[WikiEN-l] Verifiability equating to notability

Russell Blackford russellblackford at bigpond.com
Mon May 1 14:08:41 UTC 2006

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 at myrealbox.com>
To: "English Wikipedia" <wikien-l at 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
>> simply
>> 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
>> I
>> 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
>> why
>> 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
>> further
>> 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
>> collective
>> wisdom. The process seems straightforward enough to me, though I suppose
>> I
>> 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 "Foo",
> 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
> not.
> Steve block

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