Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/First sentence

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Compromise.. with a new approach[edit]

Offered in the spirit of compromise... please focus on the concept for now... we can argue about exact wording later if people like the concept. What I suggest is that we keep verifiability, not truth... but not in the lede sentence. I am thinking of something along the lines of the following:

Start the policy off with the following paragraph:

The initial threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is Verifiability—whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia is directly supported by a published reliable source. Note, however, that while verifiability is a requirement for inclusion, it is not a guarantee of inclusion. Wikipedia has other policies and guidelines that affect inclusion (especially whether specific material is included in a specific article.)

This focuses the lede completely on Verifiability, without the side issue of truth. Truth/untruth issues can then be dealt with in a separate section... something like:

===Assertions of truth and untruth===

An editor's assertion that something is true is not enough for inclusion in Wikipedia. It does not matter how convinced you are that some bit of information is true, if the material is unverifiable - do not add it. In this context, Wikipedia requires "Verifiability, not truth".

An editor's assertion that something is untrue is also not, on its own, enough to exclude information from Wikipedia. In some cases, Wikipedia must include discussion of ideas, theories, and opinions that are considered untrue in order to maintain a Neutral point of view. Discussion of such material, however, should be phrased as opinions, and attributed to those who hold the opinion. They should not be stated as if they were accepted fact. Also note that not all opinions are given the same weight in an article. Additional guidance on when and how to include or exclude verifiable, but potentially untrue material, can be found at WP:Editing policy, WP:Fringe theories and WP:No original research.

Something like this would allow those of us who find the statement "verifiability, not truth" useful in combating POV pushers and Fanboys to continue to use the phrase... but in its proper context, which I hope will be OK to those who are concerned about Wikilawyers. Blueboar (talk) 21:38, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

  • The idea seems to have potential.—S Marshall T/C 21:49, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
  • 👍 Me likey.--Cerejota (talk) 22:50, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
  • I like. That last paragraph starts wandering into other policies/guidelines and would need work, but that is secondary. North8000 (talk) 23:01, 1 September 2011 (UTC) First sentence of the last paragraph is often per policy true, but as a categorical statement is also sometimes false as a statemetn of policy. I.E. inventing a policy that does not exist. Suggest dropping. North8000 (talk) 02:41, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Works for me. Hans Adler 23:08, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Yes, this approach is a good idea. Thank you, Blueboar. I'd like to see it developed further. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:08, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
  • It's good. It allows editors to keep a WP:Verifiability, not truth link to part of a policy page, and it can be used contradict wikilawyers insisting that (often spurious) verifiability compels inclusion. I know tweaking comes later, but three broad ideas: (1) "Untrue" content: "considered untrue" is too strong for NPOV, it should be something like "not commonly accepted or widely considered untrue". Not everything is as black and white fringe as creationism, and it's gentler to editors who have non-mainstream views on certain subjects. (2) There should also be something for editors wanting to show that a source has made a factual error (for example: birthdates, populations, spellings etc.) and that they should look to WP:RS and WP:RSN when dealing with such contradictions between sources. (3) I suggested this above as an extra sentence for the lede "A reliable source Is one that, according to our policy, is reliably accurate and appropriately authoritative for the content in question." I think something like this would help avoid the problem of people presuming that if a source is RS for one piece of information, it is therefore RS for all information (an abuse of "verifiability"), as well as emphasise to the world how it is we achieve accuracy.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 01:57, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
  • It needs work but it incorporates improvements that have been discussed, which is good. However, it's trying too hard to keep the nonsense phrase "verifiability not truth" in policy, and it shows. The phrase doesn't add anything to this proposed version of the policy and should not be included. If anyone wants to use the phrase in discussions, they can still use the essay link Verifiability, not truth. --Bob K31416 (talk) 02:00, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
  • I like this proposal also.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 06:22, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
  • I like this as well, although I am still a fan of having the first sentence end solely in defining verifiability. A full stop where you have your first dash and a reworking of the subordinate clause into it's own sentence. (see proceeding section).Crazynas t 09:20, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
  • I like this too. I do not entirely agree about the characterization of verifiability; what is verifiable is that this is a significant view of the object - reliable sources are our means for verifying this. I don't think this is a meaningless distinction. Be that as it may, Blueboar obviously put a lot of good thought into this and I think it is very helpful. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:23, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
  • I can live with it, it seems a reasonable compromise. Perhaps, now that we are changing things, "the initial threshold" can be changed to "a fundamental requirement" or something similar? There have been a fair number of complaints over the word "threshold" as well, so perhaps that would make those people happy as well :-) Fram (talk) 13:38, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Oh, please, yes! Can we say "The first criterion"?—S Marshall T/C 14:16, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Agree, but I think that "fundamental requirement" is better/stronger than "first criterion". North8000 (talk) 14:57, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
May I suggest that trying for too many changes at once will make it more difficult to achieve a consensus and compromise. Let's focus on one thing at a time... we can discuss whether to change "threshold" and things like that once we reach a compromise solution as to "not truth". (To be honest... I am surprised no one has objected to my insertion of "initial"... but perhaps that is because I asked us to focus on concept and not wording for now). Blueboar (talk) 15:15, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
I think you're right on all counts. So it does sound a bit awkward......Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 21:39, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment - it needs a small change. As it is currently written, it defines "Verifiability" as being able to find a "reliable source". While this is a major part of Verifiability, it is not the entirety of it. Another alternative for having a reliable source is things that are absolutely well know like "most cats have fur", and even more strongly, things that are just absolute logic, like 2+2 = 4, or more complex, if the US tracked its exports in two separate places, maybe East Coast and West Coast, you could (without violating OR) say Total Exports = East + West. These things are Verifiable, but not through Reliable Sources. (please don't make the argument that maybe some reliable sources would cover these particular examples, these are, after all, just examples). -- Avanu (talk) 13:56, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
That's sort of a different topic that is not currently being debated. In that area, this proposal merely repeats the current wording. North8000 (talk) 14:02, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
You are talking about the "common knowledge" exemption... which isn't really an exemption at all. There are lots of reliable sources to support common knowledge statements like "most cats have fur" and "2+2=4". Such statements are extremely verifiable... in fact, they are so verifiable that we don't actually require them to be verified. (Remember, verifiable is not the same as verified)... and while that last point could probably be made in a clearer way, I agree with North that it is a different issue. One thing at a time. Blueboar (talk) 15:05, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
But the two versions do not say or imply the same thing:
whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source
whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia is directly supported by a published reliable source
You change it from merely being published by a reliable source, to being "directly supported", whatever that means. I think the proposed wording still needs a tweak. -- Avanu (talk) 16:16, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
I took "directly supported" from WP:NOR. The idea I was trying to convey is that we don't simply copy what is published verbatim... we re-write what the sources say in our own words... and point to the sources to support what we write. That said, I have no problem with returning it to "already published" if it would be a stumbling block to consensus. Again... so far, I have been going for acceptable concept, and not worrying about perfect language. Blueboar (talk) 17:12, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
  • And I've filled it in, please feel free to edit it boldly. If we can achieve a version that enough editors like, then we can bring the detailed wording back here or to WT:V in search of consensus.—S Marshall T/C 16:52, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
Sounds like a plan to me. I am actually hopeful that this may break the log jam. S Marshal and I are both very "hard to please" (stubborn?) proponents of the two sides in the debate... and if we are starting to agree, that is a hopeful sign! :>) Blueboar (talk) 17:01, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Good improvement. I do think that we need to change "a published reliable source" to "published reliable sources", as verifiability often involves the whole body of literature that you need to be familiar with in order to correctly interpret what some single source says. Count Iblis (talk) 17:36, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
FYI... I have tried out a bold re-phrasing of my second paragraph (the one dealing with untruth). (see this dif at the draft page)... the major change was to admit that assertions of untruth are more complicated (which they are)... and that there isn't one single way to deal with them. (sometimes our policies do need to say "it depends" rather than "always do this".) Blueboar (talk) 18:11, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Looks good with those changes. I'd like to lose the last paragraph. It is EXTREMELY well written and useful, but is an attempt to summarize policies other than wp:ver. But that is minor; this is fine even with that last paragraph in. North8000 (talk) 18:16, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
  • BTW To be a complete proposal it also has to precisely specify the intended change. Like "Replace the first sentence with (the first box) and add (the second box) after the lead, with it's heading as a top level section heading." North8000 (talk) 18:23, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
  • I continue to like the approach proposed here. I'm not sure at what point we start to move from discussing the overall idea to discussing the specific writing, but it looks like some cats in the herd editors are already well down the road of that discussion, and I think we have enough interest expressed that it's a good idea to discuss the details. I would want the "Assertions of truth and untruth" section to be the first section after the lead. I'd also float the idea of making it the end of the lead, instead of a separate section. Start the lead off with a good, succinct statement of what verifiability is, then go on to cover its relationship with truth: that's still a big change from the status quo. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:16, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
  • I could reasonably happily live with this one. The odd tweak to replace threshold with [insert alternative here], f'rinstance, can wait until a bit later. Pesky (talkstalk!) 20:27, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

updated proposal[edit]

Taking into account many of the comments made so far... my current proposal is as follows:

Change the lede paragraph to:

The initial threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability—whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source. Note, however, that while verifiability is a requirement for inclusion, it is not a guarantee of inclusion. Wikipedia has other policies and guidelines that affect inclusion (especially whether specific material is included in a specific article.)

Add a new section (right after the lede) to deal with the issue of truth/untruth... as follows:

==Assertions of truth and untruth==

An editor's assertion that something is true is not enough for inclusion in Wikipedia. It does not matter how convinced you are that some bit of information is true; if the material is unverifiable, do not add it. In this context, Wikipedia requires "verifiability, not truth"'.

Assertions of untruth (ie an editor's assertion that some bit of information is untrue) are a more complicated issue. If the dubious information is not supported by a source, it should be challenged; but the question of whether to tag the information as needing a citation or to remove it immediately it depends on the nature of the information (see: WP:Burden, below). If the dubious information is supported by a reliable source, the problem should be discussed on the article talk page, with reference to policy concepts such as maintaining a neutral point of view (and especially the sub-concept of due weight). In many situations, a simple rewording to present the information as an opinion rather than as an accepted fact can resolve issues of verifiable but potentially untrue information.

Again, we can tweak the exact wording (and argue about things like "threshold vs. criteria" etc.) later, but I now formally propose something close to this (and I will add it to the proposals list on the main WP:Verifiability/First sentence page). Blueboar (talk) 13:22, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

  • Support as updated But, Blueboar, it's going to get lost in the crowd on that hidden poll page. Plus no change is ever going to occur just based on that page. Should we noodle on it here / build consensus that it is THE compromise proposed change, and then discuss the next step? North8000 (talk) 13:31, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
OK, you did it already. But suggest we also noodle on it here / build consensus that it is THE compromise proposed change, and then discuss the next big step. North8000 (talk) 14:01, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
  • There is a significant problem with these proposals that people may not be aware of. Please see the discussion at Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/Draft. When you go there you will see that I wholeheartedly agree with Blueboar's first message there and that these proposals are inconsistent with the good points made in that message by Blueboar. --Bob K31416 (talk) 16:52, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Well, I think Blueboar's proposals show a thoughtful effort to address diverse concerns. My understanding is that the slogan has always been shorthand for "inclusion or exclusion of material in Wikipedia will not be bnased on whether they are true or false (because people cannot reach a consensus as to how to prove this) but instead will be based on whether or not we can verify that a significant group of people hold the view in querstion (because people can reach a consensus as to how to prove this)." I think the questions have always been (1) how best to explain this and (2) where is the appropriate place to explain this - or appropriate places. It used to be explained at NPOV. I peresonally think some of it should be explained at V and some should be explained at NOT. But I think most people are settled that it should be explained at V. That leaves the first question, and Blueboar is making valuable contributions. Slrubenstein | Talk 11:19, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
(Thanks for the kind words, SLR... I do try. But let's not make this about the editors... let's focus on the proposals. I have no problem with someone pointing out that I am being inconsistent (I often am... especially on issue where I have sympathy with both sides of the debate), or saying they think my proposal goes too far, if that is what they think. Criticism is good... It gives me something to work with as we continue to work towards compromise.) Blueboar (talk) 12:46, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Of course you are right (but ... I did begin my comment by referring to the proposal, rather than you). Based on North 8000's comment in the thread currently at the bottom of the page (to which I just replied) I do think that the policy (if not the first line) perhaps needs clarification but I would like to know what you think - you can comment on the thread at the bottom (responses to the "truthiness" proposal) unless you want me to move it up here ... I am not making a specific proposal (except perhaps my expanded version of the slogan) but the point I think is: if a view is verifiably significant, as evidenced by reliable sources, then it cannot be excluded from an article just because one or more editors consider the view to be false (if needed, I try to explain this more fully in the thread below. I honestly thought it was obvious, but if you think I am wrong about that ... well, feel free to comment on my perception!) Slrubenstein | Talk 17:48, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

A variation on Blueboar's proposal[edit]

Since we're just discussing things here, I'd like to float a variation on the idea. I'm thinking, specifically, of some of the objections in the poll, that: (1) it's seen as too long, and (2) there are disagreements about the last paragraph (which strike me as the kinds of things where proposals can get sidetracked by the details). I'm also anticipating that there will be editors in the larger community who will still insist on seeing the words "not truth" somewhere in the lead.

So I'm suggesting not proposing a section about "Assertions of truth and untruth", although eventually a section expanding on the idea could still be a good thing. Instead, I propose this, all in the lead:

The initial threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability—whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source. While verifiability is a requirement for inclusion, it is not a guarantee of inclusion. Wikipedia has other policies and guidelines that affect inclusion (especially whether specific material is included in a specific article).

An editor's assertion that something is true is not enough for inclusion in Wikipedia. It does not matter how convinced you are that some bit of information is true; if the material is unverifiable, do not add it. In this context, Wikipedia requires "verifiability, not truth".

--Tryptofish (talk) 18:36, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

I could certainly live with it... but I am concerned that (like the current language) it ignores the issue of what to do about verifiable, but potentially untrue material (and that, I think, is the elephant in the room and the issue that underlies this endless debate.) Blueboar (talk) 19:12, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
WP:V talks about that. Something might simply be untrue because of the way it is presented or phrased. Saying "All Cats Have Fur" is probably untrue. But saying, "According to Bob Roberts, PhD in Cats, 'all cats have fur'" makes this a true statement. What Bob said is still open to being false, but Wikipedia's presentation of it is true. -- Avanu (talk) 19:23, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. No argument here. But I'm just thinking about what has the best chance of consensus, and perhaps it's better to leave that issue for the next round of discussion. (Maybe this is Bob K's issue that I didn't understand before, but I'm starting to agree.) --Tryptofish (talk) 19:19, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Hmmm... I am not sure if we could get a consensus if we continue to ignore the elephant. That elephant is essentially the reason why people are calling for "not truth" to be cut. But perhaps it could be addressed with just one sentence as follows:

The initial threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability—whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source. While verifiability is a requirement for inclusion, it is not a guarantee of inclusion. Wikipedia has other policies and guidelines that affect inclusion (especially whether specific material is included in a specific article).

An editor's assertion that something is true is not enough for inclusion in Wikipedia. It does not matter how convinced you are that some bit of information is true; if the material is unverifiable, do not add it. In this context, Wikipedia requires "verifiability, not truth". For guidance on the inclusion or exclusion of verifiable but potentially untrue material, see WP:NPOV (and especially WP:UNDUE).

