Wikipedia talk:Five pillars

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Is this page a policy or guideline, or the source for all policies and guidelines?
No. It is a non-binding description of some of the fundamental principles, begun by User:Neutrality in 2005 as a simple introduction for new users. For comparison, WP:NPOV, WP:NOT and WP:IAR were first written down on Wikipedia in 2001, and WP:NOR and WP:V were written in 2003.
What was this page originally based on?
It was an expansion of WP:Trifecta.
Does the title refer to the Five Pillars of Islam?
No. It also has nothing to do with the Five Precepts of Buddhism or the Five Pillars puzzle.
Even though it has nothing to do with the Five Pillars of Islam, won't Muslim people be offended anyway?
Muslim editors commenting here have confirmed that there is nothing offensive in this. The Arabic Wikipedia uses exactly the same words to title their version of this essay. The words "five pillars" are not inherently sacred; the same words might be used by Muslims in everyday speech, such as to describe architectural elements in a building.
Does this page list every single important principle?
No. It does not discuss the importance of using common sense, not charging money to readers, cooperating with Wikipedias in other languages, the desirability of making pages accessible to people with disabilities or limited internet access, or any number of other principles that the community has identified as important over the years.
Where can I find similar pages?
See Wikipedia:Principles.
WikiProject Essays
WikiProject iconThis page is within the scope of WikiProject Essays, a collaborative effort to organise and monitor the impact of Wikipedia essays. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion. For a listing of essays see the essay directory.
 Top  This page has been rated as Top-impact on the project's impact scale.

"Merciless" editing[edit]

"every past version of a page is saved," Not true. When my assertion, thst a capacitor does not have a self resonant frequenct, the thought Poolice kept moving my hyperlink to where I make the assertion, saying it was "sekf sewrving and inflsmmstory", wjem I repeated restoration of myh hyperlink the whole Wik article on the subject was removed. So the real self rsspnsnt freq. of an inductor does is not lolnger aired in #wik because it is too close to the case of the capacitor. Ivor Catt — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2A00:23C4:C27:6700:A563:98D5:EE4F:D96D (talk) 12:50, 2 October 2018 (UTC) Doesn't this article itself violate one of the pillars? The word "mercilessly" in the third pillar isn't NPOV. It's a loaded word which takes a certain stance on the process of editing. Surely "edited" is enough without the adverb. Anyone mind if I remove it? Peaky76 (talk) 15:40, 13 October 2017 (UTC)

NPOV applies to articles, not policies and guidelines. Nikkimaria (talk) 16:34, 13 October 2017 (UTC)
WP:NOTPART documents that. Dmcq (talk) 16:34, 13 October 2017 (UTC)
I don't even think it's POV. Poetic, perhaps, but expressive and painfully accurate and very helpful. Andrewa (talk) 18:13, 29 August 2018 (UTC)

Text proposal for 1st, 2nd and 4th pillars[edit]

I would like to discuss the text of the first, second, and fourth pillar. I see some problems with them. For example, while this page should describe the fundamental principles of Wikipedia to new users, some pillars are just a long and boring enumeration of policies. It's tiring for a new editor to read through a sea of links to policies, and we already have all important policies and guidelines in Template:Wikipedia policies and guidelines at the bottom of the page, so let's keep the pillars simple.

In the sections below I would like to propose and discuss a new text for each pillar. Here is how the complete page would look like with the proposal. What do you think? How can it be improved? Thank you. Atón (talk) 13:55, 7 December 2017 (UTC)

