Wikipedia talk:Neutral point of view/Archive 17

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NOTE: The page history for Wikipedia talk:Neutral point of view prior to April 11, 2006 has been moved to this page.

Archived discussions
Archive_001 Discussions before October 2004
Archive_002 Closing out 2004
Archive_003 Discussions begun Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr 2005
Archive 004 July to November 4, 2005
Archive 005 to November 13, 2005
Archive 006 to December 4, 2005
Archive 007 to December 30, 2005
Archive 008 to December 27, 2005
Archive 009 to January 16, 2006
Archive 010 to January 23, 2006
Archive 011 to January 25, 2006
Archive 012 to January 26, 2006
Archive 013 to January 29, 2006
Archive 014 to January 29, 2006
Archive 015 to March 8, 2006
Archive 016 to March 10, 2006

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Undue weight and other long running discussions

Undue weight and other long running discussions which only a few editors are interested participating in have been moved to this subpage: Wikipedia talk:Neutral point of view/Limited interest discussions This was done in the interest in freeing the main discussion page up for talk on topics that interest more than one or two editors and because those editors have refused to take these never-ending discussions to a user talk page as many here have requested. FeloniousMonk 23:38, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

What if the Undue weight section is distorted? Maybe in the long run having a clear policy is better than having a clear talk page. Bensaccount 23:51, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
I'd think that if the undue weight section were genuinely distorted there'd be more than the same couple editors here pushing to rewrite it over the last 2 + months. FeloniousMonk 00:00, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

Discussion once again moved to Wikipedia talk:Neutral point of view/Limited interest discussions subpage. Étincelle, I suggest you listen to the many requests of your fellow editors, respect their wishes, and discuss this topic on your user talk page. The endless droning on about this is becoming disruptive. FeloniousMonk 08:41, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

I wholeheartedly agree with this. - Taxman Talk 08:56, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
I disagree: although not commenting on them most of the time, I follow most of these discussions and AFAIK there is no Wikipdia policy that gives an editor the right to "dump" authentic discussions of other editors into anything else but into the archives - the archives happen to have the purpose to "clean up". Harald88 13:28, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
WP:POINT covers it. Enough editors have called for the discussion to be continued in the user talk spaces of the one or two who are participating that ignoring those calls has become disruptive. Interested editors are still able to participate or follow the discussion at the subpage. FeloniousMonk 17:44, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
First, WP:POINT has nothing to do with it. Second, we are not violating any Wikipedia rule. We are using the talk page exactly as it should be used. We are not disruptive, except in the view of some which don't like our view. Whatever the percentage that it represents, this majority, if there is a majority, is against policy if it tries to prevent us from using the talk page in accordance with policy. -Étincelle (formerly Lumiere) 18:12, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
"We are using the talk page exactly as it should be used."
Talk pages are not chat rooms. There is no policy that supports flooding a Talk page for several months with tangential discussions that bear no practical fruit. Avoid referring to mythical policy. – Saxifrage 21:01, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for sharing your personal view about our contribution to this talk page. There maybe a few editors that share your view, but there are others that don't. As long as we do not violate policy, don't you think this is a good occasion to show some appreciation for the viewpoints of others? It is not us that try to exclude the views of others. So, ask yourself who are the editors that show a lack of appreciation for the views of others, a lack of open mind and heart. -Étincelle (formerly Lumiere) 21:42, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
You're not contributing, you're chatting. That's not what this page is for. – Saxifrage 21:45, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
This is nonsense. When we discuss the Undue weight section, we are not chatting. We are not chatting any more than other editors are chatting when they discuss disclosure of possible conflict of interest (see below). So, again, thank you for your personal view on our contribution. We feel very much appreciated and welcome. Congratulation! -Étincelle (formerly Lumiere) 21:57, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
This is why editors are encouraged to become familiar with Wikipedia before diving into policy discussions. Your lack of experience leaves you unfamiliar with the appropriate uses of particular pages. For instance, at Talk:Nintendo, general talk about the company is removed. Only talk about how to make the article reflect the company is appropriate. Here, the parallel is that you are talking about the Undue Weight policy, not about how to make the page accurately reflect the policy. A certain amount of that is tolerated on policy pages where it is not tolerated at article pages, however, a certain amount does not include several months. (This is why the discussion about biographies is not out-of-line yet.) Do you see the difference? – Saxifrage 22:11, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Something just occurred to me: I bet you've never heard of the Wikipedia:Village pump. The sort of discussion that you are fond of is exactly what the Village Pump is designed for, and you will find many editors there who will appreciate the esoteric issues you bring up. Not only that, but much influential policy is hashed out and created at the Village Pump, since it is such a dynamic and high-traffic part of the project. You might find your style of discussion highly welcomed there. – Saxifrage 21:54, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Hyacinth asked "how do criticisms of topics fits into the Wikipedia articles about those topics?" If you think you can answer this question in a less "esoteric" manner go ahead. I think the question will continue to be raised on this page until it is addressed in the policy; currently all we have is the Undue weight section. The village pump is for general policy discussions. This is specific to NPOV and therefore belongs on this page. Bensaccount 22:06, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
You misunderstand the purpose of the Village Pump then. This is not the place to create new aspects of policy to address this shortcoming. – Saxifrage 22:12, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
I think you are mistaken. If there is a shortcoming specific to the NPOV policy, this is precisely the place to address it. Bensaccount 22:16, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
To change NPOV policy (rather than just the policy page), you actually need to show consensus support from the entire project. The entire project does not watch this page, ergo, this is not the place to do it. The Village Pump is watched by many more, therefore it is a better place than here. Ultimately, even a discussion there would eventually have to undergo some kind of purpose-created promotional process in order to get enough exposure to guage the consensus of the whole project. – Saxifrage 22:26, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
It is not my intention to change the policy against your will. Bensaccount 22:39, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
But it is your intention to discuss policy rather than the policy page here against the will of the rest of the editors. A use of this page for which it is not intended nor suited. Am I mistaken? – Saxifrage 23:13, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
If the undue weight section of the policy page were distorted, would that not be related to the policy page? Bensaccount 16:49, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
Let me explain that Saxifrage is using a very distorted argument. He starts with the strange idea that a policy page that describes a policy is the same as a WP article about this policy. Sure, if you have a WP article about a company or a person, you do not argue in its talk page against the company or the person, especially not if your intention is to improve the company or the person. You can only discuss how to best describe the person or the company as it is now, in a neutral way. If we were in the talk page of an article about the NPOV policy (an interesting topic for a new WP article), Saxifrage argument would apply, but we are not. Saxifrage is just confused. -Étincelle (formerly Lumiere) 17:09, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
If it were actually a misrepresentation of policy, sure. I believe that most here are of the position that it's not a misrepresentation of policy, though. – Saxifrage 19:34, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
I see that you still hold to your view that we are violating policy even though you have no argument anymore. Remember that three editors did not agree with your view and five did agree. There is no indication of a large majority here. However, unless you expect a super large majority, it is pointless to count because even a large majority should not suppress the opinions of a minority when they express their opinions without violating any policy. -Étincelle (formerly Lumiere) 21:47, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
Saxifrage, I will reply in your user page. -Étincelle (formerly Lumiere) 22:47, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

FeloniousMonk please undo your opiniated move and save that discussion to the archives, as it should in accordance with Wikipedai rules (I don't know how to do that). Harald88 10:36, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

Indeed, archiving is not a problem when it is done in the normal way. What is the problem is the expression of a strongly non NPOV attitude toward others views. -Étincelle (formerly Lumiere) 12:20, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

Neutrality and autobiography

There is no reference to the view (recently endorsed by ArbCom ruling) that WP:NPOV indicates that you should not normally write about subjects in which you have a personal involvement - yourself, your family, your company, your website. That seems to me to need some kind of comment. Am I missing a place where it's already covered? Just zis Guy you know? 12:49, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

That's a good point. What do you have in mind, language-wise? FeloniousMonk 20:23, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
AFAIK I have seen quite the opposite: Wikipedia encourages that knowledgable people contribute to articles (usually someone who is knowledgable is heavily involved, emotionally and/or career wise), and also that people avoiding OR by publishing on Wikipedia after they manage to get their views published in a respectable source. It looks to me that a rule against contributing to information about oneself is incompatible with such guidelines that encourage expert information. Harald88 20:39, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
The distinction is your company as opposed to your expertise, for example if you are a medical doctor who specializes in cardiac care, you are an asset to an article about hearts, heart disease, etc. If you happen to work for ABC Heart Clinic, you would be considered potentially biased on the ABC Heart Clinic article. It is an extension of the WP:AUTO guideline. KillerChihuahua?!? 20:57, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
The potential bias problem applies to all such cases - it's not even a potential, but a general problem (think of specialists on evolution vs. specialists on creation/creationism!). I don't know of a rule that forbids specialists to make edits in articles that contain information which could affect the credibility of their publications, and which they would thus be tempted to alter. Instead, editors are simply asked to contribute with their knowledge, and to try to compensate for their bias.
Thus the WP:AUTO guideline must not creep into Wikipedia policy. Harald88 17:35, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
Doesn't such bias get covered by NPOV? – Saxifrage 19:10, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
Sure it does. Thus I'm against such a subtle change of policy. OTOH, IMO there is nothing against adding a link to the advice as given on WP:AUTO (which is less imposing than what JzG proposes here below). Harald88 20:30, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
Ah, sorry. It sounded like you were advocating the opposite. – Saxifrage 21:12, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
Which ArbCom? Hipocrite - «Talk» 20:40, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
There are several that are relevant:
FeloniousMonk 21:00, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
What I had in mind was something along the lines of "if you are personally involved in a subject (yourself, your family, your business), your point of view is unlikely to be entirely neutral. In such cases it is best to make your comments on the relevant Talk page and leave it to others to edit the article itself." Just zis Guy you know? 00:24, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
My understanding is that any editor is welcome to edit any article providing they do so within the framework of content policies of Wikipedia. Note that WP:NPOV is a policy while WP:AUTO is a guideline. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 20:36, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
Except that in WP:AUTO and WP:VAIN we explicitly discourage them from doing so, and even Jimbo got dinged for it. Just zis Guy you know? 22:00, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
Should this cover the situation where the subject of an article, their employee or someone close to them, endeavours to slant the article while remaining anonymous? "It would probably be a good idea to identify yourself on the article's talk page with the Notable Wikipedian notice." doesn't do much to discourage this, and it could be helpful to have a stronger requirement for contributors to declare an interest. ...dave souza, talk 22:33, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
"Slanting an article" is contrary to policy regardless if an editor is an associate, a detractor, or a supporter of a certain political affiliation, religion, church, company, organization, etc. Declaration of bias/interest is good manners, but not a requirement. Many people use aliases for their usernames and we have a strong privacy policy in place to protect editors from others disclosing their personal details to prevent harassment. I would argue that WP:NPOV and WP:V provide a very strong foundation already as they are, and have served us admirably well so far. Also note that WP:VAIN describes the situation about "associates" as it pertains to "little known" companies or subjects, while WP:AUTO applies "to articles about you, your achievements, your business, your publications, your website, your relatives, and any other possible conflict of interest". ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 04:02, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, but editors hiding their conflict of interest behind the privacy policy merely to side-step the existing limitations on their contributing to articles in which they have a stake is a very real and disruptive problem. Believe me. The current arrangement encourages dishonesty and rewards the most deceptive. Responsible investigation of possible biases and conflicts of interest is an integral part of basic administrative duties of policing Wikipedia content. Aspects of an editor's identity that are readily available by way of a Google search cannot be expected to remain private when their subject falls under scrutiny in connection with questionable or biased editing. JzG's proposed sentence or two is consistant with other policy and guideline, and adds no new concepts or restrictions, and so seems seems reasonable to include here. Particularly since this is one of the few policies that is almost certainly read by every editor eventually. FeloniousMonk 09:11, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Jossi; on this one I join the "statu quo gang" (except for the allowance to add a link of course). Harald88 13:37, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

FM: the problem I see is with enforcement. For example, I have chosen to declare my bias/affiliation in my talk page. I also post under my real name. But as you well know, many editors either edit anonymously, under an alias, and/or do not disclose their affiliations. So, the question is how would you enforce/police this? Will you have editors-as-detectives trying to ascertain the identity of a user and then his/her affliation? How do you propose to conducte "responsible investigations"? Who will do this? Who will audit the process? etc, etc, etc. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 19:30, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
In truth a link may be all that's required; what I want to achieve is that anybody looking up NPOV is made aware of the special problems which attach to personal or corporate autobiography. I'd rather people declared their interest and gave good edit summaries than nibbled away at the edges from a sock account. I guess that declaring your interest on the Talk page is general good practice... Just zis Guy you know? 23:17, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
In practice this sort of detective work just isn't necessary. Any user who persistently injects POV into an article is eventually contained by application of NPOV, editor consensus, and dispute resolution. This happens regardless of why they are biased—having an affiliation with the article subject is just a subset of the ways in which an editor can POV-push. – Saxifrage 23:26, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
I can see the reasoning behind both yours and Jossi's thinking here, and I'm not disputing it, you're both right. It just seems to me looking at the Congessional staff imbroglio that had the affilation been discovered and dealt with early on, much unnecessary work and disruption could have been avoided. FeloniousMonk 17:37, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
I see your point. I do think it's lovely when someone tips their hand and saves us all a lot of work. I'm just not sure that that (rather considerable) advantage to the project warrants any privacy compromises. – Saxifrage 19:30, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

Sharing few words

Greetings. I am here as a volunteer for last one year, and I have been thinking about the Project from various angles. Sometimes, certain words of Sir Winston Churchill have come to my mind. I would like to share the same:

  • ” I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colors. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.”
  • ”There are a terrible lot of lies going around the world, and the worst of it is half of them are true.”

I have also heard somewhere that “the truth does not depend on a consensus of opinion.” --Bhadani 06:16, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Many people get confused about what NPOV and verifiability means. This is my understanding: As editors we are not necessarily concerned with asserting "The Truth", or applying value judgments about if there is such a thing or not. WP:NPOV and WP:V may be in the beginning counter-intuitive concepts to grasp, but these are concept that have enabled Wikipedia to attempt to become the repository of all human knowledge and make it available for free. Has Wikipedia achieved that? Of course not. Will it ever be the case? don't think so. But without such a principle as WP:NPOV and WP:V, this attempt would have never had chance, and most surely end up drowned in the sea of partisanship, politics, advocacy, and what not. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 20:38, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

website claims ""Some argue" is Wikipedianese for "I think". It is a convenient way to bypass NPOV."


"Some argue" is Wikipedianese for "I think". It is a convenient way to bypass NPOV.

