Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Countering systemic bias

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WikiProject Countering systemic bias
WikiProject iconThis page is supported by the Countering systemic bias WikiProject, which provides a central location to counter systemic bias on Wikipedia. Please participate by editing the article, and help us improve articles to good and 1.0 standards, or visit the wikiproject page for more details.

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Bias in ‘Task’ instruction[edit]

Don't overlook the official news outlets of a country. Certainly they will be more one sided than Wikipedians may like, but they may provide a different way of thinking about an article. They may also be useful as a primary source of information about why the government of that particular country has its opinion on a subject and why it acts the way it does. The readers of Wikipedia could benefit from this, regardless of whether they agree with that view or not (if they don't, they may use it to find errors in its logic or thinking). For example, official news outlets may be useful indicators of how Mainland China thinks about Tibet or Taiwan.

The first boldface speaks in terms of ‘Wikipedians’. Is that all Wikipedians or some subset — perhaps English-speaking or those allied with the controlling or dominant Western/anglophone political view?

The second boldface presumes that state-controlled media are more erroneous than other. What is the rationale for this bias? Humanengr (talk) 16:38, 13 April 2018 (UTC)

Whether it's speaking about Wikipedians or not is irrelevant. Nobody wants to reveal personal weaknesses. Similarly, corporations or countries do not want to evince weaknesses. No matter the country, official statement must always be read in a larger context of why and how the statements are being made. - kosboot (talk) 17:53, 13 April 2018 (UTC)
Your last sentence speaks only of countries and not corporations. Corporations exist (and most WP-en editors live) in a capitalist system and are biased by that larger context. This is contra Jimbo’s original NPOV instruction:

An encyclopedia article should not argue that laissez-faire capitalism is the best social system. (I happen to believe this, by the way.) It should instead present the arguments of the advocates of that point of view, and the arguments of the people who disagree with that point of view.[1]

