Wikipedia talk:What Wikipedia is not/Archive 34

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Archive 33 Archive 34 Archive 35

Public census data are WP:V and secondary sources

For the purpose of my argument below, by "public census data" I mean any geographic or demographic data collated and analysed by a government-sponsored organisation on the places or people in territories within its control. This includes national and intranational census bureaux, polling organisations, land registries, and the like. This definition of itself does not imply that the data is verifiable.

The purpose of this argument is to refute the repeated statements in the thread, above, that census data are "primary sources". I will go on to show that I believe that bot-generated geostubs are WP:RS and WP:V. That, then, leaves the problem of accepting or rejecting geostubs being one of deciding if they are covered by WP:N.

Secondary sources

WP:PRIMARY defines primary sources as being "very close to an event", and in its elaboration of that concentrates mostly on events. Nevertheless, it says "A primary source may only be used to make descriptive statements that can be verified by any educated person without specialist knowledge." Thus, if public census data is considered a primary source, it can hardly be admitted at all, since few educated people can practically verify the data in the census by taking rogation days and so forth; and even if they could, it would probably constitute OR.

Thus, it is imperative that public census data are deemed to be secondary sources, if they are to be accepted at all. Now, WP:PRIMARY defines a secondary source as those that "rely for their material on primary sources, often making analytic or evaluative claims about them". It seems to me that is exactly what a census organisation does: the primary sources are the people making their census returns; the census organisation analyses them and makes evaluative claims. A census organisation is thus the epitome of a secondary source.

Whether a census organisation is a reliable source, of course, may be open to debate. WP:RS makes no mention of government at all, nor has any guideline for assessing their reliability. Editors might reach a consensus that a particular source is unreliable (it fakes the figures). However, I would assert that all open democratic states' census bureaux are reliable (in the Wikipedia sense) in their hard facts, within the bounds of statistical error and allowing for human error, if not in any interpretation put on those facts. That begs the question what an open democratic state is, but it is an example not a definition; and does not exclude other states.


Many census bureaux' data, such as the French INSEE and the Hungarian KSH (two I happen to use when expanding geostubs) are easily verifiable in that they are online sources. Many others are verifiable in print. In general, I think it is safe to assume that one of the purposes of a census bureau is to publish, and ipso facto the work of a census bureau is verifiable. For the case of private polling organisations and the like, the information may not be verifiable; nor for more-secret government bureaux who collate the data but do not publish it externally.

But in the case of bot-generated geostubs, the data is presumably transferred from public census data and so is presumably verifiable. For if not, the bot would have no data to transfer (unless it has access to the data that other Wikipedians do not). Again, this does not imply that because the data is verifiable then it is reliable.


I have shown that census bureaux are secondary sources and, for bot-generated data, are verifiable. That leaves open WP:N, whether such geostubs are notable. But it at least if it accepted that bot-generated geostubs can be presumed WP:RS and WP:V, the debate can concentrate on whether unimproved bot-generated geostubs as a class meet WP:N.


This is outside the ambit of WP:NOT, but bots importing public census data should clearly indicate the source of the data, including the date of census and a link to the online census bureau where available (for example, for Hungarian geostubs, it can use {{ksh url}} and {{Infobox Hungarian settlement}}; a similar mechanism exists on French geostubs with the INSEE). This would help show WP:V more clearly.

Si Trew (talk) 09:12, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

I don't know of any bot that has not indicated the source of the data. I think this is already in place. The problem is with some human-generated gazetteer articles which lack verifiability, and for which some editors insist upon notability. patsw (talk) 12:10, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't know of one either, except that the one that put in the French stubs and the one that put in the Hungarian stubs cocked it up on both occasions, and I have had innurable rows about bots cocking up human editors' good faith editors. I am not against bots, just the people who run them indiscriminately, because I am a software engineer and not a hacker. Si Trew (talk) 13:49, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
WP:N is a descriptive guideline, so Notability has always been satisfied for these pages. --erachima talk 12:35, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
I thought the issue was that WP:N applies tests to gazetteer articles which fail in some cases and not in others. This is the heart of of the problem. patsw (talk) 12:49, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
Indeed I believe so to. I just put forward my arguments why it meets WP:RS and WP:V so as we could concentrate on that. Si Trew (talk) 13:33, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
The issue is also with me that others claim census data to be primary sources, whereas I think they are secondary sources (in this context; almost everything is relative). Si Trew (talk) 13:45, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
The quest for secondariness is sometimes overstated: The purpose of it is to control WP:NOTNEWS and WP:COI which is not at issue in the creation of gazetteer content in Wikipedia. (This is not a case of The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain). Individually submitted or collected census forms are primary documents - and genealogists are delighted when they are released to the public. Anything derived from them has secondariness. patsw (talk) 12:07, 21 July 2010 (UTC)

The bot that imported the Hungarain articles failed to leave a trace, which is why I and the missus have to follow up and make RS. 15:45, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

These should have this tag on them Category:Hungary geography stubs if applicable. patsw (talk) 12:07, 21 July 2010 (UTC)


I am not sure that census data can be described as secondary source data, for the simple reason that it is devoid of the commentary, crticism or analysis that are the hallmarks of significant coverage required by WP:GNG.

The reason is that census data is a snap shot of population at a particular time, rather than being an in depth analysis its development. Whilst it is possible to "slice and dice" the data to provide averages, means and variances, the value of one year's data provides little information on its own, so the censensus bureau collects the data, makes comparisons with previous census returns, and analyses the trends. It then issues reports (with commentary & analysis of those trends) to government departments, who use the these reports to plan things like road construction, schools, hospitals etc.

Going back to the example of Mountainburg, Arkansas, you can see that the source of the article is a statistical table from the 2000 census data. What this article does not show is the brief which the bureau prepares, such as the Census 2000 Brief on Gender.

The main criticism I have of the idea that census data is a secondary source is that it is based on a misunderanding that significant coverage is merely a summary of the primary source. The fact is that a summary or a regugitation of primary source is still a primary source, since there is a lack of significant coverage. In the case of census data, it is the Census Brief that is the secondary source, not the statistical tables. The tables are a summary of the primary source, and on their own provide little context to the reader. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 13:46, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

On the aspect of the census data being primary/secondary, I agree with Gavin here, and why it is a point of contention. The statement that in the case of the US Census Bureau doing analysis of the "primary" data from resident, the Census is immediately a secondary source is not really true; they have done no transformation on that data beyond to catalog it and assert X people live in Y. If we had access to the Census data (all the hundreds of millions of returned questionaires), we would be able to make the same claims without creating original research (see WP:CALC). Now, last I saw the US Census report, there are portions of the document that are more analysis and synthesis of new ideas, such as the comparison of population changes between states and regions and their speculation on the reason for such changes, and the like. That part of the document is a secondary source to the census data, but that doesn't make the whole work as such. When the Census reports X live in Y in 19x0, that's a primary data point, not secondary. --MASEM (t) 14:05, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
At this level of defining policy, the distinction between primary and secondary sources has little meaning. The important quality of government-provided geographic and census data is not truth or secondariness but verifiability patsw (talk) 16:59, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
"Transformation" is not really a requirement of secondary sources -- at least, not the way Wikipedia uses the term. We count lightly edited press releases as 'secondary sources' all the time in AFDs; they're called "magazine articles". WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:04, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
There is a major misunderstanding in the discussion above. It involves this sentence: "A primary source may only be used to make descriptive statements that can be verified by any educated person without specialist knowledge."
This sentence means, "A primary source may only be used to make descriptive statements on Wikipedia that can be verified to match the source's contents by any educated person without specialist knowledge."
It is misrepresented above as meaning something like, "A primary source may only be used to make descriptive statements that can be verified experimentally, or otherwise in the real world by any educated person without specialist knowledge so that we know the reliable source got it right."
If says that 600 people live in a given small town, Wikipedia permits you to cite that census data as a primary source. You do not need to travel to the town and count people, or otherwise verify that has the right answer: You only need to be able to verify that actually says that 600 people live there. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:08, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
I agree and made a proposal in Wikipedia talk:No original research to clarify this. patsw (talk) 00:30, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

Discussion forums

Since Wikipedia is not a discussion forum and the Wikipedia organization has no interesting in running a discussion forum, I'd like to suggest that each topic have a link to an external "official" forum, one that is chosen by direct vote once every year or two by registered users. This would give Wikipedia users a single place to discuss the topic. (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 03:31, 24 July 2010 (UTC).

I see absolutely no reason nor value in such "links". If you want to find a discussion forum, Google, Yahoo! Search, etc are all available to everyone. -- AnmaFinotera (talk ~ contribs) 03:35, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
So don't use it. Why would you object to Wikipedia users wanting a single, unified discussion forum? (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 03:46, 24 July 2010 (UTC).
Because the actual consensus at Wikipedia is that it is not a discussion forum nor a social site. This is an encyclopedia. -- AnmaFinotera (talk ~ contribs) 03:54, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
Relevant rule: WP:NOTFORUM --Cybercobra (talk) 07:54, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Another relevant content guideline is the one for external links. I do not endorse the suggestion made by anon. patsw (talk) 20:38, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia tries not to be censored

I don't think it is possible for something as big as Wikipedia to be not censored. The exceeding claim "Wikipedia is not censored" is like saying "Wikipedia is not flawed" or "Wikipedia is always right" because avioding all types of censorship is not as easy as it sounds. "Wikipedia tries not to be censored" would be a much more... honest sounding statement. (talk) 07:55, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

It's no more inaccurate to say that "Wikipedia is not censored" than it is to say that "Wikipedia is encyclopedic" or "Wikipedia does not advertise". Which is to say, we do our best to keep it that way and fix any problems we see as quickly as we can. I strongly disagree with any rephrasing that weakens the statement. --erachima talk 07:59, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
It is censored in the sense that Wikipedia editors form a consensus of what material is acceptable and what is not. In that sense, the global community of Wikipedians censors material. There's a nice philosophical debate (and probably a PhD grant) in there about censorship is imposed by a biased Wikipedia editorship, but I don't regard the word "censorship" as much more than WP:IDONTLIKEIT.
For example, I forget where I saw this, I thought it was on the current edition of Wikipedia Signpost but I can't find it right now, but it said that Wikipedians in some places by consensus have blocked images of the prophet Mohammad. Please excuse my fuzzy recollection, since Wikipedia goes by language not places so I am not sure of myself here and search in vain.
In any case, the key word here is by consensus. Where it was banned (by sysops), images of the prophet Mohammad are extremely offensive; they were not, however, banned on Wikipedia generally (that is, on the Wikimedia servers) and it was stated most firmly that they had no right [my word] to remove the images from the Wikimedia servers hosted in the US. Similarly, material some would regard as pornographic might be removed, but this would be by consensus. I believe anything contravening US Federal law or California (Florida?) state law generally has a hard time, and quite right too: you can argue the laws but you have to obey them, or as a fictional judge of A. P. Herbert's said, "The best way to get rid of a stupid law is not to ignore it but to enforce it.[citation needed]
From the articles on my watchlist, excluding vandalism (which has a pretty tight definition) most "censorship" comes from POV statements, such as perennially changing the names, or giving precedence to one version, of places that once were part of one territory and now are part of another. That just happens to be the case because of the kind of articles I sometimes edit. I guess most editors have got over sniggering over "dirty" words. Some "censorship" defies analysis, such as the perennial deletion and reinstatement, with established consensus, of the quotation of the opening lines the poem This Be The Verse, and I suppose is covered by WP:IDONTLIKEIT, although that focuses on article deletion. Si Trew (talk) 09:45, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
The article you seek is Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2010-07-19/News and notes#Acehnese Wikipedians threaten boycott over Muhammad images. -- Quiddity (talk) 00:30, 21 July 2010 (UTC)

Broadly related

From Template talk:Nazi-stub, the consensus seems to be that "Wikipedia is not censored" means that swastikas - and indeed any symbol, image or word that has been found offensive by anyone - cannot be removed. The notion that "it is not censorship to exercise mature editorial judgment" might, with care, be factored into this section, but I think that the problem is a lot less simple than most editors' opinions on the subject. SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 23:34, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

My interpretation of the consensus, in that discussion, related discussions, and on the project as a whole (Mohammad cartoons, nudity, etc.) is that WP:NOT#CENSORED means that offensiveness will be treated as a non-issue, and images (as well as text and so on, but that comes up a lot less) will be judged solely on the basis of concerns such as illustrative quality and NPOV.
In conclusion, you are welcome to state that you want the image changed because you find the nazi flag's use as an icon on nazi germany articles offensive, but be aware that per policy this argument is treated the same as saying you want the image changed because you dislike the color red: we respect your opinion as to the offensiveness of the flag or ugliness of the color red, and it is not our place to judge your worldview, but it is truly irrelevant to the decision-making process. --erachima talk 00:03, 21 July 2010 (UTC)
For anyone offended, your recourse is to pass a law applicable in your own jurisdiction to deal with offensive material in all media and not only on Wikipedia. There are several categories of material which, I believe would appear in Wikipedia but for laws making it illegal to appear. See Category:Wikipedia disclaimers for an idea of how this actually occurs. patsw (talk) 21:26, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

WP:NOTCENSORED is unnecessary because anyone trying to delete material on the grounds that it is objectionable could be dealt with by noting that there is no policy that says objectionable is a valid reason for exclusion while there are policies justifying the inclusion of educational material. What this policy does is reduce the need for people to explain why the offensive material they want to include is educational: they can just say "we don't censor." Fact is, if there are two edits of equal educational or encyclopedic value and one causes more offence than the other the less offensive one could and should be preferred. This policy essentially says there is no legitimate grounds for such a preference. This despite the fact social norms are considered in the most offensive cases, e.g. an explicit photo for an underage Rainbow party (sexuality) would not be included on Wikipedia even if it imparted more knowledge. There is a larger problem here that I discuss elsewhereBdell555 (talk) 11:15, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

RFC: victim list on an aircrash article

See here. MickMacNee (talk) 01:10, 30 July 2010 (UTC)

Does WP:NOTMYSPACE apply to secret pages?

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
There is a consensus here and at the linked discussions - MfD and User pages - that secret pages are seen as a distraction from the main purpose of the project, and create an inappropriate ethos. There was some support for the view that such pages can assist in creating a relaxed working atmosphere, though that was felt to be overweighed by the concern that allowing such playful activities might attract users more interested in game playing. Some consideration was given to being more tolerant toward valued contributors, though the consensus was that diverged standards was inappropriate. As the link to GAMES has been returned to the WP:NOTMYSPACE section, there is no action needed from this closure. SilkTork 10 August 2010

Does, or should, WP:NOTMYSPACE apply to secret pages. — Becksguy (talk) 14:16, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

At Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/User:Some Person/The Real Secret Page and Secret Barnstar, some editors believe that WP:NOTMYSPACE is not applicable to secret pages. I believe that it is applicable because the policy states: "Wikipedia is not a social network like MySpace or Facebook." By playing games on Wikipedia, users are treating Wikipedia like MySpace, where social-networking occurs, and Facebook, where games (albeit not of this nature) abound.

