Wikipedia talk:Five pillars

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Q: Is this page a policy or guideline, or the source for all policies and guidelines?
A: 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 and WP:NOT were begun in 2001, WP:IAR in 2002, and WP:NOR and WP:V were written in 2003.
Q: What was this page originally based on?
A: It was an expansion of WP:Trifecta.
Q: Does the title refer to the Five Pillars of Islam?
A: No. It also has nothing to do with the Five Precepts of Buddhism or the Five Pillars puzzle.
Q: Even though it has nothing to do with the Five Pillars of Islam, won't Muslim people be offended anyway?
A: 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.
Q: Does this page list every single important principle?
A: 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.
Q: Where can I find similar pages?
A: See Wikipedia:Principles.
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Wikipedia must survive[edit]

Based on my experience and understanding of the project, I'd say that the long-term survival of Wikipedia is an important goal that motivates several actions taken by the Foundation and the community, including maybe the foundation of the Foundation itself. Would you agree? Under what pillar would it fall? Or is it just taken for granted? --Felipe (talk) 06:31, 14 September 2015 (UTC)

This really isn't necessary to encode in the pillars, which are more about how the Wikipedia is and how its editors should operate. The higher level statement is the Wikimedia Foundation's Mission Statement, which already says "The Foundation will make and keep useful information from its projects available on the Internet free of charge, in perpetuity." Jason Quinn (talk) 15:35, 14 September 2015 (UTC)

Am so happy to be part of Wikipedia now,can't wait to give my first contribution Adebayo14292012 (talk) 18:21, 14 June 2016 (UTC)

Chiseling pillars 11/29 to[edit]

Heya @Risker, Johnuniq, Swarm, and Flyer22 Reborn: - Good to be working with alyawl on these pillars of ours. Sequence so far:

  1. I misread the markups on Par 1, and "fixed" something that wasn't broken
  2. Risker saved me from myself
  3. I wikifed "impartial tone" and changed "major" to significant (which is the word WP:NPOV uses in its lede). Ironic and sad that we Wikpedians have developed our own jargon. But since we already have our own technical dictionary anyway, we ought to at least use our jargon consistently. We're confusing enough as it is.
  4. Johnuniq reverted my edit: "written from a neutral point of view" is linked so another link to the same page is not needed; "the major" is easy to understand while "significant" is in the eye of the beholder
  5. I don't agree, for reasons above, but left it alone. not a big deal.
  6. I removed "carved in stone" from "Wikipedia has policies and guidelines, but they are not carved in stone; their content and interpretation can evolve over time." I noted it's a Cliché, and adds nothing to sentence. "Wikipedia has policies and guidelines, but their content and interpretation can evolve over time" says exactly the same thing, but shorter, and clear of cliché.
  7. Swarm reinserted the cliche: Totally disagree, this is a simple and direct way of explaining this pillar. The fundamental cornerstone of all rules on Wikipedia cannot be made too clear in this context.
  8. I agree with you on principle. Evolutionary change ought to be stressed. How to do that without cliche? How about "Wikipedia does have policies and guidelines, but our rules do change, with changes in consensus." (1) it's descriptive, not speculative, (2) it puts emphasis on our evolutionary process, (3) corrects the redundant "evolve over time", and (4) clearly states that we change our rules by consensus.
  9. Flyer22 Reborn: Re-added WP:Due link. WP:Due is an aspect of WP:Neutral, and too many people mistake what being neutral means on Wikipedia.
  10. I was thinking similar thoughts when I wikified "impartial tone, but Johnuniq reverted me. So I'll let you guys sort that out. no big deal to me. What is a big deal to me is that we understand each other.

Summary and commentary by LeoRomero (talk) 17:42, 30 November 2015 (UTC)

For reference, before-and-after permalinks are 04:44, 17 November 2015 and 16:44, 30 November 2015, and the change is diff. I'll need some time to digest the changes but I suspect I could easily be talked into supporting the original because even removing "the" from "the major points of view" involves a subtle change of meaning. Much of the new wording is more elegant, but careful examination would be needed to decide whether it is useful here. By the way, the ping to me in the above did not work—don't know why. Johnuniq (talk) 02:42, 1 December 2015 (UTC)

What's Missing: the Reader Experience[edit]

What seems to be missing from the five pillars is anything related to the reader's experience. Sure we try to make sure it's neutral and accurate, but there's no focus on convenience, ease of reading, good writing style, and proving relevant information to the visitor in a thoughtful manner. As a consequence, we clutter up our articles with distracting banners, hatnotes, excess images, inconsistent formatting, disorganized presentation, meandering text, and lists of miscellanea. I know there's been an effort to address that with the FA criteria and the style guide, but it's still not a part of the Five Pillars. Just saying... Praemonitus (talk) 19:16, 29 June 2016 (UTC)

That's all covered by the first pillar. It is a reference work which means it must be useful to refer to. Dmcq (talk) 13:00, 10 July 2016 (UTC)

The 5th pillar is problematic?[edit]

