Wikipedia talk:What Wikipedia is not/Archive 41

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Career statistics articles

I recently started doing some cleanup in tennis articles and I found a lot of articles of the type "<player name> career statistics". You can find them linked from this category page: Category:Tennis career statistics.
I wonder how to proceed with them, and I don't want to offend the editors who probably spent considerable time creating these pages.
So my question is: do these pages violate WP:NOTSTATSBOOK ?
I looked at articles of several baseball players, another sports with lots of player stats, and I couldn't even find a stats section in them, much less standalone stats articles.
Would appreciate some input and how to best proceed with these articles. MakeSense64 (talk) 07:55, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

I really like the statistics pages. At first they were on the main pages but have since been moved off on their own and I think it works much better. It does not violate nostatsbook from what I can see. They are not indiscriminate, most are not sprawling, they are neat, and they use tables for the lengthy lists. I think being an individual sport makes things a lot different than other major sports. Heck, for anyone who has won a Major they get to have pages such as 2008 Roger Federer tennis season. That's a lot of players in tennis history that we have to make pages for. Roger has 11 such pages, in addition to his main page and statistic page, with more on the way.... and we have to add those for every player in history who won a Major. It's gonna take awhile and it's why it's tough to take the time to worry about a qualifying draw page amongst all the other things that need to be done. Fyunck(click) (talk) 08:33, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
I think there is a significant difference between 2008 Roger Federer tennis season, an article that has a lot of text with some tables at the end, and pages like Nadia Petrova career statistics, with virtually no text, just 60 kB of stats and tables. MakeSense64 (talk) 09:02, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
There is a big difference, and Roger has a career stat page also. I just find them invaluable for information and I've been told the same by people who work at the LA Times and ESPN. Unknowns who have small main pages have their stats on the same page. Once you become popular and have a lengthy main page it works and looks much better to have a separate stat page. Fyunck(click) (talk) 09:10, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
So you think we should change WP:NOTSTATSBOOK to allow for this kind of stats articles? Because that's of course the question I am asking here: what does WP:NOTSTATSBOOK imply for tennis (and other sports) articles? I see the stats on tennis pages show no sources other than the WTA tour and ATP tour websites from which they have been derived. Maybe we also have to be careful for OR where these articles are reworking the stats into various kinds of derived tables. MakeSense64 (talk) 09:26, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
No, in reading notstatsbook I don't think it's in violation of that guideline per what I wrote in the first answering. As for sourcing that is always something to watch out for. Many have already been sourced on wiki from the individual tournaments pages and simply added to a nice neat table for a particular player. And the ATP and WTA websites are excellent sources for each and every match. They are tough to dig through on the original web pages but are nice and neat (usually) on wikipedia. Fyunck(click) (talk) 09:50, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

I am a fan of having stats in the main article on an athlete because of the prose that covers them. However a page that is only statistics and zero prose is exactly what is meant in NOTSTATS when mentioning that lists of statistics without context should not be used. The prose is the context needed. -DJSasso (talk) 20:00, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

And you're not likely to go to the stat page unless you first read the context on the main page. With the main Federer page at close to 90k and the stat page at 132k it's a nice split. Many readers will be happy with the main page summaries but some will need more detailed facts. If the main space with stats can fit in about 100k by all means we should keep them together. If you feel that each table needs more prose added to it then certainly add more prose. NOTSTATS says: Sprawling lists of stats MAY be confusing. Not all stats are sprawling and not all are confusing. It does not say "lists of statistics without context should not be used", it says "articles should contain sufficient explanatory text to put statistics within the article in their proper context for a general reader". The main article sets that table well in Federer's case but it would be way too large per other wiki guidelines on page length. NOTSTATS also says to "consider using tables to enhance the readability of lengthy data lists" and that has also been done to a large degree to keep them neat and unsprawling. Trying to summarize each tournament in Roger Federers career would be a nightmare, but compiling those stats in orderly tables that can be easily thumbed through is a big advantage to our readers. We've tried to give prose and stats in a nice neat package that can be found nowhere else in an easily read format. We try to weed out things like how many times Roger has broken a racket while playing or his different styles of tennis shoes. We try to give readers what they need when they hear and read things in the news. We've simply split the page in the most reasonable manner to cover readers who need a little less or a little more and it's been done in a style that is much more pleasing to the eye and where the vital information is the easiest to find imho. Fyunck(click) (talk) 21:28, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

in general

How about tables of the key financial data of a company, year by year, from Reliable sources? How about an article titled: "Stock price of General Motors", discussing the major variations in text format? How about a page "Stock price of General Motors, 2009.", giving the day to day hi/low/final and vol. numbers? This seems exactly the same as the detailed sports statistics. How about a table "General Motors vehicle sales by model by year"; with separate charts for each country they sell in? Or to take a field in which I'm actually interested, how about a page " University of California Enrollment and degrees awarded, ", with a year to year table back to the 19th century? Just as with sports, we're providing information that might otherwise be hard to find. (At present, we use for the articles most recent year only). How is any of this any less encyclopedic or less important than detailed sports statistics? I'm not opposing the idea, but if we support doing one, we should do the other. Perhaps NOT DATA wasn't a good idea in the first place: there is no actual separating line between encyclopedic information and statistics. And if difficulty of presentation is the problem, perhaps all of it should go on subpages (we haven't activated subpages in article space, but the capability is there in MediaWiki, DGG ( talk ) 05:13, 10 December 2011 (UTC)
There is a line, but it is a very fuzzy one. Day-by-day performances in whatever field is inappropriate, but yearly summaries aren't. What I think is important is to consider how the larger field in question considers the broad stats. Take a baseball player; it's not the player's batting average, RBI, and the like for a single game that's historically examined (with rare exceptions) but his year-by-year play. Its understanding what is generally considered the usual historical summary of data for a field that we should be mimicking. Yes, you can likely break the data into even more detail but that's not our place to do so. --MASEM (t) 05:27, 10 December 2011 (UTC)
that seems a reasonable distinction. So I assume that my examples "Stock price of General Motors", discussing the major variations in text format, "General Motors vehicle sales by model by year", and " University of California Enrollment and degrees awarded, per year " would in your opinion be viable articles. DGG ( talk ) 23:21, 10 December 2011 (UTC)
But where will this end? We could as well have articles like 2011 for Angela Merkel, and fill it with every meeting she attends, every important person she meets (when and where), and what she said in press conferences. Or 2010 for Lady Gaga, listing every concert she gave, what songs she performed that day, what dress she wore, and what she said in news conference before and afterwards. We would have no problem finding reliable news sources for it. But I don't see that kind of content forks very often, only in sports we have them. Isn't that also giving undue weight to sports?
Articles like 2008 Roger Federer tennis season (and there are 8 more of them), are long lists of day-by-day performances rather than yearly summaries. Articles like Nadia Petrova career statistics have no prose at all, only results and stats. How does this line up with guidelines like WP:NOTSTATSBOOK, WP:NOTNEWSPAPER and WP:IINFO?
The argument pro these articles is that the main article would be too long if we keep all these seasons and stats in.
Is it OK to have statsbook pages as long as we have some prose to go with it?
If exceptions are made for sports persons and articles, then I think it should be clarified better in the guidelines on this page. MakeSense64 (talk) 07:47, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
It is worth noting that the mere fact that many editors think these articles are worth the effort, in contrast to the examples above, suggests that they are a valuable and well-used part of Wikipedia. Stats and records are a big, even essential, part of sports, and add objectivity. Gap9551 (talk) 20:52, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
I think the idea of subpages is a sound one for the kind of topics that generate a lot of numbers, results, stats...
Sports..; stock market, forex and commodity data; lists of corporate financial data from quarterly filings. What about day-by-day weather data and stats for various places ? Or weekly charts and ratings for music and film?
If we have articles containing day-by-day details and results of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, then how do we justify not having similar day-by-day articles about the stock price of Apple Inc., or articles listing the daily weather stats for New York 2011?
Perhaps the NOTDATA guideline has been superceded or needs significant rephrasing. Some topics happen to generate a lot of data. MakeSense64 (talk) 08:24, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
Someone needs to explain to me exactly how subpages work. How different will it actually be when a reader sees a link to a subpage as opposed to a link to a different page? It certainly won't save wiki any space since the subject matter takes up room whether it's a subpage or not. Is it really that different except that the link will go to Roger Federer/Career Stats instead of Roger Federer Career stats? As for other musings those yearly Roger Federer pages aren't day by day as in when he eats and pisses. They are rather match by match details. And if you have a detailed prose weather page about Los Angeles that has gotten to 100k then I don't think there would be anything wrong with having a subpage that has several lengthy charts on monthly rainfall averages, weekly temperature averages, average days over 100, etc...
The other thing to remember is that this is a general guideline and there is no wiki judge that determines right and wrong of implementation. Right and wrong is decided by consensus. I had actually argued against so many yearly tennis pages but I was crushed by consensus. But once consensus was established, as I do with all articles, I follow it fairly rigidly. I argued against the low level of notability (though certainly not as low as Ice Hockey). Again consensus washed me out with the tide. But I'm cool with that because that's how it's supposed to work here. Also each project guideline is considered far more knowledgeable about their subject matter than any general guideline can be. I have no idea about what should be in video game articles but the video game project editors probably do (or they should). So maybe the general guideline is fine but we have to remember that it won't work for everything. Fyunck(click) (talk) 09:09, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
Details about subpages can be found at WP:SUB, but I have to agree that it may not make all that much practical difference in this case. The topic of yearly pages is quite separate from the career statistics pages, anyway. The yearly pages is something I will question on the WP:NSPORTS, where individual seasons articles are covered, but only for team sports.
As far as the career stats articles go, the concensus seems to be that these articles will need prose if they are to be kept as standalone articles. Right now they violate NOTSTATSBOOK, and no exceptions seem to be made for sports. MakeSense64 (talk) 09:42, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
Right now I don't see the consensus that they need prose and I don't see that they violate NOSATATSBOOK. Tennis editors and the Tennis project seem to embrace these pages as needed and quite important. Fyunck(click) (talk) 19:31, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
Yes, but the tennis project cannot act as a walled garden within WP. The guideline page here is supposed to be the current concensus, and as DJSasso pointed out, NOTSTATSBOOK is meant to prevent this kind of articles with only stats and no prose.
I find the same sentiment expressed on WP:NSPORTS, which also pertains to tennis of course. Quoting from the individual seasons section: Team season articles should consist mainly of well-sourced prose, not just statistics and lists of players. Wikipedia is not a stats directory. It is strongly recommended that those articles be redirected to the team page if no sourced prose can be created.
If team articles should consist mainly of well-sourced prose and not just statistics, results and players/opponents lists, then why would it be any different for individual sports articles ? If no sourced prose can be created then we have to merge it back into the main article and redirect.
Tennis editors have forked out the career stats into standalone articles from a convenience standpoint, but without taking into account WP:SUMMARY , which states that we should avoid splits if the new article cannot demonstrate its own notability. So Nadia Petrova is clearly notable, but that doesn't imply her career stats are notable. If we cannot find sourced prose about her career stats, then this is in itself an indication that Nadia Petrova career statistics fails GNG. Correct me if I am wrong.
MakeSense64 (talk) 10:33, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
I look at it another way. Let's say you have a Jimmy Connors article page that is double the article limit with it's stat info and prose. We must break it up. Do we break it up so that we have prose and stats on each page and name each page Jimmy Connors part one and Jimmy Connors part two? Or do we split it with prose on one page and stats on the other? I think it's a no brainer on the second choice. The guideline here is the current consensus on a general guideline, yes, but not on a specific guideline for a specific sport. Walled off? Well lets see. We have hockey which has decided to use it's own rules on handling diacritic names in direct opposition to wikipedia guidelines of using common name. It works for them and keeps a tight ship but it is against policy. We have Tiger Woods whose page is double the size limit of wiki general guidelines. It's way too long to scroll through. Shall we eliminate half the content? We could put half of it in a stats page but wait.... he also already has a stats page with no prose at List of career achievements by Tiger Woods which is right at the size limit. Tennis is hardly a walled garden when it comes to wiki pages. As an individual sport it is very different than team sports. As for Nadia Petrova if you take her stat page and main page together she'd be at 106k which is right at the wiki limit. I would rather the pages be combined and be slightly above the limit all in one nice place. But then again once it reaches 130k it would probably need to be split into prose and stats anyway. Fyunck(click) (talk) 19:47, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── What value do stats pages have over an external link to a site that is a stats book? Thryduulf (talk) 21:35, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

IF the external link is laid out in easy to find stats and records...none. But at least in tennis that is not the case. When I look at most career stats pages on wiki there is nowhere else to find things in a neat and orderly style where at my fingertips I can find what I need. Some of the stats externally are spread out over multiple sites. And if you google to find those particular stats if will come up wikipedia or a page that uses wikipedia as it's reference. There are a lot of writers that rely (rightly or wrongly) on the ease of which they can find items on tennis players here on wikipedia as opposed to WTA or ITF sites...and if it's easier for them it's easier for your average reader too. I guess you could ask your question about anything here. What's the advantage of having a wiki page on Yogurt when there are dozens of external sites that have as much or more detailed info on the subject. We could have a page called yogurt where the only info is a link to the national yogurt page. Fyunck(click) (talk) 00:36, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Fyunck(click), these stats compilations are rather unique on the internet and beyond. Official websites are much less clear, incomplete, not up-to-date, and contains errors. Also, the articles are very popular and well updated. Including the stats in the main player's articles would make those too large in most cases. I think this separation satisfies most people; the stats are easy to find but still not in the foreground. Gap9551 (talk) 20:47, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
I kinda like the idea above that MakeSense64 points out, in that the advice on NSPORTS is that a page that contains statistics should probably be more focused on the prose than the table of stats themselves. That is, we should consider how sources cover stats in a manner that encourages more prose to describe the larger trends or summaries, and thus use that to set the point where, in any more detail, we're likely violating NOTSTAT. For example, I know that you can find box scores for every MLB game played, but unless its a local team or a championship game, there's hardly any prose around it. On the other hand, if you look at season averages, there's often a good number of summaries (following a season, and then going into the next season), critically reviewing the teams performance, and in such a case, the stats of a team by a season would make sense to include. Similarly, take individual business performances: individual day-by-day performances aren't tracked unless a major event has occurred, but quarter-by-quarter, or by fiscal year, there are often summaries that are discussed.
Basically, if you plop a huge table of stats into an article, you should be able to have significant discussion about it. If not, then its likely too far detailed for WP's purposes. How to set that in writing I have no idea. --MASEM (t) 01:27, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
I guess it boils down to how comprehensive an encyclopedia do readers want. Fyunck(click) (talk) 01:44, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
It is true that the tennis stats found on ATP and WTA sites are not in easily readable format that shows everything in one page. The problem that Fyunck points out is one of how to split tennis articles once they go above the 100 kB limit. It is a fair point.
That being said, in an encyclopedia prose is primary and pictures and tables are secondary, only to be used to illustrate and clarify what is expressed in the well-sourced prose of the article. That's why statsbook pages are frowned upon (and may get deleted).
But we can also look at it this way. Lots of pages on WP are below 100 kB, but load over 100kB in pictures as well. So why is it a problem when a tennis article would be 200 kB (with 100 kB tables included)? Maybe WP should reconsider the 100kB limit for pages that have little or no pictures, especially since fast internet is now available virtually everywhere. Things like career stats and individual season pages could then be kept in the main article in collapsed boxes, as I see used in Climate of Russia for example. Then we would not be having this discussion.
Even better would be if the content of collapsed boxes only gets loaded when the reader clicks on "show". Technically that cannot be a big problem. Then the initial download size of the main page would always remain small. So, instead of forcing pages to split off content when the size bets too big, we could just keep it in collapsed boxes inside the main article.
Now, for many tennis articles we are in a dilemma. If we keep things like draws and career stats in the main article then we easily exceed the 100 kB limit. And if we split off the draws and stats in standalone pages then we bump into NOTSTATSBOOK. I think the lesser evil is dropping the 100 kB limit, especially if we can use collapsed boxes. And then we don't need to rewrite the NOSTATSBOOK guidelines. MakeSense64 (talk) 08:56, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
I have seen people posting that pages that get to 150k start to give their browsers problems and many elderly users still use free dialup providers. There are also those in more remote places that use satellite internet access which is much slower. It's also length that is a problem as far as scrolling forever down a page instead of clicking on a nice and easy link that gives more info. You mention NOSTATSBOOK a lot and it says as a guidline:Long and sprawling lists of statistics may be confusing to readers and reduce the readability and neatness of our articles. I don't find the Federer stats to be sprawling or confusing in the least. They are neat but they are long. NOSTASBOOK also says "articles should contain sufficient explanatory text to put statistics within the article in their proper context for a general reader", which this info does when taken with the main article. They were simply broken off because the main page became so large given the quality of the player. NOSTASBOOK says "In cases where this "stats" may be necessary consider using tables to enhance the readability of lengthy data lists" which again this does. Saying all that I'm certainly not averse to using collapse boxes instead of a separate page if enough of a tennis consensus agrees to it. I will say this though... tennis uses a lot of the collapse boxes and while they work they are ugly and a bit of a detraction to the articles I read. Fyunck(click) (talk) 09:49, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
I like the collapsed box idea. In fact articles such as Roger Federer already use this for a selection of the player's records. Alternatively it may be possible to add concise (standard) prose to the statistics articles pointing out e.g. which tournament levels are most important etc. Gap9551 (talk) 21:05, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
"I guess it boils down to how comprehensive an encyclopedia do readers want." – Or more precisely, whether they want an encyclopedia or something else. "They" being the readers or, more likely, some editors who are obsessed with a topic. Encyclopedias condense information. When there is more information about many sportspeople than about most similarly or more notable people who actually do something important (e.g. politicians), then clearly something is wrong on one side. A quick glance in Britannica confirms my suspicion that it's the sports side that is wrong here.
There are other wikis for things that don't fit into an encyclopedia. Have you considered Wikia? Hans Adler 09:59, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
The sports side could very well be wrong as it leads by consensus not just guidelines, as do a lot of things here on wikipedia. The Britannica pages don't have 1/10 of the info and stats on the Detroit Lions that wikipedia does, and hockey is a real info hog. That being good or bad is up to the editors and readers. Do they want a 100% old fashioned encyclopedia... there's good points for that. With today's storage space costing nothing do readers also want a bit of an almanac being thrown in? I think many do or at least they expect wikipedia to be more than its predecessors; To have more information at their fingertips. I believe the consensus was to have the stat pages for articles that got to large, and for individual yearly pages for important tennis players. If consensus has changed I'm fine with that. Throw it up on the tennis project page and debate it for a month and see what happens. We can put it up on the golf pages too too see how they feel. No idea what wikia is. Fyunck(click) (talk) 10:30, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

