Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/Archive 6

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Archive 5 Archive 6 Archive 7

What Wikipedia is not

Where in Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not the following statement

"Just because some information is verifiable, doesn't mean that Wikipedia is the right place to publish it. See what Wikipedia is not."

is discussed. A more precise reference would be very useful. Lumiere 21:21, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

At present we don't have any policy on relevancy. To my mind we should have the following 5 content policies:
  1. Neutral point of view (articles should be written from a neutral point of view)
  2. Verifiability (all information should be referenced to reputable sources)
  3. Relevancy (information should only be included if encyclopaedic and relevant to the article in question)
  4. Accessibility (information should be written for as wide an audience as possible - ideally the whole of the English-reading world)
  5. Respect copyright
We have policies on neutral point of view, verifiability and respecting copyright, but unfortunately are lacking them on relevancy and accessibility. We also have a policy against original research, but this is superfluous as everything in there can be covered by the neutral point of view and verifiability policies. Where there are omissions in WP policy, common sense will have to prevail for now:) jguk 22:15, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

I agree that "relevance" ought to be made a content guideline. I also believe "completeness" ought to be a content guideline (not for contributor individually, but as a standard for articles) (relevence and completeness complement one another). I disagree that "accessibility" is a content standard. It is a style standard and as such I DO agree that it is important. However, as style standards I would break "accessibility" down to its components: precision, clarity, and coherence. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:30, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

Thank you! It was not clear that this sentence was about relevancy. It could have been about some other criteria. What I wanted to know is where exactly I should look in Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not to find out more about this sentence? I will look at the term "relenvancy" -- perhaps I will find it. Lumiere 22:42, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

Some of your answer is here [1]. But Jguk is right: we ought to have clear policy pages on "relevence," and, I believe, "completeness" Slrubenstein | Talk 23:20, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

I totally agree with you. I never had the opposite opinion. My question was only an attempt to find more info. I apologize if it seemed othewise. Again, thanks a lot. Lumiere 00:30, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

Can you be more specific as to what you mean about "completeness"? My concern here is that many may take this to mean that an article should be deleted if it is "incomplete", whereas Wikipedia is actually the opposite -- an environment where stub articles can be created, and then the community all collaborates to flesh things out. Elonka 01:45, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

The ArbComm does not accept lack of detail and WP:V as an acceptable reason for adding citations to articles and punished me for adding citation details. (SEWilco 13:03, 3 January 2006 (UTC))
Not to be pedantic, but they did non punish you for adding citation details, but for repeated edits against the consensus for the affected pages (where nearly all contributors prefered more convenient inline links to more detailed external links). It's not the what, it's the how. --Stephan Schulz 13:14, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

To answer Elonka's question, I think the real question is, "how do we define relevant?" As I understand Jguk's point, the "relevance" policy would state that content should be included only if it is relevant to the topic. The "completeness" policy would then state that our goal is to include all information, explanation, and interpretation that is relevant to the topic. We can add to this policy that "in cases where the article has become too long for many browsers, completeness can be achieved by creating related articles that are summarized in and linked to the main article" or something like that. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:26, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

Isn't relevancy something we leave to be consensually agreed upon at talk pages of articles? Is there not a note to that effect somewhere? As to sub articles, yes, that is the policy, or guideline, I think it is outlined at Wikipedia:Summary style, Wikipedia:Article size and wikipedia:content forking#Article spinouts - "Summary style" articles. We really should start to tie all this together much better, though, it all seems to be gathered rather ad hoc at the minute. Hiding talk 10:37, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

I agree that what, specifically, constituted "relevant" to a given article is something contributors must decide on. Nevertheless, I agree with Jguk that this is an important isue and we can be clearer about the criteria for "relevance." Look, we generally leave it to contributor to decide hat is NPOV for an article. But we still have a general policy - a policy that sometimes helps editors resolve conflicts. We should strive to do the same with "relevence" and "completeness. For example, "editors should strive to include in an article all facts necessary to recognize or identify a given phenomenon, a full account of any and all major explanations, interpretations, and analyses of the phenomenon, evidence that has been provided in verifiable sources to support or oppose given explanations, interoretationsk and analyses of the phenomenon, and contxtual information about the phenomenon, and debates over how to recognize, explain, interpret, and analysze the phenonmenon. If an editor believes that material in n article does not meet these criteria, it is up to another editor to justify its inclusion; otherwise, it may be deleted." How does this sound?

Very verbose and overly complicated. Like I say, I'm not convinced by the need for any such wording, and reject it as instruction creep. Let relevance be debated on talk pages, there isn't a problem here, it doen't need fixing. Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not is very good at detailing consensus on areas of exclusion. Jimbo has outlined a position on fame and importance which is just as relevant here. Hiding talk 16:35, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

Mini-essay on requiring sources

I was chatting with an ex-user, answering some questions on policies, when I realized I'd written a mini-essay on our verification and citing policies; somebody on IRC suggested I post it here, so...


One big question: Why don't we require primary source material?

Well, we do- it's official policy even to provide sources, with primary sources being ideal. see

That said, there are some reasons why we don't require sources for every edit: first off, Wikipedia is founded on the idea that making it easy to contribute will provide sufficient gains in interest, editing, contributions &etc. that it can make up for all the crap and erroneous stuff that making it easy to contribute is guaranteed to let in. So far, this has proven to be a good idea. What its theoretical limits are, we don't know. That's one of the arguments for traditional encyclopedias against Wikipedias- while they may not receive as much material or use as a Wikipedia, their paranoid exacting process will ultimately provide a higher quality product. Again, whether this is true is hard to tell as of yet- we know that Wikipedia processes can in some article instances beat EB, but whether this are freak instances attributable more to a few fanatic contributors or vindications of the proces... Yeah. I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this- that there's an unhappy medium between EB and Wikipedia, where the cntrols on the process are too restrictive to get anyone to work on it casually, but not tight enough to motivate anyone to work on it academically/seriously.

We're rather afraid of falling into that unhappy middle; there was quite some grumbling after the Seigenthaler episode when anonymous users were blocked from creating new pages. So requring sources for every edit... Straw, camel, back. --maru (talk) Contribs 04:43, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

So, who gets to decide which edits don't require any references? Requiring that everything in an article have a verifiable source is not being paranoid: it is the road to building a reliable and reputable encyclopedia. Now, edits for style and readability obviously don't require sources, but every fact in an article needs to be sourced (and all we put in articles are facts). -- Dalbury(Talk) 08:25, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

What is a "Full Citation"?

Under section "When Adding Information" we define "full citation":

"Giving a full citation means that, if an online source is removed from the website at a later date, readers will still know how to track down the original article."

Could we rewrite this so that it is 100% clear that the definition of full citation refers to offline sources as well as online sources? I envision something like

"Giving a full citation means providing sufficient information that readers will know how to track down the original article, even in the case where an online source of infomation is removed." --Ryan Utt 09:22, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

Direct quotes in references

Very often, when I've added specific fact references to an well-fleshed out article, I provide the direct quote from the source that I cite, following the citation. I have been asked to start a discussion on this, and I have done so on Wikipedia:Citing sources. Please comment there. Thanks! JesseW, the juggling janitor 09:24, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

Move to delete 99% of all Lists and Categories of Jews

Please read the sixteen point introduction at Wikipedia:Centralized discussion/Lists by religion-ethnicity and profession#Move to delete 99% of all Lists and Categories of Jews: Sixteen reasons why this should become a fixed Wikipedia policy and related discussions at Wikipedia talk:Centralized discussion/Lists by religion-ethnicity and profession#Proposed amendment: remove all Jewish-related lists. Thank you. IZAK 11:34, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

Use of concrete examples

I would like to propose the following as another example where verifiability is important: Lumiere 22:31, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

Academic honesty

Discussion of possible interest to watchers of this page at Wikipedia talk:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards#Academic honesty. -- Jmabel | Talk 10:10, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

The case Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Roylee, which I found there, was interesting. There must be different kinds of situation where the verifiability policy can be useful. The examples that are given above might not provide the big picture. Lumiere 11:25, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Notability (websites)

I've recently rewritten the above page, and there is currently discussion on the talk page regarding the viability of certain websites as reliable sources. Comment would be appreciated. Hiding talk 16:47, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

I asked a question in this talk page. I want to understand the purpose of Wikipedia talk:Notability (websites). Lumiere 19:49, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

Are online calculators verifiable sources?

For instants, if you input it to an online calculator such as herethis and integrate (with respect to x),

(cos(b+a)*cos(x/2)*sin(x/2)+cos(b-a)*cos(x/2)*sin(x/2)) /sqrt(1-(cos(b+a)*sin(x/2)^2-cos(b-a)*cos(x/2)^2)^2)

it gives back this monstrocity:


  • cos(-1.*b+a)

but all that reduces to (or SHOULD reduce to)


Is it okay to use that reduced equation or do you have to use the one given by the calculator and would the calculator be considered a vallid source for verification purposes? (a "math geek") 18:08, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

My opinion - but get others! - is that what needs to be traced to a verifiable source is a particular formula, not its application. Keep this in mind: E=MC(2) is well-established and it is very easy to provide a verifiable source for it. We do not have to provide all of the math that one must go through in order to arrive at that formula. So, what is this a formula for? Is it well-accepted, what this formula is for and how it is to be used? IF so, provide its most common form - such a form should be easily verifiable. Slrubenstein | Talk 18:34, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

Any further comments before the rewrite goes live?

Are there any further comments before the rewrite on Wikipedia:Verifiability/temp goes live? I don't want to rush things, I just want to be clear as to whether there are any outstanding points, and if so, what they are, jguk 11:30, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

The lead sections of the policies referred to should all be standardized so that there is no conflict. All of them should refer to the others as key policies that must not be interpreted in isolation. Currently WP:NPOV and WP:NOT do not have that, and WP:NOR refers to 3 key policies. If we don't have consensus to get that in each article then we don't have consensus that it is official policy. Fortunately I think it's clear we do, but again, we need to be consistent. - Taxman Talk 18:24, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
  • This is a major policy change and should be endorsed by the wider community first. Kappa 18:31, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
  • In particular, I suggest that we should have a discussion on what is a reputable scientific source. The current policies and guidelines say that usually it contains a peer-review process, and does not explain what are the possible exceptions. Any group with a given agenda, after having recruited a few prestigious scientists that are open to this agenda, could create its own scientific journal and claims respectability. The papers are not sent to these scientists for peer-review, but even if they were, it will not replace the better process in which a controversial paper is always sent to experts on the specific subject, and whenever possible to experts that have opposite views. Is it really necessary to open the door to exceptions? Lumiere 20:56, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
  • The examples that I see above do not discuss enough what we mean by a scientific content, which would then require a reputable scientific source. This needs some clarification. For example, one editor might say that a given section is delivering a scientific content and thus requires a reputable scientific source. To escape this requirement another editor might say, it does not really have a scientific content -- there is no claim of scientific validity, so I do not need such a source. Lumiere 21:42, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
  • I was working on one article recently, which pushes the policies to their limit. Please have a look at Natasha_Demkina and at the talk page, especially the points of disagreement at the end. Lumiere 21:42, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
  • I believe the rewrite, with specific mention of "Reputable sources" will be used by pseudoscientists and their supporters to further muddy the waters about what is science and what is garbage, already muddied enough by WP:NPOV. Please review comments and contributions of above contributor for examples. Hipocrite - «Talk» 21:03, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
The requirement for a reputable publisher (which is what is meant by reputable source) is already in the policy. You want to completely modify the current policy. Also, I don't see how a requirement for a reputable source can help pseudoscientists. On the other hand, what I see is that it doesn't help groups such as skeptical organizations that make a living by bringing non scientific debates to the people, while pretending to be scientific as it is clear from their names, for example "Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal". To help people in not getting confused with paranormal issues, one just have to point out that the claims were not verified scientifically. Period. The burden of the proof is on their side. Period. If these organizations want to continue their cruisade outside of science with experimental setups that are not peer-reviewed, etc., they should stop pretending that they conduct scientific studies, and use different names for themselve. Lumiere 21:54, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
No it's not. The requirement in the current policy is that dubious sources be named and shamed. Only extremists are not reputable. The section on dubious sources is removed. I must request it be readded. Hipocrite - «Talk» 21:58, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
I don't know what you mean. There is still a section on dubious source in the current version of the verifiability policy. Moreover, the requirement for a reputable source appears right from the start. If you are saying that some have proposed to remove the need for a reputable source that is adequate for the content, then I hope this proposal is carefully considered before it is adopted. Lumiere 22:22, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

When not to ask for references

Can we please insert the following?

"Finding references can mean a lot of work for editors. So please do not ask for references when you think that a statement should not be included regardless if references are provided, for example because you think the statement is off-topic."

Andries 10:29, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

I think this statement is unnecessary. If an editor doesn't have the reference at hand, he or she shouldn't add the information. If an edit doesn't belong, remove it, making an appropriate edit summary and/or comment on the talk page. If no one wants to go to the trouble of sourcing something that is relevant to an article, it should be removed as unverified. -- Dalbury(Talk) 12:26, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
It has been my experience several time that references for my edits are requested by another editor for things that I consider common knowledge. So far so good but then after I provided references which took me a lot of time and effort the editor found a new reason to remove my edits. This is simply a terrible waste of my time. Editors should think in advance before requesting references whether a statement belongs in an article. They should not ask references and after references are provided come with a new reason for removing a statement. Such behavior makes me doubt the good faith of the editors. Andries 12:40, 15 January 2006 (UTC) (amended)
Could you point to some examples of this? I would also comment that common knowledge is not a sufficient criteria for adding information to Wikipedia, but verifiability (from reliable sources) is a necessary criteria. -- Dalbury(Talk) 13:37, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
see Talk:Charismatic_authority#Jim_Jones and succeeding subsections for an example. I also want to state that it is very, very easy to raise the bar for contributions higher and higher here in this policy but that it is becomes more and more difficult and tedious to follow this policy. Andries 13:46, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
I don't think this can be solved by policy wording.
One the one hand, I don't know how to state this in policy, but we can and do use common knowledge all the time in organizing, integrating, and presenting information, as well as introductory statements of the basic. Consider Force: "In physics, a force is an external cause responsible for any change of a physical system. For instance, a person holding a dog by a rope is experiencing the force applied by the rope on their hand, and the cause for its pulling forward is the force exercised by the rope." No sources cited, and IMHO none needed. To say everything needs a source is like saying that every article should be up to featured article status. True, but a goal rather than a reality today.
On the other hand, a good-faith request for a source even for something which is plausible, probably true, and known to more than a single Wikipedia editor should be honored. And we're all vulnerable, because we all put in unsourced material all the time.
Bad-faith requests for sources can be used to harass, impede, annoy, and attack others. So can revert wars, personal attacks, and trolling. None of these are helped very much by clear definitions. In theory a clear definition can help people once a dispute is occuring and other parties are intervening, but dispute resolution is going to "I know bad faith when I see it" kinds of judgement.
The problem is bad-faith conduct, not imprecision in statement of policy. Dpbsmith (talk) 13:50, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
I do not think that any of the cases in which I was asked for references was a bad faith case, though I am not sure because some people do not like my POV. I do think however that it is very, very easy to ask for references which yields a lot of work for other editors. You cannot first ask for references and then come with another new reason to delete a statement. That is very unthoughtful and shows a great disrepect for the work of the editors who provide the references. Andries 13:57, 15 January 2006 (UTC) (amended)

Proposed change to placement of unreferenced tag

I have moved the following change made by User:Enchanter to the policy to here for discussion:

If you think that facts in an article are not adequately cited, you may wish to raise this on the talk page if you cannot find adequate citations yourself. You may use the {{unreferenced}} template, but it is always better to give a full explanation of which facts you think need to be cited.

