Wikipedia talk:No original research/Archive 50

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Archive 45 Archive 48 Archive 49 Archive 50 Archive 51 Archive 52 Archive 55

Wikipedia is built upon violating NOR

IMHO about 50% of statements in Wikipedia are written from expertise in uncontested areas, i.e that Wikipedia is BUILT upon violations of the above rule. IMHO the standard should be "test" based. i.e. that (only) if someone challenges the accuracy of the statement a suitable source must be produced in order for it to be retained,
You must understand that the actual uses of these rules are far different than in the ethereal discussion here. Here are examples in differences in practice that would occur if my suggestion were utilized:
- Writing from expertise in factual uncontested areas would not be discouraged.
- You must understand that one of the main uses of Wikipedia policies is as weapons to cause articles to be POV (unwikipedian)via removal of material. This would reduce that problem by requiring a challange of the accuracy of the statement for removal of material for being unsourced vs. removal for simply being unsourced.
- It's much easier to tear apart / nit pick than to build. Many folks whose psychological need to be holier-than-thou finger wavers, frustrated in the outside world have found a home in Wikipedia. While policies are intended to guide the creation of articles or resolve disputes, these folks lose that context and just wander around deleting based on categorical, granular applications of those policies outside of that context. This would reduce that type of activity, at least in this particular area.
Respectfully,
North8000 (talk) 00:35, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
North8000, you have made a total of 89 article edits. I suggest your comments reflect a lack of experience with Wikipedia and its policies. Jayjg (talk) 02:19, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
I would argue the opposite.....that if someone is perceptive but hasn't been too immersed for too long that they might be in the best and most objective position to see the forest rather than the trees. But we can agree to disagree.
BTW contrary to appearance, I did not create the title or new section for for my comments. Somebody modified it after I wrote it. North8000 (talk) 02:45, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
North8000 (talk) 02:45, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
You also left out work in off line incubator articles. From what I've seen, people with huge rates of edits of main space article are those who are messing with rather than contributing to articles. Either as the "Barney Fifes" referred to above, or the widespread practice of doing lots of trivial and nonsense trivial edits to build their "count" up.

North8000 (talk) 11:48, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Primary sources reliably published.

At the start of the year the Primary sources definition included the following:

"Primary sources that have been reliably published (for example, by a university press or mainstream newspaper)"

This principle has been here for several years. This edit on 11 Jan by SlimVirgin altered it to: "Primary sources that have been reliably published" I can see that and I would support "Primary sources that have been published in a reliable source" but I do not support the total removal of this clause which happened with two more edits the first was this one by TimVickers on 22 January. I understand why the word reliable was removed as a next step because it was meaningless. However the removal of the concept that only primary sources published by a reliable publisher can be used is very important, because it is fundamental to stopping WP:OR particularly in historical articles. If people are free to rummage in unpublished historical archives, they may well be able to overthrow accepted history by digging up a document and quoting an extract from it without violating any other part of PSTS which this sentence was supposed to stop.

So I would like to put back into the policy "Primary sources that have been published in reliable sources," which takes care of TimVickers's comment on his removal "remove 'reliably published', horrible phrase."-- PBS (talk) 13:18, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

BTW I came here to quote PSTS on this because I am looking at several articles were someone has either created a copyright violation or has written a piece of research using unpublished primary sources, (don't know which yet) but removing this clause does not help in stopping Wikipedia being used for OR. -- PBS (talk) 13:18, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

I agree... I think we all agree that Primary sources need to be published (the old manuscript you found in a trunk in your attic is not a good source... as it can not be verified). I hope we would also agree that it needs to be reliably published (the PDF of an old manuscript you found on Joe Blow's website isn't a good source either... Joe Blow is not a reliable publisher). Blueboar (talk) 16:03, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
I can' t see what's wrong with the current text: "primary sources that have been reliably published." To add "primary sources that have been published in reliable sources," repeats the word "sources" (and so is odd writing), and ignores that we use the word "sources" in several different ways on WP. Sometimes it can mean a person, which would make "in" wrong. That's a small point, but I can't see what's wrong with the current sentence. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 22:50, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Oh, now I see; it was removed. Okay, then I agree that "primary sources that have been reliably published" should be restored. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 22:53, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Don't agree with this - see WP:SELFPUBLISH. Reliable primary sources include those published by an expert. II | (t - c) 23:29, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
In which case it has been reliably published. We consider an expert's website to be reliable for claims as to what the expert says. See WP:SPS Blueboar (talk) 23:35, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes, "reliably published" would include that. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 23:59, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
I have taken the liberty of returning the wording. I have also added the following to the end of the paragraph... I think it helps make the point that material needs to be published (and reliably so) a bit clearer: Do not add material taken from unpublished sources, as that would make Wikipedia the first place of publication for that material. Blueboar (talk)
The issue is not quite that simple if "published" means "published by a professional publisher", which is what I think this thread is about. There are infrequent occasions when we need to cite someone's home page, or a set of otherwise unpublished lecture notes that a recognized expert has placed online, or (more rarely) an email or blog posting from an experts about their area of expertise. Of course we try to go back to published papers and textbooks when possible, but there are some rare situations where it doesn't appear to be possible. — Carl (CBM · talk) 13:51, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
I think "taken from unpublished sources" is ambiguous, and raises more questions than it answers. I prefer simply "unpublished" or even better, material which has not been reliably published. Crum375 (talk) 23:40, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Hmmm... The reason why I prefer my language is that I think it ties the caveat directly the concept of NOR. Original research violations stem from what we write about the source, not the source itself. In this case, the specific OR violation is that an editor is writing something based on an unpublished source, not that the source itself is unpublished. So all our statements need to be focused on what the editor is writing (or has written), and less on the source itself. Does that make sense? Blueboar (talk) 23:59, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
The word "source" is used in several different ways on WP: it can be a person, a book, a publisher, or more. This is why I prefer to avoid ambiguity and say what we mean: don't add unpublished material, because that constitutes original research. Crum375 (talk) 00:03, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Unpublished information likely also violates WP:V. In fact, I think that I'd normally name WP:V as the reason for removing such information; it's a more straightforward policy. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:12, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Good Point... which means we probably don't need to talk about this at all in NOR. I think I will remove my addition completely. It really does not belong in the section on Primary sources in any case... after all, we should use any unpublished source... even unpublished secondary or tertiary sources. Blueboar (talk) 02:24, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Not that I object to the text, but it does have to be read correctly. For example, if someone resolves a disagreement about a subject's birth date by actually driving to a county seat and looking up the birth certificate in the public records office, that's perfectly acceptable. The birth certificate is publicly available and so it satisfies WP:V, and the claim is purely descriptive, so it satisfies PSTS. It's a stretch to say that the birth certificate is "reliably published". But this may be a rare enough issue that it can be handled on a case by case basis. — Carl (CBM · talk) 04:06, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Presumably if there is a disagreement, you are talking about a difference in dates between two reliable sources? If not then it is this type of OR that this sentence is intended to stop (I'm picturing my minds-eye the scene in Annie Hall when in a cinema foyer, author Marshall McLuhan is pulled out from behind a small billboard to settle an argument in Allen's favour).[1] -- PBS (talk) 07:19, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
I was thinking more of the situation where there is not any secondary source for the birthdate, and people just argue over it on the web page. If I were writing a biography of someone, and I needed to get their birth date, looking up their birth certificate would be perfectly reasonable, particularly because stating a birth date is the sort of "descriptive claim" that PSTS permits. — Carl (CBM · talk) 13:43, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
We've deliberately avoided developing a definition of "published," Carl, because it's a can of worms. We mean "made available to the public," in the sense that birth certificates and legal decisions are made available. But how "available" does the thing need to be—is a court transcript costing thousands of dollars available; is a birth certificate held only in a village in India available? We've avoided looking too far down that black hole, so it's left to editors to use their common sense. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 00:02, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
Gee... I wish we had taken the same approach to "Primary" and "Secondary". might have avoided a lot of arguing over definitions. Oh well... spilled milk and all that. Blueboar (talk) 00:25, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
I do not think that looking up a DOB in an archive that has not been published in a reliable source is acceptable. As I said above if a birth cert is used to decide a fact which differs in two reliable sources, that is different to adding the DOB from an archive which has not been published elsewhere. What happens if instead of a a birth certificate, we are looking to when births were recorded in parish registers, and using the same source for marriages, then what happens when a local parish register is used to prove that Lord X married the local barmaid so their previously thought illegitimate son was in fact legitimate ... and older than his previously thought legitimate son who it turns out was not so because the father was previously married (bigamist) ... I agree with Crum375 "This is why I prefer to avoid ambiguity and say what we mean: don't add unpublished material [to a Wikipedia article], because that constitutes original research." -- PBS (talk) 10:36, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
That sounds like a bad use of a source, but if the parish records are the actual legal records of marriages then it doesn't sound like original research. In any case, SlimVirgin claims above that birth certificates are "published", which gets back to my original point that the language about "reliably published" still assumes that whoever is reading the policy already knows what types of sources are permitted. Implicitly, the text is simply defining "reliably published" to mean "acceptable". So if someone thinks that birth certificates are not acceptable, they will read the policy text as saying they are not "reliably published", while other people would say that the government is a reliable publisher, and so birth certificates must be acceptable. The policy text would not help in deciding the argument. — Carl (CBM · talk) 12:06, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
Carl I see from your user page that "most of [your] article writing is related to mathematical logic", have you read Wikipedia:No_original_research#cite_note-4? -- PBS (talk) 12:32, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
Oh yes, I have been working with the NOR policy for years. However, the way that Jimmy Wales uses the phrase "novel theory" is the same as the way this policy text uses the phrase "advance an argument". Looking up someone's date of birth in the authoritative legal document that establishes it does not create a novel theory in this sense. This is related to the way the policy text permits "descriptive" claims from primary sources: because descriptive claims don't create what Wales would call "novel theories". If people are worried about conflicting sources, they could add a caveat "According to her birth certificate, Jones was born on 1951-2-12". That still leaves the possibility that there are NPOV concerns, but it resolves issues with "original research". So saying "I called her mother, and she said the birthdate is 1951-2-13" is certainly original research in our sense, but looking up a public record is not (although it may often have NPOV implications). — Carl (CBM · talk) 12:51, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Let me say it a different way. I picked birth certificates as an example because I know from experience that they are near the borderline for NOR. We do not permit someone to cite an unpublished diary they keep in their attic, and we do permit people to cite the New York Times. But public records are in between. What I said was, even if you reinsert "reliably published", it still leaves this sort of thing unclear (and unacknowledged) in the policy text. I know from experience that many people would say that a birth certificate on file in the county courthouse and freely available to the public is indeed "reliably published". — Carl (CBM · talk) 13:10, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Let's take this further... I find a diary in my attic... as long as I continue to keep it in my possession, I agree that it would be OR for me to describe what it says in Wikipedia. But, if I give this diary to my local public library, who list it in their card catalog (which, given today's technology, probably means it will be listed in inter-library catalogs as well)... I would say it has now become a "published" source, and it is no longer OR for someone to describe what it says it in Wikipedia. Same diary... same description... the only thing that has changed is its accessibility. Blueboar (talk) 15:55, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
In a contentious article I worked on a few years ago there was an attempt to introduce a certain document as a source. The document was a letter sent to the USPTO by the inventor as part of the prosecution of a patent application. The USPTO in theory allows access to a patent's "case file", i.e. related documents and correspondence, if you show up in person at their office and ask for it, and pay a fee. I claimed at the time that unless it's actually "published" in the sense that (as a minimum) it sits in some public library intended for viewing by the public, it's not really published in the WP sense. Where would this situation fall, in your view? (not that I want to open that Arb case again!:)) Crum375 (talk) 16:12, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
I can't say anything specific, since I don't know the case, but I can say that a document that is available in thousands of public libraries for a $5.00 fee is somehow preferable to a document freely available in only one library, or only at one courthouse. So, as a matter of practice, if we are going to use a document available in only one place as a source, we should be able to articulate why we can't use some more preferable source, and we should have agreement that we are using the source in an NPOV way. Of course, the more difficult it is to get a copy of a document, the less likely we are to agree that claims from it are "verifiable". For example, if a document is in a special collection that only a few scholars are permitted to access (e.g. in the Vatican library), I don't know that I would agree on using it as a source. — Carl (CBM · talk) 16:40, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
We are getting off topic... yes, a document that is widely available is preferable to one that is rare. Yes we can use other sources if they are better in some way. None of that has any connection to the concept of Original research, or the issue of whether the using the less preferable or rarer source is OR.
The reason why we don't allow unpublished (as in not "available to the public") sources and "documents you found in your attic" is that the very act of saying such a source exists is OR. The reason why this policy allows for limited citation to public records, or to unique/rare documents is that saying they exist is not original. Yes, what we say about them might still constitute OR, but saying they exist is not. Blueboar (talk) 17:15, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
Back to the birth certificate. In the UK prior to 1853 there were not such things. Births were instead often registered in the local parishes. Now let us suppose that there is an entry for a person of minor note who has made it into the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: "John Smith the scientist, son of Tom Smith (b. 1633) of Brockhampton", now some Wikiepdia editor goes off to Brockhampton and finds that Tom's birthdate was 29 February 1633 which is of course 29 February 1634. So they want to amend the date to 1634. Now suppose that every reliable published source in the world has the birth year down as 1633 (NS), because they are all based on an original biography written in 1899, then is it not OR if we use a different date from that in all reliable sources? I think it is because it is novel, and it is totally different from using primary sources to decide on which date to use when two reliable sources differ on the date, (unless of course throws up a third date!). We should not be publishing historical facts from primary sources that contradict reliable secondary source, as that is OR.BTW it is a real date see Monday 29 February 1663/64 -- PBS (talk) 20:31, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
In your example, I would include a footnote after the 1633 date, with a link to the primary source, noting that although secondary sources X and Y say 1933, primary source Z says (effectively) 1934. No harm in adding well-sourced information descriptively (and without pushing any agenda) in a footnote. Crum375 (talk) 22:11, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
A foot note is an excellent idea for dates in this era... especially because it's actually more complicated than just when new year's fell. this was before England converted to the Gregorian calendar, so while it was 29 Feb. 1633/34 in England...in the rest of Europe it was 13 March, 1634 (or something along those lines). Blueboar (talk) 01:15, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
How to handle these dates is in the MOS see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Calendars. We follow secondary source usage which for this period in England is usually Julian calendar with start of year as 1 January. -- PBS (talk) 21:57, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
No, I would not say it is original research. But I agree it's not a good use of sources. It could be argued to give undue weight to the parish registry, especially if there are multiple more recent, secondary sources that all agree. Or it could just come down to editorial judgment, and my opinion would be to stick with the more contemporary sources. Especailly if we are talking about the birthdate of the father of the person the article is actually about. Crum's suggestion is also reasonable. — Carl (CBM · talk) 00:25, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Philip, the issues you're raising would boil down to editorial judgment, but birth certificates are generally fine for non-living persons (with living persons BLP kicks in), and many are available on the Web now, so availability for the purposes of verification is becoming less of an issue. Where there's a discrepancy between reliable secondary and reliable primary sources, this can be noted in a footnote or even in the text depending on the context. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 01:04, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
SV note I deliberately chose a date before 1853. Carl the primary source is the register and I pointed out in this hypothetical example that the secondary sources were wrong. But that is a very minor hypothetical case, and there are many that have much more profound consequences. Take for example Diana Gould making Mrs Thatcher look at best a fool and at worst Machiavellian. Suppose that exchange had not taken place, but the paper giving directions had lain in an archive, and Mrs Gould had added the fact to the Wikipedia Falklands War article (that the ship had been sailing away from the Falklands while every published source to date had assumed towards), it has profound political ramifications, but it would only be stating a fact that the ship was "heading away" from the exclusion zone (not much more than changing a date). The historiography of an event is that described in secondary sources, if a Wikipedia editor uses a primary source to challenges the accepted historiography, then no matter how trivial, that is original research. --PBS (talk) 01:47, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
I agree that our articles need to represent the overall scholarly consensus – but that's NPOV, not NOR. Accurately describing the contents of a source that you actually have in your hand, and which other people can check, is not on its own original research, but sometimes the due weight of a particular source is zero. However, I don't know the history here well enough; was the direction of the ship mentioned in a newspaper, or just in some secret military communication? Looking up a newspaper in an archive is different than looking up a birth certificate; newspapers from the 1980s will probably be on microfilm at hundreds of libraries. — Carl (CBM · talk) 11:25, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
It does not matter, it was an example, even if the compass baring had been published the direction had not (I'm extrapolating that from Thatcher's reaction to the question as she was pole-axed by it). The point I am making is using primary sources from archives that changes the historiography is OR. Using primary sources to decide between two competing published historical explanations is not.
There is another problem with primary sources from archive being used we ("any educated person without specialist knowledge") are often not qualified to judge if they are suitable. I see this all the time with secondary sources describing people of the English Civil War (I have been adding men who are notable enough to be mentioned by name in the Act of Oblivion but --particularly those who died before the date of the act-- some have a paucity of primary sources that name them). Many men in the same family had the same name so one historian will have found a record that "John Smith" was mayor of Oxford in 1639 but another will publish stating the she thinks that the man was the cousin of the man the biography is about, (See this example about Thomas Andrewes) if it is secondary sources we can easily document the difference of opinion (see Thomas Cooper), but not if it is from Wikipdia editors. In the example I gave above who is to say that the man for whom a Wikipedia editor has found the primary source for DOB is the man in the secondary sources (After all it might be a different Brockhampton -- an easy mistake to make)? The person who "is to say" if a primary source should be used is the author of a reliably published secondary source, which we (Wikipeia editors) can document, not Wikipedia editors because that is OR. --PBS (talk) 21:34, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

Quite true, but the same sloppy WP editors may pick the wrong John Smith in a secondary source too (assuming similar details and time periods). In fact, I have seen this myself, with a wikilink to the wrong guy, all in good (but sloppy) faith. So the bottom line is we need to use our common sense, be careful, and apply extra care, a lot more, when dealing with primary sources. Crum375 (talk) 22:06, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

I am not talking about sloppy editors (this is a mistake that it is easy to make and I would not use the word sloppy to describe such good faith mistakes), I would have thought that the Thomas Andrewes example made that clear, usually using primary sources is a job for historians not Wikipedia editors. There may be some limited cases where using primary sources only available in archives and not already used in secondary sources may prove beneficial, but it should be an exception (WP:IAR) and the explicit rule should be don't use them. BTW I am not including in this primary sources that have been published in official publications such as for example parliamentary proceedings in a Hansard, their use is adequately covered under PSTS.
I think that there are two steps to using Primary Sources. One is covered at the moment. This is the use of Primary Sources once they have been correctly identified which is adequately covered by PSTS "any educated person without specialist knowledge". But that is only part of using primary sources in Wikipedia articles. Some primary sources (Such as speeches in Handsard) have been presented to the public through their presentation so that "any educated person without specialist knowledge" can access them with confidence they they know what they are accessing, but the collating of primary sources for use in an article from unpublished archives is not usually something that "any educated person without specialist knowledge" can do, and doing it is my opinion original research. -- PBS (talk) 00:33, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Many secondary sources are just as complex, and require just as much "specialist knowledge" to understand, as related primary sources. I think the danger of misuse of primary sources by Wikipedians comes more from the more limited perspective and context in such sources than anything else. The advantage of secondary sources is that they add context and perspective, which helps us avoid doing so on our own, which would be WP:OR. Crum375 (talk) 01:00, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

WP:ALT

There is currently a discussion at Wikipedia_talk:Alternative_text_for_images#Guideline discussing the degree to which WP:OR, among other WP:V policies, applies to alt text. —Charles Edward (Talk | Contribs) 02:44, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Colour

Does anyone have a problem with "our policy" being in red in the the primary/secondary sources section? I added it a while back to make it stand out, but Erik keeps removing it. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 05:26, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

well, I'd have used green or maroon, personally - that shade of red annoys me - but I don't have a problem with the coloring as an idea. --Ludwigs2 05:45, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
I'd be fine with green or maroon, anything that makes it stand out. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 05:53, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
The bold italic red "Our policy" and indenting is quite effective at drawing attention to the take home messages, and this is quite important given the complexity supporting text for a non-academic newcomer. Perhaps red is best reserved to high level warnings or danger labels, but the use of colour is good and Erik should stop removing it. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 13:10, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
Agree... color is good... but suggest we use something other than red. Blueboar (talk) 13:22, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
I tried the green but it didn't stand out much, so I've added maroon. :) SlimVirgin TALK contribs 13:27, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
Works for me Blueboar (talk) 14:40, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

I have never seen color used in this manner before. Bold and italics is a perfectly sufficient way to emphasize the start of passages. At some point, you can only do so much to hammer the points home, and there is no precedent for color on a policy's page. I look at the revision, and the combination of bold and italics is enough. Erik (talk) 14:49, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

Also, SlimVirgin said that I "keep" removing it. SlimVirgin restored the color without an edit summary mentioning the color. Since the phrases were changed in his edit, I assumed that it was a recovery of passages from an older revision, including the color, hence my followup removal, the original never being commented on. Erik (talk) 14:54, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
Relatively speaking, maroon is better than red, but can we ensure that if consensus is for using color, that the color does not affect accessibility? See WP:COLOR. Erik (talk) 14:55, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
Pardon adding yet another message, but maroon works better than red after all. This is the tool I used. White is #FFFFFF, maroon is #810541, and red is #FF0000. I'm still not seeing a compelling need to use color in the first place. Erik (talk) 15:02, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
If you're okay with maroon, hopefully that can stay then. Thanks for testing it. :) SlimVirgin TALK contribs 17:11, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
No, I would rather not have color. Others feel that there is a purpose to the color, though, so I will not push the issue further at present. Erik (talk) 17:39, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

Colour should only be used if consideration in choosing the colours is made for the colour blind -- PBS (talk) 20:38, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

There's still the bold italics and indention. There is no information being presented that is requires colour vision. If this is a matter of importance, the colour blind can have the colours on their monitor shifted to their personal preference. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 21:38, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

Evaluating the reliability of sources is original research

It seem that we are supposed to evaluate the reliability of publishers and authors. Is this not a massive and original research project? Lumenos (talk) 09:14, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

Yes, it is. But WP:OR is a content policy. It applies only to what we actually display to our readers as articles. It does not influence how we decide what information to include or disinclude. It does not influence which sources we should or should not use. If you barred editors from discussing and applying judgement on the reliability of sources, NPOV would collapse in a heap. Someguy1221 (talk) 09:18, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
WP:NPOV should be revised. As Wikipedia policy is now, it is manufacturing double speak. No good editor would want to include something from a reliable source, which they found to be wrong; therefore "NPOV"/wp:RS means only that we are supposed to think a bit more before deciding which claims are likely to be right or wrong (aside from the aspect of excluding that which can't be attributed/"verified" but this is only so others can "fact-check"). And if we think the claims are likely to be correct, we are supposed to state them (emphatically). That is probably good enough for simple plausible claims, but for particularly controversial or lofty claims, it would be more objective/neutral to simply state which sources claim what. Be completely transparent to the source, rather than trying to make this evaluation for the reader. It would be much less "original research" to integrate the evidence of the reliability of sources, into wiki articles. That way, we wouldn't be exactly doing the evaluation, we would be providing the reader the evidence to do their own evaluation. Lumenos (talk) 10:59, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Why should anyone blindly trust our evaluations of sources? Lumenos (talk) 10:59, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
The evaluations of these sources should not be buried in some archive in wp:RSN, they should be linked to the citations using the source in question, or the source should be included in the article and linked like this: "on Thursday the Press Secretary said...". This is often possible, but if it is done consistently it would reveal that we are either guilty of circular reasoning or reliance on personal experience. I believe personal experience is the foundation of our ability to know and evaluate anything, and therefore it would be much closer to a real NPOV (further from original research) to reveal and evaluate the personal experiences we fundamentally rely on to choose what sources to trust (or bet on). The irony here is that the policy against "original research", forbids this neutrality/objectivity in favor of a more subtle form of original research. Lumenos (talk) 10:59, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
If you evaluate sources correctly, then given a situation where a conflict over a source arises, the problem always seems to come down to three things: undue weight, fringe, and recentism. The standards on Wikipedia are such that editors will evaluate sources according to NPOV; The "Achieving neutrality" section in the NPOV policy explains that "a vital component [is] good research". It goes on to say: "Good and unbiased research, based upon the best and most reputable authoritative sources available, helps prevent NPOV disagreements. Try the library for reputable books and journal articles, and look for the most reliable online resources." Evaluation of sources is simply a way of choosing the best RS to achieve NPOV. There's no original research required. One obvious objection to this evaluation is that the editor has picked the sources. But consider this: Good sources rely on good bibliographies, and a researcher will often base their work on an already existing canon of accepted work associated with a given field. The odds that a RS is already a part of this canon is extremely high except when we are dealing with recentism and fringe topics. If there is a problem with original research in the evaluation process, it is due to recent and fringe topics which have not developed an established bibliography. Can you respond to these points? Viriditas (talk) 11:07, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
You are not exactly suggesting that we cherry-pick individual sources, but you are picking the consensus reality of a particular subculture. These sources "verify" each other, but this begs the question. There are obviously disagreements even if they don't seem convincing to us. For example, a frightening number of people in the world, claim that they have the absolute reliable source written by some "God". They would have no interest in an article that judges their faith by depending solely on sources they don't agree are reliable. I'm mainly proposing this process of choosing sources be more open and accessible by linking from articles, and that it be more organized and justified, by creating wiki articles outlining the arguments. This is being done many places in Wikipedia, it is just not formal policy. Intelligent readers aren't going to blindly trust our evaluations of sources/subcultures, unless perhaps they can see our rationale. Lumenos (talk) 23:24, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Interesting. Did you already give examples where this is being done on Wikipedia? I would like to take a look. Viriditas (talk) 10:03, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

I'll assume you are asking where sources are being evaluated the Wikipedia. This happens anywhere there is an article on something/someone, who is being used as a source, and where this article says something pertinent to the source's credibility. These are often found in "controversy" sections in articles on books, news organizations, websites, authors, publishers, governments, etc. (Or not an entire article but at least some mention that helps readers judge the the credibility of a source.) An example regarding a source that I guess would be fine for Wikipedia, would be in Associated Press / controversies. An example about an author that I would think would not be considered reliable, would be Rush_Hudson_Limbaugh#Claims_of_inaccuracy. Lumenos (talk) 06:42, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

I'm not sure we are on the same page. You said:

I'm mainly proposing this process of choosing sources be more open and accessible by linking from articles, and that it be more organized and justified, by creating wiki articles outlining the arguments. This is being done many places in Wikipedia, it is just not formal policy.

