Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/Archive 11

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Archive 5 Archive 9 Archive 10 Archive 11 Archive 12 Archive 13 Archive 15

Can blogs serve to verify prevalent opinions

Consider this an informal poll. I've repeatedly tried to add criticism to The Guardian, but everytime I do so my edits are reverted on the superficial basis that 'blogs arent veriable sources.' While I don't agree with this premise at all, I can still see how some Wikipedia users would rationally discount all blogs as sources of facts. However, there simply is no argument that blogs cannot be used on Wikipedia as sources of opinions. If multiple blogs all express similar opinions regarding a publication's pov, then this should posted as a widely held belief about the publication. So the question I pose is: Can users source blogs for opinions? Tchadienne 17:45, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

No. KillerChihuahua?!? 17:46, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
Combing through blogs in an attempt to report on popular opinion is a Wikipedia:No original research problem. We're not in the business of "taking the pulse of public opinion"; we summarise experts who do that. Jkelly 17:52, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
As above, that's original research, and not particulary scientific at that. Jayjg (talk) 18:06, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
Agreed, with a limiting exception. Some "blogs" are really daily columns written by reporters and commentators in the course of their duties and maintained by the reputable media organizations for which they write. Since the organization's reputation is still on the line, I would tend to assume those are reliable. Robert A.West (Talk) 18:47, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
I mostly concur with KillerChihuahua and Jkelly. The vast majority of blogs are highly unreliable. I am inclined to agree with Robert A West, but only to the extent that the news organization hosting the blog is reputable. For example, MSNBC maintains a blog which several of its most famous reporters jointly contribute to under their own names. Because they are putting their reputations on the line (although in a more personal writing style than the standard writing or speaking style they normally use), I would consider that source to be reliable.
If Tchadienne wishes to add criticism of the Guardian, he/she should be able to find at least one legitimate source in online databases like ProQuest and Infotrac that attacks the Guardian (for example, many journalists in the United States have attacked the New York Times in a variety of published articles, and one can cite them as reliable sources). If no such source exists with regard to the Guardian, then it is possible that Tchadienne's critical view is original research which no legitimate author or journalist has adopted. --Coolcaesar 19:20, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
And it should also be possible to source both halves of the statement: "The Guardian said X, the facts were Y"; even if you heard about it from a blog. The problem with including "this blog criticized the Guardian", is that even if true (and that statement is verifiable), the blog is a primary source, and we don't want to give undue weight to it. There are papers nearer to me than Manchester that I think suitable only for birdcage lining, but I don't say that in their articles, even to cite my own blog on the subject. Septentrionalis 19:54, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Tchadienne is attempting to protest this removal. The merits of his edit belong on Talk:The Guardian, not here; the overall question of what to do in such situations is still worth talking about. Septentrionalis 20:03, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Ignoring any specifics with relation to The Guardian, my personal view is that it ought to be possible to source an uncontentious opinion from a blog. For the sake of WP:NPOV it ought to be balanced by an uncontentious contrary opinion from somewhere else. For the sake of notability (which goes to whether or not the information is encyclopedic), we should only quote opinions of people who are important enough (for which the threshold is probably higher than being important enough to justify their own article). This is currently discouraged by the way this policy page is written, although I believe it to fall within the letter of the policy itself (i.e. the three points in the callout near the top of the page).
As to the specifics, I believe the blog opinions in question are highly contentious, because they make extreme claims. Just as exceptional claims require exception evidence, extreme opinions have to come from more noteworthy sources than every-day ones. JulesH 08:19, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
It doesn't matter whether an opinion is contentious or not, blogs are not reliable sources. If an opinion is significant, then surely you can find it expressed in a published, reliable source. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 10:52, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
Don't you see the flaw in your argument? You're automatically discounting all blogs as unreliable - but blogs are published sources, and Jihad Watch, the most important site I noted, is widely considered reliable. Heck, look at the Mideast Dispatch Archive[1]. That has Guardian writers criticizing their own paper for being anti-Semitic! How can you even defend your position (on either case, both in the broad sense of discounting all blogs and in this specific case)? Tchadienne 16:36, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
By their very nature, blogs are unreliable, because they lack editorial oversight, which is mainstay principal of Wikipedia's policies against disreputable sources. Matt Devonshire2.jpgMorton DevonshireYo
That's true for well-known subjects that are likely to appeal to a wide variety of readers (e.g., whether or not the Guardian is anti-semitic). However, one of Wikipedia's greatest strengths (IMO) is that it caters to niches that interest too few people for mainstream publishers to print opinions about. I mean, just picking a random article: I doubt there's much in mainstream media about KJNO, but if somebody noteworthy expressed an opinion about it, on their own blog, I think that should be suitable for inclusion in that article. Arguments about significance of opinion don't belong under the category of verifiability. The only question, in my mind, is whether the blog is reliable. And in my mind this is the case: blogs are (generally) reliable indications of the opinions of the blog author. Perhaps it needs to be possible to verify the ownership of the blog, I wouldn't argue with that one. But I fail to see how a blog could possibly not be reliable as to its author's own opinions. JulesH 10:41, 6 August 2006 (UTC)
No, blogs aren't reliable sources for the widespread existence of the opinions expressed in them because it's too easy to start one... and because not everybody has one. If virtually everybody in the United States had a blog, then you might be able to argue that a sampling of blogs would constitute some kind of reasonable sampling of opinion. But, as of 2006, that's not true.
Second, blogs are intrinsically unreliable because the reason why many people start them is precisely to enhance the visibility of their personal point of view. Few people will start a blog in order to opine that ice cream is tasty or that murder is morally wrong... and if they did, it's not likely that they would attract a large following or that other bloggers would link to or copy them.
A third problem is that blogs, like junk emails, are subject to wildly unstable positive feedback effects. Yesterday, I received an email headed, rather bizarrely, "The Red Planet is about to be spectacular!" It stated that "This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history." Now, I have no idea what's really going on... whether this is an intentional hoax or an _unintentional_ hoax... because the email is a reasonably accurate, if overhyped, description of the Mars opposition which occurred _in 2003_. Right now, if you sampled the email traffic in the United States, you might get data supporting the conclusion that many people hold the opinion that there will be a close opposition of Mars in 2006. Perhaps right now that might even be true. But they will only hold that opinion for a short time: until they happen to ask someone who knows... or until they look at the night sky. Dpbsmith (talk) 16:59, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
Of course it wouldn't be encyclopedic to cite somebody's opinion about something that can be determined either true or false as a fact. Opinions should only ever be used in discussion about subjective matters, e.g. whether a particular artist's later work is better than his earlier work, or whatever. Also, I feel all opinions should be sourced to somebody who is named in the article and is noteworthy on their own merits. This discounts the argument about "widespread existence of opinions" -- tell me who has that opinion, and why I should feel their opinion matters. JulesH 10:45, 6 August 2006 (UTC)
If a Gallup poll shows that 18% of Americans believe that the Sun orbits the Earth, that is a significant fact, even though, patently, those who so believe are not experts in any sense. The main contrast between the Gallup poll and a Wikipedian's sampling of blogs is that the latter violates NOR, while the former does not. Both are verifiable in the sense that the blogs are out there. Verifiability is necessary but not sufficient. Robert A.West (Talk) 15:35, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. However, there are cases (e.g. when citing a single opinion from a single blog) that wouldn't be original research. The question is whether this is verifiable or not. The current policy seems to suggest it isn't, although this does contradict common-sense. I see no reason why a self-published document shouldn't be used as verification of its author's opinion. If that author's opinion is encyclopedic, and is used in a way that doesn't violate WP:NPOV or WP:NOR, I don't see why it shouldn't be used. But policy certainly suggests that it can't. This is illogical, IMO. JulesH 16:03, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
I think this section has addressed at least four distinguishable questions, with different answers:
  1. Can a survey of blogs serve to verify that an opinion is prevalent? No, because of NOR. Moreover, sampling blogs is a lazy research technique that will produce transient results of questionable value.
  2. Can a single blog serve as a source that an opinion is prevalent? Normally not. One writer does not make an opinion prevalent, and a blog is not a reliable poll. If the blog references a reliable poll, there should be other sources for it.
  3. What about a "blog" that is really a column in a personal style written by reliable reporters or experts and subject to editorial control by a reliable organization? That is probably a different matter, but a regular, more considered, column or article would still be a better source.
  4. Can a single blog serve as a source for its author's opinion? Yes, but for nearly all authors, their opinion is unencyclopedic and blogs are often ephemeral. If the opinion is really worthwhile, there will usually be other sources for it that will also provide context.
In short, never say never, but this section probably contains more words than could be validly included in the whole of Wikipedia for the sort of exception we are discussing. Robert A.West (Talk) 16:30, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
Especially since #4 is already included on the policy page, under using self-published sources about their authors, so any encyclopedic content of that sort is already permissible. Septentrionalis 20:19, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
Yes, but according to that policy, only on a page about the author. So, for instance, we couldn't include Nigella Lawson's self-published opinion about Cornish pasties on the latter page, although we could include it on the former. I think the latter should be acceptable so long as the information is encyclopedic. However rare such a situation is. JulesH 06:59, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
Any finite set of finite policies will either be incomplete or inconsistent. That's what IAR is for. If the opinion is clearly relevant, and the blog is clearly done for attribution by a top expert on the subject, then I can't see any objection under any policy we have. Trying to craft an explicit exception to cover the case strikes me as troll fodder. Robert A.West (Talk) 18:01, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Talk page remarks are not a citable source