The current wording is:

If an article does not cite any sources at all, any editor may add {{unreferenced}} at the start of the article, but it is better to find and add proper citations.

I think this needs to be discussed and a consensus reached before making a change like this. -- Dalbury(Talk) 03:17, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

I agree that it is appropriate that the wording should reflect a consensus, to the extent that one exists. Note that the sentence which you have put it back to was added recently and without discussion, and there is no tradition or consensus in using the "unreferenced" tag. Tags like this are controversial. When the use of similar tags have been debated, large numbers of contributors have expressed a view that tags like this belong on talk pages, because they are aimed at contributors and not readers, and it has been a long standing policy on Wikipedia that articles don't generally contain comments. Others like to have lots of tags. Others (myself included) think that tags on articles can sometimes be useful, but should be used sparingly, and that usually issues like this should be raised on the talk page. My edit was intended to reflect this lack of consensus by not specifying where the tag should be put, and leaving that to the judgement of individual editors.
I don't think the current wording that has been put back properly reflects a consensus, so I think that we should look for some alternative. Enchanter 22:25, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
I guess I should cite a source for my above comments! I've just found that Template talk:Unreferenced has a "straw poll" on placement on article vs talk pages, which at the time of writing shows 12 people for and 12 people against. So there does seem to be a complete lack of consensus here; given that the Verifiability page is an official policy page, I think it should avoid taking any position one way or the other. Enchanter 22:44, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
There has been a bit of discussion on this at Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/temp. Wikipedia:Verifiability/temp is a proposed rewrite of this policy. See the consensus wording in the Citing sources section. See also the discussion in Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/temp#Vandalism?. -- Dalbury(Talk) 23:13, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for pointing me to this; the current (vague) wording on citing sources in the proposed rewrite seems reasonable to me, perhaps with minor changes. My main concerns are that tagging article as opposed to talk pages should not be endorsed on the policy pages, because there is not a consensus on this. Overall I like the rewrite too, not least because it is short and to the point. Because this is an "official policy" page, it is a good idea to stick to a few points that everyone can agree on rather than lots of stuff that people can have disagreements about.
For more controversial subjects such as placement of tags, where there is significant disagreement between well-meaning contributors, I think it's best to leave the "official" policy pages pretty vague and cover the subject more fully in the "guideline" pages. Enchanter 00:54, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

Clarification for use of personal web site

The current rule is that personal web sites are not acceptable as sources, except if the person is well known, such as a well known researcher in a relevent field. However, just after, there is a reference to WP:RS for more information, which is more complex. There it is said that a personal web site is never acceptable as a secondary source. It can only be used as a primary source, which, if I understand well, means that the sourced statement must be about the owner of the web site or the web site. My question is whether or not this includes a statement that presents the opinion of the owner of the web site. In other words, "Joe says that Einstein theory of relativity has a flaw" can be inserted in an article about the theory of relativity with a reference to Joe's website to support it. This is because stating that Joe has this opinion is a statement about Joe, which make Joe's website a valid source. Is this correct? If it is, I think that the text of the policy should clarify that point.

Also, the exception (for the famous person) that is mentioned in WP:V is not mentioned in WP:RS. Is that mean that personal web site can be used as secondary sources when the owner is famous, despite a statement to the contrary in WP:RS? Does it mean also that Joe in the above example, which was discussed in the light of WP:RS, does not even need to be famous? --Lumiere 20:34, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

Short answer: If Joe's thoughts on relativity are to be included in the relativity article, Joe better damn well be someone who's thoughts on relativity are somehow relevant. In other words, he better be an important physicist, not just some random person. This is true no matter what the source for Joe's thoughts are. Friday (talk) 22:50, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
How about if we just cut right to the chase and linked you the relevent discussion page so you can stop going from policy page to policy page begging people to say something that you can go use to try to browbeat your POV into an article, L? Talk:Natasha_Demkina. Hipocrite - «Talk» 23:04, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
I don't understand what is your problem. I am trying to understand the policies. I don't mind that we link to the Demkina page, if it is what you mean, but I didn't feel it would help here to explain my question. I am not just concerned by the Demkina article. --Lumiere 23:46, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
I guess my problem was that WP:RS does not support that understanding in anyway. Because, it is given as a reference to learn more, we would expect that it will include this concept and say even more. Because it does not contain exception for famous persons, in view of what Friday just said, WP:RS has to be interpreted as saying that Joe's personal web site can only be used to source statement of the form "Joes says Y" in which Y is directly about Joe himself or his Web site, not about something else like a new theory or whatever. It will be useful that WP:RS also mentions the exception. Note that I am not sure that I like this exception. If Joe is so important and the statement is relevant, why don't he publish this statement in an article in some reputable source. --Lumiere 23:46, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

Can someone summarise this policy 'in a nutshell'?

For Wikipedia:List of policies. A summary of 50 words or less of what this policy is about would be great. Thanks. Verifiability seems to mean different things to different people...Stevage 22:12, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

This paraphrases a bit using language from the article itself:
Because this is an encyclopedia, articles should refer only to facts, assertions, theories, ideas, claims, opinions, and arguments that have already been published by a reputable publisher. Articles should cite sources whenever possible. Articles or claims lacking a source may be removed.
44 words... how's that? --W.marsh 22:37, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
  • To that I would add "This will require good research". Fairly obvious, but apparently not obvious enough for many. - Taxman Talk 00:39, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
  • There is still room for one more word. (-:
  • I don't think "because this is an encylopedia" is relevant. Kappa 00:46, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
    • I agree. Traditional encyclopedias do not cite sources. Dpbsmith (talk) 01:21, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
      • Because they get experts to write the articles. And that's why they never have any errors, right? -- Dalbury(Talk) 01:50, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
        • In traditional encyclopedias, those experts are part of the chain of trust. The articles don't cite sources, but the major articles usually do credit their authors. We trust the EB editors to hire trustworthy authors, and we can check the authors' credentials. Wikipedia works in exactly the opposite way: we don't credit authors so we must cite sources.
      • Actually that phrase was not meant to be the justification for citing sources. "Because this is an encyclopedia" is the justificiation for writing about topics that actually have sources (whether you cite them or not). Whether an encyclopedia can contain original research or not is perhaps a debate for somewhere else. But I mean, if it's that contentious then fine... but I just thought it added emphasis to the need to have sources. --W.marsh 02:06, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
        • How about: "So that readers can judge the reliability of statements in Wikipedia, articles should refer only to facts, assertions, and opinions that have been already been published, by sources that are reasonably well-known and easily checked." Dpbsmith (talk) 02:22, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
          • I think something along the lines of "Articles should try to cite a good source. Dubious articles or claims lacking a source may be removed." should still be present, as it's something people should know in a nutshell (spend a few minutes look at newpages if you don't believe me). --W.marsh 02:28, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

(outdent) What about this? (49 words) ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 03:58, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

To provide evidence to readers on the reliability of material in Wikipedia, articles can refer only to facts, assertions, theories, ideas, claims, opinions, and arguments that have already been published by reliable and reputable sources. Articles should cite sources whenever possible. Any text lacking a source may be removed.

See Wikipedia:Verifiability/temp and the statement of policy therein, jguk 07:13, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

These are very good, but I see there is contention over whether only "dubious" claims should be removed, and also over whether sources should be "easily checked". There seems to be a "strong" version of this rule (maybe idealistic), where *everything* *must* be cited, and a "practical" version, where dubious claims should be linked to a URL. Which should we go with? Stevage 07:20, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

The policy (current version, at the top of the "When adding information" section) states "The burden of evidence lies with the editor who has made the edit. Editors should therefore provide references. Any edit lacking a source may be removed." You are right that some argue whether only "dubious" claims should be removed - but that is not what the policy provides for - all unsourced edits may be removed. The rewrite on Wikipedia:Verifiability/temp highlights the point even further, but does not change policy in this respect. I doubt anyone would be able to change the policy so that it only applies to "dubious" information (after all, what is "dubious" information?), jguk 12:59, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
The problem with the dubious clause is that it removes any incentive to provide sources; "Hey, I know about this, so it isn't dubious." I keep seeing the argument that if something is "common knowledge" it doesn't need a source. The problem is that something that is "common knowledge" to one person isn't necessarily so to others, and "common knowledge" is sometimes wrong. And what does "easily checked" mean? It is a lot harder for someone who is not familiar with a subject area to track down sources than it is for the editor who added the material. -- Dalbury(Talk) 12:41, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
De facto, we do accept lots of common knowledge items, particularly opinion-like statements in the lead paragraph which are implicitly summarizing the gist of material in the main article. For example, "Beethoven is widely regarded as one of history's supreme composers." They stay that way until challenged. When they really are common knowledge and are not controversial, they can remain that way for a very long time. Once challenged, however, they really do need to be sourced. The problem is that the only people likely to challenge "common knowledge" statements are people pushing a point of view. However, if a statement really is common knowledge, it should be easy to find a source. But it takes time. WP:SNOW sort of applies here. The WP:V policy shouldn't allow mischief-makers or POV-pushers to disrupt the encyclopedia by peremptory removal of "common knowledge" items that are so obviously common knowledge that there's not a snowball's chance in hell that they couldn't be sourced. Dpbsmith (talk) 13:33, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Interesting example. "Beethoven is widely reqarded as one of history's supreme composers" is a good example of weasel words, which we are supposed to avoid per Wikipedia:Avoid weasel words. As the guide says, "Weasel words don't really give a neutral point of view; they just spread hearsay, or couch personal opinion in vague, indirect syntax. It's better to put a name and a face on an opinion than to assign an opinion to an anonymous source." So, it needs to be sourced. -- Dalbury(Talk) 18:57, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
I just feel like people creating and editing articles should understand that claims need to be backed up by a good source, even if its not cited. As is well documented, a lot of people don't understand that (leading to problems minor and major), and defining the policy in a nutshell seems as good a place as any to clearly state what Wikipedia is about. I don't think every claim in every article needs a citation, but when questions are raised about a claim or an entire article, one should be able to be furnished. --W.marsh 16:30, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Interesting point. That seems to take us somewhere like this: Stevage 18:47, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Information on Wikipedia must be reliable. Facts, viewpoints, theories and claims in articles can must only be included if they have already been published by reliable and reputable sources. Articles should cite these sources whenever possible. Any unsourced material may be challenged and removed.
I like that wording best so far. Not to nitpick but the "can must" wording needs to be cleaned up, hehe. Just fixing that leaves us with: --W.marsh 19:46, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
''Information on Wikipedia must be reliable. Facts, viewpoints, theories and claims in articles should only be included if they have already been published by reliable and reputable sources. Articles should cite these sources whenever possible. Any unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

There is a difference between what can reasonably be expected of a decent first draft and what might be expected of a featured article. There is plenty that I am glad to see people add even without a fullblown set of citations. - Jmabel | Talk 23:45, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Uncited material may be removed but that doesn't mean it will be. The issue is when there's a question about whether a claim is true or not, that's when it's important to be able to cite a source. For example, we frequently see substubs along the lines of "X is a village in India's Y province". And that's fine, no need for a source for that claim off the bat. But if someone says "I don't think this village really exists" then the claim needs to be removed if a source can't be cited. --W.marsh 00:48, 30 January 2006 (UTC)


An article consists of many statements. I think there should be a way to give each statement an id number and a source. When an article is changed, it should be possible to get a list of new statements or statements that have been removed from the article. If statements with a source was removed from the article, there should be a special notice so this could be investigated to see if it was indeed irrelevant or useless information or if someone was vandalizing or trying to hide the truth. It would also be good with an AI algorithm to recognize when new statements were added to an article and give them id nubmers automatically, but I don't know how feasible that is.

Want to write it? Come back when you have. It's very hard to do. However, we can already manually divide up an article into statements, and provide sources for each one, say, on a subpage(like [[

Talk:Warren Beatty/References|this one]]). If you want to work on sourcing, that's the way to do it. JesseW, the juggling janitor 18:40, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

One possibility for something I think could be useful for something like this is dividing the statements into triples that can be modeled in RDF. I've seen this is being implemented in the Semantic MediaWiki project. That is a start at least. For example when a triple is removed from the triplestore, that would indicate that a statement has been removed from the article and there could be a notice on the diff page about which statements have been removed. If each statement has a URI to identify it, it should be possible to assign sources to that URI. For example if you look at Talk:Warren Beatty/References. "now known as Warren Beatty, is an American actor, producer, screenwriter, and director." If you take Warren Beatty as the subject, you'd get statements like "-previously known as- Henry Warren Beaty", "-is an- American actor", "-is a- Producer"- "-is a- screenwriter", "-is a- director". Then you could assign a source to each of these statements. It would have to be userfriendly enough that people would use it though.
That does sound like a sexy idea; I'll look into the Semantic MediaWiki project... JesseW, the juggling janitor 21:09, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

Help wanted: request for comment on WP:V interpretation

Question about interpretation of WP:V.

When challenged to source an assertion that

"In the Tom and Jerry cartoons, each of the character's leitmotifs are inspired by Rhapsody in Blue and other Gershwin works."

a contributor responded by citing

Anyone interested, could you please look at that reference... which is anonymous and I think is from an open Wikipedia-site allowing contributions on the same or on a less restrictive basis Wikipedia does... and then comment here. My issue is that I don't believe a source is valid unless it can be traced to a person whose identity is known... and that a publisher imposes no publication requirements and therefore does not serve the quality control function implied by "reputable publisher."

