Wikipedia talk:Neutral point of view

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Achieving neutrality tweak[edit]

@Thinker78: I think the "only" should stay ([1]) - it encourages editors to err on the side of caution when removing the work of editors (on the basis of WP:NPOV), and to do so only with good reason. The sentence builds on the advice in the rest of the paragraph which encourages editors to rewrite or balance material instead of removing it. Without the "only" by contrast, the sentence reads more like an invitation to remove material, and the former phrase "only when you have a good reason", which is extremely cautionary, loses that sense. Everyone normally thinks they have a good reason, but caution is definitely required when using that to justify the removal of content. Re: your prior summary ([2]), BLP guidance is its own creature and the bar for removal is lower for reasons we all know. Iskandar323 (talk) 05:49, 8 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Iskandar323 The former phrase is not merely "only when you have a good reason", which would actually be a good phrasing that would have nothing to do with my concern. The actual former phrase is, "Remove material only when you have a good reason to believe it misinforms or misleads readers in ways that cannot be addressed by rewriting the passage."
It is much more specific in a way that negates other guidelines and policies about removing information. For example, if there is unsourced information that I don't know whether it misinforms or not, then according to the phrase I should not remove it, because I don't believe it misinforms or misleads. Problem is I cannot know if it misinforms or misleads, because it is unsourced.
That's why I think the word "only" in this case is not helpful and conflicts with other policies and guidelines. "Only" is not merely an invitation, it is an absolute that you should only do something and not something else. Therefore, it seems to instruct in only following this guidance, when actually other guidance may have more latitude in removing information. Which is why I removed it. Thinker78 (talk) 21:35, 8 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Thinker78: I would agree that it might negate other guidelines if it referred to unsourced information, but the paragraph begins by explicitly stating: "Generally, do not remove sourced information... - making it clear in my mind that it is sourced content this is under discussion (as an underlying assumption). If you think that is not clear then that seems like an even bigger problem with the statements and I would suggest adding sourced or even reliably sourced in, so that it would read as: "Remove reliably sourced material only when... - that would presumably be more explicit. Surely the only reason to have a sentence at the end of the paragraph reiterating the caution of the first is that the intent is to strongly dissuade the use of the guideline as an improper excuse for deletion? Iskandar323 (talk) 09:01, 9 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Iskandar323, text in Wikipedia guidance is not perfect. Sometimes only a part of a paragraph is changed and other things that made sense before are left hanging. In addition, in the relevant paragraph it is not clear whether the intent is only to talk about biased sources or if the "remove only" sentence can be applied to all information.
As you can see from my original edit, I interpreted the latter sentence to apply to all information. This is evidence that many other editors can also interpret the sentence as I did. Taking away the "only" makes it not be in conflict with other guidance elsewhere. Although for your concern, it would be better maybe to add "In this case," to the beginning of it.
We would have, "In this case, remove material only when you have a good reason to believe it misinforms [...]" This way it connects better to the beginning of the paragraph, is more specific, provides more clarity, doesn't conflict with other guidance that I know of, and reduces the chances of other interpretations. Thinker78 (talk) 00:16, 10 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"In this case" seems to be a good clarification. I think repeating what "this case" refers to (such as "Remove biased material only...". or "Remove reliably sourced material for achieving balance", or some other form like these) would make it even clearer. Unless the restriction to remove is supposed to apply more broadly than the first sentence implies by design.
On a related note, I wonder if moving Biased information can usually be balanced with material cited to other sources to produce a more neutral perspective, so such problems should be fixed when possible through the normal editing process. to the end of the paragraph or even a footnote, swapping it with the last sentence, would make it sound better, as this sentence explains why the guidance says what it says, rather than dictates the policy directly. PaulT2022 (talk) 22:52, 14 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@PaulT2022 oh oh. You threw a wrench into the issue. Lol. Thinker78 (talk) 23:36, 15 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
 Implemented[3] @Iskandar323, @PaulT2022 Any questions or comments feel free to continue this discussion. Regards, Thinker78 (talk) 00:12, 13 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think this edit is very unclear, because "in this case" is separated from the case in question by two intervening sentences.
Honestly, I'd prefer the original state of the page. I think that version was clearer as to the intent, and it's this version that feels like it's referring to removing material as part of the normal editing process since that's what's immediately precedes "in this case". Loki (talk) 01:05, 13 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Generally, do not remove sourced information from the encyclopedia solely because it seems biased. In this case, remove material only when you have a good reason to believe it misinforms or misleads readers in ways that cannot be addressed by rewriting the passage. Biased information can usually be balanced with material cited to other sources to produce a more neutral perspective, so such problems should be fixed when possible through the normal editing process. The sections below offer specific guidance on common problems.

