Wikipedia talk:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards/Archive 6

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Archive 5 | Archive 6 | Archive 7



Material that is in the topical archive is not intended to be in the chronological archive. Maurreen 14:51, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Chronological archive

For older discussion, see:

  1. Wikipedia talk:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards (archive1)
    • How does this differ from existing Peer Review?
    • Adam Carr's frustrating experience with Holocaust and Great Purge
    • Discussion on the use of sources for different purposes and of the possibility of articles (possibly in a different name space, but consensus seemed to go the other way) about sources. Reference to isnad. Mackensen advocates using only peer-reviewed sources, Adam Carr concurs, Jmabel dissents (much of our subject matter not well covered there), Mackensen agrees primary documents are also relevant. Discussion of hierarchy of journals, abstracts, templates and categories for source material, books vs. journals,
    • How do we get the best of both worlds as Wikipedia grows up? How do we accommodate expert and non-expert editors? Flagging "stable" versions? Forking?
    • Do Ph.D.s and doctoral candidates deserve a privileged status as editors/reviewers? Is there some other way to characterize "serious editors"?
    • Discussion of the Sokal Affair
    • Stan Shebs on some areas being conflictual, others not.
  2. Wikipedia talk:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards (archive2)
    • Discussion of editorial arbitration and who is qualified to do it
      • whether one's real identity needs to be public for this role
      • possibility of election to this role
      • difficulty of finding people who are highly qualified in an area who would not be parties to a dispute in that area (presumably more than typically likely to have edited).
    • "Tiers" of articles, discussion of whether some featured articles are actually "pretty bad"
    • Systemic bias of the "expert point of view"?
    • "...if anyone wants to change the basic nature, they should start their own encyclopedia, although it can build off Wikipedia." - Maurreen
    • Might it be best to start this in non-contentious areas?
    • Note on distinguishing strictly editorial matters from those with a technical component (e.g. flagging "stable" versions).
  3. Wikipedia talk:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards (archive3)
    • Slrubenstein and others contend "the PhD. peer-review process is not a great model."
      • In response, some discussion of where a firm decision by an "expert panel" may have particular value.
      • Possibility of "think-tank to address thorny issues in enforcing 'verifiability' and other related standards. (Slrubenstein again)
      • "If the article is non-contentious, is the lack of sources that big a deal? ... it's often very difficult to find sources for a lot of things." - Shane King
    • Discussion of the difficulty of finding citation for certain kinds of information and of what the Wikipedia:No original research policy means.
    • "Is it time for a cabal?" (humor alert) - Jmabel
    • Possible test cases: Taxman is compiling a list of featured articles that are insufficiently referenced.
    • The special aspects of this role: "willingness to acknowledge the inconvenient fact as readily as the convenient one, and to strengthen the citations for even positions we disagree with" - Jmabel
    • To what extent are we trying to become a scholarly reference? Maybe just background reading?
    • Possibility of a mission statement
    • Is anyone aware of good work in these directions in Wikipedias in other languages? (no one seemed to be)
  4. Wikipedia talk:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards (archive4)
    • "This page is all over the place", but we seem to be starting to generate at least a list of topics and areas of concern; suggestions for direction from Maurreen
    • Amgine on "candidacy...similar to FAC"
    • Possibility of weekly collaboration or something similar
    • mydogategodshat proposes "A democratic alternative to a two-tier system"; several others disagree, but "transparency" is endorsed.
    • Discussion of "discrimination" in some people's emphasis on formal academic credentials. Discussion of how else we may define "discerning editor".
      • "The 'I know this person' model breaks down as the contributor pool gets larger." (Noel)
    • Maureen's and ChrisG's proposals on approval mechanisms are now part of Wikipedia:Approval_mechanism.
    • Slrubenstein says he's confused and we need to clarify goals.
    • Comments on Google Scholar
    • Forseti Against a democratic review and response by ChrisG. How do we get a meritocracy without an oligarchy?
      • Maureen's first draft of a mission statement
    • Mentions of several related pages; these links have all been added to the project page
    • Fred Bauder on jurisdiction of the arbitration commitee
    • Talk:Finnic, Talk:Finno-Ugric languages, Talk:Uralic languages as possible test cases for editorial disputes.
    • "Emergency request" for help on Cultural and Historical Background of Jesus (Slrubenstein in disagreement with Amgine); some question as to whether this crosses up usual mediation process. -- Jmabel | Talk 23:28, Nov 23, 2004 (UTC)
    • Mediation/arbitration and disputes with extremists (in particular, LaRouche followers)
    • Maurreen on how this relates to RfC and on "breadth and quality"
  5. Wikipedia talk:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards (archive5)
    • Recent event articles
    • Difficulty in using Wikipedia as a source, unstability
    • Jmabels refactoring of project page and archiving material
      • Forum as a think tank
      • Mission statement
      • Description of main issues
    • RfC: How well does it work, how it might work better
    • Version 1.0 Editorial Team announcement
    • Maurreen's reorganizing, suggestion to coordinate or move some stuff
    • Editorial arbitration, Jmabel's idea of a "web of trust" SlimVirgin's idea of advisory groups, also building off lists of Wikipedians, and Wikipedia does have "trust matrix" somewhere, 172's original idea and elaboration, with Jmabel's comments
    • Spreading the word
    • Standards
      • Suggestions from 172, Amgine, Adam, ChrisG, Maurreen
      • Summary of suggested elements of standards
        • General: accurate; apearance; comprehensive; edited and proofread properly, overall quality of writing; legally OK, no libel or copyright violations; levels, media-specific requirements; NPOV; proportional; stable (ie, don't change all the time) -- appears to be desired by a minority.
        • References and related: Footnotes or citations for statements of fact; opinions ascribed; quotes footnoted; bibliography of supportive and relevant source items, articles, texts, web sites;
      • Slrubenstein's comments: "I think we should look at which existing standards are too often misunderstood or ignored, and discus ways that we can encourage more effective compliance with those standards (from mentoring to mediation)." Divide list between those already in current policies and those not. Review and improve current policies as needed. What are our priorities (not behaviour guidelines)? Consider committees, article tags and mentoring.
      • Maurreen's concern about libel.
      • Merlot peer review guidelines.
    • Referencing in articles, source category for articles about sources.

Topical archive

  1. Wikipedia talk:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards archive (approval mechanisms) These have also been copied to Wikipedia:Approval mechanism.
    • Maurreen's proposal 2: "Reviewed articles"
    • Editorial board(s), contributed by anon
    • ChrisG's template and process
    • Endorsements idea


I know that a lot has been archived very rapidly: we've generated something like 200KB of discussion in a little over a week. I encourage anyone who thinks that their good idea may have been lost in the shuffle to dig it out of the archive, put it on a wikipedia:-space page of its own (or add it to a relevant one), and link it from Wikipedia:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards. -- Jmabel | Talk 01:01, Nov 24, 2004 (UTC)

Recommended archive locations

Are these okay? Any other suggestions? :ChrisG 19:25, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Software assisted citation?

As briefly mentioned here, I think it would help a lot if we had a reference manager functionality in our software. I don't know if there are any projects underway or if there is any opensource code that we might use, but I think the idea as such should be discussed. My idea in brief: bibliographic information for any source of information should be entered only once and then automagically be quoted by some simple inline command in the wikitext. The software should the make this a reference and organize a literature list for each article in a consistent format. Online query of scientific databases (like PubMed) should also be possible to access bibliographic information and possibly abstracts and/or fulltext. In a word, we should a have an open source EndNote (TM) clone. Ideas? Kosebamse 18:20, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I've had similiar ideas to this. I want references to be reusable throughout Wikipedia. That is, once a reference is set up within Wikipedia that particular reference could be used wherever appropriate. Another major benefit of this is that discussion of the appropriateness of a reference would be consolidated in one place. And if that reference is updated or identified as inaccurate this would amend the reference in all the articles it is used.
I would like the software to automatically create the endnotes or bring up a tooltip (perhaps depending on user configuration), pulling the information from wherever in Wikipeda it sits.  :ChrisG 20:46, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Related software, such as EndNotes, exist and exemplify some of the shortcomings of such tools. On the other hand, it would be very useful to be able to use a {{ref|reference id}} which would automatically build a ==References== section with the footnoted resources, or even simply a link to a reference citation page. The problem would be to make the list of references browseable in any reasonable fashion would require a considerable development and editing effort. (I have myself spent more than 3 weeks doing nothing but keying citations into EndNotes, just for my personal article collection.) - Amgine 02:26, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Can I suggest you add this idea into the bugzilla database? Feature suggestions lodged there have a much better chance of getting worked on. Shane King 04:02, Nov 25, 2004 (UTC)

I would suggest to refine the concept (much) further before making it a feature request. At the least there should be an idea of

  • what the user interface should look like
  • what should go into the database
  • how is the output integrated into wikitext
  • should there be a category system for references (any librarians around to give advice on this?)
  • and what should be demanded of an online query for bibliographic information

If done, this project may have implications for several other Wikimedia projects, so it might be appropriate to move the discussion to meta and set up a project page there. And, of course, keep integrated with the general thrust of the encyclopedic standards project. Kosebamse 06:33, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I think there's also some merit in getting something up and running, and working to iteratively improve on it. That's the wiki way after all, I see no reason why the mediawiki software can't be included in that ideal. Anyway, it was just a thought. Shane King 06:46, Nov 25, 2004 (UTC)

I agree that there is no reason not to work in that way. However, as this could have implications far and wide, we should have some kind of concept before we approach the developers; also, I imagine that a developer would prefer to see some kind of concept instead of just an idea. Kosebamse 12:09, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Do we need to reinvent the wheel? There are a number of standards for references which could be used as the database template (APA for example). There is no way to standardize a valuation for a given resource, since the quality of articles in a given journal fluctuates based on available submissions and the members of their review panels. However, the method by which articles are reviewed - editorial reviewed, juried, blind juried, etc. - is usually indicative of quality. (But not entirely, for example some journals are known for having biased review panels for a specific POV; e.g. New England Journal of Medicine once known for refusing to even review naturopathic medicine articles, and their review panels are still believed biased against such.)
One other comment - An encyclopedia is not a research articles index. Critiques are regularly published in the research journals. A student/researcher shouldn't be looking to Wikipedia to find resources, but to a relevant index (such as Medline, in the example above.) Having a brief synopsis of content or focus may be useful, but more than that is redundant, imo. - Amgine 16:42, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

--I agree that we should not reinvent the wheel. If there are standards for references that we could use, that would be fine and possibly would help for interoperability with other databases. --Regarding evaluation of sources, that will certainly not be easy. One first step however would be to categorise sources according to what they are, not how good they are (as mentioned by Amgine). --Regarding the "template", I just realised that "template" has a specific meaning WRT MediaWiki. That's not what I was thinking of, rather a standardised format for data about a source (bibliographical and other). --Wikipedia should indeed not try to be a research articles index. There are professional institutions who can do that better. --One more thought: There have been several suggestions for evaluation systems for users ("trust metrics") and article content ("sifter project" and related ideas). Would it make any sense to create a "Grand Unified Evaluation Standard" for all similar purposes? So that, in the end, a reader would just click a button for an article/user page/reference to see that the content/quality-of-contributions/reliabilty-of-source has been reviewed and is thought to have such and such a quality? Kosebamse 17:39, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I'm not suggesting that Wikipedia would replace these research indexes. Though as far as I was aware, most of the good ones are only avaliable if you are a student or an academic (though I would be happy to learn that things have changed in the last few years). So for the reader there is an access issue, and even more saliently, most of our readers would not go near a research index to get their information, because they are not looking of that level of specificity. What I am trying to say is if for the purposes of an encyclopedia we need to reference a specific research study, then by definition that probably makes it an important study; then there should be an article about in on Wikipedia that is accessible to the general reader (and just as importantly our general editor). Currently Wikipedia only has articles on a few landmark studies, and I think that is a huge gap. Wikipedia's role is to produce accessible knowledge; we are always going to be behind the start of art in academic research, but we should be summarising the status quo. Achieveing that would enhance Wikipedia in a number of ways and would be incredibly useful to the non-academic.
With regard to your standard template, or in Wikipedia terms format of data. You might want to look at the Wikidata project. The basic idea of this project is store all the data which is currently located in infoboxes on Wikipedia, in a database format avaliable for all, so making it reusable for multiple projects and circumstances. In the Wikipedia articles we would pull the appropriate Wikidata into our infoboxes.
I don't think we can give a metric for credibility across the board. Wikipedia can just provide a NPOV article about a study or set of studies; or source and we have to trust the reader to come to an intelligent opinion.  :ChrisG 22:36, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

On the "every source should be an article" idea, I've got what I think is a better idea: make a "Source:" namespace. Some sources aren't worth an article of their own, and others may get deleted etc, but if we had a namespace for it, then different standards could apply. Then in the references section, you could just link to the source page.