I am not going to restore it, but I note that a comment of mine that I do consider relevant here has been removed. [1] Hans Adler 09:29, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

While Fyunck points out that guidelines are only guidelines and thus can be put aside in certain exception cases, it is still the purpose to stick with the guidelines most of the time. Examples for Tiger Woods are mentioned, but it is an exception. In the case of tennis we are looking at over 70 standalone career stats articles that contain no prose, only results and stats. So there it is no longer the exception but slowly becoming the rule. More and more such statsbook pages are getting created, just yesterday I prodded this one: WTA Most Matches Won - 2011.
As per Masem's comment, perhaps we can add something to the wording here, e.g. stating that "articles with lots of tables and stats always need to be accompanied by well-sourced prose".
We can also wonder whether these career stats are notable if they do not get much mention in any reliable independent sources? We only find them on the WTA and ATP tour sites, which are not independent of tennis. In depth media coverage about a tennis player's career statistics is quite rare. Same in other sports. Then how do we justify standalone articles about career stats? To point to statsbook sites in external link is then a reasonable solution. The fact that stats are not optimally presented on WTA and ATP sites is not our fault. Basically we report on what we find, we are not supposed to improve on what we find. MakeSense64 (talk) 10:17, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
In WikiProject Mathematics we used the have the same problem with proofs. I think they are equivalent to player statistics. Current consensus is that articles on theorems may contain proof hints or possibly proof outlines but no complete proofs, and proofs should not in any way dominate the article. And proofs can get their own articles only if they are independently notable, i.e. basically when we actually have publications specifically about a specific proof of the theorem as opposed to a publication on the theorem in which the proof is given. I believe the implementation of this practice wasn't popular with those editors who had previously worked on proof articles, and led to the deletion of quite a few articles. But it was clearly necessary. Hans Adler 10:57, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia is a general purpose encyclopaedia. There exist specialised wikis for the more in-depth coverage, including the Tennis Database Wiki, hosted on Wikia, that would seem the perfect fit for these detailed statistics. Just as almost all the Star Trek articles link to Memory Alpha, a dedicated Star Trek wiki, the relevant tennis articles could link to the Tennis Database Wiki. This would likely drive the traffic up on that Wiki leading to improvements there too. Thryduulf (talk) 12:06, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
With respect specifically to the individual sport players (tennis, golf, etc.), at least how I read some of then (Tiger Woods being an exception) is they are written too much like a timeline before you even consider the addition of stats; the player's overall career should be considered in broader digestable chunks rather than "in 1999, he did this. In 2000, he did this...". Writing like that leads to desire to include the detailed stats that are plaguing these pages. I agree that external wikis or other existing sources ( dunno) are better suited to this type of information. That does not mean we don't include major victories and accomplishments, nor should we, for example, include where they placed in the major year/season-long standings year after year (the equivalent of season scores for MLB), but we don't need a list of every single match played and against whom. If it is a notable tourney, those matches can be listed there if that's appropriate at that level of cover. I doubt that every round of the PGA tour is necessarily notable, either. We need people to think "summary summary summary": provide stats at a level that can be easily incorporates with the available source information about the player instead of just a numbers dump.
Note that there may be cases where by Wikiproject consistency that a stat dump is appropriate. But generally this is consensus-agreed broad data that can be easily used to compare one team/player to another directly (eg: a table of all games played by a MLB team in a season) So it's not to say that all stat tables or the equivalent of minutae need to have text to accompany it, but generally the more resolved that you go in such aspects, the more you should look to see what existing language is there to necessitate that. More often than not, for these sporting stats, it is not the specific result of 100 games that's important but the broad average with one or two games highlighted for some specific reason. --MASEM (t) 14:12, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Fwiw, I just tried to make a career stats article on wikia and got this in 5 minutes by copy-pasting it over: Roger Federer career statistics. Just some of the templates seem to be not compatible, especially the flagicons, which would require a lot of work to clean up. But it would be no problem to bring all the stats there and put an external link to it from the WP article.
I agree with Masem that a lot of sports articles are too detailed, not rarely match-by-match. There is a general failure to summarize where needed. Player articles just get added to after every match at Wimbledon or US Open, which leads to sections that are virtually unreadable. Similar problems exist in other sports. I am not sure how to best address that situation. MakeSense64 (talk) 15:35, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Please don't just copy-paste things over to Wikia; you lose the contribution history of the associated work. Please see WP:TRANSWIKI for instructions and guides for this. --MASEM (t) 16:14, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
OK, I didn't know about that. I guess I can delete the page and then use the normal way. MakeSense64 (talk) 16:28, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
I looked at the transwiki procedures and it looks overly complicated to me. Maybe that's why it seems to be little used. According to the logs it is almost four years ago since the last page got transwikied to Wikia. It was an icehockey stats page and clicking it I noticed that has over 42000 articles. Which confirms the idea that tennis and other sports could do the same for career stats and other match-by-match type articles that do not belong in a general purpose encyclopedia. MakeSense64 (talk) 06:51, 16 December 2011 (UTC)


Due to a number of disputes that have arisen over the years involving NOTCENSORED, as well as the above-noted conflict, I am opening a policy RfC on the question below, which as far as I can tell is the crux of the problem. I believe our position on this subtle point needs to be clarified, particularly in light of the Recent foundation resolution on controversial content.

RfC Question
NOTCENSORED is necessary to protect controversial content which makes a clear and unambiguous contribution to an article; This is a given. That being said, does NOTCENSORED also protect controversial content that adds little or no value to the article?

In other words, while there is a strong consensus that controversial images of (say) penises or vaginas are necessary on their namesake pages, or that the cartoons of Muhammad on Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy are central to the topic of that article, it is not clear that this same consensus extends to protect images which are merely decorative elements, artistic illustrations, unneeded exemplifications, page fillers, or other material of negligible content value for the article. --Ludwigs2 01:00, 4 November 2011 (UTC)

Examples of places where the issue of applying NOTCENSORED to incidental material has arisen (more may be added as the RfC progresses):

  • talk:Pregnancy over the use of an art nude image in the lead of the article I don't see how this is an example of "incidental" imagery, considering some photo of a pregnant woman is a pretty important aspect of an article about pregnancy. Calliopejen1 (talk) 00:21, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
  • talk:Muhammad/Images, over the use of non-representative artwork depicting Muhammad
  • over the inclusion of a screenshot of the original shock site. --Ludwigs2 01:05, 4 November 2011 (UTC) Again, I don't see how this is an example of "incidental" imagery, considering that it is central to the shock site. I think different issues were at play here. Calliopejen1 (talk) 00:21, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
  • talk:Arachnophobia over the inclusion of a photo of a spider. Calliopejen1 (talk) 00:13, 9 November 2011 (UTC)

NOTCENSORED does not protect incidental material

  • Support: Allowing NOTCENSORED to cover trivial material creates a difficult-to-resolve opening for violating NPOV: controversial images can be put on a page merely to be offensive, and held there by using NOTCENSORED to squelch discussion. This sets up the editing environment as a long-term BATTLEGROUND, where multiple editors try to address the issue and run into an endless wall of bureaucratic NOTCENSORED assertions. Wikipedia should not offend its readers with non-contributive controversial material (see wmf:Resolution:Controversial content). We offend where we have to, because we have to, not merely because we want to use that material. --Ludwigs2 01:00, 4 November 2011 (UTC)--Ludwigs2 15:53, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Very cautious support. Given the murky definition of "incidental material" I'll support the following concepts: 1. If there is consensus that any content does not have educational value this policy is irrelevant and the content is not protected. 2. Complaints from readers about offensive material should at least be considered, and consistent complaints should require specific justification that the offensive content is truly necessary. Editors must not simply blow off the complaints as "not censored says we can" if there is an indication that a substantial number of readers strongly disapprove, though reader feedback does not override consensus. 3. NOTCENSORED must be clear enough that it cannot be used as a tool to censor talk page discussions of whether controversial content is appropriate. 4. Offensive content should not be used if there is non-offensive content that achieves the same goal. SDY (talk) 01:32, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. Wikipedia does not seek to include as much offensive material as possible merely because offensive material is permitted in appropriate contexts. Especially with respect to images, editors frequently need to choose between alternatives with varying degrees of potential offensiveness. When multiple options are equally effective at portraying a concept, Wikipedia does not retain the most offensive options merely to "show off" its ability to include possibly offensive materials. Images containing offensive material that is extraneous, unnecessary, irrelevant, or gratuitous are not protected in the name of opposing censorship. --JN466 01:54, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support of principle NOTCENSORED should not "protect" any material. The purpose of NOTCENSORED is to provide a policy through which arguments that an image (or prose) should go for reasons of censorship can be squashed immediately. NOTCENSORED is a quick and easy response to a particular argument. it is not in any way an argument for the use of any material, as noted (perhaps in an extreme) by point 9 in the Wikipedia:Image use policy, "Shocking or explicit pictures should not be used simply to bring attention to an article." Pictures should be evaluated for usage independent of whether they would or would not be censored elsewhere. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 13:30, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Unreserved support. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 15:05, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support Not censored is often used ideologically as a justification for keeping material that is otherwise of no inherent value, as if any material that we can include, also should be included. This proposal helps clarify that point.Griswaldo (talk) 18:48, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. NOTCENSORED is not a substitute for editorial judgement. In cases where shocking or provocative images are not necessary for understanding of the subject, there's no need to dogmatically protect them. We should be able to have a rational discussion on what actually improves the article rather than just shouting at each other about censorship. For example, we don't include gruesome images of people's heads blown off in the suicide article. Is this censorship? No, its just good editorial judgement, and such judgement shouldn't be so difficult to defend. Kaldari (talk) 23:26, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Mostly support per Kaldari, with emphasis on the editorial judgment part. I think Wikipedians, generally speaking, have a reflexive, knee-jerk reaction to exercising editorial judgment, and accusations of censorship are often bandied about unnecessarily. I think offensiveness is a fine consideration when media do little to increase readers' understanding. (This applies whether it is a photo of a random spider on the arachnophobia page; the use of a large number of way-post-death images of Muhammad even when images of Muhammad are rare, relatively speaking, in Islamic art; the use of a graphic photo of a dead person on the suicide page; etc etc etc.) There is no reason to cause offense unnecessarily when readers' benefit is trivially small. Calliopejen1 (talk) 00:10, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support although in this particular circumstance, that this is specifically about pictures of Muhammed, it galls me to support this because I think the pictures are OK to have. However, as a general rule, it seems that if we have something that 1) is of marginal encyclopedic value and 2) offends a lot of people, then from a business and political perspective it's pointless to include it. Have some perspective, people. (In the particular case of the Muhammed pictures, a case could be made for including them on grounds of principle. But for most cases -- you know, some really offensive gory or sexually extreme or otherwise inflamatory image and so forth, and it's entirely peripheral to the thrust of the article, let's be reasonable.) Herostratus (talk) 17:57, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support as per Griswaldo. --cc 11:40, 11 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. One can oppose censorship without condoning gratuitous offence. It is the gratuitousness of the offence that is the problem here. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 21:07, 11 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support NOTCENSORED is not an excuse for including irrelevant and trivially related offensive material in any article. In the article Automobile, a picture that contains both an automobile and a naked person deserves no special protection, because pictures of naked people do not add anything to the readers' understanding of automobiles. It does protect "offensive" images when they are not incidental or decorative, including naked bodies in all sorts of medicine-related and sexuality-related articles—but even there, the image(s) chosen should normally be the least-offensive image that conveys the necessary information, not the editors' favorite Playboy centerfold model. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:00, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support, obviously. To me, the question is not just, or even primarily an issue of offense to readers per se. To take an instructive example, suppose that one is involved in a research project concerning an aspect of human sexuality. When writing a paper relating the results, and submitting it to a respected journal with academic peer review, would it be a good idea to include an essentially gratuitous collection of sexually explicit photographs taken during the course of the research to "illustrate" it? Such a submission runs a significant risk of not being taken seriously. If the reviewers and the editor do decide to publish the article, the photographs would not be included, in part to avoid making the journal look silly. Similarly, the present treatment of images in Wikipedia's sexology articles makes us look like jokers. Wikipedia's credibility is far too important to fritter it away just to make a point. Alessandra Napolitano (talk) 06:25, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. NOTCENSORED is often used frivolously to support POV pushing and intentional breaking of social norms as part of a cultural war. NOTCENSORED is for minimising disruption caused by unreasonable complaints, not for making sure that Wikipedia contains more 'offensive' content than it would without the policy and if nobody were trying to censor it. Hans Adler 12:09, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support NOTCENSORED is clearly being used to entirely prevent the ability for anyone to support the removal of an image due to offence, even if the value offered by it is extremely limited. -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 19:39, 24 November 2011 (UTC)
    If your argument against content is based on you being offended, it can, should, and will be summarily ignored. Mount the argument on the basis of the image having no value, not that it hurts your feelings or sensibilities. --erachima talk 15:29, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Very Cautious Support It comes down to what is incidental. This of course is determined by community consensus as different editors may disagree. Thus we will still frequently require RfCs and plenty of discussion. This is a fine balance. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 11:53, 28 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support No policy should protect all content in all situations. Sometimes it is appropriate to remove an image that is not really adding to the article. The examples above show it can be misapplied. Thenub314 (talk) 04:00, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Qualified Oppose "Incidental" seems very subjective. Beyond495 (talk) 16:42, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Qualified Oppose: I don't like that our only choices here are to say "NOTCENSORED does not protect incidental material" or "NOTCENSORED does protect incidental material". That sounds like a logical fallacy to me, as disagreeing with one statement does not imply or assume agreement with the other, and I worry that wording the issue in this leading way may lead to false results. I don't like the subjective use of "incidental", the examples given as supposedly incidental, and I think that all this will get us is arguments about whether something is incidental or not. MsBatfish (talk) 11:32, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Qualified Oppose Along with Beyond495 I find "incidental" to be a very subjective term. And I do not believe that it is useful in resolving the underlying issue. Take the example above of the spider image in the Arachnophobia article. Such an image is hardly incidental to the topic, since the phobia is often incited by the visual clues, but it is likely to be inappropriate and there are adequate links to spider where the that image is even more central. The underlying issue is the inappropriate use of NOTCENSORED as a basis for leaving material in an article. If an editor takes the position that there is no place on the Wikipedia where an image would be appropriate, then NOTCENSORED may be a legitimate response. With respect to a given article there may be a host of reasons why given material is more appropriate in a linked article. I think that a better solution would be to provide guidance on the use of the NOTCENSORED policy in content inclusion/exclusion discussions. --Bejnar (talk) 21:45, 10 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This is simply an attempt to drive a wedge into the policy. We cannot water down NOT#CENSORED. --erachima talk 15:29, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose - actively harmful in exchange for zero benefit I reviewed the support votes above and I investigated the example conflicts listed directly below the proposal. I see support mainly falling in two categories. I see a large amount of support for the trivial position that (for example) porn can be removed from an automobile article. Well duh. Much of that support actively raises the issue, and the express condition, that this proposal not impact material genuinely relevant to an article. I do not believe Wikipedia is experiencing much difficulty removing genuinely irrelevant or worthless material from articles. It is trivial support, and very conditional support, towards a non-existent problem. On the other hand I am highly distressed by the second category of support for this proposal. Some of it is clearly originating at, and directed to, the argument that realistic images of Muhammad are "incidental" or "adds little or no value" to the Muhammad biography. If that argument were raised on the talk page of any other biographical article it would be summarily laughed out of the room. This proposal is just fuel for the fire. Support for this proposal is also clearly originating at, and directed to, the argument that an image of a (tastefully nude) pregnant woman is "incidental" or "adds little or no value" to a pregnancy article. The image at issue adds an extremely valuable illustration of the physical changes that a woman can expect to experience during her pregnancy. If anyone accepts that this proposal applies to that conflict then we might as well illustrate the article with a pregnant woman in a Burqa. The remaining two examples, and arachnophobia, merely further make my point. This proposal shouldn't apply in either case unless the intent is an abusively stretched interpretation. was a screenshot of the very subject of the article. There are many arguments you can make about it, but irrelevant and uninformative are NOT among them. I believe Goatse was kicked on copyright grounds. Similarly, a spider is hardly irrelevant or uninformative to the subject of arachnophobia. In arachnophobia the claim to NOTCENSORED was an overreach in the first place. The conflict was shamed into resolution when it landed itself on the Wikipedia:Lamest_edit_wars list. The point is, four Wiki conflicts were cited as concrete examples for this proposal to apply, and in NONE of them should it actually be permitted to apply as written. All four imply an abusive interpretation and application of "incidental" and "adds little or no value".
If this proposal passes the substantive effect will be an increase in conflicts as frustrated wannabe censors endlessly try for force it to apply. Alsee (talk) 00:09, 24 December 2011 (UTC)