Just a thought. Blueboar (talk) 21:11, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

That wording seems fine to me. -- Avanu (talk) 21:13, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that's fine with me too. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:28, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Leaving "not truth" in the lede is not in any sense a compromise. The proposed version is the status quo, in only slightly different language, and it fixes little. The compromise that was gaining consensus was to leave it in the policy but put it in a separate section where its meaning and context could be explained. And Blueboar is quite right about the elephant in the room.—S Marshall T/C 23:04, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
I hope that editors in this talk will think carefully about the significance of S Marshall's comment. If anything ever comes out of this page, and is put in front of the entire community, there will be various impediments to acceptance. These impediments include not only those editors who are opposed to any change to the policy, and there are many of those, and not only the tendency of Wikipedian culture to reject any change, but also the fact that a few of the strongest advocates for change are going to oppose anything that doesn't kill "not truth" by driving a stake through its heart (and perhaps will oppose anything that might achieve consensus, because then there would no longer be something to discuss endlessly). I have given up on trying to convince the latter group, not least because there are so few of them (however vocal they may be here), but I hope that other editors will realize that catering to that group will mean nothing will get community consensus. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:38, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Irrespective of whether I'm a bizarre character who enjoys keeping this talkpage locked in eternal discussion for my own perverse amusement, I don't see a consensus forming in favour of this idea anyway. We should, perhaps, return to Blueboar's version.—S Marshall T/C 19:24, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
There's no hurry, and I think you are the only one who is really objecting. Blueboar's proposal was made in the spirit that it is subject to revision, and the most recent iteration was actually proposed by Blueboar, with a sentence to address that "elephant in the room". --Tryptofish (talk) 19:32, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
S Marshal... Do you actually object to tryptofish's revision (with my added sentence)... or do you simply prefer my original version more than his version? If the latter, then I actually agree with you... I don't object to trypto's version, but I prefer mine. (of course my actual preference is staus quo... but I accept that others object to it) Blueboar (talk) 14:19, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
(And I, in turn, do not object to Blueboar's earlier version, although it's actually farther from the status quo. Either way, there's a bit of word-tweaking that still needs to be done.) --Tryptofish (talk) 15:11, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
I see it as virtually no advance over the status quo. From my point of view, it's a token gesture rather than a change.—S Marshall T/C 15:54, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
But the exact same wording if moved out of the lede and into to a section immediately below the lede would be acceptable? Blueboar (talk) 20:38, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
I very much want to hear an answer to Blueboar's question, too. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:57, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

Wait, is this yet another proposal to remove the phrase "verifiability, not truth" from the opening sentence? The same proposal that fails month after month to gain consensus? Jayjg (talk) 01:45, 11 September 2011 (UTC)

Yup, and it's a lot milder than most of the rest that has been discussed. Editors who live on this talk page had better be prepared to hear a LOT more editors who agree with Jayjg if and when anything gets placed in front of the larger community! --Tryptofish (talk) 21:46, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
And I'm still interested in an answer to Blueboar's question. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:49, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
I think we're all aware that there's a significant gap between "not in any sense a compromise" and "not in any sense a compromise that is acceptable to S Marshall". WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:14, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
Then we shouldn't get sidetracked by that. --Tryptofish (talk) 16:37, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

Threshold and Verifiability[edit]

"The initial threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is Verifiability" Since this page is primarily about Verification, rather than the threshold for inclusion. I'd like to see the sentence order changed to reflect this. Something like:

  • "Verifiability allows material in Wikipedia to be checked against reliable sources. It is one of the five main criteria (see Five Pillars, right) that allows us to assess whether material may be suitable for inclusion in Wikipedia. --Iantresman (talk) 11:56, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

Clarity, please[edit]

Blueboar’s belated reply to S Marshall’s comment at 11:29 on 5 September above jarred me enough to revisit the issue.

First, S Marshall was and remains justified in questioning the utility of forking this discussion, and then facing the distinct prospect that should a consensus be reached on this page, it may well have to be re-argued on another page. That’s just absurd, and nothing that’s been written here since 5 September changes the prospect of all comment here coming to naught exactly that way.

Secondly, the conception that adding administrative difficulty to discussion enhances the prospect of a wider community consensus is risible. Not only is a consensus reached here (and/or in WT:V) reflective only of the opinions of a miniscule proportion of editors (those who knew about the debate and showed up), the longer the debate is forked, the more likely it is that the same or similar discussions elsewhere will diverge and guarantee an eventual disagreement if and when it is decided this sub-page is no longer needed, and when editors who monitored only WT:V, but are suddenly confronted with a ‘consensus’ fait accompli, decide to take umbrage.

Does anyone here have any clear idea about the following -

If there is clarity about these questions that I missed somewhere along the way, would someone be so kind as to point me to it, or to summarise that clarity, and, perhaps, include it in a statement plainly visible as a header to this page. I am personally convinced that not to do so functionally obfuscates the debate, even if only by silent collaboration, and serves to mislead any latecomers (the notice in the header of Wikipedia_talk:Verifiability notwithstanding).

I suggest to you all that if we aren’t crystal about the answers to these questions we are all just pissing in the wind. While debates like this one might be edifying in themselves, conducting them just for their own sakes appears crushingly pointless. Regards, Peter S Strempel | Talk 05:12, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

We do not, indeed, have any clear definition of when to call something a consensus. That does, indeed, lead to messy and unstable discussions. But it is also intentional. "Closing discussions for good" is not seen as a high priority aim on WP, if it is an aim at all. --Andrew Lancaster (talk) 09:43, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
I agree. The discussions on "not truth" have been going on for months now, and while it is true that a small number of editors have been participating throughout the all of the discussions, I have toreject the notion that there has not been sufficient community involvement. Certainly the community has had the chance for involvement, and the core issue of inclusion or rejection of "not truth" was also brought up in May at the pump. The topic comes up here regularly, but over the summer the issue completely dominated the talk page, and many of us argued for taking a break from the topic to clear our heads (myself, I've taken two rather long breaks, as I lack the stamina of others), but I do not recall anyone advocating closing discussions for good. The fork of the discussion is messy, but arguably as a result of the fork, the main talk page is now being used for other discussions, and I think that's a good thing. The polls seems to be showing progress towards consensus, esp. Blueboar's compromise, and that's also a good thing. So with all of that being said, and with links to the subpage on both main project page and the main talk page, I think we're moving forward pretty well. And I'm pretty certain the topic will come up again, sooner or later, but hopefully it will take the more usual form of an afternoon thunderstorm that clears the air rather than the monsoon season we've been living with. --Nuujinn (talk) 10:21, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
So, is the answer here that the first sentence sub-page is to be a permanent fixture? Peter S Strempel | Talk 10:40, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
No one can know I think.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 11:13, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't think that full structural clarity is possible from such a complex situation. My own concerns are that the actual main proposal (Blueboar's) is kind of "lost in the crowd", has little process in place to tweak it, and really needs to presented as such and with brief a rationale in order to not have a "false start", and that putting something in place to cover those things would be a good thing. The pair of pages (article-ish type page like the poll page paired with a talk page is something which all huge discussions need but which the Wikipedia structure fails to provide. (I think someone needed to do the chutzpa move of putting that page in mainspace and have it survive in order to do this, the "/" being a part of the article title rather than a sub-article indicater.) I think it's working. Having several calmer more in-depth conversations going on at once vs. just trading and parrying talking points on a single "main stage" helps. Answering the big question, I think that these sub pages must be considered to be equal to the main talk page; that was a part of the arrangement that brought them into being. And the fact that many folks with strong feelings from both side seem to be coming together gives it additional weight. Setting aside the inevitable that some folks will say that a view opposed to theirs needs a consensus 10 times huger than a view aligned with theirs, and that anyone who hasn't participated (the "silent majority") holds their opinion etc., I think that something garnering more input that what just one question in a big list gets will inevitably be needed and we should make sure that we somehow do that. North8000 (talk) 11:29, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Guess I was taking this far too seriously. Wait ... can you hear that? David Byrne crooning somewhere in the distance 'we're on the road to nowhere ...'. Peter S Strempel | Talk 13:37, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Making WP is more like making a road than using a road. :) --Andrew Lancaster (talk) 14:26, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Having a local consensus (especially one involving lots and lots of people) is indication that a community wide consensus is possible and even likely... but as anyone who was involved in the WP:Attribution discussions and debates can tell you, it doesn't guarantee a community wide consensus. We could spend months on this and still have the wider community reject it. However... I think there is a good chance that if we reach local consensus among ourselves, the wider community will follow suit. It's worth a shot anyway. Blueboar (talk) 15:04, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Agree. Developing a rationale at the same time to explain would also be good. North8000 (talk) 15:58, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes... If we assume that we will have to run an RfC (at WT:V) on our finalized consensus language (and I think that likely), we definitely should present it as a package, with a well crafted explanation of a) what the concerns with the current language are, b) a pointer to the discussions on this page, and c) an explanation of how and why we (the group forming the local consensus) think the proposed language resolves those concerns.
In fact, now might be a good time to focus on crafting an initial (conceptual) draft of part A of this this explanation... working on a common explanation as to why a change is desired will probably help us reach consensus on the language that will resolve the problem. (this assumes, of course, that we can agree on why the change is desired.) Blueboar (talk) 16:28, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
I would hope that part A would be very simple to draft. I think the various positions people are taking on this page are well understood.—S Marshall T/C 16:48, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
(later) I forgot to add that I agree that Blueboar's compromise appears to be the way forward and I'm anxious that it doesn't run out of steam.—S Marshall T/C 16:50, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────As best I understand it, developing an explanation would be helpful. Developing a proposal, however, is mandatory. I, too, think we are moving in the direction of proposing Blueboar's idea, but I don't think we have yet gotten the exact wording pinned down. There's no deadline for doing that, except that it has to be before bringing it to the larger community, not after. The best shot at getting anything accomplished will be to present the community with a binary choice: either adopt a proposal for new wording, or retain the staus quo. When we feel ready to put something in front of the community (and I warn that the general culture resists any change!), it should be an RfC at WT:V and be listed at WP:CENT. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:30, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

So are you saying we should next move to working on Blueboar's proposal as a sort of draft?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 19:15, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Didn't know about that one. Now I'm getting really confused.
FWIW, I think that S Marshall is correct that keeping up the momentum would be a good thing, and an RFC seems also a good idea. Certainly beginning work in that direction seems appropriate at this time. --Nuujinn (talk) 19:20, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

How about this Let's pick a place and method for doing tweaks on Blueboar's proposal. We don't want this process to throw everything up for grabs, so let's note that Blueboar's proposal has received a lot of support as-is in the context of how it was presented. Which basically means for it's approach and general wording in the debated areas. So proposed changes should not go against that. Let's also pick a place to develop a rationale. Maybe someone who has a good understanding of the issues from both sides could create a first draft. Sound good? North8000 (talk) 19:43, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

I think so.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 20:35, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps we should archive most of the polls on this page (ie, the page where this is the talk page), and re-focus it on what is now the leading proposal. (I think the /Draft page that most of us have not really been following is a bit fallow now.) --Tryptofish (talk) 20:40, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Sounds good. North8000 (talk) 21:40, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
good to me too. Blueboar (talk) 21:41, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Lead on. Well, Mr Lancaster, I must be getting old, with unreliable hearing. It wasn't David Byrne and Road to Nowhere. It was Sam Cooke and Working on a Chaingang. Peter S Strempel | Talk 22:39, 8 September 2011 (UTC) two sections, one to consider tweaks to Blueboar's proposal, one to develop a rationale (presumably on a slightly slower track) On the tweak one, post something to the effect of my comment: "We don't want this process to throw everything up for grabs, so let's note that Blueboar's proposal has received a lot of support as-is in the context of how it was presented. Which basically means for it's approach and general wording in the debated areas. So proposed changes should not go against that." The rationale section can be just brainstorming /discussing for now, but would eventually lead to either a draft to work on or else an editable workspace to develop one in. North8000 (talk) 00:02, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
There are a number of suggestions for tweaks in the poll page reaction to Blueboar's compromise. Some might be reasonably uncontroversial.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 07:32, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Blueboar's proposal definitely seems to be the one we should be running with :o) (Well done, Blueboar! Have a hug! (<**)> ). Let's get it accepted as a broad direction-pointer to the way we should be moving forwards, and then discuss any minor tweaks (like substituting 'requirement' in for 'threshold', or whatever else we can agree on). It's so refreshing to have something where we actually seem to be taking some steps in a positive direction as opposed to chasing each others' tails round and round in endless circles :o) Pesky (talkstalk!) 10:32, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

I think we're all agreed, now we have to do it. I can set the structure up there for the work unless someone else prefers to. North8000 (talk) 12:13, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Again... If we are going to go with my proposal as the way forward (and I agree we should)... then let's clear the decks of everything else, so people don't get confused with other proposals and can focus on the task at hand. I suggest that the threads on this page that are not related to my proposal (or those derived from it) be sent to archives. Then we can structure a focused discussion. (I would do this myself...However, since it is my proposal we are talking about, I think someone else should do it. Avoids the COI.) Blueboar (talk) 13:10, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
I think we're all agreed but haven't clarified the details Are you talking about the page that has the polls / proposals on it or this page....I think that the former is better place for it and easier to keep clear as you describe. And I'd be happy to do it once we're clear on what we want to do. North8000 (talk) 14:13, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Specifically, here's what I propose to do: Mark everything currently at Wikipedia:Verifiability/First sentence as closed, without trying to define the results. Then put a framework in there per my "details" post, a few posts back. North8000 (talk) 15:27, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
I was actually thinking in terms of clearing the decks and archiving on this page... so that we focused discussion on the proposal. Essentially to tell everyone... ok, we agree that my proposal is the direction we want ot go (at least conceptually)... so let's put other ideas aside (at least for now) and continue from this base line. Blueboar (talk) 18:24, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
I agree about marking as closed and not trying to define the results. I'd also suggest creating Wikipedia:Verifiability/First sentence/Archive 1, and moving all of the closed stuff there. In addition, per Blueboar's most recent comment, make Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/First sentence/Archive 1, and start new talk here. About the talk about minor tweaks, I'd like to request that we include discussion of the variation that I proposed, even if the discussion goes against it. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:31, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
That's another bigger idea. Maybe I'll do my idea as a smaller step which can lead to that. (?) North8000 (talk) 21:54, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
OK, as baby step #1 I'll start framing out the new work areas at Wikipedia:Verifiability/First sentence. It could get moved if desired. North8000 (talk) 23:03, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Done. Please start contributing to the main proposal and its rationale there at the end of Wikipedia:Verifiability/First sentence We can move it or whatever if desired, this was just to get it goings. North8000 (talk) 23:35, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
I hatted the poll question ss " to see valuable poll results". That's as far as I plan to go structurally. If folks want to go further or change what I did, feel free. Just trying to do something pretty "safe" / make a framework to keep it rolling. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 00:05, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Just noting that both of those archives now exist. --Tryptofish (talk) 16:46, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

Whether editors think it is true[edit]

I'd like to deal with the problem in this phrase: "not whether editors think it is true".

The problem is this: We all agree that inclusion requires verifiability.

We also all agree that non-inclusion (on the grounds of non-verifiability, rather than FRINGE, COPYVIO, etc) is not merely about what editors think or believe is true. Non-inclusion on grounds of non-verifiability applies to all non-verifiable material, including material that the editors know to be true, can prove beyond reasonable doubt to be true, is universally agreed to be true, etc.