(Note: Check page history of this talk page to compare changes with current wording. Original formatting omitted just for clarity, but it is intended to be retained.) Regards, Thinker78 (talk) 01:47, 13 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'd prefer replacing "In this case" with "Instead". And maybe add a "sourced" between "remove" and "material" if clarity is a concern. Loki (talk) 20:58, 13 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Concur with Loki. "Instead" would be better, or possibly being specific such as "remove such material for achieving neutrality only when you..." / "remove reliably sourced biased material for achieving neutrality only when you..." PaulT2022 (talk) 21:02, 13 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There are several problems with the proposed "tweak". First, policy should be descriptive not imperative so we must not be writing "instructions" for people. Secondly, the wording suggests there is only one circumstance in which material should be removed (misleading, etc.). But there are loads of reasons to remove content otherwise, not least: child protection, legal problems, copyrights, etc. (N.B. The existing text is also awful). Bon courage (talk) 06:43, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think removing the paragraph as Bon courage did here was a good idea. It has so many problems. I agree with them that we should generally not be spelling out each step someone can and can't take in a content policy page. The page should focus on the content in the article, not editor behaviour in getting there. A complete rewrite preserving nothing of the previous content would entirely satisfy NPOV. WP:PRESERVE is part of Wikipedia:Editing policy and suffers perhaps from WP:UPPERCASE where people think "WP:PRESERVE" is all about taking baby steps and retaining material but in fact says "If you think an article needs to be rewritten or changed substantially, go ahead and do so".
The claim in the deleted text "Biased information can usually be balanced with material cited to other sources to produce a more neutral perspective" is simply not true and also feeds into the myth that balance is the way to solve NPOV. Whether it is in medicine, where we don't balance our "biased" Western evidence based medicine approach with Gwyneth's latest health fad, or in politics where a hate-group's article doesn't get balanced with nice things about them. To be honest, I think the word "balance" is so problematic, we should remove it from this policy page. Our section on "Balance" just spends half its time saying, "no we don't really want balance, because that's 'false balance'". Balance is simply an inappropriate metaphor.
If we do think there is good advice for editors in how to deal with existing biased material and work the article towards being unbiased, then it probably belongs in Wikipedia:Editing policy, but to be honest, many times editors complain about the article being biased, what they mean is it doesn't reflect their bias. -- Colin°Talk 08:34, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree that policy are not like algorithms that can be applied without considering the context. If a policy would contain a phrase such as do X when Y, it means that Y, X or both require a context to be understood. Also, each of the core content policy must be applied in the light of other core content policies and common sense. Therefore, even the idea of a section of the policy that would clarify what exactly should be done is kind of wrong. The policy should be kept simple and to a minimum and illustrated with uncontroversial examples. The rest is determined in practice given the actual contexte in the light of the other core content policies and common sense. Dominic Mayers (talk) 09:02, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
+1 ~~ AirshipJungleman29 (talk) 12:24, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have reverted Bon courage’s edit, because I don’t think this works. The para deleted is more general than the para amended, which is only about views. Perhaps some other amendment might be appropriate. Sweet6970 (talk) 12:54, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We could leave it like it is (crap). But just to note, this unheaded opening paragraph is meant to be a summary of the following headed paragraphs, but instead it's a bizarre oddly-specific riff on adding and removing content based on editors having a "reason". Seriously, every editor thinks they have a good reason when the remove content - and sometimes the worse an editor they are, the stronger that belief! Bon courage (talk) 14:12, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I support your revert, they either don't seem to have realized what they'd done or they're attempting to put a personal POV over consensus. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 16:06, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hmm, that response calls the intelligence, competence and good faith of multiple editors into question. Without addressing the issue at all. Classic. Bon courage (talk) 16:29, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Its not a plural they its a singular they. It also clearly addresses the issue of whether or not the revert is supported. We're getting there, but your proposed solution ain't it boo. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 16:43, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm afraid I don't understand either Sweet6970's rational for reverting nor Horse Eye's Black, which seems to be be a personal attack rather than a comment on the actual policy text. The addition of "only" is contentious and should be removed again unless there is consensus for it. But the whole mindset of this paragraph is wrongheaded and misplaced. Can you explain, with examples perhaps, why "generally" NPOV is achieved by adding sourced material to achieve "balance". For example, we often see editors chuck negative things they found in the news into articles about subjects they dislike. WP:NOTNEWS is our policy way of discussing whether those things are unencyclopedic cruft or not. The text here seems to suggest we have to keep this hate-crap and just have to find love-crap to counter it.
Wikipedia:Editing policy already has a section discussing how and when to keep and improve text and how and when to remove it. Editors should take this paragraph over to that policy talk page and argue for something there. -- Colin°Talk 16:47, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The version reverted to does not contain the word "only" it is "Generally, do not remove sourced information from the encyclopedia solely because it seems biased. Instead, try to rewrite the passage or section to achieve a more neutral tone. Biased information can usually be balanced with material cited to other sources to produce a more neutral perspective, so such problems should be fixed when possible through the normal editing process. Remove material when you have a good reason to believe it misinforms or misleads readers in ways that cannot be addressed by rewriting the passage. The sections below offer specific guidance on common problems." Horse Eye's Back (talk) 16:52, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm with Horse Eye's Back here. This paragraph has been around for a long time. It has consensus, and for good reason: content really should not be removed willy-nilly. We also shouldn't be removing whole paragraphs from a policy page without an extremely good reason. Loki (talk) 18:41, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
But, lemme try to answer your point in detail:
This paragraph, unlike how you and BC have apparently interpreted it, is not about removing any content for any reason. It is about removing sourced content to restore NPOV. It should indeed be rare that we have to do this, because what is NPOV is fundamentally based on what the sources say. The rare times I've seen it happen are because one reliable source is absolutely outnumbered by many others to such an extent that even mentioning their claim would be WP:UNDUE.
You seem to be talking about BLPs mainly, which are covered by WP:BLP, which has many reasons to remove sourced information that this paragraph doesn't apply to. Absent any of those reasons, if a reliable source says something about an article subject, we should include that information. That is NPOV by itself; if there is no counter information in reliable sources, we don't need to search for it, and in fact trying to do so is WP:FALSEBALANCE. Loki (talk) 19:02, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I like @Bon courage's thinking of making wider changes to the less-than-perfect paragraph, but I don't think simply deleting it is the answer.
@Colin has a good point about balance. I witnessed the opposite happening with the same result: in the imaginary article about medicine, all mentions of Western medicine can be removed for achieving balance by editors who are dedicated enough, claiming that because 10 reliable sources reported "latest health fad", "unbalanced" mentions of a Western medical textbook should be removed. This doesn't happen with medical articles because of WP:MEDRS, and doesn't happen in articles with multiple editors, but I've witnessed it in niche articles with 2-6 active editors: something gets deleted "for achieving NPOV", followed by "no-consensus/ONUS" calls, resulting in the balance being determined by the editor(s) who drops the stick last.
I do believe that NPOV should not be phrased in a way that allows to use it in a manipulative way I described above. I don't think WP:PRESERVE alone deals with it as NPOV is generally seen as having higher priority. If there's a way to phrase NPOV to be less prescriptive about but still be clear that it cannot be abused by following its letter but not the spirit, I'd support it. PaulT2022 (talk) 21:07, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'd also like to ditch the "do not remove sourced material solely because it seems biased" "Sourced" implies that being sourced gives it special status regarding retention. Everything in Wikipedia needs to be either sourced or source-able. Also we should not be categorically ruling out the possibility of removing material because it is biased. But I agree that a change in a core policy can't be done willy nilly. North8000 (talk) 19:18, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I read it from the other side, as green lighting the removal of unsourced material solely because it seems biased. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 19:33, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay, since some editors believe there are "algorithmic orders" to be followed in "Achieving NPOV" let's at least give this hanging section that title. Personally, I think this is not ideal but let's see where consensus gets us ... Bon courage (talk) 20:08, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Which editors would those be? I don't see anyone saying that, I can't find the quote. Is it in another section? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 20:12, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The sooner we can crystallise what the problem is, the better everyone will be in a position to deal with it. Now: nobody thinks this paragraph in question (at the top of the "Achieving neutrality") is actually good, right? Let's clear this up first ... Bon courage (talk) 20:18, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What editor is the quote from? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 20:19, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
what "quote"? Bon courage (talk) 20:21, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"since some editors believe there are "algorithmic orders" to be followed..." Which editors and where is the quote from? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 20:23, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The unnamed many implying " algorithms that can be applied " as referred-to upthread, of course. Bon courage (talk) 20:26, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The editor that quote is from appears to actually say the exact opposite in context "I agree that policy are not like algorithms that can be applied without considering the context." Horse Eye's Back (talk) 20:28, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yeah, which was the reason to support removal of the para. Bon courage (talk) 03:33, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, so, back to the original question. There are clearly editors that believe that other editors believe there are algorithmic orders. But which editors actually believe, directly, that policy is algorithmic orders to be followed? Because so far the only people to say anything about algorithms are talking about their opponents, not themselves. Loki (talk) 03:51, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nobody's talking about "opponents". Colin's thought was "the page should focus on the content in the article, not editor behaviour in getting there." Dominic Mayers "agreed that policy are not like algorithms". This is an identified problem with the paragraph in question which contains instructions like "try to rewrite ...", "do not remove ... because ...", and "remove material when ...". If you boil it down, here's the pseudocode for what that para is saying:
Switch (content “seems biased”)
case (have good reason to think misleading) : remove it
case (default) : retain AND try to rewrite using other sources
That this is the topmost thing in a section called "achieving neutrality" is bizarre in the extreme, in my view. Bon courage (talk) 06:28, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I understand that's how you're reading it, and why you object to it. But I don't, and I don't think that most readers would either. It's no more algorithmic than anything else on the page, all of which is instructions for how to edit Wikipedia properly, right? You could write "the pseudocode for" any policy page, but in the context of the rest of the policies and guidelines that's clearly not how things work.
Like, there are guidelines that are waaaaaay more algorithmic than this one. The WP:MOS comes to mind immediately, seeing as it literally is a list of very precise instructions that you are ordinarily supposed to follow exactly. But "it's too algorithmic" is not a criticism that it gets, and part of that is why not is that it exists in the context where one of the pillars of Wikipedia is WP:IAR, and the guideline template at the top of the page explicitly says there it should be treated with common sense and there may occasionally be exceptions. Loki (talk) 13:11, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is not a MOS or a guidelines, but (supposedly) a core and non-negotiable policy. Several experienced editors notice this paragraph's script-like nature, but you "don't think that most readers would". Got it. Bon courage (talk) 13:56, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As far as I can tell only Colin has mentioned scripts, who are the other editors? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 14:54, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
scripts, algorithms - see above. Bon courage (talk) 14:57, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
So you said that they mentioned scripts but they actually mentioned algorithms? Why the misleading characterization of the arguments presented by other editors? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 15:13, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
scripts and algorithms are synonymous (also how-tos, instructions, etc.) in my book. Bon courage (talk) 15:16, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Fascinating, might I suggest then that you pick one and stick to it? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 15:22, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My comment regarding a policy not being an algorithm only meant that we must expect that the policy will need to be understood in view of the context. The context is fixed in the case of an algorithm: a mathematical structure, a computer language, etc., but it's not like that in the case of a policy. Trying to compensate for this fact by adding more text to the policy, often only makes it biased toward the contexts that we have in mind at the time of writing. Dominic Mayers (talk) 14:58, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think the paragraph in question is good. It's no worse than any other paragraph in this policy. I don't think it needs to be changed. Loki (talk) 20:31, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I took you to be sarcastic but if thats a real question, yes I consider the paragraph in question to be good. Good =/= perfect, there's always room for consensus bases improvement but there's nothing egregiously wrong with it. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 20:35, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You assumed bad faith. Right. Bon courage (talk) 20:36, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sarcasm, hyperbole, etc aren't bad faith they're legitimate rhetorical devices which are commonly used across wikipedia. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 20:37, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You think it's legitimate to make sarcastic edits to core policy pages? This is an increasingly bizarre exchange. I can assure you: I am trying to clarify things straight & in good faith. It is clear, anyway, what text you you think is good from your repeated reversions. It's not good. Bon courage (talk) 20:43, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is a wikipedia talk page, you will find sarcasm, hyperbole, etc all the way to the top... ANI... Arbcon... Everywhere, its not a big deal and its not bad faith. You say it wasn't sarcastic, I believe you. Can we move on? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 20:53, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
HEB isn't saying that removing the paragraph is sarcastic, they're saying that your assertion that nobody thinks the paragraph was good sounded sarcastic (I'd say "hyperbolic"), because it was obviously false. Nobody's saying that you think the paragraph is good. Loki (talk) 20:57, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Sourced" implies that being sourced gives it special status regarding retention - doesn't it though? I assumed the "sourced" was to simply say that NPOV provisions for striving to keep while editing for balance don't apply to material that's being deleted for failing WP:BURDEN. PaulT2022 (talk) 20:45, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It sure does give it special status relative to unsourced material, in that while unsourced material may be kept (but can also be removed based solely on any editor thinking it's sufficiently implausible), it's assumed that sourced material will be kept unless there's a good reason to remove it. Loki (talk) 20:54, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Okay, this needs to close now. What we have is obviously shit, but some editors love it (for whatever reasons), so it's not going to change as the result of a simple Talk page discussion, Suggest that if any editor wants to propose improvement they can progress towards an RfC, otherwise we can stay with the shit text and everybody can ignore it as they always did (personally, fine by me). As you were. Bon courage (talk) 20:59, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    FWIW, you are perfectly within your rights to start an RFC here. And in fact, that's normally the preferred solution for dealing with disagreements on the talk page. Loki (talk) 03:19, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    In my humble opinion, I don't think for now that an RFC would be useful. The thread just exploded within the last 24 hours and discussions generally run for a week.[a] An RFC could just make it much longer, complicated, and probably equally divisive.[b] My suggestion is to keep discussing because there are a few editors involved, it's not just 2 or 3. Let's try to seek compromise to reach consensus. Regards, Thinker78 (talk) 03:33, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    A bigger issue here is that "Achieving neutrality" is the wrong title/concept for a policy page. It puts the whole thing on a footing of "this is what to do" rather than "this is what neutrality is". From this, stems the problems above. Bon courage (talk) 06:16, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I agree completely with that paragraph. A content policy page should be indeed be describing "this is what neutrality is". How editors get there is for an editing behaviour policy/guideline, of which we have several. There are no end of ways to "get there", including blowing it up and starting again, and NPOV really shouldn't be getting into those details. The current ideas of how to get there are naive and arguments that they are longstanding just show that people have been ignoring / not-gaining from this paragraph for a long time. Most people manage to edit Wikipedia just fine without reading hardly any of the instructions.
    Wrt algorithmic, yes the text is obviously algorithmic and I've seen over many years on Wikipedia and Commons that there are some editors who it seems can't get out of bed and brush their teeth in the morning without a script to guide them. So we end up with instructions appearing here and there that were someone's bright idea at the time but don't really stand up to scrutiny as reflecting actual editing practice or solving general problems. We get arguments that if those instructions are removed then suddenly editors will feel instructed to do the opposite. But I'm not sure why anyone would look to NPOV for guidance on "how to edit", so if we need instructions, and we don't as much as some think, they belong somewhere else.
    But right now I see the talk page is argumentative, hostile, defensive and closed minded, so I don't think it is worth continuing this discussion in that spirit. -- Colin°Talk 08:25, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    It's not as if we don't have WP:NPOVT. But the "how-to" mindset of that seems to have seeped into the policy here. Bon courage (talk) 08:31, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I would support removing the paragraph in question, and I'd appreciate a ping if someone starts an RfC. Most good-faith but poor content is better improved by addition than removal, but it's not sensible to endorse keeping biased content in situations where no one is able to improve it. Firefangledfeathers (talk / contribs) 15:44, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Should delete as a stain on and contradiction of the parent section. In most cases articles should assert the view of the best respected and most authoritative reliable sources and inform the reader of any notable contrary views and explain their context. What in the hell does balancing the bias in sources based on the weight of the opinion even mean anyway? It seems in practice to mostly result in a bunch of talk page argument trying to include junk content. fiveby(zero) 17:26, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I would be strenuously opposed to any version that includes the wording only when... or words to that effect. That goes wildly beyond WP:PRESERVE (which is far more cautiously-worded, with language like "consider"; and it omits a ton of reasons to omit something that are listed under WP:CANTFIX (such as redundancy or triviality.) I feel that people are already too quick to invoke PRESERVE; while I'm not a fan of the maximalist interpretations of WP:ONUS, which is sort of the opposing guideline, this push to expand PRESERVE has the same problems in the other direction. The implication here is that someone can add something new to an article and, if it gets removed, demand that it be restored as long as it can't be shown that the addition misinforms or misleads readers. That's absurd - we need policies that encourage people to actually discuss context-specific reasons for additions, revisions, changes, and removals that can lead to compromise, not people wielding policies like WP:ONUS and WP:PRESERVE as blunt weapons to argue that they win by default. That means that their language should be cautious and advisory, and avoid any language that could come across as saying "you can only remove things from Wikipedia for these reasons, fullstop." --Aquillion (talk) 03:56, 26 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I'm with Aquillion on this one, for the most part. There are some elements in that opening paragraph worth retaining, but anything speaking in a more absolute tone should be removed or rephrased. Language like "consider" (as Aquillion points out) is far more appropriate than "do not", "try", and especially "remove only when". Other phrases like "a good reason" is completely subjective and will definitely mean something different to each editor. This is just spitballing and not necessarily a proposal, but this is how I'd rewrite the opening paragraph:
    Generally, statements that seem biased may exist in the encyclopedia when properly sourced. If a more neutral tone is desired, consider rewriting the passage or section instead of removal. Biased information can usually be balanced with additional material from other sources to achieve a more neutral perspective. The sections below offer additional guidance on how to address common issues.
--GoneIn60 (talk) 18:37, 26 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

RfC question; let's get the ball rolling[edit]

So for the RfC shall the proposal be simply to remove the paragraph at issue, or does some compensatory text/phrase also need to be proposed for elsewhere to make up for anything that might be lost? Bon courage (talk) 15:54, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Societal views on X"[edit]

In the final paragraph of § Naming, it currently says:

an article titled "Criticisms of X" might be better renamed "Societal views on X".