NOTCENSORED does protect incidental material

  • Support NOTCENSORED indicates that issues related to religion are not considered, and shields substantive images and less substantive images alike. That shield does not create license: the images may be removed for any number of reasons, but they should never be held to a higher standard than images in other articles. Wikipedia is a secular encyclopedia, and takes no notice of religious objections in its editorial policies.—Kww(talk) 01:12, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support I would argue that none of the listed examples are incidental material, the Goatse one especially. If it is an image of the specific subject, then it needs to be included for illustration. The Goatse image is of the specific subject of the website, I see no logical reason why it should be excluded. The pregnancy debate is a bit more iffy, but it is obviously true that a nude photograph more clearly shows what pregnancy looks like than a person who has clothes covering her body. And, as for Muhammad, what exactly is non-representative of images of Muhammad made by historic Muslim artists? I'm actually surprised there's so few images of Muhammad in that article, in comparison to, say, the article on Jesus. SilverserenC 01:17, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support per KWW and Silver seren above. Additionally: All "incidental material" should simply be judged by existing policy which already covers numerous reasons to include or remove any type of content on Wikipedia. NOTCENSORED does not, nor (in my recollection) ever has invalidated WP:POV, WP:RS, WP:NOTE, WP:CITE, WP:VERIFY, WP:NOR, WP:BLP or any other part of WP:NOT (or various other policies and guidelines I may have missed). Proper application of all only leaves content that is covered by WP:NOTCENSORED (anything else automagically would be "prohibited" by the other policies). Best, ROBERTMFROMLI | TK/CN 02:24, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • I have added a comment here[2] that indicates the true scope of these questions, because we must apply the answers uniformly. Best, ROBERTMFROMLI | TK/CN 02:40, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support To the extent that the reason for wanting to remove the "incidental" material is based on offensiveness, WP:NOTCENSORED does apply. Offensiveness is not relevant, the question should be does the inclusion contribute to the article, or would the article be as good without the image (discounting any arguments to the effect that removal of offensiveness will make the article better. Monty845 02:36, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support This change, which seems to be specifically targeting medieval Islamic art from Persia and the Arab world, is unjustified. Mathsci (talk) 07:27, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support if incidental material is being discussed for removal, it should be based on the merits of whether or not it it improves the article, not whether or not it's too offensive. For example, a picture of a dead woman impaled through her perineum shouldn't be removed from the article on women because it's offensive, but because it doesn't illustrate the subject very well; the article on women describes what living women are and do, so pictures living, healthy women better supplement the article. Conversely, the same picture could fit quite well in the article on the Rape of Nanking, because that could illustrate the events there quite well even though it's incidental (it's just one small part of the entire event, and wouldn't have any more significance than any number of other images). Removing it just because someone says it's offensive would be disruptive because the Rape of Nanking happened, and it's certainly representative of the events. It could be removed for any number of other reasons (quality, another image better supporting the surrounding text, or copyright issues, to name three), but removing it just for being "offensive" is not a valid one. The Blade of the Northern Lights (話して下さい) 14:58, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
    • I know the picture you are referring to, and I agree with you. But the image is not incidental in rape of Nanking, and is not mere decoration; like certain images of the holocaust, it is an iconic image used by historians to show what happened. It has precedent in reliable sources covering the topic. What we are talking about are images that do not have such precedent, and do not reflect the typical illustration approach in reliable sources. --JN466 17:13, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support With the way it currently reads NOTCENSORED simply allows disclussion of positions that purposefully paint something as being offensive where no offense is. If something can be disproven on a separate policy NOTCENSORED doesn't even come into play since it goes off the policy that it violates. Something strictly removed because a group has considered it offensive is not meritous and leads to censorship of many articles for specific gains of groups in all spectrums. Tivanir2 (talk) 15:35, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support per kww, SilverSeren and Mathsci. I would add that the entire question is flawed, as it relies on multiple POVs: First that the material is trivial. Second that it is offensive. The result is the circular argument that the material is trivial because it is offensive, and it is offensive because it is trivial. This proposal is an attempt at neutering WP:NOTCENSORED in violation of WP:NPOV. Resolute 16:14, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support -- NOTCENSORED does (properly) apply to "incidental" material. To censor something is to remove it because some people find it offensive or otherwise objectionable, and I think it is right that Wikipedia would not be swayed by such feelings even if the material is incidental. There might be other reasons to remove "incidental" material -- but we shouldn't do so in deference to a desire for censorship. Nomoskedasticity (talk) 20:25, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support -- Although I would support this position because of the proposer of the RFC, NOTCENSORED does and should apply to "trivial images". If an image is really "trivial" or "incidental" images, it should be removed, regardless. However, the images in question are not "incidental", and this would increase the edit wars on the article-that-should-not-be-named. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 23:53, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • This is the key to the problem. You are wrong. Wikipedia abounds with trivial, uninformative images, that dress up pages, and say nothing that isn't covered in the text. See the lead image of ADHD. Generally, they're not a problem, often they make the article more appealing. But if you think an image can be removed simply on the basis that it adds nothing to the readers' understanding, we're on different projects. I defy you to remove the lead image of ADHD on the basis that it is trivial. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 02:34, 5 November 2011 (UTC)
  • 'Support It is and should remain a basic principle that applies to all WP content, The attempt to remove so-called incidental material from its protection is an excellent illustration of the slippery slope in action: try to find opportunities for gradually removing the protection. Many have been proposed, and the only safe course is to reject every one of them. As pointed out above, his is a particularly poorly thought out one, because of the additional slipperiness of the words used. DGG ( talk ) 00:29, 5 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. The proposal appears to be "Wikipedia is not censored, except when it is." Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, so remove any content if it's truly unencyclopedic, whether images or text or whatever. But be prepared to be reverted, defend your actions on the talk page, and accept consensus whether or not it's on your side. If somebody in that conversation invokes NOTCENSORED spuriously, say so. This is the process we have now, and I see no reason to change it. Lagrange613 17:15, 5 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support with reservations As the WMF term "least astonishment" is a teeny bit vague, and I think that is the key issue. Collect (talk) 12:28, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support . If a policy restricts content, in my view, it should only do so to preserve truth (not to sound too grandiose). No number of sources calling some piece of media "incidental" to a given topic will conclusively establish it as "incidental." If we rewrite NOTCENSORED to explicitly not protect so-called "incidental" media, we will, in effect, condone OR.Divergentgrad (talk) 18:44, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
  • SupportI don't see the alternative as workable as it relies too much on an agreement about what is incidental. Not censored and irrelevant should be two different inquiries, although, they can under certain contextual circumstances inform one another. Alanscottwalker (talk) 00:18, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support this. The main argument of the opposition seems to be that the current reading is too vulnerable to wikilawyering by POV pushers, however I fear that phrasing such as "little or no value" is much more vulnerable by far. JORGENEV 00:56, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support more or less. It doesn't protect irrelevant material (like random penis vandalism), but "it's offensive" is a very weak argument for removing a relevant image. The point for NOTCENSORED is to remove the hecklers veto not just limit it to close cases. Eluchil404 (talk) 03:43, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
Support per kww. Hobit (talk) 00:05, 16 November 2011 (UTC)

Support. There should be no incidental material on Wikipedia anyway; anything that is here should be here for a reason. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:00, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

  • NOTCENSORED protects all our content in principle without exception. however, that does not imply that a casuistic approach is ruled out; rather, it is (should be) recommended to balance out our competing values in response to every single case. that includes the appropriate representation of the topic "as such" in the article and the (known) reader-expectations as well as our longstanding principles & pillars & practices as (curatorial) community. trying to define an abstract device (as proposed here) to combat the problem will not help; value conflicts are not forcefully & reasonable addressable in this way, regards --Jan eissfeldt (talk) 11:49, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. Not censored applies equally to all content. Images that add no value to articles should be (and normally are) removed for being irrelevant, regardless of whether anybody finds it offensive or not. Thryduulf (talk) 13:20, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
Your first sentence is a simple statement of the status quo. Your second is false. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 07:31, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. Purely decorative materials should generally be removed, whether offensive or not. Material that adds non-redundant educational value should generally be included, whether offensive or not. It may be the case that the value provided is small (or "incidental"), but it may be value that no substitute image or text could as capably provide. The layout of images, and distribution of images among articles, should also be driven primarily by the desire to inform. If there are multiple choices for an image, and some are equally (or more) informative while also being less offensive to some readers, there's no reason not to prefer the less offensive one. Dcoetzee 02:33, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
Your first sentence addresses purely decorative material but this proposal is about material related to the topic, but of little or no educational value. Rainbows and butterflies illustrating Happiness would be purely decorative, because they're not related to the topic. The lead image of ADHD is related to the topic but has no educational value so is incidental. Try to remove that image from ADHD purely on the basis that it is of no educational value. So, though WP:IUP says images should improve the readers' understanding of the topic, in practice it is ignored all over the project, and such images constantly receive local support for retention, because they look nice. No one's really bothered by that lead image at ADHD. I mention it because it undermines your assertion that "we don't/shouldn't have incidental images."
Problems arise when such an image is also controversial, depending on who's being offended or harmed of course. Sufferers were offended by a picture of a little boy playing up in class as the lead image of ADHD. After long discussion this totally, totally, totally uninformative offensive image was retained, but as a major concession to the feelings of patients, it was moved down the page. This is the kind of behaviour the proposal is aimed at addressing. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 04:36, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support If there's a reason for material to be present, then it should be present, even if it causes offense. If there's no reason for it to be present, then it shouldn't be around anyway - unneeded images are a potential problem for users with limited connections of various varieties (including limited sensory connections, for someone using a screen reader). Allens (talk) 03:47, 26 November 2011 (UTC)
"If there's no reason for it to be present, then it shouldn't be around anyway". You're right about utterly irrelevant images. But for every article or section there are thousands of images that have some connection to the topic. When an offensive image is connected to the topic but not important for understanding, should it be replaced by an inoffensive image that is equally marginally relevant, should it be deleted if no inoffensive equivalent can be found, or should it remain, regardless of its minimal value and offensiveness? That's what this question is about: images with "a reason to be present" but a weak one. Wikipedia abounds with such images. See the lead of ADHD and Pain. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 06:05, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. Incidental images should be dealt with on an individual per-article basis. There should be no specific ruling separating incidental images that are inoffensive to all people from incidental images that are offensive to as few as one person standing up and saying so. Binksternet (talk) 16:20, 28 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support NOTCENSORED should cover every aspect of the encyclopedia. That doesn't mean that there is a blank check on allowing incidental images, only that offense of a religion or the like should never be part of the discussion. Noformation Talk 20:09, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support - I support NOTCENSORED as currently written and currently interpreted. Carrite (talk) 18:30, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
This entire RFC is pretty clearly another attempt at end-run around consensus on the Muhammed Pictures question, I add. There has needed to be a topic ban here, there still needs to be a topic ban here, ArbCom needs to take the case and get it done. Carrite (talk) 18:44, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Support: More precisely, NOTCENSORED prevents the censoring of explicit content that some subset of editors think is too explicit, including when some subset of editors think it isn't "crucial" or "most important"; it's blanket policy, modulo the WP:GRATUITOUS guideline if it sticks. If an image is so "incidental" it's questionable whether to include it, that's a question of encyclopedic relevance, not explicitness. The two concepts have no connection to one another at all. When the question is whether the explicitness itself is relevant (i.e., including a nude photo instead of a non-nude photo of an actor), we now have WP:GRATUITOUS. Even without it, there's nothing wrong with NOTCENSORED, since we also have WP:COMMONSENSE and WP:IAR. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 18:46, 18 December 2011 (UTC)
    • Yeah, WP:GRATUITOUS is largely redundant to WP:PERTINENCE, but it's more narrowly stated. There is one hypothetical case that was discussed on this page (now archived), which falls somewhere in-between: a presumed irreplaceable/unique image of a car prototype that also includes a naked woman in way that makes it impossible to crop her out. The image is arguably relevant to an article about that car, but you can't get rid of the gratuitous element, not without making the image look obviously censored. Fortunately, images like that don't seem to actually enter disputes on Wikipedia. In practice, 99.9% of the disputes are about the core elements of the image. ASCIIn2Bme (talk) 06:44, 26 December 2011 (UTC)


To clarify Ludwigs2's questions, as the results will need to be applied uniformly, here is a short list of other articles that this will apply to:

This makes the questions more representative of the impact. ROBERTMFROMLI | TK/CN 02:34, 4 November 2011 (UTC)

Thing is, most of those other articles you're talking about have images which are independently notable, and those images are a part of how those people are perceived. Muhammad is unusual in that there isn't a rich artistic tradition of depiction, and the images we're using for the article are fairly obscure. Including a couple isn't ridiculous, there is an artistic history there, but it's nothing like Orthodox icons or the fact that a

disproportionate number of paintings of women with babies are Madonna and Child. One size does not fit all. SDY (talk) 03:31, 4 November 2011 (UTC)