So, I don't really know what you are talking about. "Evaluating sources on Wikipedia" appears to mean something different to you than what it does to most people. At least, that's the impression I'm getting. What does it mean to you? Viriditas (talk) 06:46, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
Well for one thing, when mistakes are found this speaks to the reliability of the author, the editor, the publisher, and anyone who relied on them as a source. How else can we possibly establish who reliable sources are, without some sort of authoritarian blind faith? Lumenos (talk) 11:06, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
For particularly controversial and complex issues, this is no easy task and some some little debate in wp:RSN is not going to scratch the surface. Social science is full of issues like these. Even the simpler science involving the evidence of evolution, is very controversial and could benefit from a more in-depth examination of sources (if not direct evaluations the of claims the sources have made). Lumenos (talk) 11:06, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

It is fantastic that already we have citation tags that can easily link to articles about authors, publishers, etc, so that if a source is once thought to be reliable and is therefore included, at least any future discoveries of flaws in the source, could be made available in those articles. (It might be better if we could have some sort of indicator next to the reference number, in the article, showing how much the source has been evaluated and what its current ranking is.) Lumenos (talk) 06:42, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Not at all sure what you are talking about. Can you give an example? Viriditas (talk) 06:46, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
This reference links to Wikipedia articles on the author (Alan Dershowitz) and the publisher OJ_Simpson_murder_trial#cite_note-26. Lumenos (talk) 11:06, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

For controversial subjects we should always allow articles about any sources that are deemed reliable, and, in these articles, include the same evidence of their reliability that was used in the reliable sources debates. Also allowing articles for many prolific sources that are considered unreliable, that explain why they were judged "unreliable". If we can cite a "reliable source" for an argument used in a wp:RSN debate, it could/should be included in the article about the source. If we can't cite a "reliable source" for these arguments then "reliable source" is an example of WP:doublespeak (hypocrisy). When we can cite "reliable sources" who claim a source is reliable, then this is just WP:circular reasoning in WP:group think ;-). I think the only solution is to change the definition of a "reliable source", essentially allowing "original research". Lumenos (talk) 06:42, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, but that doesn't follow at all. Viriditas (talk) 06:46, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
Where does the reasoning fail? Lumenos (talk) 11:06, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

The simplest first step for this would be to have a template, like you see at the top of the talk page of an article that was considered for deletion, but these templates would link to the corresponding wp:RSN debate. Maybe call these "Wikiproject_Sources" similar to the Wikiprojects at the top of this talk page. Do this for both "good" sources and "bad" sources. Lumenos (talk) 06:42, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

No, that's not a good idea. Although I can't be sure, are you trying to say that sources should be vetted? Viriditas (talk) 06:47, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
Here is an example of what I meant there: If an editor created a wp:RSN section to evaluate whether Alan Dershowitz is a reliable source, then on the Alan Dershowitz article's talk page, there would be a "template" at the top linking to the wp:RSN section on Alan Dershowitz. Lumenos (talk) 11:06, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
If by "vetted" you are talking about "background checks", this may have some bearing on credibility but may get into privacy issues. Generally, what I have in mind is more like tallying the number of false statements that are found in the published works. Basically approaching the subject scientifically rather than presuming we know who all the reliable sources are before we have seen any serious investigation. As an example, I'm thinking of the movie Manufacturing Consent where researchers cut out of newspapers, all the words devoted to a despot allied with the newspaper's government, and compared this to how many words were devoted to the enemy despot. (They actually laid all these clippings out on a large floor.) It showed the newspaper's bias. Lumenos (talk) 11:06, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Actually, Lumenos' complaint fails much earlier in its formulation.

Lumenos, Wikipedia does not prohibit "original research" in the plain-English sense. It prohibits WP:Original research, a very specialized and more limited sense. You have fallen for the map-territory fallacy: The name of the policy is not the policy itself.

WP:OR -- the actual policy, not your unfounded assumptions based on the title -- directly says that selecting sources is not a violation of Wikipedia's policies. The exact words are, "Research that consists of collecting and organizing material from existing sources within the provisions of this and other content policies is encouraged: this is "source-based research", and it is fundamental to writing an encyclopedia."

Note that this issue applies to many other subjects: Some wikt:notable subjects are not WP:Notable; some wikt:verifiable facts are not WP:Verifiable, and so forth. See WP:POLICY#Adherence: "the plain-English definition of the page's title or shortcut may be importantly different from the linked page."

If you can explain to me how "collecting and organizing material from existing sources...is encouraged" somehow amounts to "collecting and organizing material from existing sources...is prohibited as WP:Original research", then we'll talk, but I think you should give this up, because your premise is fatally flawed.

As for your solution: Aside from the fact that it's massive overkill for a problem affecting a tiny number of sources in a small number of articles, and that what makes a source reliable by our definition includes how it is used (so this why-I-picked-this-source essay would have to be updated with every round of revision), we're still trying to get all of our editors to name their sources at all, remember? People who don't quite bother pasting in a bare URL are highly unlikely to write an essay on why they selected a given source. The community is extremely unlikely to accept any such proposal. If you want to establish this, though, I suggest that you start providing model essays for every source that you use. Just place them on the article's talk pages. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:23, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Reply to WhatamIdoing 16:23, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

In this section I'm clipping quotes from WhatamIdoing post dated 16:23, 24 March 2010 (UTC) so that I can respond to specific statements. Lumenos (talk) 04:26, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

As for your solution: Aside from the fact that it's massive overkill for a problem affecting a tiny number of sources in a small number of articles[...] quote of WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:23, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

For what purpose is it overkill? Even if we know who all the reliable sources are, that doesn't mean the readers do. It doesn't usually help a creationist to tell them that some expert says evolution happened. This is an appeal to authority. Creationism may be more popular than evolution(ism) so this is alone is a major issue. There are thousands of controversial issues where published sources disagree. Lumenos (talk) 04:26, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

Lumenos, Wikipedia does not prohibit "original research" in the plain-English sense. It prohibits WP:Original research, a very specialized and more limited sense. You have fallen for the map-territory fallacy: The name of the policy is not the policy itself. quote of WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:23, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

If you are saying that original research is defined differently in wp:OR, I don't see how that would contradict anything I have said. I'm not claiming Wikipedia violates its own policy, although I think the policy can lead to doublespeak and hypocrisy such as by making appeals to authority (on controversial matters). Lumenos (talk) 04:26, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

"If you can explain to me how "collecting and organizing material from existing sources...is encouraged" somehow amounts to "collecting and organizing material from existing sources...is prohibited as WP:Original research", then we'll talk, but I think you should give this up, because your premise is fatally flawed. " quote of WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:23, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

WP:OR doesn't forbid this "original research", it actually requires original research, correct? I think I was debating that point with Viriditas but it seems you, Someguy1221, and I, agree there. Lumenos (talk) 04:26, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
That is the premise of my next argument. I'm suggesting that for controversial subjects, this "original research" be organized more like wiki articles and possibly incorporated into wiki articles. If this "original research" is reliable enough to choose the sources -- the very foundations of "good" articles -- why is it not considered reliable enough to be included in articles? Lumenos (talk) 04:26, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

[...]we're still trying to get all of our editors to name their sources at all, remember? People who don't quite bother pasting in a bare URL are highly unlikely to write an essay on why they selected a given source. The community is extremely unlikely to accept any such proposal.[...] quote of WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:23, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

I apologize if I seemed to be proposing a site-wide policy be implemented by force. I'm rather suggesting that a template for something like "Wikiproject sources" be used on talk pages (as I tried to explain previously) whenever it may seem necessary. Secondly, I'm saying that the original research involved with choosing sources be held to similar reliability standards as articles (or vice versa). Lumenos (talk) 04:26, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

Note that this issue applies to many other subjects: Some wikt:notable subjects are not WP:Notable; some wikt:verifiable facts are not WP:Verifiable, and so forth. See WP:POLICY#Adherence: "the plain-English definition of the page's title or shortcut may be importantly different from the linked page." quote of WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:23, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Notability is a bit different. Notability is more subjective than reliability, and I'm not sure a better criteria can be found. Secondly, we already link article talk pages to notability discussions, because this is the basic criteria in deciding WP:AFD. (If an article name is notable but the content has those other problems, the article could be blanked but should not be deleted, IMO.) If a subject is not "notable" it won't have a talk page or an article to link to, because it will be deleted. However, I do think that AfD discussions that have come up 10 times could benefit from organizing the arguments wiki-style, rather than using the talk page format exclusively. Lumenos (talk) 04:26, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

People who don't quite bother pasting in a bare URL are highly unlikely to write an essay on why they selected a given source. The community is extremely unlikely to accept any such proposal. If you want to establish this, though, I suggest that you start providing model essays for every source that you use. Just place them on the article's talk pages. quote of WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:23, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

I think wikified arguments are better than essays written by only one person.
I did a little examination of one source, but they are self-published and have no Wikipedia article. I ended up deleting most of it, but here is what remained Talk:Multi_boot#www.multibooters.co.uk_as_a_source.
But the problem with using talk page sections is they get archived and this breaks any links to them. Perhaps a subpage would be permissible when the info can't be incorporated directly into an article. The purpose is so that anywhere the source is used as a reference in Wikipedia, it will link to the evaluations of the source.
We often incorporate evaluations/criticisms of "sources" into wiki articles. For example, the great holy books are unreliable sources and we could show you why at Criticism of the Bible or Criticism of the Qur'an. The followers of religions are unreliable sources concerning supernatural matters and we have Unfulfilled religious predictions or Criticism of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help make that case. Associated Press would be a "wp:reliable source" I suppose but if this section -> Associated Press / controversies is filled with a lot of information to the contrary, we may have to re-evaluate that claim. Rush Limbaugh is not reliable... he's extremist or something; so we can put the evidence of his unreliability here -> Rush_Hudson_Limbaugh#Claims_of_inaccuracy instead of only in wp:RSN where fewer people are likely to see it, rebut it, or add to it.
I'm talking about using this kind of evidence to evaluate the reliability of sources in a more organized way. As it is wp:RSN is just a hodgepodge of votes and comments that gets buried in an archive and forgotten. Instead we should use a more wikified subpage or article to have real consensus-building that is in a permanent location. Lumenos (talk) 06:56, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
Even if you decide that source-based research is original research, we don't care. Wikipedia's requirements are here, not there. Wikipedia's requirements are Wikipedia's requirements. If you meet Wikipedia's actual requirements, you have met the requirements. Concepts that seem to be related because of the imperfect name we chose are not Wikipedia's requirements and do not have to be taken into account, full stop.
Do you understand this? WhatamIdoing (talk) 14:55, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
I understand you "don't care" but your only concern seems to be following Wikipedia's policies, not improving or evaluating them. Lumenos (talk) 18:13, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
This first proposal doesn't require changing any Wikipedia policy that I am aware of. I'm not asking you to do anything but perhaps comment as to why you think this is a bad idea. Assume that I figure out how to do this myself, or I find someone else who is willing to make some WikiProject templates. Lumenos (talk) 19:25, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
By the way, I have been having problems connecting to Wikipedia lately and so did a search on wp:status. A notice at the top of that page directed me to this site explaining the recent service outage: http://www.ezyang.com/wikistatus/ Lumenos (talk) 18:41, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

Proposal for "WikiProject Sources"

This is a proposal for a WikiProject to be named "WikiProject Sources". (I may copy this somewhere else, but I'm putting it here for now, as it is a continuation of this line of thought.) Lumenos (talk) 18:13, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

The first template would be for talk pages, in the same WikiProjectBannerShell as the WikiProjects templates on this page. Any editor could put the template on the talk page of any article about a potential source that is "reliable", "unreliable", "of unknown reliability", etc. It would have one link to a general description of the WikiProject and a second link to a subpage of the article. The subpage would be permanent place to link to any wp:RSN discussions of the source and create a wikified "document" about any evidence regarding the reliability of the source. Any evidence about the reliability of a source, which is itself based on a "wp:reliable source" could be incorporated into the article. Lumenos (talk) 18:13, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

I would be opposed to this... we can't label any source as being "reliable" or "unreliable" in this way, because reliability depends on context. A source that is reliable in one context may be unreliable in another, and vise-versa. It can even get down to the granularity of needing to examine whether a given source is reliable or unreliable for a specific phrasing of a sentence. Each reliability question is unique and must be answered on its own. Blueboar (talk) 20:12, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
The proposal is not necessarily to label sources as "reliable" or "unreliable" but to have a permanent location for all evaluations that pertain to the source. These complexities underscore the need for this, rather than being an argument against. At the very least wouldn't it be helpful to have one place that could link to any wp:RSN discussions for a particular source? Lumenos (talk) 21:45, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
Take for example a WP:RSN discussion about a publisher. That discussion may pertain to all authors who the publisher published. Is there some other place where we can look up these evaluations of publishers, or is the search function at wp:RSN all we have currently? Reliable sources research is so fundamental, it deserves it's own wiki, if it can't be done at Wikipedia. Lumenos (talk) 21:45, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

Trying to assertain where this example would stand w.r.t. PSTS

This is an issue with notability, and I'm trying to reconcile what, to mean, appears to be a significant gap between the definitions of primary and secondary sources.

Imagine there is a book, X. That book wins a notable award, along with other books during a given event. A major newspaper (unaffiliated with the book or the award) publishes an article that simply announces the books, including X, that won that award at that event and goes into no other details on the book itself.

With respect to the book X, what is the nature - primary or secondary - of the newspaper article?

As per what is right now listed, it doesn't come off as primary, since the newspaper is removed from the involvement of the book or award. Nor at the same time it doesn't appear secondary, since it is simply reporting a fact and not attempting deeper analysis or the like of the award (it is only the case that it is at least one step removed from the actual book). And it certainly doesn't seem to be a tertiary source since it is not a summary of other sources.

This gap, to me, is where many "news reporting" can fall into, and needless to say, can lead to problems in notability discussion. I think it would be of significant help in terms of notability issues if we can provide strong clarity - either way - of where these types of articles would fall into in such cases. (I know that there are times the same article can be primary for one topic and secondary for the next, so I'm not looking for specifically what news articles fall into, just looking at the type of content that is involved such as the example above). --MASEM (t) 22:43, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

...it doesn't come off as primary, since the newspaper is removed from the involvement of the book or award.
This consideration makes the newspaper article an "independent" and "third-party" source. It is not a characteristic that really allows you to judge primary/secondary issues. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:58, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
It's a secondary source, Masem, if you're talking about current events (what's primary and secondary can change as we become more distant from an event). Secondary sources needn't involve analysis. The policy says, "Secondary sources are second-hand accounts, at least one step removed from an event. They rely for their material on primary sources, often making analytic or evaluative claims about them" (my bold). The key is that the newspaper is a second-hand account, at least one step removed. If it has chosen to repeat the primary-source information verbatim, then it has so chosen. It wasn't involved, it has no first-hand knowledge, it need not have reproduced the primary source material entirely, and perhaps it didn't do it accurately. We'd have to check. Point is, it's a secondhand account. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 23:04, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
There are differing conventions for news reporting. Some sources would classify newspaper reports like that as primary sources (e.g. [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]). Others would classify the newspaper report as a secondary source. For the purposes of Wikipedia, they are usually considered secondary sources, for better or worse. In general, we require that our article are written primarily from secondary sources, and so the definition of "secondary source" that we employ is somewhat restricted by that requirement; it would be impractical for us to consider newspaper reports as primary sources. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:18, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Ha ha, you broke your promise. That means I get to break mine. :D SlimVirgin TALK contribs 02:00, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Oh no. In any case, I thought it was somewhat misleading to not mention the large number of references that do consider contemporaneous news reporting to be a primary source. However, I think my comment is as neutrally worded as could be managed. — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:48, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Then we shouldn't really use the term "secondary source" if Wikipedia requires something above and beyond what is normally required from such sources, which can also come from other sources, including sometimes primary sources.Jinnai 02:50, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
It's not that our policy completely disagrees with "what is normally required". It's that different references treat some things differently; the typing of a source is hard to separate from its use. There are references that would support the way that the policy defines things; it's just that there are also some that disagree if you look at the entire body of references about source typing.
A different reasonable answer to Masem's question is that we accept mainstream newspaper reporting as a perfectly reliable and usable source, and that the primary/secondary distinction is not so crucial for this particular type of sources. — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:56, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
I understand the P vs S has been discussed at length long before, but I feel that we're still missing a hole here in explaining where "routine" news coverage (no op-ed pieces) usually falls, understanding there's so many cavaets to that discussion.
My issue is that we already have a "first vs third party" understanding to describe the relationship of the work to the topic - what we need for verification - while the nature of source, whether it is simply factual or goes into analysis, etc., is the primary/secondary/tertiary axis and what is necessary for NOR/NPOV/Notability claims. By mixing the relationship and the type of coverage into our definition, while it simplifies it, it also opens the door to misuse by those less skilled in the art. (the concern I'm seeing are people asserting that the name-dropping of a topic in a factual manner in several third-party sources would be considered "secondary" for purposes of NOR/NPOV/Notability.) Personally, I'd rather define our sources along at least those two axes - first/third and primary/secondary/tertiary, because that makes understanding what type of sourcing is appropriate for the other various policies. This would primarily be necessitated by reworded, but not otherwise changing the concept of PSTS. However, again, I know this section has been at odds numerous types before, but again, it is not clear as it can be. --MASEM (t) 03:02, 22 March 2010 (UTC)


SV, please consider this scenario:
The professional sports journalist goes to the game. S/he writes down what happened in front of his own eyes (e.g., somebody won). The story is published in a typical dead-tree newspaper, e.g. The Miami Herald.
How is this eye-witness report "secondhand", much less "secondary"? WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:12, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
If a reporter sees something and writes up an eyewitness account with no analysis, the story's a primary source. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 03:21, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
So when you said, "The key is that the newspaper is a second-hand account... It wasn't involved, it has no first-hand knowledge... Point is, it's a secondhand account", then you probably meant something more like, "I think you'll find it's a bit too complicated to make sweeping assertions"?
IMO the story that Masem suggests above could be primary or secondary: the classification depends on the details that the hypothetical scenario does not provide. If the story is based on what the reporter saw at the awards ceremony, then it's a primary source. If it's based on press releases from the award-giver or the recipients, then it might be a secondary source (according to at least some definitions, including Wikipedia's). WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:32, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Not sure I follow your point. Masem's example had nothing to do with a reporter witnessing something. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 03:34, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Would there be a difference if it was 1) a reporter sitting in the audience of the ceremony (or watching the ceremony remotely, or anything like that), making notes about who won, and translating that to an article published the next day, and 2) a reporter receiving a press release from the award-giving organization and reiterating its details in an article. In both cases, the content of the resulting articles would be the same. --MASEM (t) 03:50, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
The difference is whether you yourself see something or not, or are otherwise directly involved in it. It's not a complicated idea, thought it can slip and slide depending on various things, including timeframe. But the basic concept is simplicity itself. If you personally witnessed or heard something, or were in some other way directly involved it, or involved in making it happen, any story you tell about that thing is likely to be a primary source. But if you're taking your information from someone else, your story is a secondary one. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 03:57, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
I'm having a hard time accepting this only because of the emphasis we place on "secondary" sources in NOR/NPOV/Notability and other areas. An article can be written with exactly the same language and content, but if behind the scenes the writer actually experienced the event, it becomes primary, while if it is from other sources, it's secondary. But without knowing what the writer did, there's no way to assert that. I understand what you are saying and agree, in the present way the framework is written, why it is this way, but I hope you understand that there's a significant impreciseness here that we have built other policies on that lead to long-winded discussions of issues relating to those policies, because the definitions of "primary" and "secondary" are vague at points. --MASEM (t) 04:19, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Not sure I follow your point. Masem's example had nothing to do with a reporter witnessing something.
The fact that Masem's story does not provide the necessary information is exactly my point. We cannot know whether Masem's story would be properly classified as first-hand or second-hand, much less whether it is primary or secondary, because Masem didn't give us the necessary information to make that determination. The only accurate answer to Masem's question sounds a lot more like "it depends" than "it's ____". WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:30, 22 March 2010 (UTC)


Masem asked: With respect to the book X, what is the nature - primary or secondary - of the newspaper article?

