Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/2012 RfC

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Hello everyone, I just noticed this thread on the administrators' noticeboard. From this, it looks like the protection/transclusion scheme that we worked out in the mediation needs more clarification on the RfC page. I suggest that we reinstate the message box that you can see in this revision. I removed it because its usefulness was questioned, but judging from the noticeboard comment this was probably a bad idea. I suggest including the following notice, at the top of the RfC page, right underneath the {{rfc}} template:

What do people think? — Mr. Stradivarius (have a chat) 02:05, 1 July 2012 (UTC)

Fine, except that it is also possible to added comments by using the "click to edit" instruction in individual sections. At least it should be... I just tested some of them, and they don't seem to work properly now for View 4 and later... Not sure why, perhaps it is because someone recently made a GF edit to View 3 which added extra subsections... I think I will try reverting the GF edit to View 3 to see if this fixes the problem.. I suggest that the box should include a mention of the "click to edit" instructions, like this...Kalidasa 777 (talk) 05:44, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
Kalidasa 777 (talk) 05:44, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
I just did reverted the added subsections, and tested the links again. The bug seems to be fixed now! Kalidasa 777 (talk) 05:54, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I like your version, apart from one tiny capitalisation tweak for consistency. Here's the fixed version:
Let's get this put at the top of the RfC page. Could a passing admin please put this version of the message box directly under the {{rfc}} template on the main RfC page? Thanks! — Mr. Stradivarius (have a chat) 08:04, 1 July 2012 (UTC)

Still some bugs with the links[edit]

There are still some bugs with the click-here-to-edit links. For example, the link for View 12 takes one to the last part of View 11. I would like to suggest that any new discussion sections added by editors be moved to the talk page, per the spirit of the protection-transclusion plans. Otherwise, we will keep having these problems. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:04, 1 July 2012 (UTC)

Resolved: Thanks.--Tryptofish (talk) 17:07, 2 July 2012 (UTC)

Too many negatively phrased views[edit]

Propositions phrased in the negative tend to produce difficulty in determining what they mean. (Contrast: "Positively phrased propositions are easily understood). Fifelfoo (talk) 08:26, 1 July 2012 (UTC)

Hi Fifelfoo. Can you tell me the particular views you were thinking of here? It's too late to change the wording of them now, but maybe we can include a clarification somewhere. — Mr. Stradivarius (have a chat) 09:21, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
Views 3, 4 and 8 are constructed as negations. Fifelfoo (talk) 13:09, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
Sorry for the delay in replying here. After looking at the views again, I agree that the wording is probably not the best. View 8 in particular could have the potential to confuse people. Just thinking about this from a process point of view, though, we can't really change anything in the view itself, as that would mean that people commenting later would be talking about a different thing than people commenting earlier. That sounds like a recipe for (even more) confusion. Trying to put a clarification at the top would also cause similar problems, as users commenting earlier might have written something different had there been a clarification there to begin with. For these reasons this problem is probably un-fixable, though if enough editors provide good rationales for their !votes then most people looking at it will probably get the gist. The only other thing we can do is damage control, by replying to any comments that make it clear the commenter has misunderstood the view. That probably wasn't the answer you were looking for, but I think it's the best we can do. (Sorry about that.) — Mr. Stradivarius on tour (have a chat) 02:47, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Actually, View 3 is even worse than Fifelfoo said. It's phrased both negatively and positively:

"I don't think the phrase 'verifiability, not truth' needs to be in the lede itself, but [I do think] this phrase should be mentioned elsewhere on the policy page."

This ups the potential for confusion considerably, and in reading several of the comments I think it's probable they're confused. Either they are or I am, at any rate. Rivertorch (talk) 05:53, 16 July 2012 (UTC)

How is WP:ATT being used in View 11?[edit]

I don't understand the question in View 11. Is WP:ATT being suggested as an example of the results of large-scale restructuring or and example a policy in need of it? Jojalozzo 16:19, 29 June 2012 (UTC)

It's an example of a large-scale restructuring that, in the past, very nearly reached consensus.—S Marshall T/C 16:51, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps the question could be clarified ("such as occurred at WP:ATT"?) for those of us who are ignorant of that example, but without significantly more information about it, I don't think including it adds much to the question. Do you want us to research what happened there before we respond? Jojalozzo 16:59, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
I raised the same question during the process, but IMHO we can't change the question (including by sidebar instructions) once it's rolling. So I just interpreted it as asking one's opinions in general on major restructuring, plus a potential merge of wp:ver and wp:nor, taking wp:att as merely an example which helps define it. I think that folks addressing wp:att specifically should and will say so and only those would be taken as addressing wp:att specifically. This is NOT an official answer, just an observation. North8000 (talk) 10:39, 2 July 2012 (UTC)

Truth: The flaw of verifiability policy so far[edit]

