reliable" when even they deny any responsibility for the opinions they publish?"Momento (talk) 08:39, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Assuming you're correct that this is "an issue that I don't think people have agreed on or even discussed much", I'm removing it until it is.Momento (talk)
I've never liked that sentence much. Some people to read it as enabling the use of opinion pieces in BLPs as long as we include an attribution. But by definition opinions are not reliable sources, right? I'm fine if it just stays out. But somewhere, whether here or in RS, it would be good to say that except in limited uncontroversial cases, we should not source the fact that a person has voiced an opinion to the person's own publication of their opinion. That may verify that the person in fact said it, but without the weight of a third-party reliable source we don't know if it's noteworthy enough to report, or even how the person meant it. - Wikidemon (talk) 21:38, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Correct. A BLP should deal in facts not opinions. Mr X's unsupported opinion that Mr Y is a jerk should not appear in Mr. Y's BLP. But Mr.X's BLP might contain the fact that Mr.X said "Mr.Y is a jerk" subject to all other Wiki policies and guidelines.Momento (talk) 21:49, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
WP:NPOV says that articles should include all significant points of view. Inevitably, many of those points of view will be opinions and some will be expressed in opinion pieces. If the POV is significant, and if the publication is a reliable source for the opinion, then there is not a problem with including it.   Will Beback  talk  22:10, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
The key word is "significant". If a POV is significant it should have made its way from "an unsupported 'opinion piece' by a single writer published by a 'news organization' that claims "no responsibility for it" to a wide spread POV published by numerous reputable news organisations that do take responsibility for it. In which case a news organisation might quote someone's opinion as indicative of the significant POV subject to all other Wiki policies and guidelines.Momento (talk) 22:41, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Many Op-Ed pieces are written by notable people. Their opinions are not self-published when printed in a mainstream newspaper. The text that you deleted just says that when we include something that is explicitly an opinion it should be attributed. I think that was helpful and I'm inclined to restore it.   Will Beback  talk  22:47, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
The point Wikidemon and I were discussing has nothing to do with NPOV, notable people or whether the piece is self published or not. The point is that the sentence in question undermines the sentence that precedes it - "Some news organizations host online 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". The sentence in question can be read as enabling the use of opinion piece that the news organisation accepts no responsibility for as long as we include an attribution. You're welcome to write a clearer version.Momento (talk) 23:25, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
That text was copied over from WP:V a year ago.[4] I think that text is not intended to cover Op-Eds specifically, but rather cases where a journalist is quoting someone. So if a news article says, "Next we talked to music professor Jane Smith, who said, 'Atonality was invented by Martians'" then we should not remove that attribution by stating flatly that "Martians are the inventors of atonal music". Instead, we should repeat the original attribution and say something like, "A music professor at IAU has said that Martians are the inventors of atonal music".
I don't know that we need to repeat this concept in WP:BLP since it's already in WP:V. In fact, the entire block of text might be deleted as redundant with WP:V.   Will Beback  talk  23:56, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Agree and agree.Momento (talk) 03:24, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
Momento, I'm not seeing how the sentence—"Some news organizations host online 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"—implies that opinion pieces for which the newspaper accepts no responsibility (and what would that even be?) is okay. SlimVirgin talk contribs 01:27, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
It doesn't. The first sentence is clear but the second sentence is misleading. The first sentence suggests that news organisation blogs "may be acceptable as sources" subject to the qualifier "that it is under full editorial control". The second gives the example of a piece for which the news organisation takes no responsibility (chooses not to exert editorial control) but gives no qualifier for its use other than "the writer should be attributed".Momento (talk) 03:44, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
Sorry I don't know which sentence you're referring to as the second sentence. SlimVirgin talk contribs 03:52, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
As above, the first sentence is the one that precedes the second sentence which I removed. So the first sentence is - "Some news organizations host online 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". And the second sentence is the one that comes next - "Where a news organization publishes an opinion piece but claims no responsibility it, the writer of the cited piece should be attributed (e.g., "Jane Smith has suggested...")"Momento (talk) 04:06, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
Oh I see, sorry. You're right, I've never understood that sentence either. I retained it in the recent copy edit because I assumed it had been agreed somewhere, but I don't agree with it. Newspapers are responsible for the opinion pieces they publish. SlimVirgin talk contribs 04:09, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

Contentious

Jogurney, I'm opening a new section to discuss your point because our posts are getting lost in the other sections, and it's an interesting point.

What is "contentious"?

The policy position (based on WP:V and WP:NOR) is that everything in WP articles must be attributable to a reliable published source. By attributable (or verifiable), we mean that a source must exist for it somewhere. If it is not attributable—if no source exists—it is original research.

But not everything must actually be attributed; that is, we needn't actually supply a source for everything. That Paris is the capital of France needs no attribution, because no one will reasonably challenge it, and because we know there are a multitude of sources out there to confirm it if we need them.

So what does need attribution? It has been the case on Wikipedia for years that if something is reasonably challenged, or is the kind of thing that might be reasonably challenged, it becomes by definition contentious and needs a source. The expression used in the sourcing policy (WP:V) is "everything challenged or likely to be challenged" needs a source. Without a source it can be removed, and in the case of BLPs should be removed immediately.

Unsourced BLPs

How does this policy translate into action in the case of unsourced BLPs? A BLP that looks very positive for the subject—"Jogurney is an English computer salesman who came to public attention on March 30, 2010 when he rescued three children from a burning building in south London"—could nevertheless prove highly contentious for Jogurney, who at the time of the fire was visiting his lover in London after telling his wife he was on business in Hull. We therefore need to know immediately that we're not the only people publishing this. The question then becomes: how long should an admin spend checking google before deleting the page? In my opinion, it shouldn't be more than a couple of minutes—if it's not immediately apparent that this is a legitimate story, the page needs to go so that we don't become the first publishers of Jogurney's unfortunate predicament.

When do deletions become mass deletions?

I'm pretty sure no one on this page would disagree with the above. But at what point do these deletions become "mass deletions," and therefore unacceptable? After I've done it 10 times or 20 times—in one day, one week, one month? Whether we're deleting one or 1,000, it's the same principle that's in operation—that we must not risk becoming first publishers about real people's lives. The opposition to mass deletion has missed that vital point: that what looks bad when done many times is actually standard practice and policy-compliant. SlimVirgin talk contribs 21:06, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

Interesting question about mass deletions. I think you know it when you see it. Someone who's online ten hours a day and doing lots of productive work could easily delete poorly sourced or unsourced contentious material from 20-30 articles as part of their rounds. If they do it thoughtfully I don't see the problem. The issue is when someone goes out on a limb and begins doing a bunch of similar edits that are controversial, sloppy, inaccurate, over other people's opposition, using unauthorized automated tools, not supported by the general consensus about what policy and guidelines mean (procedurally or substantively), or in some other problematic programmatic way. I think there's a problem with any mass edits under these circumstances, even ones that improve the encyclopedia. There's a particular problem with deletions, deletion nominations, tagging, moving, and so on that go on at a pace that's faster than other editors' ability to keep up. If I go to a single article and delete a section with an edit summary "unsourced", maybe that's a little over the line and I should have explained why it is contentious, but who cares? I, or someone else, can review what was deleted and add sources. No problem and the encyclopedia gets better. But if I spend 20 seconds each deleting sections from 100 articles, particularly ones that are all in a singe subject area because I'm going down a list - say, deleting the discographies of all Bulgarian folk singers with names starting from A to E, now I've left a hole in the encyclopedia that will require editors to spend a few days following me around to clean up the mess. It's really the behavior, attitude, and approach, not the number of edits. - Wikidemon (talk) 21:34, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
My concern is that the deleter of material that is only contentious because it has not yet been sourced make some effort to determine whether it is verifiable before deleting. As you suggested, this need not be a huge undertaking (if sources are not readily available, the subject is unlikely to be notable anyway). However, I remember an article about a Thai person that was proposed for deletion simply because someone plugged the name into a google search without realizing that the article's author had used a transliteration that wasn't commonly used by English sources. When the common English name was used, there were numerous sources and it was obvious that the material was verifiable and the subject notable. One can always argue that the article could always be re-created and no harm is done by inadvertant deletion, but I think we risk turning off new editors with such an approach.
I also agree with Wikidemon's comments above. If someone is making large numbers of edits in a short period of time it suggests they might not be exercising much care in deleting material that might be verifiable. I've proposed hundreds of articles for deletion by now (and made a few mistakes in the process), but I try to spend a few minutes determining whether the information is verifiable (and the subject notable) before proposing. Using the PROD process also allows interested editors a week to correct me if I'm wrong. Summary deletion doesn't provide a grace period and should be used with more caution. Jogurney (talk) 21:50, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
Following on from Wikidemon's point, I think this is right: the issue oftens boils down to speed and attitude. We saw the same thing with date linking. A lot of people really disliked date linking when there was no relevance to the article—as in March 30, 2010—but whenever there was a mass delinking with bots, there would be uproar, as though we were killing all the first-born. I suppose it's because it looks like bullying—doing it with bots or using admin tools out-of-process means other editors feel overridden.

Sticky prod subhead

What saddens me is that the issue of speed and attitude has gotten mixed up with the fundamental issue that unsourced BLP really are very problematic, even if they don't in themselves look contentious. That confusion has left admins unsure when it's okay to delete, and it has caused people not even to want to link to uncontroversial ArbCom decisions on this page. It would be great if we could find a way to retrieve the baby from the bathwater.
By the way, does anyone know whether something came of the BLP prod issue? I'd like to add something about it to the policy, but several inquiries I've made about its status have left me none the wiser. SlimVirgin talk contribs 22:16, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
As I heard the sticky prod is stuck in discussion. Off2riorob (talk) 23:00, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
No, it's done, it's live, it's ready to go. It's only for new articles, though, since there is no consensus for for any mass or summary deletion of existing unsourced BLPs, despite assertions to the contrary by a couple people. It should be added to twinkle soon. Gigs (talk) 00:09, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, I remember now, the sticky bit is that there is no agreement to attach it to the mass of current uncited BLP articles, have you got a link to the final discussions and details? Off2riorob (talk) 00:12, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
The question never was whether to put it on existing BLPs. That was settled by the RfC and the answer was a "no", not as long as the backlog is falling through normal efforts. The discussion as such have not been about that at all. Discussion is at WP:BLPPROD. Gigs (talk) 00:28, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
Last I heard was when I asked Risker about concerns raised of involvement. I haven't yet heard back as yet. –Whitehorse1 00:18, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
Looks like a race is on between flagged revisions and the sticky prod, who will arrive first, haha. thanks. Off2riorob (talk) 00:25, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
Where can I find the consensus description of the sticky prod, so we can add it to the policy? SlimVirgin talk contribs 00:40, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
Hold on – with such raised involvement concerns unresolved and at hand how is doing that possible? –Whitehorse1 01:07, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
Added 02:57, 31 March 2010 (UTC): This was in reply to the go-sticky prod comments (SlimV's) above. Is the "RfC closure" header subsequently added supposed to indicate it's irrelevant to the add sticky prod question? Geez. I'm going to bed. :-| Whitehorse1 02:57, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
My apologies. I couldn't see how it was connected to the sticky prod issue. By all means rejoin it or elaborate. SlimVirgin talk contribs
Rejoined. Hopefully the links/discussions will have brought you up to speed. Thanks. –Whitehorse1 09:26, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Whitehorse1 -- The RFC was reclosed soon after. The result is pretty well accepted by most people on both sides. Maurreen (talk) 01:17, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Actually, the close banner (diplomatic though it is) expressly talks of involvement which as a state of affairs just ... leaves me open mouthed. –Whitehorse1 01:23, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
There might be flaws. But I think the closing, at least of Phase II, was done in good faith and with good reasoning. What's done is done.
If you have any question, maybe I can help.
But I think it would be best all around if we (all around) moved on -- such as Gigs suggested below, with the sticky prods of new articles, and the sourcing of old article ... or to whatever interested us before this mess began. Maurreen (talk) 02:20, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
I'd be more than happy to discuss whatever concerns you may have about my role in the closure, or other issues, to the extent that I can answer them. Either my talk page or Wikipedia talk:Requests for comment/Biographies of living people would be suitable places for that conversation.--Father Goose (talk) 02:58, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
Discussing stuff like whether it may well be your closure did attempt to make the best of an uneasy situation, and the converse be as it may there's a phrase one can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear, doesn't address the issue in question. The unresolved issue is whether the closer (Risker) was wp:involved. The concern was raised at the most appropriate page onsite, the page you refer to, as my earlier comment linking to it already shows. –Whitehorse1 09:26, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
Are people saying that editors who took part in the RfCs closed them? SlimVirgin talk contribs 03:01, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
Read the text of my closure for some information on the "involvement" issue. As far as I can tell, the closure was accepted by everybody -- issues of limited involvement notwithstanding. Given how many people got involved in "the great BLP debate", it was going to be hard to find someone who had no involvement whatsoever but nonetheless understood the issues and followed the debate closely enough to be able to close it knowledgeably.--Father Goose (talk) 03:40, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
(interject) Okay. Leaving all the rest of things like a markedly optimistic roundup of closure acceptance along with other other elements that, regardless, don't address the matter at hand, your proclamation of limited involvement begs the question. –Whitehorse1 09:26, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
Okay, many thanks, looks good. SlimVirgin talk contribs 03:51, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
Unfortunately, FG's statement gives a somewhat lacking picture. Please see my earlier-linked comment (linked from word "raised"), for a more clear understanding. –Whitehorse1 09:26, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

The point?

SV, do you have in mind to strengthen anything about summary deletions? Maurreen (talk) 21:10, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

I'm puzzled, so I'm going to ask a question. SlimVirgin, you say you "largely kept away from the ArbCom request and RfC" (05:29), which is your prerogative. Why are you now (it seems) having the debate anew, arguing what you say are the genuine true details of the matter and the discussion(s) by contrast were a mass of misconception? –Whitehorse1 00:12, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

I stayed away because I could see it was going to have the effect that it did have. Now that it's over it's time to start trying to mend things, so that all sides can focus on what they agree on, not what separates them. SlimVirgin talk contribs 00:38, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
That doesn't really answer my question. –Whitehorse1 00:56, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
You asked why I was debating this, and I explained why. Not sure what else I can say. :) My purpose is to help get us back on track, I suppose, after what was a lot of community upheaval about BLP that seems to have led to very little, if anything, except a lot of animosity. SlimVirgin talk contribs 01:00, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
I did, yes. The first part of your reply was really about why you stayed away, which as I said's totally your prerogative. All volunteers after all. The last part came across more, uhm, as just soothing words.
Maybe it'll be helpful if I explain where I'm coming from: In the original discussions you didn't participate; doubtless a whole lot've people probably wouldn't blame you. In the threads on here, you've said something like the deletions were completely within policy (this one), and it was just the greater number within a short period was unexpected for people that's all.
That's left me confused because those who were brought to ArbCom regarding the deletions, were people who'd been admins for a number of years - some had been parties in past Arb cases where bio's of living people were a central component; yet, said more than once they'd expected to be desysopped for it, afterward saying their actions came within the Ignore all Rules policy and the Arb committee motion talked of Ignore all Rules, too. If it was completely within BLP policy, as you say, why would they need to "Ignore all Rules" or believe they'd even be desysopped for it?
The things you've said were strikingly different to what was said in the discussions. No doubt some participants may've been newer or less experienced and didn't grasp the policies on articles on living people, yet surely not all participants including longtime admin signatories to that related petition and those originally deleting. In your comments here you've said you, by contrast (to them), present the true facts of the matter, that the deletions were ordinarily within this policy. Now maybe that's true, but it's quite an assertion. You can at least see why I'm confused? –Whitehorse1 02:39, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
There were lots of different views, WH. Some people did argue that what they did was within policy. It was the speed issue that cast a different light on it. It's within policy for me to block disruptive editors, but I were to suddenly do nothing but block them, minute after minute, hour after hour, for days on end, I'd be stopped. It's within policy for me to remove unsourced material from articles, but if I were to go on a removing rampage, I'd similarly be stopped. There's a saying that the best way to get rid of bad law is to enforce it. Sometimes that applies to good law too. SlimVirgin talk contribs 02:51, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
One more thing: As soon as I saw after removing my comment that I'd inadvertently (i.e. unintentionally) removed one you wrote as well, I immediately Undid my edit, and it seemed to go through. The edit history shows you had to restore though. I don't know what happened there. Oh well. –Whitehorse1 03:09, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
I don't think we should indulge this discussion too much. Even if we came to some other local consensus, it wouldn't mean much weighed against the RfC that had hundreds of participants. The consensus at the RfC was to not carry out any sort of summary deletion on old unsourced BLPs as long as the unsourced backlog was falling on its own from normal editorial efforts, and to develop a sticky PROD for new BLPs. Those things are happening. We should focus on that rather than rehashing the RfC over again pointlessly. Gigs (talk) 00:34, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
In your 1st sentence, do you mean me? The seeming-rehashing of the RfC was exactly what I was asking about. –Whitehorse1 00:56, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I was roughly agreeing with your general sentiment. Gigs (talk) 00:59, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Whitehorse1 and Gigs. Maurreen (talk) 01:01, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Apparently, it's too much too hope for that I could be able to leave a subhead on this page. Maurreen (talk) 02:25, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Sticky prods

See continued discussion at WT:BLPPROD. Gigs (talk) 20:21, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

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

I'm going to update with info about sticky prods for BLPs, per discussion there.