Of course, if the cited source itself cited sources meeting WP:V that would be OK... as those sources could be used. But it doesn't.

TIA. Dpbsmith (talk) 18:26, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

New version going live

I've been bold and made the rewritten version the current version. The old version is in the archives, as indicated above. The rewritten version was largely welcomed by those commenting. The remaining concerns on the rewrite were that it might allow mass deletions of unsourced info without first making proper attempts at obtaining references. I have made an amendment to the new version to reflect this concetn, but no doubt others will have better ways of reflecting this. If you have a constructive way forward here, please feel free to suggest it, jguk 20:51, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

See also:Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/temp, jguk 20:54, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

Sources in languages other than English

The section Sources in languages other than English is now in the archive.

Recently I could help some wikipedians by pointing them to that section (regarding some ruler about whom significant sources were in Farsi).

I'm indifferent whether this section is in WP:V, or the "reliable sources" guideline or whatever, but not in an archived guideline.

What do you suggest? (that is a question to jguk, or whoever is interested) --Francis Schonken 09:50, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

I think the comment belongs at Wikipedia:Reliable sources and would welcome something about this point appearing there, jguk 12:34, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Thanks! In the mean while I was still thinking WP:CITE might be a good alternative too (but WP:CITE would be up for some general streamlining I suppose, its prose could be described "clear as mud but covering the ground"). Would that be a good idea?
Note that I think the *existing* Sources in languages other than English section actually well-written and effective, just looking for the most appropriate place to put it down. Or am I missing some content remarks on that section? --Francis Schonken 13:09, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
The only disadvantage I can see with that wording is its length. Is there a way of condensing the number of words whilst retaining the same meaning? jguk 14:55, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Did you mean the wording of WP:CITE or of Sources in languages other than English? (or both?) --Francis Schonken 14:58, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Probably both. Though admittedly the last time I tried to read WP:CITE I gave up because I couldn't understand it, jguk 20:02, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Anyway, until someone has time to rewrite/streamline passages that are official policy, they should not be archived IMHO, so for *the time being* I re-insert Sources in languages other than English in WP:V - I'm not going to fight the unfathomable forces of Wikipedia to try and insert that passage in either WP:CITE or WP:RS, in a rewritten format. If you feel like working on it, fine! I think you're pretty good in such rewriting, but please don't remove before it is accepted elsewere. --Francis Schonken 09:37, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

Reputability of Out-of-Print Books from Small or Unknown Publishers

Could somebody have a glance at User talk:Brockmanah#General verifiability? I'd appreciate outside opinions about the sourcing for various Brockman family articles. I'm not happy about the reliability of citations in family scrapbooks, either self-published or from very small publishers. 22:28, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

I appreciate "" asking for second opinions on this (though I do have additional sourcing to add. Here is my additional backgrount that I offered 86 on this:

Please note that these books are available in various US and UK libraries and that other sources are more widely available (eg. Virginia Familes volumes 1-4). The primary source is all of the birth, records, death records, letters and documentation. The Secondary source(s) are these books written to summarize these sources. Therefore I am summarizing the information from these sources in Wikipedia as a tertiary source as described in the verifiablity guideline. I will need some time to collect the additional sources that may be more available to you. Please allow me that time.Brockmanah 15:21, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

I've posted a request for outside opinion at Wikipedia talk:Verifiability. I'm happy to go with the consensus. 22:35, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

"Any edit lacking a source may be removed, but do not remove large tracts of Wikipedia without first giving people a chance to provide references to support their inclusion. If you doubt the accuracy or origin of an unsourced statement that has been in an article for a long time, delete it or move it to the talk page." I do not consider 2 days to be "a long time". I have additional sources I can list that are more easily accessed for you and I would appreciate the time to add those. Brockmanah 01:07, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Here are the references to make this easy:

With regard to the sources added thus far I will be adding the following:
  • Burke’s "Landed Gentry" Burke's peerage Ltd; Jubilee edition, Mr. Bernard Burke, Mr. Gordon Pirrie (Author/Compiler)
  • Hasted's History of Kent,: Corrected, enlarged, and continued to the present time, from the manuscript collection of the late Rev. Thomas Streatfeild and ... the public records, and other sources, ASIN: B000874L4G
  • Harris's History of Kent.
  • The history and antiquities of the county of Essex,: Compiled from the best and most ancient historians; Philip Morant, Reprinted and sold by Meggy and Chalk (January 1, 1816), ISBN: 0715813013, Another republishing, 1978.
  • The Brockman Papers, (Records in the British Museum).
  • The Brockman scrapbook;: Bell, Bledsoe, Brockman, Burrus, Dickson, James, Pedan, Putman, Sims, Tatum, Woolfolk, and related families (Unknown Binding)

by William Everett Brockman, ASIN: B0007E8Y48 (Out of Print), this information provided courtesy of Paul Brockman (Virginia)

  • Record of the Brockman and Drake-Brockman family (Privately Published)

by BRIG.-GEN David Henry Drake-Brockman C.M.G. 1936 provided courtesy of Hugh-Drake Brockman (UK), ASIN: B00089U71U (Out of Print)

  • Brockman & Drake-Brockman Family Tree : the Australian Branch 1830-1993.

(Menora, WA : Alan Jackson, 1993) ISBN: 0-646-18200-5

I will be working to Harvardize and elaborate on these sources, and I haven't added the Virginia Families Volumes yet, which I will, if you give me some time. I think that this sourcing is pretty good even if some of the books are rare (most of them are listed on, some of them were published with multiple editions over many decades, eg. Morant's Essex republished 1816.

Thanks Brockmanah 01:40, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

I read the discussion. I agree that the sourcing here is good and up to wikipedia's standards. I can see the editor's point that the books are not widely published, but there is a lot of referencing and a great many people seem to have access to the books. I think it would be better to see how the article stands up to other editors over time, who have collected other data or viewpoints from the web or other sources. I think the material presented compares well with other wikipedia articles of a biographical or geneaolgical nature, particularly referring to a family. Furthermore, if we demand only sourcing out of major publishers, we will only have biograhies of major figures (Bush, Clinton, the Windsors, et cetera) and it would be pleasingly egalitarian to allow more families to have material like this available. Finally, the sourcing here compares well or better than that of other "Encylopeadic" biographical dictionaries like Burke's Peerage and others. In my opinion this article is better sourced than those dictionaries, which occasionally allow mythological anecdotes in the interest of selling more copies. 01:11, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

"Personal communication" as a cited source

I realize that "Personal communication" is not normally used a citable reference in Wikipedia, but... which is preferable? A) statements supported a reference to personal communication with an expert or B) statements with no supporting reference. (The particular case I'm interested in is the article on Carol Tyler, in which I supported some statements by citing personal communication with Carol Tyler). Your opinions, please. ike9898 00:33, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia policy dictates that we go with C) if a supporting reference cannot be found, the information should be removed from Wikipedia, jguk 07:25, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Personal communication isn't verifiable information. Information that can only be gotten by talking to the subject of the article shouldn't be in the article at all. Jkelly 00:36, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
My only issue with your statement is that this same information is the standard type of thing you see as an un-cited fact in Wikipedia articles. Is it really better to remove a citation that explains the source of the information? These articles are works in progress; it seems like a natural progression for the articles to move from unreferenced, to poorly referenced, to well referenced. I'm just wondering what logic says than no reference is preferable to weak reference. ike9898 00:54, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
I note that scholarly works often cite soem facts in this way. Still this is geenrally a bad idea on wikipedia, IMO. DES (talk) 00:56, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes, given all the other arguments made further down on the this page, why should Wikipedia's standards for verifyability be higher than those of scholarly publications? I think a more realistic standard would be that a very small proportion of citations should refer to these harder to verify sources. ike9898 14:42, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
Scholarly publications don't accept articles from anonymous authors (at least the legitimate ones don't). Many scholarly publications have articles submitted to them reviewed by established experts on the subjects of the articles before publishing them. Wikipedia editors are essentially all anonymous, and there is no process of 'peer-review' before added material appears in Wikipedia. That is why we have strict standards on sources for material going into Wikipedia. -- Dalbury(Talk) 18:47, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
That's an argument I haven't heard before, and I agree with it. Well said. Verifiability becomes more important when the reliability of the contributor is unknown (and is mostly the case at Wikipedia). ike9898 19:00, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
I will undermine my own argument by pointing out that it is debatable whether "personal communication" constitutes "original research". Personally, I think it depends too much on specifics for a general rule. ike9898 01:00, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Let me ask a related question. I intend to attend a public lecture on a topic I'm interested in, the Sunol Water Temple. Can I cite this lecture if I draw information from it for the article? ike9898 01:40, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Any information added to Wikipedia has to be verifiable by other editors. How can other editors verify information garnered from a lecture? If you cite a source on the web, others can look it up. If you cite a book or magazine or newspaper that had or has some minimum distribution, you can look it up in a library, or request it through interlibrary loan. If the only source for an item is more obscure than that, the information doesn't belong in Wikipedia. -- Dalbury(Talk) 02:49, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Ike, if you write to whoever will give that lecture, they may be able to point you in the direction of a written source, which would allow you to add that information, jguk 07:21, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

I'm afraid that the discussion on this page is out of touch with the reality of Wikipedia. I know for a fact that I will attract less attention from "verifiability hawks" if I simply add completely unsourced statements. It is a reality that that is most of what Wikipedia is. The stance that completely unsourced statements are preferable seems illogical, and no one here has even attempted to explain to me why I am wrong. I invite your arguments against my view; I think this is worth discussion. If this topic has been well covered by previous discussion, please show me where, because I am genuinely interested. ike9898 14:47, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Some of us are trying to do something about that, but too many editors throw a fit at the idea that unsourced edits should be removed. I can mark articles as 'unreferenced' all I want, but that just gets ignored 95% of the time, and I've had other editors get mad at me for daring to put the 'unreferenced' tag on an article page. And where do you see that unreferenced statements are preferable? The policy is that if a reliable, verifiable source does not exist, the material does not belong in Wikipedia. Point to material that you know has no verifiable source, and I will remove it. -- Dalbury(Talk) 18:08, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
I'm just surprised that no one here will acknowledge that all aspects of Wikipedia articles, including references, are works in progress, and that a certain degree of 'imperfection' has to be tolerated in an unfinished work. Yes, we should push for improvements in the verifiablility of articles, but given the current state of Wikipedia, applying the rules on verfiablity with too much zeal is disruptive. Using the 'unreferenced' tag is not helpful; just like other aspects of articles, the Wikipedia ideal is "if you think you can make the article better than it is, then do it". ike9898 18:30, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
And I have added references to articles when I could, but I can't fix every damn article in the Wikipedia. If you think that trying to get other editors to help improve an article by providing references is disruptive, I have a real problem with that. -- Dalbury(Talk) 19:04, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

A personal communication to an editor of Wikipedia, regardless if this person is an expert or not, is not acceptable as per WP:V, period. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 18:47, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

  1. Articles should contain only material that has been published by reputable sources.
  2. Editors adding new information into an article should cite a reputable source for that information, otherwise it may be removed by any editor.
  3. The obligation to provide a reputable source is on editors wishing to include information, not on those seeking to remove it.

Well since no one here will address the point I was trying to make, it is pointless to continue this discussion. ike9898 19:21, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

The points were profusely addressed. A summary:
Your question: I realize that "Personal communication" is not normally used a citable reference in Wikipedia, but... which is preferable? A) statements supported a reference to personal communication with an expert or B) statements with no supporting reference. . The answer is neither is preferable. That information is not suitable for inclusion in Wikipedia. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 20:08, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Good grief. Do you think that because people don't agree with your position (less than one day after you posted it), they're not addressing your point? Yes, it's well known that there are tons and tons of Wikipedia articles that don't comply with our standards of verifiability, neutrality, etc. That is not a reason to actively make them less compliant.
And (to address your point as specifically as I possibly can, though this may not be what you want to hear)... although no one here actually said, as you claimed they said, that "unsourced statements are preferable", at least a statement that hasn't been sourced yet is theoretically verifiable by someone searching for Web or print references - whereas your personal communication cite is effectively saying "You will never be able to know whether Carol Tyler really said this to me; this fact is lodged only in my own mind and on Wikipedia, and you must trust me." (See JKelly's discussion of "unverified vs. unverifiable" below.) You're absolutely right that adding unsourced statements will "attract less attention", but that's just because adding any kind of citation gets attention, and that's because we're in such desperate need of verifiable citations. You might as well say that passing counterfeit $1 bills will get less attention than $1000 bills. That kind of reasoning has nothing to do with writing good-quality articles.
(Also, everyone has their own article watchlists and their own standards - it's not a matter of "hawks" versus everyone else. And in this case, I happened to notice your unusual citation because it was also unnecessary - you used it to support facts that were already in the previously cited newspaper article!) ←Hob 20:34, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
And: you said you're not convinced that personal communication is original research. Well, according to the meaning of "original research" on Wikipedia, it definitely is: "primary sources" include an interview, and "Original research that creates primary sources is not allowed". Talking to the artist is the job of a journalist or biographer, which is different from the job of an encyclopedist. ←Hob 20:40, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
I have a problem here. I do not think that it should be necessary to refer to the concept of primary source to declare personal communication as original research. It is sufficient to say that the information was not published in a reputable source. It just turns out that any research that is done by a wikipedian to create a primary source is by definition not yet published. As soon as this primary source material gets published in a reputable source, it becomes acceptable for inclusion in Wikipedia. In the talk page of no original research, I argue that the division primary/secondary source is not really needed in this policy, except to filter the special case of articles that only compile primary source materials. A WP article cannot just compile primary source materials, like a database or similar source of primary data. Though, this is also taken care in Wikipedia is NOT. Lumière 20:54, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Current practice

(Mellower now, sorry) I guess what I need is someone to tell me whether the following series of statments is true:

  1. Facts supported by a verifiable source are acceptable
  2. Facts without any supporting reference are de facto acceptable (if you have worked on wikipedia long this is an undeniable reality)
  3. Facts supported by a difficult to verify source are unacceptable

That's my whole point. This application of the policy seems to value Wikipedia's ideals without a reasonable acknowledgement of Wikipedia's current reality. ike9898 22:37, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

My understanding is that the following is common practice, or is becoming so:

  1. Uncontroversial facts without references, but for which references exist, should be left.
  2. Facts without references, which an editor thinks are probably true but may not be, should be marked {citeneeded}
  3. Potentially libellous facts (eg, Mr X was suspected of rape...) without cited sources should be removed immediately (regardless of whether the editor believes them to be true).
  4. Uncited facts which an editor thinks are probably not true should be removed to the talk page.
  5. Cited facts which seem dubious, but which cannot be immediately checked, pose a problem.