Verifiability does not and can not define what is truth. Until that is established we will forever be going around in circles. Verifiability is a process that says that anything challenged or likely to be challenged should be cited or removed. The inclusion of a 'Truth' however is decided by WP:CONSENSUS with the weight of available information, same as WP:DUE. If consensus decided it's not true or undue, then it's removed - a seperate process to verifiability. Regards, SunCreator (talk) 21:13, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

So, if the AIDS page happens to only have editors who are AIDS Denialists then, the consensus being that it is untrue, the virus theory of AIDS gets removed? In my opinion, if a bunch of AIDS Denialists were to follow in good faith our policies on neutrality, verifiability and weight rather than pushing their POV, the resulting article would be pretty much as it is now. Note that an honest group of AIDS denialists will arrive at a consensus that the HIV virus does not cause AIDS but will also arrive at a consensus that the weight of reliable sources say that it does and that their own beliefs are fringe, and thus will edit the page to reflect that. That's what "Verifiability, not Truth" means. --Guy Macon (talk) 22:50, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
And the fact that WP:V cannot define what is or isn't true is exactly why, at least in my opinion, it should emphasize that verifiability, not "truth", is what counts. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:23, 5 July 2012 (UTC)

Verifiability means to be able to prove truth[edit]

Verifiability means the ability to prove, ascertain, confirm, or substantiate the truth. While it may not precisely delineate what it is true, it certainly describes something about the truth. Please see my comments below, about how Verifiability and truth are etymologically inextricable.
While we are on the subject of truth, permit me to resort to a simile in writing that "truth is like a diamond: it can have many facets." Two people may see the same object or event from different angles, and thus will have literally different viewpoints. Take the case of a woman who has been disfigured on one side of her face and is beautiful on her other side. A photo of the disfigured side will verify that she is severely scarred and a photo of the beautiful side will verify that she is pretty. Likewise, an article may have opposing points of view represented within it, and each statement may be verified by a reliable source. The most important principle is that each assertion in an article can be verified by a citation to a reliable source. Peaceray (talk) 23:24, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
After thinking about that for several days, I am inclining to disagree as to "most important principle". Verification is certainly the most fundamental, and likely single most important, requirement for attaining some kind of objective truth. But it is not, and should not be, an end in itself. That would lead to the situation some editors have been concerned about, that verification becomes a substitute for truth. Verification is a means, not an end. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 18:41, 12 July 2012 (UTC)

second and third person problems in option C[edit]

Could be fixed pretty much thusly:

Verifiability on Wikipedia means reliable sources must directly support the text in an article. All information in Wikipedia must be verifiable. While other policies, guidelines, and considerations also influence content, and particularly influence when verifiable but inaccurate material should not be included, verifiability by itself does not guarantee inclusion. Verifiability, not truth, is one of the key requirements for inclusion in Wikipedia. Nothing, including what any editor knows to be "true", is a substitute for meeting the verifiability requirement.[1]
All information in Wikipedia articles must be attributable to reliable, published sources appropriate for the content in question.[2] In practice it is only necessary to provide inline citations for quotations and for information that has been challenged, likely to be challenged, or material where other policies require references.[3] By requiring that the claims be published in a reliable source, "original research" is prevented. Material that requires a citation but does not have one may be removed.[4] Unsourced and poorly sourced contentious claims about living people must be removed immediately, in or out of mainspace.
Verifiability, No original research and Neutral point of view[5] are important content policies, and all editors should understand the key points of all three. Articles must also comply with the copyright policy.

Collect (talk) 13:50, 5 July 2012 (UTC)

I agree with you that these would be pretty easy revisions to make, but I'm still having trouble understanding why some editors think that second person is a problem. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:24, 5 July 2012 (UTC)

Is this RFC really needed?[edit]

I find it amazing that there is such a hugely advertised RFC about a small change of a few words in a long standing policy. Nothing in Wikipedia is set in stone, and as long as an edit is made with an intention to improve the encyclopedia, no policy or guideline should be used to block it. We take pride in our non-bureaucratic approach in maintaining and improving Wikipedia and I find this RFC an antithesis of our core values.
The question we need to ask is: what difference will this RFC create? In my humble opinion: nothing. In any case, we do not ask or expect our editors to read and apply all the policies religiously, as long as their edits are in good faith and are geared towards improving Wikipedia. This RFC is a borderline example of WP:CREEP and it will not be helpful in any way to most of the Wikipedians. EngineerFromVega 07:02, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