Can someone possibly help out at political machine? On the talk page I suggested what direction someone might go to get his concerns about Parma, Ohio appropriately into the article. Instead of getting my point, he seems to have viewed my talk page remarks as a reliable source. I don't think I could have been clearer that I did not have citable sources for what I was asserting. - Jmabel | Talk 05:03, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

I requested a source; if not supplied (and it won't be) the paragraph can go. Septentrionalis 22:13, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Verifiability and partisanship

Shouldn't claims made about living persons or organizations by partisan organizations on both ends of the political spectrum need third-party source verification? Otherwise, as far as I can see allowing unsupported assertions to be used as evidence undermines Wikipedia's credibility?

I suggest adding a rule that all assertions made by partisan organizations--groups advancing a definite viewpoint--should require some sort of independent verification, e.g. direct quotes taken in context or news articles from reliable sources.

In biographies of living individuals, the burden of proof should be on the person/group making the accusation to remove the potential of WP:LIBEL.--146.145.70.200 19:39, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Before anyone devotes too much time to debating this with 146. here, they should probably read Wikipedia:Requests_for_comment/Pravknight first. FeloniousMonk 20:49, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Changing numbers

I noticed 69.248.76.129 (talk · contribs) changed a number of years of birth. Should we start footnoting every piece of data in an article? Probably would not be a bad idea to have a reference for the birthdate in a bio. Gimmetrow 23:23, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

It would be a really good idea. Not that it would do much to prevent that kind of vandalism. It's actually not so easy to do, and I suspect it would be a little embarrassing initially since I suspect most Wikipedia birth and death dates are actually lifted from reference books... which of course, probably got them from other reference books, etc. and are probably many steps removed from good source material.
On the few occasions I've tried to source birth and death dates I've found it to be quite an interesting and surprisingly difficult exercise. See the second and third notes to Elsie de Wolfe to see what happened when I tried this. Dpbsmith (talk) 00:16, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
I've seen death dates reported as nearly a month before a battle in which the person is reported (by the same source) to have fought. (A friend had to check the Gesta Henrici Quinti to clear that one up). I have seen discrepancies of ten years in the date of a marriage. One on-line reference to the peerage had a pointer error that resulted in one woman's being listed as her own great-great-grandmother! Lots of fun! Robert A.West (Talk) 03:51, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
Plus, of course, the small difference between Old Style and New Style dates... before they merged Washington and Lincoln into President's Day and making holidays fall on Mondays and Fridays, everyone knew that "Washington's Birthday" was celebrated on February 22nd... making it easy to win properly bets about when he was born. I notice that our article on George Washington doesn't make the issue clear, either. Hmmm... what does the Manual of Style have to say about this? Not much. Of course it doesn't matter when only the year is given, but when the month and day of an event that occurred under the Julian calendar is mentioned, shouldn't the Old Style date be noted somewhere? Dpbsmith (talk) 09:55, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
Re. MoS: Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Different calendars --Francis Schonken 10:18, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
(Strikes forehead with base of palm) Duh. Thanks. Dpbsmith (talk) 01:52, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Is there an appropriate way to handle conflicting sources? Two cases:

  1. Person has a resume online giving one date, but most other sources (and ancestry.com) give another date. A phrase stating that the person's resume "may have a reason to represent a different age" was removed as OR. I can buy that, but on the other hand WP is not an indiscriminate collection of information.
  2. For another person, unofficial but "reliable" sources differ. A live-TV interview confirms one date. How can that be referenced? There is no "official" transcript for verification.

