Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)

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The policy section of the village pump is used to discuss proposed policies and guidelines and changes to existing policies and guidelines.

Please see this FAQ page for a list of frequently rejected or ignored proposals. Discussions are automatically archived after remaining inactive for two weeks.

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Deletion of TimedText PagesEdit

Why are requests to delete TimedText pages, which are audio, considered at MFD rather than at FFD? I think I know the answer, which is because that is what the rules say. Why do the rules send deletion requests for TimedText to MFD, which is not otherwise a forum that concerns itself with files containing analog, audio, video, image, or other such information? Why not direct those requests to FFD? That isn't really a "good fit", but it is sort of "less bad fit" than MFD. Robert McClenon (talk) 04:49, 30 September 2021 (UTC)

@Robert McClenon: probably because they are relatively rare, I expect most TT deletions are speedy (G8 when the file is deleted), and the others are rather uncontested so they just lumped in to the "everything else" that went to MfD. Venue-wise, most FFD's are about copyright issues, which could pertain to TT's - but again it is rarely a concern. Aside, if we really wanted to move something out of MfD - I've always argued that Draft's would be the best (as their deletion arguments are almost always about content or content inclusion criteria - not about miscellaneous things). — xaosflux Talk 10:59, 30 September 2021 (UTC)
For reference, I looked over the last 20000 page deletions. Of those, 27 were TimedText - all of which were G8. Additionally, Special:PrefixIndex/Wikipedia:Miscellany_for_deletion/TimedText shows that there have only ever been 32 TT MFD's. — xaosflux Talk 11:07, 30 September 2021 (UTC)
Also, TT is not audio - it is plain wikitext. — xaosflux Talk 11:08, 30 September 2021 (UTC)
I don't think that either of these locations are completely bad, but I agree with Robert that these requests would ideally be handled at FFD, even though that means taking a little effort to update the rules (and probably Twinkle, too). WhatamIdoing (talk) 14:56, 30 September 2021 (UTC)
I don't object to moving these from MFD to FFD, but think that the overhead of even worrying about any of the mechanics is time best spent elsewhere. — xaosflux Talk 15:00, 30 September 2021 (UTC)
I agree with xasoflux; it's just not worth worrying about. -- RoySmith (talk) 15:11, 30 September 2021 (UTC)
I agree that, if there have been only 32 deletion nominations for TimedText files since Day One, then it makes very very little difference where we delete them. Perhaps this is because everything having to do with TimedText files makes very little difference. Robert McClenon (talk) 17:50, 30 September 2021 (UTC)
I agree it's not worth spending much time on. I can only think of three reasons for deletion: there is no associated media file, the associated media file is being deleted, or the transcription is significantly wrong and no one is volunteering to fix it, which for most cases doesn't require much discussion: an admin can watch the media file with the timed text and decide if it should be deleted. isaacl (talk) 19:52, 30 September 2021 (UTC)
Agree, deletion of media files, sound like images, belongs at FfD, primarily because complex copyright concerns are interwoven, like with image files. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:40, 5 October 2021 (UTC)
It not being a big frequent issue is not a reason to not improve something. SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:17, 5 October 2021 (UTC)

Deletion of DraftsEdit

On the other hand, the deletion of drafts is a substantive matter. User:Xaosflux writes:

Aside, if we really wanted to move something out of MfD - I've always argued that Draft's would be the best (as their deletion arguments are almost always about content or content inclusion criteria - not about miscellaneous things).

Where would we move deletion of drafts to? They should not be moved to AFD, because, although drafts are proposed articles, notability is the most common reason for deletion of articles, and notability is not a reason for the deletion of drafts. What forum is there to move deletion of drafts to? Should there be a WP:Drafts for Discussion forum to discuss deletion of drafts, that could also handle appeals of rejected drafts, or complicated issues about whether to accept drafts? If drafts are not miscellaneous, what are they? Robert McClenon (talk) 17:50, 30 September 2021 (UTC)

@Robert McClenon: in my general opinion, miscellany is more about things that are ancillary to the project (mechanics, presentations, and niche things that never got their own home from VFD such as TimedText above) - while drafts are more aligned with the core mission of gathering/curating of knowledge. DfD could be the answer - there hasn't been enough push to bother before - but they are certainly a larger category than TT if we are looking at splitting something out of MfD. — xaosflux Talk 18:08, 30 September 2021 (UTC)
I've been one of the regular participants at MFD for several years, and my unscientific estimate would be that most of the time it has slightly more "draft-like" stuff than anything else, and next to that is WikiProject-related stuff. An exception was that in 2019, it was mostly portals, until the portal deletions resulted in an ArbCom case that didn't settle anything. (ArbCom, reasonably, said that there should be a community discussion. Community discussion fizzled out because the community was too scattered even to have a focused discussion.) However, much of what goes to MFD is either drafts or draft-like stuff, such as draft articles in user space. So a lot of what gets discussed at MFD is proposed content. (And portals are also a device for presenting content.) Robert McClenon (talk) 19:33, 30 September 2021 (UTC)
Perhaps we can move it out, by getting rid of that process to delete drafts. After all, we already have broad allowance for what drafts are allowed to exist, even if they wouldn't have a hope of surviving an AfD (we just delete them after they've been inactive for six months), and we already handle the things that need to be deleted (copyright, BLP, illegal) through speedy deletion.
With that said, this is just brainstorming; I have minimal experience with MfD. BilledMammal (talk) 21:22, 4 October 2021 (UTC)
Drafts are frequently left to languish, which might be unfortunate but which is a fact of life, but when deletion is being discussed, I would prefer to see those discussions happen at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion. They should be deleted (or not, as the case might be) on the same grounds as any page that is already in the mainspace, and the most straightforward way to make sure that the same standards are being applied is to have the same process handling it. There has been a tendency among AFD and NPP regulars to sometimes reject drafts and new pages on notable subjects on grounds that Wikipedia:Arguments to avoid in deletion discussions rejects. I also wouldn't object if the preferred process looked like first moving the page to the mainspace and then immediately nominating it for deletion. Leaving that log entry in the mainspace might make it easier to trace histories later.
Also, once a page has survived AFD, it should not be in draftspace. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:51, 5 October 2021 (UTC)
Also, once a page has survived AFD, it should not be in draftspace. Yes. This is something I strongly support making policy. Thryduulf (talk) 10:11, 5 October 2021 (UTC)
There are really only 3 reasons why a draft should ever be deleted:
  1. The sole author requests it (G7)
  2. It is actively harmful to the project (e.g. attack pages (G10), copyright violations (G12), and similar)
  3. No human has touched them for 6 months (G13) - and I'm not fully convinced this isn't causing more harm than good in its present form.
For everything else, there needs to be a very good reason why it needs to be deleted before it is eligible for G13. Lack of notability and other reasons articles are commonly deleted at AfD are not examples of such reasons. Thryduulf (talk) 10:11, 5 October 2021 (UTC)
The question is whether a page in the draft namespace is indeed a draft that could ever become an article. We do want to delete WP:NOTWEBHOST violations in any namespace, and draft namespace shouldn't be protected from that. (Howtos, manuals, gaming, various data dumps etc. should not be kept around based on what namespace they are in, but based on whether they have any conceivable use for the project). —Kusma (talk) 12:30, 5 October 2021 (UTC)
True. Any draft that violates any line at WP:NOT is welcome at MfD and is usually deleted there. The problem with most DraftSpace MfD nominations is that the nominator cites no WP:NOT violation. SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:23, 5 October 2021 (UTC)
Agree with User:Thryduulf. Very few good draftspace nominations are made at MfD. Mostly, I think it is due to enthusiastic Wikipedians trying to contribute, who don’t consider that raising unimportant issues on a formal deletion page creates more work than the original problem was worth. I.e busywork. SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:21, 5 October 2021 (UTC)
I disagree with User:SmokeyJoe's statement that "Very few good draftspace nominations are made at MfD." It is true that many of the draft nominations at MFD are mistaken, but proper nominations at MFD of drafts that were being tendentiously resubmitted are not uncommon. User:Thryduulf, above, says that drafts should only be deleted for three reasons, one of which is things that are actively harmful. I will agree with those categories IF it is recognized that tendentious resubmission is harmful to the project because it is a burden to the volunteer reviewers, and is often self-serving. Robert McClenon (talk) 15:51, 14 October 2021 (UTC)
Very few good draftspace nominations are made at MfD.
Maybe on average one per week. That is very small for arguing for a new XforDeletion. SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:10, 14 October 2021 (UTC)
Sending all draftspace deletion to another forum would be good for mfd in removing much busywork from mfd. However, I predict that the new forum will be unattended. Most draftspace mfd nominations would have been appropriate for WP:N/N. Consider reviving that page. SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:25, 5 October 2021 (UTC)
  • For reference, there have been 71 AfDs for pages in the Draft namespace since its introduction in December 2013, out of about 175,000 AfDs total during that time (i.e. about 0.03%). Meanwhile, out of the 32,229 MfDs in history, there exist 5,656 for drafts. This works out to about sixty per month, or two per day. jp×g 04:51, 6 November 2021 (UTC)
There are about 5 or so Drafts a day that amount to "INTRODUCTION OF MY PAGE' My name is famguy ,i write quotes, love stories, health and scientific THANKS" What do you propose should be done with them--leave them around for 6 months? Some , like this, may be an attempt at a user page, and we could establish a practice of moving them there. There are 2 or 3 a day, "I am szyr, master of the universe" Currently I nominate them as nonsense and they are almost always deleted as such. There are also 2 or 3 a day that amount to ""see, i can write on wikipedia" -- Currently I nominate them for test pages and they are almost always deleted as such. (We have a rule against deleting empty drafts, because the person might be in the process of writing content). Every draft that stays in 6 months has to be looked at by 2 or 3 perople at least before it gets deleted. Wouldn't it be better to remove things like this immediately?
The other reason for speedy on Drafts is G11. We tend of course to be very tolerant here as compared to mainspace, because they might be getting fixed. But how about. "We are an importer and distributor of rare seeds &. Please see our catalog on the web . We are the best company for this in the country. Or phone ...... " I have never seen a draft like that actually turn into an article. It usually doesn't even get submitted. DGG ( talk ) 20:34, 16 November 2021 (UTC)

Drafts and NotabilityEdit

User:WhatamIdoing says that drafts should be discussed for deletion on the same basis as articles. At least, that is what I understand they are saying. The most common reason for deletion of articles is lack of notability (where lack of reliable sources is a failure to establish notability verifiably). Does User:WhatamIdoing really mean that drafts should be deleted if they fail to establish notability? If not, what do they mean? Please explain. I think that I disagree. Robert McClenon (talk) 15:58, 14 October 2021 (UTC)

I think that drafts should be deleted (or merged) if the subject is not notable. Mind the gap between "the draft fails to establish the notability of the subject by citing a sufficient number of reliable sources" and "the subject is not notable". "Establishing" notability requires editors to invest a certain amount of time and effort in locating and citing reliable sources. Not being a notable subject is a problem that cannot be solved by any amount of effort expended by Wikipedia editors. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:27, 15 October 2021 (UTC)
How much editor effort should go into deleting worthless hopeless drafts? SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:21, 16 October 2021 (UTC)
If you want the least-effort deletion, then letting it rot in the draftspace until it is automatically deleted for inactivity is probably the right choice. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:23, 20 October 2021 (UTC)
This seems kind of backwards to me. Usually, we determine "notability" by the presence of reliable sources; the point of a draft is that you haven't gone through the whole ordeal of writing a full article (e.g. finding sources). Say, for example, I write this big block of unformatted text, with no references, about some monk from the 1400s nobody's heard of (who has zero Google results). This would certainly be deleted as an article. But this is the point of having a draft: maybe I am waiting to get my hands on some obscure, out-of-print books (which far and away provide SIGCOV) to source it. If we're not going to allow for stuff like that, why have drafts at all? jp×g 21:50, 2 November 2021 (UTC)
Notability doesn't depend on whether you've cited any sources. It depends on whether sources have been published in the real world. It's true that what you're talking about would probably get deleted, but this would constitute a mistake on our part. This is an expected mistake (because admins aren't omniscient), but it's still a mistake.
The Draft: namespace was started because people (WMF staff, not volunteers) thought it would make article creation better for newcomers. It didn't work (according to the same WMF staff members that proposed it). WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:22, 5 November 2021 (UTC)
Although I don't think it affects any of your main points, the RFC for the creation of the Draft namespace was started by an editor who was not a WMF staff member and supported by various other regular editors. (As described in the RfC discussion, the concept had been discussed by WMF staff previously.) isaacl (talk) 21:30, 5 November 2021 (UTC)
How can we know that the subject is non-notable if nobody looks for references? We could' look ourselves, and that would amount to asking the reviewers at AfC to write articles for everybody who doesn't know how to do so. I will do this once or twice a week, but who would stay an AfC reviewer if they had to do this for every such draft? Better that we send it back, and tell the user to find some. Sometimes they do. Further, even in mainspace, we have a rule that no one or even two people may delete for lack of notability. One can Prod on that basis, but then the entire community has a chance to look at it. ata prominent place (at least in theory). We can speedy some types of articles for lack of significance, but that's a very low bar as we interpret it.--see the examples at WP:CSD. I suppose we could use that at Draft also, but the equivalent there is to reject, not decline an article. DGG ( talk ) 20:34, 16 November 2021 (UTC)


Fringe, Anti-fringe, and Turning Wikipedia's Values Upside-downEdit

I have noticed a pattern, mostly among certain editors who have a great interest in working to keep WP:FRINGE viewpoints out of Wikipedia. This activity is supported by WP:V, WP:NPOV, WP:FRINGE, and in the case of medical viewpoints, WP:MEDRS. I commend those who work to uphold these guidelines against those who would push fringe points of view.

Wikipedia determines what fringe views are by identifying ideas that depart significantly from the prevailing, mainstream views in a given field. Consensus among scholarly experts is generally the most authoritative source to identify the mainstream view. For example, if an herbalist says that dandelions cure cancer, and cancer researchers and government health agencies determine that to be false, we go with what the researchers and agencies say, and the dandelion cure is determined to be fringe. This is all right and good.

A provocative and mostly appropriate, good, and correct essay listing what we have determined to be mainstream and fringe is User:Guy Macon/Yes. We are biased. The essay has a great start:

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, once wrote:

"Wikipedia’s policies ... are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals – that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately.
What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of 'true scientific discourse'. It isn’t.

This Jimbo quote is a great summary of WP:V, WP:RS, WP:NPOV, and WP:FRINGE. Unfortunately this essay has been abused tremendously by editors trying to turn WP:FRINGE on its head.

The problem that I have observed is that, using the dandelion example again, after we have determined that the dandelion cancer cure is a disproven fringe viewpoint, some editors begin to make edits in disregard to WP:V, WP:RS, and WP:NPOV in order to make absolutely sure the article says dandelions are bad and you should never use them for anything, ever. For example, if a reliable mainstream source comes along that says dandelions are edible and contain Vitamin A and potassium, an editor may decide to delete those claims from the article to make absolutely sure that Wikipedia isn't one of those dirty fringe believers in the dandelion cancer cure. Editors begin to use the status of a viewpoint as mainstream or fringe as the basis for picking sources and facts to include in the article, rather than using mainstream sources and facts to determine what views are fringe. Standards are lowered for sources that say the subject is "bad", and sources that might even hint that there might be something good about the subject are held to the highest standards possible, or sometimes, simply removed because the article was "better before", with no intent to discuss. No doubt these editors have become weary from actual fringe editors out to push their crap. But weary doesn't justify this.

This kind of editing has been going on for some years. I have heard some say this attitude began en masse around 2012. Desire to eliminate fringe views has become the sole value of these editors. Articles that have fallen under their purview have lost information about history, culture, tradition, belief, preliminary research, and well-established scientific fact because of the single-minded focus on what they want readers to believe rather than what is verifiable, well-sourced, and encyclopedic. These editors are the quintissential example of Wikipedia:Civil POV pushing, except that the point-of-view they are pushing is the opposite point of view of the WP:FRINGE. They edit on an ideological basis that is incompatible with WP:V, WP:RS, WP:NPOV, and even WP:FRINGE. They are here to WP:Right great wrongs.

I suspect WP:DUE can be clarified. I'm not certain exactly how it could be done, but one idea is a statement that our articles are based on what the mainstream, academic sources say, and not based on what we want our readers to leave the article believing, and certainly not based on some solidified concept of what things are true and what things are false. We are not the gatekeepers of information. We are not here to tell people what they should believe. We are here to select reliable mainstream sources, and describe what those sources say.

I am sorry if I have written in a repetitious or pedantic way, but because I am used to being misunderstood here, I'm trying to really make it clear where I stand when it comes to upholding Wikipedia policy. I, of course, have my own personal beliefs but when I edit Wikipedia, the only belief system I am here to uphold is WP:V, WP:RS, and WP:NPOV. MarshallKe (talk) 20:39, 27 October 2021 (UTC)

There is definitely a nugget of truth to this. Stepping away from the medical example and considering the political area, I have seen editors focused on making sure a certain point-of-view is maintained in article (particularly those areas that in the extreme political views, with the POV being maintained that is critical of these extreme positions. While this may be a valid position for some cases, the majority that I've seen end up with a situation described above, where the editors that are doing most of the editing want to maintain a specific POV, ignore potentially valid minority views, and often end up with editors cherry picking sources to support what they want to say but not the bulk of all sources that are indepth about the topic. I've spoken at depth about NOTNEWS and RECENTISM in this area, and a remedy I've talked about in alignment to the above is that UNDUE should also considered with a 10-year-view factor involved ; that is, when considering what material is to be included/exclude within UNDUE, we should discount recent sources and look to what long-term sources say as guidance, even if this means we then are omitting short term analysis of a topic and stick to objective facts only. --Masem (t) 20:56, 27 October 2021 (UTC)
Yeah, I definitely buy the idea that there are too-old sources and too-new sources. I have seen anti-fringe editors abuse this to an extreme, to the point where a two-year-old source is too new and a three-year-old source is too old. Fringe editors, on the other hand, are usually not that clever. MarshallKe (talk) 21:01, 27 October 2021 (UTC)
A couple of observations. Firstly, Wikipedia has nearly always developed better when considering concrete cases, rather than abstract principles, so which concrete case(s) are you talking about? And secondly, quoting Jimmy Wales usually detracts from the point being made, rather than supporting it. Jimmy may have (co-?)founded Wikipedia, but he has no greater knowledge of individual topics than anyone else. Phil Bridger (talk) 21:13, 27 October 2021 (UTC)
Sometimes getting too specific and focusing on the individual trees distracts from the forest. Usually those who demand a list of specific examples are those who are poor at thinking in the abstract and are looking to nitpick the discussion to death. For this reason, I'm not going to compile a list. MarshallKe (talk) 21:19, 27 October 2021 (UTC)
Ok, if you don't want to provide evidence for what you say, and want to claim that people who ask for it are poor at thinking in the abstract, then don't and do. But don't be surprised if no action comes of this. Phil Bridger (talk) 21:41, 27 October 2021 (UTC)
I've only watched the mess from the sidelines and would need to spend time to find out where problems existed, but my read of the situation of covering the COVID-19 lab leak theory is such an area where there's a group of editors activity trying to press away fringe. Granted, that's made more difficult due to the MEDRS factor and our duty to make sure that (as current) the lab leak theory is correctly identified as not having credence by leading experts (WHO in this case), but there's factors around the history of the theory unrelated to the medical accuracy/correctness that are appropriate for an encyclopedia that have been pushed away due to the fact that included these points would appear to give weight to the theory (but again, that's my last read of the situation from the sidelines on boards like RS/N and BLP/N). I wouldn't use that as the case to discuss and figure out solutions due to how complicated it is, but it is an area that I think falls into what MarshallKe has identified where editors take a specific POV that seems to align with mainstream reliable sources and write exclusively towards that, anything else be damned. --Masem (t) 21:48, 27 October 2021 (UTC)
Granted, that's made more difficult due to the MEDRS factor... It's worth pointing out, the consensus decision was that disease/outbreak origins were not WP:BMI to which the stricter WP:MEDRS applied. However, sourcing has mostly been preferring (though not necessarily requiring) strong secondary academic sources to determine the mainstream view, the difference is the requirement to base info on these sources. As someone who has participated in these discussions and tried to help moderate and move past these disputes, I've seen two major (but related) contributing factors. One is WP:BATTLEGROUND behavior, and the preemptive defensiveness of longer term editors who either got burned out by or are now expecting to see persistent fringe POV-pushing. Page protection and sanctions have helped, but it was bit too late to avoid reinforcing the defensive habits. The other I've recognized is how a discussion can be difficult to get back on track once there's concern about POV-pushing. An article edit with POV language (or Talk page source suggestion accusing WP:CABAL) can spiral a discussion and delay consensus, as the discussion focuses on the original proposal's POV instead of whatever WP:NPOV info might have been present. And that definitely fits the description above. It's definitely hard work to try and avoid that, and the contentiousness and burnout make it even harder. Not a very easy fix, that I can think of unfortunately. Bakkster Man (talk) 15:16, 28 October 2021 (UTC)
The problem with youir logic is that people say in Wikipedia's voice what's considered to be "mainstream" or acceptable. It's gotten to the point that COVID-19's over exaggerated death rate is a perfect exaple of fringe being pushed under the guise of mainstream. 2601:644:8D81:8690:38D0:D2FF:FE8F:91B1 (talk) 10:38, 21 November 2021 (UTC)
I agree that part of any of these issues (even looking below) is a battleground mentality that usually starts with newer editors or IPs that insist we must include the fringe view, which rubs experienced editors the wrong way and often leads to a "circling of the wagons" around the mainstream view or view set by reliable sources, which can then make it difficult to speak to intermediate points that are otherwise valid (in the case of the lab leak, how to discuss the nature of the lab leak theory and its impact on politics/etc. related to COVID). The resistance to discuss inclusion of fringe is a human nature thing in response to this type of push for inclusion, and while I fully agree we have to be wary when there is a push for inclusion of material, we can't let that get in the way of having good faith discussions from other editors looking for more moderate solutions. --Masem (t) 15:23, 28 October 2021 (UTC)
Definitely, and I suppose that puts the issue less as one of WP:FRINGE, and more as one of [[WP:BATTLEGROUND]. Personally, I think at least part of this is a result of even administration/arbitration being difficult, with admins and arbitrators not wanting to touch the topic with a 10-foot pole due to past socking, off-wiki canvassing, etc. Bakkster Man (talk) 17:43, 28 October 2021 (UTC)
That's some real nice victim blaming. there. 2601:644:8D81:8690:38D0:D2FF:FE8F:91B1 (talk) 10:28, 21 November 2021 (UTC)
The COVID-19 lab leak case came to mind as I was reading MarshallKe's writings. I think I largely agree with what you said, and the atmosphere MarshallKe describes. To be clear, I reported several editors for sanctions in that topic area for problematic (in a pro-fringe manner) editing, and I don't personally believe in the theory, but it almost goes without saying that there should be an article on the issue. It took us until July 2021 and this AfD to affirm just that, never mind the content of such an article. While there is a need to ensure fringe editing is kept under control, I do think there have been cases of editors starting with that noble goal, but then editing in a manner that is itself in violation of policy, while using the cover of keeping out pro-fringe content. In some cases, actual reliable sources have been condemned in this goal; it's closer to POV editing than it is 'defending the encyclopaedia'. I don't know if there is a policy issue here, or if it's just a case of needing to enforce this better at ANI. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 15:43, 28 October 2021 (UTC)
I've observed the atmosphere that MarshallKe is describing, casually in passing; enough so that I sympathize with the concern, but not recently enough or in articles I've engaged on that I could point to any specific example. And I agree with Phil Bridger that we would need specific examples to determine (a) that it is happening as described, (b) is an actual problem, (c) is affecting multiple articles/topic areas, and (d) can be addressed by changes in a particular policy or guideline. Schazjmd (talk) 21:58, 27 October 2021 (UTC)
Okay. I accept that more could be done if I provided examples, but if I did, it would affect the behavior of the specific editors involved and for now, I want to give them enough rope so that when the time comes to put them up for sanction enforcement, I have a strong, extensive case to make. MarshallKe (talk) 22:18, 27 October 2021 (UTC)
Huh...from your original post, I thought this was a well-intentioned attempt to clarify how the different policies and guidelines play together in the fringeish areas, and I thought the dandelion example was a good one. If this is about getting back at specific editors that you feel are Doing Wikipedia Wrong, I'm out. Schazjmd (talk) 22:28, 27 October 2021 (UTC)
Obviously I am one person any my thoughts about this community have been influenced by my specific experiences here. Of course specific editors do this more than others. It's not like, three, it's a bunch. And it's not everyone. If it was everyone it would be pointless to try to change anything. MarshallKe (talk) 22:36, 27 October 2021 (UTC)
There are minority views mentioned on Wikipedia that I believe are due, and it is frustrating to see other editors misuse policy to exclude their mention or diminish their importance. I perceive this to be a an important problem to fix. That said, there is a bigger problem: proponents of unambiguously fringe views are successfully promoting them all over the encyclopedia. I would strongly oppose any policy changes that help solve the first problem by weakening the tools needed to solve the second. Firefangledfeathers (talk) 15:35, 28 October 2021 (UTC)
That said, there is a bigger problem: proponents of unambiguously fringe views are successfully promoting them all over the encyclopedia. Is there really, Firefangledfeathers? I do humbly beg your pardon in pointing this out, but that sounds like a classic "bogeyman" type argument that has been used in the past over nonexistant/greatly exaggerated witches, communists, etc. I will grant you that that WAS once the case here, ~15 years ago; and there are still the junk/spam/promo articles that get published and not deleted, because nobody even sees them in the first place. But I wouldn't call that "successful" if no one even sees it. Nor would I call it a huge problem, just a very aggravating annoyance. But any mainstream, high traffic topic area nowadays, fringe material is just about never successfully added. 2600:1702:4960:1DE0:D54B:F70E:14CC:5F15 (talk) 02:06, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
I am both a greatly exaggerated witch and a greatly exaggerated communist, and if you persist in argument-by-comparison-to-historical-travesty I'll hex you and collectivize your capital. Firefangledfeathers (talk) 02:47, 31 October 2021 (UTC)