My (short) experience in Wikipedia editing is different. In my view other editors made up interpretations of rules that suited them for exclusion of material just because they didn't like that material. The length and poor choice of words in the rules just make it more difficult, as everyone are sure e.g. that due weight means that the material has due weight in the sources, because the policy is called due weight, while in fact the rule is about a correspondence between the acceptance of an idea in the world and its weight in the Wikipedia article. Acceptance of an idea in the world is independent of its weight in any source, it just need to be an accepted idea. But who bothers reading the rule before reverting an edit with an 'out of due weight' edit summary. Verifiability was also used by other editors to exclude material, with demands that only the most prestigious journals and only review papers will be used, even though WP:MEDRS doesn't say that primary sources can't be used.
Maybe your experience was different, but keep in mind that other topics and editors may raise different experiences.
Note that you can support view 11 ("I support a large-scale restructuring/rationalisation/simplification of Wikipedia's policies, such as WP:ATT."). I supported view 11 as number 6 with an idea that can make the verifiability less restrictive. I think that verifiability should mean, just that one can assign a verifiability weight to every sentence, in a manner that the reader will be able to easily take that weight into account. That way more credible and less credible texts could appear at an article side by side, and the reader will be able to easily differentiate between the two, however, material will not be excluded just due to verifiability issues. --Nenpog (talk) 07:55, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
  • This RFC is necessary because of a certain administrator's unilateral actions in the last RFC (in an incident which caused considerable anger among those interested in WP:V). That unilateral action is also why it has to be so widely-advertised: because editors who insist on retaining a certain fossil phrase, think that the phrase shouldn't be touched unless you've first asked everyone who's ever edited Wikipedia for permission to touch it; and it comes from editors who're experienced enough (a) to have plenty of friends to back them up and (b) who know how to use the system to their advantage.

    Normally, we'd just have given up and done something else, but the bad faith last time has got our backs up, so our natural desire to see the will of the community implemented in this is supported by an increasingly bloody-minded determination not to be cheated by the wiki-gamesmanship that has characterised this debate in the past.—S Marshall T/C 11:19, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

  • (clears throat nervously) I am a participant in the recent mediation that led to this RfC, and I kind of agree with EngineerFromVega that it can be mind-boggling how much time and discussion can go into discussions of policies and guidelines, as opposed to just writing content that our readers want to read. But I guess I come down on the side of wanting to get important policies, such as WP:V, right. Interested editors can follow the links at the top of the RfC page, and see the discussions that took place in the previous RfC, as well as in the mediation. You'll see a lot of discussion! I agree in part with what S Marshall says, to the extent that the previous RfC was marred by a very problematic incident involving reopening it, but I also believe sincerely that the three administrators who had to decide how, ultimately, to close that previous RfC did the right thing under the circumstances, so I respectfully disagree with S Marshall about that (amid so many other things!). But I think that it's a very good thing that this RfC is being conducted carefully, and is being advertised so that every community member who wants to can opine, and I very much hope that it will lead to a stable consensus – eventually. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:21, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
How about advertising it in an advertisement banner, like Wikipedia does when it wants donations. --Nenpog (talk) 18:26, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
I guess the difference between that and a watchlist notice is that the banner gets to all readers, not just registered editors, and I'm not sure whether that would really help. My observation during fundraisers is that the banners actually annoy some users. During the controversy during the last RfC, there was consensus for a watchlist notice, but no one raised any concerns about needing a banner, as far as I can recollect. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:34, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
It might be possible to post a banner only to registered users. Although I think that non registered users shouldn't be excluded. I understand that fundraisers banners annoy people, this is because money is being asked for them, and they have to give it or come up with an excuse to themselves not to give it, and both options might be annoying. Inviting people to share their opinion is an other matter, it is more like an invitation to a party, that usually doesn't annoy anyone - unless the banner is to flashy and take too much space. --Nenpog (talk) 08:49, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
Do other editors feel that this banner would be needed? --Tryptofish (talk) 19:44, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
This was immensely advertised, so for "needed" I'd say certainly not. And during the last fiasco, finding one more way that it could have been advertised was one of the excuses for the tampering, so I'm beyond opposed to any claim on "needed". That said, I have no objection to such overkill. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 20:22, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
Reply to Nenpog: I agree with your suggestion of view 11 and I've supported it now. Personally, I feel that BOLD and IAR are more than enough for almost all the edits on Wikipedia. We need all the other policies because some of the edits are not in line with these two core principles. EngineerFromVega 07:31, 13 July 2012 (UTC)

Verifiability and truth are etymologically inextricable[edit]

Let's get really clear on the etymology here. Verifiability is the noun form for verifiable, which in turn is the adjective form for verify.

According to Flexner, Stuart Berg, ed. (1993), Random house unabridged dictionary (2nd ed.), New York, NY: Random House, p. 2144, ISBN 9780679424413, OCLC 453041986  , the first two definitions of verify are:

  1. to prove the truth of, as by evidence or testimony; confirm, substantiate: Events verified his prediticion.
  2. to ascertain the truth or correctness of, as by examination, research, or comparsion: to verify a spelling.

This dictionary entry notes that verify is derived from the Middle Latin (ML) word, vērificāre which is a combination of the Latin vērsus truth + -ficāre -FY, the suffix for "to make," "cause to be," etc.

