Wikipedia talk:Verifiability, not truth

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Another point of viewEdit

When reading this essay, please note that it represents only one point-of-view. Another point-of-view is that "Verifiability" is pre-dated by a fundamental WP tenet: namely that accuracy is obtainable through repeated edits (e.g. by a large number of editors over a long period of time). I'm not necessarily against referencing, but cannot condone the ridiculous situations that arise when editors insist on (very often nebulous) references cited against every point in an article.

As an aside, I find it amusing that an essay on "Verifiability" contains a picture ([[File:PF van Hamel Roos.jpg|thumb|right|200px|]]) purporting: "A scientist about to try to verify a hypothesis by peering through the microscope for a closer look". Amusing because there's nothing to verify that the gentleman in the photo is about to verify a hypothesis, nor that he is about to look through the microscope in the picture. Perhaps he was simply posing for a photo? Perhaps I should edit the caption in order to home-in on accuracy: "Scientist touching a microscope" (but of course that caption wouldn't help to "demonstrate" the point about "verifiability" would it)?

 HWV258.  22:59, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Verifiability, not accuracyEdit

Pardon the barnyard language, but this is bullshit. There is an objective reality out there, which may be INTERPRETED in different ways — and hooray for WP for exposing its readers to the spectrum of that. But it's about time to make ACCURACY the watchword for a Wikipedia article. Quoting wrong garbage from a so-called "reputable source" (which all too often isn't) and then reverting corrections of factual errors isn't something to be blithely worshipped, as this snotty little page does — it is something broken that needs to be fixed! Carrite (talk) 02:21, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Amen--Godal (talk) 15:54, 11 December 2010 (UTC)
As someone who possibly bled the most in that battle, I agree. The word "truth" is a strawman substitute for the word accuracy in order to try to prop up this removed phrase, because "truth" it has other usages/meanings. North8000 (talk) 23:22, 4 February 2017 (UTC)

Is this policy a joke?Edit

I mean, Verifiability, not truth? If so, it should be included in Wikipedia humor. -- (talk) 12:20, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

This is an essay, not policy. The policy is Wikipedia:Verifiability (which includes a mention to the concept) MBelgrano (talk) 16:08, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
It's misphrased. "Verifiability, not just truth". That makes it more clear, I think? DS (talk) 11:57, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
Let me rephrase: Wikipedia is random opinions, not facts. --Godal (talk) 15:57, 11 December 2010 (UTC)
More accurately, Wikipedia accepts material that can be verified in published reliable sources, not whatever some editor personally believes is The Truth™. This includes verifiable material that our dear editor personally believes is true and also verifiable material that our dear editor personally believes is false. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:07, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
The problem being that The Truth™ is a bit of Wikipedia jargonic irony that experienced editors will probably recognize, but which isn't comprehensible to ordinary people (the target audience of our policies), particularly when it's written not as The Truth™ but as truth.--Kotniski (talk) 09:44, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
It's more than just "jargonic irony", it's directly manifested in the form of lots of nonsense to be found in Wikipedia articles. There's a reason why Wikipedia isn't generally given credence by universities for research purposes. Something I would strongly advise anyone who genuinely wants accuracy in Wikipedia and runs up against obstinate editors who clearly have an agenda - read the source that's cited. You might find that what's stated in the article doesn't at all accurately reflect what the source says.TheDarkOneLives (talk) 03:58, 28 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm gonna trademark that since no one else has. Pyroboy1080 (talk) 05:46, 18 October 2020 (UTC)

Merge WP:Truth to hereEdit

I propose to merge Wikipedia:Truth to here, Wikipedia:Verifiability, not truth. The two essays are about the same thing, and they say the same thing. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:04, 18 August 2011 (UTC)

I think that's a good idea. They have basically the same viewpoint, so it wouldn't be like merging WP:BLUE and WP:NOTBLUE. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:01, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Merge them, or even merge them with WP:V - this essay seems to do a much better job of explaining the concept than the policy does.--Kotniski (talk) 09:45, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I would suggest fixing the Truth article on its own, and referring to it from here. A merger will create an article that is long enough to make people skip it. The world today is getting used to tweets. By the time you have 141 characters in a message you have lost a good portion of the audience. History2007 (talk) 15:29, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
  • WP:MERGE very much asks for a merge of similar or largely overlapping content, unless there's a serious need for a WP:SPINOFF. Shall I take it to a larger forum to get more comments? Aditya(talkcontribs) 04:05, 6 June 2012 (UTC)

10 links supporting "Verifiability, not truth"Edit

There's no rule that says your evidence is good evidence just because you say it is; at the very least you could reply to my criticisms of these examples, on how I have misunderstood them. It's not as if there's a mountain of examples to deal with. You asked for evidence supporting my view, and i will happily oblige: Here are some examples, taken from the search link I gave you that you have so far refused to acknowledge. They're not definitive, just the first ones I came across through that search that were simple enough to understand. These editors seem to find it useful in explaining why sourcing is important, and their view won the day. Of course, one doesn't prove a positive, just provide as much evidence as one can for it, but this is a start:
I found these in thirty minutes, during which I didn't find much of anything where someone knowingly or successfully included material that was false through citing "verifiability, not truth". It's because I see such uses above of "verifiability, not truth" frequently enough that I believe the phrase is useful, in addition to my own experience of encountering it as a new user. It's difficult to empathise with your viewpoint without more examples that aren't actually a matter for RSN.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 15:58, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

--SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:32, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

I scanned through about a dozen of those and in each the core conversation, message, and resolution were that wp:ver absolutely requires sourcablity (actually, sourcing in those examples). The search was by them quoting the first line of the policy, but , after all, that might be because it's the first line of the policy rather than being because it says "not truth" and, again, the conversations were about the core statement and operative clause of wp:ver rather than "not truth". Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 22:57, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

No, North8000, that's not correct:

  • One: "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. If it can't be verified, it shouldn't be on Wikipedia."
  • Two: "I object because where am I supposed to get references? It's notable because it is played EVERYWHERE. -- Verifiability, not truh. I would suggest reading what the term notability actually means in terms of an encyclopedia such as Wikipedia."
  • Three: Too complicated for a quick quotation, but definitely about the exclusion of something unverifiable. "Verifiability, not truth" appears as part of a full quotation of the first 2 sentences of WP:V.
  • Four: "I think modern NYGH girls are more bilingual than in the past. It started when the school got GEP. Also, rumours are often based on truth. -- The criterion for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth."
  • Five (1): "There is (are) an anonymous editor(s) who continually add a list of rivals for this school without providing a reference to suppor their claim. [...] -- Agreed, I have tried to give some policy to (talk · contribs) which are clearly not on his side here e.g. WP:V states that Wikipedia functions by verifiability not truth. If this IP does any more reverts I am going to WP:AN/3RR."
  • Five (2): "Unfortunately it appears unregistered users are going to insist on removing sourced material in clear contradiction of the WP:V policy that Wikipedia functions by verifiability not truth, with no effort to discuss it on the talk page." This refers to the removal of "rivals" from the insane template at St. Rita of Cascia High School. (I am calling it insane because for a school it has fields "Team name" and "Rivals" which, apparently, refer to a wrestling team, but there is no mention anywhere on the template that that's what it is about.) It is impossible for me to come to an opinion on who was right here, not just because the situation is so weird, but also because almost all relevant links are broken.
  • Five (3): A third comment covering both aspects above.
  • Six: "So basically you can write whatever you want as long as someone said it somewhere. That's why this is foolishnes. Verifiability not truth? Isn't it verifiability OF truth?" This was said by an editor who removed "verifiable" information that was an obvious misapplication of the term "ethnic cleansing". No comment on the editor's behaviour.
  • Seven (1): "[An editor wants to removed a criticism of the Austrian School based on original research saying the criticism makes no sense.] -- The principle for inclusion in WIkipedia is verifiability not TRUTH."
  • Seven (2): "I looked at the book that had the pound prediction stuff and didn't see it, so I'm fine with that part being removed. However, the other stuff should stay. Wikipedia is about verifiability, not truth." Similar to previous case.
  • Seven (3): "However, as the other editor's have told you, there is no situation in which we can use our own research, our own analysis, our own interpretation to substantiate claims in Wikipedia articles. The quote people keep bringing up from WP:V (that we care about verifiability, not truth) is a cornerstone about how Wikipedia works. Otherwise, every single article would boil down to experts (or people who think they are experts) arguing about what is true, and there would be absolutely no way to settle the arguments." Context not entirely clear without substantial research.
  • Seven (4): "This conversation is a great illustration of why the principle of Verifiability not Truth, and no original synthesis is so necessary for Wikipedia to work. [...] Arguing about 'facts' and the 'truth' is a waste of time. That's why we stick with verifiability."
  • Seven (5): "[...] the attempts to downplay the minority viewpoint status are NOT in compliance with the policies of NPOV. There are constant attempts to rewrite this article as if the Austrian viewpoints are considered to have equal validity as economics published in mainstream journals. -- The policy is at WP:V. Inclusion has to do with verifiability, not truth (please see also WP:Truth). The policy says nothing about 'validity.'" Interesting case, where "verifiability, not truth" is used as an argument for not applying NPOV. Maybe correctly, maybenot.
  • Eight (1): "Plain and simple, our verifiability policy is "verifiability, not truth". If some fans of the band deny their emo influences and aspects (which are clearly outlined in multiple reliable sources), then Wikipedia is not the medium in which to push that point of view."
  • Eight (2): "I don't see any reason to remove it; there are 5 sources calling this band emo, and as much as I (along with many people) disagree with it, Wikipedia is about verifiability, not truth."
  • Eight (3): "Our policy, simply put, is verifiability, not truth. Also, even if the genre is 'out of date', it doesn't change the fact that they have been associated with that genre."
  • Nine: "The standard is verifiability, not truth, and Wikipedia is not a forum for debate. Anything we write about Romano-German culture must be consistent with current scholarly opinion -- even if that opinion happens not to be correct. This article is not the leading edge of research, but only a reflection of it." No evidence was provided that the (unsourced) disambiguation page in question does reflect current scholarly opinion.
  • Ten: "I have e-mailed Robert E. Hill Real Estate and I can cite the return e-mail when it comes. -- Many people find it frustrating--'The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth'."
I have marked those cases in red where "verifiability, not truth" was invoked to keep "verifiable" information in. Hans Adler 00:16, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
Oops! Essentially you are saying that the in all of those cases in red, the "not truth" phrase was used to support an improper statement of wp:ver, namely that wp:ver weighs in on the side of INCLUSION of questioned material. So most of the examples show the opposite of what was originally intended. North8000 (talk) 02:01, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