I am pleased to see that User:MarshallKe has brought up a matter that has been troubling me for some time. There is a group of anti-fringe zealots who act as a tag team to remove any reference to supernatural matters on Wikipedia on the grounds of their opinion that the supernatural does not exist. I expect they would like to delete all articles on religion but find that to be a step too far at present. The supernatural is of importance in many topics like folklore, sociology, psychology, religion. The study of the supernatural is particular importance in the current culture of the world where many irrational beliefs exist, even in developed countries (need I say more). One article where I encountered the zealots was in Moberly–Jourdain incident where I added the now accepted rational explanation, which provoked a flurry of quibbles that I could not be bothered to respond to. My position on fringe material is that it may be included in Wikipedia if (a) it is notable and (b) it is clearly marked as fringe. Xxanthippe (talk) 01:51, 28 October 2021 (UTC).

That one's a little tougher because there isn't exactly an authority like there is with scientific topics, because it's not something that can be studied by science. So, naturally, the ideologues turn to their ideology to determine what they think counts as a mainstream point of view and use bad sources like Skeptoid that are pure self-published speculation. Due weight does allow for "non-mainstream" points of view to be described in the article (ignoring that some of these topics have no mainstream points of view because reliable sources don't care about them and the average person isn't a devout adherent to pseudoskepticism), but these editors insist that they should not be described and use various forms of dishonest argumentation to argue for their disinclusion. MarshallKe (talk) 13:03, 28 October 2021 (UTC)
Per policy fringe views are to be excluded from Wikipedia unless they can be contextualized with a rational non-fringe source, and sometimes WP:PARITY means such sources are unusual. This is kind of basic NPOV. Alexbrn (talk) 13:57, 28 October 2021 (UTC)
The problem is that in many of these niche topics (and often in articles that are really obscure and don't get patrolled much) there are persistent editors who attempt to say in Wikipedia's voice that the fringe view is either the correct one, or even plausible - which we simply can't allow. I have had an article on one of UFOlogy's most notorious charlatans on my watchlist for probably ten years now, and there are regular efforts to suggest that his claims are true, despite there being physical evidence that they were fraudulent. Obviously there are going to be rare articles about incidents that are unexplained - but that is a long way from them being supernatural or the fringe explanations being the correct ones. This also applies to various pseudoscientific topics, for which we have the policy WP:PSCI, but many of the aforementioned artices don't really fit neatly into that drawer. Black Kite (talk) 14:08, 28 October 2021 (UTC)
That one's a little tougher because there isn't exactly an authority like there is with scientific topics, because it's not something that can be studied by science. I'd suggest these topics are in many cases tricky because the boundary around pseudo-science is fuzzy. Sometimes intentionally so, such as when adherents aim to give their view more credibility with the trappings of science (or suggest that their far-fringe views belong as part of a discussion of near-fringe). This breadth of fringe (from true pseudoscience and questionable science that WP shouldn't take seriously, through to alternate formulations that lack mainstream acceptance), and the difficulty of categorizing it correctly to discuss, is the issue I see more often. Bakkster Man (talk) 15:16, 28 October 2021 (UTC)

I don't think that there is a general solution in the big fuzzy Wikipedia system on this complex topic. A few of the concepts that are somewhat hidden in wp:finge might help. One is that it is more applicable in areas where there are known objective realities rather than areas of opinion. Second, it focuses on areas where fringe information could genuinely mislead or do harm. So it is less likely to focus on attributed coverage that describes belief that spirits dwell in that sacred mountain than lots of (even attributed) coverage of beliefs that the Covid vaccines contain tracking chips and reprogram people's DNA. There are so many variables that I think that you really do need specific examples to discuss this. Maybe you can find some where there was a friendly debate where the key parties might welcom that discussion being used as an example. North8000 (talk) 16:07, 28 October 2021 (UTC)

A big part of my argument is that Wikipedia generally shouldn't be dealing in what we think is "objective reality" or with what things we judge might be misleading, because when we do that, we've already presumed to know better than our sources. We have to minimize the circularity of "X claim is good because it comes from good source A, and source A is good because it claims X". It's the circular reasoning of a Biblical dogmatist who says God exists because God said so in the Bible. Our beliefs about what is true should never factor into it. Wikipedia:Verifiability, not truth. We exclude the vaccine microchip theory because the sources we've accepted as reliable say it's discredited, not because of our beliefs on the matter. We don't say the Earth is round because that's what we believe to be objective reality, we say the Earth is round because the sources we've accepted as reliable say it is. MarshallKe (talk) 16:22, 28 October 2021 (UTC)
But WP:TRUTHMATTERS, and reference to objective reality to determine whether claims are important, surprising or exceptional is a key part of evaluating reliability. Alexbrn (talk) 16:35, 28 October 2021 (UTC)
Without a concrete example, it's hard to tell if you have a disagreement with the application of WP:PARITY, or if there's an actual circular WP:V issue. Bakkster Man (talk) 17:39, 28 October 2021 (UTC)

I think @MarshallKe: is right about this behavior, unfortunately. One recent example of this was a dispute I initiated. Here is the discussion. This statement was in Alternative Medicine:

This fact is often overlooked by media or intentionally kept hidden, with alternative practice being portrayed positively when compared to "big pharma".

So I started that discussion on the Talk Page which then led to an unofficial RfC right below it. You can see that what in the first discussion looked like a clear consensus that that statement was fine, by certain editors, once other, independent editors became involved in the RfC, it shifted the opposite way. But you can see in the first discussion the odd ways that editors (who should know better) were trying to justify this obviously problematic statement in Wikipedia's voice that the media is “intentionally hiding” something because one guy said that in the source. Pyrrho the Skeptic (talk) 17:04, 28 October 2021 (UTC)

That is not a reasonable summary of the situation. The first discussion, that allegedly looked like a clear consensus that that statement was fine, by certain editors, only contains two editors other than yourself. I'm one of them, and I only make a single comment in response to a ping, in which I specify that I don't have access to the source. I was certainly skeptical of the proposal, but that was because 1) no meaningful objection to the content was given, and 2) the proposed change was presented in a deceptive manner. This was entirely separate from any merits of the content itself, which I did not comment on at all. Sunrise (talk) 16:57, 30 October 2021 (UTC)

This has been evident for a long time, I am glad you expressed it in a way that is clear and not emotive. Alternative medicine is the classic example. Many things in alt medicine are woo-woo, but some things are also legitimately studied and used by major university hospitals like Johns Hopkins, it's nuanced and complicated - Wikipedia by contrast is confident it is quackery, period. This is not to debate it here, but is one example where legitimate nuance and multi POV are not well represented. The sourcing can be cherry picked, and contrary things eliminated or not given much weight in order to maintain the central point of quackery. When you add nuance and other POV it opens the entire thing up to debate which is a lot of work and can actually lead to woo-woo leaking in, thus it's easier and safer to maintain a hard line position, for better and worse.- GreenC 17:26, 28 October 2021 (UTC)

So, are you suggesting that there be no debate whatsoever regarding content on Alternative Medicine topics? If not, then where would you draw the line? What you're saying sounds like something that could be interpreted to mean that all debate regarding nuance is harmful to the encyclopedia and gives license for editors to shut down any objection on those grounds. Pyrrho the Skeptic (talk) 17:40, 28 October 2021 (UTC)
Sorry, I'm saying how some others approach it now how I see it myself. It's easier to maintain an article to say it's all quackery and hold that line then to introduce nuance. -- GreenC 18:37, 28 October 2021 (UTC)

Many thanks to @MarshallKe for raising this, and for their nuanced, considered tone. I share their concern, and for years I have despaired at how the zeal of a set of anti-fringe editors has gone way beyond upholding policy. There is far too little nuance in their work, far too much determination to label non-mainstream views as "quackery" or as "pseudoscience", and far too little understanding of provisionality of much science. I think in particular of some heated discussions over the years about alchemy, where there was a widespread failure to recognise the importance of alchemy as a pseudoscience.

I am not sure what can be done about that. There seems to be a cluster of editors in this area who don't do nuance, and they aren't going to change their worldview. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 18:33, 28 October 2021 (UTC)

  • The problem is that a number of those articles are about things that have been proved to be "quackery" or "pseudoscience" (whichever epithet you prefer). There are, of course, a number that require - as you say - a more nuanced view, but ironically the topics that are most obviously not based on reality (perpetual motion machines, Flat earth theory, intelligent design and numerous alt-medicine topics) are the ones that cause the most friction, because there are many people out there that have absolute belief that they are genuine. Black Kite (talk) 19:29, 28 October 2021 (UTC)
    That covers quite a range. The first two are in objective areas which scientific consensus says are wrong. The third is pseudoscientific arguments for unprovable untestable religious explanations for reality that don't always conflict with established science. Alt-medicine is often baseless but not-disproven claims. Through a scientific lens, most religion is fringe, but we don't see a broad war against religion in Wikipedia. North8000 (talk) 21:42, 28 October 2021 (UTC)
    It does cover a range, yes - but there's quite a range of fringe topics out there, I've only covered a few. Religious issues are of course not fringe, but intelligent design is pseudoscience - in fact it's probably the poster child for the term. As regards alt-medicine, I did say "numerous" not "all" because whilst WP:MINCHIN does apply to most of the topics, there certainly are alt-med topics that need that nuance that BHG was referring to - I suppose something like chiropractic would be an example there purely because of te extent to which it is established in the Western world. Black Kite (talk) 21:54, 28 October 2021 (UTC)
  • I'll only comment that it's long been an important value of Wikipedia to not be a platform for the promotion of fringe views. It doesn't mean that they cannot be documented, this can be done through reliable sources that critically put them in perspective, when available (when not, it is often an indication that the notability criteria is not met). The original post seems more like a complaint that the policies are applied, rather than a specific proposal to improve policy. —PaleoNeonate – 23:10, 28 October 2021 (UTC)
  • I see no problem with the way that Wikipedia deals with outright quackery; policy there is clear. The problem arises when zealots push the boundaries of their imagined remit to advance their own POV. Another case I came across was the BLP of Brian Martin (social scientist) (see its talk archives) where tag teams of zealots impose their views contrary to WP:BLP. This BLP is not of interest to many people (I only came across it when it came up for Academics AfD once), so a tag team of a few editors are able to exert a controlling influence over it, as they can on any article that is not of wide interest. Xxanthippe (talk) 01:09, 29 October 2021 (UTC).
    From what I read, you were arguing for Martin's controversial views to be presented from his own POV and claims (WP:ABOUTSELF), when WP relies on reliable independent sources instead (not the claims of Martin, or of the editors). At least when reading the current article revision, it even appears somewhat promotional, especially the lead, although the body includes independent criticism. —PaleoNeonate – 05:38, 29 October 2021 (UTC)
    • I have no idea why Martin comes up so often. Maybe because he writes "papers" on this topic? He is mostly upset that he doesn't get to control Wikipedia which is, interestingly, increasingly seen as a feature rather than a bug of this website. jps (talk) 17:57, 29 October 2021 (UTC)
If you don't understand why Brian Martin (social scientist) comes up so often you should read the talk page and its archives which go back a long way. Further discussion of the matter should take place there. Xxanthippe (talk) 00:41, 30 October 2021 (UTC).
I think you misinterpreted my question, which perhaps could have been better framed as, "Why does Brian Martin (and not, say, Brian Josephson or Gary Null or Deepak Chopra who have also been vocal in their disdain for Wikipedia's ways in these areas) always seem to come up as an exemplar in discussions like this where people are arguing that Wikipedia is dominated by pseudoskepticism?" If I didn't know any better, I would invent a conspiracy theory that Brian Martin was behind all this sturm and drang. :) jps (talk) 13:57, 30 October 2021 (UTC)
Wow! That is a conspiracy theory. Maybe the Illuminati, Rosicrucians and Freemasons are also spamming this page. Xxanthippe (talk) 21:43, 30 October 2021 (UTC).
Maybe :) Of course, Wikipedia has had some instances where "spamming" by, shall we say, interested parties has happened. jps (talk) 13:27, 1 November 2021 (UTC)
Brian Martin is actually a really good example, both becuse it was tag teamed heavily, and because Brian Martin was vocal off-wiki in trying to document what he saw happening. (That said, what he documented was a mix of good points and ignorance of how Wikipedia worked). You have to go back to the beginning when Judith Wilyman (a student of Martin's) was awarded a PhD. Before that the article was essentially a standard glowing academic bio (which isn't good), but heavy editing turned it into a hit piece. It became a BLP nightmare, with guilt by association, false claims, cherry picking, and about everything you would fear. Whenever someone spoke out against the state they were accused of acting on behalf of Martin. Eventually an IP took the concerns to BLPN and then ANI, only to be shut down both times by one of the main authors of the article. The thing is, the IP was exactly right about the problems, but it was easy for anti-fringe voices to keep shutting them down. I want to be clear that I support a general anti-fringe viewpoint, but the problem caused by ignoring BLP in order to depict fringe actors in the worst light possible is serious and ongoing. - Bilby (talk) 22:05, 30 October 2021 (UTC)
With such florid descriptions as "hit piece", "BLP nightmare", "everything you would fear", and "worst light possible", you'd think we were talking about, I don't know, labeling someone a criminal or something. Well, it seems that you've made up your mind as to who the real villains are. Is there a way to talk about Brian Martin without pandering and without slander? I should hope so, but you haven't exactly explained what is so absolutely horrible about Wikipedia's approach to the subject with this diatribe. It sounds very similar to the same-old/same-old from WP:PROFRINGE editors. Whether you intend this or not, that's the tradition to which you are adhering. jps (talk) 13:23, 1 November 2021 (UTC)
Or look at it another way - you haven't asked for diffs, you haven't looked at the text, but instead declared that this view appears to be "profringe". Therein lies the problem: so often when concerns are raised by editors on fringe subjects - genuine concerns - they are immediatly tarred with being profirnge, or anti-vax, or in this case that I've "decided who the real villans are", whatever that is intended to mean. Simply, the article was in a bad state, having been edited largely by an editor who was running two sock accounts in order to control the article content, and new editors or IPs who raised concerns tended to be dismissed by established editors who could write them off as Brian Martin supporters. In terms of issues with Wikipedia, the ease at which these concerns about a BLP could be shut down or ignored because they seemed to come from the wrong side was an issue, and it happens often. (For example, here). I guess there isn't much point continuing, though, so I'm going to let it be. I've had enough of this sort of response to last a very long time. - Bilby (talk) 21:02, 1 November 2021 (UTC)
Yes I would personally love to see some diffs with examples of these issues, so I can use it in my personal editing to avoid these problems in the future. Hard to think about what to avoid when we speak in such general terms. — Shibbolethink ( ) 23:04, 1 November 2021 (UTC)
I don't see that you would ever create these sorts of problems. The main ANI discussion was started by SmithBlue, and a few days prior it had been raised at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Biographies_of_living_persons/Noticeboard/Archive235#Brian_Martin BLPN] by an IP. The IP in both cases provided examples of issues. Nil Einne and Johnfos both agreed that there were issues, but no significant changes came from it. An IP who started the BLPN discussion listed the issues an ANI, but the ANI discussion was closed with no action, and the BLPN discussion died out and was archived. The thing was, the IP's concerns were valid and accurate, but they weren't properly addressed when raised. - Bilby (talk) 00:20, 2 November 2021 (UTC)

I have to admit to being unimpressed with this. The IP's concern were, what, that Brian Martin is complaining about his biography not being sufficiently laudatory and, he adds, when he complains about it people are not necessarily receptive to his arguments? That's not really a basis on which to make any judgements for Wikipedia -- we stick to sources not complaints. And it isn't as though we haven't been listening to him and the others of his ilk who have been arguing about WP being a problem. The story, as I see it, is that Martin has approached this subject with a protestation, "I told you I am not an anti-vaxer!" Okay, but the article does not say he is an anti-vaxer. Etc. This isn't to say the article cannot be improved, but I just don't see this is WP's #1 horrible problem in BLPs. I don't even think it cracks the top 1000. jps (talk) 12:34, 2 November 2021 (UTC)

