Wikipedia talk:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards/Archive 5
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Recent events articles
An encyclopaedia is not a place for discussing recent events. In my opinion there ought to be a rule that Wikipedia is not a newspaper and it ought to be enforced. No doubt we could have a Wikipedia News Service for those who can't resist. As for pop culture articles, my first response is "who cares?", but I suppose a more considered response is that some subjects will have to have less rigorous standards of referencing than others. Adam 01:43, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- We owe part of our popularity to the spike in traffic from the events of Sept 11 2001. The truth is today's news is tommorrow's history. History is encyclopedic. BTW, there is demo.wikinews.org for all those interested in contributing true news articles. -- user:zanimum
- Adam's suggestion that there should be a Wikipedia is not a newspaper rule is an excellent one. I have been thinking the same thing for quite a while. It would greatly improve some parts of the encyclopedia and avoid many of the most useless edit wars. To clarify what it would mean, only events with some finality would be included, not a daily mishmash of events unfolding. For example, Arafat's illness and death would have been admitted after he either got well or died. During the time he was lying in hospital there was never a moment when what was in Wikipedia was more than embarrassing crap fought over by the POV warriors. Anyone who wanted news could look at a real newspaper. --Zero 12:51, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- Any discussion over whether W. is a newspaper or not has to consider the way the technology affects distribution and consumption. What is a Newspaper? I guess many people think it is a source of information about news and current events. But I think what is more important is that it is disposable. Newspaper is a vehicle for publishing material with the shortest possible shelf-life. Wikipedia certainly is not a Newspaper, from this perspective. But that doesn't mean it cannot publish news and current events. We already have a long history of articles on such "newspaperish" events and I don't wee how (or why) we could change. Let's continue creating new articles on recent events. But our articles come out in a way that is not instantly disposable. Contributors can slowly and continually work on those articles, providing follow-up, analysis, increasing context, turning them into articles that merit long shelf life. Why not? Slrubenstein
Referencing of Wikipedia articles
One approach involves the very difficult question of citation, in the sense of others citing Wikipedia. IMO, Wikipedia is not suitable as a citable source on most history or politics. If I were writing a paper on such a subject, I would only use Wikipedia as a source to point me elsewhere, not as definitive in itself. Aside from the issues of POV and self-selected writers, we have the problem of constantly shifting content. An accurate citation would have to read: "English Wikipedia, 'George W. Bush is subhuman controversy,' revision of 17 October 2004, between 0023 and 0432 (UTC)." Perhaps we could consider limiting revisions (other than typos) to certain articles to once a week. During that period all proposed changes would go to a draft article, and that article vetted (how?) before being incorporated in the "public" article. -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 17:32, 16 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- I would oppose that suggestion. It would discourage users from contributing. I understood that all website citations should include the date of publication, or of retrieval if the publication date is unknown. In the case of Wikipedia, the publication date is clearly 0023 (UTC), 17 October 2004 in your example. This is clear, and anybody with a passing acquaintance with Wikipedia would be able to retrieve the referenced article. Warofdreams 16:53, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- I believe my point is not that you can't retrieve the appropriate Wikipedia source for the citation, but that Wikipedia articles, especially on contentious subjects, are ephemeral. To paraphrase the old line about the weather: "If a Wikipedia article doesn't support the thesis of your paper, just keep watch for a few days, it will." (no smiley) -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 17:54, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- Whether Wikipedia is a valid information source has to be judged on an article by article basis. Some, particularly those that have ample references, are worthy of citation. Many unfortunately are not. I agree with Warofdreams that shifting content is not a problem if the reference is done correctly. mydogategodshat 16:48, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- Agreed. Referencing Wikipedia is fine on an article by article bias provided people learn to reference specific versions of the article. The radical openness of Wikipedia means that any other kind of referencing is inappropriate. I think the guidance at Wikipedia:Researching_with_Wikipedia and Wikipedia:Citing_Wikipedia should clearly reflect this point. :ChrisG 19:14, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I am opposed to any rule that either fixes the content of articles, or that limits or regulates people's ability to edit them. I think the only solution is for us (whoever we are) to come up with some system by which we periodically review articles to make sure content is still encyclopedic, and sources are sonsistent with content. Slrubenstein
The following builds on views expressed by Maurreen, now on Wikipedia talk:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards (archive4). -- Jmabel | Talk 23:30, Nov 23, 2004 (UTC)
We seem to be starting to generate at least a list of topics and areas of concern:
- Sourcing and citing
- Schemes for editorial approval
- Interest in best-of-both worlds approach toward flagging "approved" articles while preserving openness
- Schemes for dispute resolution
- Can we build on RfC?