One additional benefit of this would be that the "what links here" page would tell you what articles are using something as a source. The talk page for the source could be used specifically for discussing the source's credibility and such, instead of all the other disucssion that would happen at normal articles.

The format of things in the source namespace is the question: we could have a specific set of fields, or it could be freeform and done by convention, I don't know.

What do people think? I think it would be pretty easy to do, and integrate well with the rest of wikipedia. If people are interested in the idea and want to flesh it out, I'm willing to write the code to make it happen. - ShaneKing

I think this could be an excellent idea. The only issue would be when does a source deserve a wikipedia article; and thus possible duplication. If we used id's or headings people could link to specific reference discussions within a source. Anything that moves such discussions away from the Wikipedia articles to a central place would be beneficial; it also would mean the discussions would be reusable.  :ChrisG 18:37, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Just realized that isn't a problem. If a source article deserves an encyclopedia entry in the article namespace, we can transclude that entry into the source namespace using a template. :ChrisG 00:10, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The code has been written already. See Bug 192 for discussion. -DanKeshet

Dan's comment has no relevance to the source namespace suggestion. Dan is referring to m:Footnotes, which was put in forward in January 2004. It deals with creating an autogenerated list of references at the bottom of the page, and creates an intermediate stage before going to a web address so the reader gets more detailed information. When and if it is included in the media wiki software is unknown. Personally I think it is clearly a major improvement; and would like to see it sooner rather than later. Whether it would be compatible or amended to be compatible with a source namespace is a open question. :ChrisG 10:08, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Maybe such software would be better if it were preceeded by further development of reference guidelines.
Any software should be easy for those who aren't technically inclined. Such as me.

Maurreen 13:29, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Articles on sources

Personally I think we need to work out what kind of references we want. I would like to remove as many external links as possible. I would like to see every reference source being given a wikipedia article. The article can then comment on the credibility of the reference, provide an abstract of the article or book and provide a standard format reference for the endnotes of the article referencing it. We can create links to specific parts of articles so there is no reason we couldn't create a reference to endnote reference within the reference source article. If we started setting up such articles as agreed policy, the eventual software solution would be able to do various smart things with the reference.
Any obvious exclusion to that policy would be newspaper reports, because you wouldn't write an article about a specific article, though you would like to link to it. But you would want an article about the newspaper.  :ChrisG 13:44, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

"Every reference source being given a wikipedia article" sounds good, however I would rather call it a critical review plus info for automated referencing that should come in a standard format. Something like a template saying "New Wikipedian Journal of Medicine // general medicine // peer-reviewed scientific journal // so and so many points in this and that citation database // quote as: NWJM-volume-year-page // etc. //etc." and for a specific article: "NWJM, volume, pages, year // authors // title //abstract // quote as: //etc. // etc." Of course there should be discussion about the merits of a source, but it would be fine to keep that out of the reference info itself. We should however not duplicate the efforts of professional institutions. E.g. in medicine, you can't beat PubMed, and it's online for free. So, retrieve what can be retrieved from elsewhere and concentrate on evaluation. If then we could sort all of this in to a category system, even better. (Like "cat:peer-reviewed journal, cat:general medicine, cat:ten points for reliability") [[User:Kosebamse |Kosebamse]] 14:44, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I also mean critical review/abstract; but as I see it that is eminiently encylopediac and so it is correct to say we want a wikipedia article on it. If we start creating large numbers of articles which are critical reviews of reference sources we will make Wikipedia useful in a whole new way. I think it would be an excellent way to bring more students and serious academics into Wikipedia and I think it would majorly enhance our percieved reliability. It would also support the reliability of our normal articles, because debates about the reliability of references would take place in the critical review and its talk page.
I also think we should use categorisation to list all these sources. It sounds like it would be a worthy addition to our categorisation system, and would help identify useful sources for wikipedia articles and research.
With regard to querying existing databases, what would be nice would be an extension of the template system, so that if you put say, for instance, a pubmed template in an article it would use the critical review article title or some metadata stored in that article to hunt for that information in pubmed.
I didn't quite follow your idea for a template, could you elaborate further? :ChrisG 16:31, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The validation feature on the test wiki

There is a validation feature on the test wikipedia. [1] I think anyone interested in standards should consider how useful it will be. And if implemented how it could best be used. :ChrisG 08:47, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Clarifying: Test wiki is a wiki to test stuff, and not a test of a wiki or something else? Maurreen 13:29, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I am lost at that page. Maurreen 17:03, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The test wiki is a place where developers experiment with new versions of the software, and where users can experiment with creating and renaming pages (as suggested at Template:Sandbox). Depending on what is being tested, sometimes the user interface is not in english, and many things might not make sense. —AlanBarrett 20:01, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Thanks. It was in English, but maybe English jargon. Maybe I'll figure it out slowly eventually. :) Maurreen 20:19, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The test wiki is basically a playground for developers to test new features. But we can also test content there as well; though I'm not sure whether the database is ever refreshed and so there is a possibility we might lose the data. Ancheta's talk page request will clarify matters.:ChrisG 12:58, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Alan, might you be suggesting that Version 1.0 encyclopedic content be copied over to the Test wikipedia? That would imply that more stable content might live in peace on the Test wikipedia. A self-fork, as it were. The live wikipedia would grow, and the Version 1.0 articles could be stable. But we would need a way to diff between Test Wikipedia and Wikipedia. That implies that we could also beta-test people policies and procedures on the Test wikipedia. You could put your Browse by Category there and we would be in business. Then the additional Extension Standards, etc. might be tried, evaluated, etc. Ancheta Wis 22:14, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)
For what it's worth, I have a message on the Main Page Talk of Test Wikipedia asking if it is all right to put a link to Browse by Category in the Test Wikipedia. I put Alan's Template:Categories into Test Wikipedia and have created the Category entries for the top-level articles. These categories might be treated in several ways depending on the consensus:
  1. A bookkeeping location for validation comments
  2. A location for stable content or perhaps content suitable for release to 0.9, 0.99, 1.0 etc.
  3. A place for procedure validation
  4. A place to test out Extension standards, etc.
Ancheta Wis 01:14, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)
As a concrete example you can try a simulated Browse by Category on Test Wikipedia; I have populated the Culture article under the Culture Category with the en.Wikipedia content. You can check out the Validate tab at the top of the Culture article. Ancheta Wis 03:13, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC) I am ignoring the error messages that come up as items for the developers, because we are thinking about the usage of the validate tab.

Maybe the validation check should also include writing quality, NPOV, and references or sources. Maurreen 14:24, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Encyclopedic Standards Disease

People ought to read the meta:Academic standards disease, which I wrote as an outline to to basic culture war between inclusion and exclusion (regarding people) on Wikipedia. In essence, Nupedia failed miserably because of the imposition of academic standards and process, so its rather ironic that some seek to backwards-impose a standards-culture to the to an open-culture and the work it produces. Hint: do it somewhere else! Start another Nupedia, see where it gets you, or perhaps a separate fork of the English wikipedia for peer review. Academia if nothing else, provides an environment of exclusion, by which those deemed qualified to fit into its framework can be funded. While it may provide a degree of shelter for original research it is also under the cover of the establishement, and therefore anti-establishement views tend to be discarded or minimised. That is not to minimise the contributions of academics - rather to avoid prejudicing the contributions of non-academics.

I recently proposed something like an "editorial board," but this was limited to simply defining (and hence writing down) clear standards for the use of terms, particularly POV terms like terrorism when used in articles. The idea is intended to be more like an NPOV squad, not a clubhouse for Phd's. Some raised the problem that we are all supposed to be an NPOV squad, and a standards group would just be another beurocracy. I tend to agree with this, but like the idea of consolidating debates over the use of terms and NPOV language to a single place so that they dont get rehashed all the time. This current proposal is too far reaching, and antithetical to openness. -SV 19:09, 29 Nov 2004 (UTC)

  • I don't understand what you mean by "this current proposal." I think perhaps you misunderstand us.
  • There is a page developing a policy on "terrorist" but the discussion died out.
  • Terms and NPOV language could be discussed and consolidated at the style guide. Maurreen 04:56, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I think youre right - a casual association is not a policy page - please forgive my rush to judgement. Terrorist is one of many things that could best be dealt with under a heading of NPOV terms, but the discussion dies down I think because it wants to go toward some kind of consistent policy that is enforced somehow accross articles. Its hard to say if this is still a big problem - many people still around from older debates have developed a very solid NPOV balance. NPOV terms are not an issue of style, IMHE. -SV 05:12, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I do see some value in consolidating NPOV terms, and also some difficulty (or possible POV?) in determining them.
I think it's a suitable topic to discuss here, if you like.
There is a page on "words to avoid". Maurreen 05:45, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)

One of the interesting aspects of having academics be on the same footing as randoms is that you get to compare them objectively, feet of clay and all. For instance, some academics will have tremendous depth, but couldn't make coherent organization to save their lives. The messy part is that some academics have the patience and humility to deal with feedback from competent but less-knowledgeable randoms, and some don't. I can always tell when I'm about to lose it in a discussion, because I start typing in "because I'm a CS PhD and you're an ignorant sophomore" (oohhh, that felt good :-) ), but I usually delete that before saving. It's much more time-consuming to explain things though, and there are editors too stupid or biased to understand or accept the explanations. The best thing for WP longterm would be if they just spontaneously moved on; but by definition they're impervious to reason, so something else is needed. Stan 07:20, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Yes, some people, of whatever stripe, don't reason well and aren't very reasonable. Maybe a bat upside the head? :) Maurreen 07:47, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I take it thats a metaphorical bat? :ChrisG 10:00, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Apparently so. If a simile were involved, it might read "He wielded a clue-bat like Babe Ruth slugged a baseball." Barno 23:44, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

I agree with SV's original statement above. Wikipedia is what it is. If people wants to change the 'edit by anyone' nature of wikipedia, take a database dump and start somewhere else. Dan100 11:36, Dec 20, 2004 (UTC)

It appears that I would disagree sharply with SV about the appropriate goals of a encyclopdia, but in my comment below I seem to express a similar conclusion: those who want to help create a free, reliable and readable on-line universal encyclopedia will need to migrate classic WP to a new venue less hostile to scholarly goals, while retaining as many as possible of the features of wikisoftware which have made WP a success in terms of ease of editing and interacting with other editors. I am hoping to start a discussion somewhere of possible techno-political models for such a project, which ideally would become an official Wikimedia project. ---CH 03:24, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Academic credentials

What if, like Nupedia, there were a system in place to verify academic credentials that would confer an official status (like administrator, but without any material privileges). This would simply be informative of who is an authority on a particular subject, and that perhaps that person should be listened to (at least on that subject). People wouldn't need to fax in degrees if they could show curricula vitae (agh, what declension? help?) on the official websites of whatever colleges or companies they work for, and those without such positions I guess could scan their degrees. And it wouldn't be mandatory, of course, since some might not care for advertising themselves. Aratuk 01:37, 3 Mar 2005 (UTC)

This seems anti-wiki. Maurreen 04:16, 3 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Also, frankly, there are a lot of credentialed fools and uncredentialed scholars. -- Jmabel | Talk 05:57, Mar 3, 2005 (UTC)
Jambel is correct, and these days any fraudster with a computer and a laser printer can produce bogus diplomae good enough to be persuasive when faxed. Many people talk about setting up experts-only versions of "how Wikipedia should be", and there are a lot of Google hits for reference sites that mostly seem populated by current or old WP content. Whether any of these have been supported by any large number of degreed academics or degreed working professionals, I don't know but I haven't heard of any. I'll stick with the open approach because I want to see it work if it can. Not only because I'm undegreed. Barno 23:44, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Jmabel that academic credentials are not proof against creating a problem user; see Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Carl_Hewitt. However, many professional societies have on-line membership lists, and in the case of mathematicians, there is an on-line resource which allows Ph.D.s to add their own information (this invites abuse, but so far I have not noticed any instances of misrepresentation), the Mathematics Geneology Project. In addition, users at major universities can usually access sites like Digital Dissertations, whichdo verify that a degree was in fact granted. ---CH 03:24, 7 March 2006 (UTC)


