User:RoyGoldsmith/Synthesis and Citations
Original synthesis and the lack of citationsEdit
Most sentences in most articles do not have inline citations. If you retreive 20 random articles, at least half of them will contain no references at all. Even if you ignore the stub- and start-like articles, the majority of significant sentences outside the lead still won't have citations. I would think that a significant sentence without a citation would have to be presumed to be the product of original synthesis, unless it's proved otherwise.
Now, our policy of verifiability says: This policy requires that a reliable source in the form of an inline citation be supplied for any material that is challenged or likely to be challenged, and for all quotations, or the material may be removed. Doesn't this mean that all of the uncited sentences (or significant phrases) could have a citation-needed tag applied to them and, after some reasonable period (say, a month), those sentences could be removed?
Shouldn't that be done for most articles (or all articles), effectively raising the level of verifiability up to and beyond that of BLP's (but without the "immediate removal" procedure)? Or at least for certain classes of articles, like those that are deemed controversial or contentious, including all current events or political articles? Every sentence or significant cause must have a valid inline citation or it's gone. Or admit to ourselves that Wikipedia is mostly a digest of the original thoughts of our editors, who do try (in general and, if necessary, by consensus) to achieve truth but not verifiability.
Counter-argument: Most material in Wikipedia articles is contributed by relatively-expert editors who derive most of their infomation from a lifetime of experience based on many years of study, especially in their work or in a long-held hobby or avocation. If we insist that these experts have to cite sources for anything they enter then we'll loose many (most?) of them and Wikipedia will be the worst for it. Beside, if we removed all uncited material, we would gut Wikipedia by 90%.
Counter-counter-argument: Unless we enforce something like this, Wikipedia will always be viewed simply as a compendium of random peoples' opinions, rather than a true enclyclopedia.
Counter-counter-counter-argument: So what?
Your criticism is welcomed on the talk page.