Wikipedia talk:Neutral point of view

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Poor example[edit]

For example, an article should not state that "genocide is an evil action", but it may state that "genocide has been described by John X as the epitome of human evil."

In one discussion someone quoted the NPOV policy including this piece. At least two persons did not recognize it as part of policy and viewed it akin to a frivolous argument "ad Hitlerium". Further, this example teaches using bad style. A professional encyclopedia must replace the phrase "genocide is evil" with "genocide is crime against humanity", i.e., it is evil, but not simply because John X says so.

Of course, I understand what example meant to say, but IMO it is poor choice. This example must be replaced with the one in the area which is clearly the matter of opinions rather than established facts. In the talk page I mentioned I made the following suggestion:

Instead or writing "the movie sucks" it is better to write "John X says the movie sucks". Still better, there are reviewers which aggregate the reviews, so the article may quote them to say, e.g. "65% reviews say the movie sucks".

I didn't realize it was policy quoted, so my suggestion was sloppily phrased. Please consider its merits apart from wording. My version has an additional benefit of suggestion to search for something more than a single wise man say, which is IMO an important part of NPOV. -M.Altenmann >t 18:03, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

I think you make several good points. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 06:28, 12 February 2015 (UTC)
I agree, and I'd like to add an additional reason: genocide is a very controversial event about which most people unilaterally agree is both evil and wrong. Although it isn't Wikipedia's place to make moral assertions, using such a controversial one will lead to misunderstanding and controversy. It's best to use a less morally charged example. As for how a professional encyclopedia would word it, I'd say that it would be worded that "genocide is considered to be a crime against humanity". Some encyclopedias take a more direct stance and state a moral opinion like in your example, but others (including Wikipedia) tend to distance themselves from these claims to be completely neutral and disinterested in every instance. But yes, I agree with your points, and I do think this should be changed. Perhaps something like:

Instead of writing "this movie is bad", it is better to write "John X thought this movie was bad". Better still, "on Date A, John X believed the movie to be poorly made", preferably with a quote from John X describing his opinion. Since many sites aggregate reviews, it may be better to simply document these aggregates instead, as in "On Metacritic, 65% of reviews rated this movie poorly, stating that it was 'A', 'B', and 'C', among other reasons".

Perhaps not the best suggestion, but a thought. ―Nøkkenbuer (talkcontribs) 17:53, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

Not necessarily a good idea to determine weight by amount of published review articles.[edit]

The circumcision article on wikipedia has clearly given most weight to medical aspects, because most of the review articles are medical. This makes it appear like people generally are circumcising their kids because of medical reasons, which clearly isn't the case. Most people are circumcising their kids because of cultural fashion, tradition and/or religion. It would therefore be better to have a wikipedia article about circumcision that mainly focuses on cultural fashion, tradition and religion, rather than on medical aspects. The same might be true for other wikipedia articles, that have been "hijacked" by the medical community on wikipedia. 84.210.54.80 (talk) 20:10, 3 February 2015 (UTC)

Wikipedia summarizes accepted knowledge as contained in the best RS. If the aspect of a topic most covered in RS is the medical aspect, Wikipedia shall reflect that. In the case of circumcision, this is demonstrably the case[1]. The suite of articles has ones dedicated to religious, historial and ethical aspects. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 06:20, 12 February 2015 (UTC)
Hellow Alex and 84. I read this discussion as I tried to understand the issue more. In that talk of whether to prioritize the religious or medical reasons for circumcision in the main article, I feel it's correct to mention the medical aspect of circumcision first but for a different reason. That discussion started with saying there were more reliable sources pertaining to the medical aspect and to prove that they searched a science website. That seems a fallacy, why not search some religious websites or better yet read some religious historical books? But the number of sources is a bad reason for assigning priorities. What will most people that search wiki for the term "circumcision" be looking for. Hard to say. Which is more important, religion? Or medical. Whether god exists or not and whether he wants us to cut penises or not doesn't matter as much as the real world issue of whether this surgery can kill someone by mistake, whether it can hurt your sex life, whether it actually prevents HIV and STDS or not. So the answer to these questions, as best as they can be answered by reliable sources, should be prioritized. This link is in the main article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_male_circumcision and it should stay, if anyone is wondering about that topic they can click on it. Popish Plot (talk) 19:48, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
The Wikipedia phrase, "in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint in the published, reliable sources" is a phrase which only "slipped into" Wikipedia Policy last summer. I personally think that it is far too vague of a phrase, and in fact encourages a certain type of POV in articles. In the case of this article regarding circumcision, it has apparently caused the editors over there to "drop the ball" as far as I can see. The WHO clearly advocates for circumcision (using standard modern medical procedures) in all countries, yet the article fails to recognize this. See the full Britannica article on circumcision (though the recent WHO literature does focus on African countries, it in no way states that its recommendations re circumcision apply only to Africa).
Our editors at the circumcision article have overlooked that one almost central important fact. They became so locked into trying to figure out what the "proportion of the articles" is, that the article itself suffered. Britannica editors are not forced to have to struggle with such a difficult phrase regarding the supposed "proportion of the articles". I think that this very ill-defined phrase "in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint in the published, reliable sources" should again not be included in Wikipedia policy. It limits Wikipedia to the POV's of the editors who are best at convincing others that they know whatever the supposed "proportion of articles" is. The fact that 9 months later, editors are still "choking" on this one phrase here at the NPOV talk page is interesting. Wikipedia policy should be restored to the more sane way it served us well its first 11 years. Scott P. (talk) 11:48, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
The section that helped address this issue, "Balancing aspects", was reworded to make it fairly identical to "Due and undue weight", instead of being the common sense counter-balance it was intended to be. That debate took place in late 2014. Several disagreed with the change, but there wasn't enough to revert it and we never came up with an alternative. It's worth more discussion. Morphh (talk) 12:38, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────