When we restrict this non-inclusion (due to non-verifability) to only "whether editors think it is true", we imply that if you are absolutely certain something is true, then this non-inclusion-due-to-non-verifiability issue doesn't apply to your Indisputably True™ material.

If we're going to keep this, perhaps we should try something more inclusive, like "not whether editors say it is true". WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:48, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

There is compound ambiguity in the meaning of the first sentence.  Thus, kinds of WP:"not truth" include both crackpot theories, and genuinely useful material.  Your proposal only focuses on the scope of what is ignored as being crackpot theories, but Blueboar's 3 September proposal IMO has clear language not only for the change that you want, but also for explaining why Wikipedia also rejects genuinely useful material that is not sourced.  Blueboar's 3 September proposal reads, "An editor's assertion that something is true is not enough for inclusion in Wikipedia. It does not matter how convinced you are that some bit of information is true; if the material is unverifiable, do not add it. In this context, Wikipedia requires 'verifiability, not truth'."  Unscintillating (talk) 03:09, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
I also agree that Blueboar's proposal is good in this area. But I think that it is useful to address WhatamIdoing's comments. I do believe that they represent some commonly held logical flaws. First, the operative statement of wp:ver is simple: Verifiabiliity is A requirement for inclusion. If it's not verifiable, it's out, if it is verifiable, then it still has to run the gauntlet of other policy criteria (e.g. can't be a copy vio) and non-policy criteria (e.g. do editors feel that it's good use of space in article?)to get in or stay in. Second, from a pure operative wording standpoint, anything that follows the word "not" is irrelevant. But what the current wording is it is trying to say (badly in my opinion) is that meeting any other criteria is not a substitute for meeting the verifiability, and it gives one example (belief that it is true) of something that is not a substitute. You could also write 100 more things after "not" and it would have no effect on the (problematic, prone-to-misreading) correctness of the current sentence. North8000 (talk) 11:38, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
Are we back to discussing my proposal and ways to improve it?... I have not said much recently because the discussion keeps drifting off into metaphysical considerations ... its sort of like watching a group of medieval theologians debating the issue of "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin" - complete with side arguments over whether the terms "angels", "dance" and "pin" are correct or not. All very interesting, but ultimately not very productive. Blueboar (talk) 12:41, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
I sure hope so. The metaphysical stuff is very unhelpful. And not even interesting. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:02, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
I think the answer was 42? Yes, I think we have gotten off track. One of the aims I thought had been agreed upon was getting the metaphysics out of the lead. I don't think we want to have editors using WP:V when arguing about the differences between concepts like being provable beyond a reasonable doubt, being fringe etc. Verifiability is supposed, I think, to be a simple practical requirement that everyone will can understand the same way, which is neither the opposite of truth, or a euphemism for truth.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 12:59, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
I might add that I recently responded to a question here with the quote, "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability...—whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source ..." . I used "..." to keep the "not truth" parts from mucking things up. It would be nicer if those parts weren't in the first sentence, and the "not truth" ideas were moved to the second paragraph, preferably without the nonsensical slogan "verifiability, not truth".
The sentence that could be used in the second paragraph would be, "An editor’s claim or reasoning that material is true, is not a sufficient reason for inclusion in Wikipedia." --Bob K31416 (talk) 13:54, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
Answering Blueboar, I was thinking of this as dealing with an important core logical issue, but not concrete work on your proposal. On the latter, I think it's time for people to propose any specific changes to it (within the framework which recognizes what it has already come through), make any changes that have a consensus, finish off the rationale, and then go to rfc. No rush, but I think time to move concretely forward. Like maybe wrap the above up and be ready for an RFC in 2 weeks? North8000 (talk) 15:21, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
With this in mind, I plan to move the to-date discussion part of the development section to this page and then say that now's the time to propose specific changes to Blueboar's proposal, and then determine if any have a consensus. If anyone objects feel free to revert me. North8000 (talk) 15:32, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
So what do we do? Just to remember where we are, what is being proposed here by Tryptofish is slightly different from Blueboar's compromise because it compresses it, removing a section break and a new paragraph. I think many of us here are reasonable comfortable with that (of the two version immediately above I believe Pesky's is slightly better, but I prefer North8000's "Verifiability is a requirement for inclusion, not a reason for inclusion" to be in there somewhere) but no one seems to want to discuss it. Looking at the new sections below, which no longer seem to be so "down to business" I fear everyone is starting to think "this is all going to be vetoed anyway"?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 12:41, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
Shouldn't one of the two (or both) proposals above be on the project page for comment? They appear to be the latest proposals, but they have had very little feedback.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 16:04, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
I think so, but we were in a "needle in the haystack" / "wheat for the chaff" situation with such a mixture of proposals, brain storming, runnign things up the flagpole and discussion. My suggestion: take any serious finalized proposed changes to Bluebaor's proposal, and put them on the project page. North8000 (talk) 16:11, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
North, I agree with Andrew and respectfully disagree with you. I'm about to partially, but not entirely, revert you. I'll leave some discussion where you moved it here, but I'm going to restore some of the most recent discussion to where it was. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:45, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm totally cool with that, as indicated in my edit summaries for the moves. . North8000 (talk) 20:46, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks! --Tryptofish (talk) 21:13, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────@ Blueboar - have a huge hug! (>**)> for "complete with side arguments over whether the terms "angels", "dance" and "pin" are correct or not"! That absolutely lifted my mood so beautifully - made my morning have a great start. :D Pesky (talkstalk!) 04:53, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

Re Andrew's comment, "I fear everyone is starting to think 'this is all going to be vetoed anyway'? - As it stands, SlimVirgin is opposed to moving "verifiability, not truth" from the first sentence, based on Blueboar's previous discussion on her talk page.[1] From previous experience, if SlimVirgin is opposed to a proposal, it won't be accepted. It might help if you tried to narrow the gap by discussing it with her here. --Bob K31416 (talk) 20:06, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
I fear that a few editors here are sticking their fingers into their ears and saying it's almost ready to go to RfC. I don't care that much about changing anything, and have pretty much decided that I'm not going to waste my time repeating myself to people who aren't listening. But if there's anyone out there who actually cares about changing the "not truth" wording and wants to see a proposal for change actually pass, you'd better step up and work to make something that will be passed. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:30, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Some of us still remember Blueboar coining the phrase "the elephant in the room".  My recollection is that that was a response to a Tryptofish proposal that gutted Blueboar's original proposal.  If S Marshall is willing to offer guidance, I suggest that it be given full attention.  Thanks, Unscintillating (talk) 23:52, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Gutting elephants, what a horrid mental image! I got involved here as someone who wanted to try to help reach a compromise that the community might not gut when it gets put to an RfC. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:17, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

9/9/11 - 9/20/11 Discussions on proposed changes to and discussions about main proposal[edit]

A variation[edit]

WT:Verifiability/First sentence#A variation on Blueboar's proposal. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:32, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

I strongly believe that the last version within that thread will have a much better chance of being accepted by the larger community – and don't kid yourselves, there is a strong likelihood of resistance to any change. There really doesn't seem to be substantive argument against it, so far. Please note that the now-hatted poll, above, elicited complaints about length generally, and about the long last paragraph of the longer version. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:03, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
The initial threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability—whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source. While verifiability is a requirement for inclusion, it is not a guarantee of inclusion. Wikipedia has other policies and guidelines that affect inclusion (especially whether specific material is included in a specific article).

An editor's assertion that something is true is not enough for inclusion in Wikipedia. It does not matter how convinced you are that some bit of information is true; if the material is unverifiable, do not add it. In this context, Wikipedia requires "verifiability, not truth". For guidance on the inclusion or exclusion of verifiable but potentially untrue material, see WP:NPOV (and especially WP:UNDUE).

That's the text, all in the lead, without a separate section about truth. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:09, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

Recent changes[edit]

There have recently been some changes to the wording of the existing policy page. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:35, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Are some relevant here? If so, could you clarify the nature and relevance of them? Thanks. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 00:00, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
I oppose the recent changes.  The first sentence is marked "under discussion" and IMO is not a good spot in the encyclopedia to be making changes right now.  Unscintillating (talk) 13:01, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
It's hard to follow, but it looks like the main change was adding the word "information". I think I like the old way better too, but this is probably not the place to discuss it.North8000 (talk) 13:12, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, I wrote that in haste yesterday. Yes, it's hard to follow, but there's more than that. Here's a combined diff: [2]. I haven't thought about the changes very much, and probably don't much care. But Blueboar's draft pre-dates those changes, and I think we should consider whether any of the changes should or should not be included in what we propose. (And if there is consensus against those changes, they should be reverted.) --Tryptofish (talk) 23:14, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
[3]. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:32, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
[4]. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:17, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
I've requested that a new section be opened on this page to discuss that issue (along with any other first-sentence issue), in case the proposals here need to take it into account. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 17:41, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

The word initial (and the word threshold)[edit]

Feel free to re-factor, but in order to avoid more discussion about protocol I will start a ball rolling. I support Blueboar's basic idea but the addition of the word "initial" seems wrong to me. I think that someone recently also suggested the word "primary", and it did not have much support. (If someone can find the diff to that discussion please do.) I think initial is worse than primary because it implies we are writing rules about a literal chronology of events that must occur as steps in editing. More simply: why do we need to add a word here? Perhaps it is an effort to improve upon that oft-queried word "threshold"? But if that is the problem, let's talk about alternatives to the word threshold (or "the" threshold)? I am one of those who thinks the policy would be clearer starting with plainer English, and more logically correct, "A requirement of Wikipedia...". OTOH, maybe this would be biting off more than we can chew for now, and we should just leave the first few words as they currently are?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 07:30, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

If OTOH we need to put an adjective here, perhaps the vaguer word "basic" would be better.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 07:41, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
I think that "One requirement..." would work well. An alternative might be "The fundamental requirement...." if we wish to emphasize that verifiability is more important than other requirements, but to my way of thinking, requirements are equal. But if other editors have problems with changing the text, I would suggest we leave it as it is now and not get bogged down discussing it.--Nuujinn (talk) 11:34, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm broadly with Nuujinn. My preferred phrasing is "A criterion", but I'm fine with "One requirement".—S Marshall T/C 11:39, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Positioning that there is "one" threshold or criterion or requirement postulates that there is a cascade of thresholds over which material must advance to make it into an article.  But if one starts by looking at the material in an article, those other steps in the cascade don't show, the material there is verifiable, and verifiability is the only identifiable property of that material.  Thus it is correct and useful to say "The" and not "A".  So I understand what people mean when they say that verifiability is but one threshold, and I can live with Blueboar's compromise proposal that introduces to policy the multiplicity of thresholds, but from the standpoint of simplicity, this is an unnecessary complication.  Unscintillating (talk) 12:04, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
I disagree, and you've underscored one problem with the use of threshold. I think "The threshold" works fine myself, but others have expressed concerns. "A threshold" doesn't work so well--threshold implies a crossing or step, and multiple thresholds connote a series of steps where there's really no series. "The requirement" implies (to me anyway) that there is only one requirement, V, but that's not accurate as material must also be expressed with NPOV, must conform to NOT, etc. So there are multiple criteria, as S. Marshall points out. Verifiability is one of a number of requirements, although I would support the notion that it is perhaps the most important. I think some might argue that BLP policy is more important. --Nuujinn (talk) 12:30, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
You say that you "disagree" but then proceed to state multiple points of agreement so it is not clear to me what it is about which you disagree.  Unscintillating (talk) 13:22, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
It's not an unnecessary complication. --Nuujinn (talk) 10:27, 11 September 2011 (UTC)

(outdent) Perhaps we can give vote like reactions to a range of options (feel free to add if I am missing some good ones):---Andrew Lancaster (talk) 14:33, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

  • (a) The.../ (b) One.../ (c) A (or An)...
  • (a) [no adjective]/ (b) initial /(c) primary /(d) basic /(e) important /(f) significant /(g) critical
  • (a) threshold/ (b) requirement/

Blueboar's first draft is a.b.a. The current policy has a.a.a.

  • My vote would be b.e.b. One important requirement.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 14:33, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
  • b.a/d/e.b --Nuujinn (talk) 23:34, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
  • My ideal would be c.f/g.b A significant / critical requirement... Pesky (talkstalk!) 14:43, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
  • I'm fine with "The initial threshold". --Tryptofish (talk) 19:21, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
  • "A", "an" or "one" followed by "requirement" or "criterion". Adjective optional but any of those are acceptable.—S Marshall T/C 00:30, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
  • We need wording that is strong/emphatic (not just structurally correct) or else I don't think it will fly. I don't have the perfect answer, but how 'bout "A fundamental requirement....." or "An absolute requirement...."
I tend to think that we need no adjective. I would suggest that absolute is unneeded, since a requirement is by nature absolute. Significant also seems redundant, since requirements are by nature significant. Critical implies urgency, I'm not sure we need that. Primary and initial imply an order or hierarchy, but unless we want to place V above other policies. Fundamental works for me though. --Nuujinn (talk) 01:06, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
Fundamental works OK for me, too. Pesky (talkstalk!) 05:29, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
Me too. I note that in general there is no sign of strong feeling about a choice of adjective, or whether there should even be one. But "initial" is not a word being chosen by anyone so far. Responses so far tend to also be in the direction of the wording being in the singular (a or one, not the) and "requirement" rather than "threshold". Criterion has also been proposed (which would also be ok by me). Early days yet of course. I get the feeling threshold is a word with sentimental value amongst some now, but probably not the word that would have been chosen if there had been this much discussion in the beginning. It does not seem to me to have the right meaning.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 12:02, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
About "initial", look more carefully. (And keep in mind that the more you go against what you call "sentimental value", the more likely it is that the larger community will tell you "no, thank you". Just because a few editors here have spent vast amounts of time thinking about every issue doesn't mean that the rest of the community will be impressed. Most Wikipedians tend to feel that it isn't broke so don't try to fix it.) --Tryptofish (talk) 21:10, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

Is "A fundamental requirement..." acceptable to everyone?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 12:32, 20 September 2011 (UTC) Or:

  • do we use Blueboar's original version?
  • do we move discussion about the first couple of words below to the sub-section that started as a discussion about the word guarantee?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 12:35, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
I would like to point out that the question raised above remains open. It seems that the idea of tweaking the first few words of the policy page is assumed by some people to be something that will be unpopular, but I am not confident of that at all, and indeed not addressing those words might make all attempts at improvement impossible because those words are part of the problems causing concerns. Should there be a poll about whether we "may" change those first few words?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 12:06, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

The word guarantee[edit]

I also find the wording "not a guarantee" a little unclear. It sends thinking in a slightly odd direction. If I understand correctly, the sentence "Note, however, that while verifiability is a requirement for inclusion, it is not a guarantee of inclusion", is intended to say something which could also be expressed as...

  • Note, however, that while verifiability is a requirement for inclusion, not everything verifiable is suitable for Wikipedia.