It's amusing that some editors still change the numbers even with a footnote in place. It seems like only a tiny percentage of readers ever read the notes or check the sources. Gimmetrow 14:43, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

If there are conflicting reliable sources, you could quote both. "According to a TV special, XYZ was born in 1945, but according to his official biography he was born in 1948" ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 14:48, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, but as you know sources come in degrees of reliability. For celebrities (both of these cases), the usual sources are IMDb and TV.com, which are of questionable reliability. We could list them all, but then it seems like an indiscriminate collection of information. In both of these cases, there are fairly good reasons to prefer one date over the other. In the first case, in fact, both dates are footnoted, but it seems like we should make some comment about why one should be preferred over the other. In the second case, the person has stated a date (and there is no reason to think it was intentional misinformation), but in a format that I'm not sure how to reference. Gimmetrow 15:00, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

WP:V & self-references

Ok, so per WP:V you must cite reliable sources for information in articles. When there is an article about a website, and the references are only links from that same website, a common-sensicial reading of WP:V tells me that it still fails WP:V because it doesn't quote any other sources. However, in the subsection "Self-published and dubious sources in articles about themselves", it says:

Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/Archive 11| Material from self-published sources, and other published sources of dubious reliability, may be used as sources of information about themselves in articles about themselves Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/Archive 11

See this AfD for an example of users arguing that these self-references are sufficient enough for it to pass WP:V: Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/WoWWiki (second nomination). Which argument is correct? --AbsolutDan (talk) 14:47, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

It is quite simple, really: Material from self-published sources may be used in articles about themselves, with caution., but if there is no other material from secondary sources, then this subject may be not notable to have an article in Wikipedia. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 14:53, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Makes sense to me, but does it state something to that effect somewhere in a guideline or policy? --AbsolutDan (talk) 14:57, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
One of the common mistakes that editors make is to take a single policy in isolation. If you take WP:NPOV, WP:V, and WP:NOR together as a whole, you will have all you need to make a well-grounded assessment of suitabilty for inclusion in an article: The material should be verifiable by referencing it to a reputable/reliable source; it needs to be attributed to the hodler of a significant viewpoint; and it cannot not contain any previously unpublished arguments, concepts, data, ideas, statements, or theories. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 15:14, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Ok, thanks for the advice --AbsolutDan (talk) 16:47, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Actually, in cases of this sort, we need go no further than WP:V#Burden of evidence. "If an article topic has no reputable, reliable, third-party sources, Wikipedia should not have an article on that topic." Robert A.West (Talk) 18:36, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia=Not Encyclopedia

Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia if it is concerned more on verificability than truth. All other encyclopedias concern more on the opposite. --Kitia

The point is that the only way Wikipedia can be a reliable source of information is by insisting on verifiability and no original research. If editors could add anything they wanted without having to provide sources, then how would readers know what was correct? A well-sourced article has a much better chance of being correct than an article that doesn't cite any sources. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 00:57, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
But many true information is missing from the wikipedia because they are not sourced. --Kitia
If the missing information is notable there should be no problem in verifying this from reliable sources. -- Alias Flood 01:18, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
What IS considered notable? --Kitia

Please see WP:Notability. For reliable sources, please see WP:Reliable sources -- Alias Flood 01:46, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Other encyclopedias are not concerned wih the "truth" either (just read any early 1900 encyclopedias....) They publish information that is validated by an expert or experts and reflects these experts' viewpoints. To assert that other encyclopedias deal with "the truth" and Wikipedia doesn't, reflects a poor understanding on how encyclopedias are created. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 19:09, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
In most cases, Verifiability stands in for notability. If reputable, reliable third-parties have taken the time to publish anything significant on a topic, that topic is almost certainly notable. If not, it most likely is not (yet) notable. Robert A.West (Talk) 18:40, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps in general, but some pop culture phenomenons, for example, take a long while to get written about, even when they're at the height of their popularity. The commercial publishing industry is more concerned about the marketability of a text than its academic value, so a notable topic may have a dearth of citable publications devoted to it, especially the older the topic is. Researchers in academia have similar biases and pressures to work against; convincing your Ph.D. professor that you should be allowed to write your thesis on some long-forgotten fad from 70 years ago may be a little easier today than it would've been for someone back then, but it's still an uphill battle. In the meantime, the reliable-source shortage diminishes the topic's notability and verifiability on Wikipedia, which is where enthusiasts of the topic will almost certainly converge, like it or not, to collaborate and seek consensus on an informative article about it. —mjb 07:27, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't believe it is possible to prove that something is absolutely true. Even if so, Wikipedia has no way to conduct research of an acceptable standard to do so. So we republish information from reliable sources. Other encyclopedias hire professional academics to write their articles, but I doubt that they conduct any original research either, and their articles are well referenced too.

Obviously, this encyclopedia will be less comprehensive or reliable on recent news or popular gossip than it will on basic mathematics or physics, but that is how it is. Michael Z. 2006-08-15 16:26 Z

Non negotiable

I don't buy into the claim that the last act of a democratic system is to vote out democracy. I equally don't buy into the claim that the last act of a consensus system is to refute consensus. Wording removed.

See also: Wikipedia:No_original_research, for a more extended discussion there.

Kim Bruning 12:40, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

I think the non-negotiable thing came down from on high, no? Anyway it's an important thing. We shouldn't just start doing original research somewhere because people get enough "votes" in an AfD at some point. --W.marsh 14:03, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
That paragraph has been on this page for about a year—that implies consensus (aside from one dissenter). Though Wikipedia's day-to-day functions are run by consensus, I don't know if it's true that consensus can be used to overthrow Wikipedia's basic principals. Even if it is, I suspect you'd have a hard time finding consensus for that, and you certainly can't just unilaterally yank a statement of principal because you don't like it and not expect to be reverted. See also Wikipedia:Simplified Ruleset. Michael Z. 2006-08-15 14:51 Z
A year? That's a long time. I certainly recall approaching the problem gradually and carefully however. Wikipedia principles have widespread consensus, that's why they're hard to change. Declaring anything as non-negotiable goes too far, however. That's saying you refute consensus, which is a bad plan. Kim Bruning 15:40, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
yikes! Simplified ruleset actually got shanghaid or something, and fails to meet original goals. Fixing it. Kim Bruning 20:15, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Please don't waste time on things like this. - Taxman Talk 15:22, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
I think the time is well spent. Consensus is pretty fundamental. I am very worried about these two pages which are declaring they do not fall under consensus. Kim Bruning 15:41, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
People are always trying to say WP:V doesn't apply to this article, or to that, and that we can just do original research this one time because we really feel like it. And without "non-negotiable", that could probably happen. And a project where that happens isn't really one I want to be a part of. Efforts to let people add their opinions to articles worry me. --W.marsh 15:50, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Oh, I'm not denying the guideline is very important. Slightly different phrasing, such as "this guideline has the support of very many wikipedians, and you're not going to just get out from under the requirement to provide verifiable sources." (which is what you mean, right?) is already quite alright.
My problem is that declaring the page non-negotiable means that (at a meta level) it's going to become unmaintainable over time. Since I hope for wikipedia to be around for a while, you might understand why I'd like to be able to keep things a bit flexible so we won't get stuck with a big mess a year or two down the line. I've tried to pull other wikis out of swamps caused by similar situations with varying success in the past. I'm happy with the fact that I've spotted things early this time, and that there might still be time to do some preventative maintenance. Kim Bruning 16:03, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
My point is that people are endlessly trying to say they can just add original research because they really want to. We need a way to deal with that if WP:V is ever going to mean anything. Perhaps word it to suggest that enforcement of the policy is not negotiable, and that it would take an extremely strong consensus to fundamentally change the policy, because I agree that it should be able to change over time as needed. But enforcement being optional is a joke. --W.marsh 16:13, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Verifiability is either meaningful now, or never has been meaningful. Take your pick. If I am asked to help out on an article, I usually pick the first.
As to enforcement, FYI, IMO every wikipedian is personally responsible for creating an encyclopedia. Our guidelines stem from the experience of many people, and it is typically foolish and irresponsible to just disregard them. When encountering a fool, first try to educate them, and if that fails, introduce them to the cluestick.
Is that view close enough to yours to work with? Kim Bruning 16:26, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Er, I guess... but that doesn't address why enforcement should be negotiable, optional and so on. --W.marsh 16:32, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Kim, this has been gone over umpteen thousand times ad nauseum. Does it matter at all? I submit no: 1. If a future consensus occured to change the policy, nothing we write now including saying it's non negotiable would matter. It would get changed. 2. The chances that such fundamental policies would need to be radically changed is so low that there are better things to work on. So pragmatically it's easier to say it's non negotiable, which for all intents and purposes it is. - Taxman Talk 16:20, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
It's a problem because people might start declaring other things on wikipedia non-negotiable too. I keep thinking of quickpolls, where people took it into the encyclopedia namespace and started using the quickpolls method to determine content. Oops. Kim Bruning 16:26, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
So you're wasting this much valuable time over something that might happen? If it does then solve it, but there aren't other policies that are so fundamental that they could successfully be declared non negotiable like NPOV, NOR, and V. Seriously, take the hint and go do something more important. And read the darn archives before you bring up crap like this that has been gone over so many times. - Taxman Talk 16:57, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
I got reverted twice on this article today, with the comment "non negotiable". I guess we have a problem then. Now, would you care to link to where in the archives people agreed it was ok to override consensus? In the mean time, see also below for my answer to Mzajac. Kim Bruning 20:06, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

