Wikipedia talk:Verifiability

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At Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard. Don't forget to tell the editors the full name of the source and the exact sentence it is supposed to support.
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No. Wikipedia includes only what is verifiable, not what someone believes is true. It must be possible to provide a bibliographic citation to a published reliable source that says this. Your personal knowledge or belief is not enough.
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What of lauded self-published books?[edit]

The idea of preferring against self-published books is they are considered less reliable as sources. But what of a self-published book lauded by reviewers and/or experts in its field? Suppose a new writer self-publishes some theory or examination, and established experts think it brilliant, or the book wins a prestigious award in its field? Seems counterintuitive to bar the book then, especially when 'reputable' publishers actually do publish a lot of things of lower quality than that. Hyperbolick (talk) 04:47, 23 May 2019 (UTC)

Self-published books are not barred as sources. They are simply presumed unreliable. They are only explicitly barred from use in BLPs not about the book's author. But 'presumed unreliable' implies that a self-published book could be reliable, it just has to be proved. Though I'd say that a book publishing a new theory is necessarily presenting something very original, and should not be used as a source except in an article about the book/theory/author. More for our taste, you might find, say, a self-published reference work about some subject, and find proof that well-known experts refer to it and swear by it. Someguy1221 (talk) 05:06, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Interesting. But suppose the lauded book is sought to be quoted not to present its new theory, but because it happens to present an especially well-worded yet succinct explanation of an old idea? Those can be hard to come by. Hyperbolick (talk) 05:26, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
That sounds like an issue of significance rather than verifiability. Someguy1221 (talk) 06:41, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
Sounds reasonable. So if a topic is unquestionably significant, shouldn’t be a problem. Suppose a man self-publishes a monograph on how to build a barn. It is well-reviewed by those who know of such things. If it includes a succinct very well stated description of how nails hold boards together, we might quote that in the article on nails. Hyperbolick (talk) 22:59, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
Self-published books usually bypass peer review so they are usually presumed unreliable for claims they make. They have to be shown that it has good reviews by experts in the field and at that point you can attribute. I do keep in mind that most works pre-20th century did not get peer reviewed. So works by Aristotle, Hume, Darwin, Einstein, etc did not go through peer review but they were used widely.
However, there is less of an issue if the book is mentioned on biography page of the author. Huitzilopochtli1990 (talk) 19:10, 16 June 2019 (UTC)

What of very old self-published sources?[edit]

Obviously publishing changed a lot over past centuries. A great many books published in the 18th-19th centuries would be considered self-published under modern standards. Do we treat those books differently? Hyperbolick (talk) 23:05, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

In general, very old books are unlikely to be reliable sources to begin with - at most they are primary sources. I would e.g. not quote Notes on the State of Virginia for facts, much as I like Jefferson. That said, even if a book was originally self-published in the 18th century, it almost certainly has been picked up by some publisher today. At least if it is a notable and useful book. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 20:41, 13 June 2019 (UTC)
I partly agree with Hyperbolick. Their age plays a factor, but I would suggest attribution. Such as "According to old book, blah blah ..." That way the wight gets put on the source and not wikipedia's voice. Huitzilopochtli1990 (talk) 19:14, 16 June 2019 (UTC)

Why we can't add new information from rural area[edit]

I put some new places in Nainital but it will directly delete by some people. Why not put that subject in Discussion. Vikram Singh Bisht (talk) 02:37, 1 June 2019 (UTC)

First, not all of your contributions were removed. Second, those of your contributions that were removed were either advertisements for your company or barely made any sense. Third, this is the page for discussing improvements or general interpretations of the verifiability policy - not to complain about editorial disputes - see Wikipedia:Dispute resolution. Fourth, I really think you should consider whether your English language skills are sufficient to be contributing articles to the English Wikipedia. Someguy1221 (talk) 02:56, 1 June 2019 (UTC)


I would like to challenge the currently last edit of but english isn't my native language and I'm no expert in the subject matter. But as far as I can see, I haven't seen/found an Edit-Challenge function in Wikipedia so far, and I'm not going to revert the page myself, knowing how touchy many Wikipedia Admins are these days.

While on that matter, I would also challenge the whole page title/lemma, but as said: at the current stage of Wikipedia I feel contribution rather discouraged than encouraged; maybe something to think about. --Alien4 (talk) 16:12, 3 June 2019 (UTC)

@Alien4: The best way for you to contribute in this situation is to go to Talk:Change-advisory board and leave a comment there about what you think should change. It would also be okay if you also reverted the edit, as long as you also left a comment on the talk page (see WP:BRD). --Izno (talk) 17:27, 3 June 2019 (UTC)
That edit was obvious vandalism, BRD is not applicable. I have already undone the edit. --Randykitty (talk) 17:40, 3 June 2019 (UTC)


I've seen a lot of people misinterpret WP:ONUS. Per WP:EDITCONSENSUS, edits are presumed to enjoy consensus until / unless someone articulates an objection to them; this means that reverting an otherwise-unobjectionable edit (ie. one that nobody has objected to previously, via reversion or on talk) with an edit of "get consensus" or the like and no other explanation is improper. To make this more clear, I suggest appending something like this to the end of WP:ONUS: Note that consensus is presumed unless an edit has been disputed or reverted with an edit-summary explaining an objection. Outside of patient vandalism, editors are required to articulate their objections when reverting; simply citing WP:ONUS or "get consensus" isn't sufficient explanation, and that ought to be made clear here, not just on WP:EDITCONSENSUS. --Aquillion (talk) 04:33, 8 June 2019 (UTC)

No... remember that the reversion itself constitutes an objection. The reverting editor objects to the edit and desires discussion. The correct response to that challenge is to go to the talk page and start one. Blueboar (talk) 12:46, 8 June 2019 (UTC)
This is untrue. From WP:EDITCONSENSUS: All edits should be explained (unless the reason for them is obvious)—either by clear edit summaries indicating the reason why the change was made, or by discussion on the associated talk page. Substantive, informative edit summaries indicate what issues need to be addressed in subsequent efforts to reach consensus. Edit summaries are especially important when reverting another editor's good faith work. It's extremely important that WP:ONUS not convey to people that they can revert an edit without explanation (or by just saying "get consensus" or by citing WP:ONUS, when there are no existing objections), since doing so is against policy. At a bare minimum, WP:ONUS needs to make it clear that edits are presumed to enjoy consensus and, therefore, that you shouldn't just revert an edit on the grounds that all edits axiomatically need to establish consensus first, since that isn't true. (And the idea that "all edits must proactively establish consensus" is a common misunderstanding of WP:ONUS.) The specific thing I've seen on multiple occasions goes something like... someone makes an uncontroversial edit; another editor reverts and says "get consensus"; the first editor opens a discussion on talk asking what the issue is and the reverting editor does nothing but cite WP:ONUS and assert that the edit lacks consensus rather than articulating an objection. See eg. here for an example - people are taking WP:ONUS to mean "I don't have to explain why I removed something; you have to explain why you want it included." That isn't what ONUS means. A revert with no explanation should go to the talk page, sure (it's a clear screw-up by the person making the revert, but that's not an excuse to edit-war.) They need to provide an explanation after that, though; simply citing WP:ONUS as the reason for a revert is insufficient because consensus is presumed. --Aquillion (talk) 22:23, 9 June 2019 (UTC)
I would suggest removing the sentence "The onus to achieve consensus for inclusion is on those seeking to include disputed content" because one could just as well say "The onus to achieve consensus for omission is on those seeking to omit disputed content." Bus stop (talk) 17:53, 10 June 2019 (UTC)
I think that the purpose of WP:ONUS is to say otherwise - ie. the default is to not include. That said, you raise an important point, which is that generally speaking ONUS doesn't reflect current policy or behavior - it is not true that the onus is always on whoever wants something included; the actual policy when there's a dispute is WP:QUO. That's separate from the point I'm concerned with here, though (my problem is people who cite WP:ONUS to remove something and never articulate any other reason why beyond 'it lacks consensus', which is a violation of WP:EDITCONSENSUS and the general requirement to explain your reverts.) I'll start a separate section for the WP:QUO issue, which is perhaps more serious because it seems like a direct contradiction between policies. --Aquillion (talk) 04:07, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
@Bus stop: Can you present your proposal separately on this page? It can't receive the necessary attention when mixed with the other issues in this thread. ―Mandruss  07:28, 11 June 2019 (UTC)