I expect that I am one of several hundred people who have the older text mostly memorized and can spout it off on request. I am up for discussing changes and I can think of parts of this which I think need modification, but there is some shared culture here. This is foundational text that everyone reads and this would not change quickly. I see every phrase in this as a declaration of civil rights. If anyone takes a right away, they need to have a thorough explanation.
Instead of proposing changes to so much sensitive text it would be easier for me to discuss a change to any part of it. If you ask a more narrow question then that might advance the conversation more readily. Blue Rasberry (talk) 03:42, 18 December 2017 (UTC)
Thank you Blue Rasberry, I'll try to keep it narrower. And excuse me if I sound too critical, I just remember how frustrating I found this page was when I read it as a total newcomer, and I just want to improve it. My biggest concern is the first pillar. It has become a long, not really inviting to read enumeration. Besides, I think that it's not very useful to throw 15 links at a new editor before even mentioning WP:VER and WP:NOR. In other words, I'm afraid that the first pillar doesn't accurately reflect our priorities and doesn't define what makes Wikipedia an encyclopedia, which is more confusing than clarifying for a new editor. I think one link to WP:NOT is enough, and I would prioritize WP:VER, WP:NOR, and WP:RS. Am I off the mark? To make this a bit more concrete, I would propose a return to how the pillar was up to 2010 but shortening the enumeration of WP:NOT clauses at the end. Would this be a bad idea? And what are those parts you think need modification? Atón (talk) 10:15, 18 December 2017 (UTC)
I think your first pillar is putting too much into it. WP:POLICY has a quick summary of why we're here, to 'further our goal of creating a free, reliable encyclopedia'. The current first pillar has the aim of explaining what an encyclopedia is. I would prefer it to be less negative but I don't want things like verifiability or original research mixed in.
As to the second pillar, what you have said is wrong. We do have to take sides rather than trying to give equal weight to quackery and stupidity like some television presenters do.
On the fourth one, yes perhaps there is a point in metioning that bad behavior will have consequences though 'discouraged' sounds a bit like test your limits to me.
Overall I do think shortening a bit would help. We want the important points and any others just detracts from them and I think overall the current words have passed the point of diminishing returns. Dmcq (talk) 13:44, 18 December 2017 (UTC)

First pillar[edit]

First pillar current vs. proposal


Encyclopedia icon.svg
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia
It combines many features of general and specialized encyclopedias, almanacs, and gazetteers. Wikipedia is not a soapbox, an advertising platform, a vanity press, an experiment in anarchy or democracy, an indiscriminate collection of information, or a web directory. It is not a dictionary, a newspaper, or a collection of source documents, although some of its fellow Wikimedia projects are.


Encyclopedia icon.svg
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia
All information in Wikipedia needs to be verifiable, that is, attributable to reliable, published sources. Wikipedia is not the place to publish original research; articles may not contain any new analysis or conclusion beyond what the individual sources say. Likewise, all content should be encyclopedic. Material that you wouldn't find in an encyclopedia, an almanac, or a gazetteer, is probably inappropriate for Wikipedia (see What Wikipedia is not), although it might be suitable for some of our fellow Wikimedia projects.

The current first pillar is especially uninspiring, as has been said before. It looks like the table of contents of WP:NOT more than a description of the first principle. In the proposal, the most fundamental policies are named first and with clear links: WP:VER, WP:NOR, and WP:NOT (WP:NPOV has its own pillar). These are the policies that define Wikipedia as an encyclopedia, and the most important to know for a new editor as well. Atón (talk) 14:00, 7 December 2017 (UTC)