Because the newspaper made no transformation of the information, on the historiographical primary source / secondary source distinction, it is a primary source.

One could perhaps argue that by selecting the information, the newspaper is implying that the award is more significant than other awards. This assumes that the newspaper applies some measure, that it is not random, and that it doesn’t report every award. This is a weak argument for a trivial amount of secondary source material. However, with regard to WP:N, the reporting of the award can be taken as objective evidence of notability. Independent secondary sources are not the only sources of objective evidence of notability, they are just the easiest and most common.

A primary source does not need to be not one step removed. My use of a photocopier 100 years later on the other side of the planet does not convert a primary source into a secondary source, per standard historiographical usage. A journalist or antique collector might disagree, but we are not journalists or antiques collectors.

I disagree with SlimVirgin’s assertions and logic. Further, I point out that she is quoting text from the policy that she fights hard to prevent improvement, and which is not to be found in any external reputable source. True, secondary sources don’t need “analysis”, but they do require some kind of transformative addition, whether it is satire, ridicule, contextualisation, or nearly anything else that is the product of the author of the secondary source The “second-hand account” = “secondary source” is an old but false wikipedia perversion. I guess that it relates to journalistic or scientific usage of “primary source”, where it means “original source”. I am aware of such usage, but note that I have never seen people who use it so make any use of the term “secondary source”. This idea of “second-hand account” has more to do with our usage of “independent source” than it does with secondary source, which can be read in full by following the link. SlimVirgin is committed to her view, but it is not the historiographical usage that is appropriate for timeless encyclopedia.

The truth with newspaper articles is that they are usage dependent, but there is a quick and easy way to roughly differentiate. If the article is a “story”, it is probably a secondary source. The article is a “report”, it is probably a “primary source”. Masem’s original question appears to be describing a report.

My view for what should change here is that we should stop redefining “secondary source” as ‘’always’’ including newspapers, which we do so that they automatically meet the criteria of WP:N, but explicitly acknowledge that multiple independent newspaper articles (avoiding “report” & “story”) are sufficient evidence of notability of the subject of the articles, regardless of the primary/secondary distinction. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:17, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

@WhatamIdoing: I think we need something clearer then. If by unconsciously, or perhaps deliberately (i don't want to assume bad faith, but I am not going to stick my head in the sand and say it never happens), withholding information it can cause our policies on this issue, an issue crucial to WP:N, to be in doubt then it should be made much clearer. We need a way that just looking at the material to have a way to decide when in doubt.
@SmokeyJoe: I think the reporting of the award itself would qualify, it like you said, it is not random and shows some level of discretion (what level I don't know as anything that doesn't publish every single published award is showing some level of discretion). I will admit it is weak, but sometimes when you have something that was recently given the award, that's all you have as far as secondary sources for a short time that are easily accessible. Since we're a community driven encyclopedia, having an article around where someone has a source that is harder to find, but is more depth actually makes it more likely for someone to cotribute to the page if it exists rather than if it doesn't.
I do think defining secondary sources as requiring "analysis" is what the problem is. I think the use of "tranformative or analytical" would be more appropriate because, as you've said, secondary sources don't require analysis; if we require that for WP:N, well then that's different, but we shouldn't be rewriting commonly used words that will be misunderstood by the larger public to mean something more narrow than the public uses. this is why WP:Fair use is WP:Non-free content.Jinnai 17:46, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Jinnai, I support improvements to this page, but this topic is complicated. We'll never be able to correctly classify every source at a glance. Reducing it to a simple black-and-white rule means that we'll get it wrong.
Also, we don't have to solve this problem by changing the definition; we could just make an exception. I'd support a footnote at WP:N that says, essentially, "Recently published, in-depth news articles, unless they are obviously eye-witness or first-person accounts, normally count as secondary sources for the purpose of determining notability." WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:47, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Sorry if it sounded like I said we need something that is black-or-white, but it is clear we need something that is clearer than we have now. Just because we cannot make something crystal clear is no excuse for making something clearer. We also need to use a term that isn't commonly used to mean something else when we mean something narrower; that has precedent that makes sense. There is no reason to purposefully confuse those unfamiliar with the rules by giving them a definition which outside Wikipedia means one thing and inside here, and generally only here, means another. Keeping the status quo will only invite arguments to arise because of the way words get used in the general public which does have resonance even with other Wikipedians. When you use certain words, even if you mean something different, it will be interpreted by the most commonly used thing and lead to grudges and hatred and people leaving because we don't seem to get that phrase X means Y by its common definition.Jinnai 20:46, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Wikipedia has never preferred dictionary definitions over its own policies. Consider wikt:notability vs WP:Notability, wikt:neutral vs WP:Neutral, and so forth.
Wikipedia has a particular group of things that it means when it requires secondary sources. Secondary source is the closest plain-language equivalent, but there is no word for "Wikipediary source", and we have declined to create a neologism. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:20, 22 March 2010 (UTC)


Something clearer? How about

Sometimes it is difficult to decide if a particular source is primary or secondary. Maybe you are pretty sure that it is primary but someone else is arguing that it is secondary. On these occasions, it is best to remember that this is a guideline on how to apply other policies and guidelines, most importantly the policy no original research and the guideline on notability. Don't worry too much if the source is primary or secondary. If the issue is notability, look at the general notability guideline and any area-specific guidelines such as WP:Notability (books). In the case of the general notability guideline, although it mentions secondary sources as part of the explanation, it more prominently states that sources should be independent of the subject. Think about whether the source is independent of the subject.

I think that deals with it quite effectively. Yaris678 (talk) 20:58, 22 March 2010 (UTC)


This comes down to something I have often said (to the point where I sound like a broken record)... what is important isn't whether a source is Primary or Secondary... but whether it is being used appropriately. In the case of NOR the question is: Does the source appropriately support what has been written in the article (or has an editor gone beyond the source, stating conclusions or interpretations that are not actually in the source). In the case of Notability, the question is: does the source indicate that the topic is notable in the world at large (beyond a limited group of adherents/fans/hobbyists).
In other words... I don't think it matters whether the newspaper report is primary or secondary. What matters is whether it is being used appropriately or not. Blueboar (talk) 22:14, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
In the case of WP:N, the distinction matters because it is the source's existence, not its use, that matters. A subject is notable if a lot of sources discuss it, even if none of these sources are used at all. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:20, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
I disagree: Wiki-Notability exists as a measure of a Wikipedia article's potential, not as a measure of a topic's "worth". If a source can't be appropriately used in an article it may as well not exist. Nifboy (talk) 22:32, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
The issue primary/secondary sources as they relate to notability should really be discussed at WP:NOTE... This page is for discussing them as they relate to the concept of No original research. That said... I think the problem this discussion highlights is that WP:NOR defines primary/secondary slightly differently than WP:NOTE does. I don't really have a problem with that... but then, I am an experienced editor who knows what both NOR and NOTE mean when they use these terms. I could see a new editor being confused. Blueboar (talk) 12:46, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
It's true that how they should be used is NOTE territory, but if we don't start with the same agreed definitions that are used for other aspects, we create gaps that make it difficult for newer editors. The identification of sources as PSTS, first- or third-party, dependent or independent, (all with respect to a specific topic) should be a reasonably objective test that anyone can do without having to dig. Reliability - that's a different issue, but the type of source should not be a guessing game. Right now, as PSTS is written, it is per the example. --MASEM (t) 12:55, 23 March 2010 (UTC)

Let me offer how I have always used PSTS as a possible discussion point. To me, every source can be easily qualified into two - possibly three - axes (there's also the reliability measure, but that's less objective than these three axes so I'm not worried about it here):

  • First- vs third-person. Generally straight-forward; accounts from someone directly involved with the topic will always be a first-person source, otherwise its third-person. Necessary for WP:V.
  • Dependent vs independent source. This is the questionable axis, as it could be combined with the above. Describes any affiliation to the topic at hand. There is no such thing as a independent first-party source, but there can be dependent third-party sources (eg, the FOX Network would be a dependent, third-party source for any information regarding the The Simpsons) Necessary to avoid POV/COI-type issues.
  • Primary, secondary, and tertiary. When you remove the above two axes, these become very clear - particularly in light of the word "transformative" that someone suggested above. This is necessary for NOR and important towards understanding notability
    • Primary sources are non-transformative works based on few or no other sources. Eg it is factual data and accounts of the topic at hand.
    • Secondary sources are transformative, taking primary and other sources and performing analysis, synthesis, comparisons, criticism, and a host of other techniques to state something new.
    • Tertiary sources are non-transformative works based on summarizing other primary, secondary, and tertiary sources.

This language is far from perfect, but hopefully its understood why this makes it easier to identify sources. With this, most newspaper articles (routine coverage) become independent third-party primary sources, such as the example above. There's still a bit of fuzziness, and you still have the problem that an article can be one type of source for one topic and another type for a different topic - eg you cannot immediately characterize all articles of a given type into one bin, but that's something we're not able to get around. --MASEM (t) 14:05, 23 March 2010 (UTC)


Masem, I think you have it pretty right. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 14:14, 23 March 2010 (UTC)

Additionally -- and this is a point that I think more editors need to be aware of -- some sources are both primary and secondary. Consider "Case report of (name an exceedingly rare disease), and review of the previous literature" -- which is not an unusual kind of publication in certain medical journals. The "case report" half of the paper is a primary source, and the "review of previous literature" is a secondary source.
Classifying sources is often hard, but in some cases, it's basically impossible to pigeonhole a source into a single category. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:26, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
Agree. Some newspaper articles I've attempted to analyse require the distinction to be made sentence by sentence. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:28, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Masem's definition, "Tertiary sources are non-transformative works based on summarizing other primary, secondary, and tertiary sources", I find striking. I have never seen such a definition of tertiary source before, but it makes so much sense. So many works are secondary works based only on previous secondary works, but are not what anyone calls a "tertiary source" The definition works very well for Wikipedia. We do not want our editors including their own commentary (or other transformation) on existing sources. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:28, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Advancing a position

Are we allowed to advance positions in proportion to the extent that most people would consider them truthful? 99.56.137.254 (talk) 11:49, 23 March 2010 (UTC)

No... our job is not to advance any position... our job is to explain what the various positions are and who holds them (giving each view Due Weight in proportion to what reliable sources say) See: WP:Neutral point of view for more on this. Blueboar (talk) 12:32, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
In considering how much weight for different positions is due, how much should the accuracy of the position matter? 99.56.137.254 (talk) 13:35, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
In a technical article, like General number field sieve, a lot. If it is one of many political viewpoints, held by a significant group of people, then it should be reported along with the others. Stephen B Streater (talk) 13:48, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
Actually, no. Due weight is assessed by the degree to which a position or view is discussed and supported by reliable sources, not by whether we think it is accurate or not. To put this another way: what matters is whether reliable sources think something is accurate, not whether we think it is. I might think the prevailing scholarship on some technical matter is completely wrong, and that a minority view is more accurate... my views on the matter are irrelevant. Conversely, I might think that a minority view is absolute rubbish... Again, my views are irrelevant. What matters is what the reliable sources say. The article should mention all significant viewpoints... giving more weight to the view point held by the majority of reliable sources, and less weight to the minority views that are discussed by reliable sources. That said, some views are held by such a tiny group that mentioning them at all can be considered giving them undue weight... we have a guideline that deals with these (see: WP:FRINGE). Blueboar (talk) 16:27, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
Unfortunately Wikipedia has no mechanism for actually measuring weight of academic opinion.
Imagine 350 sources say that a particular bird is blue, and 23 say it is usually green.
The article on the bird can present both colours and state that blue is the usual colour, but there have been some reports of green. However, only one or two references will be given for each viewpoint, so a new editor visiting the article having only seen sources calling it green (and being able to cite them) will have no way of measuring "due weight".
Prof Wrong (talk) 16:44, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes, we do.
Our mechanism for measuring the weight of academic opinion is: You.
All editors should do this.
It is true that some editors are not very good, but over time, such problems have been, and will be, identified and corrected. Remember that WP:There is no deadline, and please WP:VOLUNTEER to do your bit. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:26, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
Exactly. Per WP:NPOV, the goal of the editors on a page is to reach consensus as to the relative weight to assign the various views, in proportion to their preponderance among all verifiable reliable sources. It is an iterative process, never fully converging, like the rest of the article writing process, but hopefully it can get us close to an optimal point. Crum375 (talk) 18:46, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
To expand on the bird example... I would write something like: "The majority of birding books describe the Rosy Cheeked Titwatcher as being predominantly blue in color, but a significant minority describe it as being green"... Thus mentioning both views and given each due weight. Obviously this gets harder the more complicated and contentious the issue is... but it can be done. Blueboar (talk) 18:58, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
None of the above accounts for any way of maintaining a verifiable audit trail of weight of opinion. There is no statistical measure of due weight. If there is a complete, 100% change in the editors for a particular article, there will be no clear and concise reasoning for the current form of the article. Prof Wrong (talk) 11:51, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
Ideally, editors are aware of the reliable sources that discuss the topic, and know what these sources say about the topic. Due Weight is neutrally determined by what these sources say (and not by the editors' personal views). Since the sources don't change, it should not matter if a new set of editors comes to an article... because they would reach the same neutral determination of weight based on the same set of sources. This is all better explained in our WP:Neutral point of view policy. I suggest that if there are further questions on this, that policy's talk page would be a better place to raise them. Blueboar (talk) 12:34, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

Mainspace: Yes, but get the position reliably published before even mentioning it here, and then declare your WP:COI.
Project space/User space: You may write essays relevant to the project. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:18, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Guessing years of birth is not routine calculation

At WP:NOR#Routine calculations, I had added: "However, this does not condone guessing someone's year of birth in a WP:BLP article," because giving someone an erroneous year of birth can have consequences in real life. However, User:Orderinchaos reverted this, without giving any reason. /Pieter Kuiper (talk) 15:52, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

"Guessing" anything is not a "routine calculation". If we are guessing we are violating NOR, for any topic, so focusing on one type of guesswork could imply that others are OK. In any case, it would not belong in this section. Crum375 (talk) 16:34, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
The policy allowing routine calculation was referred to here to justify writing that someone was born in 1991 - 16 = 1975. While the subtraction of the numbers just uses trivial arithmetic, the calculation must include assumptions, and those assumptions can only be guesses. As everyone should know, there will in general be a choice of two years of birth. The section uses age as something that can be calculated from a birth year. As the diff shows, it is necessary to point out that one should not make the calculation the other way around, at least not for living persons. /Pieter Kuiper (talk) 17:03, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
As long as no guessing is involved and reliable sources are used for input data, routine calculations such as simple arithmetic are allowed. Guessing is not allowed. The example you cite in your diff has to do with calculating a person's birth year, which is not mentioned in this section, and requires knowledge of the person's exact age in days on a given date (or their birthday). Crum375 (talk) 17:39, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
Regarding the general premise - the main time it happens in my home project is politicians from states where an accurate biographical register of current MPs (beyond very basic info, such as when elected and, if a minister, portfolios held) is not maintained either online or offline. Often an age is made available on the party's website at the time of election but the year or DOB is not. Some (e.g. Geoff Brock, who has now won two elections) are entirely unknown. Orderinchaos 18:23, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
If all we have is the person's age on a given date (and no birthday date), we can say something like "born ca. 1966", if we need to. A footnote can explain that "according to [reliable source X], he was 44 years old on March 24, 2010." The one thing we may not do is guess. Crum375 (talk) 18:47, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
By an odd coincidence, one of my GAs from a year ago is footnoted that way. Does that look appropriate to you, Crum? Durova412 19:29, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
In your case it's even more vague, since we need to allow for "over 30 years ago." But the math is straightforward and it's not a BLP, and we present the sourced information so that any user can verify it, so I see no problem with it. Crum375 (talk) 20:26, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
(I read about this thread at WP:AE). I agree with Crum that we should not guess a year, based on the information that someone was age X in year Y, because not knowing the precise birthday, any guess has an average 50% chance of being wrong. The question is, is this point important enough to mention in policy? --JN466 21:00, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
The text now gives computing age from a birthdate as an example of a routine calculation. It would seem to be obvious that this does not endorse doing the inverse calculation. But intelligent people seem to need the pointer, see the diff that I gave above and also this one, where even the date of publication is invoked. /Pieter Kuiper (talk) 07:35, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
And also Sandstein here referred to this policy as seeming to justify doing the inverse calculation. /Pieter Kuiper (talk) 07:51, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Pieter, you were warned at Arbitration Enforcement for hounding a user over this Scientology-related article on this point. I would suggest that desisting at this point would be the best way to avoid a sanction over your conduct (especially since the matter in question could have been resolved so easily with a reference.) Orderinchaos 17:31, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
Taking the liberty of refactoring Orderinchaos's post to hounding. Feel free to revert if you feel strongly, but we should be sparing about using strong terms. Especially with regard to editors who edit under their real names. Respectfully, Durova412 18:25, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
(I approve of that edit.) Orderinchaos 18:27, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that an explicit prohibition is either necessary or effective. The small subset of editors who are willing substitute their guesses for verifiable information aren't the kind of editors who read the directions in the first place. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:16, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

All of Wikipedia content is either plagiarism or original research!

I propose that we replace the NOR standard with a 'Original Research Only' standard. Any takers? Orthorhombic, 21:31, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Please read the article on tertiary sources. That's what we're doing here. Viriditas (talk) 21:36, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Orthorhombic, you might be interested in checking out Wikiversity, it's a sister project to Wikipedia that welcomes Original Research. Blueboar (talk) 22:36, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Well, half of Wikipedia is OR. Time to face reality. North8000 (talk) 00:31, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

Which half? Blueboar (talk) 01:20, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
About 50% of nearly every article, per the Wikipedia definition of OR, although it is not actually OR per the obvious "outside of Wikipedia" meaning of that term. This is not to say that there is anything categorically wrong with that. The issue is that an unrealistic (e.g. widely "violated") rule can be selectively invoked to wreck/attack any article, and create unwikipedian articles.
Sincerely,
North8000 (talk) 01:31, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Give us one specific example of an article which could be improved with a better policy, and explain exactly how. Crum375 (talk) 02:06, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

I think you are missing the point. The important issue is that rules should be universaly enforced or discarded. Otherwise, the rules may be enforced selectively to promote an someone's personal agenda. 12.72.74.74 (talk) 17:25, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

I'd settle for a specific example of a single featured article that is "about 50% original research", even if a better policy couldn't improve it. I don't believe that any FA violates this policy even in 10% of its sentences, much less 50%.
There are certainly articles that violate this policy (and every other policy), but I reject "nearly every article" as either irresponsible hyperbole or as indicating a complete failure to grok the policy. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:16, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Featured articles are the about 1/5,000 th (.0002) of the articles in Wikipedia that are most compliant with the policies, i.e. not representative. Y'all are good people and I don't want to start some painful exchange. But if you would like to mutually and pleasantly explore this further, I would be happy to do so and find examples as follows:
- A reasonably good, accurate, informative article that widely violates this. And where a GOOD, informative one could not be created that complies with this policy because nearly all useful expertise and knowledge in that field is inherently synthesis. I can give you that one right now, it's "Machine Vision". It also happens to be a field where the leading US magazine in that field asked me to write a definitive book, which I declined, and so I could offer some insight with respect to the nature of the main knowledge in that field.
- A good, more mainstream article, which widely violates this policy
- An article that is in really bad shape substantially due to this policy.
Sincerely,
North8000 (talk) 02:48, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Is Machine vision your example? If so, please explain how changing this or any other policy would improve this article. And please, no generalities, no hand-waving: pick one specific item in that article that we can focus on, which can be improved in your view with a different policy. Crum375 (talk) 03:05, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
That would be my example of the first of the three types that I mentioned. This is an accurate and informative (but too brief for the subject matter) article on a very large and important topic. Its in a field where knowledge on 90% of the field is acquired by either DOING machine vision and/or developing an understanding by deriving a "higher grade" picture from reading 1,000 low grade articles, and knowledge on the other 10% (the image processing side) can be acquired from high grade books.
Other than some smaller scale edits that I did, there has been no real contribution to the article since 2007. Plus the article is vulnerable to getting trashed by by what I call a "wiki-legal vandal", (the people who only attack articles, quoting [out of context] wiki policies, and never contribute to them)who could gut the article based on "violation" of Wikipedia policies. In my opinion, writing from expertise (which Wikipedia mistakenly calls "OR") should be allowed. (Only) if the VALIDITY of a statement is questioned (i.e. not just its lack of cite) then either a cite is produced or the statement is deleted. For this example:
- Prevent the article from getting gutted by a "wiki-legal vandal"
- Stop discouraging contributors, in a field where any useful contribution would be a violaiton of Wikipedia policies.
- In business, the experts who could best contribute to this will set you back $200-$300 per hour. The article is evidence that they are not going to waste their time knowing that whatever they would write is a "violation", which someone could criticize and remove without ever even question the validity of what was written.
Sincerely,
North8000 (talk) 12:53, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
North, you seem to misunderstand what this site is about. Our mission here is to create an encyclopedia, which is a tertiary source. This means that we summarize what verifiable reliable sources have published about a topic, and present this information in a neutral manner. This is not a blog, or an online forum, or a place to showcase our personal knowledge. In the case of your specific topic, unless there is reliably published information about it, we are not interested in it, as it falls outside our scope. Crum375 (talk) 15:53, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Hello Crum375 You created and refuted a straw dog ("blog...n-line-forum...showcase personal...) of what I said instead of what I actually said which essentially was about factual contributions in cases where there is NO challenge of the correctness of the statements. Further I think you are doing the OR [  :-) ] of deriving your own Wikipedia mission statement from the current rules instead of citing the actual Wikipedia mission statement, which the rules should implement. (Not that OR rules apply to discussion section. )
I was asked for an example, and I gave one. In light of what I said, should the uncited statments (essentially the whole article), most of which have been in there for over 3 years as such, be deleted because they violate WP policies? North8000 (talk) 16:35, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

North, please read our content policies, such as WP:NOR, which says, "Wikipedia is a tertiary source", and WP:V which says, "All quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation." What this means is that we don't use this site to post our own personal knowledge, but to report on what verifiable and reliable sources have published about a given topic. You ask what to do about material in an article which is "uncited", and the answer is simple: if it's challenged, likely to be challenged, or a quotation, and there is no reliable source cited for it, it should be removed. Crum375 (talk) 17:23, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