This means that the phrase verifiability, and not truth is an oxymoron, a paradox, and a Wikipedia version of a kōan.

I think that the phrase verifiability, and not truth, but rather proffering proof or perhaps, in a lengthier form, verifiability, and not truth but, rather proffering proof of [a] truth would be much closer to what we want to convey. Peaceray (talk) 22:56, 7 July 2012 (UTC)

Perhaps you would settle for a simpler formulation that verification (a criterion, or even a process) is a means of getting to truth (a goal). I suspect many editors take these as alternatives, and that we are rejecting "truth". ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:13, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
A good example of misinterpretation. The second of the quoted meanings applies here "to ascertain the [...] correctness of, as by examination, research, or comparison: to verify a spelling." A spelling is not The Truth, a spelling is correct, according to a certain standard, as in "I verified that this is the correct British spelling of the word", which does not preclude that there also is a correct American spelling, a correct Australian spelling, a correct South African spelling, etc. None of these are true spellings, or The Truth.
The Verifiability policy may be somewhat misleadingly named: it is not about verifying things, in the meaning of seeing if they are true, just as the No Original Research policy has nothing whatsoever to do with research.
However, it is a truism that the name of anything is usually just a name, and it has no descriptive value. The verifiability policy is about seeing if these things, this content is correctly represented as in a (or that particular) reliable source. Verifiability is not about truth, but about checking after true/correct representation, something quite different.
The name of the policy is not the policy, but just a label to indicate that policy. Quite basic really: verifiability, and not truth means something like "it must be possible to check that this is a correct representation, but Truth does not come into it". Quite good, and even eloquent English. - Peter077 (talk) 18:15, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
You say a spelling is not the truth... Maybe not, but a statement about a spelling can be true or untrue. E.g. If it can be verified that the word usually spelt "harbor" in the USA is usually spelt "harbour" in Britain... then someone who says "the usual British spelling is harbour" is making a true statement. In other words, they are telling the truth. Kalidasa 777 (talk) 00:18, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
Well, it is possible to say that "someone who says "the usual British spelling is harbour" is making a true statement. In other words, they are telling the truth.", but only in a very limited context. This can easily demonstrated by looking at its opposite (a particular statement and its opposite would both be common usage in the same context): the opposite of "making a true statement" is "making a false statement", and the opposite of "they are telling the truth." is "they are lying." If somebody says "the usual British spelling is hasbour" hardly anybody would say "he is lying" and certainly it would not be polite to do so. The thing to say is "the statement is not correct" or "the statement is inaccurate". The pair "they are telling the truth" and "they are lying" is reserved for situations where intent comes into it, such as the intent to deceive. For any individual edit the intent of the user who added it is unimportant, what matters is if the edit is correct. So Truth does not come into it, unless somebody is making a statement of something he really believes in, in which case Wikipedia is better off without that statement. - Peter077 (talk) 09:15, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

Revealing the truth vs. not revealing the truth per WP:V and WP:COI[edit]

I'll give you examples to help people re-consider what to do. Kip Noll is supposed to be dead, but there are no exact sources found. One editor tried to synthesize two sources: an obituary of a person with another name and some interview with Noll. However, under WP:BLP, he is still considered living, despite ongoing rumors about his death.

Another example is George Maharis. According to Mavarin, Maharis is gay. Unfortunately, without his coming out to the public, the truth is omitted in this article for the sake of policies applied. --George Ho (talk) 19:02, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

No, it is not a matter that "truth is omitted". It is that "truth" has not been established. "Ongoing rumors" are not a suitable basis for statements in Wikipedia. Verification is pointing to where the "truth" is alleged to be revealed. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:20, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
Noll's "death" aside, I can verify what should be omitted: a blog by Mavarin which confirms her interview with Maharis YEARS AGO. Mavarin wanted to publish the book but could not for Maharis's sake. --George Ho (talk) 07:31, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

Incomprehensible lead[edit]

When I first visited the project page (having been linked there through WP:V), I couldn't tell what it was specifically about. I knew from the first sentence that it was an RfC and had something to do with "Wikipedia:Verifiability, its lead, and the much-discussed phrase "verifiability, not truth" (VnT)". But what we were supposed to decide or comment on exactly was a mystery to me.

The second sentence ("Instead of presenting...") went into the process we were supposed to use, not the particular subject under discussion. It wasn't until I had read Wikipedia_talk:Verifiability/Archive_53#RFC_-_Compromise_proposal_re_first_sentence and Wikipedia:Mediation_Cabal/Cases/27_February_2012/Wikipedia:Verifiability that I got a clue to what we were supposed to comment on.