See it for yourself via Google:
Real search results as of 17-Oct-05 23:34 EST:

Some argue that a more appropriate standard should be fairness and accuracy
Some would argue that humans have an amount of hubris
some argue that hate speech must be regulated to protect members of groups.
Some argue that small gardens and greenhouses should be favored
Some argue that anti-LGBT prejudice is immoral or unwise above and beyond the effects on that class of people.
Some people would argue that the movement is too closely related to communism
Some argue that even terrorism has undergone globalization
Some argue that this is an advantage
Some argue that those who set up access points without adding security measures are offering their connection, sometimes unintentionally, to the community.
Some argue that a reading of the first two chapters of Genesis produces the impression of two separate accounts of the same event.

Well, this is something I want to bring up, the "some argue" thing. I tried it though, and it didn't work for me. DyslexicEditor 08:56, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

I suspect it's true that this happens a lot. But it isn't WP:NPOV. The important thing is whether or not the article answers the question "who argues?", in principle by quoting reputable/reliable sources. Perhaps this type of search can be used as a standard method to hunt down possible (or even probable?) NPOV/NOR violations. Perhaps, as it may well reduce to a method to hunt down articles on controversial subject where weasel words are used to keep the peace... Just for fun I checked one of these statements, Some argue that even terrorism has undergone globalization found in Globalization. It seems this particular statement is unsourced. I think it won't be difficult to find such sources though. One may even find that MANY have argued the point or that it is generally believed. Some other instances of some... in the same article are already sourced by the way. AvB ÷ talk 09:52, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Update - just added some citations to this statement in Globalization and changed "some argue" to "it is often argued". More importantly, it did not pinpoint a serious WP:NPOV violation - just a very sourcable fact that wasn't sourced. AvB ÷ talk 10:08, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

This is a very valid complaint. Using that kind of wording, called weasel words, is generally frowned upon and should almost always be changed. See Wikipedia:Avoid weasel words. – Saxifrage 18:19, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Yes, well, some argue that "some argue" is not NPOV, but some argue otherwise. People aren't NPOV; articles are. - Keith D. Tyler 19:27, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

I talked a bit about weasel words in its talk page, going off this thread. DyslexicEditor 01:10, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Last paragraph of Reasoning behind NPOV section

In Archive 013 this paragraph was addressed, but has not been fixed. It seems to assert that "dogmatism/dogmatic institutions" and "Totalitarian governments" are bad, and that "liberation" is good. This seems to be out of keeping with the NPOV policy itself. I think this paragraph can be reworked to reflect NPOV as follows:

There is another reason to commit ourselves to this policy. Namely, when it is clear to readers that we do not expect them to adopt any particular opinion, this leaves them free to make up their own minds. If we succeed in adhering to our non-bias policy, the presentation of many competing theories on a wide variety of subjects suggests that we, the creators of Wikipedia, trust readers' competence to form their own opinions, and nearly everyone working on Wikipedia can agree that this is a good thing.

--MonkeeSage 09:38, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Well spotted, MonkeeSage. I would support the rewording. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 19:39, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Another yea vote for it. – Saxifrage 20:43, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Support. Jon Awbrey 20:58, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Object: "Totalitarian governments and dogmatic institutions everywhere might find reason to be opposed to Wikipedia" is no judgment of "badness", and certainly not pushing a POV about any specific entity.
It's even a current news item that authoritarian governments tend to be against elaborate, uncensored information. Thus it's factual (and clarifying) that Wikipedia promotes a policy/phiilosophy that is contrary to that of such entities.
On top of that, this serves as a warning for possible sources of sabotage attempts against individual articles as well and even Wikipedia itself - which is potentially of practical use. Keep. Harald88 22:17, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
To the contrary. We aim to offer high-quality, uncensored information. This is a value in itself. That this is contrary to the philosophy of "authoritarian governments" is an unnecessary conjecture. If it is so, much the better. But spelling it out is counterproductive. We push for free knowledge. No compromise. Let the world see how it copes with that. Support. --Stephan Schulz 00:07, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Yep. Walk the talk; Eat one's own dog food, etc. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 00:23, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Harald88, I agree that there is nothing against NPOV in mentioning a fact that, as you seem to suggest, is verifiable. Jossi might be wrong when he says that it is [only] a conjecture. However, for many this kind of facts, especially their application to Wikipedia, appear as a conjecture. Therefore, I agree with Stephan Schulz that it is counterproductive to refer to this kind of facts here. -Lumière 01:24, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Harald88: But the current wording does not leave people open to form their own value judgments about Totalitarian governments, dogmatism/dogmatic institutions, and liberation. It suggests (asserts) that they should be against the former two and for the later. Now one might say that my suggested reworking still doesn't allow people to make up their own mind about the issue of making up their own mind, but it is nonsensical to make up your own mind that you should not make up your own mind, so I don't think that is a real issue. --MonkeeSage 04:55, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
That's true. It maybe against NPOV to mention a fact that is verifiable, if this is only one side of the dispute. Harald88 suggests that facts and sources could be provided to identify these governments and institutions, but then it would be against NPOV to mention only one side of the story. OTOH, these "totalitarian governments" and "dogmatic institutions" are not identified in the current wording. Therefore, as it is, it does not really violate NPOV. IMO, the real problem is that, because of this vagueness, the paragraph appears to be based on presumptions and conjectures. -Lumière 06:53, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
How do you mean? There is no "story" and certainly no "dispute", just the undisputed fact that Jimbo's policy is incompatible with that of some other forces in this world - that's noteworthy. People can form their opinion about such entities when reading the corresponding articles; this NPOV matter is related to Jimbo's aims. It can't be held that the aim to make a neutral, uncensored encyclopedia is non-political and "neutral" in itself. If this additional clarification about Jimbo's aims is removed here, it should go some other place (but where?). Harald88 07:50, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Harald88: Is the incompatibility you assert a fact or an opinion? Isn't it possible that such forces arise from groups of people making up their own mind that such forces are good and beneficial and should exist? It seems better to just assert the fact that the NPOV policy promotes personal responsibility in decision making, and leave people to form their own views of the various world forces and their relationships to the policy. --MonkeeSage 08:02, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Anyone who looks at the news knows that for example China has an active policy against uncensored information, which led to changes in Google and questions about it in human right groups. That such forces exist (and not only in governments but also in religions etc.) is factual, and I'm actually surprised that such a well known fact of life is being questioned. Harald88 19:04, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Support - Clearer, less unnecessary presumptions - much better. Bensaccount 22:34, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Support. Sure! Hard to disagree on this one. -Lumière 23:10, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Support but I need to note that I also fully support Harald88's comments. Actually I had posted something along these lines myself yesterday, or so I thought - apparently cybergremlins at work again. I support the change, but not the rationale outlined by the majority. I would be interested to hear Jimbo's view too. Because, and I hate to say this as a rather new editor in such illustrious company, the current majority view outlined above reveals a slight misunderstanding of a basic property of the NPOV policy; a property this exact paragraph tries to convey. My reason for supporting the change is simply to get rid of the appearance it creates: people will think of it as self-congratulatory behavior, applauding a particular POV and putting down others. It is a good example, but it only works for those who already understand it. Harald is right in proposing a replacement. I feel some work needs to be done to better explain this important point. AvB ÷ talk 11:24, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
oppose this further bowdlerisation of the NPOV policy page, while too supportive of the idea that NPOV is synonym to "being less explicit" - the NPOV policy is rather about being *explicit* on anything, keeping explicit viewpoints in balance as explained in the policy. For this, I think it best to formulate the NPOV policy itself sharp as a razor blade. So: siding with Harald on this one. --Francis Schonken 12:47, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
But it is not explicit at all. The current wording is vague. Which are these totalitarian governements? Even if we identify them, why do we believe that they specifically care about Wikipedia? Consider AvB point, and ask yourself if the current wording might appear presumptuous on that regard? Which are these dogmatic institutions? Please identify them, and we will see if being sharp as a razor blade will create the right effect. -Lumière 13:27, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
No need for pejoratives like bowdlerian (I could just as easily throw out "establishmentarianism"). Is libertarianism and the overthrow of totaliarian regimes a fundimental part of the NPOV policy, or simply a (possible) consequence of it? I thought the point of Wikipedia was simply to present a public source of uncensored information! Then what is imprecise about my proposed paragraph? The description of the NPOV policy should not be used to push a POV or political agenda. If the policy ends up supporting a certain POV or agenda by consequence, then so be it – but the reader should not be led by the nose to such conclusions. --MonkeeSage 13:42, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
The possible overturn or sabotage of Wikipedia by disagreeing powers should not be confused with the possible overturn of disagreeing powers by Wikipedia supporters! FYI, there are people in this world who don't appreciate uncensored information and who even (and with some succes) fight it. Note that I don't insist that that point should remain at that place; it may be put in another article (but which article deals with the history and motivation of Wikipedia?). Harald88 19:04, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

I think it would be great if you could do something about "non-bias policy." "Bias" is a noun--the adjective is "biased," but that doesn't fit either, and the phrase as is seems meaningless. Is "non-bias" just a rewording of "neutral point of view"? · rodii · 13:50, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Rodii: I didn't create the expression, it was already in the existing paragraph. But I will say that "non-bias policy" is a noun-phrase, and means the same as "the policy of non-bias," 'non-bias' being the name of the policy; so it seems to be grammatically correct to me. --MonkeeSage 14:49, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
OK, I guess I was overreacting to the increasing use of "bias" to mean "biased" I have been observing, but that doesn't apply here. But... is there a "policy of non-bias," as distinct from WP:NPOV? If NPOV is what's intended, call it that. Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem. · rodii · 15:40, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
You have a point. BTW, I haven't seen the Razor stated accurately in some time! Kudos! --MonkeeSage 16:25, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Oppose When we come right down to it, requiring NPOV is a point of view, one that holds that readers should be trusted to make up their own minds after being presented a representative range of information and views on a subject. That does put Wikipedia in oppostion to any governments or institutions that try to control what people think by controlling what they read and hear, and I think we should say that explicitly. – Donald Albury(Talk) 14:20, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

That readers should be trusted to make up their own minds is a different issue than whether certain governments or institutions stop people from doing that. The essence of the policy, as I understand it, is to promote the free flow of information. If it happens that this contradicts the policies of a given goverment or institute, people should be allowed to make that call for themselves. Some may believe that governments and institutions which others think stiffle the free flow of information, do not, and in their case they may choose to think of them differently than others of us. We should allow them that opportunity. --MonkeeSage 14:49, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
I want to juxtapose two sentences:
"the presentation of many competing theories on a wide variety of subjects suggests that we, the creators of Wikipedia, trust readers' competence to form their own opinions themselves."
and from the antepenultimate paragraph:
"To avoid endless edit wars, we can agree to present each of the significant views fairly, and not assert any one of them as correct."
In the strict sense of the word, a theory is the product of a process that aspires to scientific standards. If two or more theories exist to address the same subject matter and they disagree, this must be because there are unsatisfactory elements in each theory. Put another way, if one theory actually offers a comprehensive explanation accepted by the majority in that field of expertise, it can only have achieved that eminence by successfully critiquing all the other theories and exposing their deficiencies. Neutrality is only achieved by identifying the respective strengths and weaknesses of each competing theory fairly. Indeed, stating that there is a theory which posits P and not identifying the problems in the methodology or the application of particular methods is, in itself, POV. Readers can only form opinions if they are presented with all the relevant evidence. Thus, either or both sentences should be modified to reflect the fact that this policy is not so much aimed at theories, but rather at unscientific opinions which are not capable of being verified in the same way as theories. David91 14:36, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
I think it would be better to say "accounts of" rather than "theories on"--less semantic baggage that way. · rodii · 15:40, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Hmm... David's analysis is idealistic, and a bit faulty: it is quite common to have competing theories, none of them necessarily "unsatisfactory". Until it has been shown that one is faulty, the two co-exist, but often (for non-scientific reasons), one is more popular. The same happens in technology (famous example where a similar economic idealism didn't work: Betamax vs. VHS).
Also, I agree that neutrality is only achieved by identifying the respective strengths and weaknesses of each competing theory fairly. That scientific point of view is very close to NPOV policy, except that with NPOV policy the more popular view is allowed more space.
Thus in Wikipedia it's considered fair to give more attention to the more popular view, even if it's wrong (simply to avoid the burden of original research). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Harald88 (talkcontribs)

I see more clearly why I support a change. The problem is that the current wording suggests the naive view that there are totalitarian governments and dogmatic institutions in one side and "good" (democratic?) governements and neutral (atheist?) institutions on the other side. My POV is that every governement, institution and community has its share of totalitarism and dogmatism, even the Wikipedia community. I think the policy is there to protect Wikipedia against totalitarism and dogmatism everywhere (including inside us), not against specific governments and institutions. -Lumière 17:14, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

To me it doesn't suggest anything about "good" or "bad", nor does it give any judgment about democracies. How would you reformulate it to avoid such a misunderstanding? Harald88 19:04, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

The idea that the democratic countries are the good ones was just an example. Even the idea that Wikipedia is a completely neutral institution in opposition to a completely dogmatic institution is naive. Every institution has its share of dogmatism and totalitarism. These enemies do not only exist outside of us. This is due to the nature of human beings. Obviously, dogmatism and totalitarism inside the Wikipedia community is also a problem. If we don't acknowledge that, we are most likely a little more on the dogmatic and totalitarism side than we think. Here is a proposed wording

There is another reason to commit ourselves to this policy. Namely, when it is clear to readers that we do not expect them to adopt any particular opinion, this leaves them free to make up their minds for themselves, thus encouraging intellectual independence. Our neutral point of view policy is opposed to totalitarism and dogmatism everywhere, in any government, organisation or community: the presentation of many competing theories on a wide variety of subjects suggests that we, the creators of Wikipedia, trust readers' competence to form their own opinions themselves. Texts that present multiple viewpoints fairly, without demanding that the reader accept any one of them, are liberating. Neutrality subverts dogmatism, and nearly everyone working on Wikipedia can agree this is a good thing.