The main controversies so far seem to be:
- What is acceptable sourcing?
- Will we be able to come up with encyclopedia-wide standards, or will we need different standards for different types of subject matter?
- Who is qualified to make approval-related judgments?
- How does this relate to formal education?
- How does this relate to indentifiability of the individual in the outside world?
- How does this relate to previous involvement in a particular article or subject-matter area?
- Where to start
- Do we start by working on uncontroversial or controversial articles?
- Can we identify some pilot projects?
Wikipedia:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards is a place where discerning Wikipedia editors can "meet" to discuss, develop and promote encyclopedic standards.
We envision developing or refining:
- A set of goals for articles,
- A system to indicate articles or article versions that have attained those goals, and
- A quality-based method of resolving editorial disputes.
- Maurreen 09:10, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Perhaps we should think of this forum as a "think tank" and incubator for ideas, many of which should promptly move out onto project pages of their own, linked from here. -- Jmabel | Talk 00:57, Nov 24, 2004 (UTC)
- I think you are entirely correct. The benefit of having a central forum is that we will achieve sufficient interest to keep the discussion going, generate good ideas and hopefully develop some consensus that we could put forward as new policy.
- Good projects like Wikipedia:WikiProject Fact and Reference Check and Wikipedia 1.0; and mechanisms for meta:Article validation and Wikipedia:Approval mechanism do not get enough attention to sustain them. Besides which there is enormous crossover of ideas and contributors (the same usual suspects) and so we duplicate the same points and don't move forward enough.
- When we archive we need to identify where the relevant discussions needs to go; and if there isn't a project page for that type of discussion start one. :ChrisG 18:54, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Again, I think this is a great idea and one we should be focusing on developing. Slrubenstein
- I agree. Maurreen 13:29, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think at least some of the editorial disputes could be addressed through more effort in available processes. For example:
- listing them on RfC,
- summarizing the dispute on the talk page, to help anyone who visits the talk page from RfC, and
- anyone who lists anything on RfC trying to help out at least at a couple other disagreements.
I've only listed on RfC a couple of times, and the second was only today. But I believe my first RfC listing didn't bring any comment. RfC or a similar mechanism I think is especially needed or useful when the disagreement is between just two people. Maurreen 00:36, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
What I'm doing (Jmabel)
I hope no one wants to shoot me for what I'm doing here, but we seem to have hit a wall and I'm trying to see whether I can get us moving again. The following section, "Proposed strategies (moved from project page)" consisted of three proposals that really helped to get discussion rolling here, but were nowhere near getting consensus. I'm moving them to the talk page here, and then going back to the project page to try coming at this from a higher level, and see if we can give this more focus. If someone thinks I'm really headed the wrong way, please let's discuss; we can always revert the project page to before I got there. -- Jmabel | Talk 00:01, Nov 24, 2004 (UTC)
- I think you did a great job! Maurreen 04:08, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I'm thinking that most or all of what's under "Reviewed" articles draft proposal" and "Endorsements" can go on the "Approval mechanisms" page.