I do not think it's wise to insist that readers new to this discussion link to other, fairly massive pages just to bring them up to speed. I feel that it would be better, if possible, to insert a summary of the first request and other significant changes before the second sentence of the lead paragraph. For example:

This is a community-wide Request for Comment about Wikipedia:Verifiability, its lead, and the much-discussed phrase "verifiability, not truth" (VnT). In October 2011, an editor requested comments about changing "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth" in WP:V to simply "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability." This editor said that two former RfC's in 2011 resulted in about 50% being for this proposal and 50% being against. He offered various rationales for this change and was supported and opposed by other editors.

This RfC was closed as no consensus. Since then, there has been a mediated discussion, conducted by Mr. Stradivarius. The present RfC grew out of that mediation. Instead of presenting just one proposal for comment, we are asking you to consider a range of possibilities.

This RfC has two sections...

Significant additions are in boldface. I don't mean to say that this is anywhere close to what you should add to the project page's lead; it's only an example. I also realize that there may be technical considerations that do not allow you to make any changes. --RoyGoldsmith (talk) 21:51, 11 July 2012 (UTC)

Sidebar comment, the percentage numbers are wrong. North8000 (talk) 17:16, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
I think that you comments are good ones for the multi-month process when this was developed. But what you are talking about is the prior history. The "what we were supposed to comment on" is fully contained on the RFC page. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 17:29, 15 July 2012 (UTC)


Just out of pure nosiness, what's considered to be the best way for closers to address the issue of "spooking at ghosts"? (i.e. objecting on the grounds of something which doesn't actually exist, reading something into an option or a view which isn't actually present in that option or view, or because of a possibility that something which doesn't exist could happen in the future?) Pesky (talk) 05:47, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

It all depends on whether the closer thinks the objection actually is due to "spooking at ghosts" or not. Blueboar (talk) 11:35, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
I very much agree with Blueboar, and I'll try to add a bit more. A big part of why we read comments rather than count "votes" is that some comments are more astute than others, and skillful closers will weigh those comments differently, based upon the discussion that follows those comments. I think I can make an educated guess that the question pertains especially to View 12, where some of the discussion has been directed at whether the stated view is also indirectly implying that VnT should be deleted. One editor who responded to View 12 made the astute observation that, paradoxically, the view, as written, fails some of what it purports to aspire to, because it can be misinterpreted. Given that the purpose of this RfC is to work towards consensus about what the lead of WP:V should say, I think it's unlikely that it will also lead to a consensus about how all policies should be written. You ask people a question, you get answers, but not necessarily the answers you expected or the answers you agree with. --Tryptofish (talk) 17:21, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
I noticed it mainly there, yes. But also the one in the opposes to Option D, opposing on the grounds they didn't like the use of the word "perceived". Even though there is no use of the word "perceived" in option D ... only as part of the brief description in the header of the show/hide box. Humans being humans, I'm sure there are likely to be others, as well, though I haven't been keeping close tabs on the whole thing. Pesky (talk) 03:31, 16 July 2012 (UTC)
Oooh, and in response to the bit about also indirectly implying that VnT should be deleted, I found that very interesting, because it specifically doesn't say anything about deleting such phrases. It just says that, if they're there, they should be clarified. Not deleted. This is actually an example of the Autie vs. neurotypical communications thing. Neurotypicals tend to look at what's written and wonder what was actually meant by it (reading between, above and behind the lines for hidden meanings); auties are precise. They don;t leave stuff out. What's meant, is there. And they wonder why neurotypicals would choose to leave out stuff which was important. Pesky (talk) 09:58, 16 July 2012 (UTC)
Well, as someone who is allegedly neurotypical, I find that very interesting indeed! Myself, I pretty much automatically think about unstated meanings. I guess there are two lessons there, going in two directions: editors like me need to see how to communicate better with editors on the spectrum, and those of you on the spectrum need to know that we will be looking behind the words. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:26, 16 July 2012 (UTC)
It's unrealistic to expect people who're on the autistic spectrum to grasp the way so-called "neurotypicals" think. They can't do it: it involves reading signals on a wavelength that autistic people simply don't detect. (This is a metaphor.) If autistic people could grasp how non-autistic people think then autism would be a great deal less disabling than it actually is. We non-autistics need to be the ones who compensate. (In my experience the most helpful thing an autistic person can do is tell me they're autistic right from the start.)—S Marshall T/C 22:51, 16 July 2012 (UTC)
I hope it didn't sound like I was putting a burden on anyone. All I meant was that it's useful for autistic people to be aware of the existence of the problem, and I agree with you about the role of "neurotypicals". --Tryptofish (talk) 20:18, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

Moving forward with Option D[edit]

With supporting / oppposing on 4 different options + various side opinions being commented upon, it is hard to say that this RFC has enough unity behind one option to make a change on the Verifiability page, however Option D does seem to have the highest positive comment-to-negative comment ratio and so I would suggest a new RFC solely on Option D, possibly incorporating some of the commentary on the RFC page. That way we could get some clear cut consensus on the matter. Just thought I would throw this idea out there and see if anyone wants to run with it.