Above, Aton said "My biggest concern is the first pillar. It has become a long, not really inviting to read enumeration. Besides, I think that it's not very useful to throw 15 links at a new editor before even mentioning WP:VER and WP:NOR. In other words, I'm afraid that the first pillar doesn't accurately reflect our priorities and doesn't define what makes Wikipedia an encyclopedia, which is more confusing than clarifying for a new editor. I think one link to WP:NOT is enough, and I would prioritize WP:VER, WP:NOR, and WP:RS. Am I off the mark? To make this a bit more concrete, I would propose a return to how the pillar was up to 2010 but shortening the enumeration of WP:NOT clauses at the end. Would this be a bad idea?"
I am reposting here to centralize discussion of this pillar.
Yes, I would like changes to this text, and yes, I do think that we can do better than multiple links to Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not. The 2010 version said, "All articles must strive for verifiable accuracy: unreferenced material may be removed, so please provide references." I think saying that could be worthwhile, or at least, maybe we should communicate this somehow.
The major complaint that I have about all proposals - 2010, current, and yours - is that none of them define encyclopedia, and instead all take for granted that the reader will understand what an encyclopedia is and that Wikipedia is exactly that concept. Instead, I think Wikipedia is not a traditional encyclopedia and that we should articulate some difference. I would like to define the term "encyclopedia" then say what is special about Wikipedia.
Perhaps I would like some phrase like "An encyclopedia is a summary of established knowledge from other sources", and then clarifying to say that Wikipedia is different from some other encyclopedias for requiring VER and NOR. Thoughts? How would you feel about changing the "what Wikipedia is not" text to "what Wikipedia is" in some way? Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:57, 18 December 2017 (UTC)
Thanks Bluerasberry and Dmcq. The pillar could start with a definition, as Bluerasberry has said. What defines an encyclopedia is that it is a reference work. Its aim is to compile existing knowledge, not to create new one. As I see it, that is VER and NOR in a nutshell. I don't see both policies—which are two sides of the same coin: content must be attributable—as something special to Wikipedia, but something that defines all reference works and therefore all encyclopedias. This is why I think they belong in the first pillar. I also like that the emphasis is made on verificability and reliable sources from the very start. A case could be made to keep VER and NOR in the second pillar, so all three "core policies" are together, but I think NPOV deserves a pillar of its own. The first pillar could be about why WP is an encyclopedia (attributable content and a specific scope), and the other pillars about what makes it special (NPOV, free content, collaborative editing, and IAR). I've come up with the following text, which I think it is an improvement on the previous proposal:
What do you think? Atón (talk) 12:02, 21 December 2017 (UTC)
That is jumping straight in the how without defining the what. We need to say what Wikipedia is or what its aims is, not how it is produced, in the first pillar. WP:POLICY gives the aim well as 'a free, reliable encyclopedia'. Wikipedia consists of linked articles summarizing knowledge about topics which have long term notability. Dmcq (talk) 12:30, 21 December 2017 (UTC)
I have some trouble visualizing what you mean. I think I understand it (make the first pillar something like the first question of wmf:FAQ?), but I don't see how it fits within the overal structure of the five pillars. As I see it, the five pillars form together a definition of Wikipedia: An encyclopedia written from a neutral point of view that anyone can use and edit, built by consensus and civility and, if necessary, ignoring all rules. And in turn each pillar describes the main policies implied in its part of the definition. Would you mind writing your idea of the pillar into a concrete proposal? In the meantime I've tweaked the proposal above a bit (added our aim is... and minor copyediting). Atón (talk) 10:53, 27 December 2017 (UTC)
@Atón: I like the part saying, "an encyclopedia is a summary of established knowledge from other sources". Wikipedia now defines the concept of encyclopedia. How would you feel about using this definition to go deeper into the current "although some of its fellow Wikimedia projects are" phrase and call out how we connect the encyclopedia to Wikidata's database, Commons' media repository, and the other supplemental illustrative information repositories? Blue Rasberry (talk) 11:55, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
@Bluerasberry: I'm open to exploring all possibilities. The problem is that I like my last proposal, so right now I have problems thinking from scratch about alternatives. It would be helpful if you could translate your idea into a sketch of a proposal, and we could work from that. Atón (talk) 16:26, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