I would like to clarify the policy to state that using Wikipedia as a server for games such as secret pages is not acceptable. Cunard (talk) 05:21, 26 July 2010 (UTC)

I think the consensus at Wikipedia_talk:User_pages#Secret_pages:_Ok_or_not.3F is pretty clear on the subject. Jclemens (talk) 05:35, 26 July 2010 (UTC)
Yes, but editors at Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/User:Some Person/The Real Secret Page and Secret Barnstar are discounting the consensus achieved at WP:UP chiefly because WP:UP is a guideline. If the wording could be transferred to WP:NOT, then it would have more clout. Cunard (talk) 05:42, 26 July 2010 (UTC)
I think this change solves it. Thank you, Jclemens. Cunard (talk) 05:53, 26 July 2010 (UTC)
Well, you and I think that's logical, but we'll see how it fares as a revision. Jclemens (talk) 06:20, 26 July 2010 (UTC)
This change that wikilinks WP:NOT to WP:UP#GAMES in a policy page was done without consensus. I get that those that aggressively try to remove secret pages are doing what they believe is in the best interest of Wikipedia. But I believe that view is unintentionally short sighted. One argument that partially sums up my view, and others that think we should keep secret pages for otherwise productive editors, in a nutshell is: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Deleting secret pages will drive away editors, especially newer and younger editors. No organization can survive without a pipeline of new blood. We should not be discouraging or WP:BITEing those that otherwise are productive, or clearly will be. The last figures I remember is that there are well over 12 million registered users, but only about 133 thousand active registered user (at least one edit in last 30 days). Can we afford to drive away editors? Check out this essay for additional arguments in support of refraining from aggressively attacking secret pages. Wikipedia:Editors matter. — Becksguy (talk) 08:35, 26 July 2010 (UTC)
Clicking Special:RecentChanges shows we have plenty of editors. Is there any reason to believe that useful editors have been driven away when it is pointed out that games should not be encouraged on Wikipedia? My concern is that it would be very easy for a bunch of new editors to get entirely the wrong idea, and for that wrong idea to become a new community norm as time passes and old-timers die off. Johnuniq (talk) 09:21, 26 July 2010 (UTC)
I can't see that the activity at Special:RecentChanges has any correlation with the number of active editors. Someone needs to do a proper statistical study, somewhat similar to the one reported in this article from the Wall Street Journal that shows the decline, although it's not updated for 2010. — Becksguy (talk) 11:58, 30 July 2010 (UTC)
Becksguy, if you look at WT:UP, you'll see that there was an extensive discussion there. I've made that wikilink from here to there in large part on the basis of that discussion. I don't think it's an unreasonably bold move, but my feelings aren't going to be hurt if someone reverts it, although I would ask that if someone does decide to do so we start a formal policy discussion with appropriate RFC's linked to CENT to settle this once and for all. (Or at least until consensus changes...) Cheers, Jclemens (talk) 14:20, 26 July 2010 (UTC)
I reluctantly removed the phrase you added linking to WP:UP#GAMES. I was unhappy that policy was changed during an ongoing deletion discussion, and then used as a claimed authority to support a position. I agree, by all means lets discuss this with an appropriate RFC. I'll even start it shortly with a neutral note. Thanks. — Becksguy (talk) 13:54, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Header changed to work with template. Added to WP:CENT as well. Feel free to clean up. — Becksguy (talk) 14:44, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Thank you very much. Did you happen to notify the users in the AfD? They all should probably get an invite to participate here, too. Jclemens (talk) 14:53, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
No, but I will. Good idea. The more participants, the better. — Becksguy (talk) 15:01, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Based on (1) some friendly advice, (2) that the MfD that started this thread is effectively over and awaiting an admin to close it, (3) that consensus in this RfC is pretty clearly trending to include the phrase in WP:NOTMYSPACE originally added by Jclemens that links to WP:UP#GAMES, (4) deciding that it's time to back away from the horse on the reversion, as I already did in the MfD, I recently reversed [1] my edit [2] that removed Jclemens addition. Pending consensus in this RfC as determined by an admin. My reversal is not prejudicial to the MfD or here. So lets please continue this RfC. — Becksguy (talk) 12:23, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
I am tired of all of these arguments about secret pages, and for the most part, I'm going to stay out of the actual discussion. However, I would like to draw everyone's attention to a discussion that happened a while ago about my secret page. The discussion can be found here. I think that some good arguments were made for both sides, and I think that reading through this may be helpful for this discussion. I mostly would like to stay out of this, but if anyone has anything they would like to discuss with me about anything from that page, or this discussion, please contact me on my talk page. ~~ Hi878 (Come shout at me!) 07:01, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

View by Jclemens

"Secret pages" are not encyclopedia content and do not contribute to building an encyclopedia. It is my belief that they set a poor tone, encouraging editors who enjoy such non-productive activities rather than editors who create or improve encyclopedic content. However, as SmokeyJoe observed at Wikipedia talk:UP#Secret pages: Ok or not? back in April, secret page deletion depends on the Wikipedia status (prestige, if you will) of the editor hosting the page. That offends my sense of justice slightly: either "secret pages" should be OK for all editors, or none.

To solve the problem and possibly avoid some future discussions over exactly what constitutes an inappropriate game, I propose linking the relevant part of this policy to the guideline at WP:UP#GAMES, where it is clear that such pages are neither appropriate nor endorsed.

Users who endorse this view
  1. As author. Jclemens (talk) 14:34, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
  2. Orangemike, who thinks this is long overdue. --Orange Mike | Talk 14:39, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
  3. -- AnmaFinotera (talk ~ contribs) 15:07, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
  4. We have many articles on games, and I think that people who want to play games online, should take there pick here (and then find the sites where they can play the game of their choice), Wikipedia is not the place for that. --Dirk Beetstra T C 15:14, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
  5. WP != Romper Room. —chaos5023 (talk) 15:23, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
    To expand slightly: while certainly some level of fun community building is good, secret pages are over a line into cutesy abuses of the MediaWiki engine and the project workspace that I don't feel should be encouraged (and toleration ≈ encouragement). Not privileging certain editors in that regard is just a matter of fairness. —chaos5023 (talk) 21:19, 9 August 2010 (UTC)
  6. - Endorse as per author and WP:UP. ----moreno oso (talk) 15:32, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
  7. They should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis before deletion but in general they should not be allowed. --MASEM (t) 15:38, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
  8. This stuff may have made some sense in the olden days when wikis were very new and novel, but with so many wikis and free wiki hosts out there there's really no excuse for posting your grocery shopping list (or whatever) on Wikipedia's servers. Andrew Lenahan - Starblind 15:40, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
  9. Endorse. It's fine to have some lighthearted conversation with other people you collaborate with on your own talk page, but we don't need the games. Karanacs (talk) 16:57, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
  10. Endorse. Secret pages do not contribute to building the encyclopedia. Cunard (talk) 20:32, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
  11. Endorse. If you want to play games, FarmVille is on Facebook. Fences&Windows 20:43, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
  12. Endorse, But, with the proviso that there is a difference between "secret pages" (not wanted), and the games that we do endorse (as listed at WP:FUN#Wikitainment) eg WP:SDOWP and WP:SBWA. -- Quiddity (talk) 22:05, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
  13. Endorse. Secret pages mislead new users by giving them an invalid picture of the purpose of Wikipedia. It could be hard to handle a gaming subculture if they ever became established. Johnuniq (talk) 08:25, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
  14. Indeed. This is what facebook is for. MER-C 13:37, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
  15. Endorse. People interested in playing games should do so elsewhere. Nsk92 (talk) 16:02, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
  16. Endorse. Our servers are paid for by donations from people who believe they are supporting an encyclopedia, not a social networking site. I would not object to a page in WP space devoted to listing popular, non-WikiMedia, sites where Wikipedians congregate to socialize and play.--agr (talk) 16:36, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
  17. Endorse. If we make the policy clear, it will save having the same arguments over and over at MfD. JohnCD (talk) 19:47, 29 July 2010 (UTC)
  18. Endorse Though not sure how the Department of Fun will take this.Acather96 (talk) 07:30, 30 July 2010 (UTC)
  19. Yes. Stifle (talk) 10:49, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
  20. Endorse. I'm a newish user and I'm young, but I didn't join Wikipedia for this. (Shockingly I actually joined to contribute to articles.) I have Facebook for socialising on the Internet. I don't think this will discourage many, if any, constructive editors. Jenks24 (talk) 14:14, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
  21. Endorse. Informality on user space is good, but not when it reaches this sort of silliness. DGG ( talk ) 05:36, 5 August 2010 (UTC)


Question: how is it possible to have a "secret page" on Wikipedia? They all show up in the index; are we talking about pages with white font applied or something? --Kotniski (talk) 14:40, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

  • Secret pages are generally simply not wikilinked from anywhere. Yes, one of the reasons I just don't "get" secret pages is that Special:PrefixIndex is a pretty effective tool for finding anything. Jclemens (talk) 14:51, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
    • So the proposal concerns orphaned pages in user space? Or is there some other definition of a "secret page"?--Kotniski (talk) 15:02, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
      • No, it is not just the property of being an orphaned userspace page, as I myself easily use this "feature" to work on article drafts before mainspacing, testing templates, and the like. That's all towards improvement of the work. It is when the page - secret or not - is for entertainment value only and serves nothing to improvement of WP, as the case of the above secret pages. --MASEM (t) 15:06, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
        • So why is everyone talking about "secret pages", when the "secrecy" has nothing to do with the reason why it's considered bad? Shouldn't we be talking about "user pages unrelated to Wikipedia" or something like that?--Kotniski (talk) 15:14, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
  • Yes, it's a misnomer, and people thinking that anything done here isn't done in full view of the population of the planet is part of the underlying difficulty. (Remembering that is something that guides behaviour, use of the wiki, personal interaction with other editors, care and attention with regard to living persons, and several other things.) The pages being discussed and objected to by some are the "Congratulations! You know how to use MediaWiki, and have discovered this orphaned user-space congratulations note page. Please sign here and I'll pin a badge on you." sort.

    Part of the difficulty of approaching this issue that makes it so intractable is that for some people such activity is their primary focus and primary motivation for being here, whereas for others such activities are a means for blowing off steam after spending a month bringing an article to FA status, that they spend only the occasional edit upon here and there. There's a conflict between the notion that writers are the people that we actually want, and people who are here to use the wiki as a free scribbling board for their own personal use are those that should be encouraged to go elsewhere; and notions of egalitarianism and "equal justice", derived from the doctrine of perpetual openness to all comers. Two of the principles that are fundamental to these Wikimedia Foundation projects come into opposition, here. Uncle G (talk) 15:37, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

    • So what exactly is the problem here? Is this sort of monkeying around actually causing any measurable increase in server load? How does it compare with other feelgoody type features, like custom sigs or userboxes?--Kotniski (talk) 15:40, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
      • Uncle G, I would really like to hear from actual users who've gotten anything to FA who actually enjoy secret pages as an entertainment or distraction. Really, I would. Not only it would undermine my position, it would shock me as a person. I've never observed any evidence of such, and I frankly think it doesn't exist. If it did, however, it would be a very strong argument against doing anything against these pages that I perceive to be a waste of time and not aligned with our purposes. Jclemens (talk) 15:54, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
        • Perhaps it is a bit pretentious of me, but I shall use myself as the example you seek. I discovered them a few years ago, spent a few hours one night playing the game, and haven't done it since. I may not have notches in my FA belt quite like many others (since I tend towards more gnomish edits in mainspace, as well as a lot of behind-the-scenes work), but I'd be offended if one were to accuse me of being an unproductive editor, as I take pride in my contributions. I do think the game is silly now, but would be angry as heck if my page got deleted. I think an established editor can be trusted to use good judgement regarding his or her own userspace and time managment. bahamut0013wordsdeeds 15:21, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
        • But I still don't understand why it isn't just a waste of time to be worrying about these pages at all. Are they harming anyone? --Kotniski (talk) 16:03, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
          • That's a philosophical discussion where I can give you several answers, including:
            • They might indeed be driving away serious contributors who see them as frivolous and/or undermining Wikipedia's credibility. At the very least, they do look silly.
            • They're no more harmful and a lot less useful than plenty of the non-notable pages that are deleted every day.
            • They're no more a waste of time to discuss than most of the other things that show up on WP:CENT. :-) Jclemens (talk) 16:13, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
        • I'm probably not the right person to ask for examples, because even though I've written a couple of articles my methods of relaxation afterwards don't involve wikis at all. ☺ But I acknowledge the argument put forward that for other people this may well be the case, even though it's not part of my personal code of behaviour. Uncle G (talk) 16:29, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
      • The problem is the fairly obvious one, that the world outside of Wikipedia has experienced for as long as human civilisation has existed. The number of people who want to work on any given shared endeavour is always less than the number of people who want to spectate or scribble. Anyone who has ever had to suffer from property misuse will tell you that there's a camel's nose issue. One must push back as soon as that nose comes through the tent flap. The shared purpose must be expressed in action, not only to acculture new participants in the project but to reject those that come to the project with other, selfish, purposes in mind, lest they overwhelm. The disputes over this are the same ones that have the world at odds when it comes to the artistic merits of graffiti. Wikipedia is part of the world at large, and the problems of the world at large such as this exist here.

        Another facet of the problem is that these are projects where the notion of freedom embodied in the fundamental principle of free content. The reason why people want to codify a prohibition against acting counter to community norms, is that they want something to point to in order to say, to those who argue "But I'm free to do what I want! There's no rule against it. Freedom is what you're about, isn't it?", that there is a codified community norm. But, again, there's another tension between principles here. The basic idea underpinning Wikipedia:Ignore all rules is that our purpose here is not to make rules for making an encyclopaedia, but to make that encyclopaedia itself. (It's all to easy to fall into the trap of spending all one's time in deciding what colour the wheel should be before one goes about actually inventing it.) But, in opposition to that, the idea that we're here to make an encyclopaedia not just scribble and play around, and that people who don't share our purpose are encouraged to go elsewhere and use their own property for such activities (rather than the property of a charitable foundation), is the very one that people are attempting to codify. Uncle G (talk) 16:29, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

OK, so that being the case, can we work on codifying these things properly, instead of just making a kneejerk reaction to each individual "abuse" as we come across it? What is the actual principle at stake here? If we just legislate that "secret pages are bad" then those people will find some other game to play (or even carry on playing the same game, with the would-be deleters as their new opponents), and our instructions will have made one more forward move in their relentless CREEP. --Kotniski (talk) 18:06, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
(It's off topic, but the same applies to the recent barely-thought-out edicts from above concerning "pedophilia". We now have very specific policies about what to do about people who advocate sex with minors, but we are still completely in the dark about what to do about people - far more commonly encountered in practice - who advocate many other equally unpleasant actions and positions.)--Kotniski (talk) 18:13, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
I agree that consistency is desirable and appropriate, but per WP:BURO, we don't make rules for the sake of rules--we describe existing best practice. The only reason this is here now is that in a recent secret page AfD, the lack of any mention of such here in WP:NOT, despite the mention at WP:UP, was cited as a reason for keeping that content. The link I added was calculated to be a small change, very much in line with existing discussions on the matter, which can serve to guide discussions at AfDs, not root out secret-page apologists and ban them from polite society! :-) Jclemens (talk) 18:30, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Well, I'm glad, because some of the anti-secret pagers in the past have acted almost as if they are blasphemy and took to MfDing them with all the zeal of an inquisition, which seems distinctly pointy and bitey to me. I've no real opinion in the issue myself, but I greatly dislike bullies (I again emphasize that I am glad you are not one) and attempts to legislate behavior. bahamut0013wordsdeeds 15:21, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

NOTE: During this RfC, the preceding discussion on WT:UP was archived to Wikipedia_talk:User_pages/Archive_7#Secret_pages:_Ok_or_not.3F. Jclemens (talk) 16:21, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

View by Becksguy

I totally agree with Jclemens that "Secret pages" are not encyclopedia content... I can also see how there are editors that believe secret pages ... do not contribute to building an encyclopedia. On the surface, secret pages don't directly contribute. However, I believe that is an unintentionally short sighted view. Yes, secret pages cost a bit in storage and bandwidth, but if a hypothetical user produces even 1000 constructive edits and one secret page, that would be a great return on investment, and a net positive for Wikipedia. I don't really care about any particular secret page, but I do care very very much that we retain editors that produce content that helps Wikipedia to increase article quality and to grow. As an example: For a car assembler in Detroit, the only direct productive labor would be with a wrench in hand, putting parts on cars. Anything else, such as cleaning up, having coffee breaks, or attending quality improvement or plant safety seminars is non-productive. Yet they are necessary to support and improve production. In Wikipedia, the only activity that directly produces our product is article writing. How many words per hour does one produce in mainspace, as it were. No one is claiming secret pages are productive. What they are, however, is a way for editors that otherwise do produce content, or copy edit content, to have a bit of fun, to socialize, and remain interested, and thus stay here and produce the content that is our reason for existing. This is a volunteer effort without pay, not a third world sweat shop that exploits people. Humans are social animals and we need to have some small amount of fun and socialization with our productive work in order to stay interested and productive. I'm very concerned that WP:BITEing new and younger users (the ones that seem to like these kinds of games) will lead to loosing them. Please read Wikipedia:Editors matter and User:Bahamut0013/Secret pages. Because if we blanket forbid secret pages, it will be kinda like banks that hold underwater mortgages insisting on foreclosing and winding up with houses they can't sell, versus negotiating with the owners for a new easier payment schedule. Sometimes an overly strict interpretation is not in everyone's best interests. And I believe that's the case here, and that Wikipedia will suffer from loss of editors. If a specific user creates secret pages and does not materially contribute, then take the secret page to MfD, on a case by case basis. WP:UP#GAMES does not forbid secret page, rather by using the header "Excessive unrelated content" which excludes less than excessive content, it is therefore permissive. It also says: Particularly, community-building activities that are not strictly "on topic" may be allowed, especially when initiated by committed Wikipedians with good edit histories. At their best, such activities help us to build the community, and this helps to build the encyclopedia. My point also.

