Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)

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The policy section of the village pump is used to discuss already proposed policies and guidelines and to discuss changes to existing policies and guidelines.

Please see this FAQ page for a list of frequently rejected or ignored proposals. Discussions are automatically archived after remaining inactive for two weeks.

How to describe past events on the main page[edit]

Currently, the status quo for events listed on the main page is to use the present tense, even if the event in question has definitively ended. I didn't really notice this was an issue until yesterday when I noticed that the main page said that the Solar eclipse of April 8, 2024 is visible through parts of North America. Knowing that it was not currently visible and double checking that the article referred to the event in the past tense, I changed this to was visible. [1] I did not realize that this is against the current consensus at WP:ITNBLURB which says that these events must always be described in the present tense. If one is interested in further background, I encourage them to read this discussion here (scroll down to errors).

I think that this status quo is misleading to readers because it cases like this, we are deliberately giving inaccurate and outdated information. I believe this is a disservice to our readers. The eclipse is not visible anymore, yet we must insist that it is indeed visible. I think that we should also be consistent... If the article for a blurb is using the past tense, we should use the past tense on the main page. Therefore, I propose that events listed on ITN that have definitively ended should be described in the past tense if it would otherwise mislead readers into thinking an event is ongoing. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 11:33, 10 April 2024 (UTC), edited 17:00, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Note: Notification of this discussion was left at Wikipedia talk:In the news.—Bagumba (talk) 12:00, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I propose that events listed on ITN that have definitively ended should be described in the past tense: But any blurb can be written in the past tense, e.g., a country was invaded, an election was won, a state of emergency was declared, etc. So if we did go to past tense, I don't understand why there is a distinction with needing to have "definitively ended".—Bagumba (talk) 12:07, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I made the distinction because I felt our current approach was the most jarring in situations where we're literally misleading the reader. I don't really have any strong preferences either way on other situations and felt like it'd be for the best to make sure my RfC was clear and not vague. I'm not trying to change every blurb at ITN right now, hence the "definitive end date" emphasis. If someone wants more broader changes to verb tense at the main page, I'd say that warrants its own separate discussion. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 12:16, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Note The blurb currently reads A total solar eclipse appears across parts of North America[2]Bagumba (talk) 12:33, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I was about to suggest a rewording along these lines… so that the blurb is accurate while maintaining present tense. Blueboar (talk) 12:45, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
It's better than flat out saying visible, but this phrasing still implies that it is visible? Present tense when an event has ended implies that an event is still ongoing. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 16:22, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Appear means to start to be seen or to be present.[3] It doesn't say that it continues to be seen. Perhaps the previous blurb's problem was that it resorted to using is, incorrectly implying a continuing state, not that a present-tense alternative was not possble(??)—Bagumba (talk) 06:34, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
To be present is to continue to be seen (by those looking, at least). I think you're misreading that as to start to be seen or present. That second to be matters here (and so it appears bold). InedibleHulk (talk) 22:30, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Support per nom, see no reason to oppose. Aaron Liu (talk) 13:19, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Per below, there isn'ta clear way forward for this one. On one hand, "Liechtenstein wins the FIFA World Cup" should definitely remain that way, but this also causes situations like these. Maybe something like unless this wording directly encourages a misleading interpretation that the event is still ongoing., using an earthquake in present tense and this event in past tense as examples. Or maybe we should just IAR such cases. Aaron Liu (talk) 16:30, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I don't think IAR is going to work as long as we don't have an explicit exemption because it'd be causing someone to explicitly go against consensus for their own ends. I switched the wording to "was visible" out of ignorance in regards to current standards, not because I was deliberately ignoring them. I think there might have been much more ado made about my actions if I had done this with a justification of IAR. I don't have issues with your proposed wording, because again, my biggest issue with all of this is intentionally misleading readers. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 16:39, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
