Wikipedia talk:Describing points of view

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So many of the entries on this site can be editted, or whatever it's called, are Americocentric. For example, May 24 "1968 The Gateway Arch, in St. Louis, Missouri, was dedicated." For all someone in Nigeria would know, it could be a city and state in Surinam. Sometimes one gets the impression that American editors forget that theirs is one of 190 nations. How about requiring that the nation's name always follow the city name?

Also, many of the listings of people in those pages (apart from the fact that many of them are non-entity American pop culture celebs) only refer to their nationality if they are not American. So, for example, Dean Martin will be a 'singer' but John Farnham will be an 'Australian singer' (these are hypothetical examples only). It does seem like linguistic apartheid. I really feel that the style guidelines should be stricter on these matters, and Wikipedia should be more vigilant aganist Americocentrism as a whole, as it's still widespread depite the fact that many readers are trying to remove it (and to them, "thanks"). cap

This is a huge improvement. Trontonian 23:19, 2 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Ignore that comment. I was confused by all the page-shuffling. But the content of this article makes Wikipedia:USPOV redundant. National bias is not restricted to articles written by Americans. Trontonian 14:54, 3 Nov 2003 (UTC)

international english wiki[edit]

I might have missed it, but i have been looking for a discussion about an international wiki. The point is that the current english wiki is in my experience culturally bound to mainly the US and the UK. When i read the en-wiki, i sometimes meet typical us-views and issues, and i feel that i should not interfere with my dutch background - i probably don't understand the culturally bound subtilities, although i do understand the language. Let's face it: objectivity means in fact inter-subjectivity and the same text can sound objective for one culture and very subjective for another. Also there sometimes are problems with international linking: the definition of terms in different cultures is not precisely the same, causing trouble with international linking of adjacent subjects Am i the only one who feels the need of a real international wiki? The "simple english" is no option, it is there for another purpose. --Taka 13:36, 28 May 2004 (UTC)

The English language is spoken as a first-language by primarily the US and the UK (and former colonies...!), so their citizens contribute most, and any English language Wikipedia is likely to suffer a bias in favour of those cultures. Any skewed writing should, in theory, be temporary, because Wikipedia has a policy on avoiding bias. If you find an article to be "subjective", it's likely that it is not yet written from a Neutral Point Of View (NPOV) and needs work to become so. Your contributions to these articles would be much appreciated in fixing things, especially because you are not from a US/UK background, and just pointing out cultural bias would be helpful. — Matt 14:09, 28 May 2004 (UTC)
I'd agree with Matt. As I understand it, the English Wikipedia is intended to be an international English Wikipedia. Any issues of cultural bias that exist on this English Wikipedia will also exist on any other. Unless, for example, we were to start a Dutch English Wikipedia. Instead, please help us to create an English Wikipedia that is more international. -Rholton 14:29, 28 May 2004 (UTC)
About the difficulty of international linking--that can actually be a good learning experience (see Talk:Comic book). I agree, and I'll admit that my presence probably makes things worse, just because I mainly know about U.S. topics--that's why we need people like you. This is not the USpedia. Meelar 14:32, 28 May 2004 (UTC)
All we can do is make sure there are as many non-Americans as possible in the project. Chameleon 14:38, 28 May 2004 (UTC)
I have the feeling that a significant portion of the wikipedians in the english wikipedia are not from the US or UK. My guess would be around 30%, and while US-bias may be a problem sometimes, I don't think it's a big issue. -- Chris 73 | Talk 14:45, 28 May 2004 (UTC)

Thanks for the responses. I will consider the English wiki to be international. The point is that I could not find anything about it. But the Talk:Comic book discussion is a really good example of how things (apparently) are meant. --Taka 15:10, 28 May 2004 (UTC)

There's some mention of systematic bias — including cultural — here: Wikipedia:Replies_to_common_objections#Systemic_bias — Matt 15:20, 28 May 2004 (UTC)
A search with Google gave 38 occurencies of "us-centric" at Wikipedia. A quick glance gave the impression that no-one says it's good, ...but in practice it might well turn out somewhat differently. Already the linguistic handicap makes contributors with other mother tongues to seem less authoritative and reliable. Then there are many more of the Anglo-Saxons, of course. /M.L.

True or false??[edit]

True or false: Americocentrism means the POV for American Wikipedians. What is the European equivalent?? 02:15, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Eurocentrism. Angela. 16:36, Aug 5, 2004 (UTC)

Heterosexual POV[edit]

A while ago, in the history of the Star article, someone talked about a kind of POV that I don't think has been talked about before, called Heterosexual POV. Can anyone discuss about it?? 01:26, 19 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I'd say the very inclusion of "heteronormativity" in bias criteria itself is a violation of the NPOV rule, as it promotes Marxist Critical Theory. The very status of homosexuality is debatable, and taking a pro-homosexual stance would violate the NPOV rule's intent. It's gotta go.-- 20:45, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

World War II[edit]

  • Accounts of conflicts and their outcomes providing the interpretation of the side most English-speaking nations supported.