If we had five pillars for a car manufacturer then the first pillar would say what a car was and what they wanted in their brand of car. It would not say what the employees should do or how they should behave or even what type materials they would use in building a car. "All information in Wikipedia needs to be verifiable, that is, attributable to reliable, published sources" is part of editors being neutral, what the first pillar should say instead is that it aims to be a reliable encyclopedia. Anything that goes in the first pillar should be about what a user would expect or not expect of what is produced. It is important that editors have a very clear idea of what their aim is and the other pillar are about how to go around doing that. The second pillar is about how editors should select and write up information for the encyclopedia. The third pillar covers the legal aspects of what is produced. The fourth is about the social aspect of Wikipedia editors and the fifth reiterates the first that the aim is to produce an trustworthy reliable encyclopedia and everything else is secondary. Dmcq (talk) 12:01, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
@Dmcq and Atón: I am unable to suggest something better but I can say that I am willing to consider striking the entirety of the current text of pillar 1. Like dmcq, I think that the first pillar should be a definition. The current first pillar text is using the Hindu neti neti definition for saying what Wikipedia is not but avoiding statements about what it is. but I think we can actually define encyclopedia somehow. I further agree with Dmcq's delineation of the pillars and their descriptions. It is hard for me to build on any proposal for change which does not introduce a definition. Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:35, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose removing this sentence from the beginning: "It combines many features of general and specialized encyclopedias, almanacs, and gazetteers." I believe that this sentence is important to make it clear that we definitely "encyclopedia" broadly rather than narrowly. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 00:18, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
@Cullen328: I feel that Almanacs and gazetteers are obsolete technology. The science function of almanacs is replaced with National Weather Service data and Google Maps and services like Yelp are the gazetteer. Can you say something about how you feel almanacs and gazetteers are more relevant to include in the definition here than some updated concept?
I think we have passed the point where "encyclopedias, almanacs, and gazetteers" define Wikipedia and now Wikipedia is the basis for anyone else deciding what to put in their updated variations of that kinds of paper-based technology. Blue Rasberry (talk) 11:55, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
Obsolete technology, Bluerasberry? Only if printed books in general are obsolete. The 150th anniversary edition of the World Almanac and Book of Facts 2018 is on sale now in printed and Kindle versions, and all major atlases, which are still published, include a gazetteer. Google Maps is very good for roads, rivers and basic physical features but notoriously inaccurate regarding settlements. I can see at least half a dozen glaring errors within ten miles of my home. As for Yelp, I use it all the time for finding the best local pizza parlors and seafood restaurants when I travel, but the notion that it is useful as a gazetteer is unsupported by any evidence. I want to keep that sentence in the first pillar because I often use it to support inclusion of articles about topics such as schools, since almanacs have historically included long lists of colleges and universities. I use it to support inclusion of articles about villages because gazetteers have historically had listings of villages including map coordinates, population figures, state or province, and so on. It is a very interesting exercise to sit down with an almanac, whether contemporary or decades old, to see how comprehensive and sweeping the information is, in the context of a single printed volume. I find the sentence under discussion to be a useful corrective to deletionist arguments. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 17:38, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
@Cullen328: I do not have data to prove it but I expect that Google Maps accounts for 80% of all consumer consulting of maps and 50% of commercial map consulting as well. Not all printed books are obsolete but yes, for the purpose of finding the shortest route between points and identifying places of general interest, I will claim that printed books are obsolete. Perhaps paper counts for 1% of map consulting, but I doubt even that.
I am from the US and I know the World Almanac. Based on the info in the Wikipedia article that publication probably does not meet WP:N. So far as I know it is the most respected and popular almanac in the world. I also agree that it is interesting but I think that it has niche value to people who are interested in old-time concepts of reference works.
I do not dispute that these sources have value but "almanac" and "gazetteer" are not familiar contemporary concepts and using them as concepts to explain Wikipedia already is a dated choice that is becoming less relevant every year. Most contemporary US college students have never touched a paper encyclopedia, whereas probably 99% of US college students born before 1985 had at some point in their lives. Even fewer now ever touch an almanac or gazetteer.
As it has turned out, Google is sort of the legacy of almanacs and gazetteers and somehow they became a major world political, cultural, financial, and every kind of power in that field. I think that it would be more meaningful to compare Wikipedia to something that is common in many people's lives as compared to something which was common in the near past.