About reverting:

I want to revert a change that was made to a Wikipedia article!
Is the change leading toward improvement of the article? yes Please do not revert it. Even if the change is not perfect, it may still prove beneficial with further edits.
Can you explain how the change is detrimental to the article according to Wikipedia policies or guidelines? yes Edit the article to correct or revert the change. Explain your reasons in the edit summary and, if your edit is disputed, elaborate in the talk page.
You might be engaging in ownership behavior and reverting the change based on personal reasons rather than reasons pertinent to Wikipedia policies and guidelines. Please do not revert the edit and instead, try to parse your reasons through the relevant Wikipedia policies and guidelines before editing further.

About status quo: status quo specifically says not to revert. There is no "revert to status quo", only revert to consensus. If there is no consnsus, don't revert. Bright☀ 07:53, 11 June 2019 (UTC)

User:Bus stop, it's assumed that all material that already exists on Wikipedia has consensus, so you only need consensus to add material. If you remove material and get reverted, it's assumed the reverted version has consensus. Either way reverting because of "no consensus" or "status quo" is against policy (see flowchart). Bright☀ 08:24, 11 June 2019 (UTC)

The point of WP:QUO in this context is that all longstanding text is assumed to enjoy consensus. Editors can disagree over how longstanding it needs to be for that to apply, but that presumption means that you always need affirmative consensus to remove longstanding text (and any sort of failure to achieve consensus, whether in an RFC or whatever, means it stays in the article.) This is longstanding practice and policy, which WP:ONUS needs to acknowledge. And that acknowledgement completely changes WP:ONUS' meaning, since it means the presumption, under current policy and practice, is not "remove anything that lacks clear consensus" but "when there is no consensus, the last stable version / status quo applies, because longstanding versions are presumed to have enjoyed consensus and the onus is therefore on anyone who wants to remove it to show a new consensus over turning that one." --Aquillion (talk) 17:39, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
No that's the opposite of the point of quo. Quote: If you see a good-faith edit which you feel does not improve the article, make a good-faith effort to reword instead of reverting it. [...] until a consensus is established, you should not revert away from the status quo (except in cases where contentious material should be immediately removed [...]) There is nothing in Wikipedia policy about reverting to status quo or a "long standing version"; doing that is indicative of ownership behavior. You are thinking of a different status quo essay which goes against Wikipedia policy. Bright☀ 20:52, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
Some edits add off-topic material to an article, or expand sections to the point of being WP:UNDUE. If you think that WP:QUO stands in the way of removal of such material, then WP:QUO needs to be be changed. The onus to achieve consensus for inclusion is on those seeking to include disputed content. That's out policy. WP:QUO is just an advice essay. Hawkeye7 (discuss) 02:57, 12 June 2019 (UTC)
I want to revert a change that was made to a Wikipedia article! box should be slapped on every talk page.Sourcerery (talk) 15:27, 14 June 2019 (UTC)

WP:ONUS vs. WP:QUO[edit]

Spun off from the above discussion. WP:ONUS directly and unambiguously implies that if one editor removes longstanding material, and another editor objects, the default is that that material is removed until consensus is reached. WP:QUO directly and unambiguously implies the opposite - longstanding text remains unless there's a clear consensus to remove it, ie. when dealing with longstanding text, the default is to keep rather than to remove. I've seen frequent disagreements between these, and it contributes to edit wars by leading editors on both sides to think that policy supports putting the page in their preferred state during discussion. These need to be reconciled and either an unambiguous statement added to WP:ONUS referencing WP:QUO and indicating that longstanding text is presumed to have consensus by default; or an unambiguous statement added to WP:QUO referencing WP:ONUS. For the record, I think it's obvious to anyone who has edited for any length of time that WP:QUO is the policy that is actually followed here, and that WP:ONUS, as written, is wrong and does not reflect current policy; anyone who tries to invoke WP:ONUS to remove longstanding text during a dispute without a clear affirmative consensus to do so is going to have a bad time, ie. WP:ONUS applies only to new additions because anything that has been on the page for long enough is presumed to have consensus. But either way one of these needs to be corrected. --Aquillion (talk) 04:11, 11 June 2019 (UTC)

I suspect that if this comes down to a !vote or such, my feeling would be that material that's in dispute should be removed until there's consensus to include it, because IMO it's better to not say something until we feel it's appropriate than to include material that may be inappropriate while a consensus is being built. In other words, err on the side of caution. DonIago (talk) 04:20, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
Much avoidable conflict and ill will results from contradictory and incompatible process rules and common practices. We spend as much time arguing about process as discussing content, and that should not be the case. This has been a pressing need for the five years I've been around, and I've seen no progress in that time. Things need to be firmed up and simplified, and contradictions need to be eliminated; there shouldn't be much discussion about process aside from pointing inexperienced editors to the relevant PAGs.
That said, I'm with Doniago: Disputed content should require consensus, at least when an editor chooses to press the point. If editors repeatedly abuse that principle in bad faith, the community should deal with those editors rather than try to design abuse-proof process policies. ―Mandruss  08:04, 11 June 2019 (UTC)

You are misreading the policy. Status quo says specifically not to revert. Onus says specifically to remove material without consensus. The answer is always keep the consensus version regardless of status quo. If you don't know what's the consensus, don't revert. Bright☀ 08:08, 11 June 2019 (UTC)

