Wikipedia talk:Neutral point of view/Archive 42

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Commandeering, squatting and sanitizing

Does this article adequately address criticism of wikipedia#Commandeering or Sanitizing Articles issues? IMO it doesn't. What tools, remedies, tactics does an editor use when the consensus on an article is obvious that of POV squatters? Alatari (talk) 10:23, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

No, you won't get much help from this page (or any other policy page) when it comes to actually putting principles into practice against determined opposition. You just have to publicize the problem and hope to bring in enough neutral editors to take an interest and establish a consensus about what the article should say. But even then, you won't be able to enforce that consensus against determined edit warring from the opposition. Basically this is a problem which Wikipedia editors have decided should not be fixed, because Wikipedia should not be allowed to be as good as some people would like it to be.--Kotniski (talk) 10:32, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

So Wikipedia:Canvassing is to be overruled in these cases? Alatari (talk) 10:41, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Asking editors to take an interest isn't canvassing, as long as it's done in a neutral way.--Kotniski (talk) 10:45, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
Glad to see someone else recognizes the problem, but interested to hear it's already been decided not to solve it. Peter jackson (talk) 15:52, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
POV editwarriors are blocked/banned all the time on WP. In my experience, though, 90% of the people that come to a discussion or policy page complaining about POV warriors are themselves a POV warrior (not lumping you in that group). Thus, the community has quickly become deaf to these type complaints. The best way to approach in my opinion is to identify to the editor a specific area of policy that is being violated, and if they do not agree, give a clear, reasoned, and non-passionate explanation of the violation on a noticeboard. If they are not willing to comply with policy, they will be exiting the community in short order.  --Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 15:41, 15 May 2010 (UTC)
Also, WP:CANVAS generally only applies to messages on user talk pages. Asking for help in a general forum such as WP:RSN or WP:NPOVN is not canvassing.  --Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 15:47, 15 May 2010 (UTC)
I asked about this at RSN recently. Did they reach consensus & would that be enforced? Nobody seemed prepared to make such a claim. Peter jackson (talk) 10:53, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
RSN and similar policy/guideline noticeboards are not "enforcement" oriented... they are designed as places to get advice and assistance (Many of those who respond there are simply experienced editors who are not admins, and so have no authority to enforce their opinions). If you need enforcement, the next step is to seek mediation and/or take the issue to the admin noticeboard (WP:ANI). Blueboar (talk) 17:48, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
Which is exactly what I asked them about. I asked whether, in practice, admins would enforce noticeboard consensus. Some said often no. Nobody disagreed. Peter jackson (talk) 09:27, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

RfC: Should the NPOV policy contain two sections devoted to pseudoscience and religion?

Wikipedia talk:Neutral point of view#RfC: Should the NPOV policy contain two sections devoted to pseudoscience and religion?. The NPOV policy currently contains two sections on specific topics: a 534-word section on pseudoscience and a 267-word section on religion. These sections were removed last month as being too specific after an RfC was posted on April 3. [1] The pseudoscience section was moved to WP:FRINGE, [2] and the religion section removed entirely. The sections have now been restored by others on the grounds that consensus was not established, or has changed. Fresh eyes would therefore be appreciated to decide whether to restore or remove the sections. SlimVirgin talk contribs 23:56, 1 May 2010 (UTC)


(no threaded replies in this section, please)

  • Remove both sections. None of the other content policies has sections devoted to specific topics like this. In addition, the pseudoscience section is highly contentious, wordy, and has caused a lot of problems. It is based in part on a 2006 ArbCom ruling, and it's not clear that the ArbCom intended their words to be added directly to a policy; ArbCom does not dictate the wording of content policies, and I don't think would want to. Finally, at over 5,000 words, this policy is a monster and badly needs to be cut back. For comparison's sake, WP:V is around 1,870 words, and WP:NOR 2,330. For all these reasons, I support the pseudoscience section being moved to WP:FRINGE and the religion section being removed entirely, unless someone can think of a good place for it. SlimVirgin talk contribs 23:57, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
  • FRINGE is a guideline. The only problem PSEUDO has caused is for POV pushers of pseudoscience. Why do you want to make it NOT against policy to push pseudoscience as though it were accepted by the scientific community at large? Did you buy stock in a farm selling some herbal cancer cure? KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 00:22, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Agree. It's change of status is already being used to deprecate the content and thus enable fringe and pseudoscience POV pushers and defenders. -- Brangifer (talk) 00:53, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Policy pages should be written so they can be understood by a casual reader. They should be short, simple, to the point, and general rather than specific. I personally would be happiest if no policy page was over 500 words total, but I don't see that happening.--Tznkai (talk) 00:09, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • I'd be happier if it were a lot shorter too. But the way to do that is NOT to remove a core piece of the policy off to a guideline where it has no force. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 00:24, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain in substance; though they could stand some editing. In practice, pseudoscience and religious (and quasi religious) topics are those where advocates tend to construct elaborate walled gardens they try to "protect" against neutrality my misusing other policies to present their POV uncritically; addressing those areas in the policy makes sense even if the current wording is admittedly poor. — Coren (talk) 00:13, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Agree completely. Rephrasing, making more concise is an excellent path forward, so long as care is taken that the changes do not change the meaning - one of the recent edits, for example, removed a requirement for the mainstream view to be presented, and replaced with a requirement that it not be presented. This is clearly not in the best interested of our being taken seriously as an encyclopedia. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 00:27, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Agree. It should be retained. I'm not wedded to the idea that it has to be retained on exactly this page, but I do believe it should be retained as policy. If not here, then as a new page. -- Brangifer (talk) 00:55, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain Religion only Given how contentious religious topics can get, it deserves special mention in policy. As the pseudoscience section still exists, just on a different page, there's no it might not necessarily need to be duplicated it here [Comment has been revised]. --Cybercobra (talk) 00:21, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Remove. I can readily write an equivalent (but hopefully more cogently stated) section on pseudo-history. The central tenet is already stated in bold: Assert facts, including facts about opinions—but do not assert the opinions themselves [as facts]. I suggest adding the last two words. Providing topic-specific examples is well-meaning, but anyone observing the central tenet doesn't need the litany; anyone not observing the central tenet will ignore the litany.  PЄTЄRS VЄСRUМВАtalk  00:25, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain, either here or on a new page. -- Brangifer (talk) 00:55, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain. I have seen no arguments for removal other than "this page is too long". When a page is too long, a spin off is often created. If the consensus is to create two new pages, then I have to say I object to yet more polices being added. I have no problem with trimming verbiage, if done with care - one of the recent edits changed the meaning from requiring the mainstream view, to requiring it be omitted - which is the type of error we need to be extremely careful of. I am so sorry for those who think this page is "too long to read". I suggest they not work on this project if they find a couple of screens of text too hard to read; perhaps they'd be happier in a non-text based project, or one where academic scrutiny does not require that we take steps to prevent nonsense from being presented as solid fact. I myself was very proud when Wikipedia was found to be as accurate as Brittanica; I'd hate to sink to the level that we're only as accurate as the Weekly World News - and again, if anyone actually wants that, I suggest they send an application to that publication or start a blog on their pet "theory" - but Wikipeida is not the place for that, and without policy to prevent such occurrences, I assure you that my posited outcomes are not mere fancy, but instead rather likely to occur. In fact, they did occur, quite frequently, until these policies were put in place, back some years ago. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 01:10, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Remove per SlimVirgin comments. I hardly ever see fringe being used in a legitimate way. It's more often used as away to avoid NPOV, rather than help it. Having this in NPOV seems to create more issues than it helps. Morphh (talk) 1:37, 02 May 2010 (UTC)
  • We're not talking about FRINGE. We're talking about pseudoscience and religion. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 03:50, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • It was titled "Pseudoscience and related fringe theories" with a main link to fringe, so you can see where this would be confusing. In any case, I haven't really seen where these areas introduce new policy. They seem more like guidelines to the existing NPOV policy. Morphh (talk) 16:38, 02 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Remove The core policies should be short and sweet. I believe we should cut down the current rambling and confusing verbiage drastically. These two sections contain unneeded detail which adds nothing useful in my view, and the Fringe/Pseudoscience section ends up creating an anti-minority POV by allowing POV pushers to label any view they dislike as "fringe" or "pseudo"-something. Neutrality means countering non-mainstream views with reliable sources, not by ridiculing them with "pseudo" labels. Crum375 (talk) 02:03, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain Once again the remove proponents are failing to engage the issue: Should Wikipedia be based on science? Or, should NPOV mean "we take all views: if a book says Daleks built the Pyramids that's what will go in the article, and it's not pseudoscience until a suitable authority bothers to publish a statement that in fact the Daleks did not build the Pyramids"? Moving PSCI to a guideline means it will be ignored; that is a massive change to Wikipedia and needs to be discussed extremely widely (much more than this RFC). Johnuniq (talk) 02:05, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment—These two issues are hot buttons, so I can see why some people want to retain them here as formally expressed parts of policy. But they need to be significantly trimmed. Tony (talk) 03:26, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Remove. The policy is stronger and provides better guidance for the project without those overly-specific sections. Everything that is needed to stop fringe POV-pushing is already in the core content triad of NPOV-V-NOR. The separate FRINGE guideline is an appropriate place to host the pseudoscience text that was moved there previously, where it may be useful for addressing problematic patterns that happen over and over. It performs that function based on the solid foundation that exists the NPOV policy. The religion content is not needed at all; as written, it's more like a style guide about how to apply the policy of NPOV to one particular situation. The core policies are more potent and effective when they are simple, direct and clear. --Jack-A-Roe (talk) 03:49, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain per SlimVirgin's non-argument. QuackGuru (talk) 04:07, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Keep religion definitely where it is and more or less as written. It is a delicate subject and the issue as encapsulated by the three paragraphs will recur for as long as wikipedia is in existence. As far as the pseudoscience, I think keep but move as its content belongs more on the WP:UNDUE and WP:FRINGE pages as far as I can tell, but again, this is a vexed subject over which squabbles will erupt in the future. The lack of the general population's familiarity with Evidence (as in evidence-based medicine) and how to evaluate it will mean that dubious material will be portrayed as valid time and time again - verifiability as written isn't enough here Casliber (talk · contribs) 04:18, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • retain per Coren and KillerChihuaha. I would take Casliber's point above and expand it to say that's precisely why we need clear guidelines here, and not moved elsewhere. This has served us very well in dealing with fringe views in the past and I see no good reason to remove these. JoshuaZ (talk) 04:29, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • What this indicates is that the FRINGE guideline really needs to be promoted to a policy. This idea has been discussed before and it needs to be taken seriously. -- Brangifer (talk) 06:36, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • retain Its important to demonstrate the concept that NPOV does not mean "all viewpoints are represented equally" but rather "all viewpoints are given appropriate weight". As always, some cleanup can be done to tighten up the langauge and make it more appropriate, but the concepts are contentious and common enough to need special clarification beyond the basic NPOV guideline. Ideally, we should never have to have this level of detail for any policy at Wikipedia. Policy statements should be simple and stand on their own. Pragmatically, these topics are so contentious that they need special treatment. --Jayron32 04:43, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • remove or major tightening. OK, if these subjects are common enough hot potatoes, we could have brief sections on them. But there's no justfication for the mass of words we have at the moment. Has anyone read these sections critically? It's embarrassing that in order to have a bat to beat pseudoscience with, we should use a passage which so obviously reeks of pseudo-logic and manipulation of language of the sort than any fringe-theory-pusher would be proud of. And the religion section isn't much better, for example giving an example of "the sort of sentence editors should try to write". --Kotniski (talk) 04:57, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain. I've recently encountered an editor who's tried to rewrite a WP:FRINGE article. When I informed the editor that her edits violated WP:FRINGE she informed me that since that is just a guideline it has no real weight. I therefore think this material should be a part of the NPOV policy page itself, to give it teeth. Eugene (talk) 06:22, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Per my comment above, the solution is to promote FRINGE to a policy. -- Brangifer (talk) 06:36, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Remove pseudoscience WP:V supports the scientific method, which disposes with pseudoscience. --Philcha (talk)
  • Trim religion. We need to make the core policies easy for new editors to read and understand, otherwise WP will die. When sub-topics need mention, they should be as brief as possibly, which details elsewhere. --Philcha (talk) 06:58, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Move to dedicated pages. While I wholly disagree with any weakening whatsoever of the sentiment of these sections, I agree that the policy pages shouldn't be cluttered with specific rulings. I think that links are sufficient so long as the retained pages are clearly still policy. SDY (talk) 07:33, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain both. I don't think the Procrustean approach is a good idea here. Cardamon (talk) 07:46, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain both. Do not shunt off to subpages unless those subpages also have the weight of 'policy'. From my own experience, and as noted by above by Eugeneacurry, fringe theory pushers will argue that WP:FRINGE can be ignored as it is 'merely' a guideline and not policy. Alternatively, move PSCI to WP:FRINGE and promote WP:FRINGE to policy. LK (talk) 08:09, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Remove Per SlimVirgin and Crum375. All our policies are bloated with bright ideas that will save the wiki if only the bad people would listen and accept being bludgeoned by authoritative dogma, to the detriment of inculcating basic principles that would be far more effective in the long run.John Z (talk) 08:27, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Leave a few words and links only: The policy is too long to maintain adequately. As two of the most common problem areas, they should be mentioned, but the inevitable finessing and bloating of the wording should go somewhere else to keep this core policy concise and maintainable. Stephen B Streater (talk) 08:59, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Remove This is special pleading and contrary to WP:CREEP. The traditional hot-button topics to avoid in polite conversation are religion and politics. Why do we have pseudoscience here instead of politics? It seems to be a POV of particular editors, contrary to WP:SOAP. Let's have general principles, not pet peeves. Colonel Warden (talk) 11:08, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain pseudoscience (no opinion on religion) Pseudoscience affects all articles on matsh, physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy, medicine, etc. Pseudohistory affects all articles that deal with some important historical fact. If the page is too long then shorten it, but don't remove it. --Enric Naval (talk) 11:55, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Remove pseudoscience - or rather keep it at WP:FRINGE where it is more appropriately placed. Pseudoscience is after all a sub-group of Fringe. If needed this policy can contain a very brief statement stating that extra care must be taken when dealing with Fringe topics and pointing people to WP:FRINGE, but the details should be there. If people are worried about the "only a guideline" issue... I think there is a very good argument for promoting WP:FRINGE to "Policy" status... but that said, I don't think this distinction is as valid as some people make out... many of our guidelines have "bite"... We remove material based on WP:RS and it is "only a guideline"... WP:NOTE and the other notability guidelines are "only a guideline" and yet we delete entire articles that don't comply with them. WP:FRINGE is one of those guidelines with "bite".
Something else to consider... While I completely agree with what PSCI says, I really think we have gone over the deep end as far as where and how we repeat its provisions ... At the moment we have the exact same language here and at WP:FRINGE... then we repeat it at the top of the WT:FRINGE talk page... and at the top of WP:FTN. This isn't a case of bashing POV pushers over the head with a two-by-four... it's a case of bashing them over the head and then building a house on top of them.
As for the Religion section... I have a suggestion: perhaps what we need is a more generalized section on "Maintaining neutrality in controversial topics". This would include articles on Politics, Religion, Ethnicity and Race, etc. Blueboar (talk) 12:24, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Remove both. If NPOV was clear enough, it wouldn't need paragraphs tailored to different fields. Though this does not bear in any way on the question "keep or remove?", I'll mention in passing, the section on pseudoscience puts it at one end of a continuum with "scientific consensus" at the other. The opposite of pseudoscience is science. Consensus is opposite to fringe. Blueboar and KillerChihuahua, keep your comments to the discussion below. Anthony (talk) 13:17, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain the core wording as policy, remove the discourse and examples.--Curtis Clark (talk) 14:15, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Remove religion, trim down pseudoscience drastically: The text concerning religion is redundant and does not appear to play a role in any of the religion-related conflicts I am currently watching. The text about pseudoscience is also redundant, and the fact that it is so heavily focused on the term "pseudoscience" (a historical accident caused by the pseudoscience Arbcom cases) causes certain editors to fight for labelling every superstition and the kitchen fringe as "pseudoscience", apparently because they think the policy codifies special exceptions that only apply to pseudoscience and which they want to make use of.
The underlying problem here is that we have policy interpretation in a place where one would expect only normative policy text. As a result, certain editors think they must first make a formal (and sometimes incorrect) claim that something is pseudoscience, instead of simply applying the policy by analogy. This causes no end of disruption. Hans Adler 14:47, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain - at least for pseudoscience (I don't really get involved in religion) as per Coren/KillerChihuaha. Also, we need clear indications of how potential pseudoscience should be regarded. I've seen some clear nonsense in apparently peer-reviewed sources, but stuff like this rarely seems to attract a rebuttal in a similar source. We sometimes need to be able to point to something that states that the mainstream view should be taken into account when assessing these sources. Brunton (talk) 16:36, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Remove to guideline It always struck me as a type of systematic bias that we specifically addressed these two things in the NPOV policy. We are, on the whole, atheistic nerds, but our policies don't need to so blatantly reflect that. Gigs (talk) 17:51, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • *Retain both of them, but keep them distilled to the core policy provisions, no more than one paragraph, or a couple extremely short paragraphs each. Earlier today I was a bit WP:BOLD and took a step in this direction by moving the PSCI guideline material to WP:FRINGE (here).
    ....... Both these topic areas are highly contentious areas of the wiki, and each has their own unique dynamics that seem to require specific language to apply WP:WEIGHT to those particular NPOV dynamics. WP:PSCI has long been a counterbalance to rabid insistence by some users to push their pet POV that flies directly in the face of established scientific or historical perspective, and Wikipedia is not the place for such pet POVs to try to push for wider acceptance by the general public. Many editors rely on WP:PSCI as a specialized explanation of WP:WEIGHT w.r.t. the many topics whose adherents attempt to draw on the credibility of words like "science", "scientific", etc., or apply the superficial trappings of scientific jargon to push their particular perspective on the general public, and WP needs a specialized way of dealing with this. I would not, however, object to reducing it to a subsection of WP:WEIGHT.
    ....... As to RNPOV, I imagine a guideline page might be needed to handle WP:RNPOV. It is also to some extent a WP:SOURCES issue w.r.t. what's taken as a reliable source for what kind of claim. (We run into this problem with certain situation where a religion has made claims disputed by empirical research, e.g. , but is not pseudoscientific because it claims to be a matter of faith not science.) Secondary sources quite commonly don't fit neatly into WP:PSTS (part of WP:NOR) because such sources are so frequently not third-party sources independent of the religion itself, but rather are by other adherents, commonly no more than repeating a mantra or beating a drum, so to speak. I think that like it or not, fundamentally it's a unique expression of WP:NPOV that comes into play, and countless religion-related articles suffer from various degrees of disorder due to these issues despite being highly notable and having many adherents. For now, I think RNPOV should be distilled to no more than one paragraph describing the particular WEIGHT issue(s). and shortening it even further ASAP, providing a link to a guideline page. Once that is done, I think another RfC should be called to assess whether the unique issues in such articles can indeed be subsumed completely into WP:NPOV, WEIGHT and WP:V, SOURCES... Kenosis (talk) 19:08, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Remove the sections on pseudoscience and religion. We should express this policy by relying on as fiew additional concepts as possible. Undue weight and fringe views are unavoidable and necessary concepts; pseudoscience is neither.
Instead, I have a proposal. To the section on undue weight, after the second setence, delete the remainder of this unnecessarily verbose section but then add the following:
Under this policy, fringe views can be excluded from an article, but if they meet the criteria of our notability guideline some views may become objects of their own article. Although this may seem to be a POV fork, which we generally seek to avoid, it is really a content fork and as such, acceptable. This has often occured with science-related articles like Intelligent design or Homeopathy.
The crucial thing is that fringe views as views of a particular object do not beclong in any article but that in some cases fringe views may themselves be the object of an article. Under what conditions this is so is the crucial question. It does not matter whether something is pseudoscience or not - we should avodie having a section on pseudoscience because one person's science is someone else's pseudoscience. So what matters is not whethe or not it is pseudoscience but whether the view that something is pseudoscience is mainstream majority, minority, or ... frine. We should express this policy by relying on as fiew additional concepts as possible. Undue weight and fringe views are unavoidable and necessary concepts; pseudoscience is neither. Slrubenstein | Talk 01:22, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain in place - unless we could somehow agree on promoting the others from guideline to policy (which isn't going to happen), moving them would leave the door open even wider than it already is to those trying to abuse WP to lend credibility to these ideas. LeadSongDog come howl 02:59, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain in place. Demoting this to a guideline would give the wrong impression to users; it can be and has been enforced by ArbCom. Moving it would instigate people to violate policies in a manner which could get them topic-banned. *** Crotalus *** 16:40, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
Actually, that is not exactly correct. The language of the PSCI section was created after the arbcom ruling... to reflect the arbcom ruling... but that ruling was based on what this policy said prior to the addition of the language. In other words, the arbcom ruling would stand whether this language was included in the policy or not. Blueboar (talk) 17:18, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Remove the pseudoscience section to WP:FRINGE. If a separate policy could be written on the coverage of religious subjects in Wikipedia, then I think the religion section could be moved to that policy. Until that is done, I think the religion section should remain here, and should further state that in order for a religion-related article to be considered NPOV it needs to first explain in full how the adherents of that religion or religious philosophy view themselves before stating any objections to that view from other religions or organizations and that the latter not be given more weight or space than the former. Cla68 (talk) 04:16, 5 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain As per KillerChihuahua and Coren, and supporting the point made by LeadSongDog and Blueboar and others that demoting this to a guideline would be to the detriment of Wikipedia. A better solution would be to make WP:Fringe policy. I'm not sure what to do about the religious section but it should also be retained for the moment. Dougweller (talk) 15:25, 5 May 2010 (UTC)
  • I can't imagine Blueboar would have said that, Doug, because he was the one who posted the first RfC to removed the pseudoscience section, removed it from here himself on April 12, [3] moved it into FRINGE, [4] and removed it again from NPOV twice after it was recently restored by FeloniousMonk and Quackguru. [5] [6] SlimVirgin talk contribs 22:40, 8 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Remove both. Overly specific, and not likely to help new editors grasp the concept of NPOV, which is already hard for many. Dlabtot (talk) 18:59, 7 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain or make FRINGE a policy. Wikipedia is being assaulted by climate change deniers, and their views, although popular amongst lay people, are in fact scientifically FRINGE. FRINGE as policy would help to keep the flat-Earthers at bay. ► RATEL ◄ 07:03, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain. The policy is a perfect catch-all for subjective or unsubstantiated views. WP:FRINGE is fine and all, but we'd indirectly adding more and more POV matters such as these into a list of where something is "okay" to source from regardless of how absurd? Case-by-case decisions are impractical and promote (if even accidentally) ownership-type behaviour on any kind of disputed topic. If the current is removed, it leaves the door wide open for discussions to any and everyone that can source something in some way; Requiring even more hoops to jump through such as WP:RS/N discussion to have it thrown out. Editors at ANI, AfD and ArbCom need somewhere to point to bring discussion points full circle, so don't fix what's not broken. Really, please don't. Clutter is bad, but for something this vital I think the clarification is good. The Scientology ArbCom case was a very clear demonstration of faith in the community to uphold what is currently on the books. daTheisen(talk) 18:03, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Retain both as policy, either in this policy or another one or two.   — Jeff G. ツ 02:22, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