The text's origin dates back to July 2007 and at that time, it had two defined (definitive? whatever) examples: renaming allegations that drugs are evil to societal views on drugs. It was edited one month later to include the "Criticisms of" vs. "Societal views on" examples and in 2010, drugs was replaced with X.

Since only two redirects and no articles use that "Societal views on..." format, I propose changing the text to something closer to the original version, so that it reads:

an article titled "Allegations that X is evil" might be better renamed "Criticism of X" (singular criticism). Or alternatively, "Allegations that X is bad".

Any thoughts? ~~lol1VNIO (I made a mistake? talk to me) 15:41, 16 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I prefer the "X is bad" example. I think it might be easier for editors to understand it as a generic stand-in for any type of judgmental viewpoint. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:11, 20 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The context is that Neutral titles encourage multiple viewpoints and responsible article writing. I'd keep the current wording because it's better to have both sides of an argument. Even if a lot of articles ignore this advice, it's still good advice. Shooterwalker (talk) 03:16, 20 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Structure of this page[edit]

It jumps around a bit, doesn't it?

What would people think about moving WP:BALANCE up to be the parent of WP:BALASP and WP:FALSEBALANCE? And moving "Bias in sources" either up adjacent to WP:BESTSOURCES or down under "Attributing and specifying biased statements" in "Handling neutrality disputes"? Sennalen (talk) 16:38, 16 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

News media coverage[edit]

One of the problems I have found in topics where most sources are news coverage is that the media tend to cover exceptional rather than routine events. For example, man bites dog is more likely to be covered than dog bites man, because the first happens so rarely. Establishing weight in this case using media coverage, articles would imply that the first happens more commonly.

This becomes a problem with subjects that are marginally notable. A city councillor for example was arrested for possession of child pornography, which later turned out to be unfounded. So most of his article was about the charges rather than his political and professional career.

Is there anything in policy that addresses this?

TFD (talk) 14:19, 19 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Somewhat addressed at WP:RECENTISM, and hinted at in WP:NOTNEWS. Blueboar (talk) 14:30, 19 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Taking an example of the last few weeks of Twitter and how fast and as many twists that has taken, I feel we need to revisit our policies around news to caution editors that some stories should just wait until better resolution is known rather than jumping on a burst of coverage. Masem (t) 14:36, 19 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • This problem arises by deciding WP:DUE based on "mentions of the subject" rather than based on "top sources about the subject". Levivich (talk) 14:36, 19 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    DUE desperately needs a statement that nearness to event must be taken in account when figuring weight. Masem (t) 14:38, 19 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • No problem, no need to address any problem. This is coming out of The Daily Caller article where editors have decided to clean it up to protect that outlet's reputation from association with white supremacists in the past. It has nothing to do with recentism or notnews in this case. Andre🚐 16:12, 19 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • The fact that it was the Daily Caller article that inspired the question does not mean the question is invalid. I see this in many bio articles and articles on current events (especially politics). I think it is worth discussing further. Blueboar (talk) 17:00, 19 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That comment was not cool, Andrevan. Levivich (talk) 17:33, 19 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, I'm sorry if you took offense, but I believe that is basically the discussion that's going on Andre🚐 17:47, 19 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's not just recentism. A deeper fix is needed. That would be to also factor in the degree of enclyclopecicness of the content in inclusion decisions. If somebody fell down on stage while discussing a complex economic policy, the majority of the media coverage will be about them falling down. And if POV warriors don't like him, using wp:due, that means that the Wikipedia article will cover them falling down but not the economics content.North8000 (talk) 17:22, 19 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Not even just POV warriors, but editors with good intentions that seem to take "lots of news coverage" equals ripe for inclusion. Understanding when massive news coverage equates to encyclopedic content that meets all content policies is a skill of art and does require more scrutiny of one's own edits to make sure we aren't capturing the tone of the media as well. Masem (t) 17:54, 19 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There are several good points in this discussion. What you're pointing to is a subtle but important point that's at risk of getting lost among the rest: A source's interest may be in information that's not what is most appropriate to an encyclopedia. A lot of news outlets love scandal that drives clicks. That choice of emphasis may say more about the source than it says about the topic. Sennalen (talk) 14:15, 21 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I found Andre's comments about differences between primary and secondary coverage in news media in the #News sources discussion above very helpful (TL;DR: not every press article is secondary). I think it'd cover a lot of issues if primary vs secondary would be seen more critically by editors (i.e. 10 reports about someone falling on a stage in the example above would be primary). PaulT2022 (talk) 18:00, 19 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Good point, and thanks. Andre🚐 18:02, 19 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Another "fix" is to take wp:due in what is probably its intended context. Which is (only) how to cover the "sides" of particular topic within an article. Rather than how to totally exclude coverage of an encyclopedic topic within an article.North8000 (talk) 18:26, 19 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We might need (in this policy) that says something like "You have to provide a basic summary of the subject, even if the sources really really really dive into this totally niche detail."
In the example of a falsely accused public figure, we'd normally yank all of the unfounded information out, so that the article goes from "He was elected and accused of crimes" to "He was elected". But sometimes you'd want to acknowledge it, so that the article goes from "He was elected and accused of crimes" to "He was elected and became the victim of false accusations".
In other cases, you have sources going on at great length about things that never need to be mentioned in an encyclopedic summary. Wedding dress of Lady Diana Spencer is definitely a notable subject, so I'm not saying that all clothing worn on a particular day isn't worth mentioning somewhere in Wikipedia, but you can find sources for who wore what to the Met Gala every single year, and what we need in an encyclopedia is more like "It's a fundraiser" than "Chris Celebrity once wore flip flops to the Met Gala". A mathematically precise replication of what was written about the subject, even if restricted to likely sources (e.g., magazines rather than social media), is not going to produce an encyclopedia article. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:29, 20 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I pretty much agree with WAID and N8000. Thanks to TFD for bringing this up. Huggums537 (talk) 16:51, 6 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Prominence is not frequency[edit]

