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Should a gossip article be used as a source for someone's birthyear?
Dear Wikipedians, I would like to ask your opinion on this matter. Firstofall, I would like to apologize for my English, it isn't my native language. The age of a certain reality star has been disputed for a couple of years. She herself says in interviews and on twitter that she is born in 1982. However on the page of the show is written that she is born in 1969/1970. The gossip section of the New York Post, page 6, has been used as source. I didn't think that it's a reliable source and used another source, in which she was said to be 31 years old. A Wikipedian undid my edit within 5 minutes, calling the former source, page 6, a highly reputable news source. I tried to agree with him/her to delete the birthyear since it isn't really clear. Unfortunately this person refuses this. You can read the discussion here. Histogenea22 (talk) 15:40, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
I would like to state I did not refuse as it is being accused of me; I simply stated, per quote: "Until more input has been given, we should simply leave it as it is" and "Because, as it is, all of the ladies' birthdates (aside from Renee) could be removed since none of them are cited by a source". And if we're going to call one person's DOB into question, we should question the others, as well. And I merely believed that more than two opinions would be more acceptable, especially given that discussion was barely open for less than twenty-four hours, where other editors could comment and leave their on input. As such, her saying she is "32 years of age" is a dispute in itself; we can all lie about our age. See the pages of Janice Dickinson, whose age has largely been disputed for her entire career, or that of Mariah Carey whose situation is of much more closeness to that of Natalie. livelikemusicmy talk page! 15:54, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
The only question I would like to ask to all of you reading this is: Is this gossip article reliable enough to obelize her year of birth, which she said herself to be 1982? Histogenea22 (talk) 16:44, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
Gossip sources, including Page Six and any affiliate of New York Post, are NOT reliable; they should never be used at all. Snuggums (talk / edits) 19:18, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
Look at the top of your watchlist, in the "Watchlist options" box. Does it say "Show bots"? If so, then you've hidden all articles that were most recently edited by a bot, including RFC pages. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:35, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
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How much control may an RFC originator exert over the discussion? Is it appropriate (or should it be so) to actively prohibit alternatives from being proposed by other users and debated in the same discussion? The RFC guidance is silent on the subject of ownership. —184.108.40.206 (talk) 12:56, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
The best answer is a reasonable amount, subject to analysis on a case by case basis. On particularly complex or contentious issues, the only way to succeed in forming a working consensus to move forward may be to exercise some control, and narrowly focus the RFC on a specific proposal. So for example, if the choice is proposal A, or nothing, we may be able to achieve consensus on proposal A. But if there had been 3 more choices, support may have split between all of them, and there may have been no consensus for anything, despite there being consensus that keeping the status-quo, that the result of lack of consensus will cause, is worse than any of the proposals. So basically, you should respect reasonable amounts of RFC ownership by the creator, try to work with the creator to improve it, but the community can override that ownership if enough people feel its necessary. If the RFC is biased in its wording, or something similar, that can be fixed, and is going to be subject to much less deference to the creator than structural choices. Monty845 13:07, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
By way of example, Wikipedia:Pending changes/Request for Comment 2012 is a good example of how this can work in practice. It was an RFC on one question, out of many contentious issues that pending changes raised. Should we have it turned on at all? When there was a consensus on that one question, 3 followup RFCs, Wikipedia:PC2012/RfC 1, Wikipedia:PC2012/RfC 2, and Wikipedia:PC2012/RfC 3 where launched to implement that initial consensus. If all the issues, from all the RFCs, had been !voted on in the very first one, there is no way consensus on anything would have been reached. But with careful structuring, the community was able to work out a functioning compromise on a very controversial issue. And it worked pretty well given how little drama has happened since. (At least relative to the drama that has historically surrounded Pending Changes). Monty845 13:29, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
Ah, I failed to see the link. ―Mandruss☎ 00:03, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
Discussion of the heading (result: changed)
Comment - It's a good question as stated in your prose. However, the heading is a broader question which I think would be a clear "no". You might wish to re-word the heading to something like "May an RfC's question be modified by discussion?". Or, something more vague that better summarizes the actual question. I'm at a loss there, so absent that I'd just suggest that readers not take the heading literally. ―Mandruss☎ 13:11, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
That's an improvement. ―Mandruss☎ 13:24, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
Writing up a new RfC and posting it in the middle of an ongoing RfC against the wishes of the author of that RfC is, in my considered opinion, disruptive. Anyone is free to post a new RfC that asks any question they choose. Hijacking an existing RfC -- especially after 50 or so people have responded and it becomes clear that the outcome is not going to go your way -- borders on gaming the system. --Guy Macon (talk) 00:01, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