Threaded discussion

  • Comment. I'm adding another argument here in favour of removal, which is that the section itself is not neutral and violates WP:V and WP:NOR. It says that certain topics may be labelled as pseudoscience without sources, just because a Wikipedian takes that view of them. It has been used that way ever since it was inserted, and is inherently biased. Attempts to clean it up have been reverted by the same people who want to retain it, and for the same reason. The way to fight people who push a POV about fringe topics is not to arm people who push their own POV in the opposite direction. SlimVirgin talk contribs 01:16, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
That's not an argument for removal; that's an argument for cleanup. What is the sentence which states that? Please quote it here, thanks. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 01:39, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Re User:Cybercobra: Except the page that it was recently moved to is a guideline, which has zero force. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 00:50, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • No, guidelines still have force, albeit less of it. However, I wasn't aware of the exact status of the page the pseudoscience part got moved to, so I've edited my !vote accordingly. --Cybercobra (talk) 01:51, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • So much less that they're taken as optional advice, as I'm sure you're aware. Thanks for taking the time to read my concern about the change in status, and the courtesy of your reply. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 02:03, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • That has not been my experience at all, so I strongly disagree with your assertion, but anyway... --Cybercobra (talk) 04:14, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  •  :P I am not even going to read this. It's only an essay! Hans Adler 14:50, 2 May 2010 (UTC)

SlimVirgin claims "Attempts to clean it up have been reverted by the same people who want to retain it, and for the same reason." SlimVirgin, please provide diffs for attempts to clean it up. Where does it say "that certain topics may be labelled as pseudoscience without sources, just because a Wikipedian takes that view of them." Can you point me to the articles that are labelled as pseudoscience without sources. QuackGuru (talk) 04:07, 2 May 2010 (UTC)

SV did not directly repond to my questions. SV, please respond to my concerns or I suggest you withdraw your complaints. QuackGuru (talk) 01:53, 8 May 2010 (UTC)

  • Even policies have exceptions. What matters is how a policy or guideline is applied, more than the way it is worded or the exact status that it has. NPOV is a policy which more than most other WP policies normally involves matters about which people feel very strongly for reasons not always amenable to logical argument--often long -standing pre-existing disputes of great practical or ideological consequence, which nothing said or done at Wikipedia is likely to resolve. The reason for however keeping these sections in policy is because they are exactly the sort of matters the policy addresses. I remind SV that the content of WP articles must follow WP:V; the decisions on how we are to deal with things at Wikipedia necessarily involves our own individual views. As for the sections themselves, I think the one of pseudoscience fairly well reflects the general position as it has been worked out in long discussions over multiple issues, but the one of religion is less well developed and perhaps might benefit from editing to give somewhat of a less antagonistic impression. DGG ( talk ) 04:11, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • This RFC should have been split into 2 sections, as pseudoscience and religion are quite different matters. --Philcha (talk) 06:58, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
yes, and retain and remove sections too. Casliber (talk · contribs) 11:11, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
Nods, I agree, but we cannot change how SV set it up at this late date. We can gauge where we are without that... looks like no con atm; we can always revisit if needed. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 23:54, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
  • For those concerned with shorter length as an objective, there's a discussion on VPP starting about this. I thought it better to delay an RfC on that until this one is over, as this discussion may inform that one. Stephen B Streater (talk) 22:19, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Gauge as of 23:52, 4 May 2010 (UTC) Currently the views are very closely split. There are 13 to remove, with some specifying "to guideline". There are 19 to retain, about half of whom add some verbiage about trimming or editing. In addition, there are two views for keeping Pseudoscience and removing Religion, and one for keeping Religion. There is one view to move both Religion and Pseudoscience to their own policy pages. There is one view for "Trim Religion." Finally, there is a comment suggesting editing the entire policy for brevity and clarity, which I think is something everyone agrees upon, and which has been happening as this Rfc has been going on. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 23:52, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

An important distinction

  • The above RfC is poorly worded... we are not talking about "removing" the pseudoscience section completely... we are really talking about whether it belongs here or at WP:FRINGE... it should be noted that a !vote to "remove" from this page is also a !vote to keep it where it currently is: at WP:FRINGE. Blueboar (talk) 12:47, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
  • No, a !vote for X is not a !vote for Y. That's twisting things. The RFC is title "Should the NPOV policy contain two sections devoted to pseudoscience and religion?" Maurreen (talk) 15:09, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
Exactly my point... things have become twisted. WP:PSCI has already been moved to WP:FRINGE. But some want to undo that move and return it to this policy. However, they are acting as if the move never took place. Instead of !voting "yes" or "no" ... they are responding with "Retain" or "Remove"... which confuses the issue and creates the false impression that someone is suggesting that PSCI be deleted from Wikipedia completely. That was never an option. I would suggest that the RFC should have been worded:
Should pseudoscience (and WP:PSCI in specific) be discussed at WP:NPOV, or should it be discussed at WP:FRINGE? Blueboar (talk) 22:36, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
As several have pointed out in various ways, the important distinction is whether WP:PSCI is fundamentally policy or guideline. Whether one is for or against having it as policy, as policy it gives an extra measure of strength to the editorial stance of those editors that are trying to keep pseudoscientific material from being put forward by WP to readers as if it were credible material that readers should seriously take as being scientific. So the distinction is more than just one of WEIGHT or FRINGE, because many pseudoscientific ideas have much weight in many sources that can readily be argued to be RSs (e.g. media sources) and are not fringe in the broadest sense but rather are not uncommonly quite popular. I say this without making any judgments whether WP:PSCI should necessarily be kept as policy-- to me personally it's a bit of a tough call. ... Kenosis (talk) 23:36, 2 May 2010 (UTC).
This is a very constructive way of framing the problem. I can see why you find it a tough call. But when you put it this way, I definitely think that it should be a guideline. I think that anything on applying our policies to a specific set of definable issues, like pseudoscience or religion, or anything else for that matter, should be in a guideline. And the underlying principles that one must apply in these situations belong in the policy. As a rule, I think policies should be as general and abstract as possible in order to give the editors working on any article both principles and also the freedom to work out how they best apply to that case. Discussions of how the principles have been applied in the past - descriptive rather than prescriptive or proscriptive rules, and based on our accumulated wisdom, seems to me to be most appropriate for guidelines. Slrubenstein | Talk 20:14, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
I agree Slrubenstien here. Adding case law into our statement of principles is a category error. It confuses definition with interpretation, and opens the door to unlimited bloat - which should rightly be put in the guidelines. Stephen B Streater (talk) 20:36, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
I moved the Arbcom stuff to WP:FRINGE yesterday (here), as they were explicitly stated to be guidelines anyway. Seems to me the core policy provision is essentially to clarify that w.r.t. pseudoscience and related fringe theories, the majority (per WP:WEIGHT) is to be taken to be the majority view of the scientific community, not that of the popular press or anything else-- even if there happens to be a proliferation of popular literature supporting a pseudoscientific view. It is, as I said elsewhere, a specialized application of WEIGHT. ... Kenosis (talk) 22:46, 3 May 2010 (UTC)


As it seems to be a week since the last comment & I saw a request for more, I thought we should have a new section. Just a few thoughts.

  1. Avoid remove & retain. Similarity of words slows down people trying to get a sense of the balance of opinion. Try delete & keep.
  2. Plenty of qualified & registered medical practitioners use fringe medicine. It's mediacl scientists who regard it as fringe.

Peter jackson (talk) 10:39, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Words to watch

See Wikipedia talk:Neutral point of view/Archive 40#Words to watch

From the history of the article:

21:18, 19 May 2010 Griswaldo (PBS I think your version is much more vague ... lets discuss the change you want to make ... I thought after being reverted you were supposed to do that)

I did discuss it see above. -- PBS (talk) 22:10, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

I admit I'm being a bit bold in my conclusions here, but IMO here's our eventual bottom line, so to speak, on this issue: With a title like "WP:Words to watch" (read that, roughly, "words to watch out for" or "words to take note of") this currently proposed approach to WP policy cannot properly work as a policy, but must remain at most an editorial guideline. Either a community-wide consensus must be gained for a policy provision such as that certain words are forbidden, or, e.g. that "these listed words are by policy to be regarded as suspicious and are to be not to be used absent a clear consensus to invoke WP:IAR", or alternately the general provision about "which words to watch" must at most remain a general guideline, not part of a core-content policy such as WP:NPOV. ... Kenosis (talk) 03:23, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
Which is why I do not think that "For example, the word 'claim' can imply that a statement is incorrect," should be in this policy. There is nothing inherently wrong with the word "claim" it depends on the context in which it is used and that is far to detailed an issue to include in this policy. --PBS (talk) 03:51, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
I'm confused, if you think that the current version is too detailed, why are you trying to copy the even more detailed style guideline's wording here? The current version gives a very broad statement "some words carry non-neutral implications" and proceeds to give one example. If you don't like the example, then propose another one, but promoting style guidelines to policy through a copy/paste should not be done.
I'll also note that in the linked previous discussion I see no consensus to change the wording.  --Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 04:51, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
I think the wording from the lead of the guideline "There are no forbidden words or expressions on Wikipedia, but certain expressions should be used with care, because they may introduce bias. Strive to eliminate expressions that are flattering, disparaging, vague, or clichéd, or that endorse a particular point of view." is better than the current wording. However if an example is going to be used in this policy then lets use "terrorist" which unlike "claim" nearly always carries a non neutral point of view: "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter". -- PBS (talk) 06:06, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
So which is it to be replace claim with terrorist, to remove the word claim and make it more general along the lines of the lead in the guideline, or remove the whole section and move the guideline in to a see also section? -- PBS (talk) 09:28, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
Something to think about ... how to neutrally describe what the sources say when the sources themselves take a non-neutral stance and use non-neutral language. If the reliable sources speak of something in flattering, disparaging, etc, terms... using non-neutral language to do so, can we accurately reflect that stance without using non-neutral language in turn. In fact, I think if enough reliable sources share a seemingly non-neutral opinion, it can become non-neutral for us to use milder language (as we would be imposing our own opinion over the opinion of the sources).
I think it is important to remember that true neutrality means we step back and accurately reflect what the sources say... without injecting our own POV ... but doing this can mean using language that may seem non-neutral. Blueboar (talk) 19:31, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
I don't think this is true. Just because a biography is created from sources that are hagiographies is no reason why that needs to be reflected in a Wikipedia biography article. -- PBS (talk) 09:28, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
WP:NOR may require that a hagiography is taken at face value, unless there's some other support. And supporting sources can go either way:

Scientific vs neutral point of view (essay)

I wrote this about 2.5 years ago, as an attempt to clarify NPOV vs. SPOV.

It's not such a common question these days but it still gets asked. Is it any help as an explanation for future? FT2 (Talk | email) 15:48, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

I think if you included a link to MEDRS or a small summary of MEDRS it would be clearer about which reliable sources. QuackGuru (talk) 19:01, 28 May 2010 (UTC)
The link to clarifications provided in Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Pseudoscience#Principles is useful, that was once linked from this policy and maybe we should restore that link. Worth thinking about "NPOV requires fair representation of significant alternatives to scientific orthodoxy. Significant alternatives, in this case, refers to legitimate scientific disagreement, as opposed to pseudoscience." and "What constitutes a reliable source varies with the topic of the article, but in the case of a scientific theory, there is a clear expectation that the sources for the theory itself are reputable textbooks or peer-reviewed journals. Scientific theories promulgated outside these media are not properly verifiable as scientific theories and should not be represented as such." There are current areas of contention where "scientific theories" are published in mass media and in popular books rather than meeting the above requirements, and NPOV should be clear that we do not give weight to such sources in claims to scientific legitimacy. . . dave souza, talk 19:33, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

Unexplained reverts

Will people please stop reverting improvements to this page without giving the least explanation why? This is an important policy; we can't have it speaking nonsense purely on the grounds that it's spoken the same nonsense for a long time. Why would anyone want to revert to the version that says "by a fact we mean a piece of information about which there is no serious dispute"? Is anyone seriously defending this statement? --Kotniski (talk) 10:46, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

Your changes were atrocious and eliminated a major part of ASF. QuackGuru (talk) 19:01, 30 May 2010 (UTC)
Please say what you mean. We've made it quite clear that "a piece of information about which there is no serious dispute" is an inadequate definition for "fact" (in the sense of something that can be stated in Wikipedia without inline attribution). Firstly because the dispute must be in reliable sources; secondly because there's the additional condition that it must not be a value judgment. Do you disagree with this? If not, then please state your objection, what is atrocious about the rewrite and what you think has been eliminated.--Kotniski (talk) 19:31, 30 May 2010 (UTC)
I've been clear "no serious dispute" is a core part of ASF and should stay. Reliable sources can determine whether "a matter is subject to dispute" when there is opposing views. You are also confusing too many ideas together with long run on sentences. QuackGuru (talk) 19:35, 30 May 2010 (UTC)
An example of "too many ideas"? But "no serious dispute" has stayed, but suitably qualified; without qualification it is simply wrong, for the reasons that have been stated here time and time again. I think if you look at the text now, you should be perfectly satisfied - if not, then please be specific about what you think shouyld still be changed.--Kotniski (talk) 19:40, 30 May 2010 (UTC)
It was wrongly qualified and eliminated its meaning. The text "Reliable sources can determine whether "a matter is subject to dispute" when there is opposing views." already covered was is meant by "dispute" from relaible sources. Too many ideas in long run on sentences is atrocious. QuackGuru (talk) 19:45, 30 May 2010 (UTC)
But as I keep saying, we must sometimes have more than one idea per sentence, simply to avoid being wrong. We can dumb down to a certain extent (and if we wanted to make this page clear to dummies, as well as to ordinary intelligent people who don't appreciate having reams of empty and repetitive words flung at them, then we could certainly make great progress if we wanted to), but not to the extent of stating gross untruths. The sentence you say "covered it" is unclear (how can reliable sources help? do we need to actually find a reliable source that says "there is a dispute"? in fact that's not what we mean, we mean that different reliable sources themselves assert different things), appeared far away from the original definition, and still didn't cover the fact/value distinction which is the other main component of the definition of (assertable) fact. --Kotniski (talk) 06:17, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
Too many ideas in one sentence in confusing and sometimes changes the meaning of the original sentence. Some editors can't hold too many ideas at once. Among reliable sources is misleading. There could be a dispute between sources. Putting different ideas into one sentence changed the original meaning. This sentence covers "among reliable sources" without being confusing. Reliable sources can determine whether "a matter is subject to dispute" when there is opposing views. The part about when there is opposing views explains when different reliable sources have diffrent views. I did explain the fact/value distinction without any specific objection. QuackGuru (talk) 18:23, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── How about we have a "gentlemans' agreement" not to revert each other, but instead to assume good faith. If we see a problem, we work with the existing text to address the problem that we see, keeping any improvements made. This will assure the editors that their work is not pointless. The flip side of this is that none of us should work too fast – instead we should edit slowly, first working to improve the text without changing the original meaning, and make only one potentially controversial edit per day. LK (talk) 00:08, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

I saw too many problems. I worked to improve the text without changing the long standing original meaning of ASF. QuackGuru (talk) 22:04, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

ASF: problems still there

Back to the WP:ASF section, which still hasn't been successfully improved in spite of the numerous criticisms of it. Regardless of the nuances of what policy actually is, can we agree that the following things are definitely wrong about the way it's presented?

  1. Either the section is supposed to be a "simple formulation" of the whole of NPOV, or it's supposed to be just about the particular matter of when in-text attribution is required. If the former, then the bold topic sentence is wrong; if the latter, then the section title ("A simple formulation") is wrong (and much of the text is off-topic). WHICH IS IT?
  2. The text in all its lengthy glory fails to make clear that there are two different conditions that require in-text attribution - "value judgement-ness" and "seriously disputed-ness". Does anyone seriously object to rewriting the text so as to make this absolutely clear? (At the moment it looks like we think that the two concepts are the same, which is obviously wrong.)