Scottperry (Scott P.), you need to stop significantly changing the policy page, like you did here, without WP:Consensus. You tried this before, adding Jimbo material and whatnot, and were thoroughly rejected. Flyer22 (talk) 15:32, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
Please feel welcome to explain your reasoning below. Allowing two differing viewpoints in the same article is a different topic. Thanks, Scott P. (talk) 15:36, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
Wikipedia_talk:Neutral_point_of_view/Archive_48#Jimbo_Wales.2C_DUE.2C_and_articles_specifically_about_thought_systems --NeilN talk to me 15:44, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

True NPOV is not possible due to Wikipedia's inherent bias[edit]

This may well have been covered before, and I'm sorry, but I'm not going to peruse all 47 archives just to find out. It seems worth mentioning somewhere (and maybe I just missed it) that true neutrality can never be achieved on Wikipedia simply due to its community of editors. Anytime you have one subgroup of a population (in this case, primarily affluent, primarily western, primarily male, primarily academic, primarily urban -- I could go on) you will have ingrained bias. There is little that can be done about it, of course, but it seems worthy of mention in this article. I realize a lot of work has been put in to attempt to counteract it, but it simply cannot be entirely eliminated. The best example I can give is to just start reading talk pages and RfC's. I realize those are not content, but they are where content originates. And they effectively make clear that the majority rules on Wikipedia -- reality has little bearing. Kwagoner (talk) 15:45, 8 March 2015 (UTC)

First, this isn't an article. It's a policy page. What you are talking about would be more appropriate to mention in an article discussing the difficulties of achieving a neutral point of view (and yes it is difficult), but on a policy page, it would be a distraction. The purpose of a policy page is to explain what our policy is. In this case, our policy is to present material from a Neutral Point of View. That may be difficult... We may not always achieve the goal of the policy... but it is still the policy never the less. Something else to consider, mentioning that we don't always live up to the policy would give wikilawyers a "loophole" to exploit). Blueboar (talk) 16:24, 8 March 2015 (UTC)
We have Wikipedia:Systemic bias and Wikipedia:WikiProject Countering systemic bias. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 16:32, 8 March 2015 (UTC)
NPOV is not about treating subjects in a neutral way but treating reliable sources in a neutral way. That is certainly achievable. The fact that the Wikipedia population is mostly affluent, western, male, academic, urban is not a problem because so are the authors of reliable sources. TFD (talk) 16:33, 8 March 2015 (UTC)
When you think about "Neutrality" in editing, I think it is a sort of a "Holy Grail" of editing. (Please forgive me for this poor analogy that I am about to make.) Assume that there is an "ultimate truth" in the universe. Now also imagine that there is also a matching "ultimate point of view," which would be the view of one who was so fortunate as to know the "ultimate truth". I think that this is what NPOV actually aims for. It aims for a point of view that is totally objective, and therefore would probably be the best, the most natural, and the most accurate. Scott P. (talk) 12:27, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

RfC of possible interest[edit]

The RfC underway at Talk:2015 University of Oklahoma Sigma Alpha Epsilon racism incident#RfC: Should the language of this article be softened? revolves in part around whether the language used by the article constitutes a POV issue, it might be good to get some editors from here to weight in on it. Artw (talk) 21:49, 16 March 2015 (UTC)

Allowing more than a single viewpoint in an article[edit]

I recently proposed here that when a topic has both a significant or notable minority view, and a majority view, that Wikipedia articles ought to allow both sides of an argument to be fully and fairly laid out. I apologize for making the edit before the discussion, but I thought that this might be the best way to clearly state the proposal. Thoughts? Scott P. (talk) 15:30, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

This is an incorrect description of your edit you linked. -M.Altenmann >t 18:50, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
I'm not certain what you mean... Why do you feel it is incorrect? Does this mean you think that there should, or should not be two points of view fairly and fully laid out in such articles? Please clarify. Scott P. (talk) 19:08, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
I am not expressing an opinion about the policy. I am stating that your description here incorrectly (possibly unintentionally) renders your edit, by omitting certain subtleties which IMO are critical. Therefore, to exclude misunderstandings and the resulting waste of time, please state your suggested change here in full, in this form:

old text

new text

Please also keep in mind that, first, this is a policy, not an article, so we usually don't need to footnote it with references; and second, argumentum ad Jimbonem are good in talk pages, but not in policies, where consensus counts, rather than authority. -M.Altenmann >t 19:46, 25 April 2015 (UTC)


OK, in the hope of clarifying that Wikipedia does ask that the two conflicting views typically found within "significant or sizeable minority view topic articles", both be fairly and fully laid out, I propose that the current NPOV text:

In articles specifically relating to a minority viewpoint, such views may receive more attention and space. However, these pages should still make appropriate reference to the majority viewpoint wherever relevant and must not represent content strictly from the perspective of the minority view.

Be changed to read:

In articles specifically relating to a minority viewpoint, such views may receive more attention and space. In articles relating to viewpoints that fall somewhere between true "fringe/ distinct minority" views and "mainstream" views, both sides or contending views should be fairly represented, allowing the reader to "think for themselves". Such pages should never limit content strictly to the perspective of the minority view.