What about when All English speaking countries were involved in one side of a war? I do not see how it is possible to avoid a view of the war from the Allied side in the naming of articles if they are to use common English names.

For example the division of the world into theatres in World War II follows the divisions used by the Allies in World War II and these divisions were usually based on the distribution of men on the ground. The articles on the Pacific War divide the conflict into three theatres which correspond to the Allies theatres not to Japanese definitions. From an Allied perspective the fighting in Burma took place in the "South East Asian Theatre". From the perspective of the Japanese it could have taken place in the "Western Theatre" but most people English would be surprised to see the fighting of Burma appearing in an article with that name. There is no move to rename the "Western Front" to the "European Northwestern Front" so that people from none English-speaking nations understand the term. Neither Italy or Norway are included in the Wikipedia definition of the "Western Front" in WWII, which is to do with how the Allied commands were organized and how most sources are structured. But from a German perspective they may have been. Should en.Wikipedia take things like this into account when naming articles or not? If they do then they move away from common usage in English. So what is better to have names which are familiar to most English speakers or names which carry no English speaking cultural POV? Philip Baird Shearer 09:59, 28 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Types of POV[edit]

  1. A point of view on a controversial subject
  2. A perspective based on one's geographical or academic area
  3. Biased writing

Controversial positions[edit]

When discussing a controversial topic, a point of view is a position taken - either on facts or values or policy. For example, every 4 years in America voters elect the president. They pick the one who shares their POV most closely. The candidates vie for popular support, expressing and defending their POV in speeches, etc.


I approach everything from a software engineer's perspective. IF this, THEN that.

Many writers describe things from the limited perspective of their geographical or cultural background. When describing a motorcar, we are not thinking of getting our points across to a primitive tribesman who's never seen one - or even heard of the concept of powered transportation. American and European writers may sometimes lose sight of the fact that their readers have had different experiences: hence the terms Eurocentric and Americentric (or "USian").

Or in describing a grocery store, Americans may assume that the checkout counter is also the cashier, whereas in Russia (as everyone knows) there are two separate lines.


The term NPOV refers (in an official sense) to Wikipedia's Neutral Point Of View policy, but in casual writing (nearly all talk pages and mailing list posts are casual!) we often use NPOV to mean "neutral" or "unbiased". This usage has naturally given rise to use of the term POV as an antonym.

This can cause confusion - most of it inadvertent, but some people exploit this confusion.

We all agree that biased writing has no place in Wikipedia. When advocates take different sides on an issue, we generally pride ourselves on expressing the disagreement fairly. We try to give a balanced account of what each side believes, and why they believe it (or at least the reasons they give in defense of their viewpoint).

We should not revert additions to articles which explain what a side in a controversy believes, on the grounds that (1) it's POV or (2) that it advances a POV. --Uncle Ed 12:44, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Number of viewpoints[edit]

How could we incorporate into this article something to dispell the common misconception that there are two points of view to everything? --Tydaj 16:30, 12 November 2005 (UTC)

Naming Conventions and POV[edit]

What is the policy regarding POV titles... What is more important NPOV or common names. If there is a historical event with a name used by one of the participants in the conflict, isn't that considered POV? If there are alternate titles, which are already used in other english encyclopedias and are NPOV, but perhaps not the most common, wouldn't it make sense to use that one instead? - Spaceriqui 21:24, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

Is POV acceptable if it's labeled "POV" as a section?[edit]

I couldn’t write “Joe Blow could be a cheater because of his business practices” in the first sentence of an article for POV reasons. But what if I made a section named “Criticism” and added that line as a bullet point? Most Wikipedians seem okay with this. I’ve seen sections named “Opinion,” “Criticism” and “Controversy” that just list opinions Crossfire style. Is POV acceptable as long as we label it POV, and we present both sides? I thought encyclopedias were supposed to be about facts, not the interpretations and conclusions based on those facts. Xmnemonic

As far as I know, creating a "Criticisms" section as a way to insert your own personal opinions into an article is a big no-no. Opinions have to be attributed to some external source, or else any old Joe Blow could just go over the evolution article and put a bulleted "Evolution doesn't make sense because monkeys still exist" under a "Criticisms" section. --Foot Dragoon 00:57, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

WP:CITE Though du jour![edit]

I'll let someone clean up my new addition. I just figured I would put the source information right in the text!!! It may be a good idea to add a reference as per WP:CITE --CyclePat 03:59, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