The emphasis indicates that it is the modified part. However, english is not my mother tongue, so a better wording is certainly possible. BTW, I still strongly believe that we must better understand how the NPOV policy, especially the Undue weight section, works in practice to help us achieve this fight against totalitarism and dogmatism everywhere, especially amongst groups of wikipedian editors that work on specific articles. -Lumière 20:52, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

To keep things simple, I am still supporting the proposed wording of MonkeeSage. The above proposal was only a reply to Harald88. If others want to do something with it, fine. -Lumière 21:01, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Will change it on 3/20/2006 with 7:3 support currently. I'm pushing back the date so that Jimbo / other Wikipedia seniority can weigh in if they want to. --MonkeeSage 14:49, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

"please make sure that changes you make to this policy reflect consensus before you make them" - since when is 7:3 "consensus"? However, I think that we can reach consensus on this. Harald88 23:15, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
I think 4 days is awfully short for a poll, if that is what this is (as is implied by your counting of 'votes'). If you rush this, others who come late to the discussion may feel that a 'true consensus' was not reached. I think a wider consensus can be reached by allowing more discussion. I, for one, think we can get rid of 'totalitarian', and say something like 'governments and institutions often try to influence or control the availability of information in order to affect public opinion of themselves and/or of others. The mission of Wikipedia to provide a neutral point of view on all subjects may conflict with the aims and actions of governments and other institutions.' – Donald Albury(Talk) 23:46, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Good idea - sounds good to me! support for that. Harald88 09:57, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
Okay. I don't have a problem with waiting. How long do you suggest we wait? --MonkeeSage 09:26, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

For those who disagree, I have three questions:

  1. Is the alleged fact that totalitarian governments and dogmatism/dogmatic institutions are contrary to the NPOV policy, an essential part of the motivation for the policy itself? In other words, is the reason for the policy to preserve the free flow of information here on Wikipedia – or to try to change the world? I think it is the former.
  2. If by consequence, the policy could change the world (or how people view it), do we need to point out this possibility? I mean, isn't another possible consequence that terrorists will gain information that helps them carry out their work? Would you say that we should include that possible consequence as well? If not, then doesn't it show bias to state what one feels are "good" consequences and leave out the "bad"? Wouldn't it be better to just state the motive of personal responsibility and let people come to their own conclusions about the possible consequences, whether positive or negative?
  3. What is meant by the very generalized terms "totalitarian" and "dogmatic" – and do they cover every government or institution that might be characterized that way? For example, would most members of the Roman Catholic Church (and I use a hostile example to illustrate the point, myself being a Reformed Protestant!) agree that their "dogmatic institution" is contrary to the NPOV policy, or that their own "dogmatism" prevents them from following the policy? And whatever their beliefs may be, in keeping with the reasoning behind the policy, shouldn't they be allowed to come to their own conclusions without having them handed to them by us?

Those are my masin concerns about the current wording. I don't really care if it's my revision or another than is adopted, I just hope whatever is used meets these criteria/questions. --MonkeeSage 09:27, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

(1,2) I already pointed out that MonkeeSage read it the wrong way round; and (3) as indicated above, I support the proposed improved phrasing by David that neatly avoids such misunderstanding as well as possible overgeneralisation or hurt feelings by people who regard their favourite institution as being dogmatic or totalitarian. Harald88 09:57, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
I don't think I've got the wrong end of the stick, but for the sake of argument, let's say I do. In that case you should not be averse to something like this:
There is a reason not to commit ourselves to this policy. Radical liberation groups and terrorists everywhere might find reason to utilize Wikipedia, if we succeed in adhering to our non-bias policy: the presentation of many competing theories on a wide variety of subjects suggests that we, the creators of Wikipedia, hope that readers will not stand for any form of intellectual oppression. Texts that present multiple viewpoints fairly, without demanding that the reader accept any one of them, allow for the dissemination of dangerous information without any qualifications. Freedom of information can provide a catalyst for violent acts of radical social liberation and terrorism, and nearly everyone working on Wikipedia can agree this is a bad thing.
I somehow think you would be against it, though (as would I, for the same reasons stated above). I don't think you could be accused of 'reading it the wrong way round' if you thought this was POV pushing or agendizing, but I've basically only reworked the paragraph to include some possible negative consequences of the policy (at least negative in my POV). The reader doesn't need to be told about the possible consequences of the policy, good or bad, or its perceived relationship to some group or other; all they need to know is that the policy is aimed to promote the free flow of information here on Wikipedia, and they can draw their own conclusions about everything else. --MonkeeSage 10:47, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
You are right that I don't favour adding such a statement, but not for the reason you think - obviously because you still have it the wrong way round: it's irrelevant for Wikipedia if radical liberation groups want to use it, as that won't harm Wikipedia (even not indirectly: all the information is already available anyway). What is relevant for Wikipdia and its editors is what could harm Wikipedia. However, if you want to add remarks about "good" or "bad" of Wikipedia's NPOV policy, that's an entirely different matter, and not yet taken care of in your proposal. On that point, it may be argued that the text is, also with your proposed changes, non-neutral. But it should be easy to change that into a more neutral phrasing. Harald88 14:33, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
But to say I have it backwards is to imply that the policy is to protect Wikipedia from impositions on the free flow of information, which is just the negative form of saying that the policy is meant to provide for the free flow of information: but the current wording doesn't seem to be aimed at protecting Wikipedia, it seems to be harpooning external organizations which are perceived by some editors to be at odds with the policy. In any case, as I said above, I don't care what form of the paragraph is adopted, so long as it doesn't appear to be a political/social statement about what the policy may lead to. I think it is best to keep the description of the motive for the policy within the context of Wikipedia itself and let the readers come to their own conclusions about the relationships of external entities to the policy. --MonkeeSage 15:16, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
No, that remark is certainly not about the purpose of the policy, but about possible reactions to (and against) the policy. And we seem to be heading for a consensus on ways to improve it.
Nevertheless, I feel that you have led us astray: as some have pointed out in the recent past, Wikipedia's policies are not to be applied on wikipdia policies themselves. This is simple to understand: the policies are a kind of political statements, and definitely POV (mostly Jimbo's). It's also easy to see: It should also easy to see: if the notability and NOR requirements were applied on such policies, they would have had to be deleted! Instead, the policies themselves are not encyclopedic content, eventhough encyclopedia articles may be written about such policies, after they have become famous. In fact the subject of Wikipedia NPOV may be worth an encyclopdia article by now, to whcih of course the policies muct be applied. But these insider user manuals are definitely not meant to be "encyclopedic", and may actually be very POV (thus non-neutral), even "soapbox"! Harald88 20:58, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
I agree that the policies themselves are not NPOV, that was not how I have framed the issue. I have requested that the description of the policies adhere to the policies. That is a completely different issue. And it is easy to describe the NPOV policy in accordance with said policy. Further, the current description has nothing to do with describing the policy, except in the very loose sense of naming possible consequences of the policy outside of Wikipedia. I do not see why we should state anything further about the motivation behind the policy than that it is aimed to guarentee the free flow of information here on Wikipedia. Why do we have to speculate about what might or might not happen in the world because of the policy, or how some group might or might not be related to the policy? --MonkeeSage 04:11, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
I disagree that the description of the policies inside the policies is a completely different issue from the policies. Editors who disagree with the aims of Wikipedia risk ending up frustrating themselves, creating edit wars, making overwork for administrators, and being banned. I guess that such people better stay away from Wikipedia altogether; it is a misunderstanding that the text should be "neutral" about that. This is not an encyclopedia article! A clarifying phrase in the policy about that may be helpful: Just as there is no suggestion that these policies intend to reflect NOR and Notability, likewise there should also be no suggestion that these policies are meant to reflect NPOV. They are definitely Wikipedia POV.
My suggested improvement of the last paragraph, also taking into acount MonkeeSage's and Donald's suggestions (putting back the political statement, and correcting the last sentence that didn't really "go"):

There is another reason to commit ourselves to this policy. Namely, when it is clear to readers that we do not expect them to adopt any particular opinion, this leaves them free to make up their own minds, allowing for intellectual independence. We, the creators of Wikipedia, trust readers' competence to form their own opinions. The mission of Wikipedia to provide a "neutral point of view" on all subjects conflicts with the aims and actions of a variety of governments, institutions and individuals who try to influence or control information in order to affect the public opinion. As a consequence, there have been and will be actions that go contrary to our NPOV policy. If we succeed in imposing this policy to present multiple viewpoints fairly without demanding that the reader accept any one of them, this will liberate us from attempts to control our opinions. We trust that those working on Wikipedia will agree that this is a good thing. Harald88 10:57, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

I can live with that, though I'm still of the opinion that the KISS principle regarding the description of the policies – especially their motives – is the best way to avoid unnecessarily offending editors (and possibly provoking them to intentionally break the policies because they feel they are being unfairly targeted by them – as if the policies are there to "get them" rather than validly serve Wikipedia). Of course, that's just my POV. --MonkeeSage 11:26, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
I agree with MonkeeSage that bringing forward the good aspects of free flow of information and ignoring its possible negative aspects make us look a little bit biased. It looks as if we believe that we have found the ultimate solution to the problems of the world, when in fact an encyclopedia is just a tool that can be bad or good depending on who uses it.
Here I present a related issue with the new wording proposed by Donald Albury. It is an improvement to avoid words such as "totalitarian" and "dogmatic" to qualify some unspecified governments and institutions. This opposition between totalitarian Vs non totalitarian governments and between dogmatic Vs non dogmatic institutions was really not necessary. However, there is still an even more problematic opposition in the proposed wording, an opposition between Wikipedia and the rest of the world in the sentence "The mission of Wikipedia to provide a neutral point of view on all subjects may conflict with the aims and actions of governments and other institutions." (The emphasis is to point out what I mean.) Isn't it a little bit presumptuous to put Wikipedia in such a position? Isn't the policy also there because editors inside Wikipedia naturally have their own bias? As suggested by MonkeeSage, Wikipedia is a tool that can be used in different ways by everyone. If we consider Wikipedia as a tool, the best we can do is to improve the tool so that it cannot too easily be used to harm, but can easily be useful. Is the purpose of this opposition to avoid looking at our real status as a tool while we focus on the evil outside world? -Lumière 12:10, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
Simple improvement: add "some" in front of "governments and other institutions"(I already poined out twice that this is factual and aimed at protecting the aims of Wikipedia). Note that inversely, this can't affect representation of the views of what may be seen as "dogmatic" institutions, as fair weight is not based on "authority" but on popularity. Harald88 14:33, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
I thought about using some, but it seems to me that almost all (that's to allow for the possibility that there actually exists a counter-example) governments and institutions are concerned about how the public perceives them, and try to either put a positive image of themselves in the public's mind, or (less commonly) to hide their existance or their activities from the public. This may range from relatively benign public relations efforts to full-blown censorship and indoctrination. Even Wikipedia is concerned about its public image. There is a continuum, and any division into free and totalitarian requires a decision on where to draw the line. Of course, to anyone who disagrees with where the line is drawn, it is an arbitrary line. As Wikipedia is striving for NPOV, it can easily end up goring everyone's oxen. – Donald Albury(Talk) 14:50, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
"many" is OK, not? But there is a confusion about Wikipedia being NPOV, see my other remarks. In oparticular, NPOV policy is not NPOV, and an alternative POV is applied in a competing open source encyclopdia that has a sympathetic POV policy instead (what's its name again?!). Harald88 21:13, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
I was just trying to make the point that 'totalitarian' and 'oppresive' governments and institutions are not the only ones trying to shape the flow of information, and that Wikipedia may well run afoul of such efforts. As for NPOV in the NPOV policy, I saw your comments on Wiki policies not necessarily applying to Wiki policies, and agree. – Donald Albury(Talk) 23:16, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
Harald88, I guess my problem is that I see a difference between the aims of Wikipedia and what it really is as a tool. I have no problem that we explain the aims of Wikipedia, but not in a way that ignores how editors and readers can actually use it as a tool. The current wording does much more than only explaining the aims. It says that Wikipedia is an obstacle for governments and other organisations that might attempt to present biased information. This univocally states that the goal is achieved. How do we know that? It is reasonable to say that Wikipedia contributes to free information, but this is not enough to claim that it is an obstacle to these governments and organisations. Not all information passes and some information that passes can be misleading. It may actually help them. Consider the facts that Wikipedia must address challenges that come from its internal editors. These editors might be biased because they are members of these organisations or work for gorvernments, but also simply because it is the nature of human beings to be sometimes irrational when they evaluate different views. In fact, the aim of Wikipedia should be to be an obstacle to any misleading information or to any suppression of information, irrespectively of whether it comes from a government, an organization or just a group of editors. -Lumière 15:59, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
Does it state that the goal is achieved?! I didn't notice that, and indeed it should not say so. But that free information flow is an obstacle to those who want to prevent free information flow is undebatable (and not the purpose of that remark anyway).
The point that I (too optimistally) had the illusion of having fully been clarified by David was that there is a danger for Wikipedia from certain powers, and it's good to be aware of that. That particular aim is not to be an obstacle, but to remain unharmed in the face of possible counter actions; awareness of which policies may cause possibly damaging counter actions can therefore be beneficial.
Apart of that, Lumiere reminds me of the fact that some other kind of powers have a different tactic of biasing information: as example, the USA has (officially, it had) implemanted a policy of spreading large scale misinformation, in order to overwhelm correct information. I suspect that they applied that already a few years ago when the misinformation about the president of Venezuela's demission (when he was kidnapped) was spread by all the western newsmedia that I know, and followed by no apology from anyone. Thus both censorship (did you read todays news about Belarus?) and misinformation are anti-NPOV tools that are currently in use.
Thus Lumiere touched another subject (probably we should start it as one below). Policy that deals with such threats is currently lacking; it seems to me that the current NPOV policy is fair game for those disinformation strategies... Harald88 20:58, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
"Neutrality" or "independence" – obliquely, Lumière points to the solution to this somewhat politicised debate. He refers to Wiki as a tool. In the right hands, a tool has social utility in making or building something of benefit. In the wrong hands, a tool can be a weapon that destroys what has been made or built. It seems to me that neutrality is an end in itself. How the information may or may not be used is not for us to prejudge. All that we should strive to do is to become the best source of information we can become. Seeking to identify other motives is not constructive and actually introduces a particular POV into the process of constructing the tool, i.e that we build something that can be used to attack social institutions that we disapprove of. There are a lot of assumptions in this stance that would have to be very carefuuly justified before it could ever become acceptable. David91 16:13, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
I agree. Well said. --MonkeeSage 04:11, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
Support-I think Totalitarian and Dogmatic are violations of NPOV in and of themselves. The re-wording, while it might not be perfect, is a vast improvement. --Kahlfin 21:28, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

Okay, I've been letting the topic marinate for a few days, and only one more vote has been presented. We're at 8:3 in favor on change currently. Do we need a formal poll before the paragraph is changed, or what? As I said above, I'm not pushing for my version as the best, but I (and apparently others) do think that some change is needed. Let's get this wrapped up, one way or another. --MonkeeSage 21:45, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