The sections "Referencing in Wikipedia articles" and "Software-assisted citation" can be combined with the "Cite your sources" talk, although perhaps with a better name, such as "Referencing in Wikipedia articles", with at least a very prominent link to the Wikipedia footnotes page. Maurreen 13:29, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Also, discussion of standards could perhaps be combined somehow with the pages on Featured Article standards, perfect articles, brilliant prose and the like. Maurreen 13:36, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I'm moving things around a bit on this page, to keep similar topics together. I might see if I can do more. Maurreen 14:03, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Version 1.0 Editorial Team
My idea for accomplishing these ends for a while has been a setting up alternative channels in the conflict resolution process focusing on specific subject areas. In practice, this could mean setting up a committee for editorial arbitration-- at least on an experimental basis. A committee set up along the lines of the Arbitration Committee but with editorial discretion could be established for arbitrating disputes on articles pertaining to modern history and politics, which tend to dominate each step of the existing conflict resolution process. Such a committee could consist of committed Wiki editors who are PhDs or graduate students (examples that come to mind are Slrubenstein, Adam Carr, Danny, Jtdirl, El C, and John Kenney). The experts could be hired by the Foundation, which has in the past reviewed resumes by users applying for Wikimedia positions. So, whereas the Arbitration Committee focuses on behavior and process, the sort of editorial review committee that I am proposing can focus on disputes concerning point of view, language, sources, factual accuracy, etc. (By the way, if such a committee were to be set up, I would not apply to serve as an editorial arbitrator for history, given my choice to contribute anonymously.) If anyone is interested, please see Wikipedia talk:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards. 172 20:11, 16 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- I contine to see this is a crucial and desperately needed function. I myself asked for such help recently. I don't see why we cannot start forming small teams now to start offering such services. UNLIKE other committees, we should not claim the power to anything binding; we shouldn't try to "resolve" (i.e. end) a conflict, but rahter make constructive and well-informed interventions with a focus on encyclopedic standards. Slrubenstein
About Jmabel's suggestion of building up a "web of trust": A page for that was started somewhere on Wikipedia. But it is general, and doesn't indicate areas of expertise.
About that and Slim's idea of an advisory group: Another way to do that or something similar could be to use or build off the Lists(s) of Wikipedians (where people are listed by interest, etc.). Maurreen 10:25, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Spreading the word
In Wikipedia introductory pages and the like, we might want to introduce a little more info on verifiability and references. Maurreen 18:18, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Sometimes I think Wikipedia rewards the obnoxious. I'm not referring to this group, but thinking of perhaps some of the reasons some of us are here. Maurreen 16:49, 29 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- I'd say it more rewards the stubborn with too much time on their hands. That's a common factor in most disagreements everywhere though. In most things you can more often than not "win" if you're willing to sit there and not budge for long enough. Shane King 23:49, Nov 29, 2004 (UTC)
I'm curious about how many people here have used RfC and how useful it was. Maurreen 08:31, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)
<moved from project page and summarized there>
172 suggested that these should be exclusively Ph.Ds and doctoral candidates and raised the possibility that "...experts could be hired by the Foundation" (and immediately ruled himself out of such a role). There seems to be much disagreement over the "Ph.Ds and doctoral candidates" idea, and almost no support for the "paid experts" idea.
- Just a couple of corrections (1) I never suggested that these should exclusively be Ph.Ds and doctoral candidates but rather any applicant going through a process for recruiting editorial arbitrators, perhaps along the lines of the elections to the board of the Wikimedia Foundation; I merely expressed a hope that such a system would be adoped with a large share of the arbitrators consisting of adademics. (2) I proposed the idea of the foundation nominating candidates required to reach a consensus in a vote on the Wiki. I did not propose hiring anyone or paying anyone. Keep in mind that volunteer editors can fill official positions, e.g., members of the Arbitration Committee are not paid... The only correct point above is that I did indeed immediately rule myself out of such a role. 172 22:33, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)
<end moved content>
(moved from project page)
I still only have a rough idea as to what these standards might be and how they would be enforced. This page, though, will hopefully spark a discussion that will lead a large number of users to collaborate and eventually create a detailed draft proposal. 172 02:56, 16 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- I think there is a consensus that we desire to develop some standards.
- Also, at least some people think the standards should be developed before any possible "approval" mechanism.
