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, WP:NOT and WP:IAR were first written down on Wikipedia in 2001, 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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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)

😯 Wethepeople2017 (talk) 21:43, 23 January 2017 (UTC)

Is it Oxford paid actor to talk to His Queen the romantic view or the beauty of remaining anonimus to the test of time. Wethepeople2017 (talk) 21:50, 23 January 2017 (UTC)

Is just ink and paper ...not a such of thing called typewriter 😀 Wethepeople2017 (talk) 21:51, 23 January 2017 (UTC)

God bless Unicorn! Wethepeople2017 (talk) 21:54, 23 January 2017 (UTC)

Present Tense[edit]

I use Wikipedia frequently and I am very tired of reading about events from months or years past where the author has used present tense. This is a nuisance when someone wrote such and such is happening now, or such and such happened recently, when there is no reference time given within the sentence, paragraph, etc. It prevents the reader from fully understanding a timeline without viewing the source material, thereby adding countless hours of work to fix the issue.

e.g. As of the time of this post, 2016/12/05, "Stein petitioned for a recount in these states, which is currently underway in Wisconsin and scheduled to begin in Michigan; the recount effort in Pennsylvania was later dropped. The Clinton campaign pledged to participate in the recount efforts, while Trump backers are challenging the effort in court.[21][22][23]" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2016

This is a systematic problem of Wikipedia in regards to writing about current events and will become more and more of an issue as time progresses. I am unsure where to lodge the complaint other than here, but I think it should be added into the Second Pillar under the guise of 'neutral point of view', insomuch as it is neutral to time or date.Nemoscis (talk) 23:42, 5 December 2016 (UTC)

I think the talk page of the Wikipedia:Manual of Style is probably best for that. Dmcq (talk) 12:34, 6 December 2016 (UTC)

New icons proposal[edit]

Hi! I see some problems with the actual icons:

  • They don't illustrate the content of each pillar, which is a missed opportunity. (It also took me some time to realise what the icons actually represent, it's not that clear).
  • The use of color is problematic: green is normally attributed to something good, red to something to be avoided. To put them in chromatic order (blue/green-yellow-red) makes things even more misleading. The first impression might be that of a list 'from good to bad' (that was actually my first impression).

As a solution to these two problems I propose to use icons that illustrate each pillar in black and white. You can see how it would look in Wikipedia talk:Five pillars/icons proposal. The icons used are from The Noun Project, where there are thousands of icons in the same style to choose from (I also changed a bit the code to make the layout look nicer). Would anyone object? Greetings! Sgomag (talk) 15:25, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

Thanks for the proposal but people are sure to object for a variety of reasons. For example, some editors are used to the fact that Wikipedia:Five pillars#Green identifies the green pillar. Also, the current icons, while being meaningless, support the pillars theme of the page. The icons in the proposal are fine, but they do not add anything to the page—a fancy W is no more helpful than a blue pillar. Finally, since the page is short, having five completely unrelated icons is somewhat jarring. Johnuniq (talk) 23:20, 8 December 2016 (UTC)
I wouldn't mind a change. The first icon doesn't really show the subject, it just says it is about Wikipedia. Perhaps a finger over a book showing a person looking something up would be better. I'm not sure a handshake shows civility, we want civility even when people disagree. Perhaps it was to show consensus? I haven't the foggiest what the icon for pillar 5 is in aid of. What we want to express is that the rules may be broken if that is best for the encyclopaedia content. Dmcq (talk) 23:51, 8 December 2016 (UTC)
Hi. Thanks for your comments and sorry for the late reply. I've taken your objections into consideration and changed the proposal. You can see it in Wikipedia talk:Five pillars/icons proposal. I hope you'll find it an improvement.
  • You are right the "green pillar" has to be green so I've kept the colors but tamed them a bit in order to avoid the problem with the color code (e.g. red=prohibition). Also, the way the color is applied –as a circle– helps uniformize the icons and avoid the 'jarring' effect.
  • I've changed or simplified the icons. The first icon is now a depiction of an online enciclopedia. The third pillar has become a jigzaw piece to represent content as it's a theme in the logo of Wikipedia (an alternative could be the logo of Creative Commons but in my opinion that'd be duller). The fourth icon speaks for itself and the last icon is a lightbulb to represent innovation. They can always be changed later for better ones, of course. (The actual icons in the page are supposed to represent pillars but many people mistake them with werid academic caps. A better option to reinforce the "pillar theme" would be the classical ionic capitel with its recognizable volutes, but I'd still find it a missed opportunity).
  • I've tweaked the layout to make each principle stand out and make it look more structured. This "icon-title-text" layout is what many professional webpages use.
Keep in mind that newcomers are the principal target of this page and for them it is a lot of new information. Both the icons and the new layout present it in a clearer and more attractive way, which always helps. I hope you consider this a move in the right direction. Atón (talk) 12:47, 21 January 2017 (UTC) (PD: I'm Sgomag but I've recently changed my name to Atón).
The proposal is good but it may not be worth doing. Having five different icons in such a short page makes it too similar to the fluffy, content-free websites that many Wikipedians don't like. You can try it and see what happens because there may not be much feedback until that happens. The subheadings are helpful. Johnuniq (talk) 01:41, 22 January 2017 (UTC)
Done, let's see what happens. By the way, as a finishing touch I've removed the links from the subheadings and integrated them in the body of text. That way the pillars won't get confused with the one policy they link, and it looks neater to me. Atón (talk) 11:01, 6 February 2017 (UTC)

8-fold path[edit]

Shall we have an RfC about a new Wikipedian way? Om. (IAR could thereby be represented by an eight-ball.) SashiRolls (talk) 15:47, 18 December 2016 (UTC)

Om mani padme hum. with no reason this won't run. Dmcq (talk) 18:57, 18 December 2016 (UTC)