I'm not sure exactly what argument is being made here, but it seems to be along the lines of "look, people often quote these words, therefore they must be accurate". But there are plenty of things people have got into the habit of saying that don't really make sense ("the exception proves the rule" springs to mind). WP editors would quote any pithy phrase that was used to express this idea in a prominent place in policy - it just so happens that this is the one we've got, so this is the one you can find people quoting. But in all(?) of these examples, you've got people misusing the word "verifiability" to mean "sourceability", which is prima facie evidence that the popularity of this meme is causing either muddled thinking or muddled use of English (the same applies to the other one, "original research"). --Kotniski (talk) 06:56, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

Providing more rationaleEdit

This essay seems like a reasonable start, but I think two elements could be expanded:

  • More concrete examples of how truth may be an elusive element in diverse fields from monetary economics to the feasibility of quantum computing. I suggest adding this to the WP:Truth article and referring from here.
  • More rationale on why Wikipedia can not be a "truth determination machine" and must be a "summary generation system" instead. This can actually be derived from the first item above via logical reasoning.

It is one thing to say: "Policy states X", but providing rationale for the policy will be better. And I would suggest telegraphing those points upfront. But I know the truth! is a very good tweet and should be clarified somewhat further up in a sentence or two. And I think these two essays should be prominently featured on the welcome messages left for new users. They should be told that these exist upfront. History2007 (talk) 15:37, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

I made a new section, "Meaning of "Truth" at specific topics", to go into further detail. Logic and maths, social sciences, and works of fiction, I think that those three master categories should cover most cases. Cambalachero (talk) 21:50, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

Section inserted by USer:BruceGrubbEdit

I've removed a section inserted recently by BruceGrubb. It argues that the statement by a researcher regarding the first use of the phrase conspiracy theory in 1909 can be proven to be unreliable by showing that the phrase has been used earlier than that. It is defacto claiming that if wikipedians can do Original Research and show a source to be wrong then our OR trumps the specialist source. I think this is highly problematic and basically circumvents one of our core policies. In this case it is also furthermore not convincing, it is for example not clear whether the quoted researcher is stating that the words "conspiracy" and "theory" had never occurred together before 1909 (which would then be falsified by the other quotes) or whether he means to say that 1909 was the first time it was used in its current meaning - in which case he may be correct since the other quotes seem to be using the phrase in a somewhat different way. In any case we do not need a section in this essay explaining that we can reject sources as unreliable by doing Original Research. That way lies madness.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 15:45, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

This is only one of hundreds of ways in which lies madness! Take a trot through the archives of talk pages allied to policy ... heh! You don't have to be mad to work here - you'll pick it up as you go along. Pesky (talkstalk!) 20:49, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
Every time we make a judgement about whether a source is reliable or unreliable, on a particular point or in general, we are doing original research. EVERY TIME. Because even in the unlikely case that we have another source (X) that states that our source Y is reliable, we still don't know (except by original research) that X itself is reliable. So what you call "madness" is in fact the very foundation of Wikipedia. If it weren't for our doing that kind of thing, Wikipedia would be a blank screen. --Kotniski (talk) 12:21, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
I disagree. There is a world of difference between evaluating a source's general reliability for a claim and rejecting a statement an otherwise reliable source because an editor claims it to be incorrect, or claims to have evidence to prove that it is.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 12:33, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
Well yes - in the second case (if the editor can provide the evidence) then we can be more sure that we're making the right decision (in rejecting the statement) than in the first case. The idea that we just split sources into reliable and unreliable on general principles, then give unqualified acceptance to anything the "reliable" ones happen to say, even when we can see it's wrong, is absolutely ridiculous, and hopefully not something that any editor in their right mind would actually do.--Kotniski (talk) 12:38, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
But wikipedia is not for knowledge production - we don't adduce new evidence to the world's body of knowledge. Whether or nt the editor has evidence the claim is still synthesis - he is basing a new conclusion (that source A is wrong) by his own interpretation of source B, even though that claim is not found in that source. If an editor claims to have evidence that would change the way wikipedia should cover a certain topic then she needs to publish that evidence in a reliable source - not simply bring it to wikipedia for it to be published there. If this becomes standard practice it is going to completely circumvent wikipedia's role as an encyclopedia by turning it into a publisher of original thought. I don't know why you talk about the idea of splitting sources into reliable and unreliable - I certainly don't do that. ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 13:01, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
Certainly we aim not to add to the world's body of knowledge, but we certainly aim to subtract from it ("making the Internet not suck", as I believe someone once put it), as we conclude (based on various evidence) that certain sources are not reliable in certain matters.--Kotniski (talk) 14:06, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

WP:Verifiability, and lie?Edit

Why is this section/guideline titled WP:Verifiability, and lie? "NOT truth" and "LIE" are one at the same? Ganesh J. Acharya (talk) 02:51, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