ONUS says to remove disputed content without consensus to include. I'm sure that's what you meant, but it's worth pointing out. ―Mandruss  08:13, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
Yes, thank you. Poorly worded on my part. "No consensus" is specifically stated in policy as a bad revert reason, do not revert simply because there's no consensus. Bright☀ 08:35, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
Absolutely, or we'd revert most additions. ―Mandruss  09:02, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
But in this hypothetical situation, we'd not revert simply because there's no consensus. We'd do it because the content will remain abundantly verifiable to the point of meeting the general notability guideline, because this existing article will still clearly be the most suitable place for it and because the objections to its inclusion will probably stay wild predictions founded on no apparent past performance. Those are three good reasons, regardless of an inconclusive RfC, and I'm not just saying that because they help our case. They help our case because they're good reasons. Of course, if there were consensus to exclude the names for a worse reason, all the propriety in the world couldn't save us. Going forward, we should only ask everyone to affirm whether they want to Keep or Delete similar widely-circulated basic information, avoiding pickles where only one option can win or lose at a time. Agree? InedibleHulk (talk) 11:11, June 11, 2019 (UTC)
What hypothetical situation are you referring to? I'm certain of one thing: None of us gets to decide what's a "good" reason to revert (assuming it's not "no consensus", as previously stated, and assuming the revert does not violate a process rule, ArbCom restriction, and so on), for reasons that should be abundantly obvious. ―Mandruss  13:13, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
The Talk:Virginia Beach shooting#RfC: Should the page include the victims names? situation. I figured at least you'd remember, being the most active participant and one who suggested continuing that conversation here. I figured we were here to work toward stopping the madness, once and for all, and thought my Keep or Delete proposal was a step in the right direction (apparently not). I can't see your "abundantly obvious" reasons for thinking we can't (or shouldn't) decide when it's OK to revert. It's exactly as easy as determing a bad revert reason, just look for it specifically stated in policy. Here are seven good reasons, strictly for example. I'm not saying the censoring of basic and expected information about a subject is as "bad" as the distribution child porn, hate speech or pirated media, but WP:V, WP:NPOV, WP:RS and a few others all seem to indicate the distribution of basic and expected information is "good" for Wikipedia. So, absent consensus, that's what determines the "best version" of two possible articles, not some convoluted debate about whether QUO outranks ONUS or vice versa. At the end of the day, they both tend to suggest we arbitrarily and always pick the old or the new, and that's a bad way to decide for (what I think are) abundantly obvious reasons. InedibleHulk (talk) 14:58, June 11, 2019 (UTC)
  • The sentence "The onus to achieve consensus for inclusion is on those seeking to include disputed content" is a non sequitur. Policy and guidelines are often best when they don't bite off more than they can chew. I think in many instances that is one point, and no more. So my question is: what is that one point of WP:ONUS? It has a title: "Verifiability does not guarantee inclusion". That is its main point. In total WP:ONUS consists of three sentences. The first two relate in important ways to the title. Those two sentences read "While information must be verifiable in order to be included in an article, this does not mean that all verifiable information must be included in an article. Consensus may determine that certain information does not improve an article, and that it should be omitted or presented instead in a different article." But the last sentence, "The onus to achieve consensus for inclusion is on those seeking to include disputed content", opens up a can of worms. Everything is wrong with that sentence. WP:ONUS would be improved by simply omitting that sentence. Not only is that sentence a non sequitur, but there is no wisdom to support it. I am defining "wisdom" as "a good reason". Consensus determines everything. Whether something is included or omitted is irrelevant in light of the fact that consensus can determine that the material in question is included or omitted. WP:ONUS should address the one issue found in the title. It is an important point, and it should stand on its own. Our processes address more thorny issues and less thorny issues. And I think the most thorny issues are almost irresolvable. Our policies and guidelines should address bite-sized issues. Bus stop (talk) 12:49, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
ONUS places the consensus burden on those who wish to include disputed content. It's that simple despite attempts to complicate it. In five years I've seen it applied that way countless times and never once had I seen any editor interpret it any other way until you. Can you honestly state that you have seen it interpreted your way countless times? ―Mandruss  13:10, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
Mandruss—there is no wisdom to that last sentence and it is off-topic. Do you disagree with either of these points? Is there any justifiable reason (wisdom) for that final sentence? And is it on-topic? The topic is seen in the section heading—"Verifiability does not guarantee inclusion". This is a very important point: Just because something is supportable by a source does not mean that it must be included in an article. This is what WP:ONUS is about. You don't tag additional points onto this policy/guideline without opening up a can of worms. Whoever wrote that last sentence into WP:ONUS made a mistake. The last sentence should simply be eliminated. Bus stop (talk) 13:29, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
Look, it's quite possible the policy is in the wrong place, and should be at WP:CONSENSUS instead of WP:V. It's also quite possible the sentence was originally intended to mean one thing and has been very widely misinterpreted to mean something different. So what? The one fact that matters here is that "disputed content requires consensus to include" is a very widely accepted principle (even if not universally so, since universally accepted principles don't exist at Wikipedia). Policy derives from common practice, not vice versa, and you are free to advocate a change to policy to bring it into clearer agreement with common practice. ―Mandruss  13:39, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
There is zero wisdom to that last sentence ("The onus to achieve consensus for inclusion is on those seeking to include disputed content"), not to mention that it is off-topic. Why would there be greater burden to find consensus on those adding than those removing? In truth we are in most cases not simply adding or removing. All disputants are both adding and removing, in most cases. We are discussing "versions" of articles. Any "version" during a dispute is merely a temporary version. It has not yet attained widespread approval. But there is no burden on anyone that is greater than the burden on anyone else. When an admin steps in and "protects" an article, that version enjoys no special status. It is a temporary version. Someone made a mistake when they tagged that non-sequitur sentence onto the end of WP:ONUS and it should simply be removed. Bus stop (talk) 14:15, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
Clearly you failed to hear what I just said. You are in effect saying that very widely accepted practice is wrong, and you can't say that by definition of how Wikipedia works. At the very least you would need a clear community consensus that very widely accepted practice is wrong, and you don't even have any support on this page at this point. Argue all you want with any others who are so inclined, but I'm not going to go around and around with you on this. ―Mandruss  14:26, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
"It's also quite possible the sentence was originally intended to mean one thing and has been very widely misinterpreted to mean something different." What does that mean? Please expand on that. Bus stop (talk) 14:29, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
It means: It's quite possible the sentence was originally intended to mean something like what you're saying and has been very widely misinterpreted to mean what I'm saying. According to the relationship between accepted practice and policy that I stated previously, the meaning of the sentence has been effectively changed by accepted practice. I and most other editors are happy with the status quo, but if you find it unclear or misleading because of its placement and context, you can propose an improvement. What you can't do is say that widely accepted practice is wrong without a community consensus to that effect.
If you dispute my assertion that "disputed content requires consensus to include" is very widely accepted, show me a few uninvolved closes where the closer assessed "no consensus" and stated that that meant the content should be included. ―Mandruss  14:41, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