Perhaps DUE could be worded to say that weight of viewpoints shouldn't be evaluated merely by counting sources? Just some general guidance that "prominence" should not be confused with "frequency". Frequency could establish prominence, but it's dangerous to automatically assume it always does, as evident from the examples above. PaulT2022 (talk) 03:21, 21 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree, prominence needs to take into account reliability and weight. Andre🚐 04:09, 21 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree there's a problem here. I want to be careful that any fix doesn't create more side effects, so it would be safest to start with the low hanging fruit. For example, one source trying to squeeze twenty articles from the same story isn't the same as a story covered by twenty sources. Shooterwalker (talk) 15:33, 23 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's already covered by policy I believe. Andre🚐 18:21, 23 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm pretty sure that @Colin has talked about this problem in the past.
Do we need something that says "You have to write an encyclopedia article"?
Not only do we have to write an encyclopedia article, we are normally doing this from non-encyclopedic sources. Even if all of the sources are scandal sheets and trashy tabloids, the resulting Wikipedia article must be WP:NOTGOSSIP and WP:NOTSCANDAL. Even if all the sources are promotional, the resulting Wikipedia article must be WP:NOTPROMOTION. Even if all the sources are instruction manuals and textbooks, the resulting Wikipedia article must be WP:NOTHOWTO. Even if all the sources are up-to-the-second breaking news, the resulting Wikipedia article must be WP:NOTDIARY and WP:NOTNEWS. This means that some facts that are in reliable sources will not be suitable for inclusion in the resulting Wikipedia article, or will need to be given much less emphasis, prominence, and detail than they were given in the non-encyclopedic sources. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:08, 5 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not totally sure which issue WAID is referring to but I agree with some of the comments in this overall section that heavy use of news media coverage seems to not be working well with DUE. Editors are saying "I've got a handful of reliable sources covering this factoid so therefore we must insert it". All those "reliable sources" have an agenda to push on some political issue, either at the level of newspaper editorial policy, or the journalist's own record. More neutral media outlets or those with an opposite agenda simply didn't cover it at all. But when you Google for "X was accused of Y", say, Google doesn't list all the equivalent sources that chose not to cover that story. So it is hard to determine what the weight of reliable sources is saying.
We weigh using reliable sources, but reliability doesn't mean neutral. If your Google search of reliable sources only turns up sources with one agenda, then it may seem that agenda is important.
FWIW, I've seen this recently with some of the articles on transgender, where we have otherwise "reliable sources" like The Telegraph publishing trans hostile articles daily, sometimes several times a day. It is clearly out of all proportion to the tiny number of people who are trans or their impact on most people's lives, but is a very hot topic politically. How then do we stop DUE making Wikipedia just as trans hostile as The Telegraph when it comes to weight? (If your politics swing the other way, I'm sure you can think of alternative examples). I am wondering whether in addition to assessing if a source is reliable, we take account its bias (at any level, publisher, editor, journalist, etc) and consider that too when assessing weight. -- Colin°Talk 21:16, 5 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't agree that most reliable sources have an agenda. Most reliable sources want to sell papers, get clicks, and monetize eyeballs. Thus clickbait headlines. Beyond that most journalists have a commitment to accuracy and fact-checking and getting the news out. We have stuff like WP:NEWSORG. WP:RSP has carve-outs for opinionated sources that might be reliable but should be attributed for WP:RSOPINION. I do not think we should consider bias when assessing weight other than requiring certain biased sources to be opinionated by consensus, which naturally eliminates most of their weight. It opens a significant can of worms. Andre🚐 21:56, 5 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think Colin has it right. But it's a very hard problem to address in the WP:PAGs. Sometimes I wonder if news sourcing should not count for establishing WP:WEIGHT. It would make Wikipedia less contemporary in what it covered, but that would be a good thing IMO. Too much drama on the English Wikipedia is generated by politically POV editors engaged in warfare over current political topics, using news sources as their cudgels. If instead these editors instead went down the library and starting reading books and journals to think about what content could be made from the knowledge therein, it would be a win all round. Bon courage (talk) 07:30, 6 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Andre's opening sentence conflates "reliable sources" with "newspapers that we regard as reliable sources", which is the focus here. I didn't say all newspaper sources have an agenda, I said that all the ones that POV-pushing editors will find with their google search have an agenda (at some level, journalist, editor, publisher), because it is the agenda that makes that news item newsworthy, and nothing else. As soon as you have enough such sources, the pushers claim they have weight. We do have advice in policy about not including every little news story that may not have lasting significance, etc, etc, but it is difficult to get them to be accepted. I see this attitude on all sides of controversial topics, not just one, and some articles become a list of things folk found in the news.
In the UK at least, the press is strongly political and journalists are expected to biased. Of course there are topics where the journalist do a fairly neutral job but there are plenty articles where the whole point of a story is to continue the agenda of that journalist or newspaper. If one's only sources are such articles, then Wikipedia ends up becoming the mouthpiece of activists and political lobby groups. In the UK, the only mainstream news source that is required to be neutral is the BBC (and ITV/C4 news), though for political stories that tends towards the false-balance trap of always giving the UK government the last word.
I think this is a difficult problem if we rely on an algorithmic mechanism like WEIGHT because there is no way to put on the other side of the balance all the potential sources who chose not to cover that story. We aren't weighing a variety of comprehensive textbooks on topic X to see how they all cover subtopic Y. With strictly biomedical matters, we have MEDRS, which declares newspapers unreliable, so we are lucky that also eliminates them for WEIGHT purposes when they end up giving platforms to cranks and fraudsters and celebrity-no-nothings. If a neutral and subject-knowlegable editor sat down, as WAID suggests, and considered how to "write an encyclopedia article" they would naturally dismiss many of the press stories as distracting agenda promoting nonsense. But if you are an editor who hates the subject, then distracting agenda promoting nonsense is exactly what you want included.
I don't think we can disregard newspapers entirely for news, because many subjects are only covered at present by such stories. I do wonder whether for certain political hot topics, we might require editors to demonstrate weight using a variety of sources of differing bias and not just those clearly biased against (or for) an agenda. -- Colin°Talk 10:13, 6 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agree with Colin & Bon courage here. It's hard to think of a realistic policy fix, but Masem's DUE desperately needs a statement that nearness to event must be taken in account when figuring weight and Bon courage's I wonder if news sourcing should not count for establishing WP:WEIGHT seem most promising. Have these been offered for discussion at WP:VPI yet? DFlhb (talk) 17:29, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think Colin and Andre are both right.
Most mainstream media probably don't have an agenda beyond pandering to the views of their audience - which they do extensively. Not by inventing facts, but by shifting the amount of coverage and the angle (as in who gets the last word in the article). In the UK, there's a whole spectrum of reliable news publications to match every worldview from Guardian to Spectator. Anecdotally, I have made a few successful investments by using Bloomberg to understand what's priced into the market and what isn't - because its coverage tends to bias so strongly towards what its audience believed in yesterday (rather than presenting facts neutrally), that it can actually be used as a signal to measure this.
Letting editors to decide biases of sources and account for them wouldn't improve anything - if the problems are exacerbated by editors' own biases in the first place.
Deciding DUE/WEIGHT from how often a certain news or a POV was reported in the news media leads to articles shifted in the non-encyclopedic direction, both POV-wise (per Colin), and style-wise (per WAID).
Personally, I would support any change that decreases mechanistic influence of amount of coverage in news sources on weight. (I don't think there's a realistic prospect of achieving consensus to exclude them entirely for all topic areas though.) PaulT2022 (talk) 18:23, 6 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Maybe we just need some kind of hint written into the policy and leave folks to argue how strongly to take that hint. It isn't easy though and we'd have to watch it didn't end up excluding or diminishing minority groups simply for being minority groups standing up for their minority.
PaulT2022, you forget that Wikipedia exclude "most mainstream media" in the UK: Daily Mail, Sun, Mirror,... all well known for "inventing facts". Goodness, we even had a prime minister who was well known for "inventing facts" which were duly repeated as factual by sympathetic source we think of as "reliable". And know it is quite possible to deliberately indicate things that aren't so without actually lying. -- Colin°Talk 19:07, 6 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think that most reliable sources have "an agenda", if you understand that concept broadly. For example, the agenda for most scientific papers is "I hope publishing this will advance my career and promote my ideas within my field". The agenda for most magazines is "We will stay in business by publishing what our subscribers want to read, even if that's not what's most important". These agendas do not necessarily harm Wikipedia articles. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:27, 12 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
How does the latter not "harm Wikipedia" if that newspaper's subscribers are unrepresentative and we count that newspaper's weight the same as anyone else? It isn't like there are sufficient newspapers covering all possible sets of subscribers that the whole thing balances out. In the UK, the press is overwhelmingly right-wing. Anyway, I think this concept of a newspaper operating like a listed company tasked with doing whatever is necessary to make most profit through selling the most papers isn't valid, certainly not in the UK or perhaps anywhere that a newspaper is privately owned by an individual. It is well known in the UK that most newspapers push the political agenda of their owners and titles are not always profitable. They don't follow the views of their readers; the job of many newspapers is to instil views in those readers. Perhaps at the level of core values the paper cannot shift readers much, but at the level of individual issues, the reader is very much told what they should care about through relentless coverage of things that poll very very low in most people's concerns.
I think where it becomes most unstuck is when a newspaper, an editor or a journalist has a very specific agenda about some political hot topic. For example, whether the journalist focuses on the disruption and potential harm (to health or businesses) that strikes cause or focuses on the dire state of these businesses or services and how they treat and pay their employees. Whether the they focus on the concerns of trans people, or on the concerns of a minority sect of feminists. Whether they focus on refugees from war and oppression and hatred, or talk only of "asylum seekers" taking "illegal routes" to the UK. And so on. The weight given to one aspect or another is entirely political and agenda based in UK newspapers, with no attempt or desire whatsoever to find any kind of balance or neutrality. I think that has consequences if we are naïve about weight.
Plus I still don't think we have a solution to the problem that newspapers who don't consider a story worthy to report don't get counted when discussing weight. We are not comparing how comprehensive source A deals with topic X vs how comprehensive source B deals with topic X, which is where weight works best. We are dealing with biased cherry picking sources A, B and C highlighting topic X and biased cherry picking sources D, E and F ignoring topic X. We have no way of knowing if there are also G, H, I, J and K also ignoring it, and only A, B and C turn up on any google search. -- Colin°Talk 10:31, 12 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The first duty of a newspaper is to stay in business. If you don't do that, nothing else matters. You can't break the important news of the day if the newspaper's closed. This might be less true for those with billionaires using them as propaganda machines, but it's still very true for smaller and locally owned papers, as well as for many magazines.
Of course newspaper readers are unrepresentative of society as a whole. For example, they tend not to represent the ~15% of US adults who can't read well enough to bother with subscribing to a newspaper. They also tend not to cater to the interests of people who are too poor to subscribe. But the goal isn't really to fairly and proportionately represent the views of humans. If we did that, then we'd be writing that ghosts are real, that birds will die if they eat dried rice, and that it's the mother's fault if she has daughters instead of sons. We are trying to fairly and proportionately represent the knowledge contained in sources, rather than to fairly and proportionately represent the things people believe.
When it comes to questions of individual words and phrases, I think we are often best using formal, encyclopedic language, which tends to be non-judgmental but is not afraid of "labels" (only, we might call it "classification", because that's that formal term for that). We should be wary of following the advice of parenting experts in Wikipedia articles ("Oh, dear, you mustn't hurt his poor feelings by saying he's a bad boy! Just say that he made a bad choice instead"), and instead cheerfully say that some people are right-wing and some are left-wing and some are best classified in other ways, or whose classification is unclear; that there exist things that are scientific and things that are non-scientific, and also things that are pseudoscientific, and it's reasonable to know which is which, when that's clear (and not just because certain sources like to use pseudoscience as a smear word that means 'thing I disagree with'); and that some people would prefer that their actual, avowed beliefs and actions not be described in the standard terms for that concept ("I deny being an AIDS denialist! I'm an extremely brave AIDS dissident, standing up for my right to contribute to the spread of disease and death by promoting misinformation!"). WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:46, 15 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sorry for joining this discussion late. I am wondering if the footnote "c" ( The relative prominence of each viewpoint among Wikipedia editors or the general public is irrelevant and should not be considered.") explains that. I think coverage of some topic in mass-media also fits "prominence among general public" criteria. In that sense, if one viewpoint has been expressed in 5 reliable scholarly publications and was extensively covered in various mass-media, and another viewpoint was described in 4 scholarly publications but not in mass-media, these two viewpoints have the same weight and should be treated as such.
However, if the footnote "c" cannot be interpreted in that way, maybe, we should make it more explicit?
In addition, do I understand it correctly that the footnote "c" explicitly prohibits us to resolve neutrality disputes by majority of Wikipedians' "votes"? Paul Siebert (talk) 02:07, 27 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Support making it more explicit. I think it'd have to be done in fairly general terms as there's no clear agreement in this thread what would impact prominence, but there seems to be a consensus that it shouldn't be done by counting alone (which is echoed in the existing footnote). Different factors affecting relative prominence were listed (nearness of the coverage to the event, amount of coverage in news etc), and I suspect they need to be applied depending on common sense and topic area. PaulT2022 (talk) 03:30, 27 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Prominence and coverage[edit]

I apologise in advance if that has already been discussed, but I have a feeling that the above discussion hadn't led to any adjustment of the policy, and some users still do not discriminate between "prominence" and "coverage". I am frequently facing a situation when one fact found in a single source is being repeated and massively reproduced by a large number of secondary sources, which either directly cite this source or cite each other. The most blatant example was the "NKVD gas van" story: the claim that the Gas van was ostensibly invented by Soviet NKVD. This fact was taken from a single publication from one Russian tabloid, but it was reproduced by more than ten secondary sources, including the book by a Nobel prize winner Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. For a long time, all those sources were used in that article as independent confirmations of that story.