But Kim, here we are negotiating the wording, and the consensus is to keep it. Discuss further if you like, but please don't keep changing the guideline. Michael Z. 2006-08-15 16:18 Z

Why do you -personally- want to keep the current wording? Kim Bruning 16:26, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Because it seems to work.
Sorry, I don't have time to engage in a personal chat. Thanks for trying to save Wikipedia from itself, but I think our time is better spent working on articles. Michael Z. 2006-08-15 16:33 Z
I'm sorry to hear that. If you refuse to commit yourself personally to achieving consensus, please go away. Sorry.
If you ever change your mind, and would like to discuss why it seems to work now but why I think it will break over time, I'd be happy to talk with you again, and please feel free to contact me on user talk. Kim Bruning 16:43, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Actually, I seem to be part of the consensus. No need to take it personally.
Kim, look at it this way: just because this rule says about itself that it is non-negotiable doesn't prove that it really is. Think of it as a basic tenet held by the community, instead of being offended that it puts itself forward as a hard fact. Of course it could be changed, by consensus—because it's so basic, it would take Wikipedia-wide consensus. The statement that the rule is non-negotiable may not be factually or provably true, but no one else sees any point in trying vainly to disprove it. And it won't be disproved today; certainly not the way you're going about it. Head, meet brick wall.
Really, let's be more productive with our time. Michael Z. 2006-08-15 16:52 Z
The only way to get stuff done is to make it personal :-) This also means one can be personally *nice* too course. :-)
Currently the page says it can't be changed by consensus. And you and I both know it can be. I'd like for the page to stop saying it can't be changed by consensus, because many people actually rely on guidelines pages to learn how wikipedia works.
Thanks for talking with me! :-)
Kim Bruning 17:02, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
We don't know it can be changed, we only think so. Perhaps we'll never be proven right, and that's fine with me. Even if it is wrong about being non-negotiable, I don't mind it saying so—newbies will take it for granted and waste less time questioning basic principals, while the rest of us can just treat the guideline's presumed fallibility as our little secret. Cheers. Michael Z. 2006-08-15 17:21 Z
In other words, the Wikipedia verifiability policy isn't itself verifiable? One would think that if anything has to contain only verifiable facts, the policy about verifiable facts should. If we don't actually know the policy is non-negotiable, maybe it should say "this policy is widely believed to be non-negotiable and no successful challenge has ever been made" as opposed to stating as a fact that it's non-negotiable?
And the whole "let's describe a non-absolute as an absolute, and make its non-absoluteness very obscure" idea has already been a disaster in WP:AUTO. Ken Arromdee 02:49, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Many wikipedia screwups in the past year can be traced back to people being too lazy or too unwilling to write down our actual guidelines as they are practiced. Currently wikipedia guidelines are a total mess, and no-one -not even top arbitrators- can still make heads or tails of them. They have needed tidying up for quite some time now. So how about you tell me what I think about attempting a guideline freeze under such circumstances? Kim Bruning 20:06, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Appropriately enough, it's working on articles that has convinced me more than anything else that WP:V is good and useful and shouldn't be subject to wiggling out of whenever we feel like it. I really suggest people who don't get this do some more article editting, as I've noticed usually they don't really get their hands dirty with that very much. As much fun as meta-discussions are (ha ha), it's always good to keep oneself rooted with what we're actually here for. --W.marsh 16:38, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree with that much, and I used to work on articles a lot. And then I worked on getting people to agree on how to edit articles. I have no problem with whacking people over the head with a big cluestick :-) I'd just like to retain the continued ability to modify the guidelines along with the progressing insight of wikipedians. Kim Bruning 16:43, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Just to clarify, I don't object to changing the policy in principle (but enforcement shouldn't be optional). It's just that changes to WP:V really, really need consensus, perhaps more than almost any other policy page. If the current wording doesn't reflect that properly, please improve it. --W.marsh 16:46, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
And thanks for not interpreting the above as a personal dig at you... meta-discussions make me just a tad cranky. I only come here out of fear of waking up one morning and suddenly it's originalresearch-pedia, not Wikipedia :-) --W.marsh 16:48, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
 :-) Good morning! And original-research-pedia is -> right this way <- . Not even half bad, actually! :-) --Kim Bruning 16:54, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

A suggestion:

Rather than removing the problematic sentences, how about clarifying that that when it says "these three policies are non-negotiable and cannot be superseded by other policies or guidelines, or by editors' consensus," what is meant is that consensus of editors at a particular page cannot override the policy, which is consensus of wikipedia as a whole. Then, when it says "their policy pages may be edited only to better reflect practical explanation and application of these principles," this should be qualified with a statement that the reason for this is because the policy represents a very strong consensus of a large majority of wikipedia editors, and changing that consensus would be very nearly impossible. JulesH 16:53, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

(edit conflict)In reading the above disscusion I am not sure if everyone is really talking about the same thing. I think there is a difference between editor's of a particular article reaching consensus about the content of the article and the WP community reaching consensus about a policy. Does anyone think this re-write will help clarify the matter? These three policies are non-negotiable and cannot be superseded by other policies or guidelines, or by any consensus on content. Their policy pages should only be edited to better reflect practical explanation and application of these principles. Any substantial changes must be well advertised among the community at large to be certain the proposal has widespread consensus.--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 16:58, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't think that's a good idea at all. The problem is that maintenance becomes impossible. Kim Bruning 20:06, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
You are taking this in too literal a fashion. These policies are non-negotiable. This does not mean that we cannot fine tune them if needed, though.≈ jossi ≈ t@ 20:14, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Re. W.marsh's proposal "Enforcement of these three policies is non-negotiable..." Pardon? The enforcement is the negotiable part. Specifically for the three top content policies. Remember that ArbCom can't make content-rulings? That is not while arbitrators would "despise" content policies. Only, a non-negotiable "enforcement" of content rulings doesn't work. --Francis Schonken 17:05, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

All I mean that it should not be optional for articles follow the basic concepts of NPOV and verifiability. I.e. when people say "Well we really want to include unverifiable information on this article..." --W.marsh 17:24, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

wrong scale

Actually, I think NPOV, verifiability and no original research are mainly important for articles which a lot of people are working on, and which people are fighting over.