Interestingly, the Metropolitan Museum of Art disagrees with you. So does the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Guess which I find more notable? Your opinion, or theirs? And if we were to judge by policies and guidelines, which would I *have* to choose as a more reliable source - you or them? Best, ROBERTMFROMLI | TK/CN 03:36, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
At any rate, this is exactly what I didn't want to do, which is make this RfC a complete rehash of the Muhammad debate. I completely disagree with you, but this isn't the time or place for that discussion. SDY (talk) 03:46, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
It IS the Muhammad debate - and that's not my fault: he wrote it, not me. Did you even read his RfC? It asks (paraphrased, but accurately), "since the images are of no value, shouldn't we change wp:censor so we can remove them?" Did you also fail to notice he is the one who brought up that article? Again, that wasn't me. ROBERTMFROMLI | TK/CN 03:50, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
Side note (question): You disagree that those two museums (and others, I am sure) have stances on the matter more valid than yours? Is that honestly what you are trying to say? If so, please point me to your notable history book on the matter or something similar. If not, then the question is irrelevant, and I am not sure what you are disagreeing with and would appreciate clarification. ROBERTMFROMLI | TK/CN 03:52, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • None of the examples that Ludwigs2 gives are incidental. And please don't modify a RfC after it has started; see moving the goal posts. ASCIIn2Bme (talk) 11:25, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Images of the Prophet Muhammad appearing in illuminated manuscripts from Persia and the Arab world are prized items in the Islamic collections of major international museums, such as the Pergamon Museum, the British Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Hermitage, St Petersburg and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Jayen466 could have seen the Shahnameh on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum in 2010-2011 with the second plate from this celebrated manuscript containing a veiled image of the Prophet Muhhamad. [3] I am not sure this particular image from the British Library could be described as deeply shocking, unrepresentative or uneducational. The four caliphs who had their names erased from the manuscript might have been shocked. Mathsci (talk) 14:29, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
    • Yes, such images are prized for their rarity. None of these museums assert that pictures like this hang in mosques or people's homes, are a customary illustration in Islamic texts, or are in any way representative of mainstream religious art in the Islamic tradition. Islamic religious art has taken a completely different direction to religious art in other cultures, as a look into any book or encyclopedia article on it will tell you. ("For practical purposes, representations are not found in religious art, although matters are quite different in secular art. Instead there occurred very soon a replacement of imagery with calligraphy and the concomitant transformation of calligraphy into a major artistic medium." Encyclopaedia Britannica, Islamic Arts, Macropaedia, Vol. 22, p. 76.) --JN466 16:29, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
      • Wikipedia is closer to that museum than it is a mosque or an individual's home. given we are an institution intended to collect and share knowledge, I think you have just added a fine argument for why Wikipedia should retain the images. Resolute 16:49, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
        • We are sharing knowledge on a fringe aspect of Islamic art, while neglecting the mainstream. It's like having an article on the Bugatti Veyron that is all about the wheel nuts. --JN466 17:02, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
          • "a fringe aspect of Islamic art" is not fact, but rather opinion, and a minority opinion at that. Tarc (talk) 17:09, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
On fa.wp, the consensus seems to have been that the images should not be excluded because this amounts to suppressing an important aspect of Islamic history and culture. --FormerIP (talk) 17:13, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
From what I understand, this was a golden age in Persian culture, universally recognized in the academic world. From his self-description on, Jayen466 has no expertise in Islamic art. Given that, it's hard to know why he is making such bold assertions. Could it be just some form of WP:GAME? Mathsci (talk) 21:58, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
Don't be daft, Mathsci. Iran is a Shiite country, and it's tolerant of figurative depictions of Muhammad in a way the majority Sunni tradition is not. If you look at the Turkish and especially the Arabic Muhammad articles, you'll find a lot of useful, culturally iconic imagery that we don't feature. --JN466 07:26, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
  • I'd ask for clarification of this. It seems to imply "Iran is an Islamic country - but their interpretation of Islam is wrong, so we can discount them". I'm sure that was not your intent, but when you imply that because they are tolerant of such - but Sunni tradition isn't, it's hard to see anything else as a reason. I've watched similar wars on and off Wikipedia from various sects of Christianity - some going so far as to claim that other sects weren't really Christianity. Obviously, we can't take sides in that either - nor should we evaluate which of these are "the true Islam". So, please elucidate. Best, ROBERTMFROMLI | TK/CN 20:02, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
    • All that was meant to say was that Iran is not representative of the wider Islamic world in this respect. Best, --JN466 21:14, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
The description on the website of the Fitzwilliam Museum of the Book of Kings has a more detailed commentary than you have given of the page in the illuminated manuscript depicting the veiled Prophet Muhammad that I mentioned elsewhere. You have actively campaigned on this very issue on (fr:Discussion Wikipédia:Sondage/Installation d'un Filtre d'image) and are currently also airing your views on wikipedia review. Issues like this have arisen in real life and various experts on Islamic art seem not to agree with your stance. As a recent example, Thomas P. Campbell, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said in June about the Museum's decision to display images of the Prophet in the new Islamic gallery: “We hope that it does not become a lightning-rod issue. These are not 20th-century cartoons setting out to be confrontational. They’re representative of a great tradition of art. ... We could duck [this issue], but I don’t think it would be the responsible thing to do. Then we’d just be accused of ducking it.” [4] Mathsci (talk) 21:28, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
Surely an art exhibition, designed to showcase tons of art, is very different from our aim of creating a set of images that aid the understanding of the reader? Chipmunkdavis (talk) 21:47, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
It depends. In the case of the Met, I assume that the Islamic collection is designed to educate the US public on aspects of the Islamic world. In addition, I also assume that in post-9/11 New York they are sensitive to causing offense. There are also other accounts, e.g. these essays by Islamic scholars Timothy Winter [5] and Omid Safi [6]. Mathsci (talk) 23:05, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
You make it sound as though it were a crime to support something on-wiki that the Wikimedia Foundation Board thinks is a good idea. --JN466 09:54, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Beyond Tarc's comment, this article is not about Islamic art. It is about a historical individual. Resolute 19:55, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • I had a similar debate with Griswaldo (article on religion or biography on a person who happens to be a religious figure). Besides disagreeing with me, he advised me that I am "sorely out of (my) depth here"[7] and my comments are "that much more ignorant".[8] There are others who seem to hold a similar view (sans the "interesting" comments against those who disagree). This of course means one of the most important basis's for determining how to handle the images is being disputed by others. And thus, this problem will continue since not even a major basis for things can be agreed upon. ROBERTMFROMLI | TK/CN 20:33, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
  • NOTCENSORED, as an element of WP:NOT, ought not "protect content" of any sort. Encyclopedic content should stand on its own merits as such. Unencyclopedic poop should be deprecated on its own demerits as such. NOTCENSORED, as an element of WP:NOT, ought to serve primarily as a warning to readers that they may not like what they see, and secondarily as an admonition to contributors that not liking what you see is not a criterion for inclusion or exclusion. ~ Ningauble (talk) 15:41, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment: As I said above, I don't like that our only choices here were to say "NOTCENSORED does not protect incidental material" or "NOTCENSORED does protect incidental material". That sounds like a logical fallacy to me, as disagreeing with one statement does not imply or assume agreement with the other, and I worry that wording the issue in this leading way may lead to false results.As for the proposal, I don't like the subjective use of "incidental", the examples given as supposedly incidental, and I think that, if accepted, all this proposal will get us is arguments about whether something is incidental or not. MsBatfish (talk) 11:35, 5 December 2011 (UTC)


  • What is our working definition of "incidental material"? SDY (talk) 01:16, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Anything that irritates Ludwigs2.—Kww(talk) 01:17, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
Maybe it means material that causes a lot of incidents. --FormerIP (talk) 01:44, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
FormerIP: Exactly - which is what Kww just said above you. ;-) Smile Ludwigs2, this may be a joke. ROBERTMFROMLI | TK/CN 02:25, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • I would define incidental material as material that adds practically no educational value to an article, but is just being included because it is related to the subject. All those examples of "non-representative" artwork in the comments section are far from incidental. Monty845 02:39, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • I agree, but even if you define incidental that way, who gets to decide whether something adds any value or not? We would likely just get more arguing over whether a particular item added value to an article. MsBatfish (talk) 11:39, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Agreed: I added a comment above to show the true effect, even though the goals may be to censor only those particular articles. The RfC is biased in implying, from the start, that there is no value to the images. But that was expected (which is why on the Muhammad Images talk page, we wouldn't agree to this RfC proposal). Best, ROBERTMFROMLI | TK/CN 02:42, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Serious comment though: Ludwigs2, I thank you for finally taking this to the correct venue. It is much appreciated (at least by me). ROBERTMFROMLI | TK/CN 02:26, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • What is this, an RfC on if we've stopped beating our wives? Ludwigs loaded the RfC question, i.e. "That being said, does NOTCENSORED also protect controversial content that adds little or no value to the article?" He has staked a position at Talk:Muhammad/images that has garnered precious little support, that images of Muhammed are of no value to the article. Tarc (talk) 03:31, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
The point of this is to allow discussion about whether material is incidental or not. There's no hard and fast rule; I trust editors can work it out. however, we need to stop the use of nontcensored as a hard and fast rule that protects every image no matter how stupid it might be.
Frankly, I'm just tired of trying to discuss this issue and getting jumped on by fanatics who have their teeth sunk into NOTCENSORED. it just produces a whole lot of dumb arguments. --Ludwigs2 15:30, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
If you're tired of discussing the issue, feel free to find something else to do. The principle of "not censored" is perfectly applicable to content that religious fundamentalism wants to remove from the project. All this is is an endaround a consensus that you do not like. Tarc (talk) 19:57, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
Ludwigs2: This is not about whether the material is incidental or not. You imply as fact that it is, and ask if it should be removed under policy. And the underlying reasons are once again because you believe we should adhere to religious beliefs.[9][10][11] Each time you try to tack on whatever handy rationale you think might appease some - but the one consistency is you wish (as you've stated) all images to be removed[12] to not offend/to honor religious beliefs. Oh, and this time I provided diffs to your words. So, don't bother wasting your time claiming I'm attacking you or misportraying your motives (or I'll add a half dozen more diffs to each). ROBERTMFROMLI | TK/CN 20:05, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose all poll options since question is flawed. None of the 3 examples are purely incidental and no particular definition of incidental-ness is stipulated. --Cybercobra (talk) 11:15, 5 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Agree. MsBatfish (talk) 11:39, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment I agree strongly with the sentiment, but supporting the "NOTCENSORED protects" position is the appropriate response, since it's policy and consensus already, and policy doesn't change by whim.; this entire RfC is a bunch of pointless noise. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 18:52, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

Defining incidental

SDY had a good question about what counts as "incidental" material. Let's start at one extreme, and see if we can walk back to a reasonable definition:

Imagine that the article is Automobile, in a section about different types of vehicles. An editor wants to replace an existing picture showing a sports car with another picture showing a similar sports car with a naked woman walking past it (e.g., perhaps the snapshot was taken at a nudist facility).

Can we all agree that:

  1. such an image would count as potentially offensive material for the purposes of NOTCENSORED;
  2. that the nudity serves no educational purpose (for that article); and
  3. the image deserves no special protection under NOTCENSORED.

Does anyone disagree? Does anyone think that NOTCENSORED requires us to prefer the image that happens to contain both a nude woman and a sports car over the image that shows a sports car but no humans? WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:05, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

This is obvious, yes. But I think that as we "work backward," we will restrict ourselves to only some lines of thinking and not others. We can't hope to cover all possible shades of gray, and certainly not from all perspectives. I don't think we can expect to define "incidental" material for all topics, all at once, since really it is up to an expert on a given topic to decide whether something is incidental. In the case of the car, I'm sure everyone would agree you need do no original research to decide the nude woman adds nothing to your understanding of automobiles. But when it comes to our famous example above, it appears that, depending on the expert whose work you consult, certain cartoons will be declared "incidental" or not, and so it would be impossible to declare something incidental without doing some level of so-called "original research." Divergentgrad (talk) 18:53, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
Was this contribution irrelevant? I feel my idea has been ignored. If my point is no good, it would at least be educational for me to know why. Divergentgrad (talk) 23:34, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

WhatamIdoing, all other things about those two theoretical pictures being equal, it is simple enough to choose the picture that illustrates the subject best. You don't need any policy changes for that; just read Wikipedia:IMAGE#Pertinence and encyclopedic nature. ¶ Here's a tougher example. Assume we only have one rare automobile picture (say a prototype) which has bikini clad (or even topless) girl centrally posing with it (so that clipping her out of the image would be noticeable to the viewer). What would you prefer our putative policy on incidentally objectionable material recommend in this case? ASCIIn2Bme (talk) 20:59, 6 November 2011 (UTC)

ASCII, the issue here is that we occasionally do have people say that removing such an image is pure censorship, even when we have unobjectionable options available. That's the problem Ludwigs is trying to deal with: a needlessly offensive picture, being defended as something that requires more than the ordinary reasons to replace it with something else—as in, it's not good enough to just use your editorial judgment and treat it like any other picture, e.g., the way you would decide between a photograph of the car vs a photograph of the car with a clothed person.
The WMF will generally not allow people to post pictures of a topless girl in that instance. Did you perhaps mean a topless adult woman? WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:11, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
Re: "we occasionally do have people say that removing such an image is pure censorship. That's the problem Ludwigs is trying to deal with". Absolutely not. Just look at the examples Ludwigs2 gave: Muhammad depictions, etc. His idea of incidental is very different from mine or yours. And let's not engage in hair splitting here. I used "girl" generically; assume she is of legal age for porn shoots in Florida. ASCIIn2Bme (talk) 21:16, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
Actually, WhatamiIdoing, that's not what Ludwigs2 is attempting to address at all. If he was, I might even try to figure out a way to support wording that would. What he is attempting to do is incorporate religious sensitivity in Wikipedia editorial policy. That's a very bad thing to be fighting for, and I can't foresee any time where I would support it.—Kww(talk) 21:21, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
Kww - you really have no idea what I'm trying to do, and what you just said was patently idiotic nonsense. I swear...
Defining 'incidental material' is fairly easy in principle (though as I write this I'm beginning to think that 'gratuitous' is a better word):
  • Images of things which are not described in the article text are incidental
  • Images which can be moved, removed or replaced without changing the meaning of a section of the article are incidental
So, if your car-with-nude-model image is the only image we have and we deem it necessary for the article to have an image of the car, then the image is protected; but if we have another image without a nude model, then the first image can be replaced without changing the meaning of the article, so it becomes incidental. that doesn't mean it necessarily will be removed, only that NOTCENSORED does not apply and we can have a discussion about removing it.
Kww's meaningless noise aside, the point here is not to remove every controversial image that doesn't meet some preset criteria, but merely place a lower-limit on the application of NOTCENSORED so that we don't get tangled in these pissy wars over tangential images that really don't help build the article much at all. We can solve these kinds of disputes IF we can talk about them; the goal here is to preclude editors from beating us over the head with policy to keep those conversations from happening. --Ludwigs2 21:52, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
Given the origins of this discussion, I don't think Kww's comment counts as "meaningless noise" at all. Perhaps you're simply not the right person to drive this one forward. Nomoskedasticity (talk) 22:24, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
I strongly disagree with that definition of incidental. Applying that definition to Obama, the infobox picture of the president, File:Official portrait of Barack Obama.jpg would be incidental to the article, as the sitting for that photo is not discussed in the article, and it could be removed without changing the meaning of the article. Any image that is REALLY incidental should be removed for not adding to the article, regardless of censorship. Monty845 22:33, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
Ludwigs2, sometimes it is hard to take you seriously. Are you denying that you consider religious objections to be worthy of consideration by Wikipedia editors? Have I not been explicit in saying that I think to do so is fundamentally wrong? What part of my "meaningless noise" said anything much different?—Kww(talk) 22:53, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
Kww: I will AGF that you actually believe that statement. however, as I have said many, many, many times, this is not about religion for me (any more than the same argument on Pregnancy or was about nudity). For me, this is about NPOV and ethics: about not using images that offend out readers without some good encyclopedic reason to do so. Frankly, I am baffled by the fact that you don't instantly accept this. It wouldn't surprise me more if we went out ballroom dancing and you start flailing around like you're in a mosh pit. I've got nothing against moshing, mind you, but trying to carry that 'if you get hurt you shouldn't have come here' attitude into wikipedia's editing practices is bizarre. or so it seems to me.
I don't see that we lose anything that matters to the encyclopedia by showing a little common courtesy where we can. you seem to see common courtesy as some infectious form of radical censorship. that position is just such a complete non-sequitor to me that I cannot even fathom why you would hold. maybe if you could explain that to me we could get somewhere. --Ludwigs2 23:27, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the religious objections of a billion Muslims and the religious objections of three remote tribespeople are precisely and absolutely equal, because popularity has nothing to do with whether an objection is valid, and neither side's objection has any merit that a secular encyclopedia can evaluate. Taking one into account without taking the other into account is morally abhorrent. The only way to treat them both equally is to disregard them both, and that is precisely what we have to do. By any measure that is relevant to an encyclopedia, the images of Mohammed are not controversial at all. I'm not worried that your stance will result in massive censorship, I'm worried that your stance will result in highly selective censorship favoring some large groups, which is a more damaging result by far.—Kww(talk) 23:36, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
and there we have the central flaw in your belief structure, where you say: "the only way to treat them both equally is to disregard them both." You've committed yourself to a scorched earth policy that denies the interests and feelings of our readers, but for what purpose? I could see this kind of rigid resistance if - say - we somehow had an actual life-drawing of Muhammad. Heck, if we had an actual image of the prophet I'd be pitching in right beside you against those billion Muslims. But we're talking about non-representative artwork from a particular historical period that is of no direct relevance to this particular article - what's in here that is so important that it requires this intensity of resistance?
You and I both know the answer to that: you are standing on a principle. it's a good principle, too - wikipedia should not be censored - but like any good thing too much of it is bad. If you cannot draw the line anywhere except "absolutely not, never" then you condemn yourself and the rest of us to endless amounts of pointless fighting. On the other hand, if you show a little common courtesy on cases like this (where the gain to the page is so minor that it's really not worth it) you will find that it becomes easier to stand up for the principle where it really matters. --Ludwigs2 00:04, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
"You've committed yourself to a scorched earth policy that denies the interests and feelings of our readers" - The interests and feelings of which readers? Do you actually think they all feel the same way? That they all feel the same as you do? If that was the case, why do you think you are finding so much resistance? Besides, as I have pointed out repeatedly, "we" have already shown more than enough common courtesy. We have agreed to more than enough compromises. That you choose to ignore these facts reveals that negotiating with you is worthless, because you have shown that you will not accept anything other than exactly what you want. Resolute 00:10, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
In the end, principles are the only thing worth fighting for.—Kww(talk) 00:22, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
@Resolute: You keep mistaking me for someone who wants to achieve a particular result, when in fact I am someone who wants to have an open discussion. I disagree with your assessment (I don't believe this is a matter of 'compromise' but rather a matter of 'encyclopedic balance'. If the images don't help the article at all (as I believe) then why would we compromise with someone who wants to use them? You believe they have value, prove it to me, and then we'll start talking balance. And please note, I already suggested to you how the images could be retained meaningfully (with a section dedicated to discussing them). You chose to reject that approach, so now you have to justify their value on your own.
@Kww: that is something I can agree with - I have my own principles, as I have said repeatedly. You want to eliminate the principles I stand on; I only want to place some moderate restrictions on yours. who's being more reasonable? --Ludwigs2 01:29, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Giving weight to religious sensitivities is not a moderate restriction on my principles, Ludwigs2. It's gutting them. If we were having a "reasonableness" contest, I'm confident I would prevail.—Kww(talk) 01:53, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Really!?! let's have one then - how shall we set the rules? I'll skip the fact that you've (again) implied my position is religious. As far as I can see the two extremes in this battle are (A) denying all 'sensibilities' (as you put it) and (Z) giving in to all 'sensibilities'. You're firmly ensconced at extreme A, while I'm on the Aish side of the median (remember, all I'm asking is that we allow discussion about these sensibilities for images that are not clearly necessary for the article). how is your position more reasonable than mine? --Ludwigs2 03:03, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Ludwigs, we'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who is less reasonable than you, as you persist in the same intellectual dishonesty every time you post. You have no right to claim "not clearly necessary for the article" as if it were fact. Many editors here have opined that the images are quite clearly necessary. You argue from the tiny, tiny, minority POV that thy are not. Tarc (talk) 03:08, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
ok, that just made me laugh. Tarc, you're losing your character assassination touch. I'd say you need to practice more, but that's clearly not true. having a rough day? --Ludwigs2 03:19, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Ahh, the famous river defense. You've tried to hang your hat on various ways to save the poor Muslims from having to look at pictures they don't like...WMF resolutions that don't apply, broadsides against WP:NOTCENSORED, "incidental images", argumentum ad Jimboem...and not a single one has really set the world on fire. I can imagine the frustration when someone just knows they're right and the world is a bunch of blind buffoons (never happened to me personally, but I have an awfully good imagination), but that doesn't really excuse making demonstrably false accusations here. I told you awhile ago that image removal would simply never happen; here we are, no closer to your goal. Isn't it about time to wind this down? Tarc (talk) 03:36, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Ridiculous… --Ludwigs2 03:48, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Ludwigs2, one part of this is getting beyond frustrating: what word do you want me to use for taking the religious objections of Muslims into account? I don't care what your religious beliefs are, and I haven't accused you of attempting to preserve your own, but I don't see how you can argue about millions of upset Muslims on one hand and then deny that you want to modify Wikipedia guidelines to take their religious beliefs into account on the other.—Kww(talk) 05:13, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Kww: it doesn't make a lot of difference which word you use - 'sensibilities' is fine, 'offense' is fine. I would prefer if you avoid personalization - and religion - and merely talked about controversial material, but... the problem is not with the word chosen, but with the efforts to squelch whatever-it-is in such an absolutist and uncompromising manner. You've decided that every personal and cultural preference that disagrees with your personal and cultural preferences is ipso facto an act of censorship, insist that such are not to be allowed any leeway of any sort under any circumstances, and are willing to fight tooth-and-nail over the most trivial manifestations of it in order to enforce you viewpoint. To me you look no different than the people you oppose, even down to your unceasing efforts to assert your extreme position as a norm.
I don't care one whit about religion: and by that I mean that I'm not here to support fundamentalist forms of Islam or the kind of militant secularism that you're pushing. I'm trying to get you all to settle down and use some common sense. You're locked into a battle over an issue that is of no consequence to that article whatsoever and making worlds of trouble over something that will not improve the encyclopedia in any significant way. it's ridiculous, and I don't 'get' why you don't see how ridiculous it all is. --Ludwigs2 15:04, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
We are using common sense; that you disagree with others does not mean that they are being illogical. For most here, common sense informs that we do not take into account a religious-based opposition to image portrayal. Removing the images deprives others of information about the subject; it is simply not an acceptable trade-off to appease a religious concern and short-shrift everyone else. I realize that this is yet another tangent you disagree on, i.e. images are unimportant to the article, but you are in the clear minority on that point-of-view as well. Tarc (talk) 16:08, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
There is no mistaking you, Ludwigs. You want a specific result, and we're now into week two or three of your inability to accept that you won't get it. As to your suggestion of a depictions section, first, the argument that I (personally) reject it is unfounded. Second, the very fact that you are not arguing an equal lack of value to the calligraphy and other means of depicting Muhammad, and that you are not arguing as vehemently that they do not belong in any spot but a depictions section reveals the hypocrisy of your position. This is not, and never has been, about the "value" an image has. This has always been about images you don't like. I don't need to prove to you that the images have value because you have closed your mind and have shown you will move the goalposts as far as you need. I need only for the community to support my view, an consensus remains with me. Resolute 15:03, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