Thoughts please.--Kotniski (talk) 10:44, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

I believe that ASF is supposed to be about the particular matter of when in-text attribution is required. I agree that there are two different conditions that require attribution and the text should make this clear. DigitalC (talk) 12:49, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

ASF has been sucessfully restored and tweaked despite the mass deletions of the entire ASF section. Now it is clearly than before. ASF is not just about when in-text attribution is required but some editors want that to be the case. So for editors have not pointed out any specific wording that is a problem. The same editors continue to disagree with the current consensus version of ASF. The bold topic sentence is correct and prevents POV warriors from adding in-text attribtuion to every uncontroversial factual sentence they disagree with. If no specific problem with the wording of text is identified then there is no problem. QuackGuru (talk) 17:10, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Well I've just identified two problems to be getting on with. If I'm to understand you correctly, you're saying that this section is about in-text attribution, but not only about when it's required (i.e. it's also about when it should not be used). Do others agree with that? If so, then we would need to (a) change the title of the section (since the section is not a formulation of the whole of the policy) and (b) expunge the off-topic text. Objections?--Kotniski (talk) 05:48, 15 May 2010 (UTC)
I disagree that the section is about "when it should not be used". We could put in some wording to help guide people when not to use it, but I disagree that it has ever been about that. DigitalC (talk) 11:54, 15 May 2010 (UTC)
But it would be a bit strange to talk about when to do something, without at the same time talking about when not to do it? Wouldn't it? (I mean, the first clause is "Assert facts", and in this context this seems to be supposed to mean assert them without in-text attribution, so it is trying to tell us that in certain situations we shouldn't use such attribution...)--Kotniski (talk) 17:38, 15 May 2010 (UTC)
You have never identified any problems and the section name is fine. It is a simple formulation that explains among other things when to assert text and when not to. If there is something specific that is a problem editors are not explaining what the problem is. What you think is a problem I think stops editors from damaging articles. For example, for a uncontroversial fact, editors want to change ASF in a way to allow an editor to WP:SYN disagreement where there is none by needlessly adding in-text attribtuion. This smacks POINT. After a month of discussion, can any editor explain a specific problem with any sentence or are editors making vague objections because they have run out of excuses. If you want to improve this section then do something productive instead of deleting or altering its meaning. The on-topic text should not be expunged again. QuackGuru (talk) 19:47, 15 May 2010 (UTC)
Unfortunately Kotniski, the problem then is that people debate over what is a fact. Is an opinion a fact if there are no reliable sources that dispute it? DigitalC (talk) 20:46, 15 May 2010 (UTC)

In fact, QuackGuru has gone and made major changes to the NPOV FAQ in regards to WP:ASF, despite the objections that have been raised about his interpretation of the policy. It appears that he is trying to change the policy and the FAQ to suit his interpretation. DigitalC (talk) 03:04, 16 May 2010 (UTC)

Can we agree that there are many circumstances in which it is clearly inappropriate to add in-text attribution (otherwise Wikipedia would become unreadable), as well as manyu circumstances in which it is clearly inappropriate to omit such attribution? Can we also agree that this policy, though it will never be able to lay down a complete algorithm for deciding when such attribution is desirable or not, can at least set out the general principles by which editors are guided when making such decisions?--Kotniski (talk) 16:46, 16 May 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I can agree that there are circumstance where attribution is better avoided. However, I worry about this text being wiki-lawyered to say that unless there is a reliable source that disagrees with an opinion, the opinion should be stated as fact. DigitalC (talk) 19:05, 16 May 2010 (UTC)
I think it might help to have several examples of articles that have been wikilawyered into having too many in-text attributions. ... Kenosis (talk) 19:52, 16 May 2010 (UTC)
Stuff which makes the article unnecessarily verbose should be omitted; stuff which identifies controversial views should be included. Apart from that, can we just tell editors to use common sense? Stephen B Streater (talk) 20:35, 16 May 2010 (UTC)
I'd certainly like to reduce the overall length of the section (not to mention the rest of the policy). DigitalC's concern about the possible wikilawyering is one of the things I'd want to address in the rewriting (we must make it clear that some things are opinions regardless of whether there is a source that disagrees with them - something that isn't entirely clear at the moment, since the text tries to equate two different concepts). --Kotniski (talk) 07:42, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
Do you want to reduce the length because you did not succeed in deleteing it. Do you want to rewrite it because you are against the current meaning of ASF. You have claimed there is a problem but you haven't shown there is any problem. So what is the problem? What sentence is not clear. QuackGuru (talk) 07:49, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
I've said at the start of this thread what I see as the most obvious problems. And because we are not clear about the scope of the section or the distinction we're making between "fact" and "opinion", almost every sentence becomes individually unclear. The "current meaning" of ASF is non-existent if people are interpreting it in conflicting ways. --Kotniski (talk) 07:59, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
You wrote The "current meaning" of ASF is non-existent if people are interpreting it in conflicting ways. What way do you interpret the text.
I asked which sentence is not clear and how it is not clear. Please identify which sentence is a problem and how it could be improved. How do you propose to make it clearer. Do you think deleting sentences makes the text clearer. QuackGuru (talk) 08:16, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
Well deleting the whole thing would at least stop people from reading it and thinking they've understood it (when there is no "it" to understand). But if we want to retain it, then I propose at the very least changing the section title to something like "When to use in-text attribution", and redefining "fact" as something like "a statement which does not pass judgement and which is supported without serious controversy by reliable sources" (and "opinion" as any statement made in reliable sources that is not a fact under that definition). Wordings to be improved, but that seems to be the way to go if we want this section to make consistent sense. --Kotniski (talk) 08:47, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
Your proposal is not clear but ASF is clear. The title of the section is appropriate. It is a simple formulation that a lot of editors do not like because it stops them from redefining a fact. Do you agree an uncontroversial fact should not be converted into an opinion and when it is controversial an inline qualifier will convert an opinion into an attributed fact. It seems you understood ASF and there is no confusion. It seems most editors interpret the text the same way. You want to alter ASF but have not given a valid reason for doing so. The text concisely explains the difference between facts and opinions. But you have not explained your reason to rewrite well written policy. No specific problem with the wording has been identified. You have not explained why the text must be changed. If you disagree with ASF you should admit you don't want to clarify ASF. You want to redefine it and rewrite ASF. This is not about making ASF more concise. This seems to be that your against ASF and now you want to continue until you eliminate how editors should define facts and opinions. Editors need guidance on how to present the text. That is the purpose. If you want to clarify ASF you can explain what is wrong first and confidently make a specific proposal to clarify the text. So far your incoherent suggestions do not improve ASF in any way. QuackGuru (talk) 18:18, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
Support Kotniski's points about areas of ambiguity that should be clarified. The WP:ASF section should be clarified as addressing specifically the need for in-text attribution, and clarifying the two classes of non-facts would be helpful. I tend to think that a brief clarification of the difference between in-text attribution and reference citation (i.e. verifiability) would also be beneficial; even in the lengthy thread above there seemed to be some confusion. Rvcx (talk) 09:27, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
Rvcx, you still have not explained why you added a misleading opinion without clarification against ASF and against BLP. After you looked through my contributions, did you follow me to this talk page. QuackGuru (talk) 17:18, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
Quack, I have no idea what "explanation" you're looking for, and this is not an appropriate venue for attacking another editor over issues on which you disagree with consensus (particularly when you've repeatedly refused to articulate the grounds for your objection). The text you cite does in fact present the notion that Sanger sent a letter to the FBI as a fact. If whether or not he sent the letter were under dispute, then in-text attribution would be appropriate; e.g. "Sanger claims to have sent a letter to the FBI." Rvcx (talk) 17:44, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
If you read the references you would of read about the clarification. If you have no idea what the "clarification" is then read the reference. You are adding misleading text to a BLP and ignoring my concerns. ASF is not confusing to me. It is not about V. It is about how to present the text. The text was not presented with the clarification. QuackGuru (talk) 17:52, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
There does seem to be some degree of confusion among many users between in-text attribution and inline citation(s). The former is a WP:NPOV issue, while the latter is a WP:V issue. At present, the parenthetical statement (e.g. "John Doe believes...") in the last sentence of the first paragraph of "A simple formulation" gives an explicit example of in-text attribution. ... Kenosis (talk) 10:46, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

All right, I've had a go at making the section more logical, as I see it. I've divided into two parts, each with a topic sentence, since these seem to be the two distinct subjects being discussed here - firstly when to use in-text attribution, and secondly to report a selection of opinions that reflects the sources. Please improve further.--Kotniski (talk) 16:49, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

Support I support Kotniski's recent edit to ASF. It's shorter and clearer, and appears to capture all the salient points. However, I don't like the title 'Direct and indirect statements'. I'm going to be bold and change it to 'Assert facts' (which incidentally also abbreviates to ASF). LK (talk) 17:01, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
It was shorter and delted relevant text. It will cause confuse the incoherent shorter version. The editors disagrees with ASF and now is trying to alter ASF to change its meaning. QuackGuru (talk) 17:12, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
This edit also confuses the meaning of facts with verifiability. This was explained before. ASF is not sopecifically about V. ASF is about how to present the verified text. QuackGuru (talk) 17:37, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

W.r.t. this edit: What does "Direct and indirect statements" mean? Why not leave it as "A simple formulation" ... Kenosis (talk) 17:27, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

Support I also support Kotniski's recent edit to ASF. Much clearer; much better organized; much less redundant with other policy. Rvcx (talk) 19:19, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
You have not explained what is more clearly but I did explain the edit confuses the meaning of facts with verifiability. You are not here to support Kotniski's edit. You followed me here to object to my edits. QuackGuru (talk) 19:51, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

Part of the rewrite was "It is perfectly acceptable, however, to state the fact that a person, organization, group of persons, or percentage of persons holds a particular opinion."

The long standing consensus version is "When we discuss an opinion, we attribute the opinion to a person, organization, group of persons, or percentage of persons, and discuss the fact that they have this opinion, citing a reliable source for the fact that the person, organization, group or percentage of persons holds the particular opinion."

According to the rewrite a fact is stating that "a person, organization, group of persons, or percentage of persons holds a particular opinion."

Acording to the cosnensus version it is an opinion that "we attribute the opinion to a person, organization, group of persons, or percentage of persons,..."

The rewrite changes the meaning of ASF and was confusing. The rewrite was not to improve the exisitng meaning of ASF. It was to alter or eliminate the definition of ASF. QuackGuru (talk) 20:14, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

Actually there was no consensus to re-insert ASF when you asked above. I think the edits make the section much clearer. Instead of trying to argue about this, start an RfC, advertised on WP:VPP to ask if the edits reflect consensus.  --Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 21:07, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
Since it does trim quite a bit of text, I think Quackguru is right. It would be a good idea to have an RfC to have more eyeballs on this, just to make sure that the rewritten version captures all the essential points of the old one, and doesn't change any of the essential meaning. But before we start one, Quackguru, you want to take a try at tweaking the rewritten version to address the objections that you have raised? LK (talk) 02:27, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
Apparently not, since he has just reverted and re-reverted to his personal preferred version, as is his wont. Here comes the RfC then. --Kotniski (talk) 06:18, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

Which version of "assert facts" do people prefer? No, the rewrite is not about ASF. It is about altering the meaning of ASF because an editor disagrees with a simple formulation. If he can't delete it then he wants to alter it. The shorter version muddles different sentences together and is very confusing. There is no problem with the longstanding consensus version. Editors have tweaked and gradually improved ASF while keeping the original meaning intact. We can't ignore WP:NPOV. QuackGuru (talk) 06:53, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

Can any editor explain the need to eliminate ASF. QuackGuru (talk) 18:59, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

It could be happily deleted provided all of its substance is already contained in the policy; however, it's not currently being proposed that it be deleted, so we don't currently need to concern ourselves about whether that is the case.--Kotniski (talk) 20:13, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
Editors have explained what is wrong with the proposed text. But you have not explained what is wrong with ASF.
You wrote It could be happily deleted provided all of its substance is already contained in the policy. Where is all of its substance provided in policy when you deleted it. QuackGuru (talk) 18:51, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

RfC: Which version of WP:ASF do people prefer?

{{uninvolved|Close|There is dispute over the interpretation of the results of this RfC. An uninvolved administrator is requested to help ascertain if there is consensus, and if appropriate, to close it.}}

Which version from this revert do people prefer: the section entitled "Assert facts" in this revision, or that entitled "A simple formulation" in this one (or some hybrid or some other alternative). For previous discussion see above.--Kotniski (talk) 06:18, 19 May 2010 (UTC); (edited Rvcx (talk) 13:09, 19 May 2010 (UTC))

  • Assert Facts. I've just gone through the two versions carefully line by line, and the newer 'Assert Facts' version contains all the relevant arguments made by the old version. IMO, it's a concise and accurate rewrite. It's shorter and easier to read, and there are no substantive changes in policy. LK (talk) 09:25, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Assert Facts. The "Assert facts" version is clearer and avoids many of the redundancies the other version has with other NPOV issues. Rvcx (talk) 10:13, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Assert Facts is the version I prefer as more concise. If there is some minor concept that has been missed from the re-write, then it's trivial to incorporate that into the new section. Per LK, there's nothing I can see that's missing except wordiness. BTW, this is a very strangely worded RfC, I would suggest re-wording it to ask if the respondents support the Newer or Older version.  --Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 12:14, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
Why would anyone coming to the RfC be expected to know which version was older?--Kotniski (talk) 17:37, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
Good point, I'm happy with the way it's been re-worded now.  --Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 04:29, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment This RfC might as well be worded, "Do you or do you not in fact oppose the support for reverting the revert of the previous edit in relation to the asserting facts, or do you?" Clarifying would be fruitful. Angryapathy (talk) 14:29, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
It seems quite clear to me; after the clarification that's been made, is it clear to everyone now?--Kotniski (talk) 17:37, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
What is quite clear is that editors have ignored my previous comments about the recent changes made to ASF. You don't want to make ASF clearer. You want to alter or eliminate the meaning of ASF. QuackGuru (talk) 18:08, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
I don't know what you mean. Can you say what substantial meaning you think would be altered or eliminated if the rewritten version were adopted? --Kotniski (talk) 18:43, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
My previous comments explained there are problems with the rewrite. "Facts which can be verified in reliable sources," is misleading. Opinions can also be verified in reliable sources. The part about "serious dispute among reliable sources" is not accurate. Sometimes one reliable source indicated different views or it could be between only two sources. I went ahead and fixed the problems myself. QuackGuru (talk) 19:41, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Assert Facts: It is more concise, and yet more clear. It could still use some minor improvements, but it is much better than "A Simple Formulation" DigitalC (talk) 21:31, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
No, editors have explained the problems with the altered ASF but you have no valid response to the concerns. The changes in no way made anything clearer. QuackGuru (talk) 22:35, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Assert Facts: as written here is more concise and well written. It does have a few mistakes and since this is such an important section to Wikipedia, we go through it line by line for consensus. On the positive; most of the errors seem to be pointed out below. Alatari (talk) 10:27, 21 May 2010 (UTC)
On the positive; most of the errors seem to be pointed out below? So there are more errors that have not been pointed out yet. Errors are not concise or an improvement. What is the problem with the current ASF version that prompted a complete shift in the core meaning of ASF. QuackGuru (talk) 05:20, 22 May 2010 (UTC)
  • A simple formulation: There are many reasonable concerns with the shorter, vague version and there have been no reasonable suggestions for improvement. Editors have acknowledged there a problems with altering the meaning of ASF but editors have not explained what was the problem with a simple formulation. The shorter version was vague and confusing while the concise version is a lot easier to read. QuackGuru (talk) 02:07, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
  • A simple formulation: shows important clarification about dealing with minority non-expert views, and that's essential enough to keep until all the bugs are sorted out with the "Assert Facts" version. Right at the start of "Assert Facts" it links fact to an article which begins with the erroneous definition "In science, it means a provable concept:!!! Aargh, proof is for maths and whisky. The cited source is as bad – fact (a concept whose truth can be proved) "scientific hypotheses are not facts". If we're defining terms, a wikilink isn't a reliable source. Not good enough. . . dave souza, talk 10:17, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Huh?? That link to fact appears in both versions, so I don't see what it has to do with the question asked. (I'd be happy to see it go, but that's quite another matter.) And I don't know what you mean by "important clasirifcation about dealing with minority non-expert views" - can you indicate what part of the text you mean?--Kotniski (talk) 10:51, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Right at the start "Facts which can be verified in reliable sources,..." is about V. For ASF, it is how we present the verified text. The "Assert facts" disorganised version confounds two different policies. QuackGuru (talk) 18:15, 26 May 2010 (UTC)


diffs The problem is that the large edit may fix some problems but it introduces others. For example the new title is better but adding "or 'Some scientists say...'. " is completely contradicted by the last paragraph: "mass attribution".

I don't see how Lawrencekhoo can say " It's shorter and easier to read" when comparisons of clauses such as this:

  • "Facts can be asserted without an inline qualifier (e.g. 'John Doe believes...').
  • "without any need for a qualifier of the type "John Doe believes..." or "Some scientists say...".

Contradicts that statement. The former is shorter and include "inline qualifier" which is more precise than "qualifier" as without the word inline the text to qualify the statement could be placed in the citation. Intended or not this changing of the wording from "inline qualifier" to "qualifier" alters the meaning of the paragraph.

Also Lawrencekhoo writes "I've just gone through the two versions carefully line by line, and the newer 'Assert Facts' version contains all the relevant arguments made by the old version." But in the first paragraph another example a large change exists between "a piece of information about which there is no serious dispute." and "about which there is no serious dispute among such sources". If there are only a few sources, it is quite possible for the sources to be in agreement, while the information is still an opinion and not a fact. For example a publication may publish an opinion on a person that ends up in a libel case (EG the Irving v. Lipstadt case). With the "A simple formulation" version one can use editorial judgement and know that there will be a "serious dispute" over such a fact. But if only the sources are to be used then that editorial judgement is removed because it can not be shown that there is a serious dispute "among [such] sources". So in the first paragraph alone there have been at least two substantial changes which as far as I can see have not yet been discussed in detail as to whether these changes are intended.

So I think for the moment it is better to keep the "A simple formulation" and alter it statement by statement, with a detailed discussion of the ramifications for each change, rather than making one large edit and voting on which is the best. -- PBS (talk) 21:56, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

Let's just let the RfC process play out, rather than trying to discredit the question. To your points:
  • "qualifier" vs. "inline qualifier". The meaning is not changed, since we are giving an example directly afterward. How would practice be changed by the removal of the word?
  • "Some scientists say" should just be removed from the "Assert Facts" version
  • Requiring disagreement among the sources requires minor or fringe viewpoints to be covered by reliable sources. With the "A simple formulation" version, any editor could come up with a novel theory, and claim that there is a dispute, and thus require in-line attribution for facts about which there is no serious dispute. We can only write what the reliable sources say, so refering to reliable sources here only makes sense.
 --Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 04:43, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
The sentence "On the other hand, statements which express a value or opinion, or a fact about which there is serious dispute among reliable sources, should not be made directly (as if in Wikipedia's voice)..." seems to clearly state that an opinion (value statement) needs to be attributed with an inline qualifier, as does a fact where there is dispute in the sources. If it is NOT an opinion, AND there is no dispute in the sources, then it doesn't need attribution. If it is a BLP concern, it can be removed under BLP. DigitalC (talk) 21:35, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
The whole point of assert facts is that opinions are not opinions if they are qualified with inline attribution because they as they become facts: "So and So said xyz" changes a sentence from expressing an opinion into a fact about who expressed an opinion. See my example below about the DNB, it is not always possible to tell if an opinion is disputed in other reliable sources (because the editors of the article may not have access to many sources), and if it is not possible to tell, the default should be to turn an opinion into a fact by inline attribution and not to leave it in the text as an opinion. That makes assert facts into a npov fail safe system. -- PBS (talk) 22:44, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

So a potential libel about a living person should be left in an article if there are no sources that contradict it? Frequently historians express novel opinions on a subject (that is one of the things that good historians do for a living), those opinions should be attributed inline unless the opinion is so widely held that it is no longer novel. -- PBS (talk) 05:58, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

BLP concerns trump almost everything else, so such libel will likely be immediately removed. In any case, BLP is a separate policy and shouldn't intrude into our discussions here. If you only objection is the change of "about which there is no serious dispute" to "about which there is no serious dispute among such sources", that's easy to fix. Just remove "among such sources" from the assert facts version. LK (talk) 14:02, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
The whole point about inline attribution is that it meant to be a fail safe mechanism. If such views are attributed, then the no libel will exist. I only used BLP as an example to highlight why in-line attribution about opinions are desirable. To expand on my point about historians, which you have chosen not to comment on and so may not have been clear. I have been copying may DNB articles about men of the C17th from Wikisource into Wikipedia. Usually these contain just a string of sentences that cover the primary sources. Eg "He fought at the Battle of xyz and was captured at a skirmish in ABCshire and had his estate compounded after he was found to be a delinquent". All that is factual (and is from primary sources cited in the DNB articles) and can be copied verbatim, but not infrequently the historian will express an opinion or speculation about an issue eg "He may have been involved in the 1655 royalist plots because as he was a friend of xyz who was also an ardent royalist who is known to have corresponded with Penruddock, and he is know to have left the country shortly after the uprisings failed". Now it may be that this is widely published and held view that he was involved in the plots, but with out evidence that it is a widely held view, I would always alter the text to explicitly attribute such speculation to the author of the piece.
"If you only objection is the change ..." No it is not. I just highlighted a couple of point near the top of the text, to show that there were changes in meaning, I did not analysis the rest of the text for changes, because the point that there were changes in meaning between the two version had been made, as I wanted to show to the editors who have written above that the changes to the text did not change the meaning of the section, may not have considered all the potential problems when drawing their conclusions.
In the case of Wikipedia policies the nuances of sentences have often been discussed in the archives in detail and the wording is deliberately as it is because of those discussions. Large changes to sections without a detailed review of the archived discussions on the talk page is always likely to change the meaning in unforeseen ways. This is clearly true in this case, as people have been stating that there are no changes in meaning which is demonstrably not true. Now it may be that those changes in meaning are desirable. But those changes in meaning should be highlighted and agreed before they are made, because large changes to the text which alter the meaning of the text that then has to be retro edited to put back the nuances in meaning, is less efficient and more likely to cause disruption on article talk pages which refer to this section than gradual change to the section. -- PBS (talk) 22:44, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
To talk about "nuances of meaning" here is rather inappropriate, given that the original text is so unclear as to barely have any uniformly understood meaning, let alone nuances (and I'm not saying the revised text is anywhere near perfect either). We will never get anywhere if we just assume that there are changes in meaning without making any effort to point them out, and on those grounds reject any attempt at making things clearer. (Doing it one step at a time might seem desirable, but then someone just comes along and reverts the whole lot for no apparent reason, and everyone's time is wasted - that's happened recently on this page.) I agree with your point about the historical speculation, but I don't see how you're saying it's covered differently (or necessarily at all) in the two proposed versions of the text. How would you phrase this point in the policy to make it absolutely clear to everyone?--Kotniski (talk) 07:59, 21 May 2010 (UTC)
The original text is very clear and this rewrite was in no way an attempt to improve anything. You have made it clear you are against ASF when you mass deleted it and now you want to alter its original meaning. You have not told other editors the reason you are against ASF. Perhaps you could share that with us. QuackGuru (talk) 05:20, 22 May 2010 (UTC)
Please cease these irrelevant personalized distractions and say concretely what you think is wrong with the proposed text.--Kotniski (talk) 10:31, 22 May 2010 (UTC)
Please tell us your reason for deleting the entire ASF section. QuackGuru (talk) 18:46, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