Why is nationalism only attributed to Americans?[edit]

It's complete bull that only Americans are nationalistic. I've met plenty of Canadians, British, Australians, New Zealanders etc. online who are just as nationalistic as they are calling us Americans. I think that whole notice about different types of nationalism needs to be deleted and just replaced with a general nationalism statement. Riconoen 02:49, 16 April 2006 (UTC)


I don't see the "This is WP policy" tag here. A sentence in the project page I noted was "Derogatory accounts of other cultures, especially Islam, India and China. This is particularly prevalent in older sources." The articles directly/indirectly related to Islam are full of derogatory POV-biases. How does one bring those articles into compliance with these rules? Oldschool editing isn't working, the party that inserts such content simply reverts back and initiates edit wars. What responses can admins take? His Excellency... 03:27, 23 June 2006 (UTC)

POV crap[edit]

It seems POV = being opposed to postmodernism. So who says postmoderns are objective, considering they bring their prejudices with them too? Pro-homosexual POV, that doesn't count? In the age of moral relativism, one view is as good as another, so let's get with it.--Pravknight 03:54, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Article split[edit]

I propose a split into 2 articles:

  1. POV: biased writing by Wikipedia contributors
  2. Viewpoint: the way a source looks at a topic or issue

We want to avoid #1, so we need to identify it, figure out what causes it (if possible), and propose remedies for it.

We want to describe #2, which can be tricky and difficult sometimes. --Uncle Ed 22:09, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

POV isn't even proper usage, so while the merit of the idea makes sense, something more like Wikipedia:Biased points of view or Non-neutral point of view would make a better article.--Oni Ookami AlfadorTalk|@ 18:49, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

You cannot describe and summarize conflicting POV's, without violating WP:SYN[edit]

Quote from this article:

Debates are described, represented, and characterized, but not engaged in. Background is provided on who believes what and why, and which view is more popular.

  • Sorry, but it's obviously not possible to do this without violating WP:SYN.

Detailed articles might also contain the mutual evaluations of each viewpoint, but studiously refrain from stating which is better.

  • Excuse me? "Mutual evaluations of each viewpoint" is actually inviting editors to violate WP:SYN and thereby WP:NOR.

One can think of unbiased writing as the fair, analytical description of all relevant sides of a debate. When bias towards one particular point of view can be detected, the article needs to be fixed.

  • Excuse me? How are you possibly going to somehow create a "fair, analytical description of all relevant sides of a debate." without doing any synthesis toward a particular point of view, for each side of the debate? Again, clear violation of WP:NOR and WP:SYN is being solicited here.

The big problem here is that Wikipedia doesn't really know what it wants, or isn't really specific about saying it. It calls for local systhesis of various sources to come up with "fair analytical description" of various sides of a debate, assuming that NOPV will be upheld after all that is done. And so it will, globally. But one cannot do the local synthesis required to summarize any particlar POV in a debate, without doing sythetic work, as the above instructions themselves admit.

So, O Wikipedia: either admit that your instructions here are in violation of other WP polities, or else admit that the NPOV and NOR policies need to be re-written, because they are really meant only to be applied GLOBALLY in search of a global NPOV, while needing to be violated on the local level (subarticle level), in order to generate syntheses of the various POV "debate sides," which go into the making of an overall NPOV article. SBHarris 21:59, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Other areas where POV comes into play[edit]

The whole section "Other areas where POV comes into play" is a load of rubbish, purely an exercise in political correctness. It urges us to dilute our writing (and thereby, the facts) so that minority groups will not be offended. It gives as an example the words "the park has had a lot of problems with the homeless" which it suggests is unacceptable. Does that mean that "The park has had a lot of problems with litter" is also unacceptable? Or is it OK to talk about the problems caused by dogs, by vandalism, by cyclists, but not by homeless people? We should not try to hide the facts by beating around the bush to avoid offending people! Sure, the homeless and other vulnerable people deserve our sympathy and help, but that's not what Wikipedia is for. Get rid of that section. Rwxrwxrwx 22:41, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

Controversies and disputes[edit]

What if there's an important historical or scientific topic, and a significant minority disagree with the mainstream?

NPOV says:

In attributing competing views, it is necessary to ensure that the attribution adequately reflects the relative levels of support for those views, and that it does not give a false impression of parity. For example, to state that "according to Simon Wiesenthal, the Holocaust was a program of extermination of the Jewish people in Germany, but David Irving disputes this analysis" would be to give apparent parity between the supermajority view and a tiny minority view by assigning each to a single activist in the field.

And as a man with a Jewish mother (which would seem to make me a Jew) I don't want to give "equal validity" to people who say the Holocaust didn't happen, or that it wasn't intended in a genocidal way. That's like catching your spouse in the act of adultery, and being told, "This is not what it seems to be!"