Users who endorse this view
  1. As author. Becksguy (talk) 16:24, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
  2. If editors who spend most of their time productively building wikipedia, then we should let them have pages like this - it's not difficult to tell who is primarily concentrating on encyclopedia editing. I don't see the difference between these pages and signature/autograph books and and if editors such as this one want to have such pages then I don't see any reason not to let them. (If there is a difference then a rename is all that's required!) Pages such as this one don't directly contribute to the encyclopedia but has been very easily kept at MFD 3 times and help keep wikipedia from being too unfriendly a place. I agree with the comment made by Jimbo when someone said signature books don't contribute to the encyclopedia - "Sure it does, if it contributes to a collegial atmosphere of friendliness. Snapping at people who are just being friendly doesn't improve the encyclopedia at all, as far as I can tell". Davewild (talk) 18:45, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
  3. Endorse. Social activities builds relationships - relationships help build the encyclopedia. I can't tell you how many things I've done for the project because a close Wikipedian friend asked me to. People in business will tell you how critical casual social events are for networking. Dcoetzee 18:58, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
  4. Endorse. A secret page is just a secret guestbook and it is not all at like Myspace, Facebook, or a game. Think about what Facebook and Myspace entail - posting about personal things, pictures, games, quizzes, etc. A guestbook/secret page is nothing like this at all. It only takes a few seconds to find one and all you would do is make one edit with your username. It is merely a way of meeting new people or introducing yourself to another editor and maybe you later collaborate on a project. Secret guestbook pages don't harm anyone but banning them could only potentially be a net-negative for the encyclopedia if it causes any productive users to leave. I don't have any statistics on this but I would estimate that a productive editor involved in secret pages would only have on average 25-30 additional edits than the rest of us and have only "wasted" about 15 minutes time total lifetime. I think we would all rather have them be here on Wikipedia than wasting time on some other site and not using Wikipedia as much. EdEColbertLet me know 04:47, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
  5. I particularly like Dcoetzee's summary Nick-D (talk) 06:10, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
  6. I like what EdEColbert said, especially the beginning; that these aren't like MySpace at all. I agree with Becksguy's view. Not really much more to say. ~~ Hi878 (Come shout at me!) 06:48, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
  7. Echoing that DCoetzee's is a good summary of the basic point. Rd232 talk 18:56, 2 August 2010 (UTC)


A car assembly line worker is a poor analogy. Here's a better one, that counters with the notion that this is also about respect, about respect for the purpose of the facilities provided. I give you, once again, the Charity Shop Analogy:

You are a volunteer worker in a charity shop. Everything that you do in the shop is visible to the public through the shop window. Whilst you are putting price tags on second-hand clothing you may well indulge in a little playing with your volunteer colleagues. But you know that if you aren't here to do the work, you don't have any right to the play. Moreover, at the end of a hard day's work you know that the world outside has pubs, clubs, bowling alleys, cinemas, and all sorts of other places for amusement and relaxation. You also know that the facilities aren't yours, are provided for a specific purpose, and that should be seen, by that public looking in through the shop window, not to be abused by volunteers, in order to encourage and retain other volunteers. So you don't set up your personal fairground amusement stall in the middle of the shop. You respect the endeavour that you are here for, and the organization supporting that endeavour, and you go elsewhere in the world for other personal endeavours.

This ethos is what people are trying to codify. It is what they are trying to convey. The problem is that, as with legislation in general, it's difficult to write rules to express this sort of thing without coming up with rules that express something else. It's worth looking at codes of conduct for other charitable enterprises, here. It's certainly worth noting that charitable enterprises have formal codes of conduct.

Here's just one example of such a code of conduct, from the many that some searching will turn up, that might be close to home. It's an excerpt from the model policy and code of conduct manual for volunteers in the Court Appointed Special Advocates programme in New York:

CASA Volunteers may use the telephones in the CASA offices for CASA purposes. We ask that only essential personal calls be placed through CASA office telephones. We request that volunteers do not make personal toll calls while at the CASA offices.

Uncle G (talk) 17:29, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
My view is not as well written or organized as I would have liked. I spent too much time on the mechanics of RfC creation (and CERT), that I rushed to get something in. To use your Charity Shop Analogy, suppose the hypothetical volunteers get tired of all work and no fun (from their point of view), and want a 10 minute frisbee session every afternoon. And when the boss says no, she looses some of her experienced volunteers and has to spend resources to search for qualified replacement volunteers, plus lost productivity for training, etc, in this hypothetical situation. There is always going to be tension between applying every minute to only productive activities and allowing some small amount of reasonable and managed activities that keep interest up, help morale, and promote overall productivity. Even if it has nothing to do with the organizational mission. The telephone policy where I worked was essentially the same as your example. And I though it was a very reasonable accommodation between the conflicting needs. — Becksguy (talk) 19:24, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

I'm a bit uncomfortable with the way you have cited User:Bahamut0013/Secret pages as if it supports your opinion. I've taken great pains to make it as neutral as possible, and it cites numerous arguments both in support and opposition of your position. After Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/User:Bahamut0013/Secret pages, I'm a bit leery about the reputation of this essay being unbalanced. I would feel better if you amended it to cite specifically the For section. bahamut0013wordsdeeds 15:28, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

I meant the two pages to be sources of additional information on the subject, not necessarily to only support my position. I am *not* in favor of secret pages per se. Rather, I'm in favor of allowing otherwise productive editors the leeway of having a secret page, especially if it helps keep newer and younger editors interested and productively participating. If I change the sentence to read something like: "For more information and views, please read....", would that meet your concern? And thank you for writing a good page on the subject. — Becksguy (talk) 17:10, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

View by Fetchcomms

To be brief,

  • Secret pages are like scavenger hunt games. Games belong on Facebook, not Wikipedia.
  • Secret pages contribute to the whole community friendliness concept but they attract predominantly newer users in my experience, giving them the wrong view of Wikipedia and the appropriateness of these pages. Unlike guestbooks, they take up way too much time, result in way too many useless pages being created, and have more flaws than benefits. Rather than giving the hard workers of the encyclopedia a way to relax and whatnot, they only create a greater "cabal" of newer, younger, MySpacier users who waste time looking for these things. I used to like secret pages until about when I had about 2,000 edits and realized that, if I wanted to be a serious contributor, I couldn't bother spending time on these silly games. I don't bother with them now.
  • That said, I think that they should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, though most should be deleted. Why? Because some of them are more harmless than others. If you have just one subpage instead of ten and you hide a clue somewhere and you don't bother with silly barnstars for them and whatnot, it takes far less time and people might actually find it less of a distraction. fetch·comms 01:06, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
Users who endorse this view
  1. As author. fetch·comms 01:06, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
  2. I think the argument by Becksguy is compelling, but it doesn't reflect reality. In reality, a significant amount, if not the majority, of "secret pages" are not made by users who make 1000 productive edits, then 1 secret page. They're made by users who make a handful of productive edits then just edit userspace almost exclusively. Mr.Z-man 13:58, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
  3. Stifle (talk) 10:49, 3 August 2010 (UTC)


You mention that hidden pages should be evaluated on a case by case basis, although most should be deleted. What kind of hidden pages should/can be kept? Netalarmtalk 23:06, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

Ones by established users that don't actually waste lots of time, as I mentioned above--just one subpage, etc., and not something that a lot of new users will get distracted in. Something that will let me take a break, but only for two minutes, not twenty. fetch·comms 01:53, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

View by Rd232

Jclemens stated above "Secret pages" are not encyclopedia content and do not contribute to building an encyclopedia. The first is indisputable, the second is a question of fact. Whilst Wikipedia is not Myspace or Facebook (sociality for its own sake), it cannot be overlooked that Wikipedia's success in creating and maintaining a community-built encyclopedia depends on the health of its community. That health may well involve a degree of socialising, and given a proportionally extremely low cost (in terms of burden placed on servers), such socialising should be tolerated as long as it broadly contributes to the health and vitality of the Wikipedia community, which is to say, it encourages people to continue to participate in it. Unless we imagine hordes of Secret Page junkies coming to Wikipedia solely for that (not impossible, but unlikely, and a matter of demonstrable fact if true), then Secret Pages ought to be part of the class of things that are a waste of time in themselves, but do contribute to the vitality of the community, and thereby indirectly to the encyclopedia. In which case, rather than stomping on these things, we should try to find ways to link them back to the core task - for instance, a WikiCup-style Secret Page competition which mixes Secret Page activity with editing/maintenance targets.

In fact, as the nature of Wikipedia work develops increasingly towards maintenance (which is less attractive to most than creating content, especially new articles), the challenge of maintaining the health and vitality of the community (people coming back regularly to contribute) becomes greater. This means, if anything, that we need to find more ways to encourage people to interact with the website in ways that aren't directly contributing to the encyclopedia - but which help keep them engaged, visiting the website, and occasionally checking their watchlist etc. Do we want to become Myspace? Of course not. The fact that if this shortcut were being created today it would be WP:NOTFACEBOOK as the primary shortcut tells its own story: even big social websites can die a slow death. That includes Wikipedia! If we want to imagine Wikipedia in 2015 or 2020 or beyond, how are we going to keep enough people around and interested in maintaining and updating an encyclopedia? I'd say if anything, it means finding ways to be more social. Preferably this will be in ways related to the encyclopedia mission, but that might be too limiting if approached strictly; if so, those "other" ways or somehow "mixed" ways should be permitted and even encouraged, as long they do not themselves begin to distract too much from the core task.

As to policy, WP:NOTMYSPACE, in both actual content and original intent, is to prevent Wikipedia being abused for purposes entirely unrelated to it. Secret Page games by active contributors do not fall into that category. Rd232 talk 14:35, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

  • Some very good ideas in there. Particularly the "link them back to the core task" suggestion (see WP:FUN#Wikitainment for other possible ways we could re-route these), and the "by active contributors" separation. -- Quiddity (talk) 21:31, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

View by Kayau

God, and Jiong I'm totally tired of these long and endless discussions now. What about that, we just leave things as they are, stop having these pointless discussions, and leave them to MfD, and judge secret pages on case-by-case basis etc. Please. Just stop this unwanted drama. Kayau Voting IS evil 01:37, 31 July 2010 (UTC)

But if we take it on a case by case basis we end up having the same WP:TL;DR discussion over and over again each time, like this one. The point of having it here is to have it once and settle the point. JohnCD (talk) 10:00, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
Have you seen my comment at WT:MFD? Kayau Voting IS evil 10:22, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't think there will be any consensus of this discussion at all. There is no point in it. Wikipedians are mostly diverted, on this issue. There have already been tons of discussions at WT:UP, which are worthless. I don't see why it will not become worthless when held at WT:NOT. I have decided that these discussions have zero value, and should be discouraged. Kayau Voting IS evil 10:25, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
19 supports for one view, no more than 5 for any other view, and you think we won't reach any consensus? Hmm. Jclemens (talk) 15:49, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
This comment's factual accuracy may be compromised because of out-of-date information. Please help improve the comment by updating it. There is no additional information on the talk page, since this is already one. Now... time to stop wasting time. ;) Kayau Voting IS evil 12:36, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

View by Heimstern

Myspacing activities on Wikipedia are a waste of time, but so is enforcing WP:MYSPACE under most circumstances. If it's not harming article content or causing some sort of disruption to the community (and given how fast RC here flows, it's not like myspacing tends to flood it a lot), it's really not that important. We should find some policies actually worth enforcing. Like these right here! Heimstern Läufer (talk) 07:20, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

Straw poll: Should secret pages from productive editors be tolerated?

Yes, secret pages from productive editors should be tolerated

  1. Becksguy (talk) 09:42, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
  2. Herostratus (talk) 02:38, 2 August 2010 (UTC) Leave 'em alone unless someone can show actual proximate and significant harm. WP:PRIG is not offical policy (yet). Herostratus (talk) 02:38, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
  3. These pages are obviously not doing any harm when a productive editor made one; I most certainly believe that my having one hasn't lessened the constructive editing that I perform. ~~ Hi878 (Come shout at me!) 06:50, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
  4. Bothering to enforce almost any form of our myspacing policy on productive contributors is just plain stupid. We're here for an encyclopedia. If people are helping to produce that, there's seldom a need to give a flying eff what they do in the userspace (advocating pedophilia would be an exception, sure, but secret pages, not so much). Heimstern Läufer (talk) 07:23, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
  5. fetch·comms 21:23, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
  6. If productive editors were doing off-the-wall things on their primary User Pages or User Talk pages, there might be more reason for complaint, since those pages are seen by everyone and (besides their incidental social aspects) are intended primarily as working pages to advance The Project. But a secret page isn't seen by someone who clicks User:Productive Editor-talk-contribs to understand that editor's actions in an edit history or his/her contributions to an article talk page. So what's the harm? (What you don't know can't hurt you.) Those who can't see that Wikipedia—like most serious and worthwhile endeavours conducted by human beings—has an absurd side, need to lighten up. We're honest, serious, diligent, committed editors but most of us realize that every one. even of us, has an absurd side, too. —— Shakescene (talk) 08:57, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

No, secret pages from productive editors should not be tolerated

  1. I believe that secret pages from productive editors should not be tolerated because they are not tolerated for less serious editors. Neither WP:UP#GAMES nor WP:NOTMYSPACE condones Wikipedians with serious edits who use Wikipedia as a web host or as a game. Why should established editors who violate policy be treated differently from less serious editors who violate policy? Shouldn't established editors who have many constructive edits serve as examples to those who have less constructive edits? I believe that all editors are equal and should be treated equally when they violate policy.

    I will provide an example to illustrate why it is harmful to hold double standards. Let's say that Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/User:Some Person/The Real Secret Page and Secret Barnstar is closed as "keep" because Some Person (talk · contribs) is considered an "productive editor", whereas Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/User:Fiddlekid's secret pages is closed as "delete" because Fiddlekid (talk · contribs) is an "unproductive editor".

    Fiddlekid returns to Wikipedia after a lengthy hiatus. He notices the "new messages" banner, clicks on it, and is surprised to discovers that his secret pages have been deleted. Fiddlekid clicks on Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/User:Fiddlekid's secret pages and discovers links to WP:NOTMYSPACE and WP:UP#GAMES which explain why the page has been deleted.

    Then, Fiddleclick starts contributing to articles more and less to games and Myspacing. One day, he finds a secret page from a "productive editor" that has not been deleted. Believing that all editors are treated equally when they violate policy, Fiddleclick nominates the secret page for deletion whereupon users flood the MfD page saying "Keep. This editor is productive and is here to build the encyclopedia so the page should be kept."

    How would Fiddleclick react to that? Perhaps he would think: people support keeping this user's page because he is better and more popular than I. Why else would people delete my page and not his?" Would Fiddleclick wish to contribute to this project anymore? I think not.