Correct?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 07:46, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

That would be my understanding. --Nuujinn (talk) 12:37, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Ideally, I think that wp:ver should remain silent on the "inclusion" topic. But if not, I like Blueboar's better than Andrew's. Andrew's version implies that the only reason for leaving something out is if it is unsuitable. North8000 (talk) 13:06, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
It was not so much a proposal as a check on the meaning. I take it the word "suitable" is not quite right. Maybe no word at all is needed. The point should be pretty broad. I think it should just be saying that you should not expect something to be automatically acceptable just because it is verifiable.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 14:37, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Agree with your main thought. But even "acceptable" has problems. There can be many reasons for leaving something out, even if it is "acceptable" per policies. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 14:40, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
I like "not a guarantee", personally - but I'd also italicise both requirement and guarantee here - just for the nuanced effects of comparison between the two. And I'd drop the "note, however, that" bit, as well, ending thus: "While verifiability is a requirement for inclusion, it is not a guarantee of inclusion; whether or not material is included depends upon many factors." (Or something along those lines.) Pesky (talkstalk!) 14:48, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
I think it just means that you don't get to include something solely on the basis that you can verify it. No big deal. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:22, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
To me it is just an odd wording. Is there any way to get "a guarantee of inclusion"?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 11:57, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
Some people interpret it that way, although not using that word. I've often thought that a good sentence to add in this area would be: "Verifiability is a requirement for inclusion, not a reason for inclusion." North8000 (talk) 12:15, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
I'll be interested to read what others say, but at first glance I really like that!--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 20:14, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── That sounds good to me as well. --Nuujinn (talk) 23:53, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

Honestly, this sounds to me like a solution in search of a problem. But if we go this way, I'd suggest for the sake of flow within the paragraph: "While verifiability is a requirement for inclusion, it is not a sufficient reason for inclusion." --Tryptofish (talk) 23:59, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
Yeh, I like that one best so far. I'd still like the "requirement" and "sufficient reason" italicised, though! :o) Pesky (talkstalk!) 03:50, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Are we now in a position to begin an RFC based on Blueboar's proposal?—S Marshall T/C 22:29, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
Depends on whether or not we want the proposal to pass. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:32, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
What we want is for the community to receive a balanced RFC about the phrase "not truth", consisting of a fair and neutral summary of the concerns that led to it followed by a simple, binary choice: status quo, or "not truth" out of the lede and into a separate section that explains it properly. What we appear to be doing instead is discussing a larger-scale revamp of the first sentence, which is interesting but it's heading down the road that led to WP:ATT. I think we should keep the question and the RFC down to a manageable level. If other changes to the sentence are necessary, let's discuss them separately and subsequently.—S Marshall T/C 23:01, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
I think that the process has shown that Blueboar's proposal has had the most support. With "not truth" being in the 4th line, not sure whether one counts that as "in the lead" or "out of the lead". I'm viewing the proposal as in the phase of proposing and deciding for or against tweaks at this point. North8000 (talk) 01:48, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Um... just so we are clear... my proposal places "verifiability, not truth" in its own separate section. It was Tryptofish's proposal (which uses some of my lanugage) that consolidates it back into the lede section - but not the lede sentence or paragraph. I don't strongly object to Trypto's version (although I prefer mine)... but let's be clear as to which proposal we are actually talking about. Blueboar (talk) 19:21, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
I knew that. On my computer yours has it on line 4. Radical move....the two words that half of everybody wants completely gone are still there but a couple of lines down. :-) North8000 (talk) 20:04, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
I think you misunderstand what I am suggesting. You are leaving out some text that I would not change in my proposal. According to my proposal, the new section (containing the contentious words) would appear quite a bit further down (after the index box)... and the words would appear on something like line 15, not just a few lines down from where they currently are (you can see my proposed changes in full context here, in this draft version. Blueboar (talk) 01:21, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I misread. Thanks for correcting me. North8000 (talk) 02:28, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

Community building and decision making[edit]

What I am seeing is that none of the discussions since Blueboar's 3 September proposal, a proposal that achieved 13-2 favorability, have come even close to gaining traction.  On this Project Page there is currently a blur of unnamed proposals, discussion, and an unnamed poll.  It should raise design questions to see a Project Page being used for a Discussion page.  That being said, I see two paths forward, (1) either take Blueboar's 3 September proposal to RfC (the rationale attempt is valid but is currently tending more toward being an advertising campaign than a technical document, and there is no plan on how to use the document in conjunction with the policy page); or (2) take community-building more seriously.  By the later, I mean that right now, SlimVirgin, whose support is needed in building consensus, has been strengthened as the only viable responsible force to protect WP:V.  Most recently, Jayjg had to come over to WP:V to restore order, but the effect was still to show how much SlimVirgin's oversight here is needed.  IMO, the editors here that support orderly changes to WP:V should have been standing in line to protect WP:V.  Part of the support for "not truth" comes from a desire for psychological force (the "jolt"), which simultaneously indicates a lack of security to be found in the strength that should come from good technical writing.  IMO, the recent need to have order restored has strengthened the idea of the need for "jolt"s in WP:V's technical writing.  So, take community-building seriously, implement the ability to make decisions, show that we have a viable community that does not depend on a bully editor, segregate procedural discussions like this comment (such as was the intent of WP:V/First/Procedural), and then actually make some decisions about changing Blueboar's 3 September proposal—or just take Blueboar's 3 September proposal directly to RfC.  Regards, Unscintillating (talk) 03:32, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Sorry, I'm totally thick (not enough sleep ...) can someone put links to all our various working pages somewhere here so I can find out where everything is again? Apologies! Pesky (talkstalk!) 04:42, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

The main work area and current copy is the project page associate with this page. Wikipedia:Verifiability/First sentence There are two copies. On a copy circa 9/9/11, the other for potential changes. North8000 (talk) 04:47, 23 September 2011 (UTC). Also the area for developing a rationale. North8000 (talk) 04:50, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

Thank you! Maybe it's just creeping senility setting in on me! (I hope not!) Pesky (talkstalk!) 04:52, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, but I did not post the above message with my signature, so when it refers to "this Project Page" it is referring to where I actually did make the post.  It has also been removed from the context in which it is a subsection of a related discussion.  Here is the actual post.  Unscintillating (talk) 16:58, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Alternate approach proposal[edit]

[header inserted] Unscintillating (talk) 22:36, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
I feel that Blueboar's proposal only complicated what is already a overly verbose set of paragraphs. I still think taking what we have and condensing it down to this is the better solution:
The threshold for the inclusion of information in Wikipedia mainspace (articles, lists, sections of articles, and captions) without exception is verifiability— ie being attributable to a reliable, published source appropriate for the content in question. This requires that all quotations and anything challenged or likely to be challenged be attributed in the form of an inline citation that directly supports the material.(See the discussion about sources in WP:NOR that describes summarizing materials in your own words, leaving nothing implied that goes beyond the sources.) For how to write citations, see Citing sources. Anything that requires but lacks a source may be removed, and unsourced contentious material about living persons must be removed immediately.

Not only is the whole "not truth" thing knocked in the head but it puts everything together rather than spreading them out in disjointed sentences.--BruceGrubb (talk) 21:01, 24 September 2011 (UTC) My first reading it looks good, but it is a long way from the current effort.  Just the issue of understanding "not truth"

There has been strong resistance to even clarifying "not truth" much less "knocking it in the head".  A poll dated 6 September 2011, "Poll V_FC_P_12 Do not remove the "not truth" phrase from the policy page, even if deprecated" ref, showed 13-3 in favor of keeping "not truth" on the policy page in some form, with the forms ranging from a footnote to no change at all.  Unscintillating (talk) 22:36, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Gaining a consensus[edit]

[subheader inserted in "Alternate approach proposal"] Unscintillating (talk) 14:05, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
Indeed... We all understand that there are a few editors who would like to knock "not truth" on its head and kill it completely. We also understand that there are editors who are insisting on it remaining in the policy, exactly as it is now. The only way to gain a consensus is to compromise between these two extremes... to include the phrase "verifiability, not truth" somewhere in the policy... but not in the lede where it is causing problems. Blueboar (talk) 22:56, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
No, not only, two other ways are for one camp to convince the other that they are mistaken. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:09, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
We have tried that approach for over three months now... ain't going to happen. Blueboar (talk) 12:16, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
SlimVirgin is the one who has the most power here. Any proposal has to be accepted by SlimVirgin to be a compromise. Otherwise this "compromise" is just theater. --Bob K31416 (talk) 04:50, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
SlimVirgin has no more "power" than any other editor... it's just that she is a very respected editor with a lot of experience in writing policy. That said, her views do happen to represent how a lot of other editors feel about this, and they defer to her expertise to make the arguments they would like to make. Call her the outspoken representative of the "I don't see a need to change anything" viewpoint. Blueboar (talk) 12:16, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
With that in mind, please respond to the main point of my last message, "Any proposal has to be accepted by SlimVirgin to be a compromise." --Bob K31416 (talk) 13:36, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't think that's correct. If SV disagreed with everyone else, everyone else would prevail. That being said, SV is a good barometer--if SV doesn't buy into the compromise, it is likely there will not be strong consensus. And SV is respected, so if SV doesn't buy into the compromise, SV will likely be able to sway others. Bottom line is Blueboar is correct, except it has been way longer than 3 months. Neither camp will convince the other, as both camps have good arguments. Compromise is achieved when everyone is pretty much evenly disappointed in the results and realizes that it is time to move on to other matters. I don't know if we're there yet, but that's what it will take. --Nuujinn (talk) 13:44, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, the existence of 500 pages here on Wikipedia that reference "verifiability, not truth" has made it hard for those absolutely opposed to the phrase to stand their ground.  Between Poll V_FC_P_12 Do not remove the "not truth" phrase from the policy page, even if deprecated and Blueboar's Poll V_FC_P_13 Blueboar's compromise - move discussion of truth/untruth out of lede and into new section, there is only one active editor that remains opposed to keeping the phrase in all cases.  So there has been a shift in opinion, and it is SlimVirgin that has openly advocated refusing to participate in these discussions with the goal of obstructing them.  While it would be easy to point to WP:Consensus regarding this behavior, the problem is that the change camp is being indecisive with unclear proposals at WP:V/First sentence, and it is looking like a case of building a camel by committee if they ever decide anything.  And since there continues to be no functional community building for this page, SlimVirgin's volunteering remains a key resource for the encyclopedia.  The only path forward that I see is to take Blueboar's 3 September proposal, that achieved 13-3 favorability in polling, to RfC, and do that at WT:V.  But before we do that, since SlimVirgin's volunteering remains essential to the functionality of this page, I'd suggest that we ask for her vote first, and see if there is anything that she would agree to.  I'll go further and propose that Blueboar and S Marshall should negotiate any changes that Slimvigin proposes.  Unscintillating (talk) 14:45, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
I think drawing conclusions about how the general population will react to an RFC based on who's saying what in these discussions would be a tricky bit of business, given that the length of the discussions selects for particular kinds of editors. But I think your suggestion is good, and asking any prior participant who has been engaged here in the past but has not commented recently would be a fine thing to do. --Nuujinn (talk) 17:02, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
May I suggest that SlimVirgin should now come here and express any objections she has to the changes in the first sentence and give her reasons. I think that would be the best way of proceeding from this point towards a compromise. --Bob K31416 (talk) 17:38, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
I think that format is too open, she could just say, "yes I have objections, the sentence is good for the encyclopedia the way that it is".  I think we need to know if she has any specific objections to Poll V_FC_P_13 Blueboar's compromise.  And if she had more specific objections, how are we going to make a decision regarding accepting them or rejecting them?  Unscintillating (talk) 17:56, 25 September 2011 (UTC)

I think that all interested parties should have equal input. I think that Slim is from the farthest "no changes" end of the spectrum; how would giving special weight there help craft proposed changes? I would think that folks somewhere near the middle would be in the best position to guide the process. North8000 (talk) 18:51, 25 September 2011 (UTC)

I think I'm somewhere near the middle, actually, and I just get accused of "gutting" the proposal. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:32, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
(ec)Did not SV personally veto the last two consensuses for change?  That implies that she has more than half of the political power, and represents the center of opinion.  To more directly answer your question, though, anything we can do to get SV involved is likely to be helpful for getting change.  And specifically, any changes that she would propose to Poll V_FC_P_13 Blueboar's compromise that were agreed to by Blueboar and S Marshall can't be too radical, and would be likely to bring the whole community together.  As for greater community involvement, Nuujinn suggests that we need to open up to comments from anyone that hasn't been participating, and I'd follow-up by suggesting that they direct their comments to SV to consider as a change that she would propose to Blueboar and S Marshall.  And...what do you counter-propose?  Unscintillating (talk) 19:39, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Why are we obsessing over what SlimVirgin thinks? This is unhealthy. She is not Page Manager.—S Marshall T/C 19:28, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
She's the most influential editor on the side of no change in the first sentence. In order to have a compromise, or determine whether a compromise is even possible, it is quite reasonable to get her input. --Bob K31416 (talk) 20:43, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
I think that if Slim were open to a compromise, such would be useful. But the time for her to say that would have been during the last many months. North8000 (talk) 21:50, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
Could we please stop discussing specific editors and get back to work on the proposal itself. Blueboar (talk) 22:17, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
Are you suggesting this discussion needs to continue at a notice board?  Unscintillating (talk) 23:02, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
I think its pretty clear that a discussion of the relative political or other powers of any specific editor is not the intended purpose or focus of either THIS talk page, nor the Main Talk page for Verifiability, so this thread needs to end. Seems like a very reasonable point, and we probably need to collapse this thread and move along. -- Avanu (talk) 02:48, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't think there is any need to continue to discuss what the relative influence of SlimVirgin is, since it seems to have been accepted that she is the most influential editor on the side that doesn't want the first sentence changed. As I mentioned before, in order to have a compromise, or determine whether a compromise is even possible, it is quite reasonable to get her input, i.e. any objections she has to the changes in the first sentence and her reasons. That point should not be hidden by collapsing the section. --Bob K31416 (talk) 08:01, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Agree with Blueboar, we should stop talking about individual editors and get back to work on the proposal itself. North8000 (talk) 11:02, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Proposed next step[edit]