Distasteful as it is, I understand the need for a Holocaust denial article at Wikipedia. The view that Hitler and the Nazis did not exterminate 6 million Jews and millions of others is not a mainstream view, at least in the English-speaking West or in Europe. But it is indeed held by a significant minority of ordinary people. We as encyclopedia readers want to know why anyone would believe such garbage.

I just wonder if this tolerance of (or explanation of) anti-mainstream views is an exception or a rule at Wikipedia. I may have been the 188th person to sign up here, but that doesn't mean I've kept up to date on the way NPOV is interpreted. --Uncle Ed (talk) 18:07, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

RfC at WP:Civil[edit]

A Request for Comment has been posted at WP:Civil concerning reversion using the one-line Edit Summary. It is suggested that such summaries that employ WP:POV require a Talk page back-up that provides specific indication to the contributing author of just what it is that makes the reverting editor believe WP:POV is applicable. Please take a look and comment. Brews ohare (talk) 22:40, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Use of WP:POV in one-line Edit Summaries[edit]

The proposal at One-line Edit Summaries found few supporters, as many felt that any mandatory requirement upon the one-line Edit summary was onerous. However, a modification of WP:Civil was made suggesting that on-line edit summaries be explicit. I have imported a version of the text added to WP:Civil modified somewhat to apply to this guideline. Brews ohare (talk) 14:59, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

Systemic Bias[edit]

I think that some mention of WP:BIAS should be made in the article, or perhaps the "see also" section. It's very relevant to the topic of the article, which spends a lot of time discussing when to include a certain POV. I'm going to be bold and edit add it in myself now to the see also section. I'd like to try to find a way to integrate it into the article though. If anyone disagrees, please feel free to revert the edit, and we can have a discussion here about whether or not it should be included, and if it should, how it should be included. Jrtayloriv (talk) 14:40, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

Selective quoting[edit]

An editor has found selective quotes on the web which are WP:RELY. However, the original web publisher, for political reasons, dug up these selective quotes from the distant past and posted them to support his pov. Of course, the other side could do the same, or locate them in a book or newspaper somewhere. Nevertheless, it is clearly pov to post these (in a non-Wikipedia article! ) so somehow it doesn't seem like equal opportunity or something. The dissenters now have to pour through dusty tomes to find a countering argument.

Quite legal, but it doesn't seem right, somehow. Student7 (talk) 13:52, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

"Describing points of view" or "Sources of editorial bias"[edit]

I agree wholeheartedly with the aim of this essay, as expressed in the title and lead. I'm slightly concerned though that the thrust disappears when reading the other sections of the essay, because they are mostly about sources of editorial bias and not how to describe points of view. Editorial bias deserves a mention, but in the current situation it consumes far too much of the essay. Can I suggest the creation of an essay Wikipedia:Editorial bias? Yaris678 (talk) 13:13, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

Lost in a dead end[edit]

Eh, WP:POV has no navigation box with similar pages? -DePiep (talk) 19:34, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

Policy suggestion: "First-Word" Deference (to balance the desires of competing groups in controversial topics)[edit]

If this is the wrong place to insert policy suggestions, please let me know. So I've called what I am thinking, "first-word deference". This has to do with balancing the desires of competing groups in controversial topics. In a controversial article, both sides can receive appropriate (not necessarily equal) time. But advocates of the position being described in a particular article would be mentioned first, and then the opposition would be mentioned second. So advocates would get the "first word", and opponents would get the "last word". Some might fear that this would encourage fringe theories to flourish. I don't think this would happen for a few reasons, as long as the policy was carefully crafted.

  • Lets take the scenario where the opposing position clearly has better sources, are in the majority of the scholarly community, etc, it does not hurt their position simply by mentioning theirs second. It can be clearly mentioned in the article that while this is how "advocates" see this, the majority of scholars see it a different way.
  • Allowing "advocates" to "speak first" ensures that minority views can be mentioned, and still holds in balance the idea of weight of sources.
  • Allowing advocates to speak first allows advocates an adequate opportunity to define themselves and their movement in their own words.

Examples that come to mind are the scientific and religious debates. If you allow advocates to speak first, the article on Evolution would take shape first with sources that advocate Evolution. Sources advocating other views would be mentioned secondarily (but they would still be mentioned). While on the other hand, the article on Creationism would take shape first with sources that advocate that view. Sources advocating other views would be mentioned secondarily (but they would still be mentioned).

This idea of giving deference to the advocates I think might help to put out some fires and edit wars that tend to get started. It still allows for the best view to make a reliable encyclopedia, and yet it allows advocates to "speak first". Any thoughts or critiques or questions? Motmajor (talk) 00:30, 28 November 2015 (UTC)