Sorry, but if that is your reading, I'm not sure that you actually looked at the issues the IP raised. - Bilby (talk) 12:40, 2 November 2021 (UTC)
Oh, I looked at them closely and was even involved in the controversy. Perhaps you can elucidate a bit more what you find so clear about this subject. Because I don't see any analysis from you about any of this. jps (talk) 20:03, 7 November 2021 (UTC)
It is remarkably simple: the IP provides a clear list of problems with the article. Specific, line-by-line problems, which somehow you dismiss as Martin not feeling the article being "sufficiently laudatory". This is exactly theproblem being spoken of here: a clear, unambigouous list of issues being dismissed as just some fringe subject complaining. The reality is that the IPs list was remarkably accurate, but they weren't addressed, and instead were repeatedly dismissed without being examined. - Bilby (talk) 15:09, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
Looking at that relevant discussion supports my point that particularly on BLPs, we have editors - and to a point of concern well-experienced editors - that seem extremely focused on making sure minor points of negative news related to fringe views of a BLP are incorporated in the article to make these articles read as scarlet letters or laundry lists of bad information, instead when we should be looking at big picture and what enduring coverage about a BLP gives us instead. If a BLP is routinely commented on as an anti-vaxxer promoter in the bulk of coverage about them, that's fine and including one or two notable comments they made or situations where anti-vax comes up is reasonable. But there are times (and here, the Martin article seems to serve as a good example) that editors are reaching for bits and pieces of criticism from disperse sources to try to come to a novel criticism of anti-vax support. This is absolutely not WP's place to do this when the criticism relate to fringe views is so thin, particularly on BLP. But because we have editors that are so strongly bent on making sure WP does not given any credibility to fringe views (which is a valid concern), we end up getting other parts of policies so perverted to have articles like Martin's which effectively start violating BLP and NPOV. FRINGE and these other policies have to work in balance, particularly are BLP is a legal-binding policy over FRINGE. --Masem (t) 15:47, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
A remarkably clear list of problems that are not evident in the article as of this timestamp as far as I can tell. And yet, we are still talking about this as an example? An example of what? A conflict? jps (talk) 21:55, 15 November 2021 (UTC)
As mentioned, this is the problem - people knock it off as fringe and don't look. Shall we try a few?
  • "non-RS "Science Blogs" being used as source for "has defended Wakefield publicly.[7]". - yes, Science Blogs is self published and should not be used on a BLP
  • "In June 2013 Martin gave evidential support to AVN (AVSN) in their ..." uses a non-RS blog as a source. - yes, self-published blog, "The Skeptics Book of Pooh Pooh"
  • ""Martin supervised a PhD thesis that alleged the Rockefeller Foundation had declared a war on consciousness through the imposition of musical tuning standards" is a blatant misrepresentation of the source. - True, the source does not say that the thesis had anything to do with this, and is talking about something unrelated to Martin.
  • "In support of the thesis Martin was dismissive, saying c..." misrepresents source. - True. This quote is not about the thesis, which was not on that topic, and is not even about the paper mentioned which had nothing to do with Martin.
There were more problems than that, but it is a start. - Bilby (talk) 00:07, 16 November 2021 (UTC)
We are possibly talking cross-purposes here. I was talking about (and continue to talk about) the current timestamp. I don't understand the point of rehashing of stuff that is not in the article. What is it supposed to prove? That there can be changes to an article? I'm not particularly bothered by using attributed sources to experts that publish on ScienceBlogs, but it needs to be worded correctly, obviously. But that's not even in the article right now! So....jps (talk) 03:14, 16 November 2021 (UTC)
So you missed the actual point of the thread? Ok. I guess if that's where we sit, I'm done. - Bilby (talk) 03:45, 16 November 2021 (UTC)

Cool, I guess you get to decide what the "point of the thread is" and I can suck an egg. On the other hand, it looks like this OP is claiming there to be an ongoing problem. Dredging up outrage from five years ago as a banner to wave seems pretty precious to me. I know that WP encourages long memories and grudges, but at the end of the day it's the WP:ENC that we care about and if the issue is not extant, then you have to wonder what the point of revisiting old conflicts really is. I suspect there are ulterior motives to arguing these points and your saltiness seems to confirm for me that it may very well be the case. jps (talk) 05:03, 16 November 2021 (UTC)

There's no ulterior motive - I didn't even bring this up. But my "saltiness" comes directly from how you responded. That said, I'm probably mistaken - your response is a good one, because it highlights that the issues still exist. When I linked to the complaint, instead of looking into them you dismissed them as simply Martin not liking his description. When I pointed out that the problems were listed and weren't as you described, you dismissed tham as not being genuine. When I showed how they were genuine, you dismissed them as not being relevant today. This is much the same as what happened when these were first raised - people didn't look into the issue, dismissing them as just an anti-vaxxer complaining instead of taking the time look into what proved to be significant policy violations on a BLP. It is disappointing that we haven't made any much progress - and that this whole discussion won't make any either. But on the plus side, I do think WP is slowly improving in regard to coverage of fringe BLPs, so perhaps eventually it actually won't be relevant. - Bilby (talk) 05:21, 16 November 2021 (UTC)
When all people have is the link to Brian Martin (social scientist), they will not know which conflict exactly you are talking about. There were several of them, some of which are just Martin not liking his description, some not genuine, some not relevant today. Maybe actual diffs would have been smarter than general handwaving. If people had known that the subject was some dusty old ex-conflict, then they would have said immediately that it is not relevant today. --Hob Gadling (talk) 14:54, 16 November 2021 (UTC)
All of the diffs were provided. - Bilby (talk) 04:16, 17 November 2021 (UTC)
The diffs were provided but referred to a state of an article that it was in five years ago. This thread is not about solving the problems of five years ago, so pardon me if I thought it odd that you were dredging up the past in such a manner. jps (talk) 15:46, 17 November 2021 (UTC)
It is all good - you demonstrated how it is not simply in the past, but an ongoing issue. - Bilby (talk) 20:15, 17 November 2021 (UTC)
WP:KETTLE, surely. :D jps (talk) 20:42, 17 November 2021 (UTC)
  • The Snake and the Crab. "The anti-fringe they go too far when it comes to the ideas I like! But let them have at those problematic ideas that I know for a fact to be wrong." People will understandably feel attacked when their pet idea has WP:FRINGE applied to it. We all want the things we think are true to be so convincing that our idea is WP:MAINSTREAM... or as close to it as we can get. When this is not achieved, the complaint usually comes back that the editors have gone too far! I have talked to ufologists who balk at having their ideas treated similarly to global warming deniers who balk at having their ideas treated similar to creationists who balk at having their ideas treated similar to parapsychologists who balk at having their ideas treated similar to.... Not to say that there cannot be excesses, but often this is a matter of editorial consideration (WP:TONE, WP:MOS, WP:POSA, etc.) rather than a matter of WP:V, WP:NOR, or WP:NPOV. YMMV! jps (talk) 17:51, 29 October 2021 (UTC)
    This hit the nail on the head exactly. It's much easier to criticize editors for being "too anti-fringe" when you think a viewpoint you consider not-all-that-fringe isn't getting enough attention. This is the heart of WP:DUE, and the very heart of most contentious disputes in this space. It will never be easy, and I have yet to see (here or anywhere) a proposal that would make it easier in any feasible way. It's hard, but as far as I can tell, anything that requires an understanding of the overall landscape of sourcing on a topic will always be hard. — Shibbolethink ( ) 03:52, 31 October 2021 (UTC)

This is complicated with like a dozen policies and guidelines affecting it, and widely varying situations included. But perhaps there are few areas worth noting. WP:fringe is well written, including being necessarily nuanced, and necessarily not being super prescriptive. Some of the mis-actions discussed here where wp:fringe is invoked to justify them are actually not following wp:fringe. Perhaps more awareness of this in these debates can help. E.G. when a person claims that wp:fringe supports their action, ask them to get more specific on which part they are invoking. Second, putting a WP:Relevance magnifying glass to some of the situations might help. Editors normally do this naturally, but lack of significant recognition by Wikipedia makes that concept disappear in a dispute where wikilawyering has taken over. Let's say that there is a large wp:notable Holocaust denial group "xyz" The Holocaust article is about the Holocaust, it's not about the opinions of the xyz group. Such is one or two steps removed in relevance from the topic of the article. While such would not automatically preclude inclusion, it's a factor weighing in against it. It would have to meet a higher standard on "does this inform on the subject of the article?" question to get in. And "proven false" information is not informative on the topic. (a plausible minority theory might be) Quite likely the material might be suitable for the "xyz group" article but not the Holocaust article. Of course wp:fringe also applies, but this raises another possibility and says that "which article?" also matters.North8000 (talk) 18:33, 29 October 2021 (UTC)

I can be defined as a supporter of organized skepticism. Regarding this topic: when Wikipedia says something is fringe, it is right 99.9% of the time. What can be improved, though, is merely describing what those fringe ideas are, i.e. what the fringe theorists actually believe. Of course, Wikipedia should not endorse their beliefs, but merely make clear to the reader what they believe. tgeorgescu (talk) 15:55, 30 October 2021 (UTC)

I would agree on the statement that WP is generally right more than 90% of the time when it calls something fringe, but I would not necessarily say it is accurate to the 99.9% level. There is enough editor-created bias - preconceived notions that a topic is fringe, and thus focusing (in a cherry-picking manner) sourcing that is based on those notions at the expense of other valid sourcing - that makes it difficult on topics that may not necessarily have the test of time or scientific/academic assurance that the idea is clearly fringe, pseudoscience, or otherwise not accepted. As an example, it took a few decades for the scientific community to absolutely agree that climate change was real (that is, nearly likely caused by humans and not the fluke temperature rise seen in Earth's geologic past). If it were the case that today we were starting to talk about climate change for the first time as a new theory that had gained popularity among leading scientists but with the same doubt that other scientists had when it was first proposed, WP should not treat those doubters as fringe because of the newness of the theory (a RECENTISM factor here). Obviously, with time, climate change has been deemed real, and now those few who doubt it are considered fringe viewed by the larger scientific community, and thus its reasonable to treat those views as fringe within WP. But, I could postulate that with attitudes of WP editors today, if we were at the hypothetical situation that climate change was first being introduced today, that there would be editors that would want to treat it as the accepted theory out of the gates, treat all scepticism as fringe, and write our articles with this bias in mind, since I would also expect mainstream sources to follow that same pattern.
A lot of this comes down to the trend of WP trying to follow the trend of accountability journalism in mass media (see eg this CRJ article about it). WP editors, as part of human nature, love to include material that blames a person or entity or topic; humans love to dish negative material. Targeting fringe views, particularly when this echoes some of the voices in the mass media or other RSes, is an extension of this. But as WP editors per NPOV, we have to be better than this, and write neutrally, impartially, and dispassionately, and that requires stepping away from preconceived notions and being open to other RSes (include valid RSOPINION sources) that may offer other views within the scope of UNDUE, with a helping of RECENTISM. Its the circling-the-wagon attitudes that work against this that come into play and maintain battleground behaviors when facing IP/new editors that insist certain fringe views be included, while other editors offer good faith intermediate solutions. All this is related to behavioral expectations, less anything that can be set in policy (short adding temporal factors to UNDUE, to give more weight to sources far-removed from events than short-term ones). --Masem (t) 16:25, 30 October 2021 (UTC)
If climate change is the example, isn't this a topic area where Wikipedia has been soundly science-based, forever? I'm seeing a few vague worries that certain topics are improperly overly-treated as fringe. But tellingly, nobody seems to be able to point to any. It's probably time to apply Hitchen's razor. Alexbrn (talk) 16:49, 30 October 2021 (UTC)
As I tried to explain, climate change is an example that we can see in our lifetimes which started as a postulated theory that progressed over time to a scientifically accepted fact. It is not meant to be taken today as an area where we should allow challenging fringe views - though 100% we should fairly document what type of fringe and sceptic views there are of climate change w/o giving them weight of validity. --Masem (t) 17:04, 30 October 2021 (UTC)
So where's the issue? If only 90% of articles have fringe correctly applied that implies 1-in-10 of the articles with nominally "fringe" content are treating it improperly: that'd be many hundreds of articles. I'm sure some exist, but nobody has produced even a single example. Hypotheses, about climate or anything else, are not "fringe" except perhaps when proponents start pushing hypotheses beyond what the evidence will bear (eating sugar causes dementia!), and the Galileo gambit is, yes, often produced in the all-too-familiar WP:PROFRINGE arguments entailed. Alexbrn (talk) 17:13, 30 October 2021 (UTC)
Not to give away my age too much, but I recall being very young and understanding that global warming was a scientific fact. Do you have an approximate date when you think this transition may have occurred? Because it certainly was considered scientific fact well before Wikipedia existed -- although I know more than a few people who were not (and some who still are not) convinced that this is the current situation. To be a bit clearer, we knew that global warming was a fact before we knew that the Accelerating expansion of the universe was a fact. jps (talk) 18:23, 30 October 2021 (UTC)
That Earth's average temperature was rising since the 19th century was well understood and taken as fact early on (that, there was absolutely evidence of), but I would argue from my take of the literature, while there was strong agreement in the scientific community this likely was due to humans, it was not as universal as it is today since there was still legitimate weight about the "natural warning cycle" theories. By 2010, that global warming is nearly completely tied to human activities within the 20th century had readily accepted by the whole of the scientific community as fact due to the amount of additional research put into understand it, and this is the point that we still have sceptics that doubt humans' role in global warming. --Masem (t) 18:31, 30 October 2021 (UTC)
I was afraid of this. Your recollection/reading of the history with 2010 as the threshold does not conform to the way the history developed according to reliable sources we have on the subject. Perhaps you were/are confused because there was/is a coordinated disinformation campaign and emphasis on denial and increasingly threadbare "skepticism" financed by think tanks and the petroleum industry arguing fairly close to what you are arguing (and, really, continuing to pretend that there is no consensus on the subject). "The science is not settled" was the cry, but it very much was well before 2010. The argument that this is not the case is, I would say, actually a WP:FRINGE argument (irony of ironies) that caused a lot of grief here at Wikipedia to the tune of an arbcom case that I will not reference because it ended up treating the entire subject as though it were battle royale of some sort. In any case, you can read more about the history of what reliable sources had to say about human-caused global warming on Wikipedia where it shows that this was essentially an understood fact by climate scientists (who are the relevant experts) by the mid 1990s or so. Political movements were a bit slower, but that's not the subject of scientific consensus. Unless you were conversant with the climate science literature at that time (and I don't know how old you are), there really was not a transition in your lifetime of any sort that Wikipedia would have noticed. jps (talk) 19:05, 30 October 2021 (UTC)
The timing I'm suggesting doesn't matter too much if I'm off that much, but its moreso simply the understanding that the way we (as a society) came to accept climate change was caused by humans was not a sudden change overnight, but took several years or decades of study to come to that conclusion. And you're probably right that I'm considering how the propagation to political bodies took rather than just in climate change circles. My point still comes down to that if we were in a situation today where there was a theory that may have widespread but not universal agreement by scientific or other relevant academic analysis because it is a rather novel concept, then we on WP should not be quick to necessarily support it as fact or dismiss contrary theories as fringe. Of course, there's also the need to balance with completely bad and potentially harmful information, such as all the fake COVID remedies out there which the bulk of the scientific community deem harmful if followed.--Masem (t) 22:02, 30 October 2021 (UTC)
Which is to say a topic like String theory should be treated differently to (say) Ear candling. Which it is. In the absence of examples I'm thinking this thread is demonstrating more that Wikipedia's fringe coverage is excellent and discriminating, rather than that there's a problem. On COVID too, Wikipedia has drawn plaudits for its robust approach to medical misinformation. Alexbrn (talk) 07:36, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
Core to what I'm trying to say is RECENTISM can be a problem when it comes to discriminating a "popular" view on a recent theory over a less popular view, with editors immediately classifying that latter view as fringe but without the benefit of time to be assured the "popular" view has the time and breadth of coverage to be accepted as the scientific/academic-accepted view. It takes time on the order of years (though as we progress technologically, that gets shorter) for a popular or commonly accepted theory to get put through all the scientific evaluations and understand to get to widely-accepted. (The whole nature of the scientific principle). Until that point we should be carry of dismissing side views as fringe. That doesn't mean we have to give any credence, but there is a problem with attitudes from WP editors that want to nail to the cross anything dealing with absolute quackery and true nonsense science which can leak to topics that are on that fringe. It is human nature to want to expose and harp on negative information, and that's too common on WP, but we're supposed to be objective and neutral here, and there's ways to handle fringe views in scientific areas where there is yet a clear dominating prevailing view without necessarily giving weight to those fringe views that otherwise haven't themselves been deemed quackery.
Now, when it comes to medical information per MEDRS, I agree we have to be more heavy handed to prevent bad information from causing problems with our readers. But again, using the discussions around the lab leak theory, the intensity that experienced editors get into this blind dislike for any dealing with fringe appeared to make it difficult to discuss other non-medical information factors related to the lab leak (the social/political history of the theory, etc.) It seems to have been resolved, but its was the battleground attitudes at the start that clearly were a problem, and why things like FRINGE and MEDRS are not absolutes; editors need to keep open minds for good faith efforts to find room for where appropriately sourced information from fringe and minority areas can fit into WP and not blindly fight against them. --Masem (t) 13:43, 1 November 2021 (UTC)

attitudes from WP editors that want to nail to the cross anything dealing with absolute quackery and true nonsense science Rather than being circumspect, why don't you come right out and make your accusations with diffs? If WP:AGF is to believed, I think almost every account that has been accused of this was actually trying to adhere to reliable sources and conform to the fringe guideline, for example, as best as possible. That this can feel to some proponents and their sympathizers as a "nail to the cross", I think this kind of rhetoric is just, again, over-the-top complaints and am unimpressed with the arguments to the contrary regardless of how many times they get repeated in similarly over-the-top manners. Where we agree is that WP:RECENTISM can be a problem. All else the same, Wikipedia prefers to sit and wait until reliable sources emerge. In some cases, the first reliable sources that emerge are from subject-matter experts who are speaking off the cuff. The complaint sometimes is, then, that Wikipedia certainly can't include that sort of rejoinder because BLP or BLOG or what have you which is exactly why things like WP:PARITY and WP:DUE exist. I can't tell you how many times a WP:REDFLAG claim is attempted to be included at Wikipedia which suffers from lack of independent notice. In those cases, the correct thing to do is to remove the claim entirely (and not just include it unadorned without any hint that there may be some issue with it). Wait it out to see if there are sources published that can properly contextualize something and be patient. There is WP:NODEADLINE. jps (talk) 15:14, 1 November 2021 (UTC)

It was my read of the way the lab leak theory issues (how they propagated to RS/N and AN/ANI) that there seemed to editors so intent not to give the lab leak theory any credence as to dismiss any discussion of the political and social history around the theory, or alternatives to how sources could be used beyond the scope of MEDRS (I am aware that there was significant discussion earlier about to what extent MEDRS was to cover biomedical information specifically in context of the lab leak theory, this in light of editors trying to push for WP to give the theory credence, but I'm referring to events after that point). And that's from an outside view, knowing editors got into battleground attitudes about this. I saw this same type of situation before that I was directly involved in, waaay back at the Gamergate controversy article, editors insistent the article could only be developed one way because they were facing numerous IPs trying to coerce the direction, but creating a battleground atmosphere that they would not listen to intermediate solutions. And this type of pattern - in where we have a contentious topic that often draws outside editors trying to force a change from how the topic is otherwise normally covered in the reliable sources leads to battleground and stonewalling behavior from established editors that refuse to want to change that, causing any good faith editors trying to find a middle ground to get caught in that - happens far too much particularly in the AP2 topic area over the last 2-3 years (based on what I see pass at BLP/N). I understand the need to keep articles from going off kilter with bad info from these outside editors, but stonewalling against any reasonable good faith efforts that improve the article under the scope of policy, under claims that this fighting away fringe views, is not helpful either. Its why I think others have identified this is less a policy issue and more a recognition that behaviors have to change in these discussions. --Masem (t) 23:28, 1 November 2021 (UTC)
Well the "lab leak theory" means a lot of different things. There is the question of "was there a bioweapon produced by the Chinese government that escaped the Wuhan lab?" All signs point to no on that one. This was, for better or worse, the primary political argument being leveled at one time. There are other "lab leak theories" that do not invoke this sort of conspiracy theory. I also recall your actions in the Gamergate controversy. I think you have fallen into the trap of what I fashion the "NPOV warrior". Part of the problem with WP:NPOV is that it can make some editors think that if they adhere to Wikipedia rules for long enough that suddenly their biases disappear. This is absolutely not the case. Your biases in Gamergate did bubble to the top and just because you had supports and detractors from both sides of the argument did not mean that you had achieved the NPOV middle. In fact, sometimes NPOV does not sit in the middle. jps (talk) 12:39, 2 November 2021 (UTC)
I guess the issue as I see it was that during the climate change battles of the late aughts, there were good faith editors who adopted an attitude very similar to what I see you adopting which is that the "jury is still out"! We didn't have quite as robust a diagnostic tool for dealing with this sort of advocacy at that time, and so these editorial positions arguably ended up ruining a topic area. Others might claim that it was personality driven, but I really think that if we are careful in following the souped-up WP:PAGs that Wikipedia has developed and adopted, we can avoid future calamity of that nature. The fact that we don't have an arbcom case over COVID-19 but instead a VP thread may be indicative of success in that matter. It certainly seems like a success to me. jps (talk) 13:26, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
Pendula swinging as they do, I can recall a time when scientists editing topics where they were experts would sigh and resign themselves to the fact that topics as mundane as the speed of light or radioactivity would have to accommodate the protestations of IP/new editors who were typically not only misinformed but convinced that they were correct! It took years of work by many in these areas to get to the point where the assumed approach that Wikipedia would take would not be armchair pontificating. Along the way, I have seen some people become more hardened to this point and others dance from one side to the other. As a general principle, Wikipedia's editorial approach is whatever the people who bother to/are allowed to show up say it is. This is bound to change with the years, evolving standards, changing conditions, but I am not convinced that we are at a point right now where the situation is such that it is closed shop in a problematic fashion (like what DMOZ, for example, ended up suffering from). Now, that is my bias, but it is one I cannot see my way out of because I remember what the alternative looked like back in 2004 to 2006. jps (talk) 17:02, 30 October 2021 (UTC)
  • MarshallKe: I agree with the point you raise that information on WP should be based on WP:RS coverage rather than what some editors believe to be objectively "right" and "wrong." I'm not sure this is a problem with the language of WP:DUE, though. The very first sentence of WP:DUE 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." It seems like the language of the policy is fairly clear that inclusion of information hinges on reliability. In other words, I agree with the problem you characterize but I wonder how much would actually change by rewording the policy itself. It (frustratingly so) seems like an editors' problem and not a policy wording one? Kind regards~ PinkElixir (talk) 18:47, 30 October 2021 (UTC)
I agree with the comment above. Policy is sound: it is abuse by over-zealous editors that is the problem. Xxanthippe (talk) 21:43, 30 October 2021 (UTC).
And I think that the claimed evidence of instances of such "over-zealous editors" acting is tissue thin. The irony, of course, is that VP is not the place to go for issues with "over-zealous" editors? You think you found a live one? Go to WP:ANI, WP:AE, etc. But stop with this whining. jps (talk) 12:28, 2 November 2021 (UTC)
The problem with your logic, or lack thereof, is leftist Wikipedia administrators using their powers to bail each other out. There are way too many administrators (Mandruss, Ian.Thomson, etc.) that think they are above the law, and can just do as they please. 2601:644:8D81:8690:38D0:D2FF:FE8F:91B1 (talk) 11:04, 21 November 2021 (UTC)
I am a bit late to this discussion..and I apologise if anything I say has already been said, but I completely agree with MarshallKe, and I think the crux of the problem at hand can be boiled down to: Editors begin to use the status of a viewpoint as mainstream or fringe as the basis for picking sources and facts to include in the article, rather than using mainstream sources and facts to determine what views are fringe. That statement could not be more accurate, and I've seen this done here time and time again, more than I can count. Sadly, it could well be that there is nothing can be done about it, if there are enough of them to assert control, and they work as a coordinated team, which seem to be the case. All we could really do is continue with attempts to reason. The great irony is that this particular wing of editors display the exact same pattern of behaviour as their mortal foes, fringe pushers and religious fundamentalists. "Scepticism" is treated as though it were just another belief system, rather than a philosophy to be applied indiscriminately across the board; yet, any unsourced claim that gets printed in some pop-science sceptics handbook is automatically treated as gospel truth, because....it's written by one of the "righteous souls"? Come on, that ain't the way good sceptics operate, that is the way faithful adherents of religious dogma operate. Cheers, 2600:1702:4960:1DE0:D54B:F70E:14CC:5F15 (talk) 01:41, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
Sounds WP:PROFRINGE. Any example of an article that's bad, in your view, because of what you say is happening? Alexbrn (talk) 03:18, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
This is similar to frivolous accusations of "pseudoskepticism", nothing more than an argument, —PaleoNeonate – 05:15, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
If you want to know, authentic skeptics' associations are actually the only mainstream group which takes seriously the claims of cranks and quacks. Therein disbelief is not an assumption, but a result of carefully weighing the peer-reviewed evidence and sometimes of performing certain experiments (e.g. it is true that tin foil covering a DECT phone gets full of cracks, but that also applies to tin foil covering a banana or a toothbrush). tgeorgescu (talk) 23:35, 1 November 2021 (UTC)