Images which can be moved, removed or replaced without changing the meaning of a section of the article are incidental. This would be impossible to make sense of or apply in practice. Any image in an article contributes to its meaning. This is true even in the case of images that are unencyclopaedic. A childish drawing of a giant spunking cock in the article on Robert Kilroy-Silk, for example, ought to be removed if someone is really insisting. But there is no denying that the meaning of the article would thereby be changed. And the idea that an image is incidental if it can reasonably be moved within the article just seems odd. --FormerIP (talk) 22:41, 6 November 2011 (UTC)

FormerIP, Monty: you are both thinking in exaggerated terms. We do not need NOTCENSORED to make the argument that there should be an image of Obama on his article - whether or not you consider the image 'incidental', there is no real reason to remove it. This whole discussion only applies to 'controversial' images where there is that added factor to be taken into consideration. And if a controversial image adds nothing to the topic of the article (what does a 'giant spunking cock' have to do with RKS?) then removing it does not change the meaning of the article in any real way. remember, 'meaning' in this sense is determined by its encyclopedic use, not by the personal meanings that editors might attach to the image.
Again, there is no way to make editors use common sense if they do not wish to. however, what we can do is try to keep policy from being used in ways that violate common sense.
Nomoskedasticity: your opinion is ill-considered. If Kww et al can only argue their side of the debate by making up cheap lies about my opinions and attitudes then I can't really stop them, but I can't respect them for it either. I don't mind if they criticize my behavior - sometimes my behavior is quite worthy of criticism, this I know, so that's justified - but their efforts at Geraldo-style psychologism are seriously worthy of contempt. if they cannot be sincere enough to deal with me fairly, then what use are they except to fill the page with bile?
I don't care who takes the lead on this - anyone who wants to lead, go for it! I'll speak my mind on the issues either way. --Ludwigs2 23:07, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
Regarding the Obama picture(s) and "there is no real reason to remove it". But think of the racists and white supremacists! Many of them will surely be offended to see a picture of an African American sitting in the presidential office, signing bills, etc. ASCIIn2Bme (talk) 23:21, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
And if there are racists and white supremacists who want to make that argument, please, let them. I'll make popcorn and sell tickets. There is nothing in policy that would support that position, and quite a lot that could be leveraged to oppose it.
You really don't get it , ASCII - I'm happy to let anyone make a content argument on wikipedia (safe in the assumption that policy and editorial judgment can handle whatever weirdness gets thrown at us). what I'm trying to do here is forestall a quirk of policy that is leveraged to suppress content arguments. We don't need NOTCENSORED to protect that image of Obama, because we have far better arguments that will do the job. We also don't need editors using NOTCENSORED to plaster controversial images wherever they like for no readily apparent reason. discrimination, please. --Ludwigs2 23:41, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
If you put it that way, I have to ask you: are you personally offended by depictions of Muhammad in that Wikipedia article? ASCIIn2Bme (talk) 01:00, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Why would that matter? But in fact, I'm not personally offended: I'm not a dualist, so religious squabbles over iconography strike me as silly. But by the same token (that I'm not a dualist) I see no particular reason to snub religious beliefs. Frankly, I think all religions are charmingly daft; I love the ritual and respect the beliefs, and think that all religions would be wonderful assets to humanity except that some people get so OCD about defending or attacking them. it's even worse now that secularism has become so prominent - hard-nosed secularists are just as bad in their way as religious zealots.
I got into this dispute because I assumed that people simply hadn't thought through the ramifications of their acts, and that a bit of discussion and refocusing would unwind the nonsense and let common sense happen. One of these days I'll learn better than to expect things like that, and on that day I suppose I'll leave the project forever. --Ludwigs2 01:19, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
On an argument that has gone on for years the assumption is people don't understand ramifications of what they are doing? The only ramification I can identify is that people feel offended by things they see on based on religious grounds. The pictures are perfectly suited and hold the same value as any other religious leaders in similar circumstances. Tivanir2 (talk) 22:38, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
With one possible exception, I think we all have a pretty good grasp of "irrelevant" at this point in the discussion: If some kid spams a penis picture—or a butterfly picture, or a picture of Queen Elizabeth—into Algebra, we revert it as vandalism and go about the rest of today's work. We don't say the butterfly picture is irrelevant and should be removed, but the equally off-topic penis picture has to stay so we can show off what a cool, not-censored kind of place Wikipedia is.
But let's get back to the (at least mostly) relevant pictures: Would anyone here actually defend an image of a sports car with a nude person standing next to it, if an image without a nude person is available? Does anyone think that choosing the zero-nudity-containing image actually violates this policy? (I didn't think this was such a difficult question, but nobody seems to be willing to answer it...) WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:28, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
No. That doesn't have much relationship to the issues being discussed, though.—Kww(talk) 05:13, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
I agree that it doesn't have much relationship to the example that dominates this discussion, but I think Mohammed is a relatively poor example for the actual question, which is how we should address the over-invocation of NOTCENSORED by people who are trying to include "controversial content that adds little or no value to the article" (=the words from the RFC question).
So what counts "controversial content that adds little or no value to the article"? You and I agree that a car with a naked person standing next to it provides nothing educational to the reader (on the subject of automobiles, vs an image without a naked person).
Can we fairly generalize that particular example to a statement along the lines of "Pictures including naked humans, when the article is not about nudity, sexuality, or medical conditions" (and possibly other categories; feel free to suggest expansion)? WhatamIdoing (talk) 14:48, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

Note recent addition to the offensive-material guideline

[13]. Not discussed it seems, but probably not very controversial. With 500 guidelines on the English Wikipedia, the advantage is always on the legislator's side when it comes to finding something that isn't watched much. ASCIIn2Bme (talk) 12:32, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

I think that's a constructive addition. It makes the essential point (we don't practice censorship) while cautioning against abuse of "we don't practice censorship". Nomoskedasticity (talk) 12:53, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
I'd tend to agree. I think all in all our policies and guidelines and such work quite well, the problem is when problematic editors try to make the policy fit where it isn't meant to, or use to to address every little thing every one may possibly find offensive. Tarc (talk) 13:52, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
It looks sensible to me. It might need a little copy editing, but the point is valid, and well illustrated. AndyTheGrump (talk) 14:15, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

Reports of single studies

I don't know if this comment belongs in this section or elsewhere, but I think it needs to be addressed: It seems to me that Wikipedia is not a place to list the results of individual academic studies.

Sometimes an article will include something like "Well-documented academic study A discovered X.", with a proper citation of A. 'A' is often a single not-particularly-notable study, but it is used to justify the mention of 'X' in the article. Sometimes editors will back this claim up with something like "Researcher B also discovered X, as did researcher C." This is kind of like original research, in that it attempts to synthesize a conclusion by citing one or more studies that seem to lead to it, rather than by citing a synthesis made by others.

IMHO, stuff like this doesn't really belong in an encyclopedia, but I don't see it handled in any of our guidelines. The phenomenon appears extensively in Minimum wage, where numerous individual studies are cited to make a point. It's also going on in the Health subsection of Yerba mate.

In case I haven't been clear above, a situation sometimes arises where the results of a single academic study are included in an article to make a point. The study is sometimes not at all notable, but WP:NOTE and WP:UNDUE don't apply, since they concern articles, not claims in articles. Lou Sander (talk) 16:40, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

Oops! I just read WP:UNDUE, and it DOES apply to claims, rather than whole articles. My bad. Lou Sander (talk) 17:01, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

I don't think this is something for NOT, because sometimes citing single studies is appropriate. It think it is something that falls under UNDUE. But I would agree that it is something that it would be good to have better guidance on. Incidentally, we have some actual articles on single studies, which is something I think it might be a good idea to address. --FormerIP (talk) 16:46, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
I'd disagree with putting this in the policy for two reasons. (Well, actually, three reasons, but the third is that I consider more rules an inherently negative proposition so I'm not counting it.) First is that it discourages the organic growth of pages. The core of the collaborative building process of an article --particularly an article on a lesser-known subject-- is the addition of information one piece at a time. Editor A writes a stub about a topic, Editor B adds the results of a study, Editor C adds the results of another study, and so on down the line until Editor Q decides that the article is in a good state in terms of breadth of information and rewrites the page into a coherent description of the topic based on the collected facts. Banning single-study additions is essentially requiring the page to make the leap straight to Editor Q, and while that can happen, it's a rare occurrence. Put another way, Wikipedia has always been an organization that thrives on long tail effects: we have many people doing a little writing, and few people doing a lot of writing. The second group may be the source of our best content, but the first group is the source of a whole ton of good content. Raising the entry bar by requiring everyone prove their statements are backed up by not just one but many scholarly studies would wreak havoc on that dynamic. The second is that writing our policies around the edge cases rather than for the average article violates the very principle that created WP:UNDUE to begin with: it obscures the key message by damaging the signal-to-noise ratio. Putting a digression on the (mis)use of single studies in articles into NOT because it can be crucial in the case of some contentious issues is a bad idea for the same reason that speed limit signs don't start off by listing "maximum speed for vehicles with tread depth worn beyond manufacturer recommendations". --erachima talk 09:23, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

Brief request for editors familiar with this policy

Can those familiar with this policy please take a gander at Doctor of Business Administration? Either it violates this policy or I am grossly misunderstanding this policy and I'd like to know which is the case. Thanks! ElKevbo (talk) 14:12, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

  • I don't see anything there that's a major WP:NOT violation. Yes, the article is poorly worded and needs cleanup, but it looks notable. What specific part of WP:NOT were you thinking of? Thryduulf (talk) 20:03, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
    In parts it's written like a HOWTO. That's often an indication of a copyvio. But i guess the request was about this. Hans Adler 20:47, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
    Yes, that revision was a clear WP:NOT failure. Thryduulf (talk) 00:57, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that was my area of concern. I didn't want to poison the well in my original request for help; apologies if it ended up being too vague. ElKevbo (talk) 01:14, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
To be fair, I think the confusion was partly my fault, as I saw your question and instantly deleted the content because it is very clearly a breach of 'not a directory'. --Cameron Scott (talk) 08:15, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

NOTCENSORED: Animal mating footage debate

FYI: This is a pointer to a relevant discussion on another talk page.

The alleged issue of whether is can be encyclopedic to include a video (or even a still image) of animal mating behavior has been raised at Talk:Cat#Mating behavior video vs. still photo. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 18:37, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

New section: Wikipedia is not a jokebook

Not that people are being silly on Wikipedia, but that stuff really belongs on Uncyclopedia. See a new subpage of my userpage (which will be up soon) for a draft of this section.


