[WikiEN-l] Zero information is preferred to misleading or false information

Anthony DiPierro wikilegal at inbox.org
Thu May 18 12:17:37 UTC 2006

On 5/18/06, Steve Bennett <stevagewp at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 5/18/06, Anthony DiPierro <wikilegal at inbox.org> wrote:
> >
> > Now what if the software didn't let you create a stub right off the
> > bat?  What if you had to list your sources first, then take info from
> > those sources, *then* you could start a stub?  I don't think writing
> > an article would be incredibly harder, it'd just be radically
> > different.  Getting away with plagiarism would be a lot harder too,
> > probably harder than just writing a decent article yourself.
> That's a pretty good description of [[WP:AFC]] - and you're not the first to
> consider using that as a model for *all* editors.
Well, certainly not literally [[WP:AFC]], which is a huge mess.

> > This isn't to say that I think *Wikipedia* should work that way.
> > After all, Wikipedia has a long history of running completely
> > different from that, and a relatively successful history too
> > (certainly volume-wise, and the average quality isn't too bad).  What
> > I'm saying is that providing enough sources to write a decent
> > encyclopedia article isn't very hard for any but the most obscure
> > subjects, whether you've been to university or not.  Providing sources
> > for an encyclopedia article that's already written, on the other hand
> > - that can be hard or nearly impossible (or even impossible if the
> > article is unverifiable).
> If you can't find sources for a written article, it's not a very good
> article is it!
If it's not possible to find sources for a written article, it doesn't
belong in an encyclopedia.  It might very well be good, but it's not

> > Anyway, to bring this out of theory and back to reality, is there
> > anything I can do with those two references I found on bouchon?  Put
> > them in the ==References== section, even though no one actually used
> > the source?  Put them on the talk page?  Maybe we need a "notes" page
> > which can be organized a little bit better than the talk page.
> ==Further reading== is my preference.

Good point.  Hopefully I'll remember this when I get home.

> > I don't interpret WP:V that way.  The way I interpret WP:V (as of a
> > few months ago), it means that a citation should be easily added to
> > any information upon request, which in turn means that anything not
> I object to any proposals that rely on challenges, requests, original
> authors etc. The wiki model explicitly rejects the idea that the original
> author is going to hang around or is contactable or responsible for his
> contributions. Once the article is written, all future contributors should
> be equally responsible for its content, no?
I didn't mean to imply that the request had to be fulfilled by the
original author.

> > cited, at least in hidden comments, is subject to potential removal.
> > What I'd like to see Wikipedia move toward is a situation where all
> > the information is sourced somewhere, though for practicality purposes
> > the details would probably not be in the article itself (just a list
> > of sources in ==References== is acceptable for unextraordinary
> > claims).
> You don't like footnotes?
I don't think every single fact in an article should have a footnote.
Maybe "extraordinary" is a bit too high of a standard, though.

> > But let me be clear that I don't think this can be achieved simply by
> > a change of policy.  I'm not even sure there is a critical mass of
> > Wikipedians that want this in order for it to happen.
> There are certainly large parts of Wikipedia where sources and WP:V are seen
> as an inconvenience, and a necessary step to avoid WP:AFD, but nothing more.
> Then there are lots of parts where people genuinely make an effort to
> include sources to make WP more useful. I wouldn't want to guess at the
> relative proportions.
> > > If we don't want unsourced material, why have we tolerated it so long?
> > >
> > I never said "we" don't want unsourced material.  Jimbo said *he*
> > didn't want it.  And I said I agreed: I don't think there should be
> > unsourced material *in Wikipedia articles*.  If you want to create a
> > stub from your memory, I think it should go on the talk page (yeah,
> > even if there isn't anything on the article page).
> >
> > But I'm not claiming to speak for all Wikipedians, just giving my opinion.
> >
> > Why have Wikipedians tolerated unsourced material so long?  Because
> > not tolerating unsourced material is *exceedingly* anti-wiki, and
> > Wikipedia evolved from a wiki.
> When do we flick the switch and say "We're not a wiki anymore, our standards
> have been raised"?

Actually, I'd say Wikipedia is already "not a wiki anymore", certainly
not by the original definition, although the popularity of Wikipedia
has tended to change the definition so that Wikipedia always fits.

> My proposal for designating classes of articles based on
> their gradings is effectively a way of progressively flicking that switch.
> Articles start as stubs where almost anything goes. As they improve, the
> classes act as a ratchet mechanism preventing the inclusion of material
> which degrades the quality of the article. Once it reaches "A" level (the
> one below FA) you could consider that article to have fully "evolved from a
> wiki", and that WP:V is now strictly enforced.
I see that as backward, though.  The sources should be found first,
then the article should be written.

That said, I can't say I fully remember the details of your proposal.
I kind of skimmed over it when I first saw it.  Could you point me to
the email where you wrote it, or (even better) to a web page where you
described it?

> Put differently, Jimbo wants (IIUC) a hard-line WP:V policy, but doesn't say
> how he would roll it out. I'm suggesting a way.
> Steve

What if there were only two classes, "notes" and "article"?  That'd be
a lot easier to implement.  Just add a namespace called "notes".  Of
course, the talk page could theoretically be used for this.  The main
problem with that is that people don't treat talk pages like wikis.
Rather, talk pages are used more like a mailing list or discussion


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