Jztinfinity (talk) 00:13, 16 July 2012 (UTC)

A lot of thought during the mediation went into what it says at the top of the RfC page about how the RfC will be conducted, so we really ought to stick to that. But I agree with you that it would be very helpful, within this RfC, if editors would comment on how Option D might be improved, in order to address the concerns that have been raised by editors who oppose its approach. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:20, 16 July 2012 (UTC)
Agree. North8000 (talk) 01:25, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

Why eliminating "not truth" would engender confusion[edit]

Reading Verifiability and truth are etymologically inextricable really brings home how dangerous it would be to eliminate "not truth". It would open the door for 'etymological interpretation' with users wrongly assuming that verifiability is used in the sense of "to prove the truth of", and that would be really horrible. Wikipedia is not a court of law (with all the error that entails), but it is supposed to correctly represent information (and verifiability is there so it can be verified that this is correctly represented). The Truth should be kept out wherever possible: any particular Truth is incompatible with correct information (see the 'islamic truth' used by so many people in this world, which actively endeavors to keep these people uninformed, aka "keep them barefoot and pregnant", etc). The more Truth there is in Wikipedia the less it is usable as a reference, or as an encyclopedia. - Peter077 (talk) 18:35, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

I don't see it that way. I saw that a a discussion of the real world meaning of verifiability. The entire wp:ver policy establishes the (different) wikipedian meaning of the term and establishes a policy that such is a requirement for inclusion. IMHO "not truth" is not only not needed for that, it clouds it. North8000 (talk) 19:01, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
Well, it makes it clear that verify is not used in the sense of "to prove the truth of" but in the sense of "to ascertain the correctness of". If it is true then it does not belong in Wikipedia, but only if it is correct. - Peter077 (talk) 09:25, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
Peter077, do you really think that religious dogmatists are the only people who try to distinguish between true and false statements? That is what a certain kind of dogmatist likes to think! Kalidasa 777 (talk) 00:35, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
Well the pair true and false is used in Logic, but then there would be not really be "true statements", as logic does not deal with facts. I have found it to be a reliable indicator that whenever the "true and false statements" is used that people are speaking of their beliefs. Such a belief does not need to be extreme (there are such things as scientific truths), but the more these terms are used in an absolute sense, the more dogmatism you will find. There is nothing as dangerous as somebody who really believes in a Truth. - Peter077 (talk) 09:25, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

WP:ver merely sets A requirement for inclusion of material. It does not try to deal with the more complex topics of accuracy and truth.

BTW, "truth" is sort of a straw man word substitute for the word "accuracy". It's "straw man" because "truth" has two common meanings/uses:

  1. Accuracy
  2. Dogma and opinion

IMO, an encyclopedia should strive for accuracy in cases where objective accuracy exists. IMHO wp:ver should neither dictate nor impair that "striving". North8000 (talk) 12:00, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

I don't think truth has two distinct meanings. Truth has the general meaning "what I/we believe in", and thus has almost as many meanings as there are people. Another closely linked word is "bias"; one man's Truth is his opponent's bias. Accuracy is something else (I am not sure what "objective accuracy" is, given how many meanings there are for "objective"). - Peter077 (talk) 12:45, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Strategic issues with core policies#Wp:accuracy might be interesting on the last point. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 18:44, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

"The Truth should be kept out wherever possible"?? Possibly there is some confusion here between some particular allegation of "The Truth" and the more general meaning of truth as "conformity with reality"? The problem with the "not true" formulation is that many people take that as condoning untruths — it suggests that verification is a replacement for truth. Which is not the case! Verfication that material comes from some source is only the first step in seeking truth. Verification shows, at the outset, that material wasn't made up by an editor, or even WP:original research (as encyclopediasts we don't do that). In identifying the source it allows evaluation by other editors (or readers) of the context (was the material or quote taken correctly?) and the source (is it reliable?). Comparison of multiple sources is how editors evaluate and resolve contradictions (literally: opposite-speakings). Verification does not reject truth, it is the first step towards it. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:17, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

Agree. Except that I'd use the word "accuracy" instead of "truth" North8000 (talk) 21:41, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
There is "accuracy" in the sense of faithful correspondence with the source, but I suspect you mean more in the sense of accurate conformance with reality. There is somewhat could be said on that, but that would be a different discussion, and I think the distinction doesn't matter that much for this discussion. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:02, 27 July 2012 (UTC)

Preliminary comments[edit]

I realise this still has a few days left. I've been following this (though not incredibly closely), and have read over the page many times.

Anyone who's interacted with me before is probably aware that I'm a strong proponent of consensus, and in closures, I am definitely not a "vote counter".

And with that in mind, I was to thank all of you (including Mr Stradivarius) for the clearly diligent work in creating the various ways to look at this. It will make determination of consensus easier, I think. (Though not easy by any estimation.)

Part of why I'm posting this, is to give everyone a chance to further clarify their thoughts if they so choose.