I might make some other adjustments while I'm in there. Maurreen (talk) 06:55, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Removal of sticky prod addition

I have removed this addition as it creates an impression that adding one source, of any kind, is sufficient to render an otherwise unsourced BLP acceptable. This is clearly in violation of WP:V and the rest of the BLP policy. If we cannot source material, it should be removed pending appropriate reliable sourcing which directly supports it, not any random "source". See also the WP:V discussion.Crum375 (talk) 11:52, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

I suggest consolidating any discussion, at Wikipedia talk:Proposed deletion of biographies of living people. -- Maurreen (talk) 13:10, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
I think discussion of changes to BLP sourcing requirements belongs here. Crum375 (talk) 13:23, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
I have made a slight change to the proposed language that accounts for Crum's concerns... I hope it will be acceptable to all. Blueboar (talk) 13:32, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Another concern I have with this proposed addition to the policy is that it seems to imply that unsourced problematic material, including derogatory or defamatory material in BLP cases, should be allowed to remain there for days. The length of time allowed to fetch the required sources should be dependent on the circumstances: very short, perhaps a few minutes or even less, for material which can cause perceptible harm, or longer in less critical situations. Crum375 (talk) 13:41, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree, I think the new wording you added helps fix that. -- Bfigura (talk) 16:46, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
One source is enough to take the sticky prod off. Sticky prod is not about producing fully sourced articles, it's about enforcing a bare minimum requirement not to produce new totally unsourced articles. Gigs (talk) 17:17, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes, but that one source does need to directly relate to the subject of the BLP. Adding a source that does not mention the person at all is not enough. Blueboar (talk) 17:25, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
I think one could pretty easily argue that it's not a "source" at all, if it doesn't support any of the material in the article. Gigs (talk) 17:32, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
If I add a link to my personal website supporting my edit, it would be a "source", directly addressing the material, but normally unreliable. It would be clearly insufficient for BLP and most non-BLP articles. Crum375 (talk) 17:42, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Obviously, what it needs is a valid reliable source. Without trying to completely define valid, it's certainly the case that the source must verify some significant facts about the article, presumably enough to establish notability. Or, phrased another way, the article would have to be viable if all the unsourced contentious material were removed. Otherwise it's heading for deletion one way or another. - Wikidemon (talk) 20:01, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Moving to talk for now

This needs to be discussed before being added to make sure we get the wording right and don't contradict any other policy. Also to make sure this was what was agreed at the RfC.

New unsourced biographies of living people created after 18 March 2010 can be proposed for deletion. Unlike standard proposed deletion, these articles must contain a reliable source before the tag can be removed. If the article remains unsourced after 10 days (in contrast to seven days for a regular proposed deletion), the articles can be deleted. After adding the deletion tag to an article, the user must notify the creator or main contributor. Tag status notwithstanding, any unsourced or poorly sourced negative or contentious material about a living person must be removed immediately. An article may be deleted if no reliable source supports the material in it.

If an article is deleted, it may only be undeleted after adding a reliable source which directly supports the material in question. For negative or contentious material about a living person, the added source(s) must be of high quality and highly reliable. The undeletion can be requested either through the deleting administrator or at Wikipedia:Requests for undeletion.

Also, as all articles are required to be verifiable, a reliable source in the form of an inline citation must be supplied for any material that is challenged or likely to be challenged, and for all quotations, or the material in question may be removed.

SlimVirgin talk contribs 18:49, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

This is very problematic. Currently we can (and must) delete any BLP that's inherently problematic, where there's no good version to revert to. This says that all anyone has to do is come up with a source, any source, for any part of it. Or am I missing something?
Also, the way it's worded isn't right, because people can't add sources to deleted articles. SlimVirgin talk contribs 18:59, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
I've asked this many times, but have never found an answer: can someone link to a discussion that shows the above gained consensus somewhere? SlimVirgin talk contribs 19:03, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Unsourced is not "inherently problematic". BLP PROD is used when the only problem is a total lack of sourcing. If there's some other reason to delete the BLP though CSD, then it can still be speedied. There's no support for general summary deletion outside of existing CSD for unsourced or poorly sourced BLPs, which was demonstrated at the RfC. Gigs (talk) 19:18, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Unsourced is very much "inherently problematic". This site is all about reliably sourced information, not "I heard it on the grapevine." This is a core long-standing Foundation policy, supported by Jimbo, and the recent RfC was focused on mass deletions and a prod template, which are not the issue here. Crum375 (talk) 19:27, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
The RfC specifically addressed speedy deletion of unsourced BLPs, and the idea got no consensus, with 16 support and 29 opposed. And that was just for new ones. Speedy for existing ones enjoys even less support. Gigs (talk) 19:39, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Just because something doesn't garner support on an RfC does not change our core Foundation policies. Modifying these core policies would require very broad consensus, plus the Foundation's approval for any weakening of the BLP standards, since it bears legal responsibility for this site. Crum375 (talk) 19:44, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Jimbo, in the same RfC, suggested what amounted to a year long PROD process for old unsourced BLPs. There is no "weakening" going on here. We are implementing what the plan has been since the RfC closed; clean up the old BLPs through normal editing, and implement BLP PROD for new ones. There is no policy, no mandate, and no consensus for out of process deletion except for exceptional cases. If you want a new speedy deletion criteria, go over to WT:CSD and propose it. I'd even support you if the wording was specific enough. Gigs (talk) 19:52, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Question for Gigs... so that I understand what this prod process allows and does not allow... Suppose I create a new bio article on an controversial radio personality, full of unsourced negative info. The article is prodded. I know he happens to be a fan of the NY Knicks basketball team. So I mention this trivial fact and cite a newspaper sports report about a basketball game three years ago that happens to mention in passing that he attended the game. This is the only source I add. From your understanding of the policy, is this enough to negate the Prod? Blueboar (talk) 19:56, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────It's OK to add more prod templates. It's not OK to imply that only one source is needed, of any kind, to make an article "acceptable". It's not OK to imply that there is an automatic grace period of days before an unsourced BLP article can be removed, regardless of its contents or allegations. You cannot tear down the core policies while adding templates. Crum375 (talk) 19:55, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Crum: It was what the community agreed was tolerable. We tolerate things we don't necessarily condone.
Blurboar:Yes, it's enough to get rid of the BLP PROD. Stub out all the unsourced negative information and if necessary revision delete the revisions that include it, or have them oversighted. Or speedy delete it as an attack page. Nothing in BLP PROD allows us to keep negative unsourced information... I don't know how anyone would get that idea. It's raising the standards, not lowering them. Gigs (talk) 20:01, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Gigs, if there is consensus to change the core BLP policy, it should be discussed on the BLP talk page and the new wording agreed upon. To my knowledge, no such process has taken place. The current BLP policy says: "if the page's primary content is contentious material that is unsourced or poorly sourced; there is no obvious way to fix it; and there is no previous version of the page that is policy compliant, it may be necessary for an administrator to delete the page." This has always been the policy, approved by the Foundation and Jimbo, and this is what is done every day here. Any proposed changes to it should gain consensus here first. Crum375 (talk) 20:06, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes, nothing in BLP PROD contradicts the ability to delete a page that is utterly irredeemable under the current standard that you quoted. Gigs (talk) 20:11, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
(ec)I would have no objection to further tightening of the BLP or general sourcing requirements. But I find unacceptable any new language implying that a single source of any kind is sufficient to deem an article acceptable, or even "more acceptable", or that an automatic days-long grace period must be given to unsourced or poorly sourced defamatory BLP material. Such changes would conflict with our long standing sourcing and BLP standards. Crum375 (talk) 20:19, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Gigs, regardless of the ins and outs, no substantive change can be made to a core content policy without consensus. Consensus isn't developed on out-of-the-way workshop pages that no one is following. I've been editing WP for five years, and have been heavily involved in BLP issues for almost four years, and yet even I couldn't follow what was going on. Not one of my questions on the sticky prod workshop asking whether there was consensus was ever responded to properly. As time went on, almost no one was contributing to it, and it was on hardly any watchlists.

I don't know how that process ever got started, but it's not the way things are normally done here. If you want to work on a sticky prod proposal, you have to do it where everyone can see it and follow it, so that you gain consensus in the normal way.

Also, this forest fire isn't helpful. It should be discussed on the sticky prod proposal talk page. SlimVirgin talk contribs 20:16, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Fine. Gigs (talk) 20:21, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

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

See continued discussion at WT:BLPPROD. Gigs (talk) 20:21, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

It's unfathomable to consider going around implementing things with, as previously raised above, such critical unresolved issues. –Whitehorse1 09:35, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
I've commented on that page. –Whitehorse1 09:47, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

Limited groups of people

The policy states that it does not apply to corporations and other legal "persons" ... but I think there is a gray area here that may need further elaboration: whether the policy applies to statements about the living members or membership of an organization, taken as a group. For example... would a controversial comment about the living members of the Union Club of the City of New York (as opposed to a comment about the club itself, as a legal entity) be covered under WP:BLP? (if this has been answered before... just point me to the discussion... thanks.) Blueboar (talk) 15:30, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

I think you could fit that under the existing wording, by noting that in conveying information about members of a small group one is indeed providing information about living individuals. - Wikidemon (talk) 16:15, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
OK... would you say that this extends to larger groups? Take for example Freemasonry... Can we make a similar distinction between statements about the organization (Freemasonry) and statements about the membership (Freemasons)? Or between statements about the Democratic Party vs. statements about Democrats. I am trying to understand where the lines are drawn here. Blueboar (talk) 18:20, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
BB, I think that would need to be left to common sense, or else we'd never be able to describe any group or even any belief system without BLP kicking in. SlimVirgin talk contribs 18:41, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
I get what you are saying SV... This isn't an easy question (and I definitely see the potential for abuse in any sort of blanket statement). The problem is that "groups" seem to not be discussed anywhere, and some sort of guidance beyond "use common sense" would be help resolve a lot of debates. Even a wishy washy statement along the lines of "groups are difficult, being a mix of living people and corporate entity... and so the determination as to whether to apply the restrictions of BLP must be judged on a statement by statement basis" would be better than the current situation of not discussing them at all. Blueboar (talk) 19:28, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes, true, and it's not just corporate entities, but any grouping of people by association or even belief system. So it gets very tricky. SlimVirgin talk contribs 19:31, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
Would something like this do? SlimVirgin talk contribs 19:38, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
It's not perfect, but it is better than nothing. I suspect the topic will need further thought and tinkering, but at least editors to articles relating to groups and organizations now have some sort of guidance to go from. Thanks. Blueboar (talk) 19:49, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
Your addition is good. SlimVirgin talk contribs 19:59, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
thanks. Blueboar (talk) 20:00, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

The reason this is named "persons" and not "people" is to convey that it does not apply to groups. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with any change that applies it to groups in any way whatsoever. Gigs (talk) 16:38, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Attack pages

I wasted considerable time because the section on attack pages did not accurately reflect the content of WP:Attack page. Regarding Inge Lynn Collins Bongo I argued this at Talk:Jimbo Wales, I argued it at WP:Requests for undeletion - no one is interpreting CSD:G10 to prohibit the speedy deletion of well-sourced negative biographies. There is no where left to appeal, and from discussions here it sounds like the ArbCom decisions also have favored the other interpretation. So why mislead the users and the public? I've changed "unsourced" to "now matter how thoroughly sourced". Wnt (talk) 22:01, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

I've reverted this. I think a more nuanced approach is needed, and what was written put this policy and G10 at odds. We probably need to engineer a modification to both at once. As I understand it "attack is bad, no matter how sourced. Negative unsourced is bad, but negative sourced is acceptable if balanced appropriately." Jclemens (talk) 22:22, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Note also that WP:ATTACK says that even in the cases of an article that should be deleted due to its focus, a stub article should be created as a replacement (assuming the subject is notabile).   Will Beback  talk  22:27, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Mind you, I don't really want the change, but the article I mentioned was deleted "in public", in discussions on Jimbo Wales' web page with his approval, allegedly under CSD:G10. According to the deleter, (User talk:Coren#Inge Lynn Collins Bongo), "Regardless of the presence of sources (which, incidentally, sucked) it still was a "Page[s] that disparage or threaten their subject or some other entity, and serve no other purpose." That sort of crap has no place on Wikipedia...". Undeletion was denied. And from the discussions above and elsewhere it seems like, in theory, if it came to ArbCom, anyone following the policy as written here could be blocked or banned like Anynobody. Wnt (talk) 22:46, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
One deletion doesn't make policy.   Will Beback  talk  22:50, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
You can leave your point at the door, thank you very much. You're welcome to create a biography, even a stubby one if you lack sources; I didn't salt the page. What you are not allowed, however, is to focus exclusively on negative incidents to create a hatchet job thinly disguised as a biography. We're not a platform upon which to expound the evils of persons, or to decry your favorite enemy; if someone is notable enough to warrant a biography in an encyclopedia, then we need to write a biography. (That, incidentally, should also go for hagiographies even though they are generally more tolerated because less likely to be immediately harmful). — Coren (talk) 23:52, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Is there a difference between "BLPs (however well sourced) that are negative in tone, and which appear to have been created to disparage the subject" and BLPs that "focus exclusively on negative incidents to create a hatchet job"? Wnt (talk) 01:29, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
The latter is the extreme example of the former. — Coren (talk) 03:01, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
How could anyone deleting an attack page be blocked? That's what's supposed to be done with attack pages. -- Rico 01:36, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
A necessary condition, but not a sufficient one. An attack page should be deleted, by definition. -- Rico 01:33, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
Attack pages should be deleted, no matter how well sourced they are, by definition. -- Rico 01:31, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Private vs living individual.

The material you just reverted has not "been there for years". You recently expanded the remit of the section on low profile individuals to apply to all living people [5]. This change was controversial and reverted. Get consensus for it instead of tag team edit warring. Gigs (talk) 01:19, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Two editors on this page have recently taken to creating headers (here and elsewhere) containing people's names. This isn't allowed where it's intended to draw negative attention to other editors (sorry, can't remember where it says that, but it does), for obvious reasons. I'd appreciate it if it could stop.
Gigs, you removed material about self-publishing that has been here and at V for years. Please leave it be.
I'm worried in general that this policy has suddenly become caught up in a fight between inclusionists and deletionists. It's not appropriate to wage that battle on this page. SlimVirgin talk contribs 01:23, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm actually a deletionist when it comes to notability standards, so that's an irrelevant dichotomy. What I don't support are nearly unilateral changes to policy being presented as "consensus" and then edit warred to defend, as you have taken to doing here and elsewhere. Your change to the header name is fine. I used names instead of content issues because the rapid fire editing style, making many substantive changes at once, that you utilize makes it very hard to concentrate on a single issue. Gigs (talk) 01:29, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
Regardless of who is an inclusionist or deletionist, a number of editors seem to have arrived here for the first time (or close to the first time) following the summary deletions, and are trying to remove long-standing material, making changes without realizing the implications, and so on. This is an important policy. It has to harmonize with the other content policies (so you have to know not only what the other content policies say, but also how they're implemented); it has to follow best practice (so you have to know what best practice is); and it has to be well-written and tightly written so that people can follow it. The most wonderful policy in the world is useless if people can't read it.

We can't afford to let this get caught up in disputes that are happening elsewhere for other reasons. That's my only point. SlimVirgin talk contribs 02:02, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

That has nothing to do with the lack of consensus for your recent changes. Gigs (talk) 02:07, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
Then please explain specifically what you object to, without reference to changes, without reference to individuals, without reference to arguments you think someone else might have made, but specifically what is wrong with this paragraph, in your own opinion. I'm very happy to hear actual arguments about how this can be improved.

Wikipedia contains biographies of people who, while notable enough for an entry, are not generally well known. In such cases, exercise restraint and include only material relevant to their notability, focusing on secondary sources. Material published by the subject may be used, but with caution; see above. Material that may adversely affect a person's reputation should be treated with special care; in many countries repeating defamatory claims is actionable, and there is additional protection for people who are not public figures. Any potentially damaging material about living persons, whether public or private figures, may be included only if it is corroborated by highly reliable sources, it is relevant to the subject's notability, and the Wikipedia article assumes no position on the material's veracity. But take special care when dealing with private figures so that Wikipedia is not responsible for extending the remit of the person's notability and does not become a secondary source of information about that person.

SlimVirgin talk contribs 02:18, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Further rationale for the return to the longstanding use of "private person" was given here. Maurreen (talk) 02:21, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Yes, I think the objections were quite clear. The enhanced standard for inclusion of material has applied only to low-profile individuals for a very long time. The section also used to be entitled: "People who are relatively unknown" which I think is a much more appropriate title, since it does not invoke notability. Since the title change was without discussion as well, we should go back to the older title. Gigs (talk) 02:25, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
Gigs, I asked for your argument in your own words. I'd appreciate hearing what is wrong in your own opinion with the section as quoted above. There is no enhanced standard. Please show me somewhere that implies we have low standards for public figures. SlimVirgin talk contribs 02:31, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
I just told you. The policy laid out a three pronged standard for potentially damaging information about low-profile individuals:
  1. corroborated by highly reliable sources
  2. relevant to the subject's notability
  3. the Wikipedia article assumes no position on the material's veracity
You have modified the policy to make this enhanced standard apply to all living people, instead of only relatively unknown living people. The requirement for material to be "relevant to the subject's notability" is particularly inappropriate for high profile individuals, as I have already argued above. As well, there is no requirement to take no position on veracity in general. We can say "Mr Volvo failed to notify the NTSB about the defect[1][2]", we aren't required to say "According to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, Mr Volvo failed...", though we may choose to, for particularly contentious claims. This is very much a different standard, and a higher standard that we apply only to low-profile individuals. Gigs (talk) 02:46, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
There is no enhanced standard. This has always applied to everyone. Anything damaging about anyone needs good sources, must be relevant, and must be presented neutrality. I can't follow your point about Volvo, because we never take positions (not taking a position doesn't mean we need to use in-text attribution). We source everything in BLPs.
Can you show me a BLP you've written or edited that doesn't follow what you're calling the enhanced standard so I can see what you're getting at? SlimVirgin talk contribs 03:05, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
If you are going to refuse to understand my argument then I'm not sure where to go from here. Your proposed changes have been objected to. Stop representing that they represent any sort of consensus. Gigs (talk) 03:12, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
Gigs, my edit corrected the impression that damaging material about public figures doesn't need good quality sources, doesn't need to be relevant to notability, doesn't need to be presented neutrally. If you think this is an enhanced standard, please show me an article you've worked on that illustrates what you have in mind, because ever since this policy has existed that standard has applied to what the policy calls public figures too. Bear in mind that this is an American legal distinction, and that not all Wikipedians are Americans. I don't know which other countries use it. Also bear in mind that we have moral responsibilities over and above the legal ones.
I think perhaps it's the phrase "relevant to their notability" that's causing you the problem. You think that means if someone is known for singing, we can't publish that they were charged with an assault. But that's to misunderstand what the policy says. So if you can think of a way of writing it that would stop anyone else from misunderstanding it in that way, I'm open to suggestions. I thought the sentence I added made clear what we're getting at: "But take special care when dealing with private figures so that Wikipedia is not responsible for extending the remit of the person's notability and does not become a secondary source of information about that person." SlimVirgin talk contribs 03:25, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
The old wording was fine. Gigs (talk) 03:28, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
You're just ignoring what I say. :) The old wording wasn't fine because it implied that damaging material may be added about public figures without those protections, and that's incorrect. Anyone familiar with writing articles knows that's incorrect. Anyone who has seen Jimbo swoop on articles about public figures where editors have been using primary sources to add little-known material knows that's incorrect. As I said, I'm very happy to work with you to find better wording if you'll spell out your precise concern, but you have to do that otherwise I can't know what it is. If you could give examples of BLPs where in your view the current wording would cause a problem, that would be even more helpful. SlimVirgin talk contribs 03:57, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
You are the one that wants to change the policy. You seem to think that consensus is required to revert your proposed changes. That's not how it works and you know it. Gigs (talk) 04:01, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
It is the responsibility of the people who want to change from the long-standing "private person" to "living person" to gain consensus by showing that such change is warranted. Maurreen (talk) 03:20, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
Stop adding subheads when someone objects. It means people can't refer back to the earlier section when section-editing. SlimVirgin talk contribs 03:25, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
Per WP:Refactor, "If another editor objects to refactoring then the changes should be reverted." Refactoring includes, "Relocation of material to different sections or pages where it is more appropriate." Getting into an edit war with someone over putting their post somewhere they didn't put it would be out of control.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12] -- Rico 03:56, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Subheads