    Is this the message we want to be giving new users? That tenure, content contributions, and a high number of edits to the mainspace "buys" them the right to host secret pages on Wikipedia's servers? I hope not, which is why I am strongly against deleting secret pages for some editors and then keeping them for a "clique" of "productive editors". I concur with Becksguy (talk · contribs) that editors matter. As such all editors should be treated fairly and equally—all secret pages should be accorded the same treatment. Cunard (talk) 05:19, 1 August 2010 (UTC)

  2. No; a secret page that is being used for non-productive purposes on WP should not be tolerated (after careful review) regardless if an experienced editor or a greenhorn has created it. An experienced editor may create what initially appears to be a similar secret gaming page, thus why I suggest careful review to make sure that there is not a valid use for it (such as part of a WP tutorial on searching, for example). --MASEM (t) 05:32, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
  3. No, there would be endless TL;DR discussions about whether a particular editor was productive enough to have a secret page. JohnCD (talk) 10:03, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
  4. No, that's favoritism. If there's to be a reason that "secret pages" should be kept, it should be as part of a learning environment--e.g., a "here's how to find any page in the 'pedia" exercise for new users wanting to increase their Wiki-Fu. I don't see a need for more than a few pages in order to meet that goal. Jclemens (talk) 15:47, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
  5. No, they serve no purpose and do nothing at all to contribute to building the encyclopedia. A8x (talk) 11:12, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
  6. Why are we !voting and having a regular RfC at the same time? No, secret pages shouldn't be allowed. WP is not a web host, and it's not myspace. Karanacs (talk) 19:26, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
  7. I think Cunard has given a very clear and cogent explanation as to why this is not a good idea. I can see the attraction of this idea, but if we allow some people to do this, then it will be very difficult to justify not allowing someone else to do it. "Such and such a user has 37 secret pages and nobody objects, but I had 2 and you deleted them". Also it introduces the whole "where do we draw the borderline?" issue, and endless arguments in MfD discussions as to whether a particular editor should be given allowances or not. The idea that established constructive editors should be allowed leeway is not a wholly unreasonable one, but I think it is a mistake. The fact that established and respected pillars of the community are allowed to do something makes it look very unjust to someone with less standing in the community that they are not allowed to do the same. This is exactly the sort of thing which is likely to encourage some people to see Wikipedia as run by a self-appointed cabal of editors who run things just for their own pleasure. I am not, of course, suggesting that that is the intention of those who advocate leeway for established editors, but that is how it would look. The whole issue of allowing exceptions to the "not myspace" policy brings up this "where do you draw the borderline" issue. It is interesting that at present not a single one of the comments in the "yes" list above actually gives a reason for allowing these pages, but merely argues that there is no reason for disallowing them. Well, there are several reasons for disallowing them. JamesBWatson (talk) 09:07, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
  8. If anything, I'd say such misbehaviour from "established users" is even worse because they no longer have the excuse that it was a silly newbie mistake. Besides, having established users tell the newbies "don't create secret pages" while they themselves get away with exactly that is downright hypocrisy. Andrew Lenahan - Starblind 14:07, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
  9. It's all been said. If one group shouldn't have them, no group should have them. Dougweller (talk) 15:16, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
  10. This is an encyclopedia, not a social website. User space is for people to disply their interests, expertise, etc. Language fluency, areas of interest, wiki-philosophies (editing, adminship, etc.), and barnstars which demonstrate the users positive interactions with others in the venue of building the encyclopedia, sandboxes for articles under creation or other wiki-related pages under creation (RfC, etc.) are all good. Secret pages and Easter Eggs serve no function in building the encyclopedia and should be considered userspace violations, in my understanding of wiki policy/guideline. -- Avi (talk) 21:29, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
  11. They are equally silly no matter who does them. DGG ( talk ) 05:37, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
  12. Certainly not; elitism of the worst kind. Be it Jimbo or Mike Godwin or any of us here, we shouldn't be wasting our resources and setting a bad example. Privileging active editors, even the most productive ones, is a very bad path to go down. (Gee, me agreeing with DGG again!) --Orange Mike | Talk 21:08, 9 August 2010 (UTC)


  1. I boycott the poll per my comment above (and my sig too). Kayau Voting IS evil 05:31, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
  2. We're bureaucratic enough. This pointless debate has gone way too far, and won't matter at all in the long run. I'm going to go find something more productive to do, you all should too. Saeb(talkjorn) 00:52, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
  3. Other than the fact that the poll is actually skewed (read the wording), I should note that polls do not constitute a WP:Consensus.   «l| Promethean ™|l»  (talk) 10:17, 3 August 2010 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

WP:MEMORIAL when part of a notable accident article

Some people seem to interpret WP:MEMORIAL to mean that any mention of a dead person, even as part of a notable accident article, violates this policy. There is currently an RfC for a featured aviation accident article, where the list of victims and their ages is included in hidden format, requiring the reader to click on 'show' to view. Assuming there are reliable sources for the names, does this violate WP:MEMORIAL? Crum375 (talk) 11:22, 30 July 2010 (UTC)

Guessing this is the same RfC noted in the previous section? :-) -- AnmaFinotera (talk ~ contribs) 13:33, 30 July 2010 (UTC)
Yes, but this question addresses the generic issue, not any single case, and therefore the current wording of WP:MEMORIAL. Crum375 (talk) 13:39, 30 July 2010 (UTC)
It's not simple because NOT#MEMORIAL is not being called out in isolation of other arguments on that RFC, so determining what to change here is impossible. There's no discussion that should happen here that shouldn't be first happening at that RFC first. --MASEM (t) 13:46, 30 July 2010 (UTC)
Any discussion should be broken down to its individual elements. In this case, the generic question is whether the name and age of a victim of a crime, or an accident, may be mentioned in an article about that crime or accident, even if the victim is not notable enough to warrant a dedicated article. If there is a prohibition of mentioning victim names, then that has to be spelled out in a policy. At the moment, WP:MEMORIAL seems to apply only to dedicated articles about deceased people, not an outright prohibition of mentioning their name in an otherwise notable article. Crum375 (talk) 14:03, 30 July 2010 (UTC)
Breaking down the discussion is very premature and effectively forum shopping. If that RFC should close and clearly consensus says MEMORIAL doesn't apply, then the question of how to word MEMORIAL better to fit that result comes into play. It is good to get consensus of people her about MEMORIAL on the RFC and using a single location to do that, but creating a second discussion here while that first RFC is going is not appropriate. --MASEM (t) 14:33, 30 July 2010 (UTC)
I think it's just the opposite — the RfC is premature without clarifying the underlying policy. If we have a policy which says that a crime victim of a notable crime may not be named in an article about that crime unless that victim is notable enough to justify his own dedicated wiki-article, that would be an important input to the RfC discussion. If it's the reverse, then that's clearly important too. Similarly for a notable accident: are we allowed to mention the reliably-sourced victim names even if they aren't individually notable enough to merit their own article? As the WP:MEMORIAL policy stands, it seems to apply only to dedicated articles about deceased persons, not about mentioning their names and age as victims in otherwise notable articles. If this is incorrect, it needs to be fixed. Crum375 (talk) 15:04, 30 July 2010 (UTC)
Policy and guidelines are driven by actual practice and consensus, not created in a void and certainly shouldn't be created/modified to achieve desired results in a specific RFC. The RFC opened provides a specific case in practice where several policies and guidelines converge, thus after consensus is set there does it make sense to address the problematic policies and guidelines. Now, it is completely fair if you think MEMORIAL is being used wrong in that RFC to create a new subheading there to discuss it further within the context of that RFC, and even advertise it here some more to draw attention. But trying to achieve change here to get the result you want there is not how we use P&G pages. --MASEM (t) 15:09, 30 July 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I am not at all sure I want to achieve any change here. My primary objective on this page is to understand the current WP:MEMORIAL policy. As you can see in the RfC, there are other issues there, such as style, but here I'd like to focus specifically on whether WP:MEMORIAL means more than it currently says. Crum375 (talk) 16:20, 30 July 2010 (UTC)

I think that WP:MEMORIAL is silent on mentioning the death, including up to memorialising, in the context of existing suitable coverage of a person or event. WP:MEMORIAL was not written for this purpose. To quote a "policy violation" here is not good. I think this means that we should fall back to the question: Do others (reliable sources) provide this coverage. "It this 'memorial' attributable to a reliable, published source." is a good question. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:49, 30 July 2010 (UTC)
I also think that this is forum-shopping, and WP:GAMEing the system by trying to change the policies to 'win' an active dispute. The RFC linked in the previous section is currently running about 6:1 against Crum's passionately defended position, and Crum has been arguing with nearly every editor who has posted a comment. IMO this discussion should be postponed at least until the RFC closes. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:57, 30 July 2010 (UTC)
If a policy is mentioned by some editors on an RfC as a rationale for content removal, and it seems to be at odds with the policy as it's currently worded, why is it wrong to ask people on the policy's talk page to explain it? In addition, my question here is more than just relating to the RfC, or even aviation accidents, but also for crime victims, and in fact any time an otherwise non-notable deceased person's name is mentioned by a reliable source in reference to a highly notable event. It seems to me that this basic question is much broader than the specific RfC. Crum375 (talk) 00:35, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
It's not wrong and in fact good to ask the editors involved on the specific p/g page to offer their opinion (that's why you put the pointer to the RFC here, it seems), but it is wrong to try to get p/g changes in concurrency to a different discussion that is being run; that's gaming system, trying to change the "rules" as they are discussed. Additionally, I think you have a stronger case discussing this in the context of the example RFC and concurrent discussion than here in isolation. --MASEM (t) 00:44, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
As I noted above, I am not interested in changing the policy or the rules, and I didn't post here for that. I did want other people's opinion about the generic issue, because some of the arguments on the RfC were that per WP:MEMORIAL, only individually notable deceased persons may be mentioned in an article, even if the article is not specifically about them. As far as the specific RfC, I think there are other issues there, such as style and format, outside the scope of this page, and my goal here was only to clarify the generic issues I mentioned. Crum375 (talk) 01:43, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
The current wording of MEMORIAL is "Wikipedia is not the place to memorialize deceased friends, relatives, acquaintances, or others". The key part is 'others'. I consider the names of random victims of disasters to be 'others', and therefore I read MEMORIAL as barring simple lists of victims from Wikipedia who otherwise have no association with the article or any outside notability, because such an act in of itself appears to me to be an act of memorialisation. If I can read it that way, others can too, and the Rfc seems to bear this out. This was also picked up on in Wikipedia:Victim Lists. MickMacNee (talk) 21:52, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
The term "memorialize" generally means to describe some aspect of their lives, like a brief biography. A pure name and age mention is not "memorializing". Also, the WP:MEMORIAL explains the concept by saying (emphasis added) "subjects of encyclopedia articles must satisfy Wikipedia's notability requirements." This indicates that the WP:MEMORIAL policy section specifically relates to articles dedicated to the deceased, not to a mere mention of the deceased in another article. In other words, as it stands, there is no policy that tells us that we may not mention the published name and age of a non-notable crime or accident victim in articles about the crime or accident, not dedicated to those victims. This point goes beyond victim names, and relates to any published detail about a larger topic: the detail need not in itself be "notable" in the wikipedia WP:N sense to merit inclusion in an article not dedicated to that detail. Crum375 (talk) 22:35, 31 July 2010 (UTC)
That's your reading of it, and I simply disagree, based on my reading of it. Unless or until it specifically states 'this does/does not apply to simple victim lists in articles', then we can agree to disagree and let consensus decide. But as people have pointed out at length in here and the rfc, objecting to these lists based on MEMORIAL is in practice what already happens all over the pedia. And policy supposedly reflects practice, not the other way around. MickMacNee (talk) 14:48, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
What you are saying is that, for example, if there is an article for a notable crime (e.g. serial murder), we may not mention the victim names and ages in the article, regardless of the fact that they were published by reliable secondary sources, if those victims don't merit their own wiki-pages. By that logic, you'd also prohibit any mention of any ancillary detail in any article, unless that detail warrants its own page. Clearly this view is absurd, and clearly we are allowed to add related details to articles which are mentioned by secondary sources. The WP:MEMORIAL is clearly intended to prohibit creating articles as a memorial to deceased people who are not notable enough independent of their death. Expanding this to include the prohibition of mentioning any name of any non-notable victim in an article about a notable crime (or accident, as the case may be), is not supported by any policy, explicit or implied. Crum375 (talk) 18:48, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps somebody can explain why we are mixing up victims of crime and those that just happen to die on a crashed aircraft, dont see the comparison myself. MilborneOne (talk) 18:57, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
No, that's not what I said at all. I've yet to see coverage of a serial killer yet that only mentioned the name and age of victims, and did not cover them in such detail that it would be simply absurd to claim that adding it to the article would not be relevant or justifiable, or an act of memorialisation. The same can absolutley not be said about your plane crash victim list, whose only coverage is as a simple list with no other relevance or use except to retain as a memorial. The two scenarios are totally different, you couldn't have chosen a worse comparison frankly. MickMacNee (talk) 19:13, 1 August 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────If we have a reliable secondary source mentioning a fact related to the article topic, we may include it in the article. Notability only comes into play for articles dedicated to the specific fact. So WP:MEMORIAL tells us not to create articles for deceased persons unless they are notable independent of their death, but it doesn't tell us not to mention their name in relation to an article topic which is otherwise notable. This applies to any cause of death: accident, crime or natural. If WP:MEMORIAL is intended to prohibit mentioning deceased people's names in general, unless they are very notable in their own right, it should say so, but that would be absurd, and fly in the face of many of our articles. Imagine an article about a famous painter, with some reliable secondary source telling us that the painter was influenced by some person he met when he was young, who is now deceased. Are we not allowed to mention that name, unless that person is notable enough to merit his own article? Clearly we may mention anything that a reliable source mentions in relation to the article topic, and notability (in the wiki WP:N sense) only comes into play as justification for creating an article for someone or something, not for adding facts about otherwise notable subjects. Crum375 (talk) 19:57, 1 August 2010 (UTC)

See, this is the thing that goes to MilborneOne's question. In the person inspiring the artist case, if it is well sourced that that person was the inspiration, but that person was otherwise non-notable, it is nearly impossible to talk about the artist without mentioning that person, and thus is the type of case where we do include them. If we have a crime, generally the victims are non-notable unless in the course of summarizing the crime's events and aftereffects it specifically helps to identify the victims instead of by a simple "first victim" language. (eg. "At the scene of Smith's dead, they found the murderer's fingerprints and DNA." or "T). When we're talking about people involved with a disaster, knowing their names does not help with understanding the events and impact of the disaster, and thus we avoid that information because otherwise it's just a list of a people that died to include a list of people that died and no other reason - typically the basic start of a memorialized list, and the same reason the papers are printing them. --MASEM (t) 20:06, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
Ok, take the article about the artist, and change the person who inspired him to a person he accidentally shot to death in a hunting accident in his youth. Assume the victim's name and age are mentioned by the reliable secondary source, are we allowed to mention them? Crum375 (talk) 20:09, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
Did the person he shot affect his life in a notable way? Then likely yes, inclusion makes sense. Still not being a memorial to that person by adding that factor. --MASEM (t) 20:19, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
Sure, killing anyone, accidentally or not, will have a profound effect on a person's life. And I agree that including a victim's name and age is not a "memorial". That's exactly my point in this thread: we have no prohibition on the mere mentioning of the name and age of a non-notable victim related to an article not dedicated to that person. Crum375 (talk) 20:40, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes we do, you just don't accept that people can read it that way. MEMORIAL is not about barring mention of people's names at all, it is about not including people's names when the ONLY actual information you are partaking to the reader is, 'this is the name of someone who died'. Like it or not, a significant majority of editors see that as an exercise in memorialising, as the 'others' part, and your interpretation that the policy does not cover in article text is just that, an intepretation. Unless or until it's clarified that it only applies to articles, you cannot use your interpretation to defeat anybody else's. That's just a fact you need to accept. MickMacNee (talk) 23:28, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't see how this policy, or any policy would bar us from mentioning the shooting victim in my example. WP:MEMORIAL refers to not memorializing non-notable deceased individuals by creating articles devoted to them. It does not prohibit mentioning the age and name of a crime or accident victim, as published in a reliable secondary source in relation to an article about a notable subject. If we were to prohibit any mention of any detail related to the article when the detail is not notable enough for an article about itself, 99% of our content would disappear. You are confusing the issue of creating an article to memorialize a deceased person with the mere mention, per reliable secondary source, that a person named X aged Y died in connection with an notable article. Crum375 (talk) 23:49, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm done here. I really have had enough of you telling me what it does and doesn't say, when it does nothing of the sort, and I'm certainly tired of being told what I really mean, what I'm confusing, or what my reasoning is, and your increasingly outlandish strawmen scenarios. If you think you really know what it means, and you think you really know how others see it, then go ahead and be bold, and see what happens. From what I can see, all it might take is the changing of a full stop to a comma or a dash. There's nothing more I can say here without resorting to repetition, and I'm not convinced you read it anyway, so I'm out. MickMacNee (talk) 00:01, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I am not sure what you mean by being "bold", since WP:MEMORIAL seems very clear to me as it stands. WP:MEMORIAL does not prohibit the name and age of a non-notable crime or accident victim to be included in an article about a notable subject, as published by a reliable secondary source in connection with that subject. What it does prohibit is to create an article about a person who died, unless that person meets Wikipedia's notability requirements. This is the current policy, and it is logical. If you think it needs to be changed, try to get consensus for your version. Crum375 (talk) 00:13, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