- Given the wide range on Wikipedia, I'm thinking it might be good to have at least a couple of sets of standards, such as for different levels.
Here are some ideas from other people. Maurreen 13:29, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)
This was copied from "Article candidacy" at Wikipedia talk:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards (archive4). Maurreen 13:29, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Articles should be suggested as candidates, similar to FAC. Candidates should meet certain criterion which differ from the criteria applied for FAC - while quality of writing/readability should be emphasized, verifiability would be the primary focus of this process.
- citations/footnotes for statements of fact
- ascribe opinions
- quotes footnoted
- bibliography of supportive and relevant source items, articles, texts, websites.
In short, articles should report rather than state. - Amgine 17:03, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
It's probably more useful to start by defining what we want 1.0 to be, and then discuss what means might be adopted for getting there. My definition of 1.0 is an online (not paper) encyclopaedia which consists of a body of articles which are (a) comprehensive (b) reliably accurate (c) properly edited and proofread and (d) stable (ie, don't change all the time). One way to achieve this is to have a class of articles which are declared to be finished and then protected from general editing. There may be other ways to achieve this objective. Perhaps other users can suggest some. Adam 06:34, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- I can think of four useful standards to define:
- Usable articles - Lets call that Wikipedia 0.5. I suppose if we bothered a substub would be 0.1, and a stub would be 0.2.
- Featured articles - Wikipedia 1.0
- Extension standard required for a CD or DVD publication
- Extension standard required for a paper publication
- Half the reason discussions of these issues goes round and round but doesn't get anywhere is that we argue about different standards at the same time. BTW We don't need to define a clean up standard, because that is an article which depending on length meets none of the standards. I suppose in open source terms it is an experimental branch. :ChrisG 15:07, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I agree with Adam's points (a), (b), and (c) above, but have reservations re: (d). Although good articles often stabilize to a degree, to declare them finished and protected is anti-wiki. The dynamic nature of Wiki is its major strength. Perhaps declare a certain version of an article to meet a standard and create a copy called Culture (finished) for use as a reference or whatever and keep the Culture article as is - open to editing. Culture (finished) could be updated by the group when and if a better edit of Culture appears. Maybe Culture (snobbish) would be better :-). Then there could exist a sub-parallel Wikipedia_snobbish or Wikipedia 1.0 for those finished articles. -Vsmith 15:55, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Standards might also include:
- no legal problems, such as copyright violations or libel,
- and of course, NPOV. Maurreen 00:05, 29 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Here's a summary of suggested elements for a set of standards. Please add to it as you see fit.
- Edited and proofread properly, overall quality of writing
- Legally OK, no libel or copyright violations
- Media-specific requirements
- Stable (ie, don't change all the time) – appears to be desired by a minority
References and related
- Footnotes or citations for statements of fact
- Opinions ascribed
- Quotes footnoted
- Bibliography of supportive and relevant source items, articles, texts, web sites.
Levels could include "usable" and "feature quality".
Any thoughts on fact-checking?