I don't understand the objection to subheads. Maurreen (talk) 05:57, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

It can make editing awkward. With the one you added earlier, I had posted an example from the policy for Gigs. You then started a new subsection below it where Gigs's reply to me was. I opened that subsection to answer him, but then couldn't refer back to my previous post because I couldn't see it. They're fine when the subject changes or the section's long or confusing. SlimVirgin talk contribs 06:05, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
  1. You can still open the larger section, which includes any subsections.
  2. Also, the subjects were different.
    1. In the #Contentious section, the discussion veered into sticky prods, which have nothing to do with contentiousness.
    2. I added a subhead immediately above Rico's edit. The section is about whether to use "private person" or "living person." Rico's comments are about whether the policy has been weakened by deleting certain material.
    3. Under #Private vs living individual., much of the discussion had nothing to do with the issue. Instead, there are comments about:
      1. Headers
      2. Unrelated removed material
      3. Inclusionists and deletionists
      4. Who is participating on the page
      5. The overall policy in general
      6. Disputes elsewhere Maurreen (talk) 06:33, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Do no harm

Does anyone have a view about restoring the "do no harm" rule of thumb to the lead? It was there from 2005 until it was removed by Geni over objections in July 2008. [13] It said: "An important rule of thumb when writing biographical material about living persons is 'do no harm.'" It is still in the lead in slightly weakened form (and a bit wordy)—"the possibility of harm to living subjects must always be considered when exercising editorial judgment"—and perhaps that's good enough, but personally I prefer the stronger version. SlimVirgin talk contribs 23:32, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

Previous discussion about its removal here. SlimVirgin talk contribs 23:36, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
I very much prefer the current one. Although courtesy of popular reference to the Hippocratic Oath the rejected version might've had a better brand image, it (will often be interpreted as to) contradicts our core policy of neutral point of view. Emphasizing editorial judgment plus matters to consider is better. –Whitehorse1 00:00, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
Actually, having read the old discussion, I now think it might be better left out. There were a few good arguments against it. SlimVirgin talk contribs 00:37, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
I prefer the current version also. Maurreen (talk) 00:38, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
  • One cannot "do no harm" and write a neutral encyclopedia. –xenotalk 17:27, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Subjects who are borderline notable -> People who are relatively unknown

I've restored the old title of this section. There are people who clearly pass our notability standards but are still relatively unknown. Standards like WP:PROF and WP:ATH set a pretty bright line and IMO low bar for notability. There are many "clearly notable" people under WP:PROF who are completely unknown out of a small field of specialization. In general, I think we should avoid making references to "notability" at all in relation to article content, as that has been discussed and rejected for many reasons. Gigs (talk) 16:12, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Following Maurreen's recent edit I'm not sure what this paragraph means.

Wikipedia contains biographies of people who, while notable enough for an entry, are not generally well known. In such cases, exercise restraint and include only material relevant to their notability, focusing on secondary sources. Material published by the subject may be used, but with caution; see above. Material that may adversely affect a person's reputation should be treated with special care; in many countries repeating defamatory claims is actionable, and there is additional protection for people who are not public figures. Any potentially damaging material about private persons may be included only if it is corroborated by highly reliable sources, it is relevant to the subject's notability, and the Wikipedia article assumes no position on the material's veracity. But take special care when dealing with private figures so that Wikipedia is not responsible for extending the remit of the person's notability and does not become a secondary source of information about that person.

What does the "but" in the last sentence refer to? SlimVirgin talk contribs 00:00, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

I've removed the repetitive part and taken it down to the following, which removes the part under dispute yet says the same thing:

Wikipedia contains biographies of people who, while notable enough for an entry, are not generally well known. In such cases, exercise restraint and include only material relevant to their notability, focusing on high quality secondary sources. Material published by the subject may be used, but with caution; see above. Material that may adversely affect a person's reputation should be treated with special care; in many countries repeating defamatory claims is actionable, and there is additional protection for people who are not public figures.

SlimVirgin talk contribs 00:04, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Looks good to me. I think it's true to the original spirit before the disputes started. Thanks. Gigs (talk) 01:25, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Primary sources conflicting advice

Do not use primary sources, such as public records that include personal details, unless a reliable secondary source has already published the information; see above.

The above:

Exercise caution in using primary sources. [...]

So which is it, do not use them or exercise caution in using them? I'm not sure what purpose the second section (3.3) on primary sources serves. I think we should eliminate the 3.3 one and just keep the more detailed one. Gigs (talk) 01:29, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

It's exercise caution, and do not use public records not used by secondary sources. Just what it says. What do you see as the contradiction? The point of 3.3 is to include something about it in the privacy section, because that's where this kind of thing most often occurs, but because it's a sourcing issue the main point about it is in the sourcing section. SlimVirgin talk contribs 01:44, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
How about merging it to "privacy of personal information" since that's primarily what it's concerned with? Gigs (talk) 01:54, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
My preference would be to keep the bulk of it in the section about reliable sources, because it's about sourcing. If you really dislike the repetition, we could simply link in the second section to the first one, but say no more. SlimVirgin talk contribs 02:04, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Gigs, would this work for you? SlimVirgin talk contribs 02:22, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Looks good to me. Thanks. Gigs (talk) 03:11, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Excellent, thanks. :) SlimVirgin talk contribs 03:12, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

"Private person" vs. "Living person"

Under "People who are relatively unknown," as of here, we had had:

"Material that may adversely affect a person's reputation should be treated with special care. In the laws of many countries, simply repeating the defamatory claims of another is illegal, and there are special protections for people who are not public figures. Any such potentially damaging information about a private person may be cited if and only if: (1) it is corroborated by multiple, highly reliable sources; (2) the allegations are relevant to the subject's notability and; (3) the Wikipedia article states that the sources make certain "allegations", with the Wikipedia article taking no position on their truth."

A change has been made from "potentially damaging information about a private person" to "potentially damaging material about living persons, whether public or private figures" (emphasis added).

This raises the bar concerning public figures, and it might introduce unwanted gray areas.

Further, if we do decide that's what we want, then that paragraph would no longer be directly related to the title of the section. Maurreen (talk) 07:08, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

Right, that section is about low profile people, not "public figures". It's directly rooted in libel law, which holds a higher standard for private individual vs public figures. We should not dilute it. Gigs (talk) 14:51, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
The problem with the version Maurreen wants is that it implies that damaging material about public figures doesn't need highly reliable sources etc., when of course it does too. The current version reads:

Any potentially damaging material about living persons, whether public or private figures, may be included only if it is corroborated by highly reliable sources, it is relevant to the subject's notability, and the Wikipedia article assumes no position on the material's veracity. But take special care when dealing with private figures so that Wikipedia is not responsible for extending the remit of the person's notability and does not become a secondary source of information about that person.

I'd be reluctant to add anything specifically rooted in the U.S. private/public distinction because we're none of us lawyers. What we're talking about here is simply that we don't want to intrude on someone's private life when their notability is not abundantly clear. SlimVirgin talk contribs 15:12, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
Previous version Current version
Wikipedia also contains biographies of people who, while notable enough for an entry, are not generally well known. In such cases, exercise restraint and include only material relevant to their notability, and omit information that is irrelevant to their notability. Material from third-party primary sources should not be used unless it has first been published by a reliable secondary source. Material published by the subject must be used with caution. (See Using the subject as a source, above.)

Material that may adversely affect a person's reputation should be treated with special care. In the laws of many countries, simply repeating the defamatory claims of another is illegal, and there are special protections for people who are not public figures. Any such potentially damaging information about a private person may be cited if and only if: (1) it is corroborated by multiple, highly reliable sources; (2) the allegations are relevant to the subject's notability and; (3) the Wikipedia article states that the sources make certain "allegations", with the Wikipedia article taking no position on their truth.

Wikipedia contains biographies of people who, while notable enough for an entry, are not generally well known. In such cases, exercise restraint and include only material relevant to their notability, focusing on secondary sources. Material published by the subject may be used, but with caution; see above. Material that may adversely affect a person's reputation should be treated with special care; in many countries repeating defamatory claims is actionable, and there is additional protection for people who are not public figures. Any potentially damaging material about living persons, whether public or private figures, may be included only if it is corroborated by highly reliable sources, it is relevant to the subject's notability, and the Wikipedia article assumes no position on the material's veracity. But take special care when dealing with private figures so that Wikipedia is not responsible for extending the remit of the person's notability and does not become a secondary source of information about that person.


The standards are lower for public figures. Any change that puts them on equal par dilutes the spirit of this section that we must exercise extra care for low profile individuals. Gigs (talk) 16:29, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
In some countries there are extra protections for private persons, but we should not imply that public figures can be trashed with low quality sources. Material about living persons of any kind needs to be well sourced, esp. when it is negative or contentious. There are no bull's eyes on public figures. Crum375 (talk) 16:42, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
Nothing in the old version implied that. Gigs (talk) 17:16, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
The way this new version is written, if Tom Cruise gets charged with murder, we can't cover it, because he's notable for being an actor, not a murderer. Do you see the problem now? This clause is about protecting the privacy of low profile people. It doesn't work when applied to public figures. Gigs (talk) 19:22, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
That's to take a very extreme interpretation of the sentence—that if a famous person killed someone it wouldn't be relevant to their notability. Something becomes relevant to someone's notability if they're getting a lot of coverage because of it. If you can think of different wording please do. My only concern is that we not imply that damaging claims about public figures don't need high quality sources etc. SlimVirgin talk contribs 05:20, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

Previous version Current version

Wikipedia also contains biographies of people who, while notable enough for an entry, are not generally well known. In such cases, exercise restraint and include only material relevant to their notability, and omit information that is irrelevant to their notability. Material from third-party primary sources should not be used unless it has first been published by a reliable secondary source. Material published by the subject must be used with caution. (See Using the subject as a source, above.)

Material that may adversely affect a person's reputation should be treated with special care. In the laws of many countries, simply repeating the defamatory claims of another is illegal, and there are special protections for people who are not public figures. Any such potentially damaging information about a private person may be cited if and only if: (1) it is corroborated by multiple, highly reliable sources; (2) the allegations are relevant to the subject's notability and; (3) the Wikipedia article states that the sources make certain "allegations", with the Wikipedia article taking no position on their truth.

Wikipedia contains biographies of people who, while notable enough for an entry, are not generally well known. In such cases, exercise restraint and include only material relevant to their notability, focusing on secondary sources. Material published by the subject may be used, but with caution; see above. Material that may adversely affect a person's reputation should be treated with special care; in many countries repeating defamatory claims is actionable, and there is additional protection for people who are not public figures. Any potentially damaging material about living persons, whether public or private figures, may be included only if it is corroborated by highly reliable sources, it is relevant to the subject's notability, and the Wikipedia article assumes no position on the material's veracity. But take special care when dealing with private figures so that Wikipedia is not responsible for extending the remit of the person's notability and does not become a secondary source of information about that person.

-- Rico 07:16, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

SlimVirgin wrote above, "The problem with the version Maurreen wants is that it implies that damaging material about public figures doesn't need highly reliable sources etc., when of course it does too."
It does nothing of the kind. 1) The section is now titled "Subjects who are borderline notable". Thus, it is not expected to have anything to do with public figures. 2) This special section for "People who are relatively unknown" does not negate or necessarily affect anything else on the page -- such as the section on "Remove unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material".
That section leads with the sentence "Remove immediately any contentious material about a living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced; that is a conjectural interpretation of a source (see No original research); that relies on self-published sources, unless written by the subject of the BLP (see below); or that relies on sources that fail in some other way to comply with Verifiability."
SlimVirgin also said in another comment above, "That's to take a very extreme interpretation of the sentence—that if a famous person killed someone it wouldn't be relevant to their notability." WP editors do have some widely varying interpretations. If by nothing else, that is evidenced by the widely varying views relating to the mass deletions in January.
Note that I am not proposing something new. Here's some history about the section now titled "Subjects who are borderline notable" -- On 19 December 2005, SlimVirgin added a section then titled "Presumption in favor of privacy".
That section included: "However, there are also biographies of persons who, while marginally notable enough for a Wikipedia entry, may nevertheless feel that they are private individuals, and who may object to being on the receiving end of public attention. In such cases, Wikipedia editors should exercise restraint and, in the case of a dispute, should err in favor of respecting the individual's privacy. ... (Examples redacted.) In borderline cases, the rule of thumb should be 'do no harm.'" SlimVirgin herself introduced a distinction.
As of 9 November 2006, the relevant portion of the policy included: "Wikipedia also contains biographies of people who, while notable enough for an entry, are nevertheless entitled to the respect for privacy afforded non-public figures. In such cases, editors should exercise restraint and include only information relevant to their notability." (Emphasis added.)
The relevant sentence was changed from referring to "private person" to referring to a "living person" in this edit by SlimVirgin on 31 March 2010.
The edit summary says only "tidying writing". If indeed that was all that was intended, it should especially be no trouble to change it back. If SlimVirgin did intend something more, I ask her to at least put more care into her edit summaries.
In various conversations, SlimVirgin has repeatedly referred to "how policy is made." WP:POLICY#Content changes includes this: "Talk page discussion typically precedes substantive changes to policy. Changes may be made if there are no objections, or if discussion shows that there is consensus for the change."
This discussion shows that there is no consensus for the change of the relevant sentence from "private person" to "living person" (or any alteration that includes public figures). Maurreen (talk) 09:31, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
No consensus has been shown for the change of the relevant sentence from "private person" to "living person".
So I will change it back to "private person." Maurreen (talk) 18:14, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
I still see no consensus to change the section and expand its scope from low-profile individuals to all individuals. Gigs (talk) 01:02, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
It looks like the Biographies of living persons policy has been weakened by deleting, "and omit information that is irrelevant to their notability. Material from third-party primary sources should not be used unless it has first been published by a reliable secondary source. Material published by the subject must be used with caution."
Would anyone point me to where consensus was obtained before deleting this?
Is it the consensus among Wikipedians that we want to include information that is irrelevant to the notability of borderline notable people?
I know that consensus among Wikipedians is not to water down BLP policy.
The Arbitration Committee just passed a motion declaring,
Jimbo Wales just wrote,
Should we bring more people into this discussion? -- Rico 20:54, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

Explaining my revert

Rico, I removed what you added [14] because it's either repetitive or unclear, and we're trying to keep the writing tight. You added:

Never include derogatory information that is irrelevant to their notability. No derogatory material from third-party primary sources should be used unless it has first been published by a highly reliable secondary source. Focus on very reliable, secondary sources.

The previous sentence said "include only material relevant to their notability, focusing on secondary sources," so there's no need to repeat that about derogatory material. The part about using reliable secondary sources and then focusing on these is also repetitive; we should only need to say it once in that section. And finally I'm not sure that people will know what you mean by a third-party primary source. We already say focus on secondary sources.