Blueboar's proposal gained a strong consensus. During the subsequent weeks, no proposed changes to it (including mine) have gained traction or consensus. I propose we go another week (til October 3rd) to develop/finalize the rationale, and see if there are any proposed changes to Blueboar's proposal that gain consensus by then. And at that point go to a very broad RFC with Blueboar's proposal (including any consensused modifications to it). North8000 (talk) 11:09, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps you should clarify what you mean by "gained a strong consensus", since you don't have consensus for it on the Verifiability talk page. Perhaps you mean, "gained a strong consensus from those who worked on it." --Bob K31416 (talk) 13:08, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
Not sure what you mean, but here's what I meant. Several weeks back there was a strong consensus for Blueboar's proposal. (I think like 12 to 2). It was a sort on a "like it overall" basis, not ruling out tweaks in the wording. So then we put it up for review for changes in the wording ande development of a rationale. Some folks (including myself) proposed changes to the proposal, but none of those proposed changes gained traction or received consensus. So, the last few weeks have been just deciding what the main proposal is. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 14:35, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
One more note, a part of the agreement to move this to sub pages is that they are the equivalent to the main talk page. North8000 (talk) 15:06, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
How many of those in that consensus would actually support the proposal in an rfc? For example, Blueboar said he didn't prefer his own proposal any more than he preferred the present policy, so you can't depend on him for support in the rfc. Are there any others in that consensus that won't be supporting the proposal over the present version of policy? --Bob K31416 (talk) 19:27, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
I won't speak for Blueboar, but while I don't prefer his proposal more than the current policy, I am willing to support it in an RFC as a compromise measure the purpose of which is to address the concerns other editors have with interpretations of "not truth". --Nuujinn (talk) 19:30, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
I think that the question was making that change in the wording, not whether it was nice wording. Sincerely , North8000 (talk) 19:32, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
Nuujinn, Is there any part of Blueboar's proposal that you think is an improvement over the current policy? --Bob K31416 (talk) 21:17, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
I think that's a hard question to answer. Does it clarify any issues for me, personally, better than the current policy? No, it doesn't. Does is retain the phrase "not truth" (which I regard as extraordinarily useful as a brake for editors unfamiliar with V, and rhetorically beautiful)? Yes, and I think that's a good thing. Does it attempt to address some of the issues brought up in regard to "not truth" fueling arguments that we need not concern ourselves with accuracy, as best we can determine it, or in keeping material we know believe is inaccurate but documented in an RS, or that it sets ourselves up to look silly by perhaps emphasizing the "not truth" part of V too much? Yes, I think it does, and works well to that particular end. If it were just up to me, I wouldn't change the wording, but when a good number of experienced and well-meaning editors present reasonable arguments suggesting there are problems that need addressing with the current policy, I'm game to find some kind of compromise. Various wordings and changes have been proposed, but Blueboar's proposal, or something very much like it, seems to be to be the best way to move forward on this issue, and represents the most progress we've seen in this discussion for a number of months (although I die a bit inside when I think of how many articles we could have found good references for, how many copy edits we could have made, how much new material we could have added if even half the cycles used here had been directed to general improvements all around, but in that, I'm as guilty as the next editor). I'm sorry I don't have a simple answer, but this seems a complex issue. I guess the simplest way to put it is that I think Blueboar's proposal is the best attempt I've seen in term of trying to address the concerns expressed here, but I'm still unsure as to whether the community will want this particular change or would rather have the status quo. But I think it's about time we found out. --Nuujinn (talk)
In my opinion, Nuujinn's answer is actually a very thoughtful and nuanced one, not long winded (per the edit summary) at all. For what it's worth (and that might not be very much), I'm really uncertain whether or not this will be an improvement, and I'm really uncertain what position I will take in the RfC. I'm quite satisfied with "not truth", and very uncomfortable with, forgive me, burying it in a tl;dr section. In my opinion, the phrasing that Blueboar came up with to explain what "not truth" means (for the benefit, I presume, of the POV pushers and those of low intelligence, because I'm pretty sure intelligent people of good faith get what it means, even if it initially gives them a jolt) was spot-on, and really quite beautiful, so I'd like to support it. The problem I have is that the proposal has been larded up with a lot of other stuff. I've been told that this stuff addresses an elephant in the room. The room is quite crowded, because there's also a whale in here, and the whale is that most of the community won't see much value in the other stuff, and will be skeptical of downgrading "not truth". I'm a survivor of WP:CDARFC, and I know what happens when people propose reform around here. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:48, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
Bob, I can assure you that I will support my own compromise if it goes to rfc - even though I think the current version is just fine. While I have no problem with the current language, I fully understand and accept that others do have a problem with it. That's what compromise is all about... accepting things that are less than what you want. Compromise is about accepting less than perfect... because you realize that perfection is not possible. Blueboar (talk) 01:06, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Very well said, indeed. I wish I could have phrased it thus. --Nuujinn (talk) 01:46, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Blueboar, Is there any part of your proposal that you think is an improvement over the current policy? --Bob K31416 (talk) 02:42, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Stop being argumentative. No one is trying to change policy, just whether it is expressed as clearly as it could be. -- Avanu (talk) 05:55, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Even I think Blueboar's proposal is the way forward. Can we get on with implementing it please?—S Marshall T/C 07:19, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
I think that as soon as we think we have the rationale done we should roll. I just made up the October 3rd suggestion as something concrete to look at. North8000 (talk) 10:02, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Avanu, Actually, that wasn't what I meant, but I won't pursue it.
Re your comment "No one is trying to change policy, just whether it is expressed as clearly as it could be." - It would be helpful if you made that comment at the upcoming rfc. --Bob K31416 (talk) 14:38, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Also see drafting discussion for the rationale. I propose we make this one of the first sentences of that rationale, i.e. that the proposal is aimed at keeping the same policy (as currently interpreted by experienced editors when they discuss at length). And that it is an attempt to improve clarity of wording.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 16:49, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Sounds goodNorth8000 (talk) 16:51, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

The REAL problem with "not truth" (Verifiability vs belief)[edit]

The real problem with "not truth" is the term makes no distinction between a believed truth and a verifiable truth. So you have the editor who goes "well this isn't true..." in the same bucket as the editor who goes "this isn't true because RS A, B, and C show the exact opposite" and that in a nut shell is the problem with the phrase.--BruceGrubb (talk) 14:21, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

Good point. But then you have to look at the scenarios. When it's both accurate and verifiable, the current system works. When it's in error but verifiable is where "not truth" does the most harm; it allows falseness to be excluded from any conversations regarding inclusion of material. North8000 (talk) 14:32, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
A useful distinction Bruce. North8000 would it be true to say that the details of how to interpret "not truth" all revolve around questions of due weighting of sources? Just being devil's advocate.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 16:46, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
The conversation that went on at Talk:Conspiracy_theory#The_first_recorded_use_of_the_phrase_.22conspiracy_theory.22_dates_from_1909.3F_WRONG.21 is a poster child of the problems the current phrasing produces:
"The first recorded use of the phrase "conspiracy theory" dates back to a history article from 1909." (Knight, Peter. "Plots, paranoia and blame". BBC News 7 December 2006) met Verifiability by any reasonable standard--a direct quote by a Senior lecturer in American Studies from the University of Manchester in a well respected paper.
"Such a view of the case, if it were generally entertained, would have an important bearing on the conspiracy theory." (Ellis Thompson, Wharton Barker The American: a national journal: Volumes 19-20 May 10, 1890 Page 67)
Clearly by the 1890 American: a national journal, Knight is talking nonsense but instead of a NPOV talk on how to deal with the clear factual error many of the editors went into the Twilight Zone with nonsensical statements like
1. "This is another one of those instances in which "verifiability, not truth" is what matters for Wikipedia. It can be verified that the author claims that the first recorded use was from 1909, whether or not his claim is accurate." (which basically reads it doesn't matter that it can be verified in any source that the phase was used before 1909 because the earlier sources are textbook examples of "verifiability, not truth" and we don't care these earlier sources PROVE later source is demonstrably inaccurate.)
2. "Looking for sources using the phrase "conspiracy theory" is indisputably original research," (How do you find sources meeting Verifiability if simply looking for them is OR?)
3. "Literally speaking, citing early uses of the phrase is OR." (Citing a source is OR.... Huh?)
Look at what WP:OR actually says people: "The term "original research" (OR) is used on Wikipedia to refer to material—such as facts, allegations, and ideas—for which no reliable, published source exists." Clearly the source exists as well as more reliable sources like a 1891 Oxford University Branch book and yet this type of Alice through the Looking Glass views of what Verifiability and OR mean come about based on the whole "verifiability, not truth" concept.--BruceGrubb (talk) 18:41, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Answering Andrew's question to me, the revised wording clarifies that "not truth" here means reinforcement that there is no exception to the verifiability requirement. So, after such a change were made, such quandaries would not be generated by wp:ver wording. North8000 (talk) 19:23, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
North8000, wouldn't you agree that the above shows that the whole "verifiability, not truth" idea is producing a serious disconnect between what is verifiability and what is OR? When editors think that simply looking for sources is OR then something has seriously gone wrong.--BruceGrubb (talk) 19:34, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Not sure how to answer that complex question. Certainly the current "not truth" with it's lack of explanation causes or contributes to many problems. And looking for sources or anything is not OR; sometimes what is done the findings can be OR. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 20:08, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
@BruceGrubb, I think your example is on point to a problem being created by WP:V in the encyclopedia, and why we need WP:V reform.  I think Blueboar's proposal does essential work by identifying evidence of untruth as a WP:DUE issue.  On a related point, after the work we did at WP:Inaccuracy, I don't want to agree that a source in 1890 that uses the term "conspiracy theory" proves that the phrase was used before 1909.  What I think we have is evidence of an error, not proof.  Unscintillating (talk) 00:33, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Actually, it proves the opposite. As I understand the dispute, it seems that Bruce wants to include not merely "The first use was at least 1890, because here's an 1890 publication using it" (which we could do), but also a statement along the lines of "and so the Wikipedia editor (i.e., Bruce himself) has proven BBC 7 (the previous source) wrong", even though this last half—although absolutely true—is absolutely unverifiable in any published reliable source.
Adding up a published source that says A and a published source that says not-A to conclude something that is not in either of the sources (="Source A is wrong") is a SYNTH violation as well as a WP:V violation. If Bruce ever produces a published, reliable source to verify the fact that he's proved BBC 7 wrong, then we can see about including that information. Until then, his triumph over BBC 7 is unverifiable and may not be included. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:44, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
The only thing that I know is what is on this talk page, so I'm probably blundering here somewhere. But if editors agree that what the RS said appears to be in error, they could simply decide to leave the material out. North8000 (talk) 02:31, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Considering over at Wikipedia_talk:No_original_research#Incorporating_WP:NOTOR WhatamIdoing stated "You could say, on the basis of the 1890 source itself, "The phrase has been used at least as early as 1890."" I find this flip flopping a prime example of the desperate handwaving editors get into to save what is a flawed interpretation of Verifiability and OR.

WP:NOTOR clearly states "Comparing and contrasting conflicting facts and opinion is not original research, as long as any characterization of the conflict is sourced to reliable sources."

By WP:NOTOR the following would NOT be any form of OR (SYS or otherwise):

"Peter Knight states "The first recorded use of the phrase "conspiracy theory" dates from 1909" (ref); however, the phrase "conspiracy theory" also appears in Garrison, George Pierce (1906) Westward extension, 1841-1850 Edited by Albert Bushnell Hart LLD Professor in history in Harvard University pg 31(ref) and The American: a national journal: Volumes 19-20 May 10, 1890 Page 67(ref)"

Note that editors try to go but it implies STOP RIGHT THERE AND GO WITH WHAT IS ACTUALLY BEING STATED NOT WHAT YOU BELIEVE IS BEING STATED OR IMPLIED. Each individual part of the compound sentence I provided above meets the Verifiability requirement: Peter David did indeed make that statement in a RS (a fact meeting Verifiability) and the phrase "conspiracy theory" is indeed found in the specific reliable sources provided that predate 1909 (again a fact meeting Verifiability) and NO explanation for the discrepancy was provided per WP:NOTOR. Per WP:NOTOR THERE IS NO OR (not even SYN) period end of sentence go not pass go, do not collect $200.

The type of nonsense above is why we really need something like the following in NOR:

Conflict between sources

There will be times when sources have conflicting facts and opinion. While generally comparing and contrasting these conflicts in of itself is not original research (see WP:NOTOR) great care that synthesis or unsupported conclusions based on those conflicts do not appear in an article. These source conflicts fall into two broad categories: factual and summation.

A factual conflict is where a direct statement (such one source stating as a certain phrase first appearing in 1920) can be proven via reliable sources to be facially wrong (other reliable sources demonstrate that the phrase in fact appeared before 1920).

A summation conflict is when sources disagree regarding a detail regarding the subject.

For example 2002 Ingle's Endodontics 5th edition stated "(i)n the 1930s, editorials and research refuted the theory of focal infection". while 2006 Carranza's clinical periodontology stated "(t)he focal infection theory fell into disrepute in the 1940s and 1950s", and the 2009 Textbook of Endodontology stated that while it had lost its influence "dental focal infection theory never died"

The resolution of such conflicts is a WP:NPOV issue as long as unsupported synthesis, conclusions, or violations of WP:Weight are not made. Noting in the article there is a conflict is NOT OR but presenting an unsupported reason for the conflict is.

For example the Jesus myth theory article had to address the problem of differing definitions and classifications of what Jesus myth theory even was. The solution there was to note that there was no exact and agreed-upon meaning and then listed some of reliable sourced examples to illustrate the conflict. However an actual reason for the conflict was not provided as no reliable source even suggesting why there was a conflict was found.

Another such example from the Jesus myth theory article was how to handle the obvious conflict between Sir James George Frazer stating "My theory assumes the historical reality of Jesus of Nazareth" in volume 9 of The golden bough in 1913 and Schweitzer's grouping of Frazer with John M. Robertson, William Benjamin Smith, and Arthur Drews in his 1913 and later editions The Quest of the Historical Jesus as well as stating in his 1931 autobiography Out of My Life and Thought "I especially wanted to explain late Jewish eschatology more thoroughly and to discuss the works of John M. Robertson, William Benjamin Smith, James George Frazer, Arthur Drews, and others, who contested the historical existence of Jesus." Here as above the nature of the conflict was noted with an additional reliable source added that expressly stated there was a conflict but no reasons for the conflict were provided as no reliable sources for that could be found.

As both of these examples show describing the nature of a conflict is NOT OR though presenting reasons not even suggested by the material definitively is OR.

Editors should resist the temptation to synthesize conflicting sources or in an article use one source to prove another wrong. Editors should also remember that a source only meets Verifiability regarding what it actually says not what the editor thinks it says. The same applies to statements made in the article itself (ie saying that a statement "implies" anything beyond what it actually states is OR).

This would stop a lot of the headaches and misdirection of problems that really should be going to NPOV and instead wind up in the Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard because of the whole "not truth" misunderstanding.--BruceGrubb (talk) 10:07, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