Any article that preferentially treats corporate sources over state sources indicates a gross bias that compromises the integrity of WP as an encyclopedia. A call to “find errors in [the] logic or thinking” of countries’ statements when such a call is not made for corporations’ statements is bias. The inclusion of such dicta here indicates the depth of that bias. Humanengr (talk) 19:32, 13 April 2018 (UTC)
I am very careful not to make blanket statements about "all corporations." Sometimes the government is very much against a corporation that exists within it (think of Yukos). I would rather start with the assumption that each situation is different and to read and weight the various articles written about each party in each situation. - kosboot (talk) 23:06, 13 April 2018 (UTC)
The problem is the overwhelming systemic bias against non-western aligned state-sponsored media in favor of western corporate-controlled media for issues where there are disputes between western and non-western interests. Non-western-aligned actions are characterized negatively while analogous actions by the U.S. are depicted non-negatively by U.S. corporate media (and western state-sponsored outlets alike). Questionable accusations are portrayed against non-western parties with greater certainty. WP-English has basically reduced itself to carrying water for U.S. foreign policy. This is inconsistent with Jimbo’s original call.
Re Yukos — my bad, I see now I should have more clearly indicated I was talking about media corporations in a capitalist society and the consistency of the narrative they present wrt non-western-aligned nations' actions.
On the point of each of us weighing things carefully, that is immaterial; the overwhelming evidence is that WP-en does not. (See my response below to HiLo48.) Further, I would aver it is extremely difficult to judge ‘objectively’ in the face of a corporate media onslaught that, for all its supposed ‘reliability’, incessantly states with confidence Hussein did evil x, Qaddafi did evil y, Putin did evil xx, Assad did z, etc., while the U.S. not so much. Humanengr (talk) 02:52, 14 April 2018 (UTC)
I am interested in the actual concept of "official news outlets of a country". Not all countries have such things. My country, Australia, and the UK, have the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the British Broadcasting Corporation respectively. Both are government owned, but have strong charters demanding that they be independent in their content. Management and hosts argue that when they get complaints from both major sides of politics, it's probably a sign they are doing their job well. I would argue that these two outlets are actually better sources than most others we could ever find. I'm pretty sure the USA doesn't have such an outlet. I'm not sure about elsewhere. Canada? Are we only concerned about "official" outlets when they are from countries whose ideologies don't match those of Wikipedia's built-in systemic bias? HiLo48 (talk) 00:25, 14 April 2018 (UTC)
The US federal government does have an official news agency Voice of America -- it's for international audiences only (but anyone inside USA can listen on short wave radio). Rjensen (talk) 01:22, 14 April 2018 (UTC)
@HiLo48 re “both sides” — my concern is not with both ‘domestic sides’ but rather with conflict between domestic and foreign, the latter being given short shrift (see further discussion above). Humanengr (talk) 02:55, 14 April 2018 (UTC)
Being given short shrift by whom precisely? Do you have examples? HiLo48 (talk) 03:27, 14 April 2018 (UTC)
By western media. WP sanctions as ‘fact’ what western media present. E.g., A WP search for <"Russia interfered" OR "Russian interference”> yields 470 hits, the phrase appears in 3 as an article title; in many of the news media sources cited therein; and in the title of a WP ’Sister Project”, … . The phrase is freely used by U.S. reporters and editors to describe Russian actions.
In contrast, a WP search for <"America interfered" OR "American interference" OR "U.S. interfered" OR "U.S. interference”> yields 61 hits. In 0 of those 61 does the phrase appear with a supporting citation of a U.S. reporter using that phrase to characterize U.S. actions. Where it does appear, it is used, e.g., to characterize ‘foreign perceptions’ of U.S. actions; with citation not to news media but to a book or an academic work; or without citation to a source. Humanengr (talk) 03:56, 14 April 2018 (UTC)
I see what you mean. Thanks. HiLo48 (talk) 04:08, 14 April 2018 (UTC)
@HiLo48, am glad that made sense to you. Do you also see that favoring corporate media vs state media runs counter to Jimbo’s invocation (above) re not favoring one social system over another? Humanengr (talk) 16:23, 14 April 2018 (UTC)
Absolutely. I have had several run-ins with Admins who think that majority rules in this area too. They find a majority of sources, all from the corporate right, all saying pretty much the same thing, and they claim that's what Wikipedia must say. It's not healthy. HiLo48 (talk) 23:31, 14 April 2018 (UTC)
US Media = "right" ??? -- in 2017-18 the right is vehemently denouncing the national media as leftist and anti-Trump. The official White House press office--and Trump himself--every day denounces the networks & major newspapers for "fake news" Rjensen (talk) 23:48, 14 April 2018 (UTC)
Trump is wrong. Compared with the rest of the world (meaning 95% of it), virtually all US politics and media is right wing. But of course his declarations are for the domestic audience, many of whom are unaware of the truth of what I just wrote. HiLo48 (talk) 03:22, 15 April 2018 (UTC)
@HiLo48 and Rjensen: To (hopefully) clarify: What I'm attempting to focus on here is not a matter of left-vs-right media within the capitalist system or media-vs-Trump. This is a matter of WP treating media (largely corporate, but also state-sponsored) in a capitalist system differently than media in a state-controlled system.
Jimbo's dictum says "not to argue that laissez-faire capitalism is the best social system." In contravention to this dictum, WP articles consistently rely on capitalist system media and limit consideration of state-controlled media in non-western-aligned nations. The result is a consistent denigration (as indicated above) of non-western-aligned nations' actions while analogous U.S. actions are given a relative pass. That is bias, plain and simple.
(Both left and right media narratives operate within the capitalist system context and — with rare exception — fit the above description re treatment of western and non-western-aligned nations' actions.) Humanengr (talk) 02:11, 15 April 2018 (UTC)
No i disagree--there are too many similarities. All countries have a state media--eg VOA and White House Press. And Russia, for example, has a capitalist media system. In Russia: "Television, magazines, and newspapers are all operated by both state-owned and for-profit corporations which depend on advertising, subscription, and other sales-related revenues." says Media of Russia. See as well Media in China which states: "Despite heavy government monitoring, however, the Mainland Chinese media has become an increasingly commercial market, with growing competition, diversified content, and an increase in investigative reporting. Areas such as sports, finance, and an increasingly lucrative entertainment industry face little regulation from the government." Rjensen (talk) 03:03, 15 April 2018 (UTC)