I find the 5th pillar a little wrongly worded. Written rules on an online encyclopedia should be regarded as having no interpretation. One thing is to say they can change over time, another is that they're subject to interpretation. What's the point with "The principles and spirit matter more than literal wording"? Does it mean there's always space for discussion? In such case it should say something like "Discussion means more than literal wording", otherwise it does imply aproximation and freedom to exploit it. SuperSucker (talk) 12:52, 7 August 2016 (UTC)

Indeed it's curious to read that this page is supposed to be an improvement of this one. SuperSucker (talk) 13:25, 7 August 2016 (UTC)

@SuperSucker. I think your comment is stemming from a false assumption. It appears you believe that written statements have a fixed meaning and therefore never need "interpretation" or forbid the need for "approximation". This is untrue. Interpretation of natural language, written or not, entails these things. There is no greater demonstration of this than the subject of law. Laws are written to be precise yet the diversity of real word edges cases frequently exposes the limits of those laws when interpreted too literally. Interpretation of law is constantly evolving and involves the balance between the "spirit" and "letter" of the law. We have the same problem with our policies and we've formalized the idea that the "spirit" of the policies is more important than what the policies actually say. This is a good thing. Jason Quinn (talk) 21:20, 7 August 2016 (UTC)
No that's wrong. Policies are not supposed to be contradictory, that's all. It appears you believe policies and laws are supposed to be interpreted rather than observed. If we're supposed to observe the spirit (?) of policies rather than their means, why don't we "formalize" that into policies? Spirit can't be formalized I guess? Everyone observes policies, there would be no wikipedia as we know it without them. There couldn't be a wiki, a project, a collaborative effort of this kind. Spirit? Whatever. SuperSucker (talk) 01:05, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
It is formalized that we observe the spirit of the policies rather than the wording. That's the fifth pillar, aka Wikipedia:Ignore all rules. The spirit of the policies is to make a great encyclopedia and we don't let the wording of the policies get in the way of that goal. And, again, it is pragmatically impossible to have a set of policies sufficiently complex enough to be applicable in real world scenarios yet that you can be sure will never be self-contradictory or strained by edge cases. This is born out by experience and is "especially true" when those policies are constantly evolving by the edits of many different people operating in uncoordinated ways. Law and philosophy students spend a great deal of time examining the limits of language and statements (for example through legal conundrums and attempts at moral standards) and and we have all the same problems here Wikipedia. The best we can do is hope to make the policies as guidelines as consistent as possible while aiming for acceptable brevity. Jason Quinn (talk) 10:17, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
Ok, so we agree to observe the policies, write them, and then agree to observe their spirit instead? What is this? That's like formalizing bad faith. Tremendously wrong. SuperSucker (talk) 12:55, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
If you think so then WP:FIXIT. Wish you luck. Jason Quinn (talk) 13:20, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
I can't fix anything without consensus. That's how it works, isn't? SuperSucker (talk) 14:01, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
(ec)No one is required to pledge allegiance to the the policies and guidelines of Wikipedia. You seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what policies and guidelines are on Wikipedia, how they are formed, and how they function. olderwiser 13:23, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
Would you care going further explaining what you mean? SuperSucker (talk) 14:01, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
I don't think I can explain it any better than others already have. Just look at the various essays linked at WP:IAR. olderwiser 14:28, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
I just clicked on this essay. What can I say? "Rules are for children" - "Be a sinner and sin boldly" - "Rules are for fools" - "Break the rules" ??? Do you realize these are found written in public toilets? SuperSucker (talk) 14:43, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

OK, enough. We are not going to redesign the basic operating principles of Wikipedia just because a single editor (with a grand total of two article edits, both immediately reverted as inaccurate) doesn't like it. SuperSucker, if you have this much trouble grasping the the concept of Wikipedia you may find Citizendium better suits your taste; everyone else, don't feed him. ‑ Iridescent 14:48, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

Far from me to suggest a redesign of the basic operating principles of Wikipedia. I'm just suggesting to have the 5th pillar fixed somehow. Anyway. SuperSucker (talk) 15:00, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
This is starting to sound like troll baiting. olderwiser 15:08, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
I find that offensive. SuperSucker (talk) 15:18, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
I'm afraid I have to agree with Iridescent. As far as I can see your only edit is to stick in some bad example of your own into an article and then argue with another editor when they pointed that out. There is a policy WP:OR which says you shouldn't have done that, it is mentioned in pillar 2. Not being able to get a job because of not having the experience on the other hand is a well known example of catch-22, e.g. [1]. Dmcq (talk) 16:01, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
I'm afraid I have to keep agreeing with myself against a plethora of distorted opinions.
Regarding my edit at catch-22 (logic): I thought the job example was fine, and even that it should be the first one (because it's well-known). I just wanted to add a more pertinent one. Instead I've been replied with pure confusion. SuperSucker (talk) 18:29, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

What's a typewriter?[edit]

I asked a question about the phrasing of the first pillar in the Village Pump. Please reply there. Will eventually be archived in approximately Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 130. – b_jonas 20:57, 6 October 2016 (UTC)