What is it you feel is missing from the current text? SlimVirgin talk contribs 19:28, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

The section does say that, Rico. It says (my bold): "Any potentially damaging material about living persons, whether public or private figures, may be included only if it is corroborated by highly reliable sources, it is relevant to the subject's notability, and the Wikipedia article assumes no position on the material's veracity." SlimVirgin talk contribs 21:01, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
It may be worth mentioning a recent concern of yours, because it may be prompting your edit. An editor recently requested page protection for Carrie Prejean, a Miss USA runner-up, and you arrived at RfPP to ask that the protecting admin revert on BLP grounds to protect it on the version you preferred. [15] You quoted the ArbCom, which allows admins to do that with BLP violations. The edit you were objecting to was that another public figure said on his blog that Prejean's answer in a beauty contest was the worst reply in pageant history, and this was quoted by ABC News. You objected on the grounds that, in your view, another contestant had in fact given the worst reply, the source was not a pageant historian, and the source was an openly gay blogger.
While I agree with you, in the sense that I wouldn't have added that material either (it was a bit cheesy and irrelevant), it's not a BLP issue. The subject is a public figure, the material is relevant to her notability, and the secondary source was ABC News. And whether the blogger was gay was not relevant at all, obviously. My worry is that you have a very strict interpretation of BLP, and while that's arguably better than having too weak an interpretation, it's still problematic. SlimVirgin talk contribs 21:28, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for ascribing ulterior motives to me, that were not my motives -- as I have made clear.
I was disappointed that you protected that page with the slag in it, despite the part of the Wikipedia:Page_protection#Content_disputes policy that incorporates BLP policy -- that I quoted to you[16] -- that was written to handle just such a situation.
No matter. The editors came to a consensus to get rid of the BLP violation that you claim didn't exist, as soon as the protection expired.
As someone that's edited Wikipedia as long as I have, I'm sure you know what the opinions of a passerby are usually worth.
If you are a mind-reader, feel free to write about what "may be prompting my edits."
Shall we discuss the policy? -- Rico 22:37, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

RfC: Should content in question be deleted from BLP policy

Should, "and omit information that is irrelevant to their notability. Material from third-party primary sources should not be used unless it has first been published by a reliable secondary source. Material published by the subject must be used with caution," be deleted from BLP policy? Rico 22:02, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

  • Oppose weakening of BLP policy. The Arbitration Committee just passed a motion declaring,
Jimbo Wales just wrote,
I don't believe there is consensus is for weakening BLP policy. -- Rico 23:05, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
Those sentences cover several different issues. I think that a good argument can be made for adding material to biographies that isn't directly relevant to the subjects' notability. Issues like marriage status, significant hobbies, place of birth, and education are not usually relevant to a person's notability but they are traditional content for biographies. However I agree that the other sentences should be kept. Primary sources should always be used with caution, if at all. Self-published sources, even by the subject, are also likely to cause problems.   Will Beback  talk  23:31, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
The text in question was deleted from the section in borderline notable people, that "are not generally well known."
Wikipedia seems to have a very low threshold for who and what is notable, and information that is irrelevant to the notability of borderline notable people has been used to mask attack pseudo-biographies.
The last thing I think we should be doing is facilitating that. -- Rico 00:23, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Can you give any examples? It seems that this could cut both ways - if someone if primarily notable for something negative then additional background material could serve to "humanize" the person, and to create a "full and balanced biography".   Will Beback  talk  00:26, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
If a borderline notable person is only "notable for something negative", then "additional background material" -- "that is irrelevant to their notability" -- masks the lack of notability, and creates an attack coatrack (or pseudo-biography).
A better approach would be to create an article about that negative thing.
Do you think that all the policies and essays I'm mentioning are about things that don't happen? -- Rico 01:30, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't know that I've seen a problem with this. Apparently, you have. Could you share some examples of where this has actually been a problem. Most biographies on Wikipedia include information that isn't directly relevant to the subjects' notability, so this does not seem to reflect current practice.   Will Beback  talk  05:46, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Support current version. Unless I am missing something, I don't see why material supported by reliable primary sources not directly related to the subject's notability should automatically be excluded, assuming it meets all other sourcing requirements. Certainly we should exclude such material if it's derogatory or contentious, or fails WP:V, WP:UNDUE, or otherwise violates WP:NPOV. We should not interpret or analyze primary sources, and not base the article on them. But if there is relevant and useful background information, for example scholastic or athletic achievements mentioned in some reliable database, why should we exclude it from the subject's biographical article? Crum375 (talk) 01:00, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

I tried to restore the text, and tweak it to only apply to derogatory slags,[17] but SlimVirgin reverted my imperfect edit two minutes later, rather than improving it.[18]
So for now, I would like to see if there is consensus for the one change that's been made clear to us what it was.
There have been around 150 edits to BLP policy in the last week, and most of them have been made by SlimVirgin.[19]
Seeing that several of SlimVirgin's other actions have been problematical for how BLP policy is incorporated into Wikipedia:Page_protection#Content_disputes policy,[20] WP:NPA and WP:Civility policies,[21], and our Wikipedia:Disruptive editing guideline and Edit warring policy,[22][23][24][25][26][27][28] I would like to see if there is consensus among more than just one or two Wikipedians for one of the few changes that have been made clear to me what they were. -- Rico 03:45, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Rico, the diffs of your edits above show, to use your own adjective, "imperfect" additions to the policy, and thus should be reverted. For example, you added, "Never include derogatory information that is irrelevant to their notability." This is clearly wrong. There can be many situations where derogatory information is not important to a person's notability, but is very relevant for their biography. Of course such information must be well sourced and should not violate WP:UNDUE and all other applicable content policies, but we already say that. If you'd like to suggest a modification to the policy, by all means start a section on this talk page with your proposed language, and people will either shoot it down, accept it, or tweak it. But to try to force poor and confusing material directly into a core policy is not a productive tactic. Crum375 (talk) 03:48, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
I did not try to "force" anything. The text in question was already in the policy, and was deleted. I made one edit and was reverted. Now, what I would like to know is, is there consensus for the original deletion. I had nothing to do with this change. This RfC has nothing to do with my edit.
First you wrote, "Certainly we should exclude ["material supported by reliable primary sources not directly related to the subject's notability"] if it's derogatory."
Now you write, "There can be many situations where derogatory information is not important to a person's notability, but is very relevant for their biography."
Your statements seem to contradict each other.
Keeping in mind that we are discussing borderline notable people, that "are not generally well known," how can you reconcile these two statements? -- Rico 04:37, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
My statement about use of well-sourced derogatory information was general, not for "borderline notable" persons. For the latter, we already say that only information relevant to their notability should be used, so your edit was redundant. Crum375 (talk) 14:05, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
D'oh! Excellent point, almost provably correct.
I should probably give it a rest when my eyes go cross–eyed from staring at a computer monitor.
What about, "Material from third-party primary sources should not be used unless it has first been published by a reliable secondary source"?
That was deleted too. -- Rico 00:17, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
OK, if the subject is a borderline notable person, say a hero who saved a plane from a terrorist attack, and a respected online database shows that he had won some scholastic or athletic awards a few years ago. Should we disallow that information? 00:25, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
What if it's the mechanic that messed up on a plane that crashed, who is only known for dropping a Junior Mint into it.
Someone whose mom died in the plane crash starts a pseudo-biography about the man, and then adds information that is not worthy of inclusion in an encyclopedia, masking the BLP1E attack coatrack.
Arguments that the bloke's borderline notable abound, because 109 newspapers published that the guy screwed up -- because it's leaked that the mechanic knew about the Junior Mint, and a transient media firestorm erupts, briefly.
The Yellow Journal publishes that he was a drunk, a neo Nazi, has gotten engaged to a footballer, wrote a book that sold 16 copies, that he's 5'11", and that his favorite color is blue-green.
The Wikipedians whose loved ones died really hate him, so they add everything from the Yellow Journal story into his masked pseudo-biography, splitting it up into different sections.
Someone from their support group gets a picture of him holding a beer bottle, and it's added to the BLP1E -- that on the surface looks like a biography that comes up to Wikipedia's standards.
His birthdate is found in public records, and it turns out he's attending University of Phoenix, so these things are added to mask the pseudo-biography.
If you recall, I only added it back into the policy about derogatory material.
By the way, I agreed with you. Did you read my question?
What about, "Material from third-party primary sources should not be used unless it has first been published by a reliable secondary source"?
That was deleted too. -- Rico 04:56, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

I oppose all references in policies to the term "notability", which I do not understand. It appears to be defined by a series of rather malleable guidelines, all of which seem to be attempts to evade the primary directive expressed by our policy of verifiability. --TS 02:05, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

  • Per Tony Sidaway's note, Wp:NNC indicates that notability applies only to article existence, not article content. If there's going to be a phrasing in policy to remove irrelevant/trivial information from BLPs, that's a separate question, but "notability" is not the banner under which such a limitation on content should be advanced. Jclemens (talk) 03:49, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Notability guidelines do not directly limit article content, but WP:BLP does. -- Rico 04:45, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Per Tony, the bit about excluding information not directly relevant to the subject's notability could be reworked—I think the spirit remains very important (i.e. that you don't go and plaster all sorts of personal details, even if verifiable, around the articles of fundamentally private people). " Material from third-party primary sources should not be used unless it has first been published by a reliable secondary source." is absolutely critical, and I oppose any removal or weakening of that. Steve Smith (talk) 04:21, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Would you feel more comfortable if it read, "and omit information that is irrelevant to the suitability for inclusion [of borderline notable people]" (that "are not generally well known")?
How about, "and omit information that is irrelevant to their worthiness of notice [of borderline notable people]" (that "are not generally well known")? -- Rico 04:49, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm comfortable with the current wording; I'm just saying I could live with a rewording if it makes others happier. I think ""worthiness of notice" means the same thing as "notability" only in more syllables, so I don't really see any reason to make that change. Steve Smith (talk) 04:53, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Per TS, I also oppose any application of notability in this policy. We recently snipped out some "notability speak" from BLPNAME, we should get it out of this section too. (Worthiness of note or any rephrasings of notability are equally bad.) Gigs (talk) 16:40, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Do you believe:
This is how Wikipedians mask the lack of suitability for inclusion of borderline notable people, that "are not generally well known" and create pseudo-biographies, coatracks and attack pages for BLP1Es. -- Rico 20:48, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Notability should not govern article contents in any form. Under a strict interpretation, you couldn't even include a date of birth in any article of someone borderline notable, since that's rarely "relevant to notability". The clause on third party primary sourcing is about doing stuff like going to the courthouse and digging up dirt in old court filings and then publishing it here. It's not meant to be anything else. The clause in the section right above this one includes even stronger wording about primary sources, so it really doesn't need to be mentioned again here. Gigs (talk) 00:40, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Note I've returned the policy to the last consensus version while this RFC runs. Gigs (talk) 00:34, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
    • And I was reverted. Gigs (talk) 01:40, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
There are two competing issues here.
  • It's standard that the policy should be put back to where it was before the change, before the RfC is initiated.
  • Whether the content in question should be changed while the RfC is going on.
I think SlimVirgin is flirting with WP:OWN, has an unbelievable lot of nerve, and it's been said before that "SlimVirgin has a tendency towards edit warring on policy pages."[29] -- Rico 21:10, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Look, while I understand your concern with "do no harm," the fact of the matter is that these articles are biographies, not mere summaries of why the subject is notable. Information that does not directly pertain to a subject's notability will be included necessarily. A Stop at Willoughby (talk) 18:31, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
We're flirting with the relevance standard of inclusion for all articles, which we've never been able to formulate. In principle content should only be added to any article if it's relevant to the article subject, i.e. the thing that is notable and worth reaing about. In the case of a person's biography, it is the person themself rather than specific things about them that is notable so things like parentage, nationality, education, occupation, and so on are often relevant because they help explain who the person is and what their life story is all about. Separating appropriate material of due weight from random information and salacious gossip is important everywhere, particularly here because we want to try especially hard get things right. I don't think the word "directly" particularly clears up anything, it's an emphasis word that doesn't really solve anything. - Wikidemon (talk) 21:27, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

The deletion was from the section entitled, "Subjects who are borderline notable," that "are not generally well known"

"Subjects", meaning people.
I just wanted to make sure everybody understood that. -- Rico 04:42, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

BLPDEL

Per our conversation at BLPPROD, here's what I'd like to do to restore some of the caveats and spirit of the old BLPDEL policy.

  1. Remove the word "summary" from deletion. -- The old version did mention the phrase "summary deletion" once, but I think it's best that we avoid this terminology altogether so as to not convey that this is some special authority outside of CSD and IAR, but rather is describing applications of CSD and IAR.
  2. "material about a living individual that is not compliant with this policy should be improved and rectified" The very first sentence of the old policy focused on improvement, further emphasizing that deletion should be a last resort
  3. "Page deletion is normally a last resort." - this line was removed
  4. Per the short discussion at WT:CSD, I have inserted the word "negative", as it is clear that deletion of negative contentious information is more important. Hagiographies aren't as pressing of a matter to require immediate deletion; this is reflected in G10
  5. I have removed the "reference" to Jimbo's talk page. He says in the quote that it's not policy.
  6. I have replaced "badly written" with "problematic". Like I expressed over there, we don't want anyone deleting an article because of bad grammar.
Deletion, salting, and courtesy blanking

Biographical material about a living person that is not compliant with this policy should be improved and rectified; if this is not possible, then it should be removed. While a strategy of eventualism may apply to other subject areas, problematic BLPs should be stubbed or deleted. If the page's primary content is negative contentious material that is unsourced or poorly sourced, there is no obvious way to fix it, and there is no previous version of the page that is policy compliant, it may be necessary for an administrator to delete the page. The deleting administrator should be willing to explain the action, by e-mail if the material is sensitive. Those who object to the deletion should bear in mind that the deleting admin may be aware of issues that others are not. Disputes may be taken to deletion review, but protracted public discussion should be avoided for deletions involving sensitive personal material about living persons, particularly if it is negative. AfD and deletion review discussions may be courtesy blanked upon conclusion. After deletion, any administrator may choose to protect the article against recreation. Any policy-compliant material can be merged as appropriate into another relevant article, but anything merged in this way must comply with Wikipedia's licensing requirements; see Help:Merging#Performing the merger.

Where the concern is simply that the subject is borderline notable or has requested deletion, the issue should be addressed through normal deletion discussions.

I'm happy to discuss a compromise version, but please let's not rewrite history. The version before the copy edit did mention summary deletion (see the sentence in bold). Here are the two versions side by side:

January 2010 and earlier (bold added) March 2010
Biographical material about a living individual that is not compliant with this policy should be improved and rectified; if this is not possible, then it should be removed. If the entire page is substantially of poor quality, primarily containing contentious material that is unsourced or poorly sourced, then it may be necessary to delete the entire page as an initial step, followed by discussion.

Page deletion is normally a last resort. If a dispute centers around a page's inclusion (e.g., due to questionable notability or if the subject has requested deletion) then this is addressed via deletion discussions rather than by summary deletion. Summary deletion in part or whole is relevant when the page contains unsourced negative material or is written non-neutrally, and when this cannot readily be rewritten or restored to a version of an acceptable standard.

The deleting administrator should be prepared to explain the action to others, by e-mail if the material is sensitive. Those who object to the deletion should bear in mind that the deleting admin may be aware of issues that others are not. Disputes may be taken to deletion review, but protracted public discussion should be avoided for deletions involving sensitive personal material about living persons, particularly if it is negative. Such debates may be courtesy blanked upon conclusion.

After the deletion of a biography of a living person, any administrator may choose to protect it against recreation. [30]

While a strategy of eventualism may apply to other subject areas, badly written BLPs should be stubbed or deleted. If the page's primary content is contentious material that is unsourced or poorly sourced; there is no obvious way to fix it; and there is no previous version of the page that is policy compliant, it may be necessary for an administrator to delete the page. The deleting administrator should be willing to explain the action, by e-mail if the material is sensitive. Those who object to the deletion should bear in mind that the deleting admin may be aware of issues that others are not. Disputes may be taken to deletion review, but protracted public discussion should be avoided for deletions involving sensitive personal material about living persons, particularly if it is negative. AfD and deletion review discussions may be courtesy blanked upon conclusion.[1] After deletion, any administrator may choose to protect the article against recreation. Any policy-compliant material can be merged as appropriate into another relevant article, but anything merged in this way must comply with Wikipedia's licensing requirements; see Help:Merging#Performing the merger.

Where the concern is simply that the subject is borderline notable or has requested deletion, the issue should be discussed in the normal way, rather than addressed by summary deletion.

My preference is the March version, simply because it's tighter, and so far as I can tell, it says the same thing. SlimVirgin talk contribs 21:24, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

I looked back through the history to find when the issue of admin deletion discretion was first added. It was in May 2006 by UninvitedCompany, after discussion, who added: "While a strategy of eventualism applies to some other subject areas, where a weak article is seen as a starting point, badly written biographies should not be written and when found, should be stubbed or deleted." [31] It was backed up by ArbCom in the "summary deletion" provision of badlydrawnjeff in July 2007: "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." [32]
Given that the text has withstood multiple copy edits over the last four years, and that it's been supported by ArbCom, I wouldn't want to see us weaken it without a very clear consensus beyond this page. SlimVirgin talk contribs 22:28, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
I fully support the earlier verbiage of "Summary deletion in part or whole is relevant when the page contains unsourced negative material or is written non-neutrally, and when this cannot readily be rewritten or restored to a version of an acceptable standard." Lets go with that. Gigs (talk) 22:38, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
January version has been restored. Gigs (talk) 22:43, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

WP:GRAPEVINE

I checked the places where WP:GRAPEVINE is cited... and pretty much none of them refer to it in the sense of "avoiding feedback loops", they refer to it regarding "Remove unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material". There's a whole lot of incoming links there. While I get the reason why it was moved (because it seems to make more sense there), I think we might want to move it back. What do you all think? Gigs (talk) 18:13, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

Makes sense to me. Maurreen (talk) 21:19, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
I've been thinking about this, might it be best to "deprecate" the shortcut by hiding it but still making it land on "remove contentious"? Gigs (talk) 01:06, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
That's an even better idea. Maurreen (talk) 03:44, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

Discussion on the usage of "Turkmen" and "Turkmenistani" on categories and templates

Please refer to Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Countries#Turkmen or Turkmenistani? for further discussion. Thanks. Arteyu ? Blame it on me ! 19:46, 10 April 2010 (UTC)

Written by the enemy

There is a saying "Don't discuss politics or religion at a dinner party" because of the polarising nature of the subjects. The fact that these two subjects are the cause of the vast majority of world conflicts is proof enough. Couple that fact with the fact that a many universities, newspapers and publishing houses are funded and/or guided by a particular religion or political philosophy and you can see that such sources, whilst fundamentally "reliable" on many subjects, are inherently biased when discussing other religions or political philosophies. This is particularly relevant in BLPs. For examples - what the Arab press says about Israelis and vice versa; what the "The Washington Times" (founded by Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon) says about other religious leaders or Democratic politicians; or Tyndale House Publishers says about non-Christians. So I suggest replacing this sentence in the "Criticism and Praise" section of BLP - "Beware of claims that rely on guilt by association, and look out for biased or malicious content" with this one (or something similar) ""Beware of claims that rely on guilt by association and be careful of using "facts" sourced from publishers who are aligned to a different philosophy from the subject of the article, and avoid using "opinions" from such sources unless supported by other independent sources".Momento (talk) 22:03, 10 April 2010 (UTC)