Where is the 8:3 vote for change? To me it appears that we reached a consensus on the article's singling out of "Totalitarian" and "Dogmatic": it is better to replace it with a less specific phrasing (see my suggestion here above). Harald88 21:58, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
I count 8 support (not counting my own of course) and 3 object. As I said, I'm OK with your version, though I still think it's overkill. I just want to get the issue resolved. So do we need a formal poll, or do we go with your version (and how many people support it?)...or what? --MonkeeSage 22:06, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Possible that some have overlooked my compromise proposal above which is conservative and took into account several suggestions:
There is another reason to commit ourselves to this policy. Namely, when it is clear to readers that we do not expect them to adopt any particular opinion, this leaves them free to make up their own minds, allowing for intellectual independence. We, the creators of Wikipedia, trust readers' competence to form their own opinions. The mission of Wikipedia to provide a "neutral point of view" on all subjects conflicts with the aims and actions of a variety of governments, institutions and individuals who try to influence or control information in order to affect the public opinion. As a consequence, there have been and will be actions that go contrary to our NPOV policy. If we succeed in imposing this policy to present multiple viewpoints fairly without demanding that the reader accept any one of them, this will liberate us from attempts to control our opinions. We trust that those working on Wikipedia will agree that this is a good thing.
And perhaps a little more tweaking: IMO the phrase "We, the creators of Wikipedia, trust readers' competence to form their own opinions" can be left out, as its essence is already contained in the preceeding sentence (and it's less pompous without it).
Instead of voting, consensus implies to have (almost) no objections. Let's wait one or two more days for possible objections; and if none, then just go ahead! Harald88 22:52, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Sounds good to me. :) I agree about the redundant sentence. --MonkeeSage 23:13, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm weakly opposed to removing the phrase "We, the creators of Wikipedia, trust readers' competence to form their own opinions". When re-reading the policy (& doing some copyediting) I noticed that the phrase serves a purpose here when read by newbies. It enlists them and creates "ownership" (of the encyclopedia, not a specific article). It's definitely pompous but I think I've remedied that by using the word editor instead of creator. The repeat emphasizes that "we" want and need the reader to decide. AvB ÷ talk 08:06, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Few days later

Alright, I updated the paragraph to Harald's version, with minor copyedits: removed "in order to affect the public opinion" because the policy would also be opposed to those who try to control information in because they find it offensive and so on; qualified the "liberate us" sentence with "here" since the success of enforcing the policy here is not a guarentee that we will be liberated anywhere else. The final result is:

There is another reason to commit ourselves to this policy. Namely, when it is clear to readers that we do not expect them to adopt any particular opinion, this leaves them free to make up their own minds, allowing for intellectual independence. We, the editors of Wikipedia, trust readers' competence to form their own opinions. The mission of Wikipedia to provide a "neutral point of view" on all subjects conflicts with the aims and actions of a variety of governments, institutions and individuals who try to influence or control information. As a consequence, there have been and will be actions that go contrary to our NPOV policy. If we succeed in imposing this policy to present multiple viewpoints fairly without demanding that the reader accept any one of them, this will liberate us from attempts to control our opinions here. We trust that those working on Wikipedia will agree that this is a good thing.

--MonkeeSage 08:07, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

Still object - I didn't change my "object" to a "support" did I? Sorry for making my comment about the rv in the wrong section, see below. --Francis Schonken 09:12, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

The above isn't nearly the version to which you objected. Probably you overlooked the continuation of this discussion. Please indicate what you find insufficiently sharp about this version. Do you think that it's really necessary to single out Totalitarian governments in this NPOV policy description, and that it becomes insufficiently "sharp" without it? Harald88 09:25, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, was still waiting if anything I might see as an improvement might pop up from this discussion (which it didn't). Anyway, I think:

There is another reason to commit ourselves to this policy. Namely, when it is clear to readers that we do not expect them to adopt any particular opinion, this leaves them free to make up their own minds, allowing for intellectual independence. We, the editors of Wikipedia, trust readers' competence to form their own opinions. The mission of Wikipedia to provide a "neutral point of view" on all subjects conflicts with the aims and actions of a variety of governments, institutions and individuals who try to influence or control information. As a consequence, there have been and will be actions that go contrary to our NPOV policy. If we succeed in imposing this policy to present multiple viewpoints fairly without demanding that the reader accept any one of them, this will liberate us from attempts to control our opinions here. We trust that those working on Wikipedia will agree that this is a good thing.

unecessary verbose, if comparing to the original

There is another reason to commit ourselves to this policy. Namely, when it is clear to readers that we do not expect them to adopt any particular opinion, this leaves them free to make up their minds for themselves, thus encouraging intellectual independence. Totalitarian governments and dogmatic institutions everywhere might find reason to be opposed to Wikipedia, if we succeed in adhering to our non-bias policy: the presentation of many competing theories on a wide variety of subjects suggests that we, the editors of Wikipedia, trust readers' competence to form their own opinions. Texts that present multiple viewpoints fairly, without demanding that the reader accept any one of them, are liberating. Neutrality subverts dogmatism, and nearly everyone working on Wikipedia can agree this is a good thing.

e.g. "[...] conflicts with the aims and actions of a variety of governments, institutions and individuals who try to influence or control information." is a more convoluted phrasing than necessary (and than it was in the older version).

Instead of sharp the alterate text is also more blunt, e.g. talking about "imposing a policy" is more dogmatic than anything found in the other version of the text (which talks about "adhering to", and thus avoids to contradict itself on point of not being dogmatic)...

In sum, I see no improvement, only a slightly less adequate formulation. --Francis Schonken 12:59, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

What about this proposal.

There is another reason to commit ourselves to this policy. Namely, when it is clear to readers that we do not expect them to adopt any particular opinion, this leaves them free to make up their own minds, allowing for intellectual independence. Governments, institutions and individuals everywhere may have the tendency to influence or control information. Because every one may become an editor of Wikipedia, this tendency may also prevail within Wikipedia. If, despite this tendency, we succeed as a community in adhering to this policy to present multiple viewpoints fairly without demanding that the reader accept any one of them, this will suggest that we, the editors of Wikipedia, trust readers' competence to form their own opinions. Texts that present multiple viewpoints fairly, without demanding that the reader accept any one of them, are liberating. Neutrality subverts dogmatism bigotry and fanaticism, and nearly everyone working on Wikipedia can agree this is a good thing.

It does not say that we must succeed in "imposing the policy". I believe the phrases are as simple as in the original version. It respects the main idea of the original version, which is that (beside the fact that the policy is necessary to avoid endless edit warring) it achieves an objective that is valid in itself: the removal of a dogmatic and totalitarian attitude in the Wikipedia community as a whole. This version also solves the main problem with the original version, which was the naive and presumptuous view that the enemy of this objective are some specific, but unspecified, totalitarian and dogmatic organisations outside Wikipedia. Instead, it acknowkedges the obvious fact that the enemy is a tendency that may exist within us (because we are open to people from the whole world and all organisations). -Lumière 17:29, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

My problem with the current wording is that it lambasts three particular objects: Totalitarianism, Dogmatic Institutions and Dogmatism. But Totalitarianism, in theory, is not opposed to the policy (in fact, the imposition of the policy is a form of "Totalitarianism"). Dogmatic Institutions, in theory, are not opposed to the policy (in fact, Wikipedia is a Dogamtic Institution, with its Dogmas being the three policies). And Dogmatism, in theory, is not opposed to the policy (in fact, many Wikipedians hold to the three policies with a sufficent level of moral/intellectual conviction to be considered Dogmatic). Lumière's proposal is better than the current wording, but still targets Dogmatism. Harald's is better because it leaves the readers to decide for themselves what is incompatible with the policy. Mine is best (imo) because it focuses solely on personal responsibility and intellectual freedom, and leaves the reader to decide everything else. But like I said, I'm not dogmatic (no pun intended) about what version we adopt. I am dogmatic that we stop targeting particular groups and levels of conviciton with this paragraph. --MonkeeSage 09:43, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

The author of the original version must have assumed that dogmatism and totalitarism were by definition negative concepts. Certainly, this was my interpretation of the original version. However, I checked and realized that dogmatism is not at all a negative concept in a religious context. Similarly, totalitarism is not considered a negative concept by all scholars. Therefore, the problem was just the meaning that the author of the original version must have attributed to these terms. Now that I understand that these terms have a neutral definition in dictionaries, I agree with MonkeeSage that we should not attribute a negative connotation to "dogmatism" or "totalitarism". I replaced "dogmatism" with "bigotry and fanaticism", which are by definition negative concepts. When we consider that bigotry and fanaticism are bad things, we are not pushing any opinion because they are bad things by definition. -Lumière 12:41, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

About the author responsible for this language: it sounds like Jimbo, but the first time I saw it published (here), it came from the pen of LWS. At any rate, it's old... AvB ÷ talk 13:26, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
I find "this tendency may also prevail within Wikipedia" much weaker than "reason to be opposed to Wikipedia". In fact it's a different thing altogether: the original implies a warning for "bad faith" edits, while the proposed replacement warns for wrong "good faith" edits. Harald88 14:21, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Do you prefer this more direct version:

There is another reason to commit ourselves to this policy. Namely, when it is clear to readers that we do not expect them to adopt any particular opinion, this leaves them free to make up their own minds, allowing for intellectual independence. Governments, institutions and individuals everywhere try to influence or control information to promote their own viewpoint and related agenda. Because every one may become an editor of Wikipedia, these viewpoints are also pushed within Wikipedia. If we succeed as a community in adhering to this policy to present multiple viewpoints fairly without demanding that the reader accept any one of them, this will suggest that we, the editors of Wikipedia, trust readers' competence to form their own opinions. Texts that present multiple viewpoints fairly, without demanding that the reader accept any one of them, are liberating. Neutrality subverts bigotry and fanaticism, and nearly everyone working on Wikipedia can agree this is a good thing.

This version is more sharp. I also fee that each sentence follows naturally the previous sentence, more than in previous versions. However, the main point, for me, is that we do not adopt a naive view where the "evil" is localised in some specific but unspecified totalitarian and dogmatic governments and organisations outside Wikipedia. -Lumière 17:17, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

On the POV use of category tags

JA: I am relatively new here but I have recently noticed a phenomenon that I think deserves careful exanination by the WP community as a whole, with respect WP:NPOV and potential end-runs therearound. Suppoose that somebody creates a category called "Lame Opinions" (LO) and forthwith commences to make his or her way through WP tagging every article that he or she feels to fall under that category. I have noticed some examples that border on this absurdity already. What are the appropriate procedures for addressing these types of situations? Can one place "citation needed" tags on category tags? The mind toggles. Jon Awbrey 15:42, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

No need to think the wikipedia community didn't already give some examination to the point you mention, here are some ideas to get you started:
In general (summarizing some of the "categorization of people" guideline here), "citation needed" tags don't work in combination with categorization; the idea is to write a strict category definition on the category page (trying to get rid of borderline cases), and check the articles included in that category against these criteria – OF COURSE the article should assert any questionable fact by external sources, if that is not the case the {{fact}} template can be applied in the article, and the (by this fact) questionable categorisation removed from the article. Further, the category should indicate a real and significant characteristic of the article where it shows at the bottom: you may find, for instance, either religion or atheism (or both) a "Lame Opinion". Nonetheless, people who were prominent adherents of a religion or of atheism or whatever, can be categorised accordingly. --Francis Schonken 16:19, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

JA: Thank you for the ample information. Jon Awbrey 17:22, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

You can also read WP:LIVING ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 17:24, 20 March 2006 (UTC)


Is a month of protection long enough? Let's unprotect the page; I don't think we can yet justify that this page is such a problem that that it merits permanent protection under protection policy. BigBlueFish 17:49, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. Unprotected. JesseW, the juggling janitor 18:11, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
Can anyone even justify protecting the page in the first place? Bensaccount 00:11, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
You were edit warring; unacceptable for any article, much less Wikipedia's cornerstone policy. · Katefan0(scribble)/poll 01:50, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
Really? Where? Why didn't you say so when you protected it? Bensaccount 02:21, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
See the history of the page. I'll back Katefan0 up on this; the edit warring was going on, now AFAIK, it's not. This is better. Please don't bring up old issues. JesseW, the juggling janitor 06:26, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
It is not an old issue. It is still going on right now. It has taken the form of a suppression of opinions. There is still a war between those who see that the current Wikipedia system works perfectly to express their view and want to keep it that way and others who see that the neutral point of view policy is not working. Any intelligent person can understand this mechanism. Suppression of opinions in such a context is a very bad idea. -Lumière 10:11, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
I think the protection was undertaken simply for the pleasure of exercising control over other people. There was neither a real edit war nor a stated reason for protection. Where is the accountability? Bensaccount 16:19, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
If you think it was wrong, feel free to report it at WP:AN/I for review; otherwise, let's get on with building an encyclopedia. · Katefan0(scribble)/poll 16:46, 23 March 2006 (UTC)


I winder if other editors could have a look at Kairouan and give their opinion. The article described the city as holy, and I changed the summary to read that the city was regarded as holy by Muslims. Another editor reverted me, insisting that to call the city holy isn't POV. I don't really see how it isn't, but perhaps I'm wrong. I'd be grateful for comments. --Phronima 17:04, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

There are many places of religious significance like Kairouan dotted around the world. It is in the nature of worship to invest places, objects, or individuals with the quality of "holiness" and, if such beliefs are sincerely held, I believe they should be respected. For example, Vatican City is the sovereign territory of the "Holy See", Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar is the most sacred gurdwara in all of Sikhism, etc. To state that a place or fetish is holy or sacred, is neutrally to recognise that belief. To place any form of caveat or commentary on the statement of belief is necessarily to imply that others who either have a different set of beliefs or no beliefs would consider the attribution of holiness to be unjustified. Because it is self-evident that only those within that belief system are likely to hold that belief, actually stating the obvious could be interpreted as an attack upon that first belief system's values. David91 17:51, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
This could be a problem. For example, look at the debate about "AD/BC" vs "CE/BCE". Of course, neither system means you do (or don't) believe that "Jesus is Christ," but people on both sides perceive it that way. I say don't call anything "holy" unless you attribute it, because it is not an undisputed "fact," is is an "opinion" held by a specific group and should not be asserted except in the context of the group making the claim. --MonkeeSage 21:53, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Ps. However, the qualification/attribution should be done respectfully, of course! --MonkeeSage 21:57, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Surely a statement that a particular group believe that "X" is holy simply states the fact of what they believe. "Manchester United fans worship their team". But "real fans treat their sport as a religion" may imply that they are extreme as against fair-weather fans or those who have no interest in their sport. David91 02:53, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