Some of the comments in this thread are painting with too broad a brush and doing a disservice to some hard working and very competent editors. I've been very critical of aspects of WP:FRINGE at times, but have never faced an issue when willing to put a bit of effort into the content. fiveby(zero) 14:32, 31 October 2021 (UTC)

Actual examples?Edit

I've been on the lookout for spurious ("over-zealous") "anti-fringe" editing and recently noticed this.[1] This is exactly the kind of over-baked, more-rationalwiki-than-rationalwiki, take that Wikipedia should avoid. As it happens, the article in question on Vision therapy is typical of a problem fringe topic in that it mixes fringe and non-fringe views. This is I think more common than the "borderline case" scenario some posters seem to be invoking above. Wikipedia editors are expected to grapple with the sourcing for such topics and clarify for readers what's what, and sometimes this is hard. In general, the complainers in this thread seems not to recognize that getting this right is more subtle than a case of being "anti-fringe" or "pro-quackery". Alexbrn (talk) 09:34, 31 October 2021 (UTC)

  • Except that's someone with 71 edits who has edited on nothing else except that article and clearly has an axe to grind with the topic.
  • Having said that - the article needs serious work; whilst vision therapy regarding learning disability is pseudoscientific nonsense, orthoptics isn't, and behavioural vision therapy is something else completely. There should be 3 articles really - orthoptics (already exists), vision therapy (pseudoscience) and behavioural vision therapy, with dab page at the root. Black Kite (talk) 10:40, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
    Bates method stuff makes a lot of this confusing as well. jps (talk) 13:27, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
    At the risk of drifting off-topic, this eye stuff is a terminological mine field, with some RS eliding topic definitions where others make distinctions. Whatever, Wikipedia doesn't just say all it's all bollocks (although some is - like the Bates stuff). This is an example of a tricky area (another might be the gut biome) where woo lives alongside legitimate science. If the complainants were right Wikipedia has some kind of over-skeptical fringe problem I'd expect that to be evidenced in such litmus test areas. Alexbrn (talk) 13:35, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
    Yes, that sounds plausible. Anything regarding diet and exercise is probably susceptible to woo getting mixed up in with legitimate science. XOR'easter (talk) 19:48, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
    (edit conflict)It is not an issue of being "overly-sceptical" or "too anti-fringe". This bloc of editors are only "sceptical" when it comes to the things they've personally decided are bogus, and their bogusness must be defended at all costs, with a hard unyielding line drawn in the sand: even to the point at which, if said idea starts to gain greater acceptance among mainstream scientists, those scientists are automatically and categorically written off as "fringe scientists", for no other reason than that they made a scientific enquiry into a topic that the WP bloc has already determined to be (by analogy) "heretical", especially if the results from said enquiries happen to go against the orthodox doctrine.
    I use church/religious terminology here as allegory; it is not meant to be polemic or inflammatory, only to demonstrate that the MO of this bloc is very nearly the same as that of church doctrinarians and dogmatists. It's not true scepticism, though. And as for "fringe", you (bloc of editors) beg the question of what is fringe? You've already decided what is fringe, and you determine which sources are acceptable based on which position they conclude with. So instead of "what is fringe is determined by reliable sources", instead you are determining what are reliable sources by whether or not they agree with the position you've taken. Which is circular, and runs afoul of WP policy. 2600:1702:4960:1DE0:D54B:F70E:14CC:5F15 (talk) 19:57, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
    if said idea starts to gain greater acceptance among mainstream scientists, those scientists are automatically and categorically written off as "fringe scientists", for no other reason than that they made a scientific enquiry into a topic that the WP bloc has already determined to be (by analogy) "heretical", especially if the results from said enquiries happen to go against the orthodox doctrine.
    ....no, I have to disagree here. What makes fringe scientists "fringe" is that their ideas are not published in mainstream academic journals, referenced in secondary review articles favorably, or characterized as "mainstream" in the scientific press. It is these venues which collectively decide who is and is not "mainstream," not Wiki users. — Shibbolethink ( ) 21:46, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
  • Macon's "yes we are biased" essay was mentioned in the OP's post. It should be noted that it's a personal essay. Few editors directly post it and I personally find it too verbose for my taste (even if its overall message is true). I suppose that it could be considered an example of on-WP zealousness, but it's important to remember that it's mostly one person's condensed expression. Editors may also use user boxes on their user page that are assertive or even parodic. All that should be distinguished from actual policy pages and article content, of course. —PaleoNeonate – 14:47, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
  • How about these BLPviolatingconflictingedits. It's a damn blog, everyone knows it, but fights hard to keep it because of the magic words 'conspiracy theory'. fiveby(zero) 16:27, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
    [2][3]. fiveby(zero) 16:33, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
    I think histrionic arguments like this says more about your problems with Wikipedia than it does about a problem with the way others are applying Wikipedia's WP:FRINGE guideline. jps (talk) 17:22, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
    I did click on the link[4] and a characterisation of "an argument" is not a BLP violation. Alexbrn (talk) 17:26, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
    It's a damn blog, everyone knows it -- quite the contrary, I don't think there's consensus at WP:RSN for this sentiment. You appear to be in the vast minority with that view, from my reading of the most recent RSN discussions. Which makes me more weary that this may be a WP:RGW anti-SBM sort of thing. It's not good wiki conduct to assert that "everyone knows X" when you are one of very few people actually saying X. — Shibbolethink ( ) 19:38, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
  • Most of my experience editing in fringe-area topics has been in fringe physics. My take-away impression would be that Wikipedia hasn't been zealous enough; cruft like "quantized inertia", "event symmetry", and "quantum psychology" floated around for years because they had footnotes and looked superficially respectable. E8 Theory was full of undue and unreliably-sourced detail, digital physics was a synthesis-fest, and EmDrive still looks pretty bad. More zeal, say I! XOR'easter (talk) 20:09, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
    There is a false comparison here. These physics articles, some of which I have edited myself, are mostly junk. They are too technical and insufficiently populist to interest the fringe tag team who do their damage elsewhere. Xxanthippe (talk) 21:43, 31 October 2021 (UTC).
    If we're talking about revising a guideline, then we need to consider all the areas that the change would affect. XOR'easter (talk) 01:29, 1 November 2021 (UTC)
I am not aware that any suggestions for changing guidelines have yet emerged. I think that Wikipedia policy on fringe matters is basically OK; it is the tag-teaming behavior of some over-zealous editors in the area that is the problem. Xxanthippe (talk) 01:39, 1 November 2021 (UTC).
The original post suggested (unspecifically) that WP:DUE could be "clarified". If editor behavior is the issue, then this would seem to be the wrong forum (and I've yet to see any evidence of behavior going beyond occasional prickliness). XOR'easter (talk) 01:47, 1 November 2021 (UTC)
  • Here's another recent example: [5] This edit was discussed at the RS noticeboard, and Crossroads explained the problems with it there. It was eventually reverted, but it's clear from the discussion there that several editors were in favor of describing the journal this way—which has an Article Influence ranking at the 80th percentile. -Ferahgo the Assassin (talk) 22:48, 31 October 2021 (UTC)
    Having an 80th-percentile rating on some metric isn't inconsistent with having a bad reputation. For example, Scientific Reports has a reputation for wallowing in hot garbage, and on the "Article Influence" scale, it's at the 93rd percentile [6]. Quantitatively measuring the worth of a journal is, to put it mildly, an unsolved problem. XOR'easter (talk) 01:29, 1 November 2021 (UTC)
    Accusations of "tag teaming" would need evidence. I'm often accused of that (and of being a sock of other editors in the fringe space) when my editing actions and/or arguments align with other fringe-savvy or WP:MEDRS-savvy editors. It's not that we're tag teaming in such situations though, tho'but, rather that we understand the WP:PAGs and pursue consensus-based editing rooted in them to maintain/improve article content. Editors that are failing to gain consensus for their preferred changes will inappropriately accuse every editor that opposes them of being part of a "tag team". That, I suspect, is what we are seeing here. Alexbrn (talk) 06:06, 1 November 2021 (UTC)
  • I think the best example of this is the row over the COVID-19 lab leak theory article. Not about how the theory should be covered in the article, but on whether we should even have an article about it at all. Not having an article about the theory would seem to be absurd, considering that it was being promoted by prominent politicians and received an enormous amount of media coverage even from the very beginning of the pandemic. But it was extraordinarily controversial, with the draft being deleted, and then the article being nominated for deletion. There was no reason to not have an article on the theory, but editors incorrectly cited WP:FRINGE as a rationale for not having one. Mlb96 (talk) 06:11, 1 November 2021 (UTC)
    • Looking at the first nomination the argument instead seems to be that it was a POVFORK of a fringe position, which is a different (and valid) reason for deletion. Just saying a topic can't be covered because it's fringe would be a misunderstanding of the WP:PAGs and ignored by any competent closer. Ironically, there was tag teaming in that discussion - from "pro lab leak" activists coordinating on twitter. In time, as media coverage of the "lab leak" stuff burgeoned, it got split out of COVID-19 misinformation and a standalone article took. I'd say this is all a good example of Wikipedia following (rather than leading) the coverage, and of things working well! Alexbrn (talk) 06:26, 1 November 2021 (UTC)
    The draft was quite pro-fringe, so it naturally attracted opposition. And the lab leak idea didn't become mainstream right away, it was unambiguously fringe for over a year. Then later, when lab leak became palatable to non-virologists, there was a transition period where editors had to adjust from this idea being clearly fringe, to this idea no longer being fringe to non-virologists, and that is the cause of some of the tension from around this time. But COVID-19 lab leak theory was created on July 18, 2021, and has been published for many months now. Seems like this issue has reached a nice equilibrium, in my opinion. –Novem Linguae (talk) 06:33, 1 November 2021 (UTC)
    Yes, POVFORKs of previously existing articles that already covered the topic in ways that appeared DUE at the time. Other concerns were WP:NOT, WP:GEVAL, WP:NOTNEWS. —PaleoNeonate – 08:10, 1 November 2021 (UTC)
  • I'll also note that much of this was following from previous consensus that, due to a near complete lack of reliable coverage, most lab leak discussion was on the COVID-19 misinformation article, not the scientific investigations article. We followed the reliable sources at the time, and once the WHO weighed in that it was worthy of consideration (even if unlikely) is when the wheels began turning to add the article. Bakkster Man (talk) 13:36, 1 November 2021 (UTC)
  • There is a group of half a dozen editors that, at least on the topic of the origin of SARS-CoV-2 have acted in the ways described by the OP here. However, in all truth, each and every time that I have discussed them in talk pages, without personal comments, they all have patiently responded, or at least acknowledged, my points of dissent. I can not tell if they work in tag teams because they all are fast editors with deep knowledge of wiki policies, and when a group of diligent good editors work on any page of course they would appear to work in coordination when they actually aren't. They may have excessively delayed the creation of the lab leak theory page, but in hindsight they did stick to principles consistently. In areas where they could have been suspiciously "gaming the system", I tried to challenge them individually in talk pages and their responses seemed reasonable and coming from an honest desire of improving the project (Two of them: Random Canadian and Hemiauchenia, were sometimes too grumpy or borderline rude; all the others responded with consistent civility. But even RC and H have a history of receiving barnstars and being well-received in some wikiprojects so who am I to judge their charisma/manners?). Are there lessons to be extracted from 2021 and the way the anti-fringe brigade works? I would suggest that we follow a simple procedure: to ask the anti-fringe editors to comment on whether they were too harsh on applying their methods. Its not an easy answer, its similar to a situation in which a SWAT team is asked on whether they should had compromised to the demands of terrorists or continue to hold a "no negotiation with terrorists" rule no matter what. Forich (talk) 02:32, 2 November 2021 (UTC)
  • I didn't edit that, but I call tell you that I'm harsh in respect to harsh people, and gentle in respect to gentle people. So, it all depends upon the attitude adopted by editors who challenge the status quo. When I see a gentle reply, I reply with well-meant advice and guidance. When I get a mean reply, I reply with formal (standard) warnings. tgeorgescu (talk) 03:18, 2 November 2021 (UTC)
  • Since we're at it, you really think that the material I just had to remove here was acceptable? More details here. I must be one of those editors who understands where promotion against the scientific consensus and common sense is being pushed, that it is unacceptable by policy, but who is indirectly accused above... —PaleoNeonate – 06:03, 2 November 2021 (UTC)
  • The assumption that Wikipedia must have an article on everything right now and if you put the brakes on it that is BAD BEHAVIOR does seem to be one position that some people take that certain people who work in areas relevant to WP:FRINGE take some issue with. But I think this is a feature rather than a bug. Remembering what it looks like when an "accept all comers" attitude prevails, I think we definitely need brakes applied. The solution of calm, rational discussion seems like one everyone can get behind. Which leaves us with a conclusion: there really isn't a problem with WP:FRINGE editors. There is the general issue with Wikipedia being crowdsourced and it never looks pretty to see how the sausage is made. jps (talk) 12:46, 2 November 2021 (UTC)
  • @Forich: I provided some thoughts in the above section. While I'm sure there's worthwhile self-reflection to be done, I think it might also be a bit counter-productive to focus entirely on such a contentious mix of in-process science, partisan politicization, and active disinformation and try to apply the lessons learned to more garden variety WP:FRINGE disputes without those confounding factors. Lessons to learn, I'm sure, I just worry being myopic about them could cause more problems than it solves. Bakkster Man (talk) 13:57, 2 November 2021 (UTC)

The "fringe" related examples I've seen have not been outright exclusion discussed above. They are mostly cases where unproven beliefs and implausible beliefs (e.g. pretty well anything religion or spirituality related, belief in Santa Claus and other legends, un-established theories, out-of-favor assertions, anything faith-based etc. etc.) where the value-laden "fringe" label is applied to justify turning the article or coverage into a bash-fest against the topic. Sometimes the bash fest is amplified by applying the "pseudoscience" label to where where there is no claim of being scientific. Most policies and core guidelines have the "general principle/guidance" sections and then sections that contain "operational mechanics". When wikilawyering takes over, the "general principle/guidance" sections are easily and always ignored and only the "operational mechanics" sections are invokable/invoked. While wp:fringe is well-written, it is mostly of the "general principle/guidance" and thus it's content is easily ignored/ ignore-able when it is is mis-used and the only thing left is the value-laden one-word epitaph "fringe" to use against their opponents. North8000 (talk) 13:29, 2 November 2021 (UTC)