What is your general feeling about this? Suppose we were to look for sources - what do you think we would find? Would you not agree that most people are using online services rather than the old paper sources? Why do you think we should mention the paper ones but not the online ones? How relevant do you think the paper ones are in comparison to their competition? Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:25, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
I simply cannot think of three words that taken together would better describe the breadth of what Wikipedia ought to be than "encyclopedia", "almanac" and 'gazetteer", Bluerasberry. None of these concepts are bound to paper, since many examples of all three of them can be found online these days. Anyone who does not know what a gazetteer is (I admit that the word is relatively uncommon these days) can simply click the blue link. In a minute, they will have a much better understanding of what Wikipedia ought to include. I do not favor severing ourselves from the history of reference works and how they have been structured. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 18:39, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
@Cullen328: It is not proper to use a less familiar concept to define a more familiar concept. The best way to define "encyclopedia", "almanac", and "gazetteer" is to say "Wikipedia". Wikipedia is the simple and familiar concept, not the other way around.
I have fond memories of these old reference works also but Wikipedia is different in some key ways. An aspect that appeals to me is that Wikipedia is not an authority, but instead cites and credits authorities. Those traditional models all claim authority in themselves and do not provide citations to third parties or a way to verify or argue their claims. Wikipedia has never tried to be an authority in that way, and yet the comparison with encyclopedias etc has led to terrible criticism of Wikipedia on the premise that paid staff authorities who do not cite sources are more reliable than a system of citing sources without the paid staff. For the differences and for the sake of Wikipedia being a failure according to the expectations of those old models, I would like to seek consideration of comparison to a base definition common to all of these things rather than saying that "Wikipedia is like an encyclopedia, except the definitive encyclopedia does this... which Wikipedia fails to do.".
I am not finding the historical baggage useful to advance understanding. Considering that Wikipedia is by far more popular, keeping the historical baggage is making less sense to me every year. I sympathize with your position because I am old enough to have used encyclopedias then started with Wikipedia. When I talk to college students now, though, they understand that encyclopedias are like Wikipedia and not the other way around. Can you think of a standard of relevance or popularity that Wikipedia would have to attain for you to recognize it as the definitive encyclopedia, almanac, gazetteer, etc? Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:53, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
Defining Wikipedia as Wikipedia is circular reasoning, and I think that I have made my wish to keep the three words in the Five Pillars quite clear. If consensus goes against me, so be it, Bluerasberry. I will certainly refer to this essay far less often as a result, and I will be sad about that. I think that my 50,000 edits are evidence that I recognize Wikipedia as "the greatest thing since sliced bread", as I say on my user page. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 20:41, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
The "almanacs and gazetteers" text expresses nicely the broad scope of Wikipedia—if you know what almanacs and gazetteers are. In my case, I had honestly never seen those words before. It's never too late to learn, but it would be distracting to have a blue link for each term. Besides, the five pillars are meant to summarize Wikipedia's policies and guidelines, but nowhere else is the "almanacs and gazetteers" reference to be found, at least not in WP:About or WP:NOT. We could express the broad scope of Wikipedia in other ways. As a compromise, would a summary of WP:NOT#Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia be a bad idea? Or maybe it could be used to introduce WP:N and WP:NOT: Wikipedia welcomes all topics as long as they have gained substantial coverage in multiple reliable sources and are not outside the scope of the encyclopedia (see What Wikipedia is not). Atón (talk) 20:51, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
PS: Or we could use "atlas" instead of "gazetteer". They are more or less the same thing, are they not? And atlas is a more recognizable term. Wikipedia has a broader scope than traditional paper encyclopedias, including elements of atlases and almanacs, but some content restrictions apply (see What Wikipedia is not). Something like that could be a nice compromise as well. Atón (talk) 00:11, 29 December 2017 (UTC)
@Cullen328: It is not my intent to draw you into a discussion you do not wish to have. If you have said enough then your point stands and neither would I dismiss it nor would I allow anyone else to do so. I agree with you about the circular reasoning, only I do not take for granted that people understand what an encyclopedia is, and I do not think that we establish mutual understanding by saying "Wikipedia is an encyclopedia". Even leaving aside the part where anyone can edit, the text alone of Wikipedia is so unlike any other encyclopedia that anyone expecting a traditional encyclopedia will fail to understand what is happening here. I know who you are on wiki, would never question your wiki-engagement, and hope you are enjoying this conversation. Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:42, 29 December 2017 (UTC)