Do others agree with my assessment of the state of affairs? We really need to move beyond this simplistic and unrealistic attitude of "everything must be cited, and anything that isn't should be removed". Stevage 22:51, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

I think Stevage's #1 is realistic. In my attempt to comply with the verifiabily policy I have sought to support my new edits with references. When a solid reference was not immediately available, I went with the best reference I could find at the time, in this particular case a personal communication. But in this case the facts were uncontroversial and could probably be verified by some reference I am not aware of. With Stevage's #1, I would have left these uncontroversial facts unreferenced until I could locate a reliable source. However, I get the feeling that many of you don't agree with this. The first response I got to my question (@ start of this section) was "if a supporting reference cannot be found, the information should be removed from Wikipedia". Do you really think that is realistic? Really? ike9898 23:21, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes I do. If I decide to edit an article that has no sources, I leave in only what I can find sources for. If someone else wants other material to stay, they can provide the sources. -- Dalbury(Talk) 23:45, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Okay, I guess we disagree. But I think you would get a reality check if you removed all the unreferenced material from 20 random articles. (Don't do it - it would violate "Don't disrupt Wikipedia to prove a point" & it certainly would be disruptive). ike9898 23:59, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
And why do you bring in the strawman argument of deleting material from random articles? I said I feel free to delete material when I am working on an article and providing references. If I can't readily find references for material, why shouldn't I remove it, when I am going to the trouble of providing references for what I leave in or add? Again, if someone else feels strongly enough about keeping something in, they can find the references for it. I object to any attempt to protect unsourced material from being deleted. If it's deleted, and it's important enough, and verifiable, someone can put it back in with sources cited. -- Dalbury(Talk) 00:35, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
Please keep in mind that we're all independent editors here and there are differences of opinion on a lot of things. This is one of them. Some editors are quite bold in their deletion of unsourced claims, even if they're uncontroversial; most are not, as you can tell by the content of most WP articles. Eight people happened to see your question here and respond so far, and four of them said no unsourced statement should be included - but since they're not running around mass-deleting articles, I'm not sure why this bothers you so. The policy page, not the talk page, reflects the current consensus... and when there are disagreements over specific edits, we resolve them by talking about those edits, so it's not a disaster if the policy fails to pre-judge every case with crystal clarity. If you add something and no one argues with it, it's in, until someone else takes it out, and then we can all argue and come to a consensus. In this case, you're trying to argue a principle that could have really bad consequences for WP if it were generally applied... and you're using a really weak case, because as far as I can tell, the fact you were trying to source was not only uncontroversial, but already sourced. ←Hob 00:21, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
OK ike9898 00:31, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
Ike, obviously your statement #1 is true. #3 is basically true, though in the case of citing personal communication it's "impossible to verify", not "difficult to verify". As much as possible should be cited - but everything must be verifiable. As for #2, it depends on the facts; as Stevage's list shows, some common sense is involved and there are different remedies for different situations. Why is this not "a reasonable acknowledgement of Wikipedia's current reality"? ←Hob 23:03, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Not to quibble, but the substance of a personal communication IS difficult BUT NOT impossible to verify. I'm sure your imagination can fill in the details of how a third party could could verify a personal communication reference. ike9898 23:26, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
And how can someone else verify the contents of a personal communication? If the contents of the communication can be found in published sources, cite those. Otherwise, don't put the information in Wikipedia. -- Dalbury(Talk) 23:45, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
If it's from spoken conversation, then the only way is to contact Carol Tyler; if any significant number of readers started doing that, she would quickly take steps to make it impossible, and it'll become permanently impossible in a few decades anyway. If it's from a signed letter in your possession, it's useful to historians but it's still not publicly available. If it's an E-mail, forget it. Have I left anything out? ←Hob 00:27, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
A written commication can be scanned and posted to a non-wiki website. An email can be simialrly posted. A verbal communication could be so posted if it had be recorded, or the person could ask the source to confirm in a written communication. For the matter of that, an individual could publish a personal account of a conversatiuon on a website and then cite that publication -- not a high-quality source, perhaps, but not nothing at all, either. DES (talk) 00:32, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
All of those methods would violate the spirit, if not the principal of Wikipedia:Verifiability, Wikipedia:Cite sources and/or Wikipedia:Reliable sources. If it's something that someone has simply posted to the web, how can anyone verify the material actually exists. That is why we have the guideline on Reliable sources. Now, if you can get a newspaper to publish the material, then it becomes citable. That is the general picture, if the material is published by an established and reputable source of information on the subject area, then you can use that source in Wikipedia. Self-publishing doesn't cut it. -- Dalbury(Talk) 11:11, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
A scan of a physical leter including letterhead and signature, while not unfakable, is pretty good evidence, IMO. A web posting of an email or an account of a conversation ios of littel value, it is true. DES (talk) 19:36, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
And Dan Rather is now retired because he accepted what he thought were the original typed copies of documents. Sorry, no, on principal a scanned document is not acceptable as a reliable verifiable source. -- Dalbury(Talk) 20:01, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
point noted, but many of the sources cited in publsihed histories stand on no greater strength than that the author says s/he saw a physical copy of a document, and trusted it. Such evidence, while as i said is it not unfakable, might be reasonable support for non-controversial statements. But i won't labor the point futher. DES (talk) 20:14, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
If an author falsifies material in a book, or violates copyright, or libels someone, he or she (or, at worst, the publisher) can be called to account. If an anonymous editor does the same thing in Wikipedia, it is the Foundation that will get called to account on legal violations, and Wikipedia as a whole that will suffer for publishing falsified information. If we can point to a published source for whatever is in an article, we can't be accused of inventing it. -- Dalbury(Talk) 22:17, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
For what it's worth, to answer the original question, yes personal communication is considered unverifiable. If information exists *only* in unpublished information, it should not be included. Think about it. "George Bush has admitted to taking heorin[1]" [1] Personal communication. Such information should be removed on sight. If the information has *also* been published, then you should just include it without the personal correspondance citation, as per generally begrudgingly accepted practice. If you actually know the citation where the information was published, then by all means include that. In all three cases: do not cite personal communication as a source. Stevage 18:33, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
Well, how about really uncontroversial facts: A bio article about a newly appointed bishop (with university career, published some books) the official note of the church gives the year he was born. Usually Wikipedia gives the full date of birth, but this is neither in an official communication nor in any of his books. Upon asking the bishops office, there comes a mail with the exact birthdate (and a foto with GNU licence). The fact (exact birthday vs. year) is really uncontroversial and it does not qualify as vanity text, and the bishop himself could add it per Wikipedia:Autobiography. Moreover, it could be verified by anyone through another mail to the bishops's office - but to add such a fact looks to be illegal by now, because the source is unpublished. As it happens, the fact in that case has also been published in the local newspapers of the time (as all births), so, actually, there exists even a "reputable source", which is a local non-English European newspaper issue some fifty years ago...). The "personal communication" could be verified by mail - the reputable source, well, you'd have to go to a European University library with a real good archive... so that's in actual practice rather not verifiable. Would it be ok, today, to add such a fact and give the source? - And if added without giving the source, would there really be someone who deletes it, just for having no source - not the least indication it is controversial? Or should I add as source "Berner Tagblatt", July 19xx - something anyone could give as source out of the blue air and, in case of an uncontroversial fact, be pretty sure no one would really take the pains to verify? Irmgard 01:38, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Unverified vs. unverifiable

There seems to be some (understandable) confusion in the above discussion. Let me use an example. If I attend a speech by Notable Person, and NP says in the speech that they attended University U. and I then add that fact to the article, I have added unverified information. I'm being lazy, insofar as I am expecting some other editor to find a source that confirms that, but I have a reasonable expectation that the information can be sourced. If, however, after the speech I have a coffee with NP and ask them if they knew a certain professor at Uni. U., and they respond "I haven't thought about that person in years! Why, upon consideration, they had a profound impact on my understanding of the development of [something completely unrelated to NPs field]!" and I then put that in the article, I am adding unverifiable information which does not belong in Wikipedia. I hope that this example helps to clarify why there may exist vast amounts of unreferenced material on Wikipedia and yet many editors are concerned about the idea of adding "personal conversation" material to articles. Jkelly 19:52, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

If you add the information, you should provide verifiable sources for it. To quote [[Wikipedia:Citing sources}}, In general, even if you are writing from memory, you should actively search for authoritative references to cite. If you are writing from your own knowledge, then you should know enough to identify good references that the reader can consult on the subject. Adding information without providing verifiable sources is lazy and disrespectful to other editors. -- Dalbury(Talk) 19:58, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
...and is common practice. I think the correct terminology here is that adding adding information without references is adding "uncited" or "unsourced" information. "Unverified" would mean that you've provided a source but no one has actually checked it yet. "Unverifiable", as correctly stated, is information for which a source is very unlikely to exist. Of course there is a lot on Wikipedia that is in the murky area between these two terms - information for which published sources may or may not exist, and for which those sources may or may not be reputable.Stevage 22:55, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
OK, unsourced. But still, how can I tell if something is verifiable if no sources are provided. It should not be my responsibility to hunt around for sources for something someone else added. If the editor adding information is unable to cite reliable sources, it should never be added. If I do decide to work on an article that has no sources cited, I feel free to drop anything I can't find sources for. The simple fact is that if an item is unsourced, it's unverifiable. It is only when a source is provided that the item becomes verifiable. -- Dalbury(Talk) 23:39, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Here is how it typically works (which by the way I endorse). Facts are usually unchallenged. Sometimes an article is controversial or attracts people with specialized knowledge, who then challenge facts. As you suggest, it is not your responsibility to track down every source. In these cases the common practice is to call attention to the questionable fact and ask if whoever originally put it in can provide the source. If that doesn't work, ask if anyone can provide a source. If that doesn't work, you have two choices, both of which are acceptable: (1) say "I participate in this project in order to learn things" and do your own detective work to see if you can find the source. Even if you don't, you may find other verifiable and to use Jkelly's term, verified, information you can contribute to the article, or (2) delete the unsourced part. We are a somewhat anarchic community of people dedicated to creating a quality encyclopedia guided by certain policies. The whole idea behind the semi-anarchic element is faith that over time, a lot of people can produce good articles. This will necessarily involve some people adding, and others cutting. As long as additions and deletions are made in good faith and comply with our policies, we just have to have faith that over time the strengths of all of our contributers will overcome the weaknesses. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:33, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

Sources other than English

I disagree with the removal. WP:CITE is a guideline, not policy. The need for English sources is an integral part of Verifiability. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 15:46, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

It didn't go to WP:CITE but to Wikipedia:Reliable sources, which is surely the right place for it, jguk 16:34, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
[WP:RS]] is also a guideline, not policy. SO if you think that it is necessary to make a change in Wikipedia policy, please seek consensus before doing so. Deleting a whole section from an agreed policy without prior discussion may not be the best way to go about it, don't you think? ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 16:44, 2 February 2006 (UTC)


This page is an official policy on the English Wikipedia. It has wide acceptance among editors and is considered a standard that all users should follow. Feel free to edit the page as needed, but please make sure that changes you make to this policy reflect consensus before you make them.

(the comment in bold above was added by Jossi)

There has been a long period of discussion about this, it is not anything new. It's more a case that your edit is out of place.

This page summarises succinctly what our policy is. It is short and to the point, which is exactly what we want to be able to point to. What you are suggesting is increasing its length by 50% to discuss a rather arcane issue of when we should use references that are not in English. Now don't get me wrong, I am most certainly not saying we should remove all guidance on the subject, but I do believe that it is a relatively minor point and that by giving it undue weight here we lose some of the force of the main thrust of the policy. It certainly demotes in importance the "other comments", which refers to WP:NOR, which I see as being far more important than the issue of foreign-language sources.

This section does most properly belong in Reliable Sources, and it's clear from the above that Francis Schonken does not see it as being out of place there. I see no problem in having it as a guideline (after all, the format of WP:V makes it clear what the policy is, with the implication that everything outside the policy box is a guideline rather than policy). I also note that since I added the section to WP:RS five hours ago, it has generated absolutely no discussion whatsoever (which implies that it has hardly caused an outrage by being added there).

All the best, jguk 17:41, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

Sorry, but I respectfully disagree. You cannot unilateraly delete a whole section from an agreed wikipedia policy. The burden is on you to argue for the removal of that section and gain consensus, not the opposite. As for the inclusion in WP:RS, that is a guideline and not policy as stated by the header. If you persist in unilateraly remnove agreed policy, I will ask place an RfC to ask other editors to comment. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 18:23, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
RfC requested on this subject. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 18:27, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

The rewrite has been discussed at length and the archive is at the top of the page. This discussion was well-publicised on the village pump, IRC, the mailing list and RfC and was participated in by many Wikipedians. Just because you did not participate in that discussion does not allow you to come here later and say that because you disagree with something, it has not been discussed! Nor is there any "deletion" here at all, since the text appears in WP:RS.