Verifiability is impossibleEdit

  1. The bug with Verifiability is, the same is impossible and it has to start with "believing". That is, when a human is born in this world the human only starts with a belief about the universe they are "told" and "taught" about. Now, when there is no way for the human to find out whether this world is not a staged drama just set for that individual, the human has to believe what they are being told by others before them. Since, everything has to start with a "belief" the "science of verifiability" is not possible. How would anyone ever know what they are noticing is not staged? So, it all starts & stands on "belief" that the people before themselves are not staging and are telling their progeny "truth". Since this bug can never be overcome, verifiability in a true sense is not possible.
  2. Because you are unverifiable 10000 generations down the line are you absent now? Not everything can be verified and not everything that is unverifiable is necessarily absent. So going only with 100% verifiable aspect is nothing but sheer ignorance. Ganesh J. Acharya (talk) 10:05, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
That's a different topic. "Verifiability" here is a requirement that content be sourcable or sourced. That said,, VNT was removed from wp:ver because it sends a message that accuracy is not an objective, and also overreaches the scope of wp:ver which merely places a condition of the presence of material. Perhaps this essay should now get deleted. North8000 (talk) 13:52, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
Should we take the red pill or the blue pill? Wikipedia definitely takes the blue pill Cambalachero (talk) 17:44, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
I have numbered the arguments.[1] Ganesh J. Acharya (talk) 05:24, 14 February 2014 (UTC)

Recently reverted clarificationsEdit

Two of my edits to this essay were reverted by User:Jack Sebastian, who, according to his edit summaries, felt them to be significant changes to the article. Well, I saw my edits as minor, but nevertheless helpful clarifications to avoid some potential misinterpretations. Since they did not change the meaning or spirit of this essay at all, neither expressed nor implied, I didn't sought a consensus for them before.

The first edit ([2]) was just emphasizing some words in the explanation of "verifiability" to make the meaning stand out more pronounced. While providing a source is always good, the threshold is on verifiability, that is existance of a reliable source (somewhere on this planet), not that the material has already been supplied with a citation. Of course, without a source given, stuff can be challenged easily, which is why some editors believe, that all contents must be supplied with citations for inclusion - which, according to WP:V is not the case. Some editors even disregard all sources which they cannot check themselves (for example, because they are offline like a book in a library or only available to a limited audience), which is a misinterpretation of our policies as well (sources must be published, though, but not all published sources are available to anyone). Of course, it is desirable for a source to be easily available to anyone, but this is not a criterion in regard to if a source qualifies as WP:RS or not. Therefore, I felt that it would be helpful to expand the explanation by stating that the status of a source as online or offline is irrelevant in regard to the question of verifiability (by someone, not necessarily anyone). WP:SOURCEACCESS is very clear about that, therefore my addition does not change the meaning of this essay in any way, it just helps to avoid a potential misconception.

My second edit ([3]) is a similar clarification and does not change the meaning of the essay in any way as well. I have observed that some people take "Verifiability, not truth" a bit too literally to the extent that they feel obligated to include whatever information they might find in sources, even if an info is an obvious mistake. Our essay here makes it clear that we can simply ignore such mistakes and there is no obligation to include a mistaken source just because it happens to exists. Of course, we still have to determine what is a genuine mistake and what could be a disputed fact between sources, but this is already covered in the essay (and wasn't subject of my edit, anyway). However, I felt, that the wording in regard to "no obligation" could still be improved and offer a "solution" in the conflictive case that a source contains a mistake but is otherwise good enough to be used for other material - actually, this is nothing new, and editors have dealt with it in this or similar ways in the past, but apparently it isn't obvious or "common sense" enough, so that mentioning it explicitly may still be helpful to some. My edit does not change the meaning of what was already said and meant, it just helps to clarify this in better words.

If someone (Jack?) thinks that my edits do change the meaning or spirit of this essay, please point out in what way you see it being changed based on our established policies. Thanks. --Matthiaspaul (talk) 12:34, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

My original intent of both reverrts was to suggest that, as they do in fact alter the meaning of the text, they should be discussed before that. This is a page to which a great many editors refer to; we must all be on the same page before it stays.
My problem with the initial edit concerns the potential abuse by either new or dishonest editors citing offline material. Of course there is a preference for online material; it can be verified immediately. I of course recognized that not every book/periodical/newspaper has been digiitzed for the web, and offline sources are to be expected. That said, (at the risk of WP:BEANS) it would be a fair statement to note that the WikiProject Resource Exchange is almost always swamped with requests for verification of offline sources. Currently, they are still dealing with requests from April. While more experienced editors know when to ask Resource Exchange for help, most new editors do not. Making sure that new contributors add verifiable, sourced content by emphasizing online content seems prudent. For those disingenuous editors seeking to back up their own statements with bogus "offline" sources, it often takes a very long time to uncover their perfidy, and an even longer time to sift through their contributions for more false claims of citation. A recent case involving a longtime editor and administrator comes immediately to mind here.
I have additional concerns over the wordiness and utilization of the text of the second edit, but I still consider it a valuable enough for discussion. - Jack Sebastian (talk) 14:25, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Jack, I doubt that you've read the BRD page for several years, or at least, the bit about not being permitted to force bold editors to follow BRD must have slipped your mind. BRD is an optional process that (a) does not authorize reversions and (b) is a fairly complex social process that really only works for experienced editors. Also, this is actually a fairly minor essay whose "importance" in no way justifies shutting down editors or demanding that they get written permission to add a couple of sentences.
Matthiaspaul, I think you would like to read Wikipedia:Editorial discretion.
I've not no particular view on the substance: the changes are not important, and say little that isn't explained more fully elsewhere. I don't care what happens. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:28, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

Religious truthEdit

I'd like to see the section "Meaning of 'truth' in different subject areas" also include an explanation of religious truth. It would be helpful for religious articles. Fearofreprisal (talk) 19:11, 6 October 2014 (UTC)