I think you'd be more effective arguing whether reliable sources are reliable simply due to consensus. I think often a source is credited with reliability due to the volume of material it produces with no opposition, and then uses the weight of reliability to push its view on controversial issues. Personally, I think reliability falls out from under sources when the issue is controversial, then due weight should be applied by the public opinion. Reliability leads to other problems. For example, a university is reliable, but a professor is not, yet the professor leans on the universities reliability to distribute his/her slant simply because it's supported by the president of said university. This happens a lot more in, say, the media due to the lack of peer review. However, the larger a system of peer review becomes the more it suffers from social engineering and hierarchical bias on controversial issues, but the more it is benefitted from the broad review on non-controversial issues. Even if not structurally supported, every large network will have a hierarchy of bias. IMO The implementations of socialism over the years proves this.
Large amounts of material goes unpublished, also, due to the inevitable lack of supply of peer-review. Respect from within generates a beneficial increase in reliability until its abused for 'profit'. Ultimately this falls on the shoulders of Wikipedia to create a community of editors that have no bias when including reliable sources. Yet, they will support what they will by pointing to reliability, yet use that against what they disagree with.
What I'm trying to establish is that Wikipedia suffers from two layers of bias. The first layer being the bias among the reliable sources due to the inevitable establishment of hierarchy which is built upon reliability actually earned used as weight in controversial debate to write history on the matter. The second layer being the bias among the editors in wiki that use it's complex rules to overlook errors in their favor and cite rules out of context to delete views against their favor.
If we simply want to rely on the rules, a robot can run this site. --Cflare (talk) 19:35, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Indeed, a huge amount of Wikipedia's content is in violation of its policies. Fundamentally, it all goes to enforcing verifiability with teeth, which we have never done. If we simply enforced requiring referencing, we would cut the amount of OR by 90% as a side result of that, without ever needing to mention it. Of course, every time anyone has proposed a process to do this, it has been shot down (we are drowning and the hole we have dug is very deep). The OP's apparent point is not well taken though. The idea seems to be analogous to "crime is rampant so let's get rid of the laws".--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 03:00, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

"All of Wikipedia content is either plagiarism or original research!" -- OP

Quotes and sourced paraphrases I don't believe would qualify as plagiarism. It may be "stealing" according to the spirit of intellectual property but it is certainly legal. Lumenos (talk) 09:18, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Just so you all know... the initial comment here was inspired by an AFD debate on an article the OP wrote. He leaves a similar comment at the AFD. Blueboar (talk) 13:18, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the info. I think that few would agree with their "plagiarism" characterization, but the "OR" part, while overstated, strikes a chord with what is quite widely stated in WP by credible people. North8000 (talk) 14:34, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
North, "writing from expertise" is not a violation of WP:NOR -- unless nobody on the planet has published the claimed fact before. I could easily write whole articles about certain bits of biology "from my own expertise" without once transgressing this article. Even without referring to a single source, every single sentence I wrote "from my own expertise" would be still be fully verifiable and fully compliant with NOR.
If you continue to believe that "writing from expertise" is banned, then please provide me with a direct quotation from this page that says just that.
Additionally -- doubtless like other editors here -- I'm still waiting for your explanation of the purported NOR violations in Machine vision. Please provide us with a claim or two that is currently in the article and that you are certain is unverifiable because no one has ever published it outside of Wikipedia. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:39, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
I have come across and contributed to many technical articles which do not cite references. Often the knowledge is not formally documented as the audience would be too small to justify publication, but all the experts know each other as the area is so small. Not dissimilar to when my mother-in-law started computer programming, all the programmers knew each other. No one disputes the content as it is self-evident to anyone in the field, which evolves continuously. An example I saw recently is Computer Go. A wiki is a perfect environment to document man's knowledge. At some point, references may be written, and the article can be formalised. Stephen B Streater (talk) 23:07, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Stephen, there are currently 23 (twenty-three) inline refs in that article, plus eight papers and articles under ==Further reading== and a long list of External links. Google Scholar shows more than 500 papers on this subject.
How the heck do you get from twenty-three inline refs currently in the article, and hundreds of scholarly articles available, to "the knowledge is not formally documented"? WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:35, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
Take the section on Monte Carlo methods, which currently provide the strongest computer Go players. Do the reliable sources spring out for this? And the section Obstacles to high level performance is not controversial or original research but not documented in print particularly. Perhaps people now accept web-only sources more readily. And did the web sources come from reading the Wikipedia article anyway? On articles like this, the reliable sources often only appear after the content. This is a good practical source of information. Stephen B Streater (talk) 06:48, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
YES, web-only sources are acceptable! (Shall I set that to strong/bold/blink to get your attention?) Wikipedia cares whether our sources are reliable, not whether they involve a dead tree. Even blogs and other purely informal publications can meet the standard in some instances.
Web-only sources have been widely accepted for years now. I wonder how many more times we're going to have to say that before people start believing it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:54, 23 March 2010 (UTC)


  • I think the premise of the question here is wrong. Those asserting widespread WP:NOR violation seem to have a very soft definition of "Original", close to the point of omitting the word entirely. Of course "research" is used to contribute and edit material. The issue is whether this research is research that no one else has ever done (read published in a reliable source) before. I believe the original motivation of WP:NOR was to head off, especially, crackpot amateur theoretical physicists who wouldn't deign to to formal study for fear of the brainwashing. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:36, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes - Original research is different from uncited claims from one's own knowledge, which is much more common and less of a problem. I've been looking at the P_versus_NP_problem recently, and its implications on whether OR is harder than verification. Currently most experts believe that verification is fundamentally easier than creation of the original research, but for this class of problems, no one can prove it. Stephen B Streater (talk) 06:56, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
I think that the part of the policy that Crum375 quoted/paraphrased to me would be a good operative policy in this area, (the clarification which I added in parenthesis would make it even better): "if it's (accuracy is) challenged, likely to be challenged, or a quotation, and there is no reliable source cited for it, it should be removed. Unfortunately due to lack uf an underlying architecture, there is a lot of overlap (structurally this = DIFFERENT different statements on the same topic). This leads to a widespread impressions and abuses which conflict with the above. Here's a simple example. The wording in the policies clearly gives the impression that all "synthesis" and all uncited material is OR. and the title of the policy says "NO OR", therefore, the policy says no synthesis or uncited material. This widely held impression is completely different (and, in an operative sense conflicts with) "if it's (accuracy is) challenged, likely to be challenged, or a quotation, and there is no reliable source cited for it, it should be removed." which would be a good policy.
When I said "abuses" one should keep in mind the standard / wording test for writing good laws.."the question isn't what a good cop with do with it, the question is what will a bad cop do with it" If you look at any contentious WP article,you will see that nearly every one is eternally an unstable mess. The most common way to push an article towards one's own POV is to use selected portions of selected WP policies to game the system into making it a POV article. To do this they don't have to (and couldn't) win in "final arbitration", they just have mis-use Wikipedia policies (which the way they are written makes it easy to do) to make people give up and go away. It's more as I saw one editor write
"What you see here....appears to be the usual case of people in contentious articles who hold the most extreme views (generally a very small minority in the real world debate) seeking to tilt the article in their direction, whilst a number of less partial editors and admins attempt repeatedly to sooth the argument and keep the article impartial. In most of these articles I've observed, the end result is a rather shallow article, fluctuating content between one end and the other and lots of hard-working people getting more and more fed up and eventually throwing their hands up and quitting. It's a basic, basic weakness in the Wikipedia model that the persistent nature of the dogmatic will tend to win out over the well-meaning and sensible"
North8000 (talk) 11:28, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
North, what you are talking about is not a failure of wikipedia or of wikipedia articles, it's a failure of editors to understand or adhere to anything resembling a proper consensus model. Wikipedia has simply lost control of some pages, which are dominated by loose groups of editors bound and determined to make some point, completely resistant to proper communication from anyone not on their side. until wikipedia updates its consensus-related policies (strengthening civility rules, re-evaluating 3rr and similar rules, privileging reasoned discussion over grandstanding), the problem is not going to go away. best you can do is not contribute to it - if you want to work on those pages be calm, cool, civil, and slow, and let the idiocy going on around you slide past. --Ludwigs2 17:31, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
First, I can't take credit for that last paragraph, it was a quote from a discussion section. That said, of course, in the big picture you are not only 100% right, but you have gone right to the heart of the issue with contentious articles. The more ehtereal a policy is, the less likely that it will be used. "Undue weight" is another in that category. But, one of the results of the issues with the WP:V and WP:NOR policies is that they make the policies easy to misunderstand or misused. Even just tidying the up to eliminate overlap between policies and sections, and to bring ancilary wording in line with the oft-quoted operative clauses would help in this respect.North8000 (talk) 17:54, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
North, where exactly does this page say that unverified, but verifiable material is always OR? I want a direct quotation, please.
The absence of a footnote does not affect the only important fact (which is whether some reliable source has ever published the asserted information, not whether or not the editor named such a source). WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:18, 23 March 2010 (UTC)

Wikilinks inside quotes

I am not sure if this has been discussed or addressed somewhere, or if this page is the best venue, but here goes. Do we have a policy about wiki-linking words inside quotes? The pro is that it can provide readers with Wikipedia-based clarification of unfamiliar terms mentioned in the quote. The con is that the link could end up distorting the quote, either intentionally or inadvertently, since Wikipedia is not a reliable source, and in any case may not be what the source intended or meant. In some cases, doing this could effectively be putting words into the source's mouth, with potential violation of WP:NOR and WP:NPOV, among others. Thoughts? Crum375 (talk) 13:45, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

Thoughts... If a quote needs links to explain some terms, then it might be better to explain the meaning of the quote separately. I think quotes are best presented, as far as possible, in the original form, minimising square brackets, not altering emphasis, not highlighting mistakes with "sic", not highlighting ambiguities with in line explanations. There is room in the following sentences to do these things, if really required. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:48, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
This has definitely been discussed before, and such links simply shouldn't be done. The current language in WP:Linking#General points on linking style is a bit weak, though: "Items within quotations should not generally be linked; instead, consider placing the relevant links in the surrounding text or in the 'See also' section of the article." Hans Adler 23:56, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes, that language is weak, and is in a MOS guideline as opposed to a policy. I feel we should reproduce quotes as faithfully as possible, with original spelling and punctuation if at all possible. Adding wikilinks can in some cases introduce a layer of OR interpretation or a subtle POV slant. But if you look around WP, you'll find that quotes are very often wikilinked. Crum375 (talk) 00:01, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that this is a big enough problem to justify a prohibition here. Have you ever encountered a dispute that couldn't be resolved with a common-sense or MoS-based explanation of the disadvantages?
Also, just for reference, WP:the difference between policies and guidelines is not that following guidelines is optional. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:15, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Essays are just the opinion of random editors, and have no significance beyond that. The question here is whether we should decide that just like we don't tamper with the wording or spelling of quotes, we should also not link from those quoted words to wiki articles which may introduce an interpretation of what the original quote said or intended to say. Crum375 (talk) 00:28, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
I agree that potentially misleading wikilinks should be avoided in direct quotations, and editors should never do something like [[green|red]].
I do not agree that we need to state this (excellent) advice in a "policy", or that stating this in a "policy" rather than a "guideline" makes it magically more binding on editors.
Again: Have you ever seen a dispute over fixing an undesirable link in a direct quotation? If we don't have a problem -- if fixing these links produces no disputes -- then we don't need to spell it out for editors. Pages like this maintain their focus by avoiding both instruction creep in both the plain English and the Wikipedia-specific senses. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:34, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
It's not a matter or "dispute". It's more a matter of what's appropriate. Many of the existing quotes on WP have internal wikilinks. In some cases the link has a minimal effect on NPOV or NOR, in others it may introduce a subtle bias or change in meaning. In some cases it's intentional, in others it's just inadvertent. Because the linked article may change over time, the effect will not even be constant. The point is that by allowing these links, we are effectively tampering with the original quote, and possibly modifying its meaning. If we disallow this practice, we'll get more faithfully reproduced quotes, and have less room for intentional or unintentional bias. The problem is clearly there, if you take any random article with linked quotes, and the style guideline mentions it, so the question is whether NPOV or NOR should also mention it. Crum375 (talk) 02:00, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Agree, but not that here is the place to say it. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:03, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Crum, you're missing my major point: The people who put wikilinks in direct quotations are already not reading (and following) the directions. What makes you think that saying "Don't do it" on this page will be any more effective than the existing "Don't do it" on the other page?
You solve this problem by taking {{sofixit}} to heart, not by expanding the number of written instructions that nobody reads. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:45, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

The people who are doing this are everyone, just about, because there is no policy which says we shouldn't. And sofixit does not apply here — it's a project-wide issue: we need to decide what the policy is, and then stick to it. Crum375 (talk) 03:56, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

The people who are creating these links don't object when you fix it, so you don't need support from this page to fix the problem: You just need to go fix it. (I know: thousands of times.) If you explain why you changed it each time, you might very, very slowly start educating the mass of editors about what the rules already are.
The people who are creating these links will not read this page before doing exactly what we have already told them not to do. Very few editors actually read the directions. If the people who are doing this were the kind of people who read the directions, then they would already not be screwing up like this.
Look, you need this rule to be in the editors' heads, not on this page, right? I'm telling you that restating a "don't do it" on this page does not get the rule into editors' heads. If you don't believe me, then consider your own experience: There are fifty policy pages. Exactly how many have you read, start to finish, recently? Practically every one of them has been changed this month: Do you know what all the changes are? And if you don't read all the policies, and thus don't know what someone's added, then what makes you think that a person who knows so little about Wikipedia's ruleset that he's creating dubious wikilinks in direct quotations has ever read a single one, much less kept track of the recent changes in all fifty? WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:19, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
There are only three core content policies, and those are the ones I myself read first as a newbie. At the moment, none of them (or any of the others) say that adding links inside quotes is inappropriate. In fact, it's not even clear that they are — this is why I raised the question here. The point is that we need to have a clear policy first, then follow it; not start tilting at windmills without a clear idea of what we want. Crum375 (talk) 12:09, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
MOS:QUOTE, in the Linking subsection, says, "As much as possible, avoid linking from within quotes, which may clutter the quotation, violate the principle of leaving quotations unchanged, and mislead or confuse the reader." That's not a policy, but it is a guideline. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 23:25, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

(ec)Agree with WhatamIdoing. Advice against bad practices in quoting and linking need not be formulated in, or in terms of, core policy. Core policies form the earliest introductory pages for newcomers, and they should stick to the KISS principle. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:01, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
It depends what is being linked I think that editorial judgement needs to be used. There is a prohibition on over linking in general, but inside quotes from contemporary Civil War histories, where they inevitably call men by their contemporary rank, I find it useful if ambiguous titles like "Lord Carr" are linked to the correct person if they are not mentioned in narrative text of the article, because although I could do a Google search on the name (which I had to do when there was a mention of this title in an article, and then work our which Lord Carr is was, and create a dab page and an article on the man), for those that follow me it is far simpler to link to the correct article, than expect a reader to have to go to such lengths just to find out who the lord Carr was in a quote. -- PBS (talk) 07:31, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
The content of a direct quote can be clarified in prose surrounding the quote and/or in a footnote about the quote. Guidelines in MOS:QUOTE should be observed re the quote itself. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 00:01, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
The problem with that guideline is that it only says, "As much as possible, avoid linking from within quotes" (emphasis added), leaving a wide open door to linking inside quotes and arguments about what "as much as possible" means. We are also required to keep wiki-links outside quotes to a minimum, per WP:OVERLINK, so there is no bright line between them. Crum375 (talk) 00:20, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
As I read it, WP:OVERLINK leaves much more wiggle room than the the Linking subsection of MOS:QUOTE. Taken together, I read them as saying that linking is a matter for editorial judgement and that where wikilinks are provided, linking within direct quotes should be avoided as much as possible. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 00:24, 1 April 2010 (UTC)

wp:quote

There is a proposal to promote this.174.3.113.245 (talk) 06:26, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

Original Research On Philip Larkin

almost-instinct says on Wikipedia_talk:Quotations#Unable_To_Post: "For the biogs sections I chose quotes that had some relevence to that section of Larkin's life. The other quotes are from popular poems and can stand alone."

We already have an article listing of Philip Larkin's Poems.

His choice of quotes is original research. Can we get more feedback?96.52.92.106 (talk) 03:44, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Synth bullets

Are you sure you wanted to remove the bullets from the synth section? It's not clear why you removed them now since they have been in the section for awhile. --Bob K31416 (talk) 17:49, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

The section looks better with blockquotes, but the bullet points were making the blockquotes look odd, so I felt it was clearer without them. SlimVirgin talk contribs 17:51, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
I've put them back if you think the section was better with. SlimVirgin talk contribs 17:53, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Oh c'mon. That's not the way it was before you changed it. It looked like this. (I've got a feeling I'm not going to be getting anywhere with this minor nicety.) --Bob K31416 (talk) 18:04, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
It's the same now as before, except that I added blockquotes, and I moved the "carefully summarizing" sentence to the end because it's not about SYN. I'm thinking we should move that to another section entirely but that's a different edit. SlimVirgin talk contribs 18:07, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Have a nice day. --Bob K31416 (talk) 18:10, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Duplication of Verifiability

Much of the lead and sources section are a repetition of the verifiability policy. This duplication confuses and dilutes the principal of No original research.

I suggest that most of the duplication be moved to the Related policies - Verifiability section or removed from this policy.--SaskatchewanSenator (talk) 08:30, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Since there is a discussion on a rewrite of the lead going on below, I'll leave that for now and restrict my suggestions to the Reliable sources and Related policies - Verifiability sections.


Reliable sources

Main page: Wikipedia:Verifiability#Sources See also: Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources and Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons#Reliable sources

Material for which no reliable source can be found is considered original research. The only way to establish that your edit is not original research is to cite a reliable published source that contains that same material. Even with well-sourced material, if you use it out of context or to advance a position that is not directly and explicitly supported by the source used, you as an editor are engaging in original research; see below.

Self-published material, whether on paper or online, is generally not regarded as reliable, but see the discussion of self-published sources for exceptions.

If you are able to discover something new, Wikipedia is not the place to premiere such a discovery. Once your discovery has been published in a reliable source, it may be referenced.


Related policies

Verifiability Main page: Wikipedia:Verifiability

The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. Any material that is challenged or likely to be challenged must be supported by a reliable source.

In general the most reliable sources are peer-reviewed journals and books published in university presses; university-level textbooks; magazines, journals, and books published by respected publishing houses; and mainstream newspapers. As a rule of thumb, the greater the degree of scrutiny given to checking facts, analyzing legal issues and scrutinizing evidence and arguments, the more reliable the publication.

The No original research policy and the verifiability policy reinforce each other by requiring that only assertions, theories, opinions, and arguments that have already been published in a reliable source may be used in Wikipedia. --SaskatchewanSenator (talk) 07:10, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

I struck out a sentence in Reliable sources, above. The sentence that follows it says pretty much the same thing, and says it better.--SaskatchewanSenator (talk) 18:35, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
Changes made to Reliable sources--SaskatchewanSenator (talk) 21:20, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
I incorporated a few minor wording changes made by SlimVirgin--SaskatchewanSenator (talk) 07:01, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
Changes made to Related policies - Verifiability--SaskatchewanSenator (talk) 07:02, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

Nutshell

I completely agree with Jimbo's take on this policy... but I don't think we should use it as our nutshell (see Scott's most recent edit). The nutshell we have had for a while sums up the policy well. We should certainly discuss before we change it. Blueboar (talk) 14:20, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

Probably right, but the second sentence of the nutshell "Articles may not contain any new analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position not clearly advanced by the source." is full of problems.
  1. it forbids any article which does not fall into the POV of a source. For example an article on a new, mainstream but opposed, scientific theory might include material from both the establishment and the new school of thought. This would tend to "advance the position" that there is evidence to support theory, but significant hurdles to overcome before it can be considered accepted wisdom. This may not be, indeed will likely not be "clearly advanced by the source[s]".
  2. it forbids articles which may serendipitously reveal facts. Suppose a list of road traffic deaths by mile driven had shown that all left-hand drive countries had much higher death rates than right-hand drive countries. This would "advance a position" that LHD is more dangerous than RHD, likely not advanced by the sources.
  3. it creates sourcing or disclaimer difficulties. For example we have a slew of articles on the sex scandals in the Catholic Church. These would tend, by their very existence, to "advance a position" that Catholic priests are more likely to be involved in these scandals. The articles would then either need to support that position with a source, or explicitly deny it with a source, or express neutrality/ignorance with a disclaimer. (Maybe they do I haven't read them - but the problem exists regardless.)
Rich Farmbrough, 16:41, 21 April 2010 (UTC).
Hi Richard, I don't quite follow your points. For example, you wrote: "it forbids any article which does not fall into the POV of a source. For example an article on a new, mainstream but opposed, scientific theory might include material from both the establishment and the new school of thought. This would tend to "advance the position" that there is evidence to support theory, but significant hurdles to overcome before it can be considered accepted wisdom. This may not be, indeed will likely not be "clearly advanced by the source[s]"."
If the sources advance a position, it's fine for us to repeat it. Any article would have to be based firmly on the sources. SlimVirgin talk contribs 07:22, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
I think he is saying that sources with different points of view will advance different positions. If we write an article with a neutral point of view it could lead the reader to conclude that none of the positions advanced by the sources is correct. Ideally, you would find some fairly neutral source and the POV sources would just be used to show what positions those sources hold... but this is often not possible. Yaris678 (talk) 11:24, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
We're only talking here about positions not advanced by sources, but advanced by Wikipedians misusing sources—combining them (SYN) to make them appear to be saying things they don't say. SlimVirgin talk contribs 11:37, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

WP:SYN allows strawman fallacy & false premises

Many people have been troubled by the policy of WP:SYN, to reject synthesis of reliable sources to promote an unpublished, so-called "conclusion". After years of consideration, I have finally pinpointed the problem: the policy of WP:Synthesis allows people to assume untrue conclusions which can form the basis of 2 major logical fallacies:

  1. a strawman fallacy, by claiming an untrue conclusion similar to the most typical true conclusion; or
  2. an argument from false premises, by claiming any reasonable, but false conclusion, and then proving anything from that false premise (such as "delete all that text").

In particular, when people claim the sources had stated A & B leading to an "implied conclusion" C, that actually empowers the assumption that C is the intended conclusion. Anyone can claim the nature of C, because it need not be stated (big mistake), and thus, C is wide-open to interpretation, as being the assumed, unspoken conclusion. Hence, by allowing any potential assumption, that allowance has opened the door to claiming a false premise, as a false basic assumption to argue against the article's text. By using the logical fallacy of argument from false premises, then anything can be proven; therefore WP:SYN could be legitimately used to prove that almost any text should be removed from an article. For example, consider the following extreme, but legitimate case:

  • Fact A: The lake's water level was 75 feet deep last year.
  • Fact B: The lake's water level is 50 feet this year.
  • Conclusion: "OMG, delete that text because you're saying the lake will be empty in 2 years and they're all going to die!!! Aaargggg!"

Unfortunately, that implied conclusion cannot be rejected (because any unspoken conclusion is allowed by WP:SYN), and hence, quite possibly, arguing from the false premise of an empty lake in 2 years, then perhaps many people would die. Result: per WP:SYN, those 2 facts must be deleted from the article, as the complaint is indeed valid, per policy, for removing that text. The policy has failed because of a critical major mistake: anyone can assume almost any conclusion. Example:

  • Fact A: The glass was totally full yesterday.
  • Fact B: The glass is half-empty today.
  • Conclusion: "Oh no, you're saying the glass will be totally empty tomorrow, oh POV...delete...POV POV...delete delete.

A similar example:

  • Fact A: The glass was full yesterday.
  • Fact B: The glass is half-full today.
  • Conclusion: "Oh no, you're saying the glass will be full again tomorrow, oh no, a full glass with no space for more, oh no, oh no, that's WP:SYN...delete delete delete."

Once again, despite how twisted or rabid the conclusion, those are indeed valid reasons to completely remove the related text.