These are reasonable concerns and there have been reasonable suggestions for improvement. But the question at the heart of the matter is whether starting from the more concise "Assert Facts" version would get us to where we want faster than starting from the "A simple formulation" version. Frankly, I find the latter so nebulous and confusing that it's difficult to pin down particular complaints (other than "this doesn't add much; that isn't necessary", which is pretty much what the overhaul does). I consider it evidence of the improvement that we're already having a more engaged and substantive discussion about the revised text than the disjointed conflation of issues represented in the threads above, which were trying to untangle the old text. Rvcx (talk) 14:09, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

I agree with PBS's point that sometimes a statement from just one or a few reliable sources, even if factual in nature and not contradicted by any other sources, might still be too unreliable to include as a direct statement. This is a problem that neither version of the text really addresses, as far as I can see. PBS suggests that it's solved by saying "...serious dispute..." without requiring the serious dispute to be among reliable sources, but I don't think that can be right - if "serious dispute" is not to be interpreted as meaning "among reliable sources", then the whole thing falls apart, as fringe sources or even POV Wikipedia editors can create the impression of a "serious dispute" over even the most widely accepted facts. I would include something like "fact which is not verifiable sufficiently widely among reliable sources as to make it reliable" (or something along those lines) as another type of statement that requires in-text attribution.--Kotniski (talk) 14:19, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

To give a concrete and real example, we know of no reliable source that says anything about Chopin's citizenship except for one, otherwise pretty reliable-seeming, biography that states that at a certain point he "changed his citizenship [to French]". This statement seems dubious for two reasons - firstly that none of the other biographies mention this event (which they would reasonably be expected to, had it occurred), and secondly that it seems illogical based on what we know about the law (he would have been expected to have French "citizenship" from birth, having a French father). So, should it be stated as fact in the article? I would say not.--Kotniski (talk) 14:31, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
If there are no sources saying he was a French citizen from birth, then I don't see any choice but to go with the one source that makes a statement about it. Otherwise, we are doing WP:Original research to come up with his being a citizen at birth. The other choice is that the editors agree that the source is not reliable. Seems to me that such a glaring error would cast doubts on the quality of the source.
Either way, the wording in the section doesn't change the practice in that case. We can't rely on WP editors for the basis of whether or not there is a dispute; only reliable sources can determine whether there is a dispute.  --Joshua Scott (LiberalFascist) 16:19, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
It's not really a "dispute", more of a question of whether the source is in error (even the most reliable sources make mistakes sometimes). Perhaps this is a matter for V rather than NPOV, but since the splitters have decided that matters of in-text attribution are to be addressed at NPOV rather than V, it becomes necessary to discuss it here.--Kotniski (talk) 07:59, 21 May 2010 (UTC)
In either version, I don't care for the statement "A reliable source supporting a statement that a group holds an opinion must accurately describe how large this group is." (Emphasis added) What constitutes accurate? It seems perfectly acceptable to attribute that a source says many scientists, most economists, the majority of people, a minority group, etc hold an opinion. These all appear to be inaccurate descriptions about how large a group is. Morphh (talk) 15:09, 21 May 2010 (UTC)
There are cases where one would not reasonably expect technical details to be in more than one source. An example would be a specification by a software manufacturer about what input a proprietary applications programming interface will accept. In the absence of reported bugs, there would be no reason to doubt the manufacturer. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:34, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
I think this is more a case where the Wikiepdia summary must accurately reflect what the reliable source is saying. If the source says for example if a source says "a majority" that should not be used to say "most", or if the survey says "90% in favour" that does not become "an overwhelming majority" in the Wikiepdia text. In my opinion the wording should be changed to reflect that. -- PBS (talk) 02:34, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
I agree the text needed to be changed to better reflect policy but an editor reverted the change. QuackGuru (talk) 20:49, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
I made an attempt to clarify the text based on PBS's comment. QuackGuru (talk) 22:06, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Substantial changes to ASF

Morphh on 19:47, 27 June 2007 wrote "Looks good to me." Are you having some second thoughts about the major rewrite. See Wikipedia talk:Neutral point of view/Archive 29#Proposed wording for - .22A simple formulation.22. See Wikipedia talk:Neutral point of view/Archive 29#Comments on proposed addition of final draft shown above. Me thinks we need to review the substantial changes made to ASF when fewer editors were watching ASF or NPOV policy. I request editors focus on this possibly controversial edit. I suggest we can improve ASF by correcting any mistakes that have been made in the past. QuackGuru (talk) 07:04, 22 May 2010 (UTC)

"A reliable source supporting a statement that a group holds an opinion must accurately describe how large this group is." This sentence can use an adjustment. QuackGuru (talk) 03:27, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

"A reliable source supporting a statement that a group holds an opinion should accurately reflect what the group is saying." This is the adjusted text. QuackGuru (talk) 20:35, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

It was clearer but an editor reverted it. QuackGuru (talk) 20:50, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

No specific objection was made to the text so I restored it. "A reliable source supporting a statement that a group holds an opinion should accurately describe what the group is saying." This is the adjusted text. QuackGuru (talk) 18:08, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

My comment on 27 June 2007 was not for the paragraph I mentioned above, but for the first sentence in that edit.[7] Kenosis removed the paragraph in the last edit and I agree with his points. I don't think it belongs here. But if reinserted, I'd recommend perhaps only keeping the first line but trimmed. Don't assert that it is not sufficient... Just say something like "Avoid presenting an opinion as fact merely by stating "some people believe...", a practice referred to as "mass attribution"." This is in the "avoid" guidelines. I don't think we want to make this bit policy in NPOV. Morphh (talk) 20:01, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

Remaining problems

Per above consensus, I've restored the preferred text under the title "Assert facts". What problems do people still see with this section?--Kotniski (talk) 09:55, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

I've added the word 'multiple' to "Facts which can be verified in multiple reliable sources," to address the issue brought up above, about how single sources are not enough to back up assertions in the encyclopedic voice. LK (talk) 15:51, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
First, Laurencekhoo's phrase "to address the issue brought up above, about how single sources are not enough to back up assertions in the encyclopedic voice" is inadequate to locate the discussion.
Second, the addition of "multiple" is inappropriate because while it makes sense for major facts which one would expect to find in multiple sources, it does not make sense for technical details which might be hard to find in multiple sources, yet about which there is no serious dispute. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:12, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
I agree that this is potentially an issue, but I'm not sure it can be solved by adding or removing one word. It really belongs to the scope of WP:V, I suppose, if we insist on keeping these two pages separate - but finding something appropriate that can be written might be contentious, since as far as I know it hasn't been addressed in policy before. (Well, there is WP:REDFLAG over at V, but that probably doesn't go as far as it could.) We mean that a statement becomes dubious if it doesn't appear in as many reliable sources as we would expect it to if it were a generally acknowledged fact, or something like that - but can we write that concept into policy?--Kotniski (talk) 16:30, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

Editors ignored there are problems with the rewrite. But editors have not shown the problem with the consensus version. QuackGuru (talk) 18:17, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

Quack, I must once against strongly advise you to take a step back and consider the manner in which you engage with Wikipedia. While other editors have noted problems with both versions of the ASF policy, there is a clear consensus to use the Assert Facts version as a starting point for improvement. An RfC was issued. There were many responses. Discussion died down. The new consensus was implemented. It is entirely inappropriate for you to unilaterally overturn this new consensus, and absurd for you to "fix the problems yourself". If you are unhappy with the new text then I suggest that you describe your specific concerns so that they can be addressed. While you may be unable to detect any problems in the old text, many other editors did and have agreed that the new text (at least partly) addresses many of the problems, for an overall net improvement. Your pattern of obstruction, disruption, and edit-warring must stop. Rvcx (talk) 22:00, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
Editors have not been able to detect any problems in the consensus text, and editors did disagree with new text. Ediotrs ignore the problems and are trying to force changes to policy. You have a pattern of ignoring comments, and edit-warring while ignoring comments by other editors must stop. There was no net improvement. Specific concerns were not addressed by other editors and the new text created many of the problems. My previous comments explained there are problems with the rewrite. "Facts which can be verified in reliable sources," is misleading. Opinions can also be verified in reliable sources. The part about "serious dispute among reliable sources" is not accurate. Sometimes one reliable source indicated different views or it could be between only two sources. Wikipedia is not a vote. When editors ignored the concerns it showed there was a lack of consensus to introduce problems into ASF. QuackGuru (talk) 00:28, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
In the above RfC there is a clear consensus (in fact unanimous, but I guess that's because you didn't comment) to base further editing on the new version. It's absurd to call the old text "consensus" text under these circumstances. I suggest that you think about whether the fact that you are alone defending the old version here might have something to do with the fact that you often run into trouble in Wikipedia when you think you are just defending the policies. It appears to me that you simply misunderstand them, and that in this instance you are defending a formulation that you misunderstood and try to prevent it from being replaced with a new formulation that you can't misunderstand in the same way. Seems an improvement to me. Hans Adler 00:49, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
To talk about nuances of meaning here is rather appropriate, and ignoring the concerns is disruption. In the above RFC there is clearly disagreement in the discussion. This shows a lack of consensus for the incoherent and not understanable version. Wikipedia is never a vote. Hans Adler, you have not addressed the concerns in my previous comments or other comments.[8][9][10] QuackGuru (talk) 00:57, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
If silence means consent, and after editors continue to ignore the above previous concerns and have went silent, there is consensus for a simple formulation. QuackGuru (talk) 02:52, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Editors have not provided a specific response to the above concerns. So, there is broad consensus for a simple formulation. QuackGuru (talk) 17:14, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

"there is a clear consensus to use the Assert Facts version as a starting point for improvement"(Rvcx) and "In the above RfC there is a clear consensus (in fact unanimous, but I guess that's because you didn't comment)" (User:Hans Adler). Can's see how you can come to that conclusion reading the discussion section of the above. A section heading put above my wish to start with the original text and make the changes one by one with discussion for each change. What exactly do editors think has been agreed to change in the original text here on this page? for example the change to "serious dispute among reliable sources"? -- PBS (talk) 02:14, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Beyond the fact that silence means consent, and after a couple of initial comments you went silent, I also did ask you whether you intent to weigh in, and you declined. Frankly, I think that both the support the "assert facts" has from other editors as well as the general opinion that it is clearer and the objective fact that it's much, much shorter all point to the burden being on you to point out exactly what you find wrong with it that isn't wrong with the other text. Is it just this last sentence? If you think it need to be gone through sentence by sentence then please do so, pointing out exactly what differences you find from the old version. Because as far as I can see the old text could be interpreted in any number of ridiculous ways, including what I interpret to be QuackGuru's interpretation as an endorsement of "truth" instead of verifiable viewpoints, some of which are subject to no serious dispute and thus are phrased as fact. Rvcx (talk) 02:37, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
No, you continue to decline to give a direct response to many of the concerns. QuackGuru (talk) 02:44, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Note. The sentence that addresses serious dispute is "Reliable sources can determine whether "a matter is subject to dispute" when there is opposing views." QuackGuru (talk) 02:27, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Next Steps?

This is getting ridiculous. As far as I can see, everyone but User_talk:QuackGuru sees problems with the "A simple formulation" text, and everyone but User:Philip_Baird_Shearer and QG thinks that the best way to fix these problems is to start with the "Assert facts" version. Obviously since QG sees nothing wrong with the old text he won't discuss how to fix it, and PBS hasn't offered any follow-up on his suggestion to go through the old text "statement by statement" to address the problems. We've been through a full RfC process (which neither of them deigned to clearly weigh in on) to get outside opinions and it's been overwhelmingly in favor of the "assert facts" text, but both of them seem determined to edit-war to defend the "a simple formulation" text, which clearly is not supported by consensus. Anyone want to suggest a reasonable way forward on this? Rvcx (talk) 02:17, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

You are not engaging in the discussion properly. There are many concerns which were ignored. QuackGuru (talk) 02:20, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
I am sorry I don't under stand Rvcx, what does "which neither of them deigned to clearly weigh in on" mean? My reasonable way forward on this is to change the text sentence by sentence. Not already that the text now being inserted is not the text that was initially put up for the RFC which suggests that this process is already morphing towards a compromise. -- PBS (talk) 02:28, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
This is how WP works. I changed the text that was up for RfC in order to address the concern you expressed - now you're complaining that the text was changed? I really have no idea what your objection is at the moment. Changing sentence by sentence has been tried before, but someone always comes along and unilaterally reverts the whole lot and destroys everyone's work.--Kotniski (talk) 07:34, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
You've been around long enough to know what clearing weighing in on an RfC with two options means. Other editors obviously have gone through the "a simple formulation" text sentence by sentence, and changed it to come up with the "assert facts" version. I strongly encourage you to go through the "assert facts" version sentence by sentence and suggest changes. But just arguing "no; start over" when everyone else agrees that the new text is a step in the right direction, and when discussion has moved on to small details of the new text, just feels like a way to stall progress. I feel, and apparently many other editors feel, that the "a simple formulation" text is subject to disruptive misinterpretation; it is not supported by consensus. In that case isn't the best thing to do to replace it and work from there? Rvcx (talk) 02:47, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
You have not responded to my previous concerns. The continued vague objections seems to mean you don't really have a problem with a simple formulation. On the other hand, editors have made specific objections to the "assert facts" vague version. QuackGuru (talk) 03:01, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
PBS, The trouble with trying to start editing from the "a simple formulation" text and change sentence by sentence, is that the "a simple formulation" version is not very well organized. It jumps from idea to idea. Not only is it not a good base to work from, it would make moving in the right direction extremely difficult, as sometimes the smallest step possible would be to rearrange multiple sentences at once (which would trigger an edit war, and bring us to an impasse again). I think the easiest, most productive way forward is to make a fair and complete rewrite for organization and clarity, and then hash out the problems. Which is what the "assert facts" version does. Can I respectfully suggest that you support the rest of us here in this, and try to work forward from the "assert facts" version? LK (talk) 04:43, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
You have not determined any specific problems with "a simple formulation". Do you agree editors have identified many problems with the "assert facts" vague version. QuackGuru (talk) 04:48, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

I'm left with absolutely no idea what the issue is now. Can someone say clearly and without rhetoric, what the problem(s) are with the new version that would be solved by going back to the old version. (Because in terms of clarity and logical structure, there seems to be general agreement that the new version is superior.)--Kotniski (talk) 07:31, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Please?? --Kotniski (talk) 11:04, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Okay, so there's definitely no consensus for the "a simple formulation" version, and apparently some editors have concerns about the "assert facts" version. It is significant, however, that almost all of these concerns are applicable to the "a simple formulation" version as well. Until we find some version on which we can agree, I've retracted the section: no version currently has consensus. Rvcx (talk) 11:32, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

I've set up a sandbox "assert facts" version at [11]. Let's try to edit that into a consensus version and then slot it in here. Rvcx (talk) 11:37, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Which ever version is on the policy page it is not appropriate to remove the section completely because while we are discussing this other editors will still be using WP:ASF on talk page of articles. If I was not involved in this discussion and discovered that the section had been removed while a new version was discussed in a sandbox I would not be amused. For this reason I have reverted the removal. -- PBS (talk) 11:44, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
That's all very well, but more to the point, can you explain what your current objection(s) are to the rewritten version? No-one else seems to be able to formulate any.--Kotniski (talk) 11:48, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Can you explain what was the objection to the consensus version. We start with a simple formulation. If you can't provided an objection then there is no problem. It seems you object to defining facts and opinions. Is that the reason why you are mixing different sentences together and trying to add "Facts which can be verified in reliable sources" which is about V and not ASF. QuackGuru (talk) 18:00, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Differences between new and old versions


The first substantive change is

  • By "fact" we mean "a piece of information about which there is no serious dispute."
  • "Facts which can be verified in reliable sources, and about which there is no serious dispute among such sources, can be asserted directly in Wikipedia articles."

Is the new formulation clear or not cleared than the old wording? Do we need to include verified. Is that not implied in the text higher up this policy page? -- PBS (talk) 11:53, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Well, the old version fails to make it clear that the dispute must be in reliable sources. Perhaps verifiability is mentioned elsewhere, but if we leave it out here, then people may misinterpret this section if they read it out of context. So definitely the old version is inferior here, if only because of its totally bogus definition of "fact" (though I'm not saying I know of any good definition of fact, which is why the rewritten version doesn't include one - if anyone's got one, then we can consider including it).--Kotniski (talk) 12:02, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
But the dispute doesn't have to be in reliable sources (although, strangely that is the way QuackGuru wants it interpreted). If a source says "New York city is the most beautiful city in North America", we know without having to go to other sources that this is not a fact, that it is an opinion. (talk) 20:25, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
I find the old wording extremely unclear; it's quite important that the "serious dispute" be between reliable sources and not just individual editor opinions. The first version can be read as an excuse for any editor to rock up, dispute something, and then claim that because they've disputed it it can't be asserted as a fact. I've edited the version in my sandbox to call them "objective facts". Fact is a useful word but we shouldn't get sidetracked by nuance; all we need it to mean here is "piece of information". If we were relying on the connotation that facts are objective and not subjective then we may as well just make it explicit to remove ambiguity and move on. Rvcx (talk) 12:03, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
The older version is better because it does define a fact in a clearer way. It is confusing to mix different sentences together. "Facts which can be verified in reliable sources," is about V. This is confounding two different policies. This is confusing especially to new editors. QuackGuru (talk) 17:45, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Everything in WP has to be verifiable, restating it here is a diversion from a simple statement and distracts from the clear distinction being drawn in ASF. . . dave souza, talk 17:52, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

The second change is:

  • For example, that a survey produced a certain published result would be a fact. That there is a planet called Mars is a fact. That Plato ...
  • For example, that a survey produced a certain published result, that there is a planet called Mars, or that Plato ...

This seems to be concatenating two sentences which changes the meaning of both. -- PBS (talk) 11:58, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Maybe it could be phrased better, but the old version is still inferior, because what it's doing here is not saying anything about Wikipedia editing, but just trying to illustrate its already inappropriate definition of "fact".--Kotniski (talk) 12:04, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
I simply can't parse this criticism. What is the semantic distinction between "For example, X is a fact. Y is a fact. Z is a fact." and "For example, X, Y, and Z are facts." ??? If your reading is that Y and Z weren't previously taken as examples, then I'd say that's yet another clear problem with the old version; they are examples. Rvcx (talk) 12:05, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
It is the full stop. The older version is saying. It is fact that a that a survey produced a certain published result. FULL STOP. It is a fact that Mars is a planet. They are two different examples. The newer version says "a survey produced a certain published result, that there is a planet called Mars" is one fact it does not say that there is a planet called Mars. The point is there is no need to assert information like the "sun rises in the east" or for that matter provide a reliable source to support it. -- PBS (talk) 12:57, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Well no, there is a need to assert the information (I presume that's what you meant), but this isn't about whether a reliable source should be provided to support it (that's the domain of WP:V, and in principle a source should be provided, which would be very easy). I agree about the punctuation, but other than that, the older version is still inferior because it's trying to define "fact" in a confused way (the text from the newer version is not trying to define "fact", it's giving examples of directly assertable statements, which is what we're really interested in here).--Kotniski (talk) 13:04, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
"and in principle a source should be provided" No, it has been generally agreed that information that is not contested does not need a sourced, and in practice if an editor was to try insist on such facts being sourced the consensus would be against them. -- PBS (talk) 22:26, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
It is confusing again to mix different sentences together. The older version was phrased better. QuackGuru (talk) 17:49, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
I agree with QuackGuru on this one, the new wording changes the meaning of the old wording and concatenating the two sentences just because they were next to each other seems to me to be a misreading of the old text and producing something different. It reminds me of this little change to a Russian telex that once saved a man's life "I LIKE HIM NOT. TO BE EXECUTED" "I LIKE HIM. NOT TO BE EXECUTED". -- PBS (talk) 21:45, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Agree with PBS and QG, running the examples together just produces confusion. . . dave souza, talk 17:52, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

The third change is:

  • By value or opinion, (Opinions involve both matters of fact and value; see fact-value distinction.) on the other hand, we mean "a matter which is subject to dispute." There are many propositions that very clearly express values or opinions. That stealing is wrong is a value or opinion. That The Beatles were the greatest band in history is an opinion. That the United States is the only country in the world that has used a nuclear weapon during wartime is a fact. That the United States was right or wrong to drop the atomic bomb over Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a value or opinion. However, there are bound to be borderline cases (see Undue weight) where it is not clear if a particular dispute should be taken seriously and included.
  • On the other hand, statements which express a value or opinion, or a fact about which there is serious dispute among reliable sources, should not be made directly (as if in Wikipedia's voice). For example, an article should not assert directly that stealing is wrong, or that The Beatles were the greatest band in history.