I think, to prevent this type situations in future, it is necessary to explain in the policy that, to determine relative weight, we have to take into account only independent sources (derivative sources should not be considered as independent sources): thus, if some number was published in the article by a scholar X, the publication in a newspaper Y or in an encyclopedia Z (both of them just take that figure from X) should not be taken into account when a relative weight is being determined. --Paul Siebert (talk) 02:58, 27 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I found Andre's comments in Wikipedia_talk:Neutral_point_of_view/Archive_60#News_sources very insightful. A TL;DR version is in the WP:OR: A secondary source... contains analysis, evaluation, interpretation, or synthesis. A simple reproduction doesn't make a source secondary. WP:BALANCE already requires to use secondary and tertiary sources. PaulT2022 (talk) 03:16, 27 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Hi. I'm currently in a disagreement at Reactions to the death of Elizabeth II, so I just have a question. I think it would be better to have partially recognised countries (Northern Cyprus, Somaliland and Western Sahara) under a "partially recognised states" section as it makes the articles neutral, whereas another editor thinks they should be amongst other normal/recognised countries' sections as the sources that cite them in the article consider them a country. I was just looking for some advice on this as per the NPOV policy? Thanks. - Therealscorp1an (talk) 21:29, 15 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Recent addition of WP:FRINGESUBJECTS shortcut to Fringe theories and pseudoscience[edit]

I have concerns with the recent addition of the shortcut to Fringe theories and pseudoscience subsection. The stated rationale for this addition was "since the shortcut name has caused confusion about the scope, provide another alt", but i believe that the confusion comes from the text of the paragraph. As a background, this addition was added as a result of a disagreement elsewhere see here here here here and especially here. To quote that last one the editor in question stated "All fringe subjects fall under WP:PSCI. This is explicit.'

I believe that all fringe subjects fall under WP:fringe and if WP:PSCI is meant to be a shorthand for the longer and not policy WP:fringe then we should rewrite the paragraph under WP:PSCI to match what is in WP:fringe, which most definitely does not say that all fringe topics are pseudoscience. Looking at the paragraphs under WP:PSCI, there are 10 sentences, 8 of which talk about pseudoscience explicitly and exclusively and we say the word 'pseudoscience' 9 times. The only mention of anything aside from pseudoscience is one sentence which states (in part) "This also applies to other fringe subjects, for instance, forms of historical revisionism that are considered by more reliable sources to either lack evidence or actively ignore evidence, .." (example removed)" Im not totally sure what the 'this' in that sentence is referring to.

Conversely, WP:Fringe states in its lede "... the term fringe theory is used in a very broad sense to describe an idea that departs significantly from the prevailing views or mainstream views in its particular field." That guide goes on to to specify different types of fringe theories (Pseudoscience, Questionable science, Alternative theoretical formulations) and in fact goes on to state that neither questionable science or alternative theoretical formulations should be described as pseudoscience.

So i propose the following, we rewire most of Fringe theories and pseudoscience to be more or less in line with Fringe. Perhaps:

"We use the term fringe theory in a very broad sense to describe an idea that departs significantly from the prevailing views or mainstream views in its particular field. A Wikipedia article should not make a fringe theory appear more notable or more widely accepted than it is. Thus, when talking about fringe topics, we should not describe these two opposing viewpoints as being equal to each other. While a fringe theory may in some cases be significant to an article, it should not obfuscate the description of the mainstream views of the scientific or academic community. Any inclusion of pseudoscientific or fringe views should not give them undue weight. Pseudoscientific views should be clearly described as such. An explanation of how scientists have reacted to pseudoscientific theories should be prominently included. This applies to pseudoscientific claims, forms of historical revisionism that are considered by more reliable sources to either lack evidence or actively ignore evidence, questionable science, alternative theoretical formulations, medical misinformation and conspiracy theories. (updated per feedback below)

Or something like that to make clear that this applies to all fringe topic, but that not all fringe topics are pseudoscience, or questionable science or history revisionism for that matter. Bonewah (talk) 14:11, 7 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, no. Because it leaves the door open (as it seems you want) to giving undue weight to medical misinformation, as well as conspiracy theories, alien stories, Bigfoot, creationism, etc. etc. etc. The broad wording of NPOV currently is exactly right: all "fringe subjects" are subject to the wording in WP:FRINGESUBJECTS. The section name is, after all "Fringe theories and pseudoscience" - that is, deliberately broad. To omit (as proposed) this existing policy requirement would strike at the heart of Wikipedia's neutrality:

The pseudoscientific view should be clearly described as such. An explanation of how scientists have reacted to pseudoscientific theories should be prominently included.

Bon courage (talk) 14:50, 7 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think everyone's pretty clear that due and undue weight apply to all subjects. This argument seems more about wounded pride. Sennalen (talk) 14:58, 7 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
OP also seems to misunderstand: WP:FRINGE applies to both fringe subjects and minority views which are not fringe, pseudoscience and theories which are not pseudoscience, but pseudoscience-adjacent. The FRINGE guideline describes how to differentiate them and how to treat each of these. One cannot skirt FRINGE (or this section of NPOV) simply because one believes a theory is more plausible, or because one finds slightly more evidence in the literature in favor of one or another theory.
This proposed rewrite does not fix any problem, and no current discrepancy exists, as far as I can ascertain.
This also applies to other fringe subjects, for instance, forms of historical revisionism that are considered by more reliable sources to either lack evidence or actively ignore evidence, .." (example removed)" Im not totally sure what the 'this' in that sentence is referring to.
It was very clear to me when re-reading it. "This" refers to the entire section. — Shibbolethink ( ) 14:54, 7 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think there's broad agreement about what the policy says, but there's still some doublethink where editors will link these shortcuts while arguing to treat fringe as all-or-nothing. Sennalen (talk) 15:01, 7 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If the concern here is that we might give undue weight to medical misinformation, as well as conspiracy theories, alien stories, Bigfoot, creationism, etc. etc. etc. as you say, then we should write the section in such a way so that it doesnt. Further i fully understand that WP:FRINGE applies to both fringe subjects and minority views, which is exactly why i want *this* section to reflect that. As it stands now, the section in question only mentions non-pseudoscience once while WP:FRINGE itself immediately specifies that it is not just about pseudoscience. If you really want to prevent editors from skirting FRINGE, then, in my opinion, the best solution is to rewrite this section of NPOV to make it clear that it applies to things that are not pseudoscience but are fringe. This is especially relevant as this page is actual policy whereas FRINGE is a guideline. And the notion that this is 'about wounded pride' is absurd as the stated rationale for the addition of the shortcut in question was to clear up confusion about the scope. I agree that there is confusion as to scope, this is an attempt to correct that. Bonewah (talk) 15:44, 7 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The section is already written that way [my emphasis]:

The pseudoscientific view should be clearly described as such. An explanation of how scientists have reacted to pseudoscientific theories should be prominently included. This helps us to describe differing views fairly. This also applies to other fringe subjects, for instance, forms of historical revisionism that are considered by more reliable sources to either lack evidence or actively ignore evidence, such as claims that Pope John Paul I was murdered, or that the Apollo Moon landings were faked. ...

At this point I think you need to say what the intended effect of your change is, and give one or two concrete before-and-after examples of how an article would be different if you got your way. As I see it this opens the door to a load of WP:PROFRINGE-iness. Bon courage (talk) 16:14, 7 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My intended effect is to clarify that WP:PSCI applies to all manor of fringe topics, not simply pseudoscience. I fully admit that i misunderstood you in the previous discussion and I agree that the shortcut PSEUDOSCIENCE is badly chosen shortcut name, as you stated here. As i stated earlier, the confusion stems from the fact that as written (prior to your edits) almost everything about this section references pseudoscience only, says pseudoscience repeatedly and was even shortcutted pseudoscience. I view myself as a fairly run of the mill editor and it stands to reason if I viewed this section as only applying to pseudoscience, then other editors most likely will as well. You must at some level agree as, again, your stated rationale for your change was to clear up confusion.
To provide a concrete example, if someone were to edit an article about economics, say Monetary policy, to include references to Modern Monetary Theory, you might (rightly) caution against providing false balance or undue weight, citing, (again rightly) WP:PSCI. The other theoretical editor might, also rightly, reply that MMT isnt pseudoscience, its more like an alternative theoretical formulation, and nothing in WP:PSCI says anything about that. Im sure you know how the rest of this exchange would go, you cite FRINGE, they point out that FRINGE isnt policy, etc etc. The solution? Make PSCI a paragraph or so summary of FRINGE, which mentions pseudoscience but also mentions all the other things that FRINGE goes on to clarify. Bonewah (talk) 16:39, 7 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We can't make people read the policy, but in your example the 'solution' is to use the new shortcut and not PSCI to clue them in better. So it's unclear why you have 'concerns' about the new shortcut. Bon courage (talk) 04:25, 8 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree here that "fringe" and "pseudoscience" are not synonyms, but my concern is mostly opposite of OP's. There are many fringe topics which do not claim to be scientific, such as astrology, and therefore using the word "pseudoscience" to refer to them is inaccurately narrow. But personally I would just remove the references to "fringe" from the section on pseudoscience, as it's perfectly reasonable to have a section on pseudoscience specifically. Loki (talk) 21:45, 9 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That consequence of that would be to remove the policy requirement to identify non-pseudoscience fringe topics (moon landing hoax e.g.) as such prominently, and to contextualize those fringe views with mainstream expertise. Not a good idea and a WP:PROFRINGERS charter. Bon courage (talk) 06:21, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@LokiTheLiar: You and I are saying the same thing, the word pseudoscience is inaccurately narrow and "fringe" and "pseudoscience" are not synonyms. As written WP:PSCI speaks almost exclusively about pseudoscience, we should expand it to cover all the things covered in wp:Fringe. I agree with Bon courage here, if we removed everything except the material covering pseudoscience, then we would, in effect, be saying, this policy does not cover non-pseudoscience material such as history revisionism or astrology or whatever. Bonewah (talk) 15:36, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Bon courage: Isn't that already in WP:FRINGE? If not it definitely should be, right? Loki (talk) 16:28, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
FRINGE is only a guideline. We have enough trouble with WP:PROFRINGE editors lawyering about that as-is. I think nerfing core policy would require a policy RfC and it would send out a very strong message that Wikipedia was going soft on fringe topics, one of the very pillars of its reputation. Bon courage (talk) 16:33, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Okay I've attempted a rewrite that hopefully doesn't change the meaning, but clarifies it. Dominic Mayers has changed "relevant experts" back to "scientists". The problem is that for certain fringe views (pseudohistory for example) it's not 'scientists' who represent the mainstream, but acknowledged experts in their non-science fields. How to square this circle? Bon courage (talk) 16:58, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I did not realize what was the purpose. Why not just use "experts" by itself, without the "relevant" in front of it. Dominic Mayers (talk) 17:14, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Because we often have a fringe problem because experts in one field support nonsense in another. Bon courage (talk) 17:23, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I support this rewrite. Loki (talk) 17:29, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Bon courage: I dont see how this is a nerf as im proposing expanding the definition here to match what we currently have in wp:Fringe. As written, it looks as though WP:PSCI only applies to pseudoscience, when it should be a summary of what is in WP:fringe. Bonewah (talk) 18:40, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You removed the principal requirements: "The pseudoscientific view should be clearly described as such. An explanation of how scientists have reacted to pseudoscientific theories should be prominently included". Bon courage (talk) 18:56, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ok, ive added that line as well. Bonewah (talk) 19:07, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You're all getting into the weeds and mixing subjects together that don't belong together. The solution, as proposed in the next section, is to deal with them separately. Pseudoscientific topics are fringe topics, but not the other way around. Instead of wasting a lot of time and effort to explain that, just deal with pseudoscience as a subcategory (in its own section) of fringe theories.