I note that you have not addressed the points I raised above - in particular, why should one-third of our page on verifiability be given over to what is really quite an arcane subject? Why is WP:RS not an appropriate place for it? Do we really want to point those unfamiliar with our verifiability policy to a long discourse about foreign language sources before noting that a consequence of the verifiability policy is that we do not allow original research? Where's the proportionality in this? And do we really need detailed mandatory instructions for everything? jguk 18:33, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

You may not be aware of the importance of this aspect of verifiability, but it is a crucial one, from my experience. As for the disproportion, you can summarize this very important aspect if you wish and provide the detail somewhere else, bot not just delete it from the policy. And yes, we need instructions about the content policies of Wikipedia. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 18:41, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
He's right, there was extensive discussion of this rewrite to the policy. So while his repeatedly reverting the material out isn't terribly productive, neither is repeatedly reverting it back in. It's really simple people, very few edits are so urgent that repeated reverts are needed. I also acknowledge the problem that the article the material is being moved to is a guideline and not a policy, and there was extensive discussion formulating the policy on non English sources. - Taxman Talk 18:49, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
I am aware of the discussion, as I participated in these as well. In the spirit of what you have said, I have summarized the section into one paragrah and wikilinked to WP:RS. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 18:59, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
I haven't read everything above; sorry, I will later. This is just a brief comment to say that this issue has been widely discussed and it's agreed that some reference to English-language sources taking priority should be policy. We can't just move it to RS, because RS isn't policy. Cheers, SlimVirgin (talk) 23:27, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

This edit by Jossi makes the point succinctly in one sentence. This is much more reasonable - and infinitely more readable! - and I, for one, am happy with that amendment, jguk 11:47, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

Section needs to go somewhere:

The section in the old policy that discussed writing: "Andi Mallarangeng, spokesperson for Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesia's president, told reporters: "Suicide bombers in open places. You can't put metal detectors everywhere. You have to be realistic." [1]"


"After the bombing, a spokesperson in Bali said you can't have total security."

left the policy. This needs to be added to a guideline page, but I don't see it anywhere. I wanted to reference it to someone today. Hipocrite - «Talk» 00:16, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

What's the point that you actually want to make? If they have provided a source, then rewrite the sentence that is being supported by the source so it is more precise. If they haven't, then remove the sentence until they do provide a source (making it clear what your objection is), jguk 11:49, 3 February 2006 (UTC)
It's obvious to you and me that that's how it works. Please place that info in a policy or guideline, thanks. Hipocrite - «Talk» 12:22, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

Verifiability not Truth

What I miss from the new version is the statement that the criterion for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. Especially written bold so it stands out. That way, you can point a newbie here who insists on adding unverifiable information that they "know" to be true to back you up when you tell them they can't include it. Angr/talk 06:18, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

The aim of the new version is to define our policy in positive terms (ie by what it is), rather than by what it isn't. It's still possible to say - LOOK, our policy is that you must add verifiable information - if what you say is true, then it should be possible for you to find a reputable source that supports it and you can re-add it then, jguk 08:34, 3 February 2006 (UTC)
Jon, I readded "verifiability, not truth." It's a phrase that people remember and learn by. I've lost count of how many times it has persuaded a newbie that they can't add something just because they personally know it to be correct. I think it's also important to say immediately what "verifiability" means, because we don't mean that editors should try to verify the truth of material, which is how the word is normally used, but simply that they should verify that it's been published by a credible third-party source. So I've opened the intro with: "The criterion for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. This means that we only publish material that is verifiable with reference to credible, published sources." —Preceding unsigned comment added by SlimVirgin (talkcontribs) 11:58, 3 February 2006
I agree. Many newbies aren't persuaded by "if what you say is true, then it should be possible for you to find a reputable source that supports it", because they know things that are true from personal observation. I encounter this all the time on articles about dialects of English: people saying "I don't think the original research policy should apply to this page, because I know how people in my part of the world speak, so why shouldn't I be allowed to add it?" So having already sent them to WP:NOR, where they weren't persuaded, I can send them here too, to back it up with a somewhat different argument. Angr/talk 15:34, 3 February 2006 (UTC)
You are describing a situation where an editor does not agree, or want to comply with, a policy. Come the end of the day, you just have to put your foot down and say "this is the policy we have adopted". Yes, we could have adopted other policies, but we haven't - and if an editor wants to contribute to Wikipedia, they need to accept (though not necessarily agree with) those policies. If they can't, they have to go elsewhere, and merely restating our policy a hundred different ways isn't going to help, jguk 08:26, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

I think it's important to continue to stress this policy in positive terms - although I understand that sometimes it is useful to point to someone to something that says "if you think that, you are mistaken" when they do think that and are mistaken. I've therefore reverted Sarah and instead added a new sentence to "Other comments" that deals expressly with the point (and, indeed, slightly expands on the text Sarah was proposing). By all means, slightly reword my suggestion, but do keep it short and within the other comments section, jguk 08:19, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

Jon, I've re-added "verifiability, not truth," because it really is very helpful to state it right up front. It's memorable, it's somewhat counter-intuitive so it strikes people as interesting (which is what makes it memorable), and it's short and to the point. I see no reason to abandon it. I've used it many times to explain V and NOR to newbies, and it works.
Also, your intro doesn't explain what the policy is, or what "verifiable" means. Apart from the explanation of how we have four content policies, yours says: "Wikipedia should only publish material that is verifiable". Mine says: "The criterion for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. This means that we only publish material that is verifiable with reference to credible, published sources."
I think the second version explains what the policy means. SlimVirgin (talk) 08:28, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
Jon, please don't do the ownership thing. Just because people didn't object to something missing from the draft doesn't mean they won't object to it missing from the policy. It's a good phrase. It was in the policy for a long time and it's helpful. Please leave it. SlimVirgin (talk) 08:32, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

Sarah, the exposure draft was open on this for a long time, and I did invite you specifically to comment, and you noted that, for whatever reason, you were unable to find the time to comment on it. Under these circumstances, I think it's unfair for you now to raise something so fundamental to the presentation as this. (And I see this as a presentational issue, as I am not opposing a reference to what you are saying going under "other comments" - which I think addresses your "missing" point.) There were not great concerns raised by others on this presentational point. I will, however, outline the reasoning for not saying this upfront.

It is very unhelpful to start a policy off with a negative (saying what it is not) rather than to express it in positive terms. I did realise that eliminating all negative guidance from the page is going too far - but it is deliberate that it is in the final section under a neutral heading "other comments" rather than having lots of "nots" dotted throughout the page (or worse still, on a heading). (Incidentally, I really hate WP:NOT.)

The format of the page, I feel, makes it clear what the policy is (namely the three statements in the box). In fact, the box itself does not use the word "verifiable" at all, but is clearly setting out what, in WP terms, "verifiability" amounts to. The implication from the page is also that, whilst what is in the box is policy, the rest of the page is guidance on the policy, not policy itself. Again, this is quite deliberate. WP policies rarely have any meaning beyond their title (regardless of how convoluted the supporting page is), which is why anything that needs to be said that isn't necessarily said in the title, has to be said up front and quickly.

Note in particular that I am not eliminating references to verifiability not necessarily being the same as truth - merely moving them. Nor am I suggesting that the phraseology I added should remain with that wording, please feel free to tweak it as you see fit (but leaving out the bold font:) ). As comments on this are still on the page they can easily be referenced to. Also, as the page is much shorter now, everything on it has that much more force, jguk 08:44, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

Jon, the policy can't be forever tied to what the draft said. I agree about the need to be concise. That's what is great about the phrase "verifiability, not truth." It sums up the entire policy in three words. (I don't see how it matters that you express something negatively, not positively; and anyway, that sentence isn't only negative). The biggest mistake newbies and POV pushers make is to think that, because they believe/know something to be true, it can be inserted into articles. Here we tell them straight off that truth is not the issue. SlimVirgin (talk) 08:59, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

I'm not suggesting that the wording in the draft is sacrosanct and immutable - I am suggesting that the main features of the draft have been discussed very recently and that you are a lone dissenter here. I also note that when I wrote above that policies should be defined by negatives I meant any negatives, not that half-positive and half-negative is a good idea.

I've added the sentence "And just because information is true, doesn't mean that it meets our verifiability requirements - information has to be sourced if it is to have a place in Wikipedia (although, of course, if information is true, you should be able to find a ready reputable source for it)." Does that not sum up the position neatly? or is there preferable wording?

I'm perplexed by your assertion that "verifiability, not truth" sums up the policy neatly in three words, when "verifiability" sums up the policy even more neatly in one word. It is that word "verifiability" rather than anything else that we should be stressing. After all, why should someone reading this policy for the first time even be thinking about truth? And there you go making them think about the last thing you want them to think about right up front. Much better to express ourselves positively and then dispel common misperceptions at the end after we have explained what the policy really is, jguk 09:11, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

Jon, I find it worrying that you won't allow anyone to make an edit that consists of just a few words. I'm not a "lone dissenter": it was Angr's saying he liked the phrase that drew my attention to its deletion. "Verifiability" doesn't sum up the policy, because it's not clear what it means, and in fact, it could be encouraging OR. Normally, when we verify something, we check out whether it's true. By making it clear that we mean "verifiability, not truth," we dispel that misunderstanding immediately. SlimVirgin (talk) 09:16, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
Hardly, Sarah. What I object to is changing the first sentence so that the whole policy has an entirely different tone. A reader will be thinking about "truth" all through reading it - rather than "verifiability" - just because that is what you are mentioning.
The same principle is often demonstrating by asking someone not to imagine something like a blue house, say. Whatever you do, don't think about a blue house. Think about anything at all, except for a blue house. At the end of saying that, everyone who is listening to you is thinking about a blue house, and had you not said it, no-one would be thinking about a blue house. Put another way, don't tell someone not to think about what you don't want them to think about!
"Verifiability" does sum up what the policy means, and the policy itself appears in bold in a big box under a heading "The policy" just after the first (short) paragraph.
You still haven't said what's wrong with mentioning the point under "other comments" at the end (as opposed to right up front). Maybe you'd like to link into a new Wikipedia:Verifiability, not truth page so you can expound on your point, jguk 09:30, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

"Verifiability, not truth" is an absolutely critical component of the verifiability policy, and should be mentioned right up front. Many new editors insist that the "truth" must be presented in whatever article they are interested in, and the truth consist of what they "know" to be true. However, "truth" is an elusive and slippery concept at best; Wikipedia instead presents what is verifiable. We need to make that absolutely clear, and the current up-front statement is an excellent way of doing so. Jayjg (talk) 00:10, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia:No original research

Incidentally, I should add that we no longer need WP:NOR as a policy (it can sit quite comfortably as a guideline), as what is in WP:NOR follows directly and necessarily from WP:V. It would be good to reduce the size of our policies to the bare minimum (as it makes them easier to understand and to show newbies). WP:NOR is, however, very useful as a guideline, and should be kept in that role, jguk 08:26, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

There's no need to alter the status of NOR. If you want to get rid of one, it's arguably V that follows from NOR, not the other way around. SlimVirgin (talk) 08:30, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
It would be very useful to condense policy so that it can be easily read and understood by newbies and outsiders. We have far too much of it (and it changes on a daily, and possibly hourly, basis), jguk 08:46, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
You're in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Editors who work on controversial articles will likely confirm that the details of the NOR and V policies matter, because POV pushers on those pages do their best to find loopholes. The NOR page was re-drafted about nine months ago (from memory), after being worked on for several months by quite a few editors, and it's been very stable since then. SlimVirgin (talk) 08:54, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
I'm suggesting that WP:NOR should be recognised as a well-accepted guideline which interprets the WP:V policy in a particular given area. Because what is in there follows from WP:V, the guidance is essentially mandatory, jguk 09:03, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
Why aren't you arguing that V follows from NOR? SlimVirgin (talk) 09:04, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
If I deleted all the references in, say, Sydney Riot of 1879, it would no longer be verifiable. It would still, however, not constitute original research, jguk 09:32, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
It would if you couldn't find any. The NOR policy is the primary one. It says that Wikipedia will not publish the ideas, beliefs, or arguments of Wikipedia editors. That is the essence of NOR. It follows from this that, in order to establish that an idea, belief, or argument isn't just something being advocated by a Wikipedian, we have to show that it is in the public domain. Hence, WP:V. V rests on NOR, not the other way round. SlimVirgin (talk) 09:47, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
But I can find plenty of references for that article. If I deleted them, I'd still be able to find them, they just wouldn't be in the article - it would comply with WP:NOR but not WP:V. Also, nothing in that article constitutes an idea, belief or argument that I have. On the other hand, you will not find something that does not comply with WP:V, but which does, however, comply with WP:NOR, jguk 10:03, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

I followed closely what is going on with these policies and I do not support at all the proposal to get rid of no original research as a policy. For some reason, verifiability has moved all descriptions of what is a reputable sources into WP:reliable source, which is a guideline. This is a mistake because the definition of a reputable source is perhaps the most important part of the policy. If you don't know what is a reputable source, you don't know the policy. Also WP:reliable source does not provide all what WP:no original research provides in terms of what is a reputable source. So, this proposal will seriously diminish the strength of the policies. I do think, however, that verifiability has focused on important issues which can be seen as useful complement to no original research. There is perhaps room for some shrinkening of some part of the policies. However, at the same time, we should actually better define what is a reputable source for different contexts, and this should remain policy. --Lumière 09:13, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

I agree. The contents of policies shouldn't be deleted and moved to guideline pages. SlimVirgin (talk) 09:18, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
What is and what isn't a reputable source is, of course, a very important question. It's not one that can be answered easily. It is important that it is discussed, but it's difficult to say anything absolute about it: something that is a reputable source for one piece of information may be a fundamentally unreliable source for another. This means that whilst it is possible to come up with relevant guidelines, we shouldn't be absolute about it (ie it isn't really something that can be policy, as we'll need to ignore the guideline from time to time). Relevant guidelines are also likely to be somewhat long and discursive, and will frequently change over time as WP develops.
I really doubt that you will come up with a good working definition for what a reputable source is. If you can, say it succinctly and turn WP:RS into a policy. More likely though is that we need WP:RS to be a useful, working guideline on how to apply the WP:V policy, jguk 09:23, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree with that too. The problem with WP:RS (when I last looked) is that it's a wishy-washy page and could do with a rewrite. But in general, Jon, while I appreciate your commitment to shorter policies, and it's true that the last WP:V was long-winded, it's also important not to cut out stuff that will help editors who are fighting against POV pushing and nonsense. SlimVirgin (talk) 09:31, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
I'm quite sure that WP:RS could do with a rewrite! I'm also mindful that it is important to give good editors and experienced editors the right ammo to deal with (in different ways) bad and inexperienced editors. Making that ammo short and to the point will make it more effective than having long-winded, discursive guidelines. Reducing policy (and guidelines) makes what remains punchier and stronger. If I slip up slightly along the way, it's easy to draft a new short sentence to re-add key points (and that is exactly why there was a long discussion period about the rewrite and why there have been, and will continue to be, further amendments), jguk 09:36, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree, and saying Verifiability, not truth is about as short and to the point as you can get. But I do agree there's a lot of overlap between several policies and guidelines here. You have to cite reputable sources so that readers can verify that what you've written isn't original research. (However, and I've made this point before, it is still quite possible to cite reputable sources in original research, as shown by any Ph.D. dissertation. Citing sources is a necessary condition to prove nonoriginality of research, but not a sufficient one.) Angr/talk 10:01, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
Jguk, what you say about the definition of reputable source is true for many other important aspects of the policy. For example, it is also very difficult to define precisely what should be the weight of a given view in WP:neutral point of view. The policy does its best. Nevertheless, don't even dream of moving this aspect into a guideline. Those who protect this policy will follow you in your dream and stop you. In the case of the definition of a reputable source, we have to do our best and at some point it will become stable. I totally agree with you that the defintion should depend on the kind of content, but also it should depend on the context where the content appears. --Lumière 09:40, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
The argument that a reduced size will make the policy punchier is very weak. It is only a question of organization. We can have the essential into one (punchy) page and then have subpages that are cited into this main page. These subpages do not have to be guidelines. The details of the organization scheme are not important. The point is that a lengthy policy is not a problem at all if it is well organized. If it is well organized, the editors will find their way. --Lumière 09:53, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
How much time to you think people give to reading WP policies and how much of them do you think they remember?
Once you've answered that you'll realise why it's important to have very few of them and express them succinctly, jguk 10:00, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
They will be able to read whatever they need to read when needed. We should not write a policy as if we expect people to read the whole thing. It is fine that a significant part of the policy is more like a reference that you consult when needed. I do agree that it should be organised in such a way that the basic points of the policy should be easily understood in a reasonable time, but it doesn't mean that the remainder of the policy, which is very important for given disputes, etc. should be moved into guidelines. --Lumière 10:05, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
The sort of details you refer to frequently end up on policy pages after little discussion and based on one or two instances that have recently happened to an aggrieved WP. Once the point is looked at afresh, in practice people do not see themselves bound by it (and unsurprisingly so). Keep it short. Keep it clean. Don't give the wikilawyers more to argue about, jguk 10:09, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
I am not following you here. How do you know the "kind of details" I refer to. It is the entire paragraph that you wrote that is obscure to me. I believe that you refer to your negative experience with a long policy. I am very much interested to understand it better. However, I am not sure that it necessarily applies to all attempts to write a complete policy that does not move important aspects such as the concept of reputable source into guidelines. I will have to judge after I understand better what is the difficulty you experienced. --Lumière 10:22, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
Ok, let me give one possible interpretation of what you are saying. You are telling me "What you propose that we add to the policy is not very good, people will see that and they will ignore it [and eventually people like me will remove it]." Is it close to your point? I need some help here. --Lumière 14:51, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