There are approximately 1000 articles out of the over 1000 000 we have for which this holds. That's 0.1% . Gmaxwell and Kelly Martin can probably get the precice numbers for some specified point in time, if you want.

The big three guidelines which are being heavily pushed as non-negotiable-policy at this point in time place a HUGE burden on smaller articles which are not maintained by many editors. This is not productive.

Kim Bruning 20:31, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

How is it a burden? You're not supposed to be putting something into Wikipedia unless you have a published source for it. So, how much extra time does it take to cite that source? It's just a matter of saying where you got it. If anything, it's easier to do it when you're putting the material in than later... because at that moment you certainly know the source, whereas a week later you might have forgotten and need extra time to track it down. And by the same token it's easier for the person who puts in the material and knows where he got it to add the citation than for some other editor to find it. Dpbsmith (talk) 23:24, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
What kind of articles do you edit most? Kim Bruning 08:22, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
No one said making an encyclopedia would be easy. How on earth could these three issues be unimportant in small articles? Michael Z. 2006-08-15 21:06 Z
From an eventualist pov, you'll notice that by the rules, many small articles must be deleted before they can ever reach maturity. Kim Bruning 21:58, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
No one's deleting articles because their current versions don't meet NPOV, and saying an article on an unverifiable topic might eventually not be is only true in that maybe someone will eventually publish a reliable source. Articles aren't to be deleted because they don't yet meet one of these policies, they are deleted because reasonable editors feel it's unlikely they could ever possibly comply with those policies, no matter how much effort was put into them. Also I think saying we just have 1,000 articles that can be expected to stand up to any kind of policy standard is wrong... we have at least 1,001! --W.marsh 22:05, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Also, Bruning's position is just plain wrong. The guidelines are not a huge burden. Even a small article can be easily substantiated with a source or two if the topic is significant. For example, the other day, I was searching for information on Thomson Gale's Infotrac database on plastics and came across a Consumer Reports article about wrap rage. I noticed that the Wikipedia article on wrap rage was unsourced and incoherent, so I edited it a bit and added the reference.
Well, ya learn something new every day. I've experienced wrap rage for a long time—since the invention of Tyvek, I think—and I feel much better now that I know it has a name. Dpbsmith (talk) 23:18, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Every one of our guidelines raises the threshold to edit a little bit. Individually they do not constitute a problem, taken together they can easily block people out, if you're not very careful. Kim Bruning 19:27, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
For every significant topic out there, there is always a decent published source that satisfies Verifiability, No original research, and Neutral point of view, if one looks hard enough. If a topic doesn't even have one decent source, then it's very likely to be original research. --Coolcaesar 22:10, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
That's a statement of faith. See the archives for discussions about this, with real life examples. Kim Bruning 23:10, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
The vast majority of those examples are someone's pet idea that we are better off without. A tiny number seem like genuine shames, but those few articles would not make up for the mountain of crap that would otherwise come our way. And, someday, a reliable source may write on those topics and we will have them. That is eventualism. Robert A.West (Talk) 22:59, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
I concur fully. Furthermore, it's not a statement of faith; it's a statement based on years of experience as an attorney with LexisNexis, ProQuest, America's Newspapers on InfoBank, and other databases. After all, ProQuest has scanned in the full text of several newspapers back to the early 1800s; for example, that's where I got the citations from the 1930s for Roger J. Traynor. With hundreds of thousands of professional journalists running around today looking for their Pulitzer Prize, plus millions of scientists and academics cranking out papers in search of their Nobel Prize, there's always a published work on everything. When I said in the Traynor article that Traynor was the greatest judge in California's history and one of the greatest in American history, I was promptly challenged. I found some sources to back up those assertions and the challenger promptly backed down. That's how Verifiability works. --Coolcaesar 21:12, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
I don't understand the eventualist point of view. If a short article can be sourced and written from a neutral point of view based on verifiable sources, then it can reach maturity at any length. If it can't, then I suppose it ought to remain a stub which doesn't appear in 0.5 or 1.0, or be deleted. An encyclopedia cannot be a collection of hearsay or biased writing. Michael Z. 2006-08-16 01:20 Z
The eventualist view is that wikipedia is a wiki (we forget that sometimes). People will keep adding information; sometimes from memory, sometimes from sources. After some arbitrary (large) amount of time, eventually sufficient information will be gathered to make a fairly decent article, with most sources referenced. Eventualism is fairly tried and tested, as it's the method that's been used to write most of wikipedia over most of its lifespan. As it's a fairly natural mode for wikis. Knowing that most pages don't get much attention, I'd hypothesize that over 90% of our articles have been written using the eventualist philosophy, whether the editors were aware of it at the time or not. ;-) Kim Bruning 08:35, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
To clarify, the policy is that it is possible to verify it, that there exists a reliable source. It does not mean that every word and construction needs a footnote or it gets deleted. —Centrxtalk • 01:48, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
That's how some people are interpreting it. You're not making up some precice words etched into stone and stored atop an ivory tower; instead you're making a living document that's getting used every day by people from many different walks of life. You have to take that into account! Kim Bruning 16:12, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, don't be a dick applies to all policies, including this one. My thought below. Robert A.West (Talk) 23:30, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

What the policy does not mean

This policy does not mandate that every trivial statement be footnoted. There are many styles of citation, and for some articles (particularly shorter ones) a simple bibliography may suffice. So long as a reasonably-diligent editor can identify and check the source without undue effort, the requirement of this policy is satisfied.

This policy does not mandate that articles be deleted, unless there is reason to believe that no reliable, third-party sources can be found for the topic, in which case the article does not belong in Wikipedia. Articles that do not conform to Wikipedia policies should be fixed, if possible, rather than deleted.

This policy is not a stick to be used selectively in content wars. Every editor is responsible for policing his or her own conduct, as well as for checking that of others. Helping an editor with opposing views to find a source is a good example of the wiki spirit. Deleting an unsourced statement when one knows of a reliable source is not.