Stronger wording would just lead to more arguments about bias. Is the New York Times too liberal to be believed if it runs a story on a republican? Gigs (talk) 15:43, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
No doubt people will argue that all sources have some bias, whether known or not. But I want to draw attention to the most obvious cases, where the publisher has an overwhelming bias and yet is considered (by some) to be a reliable source. For example, Tyndale House Publishers (mentioned above) published a book called "Larson's book of cults" (Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 0-8423-2104-7). Tyndale House, whose profits go "to spread the Good News of Christ around the world", is clearly biased in favour of promoting Christianity. The author, Bob Larson is an evangelist who performed exorcisms of callers to his radio program. Clearly Larson's opinion would not be allowed in a BLP if Larson's book was self published but the fact that it is published by Tyndale House allows editors to insert his, predictably negative, opinion of a non-Christian in a BLP. My suggestion would mean that Larson's opinion, being "sourced from a publisher who is aligned to a different philosophy from the subject of the article" should be avoided.Momento (talk) 21:20, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
This would represent a drastic change in our sourcing policies and would lead to numerous disputes over which philosophy sources and subjects belong to. I hope this proposal isn't being made with an agenda.   Will Beback  talk  19:34, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
It's not a drastic change, it's an attempt to draw attention to the issue of systemic, and preventable, bias. And if my wording was accepted there would be an end "to numerous disputes over which philosophy sources and subjects belong to". It would be simple - the opinion of an evangelical Christian exorcist writing in a book published by a company established to promote Christianity should not be used in a BLP about a person notable for being a non-Christian because it is clearly "sourced from a publisher who is aligned to a different philosophy from the subject of the article, and using "opinions" from such sources should be avoided". There is no need to have a "dispute over which philosophy sources and subjects belong to". It is all there in black and white - you check the author and check the publisher = evangelical Christians. Check the subject of the BLP = notable non-Christian. Equals don't use it, use a neutral source, and if there isn't one for the claim it shouldn't be used in the first place. How would you phrase it so that such a source would not be used in a BLP, since the current wording is obviously inadequate.Momento (talk) 22:44, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
That proposal is entirely contrary to the spirit and letter of WP:NPOV. By extension, to use an example from American politics, no Republican source could be used for a Democratic subject. The US was the enemy of the USSR for decades, so presumably no American sources could be used for Soviet biographies. It's an absurd proposal, and it's hard to believe it's unconnected to the editing of Prem Rawat.   Will Beback  talk  23:21, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
NPOV says "Good and unbiased research, based upon the best and most reputable authoritative sources available, helps prevent NPOV disagreements". Here I am giving a guideline as to what might NOT be "the best and most reputable authoritative source available". And please note that I wrote "Beware of claims that rely on guilt by association and be careful of using "facts" sourced from publishers who are aligned to a different philosophy from the subject of the article, and avoid using "opinions" from such sources unless supported by other independent sources". At no point did I say or suggest that a source couldn't be used as you claimed above. You can use "facts" from any source but NPOV suggests using "the best and most reputable authoritative sources available". A "fact" from a neutral US publisher about a Russian ballet dancer would be fine because ballet is not a philosophy and the publisher has no known philosophical difference with the dancer. However if the BLP is about Fidel Castro, it is better to attribute the "fact" to "the best and most reputable authoritative sources available" rather than from a right wing publisher since Castro is noted for being a communist and the publishers are known for being right wing and the "fact" being "a piece of information about which there is no serious dispute" should be available from a "better" source. However if the material is an "opinion" about Castro and it comes from a known right wing publisher, you should avoid using it unless it is supported by other independent sources". And then credit the "opinion" to "the best and most reputable authoritative source available (which helps prevent NPOV disagreements)". The opinion of a radio evangelist, who exorcizes listeners over the air, that are published by an Christian outreach company about a person noted for being a non-Christian doesn't inspire confidence in Wikipedia as a serious encyclopedia. If a "fact" or an "opinion" is worth including, it's worth using "the best and most reputable authoritative sources available" as per NPOV.Momento (talk) 12:47, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Do you think that official Cuban government sources are unbiased about Castro? To be fair and neutral, this proposal should apply to both sympathetic and unsympathetic sources, as there's potential bias on both sides.   Will Beback  talk  21:33, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes, it should apply to both "Praise and Criticism". Use "the best and most reputable authoritative sources available" but since we're talking about BLP policy extra care should be taken about criticism.Momento (talk) 22:10, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
You keep mentioning Larson as an example. Is there some specific fact that we're using him as the source for in a BLP that's biased? Or is this proposal just based on a hypothetical problem that doesn' exist in any current article?   Will Beback  talk  22:47, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Bob Larson doesn't say anything that hasn't been said by others but he and his publisher seem a very poor source for anything about religion since they are very extreme and obviously biased in favour of evangelical Christianity. I'm sure a "more reputable authoritative source is available" and we should encourage that in BLPs.Momento (talk) 00:51, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
If it's a general sourcing issue covered by existing polcies then I don't see why we'd need to change the policy.   Will Beback  talk  03:01, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Agree w/Will Beback's comments and rationale in this string.--Epeefleche (talk) 06:07, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
The current policies don't say enough if someone like Larson can be used as one of the "best and most reputable authoritative sources available".Momento (talk) 06:40, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
Again, is there a specific problem or is this just a hypothetical problem?   Will Beback  talk  06:46, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't think I can be more specific. You either think a tele evangelist who exorcises people over the air is a "reputable authoritative source" about religious matters or you don't? I think his views are extreme, he doesn't have any academic credentials and he is inherently biased. Maybe I'm possessed. Luckily Bob can help, his website says "DO YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAVE A DEMON?ARE YOU EXPERIENCING SOME KIND OF DEMONIC ATTACK? You can schedule PERSONAL PRAYER time with BOB LARSON while he's in a city near you". Perhaps someone else can think of a way to ensure that such sources aren't used in BLPs.Momento (talk) 07:23, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
You were originally concerned just with using an evangelical Christian as a source for a BLP about a non-Christian, now you seem to be saying that Larson is not a reliable source for anything, in part because he offers prayer meetings and performs exorcisms. The Catholic Church holds prayer meetings and performs exorcisms too, so does that make them unreliable? Since you haven't offered any evidence that there's an actual problem in an actual biography, this proposal seems to be aimed at solving a problem that hasn't been shown to exist.   Will Beback  talk  19:44, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
It is clear you are more interested in distorting my comments than trying to advance Wiki policy. As the first line of my previous post says in black and white and crystal clear English, I am questioning whether he is "reputable authoritative source about religious matters". I can't be bothered continuing under these circumstances but since you asked, yes I would doubt whether a Roman Catholic exorcist writing for a church owned publisher about a doctor who has performed abortions would be "the best and most reputable authoritative source" for that doctor's BLP since both the author and the publisher believe abortion is a crime and anyone who performs one is going to spend eternity in flames. And if the material is only the author's opinion of the doctor (not a fact) it should be avoided unless it is widely help by other independent sources.Momento (talk) 22:19, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
This discussion isn't tethered to any specifics. You haven't listed even a single BLP article in which the inclusion of Larson as a source is a problem.
As for the general issue, Wikipedia needs to include all significant points of view, even those of enemies. If we want to cover how opponents to abortion have characterized an abortion doctor, then a publication by an opponent may be a suitable source, if only to show that there is opposition. However they might not be the best source for how many abortions the doctor has performed. It depends on how the source is being used. Without specifics we're just talking in circles.   Will Beback  talk  22:32, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
As usual no admission from you that you distorted my position. Goodbye.Momento (talk) 23:12, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
I probably did distort your position because I don't understand it. If you could give some specific examples of the problem then it'd be easier to understand it and to craft a solution.   Will Beback  talk  23:23, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

Pace of changes

Just FYI, WP:BLP has had 250 changes from 13:41 on 14 February through 01:26 on 18 April.

The previous set of 250 changes was from 08:42 on 2 July though 23:53 on 6 February. Maurreen (talk) 05:42, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Why the US and just what are these laws?

The opening paragraph of this project states "Such material requires a high degree of sensitivity, and must adhere strictly to all applicable laws in the United States, ..."

Firstly why the United States? Secondly, what are the "applicable laws" that must be strictly adhered to? The very long project page would appear not to mention them at all. If it is assumed that they are widely known, perhaps the people who do know could provide more information for the millions of contributors to wikipedia that are not from the US and are not bound by such US laws.

Mu2 23:11, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

IANAL, but the laws of the country hosting the servers are the controlling ones regarding libel. And if you use the highest quality sources and stick very closely to WP:BLP, WP:V, WP:NOR and WP:NPOV, you'd be fine. The bottom line BLP rule is simple: if in doubt, leave it out. Crum375 (talk) 23:16, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

Misuse of Primary Sources

Following up on my last request for some clarifying changes, here's another section that appears to be confusing people. Here are the first two current sentences of the Primary sources section

Exercise caution in using primary sources. Do not use public records that include personal details—such as date of birth, home value, traffic citations, vehicle registrations, and home or business addresses—or trial transcripts and other court records or public documents, unless a reliable secondary source has published the material.

Two editors seem to understand this section as aimed at the revelation of personal details only.[33][34][35][36] They are arguing that using court records etc is fine as long as no such personal details are in them. e.g. "Though the paragraph is mangled, it is clear the concern is over revealing date of birth, home value, traffic citations, vehicle registrations, and home or business addresses" I believe that the policy's meaning is clear, but it may not be not as clear as it could be. How about this instead:

Exercise caution in using primary sources. Do not use public records that include personal details (such as date of birth, home value, traffic citations, vehicle registrations, and home or business addresses), trial transcripts and other court records, or public documents, unless a reliable secondary source has published the material.

I personally think the dashes are elegant, but maybe parentheses and commas are more easily understood. Maybe others would have better formulations, as I've struggled a bit here... I wonder if it would be clearer if the examples of the "personal details" were placed in a footnote for example. Comments? --Slp1 (talk) 00:30, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

I read over the FAC that spawned this request. You are reading the policy very incorrectly. It was never intended to prevent citing high profile primary sources when relevant. It's about doing things like looking up Bill Gates' speeding tickets and then adding information on them to his article, even though no secondary source had taken notice of the tickets. It's not intended to prevent the citation of primary sources associated with high profile accusations and court filings. Gigs (talk) 15:39, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
If that's the case, and this section only refers to minor things like speeding tickets, then that needs to be clarified in the policy. However, I'm not convinced, based on the opinions of other editors that I have read over the years about this matter. And just to be clear, though, I am not suggesting that primary source court documents be "prevented" from being used, just that, as the policy currently suggests (to me at least!), they should support points that secondary sources have reported on. So yes, if a speeding ticket was issued, but nobody noticed, that is clearly inappropriate. But primary sources can also be misused in a higher profile case, by delving into the court transcripts and selectively quoting someone's testimony/indictment to make the person look guilty or innocent or whatever, including information that no other reliable source has chosen to report on. The dangers of synthesis and giving undue weight are very high if people have free rein in BLPs to quote whatever they like from court documents, even if the trial itself has been mentioned in the media.
In the case of the FAC that spawns this suggestion, there are many secondary sources that could be used to replace/support the primary sources. BLP says elsewhere "Articles should document in a non-partisan manner what reliable secondary sources have published about the subject". Featured articles need to reflect this requirement to use high quality sourcing. And as a practical example of possible misuse, note that no defense documents are cited, and material from prosecution documents is frequently presented as "fact" (or at least they were until I and the nominator did some work on better attribution etc!)
I would be glad of the opinion of others on this. If I am misinterpreting this section it's important to know it. --Slp1 (talk) 17:01, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
I haven't looked at the FAC or the other links here, but it is incorrect to say that the caution against using primary sources in BLP cases only refers to minor things like traffic tickets. The problem with primary sources is that they lack perspective, and are therefore very easy to abuse, intentionally or not. Selectivity is one danger: we can pick out or highlight one part of a primary source over another, or even one primary source over another, thereby possibly distorting the picture in a POV, or simply mistaken, direction. Another danger is misinterpretation: since primary sources typically lack a top-level view of the subject, it's easy to misunderstand what they actually say. We need to use secondary sources wherever possible to give us that perspective, esp. in BLP cases, and if we do use primary sources, for major or minor items, they should be used with great care, in support of the secondary sources. Crum375 (talk) 17:19, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
To be clear the "only applies to minor things" was not what I was saying, that's some straw man Slp1 created. If the article represented defense or prosecution assertions as fact, then that's an abuse of any source, primary, secondary, or otherwise. Gigs (talk) 19:03, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
I apologize that I have misrepresented your position. It was unintentional. --Slp1 (talk) 21:00, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
The problem with primary sources is not "asserting them as facts", since we can always use in-text attribution for any source, e.g. "X says Y." The problem with primary sources is that they are very easy to abuse or misuse, as I noted above, much more than secondary sources. The main reason is that primary sources typically lack sufficient (or any) built-in perspective or context. This vacuum tends to "invite" the addition of the needed perspective by Wikipedia editors, which often ends up being WP:OR, which is especially problematic in BLP cases. This is why we insist on basing articles on secondary sources, and using primary sources only to add details and support the secondary ones. Crum375 (talk) 19:35, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I'm sorry if I muddied the discussion with the issue of attribution, which isn't by an stretch the most important primary misuse problem (though I suspect using them may increase the risk that this occurs). Otherwise, I think Crum375 has done an excellent summing up of how I have always understood the issue. I'm sure we've all seen quote farms where primary sources have been collected together to prove what a wretched person X is. Using court documents carries exactly the same risk of POV, OR research. It's not that they can't be used, but if they are, they should be in a supportive role to points mentioned by secondary sources. --Slp1 (talk) 21:00, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Just to follow up on what Gigs said, though I'm not sure I understood his post. We're not supposed to use primary sources except to augment secondary ones, when it comes to living persons. So you couldn't go searching around to find out whether someone famous had been married before, for example, unless a secondary source had mentioned it. SlimVirgin talk contribs 21:04, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Both SV and Gigs have given similar examples: where somebody goes digging for information (about the existence of a speeding ticket/marriage) in primary sources that has not been mentioned in secondary ones. My understanding would be that this section goes beyond this however. Though I may be wrong, of course, and will be happy to be corrected. My understanding is that even if the court case has been mentioned in secondary sources, we should typically stick to the information mentioned in the secondary source, (and cite it by preference), and that we should generally not delve into the original court documents to find additional details. For example, it would be okay to write that X was divorced on such and such a day (cited to the newspaper); but not to find the court documents, discover that it was because he was accused of having affairs with pole dancers, and then include that information to the article (cited to the court transcript). In other words, does having had media attention on a court case mean that the primary source court documents are now open and fully useable as sources, or should we still be typically using (and citing) the available secondary sources, using primary sources mainly for support and clarification? --Slp1 (talk) 21:41, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
(ec) Yes, that's right, though the chances of a secondary source mentioning the divorce without mentioning the pole dancers are slim to zero, so it's not an issue that arises much. I think strengthening it to rule out entirely that we might extend coverage with primary sources would meet resistance. But extreme caution is definitely advised, and we should almost always just stick to what the media reports. SlimVirgin talk contribs 21:45, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Mmm. I suspect you are right about the poledancers!! However, I think similar cases do happen fairly often. A concrete example is the Robert Latimer page where in 2008 an editor wanted to use large chunks of a doctor's trial testimony supportive of his view of the case. I and User:Nil Einne argued pretty much exactly your and Crum's points above on the talkpage. My view is that something similar is happening at Aafia Siddiqui and related BLP articles, where large chunks are/were sourced solely to court documents (indictments, testimony etc), and where the editors argue that primary sources are the best to use.
Which is where I came in. I am not wanting to strengthen this section at all. I think the content is fine how it is. However some rephrasing might be in order, because the current organization and details about "date of birth, home value, traffic citation etc etc", appears to have led some editors to think that the issue here is the release of private information, and that as long as court documents (for example) don't divulge dates of birth etc, they are fine to use. I made a suggestion for some punctuation changes above which I think would help clarify things above. I'd been glad of any comments and of course any better suggestions. --Slp1 (talk) 23:12, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
I have no problem using brackets instead of dashes, if you think that'll help, but I wonder if it will be enough. SlimVirgin talk contribs 23:17, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
I added the brackets. [37] SlimVirgin talk contribs 23:29, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Slp1's opinion and SV's inclusion of brackets. Wiki is an encyclopedia not an investigative journal. Material in primary documents should hardly ever be used because, unless the editor includes the whole document in the article, the editor is selectively quoting from the document to illustrate a POV that the editor feels is not sufficiently covered by reliable secondary sources and that is not editing from a NPOV.Momento (talk) 00:28, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes, and furthermore, it's not only that the editor selectively highlights "juicy" bits within one primary document and excludes others, he is also picking one primary document to exclude (presumably) many others in the BLP subject's life. Both acts of selection, assuming no secondary source to back them up, violate WP:NOR, and likely WP:NPOV and WP:UNDUE, because it is this editor's personal and original idea that these selected pieces are relevant and important to the subject's notability and others are not. In BLP articles, we need secondary sources not only to interpret primary ones for us, but also to tell us that they matter and put them in perspective. Crum375 (talk) 00:40, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Random break

  • The current policy is in no need of changing. I disagree with Momento’s characterization that editors will selectively pick & choose from primary sources and that somehow makes searching around for something to quote out of Readers Digest or some other secondary source preferable. Editors have in the past / can presently / will in the future pick & choose selectively no matter what the source; of that, you can be certain. Clearly, primary sources can be—but not always—more expansive than other sources, but Newsweek articles that haven an in-depth treatment of a subject (think: a Special Feature on Osama bin Laden) can be far more expansive than primary sources. Take the example of the Sealed Complaint against Aafia Siddiqui, it is plenty short. But, most important of all, the actual complaint is far more authoritative of a source to quote from than are secondary sources.

    Note also, that editors—and even admins like Slp1—can misquote anything, even our own guidelines. For she took a guideline that read like this at that time:

Exercise caution in using primary sources. Do not use public records that include personal details—such as date of birth, home value, traffic citations, vehicle registrations, and home or business addresses—or trial transcripts and other court records or public documents, unless a reliable secondary source has published the material. Where primary-source material was first published by a reliable secondary source, it may be acceptable to turn to open records to augment the secondary source, subject to the no original research policy.