A related, but more subtle, fallacy would be to substitute a "similar, unspoken conclusion" to be refuted, by condemning that nearby-conclusion using a strawman fallacy. Simply put: a Wikipedia policy must not reject anything based on a user's own assumptions. All policies must deal with what is actually written in an article ("put it in writing"), and not prosecute a "pre-crime" action as if it were based on hard evidence. Absolutely nothing based on assumption should be the basis to reject text: once unbounded assumptions are allowed, then anyone can validly do anything to an article. People often use WP:SYN to remove questionable text. However, because of allowing false premises (and subtle straw man fallacies), the failed WP:SYN policy can also be used by any desperate or frantic person to slant or censor any article, and thus it has been.

Recommendation: Issue a major retraction of WP:SYN, and issue a meta-policy that prohibits any future rejection of text based on a user's mere assumptions, rather than tangible hard evidence, to be compared against policy standards. -Wikid77 01:15, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

Can you point to one real example in a real article where material kept out by WP:SYN as currently written, should be allowed in your view? Crum375 (talk) 01:22, 11 April 2010 (UTC)
  • In general, see them all: Special:WhatLinksHere/Wikipedia:SYN, select a page and search for "WP:SYN" or "synthe". No removals are really permanent, and people could later re-add material, so the phrase "kept out" is not accurate, but rather, the focus is that someone wanted information excluded, claiming WP:SYN, during a debate. I fear listing any particular articles here, because many people still think WP:SYN is a valid reason to axe text, so I don't want to list any titles which could be viewed as "marked" for death by WP:SYN fallacious thinking. Some broad examples would be:
  • Claiming some particular "Category:" names were too original, as a form of WP:SYN.
  • Rejecting a list of related atrocities in an article as WP:SYN which advances some "outrageous" conclusion about societies, even though those events are all actually examples providing some real-world details, as pertinent to the subject (An example could include viewing the "local natives" as "massacred" but all the many white people were merely "killed" by natives trying to defend themselves or their land)
  • Demanding that rebuttal of evidence in a trial all flow from one source, lest multiple sources be used to "prove he didn't do it" when a source doesn't explicitly state that conclusion, but rather that the evidence was improperly handled. Gripe: "You're implying he's innocent, when that source just stated 1 item of evidence seemed tainted" or similar wiki-weaseling to prevent the listing of more details.
  • Removing tangent statements from articles, based on the notion of how details from other sources were "advancing a cause" rather than just expanding the broader coverage of a subject.
In general, the powers of exclusion, stemming from WP:SYN, are a "POV-pusher's dream" to systematically remove text from an article where all sources don't contain the alleged "conclusion being implied" when listing all the related facts in one section of text. Again, the unfortunate truth is that WP:SYN really does empower censorship of details coming from multiple articles which don't "explicitly state" a conclusion claimed as the nefarious position being advocated. In fact, I suspect that WP:SYN, ironically, is itself an original-research notion of a content policy: what 10 reputable news-broadcasting groups have policies similar to WP:SYN? I doubt there are many, as WP:SYN is just too peculiar. -Wikid77 (talk) 11:48, 11 April 2010 (UTC)
As I suggested above, please provide one specific example, not a group or dummy cases. If you focus on one specific article and one specific point there, and show how the current WP:SYN policy excludes specific material which in your view should be included, we can address it and see if we agree. Crum375 (talk) 13:07, 11 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Crum. We do need specifics. It is not difficult to construct hypothetical situations where a policy would be misapplied (we can probably do this with all our policies). The fact that it is possible to misapply WP:SYN does not negate it, and is overshadowed by the more numerous situations where it can and has been applied properly. Blueboar (talk) 13:43, 11 April 2010 (UTC)
Well, taking this on philosophically, I think there is a point here (though I don't currently agree with the conclusion wikid offers - and yes, an example would be useful). The problem is that wikipedia expects, against all common sense and observed evidence, that all editors can and will operate using functional scholarly reasoning, but wikipedia provides no structure for distinguishing between well-reasoned arguments and crapulently-reasoned arguments according to scholarly principles. It's like setting up a collaborative software design team where half of the collaborators only partly understand the computational syntax of the programming language (and a small percentage wonder why all those curly-braces are there), but everyone gets rewarded according to how much they produce. You end up with people being blindly insistent about conclusions drawn from bad scholarship, and no real mechanism to point out that their scholarship is bad, thus reducing the debate to matter of personal relativism (something no scholar would ever in a million years accept). I see highly experienced editors do this all the time, in various forms (usually on fringe articles, where for some reason they tend to fight irrationality with bigger irrationality).
I don't have a solution; I'm just saying that the problem has merits for consideration. --Ludwigs2 14:43, 11 April 2010 (UTC)
When rules are written such that normal practices widely "violate" them you create a potential for abuse. For example, by people who want to make articles POV, or to use articles as a boxing ring, or people with other anti-social tendencies, such as those whose psychological needs require attacking other people and their work rather than creating anything. As Wikipedia matures, the 30,000' view is that overall things are taking a turn for the worse in this area. With out-of-context pieces of WP:OR/Synth being one of the most widely violated rules, it would be a good one to look at with respect to this. North8000 (talk) 15:11, 11 April 2010 (UTC)
  • If there is some crucial value provided by WP:SYN, then let's consider alternatives. What if the indicated "conclusion C" were required to be stated? It would only be WP:SYN if a writer added, "The U.N. is thus a total failure." By requiring actual, tangible text which states the disputed conclusion, then a WP:SYN problem could be pinpointed to the existing text, rather than to an "assumed conclusion" which gets used in an argument from false premises. When I hear the "160 wars" after the UN was formed, I might conclude, "I wonder how many wars there were before the UN?" rather than, "Aha! I knew the UN was a terrible, utter waste of money: let the guys with the biggest nuclear blasts decide who rules the remaining fall-out shelters, and who cooks the bodies for food!" or whatever rabid conclusion people worry might be claimed. We need to see what POV problems are arising, and find policies to address those issues directly, not open a false-premises Pandora's box, of diseased thinking, to reject facts from articles which do not "directly state" some assumed nefarious conclusion. WP:SYN should not be used as a crutch to cover for a lack of other policies. WP:SYN enables people to claim some sourced facts are not allowed, because they bolster some "evil" conclusion. Instead, simply require NPOV balance, by the addition of alternate viewpoints. That is the fatal problem with WP:SYN: allowing censorship of facts based on assumptions of misuse. That dog won't hunt to collect real knowledge. -Wikid77 19:26, 11 April 2010 (UTC)
Wikid77, I asked you twice above for one real example of a real article where the current WP:SYN policy excludes material which in your view should be in the article, and have yet to see it. All the hand waving in the world can't replace one simple example showing how the policy fails in a real article. Unless you can actually show where it's broke, there is no point fixing it. Crum375 (talk) 22:16, 11 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Examples: The issue should be decided on multiple examples, because focusing on 1 example might imply, in itself, a strawman decision, that the application of WP:SYN could somehow be decided by the outcome of debate over a single article. With that stated, a recent, single example was discussed in "Talk:Submarine#Women" when noting: (Fact A) some Navy officials wanted to have women in submarine crews, while (Fact B) those officials were not qualified in subs and had never served in subs. The claimed "assumed C" was that people with no credentials in submarine operations were not qualified to decide that role of women, rather than just being a statement of fact. Similarly, someone indicated it would be improper to state those officials were all men (none of them women) as another case of WP:SYN. The censorship then became: can't mention those officials had no submarine training; and can't mention they are all men. Meanwhile, no one ever said, "Only women with accredited knowledge of submarines should make decisions about women submariners". The problem of WP:SYN is not specifically about submarine service, but rather the censorship of sourced details: censored because those details might bolster an unsourced, assumed conclusion which no one ever advocated in writing. That violates WP:NOTCENSORED. I suggest to reword and only apply WP:SYN when someone states a specific conclusion, such as: "Only women should decide women's duties" or such. Remember to consider other examples in the 6,590 pages listed (during April 2010) with Special:WhatLinksHere/Wikipedia:SYN. -Wikid77 06:12, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
The implication of mentioning those characteristics of the officials in this context is pretty clear. Unless a reliable source has made that connection, it is original and should continue to be prohibited by this policy. I don't see a strawman fallacy or false premise. Can you choose another example?--SaskatchewanSenator (talk) 08:48, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't think the women submariner example shows any deficiency in the current SYN policy; if anything, it shows the policy working exactly as intended. If the proponents of women submariners share certain characteristics, it is not for Wikipedians to decide what those are and write about them, as that would constitute original research, and more specifically WP:SYN. If all the proponents do in fact share a characteristic, and it is notable and relevant, some news organization or another reliable source would pick it up and publish it, and we could then cite it. In this specific example, the lack of such sources could mean that there are other proponents who don't share the characteristic (for example who spoke to reporters off the record), or other reasons the news organizations don't feel the information is valid or reliable. The whole point of Wikipedia's WP:V and WP:NOR sourcing policies is to only add information which has been published elsewhere by verifiable reliable sources, not to make up, synthesize or imply new material or novel interpretations to suit our POV. Crum375 (talk) 11:49, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree, the example is clearly a case of WP:SYN (the implied conclusion clearly being that those who were not qualified in subs and had never served in subs are not qualified to comment on the subject of women in submarines). Even if there are multiple possible interpretations, what is obvious is that the reader is being led to form a conclusion... that is improper. Blueboar (talk) 12:36, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
Unless, of course, a proper reliable source discussed these things (which is not unreasonable to assume, in this example). If the RS connects the dots, then the Wikipedia article can, too.
In such a situation, my first thought would have been, "How did I even know that these decisions were put forward by all men/all women/all submariners/whatever?" If the answer is "Because I read it in ____, which clearly thought the all-male (or whatever) characteristic was worth mentioning," then I've got a citation -- and a citation for a direct and explicit statement of my claim is essentially at "Get out of SYNTH free" card. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:24, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Gentlemen, Here is an article where I am one of the parties to an ongoing dispute over WP:SYN. It is the " Criticism and context section of the Hutaree article". In this instance, the statement is made: A. The Hutaree have planned acts of violence. The reference is made: B. "Jesus consistently opposed violence." Then the unstated assumption is made: C. Therefore, the Hutaree were not acting in accordance with Jesus' teachings. Because B implies C, and the author of the reference re: Jesus' teachings on violence did not specifically mention the Hutaree, other editors are using WP:SYN to declare reference B as Original Research and to delete it. If you follow this rationale, it seems to me that perhaps 25% of the text of most Wikipedia articles should be removed as OR. If in an article about weatherman Smith: A. He predicted rain in 2009 25% of the time in Phoenix, B. Records show that it only rained 2% of the time in 2009 in Phoenix. Therefore the unstated assumption is that Smith was off on his rain forecasts by 23%, therefore, according to WP:SYN, reference B must be deleted, as someone might conclude C! This seems to me to be rather counterproductive. I think that the wording for WP:SYN might read better if it stated something like: "... and conclusion C that is implied by statements A and B can reasonably be argued as being an inherently inaccurate or unfair conclusion."
In the case of the submarine officers reviewing submarine policy, by adding the above sentence to the WP:SYN policy, then it becomes a "reasonable argument" that the officers may still be qualified to review these policies. There is no reasonable argument to defend the inaccuracy of the weather forecaster, thus the weather forecaster's reference would stay, but the submarine reference could go, but only after the logical fallacy of the submarine argument had been well stated. Scott P. (talk) 12:57, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
If no source has compared the Weatherman's prediction and actual rain fall, then yes, it would indeed by OR for Wikipedia to compare them. Blueboar (talk) 13:08, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Under the current policy, yes you are correct, however it seems to me that roughly 25% of the text of current Wikipedia articles has implied conclusions built into it which are not explicitly stated, and which are however undeniably reasonable and accurate. Using WP:SYN, slash and burn editors could have a heyday. In the case of the clearly inaccurate weatherman, citing an undisputed published fact which may shed light on his performance, does not seem to me to be in any way misleading or inaccurate, and ought to be allowed, if nobody can call the accuracy of either the 25% fact or the implied conclusion into reasonable question. Isn't the addition of this sentence imminently logical? Could you give me any example whereby the addition of this sentence could cause more trouble than the idea of having to weed out 25% of all current articles?
Please allow me to give you an example: I chose a random article for illustrative purposes only. I randomly chose our article on "Cake". Here is the current text of the lead paragraph of that article (which is entirely unsourced):
Cake is a form of food that is usually sweet and often baked. Cakes normally combine some kind of flour, a sweetening agent (commonly sugar), a binding agent (generally egg, though gluten or starch are often used by lacto-vegetarians and vegans), fats (usually butter, shortening, or margarine, although a fruit purée such as applesauce is sometimes substituted to avoid using fat), a liquid (milk, water or fruit juice), flavors and some form of leavening agent (such as yeast or baking powder), though many cakes lack these ingredients and instead rely on air bubbles in the dough to expand and cause the cake to rise. Cake is often frosted with buttercream or marzipan, and finished with piped borders and crystallized fruit.
According to the current WP:SYN wording, the entire first sentence must be slashed, unless the editors can find direct quotes that cake is food, that it is usually sweet, and that it is often baked. Same with all subsequent sentences.... "Slash and burn" editors can simply rightfully delete most of this article, even though we all know it is all imminently logical and well known, much of this information probably cannot be found in "direct quote" references, therefore, slash and burn baby! Scott P. (talk) 13:46, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Food, sweet, baked: Yup, the basic dictionary definition covers all those points.
It is worth remembering that WP:LEAD discourages citations in the introduction, which is supposed to be a summary of details that are cited later. Also, as always, the relevant standard is WP:VerfiABLE, not "already WP:CITEd". WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:40, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

Syn continued

The wording of the first paragraph could read: "It also refers to any analysis or synthesis by Wikipedians of published material, where the analysis or synthesis advances a position not advanced by any of the sources, which position could be reasonably argued as being an inherently inaccurate, unfair or fallacious position."
Unless something like this is added to this policy, it seems to me that we might have a policy that could really harm Wikipedia here.
Scott P. (talk) 13:59, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Absolutely not, because the wording can (and will) be taken to mean that it is somehow OK to advance an OR position that someone argues is accurate, fair or logically true. The entire point here is that we don't create synthetic statements... period. This goes directly to WP:V... If a source doesn't say it... neither should we. Blueboar (talk) 14:06, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
OK, so you are saying that the Cake article, and all others like it should essentially be deleted? How does your logic apply to the Cake article? Isn't the fundamental basis of Wikipedia that it is essentially a "synthesis" of information from other places, synthesized in a unique way that helps others, that is not available in this form of "synthesis" anywhere else? One definition of a synthesis is something new, formed from old things. What is inherently dangerous about stating that evidence shows that a weatherman's forecasts for rain are off by 23%? Are we so mindless that now even risking the implication of the obvious has become dangerous? If a Wikipedia editor happened to be the first to put two published facts together, realizing that since the king was wearing no clothes, and he had not put anything more on since he went out in public, that he must be publicly naked, would his citations to this effect be censured because we were afraid that we might offend the king by simply stating facts that might imply that he might be naked, even though everyone knew he was naked in public, but everyone else was absolutely mortified to even imply that such a thing might be happening? Scott P. (talk) 14:17, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
It is not our job to tell the world that the King has no clothes. It is our job to summarize what other sources say on the given topic, not to synthesize what they say. Blueboar (talk) 14:26, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm not even saying that we should be stating that the king is naked, but I think it would certainly be fair to simply state facts that might imply that he could be naked.Scott P. (talk) 14:50, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
What position is the Cake article advancing?
Several positions.... Actually the first sentence may be mostly reference-able in a dictionary, but let us proceed to the second paragraph of the lead:
"Cake is often the dessert of choice for meals at ceremonial occasions, particularly weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays. There are countless cake recipes; some are bread-like, some rich and elaborate and many are centuries old. Cake making is no longer a complicated procedure; while at one time considerable labor went into cake making (particularly the whisking of egg foams), baking equipment and directions have been simplified that even the most amateur cook may bake a cake."
While you and I know that it is an accurate paragraph (yet still un-sourced) it appears to you and I to still be truthful and accurate. It may have been written by a professional baker, or a person who does much baking. Per Wiki policy, as there is no sourcing for either of the first two paragraphs, both paragraphs should rightfully be deleted. Now let us say that a "slash and burn" editor wanted to get into an edit war with the current author(s) of that article. He could delete both lead paragraphs and insist that the current editors must source "verbatim" all that is written there. If for example, the current editors could not find anything written saying that cakes are "often a dessert of choice for ceremonial occasions", then out must go that part. If the editors cannot find another author who wrote something like "there are countless cake recipes", out must go that part. By the time the "slash and burn" editor is done with the original editors, the original editors may have left Wikipedia in utter disgust, and the article will be left in disarray. Is this the type of editorial behavior we want to encourage here? Scott P. (talk) 14:50, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
You still have not said what position the Cake article is advancing. What argument, interpretation or conclusion (stated or implied) is being synthesized?
(also, please note that an article lede is supposed to be a summary of the entire article and are not usually cited... the idea being that things stated in the lede are covered and cited in more detail later in the article... so a seemingly improper synthesis in the lede may actually be fully and properly cited later in the article.) Blueboar (talk) 15:06, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Per current WP:NOR policy, approximately 50% of the Cake article should be deleted as OR. There are no citations until approximately half way down. The references used are done incorrectly, there are no direct quotations (synthesis). etc. etc. A "slash and burn" type editor could have a virtual heyday with this one article. The majority of the article is a "synthesis". And under current WP:NOR and WP:SYN policy, we would probably have to support most of the "slash and burn" editor's deletions. The position taken by the article's editors is that some forms of synthesis are permissible. Scott P. (talk) 15:41, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
You keep saying that the Cake article contains a synthesis... but you seem to be unable to be more specific and explain exactly what and where that synthesis is... I am beginning to think that you do not actually understand what a synthesis is. Blueboar (talk) 15:54, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

Scott, I think you are very confused about what WP is about. Our goal is to summarize in our own words what others have published about a topic, not to add any new information, interpretation or implication. If any material is challenged or likely to be challenged, it needs a direct citation. Nothing needs to be slashed or burned, unless it's novel information or a novel interpretation not directly backed up by reliable sources. Crum375 (talk) 15:03, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

I am referring only to implications here, not to explicit novel interpretations. You seem to be mixing these two things up. What you are saying is that any citation that might naturally lead a reader to think about anything that was not specifically in the citation, is impermissable.
What I am saying is that I think our readers are smart enough to think for themselves, and the only standard we need for citations is that they are accurate, true, and that they are not explicitly interpreted by the Wikipedia editor in a way that might naturally tend to mislead the reader into an arguably fallacious train of thought or logic. Why do you think that our readers should not be permitted to make any reasonable or logical conclusions from a Wikipedia article that they might not be able to derive elsewhere? This seems more like thought-policing to me than the free editorial policies that Wikipedia was founded on. Scott P. (talk) 15:15, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
We could easily find sources for the parts of Cake that you cite. They're attributable, even if not actually attributed, like "Paris is the capital of France." As the others have said, all we do on WP is tell people what reliable sources have published. SlimVirgin talk contribs 15:27, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Scott, there is no "thought police", but we do have policies. And our core content policies tell us we can't make stuff up, or even imply new ideas which have not already been published by reliable sources. In the Hutaree case you mention above, you seem to want to advance the position that the Hutaree are not good Christians because they promote violence, while Jesus was a peaceful man. But you need to find a source which makes this point about Jesus in relation to the Hutaree — if you are the first to introduce this connection, you'd be violating WP:NOR and WP:SYN. If you don't understand this crucial point, you need to re-read WP:NOR and specifically WP:SYN very carefully. Crum375 (talk) 15:28, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
I couldn't agree with you more, current WP:SYN policy prohibits referencing any information that might lead a reader to a new thought. Not only does WP:NOR prohibit Wikipedia editors from explicitly stating new thoughts, which I agree with, but it also prohibits the dissemination of any known, accurate, truthful, and uninterpreted information that might lead a typical reader to simply think in a novel but logical way. It is this second prohibition that I am choking on. What is the danger of this? I simply cannot see the danger of accurately stating known facts, if they might happen to inspire one to think something different? Scott P. (talk) 15:53, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
How do we know something is a "known fact" if there is no source for it? Blueboar (talk) 15:59, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm not at all saying that WP:SYN should be modified to allow uncited statements of novel 'facts'. I'm only saying that if an uncontestedly accurate citation is made, it should not be prohibited, simply because it might lead a reader to have a new hitherto unpublished thought, despite the fact that such a thought might be uncontroversial, logical and beyond any reasonable argument. Scott P. (talk) 16:06, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Gotta go to work now to pay my bills. Will see you guys tomorrow. Scott P. (talk) 16:08, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

The issue here is that "unpublished" is not quite the right word. Most of our articles contain only previously unpublished sentences, unless they are copyright violations. Really, WP:SYN asks us to assess whether the claims made by an article (implicit or explicit) are part of the overall picture of the subject that is given by the literature. This isn't a black-or-white question, because it depends both on the literal content of the claims being made and on their connotation.

For an example of how these are related, if we take a newspaper story about "A-Rod" and rephrase its claims to be about "Alex Rodriguez", this is fine even it synthesizes two sources (one for the claim about A-rod, another for the fact that A-rod and Alex Rodriguez are the same person). On the other hand, if we randomly replace "Jesus Christ" with "Jesus of Nazareth" in various religion articles in the same way, we will quickly run into problems.

The exact dividing line for which syntheses are OK is difficult to pin down exactly. It takes a broad reading of the literature to assess what the overall narrative about the topic at hand actually contains. However, the spirit of the policy is correct that we should not add claims to articles that materially change or extend the narrative from the literature. — Carl (CBM · talk) 16:26, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

I agree specifically about written claims. I think we all do. Any written claim that is not previously published cannot be written into an article as either a claim, or even as a written 'implied' claim. Here is the 'rub' as I see it. What about the editor who simply lists two well documented facts in his article, without embellishing them in any way in his citations, but what if these two well documented facts might happen to align in such a way that they might cause a reader to understand something new, that has not been previously published? What if say a Wikipedia editor happened to be the first one to put together the documented facts that A. A-Rod = Alex Rodriguez. B. That there was a warrant out for the arrest of A-Rod. C. That Alex Rodriguez aka. A-Rod had a job in a shoe factory in the Bronx? Now if that editor were to publish all three of these facts, they would result in the obvious assumption that the police could find the guy they were looking for in a shoe factory in the Bronx, and this information has never been put together in this way. Should the fact that these three facts have never been listed in one place prohibit Wikipedia from publishing this information, simply because they had never been published before in the same place? I say that so long as the editor met all of the list of these certain requirements, he should not be prohibited from publishing these three bits of information in the same place. Here is the list of requirements;
  1. He must first conduct thorough research in good faith, looking for any possible place where this information had all been published at the same place before, and for a reference where any of the obvious conclusions might have been published before as well.
  2. His facts must be fully and properly documented.
  3. He must make no written statements or even hints that the cops could possibly find this guy in a shoe factory in the Bronx. That must be left up to the readers to infer.
To arbitrarily delete these three facts from Wikipedia simply because a normal reader might infer something 'new' from them seems to me to be a bit overly zealous.
As a result of my hope that WP:SYN might review some of these proposals for incorporation into a revised WP:SYN, I have put together a slightly edited revision of the WP:SYN section, which I would like to get some feedback on, and possibly revisions by others. It is at: Scott's Proposed Revision of WP:SYN. If anyone might be able to take a look at it and to comment on it, I would be most grateful. Scott P. (talk) 00:31, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
In response to "what if these two well documented facts might happen to align in such a way that they might cause a reader to understand something new, that has not been previously published?" — we ask whether the "new" thing materially changes or extends the narrative about the topic that is established by the literature. This will be a judgment call in many cases. — Carl (CBM · talk) 00:40, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
By the way, when I say "materially changes or extends the narrative about the topic established by the literature" this is what the policy calls "advances a position", and the issue you are raising is why the policy is phrased the way it is. — Carl (CBM · talk) 00:43, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

WP:SYN is Galileo-persecution fallacy

When Galileo started collecting and reporting various facts about the movements of the planets, and indicated the Earth could revolve around the Sun, he was placed under house-arrest and commanded not to write ("Wikipedia articles") in the common language of the people ("Italian Wikipedia") about those dangerous sourced facts, to be considered as a whole. Some Church officials even told Galileo that his ideas seemed correct, but the local people would not be able to handle his ideas in "their little minds", so Galileo's sourced data had to be withheld, or the world of the little people would erupt into chaos.

