Wikipedia talk:Essays

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Deletion of "unhelpful" essays or essays that contradict policy[edit]

Under "Types of essays" and the subsection "Wikipedia essays", the pages states that "Essays may be moved into userspace (or deleted) if they are found to be unhelpful or to contradict a settled point of policy." [bolding added] The idea that "unhelpful" essays can be moved into userspace or deleted seems to be problematic, given that the "unhelpful"-ness of a specific essay is a subjective quality that could be debated. Editor XYZ writes an essay arguing for a different formatting style in the MOS. Some editors find that she she raises valid points. One editor feels the essay is "unhelpful" and it's deleted. Seems like a rather hazy standard for deleting an essay. If by "unhelpful", the sentence means that the essay does not clearly articulate and defend a position, then a clearer definition should be provided. Secondly, the idea that essays that "contradict a settled point of policy" may be deleted seems problematic. Sure, if an editor does an over-the-top, vitriolic rant for 2 pages against the NOR rules, that would not be desirable. But a calm, rational, reasoned essay that calls for conservative modifications to an existing policy would be a useful way of starting a discussion on this issue.OnBeyondZebraxTALK 21:47, 6 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]

I am proposing a new wording of the sentence on what types of essays may be moved to userspace or deleted, following the arguments set out above:

"Essays may be moved into userspace (or deleted) if they do not clearly articulate a point and do not supply rational arguments and examples to support this point. The Wikipedia essay space is not the place for incoherent, rambling, "stream of consciousness" opinion pieces. As well, essays that substantially or entirely consist of a vitriolic, emotional, over-the-top, soapbox-style attack on a settled Wikipedia policy may be moved to userspace or deleted. The latter guidance is not meant to discourage dissent, debate and discussion about Wikipedia policies. In fact, one of the founding principles of Wikipedia is that the entire encyclopedia, including its policies, may be altered by editors, following the procedures that are set out (any such modifications are typically incremental and conservative and are based on widespread consensus). A well-reasoned essay with a calm, dispassionate tone that raises potential concerns or issues with a Wikipedia policy, provides sound supporting evidence and proposes conservative and incremental changes is less likely to be moved to userspace or deleted."OnBeyondZebraxTALK 16:21, 7 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Are suggesting we replace the one sentence with this whole rant above? -- Moxy (talk) 21:54, 7 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]
The word "rant" is not civil and doesn't encourage discussion and dialogue. Part of writing is making drafts and then revising them. In light of your feedback, I am now revising the proposed text. I am trying to propose a new wording that clarifies the boundary line between an unacceptable essay that criticizes a WP policy and an acceptable essay. Here is a new version, with a lot of the text trimmed:

"Essays may be moved into userspace (or deleted) if they do not clearly articulate a point or supply arguments and examples to support this point. As well, the Wikipedia essay space is not the place for vitriolic soapbox-style attacks on a settled Wikipedia policy, and any such essays may be moved to userspace or deleted. Well-reasoned essays with a calm, dispassionate tone that raise potential concerns or issues with a Wikipedia policy, provide supporting evidence and propose conservative and incremental changes are less likely to be moved to userspace or deleted."OnBeyondZebraxTALK 01:24, 8 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]

LOL thanks for the civil link....sorry if you though the word rant was unconstructive....should have said need to "Keep it simple". What is above is better but still overly complicated in my view .....but that said it does explain better then what's there now....lets add it and let other fix up the over wording in time. Moxy (talk) 01:38, 9 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]

WP:POLICIES says essays that go against consensus are relocated to user pages[edit]

Prior to my most recent WP:Be bold edits to this page, the section on Wikipedia essays appeared as follows (bolding added for emphasis):