I have personal reasons for liking academic standards more than SV. Nevertheless, I understand his concern about this becoming a clubhouse for PhD.s, and his concern about Wikipedia slavishly imitating more academic encyclopedias. It is one of Wikipedia's strengths that anyone can edit. However, I strongly disagree with his sugestion that this be a kind of NPOV squad. As I understood it, one reason for this project in the first place is that unlike NPOV there are other Wikipedia policies that are not even close to rigorously enforced. I am not saying NPOV enforcement is perfect (indeed, there is and will always be some debate over what NPOV is and how it can best be achieved) but I think a very large number of people are very sensitive to the need for NPOV. HOWEVER, I think people are much less certain, or passionate, about other policies, specifically: Wikipedia: Cite sources, Wikipedia: Verifiability, Wikipedia: Stay on topic, and Wikipedia: Check your facts. I think we are also concerned with three other policies -- actually, perhaps we can find a way to propose these be added into the Content Guidelines -- Patent nonsense, Wikipedia: Wikipedia is not a soapbox and Wikipedia: no original research. I think we need to be a think-tank to develop these guidelines, discuss ways to apply them in practice, and be a "squad" to mentor newbies, arbitrate disputes concerning this specific policies, and enforce them. Slrubenstein

I agree with your focus on verifiability; but in order to give that as great an emphasis as NPOV, we need some concrete steps. One step I think is to focus on featured articles and make sure verifiability and other standards are checked in each article. Featured articles are Wikipedia's best practise so if it isn't being achieved in our featured articles then it won't anywhere else.
The other step is to put far more emphasis on references, and I think that lies not so much in the reference list at the end of the article (though that obviously helps) but rather Wikipedia's articles on research papers, non-fiction books and historical documents etc. I think raising the quality of those foundation articles and indeed creating a hell of a lot more of these articles would significantly raise the quality of articles that use those books and research papers as their base. Wikipedia is wonderful mansion but not much thought and effort has gone into making sure the foundations are sufficiently solid for the enormous edifice we are creating. :ChrisG 21:15, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Okay, as I see it you are making two suggestions: first, to strengthen the link between verifiability and citations. I tend to agree with you. However, you are focusing on two specific wikpedia policies. I think that what we need to do is go over several content-related Wikipedia policies (Wikipedia: Cite sources, Wikipedia: Verifiability, Wikipedia: Stay on topic, and Wikipedia: Check your facts, Patent nonsense, Wikipedia: Wikipedia is not a soapbox and Wikipedia: no original research) and see if any of them need revision; if we need to add to them; if they can be reorganized into some hierarchy (my sense is this list evolved during the initial development of Wikipedia; why not take some time now to reevaluate them?). Isn't "check your facts" the same as "verifiability?" Are "verifiability" and "cite sources" two separate policies, or one? Also, I think "no original research" is equally important as "verifiability" -- to guarantee high quality encyclopedia articles and also as an actual problem with a lot of articles. Or maybe I mean "wikipedia is not a soapbox." You know, many people provide their own opinion as if it were research. Many of these seem related. I think we need to sort out the relationships and clarify what they mean -- maybe then, more people will follow the policies without having to be pushed. So I guess I agree with you here, but I think we need to think through a few other content-policies too, and see if these policies can be developed, better explained, and so on. Slrubenstein

Your second point (if I understand you correctly) is that we should start by trying to enforce these policies on featured articles. I agree. However, I have one doubt. Some featured articles are not actively being worked on, which means it would be one of us who would have to take responsibility for finding sources, citations, etc. I think we should also seek out articles under mediation or arbitration. In many cases the mediators will not deal with content issues, when content is indeed an issue. The virtue of attending to such articles is, people are actively working on them so we can ask the actual contributors to provide their sources and citations. Slrubenstein

In terms of featured articles I would say it requires focusing on featured article candidates. From my perspective the standard is steadily increasing; and I think that should be encouraged.

It might worthwhile picking out one of the worst featured articles in terms of verifiability and citing sources and fixing it.

I suspect that cite your sources and verifiability are a different take on the same policy; but I don't know whether combining them would be useful or not. But, certainly it should be a concern of this forum. I suppose my view on it is that the policies already exist and they are uncontroversial; so its more about how to make them happen and raise editors consciousness of their importance. :ChrisG 23:26, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I just wanted to put in my 2 cents here by generally agreeing with ChrisG. -- Jmabel | Talk 23:48, Nov 30, 2004 (UTC)
How about "Featured sources" and/or "Featured citations"? The former would be good articles about source works - we have maybe 100-200 articles about important sources, but those articles mostly go unnoticed; featuring on the front page (in a separate section) would be good for visibility, plus make people aware of the kind of material we're looking for. "Featured citation" articles would be non-stubs whose content is entirely verifiable from the supplied references, and again you'd feature them on the front page. I know there are a bunch of good candidates; the nomination process alone will raise awareness of what's good and what's indifferent. Stan 10:29, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I'm not sure I get what you mean by "Featured citations", but "Featured sources" is a great idea. I think the most useful way to start this would be to start a page "Wikipedia:Featured Sources candidates" and take nominations. Probably we also should end up marking those that are selected with a template on their talk page and should also (probably on the talk page, or maybe on a separate page e.g. Talk:Article in Question/As source, but I'm open to other ideas) set aside an area for comments on the strengths and weaknesses of this source. -- Jmabel | Talk 19:47, Dec 1, 2004 (UTC)
I do think a Featured Source candidates page has potential; but how would it differ from a featured article? :ChrisG 10:59, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Featured articles are partly chosen to be of general interest; I doubt that even a top-drawer kickass article on Mommsen's History of Rome will ever make the cut, but we would still want to feature it in a way that it would be noticed by people who are interested in the foundations of WP's information. Stan 17:10, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I've been sorting out the source articles under the source category; and I've been very disappointed by the range and quality. So I would say what we are actually talking about are identifying some collaboration articles and getting them up to feature standard. I would certainly be interested in collaborating on articles like that. This forum has made me realize that this is a real hole; and unlike countering systemic bias articles there are a large number of articles I do know enough to contribute on. :ChrisG 23:57, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)
The interested parties are going to be much fewer than for WP in general, and there hasn't been a consensus about how much source info there should be. It's something that we could propose as a new policy, which will increase visibility and engage a few more editors. Stan 17:10, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Would this be good as a Collaboration of the Week? Maurreen 07:39, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I don't think a collaboration of the week is suitable for this forum; I don't think people interested in standards work to deadlines nor do I think we have enough interested parties. However, what would be interesting would be for us to write exemplar articles for the main source article types:
  • a landmark nonfiction book
  • a landmark scientific experiment
  • a landmark journal article
  • a landmark government report
I think within a few months we could collectively produce a number of great articles to act as exemplars for their article type. Perhaps, in doing so we could create wikiprojects for each article type to establish useful framework. :ChrisG 11:13, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)
A WikiProject would be good; much of what I do depends on which library books I have out, and I get to the library about once a month, so can't work to somebody else's schedule usually. Stan 17:10, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I agree with Sil's (circa 2004?!!) comments above. But alas, I feel that populist/libertarian political ideals of the WP community are interfering even with protected featured articles from rampant POV pushing. The political structure is simply too clumsy and consumes too much time of editors who primarily wish to add new high quality content rather than being bogged down in trying to protect existing content from damage and degradation. As an example, see Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Licorne and note that Albert Einstein is a former featured article. See the incomplete WikiProject GTR biography watchlist and click on check the list for one example of how a single problem user can easily obstruct a project to which several users have devoted much thought and hard honest work. ---CH 03:34, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Our "cabal" :)

I've been thinking about Jmabel's suggestion of an "open cabal" and others' ideas of various groups, and a couple of other things I'm involved with in Wikipedia.

And I'm thinking we might be able to help each other in a loosely structured way, as mutual assistance group.

Here are couple of ideas:

  1. We could put up requests for help here. A couple people did this earlier, and one of them told me it was productive. This wouldn't need to be just for disputes, which leads me to ...
  2. Whether for just us, or maybe Wikipedia as a whole, we could compile a list of who knows what subjects and is willing to help people who want info on that subject.
Maurreen 06:02, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)
To some extent, that is how WikiProjects work. I don't know if anybody has studied it, but I'd be willing to bet that articles under the aegis of a WikiProject are on the average of higher quality than other types of articles. Projects tend to focus on articles that come in large groups, all of the same "type"; something to think about is how to extend that to new kinds of areas. For instance, I got a scholarly book on Gabon yesterday (by the guy who wrote EB's entry on it!) and am ready to pump up our Gabon coverage, but there's no "WikiProject Gabon" to bring up questions like "Mba" vs "M'ba" (WP is inconsistent with the book), and it's kind of hit-or-miss to ping talk pages until somebody answers. Stan 06:50, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Editorial arbitration

Archived and copied to Wikipedia:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards/Editorial arbitration. Maurreen 07:33, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Style guide

I'd like to encourage wider input at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style.

The disagreements concern:

  1. The quote at the beginning of style guide.
  2. Fowler's "good" guidelines.
  3. The expressions "period" and "full stop."
  4. The serial comma.
  5. "U.S."

Even if you aren't normally interested in style issues, you might be interested in this discussion, because part of it discourages references. Thanks. Maurreen 08:01, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Original Research

In the comments on summary above, I have suggested that one of the things we do is look over and, if necessary, revise the Wikipedia content guidelines, or develop tutorial materials for newbiews.

Now I want to call attention to s particular case: original research. There has been a lot of discussion in the EN listserve about confusion over this. Some people think the policy "no original research" means that we will not write articles about anything that could be called "original research." For example, if Science or Nature (or a journal in history or political scince) publishes an article that makes a new argument based on original research, we should not draw on that article in WIkipedia! (Obviously, I think this is a misreading of the policy). Some people think it means that we will not write an encyclopedia article on any topic that has not yet been the subject of an encyclopedia article elsewhere (again, I think this is obviously wrong). My own interpretation is that peer-reviewed academic journals, and to a lesser degree books published by academic presses, are the premier sites for publishing original research meaning research (and analysis and conclusions) by the author of the article or book. We in wikipedia should definitely write articles based on such research. But as long as it has been already published elsewhere, as long as the author of the Wikipedia article is presenting his or her own research, analysis, or conclusions, it does not constitute "original research" for us.

Here is what Jimbo wrote on the list-serve:

Message: 7
Date: Fri, 3 Dec 2004 02:34:03 -0800
From: "Jimmy (Jimbo) Wales" <>
Subject: Re: [WikiEN-l] Original research
To: English Wikipedia <>
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii

The phrase orginated primarily as a practical means to deal with physics cranks, of which of course there are a number on the web.
The basic concept is as follows: it can be quite difficult for us to make any valid judgment as to whether a particular thing is _true_ or not. It isn't appropriate for us to try to determine whether someone's novel theory of physics is valid, we aren't really equipped to do that. But what we _can_ do is check whether or not it actually has been published in reputable journals or by reputable publishers.
So it's quite convenient to avoid judging the credibility of things by simply sticking to things that have been judged credible by people much better equipped to decide.
The exact same principle will hold true for history, though I suppose the application will in some cases be a bit different and more subtle. wrote:
> Hi everyone, I have been following the this thread with interest,
> but am confused as to to what the term 'original research'
> means. As a writer of history I take it to mean searching the
> literature and archives and writing a new, properly referenced,
> article about topic which may well not have appeared in any
> other place than Wikipedia. Certainly there is a great deal in
> my field which is not to be found anywhere on the Web, and
> Wikipedia is an excellent means of getting it there.
Suppose for example you've come up with a novel historical theory which appears in no peer reviewed journals and which is contradicted by prominent authorities in the field, and you prove your theory through original research into primary sources, archives, etc.
I am thinking of a particular example, and I'll give that to illustrate my point. Michael Bellesiles published a book by a reputable publisher in 2000 with the surprising thesis that contrary to popular understanding, guns were quite rare in the early years of the United States. This book generated a firestorm of controversy and it was later determined by an outside panel of investigators hired by his University to investigate fraud charges that he was "guilty of unprofessional and misleading work".
It took a fair amount of time (2 years) for this process to work itself out, and juding the validity of Bellesiles claims involved a lot of scholarly work *of the type that we are poorly equipped to carry out*.
Suppose Bellesiles had attempted to publish his novel historical thesis at wikipedia, rather than in traditional primary sources? We would quite properly have rejected it as original research, because we are ill-equipped to judge the validity of such things.
> If we are going to have a blanket ban on 'original research' we
> ought to be more precise as to what it actually means, perhaps
> re-wording the phrase. Any ideas?
I think the phrase is just fine, but I do agree with you that we need to explore more carefully what it means. In many cases, the distinction between original research and synthesis of published work will require thoughtful editorial judgment.