As I posted earlier, I don't believe the UK and Australia have a state media. Maybe Canada too. HiLo48 (talk) 03:24, 15 April 2018 (UTC)
@HiLo48, Whether or not all capitalist nations have state-controlled media doesn’t change my point. The issue here is bias against foreign policy positions expressed in media in non-western-aligned nations. Humanengr (talk) 05:48, 15 April 2018 (UTC)
Yes, there are corporate media in non-western-aligned countries such as Russia and China. (Re foreign policy though, they would presumably be under state control.) Be that as it may, to what do you attribute the difference (noted above) in treatment in WP-en of non-western-allied nations’ actions and analogous actions by western nations? Humanengr (talk) 03:29, 15 April 2018 (UTC)
let's take a specific example of this "bias" as opposed toa global search over 5 million WP articles/ Rjensen (talk) 13:47, 15 April 2018 (UTC)
To help narrow down, I’m focusing on foreign policy disputes between western-aligned and non-western-aligned nations (say, Russia or China). For those cases, can we agree that WP-en generally weighs statements of fact by non-western-aligned media (whether corporate or state) as less ‘reliable’ than western media? And that objections to non-western-aligned media usually fall under the headings of ‘state-controlled’, ‘not independent’, ‘disinformation’, ‘propaganda’, etc.? Humanengr (talk) 23:19, 19 April 2018 (UTC)
I'd have to see specific articles. Please provide specific articles where you see systemic bias. - kosboot (talk) 01:50, 20 April 2018 (UTC)
────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────One final q before proceeding to specifics: Do you take WP-en policies to indicate that, in disputes between western-aligned and non-western-aligned nations, media in the former are to be considered more ‘reliable’ than media in the latter regarding ‘statements of fact’? Humanengr (talk) 07:54, 20 April 2018 (UTC)
For sake of discussion here — Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections title and lede sentence. @kosboot, Systemic bias: western-aligned media vs non-western-aligned media. WP-en policies are consistently called on (with rationales such as noted above) to give lower priority and/or exclude statements of fact by non-western-aligned media. Thoughts? Humanengr (talk) 11:45, 21 April 2018 (UTC)
The thought of using government-controlled media as a source is pretty horrifying. Further, that is a single article. Systemic bias implies that the bias is widespread. You're going to have to do a much better job of illustrating systemic bias. I am willing to listen, but so far, you sound like a WP:SOAPBOX. - kosboot (talk) 04:39, 22 April 2018 (UTC)
The systemic bias is the absence of mention of U.S. actions in negative terms in WP-en. The cited article shows the contrast to the error of omission. The absence of such mention is a consequence of the bias of western-aligned media. This article shows that purported electoral intervention by Russia is characterized in negative terms by WP-en RS while analogous U.S. action is not characterized in negative terms anywhere in WP-en. Do you see the contrast? Humanengr (talk) 18:54, 22 April 2018 (UTC)
Regarding "single article", there is its eponymous category, along with its 2 subcategories here and here — with a total of 37 pages in those; its eponymous template and inclusion in other templates appearing on hundreds of pages. Also see Russian interference in the 2016 Brexit referendum. Humanengr (talk) 00:09, 23 April 2018 (UTC)
Suggestion: editors here ought to look at Media freedom in Russia to get a sense of how the international community discovers bias in news coverage. Rjensen (talk) 03:24, 23 April 2018 (UTC)
@Rjensen, thank you for raising the underlying issue. ‘Freedom’ (of the individual, press, …) is valued more in some parts of the world than others that are, e.g., more societally oriented. Applying a ‘western’ standard introduces a bias that runs directly counter to Jimbo’s dictum. Humanengr (talk) 02:08, 24 April 2018 (UTC)
you're debating systems--that is what Jimbo warned against. Freedom of the press is vital to Wikipedia--and some countries like China block us deliberately since they cannot control us. Freedom of the press is a high value in the East--as in Japan and India, for example. It's an officially recognized international value. As Freedom of the Press points out: The United Nations' 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers". Rjensen (talk) 02:33, 24 April 2018 (UTC)
@Rjensen, Do you have a source for “Freedom of the press is vital to Wikipedia” in its entirety, not just for WP-en? Note that WP-ru does not bias against TASS -- see ВП:АИ. That is my question, but I’ll address your other points.
Re China: There is a difference between selection and treatment of sources by WP and a government blocking broadcast of WP to its citizens. I am attempting to address the former in a way I hope will contribute to the long-term viability of WP; Re Japan: Freedom of press was imposed from outside — see Potsdam Declaration. They currently rank 67 in the PFI. Re India: it stems from British colonial imposition to deal with Muslim-Hindu conflict. At present, freedom of expression can be restricted for reasons of "sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, …". India currently ranks 136 in the PFI. Re UDHR, more generally, it’s not as 'international' or as ‘highly valued’ as you indicate — Islamic countries have, from the start, voiced opposition. Humanengr (talk) 23:33, 11 May 2018 (UTC)
@Rjensen, It’s not me that’s debating systems, it’s WP-en which debated it and now biases source selection by relegating state sources to lower status. (As I noted, WP-ru does not do that, so it’s not a WP-wide policy.) This is most consequential in active international disputes. Under such circumstances, there is no rationale basis for biasing article content to either side’s position. Humanengr (talk) 15:18, 18 May 2018 (UTC)
@kosboot, I addressed your ‘single article ‘ and ‘systemic bias’ points above. Humanengr (talk) 17:25, 17 May 2018 (UTC)
@kosboot, I believe I have more than adequately addressed your concerns. Would you kindly recant your WP:SOAPBOX ascription? Thx, Humanengr (talk) 13:15, 23 May 2018 (UTC)
The idea that the BBC and ABC are unbiased and "not like the others" is a classic case of systemic bias. BBC is well known for a pro-government, pro capitalist (i.e. inviting more business owners than trade unionists to speak), pro royal, bias in it's reporting. Like most large state broadcasters, it's coverage of things outside the UK is great, but when it comes to the UK, especially foreign policy, it's biased.Egaoblai (talk) 09:11, 17 May 2018 (UTC)