Mandruss—you mention how it might have been "originally intended". So, please tell me—how might it have been "originally intended"? Bus stop (talk) 14:47, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
You're missing the point. It matters not whether it was originally to mean what you're saying, that the price of jelly beans is too high, or something else. What matters is what it's widely interpreted to mean today. We could even be citing the wrong policy. The point is that widely accepted practice always trumps any written rules, although we should work harder to keep the two in agreement. If you can't see that, there is little point in continuing here. ―Mandruss  14:55, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
OK, you won't answer the question, so I will answer it for you. It is a meaningless, throwaway sentence. It is meant to reinforce the initial assertion as found in the section heading and in the first two sentences of the section called WP:ONUS. It is not making any point about who includes and who omits material, which is not so simple anyway, as both sides are both adding and omitting material in most instances. The sentence was malformed and you are exploiting that lack of clarity for your own purposes. Bus stop (talk) 15:00, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
I am exploiting nothing. Forget I ever mentioned ONUS. We go by widely accepted practice or seek a community consensus to change it. Full stop, Bus stop. ―Mandruss  15:03, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
What you have to understand is that there has to be wisdom behind any policy. It should be possible to articulate the wisdom behind any policy. Therefore I'm going to ask you a tough question: what is the wisdom behind the last sentence in WP:ONUS? Bus stop (talk) 15:09, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
  • "Disputed material requires consensus to include" is neither accepted policy nor accepted practice on Wikipedia. To demonstrate this, you only need to look at WP:RFC closures over longstanding text, or WP:AFD closures over anything, which near-universally take a "no consensus" outcome as "maintain the status quo" rather than "remove disputed." (The few exceptions are special cases, like WP:BLP, which have specific policies mandating exclusion due to the enhance risk of harm.) Therefore, the correct wording of WP:ONUS based on current policy and practice is that "disputed edits require consensus", ie. removal of longstanding content requires that you demonstrate a clear positive demonstration of consensus to remove it. If your argument is that WP:AFD and WP:RFC should always default to 'delete' when there's no consensus, you'll really need to bring that up elsewhere, but I don't think it's likely to get anywhere. If your argument is that WP:ONUS accurately reflects that practice, you're going to have to explain how, because I'm not seeing it - "no consensus means a return to status quo" is a central part of how consensus is evaluated. "No consensus means delete" is nonsense that has never been applied outside of a few specific highly-sensitive areas that require it. --Aquillion (talk) 17:51, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
  • I don't think we disagree. My head is in the specific case (or set of cases, actually) that brought me, InedibleHulk, and Bus stop to this discussion, to wit: addition of new content. I haven't been thinking about longstanding content, for which I and many others apply the term "de facto consensus". As long as one doesn't read "consensus" as "talk page consensus", my phrasing still works. But if policy can be made clearer, I'm all for it. ―Mandruss  18:01, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
  • It is not "new content" that we are concerned with. We are concerned with different versions of articles. A dispute is about different versions of an article, with one group supporting one version, and another group supporting another version. Bus stop (talk) 20:02, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Let me be blunt. You are spouting utter nonsense. Yes, we are concerned with new content, that new content being victims' names lists which are challenged long before they have acquired de facto consensus status. But I can't say I'm surprised that you came here, were told by yet more experienced editors that you're wrong, and refused to hear them and instead concocted a fantastical argument to avoid having to admit that you've been wrong all this time. You continue to flirt with topic ban.
    To other editors, I apologize for my tone. If you had experienced the past couple of years of this editor's obtuseness, you might well be using the same tone or worse. I have rarely seen an editor so vocal and so wrong at the same time, and never one with his edit count. ―Mandruss  20:17, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Mandruss—even when there is a net addition of material to an article, there is usually some subtraction of material from an article. And even when there is a net subtraction of material, there is usually some addition of material. You are creating a problem when you frame the discussion as being about "new content". A much more enlightened framing of this discussion is between one version of an article supported by one group and another version of an article supported by another group. Bus stop (talk) 20:52, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Also, belatedly, the policy that I should be citing is WP:NOCONSENSUS, which specifically says a lack of consensus defaults to last stable version outside of cases where WP:BLP requires removal. --Aquillion (talk) 18:04, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
  • I said previously that we might be citing the wrong policy, and I can start citing NOCONSENSUS instead of ONUS, with exactly the same effect: Until there is a consensus to include disputed new content, it stays out. Policy semantics. ―Mandruss  18:11, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Concerning WP:NOCONSENSUS, what is the likelihood that the strength of argument is equal on both sides of an RfC? I think it is highly unlikely. If one side's arguments are even slightly stronger than the other side's, the closer should close the RfC in favor of the stronger side. The occurrence of "no consensus" should be extremely rare. Anyone considering closing an RfC as "no consensus" should simply not close that RfC. And again, let me mention that we are not talking about "new content". We are talking about different versions of an article. Bus stop (talk) 20:07, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
  • A closer will close the way they feel they should close, and any editor is free to request a close review. ―Mandruss  20:30, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Nope—problems are to be solved. We are not having this discussion so that we can wallow in problems and let problems fester. We propose solutions—that's what we do. Bus stop (talk) 20:45, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
  • If you want to challenge NOCONSENSUS, go do it at the talk page for NOCONSENSUS: Wikipedia talk:Consensus. That's what we do. If you want to challenge longstanding close practices, I suggest WP:VPP. We are certainly not going to change that on this page. ―Mandruss  20:51, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Delete the ONUS sentence I agree with Bus stop that this part exceeds the scope of the main point, and with "Mandruss" that this piece of purported policy is quite possibly misplaced and/or misunderstood. InedibleHulk (talk) 15:19, June 11, 2019 (UTC)
  • Keep the ONUS sentence unless it's shown that the widely-accepted principle "disputed content requires consensus to include" is adequately contained in some other policy, or until that's made so. ―Mandruss  15:32, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
Mandruss—it should not be found in other policy. The wording shouldn't be anywhere. It misrepresents reality. Even when there is a net addition, there is usually some subtraction. And even when there is a net subtraction, there is usually some addition. There need not be a greater burden to achieve consensus on either side. Importantly, any version that is up while consensus is being hammered out, is a temporary version. Bus stop (talk) 15:38, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
Thank you for your opinion. ―Mandruss  15:39, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
I asked you to supply us with some "wisdom" behind the sentence that we are discussing. You haven't responded. There is no wisdom behind it. Policy always is defensible. Policy always is supported by a rationale. Why should The onus to achieve consensus for inclusion be on those seeking to include disputed content? Is that preferable for instance to a sentence reading The onus to achieve consensus for omission is on those seeking to omit disputed content? Bus stop (talk) 15:46, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
Anybody down for The onus to achieve consensus is on those seeking it? It'd stay open to interpretation and largely hollow, but briefer and neutral. A bit more logical, too, since those are the only type of people who consistently speak at RfCs. Why shouldn't it be their unified cross to bear against only those few seeking chaos, division and uncertainty? InedibleHulk (talk) 17:10, June 11, 2019 (UTC)