There are by my count as of typing this, 115 commenters so far. It should not surprise that not all 115 commented in every section. And further, I do not intend to be "bound" by sections. So if, for example, transporterMan opposes option D, while supporting "The current version (or Version B or C)...", that will be included in determination of consensus, even though it doesn't look like he actually commented in those specific sections.

The same goes for various threaded discussions. I noticed, for example, that it would appear that Penulap did not "vote" in any section, yet expressed an opinion while commenting.

So anyway, while the RfC is still open, I wanted to suggest that everyone take a look over their comments. Make sure you've expressed what you wish to, how you wish to, where you wish to.

Oh and to avoid any concerns that I'm implying anything about what the results may be, please understand that I have no clue yet. As I said, i don't count votes, and am only just starting collating the information from everyone's comments. (Which I'll have to do again, once the rfC closes, but I wanted to at least start work on some clerking type stuff : )

And speaking of clerking, <whine> I wish that everyone who adds a dash/hyphen/etc before their username had a space between that and their name. That and some of the various markup made it slightly more difficult to copy/paste for my notes. </whine>

Also, I understand that it's been common practice in the past, but did we need to note on every comment by two editors that their primary editing has been here? Could it have been noted once? It felt awfully bitey to me.

Anyway, I'll be quiet now and let you all get back to your RfC. - jc37 22:02, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

I feel like I need to reply to you about the SPA tags, because it was me who put them there. I do appreciate that you make a reasonable point, but there has been a lot of concern during the drafting of the RfC (see the mediation talk page) about the risk of off-wiki canvassing, as was suspected during the previous RfC. The two editors involved had made zero edits to Wikipedia before seeming to have highly evolved opinions about policy. That doesn't mean there is anything wrong with their opinions, of course. As for tagging all of their comments, as opposed to just one, well, please think of it as an attempt to make your difficult job a little easier, a little less of a demand on your memory. :-) --Tryptofish (talk) 22:13, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
(ec, added later)I thought that that was pretty mild considering that the situations have specifics which hint at something something a level above even SPA. North8000 (talk) 22:26, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
My apologies, no negativity whatsoever was intended. As I said, I understand it's been common practice in the past. I just wish there was another way to do it. - jc37 22:21, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Oh, no need for any apology. You raised a good point. And I, in turn, wish that there were simply no need for such a practice to begin with. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:24, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

I just thought I'd point out something else to the closers (although it may perhaps be obvious). Although the introductory material of the RfC defined what "Support with revisions" means, respondents actually interpreted it in a variety of different ways, so those discrepancies are probably worth allowing for when analyzing the results. --Tryptofish (talk) 14:21, 28 July 2012 (UTC)

After a read through, none of the arguments seem so persuasive to me that they would outweigh their numeric proportions. I would say it's an easy close to begin with, and even easier if one takes the strong / weak qualifiers stated by the participants into account, except for View 4. However, the persuasiveness of the arguments opposed to View 4 seem particularly weak to me, even though they are relatively frequently indicated as "strong," and the numerical margin in their favor is too small to be very compelling. As far as I can see, the only real dilemma in closing this is how to handle the recommendations for improving on Option D. I would be bold and fold in those with more than one supporter and no opposition, which would mean moving the footnote with the historical View 4 phrase into a parenthetical, which resolves the tension between the nominal outcomes of Option D and View 4. (talk) 18:21, 28 July 2012 (UTC)

I would object to folding in ad hoc revisions without a further RfC. There is no mention in the RfC introduction of a need to respond to ad hoc proposals and I think it's reasonable for participants to assume revisions would involve a further RfC.
I also would object to if consideration were given to the strength of support or opposition since such options were also not offered in the introduction. Jojalozzo 18:43, 28 July 2012 (UTC)
The whole "structure" of closing and consensus is fuzzy/not defined. It's not correct to expect that such will be defined in the specific RFC and that anything not so defined is invalid. North8000 (talk) 20:25, 28 July 2012 (UTC)
Even if the only difference from the nominal outcome was whether a footnote was moved to a parenthetical? That doesn't seem substantial enough for a new RFC, but I certainly wouldn't oppose it if that's what the closers decide; nor would I oppose the lack of a follow-on RFC if the phrase in question remains a footnote. My understanding is that the persuasiveness of the arguments, their number, and their self-indicated strength are considered in that order to the extent necessary. Given that the supporters of the options other than Option D generally indicated that their support was weak, that just reinforces their numeric margins, and in my opinion the persuasiveness in this case. (talk) 19:14, 28 July 2012 (UTC)
The closers themselves already know this, but let me point out to the discussants that this is not the place to lobby for the decision to come out in any particular way. The RfC is over, and the three closers are doing what the pre-established rules ask of them. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:30, 28 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm sorry if you saw my attempt to express my opinion about the likely outcome and the ease of arriving at it as lobbying. I wasn't trying to influence, although I can understand how it could have been seen that way. But are you really suggesting that someone who was attempting to influence the outcome should not express their desire? If so, for what reason? Is there a rule to that effect? (talk) 22:44, 28 July 2012 (UTC)
Please don't worry about it. My thinking is mainly that these kinds of discussions have a tendency, historically, to take on a life of their own. People start thinking "hey, I better get my opinion in there, or the result might go the other way!", and that leads to a tl;dr discussion where everyone seems to be trying to get the last word in. And it really doesn't accomplish anything, because the closers are going to look at the actual RfC, which is closed. There's no rule against it. It's just unproductive, and I hoped to prevent it from becoming a waste of energy. --Tryptofish (talk) 13:56, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