Missing link to removal from policyEdit

In the section History of this phrase on the English Wikipedia, there are links to various diffs that included or moved the subject phrase, but no link for its removal V NOR. --Bob K31416 (talk) 17:04, 9 October 2015 (UTC)


Should WP:Truth get merged into here? Or moved to a different title? I find WP's from difference capitalisations here rather confusing. (Also since it's in project space, I don't know how to post a proper mergeto template.) --

Post-truth politicsEdit

In the era of post-truth politics, I suggest that we need a codicil to this essay. The essay was written at a time when most people generally sought to be honest, albeit that everyone has an unconscious bias of some sort. Now we have cynical misdirection, half-truths and deliberate untruths. So a statement may be fully supported by citation but be a blatant lie. I know we say that verifiability is necessary but may not be sufficient: we need to say that a statement that is contradicted my more reliable sources can and should be deleted. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 19:33, 9 November 2016 (UTC)

Info on the {{Disputed inline}} and {{Dubious}} templatesEdit

So I just appended this to the lead of the page:

  If certain statements are disputed or highly dubious editors however might make use of the {{Disputed inline}} and {{Dubious}} inline-templates.

However User:Jack Sebastian asked me to first discuss this here. So what do you all think of this?
I think these templates are highly useful for the reader and the usefulness of Wikipedia as well as perfectly relevant here. They are also a great way for balancing verifiability and truth. I do think that truth should be the ideal goal of any encyclopedia − and exactly for this reason I strongly support Wikipedia's policy of "verifiability, not truth" as there is no objective measure for truth and we'd open ourselves up to all kinds of vulnerabilities if we wouldn't use the objective requirement of WP:RS etc.
Imo more editors should be made aware and make use of these templates. There probably are also other pages to which info about these 2 templates should be added so please name them here if you know of any.√ Also note that this is very relevant to the topic of post-truth politics (and associated issues) for which User:John Maynard Friedman made an entry above.--Fixuture (talk) 17:02, 4 February 2017 (UTC)

My concern is that using the term dubious is going to riase the temperature of discussions, not lower it. Examples would include various nationalism-rife articles (West Bank, Iran and most ME-based articles). While Truth is a nifty and lofty goal, far, far, far too many people confuse their deeply held belifs to be fact and therefore truth. The current bag of chuckleheaded, orange-flavored crazy deals with alternative facts. Its far more important, I think, to hash it all out at the discussion page. That way, a consensus is built over what is dubious or not. - Jack Sebastian (talk) 22:40, 4 February 2017 (UTC)
@Jack Sebastian:
My concern is that using the term dubious is going to riase the temperature of discussions, not lower it
I understand your concern and think it is warranted but I do not agree that this would necessarily be the case. Actually I think that these templates also can cool down the temperature of discussions by which even those which point out a falsehood can be satisfied without too much compromise of the other side, that this varies per case and that the overall effect rather tends towards cooling temperature. I suggest examining current usages of the template to see what effect it had/has. However whatever the result of such an inspection would be I don't think that it matters that much except if it has been a total disaster until now (which I'm pretty sure it hasn't been) as we shouldn't decide based on what might raise temperature a bit but based on what would have the best effect on Wikipedia ('s quality).
We could establish all sorts of additional requirements, ways of dispute resolution and inclusion criteria if they become necessary along the way.
Its far more important, I think, to hash it all out at the discussion page. That way, a consensus is built over what is dubious or not.
That would be one such way in rough description.
--Fixuture (talk) 23:07, 4 February 2017 (UTC)
Let's see if some other editors weigh on on the subject. - Jack Sebastian (talk) 06:16, 8 February 2017 (UTC)

Do I understand it right?Edit

The previous understanding of the verifiability policy was that content must be verifiable but doesn't have to be true, while the current understanding is that it must be both verifiable and true. Right? --Nîmes (talk) 19:23, 22 October 2017 (UTC)

The policy is wp:verifiability; that all content must be verifiable. The is no policy that content be accurate, although that is an obvious goal where applicable. The change was because the previous wording could be seen as deprecating the goal of striving for accuracy. The change did not change policy. North8000 (talk) 02:48, 16 July 2019 (UTC)
Better rename this page as "Not verifiability, not truth, but consensus". Almost anything is verifiable in one form or another, and almost anything can be proven to be the "truth". Obviously, the ultimate threshold for inclusion is if editors generally agree something is acceptable or not. --Nîmes (talk) 15:02, 15 September 2019 (UTC)
Or that those editors want it in. Then they play sourcing-related wiki-lawyering games exploiting flaws in the policy to keep it in, and to keep anything that they don't like out. Fortunately, that breakdown only happens about 5% of the time, which is on articles involving real world contests such as politics. Which is why Wikipedia is a complete failure on those types of articles. North8000 (talk) 18:16, 15 September 2019 (UTC)

Verifiability, not truth is a joke?Edit

How verify without knowing truth about what is being verified? ॐ Tat Sat (talk) 01:43, 16 July 2019 (UTC)