I don't think anyone actually answered Humanengr's original questions.

  1. The first boldface speaks in terms of ‘Wikipedians’. Is that all Wikipedians or some subset — perhaps English-speaking or those allied with the controlling or dominant Western/anglophone political view?
  2. The second boldface presumes that state-controlled media are more erroneous than other. What is the rationale for this bias?
1: Most Wikipedians. (With obvious exceptions. You, for one.) The point is that the official news outlets of a country are reporting with the primary goal of furthering the interests of that country. Therefore they have a specific point of view, and not necessarily a comprehensive one. Corporate media is reporting with the primary goal of selling newspapers (or advertisements); therefore, they don't have to care who wins between any A and B as long as it is interesting enough to get people to read (watch, listen) about it. So they are motivated to tell all sides, as conflict is generally more interesting than agreement. State media is often not comprehensive partly because it doesn't have to be interesting.
2: Methinks you are misreading the statement, it isn't saying state media is more erroneous, merely that even those who disagree with it will still find it useful, if only so that they can pick holes in what it says. Consider creationists picking holes in evolution, or vice versa. --GRuban (talk) 04:46, 23 April 2018 (UTC)
Tangentially related, the current issue of the Signpost has a good article on the dangers of placing equal weight on both sides of an issue, in this case the Nazi army. - kosboot (talk) 13:20, 26 April 2018 (UTC)
Yes, that is “tangentially related”, but it does provide a helpful contrast. The focus of that essay is “historiography”; the current discussion is about news media reporting on current events. Humanengr (talk) 13:33, 18 May 2018 (UTC)
@GRuban, thx for addressing the orig. Re “So they are motivated to tell all sides …” — somewhat applicable for domestic squabbles; flatly false for international disputes. U.S. corporate media march in lockstep with U.S. government accusations re Russia or the designated target opponent of the moment, with minor diffs for domestic party positioning. Humanengr (talk) 03:32, 17 May 2018 (UTC)
Re your “it isn't saying state media is more erroneous”, note that kosboot said above “The thought of using government-controlled media as a source is pretty horrifying.” Humanengr (talk) 13:20, 17 May 2018 (UTC)
@GRuban, Note also Rjensen's comment re TASS, effectively denying the legitimacy of TASS as a general-purpose RS on WP-ru.
On WP-en, TASS can only be used to present the Russian government PoV; it is never taken as presenting objective facts. TASS is thereby treated as 'more erroneous' than Western media. Policy and practice on WP-en are consistent with this 'task instruction', and treat state media of designated opponents as more erroneous, directly contra your point "it isn't saying state media is more erroneous". Thoughts? Humanengr (talk) 03:11, 23 May 2018 (UTC)
Any sources are treated as objective facts only if essentially uncontradicted. When contradicted Wikipedia provides all sides. If it seems like TASS is out numbered in disputes where TASS says A while BBC, Associated Press, New York Times and Haaretz all say B, well, that's not systemic bias against Russia, it's reporting what sources say in proportion to the sources saying it. Don't know about WP-Ru, don't play there much, but do know that multiple prominent Russian journalists who reported awkward facts have been murdered, so wouldn't be surprised if WP Ru editors felt scared to disagree. --GRuban (talk) 13:10, 23 May 2018 (UTC)
Yeah GRuban, in a free society we merely lock up the journalistic sources like Chelsea Manning, Barrett Brown, and John Kiriakou, threaten to kill them like Snowden and Assange, or hound them into suicide like David Kelly.GPRamirez5 (talk) 15:04, 23 May 2018 (UTC)
@GRuban, Counting by number of sources is an arbitrary metric that biases judgment in favor of ‘capitalist’ systems where there are many supposedly independent media. In international disputes, the two sides should be presented without such bias. Humanengr (talk) 16:51, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
And yet, "fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint" is what WP:DUE says, which is our policy, and one of our Wikipedia:Five pillars. A disgrace, clearly someone has been paid off. We should absolutely give equal weight to both sides of a dispute, no matter how many reliable sources are on each side. For example, I think my Uncle Bob's opinion is fully the equal of all the capitalist - and, for that matter governmental - sources, and should be given equal weight in all articles, with all the others. Since Uncle Bob tends to disagree with most published sources, especially after a long night of hard drinking, he will always be one of "two sides". So most of our articles should say something like: "The Times of India, Washington Post, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, and Asahi Shimbun all say A, but Uncle Bob says B." If I can get enough support, I intend to change WP:DUE to add the "Uncle Bob rule". Are you with me? --GRuban (talk) 17:13, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
We can leave Uncle Bob out of this. Let’s talk about Uncle Sam. How many times, say, in the last 120 years has U.S. media termed U.S. intervention overseas (e.g., electoral interference, regime change, military action) as ‘interference’? Humanengr (talk) 01:50, 10 June 2018 (UTC)
tens of thousands of newspaper editorials attacked intervention--see Opposition to the War of 1812 in the United States; Mexican War--led by Abe Lincoln & his Spot Resolutions; Ostend Manifesto (1854), Copperhead (politics), American Anti-Imperialist League (1899+); Opposition to World War I, America First Committee (1940)--should we mention Vietnam & Iraq?? Rjensen (talk) 02:39, 10 June 2018 (UTC)
Will respond in due course -- other matters intervene. Humanengr (talk) 16:44, 26 June 2018 (UTC)
@Rjensen, And when, with the historical resources at your disposal, do you find RS news articles or editorials (we can include those as well) referring to U.S. actions as 'interference'? We can focus on the two most recent of your set, Vietnam and Iraq, or add in other recent, e.g., Libya, Syria, Iran, Russia. (You rephrased it as 'attacked intervention', a related issue. I am asking specifically here about the use of the term 'interference'.) Humanengr (talk) 03:19, 6 July 2018 (UTC)
I'm using Wikipedia and -- which anyone can use to get more information. Rjensen (talk) 04:00, 6 July 2018 (UTC)
@Rjensen, The question was "How many times, say, in the last 120 years has U.S. media termed U.S. intervention overseas (e.g., electoral interference, regime change, military action) as ‘interference’?" You responded with a misdirection to "thousands of editorials attacked intervention". I provided proof of the biased use of the term 'interference' here. HiLo48 understood and accepted that point. You have not provided any data that contradicts. Do you have anything to offer directly on that point? Humanengr (talk) 06:11, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
You asked almost this same question on Wikipedia_talk:Identifying_reliable_sources#Seeking_an_indication_of_NPOV, I gave you direct links to articles by 3 of the most reliable newspapers the US has, the Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times, which use the words "interfering", "interfering", and "meddling" directly in the article titles, and which took no more than minutes to find with a web search. You have not edited outside this discussion and that discussion in the last month and a half. Have you really forgotten? --GRuban (talk) 14:04, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
As I responded there: “Right, those are the only ones I found. Note that all 3 are distantly historical, drawing on Dov Levin’s journal article that addresses Russian and U.S. electoral intervention from 1946-2000. No WP articles cite any contemporaneous RS to portray U.S. intervention as 'interference'. Yet we have near uniform characterization of Russian actions as ‘interference’.” You did not respond to that. ‘News media’ that are contemporaneous exhibit gross bias here. Humanengr (talk) 18:27, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
Your question to Rjensen, as you repeated yourself, was "How many times, say, in the last 120 years has U.S. media termed U.S. intervention overseas (e.g., electoral interference, regime change, military action) as ‘interference’?" The answer seems to be, at least 3 times, by the leading outlets in the last 3 years - 2016, 2016, and 2018. And yet you object on the grounds they're "distantly historical", though your question would have accepted 120 year old sources. --GRuban (talk) 18:50, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
Thx for prompting me to clarify: that’s 120 year old news sources writing contemporaneously with events. The 3 articles you cited, while from 2016-2018, do not use the term ‘interference’ to describe contemporaneous U.S. action, but rather to describe distantly historical actions. There are NO articles in WP that cite news media writing contemporaneously with events to characterize U.S. actions as ‘interference’. In contrast, Russian actions are consistently characterized as ‘interference’. That’s bias. That’s what this WP project page is ostensibly here to address. Humanengr (talk) 21:44, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
[Follow-on to my first response above:] The basic problem is that — by channeling Western news media — WP-en has become a SOAPBOX for current U.S. government positions in international disputes. As I noted above, WP-ru does not bias against TASS whereas WP-en does. Treatment of state vs non-state sources varies. Humanengr (talk) 13:35, 17 May 2018 (UTC)
As for Russia--they don't have much in the way of news magazines uncontrolled by government. Tass gives the Kremlin view. US does have many non-govt and anti-govt news agencies--denounced every week by the White House! I have rarely seen Voice of America cited in Wiki even tho it's the official US govt news agency. Indeed, presidential tweets do not appear to be treated as having high validity by Wiki editors. Rjensen (talk) 16:57, 18 May 2018 (UTC)
Do you acknowledge that "WP-ru does not bias against TASS whereas WP-en does.”? Humanengr (talk) 21:31, 18 May 2018 (UTC)
Hard to say what any Russian is allowed to post on the Internet. Rjensen (talk) 21:33, 18 May 2018 (UTC)
Apologies for lack of clarity: I was referring to RS policy in WP-ru (ВП:АИ):

