So our "living persons" banner contains the following text:
"This article is about or directly concerns one or more living people
and therefore must adhere to the biographies of living persons policy.
Specifically, unsourced or poorly sourced negative material about
living persons should not be posted to this article *or its talk
page(s)*. Such material must be removed without hesitation. "
(emphasis in original)
I'm particularly concerned about the "or its talk page" bit. Is
someone just confused, or should we actually *not* move material from
the talk page like this:
I have removed the following text because it sounds defamatory and
probably isn't true: "John B Smith was busted twice for frequenting
prostitutes in the 1970s". Anyone have a source?
How can we realistically work with potentially defamatory statements -
eg, requesting sources for them - if we can't even repeat them on talk
Currently we try to classify some types of sources as
"reliable" and other types of sources as "unreliable". This
is problematic because in fact almost all sources are reliable
for some things and unreliable for others. So, instead of
fixing a yes/no classification of sources, let's establish a
general principle that each article should be based on the
most reliable sources available FOR THAT TOPIC. Then we
can give guidelines to help editors make that decision.
For example, we could discount USENET articles if there are
articles in respected newspapers. We could discount books
by popular writers if there are books by eminent experts.
And so on; it would take some effort to get it right of course.
Doing it this way might (one can hope) avoid some of the
absurdities of the present policy. It would also allow us to
pay attention to the consensus in the relevant community
about what sources are best. If every comics fan knows that
certain USENET postings are the final word on a topic, it is
really silly to exclude them. Similarly, it is really silly to
apply the same rules about basic biographical details to
movie stars (who are the subjects of many articles by
journalists that can be consulted) as to scientists
(who are not, with very few exceptions).
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On 9/28/06, David Gerard <dgerard(a)gmail.com> wrote:
> My phone number and email are publicly available for media contact
> purposes. This means, of course, I get emails and calls about
> A common call is "How do I get an article about me/my book/my
> Now. What's a helpful answer to this? Better than "You don't, someone
> else has to write one," because you *know* they'll just write a
> bad one themselves and it'll all end in a tearful AFD entry and
> someone hating or fearing Wikipedia henceforth.
> Assume that referring them to a web page or policy page is less good
> than being able to answer on the phone right there.
> Ideas please?
> - d.
In this regard, one-time editors at Wikipedia have the same problem as single-use sellers at eBay: they have no established reputation. Yet, building a reputation at Wikipedia can take months once you understand the system, and years to grok the politics of the Wiki world. A person who wants to contribute something noteworthy about themselves, or make a one-time contribution on another subject, does not have the time or resources to learn the procedures or establish their reputation. There is also the problem of maintenance on a good article to make sure that it isn't vandalized or dumbed down. For these needs, increasingly more people are turning to established third-party sellers and editors for their eBay and Wikipedia service requests. For a low one-time fee, companies like ZS Wikiplacement guarantee a top quality Wikipedia article and two years of 99.9% uptime maintenance. Reputation has its rewards. Next time someone calls or writes to you about positioning
themselves in Wikipedia, simply refer them to ZS WikiPlacement at 1.432.224.6991 (email: info(a)collectiveresource.com). We will determine if their desired information has a good enough chance of being considered noteworthy and verifiable. Plus, we will format the article in such a way that it is useful to the greatest amount of people (through Wiki formatting, writing the article from a neutral point of view and by placing the most noteworthy data at the top).
I hope this provides a win-win-win solution for our company, mutual customers and service personnel at Wikipedia (by reducing your workload.)
Can anyone think how to rephrase this better? Would it actually get
through to anyone who needs to hear it?
(I eagerly await all the people saying I should read what I wrote.)
These are the things we do that aren't actually codified. The feel of
the project. The social structure. This stuff is process too, but if
you contradict it you'll really upset people. Breaking a rule is just
breaking a rule; but breaking a cultural expectation is breaking
people's basic assumptions about the fabric of this small world of
ours. And upset volunteers fade away.
If you think you're keeping to the fundamental rules and the sensible
processes but repeatedly upset people in the same way, your approach
is ineffective. If you are in fact right, and cultural expectations
are getting in the way of writing the encyclopedia, you've got a hard
job ahead of you changing them. But that's the trouble with vision.