The Doctahedron, 14:30, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

Note that there are several places where jokes are appropriate:
1) In an article about a particular form of humor, examples are needed.
2) Jokes that are notable should be included, like those which are used during a Presidential debate. In another example, there's Reagan's bad joke: "I've just declared the Soviet Union illegal, we start bombing in 5 minutes.".
3) On people's home pages, and to some extent on other talk pages, jokes are OK, especially if relevant to the discussion. They can make talk about improving an article more fun and less like work, hopefully resulting in more progress. StuRat (talk) 16:46, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
Of course. A little humor is fine, but it's not the purpose of Wikipedia. See User talk: is not a jokebook. (The content of said page may be transcluded into this article.) Cheers, The Doctahedron, 17:10, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
I see no need to mention anything like this. It sounds like WP:BEANS. also we might have to remove articles like Conservapedia ;-) Dmcq (talk) 20:17, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
I've seen humour used very successfully a few times by one or more protagonists to defuse "intense" Discussions on article Talk pages. I certainly endorse, even encourage, its use that way. HiLo48 (talk) 23:20, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
This page provide important guidance on exclusions which are important-to-make and categorical enough to make such rules. I don't see where humor meets either of those much less both of them. North8000 (talk) 00:29, 31 December 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information

A bullet point needs adding to this section (WP:INDISCRIMINATE), along the lines that Wikipieda should not contain associations that are not encyclopaedic. For example all the months that have the letter "r" in the name, or all the military units that wear black boots (or some other similar item of clothing), or every town that has a street called Acacia Avenue, Etc etc, unless there is an encyclopaedic reason to do so backed by several reliable sources. -- PBS (talk) 10:57, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

I agree on the indiscriminate information. But why can't we allow comprehensive information about certain topics. One such case is the character of Jeff Murdock from Coupling. He brings a wealth of information about the show through his character alone but his individual character page was deleted a while back because of notability issues. Now I just want to clear something up and am merely using the previous situation as an example of where some of my disconnect with Wikipedia's goals comes from but I have only a few simple questions. If one of you heavy-hitting editors could appease my inquisitive nature, I would be most appreciative. Was Wikipedia set up to be a comprehensive database of information on a plethora of topics, subjects, events, people, and places? If not, than what use is Wikipedia if we can't have such comprehensive information? And if Wikipedia isn't the place for such comprehensive information then what place would be the right site for such enormous quantities of valid, reliable, verifiable, and comprehensive about those unquantifiable amounts of subjects? I apologize if I sound as coming off rude, I just want to clear up any misconceptions about what Wikipedia's goals are and if it's ambition for comprehensive information about everything this universe has to offer matches up with mine and if not, where I can find a place similar to this one that does. I thank anyone who has taken the time to read this and doubly thank anyone who actually responds. Thank you very much.
--スミス ナサニアル (talk) 06:37, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
Hi, スミス ナサニアル. Just dropped by to research prices in articles and read your post. My personal answer would be that although Wikipedia is a repository for some pretty random information, there are some sound guidelines that help editors figure out where the boundaries lie, and although the Ignore All Rules policy exists, it is meant to be used sparingly and in specific cases. The greatest barrier I see to implementing the vision you have is Reliable Sources. There are plenty of obscure facts that just can't be documented, even if they're known to be true by a handful of people. I just ran across a few edits made by an IP editor that I had grave doubts about. My doubts were aggravated by the fact that the IP addrsss had been used to overtly vandalize articles in the past. I started the painstaking process of researching the innocuous but unreferenced "facts" when a more knowledgeable editor stepped, reverted the edits, and blocked the account. Wikipedia can only work for as long as people can come here and expect to find reliable information. If the project expands beyond what can be easily and clearly verified, it will stop being viable. TreacherousWays (talk) 15:59, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
I guess I used a bad example there but I guess I can see your point. Thank you very much for the insight as you have been most helpful in understanding Wikipedia policy better. You are awesome. Thanks.
スミス ナサニアル (talk) 04:07, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

Not a lyrics database

This section has always bothered me because it can be used as a rubber stamp to remove any lyrics from any page. The section is currently written as such:

Lyrics databases. Most song lyrics published after 1922 are protected by copyright, and any quotation of them must be kept to a minimum, and used for the purpose of direct commentary or to illustrate some aspect of the style. For songs in the public domain the article should not consist solely of the lyrics (Wikisource should be used for such articles instead), but should instead provide information about authorship, date of publication, social impact, and so on. Quotations from an out-of-copyright song should be kept to a reasonable length relative to the rest of the article, and used to facilitate discussion, or to illustrate the style; the full text can be put on Wikisource and linked to from the article. Never link to the lyrics of copyrighted songs unless the site linked to clearly has the right to distribute the work. See Wikipedia:Do not include the full text of lengthy primary sources for full discussion.

What is a "reasonable length"? Take for example Ring a Ring o' Roses or Mary Had a Little Lamb. The lyrics to both these are clearly the bulk of each article, but deleting half the song would be silly, as would be putting them up on Wikisource. Are they "reasonably quoted" or not? Of course, they are reasonable; they're quite short songs. But we don't know that because it is not defined what a "lengthy primary source" is.

Now, I don't expect people to go around deleting Mary Had a Little Lamb based on the ambiguity of this guideline; however, there is a user going around deleting the lyrics to every college fight song using exactly this logic and quoting this guideline as justification. Fight songs are often quite old and have notable histories, but with the lyrics removed there is no context to understand the history. For example, here is the article for Up With Montana, the 98-year old fight song of the University of Montana. Here is what it looked like before the lyrics were removed. They're clearly "used for the purpose of direct commentary"; "authorship, date of publication, and social impact" are all provided. However, the user who deleted them felt justified removing them because the short songs were quoted in their entirety and thus deemed to him as "the full text of lengthy primary source" or not a "reasonable length" or maybe thought the 9-line songs needed to be uploaded to Wikisource. I don't know, but there needs to be a clearer description of what is reasonable, or preferably have an explicit OK to the lyrics of short, historical, socially significant songs. Thank you.

Dsetay (talk) 06:08, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
  • I agree with the removal. I would have said that most articles about fight songs should be deleted or merged into the team's article as not notable independently of the amateur teams to which they belong. Including the lyrics is total overkill. Even the fight song of internationally successful and acclaimed rugby team Munster does not have one. Stifle (talk) 15:25, 30 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Agree with removal too. If they have stuff written about the words than that's fine by me. If the lyric is just stuck in because the song itself is notable then that's wrong. To that extent it isn't a lyrics database but this can be used too much by people whose only joy seems to be deleting stuff. Dmcq (talk) 18:51, 30 January 2012 (UTC)
  • The guideline seems appropriate to the vast majority of cases to me, but as with all guidelines there will be exceptions. These exceptions should be discussed and agreed on the talk page of relevant articles. If there is consensus that the article benefits from extensive lyrical quotation, then use extensive lyrical quotation and point anyone wanting to remove them at the discussion. WP:BRD applies to song lyrics in the same way it applies to other quotations and general article prose. The guideline simply makes the default to be not including extensive lyrics and thus requiring justification to have them, rather than requiring explicit justification to remove them. Thryduulf (talk) 12:58, 2 February 2012 (UTC)

Proposed move

  • "Non-disruptive statements of opinion on internal Wikipedia policies and guidelines may be made on user pages, as they are relevant to the current and future operation of the project." , is important to all policies, particularly to this policy page, and is hidden under a section, "Wikipedia is not a soapbox or means of promotion". I propose moving this information to the lead or at least to a top heading; Opinions on internal Wikipedia policies and guidelines. Otr500 (talk) 13:44, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose, while the statements can relate to every policy, guideline and process on Wikipedia, the statement that they are permitted is relevant only to explaining the limited exception to "Wikipedia is not a soapbox", and needs to be read in context with this. Do you have examples of where the relative prominence of this statement has been a problem? Thryduulf (talk) 12:49, 2 February 2012 (UTC)


Anyone want to insert "shutting down Wikipedia for a day" as an example of WP:SOAPBOX? I thought not!  :) Student7 (talk) 23:33, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Actually I think someone should add another number: 6. Unless it suits the political views of wikipedia's owners or investors. just my $0.02 USD — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:09, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

open research

i think this is a frequent confusion for newbies, who think that wikipedia can be a tool for open research. it needs to be specified. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mehmedmed (talkcontribs) 22:28, 4 February 2012 (UTC)

In the section "Wikipedia is not a publisher of original thought" we already imply that Wikipedia is not open research. Anything more on this would I think be better at Wikipedia:No original research, rather than trying to put more detail into an already detailed section of this main page. Thryduulf (talk) 17:11, 6 February 2012 (UTC)


I occasionally go through food and drink related articles and remove recipes per WP:NOTRECIPE. I'm wondering where this plays in with drinks though and have three questions.

First, I had one of my removals reverted a little bit ago. To me, this extensive list of random drink recipes featuring the alcohol is unacceptable for Wikipedia, but I wanted clarification since my edit was reverted and I don't want to inadvertently start an edit war or anything.

Second, while going through a handful of other drink articles, I noticed that some include recipes that can be cited from a book or something (example: Bacardi cocktail). I wasn't sure if I should remove them or not and ultimately decided to leave them, but I'm not sure that was the right course of action.

Third, also while perusing drink articles, I noticed a lot of them have recipes in the info box for the drink (example: Manhattan (cocktail) and pretty much any other drink article). Given that it's IBA specifications, I wasn't sure if that was ok or not so I left them. I thought the info box should just contain the ingredients (not the measurements) and a vague description of how it's made, rather than step-by-step directions.

Thanks for any clarification and help here. ICYTIGER'SBLOOD 22:12, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

I've not worked in this area at all, but my initial thoughts are that certainly detailed instructions and maybe recipes too would fall foul of WP:NOT for exactly the same reasons as how-to guides. I know that there is a Cookbook at WikiBooks, which is where recipes should go, with a sister project box link from the article. b:Bartending/Cocktails would seem the place to put detailed mixing recipes too. A specific section at WP:NOTRECIPE about recipes would seem to be a good idea to me. I'll leave a note about this at WT:FOOD and WT:MIX. Thryduulf (talk) 08:45, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
Good questions. I don't think that, for food, we should have recipes. I'm always weary of blanket statements, and there might exist cases where having a recipe is a good idea, but I can't quickly think of any. About the IBA cocktail specs, I'm cool with those, and have no problem leaving them up. The difference, is that in this case, there is a relatively undisputed authority, making it possible to let the recipe pass WP:V. This is generally not the case in food recipes. Martijn Hoekstra (talk) 10:12, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
I agree that we shouldn't have recipes. If there is an official recipe we should be able to provide link to it and just list the main ingredients. Dougweller (talk) 12:29, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

Comment on Wikipedia:NOTNEWS

Wikipedia:NOTNEWS must be the most strange guideline here, if Wikipedia is not news then why having a ITN section?--BabbaQ (talk) 18:25, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

Wikipedia:NOTNEWS actually links to "Wikipedia is not a newspaper" and has been deprecated because people were misreading the short-cut and concluding that Wikipedia does not cover subjects recently appearing in the news, which is wrong.--Pontificalibus (talk) 18:35, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
Well in my opinion some clarifications needs to be done, because as it is now that guideline is used as a reason for deletion very often on new stories.--BabbaQ (talk) 13:12, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
Because that's still actually true - we cover news events, but we aren't a newspaper, meaning not every event must be covered. That's why WP:NEVENT was created, to give guidance when to create an article on a breaking event. --MASEM (t) 13:55, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
Thing is, if you're quoting NOTNEWS you are in all likelihood unaware of NEVENT. Any deletion argument still based on "WP:NOTNEWS" should be disregarded as a matter of course. Not because the link is around six months out of date, but because the principle of automatically deleting all news is six years out of date. —WFC— 14:43, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
That's not correct: at AfD, people say "this topic is notable because of these ten links to reliable sources...". It often turns out that the ten links are all rehashes of the same news report, and many editors do not understand Wikipedia's role as an encyclopedia of notable topics. Breaking news stories are sometimes correctly covered with an immediate article because it is obvious that the event (say a major tsunami) will be of long term significance, that is, notable. However, many excited news reports fade away to nothing within a few weeks because the original issue simply was not of long term significance. Johnuniq (talk) 00:49, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
The test I apply in judging NEVENT is whether there is significant editorial content on a current event's impact in the grand scheme of things, and if there is, whether those sources have a reputation for sensationalism. From memory I think I've only ignored that principle once – on that occasion I was certain that the necessary content would materialise by the time a deletion discussion gained traction.

I digress, and I think your explanation is pretty close to the mark too. My point was simply that blind quotations of WP:NOTNEWS are useless as deletion arguments, as they incorrectly imply that all current events should be deleted on the grounds that they are news stories – that simply isn't the case. —WFC— 02:11, 13 February 2012 (UTC)

If the concern here is that people drop "DELETE - NOTNEWS" as a reason without further explanation, it's up to the keep !votes and closing admin to point out how these articles don't apply. Just citing the shortcut to a guideline/policy is not a strong reasoning point, and if its being misapplied, good rationales of keep !votes can point this out. We don't need the change here at WP:NOT to fix that. --MASEM (t) 02:25, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
A year ago, there was a trend of editors using WP:NOTNEWS in AFDs in which the subject had some connection to a news event as a way of giving their deletion argument a "steroid shot" of "policy". Since WP:NOT is marked as a "policy" while the various notability standards are marked as "guidelines" it was thought that a "policy" argument would trump any "keep" argument based on notability. A good example was this AFD. The original question was whether or not an "internet meme" was "notable" but the deletion argument was later upgraded to NOTNEWS. --Ron Ritzman (talk) 13:59, 21 February 2012 (UTC)

Wikipedia is...

The opening sentence begins "Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia..." and an editor suggested changing this to "Wikipedia is an encyclopedia..." on the grounds that "online" is just the best current technical method to achieve our ends (rather than an inherent part of our nature). I don't feel strongly either way but I'm OK with the current wording. Herostratus (talk) 03:21, 13 February 2012 (UTC)

I think the background is that while this policy has had "is an online encyclopedia" for an extended period (don't know how long), some other pages have just said "is an encyclopedia". Then someone inserted "online" in various pages, and they were reverted. I think both sides wanted consistency (all related pages to use "online" or none). See WP:5P and WP:ENC for two pages where this happened (here is WP:ENC with "online": permalink) . I do not see what "online" adds, and Wikipedia is available in not-online formats (printed books and ebooks with a fixed version of Wikipedia), so I favor omitting "online". At noticeboards, I am inclined to say "Wikipedia is an encyclopedia" to support some argument, and I would not want to be corrected with "it's only an online encyclopedia". Johnuniq (talk) 06:49, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
"Online" is very important to understanding NOT, at least in the comparison to a traditional printed or even a digitally published encyclopedia. It reflects that we can make changes instantaneously, can reach anyone with an Internet connection, and are not limited by page count or media size, among other reasons. The extension of WP in a printed form is only that - it comes from WP being first and foremost an online work. Now, the original change suggested that in X years we may have sub-ether connectivity or something else that "online" is an improper descriptor for; when we get to that bridge, we'll cross it then, but for right now , "online" is perfectly satisfactory, and necessary for distinguishing from other works. --MASEM (t) 13:29, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
Agree with Masem. This is in the direct context of "... and, as a means to that end, an online community", a connection for which the qualifier is immediately relevant. It is also useful in the context of the WP:NOT#Paper section, where it is taken up again in the form of "a digital encyclopedia project". Other pages, such as 5P or ENC, may have a different focus adapted to their different context and purpose. There is absolutely no need for the wording to be aligned across all of them. Fut.Perf. 13:49, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
Especially with the pillars, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia rather than, say, a blog or personal website. There the online format is unimportant. In the article, online is a good desriptor of Wikipedia's nature (at least currently). Chris857 (talk) 21:24, 13 February 2012 (UTC)

Proliferation of etymology cruft

Over the last few years I've seen etymology in Wikipedia expand from occasional legitimately encyclopedic uses (like explaining the origins of 'polka dot') to routine non-discriminant use throughout Wikipedia. It is now common to have etymology in lead sentences,[14] adding to the already ridiculous amount of cruft there. It is also now common for us to have enormous sections of articles devoted to the etymology of basic words. While I certainly appreciate etymology, we have an entire project devoted to covering English words and their etymology. This is an encyclopedia, not an etymology dictionary. On various occasions, I've tried to convince people to scale back on the etymology, but Wikipedia editors just love to add little "fact bits" into articles, so once the etymology has begun, people keep adding to it until it becomes another mountain of cruft (similar to trivia sections and infoboxes). Is there anything we can do to address this? I don't want to completely ban etymology from Wikipedia, just keep it at a reasonable level. Kaldari (talk) 08:19, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