WP:NOR is our fundamental content policy; I don't possibly see how you could demote it to a guideline. Jayjg (talk) 00:10, 5 February 2006 (UTC)


I just changed "credible, published sources" to "reliable, published sources" - I think it's a no-brainer that "reliable" is the established wikipedia terminology and not "credible", but I want to clarify this a bit with an example here:

Tacitus and Bracciolini, The Annals Forged in the XVth Century, by John Wilson Ross

Is a reliable source (in fact it is used as such in Tacitean studies article, "external links" section). Is it a credible source? I think most modern scholars would agree it isn't. Even if they were 50%/50% divided on the "credibility" of the source, I wouldn't want to have that sort of discussions in wikipedia. In the Tacitean studies article it is used as a reliable source for demonstrating the 19th century attempts to defame the classic author. Nobody will doubt that: it is reliable in demonstrating what was published in the 19th century, and nobody will doubt it was part of a defamation attempt. Whether the remarks by John Wilson Ross on Tacitus are credible is no matter for wikipedia (as credibility is a truth vs. non-truth discussion, especially the kind of thing we want to avoid). --Francis Schonken 13:07, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

I thought that reliabilty means that something does not change over time. See reliability. Andries 13:17, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
According to Wiktionary, reliable means Suitable or fit to be relied on; worthy of dependance or reliance; trustworthy. -- Dalbury(Talk) 14:14, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
(edit conflict, reply to Andries:) Indeed, that certainly is one of the most important connotations of reliable. That's why the reference to the John Wilson Ross book uses this link:

while availability under the book number at Gutenberg is considered more reliable than trying to find this book at a library (note that the book was published anonymously in the 19th century, and without recent reprints doesn't even have an ISBN).
Compare that to credibility of (for instance) the Bible, of the Koran, or of Tacitus' Annals, etc, the credibility of these books is so variable in time & place - but they're reliable in the sense that the KJV doesn't change a letter, neither does the Codex Mediceus, which is still the only pre-renaissance source of the first 6 books of Tacitus' Annals. So this source is extremely reliable, in the sense of not changing over time, though you may find defects of credibility in this writing (as many historians tried to find, but then later were sometimes corrected again, etc...) --Francis Schonken 14:27, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

Verifiability Vs Truth

I know this apparent dichotomy was often discussed, but just want to check a simple understanding. Isn't it the goal of verifiability to guarantee that a content has the minimal quality that is provided by a reputable publisher. Of course, what is a reputable publisher depends on the content (and its context), but in the case of a reputable scientific publisher isn't it the goal of verifiability to guarantee as much as we can (in our open structure) the accuracy, fairness (i.e. truthfulness) of the content. So, we do not mean that the truth is never our goal in Wikipedia. A reputable source is never an absolute guarantee of truth, but nevertheless, it is the best we can do to achieve this goal in the case of some contents in some contexts. For some other types of contents and contexts (say a religious viewpoint), perhaps we care less about truth anyway. (Ooups, some would disagree and say that a reputable source for their religion provides the ultimate truth -- ok but this is not in contradiction with what I am saying.) The point is that verifiability provides whatever notion of truth, if any, that is provided by the reputable publisher. Now that WP:verifiability has moved most discussion on reputable sources in WP:reliable source, isn't this a little bit unclear in the policy? --Lumière 15:28, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

Well, the truth is sometimes hard to get at. With verifiability, we can say, such-and-such source says this, and here's the proof that they said it. Of course we want (at least, I hope most of us want) to present an account of a subject that is generally consistent with reliable sources, noting any differences in interpretation from a neutral point of view. Searching for the truth is often fruitless, and can lead to revert wars. -- Dalbury(Talk) 16:16, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
You misunderstand! I am not against Verifiability. I am not saying that we should directly go for truth instead of verifiability. Whether we should look for truth instead of verifiability is a debate that has been around for a long time, but this is not the debate that I want to go into here. I am just saying that even though we are going for verifiability, not truth, the goal still remain ultimately to provide someway for the readers to obtain "truth". The nature of this "truth" depends on the category of reputable publishers that is used, but at the least some tools is provided. I think it is a mistake to ignore the notion that there are different kinds of reputable publishers and that we should use a reputable publishers that is adequate for a given content and its context. This notion and all its implications should be part of the policy. The most important implication of this notion is that editors should be allowed to write a view associated with one kind of publishers without having other views associated with other kind of publishers interfer. This is the kind of mixing that confuse the readers, and it should be prohibited by policy. For example, if the subject of an article is a scientific theory, content in that article should be supported with reputable scientific sources. A content that is not well supported in a reputable scientific source has no place in this article. This same content might be acceptable in a different article that is not in the "scientific" category. This no mixing principle, which is necessary to prevent confusion, is not only applicable to scientific content. It should be applied to all kind of categories, religious, etc. The purpose is to help the readers that want to use the tool provided by Verifiability to find his way to some "truth". We, editors, we only provide Verifiability, not truth, but we should make sure that it is a useful tool. --Lumière 17:25, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
No. Plain and simple; No. KillerChihuahua?!? 18:40, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for your thoughtful contribution. Could you expand a little bit more? It happens so often that there is a misunderstanding and communication can help to remove it. --Lumière 18:52, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
Truth is a moving target and is inherently biased and POV. Verifiability is not. KillerChihuahua?!? 19:16, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
KC is right here; no, this is never going to fly. Truth is purely subjective. This is a dead issue. Move along. FeloniousMonk 21:42, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
I am currently battling with what is truth in articles on both science and history. In articles about higher order taxons of animals, I find that leading taxonomists often have very different ideas about how to classify groups. So what is the 'truth' there? The truth is that there are competing explanations of the observed phenomena, and the best we can do is to provide good citations for the data and for the different explanations offered by reputable workers in the field. In history, I've been working on articles where tertiary sources have quite different descriptions of the same events. So I can either cite both (or all, as the case may be) versions, or I can try to move down the food chain, prefering secondary sources over tertiary, and primary over secondary, as long as I can cite sources that are reasonably available to other editors/readers. However, even reliable primary sources may contradict each other. The 'truth' that a reader may arrive at from checking cited sources often depends on which sources are cited. In my opinion, citing reliable sources trumps worrying about 'truth'. Selecting sources that only support your own concept of the 'truth' is inserting a point of view. -- Dalbury(Talk) 19:21, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
Precisely, Dalbury has hit the nail on the head. KillerChihuahua?!? 19:27, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
Agree, with one comment. Introducing bias with sources is much better than doing it without sources. It's then much easier to investigate later and to understand the source of bias. In fact, assuming reasonable sources, this changes such edits from being biased into being incomplete. The same material, more or less should be in the final article; just together with the other POV as well. The ideal should be "writing for the enemy" but no one editor can be expected to know everything. Mozzerati 22:36, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
Introducing the concept of "truth" is in contradiction with the core content principles of Wikipedia. WP is not a platform to debate or assess what is true or what is false. WP is an encyclopedia in which editors present competing views about a subject in a fair and balanced manner. That should be a most noble and achievable endeavor. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 19:28, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

Even before the last thoughtful contributions, I was kind of aware of a possible misinterpretation of my comment, but I wanted to avoid a discussion about it before the issue was actually mentioned. I do not mean that an article cannot have opposite views. I think this is clear because even a single reputable publisher will accept opposite views. I do not even mean that no article should refer to more than one kind of publishers. In my example, the article was entirely devoted to science, but it is fine to have an article that mixes science and religion and other general views if it fits with the topic. The principle of no mixing is only that we should make sure that there is a match between (1) the context of a contribution in Wikipedia and (2) the type of sources that is used to support it. For example, if we have an article about the origin of the human specie, we can have the scientific view and the religious view, but the religious view should not interfer with the scientific view as if it had the scientific status. Conversely, the scientific view should not interfer with the religious view as if it had the religious status. The two views should be presented in a neutral sympathetic tone without any confusion with regard to their status. Of course, a view, say a religious view, can refer to another view, say the scientific view, to make a connection between the two views while keeping its own religious status. However, this connection must be supported in a reputable religious source which clearly indicates the status of that connection. The basic idea is to make sure that we preserve the integrity of each general view.

Note that there is no mention of "truth" in the previous paragraph. This clearly indicates that whether or not verifiability can be used to seek "truth" does not have to be part of the policy. Whether or not we should have a separate motivation for the Verifiability policy in terms of a search for "truth" is a very interesting question. When we consider the long debate about Verifiability Vs truth, I think it is natural to provide an account of the situation to the editors that use the policy. However, again, this is a separate issue that does not have to be part of the policy per se. It is just that, IMO, whether we deny it or not, a large percentage of the population is seeking truth, and the principle that verifiability is useful to search for truth will be appreciated. A notion of truth is inside all of us, whether we admit it or not, and certainly even if one person denies it, it still is the case that most other people don't. For those who deny it, we can have a policy that doesn't mention truth. The link with truth can be provided elsewhere, say in some subpage that is not policy. --Lumière 19:45, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

They can seek Truth elsewhere. Here, they should find verifiable statements supported by cites, presented in an NPOV manner. WP is not an oracle. KillerChihuahua?!? 19:58, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
KillerChihuahua, you are amongst the people that can ignore the part about "truth". My comment contains a significant part that does mention "truth", and this is the part that directly concern the policy. So, please address this part. I am very proud of the other part about truth, but too bad for you -- you decided that there is no notion of truth in your life. Fine, just ignore it. --Lumière 20:30, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
I didn't say there was no notion of Truth in my life. Are you trolling or did you just not read carefully? KillerChihuahua?!? 20:43, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
Ok, but you did imply that you are not interested in having a Wikipedia that is useful to that notion of truth, whatever it is. It does not matter. Can you address the part of my comments that is not about truth? --Lumière 20:48, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
By the way, the upper case letter in Truth is not necessary. The most believed notion of truth is the one that people use every day as if it goes by itself that it is the truth. We all have such a notion of truth. Science is based on this notion of truth. In religious people it is mixed with a faith in God, but it is also there. This is the notion of truth that I refer to. We all want to separate the truth from the non truth. I believe that Wikipedia should take this fundamental need into account. However, and this is the important point, I also agree that the policy does not need to refer to it. It should only refer to verifiability. Yet, we have to be realistic -- at the end people wants to know what they call the truth in their ordinary life. --Lumière 21:00, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
Sorry by I continue to respectfully disagree. The fundamental need for truth (freedom, happiness, etc.) is not the domain that Wikipedia addresses. This is an encyclopedia. What readers make of the content in Wikipedia, and if they use the content to validate truth or falseness, is their own private business. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 21:20, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
Actually, you do not disagree, but simply misunderstand. I am also saying that how the readers use Verifiability is their own business. I am only saying that Verifiability used to include an explanation of what is a reputable source and now it is moved into reliable source and this is too bad because this notion is very important to preserve the integrity of the different views. This is particularly important for global views such as the scientific view, religious views, etc. The confusion is that IMO this integrity is necessary for the readers that use Wikipedia to obtain the tr.. I don't want to say it because every one panics when they see this word. Maybe nobody care to see why this integrity is important. I hope people at the least see that it is important to preserve the integrity of science, for example. This means that one should not be able to pretend that a view has the scientific status if it is not the case. This is exactly what is achieved with Verifiability together with a well defined notion of reputable sources. --Lumière 00:04, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree that something about reputable sources needs to be added. Too much has been deleted. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:10, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
Reputable sources is discussed in WP:CITE and WP:RS. The intro to this article reads:
Wikipedia:Verifiability is one of Wikipedia's four content-guiding policy pages. The other three are No original research, Neutral point of view and What Wikipedia is not. These policies, which have mandatory application, are complementary and should not be interpreted in isolation.
That is enough for me. If you think there is a need to sumamrize WP:CITE and WP:RS here, please do so. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 00:13, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
The problem with allowing a search for the holy grail called "truth" to override verifiability is that, as others have opointed out, "truth is a moving target". For example, some people regard as truth the "prophesies " of Nostradamus"; to others the truth is that these are merely obscure quatrains written by Nostradamus about his own times drawing on historical subject matter. To some the truth is that HIV does not cause AIDS, to others the truth is the opposite. Finally, some people believe in a "universal truth", others believe that there is no such thing. Thus, "truth" is too wiggly of a term for out puposes here. Jim62sch 13:17, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Page histories

I'm going to try to merge the page histories at some point, because with the page being moved, we've lost the history of people who contributed to the policy. It's going to involve deleting this page briefly, so don't worry if it suddenly appears as a red link. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:29, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Okay, done. I'm about to do the same with the talk pages, which will also involve deleting them briefly. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:41, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
Now that the page histories are merged, it's possible to see with one diff what has been removed. See here. Jguk's version is on the right. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:52, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
I've also restored the page history of Jguk's rewrite, which Jguk tagged as a speedy delete, so we can see who contributed to it. It's at Wikipedia:Verifiability/Jguk's version. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:04, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

I don't think jguk should have deleted Wikipedia:Verifiability/Jguk's version; the history is important for knowing who contributed to that version of the policy, and the Talk: page has a great deal of important discussion on it. Jayjg (talk) 01:12, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

The talk page is at Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/Jguk's version. It's important to preserve these histories, so we can see how many people agreed with Jguk's rewrite. SlimVirgin (talk)
In reading both the discussion page and in seeing the differences between these two versions, my assessment is that we are in a worse off situation than when this whole discussion started. This policy has lost some of very important aspects and emphasis in particular about sources. I am also concerned that the policy as changed does not reflect community consensus. Any thoughts? ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 03:34, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Jguk's rewrite

I think Jguk should be applauded for tackling this, because the page had a lot of fat on it. At the same time, it's important to get agreement for large-scale changes to policies. I'm concerned that either there wasn't enough input into these changes, or what input there was, was ignored. To take just one example, Jguk deleted from his draft rewrite the sentence: "The inclusion for entry into Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth." I restored it. Jguk reverted me. User:Arbor and User:Thivierr objected to the revert. They were ignored. When the draft version was brought here, User:Angr also objected to the deletion of that sentence. I restored it. Jguk's reverted me twice, saying I should have objected while the page was in draft, and that I was a "lone dissenter," ignoring that I did object while it was in draft, and that four people had asked for it to be restored.