Scott P. (talk) 20:14, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

Why? Is there an article where the above proposal would help the encyclopedia? It is likely that the only outcome from the proposed change would be to assist those pushing fringe views and other nonsense. Where authorities on a subject differ, their views are recorded, so what is the problem? Johnuniq (talk) 01:09, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I believe there is such an article that could easily serve as an example of the many articles that could be helped by this policy. I arrived at this article by simply scanning the recent comments on this talk page. Please check out the Circumcision article. There, the editors have tried to make it appear that all medical opinion recommends against circumcision, yet the fact of the matter is that it is an "undecided subject", and a very significant minority recommends for circumcision. There I have tried to include the fact that it is not a "decided" subject in the article, but I have been fully reverted out of that article. We will see how my most recent edits and arguments there will fare.
There on the article's talk page you can see the debate, obviously unsettled for years, raging on. There seems to be this idea that Wikipedia's role is to not only inform people, but also to make up their minds for them. This idea of making up people's minds for them in such cases is RUBBISH. We need to encourage truly "Balanced" articles, which show both sides of such debates, not "Slanted" articles, which intentionally give the mistaken impression that there is only one side of such an argument. Thus the need for the edit to the policy that I have suggested above. Scott P. (talk) 09:50, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
It's an issue that has been discussed many times before... advocates of fringe views often claim that an "argument" exists (and that their side of that "argument" is not equally represented), when in fact there isn't much argument at all. It's really just a few vocal advocates shouting in the wilderness. On the other hand, I have seen advocates of mainstream views try to suppress legitimate minority viewpoints as being "fringe", when in fact they are not.
Which is which is not something we can answer in the abstract... because a lot depends on the specifics. The underlying question is this: How much weight should a specific minority viewpoint be given? If it really is a fringe view, then (per WP:UNDUE) it should not be given much weight at all. It's not our job to promote fringe views. On the other hand, if it is a legitimate minority view, then we need to note that the view exists, and what it's proponents say.
So how can you tell how much weight to give a viewpoint? You examine what the independent sources say about it... how much they discuss it. Set those involved in advocacy (for and against the viewpoint) to one side... If the independent sources spend a lot of time either discussing the view point (whether to support or debunk it), then we should give that viewpoint a reasonable amount of space in our article. However, if they more or less ignore it, then we should do so as well.
That said... once you determine how much weight to give the viewpoint (whether that is a lot, a little, or none at all), you can then go back and examine what the advocates (for and against) say on the issue, and use them to flesh out what we say about it. Blueboar (talk) 12:29, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
Agree with Blueboar here, well stated. In the particular case Scott is talking about, the edits are getting reverted mainly because they're making the article misrepresent the sources. Can we agree that before we start considering NPOV we first have to 1) identify the reliable sources and 2) represent them accurately? Zad68 13:46, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
It actually has to all be considered at the same time... because there is a wrinkle to consider: There is no such thing as a 100% completely unreliable source. Fringe advocacy sources actually are reliable for statements of opinion (ie an attributed statement about what the advocates say)... even if they are not reliable for statements of unattributed fact. Which means we have to do more than just identify "the reliable sources" in some abstract sense... we also have to identify which types of statements any given source appropriately supports. However, there is no point in identifying what type of statement the source might be reliable for if the opinion it expresses is so fringe that we will omit it in the first place. That's where NPOV and UNDUE come into play... figuring out whether a specific statement of opinion should be noted in depth, noted in passing, or completely ignored. Blueboar (talk) 14:34, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
@Blueboar:, please consider making your exegesis part of the policy. Since the issue pops up now and again, it probably means that the policy is insufficiently clear/ understandable. -M.Altenmann >t 16:33, 26 April 2015 (UTC)

Blueboar, right, the reliable sourcing I'm referring to here is authoritative, independent secondary sources. Independent secondary sources are needed to be able to determine whether a particular viewpoint is being given emphasis compliant with NPOV. Yes, any source is a primary source for itself, but you cannot determine how much weight to give it without a secondary (tertiaries can help too). Any advocacy group can produce self-published sources and plaster them all over the Internet, cluttering up your Google search results with the top 50 result placings, but unless that group's views are covered seriously by authoritative, independent secondary sources, they shouldn't be included at all. This is what current policy says, and it produces the desired result. Zad68 21:10, 26 April 2015 (UTC)

A fringe article is a minority view (albeit a small one - applying the ancillary article exception) and thus is covered by "In articles specifically relating to a minority viewpoint". We make no distinction there between a "significant minority" and "extremely small (or vastly limited) minority". The point of that statement is that the scope of an article changes the focus of the weight. At a higher level, fringe views get no place in an article - weight is placed based in proportion to the prominence within the larger context. As you create sub-articles describing minority views, the body of sources changes to focus on fully exploring the topic scope, and while they will describe their place in regard to the larger topic (as the policy states), the viewpoints that make up the minority view become more central to the article, thus gain more weight in relation. This is no different when the article focus is a fringe view, except the sources often become more primary and sometimes self-published (if discussing itself). In any case, the content should represent a complete understanding of the topic, which means fully describing the viewpoint and the various positions on it. Thus, I don't see what the change accomplishes. Morphh (talk) 21:50, 26 April 2015 (UTC)

I'd like to remind y'all that articles such as Whig Party and Zoroastrianism, which both reflect minority points of views, exist, and probably do not link back or discuss the current majority points of view (which I guess would arguably be Republicanism and Catholicism, respectively). I know you scientists out there, staring down at your microscopes, are offended by some people say the world is flat, other people disagree type articles, but there exist whole other realms of thought out there!

