User:MPS/It's ok to use your brain

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    Your brain is not a source for article content, but using your brain is certainly not prohibited when framing content on articles, arguing about guidelines, or discussing article content on discussion pages. In fact, don't think for a second that the rules of Wikipedia require you to turn your brain off. Using your brain is an essential component of editing Wikipedia. Your thoughts and "point of view" count at Wikipedia, but brain use must be subordinated to and guided by policies when editing the "Main" namespace.


    Some editors have been chastised (for example on the WP:NOR discussion page) for using the discussion pages to express their desire to refine the clarity of a certain wiki-policy. They have also wondered whether WP:SYN (the Wikipedia "synthesis" policy) is clearly scoped to allow thinking during editing. This essay seeks to clarify that, in fact it is appropriate to use one's brain when editing Wikipedia.

    Applicable policies[edit]

    • The Neutral point of view policy says that "All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view" but it does not say that discussion on discussion pages cannot express the editorial opinion of individual editors. In fact, discussion of editorial opinions is the purpose of discussion pages. This discussion often involves thinking, which may include your brain.
    • The No original research policy "determine[s] the type and quality of material that is acceptable in articles" but does not necessarily apply to editorial discussions on article discussion pages. In fact, an editorial decision will often require a brain, or in wikipedia's case, many brains.
    • The No original research policy prohibits the "synthesis of published material serving to advance a position" in an article but not necessarily on article discussion pages. Discussion pages are supposed to advance and reconcile various editorial positions. Often, the sources of editor positions are in fact editor brains. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

    Appropriate use of your POV[edit]

    Many Wikipedians have editorial points of view on things; when discussing the article on the discussion pages, wikipedians may occasionally find themselves consulting their points of view to determine "what they think" about how the article is phrased, for example whether they think it is perhaps offensive or awkwardly worded. These editors need not necessarily cite a dictionary definition of "offensive", or consult the NYT manual of style for all style opinions. In some cases, the discussion pages on Wikipedia may permissibly be filled with comments like, "I think this page is ugly" or "this article is offensive; we should adjust some of the wordings". Such unsourced comments on the talk page do not violate WP:POV or WP:NOR.


    Synthesis is defined as "the combining of the constituent elements of separate material or abstract entities into a single or unified entity."[1]

    When you are writing an article on Wikipedia, you may at times find it useful to combine multiple facts together and create the single entity called a "lead paragraph" that summarizes the article. This lead paragraph content may actually reflect facts from the article that were synthesized in your brain.

    Sometimes while editing, an editor may run into NPOV, sourced, verifiable content that meets notability policies but that just looks ugly (for example, proseline and WP:TRIVIA). It is fully within the realm of appropriate editor behavior to be bold and improve the "look" of the prose without necessarily being accused of inappropriate POV-pushing. This may involve combining the fact nuggets into smooth prose. Similarly, if something appears to you to be recentist content on a page, you may eliminate or migrate less relevant content according to judgements you make with your brain. If there is disagreement on your edits, you should seek to form consensus on the discussion page.

    Additionally, when you are creating summary tables you are permitted to use your brain to come up with the number of columns the title of each field names without necessarily citing a source for said fields. The source is your brain. The source is logic. The source is creative license. You may use these sources on the discussion page to advance your editorial position.

    Using your brain for the "common sense test" on talk pages[edit]

    When the article on chess quotes a source to say "over ten billion people play chess on the internet", it is permissible to question this source on the talk page by asking "that number is absurdly impossible; there aren't that many people on Earth." The Wikipedia NOR page does not require this initial discussion page statement to be made with a specific source that says "it is impossible for there to be ten billion chess players." In this case, it would be a sufficient argument (it would not violate WP:NOR or WP:SYN) for the Wikipedia editor to post a source on the talk page saying that the world population is 7 Billion and then conclude (synthetically?!) that it is illogical for the internet chess playing population to be 10 billion.

    Yes, a claim must be sourced when included in an article, but merely using your brain to draw attention to apparent inconsistencies via the discussion page is appropriate use of the brain and is not forbidden by any Wikipedia policies.

    Inappropriate use of your POV[edit]

    Your brain/POV is not a source for articles, and your point of view does not automatically contradict established sources. When editing articles in the "Main" namespace, you must edit in accordance with content policies. These three are a non-negotiable part of editing on Wikipedia:

    • Neutrality -- Your brain has a point of view, but the article must promote all significant points of view on the "Main" namespace.
    • Verifiability -- Your brain knows things, but sources verify things. Your brain is not a sufficient source for verification of facts on the "Main" namespace.
    • No Original Research -- Your brain can put two facts together to create new facts, but these new facts do not belong on Wikipedia "Main" namespace. They must be sourced.

    Summary (created from my brain)[edit]

    When thinking about the content that should be included in Wikipedia, and when registering this opinion on the structure of articles and on article discussion pages, there is no guideline that says you need special sources for your opinions outside of your own brain. Say what your editorial opinion is, and cite your brain. It's ok.

    See also[edit]


    1. ^ "Synthesis".