@Bakkster Man: I like that you brought WP:BATTLEGROUND. Some de facto factions were definitely formed, with few exceptions (e.g. you stayed neutral). Pro lab leak newcomers were invited to assume good faith on the anti-fringe editors and to respond to their revertions by trying to build consensus first at talk pages. In my view, an autopsy of those discusssions would reveal that the process of "building consensus" consisted of:
  1. anti-fringe editors would check out every once in a while whether any MEDRS mentioned the lab leak favorably
  2. failing to find MEDRS in step 1, they stablished that consensus was reached in that the lab leak was deemed fringe, and editor "consensus-building" could only transpire at the articles/section of misinformation
  3. pro lab leak editors who pointed at disagreements in the above steps were warned that insisting in editing beyond the allowed misinformation sections would be considered disruptive
  4. anti-fringe editors would rush to archive the talk pages to make the illusion of stability and control.
  5. edit warring erupted as a combination of conspiratorial editors trying to push their POV and legimitate editors trapped in the crossfire. Forich (talk) 19:33, 2 November 2021 (UTC)
The scientific "in-process" part of the problem that you also mention can be a good lesson. We need more tools as editors to be able to differentiate between consensus-among-scientists with low confidence because evidence is just being gathered vs consensus-among-scientists with high confidence because evidence was gathered and examined. In the first case, there ir room for a "the jury is still out" description, while in the second, the case is closed. Forich (talk) 19:40, 2 November 2021 (UTC)
Yup, and we should not conflate between the lab leak being scientifically/medically WP:FRINGE and the lab leak being politically/mediatically WP:FRINGE. Discussions among scientists reached a high degree of consensus, while discussion among the general population didn't. And I don't mean just discussions among cranks and wackos, but being considered seriously by the Biden administration. tgeorgescu (talk) 19:46, 2 November 2021 (UTC)
I think that hits most of the key points, namely that the WP:BESTSOURCES were treated as authoritative, as they should have been. The issue was that these best sources came to a too hasty conclusion, mostly through a reaction against actual conspiratorial thinking (in a way, our editing reaction was a microcosm of the greater world) but also an unseen at the time conflict of interest. I don't think the issue was so much calling the lab leak idea WP:FRINGE (which it was, and arguably still is in the WP:FRINGE/ALT sense), it was how we handled a topic of minority science coopted by politicians and conspiracy theorists in our goal not to further spread misinformation (a combination of WP:SCHOLARSHIP to cut above politics, not holding ourselves to a WP:DEADLINE, and trying to avoid WP:SOAPBOX and WP:OPINION as best we could). And broadly, I think we did pretty well. We didn't have a WP:CRYSTALBALL to know that The Lancet letter had an undisclosed COI and didn't put its primary author/organizer first in the author list, and following that bulk of data was definitely the right call. Did this push rational investigations into minor, less reliable journals (meaning WP editors couldn't find good, reliable sources describing the claims in a way we could cite without concern)? Possibly, but again I think it's a case where we have to defer to these highest quality sources for the mainstream interpretation.
I would also like to point out that, especially early on, there was a lot of off-wiki canvassing. Primarily from pro-leak advocates. That and the relative difficulty of administration (because those admins were also getting attacked for intervening) set the stage for either battleground behavior, or WP:TE/WP:DE/WP:GAMING (and editors attempting to prevent those problematic edits). And, the longer it went on, the less willing volunteers were to participate. There's only so many POV-pushing IP edits railing against a cabal before most rational editors abandon ship, and if admins can't keep up... well it's going to end up looking a lot like a battleground. Is there a solution for this? Not an easy one that I can think of.
Overall, I think we were at most a few months 'late' incorporating the lab leak beyond the misinformation article (and a sentence or two on the SARS-CoV-2 article). Meaning that we could have (but not necessarily should have) found neutral text, reliable sources, and notable examples to expand such coverage. And for something so contentious, I'm more apt to count that as a win. And an outlier in terms of what a 'typical' fringe issue looks like. With a little bit of luck, we won't have a similarly politicized fringe science topic for another decade. Bakkster Man (talk) 20:42, 2 November 2021 (UTC)
@Forich: Your recent proposal relating to DRASTIC findings reminds me of another confounding factor, and one that could be worth some thinking. Basically, 'open source' science and journalism is rarely considered reliable here, for good reason. Should our PAGs around 'citizen reporting' be reconsidered or updated? Or is this just a place we need to expect more tension going forward? My thought throughout has mostly been that if it weren't a fringe idea, it would get published in respected journals, rather than just mainstream media reporting on the claims. Bakkster Man (talk) 13:07, 3 November 2021 (UTC)
Inclusion of material on contentious areas with a strong eye on both NOT#NEWS and RECENTISM would help here. WRT to the lab leak theory, mainstream is fine to talk about the social and political aspects of how that progressed in society, but they shouldn't be the sources used to evaluate its veracity and we should wait (per these PAGs) for MEDRS compliant sources to speak towards that. There's some complexities there but that's the type of thing that happens too much is that a new "big" report from the media comes out and editors want to rush to include it but in reality it in the larger scheme of things its not really important in the enduring coverage of a topic. We don't have enough editors that think of topics at that scope. --Masem (t) 13:21, 3 November 2021 (UTC)
Bakkster Man, let us not forget that this same COI issue plagued the WHO-convened study, which was well covered in RS at the time, and was outright rejected by editors bent on fringifying the lab leak theory. LondonIP (talk) 01:46, 14 November 2021 (UTC)
@LondonIP: While there were definitely arguments made in that direction, I think the right conclusion was broadly made when the dust settled. Namely that the lab leak shouldn't be treated as pseudoscience, and instead be treated as a minority scientific view. Bakkster Man (talk) 19:43, 14 November 2021 (UTC)
@Bakkster Man: from the discussions I've read, the lab leak theory was and still is classed as FRINGE, which has also enabled the misinterpretation of sources by WP:POVEDITORS, which demonstrates the the point of this discussion. These sources include Graham Baric paper, the Hakim paper, and a Science magazine article, the first two of which are still being misrepresented to present a false academic consensus about Covid origins and gain of function research. It is not in the least bit surprising to see some of these editors show up here and deny that they did anything wrong, despite the critical commentary from CNET, The Atlantic and The Times that their efforts earned Wikipedia. You too were involved in these shenanigans, arguing that the WHO DG did not criticise the WHO-convened report, and you now seem to be arguing here that the study wasn't tainted by the same COI issues that the Lancet letter was, when sources have reported that from the start. If anyone here looks at the huge list of sources Gimiv compiled, they would see that there was ample coverage by RS to cover this topic neutrally as far back as Jan 30 2020, yet you condoned the deletion of that list and the banning of that editor. You also called for the lab leak page and gain of function research "POV-forks", and remain unable to admit you did anything wrong. So far, the only editor who has acknowledge any wrongdoing is ProcrastinatingReader, and several admins have stepped back from enforcing what they thought was policy. To be clear, FRINGE is not the only policy that was abused, but also MEDRS and SCHOLARSHIP, and most egregiously; NPOV. No one knows anything about the origins of Covid, and there is neither a majority nor a minority of scientists with a valid opinion on the matter. Thanks to CP, we know Origin tracing is as a chiefly scientific affair, but with certain data requirements, that require ground support. Without access to that data, neither the WHO or OIE can do anything within their mandate, and we can rightly call it a cover-up, which is exactly how China COVID-19 cover-up describes it. LondonIP (talk) 02:32, 24 November 2021 (UTC)
@LondonIP: What wrongdoing/acknowledgement are you talking about? ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 02:34, 24 November 2021 (UTC)
This. You may deny this was an admission of wrongdoing, but several editors got banned, some in part, and some in whole, due to the abuse of the MEDRS policy you vividly describe. You also went after several of these editors in ANI, such as Arcturus, who retired soon-after, and you have yet to apologise to them. I would contend that none of the banned editors ever tried more than to get Wikipedia to cover the story as reliable sources were covering it, and if they engaged in light sock puppetry (like who choses a username like SacrificialPawn?), it would have been only to counter a coordinated effort by editors abusing policy as you described (look at how no one has added this in nearly two months, and contend that the page must remain protected). I have several diffs also where Alexbrn threatens a number of experienced editors about the sanctions in place, which was collected in a neat list of diffs by another editor, yet you praised his efforts, and called those editors "slightly more committed SPAs". It seems DGG was the only administrator to catch onto what was going on, and warned other administrators about it in no uncertain terms, but they did not heed him till the Biden report came out (in which the only moderate level assessment by an agency was in favour of the lab leak scenario). There was nothing new in the Biden report and I could add a lot of 2020 sources missing from Gimiv's list, showing clearly it was an idea a small number of scientists were entertaining as a possibility while Trump was still praising Xi for his containment efforts. The misinterpretation of the above three sources was so flagrant, I may have to open an ARCA, if this problem persists. LondonIP (talk) 03:05, 24 November 2021 (UTC)
That's not an admission of wrongdoing. Also it needs to be read in context of my comment directly above it, and it was only intended to apply to that specific situation. And in general, the coverage of the lab leak on Wikipedia can't really be properly debated if you don't acknowledge the worldwide uncertainty and excess amount of conspiracy theories flying around. Obviously the availability of sourcing changed with time, which I was happy to acknowledge, and I'd say the article exists currently in large part due to my efforts in July.
If you think those three sources are being misinterpreted, you can always discuss that on the talk page. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 12:39, 24 November 2021 (UTC)
@LondonIP: It is not in the least bit surprising to see some of these editors show up here and deny that they did anything wrong, despite the critical commentary from CNET, The Atlantic and The Times that their efforts earned Wikipedia. You too were involved in these shenanigans, arguing that the WHO DG did not criticise the WHO-convened report, and you now seem to be arguing here that the study wasn't tainted by the same COI issues that the Lancet letter was, when sources have reported that from the start. Against my better judgment that says this doesn't dignify a response (If you think consensus is wrong, seek to change it; if you think I've acted inappropriately, take it to the proper venue), other than to say that I can present multiple examples of editors of each personal POV who have commented positively on my neutrality and willingness to engage in good faith. And my willingness to change my perspective as strong sources are published is as I read WP:PAGs to encourage all of us to do. I wholeheartedly stand by my position regarding the WHO DG comments, that summarizing these remarks to solely critical of the lab-leak assessment is indeed WP:POV. Bakkster Man (talk) 15:49, 24 November 2021 (UTC)
  • Here's an example: Mark Hyman (doctor) (Talk). The fact that he promotes a diet that some have labeled a "fad diet" apparently inspired fringe-phobic editors to seek out only critical sources of the diet (because, if it's fad, it's pseudoscientific, and that's bad!!). Selective sourcing and presentation of only criticism (in the negative sense, not the "film criticism" sense) led to obscuring the nuance actually present in reliable sources. I provided some diverse sources to the talk page, which improved the article a bit. Another example is Devra Davis (Talk), an article which admittedly previously suffered from promotional tone and problematic sourcing. A scientist who has been compared to a modern day Rachel Carson, was labeled a conspiracy theorist, and the article largely restructured to give undue emphasis to relatively recent events regarding wireless radiation and 5G, ignoring mainstream coverage dating back to the early 1990s. I believe some editors feel that if a topic is "fringe", that it must be pared with criticism, which leads to biased framing, and any positive presentation is often decried as "white washing" or "pro-fringe", as if they are smoldering cigarette butts in a dry California forest that must be swiftly stomped out. --Animalparty! (talk) 21:10, 2 November 2021 (UTC)
    I do feel that if a topic is fringe, it must be paired with criticism (assuming we're not leaving it out entirely). I'd call it "the mainstream view", but it's not unreasonable to call it criticism. Is this not the way it should be? Firefangledfeathers (talk) 21:48, 2 November 2021 (UTC)
It is often warranted to mention the minority status of a subject, even in an article devoted to the subject (or proponent of the subject). And due criticism is warranted. But too many editors seem to act as if "fringe" means only criticism is allowed. Many also shoehorn the phrase "has been criticized", a subtle editorialism that might be technically true, but can lend itself to cherry-picking, weasel wording, or WP:SYNTH, and lead to framing issues (as I raised at Talk:Brian Martin (social scientist)#Article biases). If critical views are themselves a minority when viewed within the whole of reliable literature (as may be the case with Devra Davis), even if the views are held by experts, more care is required than is often taken to ensure that is apparent who is doing the criticizing, and why. Sometimes it is acceptable to simply state that someone holds a minority belief without coddling the poor impressionable readers who might leave the article thinking creationism is (gasp!) NOT a pseudoscience. --Animalparty! (talk) 22:15, 2 November 2021 (UTC)
  • I cannot agree with MarshallKe's original post in general (in some cases, it's definitely a phenomenon), because I have primarily witnessed the opposite, mainly in articles about books. A little-known book written by a bigoted quack on conversion therapy may meet WP:NBOOK#1 based on one bestseller list appearance and one review in a reputable newspaper by a non-medical expert. This gives us very little scope to be able to clarify the essential context for WP:FRINGE that doesn't violate WP:SYNTH.
    I have seen this prove difficult in the case of a prolific editor later revealed as a sockpuppet who wrote almost exclusively on Christian anti-gay books, where reviews were mixed or overall negative, but did not make clear the scientific consensus on conversion therapy as a nonsense that doesn't work (on which there can be no "balancing" positive view). I have also seen this prove difficult when dealing with U.K. topics about transgender issues, where the mainstream media are increasingly mixing beliefs about transgender people (e.g. that they shouldn't be legally recognised or should be subject to discrimination) with misinformation about the topic (such as false medical claims about puberty blockers). We cannot condemn beliefs, however odious, as they are not a matter of "right" or "wrong". But the beliefs often imply, rely on or state things that are medically untrue, without correction in the British press. So presentation of the material is very difficult, and we are currently not making it sufficiently clear in our coverage what the facts are. — Bilorv (talk) 21:13, 2 November 2021 (UTC)
    I've noticed the same kind of thing happening with fringe science; sometimes a claim about a reactionless spacedrive or whatever will get a few credulous write-ups that don't bother to seek out an actual expert opinion. XOR'easter (talk) 23:40, 3 November 2021 (UTC)

Before Covid I felt "OK fine let's have what the fringe think, wp:n can surely allow for something to be notable among a fringe, what does it hurt". Post Covid it "as long as it is not actually dangerous". Now I am leaning more and more towards No, we should not allow fringe nonsense. Yes, we should only allow a fringe topic if it is also called out, and there is actually an analysis of it by reputable sources. If it's people being upset their chosen cause is not treated seriously enough Vs people not being dead, sorry I side with the latter. If that means throwing the baby out with the bath water, fine.Slatersteven (talk) 16:43, 4 November 2021 (UTC)

“Why do they give a rat’s ass?” sub discussionEdit

To be fair, I don't think anyone in this discussion (though I could be wrong!) has complaint with this militia of "guerilla sceptic warriors" when it comes to things that might result in deaths...but on topics that have absolutely no bearing on the real world whatsoever (or if so, harmless). Like, for example, if Chinese folk want to organise their living space in such and such way because they think it helps increase good energy and flush out bad energy, why do they give a rat's ass? I can think of no reason whatsoever except maybe some of them are realtors and feng shui makes selling houses more difficult for them! But then going so far as to make a claim that such a thing is "scientifically testable" and has been debunked is ludicrous (but their pet sceptics' handbook say so therefore it must be true!). Now, relating to covid topics: misinformation about public health should be rigorously defended against. The circumstances surrounding the origin of the virus are not a matter of pubic health. This "guerilla squad" hath effectively banned any Wiki article from printing the facts that: there is a research lab in the same town that Covid19 first appeared in, that had been researching coronavirus mutations that could cause disease in humans, and that 2 months before the outbreak that lab did a mass purge of all their data relating to that subject. They think that that information should not be documented by us, and that no matter HOW many sources mention it or WHICH sources mention it, they need to be silenced because those facts "give undue suppory to a fringe theory", and, apparently, that means they must be suppressed until the end of time, even if the rest of the world decides it is not fringe. Wikisceptics always know best! (Disclaimer: I have no opinion one way or another about the lab leak hypothesis; I do NOT believe that any possible leaks were deliberate or that there was any nefarious conspiracy. If it happened, it were negligence, and any conspiracy went no farther beyond a coverup). 2600:1702:4960:1DE0:100A:126F:9258:FBB8 (talk) 03:21, 7 November 2021 (UTC)
What's The Harm? - LuckyLouie (talk) 15:00, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
I'm sorry, how is this source RS or not partisan LuckyLouie. Should we also completely dismiss vegetarianism? A. C. Santacruz Talk 10:59, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
Not offered as RS. Merely informational. And according to the site, “There is no harm in a properly balanced vegetarian diet. But some parents choose vegetarianism for their children without doing their homework…” going on with further details and examples. So there’s no need to “completely dismiss”vegetarianism. - LuckyLouie (talk) 13:02, 10 November 2021 (UTC)

Related canvassing/COI discussion at AN/IEdit

It may be relevant to note here that there's currently a thread at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents related to the conduct of the GSoW skeptic advocacy group, which bears rather heavily on the issues being discussed here. jp×g 03:43, 5 November 2021 (UTC)

Can you give a current link? Xxanthippe (talk) 03:52, 7 November 2021 (UTC).
I've not had enough coffee for that yet... Bakkster Man (talk) 11:05, 5 November 2021 (UTC)

RFC? (Fringe/anti-fringe)Edit

It looks like the discussion above isn't going to reach a consensus. I think what we need is a community-wide RFC about whether it's compatible with NPOV policy to exclude otherwise high-quality sources from articles, on the grounds of these sources being favorable to views that Wikipedia considers fringe.

This attitude is especially common on articles related to human intelligence. On these articles, editors often claim that all works by a particular author fail WP:RS, regardless of where they were published. For example, around a year ago all citations to Heiner Rindermann's book Cognitive Capitalism were removed from Wikipedia articles, because Rindermann is now considered a "fringe" author, even though this book was published by Cambridge University Press. There have been two earlier attempts at RFCs about this attitude to sources on those articles, [7] [8] but they both failed to resolve anything.

Do others agree with the proposal to start a RFC, and could they help to formulate a RFC that will be able to resolve this question for all of the topic areas where it comes up? Gardenofaleph (talk) 21:06, 9 November 2021 (UTC)

You mean 'Race and Intelligence', right? We've had several RFCs (the two you linked and several more) as well as an Arbcom case. In this one Rindermann's reliability as an author (and his associations with stuff like Mankind Quarterly) was discussed quite a bit. It seems likely to me that another RFC will go the same way the others have, that the minority will again refuse to accept the result, and nothing will change. I'd just as soon not waste the community's time. - MrOllie (talk) 21:23, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
If two RFCs couldn't resolve the issue for the narrow topic of race and intelligence, how do we expect an RFC about all fringe topics to have any chance? If we're going to try and refine anything on the topic, I'd suggest at least breaking the question down further. One half is broad fringe interpretation about when/where it's appropriate to include fringe content (and I doubt any broad RFC will change much at the individual article level). The other half is the sourcing question and whether a fringe topic or author affects the reliability of an otherwise 'generally reliable' source. That question's more interesting, but I still think it leans more towards needing to be case-by-case (as WP:RS suggests, there are few blanket answers). Bakkster Man (talk) 21:27, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
A RFC about the second question sounds like a good idea. In relation to race and intelligence, a lot of otherwise high-quality sources have been declared non-RS with this justification, usually without any discussion at the RS noticeboard. I think making it a RFC about fringe science in general actually increases the odds of it resolving something, because noticeboard discussions specifically about race and intelligence tend to get derailed and then shut down before they can reach a consensus. But if the RFC stays focused on the general principles, maybe that won't happen. Gardenofaleph (talk) 22:08, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
Given the editing environment and editors personalities, I think staying focused on general principles and preventing discussion about race and intelligence (or maybe COVID conspiracy theories) will be more or less impossible. MrOllie (talk) 22:17, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
You may need to seek consensus to alter WP:RS, especially WP:SOURCEDEF and its note that "The creator of the work (the writer, journalist)" is a factor in determining reliability. I don't think that every fringe-promoting author is unreliable in every context, but I do think there are many cases where a source published by a reputable house, journal, or newspaper could be considered unreliable for claims on topics where the author is pushing the fringe. Firefangledfeathers (talk) 23:38, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
WP:SCHOLARSHIP also says: "Material such as an article, book, monograph, or research paper that has been vetted by the scholarly community is regarded as reliable, where the material has been published in reputable peer-reviewed sources or by well-regarded academic presses." That part of the policy doesn't mention any exceptions based on a source's viewpoint or the identity of its author.
I think the situation where the identity of the author affects reliability is when the publisher doesn't have a vetting process, such as self-published sources. WP:SELFPUB says, "Self-published expert sources may be considered reliable when produced by an established subject-matter expert, whose work in the relevant field has previously been published by reliable, independent publications." So the identity of the author wouldn't affect reliability when the publisher is a well-regarded academic press such as Cambridge University Press. But there seem to be varying interpretations of this aspect of the policy, which is why I think a RFC would be useful. Gardenofaleph (talk) 00:58, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
SCHOLARSHIP is a subsection of WP:SOURCETYPES, which includes in its introduction: "However, some scholarly material may be outdated, in competition with alternative theories, controversial within the relevant field, or largely ignored by the mainstream academic discourse because of lack of citations." Interpretations of the policy abound, but it's clear that RS, as currently written, allows consideration of who the author is as part of the calculation. If your broad plan for policy change rests on your policy interpretation, I'd reiterate that a proposed change to RS might need to be your first step. Firefangledfeathers (talk) 02:18, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
@Gardenofaleph: Might I suggest the issue might be better handled by bringing more source discussions to RSN for an outside perspective? Assuming you feel the issue is misapplication of policy, rather than a need to change it. Bakkster Man (talk) 14:04, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
I agree with this opinion. A. C. Santacruz Talk 14:24, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
There was a discussion at RSN about two months ago on this question (in relation to intelligence topics), but it failed to resolve anything. [9] For the past few months it's been virtually impossible to reach a consensus about anything in relation to that particular topic. That's one of the reasons I was hoping we could resolve the question of RS or non-RS by discussing it here in general policy terms. Gardenofaleph (talk) 19:52, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
As with the lab-leak stuff, attempts to change overall policy around a specific issue where some editors are calculating how changes can advance "their" side tend to be train-wrecks and savour of game-playing. This is likely why several editors here have completely different ideas on what this section is "about". R&I agitators need to drop the WP:STICK. Alexbrn (talk) 20:02, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
  • "whether it's compatible with NPOV policy to exclude otherwise high-quality sources from articles, on the grounds of these sources being favorable to views that Wikipedia considers fringe" ← it's not "compatible with" NPOV policy, it is NPOV policy. To quote WP:GEVAL:

Conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, speculative history, or plausible but currently unaccepted theories should not be legitimized through comparison to accepted academic scholarship. We do not take a stand on these issues as encyclopedia writers, for or against; we merely omit this information where including it would unduly legitimize it, and otherwise include and describe these ideas in their proper context with respect to established scholarship and the beliefs of the wider world. [my bold]

It would of course be Christmas come early for WP:PROFRINGErs if this got removed, opening the floodgates to context-free nonsense of all kinds, from medicine to racism to aliens. Alexbrn (talk) 02:51, 10 November 2021 (UTC)

    • It is completely possible to discussion fringe theories using high-quality sources without actually legitimizing those theories. There seems to be an implicit concept among those that edit in the anti-fringe view that anything close to promoting the fringe view is legitimizing the fringe view, but there are various shades of grey in how we can incorporate such sources to simply document without comment or legitimization of the theory. There is the need to avoid false balance or equivalence, but we should not shy away from at least trying to compentently outline the basis of a fringe theory and why it exists, all while being careful in wording that it is not an accepted theory -- that's all assuming there's wide-spread support it is a fringe theory. If that wide-spread support isn't there, we should still be careful giving yet-proven theories legitimacy, but now have to consider UNDUE for inclusion. --Masem (t) 02:59, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
    • "that Wikipedia considers fringe" is already a bad starting point, because if it does, it's because those views have precisely never acquired consensus in the scientific field. —PaleoNeonate – 10:35, 16 November 2021 (UTC)
      • "we should not shy away from at least trying to compentently outline the basis of a fringe theory and why it exists" ← on the contrary, we should follow policy and not try to do this ("compentently" [sic] or not), as it would be original research, which is also prohibited by core policy. Of course, if decent sources exist that have such an outline, they may be used to put the fringe views "in their proper context with respect to established scholarship and the beliefs of the wider world". But if they don't exist, Wikipedia keeps schtum. Ironically, for a thread about turning things on their head, it seems the thing some editors what to turn on its head is plainly-stated core policy! Alexbrn (talk) 03:15, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
        • While I agree that we should still be relying on quality RSes for discussion of the state of a fringe theory without legitimizing, the issue that has been the core of this entire thread has been about how editors with a strong anti-fringe stance seem to go out of their way to knock any type of legitimacy of sources that would be the appropriate type to use in these cases that happen to give a bit of support or non-stigmatizing coverage of fringe, and then thus claim there's no coverage of the fringe view in RSes and thus no need to cover it - a line of circular logic. Again, there's a huge mass of things around false balance and the like to watch for, but WP should be striving to document controversies, not engage in them, and to this end, we should be looking to try to include the material around fringe theories (how the came about, why people still believe them, how they cause problems today) without having documenting anything that legitimizes the theory, as long as we can document to reliable sources. Its just that those reliable sources may be more favorable to fringe and we just have to make sure we don't incorporate any bias they may have. --Masem (t) 03:27, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
          • The whole purpose of this thread was a bad faith attempt at "getting back at specific editors", as was identified early on. WP:FRINGE is a guideline for everybody, not just "anti-fringe" editors. The opposite, WP:PROFRINGE editors, are not in line with policy and Wikipedia does not want them. So long as a source helps us to describe a fringe idea "in its proper context with respect to established scholarship and the beliefs of the wider world" then I agree, it is useful, per current policy. We use such sources all the time (a good example is the Homeopathy article). However, as stated above, the question posed in this section seems ignorant of NPOV and seems to be wanting to allow a context-free exposition of fringe material. That's not going to happen, and is not negotiable. Alexbrn (talk) 03:46, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
            • WP:AGF WP:NEGOTIATION: Please remember Alexbrn to assume good faith on editors just attempting to bring discussion and community-wide perspectives on a topic that you might feel very attached to. If you believe that the ideas proposed here are "not going to happen, and [are] not negotiable", I suggest you take a small break from the discussion and then re-join, as trying to prevent consensus from forming is disruptive (see 4th point). Your opinion is valued in this discussion, but so is other editors. I have a lot of respect myself for Masem's opinions from my lurking in discussions, and don't see justification for you dismissing a measured response from them. I agree with them that WP's role as an encyclopedia is to document the controversies (I hope I am not mis-referencing by linking to WP:DTTC). A. C. Santacruz Talk 11:10, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
              • The bad faith was identified by others, and yes NPOV is explicitly non-negotiable. That is policy. WP:DTTC is just an essay but its point, contrary to what you say, is that Wikipedia does not "teach the controversy", a turn of phrase used by pseudoscientists to try to open a window to their nonsenses, and is the kind of stunt WP:GEVAL exists to prevent. Forgive me if I decline your impudent suggestions to take a break. Alexbrn (talk) 11:23, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
                • It's easy to read, including in the original poster's complaint, the framing as "some editors" and it's obvious to several here where something is akin to "teach the controversy", more noise than an actual problem... —PaleoNeonate – 11:13, 16 November 2021 (UTC)