Now please read the next section before proceeding here. Maybe the problem can be solved in an easier way than continuing this discussion. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 19:58, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Controversial subjects" revamp[edit]

I think we could resolve some of the problems mentioned in the previous section by zooming out, taking a broader view of the topic, and then revamping the whole section. Mashing several topics under one heading often creates problems, so let's stop doing it.

Here's the current situation:

Controversial subjects (Shortcut: WP:SNPOV)

  1. Fringe theories and pseudoscience (Shortcuts: WP:PSCI WP:PSEUDOSCIENCE WP:FRINGESUBJECTS)
  2. Religion (Shortcut: WP:RNPOV)


  1. Why the shortcut "SNPOV"? Why not CSNPOV? What's the "S" stand for?
  2. Are there really only three controversial topics? Of course not. AP2 proves we should include "Politics" here.
  3. A typical rule of thumb in many societies (to avoid unpleasant arguments in groups) is to not discuss controversial topics like politics, religion, money (economics), and sexuality.
  4. Therefore, why aren't we covering all of them in our "Controversial topics" section? We should include the others.
  5. To avoid disputes, we should keep each item in its own section and not blend them, as is currently done in the "Fringe theories and pseudoscience" section.

Accordingly, we should revise and develop the "Controversial subjects" section so it looks something like this (in alphabetical order):

Controversial subjects (Shortcuts: WP:CSNPOV / WP:SNPOV)

  1. Fringe theories (Shortcuts: WP:FNPOV / WP:FRNPOV / WP:FRINGESUBJECTS)
  2. Economics/Money (Shortcuts: WP:ENPOV / WP:ECONNPOV / WP:MNPOV / WP:MONPOV
  3. Fact vs Opinion (Shortcuts: WP:FONPOV)
  4. History (Shortcuts: WP:HPOV / WP:HIPOV)
  5. Legal disputes (Shortcuts: WP:LNPOV )
  6. Politics (Shortcuts: WP:POLNPOV
  7. Pseudoscience (Shortcuts: WP:PSNPOV / WP:PSCI / WP:PSEUDOSCIENCE
  8. Religion (Shortcuts: WP:RNPOV / WP:RELNPOV
  9. Sexuality (Shortcuts: WP:SNPOV / WP:SEXNPOV

More thoughts:

  1. Obviously, each Wikipedia would have to work out their own versions of this, as "controversiality" varies greatly from culture to culture.
  2. Each section should include a prose sentence linking perennial examples of the most controversial articles.
  3. Because the amount of controversy varies so greatly, the size of sections can vary a lot, and that's okay.
  4. We could choose to order the sections alphabetically or according to controversiality (right there we risk a nasty debate). Therefore, I favor alphabetical to avoid that debate.

What think ye? -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 17:33, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The basic idea is simple : a point of view should have the same importance in the article as it has in the sources and unless it is considered a fact it should be attributed. It is the same principle that applies in all these cases, fringe theories, etc. The question is what sources should be used and how these sources can be used to determine the importance of a point of view and when it can be reasonably accepted as a fact (that do not need attribution). Trying to answer that question in advance at a general level for special cases, would require that we consult the relevant community at large in each case and it would only be valid temporarily and could always be contested, because these things change. My point is that we need to accept that there is a need to trust the collective intelligence in the application of the basic principle in each case. Dominic Mayers (talk) 19:57, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Dominic, that makes sense, but I think you dropped your comment in the wrong section. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 19:59, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It applies to both sections, but I would not go as far as removing the sections for the special cases (pseudoscience, fringe theories, religions) that are already considered, because they seem to match what the community at large currently accept. It still applies to these cases, because would the community starts to thing differently about science or religion, they would become obsolete and we would have to go back to the basic principle. However, doing the same for politics, etc. seems a big task and it is not worth it. Dominic Mayers (talk) 20:09, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
??? I have not proposed removing any sections. On the contrary. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 20:33, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I know. I argued that creating a section for each case is a lot of work and not worth it, but added that I would not go as far as removing the existing sections. Here is a way to see what I mean, but I am not sure it will help. I try anyway. If NPOV existed at the time of the Roman empire, it would have been understood . In fact, at that time, Tacites stated
    Nos consensum auctorum secuturi, quae diversa prodiderint, sub nominibus ipsorum trademus.
    (We will follow the consensus opinion of the authors, and where those opinions differ, we will report them under each individual's name.)
        — Tacite. Annales XIII, 20.

which is very close to the principle of attribution of NPOV. The core of NPOV makes sense irrespective of any value attributed to science, religions, etc. It would also have been accepted as reasonable in the middle ages. In contrast, if the section on religion existed in the middle ages, its authors would have been sentenced to be burned alive. My point is that NPOV should stick to the core that makes sense and is acceptable irrespective of any belief or science. We can make an exception for science as a whole and religions, but creating special sections for politics, etc. is going too far. Dominic Mayers (talk) 21:35, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Perhaps the easiest way to make your writing more encyclopedic, is to write about what people believe, rather than what is so. If this strikes you as somehow subjectivist or collectivist or imperialist, then ask me about it, because I think that you are just mistaken. What people believe is a matter of objective fact, and we can present that quite easily from the neutral point of view." -- Jimbo Wales
When it comes to NPOV, there are general principles that apply to all topics. Those principles can be stated, as they apply to controversial topics, at the beginning of the section. Then in each subsection, we can provide more topic-specific information, especially to earlier discussions and decisions, such as ArbCom, WP:NPOV/N, etc.
I am not proposing this format be instituted immediately. We can take each one, stick our heads together here on the talk page, and each contribute whatever ideas and resources we can find. That way we gradually build the format so it's more logical. We know there are more than just three controversial topics. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 21:46, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The content of each section could vary quite a bit. Some sections may only contain links to pertinent ArbCom decisions and other discussions. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 20:40, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I like this general idea, but what would actually be in the new sections? The section on pseudoscience/fringe and the section on religion give relevant advice as to what needs to happen to maintain NPOV in those topics. I can see that reasonably easily in politics, for example, but it's a harder thing to quantify in sexuality or economics or law.
Also, if we split out fringe and pseudoscience, pseudoscience should be a subcategory of fringe rather than a whole separate section. Pseudoscience is a kind of fringe topic, not a wholly separate thing. Loki (talk) 20:41, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I fully agree that pseudoscience is a subcategory of fringe, and not the other way around. The discussion above seemed to blend the issues and some comments got it the other way around. Treating them separately resolves any problems. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 20:48, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yeah I agree with that. Loki (talk) 20:55, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As an addendum, let me suggest some general outlines for some of these:
  • Law: If at all possible, cite reliable secondary sources rather than the primary legal documents composed by the parties. If relying such documents is necessary, do not use primary legal documents from only one side and not the other.
  • Politics: Similar to law, try to cite reliable and neutral secondary sources. WP:BIASED sources can still be useful for facts but are often less useful for analysis of those facts. Avoid citing campaign materials or other political primary sources directly.
  • Sexuality: Some sexuality topics also border medicine, and in those cases WP:MEDRS applies. BLP concerns are often especially relevant here: don't cite the sexuality or gender identity of a living person to anything but the most reliable of sources. Be aware of the overall consensus of the sources and don't rely on any single source: especially in this area, some sources that might appear reliable to an outside observer are actually strongly against the consensus of experts like WPATH or the APA.
Loki (talk) 20:55, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • The original problem being addressed was not the policy itself, but that users didn't read it (and were misled by shortcut names). This kind of major rewrite is really trying to boil the ocean, and plays all 12 tones of the drama scale. I'm out of here! Bon courage (talk) 20:46, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Note that we are keeping the content of the existing sections. My proposal just adds more sections that we can slowly develop, one at a time. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 21:50, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I understood this and I believe that others understood it as well. I (and I believe some others as well) think that adding other sections is going too far. I don't believe that it would really help. There are two cases. The first case is that the content of a special section is the consensus. In that case, the special section does not do much, because it is already the consensus. The second case is that it is not the consensus. In that case, we must go back to the basic and general principle and the special section should be ignored. What is useful are examples of non controversial decisions that illustrate the basic principle, but only a few simple examples are sufficient. After that, we need to trust the collective intelligence. Dominic Mayers (talk) 22:05, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I see what you mean. I may tend to be too "all-inclusive" "cover all bases", a "box for everything". Face-wink.svg Feel free to ignore. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 22:34, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I will reply in the next section in which you try to implement whatever idea you have. Dominic Mayers (talk) 23:46, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I like the approach of more specific subsectioning. In particular, the separation of Fringe from Pseudoscience, where Fringe could be focused on mentioning things in discussion avoiding UNDUE weight, and Pseudoscience could be focused on being clear to include the scientific rejection. That would allow for handling things like actual scientific debates or things like claims that Pope John Paul I was murdered, or that the Apollo Moon landings were faked on a simple Fringe WP:WEIGHT basis. Though I think making a specific Pseudoscience section has a hurdle of folks just seem to like throwing a vague pejorative even if the topic is not science or the word "pseudoscience" is not WP:V supported, and anything that says when an article should/should not use the phrase or category may run afoul of that liking. (I'm currently in a TALK about that at Nazi eugenics - me saying that nothing in the article mentions pseudoscience and really should be clear that The Holocaust was odious social programs and corrupt politics, not lead off as if it's about science.) Cheers Markbassett (talk) 14:32, 4 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    There's really no need for anybody to invoke pseudoscience to bring NPOV's requirements for mainstream context into play, as that requirement is for all WP:FRINGESUBJECTS not just the pseudoscience subset. I have no intention of editing the article, but there is an awful lot of pseudoscience in Nazi ideology (see for example.[4]), so I would expect WP's article to mention that. Bon courage (talk) 15:04, 4 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    User:Bon courage Actually that book seems to support going the other way. That scholarly collection seems to not use that term at all nor have such content, as I believe most do not. (Maybe because eugenics was scientifically accepted in the 20's by anthropologists, geneticists, and biologists -- and there is just a lot to say in other areas about the history and politics, about exploiting the meme of blood purity for power and justification rather than anything of science.) When one looks at the Amazon 'Look inside' of the book, the index has no listing for 'pseudoscience' -- and table of contents shows the parts are more about racist ideology and ethnic nationalism. It's apparently not about faking of science, certainly not to being a large amount of the content, and I think partly as serious works typically just do not use vague pejoratives. Cheers Markbassett (talk) 18:04, 5 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    The Holocaust was the result of racial pseudoscience. The whole racial delineation of society which was the basis of the odious social programs and corrupt politics was pseudoscientific. You got that one 100% wrong. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 16:48, 4 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    User:Horse Eye's Back Please show the WP:V where you got that it was "the result of pseudoscience", preferably show that such WP:V is common among scholars and/or major enough factor to deserve WP:WEIGHT of mention. Basically, I think the general view is only the later part you said "odious social programs and corrupt politics". I do not think scholars view the choices made as fundamentally motivated by science, nor that the historians view eugenics as being at all fringe in the 20s or that the Holocaust is mostly about faking scientific studies. Cheers Markbassett (talk) 18:22, 5 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Nobody said that it was fundamentally motivated by science, Nazi racial theories ("The Nazi Party adopted and developed several pseudoscientific racial classifications as part of its ideology (Nazism) in order to justify the genocide of groups of people which it deemed racially inferior.") were clearly and plainly pseudoscientific. If you need sources you can find them there. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 18:58, 5 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • What is the history of separating Fringe and Pseudoscience out from Religion? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 16:49, 4 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Part of the problem is that controversial topics can overlap. As an example… say we wish to cover a politician’s stance on subsidies for green technology. He makes a speech in which he states that he thinks climate change is overstated. Would covering this speech fall under the NPOV rules for “politics” or those for “pseudoscience”? It’s really both… so what if those rules disagree? Blueboar (talk) 18:32, 4 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Do they though? A statement about the degree of climate change is in the realm of science, so scientific sources apply. One WP:PROFRINGE gambit often tried is to take such material into the realms of politics (claiming, for example, that statements about vaccine efficacy are 'political'). This is easily resisted since source-wise, the strongest sourcing (scholarly, peer-reviewed, secondary, etc.) will be science-oriented in such cases and so squish the political stuff in WSJ (or whatever). Bon courage (talk) 18:44, 4 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Articles that are typically contentious[edit]

