Wikipedia talk:Neutral point of view

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Biased vs. subjective statements[edit]

Wikipedia:Neutral point of view § Handling neutrality disputes discusses proper attribution for biased statements of opinion. Biased strikes me as a loaded word, being as it is synonymous with prejudiced – few people want to admit their own biases. Perhaps subjective would be an equally precise yet more a more precise and diplomatic term here (update 05:46, 13 July 2016 (UTC)). Coconutporkpie (talk) 10:16, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

Pending further input by other editors, I made some changes to this section related to my comments above. Since subjective opinion (like biased opinion) is a redundancy, I omitted one reference to bias outright and replaced another with opinion. Full disclosure: a discussion I am involved in at Talk:Ajax (play) § regarding the attribution to a particular person alone makes reference to this policy. –Coconutporkpie (talk) 00:49, 13 July 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for you ideas, but material changes to policy should go to wider discussion first, possibly including an RfC. Using alternate words for "biased" (eg "subjective", "opinion") may or may not be useful, but you've made larger changes to the wording which should be proposed, discussed and consensus gained first. Stickee (talk) 01:12, 13 July 2016 (UTC)
According to Wikipedia:Editing policy § Edits to policies and guidelines, "changes that would alter the substance of policy or guidelines should normally be announced on the appropriate talk page first. The change may be implemented if no objection is made to it or if discussion shows that there is consensus for the change" (emphasis mine). Wider discussion is not strictly necessary. However, I believe that the wording changes I made bring this section into greater agreement with broader Wikipedia policy and do not materially alter the substance of the policy in question (update: I have restored the changes in question pending further discussion). —Coconutporkpie (talk) 02:57, 13 July 2016 (UTC)
"The change may be implemented if no objection is made to it" That's great, because I am objecting to it. Using "subjective" instead of "biased" is just a euphemism and doesn't clarify anything. Subjectiveness and bias are very different things.
To give advice on your specific case, make sure you're not confusing mainstream view with opinion. For example, Evolution is presented as fact by Wikipedia because mainstream scientific view says it is. We don't attribute it to a specific scientist. Stickee (talk) 03:22, 13 July 2016 (UTC)
I agree that subjectivity and bias are different things, and in fact the policy in question deals more with subjectivity than bias anyway. For instance, the example sentence "John Doe is the best baseball player" is subjective, that is, a judgement "based on feelings or opinions rather than facts", according to Merriam-Webster. It does not necessarily indicate bias, that is, "an inclination of temperament or outlook : prejudice". Bias refers to a pattern of favoring one thing over another, whereas subjectivity is a quality of a particular statement. It is not a euphemism, and in fact my original reasoning of using more "diplomatic" language should have added to it the issue of accuracy: whether a given statement is subjective should be apparent, but the presence of bias cannot in fact be proved by a single example. Articles may be biased and sources may be biased, but a single statement cannot be said to be biased (unless it clearly expresses a prejudicial view, such as "Baseball players are always better looking than hockey players", for instance). Bias is essentially a state of mind. My wording changes addressed this issue and elaborated on Wikipedia:Neutral point of view § Explanation of the neutral point of view, which states, "Avoid stating opinions (i.e. subjective statements) as facts" and "Avoid stating seriously contested assertions (ditto) as facts".
The existing policy wording contains other confusing and inaccurate statements, for instance: specify does not mean the same thing as substantiate, which is why I deleted it; "But they will not argue over this" is unprovable and irrelevant anyway, since the point is not to stop arguments but to present factual information that lets readers form their own judgments; and the last sentence about opinion surveys is overly wordy and inaccurate ("Most people think" is not a phrase that is likely to ever legitimately occur in Wikipedia). —Coconutporkpie (talk) 06:06, 13 July 2016 (UTC)
I agree with Stickee. And I also disagree with your changes to Template:According to whom. Addressed at Template talk:According to whom#In-text attribution for cited material. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 23:07, 13 July 2016 (UTC)
It's nice that you found someone with whom you agree, but talk pages are not ballot boxes. Please provide reasons that support your views. –Coconutporkpie (talk) 00:16, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
There's no need to reiterate reasons already supplied by Stickee. You want policy changed? Get WP:Consensus for it. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 00:20, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
I have already refuted addressed the arguments you mention, Flyer22 Reborn, and as I wrote above, the substance of policy is not being changed here, only the language used to describe it (updated 00:13, 15 July 2016 (UTC)). Speaking of consensus, I suggest you review that policy, since you don't seem to understand what it means to "incorporate all editors' legitimate concerns, while respecting Wikipedia's policies and guidelines". —Coconutporkpie (talk) 05:23, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
In your opinion, you have refuted the arguments. Disagreeing with you does not mean that I have not considered your concerns. Whether or not your concerns are legitimate is another matter, however. As for rules, out of the two of us, you are the one who has repeatedly demonstrated that you need to review our policies and guidelines, especially WP:Buro, since you almost always interpret them too strictly. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 05:39, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
On a side note: There is no need to WP:Ping me to a policy talk page that I have been watching and commenting on for years. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 05:41, 14 July 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Since no further arguments regarding the actual merit of the changes in question have been made, I have restored the disputed wording pending further substantive discussion. —Coconutporkpie (talk) 00:10, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