I do feel that wp:nor (and possibly related aspects in wp:ver) needs some work. If wp:nor is taken literally and rigorously, all writing in Wikipedia (except direct quotes) is OR / synthesis. Including all summarization from single or multiple sources, all paraphrasing. Policy needs to better define the line between these expected and acceptable practices, and the practices which it intends to exclude. But that's a different topic. North8000 (talk) 11:01, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Exactly. North8000, in regard to The only thing that I know is what is on this talk page, so I'm probably blundering here somewhere. But if editors agree that what the RS said appears to be in error, they could simply decide to leave the material out, I was involved in the discussion, and that's exactly what we did, after a short discussion. BruceGrubb seems curiously unable to see that there was no significant dispute about what to do, just normal consensus building, and has been building a mountain out of a tiny molehill of a misunderstanding ever since. I have no idea why. --Nuujinn (talk) 11:04, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Nuujinn seems to have forgotten his own comments in Talk:Conspiracy_theory#The_first_recorded_use_of_the_phrase_.22conspiracy_theory.22_dates_from_1909.3F_WRONG.21:
"We've been considering Knight's encyclopedia as a reliable tertiary source, and he certainly has academic credentials, so the BBC interview is reliable as well, I think. So it seem to me we have two choices, either to remove that particular bit or to see if we can work in the material without violating OR. The former is not particularly attractive and the latter would be difficult as some of the sources BruceGrubb has found are primary sources, and I'm not sure that the secondary sources are about conspiracy theories per se but may be passing mentions." (basically a variant of it doesn't matter that it can be verified in any source that the phase was used before 1909 because the earlier sources are textbook examples of "verifiability, not truth" and we don't care these earlier sources PROVE later source is demonstrably inaccurate nonsense above.)
"An editor here proving Knight wrong by researching primary texts which are not about conspiracy theories, but which happen to use the phrase, would be a pretty clear violation of NOR." (citing source that meet Verifiability showing the later source is inaccurate is OR... on the talk page...Huh?)
OR is regarding article page space not talk page space. Again that whole disaster and the currently flailing about to justify which on all levels is a nonsense position merely show the wonky ways Verifiability and OR are viewed and part of that problem is the whole "not truth" issue.--BruceGrubb (talk) 15:03, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Bruce Grubb, stop selectively quoting and misrepresenting the flow of that discussion. I thought you were advocating adding the earlier dates to the article. I said So it seem to me we have two choices, either to remove that particular bit or to see if we can work in the material without violating OR. The former is not particularly attractive and the latter would be difficult as some of the sources BruceGrubb has found are primary sources, and I'm not sure that the secondary sources are about conspiracy theories per se but may be passing mentions. Do any of these source appear usable to others? I'll see if I can get at them for a closer look. In the mean time, I think attributing the 1909 statement makes sense, that's a common way of introducing some distance. And later An editor here proving Knight wrong by researching primary texts which are not about conspiracy theories, but which happen to use the phrase, would be a pretty clear violation of NOR. That's different than one expert arguing that another expert is wrong in secondary sources. So I think we need to take a close look at these sources and see if we can get the text right while conforming to core policies. Clearly my concerns were with the article itself, and your characterization of that discussion as a disaster is simply ludicrous. I would ask you to cease with the excessive drama, you're hindering productive discussion. If you think I've violated policy or been disruptive, report me. --Nuujinn (talk) 20:22, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, North, as you can see above, it's really, really, really important to Bruce to point out that Peter Knight of BBC 7 got it wrong.
Bruce, NOR does not permit you to juxtapose these facts in ways that imply the conclusion that Knight is wrong. As I have said before, you may omit the Knight source altogether. You may say "The phrase conspiracy theory appears as early as 1890". You may not say "Peter Knight says, "The first recorded use of the phrase "conspiracy theory" dates from 1909" (ref); however we are now going to supply two sources that show Knight was wrong." That's not okay: that is a violation of NOR (specifically, the SYNTH section). You may supply the correct answer. You may not supply the correct answer in a way that tells the reader that any published source contains an error. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:50, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
WhatamIdoing not only ignores WP:NOTOR (Comparing and contrasting conflicting facts and opinion is not original research, as long as any characterization of the conflict is sourced to reliable sources) but provides his own OR with "The phrase conspiracy theory appears as early as 1890" suggestion as there are sources before 1890--something he would know if he had bother to READ the actual talk page. In fact, further searching produced possible earlier sources then the ones I originally presented including a 1800 edition of the United States code service. Complicating matters is that a law firm states on their web page "There are two alternative conspiracy theories in the United States Code under 18 U.S.C. § 371: (1) conspiracy to commit a crime against the United States, and (2) conspiracy to defraud the United States or agency thereof."--BruceGrubb (talk) 09:15, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Of course we can tell readers that published sources contain errors. It's perfectly normal to do that, in articles like this and this. If a published source is a pack of lies then we absolutely can, should, and do, say so.—S Marshall T/C 22:24, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
I think that this is getting clouded. I think that what WhatamIdoing and Nuujinn are saying is that you can't synthesize a refutation statement out of something that is primary sources or less. By "less" I mean that it appears that the sources merely contain evidence rather than make that statement, so they might not even be primary sources for that statement. BUT, editors CAN decide to exclude the sourced statement that has been cast in doubt, or use "according to....." type distancing wording for it. North8000 (talk) 23:38, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
This goes back to what WP:NOTOR states: "Comparing and contrasting conflicting facts and opinion is not original research, as long as any characterization of the conflict is sourced to reliable sources. If reliable references cannot be found to explain the apparent discrepancy, editors should resist the temptation to add their own explanation."
Something similar to this nonsense on Talk:Weston_Price/Archive_1#Weston_Price_and_Stephen_Barrett_in_their_own_words which was taken over to Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Noticeboard/Archive_79#Is_a_paper_.28possible_blog.29_by_a_psychiatrist_valid_regarding_old_claims_regarding_dentistry.3F and degenerated into the barrel of fun that was Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard/Incidents/Problem_on_BLP_noticeboard. Some editors seem to have have an 'accuracy be damned--as long as it meets Verifiability it is good' mentality and presenting anything that contradicts what a particular source states gets labeled OR (regardless of it actually making any sense).
In retrospect taking Stephen Barrett's comments about Weston Price to WP:RSN was likely not the proper thing to do as it is now clear it was more a WP:NPOV issue but in that case it worked out was and Stephen Barrett was ruled NOT to be RS regarding any information on Weston Price himself.--BruceGrubb (talk) 11:04, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

Blueboar's compromise[edit]

About three weeks ago we had a proposal from Blueboar that, over six days (after which voting was closed), received broader support (and less opposition) than any of the other proposals I can recall. Is that one still on the table? --JN466 08:00, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

Yes. Discussion has turned to the rationale to be presented when this comes to be voted on in an RFC.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 09:35, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. :) --JN466 15:49, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
I propose that we go to RFC with this (and the developed rationale) tomorrow, October 3rd. North8000 (talk) 12:59, 2 October 2011 (UTC)

The part of the proposal at the end of the first paragraph[edit]

At the end of the first paragraph of the proposal are the two sentences, "Note that verifiability is a requirement for inclusion, not a guarantee of inclusion. Wikipedia has additional requirements from other policies and guidelines." Is this part of the proposal acceptable to everyone? In other words, if these sentences alone were added to the present version of policy, would that be an improvement of the present version of policy? The first paragraph of policy would then look like this:

The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether editors think it is true. Note that verifiability is a requirement for inclusion, not a guarantee of inclusion. Wikipedia has additional requirements from other policies and guidelines.

--Bob K31416 (talk) 22:30, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

I have added this to the current version of policy WP:V. (WP:BRD) Please note that if this is accepted as an improvement, it will simplify the proposal and simplify the process a bit. If anyone thinks it is not an improvement, please give your reasons here. --Bob K31416 (talk) 23:10, 30 September 2011 (UTC)

Update: The above change of adding the two sentences was reverted by Jesanj who also replaced "The threshold" with "A threshold".[5] --Bob K31416 (talk) 00:31, 1 October 2011 (UTC)

@Bob K31416.  I don't agree that your edit would "simplify the proposal".  Blueboar's 3 September proposal achieved 13-3 favorability in polling.  While your text is related to part of Blueboar's proposal, the 3 September proposal uses 36 words and yours uses 22 words.  Therefore, allowing that your change were left at WP:V, if and when Blueboar's proposal goes to RfC, we'd have an added complication of proposing that your wording with 22 words be changed to the proposal wording of 36 words.  This would not "simplify the process", it would complicate it.  Unscintillating (talk) 13:01, 1 October 2011 (UTC)
Is there a reason why the first sentence cannot have the first word changed from "The" to "A"? Discussion above is WP:TLDR. Jesanj (talk) 06:34, 2 October 2011 (UTC)
Yup. "A" is far too general, and not at all what we're looking for. Nice try though! Cheers ;> Doc talk 06:45, 2 October 2011 (UTC)

cleanup on aisle V[edit]

The change camp wants to represent that their changes benefit the long term interests of the encyclopedia, yet there currently appears to be a shortage of workers when it comes to maintaining stability in the text of the first sentence at WP:V.  This sentence is tagged "under discussion".  Bob, this specifically includes you, since it is your edit that opened the door to the next edit that made a change in the first sentence.  Your edit walked a tightrope that did not change the first sentence, please consider reverting the most recent change back to your proposal.  Thanks, Unscintillating (talk) 13:01, 1 October 2011 (UTC)

Propose that we go to RFC with the main proposal and rationale October 3rd.[edit]

I propose that we go to RFC with the main proposal (and the developed rationale) tomorrow, October 3rd. And that Blueboar put it up, if they care to. Cast the widest net possible, and give it plenty of time. North8000 (talk) 13:03, 2 October 2011 (UTC)

Not sure if we are quite ready to go live yet (although I think we are very close to that point).... I would like to see a complete draft of the "final package" (the proposal and rational together) posted here, and have one final tweaking session (and I do mean tweaks, not major structural or conceptual changes). I know there were a few suggestions and small wording changes that were made in passing over the last few weeks that no one objected to... some of them may have gotten lost among all the verbage and debates. I want to ensure that these are incorporated (or at least properly considered). Blueboar (talk) 14:35, 2 October 2011 (UTC)
Fine by me. Do you mean here on the talk page? North8000 (talk) 15:21, 2 October 2011 (UTC)
I mean I would like to see a "all-but-final draft" of the complete package posted here, on this talk page, so we can do a final review and discuss any last minute tweaks that are needed. The next step, after this final review, would be to "go live"... by which I mean both posting the RfC on the main policy talk page(WT:V) and notifying the broader community of the RfC's existance (at places like the Village Pump). Blueboar (talk) 16:50, 2 October 2011 (UTC)
OK here goesNorth8000 (talk) 17:38, 2 October 2011 (UTC)
Folks have tweaked the rationale a little. Now current discussions have gone to areas which call for totally different bigger changes but which I think would be helped by this proposal. The one proposed tweak to the proposal (Pesky's) has not gained traction, although I think it or something like it would be a good idea separately / later on. Time to roll? North8000 (talk) 10:27, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Yes, time to roll. --Nuujinn (talk) 10:34, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Question. Is the text below the final draft? That rationale is long, repetitive, and contains three appeals to Jimbo; there will be people rejecting it for that reason alone. Vesal (talk) 21:02, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Yes, that's probably true. Needs a haircut.—S Marshall T/C 21:06, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
  • (edit conflict) Well, the short answer is yes. It was designed by a committee :-) Actually, it was due to trying to keep some key items in there. But they were not fully integrated. North8000 (talk) 21:09, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
I deleted a section that I wrote. As such, that didn't seem too bold.North8000 (talk) 21:14, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
I deleted more of what I wrote, plus most of a section that someone else wrote. Please revert if you disagree. I'm done for now. North8000 (talk) 21:20, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
I do have to agree that "appeals to Jimbo" tend to backfire. I suggest that a better tactic would be to notify Jimbo of the RfC when it goes live, and let him comment for himself. Blueboar (talk) 21:28, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
My recent work deleted one of them, and trimmed the section with another. But I think that noting what he said addresses some common thoughts that people would have, like "this change goes against what Jimbo said about verifiability" . Plus, would one comment tend to get lost in the crowd? North8000 (talk) 21:41, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm cool with the removal that Blueboar did, I was just giving my thoughts. North8000 (talk) 23:50, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Time to roll? North8000 (talk)
Almost... the only additional tweak I would make is to combine the two introductory paragraphs into one... they strike me as being repetitious. I have given it my best shot... but if I cut to much in merging them, go ahead and revert and we can discuss it. Blueboar (talk) 00:21, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
OK... unless there are further tweaks and changes... I will take it live at the end of today. Blueboar (talk) 17:09, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Cool. Cast the net was wide as we can. North8000 (talk) 17:50, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Tweaks for accuracy in the rationale?[edit]

I support unscintillating's change in the rationale made a few minutes ago, feel that it makes it more accurate, and suggest that it go in the live version. Or maybe "Some said it is vital" North8000 (talk) 00:16, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
With Blueboar incommunicado, I'm thinking it best to revert both the version on this page and the version at WT:V to the stable version of the Rationale from 14 minutes before the RfC went live.  Unscintillating (talk) 01:21, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
I think you mean "50% disagreed". That is very safe. Let's do it on the main copy at wp:ver talk.North8000 (talk) 01:28, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
I see what you mean, put the stable version at WT:V, which even if it doesn't have a phrase that Blueboar wants added, is not controversial; and leave the copy here for markup.  Unscintillating (talk) 01:38, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Blueboar is back, but not cooperating.  Unscintillating (talk) 04:06, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
I've restored the stable version with this edit comment:

the word "vital" does not appear in the poll, adding something controversial 13 minutes before the start of the RfC does not grandfather it, please discuss at WP:V/First sentence)

Unscintillating (talk) 04:55, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
First, my main concern is that statements of fact in the rationale regarding the history here be accurate. I just realized that the more recently added link in there didn't go to the biggest/main RFC on this question (38 respondents) which is at Wikipedia_talk:Verifiability/Archive_49#Proposal for a change in the first sentence, which was essentially a proposal to completely remove "not truth". I think that we should link to the main RFC, and accurately describe the responses as being simply for and against complete removal of "not truth", with no consensus either way. Lastly, while I agree that the PROPOSAL should not be changed after it is up, this is not the proposal, this is the rationale. I think that we should discuss here and consider fixing it, but no edits there until we decide here. North8000 (talk) 10:27, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Sorry for the lack of discussion last night... my computer was having server overload problems. The simple fact is, those of us who opposed the changes proposed in last April's RFC more than just "disagreed" with them. Our opposition was much more emphatic. That's why it took us months to finally reach a compromise... both sides in this debate had very strong feelings one way or the other. If we are going to give an accurate picture of what happened back in April, I think it is important to express the strong feelings and views that existed on both sides... summing up one of those sides with a mild "50% disagreed" does not accurately convey the feelings of the opposed voters.
As an alternative, we could leave onit explanations and justifications of previous views completely: saying simply: "50% of editors responding supported change and 50% opposed." Blueboar (talk) 12:07, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
In fact, I think I prefer that last alternative... it's neutral and accurate at the same time... if people are interested in seeing what views were expressed back in April, they can click on the link and read them. Blueboar (talk) 13:01, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── How about changing:

In an RFC held last April, 50% of editors responding felt the first sentence "is problematic and needs to be rewritten", and 50% disagreed. After further discussion and additional RfCs, with neither viewpoint gaining a solid WP:CONSENSUS, a working group formed to examine the concerns of those on both sides of the debate.


In RfCs in April and June, about 50% of editors responding supported change the proposals and about 50% opposed disagreed with the changes. After further discussion, with neither viewpoint gaining a solid WP:CONSENSUS, a working group formed to examine the concerns of those on both sides of the debate.

Unscintillating (talk) 13:41, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

Looks good. The less we embellish / try to characterize the answers the better.....just say what can safely be gleaned from the question that they answered. I am going to be mostly off wiki today, so anything that Unscintillating & Blueboar clearly agree on count me as being in favor of proceeding with. North8000 (talk) 14:49, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
That works for me. But please, no more tweaking after this. Blueboar (talk) 15:17, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
(ec)This version is a direct reflection of Blueboar's most recent proposal, while adding your point that we need to link to a major RfC in June.  Unscintillating (talk) 15:27, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
DONE. Blueboar (talk) 15:38, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

Main final proposal and rationale presented for any final tweaks[edit]

(See Blueboar's 14:35 post above)


The proposal is in two parts...

  • 1) change the opening paragraph:
  • From: The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether editors think it is true.
  • To:     The initial threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability—whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source. While verifiability is a requirement for inclusion, it is not a guarantee of inclusion. Wikipedia has other policies and guidelines that affect inclusion (especially whether specific material is included in a specific article).

The other paragraphs in the lede will not change.

  • 2) Insert a new section (as the first section after the lede, following the index box) to deal with the issue of truth/ follows:
==Assertions of truth and untruth==

An editor's assertion that something is true is not enough for inclusion in Wikipedia. It does not matter how convinced you are that some bit of information is true; if the material is unverifiable, do not add it. In this context, Wikipedia requires "verifiability, not truth".

Assertions of untruth (i.e., an editor's assertion that some bit of information is untrue) are a more complicated issue. If the dubious information is not supported by a source, it should be challenged; but the question of how to challenge (whether to tag the information as needing a citation or to remove it immediately) depends on the nature of the information (see: WP:Burden, below). If the dubious information is supported by a reliable source, the problem should be discussed on the article talk page, with reference to policy concepts such as maintaining a neutral point of view (and especially the sub-concept of due weight). Often rewording to present the information as opinion rather than fact can resolve issues of verifiable but potentially untrue information.