We welcome publications from major news organizations, especially high-quality ones, such as the Associated Press, the Washington Post, Interfax, TASS, the London Times, Reuters.

in comparison to RS in WP-en:

Most newspapers also reprint items from news agencies such as BBC News, Reuters, Interfax, Agence France-Presse, United Press International or the Associated Press, which are responsible for accuracy.

Humanengr (talk) 22:10, 18 May 2018 (UTC)
@Rjensen, I am seeking acknowledgment that WP-ru and WP-en policies differ in treatment of state media. (The focus here is not whether anti-govt media exist or govt policy towards such; it is about policy differences across WP.) Can we agree on that single point? Thx Humanengr (talk) 09:23, 19 May 2018 (UTC)
@kosboot, Your ‘pretty horrorifying’ objection to state-sponsored media is obviously consistent with WP-en RS policy (and practice). As can be seen in the quotes above, though, that ‘horror’ is not uniform across WP RS polices. Do you dispute that? Thx, Humanengr (talk) 16:48, 19 May 2018 (UTC)
some anonymous person did insert Tass as an acceptable RS on the Russian Wiki. given that tolerance for critical free speech is low in Moscow, I would be afraid to challenge it if I lived there. (I used to live in Moscow--1986--and it was MUCH worse them.) Rjensen (talk) 16:57, 19 May 2018 (UTC)
@Rjensen, Tass has been included for quite some time there without objection. I asked above if you had a source for ‘Freedom of the press is vital to Wikipedia’ in its entirety, not just for WP-en. Do you? Humanengr (talk) 17:27, 19 May 2018 (UTC)
Lacking freedom of the press, any country can shut down Wiki--and some do so. If governments can rewrite text freely then Wikipedia is no longer reliable. It will still be useful regarding video games. Rjensen (talk) 18:31, 19 May 2018 (UTC)
@Rjensen, 1) You haven't provided any source, so I can assume you're only stating your own perspective, not overarching WP policy.
2) You said "some anonymous person did insert Tass". That 'anonymous person' had a name (Mark2) — so that's factually incorrect — and made that edit in 2006. Humanengr (talk) 18:56, 19 May 2018 (UTC)
I am sure Humanengr will agree that "Mark2" is a completely anonymous code name. (For the record, rjensen is not anonymous--it = Richard J. Jensen. As for TASS as a reliable source. I browsed a few dozen of stories in different sections, asking what it is that the TASS reporters do. In sports coverage, their own reporters seem to be present covering the event, describing what they saw from the press box, but rarely interviewing a player or offering any analysis. When Russia loses to Canada in hockey for example they do not hide or distort that in any way. On economic and foreign affairs, however, every one of the TASS stories I looked at was based on press releases from government officials. The volcano in Hawaii is a good non-political example, in which every statement is explicitly tied to person in the US or Hawaii state government. I do not know if they actually had any TASS reporter in Hawaii, but none of them showed as much freedom of expression as the sportswriters had. I'm inclined to agree that if all they do is quote government statements, with explicit names and dates of who said it, then TASS does provide a reliable source on official government statements. They don't seem to provide any interpretation or explanation that is not contained in those statements. Rjensen (talk) 19:16, 19 May 2018 (UTC)
1) By that standard, 'Humanengr' is also a "completely anonymous code name". Are you proposing discounting the efforts all such WP editors? Is there a policy for that?
2) You still haven't provided any overarching WP policy reference for your assertion that ‘Freedom of the press is vital to Wikipedia’ in its entirety, not just for WP-en. Will you kindly acknowledge that you can't provide such policy? Humanengr (talk) 19:47, 19 May 2018 (UTC)
3) All the issues you raise are tangential to that. Some are perhaps worth pursuing (and I intend on doing so) once this context is established, but for now you are only expressing your opinion, not providing policy. Respectfully, Humanengr (talk) 20:45, 19 May 2018 (UTC)
The overriding Wikipedia product policy has always been that anyone can edit it. That applies to ALL of the Wikipedias. it's Pillar #3 Wikipedia is free content that anyone can use, edit, and distribute = WP:5P3 I read that is saying that everyone has free speech in terms of Wikipedia. Do you disagree? Rjensen (talk) 21:04, 19 May 2018 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────@Rjensen, Thx, much appreciated; and thx for your question. I give a preliminary answer after noting the following to cover status as ‘policy’:


Is this page a policy or guideline, or the source for all policies and guidelines?
No. It is a non-binding description of some of the fundamental principles, begun by User:Neutrality in 2005 as a simple introduction for new users. For comparison, WP:NPOV, WP:NOT and WP:IAR were first written down on Wikipedia in 2001, and WP:NOR and WP:V were written in 2003.
What was this page originally based on?
It was an expansion of WP:Trifecta.


This page tries to give the foundational principles of the policies and guidelines of the English Wikipedia.

This page is not a policy, guideline, or any other official sort of thing, but it is plain good common sense.

WP-meta NPOV

This policy exists on all languages of projects that have adopted it, but the details of the policy vary significantly between projects and between different languages in those projects.

Preliminary partial answer: That pillar suggests WP-en should not impose (in policy or practice) constraints (beyond WP-en:NPOV) on freedom of speech in WP-en. (More might be implied, but that is what is written.) I'll await your comment on the above before proceeding. Humanengr (talk) 00:25, 20 May 2018 (UTC)

Do you endorse pillar #5 or not ? Rjensen (talk) 10:07, 20 May 2018 (UTC)
I take it you mean WP:5P3 not WP:5P5? And do you endorse the WP-meta NPOV policy statement above that ”details of the policy vary significantly … between different languages? Humanengr (talk) 16:29, 20 May 2018 (UTC)
yes I meant 5P3= Wikipedia is free content that anyone can use, edit, and distribute a) Do you endorse it? b) Do you agree that "Anyone can edit" is a key policy for Wikipedia or perhaps you disagree. I do agree that details of policies do vary between the 300 different Wikipedias. I know of no Wikipedia whatever in which "Anyone can edit" is denied or abridged. Can you identify any? Rjensen (talk) 16:49, 20 May 2018 (UTC)
Thx and pardon — other matters intervene; will return as possible Humanengr (talk) 17:31, 20 May 2018 (UTC)9
RJensen this is a pointlessly abstract argument. One free popular website doesn't neatly compare with an entire society and its management by the state. And who is to say that WPs policies really comprise free speech? A libertarian would denounce the anti-hatespeech policy as arbitrary and politicized and probably the rest of the "Civility" policy as well. Many libertarians reject the libel laws that are the basis of BLP policy. So even within the Western world there is no precise consensus on what the principle of free speech is.GPRamirez5 (talk) 18:12, 20 May 2018 (UTC)
imaginary libertarians making imaginary complaints??? I have seen none of these imaginary folk around here so perhaps they have not heard of Wikipedia. Rjensen (talk) 10:32, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
1) Again, it’s not a ‘policy’ — see above. Can you agree it is not a policy?
2) Reviewing your answers above to my request above “seeking acknowledgment that WP-ru and WP-en policies differ in treatment of state media”, you didn’t answer that directly but rather expressed opinions about tangential issues (anonymity of editors, -your- assessment of TASS, …). Now you are asking for my opinion on something. Can we agree on a simple assertion — that the WP-en and WP-ru policies do in fact differ in treatment of state media?
3) Of what import is my endorsement or non-endorsement of a pillar?
4) Are you asking if I think anyone should be able to edit and do so without restriction? Or? Humanengr (talk) 03:37, 22 May 2018 (UTC)
you have not answered any of the questions. Do you have any opinions on the matter? Rjensen (talk) 11:08, 22 May 2018 (UTC)
@Rjensen, Re “I know of no Wikipedia whatever in which ‘Anyone can edit’ is denied or abridged. Can you identify any?": Are you familiar with

Please be aware that you are legally responsible for all of your contributions, edits, and re-use of Wikimedia content under the laws of the United States of America and other applicable laws (which may include the laws where you live or where you view or edit content).