Robert A.West (Talk) 23:30, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

But it is used in edit wars. This is frequently cited by editors seeking excuses to remove what they don't like. We could probably use some language indicating that, while unsourced statements may be deleted, there are other methods, which should normally be tried first: {{unsourced}}, {{citation needed}}, or simply asking. Septentrionalis 05:52, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
I think you are confusing "unsourced" with "unverifiable." This policy does not allow for the removal of unsourced statements from articles. There are other policies that do allow for this in very specific cases. For example an unsourced negative statment about living person should be removed, but not according to this policy, it is really more about journalism ethics. If anyone is removing statements simply because they are unsourced "per WP:V", they are incorrect and need to be educated about this. The only statements which can be removed according to this policy are unverifiable ones. For example is someone adds new information to Jesus based on the vision of God they had the night before, those statements would most likely be unverifiable and therefore removable.--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 12:17, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
Let me clarify some exception to this. If an editor replaces an unsourced statement with another statement which contradicts the removed one and is sourced that would be an acceptable removal. However editors should not be simply deleting the good faith additions of others because it is not sourced Also I am speaking of an immediate removal. Of course if an editor disbelieves another's information they should request a source from the contributor and add the {{unsourced}} or{{citation needed}} but can eventually remove the statement after some time has passed. This could technically be said to be removed "per WP:V" although it is more about the unresponsiveness of the comtributor IMHO.--Birgitte§β ʈ Talk 12:34, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
Of course, some statements are just so unlikely that they should be removed immediately. I assume this is why we have, "Any edit lacking a source may be removed." We shouldn't have to tolerate obvious nonsense, even nonsense inserted in good faith. For actual disputes, there are additional templates to encourage reasonable, measured behavior: {{Request quote}} should probably be used more often when people aren't sure on just what passage the other guy is relying; {{failed verification}} is available to give the other guy a chance to explain or correct the citation when the source does not support the edit.
In any case, the point I am trying to emphasize is that this policy isn't about "gotcha!" It is about writing a good, solid reference work that people can come to respect. While I understand and agree with the burden of proof section, I wonder if that section as phrased doesn't add to the adversarial atmosphere that we too often get. Robert A.West (Talk) 16:44, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Brigitte, I agree that the editors I am thinking of are not particularly useful editors; and that the policy is not intended to mean "go ahead and take out anything without a footnote". But it can be read that way, and should probably be toned down. Giving PoV editors another excuse to revert good-faith edits bites newbies worse than this policy (properly read) ever will. Septentrionalis 20:38, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Policies vs. principles

I changed policies to "principles" in the intro, but this change was instantly reverted. My intention is to clarify that the policies themselves are very much debatable (what exactly does it mean for an article to be verifiable, and how do we achieve that? when do we throw out claims, when do we keep them?), it is the underlying principles and goals that are not. I would like to suggest that we only speak of principles as non-negotiable, and not of policies.--Eloquence* 22:26, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm still worried about the principles being non negotiable, but it's an improvement, at least. Kim Bruning 22:34, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: WP:NOR, WP:NPOV, WP:VER are are called policies all throughout Wikipedia. There is no call to be chipping away at these cornerstones. You can debate them till you are blue-linked in the face, but they are non-negotiable. Finis. Jon Awbrey 23:06, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Yes. I think I understand the principle of non-negotiable as understood on-wiki now. So much for the assurances to the contrary. :-( Kim Bruning 23:09, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
If language is used carelessly throughout Wikipedia, that is not an argument for continuing to use it carelessly. Certainly the policies express a principle, and certainly the expression of the principle in a specific policy document is very much negotiable. You would not argue that policies like NPOV or Verifiability are, in their exact writing and meaning, set into stone, would you? Negotiation means: discussing, finding consensus about reasonable changes, and making them. We can agree on the core principles while disagreeing about their exact meaning. WP:NOR is a particular policy that has very much been negotiated about in the past. Is an illustration "original research"? When is it acceptable to cite primary sources? And so on. We must continue this constructive dialogue, which will frequently necessitate changes to the policy documents.
You may regard this as a superficial semantic distinction, but I think it's an important distinction. Wikipedia is not about dogma, it's about creating the best possible encyclopedia. We recognize that certain principles are critical for doing so, and thus, we treat them as not negotiable. We recognize that particular interpretations of these principles have worked very well so far, and so we are careful about changing them. But we must guard against a spirit of dogmatic thinking.--Eloquence* 23:16, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
It must be unequivocally conveyed that these policies are not open to debate for specific articles or on article discussion pages. The Policy is non-negotiable in regard to articles; the Principle is non-negotiable in regard to the policy page. —Centrxtalk • 01:53, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: The word policy refers to a specific norm of conduct. You signify your cognizance of and consent to these rules for your action each time you click the SAVE button at the bottom of the edit window. You contractually obligate yourself to abide by these policies as a condition of using this software resource to edit pages. The word principle is more equivocal or general, as it can refer either to a descriptive law or to a normative law, and so it is too ambiguous to properly fit the situation here. So thank you for calling that to my attention. I will amend it forthwith. Jon Awbrey 01:58, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Thank goodness what you're saying is not true. Kim Bruning 02:38, 16 August 2006 (UTC)[citation needed]
It is ... A user not abiding by Wikipedis policies, will see his or her edits challenged on that basis.≈ jossi ≈ t@ 03:09, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Fine. I'd like to review the extent of your evidence for this, please provide. I have some suspicions about what your findings would/should be. Kim Bruning 12:29, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Your position seems to be that users enter a click-through agreement when editing Wikipedia that forms a legal contract to respect the policies you call non-negotiable. That is an unusual position, and I don't believe it is shared by Wikimedia's legal counsel, though I'd be happy to ask. The idea strikes me as bizarre -- are you suggesting that users who do not follow WP:V, WP:NOR and WP:NPOV are breaking the law? The current click-through statement only refers to the verifiability policy in any case, not to NPOV or NOR. Regardless of this, I think your use of the terms "policy" and "principle" is confusing. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law defines a policy as "an overall plan, principle, or guideline"; in other words, principle can be synonymous with policy.
However, in the context of Wikipedia, policy typically refers to specific documents (pages). It is absolutely not true that these documents are not negotiable. We require and encourage their negotiation and improvement. The word principle is not used in Wikipedia ambiguously, is not commonly understood to refer to documents, and thus strikes me as a better term to use than the disambiguation between "policy" and "implementation of policy." Given that I do not share your legalistic interpretation of the policy, I don't think the distinction between normative and descriptive is relevant. Again, if you want, we should ask User:BradP to comment, as he is the Foundation's attorney.--Eloquence* 05:19, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
The policies are both descriptive and normative, and the underlying principles of NPOV, NOR, and V are indeed regarded as non-negotiable for the time being. Of course that could change, but it would require a groundswell of wiki-wide and Foundation support; it certainly couldn't happen because of the consensus of a small number of editors on any given policy page or article. Jimbo posted yesterday that he regards NPOV, NOR, and V to be different aspects of the same thing, [2] and I agree with him completely on that point: the three policies work in harmony, and jointly constitute the editorial backbone of Wikipedia. Legally, they keep us safe to a large extent. Editorially, they stand between us and a deluge of nonsense. SlimVirgin (talk) 10:06, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
My point is that the policy documents are not non-negotiable, and using the term principles for what is non-negotiable (the key ideas of verifiability, NPOV and no original research) and the term policy for what is negotiable (the concrete manifestation of these ideas) makes sense.--Eloquence* 11:01, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Yes, that makes sense. SlimVirgin (talk) 11:20, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
IIRC, Originally we used the word "guideline" in preference to "policy", to stress the fact that the guideline itself was editable. Kim Bruning 12:32, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Again, these are fascinating philosophical discussions, e-specially to me, as it happens that the article on the consensus theory of truth is the very hook that landed me on this all too dry and airy land, and it's a topic on which I have wasted not a little gasping breath, but ... what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Your descriptivist e-lusions fall utterly flat on their face the second you try to x-plain why you think that anybody here has the "right" to ban or block a user. Jon Awbrey 12:46, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Speak english and I might even be able to answer that :-) Kim Bruning 12:48, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