But on the larger point, per WP:YESPOV, by all means, include multiple points of view where possible. -- Kendrick7talk 22:10, 26 April 2015 (UTC)

Bad examples. These are belief systems, not scientific theories. --NeilN talk to me 22:17, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
  • strongly oppose i cannot see any place where this would ever be a benefit to the encyclopedia and i can see a gazillion places where it would be horrible. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:38, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
Red-Pen, could you please keep to the subject of the specific article being discussed. How would you see it as being "horrible" in the Circumcision article? Scott P. (talk) 22:55, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
No, we do not tweak policy wording based on one article. If you want to change wording, all implications must be considered. --NeilN talk to me 23:00, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
You are correct, but we must start with one article, no? Scott P. (talk) 23:06, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
The article on Circumcision is all about the science of medicine. Is that not an acceptable artlcle to start with? Scott P. (talk) 23:11, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
No. You can propose changes and other editors are free to comment on how those changes will affect other articles or a broad spectrum of articles. It's no good working on wording for one specific article in isolation. It's like building a factory to produce one size of a shoe style in one specific color when you have to manufacture shoes for the entire market. --NeilN talk to me 23:53, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
The only reason that I chose the Circumcision article to start with was simply because it was listed just above on this page as an article where editors have just complained that the "minority view" is being stifled there. Low and behold, I inserted a tiny reference to the "minority view" which happens to be the view of the World Health Organization and of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and which happen to be views listed prominently in the Britannica article on the same subject, and my small mentions are quickly reverted with the explanation that they are supposedly "misleading" but with nobody able to answer my question, "specifically why are the views of the WHO and the AAP misleading?" That article, indeed only fairly presents one side, even though they fail to fairly represent the largest association of pediatric doctors in the US, and the WHO. Britannica knows how to fairly represent two contending views. Why can't we? Why we have to play second fiddle to Britannica because we don't know how to fully list two opposing views fairly in a single article? Scott P. (talk) 00:04, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
Wouldn't WP:NPOVN be a better forum for this? --NeilN talk to me 00:07, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

Jumping Jack Flash on a pogo stick, Scottperry, the reason you kept getting reverted was because you were not representing the sourcing accurately. You can't make the article say something the sources do not and then complain about NPOV policy because your edits didn't stick. Zad68 00:12, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Exact quotes from both organizations are "inaccurate", sure Zad. I'm trying to point out that this is a systematic error with Wikipedia policy. Not that it is merely a problem in one article. The editors of the Circumcision article correctly followed NPOV policy and carefully weighted their article in favor of the majority view. That left the WHO and the AAP as supposedly "misguided organizations", whose misleading views were not permitted to be fairly explained on the page. Britannica knows how to weave more than one viewpoint into an article. Why can't we? Scott P. (talk) 00:18, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

Sorry to be a party pooper, but it's my bedtime.... Night. Scott P. (talk) 00:22, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

Neither time did you quote the AAP as you claim, and it's the AAP's position that you misrepresented both times. Until we resolve this misunderstanding, we can't get anywhere. G'night. Zad68 00:23, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

I believe all three of us editors at the Circumcision article are now on the same page. Thank you kindly, all.Scott P. (talk) 00:55, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

Allowing more than a single viewpoint in an article (post Circumcision article-interaction)[edit]

I have two question for those here who are in "opposition" to this proposal that Wikipedia policy should have a section which specifically describes how "minority views" should be treated. They are:

  1. If you feel that all articles should automatically be "weighted" to favor the "majority view", and that minority views don't even deserve a separate policy section to describe how they should be presented, then are you saying that you believe that essentially, the only views that deserve any real consideration in Wikipedia are majority views?
  2. If you feel that minority views are not worthy of any specific Wikipedia policy about how to best represent them, then without any policy addressing this question, what is there in our policy to prevent such views from being essentially "unfairly squelched"?

Thanks, Scott P. (talk) 00:55, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