…and wrote here that it said this: You'll also note, looking at BLP policy that for BLPs, that we "Do not use .... court records or public documents" as sole sources. Compare her *paraphrasing* of what it said, with that cute “as sole sources” appended to the end of the quoted text, to what the paragraph really says. So misquoting stuff can occur on absolutely anything. In this case, we’re talking about an experienced Admin doing this.
I also think it unbecoming for her to have come here to pitch for her pet issue without having notified the other two editors active in that discussion that she had started what amounted to an RfC on this policy. Between that stunt, and the fact that she chose to title this section “Misuse of Primary Sources”, perhaps “Sneaking around and rallying to get my way” might have been more apt. Greg L (talk) 02:15, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't see a difference between the policy and Slp1's paraphrasing of it, Greg. SlimVirgin talk contribs 02:09, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
The guideline isn’t all that well written, but it is attempting to convey this: Be careful when citing public records that include personal details. You wouldn’t want to use them if they contain personal information like home phone numbers or someone’s business addresses unless that information has already been released into the public domain by newspapers and magazines. Greg L (talk) 02:15, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
No, your paraphrasing is wrong. It incorrectly focuses on identity theft aspects, while ignoring the main issue of using a primary source as a sole source for BLP, which is generally prohibited. I think Slp1's paraphrasing is more to the point. Crum375 (talk) 02:23, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
(ec) It doesn't say or imply that, Greg. It says that primary-source material can't be used unless secondary sources have already discussed the contents of the primary sources. An example: We have an article about you that explains how you're a well-known historian who has just won a major academic prize. I don't like you for some reason, and I recall that nasty business with your neighbour some years ago, which none of the newspapers have noticed. So I track down the court records, and I publish a summary on Wikipedia, how you trashed your neighbour's car after a dispute over the height of a garden fence, how you punched a family friend who tried to stop you, how the police found you shortly afterwards lying drunk in a puddle without your trousers.

Without this policy and the similar advice in NOR, there'd be nothing you could do to stop me because the material is indeed sourced. This is why we insist on using secondary sources. If no newspaper has seen fit to publish that about you, we don't see fit either. :) SlimVirgin talk contribs 02:31, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Quoting Crum375: …while ignoring the main issue of using a primary source as a sole source for BLP, which is generally prohibited. Where is that written? Greg L (talk) 02:35, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
WP:BLP: "Do not use public records that include personal details (such as date of birth, home value, traffic citations, vehicle registrations, and home or business addresses) or trial transcripts and other court records, or other public documents, unless a reliable secondary source has published the material. Where primary-source material was first published by a reliable secondary source, it may be acceptable to turn to open records to augment the secondary source, subject to the no original research policy." SlimVirgin talk contribs 02:40, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

I've split the key sentence into two, and reversed the order, to make clearer that we're not only talking about phone numbers etc:

Exercise caution in using primary sources. Do not use trial transcripts and other court records, or other public documents, unless a reliable secondary source has published the material. Do not use public records that include personal details, such as date of birth, home value, traffic citations, vehicle registrations, and home or business addresses. Where primary-source material was first published by a reliable secondary source, it may be acceptable to turn to open records to augment the secondary source, subject to the no original research policy.

SlimVirgin talk contribs 02:48, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

  • Such a rabid aversion to official documents is wholly unnecessary and unwise. There is clearly no need for such a radical change in policy as to eschew primary sources. It would relegate us to looking to Vogue magazine for germane information that will likely not be there. This is all that is required:

Exercise caution in using primary sources like trial transcripts and other court records or public documents. Do not use those that include personal details like date of birth, home value, traffic citations, vehicle registrations, and home or business addresses unless a reliable secondary source has already published the material. Where primary-source material was first published by a reliable secondary source, it may be acceptable to turn to open records to augment the secondary source, subject to the no original research policy.

Greg L (talk) 02:53, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
That's not a radical change; it's what the policy said before, but it wasn't clear enough. I can find some diffs for you if you like where Jimbo has made this very clear in the past. Not that he dictates policy, but he did help to shape this one. SlimVirgin talk contribs 02:58, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Uhm hmm. Says you. Seems clear enough to me. You say it wasn’t clear and when it is made clear by you it means what you think it means. Though convenient, that isn’t entirely right. If we can’t even agree on what the current wording means, then I think we need a widely advertised RfC on something as fundamental as when and where to rely upon primary sources (the most authoritative kind). And while we’re at it, we can also address special circumstances, such as notable public figures of infamy like Osama bin Laden, who is in an altogether different camp from Senator Byrd and may merit specific treatments. Greg L (talk) 03:00, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Greg, your proposed version would allow, for example, digging up "dirt" about a subject in an obscure court record by a Wikipedian and adding it to his BLP article. This conflicts with our longstanding policy of not basing BLP material on primary sources except to augment secondary ones. And BTW, as distasteful as it may seem, we treat the bin Laden BLP with the same care as the Byrd one. Crum375 (talk) 03:04, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Just as an example, I found one diff of Jimbo removing material based on a lawsuit from a BLP because it had not been covered by reliable sources. [38] This has been the position for a long time on WP, even before it was written into policy. SlimVirgin talk contribs 03:07, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
  • You, Crum375, keep on employing that ol’ self-referential debate stunt where you wrap some statement in Truth, Justice, and the Wikipedian Way®©™ and write stuff like This conflicts with our longstanding policy of not basing BLP material on primary sources except to augment secondary ones. Well, what you are saying conflicts with our longstanding policy of citing reliable sources. See? Again, you are attempting to buttress a position that is supported only by a guideline that is poorly written and ambiguous. As I wrote above, it is time for a widely advertised RfC on this, since something as important as quoting from reliable sources must be established by community consensus after it receives wider input than three Wikipedians who are the only ones eager to discuss things at this hour.

    And to you, SlimVirgin, Jimbo does not a consensus make. He, more than anyone, holds “community consensus” on the alter of The Right Thing (with a capital R). It’s late here. I’m done for the evening. Arguing with two editors results in too many ECs. Goodnight. Greg L (talk) 03:13, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Jimbo doesn't dictate consensus, but he reflects it, and I can tell you that this issue has been widely discussed and agreed, on WP and on the English WP mailing list. No one wants to see people with agendas publishing original court documents on WP for the world to read, in order to blacken the names of living people. SlimVirgin talk contribs 03:17, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps. Not always. Moreover, consensus can change; particularly when someone like Slp1 tries to take a guideline and misapply it in an unforeseen direction. I think it is clear from WP:COMMONSENSE that notable public figures of world-class infamy necessarily have to be treated differently because quoting from CIA transcripts and official government documents is much preferred to digging something out of Seventeen magazine (which might also mention that Osama bin Laden has minty fresh breath in the morning). Again, we need an RfC due to the importance of this issue. It will not be solved by we three. Greg L (talk) 03:27, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Can you say what the particular issue is that you brought you here? The reason I ask is that applying the policies carefully almost always suggests a common sense solution, so if it doesn't in this case it would be good to know that. SlimVirgin talk contribs 12:30, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Greg, WP:BLP and WP:PSTS are policies, not "guidelines", and they say that we can't base articles on primary sources except to augment secondary ones. I mentioned that it's longstanding because it's more than just the written words, it's how the site operates. Crum375 (talk) 03:21, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Repeating a mantra does not make it true. Goodbye to you. Greg L (talk) 03:27, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Luckily truth is not required in WP ;). Seriously, though, just because myriads of editors are not jumping to Crum & SlimVirgin's defence does not mean there is support for your viewpoint that primary sources are ok to use whenever we would like. See WP:PSTS, and WP:V. Using primary sources separately from secondary sources is WP:OR. Leave the research to the media and scholars, and merely report what they say in a balanced manner. That is the only way to get neutrality, because primary sources are open to interpretation, and do not present a balanced view of the subject. —Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 05:20, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Using primary sources is not always original research. Thousands of media-related articles use the media they are about as a primary source, and no one has a problem with it. Gigs (talk) 12:22, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Crum, you are also wrong, primary sources are used constantly on their own. Peer reviewed academic journal articles are primary sources. Good luck telling people they need to limit themselves to pop-sci news articles instead of journals. Gigs (talk) 12:44, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Gigs, the policy doesn't say never use a primary source: "Exercise caution in using primary sources. Do not use trial transcripts and other court records, or other public documents, unless a reliable secondary source has published the material. Do not use public records that include personal details, such as date of birth, home value, traffic citations, vehicle registrations, and home or business addresses." SlimVirgin talk contribs 12:53, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Right. What the policies say and what is being represented here seems to be disconnected. I think we all agree that the spirit of this is to prevent people "digging up dirt" in primary sources that hasn't attracted any secondary source attention, and also to protect otherwise unpublished personal information. Lets not go overboard with extrapolations. Gigs (talk) 13:00, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Agree with SV's change of emphasis. Removed "first" from "first published" because it is redundant. And rejected Greg L's "covered" because it is meaningless.Momento (talk) 14:05, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Greg didn't make that edit, I did. See the section below. Gigs (talk) 14:18, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
FWIW, there is absolutely no question that the only sane interpretation of the policy is that we can't base articles on primary sources except to support material already in secondary sources. This isn't just a question of wording, but a longstanding principle borne out of NOR— and now all the more strengthened for BLPs given the explicit mandate by the foundation to consider respect and decency towards biography subjects. SlimVirgin's rewording properly reflects this. — Coren (talk) 14:38, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
The main issue is that editors classify sources as primary at their leisure. Editors here do not classify sources as primary according to recognized scientific knowledge, but according to their own knowledge framework. There is no sense to debate policies if a group with biased thoughts judges others policies violation. Usually a small group of editors choose which is a reliable source to a subject and judges NPOV according to their own POV. WP has not NPOV, although it has NPOV policy, just because usually a small group of editors assumes the ownership of some articles. Each WP article is a POV of a small group of editors interested in the subject, although many have shallow scientific knowledge of them. WP editors indeed make OR, although WP has a NOR policy. Many articles are OR of a small group of editors that have a consensus. There is not such a thing as NPOV in WP; POV is ever of a group of editors that repeals other editor's contribution with a different POV, as Crum, for instance, do all the time. We can verify that all articles that he contributes to, he doesn't allow other contributions, and revert all other POVs. All articles that he participates as an editor are his personal articles; they could even be signed; they may be named CrumPedia articles. Sdruvss (talk) 01:57, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Published vs covered

[39] Surely a secondary source merely republishing a primary source is not our intent. Gigs (talk) 14:18, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Thank you for that correction (apologies to GregL). And "a secondary source merely republishing" is exactly my intent. A reliable source may "cover" a divorce but unless they "publish" the exact text of a primary source it shouldn't be used.Momento (talk) 14:25, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
That's a strange interpretation, and I don't think it reflects the intention of the policy. Gigs (talk) 14:26, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
That's... a stretch. It's certainly not the intent; otherwise there would be absolutely no point in referring to the primary source at all (and it's clear that this would be nonsensical). — Coren (talk) 14:42, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Gigs, the intention of the policy should be that material used in an article should be "published" by a reliable source, not just that the event or situation was "covered" by a reliable source. Numerous news organisations have "covered" Michael Jackson's death but unless a reliable source has "published" the contents of a police or coroner's report, we shouldn't include an excerpt in an article about MJ.Momento (talk) 14:50, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Primary sources are often the most reliable sources. The main relevant issue here is that they sometimes contain obscure information that may not be widely known. We should not effectively become the original publisher of this information. Trying to use this policy to prevent the citation of high profile court documents about a case that has attracted major nationwide media attention is not what this policy is about. If the primary sources are being cited in a way that is cherry picking or includes original analysis, then that's improper as per WP:NOR and should be rectified, but it has little direct bearing on this policy. Gigs (talk) 15:00, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
On the contrary, primary sources are notoriously unreliable. Eye witness reports of a robbery are regularly contradictory. And court documents where people are disputing civil or criminal proceedings are, by their nature, contradictory. Theoretically, a reliable secondary source reporting on a robbery or a court case will summarise the various viewpoints and provide its readers/viewers with an objective and accurate synopsis. At the very least they will not say "X shot Y" as an eye witness might say in a court document but rather "F said that X shot Y".Momento (talk) 15:22, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
I think we are getting derailed. "Published" has unintended consequences. Does Wikileaks or Smoking Gun publishing a copy of a primary source make it suddenly admissible? If no, then we want to say "covered" not merely "published". Like Coren points out "coverage" is already part of our policy lexicon, I don't think it's vague. Gigs (talk) 15:23, 15 April 2010 (UTC)'
If a secondary source covers the existence of a primary source, it's reasonable to include a courtesy / external link, media file, etc., to that primary source, barring any particular reason to the contrary (if it is an attack site, for example, or discloses private information about living people). For example, if a Wikipedia article contains a sourced description of a YouTube viral video and it's relevant to the subject of the article, we can include a link to that video if consistent with our copyvio / nonfree rules. But we can't use the primary source to stand for more than it does, meaning no original research, opinion, analysis of the primary source unless that's covered in a reliable way in the secondary source. That's true whether or not the secondary source republishes the primary source. Whether a newspaper merely describes a video, contains a link to it on YouTube, or hosts on its web server, the newspaper is not vouching for the accuracy of the facts asserted in the primary source, it is just allowing readers to see for themselves as a courtesy. The primary source cannot verify facts in the article that are not verified in the secondary source, because there is no fact-checking, analysis, no staking of the reputation of the secondary source on the accuracy of the contents. We aren't supposed to say "in the video hosted on the CNN site, so-and-so was doing X" based on watching it. It has to be in the source. A classic case where this arises is in a news report of a lawsuit, criminal case, government report or finding, etc. The newspaper will say "federal officials filed a criminal complaint charging so-and-so with X". That verifies that federal officials did indeed file the complaint containing the charge. But we can't look at the complaint and say "so-and-so is suspected of X" (or did X), because that is from the primary source, not the secondary source. I hope that's clear. - Wikidemon (talk) 16:23, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
That's not quite correct Wikidemon. Keep in mind that peer reviewed journal articles are primary sources. As well, it's entirely fine to watch a film and then develop a plot synopsis based on the primary source, nearly every one of our articles on film and TV does. Another example: a written work of fiction is the most authoritative source for the spelling of a character's name. In your court/news example, it would be fine to look at the court document to get the particular statute that the person was charged under, even if the news article just said "gun charges", without specifying a particular statute. Reporting facts from authoritative primary sources is not forbidden, we do it constantly. Gigs (talk) 16:31, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Well, it goes to show you the danger of generalizing. I hadn't considered peer-reviewed journals, or some other special cases. Plot summaries are an exception to our usual sourcing standards. You'll note that I was talking about describing what a subject is doing in a video based on watching it (Paris Hilton unzipped...), not a plot detail (Spiderman jumped from the...). In specific topic areas (e.g. law, mathematics, medicine, science, sports) presumably expert editors are often allowed to create content that could otherwise be considered original research, synthesis, etc. You have to know the subject area to know what is a credible fact and what is not. - Wikidemon (talk) 17:02, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

I'm breaking off GregL's comment and subsequent into a new section. Wikidemon, do you support changing it to "covered"? I note that you yourself talked about secondary sources covering primary ones, rather than re-publishing. Gigs (talk) 18:03, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

I've changed it to "discussed". "Covered" is vague", and "published" makes no sense (if material is published in a secondary source then it's no long a primary source). The point of this exception is to allow illustrative details or quotations from a primary source. Gigs gave a perfect example above" a secondary source may say someone was indicted on "gun charges" and it's acceptable to check that indictment to see the precise statutes that were allegedly violated. So long as the primary source is reliable, it shouldn't be necessary for the text to have actually been published in a secondary source.   Will Beback  talk  19:41, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Relative privacy

  • Momento, you’re confusing Avoid self-published sources with primary sources (court transcripts and indictment papers). The former are often unreliable. The latter seldom are. Your point about civil papers being a contest between opposing parties with back & forth allegations (not a summary of fact) is a valid one and means that needs separate treatment.

    I agree with Gigs; Primary sources are often the most reliable sources. Repeating from the earlier thread, BLP is presently ill-equipped for notable public figures of world-class infamy like Osama bin Laden, who necessarily must be treated differently because quoting from CIA transcripts and other official government documents is much preferred to digging something out of Seventeen magazine (which might also mention that Osama bin Laden has minty fresh breath in the morning).

    It would be wise to have caveats about “being careful” with primary sources for living figures of world-class infamy (as one should with any source since they can all be quoted out of context). I find it the height of absurdity to interpret policies intended to protect people like David Letterman’s privacy as a result of the recent extortion attempt, and use that to eschew primary sources like an actual White House press release or an indictment paper by a U.S. attorney because Wikipedia prefers citing Readers Digest. We need to specifically address this in BLP.

    The key distinction here is that people like Senator Byrd and David Letterman have a right to privacy. Consequently, the public’s right to read factual information in an encyclopedia—one that is edited in a collaborative writing environment by volunteers with wide-ranging skills—must have restrictions to ensure that privacy is not lost and that information is factual. Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, who has National Security Council and presidential authority to assassinate him even though he is a U.S. citizen, have little to no right to privacy; Osama lost that when he decided to fly big planes into buildings and make a calendar date synonymous with terror. The only obligation Wikipedia has for such figures is to ensure the public has information that is accurately and authoritatively cited; such references can be Readers Digest, but not exclusively so. Greg L (talk) 15:28, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

    Actually, Greg, you got that exactly wrong. As far as Wikipedia is concerned, Osama bin Laden has strictly exactly the same rights to privacy that David Letterman does. We do not distinguish between BLP subjects — to do otherwise would run afoul of NPOV — and we do not "judge" one subject against another. Either a source is okay to use or not, and that depends only on what the source is and how it is used and not on who the source is about or whether you agree with it or not. — Coren (talk) 16:07, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Well, you have your opinion, but I find it to be nonsense. There is nothing in our regular citing policies that opens the door to flouting Neutral Point of View. Greg L (talk) 16:13, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Except that it's not an opinion, it's the fundamental principle on which Wikipedia was founded and our "prime directive" as it were. You're welcome to disagree with it, but any attempt to shift policy away from NPOV is pointless because strictly academic: the neutral point of view is sine qua non, it is not negotiable, and cannot be overriden by local consensus — even if the community suddenly rose up unanimously against it tomorrow morning. You have exactly two options: abide by it even if you disagree or contribute to some other project. — Coren (talk) 16:19, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Greg, Coren is right that we don't differentiate regarding right to privacy generally, the only exception is low profile individuals, who we give a little extra protection to. Definitely no differentiation between two high profile individuals. Gigs (talk) 16:23, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Gigs. You are citing the way things are now, which is stick-in-the-mud mentality. I am not addressing how things are now. I am talking about introducing some WP:COMMONSENSE for this special class. Citing a CIA transcript is far superior to quoting from Seventeen magazine for topics like Osama bin Laden; that much is just too obvious. So, on the subject of talking about something new (which means please desist from chanting mantras about “how things presently are), I would propose wording along the lines of as follows:

Living public figures of world-class infamy such as Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki are not subject to the special restrictions pertaining to this BLP page; they are covered by all other requirements applying to regular subject matter. As with regular subject matter, text and citations pertaining to living public figures of world-class infamy must comply with the requirements of verifiability, neutrality, and avoiding original research.