Jesus christ. Is it just me, or does this post sound really absurd given it was Crum375 who actually started this talk page section by stating that some people seem to misinterpret MEMORIAL, and asking if his application of it was correct? Like I said, I'm done here, this discussion has drifted off into bizarro-land now. I've stated my opinion enough times, so you can like it or lump it. I'm content with my interpretation, and knowing that in your own words, some people seem to agree with me. We shall just have to agree to disagree on just when 'some' becomes 'many', but reading the Rfc, and knowing how this is current wording is interpreted in a hell of a lot of other articles too, especially aircrash ones, I know I can sleep peacefully tonight even if the wording is not changed and you potter off believing what you believe. It's you who had the problem with it in the first place, for crying out loud. I'm out, done, over, finito, gone. Arrivederci! MickMacNee (talk) 00:50, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
Mick, please try to focus on the message, not the messenger. As I noted above, WP:MEMORIAL refers to creating articles about non-notable deceased persons. It does not apply to mentioning the name and age of a victim, per reliable secondary source, as part of a notable article. There is no prohibition on mentioning details, published by reliable sources in connection to an article subject, even if those details are not sufficiently notable to merit their own dedicated wiki articles. If you feel otherwise, you need to gain consensus to change the policy, which is very clear. Crum375 (talk) 01:04, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
It appears that if you keep repeating yourself here and at the RFC most people will just sigh and walk away as it is clear that you do not accept that most people, if the RFC and currect practice is a guide, dont interpret the policy the same way as you do. The listing of non-notable people in an accident article is to memoralize them and as the policy says Wikipedia is not the place to memorialize deceased friends, relatives, acquaintances, or others. it is clear that such lists are not encyclopedic. So as the policy is clear on the subject we dont have much more to discuss. Thanks. MilborneOne (talk) 12:24, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
If you have a wiki article about a crime or an accident, and you mention the name and age of the victim, as published in a reliable secondary source about the crime or accident, the mere mention of the name and age is not "memorializing" the victim. If your interpretation is correct, many existing wiki articles would have to be drastically censored. If the community wanted to prohibit mentioning the names of non-notable deceased persons as part of otherwise notable articles, the policy would not use the words "memorializing", it would say (for example): "do not mention a deceased person's name in an article unless that person was notable independent of his death". Perhaps we need a separate RfC focused on this issue only, not specific to aviation accidents, if there is any doubt about this point. Crum375 (talk) 12:41, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
This is a discussion about accident articles, again your are confusing victims of crimes and non-notable victims of air crashes it is a bit over the top to say that many articles would need to be changed as very few aircraft accident articles mention names of those that have died. MilborneOne (talk) 18:57, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── If there is a difference between a crime and an accident in this respect, I don't see it. The point is simple: WP requires that people be notable to have a dedicated article about them. It does not require that they be notable to be merely mentioned in another article, not about them, so long as there is a reliable secondary source connecting them to that article. So in the case of a non-notable accident or crime victim, there is nothing to prohibit mentioning their name and age in an article about the crime or accident, if a reliable secondary source mentions them in that connection. If there is any doubt about this issue, it should be clarified via an RfC here, and it has to be generic, about WP:MEMORIAL in general, as it applies to any crime or accident article, and in fact any article. Crum375 (talk) 21:06, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

If there is a difference between a crime and an accident in this respect, I don't see it which is the main problem and why you keep having circular arguments here and at the RFC. I have nothing more to add editors have made their point here and at the RFC the fact you interpret the guidelines different is going to take a long time to resolve if you cant see how others interpret the situation. And nothing to do with this talk page but plenty of other reasons have been mentioned why a list of non-notable accident victims is not notable to an accident even if carried in the news media. I will leave it to others to explain as I need time to work out under your scheme for example how we can draft a list of the 382,000 British victims of the second world war, nearly all of them mentioned in the media and on websites. MilborneOne (talk) 21:21, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
Do you have a single secondary source listing all 382,000 British victims of the second world war, in relation to that war? If you need to research it bit by bit and build it up piecemeal, you'll never get them all, and it will be WP:OR to create a partial list. If you do find a long complete list for some large crime or accident (e.g. World Trade Center), because of the sheer size you'd need to create a separate article for it, or perhaps keep it on wikisource. In the more typical cases, where we have just a few names, or a few dozens, it can fit in a collapsible section in the main article, or be spelled out if it's very short. But the point is not how to do it, but the basic principle: if we have a reliable secondary source telling us fact X about notable article subject Y, fact X does not have to be so notable as to merit its own dedicated article. It's enough that we have the source telling us X is related to the article subject Y, and it's up to article Y's editors to decide what information to include, and how to present it, based on their perception of what's interesting (along with WP:NPOV, WP:V, and WP:NOR compliance). If this is not clear, we should start an RfC here to clarify this very generic point. Crum375 (talk) 22:16, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

clarification on 'not a democracy'

Clearly wikipedia is not a political system, but equally clearly wikipedia has a political system (we have policies, rules of conduct, systems for problem solving and enforcement, etc). That's just a no-brainer: even anarchy is a political system, after all. is this worth clarifying? --Ludwigs2 23:42, 3 August 2010 (UTC)

It's moreso the fact that WP does not use voting or majority rules as would be from a democracy. Consensus, build on policy and guidelines, is what we implement. --MASEM (t) 23:52, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
well (quibble-quibble) democracies are not defined by voting - voting is actually more consistent with republican systems than democracies. plus we don't have a section that says "Wikipedia is not a Fascist dictatorship", though the bald statement that wikipedia is not a democracy might tend to lead people to such a conclusion. Probably want to go straight to the point and rephrase it as "Wikipedia is not run by majority rule". --Ludwigs2 23:58, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
The other aspect to consider is that we do have elections per a democracy, but those elections are not meant to influence content or consensus; no person is more elite than any other person in any case. Yea, a republic may be closer, but the point of the word "democrary" is that we have voting systems but they have no direct impact on WP's growth. --MASEM (t) 00:05, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
These phrases exist mostly to protect from wikilawyering from people expecting WP to behave like an actual government. We appear at first glance to have voting and elections but we really don't, that's just a structured way of handling discussions of consensus, and the side with more votes by headcount doesn't always win as it would in a real election. We appear to have rules but we really don't (WP:IAR). And so on. People shouldn't come to wikipedia (or indeed any website) with the expectation that it's going to work like a democracy, anarchy, communism, or anything bearing more than a passing resemblance to any real-world political system. Websites don't work like countries, for reasons that, I would hope, are obvious enough that they needn't be detailed here. Andrew Lenahan - Starblind 15:52, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
yes, I understand the principles involved, I just don't think the language is particularly apropos. If we mean X (that wikipedia is a consensus-based system - which is in fact a form of democratic governance - not a voting system) then we should say X. We shouldn't say Y because it's a catchier phrase, and hope that people make the right associations to X. --Ludwigs2 16:28, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
But Wikipedia really isn't a democracy of any stripe. Don't forget that the people truly in power, Jimbo and Wikimedia staff, can and sometimes do override consensus on the site. Users can debate and confer all they want, but ultimately the real decision-making is done by people who aren't elected or in office by consensus of the community. This is as it should be--I've never known a website of any sort which was a genuine democracy, and any attempts at such would likely be wildly impractical. We say 'not a democracy' because it's not a democracy, and it would be unfair and even deceptive to pretend that it is a democracy, or it's kinda/sorta a democracy. It's not. Andrew Lenahan - Starblind 18:13, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
You see, this is exactly the problem I have with this issue. The core principles of wikipedia outline that it is a consensus system (which is explicitly a form of democracy, though a bit idealistic for a group this large). Jimbo and the foundation can (and do) step in at need in order to preserve the legal existence of the foundation, but they do not otherwise (again, explicitly) use their authoritative power to decide community issues. what we have, consequently, is an unspecified set of political interactions, leaving some editors to interpret wikipedia as an anarchic system, some as a consensus system, some as an authoritative system based on different authoritative criteria. That's not so bad (it could be much better, but anarchy is relatively effective for the task of building the encyclopedia where it is sufficiently congenial, though it fails miserably in problem resolution areas), but it would be less confusing if we didn't actually make misleading political claims of this sort, which then get picked up in conflicts and used in odd and disturbing ways. --Ludwigs2 18:34, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
Magic Jimbo-power has been used before in things not relating to legal issues though, and I can think of at least one example where the community was prohibited from debating a particular issue for a year (a good choice, IMHO, that probably saved infinite drama). I'm sure there have been other similar actions over the years too. It's true that consensus-building does go on, just as it does in any system. Even in an absolute monarchy, there's nothing stopping a person from asking his neighbours what colour he should paint his house and going with whatever colour gets the most votes, but if the king disliked it it would still have to be repainted regardless. That's essentially how Wikipedia works. The bottom line is that "Wikipedia is not a democracy" is and always has been a true statement, and makes a convenient point with which to inform people of that fact. Andrew Lenahan - Starblind 19:51, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
Section headings are not, and should not try to be, complete nutshells. Perhaps we need a whole new section like this:
Wikipedia is not for people who only read headlines
Someone who is reading an encyclopedia is digging for more information than can be gleaned by scanning headlines, and someone who volunteers to contribute to Wikipedia is expected to recognize that Wikipedia's policies and guidelines are not to be interpreted by looking only at titles and section headings.
If a heading prevents you from understanding or applying a Wikipedia policy or guideline, ignore it.
I jest about adding a section, because I believe that literate people already understand this. I think the catchphrases are useful, and I think the purport of this section of the rule is clear enough, even if one only reads the leading one or two sentences of each of the subsections in question, and does not really need further clarification. ~ Ningauble (talk) 20:15, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
Hey, that's a great idea, and I would be happy to see it included! But the reason I'm commenting is to agree with Andrew Lenahan's analysis above. As an example, suppose some legal authority (or an illegal one, that's irrelevant) were to demand something of Wikipedia, and suppose the community bravely !voted to defy the demand. Ultimately, the community's opinion on actually important matters is irrelevant (other than when, as per the house painting example above, we are asked for an opinion), and the people who actually control the site (who would face legal action from a legal demand, or illegal action from other sources) would have to decide the outcome. Johnuniq (talk) 05:03, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
If a legal challenge to WP came down, it is not going to be decided by the community regardless of the community whims - the community may not even heard about it. It will be the Foundation that has to answer and reflect that change into policy. Exact case in point: The FBI attempted to get the image of its seal removed from Wikipedia; that all went through the Foundation and its lawyer Mike Godwin and I don't believe any common editor on WP heard about it until the news broke about it. [3]. So yes, one can argue the Foundation has ultimate control, but they enforce it only to maintain the project's legal livelihood, and never step into day-to-day business. So it's still not a democracy or whatever other government structure you want to image. --MASEM (t) 13:52, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

Mentioning WP:IAR in "When you wonder what to do"

There will be situations where this page wont give the editor a definite answer, and if their edit is in the interests of improving Wikipedia then surely WP:IAR applies?--Topperfalkon (talk) 13:30, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

IMHO that's encouraging it a bit too much. Kayau Voting IS evil 06:36, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
IAR applies only when every reasonable editor would agree that it is improving the encyclopedia. You can include or exclude anything and try to justify it by IAR, but you will only succeed if the community agrees with you. One valid use is when something arises for which the rules do not provide; another valid use is when it is clear to us all that we ought to make an exception to them. DGG ( talk ) 09:28, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
I've always considered !vote discussions to be another use of IAR. "Sure this does/doesn't meet WP:N, however this person's work is so trivial/important that we shouldn't/must have an article." That type of !vote doesn't carry a lot of weight, but if 75% of the world agrees with you, it might carry the day... Hobit (talk) 13:02, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

Does Wikipedia belong to any country or nation?

Wikipedia is the free encyclopedia, and it means that it not belongs to any country or nation at all. But this principal proposition is not stated in this policy. I think this thesis is necessary to protect Wikipedia. Wertuose (talk) 22:41, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

Any reason why you think this is so? It is my belief that Wikipedia belongs to the Wikimedia Foundation and operates under Florida state laws. I42 (talk) 22:47, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
IMHO, that is because its servers are located there; a worldwide organisation can have HQs in one place, but that doesn't make it non-international. Kayau Voting IS evil 03:04, 7 August 2010 (UTC)
The contents of Wikipedia belong to the individual editors who have contributed the contents. They have each granted a free license under CC 3.0 for anyone to use and modify the contents on any manner for any purpose, as long as they are credited, but they nonetheless own the material they wrote. What the Wikimedia Foundation owns are the servers, snd the trademark.The part with is of the real value is the trademark, the right to label something Wikipedia. DGG ( talk ) 05:13, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
I think you don't understand this guy. He wants to say that in some wikis editors and admins think that, for example if albanian Wikipedia is for albanians then editors must express viewpoint of Albania. (talk) 20:21, 19 August 2010 (UTC)

Not a business profile...?

I have frequently heard people saying things along the lines of "My business needs to get a Wikipedia." Or, as was the case of this user: "People keep asking me why I am not on Wikipedia.... How do I get on Wikipedia?. I've also seen stuff like, "Please could you help me find an editor to help edit my manuscript and handle my publishing deals?" (here). So I'm proposing two more WP:NOT guidelines: 1. Wikipedia is not a business profile site (Maybe that would go under the heading of WP:PROMOTION or WP:NOTDIR?), and 2. Wikipedia is not Craigslist. (Maybe that would go under WP:NOTDIR?) --- cymru lass (hit me up)(background check) 22:06, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

I think these cases are covered under Soapbox - both "not self-promotion" and "not advertising". --MASEM (t) 22:08, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
Okie doke. --- cymru lass (hit me up)(background check) 22:36, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

The trick here is notability of a business. There are many businesses that haven't had articles written about them which would fit notability guidelines, but a whole bunch more that don't. Bob's Used Cars in Podunk, Nebraska isn't really a notable business and shouldn't expect to get a Wikipedia entry... unless there is something notable about this place and reliable sources to verify that notability. The sort spot comes when a business sees that their "competitor" has a Wikipedia entry... and for whatever reason it happened that the entry for their business has been deleted. Yes, you can point out things like having a neutral point of view and working on keeping the language of the article toned down in terms of self-promotion (something very hard to do if you are used to writing promotional advertising). All that business sees is that their competitor is getting a higher Google rank due to the Wikipedia article and they want a piece of that action too.

Articles about businesses are on Wikipedia, and I personally don't see a problem with somebody starting a good-faith effort to create a stub of an article they are involved with (and marking it as such). Indeed I've had far too many problems lately where I start writing an article about a business and before I can get the second edit on the article (a minute or two later at that) it has already been proded for deletion due to a lack of sources listed on the article. That kind of hostility to business articles is something that I think is also counter-productive to Wikipedia. While Wikipedia may not be a "Craig's List", it is a site that has... and I've used to find more information about a business or organization that I may want to become more involved with. In this regard, Wikipedia is a business profile site with the note that the information on those business profiles are only for notable organizations that fit NPOV standards and will contain both positive and negative information about that organization. It will also exist on Wikipedia regardless of if the company or organization wants that information on Wikipedia in the first place or not. --Robert Horning (talk) 01:48, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

I'm also "guilty" of using Wikipedia to find neutral information on businesses, etc. that I might become involved in, but I'm talking about people that have a mindset somewhere between owning an article about their business and advertising their business. It isn't quite at advertising, but they're still angry when anyone tries to town down their POV --- cymru lass (hit me up)(background check) 17:14, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not a forum

Facebook seems to be fully integrated with Wikipeda and it is a forum. Can we declare it to be the official Wikiipedia forum, at least until something better comes along? Would anyone object to links to Facebook pages in articles?

Here is an example on a Facebook page about Nanotechnology -!/pages/Nanotechnology/109438169076102?ref=ts

Why can't this work? (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 04:30, 31 August 2010 (UTC).

WP:NOTFORUM lets people know that we are not here for social interaction. Some of that occurs, but it is incidental. There are lots of other places on the Internet where people can interact and discuss opinions, but those activities are detrimental here because they deflect attention from building the encyclopedia. Remember that we want articles to be based on verifiability and no original research. I am one of several editors who would object to inappropriate links from articles – there would be no benefit to Wikipedia. Johnuniq (talk) 07:12, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
So maybe the average person would be better served by going through Facebook instead of Wikipedia. They get the same information - it's the same database, plus they have the right to discuss whatever they want. (talk) 02:29, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Wikisource and Wikinews primary sources?