The vilifying of POV

I believe that the policy about NPOV does not vilify POV: it only stresses that no POV take control of an article to the exclusion of any others. Some editors level accusations of POV when it should be remembered that POV is not bad. It is only NonNeutralPointOfView (NNPOV) that is bad. I think that there should be something written into this policy statement that disclaims any reprehensibility of POV. POV is not bad as long as it is balanced with all others, and that is my POV. drboisclair 18:01, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

I think lots of others feel this way. Really, a more accurate descriptor is the word biased. I try to use that word myself rather than "POV." · Katefan0(scribble)/poll 18:35, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Vilify is an interesting choice of word when making the point that no one POV should ever be considered better than any other POV. If we assume good will on the part of all editors, then all should be prepared to compromise on the admission of alternative POVs even though each of those POVs may provide a detailed critique of each of the other relevant POVs. After all, if we do not agree, we should both have the right to say why we disagree and to give detailed reasons (properly verified, of course). A neutral arbiter (the reader of this page) may then take a view on who has the better of the debate. The inclusion of multiple and balanced POVs empowers the reader. So, I think we are in complete agreement except that I think that is what the policy page actually says. David91 18:40, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

I used the word "vilify" to denote what some other editors do by saying another is POV or that that other's contributions are POV. Everyone's contributions are POV in a sense. POV in itself is not bad while some bandy it about as bad. I support the policy of NPOV, but I think that there should be some kind of statement in the policy that says: "The policy of WP is NPOV, but this should not be understood to imply that any POV is bad or undesirable in and of itself. NPOV insures that all POVs are represented as far as possible." Perhaps by just posting this here gets the point across. BTW, even if anyone says that POV is bad that in itself is a POV! Cordially, drboisclair 15:56, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Our policy is to report all notable POVs while taking care not to adopt any of them. I wouldn't use the word "vilify" – what I'd say is that some Wikipedians ignore the first part of the policy. It's OK for a Wikipedia article to, for example, quote an opinion expressed by a prominent columnist, naming the columnist and providing a citation for the source of the quotation, yet some people seem to think that's an impermissible POV and should be removed. JamesMLane t c 16:48, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Of course, you mean an impermissible bias. On second thought, a POV that would demand the exclusion of any other or certain other POVs would be an impermissible POV. Under the policy of NPOV all POVs can be represented. What is impermissible is non-NeutralPointOfView, and NPOV does not mean NoPointOfView. This statement could be made a part of the policy:
"The Neutral Point Of View (NPOV) policy by its nature does not make any value judgments concerning any point of view (POV) nor is any POV undesirable or impermissible as long as it does not render an article or entry as presenting a non-neutral point of view (NNPOV). A violation of this policy is not POV but NNPOV." drboisclair 20:40, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

An article shouldn't be a debate, leaving the reader to arbitrate; it should be an encyclopædia article. Debate is for the Talk page. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 17:22, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

To clarify my entry in this section since we seem to be at cross purposes: I mostly write technical material on the humanities. Many of theories and issues are hotly debated but always for cause. Thus, the editors who work on these pages always set out all the relevant theories and cite authorities for each POV. For example, governments may seek to rely on selective empirical evidence for their policies on [insert subject matter]. Opponents therefore cite the alternative empirical evidence and propose amendments to the policies or different policies. A law case may have profound effects on how citizens relate to each other but cited academics believe the case wrongly decided because. . . . The only place for these debates is on the article page if the editor wishes to apply NPOV standards because simply citing the policy or law case without qualification would be partisan and grossly misleading. Further, since there is rarely a "right" answer, the reader is always left with having to make an informed decision. I have no idea what you guys are talking about because you have chosen not to give examples but, whatever it is, it seems to be unverifiable and, as such, an uniformed reader such as I might think it should be restricted to the talk pages as unverifiable debate on opinion. David91 03:36, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
What I am talking about is the use of the term "PointOfView" as an accusation and as something that is bad when what is bad is a nonNeutralPointOfView. The way some interpret the WP:NPOV is that a POV is something bad and undesirable. Editors should not be considered to be villains if they have a POV. They might be considered wrong if they are NNPOV.drboisclair 06:05, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

What I (and many other editors, I believe) object to are attempts to impose a particular POV on an article. I think that is what is being 'vilified'. – Donald Albury(Talk) 20:28, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Political Bias

I was reverted for adding "policy" between party and candidate. I think it's rather obvious that being in favor of a political policy or advocating a political policy is a NPOV violation. But I was reverted by an anon IP.
Orig: Political bias, including bias in favor of or against a particular political party or candidate.
New: Political bias, including bias in favor of or against a particular political party, policy or candidate.

Comments? --Tbeatty 08:10, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

I think the addition may be seen by some as superfluous, but it's obviously withing the spirit of the NPOV policy in general and the statement "Political bias, including..." in specific. A reversion is uncalled for I think, particularly with an edit summary that levels an accusation of "rewriting NPOV policy to win a content dispute". – Saxifrage 10:49, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

First para of Reasoning behind NPOV section

Is this generalization valid? It states that people automatically change into rabid zealots when discussing a subject where they hold a strong personal view. I think people in the "modern" world tend to accept and live with differing views and are no longer out to burn others at the stake. Nevertheless, Wikipedia has its share of those who not only write about their personal view but also exaggerate its importance/merits/etc, or try to distort or suppress other views. The paragraph should not posit this as a general property of all humankind, but specifically address this type of editor. First attempt (changes in bold):

Wikipedia is a general encyclopedia, which means it is a representation of human knowledge at some level of generality. But human beings often disagree about specific cases; for any topic on which there are competing views, each view represents a different idea of what the truth is, and insofar as that view contradicts other views, its staunchest adherents believe that the other views are false and therefore not knowledge. Where there is disagreement about what is true, there's disagreement about what constitutes knowledge. What do we do when editors with a specific view are not open-minded enough to accept the validity of other views? Wikipedia works because it's a collaborative effort; but, while collaborating, how can we solve the problem of endless "edit wars" in which one person asserts that p, whereupon the next person changes the text so that it asserts not-p?

Your input is most welcome. AvB ÷ talk 10:36, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Sounds like a good, useful clarification. – Saxifrage 10:50, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Hmmm...I think I understand what you're aiming for, but does your proposed revision even make sense? I mean, isn't it a psychological fact that insofar as one has a view on a subject at all (i.e., so far as they think one view is any more probable than another) – whether it is a "staunch" conviction, or just held as slightly more probable than alternatives – then don't they hold other views false? Now I understand what you mean, if you're saying that there are levels of conviction regarding the truth of your views/falsity of other views, and at one level the conviction can be so strong that you don't even like some of the other views to be presented (e.g., Jewish feelings toward Holocaust-deniers) – but, just as a psychological fact, it seems like to hold any view at all as more probably true than any other, means rejecting all others as false with some level of conviction (whether it is a minute or extreme level). Also, I think that it impies one is "closed-minded" if they don't consider other views as being valid – but that goes to the same issue; if you think other views are valid, then why do you even hold your view? Is it not because you have concluded that other views are (at least) less valid? Again, I think I understand you if you mean that some don't accept that other views have a right to be presented here on Wikipedia, but that is a little bit different than the (implied) statement that all views are valid and only closed-minded people think different! I would support a change, but I think it needs a bit more work. I hope I don't sound overly critical – I'm not trying to nitpick. --MonkeeSage 13:26, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
I don't think you sound critical at all. I appreciate any input but the more precise, the easier it is for others to take on board. And I knew I wasn't making myself as clear as I wanted, whereas your response is quite clear to me. Your example is useful, I'll expand on it.
It is entirely possible for open-minded Jews to accept that David Irving truly believes there was no Holocaust. It is also possible for them to think he full well knows the Holocaust has happened but denies it due to a hidden agenda. I posit that the open-minded view is usually the majority view (although the Holocaust example may well be an exception). Another example from one of Wikipedia's more controversial subjects, abortion: The pro-lifers who accuse those who use or perform abortion of being murderers are (at least in Europe) a tiny minority. A large majority knows that people would not choose abortion if they thought it was murder. So even though pro-lifers will usually find abortion repugnant, they will not automatically accuse others of murder, let alone buy a gun and take revenge on behalf of what they see as unborn children. This is precisely the attitude promoted here in the NPOV policy. My point is that we should not assume everyone belongs to a group's overheated, vocal, extremist minority, but also realize the group may well have many relatively reasonable/open-minded members who can live with the differences. Granted, I may be mistaken about the relative size of a groups's open-minded/etc. subsets - which at any rate will vary depending on the POV in question. But the existence of more moderate adherents should not be denied. Another example (don't know the answer): How many followers of Islam actually condone or support the actions of those "the West" views as terrorists? OK, having mentioned a couple of extremely black and white cases, where the Truth is, indeed, claimed by both sides, it follows from there that there are intermediary stages, e.g. where people think they're right but are open to arguments that may at least theoretically make them change their mind. Please consider this: People who hold a view may be anywhere in the triangle of (1) realizing they may not have all the facts necessary to truly decide (2) believing or "knowing" they have all the facts (3) thinking the others do NOT have all the facts. Cf. "Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
As to your point about the right to be, erm, described in Wikipedia - I really think all views are equally valid, but my proposal is not intended to change anything about undue weight. That would be a different issue. This is just about the supposed negative effects of seemingly ignoring the fact that there are open-minded editors around.
Anyway - I've tried to make my proposed reflect your "criticism" (which in my mind translates as "help" - then again, I just chastised another editor who failed to make that distinction and I'm already close to convincing myself I was once again expecting too much from my fellow editors... and wrong in saying he should have made the distinction without my prodding.) How about the following:
Wikipedia is a general encyclopedia, which means it is a representation of human knowledge at some level of generality. But human beings often disagree about specific cases; for any topic on which there are competing views, each view represents a different idea of what the truth is, and insofar as that view contradicts other views, some of its adherents believe that the other views are false and therefore not knowledge. Where there is disagreement about what is true, there's disagreement about what constitutes knowledge. What do we do when editors with a specific view are not prepared to allow variant views in the encyclopedia? Wikipedia works because it's a collaborative effort; but, while collaborating, how can we solve the problem of endless "edit wars" in which one person asserts that p, whereupon the next person changes the text so that it asserts not-p?
AvB ÷ talk 01:20, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
AvB, the current wording does not say that an adherent to a view judges negatively the adherents to other views. Evaluating a view and evaluating the adherents to this view are two different things. The current wording only says that an adherent to a view believes that opposing views are false. No judgement of the adherents to other views is implied here. The first paragraph should remain this way. The issue that you mention is an additional one. We could add some sentences about it at the end of the next paragraph because it is a necessary ingredient to the solution that this second paragraph proposes. We could add something like:
"We should not consider that we are collaborating with bad people when we expose opposite views in a neutral way. The adherents to opposite views may actually be right. If we believe they are not right, we should consider that all or some of them may act in good faith. In all cases, we should just report their view without attaching ourselve to it."
The last sentence is just the "write for the enemy" rule. -Lumière 03:06, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

AvB: I thought that might be what you were getting at. I have no real problem with your second revision. I would still note that even in the cases you mentioned about the three possible views on any given issue, that each of them still takes at least a tenative view of the truth and falsity of the given positions, regardless of what motives are thought to lead to those views. I think Lumière also has a point about the distinction between evaluating views and evaluating the people who hold those views. --MonkeeSage 06:10, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Lumière, the examples went further than my original reasoning, into the area where judgment comes into play. However, I was not arguing that the wording (i.e. the first part of the paragraph) says anything about judgment. LWS probably intended (and definitely succeeded) to paint the bleakest possible picture of the problem, to contrast with the upcoming solution which is going to save the day. The problem is caused by the p/-p example in the context of right/false. It creates the strong impression that editwarring will automatically follow when two editors with mutually exclusive personal POVs start editing the same item. I feel it needs a qualifier to indicate we don't view such behavior as the norm for newbies. Without a qualifier the paragraph radiates the belief that all newly arriving Wikipedians are inherently unable to overcome the so very human "I'm right/they're wrong" problem by themselves.
Interestingly, while your proposal does not solve my problem, it does solve a different one. I fully support your proposal which seems a real improvement to me.
  • Your solution tries to remedy a problem with the way the solution is stated. (Isn't there a pun in there somewhere?)
  • My solution tries to remedy my problem with the way the problem is stated. AvB ÷ talk 08:41, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
MonkeeSage - Yes, that sums it up rather neatly. The sentiment expressed in this paragraph looked incongruous, just a notch too black and white. The net effect of this - admittedly minor - edit should be that readers can recognize themselves a little bit better in what's being said here. I am unsure about my proposal, because it is based on my personal view of what makes people tick - I know full well I'm not always right in that department. The lack of support seems to indicate it does not come across as a true improvement so far to most. Do you have something in mind that would change your "having no real problem" to support? AvB ÷ talk 08:41, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Acutally, in thinking about it, I don't really have any problem with your second proposal. I'm a bit of an armchair philosopher, perched snugly in my Laz-y-boy, and one of my areas of interest is human psychology, especially the psychology of belief, so I was just being a bit of a stick in the mud. I think that your second proposal is just fine the way it is. :) --MonkeeSage 09:13, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
<grin> Thanks. I'll wait & see. AvB ÷ talk 09:37, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
AvB, I realize that I did not understand what you meant. You are right that we should not assume that there will always be edit warring every time that there exist opposite views. I am just not sure we have found the best way to say it. My view is that the first part of the first paragraph only says that the existence of opposite views is a very frequent fact of life and that an adhrerent to a view will always consider that opposite views are false. The purpose is to make it obvious that we should be prepared to allow views in the encyclopedia even when we think that they are false. Thefore, IMO, we should not weaken that first part. I would keep the often that you added since it is more accurate, but not the some of its adherents. The problem in the current wording is that it may suggest to some that the first part implies the second part: that difference of opinions always implies edit warring. Your sentence What do we do when editors with a specific view are not prepared to allow variant views in the encyclopedia? is helpful to address this problem. I would even be more explicit, and replace it with: Disagreements of this kind are to be expected. What do we do when editors with a specific view cannot agree to disagree with opposite views in the encyclopedia? The contrast between the first part and the second part is good. The first part says that disagreements around a topic occur all the times, and we cannot change it. The second part asks what do we do when editors do not agree to disagree. -Lumière 14:05, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

MonkeeSage, sorry to say, but I don't think your update to the policy page a good idea. Too verbose, less adequate: it is more dogmatic, e.g. the old version had:

[...] institutions everywhere might [...]