Greg L (talk) 16:30, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
And we are telling you that such an idea would have a snowball's chance in hell, since it's way out of sync with our current policies. Gigs (talk) 16:34, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Please explain “we”. Sounds ominous and big. Yet, methinks it small and foolish, perhaps from a small cabal that fancies itself as the keepers of this venue. A nice broad RfC on this will flesh out some other ideas and arrive at a broader community consensus, which tend to be indicated on things of such importance. Articles on persons of world-class infamy doesn’t require “a high degree of sensitivity”, they require a high degree of accuracy. As Gigs pointed out here, primary sources in these cases are typically the most authoritative and accurate and typically have no bias. One can get just about any POV-pushing slant they want from secondary sources like Fox News (which tends to be right-wing POV-pushing) and similar secondary sources on the other side of the fence. There are no shortcomings whatsoever to relying upon primary sources like government and prosecutor documents for these cases. That is just too obvious. Greg L (talk) 16:43, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
An RfC would be a non-starter. Whether a BLP subject is an beloved person or a reviled one an orthogonal issue to BLP standards. There's no moral judgment involved, not because we're taking a stand about morals or people's rights in doing so, it's just not relevant to the issue. Saying that a lower standard should apply to terrorists is like saying that whereas normal people have a fever at 99 degrees Fahrenheit, terrorists don't have a fever until they hit 100. What is relevant is that a notorious terrorist like Bin Laden is highly notable, so most anything one could say about him is widely known and could be solidly sourced. We don't need a specialized category of person for that, it's just true in practice. Name any accurate information about Bin Laden, and you can find solid sourcing for it. Is there anything in particular behind this? Is there anything relevant and of due weight contained in a CIA report that is not published in a reliable source? Surely, if the report and its contents are worth noting, someone has covered it. - Wikidemon (talk) 16:49, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
If you think this can’t be addressed by an RfC, you are mistaken. That is not how Wikipedia works. Everything is governed by community consensus. You and a handful of others do not define “community consensus”. The issue here is only about citing to primary sources for these sort of articles. Since terrorists have no right to privacy, there is no problem citing from CIA transcripts or other public records. In fact, doing so is preferred so the information is accurately and authoritatively cited. The alternative (looking primarily towards secondary sources) tends to be especially biased on these topics. This is just about holding these sort of articles to all the standard requirements, nothing more, nothing less in order to ensure accuracy. Greg L (talk) 16:52, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Most things are determined by consensus, with BLP being a partial exception. Sometimes it's good to know when you're out on a limb. I'm not purporting to dictate the rules, I'm just saying an RfC would be pointless because it's clear what the result would be. Editors won't make a carve out for bad people who have no privacy rights (I don't think that's the law anywhere). Are you claiming there is a special need when dealing with notorious terrorists to use sources that we don't use for regular articles? Are terrorist articles less accurate than others, so they need special help? I just don't get it. As I was saying, if the CIA report is an important thing itself we can describe the existence and contents of the report based on secondary reports -- those will surely exist if the report is noteworthy. If no secondary sources have seen fit to cover the report, who are we as Wikipedia editors to decide on our own that it's worth covering here even if nobody else does? - Wikidemon (talk) 17:14, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

(undent) "Everything is governed by community consensus" is incorrect. The foundational principles are fixed, so are legal concerns and Foundation directives. In this particular case, it so happens that what you propose goes against the very nature of one of those: it's a non-starter. If you (somehow) managed to get consensus to go against NPOV, it would simply be overridden. The exercise is exactly as pointless as to try to declare a King of the United States. — Coren (talk) 17:21, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

GregL, my "we" wasn't meant as some kind of vague appeal to authority, it merely meant myself and Coren. Gigs (talk) 17:29, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Came across as a Queen’s ‘we’. And citing Five Pillars was quite akin to stating “Well… God and the Bible backs me and says I should smite you” with no factual basis whatsoever. (See expanded response on that one, below). Greg L (talk) 18:06, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Greg, just as a matter of interest, which is the case that sparked this? The reason I'm asking is just to make sure the policies are being correctly applied to it. SlimVirgin talk contribs 18:02, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Featured_article_candidates/Aafia_Siddiqui/archive1 Gigs (talk) 18:04, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. SlimVirgin talk contribs 20:12, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

It’s time to address this issue here

  • (*sound of sipping coffee*) Your argument is shear nonsense, Coren. You cite foundational principles, which comprises things like Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, and Wikipedia has a neutral point of view as if that—by some wild logic—backs your absurd position and undermines mine. Funnier still, you reference our list of core principles that contains Wikipedia does not have firm rules (chuckling now).

    There appears to be a cabal here that fancies itself as being solely and uniquely qualified to make the “big decisions” on fairness and accuracy issues surrounding living people. I see true fear ripple in posts whenever I mention RfCs to broaden the discussion to gather greater community input. The issue of terrorist-related articles can fully well be addressed with a whole new WP guideline page that is independent of this one. Oh yes it can. And it can be done by inviting w-i-d-e community input and much discussion. Like WP:MOSNUM, it would simply be a separate but harmonious extension of WP:MOS. Now, I suggest that if you people want to continue to be relevant, then step up to the plate, please, and properly address this situation. Terrorists of world-class infamy are in an altogether different class than people like Senator Byrd. Anyone with a mental rigidity that prevents them from seeing this reality could find themselves buried in a venue where your voices are lost in a sea of rational thought. Greg L (talk) 17:41, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

    • Go make your proposal and run your RfC. A reality check might be good. Gigs (talk) 17:48, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
    • Agree with Gigs. Good luck. Make sure you also address how we determine who the members of this "Terrorists of world-class infamy" group are. —Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 19:25, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
      • The fun part, of course, will be to attempt to determine it neutrally. — Coren (talk) 19:47, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
        • No worries, as neutrality will soon be a thing of the past. —Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 20:06, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
          • Joshua/LiberalFascist: Quoting you: No worries, as neutrality will soon be a thing of the past. It would be nice if you might constructively assist with thoughtful suggestions and observations rather than hop up onto your soap box and utter fear-mongering nonsense. The issue isn’t the least bit complex. There will always be editors who will quote (or misquote) any source in a citation.

            This was brought to light because of the case of Aafia Siddiqui. Suppose we have this text: She was charged in the Assistant United States Attorney’s complaint, that she fired an M-4 rifle at officers and employees of the FBI and the U.S. armed services. It is clearly preferable to have a Note [8] to a citation reading Sealed Complaint in U.S. v. Siddiqui, which was written by the Assistant United States Attorney. This way, Wikipedia is citing the most reliable and authoritative source available. It beats the heck out of citing what is supposedly in the actual complaint after it has been liberally filtered by POV-pushers like Rachel Maddow of MSN or conservatively filtered by Rush Limbaugh on his radio talk show. Perhaps you feel the facts on Wikipedia are perfectly well established because we have citations that essentially say, “Because Seveneen magazine said that was the wording in the complaint.” Personally, I much prefer grown-up references for simple matters of fact—you know—the sort of citations one would find in a fine print encyclopedia.

            And quoting another of your doozies: Make sure you also address how we determine who the members of this "Terrorists of world-class infamy" group are. I find that to be still more nonsense. Wikipedia policies work perfectly fine with general principles, such as this, from WP:Notability: The common theme in the notability guidelines is that there must be verifiable objective evidence that the subject has received significant attention by the world at large to support a claim of notability. So I might respond to you with a rhetorical question: “Well, good luck trying to address how we determine what ‘significant attention by the world at large’ means.” To that, I respond, the community gets along perfectly fine when we use WP:COMMONSENSE. Greg L (talk) 16:36, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

            P.S. Is it OK, Joshua, if I append a superscripted Rabidly neutral, common-sense, and scientific suffix in my auto-signature? Were you thinking you were going to do a better job influencing middle-ground Wikipedians when you stand up in contemplative debate with a sign hanging around your neck reading “LiberalFascist”?? That is certainly your right to do so. (Seems odd to me, though…) Greg L (talk) 16:50, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Greg, please let's remain civil here. Do I think that terrorists should be dragged out and shot? Sure. Does that mean we should throw out the rules of neutrality when covering them? Absolutely not. From their perspective, they may be fighting for their religion or way of life, or perhaps they just hate people of certain nationalities. Either way, to say that coverage should be different because we believe them to be evil is completely wrong. We should never put our opinions into articles unless they are backed up by reliable secondary sources. As to the use of primary sources, yes, I agree that we can use primary sources when it is desirable to verify or augment a fact published by a secondary source, but only for that purpose. (To Gigs - using a peer-reviewed paper is not original research in my mind, since the writer did the original research, and presented an interpretation. Based on that, said paper would be more like a secondary source in my view.) We are strictly prohibited from interpreting an primary source - "A primary source can be used only to make descriptive statements that can be verified by any educated person without specialist knowledge" (WP:NOR). —Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 21:57, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Confused

The issue I'm not following is why the writers of the Aafia Siddiqui article couldn't simply find secondary sources for the material. The article as I understand it was at FAC. That plus BLP means the sources must be high-quality. Some material was sourced to court documents that have almost certainly been discussed by newspapers. One of the reviewers asked to see these newspaper articles. Why could they simply not have been provided, rather than coming here to change the policy? And if there was important material that genuinely hadn't been discussed by any secondary source (which I find unlikely), it may have been material that was problematic in some way. Hence the request for secondary sources. SlimVirgin talk contribs 14:15, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

The issue I’m not following is why, for straightforward matters of fact, like what is actually in the Assistant United States Attorney’s complaint, one would even want to cite from a secondary source. Earth calling WP:COMMONSENSE. (*Echo, echo, echo*) Greg L (talk) 16:39, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
As a tertiary source, Wikipedia relies mostly on secondary sources. It doesn't matter what the primary source is — we assume all sources we use are reliable, or else they would be rejected at the door. The reason we prefer secondary sources is that they add perspective and interpretation: "What does this really mean? Where does it fit in the big picture? Is it important enough to mention?" We may cite any reliable primary source (in principle), but the text we add should be primarily based on the secondary source(s), with the primary source(s) adding details, not pointing in new directions. Crum375 (talk) 16:58, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
(e/c) Because then you're interpreting a primary source yourself. For all you know, that document has since been stricken, invalidated by procedure or by order of a judge. Having a reliable secondary source analyze and report on the primary sources is what Wikipedia does. Primary sources, especially legal documents, require careful analysis in a very wide and oftentimes complicated context which most editors are not qualified to do, generally do not have all the necessary information to do, and wouldn't be allowed to if they could.

You're arguing that it's okay to do original research if they're bad guys. We're trying to explain to you that neutrality demands we make no such distinction, and that any rule that says we can or must is necessarily without effect. That is just not Wikipedia is. — Coren (talk) 17:06, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

There is no adding “perspective and interpretation” in straightforward matters of fact such as what is in the Assistant United States Attorney’s complaint. Problems arise *because* pure facts have added perspective and interpretation introduced by your secondary sources. Why? Because they often have to digest and condense information for the attention-deficit crowd with a remote control in their hands. Why did I have to just write that?? Greg L (talk) 17:07, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Quoting you, Coren: You're arguing that it's okay to do original research if they're bad guys. Well there’s your problem. You think citing the Assistant United States Attorney’s sealed complaint when stating what it says amounts to “Original Research”. Go read that that means and call me in the morning. Greg L (talk) 17:10, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
You may want to read WP:CIV, Greg, your attitude is not productive. And please also read my reply above: even if the words of a primary source are clear, it would only address one of the three reasons for a secondary source. Crum375 (talk) 17:16, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
What is not productive is saying others don't read replys when you also don't read them. Sdruvss (talk) 18:40, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
(ec) Yes, it is original research by any significant meaning of the term. "Do not make analytic, synthetic, interpretive, explanatory, or evaluative claims about material found in a primary source." [emph. orig.] Extracting meaning from a legal document is a complicated process that requires a great deal of interpretation, analysis and understanding withing a large and fuzzy context (especially in common law systems). Vocabulary and usage may differ subtly (and sometimes radically) from the usual plain English. It requires a great deal of specialized knowledge to do properly, and fragments out of context can be misleading and confusing to the layman. — Coren (talk) 17:21, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
No, it is not original research. Quoting documents is not 'extracting meaning'. If some other editor judges it violates NPOV or UNDUE he may balance it. Sdruvss (talk) 18:34, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
  • “Analytic, synthetic, interpretive.” Uhm… yeah… Suppose we have this text: She was charged in the Assistant United States Attorney’s complaint, that she fired an M-4 rifle at officers and employees of the FBI and the U.S. armed services. It is clearly preferable to have a Note [8] to a citation reading Sealed Complaint in U.S. v. Siddiqui, which was written by the Assistant United States Attorney. This way, Wikipedia is citing the most reliable and authoritative source available. It beats the heck out of citing what is supposedly in the actual complaint after it has been liberally filtered by POV-pushers like Rachel Maddow of MSN or conservatively filtered by Rush Limbaugh on his radio talk show.

    If you had read a darned thing I wrote on this page, I wasn’t proposing relaxing (NPOV), (V) and (NOR) requirements for living figures of world-class infamy. Those requirements won’t be the slightest bit different from that required of any other article on Wikipedia. I am pointing out that such articles are not subject to the extra restrictions of BLP, which exists to ensure the privacy rights of people like Senator Byrd are preserved and we don’t falsely *report that he died*. Living people of world-class infamy (terrorists like Osama bin Laden) have no right to privacy and accordingly, to ensure factual evidence is properly buttressed with an authoritative citation on Wikipedia (and precisely because the issues are emotionally charged), we avoid secondary sources when presenting pure matters of fact, like what is in a CIA transcript.

    I find that your writings, Coren, don’t make sense and you obviously don’t comprehend the issues. Goodbye. Greg L (talk) 17:29, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

    (ec/2) And you fail to realize that the very act of making the distinction is necessarily pushing a point of view, and that "avoiding secondary source" is exactly what original research means on Wikipedia. Let's use bold to make sure it's obvious what the point is: If every secondary source reports X in a certain way, then so must our articles. Skipping the secondary source to go to the primary because it's "less emotionally charged" or "more true" is exactly what OR is meant to prevent. — Coren (talk) 17:31, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
    • "She was charged in the Assistant United States Attorney’s complaint, that she fired an M-4 rifle at officers and employees of the FBI and the U.S. armed services." is poorly worded, no matter what the citation. As for this discussion, I don't see how anything productive can come of it. Drop the stick and back away slowly seems to apply. Gigs (talk) 17:39, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
      • “Drop the stick.” Perhaps. Or, since I have little patience for absurdity, start a widely advertised RfC in an entirely different venue to clarify this point. I find that there is an exceedingly small cabal here (such as someone with “LiberalFascist” in his autosignature) that fancies itself as uniquely having the capacity to appreciate the fine nuances of international law, Truth, Justice, Fairness, and The Wikipedian Way©™®, or however it is that this little wp:ownership club sees itself. A few of you think the sun rises and sets here on BLP. It doesn’t; I guarantee that. Methinks some of you are a bit too eager to think that people of world-class infamy (terrorists) are properly covered by BLP, which calls for “sensitivity” and “ensuring privacy”, none of which has jack to do with terrorists. My point is simply that terrorism-related articles are no different from any other article on Wikipedia (NPOV, V, NOR, etc). It is becoming increasingly clear that Wikipedia needs a special [WP:] section to deal specifically with this special class of article precisely because it brings out passionate and often-highly biased Wikipedians. Greg L (talk)Rabidly neutral, common-sense, and scientific 17:55, 16 April 2010 (UTC)  ;-)
I like your new signature Greg. Perhaps you might check your facts to see when I became more involved with Wikipedia, though. My cabal (TINC) has only one member, myself. Please answer this directly - Do you want to have an exception for "people of world-class infamy" in the BLP policy?Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 18:55, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
(before ec) Legal sources are problematic because they require specialized knowledge and skill to interpret. Using an indictment filed by a prosecutor to verify that the facts claimed by the prosecution are true is particularly problematic. Parties in court, prosecutors included, don't assert facts as a service to the reader. They say things either because they think it will win their case, or because they have been forced to by the litigation procedure. For every incriminating claim prosecutors make, there is an argument by the defense that the statement is untrue, or misrepresents things, or is irrelevant, or should be excluded from evidence as a matter of procedure. Anyone who has been involved in litigation knows that one party, and usually both, are lying. The entire process of rules, evidence, argumentation, deliberation, judicial findings, etc., is to determine a set of legally-relevant facts that will resolve the case. We have self-interested parties, lawyer-advocates, and a jury of twelve peers deciding what is and is not the case. The truth and importance of those facts, even within the court system, only applies to the parties and matter at hand. Here,[40] Greg L wishes to use the text of Aafia Siddiqui's recent indictment to a claim prosecutors are making, that police found incriminating literature in her purse, based on the police report. That's exactly the sort of thing we shouldn't do, taking a prosecutor's word for what police are claiming. There are far too many reasons to list why this could be untrue, distorted, insignificant, or irrelevant. If it is truly the case, and it matters, journalists, legal analysts, and eventually historians will note it and we can report it. If no reliable source has said so, either there's a reason why it's unsafe or irrelevant to report this as true, or else it's just not the sort of thing that's gained anyone's attention -- meaning, it's not noteworthy, and it's not Wikipedia's place to take note of things that nobody else thinks are worth saying. - Wikidemon (talk) 18:06, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
untrue, distorted, insignificant, or irrelevant. Nonsense. We’re talking about what is the best source to cite as to what crimes Aafia Siddiqui was charged with. What do you cite(?), why the charges. If one writes that “She was charged by local authorities with possessing a concealed weapon” and there is an indictment paper that says precisely that (“concealed weapon”), then that source is much better than quoting Rachel Maddow, who might say “Aafia Siddiqui had articles in her purse you would find in any woman’s purse.” Or Rush Limbaugh, who might say she was charged with “being in possession of dangerous weapons.” This is obviously hopeless. I have to actually go make a living. Moreover, I find that your imagination appears to run wild here. Greg L (talk) 18:20, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
I guess I should have expected an insult, given that others who try to explain things here also get that treatment. I definitely second the "drop the stick" advice. I see you've made many thousands of edits here on Wikipedia over a span of years. Yet some of the additions you were trying to make to that article are, beyond being poorly sourced, just weak writing all the way around. The example above, repeating as true a prosecutor's claim about what police found in Siddiqui's purse, shouldn't be in the second sentence of the lede even if properly sourced. That's not what a lede is for. As someone who does understand legal matters to some degree, I would personally review the source documents, not just the prosecutor's statement but the defense, the proceedings, and the findings and opinion of the court. I would look to reliable news reports, and expert commentary and analysis. I would look up the relevant statutes and case law. And I would never simply quote an indictment as a summary of what happened, not unless I were advocating for a particular side of an argument and thought it fit in. The impression I formed after doing so would be my personal opinion, however strongly felt, and not allowable as article content here because it is original research. You claim you're the one being rational here, but how can you propose such a silly argument that court documents are better than news because Rachel Maddow and Rumbaugh aren't believable. They are unreliable sources too. So what? In a case like this we have well-written pieces from respected legal scholars and impeccable news organizations. If it's worth saying, someone reliable will have said it. - Wikidemon (talk) 18:39, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
“If it's worth saying, someone reliable will have said it” - not necessarily. What matters is if it is verifiable. Sdruvss (talk) 18:54, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
(ec) I think this is largely, but not entirely, a storm in a teacup. Our policy is a bit badly worded; there is nothing wrong with using primary sources to support and augment secondary sources, and of course they can be the most reliable sources, most especially for what they, the primary sources, say. As DGG says in the featured article review, they are a plus. The issue has been confused because as Slp1 noted on a prematurely archived talk page, several editors are not properly distinguishing between allegations and facts, particularly in treating primary source - court documents' - allegations as facts, not using enough attribution, and have also made utterly, absolutely wrong statements about BLP policy. Just because a wikipedia editor, or Barack Obama, or Captain Kangaroo says that Aafia Siddiqui or Anwar al-Awlaki is a terrorist, persons of (deserved) world-class infamy, does not make them so for wikipedia purposes; the "extra restrictions of BLP" are relaxed for no one whatsoever.
Wikidemon's example is excellent. It doesn't seem to be in dispute that the police found the documents etc on her, but her side, that they were planted on her by guards[41], is presented nowhere. The court document only says what an FBI investigator says the Afghan police said, that this is not a disputed matter needs the Der Spiegel story.John Z (talk) 19:10, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
I too feel like BLP is being used as a club here when this is really a problem of synthesis, undue weight, POV bias, and original research. None of which we can (or should) directly address here. Gigs (talk) 20:33, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
There is a misunderstanding here. Court documents are not primary sources if the subject is the person subject of the article. Court documents are primary sources if the subject is the judgment per se. When a WP article says that someone was indicted, or faces charges of terrorism, WP article is not saying he is a terrorist. WP article describing what happened in the court, grounded in court documents, is not judging neither making OR, neither violating BLP. Sdruvss (talk) 23:39, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that's a meaningful distinction. Legal papers and other technical documents -- lab notebooks, database entries, service manuals, political manifestos, what have you -- contain statements that either haven't been processed for reliability, or follow standards that aren't workable for encyclopedic purposes. Their content hasn't been checked in a way that makes it safe for us to use it to verify facts reported in the encyclopedia. So we have to treat them as raw data. - Wikidemon (talk) 06:42, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Why Primary Evidence is the gold standard; Dispelling the "Risk" Myths