Like Jimbo, I think the phrase is fine, but we need to explore more carefully what it means. I think we need to go back to the original WIkipedia policy and make sure the language is clear, and develop a tutorial for newbies. I think this policy is one of the central policies that ensures encyclopedic quality here -- I think violating this policy is one of the greatest sources of garbage and sources of conflict over content in articles. Isn't this precisely the sort of job this "interest group" should be able to handle? Slrubenstein

Absolutely. I think most people get the concept, but it can be easy to cross the line from parroting authorities to drawing new conclusions - after all, you're sitting right there with all the factual bits in hand. :-) One or two examples from each of the major subject areas ought to make it pretty clear. Also include both crank-type theories as "big" examples, and examples of unwarranted conclusions as "small" examples. Stan 17:16, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Well, I looked at the original policy [2] and it looks pretty good to me. Stan, do you want to recommend any specific examples? Would anyone else look over the policy and see how it can be made more clearly or more strongly?

Once we are satisfied with the original statement of policy, I think the question is how to better ensure its enforcement including tutorials and mentoring. Slrubenstein

I have a proposal for the policy and have posted a comment to the talk page [3]. I would appreciate it if participants in this project look at and comment on my comment, Slrubenstein

The farther one gets from the hard sciences the trickier it gets to determine what is "original research". -- Jmabel | Talk 00:25, Dec 4, 2004 (UTC)
I'm not sure it is. My field (history) is pretty far from "hard" science (even if there is debate in the field as to whether we are a social science or part of the humanities), but it's not hard to distinguish original research. If your sources are primary (e.g., archival documents) it is original research; if your sources are secondary (e.g., books and journal articles) it is not. The only grey area is with historiographical essays, which discuss only the historiographicaly (i.e., secondary sources) but sometimes advance novel syntheses of others' research. Those are somewhat exceptional, though, and the test of "does this advance a new thesis or report others' theses?" will remove any ambiguity. —Tkinias 20:57, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Sorry, let me clarify what I meant: "...the trickier it gets to determine what is 'original research' in the sense disparaged by Wikipedia": working from primary sources in history is common throughout Wikipedia, and many of our best articles on history do so. Similarly on literature. In the sciences, unpublished original research is much more deeply suspect than in history, although of course similar issues can at times arise; still, without "original research" in the historian's sense, we would have roughly nothing on contemporary politics. -- Jmabel | Talk 01:02, Dec 8, 2004 (UTC)

The problem here is distinguishing science, pseudoscience and protoscience. Protoscience is available on the web but not in journals. If we prevent protoscience being described in Wikipedia we are dismissing one of the advantages of the web compared with historical publication media. I would propose that hypotheses that are clearly protoscience should be allowed on Wikipedia provided they are clearly labelled as such, are covered at a summary level (no theses) and permitted by other editors. Eg: "John Smith has proposed a theory of quantum gravity involving spin networks." with a link in external links User:

I don't think it is our responsibility nor a good idea for us to report on such "protoscience." One of the advantages of the Web is that this stuff is available to anyone. Jimbo I think originally developed the "no original research" policy to ensure that whatever we report about physics, biology, or even history, is within the wide realm of "acceptable" knowledge. ANy other policy and the risk of including pseudoscience (or some grad. students' term paper) is too great. Slrubenstein

Appeal for consensus

Hi, I'm trying to build consensus on the question of the requirement of references for featured articles. I believe there already is consensus that at the minimum, all FA's, Wikipedia's best articles should have references listed, but I would like to document that. Please vote at the featured article criteria talk page. Thank you - Taxman 19:43, Dec 3, 2004 (UTC)

reference namespace

There is some interesting discussion at Wikipedia:Village_pump_(proposals)#References_namespace. I think some of this is on the mark, some not, but I don't have time to fully think through a response right now; some of the other participants in this forum may want to weigh in. -- Jmabel | Talk 04:43, Dec 6, 2004 (UTC)


I just want to say that some of my most pleasant and productive Wikipedia experiences have grown out of this group. Thank you. Maurreen 04:15, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Web sites

I don't know if this is already covered somewhere, but if not, something we might consider doing is writing guidelines for people to use to evaluate Web sites as sources. Maurreen 05:48, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

An expansion on Wikipedia:Verifiable's elements to address websites specifically would be useful. It would also be nice to include somewhere (WP:MOS?) an appropriate citation of websites format. APA recently updated their version iirc. Amgine
The problem with this is that it depends on your subject. I've had students tell me ".edu good, .org good, .com bad" is the rule of thumb they learned in school—but that's not exactly reliable (e.g., there are porn sites at .org addresses and for-profit pseudouniversities at .edu, while the OED is at a .com) and is highly dependent on subject matter. For an article about ham radio (to pick something completely at random), there's probably a lot of good information on personal Web sites, but for an article on the ideological influences on Action française or the Croix de feu (French fascist—or not; there is much dispute among specialists—organizations) I probably wouldn't accept something outside of the academy as authoritative. Web is fine—so long as it's JSTOR. —Tkinias 20:45, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
The point is for contributors to cite a source at all, first. Wikipedia:Verifiable has some comments about reliability of sources, and an example of how to cite the source of dubious information in a useful manner within an article.
Because websites can be unreliable, and may be in a constant state of flux (ala Wikipedia itself), there are developing usages for website citations which include the datestamp of when the information cited was found, among other things. While not a solution for the potentially unreliable information, at least it might go some ways toward getting article references more widely used. - Amgine 23:11, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Wikipedia needs special standards

I'm not sure where is the best place to have or start this discussion. I'd like to try to roughly consolidate a few general issues from multiple pages.

A couple catalysts for this are discussions related to Wikipedia:No original research and a vote here about whether or not to delete Image:Nevada-Tan.jpg for ethical reasons.

Wikipedia's uniqueness means we don't have a pure direct model for the whole of Wikipedia. Some Wikipedia matters seem to at least verge on journalism, and Wikipedians as a whole don't have a journalism background. :Maurreen 07:49, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)


I think some examination or re-examination is warranted concerning the following matters, and how they relate to each other. Please add to the list as you see fit. Maurreen 08:25, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

  1. Taste.
  2. Verifiability.
  3. What is "encyclopedic"?
  4. Handling of firsthand knowledge.
  5. Graphic images and related matters.
  6. Handling of current or recent events.
  7. "Original research" (I put that in quotes mainly because it's undergoing review; the title might change).
  8. Media law and ethics, including:
    1. Libel.
    2. Privacy.
    3. Copyright.
  9. The goal of compiling "all human knowledge".

Some thoughts on your list

  1. First of all, there is no accounting for good taste. :)
  2. "Verifiability" - what does that mean? That every last fact need be cited twice and three times? Or that factual statements merely need have the "ring of truth"? Or be "widely believed"? I'd sure like to know, because I've seen all three types of standards enforced by various editors and Administrators, depending on their POV, their mood, or whether they liked the editor who had written the article in question.
  3. What is "encyclopedic"? Not much to say here. See the Extreme Inclusionists and Extreme Deletionists clubs for more on that topic. Too many shades of gray to get a good handle on this one.
  4. First hand knowledge seems like a variation on "no original research". If there is no other source for what you are writing about, other than your own "first hand knowledge", then how is anyone else to verify your claims?
  5. Depending on one's point of view, graphic images and related matters may abound on Wikipedia. Others think that clinical treatments of such material renders it harmless. I dare you to try and delete the material that you feel is "graphic", or even to attempt to label such material as such.
  6. I'm confused about overlap of the Main Page's coverage of current events and the new Wikinews project. Plus breaking news tends to introduce new facts quickly enough that writing an encyclopedia article seems premature half the time, but it's gotta help Wikipedia's Google ranking to have such topical material. I'm wondering if there shouldn't be a stronger push to put current events on Wikinews and then as stories become stale, they move onto Wikipedia?
  7. I'm confused about "orginal research". Is this policy solely design to prevent me from writing about perpetual motion machines or other physics nonsense? Or is it broader than that, such that I cannot bring various facts together from diverse disciplines to synthesize an article that documents something in a new way? For example, can I develop an articles about interesting patterns or coincidences that others have not noticed before? Can I do so in a subsection of an article that is otherwise not "orginal research"? The musings on the mailing list on this topic don't seem to make much headway on the shades of gray in this area.
  8. As for "media law" - first, please hire a lawyer! All anyone can do is offer their opinion and philosophy. You need a lawyer to find out what will hold up in court.
    1. In the modern era, privacy is an increasingly outmoded concept that will be clung to until there is a webcam on every street corner, and RFID tags tracking the movements of everyone and everything, at which point "privacy" will be a delusional state of mind.
    2. Copyright and libel are both rat's nests best left to the lawyers. Trusting the legal opinions of any of the non-lawyers running around making pronouncements on Wikipedia is foolish. Even when I've had the fortune to read the opinion of a retired lawyer here on Wikipedia, I've been referred to documents that read more like protests of the legal system, as no one wants to stick their neck out and give legal advice that anyone would actually depend upon, lest they have liability should their advice prove not to hold up in a court of law. Bottom line - Wikipedia needs an official house lawyer to issue binding legal opinions that will dictate how Wikipedians should operate concerning copyright and libel law. To do otherwise is inviting trouble.
    3. Ethics? I try to avoid any discussion of politics, religion, or ethics when I am in mixed company, at the office, or when I'm at a party. :) Any attempt to formulate an "ethics policy" will result in a collection of diatribes on "situational ethics", "human rights", and "doing the right thing", none of which will have sufficient detail to apply in every case. (Hence the importance of the Arbitration Committee and Requests for Comment, along with evil polls at every turn.)

Maureen, these matters cannot be examined in a trite way, or even on a single page. I would think a multi-page document with subpages for each topic would eventually have to be developed, given the non-negotiable rule that this Wiki is governed by consensus, as the discussions will undoubtedly have to include examples and counter-examples, polls, and perhaps deal with a few procedural cranks on the way. (Unless Jimbo wants to step in and provide authoritative answers to save us the time, which I would be cool with, as that is also a Foundation Issue.)