"Wikisource and Wikinews do exactly that, and are intended to be primary sources." - unless we're employing journalists in the field, this strikes me as incorrect. Shouldn't it be "Wikisource and Wikinews do exactly that, and are intended to be using primary sources."? Casliber (talk · contribs) 18:41, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

I thought Wikinews was actually people reporting the news themselves? As far as Wikisource goes, an electronic copy of e.g. the book of Genesis is no more an original than that printed in a Tanakh, so differentiating it as a copy of primary sources seems unnecessary. Jclemens (talk) 18:55, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Yup. Wikinews: "In contrast to most projects of the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikinews allows original work under the form of original reporting and interviews."
And more at wikinews:Wikinews:Introduction#What Wikinews articles are: "Wikinews has two main types of article: The most common is the synthesis article.... The other type of articles is original reporting. ..."
HTH. -- Quiddity (talk) 23:59, 31 August 2010 (UTC)


I read the current version of WP:LINKFARM only today, but I don't understand the rationale behind it. Can anyone explain why Index of Korea-related articles is not a linkfarm? Intuitively, I think there is something wrong here. I don't think this list of links can be characterised else other than non-encyclopaedic, because it is a set of barebone links that provides no context to the reader, and no verifiable evidence for inclusion in Wikipedia. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 22:51, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Please note that Gavin is bringing this question over from Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Inclusion criteria for Lists. It may be better to answer the question on that page (possibly pending changes needed here). --MASEM (t) 22:53, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
I am not sure what is the correct venue to discuss this issue. For the time being, I have started a thread at User talk:Quiddity/Navigational pages RfC#Navigational lists to see where this leads. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 12:40, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Indexes: Two of the better examples are List of mathematics articles(updated daily by User:Mathbot) and Index of psychology articles. I'd suggest asking the creators/maintainers, and associated WikiProject participants, why they exist.
From WP:LINKFARM, I'd say "to assist with article organization and navigation" readily applies. Just as we make allowances for disambigs, setindexes, and other disambig-subtypes (surnames, mountains, ships, etc), I believe we also make allowances for Lists of lists, and Indexes. It's not enshrined in our rulebook yet, because it hasn't been exhaustively discussed yet (afaik). As Masem says, that is hopefully being discussed over there (particularly in subsection "Summary 2.1"), and potentially at the RfC in my userspace.
Part of the rationale, that makes Indexes superior to a mere flattened category tree, is WP:REDLINKS.
Part of the rationale, is Theory of multiple intelligences. Different people learn, or search for information, in different ways. People really do use Portal:Contents/A–Z index!
I don't (currently) use indexes frequently (or categories), but I'm in favour of continuing to support the option, for the people that do. You'd have to ask them, for more specific answers.
Also, I'd strongly recommend using good and historic examples, like the two I mentioned, when raising a topic like this. Otherwise the discussion can devolve into arguments over the specific example, rather than focusing on the overall issue. Plus, it's better to have an "end-state" example to analyze, rather than a "stub-state" example. HTH. -- Quiddity (talk) 19:39, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

Maybe you should list it for deletion and see what happens. That may clarify whether the community agrees with you that an index of encyclopedia articles and categories is not encyclopedic, and that whether an article is related to Korea is not verifiable. postdlf (talk) 18:06, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

Making a WP:POINT is not how consensus is formed, and in any case, I am only using it as an example. Perhaps List of mathematics articles is a better example, since there is an ongoing effort to update it daily, which, despite the intervention of bots, seems to me to be a sisyphean task without any rationale (except, perhaps, to amuse the gods), given that the Category: Mathematics is updated instantly and automatically in any case.
I think the question should be "what is a linkfarm, if it is not a page full of links? My theory is that linkfarm describes the "List of mathematics articles" perfectly, because it is sourced entirely from links within Wikipedia. I think this is a classic example of self-referencing linkfarm myself, because a list of links published only in Wikipedia is unlikely to be notable in its own right. My theory is that if it has not been published in the real world, there is no rationale for inclusion within Wikipedia. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 22:35, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm not convinced it should be deleted, so I would be making a WP:POINT if I listed it for deletion just to prove that your standard has no consensus behind it and that the index would survive AFD. You would not be making a WP:POINT if you listed it for deletion because you honestly think it should be deleted. postdlf (talk) 22:40, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
A proper navigation list serves the same purpose as a table of contents or index in a printed book. If you don't know exactly what topic you are looking for , searching through those will often lead you to narrow down your search , possibly pinpointing the exact data you need to know and on what page you can find it. While WP's search feature is advanced, it still is only a word-matching result, and cannot guess at close terms or the like, so it is not a replacement for TOCs and indices. So pages like "List of Mathematics articles" are there for that specific purpose and allow for better organization of the links that categories cannot achieve. Therefore, these articles are far from the envisioned purpose of link farms. --MASEM (t) 22:42, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
My understanding is that WP:CATEGORY not only serves this purpose it is designed to do, but does so without conflicting with content policy. By contrast, mainspace pages are reserved for content, whose pages can link to each other via internal links, but those links are not constrained by process of categorisation and sub-categorisation. It seems to me that a "list of lists" is essentially a category embedded within a mainspace page, thus forgoing the advantages of both categories and lists. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 04:19, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
No, catagories cannot replication the functionality of a good TOC/index. They are not designed for browsing, but instead going right to the information you know you are looking for. Navlists are formmated much more closer to TOC and indices, and since lists and categories covering the same information can co-exist, there is no issue here. --MASEM (t) 04:23, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
They are designed for browsing, although I will concede that a searchable index is a useful tool that seems to be missing from categories, I don't think embedding categories of lists solves that problem. If there is a problem with categories, that should be dealt with, not moved into mainspace and mixed with content. There needs to be firm boundries between the two that can only be crossed when a category is notable and it is worthwhile creating a list to reflect this. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 10:30, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
You've already said the reason why category will never be as good as editor-constructed lists: they are automatically generated. Yes, we can have categories and subcategories, but that can't replace human intuition and ability to organize a set of links into a more obvious list of links. (and of course, categories are good because they automatically organized articles into groupings; this is not to belittle the benefit of categories for other uses). --MASEM (t) 12:47, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Categories must also be verifiable, NPOV, and encyclopedic. No one asks the nonsensical question of whether a category is notable, but it's not a free-for-all. postdlf (talk) 14:32, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

This is true, categories are scrutinized, which is a good thing. Categories are updated automatically based on the categories which editors add to articles based on human intuition and ability to categorise articles, and come with useful inbuilt taxonomies, which are also good things, I think you will agree. But categorisation should not be done in mainspace lists, because if there is no evidence that a list topic is notable, then its existence in Wikipedia conflicts with WP:WITHIN, i.e. it is a self-referencing topic. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 14:47, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
I have no strong opinion either way on the use of these lists at this time, still considering the benefits and problems ... but, if there are concerns about their conflict with mainspace guidelines/policies - two possible solutions come to mind: either their own namespace (which I do not support), or seeing if there's consensus to instead migrate them into either the Portal or Wikipedia namespaces. --- Barek (talkcontribs) - 14:57, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
I must admit a big problem is indexing. There is no category or Special page that can be used as a searchable index of all articles in a large category, or a combination (cross) category. But the same problem applies to long lists as well. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 15:07, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
I can see the possibility of putting nav lists that are acting like TOC/indices into Portal: space or the like, or otherwise making sure they are treated in the same class of article types as disambiguation pages; they are meant to help guide searching and locating the correct pages when only vague terms are known and a direct search does not easily locate those elements. By necessity they have to include large numbers of internal links, and thus does not invalidate the idea of link farming. --MASEM (t) 15:17, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
The main problem with portalspace is:
Again, see User:Quiddity/Navigational pages RfC for all the previously suggested solutions. One of which, which I'm tentatively supporting, is to "treat them in the same way we do disambig pages". HTH. -- Quiddity (talk) 20:37, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
The stated difficulty in search confuses me. Can you clarify? With the example given, I don't see how a result buried in a long list of Portal namespace results is significantly worse that a result buried in a long list of mainspace results. If you can clarify, I'm sure I'll understand your point on that one better. --- Barek (talk) - 16:07, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
If we moved lists into portalspace, and wanted them to be searchable by default, we'd have to add portalspace to the default site-search. Currently, the search default is just mainspace. There are currently ~85,000 pages in portalspace, most of which nobody would ever want to see in search results (eg Portal:Africa/Header).
There are additional problems, such as all these lists being vastly different from the criteria that Wikipedia:Featured portal criteria gives, but I think the difficulty of search is the main problem. -- Quiddity (talk) 18:31, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
I can see where you are coming from, but think a more rigorous approach needs to be adopted, based on the idea that mainspace is reserved for content, whilst navigation pages should be treated as categories. Disambiguation pages are a grey area, but adding lists to this grey area changes nothing, since content can still be added to them, and because of this, have to be viewd as mainspace pages. I will admit this is an inflexible way of approaching this problem, but is the only way to avoid the mingling of content with categories, which are subject of two distinct sets of policies and guidelines. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 10:23, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
Unfortunately, there will always be a fuzzy line between these pages, and any attempt to separate them is going to create false positive on both sides; furthermore, WP's transient nature means pages would be moving back and forth all the time across this line. An additional reason is that we do want these pages searchable from the quick search bar; a disamb page may help a reader identify a non-notable song by a notable artist that otherwise is a common term elsewhere; a navlist page may catch a search for a specific type of information in a field that starting at the "field" article would be verify difficult to follow downward to find. For all practicality, it is a problem that doesn't really need a solution outside of this linkfarm issue (identify when an article can have lots and lots of internal links) and based on current trends, I don't see anyone reading these as a problem beyond yourself. --MASEM (t) 12:52, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't see the benefit in having fuzzy lines between content with categories, for precisely the reason why we are discussing it now - there seems to be a clear breach of content policy by embedding categories in list articles, without the solving the problem that embedded catagories is trying to solve - a lack of indexing facility that allows article titles to be "quick searched" from one page. This has nothing to do with "trends", rather it is a problem begging for a solution. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 13:53, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
But the point is that it is a fuzzy line we cannot remove. It is not there by choice, but a fallout of the nature of the design of WP. --MASEM (t) 14:12, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

I'm not sure I agree with "mainspace is reserved for content, whilst navigation pages should be treated as categories". There are navigational templates living in Template: space but seen by readers in article space. Disambiguation pages are navigation-like (which is why I can accept the argument that indexes are disambiguation-like). Categories aren't just for navigation between articles, but also for machine-reading, higher level organization of articles (bear in mind that an index organizes links, while a category actually organizes the articles) and to some extent, "eyeball search" (not just moving between related articles, but as a means of finding an article in the first place). The real value to an index is that it can be far more highly structured than a category, and does not need to be ordered alphabetically but can be done e.g. thematically and divided into sections; it escapes the flaw of the "200 viewable article limit" but that's probably a secondary concern (an index containing hundreds of articles may be hard to use and probably should be broken up). My personal preference - though not a strong one, and based entirely on the supposition that an index or outline may be far more complex than a disambiguation page - would be to use Portal: space if possible (bearing in mind search problems), perhaps as subpages or sections (collapsed by default?) of the topical portal page. An alternative would be an Index: space. That's not unreasonable, since an index does serve a distinct function and indexes and outlines are a feature found in conventional encyclopedias. Also, including the Index: namespace in searches seems more likely to bring good results than including Portal: since portals contain fragments of articles. (Other projects seem to have been more radical about new namespaces. Wiktionary has now added Thesaurus:, Appendix: and Concordance:, while the French Wikipedia has namespaces for reference material.)

Some historic context may help: 5-6 years ago, before the "category" feature, but after exponential growth, there were loads of primarily navigational lists to keep track of the sudden bulk of articles, and then lists of lists to navigate between them! (This in turn was a big improvement on using nested subarticles to organize information - "/"s in pagenames to break general topics down to specific articles.) Most of this infrastructure was deleted as redundant when categories were instituted; I felt this was a shame as it contained structured navigational information, and wasn't surprised when a similar idea emerged for navigational "portals". The math crowd fought hard to preserve their (unusually well-developed) article index system - I don't think they liked categories and they didn't implement quite the same categorization schema as the rest of the site for some time! There has been a rebirth of "outlines of knowledge" and "index" articles in the past year or two, and our treatment of them doesn't seem standardized - similar material previously made up a substantial proportion of mainspace, but in my opinion many of the new "outlines of knowledge" and "index" articles are actually far better than the old equivalents. Had their forebears been as good 5 years ago, I suspect more would have survived alongside the math index. But even the math one has been controversial over the years - I seem to recall some editors arguing for deletion while part of it was up for FLC! This is not a new debate, but rather an old one stoked up again. In terms of WP:NOT, I can't see why developing a suitable index and navigation system is "unencyclopedic" - it's a natural aspect of any encyclopedia. There is also no harm developing more than one navigation system; in wilder flights of fancy, we might someday develop a Micropedia: as another way. Citizendium is pretty close to that with its articles all possessing a short paragraph definition field that is used to automatically fill in disambiguation pages, and they have a much richer kind of "Related Articles" subpage - also utilizing the definitions - that's more informative than our "See also" sections and massively superior to a bloated navbox. I am open to treating indexes here like disambiguation pages, like special kinds or subpages of portals, or in their own space, but most of all I urge anyone discussing this to be prepared to see things in historical context (and context in terms of what other publications do, not just our current ruleset), bear the readers' needs in mind, and think radically! A focus on WP:NOT may be misplaced; an index or navigation system isn't meant to be "part of" the encyclopedia. A rule primarily related to what content the encyclopedia should contain, isn't there to demolish navigation systems around it. But it might affect namespace considerations. TheGrappler (talk) 05:44, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

That is all well and good, but does not solve the problem that Masem has cleverly highlighted: there is no searchable index that to be had anywhere, in any form, so it seems that historic development of navigational lists has failed to achieve its key objective. The bottom line is that linkfarms don't really work, particularly if they run into more than one page. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 08:19, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Let's not be calling navlist "linkfarms" yet. But the important part of navlists is that they organize material in a manner created by humans for humans to easily find information based on broad, vague understand that I don't believe any semantic/lexical-based AI has been able to reproduce for a search engine. They are complimentary to the current search engine and auto sort tools like categories. --MASEM (t) 12:58, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
That is just it, they organize material in a manner that makes it difficult to find information. For instance, you can't run a quick search List of mathematics articles because it is organised into 30 or so pages. If you had to run a search for the term "set", you would have to search each of the 27 pages individually. It just does not work as an index page. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 19:51, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
All of the articles that are split into alphabetical (or chronological) subpages have this problem. Many of them have frequent "merge" proposals. (E.g. Timeline of World War II, Library of Congress Classification, List of philosophers, etc) Also, some of the very large lists try to avoid being split up, to avoid this problem (e.g. the bursting at seams List of academic disciplines).
The practical size-limit for pages, is one of the areas where the "ideal" state has to be tempered by pragmatic decisions. – If everyone on the internet had fast machines and connections, we could more readily send people with a question about Wikipedia to the (warning, Huge page) WP:Editor's index to Wikipedia...
The Index of psychology articles is a slightly more "ideal example". But also WP:NOTDONE, and all that jazz. -- Quiddity (talk) 20:42, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Using those pages to find "set" is absolutely the wrong resource. You'd use "set" which drops you to the disambig page for that word, and right at the topic there are three possible choices, depending on what aspect of "set" you are looking for. No, the navpages of interest are when you say "Ok, I know there's a type of equation that can be solved to track the change in time but I have no idea what it is" (the answer is a differential equation but assume you don't know that) Searching WP for equation track changes in time gives no usable results. But now I know it is a mathematical aspect so reading through List of mathematics topics immediately lands me Calculus and Differential Equations. That's because humans understands how humans think. We can only use computers to approximate how humans think, and that's great for the default search and for categories, but not for synonyms, antonyms, and other basic problems of a complex language systems. This is the need for such navlists. --MASEM (t) 20:46, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
But you concede that 27 pages can't be searched or displayed as a single index page, nor can you tell what category each topic is in. This the facility that is missing. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 09:51, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
Absolutely not. The lists are separated by necessity due to shear volume of topics within Mathematics. And particularly in mathemtics, a topic can exist in many different disiplines. They are lists created by humans for use by humans, not for computer-based searching. --MASEM (t) 13:14, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
I understand now why WP:LINKFARM is a completely useless piece of policy, because it contains a "get out of jail for free clause". On the one hand it prohibits the creation of linkfarms, but on the other it allows them because they serve a "useful purpose". A good analogy here would be that we have a prohibition against link spam, but at the same time allow like spam if it is "useful". I myself see an inherent conflict between writing encyclopaedic articles that impart knowledge and context on the reader, and the creation of barebone lists of stuff that do neither. I think we to be honest and admit linkfarms are never encyclopaedic, and just because they are occasionally "useful", that does not mean they don't fail Wikipedia's content policy and inclusion guidelines. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 21:21, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
So, to summarize, WP:IDONTLIKEIT? Because certainly the use of navlists with large numbers of links is supported by the policy and actively used across WP without anyone else poking and prodding the issue. --MASEM (t) 21:31, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Your not acknowledging the key issue here: linkfarms don't contain encyclopaedic content, that is why they were originally prohibited in WP:NOT. They are acting as a proxy for a searchable index facility, I will acknowledge, but as you have identified, they don't do that job particularly well. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 23:17, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Linkfarms as per NOT are not welcome. The problem is is that you are immediately defining navlists as linkfarms, even though NOT explicitly calls them out as a different type of entity. That's a bad faith assumption that these lists have no value to WP. And I strongly disagree they don't do their job well. They do their job perfectly fine from the standpoint that they are meant to be "searched" by human eyes and mind to find the topic, and not by computer searches. --MASEM (t) 23:35, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Anyone still have a full-size printed encyclopaedia? I struggle to believe that they didn't contain in places lists of articles contained therein pertaining to arbitrary topic-areas, separate to the index. I might be wrong. ‒ Jaymax✍ 02:21, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

Pointless Lists

This is a bit of a thought experiment, because I think there might be something missing from NOT. (it's related to WP:INDISCRIMINATE and WP:DIRECTORY and several other places). If a Topic X is notable, consensus [acknowledging that there are dissenters] seems to be that a List of instances of X would also be notable. But taking the argument to the absurd, that could mean an article listing every Headstone (edit+) found in some RS in the world would pass muster (lets assume with a description and photo for each) UNLESS there was something to over-ride WP:N in WP:NOT - and currently I don't think there is. I think this relates closely to the debate above re Linkfarm, and that the focus on linking may be overstated. There needs to be something stating that lists should be discriminate - such as of 'notable' or 'significant' instances (allowing that there are cases where EVERY potential member is significant).