Bus Stop I think you are grievously misreading the policy. Please refer to the previous discussion where the current phrasing of the policy achieved consensus. Bright☀ 17:20, 11 June 2019 (UTC)

  • You can often learn a lot about intent by looking through archives... The sentence in question was first added on 29 May, 2014 - with this edit. Looking through the archives of talk page discussions from that time (see: Archive 62)... I don't find any discussion of the addition. However, we were in the middle of an extensive discussion about WP:BURDEN (a similar concept... but one that is more limited in scope). Perhaps more enlightening... prior to that discussion, the short-cut "WP:ONUS" pointed to the same section as WP:BURDEN. They were essentially two words for the same concept. The edit of 29 May broke ONUS and BURDEN apart, and made them two separate concepts. The next talk page mention of "ONUS" occurs on 29 September, 2015 ... almost a year later... in the context of discussing relevance (see archive 63). It seems to be accepted as policy at that time. Blueboar (talk) 17:31, 11 June 2019 (UTC)

I think that it is best as-is. Despite that fact that prescriptive "what should happen" wording is problematic due to the large amount of variables and factors. First, most of the new suggestions are adding more prescriptive material which would expand that problem. Just like most things in the fuzzy Wikipedia system, the current wording can't be taken categorically or too broadly. And the distinction between contesting new material vs. contesting long-standing material is certainly an influencing factor. I think that the context and preface wording is important. Which is that it largely addresses the common implicit or explicit argument that meeting wp:ver is a force or mandate for inclusion rather than just one of the requirements for inclusion.— Preceding unsigned comment added by North8000 (talkcontribs) North8000 (talk) 13:01, 12 June 2019 (UTC)

WP:BURDEN is concerned with whether or not material can be supported by a source. But there is spillover from that which can be supported by a source to that which is supported by a source but nevertheless is unwanted. Material that is supported by a source but is nevertheless unwanted is addressed in WP:ONUS. The upshot of WP:ONUS is that material can still be rejected even though it is sourced. The upshot is not that the burden for achieving consensus is on those wishing to add content. Somebody added that language. But it is illogical. What would be the wisdom behind placing the burden for achieving consensus on those adding content—assuming it is supported by good sources? If there is no wisdom to it, there is no reason for keeping that language.

WP:ONUS is about differences of editorial opinion. WP:BURDEN is more objective. It is not about opinions. It is about the availability of support for material or assertions in sources. That is either present or absent. The burden is very clear: the burden for providing support in sources is on those adding content. It is a different situation in WP:ONUS. Reasonable people can disagree as to whether material warrants inclusion. RfCs can resolve this. But there is no special burden on people who happen to be the ones who want to add material.

At WP:ONUS there is simply a difference of opinion between which version of the article is the "right" version. Arguments are presented in an RfC and a closer evaluates the strengths of the respective arguments. They should not close as "no-consensus" unless both sides have equally strong arguments. I think that is very unlikely. Even if one side's arguments are only slightly stronger—that side should be awarded their version of the article. Bus stop (talk) 21:30, 11 June 2019 (UTC)

But there is no special burden on people who happen to be the ones who want to add material. There is "no special burden" until the added material is challenged. At that point there is the special burden of achieving a consensus to include the material. As has been explained to you more times than I can count, here and elsewhere. But keep repeating the falsehood enough times, using articulate language resembling that used by people who know what they are talking about, and maybe it will magically become true by sheer force of will.
They should not close as "no-consensus" unless both sides have equally strong arguments. And yet they do, all the time, and AFAIK nobody has a problem with it except you. If you wish to propose a radical change to the way Wikipedia works, take it to VPP and stop cluttering this page with repetitive out-of-venue comments. ―Mandruss  00:58, 12 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Keep the ONUS sentence—this is important in many cases, such as those involving WP:BLPs or political articles. Of course, deleting without a rationale is not protected by ONUS—it applies only when deleting or reverting with a rationale. The default should be to keep such disputed material out of the article until a consensus forms to include it—keeping in disputed content is potentially far more damaging than keeping it out. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 01:40, 12 June 2019 (UTC)
Mandruss—WP:BURDEN is different in significant ways from WP:ONUS. They are related but they are different. "The burden to demonstrate verifiability lies with the editor who adds or restores material, and it is satisfied by providing an inline citation to a reliable source that directly supports the contribution." This is perfectly understandable. There is wisdom behind it. And it is part of WP:BURDEN. Now let us look at WP:ONUS, specifically its final sentence. "The onus to achieve consensus for inclusion is on those seeking to include disputed content." There is no justification for that. That is because there is no objective need for a special burden to be placed on those "seeking to include disputed content." This is merely an editorial dispute. This does not involve the need for support in a reliable source because both sides in a dispute agree that the material is reliably sourced. WP:ONUS is very different from WP:BURDEN. There is a "burden" in WP:BURDEN. There isn't a "burden" in WP:ONUS. Bus stop (talk) 01:50, 12 June 2019 (UTC)
There is no justification for that.—the justification is that it is disputed (assuming a rationale for the dispute is provided).
there is no objective need for a special burden to be placed on those "seeking to include disputed content."—this would be a boon for fringe content and POV-pushers. The default cannot be to maintain disputed content. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 02:48, 12 June 2019 (UTC)
Curly Turkey—we have admins for a reason. If editors can't work out differences of opinion, articles get "protected", until such time as editors decide on a consensus-supported version. Nothing that is said in policy can avert an edit war. We are expected to be responsible and if that proves impossible someone is expected to summon an admin. Bus stop (talk) 03:03, 12 June 2019 (UTC)
I can't see what aspect of your comment addresses what I wrote. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 03:30, 12 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Delete the third and final sentence of WP:ONUS unless anyone can tell me the wisdom behind that sentence. It is entirely extraneous. The person who wrote it was probably thinking that it sounded like it belonged because a similar sentence is found in WP:BURDEN. But mere editorial disputes should not place special "burdens" on either side. Such disputes are ideally decided on the strengths of each side's arguments. Adding new material under WP:BURDEN matters because we do not allow inclusion of material that is un-sourced. But WP:ONUS is about disagreement over whether sourced material should be included. This is merely a matter of opinion. But there can be stronger and less strong arguments. These arguments determine which of two versions of an article should be allowed to stand.

    Also, the last sentence is a bombshell. It is an overwhelming surprise. The section heading reads Verifiability does not guarantee inclusion. The first and second sentences read "While information must be verifiable to be included in an article, this does not mean that all verifiable information must be included in an article. Consensus may determine that certain information does not improve an article, and that it should be omitted or presented instead in a different article." And then comes the bombshell, that "The onus to achieve consensus for inclusion is on those seeking to include disputed content." The last sentence is a non sequitur vis-à-vis that which precedes it. Bus stop (talk) 02:01, 12 June 2019 (UTC)

  • Keep the ONUS sentence The onus to achieve consensus for inclusion is on those seeking to include disputed content. This is absolutely required. Otherwise, a POV-pusher could ride roughshod over consensus and add WP:FRINGE material. Hawkeye7 (discuss) 03:03, 12 June 2019 (UTC)

The issue is about a change being introduced, not necessarily inclusion, it can also be removal, depending on what constitutes longstanding text. But regarding Wikipedia:Consensus#No_consensus — I reiterate that this is what a closing of discussion defaults to (to the longstanding text) whenever there is agreement against a proposal or when there is no agreement at all. El_C 06:08, 12 June 2019 (UTC)