Re “Do you agree that ‘Anyone can edit’ is a key policy for Wikipedia”: It is not a policy, despite your repeated insistence that it is. As quoted above, “It is a non-binding description of some of the fundamental principles …” No one can ‘endorse’ it as a ‘key policy’ because it is not a ‘policy’.
Regarding your partial quote "Anyone … can edit", that notion is subject to WP terms of use including the one quoted immediately above. I abide by the terms of use and see no problem in 'endorsing' the terms of use.
Does the above answer your questions? Humanengr (talk) 14:08, 22 May 2018 (UTC)
Also it's explicit policy that WP is not a "forum for free speech" and "Wikipedia is not a democracy."-GPRamirez5 (talk) 07:28, 27 May 2018 (UTC)
@Rjensen, Maybe we can make some progress on this path: Do you think someone such as Richard J. Jensen, with interest/expertise in historiography and statistics, should rely on news media from either side for ‘facts’ in ongoing international disputes? Humanengr (talk) 05:07, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
Regarding regarding current episodes, such as today's G-7 Conference in Quebec, and next week's summit meeting in Singapore, we basically have journalists reporting on what the diplomats said in public, and sometimes with a leaked privately to the journalists. The Richard J Jensen you mentioned – yes that's me – devotes almost all his Wikipedia attention on historical events, in which the documents and memoirs are available. In my experience,– Strongly reinforced on this talk page – newspaper accounts of what happened decades later are based on regurgitated thirdhand sources that have very little new information But do include a lot of misunderstandings. The point is that a reporter who is very careful in 2018 about the events of 2018, is not a good judge of the documentation & historiography of the key events of 1945. Graduate students in history are trained in how to handle the documentation historiography, and professional historians not only try to explore all the available documents, but try out their ideas before conferences and history conventions for months or years before submitting to publication, and then the publisher has several rounds of evaluation by outside experts. A reporter dealing with today's events as a matter of hours to file a report by deadline, and then their editors at homebase mark up the reporters copy in a matter of hours and publish it. Rjensen (talk) 05:32, 9 June 2018 (UTC)

Editors may have some interest in the essay WP:HISTRS which regards sourcing standards in articles which are on historical topics. Fifelfoo (talk) 09:24, 9 June 2018 (UTC)

Comment: While I appreciate your concerns, Humanengr, I feel that much of what you say is a philosophical discussion. While I don't entirely disagree with you, I don't find it very helpful in dealing with specific articles unless you are suggesting that all of Wikipedia should be purged of U.S. press coverage. Maybe you should be making your arguments on the Talk: Identifying reliable sources instead of here. - kosboot (talk) 12:48, 6 July 2018 (UTC)

Another comment: Thanks to GRuban's most recent comment, I checked User talk:Humanengr's contributions. I'd guess that about 95% of this user's contributions are solely to discussions (the majority on this talk page). To my mind, this user's contributions have convinced me that this editor is very clearly not interested in editing articles but merely in engaging in discussions -- which I emphasize is not the purpose of a talk page. Clearly Humanengr is seeking a forum in which that person can engage in these important issues. I don't feel Wikipedia is that forum, and I strongly urge other users to ignore this user unless it is proven through editing actual articles that this user's purpose is to improve the encyclopedia. - kosboot (talk) 19:38, 17 July 2018 (UTC)

@kosboot, Respectfully — by that you are promoting the willful blindness that permeates WP pages that differentially characterize U.S. and Russia intervention re ‘interference’. I would hope that you would recognize that this is exactly the place to address these concerns. Humanengr (talk) 21:47, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
@kosboot, Re your cmt re ‘purged’, while that’s not my suggestion, I appreciate the concrete nature of it as a proposal. Will comment more in due course. Humanengr (talk) 04:28, 31 July 2018 (UTC)

I agree that focusing on reliability of state-owned media over private-owned media is itself a form of bias, one that has ideological implications. A lot of what is usually considered independent media is actually dependent on big corporations, specially banks. Thinking that state-owned media is inherently less reliable than bank-owned media is itself particularly tied with capitalist ideology. --MarioGom (talk) 17:08, 5 August 2018 (UTC)

Totally concur. But not all here agree — see e.g., kosboot’s 1st sentence in this comment above. Humanengr (talk) 22:16, 5 August 2018 (UTC)
Maybe against my better judgment to comment here, but I'd invite the participants to note that Western media is frequently strongly critical of big banks. See almost any column by Paul Krugman. I'd be really curious to know of anything in Russia Today that's equally critical of Putin, or in China Daily that's equally critical of Xi. --Trovatore (talk) 22:48, 5 August 2018 (UTC)
Assuming MarioGom was responding in the context of my earlier comments, I took the focus there to be not domestic issues, but allegations of foreign interference and who benefits from that. Banks are arguably on that list; others are more obvious. Humanengr (talk) 13:45, 8 August 2018 (UTC)

A minimal concrete proposal[edit]