The "close look at "support with revision" comments" note above might not be just to find convincing arguments. It might be where the respondent is against the core idea of the version. I read through and found just 2-3 of these; they were under "A" and "B" where they sort of said "support if you take VNT out", where a core point of those two was retention of VNT. North8000 (talk) 13:19, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

Closing in progress[edit]

Just a brief note to reassure everyone that we are hard at work preparing the closing statements, and we should be in a position to post it soon. Thank you all for your patience, and most especially thank you for having worked hard at making a well-formed RfC and conducting it in a collaborative, mature and productive fashion.

If all our heated disputes were handled in such a fashion, the Arbitration Committee could start contemplating collective retirement playing golf or knitting.  :-) — Coren (talk) 18:24, 28 July 2012 (UTC)

And maybe the rest of us could start editing real articles! :-) --Tryptofish (talk) 20:31, 28 July 2012 (UTC)
A further brief update; all three closers have settled on a closing statement. We're just waiting for one of us to wake up so they can copy their statement to the page and sign and we're ready to post. — Coren (talk) 14:50, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
All three closers now having written their own conclusion and signed the joint summary in Wikipedia:Verifiability/2012 RfC/Closing statements, I've copied the conclusion to the main RfC page. This concludes, as far as I can tell, the closure of this RfC.  Sandstein  06:08, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Congratulations and thanks for all the hard work. Just a small point, but if you feel you must use the term "lede" could you please link to WP:Lede (and thus to Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section) for clarity. Newer contributors to en.wp won't know the term, and some don't have English as their first language. Lede doesn't appear in most dictionaries (except as nation, people or man) and anyway outside wikipedia it refers to only the first sentence or paragraph of an article, not an entire section (source). Thanks - Pointillist (talk) 08:17, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. I wouldn't object to changing the word "lede" in the closing statement to the wikilinked "lead section". (The MoS says that the alternative spelling "lede" is deprecated on Wikipedia because of its journalistic overtones.)  Sandstein  08:57, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
I agree "lead section" would be better. I'm afraid lede sounds a bit like something only the "in crowd" are expected to understand! - Pointillist (talk) 09:24, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
I don't mind either, of course, though I admit 'lede' always sounds the the right word to mean "introductory paragraphs that introduce and summarize the rest". But then again, I've been around WP since 2003 and it might well have entered my day to day vocabulary here.  :-) — Coren (talk) 10:20, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Thank you to all the closers for doing a tough job very well, and in a very short space of time! You have all been a great help in ensuring this RfC is drama-free. — Mr. Stradivarius (have a chat) 12:10, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Transclusion issues with the closing templates[edit]

Currently, the following text

"The above discussion is preserved as an archive. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section."

appears twice at the bottom of the RfC page. To fix it, could a passing admin carry out the steps below?

Please put the following code at the very top of Wikipedia:Verifiability/2012 RfC/Comments:

<noinclude>{{discussion top}}</noinclude>

Please put "noinclude" tags around the existing {{discussion bottom}} template at the bottom of Wikipedia:Verifiability/2012 RfC/Comments, so that it looks like this: <noinclude>{{discussion bottom}}</noinclude>

Thanks! — Mr. Stradivarius (have a chat) 12:07, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

 Done — Coren (talk) 13:08, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Mmm, that's not quite it - with the way you did it, we can still see a stray {{discussion bottom}} on both the main page and the subpage. If you do it the way I outlined then you can have both pages enclosed in the closing templates, and they won't interfere with each other. Or you could just remove the {{discussion bottom}} text from the subpage if you think that would be better. I'll leave that up to you. — Mr. Stradivarius (have a chat) 15:12, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
It renders okay to me by simply removing it. This morning's edit was done on the bus with my iPad; bad idea when one is trying to fix a subtle bit of formatting on a long page.  :-) — Coren (talk) 17:05, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Oops, it looks like I forgot to reply here before. Thanks for the fix - it's looking just fine now. :) — Mr. Stradivarius (have a chat) 11:14, 5 August 2012 (UTC)


What an adventure! Thanks are due to the zillions of people who worked on the entire process. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 12:10, 30 July 2012 (UTC)