The first sentence of the policy currently reads: "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether editors think it is true." There are concerns about this sentence, and particularly about the two words "not truth". In RfCs in April and June, about 50% of editors responding supported change and about 50% opposed. After further discussion, with neither viewpoint gaining a solid WP:CONSENSUS, a working group formed to examine the concerns of those on both sides of the debate. The working group's deliberations can be found primarily at Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/First sentence and its project page Wikipedia:Verifiability/First sentence; although a few threads continued at Wikipedia_talk:Verifiability.

Out of this working group has emerged the proposal above. It is seen as a compromise - one that addresses the core concerns of both sides. The proposal keeps the "verifiability,not truth" phrase in the policy, but moves it to its own section and clarifies it. It is hoped that both those who are content with the current wording and those who advocate change, to whatever degree, will support this measure as a compromise.

Main rationale presentation[edit]

  • Background: The concept that truth is not the threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia was added for a specific reason - to support WP:NOR in saying that material should not be included unless there is a source that directly supports it. At that time, we had a persistent problem with editors wishing to add unverifiable material purely because "it's true" (a rationale commonly used by editors trying to "prove" their pet fringe theory). However, as WP:V has changed over time, the sentence has been moved earlier and earlier in the policy, and it has lost some of its original context. It has taken on meanings that were never part of its original intent.
  • Concern: The sentence can be misconstrued to mean that any material that appears in a source must be included...simply because it is verifiable. This misinterpretation is in conflict with several other policy and guideline statements (especially the WP:Undue weight section of WP:NPOV), but examples of this misinterpretation happening in practice have been provided.
    • How the proposal resolves this concern: The proposal adds an explanation that "while verifiability is a requirement for inclusion, it is not a guarantee of inclusion", and it notes that other policies and guidelines can affect inclusion.
  • Concern: The sentence can be misconstrued to mean that we may not discuss the possibility that verifiable information is untrue (i.e., that the source may contain an error). Specifically, this reading says that editors need not discuss the exclusion of material on the grounds of being not true, in the same way that editors need not discuss the inclusion of material on the grounds of being true. That is, we must accept what a published source says simply because it is published, even if we have reason to believe that the material is inaccurate or that the source is less than reliable.
  • Counter concern: This was never the intent. We often need to make judgment calls about the reliability of specific sources when it comes to specific information. A source may be reliable for one statement, but unreliable for some other statement. We also have to make judgment calls about the relative reliability of one source when compared to others. As Jimbo Wales puts it, "We are not transcription monkeys." We do want the information we present in Wikipedia to be accurate, as far as possible. Further, as NPOV notes, we cannot omit significant viewpoints just because we disagree with them (or even because most sources disagree with them). Sometimes we should discuss facts and opinions that may be untrue, because doing so gives the reader a complete picture of disagreement among the sources.
    • How the proposal resolves these concerns: The proposed language acknowledges that inclusion of potentially untrue information depends on context. We cannot make a firm one-size-fits-all rule on this. The proposal points out that the question of whether to include controversial and potentially untrue material is a complex one, that involves applying editorial judgment. It points the reader to other policies and guidelines that may help.
  • Concern: Introducing the concept of "truth" in the lede is distracting and confusing, particularly for new editors. The lede should focus purely on explaining what Wikipedia means by Verifiability without introducing secondary concepts. To the extent that it is relevant for the policy to discuss the issue of truth/untruth, this belongs in the body of the policy.
    • How the proposal resolves the concern: The issue of truth is moved out of the lede and into its own separate section.

Conclusions: The goal of this proposal is not to change the meaning of the policy, but to clarify it and reduce the potential for real or feigned misunderstanding. The concepts behind the phrase "Verifiability, not truth" should remain part of the policy. But they are complex concepts that need to be better explained.

- - - - End of rationale - - - -


What happened to ...[edit]

The idea of a fundamental requirement (rather than "a threshold")? I though we'd kinda got agreement on that one being better, too? But then I'm quite likely to have lost track, with Real Life being such a bi@tch at the moment. (Adding: it seems to be sticking OK on the draft, and I really do think that it's not only more emphatic, but also much more clear - there's no even subliminal suggestion of "once you've crosssed the threshold, you're inside the door".) Pesky (talkstalk!) 03:30, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

Looks like it had more for than against it. (I'm for "fundamental") My thoughts is that logically "Verifiability is a requirement for inclusion" says it precisely and totally. But it doesn't provide sufficient impact. Everything else is for additional impact and impression. Anything that does this without doing harm is OK, (e.g. "initial", "fundamental", "threshold", "absolute") although superfluous or imprecise from a logical standpoint. But also folks who said "let's deal with that later, not try to to change too much at once", and I sort of agree with that. But it's still open to tweaks, folks should quickly weigh in on your idea here. North8000 (talk) 12:07, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree with North. One thing at a time. The proposal already incorporates enough changes that there is bound to be at least some knee-jerk hesitancy (if not outright opposition) from editors who have not been part of our long discussions. The more changes we incorporate into the proposal, the less likely it is that the broader community will accept it. If this is going to have a shot in hell of gaining community consensus, those of us advocating change have to resist the temptation to pile changes upon changes... we have to resist the idea that, since we are proposing changing some things we have an opportunity to change lots of things. As much as we can, the proposal needs to incorporate existing language... so potential nay-sayers will see the proposal as a clarification of existing policy, and not as a change to existing policy. Blueboar (talk) 14:01, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
(ec)"Fundamental requirement" is simultaneously taking on two controversial elements of the first sentence, each of which has been discussed before without satisfactory resolution.  These two elements are "the" and "threshold". 
Regarding "the", the RfC proposal makes this even harder to discuss, by keeping the word "the", but fundamentally changing the meaning of "the" by assigning it to the adjective "initial".  In doing so, it introduces the idea that there are new thresholds.  The discussion page at WT:Verifiability/Draft can't explain why the policy has said for years that inclusion is the only requirement/threshold, see: Wikipedia_talk:Verifiability/Draft#(why) is verifiability the only requirement for inclusion?.  So, we are taking to RfC a change being done for the sake of change, based on a pattern of complaints, in the hopes that this somehow makes the overall proposal more acceptable.
The word "threshold" has the inherent ambiguity of using a two-directional analog concept to explain a policy statement.  Unfortunately, the word has adherents for whom the very meaning of the word to them seems to have morphed because of it being used at WP:V, and not only that, these adherents refuse to give up their attachment in response to the requests of others that seek clarity.  In fairness to the proposal, while it has kept the controversial word "threshold", it has manueuvered around the adherents by adding the word "requirement" later in the first paragraph. 
There is a pattern here, in which the proposal keeps controversial high-visibility elements, and then makes other changes that yield new interpretations.  Since good technical writing is to use the same word for the same concept each time that it is used, we are not talking here about having improved technical writing.  Is the proposal politically better for the encyclopedia?  My answer is yes.  Unscintillating (talk) 14:13, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
I share your concerns on the first few words, but IMHO none of current words or options discussed (threshold, initial, fundamental) resolves the issue. So, if there were a good solution already on the table, I'd be more inclined to say just put it into the proposal at this 11th hour, but I think such is not the case. Plus that's sort of a different topic. The core issue that the current proposal relates to is the one that has been the main debate for months which is "not truth". IMHO the proposal represents a significant improvement there, including by clarifications related to that specifically. How bout we move forward on that and then address your concerns after that? While the area of your concerns has been a quandary, I don't think it has been contentious so that might just be a search for a better idea. North8000 (talk) 14:53, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
"My concerns"?  I don't know what you are talking about.  If you want to talk about "moving forward", I suspect you need to be addressing your comments to Pesky.  I made a plain clear statement to conclude my analysis to Pesky about the current political status of his/her proposal for "fundamental requirement".  That statement was, "Is the proposal politically better for the encyclopedia?  My answer is yes."  That was not a "sort of yes" or, "well, I guess, yes", that was, "yes".  Regards, Unscintillating (talk) 18:37, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
Oops, I think I mixed that up! Sorry! North8000 (talk) 19:21, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
I just don't see the problem with the word "threshold"... I think of inclusion as a house with a large courtyard. On the street gate is a sign marked "Verifiability" - If you have the key (a reliable source) you can open this gate and enter the property... but you are not yet inside the house. There are other doors you must pass through to enter the house (such as the door marked "Neutrality", and the one marked "No Original Research"). And there may be a few doors which are one-way-exit-only (I think I see one marked "accuracy", but the sign is blurred and the door is hidden behind some overgrown vines, so it is hard to read). But, before you even get to these other doors you must first pass through the the front gate. You must pass the threshold of Verifiability.
This is why I added the word "initial" to my proposal... it indicates that there are other thresholds, but that Verifiability is the first of these thresholds you must cross. When I was drafting my proposal, I thought of using "primary"... but that word is too connected with the concept of primary/secondary sources and it might cause confusion. Blueboar (talk) 17:58, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
I think that its good for now. North8000 (talk) 21:23, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
Logic propositions for the first sentence[edit]
[header inserted. Unscintillating (talk) 02:27, 4 October 2011 (UTC)]

It is not the word threshold in itself that is causing any confusion. The problem is that threshold is taken to mean different things in each of the coordinate elements of the compound sentence, "The threshold for inclusion is Verifiability, not truth". The sentence is expressing the following two propositions:

  1. The threshold for inclusion is Verifiability.
  2. The threshold for inclusion is not truth.

In the first proposition, "threshold" is used as to express a necessary condition. However, in the second proposition, the intent is to say that truth is not a sufficient condition, but given the structure of the sentence, one may take it to mean that truth is not a necessary condition. Many people, including Jimmy Wales, obviously do consider truth a necessary condition: they want any demonstrably false material to be removed from articles, especially from biographies of living people. Now, this policy does not need to take a position on whether truth is a necessary condition. The point that needs to be made is simply that truth is not a sufficient condition: without a reliable source to back up a statement, it does not matter if something is true or not. In other words, the problem is that we ought to say "Verifiability is required; truth does not suffice" but instead we seem to say "verifiability is required; truth is not required", and that offends people that care about accuracy. It is really the compound sentence that is to blame for all this confusion. If you eliminate the compound sentence, you can freely use the word threshold. Vesal (talk) 23:51, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

I'm with you in spirit, but if you start talking about in-policy setting truth as a condition for inclusion I think that you are heading for something that is so immensely complicated that it would be the start of a 200,000 word discussion which I'm too worn out to participate in. But, aside from that I think that the current proposal is a big step forward in the areas which you are discussing. North8000 (talk) 01:21, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

@Vesal, I really liked your analysis.  I think there are two more states to add to your mapping of the logic.

  • Definition 3b for threshold at is, "a level, point, or value above which something is true or will take place and below which it is not or will not."

So introduction of the word "threshold" comes with an above and a below state, or an inclusion and an exclusion state.  Using your proposition structure, this adds two more propositions, propositions for exclusion:

  • the threshold for inclusion is where verifiability is true
  • the threshold for inclusion is not where the state of truth is true
  • the threshold for exclusion is where verifiability is not true
  • the threshold for exclusion is not where the state of truth is not true

This last says that editors cannot exclude material just for being not true, just like they cannot include material just for being true.  Unscintillating (talk) 02:27, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Formal logic is an incredibly limited tool when it comes to real world problems. Here "true" does not mean "X is true", it means "Editor A is convinced X is true". As a result, the negation is not "Editor A is convinced X is not true", but that "It is not the case that Editor A is convinced X is true", which is something different and less dramatic. The negation of "include" is "not include", rather than "exclude" (former: there are insufficient grounds for putting in; latter: there are reasons for keeping/taking out), as I keep having to point out to people. There is, and should be, nothing in wp:verifiability to suggest that information that is demonstrably incorrect or dubious cannot be excluded on those grounds.

Vesal's original analysis suffers from not unpacking what "truth" means in practice. We'd all love everything on Wikipedia to be true, but actual truth (and falsity) is not something we as anonymous, dispersed and diverse editors can access either directly or independently of reliable sources and the most basic of calculations. It's not that truth is not required, it's that "But it's TRUE!" means nothing on its own. It's not possible to operationalise "truth" (or accuracy, or however you want to call it) independent of verifiability and reliable sourcing. I've said before that if a few examples were given in policy - such as not being able to add unsourceable content about your hometown or the company you work for, or airing your personal deductions on the topic of the day as fact - everything would be a lot clearer. There's only so much a description of principles can achieve in terms of intelligibility if it's not accompanied by examples.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 03:46, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

I've always resisted moves to define "truth" on this page or in this policy because that's a level of philosophy into which so few Wikipedians are equipped to delve. But it seems to me to be unnecessarily defeatist to ask "what is truth?" and wash our hands of the pursuit of truth completely. Encyclopaedists are educators, and I find something sinister in an educator who doesn't care about the truth.

I don't know about these anonymous, dispersed and diverse editors you're talking about. But personally, I'm not anonymous, and there are fields of knowledge, and levels of complexity, at which I'm quite capable of discerning the truth. These include calculations which are rather above the "most basic" level to which you refer. And I would resist any attempt to prevent me from making calculations that are within my capacity. I see calculations as similar to linguistic fluency: either you're capable of reading something in the original Russian and understanding it, or you're not. And either you're capable of solving simultaneous equations in two unknowns accurately or you're not.

In either case, there may be editors who wish to challenge what you write without being able to follow the unfamiliar symbols and thought that you use to back it up. As currently written, WP:V would have it that their ignorance is just as good as your knowledge, and you therefore have to prove what you say to them, using terms that they can understand. This is not a desirable state of affairs: there's no reason why a competent article writer should have to spend valuable article-writing time teaching school to a doubting American teenager on a one-to-one basis. Yes, you should be able to prove what you say, but if another editor doesn't have the capacity to follow your proof, then the matter should be resolved by referring it to the appropriate Wikiproject (in these examples, WikiProject Mathematics or WikiProject Russia) for an independent third party editor to review. Not by excluding calculations that your interlocutor is too stupid to deal with, and not by requiring you to type long passages in two languages onto a talk page either.—S Marshall T/C 07:58, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

An "educator" who can't explain themselves is no educator at all. If you write in Wikipedia, you should expect what you've written to be challenged. You should write it as if it would be challenged. That is desirable. Sorry, you can't deal with doubting American teenagers, but their questions may actually improve what you write. Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:10, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
That wasn't S. Marshall's point. I understand what they were saying (a novice discounting instead of listening to an expert explanation) and I don't think I agree with their plan, but I think your comment missed the point they were making and is insulting. North8000 (talk) 12:21, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
I did not intend to insult. I didn't call anyone dumb. Who is "they" and what do you mean by "their plan"? Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:29, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
I meant saying that it was a poor writer rather than an obstinate listener. Answering your questions, By "they" I meant S Marshall, and by "their plan" I meant what they described about 3 posts up. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 14:42, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
I didn't say or imply anyone was a poor writer; I said questions may improve writing. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:46, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Sorry I overreached to that due to brevity in my haste. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 16:59, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Thank you. Kind of you but not necessary, I am glad an understanding was reached. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:09, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

To add to the first message here by Vesal, the word "threshold" is also itself a problem because it can mean a necessary condition, or a necessary and sufficient condition. This is quite a mess. --Bob K31416 (talk) 13:49, 4 October 2011 (UTC) ────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────@S Marshall. "These anonymous, dispersed and diverse editors" are Wikipedia editors. You really need to take this on board. We don't know each other from Adam or Eve. If you genuinely think editors who want to keep "not truth" don't care about truth or want to "wash their hands of the pursuit of truth", you've demonstrated precisely the kind of intellectual incapacity you complain of in others. It doesn't take higher learning to understand that as none of us have any authority as editors (because anyone could be bluffing, or drunk, or making mischief when they claim to know something), it doesn't matter in and of itself whether or not an editor tells the community he or she just knows something to be true. In this particular collaborative enterprise, we can only get at truth and accuracy in content through verifiability and RS. Ironically, as this is what the majority of editors here understand, by your logic you should just shut up and go away just much like your American teenager apparently should. You may complain about how your article writing time is wasted and your input limited by such adolescents, but Wikipedia is not some poor substitute for getting published in real-world academic journals, or even being the author of an article in a real-world encyclopedia. It's a different beast entirely. The open and voluntary aspects of it are central to its success, rather than an irritation to those of us with the Learnin'. VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 15:41, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Don't tell me what I need to do, VsevolodKrolikov. I'll be the judge of what I need to do.