...the new version converts this in a "fact" (which I think less adequate):

[...] conflicts with the aims and actions of a variety of governments, institutions

(so, less nuance, despite being more verbose)

So I'm going to revert, needs more discussion: I don't consider this proposed change "accepted" yet. --Francis Schonken 08:15, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

Francis reverted by mistake an older proposed change that by now we may assume has been agreed upon more than a week ago... I'll revert and provide a pointer. Harald88 08:45, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

Should the Abortion example be replaced?

The Wikipedia:Neutral_point_of_view#An_example section still contains an example given by LWS in 2001: the abortion article. As a recent editor of the article, I think its current incarnation is not an NPOV showcase as intended by LWS. The version he referred to was created prior to December 2001. And even if we would replace the Abortion link with one to the Dec 2001 version (which for obvious reasons I do not recommend) the example would still lack power since the process intended to be showcased is no longer available. There is no edit history from that period; all we can see is the resulting version. AvB ÷ talk 11:13, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

I suppose I think the primary concern should be to make the abortion article conform to the NPOV policy again. Removing/replacing the example before that article is OK again would downgrade the NPOV policy IMHO, as if NPOV would be unworkable for the abortion article. Once that article is OK again, permalinks can be made to the "problematic" situation and "application of NPOV policy" situation, from the "examples" section in the NPOV guideline. Until then, I'd keep the example exactly as it is now: it explains what was done in the past to apply NPOV to that article, ergo: what should be done now to make the abortion article OK again. --Francis Schonken 11:54, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Contradiction between no POV forks and undue weight?

One section more or less forbids POV forks. The next seems to favor POV forks regarding "views that are held by a tiny minority." The current language is not all that clear about which NPOV variants are allowed. Some options I've seen used in article space:

  1. One common text. (Often uses politically correct language, euphemisms, spin, etc. in order to make adherents of all POVs equally (un)happy about the result.)
  2. Majority POV first, followed by separate sections for the minority views and/or sections dedicated to criticism of one POV on one or more others.
  3. Majority POV only, with links to other articles that discuss the minority POVs.

(As you can see I am not a big fan of the #1 option in cases where language is being tortured to accomodate out-of-sync POVs.) Are there contradictions or vague language here? Or is it just me being a newbie? If so, for the benefit of the newbies of this world, I would love to be referred to a couple of examples (good ones, to be added to this policy page).

PS One thing about separate articles on minority POVs is that they tend to be hogged by majority POV representatives who snow under the article's real info by adding lots of criticisms citing undue weight - the very policy component that allows such POV forks to be used. Thanks. AvB ÷ talk 11:23, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Maybe have look at wikipedia:criticism, recently revived as a proposal by Hyacinth, which attempts to tackle that apparent contradiction (note that this internal contradiction also appears in Wikipedia:Words to avoid#Article structures which can imply a view)
What I propose is that we work out the framework in the criticism guideline proposal (in order to have a central place for discussion); once we have agreement there, I suppose updating the NPOV policy and the Words to avoid guideline accordingly would be the easier part. --Francis Schonken 11:43, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the links. Following this up. Thanks, AvB ÷ talk 12:52, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Does this question not relate to the Undue weight section being distorted? Bensaccount 18:52, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Certainly, the question is related to the Undue weight section. I don't know exactly what you mean by "distorted", but I am interested to hear about any possible improvement in the light of this question. -Lumière 19:34, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

I think the problem arises because there are two different kinds of article, with slightly different rules:

  1. General comparative articles, in which certain points of view are more prominent than others, in which case we give more weight (ie. more prominence) to the more popular view(s).
  2. Specific articles detailing a specific point of view, regardless of whether it is a majority or minority point of view, in which case the subject of the article is given more weight than other views.

So I see no contradiction. --Iantresman 20:35, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

Pov categories for regions

I find random tagging of provinces of countries with a proposed nation category to be a breach of NPOV. Here is my rationale:

Tagging based on claims (territorial disputes).
  • We do not tag Paris, France with Category:Germany just because German Neo Nazis claim the french are invading their territory. I fact any admin I suggested such a what if said he/she/it would block me for a WP:POINT violation if I were to tag Paris with Category:Germany.
  • If we were to tag everything based on existing as well as past claims we would have several pages of categories. At a point Romans claimed and actualy owned the city of Rome. We do not tag it accordingly for perhaps obvious reasons.
  • I am not arguing about territorial disputes between two counties (defacto or not)
Tagging by treating such claims as cultural regions (which are generaly contraversial as well as being proposed countries)
  • I dont see anyone tagging New York being a part of North America or Category:African American inhabited region. An article on census can explain weather or not African Americans live in new York and elsewhere, weather they are a minority or a majority, as well as other data.
  • If we are to tag based on ethnicity we will have to tag for every ethnicity. Which would be a very long list for New York alone.
  • Often such categories are used to draw the borders of this 'cultural region'. Any cultural region can't have artificial borders which are political and exist solely to be pov forks.

--Cool CatTalk|@ 18:14, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Should this page say that you shouldn't use opinions as categories? I would think this is common sense. Bensaccount 18:41, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Indeed. --Cool CatTalk|@ 16:32, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
I tend to agree with Bensaccount, but if I remember well, somewhere it was decided by some people that an exception was made for categories so as not to be subject to the NPOV rule - for example "pseudoscience" which has a grey zone to which that tag is added anyway, for practical reasons. Thus a decision to overturn that decision won't be without consequences, and a practical alternative should be provided: how to make simple and straightforward NPOV categorizations? Is that possible? Harald88 22:24, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Notability (essay)

Notability guidelines

Other active proposals and essays

More (subject-specific) ...
See also: Notability verification

See Wikipedia:NPOV tutorial#Categorisation – categories are not "exempt" of NPOV, but as the NPOV tutorial indicates it works slightly different from how it works for articles in article namespace (basic assumption is that one can't continue to amass categories/categorization ad infinitum to "balance" an article over different categorisation POV's).

I also added the {{IncGuide}} notability navigational template here. I'd specifically recommend to have a look at Wikipedia:Categorization/Gender, race and sexuality which gives a sort of framework for how it works for "sensitive" categories. --Francis Schonken 11:29, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

OK how about this would anyone object if I tagged France with category:Germany (The belief is that there is a frech occupation)? Or Canada with Category:States of the United States (the belief is its the 51st state).
If thats wrong isnt tagging Turkey under Category:Kurdistan equaly wrong?
--Cool CatTalk|@ 17:45, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
If you realize that your tag might be disputed, try and find some factual category which is undisputed instead. Ie: Category:Places allegedly belonging to Germany. Bensaccount 20:07, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
I find that a bit too long. If I remember well, the proposal to make category names like "theories alleged to be pseudoscience" instead of just "pseudoscience" as too awkward or cumbersome. Perhaps that discussion should be reopened? I can think of "Allegedly pseudoscience", which isn't longer than two categories "science" and "pseudoscience" together. But I can't come up with such a shorter state category name. Harald88 20:51, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Category:Allegedly Germany? Bensaccount 21:37, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm not endorsing this proposal or anything, but I do feel the urge to correct the grammar: it should be Category:Alleged German territories or something like, to keep it a plural noun as all categories should be. – Saxifrage 23:17, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
I find tagging of france ("alleged" or not) under germany disruptive. Next thing is Category:alleged territories Al-quida claims and we tag every state in the US (I just came up with that btw I am sure I can find lots of weird groups with territorial claims). Categories are not ment to be used like this. I gave the german example as an obviously inaproporate category to emphacise inaproporateness of other similar categories. --Cool CatTalk|@ 12:34, 1 April 2006 (UTC)
Is this an attempt to set aside the desicion reached during the debate about the nomination for deletion of Category:Kurdistan? Or is it an attack on Category: Basque and Category: Taiwan?? Bertilvidet 13:03, 1 April 2006 (UTC)
This is a discussion of WP:NPOV. Anything else mentioned is not my concern. --Cool CatTalk|@ 21:05, 1 April 2006 (UTC)
Can you explain why you think fact-based tags are disruptive? Wikipedia is not paper. Bensaccount 22:42, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

NPOV Tag and other Similar Tags - and quality issues.

You know, I've just realized how many articles on Wikipedia have the NPOV or other similar tags (unverified claims tag, accuracy dispute tag, etc., etc.) slapped on them; maybe almost half of the articles I visit have a tag which disputes the accuracy or "trustworthiness" of the article. It's not a bad thing to let people know about these problems in articles, and I'm in favor of tags; but something really needs to be done about the quality or standard of an article. When about half of the articles on Wikipedia have tags warning about their "truthiness" or quality (probably more, considering there are a lot of articles which have not been tagged and need to be; or are just not paid attention to), something needs to be done. I really am not sure what to do; maybe have a seperate article which explains why Wikipedia should not be your own and only source of information; or hell, why many schools or colleges prefer a student not use Wikipedia as a source AT ALL. Or, maybe you could start a project or some kind of event which promotes a higher standard of quality in Wikipedia articles; particularly in regards to the accuracy or neutrallity of them – and maybe even stop promoting beginning writers to be bold, maybe in regards to articles which have few editors (and thus, fewer people to correct or look out for mistakes) because I don't think that's really helping – this could be shown by having some kind of gauge or bar or rating score for the popularity of an article (and the status of popularity; thus, the number of people who will correct mistakes/accuracy faults) will affect how "bold" one beginning article writer is allowed to be. I don't know. I'm just throwing ideas out there. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

24 should be aware that the main difference between Wikipedia and other secondary sources is that such tags can be placed on the articles themselves - one should not have the illusion that other soures are necesarily more reliable or even honestly acknowledging differing points of view!
Nevertheless, some less "striking" tag options might be useful - to have big NPOV tags above every article or section in which there is a dispute about a minor matter is probably not smart. Harald88 13:54, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Undue weight and prominent adherents

The section on Undue weight suggests that "If a viewpoint is held by a significant minority, then it should be easy to name prominent adherents". How do we assess "prominent", and does this require clarification?

For example, there are many subjects whose views are such, that I can't name any "prominent adherents", though I accept that there are people "into a subject" who could do so quite easily, and probably verify it. It seems that it is more difficult with scientific subjects, where there is also much specialisation. Take a subject such as Galaxy formation; Can we name the top 3 "prominent adherents"? What about something more specialised such as the Galaxy rotation problem? --Iantresman 20:58, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

To me it obviously is in need of some clarification. The hard part is trying to reason with those people who think the current wording is beyond improvement. Are these people ready discuss the matter yet? Bensaccount 18:41, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
I totally share Bensaccount's view here. Iantresman, you asked the best question. IMO, this is one of the obscure aspects of the No undue weight section. IMO, we should have a criteria that consider prominent adherents, but is also satisfied if the view is published in a peer-reviewed journal. Excluding a view that is published in a peer-reviewed journal from an article because we cannot find prominent adherents makes no sense. If a view has no prominent adherent and is not published in a peer-reviewed journal, then perhaps it makes sense that we exclude it, but this approach might still be too exclusionistic. At the least, it is an improvement over the current situation that says that we can exclude any view that has no prominent adherent, even if it is published in a peer-reviewwed journal. The point is that we should definitively have a discussion on this issue.
Me and Bensaccount we tried, but we were in disagreement on the general framework of the policy. In my opinion, the WP policy for inclusion is defined by a list of inclusion criteria that must be all individually satisfied before we can include a view. These inclusion criteria include verifiability, free from copyright, etc. It is sufficient and necessary that there is a consensus that one of these criteria is violated to justify the exclusion. Therefore, the violation of any of these criteria must be a reasonable justification for exclusion. In my opinion, one of the criteria should require that the view has prominent adherents or that it is published in a peer-reviewed journal or <maybe something else here>. This criteria should try to capture the notion that the view is notable, though notable might not be the right word here ---we also have a problem of terminology. -Lumière 20:12, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
To sum up my position, I agree that violation of criteria such as verifiability and copyrights must be a reasonable justification for exclusion, but disagreed that meeting these criteria warrants inclusion. There are other reasons for exclusion such as being completely irrelevant or vastly unpopular. Bensaccount 20:49, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
What you fail to understand, Lumière, is that the prominent adherents sentence is not a hard and fast rule but a rule of thumb. Rules of thumb don't need to be codified and the fact that there is a rule of thumb in the policy pages does not imply that we need a rule for this. It is not a criteria in any sense of the word, and so your insistence on "clarifying" the criteria is... well, missing the point. – Saxifrage 22:08, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
If you don't feel the need to clarify or improve the policy in anyway, there is no need to discuss this further. If you feel there is a need to improve or clarify the policy at any level (with the notion of rules of thumb, etc.), I want to know more about it. You will have to explain to me in which way your suggestions help to address practical problems. -Lumière 04:10, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
Do you know what a rule of thumb is? My suggestion is that your problem with the policy as written (as opposed to Iantresman's problem, which is not the same as yours and it is disingenuous of you to appropriate Iantresman's question for your own ends) stems from an inability to take the rules of thumb as examples of how to apply the policy and extrapolate from them to a specific situation. Your unending crusade to set down every conceivable condition in explicit words is misguided to say the least. Doing so would only feed the wikilawyers and provide no new guidance to those who have a firm grasp of the policy already. – Saxifrage 04:35, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
Just forget about me. Do you have anything useful to say about the policy? In particular, please do provide your answer to Iantresman since you know so well what he asks for. I believe that in general editors would like to have a policy that is clear and well understood so that it can easily be applied. They also want a fair policy, of course. -Lumière 05:11, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
Iantresman, the short answer to your question is that a consensus of editors working on a particular article is used to determine whether an adherent to a particular view is prominent or not. The long answer is that the test of being able to name a "prominent" adherent of a minority view is only a rule of thumb, and so is only really meant as an aid to understanding what the NPOV policy considers to be a "minority view". It's not meant to be a definitive rule for what views should and should not be included, though editors may find it incidentally useful in considering a particular view.
For example, the view that the sky is blue does not have any prominent adherents, but this is an obviously inappropriate measure of whether it is a minority view or not and whether it should be included. Similarly, in the case of galaxy formation, its significance as a view is ensured by its high acceptance within the astrophysicist community and the general population's acceptance of the astrophysicist community's authority on the subject. More specialised views can be evaluated for significance in similar ways. – Saxifrage 06:00, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
Bensaccount, I agree with your last point. The purpose of the discussion, if we can finally have one, is to clarify what exactly are these other criteria. Our apparent disagreement might have been due to a misunderstanding. Given that we define an inclusion criteria so that its violation is in itself a reasonable justification for exclusion, I assume that you agree that, if this single inclusion criteria is violated (and there is a consensus about it), we should exclude the view. My suggestion was to define all inclusion criteria within this framework. For example, if a lack of popularity is not by itself a reasonable justification for exclusion, then this factor, popularity, should not be considered alone as one of the inclusion criteria. It should be considered together with other factors to build an inclusion criteria. For example, this inclusion criteria, which have no name for now, may be popularity or published in a peer-reviewed journal. If a view is popular or if it is published in a peer-reviewed journal, this inclusion criteria is satisfied. The important is that it must be defined in such a way that, if it is violated, the view should be excluded. -Lumière 21:28, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