Did you actually read the essay, or are you just reacting to the title? The essay explains what we do here pretty well.
The notion of verification is that readers can verify that what we say here is supported by a reliable independent source with a reputation for fact checking and accuracy, not a verification of truth per se. You might say that we approach or approximate the truth by relying upon reliable sources. A different policy, Neutral Point of View requires that all positions about a subject which can be supported by a reliable independent source are also represented in the article about that subject. Unlike a paper encyclopedia we don't have a board of paid editors to decide what can be included or not here, so this establishes the standards by which things are included or excluded. Regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 16:50, 16 July 2019 (UTC)
Maybe build a consensus before changing the article, please. - Jack Sebastian (talk) 18:35, 16 July 2019 (UTC)
I think the confusion is simpler than that. Wikipedia editors aren't trying to verify that something is true; they're only trying to verify that it was WP:Published. You do not need to know "the truth" to be able to determine whether a claim has been published in a reliable source. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:05, 19 July 2019 (UTC)
The other advantage is that it avoids endless and irresolvable arguments about what is "true". Outside mathematically provable theorems, truth is subjective. Complex issues do not have a single inarguably true solution, no matter how hard some editors argue for one solution v another. Assertion of truth requires the insurmountable test of provability: Wikipedia can happen because that objective is just taken off the table. Meanwhile we approximate to truth with sufficient citations of reliable sources. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 09:38, 20 July 2019 (UTC)
And for material which is clearly not true (citation is an April Fool, for example), see Wikipedia:Complete bollocks. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 16:19, 20 July 2019 (UTC)

So where do we start fixing this?Edit

What is the best venue to agitate for the abolition of this obnoxious policy?-- (talk) 06:19, 24 September 2019 (UTC)

WP:VPP is the place you need. - X201 (talk) 07:56, 24 September 2019 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Verifiability, not truth is not a policy. It is an essay intended to help editors understand a policy. The relevant policy is Wikipedia: Verifiability and any proposals to change it should start at Wikipedia talk: Verifiability. Please be aware that this is one of Wikipedia's three interrelated core content policies, and most experienced editors consider these policies extremely important and support them strongly as essential to the success of the encylopedia. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 08:02, 24 September 2019 (UTC)
@Cullen328: WP:V has a message box at the top pointing people towards the Village Pump if they want to discuss verifiability, that's why I directed the OP to VP/P. There isn't a chance in hell of it changing, but if the OP wants to try, that's their choice. - X201 (talk) 08:59, 24 September 2019 (UTC)
I am a very longstanding (see my edit history) opponent of certain Wikipedia core policies because I believe they actually harm the encyclopedia.I want to convince those experienced editors that their faith is misplaced. (talk) 15:28, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
If you mean the phrase which is the name of this ESSAY, it has already been abolished from policy. But lots more work remains to be done ......much policy still deprecates the goal of accuracy. North8000 (talk) 10:45, 24 September 2019 (UTC)
This "essay" is a hot mess. BrianH123 (talk) 00:16, 30 November 2020 (UTC)

We did fix it, we abolished it. This is just an essay is about the original intentions of that phrase and the ensuing process. North8000 (talk) 16:03, 10 December 2021 (UTC)

Moving to a different titleEdit

I have read the essay and I think it does a good job, but the title is misleading. Obviously, with the misinformation that exists these days, the notion of truth is important. If we were to say to government officials that the goal of Wikipedia is not truth, they will be very concerned. The goal is truth, but Wikipedia acknowledge that what is true in practice is subjective, though less in science and even less in mathematics. Therefore, verifiability is our way to achieve truth and it's consistent with our encyclopedic nature. The title could be "Verifiability, Wikipedia's way toward truth". Dominic Mayers (talk) 15:54, 10 December 2021 (UTC)

This is an essay about something that we abolished. Since you are one of many people who received a different impression from this essay, perhaps that needs to be made clearer. It describes original intentions of that phrase and the ensuing process. So the subject of the essay is the abolished phrase and so use of the original wording of the phrase is important to identify the subject. — Preceding unsigned comment added by North8000 (talkcontribs) 16:10, 10 December 2021 (UTC)
When you say This is an essay about something that we abolished, do you mean the intention of the authors of the essay was to discuss something that was abolished at the time of writing. That would be very surprising to me. What you mean is not clear. Maybe you mean that the title "Verifiability, not truth" was used for a while as a sentence in guidelines and policy, but not anymore because of criticisms of this phrase and perhaps of the essay itself. The argument for not changing the title-phrase would then be that all the discussions that refer to this abolished phrase would not refer to the essay anymore. If that is the case, it would be a very questionable argument, because these discussions in talk pages should not prime over the natural evolution of an essay. It would be inadequate to force an essay to remain the same so that criticisms remain valid. In fact, the opposite should be expected: the essay should change so that the criticisms do not apply anymore. An essay is not like a comment in a talk page that we cannot modify after someone responded to it. Dominic Mayers (talk) 10:09, 11 December 2021 (UTC)
Just to add that I reviewed the discussion of 2012 in this talk page that resulted in the removal of the phrase and I totally agree with the decision. However, we are still badly in need of an essay that relates verifiability to truth. The decision to froze this essay so that it represents an obsolete view is highly questionable. It's against the principle that essays should improve in view of criticisms, not get frozen by them. Nowadays with the disinformation that prevails on the Internet, we can expect a lot of pressure on Wikipedia to make the search for truth prevails over our five pillars, in the form a war against fake news that are verifiable. Wikipedia mst hold firm on its position that verifiability, due weight, proportion, all our principles that all rely on sources, still remains the best way toward truth. We need to take measures regarding fake news, but rejecting the fact that our fundamental principles must rely on sources (and thus on verifiability) is not one of them. This is why this essay is badly needed and not obsolete at all. Dominic Mayers (talk) 17:10, 11 December 2021 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Dominic Mayers. The title of this essay is a very well established "meme" on WP. It encapsulates how verification trumps "truth". Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 18:00, 11 December 2021 (UTC)
    My comment was not a call for a vote, but for a careful discussion. Your phrase is too short, so I cannot agree or even disagree with it. What is even the meaning of truth in your sentence? There is not enough context to tell. But, in a very common meaning of "truth" to say that verifiability trumps truth instead of searching for it as a superior goal is very controversial. Dominic Mayers (talk) 19:19, 11 December 2021 (UTC)