The deletion of the draft page and the moving of the original policy to a subpage also made it harder to see who had objected and what the changes were.

This is one of our most important policy pages, and although it went on a bit, it's unhelpful to view conciseness as a value in and of itself. As others have pointed out, no one expects editors to read this page from start to finish. It's intended as a reference page, so that editors can dip in and out of it as required. The writing should be clear and we need good headers, so that people can easily find the parts they need to refer to, but there's no need for the wholescale deletion of material that some people found helpful. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:57, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

I see too much moved to WP:CITE (a style guide) and WP:RS (a guideline) to make me comfortable. This is a policy, be aware and don't lightly move something from policy to style or guideline. One puppy's opinion. KillerChihuahua?!? 02:06, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
In particular, all the text about reputable sources should be taken back from a previous version or, if it is available in these guidelines, from WP:RS or WP:Cite Source --Lumière 03:13, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
This indeed is critical; moving something from a policy page to a guideline page is a significant change. Jayjg (talk) 03:57, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
I fully agree with SlimVirgin. Major changes such as these in one of the core principles of this project should be done only with wide consensus for the changes. This includes dilution, summarizing and demotions of portions of policies to "guidelines". ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 03:29, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
This approach: Wikipedia_talk:Verifiability/Jguk's_version#Big_Bang, is not acceptable to me. Sorry. Be bold as much as you want on articles. But on Wikipedia policy, we need to thread with caution. I commend Jguk for driving the process, but Big Bang approaches are not welcome. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 03:39, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Throw the baby out with the bathwater, if you want. That tends to be the bureaucratic WP way, jguk 07:58, 5 February 2006 (UTC) Jossi, I do agree. I just thought that it could help if, in addition, we mentioned in the opening sentences that accuracy and fairness is the goal. This is something that we say anyway later (or used to say in a previous version). So, it cannot be wrong. For those who care about fairness and accuracy, it should help to see in the opening sentences that it is the goal. --Lumière 18:23, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Isn't that already covered in WP:NPOV? Kaldari 18:50, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
I don't think NPOV deals with reputable sources at all. You meant WP:NOR? I am aware that it is not anything new. My point is that maybe it is important enough to be mentioned in the opening sentences. --Lumière 19:07, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
yes, it does: ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 21:28, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
A good way to help building a neutral point of view is to find a reputable source for the piece of information you want to add to wikipedia, and then cite that source.
Excellent! It does not exactly say that fairness is obtained if we use reputable sources, but it is the same. Makes sense to me. --Lumière 22:16, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Opening sentence

It says grounds for inclusion are verifyibility, not truth. What is the point of perpetuating untruths? That is a retrograde action and is grossly irresponsible of those attempting to compile a repositry of knowledge. I suggest that phrase is changed to: verifyibility AND truth. Any comments?? --Light current 11:56, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

No, for reasons stated above. Its not an either-or thing. Just because something is verified does not mean it is not true. The gross irresponsibility would be to allow supposed "truths" which are not verified to be allowed. Truth being very much a divisive POV issue, we should emphatically not aim for "truth" but rather for accuracy and verifiability. KillerChihuahua?!? 13:21, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Whats the difference between accuracy and truth?--Light current 18:00, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

How does requiring verifiability perpetuate untruths? If you cite a source for a statement, we can verify whether or not the source does indeed support the statement. That is as close to 'truth' as we get. We do insist on reliable sources to try to avoid perpetuating hoaxes, unfounded folk etymologies and histories, and other bits of bad information, but the only thing we can rely on in judging the information in articles is the sources for the information. Judgements on 'truth' come down to individual biases. Verifiability is objective, 'truth' isn't. -- Dalbury(Talk) 13:56, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

You can verify something to agree with whats published in a book, but that does not mean the book is correct. Take the 1912? issue of Britannica that often copied here: you can verify everything that's in it, but many things are now probably wrong because later scientific research has proven them so. When I use the word truth, I mean correct to the best of all editors knowledge and belief. That means not including ideas that are known to be wrong even if they are verifiable.--Light current 18:05, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

There are two separate issues here. One is the religious connotation with "truth" and the other one is to be clear about what is the criteria as oppose to what is the goal. For example, I don't think it would be fine to say that grounds for inclusion are verifiability, accuracy and fairness. The issue here has nothing to do with "truth". What is wrong here is that accuracy and fairness are the goal, not the criteria.

To illustrate the other issue, consider "grounds for inclusion is verifiability, not accuracy or fairness". This sentence is perfectly accurate, but some might feel that it does not express what they want to say. The issue in this second example has nothing to do with the distinction between the criteria and the goal. Instead, the issue is an opposition to the notion of truth in the policy. We have to separate these two issues. In particular, I think that an opposition o the notion of truth has no business in the first sentence. OTOH, I do not think that it makes sense to suppress this issue: this would be exactly the opposite of what the NPOV policy says, if it makes sense to apply policy to the writing of policy. We should discuss this issue, but not in the lead section. --Lumière 14:22, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

I would suggest the following: "grounds for inclusion is verifiability, not accuracy or fairness. Accuracy and fairness are the goal, not the criteria." --Lumière 14:29, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
The two opening senstences say exactly what it means to say ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 16:51, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
The criterion for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. This means that we only publish material that is verifiable with reference to reliable, published sources. —Preceding unsigned comment added by [[User:{{{1}}}|{{{1}}}]] ([[User talk:{{{1}}}|talk]] • [[Special:Contributions/{{{1}}}|contribs]])

Oh Yeah, you think we should publish what someone else believes is true but not what IS true. Is that your stance?--Light current 22:11, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

What if its plainly wrong but verifiable?--Light current 18:07, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

In Wikipedia we do not concern ourselves with "right" or "wrong" as these are value judgements that can change upon circumstances, context, and new developmments. What we can do is report on what reputable sources say about a subject at any given time. We leave the value judgements to our readers. To calrify this further, please give an example of something that is verifiable but wrong, and I will attempt to deconstruct it as per the WP policy of verifiabity. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 18:11, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

The world land speed record is XXX mph (where XXX< 600mph) Verifiable in some edition of Britamnnica no doubt but wrong.--Light current 19:14, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Some more verifyable statements if you know where to quote from:

  • The earth and heavens were made in six days (ref The Bible)
  • The atom is indivisible(ref pre Rutherford scientists)
  • Electric charge flows at the speed of light
  • You can exceed the speed of light
  • There is an aether(ref pre Michleson &Morely scientists)
  • Relativity is a myth(ref pre Einstein scientists)
  • The earth is flat (almost everyone years ago)

Do I need to go on? --Light current 19:22, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

You have a misunderstanding of WP:V. Verifiability does not stand alone. It has powerful companions in WP:NPOV, and WP:NOR. How to resolve the above, easy:
  • According to the Bible, the earth and heavens were made in six days. (Attribution of an opinion for NPOV and Verifiability)
  • According to scientists before Rutherford, the atom was the smallest paritcle and thus indivisible
  • etc...
The issue is not just about including material that is verifiable, it needs to comply with NPOV as well. This is what NPOV tell us:
To write from a neutral point of view, one presents controversial views without asserting them; to do that, it generally suffices to present competing views in a way that is more or less acceptable to their adherents, and also to attribute the views to their adherents. Disputes are characterized in Wikipedia. They are not re-enacted.
≈ jossi ≈ t@ 21:26, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Verifiability above plain obvious modern truth is just total nonsense! THose with NPOV can also be wrong! Your argument just does not stand up.--Light current 21:32, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

You may need to slowly and carefully read WP:NPOV. I would also encourage you to lower your tone as these discussions are best held with a cool head. Thanks. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 21:38, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Jossi, Give me an example of my raised tone. (I have a high pitched voice anyway)--Light current 21:47, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Jossi, you may not have noticed, but truth does have a NPOV. Your statement:

In Wikipedia we do not concern ourselves with "right" or "wrong" as these are value judgements

is actually one of the most ridiculous statements that I have ever heard in my life (well on WP anyway!)! What if the newspapers published that statement? What effect would that have on the credibility of WP do you think?? --Light current 22:00, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

No problem if you think that ridiculous. Only shows you don't really fit in yet (no offense intended). Jossi's statement is a fairly good one-sentence summary of Wikipedia:Neutral point of view#A simple formulation, which is part of official policy. --Francis Schonken 22:52, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Well it only official policy because a handful of wikipedians have decided that , isnt it? Im not one of those. Also Ive said before, my argument is about the silly idea of verifyibility over truth--Light current 22:55, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

You just don't get it. It's not what you or anyone else thinks is the truth, it's what you can document from reliable sources that matters. -- Dalbury(Talk) 23:27, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

I think I do get it actually. Its not what I alone think is correct. Its what I plus a number of other intelligent editors belive to be the truth AND is verifyable. Is that so hard to understand?--Light current 23:32, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

No, you don't get it at all. How do you decide which editors are "intelligent"? What about all the others editors who disagree with you and the group of editors who agree with you? You are proposing an endless quagmire of unresolvable issues, which is precisely why it is the opposite of policy. Please stop attempting to completely reverse policy without consensus. Jayjg (talk) 23:34, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

How can you get a new consensus if you dont challenge the old? Talk some sort of sense please! --Light current 23:41, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

You certainly can't get consensus by trying to force a complete reversal of policy against considerable opposition. Jayjg (talk) 23:47, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
Consensus seems to be that challenging the "old" is unecessary and ill-advised. One puppy's opinion. KillerChihuahua?!? 23:45, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

How then is anything ever going to improve?--Light current 00:27, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Your suggestion was the opposite of "improvement". Jayjg (talk) 00:30, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Silly? No. A "handful"? Again no. Verifiability is achievable; truth is a moving target and highly subjective. WP must have verifiability; Truth is outside WP purvue. KillerChihuahua?!? 23:28, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
Concur more than I can possibly express with Dalbury. KillerChihuahua?!? 23:29, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
I concur with Dalbury as well, and Light Current's attempted changes are, in fact, reversing policy. Truth is elusive at best, and often highly subjective, so we don't attempt to establish it. Instead we use verifiable claims from reliable sources. Jayjg (talk) 23:31, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

And who decides whether the sources are reliable. Especially when the data goes against the consensus of modern knowledge?--Light current 23:34, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

The characteristics of reliable sources are much easier to establish that those of "Truth", and WP:RS outlines what they are. Jayjg (talk) 23:36, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

OK then, lets relase the headline to the Press WP doesnt give a damn about the truth. Ill put it on the announcement page now--Light current 23:57, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia cares about truth, but it also realizes it is too complex to be established by Wikipedia. We aim for something achievable instead, verifiability. Also, please revert yourself, you're up to 5 reverts now, including complex reverts. Jayjg (talk) 00:03, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Modifications to try to reach consensus are not reverts. I notice ots already been reverted by another follower of the party line!--Light current 00:06, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

OK then how about WP prefers to quote out of date erroneous books rather than modern truths--Light current 00:10, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Yawn. · Katefan0(scribble)/poll 00:10, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Please try to work with other editors, and avoid WP:POINT. Jayjg (talk) 00:11, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Ive stated my point. Your link is totally inappropriate--Light current 00:14, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

I find it completely appropriate. Don't be dense. KillerChihuahua?!? 00:17, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
You did more than state your point; you insisted on reversing policy, pushed it on the page in the face of significant opposition, then reverted it in 5 times, using complex reverts to try to avoid sanctions under WP:3RR. You suggested ridiculous press releases, and made other edits that were obviously examples of WP:POINT, e.g. this one. Please stop. Jayjg (talk) 00:18, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Oh Dear! I do seem to have upset the status quo- do I not? How sad! Never mind! Well some things need shaking up and changing. This idiotic policy is one of them however much 3 (or is it 4) of you may protest. There are many more intelligent WP users out there.--Light current 00:23, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

There is a vast gulf between upsetting the status quo and WP:POINT. Please do not attempt to reverse policy until you are much more familiar with it, and how it works. The current policy is sensible, and works extremely well. Also, please familiarize yourself with WP:CIVIL. Jayjg (talk) 00:30, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

23 replies in less than an hour!. This surely is a hot topic! Thanks for the argument. Not the best Ive had but quite enjoyable anyway!--Light current 00:32, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Whereas incivility is roughly defined as personally targeted behavior that causes an atmosphere of greater conflict and stress, our rule of civility states plainly that people must act with civility toward one another.

I have not engaged in personal attacks, only attacks on peoples ideas. This is fair game.