No binding decisions (again!)

Note that as long as this page is worded to comply with no binding descisions, I'm fine with it. :-)

It's not very tricky to do so I should think. Could someone who is not-me (and possibly even neutral) take a look and just fix it already?

Kim Bruning 12:41, 16 August 2006 (UTC) (see also: the top of this page)

Isn't "non-negotiable" pretty much the same as "binding decision"? Ken Arromdee 15:29, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
That's how many people are interpreting it, though I think some folks are also saying that that's not the intent. Kim Bruning 16:00, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

This policy creates several problems

The following text is copied complete and unabridged from User:Hildanknight/Crisis. If any text seems out-of-context, please refer to User:Hildanknight/Crisis. I am copy-pasting because this is relevant to the Verifiability policy.


  • The Verifiability policy Please place a note at the top of the policy page stating "This policy was created with the intent of making Hildanknight's Wikilife extremely difficult." This policy makes it very difficult for me to contribute, given the topics I write on - websites, TV shows, movies - require original research and firsthand experience/expertise to write well. I remember Jimbo saying something about "no information is better than speculative information" (wait, do I need to find a reference for that?). I guess I can be "kicked out from the project for being a lousy writer". Let's not forget that I can't format a reference to save my life. I'm not saying that the policy is bad, just that it makes things difficult for me, and causes the following problems for Wikipedia:
It bites the newcomers. Most newcomers do not add references when they add information. Proponents of the Verifiability policy will bite them upon discovering their unsourced statements. Formatting policies is also difficult for newcomers.
Then I guess most newcomers have not bothered to glance underneath the edit box or click on the link to the verifiability policy. Obviously one should be kind and courteous to newcomers—in fact WP:CIVIL is policy, too—but that does not mean one should not tell them what the policies are. Dpbsmith (talk) 20:50, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, most anonymous newcomers won't read the instruction creep, although registered newcomers might. What I meant was that it is not easy for a newcomer to follow the Verifiability policy or format citations - so the policy "bites" them. --J.L.W.S. The Special One 08:01, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
It bites the experts. Forcing them to add references for their contributions is insulting their intelligence. True experts write from their own knowledge, and don't need to refer to external sources. For example, a chess grandmaster does not think about doubled pawns or open files. He is thoroughly familiar with such concepts, and makes moves on instinct. Trust the experts, as long as they prove they are experts. Many experts in their fields are also newcomers to Wikipedia.
True experts don't need to refer to external sources but also have no trouble finding them. I know little about chess but I'll bet that a chess grandmaster could reel off half a dozen books that have discussions in depth of doubled pawns or whatever, they'd be able to tell you what Capablanca thought or what Nimzowitsch had to say about it, and that they'd have three of those books within arm's reach of their computer and could dig up sources within minutes. Dpbsmith (talk) 20:43, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
You used a good analogy - about chess grandmasters easily referring to chess books. Of course, it depends on their field of expertise. For history, for example, finding sources would be very easy. However, there are some fields where finding sources is not as easy and firsthand experience is truly required. And these happen to be the topics where Wikipedia is likely to excel compared to traditional encyclopedias. For example, pop culture and the Internet.
In such fields, a different type of expert may emerge. For example, I've been using Google Groups for a year and am thoroughly familiar with its features. Therefore, I could be considered an "expert" in Google Groups, in a different sense of the word. I wrote the Google Groups article entirely based on my experience on Google Groups, while ensuring NPOV and avoiding cruft. How could I write the article without using my "expertise" in Google Groups? Similarly, I have a Homerun VCD, I've watched it thousands of times since its release in 2003, and I've even met Jack Neo before. Therefore, I'm more than qualified to write the entire Homerun (film) article. If I can't rely on my experiences watching the movie, how am I going to write the "Plot" section? Could I use the movie as a reference for the entire section? If so, how do I format the reference?
The same applies to articles on books, for example. Perhaps I am interpreting the policy wrongly - if so, correct me. --J.L.W.S. The Special One 08:01, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
That's just false. Academic and much popular writing cites its sources, extensively. It doesn't insult anyone's intelligence. The analogy about game playing has nothing to do with writing academic literature, and there are no experts' credentials on Wikipedia. Michael Z. 2006-08-17 00:47 Z
Exactly. Wikipedia is anti-elitist. Expertise is neither acknowledged nor appreciated. --J.L.W.S. The Special One 08:01, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
It is anti-wiki. Wikipedia is an open, free encyclopedia. The policy restricts the freedom that Wikipedia is, and results in useful, accurate information that is difficult to source being removed.
Right, it is a free encyclopedia. Using a Wiki to build it is a means to that end, not an end in itself. As to freedom, the neutrality policy also restricts freedom and makes life difficult for some editors. As to removing information, the verifiability policy also results in useless and inaccurate information being removed. Dpbsmith (talk) 20:58, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm using "free" as in "free speech", not as in "free beer". And I do understand why the policy exists - I'm just pointing out the problems it creates. For some articles, such as biographies of living persons, verifiability is very important, and I acknowledge that. --J.L.W.S. The Special One 08:01, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
If information can't be sourced, how can you claim that it is useful or accurate? Freedom isn't restricted: you are free to add information, and you are free to have it deleted by me if I think it isn't verifiable. That's so wiki. Michael Z. 2006-08-17 00:47 Z
Read the "Interface features" section of the Google Groups article. It cannot be satisfactorily referenced or verified without firsthand experience using Google Groups. Still, do you think the information in that section is useful and accurate? (If not, there is nothing I can do to stop you taking the article to AFD.) --J.L.W.S. The Special One 08:01, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
It creates systematic bias. When the views of the experts and the common people differ, the experts' views are usually given undue weight. This is because it is difficult to reference the opinions of the common people, and because adding their views requires weasel-wording. For example, if the professional reviews love a certain aspect of the computer game, but most players hate that particular aspect of the computer game, the article will give a positive impression of that aspect of the game.
The alternative is a site in which a reader has no way at all to know the source of a statement in it, and no way to judge whether to trust that source. That's not an encyclopedia. It's a web forum or a social networking site. The verifiability policy is the logical solution to the problem of how to build an authoritative encyclopedia without requiring the contributors to be authorities. Why not perform Google searches on USENET for all your information needs? What's the difference between a Google search on USENET and Wikipedia? The verifiability policy. Dpbsmith (talk) 20:43, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
How do we know what the views of the common people are? From published academic studies of people's opinions, or from hearsay? Citing the former is welcome in Wikipedia where it is relevant. The latter does no one any good. Michael Z. 2006-08-17 00:47 Z
I have been playing the online game RuneScape for two years. Through my interactions with other players, I know what the most common player criticisms of RuneScape are. I once nominated Neopets for FAC, while someone else nominated RuneScape for FAC. Both of them failed for the same reason - the verifiability policy. I think you should read my comments in Neopets' failed FAC and RuneScape's failed FAC. Most ironically, the "Criticism" section was removed from the RuneScape article a few weeks before the FAC, because it was unverifiable. During the FAC, RuneScape was shot down because it lacked a Criticism section.