I'm not sure about the solution, but the problem definitely exists. And these sections grow and grow randomly - or sometimes not randomly when they're used with poor sources to make a pov point. Dougweller (talk) 12:30, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure there is a wide-spread problem about "too much" etymology. There is a problem about "bad" etymology, and treatments calling things etymology that aren't. I share your objection against having etymologies of basic English words (where the lexicographic treatment of the word is really distinct from the encyclopedic treatment of the thing it stands for, such that the former should be relegated to the dictionary). I also share the objection against having etymology bloating lead sentences. But in the case of proper names (like your Saudi Arabia example) and for non-basic abstract concepts, where the history of the word itself is a non-trivial, legitimate part of the encyclopedic coverage of the concept (like your matriarchy example), I see nothing wrong with a well-written word history section.
What I find much more worrisome is bad etymology sections. Very often, especially with geographic names, these sections attract unsourced lay etymologies and legends. There is also often a confusion of categores ("etymology" in the proper sense is not the same thing as the history of a word or name; it's only one part of it). Fut.Perf. 12:48, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
I would agree that if there is a wikidict entry for the word, details of etymology should be shuffled there and not here. There may be some reason to keep the etymology of the origin of the word is tied very closely with how the topic is covered in an encyclopedic manner, but otherwise all details for the dictionary project. --MASEM (t) 16:40, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
Since this is WT:NOT, I doubt this is the place to try and mold practice by updating policy to prohibit current practice. I suggest writing an essay detailing the problem would be a good first step. Jclemens (talk) 04:19, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
I'm more concerned with people deleting valid information with the vague justification "it's not encyclopedic, it's cruft" personally. Here is an excellent etymology section that might never have come about if someone deleted it for being "trivial". If it's in the lead fine, if it's really excessive then okay delete it, but if it's not causing any problems then don't get rid of it because "factoids aren't professional", most of the writing that begins on Wikipedia isn't very professional, but if it has the potential to be integrated into the article in a coherent and useful manner then it's just fine to let it stay.AerobicFox (talk) 04:48, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
I'm with FP@S in that I think the only problem is bad etymologies, not detailed or extensive etymologies which may indeed be encyclopedic and useful. Binksternet (talk) 05:16, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

WP is not a sales catalogue

Don't suppose I can have the following added after Sales catalogue: "Articles should not contain lists of products with descriptions of the features." Oh, well, no, I don't suppose that is possible. Sorry about that. I should know by now that we can't change anything away from the status quo... -- Alan Liefting (talk - contribs) 09:08, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

Something along that line might be a good idea. Also individual articles on products which are mostly a list of features. A lot of these get created that need to be deleted. But wording must be careful. North8000 (talk) 09:43, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Any suggestions? -- Alan Liefting (talk - contribs) 01:19, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
Well a few thoughts on criteria that could get knitted into the wording.
  • Wkipedia is not a sales catalog.
  • Lists that consist primarily of products of one supplier should not be created
  • Articles about a product or products which consist primarily of product and product feature information taken from the sellers catalog or promotional materials should not be created
  • All other policies and guidelines apply. Note that wpnotability requires significant coverage in third party sources.
North8000 (talk) 02:33, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
Sounds good to me. Shall we do an RfD? -- Alan Liefting (talk - contribs) 02:42, 14 March 2012 (UTC)


I think WP:CENSOR is a bunch of bull and bologna. Wikipedia should be censored, meaning no explicit content in pages about songs, movies, or comics, or talk shows. However, it would be fine to say what topics the media focuses on. Also, pictures for topics like, human reproduction, childcare, and the human body are always fine, other than that, Wikipedia should be censored.

Largerthanlife147 (talk) 23:51, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

The level of censorship is up to the community as whole and there is some self censorship of sexual and religious imagery. -- Alan Liefting (talk - contribs) 09:00, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
That's your personal opinion, not supported by consensus. Wikipedia is currently not censored, and so far no consensus has been found to censor it. Seeing that (part of) the culture that spawned WP is adamantly anti-censorship, it is very unlikely that a clear consensus in favor of censorship will develop anytime soon.
That said, what you are describing is not censorship, it's merely common sense. We won't leave out pertinent information that would skew (N)POV just because it's considered strange or "inappropriate" in some quarters. On the other hand, we won't gratuitously add things to pages unless they are pertinent to the topic at hand. --Kim Bruning (talk) 14:27, 23 March 2012 (UTC)

When an article is initially created to advertise a television show, isn`t it against WP:NOTADVERTISING

a) b) c) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:42, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

TV shows can be encyclopedic topics as long as they covered in secondary sources. So there's no advertising there. --MASEM (t) 05:34, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
Ignore the IP - s/he has been forum shopping since a failed move request s/he initiated last month. Parsecboy (talk) 18:17, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

One more thing to say about "Wikipedia is not Uncyclopedia", "Wikipedia is not a jokebook" (see archive 41), etc.

Humor should only be used where appropriate, and not everyone has the same sense of humo(u)r. See User talk: is not a jokebook, a.k.a. "Wikipedia is not Uncyclopedia" (talk) 00:23, 24 March 2012 (UTC)

Does NOT#LYRICS extend to PD songs

The lyrics to Canada's national anthem, O Canada‎, are listed in that article. Is this what is meant by not including lyrics or are PD lyrics an exception or should we take this in light of WP:NPS? If so, should the policy be expanded to explain this situation. If not, could it be clearly outlined? --Walter Görlitz (talk) 05:46, 26 March 2012 (UTC)

Copyright isn't the only reason for NOT#LYRICS, though it is the strongest. In most cases, it's that there's a better place than WP for lyrics. PD lyrics can be put into the Commons or Wikisource. Putting them in WP means having secondary sources to discuss the lyrics and establish their notability. While in the case of O Canada that is not too tough, other, more obscure, PD texts can easily be stymied from WP.LeadSongDog come howl! 18:22, 26 March 2012 (UTC)

The statement at WP:NOTLYRICS that Wikipedia is not a "lyrics database" does not mean that no article should ever include song lyrics; it instead states that articles about songs should not only include lyrics, and that lyrics quotations should not be excessive in relation to the article's overall length. In any event, more meaningful and to the point than the question "What does NOTLYRICS mean" is the question "Would the encyclopedia article O Canada be better or worse without the lyrics included?" In this case, the song is public domain, it is short, and there are multiple translations that can be placed side-by-side for comparison, all of which in my view supports inclusion of the lyrics in this instance. postdlf (talk) 18:43, 26 March 2012 (UTC)

I think including full lyrics of a PD work when they are short is almost always a good idea, as it facilitates discussion about the song. Another one I ran across recently is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Dcoetzee 23:37, 26 March 2012 (UTC)
Another example where it's useful to be able to compare one set of lyrics with different variations is The Bonnie Blue Flag. —— Shakescene (talk) 04:43, 27 March 2012 (UTC)

How to tag an article needs to be included in these policy pages

I came looking for the policy on 'not a dictionary'. The 'article' title "Review" is basically one big definition of the word. So I wanted to add a tag for 'wikipedia is not a dictionary'. However I can't find it. Wikipedia seems to be hell bent on telling us what wikipedia is or isn't but makes it very hard to find ways to annotate the pages. That is unless you are very, very dedicated and memorize all the different and arcane commands and tags. I have edited many articles, and I try to do a quality job. I also like to help make the place better. But it is very hard since wikipedia makes it hard. Harder than it should.

For example, if wikipedia creates a page to describe what it is not, it should also on the SAME page have information on how to tag a page that violates these principles. Or an explicit link to that information. And that information should be one tag. ONE tag that when added to a page says 'this is not a dictionary'. I notice whenever I do have the patience to search out these things there always seems to be half a dozen ways to do the same thing. Sometimes I get so confused about which is the right one, I don't bother.

So can someone who knows the developers find an easier way to put notices up on pages. Or at least an easy way to look up how to put notices up. There seems to be ample articles telling us all about what violates policy, but trying to find how to put a notice up so that people have a chance to comment on something you see is (potentially) wrong is lacking.

Maybe a page with a list of all tag definitions in use and beside each one is a single tag like {not a dictionary}. Single tag. Does that make sense? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Theshowmecanuck (talkcontribs) 04:43, 31 March 2012 (UTC)

Tagging only improves the potential for articles. It slightly deteriorates the actual quality. Anarchangel (talk) 22:35, 1 April 2012 (UTC)

Um.... that title looks ₵enty to me. [1] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:27, 2 April 2012 (UTC)


Memorial is SYNTH, attempting to attribute a motivation to articles. A list of the dead is the very definition of a disaster or other violent event. How can anyone ever prove that an article is commemorating something by listing it? Anarchangel (talk) 20:51, 29 March 2012 (UTC)

A detailed, memorial-style list of the dead is in most cases neither necessary nor appropriate; but we get them inserted all the time. An article about a disaster or other violent event should be about the event, not about the necrology. --Orange Mike | Talk 12:42, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
Wouldn't it matter if the subjects were or were not notable? A simple count of lost souls would be sufficient and not a list of all lives lost. --Walter Görlitz (talk) 15:05, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
If a person otherwise notable is among those killed, then a mention of them is reasonable; otherwise, as you say, a simple count is more appropriate. What we're trying to do is avoid the human tendency to create a Memorial Wall/Plaque/Monument within a Wikipedia article. --Orange Mike | Talk 15:30, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

I tend to think of lists of victims as informational dead ends if none of them are notable; knowing their names does not tell you anything unless you knew them personally. If secondary sources have commented on the demographic identity of the victims (such as a plane crash in which three infants were among the passengers, a newly married couple, an entire family of seven children, three British citizens and twenty French citizens, etc.) then that may be appropriate to also note in the article. But otherwise the names are, in my view, just raw data, only meaningful to readers in the aggregate. postdlf (talk) 15:40, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

Unless, of course, the victim is a dog. Kablammo (talk) 16:40, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Talk:Trollhunter#Move to Trolljegeren?

At the light of Talk:Trollhunter#Requested move, I have started above discussion. I wonder if the previous discussion itself and its closure would violate this policy. Please feel free to discuss. --George Ho (talk) 16:11, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Proposed addition to "Wikipedia is not a soapbox or means of promotion"

I propose to add the following subsection to WP:NOT#Wikipedia is not a soapbox or means of promotion to close a potential existing loophole:

  • User advertising. Individual users may not post advertisements for products or services that they offer. Advertisements for personal gain (whether financial or benefits in kind) posted by users within existing pages, in their own user space or elsewhere on Wikipedia, may be removed by other editors. If advertisements occupy entire pages they may be dealt with by either proposed deletion or listing them on Wikipedia:Articles for deletion.

The existing "Advertising" subsection only deals with corporate advertising, i.e. adverts posted on behalf of companies offering products and services, and is ambiguous about whether it covers the issue of user advertisements. (For that reason I suggest retitling it "Corporate advertising", as separate from "User advertising".) It leaves open the possibility that a user could post Craigslist-style adverts for their own products and services within their user space. I think it would be helpful to make it clear that this isn't acceptable practice; certainly long-standing convention on Wikipedia has been to consider it unacceptable. Prioryman (talk) 07:48, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

I think it might help if you put some examples (excluding Cla68's user page) of the actual problem we are trying to solve here. Kevin (talk) 08:07, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
Would this mean I couldn't say what I do for a living on my user page? Are we trying prevent someone from putting "I write Wikipedia articles as an independent contractor. Here is a list of articles to which I have been a major contributor." or "I work for WikiFeatures, a company that writes Wikipedia articles." on their user page? That doesn't strike me as an advertisement any more than someone saying they work for IBM or Walmart or that they make theor living as a writer for hire. Jojalozzo 15:42, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
I would be worried that some stringent readers will take this approach, arguing that if advertising is not allowed, stating what you do on WP or what you're willing to help with would be called into the same block of problems as stating that you're a web designer off WP and want to sell your services. Wording can avoid that, but I think most people can recognize true advertising aimed to make money, verses advertising one's WP skillset. --MASEM (t) 15:51, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
I think there's an important different between advertising and disclosure. If you say "I work as a web designer off Wikipedia, here is my personal website", I think that would be within the limits of acceptability. Plenty of people already say on their user pages what their jobs are and link to their personal websites. Such disclosure can help with transparency in situations where conflicts of interest may arise, for instance if you work off-wiki for McDonalds but edit articles about your competitors at Burger King and Pizza Hut. That is very different from a situation where an editor puts an advertisement for personal gain on his or her user pages or elsewhere on Wikipedia, for instance: "I work as a web designer - if you want me to design a website for you I charge only $100 per hour, contact me here" or something like that. The key distinction is that you are not simply providing information about yourself, you are posting a transactional message that is intended to lead to personal monetary gain for yourself. I've reflected this distinction by adding the words "personal gain (whether financial or benefits in kind)" to the second sentence of my proposed addition. Prioryman (talk) 18:08, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

FWIW, note that the same prohibition (more or less) is being extensively debated via a RFC at Wikipedia talk:User pages#Request for comment - Advertising on user pages - it's a guideline rather than a policy there, but the changes would amount to almost exactly the same as the proposed change above. I strongly recommend participating there and/or waiting for the end of that RFC before changing this page, as otherwise we're in danger of having policies which explicitly disagree with each other. Andrew Gray (talk) 22:58, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

Hmm. I wasn't aware of that RfC; thanks for flagging it up. Bear in mind that policies take precedence over guidelines. If we're looking at a standard which editors must follow – which the "no advertising" rule has been up to this point – it needs to be encapsulated as a mandatory policy rather than a merely advisory guideline. Prioryman (talk) 23:05, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
Mmm - I think that discussion is effectively one about changing policy, and it would be best to alter WP:NOT to conform with whatever it decides - but we should avoid jumping the gun either way, if only to prevent this policy influencing that RFC! Andrew Gray (talk) 18:02, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

Acute usefulness

I know that wikipedia is NOTMANUAL and I agree that it shouldn't be. But I think we should be able to make a few exceptions for the most common urgent emergency situations. I was surprised to find out that our article about Heart attack doesn't even have a "First aid" section, much less a First aid article for it. I found out that there used to be a (badly written) article First Aid for Asthma, which now redirects to Asthma and First Aid for Bleeding, which now redirects to First aid. But in both cases these articles contain no practical first aid information whatsoever.
I cannot imagine that there is no properly sourced material about the common first aid practices for most acute problems like heart attack, epilepsy, asthma and so on. Then why are they not mentioned in a section of our articles (or in a standalone article)? I can imagine a case where a daughter looks up "heart attack" on wikipedia while waiting for the doctor after her father has dropped to the floor. All she finds is a very technical article that says nothing about first aid. By the time she figures out that first aid instructions are on wikihow, daddy has passed away already...
WP has completely useless and long articles like Justin Bieber on Twitter, but most useful information like first aid instructions seems to be banned from its pages. That shouldn't be, there are cases where we should be able to brush aside our "rules" on the basis of "acute usefulness". MakeSense64 (talk) 07:04, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

An open wiki giving medical advice? Do you know how much legal fallout could result from that if it is wrong? (This is not the first time this has come up, and why I believe even one of the standard disclaimers warns that medical advice that you may happen to find here should be considered non-legit). And besides, if you have a loved one suffering a medical emergency, looking up information on Wikipedia is the absolutely wrong approach. That's what 911 (or your country's equivalent) is for; they know the proper advice to give for such. --MASEM (t) 14:02, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict) The short answer is liability. We are not competent to give medical advice, emergency or otherwise. Can you imagine the fallout if someone vandalized a page (which happens all the time) and a reader followed that advice but ended up killing the father in your hypothetical? Or if the advice is outdated (the standards for CPR, for example) seem to change constantly) and someone follows an old version? That's not our job and not our risk to take. If you want first aid advice, go to the Red Cross page, your local fire department, or even to the Boy Scouts. That's way outside our scope. Rossami (talk) 14:06, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
Then how does wikiHow avoid that liability: [15]? Pages can be protected, and at the very least we could include an easily visible external link to a high quality webpage with first aid recommendations for the given illness. People in panic try the first thing that comes to mind, and just going to the Red Cross website doesn't mean you have found first aid advice already. Some will try an encyclopedia/wikipedia, thinking that it will give them at least a good direct link to useful information. But our article doesn't even put a link to first aid advice. That's a shame. MakeSense64 (talk) 14:54, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
First, WikiHow is not run by the Foundation, so the liability concerns are far different. Secondly, WikiHow has a similar disclaimer in their Terms of Use: We make no guarantee or warranty that the information in wikiHow is accurate, legal, reliable, or safe to practice. Always consult a trained professional before following any of the advice you find in wikiHow. Thirdly, it is a slippery slope that if we include instructions on dealing with medical conditions, that other how-tos would be included to. That's what Wikiversity is for, not Wikipedia. --MASEM (t) 15:11, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
There are at least two good and fully responsible solutions. First, there are those here who could write appropriate and authoritative pages, and take the responsibility for them. WP is just host of the database--the responsibility is that of the authors. second, we can reprint PD pagers from good authorities, such as the National Library of Medicine. Even viewing out responsibility as collective, rather than that of the person who inserts the material, the use of material of that degree of authenticity and authority is hardly open to question. The reason people write and use an encyclopedia is for the purpose of providing and finding information. Restricting it because of borderline fears such asthis is contradictory to our purpose. DGG ( talk ) 08:16, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
Wikipedia is inherently pseudonymous. How do you propose to verify the identities and qualifications of your proposed authors? Second, Wikipedia is inherently in flux - it's "the encyclopedia that anyone can edit". Are you going to lock those pages down so they can never be edited again? If not, how do you expect the "authoritative authors" to accept permanent and on-going responsibility? What will you do when the advice changes? Who will be allowed to update it? What will we do when one authority says CPR should be administered at X beats per minute but another says Y? Those same concerns apply to public domain recommendations, by the way.
I sympathize with the point that our mission is to provide information but our fundamental structure as a wiki puts boundaries on what information is or can be appropriate. Rossami (talk) 14:09, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
  • The heart attack article just isn't very good; it has too much jargon (myocardial infarction is the nominal title, for example) and doesn't have a section about treatment, let alone first aid. We do have plenty of other articles which do a better job, though - see cardiac arrest and CPR, for example. The main problem with Wikipedia as first aid is that it's poorly organised for the purpose because it covers anything and everything and so you may have to hunt a little, as in this case. Warden (talk) 20:36, 13 May 2012 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not encyclopedia