@Aaron Liu: I've changed the proposal to have "if it would otherwise mislead readers into thinking an event is ongoing". Does that address your concerns? Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 17:03, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Support, though I find isaacl's alternative of including a time frame intriguing. Aaron Liu (talk) 17:11, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Comment for a lot of blurbs, the present tense is fine, as it continues to be true. e.g. elections, "X is elected leader of Y" is correct and better than past tense, and same with sports matches that end up on ITN. A blanket change to past tense is disingenuous therefore, although swapping to past tense for events that happened (and aren't ongoing) seems somewhat reasonable. Joseph2302 (talk) 13:55, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Isn't "Is elected" past tense? Though I agree that for situations where we can use the active voice, "Z legislature elects X as leader of Y" sounds better. Aaron Liu (talk) 14:05, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
"Is elected" is present tense, specifically present perfect. "Elects" is also present tense, simple present. Levivich (talk) 18:14, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I thought "is elected" is passive voice. Voters are doing the electing, the elected person is passive in this situation. In passive voice "elected" is a past participle (also sometimes called the passive or perfect participle). (Side note: present perfect in English usually takes "have/has" as an auxiliary verb) —⁠andrybak (talk) 23:00, 23 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I think for time-bound events such as the eclipse, including a time frame would be the best approach to avoid confusion. Additionally, I think using past tense is fine. isaacl (talk) 17:09, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I am in favor of past tense for everything. "Won the election," or "landslide killed 200" or "eclipse appeared" all read as fine to me. Newspapers using present tense makes sense because they publish every day (or more often). It doesn't make sense for ITN where items stay posted for days or weeks. Levivich (talk) 18:10, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Something about ITN mostly using present tense just feels... righter. Regardless of staying posted for weeks, they are all quite recent compared to most other stuff we have on the main page. Also see historical present. Aaron Liu (talk) 20:30, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I'll have what you're having. InedibleHulk (talk) 22:30, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Decide case-by-case: we can safely IAR in most cases. Cremastra (talk) 19:43, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • No special rules for the main page: use the same tense we would in articles. We are an encyclopedia not a newspaper. (t · c) buidhe 20:37, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Object The present tense serves us well. It is the standard tense for headlines, certainly within the UK and I believe US too (though some MoS in the US is very different to the UK). I can't see anything in the proposal beyond change for the sake of change. doktorb wordsdeeds 22:00, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Again, it is confusing to say that the solar eclipse is in the sky. Aaron Liu (talk) 22:05, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    It would be confusing to switch from "is....was....did....has" in a single box on a typical ITN week. doktorb wordsdeeds 22:28, 10 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    A typical ITN week does not have many blurbs that really need the past tense like the solar eclipse. Aaron Liu (talk) 02:37, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • We should use the correct tense. Someone does not "wins" an election or sports match, they won it. The eclipse, after it ended, was visible over North America, but "is" visible is factually inaccurate at that point (and before it starts to happen, we should say it will be visible). A political leader does not "makes" a statement, they made it. On the other hand, it may be accurate to say that a conflict is going on, or rescue efforts after a disaster are underway. So, we should use the natural, normal tense that accurately reflects the actual reality, as it would be used in the article. Seraphimblade Talk to me 06:02, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Object I don't think I agree with the premise that ITN blurbs are phrased in the present in the first place. It's in the historical present tense. "A 7.4-magnitude earthquake strikes near Hualien City, Taiwan" doesn't give the impression that the ground is still shaking. Nor does "A solar eclipse appears across parts of North America" read as "a solar eclipse is happening right now." Likewise, "Nobel Prize–winning theoretical physicist Peter Higgs (pictured) dies at the age of 94." doesn't need to be changed to "died at the age of 94", we know it's in the past, we're not under any illusions that he's still in the process of dying. It's phrased in such a way that doesn't really imply either past or present and just kind of makes sense either way. If an event is still happening, the blurb makes sense. And if the event is over, the blurb still makes sense. I think that's intentional.  Vanilla  Wizard 💙 07:33, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Actually, I think that "A 7.4-magnitude earthquake strikes near Hualien City, Taiwan" does give the impression that the ground is still shaking, or at least that it was shaking very recently. Even newspaper headlines avoid that, especially after the first day. "Hualien struck by massive earthquake" is a perfectly normal headline style. In fact, I find these actual headlines in the past tense:
    • Taiwan Struck by Deadly 7.4-Magnitude Earthquake
    • Taiwan shaken but unbowed as biggest quake in 25 years spotlights preparedness
    • Taiwan hit by powerful earthquake
    • Taiwan hit by its strongest quake in quarter-century, but death toll is low
    • Earthquake in Taiwan blamed for at least 9 deaths as buildings and roads seriously damaged
    • Taiwan hit by strongest earthquake in 25 years, killing 9
    WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:00, 20 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Agree that this is a normal headline style that we would do fine to adopt. But to my ear, the past participles in those examples sound more like examples of passive voice with zero copula, rather than past tense. -- Visviva (talk) 01:34, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Keep present tense as general recommendation per above. Discuss individual cases when this is too jarring. —Kusma (talk) 07:43, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • As an encyclopedia rather than a news agency, I would think past tense fits our vibe more. Archives of our frontpage would remain clearly accurate indefinitely. We are not reporting news, we are featuring a newly updated/written encyclopedic article on currently relevant events. ~Maplestrip/Mable (chat) 08:22, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Keep present tense. There is a difference between "X is happening" (which necessarily means right now, at this moment) and "X happens" (which os somewhat more vague). We should always use the second form, regardless of precise moment. As stated above, we even have statements like "an earthquake hits..." or "So and so dies", both of which are clearly over by the tine it gets posted. Animal lover |666| 19:12, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Object from a wp:creep standpoint To my knowledge there is no rule regarding this and it's just a practice. This would change it to having a rule. North8000 (talk) 19:25, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    How? The present tense rule was always written down there and this proposal does not make ITN a guideline. Aaron Liu (talk) 19:42, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • No, it should not – it's unencyclopaedic and ungrammatical. The Simple Present is used to describe habitual or continuous actions or states (the Sun sets in the West; he is a boot-and-shoe repairman; I'm Burlington Bertie, I rise at ten-thirty; Timothy Leary's dead etc). Events in the past are described using the Present Past when when no time is specified (the lunch-box has landed; London has fallen; mine eyes have seen the glory ...). When a time in the past is specified, the Simple Past is invariably used: in fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, in fourteen hundred and ninety-three, he sailed right back over the sea; today, I learned; well I woke up this morning and I looked round for my shoes. This is not rocket science. Ours is not a news outlet with a profit target to meet, we have no reason to have 'headlines', which are simply bits of news given some kind of extra urgency by being in the wrong tense. "Wayne Shorter dies!" immediately begs the question "really? how often?" So "A total eclipse of the Sun has occurred; it was visible in [somewhere I wasn't] from [time] to [time]". It gives the information, it's written in English, where's the problem? (NB there are two distinct present tenses in English, the Simple Present and the Present Continuous; the latter is used for things that are actually happening in this moment or about to happen in the future (I'm going down to Louisiana to get me a mojo hand; I’m walking down the highway, with my suitcase ...). Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 20:22, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    @Justlettersandnumbers: Reading your comment makes it sound like it supports of my proposal instead of opposing it? I don't understand the "no, it should not" unless there's something I'm not getting. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 21:10, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    @Clovermoss The title of your section begins with "Should the main page continue to use the present tense". Aaron Liu (talk) 22:49, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    And then the actual RfC itself is my proposal to change that for situations where this would be misleading readers. I'm not sure it's necessarily the best idea to be messing around with section names at this point but I'm open to suggestions that would help make this less confusing for people. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 22:53, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Eh, never mind. I decided to be bold and make it consistent with how CENT describes this discussion. Hopefully that helps things. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 23:15, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Given that WP:ITNBLURB currently has the guideline that "blurbs should describe events in complete sentences in the present tense," it does not seem like instruction creep to modify an existing rule. isaacl recommends including a time-frame, but I find this impractical for events that occur over multiple time zones. While this eclipse's article reports the event's span over the overall planet in UTC, this level of detail is too cumbersome for a main page blurb. Clovermoss' proposal limits itself to cases where the present tense would be confusing, which is preferable to an individual discussion for each perceived exception to the current guideline. BluePenguin18 🐧 ( 💬 ) 20:50, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Yes, the practice should continue - this is a perfectly normal idiomatic feature of English. Headlines are written in the present tense, just like 'in which...' in the chapter sub-headings of old novels, the summaries of TV episodes in magazines and on streaming services, and lots of other places where a reported past action is summarised. GenevieveDEon (talk) 21:33, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • How about, "is seen over North America" -- passive with present tense and past participle, anyone? :) Alanscottwalker (talk) 21:49, 11 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    That's a better solution than ending the practice of using the historical present tense. Though I think that suggestion is more likely to be implemented at WP:ERRORS than through a Village Pump policy proposal. (I'm also not entirely sure why this whole discussion isn't just at the ITN talk page since it doesn't affect any other part of the main page, but it's no big deal)  Vanilla  Wizard 💙 20:10, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    ERRORS is not the appropriate venue, given that the discussion that was there was removed. As for why it's here specifically, I figured anything regarding the main page was important, that a discussion here would invite more participants, and avoid the possibile issue of a local consensus. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 20:16, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I originally thought this suggestion was sarcastic, given the smiley face. If it is serious, I dislike it because "is seen" is extremely passive voice. Assuming there is a problem (which I don't think there is), the solution is not passive voice. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 20:22, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I don't think passive voices are that bad; while I agree that the active voice is usually preferred, do you really think that "North Americans see a total solar eclipse" is better? Aaron Liu (talk) 21:32, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    No. I think that the current iteration "A total solar eclipse appears across parts of North America" is perfect. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 21:37, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I was illustrating why the passive voice doesn't deserve to be demonized. Aaron Liu (talk) 21:42, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    In fairness, that discussion was removed specifically because ITN uses present tense and the discussion was proposing to change that, and ERRORS isn't the place for proposals to change how we do things. Alanscottwalker's suggestion also uses the present tense, so ERRORS would be a fine venue if they really wanted to see that change made. After all, that discussion at ERRORS is what resulted in the language being changed from "is visible" to "appears". I personally think appears is totally fine (I agree with CaptainEek that there is no problem), but if someone prefers "is seen", that's the place to do it.  Vanilla  Wizard 💙 20:33, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    That discussion only happened because I changed "is visible" to "was visible", prompting an errors report. I'd prefer "appeared" over "appears" since that implies that it is still indeed visible per the above discussion. It's better than "is visible", though. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 01:07, 13 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Keep present tense as ITN is supposed to summarize and collect news headlines and the present tense is standard in headlines. Pinguinn 🐧 00:05, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Keep using historical present I think a lot of supporters here are confusing the historical present (often used in news headlines) for the simple present. I would agree that the eclipse would have made sense to be an exception to that general rule, as was the focus in the original proposal here, but I wouldn't change the general rule. Anomie 12:04, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Currently, in this proposal, I see a codified exception for when using the present tense would be confusing that would only apply in cases like the solar eclipse. Aaron Liu (talk) 12:43, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    @Anomie, the lead of our article on the historical present says the effect of the historical present is "to heighten the dramatic force of the narrative by describing events as if they were still unfolding". I'm not convinced that making things sound more dramatic should be a goal for an encyclopedia, and I would not have guessed that you would support such a goal. Do you? WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:09, 20 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Keep historical present tense Headlines are most compelling and appropriate in the historical present tense. The NYTimes provides that "Headlines are written in the historical present tense. That means they written are in present tense but describe events that just happened."
    Out of curiosity, I perused the AP Stylebook (56th edition, 2022-2024), which surprisingly had almost nothing to say on tenses, though its section on headlines is generally instructive.

    "Headlines are key to any story. A vivid, accurate and fair headline can entice people to dig in for more. A bland, vague or otherwise faulty headline can push readers away. Often, a headline and photo are all that many readers see of a story. Their entire knowledge of the piece may based on those elements. Headlines must stand on their own in conveying the story fairly, and they must include key context. They should tempt readers to want to read more, without misleading or overpromising."

    How to best have a vivid headline? Present tense and active voice! One of Wikipedia's most frequent writing errors is using past tense and passive voice out of a misplaced assumption that it is more encyclopedic. But past and passive are weak. Present and active are better, and are what I have been taught in a wide multitude of writing courses and professional spaces. To add to the NYTimes, AP, and personal experience, I consulted my copy of Bryan Garner's Redbook (4th ed.), which while meant as a legal style guide, is useful in other areas. Regarding tense, in heading 11.32, it provides that "generally use the present tense." I then turned to the internet, which backed up the use of present tense in headlines: Grammar expert suggests present tense "Engaging headlines should be in sentence case and present tense." Kansas University on headlines: "Present tense, please: Use present tense for immediate past information, past tense for past perfect, and future tense for coming events."