Your list is certainly interesting food for thought. — DV 10:32, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

David makes a lot of good points. The reason I started this discussion is that it seems like several of these issues are mainly discussed in isolation, and some of them are discussed little, but they are related.
3. Concerning what is "encyclopedic", my question is not a matter of notability (for instance, there could conceivably be an "Encyclopedia of Pokemon"). It's more a matter of currency, but maybe not just currency. Some issues of ethics and verifiability probably wouldn't arise in other encyclopedias because of their more limited scope.
6. I like David's idea concerning Wikinews.
7. My interpretation of Wikipedia:No original research as it is now written is that it was originally intended to prevent inclusion of theories such perpetual motion. But the principle is being reviewed with the goal of broadening or clarifying.
8. I agree with David that Wikipedia should have a lawyer.
About an ethics policy, my suggestion would not be to say "X is OK, Y is not". It would be to develop some principles to use when deciding ethical questions and maybe a page devoted to discussing such questions. Maurreen 16:41, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Maurreen, this list raises an important question which is, what is the purpose of this particular wikiproject. But I think your list is too broad. If you look at out policies, they are divided into categories such as behavior and content. I think we should focus on content, here. As the "what does encyclopedic" mean (on your list, both 3 and 9), well -- I think this has been well-established by other encyclopedias, since the first one: to encompass all known knowledge for which there is reasonable certainty -- "reasonable certainty" assured by prohibiting original research and requiring sources, and epistemological questions about the nature of "certainty" assured by an NPOV policy that in part encourages multiple points of view. I think these are the areas most central to "encyclopedic standards" and as I have said before, what we mean by "verifiable" and "NPOV" is something that is evolving and that has evolved greatly over the past few years. I also think that the community has been very self-conscious about NPOV with numerous debates on talk pages and metawikipedia leading to a relatively sophisticated (but simple and practical) understanding on the part of almost all members as to what the policy means, how to sport violations, and how to correct them. I think that in comparison there has been much less discussion about "no original reseach," "no personal essays," and "verifiability" which is why I personally would like to see this project focus on discussing and developing these three areas (revising the policies, if necessary, and devloping mentoring tools for newbies and perhaps enforcement mechanisms. Slrubenstein

I think your list raises some other interesting points: how to deal with news (6) which also requires more debate. As to your other points -- involving good taste and ethics, I think there has in fact already been considerable discussion of these matters. Have you looked at all the talk pages and metawikipedia essays? Perhaps these points are betterleft for the Meta. But one comment: good taste is something we will always have to deal with on a case by case basis; the only principle I think we have to agree on is that articles must be illustrated when illustrations provide important knowledge. "tast" gets to how that is done and I don't think we can come up with guidelines (or, I bet someone already has in meta). As for ethics and legal issues, I think Jimbo has a very clear understanding of these points and they have also been dealt with on metawikipeida. Slrubenstein

I see the second point, verifiability as being by far the most important, and the one from which the solutions to other issues flow. Verifiable is the best definition for encyclopedic. We do have the goal of compiling "all human knowledge", but this is secondary to the goal of being an accurate and unbiased source of knowledge. A submission that is unverifiable is impossible to check for accuracy and lack of bias. The verifiable/unverifiable line must thus form the border between encyclopedic and unencyclopedic.
Verifiability also forces us to use secondary sources rather than "original research". We do not have the resources to verify original research and to us it is unverifiable. It must thus be classed as "unencyclopedic." The same logic applies to the "handling of firsthand knowledge." - SimonP 18:34, Dec 8, 2004 (UTC)

I believe 6. is handled rather well by the policies that there must be a relevant article on Wikipedia affected by the news item, and that the news item be reported by two independent news sources (iow: not two papers having the same IP newswire article.)

The issues seem to stem, again, most strongly from the question of verifiability. One question I don't recall seeing addressed yet is consensus of the scientific community. I can find citeable sources arguing two opposing viewpoints on a range of topics. Wikipedia articles on such a topic should present both (or multiple) viewpoints, and when (if) a scientific consensus develops they should be revised to reflect that consensus.

First-hand knowledge can be handled by reverting to the third person and citing ones own self. For example: Amgine reports blablah. This sets up the author, very clearly, as the authority, and readers can judge the value of the credentials appropriately. - Amgine 20:43, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

About verifiability, people call for different degrees, and I wonder about more consensus. This is especially relevant to firsthand knowledge and recent events.
Consensus of the scientific community, that's a good point. Because of the number of articles, I don't know what can be done other than approval mechanism.
Slrubenstein, my list is all about content. I seriously doubt I've looked at all the applicable pages. Part of the problem is that the relevant pages aren't always obvious.
But in my view, our material on privacy and libel is lacking. All I've seen about privacy is a few talk pages on different cases; all I've seen about libel is what I initiated. If you're saying that we do have more material on these issues, that material needs to be made more prominent. Maurreen

When I say "content related" I mean by Wikipedia guidelines. Honestly, Maurreen, I didn't think I was asking too much to go over the related pages -- I was just refering to the basic pages linked through the COmmunity Portal that I am sure you consulted before or as you were getting involved in Wikipedia -- especially [4] and the other pages linked through "policies and conventions" under the writing resources column at the COmmunity Portal. Aren't these written policies and conventions, and other pages like "copyright," immediately relevant to your list? Slrubenstein 18:27, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Maybe we're just not understanding each other. No biggie. Maurreen 05:38, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Standards - Quality Assessment:

Some very good thoughts and questions above, Maurreen and others...

A few thoughts to add:

In terms of working towards quotability:

- I like the idea of an approval process, but who is going to do the approval? For all articles or just wiki-standards?

- I wonder if there could be a ranking system that is *I hate to suggest it* a bit like what you'll see on amazon or ebay, where you have top ranked reviewers and sellers (could be contributors)and people could rank articles. Granted sometimes what I consider a rather terrible book gets good ratings, but at least it is some kind of feedback control. There could be numbers of books (rather than stars?) to give to an article considered to be 'basic', 'problematic,' 'top notch' 'missing vital info' 'missing minor details' 'could be expanded',etc. ? users could rank after they have read. that way those who can't or won't contribute have a voice, too.

- There could also be review panels (I am brandnew to this, so perhaps this exists already) that sifts occassionally through new stuff and updates. can the interest/expert function help there? Can there be 'guardians' assigned, who have certain credentials IRL? just thinking out loud.

- How can one mark in an article where a different perspective comes in? E.g.: Columbus: from a Western perspective, as an explorer; then again from an indigenous perspective as an invader, etc. Sometimes encyclopedias can seem to express a 'universal' knowledge, whereas they can be in danger of universalizing a particular perspective. How can 'other takes' on things be marked in such a way that compiles all perspectives in a way that a reader can become aware of the contentions around an issue, etc.

- I think linking across languages should be made more easy, and perhaps there could be automatic display of an article in other languages. I assume that many wikipedians have at least two languages, as English is (for better and worse) becoming more and more of a lingua franca. These links would continue to remind users of other linguistic universes out there.

--HolyFool 00:10, Dec 30, 2004 (UTC)

Ideas for approval mechanisms have apparently been suggested at various places and various times, but not gotten very far. Several are collected at Wikipedia:Approval mechanism. Maurreen 07:16, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Ethics and law

I'm creating Wikipedia:Ethics and law. Maurreen 07:31, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)

personal essays

I think that this is a topic that trips up many newbies. I have seen many articles that really were personal essays, and that had to be rewritten. Now, Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Neutral point of view are, I admit, usually adequate policies we use to justify changes to such essays. But I bring up this topic for two reasons. First, given that personal essays are personal, one can understand why newbies often really resent having their work edited even when the NPOV and NOR policies are explained to them. You might say, well, screw them, who needs them, but some people who started out writing personal essays learned and ended up being valued contributors. Second, although the Wikipedia policies say "no personal essays" there is no official or even semi-official policy with its own page. "Wikipedia isn't a soap-box" comes close, and the page for that policy is basically a stub. So I propose that we or some of us write an article Wikipedia:No personal essays that might also function as a tutorial for newbies. If others agree in principle, what I envision would be something that would deliberately overlap with NPOV, NOR, and not a soapbox but in a way that would really help explain what the problem is, warn people from common mistakes, etc (I see the NPOV article as a model). Am I the only one who feels strongly about this? Slrubenstein 21:45, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I don't "feel strongly" about it, but I think it would be a good idea. -- Jmabel | Talk 22:12, Dec 10, 2004 (UTC)

Wikipedia comparisons

Wikipedia compared with other encyclopedias:

3:1 5:1 Wikipedia
2:1 7:1 Columbia
2:1 4:1 Encarta
2:1 2:1 Britannica
27:1 11:1 Wikipedia
19:1 4:1 Encarta
12:1 4:1 Columbia
5:1 4:1 Britannica

If you're interested in encyclopedic standards, you can improve some pages listed here -- Xed 16:33, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I am not sure what is being compared here. Women vs. men contributors? Size of countries? Please explain. --HolyFool 23:45, Dec 29, 2004 (UTC)

Frequency of occurence of the words man, woman, etc. -- Jmabel | Talk 00:04, Dec 30, 2004 (UTC)


The Wikipedia:Library is a good start for getting lists of books and sources together. I'd like to increase the scope of that page to include something like this:

Church History in Plain Language
Shelly, Bruce L. (1995). Nashville:Thomas Nelson Publishers. ISBN 0-8499-3861-9.
Owners Notes

Ta bu shi da yu:

Originally written by Bruce Shelley for his Bible College students, this book is a review of Church history from the book of Acts to the present day. I tend to find that the end bit focuses too much on American Christian history too much, and it skims over certain things (like the Anabaptists) but overall it's a really solid book if you are just looking for the main story of the history of the church.

My idea is to make WP:Lib more participatory. People get a chance to give their opinion of the reference material and fiction books they have at hand. This will help kick off the Library! After all, if one gets to hold forth on their opinion of something and we suspend NPOV on that bit, then I'm sure we'll all of a sudden get more people adding there books. However, I would suggest that we enforce a rule that says that all criticism/praise must have details why they have come to their conclusion.

I see the Library as being a little like file sharing, only it's really information source sharing... in other words, it a massive distributed library of books that are owned by many people. Think about it: most of us own at least 10 or more books. If 100 of us added all our books to the library with various well formed notes about the books then how much easier would it be to find information when we start researching?

So what do people think? - Ta bu shi da yu 12:11, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Well, TBSDY, my house has about 8,000 books (rough order-of-magnitude estimate) in it, so if I uploaded the complete list (many, although not all, are in a database), it might make your list a bit hard to use! I think the place we really need to accumulate book titles is in the article themselves (I tend to create both "Further reading" sections, for books I recommend to average readers, plus "References" for works more suitable for specialists, and always try to annote listings with comments on them); that both makes them available to our readers, as well as divides them up by subject. Noel (talk) 17:01, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Avoiding the "Playboy" syndrome

Hi: Wikipedia is beginning to be peppered with photos that belong in "Playboy" etc. No scholarly person can accept the possible consequences of this development. Please express your views at: Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)#Nudity (full frontal) pictures in an encyclopedia? [5] Thank you for giving this matter your serious attention! IZAK 13:30, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Yes, images of full nudiy and sexual organs, such as those here and here, have no place in an encyclopaedia. (Hint: wave your mouse over the links to see where they actually go.) Noel (talk) 17:01, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Encouraging references and research

I have noticed the biggest problem with the lack of references in articles is that the general culture of Wikipedia is to write what you (think you) know instead of researching and collating other reliable sources. I am interested in other people's ideas for ways to encourage research by every Wikipedia editor. Currently multiple articles get nominated at WP:FAC almost daily that have no proper references and certainly few if any facts cited to sources. That got me to thinking, it should not be an editors first time hearing that they should reference their articles when their nomination gets shot down at FAC. Little if any of the introductory material for editors talks about the importance of research and citing reliable sources. I think the single most important thing we can do as part of this project would be to figure out how to make sure every introductory message an editor hears reinforces how important that is, and how to do it. Ideas on how to do that? - Taxman 11:10, Jan 22, 2005 (UTC)

I could not agree more. The introductory material ought to be re-worded to emphasise this. Maybe it should include a kind of 'model article' showing how it ought to be done. Perhaps suitable articles from within Wiklipedia that reach these standards might be 'bookmarked' from the introductory material. I write my original Wikipedia articles off line on a text editor, and when I am satisfied they are OK send it on-line. Articles which start as a stub and have multiple edits by different people will clearly have no consistency. When I began, last summer, I jumped straight in, and have never read any introductory material. Perhaps we ought to have a system that when a new editor formally signs up he is automatically sent the information. I know that some senior editors like Angela have been in the habit of sending a brief personal message along these lines, but it never happened to me. Apwoolrich 16:27, 22 Jan

2005 (UTC)

I have had a look at the Wikipedia: Tutorial pages. What is missing is a section at the front saying something about what we are writing about and the format a typical article should follow. Maybe something like this is already in Wikipedia, and just wents a link Does anyone know, please? Apwoolrich 16:44, 22 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Wikicite project page

Wikipedia:WikiProject_Wikicite To add a card catalog and citation features. Stirling Newberry 01:03, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Request comment on a disputed article

At Talk:Blitzkrieg there is a dispute over the inclusion of material which is unreferenced. RfC is worthless: no neutral parties have troubled themselves with this. This is the most suitable place I can think of to seek additional exposure. Please comment there. 119 21:23, 5 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Country opening paragraph standardization

An open question to Forum members and all editors reading this: which country article/s do you find most suited to serve as a standard for a country article's opening paragraph. Do you see such standardization as necessary or even desirable (I realize it depends on the contents, but still). If so, do you draw exceptions for any particular ones? El_C 09:42, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I'm neutral on this, with one proviso: even if we standardize the lead paragraph, we still should not standaradize the entire lead section. For a recently contentious example, it is relevant that the borders of Moldova reflect those of the former Moldavian SSR, but no similar statement about the borders of, say, Mexico, would belong in a lead section. -- Jmabel | Talk 18:28, Feb 25, 2005 (UTC)
By virtue of contemporaneity, right? El_C 07:30, 27 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand your question, but by virtue of the fact that the borders of Moldova precisely reflect an earlier political dispensation that can easily be remarked, which ended only 14 years ago, and which has led to some anomalies (Transnistria barely acknowledges the central government). Mexico's present borders are not so easily explained (wars won - Nuevo León, wars lost - Texas and California, etc.) and would be difficult to explain quickly in a lead section. -- Jmabel | Talk 07:56, Feb 27, 2005 (UTC)
Ah, yes, I see, I should have gotten it the 1st time. El_C

New experiment: baseline revisions

I have a proposal called Wikipedia:Baseline revision. Basically the gist is that we find a revision of an article that is as accurate, neutral and well written as possible, with all facts referenced correctly. Details are in the article itself - however, currently this is going under review. At the time of writing, I was thinking that we can start off baseline experiment by creating a baseline subpage that hangs off the article. For instance, the Common Unix Printing System would have Common Unix Printing System/baseline where a baseline could be proposed. Anyway, I figured that this project would be a good place to announce this. I would very much appreciate suggestions, debate, and modifications to the experiment.