- Maurreen 00:05, 29 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Comments on summary
I have a concern about this summary (thought I thank Maureen for her good work). When I was first contact about this project, I thought the purpose was to focus on some important but frequently overlooked criteria for good articles (especially verifiability, but of course others). But the list of standards keeps expanding, and I think we thus loose focus. Look, I do not reject any of these standards. But some of them are already implicitly or explicitly on Wikipedia guidelines. I do not think the purpose of this project should be to repea existing guidelines. Some of the standards here may not be part of current guidelines. I certainly think we can discuss whether they ought to be and we can, individually or collectively, propose changes to Wikipedia's guidelines for articles. But we must recognize that guideliens and standards already exist. I do NOT think we should come up with additional or new standards. I think we should look at which existing standards are too often misunderstood or ignored, and discus ways that we can encourage more effective compliance with those standards (from mentoring to mediation). Slrubenstein
- I can understand that. I figure once we get general input from different people with different perspectives, we can figure out where to go from there. Or in other words, if the list is too long, it makes sense to me to do general brainstorming before narrowing down. My input was based mainly on the words "encyclopedic standards" in general. It seemed like there was consensus that the group wanted to develop standards, but that the discussion had died without being directly fruitful. So at least we're talking about it again. :)
- Do you have any thoughts on how we might encourage more following of current standards? Maurreen 07:24, 29 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- What you write makes perfect sense. I suggest we continue along the lines you have been facilitating, and would only add that at some point what we need to do is divide the list into standards already reflected in our policies  and those not reflected in current policies. At that point we can make a proposal to add to or clarify the polcies. Then I think we need to look at which policies we are most concerned with. I think it is pretty clear that we are concerned not with behavior guidelines (already the purvue of the Mediation Committee) but rather Content guidelines. Of content guidelines, my sense -- I hope it is not just my opinion -- is that we are primarioly concerned with four: Wikipedia: Cite sources, Wikipedia: Verifiability, Wikipedia: Stay on topic, and Wikipedia: Check your facts. I think we are also concerned with three other policies -- actually, perhaps we can find a way to propose these be added into the Content Guidelines -- Patent nonsense, Wikipedia: Wikipedia is not a soapbox and Wikipedia: no original research (it is my own sense that almost all the articles that are bad, are bad because they fall short on one of these criteria). We need to go over these pre-existing policies. Do any of them not cover anything we have been discussion? If so, one thing we can do is propose new policies or modify existing ones; I jst want to work within the Wikipedia: Policies and guidelines Framework for starts. Here is the method I suggest:
- with each of us thinking about our own most eggrigious experiences working on an article, go over the Wikipedia policies and guidelines as they are currently written and see whether we think any of them need to be clarified or added to. Then, as a group, we should come up with specific proposals to revise those policies based on our experiences.
- Constitute one or more committees comparable to others (mediation, arbitration) that would be charged with three tasks: first, identify articles that do not met the content standards with which we are concerned, and tag them. I have often seen tags for "article under dispute," "neutrality in dispute" and so on. Can we come up with standardized tags calling attention to specific problems like, "Cite sources," "stay on topic?" These tags wouldn't affect anyone's ability to edit, so I don't see this as a big deal and just a public service. Second, mentor newbies who don't really understand what an encyclopedia is. We can just have a list of volunteer mentors, or hold elections for a committee of mentors. I simply assume that enough of us understand what an encyclopedia article should be that we can mentor people in need of mentoring. Third, I think we need an elected committee that can specifically arbitrate or mediate disputes over content where the source of the conflict involves one of the seven content areas I list above.
In short, the way to encourage people is to be very clear and focused on our concerns, and then educate people -- by making these issues of current discussion among veteran wikipedians, by searching out and calling attention to articles where contributors need to address these issues, by mentoring people, and by creating some mediation mechanism that can specifically address these issues. IMHO. Slrubenstein
- That makes sense to me overall. Also:
- I think some of us are thinking of standards for articles individually, and some of us are thinking of standards for a "release" product. That's not necessarily bad, just something to be aware of.