I was a very-bloodied pointy end of the spear when we got rid of this phrase. It was a gigantic process and mess. I think that a part of the impetus for this essay is folks from the "other side" who wanted to retain it somewhere and in the spirit of having just ended WWIII and the fact that it was an essay, nobody fought otherwise. One of the things that was really bad about this phrase was that it chose the two-meaning word "truth" and thus disparaged the concept of striving for accuracy. One of the common meanings of "truth" is "accuracy", the other is unsupported beliefs / assertions. The one that you expect to see in the body of an article titled "The truth about Covid vaccines". If the phrase avoided the two meaning-word trick and instead said "verifiability, not accuracy" it never would have made it into policy in the first place. With this in mind, in discussions like the above, IMO we should probably avoid the word "truth" and instead use the word "accuracy". North8000 (talk) 19:09, 11 December 2021 (UTC)

OK, the essay was created in a special context, but it can evolve and play an important role. I understand that truth might have the meaning of unsupported beliefs in special contexts such as in "The 'truth' about Covid vaccines", but this is not the common meaning and, even in those special cases, one could argue that the person who wrote "The 'truth' about Covid vaccines" did not use "truth" to mean "unsupported beliefs". Most likely, the person actually meant "truth" in the sense of "exact" or "being the case" or "accurate". By the way, "accurate" is not a good replacement for "truth", because it could mean "accurate description of the sources". In fact, the title of the french version of the article is "Exactitude et vérité", which can be translated as "Accuracy vs Truth". In any case, my point is not dependent upon the specific word used. I am referring to the well understood notion of truth, something that is the contrary of false, i.e., the opposite of a bad thing. The point is that verifiability is a means to an end and that end is compatible with that positive notion of truth. In fact, it's the best Wikipedia can do to obtain truth given that editors are anonymous. So. it is very wrong to oppose verifiability to truth. On the contrary, the purpose of this essay is to emphasize that the natural search for truth cannot be opposed to verifiability or to any of the pillars of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is part of a society that as a whole should offer truth and Wikipedia simply does its part the best it can: not relying on sources would be a step backward. Dominic Mayers (talk) 21:19, 11 December 2021 (UTC)
Some might argue that "truth" is not a well defined concept and we should not even talk about it, but this essay is written for those who think otherwise and even use the importance of truth to argue against Wikipedia's pillars. We are still badly in need of an essay that provides an answer to these people. The other people can simply ignore this essay: it's not written for them. Dominic Mayers (talk) 21:33, 11 December 2021 (UTC)
You made the most important point which is that verifiability is only a means to an end. (I added the "only") We disagree about there being a common alternate meaning of "truth". I think that it is fine to use it in the context that you are. My point was that choosing a word with that alternate second meaning disparages the objective that we both agree on. A good litmus test is if a wp:"reliable" source says something ludicrous. (so ludicrous that no other source even discusses it). So the ludicrous statement is WP:Verifiable according to the rules. Now you have the collision. North8000 (talk) 15:05, 12 December 2021 (UTC)
Yes, we disagree about the existence of an alternate meaning. I believe that there isn't really an alternate meaning to "truth" that is almost the opposite of truth, but even if there would be such an alternate meaning, it will be like many other words that have different meanings. We don't ban these words from our language because of that: the context makes it clear which meaning is in use and this applies also in our case. The problem with the phrase "The threshold for inclusion is verifiability, not truth" was not that. There was no confusion that this phrase intended to use "truth" with its usual meaning. The problem with this phrase is that truth (with its usual positive meaning) is presented in opposition to a criterion of inclusion, which is confusing: we should not suggest in any way that truth is not a valid goal. Having an encyclopedia that presents the truth is our guiding principle. The rules of Wikipedia are designed with that in mind. For example, we attribute when controversial, because though a statement X might be controversial (thus perhaps not true), it can remain a fact (thus true) that P wrote X. It's only that our approach uses reliable sources (with attribution when needed) as the only objective way that we have to evaluate truthfulness and therefore verifiability is used instead of truth, which can be subjective. Regarding the collision that you mention, this kind of collisions usually occur when we ignore the other pillars. In the case of your example, WP:due takes care of the issue. The essay should not and does not pretend that verifiability alone is sufficient. Anyway, the key point is that, because the search for truth is a valid goal, we are badly in need of an essay that responds to those who use this valid goal against our pillars. It will become more and more important, because more and more different governments and diverse organizations care about accuracy (i.e., truth) on the Internet. Dominic Mayers (talk) 16:33, 12 December 2021 (UTC)
I'm in 100% agreement with all of your main points. North8000 (talk) 17:25, 12 December 2021 (UTC)
That makes me happy. The purpose of changing the title was to disconnect this much needed essay from this confusion, but perhaps the first step would be to remove any link to this unfortunate confusion from the essay and make it appears more timely. Currently, the essay appears as obsolete, only a relic of some past confusion, which is not at all what it is. It's a much needed and very timely essay. Dominic Mayers (talk) 17:48, 12 December 2021 (UTC)