The nice thing, btw, with the thing I'm proposing, is that it doesn't actually impact or disrupt existing articles. It just adds a new subpage and it might be referenced at the top of the articles talk page. And even better: it's an experiment. If it doesn't work, then we can chuck it out as a failed experiment. That said, I hope it doesn't fail! - Ta bu shi da yu 08:10, 3 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Persons' wiki articles must be by birth name always, not titulars!

Dear Sirs,

I want to call attention to a pretty serious issue about Wiki articles that describe individual humans. For example at

someone complains on the discussion tab that: >Will people please stop moving this page to "Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall"

My stance:

In fact no Wiki article should have any similar styled title! People must always be encyclopedically referred to by their birth name, because that one is unchangeable. Titles are not. Countless numbers of monarch has been kicked out or executed and ridiculized by the PEOPLE thorughout centuries. The chance that QEII will be dethronized and become a pauper some day after a republican revolution in the UK or an Islamic invasion of Europe is very low, but not nil.

I think this issue should be more generically discussed in the Wikipedia administrative grand council. I insist corresponding articles should always be under the people's birth names, not titulars or otherwise honorary or fantasy names. E.g. typing Marilyn Monroe in Wiki should redirect to Norma Jean and John Paul II should redirect to Karol Wojtyla, not vica versa! Titles can be taken away and faiy tales do collapse, the only thing you have unchanged is people's birth name. Should it become ever proven conclusively that Jesus of Nazareth did not in fact exist at all, he will not be a pope any longer, but he will still be Karol Wojtyla. OK, this example is a very steep one, but you should get the gist.

There are also legal issues. Some countries (e.g. USA) do not recognize noble titles or otherwise feudal badges. Some countries (e.g. my country Hungary) outright ban their use. In contrast, using people's birth names is free of problems.

I need to warn: if Wiki intends to integrate with Google this will a big issue!

Sincerely: Tamas Feher, Hungary <>

What about people that legally change their name - which is much easier to do than some of the examples above. I think the ad hoc - most common practice is the best rule - for instance I did not rememer that Camilla is the Duchess of Cornwall. Trödel|talk 15:06, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Currently the standard on Wikipedia, Wikipedia:Naming conventions (common names) (Wikipedia:Naming conventions), reads:
"Use the most common name of a person or thing that does not conflict with the names of other people or things."
This supports your position that Camilla Parker Bowles should not be at Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, but not your stance that Wikipedia should simply and often rudely use only legal birth names. Hyacinth 19:14, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I concur strongly with Hyacinth. For example, it would be ridiculous to move Marquis de Lafayette to Marie-Joseph-Paul-Roch-Yves-Gilbert du Motier. -- Jmabel | Talk 19:22, Mar 10, 2005 (UTC)
I concur, the current standard is workable and best. Trödel|talk 20:32, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Camilla Parker Bowles? — Yes, of course. Marquis de Lafayette? — Yes, of course. Chaulk one up for current policy. Paul August 23:08, Mar 10, 2005 (UTC)

Request for comment

Comparison to SEP

The page Wikipedia:Comparison to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy grew out of the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy article. It's got a list of criteria that rose out of the question "which is better WP or SEP?" that appeared in that article. Would benefit from explanation, obviously relevant to the aims of this project, so I put a link on the project page. ---- Charles Stewart 15:07, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Marking stable versions

A thought struck me a few weeks ago when I was listening to Angela's interview on the BBC. Some of the other guests said that they would like to see a fork in the project, where good articles are placed on a separate website, because they are accurate and stable, and they would be updated 'every five years'. Obviously, they were requesting Wikipedia 1.0.

In the meantime, it's probably possible to simply mark certain versions of certain articles as accurate. We assign a group of trusted editors to review articles at their leisure, and mark them as accurate, which would show up in the page history. To make sure a new revision is accurate, they would just have to go over the differences between the new and old.

A subset of this trusted group could be a credentialled group, since there are going to be a lot of people who are far more interested in crentials than in the trust of us lame-o Wikipedians.

This may have been suggested before, but its a good intermediate stage between now and full peer-review/1.0. →Iñgōlemo← talk 16:37, 2005 Apr 10 (UTC)

  • I'd be for this, with the following caveats:
    1. Different groups will be needed for different subject-matter areas. The people who can review and approve mathematical articles will not be the same ones who can review and approve articles on Jewish law or Chinese history.
    2. We will need to be very clear what is being certified. At a minimum, certification should mean, "I'm generally knowledgable in this area, nothing here looks incomprehensible, blatantly wrong, or obviously biased." What it means beyond that is not so clear. It is unlikely that the resources can be brought to bear to actually assert that articles are entirely without error: in fact, that is an almost impossible thing to demonstrate. -- Jmabel | Talk 19:38, Apr 10, 2005 (UTC)
Personally, I think we should consider featured articles to be wikipedia 1.0. Those articles are properly peer reviewed and would be highly suitable for a print encyclopedia. Why not produce the Best of Wikipedia rather than Wikipedia 1.0. Wikipedia has grown so big that for purposes of print any book would have to topic based or based on featured articles. I suppose Wikipedia 1.0 could be the lead sections of wikipedia articles to make up a concise encyclopedia. :ChrisG 22:16, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • Featured articles are a fine place to start, but (1) a lot of them rely heavily on a "constellation" of linked articles surrounding them and (2) there is still the question of what version of the article to mark as stable. -- Jmabel | Talk 02:11, Apr 11, 2005 (UTC)

Usenet as a source

For the last few days, there's been an extensive discussion about the suitability of Usenet as a citeable or reliable source for articles on Wikipedia at Wikipedia-EN. As a result one of the participants has added his opinion on the matter at WP:NOR -- & another has now removed as I write this. Because this page is marked as Official Policy, I invite people to enter into the discussion -- before the matter sinks into Yet Another Edit War. -- llywrch 19:05, 8 May 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/RFC

An important policy discussion has started concerning ways in which our content-related polices, such as NPOV, No original research and Cite sources could be better enforced. I've made a proposal to give the Arbitration Committee the ability to consult Wikipedia users who are knowledgeable in subject-areas that apply to cases before them. Such consultation is needed due to the fact that the ArbCom does not by itself have the requisite knowledge to easily tell what is NPOV, original research, or a fringe idea in every field. Please read my proposal at Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/RFC#Alternate solution #9 by mav. Content subcommittee and comment. Thank you! --mav 02:36, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Reviving this

Lately, this group has been moribund. I am wondering if we might wake it back up. Lately there have been what I think are some very disappointing patterns of editing in articles such as right-wing politics, fascism, and political spectrum. To put it bluntly, on the four respective timewasters:

  • right-wing politics: Yes, fascism is part of the right.
  • fascism: No, not everyone on the right is a fascist. In particular, the article on fascism does not need a discussion of the "case" for calling George W. Bush fascist.
  • political spectrum: No, a political spectrum published on some individual's web site that views Castro as more extreme than Hitler does not merit mention in the article, let alone reproduction in full.

I could go on, but I'm guessing that everyone (formerly) active on this page gets the point. I know that these politically sensitive articles will always be battlegrounds to some extent, but these are big, important topics, and its an embarrassment when our articles on them get dragged down to the level of partisan mudslinging and whacko theories.

Does anyone have any suggestions for what we can do to keep this silliness more in check? The only thing I can think of -- and I admit it may not be enough -- is to work on strengthening the level of formal citation etc. in these articles and have enough of us then stick it on our watchlists and insist that the standards remain high.

(I could say much the same of the articles on Pat Robertson, Barry Goldwater, Ted Kennedy, or I.F. Stone, but I am not sure they are of equal importance.) -- Jmabel | Talk 02:12, August 21, 2005 (UTC)

Human Rights Servey on Wikipedia (The final post of I_sterbinski)

Dear all,
Wikipedia was recently a subject of intensive research of an huge international human right organization. A team of people from different nationalities and ages were acting on Wikipedia for 20 days, investigating previously noted anomalities of Wikipedia free editing and forming a final report, which (between the others similar reports) will later be a guide to all future moves of the organization concerning Wikipedia. Acting under an account of a real person, their privacy is to be held private. Therefore, very few private information will be revealed.
Also, this is a result of the lack of final possition of the organization concerning Wikipedia and human rights, which was still not formed.
The team's final post on Wikipedia, where they explain their actions can be found on the following addresses:
The team would like to thank to all the persons who took part in the correspondence with us.
We also want to appologise for keeping our identity secret for a longer period.
Best regards,
Aleksandar, Biljana, Asparuh, Christos, Valjon, Michael and Ana Luiza
I sterbinski 00:15, 28 August 2005 (UTC)
This "huge international human right organization" might want to use a spellchecker before they release their report. Good to know that their privacy is to be held private, though. Wouldn't want to think that very many private information will be revealed; that might weaken their possition and cast doubt on their servey. -- Antaeus Feldspar

Inline links discouraged in favor of more complete sources

Comments requested at Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)#Inline links discouraged in favor of more complete sources. (SEWilco 08:02, 11 October 2005 (UTC))

The Goal of an Encyclopedia

Do we have a mission statement? I've been looking around and I can't find one. What are we trying to accomplish? How can we discuss standards to accomplish our goal if we don't know what our goal is?

I propose that our highest goal should be to enable people to convey information in the most efficient way possible. Efficiency of communication is the most important tool available to a society [6]. A word can be an axiom of generally accepted information. Combining several of these axioms, we can create a larger idea that is only possible when we think of the complex ideas of each word as an icon of information. The larger idea can itself become an axiom if we define it concisely and assign a word to it. This building of complex ideas as "black boxes" of information has enabled modern mathematics and computer hardware/software design, among other things. To understand computer hardware design, for instance, one might not have to comprehend the fundamental philosophy of XOR gates, only that they work —— the black box returns specific output based on specific input. When we know that a mathematical equation or piece of computer hardware is reliable, we no longer have to know what it consists of. We can take its output and combine it with other axioms to create something greater. Language works the same way when it is codified into black boxes —— packets of distinct information —— complex concepts that can be expressed in a word or small phrase.

A powerful language not only enables people to communicate and build on each other's ideas, it's also essential for organizing icons of thought on a personal basis. If we can think of a concept, there should be a word for it. Yet, quite often, the definitions of these words are watered down, confused, and politicized to the point that they no longer have much to do with the concept that needs to be conveyed. If I talk about terrorism, for instance, there shouldn't be much ambiguity. The word should obviously have something to do with terror, so the only remaining question could be, "What does the "ism" mean?" It doesn't matter if you define "ism" as an action, philosophy, process, or practice; the meaning still conveys pretty much the same thing: "a policy intended to strike with terror those against whom it is adopted" - OED.