I think that section might be more about WP:NOR than anything (remember, the policies are supposed to be integrated). I took it as saying that if a minority view is worth including in an encyclopedia, you should be able to find at least one person of some repute to whom you can attribute it. In crude paraphrase, "don't put your uncle Joe's view, which nobody else in the world has ever heard of, in an article, on the grounds that it is a 'minority' view: if uncle Joe's view is noteworthy then you'll be able to find at least one one person of note who espouses it." That was how I read it anyhow. --MonkeeSage 08:02, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

I think that the following are important aspects for assessing the criteria for "prominent adherencents":
  • Verifiability, thus reducing subjective assessments.
  • Not neccessarily equating popularity with importance; just because there are a billion Chinese communists, does not necessarily mean that Communism is more significant than a couple of million British Liberal democrats.
  • I think that a combination of the following may go towards assessing "prominence": (a) published references (eg. using the NASA ADS, and other online references), (b) Google tests (c) Book references. Perhaps some kind of scoring system would be a fair guide? --Iantresman 08:28, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
I would strongly oppose a formal scoring system. See my answer to the initial question above. – Saxifrage 09:23, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
The problem with a rule of thumb, is that it does not work. If two editor stand their ground, then whether to include an item is based on the guideline of consensus, and not on the formal policy of "NPOV significance". I have instances of where I have provided DOZENS of citations to an item (ie. verified in spades), and been told that even including a "See also" link would is undue weight. Give people an inch, and they'll take a mile.
Consensus should NEVER take priority over "NPOV signifance"; ask the adherents of any subject whether to include "unfavourable" material, and it will be voted down every time. --Iantresman 09:59, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
But consensus is what determines what is NPOV and what is significant. How else, as a community of peers, are we to determine these things? If you are finding yourself deadlocked with a few obstinate editors, there are many ways of resolving the dispute, usually involving getting a larger number of editors' opinions. – Saxifrage 10:18, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
In some circles that principle is known as "mob warfare". It assumes that a sufficiently large number of people will show an overwhelming preference. This is a fallacy. In many cases, all that adding more people will do, especially with vaguely and subjectively defined policies, will get more people embroiled in a growing dispute, until it is being fought on so many fronts that WP:DR can't even handle it. - Keith D. Tyler (AMA) 16:44, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
I think there are clear-cut breaches of NPOV. And as the NPOV introduction proclaims, NPOV is "absolute and non-negotiable" no matter what the consensus. Of course there are issues which may be ambiguous, for example where verication is not explicit. But where you have DOZENS of citations, there comes a point whereby veracity and significance are beyond reasonable doubt. --Iantresman 13:26, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
Of course, but when encountering a clear-cut breach of NPOV, either two things happen: the breacher(s) agree that it is a violation of NPOV and consent to change, or they are obstinate and oppose change. I imagine that this second case is what you are talking about above. In the second case, consensus is still the tool to get past, by bringing in more editors who will come to a consensus that the breach is NPOV and that the editor(s) in question are breaching NPOV.
Simply put, a "clearer" policy is not going to make dealing with POV warriors any easier or make RfCs obsolete. – Saxifrage 17:35, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I'm talking about the last example, and no, I don't think it works. Editors can still override policy, and that is the problem. (1) The policy it too ill-defined. (2) I really can't see what the problem is, in being more specific; what is the objection? --Iantresman 20:08, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
Agreed: in practice this vague apparent exception to NPOV inside NPOV is a stumbling block for easy arriving at a consensus. I've even seen that clause being abused as alibi to delete links to other related but "insignificant" Wikipedia articles - quite the contrary to what I expect of a good encyclopedia. Harald88 21:07, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
Saxifrage, I believe that your concern is not that we lose the principle of consensus, but that we lose the ability to adapt the policy to specific situations. I take it as a valid warning, which we should take into account. However, I believe that we can still make the policy clearer and improve it without losing the ability to adapt it to specific situations. You cannot decide in advance whether or not it is possible to do that. Instead, you should work with us and make sure that we do not lose the necessary flexibility of the policy while we make it clearer. -Lumière 00:48, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
No, you are incorrect about my concern. I am not concerned about loss of flexibility, but rather I am concerned that adding "rules" about how to apply NPOV will weaken the policy without adding any real benefit. See Meta:Avoid instruction creep. – Saxifrage 04:25, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
Whatever is your concern, you cannot decide in advance what will be the outcome of the discussion. -Lumière 04:55, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
I don't need to have stared into the sun to know in advance what will happen. Your dismissal of a reasoned concern is disappointing. Go ahead then, and I'll rejoin when you have a concrete proposal to make. – Saxifrage 06:42, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
We do not want to dismiss your concern. On the contrary, we would be happy that you explain it in a logical way in view of concrete suggestions that will come up. However, if you think that there is no problem in practice with the No Undue weight policy, no need for improvements, then maybe this is what should be discussed right now. If we do not agree that there is a need for improvements, there is no chance that we will agree on any possible proposal for improvement. -Lumière 15:35, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

I think that the Undue weight section would benefit from adding the following quote from Jimbo Wales (who may decide policies [1]), and go some way towards identifying articles (and information) that are significant/important:

"Consider an obscure scientific concept, 'Qubit Field Theory' – 24 hits on google. I'd say that not more than a few thousand people in the world have heard of it, and not more than a few dozen understand it. (I certainly don't.) It is not famous and it is arguably not important, but I think that no one would serious question that it is valid material for an encyclopedia. What is it that makes this encyclopedic? It is that it is information which is verifiable and which can be easily presented in an NPOV fashion. (Jimbo Wales, Jan 2004) [2]"

From which can we summarise any of the following:

  • A simple Google test with modest results can be sufficient criteria for an article on Wikipedia. I note that these include links to the preprint service, and a number of pages that are not just personal pages.
  • If a subject/concept has additional peer reviewed references (eg. in The NASA ADS abstract service), this must further increase the validity of the information.
  • What we can't infer from this quote, is whether an item is of sufficient importance for including in another article

--Iantresman 08:25, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Sounds good to me. --MonkeeSage 18:13, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
Yes, it seems interesting. It is only a suggestion, but I think it would be useful that you give in this alpha version page the new version of the No undue weight section that you suggest. -Lumière 04:01, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

Wow, I see the efforts of the same editor, User:Lumiere/User:Étincelle/User:-Lumière, to water-down the Undue Weight section of the policy continues unabated. What has it been now, four months? And still despite the abject absence of interest or support from the community. I give you an E for effort, but also an O for obstinance.

Given the clear interest by a number of editors for this subject that has been acknowledged to be problematic, FM deserves a O+ for obstination! :-) Harald88 21:23, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

Given the history, I wouldn't expect much support for your "alpha version" from the community at large, which has shown zero interest in your previous proposals to rewrite Undue Weight and resistance from those who have bothered to comment.[3] The concern has always been with these proposals is that they loosen constraints on those with POV axes to grind, especially on topics like TM and other forms of pseudoscience. FeloniousMonk 15:46, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

...topics about which Lumiere has had an interest in editing from his earliest days [4]. · Katefan0(scribble)/poll 15:53, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
Welcome back FM, Katefan. Look at the first to paragraphs of this section into which you post. Despite your repeated attempts to suppress discussion, this issue is not going away. Bensaccount 19:05, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
FeloniousMonk, how about something a bit more constructive, such as explaining why the current proposals don't suit the aims suggested. I also don't think that "Undue weight" has anything to do with anybody's points of view, since we can explain any verifiable information (Wiki policy) in a neutral point of view style (Wiki policy) whether it is mainstream science or pseudoscience --Iantresman 19:21, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
Erm...I say this as a "hostile" source (I'm a "fundie" Christian) – what does TM have to do with the topic at hand? Doesn't characterizing an argument by its adherents violate WP:NPA? Who cares what User:-Lumière's POV is? Isn't the whole point of Wikipedia that everybody gets to contribute, regardless of their POV? --MonkeeSage 19:33, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
Lumiere(or whatever his current account name is) has been pushing this same line(the Undue Weight section does't let me get away with what I want to get away with) for a very long time without ever demonstrating particular interest in actually doing work on the encyclopedia, and has caused many editors, myself included, to simply tune em out. It's not the argument that's being characterized, it's anything said by Lumiere - he's a troll, plain and simple.
As for the actual topic at hand, I think most(although not all) of the specific suggestions made above are good guidelines for what prominent adherents means, and I agree with many other contributors that the section does not need to be further specified. JesseW, the juggling janitor 20:33, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
Fair enough. I'm having a "troll" moment myself with an anonymous editor of another page who abjectly refuses to sign his/hers edits on talk pages. --MonkeeSage 20:42, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
The juggling janitor says: It's not the argument that's being characterized, it's anything said by Lumiere - he's a troll, plain and simple. I say I am obviously not a troll, plain and simple. As far as the implicit accusation is concerened, I had only one account at any given time, and I never tried to hide my previous history or anything like that. I had only one account at any given time, I never tried to hide anything, my previous login name was indicated in my user talk page and my previous history was easily available. I just lost my password, so I went from Lumiere to "Etincelle (formerly Lumiere)" and then sometime later I realised that I could get back to "-Lumière", which is almost the original login name. In view of the fact that my previous history was available, what is wrong with that? -Lumière 21:08, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
An accurate, complete edit history, or more correctly, the absence of one. By spreading your contribution history across three accounts it creates a false impression to anyone who doesn't know the other two accounts that you're merely dabbling in policy discussions instead of long-running attempts at rewriting them: [5][6][7]. FeloniousMonk 19:30, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
Lumiere is trying to answer a recurrent question. The Undue weight section is a frequent concern on this page because it is distorted and unclear. Dismissing this concern or blaming it on Lumiere will solve nothing. Bensaccount 22:01, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
Just to clarify: I didn't mean to imply that I agree about Lumière being a "troll," I only meant to say that I understand the fustration that editors can feel regarding other editors. From my own personal interactions with Lumière he/she has been most cordial and reasonable. --MonkeeSage 22:20, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
That is a matter of opinion. Specifically your's and Lumière's. Many others do not share that opinion and feel that the Undue weight section as it is currently worded is sufficient. FeloniousMonk 22:27, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
That's the problem: certain people share one opinion, other people share another. That demonstrates that the policy is ill-defined. --Iantresman 23:25, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

I'm another one who thinks the policy is fine. I don't bother responding to -Lumière/Etincelle/Lumiere because he seems so fond of arguing every little point endlessly. – Donald Albury(Talk) 00:46, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

I will not participate in this discussion for a while. It seems to be a good time to take some rest. In case there is another implicit or explicit accusation, my answer in advance is simply that it is false, plain and simple. -Lumière 01:53, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

So are there any objections to including Jimbo Wales' quote (repeated below), and if not, where is the best place to include it?

"Consider an obscure scientific concept, 'Qubit Field Theory' – 24 hits on google. I'd say that not more than a few thousand people in the world have heard of it, and not more than a few dozen understand it. (I certainly don't.) It is not famous and it is arguably not important, but I think that no one would serious question that it is valid material for an encyclopedia. What is it that makes this encyclopedic? It is that it is information which is verifiable and which can be easily presented in an NPOV fashion. (Jimbo Wales, Jan 2004) [8]"

--Iantresman 12:07, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

Writing articles like Qubit Field Theory in wikipedia is not only fine, it's encouraged. However, insisting that every page that is related to this article include an explanation or a link in the see also section to Qubit Field Theory is a violation of the undue weight section (and is one of the reasons we have an undue weight policy). Should the pages on observable, quantum mechanics, commutator, etc. all have links to this obscure proposal? Most certainly not – that's why we have an undue weight policy! Let the obscure ideas have their pages, but we should not pollute pages about less obscure subjects with links and tangential explanations regarding obscure alternatives. This conversation is an exact mirror of the discussion happening at Talk:Galaxy rotation problem where User:Iantresman is promoting obscure, alternatives to the standard explanations in order to further an agenda he has stated to make Wikipedia more "fair" to his nonstandard cosmology inclinations. As I see it, the undue weight is meant to thwart the obstinate POV-warriors like Ian from instituting POV-creep throughout the encyclopedia. We have space for them to work on articles about the alternatives, but often the alternatives do not merit mention on other pages even when it is the point-of-view of the alternative minority that they have a "better" explanation. To take an extreme example, we wouldn't tolerate a holocaust denial explanation on every article we have on Nazi concentration camps here on Wikipedia (accordingly, an article about a specific concentration camp need not even mention holocaust denial), but without undue weight as it currently stands, a zealous and obstinate holocaust denier who wanted to could comandeer prose on every page they deemed to be in contradiction with their opinion. --ScienceApologist 13:41, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