  • The primary matter at issue has been SLP's insistence that primary sources, such as an indictment, be deleted as refs. Instead, she maintains, we must use a secondary source, which reflects what the indictment says. She raised that point of view most recently vis-a-vis the Aafia Siddiqui article.

Some thoughts/reactions:

  1. This is the BLP guidance. Obviously, the above language was about protecting BLPs. Not about which is a better source: primary or secondary. We know that, in part, from the language itself. We know that in part because the text was inserted into the BLP section, not into an over-arching section. And we know that because ...
  2. Primary Evidence as the Best Evidence. ... primary sources are viewed as more accurate than secondary sources for purposes of verifiability in the real world: for example, courts in English-speaking countries. Sure, wikipedia is not a court of law. But the desire to have verifiable information is the same both here and in those courts. For centuries now our best legal minds in the western world have concluded that primary sources are the "best evidence". "Secondary" sources, in contrast, are held in such low regard that they often are not even allowed into evidence at trial.
  3. The "Risk of Synth, OR, and Undue Weight" Myth. The notion that the risk of synth is lesser if we rely on secondary sources is hogwash. Why? Imagine – an indictment is handed down on person x. Written by a lawyer. Signed by a grand jury. Supported by an affidavit attested under criminal penalty of perjury. It contains the precise terms of the charges against person x. The indictment is available to all of the general public, on-line. Which is the better source, to answer the question of what the charges are against the defendant in the indictment? The indictment itself? Or, say, what perhaps some 18-year-old college stringer majoring in phys ed writes in what we consider an RS, say ... The Electronic Intifida. Does anyone really believe that that the EI would be the superior source? Haven't we all heard of the game of telephone? Are we aware that news reporters often have agendas that not only are not restricted by wikipedia's POV policy – but that are driven by POV? That synth is in their blood? Or that they make their money often by "giving undue weight"? Add to it this little bit – the 18-year-old may have been told that as a general matter, unless he is using quotations marks he had better watch out for copyright issues, and may believe he therefore must change the words around just a little bit. Does anyone think that that really leads to a higher-quality source, in terms of reflecting what the indictment in fact says?
  4. The "By Using Secondary Sources We Will Avoid POV" Myth. This is another myth. Why would one think that an editor couldn't selectively quote from the The Electronic Intifada to say what is in the indictment? Or even that his choice of the EI as a source reflects a POV? And isn't it, just maybe, possible that The Electronic Intifada itself has a POV? I'm just saying. So, now we have the risk of their POV, coupled with the risk of the editor's POV. Clearly, deletion of primary sources would increase the risk of POV.
  5. The "Perspective" Myth. It was mentioned that secondary sources have "perspective" that primary sources do not have. Sure. The perspective of the writer. But that's not necessarily a good thing. It can easily be a POV, undue weight, uninformed perspective.
  6. The "Non-notable Information/Digging Up Obscure Dirt" Myth. Notability (of both the case, and the information in the article) would of course still be a wiki guideline, whatever source we use. So the argument of "non-notable information will come to light", and "we will be deluged by obscure dirt" does not impress me. The rules on synth and undue weight would also apply, same as always.
  7. What Would Chief Justice Roberts Do? In addition to the question of the admissibility of evidence at trial, discussed above, what do courts do, when it comes time for written argument? Do they say – Hey guys, we'll allow you to refer to textbooks and law review articles (secondary sources), but please don't poison us with dreaded caselaw (primary sources). Of course not. They accept both – and it is the primary sources that have the greater weight.
  8. What Would Professor Dershowitz Do? What do law review articles do? They accept both. And in the event of conflict, the primary sources have the greater weight.
  9. Real-world. Let me lay off The Electronic Intifida for just a moment. I have some experience with primary and secondary sources, as going back nearly 30 years I've written law review articles, federal legal opinions, and spent a good deal of time with the press. What I've seen comports with what I've said above. A relatively recent real-world example: After Bear Stears crumbled, The Wall Street Journal ran an article about the indictment of the co-head of one of Bear's failed sub-prime hedge funds. Front page. Top right-hand column. The headline was about what the indicted fellow had written in an email, as reflected in his indictment. The headline blared "Highlights From Bear Indictment: "The Entire Subprime Market Is Toast". Now, was the sense of what the fellow had written? Not so much. Instead, what he had written was "if the CDO report is true, then the market is toast". (emphasis added). A slight difference, no? Where do we find that golden accurate and verifiable information? In the on-line indictment. The primary source. Precisely the sort of document that Slp has been telling me I must delete. And replace with the necessarily-less-accurate secondary source. In our effort to reflect with verifiability what is in the indictment, the primary source will always be the best source for that purpose.
  10. Another silly example. By analogy: If the NY Times runs an editorial whose opinion I wish to refer to in an article, the editorial itself would be a primary source. Why should I have to find an article in the Brooklyn Eagle that mentions the conclusions of the NY Times article, and use that as my ref? Replacing the NY Times article as a ref? Clearly, the NY Times article is better, for the purpose of ref'ing what is in fact said in the NY Times article.
  11. And another. The Yankees have their team stats, and press releases about their trades, on their website. The Academy Awards site does the same with their award information. Why would one think that any other site is more reliable for verifying the fact that Player X was traded, or that Actor Y won the Best Actor award? Clearly, as a general matter, the primary source is the better source.
  12. Replacing Primary Sources. In criticizing the Aafia Siddiqui article, Slp wrote that we must "Support/replace the primary sources". (emphasis added) When the article was at FA, SLP objected. Her first complaint? She found it worrying that "primary sources (court records, indictments, psychiatric/psychology/forensic evaluations, affidavits) are liberally used, often without secondary sources to support them, in direct contravention of BLP's Misuse of Primary Sources section." Replace the primary sources – the gold standard of our evidence? Not only should primary sources not be replaced, but inasmuch as they are clearly superior to secondary sources, where the information in the two differ, the primary source must be the one that we rely on.
  13. Secondary sources. If available, high quality, and supporting the textual information that is supported by the primary source, of course a secondary source can be helpful. Sometimes they supply contextual information that the primary source has no reason to provide. Or notable analysis. I've no problem at all with secondary sources being used – and even encouraged, as second or third refs, where they are helpful. But it makes zero sense for us to – as SLP has been insisting I do, over many talk pages now – replace primary sources, or delete text that is supported only by an indictment, due to what I believe is a misreading of the poorly written criteria above, and a lack of sensitivity towards the applicable policies, real world practices, and common sense.

Those are just some off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts.--Epeefleche (talk) 07:06, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Comment: Not dealing with substance here, but since my name and views have been cited here, for the record let me state that I have never said that "primary sources, such as an indictment, [should] be deleted as refs", that editors should "delete text supported only by an indictment", (both above) that I am "militating for deletion of all of [primary sources] from the article,"[42], or seeking to prevent "the citation of high profile court documents" (below). In fact, I have consistently said that while articles, especially BLP and FA articles, should be based on secondary sources, primary sources are fine to use as long as they support to material discussed in secondary sources. [43][44][45][46]. This view, as far as I can see, is solidly based on policy and the consensus of almost of the editors in this discussion. --Slp1 (talk) 13:19, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
First, I would like to congratulate Epeeflech for his brilliant reasoning, which I totally agree. But allow me a comment: on many occasions which is considered to be a primary source in his comment, it would be considered a secondary source in a scientific framework. We must consider that primary sources are those who participate or were involved, or were originated by the facts being related. An evidence presented in a court is a primary source of a crime (for instance, that is being the subject of a WP article), but a sentence issued by a grand jury is not. A newspaper article reporting a sentence is tertiary source of the crime. First, the subject of the WP article must be clearly defined, if it is the crime per se or, by other side, the controversial judgment of the criminals. If the subject is the crime, primary sources are those artifacts, testimonies, documents, produced in the crime scene or immediately following it. Time is a very important variable to classify sources as primary. They are originated or produced at the same time of the focused subject, and they are usually raw data. Secondary sources make use of the primary sources artifacts, and tertiary sources report secondary sources conclusions. The main distinction between a primary source and a secondary source is that a primary source is validated by a secondary source which has power to do it. Someone telling that saw a crime doesn’t necessarily assures that there was a crime, but a judge issuing a sentence is a proof that the crime happened. Newspaper news are tertiary sources of the crime, or could be a primary source if it is a journalist comment about the crime. Sometimes we don’t have access to the secondary source’s document, and we use a newspaper which had access to secondary source document, and use them, as could be named as a “proxy” to the secondary source. The source is not the newspaper, it is just the messenger. Newspaper news are secondary sources only about facts and events: rained yesterday..., there was a accident..., there was a crime yesterday... As can being noted, a newspaper can be primary, secondary or tertiary source. I totally agree with Epeeflech thoughts, but what he considers to be a primary source, I would sometimes consider to be a secondary source if we apply a scientific framework. Sdruvss (talk) 13:17, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Just one point: primary sources are not invariably viewed as the best evidence on or off-WP. As anyone who has studied history knows, they can be partial, mistaken, and difficult to interpret. This is why we caution against relying on them in BLPs, and ask editors to use them particularly carefully in other articles. Again, I have to ask: what was in the Aafia Siddiqui primary-source material that did not exist anywhere in a secondary source, and that editors wanted to use? We don't change policy unless we see real examples of it causing a problem. So can someone give me a real example, please? SlimVirgin talk contribs 02:46, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

  • Hi Slim. For the typical purpose that was at issue -- saying what is in the indictment -- there is no better source than the indictment. It is the secondary source that is partial in its description of the indictment. It is the secondary source that can be mistaken. And the primary sources that have been at issue have not been at all difficult to interpret. Also, as indicated above, courts in English-speaking countries (to the best of my knowledge) have followed the best evidence rule since the 1700s at least -- viewing primary sources as superior generally, for the aforementioned reasons.--Epeefleche (talk) 06:16, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
    • Epeefleche, I'm not a lawyer, but if the courts were to accept the primary sources, which nearly always disagree in a court case, almost every trial would end in a hung jury. The job of the jury is to evaluate the primary sources (testimony) and release a secondary source (a verdict). The system is set up to compensate for the inherent unreliability of the primary sources. —Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 07:23, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Let me clarify. The courts accept into evidence primary sources (e.g., a bank statement, an indictment) rather than secondary sources (an article saying what was in the bank statement, the indictment, etc -- or even a photocopy of them). The verdict, btw, is often called an "order" or "opinion" -- that is also a primary source, for what it says.--Epeefleche (talk) 08:11, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
  • For what it's worth, one reason that we do not use primary sources is that we need, for controversial statements, also evidence that it's notable. Such evidence would be a secondary source for the material. (Another reason is that, at least in certain fields, primary sources are quoted in such a context as to make it appear to mean something other than what the primary source said. As an example, an acquittal (primary source) is not evidence that the person did not do what was originally alleged, only that it was not proven that he did it and that it was illegal. Similarly, although I'm not familiar with the particular case in question, an indictment is the best evidence for what was alleged, but the details still might not be notable. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Arthur Rubin (talkcontribs) 08:44, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
  • See my discussion at #6 in my above post.--Epeefleche (talk) 08:17, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

<- Regarding Slim's question 'Again, I have to ask: what was in the Aafia Siddiqui primary-source material that did not exist anywhere in a secondary source, and that editors wanted to use?', perhaps it's useful to have some specific instances from the article that prompted this, Aafia Siddiqui. These appear to be the primary sources.

It seems that in the vast majority of cases the citations using primary sources appear along side citations based on secondary sources for the same information. Here are some example instances where a primary source has been used without a secondary source which may be examples of 'primary-source material that did not exist anywhere in a secondary source, and that editors wanted to use?'

She has alternated between saying that the two youngest children are dead, and that they are with her sister Fowzia, according to a psychiatric exam.[16]
She was accompanied by a teenage boy about 12, who she reportedly claimed was an orphan she had adopted.[16]
In November 2008, forensic psychologist Dr. Leslie Powers reported that Siddiqui had been "reluctant to allow medical staff to treat her", expressing significant distrust of them. Her last medical exam had indicated her external wounds no longer required medical dressing, and were healing well. She also consistently and steadfastly refused to take any medication to address the psychological symptoms she complained of.[93]

I think it would help clarify matters and keep things less abstract if this discussion cited specific instances of primary source usage from the article that triggered this discussion. Sean.hoyland - talk 08:54, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

I'll reserve judgment on the first group until I see the article text they are intended to support, and which secondary sources are used. The second group are all clearly inappropriate per both the wording and intent of WP:BLP, as well as general principles of encyclopedia-writing and reportage. Even if there were secondary sources, I doubt that any of these facts are terribly relevant or encyclopedic. It is a highly prejudicial thing to say about a living person -- or anyone -- that she gives conflicting statement about whether her children are dead, and does so in the context of a psychological exam. Psychological exams, and the psychologists who give them, are not very believable for establishing the facts of a case, particularly if the results are selectively cited and presented by prosecutors. Even within the legal system this is raw data that has to be presented in court, challenged, weighed, and determined by the trier of fact. The resulting determination is probably not relevant to anything, and we could only say it is if secondary sources say it is. If the secondary sources don't think her psychological examination is relevant or credible enough to report, we are in no position to make that decision ourselves. Same situation with the dubious claims about her adoption, physical injuries, mistrust of physicians, and need for psychological medication. All of these things give strong images about her to the reader that are not established as true or relevant, and if they exist only in primary sources they aren't currently know to the public. As a result, were we to include this content based on these sources Wikipedia, acting independently of anyone else, would be presenting its own singular interpretation of things to the world. That's not within our collective competence, and not the function of an encyclopedia. This is not anywhere near a close case. I suggest we try to cast this discussion as an exercise in answering an editor's questions about why we do things and not as a demand for changes to our way of doing things, or dispute resolution when that doesn't happen. - Wikidemon (talk) 15:43, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
Indeed, if only because — as far as we know — any or all of this might be outright lies. We rely on reliable secondary sources to evaluate whether, and how much, of what is found in primary sources is adequate or relevant to report. — Coren (talk) 16:36, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
@Wikidemon. I only got as far as you doubting that AS's statements have alternated between saying that the two youngest children are dead, and that they are with her sister Fowzia, according to a psychiatric exam, is "terribly relevant or encyclopedic." I was astounded that you would say that, after reading the article. It's clearly of the highest relevance.--Epeefleche (talk) 08:25, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
If you look at who is publishing the primary sources in this situation, the NEFA foundation, I would have to say they are not even remotely independent.
Doesn't sound very neutral or reliable to me, especially on this subject. —Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 18:19, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
It's clearly RS. This has been covered at RSN, and furthermore as even the quickest and clumsiest google search will reveal, nearly all the major RSs rely on NEFA ... which is a good indicator as to its reliability.--Epeefleche (talk) 08:25, 22 April 2010 (UTC)