My problem with this change is that it introduces "dispute among reliable sources" this is something I discussed above, the fail-safe should be use inline attribution for opinions unless the can be shown to be no dispute over it. But in principle I think this paragraph can lose most of the examples and keep just the Beatles example although I would keep the atom bomb example as well as it shows the difference between fact and opinion in a slightly different way. -- PBS (talk) 12:09, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

I don't mind including another example; but the "dispute among reliable sources" is an essential improvement I think - we should not be forced to rewrite articles because of some dispute which is not reflected in reliable sources (at least, not that I can think of - can you give an example of what you have in mind?)--Kotniski (talk) 12:12, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Then you are interpreting both versions incorrectly: opinions should not be asserted, regardless of whether they are disputed or not. Even if everyone who had ever lived agreed that the Beatles were awesome, the policy prohibits Wikipedia from calling them awesome because that's a subjective judgement. There is a separate condition that applies to objective facts: those that are agreed on by all reliable sources should be asserted; those that are not should not. Rvcx (talk) 12:15, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Yes, this is the essential point that the old version was all mixed up over. (I suspect there should be another condition as well, something about "surprising" statements that have only a few sources to support them, but that hasn't been addressed anywhere yet.)--Kotniski (talk) 12:27, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

My problem with this change is that it introduces "dispute among reliable sources" this is something I discussed above, the fail-safe should be use inline attribution for opinions unless the can be shown to be no dispute over it. But in principle I think this paragraph can lose most of the examples and keep just the Beatles example although I would keep the atom bomb example as well as it shows the difference between fact and opinion in a slightly different way. -- PBS (talk) 12:09, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

On re-reading it I could live with it but I would want to break it out the clause "or a fact about which there is serious dispute among reliable sources," and the preamble so it read

"Statements which express a value or opinion, must not be made directly in the passive narrative voice of the article."

See my comment on fourth change about "must" and "should". --PBS (talk) 12:44, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Some doubts about this – in some ways the proposed revision gets more quickly to the point, but then starts specifying examples and saying what to do with them without noting that they're values or opinions, as is clearly shown in the older text The A-bomb is a good example of the distinction between fact and the value or opinion, and the sentence on borderline cases is important. . . dave souza, talk 17:52, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

Fourth change

  • Values or opinions must never be written as if they were in Wikipedia's voice. When we want to state an opinion, we convert that opinion into a fact by attributing the opinion to a person, organization, group of persons, or percentage of persons, and discuss the fact that they have this opinion, citing a reliable source for the fact that the person, organization, group or percentage of persons holds the particular opinion.
  • ?

See my comment above. As far as I can tell the second half of the sentence is covered in the new version under the subsection "Don't misrepresent the relative prominence of views reported" -- PBS (talk) 12:44, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

"When we want to state an opinion, we convert that opinion into a fact by attributing the opinion to a person, organization, group of persons, or percentage of persons, and discuss the fact that they have this opinion, citing a reliable source for the fact that the person, organization, group or percentage of persons holds the particular opinion."
"It is perfectly acceptable, however, to state the fact that a person, organization, group of persons, or percentage of persons holds a particular opinion."
A simple formulation has an important clarification. "When we want to state an opinion, we convert that opinion into a fact by attributing..." This explains what an editor should do when it is an opinion. This is the whole point to ASF. Assert facts and attribute the opinions.
The Assert facts version is confusing. It says "to state the fact that a person..." This does not define an opinion and implies to attribute facts. This contradicts the current meaning of ASF. QuackGuru (talk) 18:35, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
The paragraph as before is useful and gives clear guidance which is lacking in the "Assert facts" version. . . dave souza, talk 18:03, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

Fifth change:

  • Don't misrepresent the relative prominence of views reported.'

Personally I think that the new wording is preferable to the older wording. But I would like anyone who does not to point out what emphasis they think has changed and may change my opinion if they point out something I have missed. -- PBS (talk) 12:44, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

It seems that the main objection that PBS has to the newer version is the issue of "dispute among reliable sources". IMO, we should keep the old wording of "no serious dispute" for now, and leave the question of how to fix it for later. It'll be easier to move forward, if we just aim at a new version that is shorter, clearer and better organized, but does not change the policy at all. LK (talk) 13:58, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
OK as a first step, but PBS has struck out his comment above about "among reliable sources" - does that mean there isn't any further dispute over that point? (I don't think it really changes the policy, just clarifies it - I'm sure it was never the intention to consider disputes anywhere other than in reliable sources - at least, I'd like to hear examples of any other kind of dispute we might be considering.)--Kotniski (talk) 14:18, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
No see my comment above that starts "On re-reading it I could live with it but I would want to break it out the clause ..." There are two major changes I want to see made to the sentence.-- PBS (talk) 21:37, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
I feel strongly that it should be clarified that it's "serious dispute among reliable sources" that is necessary to disqualify a fact from being presented in Wikipedia's voice, but I've struck off "among reliable sources" from the two places it occurred in my sandbox version, and reordered the examples to make it even clearer that the survey isn't about Mars (although standard rules of grammar and punctuation didn't leave much ambiguity, IMO). Rvcx (talk) 15:11, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
The sentence that clarified serious dispute is "Reliable sources can determine whether "a matter is subject to dispute" when there is opposing views." I previously wrote this but it was ignored again. QuackGuru (talk) 17:17, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
"Facts which can be verified in reliable sources, and about which there is no serious dispute among such sources, can be asserted directly in Wikipedia articles."
This sentennce is confusing. This is mixing too many things together. "Facts which can be verified in reliable sources," is incorrect. Opinions can also be verified in reliable sources. That part about "serious dispute among reliable sources" is also incorrect. There could be a oppossing views between two sources. A serious dispute among reliable sources is covered with this sentence. QuackGuru (talk) 17:31, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Don't misrepresent the relative prominence of views reported.
Don't misrepresent the relevant prominence of opposing views.
I think "Don't misrepresent the relevant prominence of opposing views." is better written. QuackGuru (talk) 17:36, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Yes, perhaps, as a lead sentence. But about "mixing things together" in the same sentence, we simply must do this if we are to present this policy correctly. I know there are many people who can't hold more than one idea in their heads at one time, but those people are never going to get this policy however hard we try. There are several conditions (and not black-and-white conditions either) that need to be satisfied for us to be able to state something without inline attribution. The current version tries to dodge this by pretending that these conditions are equivalent ("subject to dispute" = "value or opinion"), and then goes all over the place trying to cover up for the illogicalities that produces. And saying "facts which can be verified..." means precisely that - those facts which can be verified - it doesn't say "facts, i.e. things which can be verified...", so it doesn't preclude the possibility that opinions can be verified as well. --Kotniski (talk) 18:53, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Where the sentence (Don't misrepresent the relevant prominence of opposing views.) is currently is fine. Mixing things together introduces too many ideas at once. Mixing things up is incoherent and changes the meaning of the sentences. Editors do understand this policy. But the proposed changes will make it impossible to understand. The current version clearly defines a serious dispute and value or opinion. The rewrite contradicts the current meaning of ASF. It says "to state the fact that a person..." This does not define an opinion and implies to attribute facts. Saying "facts which can be verified..." is not about ASF. It will confuse editors. I pointed out the problems with the proposal. QuackGuru (talk) 19:18, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Where does the current version clearly define a "serious dispute" and "value or opinion"? Apart from saying that the two cases are the same thing, which we have established many times is simply wrong. --Kotniski (talk) 19:42, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
The first paragraph defines a serioius dispute and the second paragraph defines a value or opinion. The third paragraph clarifies opinions.QuackGuru (talk) 19:45, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Er... where does the first paragraph define a serious dispute? It just doesn't. The second paragraph does define a "value or opinion", but totally wrongly. The third paragraph then says what to do about opinions, but clearly using the word differently than it's just been (wrongly) defined. Can't you see how obviously illogical this all is?--Kotniski (talk) 19:56, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
The first paragraph clearly explains what are facts. That is enough in the first. The second paragraph is clear to me. The third is also clear. QuackGuru (talk) 20:30, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
After reading Kotniski comments, I made it even more clearer but it was reverted without explanation. QuackGuru (talk) 20:54, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Quack, please stop this. Until you actually acknowledge and understand the issues that are being raised you are in no position to "clarify". Facts about competing views are not "a matter which is subject to dispute"; in fact the whole point of the policy is that facts about views are still facts. You also seem to miss the distinction between "competing views", which can be opposed but not necessarily in contradiction, and "disputed facts". Further, your definition of an opinion as "a statement which does not express a fact" is...let's just say incomplete. Rvcx (talk) 21:03, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Rvcx now disagress with Kotniski comments and prefers the older version. Facts about competing views or disputed facts are "a matter which is subject to dispute". Further, the definition of an opinion as "a statement which does not express a fact" is clearer. QuackGuru (talk) 21:10, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
No, Quack, you are still not understanding. If person A thinks B and person C thinks D, and B and D are competing views, then "A thinks B" and "C thinks D"—facts about competing views—are not (necessarily) subject to dispute. Each of the two views may be under dispute, but the facts about the views are not. This is the most important and fundamental part of this policy. You really need to understand it if you're going to make any contributions of value here. Rvcx (talk) 21:15, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
The whole point of the policy is that facts about competing views are facts that should be attributed. When there is a dispute over facts it is "a matter which is subject to dispute". This defines when in-text attribution may be required. QuackGuru (talk) 21:18, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
I'm afraid what you say is totally incoherent to me. Can someone else who understands and supports QG's viewpoint have a go at explaining it in clearer terms? --Kotniski (talk) 06:22, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
When there are disputed facts it is "a matter which is subject to dispute". QuackGuru (talk) 06:50, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
The recent changes altered the meaning of ASF. QuackGuru (talk) 07:22, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
Hopefully they clarified it. Is there anything in the "new meaning" you disagree with? --Kotniski (talk) 07:25, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
Hopefully you will revert all your edits. The new meaning altered the meaning of ASF. If this continues it would actually be better not to have ASF to avoid confusing editors and damaging Wikipedia articles. QuackGuru (talk) 07:31, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
Please explain what you mean. "The new meaning altered the meaning of ASF" doesn't tell us anything. What "alteration of meaning" can you identify, and why do you disagree with it?--Kotniski (talk) 07:32, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
The new meaning altered the meaning of ASF. How about you explain why you are continuing to alter the meaning of ASF. QuackGuru (talk) 07:35, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
OK, you're not going to say anything constructive. Can anyone else??--Kotniski (talk) 07:42, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
Can you tell us why are you creating a new meaning which altered the definition of ASF. What was your objection to ASF. Can you identify your problem with long standing meaning of ASF. QuackGuru (talk) 07:54, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
I cleaned up the changes made to ASF. The new meaning altered ASF and was confusing. I made substle adjustemnts that clarified the meaning. QuackGuru (talk) 18:05, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
Over the last two months editors have tried to eliminate ASF. Now the entire meaning of ASF has changed without explanation. The changes were incoherent and will confuse editors. If editors can't eliminate ASF then it seems like they want to alter its meaning. QuackGuru (talk) 18:16, 30 May 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, I still don't know what you're talking about. The original was incoherent - certainly the "fact is a piece of information about which there is no serious dispute" was wrong, as apparently everyone has agreed by now. You seem to have some sort of attachment to this text, so I've tried to make it as close as possible to the original, but eliminating the obvious logical absurdities. Do you still have some specific objection to the version as it is now?--Kotniski (talk) 18:28, 30 May 2010 (UTC)

Certainly the original meaning was right such as "fact is a piece of information about which there is no serious dispute". You eliminated its meaning. This eliminated the core part of ASF. The change to eliminate ASF is far away from the original meaing. On the other hand, no specific objection was made to the changes I made. QuackGuru (talk) 18:44, 30 May 2010 (UTC)
Again, I made another change but no specific objection was made to the text on this talk page. QuackGuru (talk) 16:42, 2 June 2010 (UTC)


A simple formulation has consensus. We should work from that version because it was pointed out that the vague and disorganised version has too many problems. I don't see problems with a simple formulation. QuackGuru (talk) 18:50, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

No-olne's yet pointed out a serious problem with the new version, while they certainly have pointed out problems with the old one. Also more editors support the new version. So with respect, if anything, you have it entirely the wrong way round. (But we're not constrained to choosing between the two versions - if we can work on the current version without knee-jerk reverting anything anyone tries to change, we can mvoe towards to a version that explains everything clearly and satisfactorily.)--Kotniski (talk) 18:56, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Serious problems have been pointed out with the proposed text. Editors cannot point out problems with ASF. We have already started from a simple formulation and a few minor changes were made. QuackGuru (talk) 19:07, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Even without commenting further on specifics, agree that the proposed text is less clear than the ASF version and has problems, so no consensus for the proposal. . . .dave souza, talk 18:06, 28 May 2010 (UTC)
Editors are have already rewritten policy and a paragraph was deleted without consensus. QuackGuru (talk) 18:51, 28 May 2010 (UTC)
In trying to get back to a more agreed version, I've ended up with deletion of the paragraph, which I thought was discussed, and with other minor changes.[12] If these changes are objectionable, then I'm willing to revert further and review specific points. Regarding the deleted paragraph, I'm inclined to agree with the edit summary of "Removing one paragraph which is unnecessary and very debatable. This material is for the WP:MOS guidelines WP:WTW, WP:WEASEL, WP:SOURCES and WP:IRS" but am open to discussion. . . dave souza, talk 20:56, 28 May 2010 (UTC)
I appreciated seeing this edit. That is a statement of something I think most experienced editors would agree has been part of the community experience with content policy, and which I also think would be helpful to new editors reading ASF for the first time. ... Kenosis (talk) 02:02, 29 May 2010 (UTC)
Mass attribution is a NPOV dispute. I included with the mass attributiuon text "without giving "excessive weight" to minority views." to clarify not to give excessive weight to minor views. QuackGuru (talk) 22:02, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

"Objective statements"

By what criteria do people judge the supposed "objectivity" of statements under the new "assert facts" language instituted here? The original criteria was measurable to some extent, because we can actually do a lit review of something and see what reliable sources claim. By adding the criteria that statements have to also be "objective" the policy actually becomes open to more bickering and haggling over what it means for a fact to be objective. People will start claiming that statements which are not under dispute are not actually "objective" ... just "majority opinions". This language is going to turn the encyclopedia into a he said she said mess because fringe POV pushers will use it to their advantage. We need measurable criteria.Griswaldo (talk) 01:39, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

A few editors are trying to alter the meaning of ASF. I think we should keep it simple instead of creating a new meaning. I think this version is a simple formulation that clarified ASF. QuackGuru (talk) 01:52, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
So how would you phrase it? Clearly there needs to be some criterion of the "objective vs. subjective" nature, as has been pointed out interminably during these discussions - that's the whole point of this section anyway, as the examples show. Even if all the sources that take a position on the issue say that "stealing is wrong" or "Boggsville is beautiful", we still don't make those statements straight up in Wikipedia - we require in-text attribution for that sort of thing. Now, how to express it? Fact vs. value, fact vs. characterization, objective vs. subjective, ....? But if we 're not going to express it at all, then this whole section needs to be deleted, as it would simply be wrong. (I've inserted "factual" for now, since "objective" was removed.)--Kotniski (talk) 09:18, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
Kotniski, now we have "By fact, we mean a factual statement ..." Really? A fact is a "factual statement"? The whole point is to provide a guideline to help users identify what a fact is. This requires a measurable criteria if it is going to be useful. There is no need to muddy the waters with other terms that are open for interpretation like "objective". Don't you see how silly it is in the current formulation? You say ... this is what a fact is ... and then you introduce another term that needs further interpretation into the mix. If a fact is a "factual statement" then the definition of a fact is still open for interpretation. Clearly.Griswaldo (talk) 12:09, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
Well yes, this is the problem with people insisting on keeping the old wording. What we should do is replace Assert facts... with something like Assert uncontroversial facts.... But since they (he) insist(s) on retaining the "Assert facts" meme, we have to make our own special definition of the word "fact" to make it fit our slogan. Sick I know, but this is how WP policy is written, and we have to make the best of it. What word do you suggest if you don't like "factual" or "objective"?--Kotniski (talk) 12:47, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
I think we're dealing with three classes of statements here instead of three: things that are true (facts), things that aren't necessarily true but could be (controversial assertions), and things for which "truth" isn't well-defined (subjective judgements/values/opinions). Trying to shoehorn all three into just two terms will be problematic no matter how you try to reclassify the middle category. Rvcx (talk) 14:27, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
I suggest no such words at all. I thought I made that clear. Fact is itself enough. I'd rather have "uncontroversial facts" in there than "objective statement" or "factual statement", but what follows already explains that they are uncontroversial.Griswaldo (talk) 15:01, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
As I see it, the intent of the section is to say that controversial information needs to be phrased as a "statement of opinion" and not as a "statement of fact". Perhaps we should focus more on word "opinion" and less on the word "fact". Blueboar (talk) 13:01, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
I agree to a large extent, but as I see it we need clear language about when it is OK to write in the voice of the encyclopedia without attribution. What I don't like about some of the changes that have been proposed, and specifically the one I've taken issue with here, is that it makes this more difficult. If anything we need to make this less difficult.Griswaldo (talk) 13:15, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
We need to make it more clear, certainly, but not by saying something we don't mean just because it contains fewer words. If people would let me rip apart their sacred text, I could write it much more clearly and accurately, but unfortunately all attempts to do that anywhere on this page seem to get reverted. (We've already decided once to totally rewrite this whole section, but the minority who oppose the change seem more determined to get their way, so the change doesn't happen.)--Kotniski (talk) 13:35, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
Kotniski already decided to rewrite this section to eliminate the meaning of ASF. The first paragraph is about facts. This text was redundant and will only confuse other editors. QuackGuru (talk) 16:37, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

"A simple formulation"

I see someone's reverted the title of this section back to "A simple formulation". Why? Surely it can't be called "simple" if it apparently needs a dedicated FAQ entry in order to explain it; and it can only be called a "formulation" if it really does cover the whole policy in a nutshell (which I don't think it does; it focuses on two important points, but I don't think those two points cover it). This mode of argument that "I don't need to justify what I do as long as I'm reverting back to something that existed previously" is continuing to harm this page.--Kotniski (talk) 09:13, 16 June 2010 (UTC)