Specific examples of personal attacks include but are not limited to:

  • Accusatory comments such as "Bob is a troll", or "Jane is a bad editor" can be considered personal attacks if said repeatedly, in bad faith, or with sufficient venom.
  • Negative personal comments and "I'm better than you" attacks, such as "You have no life."
  • Racial, sexual, homophobic, religious or ethnic epithets directed against another contributor. Religious epithets are not allowed even if the contributor is a member of a purported cult.
  • Using someone's affiliations as a means of dismissing or discrediting their views - regardless of whether said affiliations are mainstream or extreme.
  • Profanity directed against another contributor.
  • Threats of legal action
  • Death threats.
  • Threats or actions which expose other Wikipedia editors to political, religious or other persecution by government, their employer or any others. Violations of this sort may result in a block for an extended period of time which may be applied immediately by any sysop upon discovery. Sysops applying such sanctions should confidentially notify the members of the Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee and Jimbo Wales of what they have done and why.

Where does this apply to me: --Light current 00:39, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Why are you quoting WP:NPA? I brought up WP:CIVIL, and your statement that there are "more intelligent WP editors out there" is a pretty clear violation of it. Jayjg (talk) 00:58, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Well, of course, my post was intending to say that there are many intelligent users out there, (a lot of them ) not that they are more intelligent than any one else, as you perfectly well know!--Light current 01:02, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

The context of your comments indicates that you meant no such thing. Jayjg (talk) 01:28, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Unfortunately, you have misintrepeted my meaning from the context and are mistaken. I in no way intended to imply that the current participants in this discussion were less intelligent than anyone else. Is that clear enough?--Light current 02:15, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

I have the impression that some editors did not sign their comments. If I am right, please sign your comments. --Lumière 00:55, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

I suspect that you are not correct as I see no unsigned posts. Altho' I could be wrong- often am- unlike others!--Light current 01:05, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
I was wrong. What confused me is that you cited WP:NPA which made no sense in the discussion. No offense was meant here. --Lumière 01:27, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
No offence taken! :-)--Light current 02:20, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Your tone of voice in these discussions and your revert policy are not useful to this discussion. If you want to make policy better, you need to learn to engage editors in a constructive dialog. As per you user page: Argumentative, contrary, unconventional, perverse, stubborn and individualistic are maybe traits that you consider worth pursuing, but most definitevely are not useful to the discussion of policy, the basis of which is 'consensus. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 01:15, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

You have assumed that I think it worth persuing my traits. Yuo assume too much. at least I recognise my traits. Many others do not recognise thiers! You cannot tell my tone of voice because you cannot hear me. You are assuming things that you do not know! Thats your opinion and if you cannot further the discussion- please do not engage in personal attacks on me1--Light current 01:18, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

The fundamental issues behind the above discussions

I have the impression that this kind of debates occur again and again. This is clearly a sign that something is not well explained. In particular, perhaps we should explain that we do care about accuracy and fairness right in the opening sentences. In fact, perhaps we should care even more than we do in practice, while remaining within policy or within its spirit. I know that the policy must avoid unnecessary suppression of information, not just avoid innacurate or unfair contributions. Two sides: (1) no suppression and (2) only accurate and fair content. There are people on each side fighting against the other side and there are also people fighting against both sides in favor of a weak policy that relies on consensus instead of precise rules. IMO, the side (2) is the most important. We should not compromise when it comes to accuracy and fairness. In any case, at the least, we should explain that we do care about fairness and accuracy and explain how it works in the policy so that the spirit of the policy will be better understood. The key point here is the importance of a reputable source and the fact that our criteria for a reputable source depends upon the content and its context. We should also explain the best we can what is a reputable source for different contents and contexts. Otherwise, the policy is essentially empty. It is not true that it is fundamentally difficult. The difficulty comes only because of the fights that are mentioned above, but if we can agree on something it is not in itself difficult. --Lumière 20:13, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

I can agree to a need to clarify. But when you use value judgements such as "fairness" or "accuracy" I start doubting if this will result in clarification or more problems down the line. What is fair to one person may be completelky unfair to another. Same about accuracy, what may be an accurate statement to one person, it mat be a completely innacurate statement to another. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 21:19, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Let me address another issue than truth, fairness and accuracy here, and consider your requirement for objectivity in itself. I think a requirement for total objectivity is not realistic. The full concept of verifiability is not totally objective either. It requires the concept of reputable sources, which has some subjective aspect to it. I have the impression that we have removed a discussion about what is a reputable source into guidelines because some subjective decisions must be taken to define what is a reputable source for different category of contents and contexts. I think we should have done the opposite and explain it better in the policy. It is simply impossible to define a policy that can adress important issues without involving some subjectivity. We can locally define these subjective notions with rules. For example, a reputable source for a scientific content can be defined to be a peer-reviewed scientific journal. To be extreme, we could even list all of the reputable scientific sources that we accept for scientific content. This is just to say that we can make these notions "objective" with the help of rules, but clearly some subjectivity is involved in the choice of these rules. Back to the notion of truth, fairness and accuracy, these notions are not more subjective than the notion of "reputable" in reputable source. Even though, the policy replaces or attempt to capture these notions with the help of rules, which together correspond to verifiability, these subjective concepts are useful to understand the spirit of these rules. Anyway, it is not me that first used the concepts of fairness and accuracy in the context of policy. They have been there for a long time, and I think they are useful. Even though they are subjective concepts, they always have been and they should continue to be the driving principles behind the policy. --Lumière 22:04, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Lumière, I agree with one thing: This new shortened version of the policy, reduced it too much and left behind many important points and examples. My vote is to go back to the previous version and only trim carefully. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 22:19, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps this is as much as I can expect. Why is it that some people refuse to admit or perhaps don't even realize that the policy was built through subjective decisions based on subjective concepts and if we need to maintain it, improve it or even just to explain it, we will need to refer again to these concepts. Otherwise, it will not be understood and things like the major transformation that just happened with WP:verifiability will happen again. Also, people in their right mind that care about accuracy and fairness will not understand at all. We should say that we completely agree with them and we also want fairness and accuracy, but that we need precise rules and invite them to consider all aspects of the policy and see if anything can be done to improve the situation. Some will not understand, sure, but we will have done our part. --Lumière 22:30, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Restored some of the old

I've restored some of the old version that explained the rationale behind "verifiability, not truth." If anyone disagrees, feel free to revert. I'm beginning to think it might be easier to revert to the old version and work from there, or do some sort of merge, where most of the old version is retained. The problem with cutting out so much is that we've lost the context of some of the points. Any thoughts? SlimVirgin (talk) 01:31, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Strongly support this move, kudos to SlimVirgin. We can work (slowly) on trimming and defining this section, if necessary. KillerChihuahua?!? 01:32, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Will this include a return to truth over verifiability? --Light current 01:35, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Either way is fine. There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. --Lumière 01:37, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
If we doubt the truth of a statement, this should be mentioned in the article by saying that this is what is stated by an authority but is not necessarily true.--Light current 01:40, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
No, this is precisely what we should not do. That would be violation of NPOV.

KillerChihuahua?!? 01:41, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Please review WP:NPOV. These content policies work together. Jayjg (talk) 01:52, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
But its still NPOV to report something as being believed by the majority to be the truth. It doesnt necessarily mean that you believe it or not.--Light current 01:54, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Note the word 'necessarily'. I cant see whats wrong with this sentiment--Light current 01:44, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

It may be necessary to go back to the original. Of course this would include all of the original policy, including the fundamental "verifiability, not truth" section of the policy. Jayjg (talk) 01:52, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Its the emphasis of verifyability OVER currently accepted truth that I can't accept. Both together must surely be prerequisites for inclusion.--Light current 02:02, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Hi Light current, I wasn't online today, and I haven't read all of the above yet, so forgive me if this has already been dealt with. I was wondering: could you give me a concrete (actual or hypothetical) example of where "verifiability, not truth" would lead to a problem for Wikipedia? SlimVirgin (talk) 02:12, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
"Currently accepted truth" is taken care of by the WP:NPOV policy. As has been stated before, WP:V, WP:NPOV, and WP:NOR all work together. Jayjg (talk) 02:18, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Why does it say Verifiabiliy NOT truth. No one has yet answered this question- specifically the specific denial of truth bit--Light current 02:49, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Simple, and also already stated: Because truth is inherently subjective. Therefore, where there is a dispute over what the Truth of the matter is, it's better to summarize conflicting viewpoints of what that truth is, rather than trying to pass judgement ourselves on what the truth is.· Katefan0(scribble)/poll 02:51, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
So we dont need to worry about whether anything is correct or not as long as you got a reference?--Light current 02:57, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Yep. Provided the source is reliable, verifiable and pertinent. · Katefan0(scribble)/poll 04:05, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

But if the source is reliable does this not imply that the reference is 'true' or correct?--Light current 04:11, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Not particularly. · Katefan0(scribble)/poll 04:13, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

So we're happy to quote incorrect information as long as its from a 'reliable' source??? This is crazy!! Would you like to see WP quoted as having that as one of its policies? --Light current 04:22, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

You fail again, and again, and again, to understand that this policy lives withing the context of WP:NPOV, and WP:NOR. As such, we will be happy to quote information (regardless if it is "correct" or "incorrect"), providing it is from a reliable/reputable source, and we attribute the information to that source. That is why, as editors of Wikipedia, we do not concern ourselves with the "truth" about subject XYZ, but chose instead to describe how reliable sources describes XYZ as truth (or as falsness for that matter). ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 04:31, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Light current, perhaps we should acknowledge that obviously any fixed set of rules will not be able to carefully separate the "truth" from the "non truth". So, it is pointless to provide examples where some valid information is being suppressed by the rules or some examples where son innaccurate information is accepted for inclusion by the rules. We all understand that it is going to happen. It is not that we have decided that it should happen. It is not that we do not care. You do understand that a modification to the rules to suppress less valid information is likely to also accept more non valid information. It is a trade off. So, the only think we can do is try to have the best set of rules. I am completely convinced that there is room for a lot of improvements. However, you also realize that there is a relatively large community of people involved and things will change very slowly. --Lumière 02:34, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Our article Truth does a fairly decent job of explaining, in general terms, why this policy does not use truth as a criterion. "Truth" can be interprated in so many ways, and incorporate so many varying opinions, that it's unfeasible to try to include "the truth". However, that's not to say that the truth is never included. To use a totally uncontroversial (I hope!) example, it's both verifiable and true that Kamen Rider Amazon was broadcast in Japan in 1974. But that's an exception rather than the rule.--Sean Black (talk) 03:28, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

I think some have understood this principle and have apply it to "Reputable Source" as well! This is why WP:Verifiablity was totally transformed recently. Is it so complicated to understand that the purpose of reasonably clear rules (complemented with a call to consensus when needed) is to objectively implement useful subjective concepts such as "significant", "fairly", "reputable", "notable", etc. This is what Wikipedia policy is doing. We use terms that correspond to subjective concepts all the times, and we try to implement them with rules. Why this dogma against truth? It is not more subjective than "fairly" or "reputable".--Lumière 16:47, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

New suggestion

Lets change it to verifiable accuracy in the opening. Accurate is not as strong as 'true' but gives the right idea to editors.--Light current 03:00, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

LC, as I asked above, can you give a concrete example (actual or hypothetical) of where you think the emphasis on verifiability, not truth, would cause a problem for Wikipedia? SlimVirgin (talk) 03:15, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Im replying to Lumiere at the moment. I will reply to you ASAP--Light current 03:20, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Copy of earlier eXamples of inconsistency: The world land speed record is XXX mph (where XXX< 600mph) Verifiable in some edition of Britamnnica no doubt but wrong.--Light current 19:14, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Some more verifyable statements if you know where to quote from:

   * The earth and heavens were made in six days (ref The Bible)
   * The atom is indivisible(ref pre Rutherford scientists)
   * Electric charge flows at the speed of light
   * You can exceed the speed of light
   * There is an aether(ref pre Michleson &Morely scientists)
   * Relativity is a myth(ref pre Einstein scientists)
   * The earth is flat (almost everyone years ago)

Do I need to go on? --Light current 19:22, 5 February 2006 (UTC) --Light current 03:22, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Those are opionins of certain groups and indivuals. It would be innapropriate to state those as facts, just like any other opionin (including the opposing viewpoint, We sumarise arguments, rather than making them.-Sean Black (talk) 03:28, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Did you meant "verifiable accuracy"? Perhaps "verifiably accurate"? It maybe only me but "verifiably accuracy" does not sound right. --Lumière 03:17, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
"Accuracy" seems just as difficult to quantify as "truth", in my opionin.--Sean Black (talk) 03:28, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

With all due respect, this a royal waste of our time and energies. LC needs to stop repeating the same arguments again and again. Suitable responses have been given to the above examples already. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 03:38, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Verifiability is one of Wikipedia's three content-guiding policy pages. The other two are Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. Jointly, these policies determine the type and quality of material that is acceptable in the main namespace. The three policies are complementary, non-negotiable, and cannot be superseded by any other guidelines or by editor's consensus. They should therefore not be interpreted in isolation from one other, and editors should try to familiarize themselves with all three. This has served us really well. What LC is doing is looking at this policy in isolation and without considering the other two. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 03:37, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

A broken leg

If one leg of a three legged stool is broken, the stool will fall over! I appreciate the fact that you have decided that you are wasting your time. Thank you for your interest in this subject and Goodnight! Im sure we can continue in your absence--Light current 03:42, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

And if one leg is used to support the whole weight, the stool will fall over too. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:45, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes but i dont unsterstand the relevance of that statement to this argument. (Im not suggesting sawing off one of the legs, but reparing it)--Light current 03:54, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
That assumes that it's broken.--Sean Black (talk) 03:57, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
The three legged stool has produced one of the most incredible collaboration projects ever in the history of humankind so far, against all odds, including yours, LC. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 03:47, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Please refrain from personal attacks. Thanks. BTW I thought you were wasting your time!--Light current 03:52, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Alternatively, all three legs may be just fine and not in need of any change.--Sean Black (talk) 03:49, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Ahh well here we have the crux of it! One of the legs has anasty case of woodworm. It needs excising and the leg patching up.--Light current 03:57, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Or not. · Katefan0(scribble)/poll 04:07, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Yes well I can see that theres not a great deal of enthusiasm to improve this policy. I can see tho' that there is agreat deal of enthusiasm to let things fester until it really gets serious!--Light current 04:14, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

There is a great deal of enthusiasm in not fixing what it is not broken. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 04:19, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

This entire section is very profound! It should become the new foundation of WP policy. Lumière 04:55, 6 February 2006 (UTC)