    Using the historical present is best practice for headlines. That's not to say that there can't be exceptions, but they should be rare. As for the eclipse, it properly remains in the historical present. As a further consideration: if we are updating ITN tenses in real time, we are adding considerable work for ourselves, and we push ourselves truly into WP:NOTNEWS territory. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 18:35, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I don't think we're adding considerable work for ourselves. It takes a second or two in the rare situations that require it, anything else regarding the main page has much more work involved. We already update the articles in question, just not the blurb, which is a bit of a jarring inconsistency in itself. I don't understand the argument that the tense we should be using should be comparable to newspaper headlines because we're NOTNEWS? Could you elaborate a bit on your thinking there? Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 19:43, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    For the last part: they're mistaken that this proposal would require tenses to be updated to the past tense when any event ends, which is way too much effort to stay current which kinda does fall into NOTNEWS. (Note that this proposal would only require past tense if the historical present causes confusion) Aaron Liu (talk) 19:50, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    We are NOTNEWS. But as my comment above alludes to, ITN is a de facto news stream. Each entry in ITN is effectively a headline. Why try to reinvent the headline wheel? I'm afraid I have to disagree with Aaron's clarification, because Clover did change the tense after the event ended. It would have been incorrect to say "was" when the blurb first posted...because the eclipse was presently happening at that time. I'll add further that "otherwise mislead readers into thinking an event is ongoing" is an unhelpful standard. I don't buy that the average reader is going to be confused by a historical present headline. We read headlines all the time, and the average reader understands the historical present, even if they couldn't define it. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 20:18, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I have to disagree with you there. I think that when the main page stated that the eclipse "is visible", that was confusing to the average reader. It confused me, prompting me to check that the eclipse wasn't somehow ongoing. We were giving inaccurate information intentionally and I honestly don't see why we do this for the main page. Because it's interesting? Because newspapers do it before an event happens? Once the eclipse ended, newspapers referred to the event in the past tense as well. My decision to change it to "was visible" took one second (so not a considerable time investment, although everything that ensued certainly has been). Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 20:32, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Ah, that's my bad, the "is visible" language is also problematic for its passivity. I like the "appears" solution, and thought that was the original wording. But I think it would be improper to say "appeared." I'm not so sure I buy that newspapers were uniformly using past tense; again, the best practice for newspapers is to use the historical present. The time issue is ancillary to the best practice issue, I agree that the real time sink is the discussions that will surely result from implementing this rule. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 20:42, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I could show some examples if you'd like, since you don't seem to buy that newspapers were using the past tense after the eclipse appeared.
    • "A total eclipse of a lifetime appeared for hundreds of thousands of visitors and residents in the Hamilton-Niagara region" – Canadian Broadcasting Corporation [4]
    • "In middle America, the eclipse was a phenomenon" – Washington Post [5]
    • "During the event on April 8, 2024, one of these arcs was easily visible from where I stood, agape beneath our eclipsed, blackened star, in Burlington, VT." – Mashable [6]
    • "The great American eclipse appeared Monday, bringing the nation to a standstill as photographers captured stunning shots of the rare celestial event." – CNET [7]
    • "The total solar eclipse that swept across Mexico, the United States and Canada has completed its journey over continental North America." – CNN [8]
    I think that "appears" is better than saying "is visible" like the previous phrasing was before my intermediate change of "was visible" but it still runs into the issue of implying the eclipse is appearing somewhere. I agree with what InedibleHulk said above To be present is to continue to be seen (by those looking, at least). I think you're misreading that as to start to be seen or present. That second to be matters here (and so it appears bold). Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 21:14, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    The operative issue is that these are headlines from after the event. But the blurb got posted during the event. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 21:19, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    And the blurb stays days or weeks on the main page, where using the past tense would be more accurate than using present tense the entire time. I also think that having a clear exemption clause would prevent time sink discussions like this one, not cause them. It'd prevent us from needing to have a discussion every time something like this happens. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 21:25, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I think that this discussion would prevent some time sink over reluctance to IAR. And again, only a small number of events would need their tense changed. Aaron Liu (talk) 21:34, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Drop present tense and use the tense we'd use anywhere else on Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not a newspaper, even on the Main Page, and there's no reason we should obscure the timing of events for stylistic reasons. Loki (talk) 21:18, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    The tense we'd use anywhere else is, by default, present? WP:TENSE provides that By default, write articles in the present tense. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 21:22, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    MOS:TENSE says By default, write articles in the present tense, including those covering works of fiction (see Wikipedia:Writing better articles § Tense in fiction) and products or works that have been discontinued. Generally, use past tense only for past events, and for subjects that are dead or no longer meaningfully exist. We use past tense for past events like we do at the actual article linked in the ITN blurb: Solar eclipse of April 8, 2024. It's just the main page where we make the stylistic choice to not do that. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 21:31, 12 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • The present tense makes the main page read like a news ticker, which we are often at pains to explain it is not (e.g. WP:NOTNP). I would favour the past tense for all events that are not ongoing. If we cannot agree on that, I support the proposal to use the past if there might be a misunderstanding (partly in the hope that familiarity will lead to the past tense being used more and more in the future!). JMCHutchinson (talk) 11:06, 13 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Per WP:NEWSSTYLE, "As a matter of policy, Wikipedia is not written in news style ..." . ITN is especially embarrassing because its blurbs are often weeks old and so its use of the present tense is then quite misleading. It might help if the blurbs were dated to show how old they are. See OTD and the Spanish edition for examples. Andrew🐉(talk) 07:38, 18 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support the thing Clovermoss said we should do (to head off any confusion about whether "support" or "oppose" means to support or oppose making or not making a change, etc). jp×g🗯️ 06:30, 19 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Oppose any firm rule. The same style is used in the not-so-current-events sections of year pages, or at least those I've checked so far:
    • From 520: The monastery of Seridus, where Barsanuphius and John the Prophet lived as hermits, is founded in the region of Gaza
    • From 1020: King Gagik I of Armenia is succeeded by Hovhannes-Smbat III.