We can use the OED definition of terrorism as a black box. It conveys a distinct concept that we can discuss, compare with world events, define examples, and search for solutions. But we cannot use the Wikipedia definition of terrorism as a black box. It renders the term essentially useless as a building block of our language. We can argue that terrorism has been used out of context so much recently that it has taken on a new meaning of essentially "violence for the purpose of evil," but how can we then talk about the original concept: a philosophy of terror? Have we lost that part of our language? Can we no longer discuss terrorism objectively? How can we discuss ways to end terrorism if we don't even know what it is? I consider this to be the Elephant sitting at out Table.

Wikipedia is fast replacing all other resources of definitions for at least the English language. Our society relies on the strength of that language to convey distinct icons of information. This is no longer a game. If it is taken seriously, Wikipedia will have a major impact on the most powerful tool of our civilization. What we adopt as our highest principle will determine whether that impact will be positive or detrimental. Everyone has personal bias. Only when the bias of every editor has equal weight will it offset to create a balanced article. Yet, success or failure to achieve that balance must be measured by some standard. I propose that the standard be, "Does the term more concisely convey a distinct and unique concept?" --Zephram Stark 03:08, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

Should we recommend our editors to use other encyclopedias as sources for our own articles?

Members of this forum might want to weigh in at this discussion about whether we should recommend our readers to use other encyclopedias as sources or not. — mark 10:40, 5 November 2005 (UTC)

Are URL-only links an acceptable citation style?

A straw poll is being taken based on whether using only URLs in an article is an acceptable style for citing sources instead of having more detailed citations. See Talk:Global cooling#SEWilco.2C disruptive reverts.2C and citations. (SEWilco 23:42, 24 November 2005 (UTC))

SEWilco is presenting a misleading view of the debate. The real debate, which he has escalated into a revert war on both Global cooling and Kyoto protocol, is over his pushing of his cumbersome footnotes style into these articles with no regard to the consensus of the editors working on these articles. He has been advised against this [7]. Please carefully consider the debate history on those articles if you plan to comment. Vsmith 01:47, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

Vsmith is presenting a misleading view of the situation, where the original article had dead URL-only links with numbered format, being replaced with standard Wikipedia:Footnote numbered links to citations. See the discussion in Talk:Global cooling, and if you wish see Vsmith's alternative whose errors and weaknesses are described in Talk:Kyoto Protocol. While he complains of consensus, Vsmith's edit is even more dramatic a style change than numbered links. (SEWilco 05:58, 25 November 2005 (UTC))

SEW admirably demonstrates, above, the problems that have lead to Wikipedia:Requests for comment/SEWilco. You are invited to comment. William M. Connolley 10:10, 25 November 2005 (UTC).

Lost a user due to low standards

User:Wyss says: "Because Wikipedia's applied sourcing methodologies are not at academic levels across its content I will no longer be participating in this project." At least we did already know there is room for improvement. (SEWilco 05:10, 2 December 2005 (UTC))

I saw a PhD leave for similar reasons, and considered making a list of people who had left for these reasons... — Omegatron 14:58, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Missing Wikipedians. It's really too bad about all the leaving, and we really can't just sit on our asses and bitch (excuse me, but we really need to do something). People talk about Wikipedia as if it's universally accepted and perfect the way it is. It has many great, redeaming features, but also has a few *minor* problems, that, if addressed, could make it perfect. What's it gonna take to get all those opposed to this to see the light and stop pretending we're more Wiki than Encyclopedia. As User:Doc glasgow so appropriately put it, "wiikipedia [[[sic]]] needs to decide if it wants to be a useful and relatively reliable encyclopaedia using a wiki format, or a wiki posing as an encyclopaedia – but actually being a graffiti wall and a dump for all the world’s unverified cruft." -Mysekurity 00:29, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia is by definition a non-academic project. Yes, we should have high standards for content and sourcing, and this is something many of us are working at all the time — appropriately so, as Wikipedia is a permanent work in progress. I am sorry to see any good contributor leave, but if Wyss is leaving because we are not up to academic standards, Wyss's reasons for being here may have been naive in the first place. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:52, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

I think we could at least improve from where we are. We need to reve up the fact checking comittes. I think semi-protection will help cut out some nonsense too.Voice of AllT|@|ESP 03:49, 31 December 2005 (UTC)

I am sympathetic. I am one of a few people who have supported the idea of a committee tht would arbitrate disputes over content (much as the ArbCom arbitrates disputes over personal conduct), although this proposal seems never to have gained much support. I would support any proposal that would lead to better articles, as long as it does not institutionalize a fixed hierarchy. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:31, 31 December 2005 (UTC)

What exactly does it mean to say that Wikipedia is a non-academic project. I've been raising the issue of "academic standards" on some articles, where people are using names and facts that are considered incorrect and inappropriate by academic norms, but are used colloquially.

This can be handled by suitable notation. Even the Merriam-Webster has relaxed its standards and entered the 'real' world, where most people live.

Aren't encyclopedias academic by definition. What are the implications of this? deeptrivia (talk) 00:07, 1 January 2006 (UTC)

I, at least, mean that it is not written by academics and academic editors should have no special privileges compared to other editors. Moreover, the acceptance of articles should not be conditional on their approval by a group of academics, as is the case with peer-reviewed articles. Slrubenstein | Talk 01:37, 1 January 2006 (UTC)

I am not impressed by a few self-professed 'academics' who pick up their marbles and go home because the game is not played according to their rules or standards(!) I have any number of advanced degrees (that was my version of dropping-out in the '60s), but my overall impression of the academic profession is— "they need to get a life!" normxxx| talk email 23:25, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

General discussion of encycopeldic goals, WP quality control problem, and possible responses

Alas, I am headed in the same direction as User:Wyss, as the result of vandalism, hoaxes, and POV pushing of the kind discussed in Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Licorne and Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Carl Hewitt. I want to discuss my concerns with like-minded WP users, but before I say anything else, let me point out that the membership list has degenerated into a list of comments, so that it is not clear who the "members" are and what principles they agree upon. Because I am not clear whether I myself am or should be a member of the Forum for Encyclopedic Standards, I hesitate to try to fix this, but I hope someone who knows more about this organization than I do will edit the project page appropriately.

I believe the goal of the WP is or should be the creation of a free on-line universal encyclopdia which offers well written, stylish, fair and accurate articles for the benefit of students, journalists, policy makers, and the general public worldwide. However, I fear Wikipedia is in very grave danger of being degraded into something which is useless for serious students who come here to read reliable articles about science topics, my primary area of interest as an editor.

My views on the nature of the problem and my suggestions for possible responses are complex. I am currently trying to much improve my currently disorganized explanation of why I think WP has a quality control problem and why I feel that the basic problem is that Wikipedia's populist ideals tend to conflict with (unintentionally but ineluctably elitist) scholarly ideals to foster discussion. Briefly, over the next five years, unfortunately, I expect that serious editors holding a view of the goal of WP similar to my own will gradually be driven out of Wikipedia classic by POV pushers, vandals, and hoaxers. Some will say that this is not a bad thing for WP (some might even say good riddance!), but this will certainly be an undesirable outcome for those individual users who depart in sadness and disgust! And I expect this will in the long run prove to be an undesirable outcome for WP as a whole, because I expect that the population of serious-minded editors will be gradually be displaced by persons who come here to rant, spam, or to push their cranky pseudoscience or political views. Pretty much what happened in the newsgroups over the past twenty years, alas.

On the bright side, I have some ideas about how to buy time while we discuss longer term solutions, which I would like to discuss. I also have some ideas about systematic migration to venues which might be more suitable for the collaborative creation of high-quality, accurate and WP:NPOV encyclopedia articles on math/sci topics and projects such as WikiProject GTR. I would like to discuss these concerns and suggestions for both long and short term responses with like-minded Wikipedians.

In reading about the quality control problem over the past year or so, I have noticed that many user comments and several relevant documents, including Academic Standards Disease, appear to claim that those of us who argue that Wikipedia must Jettison its Anti-Elitism or degenerate into a playground for hoaxers, cranks, and spammers, simply do not undertand how WP works. I'd like to make two points in response to this claim.

First, I think these comments may be confusing several distinct problems facing would-be designers of a techno-political model for creating an collaborative universal on-line encyclopedia, such as:

  1. Creating a critical mass of articles sufficient to convince more and more serious-minded, knowledgeable and articulate volunteers to contribute new articles on appropriate topics,
  2. the problem of protecting high quality articles from mischiveous or malicious tampering,
  3. encouraging further high quality contributions after one has achieved critical mass,
  4. discouraging hoaxes, vandalism, inappropriate POV pushing, and other bad edits, bad articles, etc.

How has the Wikipedia model has served WP in addressing these problems? I'd say

  1. very well,
  2. very badly,
  3. very well, at present (see below),
  4. very badly,

respectively. Given the widely appreciated difficulty of political sea change at WP, I think this suggests that ultimately, migration of serious articles to a venue which protects the highest quality articles from mischieveous or malicious tampering is the most obvious long term solution.

Second, I myself currently have [[more than 6600 edits to my name, and Larry Sanger actually founded the Wikipedia. So I think we know how WP works, and we have demonstrated by our actions that we care about its future. ----CH 03:03, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Standards enforcement

One of the simplest ways of improving the quality of articles is providing a simple bot that allows people to sweep through articles and clean up. We have them for disambiguation, stub sorting and a host of other odd jobs. One good step in this project would be to have a team of people list small, bot assistable, and coherent steps that would improve clean up - for example, adding ISBN numbers to books, or wikisource links to sources that are already in wiki - and then finding developers to work with them in creating these and setting them loose with editors who want to incrementally work through wikipedia.

Another simple step is thwarting edit gangs. We've all seen it - a few like minded editors who have a heavy POV to push take over a page, and procede to cruftify it - it becomes a dumping ground for fringe viewpoints. Often these articles are articles on ideologically charged points. There is a need to find a way to more rapidly raise a red flag and get a lot more editors on the page. In politics "government by obscurity" is holding open meetings that no one knows about, and putting power in the hands of 3 person committees that are theoretically open, but unadvertised. All over wikipedia this goes on - decisions are made by a consensus of two authors and then enforced by "our gang".

The best way to get a wiki going in the right direction is provide tools that are insertable into the wiki-world. Memetic tools - tools that make people want to spread the word by using them - produce emergent behavior. Rather than hoping to build a (non-scaleable) top down system, we should be looking at making use of habits that are in place to improve the quality of the product.

Stirling Newberry 03:56, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

The following section #Arbitration Committee is crazy involves several of the issues mentioned above. Browse through the case's /Workshop. (SEWilco 03:25, 24 December 2005 (UTC))

Arbitration Committee is crazy

I don't know how much longer I can participate. The Arbitration Committee, in violation of Wikipedia policies and Arbiration policy, dragged me into a farce of a case and now placed me on Probation and forbidden me from following policy Wikipedia:Verifiability and improving citations. [8] Another example of the need for Wikipedia:User Bill of Rights so we know the rules and arbitration actions are limited. (SEWilco 03:25, 24 December 2005 (UTC))

You dragged yourself into the case by your unreasonable behaviour, your refusal to participate in an RFC or to listen to the results, and your determined but failed attempt to sabotage the arbcomm case. Oddly enough the arbcomm didn't like all of that. Presumably, if you behave yourself, you can get your parole lifted. But since in your statement above you've still failed to see what people have been telling you all along - that this is about the reference format, not about verifiability - the omens are not good. William M. Connolley 09:30, 24 December 2005 (UTC).
The RFC had barely begun, and I participated in the arbcomm case as much as was necessary. (SEWilco 07:45, 1 January 2006 (UTC))

If there was a policy which required a certain style of notation for references the Arbitration Committee would have supported that policy. If you are unhappy with the current policy please work on hammering out a new one. I detest SEWilco's preferred notation, but make that the policy and I'll advocate enforcing it. Fred Bauder 09:35, 24 December 2005 (UTC)

I do not know anyone besides SEWilco who supports his particular form of citation, and as far as I can tell he created his bot to convert citations without any community support or even discussion. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:28, 31 December 2005 (UTC)
I created the bot to create citations, it was too stupid to convert citations other than ones related to WP:FN. WP:V makes quite clear that additional detail is preferred over minimal detail. See WP:FAC for more examples of users of WP:FN, or browse through the thousands of {{ref}} What-links-here articles. WP:FN was the best tool for identification of which citation belonged to which segment of text. That primitive bot is useful primarily because there are so many articles without citations. (SEWilco 07:45, 1 January 2006 (UTC))

Academic honesty

Does Wikipedia have a policy about academic honesty? I've looked in vain for a page that deals with a particular type of challenge. The basic problem seems to be that some editors don't attach much significance to citations. Here's a list of difficulties I've encountered with several Wikipedians over the last few months. Some of them are probably honest mistakes or errors from ignorance. A few looked like deliberate attempts to mislead the reader.

