David Russell wrote:
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They certainly don't look the same, unless the
person "reviewing" the
article utterly lacks any competence to review the article, in which
case they should kindly refrain from doing so. Anyone who has even very
basic competence knows what is an uncontroversial statement that appears
in numerous textbooks in their field.
I don't agree with the expert-centric approach Larry Sangers advocates,
but we don't have to have only people who have *no* idea what they're
doing editing our articles either.
We are talking about /readers/ here, not Wikipedia editors. If a
/reader/ sees a particular unreferenced statement on Wikipedia, they do
not know whether the statement is unreferenced because:
a) Some idiot has made it up without any factual basis
b) It is 'widely accepted as a fact'
Your 'people familiar with the field will recognise it as a well-known
fact' argument doesn't really wash in this situation. The reason a
person would be reading a Wikipedia article on a subject is because they
_don't_ know enough about the subject. What may appear as a 'widely
accepted fact' to someone writing a Wikipedia article on a subject may
be nothing of the sort to an uninformed person seeking to use Wikipedia
to expand his/her knowledge (which is, after all, what we're for).
Well, that's why I think we *should* have review processes of some
sort. Then if a reader sees an unreviewed article, they are indeed in
the situation you describe. But if a reader sees an article that has
been reviewed as at least "pretty good" by people who know something
about the field, then they can rest assured that nothing obvious is
wrong about it. For what it's worth, I do think we should have a
different process of reviewing than good/featured, but that's been
talked about at length before.
In any case, given references doesn't solve the problem you describe
either, because then the reader still can't determine without some
background knowledge whether this is a mainstream/reliable reference, or
a reference to a book written by someone with a decidedly minority
view. That's why I think we should help readers out by having people
with at least some knowledge in the area the article's about give the
reader some indication of how good the article is---delegating all the
fact-checking to every individual reader simply doesn't work.