    • From 1920: A woman named Anna Anderson tries to commit suicide in Berlin and is taken to a mental hospital where she claims she is Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia.
    • From 2020: A total solar eclipse is visible from parts of the South Pacific Ocean, southern South America, and the South Atlantic Ocean.
  • Now maybe I'm being a bit OTHERSTUFFy here and it's year pages that should be fixed, but until that's done, it would seem really weird to describe 1000-year-old events with "is", but events from last week with "was". Suffusion of Yellow (talk) 21:48, 19 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    None of these except the 2020 one can be mistaken as things that are currently happening. Aaron Liu (talk) 22:20, 19 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • I think we should use the past tense for some events (e.g., any event that is definitively "finished") and present tense for those that are ongoing. I didn't see a single clear argument above for using the present tense for things that are completely finished [correction: except for CaptainEek, who wants to use historical past for the "vivid" dramatic effect]. There are comments about what label a grammarian would apply to it, and comments saying that this is the way we've always done it, but no comments giving a reason for why it's better for readers if we say that a ten-second earthquake from last week "is" happening instead of that it "did" happen. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:50, 20 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Because the historical present is a convention in English, period. There's also consistency with lists of past events, which also blocks useful things like moving navboxes to the See also. Aaron Liu (talk) 00:53, 20 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    The historical present is a convention in English. It is not the only convention, which means we could choose a different one. Why should we choose this convention? WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:01, 20 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    For consistency and compactness. Aaron Liu (talk) 02:51, 20 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    The amount of compactness is usually one character – the difference between is and was, or elects and elected. In other cases, it's the same or shorter: shook instead of shakes for earthquakes, died instead of dies for deaths. I don't think that sometimes saving a single character is worth the risk of someone misunderstanding the text, especially since we get so many readers who do not speak English natively.
    As for consistency, I think that being easily understood is more important than having parallel grammar constructions across unrelated items. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:28, 20 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    The historical present is not the convention anywhere on Wikipedia's main page. Just see today:
    ITN is the only possible exception and it's not using the historical present because it's not referring to history.
    Andrew🐉(talk) 12:37, 20 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • I don't think anything needs to be changed here style-wise, we just need to write better ITN blurbs. "Solar eclipse is visible" isn't the historical present and it isn't sensible either. -- asilvering (talk) 06:21, 22 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Not sure why this discussion isn't happening at WT:ITN, but stick with simple present as we have done for years. Stephen 09:49, 22 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    A notification has been at Wikipedia talk:In the news#Blurb tense for a while now. Putting this here attracts more attention.
    Most blurbs will not need to be changed to the past tense. Only things like "is visible" need to be changed. Aaron Liu (talk) 12:54, 22 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • The historical present should be taken behind the barn, shot, burned, and the ashes scattered to the four winds. --User:Khajidha (talk) (contributions) 14:02, 22 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Violently expressed dislike is not the same as a reasoned argument. The historic present is used widely in headlines, timelines, and other applications both on this site and elsewhere which are comparable to the ITN headlines. GenevieveDEon (talk) 14:16, 22 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Using present tense for completed events is ridiculous (which is even worse than wrong), no matter how much it may be used elsewhere. --~ User:Khajidha (talk) (contributions) 15:43, 22 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
But Wikipedia cares about consistency, present tense saves characters, and most events will not be confused as ongoing. Aaron Liu (talk) 15:48, 22 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
As I showed above, the present tense only occasionally saves characters, and the number of characters saved is most often one (1).
In my experience, the English Wikipedia cares more about clarity accuracy than about consistency. There are ~650 pages citing Emerson: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." (And now there is one more.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:30, 22 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
As you've said, I can't really articulate my thoughts on why we should use the historical present. I guess that's because not all grammar rules and conventions make sense either, yet they're usually prescribed. The most sense I could make is sort of "vividness": they emphasize that these events happen in the present day, as opposed to most of our content on the main page.