Remind me, what's the criteria for exceeding "Undue weight" --Iantresman 14:14, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
Consensus. --ScienceApologist 17:58, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
So according to you all we need to say is "views should not be given undue weight", and we leave the rest to consensus. And yet you insist that we keep the section exactly as is; keep the vague attempt at demarcating views as "minority", "tiny-minority", "popular" and "majority"; keep the abstract "prominent adherent" criteria for demarcating "significant-minority views". Bensaccount 20:33, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
It is important to describe what undue weight means, but the specific criteria for what constitutes different sizes of the minority obviously varies from subject to subject. In particular, some subjects are designed to be encourage and promote the obscure or esoteric in which case every minority view becomes a significant-minority view. Context is important. --ScienceApologist 11:56, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
Consensus is only a guideline. Undue weight is part of NPOV policy that according to the introduction is supposed to be "absolute and non-negotiable". In other words, unaccountable and anonymous people (who may not even be familiar with a subject), get to decide whether peer-reviewed theories, some written by Nobel Prize winning scientists, get a mention in an article. That's not very open, doesn't enable readers to form their own opinions, and doesn't conform to Wiki policy. --Iantresman 21:14, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
In other words, unaccountable and anonymous people (who may not even be familiar with a subject), get to decide whether peer-reviewed theories, some written by Nobel Prize winning scientists, get a mention in an article. --> this statement seems to me to be a change of subject. Is it that your beef is really with the unaccountability and the anonymity of Wikipedia? If instead the Nupedia model were adopted would your objections fall by the wayside? If so, then I suggest you think about whether you support the concept of a wiki itself as this bug you seem to be harping about is considered by most Wikipedians rather to be a feature. --ScienceApologist 11:56, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
About providing links or not to articles that provide greater details and/or minority views, is any Wikipedia guideline available?
Obviously ScienceApologist and I have a very different opinion on that matter, while the subject of links is typically something for which a rule would be at its place - the importance of links can hardly be overstated. As a matter of fact, as it's my main navigation tool inside an encyclopedia, in general I'm 10 to 100 times more annoyed by missing links than by an overwhelming amount of links (links can be grouped anyway). Harald88 21:36, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
I think the disagreement bewteen Harald and myself represents an interesting problem with whether links should be two-stream as Harald often proposes or hierarchical as I propose. What would probably satisfy both of us would be root page medium that would remove the POV-issues associated with how to report (if at all) obscure views about major topics in the articles about the major topics by allowing a simple pointer that didn't clutter an article with tangential or obscure links. Nonstandard cosmology works in some ways as such a page. --ScienceApologist 11:56, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
Interesting proposal, worthy of consideration! For sure, I welcome such practical approaches. Harald88 18:44, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
Consensus is more foundational that NPOV, even if the latter is non-negotiable and absolute. After all, Wikipedia is a wiki and the project's very existence is presumed upon the validity of consensus as the final authority on what is knowledge. Consensus is the only mechanism that a large project like this has to approach the impossible goal of "truth". – Saxifrage 07:01, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
As I read Iantresman his/her concern is that on any given topic, the consensus of editors at any given time can choose to give more weight to a position that is actually minority (in a factually verifiable way), or remove weight (or even refuse mention) from a position that is a significant minority (in a factually verifiable way), and is therefore requesting to make the factual criteria of inclusion/exclusion/wight distribution (more) explicit. Let me give an analogy using another policy: say on some anti-semitic article a bunch of neo-nazis come along and form a "consensus" that they should refer to Jews as "swine" in the article because that is just "true" not an attack – do we really give their consensus the run of the mill to overturn WP:NPA, or do we take consensus as a secondary mechanism that must be constrained to operate within the scope and intent of the policies? In other words, do we let local consensus (re: an article) overturn global consensus (re: the policies)? --MonkeeSage 07:34, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
The goal of Wikipedia not to achieve "truth"; policy helps remind us that "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth."[9]. Consusus helps guide us (a) HOW to apply policy [10], not whether policy is worth following, and indeed, the guidelines tells us that "Consensus should not trump NPOV (or any other official policy)." [11].
So currently we have the situation where it is possible that unaccountable, anonymous and perhaps even untrained people, decide whether readers get to find out about significant minority verifiable peer-reviewed theories, written by Nobel Prize winning, and professional career scientists. Even if the latter are wrong, I want the chance to find out why for myself, not based on the prejudices of an editor who doesn't "like" a theory, and probably hasn't read it either. --Iantresman 07:56, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
Everything has a context and the selection and application of sources, verifiable or otherwise, is an editorial concern that can and does cause disputes. This is why consensus establishes the criteria for undue weight all other things being equal. I'm not saying that one can override other guidelines or principles with consensus, only that ultimately this is the only way we have to decide what is valid for inclusion and what isn't. Sometimes Nobel Prize winning scientists opine on subjects on which they are not qualified. Sometimes these opinions are conceded as worthy of inclusion on the pages about the subject themselves. Sometimes those opinions are obscure enough to warrant inclusion on the scientist's page but not on the page about the subject. This is the essence of undue weight. It is an editorial guideline meant to prevent POV-pushers from hiding behind NPOV in order to further their own slanted agenda and thwart the process of writing an encyclopedia that is actually balanced by claiming that there exists some obscure or argumentative perspective that deserves inclusion simply because it casts the subject in a different light. Wikipedia is not a soapbox for such advocacy, and there will be ample opportunity to report on such ideas on pages devoted to them. Undue weight is simply a statement that explains why it may be appropriate to include information in some places while excluding it from others. --ScienceApologist 11:56, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
ScienceApologist: I understand what you are saying about consensus, and I mainly agree. But here is my hang-up: the current form of the policy seems to imply that there is a factual criteria which governs distribution of weight. The specifics of that criteria are not given in the policy, and neither are the applications. But if the specifics were drawn out, then the applications will be clearer in specific cases, and blatent bias could more easily be checked in all instances in which it should be checked. So we should be as specific as possible, while still leaving the valid applications to the local consensus. My thinking here could be muddled – it wouldn't be the first time! – but that is why I am for including the quote from Jimbo currently. --MonkeeSage 12:50, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
ScienceApologist, you have highlighted the problem with the your interpretation of the policy, that "Sometimes these opinions are conceded as worthy of inclusion on the pages about the subject". But who decides? According to your view, anonymous, unaccountable, and for all we know, untrained inviduals. According to Wiki policy "Readers are left to form their own opinions."[12]. I make no claim about whether an item is truth, I only claim verifiability, and leave the rest to the reader. I wonder which the reader would choose? --Iantresman 13:03, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
The current Undue weight section demarcates majority and minority views using "prominent adherent" criteria. What does this mean? It seems to me, prominent adherents is another way of saying that the view must be attributed, and therefore verifiable. Are we all on the same page here? If not, the policy might not be as clear as you assumed. Bensaccount 15:41, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
It's not saying that at all. It's saying that if you can find a prominent adherent, it's probably a significant view. It says this explicitly, clearly: "If a viewpoint is held by a significant minority, then it should be easy to name prominent adherents" (emphasis mine). That is a really straight-forward implicational statement. I just don't see the problem. – Saxifrage 17:06, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
  • So although we can distinguish a tiny minority view from a significant minority view, because we can name prominent adherents (Undue weight policy)
  • We don't have to mention tiny minority views at all (Undue weight policy)
  • Articles should be representing views fairly (NPOV policy, ""absolute and non-negotiable")
  • But consensus may override policy, and we don't have to even mention significant minority views either if the opinion of unaccountable, anonymous editors says so.
  • --Iantresman 17:35, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
I never said consensus overrides policy. Rather, consensus is an implicit assumption underlying all policy and how it functions. "Unaccountable, anonymous editors" are what makes Wikipedia what it is, and by disparaging this you miss the entire point of this project. Only consensus (which is assumed to be a close approximate of reality) is what keeps the "anonymous" and "unaccountable" parts in check and balanced.
For your other points, yes, approximately. (I still assert that the "prominent adherents" is stated by Jimbo as a rule-of-thumb—obviously he's not covering every condition, as your galaxy formation example shows. I don't think ancient email are meant to be anything but illustrative here.) – Saxifrage 18:17, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
You may assert that Jimbo's comments are a rule of thumb, but (1) There is nothing to suggest that he was providing a rule of thumb, and indeed (2) the NPOV policy introduction states that NPOV is "absolute and non-negotiable" [13] (3) Jimbo could have said that a significant minority view was represented by a single prominent adherent, but instead, he specifies more than one prominent adherents, giving us a clear criteria.
There are SO MANY policy statements that clearly support significant minority views being discussed with majority views, but only one guideline (that of consensus) which enables editors' to "interpret" the Undue weight policy. --Iantresman 20:56, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
You would have to make a pretty interesting argument to extend Jimbo's "absolute and non-negotiable" stance on Wikipedia having a neutral point of view to everything Jimbo has said about the NPOV policy. As for consensus... I'm gonna give up. It's not a guideline either. It's not policy, it's not a guideline... Take it away and there's no Wikipedia. Think about that. Consensus being an absolute and non-negotiable part of Wikipedia doesn't need Jimbo to say it, because the very existence of the project makes it true. – Saxifrage 21:54, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

It seems that there are two distinct issues here: criteria for significant minority, and criteria for inclusion. The former seems to be a policy issue, the latter a guidline issue. Regarding significant minority, we have only one criterion listed: "prominent adherents". But what about popular acknowledgment (e.g., Google count), or hostile majority acknowledgment (e.g., members of a majority view acknowledging the minority view by rebuttal, or similar) – are these included under "prominent", and if so, should we make that explicit; if not, should we add them as valid criteria? Regarding inclusion, we touch on it in different places (e.g., "A solution is that we accept, for the purposes of working on Wikipedia, that "human knowledge" includes all different significant theories on all different topics. So we're committed to the goal of representing human knowledge in that sense."), but perhaps a new guidline would be appropriate to give examples, and to be a bit more specific about when a view is relevant to include and when it is not (assuming significant minority as a baseline)? Just thinking out loud here, I don't mean to push the envelope or anything. --MonkeeSage 04:24, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

Indeed, though both criteria are defined by policy. Regarding inclusion of significant minority views (emphasis mine):
  • An "article should fairly represent all significant viewpoints, in proportion to the prominence of each". [14] (ie. no prominence, no mention).
  • "Articles that compare views ... may not include tiny-minority views at all " [[15]] (this does not include significant minority views)
  • "... editors may unwittingly or deliberately present a subject in an unfair way [.. by ..] Entirely omitting significant citable information in support of a minority view" [16]
There is no ambiguity, and no requirement for interpretation by consensus. Policy tells us that (1) Omitting significant views is unfair, (2) Omitting tiny minority views may be justified (but not significant views)
--Iantresman 09:49, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
Zooming in to what IMO is the hot potato: how to decide if we consider information to be significant enough to include in a certain article or not. But that happens to be what Monkeesage just said... Harald88 16:06, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
How can a hostile majority acknowledgment (e.g., members of a majority view acknowledging the minority view by rebuttal, or similar) exist without an articulation of the minority view itself being presented by a promnient adherent somewhere where it can be cited? Where did the majority view discover the minority view in order to rebut it in the first place?
Do adherents of majority points of view argue in public with silent, invisible or secret adherents of minority points of view for whom there is no prominent adherent?
The google test for this purpose is defective as well since it cannot identify the indicated point of view actually to be the point of view of the source where the hit is located. (Does the flat earth really have as many as 2,200,000 adherents?); the sky is blue merely 750,000?) patsw 17:14, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
The Google test is indeed flawed, but as the article it says, it is just a rule of thumb. So a Google search for flat earth merely tells you that it is mentioned on a certain number of pages, rather than the number of people who advocate the idea. But it can be useful in assessing whether words or phrases are "known". Likewise, a peer-reviwed citation does not prove a theory, nor necessarily support a theory, if a subsquent peer-reviewed papers suggest otherwise. --Iantresman 20:52, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
AFAIK, the google test is generally used to determine if a website is well known, or more generally if a word or phrase is well-known or widely used. It's use to determine the adherents of a view seems rather obviously inappropriate... JesseW, the juggling janitor 00:36, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
Ian - I'm not sure what you mean by "There is no ambiguity". If there is no ambiguity, what are you trying to clarify? It seems that there is ambiguity, due to the policy being general, and specific cases being, well, specific. I don't think that the terms "significant minority" and "prominent adherents" are intended to have technical, defined meanings in the policy; they are intended to refer to their general, common meanings. I don't think there is, or should be, criteria for being a "significant minority" or a "prominent adherent", they are not used as terms of art, they are used as common language. (On another note, I do appreciate Lumiere explaining why he had to change accounts. I had not heard that before, and I would suggest he could get the edits associated with his previous account added to his current one. I think that's technically feasible.) JesseW, the juggling janitor 00:36, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
My previous edits are accessible. Obviously, I am not hidding anything. My change of login name is part of my history here. The whole thing is all open to anyone to see and it will stay like that. I don't want to lose my time with this, but thanks for your kind suggestion. -Lumière 00:47, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

I analysed the above discussions about Undue weight and prominent adherents and I realized that the comments that are about the policy, including those of Saxifrage, etc., are not in opposition one to another. In other words, it should not be difficult to do a synthesis of all these comments into a coherent whole. There is an opposition to a modification of the policy, but when we discuss the policy and how it should be applied we are not in opposition. This is an interesting situation. One may wonder why there is such an oppposition to an actual clarification of the policy, when we are able to discuss coherently how it should be applied in the talk page. This seems like a political issue (i.e., a fight for power or something like that). -Lumière 01:15, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

Removed from article

Reasons for excluding extreme minority views (EMV) EDIT IN PROGRESS

Wikipedia is a general encyclopedia. Articles should not be exhaustive dissertations. Articles packed with EMV waste sorely-needed bandwidth and disk space, reduce usability, decrease Wikipedia's reputation as a source of reliable information, greatly increase the difficulty of maintaining reasonable accuracy. Even a valid view that is an EMV can be extremely difficult or impossible to corroborate from multiple credible sources.

Users will have to wade through loads of junk to find anything useful. If EMV are allowed many articles will become extremely long with little useful information.

The mere presence of an EMV in a main article gives the EMV undue weight and, as a practical matter, grossly distorts the presentation of the article or section. People not familiar with the subject could easily be misled into thinking that the EMV is important even if it is held by only one person, e.g., "Albert Einstein, a clerk in the Swiss Patent Office, recently published a paper on what he calls "special relativity". The paper says, among other things, that space and time are not two distinct things." His idea once was an EMV.

If Wikipedia starts allowing EMV, loads of whackos will start adding their pet EMV's as long as they can find at least one published work they can cite. Under Wikipedia reference requirements, sources do not have to be a print work, a web page, or even easily accessible. Even "newsgroup reference" is allowed.

If articles get packed with EMV the overall useability and maintainability of Wikipedia will be severely diminished.

Advocates of EMV frequently have no regard for NPOV requirements and often tend to become abusive, violate WP civility requirements, engage in edit and reversion wars, engage in vandalism, etc.

This was removed from the policy page as it was a substantive addition that had no prior discussion. FeloniousMonk 00:24, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

It will be a mistake to start discuss reasons to exclude EMV before we agree on how to determine what is an EMV. Beside, I do not think that people disagree about the fact that we should exclude EMV. So, why insisting on it? What is important is to find ways to allow editors to agree on what is an EMV. -Lumière 00:32, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

Like undue weight, the lack of criteria and the vagueness seems to serve as a means to allow users to bypass discussion of reasons for inclusion or exclusion of a view and enforce the removal or inclusion of views based entirely on their personal biases. Bensaccount 01:14, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
Maybe it is not so vague in the mind of, and I quote Saxifrage here, "those who have a firm grasp of the policy already". Maybe what is important for "those who have a firm grasp of the policy already" is to make sure that the POV pushers cannot speak of the policy with the same authority as they do. Therefore, it is safer for "those who have a firm grasp of the policy already" that the policy remains vague as it is. Of course, "those who have a firm grasp of the policy already" are also POV pushers. The difference is that "those who have a firm grasp of the policy already" say that they have the "consensus" on their side, but it is a consensus that excludes so called disruptive editors that do not understand the policy. -Lumière 01:52, 9 April 2006 (UTC)