I just read the slate's article "How Wikipedia Grew Up With the War on Terror" and it makes me feel that changing the title is not so important. The real problem is that the article is currently written as if it was obsolete, especially the lead. I still think the phrase "Verifiability, not truth" can be confusing when we try to decipher formally what it means, because it opposes verifiability to truth, but it's just a phrase and as long as people understand what it means, changing the title might not be necessary, perhaps even counter productive. I mean some times we have a bad name for a concept, but we still keep it because the concept is known under that name. Dominic Mayers (talk) 00:37, 17 December 2021 (UTC)
I view this essay as a historical record of a really bad phrase that we got rid of. Just as we have historical coverage of other really bad things that happened.  :-) North8000 (talk) 13:31, 17 December 2021 (UTC)
Indeed, this is what it seems to be now. My point is for an historical record, we can use a permanent link to an old version. Also, the fact that it is like an historical record conflicts with what many people expect from it, including what is expected from it in the Slate's article "How Wikipedia Grew Up With the War on Terror". Dominic Mayers (talk) 13:55, 17 December 2021 (UTC)
Perhaps we could evolve this to gracefully make that clearer. E.G. "the intention was", "was seen as having these issues," etc. North8000 (talk) 14:22, 17 December 2021 (UTC)
I don't understand why you care about having an historical record. Essays are not intended to be historical records. In my view, a much bigger mistake than a bad choice of phrase is the sustained attention on issues that it has created in the form of an historical record. We don't really need that. The essay is badly introduced as an historical record, but a lot of it is useful and needed. This essay (most of it) is still timely. The fact that the phrase can be confusing is not a big deal, but if it is an issue, we can change it. Dominic Mayers (talk) 14:39, 17 December 2021 (UTC)
You don't understand that I 100% agree with you. I am merely trying to describe the history and current state of affairs and possible paths forward. Or to crystalize it further, what would you suggest as a topic ant title of this essay? North8000 (talk) 02:45, 18 December 2021 (UTC)
My mistake: it's not because you described the current situation that you meant that it should remain that way. Regarding the title, I don't know. I propose "Verifiability: our way toward truth" for lack of a better phrase. However, I suggest that we first focus on the content. I don't see in which way referring to the past can make this essay a better tool for editors. Therefore, I propose that we remove every thing before "Even if you're sure something is true, it must be verifiable before you can add it". That would be my first step to improve the essay. Dominic Mayers (talk) 03:26, 18 December 2021 (UTC)
The official policy is of course WP:V, WP:RS, WP:OR, WP:NPOV. It technically achieves the same (if the material faithfully represents sources deemed reliable, it presumably is closer to reality or facts than if the material consisted of personal opinions or those from questionable sources). A little research might be needed to find more, but there also are other essays on the topic, some agreeing with policy and explanatory, some somewhat contrarian (advocating for WP:GEVAL or the use of sources beyond policy and guidelines). An easy to find one was linked at WP:V like Wikipedia:Truth requires sources. In relation to this current one, I think that it's possible for its introduction to explain how/why the wording is not official policy while still remaining a great explanatory essay consistent with policy (it's already pretty good but improvements are possible). I've seen an argument that there's only one definition, but the two most common ones are facts as close to reality as is known/possible, then it can also mean an asserted value or declaration (that can in some cases be universal but still rely on faith). If I understand, the concern was that since WP cares about the first definition, the wording seemed conflictual (and the original poster also expresses this). I personally remember of a sockpuppet trolling with this to suggest that WP is crap and admits to not care about reality, that mainstream sources are ostensibly bad, etc. —PaleoNeonate – 11:12, 18 December 2021 (UTC)

PaleoNeonate wrote In relation to this current one, I think that it's possible for its introduction to explain how/why the wording it not official policy while still remaining a great explanatory essay consistent with policy. Of course, it is possible, but why should we do that? Clearly, referring to the past is a distraction that can confuse the readers. It did that for me. Also, those who do not support the essay use that to denigrate it: they say that it's only a record of a past confusion and we can ignore it. But, I do not entirely disagree. We could keep the "bad" phrase "Verifiably, not truth" as the title and immediately explains what it does not mean. I put "bad" in quotation mark, because it is also a nice catchy phrase that attracts the attention. However, I still think the essay should not at all refer to the past. This aspect of the current version does not help at all. Dominic Mayers (talk) 11:44, 18 December 2021 (UTC)

You and I agree and I'd be supportive of changes. The only place we've disagreed is on a sidebar item....I assert that "truth" has a second common meaning. PaleoNeonate said the same thing when they identified it as "it can also mean an asserted value or declaration (that can in some cases be universal but still rely on faith)". But even there I think we have the same end not deprecate the concept that there is such a thing as objective accuracy. My slight disagreement is that when we're doing that, the second meaning of "truth" can be used by detractors to weaken the primary meaning. And that the word "accuracy" has no such secondary meaning and so is a stronger term to use when needed. North8000 (talk) 14:53, 18 December 2021 (UTC)