I believe that one very major reason why people seem to prefer Wikipedia over Britannica is because on any given subject there is generally more information available on Wikipedia than in Britannica. As for myself, I like to read articles where "there is an abundance of pertinent information, but not an "over-abundance" of it. It seems to me, that this idea of providing an abundance of pertinent information, but not an over abundance of it, could serve well as a "guiding principle" in determining what should and what should not be included in Wikipedia. That is, would a reader see the information as being "helpful" or as mere "clutter"? Currently, our policy seems to try to focus more on very abstract principles that read something like "does the majority of the opinion of the published community support this idea?" Why can't this be simpler, and only ask, "does it seem more likely that a typical reader would see this information as being helpful or as being mere clutter?"
For me the article on Circumcision is a sort of a case in point. Whoever wrote the Britannica article on circumcision probably determined that including both some pro-circumcision-views and some con-circumcision-views would most likely be found by typical readers as being "helpful" information, and thus he included both perspectives in his article. In our article on the same topic, our editors, duly following our policies, could only justify fully explaining what they apparently find as the majority-view which was the con-circumcision-view. Thus, they systematically deleted anything that attempted to fully explain the pro-circumcision-view, as they apparently determined that this policy was a "minority view, and therefore "not worthy" of a full explanation in Wikipedia.
It seems to me that our policies are drifting away from trying to meet the needs of our audience, and are becoming a rather convoluted means of trying to debate "ultimate truth" amongst ourselves, when that is not supposed to be the purpose of an encyclopedia, a "well rounded" view, not a "difinitive single view". Thus, I feel it is time we started a section of policy that focused on the proper presentation of minority views, so that we can present more "well rounded" articles, and not "difinitive single perspective" articles. Scott P. (talk) 11:02, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Scott... You seem to be exclusively focused on the circumcision article. It is never a good idea to try to change policy based on one single article. We need to write policy with all articles in mind. So... to better prove your point, can you come up with a few other articles where you see a similar problem... and could you give us an example of an article where you think the policy is being applied appropriately? Blueboar (talk) 11:47, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
As I wrote above, I believe the editors of the Circumcision article were following our "weighting of articles" policies appropriately. Our "weighting policies" encouraged them to "weight" that article with no explicit restrictions on how much to "weight" it. Ultimately they were so zealous in weighting the article in favor of the perceived majority, that the article even included a false statement, heavily laden with med-speak to make it difficult for most lay people to even understand, in "weighted" support of the majority view. It took thousands of words of talk-space discussion to even correct that mis-statement of the facts, so zealous were the page editors to "weight" the article, and to make sure no minority view was fully laid out. Which specific WP policy do you feel is written to prevent the "over-weighting" of articles in favor of the "majority view", that they violated? Scott P. (talk) 16:29, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Blueboar, do you feel that there is already some Wikipedia policy in place to assure the fair representation of noteworthy minority views? If so, which policy might that be? Thanks, Scott P. (talk) 16:49, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes... its called WP:NPOV. which states that we should present: ...all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic.
The key word, of course, is "significant"... there are often disagreements between editors as to whether a particular view should be considered "significant" or not - advocates of minority views will often argue that their view is very significant, while opponents will often dismiss them as being not significant at all. The way we resolve the disagreement is to look at reliable independent econdary sources to see how much they discuss the view. If they give the minority view a lot of attention (even if only to disparage or debunk it), so should we... If they ignore it, so should we. That's called giving it due weight.
You might also look at our WP:FRINGE policy... that goes into more detail about both when and how to mention views that are at the lower end of the "significance" spectrum. Blueboar (talk) 12:20, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

Our NARTH article[edit]

Here is an article where the actual views of an Association (which are apparently held by our editors to be the "minority view") are completely omitted from the article. This is an article about a professional association, for which there appears to be a PC (Politically Correct) consensus, that this organization is fundamentally "evil". Thus the Wikipedia article on that association clearly reflects the weighted-PC view of that Association and refuses to actually fairly represent the true views of that association. People should not come to Wikipedia to get PC-correct views regurgitated back to them. They should come to Wikipedia to get actual information.

So "Ok, get to the point, what is the name of this organization?" you ask. It is our article on the NARTH association. You can read that article before my last edit which removed a certain false statement here. After reading their Wikipedia article (before my first edit), I was mistakenly misled by the text of that article to believe that NARTH was an organization attempting to categorically claim that homosexuality was always simply a "choice", and a choice that is always "reversible". I believe that such is probably the PC-correct view of NARTH. After actually reading the NARTH position statement on this, it turns out that such is not the case, yet our article erroneously misleads the reader to believe it is. The NARTH position statement clarifies that they believe that more research would have to be done to determine at which point along the "continuum of sexual preferences" that one's sexuality is or is not a truly malleable choice. The fact that NARTH's actual position on this question is in fact somewhat more reasonable than what their implied position was as shown by the article, seems to me to be a disservice to our readers.

As in the Circumcision article, WP policy regarding the mandatory "weighting" of articles had encouraged the editors of this article to actually make an "overly weighted" claim that was essentially false within the article, yet nobody caught it. This was the article's former claim that NARTH policy "disagreed" with APA policy regarding whether or not homosexuality was a "disorder". I have since deleted this false statement from the NARTH Wikipedia article. We will see how loudly the PC-correct editors over there clamor to reinsert it, based on their guidance from a WP policy that requires the proper "weighting" of all articles. I can almost guarantee you that if I put in the actual NARTH position over there, and the editors over there were left on their own, within three months, that view would be deleted by zealous editors duly "re-weighting" that article in favor of the PC-weighted majority view. Scott P. (talk) 16:15, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Note: Actually, it didn't take 3 months. The false statement was just re-inserted into the article by an editor who was obviously diligently following Wikipedia "article weighting policy" to the letter. Shame on the editor who would have the audacity to defy the PC-weighted view! This time, unlike in the circumcision article, I'm not going to waste 2 days of my time just to get an article to be honest. Policy needs to change, not individuals trying to make Wikipedia honest with a conflicted policy in place that doesn't back them up. Scott P. (talk) 17:36, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