And I have reverted. Two editors thus far disagree with you and this is a policy page. You cannot come in and demand that a change be made. Or decide that your argument trumps objections to your changes. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 02:06, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
@Flyer22 Reborn: Wikipedia is not a democracy, and decisions are made through reasoned arguments, not by majority rule. No substantive objections have so far been made that I have not addressed. If there are others, please state them. If there is disagreement with the points I have made, please give reasons for the disagreement. —Coconutporkpie (talk) 00:15, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
I didn't get your ping; not that I needed it anyway. Funny that you should quote to WP:Buro after I pointed you to it above. Either way, I have made myself clear on this matter. Your continued WP:Edit warring at this policy page is unacceptable, and if you continue with it, I will request WP:Full protection. I might also escalate things to WP:ANI. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 01:52, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
You argued, "Articles may be biased and sources may be biased, but a single statement cannot be said to be biased." I do not understand that viewpoint. Sure, you stated "unless it clearly expresses a prejudicial view, such as 'Baseball players are always better looking than hockey players'," but many of us who edit this site have have dealt with biased statements. Your issue is a semantics one that I do not see supported by reliable sources. By contrast, there are a number of reliable sources commenting on distinguishing between fact and opinion, and on what is or is not a biased statement. For example, this 1996 Environmental Impact Statements: A Practical Guide for Agencies, Citizens, and Consultants source, from John Wiley & Sons, pages 316-318. If we go to Yourdictionary.com, it states, "Bias is a tendency to favor one person, group, thing or point of view over another, often in an unfair way. Bias can be a personal opinion or a more public opinion, such as a news story, that only presents facts that support one point of view." And Dictionary.com states, "a particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned: illegal bias against older job applicants; the magazine’s bias toward art rather than photography; our strong bias in favor of the idea." In other words, bias can also be "based on feelings or opinions rather than facts." Even going back to when many of us were in elementary or middle school, what is or isn't a biased statement was taught. For example, this 1991 University Press of America source, page 341 and onward, that addresses identifying facts and biased statements. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 02:40, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
Finally, some remarks focusing on the substance of edits, not editors' behavior. Yes, the issue is one of semantics, because choice of vocabulary in a project, such as Wikipedia, that relies on written language, strongly influences the quality of communication.
Regarding sources, Environmental Impact Statements: A Practical Guide for Agencies, Citizens, and Consultants from 1996 seems an obscure and oddly specialist sort of reference for questions of general English-language usage. Frankly, it's grasping at straws. Was there really no general style guide to refer to? The same goes for the 25-year-old Elementary and Junior High/middle School Social Studies Curriculum, Activities, and Materials. In middle school I was taught that Pluto is the ninth planet of our solar system. One could argue that that is merely a question of semantics as well. But I certainly wouldn't rely on a junior-high textbook from that era for an article about Pluto in 2016. And I think we can disregard yourdictionary.com, published by "LoveToKnow Corp.", whoever they may be. Where are the mainstream, contemporary sources on this?
Some dictionaries (such as Random House, the source for dictionary.com's content) may equate bias with opinion. But where that source defines bias as "a particular tendency, trend, [or] inclination"/"unreasonably hostile feelings or opinions about a social group; prejudice", it defines opinion simply as "a belief or judgment"/"a personal view," – in other words, not necessarily a pattern of prejudice. Where bias is synonymous with prejudice, prejudice is a particular kind of (usually unfavorable) opinion. But Wikipedia's neutrality policy doesn't care whether an opinion is favorable or unfavorable – both kinds are not to be stated in Wikipedia's voice. That is why I think bias is misleading in this particular instance regarding attribution – not in the policy as a whole. Bias is still an important issue regarding the overall content of articles and sources.
Regarding this particular instance, I think that Merriam-Webster's definitions for opinion and bias imply that the words are normally understood differently. But assuming that they are synonymous, my Revision as of 00:04, 15 July 2016 should therefore have resulted in no change to the substance of the policy at all. Can someone please tell me what exactly is the problem with the wording I used (reproduced below)?