alternative 2[edit]

Aton asked for my own suggestion. I have not thought this through but here is a first draft:


Encyclopedia icon.svg
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia
An encyclopedia is a summary of the best published, reliable sources which anyone has identified and shared in Wikipedia articles and discussion forums. Wikipedia presents all the context which readers would need to begin their understanding of any topic already covered in published, reliable sources along with citations to the original sources of that information. While the focus of Wikipedia is the text of the encyclopedia, it integrates with other Wikimedia projects as a multimedia reference work incorporating non-text media from Wikimedia Commons, data statements of fact from Wikidata, source texts from Wikisource, and a range of other complementary illustrative media.

Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:45, 28 December 2017 (UTC)

I'd aim even more at what a user sees. I'd say: The Wikipedia project aims to produce a wide ranging, free, and reliable encyclopedia on the net. It is a multimedia encyclopedia but text content is at its heart. All topics and their content should be based on reliable sources and chosen using objective criteria. Users can look up these sources by following the citations in articles. Related topics can be accessed via links. Dmcq (talk) 21:39, 29 December 2017 (UTC)
Now I get what you are proposing. It seems like you see the five pillars as a general introduction to Wikipedia, and as such your proposals look nice. As I see it, however, this page is a quick introduction to the main policies and guidelines for a starting editor—who doesn't feel like reading much. It's all about the policies and guidelines. The first pillar should at least introduce WP:What Wikipedia is not somehow, as that has always been the policy associated with it. Atón (talk) 22:32, 29 December 2017 (UTC)
I agree it should link to WP:NOT. However I do think it is extremely important for a person starting to edit Wikipedia to be told in very clear terms what it is they are supposed to be trying to produce. The number one key to a successful project is to know what the aim is. There is a problem with the current first pillar in that it says too much about what Wikipedia is not rather than what it is supposed to be. Knowing the policies and guidelines is not the most important thing to know before editing Wikipedia, in fact it is not necessary to read any policy or guideline before editing Wikipedia. But one really should edit in line with the aims of the encyclopedia. If an editor can do that they can mostly avoid wasting their time on the policies and guidelines even with years of editing. The rest of the pillars are for the rule oriented people, and. dare I say it, the trolls who just want to see how to screw things up for everyone else. Dmcq (talk) 22:52, 29 December 2017 (UTC)
How would you link to WP:NOT? Is something like "As an encyclopedia, not all kinds of information belong here—see What Wikipedia is not" insufficient? Atón (talk) 16:17, 4 January 2018 (UTC)
Something like that sounds fine to me. I think going on too much about what doesn't belong is edging towards WP:BEANS. Dmcq (talk) 17:19, 4 January 2018 (UTC)
@Dmcq and Atón: I would like to push you both harder at this. Why do you feel that encyclopedias need to be defined in terms of what they do not contain? Why can we not devote most of the explanation toward saying what Wikipedia is? Incidentally - I disagree with a lot of "not". Wikipedia is a dictionary - at Wikipedia:Wikipedia as a court source we have lots of instances where legal systems look to Wikipedia to define concepts. While Wikipedia is not a paper newspaper, unlike when these pillars were developed paper newspapers are no longer the standard of what people imagine as a news source. Wikipedia is the single most consulted source of information for practically all news topics in the English language. Google News, for example, links to the relevant Wikipedia for many major news stories and most of them (like plane crashes, military action, etc) where readers need broad context. I will not readily agree that someone can say "Wikipedia is not a newspaper" and expect that most of our users have the same understanding of what news is, or that they will all have a shared understanding of what we mean if we say that Wikipedia is not that. I do not object to linking to WP:NOT but I do want to push against relying on NOT as the definitive explanation of what an encyclopedia is, or what Wikipedia is. Are either of you willing to define the concept of encyclopedia, assuming that the first pillar is "Wikipedia is an encyclopedia"? Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:00, 4 January 2018 (UTC)

Second pillar[edit]

Second pillar current vs. proposal


Scale icon green.svg
Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view
We strive for articles that document and explain major points of view, giving due weight with respect to their prominence in an impartial tone. We avoid advocacy and we characterize information and issues rather than debate them. In some areas there may be just one well-recognized point of view; in others, we describe multiple points of view, presenting each accurately and in context rather than as "the truth" or "the best view". All articles must strive for verifiable accuracy, citing reliable, authoritative sources, especially when the topic is controversial or is on living persons. Editors' personal experiences, interpretations, or opinions do not belong.


Scale icon green.svg
Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view
All Wikipedia articles must be written from a neutral point of view. Articles must not take sides, but instead should describe—accurately and without bias—all the significant viewpoints on the topic published in reliable sources, giving due weight with respect to their prominence. Argumentation or advocacy does not belong in Wikipedia articles.