Wikipedia essays
Typically addresses some aspect of working in Wikipedia. They have not been formally adopted as a guideline or policy by the community at large, but typically edited by the community; and many often have a significant degree of influence during discussions (e.g., Wikipedia:Tendentious editing). Essays may be moved into userspace (or deleted) if they are found to be unhelpful or to contradict a settled point of policy.
  • "Unhelpful": The statement that Wikipedia essays may be deleted under the WP:MfD process if they are found to be "unhelpful" is not what the WP:MfD page says. It says that essays (or any other pages not covered by other deletion processes) may be deleted if they are problematic. Having WP:Essays set the bar for deletion as "unhelpful" is much stricter than setting the bar at being "problematic." "Unhelpful" means it is not deemed to be of much use. "Problematic" indicates that the page in question is causing or may cause problems. If a page is deemed to be unhelpful, this may be because better arguments and examples need to be a added to the essay. This process of incremental improvement through editing is part of almost every page in Wikipedia, including Wikipedia essays. If an essay is deemed to be unhelpful, it should be improved, not deleted.
  • Essays may be...deleted...if they...contradict a settled point of policy:WP:POLICIES does not say that Wikipedia essays that contradict a settled point of policy may be deleted. It says that Wikipedia essays "that are found to contradict widespread consensus" may be moved to user pages. That is the first issue. The second issue is the phrase "contradict a settled point of policy". WP:POLICIES does not use that language. It refers to "contradict[ing] widespread consensus".[1] One can argue that "settled point of policy" means the same thing as "consensus" (since every policy by definition has widespread consensus), but not every widespread consensus is captured in policies. There may be some widespread matters of consensus that are not captured in formal policies. In this case, the policy at WP:POLICIES sets out what appears to be a lower bar for a WP Essay being moved to user pages that what the former WP:Essays rule set out. From my reading of WP:POLICIES, a WP Essay that contradicts consensus can be moved to user pages EVEN if the WP Essay does not contradict policies.
  • Bigger picture issue: From my reading of the policy pages, even the policies themselves can be changed by the community of editors if there is widespread consensus for a change. As such, it would seem that the WP:Essay space could be a place where proposals for changes to policies and guidelines could be made. A WP essay proposing a policy change creates a space for discussion of the proposed change and a place to try to develop a consensus for making a modification to a policy. A WP Essay that gains widespread support and consensus can potentially become a guideline or policy.OnBeyondZebraxTALK 03:57, 8 October 2015 (UTC)[reply]
The changes look fine to me thus far. I guess the wording here is a problem ...As for the new addition I guess its best to cover it in two ways over people not getting the point (same info is covered in the later section). As for the bigger picture this is also covered already...but may not be evident to all..thus needs rewording as you have done for the deletion stuff. -- Moxy (talk) 06:57, 8 October 2015 (UTC)[reply]


  1. ^ Essays are the opinion or advice of an editor or group of editors (such as a WikiProject) for which widespread consensus has not been established. They do not speak for the entire community and may be created and written without approval. Essays that the author does not want others to edit, or that are found to contradict widespread consensus, belong in the user namespace. See Wikipedia:Essays.

Are essays expected to be NPOV? Can they be tagged as POV?[edit]

Today, another editor tagged the essay WP:CHURNALISM with the POV tag, which reads "The neutrality of this article is disputed. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until conditions to do so are met."

That essay, as all Wikipedia essays, already bears the legend "This page is an essay, containing the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints."

So how, exactly, can such an essay be tagged as POV? Readers are defended against the error of taking a point of view expressed therein as a wikipedia guideline, or even as having the credence of an article on Wikipedia.

The editor in question has not done anything more than state his belief that the essay isn't neutral (which is the whole point of essays here, if I'm not mistaken).

When is it ever legitimate to tag an essay POV? loupgarous (talk) 01:56, 14 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Well an essay here is a Wikipedia project page, not an article; so tags whose first words are "This article..." do not apply. Per the first sentence of WP:Essays: Essays... typically contain information, advice or opinions.... Editors disagreeing with opinions expressed in an essay are welcome to write their own essay, or comment on the talk page of the one they object to, but not to misapply our article cleanup tags: Noyster (talk), 08:27, 14 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Proposed merge[edit]