"Conflicted policy?" you ask... Why does a policy section that is supposedly about "neutrality" strongly advise that all articles must be properly "weighted"? Isn't the word "weighted" implying "favoring one side"? So, a truly neutral article must favor one side? What is this, some kind of fancy-schmantzy double-speak designed to confuse newbies, and to give supposedly seasoned veterans who can "understand" double-speak some kind of upper-hand? This terminology makes no sense to me. Why can't neutral simply be neutral, and not "favoring one side"? I'm sure someone will say to me, "You don't have the proper understanding." I say, if you want a slanted article, why not use the word "slanted," not "weighted"? What is the difference? Scott P. (talk) 18:47, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Because giving the same weight to a minority view as we do to the majority view isn't actually neutral. Doing so would actually favor the minority view.
Let me ask - do you really think we should spend half of our Earth article discussing the views of the Flat earth society? Should we really spend half of our article on Apollo 11 discussing the various Moon landing conspiracy theories? Blueboar (talk) 13:15, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Certainly not. But do you not care about the "false statements" that unrestricted weighting/slanting of articles now seems to be occasionally producing? Can we not rationally discuss where weighting/slanting of articles should start, and where it should stop? How much weight/slant is too much? Wikipedia seemed to work fine for its first 7 years without any requirement for "due weight" on all articles. Then, around 2009 the new concept of "due-weight" was extended from the "undue weight" concept. I haven't looked at what the arguments were back then, and I wasn't aware of the shift at the time, but I am wondering if sufficient consideration was given at the time to what in reality amounted to requiring the weighting/slanting all articles. Once the "due-weight" concept was introduced, not only was it important that minority views not be "over-inlflated" (which makes perfect sense to me). It also began to become more and more important that majority views be sufficiently "inflated". I do not really enjoy having to review the argument from 2009 when the concept of "due-weight" was first introduced here, but I am planning on reviewing it closely. It simply seems rather odd to me that my initial proposal that "noteworthy minority views be treated fairly" was fully "shot down" without anyone offering any explanation of what policy protects the fair treatment of noteworthy minority views. This seems to me to indicate a potential shortcoming in policy that is worthy of a rational discussion (where we attempt to understand one another, not to merely out maneuver one another). Scott P. (talk) 17:14, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for asking[edit]

Scott, explain how you determine whether a minority view is being treated "fairly". Current policy says that a minority viewpoint is being treated "fairly" when the emphasis in the article matches the emphasis found in the reliable sourcing. To me that sounds like a pretty reasonable and encyclopedic approach that should produce good results. What do you find wrong with that part of the NPOV policy (if anything), and what is your alternate proposal? Zad68 17:32, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

I very much appreciate your thoughtful questions Zach and Blueboar. You have pointed up some legitimate considerations. After considering your questions, I have reformulated my proposal. I am proposing that wording that was included in our NPOV policy in 2008 be re-inserted in our NPOV policy now. This wording once read:
Minority views can receive attention on pages specifically devoted to them—Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia. But on such pages, though a view may be described, the article should make appropriate reference to the majority viewpoint wherever relevant, and must not reflect an attempt to rewrite majority-view content strictly from the perspective of the minority view.
This would certainly address my concerns. Certainly in our Earth article, the flat earth view may not even deserve mention (reasonable), but in our Flat-Earth article itself, it does deserve to be fairly laid out, even if this might require exceeding the space that a properly "weighted" explanation would require, no? People do not go to the "Flat Earth" article only to find proof that the Flat Earth theory is wrong. In all likelihood they mostly go there to find out exactly what reasoning could have led people so far astray! Why not let them find that information? They are not a bunch of idiots, easily swayed by any stray theory found blowing in the wind, and we are not the 'keepers of the gates of reason'. We are here to provide well-rounded information for those who seek it, allowing people to think for themselves whenever possible without creating an actual misrepresentation of the truth. Scott P. (talk) 18:13, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Alright so you're saying that you're really concerned about articles dedicated to minority views, correct? The wording you're proposing wouldn't affect anything at Earth but would at Flat Earth?? Zad68 18:45, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Our Flat earth article is written without undue inflation of the majority view. I see it as having been written that way for two reasons:
  1. The topic is not perceived to create any true "threat" to the majority view, thus those who hold the majority view feel no compulsion to slant/inflate/weight that article against its own topic.
  2. Since that topic is endlesslly used as an example in theses policy talk pages, editors of that article are far more careful in that article not to make it seem that the majority view was unduly slanted/inflated/weighted against the minority view.
Certainly that article would be the last place in Wikipedia that we would be likely to find undue slant/ inflation/ weighting. Trying to even have a rational discussion here on this talk page seems to me to be nearly impossible because of the way our Wikipedia neutrality policy has been so hacked to death in the last few years. It has gotten so bad that the "guardian editors" here cannot even think clearly themselves. It is becoming the "cult of Wikipedia" where neutral means slanted, and where "minority view" always means the "ranting fringe view". Thus I am automaticlly treated here as if I was a lunatic fringe editor to be silenced because I am the unfortunate messenger pointing out that "the emperor has no clothes ". I suggest that the words "weight" and "proportion" are "weasle words" which actually mean slant, inflate, and "remove neutrality".
I rationally ask here if there is any policy to prevent "over inflation/slanting/weighting/proportionizing" of the "majority view", and I am treated here as if I were an "enemy of the state". An article like our circumcision article is a perfect candidate to exemplify how our neutrality policy is being gutted before our very eyes. The thinking has gotten so cultish here that in the minds of the "guardians of this page" they read "evil fringe lunatic", each time I attempt to simply ask why a policy like the one I just proposed above was deleted from the NPOV page, and replaced with weasel words like "weight" and "proportionate".
Why does Wikipedia treat the WHO, the largest health organization in the world, as if it were a "fringe group" over at the medical article on circumcision, refusing to even clearly lay out its position? It is because it is supposedly a minority (read fringe) group. Why is the Britannica article on circumcision actually balanced, and ours slanted? It is because we have a double-speak, conflicted, kooky, neutrality policy and Britannica clearly has a more sane and rational neutrality policy, capable of preserving true neutrality in their articles. But apparently nobody here has yet picked up on that or seems to care, and all here merely stand by silently watching, as our neutrality policy, over the years, piece by piece, is actually replaced with a policy which in fact advocates for "bias"!
This discussion has wearied me. OK, I give up then. Isn't the emperor wearing a most splendid robe today? Isn't it so brilliant how the editors over at the Wikipedia NPOV policy now require all editors to "properly balance" all of their articles by "properly weighting" them over to the politically correct side? I used to find it to be such a bore over at Wikipedia to have to read through anything that dared to speak clearly against my stylish PC views. Aren't all of Wikipedia's articles so much more helpful and thought provoking now that their neutrality policy asks them to only clearly present a single well rounded view, which oddly enough, for some strange reason happens to always agree with my own rather wonderful PC view?
Zach, thank you for asking the one reasonable question here and not just repeating the party line, "oh, but then all of the fringer's will deluge us", when I specifically stated in the beginning of this section that this was not focusing on fringe articles in the first place, it was meant to focus on significant minority views that are not true "fringe". We are not even allowed to mention in hushed tones important non-fringe minority views on our NPOV page, as such views do not really exist at all. But that's right, according to our NPOV page, only two types of views exist, PC and fringe. I also think its absolutely stunning how the emperor's tailors can make those tight fitting pants which the emperor seems to like so much, a little more "anatomically correct" each day. Bye. Scott P. (talk) 09:04, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