Professor John Harnad (who was blocked by Wikipedia) summarized his negative view about Wikipedia this way:

Wikipedia, on the contrary, is the enshrinement of contempt for learning, knowledge and expertise. It is, for many, a diversionary hobby to which they are prepared to devote a great portion of their time, as others do to computer based video games. Unfortunately, it has led also to an inner cult, shrouded in anonymity, with structures and processes of self-regulation that are woefully inadequate. Many of these tools and procedures are reminiscent, in parody, of those of the Inquisition: secret courts, an inner “elite” arbitrarily empowered to censor and exclude all those perceived as a threat to the adopted conventions of the cult; denunciations, character assassination, excommunication. An arbitrarily concocted “rulebook” and language rife with self-referential sanctimoniousness give a superficial illusion of order and good sense, but no such thing exists in practice.
It is truly a “Tyranny of the Ignorant”. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:27, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
  • blah blah blah blah blah. Resolute 14:04, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
  • While most of those things are true – not least character assassination – the simple fact is there are two broad ways in which you will come into contact with those problems. The first is if you seek to get involved in the non-article side of things. The second is if, whilst editing articles, you fail to follow the simple principles of maintaining neutral point of view and ensuring that content can be verified by reliable sources. If his problem was with the former, I would recommend sticking exclusively to articles as far as possible. If it was with the latter, I question whether he is indeed who he claims to be – no academic I have ever come into contact with would object to abiding by those core principles. —WFC— 14:11, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
  • That's nothing more than sourgraping by some "professor" who's just bitter at the community for blocking him. Not surprising if he's actively running a campaign to dissuade editors. --Eaglestorm (talk) 14:57, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Blah blah blah ...? "Professor"? He is a world renown professor and mathematician. Who are you mr/ms Eaglestorm, may I ask you? Now, about the 'neutrality' from the Six Rotten Pillars of Wikipedia:
So far, so good. Then comes the kicker:
As the name suggests, the neutral point of view is a point of view, not the absence or elimination of viewpoints. The neutral point of view policy is often misunderstood. The acronym NPOV does not mean "no points of view". The elimination of article content cannot be justified under this policy by simply labeling it "POV". The neutral point of view is neither sympathetic nor in opposition to its subject: it neither endorses nor discourages viewpoints. (My bolding).
So it would appear that the central policy of Wikipedia requires Wikipedia editors to construct a “neutral” viewpoint that somehow through some wiki-magic absorbs bits from the various contending viewpoints, giving no “undue weight” to any of the contending views, but still manages to be a viewpoint all its own. This way madness lies.
Keep in mind that NPOV is a mandatory policy which applies to all Wikipedia articles. How, pray, is one expected to manufacture a “NPOV” for a non-controversial subject using this formula? And what of controversial subjects which actually involve taboos, i.e., where one of the contending viewpoints is overwhelmingly accepted, and the other nearly universally rejected due violations of social taboos and/or criminal statutes? Can one really be “neutral” about genocide or childhood sexual abuse and still be a human being? It is mind boggling. It is little wonder that a basic standard that is so illogical and unachievable is the cause of so many content disputes. How could it be otherwise? NPOV creates so many opportunities for polemicists to argue that their position is more “neutral” than those of others by simply divorcing that word from its normal definition in a dictionary (wikispeak: “dictdef”). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:35, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
See Resolute's comment, supra. This isn't constructive here because there are no specific criticisms of specific article content or solutions offered, but rather just off-base philosophical musing that does not even meaningfully describe WP practice and goals regarding NPOV. postdlf (talk) 15:50, 17 May 2012 (UTC) (I suppose we could add "it's bad, don't do it" to genocide and child sex abuse for those readers at home who are uncertain, but Wikipedia is not a how-to guide.)
  • My comment is in the line what Wikipedia is not. So, it is fully constructive on the baseline. Neutrality mandates, at least, to listen to something you do not like.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:37, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
Many of the criticisms are valid, but this is a policy, not a descriptor of the current state of affairs in all corners of Wikipedia. As stated on the page here and the linked policy page:

This page documents an English Wikipedia policy, a widely accepted standard that all editors should normally follow. . . Policies and guidelines are developed by the community to describe best practice, clarify principles, resolve conflicts, and otherwise further our goal of creating a free, reliable encyclopedia.

This policy is aspirational, stating what Wikipedia should be, not what it always is. Kablammo (talk) 16:55, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Aspirational? What Wikipedia should be? Which way aspirational? There is the sixth pillar of Wikipedia - outlawry:
This Sixth Rotten Pillar of Wikipedia has probably attracted more attention here on the pages of Wikipedia Review than have the five others. The names and exploits of certain abusive admins, the policies they choose to selectively enforce and why, the follies of the Arbitration Committee (“ArbCom”), and the battles between individual users, or gangs of users, are the subjects of frequent commentary here. Wikipedia has been called an anarchy, or alternatively, an absolutist dictatorship on a fascist or Stalinist model. While neither view is entirely correct, neither is entirely wrong either. Wikipedia has in fact managed in its own dysfunctional way to combine many of the worst elements of both anarchy and absolute dictatorship for its governance model. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:59, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

WP:UNDUE as an exception to WP:DEM

In re [16], the current language of WP:UNDUE clearly constitutes an exception to WP:DEM. As such, for the sake of consistency, we should make it clear here that coverage of a topic in Wikipedia is entirely dependent upon the present day whim of the majority and their views about any given topic. To pretend otherwise is disingenuous. -- Kendrick7talk 06:30, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

  • I do not see these as related topics. WP:UNDUE is about the weight of opinion in the outside world. Our coverage should be proportional to what reliable sources say about a topic but, by definition, those reliable sources are external to Wikipedia. The clause at WP:DEM is talking about the internal functioning of Wikipedia and our internal decision-making processes. Those processes are explicitly not democratic in nature. It's an apples and oranges comparison - granted, they're both fruit but they are fundamentally different entities. Rossami (talk) 15:46, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
    • I fail to see your distinction. First off, the language of WP:UNDUE is completely vague as to whether we are talking about a matter of the number of reliable sources or whether we are talking about the current popular opinions of editors or the populace in general. Even if the language of WP:UNDUE could be corrected to make clear we mean the only first case, we are effectively head counting the witness of reliable sources as votes, and as such we are a democracy in that respect. -- Kendrick7talk 02:16, 19 May 2012 (UTC)
      • No, it's pretty clear. The first sentence of the WP:UNDUE section reads "Neutrality requires that each article or other page in the mainspace fairly represents all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint" (emphasis added) and further down "Keep in mind that, in determining proper weight, we consider a viewpoint's prevalence in reliable sources, not its prevalence among Wikipedia editors or the general public" (emphasis in the original).
        The entire focus of that section is making sure that our articles reflect the viewpoints both external to Wikipedia and published in sources which qualify under Wikipedia's rules. Wikipedia itself (which includes the viewpoints of its editors) is explicitly excluded from the "reliable sources" category - you simply can't cite yourself as a source.
        And, no, we are not functioning as any form of democracy when we count noses and report what those noses are saying. You could perhaps make the argument that the outside world may be functioning as a quasi-democracy when it weighs competing opinions (though that sounds like an analogy stretched past its limits to me). Reporters, however, do not become "a democracy" merely by reporting those nose counts. Rossami (talk) 04:34, 19 May 2012 (UTC)
        • Hmmm, OK, it just seems as if dedicated POV pushers could have the means by which to avail themselves to having access to more sources, or even in creating such sources, as we know occurs with "think tanks", the propaganda arms of nation-states, etc. As long as "minority" points of view can be presented on the 'pedia in some form or another (as per WP:PRESERVE), I guess I can just stick a pin in this for now and come back when matters are more dire. -- Kendrick7talk 01:38, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Nothing here is "subject to the whim of a majority", though I believe some of the other WPs like the French WP do use vote counting for decisions; it's my decisions according to consensus, whose traditional interpretation is some sort of compromise which everyone involved can tolerate, although some may not like it.ow else could we possibly decide than by some version of one or the other--only a top-down organization has permanently enforceable rules. We do what we want to do, and the nature of "we" and "want" is not exactly definable. This gives us a wonderful positive adaptability, along with all the disadvantages of occasional anarchy. DGG ( talk ) 03:24, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
  • I hate to say it, but the sarcastic phrasing of this "proposal" suggests a WP:POINT failure, though a useless soapbox discussion isn't particularly "disruptive". — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 15:04, 6 June 2012 (UTC)


What is the reason for existence of this article?

Wikipiedia is not censored? No matter what is written here, Wikipedia is heavily censored. Look at, for example, Ante Pavelic article. No way to say that he was what he was: terrorist, Nazi collaborator, war criminal and fugitive. It is written: he is a politician, statesman!?

Wikipedia is not anarchy? Yes, Wikipedia is an anarchy: every ignorant on the globe can derail and damage work of an expert with a proven academic and scholar background.

Wikipedia is not battleground? Yes, it is where ignorance many times defeated expertize and true knowledge. -- (talk) 17:23, 19 May 2012 (UTC)

I think this page expresses aspirations rather than observations. Whenever it says "Wikipedia is not..." it means "Wikipedia should not be..." Victor Yus (talk) 18:39, 19 May 2012 (UTC)
This is a policy page, meaning that if people try to veer it in that direction, steps are taken to stop that. There are no WP:IAR leyways here. --MASEM (t) 18:49, 19 May 2012 (UTC)
  • I am even more confused by the answers above. It's too apparent that users (administrators particularly) are completely free of any adherence to these aspirations. They (administrators) are always winning edit wars, assassinating anyone they want to assassinate (read it as ban, block indefinitely) under pretext of disruptive editing, POV pushing, being against consensus, etc. The administrators' power is unlimited. College drop-out, as an administrator, is always above any world-renown scholar.-- (talk) 20:56, 19 May 2012 (UTC)
    And your purpose here comes clear. Do you have an actual point to raise with respect to this policy page, or are you just hoping to continue using it as a WP:SOAPBOX? Because if the latter, I intend to simply archive this section. Resolute 21:02, 19 May 2012 (UTC)
  • I did make very strong point: what use of policy and rules which can be ignored at will by people who are supposed to follow them? -- (talk) 01:48, 20 May 2012 (UTC)
    It's certainly true in my experience that if you say anything that challenges the comfortable orthodox half-truths or closed lines of thought that the Wikipedia elite like to adhere to, you're going to get jumped on personally and your views possibly censored (as you have found here). But I don't think your quarrel really concerns this page; you'll do better to raise the specific issues you have on the talk pages or noticeboards that concern your matter of dispute. Victor Yus (talk) 05:21, 20 May 2012 (UTC)
  • you did what many people do, missed the important second portion: if it improves the encyclopedia. -- The Red Pen of Doom 13:39, 20 May 2012 (UTC)
  • I'm not quarreling, Victor Yus. Just asking a common sense question. You can improve any rule or any policy text but, if Wikipedia elite feels threatened by the rules, what use of wasting time on any improvements? Simply eliminate the "elite" of college dropouts, do background check of anyone who pretends to have a Wikipedia leading position in any way. Can you ever imagine the case that a self-declared "surgeon" enters a hospital and starts practicing surgery?-- (talk) 15:17, 20 May 2012 (UTC)
    If it were advertised as "the free hospital where anyone can practise", then I think you'd know what you were getting... But Wikipedia has somehow managed to become a pretty amazingly useful thing in its way. The elite aren't all bad, they put in a lot of their time for no material reward, and do much good for the benefit of the human race. A pity the experience seems to have twisted their thought processes in a few areas, but those can probably be straightened out a little by keep talking specifics to them. I hope. Victor Yus (talk) 19:35, 20 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Which way did you measure yours "and do much good for the benefit of the human race"? What is it you can get only from Wikipedia or is better than information coming from other sources? By C. Hewitt, "Wikipedia has had a difficult relationship with academia. In a survey [Powerset 2008], it was found that a surprising 73% of students have been explicitly told by their professor not to use Wikipedia. (emphasis in original)". Then doctors and pharmacists are explicit: do not use any information about drugs, illness, etc coming from Wikipedia. "Popularity" of Wikipedia is maintained by Yahoo and Google web search engines by popping up Wikipedia articles on top of anything visible and searchable on the Internet - for their own business reasons. The reward for their (elite's) time is the absolute power, i.e. the corruption = a bastard child of any absolute power.-- (talk) 20:05, 20 May 2012 (UTC)
If you actually read the background on this, the majority of professors tell their students they cannot cite Wikipedia as a source when writing papers or doing other research. (This is for the same reason that WP internally says, at WP:V and WP:RS, that we cannot cite WP itself as a source; it's a tertiary work, prone to intentional and accidental misinformation by its very nature). That's not the same thing at all as telling students they cannot "use Wikipedia". Many professors actually encourage use of Wikipedia for one thing it is good for at an academic level: Finding sources that might be hard to track down otherwise. Misrepresenting actual academic approaches to WP does not bolster your point, just makes you look like you don't really have one. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 15:25, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
    • You ask, "What is it you can get only from Wikipedia or is better than information coming from other sources?" In theory, the answer is, "NOTHING, except a possibly useful summary." Wikipedia, or any encyclopedia worth its salt, is not supposed to introduce "new" information. It's only supposed to summarize the preponderance of existing information. Misunderstanding that fundamental rule is the basis of nearly all the debates here. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:47, 20 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Baseball Bugs: Looks to me - you know the right question and, consequently, the right answer to the question? Don't you? All I said is: do not polish this "not"-policy for the anarchy, on one hand, and the dictatorship, on another one, are a sad reality of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an anarchy, a blog, a battleground, an ignorance, censored, etc., etc., or, simply, not an encyclopedia.-- (talk) 02:22, 22 May 2012 (UTC)
  • I sympathize, a little, with specialists who are certain that they know something for an absolute fact, and find something they are sure is incorrect in an article here instead of that fact, and try to correct it, but get reverted. I say "a little" because 99.99% of the time, the reason they are reverted is that they refuse to follow WP:V and source their alleged correction to reliable, independently published sources, and instead insist that they are reliable sources themselves, being experts. That's precisely what our anonymous complainant appears to be doing here, and I've encountered it several times in the past, including cases of extreme recalcitrance that bordered on hateful vandalism after a point, because "Wikipedia fascists" (i.e. me and a few other editors who didn't permit some egoist to change an article in controversial ways without sources) refused to recognize their preeminence and the infallible majesty that automagically flowed from their PhD or MD and their position as a lecturer or doctor or whatever. Self-styled "experts" (i.e. specialists) frequently cannot see the encyclopedic forest because they have their noses up against their individual specialist trees, and frequently forget that no one gets to declare oneself an expert; others pin that accolade on you when you've earned it (only for as long as you maintain that status). Few people who are considered experts in a field are experts in every aspect of it, or up-to-the-moment on the very cutting-edge developments in that field. Those that are certainly don't have time to write Wikipedia. Even if they were, they still have to cite sources; even Stephen Hawking does, if he wants to work on the cosmology articles here. In summary: Get over yourself, and follow WP process correctly. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 15:25, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
A true expert must assuredly know the best sources, and should help us by adding them. This is a distinctive contribution they can make, because non-specialist editors often add whatever comes to hand, or are not able to find anything appropriate. An expert who comes here is presumably interested in educating the general public in his field, and will know how to do this, except that they may have some difficulty with our formalities, since we're a quite unusual medium by the usual academic standards. If they are not prepared to add sources, it raises the suspicion that they are more interested in making pronouncements to show their own importance than actually educating--or even in promulgating their own pet theories rather than the accepted views in their field. A true expert knows the difference.
To be sure, there are many true experts who are not good in communicating, or who are not skilled in adjusting their style to suit their audience. This is not the place for them. Any good teacher should have no problems, but some researchers do, and as we all know, some excellent researchers are not good teachers at non-specialist levels. It's no denigration of their qualifications to say they should use them elsewhere. DGG ( talk ) 16:10, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
    • ^ I kick bad people and love good sites.