Wikipedia talk:Wikipedia Signpost/2014-02-19/WikiProject report

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Very interesting report Mabeenot. --Pine 07:23, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Interesting project. Is it also the planning to do something about the systematic bias described as "US-Centrisme"? Too many people expect that everybody knows and wants to know everything about the USA, expecting that you know that Place A in County B is located in State C, USA. And other think that all schools in the USA are automatically notable as they consider that even when you can not find any sources, it is not that there are no (online) sources but that you just did not search hard enough... The Banner talk 19:20, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
    • And of course the point that people expect you to know that "football" is nor soccer nor association football nor Gaelic football but American football that also can be named Canadian football. As I just discovered at Cal State Fullerton Titans... The Banner talk 22:02, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Systemic bias will only be completely eradicated when we are all the same. We are all different and have different perspectives, and we write and edit from those POVs, whether we are victims or perpetrators. The project tools that we use to try to keep Wikipedia encyclopedic are WP:NPOV and this truly awesome project. While we all should strive for less bias and more neutrality, at the same time we should also keep a positive outlook and celebrate the "spicy" concept of "Viva la difference!" – Paine Ellsworth CLIMAX! 06:12, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Indeed! The comments section on this recent article about the differences between the Wikipedias in various languages suggests that some aspects of "self-focus bias" may not necessarily be a bad thing: "Wikipedia's Secret Multilingual Workforce". MIT Technology Review. 2013-12-13. Retrieved 2014-02-22.  Djembayz (talk) 13:16, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
  • I am concerned with the notion I'm reading from these interviews that somehow our policies hinder the study of women and minorities. I don't see any real evidence of that and I would caution the community about this claim that "Western sourcing standards" are an unreasonable expectation. Out of curiosity I took a look at Wikipedia talk:Articles for creation/Representations of Latinos in media. It hasn't been accepted for good reason. I see that a more-experienced editor has taken the task on and perhaps can fix the most glaring errors. It's that combination of enthusiasm with a general lack of scholasticism that is dangerous for the project and must be rejected. (disclaimer: I am one of those educated white males that we hear from too often online.) Chris Troutman (talk) 06:39, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Adding one more redlink ... Whiter Shades of Pale ... [1] [2] [3] [4]  :) Diversity has something for everyone. Djembayz (talk) 16:41, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
Of course, articles need to be based on reliable sources. What makes sources reliable may be different in other cultures, especially those lacking a Western academic tradition. Reliable sources that are not as accessible or not in English may be unfairly disregarded in favour of accessible English sources that are not as reliable or comprehensive. Moreover, specific notability guidelines (such as for sports or companies) may fail to consider poorly represented subtopics (such as female/disability sports or Chinese/Indian businesses). Hope you found this clarification useful. --J.L.W.S. The Special One (talk) 18:33, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
No, I don't find that clarification useful and I wouldn't even call your statement a clarification. As a history major I've studied Africa and I've learned the importance of documenting African history through African voices. While accounts from European and Arab explorers are both fascinating and useful, the concept that the African people had no history helped encourage slavery. Our concepts of notability and reliability are not, however, culturally constructed rationalizations of privilege.
Wikipedia as a tertiary source needs to stay firmly grounded to academic secondary publications; hopefully ones that leverage previously ignored ethno-linguistics and material culture in order to better understand what actually happened. My dislike of subaltern studies stems from this enthusiasm from some to rewrite narratives to cater to specific ethno-political audiences. I think misunderstood populations deserve real academic rigor, not pandering screed.
If your accusation is that our notability or non-English sources guidelines need re-tooling then please provide specific examples. The discussion that I'm seeing reads like hinted indictments of the majority of historical literature from the hetero-normative imperialist bourgeoisie. Bias towards non-white, non-male, peasants is still bias. I hope that WikiProject Systemic Bias values provable fact over ahistorical feel-good "anybody but white men" propaganda. Chris Troutman (talk) 19:22, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps we interpret the term "Western sourcing standards" differently. We both agree that minority groups should be documented through their own voices. If some indigenous communities have longstanding oral traditions which they deem the most reliable reporting of their history and culture, to what extent should we respect that? Then there are cultures with established academia that are very different from Western ones. For example, Islamic scholarship has its own methods of evaluating how reliable sources are, especially for Islamic theology. Can Wikipedians trying to determine whether a hadith is notable or researching on Middle Eastern history afford to ignore these methods?
For some sports, a player is deemed notable if he has played in a fully professional league. Hence a male English footballer who makes a couple of appearances in League Two is deemed notable, but a female English footballer who makes hundreds of FA WSL appearances is not. There is also a consensus that high schools are generally notable and middle schools usually are not. Then what is the Chinese equivalent of a high school and middle school? What about cram schools, which are common in many Asian countries?
Some policies that are not directly related to content may also hinder minority groups from contributing to Wikipedia. Blocking open proxies causes massive collateral damage in countries (especially China) where they are needed to bypass government censorship. In the past, refusal to censor Wikipedia was taken to extremes and our policy on offensive material had to be clarified to stop such behaviour, which alienated readers and editors from more conversative cultures.