As for "anyone could be bluffing, or drunk, or making mischief when they claim to know something", that's precisely true, if very cynical and lacking in AGF. But it's also a straw man. I'm not telling you you have to take what I say at face value because I claim to have learning. I'm telling you that if you want to challenge what I say but you lack the capacity to follow my calculations, or my foreign-language sources, then your first recourse should be to a third-party editor who does.—S Marshall T/C 15:52, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Third party editor? If all you want is community consensus to rule in the face of challenges from people beneath you intellectually, then this has nothing to do with verifiability, not truth. Could you provide examples where someone refusing to believe your calculations or your translations got their way in keeping the material out, by using the current text for WP:V?VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 16:02, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Talk:HIP 56948 is a useful example. RJHall is a courteous and intelligent interlocutor, and it's certainly not my intention to imply that he's beneath me intellectually, but the example does show where I performed a calculation and was challenged because at the time, my calculation wasn't sourced. The dispute was resolved when another editor found a source confirming my calculation, but let's imagine that hadn't happened.—S Marshall T/C 16:14, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
The article was improved and made more informative with a citation, because it was challenged -- good for all of you. Imagine that it had not been challenged, then the article would be less informative. Imagining that no cite was found, then you would have to hash it out, to the satisfaction of the consensus, but merely accepting and not bothering you about your un-cited calculations, leaves no room to improve. Alanscottwalker (talk) 16:27, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
It wasn't improved or made more informative. A citation was added confirming something that was already stated in the article, but there's nothing about that process that makes the article any more informative. And my position is that calculations of the form I provided don't, and shouldn't, require a citation. It can't possibly be original research if Pogson worked it out in 1857.—S Marshall T/C 16:37, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
There, I disagree. A citation is added information, which all readers may now consult. The article was improved and made more informative for all readers (although, maybe not you, personally). Alanscottwalker (talk) 16:44, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
I've had an imagine, and what would have happened is that the content you created would not have been included. That is completely different to the encyclopedia containing false information, which is the persistent claim made by you and a few others. Not having true information is different to having false information. The former is not a disaster. Have an imagine yourself - what if it was someone wrong about the luminosity class, but their interlocutor didn't quite have the ability to do the calculations, and decided to take the editor's assertion in good faith as they sounded really awfully clever. Result: Wikipedia has wrong information because one of our key means of preventing bad info - verifiability - was not followed. In defence of your interlocutor, he was less troubled by the calculation than concerned that the classification was a result of OR - done without the oversight of experts. You put together a multi-stage argument to get your result, and it certainly looks to me like it was over the line in terms of OR. The encyclopedia is more harmed by what it gets wrong than by what it doesn't include, and verifiability is one of the key elements in protecting us from such harm.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 16:36, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
A few days ago, I spoke to you about the inclusion of false information. I'm now speaking to you about the exclusion of true information. They're separate conversations, and in fact I have a variety of positions concerning various separate aspects and ramifications of WP:V.

The question of what if I was wrong is a fair one, and on this particular subject I think it's the only place we disagree. This goes back to what I was saying about third party editors. Your stated position is that if I perform a calculation, editors have no way of knowing whether I'm wrong. My position is that editors do: they can ask other editors who possess the expertise to follow my calculation and confirm it. This exactly parallels using a foreign-language source, where I might not speak Russian, but I can ask an editor who does to confirm what a page says.

All this is relevant to the questions of truth and verifiability—and within the purview of this page rather than NOR—because we're discussing cases where (a) the information I want to add is true and (b) I can prove that it's true but (c) not all editors have the capacity follow my proof.—S Marshall T/C 16:56, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Detailed response to one post[edit]

The reference post is here, and the preceding post is this.

  • >Formal logic is an incredibly limited tool when it comes to real world problems.
Sure, but that is the beauty of this last set of logic propositions, they help explain the real world.
  • >Here "true" does not mean "X is true", it means "Editor A is convinced X is true".
No, here true is such that a committee says that it is true.  Trying to turn the concept into an individual editor's opinion is going down the path that perverts our real-world understanding of the term truth into the distorted idea, TruthTM.  IMO it is not constructive to imply here that truth must be defined to include potentially distorted individual opinions, and since it was not the intent of the post, it should not be read into the post.
  • >The negation of "include" is "not include", rather than "exclude"
Logically yes, but IMO the semantic difference is minimal.  And keep in mind that the word "threshold" draws us toward analog concepts and away from logic-state concepts.  But if it helps:
  • the threshold for inclusion is where verifiability is true
  • the threshold for inclusion is not where the state of truth is true
  • the threshold for not inclusion is where verifiability is not true
  • the threshold for not inclusion is not where the state of truth is not true
  • >(former: there are insufficient grounds for putting in; latter: there are reasons for keeping/taking out),
A threshold has two active states, which is fundamental to my entire post.  Your view has (1) an active state and (2) an absence of the active state.  This contrast may be the root of the problem with the word "threshold".  I agree that your view should prevail over those seeing the dual active states in the policy, but the path to such prevailing is the removal of the word threshold.  So, no, as an active state, the "former" would be "there are sufficient grounds for not putting in", and the "latter" would be "there are sufficient grounds for leaving out".
  • >There is, and should be, nothing in wp:verifiability to suggest that information that is demonstrably incorrect or dubious cannot be excluded on those grounds.
But you've made two fundamentally different statements:
  • >There is nothing in wp:verifiability to suggest that information that is demonstrably incorrect or dubious cannot be excluded on those grounds.
This is denial.  Is it possible that the change camp has been working for months on a real-world problem that needs addressing?  People have the theory, people have the examples including one man's real-world life that was destroyed, what is this problem in reading WP:V?
  • >There should be nothing in wp:verifiability to suggest that information that is demonstrably incorrect or dubious cannot be excluded on those grounds.

Regards, Unscintillating (talk) 17:34, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Real world life destroyed by WP:V, how so? Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:06, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Someone from Arbcom posted on WT:V a few months back.  Unscintillating (talk) 18:28, 4 October 2011 (UTC)


Does this proposal seek to make the essay, Wikipedia:Verifiability, not truth, into a content guideline, like Wikipedia:Plagiarism, or an information page, like Wikipedia:Published? Alanscottwalker (talk) 21:21, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

No.  Unscintillating (talk) 21:40, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
OK. Is there a reason for that? The last two say the are community consensus, and the first one says it is not. Shouldn't it be because it is in a core policy, saying what the core policy requires or means?Alanscottwalker (talk) 21:52, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
There is a simple reason why the proposal does not seek to promote the essay into a content guideline... It can't... That's not how the system works. We can not promote an essay to guideline status through a proposal on some other policy or guideline page. It would have to be done at the essay page. If you think the essay should become a guideline, propose promotion at the essay page, not here. Blueboar (talk) 22:59, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. Alanscottwalker (talk) 11:36, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

RFC is live[edit]

OK... I have taken the compromise proposal live with an RFC on the main talk page. Please leave your comments.

I agree that we want to cast as wide a net as possible on this... so that what ever the resulting consensus may be, we know it represents a broad consensus of the entire community. I will post a neutrally worded notice at the WP:Village pump (policy) page, asking people to swing by, read the proposal and rational, and comment. I think we should leave similar notices at WT:NPOV, and WT:NOR. Are their any other venues we need to leave notices at? Blueboar (talk) 23:47, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

I'm not familiar with the "centralized discussion" template / box, but would that be applicable? North8000 (talk) 00:03, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/First sentence/Procedural#RfC management, RfC bot tags[edit]

FYI, There is a discussion at Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/First sentence/Procedural#RfC management, RfC bot tagsUnscintillating (talk) 02:39, 4 November 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/First sentence/Procedural#anonymous ad hoc change to the RfC text[edit]

There is a discussion at Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/First sentence/Procedural#anonymous ad hoc change to the RfC textUnscintillating (talk) 16:22, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

Alternatives? Or basis?[edit]

All this discussion rather intimidates me, so perhaps someone could just tell me. The first sentence suggests that verifiability is an alternative to truth. Would it not be more correct to say that verifiability is the basis of any knowledge of truth? That is, it is not sufficient that a statement be true, it must be shown to be true, or at least why it might be thought to be true. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) 22:45, 9 November 2011 (UTC)

No... the point is to say that verifiability is a fundamental requirement for inclusion, while truth is not necessarily a requirement for inclusion. Blueboar (talk) 22:51, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
I guess the point is (trying to find words most can agree with or follow):-
  • Verifiability is a fundamental requirement for inclusion. In practice this means that for anything debateable, someone needs to have published that something is true. We are collecting information from outside sources.
  • Collecting truth is a background aim for us as people making an excyclopedia, but un-verifiable truth is not useful or relevant when deciding what is good enough to include on Wikipedia. I would suggest that this is true by definition in any encyclopedic ("tertiary") collection of information about what has been published, simply because we are not aiming to "produce" new findings.
  • Just for completeness sake I will mention that it seems to be a widely accepted practice to allow discussion of un-verified information when deciding NOT to include something. The "rules" are less strict about when NOT to include something, but WP:NEUTRAL does require consideration in many such cases.
Does that wording match the understanding of others?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 11:08, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
Both of your statements seem to suggest that verifiability and truth are separate, and that we require one but not the other. Yet the concept of truth keeps hanging around, as in "background aim" and "un-verifiable truth".
Another way of looking what I am asking about is: what is the connection between verifiability and truth? Are we possibly doing the one for the sake of the other? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) 18:33, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
"Truth" is a red herring word because in common usage it is used to both matters of opinion and also accurate statements. Of the two meanings, I think that verifiability helps achieve accuracy, (including accurate coverage of errors and opinions as such) which is the common meaning of "information" as in the foundation's objective statements. North8000 (talk) 22:17, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
I certainly agree that "truth" is a slippery concept. And as it is so often bandied about without due consideration that I have become reticent about using it. But I think there is some validity to the concept, slippery though it be. Therefore my question: have we given up on "truth" as such, choosing this other concept of "verifiability" as an acceptable alternative? Or: are we using verifiability as a way of determining possible truth? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) 19:41, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The short answer to all three of your questions IMO is "no".  Elements of the encyclopedia, on the basis of expediency, dismiss truth as a consideration, and will argue that verifiability (i.e., the existence of authoritative published material documenting the claim) displaces truthfulness.  As an unrelated process, many of the content policies avoid discussion about truth in deference to the usage on WP:V.  However, WP:Editing policy still states that "...on Wikipedia a lack of information is better than misleading or false information", and Jimbo continues to back this clause.  As a practical matter, verifiable material may or may not be accurate, see WP:Inaccuracy#Verifiable material may or may not be accurate.  Truthfulness and verifiability are independent variables with a statistical correlation.  Because of these last two factors, the usage of the words "truth" and "true" on the WP:Verifiability policy page are confounding, and your questions reflect this confounding of ideas.  What we are left with IMO is populist sentiment to confound this policy page with the words "truth" and "true".  Unscintillating (talk) 17:51, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

"Accuracy" can sometimes be hard to define, but substitution of the word "truth" for accuracy creates a straw man that deliberately adds needless complication. That is because "truth" has two common meanings: #1. Accurate information. #2 People's opinions. For an example of the latter, if someone said: "here's the truth about Obama:" you know that what comes next is going to be their opinion. That is the second meaning of the word "truth" North8000 (talk) 20:37, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

Unscintillating kind of confuses me. Perhaps you were first stating the position of certain "elements", then giving your own view? At any rate, you say there is a correlation, but is the correlation purely incidental, and verifiability is an ultimate good in itself independently of "truth"? Or is the goodness (desireability) of verifiability derived in part because it may correlate with (lead to) "truth"?
On the other hand, North8000 seems to deny that there is objective truth, and supplants it with "accuracy". Well, I think there is much more to "truth", and its discovery, than mere accuracy; I would say accuracy is just the very first stage of verification. However, my query isn't really meant to get into the nature of either truth or verification, but concerns the relationship between them. As to popular misusage, I certainly agree that confuses matters, but I don't think such misusage is relevant to this discussion. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) 21:26, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
On the contrary, I most certainly think that there is objective truth. North8000 (talk) 21:32, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
The point initially confuses many editors that verifiable material may or may not be true.  Under WP:V policy, it is verifiable, and WP:V is fully satisfied on this point, that Dewey defeated Truman in 1948.  We know this because we have an authoritative source, as documented at Dewey Defeats Truman, to back us up in saying so.  The reasons that we would not use this source to make this claim in the encyclopedia, are not to be found in WP:V.  Unscintillating (talk) 23:19, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
I'd say that verifiability is useful independently of truthfulness.  There are four logic states involved: verifiable+true; verifiable+false; unverifiable+true; unverifiable+false.  The populist sentiment focuses on the case of "unverifiable+true" as being crackpot theories, satiring truth in the essay WP:The Truth, and trademarking "truth" written out as TruthTM.  This viewpoint conversely assumes that all cases of "unverifiable+true" are actually cases of "unverifiable+false", and this in turn has left the policy without clear guidance for the real cases of "unverifiable+true".  WP:Inaccuracy focuses on the case of "verifiable+false".  As far as "verifiable+true", I think we assume that anything that is verifiable is also true until we have evidence to the contrary.  More to the point, we assume that anything that is verifiable is publishable as truthful until we have evidence to the contrary.  Unscintillating (talk) 23:19, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
For whatever it may be worth, I am inclined to think that ultimate "truth" is unknowable (at least to absolute certainity"), and in any given instance we're really chasing after its shadow. (Like Plato said.) And verifiability is practically nothing, but for being the first step in getting any approximation of truth. Which could suggest "Verifiabiliy, not towards truth." But this a deeper hole than I want to get into for now; I'll leave it to the rest of you deep thinkers. :-) ~ J. Johnson (JJ) 22:02, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

To start with, I'm setting aside the second common meaning of "truth" (opinions, dogma) and deal with just the meaning which basically means "accurate, and not misleading". IMHO the answer is They are two separate words which have no inherent relationship until you define the framework for the "relationship" question. If you define the framework as cause/effect in Wikipedia, I would say that verifiability helps achieve truth/accuracy, in those cases where objective truth/accuracy exists. If you are talking about the relation of the two "sets" in Wikipedia (material which meets wp:verifiability requirements, and material which is accurate/true (for those cases where object truth/accuracy exists)) I would say that they are separate sets which partially overlap. North8000 (talk) 22:43, 14 November 2011 (UTC)