I agree with Guy Macon. If the question changes, then previous respondents are responding to a question other than what was asked. In my opinion, any significant change to the lede of an RFC after it is published is disruptive. An RFC isn't an article. The question isn't one of ownership, but of consistency in what is being asked. If the original question was wrong, a new RFC can be published, and, if necessary, the previous one killed, but not rewritten. It isn't a matter of ownership, but of consistency. Robert McClenon (talk) 00:11, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
@Robert McClenon: What about posing a question after the lead, in the discussion section? Not replacing or changing anything, but adding alternatives. Such is the case that Guy is referring to. —220.127.116.11 (talk) 00:22, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
I don't think this can be answered in the abstract. A lot depends on the specifics of the RFC - what the original question was and what it was attempting to find out. Sometimes raising alternatives will be helpful and move the discussion forward, while at other times raising alternatives will be disruptful and sidetrack the RFC to the point where we never reach consensus on the original question. Blueboar (talk) 11:44, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
This particular RfC concerns "individuals that have no religion". The problem from my point of view is that sources virtually never support a contention that an individual has no religion. Much more commonly sources support that someone is an atheist or an agnostic or something else. From my point of view the RfC in its original conception is malformed, though I suspect 18.104.22.168, as well as others, will differ in their analyses of how the RfC was originally formulated. Bus stop (talk) 12:16, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
Unless you are of the opinion that atheism is a religion (it isn't, for the same reasons that bald is not a hair color, off is not a TV channel, barefoot is not a shoe, silence is not a sound, never is not a date, clear is not a color, and not collecting stamps is not a hobby), then a source that shows that an individual is an atheist shows that the individual has no religion. Do a searh in article space for "Religion: None" (with the quotes) and you will find hundreds of examples. --Guy Macon (talk) 19:57, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
Guy Macon—you ask me if I am "of the opinion that atheism is a religion". I am of the opinion that Sources should directly support the information as it is presented in the Wikipedia article. The emphasis in bold lettering was not added by me. What we find in sources is direct support for someone being an atheist. From that you are deriving that they have no religion. There should be direct support for the assertions Wikipedia makes. Therefore we should say that such a person is an atheist. We should not be making a wider assertion. If the reader wishes to derive that the subject of the biography has no religion they can do so but we should not be making such across-the-board assumptions pertaining to all religions. In particular Christianity is more tied to beliefs than Judaism is. A Jew may say that they are an atheist and powerfully sense Jewish identity. It is potentially problematic to place a statement such as "Religion: None" on many articles on Jews when all that is really supported by sources is that the individual is an atheist. Christianity and Judaism are different religions and one need not conform to the other for Wikipedia purposes. Allow the Wikipedia assertion to conform to that which is directly supported by the source and this problem disappears. If a Jewish person says they have no religion then certainly go right ahead and say that in the body of the article or the Infobox. I think that a Jewish person can be an atheist with less inherent contradiction than a Christian person can be an atheist. I think (I'm not sure) that the reason for this is that to a larger extent Judaism is not predicated on believing in anything. But I am not asking for preferential treatment for Jews. All instances of assertions of this nature should cleave to that which is supported by sources. The notion of having no religion also requires a source and in most cases this is missing. Bus stop (talk) 20:53, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
If, in your opinion, "Atheist" means something other than "the lack of a religion" (you never quite defined what you think it is; is atheism a religion?) then from your perspective my RfC is fundamentally flawed and no reasonable amount of editing can possibly fix it at this late stage. Your only alternative would seem to be to post an RfC that you believe avoids these flaws. You could even seek a consensus for invalidating the previous RfC and see how much support you get. --Guy Macon (talk) 22:56, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
Comment I would like to add a bit of extra context to this discussion. This debate recently came up between myself and the IP that started this RFC regarding a sequence of edits at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Film on the April 14-15 (I can't be bothered to post the diffs but you can see from the history where I 'spar' with the IP). The IP tried to alter the the RFC introduction and I reverted them, namely because the RFC was at an advanced stage and all of the replies had only considered one particular proposal. In short, I believed that altering the lead-in gave the impression that both proposals had been given due consideration, which was inappropriate. This led to the discussion at User_talk:Betty_Logan#MOS:FILM_RFC_reverts. A third opinion felt I had breached policy by altering another editor's talk page comments, so in the end I tried to restructure the RFC to allow for an alternative proposal and make it clear that which proposal the comments in the discussion releated to. The IP seemed to accept this solution (or at least that was the impression I got at the my talk page). I don't really have much interest in debating the merits of RFC ownership, or indeed whether I acted inappropriately by altering the IP's comments (I accept I breached policy and tried to rectify this the best I could without completely derailing the RFC), but hopefully the links I have provided will enable you to understand the IP's position better. Betty Logan (talk) 21:06, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
In the case Betty’s referring to (diffs:  and the discussion on her Talk), I had added a second option beneath her timestamped proposal (but above the survey section), making sure that my addition was itself clearly timestamped and distinct from the original post. I mention this because I feel it’s a critical detail that was left out here, making it sound like I’d altered the original proposal instead. Everything else recalled here is completely accurate, and is another example of what I’m seeking to clarify with this RFC. —22.214.171.124 (talk) 22:22, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