The idea is to dedicate the second pillar only to a description of WP:NPOV. The other core policies (WP:VER and WP:NOR) are already described in the first pillar's proposal. By making it only about WP:NPOV the second pillar gains clarity and strength. Atón (talk) 14:00, 7 December 2017 (UTC)

This pillar is basically about the how of actually writing. I would include notability of articles, and the verifiability and original research policies for the contents. They also ensure a neutral point of view for the contents of Wikipedia. It does need to be emphasized that WIkipedia neutral point of view is different from television presenter neutrality which putts pseudoscience quacks on the same footing as professors. Dmcq (talk) 12:37, 21 December 2017 (UTC)
I believe that BLP policy should be mentioned and linked to. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 00:31, 28 December 2017 (UTC)

Fourth Pillar[edit]

Fourth pillar current vs. proposal


Smiley icon orange.svg
Wikipedia's editors should treat each other with respect and civility
Respect your fellow Wikipedians, even when you disagree. Apply Wikipedia etiquette, and don't engage in personal attacks. Seek consensus, avoid edit wars, and never disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point. Act in good faith, and assume good faith on the part of others. Be open and welcoming to newcomers. Should conflicts arise, discuss them calmly on the appropriate talk pages, follow dispute resolution procedures, and consider that there are 5,766,434 other articles on the English Wikipedia to improve and discuss.


Smiley icon orange.svg
Wikipedia's editors should treat each other with respect and civility
Be polite and respectful at all times and assume good faith on the part of other editors. In case of disagreement, seek consensus on the appropriate talk pages and follow dispute resolution procedures. Personal attacks, edit warring or any other disruptive behaviour are highly discouraged.

Just a shorter and more structured version of the current pillar. Atón (talk) 14:00, 7 December 2017 (UTC)

  • "Highly discouraged" is much too weak to describe our policy positions regarding personal attacks, edit warring and disruptive editing. Certain personality types will immediately think, "OK. Discouraged but not forbidden. I will do it anyway, since it is not forbidden." Cullen328 Let's discuss it 00:26, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
    • Strongly agree, it should say forbidden or something equivalent to be consistent with wp:no personal attacks. On the other hand, in practice we gave up on that policy years ago IMO, and to our great cost. And any attempt to revive it meets with a barrage of enforcement is not Wikipedia-like objections. What we are overlooking is, people who are here for the right reasons should want to obey the rules anyway, especially those they don't like. IAR should be seen as empowerment, rather than a blank check to disempower others. Andrewa (talk) 17:29, 29 August 2018 (UTC)
      +1 to that Galobtter (pingó mió) 17:34, 29 August 2018 (UTC)


  • I think any proposals to significantly alter this page should be advertised at WP:Village pump (policy). It is always better to get more views on matters that pertain to the community as a whole. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 21:17, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
  • I couldn't possibly agree more. No changes to the pillars should even be considered without an RfC with the widest possible community advertisement. Four editors? I don't bloody think so. ―Mandruss  17:58, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
There's 913 watchers for this page so it is not as though it is some guideline on list formats that no-one is interested in until suddenly it makes a difference. Dmcq (talk) 18:16, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
Well, this has a huge impact; would need a RfC on VPP advertised on CENT to change it. VPP has 3000 watchers. Galobtter (pingó mió) 18:23, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
913 watchers (how many are active?) do not constitute a community venue, any more than 2,033 do at WP:MOS. Even MOS issues often have an RfC at WP:VPP—or at WT:MOS advertised at WP:VPP—and I daresay changes to pillars need more community involvement than MOS issues. ―Mandruss  18:40, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
Just now saw the watchers comment. Like Mandruss stated, how many are active? When it comes to talk page watchers, many or most are not active due to the accumulation of watchers over the years and the fact that most people who try to be a Wikipedia editor don't stay around for long. For some, it's a week, others a month, and others one or a couple or few years. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 20:01, 27 August 2018 (UTC)

This totally does belong on the village pump.  pythoncoder  (talk | contribs) 21:09, 18 October 2018 (UTC)

Any order of precedence to five pillars?[edit]