Would you happen to know of a policy or guideline that addresses whether an introduced change including text to a specific section of a regularly occuring sort of article, in a format identical to that of longstanding text in previously occuring sorts constitutes longstanding text? Or one that says each specific instance of the same sort of longstanding text can (or must) be disputed and accepted every single time before it's included again? If so, perhaps we should all hop over to that talk page. If not, thanks for clarifying as much as you already have. InedibleHulk (talk) 12:58, June 12, 2019 (UTC)
The results of exhaustive and exhausting discussions in community venues have consistently been: Handle on a case-by-case basis. If the community saw things like you describe, the results would have been different. And of course you're free to take another shot at it at VPP.
Not the question you asked, nor the person you asked, but relevant. ―Mandruss  13:09, 12 June 2019 (UTC)
No worries. If you'd interjected to answer a question I did ask, you wouldn't be the exhausting and exhaustive contributor we've all gradually come to love and fear. Now what say we sidetrack this thread till everyone forgets I ever asked a serious question, just for old time's sake? InedibleHulk (talk) 13:34, June 12, 2019 (UTC)
As best as I can determine from your playful, creative, indirect use of the English language, you're saying my reply may have made one from El C less likely. I would dispute that, especially knowing El C, but I'll ping him for you just in case. ―Mandruss  13:43, 12 June 2019 (UTC)
Fine, though even if he answers now and even if that answer solves anything everything, we'll still not know how likely it was to happen naturally, and probably never will. I hope you're happy about that. But like, seriously. InedibleHulk (talk) 14:13, June 12, 2019 (UTC)
I can't tell to what extent you're joking. If you're serious, sorry for contaminating the experiment. ―Mandruss  14:23, 12 June 2019 (UTC)
Speaking of joking, I used the phrase "exhaustive and exhausting" in conversation with you on June 2[1] and you are using the phrase "exhaustive and exhausting" on June 10.[2]. Great minds think alike? Bus stop (talk) 14:34, 12 June 2019 (UTC)
I think Bus stop and I are about equally kidding. Hijacking, witness tampering and joke theft are all very half-serious accusations. But (speaking only for myself), I 100% absolve you of any wrongdoing, on account of your well-documented temporary insanity. InedibleHulk (talk) 14:50, June 12, 2019 (UTC)

This may sound like me conflicting with my earlier post but it really isn't. First I'm going to agree that such a thing, taken out of context has no business being in this policy. And, in fact, a prescriptive "what to do" that defines an (interim) end result in what should really be a "case by case" situation is a bad idea period. But, in this particular place, it was to mitigate a common mis-use of wp:ver, in essence someone using "it's sourced" as a basis to force material in. And it was a compromise because we couldn't get in what we really needed to do then and do now. Which is to add "Verifiability is a requirement for inclusion, not a reason for inclusion" and then delete the whole onus section. North8000 (talk) 13:20, 12 June 2019 (UTC)

Yes, the two sections can be merged. Certainly they should be placed in proximity to one another. Another possibility: WP:ONUS should be a subsection of WP:BURDEN. Bus stop (talk) 13:47, 12 June 2019 (UTC)
  • I like that alternative take on WP:ONUS - basically "verifiability is necessary but not sufficient; inclusion is determined by consensus instead." The problem with the current WP:ONUS is that its wording (and particularly the word "onus") makes it sound like it is changing the way we evaluate consensus by shifting additional burden towards anyone who wants to keep material on a page; that was never the intent, merely to say that verifiability alone does not guarantee inclusion. It should probably be replaced with something that refers the reader directly to WP:CONSENSUS. (This also means that WP:ONUS should be deleted as a redirect, since the word "ONUS" itself is the problem - WP:CONSENSUS is much more careful in its wording in order to encourage discussion and consensus-building rather than just confusing loops of "rv, get consensus" or stonewalling by people who think it means they can just say "no" without explanation or discussion.) --Aquillion (talk) 18:31, 12 June 2019 (UTC)
Yes, I agree that that would be a good way to both implement the concept and also fix it. If the idea gets some traction then perhaps the exact propose change should get written. 19:11, 12 June 2019 (UTC)North8000 (talk)
I think there is no reason for WP:ONUS as a separate section. It is further commentary on WP:BURDEN which importantly tells us that "The burden to demonstrate verifiability lies with the editor who adds or restores material, and it is satisfied by providing an inline citation to a reliable source that directly supports the contribution."

We should salvage the usable language from WP:ONUS and add it at the bottom of WP:BURDEN. Thus we would add "While information must be verifiable to be included in an article, this does not mean that all verifiable information must be included in an article. Consensus may determine that certain information does not improve an article, and that it should be omitted or presented instead in a different article."

But we should not add the last sentence which reads "The onus to achieve consensus for inclusion is on those seeking to include disputed content."

Whichever side prevails in a dispute resolution process, commonly an RfC, is understood to enjoy consensus. Any version of an article is only considered temporary while any dispute resolution process is underway.

Those closing RfCs should not close with "no-consensus", thus eliminating the need for "defaulting" to any version of the article. RfCs should be closed in favor of the stronger of two sides of an argument, even if one argument is only slightly stronger than the other. Bus stop (talk) 16:57, 13 June 2019 (UTC)

Disagree. "No consensus defaults to the status quo" is important. If something has been in the article for a long time, it's presumed to have reasonably strong consensus; you shouldn't be able to remove it by just counting noses to 51% (or assessing consensus to that level - yeah, it's not a vote, but you get the idea.) Similarly, if you want to add a massive contested section or drastically rewrite an article in a way that changes its direction and tone, it should require more than just a bare-majority. This both lends weight to established consensus (even implicit ones) and helps keep articles stable - if an article could be drastically rewritten by 51% or whatever, you'd see articles constantly swinging back and forth due to very small shifts in the people contributing to RFCs. That's undesirable. Stability does have some value, so when consensus is too close to evaluate clearly, we lean towards the last stable version. --Aquillion (talk) 19:03, 13 June 2019 (UTC)
That would be fine—"If something has been in the article for a long time, it's presumed to have reasonably strong consensus"—I agree. But what if it's been in an article for a short time? What if the article is newly created? And also, why should there be "no-consensus"? Closing an RfC means weighing arguments and deciding the stronger of two choices. No one forces anyone to close an RfC. If one is unable to decide which is the stronger argument one should not close that RfC.

Please note the discussion at Talk:Virginia Beach shooting#Unprotection and moving forward. It is an article that has been in existence for a few weeks. Yet some are arguing that there is version that has greater status than another version. I find that ridiculous. An RfC can resolve the dispute. But such a resolution should depend solely on the strengths of the respective arguments. And the RfC should not be closed as "no-consensus". Bus stop (talk) 19:07, 13 June 2019 (UTC)

ONUS: Proving the positive or proving the negative?[edit]

I would like to see some discussion regarding the following: When there is a disagreement between editors as to whether some bit of information belongs in a specific article (or not)...

  1. Should those seeking to keep/include the material be required to "prove the positive" (ie explain why the material does belong)?
  2. Should those seeking to remove/exclude the material be required to "prove the negative" (ie explain why the material does not belong)?