A lot of this is covered at Wikipedia:Stand-alone lists#Lead and selection criteria but I think there needs to be something short here to justify some of the stuff there. (And also that some of the stuff there is problematic, but that debate continues elsewhere). Can we (please) keep the issue in this section to whether there is a need to add to WP:INDISCRIMINATE a list related item that says Wikipedia is not a place for editors to indiscriminately assemble a listing of all the instances of anything, and if so, how should it be said.

(That's a lot of text for what is actually a fairly minor matter) ‒ Jaymax✍ 03:03, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

I want to extend this to consider the potential VOLATILITY of lists - a list built upon a property of an instance that is unstable can't be good for us, and I think that probably also falls under the heading of 'indiscriminate' ‒ Jaymax✍ 03:59, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

WP:NOT#DIR already prohibits lists for lists sake, so whether a list is deemed to be discriminate or indiscrimate makes no difference to the fact that lists without notability are prohibited. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 05:42, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
Please quote the relevant bit. Also, WP:N is about topics, WP:NOT is broader than that. ‒ Jaymax✍ 05:51, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
Actually a tweak to item 4 and item 7 on that entry might do the trick. ‒ Jaymax✍ 05:54, 3 September 2010 (UTC)


I believe the NOT#STATS should be deleted as it is just a way of saying "I don't find this list useful" with a bluelink to an apparent policy. Why is the list of presidential pollings not indiscriminate stats, but this is? I think it should either be re-worded to make clear that wikipedia does indeed accept stats-pages (but we have to like them) or deleted. Sandman888 (talk) 11:52, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

I suspect the same is true about all sections on this page. I would de-policify the whole page in fact - it's useful as somewhere to point newcomers too, but it doesn't state our policy about anything - having the "policy" tag there just encourages people to abuse it by linking to WP:NOT as a substitute for providing actual arguments.--Kotniski (talk) 12:05, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
As you correctly point out, what gets deleted is nearly entirely random, and NOT#STATS and NOT#DIRECTORY only encourage these random deletions. Yes, NOT#STATS should go, but it shouldn't be the only one removed from this policy page. Firsfron of Ronchester 17:22, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
While I agree that enforcement is too slipshod, I think more consistent enforcement is a much better alternative than just to say "Well, maybe we SHOULD be a directory of random statistics." Realistically, enforcement of most of our policies and guidelines is pretty uneven in a lot of areas. Seraphimblade Talk to me 18:37, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
What mechanism would you propose to better "enforce" NOT#STATS? The current system only results in some articles being kept, with other very similar articles being deleted, completely at random. If the argument is "well, this is only meant to be a common-sense guideline", then it should be marked as a guideline, and should not be on a policy page. If NOT#STATS is to be kept, a concrete definition of what a "random statistic" should be written, one with specific numbers; "that seems random to me" is a terribly inconsistent way to judge whether an article is fit for inclusion, and the people !voting in deletion discussions often do not know anything about the subject, resulting in extremely uneven results. No, WP:V is a fairly concrete policy, obviously open to some interpretation; NOT#STATS as currently written is a milquetoast "policy" which is entirely useless as anything except a way to create arguments. It makes sense to remove NOT#STATS and come up with something usable. For example, something along the lines of: "a list article with fewer than four references from a web source, or two references from a book or journal is deemed undersourced, possibly a random amalgamation of unrelated statistics, and fair game for deletion". This sort of defined line would also reinforce Wikipedia's policies on verifiability. Firsfron of Ronchester 19:49, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

I think a lot of people look at the shortcuts (like WP:NOT#STATS or WP:NOT#DIR) and presume that "WP is not a bunch of statistics" or "WP is not a directory". That's not true; NOT calls out "excessive" statistics, and "directories" in association with program guides or the like. Exactly where the line is drawn is of course likely impossible to actually write down, but that's why consensus is used to judge which side of the line we should be on. Much of NOT is difficult to "enforce" as rules, but only as evaluation of content and quality of coverage. --MASEM (t) 19:19, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Notability is where the line is drawn. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 23:57, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
Notability is a guideline, not a policy. So not, it's not the line; the line is "what consensus wants". --MASEM (t) 00:19, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
That is also a good reason for deleting the shortcut NOT#STATS as the name "Not Stats" could to the average reader imply that wikipedia is NOT a collection of STATS. Therefore delete the shortcut WP:NOTSTATS and make the new WP:NOTEXCESSIVESTATS. That way voters in AfDs should make it clear why the stats are "excessive". (I don't think that is needed either, but at least we can agree on the former). Sandman888 (talk) 08:03, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
So let's make notability a policy already. It's well past time. Seraphimblade Talk to me 08:18, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
Yes you could open a RfC on WP:N and I'd happily support that, but I do not want to make this about WP:N as that is another guideline, and the RfC might fail, where this seem to have large support. Sandman888 (talk) 08:31, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
First, making notability policy has been tried twice in the past three years, failed both times; any person that spends a reasonable amount of time in Wikipedia: space should be aware that it is very unlikely that will change either in the immediate future. (As long as we still have inclusionists vs deletionists...)
As for removing the shortcut, that's not really going to work, because more than likely someone will remake the shortcut because, well, its a "shortcut". What really is needed is to make sure when people !vote "NOT#STATS" at AFD or the like without further explanation, or even with explanation but treating NOT#STATS to emcompass all stats, to point out this is not what NOT#STATS actually says. --MASEM (t) 13:15, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
What is excessive is completely subjective, we really ought to delete that paragraph. Then people would have to use proper arguments instead of bluelinking. Sandman888 (talk) 08:27, 9 September 2010 (UTC)
I agree that, as written, the text is completely subjective, and should be removed. Firsfron of Ronchester 16:41, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
Everything on Wikipedia policies is subjective; that is why we have xFD to discuss and come to consensus when things are considered "excessive". There is probably some language based on the type of stat data that is kept verses those that aren't to clean this up a bit, but that doesn't call for its removal when it is a common practice still. --MASEM (t) 17:07, 12 September 2010 (UTC)


Right now, we have NOTNEWS stating:

Wikipedia considers the enduring notability of persons and events. While news coverage can be useful source material for encyclopedic topics, most newsworthy events do not qualify for inclusion. For example, routine news reporting on things like announcements, sports, or celebrities is not a sufficient basis for inclusion in the encyclopedia. While including information on recent developments is sometimes appropriate, breaking news should not be emphasized or otherwise treated differently from other information. Timely news subjects not suitable for Wikipedia may be suitable for our sister project Wikinews. See also: Wikipedia:Notability (events)

NOTNEWS is frequently cited in deletion discussions in which some users, perhaps without actually reading the policy, vigourously state that an article fails NOTNEWS simply because it is ¨news¨. We need to strengthen the diction of this policy so that even a cursory glance gives the clear impression that a notable news story covered by several independent reliable sources usually should not be subjected to a deletion discussion. (If the people involved are not individually notable, their names should simply redirect to the article.) It gives a bad impression of Wikipedia when an internet user specifically comes here to read an article about a newsworthy event and sees a big deletion tag at the top of the page. Heroeswithmetaphors (talk) 21:37, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

But that is policy. We aren't news. If it's not an event with notability, we shouldn't have an article on it yet. We do have Wikinews to handle that type of information. It may be subjective when an event moves from being news to being notable, and that's what Notability (events) attempts to describe. --MASEM (t) 21:45, 10 September 2010 (UTC)
And more specifically, you seem to be talking about 2010 San Bruno fire. This is exactly the type of article NOTNEWS is targeted at. We have no idea of the lasting notability or impact of the explosion. If this launched a huge investigation of a gas lines, or radically affected San Bruno, then it may be worthwhile, but at this point in time, it is an unfortunate explosion, nothing more. --MASEM (t) 21:50, 10 September 2010 (UTC)
Wot, like the Buncefield fire was "an unfortunate explosion, nothing more"? Fences&Windows 23:08, 10 September 2010 (UTC)
From an encyclopedic standpoint, yes, at this time it is a news story, not an encyclopedic event. If there is the same type of post-event response that the Buncefield fire had, maybe a wikipedia article makes sense. --MASEM (t) 23:20, 10 September 2010 (UTC)
So should this have been deleted? Fences&Windows 23:31, 10 September 2010 (UTC)
I would argue that it shouldn't have been created, but that version 2 days out from the event, now created, should not be rushed to deletion until a better assessment of the notability of the event could be determined. If after a week nothing else came along, I would argue merge/deletion, but obviously grew from that. The point is, though as I've said below, is that we should discourage the rush to create articles on recent events (that's a matter of editor education), but need to take good faith once created before rushing to delete them. --MASEM (t) 23:39, 10 September 2010 (UTC)
But Masem, if it is dealt with in detail by multiple independent sources, it is notable. That's the problem--you can't say N applies, because the GNG is clearly met, thus it takes some additional sleight of hand to say NOTNEWS, and as far as I can see pretty much ends up in a circular argument. Jclemens (talk) 23:23, 10 September 2010 (UTC)
No, see WP:EVENT. Not everything that meets the WP:GNG is notable, because of other considerations, such as WP:NOTNEWS. WP:EVENT was an attempt to reconcile the two. Fences&Windows 23:27, 10 September 2010 (UTC)
I think you've got it backwards--It is notable, but not suitable for inclusion, per NOT#NEWS. If you want to keep things out of Wikipedia that have multiple reliable sources, it has to be phrased as an exception, rather than a failure to meet an inclusion criterion. "Notable" for Wikipedia purposes means "meets the GNG or an SNG", and the things we're all discussing meet the GNG, so saying "NOTNEWS says it's not notable despite all the coverage" isn't a straightforward interpretation. Thus, NOTNEWS, like the rest of NOT, is about keeping things out of Wikipedia which would otherwise be at least nominally suitable for inclusion. I think it's an important distinction, and not just semantics. Jclemens (talk) 01:29, 11 September 2010 (UTC)
I think this mania for rapidly trying to delete articles about events that are nominating the headlines is very damaging - it wastes time and effort, causes bad feeling, and makes Wikipedia look ridiculous to our readers, who do indeed wish to read a well-sourced and neutral account. WP:EVENT was an attempt to moderate this dispute, and it advises against rapid nominations, but it is mostly ignored. A similar event turned out to be highly notable, and this is a fair guide to how this will be received (WP:OTHER be damned). If post-event analysis is absent, then consider merging it (why do deletionists never think of merging?). No purpose is served by a rush to deletion. Fences&Windows 23:27, 10 September 2010 (UTC)
I agree that in general if these articles get created, they shouldn't be rushed off to deletion until we've a good idea if the event reached notability or not. But at the same time, we need to discourage the automatic creation of such articles until notability's been shown. We should encourage those that want to write about current events to use Wikinews and then bring content over (which we are free to do) when the event passes notability standards. --MASEM (t) 23:29, 10 September 2010 (UTC)
(EC) To clarify what may be the misunderstanding here, passing notability is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a standalone article. Articles which fail notability are removed, but articles which pass it must also pass all other content policies to be retained. We do not cover all subjects which pass the GNG, that is but one of many requirements. NOT is another. Seraphimblade Talk to me 01:34, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

Idea: "breaking event" tag

Brainstorm: What about an article tag that says, right across the top, something to the effect of "This article depicts a currently evolving news story. Once the coverage of this event slows or after 30 days, a discussion on whether or how this event should be permanently and encyclopedically recorded will be started". Idea being, it gives a new article an automatic grace period, as well as fair warning that after that grace period, it might well be merged or deleted. Thoughts? Jclemens (talk) 01:33, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

That's kind of backwards. The article should only be created after it is already demonstrated that it passes the content policies, not created and then checked if it meets them. Seraphimblade Talk to me 01:36, 11 September 2010 (UTC)
But as long as we let anyone create articles, articles on news events will be created, all hand wringing idealism notwithstanding. The conversation above indicates immediate AfDs are viewed as frustrating even by those who firmly believe such content should be excluded, so given that reality, why not try something different? Jclemens (talk) 01:38, 11 September 2010 (UTC)
I don't think the idea that "articles should conform to our content policies" is "hand-wringing idealism". Frustrating or not, we have deletion processes for a reason, and that's the reason—articles that don't conform to them. Now a "transwiki to Wikinews" concept, that I could go for. Seraphimblade Talk to me 01:40, 11 September 2010 (UTC)
The problem with THAT is people will continue to create articles in WikiPEDIA space until and unless we make the transition between Wikipedia and Wikinews seamless, which would itself create other problems. Besides, Wikinews is for people to write the news, not regurgitate what other media outlets have said, at least as I understand it. Jclemens (talk) 01:45, 11 September 2010 (UTC)
Wikinews allows for what's called "synthesis articles", which are articles created from synthesizing several news sources. (It does also allow original reporting.) For the other bit, we could always utilize a soft redirect. Seraphimblade Talk to me 01:55, 11 September 2010 (UTC)
I like the tag idea. The reality is these articles are created and will continue to be created (potentially under different names) over and over again while they are in the news. I think tagging them and reviewing them in 30 days just gives us a better way forward than what we have. Heck, those that want them deleted ASAP can use the tag to find such articles and list them at AfD (the tag clearly wouldn't provide any protection from AfD). I think it's a win all around. Hobit (talk) 02:10, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
30 days is far too long for these articles. I can see a grace period of a week, two at most, from the "occurrence" of the event, to show the event reasonable is notable - note this is not necessary meeting the GNG or being well-sourced, but that it readily apparent the event has passed the point of being just news. Remember, we need to discourage their creation and encourage editors that are interested in current events to start over at Wikinews, moving that over to WP when it clearly is a notable event. There may be rare cases where in 2 weeks its still difficult to determine an event notable, but I thikn it's a exceptional rarity where after 2 weeks we cannot make a judgement on notability either way. --MASEM (t) 02:32, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
That's fine with me. If coverage is continuing after 14, 21 or however many days we pick then I guess we can claim we've met the needs of WP:EVENT. I really suspect folks will want 30 days, but I personally am happy with anything in the 14-40 day range. Let's leave the day count for later discussion though. Is the rest of the idea viable? Hobit (talk) 04:08, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
Second other things. This template should encourage that if the event is not going to be notable to retain the content at Wikinews, and possibly at a larger topic (in addition to finding more sources to show continued notability). For example, this gas line explosion could be mentioned within the city where it happened. The second thing is that this should not prevent bogus or trivial events that would other be fair CSD/PROD game from being exempt from it; this also does not exempt BLP articles from current practice. All this template should be is to hold off a possibly legit article from AFD until better notability can be assessed. The idea is sound as it works the combination of edutation about what NOTNEWS means, while assert some good faith towards improvement. --MASEM (t) 04:30, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
All those are reasonable and sensible qualifications as far as I'm concerned. Jclemens (talk) 04:43, 12 September 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── A few things:

HTH. -- Quiddity (talk) 05:45, 12 September 2010 (UTC)