RfC at WikiProject Film[edit]

There's a discussion that partly concerns this policy at WT:FILM#RfC: Do list items need their own WP article in order to be sourced in list articles?. More input is appreciated. Lapadite (talk) 13:58, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

Is Talk:Hillary Rodham Clinton/April 2015 move request an NPOV violation?[edit]

A proposal has been made at Talk:Hillary Rodham Clinton/April 2015 move request‎ to change the title of the article, Hillary Rodham Clinton to Hillary Clinton. It has now been asserted that this proposal "violates our neutrality policy". Would such a title change be an NPOV violation? bd2412 T 12:04, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

Nope. NPOV should not be an issue in that move request. Blueboar (talk) 13:19, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

Do we consider NPOV issues only within the bounds of what RSes say or the larger picture?[edit]

This is an issue that is coming up at the Gamergate controversy article, but likely applies to a larger number of places, and it would be helpful for input or clarification to avoid excessively repeating arguments.

In a modern topic (post-Internet boom) such as Gamergate, a situation can easily arise where the near-majority of reliable sources present a certain view on a topic. The counterpoint may be briefly mentioned or not even discussed in reliable sources. However, one can go to other sites, unreliable for WP's purposes, where the counterpoints are discussed in more depth, be part of SPS blog posts, etc. That is, as an editor, we know what the RSes say, but we can also be readily aware of what is said beyond the RSes that may be counter to those statements.

Clearly, we can't include non-RSes sources, so these counterpoints cannot be included, or if RSes do cover them, they should be covered in proportion to WEIGHT. But in evaluating when RSes make statements that are not explicitly labelled as opinions, in determining whether to present these statements as facts or as opinions, the question has come up if we as editors should use the knowledge of the unusable sources to help make that evaluation.

In other words, when editing with a focus on neutrality, should we strictly limit ourselves to the views as presented by the RSes only, or should we temper that with what we know the overall situation is?

For the most part, this basically means whether, per "Avoid stating opinions as facts", we simply add attribution to avoid having statement be in WP's voice; the lack of RSes with a counterpoint means we cannot insert the counterclaims, but that's not required simply for switching a factual statement over to an attributed opinion statement. But this can also mean evaluating article structure and approach that might better met with the larger picture that RSes are not fully presenting due to some systematic bias or a lack of information. Obviously, if one does consider the whole picture, one still needs to be aware of the weight of voices there. If it is only one person in the whole world countering the RSes, that's pretty much ignorable.

To me, I would think for an objective work, we should be considering what RSes report within context of the larger picture, even if we cannot document or discuss that larger picture in the article. It avoids us being blind to what else is out there. However, there is disagreement that we can even approach articles in this manner, and it would be helpful for clarification and discussion. --MASEM (t) 20:31, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