If you could link to the others identifying bad faith I'd appreciate it as I seem to have missed how "whether it's compatible with NPOV policy to exclude otherwise high-quality sources from articles, on the grounds of these sources being favorable to views that Wikipedia considers fringe" is an attack against any editor. By linking DTTC I meant that if there are reliable sources in support of a view it is our duty to include them. Assuming that "compentently [sic] [outlining] the basis of a fringe theory and why it exists, all while being careful in wording that it is not an accepted theory" would instantly breach NPOV or "[open] the floodgates" to pro-fringe nonsense seems like excessively hasty logic. A. C. Santacruz Talk 12:09, 10 November 2021 (UTC)

If you read up-thread you will see (search for "faithwell-intentioned"). For NPOV all we need to do is follow policy and that is absolutely not the same as your formulation "if there are reliable sources in support of a view it is our duty to include them". E.g. Professor Cockwomble can publish reams of stuff on why his particular perpetual motion works, get it published in journals or on websites and it will all be "reliable" for what he says. But "it's reliable!" (the mating call of the POV-pusher) is never sufficient grounds for inclusion of something. We would need some sane source pointing out why this stuff was nonsense. The fringeiness of something is grounds for excluding it (which would confer undue legitimacy) unless it can be contextualized by the mainstream. That is what policy says and - to repeat - it is not negotiable. There seems to be a lack of appreciation from some Wikipedia editors that a sizeable minority of what is published, even in notionally respectable venues, is not "knowledge" but anti-knowledge. Alexbrn (talk) 12:49, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
Please link the diff Alexbrn as I can't seem to find it after searching "faith". What do you mean by "notionally respectable"? A. C. Santacruz Talk 13:11, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
An Elsevier journal might be notionally respectable, but be stuffed full of pseudoscience (to take one random example). Alexbrn (talk) 13:19, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
@Masem: While I agree that It is completely possible to discussion fringe theories using high-quality sources without actually legitimizing those theories, what we're discussing is whether a book by an author associated with fringe ideas like eugenics and scientific racism should be considered a high-quality source based on being published by a mainstream publisher. Let's try and stay on this topic in this sub-section. Bakkster Man (talk) 15:10, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
And to me, that's part of the issue that's reflected in the discussion above. There is a question of expertise, but in terms of reliability aspects, that starts with the publisher, and if they are generally known to have editorial control on their process, even if the published book is about fringe theory content, we should assume that source is reliable. Now whether the author is sufficiently an expert to us that work is another story. But what I'm reading here, and see myself, is that the immediate association with the fringe topic is what is causing editors to say the source is unreliable or unusable. But it's long standing that bias is not the same as reliability, and the same picture applies here. There's a specific set of metrics we do use to judge reliability, another set for expertise or authority, and then atop that is NPOV/UNDUE/FRINGE. So there's multiple gates to pass before such a source can even be used, but it should not be dismissing reliability that would normally be granted for all other reasons just because it is associated with a fringe topic. This is the type of battleground attitude that these fringe discussions are raising and addressed throughout this thread. --Masem (t) 15:52, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
Couldn't agree more with what Masem has written above about sources and also the characterization of battleground attitude. A. C. Santacruz Talk 16:03, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
The assumption that publisher provenance lends reliability is naïve in the extreme, especially at a time when the thought is gaining traction that it is wise to assume medical research is fraudulent by default. Wikipedia too takes a skeptical views to assertions, particularly in the sci-med space, by required high quality secondary sources which review publications, rather than thinking "it's from Thieme Medical publishing so it must be right!". That fringeiness of an idea is inextricably bound up with Wikipedia's need to be neutral, which is why WP:PSCI, WP:GEVAL, WP:EXCEPTIONAL and WP:FRINGE exist. Alexbrn (talk) 16:12, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
Wait I'm sorry Alexbrn, are you saying we should assume peer-reviewed journals published by reputable publishers are fraudulent by default? A. C. Santacruz Talk 16:27, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
It's not our job to evaluate primary literature, so the question is moot. In the sci-med space primary literature is usually unreliable for assertions of fact on Wikipedia, and that has been true for a long time. We can observe that reputable reviewing bodies are increasingly taking a more robust approach to fraud, however. Alexbrn (talk) 16:31, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
WP:NOTJOURNAL seems relevant here: WP is not for the type of original research that is done in journals. As an encyclopedia, WP is tertiary source. —PaleoNeonate – 10:43, 16 November 2021 (UTC)
I mostly agree with that more expanded explanation, and it's why I think a broad RFC isn't the solution to this particular concern. I think my only disagreement is that WP:PAGs refer to these sources being 'generally reliable', implying they're not 'absolutely reliable'. So while a strong case would need to be made to not consider such an otherwise "generally reliable" source to be unreliable, that's the kind of case-by-case decision we should be having instead of trying to make a blanket policy change. That and a question of whether it's WP:BATTLEGROUND behavior, or WP:PACT protecting against WP:NOTHERE (which is obviously the root of the PRO/ANTI-FRINGE discussion here). Bakkster Man (talk) 16:19, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
Where in the PAGs are you seeing this "generally reliable" wording? Alexbrn (talk) 16:21, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
In WP:RS. Not the direct quote (should have used single quotes on both uses), but 12 uses regarding the concept. generally preferred, generally discouraged, generally considered, etc. Bakkster Man (talk) 16:45, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
Nobel syndrome provides a very entertaining read as to why generalizing that an author is associated with fringe views makes them blanket-unreliable is perhaps wrong. A. C. Santacruz Talk 16:01, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
  • A LOT depends on which article we are talking about. In an article ABOUT a fringe theory, we should outline what the theory entails (what is said by the major proponents of the theory), and the most reliable sources for verifying THAT are the primary (fringe) sources themselves. We don't have to say that the theory is true... but we do have to say what it IS. Blueboar (talk) 15:23, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
    • 100% wrong. See WP:GEVAL as quoted above. We don't provide loving descriptions of such nonsenses as why perpetual motion machines work, why coffee enemas cure cancer, or why black people are stupider than white people except insofar as they are covered and contextualized by non-fringe sources. Wikipedia is meant to be a summary of "accepted knowledge", not an hodpodge of human idiocy. Alexbrn (talk) 15:29, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
Using a fringe source as a citation does not mean we provide loving descriptions of such nonsenses (EDIT: at least, not necessarily, the two aren't equivalent). When appropriate to include and describe these ideas in their proper context with respect to established scholarship and the beliefs of the wider world, we should use the best sources possible. If anything, I think the key to bear in mind is WP:PARITY, the sources we use to describe the established mainstream view need to be at least as strong as the fringe source. In other words, we need something stronger than a blog to dispute a book of fringe ideas from a generally reliable publisher. Bakkster Man (talk) 15:45, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
I was responding to the idea that we should "we should outline what the theory entails" using the fringe primary sources for it. WP:PARITY (badly chosen shortcut name) means sometimes using alternative venues from those that are typically considered reliable sources for scientific topics on Wikipedia. Andrew Weil publishes all kind of woo with Wiley, and in such a context QuackWatch (say) is a more reliable authority on homeopathic treatment efficacy than Weil's books. Alexbrn (talk) 16:03, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
Yes, it is a more reliable authority on homeopathic treatment efficacy, but it is not a more reliable source for what Andrew Weil believes. Phil Bridger (talk) 18:06, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
To that end, if we have several RSes that criticize a person for their proponent position behind a homeopathy method but never actually discuss the method (perhaps they believe its just outright nonsense and could likely be the case), we should be be in the position of trying to document and not participate in controversies, and to that case, we should be able to use an RS source by the person themselves that lays out the method to briefly explain it without giving it any weight of validation and using clear, out-of-Wikivoice attributed language, as to keep neutral but avoid false equality. The stance that is seemingly being presented in this discussion is that because the source is "tainted" by being pro-fringe, regardless of all other factors involved, there's no way it can be used, which is not what policy states. NPOV and V are policies but all based on consensus and are not black and white rules, and so there is room for this type of use of sources, if both the sources and their careful use avoid the cautions outlined in policies and there is consensus to include; the overall point of this thread is the battleground attitudes to derail any attempt to start such a good-faith consensus discussion. --Masem (t) 19:35, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
The principles of NPOV cannot be overridden by editorial consensus. Alexbrn (talk) 19:43, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
The principles cannot be overridden by consensus, but how NPOV is executed and put into practice is all about how consensus determines those principles apply. That does mean that we're not going to let a fringe theory that exists only via Reddit posts to gain any traction on WP for obvious reasons. But it does mean that when we have a fringe theory that is frequently criticized in more common sources but also has a potential body of work that is supporting of it, there's a reason to at least discuss how to consider an approach to the topic, rather than standing on claims of NPOV being absolute (that doesn't mean we're bound to include it). The only policies with "absolute" aspects are those related to legal issues, like BLP, NFC, and COPYVIO. The lack of willingness to discussion is the issue. --Masem (t) 20:01, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
Note that QuackWatch, per discussions at WP:RSN here that articles written on QuackWatch by Stephen Barret are considered WP:SPS and should probably not be used as RS "Never use self-published sources as third-party sources about living people, even if the author is an expert, well-known professional researcher, or writer." on BLPs. If QuackWatch covers a BLP's views I would assume an independent third-party RS would cover it as well, in any case, so I don't see the need to use a blog. A. C. Santacruz Talk 19:36, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
  • Alexbrn please stop using loaded language (I cannot find a better term) like "nonsense" or "idiocy". It just makes your arguments harder to follow as the emotional connotations of these words override the logic in your statements. A. C. Santacruz Talk 19:09, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
In an article ABOUT a fringe theory, we should outline what the theory entails (what is said by the major proponents of the theory), and the most reliable sources for verifying THAT are the primary (fringe) sources themselves. No, they aren't. Proponents of fringe views lie. All the time. "We don't oppose all vaccines, just the ones we think are unsafe" (which ends up being any and every vaccine that comes up, how strange). "Our concerns about the theory of evolution are wholly scientific, not religious" (pay no attention to the cdesign proponentsists behind the curtain!). "My objections to general relativity have nothing to do with Einstein being Jewish". And so forth. Statements from within a fringe bubble cannot be taken by default to be made in good faith. XOR'easter (talk) 19:51, 11 November 2021 (UTC)
Promoting those views is their business, so that's why we instead look for independent reliable sources that discuss those topics instead, that's how we can write about a topic without simply echoing fringe arguments, while also avoiding false balance. —PaleoNeonate – 10:50, 16 November 2021 (UTC)
XOR&#39easter, they lie about their own views that they are trying to promote?? So what you are saying is...let's say Mister Snake oil Salesman says his snake oil will relieve sore muscles. Quackwatch says that he is pushing snake oil as a cure for cancer. According to you, that when he says it gives relief to sore muscles, he's lying, because he's actually pushing it as a cancer cure, even though he doesn't say so? Is that what your argument is? (Mark, the preceding is an ''argument ad absurdum''). 2600:1702:4960:1DE0:56:E639:97D:1433 (talk) 00:18, 17 November 2021 (UTC)
What's absurd is that example because RS, by its nature, is not badly factually "wrong" in such ways. What's more the question is, who are you going to believe about what goes on in the Church of Scientology, the Church itself, or recognized independent researchers of scientology? Alexbrn (talk) 02:45, 17 November 2021 (UTC)
Non-sensical argument is non-sensical, considering the left is known for parroting the fringe narrative of the establishment by calling all other opinions fringe. COVID is deadly. Oh, now it isn't as deadly. Oh masks worked, but now they don't. Vaccines provided full protection against a specific virus, but now they only help with symptoms. 2601:644:8D81:8690:38D0:D2FF:FE8F:91B1 (talk) 10:54, 21 November 2021 (UTC)
This seems like appropriate guidance on this: Wikipedia:Lunatic charlatans. Also WP:PSCI. Rp2006 (talk) 01:36, 14 November 2021 (UTC)
  • I do not see why we would need an RfC to resolve a non-issue. Even sources that are "generally reliable" are just that, generally reliable — not universally or unquestionably so. Quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus. XOR'easter (talk) 20:01, 11 November 2021 (UTC)
Oh? Is that why CNN and MSNPC are always accepted as RS, but OANN and The First are always considered fringe. The fact that lefties are trying to push their own fringe views, as well as push out all other opinions under the guise of "fringe" is beyond transparent. This reason is why Wikipedia is a laughing stock of the internet. 2601:644:8D81:8690:38D0:D2FF:FE8F:91B1 (talk) 10:58, 21 November 2021 (UTC)

Related RSN discussionEdit

It may be relevant to note here that there is currently a thread at Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Noticeboard#Center_for_Inquiry_sources_on_CFI-related_articles, which may be related to some of the issues discussed here. A. C. Santacruz Talk 21:51, 10 November 2021 (UTC)

References in languages other than EnglishEdit

When references are in languages other than English are they supposed to be delineated as such somewhere within the cite web/cite book/etc? I tried to find the answer somewhere around here but couldn't find it. Thanks, Shearonink (talk) 16:14, 3 November 2021 (UTC)

The standard citation templates should have a |language= parameter you can use to denote the native language the article is in. --Masem (t) 16:16, 3 November 2021 (UTC)
Thanks, but where is the guideline or policy page/section/paragraph that speaks to that? I always thought that if references were in a language other than English the editor was supposed to put Dutch or French or whatever in the cite but I can't find the policy/guideline that says so. Shearonink (talk) 16:24, 3 November 2021 (UTC)
I do not actually see a place in policy where this is required, but I think its established unwritten practice to always provide it. The citation templates instruct this but those aren't policy. --Masem (t) 16:39, 3 November 2021 (UTC)
  • Good practice… but not policy. (Not everything that is good practice needs to be mandated). Blueboar (talk) 16:49, 3 November 2021 (UTC)
The reason I am asking is that I am dealing with an editor whose references are almost exclusively in languages other than English (Dutch, German, maybe even Italian plus a sprinkling of others) so I wanted to explain it to them why telling readers that the reference is in another language other than English (since this is the en.wikipedia) is a good idea. I like the concept of "good practice"/commonly-accepted norm and there is that parameter... Thanks, Shearonink (talk) 16:55, 3 November 2021 (UTC)
But please don't make a big deal of this. Most of the time it is better that editors should follow the usual wiki practise of fix things themselves rather than demanding that someone else should do it. It is much better to have a reference that isn't formatted completely to your liking than no reference at all. Phil Bridger (talk) 18:15, 3 November 2021 (UTC)
Not making a Big Deal at all, not Demanding at all ok? I am always thinking of making it easy for readers to verify information for themselves, so, they should know that a citation is in a language other than English (Dutch/French/German/etc) Moving forward this enthusiastic editor that I seem to now be mentoring should at least know about the language parameter so they can utilize it. For WP:V purposes. Shearonink (talk) 18:43, 3 November 2021 (UTC)
@Shearonink, the problem with this is that the actual rule is: make up a citation formatting style, and use it consistently throughout that article. If editors choose to use a citation formatting style that omits language information, then, um, well... they're following the rules.
What you can do is point out the existence of this parameter (assuming the article is using WP:CS1 citation templates) and ask whether they'd like (you) to add that for all the citations. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:05, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
Good practice would also be to use the |trans-quote= parameter to provide a translation of the relevant sentence, especially if a fact is contentious. --Ahecht (TALK
PAGE
) 15:53, 11 November 2021 (UTC)

query on accounts noted as former adminEdit

I notice that the report of a contributions analysis tool producing the result: "Is administrator? ✗ (former admin)". Is that standard practice at our sister sites, or here? ~ cygnis insignis 11:51, 4 November 2021 (UTC)

@Cygnis insignis: I'm not sure what proposed policies or guidelines, or changes to such, you are trying discuss? Those tools sound like off-wiki things that wouldn't really be subject to these, the presentation of such is up to the tool maintainer. "Former admin" status is generally publicly available via the rights logs (though it may be difficult to programmatically query for older accounts that had their rights managed with legacy processes). — xaosflux Talk 14:31, 4 November 2021 (UTC)
@Xaosflux: Pardon the misplaced post, it was just the query and nothing else. ~ cygnis insignis 14:38, 4 November 2021 (UTC)
"standard practice" in the sense that you were surprised it was specifically noted? Enterprisey (talk!) 10:12, 6 November 2021 (UTC)
No, I think he refers to the fact whether similar admin tools exist on other sister sites, such as French or German Wikipedias, am I correct @Cygnis insignis:?--Filmomusico (talk) 05:47, 13 November 2021 (UTC)
@Enterprisey: It was a question that arose when I saw that reported on my contributions, 'previously unaware' rather than 'surprised', I haven't formed an opinion on whether that is a good thing. I would be interested in reading a discussion that resulted in this being standard practice for any and all sister sites, if there was one, or knowing why the decision to include former rights in public logs was made. ~ cygnis insignis 08:46, 13 November 2021 (UTC)
Please link where you see "former admin". I assume Special:Log/rights is public because MediaWiki in general is about transparency and there is no apparent reason to hide former rights. PrimeHunter (talk) 09:07, 13 November 2021 (UTC)
They are talking about xtools I believe. Best Wishes, Lee Vilenski (talkcontribs) 00:09, 14 November 2021 (UTC)
Thanks. https://xtools.wmflabs.org/ec/en.wikipedia.org/Cygnis_insignis doesn't say former admin but https://xtools.wmflabs.org/ec/en.wikisource.org/Cygnis_insignis does, so they both omitted the tool and site. The bottom of wikisource:Special:Contributions/Cygnis insignis displays wikisource:MediaWiki:Sp-contributions-footer which is blank by default. The editors of English Wikisource, English Wikipedia and many other wikis have added a link to https://xtools.wmflabs.org/ec which is not part of MediaWiki but can display statistics for Wikimedia wikis. I guess the tool authors chose on their own to include "former admin", and that editors adding links to the tool don't know or don't care. The information can be found in public logs like wikisource:Special:UserRights/Cygnis insignis so the tool doesn't reveal something hidden. PrimeHunter (talk) 08:34, 14 November 2021 (UTC)

WP:PROXYING (banning policy): Clarification neededEdit

A recent AN discussion led to the following conclusion:

[T]here is a wide disagreement as to how WP:PROXYING should be interpreted in the context of reviewing, posting and taking responsibility for content from a banned user.

The current wording of the policy section is as follows:

Editors in turn are not permitted to post or edit material at the direction of a banned or blocked editor (sometimes called proxy editing or proxying) unless they are able to show that the changes are either verifiable or productive and they have independent reasons for making such edits. Editors who reinstate edits made by a banned or blocked editor take complete responsibility for the content.

New accounts which engage in the same behavior as a banned editor or blocked account in the same context, and who appear to be editing Wikipedia solely for that purpose, are subject to the remedies applied to the editor whose behavior they are imitating.[1] See also the policy on sockpuppetry and meatpuppetry.

The two highlighted parts are currently ambiguous.

  • The wording "at the direction of" led to arguments: Does it require an explicit request from the banned user? Does it perhaps even require (mis)use of an authority to direct, e.g. from employer to employee?
  • The wording "independent reasons" led to arguments: Does "interest in improving (or maintaining) the encyclopedia" satisfy the criterion? Does it require re-writing instead of copying large amounts of text?