    • We shouldn't be "instant updates", we're summarizing information. We do have the benefit of being abel to stay up to date, and moreso than other encyclopedias, but just because something happened shouldn't mean we run and fix WP to reflect that particularly if the event is breaking. Case in point, the gas line first that started this discussion, initial reports were attributed to an airplane crash (due to the proximity to SFI) Within a few hours this was dismissed and the gas link part was determined as the cause. While it would have been corrected, we should not be encouraging editors to rush to include "a possible plane crash" should there have been an existing article, but instead wait until all the details were known to write the proper summary.--MASEM (t) 05:56, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
No opinion about the proposal being discussed here, but since you are asking, two more examples: Sue Gardner has said that being impressed of Wikipedia's coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre motivated her to join the Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2007-12-03/Gardner interview). And Google News started linking Wikipedia articles about breaking news a while ago (Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2009-06-29/In the news).
Regards, HaeB (talk) 22:17, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
Fast updates are a good thing. But keeping documents "current" sometimes isn't — for encyclopedic purposes, it's better to have a comprehensive snapshot from one point in time than to have one which has been updated piecemeal to newer dates. Still, I've commented before that WP:NOTNEWS has been very badly abused to ban things - [4] being the newest example. The language should be weakened to make it clear that only things like wedding announcements and obituaries are ruled out. Wnt (talk) 22:35, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
The entire concept of NOTNEWS doesn't really work with respect to our readers, because the distinction between "news source" and "encyclopedia" is irrelevant in the Information Age. We've split the projects into a dictionary, a news site, an encyclopedia, quotes, sources, species... for no good reason at all. The public wants to look at one site and find a compilation of whatever they want, and the first place the English-speaking worlds starts is either Google or Turf'ing things to Wikinews sounds fine in an abstract, idealistic sense, but the reality is people will come here for current events--look at traffic statistics if you want proof--and that people will continue to create articles for current events unless we prevent (not discourage, prevent) them from doing so. That, my friends, is reality, and needs to be dealt with appropriately by any proposal. Jclemens (talk) 00:43, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
The behavior of how readers use WP should be considered, but should not drive our actions. Readers come here for a *lot* of things that there are much better resources for that are not suited for the purpose of an encyclopedia, even one that incorporates elements of other types of works. Even though we can be near-accurate on current events, we're always a third-party compared to major news outlets that actually have reporters at the scene or contacting the critical people, and thus any major news outlet is always better for a reading up on the details of a current event as it is breaking that WP. That doesn't mean that WP cannot summarize the event once we're assured its notable and the details have stabilized out. And no, we can't prevent people from doing much of anything, much less current event articles, but that's why we have things like PROD, and CSD, and the like to deal with such at the admin level. Of course, until we've gotten better education on using Wikinews instead of WP for a current event, or being better to judge a new current event article, a wait and see approach of a week or so makes sense. --MASEM (t) 01:13, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
Heh. Trying to change the behavior of occasional users? Good luck with that. Sorry, but I've worked in computer security far too long to believe that end user behavior can be modified in any meaningful way. Jclemens (talk) 03:56, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
You certainly can't do a complete makeup of occassion visitors' behavior but we can at least influence them in subtle roundabout ways. For example, without spoiler warnings, I think most people know that they shouldn't visit WP if they want info on a film or show they plan to see but don't want to be spoiled about it; in most cases IMDB is always better. Similarly, while we are up to date, we aren't "breaking news", and it is much easier to search Google News for that info. --MASEM (t) 05:18, 13 September 2010 (UTC)

minor restructuring and clean up

I noticed to day that some of the points in this policy are oddly placed - wp:NOTDIR and wp:IINFO, for instance, seems to be a bit mix-and-match. I'm going to restructure a bit, just for increased clarity: please feel free to revert if you feel changes are inappropriate. --Ludwigs2 18:55, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

Request for comment on WP:AFD, WP:EVENT, and the notability of some aircrashes

Does exactly what it says on the tin. See Wikipedia:Notability (fatal hull loss civil aviation accidents) for details. MickMacNee (talk) 16:49, 12 September 2010 (UTC)

Apparent contradiction between WP:NOT#OR and Verifiability and Original Research policies

This page, where it says, "Wikipedia will report about your work once it is published and becomes part of accepted knowledge", appears to contradict Wikipedia:Verifiability, which clearly states:

We ought not to try to determine whether an article is "accepted knowledge" for the purposes of deciding whether it should be included in Wikipedia, because that necessarily involves determining whether it is true. Something can only be knowledge if it's true - that's part of the generally accepted ordinary English meaning of the word knowledge.

I can see a possible reconciliation here, which is to interpret it as meaning "Wikipedia will report on your work if it becomes accepted knowledge - however, it might be reported on by us even if it isn't part of accepted knowledge, as e.g. in the case of string theory, which is not accepted by all relevant experts and indeed has never been proven experimentally". However, I strongly believe that the present wording is apt to be interpreted in a way totally inconsistent with the quotation from WP:V above. So, I move that the policy be tweaked somehow to make it more clear that it does not contradict WP:V.

Additionally, I note that this wording also appears to contradict WP:OR. To say that something is not "accepted knowledge" is not to say that it is necessarily Original Research in the Wikipedia sense of the term - again, see string theory.

Not only could this bad wording contribute to unfortunate requests for deletions [and here I must declare an interest, for one of the articles I created looks like it is about to be proposed for AfD, perhaps on these grounds but I'm not sure], it could even lead to enthusiastic, good potential editors being discouraged from contributing appropriate content to Wikipedia. A negative outcome, I'm sure you'll all agree.--greenrd (talk) 08:49, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Verifiability does not require "truth", per se. We have articles about cold fusion, creationism, Holocaust denial, and all sorts of other things that aren't remotely accepted as true. However, since these things have been covered in reliable sources, we still have articles on them, including that they are widely discredited. On the other hand, if something has little or no reliable source coverage at all, we won't either. There's no contradiction there. Seraphimblade Talk to me 09:05, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I understand that verifiability does not require truth. Thank you for providing support with more examples. My point was that the wording "Wikipedia will report about your work once it is published and becomes part of accepted knowledge" can be theoretically intepreted in two ways - as prescriptive, or descriptive. Prescriptive means "this is how things ought to be done", whereas descriptive means "this is a description of something that can or will happen - but it doesn't exclude other possibilities". If it's interpreted in a prescriptive way - the far more plausible and likely and intended interpretation, in my opinion! - it contradicts WP:V because it uses the word "knowledge", which (to the casual reader, at least) implies truth. A prescriptive reading of that wording would suggest that the Holocaust denial article, for example, should never have been created. Or else, it would suggest to the reader that perhaps their prescriptive reading is a misinterpretation!--greenrd (talk) 09:22, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
The problem stems from the interpretation of accepted knowledge - this could mean, and is probably intended to mean, that the information becomes part of the verifiable knowledge set of humanity; knowledge does not need to be factually correct, in the sense that it is entirely possible to 'know' things which are false. The wording is unclear, and needs to be improved, but I think we can find a much cleaner way to express that than the wording you have suggested, which perpetuates the mis-understanding of what "accepted knowledge" is intended to mean. ‒ Jaymax✍ 10:32, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
I think you're right. I wasn't really proposing that long version as a serious alternative wording - I just wrote it to try and illustrate what I was talking about, albeit in an inelegant way.--greenrd (talk) 11:52, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
The "human knowledge" inherent in something like cold fusion isn't that it really happens. However, the poor science behind it that led some to believe it does is most certainly part of human knowledge, and has been studied extensively. The same is true of creationism—while there isn't a shred of evidence that indicates it's true, a lot of people yet believe it is. The studies of how and why that phenomenon occurs are similarly a legitimate and very real part of human knowledge, even though the concept itself is false. Holocaust denial, same thing. No legitimate researcher really believes that the Holocaust was a fabrication, but the phenomenon of people trying to dress themselves up to look legitimate, and saying it with a straight face, is once again something that's been extensively studied. The fact that it occurs is quite true and part of human knowledge, even though the assertion is false. Seraphimblade Talk to me 18:27, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
I think the piece that helps bridge the apparent gap is outlined at WP:FRINGE. --MASEM (t) 13:17, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
editors can indeed decide whether or not a statement is part of the "accepted knowledge" by looking at how that statement is treated in reliable sources. If the RS accept the statement, so does Wiki. whether or not it will be considered true in another hundred years is irrelevant. Rjensen (talk) 18:06, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Proposed new wording

Since no-one else has made a concrete proposal, and I'm the one who brought this up in the first place, I propose to replace this sentence:

(which reads very poorly anyway, as if someone has changed the first half and neglected to change the second half) with this sentence:

"Wikipedia might (or might not) eventually report on your work once it has been published in a reliable source; however, articles about your work must fulfill the notability criteria, and novel or fringe theories must not be given undue weight, or implied to be uncontroversially accepted by reliable sources or subject-matter experts when that is not the case."

I have tried to phrase this so that it only summarises other policies and guidelines, without adding any new conditions - and without using the word "knowledge", which replies to me above seemed to agree is problematic. Also, I have tried not to be misleading, which I think is important. Is this all we need, or do we want to say more?--greenrd (talk) 19:25, 12 September 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, but I don't find anything wrong with the old wording. The new one invites in the infernal triad of deciding "notability", deciding what is "fringe theory", and assigning "weight" to sections of articles - all of which are often abused to remove useful information from articles. I feel like very time you add a new mention of these, it creates a new way that someone can argue for further removal of information. There's already a pretty harsh WP:COI for those involved in research to deal with. Wnt (talk) 00:13, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
As I said above, I believe that the wording "accepted knowledge" will put people off contributing material about new research which is - in some sense, they may think - not yet "accepted knowledge". I don't believe my summaries of other policies are incorrect or problematic, because they don't introduce anything new. However, I've just noticed that WP:NPOV contains a much simpler formulation: "If you are able to prove something that few or none currently believe, Wikipedia is not the place to première such a proof. Once a proof has been presented and discussed elsewhere, however, it may be referenced. See: Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Verifiability." Again, this is consistent with other policies and does not try to introduce any new restrictions, so I would be happy to just copy and paste this. The use of the phrase "accepted knowledge" in the current policy creates an impression, at least, which is at odds with all our other core policies, as far as I'm aware.--greenrd (talk) 00:25, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
I would interpret "accepted knowledge" as the sum total of all reliable sources (in the broad sense). You could change "accepted knowledge" to "known", or "generally available to scholars", etc., but why not focus on just that one phrase? Wnt (talk) 05:33, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment. I don't mean to be glib here, but this almost doesn't matter at all. No one is going to slip through their fringe theory on the basis that WP:NOT didn't exclude it accurately. The policy which takes precedence will be NOR, V, and implicitly RS. WP:NOT is saying that 'your idea didn't make the cut', and it actually sets the bar for inclusion too high, since accepted knowledge is a much higher standard than notably mentioned in reliable sources. That is the relevant benchmark. If anything, forget accepted knowledge entirely, which is kind of a misnomer and a red-herring as far as WP policies go anyway: to wit, if someone tells me that X is accepted knowledge, I would politely ask them if they have a reliable source for that. Ocaasi 22:43, 18 September 2010 (UTC)
    That's a very good point. On the basis of the comments above I don't think that anyone would object to just replacing "part of accepted knowledge" with "generally available to scholars". (The problem that that sentence reads badly would remain, but that's a minor issue.) Does anyone object? If no-one objects, I'll go ahead and make this change.--greenrd (talk) 09:12, 19 September 2010 (UTC)
    I'm not sure "generally available to scholars" is preferable to "notably mentioned in reliable sources". I think the former is creating a new phrase that hasn't been clarified through policy. How about something like:

Ocaasi 10:06, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

  • I would be very wary of appearing to promise a third party that Wikipedia "will" report anything. I think the wording needs "Wikipedia only..." not "Wikipedia will...". Try this:
Wikipedia only covers theories and research findings that have gained significant coverage in reliable sources. This usually means they have become part of accepted academic knowledge, have obtained significant debate in well reputed sources in the field (such as peer-reviewed journals), or have had significant public debate in well reputed media sources. Wikipedia reports all topics neutrally and with due weight and only covers facts verifiable from reliable sources, not personal opinions of editors.
FT2 (Talk | email) 01:40, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

A bad edit here has led to routine censorship of valid questions on talk pages

I've tracked down an edit to the WP:NOTAFORUM policy to February 24, 2008.[5] It added the text "If you wish to ask a specific question on a topic, Wikipedia has a Reference Desk, and questions should be asked there rather than on talk pages.". This was not discussed in the talk page archive for that time [6] which includes only a mild gripe about "forum-only posters".

As such, I would say that the reversion of this edit in fact represents the status quo, to be preferred unless discussion goes against it.

Furthermore, I am finding this intemperately worded rule to be used harshly to remove perfectly valid questions about a topic from the talk pages of articles. For example, I just ran afoul of an editor [7] who seems to make a routine out of this, deleting things like [8] and [9]. Now asking questions like whether oil affects a hurricane is a perfectly reasonable, even essential aspect of creating a comprehensive encyclopedia article, because the whole idea of comprehensiveness is, in essence, to try to out-think the reader about what topics need to be covered. Factual questions should be especially welcome considering how much... other stuff... fills the talk pages of articles! While the Reference Desk serves an invaluable role, questions that simply point out the need for further information in a specific article belong on the Talk page for that article. The whole reason why people are asking at that article rather than the reference desk is that it is information that can enhance the article.

For these reasons, I propose to partially revert the above edit. I don't want to remove mention of the Reference Desk, but I want to make it clear that at least general questions (as opposed to, say, requests for technical advice) should be posed at the article that they concern.

"Wikipedia also has a Reference Desk where questions can be answered."

Please, let's fix this problem. Wnt (talk) 22:00, 12 September 2010 (UTC)

I like the edit the way it is, but presumably legitimate posters with questions should be directed to the reference desk, not just reverted without assistance. Jclemens (talk) 00:08, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Jclemens. Yahoo Answers and WikiAnswers already exist. Out-of-the-blue questions are more likely to bury productive discussion in WP:OR woolgathering than lead to article improvements, especially if the practice is encouraged. Meanwhile, the editors (and watchers) of an article are not necessarily experts in the article's subject—questions are likely to be answered When you find out for yourself, please add it to this article. edgarde (00:58, 13 September 2010 (UTC)), — (continues after insertion below.)
I would disagree with this - sometimes such questions do lead to useful development - and I'd further say that, whatever else, Wikipedia's reference desk is at least superior to the commercial Yahoo Answers and Wikianswers - not just due to better answers, but because they are free and clear, and link directly to Wikipedia entries. But it's designed for broader-ranging or practical inquiries where many articles could be relevant. Wnt (talk) 05:53, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
If you take issue with the way an editor applies this policy, perhaps an WP:RFC/USER would be the way to go. I don't think the word censorship reasonably describes the editor in your examples though. If you think the oil-hurricane issue should be discussed on Talk:Deepwater Horizon oil spill, you are free to revert it; however, whenever I have seen this sort of reversion done, the resulting conversation was not fruitful. / edg 00:58, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
There's no sense even trying to drag a user before RFC while this sounds like it prohibits any "specific question", rather than the originally intended prohibition of the article's use as "a helpdesk for obtaining instructions or technical assistance". Taken to its extreme, a "specific question" is damn near anything. We have to restore a sensible policy before admins can be expected to make decisions based on it. Wnt (talk) 05:53, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
I also like the edit as it is, and agree with JClemens and Edgarde. Dougweller (talk) 05:47, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
I also favor a strong discouragement of asking questions on article talk pages. I have seen such questions work quite well a couple of times on infrequently edited biology topics, where someone wondered about an interpretation of some point in the article, and they got a good answer. However, in other cases general questions can become a huge distraction. I have not followed the Deepwater Horizon oil spill talk page mentioned above, but it seems very likely that the page would be swamped with general discussion if any encouragement were given to questions. Johnuniq (talk) 00:25, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
There are templates to put on the talk page to let people with questions know who the "main" or knowledgeable editors are of the article in case anyone has a question. I know I have been put on some articles and have had people stop by my talk page asking general questions why something is worded the way it is or if such-and-such is true and should be added to the article. I see that template as very useful as it keeps article talk pages uncluttered while on my own talk page I can always take care of any stupid/useless questions that otherwise might be annoying on talk pages.Camelbinky (talk) 00:31, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
To me, the problem with placing a question on an article talk page isn't one of validity, but one of time. I've responded to questions that have been put on talk pages not by editing those questions out but by responding and sometimes even modifying the article somewhat. If something is a legitimate question and not answered in the article, that is an article content question and not necessarily something just being used as a helpdesk feature. Getting back to the timing issue, I think you would get a much faster response if you use a help desk as some questions I've responded to have taken months for the response.... sometimes up to a year. As a point to raise on more obscure articles, it may be something useful for expanding the article but don't expect an immediate response.
As to if it is a distraction, in some cases that is the only discussion going on for questions of this nature to even be raised. How is that a distraction? Don't get grouchy about it but assume good faith and know that most people who are asking these kind of questions tend to be new users and aren't familiar with Wikipedia in general. Rather than quoting policy, this is an opportunity recruit and grow the project. Deleting the question and bashing the new user as being clueless about policy is not the correct way to handle this situation.
I'll also go further and claim that discussions of the capitalization standards of the article title or editors wikilawyering about some aspect of the article construction isn't the only purpose of a talk page. Yes, the discussion should be focused on the article construction and telling new users that the purpose of the talk pages is to help improve Wikipedia instead of answering general questions, but you don't need to bash their head in when they ask something outside of that. Use it as a opportunity to improve the article as generally it does indicate problems that need to be addressed. Try to tell the difference between an honest but perhaps misplaced question and one that is from an obvious troll. --Robert Horning (talk) 22:46, 14 September 2010 (UTC)