  • The GG discussion is here, for reference. Protonk (talk) 20:34, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
  • A rephrasing of my comments there, as they're germane: I feel this is flatly unacceptable as a policy choice. A critical reader cannot verify claims if we never substantiate them in the article, nor can they be expected to weight claims themselves if their inclusion is implicitly determined by editors' hidden information about what is true but not verifiable on a given subject. Our core content policies V and OR exist to prevent this sort of thing. Protonk (talk) 20:40, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
If "a near-majority" of reliable sources present one view, and the countervailing view is discussed in few or no reliable sources, then what’s the remainder?
In point of fact, for months on end we have discussed chimerical suppositions that the overwhelming consensus or even the agreement of numerous reliable sources on this topic should somehow be "balanced" by a proper consideration of some other opinion, apparently based on this editor’s private sources or personal knowledge. The reliable sources on the topic are abundant and superb -- the New Yorker, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, and many others, cited in the article at exhaustive length. The line of reasoning proposed here, which I believe is clearly against policy, has been applied to a variety of topics, including speculations on unspecified sexual improprieties of a named individual.
The underlying theory appears to be that most or all reliable sources are biased against the subject of the article. This is, of course, the very definition of a conspiracy theory. Moreover, if this line of reasoning were endorsed, the defense of the project against fringe science would be completely impossible, since every fringe theory would argue what is argued here -- that the reliable sources unjustly neglect the views espoused. MarkBernstein (talk) 21:33, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
"Verifiability, not truth" seems particularly applicable here.
Quoting the summary statement above: "when editing with a focus on neutrality, should we strictly limit ourselves to the views as presented by the RSes only, or should we temper that with what we know the overall situation is?". While I completely understand why this question would come up in the given context, consensus interpretations of policy seem pretty definitive on the subject (emphasis below is mine):
  • WP:RS: "Wikipedia articles should be based on reliable, published sources, making sure that all majority and significant minority views that have appeared in those sources are covered"
  • WP:V: "In Wikipedia, verifiability means that the people who are reading and editing the encyclopedia can check that the information comes from a reliable source."
  • WP:NOR: "The prohibition against OR means that all material added to articles must be attributable to a reliable published source"
  • WP:NPOV: "Neutrality requires that each article or other page in the mainspace fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint in the published, reliable sources"
In other words, nobody should be modifying a summary of what reliable sources say about a subject simply because of personal knowledge. Or, to put it in the same terms as the section heading: "the bounds of what RSes say" is the larger picture. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 22:45, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Let me be clear that the question is not so much modifying what the RS say, but whether we should phrase it as a fact in WP voice (w/o in-prose attribution but obviously with a source), or state is as an opinion by the source. Specifically in light of NPOV's "Avoid stating opinions as facts." and to some degree "Avoid stating seriously contested assertions as facts." What are the resources that we use to make the determine if something is an opinion, a fact, or a contested assertion? --MASEM (t) 23:20, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
The concept that all editors here must now first carefully poll the RS, and then carefully weight their words here to match the majority view of the RS (read PC view) makes Wikipedia the tame lap-dog of the press magnates. Until 2009, there were no such requirements to edit in Wikipedia. Truth was simply truth, and if only one RS spoke the truth, then we would not have to automatically censor out or slant/weight against that one truthful source, because it failed the lap-dog-poll. If the newer NPOV policy that "neutral/balanced=slanted/weighted to the PC view" is kept in place for another 5 or 10 years, Britannica will probaby be restored to its place as the #1 encyclopedic information source, as Wikipedia editors will eventually be seen to only be regurgitating Fox Network/ NBC Network fluff, and self censoring out all else. Pre-2009 Wikipedia editing used to be more of a process of actual thought processing than mere "Politically Correct" information regurgitation. Scott P. (talk) 01:19, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Isn't "PC view" a bit dated, in these days of iOS and Android? . dave souza, talk
  • As WP:SOURCES makes clear, we weigh quality rather than quantity, and where most coverage is in-universe promotion of fringe views, WP:MNA may be needed to show the mainstream context. . dave souza, talk 10:24, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

Vacuum science[edit]

In Wikipedia truth once actually had what you would now call "weight" here in and of itself. When one hears/ reads truth, there is usually a certain recognition, no matter what its source. Now, current policy actually completely ignores the "weight" of truth itself, in favor of the majority view. If the fringe took over, and gained control of the press, and became the mainstream view, then WP would automatically be forced to censor out, slant/weight against what was once the mainstream view, regardless of whether or not it was true, in favor of the fringe (now mainstream). Doesn't that sound like a lap-dog policy? Ideas no longer can be allowed to stand on their own here, unless they are the single monolithic view of the mainstream. I once had a debate with a Wikipedia editor who supports the new PC-view-only policy. I asked him, what if science were at the stage just before it made the leap of recognizing that interstellar space was not filled with ether, and recognizing that it was primarily vacuum? The ether scientists would be in the mainstream, and the vacuum scientists in the minority. Here is a sample of that dialogue:

"So you believe that it would have been "correct" Wikipedia policy to "censor out the vacuum scientist?" ...... Yes, ..... he would not be covered as anything other than a curiosity. We dont make any effort to predict what is going to turn out to be true and what is going to turn out pure crap, we just follow what the mainstream has agreed."

Thus, the current policy clearly mandates that there are only two views, fringe (pure crap), and PC (supposedly true), and truth itself can at times easily become a casualty of that. The world is all black and white. Mainstream vs: fringe. Us vs: them. And Wikipedia which systematically attacks all that is not mainstream, i.e. fringe, is the world's new arbiter of Truth. It was once better than that. Before 2009, Wikipedia policy once allowed shades of gray. But slowly the policy began to demand more and more weighting/slanting of all articles in favor of mainstream, and against all others. WP's sophomoric witch hunt against the fringe is the new norm. Witch hunts are so much more fun. Before 2009, Wikipedia would have probably been one of the first places to find an article dedicated to the new "Vacuum science". With current policy, now it would be the last. Now Wikipedia neutrality can't even hold a candle to Britannica's neutrality. One day that may blow up in Wikipedia's face. Scott P. (talk) 12:15, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

Note, this section was just "hatted", and I was told to go elsewhere... I have since restored this section. Protonk, please explain to me what logic is faulty in my reasoning rather than deleting me. There is no other place to debate specifically about NPOV policy. Logic and reason should prevail over brute force and censorship in Wikipedia. Scott P. (talk) 13:01, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Because this isn't a blog for your opinions about NPOV. I'm really surprised you haven't been topic banned from this page, given how unproductive the bulk of your commentary here is. Protonk (talk) 13:10, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Perhaps it is because there might be some actual "truth" in what I am talking about? This is not a purely one sided monologue as you claim, questions are being asked and answered. Please don't do this. Scott P. (talk) 13:14, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Don't do what? Look, I don't particularly care if you edit this page all the live long day, but we're trying to have an actual discussion above with some concrete outcomes for editors working on a page. I'm glad that you've moved this section out of there, thanks for that. Protonk (talk) 13:17, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Protonk, Scott P. (talk) 13:19, 2 May 2015 (UTC)