- One of the things I'm most concerned with is libel. For example, many people don't realize that writing "Joe Blow was arrested for murder" can be libelous if Joe has not pleaded guilty or been convicted. I suggested adding this to the style guide, but got little support. Maurreen 16:13, 29 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Referencing in Wikipedia articles
- Well from Wikipedia:Cite sources, the section should be called references. That is what we have been more or less standardizing on at FAC since that is one of the FA criteria now. But I suppose we could have a discussion about what the best section title is. Further comments on the talk page. - Taxman 18:44, Nov 17, 2004 (UTC)
- I agree that better referencing is critical to Wikipedia's credibility. I would like to see every article have at least 2 book references, 2 journal references, and 2 Web references. In addition, at least half the references should be cited in the body of the article. A well referenced article (such as Strategic management which has about 120 references and about 110 of them cited in the article) allows the reader to check the source(s) of all the major points made in the article. I see this as the inevitable next step in Wikipedia's growth and maturity. mydogategodshat 16:48, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- I would oppose a requirement for "at least 2 book references, 2 journal references, and 2 Web references." That appears to put form over function. Maurreen 09:56, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- What is the function of a bibliography? There are two: first, if provides legitimacy. Second, it is a resource for people who want to do more in depth research. I think we can encourage both of thee functions, and we do not need some rule like two books or two journal articles. I suggest some kind of template which allows editors to explain very succinctly how they researched the article. This might include mentioning articles or books, but in some cases, where that's not appropriate, it would include other things. The point is, it wouold provide transparency and legitimacy. Another template would allow editors to suggest to readers how they can learn more. Again, this might mention books but may not, it all depends. In both cases, thought, I suggest a template that is NOT a list (whether of books or of web-sites). Many encyclopedia articles in other encyclopedias, and many books, end with "bibliographic essays" or "suggestions for further research" and I am thinking of something more along these lines. Those articles and books, rather than providing lists, provide narratives that help explain the particular value of different resources -- information that really helps readers. Slrubenstein
- I'm basically for this. I've often been frustrated that our current approach does not (for example) readily allow us to remark on the shortcomings of particular sources. On the other hand, I can imagine this becoming a POV mess, especially in controversial areas. Does anyone have an idea how to reconcile this? -- Jmabel | Talk 20:38, Nov 26, 2004 (UTC)
- I like Fred's approach. I think if its worth referencing its worth writing an article about it, whether in the main article space or a new source or reference article space. I understand Jmabel's concerns about NPOV; but that is the same problem we have across the whole encyclopedia; and one I think we do quite well with. If a article on a source is biased, we can stick a NPOV warning on the article, and thus readers are warned to think about the material critically. BTW I like the template; but it only needs to go on the serious articles; its not necessary on the pop culture articles. :ChrisG
I think we need to look at creating a categorisation scheme for Wikipedia articles which are 'source' articles. I've had a look through the categorisation system and I can't find any such scheme. I think that would be a worthy endeavour; because then editors could look for suitable source articles and reference from them. It would also reveal the huge gaps the obviously exist and it would suggest a whole new set of articles. :ChrisG 14:06, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Off the top of my head please amend:
- Peer review
- Type of peer review
- By subject
- By peer review
- Academic articles or scientific papers
- By subject
- By type of peer review
- Non-Fiction Books
- By subject
- By author?
- ( By critical reception?)
- Government reports, documents, etc.
- By subject
- By nation
- Source type
- Corporate and business documents?
- Diaries, letters and logs?
- Maps and graphic items?
- Trade publications
- Other media?
- By media type
- By subject or "entertainment" and "serious"
- Organizations ?
- Professional associations and trade organizations
- Think tanks
- Other nonprofit organizations
Current useful categories
- category:Reference - Probably the closest to what I mean
- category:Reference works
- I think this idea has a lot of potential. But I wonder if it might be better as a list, or combined with a list. Also, you mean articles about sources, and not articles themselves that are appropriate as sources, right? Maurreen 14:33, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- Yes, sorry categories of articles about sources! Obviously we would use categories to create lists of current articles, because the software does the work for us in terms of updating the lists. But, we would need an associated list(s) of articles that Wikipedia ought to have because they are landmark books, research papers, experiments etc. :ChrisG 14:56, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- This could probably work somehow with the current "Reference" category. Maurreen 16:08, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- I'd like to wait and see if we get a few other comments to see if anyone else is interested in working on this issue. They might have better ideas for categorisation; and its a pain to manually change categories if we get it wrong in the first place. I'll drop a message off at categorisation and category schemes talk pages and see if they have any ideas. :ChrisG 18:33, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)
We also might want to indicate whether the source text is online. Maurreen 23:01, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- Just to say I have started building on the sources category. Still unsure whether it should be added to the Reference category; but maybe it is best to organise it independently. :ChrisG 23:00, 29 Nov 2004 (UTC)
If you want to categorize articles about specific sources, Category:Books by year might interest you. Ideally all articles about books would be included at least there.