As the record shows, after some years, Galileo did die while still under house arrest; however, he managed to smuggle numerous chapters, to the outside world, written in common Italian, so that many people could understand and copy (GFDL) his writings about the planets. From those writings, Galileo became the Father of Modern Physics. Censorship is censorship, and it is very difficult to keep in check. In fact, where excess censorship exists, then people often find the means to publish sourced text in alternative ways.

In the example, above, about the officials that recommended women could be stationed in submarines, I noted only two issues: 1. the officials had no submarine training, having never served in submarines; and 2. they were all men. Immediately, conclusions were drawn, "Arrgh! It's clearly WP:SYN, as 'implicitly claiming' those officials were not qualified to decide a woman's role in submarines". However, suppose in the next chapter, which wiki-Galileo would smuggle into the article, other facts were then revealed. Instead of submarine training, all those officials had trained for years with underground bunkers where men and women were both assigned for months, remaining inside those bunkers for long multi-month periods. Plus, all those male officials had wives and daughters who were also interviewed and said from their experiences, living together, that they, as women, shared the same views as the men. "Call the new Pope!" Instead, the actual result is that the article would have informed the world that experience in some underground bunkers relates to submarine duty, and men can have discussed issues with women, for their opinions. So now, the "assumed conclusion" is realized as untrue ("a false premise" - hint, hint, hint) of a nefarious condemnation of the officials as "unqualified to decide about women on submarines". How could experienced Wikipedia editors have reached such a horrendously incorrect "assumed conclusion" that totally contradicts the other data collected about the situation? Because, in general, unless the conclusion is stated ("put it in writing"), then the danger is the pre-censoring of sourced text, based on half-baked, half-assumed ideas of what intelligent people really think. Never assume people have the same level of intellect as you. As history recorded, 350 years after Galileo, a new Pope John Paul II reversed the Church policy, and decided that Galileo was correct in writing about those ideas. The ideas that Galileo had written, 350 years earlier, did not cause the "little people" to scream in confusion and destroy the Church. It is never too late to correct a bad policy, even after 350 wiki-years. WP:SYN is the Galileo-persecution fallacy, that pre-censors sourced text, based on assumed dangers, not based on reality. -Wikid77 (talk) 11:48, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Wikid77, your post demonstrates a deep misunderstanding of what this site is about. You seem to believe that Wikipedia is a vehicle for its editors to expose the truth or discover new science, which is absolutely wrong. Our mission here is not to invent or uncover new things or ideas, or publish original research, but simply summarize what others have written elsewhere. If we juxtapose two bits of reliably published data in a way that suggests or implies something new, as you are trying to do in the women submariners case, that implication must also be directly supported by a reliable source, or else it is original research. This is the core principle behind this site: don't write or imply anything which is not directly supported by reliable sources. If Galileo were around today, we'd be more than happy to report on his research, once it was reliably published. But he would not be able to use Wikipedia itself as his first publishing venue, since his work would be a primary or secondary source, while Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, i.e. a tertiary source. Crum375 (talk) 12:05, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
  • I guess the example was not clear enough: Galileo was reporting old ideas but in the Italian language, and the Church claimed the "assumed conclusion" that those ideas, as read by common Italian peopple, would prove the Church was wrong about the Earth's rotation and everything. Galileo was using sourced data as old research, but the Church claimed the original conclusion that he intended to discredit Church doctrine. -Wikid77 02:03, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Also, as a scientist, I can say that Wikipedia is not at all the venue I would want to use for publishing new research. In addition to not having expert peer-review, publication here would not be weighed highly by a promotion and tenure committee. If Galileo was alive today, he would not be trying to publish his work here. — Carl (CBM · talk) 13:31, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Nor would he try to publish it on Encyclopedia Britannica. Tertiary sources are not where you publish your original work. Crum375 (talk) 13:36, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Read more about Galileo and Copernicus, in reliable sources. Galileo was writing about previous sourced data, but in the Italian language (rather than Church Latin), because he was trying to inform the Italian-speaking, broader public about that data. Those were not "WP:OR" ideas. I suspect, that in fact, Galileo would have definitely written articles on, perhaps, the Italian Wikipedia, because the data he reported was old research, just not widely known among the Italian-speaking populace. As with many famous people, Galileo did not invent all those ideas as original, just as Thomas Edison did not "invent" everything but rather, used other people's research. Instead, it was the Church who claimed the original conclusion in assuming Galileo intended to discredit all Church doctrine by writing about the Heliocentric system, with the Earth revolving around the Sun. I hope that clarifies the problem: the failure of policy WP:SYN is not about allowing original research but rather, empowering those assumed, original conclusions. -Wikid77 (talk) 02:03, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
That's what we mean by OR. Original conclusions, original arguments, original opinions, thoughts, experiments, you name it. If not already published by a reliable source, it's not appropriate for WP. SlimVirgin talk contribs 02:05, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Review WP:SYN removing text when no original research

Let's review, Galileo, one more time. Who had the original conclusions? It was the Church, who concluded that Galileo, by publishing old ideas in Italian (not Latin), would discredit Church doctrine among Italian-speaking commoners. Again, who wrote the old ideas? Correct, it was Galileo, as he wrote about prior data that indicated the Earth revolved around the Sun. Copernicus (from Poland) had written about these ideas of a Heliocentric system. Plus, the Church had reviewed these ideas, published, if you will, within the clergy. However, the Church would not let Galileo write such (old) ideas in Italian, for the masses. Why did the Church want to suppress those OLD ideas? The Church had invented, as an assumed original conclusion, that Galileo publishing old ideas (from rare sources) was intending to "advance the cause" that Church doctrine was wrong and the Church would be destroyed. Galileo, later, did smuggle Italian writings, out of his residence. Also, many people learned about a Sun-centred Solar System, but the Church was not destroyed. So, again, where was the original research? There was NONE. Instead, the Church imagined or invented or WP:SYNed a bogus conclusion, not stated (but implied, by them) that Galileo's writing would discredit and ruin the Church. There was no original research, but the Church had invented original conclusions (not stated) as original fears which they used to arrest and censor Galileo. Similarly, WP:SYN can be used to censor text, when there is no original research, at all, but merely original fears of some original conclusion which does not really exist. Hence, WP:SYN can be used to censor non-original research. Thus, that absurd reality proves that WP:SYN is a failed policy, by reductio ad absurdum (an idea reduced into an absurd conclusion). WP:SYN, intended to block original research, can block the non-original. Instead, WP:SYN should require conclusions to be explicitly stated before deletion; any imagined conclusions are merely a matter of one-sided text which lacks NPOV balance, where other viewpoints could be added to downplay the feared conclusion. Text should NOT be removed simply because someone fears an unstated conclusion. Instead, that situation is considered "unbalanced for NPOV" but not a case of original research. -Wikid77 (talk) 06:01, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

The point is that Galileo was changing the narrative that was common at the time. The goal of Wikipedia articles is to simply follow the established narrative, not change it. However, as I pointed out, the Galileo example is not very good because Galileo would publish today in a scientific journal, not on Wikipedia. — Carl (CBM · talk) 12:35, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Um... if Wikipedia had existed back in Galileo's day (with the same policies), we would have excluded discussion of his theories completely, as being WP:FRINGE. At least initially. Blueboar (talk) 13:23, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
And if he had a WP article he'd be in Category:Pseudoscience. :) SlimVirgin talk contribs 13:28, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

April 15 proposed revision of WP:SYN, per Wikid77's suggestions

Thanks, Wikid77 for pointing out that the current version of WP:SYN actually advocates the deletion of properly cited references, simply because they might cause people to learn something new. This seems to me to be against the basic spirit of Wikipedia. Wasn't Wikipedia designed to be something new where new ideas could be presented together in a new way? Still, I think there is something about WP:SYN that is worth saving. Based on some of your comments on my talk page, I have now updated my proposed revision of WP:SYN to incorporate most of your thoughts and suggestions. I think my April 15 draft of the proposed WP:SYN is much shorter, and I hope improved. If you get a chance, please look at it at: April 15 proposed revision of WP:SYN, and let me know what you think. Thanks. Scott P. (talk) 14:18, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

No, Wikipedia was not designed to be "something new where new ideas could be presented together in a new way". it was designed to be an encyclopedia - a summary of existing knowledge and ideas. The only thing "new" about Wikipedia is the idea that anyone can contribute and edit. Blueboar (talk) 14:47, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Wikipedia was itself a new idea. One of the main reasons why Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world is because people come here to find fresh thinking that may not be available elsewhere. Whether you like it or not, Wikipedia has become far more than a mere rehash of Britannica. People can find things on Wikipedia that never have been in Britannica, and never would be in Britannica. The word encyclopedia is derived from the phrase, "Well rounded education". It is not based on the phrase "Only stale second hand information". To arbitrarily delete anything that might possibly only tangentially invite fresh thinking, to me seems rather square, and not very well rounded. Please take a minute to read through my proposal before you apparently dismiss it out of hand. Thanks. Scott P. (talk) 15:45, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
You may come here hoping to find "fresh thinking" but I can tell you that this is not what you will actually find. Nor should it be. That is not the job of an encyclopedia. Blueboar (talk) 15:59, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
So when are you going to actually read the proposal that you seem to have already rejected sight unseen, so we can have a real dialogue here, and not just a war of truisms? Scott P. (talk) 16:07, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

I have read it... I still reject it. It is overly complicated and unclear. It is fundamentally flawed as to what it allows. It can easily be abused by POV pushers. Need I go on? Blueboar (talk) 16:33, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Thank you for making a 'slightly' more specific objection to it. It seems to me to be much much clearer than the current WP:SYN. Exactly what is unclear about it? The current WP:SYN basically states that any two citations put together in such a close proximity that they might somehow lead someone to have a "fresh thought" must simply be rejected, deleted, and censured, lest someone might accidentally have a "fresh thought," heaven forbid! This seems to me to be something from out of the dark ages. It seems to me that the complaint is that the current WP:SYN is already leading to senseless deletions by POV pushers that are deleting good citations. It seems to me that the current policy may be discouraging good editors from writing here. They put in a properly referenced citation and the next thing it is deleted, simply because someone said it could lead to a new thought! If I were a new editor and I was told this is how Wikipedia worked.... 1.) I insert a good citation. 2.) Someone claims the fearful thought that someone might possibly think something new after reading my neutrally worded citation. 3.) Bang, deletion. If I knew this, I would run away as fast as I could, and never return. Could you please give me a specific example of how you feel that the revised rules that I am proposing could be abused? I've been a Wikipedia editor since 2004, and I have only seen this strange version of WP:SYN policy in place over the last 9 months, since the version that focused more on what people might happen to think, than on the accuracy of the text of an article, was first developed. The type of POV pushing that this newly developed policy enables seems to me to be quite irrational, counterproductive, and against the spirit of the free flow of accurate and verifiable information that I thought Wikipedia stood for. In my proposal, I have tried to rewrite WP:SYN so that it might re-focus the primary concern to textual accuracy, rather than abstract mental exercises about what someone might happen to think after reading a citation.Scott P. (talk) 16:52, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
The current language was developed about a year ago, after a lot of discussion (look back through the archives). It was developed with the specific goal of closing the "but gee I didn't state any conclusion... I can't help it if the reader draws their own conclusion from this" loophole that was commonly abused by POV pushing wikilawyers.
Seriously Scott... if you think that there is any place for unsupported synthetic conclusions in an encyclopedia, maybe Wikipedia isn't the right venue for you. You might be happier working on articles at Wikiversity (which encourages well researched OR). Blueboar (talk) 17:52, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
I do not support any "unsupported" written conclusions in Wikipedia either. I just support old citations, neutrally phrased, that might happen to enable someone to personally gain a new perspective, without any 'coaching' from us, and only within certain very clear, predefined bounds, as set out by us in WP:SYN. Actually, last night I did a thorough search and I found that the first use of the word 'imply' or one of its derivations on the WP:NOR page was on June 25, 2009 by user WikiLaurent in a context that did not prohibit against making an implication by using a citation, it only recommended against intentionally "arranging these facts" (or phrasing these facts) in a manner that might mislead a reader. From there the idea of forming an 'implication-thought-police-squad' then bloomed into the idea that to even imply a new idea with a citation, despite the fact that the citation's phrasing might be absolutely neutral, was 'Wikipedia heresy'. I appreciate your willingness to put up with my 'admittedly vigorous objections' for this long. Thanks, Scott P. (talk) 18:20, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Scott, I think your version would introduce unnecessary complications just because of the length (though maybe for other reasons too). It's best when writing policy to keep things fairly tight. The more words, the greater the risk of misunderstanding. :) SlimVirgin talk contribs 18:14, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Admittedly it is perhaps 50% longer than the current version. I have no objection to tightening it up. If you find a logical loophole, or an unnecessary sentence, by all means, please feel free to cut away, reword, plug the loophole, or tighten as you please. Thanks, Scott P. (talk) 18:26, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Streamlining WP:SYN to bring new ideas into Wikipedia

I agree with User:Scottperry's assessment, and the problem is that WP:SYN is fatally flawed to let people's original fears delete sourced text, as he stated, "lest someone might accidentally have a fresh thought". It does seem mediaeval, or definitely like the Dark Ages, in fearing some unknown article sorcery as speaking dangerous words, so have their wiki-tongues pulled out (!). However, it's not the Wikipedia people who are awry, but rather, a lack of wiki-education for coping with new ideas. Scottperry's instinctive understanding of Wikipedia seems fundamentally correct: "Wikipedia is the sum of all knowledge" including past, very ancient, and brand new, but the problem has been the "verifiability" aspect: for that reason, it is often difficult to post new ideas and defend them as "verifiable" (due to a lack of quick sources), but the same can be said of very ancient ideas from texts whose translation might not be easily obtained. We get around the "this-aint-the-news" fears by anticipating news reports, such as an earthquake or celebrity death, where people were collecting data about common earthquake regions, or someone's illness and dangerous habits. As you suspected, when "the word" gets out to the people, then numerous readers descend upon Wikipedia to find the latest sourced information about a topic. Pageviews about a celebrity or scientific topic might skyrocket to 300x times the typical daily pageviews. When a celebrity gets arrested, or an ancient tomb is opened, or water is discovered on Mars, then masses of people come to Wikipedia, and quite often, they find what they wanted. You have triggered an interesting line of discussion: methods to adjust WP policies so we can streamline the addition of new reports into the existing articles and give people the encyclopedic (all-around, old+new) answers they seek. Plus, here's a core problem: when the masses come to Wikipedia and DON'T find the answers they seek, then typically, some particular people have been actively censoring text to conceal that information. With 12 million users, when something is NOT there, it typically hasn't been "overlooked" but rather, purposely omitted from Wikipedia. Hence, several policies need to be adjusted to allow all verifiable information to be properly reported, while still protecting privacy and other concerns. For WP:SYN, I again, advocate: only novel conclusions stated in writing should be censored as "original research" while facts that support some unpopular, feared conclusion should not be removed. Wikipedia should not be the thought-police which prevents people from thinking in "scary" ways. I realize that concept might be difficult to understand, after years of removing sourced text, but consider how many times Ann Sullivan had to hand-sign "W-A-T-E-R" in Jimbo's Alabama, before Hellen Keller understood why the concept mattered at the water pump. -Wikid77 (talk) 23:07, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Re "For WP:SYN, I again, advocate: only novel conclusions stated in writing should be censored as 'original research' while facts that support some unpopular, feared conclusion should not be removed." - How do you feel about including facts in such a way that they advance a conclusion that is neither unpopular nor feared but is a conclusion that hasn't appeared in a reliable source and may not be true? Thanks. --Bob K31416 (talk) 01:10, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
  • I think advancing a position, as an unstated conclusion, is a issue of WP:NPOV unbalanced text, such as listing all the successes of someone, without their failures, as implying that they are a "perfect" person. The "fix" is to tag-box that section as "NPOV unbalanced" and seek text about their failures, not delete their successes because they imply super-human ability. As you might know, in some home-improvement TV series, the footage of construction activities is heavily edited: when someone hits a nail sideways and bends, or someone drops a board and ruins a drill, then film editors remove those scenes from the film, as if every time a hammer is used, nails never bend, or boards never get dropped where they break valuables at the site. It can be difficult to remove a bent nail, plus marring the surface or requiring putty to conceal marks. It's a problem of one-sided coverage about events, as NPOV imbalance, but not "original research" in using a hammer. Sourced data which leads to one unspoken conclusion, but not others, is an issue of NPOV imbalance, not WP:SYN synthesis. -Wikid77 09:47, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
Re "Sourced data which leads to one unspoken conclusion, but not others, is an issue of NPOV imbalance, not WP:SYN synthesis." - My question wasn't concerned with the existence of any other possible conclusions. It was concerned with the case of presenting facts in such a way that the reader is led to an unspoken conclusion that hasn't appeared in a reliable source and may or may not be true, regardless of the existence of other possible conclusions. I hope that helps clarify my original question which you may want to read again. Thanks. --Bob K31416 (talk) 12:37, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Spirit of the proposed major revision of WP:SYN, April 15th draft

I don't care if the exact version of our proposed major revision to WP:SYN at April 15 proposed revision of WP:SYN is accepted verbatim or not. It is the spirit of our proposed changes to WP:SYN that I am behind. For those editors who may not have yet had enough time to wade through the specific details of the new proposal, please let me summarize here the 'spirit of the changes' in synopsis form:

  1. WP:SYN is still used to address potential editorial problems related to the potential of WP:NOR that tend to arise when citations regarding new areas of research are used in Wikipedia.
  2. WP:SYN henceforth will limit itself to dealing only with the textual accuracy, reliability, and neutrality of any such citations, and will no longer also deal with the question of what thoughts might possibly be conjectured in the minds of others. Henceforth, WP:SYN will strictly deal with the accuracy of the text that is specifically written on our pages, and no longer with any potential evil thoughts that might arise in the minds of others! Wikipedia policy is designed to create and present well written citations, and not to worry about what new insights or forms of reasoning such well written citations might point out or awaken in the minds of our readers.
  3. Specifically, the problem that WP:SYN will henceforth deal with is the tendency for editors to sometimes 'excessively editorialize in writing' about the new and heretofore unpublished ramifications or implications that multiple citations can sometimes point out. Please see the specific example given in the proposed revision. This specific example that is central to the new proposal is essentially a major rewording of the old WP:SYN example using the allegorical citation about the 160 wars and the United Nations. Again the proposed revision can be found at: April 15 proposed revision of WP:SYN.

Thanks, Scott P. (talk) 12:23, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

As long as your revision does not address the problem of implied conclusion, it will remain unacceptable to me. Blueboar (talk) 12:30, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Assumed original conclusions are worse than original research

Also see above: #Review WP:SYN removing text when no original research.

A fundamental problem, in policy WP:SYN, is the empowering of original conclusions which might not be, at all, what the author of the text was even thinking. The policy empowers people to reject (censor) sourced text, if they can assume that an original conclusion is being implied to "advance a cause". Unless such conclusions are actually stated in an article ("put it in writing"), then the author's intent is wide open to rampant speculation. Even popular culture is replete with adages that warn of multiple interpretations of the same events: "One man's trash is another man's treasure" or "One man's rebel is another's freedom fighter" or "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Hence, the problem, with WP:SYN, is not a matter of rocket science: the problem is, quite simply, that someone can claim an original conclusion when the author of the text held a different view (trash v. treasure).
Unless the supposed "original" opinion is actually stated, in writing, then WP:SYN can be used to pre-censor sourced text, based on claiming some, invented original conclusion that the author did not intend. The author is not allowed to include original research, but the censor is allowed to remove text based on assumed "original conclusions". Is there still anyone who cannot grasp the problem with that policy? A conclusion to be censored must be explicitly stated in an article. Any other situation is merely an incomplete view, as a NPOV imbalance, where the text might seem to indicate a particular conclusion, but if more text were added, then the NPOV balance could shift to a more neutral position. The result is not to censor by WP:SYN but rather, to add more text to achieve an NPOV neutral converage. WP:SYN must insist that censorship be used to remove actual text stating a novel conclusion, rather than sourced text presenting a one-sided view (in someone's opinion of one-sided). -Wikid77 (talk) 04:35, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

There's no problem with it. Be it by WP:SYN or simple editorial discretion, if an author's statement is considered by consensus to be excessively vague in its implied conclusion, there's nothing wrong with removing it. This is not a matter of censorship but of good writing. We do a service to our readers by making sure our articles clearly convey significant viewpoints. Someguy1221 (talk) 06:25, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
With SYN violations the problem is the original conclusion... in many cases a WP:SYN violation can be resolved by simply rewriting the section in question; shifting the wording around, moving A away from B so the reader is not led to form conclusion C. If the text no longer leads to a conclusion then there is no SYN violation, and no need to remove (or "censor") either information or sources. Blueboar (talk) 13:46, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
There is no problem whatsoever with WP:SYN. It's clear, it's necessary, and it's in no way whatsoever a violation of the NPOV policy. I find it to be the most unambiguous clause of any among the small set of policies we're to adhere to here at WP. Professor marginalia (talk) 07:00, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Blueboar's comment above that the problem isn't the sourced facts themselves but the way they are presented and positioned in the article to suggest an unsourced conclusion. They should be repositioned or presented in a way that doesn't suggest an unsourced conclusion, if they are worthwhile, rather than deleted. The positioning aspect is somewhat mentioned in WP:SYN with the excerpt, "If no reliable source has combined the material in this way, it is original research." --Bob K31416 (talk) 13:11, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
  • That topic is not about policy WP:SYN as being a violation of WP:NPOV, but rather some collections of one-sided sourced data being an NPOV non-neutral view, rather than original-research synthesis. -Wikid77 09:47, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
  • It seems to me that the old version of WP:SYN unnecessarily confuses the idea of original research "writing new ideas as if already established by others" with simply good research, "writing published ideas that are neutrally and supportably laid out, even if these ideas might indirectly point others to a new concept". This to me is quite confusing! A good neutral well supported citation is not made OR, simply because someone might disagree with the nature of its content! Scott P. (talk) 12:45, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
One problem here is that you keep talking about how the source is being removed... but in WP:SYN violations it is the article text that is the problem, not the sources. If you can rewrite the text so that it no longer forms an improper synthetic conclusion, you can return the information (and the source) to the article. Blueboar (talk) 13:22, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

WP:SYN accuses author Jones of United Nations plagiarism

In re-reading policy WP:SYN, I analyzed the specific usage of 2 examples in that policy, as to possibly implying some unsourced conclusion. I was surprised to learn, in fact, that there is a real connection, implying a WP:BLP violation:

A. "The UN's stated objective is to maintain international peace".
B. "Smith claimed that Jones committed plagiarism by copying...".