A minimal concrete proposal: A template to inform the reader that source selection for the article is per English Wikipedia (WP-en) RS policy and content presented differs substantially from that of <WP-xx>. Comments welcome. Humanengr (talk) 03:37, 3 August 2018 (UTC)

no -- that looks like interference in other Wikis in other languages and toher cultures and living under other political regimes. Indeed some of them do have poor policies --and residents in some countries can get in real trouble if they follow free speech rules that apply to english wiki. but english wiki should not be ridiculing or exposing them. Rjensen (talk) 06:19, 4 August 2018 (UTC)
@Rjensen: No, it’s not interfering or ridiculing. Not sure what you mean by ‘exposing’ — the edits are already public. It’s a template for noting — on an WP-en page — that there is a difference between that page and other WP language projects addressing a given topic. Humanengr (talk) 16:46, 5 August 2018 (UTC)
What would be the purpose of such template? --MarioGom (talk) 17:10, 5 August 2018 (UTC)
Thx for asking. When the WP-en language edition differs from another WP language edition in description of events — e.g., in characterizion of current assertions as true/false/alleged in sum or detail, this alerts the reader to such differences rather than hides it from them. By informing readers of such differences, it encourages exploration, questioning, etc., rather than reliance on the biases and hidden agendas of media in one’s ‘home’ culture such as those you note above. Humanengr (talk) 22:22, 5 August 2018 (UTC)
Ok. I see your point. But I think it would do more harm than good. I edit in multiple Wikimedia projects and languages, and I think this could be too easily misunderstood and even lead to interwiki wars. --MarioGom (talk) 22:30, 5 August 2018 (UTC)
Why not make a practice of using {{POV section|talk=Other Wikis differ}} and going the talk page and writing a section Other Wikis differ in which you summarize the evidence and citations in the other wikis which is better or more convincing than the evidence and citations in en.wikipedia. I don't think the fact that X number of non-English Wikis disagree with English Wikipedia is in of itself sufficient reason to say a section or article is not neutral or even to make a note of it at all. But if you have examined the citations in one or more of those non-en wikis and have compelling reasons to trust them more then a {{NPOV}} tag is appropriate.

In other words, I don't think there is a shorthand way of tagging issues like this. You have to do the footwork. But in many cases it is worth a maintenance tag until the discrepancy is resolved. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 00:18, 6 August 2018 (UTC)

Perhaps you didn't read the Signpost article of a few years ago that compared the articles on "Jerusalem" in Wikis in English, Hebrew, Arabic and (I think) Farsi). The differences are stark. I believe the article pointed out the very independent nature of different language wikis. For that reason, I think the proposal is not very helpful; the interlanguage links on the left allows users to decide whether to review another wiki's coverage of the topic. More to the point, I think this thread has devolved into a discussion of the issue - and that is pointedly NOT what talk pages are about. As I mentioned above, Humanengr barely edits WP, simply discusses issues (one could use the term troll). Unless that person starts editing, I don't believe talk pages are the place for that person to have external discussions. - kosboot (talk) 19:07, 6 August 2018 (UTC)
Link to Signpost article? Humanengr (talk) 22:07, 6 August 2018 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Perhaps you were referring to a recommendation by Manypedia co-creator Paolo Massa (User:Phauly) to compare "the English Wikipedia's article on the Gaza War with those on the Arabic and Hebrew Wikipedias" or the Manypedia FAQ note that: "There isn't too much relationship between people who strive to reach consensus about the page 'Jerusalem' on Arabic Wikipedia and people who strive to reach consensus about the page 'Jerusalem' on Hebrew Wikipedia".

More salient to the current discussion is that the Manypedia creators wrote in their 2013 journal article: "In general all topics related to recent history can be biased, especially if there are two or more fighting nations involved." And in his 2012 presentation Paolo Massa cited WP:NPOVFAQ for "making readers aware of [cultural bias]". As you know, that text was later followed by "A special WikiProject for Countering systemic bias has been set up to deal with this problem." Humanengr (talk) 02:31, 11 August 2018 (UTC)

@MarioGom, I appreciate your concern re interwiki wars, but think we all would agree that wars of force are a greater concern. For international disputes, where a given language WP becomes an echo chamber (Massa’s term) conferring WP approval to the national bias of so-called ‘Reliable sources’ when there is risk of dire consequences, isn’t that exactly where we should make readers aware of that bias? Humanengr (talk) 03:44, 11 August 2018 (UTC)

Deletion discussion for Wikipedia:WikiProject Countering systemic bias/Mathematics[edit]

See Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/Wikipedia:WikiProject Countering systemic bias/Mathematics. XOR'easter (talk) 23:31, 20 June 2018 (UTC)

Discussions on gender neutral language[edit]

Are taking place at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style and the Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)‎. Doug Weller talk 16:45, 1 July 2018 (UTC)

New essay on race and ethnicity[edit]

I've repurposed a well-received long thread post – on "race" and "ethnicity" as labels on Wikipedia and why they're generally a poor idea – and posted it to WP:Race and ethnicity. It's a "crash course" educational piece rather than the typical "do it this way not that way" Wikipedia essay. People may find it of interest. It doesn't address race from the Racial bias on Wikipedia angle, which is certainly a valid one, within the confines of race as a social construct and all the effects that has. Rather, it's an anti-racialism summary of why people's beliefs that "races" are a biological fact are confused and misleading. We shouldn't be "pegging" our article subjects with racialist labels, absent a strong personal or RS identification of the label with the subject.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  13:48, 15 July 2018 (UTC)