Due to lack of time, I will not comment on the above text. However, I will elaborate tomorrow, and participate in the ensuing discussion.

--J.L.W.S. The Special One 15:27, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

WP:V has served us extremely well so far. People that want freedom to do original research and edit articles without the need for verifiability, would be better served editing other wiki-based projects, creating a blog, etc. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 20:46, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
dpbsmith and jossi have hit the nail on the head. Jayjg (talk) 21:07, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Have you looked at the Media and "Sport and games" section of the featured article list? You might be able to find some ideas for what kinds of sources are being used for articles on films, television series, and video games. Having worked on articles on fiction, I'd argue that verifiability / original research are major problems with many articles on these subjects. Editors routinely try to insert their own comparisons, criticisms (often weasel-worded), and interpretations. As dbpsmith mentioned, without these policies, we'd have less recourse to removing these usually baseless theories and speculation. — TKD::Talk 23:19, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Are you suggesting I look at other articles on websites and TV shows/movies to get an idea of how to find references for them? Thanks for the suggestion. This is what I wanted. I'll try that out. --J.L.W.S. The Special One 08:01, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
Is this whole thing a joke? Verifiability is indispensible. Does it bite newcomers? Now, because verifiability does not demand that every statement of fact be accompanied by a verifiable source, only that it CAN be accompanied by one. This means that when there is controversy or people are trying to improve the article, sources can and will be found and added. Everyone wins. A newbie who wants - consciously wants - to contribute to an "encyclopedia" should come already expecting that anything they add be "verifiable," otherwise they are coming in bad faith. Does it insult experts? That is absurd. Any expert who is insulted when asked, "what is your source" is at best an insecure expert or at worst one who does not care to educate less knowledgable people. Again, anyone who comes to Wikipedia without a desire to educate less-knowledgable people is coming in bad faith. It creates systematic bias? Absurd. This is not about any conflict between the views of experts and the views of non-experts. It is about verifiable and non-verifiable views. If a non-expert has expressed a view in a verifiable source (e.g. what does the President of the US think about foreign policy, or, if you prefer, what do middle-class Americans think about people living in the Amazon), it can and (to comply with NPOV) should be included in an article. Maybe we should just have a banner on the main page, "If you just want to spout your own beliefs, start a blog instead." Slrubenstein | Talk 01:23, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
I thought verifiability was non-negotiable. I have often seen newcomers, particularly anons, adding true but unsourced information to articles (particularly those on online games). Therefore, I disagree that newcomers wishing to contribute to the encyclopedia will expect that they must verify the information they contribute. My other point, I think, is not so much about the opinions of experts vs non-experts, but those of reliable published sources vs common people (although I worded it wrongly). The example I provided was about reliable published sources generally giving positive feedback about an aspect of a computer game (e.g. its graphics) that its players hate. --J.L.W.S. The Special One 08:01, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Based on my observations of past discussions on this page, and my past attempts to raise issues with the policy, I think I will soon be labelled a troll or crank. If I was, I would not have written the Google Groups and Homerun (film) articles, or created the Requests for feedback process. It's not that I don't wish to follow the policy. If I can find a reference, I'll put it into the article. It just happens that the topics I write on happen to make it difficult for me to follow this policy, and that I've spotted problems the policy creates. I would appreciate any advice which helps me follow this policy when editing. --J.L.W.S. The Special One 08:01, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

You've mentioned your Google Groups article a few times as an example of unverifiable material. But if you look at the number of books written about Google, [3] most if not all of the information in that article has almost certainly been published already, so it would indeed be verifiable. It could be that there are indeed sources out there for the material you're discussing. SlimVirgin (talk) 08:44, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
I concur with SlimVirgin. There are several excellent books and thousands of articles about Google. See Wikipedia:Article development if you do not know how to do online research. --Coolcaesar 20:49, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
I concur with Jossi and Slrubenstein. SlimVirgin has offered some suggestions. I would like to add one further comment: If you cannot find a source, do not add the content. Simple as that. Regardless of how "true" it may be, if you don't have a RS per V, it doesn't go in the article. End of story. KillerChihuahua?!? 12:59, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
Other than on living-person biographies, I'm not sure how desirable that is. One person may not be able to find a source, but somebody else may come along later who does have a source for something. That's the nature of community construction; not everyone can do everything. As an example, I recently added a source for the article LR parser, which previously had not had a source throughout its 5 year, 100+ edit history. If nobody had written anything because all those previous editors didn't have a source to contribute for what they were adding, the article wouldn't be here today. Yet now it is in the process of becoming a good article. For the first time it has a source, and one that's generally considered authoritative for the subject. The process is working on this article, why should we restrict other articles from taking those same steps? JulesH 13:20, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
I've had similar experiences. Hence I'm somewhat skeptical. Kim Bruning 19:05, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
If there is something that I think should go in an article, but I don't have a source for it... well, then, I leave a note on the Talk page saying "I think this should go in the article, but I don't have a source for it." Isn't "community construction" exactly what the Talk page is good for? Dpbsmith (talk) 22:35, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
Some people seem to think that wikis are a tool for community construction and collaborative editing. At some point, someone introduced talk pages as a separate place to talk about the page construction as it was happening. Some people are still not sure if that was the best of ideas actually, but now we're sort of stuck with it.
In any case, using the talk page in the manner you describe tends to ignore the existence of any kind of wiki. It's not the worst thing you could do by a long shot, but it's not exactly the most productive thing either.
Not that I don't occaisionally do it myself, if I'm feeling particularly timid. But I do realise that I'm breaking a key guideline when I do so. Kim Bruning 22:51, 17 August 2006 (UTC)