  1. An editor expands the article and claims to be adding new scholarship. Instead of adding new scholarship the editor recycles existing citations and burdens these references with unsupported POV.
  2. An editor names a secondary source in the article text. The associated footnote leads not to the secondary source but to a primary source that supports the underlying facts but not the interpretation.
  3. In response to a request for appropriate citation, inappropriate citation gets removed. No appropriate citation takes its place and problematic text (POV, undue weight) remains unchanged.
  4. An editor changes the text to misattribute a citation. The error occurs during an attempt at copyediting.
  5. Two editors introduce errors into 85% of the article's citations while attempting to update footnotes. They claim to have fixed the problem six times and fail in a different way at each attempt.
  6. An editor manufactures a fictitious footnote by citing a well known author on a tangentially related topic. The editor claims this as direct support for the editor's POV.
  7. An editor manufactures a fictitious footnote by citing an original source and claiming the source says things it doesn't say.
  8. An editor manufactures a fictitious footnote by citing a well known author and claiming that the author's views were the opposite of that author's statements.
  9. An editor creates a fictitious footnote that claims to describe the content of an original document that probably never existed.

Durova 01:47, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

Where is all this happening? I don't think I've seen any of that in fish-related articles, for instance. Stan 06:19, 4 January 2006 (UTC)
Heh, it reads like a summary of the tactics of Roylee (talk · contribs) and his sockpuppet(s); see Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Roylee. But I do not know how one could turn this sort of subleties into a policy. Durova, could you elaborate? — mark 13:06, 4 January 2006 (UTC)
Granting an initial presumption of good faith, some of these just sound like incompetence; a few of them, if accurately described, probably are not merely incompetent good faith, but actual bad faith. If a lot of this is one or two editors, sounds like RFC time. If all of this is one or two closely associated articles, sounds like RFC time, too, but about the articles, not the people. The fictitious footnotes—if they are that—seem particularly troubling, and would strike me as vandalism of a rather serious sort.

This would all be easier to engage if you gave some specifics. I understand if you are trying to avoid a fight, but it sounds from your description like you are probably already in one. -- Jmabel | Talk 10:07, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

I'm involved in another example: Someone deleting material of different POV because the URL has gone dead [9] but fixing other dead URLs[10]. A twist is that the another user had earlier deleted [11] an updated citation (the one labeled "note|") with a functional URL for that material which was later deleted. (SEWilco 05:16, 11 January 2006 (UTC))

Rather than address particular instances in isolation, I'd rather look at this in terms of encyclopedic standards. Wikipedia appears to have no policy or template that addresses this issue. All is not necessarily well when a reference source is appropriately authoritative and a citation appears in proper format: the substance of the citation can still be quite wrong. This sort of error is particularly damaging because it carries the superficial appearance of legitimacy. A high school or college student could waste hours locating an article's references and searching in vain for information those sources don't contain.
Right now I'm seeking the creation of a new template to flag inappropriate citations. This would be a useful alternative to edit warring. I also hope Wikipedia creates an academic honesty policy. Currently there is no page an editor can link to address a problem about a particular citation. Durova 20:30, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

Policy change proposal: Wikipedia:Verifiability/temp

A policy change has been proposed which is relevant to this project. See Wikipedia:Verifiability/temp. (SEWilco 04:46, 11 January 2006 (UTC))

List of sexual slurs

Could someone try to get this back to a redirect, or at least watch it so nonsense is not put in. This list are way out of control.Voice of AllT|@|ESP 03:28, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

Wikicite Project

m:Wikicite is a project dedicated to implementing many of the mechanisms and processes recommended by The Forum for Encyclopedic Standards. Technical design of this system is currently underway, and hopefully implementation can be completed this year. Before that happens, though, we need feedback from the community regarding the project's useability and functionality. Please take time to read the project proposal on Meta and then post your comments here regarding any improvements or missing features. Thanks.

Jleybov 23:46, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

Citing Popular culture

This may be very hard for pop culture topics or recent events. Some people feel that means those topics are unencyclopedic, although it is hard to imagine a general consensus on that. We could, however, decide that some subject matter is outside the scope of this forum, even if others in Wikipedia choose to work on these topics.

I moved this from the main page because it was in the wrong place and making things confusing. Sigrid 23:21, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
The remark was basically mine. No problem with it being addressed, but I think we would do well to decide how this project relates to these topics. - Jmabel | Talk 19:55, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
And I see that in over a month of the comment sitting here, no one has addressed my remark. It is one thing to remove it to the talk page. It is another to fail to address it. - Jmabel | Talk 20:43, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

Teachers: Have Our Students Help Reference Wikipedia

What if teachers and professors created assignments for their classes that allowed students to take a Wikipedia page and provide references for it? This would have obvious added pedagogical value. It would have to be carefully monitored, of course. With less trustworthy students, teachers might want to have the class work on a page together and then the teacher could vet it before the changes went up. Sigrid 23:21, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

  • You can always set up a Sandbox page (Wikipedia:Sandbox) each time. If you think a draft is ready, you can put a notice on the article's Talk page with a link to your Sandbox page, and ask editors who have worked on the article (see its "history" tab) if they agree your draft should be posted to the main page. Unless you get objections, Be Bold and post all your verified references. Have the students take responsibility for following up on other editors' later changes, especially where the validity of the students' sources is questioned. I think this is a great way to get students hands-on involved. Barno 00:07, 3 February 2006 (UTC)
  • Great! I'll offer it as a way of fulfilling the final project requirement in one of my classes this semester, and in future classes I'll consider making it an assignment everyone completes. If it works well, I'll start encouraging others to develop similar assignemnts. 14:03, 3 February 2006 (UTC)
Please have them edit with a username - makes for better accountability, and why not sign up for one yourself? Vsmith 14:19, 3 February 2006 (UTC)
And you may be interested to see Wikipedia:School and university projects which is a page documenting and coordinating similar classroom efforts. I agree it would be a great way to teach students research and citing, and of course learn material about a topic along the way. - Taxman Talk 15:17, 3 February 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, that was just me (Sigrid) again. I must have let my login lapse without realizing it. Thanks for the tips. Sigrid 13:35, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

New Template

Following up on my post from last month, there's a new template for inappropriate citations. This is a way to flag problems such as quotations out of context, interpretive references to primary sources, and citations of tangential material. It should be useful when working with editors who are either unfamiliar with proper scholarly citations or who try to legitimize their own OR through spurious references. Regards, Durova 04:36, 12 February 2006 (UTC)

As the previous remark fails to note, the template is {{citecheck}}. - Jmabel | Talk 21:17, 19 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes indeed, thank you. Durova 16:30, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Scientific peer review

I have made a suggestion at WikiProject Science and wonder what the users of this page think. --Oldak Quill 17:14, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

A scientific peer review has been started and we're looking for Wikipedians who are members of the scientific academic community to run for the board. If you want to give it a shot come over and post a little about yourself. New nominations are being accepted until the 00:00 on the 17th March.

The project aims to combine existing peer review mechanisms (Wikipedia peer review, featured article candidate discussion, article assessment, &c.) which focus on compliance to manual of style and referencing policy with a more conventional peer review by members of the scientific academic community. It is hoped that this will raise science-based articles to their highest possible standards. Article quality and factual validity is now Wikipedia's most important goal. Having as many errors as Britannica is not good–we must raise our standards above this. --Oldak Quill 18:05, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

while this sounds like a good idea... the problem is that you'd need to find a way to keep the articles at the highest standard and I'm not sure that can be done given the dynamic nature of the wiki. The reasons peer review works in academia is because we have fixed objects... the paper that goes through a revision cycle that ultimately ends in publication or rejections. You can't really do that with a fluid document with many authors, can you? --Buridan 19:07, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
The path to Wikipedia 1.0 and various validation features are well on the way. --Oldak Quill 22:46, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

The importance of oversight

The following is an article that became a good article and a featured article candidate despite several copyright problems. It probably would have damaged the project if it had appeared on the main page: Mango. I am awarding a barnstar to the sharp eyed editor who first spotted the violations. Durova 14:24, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia talk:Did you know unreferenced problem

Just a heads up for people watching this page, there has been some (strange to my mind) resistance to having the Did you know on the main page only allow referenced facts. For reasons I expanded on in that talk page I think highlighting unreferenced facts and articles on the main page is not what we should be promoting and violates the verifiability policy anyway. Please go there and comment so we can move to ecouraging the type of referenced work we need. Thanks - Taxman Talk 18:52, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Where would I go to urge people who like DYK the way it is now (and who think that encouraging newcomers to write articles and having them see the profound improvements to their articles (including the addition of references in many case) when they are selected far outweighs this issue), to come and visit a discussion thread and speak out in the other direction? Because the above para sort of feels like votestackrecruitment to me, although I'm no doubt misinterpreting it. DO NOT take this as a suggestion that I think referencing is bad. Merely that messing up DYK is not the way to achieve the goal. ++Lar: t/c 19:13, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
I obviously think it is and on that page is the right place to discuss it in any case. It's not a vote we just need people that understand the relevant issues to have a discussion. - Taxman Talk 19:19, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Encyclopedic or not? Question seeking comments.

I'm editing a few fields which have a significant amount of controversy over their scientific standing. In each case there is a relatively limited and hard to track down canon of academic literature, some supportive, some critical, some flawed, (by other researchers' judgements) and some reliable.

What I'd like to do would be an article "List of studies on <subject X>". The aim would be an article that listed researches and their (summary) findings or how they are considered by other (cited) authorities. The aim of doing so would be:

  • A list of academic papers and information in some relatively hard to research fields.
  • Reduction of NPOV disputes, by means of a single article that lists and summarizes known papers on both sides (rather than footnoting a few selected or drawing conclusions, which leads to allegations of "POV"), and therefore making it more obvious to see what in fact the research does say in reality, which can be agreed by both sides.

I think that a list of sources has a value in and of itself, not just a place in footnotes for other articles. I've had one experienced editor saying such articles are unencyclopedic, and another editor say its exactly what's needed. Would some discussion be possible?

A format for such an article would be:

List of studies into X-ology documents the range of research, and current viewpoints and findings, by science, into X-ology.
===Studies 1990-2005===
  • Jim (1994) - double blind study of 200 white males, concluded ___. Supported by Jim (2000) but called pseudoscientific by Ann (2001) due to claimed methodological weaknesses.{CITE/REF}
  • Mark(1996) - metastudy by French Department of inetrior, into usability of X-ology in social security provision. Examined 3000 individuals spread across 14 peer reviewed studies. Concluded some positive indications, no conclusive evidnece. Recommended further review.{CITE/REF}
  • Jane (2000) - clinical study of 23 case reports on X-ology in psychiatric hospitals and trauma clinics. Concluded that X-ology is linked to <Y> but bears little relation to <Z>. Interview questions not listed, no controls, considered "contradictory and questionable" as to reliability by Ann (2001) (p.47).{CITE/REF}
===See also=== etc

As said, I've been told by an experienced editor this would not be encyclopedic. But on the other hand I've been told by others it is a legitimate list of valuable information, if that information is not readily collated in a source elsewhere. It's not clear whether wikipedia:Listcruft has the upper hand, or WP:LIST ("The list may be a valuable information source. This is particularly the case for a structured list. Examples would include lists... grouped by theme, or annotated lists.")

Comments how others watching encyclopedic standards see it?

FT2 (Talk) 12:44, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

This would not belong in the article, but might be useful on the talk page. - Jmabel | Talk 23:47, 25 June 2006 (UTC)