Note that the original title change was made by DigitalC, and that I proposed the change (and section move) in the Headings section, above, almost a week ago. Unless someone can articulate an objection I'm tempted to just change it back. Rvcx (talk) 10:17, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
"A simple formulation" is one of the earliest contributions on the wiki. Submitted by User:The Cunctator in December 2001 in a basic form that it still roughly retains today, it was originally called "An alternative formulation", Here it is at the end of 2003. In 2004 its title was changed to "A simple formulation". Here's a link to ASF as it existed at the end of 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007. In 2007 the words "We sometimes give an alternative formulation of the policy" were removed and since then the section has started with the words "Assert facts, including facts about opinions..." but always has remained an alternative explanation to give primarily those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the various policy provisions a rough perspective on the entire policy. For at least four years now it has consistently been placed in "Explanation of the neutral point of view", all the while titled "A simple explanation" and all the while being essentially an alternative relatively brief explanation of the NPOV policy. In short it's really still "an alternative explanation" of the whole NPOV policy in relatively simple terms with relatively simple examples. Given its long history, I don't believe an extremely WP:CONLIMITED movement such as here, which, at present, asserts essentially "it's not simple", is adequate warrant to change either its title or its placement. The title "Assert facts" is, moreover, not an accurate title for what this section is, giving the reader as it does a quick explanation of WP:WEIGHT, WP:GEVAL, etc. and also gives a quick intro to the concept of WP:SOURCES and WP:V in general. ... Kenosis (talk) 22:23, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
But Kenosis, it clearly doesn't do those things. The notion that facts should be asserted and opinions converted into facts via attribution is not a summary of "neutral point of view". This is just one technique for achieving a neutral point of view, not a summary of the entire thing. It doesn't explain reliable sources, it doesn't explain verifiability, and it would be downright misleading to suggest that accurate attribution ("don't misrepresent the prominence...") is anything like the same as the undue weight policy (which is about how much attention should be given to certain aspects of a topic, not how those aspects are described). If you think the summary of NPOV which immediately precedes this section should be expanded then feel free to give it a try, but pretending the text says things it doesn't is not helpful. Rvcx (talk) 22:59, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
Right that ASF doesn't explain all aspects of the things you mention--it merely introduces some of the basics as "an alternative formulation". Or call it "an alternative explanation" if you prefer. Traditionally it's been called "A simple formulation", presenting simple, casual, basically non-controversial examples that are primarily useful for the newbie. The rest of us rely on specific sections of NPOV to resolve content disputes and language issues, e.g. WEIGHT, YESPOV, GEVAL, etc. These are presented in the "Achieving neutrality" section, the core of the policy if you will, the policy technique for achieving NPOV. ASF only gives a rough sketch and links out to several important policy provisions, which is quite consistent with its long-standing name "A simple formulation". Anyway, I doubt there's much more I can say here, except that if there's going to be a significant change in the basic structure of this core content policy, it will need broad community consensus, not just a few complaints here on this page. Sorry but lacking something truly compelling, that's my take on this issue. ... Kenosis (talk) 01:31, 17 June 2010 (UTC)
You really do just seem to be arguing that it should be like that because it's old. The way this policy page is structured is a disaster - it fails to provide clear prescriptive rules that can be used to resolve disputes, AND it fails to explain things to newbies in a way they can understand. It's mainly just a load of waffling text that wastes the time (and possibly the valuable good will) of anyone who comes to read it. What you say sounds like an idealistic vision of what the policy could be, not what it is. If "A simple formulation" is simple, why do we need a special FAQ entry to explain it, and why have experienced WP editors been arguing about its meaning for months?--Kotniski (talk) 12:38, 17 June 2010 (UTC)
In my personal judgement the main reason it's been problematic is because of its central reliance on the word "fact", which always gives rise to epistemological questions because there are so many different ways of viewing what is fact. The second big limitation is its reliance on "opinion" to describe what we ordinarily refer to as POVs. In the end, parse it however we may like, the section ends up pretty much where it originally started, as "an alternative formulation" of the policy. ... Kenosis (talk) 13:09, 17 June 2010 (UTC)
An alternative to what? Are you saying that the substance of the whole policy is equivalent to "assert facts not opinions" plus "don't misrepresent the prominence of views"? If so, what do we need the rest of the policy for? But as I see it, there are other things in the policy as well as those two things, and the section you want to call "A simple formulation" (apart from not being simple, as we've already pointed out) is also not a "formulation" (of the policy) - it's one of the component parts of the policy.--Kotniski (talk) 13:26, 17 June 2010 (UTC)
RE Are you saying that the substance of the whole policy is equivalent to "assert facts not opinions" plus "don't misrepresent the prominence of views" : No, I'm saying "A simple formulation", in addition to being the long-standing accepted title of this section, is not an unreasonable title. You essentially just said so yourself. But I need to get back to "RL" now. Talk with ya later on. ... Kenosis (talk) 13:31, 17 June 2010 (UTC)
Where did I say that myself? I said it's not simple, and it's not a "formulation" of the policy. So no, it isn't a reasonable title - its age doesn't mean anything, probably no-one really thought about it much before (or if they did, they were fobbed off with similar "it's always been this way" type arguments).--Kotniski (talk) 13:56, 17 June 2010 (UTC)
It is an unreasonable title, because it clearly isn't simple. As Kotniski has pointed out, it also isn't a formluation of the policy. As for CONLIMITED, see also WP:CCC - and remember that there clearly wasn't consensus to change it back to "A Simple Formulation" even if that is what is has historically been called DigitalC (talk) 16:47, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

No valid reason was given to change the title. It is not just about Assert facts. It was A simple formulation until the ASF formulation was drastically changed. QuackGuru (talk) 17:03, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

The section is not simply about Assert facts. So that makes the section titile incorrect. There were objections. It is a formulation on how to present the verfied text. "A simple formulation" makes the most sense. QuackGuru (talk) 02:15, 24 June 2010 (UTC)

This change should be reverted right away. "A simple formulation" has been the section title for close to a decade without any objection. QuackGuru (talk) 06:55, 24 June 2010 (UTC)

This is getting a bit ridiculous at this point. There was never a problem with the title in the first place. QuackGuru (talk) 19:13, 24 June 2010 (UTC)

Isn't it iconic?

I frequently come across the word "iconic" in various Wikipedia articles. In most cases it serves as a synonym for "amazing" and, as such, violates WP:NPOV. The term has become so overused as to become meaningless (and possibly my comments about it overlap with WP:MOS concerns). One expects to find "iconic" used to describe cotton swabs, facial hair and noodles. In fact I think it might be easier to make a short List of things that are not iconic. I am suggesting that the word "iconic" be stricken from the English Wikipedia. Knowing that this is unlikely, at best, I propose the following:

Any use of the word "iconic" that does not appear in a direct quote – or (at least) backed up with an attribution – can and should be deleted on sight, given the NPOV policy.

The same goes for cultural icon. "Iconic:" it's the new fnord. -- Gyrofrog (talk) 19:20, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

'Iconic' used properly - to signify a broadly-known originating exemplar - is a perfectly fine word. for instance, the Exxon-Valdez oil spill is the iconic oil disaster; the current gulf spill (though larger) cannot properly be referred to as iconic. simply remind people of the correct usage of the term.
Please don't try to destroy my language because you are annoyed that people use it badly. Face-angel.svg --Ludwigs2 20:16, 21 June 2010 (UTC)
the Exxon-Valdez oil spill is the iconic oil disaster -- This sounds utterly bizarre to me. What does "iconic" mean here: "best-known", perhaps? Or exactly what was or is the iconographic angle that's being referred to? -- Hoary (talk) 22:27, 21 June 2010 (UTC)
Iconic means - as I said - that something is a prominent and original exemplar of a more general concept. it comes from religious use, where icons were made of saints and other holy figures, who were considered to be exemplars of correct behavior, and got extended to any person or object that was considered to be a prime example of something (Marilyn Monroe was a hollywood icon; the flag raising on Iwo Jima is a photographic icon). it's usually reserved for positive exemplars, but is occasionally applied to negative ones as well. --Ludwigs2 22:46, 21 June 2010 (UTC)
In your example, I would say that "iconic" is synonymous with "quintessential" (def. 3). (In other words, why not just say "quintessential?") Again, more often than not, the word is used (on Wikipedia) such that "iconic" is synonymous with "amazing" (i.e. it violates NPOV). In any case, I think such qualifiers should be backed up with quotes or references, or deleted (the same way I would not expect to see "unfortunately" or "atrocious" outside of a quote, or without some kind of attribution). -- Gyrofrog (talk) 23:16, 21 June 2010 (UTC)
well, quintessential is more related to intrinsic nature while iconic is more at representative: e.g. "Ecological disasters are a quintessential element of modern oil production, as witnessed by the iconic Exxon-Valdez debacle" - pardon my PoMo-speak. I do see your point, and I'd support tossing out 95% of the times the word is used. I just think the word has an encyclopedic place where it is correctly used. --Ludwigs2 23:30, 21 June 2010 (UTC)
Iconic as quintessential is a very modern usage. The OED logged this meaning of "icon" only in 2001 -- A person or thing regarded as a representative symbol, esp. of a culture or movement; a person, institution, etc., considered worthy of admiration or respect. Freq. with modifying word. I would say its best not to overuse this word since the primary meanings are not the one intended in this usage.Griswaldo (talk) 23:50, 21 June 2010 (UTC)
any person or object that was considered to be a prime example of something (Marilyn Monroe was a hollywood icon; the flag raising on Iwo Jima is a photographic icon) -- Monroe was a human. Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima is a photograph. Monroe thus wasn't, isn't and can't be an icon of anything, other than via an odd and fairly recent extension of the word "icon". By contrast, as a two-dimensional image, Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima might indeed be an icon of something or other in an established sense of "icon". Now I learn that icon is a prominent and original exemplar of a more general concept. That's news to me. "Original" in which sense? (First? Having some originality?) Anyway, how is "iconic", as it has (I learn) most recently been further diluted, an improvement on "well known"? -- Hoary (talk) 23:59, 21 June 2010 (UTC)
Now you are being overly-literal, for no good reason. Both articles - Marylin Monroe and Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima - use the word 'icon' or 'iconic' with respect to the subject, and we have an entire article on cultural icons (which also notes that some people object that the word is overused). I'm not going to argue with you about something as silly as conventional use of the English language, not if you're going to be a mud-puppy about it (mud-puppy -> someone who fails to recognize the established boundaries between things, and runs off splashing mud liberally in all directions. A new concept for you to learn). --Ludwigs2 00:23, 22 June 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for educating me! How silly and ignorant I had previously been. Now I shall run off to take a shower to get all the mud off myself. (I hadn't heard of that either. Hush puppies yes, but mud puppies no. I'd better sign up to some remedial English course.) So anyway, how are we helped by being informed that Exxon Valdez is "iconic" rather than "well known"? -- Hoary (talk) 00:52, 22 June 2010 (UTC)
We're not.Griswaldo (talk) 01:26, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Ludwigs and Griswaldo, I agree with both of you ("...I'd support tossing out 95% of the times the word is used" and "I would say its best not to overuse this word...."), hence the purpose of my original comment. (I believe Hoary and I were already on the same page.) Example: in this edit I removed the word "iconic," as it is unsuitable : the place in question is probably unique, and thus not "iconic" (quintessential). It is "amazing", but that's not for us to say. Does anyone else here think it is out-of-line to make such an edit and point to WP:NPOV as justification? (No one has disputed this kind of edit, so far, just gathering the opinions of others.) -- Gyrofrog (talk) 01:29, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

"the Exxon-Valdez oil spill is the iconic oil disaster" I thought it was the Torrey Canyon ;-) Each generation has iconic moments which fade and new ones emerge, and each region will have iconic events which effected them. For example the end of World War II varies depending on which day the war ended for a particular nation. For some a particular little black dress or sort algorithm is iconic, so it not only depends on generation, and location but expertise and interest. Some of what we call iconic today will look quaint, but historically informative, in 100 years. So I think that usually unless "iconic" is qualified to indicate for whom it is iconic it should be avoided in the text of articles. -- PBS (talk) 11:47, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

Example of Controversial GA/FA?

I'm trying to get a tricky article to GA status and have been looking for a GA/FA on a controversial topic to compare it to. I've been wading through the GA/FA lists, and looking at articles like Racism, Gay bashing, Price gouging, Iraq War and so forth and have yet to find one above the GA threshold. Can someone point me to a controversial article at GA level or above that has sections detailing support and opposition to the subject? Thanks. HausTalk 19:15, 20 June 2010 (UTC)

I guess it depends on how controversial you want. Islam, Atheism, Evolution, Objections to evolution, Holocaust denial, Conservapedia and Global warming come to mind. Good luck. Jess talk cs 23:07, 26 June 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the tips, Jess, I'll definitely look at these articles for ideas. It might be useful to mention articles like this on the NPOV page as guidance for editors. Cheers. HausTalk 00:09, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

Is a definition a viewpoint?

Moved to Wikipedia:Village_pump_(policy)#Clarification_on_WP:NPOV. Comments there would be appreciated. (talk) 02:23, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

Regarding the survey example

This edit [13], goes against WP:BRD, though I understand that it isn't actually a policy. Either way I think its a good way of doing things when reverted, but I guess others don't follow this formula which is a shame. Kenosis you are misunderstanding what the example says. It does not say that we can take the conclusions of a survey and state them without attribution as if they are now objective facts that are part of common knowledge. [T]hat a survey produced a certain published result would be a fact, means that we can factually report what a particular surveys results are. This logically would mean attributing the survey to those who conducted it since identifying the survey necessitates doing so. Logistically this is exactly like identifying the person who's opinion is being reported about factually, etc. In other words you're mixing and matching different forms of attribution here.Griswaldo (talk) 04:25, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

Perhaps we should stick with unambiguous examples as facts. Anyway two examples is enough I think. (Three if you include the 'nuclear weapon during wartime' example further down.) I'ld prefer to leave it out. However, I agree with your point about BRD. Far too much reverting going on here. Could people please exercise some self-discipline and stop it? LK (talk) 04:32, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
Two examples are not enough and I prefer to leave it in. The survey produced a result is not controversial. There is not enough maintaining of ASF going on here. The rewrite to ASF is atrocious. The "new" meaning is against ASF and will enable wikilawyers. QuackGuru (talk) 05:42, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
The example is OK, but given the context, it really needs to be pointed out that this is an example of the "intext-attributed" type of fact that we are specifically talking about in this section, not just listed along with the other examples of facts.--Kotniski (talk) 09:38, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
RE this edit. I've reverted it. We always attribute survey results inline to their source, the organization or person who conducted them. If you're going to redefine what a "fact" is in the first paragraph of ASF, please seek a clear consensus for such a fundamental change of approach. Up till now at least, the main point of that paragraph written primarily for newbies has been that a "fact" such as "Plato was a philosopher" or "Mars is a planet" doesn't need to be attributed inline to a particular source. Survey results do not fit into this way of viewing "fact"--period. At the most liberal interpretation of a survey or study as "fact", we always say something like "According to a recent study...[citing to the particular poll or survey, and naming the organization which conducted it" or "According to a recent Gallup poll, ..." or similar inline attribution. ... Kenosis (talk) 18:27, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
We should never attribute it to the source such as "according" when it is an obvious fact. This implies a serious dispute. The results of a survey is always a fact. QuackGuru (talk) 21:07, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
I can see why Kenosis might care, since he thinks it causes confusion (I don't think it does, but that's besides the point), but why do the rest of you guys care about this so much? Enough to edit war over it? Just choose another example already. And EVERYONE, stop edit warring over this page. It's a POLICY page, and shouldn't be unstable. LK (talk) 02:25, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
LK, you did not provide a direct response to my comment. The result of a survey is a fact. A fact does not cause confusion. We should not add "according" to for a survey when it is not a serious dispute. Editors should stop encouraging other editors to reverse and continue to delete the meaning of ASF. QuackGuru (talk) 03:25, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
I agree with you, I don't think it's a problematic example. But I'm trying to be meta here. Kenosis obviously cares about it, but I don't see any reason why anyone else should care, as there are lots of other examples of facts to use, eg. 'that Barack Obama won the election for president in 2008'. To improve this page, we all have to be more willing to give and take. Let the things that don't matter go. LK (talk) 12:44, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
To improve this page the example should return. We can't let this thing go becuase it does matter. "According to" is an opinion. Editors continue to want to convert a fact into a controversial or disputed opinion by implying it is a disputed. QuackGuru (talk) 18:00, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
The problem with mentioning surveys is that surveys by their nature are a reflection of opinion. Yes, that the survey took place and reached X result is fact... but the result is a fact based on opinion, so it blurs the lines. Also, attribution is needed when discussing survey results, so the reader knows who conducted the survey... It may be a fact that "a survey of dentists resulted in the conclusion that two out of three dentists prefer Crest"... but it makes a huge difference whether the survey was conducted by the American Dental Association, was conducted by Proctor and Gamble, or was conducted by some high school kid who asked all three dentists in his home town. Who conducted the survey tells us how much weight to give it.
So I agree with those who think this is a poor example. Find another and move on. Blueboar (talk) 20:17, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
The result of a survey is a conclusion which is a fact. Adding "according to" creates doubt where there is none when it is not a disputed survey. An inline qualifier is not needed when discussing survey results. Only if the survey is questioned then an inline qualify is appropriate. Who conducted the survey or who did a study is a matter of V. Giving to much detail who conducted the survey if it is not a serious dispute is against ASF. Trying to blur the lines between V and ASF is altering the meaning of ASF. Mentioning it was a survey is the same as saying there was a 2010 study that concluded spinal manipulation is not effective except for the possiblity of lower back pain. We can work together to strengthen the line of ASF instead of crossing the line and creating a "new" meaning of ASF. See this example currently in mainspace: "In fact, the Gallup poll the day before the election showed Ford held a statistically insignificant 1-point advantage over Carter.[123]" The survey example is a very good example to remain in ASF. It was included in ASF for a good reason. There is no reason to delete it. QuackGuru (talk) 18:00, 6 June 2010 (UTC)
(ec) That a survey took place and reached X conclusion is indeed a fact... but it is a fact that needs attribution. Attribution does not necessarily cast doubt (in fact, if the survey maker is trust worthy, it can do the opposite, it can inspire believability). The fact is, not all surveys are equal. There is a difference between: "According to a survey conducted by the American Dental Association, two out of three dentists prefer Crest." and "According to a survey conducted by Proctor and Gamble's marketing dept, two out of three dentists prefer Crest." In the first case the attribution enhances believability... in the second it casts (at least some) doubt... because the ADA is more trust worthy and carries more weight than P&G's marketing dept. And "According to a survey conducted by Billy Jones of Peducka Iowa, two of the three dentists in the town prefer Crest" inspires no trust at all and should be removed for being unreliable. Blueboar (talk) 20:11, 6 June 2010 (UTC)
The results of a survey is indeed a fact when no disputes exists.
"According to" implies a serious dispute. There is no need to undermine the source for a reliable source. A Proctor and Gamble's marketing department report is not a reliable source. See V. QuackGuru (talk) 06:12, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
QG, please allow me to ask you a couple questions.
..... (1) How would you report in an article, for example, the fact that Pew research reported these study results? Pick any of your choice of result they report in the linked page; they're all percentages reflecting peoples opinions anyway.
..... (2) If I reported in an article that "59% of people think it's important for the US Congress to act on immigration policy", is this adequate without any further inline qualification or inline attribution? i.e., is this statement I just put within quotes a "fact" according to your idea of the first paragraph of ASF? ... Kenosis (talk) 19:58, 6 June 2010 (UTC)
Part of my previous post explained how to write this: "Mentioning it was a survey is the same as saying there was a 2010 study that concluded spinal manipulation is not effective except for the possiblity of lower back pain."
"A 2010 survey reported 59% of people think it's important for the US Congress to act on immigration policy.
A 2010 study found spinal manipulation is not effective except for the possiblity of lower back pain.
When there is no serious dispute there is not need to write "According to". QuackGuru (talk) 06:12, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
OK. Leaving quibbles aside then, the phrase "A 2010 survey reported" is an inline attribution (a "Simon says [X]" or "John Doe believes [Y]", to give two recently used examples of an inline attribution as presented in ASF), which qualifies the words "59% of people think it's important for the US Congress to act on immigration policy". IOW, you appear to agree there is a need for an inline qualifier of some kind here, without which the words "59% of people think it's important for the US Congress to act on immigration policy" can not properly be stated. Similarly, the words "spinal manipulation is not effective except for the possiblity of lower back pain" cannot properly be stated in WP's voice without an inline qualifier such as "A 2010 study found" along with a footnote citation to the source. ... Kenosis (talk) 12:21, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
I don't think anyone disputes any of this - though the point is being made that an once the inline qualifier is added to an opinion, it becomes a fact. (So it is an example of a fact - but more than that, it's an example of a "fact about opinions", as referred to in the lead sentence, and I think that should be pointed out as well. I'll try rewriting it, although someone will no doubt revert for some incoherently expressed reason.) No, actually I think it's fine as it is (I use the word "fine" in a relative sense - it could still be much better) - there are examples of "facts about opinions" later in the section, so we don't particularly need one at that point.--Kotniski (talk) 13:17, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
Yes, it's already in the third paragraph of ASF, where it explains that we turn an opinion (or other debatable assertion) into a fact by attributing it to a reliable source that holds the particular POV, or to a reliable source that puts forward what person(s), group(s), organization(s) or percentage of persons hold the particular POV. It might help to add, in as few words as possible, that this basic concept also applies to debatable POVs generally. ... Kenosis (talk) 17:30, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
I see editors are blurring the line with what an inline qualifier is. There is a difference between decribing the source such as "A 2010 survey reported" versus "According to a 2010 survey reported". Changing the meaning of ASF will undermine articles and cause confuse. I don't think a lot of editors believe in NPOV and now too many editors want to twist the meaning of "A simple formulation". "59% of people think it's important for the US Congress to act on immigration policy" expresses a value judgement. I knew it was a trick question. What people think expresses a subjective opinion. Did anyone else catch the wiki********. Why don't you guys be honest. Just admit you are against the original meaning of ASF and now you are determined to alter or even eliminate it. QuackGuru (talk) 04:21, 8 June 2010 (UTC)
QG, give it up. Consensus is against you on this. Personally, I feel that there's hardly any difference between, "According to a 2010 survey by Reuters, xxxx ...", and "A 2010 survey by Reuters reported that, xxxx ..."; as such I am now of the opinion that the survey example should go. LK (talk) 07:27, 8 June 2010 (UTC)
Consensus is against you when you are unable to provide a direct response to my comment. The whole point to ASF is stop POV warriors from adding "According to to imply there is a serious dispute where there is none. LK, you have shown you don't believe in ASF becuase you feel there's hardly any difference between "According to" and not adding "According to". We should not confuse newbies into thinking "According to" is appropriate if an editor disagrees with the results a survey. We should explain there is a difference when adding "According to". QuackGuru (talk) 21:54, 8 June 2010 (UTC)
"According to a 2010 survey" and "A 2010 survey reported" have the same meaning. Survey results are not a good example to use, unless used as an example of how to attribute facts. Why? Because every survey has some degree of error. Sample size, collection bias, etc. Another survey performed on the same day with a different sample pool may have found 65% instead of 59%. DigitalC (talk) 17:01, 8 June 2010 (UTC)
"According to" is not the same meaning. This is proof editors are blurring the lines of ASF evey time a contrarian reader disagrees with the source when do disagreement exists between any source. QuackGuru (talk) 21:54, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