I also wish that Wikipedia didn't care so much about consistency, but it seems that we do, which has led to navboxes not being moved to the see also section and nearly all of them turned into the standard purple. Maybe that made me think to consistify the consistency. Aaron Liu (talk) 00:01, 23 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The rest of the main page uses past tense to refer to events that have occurred. The articles use the past tense to refer to past events. In the News isn't an up-to-the-moment news ticker; it points out articles that are related to current events. isaacl (talk) 00:14, 23 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Past, yes, but as you said they’re related to current events. These events are much more current than the rest of the main page and historical present emphasizes that.
Hopefully we have a rough consensus to at least put “otherwise confusing blurbs can you use the past tense” into the rules. Aaron Liu (talk) 00:17, 23 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The point is for the main page, using the same tense as the rest of the page, as well as the underlying articles, would be consistent. isaacl (talk) 01:26, 23 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The main page is just a reflection of the rest of the site. We don't need to force everything on the main page to be the same, and the underlying lists of stuff linked above also use historical present. Aaron Liu (talk) 11:14, 23 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The main page is just a reflection of the rest of the site. My understanding is that ITN blurbs are literally the only place we enforce this stylistic choice. It's inconsistent with the actual articles linked in the blurb. [9] I can't help but think that if this situation was the other way around (the status quo was to be consistent) that people would find the arguments for this unconvincing. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 11:19, 23 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Most of the site doesn't use blurbs, but all the year articles do. See Suffusion of Yellow's comment above. Aaron Liu (talk) 12:27, 23 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I suppose then my question is if there's a consensus for year pages that things must be done that way then because it's not otherwise a stylistic choice you see outside of ITN blurbs. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 15:02, 23 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
You brought up consistency as an argument. I feel a reader will notice inconsistency amongst sections of the main page more readily than between the In the News section and the year articles. There's no navigation path between the latter two, but readers can easily jump between sections of the main page. isaacl (talk) 16:26, 23 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Retain historical present. ITN blurbs are intentionally written in the style of news headlines, and that makes most sense given global usage on this point. It would be silly for Wikipedia to have a set of news items written differently from how every other outlet writes its news items. Cases like the eclipse can be handled on an individual basis, by rewriting the blurb into an alternative historical present form that removes the implication of ongoing nature. Arguably that blurb was simply badly structured in the first place as a normal headline wouldn't contain the word "is".  — Amakuru (talk) 09:50, 23 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Wikipedia is not trying to be a news outlet; it's an encyclopedia. The correct comparison is then with a site like Britannica. Today, this opens with coverage of Passover:

    April 23, 2024
    Different from All Other Nights
    Last night marked the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover, which commemorates the Hebrews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt and the “passing over” of the forces of destruction, or the sparing of the firstborn of the Israelites, on the eve of Exodus. This year’s celebration occurs against a backdrop of conflict—today also marks the 200th day in the Israel-Hamas War—and heightened concerns of rising anti-Semitism.

    This makes the temporal context quite clear by dating the item and then using tenses accordingly -- the past tense for "last night" and the present tense for "today". Presumably tomorrow they will have a different item as their lead to reflect the fact that the present has moved on. This seems exemplary -- quite clearly explaining what's happening today specifically.
    Andrew🐉(talk) 11:05, 23 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    What about the present tense of "occurs"? I don't think a very long holiday is a good example.
    Looking at a few of their MP blurbs, most of them are anniversaries. Hopefully someone can find more examples of current events. Aaron Liu (talk) 11:13, 23 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    It's just a matter of looking. Today, Britannica has another holiday as its featured article – Arbor Day. But it also has a section Behind the Headlines which is similar to our ITN in covering current affairs. This consistently uses the past tense:
    Question of immunity
    As Donald Trump sat in a Manhattan courtroom for the hush-money case regarding Stormy Daniels, the Supreme Court heard arguments as to whether the former president was immune from prosecution...
    Weinstein trial
    The 2020 rape conviction of Harvey Weinstein in New York was overturned on Thursday...
    Falling down the rat hole
    Chicago’s “rat hole”—a section of sidewalk bearing the imprint of a rat—has been shuttered...