In a nutshell: What do we want to forbid, what do we want to allow? How can we describe this more clearly? ~ ToBeFree (talk) 19:22, 8 November 2021 (UTC)

References

  • If the community has banned someone,"taking over" the banned user's behavior is an insult to the community. Enabling a banned user's behavior by copying their proposed contributions to Wikipedia circumvents our appeal processes. It encourages problematic behavior instead of enforcing a clear, red line in the way the ban was intended for. Proxying allows toxic or persistently problematic individuals to participate in a community they are no longer welcome in, and to potentially cause distress to the members we intended to protect using the ban. Replace "at the direction of" by "on behalf of", and remove the entire "unless" condition. Only the usual exceptions to bans in general (WP:BANEX) apply. ~ ToBeFree (talk) 19:56, 8 November 2021 (UTC)
    • I think the first few sentences are sound, but there have to be exceptions. Sometimes a banned editor has removed a BLP violation. If an editor blindly reverts a bunch of proxy edits, or perhaps just reverts on principle, and someone else comes along and sees that said revert reinstated a BLP violation, they should be free to restore to a version without that violation, even if a banned editor authored it. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 21:09, 8 November 2021 (UTC)
  • I've always taken "at the direction of" to mean something more akin to sockpuppetting, but with another person's account. It's fairly common for editors to reinstate the work of banned users and take responsibility for the inclusion. That's how PROXY even currently discusses such edits, "Editors who reinstate edits made by a banned or blocked editor take complete responsibility for the content.", as you note above. I've found the need of some editors to remove every single contribution a banned editor has ever made to Wikipedia actually damaging to the encyclopedia as a whole, especially if the reason for being banned has nothing to do with making bad article content. Since our purpose here is to build an encyclopedia, not to hold grudges against other editors and to try and remove their every contribution. I think improving Wikipedia comes first and if your action is going to go against that, then your action is wrong. Hence why we only permanently ban people once they have proven that their ongoing involvement in the future is going to be more detrimental than beneficial to the task of improving Wikipedia. SilverserenC 20:04, 8 November 2021 (UTC)
  • In case anyone else is interested in how WP:PROXYING evolved... here's what I can piece together from archives + page history: This is an old pre-2006 wording that was a fair bit clearer (Because we discourage people from using Wikipedia to interact with banned users, it is likewise inappropriate to post comments and discussion on behalf of banned users. Such activity is sometimes called "proxying". As people respond to such material, this will inevitably draw in the banned user, and again may tempt them to subvert their ban. Our aim is to make it as easy as possible for banned users to leave Wikipedia with their dignity intact, whether permanently, or for the duration of their ban. Offering to proxy is likewise inappropriate.). It was boldly changed by UninvitedCompany as part of a broader rewrite of the page here, but the substantive meaning seems to have remained unaltered: Wikipedians are not permitted to post or edit material at the direction of a banned user, an activity sometimes called "proxying." ...
    This diff is what changed the "on behalf of" prose to "at the direction of". The text has remained more or less the same to date. It's proposed here that this wording change be reversed, but it doesn't seem UC's change in wording actually meant to cause a change in meaning, nor can I find any consensus to scrap this principle. Honestly, I'm doubtful those making the claim in the AN discussion truly believed there was a distinction either. What we saw is not really a new concept; established editors end up at AN and various methods (including, as seen here, casting doubt upon the formulation of policy prose) are used to suggest there was never any mistake made. I'm not sure there's really a policy dispute here. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 21:09, 8 November 2021 (UTC)
    • I don't agree with your interpretation of history. There was a brief discussion in 2020 on what "at the direction of" should mean and the general consensus of the two commenting administrators was that PROXYING does not prevent good faith improvements to Wikipedia. No Wikipedia policy, guideline, essay, or best practice prohibits good faith improvements to Wikipedia by persons in good standing. There was a longer discussion in 2018 on what proxying meant, and the general consensus was to leave it to a case-by-case decision given the need to weigh benefit to the encyclopedia against deterrence; that's not even my summation of consensus, it was articulated on the talk page again 5 months later. There was further discussion in 2014 where the consensus (among editors who are not currently indefinitely blocked) was again that this is a nuanced situation that goes beyond a simple yes-or-no, bright-line rule. Whatever teh revision history, it is objectively false that editors invented this interpretation de novo at AN. This interpration of policy has been discussed and reaffirmed over multiple years. Wug·a·po·des 21:53, 8 November 2021 (UTC)
      I was discussing specifically the "at the direction of" part in my response. This interpration of policy has been discussed and reaffirmed over multiple years. As far as I can see, neither of the two discussions you link any editor disagreeing with the conventional idea of 'directed', as was done in the AN discussion (see the sub-thread where I asked an editor to expand on their definition). I am under the impression that was invented de novo at AN. In the discussions you link, I can see a consensus that enforcement should be handled on a case-by-case basis by admins, which is a sound principle and true of any policy, but I wasn't making a point against that. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 22:22, 8 November 2021 (UTC)
      I linked four discussions and one of them had the section title ""at the direction of a banned or blocked editor"". Wug·a·po·des 00:03, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
  • Our goal is to build an encyclopedia, not roleplay schoolyard cops. There's no policy saying that you must swear fealty to the community, and the reasons for a ban are so myriad that in many cases making edits for a banned user may not be enabling them at all. As a concrete example, I supported a CBAN for LouisAlain because of his behavior and recurring civility concerns; unless the "proxying" going on is another editor posting rants and insults on enWiki for him, then there's no "enabling" going on in my view. This is why I find the routine PROXYING debate so tiring: those who want a strict interpretation claim to speak for the community when justifying their concerns despite the opinions and motivations of each community member being diverse and sometimes contradictory (see Condorcet paradox). Not everyone wants a bright red line in all cases, and in many ban discussions there are people who oppose or support lesser sanctions. These community members and their views do not suddenly become worthless or unimportant just because they are in the minority, and uncritically declaring that all bans are a bright red line is an insult to the community who discussed nuanced options and rationales that informed the contours of a specific ban. In my experience the bulk of disruption caused by "proxying" for banned editors is caused by mass reverts and sprawling drama-board discussions which waste our time on sophistry about crime and punishment. We have policies for dealing with disruptive editing, and if an editor is making problematic edits I don't care where the inspiration to make them comes from. If an edit does not improve the encyclopedia, revert it. If an editor routinely makes edits that harm the encyclopedia, impose sanctions necessary to stop the disruption. That is the core underlying WP:IAR and all our other policies. Wug·a·po·des 21:41, 8 November 2021 (UTC)
    The issue isn't just crime and punishment philosophy. Often it takes more than one error to be sanctioned. See Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard#User_with_348k+_edits_blocked_for_copyvio where the editor had 13 copyvio warnings before the indef. If we let some comparably established editor proxy for them and take on their edits, presumably said editor gets another 13 copyvio warnings before a block, rinse and repeat for another proxy? Same with Louis; he wasn't sanctioned for one error. If an editor proxied for LA, how many errors would it take until they earned the same sanctions?
    Re enabling the banned editor: I've usually seen proxying accompanied with socking (this is the first time I've seen a sandbox on another project be used for this purpose). Giving an editor a reason to stick around and sock is enabling them IMO. FWIW I've opined against hard-line G5 deletion before, and probably restored a sock edit before (with reason), so it's not like I believe in draconian no-exceptions BMB/G5/etc enforcement, but one-off case-by-case judgements are rather different to an editor providing a permanent editing platform to a banned user (via email, sandbox on another project, or otherwise). It seems too much like WP:GAMING to me. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 22:09, 8 November 2021 (UTC)
    The issue isn't just crime and punishment philosophy. Rhetorically, you seem to be making a point about crime and punishment philosophy. By harping on the number of mistakes it takes to sanction someone, I assume you think the number is too high and that we ought to be lower. "how many errors would it take until they earned the same sanctions?" is obviously impossible to answer, so I interpret it as a rhetorical question meant to suggest that you think the number should be lower than the example of 13 that you gave. Whatever number you think it should be, your belief about what is and is not a proper threshold for sanctions is quite obviously crime and punishment philosophy. Our policies at WP:PREVENTATIVE and WP:NOTPUNITIVE have taken sides on that question, and while we may wish it otherwise, the predominant philosophy is to discuss first and only impose sanctions as a last resort.
    So to your actual point about compounding issues, you don't actually give any related examples. While the 13 copyvio warnings incident is extreme, do you seriously believe that if a similar deWiki-sandbox situation occured that an editor introducing copyvio material they suggested would get 13 warnings? At AN people were calling for blocks after the first incident invovling Gerda, and the supposed content issues were related to notability and reliability of citations which we give warnings for like they're candy. given how contentious a topic this is, the idea that no one would do anything until 13 warnings were given seems unlikely and unsupported by precedent. An AN discussion in 2018 documents how an editor had talk page access revoked without warning for using it to make edit requests during a block even while administrators were acting on those edit requests. It didn't take 13 warnings and tons of mistakes, it took no warnings and no apparent mistakes. A few months ago I successfully lobbied for an administrator to be topic banned for a single COI concern; it didn't take multiple incidents. We can trade successes and failures back and forth all day, but I don't see any reason to believe editors who take responsibility for edits suggested by a blocked editor will face anything except additional scrutiny.
    Giving an editor a reason to stick around and sock is enabling them IMO. If an editor is socking, then they aren't making edit requests. Why would someone go through the trouble of making edit requests when they could just make edits directly? That makes no sense; if anything responding to edit requests reduces the potential for socking not enable it. this is the first time I've seen a sandbox on another project be used for this purpose...one-off case-by-case judgements are rather different to an editor providing a permanent editing platform to a banned user Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you, but this seems to be a contradiction. You point out that the inciting incident is the only time you've seen a case like this, but then try to generalize it in order to justify not subjecting it to the typical case-by-case review. That simply doesn't work. How are we to figure out when a situation meets your proposed standard? Presumably a case-by-case judgment. What does it mean to "provid[e] a permanent editing platform to a banned user"? Unless we're taking a wide interpretation of "providing", the German Wikipedia was already there; Gerda didn't create it. Even if we widen it to encompass soliciting edit requests, we quickly run into the same problem as UPE: how would we ever know? What if edit requests came by a means other than a WMF wiki? Your proposed standard is largely unenforceable. Absent the most bone-headed of banned editors, we would never know that an editor is responding to edit requests. We'd still wind up relying on our usual disruptive editing and sock/meatpuppet policies anyway. The only difference is that we would have less transparency. Ironically that lack of transparency means that the situation you envision---where a proxying editor compounds the problem by getting a ton of warnings before getting blocked---becomes more likely because of the reduced ability to scrutinize.
    The reason I complain about having these abstract conversations about crime and punishment is that it is a complex topic that evades simple solutions and bright line rules. Designing a policy that creates particular behavioral incentives in order to achieve a particular outcome is hard and only gets harder when there are mutually incompatible beliefs in what the ultimate goals are. Reactionary solutions are short sighted and in the long-term ultimately liable to counterproductive results because their reliance on amorphous sentiment undermines long-term strategic planning. It is easier by far to focus on responding to concrete behaviors rather than evaluating abstract motivations and incentives. In our case we already have a well-developed system for responding to disruptive editing that we will have to fall back on anyway except in the most blatant of situations. Rather than wasting time developing a system that will be useless in most cases (and likely make itself useless by incentivizing communication systems that we cannot monitor) we should avoid the question entirely and rely on what we already have: an editor is responsible for their edits and will be sanctioned for disruption regardless of the inspiration for their editing behavior. Wug·a·po·des 23:57, 8 November 2021 (UTC)
    Your discussion about "abstract phlosophy" here and at AN is hard to follow. What we recently saw on display at AN was discussion about: known edits and facts, application of policy, and emotions about a User. Whatever is meant by "abstract philosphy", it can't remotely encompass that. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:21, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
  • Pretty much agree with Wugapodes above. The current formulation of the policy is exactly right, as it allows editors in good standing to use copyleft material from anywhere on the internet to better the project at their own discretion and under their own judgment, and of course taking full responsibility for said content, while preventing efforts by banned users to simply direct others to make edits on their behalf. Of course, it's a nuanced situation and you have to critically evaluate what the material is, but it's really quite sad that editors above would choose to chop off their noses to spite their faces, by banning something which can improve the encyclopedia and our readers' experience.  — Amakuru (talk) 22:15, 8 November 2021 (UTC)
  • This is an insoluble problem. Content is good but our only defense is WP:DENY. It takes dedication to get banned—only driven people repeat problems sufficiently often to get a ban and of course many of them strive to continue regardless. Encouraging them spits in the face of those who endured the problems. There is no deadline and it's better to follow DENY. Johnuniq (talk) 22:43, 8 November 2021 (UTC)
  • I really don't understand what "at the direction of" is supposed to mean if it's not considered synonymous with "on behalf of". What is an example of this? Many editors have been banned/blocked for proxying after introducing edits at the request of LTA users; what factors made those cases different from others that escaped sanction? JoelleJay (talk) 22:46, 8 November 2021 (UTC)
    Oh hi Silver Seren. Huh. Well, what would be a case of of somebody doing something "at the direction" of another where its not an "explicit request"? Something like "Sure would be nice if somebody added X material to Y article, wink wink"?
    As to "Not everyone wants a bright red line in all cases", well, meet Herostratus. "There's no policy saying that you must swear fealty to the community" -- well of course not. It's assumed. As to "I think improving Wikipedia comes first" well I mean you think wrong. In real life if you get banned from the bar you don't get to hang around outside and talk to people inside and get drinks passed to you. If you get fired you don't get to use the cafeteria anymore. See fruit of the poisonous tree. You know why they have that rule? Because if you don't the whole process gets corrupted, falls apart, and the concept that "if you do illegal things it won't benefit you" is thrown away. That is how the real world works. It has to. Banning is a key tool to keeping the Wikipedia reasonably orderly and asshole-free. That's super important. Let's not risk weakening it.
    "It's fairly common for editors to reinstate the work of banned users and take responsibility for the inclusion". Just... wow. If that is true and these people are getting away with it then common practice is way way too liberal. And you want to loosen it more????
    So on the merits of the question. Of course "at the direction" does not mean "on the orders of". That would be an idiosyncratic reading of the phrase indeed, and sounds like somebody is trying to just get around the rule. There's always people like that. Just ignore those people. So leave that part alone. (If we must add an Wikipedia:Asshole John rule, I suppose you could change ""at the direction" to ""at the direction or suggestion, whether overt or implied, and not requiring a relationship of formal authority" if that would help, which, maybe, altho it makes the rule harder to read and understand.
    If it was me I'd change "unless they are able to show that the changes are either verifiable or productive and they have independent reasons for making such edits" to "even if they are able to show..." Banned users should go away, period. They shouldn't be interacting with Wikipedia editors unless it's to discuss the weather. Editors should ignore them. How are these people even communiating with Wikipedia editors. Sockpuppets? Email? Facebook? Editors should ignore.
    I have seen this a lot of thinking over the years, and...
    I want to be super careful and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but, I mean we all have be stand and be honest, that is how we learn and grow, and the Wikipedia is not a respecter of persons, and it's important to get this right.
    So, let's consider two people, one is of the mind "I want the toy now so I'm going to take it" and the other is of the mind "I want the toy now, and if I don't take it, I don't get the toy now. But it will be more fun around here overall, for me and my playmates, and overall we'll have more toys"... It's OK to think the first way! It's fine! But over time we want to grow into the second.
    Well, similarly, you can have "I want this good content now and I'm going to get it regardless of other considerations" and you can have "I want this good content, and if I reject it, I don't get the good content. But it will be more fun and functional here and less plagued by assholes overall, and better for me and my colleagues. And eventually we'll have more editors staying around and we'll get more good content."
    You hate to use terms like advanced and less-advanced cognition (altho as an objective fact that is an actual thing). I keep in mind Howard Gartner's (true!) theory of multiple intelligences. It's OK not to have top-level thinking in everything. There are things that aren't in my intellectual wheelhouse and I stay away. This particular question may not be in everyone's wheelhouse. It's functional and growthful to consider one's limitations. Maybe "If you can't see the forest for the trees, maybe going into forestry in not your best path" would be a kinder way to put this if you prefer.
    I ignore rules a lot, but key rules you just can't. I'm not on board with some of our copyright rules, but I follow then strictly because they are considered real important... RS, BLP, NPOV, banned-means-banned... they have to be followed strictly even if you don't agree. Otherwise it all starts to go cattywampus.
    If people are interpreting "independent reasons" to mean "I feel like it, and uh yo it's uh improving the project, that's it, improving the project" then we need to change one word. TL;DR: Change "unless" to "even if", and no other change to the existing text probably. That solves the argument, and in favor of the Wikipedia. Just enforce rigorously. Rigorously.
    We've lost good editors who just can't get with the copyrights rule. You'd hate to see it over this stuff, but if it has to be it has to be, as the Wikipedia is not a respecter of persons. Herostratus (talk) 23:54, 8 November 2021 (UTC)

Break (WP:PROXYING)Edit

I'm going to throw this as-yet unwikified section rewrite out there because it's what I think makes sense, and on the off-chance enough people agree, it may be a simpler approach than a close reading of wikihistory and language:

When the community bans or blocks an editor, it has made a decision to exclude that user's views and contributions from the project. Sometimes another editor might want to use material written by the banned/blocked, edit on their behalf, or otherwise act as their proxy. Such actions should be taken with extreme caution.

An editor in good standing may make changes or include material suggested or prepared by a banned/blocked editor only if the editor in good standing carefully evaluates the content and takes full responsibility for any and all violations of policies and guidelines. Users who knowingly proxy for a banned/blocked editor are likely to be sanctioned themselves if the proxied content violates Wikipedia's policies and guidelines. Take extra care when using material written by a user who was blocked or banned for systematic content issues, such as copyright violations, original research, or failing to edit from a neutral point of view. As with any use of other people's writing, attribution is required.

In any case, the community may come to a consensus to prohibit proxying by a particular user or proxying for a particular user. Proxying for users who have been globally banned by the Wikimedia Foundation is never allowed.

New accounts which engage in the same behavior as a banned editor or blocked account in the same context, and who appear to be editing Wikipedia solely for that purpose, are subject to the remedies applied to the editor whose behavior they are imitating.[12] See also the policy on sockpuppetry and meatpuppetry.

Basically, urging extreme caution, add that consensus/exceptions apply, adding an exception for global bans, and retaining the final paragraph. If this is a totally unhelpful non-starter, please say so and I'll hat it. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 00:05, 9 November 2021 (UTC)

I think this is a helpful suggestion and accurately describes the current practice. I think it would be an improvement over the current text. Wug·a·po·des 00:10, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
  • My thoughts:
    1. This is only a disputed issue for articles. For unblock requests, there are very established processes that should be used instead; and for commentary about the weather, Wikipedia policy discussions, etc. PROXYING for a banned user should very clearly not be allowed.
    2. There may be a copyright issue with one person presenting another person's work as their own.
    3. I don't see any issues with proxying for small changes to articles.
    User:力 (powera, π, ν) 00:16, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
Yeah, this suggestion would clarify things a lot more than the current text does. At the same time, if an editor in good standing is regularly just instating content on request from a banned editor, then there really isn't a ban anymore... Additionally, the scrutiny that would normally be applied to edits from the banned editor wouldn't exist, since we wouldn't know it was coming from them. And what do we do about the banned editor? By soliciting other editors to edit for them, they are trying to circumvent their ban, which is very clearly prohibited in our policy: The measure of a ban is that even if the editor were to make good edits, permitting them to edit in those areas is perceived to pose enough risk of disruption, issues, or harm, that they may not edit at all, even if the edits seem good. Such behavior should lead to stronger ban conditions, but if we explicitly condone proxying then how can we justify further sanctions or graduation to a global ban (or even the initial ban in the first place, which is specifically supposed to apply to good and bad edits...)? JoelleJay (talk) 01:55, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
then there really isn't a ban anymore this seems to assume that there are more than a tiny handful of cases when an editor in good standing would be willing to risk their reputation for a banned user. Context is really important. If someone is blocked because they just can't stop edit warring but their article work is good, proxying is a way to get the good without dealing with the bad. If someone is excellent at finding sources but loses their cool in content disputes, having someone who can add the source without getting into the dispute could be beneficial. But sure, there are lots of times when it wouldn't be desirable. The vast majority of the time, they just wouldn't find a proxy; for those who do, I think this language leaves room for the various exceptions/contexts. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 02:35, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
I like Rhododendrites' suggested wording. In my view, one thing that always needs to be considered (and this should possibly be mentioned explicitly somewhere) is why someone was banned, and proxying should never be permitted to act as a workaround for that. For example, if someone is blocked or banned because they cannot edit neutrally regarding, say, French people, then we should not be accepting content they write regarding French people, directly or indirectly. If the sanction was for being unable or unwilling to distinguish reliable and unreliable sources, then any user proxying for them should include an analysis somewhere (ideally on the talk page, given they should be posting there to provide the necessary attribution anyway) of every source in the material to show it's reliable. In all cases other than very obvious, unquestionable improvements (e.g. spelling and typo fixes, syntax correction, and similar) the proxying editor must be able to demonstrate that not only are they willing to take responsibility for the accuracy, etc. of the content they have actually taken steps to verify it's suitability for Wikipedia - yes this is going to be a lot of effort, but that's the point. If someone has been banned for content-related reasons then we cannot trust them to get things right without actively verifying it for ourselves. Thryduulf (talk) 03:43, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
What constitutes "good standing"? And if this change accurately represents current practice then we need to drastically alter or delete WP:BMB since that section is very clear about edits from banned users. You also haven't addressed whether proxy-soliciting constitute ban evasion, particularly in the cases of users who were banned for intractable issues in their contributions. If the banning community or admin thought such problems could be solved by, e.g., leaving content in draftspace until an "editor in good standing" could come by and review it, then that should have been spelled out in the sanction, not left for friends of the banned user to implement without discussion. JoelleJay (talk) 06:32, 9 November 2021 (UTC)

Update: Since I don't feel like this introduces major changes rather than clarifies what the consensus of the community/common practice is, and absent any objections that can't be addressed via tweaks, I've gone ahead and boldly updated WP:PROXYING with the above text. Feel free to update (or revert if you think this is a net negative). — Rhododendrites talk \\ 04:38, 9 November 2021 (UTC)