Please add links to the articles you can think of that are most often associated with contention as related to NPOV.

Controversial subjects

  1. Fringe theories
    1. Fringe theories,
  2. Economics/Money
    1. Economics, Capitalism, Communism, Socialism, Social democracy, Trickle-down economics, Supply-side economics
  3. Fact vs Opinion
    1. Wikipedia:Facts precede opinions (essay),
  4. History
    1. History, Historical revisionism, Pseudohistory
  5. Information
    1. Information warfare, Propaganda, Conspiracy theories, Disinformation, Firehose of falsehood
  6. Legal disputes
    1. Law,
  7. Politics
    1. Politics,
  8. Pseudoscience
    1. Pseudoscience,
  9. Religion
    1. Religion, Atheism, Agnosticism, Religious violence, Freedom of religion, Separation of church and state
  10. Sexuality
    1. LGBT, Transgender, Gender dysphoria, Legal status of transgender people, Transgender discrimination
  11. Social justice
    1. Civil disobedience, Revolution

Valjean (talk) (PING me) 22:31, 10 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I suspect that you want to look at difficult cases in different categories and try to build a specific interpretation of NPOV for each category. The first issue is that the interpretation of NPOV within a category would still not fix the decision for each case in the category. It would still have to be interpreted in each individual case. Therefore, the goal in itself is far from being a full solution to the application of NPOV. The second issue that any solution for a particular case will only reflect the perspective that prevails among the wikipedians that worked to resolve this contentious NPOV case. Trying to extract an interpretation of NPOV from a few cases like that within a category will be yet another challenge. After all this work, the result would still be relative to the perspective of the wikipedians that worked on this. It would not be an objective interpretation. In fact, I worry that, if the interpretation is accepted as a permanent principle, it would only have crystallized a bias that exists among a few wikipedians. You might have in mind that a very large group representative of the global community would work on each case and each category : that would explain why we pick a few contentious cases only in each category. That is a lot to ask and seems unrealistic, but even then it would represent the bias of the community at the time and could not be accepted as permanent : only the basic principles are non negotiable. It would be an ongoing work. To conclude, this approach requires an unrealistic participation of the community only for a partial solution that would be an ongoing work. It is an interesting idea, but there is a simpler approach. Let us just focus on a single ingredient that is required in your approach: have the community learn to apply the basic principle of NPOV in each individual case, without worry about categories and intermediary interpretations for these categories. The point is that the basic principle is clear enough in itself and there is no need to write down intermediary interpretations for different categories. Dominic Mayers (talk) 00:45, 11 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with your last point in the previous section, so am not going to go much further with this. I'm interested in finding the controversial articles so I can search their archives and related dramaboard decisions. I don't think that can apply to other topics or that we can even begin to do any type of full justice to the matter. At this point, I'd just like to do some research. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 01:05, 11 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
WP:ACDST for the contentious topics on Wikipedia currently. Bon courage (talk) 05:33, 11 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks! The work is already done for me. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 05:43, 11 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think you're missing a large section of articles by going for the obvious... IMO the areas with the most pervasive NPOV issues are transportation, sports, and celebrities (particularly musicians) because in those areas more than others articles are created by fans. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 16:11, 23 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Another take -- Not sure if looking for NPOV or controversy here, and whether this is wanting areas or specific articles. I like specifying these areas and I can seek "most often" by looking for what frequently comes up WP:Contentious and WP:Contentious topics in the WP:NPOV link to NPOV noticeboard, or the WP:LCI list and links Wikipedia:Controversial articles and Category:Wikipedia controversial topics. In addition to "most often" re that 'most often associated with contention as related to NPOV', I might also suggest looking at the causes. It seems to me I often seem issues from subjective values (computer game TALK was the rudest I've seen), wanting only one POV (just the fact and no POV, or only the 'best' side), or wanting a particular non-neutral wording. Cheers Markbassett (talk) 19:21, 5 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"On a topic"[edit]

The WP:V WP:NPOV preamble says:

"...representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without editorial bias, all the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic."

That means this policy is applicable only to the cases when more than one point of view exists on some concrete topic. However, the words "on a topic" are omitted in WP:DUE, which says:

"Neutrality requires that mainspace articles and pages fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint in the published, reliable sources".

These words are interpreted by some users as a criterion for inclusion of some topic into articles: the topic (not "the viewpoint") covered by many sources should be included, but the topics covered in an smaller number of sources should not. IMO, that is incorrect, and I propose to add the words "on a topic" to WP:DUE as folows:

"Neutrality requires that mainspace articles and pages fairly represent all significant viewpoints on a topic that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint".