Attributing and substantiating opinions

Statements of opinion, subjective judgements, and interpretations of facts should be presented only with attribution to their source. For instance, "John Doe is the best baseball player" expresses an opinion and should not be stated in Wikipedia as a fact. A better sentence would be: "John Doe's baseball skills have been praised by baseball insiders such as Al Kaline and Joe Torre." Such statements must still be verifiable and appropriately cited. Be certain that describing the opinions of third parties does not veer into original research.

Another approach is to substantiate the statement, by giving factual details that support a given position. For example: "John Doe had the highest batting average in the major leagues from 2003 through 2006." This allows the reader to draw their own conclusions about John Doe's abilities. Such content must still reflect the balance of mainstream opinion (see Due and undue weight, above).

Avoid the temptation to lend a vague impression of authority to subjective statements with "weasel words", for example "Many people think John Doe is the best baseball player." In this case, "Who?" and "How many?" are natural objections. Instead, stick to the facts as presented in reliable sources.

Coconutporkpie (talk) 05:40, 21 July 2016 (UTC)
You asked, "Where are the mainstream, contemporary sources on this?" That is exactly my question when it comes to your above arguments. Taking sources and distinguishing their definitions based on your viewpoint would be argued as WP:Synthesis if such a viewpoint were added to our articles. Even the Merriam-Webster source you cited states, "an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially : a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment." So again, bias can be based on feelings or opinions rather than facts. I see sources (other than the ones I noted above) commenting on distinguishing between fact and opinion, and on what is or is not a biased statement, but I see no sources arguing from the view you are arguing from. There are no mainstream, contemporary sources on such an issue.
We need more opinions on this. Perhaps leave a note at WP:Village pump (policy) about this discussion? Or propose the change there and leave a note here about the discussion taking place there? Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 07:06, 21 July 2016 (UTC)

A few weeks ago, a discussion occurred with the editor who started this discussion, Coconutporkpie, on the Talk:Ajax (play), during which (July 2, 2016) he referred to this guideline, Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. It apparently did not support particular claims he was making regarding Ajax (play), so he edited (on July 13, 2016) this guideline — without any discussion or consensus — so that it then supported what he was trying to do on the Ajax (play) article. Something similar occurred when this same editor began to claim that an in-text attribution was needed in the Ajax (play) article: While making that claim, he then edited (on July 13, 2016) a template (Template:According to whom) in a way that would support his claim on the Ajax (play) talk page. This was again done without any discussion or consensus, and it again resulted in another long discussion on the talk page (Template talk:According to whom). This is ”gaming the system”. An example of a problem that could occur is this: If an argumentative editor in a discussion were to change a guideline or a template, he could then return to the discussion and surprise the other editors by using that change as a tool in his argument. That’s hypothetical, but it’s an example of a reason the guidelines need to be respected and not altered for the sake of some small point on some talk page. Clockchime (talk) 13:25, 7 August 2016 (UTC)

Due/undue weight[edit]

  • WP:DUE Neutrality requires that each article or other page in the mainspace fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint in the published, reliable sources.
  • WP:BALASPS An article should not give undue weight to any aspects of the subject but should strive to treat each aspect with a weight appropriate to the weight of that aspect in the body of reliable sources on the subject. For example, discussion of isolated events, criticisms, or news reports about a subject may be verifiable and impartial, but still disproportionate to their overall significance to the article topic. This is a concern especially in relation to recent events that may be in the news.

I'm having trouble understanding how these rules are applied to facts about a topic. To what extent does the NPOV policy apply to factual events? How do we decide what content to put in an article, other than summarizing the material found in reliable sources? Some editors seem to say that there is a wider definition of "due weight", one that's dependent on the overall context and on unreported issues. Or that articles can't contain information because other, similar, article don't contain that kind of information. Or that newsworthy topics should be ignored because they're in the news (per an interpretation of WP:BALASPS). There are many policies about what material should not be in articles. Other than WP:NPOV, is there any other policy about what should go into an article? Felsic2 (talk) 16:25, 5 August 2016 (UTC)

RfC on expanded use of pull-quote templates with "giant quotation marks" for any quotations[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere.

The RfC at Template talk:Pull quote#Request for comments on use and documentation is relevant to several aspects of this policy, especially WP:UNDUE.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:09, 18 August 2016 (UTC)