It was reverted for now, but the text would be agreeable to me, as it is clearly an improvement compared to today's unclear language, provides reasoning and words of caution and leaves open a path to restrict proxying further in specific cases. ~ ToBeFree (talk) 06:53, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
  • I don't think intentional copy-paste proxying should ever be allowed under any circumstances. As I said in the previous discussion, since banning is our ultimate remedy for people who repeatedly violate our policies, circumventing it effectively undermines all of our policies. WP:V, WP:RS, WP:BLP and the like are non-negotiable; if someone was banned for violating them, and they believe they can now follow them, then the appropriate thing to do is to convince enough people of that to get unbanned. A single editor taking responsibility for the edits being copy-pasted in is insufficient because, in practice, that allows any individual editor to overturn a ban (in theory the editor doing the copy-pasted could face sanctions, yes; but the previous discussion shows how obviously impossible that is, since they will otherwise be "in good standing" - unless they proxy for the same person repeatedly, all errors in their copy-pasted material will be one-offs and not part of a pattern, making sanctions nearly impossible.) --Aquillion (talk) 07:58, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
  • ...what? This entirely changes the meaning of WP:PROXYING, from "you can't proxy" to "you can proxy, if you're careful". If the justification for this about-face is that it's "common practice", you'll need to a) give some actual evidence of this and b) explain why written policy has said the opposite of "common practice" for well over a decade. Otherwise, this should be put to a proper RfC, not decided in a side-discussion of a side-discussion. – Joe (talk) 13:27, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
    @Joe Roe: it's not an about-face. Only a couple people seem to have interpreted the current wording of WP:PROXYING as "you can't proxy [full stop]" because that ignores that the great big "unless" that immediate follows in the very same sentence. As much as a couple people may be stating unequivocally what the language after "unless" absolutely means, those unequivocal definitions have varied considerably and in some contradictory ways. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 13:36, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
    The current text:
    Editors in turn are not permitted to post or edit material at the direction of a banned or blocked editor [...]
    Your proposed version:
    An editor in good standing may make changes or include material suggested or prepared by a banned/blocked editor [...]
    Come on, you can see as well as anyone that these two statements do not say the same thing, regardless of what qualifications and clarifications follow. I understand that you think your modification is more in line with the interpretations in that particular AN thread, but the whole reason we have written policies is so we're not relying on the whims of randomly selected, small groups of editors in individual discussions. – Joe (talk) 13:46, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
    Correct, if you remove those partial sentences from their actual context, then they disagree with each other. Is your objection the orientation/valence of "ok if" rather than "bad unless"? I think that's a fine change to the wording above, but the actual meaning (the range of what is/isn't allowed) would remain the same. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 14:06, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
    I also want to note that I would probably support a blanket prohibition on proxying for banned editors (outside of e.g. copying unblock requests and the like) if it were proposed. This is an effort to reduce ambiguity with the current wording, and minimize the only-ban-people-without-friends effect that ambiguous policy results in. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 14:22, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
    If you feel that there is "ambiguity" which your proposal "resolves", then you acknowledge that the people who say that copy-paste banning is strictly and unequivocally banned in all circumstances have one valid interpretation of the current text (ie. copy-pasted text will never, under any circumstances, satisfy the independent reasons for making such edits clause because if your precise wording comes from a banned user then you did not come up with it independently.) My reading is that that is the current, most common, interpretation of PROXYING and has been how it has largely been enforced for the past ten years; certainly the most recent discussions (huge swaths of experienced editors agreed that Gerda's actions were clearly against policy, while many people on the other side focused more on what a swell person Gerda was) don't support your assertion that only a couple people still hold to the longstanding meaning. Your proposal would absolutely gut the policy, without any sort of consensus; if you want to do that, hold an RFC (which, I guarantee you, has zero chance of success.) If you agree that copy-paste proxying should be banned but have somehow convinced yourself that the current wording is ambiguous, you ought to be making suggestions to resolve the "ambiguity" you see in a sensible way and not an absurdly self-defeating contortion of the original meaning like this suggestion. --Aquillion (talk) 11:46, 11 November 2021 (UTC)
    I don't know what copy-paste banning is. Banning copy-pasting? Copy-pasting material written by a banned user? have one valid interpretation - it feels like an extreme interpretation that attaches a complete, absolute, no-exceptions meaning to something that obviously isn't written that way. copy-pasted text will never, under any circumstances, satisfy the 'independent reasons for making such edits' - it doesn't say that. If that's what it means, it should say so. If someone says "you might want to add this citation" and you add that citation by copy/pasting it, you'd say that's not allowed per never, under any circumstances? come up with it independently has an altogether different meaning than what's actually there. (huge swaths of experienced editors agreed that Gerda's actions were clearly against policy, while many people on the other side focused more on what a swell person Gerda was) - We're reading different threads, it seems. if you want to do that, hold an RFC - no intention to do so. I was trying to help. It's not my opinion of what it should be. As I said, if someone proposed a total ban on proxying, I'd almost certainly support it outside of unblock requests, etc. The change I made was reverted, and opinions seem to be pretty split as to whether it's an improvement, so yeah, it shouldn't be reinstated without an RfC, I agree. I'll defer to someone else to do that, though. I still say that if people can get both extremes of "it absolutely undeniably says [something it doesn't absolutely, undeniably say]", then it should be improved in some way. You don't agree with the way I did it, fine. So someone else can take a shot or we can just be ok with determining sanctions based on policy that says whatever anyone who speaks matter-of-factly enough says it does. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 21:00, 11 November 2021 (UTC)

Point missedEdit

  • The issue here was not the wording of proxy. Pretty much everyone agreed that the policy covered the situation they just disagreed on the interpretation - either the editor (Gerda) was proxying directly in violation of the policy, or they were performing allowed behaviour on behalf of a banned editor as covered by the policy and taking ownership of the content. The problem was that regardless of where on the scale the community stood, what got lost was that we had an editor who was copying and pasting content verbatim that continued the same editorial problems that got the banned editor (Alain) banned in the first place. And because the proxy editor was in good standing, no one wanted to sanction them. The reason for PROXY existing was lost in arguments over what part of it applied. The issue isnt the wording of proxy as is, its the lack of willingness to enforce its primary reason for existance: not to have the same problem re-occur that a banned editor caused. It doesnt need any rewording, what it needs is a one-line addition that reinforces the point of the policy - along the lines "proxy editors, if their editing is found to contain the same issues that caused the original editor to be banned, will recieve the same preventative sanction." This would both discourage the cut and paste proxying, as well as making it clearer that if you are going to make edits on behalf of someone else, you had better be damn sure they are not problematic. Only in death does duty end (talk) 09:51, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
  • Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that WP:PROXYING is not that ambiguous, but that it suited some editors to temporarily read it ambiguously, so that they didn't have to apply it to someone they liked. If this happened recently, some of those editors would feel compelled to spew yet more torrents of convoluted verbiage to avoid acknowledging that fact. That would make it a bad time to discuss making changes to a key policy that has been stable and applied almost completely without controversy for years. – Joe (talk) 13:58, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
    Agree entirely with the above. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 14:08, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
    It's a fine point. Policy talk related to ANI disputes is messy business, and often impossible for the reasons you're describing. Maybe someone will make a note, wait a while, and bring it up again in a couple months once we've all moved on. It's possible. But it's IMO more likely the next time there will be any interest in discussing it will be the next time it's controversial. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 14:17, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
  • (edit conflict) I guess I won't complain about highlighting one's own point with a new subsection when I've made my own blatantly WP:NOTARBITRARY break above. As this isn't an extension of the ANI thread but focusing on part of it, I'll disagree that the point has been missed. Just adding this sentence doesn't change the fact that we have wildly differing interpretations of everything after the "unless" in the current wording. We have some editors who are drawing a bright line to say no proxying is allowed, and others arguing it's more or less allowed for any reason as long as the unblocked editor takes responsibility. Saying "and that means you'll get sanctioned if there are problems" is fine (it's in the version I suggested, more or less), but the rest of the lack of clarity remains. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 14:03, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
  • The recent case involving Gerda was not only proxying, but cross-Wiki proxying. My take on it is this, a CBAN is exactly that, a ban. That means that CBANned editor doesn't get to edit, and especially not by the back door or via a Trojan Horse of another editor using other language Wikipedias. Doing so, apart from that issue, raises issues of copyright, as material copied from one wiki to another, still needs to be properly attributed. That the material created was good is immaterial, I would remind everyone that there is WP:NORUSH to get the material on Wikipedia. If we go without it for a few month, years or decades, so what? Maybe the guideline needs to be expanded to explicitly forbid cross-wiki proxying. Mjroots (talk) 14:50, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
  • I agree with Only in death does duty end that the point is to spare the community from continuing to face the problems that led to the banning. I don't think anyone's argued for restricting all copying of edits from banned users. However if the reasons for banning are related to the edits, the copier needs to help resolve the issue. If the editor was banned for being argumentative, contentious, and unwilling to work towards consensus, the copier needs to show greater receptiveness to feedback. If the editor was banned for failing to provide adequate sources, the copier needs to find suitable sources for the copied edits. In short, editors should be trying to fix up the gaps that the banned user wasn't able to. isaacl (talk) 16:07, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
  • What has not changed since I wrote those words is that occasionally there is a pattern where a well-respected contributor disagrees with a decision to ban (or topic ban or otherwise limit participation by) some individual, and then the well-respected contributor makes edits on behalf of, at the direction of, inspired by, or in cooperation with the banned individual. This is an example of editing to prove a point. It is disrespectful of the community. It is frustrating to deal with because it weakens the already tenuous mechanisms in place for ban enforcement. For those reasons an unusually strong policy was thought to be appropriate in the early days. I believe a strong policy remains appropriate now. UninvitedCompany 20:40, 9 November 2021 (UTC)
  • I think OID is right in the sense that the dispute was more "should we allow, say, content on a user talk page to be placed into an article by an editor who takes ownership, or not", rather than a literal clear-cut point. This is an aspect where both sides can make both practical and moral arguments, strong ones. I am inclined to go with the improved wording, as on the conceptual front I'm on team "checked content is good, regardless of original source", BUT that is somewhat dependent on cause for ban/block, and ANI being able to prohibit where applicable sounds fine. Should that become a default, then clearly that would be a settling of the policy question. Nosebagbear (talk) 12:18, 10 November 2021 (UTC)
  • I think the case with Gerda makes it abundantly clear that a proposal to rely entirely on individual editors "taking responsibility" for copy-pasting edits is a nonstarter for two reasons. First, even highly-experienced editors can easily copy over the problems that led to the original sanction when copy-pasting - again, look at all the people in that discussion talking up how wonderful Gerda is! And second, it would be exceptionally difficult to call someone to account when they make a mistake when copy-pasting such text, because - as we saw in the previous discussion - they will otherwise be considered an editor in good faith; because we naturally want to give editors a chance to correct their course, and don't want to come down too hard on one-off errors, many problems that lead to someone getting banned only reach that point when there's a large pile of similarly problematic edits from the same user. It isn't reasonable. (And that's not even getting into the fact that, under the interpretation people are arguing from above, copy-paste proxying would also allow the edits that should be getting the most scrutiny to avoid any scrutiny at all, a clear violation of WP:MEAT and WP:BADSOCK.) --Aquillion (talk) 11:54, 11 November 2021 (UTC)
    • While the fact that it is being made by good, good-faith, editors does indeed mean it's unlikely we'd block someone who managed to replicate errors in a case like this, we'd move pretty quickly to informally telling them "stop dupping edits, you're not checking properly, you'll pick up a TBAN where one really isn't needed" to "here's a narrow TBAN". Nosebagbear (talk) 16:07, 11 November 2021 (UTC)
  • I don't have the answers for what is right or wrong, on this topic. This I do know. I haven't & never will fill out any edit requests from blocked or definitely banned editors. GoodDay (talk) 03:29, 12 November 2021 (UTC)
  • If we ban it, it'll be done by email instead of on-wiki. In consequence it will become harder to detect. It will not stop.—S Marshall T/C 09:35, 19 November 2021 (UTC)

CASE StudyEdit

Questions/issues arising from the discussion in the recent case:

1) Evidence: The evidence for proxying was largely the acts of the editor (holding open a sandbox for the banned user to edit and copying the banned user's edits into main Wikipedia), as well as the acts the banned user. Some seemed to want to argue, we can't rely nor even discuss those acts, we must hold the User only to confession and admission. That does not make sense (common or policy wise). (In the end it looked like the editor admitted that yes it was done to assist the banned editor, but that was already evident by the acts).
2) Don't talk about proxying: Some seemed to insist it was some kind terrible thing for the OP to open a discussion about proxying, and then that no one should discuss proxying in the discussion. That also made no sense.
3) You can only talk about bad edits: Some seemed to insist, although you can't talk about proxying, it's ok to talk about other policy problems with edits. But proxying policy seems clear that you talk about bad edits at the same time you talk about proxying, indeed all are part of a proxing inquiry.
4) Independent Reason/Dependent Reason: So, the banned user has a reason, which if the usual verities hold is likely to be "it improves Wikipedia" (it seems unlikely that the reason would be "it damages Wikipedia" and have it go anywhere). So, the proxy editor's reason is also, "it improves Wikipedia". That reasoning seems dependent, not independent. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:23, 9 November 2021 (UTC)

Notability Guideline for Future FilmsEdit

There is a Request for Comments at the film notability talk page to rewrite the guidelines on notability of future films. Robert McClenon (talk) 17:43, 18 November 2021 (UTC)

The particular section link can be found here. bibliomaniac15 19:25, 18 November 2021 (UTC)

Notability for denominations and diocesesEdit

Hello!
I have RfD an article recently, on the ground that it had no secondary RS talking about it. Two comments in this RfD have prompted me to create this thread:

I Would love to get rid of this article because this "archdiocese" is simply a monastery sitting on a small island on a lake in Northern Italy. However, if this synod is calling it a diocese, I think it qualifies as notable. Wikipedia has dozens of articles on archdioceses and dioceses. We have articles on Catholic dioceses for titular bishops that exist in name only. - User:Peterkingiron
Keep per long-established precedent of keeping diocese articles: see Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Island, Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Diocese of Foligno, and Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Kochi Orthodox Diocese. - User:StAnselm

I see no mention of a specific rule on how denominations and dioceses should be treated at Wikipedia:Notability or Wikipedia:Review tests.
Here are my thoughts. Most of what I will write comes from my experience dealing with Christian cases, but I have no doubt it may apply to any religion.
I feel Wikipedia should not accept articles on all denomination or diocese, or supposed denomination or diocese. If some organisation has a website which claims to be a diocese or denomination which exists, the organisation should not get a free pass to get a WP article; the best example of such a free pass is Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch. Moreover, how can we ensure the diocese or denomination exists, only using a website? How can we check if it is a hoax or not, if no secondary RS has written about the subject? And this is without going into how the article will only contain information coming from the website of the denomination or diocese (example), as other secondary sources on the subject are not reliable.
Moreover, I think any organisation legally registered does not deserve a Wikipedia article by the mere fact it is a religious organisation (examples of this case: Polish-Catholic Church in United Kingdom, Polish-Catholic Church of the Republic of Poland).
As for dioceses, I think the "Diocese" section most denominations have in their WP article (example) is the place where they should be put, unless there is 1) a sufficient coverage by secondary RSs on the diocese and 2) information on the diocese worth being mentioned on Wikipedia (i.e., not simply the list of its leaders and the temple(s) it administrates).
Back in 2009, Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Italo-Greek Orthodox Church decided to delete a whole denomination for the reasons it was not mentioned in any secondary source. I feel such decisions should be the general rule. One of the weak keep comments, by User:Peterkingiron, is According to the website, this is a denomination with about 20 parishes in USA and CAnada; we see the same problem already: good faith is assumed when it comes to website of any denomination.
Those were my thoughts on the subject, sorry if they are a bit in disarray. Feel free to tell me what you think! Veverve (talk) 07:27, 20 November 2021 (UTC)
P.S.: see also Russian Orthodox Church in America for another example of free pass. Veverve (talk) 06:10, 21 November 2021 (UTC)

  • Haven't looked at the links yet but as a first impression if the subject does not meet notability criteria it does not meet notability criteria. If these dioceses are not mentioned in independent, reliable sources then they are not notable enough to merit an article. A. C. Santacruz Talk 07:39, 20 November 2021 (UTC)
    @A. C. Santacruz is exactly right. @Veverve, all religious organizations should meet the standards set forth for all organizations at WP:ORG. That said, it is likely that most religious organizations with more than a few thousand adherents in the US will actually meet the standards, if you do enough research. For example, I have just added an independent source to Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:31, 22 November 2021 (UTC)
    @WhatamIdoing: I think the WP:ORG should be amended to clearly state organisations include religious groups and subdivisions (e.g. dioceses, eparchies) of religious groups. As for your addition, while I am thankful for your help, it appeared you mistook one group for another (which is normal as those micno-churches tend to split and use names similar to the church they split off from). Veverve (talk) 20:34, 22 November 2021 (UTC)
    I don't think that I did. Malabar rites aren't exactly a formal title; it's like saying Scottish Presbyterians or Roman Catholic Western rites. It is also extremely unlikely that two organizations with the same name would also happen to have the same unusual policies about affirming LGBTQIA people and happen to both be led by a woman at the time of publication. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:59, 22 November 2021 (UTC)
    Currently, WP:NCHURCH (which I just discovered now) only mentions "Individual religious organizations, (whether called congregations, synods, synagogues, temples, churches, etc.)", but not dioceses. Veverve (talk) 20:43, 22 November 2021 (UTC)
  • I would default to GNG… if there are independent reliable sources that discuss (in reasonable depth) the particular denomination or diocese (etc) in question, we can say it is notable enough for its own article. If not, it isn’t. Be aware that the standard is that the sources exist and CAN be cited, not that the sources ARE (currently) cited. Blueboar (talk) 21:00, 22 November 2021 (UTC)
  • The applicable guidelines are GNG, NORG, and V. As always, commonsense should be applied. For example, the Roman Catholic Church is the world's largest Christian denomination. Its dioceses are almost always going to be treated as presumptively notable, even if they are purely titular. In general, I would be inclined to accept official websites or other publications of the Holy See as reliable, though not independent, for the purpose of establishing the existence of a diocese. The same presumption of notability is usually extended to the dioceses of other major denominations. Small denominations and micro-churches are more problematic. In those situations, your point is well made that we need to tread carefully, if only to guard against hoaxes, scams and the like. To which end, I was unable to find any WP:RS sources that even mention the Russian Orthodox Church in America, and have Proded the article accordingly. -Ad Orientem (talk) 00:42, 23 November 2021 (UTC)
Remember that establishing the existence of a diocese is not enough to establish that it is notable - hence the need for independent sources that have actually “noted” it. Blueboar (talk) 13:41, 23 November 2021 (UTC)
I agree with Blueboar's remark: being mentioned in an official list of a notabble organisation does not make a diocese notable. Veverve (talk) 17:37, 23 November 2021 (UTC)
Perhaps that would be an interesting test for an AfD. I honestly can't remember any being deleted. But that doesn't mean it hasn't happened. -Ad Orientem (talk) 23:22, 23 November 2021 (UTC)
Perhaps… but do a solid search for potential sources WP:Before nominating. For something like denominations and diocese, it is highly likely that independent reliable sources have discussed them. It isn’t a guarantee, but it is a strong likelihood. Make sure. Blueboar (talk) 14:18, 24 November 2021 (UTC)

RfC on whether and how to cover J. K. Rowling's trans-related views in the lead at her articleEdit

  FYI
 – Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere.

Please see: Talk:J. K. Rowling#RFC on how to include her trans-related views (and backlash) in the lead

I am "advertising" this broadly at Village Pump because someone selectively notified three wikiprojects that are likely to vote-stack the RfC with a single socio-political viewpoint, and the article already has a long history of factional PoV editwarring.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:16, 28 November 2021 (UTC)

You think WikiProject Feminism and WikiProject Women Writers are likely to vote-stack the RfC with a single socio-political viewpoint? I don't suppose you know many feminists or women writers, then.
But by all means, we do need fresh eyes on the lead of an article that had seen so much whitewashing and FALSEBALANCE POV-based editing. Newimpartial (talk) 01:23, 28 November 2021 (UTC)
  • Is her viewpoints what defines her, what she is known for, what made her a billionaire, what build her career? Then it probably doesn't go in the lead. Dennis Brown - 01:25, 28 November 2021 (UTC)
    • That's irrelevant. The lede is a summary of the body. There is an entire section (and split out article) in the article on this subject, so it should have a sentence summary in the lede. SilverserenC 01:27, 28 November 2021 (UTC)
      • That is absolutely silly to say it is irrelevant. It does summarize the most important elements. Someone's political view on ONE subject is seldom important enough in the lede. Dennis Brown - 02:48, 28 November 2021 (UTC)
        • seldom - such as when it gives rise to the bulk of coverage for a public future over a period of time, perhaps? As in this case? Newimpartial (talk) 02:51, 28 November 2021 (UTC)
    • We are talking about what is, at present, two sentences out of a *long* four-paragraph lead section. The topics of Rowling's pseudonymous books, her net worth, and her philanthropy *each* currently take up more lede real estate than trans-related issues - though the latter have certainly been given more attention by RS in recent years. Newimpartial (talk) 02:06, 28 November 2021 (UTC)
  • This is more of an example of your own biases, it seems, SMcCandlish. Especially with your wording there. SilverserenC 01:27, 28 November 2021 (UTC)
    • You don't know anything about my viewpoint. The statistical fact is that en.WP is heavily editor-stacked by left-leaning Americans, who as a group have very little viewpoint variation on these matters. Notifying a trio a wikiprojects – and pretending "I don't know if there's any others that should be notified or not" when the others are very obvious: literature, biography, fantasy, novels, etc.) – when we know those specific projects are populated primarily by editors with the same viewpoint on the question, was blatant canvassing. Rather that make an ANI issue out of it, I'm simply broadening notice about the RfC to undo the vote-stacking effect.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:47, 28 November 2021 (UTC)
      • The idea that WikiProject Literature or WikiProject Fantasy would have a different (in what way?) take on this article than WikiProject Women Writers is an example of latent bias ahem, unproven. But SMcCandlish's belief that gender-related issues represent the "reality" that en.WP is heavily editor-stacked by left-leaning Americans, who as a group have very little viewpoint variation on these matters is one of those things that empirical realities - like the evident disagreements among US-based editors on said issues, and the equally evident participation of non-US-based editors in enWiki discussions of them - simply can't change. Sigh. Newimpartial (talk) 02:00, 28 November 2021 (UTC)
        • Not interested in arguing about this with you. How to even define "women writers" is debatable, that debate is by definition a socio-political one with strong biases that verge on stark polarization against each other, and editors who hold strong views on the subject (which translate into strong views on the subject of the RfC) are going to concentrate in that wikiproject more than they will in most others. Everyone here already understands that, even if a handful want to pretend otherwise in an attempt to engage in debate-for-sport (cf. WP:NOT#FORUM). My purpose was drawing uninvolved attention to that RfC, and this purpose has been served.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:12, 28 November 2021 (UTC)
          • You were supposed to place a neutral notice, though, not one based on your own ideological assumptions, OR and POV "spin". But I suppose that will be an issue for ANI; not here, at any rate. Newimpartial (talk) 02:34, 28 November 2021 (UTC)

Central matters in this discussion and the threads leading up to it are labeling of Rowling, labeling of commenters on Rowling, why Rowling is notable, what is due or undue in the lead section, and whether quasi-numeric claims like "many", "a few", etc. in this context are legitimate or an OR/WEASEL issue. PS: There has also some debate on where in the lead this should go (if at all) and whether the previous RfC on that question was closed properly.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:49, 28 November 2021 (UTC)

WP:LGBT is now aware of the RFC at J.K. Rowling. Put on your figurative helmets. GoodDay (talk) 02:33, 28 November 2021 (UTC)

I already know you have extreme biases on these topics, GoodDay, but you don't need to continuously exhibit that fact for everyone to see. SilverserenC 02:39, 28 November 2021 (UTC)
You're just jealous of his magic helmet. Newimpartial (talk) 02:44, 28 November 2021 (UTC)