I find it difficult to set rules in the abstract - all the more so from
being a lawyer by training, with a good knowledge of how slippery language
can get once you try to apply it to an unforeseen situation. Thankfully we
only have policies and guidelines to worry about, not things that are
supposed to be binding laws. I'd agree with you about the Foo case, though.
I would vote to delete such an article unless I saw evidence that other
people with some profile were already commenting on the "Foo" meme (e.g.
op.ed. pieces, editorials, or well-known blogs (but what is "well-known"?).
Without that, I'd consider the article original research. (Put aside whether
there's a dicdef issue; I'm assuming the article could be expanded beyond a
mere definition of "Foo").
In other cases I'm not so sure. What about all those articles on fictional
characters who may not have been discussed much in critical sources? I
wouldn't necessarily want to say that these characters are non-notable, even
though I sometimes think we give too much importance to them and not enough
to real people who are important in the adult world. I think they are
notable because they often just do have a cultural impact that we can all
sort of take judicial notice of without dreaming up novel theories. If we
accept that much, I'm then happy for someone to say: "Sammy Snark gets
killed at the end of the first-series story arc of Blogsville" with a
citation to the actual episode rather than to a secondary source. In this
sort of context, some easily replicable putting together of a narrative
doesn't worry me, and I don't interpret the original research proscription
as covering this kind of thing in spirit. What's your take on this kind of
Russell (a.k.a Metamagician3000)
----- Original Message -----
From: "Steve Block" <steve.block(a)myrealbox.com>
To: "English Wikipedia" <wikien-l(a)Wikipedia.org>
Sent: Monday, May 01, 2006 11:41 PM
Subject: Re: [WikiEN-l] Verifiability equating to notability
Russell Blackford wrote:
It's dangerous to apply the notion of
"original research" too literally
outside of its original context (dealing with crackpot theories, or
novel ones, student essays, and so on). Beyond that context, I'm not
literalistic, and I don't need a lot of guidlines. I think I know it when
see it, and I think I know what is not intended to be covered by the
expression when I see it, even if it could be brought under the literal
description that is used. Common sense has to prevail, I think, which is
we have all these processes involving shared community perceptions.
An example of something that is probably NOT "original research": "Bloggs
has approvingly cited the work of Derrida to attack the philosophy of
bohemian snarkism. According to Bloggs, it is all 'words, words, words.'
<reference, Joe Bloggs, Anti-Snark, p. 300>"
An example of something that certainly IS original research: "Bloggs, who
has attacked the philosophy of bohemian snarkism, could have found
support for his view by applying certain claims famously made by Derrida.
<reference, Jacques Derrida, Words/ Words/ Words, p. 300>"
We all make these kinds of distinctions reasonably confidently, don't we?
When in doubt, at the margins, we do indeed want to call on our
wisdom. The process seems straightforward enough to me, though I suppose
might change my mind if I got caught in an edit war over it.
I think we're in broad agreement. The trouble is, at the thin edge, you
get people arguing that because everyone says "Foo", we can have an
article on "Foo", and note all the blogs and people who have said
especially on "XYZ message boards", because Bloggs has set up a website
documenting the history of XYZ message board, and also the posts are all
archived and you can clearly see where Bleggs said "Foo" to Blaggs and
Bliggs banned him.
Apparently, because this can all be sourced it isn't original research,
because there are no sources disputing it it isn't a point of view, and
it's all sourced so it's verifiable. The issue is that it is original
research because the particular documentation of these things create a
novel narrative which exists nowhere but on Wikipedia. But that doesn't
seem to hold sway over people. To me, no original research means we
can't personally see it, we need someone to see it for us and then we
can summarise them. So if nobody else has commented on Bleggs saying
"Foo" to Blaggs in a reliable source, it's original research for us to
document it. The problem is that there is an issue as to whether things
recorded on the internet as they happen exist in the same sense as a
tree, a cat and that four stop Phil mentioned. Is the internet a
reliable source in and of itself?
Notability is an issue in the sense that everyone mentions it an no-one
agrees on what it means. I was attempting to cut through various
discussions which were attempting to allow, for example, memes which
have existed for a year to be recordable. Given there's not much of a
definition of a meme to start with, a meme pretty much being an idea
which catches on, it seems like allowing any idea which catches on to be
documentable after having caught on for a year a little mad. To me.
For starters, how would we define whether a meme has caught on or not?
And then, why can't we allow website X to be added, it's been online for
a year, why isn't that allowed, and so on and so forth. The idea was to
base notability within the three policies we have already, which as they
stand, would also allow Phil's Four Stop article. I was kind of seeing
a lower tier triumvirate of notability, deletion policy and Wikipedia is