QG, it wasn't a trick question. Nor did I intend to beat up on you verbally. Basic epistemological questions like "what's a fact?" and "do we really know anything for sure?", etc., have stumped some of the best minds on earth and made their heads spin. Here we're dealing with a basic explanation, intended primarily for newbies and not capable of solving every content dispute from science to art, or from highly technical theory and practice to public opinion and popular culture. ASF explains in basic form how we turn opinions, POVs and value judgments into facts for purposes of presentation of material in WP articles.
..... IMO, it's a reasonable explanation, even if a bit lengthy and however imperfect it may necessarily be. Personally I think all it needs is a bit of tightening in the third paragraph and perhaps a note that attribution is how we turn any debatable POV into a "fact" for purposes of presenting material from a neutral point of view. ... Kenosis (talk) 19:54, 8 June 2010 (UTC)
It seems you are trying to twist ASF to turn a fact into a disputed opinion. This is a very dangerous road to take. The result of a survey is a fact and does not need "According to" in-text attribution if a editor does not believe in the results of a survey. QuackGuru (talk) 21:54, 8 June 2010 (UTC)
────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Actually, no, QG. We turn a debatable POV, or "disputed opinion" as you say, into a fact by attributing it to its source(s). Once we do that, the "fact" is that Reliable Source X said it is so, and we're reporting that fact to the reader. If there's no reasonable dispute, e.g. in the case of Mars being a planet, Plato being a philosopher, or the spine being located in roughly a vertical orientation in the human back, we state it without need for inline qualification or footnoted attribution. If it's questioned by a WP user, we attribute it in a footnote to a reliable source. If it's a debatable POV (read that as "opinion", or "not universally agreed to be fact") it becomes subject to WP:WEIGHT, WP:PSCI, etc., and needs to be qualified and attributed to a reliable source.
..... I venture to guess, QG, that the mistake you're making here might be that you're putting too much weight on ASF to resolve content disputes and language issues that are well beyond the reasonable scope of ASF. Anyway, you've heard my piece. I vaguely doubt that I can be of any further genuine help to you on this issue. ... Kenosis (talk) 22:42, 8 June 2010 (UTC)
We don't turn a result or fact into an opinion when there is no seroius dispute. When the result of a survey is not disputed we can assert it without an inline qualifier ("According to"). QuackGuru (talk) 23:56, 8 June 2010 (UTC)
OK... realistic hypothetical... we have two polling companies conducting surveys of "likely voters" around election time...
  • Gallop results: 40% Republican candidate... 50% Democratic candidate... 10% unsure.
  • Pew results: 48% Republican candidate... 47% Democratic candidate... 5% unsure.
which of these surveys do we represent as fact? (correct answer... both... but without saying "According to...", how do we do this?) Blueboar (talk) 22:29, 8 June 2010 (UTC)
The Gallop results were 40% Republican candidate... 50% Democratic candidate... 10% unsure.
The Pew results were 48% Republican candidate... 47% Democratic candidate... 5% unsure.
Each result for that particular survey/gallup is a fact. You know "According to" implies a serious dispute. How could the result of a particular survey be disputed where there is no serious dispute. Each result is not disputed. QuackGuru (talk) 23:56, 8 June 2010 (UTC)
I dispute that "according to" implies a serious dispute. To me, saying "According to Gallop, 40% of voters support Republican candidate..." is NPOV. —Preceding unsigned comment added by DigitalC (talkcontribs) 04:51, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
Actually, there is a serious dispute... not about the results of the two polls, but between the results of the two polls (one shows the Democrat winning the other shows the Republican winning). It is important to attribute so we know who says what. We don't necessarily have to word it with "According to"... but you could (and I think most people would)... yet however we word it, we still need to attribute the survey. This makes surveys a poor example. Blueboar (talk) 00:45, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

(od) "[T]hat a survey produced a certain published result would be a fact" No, no, no, no, no, creating surveys is a science, the same "question" can be asked multiple ways each producing a markedly different result. That someone conducted a poll which they contend has some "finding" is an event that can be reported, anything actually produced is not a "fact" in the manner other "obvious facts" were being stated. That we have learned to trust some polls by some polling organizations more than others is a tribute to their methodology, not their factuality.  PЄTЄRS VЄСRUМВАtalk  02:22, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

Well no, the statement that the survey produced the result would still be a fact, however unreliable that survey might be. It's just that we might (or might not) happen to phrase that fact using the words "According to", and that sets off alarm bells in certain heads. If there was disagreement about the result of the survey, we could say "According to the Daily Telegraph, the April 1 Gallup poll gave Labour a 5-point lead (whereas the Times reported that it gave Labour a 4-point lead)", but that's a pretty unlikely scenario. Usually we know beyond reasonable doubt what result a survey returned, and so that result (however irreflective of reality) is a fact. Whether we phrase it with "the survey gave Labour a 5-point lead" or "According to the survey, Labour was 5 points ahead" or any of countless other possible phrasings is fairly immaterial. But really we're arguing about nothing here.--Kotniski (talk) 08:11, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
Peters, Kotniski is correct about how you are misreading the sentence. However, after seeing this discussion go on for a while now I believe the sentence is often misunderstood ... too often. This in itself gives me pause. If it goes back in needs to be clearer. I do believe it should go back in, and I also believe that if its all the same to you Kotniski, but to those of us who have alarm bells ringing in our heads it is not, then why the quibble over this? I agree with QG about the "according to" language. In practice it is often used in the manner QG is worried about and I still believe, as QG seems to, that changes being made here are making it easier for POV pushers to insist on "according to" precisely in order to make mainstream assertions seem less authoritative.Griswaldo (talk) 14:20, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
There might be people doing that, but I don't see what this has to do with the example (which didn't include "according to" anyway), or indeed with any of the other changes "being made here". No-one's trying to change the meaning of this section, just trying to make it say clearly what it's supposed to mean. That particular example in that particular place in the text didn't contribute to that clarity.--Kotniski (talk) 14:31, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the discussion above. I think "A poll conducted by X indicated..." is better than "According to X...", as the latter is often a code-phrase used to marginalize mainstream scholarship, i.e., using attribution to cast doubt ("according to Peters, the sky is blue"). Where the alarm bells went off for myself was the attempted association of surveys with self-evident facts, which I felt was completely inappropriate owing to the confusion which can ensue about what, exactly, is the "fact" in that case, and how "factual" it is.  PЄTЄRS VЄСRUМВАtalk  15:29, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
To Blueboar earlier, we don't represent either poll as "fact", we represent both polls as "results."  PЄTЄRS VЄСRUМВАtalk  15:32, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I'm sorry, but this discussion is increasingly getting off track. WP:ASF is not capable of resolving every type of content dispute or every linguistic nuance across the wiki. It's a [relatively] simple explanation of NPOV expressed in casual language with some examples intended primarily for newbies unfamiliar with the basics. As such, it's never going to be perfect for everyone, nor can it reasonably deal with issues like how to attribute opinions (i.e. debatable POVs). Issues like that being discussed above are to be worked out by the consensus process at the article where it's potentially an issue. If there's a wiki-wide issue here at all w.r.t. possible hidden implications of certain phrases, it probably should be discussed in one of the MOS guidelines such as, e.g. WP:WTA or other guideline page. ... Kenosis (talk) 15:56, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
I think some people here are overlooking exactly how subjective and inclusive the phrase "according to" tends to be in usage. Let's compare two examples from QG to "according to".
  • A 2010 survey reported 59% of people think it's important for the US Congress to act on immigration policy.
  • A 2010 study found spinal manipulation is not effective except for the possiblity of lower back pain.
When you say that a survey "reported" or "found" something you give a nod to the notion that this is more than simply an opinion. Yes some surveys are more and some less reliable, but they are usually conducted using methods that are scientific. In fact they also usually self-report statistics that help us determine their reliability. One would not say, that "Joe Schmo found ..." unless one was fairly confident that the "finding" was itself done in a mainstream scientific fashion. Without such knowledge "according to" may be appropriate. Of course if Joe Schmo is a leading expert in such and such field then the story changes. We should not discourage the use of language that gives more legitimacy to certain statements when they actually deserve it. The results of a survey are not simply opinions, even when two or more surveys seem to produce drastically different results.Griswaldo (talk) 16:00, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
@Kenosis. You removed the survey example and edit warred over it. Some of us feel strongly about including it and now you're saying ... "hey guys this page wont be perfect and can't deal with everything so lets just relax and forget about this example." That's unacceptable in my mind. Why should this example go and others not? I'll be perfectly honest about my own preoccupation with this example. I deal mostly with the social sciences, where studies using survey methodology are very common. Ensuring the legitimacy of scientifically conducted surveys, and the appropriate evaluation of their results, is extremely important to me. I see this as just another invitation to lump everyone with an opinion about some more or less measurable social phenomenon into the same smelly "according to" pile of garbage.Griswaldo (talk) 16:08, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
Firstly, Griswaldo, WP:BRD isn't even a guideline, but rather an essay that does reflect the general pattern that many follow, including me--sometimes the edit summary is all that need be said. Instead, I began commenting here on this issue after after you'd reverted my removal of that new example twice on two successive days, beginning with a clear statement of why I was reverting you. Secondly, my strong disagreement with your advocacy of using a new example in ASF of a survey or study as "fact" isn't, as you say, "edit warring". If I may be frank, to label it as such is a bit of a cheap shot that amounts to placing the blame on the one who edited out this invalid example of what's being said in the first paragraph of ASF when in fact there is not consensus for its addition to a policy section that's agreed by most to be already a bit too lengthy. Not only is there not consensus for adding this example you want to use, but also the example is wrong in the context of how "fact" is defined in the first paragraph of ASF. In addition to my earlier explanation, I've further explained why this is so in my comment below.
..... As to my noting the discussion being increasingly off-track, I was referring to the debate about potential meanings of particular phrases used to attribute information, which is a matter for the guideline WP:MOS and related pages. ... Kenosis (talk) 18:09, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
Kenosis I did not add any examples. This example was already in the text when substantial changes started to happen here. You removed a long standing example -- not sure when it was added but I can see it there at least as far back as December of 2008 [14]. Please get your facts straight before telling me that I'm taking cheap shots. When you make edits to long standing text that is part of the current version of an entry and those are reverted the onus is on you to argue for your change. That is the essence of WP:BRD. If you don't like BRD then fine, but don't claim that you were working within it because you clearly were not. I take offense to this kind of sloppy accusation.Griswaldo (talk) 12:31, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
I don't see any examples with the words "according to", or any mention of the phrase, anywhere in either the current or previous version of the section in question. So what exactly is it you're talking about?--Kotniski (talk) 16:13, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
I think this discussion has sufficiently demonstrated that describing survey results is particularly fraught. Unless the plan is to include a full paragraph (or two, or a full section) exploring the issue, I suggest not bothering with the survey example. The "assert facts" guideline has enough issues of its own to dwell on something even more complex that drags in wp:weight, wp:rs, and wp:synth as well.
That said, I'll make the mistake of prolonging the discussion by arguing that "source X found Y" is only appropriate if Y is a "fact" by the wp:asf definition, that "according to source X, it is the case that Y" is not quite as strong an assertion but should be used with caution since it can be an excuse to phrase Y as though it were a fact, that "source X reported that Y" is more neutral and doesn't claim that Y is a fact, and that "source X claimed Y" and "source X argued Y" explicitly acknowledge that Y is subject to (serious) dispute. Using these last two when there is no serious dispute seems wrong to me, as does using the first when there is serious dispute. I think it's hard to come up with hard guidelines that cover all the other some point obviously npov and writing style are matters of skill and good-faith effort, and can't be codified. Rvcx (talk) 16:22, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
@Kotniski ... according to is the prominent example of how to attribute something inline used in past and current versions of ASF further down the section on the main page and constantly on this talk page. Please don't pretend not to know what I'm talking about.
@Rvcx I don't agree with your last comment at all. That a survey "found" something is a reflection of sound methods and not the factuality of conclusions drawn from the results. People often confuse the conclusions drawn from survey results for the results themselves. When there is dispute over such conclusions there is ample opportunity to show in any given content area that any number of issues may be at hand: 1) conclusions from the same set of survey results differ, 2) different surveys with different samples produced different results, 3) different surveys employing different methodologies (and probably with different samples) produced different results 4) and so on. In example one, for instance, the solution is not to say "according to the survey" but to say "according to such and such expert, the survey results mean ...". In the end survey results are always primary sources, and clearly factually represent themselves. The conclusions drawn from the results are secondary interpretations of those results and that's where controversy may be found. We should attribute these interpretations when they differ prominantly.Griswaldo (talk) 16:38, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
In reply to your request - I won't pretend I don't know what you're talking about, I'll just state it. None of this seems to have any relevance to the question of whether we include that survey example in the text. Maybe you want to write something else about surveys into the policy, reflecting all of this, or... well, as I say, I really and honestly have no idea what point you're trying to make.--Kotniski (talk) 17:04, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
Of course we are discussing what was simply and example, but having the survey example in the text made it clear that this type of fact did not require inline attribution of the kind being discussed here. The example was removed based upon the rationale that surveys by their very nature need attribution. I guess my problem, and my worry, has less to do with the fact that it is no longer included but with the rationale people have used to exclude it. The current text reads thus:
  • When we want to state an opinion, we convert that opinion into a fact by attributing the opinion to a person, organization, group of persons, or percentage of persons, and discuss the fact that they have this opinion, citing a reliable source for the fact that the person, organization, group or percentage of persons holds the particular opinion.
The rationale, in conjunction with what ASF actually says about attributions, suggests that survey results are by themselves opinions that need to be converted to facts by way of attribution. Others have stated emphatically, by the way, that various ways of signifying the source of these results are all equal - "according to", "reported", etc. (something else I clearly strongly disagree with). I also disagree with others who do differentiate between the emphasis placed by the different phrases on could use but claim that survey results should use the more ambiguous and subjective side of this language (see Rvcx just above). Of course it is ironic that in the very part of ASF that I'm quoting, what could only reliably be the result of a survey -- a "percentage of persons holds the particular opinion" -- has been emphatically called a "fact". Maybe I'm overreacting but I don't think anything has been made clearer by removing the example. I'll gladly leave it alone at this point.Griswaldo (talk) 17:29, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
Griswaldo, I'll try to make this potentially complex point as simply and explicitly as possible without getting too much into intricate matters of survey methodology which include many factors that can produce misleading results. Common criticisms of survey methodology include the way the participant samples are chosen and the way questions and possible answers are framed for the survey participants--in a word they're very commonly biased. As such, where we report survey results to the reader, experience has taught us that unless the issue is completely uncontroversial we're generally expected to state the source of the information given by a study, most often in the form of an inline qualifier such as "A 2010 study by X organization found that..." or "A recent study reported that ... " or similar attribution, along with a footnote citing the name of the study, date of publication of the study, the organization or person who conducted it, and where it can be found for further scrutiny by any interested readers.

Now, here's the first paragraph of ASF, which has existed in very roughly this form for years, give or take some language tweaks which have not changed its long-standing basic thrust:

Assert facts, including facts about opinions—but do not assert the opinions themselves. By "fact" here we mean a statement about which there is no serious dispute among reliable sources, and which does not express a judgement or value. For example, that there is a planet called Mars is a fact. That Plato was a philosopher is a fact. These are objective statements, and no reliable source seriously disputes any of them, so we can simply assert them, without any inline qualifier of the type "John Doe believes...".

You may want to call a published study result a "fact", but unless it's a completely uncontroversial matter a published study result is not a fact within the meaning of this paragraph. Because surveys and statistical studies can differ widely in their results even when studying the same natural or social phenomena, and also can differ widely when surveying opinions on an issue of interest, they're inherently more akin to what is introduced to the newbie as "opinion"-- a potentially debatable matter, a POV represented by the study result. And therefore when reporting a study to the reader we generally state where the information came from with an inline qualifier noting that the info is from a study, or a footnote citing the study, or both. This is particularly the case when the issue the study or survey deals with is potentially or actually controversial.

Study results don't fit neatly into either the stated idea of "fact" in the first paragraph or the stated idea of "opinion" (or value). But the second paragraph already notes that sometimes things will fall between these notions of "fact" and "opinion". Generally as WP contributors gain experience they become more familiar with these nuances and can better rely on other provisions of NPOV, along with V and NOR. But as I said earlier, perhaps it's time to insert a very brief note for newbies that for purposes of the explanation in ASF the word "opinion" includes any potentially debatable representation or POV. Like it or not, study results, polls and surveys quite commonly are very debatable. ... Kenosis (talk) 17:46, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

This is where you remain wrong, but I see I can't do much to change your mind. The results of a study are not "debatable". The methods used in a study, the various aspects of executing the study and/or the conclusions or inferences drawn from the results may be debatable, but the results themselves are not debatable. I understand how people confuse things like survey results (e.g. "74% of respondents say they will vote for Proposition 256") with the inferences drawn from those results (e.g. "74% of registered voters will vote for proposition 256", or "Proposition 256 has the support of a vast majority of the population"). The actual results are a fact. The manner in which inferences should be treated as facts, of course ought to follow the general rules applied to all such statements.Griswaldo (talk) 19:08, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
As I said, I don't see consensus for this additional example. However, one thing I can guarantee is that whatever may be done here to ASF will not change the wiki-wide accepted practice of attributing study results and using an inline qualifier so the reader knows where the info came from. You may choose to call a study result a "fact". But because study results can vary widely and are commonly biased, sometimes intentionally in an attempt to sway people's opinions about issues of public importance, it is a fact that needs qualification about where those study results came from, which is why it is standard practice to do so. This, unfortunately, is directly contradictory to the statement in the first paragraph of ASF that "we can simply assert them, without any inline qualifier of the type "John Doe believes" (or "Study X reports").