At first, I thought that text couldn't really imply some unstated conclusion, but then I decided to check a Google search, and "Aha!" I found 168,000 matches for "United Nations" plus "plagiarism". However, it gets even more sinister: there is a WP article titled "List of plagiarism controversies" which specifically states, "unabashed plagiarism, with lengthy passages of United Nations reports". I know it can't be proven to be, intentionally, accusing that author of plagiarism. However, the evidence is overwhelming: there is A + B, which leads to C (plagiarism of United Nations documents), where that connection is even written on Wikipedia, itself. Perhaps the people who re-wrote WP:SYN to have those 2 examples thought it would be okay, as an inside joke, if the policy actually had tricked people into accepting the policy as mere policy, rather than a veiled attempt to lead people to conclude, yes, the man did commit plagiarism of UN texts (but did he actually, according to valid sources?). Because the policy explicitly states that people could conclude "C" (if they so choose, like it's really a choice in the policy), then the policy itself seems to be clearly trying to plant the seeds of the accusation, without listing reliable sources which could confirm the guilt or innocence of people disguised as so-called "Smith" or "Jones" as if that wasn't a transparent attack on the real author, as a WP:BLP insinuation. Policy WP:SYN needs to be deleted or re-worded to avoid that unsourced BLP text, soon. Perhaps next time, the examples could be about 2 fictional guys debating on Mars and the "Intergalactic Peace Federation" or such, not trying to sneak an unsourced real-world conclusion into the policy. If only WP:SYN had not advised to BEWARE implied conclusions, then readers would be free to ignore any inferred conclusions; however, since the policy clearly states to beware any implied conclusions, then it self-validates those conclusions as being the intended meaning. It's like a guy telling a police officer, "There's a handgun in my backpack, or NOT", so now, the officer has no choice: he must arrest that guy and search the backpack (per policies about implied suspicion). A policy cannot warn people to fear implied conclusions, and then imply an author plagiarized UN documents. Per policy, WP:BLP, such a conclusion must be backed by a source footnote, rather than just verifiable in common sources. Since the names are disguised as "Smith" and "Jones" then it cannot be properly footnoted, and that text should be deleted as a WP:SYN synthesis claiming he plagiarized United Nations documents. Am I assuming all these implied conclusions correctly? Does anyone know the real names? -Wikid77 09:47, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

I think a bit more flexibility is needed when reading Wikipedia's policies - this is not like pure mathematics where you have rules that can be applied strictly and work 100% of the time. Common sense helps and so does consensus, especially for WP:SYN because blatant syntheses are rare - it's usually more subtle. In your particular example, if there was a consensus between editors that this is indeed a WP:SYN then it should be removed or rewritten. Obviously that wouldn't happen because your conclusion is not something that any sensible readers would make (unless of course they are trying to make a point but in this case they would be a minority). Laurent (talk) 10:59, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Actually, many editors just remove unwanted text because they explain the implied conclusion as WP:SYN, and they do not wait for consensus before deleting that text. This is not like pure criminal cases, where a suspect is given a jury trial and only executed after a unanimous verdict of "guilty". Instead, people explain their feared conclusion, and immediately delete the text per WP:SYN. However, I like your novel idea of needing a consensus. -Wikid77 (talk) 12:16, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Numerous problems to avoid in rewriting WP:SYN

Before re-writing the WP:SYN policy to become more effective, and less likely for abuse, then several problems need to be avoided. I have begun the following list (feel free to insert more entries, tagged with your user-signature):

  • A1: No more current-day examples, such as the United Nations, which has real-world cases of plagiarism being debated. Set examples in the future, or distant past. [Wikid77]
  • B1: Avoid examples of personal guilt or moral failures, because those examples risk WP:BLP violations, even by insinuation, that some particular living person has committed plagiarism. [Wikid77]
  • C1: Use examples of novel conclusions, not old success/failure viewpoints. For decades, people have claimed, "The UN is a failure" or "The UN is a success". Neither conclusion could be, honestly, claimed for being "original" as never stated in sources. Some readers will become highly confused when examples are based on nonsense which claims that age-old conclusions about the United Nations are "original" now: consider how goofy some readers have perceived the policy. [Wikid77]
  • D1: The rewritten policy should note that "original conclusions stated in writing" should be removed or changed, but implied conclusions cannot be controlled, because implied conclusions are in the "eye of the beholder". [Wikid77]
  • E1: Explain that, when multiple sourced statements seem to imply one particular original conclusion, but not others, then that is not a case of WP:SYN but rather, WP:NPOV unbalanced text, as promoting a one-sided view, and hence, that text could be flagged for an WP:NPOV_dispute, to request more-neutral wording be edited. [Wikid77]
  • F1: Require a local consensus before deleting an "original conclusion stated in writing". I suggest, Step 1: post the original-conclusion debate on an article's talk-page; Step 2: attempt to contact the author of the disputed text, to request a rewrite or removal of that text. No more simply declaring the feared conclusion to be WP:SYN, and then self-righteous deletion of text. Perhaps even use the word "self-righteous" to emphasize that the person deleting text has no greater authority than the person who added the text. [Wikid77]

Those are some of the major issues I've detected. Please feel free to insert more entries (in the list immediately above), tagged with your user-signature in brackets "[xxx]". Otherwise, continue the discussion below. -Wikid77 (talk) 12:16, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

I strongly feel that this is taking us down the wrong path. WP:SYN does not need a rewrite. Blueboar (talk) 12:22, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree. The proposals are wordy and seem to want to allow OR, if I've understood them. I'm joining this thread to the other, Wikid -- it's best to keep them together so that people can get an overview. SlimVirgin talk contribs 12:29, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
Blueboar, you have yet to explain the logical fallacy of the new revision. You have yet to give a single example of how the new proposal could allow a single bad edit. I am beginning to wonder if you have yet really even taken the time to carefully read the new proposal. Why do you keep us here spinning around in verbal circles with your still vaguely worded platitudes, which you are calling objections, without your being able yet raise even a single specific objection that shows that you have seriously taken a few moments to carefully analyze the logic of the new proposed revision? I am not going to even reply to any more of the vague platitudes you are using as objections until you are able to show me that you have actually seriously read the proposal. Blueboar, could you please give me a specific example of how you feel the proposed revision might allow true OR, meaning "a written claim made by a Wikipedia editor, presented as if it were an already established researched and published fact, when it was not", into Wikipedia? (And please do not try to claim that the content of a good citation can make it OR.) Scott P. (talk) 13:05, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
This is simple, you think that implied conclusions should be allowed under certain circumstances. I strongly disagree. Blueboar (talk) 13:35, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
Scott, I fully agree with Blueboar. I think the current WP:SYN text is well-written, and expresses our policy very clearly. I don't see where there is a problem. And if it ain't broke, ... Crum375 (talk) 13:38, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
I've listed 6 reasons (A1-F1), above, that WP:SYN is broken and the policy is still disputed. -Wikid77 14:04, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
  • I apologize that it takes so much writing to address all the problems in the WP:SYN policy. -Wikid77 13:55, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
Thanks Wikid, Crum, the current policy enables a good properly referenced neutrally worded citation to be deleted, simply because someone may have a problem with what such a citation might "prove". This is broken. Again, we are not here at WP:NOR to worry about the thoughts of our readers. We are here to worry about the accuracy of the written citations of our writers. Truth is not lies. A properly written citation is not OR, and we are not administrators of the Grand Inquisition either. We are here to keep the text accurate. Not the minds of our readers pure. Why can't you see this simple fact? Jeesh!! Scott P. (talk) 14:03, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
Scott, can you please show a real example in a real article where "the current policy enable[d] a good properly referenced neutrally worded citation to be deleted"? Thanks, Crum375 (talk) 14:06, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for asking Crum375. Please see A real example of a bad deletion of some good citations below. Scott P. (talk) 15:14, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
Scott, I believe that the Hutaree diff you cite is a perfect example of why WP:SYN needs to be enforced, and I also believe the current version is very clearly worded. It seems that in this case, one editor's view is that the Hutaree are not "good Christians" because Jesus was against violence. But instead of finding a reliable source to support his view, the editor finds a source which says that Jesus was against violence, not in reference to the Hutraee. And this is exactly where WP:SYN steps in: we may not create new implications or conclusions to advance a position, which are not supported by a reliable source, which makes the point in direct reference to the subject we are adding. So this example is classical WP:SYN, which shows that the current policy is working correctly and needs no modification. Crum375 (talk) 15:41, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
  • There are several problems with using WP:SYN to reject the claimed conclusion that "The Hutaree are not good Christians'":
1. WP:SYN ranks a feared synthesis above verifiability: The policy neglects to emphasize how synthesis is not a problem if the conclusion can be verified elsewhere. The key issue is NOT synthesis, but rather the verifiability of the conclusion. Hence, if any other sources can be used to verify a conclusion, then it is perfectly fine. However, WP:SYN claims the conclusion violates WP:OR regardless of a 3rd source. That's a big mistake, utterly fatal for a policy.
2. WP:SYN ignores generalized sources: The Bible is considered a generalized source about Christianity, as a whole, and the Bible has been applied to millions of discussions about religious groups. To allow WP:SYN to reject the Bible as a source in an article, about religious practices, is a fatal problem, and therefore WP:SYN is a totally failed policy, in addition to all its other fatal problems.
3. WP:SYN denies common sense: Fundamentally, Wikipedia does not "subset" reality, by creating an artificial environment where standards and practices of the real world do not apply. By denying the use of multiple sources, simply because they do not contain the same word, again, WP:SYN is fatally flawed and completely useless in the real world.
Those are just a few of the problems with WP:SYN, but those are enough to show the policy is utterly worthless. The proof has been simple, just logically apply WP:SYN to real examples and show the totally absurd results, ergo by reductio ad absurdum, policy WP:SYN is an invalid concept and must be rejected. -Wikid77 (talk) 14:00, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Example as original: Lawnmower using water as fuel

I checked the history of WP:SYN, and it seems that the controversial examples about the United Nations were added, and then heavily disputed, circa 2 July 2009. Despite opening the door to rejecting an implied-conclusion synthesis (that the UN was a failure), that example also asked the user to believe that, despite decades of debates about perceived UN failures, no source ever claimed the UN was a failure because wars are still fought (hard to accept no source about that). Instead, let's use a hypothetical example, without awakening those success-of-the-UN debates. Consider a lawnmower example, based on two hypothetical witness sources "[1]" & "[2]":

  • "A person tried to use water as a lawnmower fuel. While mowing a steep hillside, he stopped the mower, then added a funnel full of water.[1] The mower then started quickly, and was still running almost 2 minutes later.[2] Hence, water is a good lawnmower fuel when gasoline (petrol) is not available."

    In that hypothetical example, the lawnmower story is being traced to 2 witnesses in reliable sources. The conclusion is the synthesis (not found in either source): "water is a good lawnmower fuel". However, with no source, that conclusion must be changed or removed. Perhaps, in reality, the lawnmower continued running because it was on a "steep hillside" and tilted so that the water did not mix into the fuel line, during 2 minutes of operation. Regardless, an editor had stated "in writing" the non-verifiable conclusion: "water is a good lawnmower fuel" and that would be invalid synthesis.

Using the lawnmower example (rather than the U.N.), the issue is better illustrated, especially since the conclusion definitely seems highly original, and meanwhile, few people would believe the conclusion is valid, despite the mower running 2 minutes. Also, there is no connection to the hot-topic issue about politics of the United Nations, just a mere hypothetical case with a suspicious conclusion "stated in writing". I suggest using that lawnmower example as a better example of WP:SYN. -Wikid77 13:55, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

As far as I can remember, we chose the UN example because it came from an actual article debate. As such, I think it is a better example of the problem than your lawnmower one. Blueboar (talk) 14:02, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Many people know the UN has been described as a failure, for years; that's not an original idea (search Google & find: "Wars have been fought all over the globe…with the participants mostly members of the UN" ). You can't expect all readers to truly accept UN failure an as original idea. Wikid77 15:34, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
I can't follow what's being proposed here, or why it's being proposed. Could Scott or Wikid give one real example of material that was wrongly excluded from an article because of SYN? We need to know whether a real problem is being addressed. SlimVirgin talk contribs 14:08, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Again, see: Special:WhatLinksHere/Wikipedia:SYN and review perhaps 100 of those pages (hunt words "WP:SYN" or "synthe" on each talk-page). There are so many problems, but the disputes are just now being (re-)awakened. Consider the list of A1-F1 as a start. If you do not have time for this massive discussion now, we will try to keep it organized for your comments, later. -Wikid77 15:34, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
In the reworded example of the UN example of the proposed rewrite, the indisputable well referenced facts about the UN would not have to be deleted. Only the overly presumptuous conclusion. As the current policy is now being employed, editors are not being told they must rewrite their conclusions, but their citations are being wholly deleted and rejected simply because I don't think that our typical readers of the current WP:SYN policy are yet able to understand what the real problem that is trying to be conveyed here is. I think that the current policy is confusing people and I don't think that this is what was intended. Thus, the need for a proposed revision.
I think that the most common example is of a statement which is obviously correct, and, due to it's obviousness, not likely to have been so stated in a published source,and where the persons who want the article to be POV in the opposite direction knock it out by just claiming "OR", without even the slightest challenge to the accuracy of the statement. For example, if I said "President Obama has never served time in prison." Based on a preponderance of evidence, this statement is certainly true. But I would be hard pressed (and would take more time than any productive person would want to invest) to find a wp:ver grade cite which says this. A person who wants the article to be POV against him knocks out the sentence simply for being "OR" without even having to make even the weakest claim that the statement is not correct. This type of thing is pervasive in Wikipedia. If you address this from a "guidelines for deleting" standpoint rather than "guidelines for content" it would be much simpler. Simply say that deletion also requires an assertion that the statement is not correct. North8000 (talk) 18:37, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

A real example of a bad deletion of some good citations

OK SlimVirgin, what first got me over here to WP:NOR was this: on April 12, over at the Hutaree article I had two citations that I considered to be neutrally worded and properly referenced, yet they were deleted by other users as WP:SYN. Please see: an example of a bad deletion of good citations under current wp-syn. The explanation given by the other editors was that these references were by definition OR. I thought to myself, 'How can a neutrally worded properly referenced citation be considered OR?' I've been editing here since practically the beginning of Wikipedia, and I've never seen any similar logic used before by a Wikipedia editor for a deletion. I decided to go to WP:NOR to see if there have been any recent significant policy changes, and sure enough, there was one.

Beginning last summer, WP:SYN first began to concern itself not only with the accuracy and textual neutrality of a citation, but also with the possible implications of a citation. It seemed to me that there was some confusion in the writing of WP:SYN that enabled these authors to misunderstand the intention of WP:SYN. People were confusing the need to have neutrally and fairly written conclusions in Wikipedia with a perceived need to prevent people from possibly thinking new thoughts after merely reading a neutrally and fairly written citation. Please take a look at this edit and tell me what you think of it. Scott P. (talk) 14:33, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

The statements that Scottperry sought to include in the article are not synthesis, in that the two sources are not combined in a way to reach a conclusion that is not contained in either source. It is, however, original research to place general statements about the bible and religion in a way that suggests the statements apply to a particular modern organization. Jc3s5h (talk) 15:32, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
It's SYN because he's combining the sources to imply that the group isn't really Christian, though the sources don't mention that. SlimVirgin talk contribs 15:36, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
(ec) Thanks for the example. I'm afraid it's classic SYN. You wrote in Hutaree (your edit bolded by me):

Amongst some of the leadership of the "Christian far right", there is some tentative and qualified support of the actions taken by the Hutaree. The rationale given for such support is the apparent belief that the teachings of Jesus would have advocated and justified the killing of random local police officers, if such officers supported a government that abused its power, and which had fired the first shot. Such a 'first shot' is believed by them to possibly have already been fired in what is described by them as an armed conflict apparently already under way between their people and the US government. [20] However, the Biblical Jesus "consistently opposed violence". [21] During the first three centuries of the Christian Era, the teachings of the early Church ruled out violence as an option, even in self-defense. [22]

It is OR and specifically SYN because your sources don't mention the Hutaree. Here's an anology, Scott. Imagine I write an article about you. It says:

Scott Perry came to public attention in April 2010 when he won the World Chess Championship. However, according to the lobby group, Mothers against Chess, chess is played only by isolated geek types who should be focused instead on getting a real job.

We don't allow that unless Mothers against Chess has singled out Scott Perry for particular comment. The reason we don't allow it is it's possible to find a source that says something about anything, and randomly adding commentary not directly related to the topic means the article would lurch from one barely related POV to another. SlimVirgin talk contribs 15:32, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
See also my reply above. And the reason for SYN is not just the "lurching" effect, but also because that, as Wikipedians, we may not introduce new conclusions or implications unless they have been directly stated by a reliable source. The act of taking a general quote about Jesus and deciding that it applies to a specific situation is original research, unless there is a source making that point for us in direct relation to this specific subject (the Hutaree). Crum375 (talk) 15:48, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
You are comparing apples to oranges. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary that not all chess champions are geeks. The implication here is clearly misleading, and it would be quite easy for an editor to prove that the connection that is trying to be made is logically unsound. But the citation about the women's league is not technically OR. It is accurate, and rather than giving it the misnomer of a type of OR, it should be called something like "slippery-slope-logic", not "original research". An accurate but incorrectly used citation is not really OR, it is merely a citation incorrectly used out of context. Now about the second citation, according to our own Wikipedia article, there is no known evidence that the Christian church ever adopted an offical policy that advocated violence in its first three centuries. It would be easy to contest the accuracy that all chess players are geeks, simply by pointing out to the citation's author, a single non-geeky type chess player. Then that author would have to agree that his citation was inaccurate. In the case of the second citation, there is no known evidence that the early Christian church ever adopted a formal policy of advocating violence. Therefor the logic supporting the second reference remains sound, until otherwise actually and textually disproven. It should not be deleted with a simple broad-swipe using the label OR, when there is no counter-proof even felt as necessary. It is not really OR either. If there were counter-proof, it would merely be out of context. Scott P. (talk) 15:58, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Scott P., In the Hutaree example that you gave, note the edit summary for the main reason for the deletion, "removing two sentences based on sources that do not discuss Hutaree per WP:NOR, see talk for explanation". This reason for the deletion is supported by the lead of WP:NOR and here is the relevant excerpt, "To demonstrate that you are not adding original research, you must be able to cite reliable published sources that are directly related to the topic of the article, and that directly support the material as presented."

If a reliable source was provided that made those statements while discussing Hutaree, it would have been demonstrated that original research was not added. Instead, only the editor made the connection between the topic Hutaree and these statements by placing them in the Hutaree article, and thus they were deleted. --Bob K31416 (talk) 15:55, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

So you are saying that because there was no discussion of the Hutaree in the second citation, it must be so irrelevant to the article that it must be automatically called OR and instantly deleted as such? That would be like saying that because an article is titled "Cake", that a citation that did not have the word "Cake" in it must automatically be called OR and deleted as such. What about a reference in the article to the best ovens for baked goods? Should that citation be deleted and called OR because it doesn't have the word "Cake" in it? Scott P. (talk) 16:05, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Excellent point about questioning that, now, "related" means contains the same word. Meanwhile, many people will assure everyone that Jesus relates to everything, by definition, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Plus, that's not just in English, but also written in the original Greek dialect, as almost a word-for-word translation (Word=Logos, except the end part is re-ordered as "God was the Word" ). It is really bizarre to claim Jesus does not apply to "Hutaree" or anything else in the Universe. What part of "King of Kings" or "Lord of Lords" (or "Alpha to omega") is hard to comprehend, here? Hence, that argument has been refuted, so if there are no other objections, then the Hutaree text can be restored, as intended. -Wikid77 (talk) 16:45, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Scott, let me add a point to Bob's reply. You seem to think that we need a "counter argument" to your addition of an unsourced implication or conclusion. This is fundamentally wrong. The core principle of WP:V and WP:NOR is that the burden of finding a source is on the person adding the material, not the one removing it. So if you want to add a conclusion or implication that Hutraree are not good Christians, you need to find a source which directly says it, and not ask your fellow editors to "find a counter-argument". We don't "argue" here: we find reliable sources which directly support what we write. Crum375 (talk) 16:09, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

The difference may be subtle, but I don't think you realize you have now crossed over into the realm of the 'thought-police' when you call something that is unstated as an unsourced implication and therefore OR, delete. I am saying that logical uncontestable unstated implications are not ours to police. Unstated implications should not be subject to the same rigorous standards that written conclusions are. They should be regulated, but under a more lenient set of rules, and an unstated conclusion that someone might not agree with does not make a good citation OR, it may make the citation inapplicable, but not OR. That is all I am saying. Gotta go now. Bye for today, Scott P. (talk) 16:19, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
See also my reply below. There is no "thought police". There is simply a requirement to find a reliable source directly supporting any material which is challenged or likely to be challenged. "Material" includes direct statements or implications, or conclusions. We can't be the first to introduce new information of any kind to the world: our goal is to summarize what other have written, not to create new material. Crum375 (talk) 16:25, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Again, a major disconnect: when found in a reliable source, then, indeed, Wikipedia can introduce new information of any kind to the world. There's seems to be a fear that Wikipedia can only report the majority opinions, but nothing new which might be rare. Please, re-read "Thought police" to better understand that concept. -Wikid77 17:00, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
You seem to be confused, Wikid77. If something is already published in a reliable source, we are not introducing anything new to the world. There is no "fear" of any kind on Wikipedia: if reliable source X says Y, and we deem Y important enough, we will include it. We just can't make up stuff here. That's the key. Crum375 (talk) 17:09, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

To reply to your point about cakes, if you find a source about "baked goods", and there is no contention about the point you are making, it could be acceptable for cakes. But once there is contention, you must find a direct source which refers directly to cakes. This is part of our requirement for reliable sources in general: you need to supply a direct source if the material you add is challenged or likely to be challenged. Crum375 (talk) 16:13, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