Philosophically, I don't think these are mutually exclusive... but, in purely practical terms I do lean more towards favoring the first than the second - as it is almost always far easier to prove a positive than it is to prove a negative. Please share your thoughts. Blueboar (talk) 19:44, 13 June 2019 (UTC)

No, you don't have to prove that material belongs in an article unless there is a question of whether it is reliably sourced or whether or not it falls within the scope of the article. Articles agglomerate. They grow by addition. Those wishing to keep material out have to present a good argument for keeping material out. Articles start with a kernel of information and grow and evolve from there. They can grow more voluminous or less voluminous. Certainly material can be discarded. But only with good reason. The onus is on the person adding the material to show that the material is within the scope of the article and reliably sourced. And the onus is on the person wanting to remove the material to present a good reason for why it should be removed. Bus stop (talk) 20:30, 13 June 2019 (UTC)
I disagree... for example some bit of material may be within the scope of an article, but be considered too trivial to worth mentioning. Editors often make judgement calls like that. So... on a debate about triviality... should the editor who wants removes have to demonstrate that the material is too trivial... or is the onus on the editor who wants to keep the disputed material to demonstrate that it is more than just trivia. Blueboar (talk) 21:07, 13 June 2019 (UTC)
You say "Philosophically, I don't think these are mutually exclusive." I agree with that. Neither side has to be considered to have a greater burden in matters of opinion. I oppose placing a burden or an onus on any side in a dispute that hinges upon matters of opinion. WP:BURDEN correctly requires those adding material to provide sources. That "burden" is justifiable. But differences of opinion do not call for a "burden" to be placed on either side. Bus stop (talk) 22:40, 13 June 2019 (UTC)
It's fairly standard that a "no consensus" assessment means the article stays at status quo ante. For disputed new content, it follows that a consensus to include is required to include it. Unless and until that principle is turned on its head, I think that answers your question. Regarding "no consensus" assessments, I'm not going to engage a certain editor's attempts to challenge long-standing and widespread closing practices out-of-venue. ―Mandruss  09:22, 14 June 2019 (UTC)
Mandruss—over brief periods of time there is no "status quo ante", or "the way things were before". "Status quo ante" does not apply to any appreciable degree over the short term. Note the discussion at Talk:Virginia Beach shooting#Unprotection and moving forward. It is an article that has been in existence for a few weeks. There is an RfC presently taking place. If the RfC is closed as "no-consensus", does "status quo ante" apply? I think you will say "yes", but I say "no". Another point: there should not be a close of "no-consensus". "Status quo ante" arises when there is a close of "no-consensus". But why should there be a close of "no-consensus"? A person closing an RfC is tasked with determining which side of an argument is stronger. If a person doesn't know which side of an argument is stronger, then they should not close that RfC. Bus stop (talk) 10:11, 14 June 2019 (UTC)
You seem oblivious to the fact that you are arguing for changes to how Wikipedia has done things for a very long time—as long as I've been around, and probably as long as you've been around. A change that dramatic and consequential would require an RfC at WP:VPP, and any other talk about it is pointless and therefore disruptive. ―Mandruss  10:19, 14 June 2019 (UTC)
Mandruss—I am addressing the practice of "no-consensus" closes in the context of WP:ONUS. (I am responding to you saying "It's fairly standard that a "no consensus" assessment means the article stays at status quo ante.") You are correct that it is "out-of-venue". But it can be discussed. It is not taboo. Compartmentalization has its pros and its cons. Bus stop (talk) 10:35, 14 June 2019 (UTC)
Knock yourself out, with anybody who has the time to engage in pointless discussion. I don't. ―Mandruss  10:38, 14 June 2019 (UTC)
Compartmentalization frustrates conversation. Is that not obvious? It is not as though subjects are taboo for discussion. Bus stop (talk) 10:43, 14 June 2019 (UTC)
Doing things in the right ways avoids wasted time. Is that not obvious? Maybe you have unlimited time to waste, but don't assume that of everybody else. I think I'm done here, at least as far as responding to you is concerned. Bye now. ―Mandruss  10:50, 14 June 2019 (UTC)
  • 1 and 2 Like most games, the side with the most valid points should win and each side should shoulder equal responsibility to raise points. If both sides tie in valid points, the onus should be on the closer to determine the better ones, as it pertains to the encyclopedia's greater purpose, perhaps after an overtime period. Draws should not be prohibited, but called as rarely as they truly occur. InedibleHulk (talk) 12:39, June 14, 2019 (UTC)
  • I can agree with that. The possibility of a "no-consensus" close of an RfC should remain possible. But it should be extremely rare. Bus stop (talk) 13:32, 14 June 2019 (UTC)
  • El C tells me here that "Those are but three out of ten RfCs I closed that week." They are saying that they closed 10 RfCs in a week, 3 of which as "no-consensus". (It may be difficult to find because it is within an area of the page which has been hatted.) Though I have never closed an RfC I question that frequency of "no-consensus" closes. There are two problems that go hand in hand, one of which is the last sentence found at WP:ONUS. El C says here: You are wrong on the policy. WP:ONUS reads: "The onus to achieve consensus for inclusion is on those seeking to include disputed content." I harbor zero animus toward anyone. Mandruss is also very concerned with the last sentence of WP:ONUS although they do not quote it at Talk:Virginia Beach shooting. WP:ONUS is different from WP:BURDEN. At WP:BURDEN there either is or there is not a source to support material. That is a clear line. It is therefore understandable that "The burden to demonstrate verifiability lies with the editor who adds or restores material, and it is satisfied by providing an inline citation to a reliable source that directly supports the contribution." But WP:ONUS is different. WP:ONUS is merely about opinion. There is no clear line. Therefore there should not be an onus to achieve consensus for inclusion on those seeking to include disputed content. That sentence is not supported by any wisdom. An RfC decides whether material should be included or omitted. And if there is not a close of "no-consensus" the RfC is decided simply on the strengths of the arguments of the opposing sides. The present arrangement is an uncalled-for morass. In my opinion the first step is to remove from WP:ONUS the sentence reading "The onus to achieve consensus for inclusion is on those seeking to include disputed content". As a second step I am in a little bit of a quandary. I am not sure how frequently RfCs are closed as "no-consensus". But if this occurs frequently, I think that has to be addressed. That is because a close of "no-consensus" still leaves open the question of which version of a disputed article stays up. Basically, I am opposed to RfC closures of "no-consensus". I think such closures open up a can of worms. I wish to remain on good terms with the editors I've mentioned. It is just the issue I am addressing and not any of my fellow editors. Bus stop (talk) 15:25, 14 June 2019 (UTC)
  • My feeling is that the most important things about our "default" outcomes have to be as follows:
    • First, the default outcome is bad - it's a failure state to be avoided. Ideally we want a consensus; everyone and everything should have a clear consensus, whether it's to have or omit something. That said, we can't always get a clear, obvious consensus, so we do need default outcomes at some point in the process.
    • Second, the default outcome should be designed to encourage people to come to the negotiating table, so to speak. This is one of my big issues with the current WP:ONUS - it encourages heel-dragging from people who don't want something in the article, because it leads them to conclude that they don't have to argue their position. In fact, when you consider that many things are resolved just by one side of a dispute giving up, it makes it incredibly tempting to try and avoid arguing your position - if you don't present any points that can be refuted, consensus can't be reached without significant effort to attract outside views. This is extremely bad (and it's why WP:EDITCONSENSUS, in contrast, emphasizes that all reverts to good-faith edits should come with an explanation.) This means we should avoid "default outcomes" that can be easily gamed or which reward a failure to engage in the process.
Based on this, I'm generally against the tone of WP:ONUS more than the substance - the whole idea of saying "responsibility falls on that party to make their argument", which implies "the other party doesn't have to make their argument." And this answers your original question - "who should have to make the argument?" - the answer should be "everyone involved." If there's a dispute, then that means people disagree, which requires that everyone state their disagreement as clearly as possible - if someone is refusing to engage at all while still insisting they object to an edit (or while trying to restore an edit without arguing for it), then they're a problem that needs to be addressed. That said, I would argue that the person who reverts an edit is saying "I'm raising a dispute to this", and in the context of that dispute, the WP:ONUS should be on them to articulate a policy-based objection - reverting a good-faith edit with no explanation at all is unacceptable. The explanation doesn't have to be a good one (obviously the other side in a dispute doesn't just get to say "that argument is bad, I'm ignoring it", since that's the locus of dispute), but I think it should be a general rule that reverts made to good-faith edits have to either explicitly or implicitly cite some policy, editorial guideline, or essay that justifies the revert; or, failing that, at least provide some explanation on talk. It doesn't have to be a good one - as long as there's an attempt to provide a rationale, it's sufficient - but I feel that reverting good-faith edits without explanation (or with an explanation that doesn't make any sense, like the circular argument that an edit lacks consensus when nobody has yet objected to it) is unacceptable and should lead to sanctions of some sort if people do it repeatedly. Once they've satisfied that bare minimum, however, WP:QUO applies and ideally the two parties to the dispute should be encouraged to hash it out based on the points of disagreement. (If you want to get technical it then shifts back and forth as they make and argue their points, but assessing who's right, if neither backs down, requires the use of our other dispute-resolution mechanisms, like WP:RFCs. I don't think the way WP:RFCs are closed is at issue here, though certainly WP:ONUS doesn't reflect that policy right now.) EDIT: I'd also point out that while you say it's hard to prove a negative, our policies are really structured in a way that makes it very hard to argue for inclusion in a vacuum - almost no policies mandate inclusion (the best you can do is vaguely point to WP:DUE and WP:NPOV when something's exclusion causes problems along those lines.) By comparison, there's a huge range of policies covering almost every possible reason to exclude, so it should be easy for someone removing something to at least vaguely point to a policy in order to give the other party a hint of what they need to prove. (eg. "rv, WP:UNDUE" is requesting a very different sort of evidence than "rv, sources fail WP:RS", which is different than "rv, fails WP:NPOV" or eg. citing some part of WP:NOT. I feel objecting to an inclusion should have to include that bare minimum so both sides know what they're actually arguing about - after that's been provided, then it's possible to argue for inclusion by digging into whether or not that policy applies.) --Aquillion (talk) 02:12, 15 June 2019 (UTC)