Perhaps needless to say, this stands out like a sore thumb as a handy excuse for POV pushers, who may selectively choose to rely on a particular study result, to conveniently neglect to mention to the reader that the only undisputed "fact" is that this particular study produced this particular published result. Until, of course, another editor or group of editors comes along and adds an inline qualifier making clear that this "fact" is according to, say, Rasmussen Reports or Cato Institute or the Daily Mail, while, say, Gallup's poll produced a different "fact". Such a statement in ASF will most assuredly not change the accepted method of reporting study results on the wiki, which is to make explicit to the reader that the particular assertions are from a particular study. ... Kenosis (talk) 19:35, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

As Kenosis wrote, "I don't see consensus for this additional example." You don't have consensus. You don't have consensus to delete this example that has always been part of ASF. The result of a certain published survey is a fact. QuackGuru (talk) 19:51, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
Yes it was there for a long time (e.g. this version at the end of 2009)--I'd forgotten that. However, the addition of the statement "we can simply assert them, without any inline qualifier of the type "John Doe believes" has rendered it completely un-feasible in the first paragraph of ASF. Because they are contradictory to one another in terms of normal WP practice, one or the other needs to be jettisoned, either the example of the study as "fact" or the statement about "without the need for an inline qualifier". ... Kenosis (talk) 20:04, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

I don't think there is a problem with the survey example. I think editors have a misunderstanding what is meant by an inline qualifier. An inline qualifier is meant to establish there is a serious dispute or for value statements. When there is not a serious dispute editors should not imply there is one. Editors can decide for each article how to asert it fact without implying there is a serious dispute. I edit articles where editors try to undermine the source by adding "according" instead of "stated". QuackGuru (talk) 20:17, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

I've removed the recently inserted passage (here, please pardon the truncated edit summary) about "without the need for inline qualifier" (remember that it started out a couple months ago with the "simon-says inline text attribution" bit and got modified repeatedly since then?). Facts quite commonly need inline qualification to render them accurately, and this first paragraph of ASF is not the place to try to make this point. Perhaps somewhere else. This gets it back much closer to its long-standing stable form, and allows the survey example to stand as before without any major contradictions. ... Kenosis (talk) 20:28, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
Opinions quite commonly need inline qualification to render them accurately. Facts can be asserted without an inline qualifier such as "According to". QuackGuru (talk) 20:35, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
Cool. In that case "survey results" simply aren't a fact within the meaning presented in the first paragraph, because many surveys and studies are, in a word, bullshit that is badly in need of inline qualification. ... Kenosis (talk) 20:40, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

I see QG has reverted back to the excessively weighty mess ASF became in April and May of this year. Good luck gaining consensus for that. Even the paragraph about mass attribution is back, trying to deal with inherently guideline material on a policy page. Anyway, I'm out of here for now. Good luck working though this conceptual mess, and I'll see y'all later on. ... Kenosis (talk) 20:40, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

Mass attribution is about how to present the text accurately. There clearly was not conensus to remove the long standing survey example. The result of a survey is not debatable. Therefore, the text can be aserted without an inline qualifier. The sentence about an inline qualifier has also been removed without consensus. Now ASF has been weakened or even altered. QuackGuru (talk) 17:20, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

Recent changes to ASF

I made this change to clarify the matter. There is a concern the definition of ASF has been altered. QuackGuru (talk) 18:27, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

QG, I think your edit has plusses and minuses. On the plus side, it's been necessary to clarify that "opinion", for the purpose of this section's explanation, includes all matters that are subject to dispute, essentially any debatable POV. On the minus side, you've managed to complicate and probably create further confusion about several basic issues including what's meant by an inline qualifier, and added a few unnecessary specifics to an already bloated section (e.g. no need to mention Hiroshima and Nagasaki with wikilinks when the simple words "during wartime" are equally adequate). I think I've said my piece and will, for the present, leave this to others to sort out. ... Kenosis (talk) 18:44, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
By "opinion", on the other hand, we mean a statement which expresses a value judgement,[1] or a statement which is "a matter subject to dispute" contradicted by reliable sources. This sentence is a clearly definition of an opinion. The previous version was includes wording like subjective or objective without defining its meaning which left it open to interpretation and enabling POV warriors.
Being specific clarifies things. If it is too vague then it will cause confusion. QuackGuru (talk) 19:03, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
Honestly, almost all of these changes have been discussed here at length. Mentioning the survey result is a bad idea. The term "statement" includes both objective and subjective assertions, but "piece of information" is tougher to reconcile with the latter. "Wikipedia's voice" is much clearer (and more descriptive) than "the passive narrative voice" (which does not mean what you seem to think it means). Etc. Please stop making such wholesale changes unless they are supported by consensus. Rvcx (talk) 19:33, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
You don't have consensus to delete the survey example. Etc. Please stop making wholesale reverts without consensus. Both the objective and subjective assertions were recently introduced by Kotniski and edit warred in by Rvcx never did gain consensus. QuackGuru (talk) 19:51, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
This hacked version never had consensus. But Rvcx is trying to force these and other changes into NPOV. QuackGuru (talk) 20:17, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
QuackGuru, please try to edit collaboratively. You have been blocked for tendentious editing before, try not to get blocked again. DigitalC (talk) 01:44, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

I find it bizarre that one disruptive editor with no coherent arguments is allowed to determine the content of this page purely by revert-warring. If QuackGuru wants to write this page, why don't we move it into his user space, and the rest of us can get on with writing a coherent and comprehensible policy, as we have been doing. That a page that contains some of the nonsense it does now (and it does, as discussion here has shown ad nauseam) is advertised to the world as a "core Wikipedia policy" is an embarrassment to this project, and those who collaborate with the disruption by repeating his reverts on the quite ridiculous grounds that there was "no consensus for the changes' (where is the consensus for his version, for ...'s sake?) are complicit in this damage to Wikipedia.--Kotniski (talk) 07:10, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

Prior to the ongoing bickering here and at some other policies, I used to evaluate each change and occasionally offer my thoughts. I have found that task impossible with all the pointless activity in recent weeks, and we need some action to restore a semblance of stability to the core policies. There are so many microedits that it is hard to even work out what the warring camps ultimately want. One way forward would be for the policies to be restored to how they were several weeks ago, and invite anyone dissatisfied with the policy to formulate an alternative in userspace, with an RFC to then consider whether/how to merge. I guess some unlikely form of RFC followed by an ANI consensus would be required to implement such an anti-wiki process, so this marathon will continue. Johnuniq (talk) 07:54, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
I don't think there are warring camps; there are people trying in good faith to rectify the many faults in these pages (mainly just presentational; I'm not aware of any significant disagreements over substance), in line with normal wiki process - editing and discussing - and there are a few who disrupt that process by reverting the well reasoned and discussed changes without offering any coherent counterarguments (well, basically one person, supported by others who don't think or look at the discussion but just revert to his version on the grounds that it's the oldest). We've already tried RfCs, but those in the minority don't respect the majority view, so that doesn't work.--Kotniski (talk) 08:33, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
Oh and "stability" is all well and good, but first the policies have to be properly written so that we can be satisfied with the version that becomes "stable". Stable nonsense is of no value to anyone.--Kotniski (talk) 08:37, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
I think User:Johnuniq makes an excellent point, however if you read through this talk page you'll see that this is exactly the process we've been through over the past couple of months. Several times. There have been a couple of good-faith attempts at full rewrites (which I thought produced excellent results), they were reverted, and there has been extensive discussion of the changes—all perfectly in keeping with WP:BRD. We even did an RfC and tried to iron out the few changes that not all editors liked, and then went through the WP:ASF section sentence by sentence to identify problems and find solutions. In every case, however, QuackGuru has simply claimed that he disagrees and that all the other editors want to undermine the policy, so there's no consensus. More frustratingly, he's failed to articulate his objections, or even to acknowledge the legitimacy of the myriad concerns with the old text. And despite his demands for "consensus" (apparently meaning unanimity) he continues to make wholesale changes himself over and over again. This is particularly disconcerting as discussion has demonstrated that QuackGuru simply does not understand the policy as it is applied by editors and administrators. I'm not sure how progress can be made under these circumstances. I wish I could identify two "sides" to this policy fight, but as far as I can see nobody wants to change anything about the underlying policy; they just want to make the description of that policy clearer. Rvcx (talk) 09:49, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
I largely agree with what you've said Rvcx, except to note that one of the sweeping reversions, specifically, this one by FeloniousMonk, was IMO justified, as in the 10 days or so before that reversion, the policy page had been boldly reduced by half, with large sections removed without adequate discussion. I would have preferred a reversion that did not go back so far, but I think most of the good edits have been reinserted since then. LK (talk) 10:42, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
I agree that that change was particularly bold. I endorse the general sentiment that this page has become both unwieldy and vague, but the major rewrite of the entire policy at once certainly does/did merit discussion. Thus it's made sense to move on to addressing things section by section, and if there's no (or weak) consensus on a full section rewrite then sentence by sentence. What I (and apparently other editors) find frustrating is when all that discussion and progress is wiped out by a single "I don't see any consensus for any change" reversion. Rvcx (talk) 10:59, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

Comment Let's get some facts straight here. Bickering has been over ASF specifically and not the entire policy -- so claiming things about QuackGuru's knowledge of the entire policy seem rather out of place. Also, QuackGuru has not been the lone gunman everyone is making him/her out to be. Several other editors have sided with various positions that he has taken -- see myself, Dave Souza, PBS, etc. The voices on the other side of the fence may be more persistently many but it is disingenuous to spin this into a "lone disruptive editor" type of situation.Griswaldo (talk) 12:21, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

I was only speaking to the "assert facts" section, and Quack's failure to grasp (or, at least, intelligibly articulate) the heart of the policy has been highlighted before. I apologize if I implied that all editors who have commented are unhelpful—I certainly don't feel that way, and the discussion has very much helped to arrive at better phrasing. I'm merely pointing out that "your version doesn't have consensus" is nothing but empty rhetoric at this point. It is abundantly clear that no version of ASF has consensus right now, so we need to try to find something we can all live with.Tactical attempts at restoring old versions (or unilateral rewrites without discussion) aren't moving us towards that goal. Rvcx (talk) 13:11, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

ASF attribution

Currently the policy says "When we want to state an opinion, we convert that opinion into a fact by attributing the opinion to a person, organization, group of persons, or percentage of persons, and discuss the fact that they have this opinion." but somewhere along the way we have lost the "inline qualifier" in the ATF section. Personally I don't care whether it is "inline qualifier" or "inline attribution" but as attribution has more than one meaning in Wikipedia (eg WP:ATT) something needs to be added to the sentence to make it clear what we mean:

or the wording from WP:Neutral point of view# Common objections and clarifications "attributing them in the text [of the article]" is clear and could be incorporated into the sentence:

  • "... attributing the opinion in the text to a person ..."

or the word inline can be placed into the sentence:

  • " an in-line attribution of the opinion ...".

-- PBS (talk) 23:07, 14 June 2010 (UTC)

I removed the bit about not needing an "inline qualifier". ("Facts can be asserted without an inline qualifier, (e.g. "John Doe believes...")"). The term "qualifier" seemed quite odd when I suppose we meant "attribution", and we seem to be using "inline" to mean "in-text", which contradicts the usage in WP:CITE which refers to "inline citations" (as opposed to references just listed at the end of the article). It also muddies the issue if we just talk about "attributing" the opinion—the real thrust of this policy is that opinion can't be put forward in Wikipedia's voice under any circumstances, so it's simpler to just say that, and then show how attributing an opinion turns it into a fact. There is an appropriate linguistic definition of in-text attribution, but it's surprisingly complex and really just a diversion from the central point. Rvcx (talk) 23:25, 14 June 2010 (UTC)
I think you are missing my point. I don't mind if "inline qualifier" was removed from where it was. My point is that "attribution" means different things in Wikipedia discourse and we need to make it clear here that we mean "in-line attribution". I have put forward some alternatives for additions to that sentence as I do not think that now the term "inline qualifier" has been removed from the section the sentence as it stands is an adequate statement of policy. -- PBS (talk) 23:46, 14 June 2010 (UTC)
If a point is being missed, it is mine. What do you think "in-line" means? It doesn't mean "in the actual text of the article", as you seem to think it does. It also doesn't imply a change to the nature of the "fact" being presented. The plain reading of the policy should be turning "Iraq has WMDs" into "The White House claims that Iraq has WMDs", not into "Iraq has WMDs.(source:White House)", the latter of which has an "inline citation", which could just as easily be called "inline attribution". Your suggested wording changes actually make this problem worse, not better: the point is not that we leave the opinion in the article but attribute it (that the opinion remains a part of the text); the point is that we remove the opinion and replace it with a fact. The notion of turning "inline attribution" into a technical term on which the rest of the policy depends is a fool's errand. The gist of the policy is "don't assert opinions under any circumstances; do assert facts. By the way, here's one method for turning opinions into facts." Rvcx (talk) 10:31, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
Rvcx, mistaking "inline attribution" for "inline citation" is something of your own creation. There is no proof at all that anyone else would make such a mistake. The "inline" part of "inline citation" moreover means precisely what we meant by "inline" here -- appearing in the text itself. It does not specifically mean "in parentheses within the sentence". That said, PBS says he's not wed to it and also offered "... attributing the opinion in the text to a person ..." which doesn't use either of the two words you have a problem with -- "qualifier" or "inline". Do you have a problem with adding in something about "in the text"? As of now the sentence that appears is much more ambiguous than anything PBS has suggested. It could simply mean footnoting the comment. "Attribution" on its own does not make the meaning we all understand that the sentence should convey clear. Cheers.Griswaldo (talk) 11:46, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
Yes, my problem with "opinion in the text" suggests that attribution lets you leave opinions in the text. I think it's much clearer to avoid any suggestion that opinions should appear in the text; only facts. Opinions can be transformed into facts, but that usually requires changing the text. Rvcx (talk) 12:23, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
Actually my question was much broader. It did not include the word "opinion". Do you have a problem with adding something about "in the text"? I have no problem with abandoning "opinion", but as a point of fact I don't agree with you when you claim that attribution does not "let you leave opinions in the text", because that is exactly what it does. You don't ever change or convert an opinion into a fact, you simply frame the opinion with a factual statement. Put another way you leave the opinion in the text while making absolutely clear that it is an opinion. What we don't leave in the text are opinions stated as if they were facts.Griswaldo (talk) 13:29, 15 June 2010 (UTC)

Facts can be asserted without an inline qualifier (e.g. "According to", "John Doe believes..."). The inline qualifier sentence should be restored. QuackGuru (talk) 17:29, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

Current sentence. Facts can be asserted in Wikipedia's voice (e.g. "Mars is a planet."), but remain subject to Wikipedia's policy on verifiability and may require citation.

I propose this sentence replace the current sentence. This version is clearer and restores the inline qualifier part that was removed without consensus. "Facts can be asserted in Wikipedia's voice (e.g. "Mars is a planet.") and without an inline qualifier (e.g. "According to", "John Doe believes...")." QuackGuru (talk) 18:09, 28 June 2010 (UTC)

ATF more on opinion

Currently the policy says:

By "opinion", on the other hand, we mean a statement which expresses a value judgement, or an apparently factual statement which is nonetheless contradicted by some reliable sources.

This sentence does not fully cover it. To go back to my Dictionary of National Biography example of the 20 May. In it I gave an example of an historian who speculates on something but which is not directly supported by the facts (in the primary sources). That does not mean that his conclusions are "contradicted by some reliable sources", just that it is a conclusion drawn by an expert on a subject filling in the gaps. Usually Wikipedia editors not being specialists in the area they are writing about have no way of knowing if other experts have disagreed with the speculation. Particularly in the case of the DNB as the more modern ODNB is often not accessible to them. So I think that the wording need to be changed so that when a theory (which is what opinions about history by historians are) from

  • "which is nonetheless contradicted by some reliable sources."


  • "which is not supported by other [third party] reliable sources." (I propose putting in "third party" because often university departments will publish a number of papers supporting their own position).

This will change the onus of proof and make in-line attribution the fail safe position. -- PBS (talk) 23:40, 14 June 2010 (UTC)

That's an interesting point, and it touches on some contentious articles (and an ArbCom case) I've been dragged into, where some secondary sources perform (apparently invalid) synthesis, but of course few other sources expressly go out of their way to refute an irrelevant synthesis. The issue isn't quite as simple as you're trying to make it, though: one reliable source is enough if that's the only source that covers that particular aspect of the topic. What we'd really want to rule out is the case where we find a second source that looks like it would include a particular fact—the notable omission of the fact should amount to some kind of dispute. I don't recall if it was here or in another discussion that someone mentioned the case of a biography which claimed that the subject changed their nationality at a particular point in life. There were plenty of other biographies, but none of them mentioned that event, and a tiny amount of original research (which I think we've agreed doesn't qualify as grounds for dispute) reveals that such a shift would have had rather significant legal consequences...
I think such a clarification would indeed be useful, however I think this would be a significant change to the substance of policy, unlike the other changes here which I think are intended only as changes to presentation. I'd definitely advise against a direct edit of the policy on this matter; working up some reasonable text and doing an RfC for such a change seems more appropriate. Rvcx (talk) 23:56, 14 June 2010 (UTC)
"The issue isn't quite as simple as you're trying to make it, though: one reliable source is enough if that's the only source that covers that particular aspect of the topic." I think you are confusing two different issues. This is not about whether or not to include a theory/opinion/educated guess on a postulated historical event it is how it is presented, and I suspect that this is true in many other fields as well. Also I am not sure that it is a major change as the wording because until recently this section did not include the specific phrase "or an apparently factual statement which is nonetheless contradicted by some reliable sources" and if the punctuation is correct (and the sentence should not be read as if there is a comma after "statement"). -- PBS (talk) 02:07, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
I agree that this point needs to be addressed - and the fact that's it's so closely tied up with verifiability is another argument for combining these two policy pages. At the moment there seem to be a lot of assumptions of dichotomy - statements are factual or judgemental; sources are reliable or unreliable; any given source either supports or contradicts a given statement (or does neither); and we are supposed to follow the rule that we can make a statement if it is factual, supported by at least one reliable source and not contradicted by any reliable source. (This is what WP:V and WP:ASF combine to say.) But in reality, I'm sure it's often far from black-and-white - sources have various shades of reliability (which also depend on what statement is being made); statements can be less or more factual; it may be debatable whether a source completely supports or dontradicts a given set of words; and it may also be debatable whether a small number of sources is enough to verify a particular statement or constitute evidence of dispute over it. In other words, these matters are potentially far more complex, and more dependent on editorial judgement, than the policy currently tends to acknowledge.--Kotniski (talk) 08:54, 15 June 2010 (UTC)

I cleaned up the offending sentence. QuackGuru (talk) 03:33, 18 June 2010 (UTC)

I improved the sentence but it was reverted. Is there any explanantion for this. QuackGuru (talk) 17:29, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

Subject of/subject to

From WP:ASSERT, last paragraph:

Reliable sources can determine whether "a matter is subject to dispute" when there are opposing views.

Reliable sources can determine whether "a matter is the subject of dispute" when there are opposing views.

These have different meanings:

In the first sentence, "a matter is subject to dispute" refers to potentiality. The matter is the kind of content that could be disputed.

In the second sentence "a matter is the subject of dispute". Subject is a noun and describes content that has already been disputed.

The first example, in place now in the article, doesn't make sense to me, but perhaps does to others.

Which of these are we talking about when we refer to reliable sources. (olive (talk) 02:48, 15 June 2010 (UTC))

"subject to dispute" works for me, but that might be an academic bias. I read it as saying that it is up to scholarly sources to determine whether a matter can be disputed. For instance, people occasionally dispute the theory of gravity (for one reason or another). technically speaking, the theory is a matter of dispute at all times (and in fact has been disputed successfully by the theory of relativity), but most challenges to the theory of gravity are specious and are rejected out-of-hand by scientists because they do not conform to empirical evidence. Any scientific theory is subject to dispute by a sufficiently credible competing theory, but most often competing theories are not particularly credible, and so the original theory is not really a subject of dispute.
put in more accessible terms, a spouse's behavior might be subject to dispute (e.g. one might question what s/he did at that bachelor/bachelorette party) without it becoming a major issue, but if a spouse's behavior becomes a subject of dispute (e.g. one is pretty sure about what happened at that party, and not at all pleased by it), that's a different kettle of fish.
not that I have any experiences of that nature. <cough...> --Ludwigs2 08:36, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
I think that whole sentence should be deleted. It doesn't mean anything that we don't say already, as far as I can see.--Kotniski (talk) 08:40, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
I'm not attached one way or the other...In terms of syntax and of what we want to say, the meaning was a little on the murky side, but I'm happy to leave it the way it is. I would think more agreement might be needed to actually remove the sentence altogether...all coughing aside.(olive (talk) 14:49, 15 June 2010 (UTC))
I agree with Olive's initial concern. Ludwigs your explanation strengthens this concern if you ask me. What the sentence should say is that something must be a subject of dispute between reliable sources. Something could be subject to dispute but not be the subject of dispute in which case we can assert it as a fact. We should not be dealing in potentialities here but actualities. We have no use for hypothetical disputes that don't exist. Almost any fact could be subject to dispute but only some are the actual subject of dispute in reliable sources. See Ludwigs words on this -- "Any scientific theory is subject to dispute by a sufficiently credible competing theory, but most often competing theories are not particularly credible, and so the original theory is not really a subject of dispute." We can measure the extent to which something is actually being disputed by reliable sources, and that is what we should stick with.Griswaldo (talk) 14:58, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
I don't think you want to require outright dispute/disagreement. Scholarly sources frequently proffer theories but then qualify their own statements as disputable. If a source says "we believe that this piece of art is a forgery, however there is no conclusive evidence one way or the other", then that suggests the authenticity (or lack thereof) is subject to dispute, even if there's not a single source willing to unequivocally take the other side. That's the difference between "subject of dispute"—i.e. people are currently arguing over this— and "subject to dispute"—i.e. there is acknowledgement that reasonable argument is possible. The latter is very common in academia; people often don't bother really arguing if there's no way to settle the disagreement; they just note that such disagreement is reasonable and move on. Rvcx (talk) 15:30, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
I don't understand how this applies at all. If sources are self-reflexively offering educated guesses or commenting on the fact that there is no real consensus then we can just straight up report that fact. We don't need any additional language in this policy to deal with what is a basic verifiability issue. The language here deals with areas in which different sources are asserting differing views as facts and how do we deal with that.Griswaldo (talk) 16:10, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
All of the points above seem pertinent to us on Wikipedia. Is the following too cumbersome and or does it muddy the waters even more?(olive (talk) 16:29, 15 June 2010 (UTC))
"Reliable sources can determine whether a matter is subject to, and or the subject of dispute, when there are opposing views."

Littleolive oil, I rewrote the sentence. "When there are contradictory views made by different reliable sources this can determine whether a matter is subject of a serious dispute." QuackGuru (talk) 03:29, 18 June 2010 (UTC)

Littleolive oil, I think this could work. When "a matter is subject to dispute" there are contradictory competing views by other reliable sources. QuackGuru (talk) 02:11, 24 June 2010 (UTC)

I discussed it first but it was reverted. I propose again: When "a matter is subject to dispute" there are contradictory competing views by other reliable sources. This would replace: Reliable sources can determine whether "a matter is subject to dispute" when there are opposing views. QuackGuru (talk) 18:10, 28 June 2010 (UTC)