Is there any order of precedence to five pillars? Or parallel? Wordmasterexpress (talk) 02:23, 6 March 2018 (UTC)

we have Wikipedia:Principles--Moxy (talk) 03:04, 6 March 2018 (UTC)
Well there is a pretty evident priority order: ;-)
  • 4>5 Civility is more important than Ignore all Rules!
  • 1>4 Wikipedia is an Encyclopaedia is more important than just being a warm and cuddly forum.
  • 2>1 It is more important to have the facts right than have a mess of peoples observations.
  • 3>2 It is all very well collecting and checking facts but the whole thing is just a waste of time if nobody uses it.
  • 4>3 It is all very well talking about distributing a free encyclopaedia but what is really needed is a community of people that can work on the project.
  • 5>2 We're not idiots, we can't just stick in rubbish, fringe and the stupid sayings of politicians as fact just because most sources repeat it.
WP:POLICY say in the section about content "Maintain scope and avoid redundancy.", and "Not contradict each other.". Even if there is some priority it shouldn't matter much. It isn't as though this statement of main principles was especially onerous to read. Dmcq (talk) 17:39, 11 May 2018 (UTC)

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia written for the benefit of its readers[edit]

A discussion at WP:VPP concerns whether "for the benefit of its readers" should be restored to the first pillar, as seen in this 8 March 2008 permalink. Johnuniq (talk) 23:31, 25 August 2018 (UTC)

Thanks for posting that. If rough consensus is reached there that the clause should be restored, would there be any objection here to the change being made?
So far there seems agreement that the principle is true and valid, and as far as we can see there was no consensus to remove it or even discussion. But there has been some debate about whether it's necessary to spell it out. See the discussion there, and contributions welcome of course. Andrewa (talk) 11:37, 27 August 2018 (UTC)
Wikipedia is for everybody, regardless of whether they read it, republish it, use it, listen to it, look at the pictures, etc. If you would like to boil all of that down to "readers" that's fine but pointless. More importantly, it's irrelevant to the first pillar, which is about what Wikipedia is, not who it's for. "For the readers" could be wedged into any of the pillars in some fashion, and just distracts/confuses from what it's actually supposed to communicate. There might be consensus to restore the phrase at some point, but I'd expect to see it open for quite a bit longer, and hope that you will avoid the multi-page posting of "people who oppose it actually agree with it in some way" summaries. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 14:04, 27 August 2018 (UTC)
I certainly didn't mean to create multi-page posting of "people who oppose it actually agree with it in some way" summaries. I see what you mean I think. Yes, it does seem to me that you agree with the principle, but don't want it stated in the policy. Am I misquoting you there? Andrewa (talk) 19:36, 27 August 2018 (UTC)
This is not a discussion about general principles and wikiphilosophies. It's a specific proposal. Trying to find agreement on some underlying principle, abstracted from the context that alone makes it relevant to the present discussion, is a rhetorical move I'm not inclined to go along with. Perhaps your intention is not for it to be rhetorical, but given the context of your specific proposal, that's its function. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 19:57, 27 August 2018 (UTC)
No, this is a discussion about the whole section. It's a heads-up to interest people in a discussion they might otherwise have missed. Discuss the details there please rather than forking it here. (And I apologise for allowing that to happen myself above.) Andrewa (talk) 17:37, 29 August 2018 (UTC)
+1 on that last part. What I have agreed with is the self-evident principle (I agree with all self-evident principles). What I have opposed is the change to the pillars, and they are two completely different things. Don't conflate them, please. ―Mandruss  16:56, 27 August 2018 (UTC)
It seems to me that you are actually supporting a previously undiscussed change to the pillars, rather than opposing something new.
But exactly what is this self-evident principle with which you agree? Is it that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia written for the benefit of its readers? That's what is under discussion. I'm sorry if you think I'm misquoting you in some way. Andrewa (talk) 19:36, 27 August 2018 (UTC)
Please stop trying to characterize an edit from ten years ago as though it was improper because a handful of people discussed a change a year prior. The edit was uncontested and stood for ten years. You are challenging it now and we are evaluating whether there is consensus to restore, but trying to force your perspective by characterizing the edit as out of process is not helpful. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 19:57, 27 August 2018 (UTC)
Is it that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia written for the benefit of its readers? Yes. That's what is under discussion. No. What's under discussion is a change to the pillars. ―Mandruss  20:16, 27 August 2018 (UTC)
See above. Andrewa (talk) 17:37, 29 August 2018 (UTC)