--J.L.W.S. The Special One (talk) 19:22, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
@Hildanknight: Ok, now I can understand what you're looking at. Taking the last part first, I support blocking all IPs from editing, as I'm far more concerned with policing editor behavior than I am hearing from the oppressed people living under a communist regime. It's a wider political problem not a scholastic problem.
In situations like the FA WSL league or cram schools, I can only assume notability criteria have been selected with reason. If our systemic bias led us to inadvertently slant our coverage then perhaps we should have new RfC's on those notability requirements. However, I question why Wikipedia should think any primary or secondary school is notable at all. It smacks of regional inclusionism, not academic study. I'm currently a student at Loyola Marymount University and I see no reason why there needs to be an article about it, either. Readers might be curious about Harvard or Yale because they've attracted study and so many politicians and academics graduated from them. Just because students go there doesn't make it notable.
Oral traditions and Hadith are primary sources and Wikipedia shouldn't be relying on them. I don't know if you would consider this a "western" concept, but a tertiary source has to take cues from academia. If scholars write secondary analyses of oral traditions then Wikipedians can cite those journal articles. Just recently, I replaced a self-published website that clearly fails WP:RS with two published anthologies of the same material. WP:RS helps protect our project from trusting random websites, even if it's in the guise of discussing Buddhist mythology in an English-language context. I want the "western" audience to know about these myths surrounding a future Buddha but that study has to be done responsibly. We cannot weaken our standards to include material outside Wikipedia's mainstream and I contend that we don't have to. Proper sourcing is just a little more work; it's not a biased policy. Thank you for providing specification, though, as this subject deserves real discussion and I'm happy to drill down on what I either support or oppose. I've served as a campus ambassador in our Education Program precisely because I'd like to bring the college audience with their access to academic sources and methods to Wikipedia. Chris Troutman (talk) 18:04, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
@Chris troutman: I believe your initial comment was in response to the notion that "to accept the voice of other has to accept non-standard sources for notability". @Kosboot: Could you clarify the notion and offer further input on this discussion?
@Hildanknight: My comment grew out of a online discussion (not in WP:CSB) in which people were arguing that for some populations a record of their history is not captured through words, but through oral history. A lot of Native American history was told through oral history and this is true for other cultures in Europe and Africa. I recognize that WP depends on the published words, but I also think that it's possible to incorporate information that comes down in non-traditional ways. -- kosboot (talk) 15:30, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
Your belief that we need not hear "from the oppressed people living under a communist regime" is deeply troubling. The population of China is greater than the population of the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand combined. I hope you realise the historical and global significance of Chinese culture. Our terrible coverage of Chinese topics calls can only be addressed by an influx of Chinese voices. As an overseas Chinese, I can read Chinese-language sources, but cannot access offline publications by universities in China.
--J.L.W.S. The Special One (talk) 15:16, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
@Hildanknight and Kosboot: I support inclusion of other topics from outside the anglophone world, including the PRC. The claim that our criteria should change because Mandarin- or Cantonese-language websites are easier to get to than academic publications is exactly the problem. As a history major, I assert that the quality of sources (even if only available centuries after the fact) make better study than use of unreliable sources in the here and now. What you're attempting to do isn't history, it's journalism. An encyclopedia cannot be cobbled together like so much sensationalism from TMZ. If you want to include Native-American voices then find academic work to back that up. You can't use a self-published website and then claim WikiProject Systemic Bias needs that source in order to "fight the man." Sometimes finding reliable sources is going to require stepping away from your keyboard and going to the library. I won't be sold on taking the easier, sloppy path to questionable output over taking the well-established path of empirical study. Chris Troutman (talk) 18:32, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
@Chris troutman: I definitely agree that we should not cite random websites. My argument is that Wikipedia needs editors from mainland China because they would have easier access to the most reliable sources on Chinese topics, such as offline publications by universities in China. --J.L.W.S. The Special One (talk) 19:29, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
  • This is a great report -- and so many participants, all with a different slant. Great job, in my humble opinion. There is only one demographic minority I can think of that has not been mentioned: older people. XOttawahitech (talk) 16:39, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
And more generally, people of any age subsisting on fixed incomes due to disability. I have been trying to help make our popular economics articles more consistent with what the peer-reviewed literature reviews say about social safety nets and progressive tax but it has been a hard slog. EllenCT (talk) 01:24, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, Wikipedia:WikiProject Basic Income and Wikipedia:WikiProject Disability deserve a mention. Djembayz (talk) 16:41, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
Good point EllenCT. Also I think I have not seen mention of LGBT? XOttawahitech (talk) 14:59, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
Probably because LGBT topics are, on the whole, pretty well represented on Wikipedia (compared to other 'minority issues', at least). WikiProject LGBT is one of our most active WikiProjects. Robofish (talk) 00:07, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