I also think " in the published, reliable sources" is awkward and redundant, because the meaning of "published" is discussed in WP:V. -- Paul Siebert (talk) 00:59, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Paul Siebert: I assume you meant WP:NPOV not WP:V ......recommend correcting. North8000 (talk) 17:31, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, fixed.--Paul Siebert (talk) 17:51, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think that adding "on a topic" is fine. I wonder if it should be "on the subject of the article"?
(I wonder whether we should ever address "viewpoints". A viewpoint is content about the subject that can differ based on how you look at the subject: When I look at ("view") the subject from this place ("point"), I think this is a problem; when I look at the subject from this other place, I think this is okay. However, there aren't any extant viewpoints about some rather boring subjects, e.g., Entomocorus benjamini. A neutral encyclopedia article in such a case is one that provides the expected facts and no viewpoints.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:26, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Consider this example. 50 sources say oranges contains a lot of vitamin C, 2 sources say otherwise. These sources are in an obvious conflict with each other. The "topic" is "if oranges are a good source of the vitamin C", and per WP:DUE we should present the view that oranges have a lot of vitamin C as a majority view (and, probably, not to mention another view at all).
Another example: 50 sources say oranges contain a lot of vitamin C, and 2 sources say apples are a good source of vitamin C. Unlike the first example, there is no conflict between the sources: the first group of sources say nothing about apples, the second group says nothing about oranges. Therefore, WP:DUE is not applicable: the topics are different.
However, I noticed that some users refer to WP:DUE and argue (I will continue using this artificial example) that, since oranges are mentioned in 50 sources and apples only in 2, then (ostensibly per WP:DUE) we should tell about oranges, but not about apples. Therefore, to avoid this type misunderstanding, I propose to add this clarification. Paul Siebert (talk) 05:48, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Paul Siebert Shoot I just noticed your last line after I made a bold edit. I agree that "the published, reliable sources" is a bit redundant—though I think that's the case because the sentence previously says "published by reliable sources" (and the use of the definite article "the" makes me think that it's a specific callback). I think a relative pronoun is especially appropriate there. As such, I changed the sentence to: Neutrality requires that mainspace articles and pages fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint in those sources. diff.--Jerome Frank Disciple 18:21, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
IMO, "on each topic", or "on a topic", is more important, because some users interpret WP:DUE as WP:NOTABILITY (a threshold for inclusion). We must clearly explain that WP:DUE is not about a coverage per se, but about a relative weight of at least two conflicting points of view. Paul Siebert (talk) 18:39, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
...and "on a topic" applies to both the "significant viewpoint" and the "reliable source"? or is that beyond the intent? If the article topic is the chemical composition of fruits then it shouldn't be using a source which might as an aside say something about vitamin C, but the source topic and where the author is qualified is economics of orchard agriculture. fiveby(zero) 20:20, 24 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Of course, to viewpoints. The core idea of NPOV is: if more than one points of view on some topic exist in reliable sources, each of them (except fringe ones) should be presented in a balanced way. Therefore, when WP:DUE says about " all significant viewpoints", it is implied that these are the viewpoints of the same topic. These words are currently absent, which creates a false impression that WP:DUE discusses a threshold for inclusion (in terms of prominence of some viewpoint taken separately from others). Going back to my example,
  • If some sources say oranges are a good source of vitamins, but other sources say otherwise, WP:DUE is applicable, and we should define which view is a majority view.
  • If some sources discuss oranges (and not apples), whereas other sources discuss apples, these sources are not in a conflict with each other, but complement each other, so WP:DUE is not applicable. In that case, each source about apples and each source about oranges is evaluated on its own merit, not in each other's context. We cannot say "50 sources say about oranges, and only 2 sources say about apples, so we exclude apples per WP:DUE".
And the words "on a topic" make that clear. Paul Siebert (talk) 02:42, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm trying to think of ways your argument can be turned around and used to wiki-lawyer in inappropriate content. Recalling a certain disturbing detail on the famine article concerning Harry Lang and a "reliable source", Tapay. We have some very qualified sources (oranges) telling use what is appropriate to relay to the reader concerning the famine and the regime's responsibility. There is one source, Tapay (apples) discussing a poster. The argument for inclusion was that since no one disputes the poster's existence and it's in a "reliable source" it can't be excluded. My argument is that we shouldn't have enough confidence in the sources to say anything at all about apples. Also of the big names, those well-qualified to tell us what's important for the reader, none have included it in their works. Maybe i am reading too much into your proposal and "on topic"? Not that don't agree in general, if you were to include some apple content in and article there's probably a good reason behind it. But more often the problem seems to be editors trying to sneak in apples content in order to imply something about oranges. fiveby(zero) 16:20, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, what you say is correct. With one reservation. WP:DUE is not the only policy. Another relevant policy is WP:ONUS: if some statement or viewpoint is not in a conflict with other views, it still may be removed, for example, because its relevance to the article's subject is questionable, or because the users decided to replace it with some other piece of text. As you probably remember, the words about that posters were removed, but a description of cannibalism stayed: we just decided to add other facts, which were better documented.
Therefore, we removed Tapay per WP:ONUS, not per WP:DUE. Paul Siebert (talk) 17:03, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have some hesitation about this. I don't want to sidetrack this conversation by detailing too many specifics, but I'm going to borrow from one content dispute I've seen recently, though I'm going to alter the facts to make it a more apt illustration of my concerns. My point isn't so much that one answer is clearly right or wrong, but that the ambiguity in the policy is good.
By your argument, DUE only applies to sources in direct conflict with eachother. But, sometimes, a fringe viewpoint isn't in conflict with any established viewpoint. For example, there's recently been some dispute over whether the Columbine massacre was a terrorist attack. Now, without debating whether it was or wasn't, let's imagine/pretend that only one single source exists describing the massacre as a terrorist attack. (Don't fact check that—just go with the hypo.) On the basis of that source, an editor adds a terrorist-attack category to the article and adds the phrase terrorist attack to the body—"The terrorist attack began at ...."
By your argument, WP:DUE wouldn't be a concern unless other sources directly contradict a source. So, in this scenario, you'd essentially have to have sources explicitly taking the negative position—that Columbine was not a terrorist attack. But I think that has to be wrong ... if, of all the articles and sources discussing Columbine, only one article used the phrase terrorist attack, then I think calling the massacre a terrorist attack would present a DUE concern. And why would any sources go out of their way to dispute a descriptor used in only one source? (You might say that it's a WP:FRINGE concern and not a WP:DUE concern, but bear in mind that FRINGE is, by its own text, clearly related to WP:DUE ("Because Wikipedia aims to summarize significant opinions with representation in proportion to their prominence, a Wikipedia article should not make a fringe theory appear more notable or more widely accepted than it is.")--Jerome Frank Disciple 16:33, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
^ I tried to craft that hypo to specifically illustrate the type of issue I'm concerned about. Yes, sometimes sources contradict eachother without directly addressing eachother—for example, a source that calls oranges a fruit directly contradicts a source that calls oranges a vegetable. But sometimes that's not the case—there's no "not terrorist attack" descriptor that a source would naturally use.--Jerome Frank Disciple 16:43, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, that situation is quite common. However, in your example, these two sources discuss oranges, i.e. the topic is the same. We cannot refer to WP:DUE to reject the view that apples are a vegetable because a majority sources say oranges are a fruit. Paul Siebert (talk) 17:24, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think I have some confusion about what "on a topic" is supposed to mean here. Can you refer to specific content disputes to show where you think the additional language would be appropriate?--Jerome Frank Disciple 17:27, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would prefer to avoid bringing that dispute to another forum. I hope my post below explains my point. Paul Siebert (talk) 17:34, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
WRT "By your argument, DUE only applies to sources in direct conflict with eachother." No, DUE applies to the viewpoints that are in a conflict with each other. Thus, if 50 sources say oranges are a fruit and 2 sources say oranges are a vegetable, there is a conflict between them even if they do not cite each other and do not mention each other. Therefore, DUE is applicable here.
However, if 50 sources say oranges are a fruit, and 2 sources say apples are a vegetable, there is no conflict, and we cannot claim the view that apples are a vegetable should be removed per WP:DUE. Actually, if NO sources claim apples are a a fruit, the view that apples are a vegetable is a majority view. Paul Siebert (talk) 17:32, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What about the example I used?--Jerome Frank Disciple 17:35, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Do you mean Columbine?
Speaking formally, I envision the following description of this event:
1. Columbine was a terrorist attack;
2. Columbine was not a terrorist attack;
3. The perpetrator's motives were not clear.
4. something else
No matter if the sources from groups ##1-4 mention or cite each other, the views ##1-4 are, to some degree, in a conflict with each other, AND they relates to the same topic (Columbine). Therefore, DUE is totally applicable. Paul Siebert (talk) 17:46, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think that's fighting the hypo a bit, no? As I said, "2" is unlikely, because it's a negative that would almost certainly only be brought up in response to the positive claim, but, as I stipulated, the positive claim is only in one source. "3", as I see it, is only, at best, loosely related to the question—the motivations behind a terrorist attack can be unclear. And "4" is just a catchall? I'm not sure what "something else" is supposed to indicate.
Again, as I said, the central problem is that there isn't likely to be a "and it WASN'T a terrorist attack" viewpoint that gets published, even though, as I stipulated, the terrorist-attack descriptor is only embraced by one source. This was just one example, but I'm sure we can brainstorm many—if a single source characterizes an event in an unusual way, it's not always true that other sources (or the viewpoints expressed therein) will directly contradict that characterization.--Jerome Frank Disciple 17:51, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
When a single source characterizes the event in an unusual way, and there is a conflict with other sources, then DUE applies. It doesn't matter if this conflict is acknowledged in any of those sources.
When there is no conflicting views, or when there is just one view, WP:DUE is not applicable. We cannot say "this information should not be included per WP:DUE because only two sources say about that." Paul Siebert (talk) 18:10, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ah, I appreciate the clarification. Given that I think that such a policy opens a fairly large hole, as per above, I have to oppose this proposed change.--Jerome Frank Disciple 18:12, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Which hole? Paul Siebert (talk) 18:13, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It seems that hole is covered by WP:ONUS. Paul Siebert (talk) 18:15, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You might be conflating the requirement to "fairly represent" viewpoints with how to go about doing that. "EMDR is an empirically supported treatment" and "EMDR is pseudoscience" are both well-supported valid views. You might see those viewpoints as conflicting or not and this might seem an intractable problem. But really isn't within the body of the article, and "on a topic" helps to do that and organize the content. If you focus on how to "fairly represent" those viewpoints with an MOS:LABEL, category, or entry in an infobox, etc. it's a harder problem and one i don't think the proposal is addressing? fiveby(zero) 18:28, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
WRT "You might see those viewpoints as conflicting or not and this might seem an intractable problem." I see no problem at all. From a point of view of a formal logic, two viewpoints may either contradict to each other or complement each other. Tertium non datur.
In the former case, WP:DUE is applicable, in the latter case it is not. Paul Siebert (talk) 19:10, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think that "on a topic" is a good thing. Much POV happens by inclusions of things that are more removed in WP:Relevance just for effect, and more emphasis that it is sort of a balancing provision on a articular topic/question would be a good thing. For example, if I'm, an orange hater, I can't use the previous wording of that provision to muscle into the above "Oranges were Adolf Hitler's favorite fruit". North8000 (talk) 12:22, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Not sure that “topic” is the right word. This could cause confusion with “article topic”. Sometimes the disputed viewpoints concern relatively minor details that don’t necessarily directly relate to the article topic, ie details that flesh out the article. For example: say we are writing an article about a politician, and we wanted to cover that politician’s stance on something controversial… say gun control. Within this article, we still need to be neutral in how we present any coverage of gun control, even though the “topic” is the politician and the sub-topic is his/her stance. Blueboar (talk) 18:19, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Understood. Maybe, "each subtopic"? Paul Siebert (talk) 18:27, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Well, one of the reasons for this discussion is to make it consistent with the lead, and the lead says "topic". Also, this whole section is not that explicit and so we probably needn't struggle for unrealistic precision on "topic". North8000 (talk) 19:06, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The words "on a topic" were added to the preamble on 15 June 2013 by Nikkimaria with edit summary = "ce". I believe a better way to get consistency is not to repeat them elsewhere but to revert that bold change. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 14:23, 26 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Support revert. The "on a topic" for the scope of the article is redundant and reiterates published sources that are directly related to the topic of the article in WP:OR.
I share Paul's and Blueboar's concern about use of UNDUE in disputes about subtopics, but my reservations with the original proposal would be:
1. To what extent is it "abuse" of WP:UNDUE as opposed to editors mistakenly referring to WP:UNDUE where they mean WP:MINORASPECT. Changing the wording of WP:DUE as originally proposed would have no bearing on it.
2. Is the proposed change an attempt to solve a conduct issue (editors wikilawyering to exclude content to shift balance in articles) with a content policy change.
3. Can specific issues in specific articles be solved by applying other policies? Anecdotally, when I encountered controversial 50 vs 2 sources oranges/apples examples, it'd often be an editor using 50 WP:PRIMARY sources to argue that 2 WP:SECONDARY sources should be excluded. This is already covered in WP:BALANCE and WP:PST. PaulT2022 (talk) 16:16, 26 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Actually you are right about MIONORASPESTS. However, I am not sure the reference to "published sources that are directly related to the topic of the article" resolves the issue. The question remains if NPOV is applied to the article's topic as whole, or to each aspect taken separately. In my opinion, DUE is dealing with the situations when different viewpoints exist on the same subtopic/aspect (and these viewpoints contradict to each other), whereas MINORASPESTS explains what we should do when the sources complement each other, although one of the aspects may be minor.
In other words, the situation when 50 sources say oranges are rich in vitamin C, and 2 sources say they are not may fall under DUE; the situation when 50 sources say oranges are rich in vitamin C, and 2 sources say apples are rich in vitamin C may fall under MINORASPECTS.
Therefore, "on a topic" (or its equivalent) may be useful in DUE. Paul Siebert (talk) 17:25, 26 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That whole section is only usable as vague general guidance. It's not operatively usable (except in infinite ways by wikilawyers.) E.G., using the example, it's practically undo-able to set the criteria for inclusion of a source with the opinion on oranges, search the world, and find that there are exactly 52 of them, then interpret their responses in the context of the wiki-question and then tally them up. IMO someday that section will need to get replaced with something better. So I don't think that the discussed word change will have much impact either way. The reason I lean a bit towards including "on a topic" is that this section is more usable (and probably originally intended)) only as a "balancing" measure (= on a specific topic or question) rather that as an inclusion mandate along the lines of the point/concern introduced and explained by Jerome Frank Disciple. North8000 (talk) 18:02, 26 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Agree with this and describing that DUE is dealing with the situations when different viewpoints exist on the same subtopic/aspect (and these viewpoints contradict to each other), whereas MINORASPESTS explains what we should do when the sources complement each other, although one of the aspects may be minor., but I wish it'd be communicated with a different wording than the proposed. "on a topic" is way too vague and I think it conflicts with use of "a topic" in other parts of the policy. For example, "a topic" refers to the topic of an article in WP:POVNAMING. Subtopic is better; WP:NPOVVIEW refers to is as a "facet", WP:YESPOV calls it a "matter". A footnote might be a solution as well. Otherwise, the change won't solve what it intends to solve, with editors still being confused about what "a topic" means in the context of DUE. PaulT2022 (talk) 19:11, 26 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Maybe, another solution could be to add the footnotes to DUE and MINORASPECTS that explain it? A tentative wording may be the sentence quoted by PaulT2022. Paul Siebert (talk) 19:52, 26 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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