  • I understand the desire to censor ideas that someone, personally, does not want to see in print, and the current WP:SYN will allow that, but that doesn't make it "right" (2 wrongs don't make a right ). Perhaps we need to define a new policy "WP:LURCH" which specifically questions text which jumps off into wild tangents, such as "The sky is blue, and blues music is often performed outdoors, under a wide-open sky". As you can imagine, there is no end to wild tangents, and I don't see any "scary" original conclusion about the "wide-open sky" but let's define a real policy that can deter wild-tangent writing, rather than pervert policy WP:SYN to claim awkward text, which someone doesn't like, is guilty of being "WP:SYNFULL text". I think it is clear, now, that policy WP:SYN is being warped to compensate for a lack of other text-content policies. Meanwhile, policy WP:NOTCENSORED deters deletions, even if the text might seem offensive to a person's religion, even if Jesus were mentioned. -Wikid77 16:24, 16 April 2010
There is no desire to "censor" anything: if we have a reliable source that Jesus said X about Y, it can go into the Jesus article or the Y article. But it can't go into the Z article unless Jesus mentioned Z directly. That's what SYN is about. Crum375 (talk) 16:29, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps material from the following two excerpts from the indicated source could be used for the idea that you want to add at the Hutaree article without violating WP:NOR.
Click on show to view the contents of this section
1) "The news of the dramatic raid came the morning after many Christians heard the account of the Passion of the Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed at the beginning of the Holiest Week in the Christian year. In the account from St. Luke´s Gospel read at the Catholic Liturgy for Passion/Palm Sunday (Luke 22:14 – 23: 56) we heard of the encounter between Jesus and His captors in that Garden called Gethsemane. There, one of his disciples sought to wield a sword of violence to repel the authorities. It is absolutely clear in this account where Jesus - and thus His Church - stand on the improper use of the sword - outside of legitimate self defense."
2) "Links on this bizarre website lead to anti-Semitic sites; sites containing other apocalyptic nonsense and sites where anyone can learn how to build an underground shelter and purchase survivalist products. The rhetoric is bizarre and in no way can be called 'Christian'. "
Fournier, Deacon Keith (2010-03-29). "Members of Extremist Group´ the Hutaree´ Arrested. Terror Plot Foiled". Catholic Online. Retrieved 2010-04-16.
I found it by googling: Hutaree Jesus peace . There may be other articles that you might find by googling. --Bob K31416 (talk) 17:34, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
Actually, I didn't have to google to find material. It's already in the Hutaree article in the section Criticisms and context,
"According to area religious leaders, the Hutaree have completely misconstrued the teachings of Jesus, which have 'nothing to do with violence or using weapons or anything and could hardly justify what they were trying to do.'[1] "
Seems like this expresses the idea that Scott was trying to put into the article, and this excerpt does it in accordance with the policy WP:NOR. --Bob K31416 (talk) 21:23, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Thanks, Bob_K31416 for that source. -Wikid77 00:49, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
You're welcome. --Bob K31416 (talk) 03:02, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Confusion from 10,000 problems with WP:SYN

All the flurry of recent discussions stems from the massive implications of the logical fallacies inherent in the WP:SYN policy fiasco. There is no end to the problems it will cause, by fearing implied conclusions. Let me clarify again: when any chain of reasoning begins as an "argument from false premises" then it is common knowledge, that those those false premises can be used to prove anything. This is a fundamental concept in "sentential logic" or "predicate logic". A false premise can be used, while following correct reasoning, to "prove" that 1 = 0, or black is white, or right is wrong, or 2 = -2, 3 = -3, 4 = -4,... 10,000 = -10,000, etc. When I noted "confusion from 10,000 problems with WP:SYN" that was just a placeholder number to indicate infinite problems, in all those article disputes, which stem from basing a policy on the false premise that someone might fear an imagined conclusion (a "false premise") is being implied by mixing sourced text from 2 sources. Do you realize that means most articles can only be based on a single source? Naturally, hundreds of people have been derailed by this WP:SYN policy confusion. Plus, combine that confusion, with other problems in the WP:SYN policy, and the problems just spread in all directions. Again, I have emphasized, above, that no person with worldly experience will stomach those United Nations examples, with the idea of the UN denoted as a failure (or success) as being an "original idea" not found in a source. Here's an "original" idea: go inside the UN and try those examples! One source even noted, over the top, that most wars are conducted by UN member nations!!! If you re-read the above discussions, it is clear that policy WP:SYN has more than 7 major disconnects with reality. Perhaps what is making these discussions so difficult, to absorb all at once, is the fact that all the problems in WP:SYN are being exposed in a massive revelation of all the failed ideas that it contains, in every facet. WP:SYN is a Ball of Confusion, with numerous problems all twisted together. We have not even begun to elaborate on all the ideas presented above. -Wikid77 00:49, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

The real kernel of OR

To all of those who have shown an interest in this dialogue about OR. I just found this historical nugget, that I thought you might find interesting. The actual kernel of OR. Everyone here these days seems to be labeling anything that they don't agree with as OR and instantly deleting it.

Here is what the original entry in the article about OR said. It was entered on December 21st, 2003 and it is a direct quote by Jimbo Wales:

If your viewpoint is in the majority, then it should be easy to substantiate it with reference to commonly accepted reference texts.

If your viewpoint is held by a significant scientific minority, then it should be easy to name prominent adherents, and the article should certainly address the controversy without taking sides.

If your viewpoint is held by an extremely small minority, then whether it's true or not, whether you can prove it or not, it doesn't belong in Wikipedia, except perhaps in some ancilliary article. Wikipedia is not the place for original research.

Now the idea of OR seems to have been so significantly altered, that we are sometimes no longer permitting others to publish the actual majority view, as under the new WP:SYN policy, we are now sometimes labeling even the majority view as OR. Witness the citation about the early Christian church's policies towards advocating violence, which was promptly labeled as OR, and deleted, despite the fact that it was clearly the majority view, and it possibly does not even have a significant minority disagreeing with it.

I ask, "Is the current WP:SYN policy of labeling even a majority view as OR and promptly deleting it... is this new WP:SYN policy harmonious with Jimbo Wales' view of OR?" Or are his views now considered as OR too?

Please, somebody, anybody... please just finally carefully read the proposed WP:SYN revision and give me a single example of how it would be less harmonious with Wales' definition of OR than this new recently installed WP:SYN policy is. The proposed revision can be found at: April 15 proposed revision of WP:SYN.

Thanks, Scott P. (talk) 20:30, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

The key sentence in that quote is:

If your viewpoint is in the majority, then it should be easy to substantiate it with reference to commonly accepted reference texts.

If the viewpoint is found in reliable sources it is not WP:SYN.--SaskatchewanSenator (talk) 21:03, 16 April 2010 (UTC)


Thanks SaskatchewanSenator. I would agree, except that the way WP:SYN is now written, and being enforced, as according to the arguments of the majority here, actual majority views are now sometimes being labeled as WP:SYN and deleted as such. Scott P. (talk) 21:08, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
Scott, you seem to be conflating NPOV with NOR/SYN. Unlike NPOV, SYN has nothing to do with the majority or minority views, or neutrality. It is simply an extension of WP:V, clarifying that everything we write that is challenged or likely to be challenged must be directly sourced. In other words, we can't make stuff up, regardless of how fervently we believe it to be "true". If somebody challenges the text you add, find a reliable secondary source which supports it directly. Nothing to do with majority views. Crum375 (talk) 21:09, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm conflated. So the citation about early Christian church policy was not sourced? I'm very conflated now.... Scott P. (talk) 21:19, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
You still don't get it. The point is not that Jesus or the Christian church said X. They have to say it directly in relation to the Hutaree. If they just make a general statement, it does not belong on the Hutaree page, and any attempt to put it there is WP:SYN. If you believe that this is so clear cut, with all the news media out there, find a reliable source that makes your point directly about the Hutaree and cite it. It's when you try to create or synthesize a view point by building it up yourself from (individually well sourced) pieces that you are violating WP:NOR and WP:SYN. Crum375 (talk) 21:29, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
The proposed revision is unacceptable because the example it promotes as an acceptable use of the sources is original research. It claims that "Some may see a trend" but the only one who saw the trend is a Wikipedia editor. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:11, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
Seriously Jc3s5h, you're telling me that you saw no trend there? I must be very confused. Gotta go, thanks to both of you for all of your insights..... Scott P. (talk) 21:19, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

I think that the first example in WP:SYNTH may have given Scott the wrong impression that Synth is only or mainly about unstated conclusions. I concluded this from the lead sentence in Scott's April 15 proposed revision of WP:SYN. I think he got this wrong impression because we failed to put a simple example of Synth with a stated conclusion as the first example in the section. --Bob K31416 (talk) 22:11, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Pardon my dumb question, but are you talking about a specific proposal to revise, and, if so, where is it? Thanks North8000 (talk) 22:30, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

This confusion stems from us failing to get the WP:ATT policy through. NOR and V should be on one page as Wikipedia:Attribution. It then becomes clearer how SYN fits in. Scott, I don't know how else to explain it to you. Can you respond to the example I gave earlier? Imagine the article:

Scott Perry came to public attention in April 2010 when he won the World Chess Championship.[2] However, according to the lobby group, Mothers against Chess, chess is played only by isolated geek types who should be focused instead on getting a real job.[3]

If both sentences were sourced, would you feel this was fair enough? SlimVirgin talk contribs 01:02, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

SlimVirgin, obviously your citation about the chess championship and the women's league is logically unsound, but if the cites are sourced, yet the logic unsound, then it seems to me that it should be deleted as unsound logic, but not as OR.

I see the term OR being applied to any type of writing that anyone disagrees with for any reason. It's like some sort of a magic bullet in a magic gun that gives POV pushers seemingly invincible power over those whom they would do battle with. It no longer seems to bear even a faint resemblence to Jimbo's original definition of it. I am told first that the properly sourced cite about the early church is OR, then I'm told that it's really WP:V because WP:SYN is not WP:NOR but really WP:V, yet WP:SYN is listed on the WP:NOR page as a subcategory. Does anyone even care about Jimbo's original definition of it anymore? Has anyone yet found a single example of how the proposed revision is less true to Jimbo's original definition of it than the recently implimented WP:SYN policy? Scott P. (talk) 03:53, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

  • I agree that WP:SYN has become a "magic bullet" which many people have discovered, to be used when they want to remove sourced text from articles. I think the problems in WP:SYN have reached a "critical mass" so that the whole policy should be re-written to better reflect reality. Some forms of logical connections need to be allowed to avoid suppressing of common sense. I'm not saying that sourced text should be synthesized using "spline curve interpolation", but we seem to be thwarted by excessive limits on collecting data from multiple sources. -Wikid77 12:04, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
You hit the nail right on the head. It has become a big problem. North8000 (talk) 12:14, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes, Wikipedia's content policies are a "problem" for editors who want to post unsourced material. This is why we have these policies in place. Crum375 (talk) 12:44, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Crum375, respectfully, I feel that your arguments have been circular (in essence saying that the policy defines the goal, and the policy implements the goal that it defined, so everything is fine) and have been missing the point which Wikid77 made so well. North8000 (talk) 12:57, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
No, there is no circularity at all. The mission of this site, as reflected in our core content policies, is to only allow attributable material in articles. This means that any material which is challenged, or likely to be challenged, must have a source directly supporting that material. "Material" can include any type of information, such as data, interpretations, conclusions, or implications. All such material must be published elsewhere before a summary of it is allowed on Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not the place to first publish new information of any kind — it is intended to be a summary of material already published by reliable sources elsewhere. This is our mission, this is what the content policies say, and they are only viewed as a "problem" by some people who mistakenly think this is a forum to publish their favorite home-brewed ideas, confusing Wikipedia with MySpace. Crum375 (talk) 13:18, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Location of the proposed revision of WP:SYN

For those who were asking for a link to the revision proposal, it is at April 15 proposed revision of WP:SYN.

I think that the proposed revision is a roundabout way of addressing a two subtle but important facts of writing.

When you juxtapose two facts, you a are implying cause-effect.
And "some people believe" ..... is a trojan horse writing trick to "hide" the actual assertion inside of a platitude.

Once you recognize this, I think that the example boils down to making a controversial and unsupported cause-effect statement between the UN and wars.

North8000 (talk) 12:49, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

I agree with you about Crum. Above he just made the rather unique claim that "SYN... is simply an extension of WP:V"! Since when did WP:SYN get reassigned from being a subcategory of WP:NOR to being a subcategory of WP:V??? Apparently it has already been secretly reassigned in Crum's mind without any of us being told! His reasonings are becoming more and more confused. Now that I've pointed out the original definition of WP:NOR, suddenly in Crum's mind, WP:SYN no longer has a thing to do with WP:NOR!
Later he uses the rationale that, "everything we write... must be directly sourced," as his apparent support for the deletion of what was clearly properly sourced material. Since these last two arguments in the last section, I've finally given up on attempting to comprehend Crum's seemingly rather circular arguments, and am not going to waste any more of my time and energy trying to follow his reasoning any longer.
Regarding your statements above, juxtaposing two facts "may sometimes be used" in a manner that could imply cause and effect. In the specific example used in the proposal, that would be the case. But such a juxtaposition does not necessarily make the implied cause and effect either accurate or inaccurate, it merely makes that implication. Making an unstated implication should not be deleted simply because it is an unstated implication. Once the unstated implication might be made, then common reasoning should be used to determine if the unstated implication might be misleading, or logically sound. 'Stated implications', such as 'some people believe,' unless they can be sourced, showing the actual 'some who believe', and then also showing that those 'some' are at least, as Jimbo said, a significant minority, are obvious POV statements, and also OR. Scott P. (talk) 14:32, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
I think that we both ended up at the same place. The cause-effect statement (first implied, then wrapped in the trojan horse)should NOT be deletable with a mere OR/Synth claim. But (under what I would suggest) if someone makes a good faith challenge of the accuracy / correctness of the statement, THEN it would have to be either supported or removed.North8000 (talk) 16:57, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia is not intended to be the "Thought police" and readers are expected to do their own thinking, even about cause-effect situations. The fallacy of Post hoc, ergo propter hoc (about mistaken cause-effect conclusions) is even described in an article. Hence, people can do their own thinking, about 2 sourced phrases, and decide whether (or not) some cause-effect relationship exists between them. Wikpedia does not prevent "thoughtcrime" by creating policies to prevent people from thinking dangerous conclusions, whenever they read 2 phrases in a row. I realize that WP:SYN has probably been used, for months, to attempt to control such conclusions, but that was an oversight due to volunteers being too busy to correct WP:SYN. -Wikid77 14:38, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
"Since when did WP:SYN get reassigned from being a subcategory of WP:NOR to being a subcategory of WP:V???"... Given that WP:NOR was created as split off from WP:V (which itself was split off from WP:NPOV), I would answer that question with... since the policy was created. None of our polices stand alone. All are interconnected. Blueboar (talk) 15:33, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Who has been vandalizing the main WP:NOR project page???

Someone has been vandalizing the main WP:NOR project page, please stop. 70.88.94.134 (talk) 18:39, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Scottperry's IP sock did [7]. Are you looking for a block?The Magnificent Clean-keeper (talk) 19:05, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
I see someone was not amused. Thank God you found the miserable culprit. A thousand curses upon the wretch. A thousand pardons to you oh magnificent clean keeper. I pray none of the poor people who might have read the vandalized versions for the 5 minutes they were there might not have been mislead, heaven forbid!!!
Actually, I am getting a bit worn out by this debate. Perhaps that is why I was willing to stoop to playing thinly veiled sock-puppetry to try to point up exactly how ridiculous the current WP:SYN policy really is, and making sure that you would quickly realize it was me. Really... sorry. But also, If you guys want to vote on this, maybe now is the time..... This page has grown long enough as it is. So I put my vote above now....
Scott P. (talk) 19:18, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

No original policies: replace WP:SYN with a cited policy

Quite clearly, the obvious warning of "no original policies" needs to be heeded. At this point, we need to find some well-recommended policies, backed by reliable sources, which can be used to deter original research, without attempting to control people's thoughts as being Thought police. Many other organizations have had difficulties in setting policies. Also, I understand that people might think they could re-invent WP:SYN to actually become a viable policy; however, developing "standards and practices" is a difficult problem, due to the effort of coordinating multiple suggestions, as if organizing a committee decision. The easiest solution will be to follow some well-established polices that are used (in the real world) to limit the extent of original research in articles. Unless some real-world policy is followed, there is a great risk of creating another "original policy" which is basically "original research on steroids" with a far-reaching, off-balance multiplier effect being leveraged on thousands of articles. -Wikid77 14:38, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia is the world's leading example of a useful encyclopedia created by anonymous users who's contributions are not reviewed in advance. Thus Wikipedia's policies are real-world policies. Jc3s5h (talk) 15:05, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Just my opinion, but it looks like the discussion has reached the state of WP:DEADHORSE. There seems to be a consensus that is not budging after much discussion. Perhaps you and Scott might collaborate on an essay to express your views and invite any other interested editors to participate. --Bob K31416 (talk) 22:17, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

The underlying issue

Since our earliest days, Wikipedia has had endless debates between "inclusionists" and "exclusionists". Such debates have raged at most of our policy pages (most recently over WP:BURDEN, and WP:HANDLE). I think the above is another example.

The underlying issue always comes down to this: Should problematic material be removed? The answer to that question is inevitably... sometimes, sometimes not. This is, of course, a very unhelpful answer. We need to ask another question: When is it OK to remove problematic material, and when is it not OK to remove problematic material? The answer to that is... it is OK to remove problematic material when you can not fix the problem by some other method.

Wikid and Scott make a valid point when they note that (too) many editors jump right to removal when confronted with WP:SYN violations. However, I strongly disagree with how they deal with this issue... I strongly disagree with changing the policy to allow synthesis. I think the right way to deal with it is to make it clearer that removal is a last step... that it is what you do after you have found that you can not fix the problem in some other way. In the case of WP:SYN violations, editors should first see if they can resolve the violation without removing the information (for example: searching to see if the conclusion is actually verifiable and, if so, adding a citation... or rewriting the section in question so that it does not form a synthesis... or adding a tag so that someone else will fix it).

Deletionists need to understand that sometimes removing material is not the best option... Inclusionists need to understand that sometimes removing the material is the only option. Blueboar (talk) 15:02, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Proposed major Reversion of WP:SYN

The recent alterations to WP:SYN in which WP:SYN attempts to police not only written conclusions but also unstated implications have seemed to cause this wild tangent and confusing of the actual meanings. I agree with users Wikid77 and North8000 that Wikipedia policy has significantly failed in its attempts to police potential unstated implications. This attempt to expand Wikipedia editorial policies to not only deal with written conclusions but to also attempt to deal with the thoughts of our readers has caused a great deal of confusion amongst many, as is evidenced by the large amount of recent conflict on this page.

I would like to propose what I am calling a major reversion of WP:SYN, as opposed to a major revision. I am proposing that we revert WP:SYN to its last version from June 21st, 2009 01:56, by SlimVirgin, which was the last version of WP:SYN that did not attempt to deal with mere implications. As such, I have just created a new page at Proposed major Reversion of WP:SYN, which I have started as an exact copy of this June 21st version of WP:SYN. Comments welcome. Scott P. (talk) 15:46, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Gone til tomorrow.... bye. Scott P. (talk) 16:13, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose - If you look in the archives, there was good reason why we decided to deal with implied synth. those reasons are still valid. Blueboar (talk) 15:54, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Blueboar, this is not a vote. You know that we have not yet come to any semblance of a consensus yet, so you are using this maneuver of trying to turn this dialogue into a 'vote' before anyone has yet even fully reviewed it only so you can keep your status-quo by procedural default. Scott P. (talk) 15:59, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

You proposed something... I am strongly opposed to that proposal. I am sorry that you don't like the way I stated my opposition, but that will not prevent me from stating it. Blueboar (talk) 16:43, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I have been looking at the insanity that is going on on this talk page with increasing disbelief. At some point it just has to stop. Hans Adler 16:02, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose - the current WP:V, WP:NOR and WP:SYN clearly express the fundamental policy that we can't make stuff up. If there is some important conclusion, observation, interpretation, implication, analysis or any other material which you feel belongs in an article, find a reliable source which directly supports it. Crum375 (talk) 16:07, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Scott P, are you sure you don't want to propose something more "surgical" than a 9 month revert? North8000 (talk) 20:15, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Perhaps we could state in the reversion of WP:SYN that editors will be free to re-insert any material that was developed regarding other issues besides unstated implications. Scott P. (talk) 20:42, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I have no idea what's going on here, or even what's being proposed. SlimVirgin talk contribs 21:19, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

RE: Wikipedia_talk:No original research#Location of the proposed revision of WP:SYN

  • Support proposal, in crisis. I think this revert to the 21 June 2009 revision is the first step in resolving the crisis of policing people's thoughts about some feared conclusion they might imagine. Then, I suggest stating "or conclusion C could be backed by another source" which doesn't even connect A + B. That was a loophole in WP:SYN: people could delete conclusion C regardless of verifiability in some 3rd source. For articles with "dangerous" unstated conclusions, they could be handled by consensus discussions about wording in each article. -Wikid77 21:37, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
  • The only difference between this and the June 21 revision [8] is that we now have an additional example, which several people had been pushing for for a long time. I agree that a second example wasn't necessary, but it was strongly argued that the lone example was too complicated and a simpler one was needed too. It didn't change the meaning of the section in any way if that's your concern. SlimVirgin talk contribs 21:44, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
  • I suggest "#Example as original: Lawnmower using water as fuel" perhaps in a 2nd update to WP:SYN. The UN examples seem too confusing for worldly readers, because few would believe there is no source for "UN is a failure" (debated for decades), with people even noting many wars are fought by UN member nations (!), a political hot potato. -Wikid77 22:02, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Whether or not there's a source for "UN is a failure" misses the point. The lawnmover example is very confusing. People have rejected it (rightly or wrongly), so please don't keep on proposing it. SlimVirgin talk contribs 22:08, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The "implied" phrase is absolutely necessary. If there is debate over whether that applies or not to a particular circumstance then that can be done on talk pages or noticeboards. Most of the arguments against the current policy are a form of [i]argumentum ad absurdum[/i], where the policy is stretched and twisted till it comes up with an unreasonable outcome. It is hardly a new idea that interpretation of policy or guidelines varied between users, and that is why we rely on consensus. Quantpole (talk) 10:01, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

The wp:nor policy and the policy which it is subset of (wp:ver) as written have made them become ever more widely mis-used by POV pushers, deletionists etc. to the detriment of Wikipedia. These policies definitely need work, but I'm not so sure that this proposal is a good way to start. North8000 (talk) 11:09, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

Number of posts

I can't follow what the proposals are because there are too many words. Scott has posted 124 times in four days and Wikid 26 times in six days, mostly long posts, so it's impossible to follow the key points. Can one of you say very succinctly (two sentences) what the concern is? Less really is more when it comes to policies and their talk pages. :) SlimVirgin talk contribs 21:54, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

  • The major concerns are:
  • WP:SYN should not attempt thought control - unstated conclusions are not 100% obvious, but in "the eye of the beholder".
  • Let consensus remove dangerous text - we don't need a magic bullet which cites "WP:SYN" & deletes text. Make them debate removal on article talk-pages.
  • UN-failure opinion is well sourced: UN examples will confuse our more worldly readers: many sources conclude UN-failure, by wars among member nations.
I will elaborate more above the proposal. -Wikid77 Wikid77 (talk) 22:13, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Please don't elaborate any more, Wikid; the above is clear enough. Regarding your points: (1) yes, true, we can only try to limit the more obvious examples; (2) we have policies in place so that people don't have to debate everything from scratch each time on talk pages; (3) you may be right, but many editors disagree with you, and that anyway misses the point of the example, which is about the structure of the sentence, not about the UN. SlimVirgin talk contribs 22:40, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
About 90% of statements in Wikipedia violate a thorough application WP:ver and and wp:NOR (which structurally is a subset of it and the most common way of using it.) The defacto interpretation of these is that POV pushers or deletionists etc. can just delete or tag any of the 90% that they choose, without even challenging the statement itself. This has made these policies be widely abusable and abused by POV pushers, deletionists etc. He/she said: "Let consensus remove dangerous text - we don't need a magic bullet which cites "WP:SYN" & deletes text. Make them debate removal on article talk-pages." While the "consensus to remove" may take it a 1/4 step too far, the biggest crisis with this pair of policies would be solved by simply saying that a condition for deleting or long-term tagging a statement must include challenging the statement, not just whacking it with a magic bullet procedural claim. North8000 (talk) 11:25, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
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