LGBT topics are pretty well represented on Wikipedia?[edit]

Interesting comment above, User:Robofish. I am no expert, but my experience indicates differently. I vaguely remember coming across a Cuban transgender woman and having a category for her stub(?) article removed. Anyway, what I am really curious about is how one can measure representation/success? XOttawahitech (talk) 11:12, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

I'm not an expert either, but certainly one should not draw inferences based on a single article. Take a look at the work of WP:LGBT. It seems to me that they should keep watch over such articles rather than WP:CSB. It's important to stay out of each other's backyards. -- kosboot (talk) 13:37, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
LGBT issues are very well covered and Chensiyuan previously stated on his userpage that Wikipedia had a pro-LGBT bias. Since this issue was brought up, I have decided to expand on my answer to the question about discussing systemic bias with disruptive editors. I once tried explaining to a white Wikipedian why most Singaporeans disapproved of homosexuality and he responded with a flood of racist comments. --J.L.W.S. The Special One (talk) 14:29, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
J.L.W.S. - where is your expansion (re: dealing with disruptive editors)? I'd like to read it. :) -- kosboot (talk) 16:43, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
The sentence above about the pro-LGBT, racist white editor is a brief expansion. I am unsure if we are supposed to edit our answers after the article has already been published. --J.L.W.S. The Special One (talk) 17:16, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

Systemic bias resulting from paywalled and inaccessible source materials?[edit]

As Chris troutman correctly points out above, we can't solve systemic bias simply by deciding we'll just work on anything besides articles about white males. His remarks bring us to an entirely different aspect of systemic bias that The Wikipedia Library seeks to address. This is the inherent and systemic bias on the Internet towards commercial materials and pop culture, which results from the fact that so much solid, scholarly content and hard data is out of print, hidden behind paywalls, or otherwise difficult to obtain.

I'm hopeful that The Wikipedia Library will help get solid data and information into the hands of editors who aren't connected to universities. Any insights or ideas on how to overcome the barriers for editors who lack access to high-quality source materials? Djembayz (talk) 02:54, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

I'll hope too, but Sionk's use of that word, "recentism" really struck me. There's quite a bit available through Google Books, but I believe people generally prefer to deal with recent times, and avoid historical background (like newspapers do). To me it suggests that The Wikipedia Library should prepare some document like "How to do research" so as to serve as a guide to those who should understand what they're getting involved in and what are the subject's needs. -- kosboot (talk) 04:39, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
This is an underappreciated problem: in many areas where Wikipedia has substandard coverage, it is surprisingly difficult to find reliable sources to write articles with. (And yes, I do use print sources as well as websources such as about, & am a frequent user of my public library's Interlibrary Loan department.) For example, I had to give up writing articles on the top-level ministers of Ethiopia practically before I began due to lack of accessible sources. (I was honestly surprised that bare-bones information -- place of birth, education, highlights of political career -- were not easily accessible. It was easier to write about politicians who lived before the Ethiopian Revolution than after. Maybe Ethiopian politicians are not as publicity hungry as the politicians of other nations?) -- llywrch (talk) 16:55, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

Do policies hinder the study of women and minorities?[edit]

@Chris troutman: You said above that you are concerned with the notion that our policies hinder the study of women and minorities. You say that you don't see any real evidence of that. I am just wondering if you have ever started an article about an notable woman / minority? Are you speaking from personal experience? XOttawahitech (talk) 16:40, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

@Ottawahitech: I've only started a couple articles and none of them had anything to do with subaltern studies. My introduction to expanding historical knowledge into less-covered areas has been the study of Middle Ages Africa. I'm asking for examples of how Wikipedia policies stand in the way of article development because all I'm seeing are accusations. Chris Troutman (talk) 17:38, 27 February 2014 (UTC)


  1. ^ Lander, Christian (2010). Whiter shades of pale: the stuff white people like, coast to coast, from Seattle's sweaters to Maine's microbrews. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks. ISBN 9780812982060. 
  2. ^ Garner, Dwight. "Colorless, Tasteless but Not Dangerous: 'Whiter Shades of Pale' by Christian Lander". November 15, 2010. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  3. ^ "'Whiter Shades of Pale' a hilarious read". The Lakeland Times. Minocqua, Wisc. 2010-12-24. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  4. ^ "Whiter Shades of Pale : NPR". Retrieved 2014-02-23.