Some modifications are clearly helpful and do not interfere with the process of determining consensus. Examples from my RfC: -- both welcome and helpful. Adding a new RfC in the middle of an existing one or making a change in the description of what it being !voted on after multiple people have supported/opposed the old description (not saying that's what happened here) clearly does interfere with the process of determining consensus. Likewise, my "ground rule" saying not to reply in the support sections. That is clearly helpful, and nobody would have a problem if, upon discovering such a reply, I moved it to the threaded discussion section. --Guy Macon (talk) 22:56, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
At DRN and MEDCOM the person controlling the discussion is a neutral party trying to keep the discussion on track and who has an obligation to insure that no one's position is slighted. They're also invested by policy with authority to do more at one of those venues than an editor has the right to do on an article talk page under the talk page guidelines. Having such rights in a RFC, however, where there's often no neutral party, simply invites someone to manipulate the discussion in favor of their preferred point of view. Some limited control allowing refactoring might be okay, but even that could be easily abused, I'm afraid. I think that it's important to remember that, at the end of the day, RFC is really nothing more than another garden-variety talk page discussion with two exceptions: first, the ability of the requesting editor to frame (hopefully narrowly) the initial point to be discussed and, second, a mechanism to invite the broader community to weigh in. (Just to avoid any internal-copyvio issues, let me note that this is is a slightly reworked and expanded version of a post I made at Betty's talk page].) Regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 14:49, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
As Monty said: The best answer is a reasonable amount, subject to analysis on a case by case basis. RFC initiators have as much (or as little) power and respect as participants give them. If an RFC initiator applies a hidden archive, people could either respect that as constructive, or revert it if it's abusive. If a significant number of participants object to the phrasing or handling of an RFC, that can invalidate the RFC. Sufficient participants can generate valid consensus which totally disregards the original question and disregards attempts at control. If sufficient-participants-to-establish-a-consensus voluntarily abide by RFC-initiator-guidance, everything's probably fine. Alsee (talk) 04:29, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Updating the RfC guidelines to better reflect present usage
While I've not done a detailed statistical count, my impression is that at present RfCs are frequently (most often?) used as vehicles to host community '!votes'. If this is indeed the case, it seems to me it would be wise/pragmatic/kind-to-newbs to adapt the guidelines to better reflect common practice. i.e. To bring de jure more closely in line with de facto. 'Principal-of-least-surprise', etc.
Could be a matter of simply incorporating a few links and/or comments regarding '!votes', initiating a new section to cover the topic more thoroughly, or if feeling adventurous/ambitious revamp the whole page. Thoughts? --Kevjonesin (talk) 15:01, 7 May 2015 (UTC) p.s.— Should we hold a RfC on adapting RfC? It'd be delightfully recursive. <wink> : } --Kevjonesin (talk)
Kevjonesin, just to make sure: You do realize, don't you, that when there's an RFC that's set up to get in "opposes" or "supports" or other short-form responses that it's still not a vote? A proper consensus evaluation closing that RFC must not only take into account the numbers, but first and more importantly, the quality of the arguments made for and against the proposal. Straw polls, on the other hand, can take place via RFC or in the process of an RFC but can never create consensus (though they can help analyze or focus it). It may be worth mentioning here that RFC's can do those things in regard to straw polls, but it needs to be done pretty specifically so as not to suggest that RFC's can be used to determine things by voting and, frankly, I have to wonder if that's just not too fine-pointish to be worth the effort. Best regards (and I like your humor), TransporterMan (TALK) 15:44, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
Hi TransporterMan. Yes, I have some awareness of the official dogma/'wikidealism' surrounding such; hence my use of (and link to) the term "!vote". I'm not sure though how well (whether?) present common practice really coincides with such.
As a 'side note', I came across the origin story for the term "!vote" yesterday while wandering about—and found it somewhat amusing. It would appear that there is some precedence for feelings of Orwellian dissonance regarding these things. : }
"Remember, folks, voting is evil, but !voting is perfectly acceptable. --Deathphoenixʕ 14:15, 9 June 2006 (UTC)"
I'm not proposing anything so radical as officially overturning the underlying dogma that 'we do not vote'. However, I would like to more clearly and explicitly express to those coming to this page for guidance that there are in fact in common practice a variety of procedures involving editors explicitly expressing opinions 'for' and 'against' various proposals—which often carry not-insignificant weight in the process of determining and implementing 'consensus'—which frequently take place under the auspices of a 'request for comments'.
If an archetypical 'reasonable person', previously unfamiliar with Wikipedia lore, were to thoroughly peruse WP:RFC/A for a time and then start making inferences, what might they infer? I'm proposing that we explore ways in which to address such inferences a bit more forthrightly in our guidelines. --Kevjonesin (talk) 01:02, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
One of the problems with officially enshrining this approach is that it would make it happen even more often (which is not necessarily desirable) and that it would fail to highlight the differences between the English Wikipedia and most of the others, where actual votes and usually strict majority rule are typical. (Your comment in an RFC elsewhere is mostly an effort to persuade subsequent people to vote along with you, not to share your views.)