Propose to merge

The first one would be converted to a redir that points here. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 14:18, 12 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Why are there two pages? Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 11:47, 13 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Beats me. My guess is that the more recent one, whichever it is, got started in good faith ignorance of the other one. But that's a guess. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 11:54, 13 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]
I'm for a merge. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 13:24, 13 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Oppose ....this is separated because it was thought that it would be easier to handle the "how-to" material on a separate page instead of trying to shoehorn it in here. This page acts as a parent article that summarize main points, with all sections having appropriate links to more exhaustive pages on each topic. I also think its best to separate factual information (info page) from technical information (help page) as we generally do with policy vs MoS pages. I suggest moving WP:Wikipedia essays to something like Help:Wikipedia essay writing guide and expanding its how-to content and trimming the fluff about essays. WP:Wikipedia essays was used by Wikipedia:WikiProject Essays as a guide before the project died off after the organization of pages under its most projects do.--Moxy (talk) 05:51, 15 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Moxy Where has the community discussed the distinction between factual and technical information? Maybe I'm blind, but that isn't SKYISBLUE to me. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 07:58, 15 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Pls see Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines#Role....but as I mentioned at H:? this distinction between namespaces and usage is all messed up.--Moxy (talk) 08:16, 15 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Sure, I had already reviewed the version history and saw where another ed added that verbiage less than a year ago, but I have not seen any discussion about it and I don't know what it means. Let's just shelve this tangent for now and if I want to revisit it later I'll start a new thread at the talk page for that text. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 09:20, 15 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Please help noob[edit]

Highya, I am trying to understand essays and would like to know if this topic should rather be expanded as an essay as an editor pointed out it doesn't reference a specific section that must change but rather request that editors review scientific sources and be vigilant not to use outdated scientific research to prove the reliability of outdated content regarding cannabis. New research is being released and disected at an alarming rate yet many facts about cannabis still relies on outdated research. As an example see the Afrikaans Wiki article for cannabis where no references are even used to support the pseudo-scientific claim of cannabis use.

There for I would like to ask if I may expand this problem in essay form or would this be frowned upon because it's already being shunned of the talk page. However gist of it makes for a valid argument.

Highest Regards, Mickey ☠ Dangerez 11:22, 17 September 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks for asking Mickey. We may not be making it clear enough that "essays", as we use the term here, are about Wikipedia – how we go about editing, interacting with other editors, comments about Wikipedia policies and practice, and so on – but not about the topics of particular articles. This page will give more of a flavour of the range of Wikipedia essays. You were right in raising your concerns on the talk page of the article concerned, and received comments from several experienced editors. As stated there, everything in our articles has to be based on reliable published sources, so we don't provide a space for editors to air their own opinions: this should be done outside Wikipedia. Finally, if you have an issue with another language's Wikipedia you will have to raise it in the forums there: Noyster (talk), 12:30, 17 September 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Thank you for your quick reply : Noyster, understood. However what happens in the case where sources are no longer reliable but no new sources specifically discuses the reliability of the said source? Do other reliable sources that "disprove" outdated scientific consensus suffice? In other words if reliable sources of the past is disproved be newer research then the content also become unreliable and should either be changed to coincide with current research or should be removed. Thank you for any and all feedback.--Mickey ☠ Dangerez 12:50, 17 September 2017 (UTC)[reply]
If "sources" don't explicitly state that research findings have been superseded by newer research – even if it appears obvious to us – we can't say it on Wikipedia, as that would be "synthesis". Full of rules aren't we! We can be very dismissive of outmoded ideas, as you can see in articles like Flat Earth, but only when we have support from reliable published writings stating that the ideas are outmoded. Without that support, all we can say in an article is "Some studies have found X. Other studies have found Y." According to strict interpretations of "synthesis" we can't even connect the two statements with a "but" or "by contrast"!: Noyster (talk), 13:37, 17 September 2017 (UTC)[reply]
@Mickey, as you describe yourself as a noob, I would steer you away from primary sources like scientific journals and instead get your Wikipedia legs working with WP:SECONDARY sources NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 14:14, 17 September 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Inconsistent enforcement[edit]

Please review Wikipedia:Inconsistent enforcement and contribute! I'm not exactly sure where this essay belongs, but I think it needs to be written...--Paul McDonald (talk) 13:48, 31 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]


There are currently many pages that use {{Essay}} or one of its wrappers but are not tagged on their talk page with our project banner. I'd like to put in a request that this be done using WP:WikiProjectTagger using the standard settings. Are there any concerns or objections? {{u|Sdkb}}talk 05:28, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[reply]