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Given the number of people who seem to use Alexa 'rankings' as the basis
of an Afd decision on website articles, I thought you guys might be
interested in this article:
It has been clear for a long time that Alexa 'rankings' are utter crap,
as they are based not on website visitors and links (as Google or Yahoo
rankings are) but on the activities of those infected with Alexa's
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"Peter Jacobi" <peter_jacobi(a)gmx.net>
> In the unlikely case anyone interested has missed it: There
> are some troubles re mandatory in-line citing and science
> It all started with a warning put at large number of "good
> articles" that they will be delisted soon for lack of
> in-line cites. This immediately got the response, that standard
> textbooks facts are not and should not be in-line cited, the
> references section will name selected textbooks and one cannot
> judge the correctness without having some context anyway.
It is certainly foolish in many cases, and make-work, to reference specific and uncontroversial well-known facts. What is more it will tend to make articles unreadable, and effectively unwriteable also. This style is essentially only fit for very careful writing in doctoral dissertations with particularly terrifying examiners in mind.
It seems clear that enWP could get overrun by nutty lawyering types, if a firm line is not taken. Is there not a 'statute of limitations' of sorts appropriate? When a piece of science is over 50 years old, one expects to read about the details of the original papers in a historical article. And the chances are that there are so many textbook citations that picking just one isn't a great help to students.
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Two arguments are frequently made which I think have no merit.
1) "It interferes with readability of the articles." Sure it does,
but that's a technical issue, and _if we wanted solutions_ we could
deal with it through tehnical means. We could define better visual
apparatus for references. One of the examples I keep pointing to is
Laura Hillenbrand's book, "Seabiscuit: An American Legend," not
because it's the only book that uses this style but because it is an
extremely readable bestseller. It is densely cited, but there is not
a single mark within the text. Instead, the references are placed at
the end. They are indicated by chapter, page number, _and phrase_.
This would require modifications to work with Wikipedia, but that can
Wikipedia has a unique _requirement_ for very dense references,
_denser_ than those found in research papers or nonfiction books, so
it is not surprising that traditional solutions are not perfect for
Wikipedia, and that we will need to think of better approaches.
2) "If it appears in numerous textbooks it does not need a citation."
This is silly. The problem is that there is no way the reader or
anybody else can tell the difference between a sentence which lacks a
reference _because somebody has checked_ to make sure that it appears
in numerous textbooks, and a sentence which lacks a reference
because_ someone just typed it in off the top of their head_. They
look the same.
Even if someone goes over an article with a fine-toothed comb today
and has made sure that none of the unreferenced material needs
references, without any sort of markup apparatus there's no way
anyone can tell a week later which portions of the text have been
In other words, if we don't drop something into the article to leave
a breadcrumb trail to where the fact was found, then any work we do
in fact-checking will be wasted effort because it will be obsolete a
week later. We need some kind of marker to where the fact was found.
And the marker needs to be readily visible... at least to those
interested in seeing it... so that anyone can see how carefully the
article has been fact-checked and _which facts in it_ have been checked.
Finally, which is easier to do: check to make sure that a fact is
contained in _three_ textbooks and say "good, it doesn't need a
reference" and not put one in? or check to make sure it's in ''one''
textbook and cite the source?
I sometimes think that at least some people who object to citations
do so because what they really want is to _establish themselves as
authorities_ through social interaction with other page editors. That
is, they want their Wikipedian colleagues to recognize _them_ as
reliable sources, and agree that any fact inserted by
[[User:Pantomath]] does not need a citation because everyone agrees
that User:Pantomath knows everything.
The volume of corporate vanity/vandalism which is showing up on
Wikipedia is overwhelming. At the office, we are receiving dozens of
phone calls *per week* about company, organization, and marketing edits
which are reverted, causing the non-notable, but self-aggrandizing
authors, to scream bloody murder. This is as it should be. However, I
am issuing a call to arms to the community to act in a much more
draconian fashion in response to corporate self-editing and vanity page
creation. This is simply out of hand, and we need your help.
We are the #14 website in the world. We are a big target. If we are to
remain true to our encyclopedic mission, this kind of nonsense cannot be
tolerated. This means the administrators and new page patrol need to be
clear when they see new usernames and page creation which are blatantly
commercial - shoot on sight. There should be no question that someone
who claims to have a "famous movie studio" and has exactly 2 Google hits
- both their Myspace page - they get nuked. Ban users who promulgate
such garbage for a significant period of time. They need to be
encouraged to avoid the temptation to recreate their article, thereby
raising the level of damage and wasted time they incur.
Some of you might think regular policy and VfD is the way to go. I am
here to tell you it is not enough. We are losing the battle for
encyclopedic content in favor of people intent on hijacking Wikipedia
for their own memes. This scourge is a serious waste of time and
energy. We must put a stop to this now.
Thank you for your help.
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.