Consensus by both real world and wiki-definition is something stronger than exists in a "close one". So there are situations which are inherently "no-consensus". Providing a better framework / metrics for such dispute in some of the dysfunctional or missing policies would help these a lot. A few that come to mind:

  • Degree of directness of wp:relevance
  • The core method in wp:weight (tally up sources) is impossible to use. Fix that.
  • The more contentious the claim, the stronger the sources required. Metrics for strength of sourcing should include the current ones plus expertise and objectivity with respect to the item which it is supporting.
  • Degree of encyclopedicness of the item. wp:not is no substitute for this

These would both help avoid disputes and help resolve them. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 20:57, 14 June 2019 (UTC)

The alternative to a No Consensus needn't be Consensus, just Keep or Delete the bit in question. No precedent setting or presumption of a new normal afterward, just a decisive finish to that contest. A general uncertainty can still hang over the wider community between close ones, all the better for the narrow losers to refine their argument and maybe get the next one. Save the Consensus award for ideas that smoke their rivals three times or something, maybe? InedibleHulk (talk) 02:58, June 15, 2019 (UTC)
Do I understand you correctly? Currently, the only actionable finding from an RFC is "consensus". You are basically saying that whichever way the close ones are leaning (even if short of consensus) also becomes an actionable finding on inclusion/exclusion RFC's? North8000 (talk) 13:03, 15 June 2019 (UTC)
That's what I'd like, but I'm no boss. InedibleHulk (talk) 16:54, June 15, 2019 (UTC)
"Status quo ante" is construed to apply to a version of an article that is merely hours old. A version of an article that is merely a few hours old is construed as being a "long-standing" version. See the Talk page of Virginia Beach shooting. (And un-hat the hatted area.) For instance "That would be the status quo ante. One version precedes another, by definition of time being a continuum that goes from past to future. It doesn't matter how much time passes." You are wrong when you say Currently, the only actionable finding from an RFC is "consensus". Defaulting to a long-standing version that is not really long-standing is an "action". Bus stop (talk) 14:55, 15 June 2019 (UTC)

Since my previous flowchart cleared up the previos discussion, let's see if this other flowchart will clear up the current discussion:

I want to include material in a Wikipedia article!
Does this material verifiably come from a reliable source? no It cannot be included in an article.
Does the material, as added, follow all other relevant Wikipedia content policies? For example:
 • Is it in proper context?
 • Is it given due weight?
 • Is it free of legal issues?
no It may be included in an article, but it needs to be put in context, placed in a different section or article, cleared of legal issues, and edited to follow any other relevant policies and guidelines.
Is it free of disputes that are made in good faith? no The disputes must be resolved before the material is included.
Congratulations! Barring any other issues, this material may be included in an article.

It's pretty straightforward and there's nothing philosophical about it. You want to include something? It needs to follow policies A, B, C... You want to remove something? You need to explain why it goes against consensus or policies A, B, C... The onus to achieve consensus is on those seeking to move away from existing consensus. Bright☀ 15:52, 15 June 2019 (UTC)

I think the proper way to talk about this is not about the including of material but about preferred versions of articles. An RfC should be framed as "Version A" versus "Version B". We should not have RfCs about whether we should include material or not. Two explicit versions of the article should be presented for discussion. At the end of the RfC only one version should be allowed entry into the article. I think all this stuff about "no-consensus for inclusion" and "long-standing version" and "status quo ante" is useless. The first order of business is properly wording an RfC so that the choice is between two "versions" of an article. And at the close of an RfC the "winning" version should immediately be put in place, regardless of the version that may be in place if the article was protected or what version happened to be in place before the RfC began. We cannot rush to post an RfC. Preliminary discussion may be necessary before an RfC even begins in order to agree on two "versions" that reasonably reflect a dispute that presumably is already underway. Bus stop (talk) 19:48, 16 June 2019 (UTC)