    Andrew🐉(talk) 22:11, 27 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Use historical present I don't see why WP:NOTNEWS is being brought up, because in that case surely we should be advocating for the elimination of a section titled "In The News"? If ITN continues to exist, it should use the style common to most respected news publications—the historical present. ~~ AirshipJungleman29 (talk) 16:07, 28 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Not broken, don't fix. In the vast majority of cases, the current approach works perfectly fine and without any chance of confusion. In the very few cases where the blurb phrasing is ambiguous, that can be brought up at WP:ERRORS and an appropriate rephrasing found. We don't need a new rule here. Also, this RFC confuses ITN with the Main Page - present tense is only used in one section of the MP. Modest Genius talk 12:53, 29 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    All this does is make the present-tense rule less stringent so that it'd be easily overridden if needed. That's also what this new "rule" says. Aaron Liu (talk) 12:59, 29 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    ITN is part of the main page. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 15:51, 29 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I think what Modest is getting at is that "on the main page" is too general and may be misinterpreted to be about the entire main page. However, I don't think we should change the section header this far into the discussion either. Aaron Liu (talk) 15:52, 29 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Comment: I was curious about the assertion that most news organizations use the present tense, so I did a quick survey:
    • NYT: mix of present and past
    • AP: present
    • Reuters: present
    • BBC: mix
    • The Times: mix
    • LA Times: mix
  • (NB: I'm not watching this page, please ping.) LittlePuppers (talk) 17:03, 1 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • I noticed that the main page is currently using the past tense to describe an event (usage of seen in regards to the aurorae). My proposal supports this usage but it goes against the current version of the special rules for ITN which is always use present. I suppose my point is that the world hasn't ended and that I think my proposal still has merit. I also think this is leagues better than implying the aurorae is visible or appearing, which was my whole gripe with how we described the solar eclipse when it was on the main page. I'm not sure if this is a sign that my proposal has made any strides in convincing people that certain cases may warrant an exemption or if this will be considered an error that someone will try to fix. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 14:36, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    "Seen" is used somewhat as the participle here, so while I agree, I don't think this violates the current rules. Aaron Liu (talk) 14:41, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Wouldn't it be considered to be past participle, though? The current rules don't allow for anything to be written outside the present tense. Hopefully I'm not making a fool of myself and missing something obvious? Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 14:48, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    A series of solar storms impact Earth, creating aurorae (pictured) seen further from the poles than usual. Most of this reads to me as present tense, except the usage of "seen". However, I won't outrule the possibility I'm stupid and not understanding how English works. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 14:56, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    The verb that functions as a verb in the sentence is "impact", which is in the present tense. Aaron Liu (talk) 15:20, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I'm confused about what you mean by this. I understand what you're saying here but I don't understand the broader relevance to what I was talking about. I think I need to learn more about how the English language works, then. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 15:44, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    With hidden words, apparently. You can read that clause as "which were seen" or "which are seen", thus letting everyone believe that this clause was written "their" way. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:32, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    This does make sense to me. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 12:51, 14 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Discussion on this seems to be dying down a bit, so I decided to go through and reread the above discussion. It seems there's 14 people for my proposal and 14 against it. Obviously I'm biased here but I think there's stronger policy-based arguments on my side of the debate: WP:NOTNEWS, WP:NEWSSTYLE, MOS:TENSE, and consistency with almost every other part of the project. The arguments on the opposing side for keeping WP:ITNBLURB the way it is without any exemptions include: not broken, historical present/active writing sounds better, and that some newspapers use this in their version of ITN. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 12:51, 14 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • I have to support the gist of this, that "events listed on ITN that have definitively ended should be described in the past tense". Drop the part reading "if it would otherwise mislead readers into thinking an event is ongoing, to result in more consistent material (we really have no need to write about ended/past events in the present tense for any reason). In short, the front page needs to be written with the same accuracy and clarity as the rest of our material, including MOS:TENSE and any other applicable style and content guidelines. The wikiprojects that have arisen to manage particular boxes of content on the front page are not in a magically special position to make up their own rules that defy site-wide consensus on how our content needs to be written (per WP:CONLEVEL and WP:PROJPAGE).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:48, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Copy paste plagiarism from out of copyright materials.[edit]

Hi, I was just wondering what the correct template is for signalling articles which have copypasted text from an out of copyright source. This article is a word for word copy from this source, and I'm pretty sure that's not ok, so we must have a template. Boynamedsue (talk) 16:45, 7 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

It is ok, since the source is in the public domain and the text is properly attributed. There are many templates used to attribute the sources being copied, and that article uses one of them (Template:DNB). Firefangledfeathers (talk / contribs) 16:49, 7 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
In the early days, it was considered a good thing to copy articles from the 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica to fill in the gaps. Donald Albury 17:02, 7 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Many people (not the OP) don't seem to understand the difference between copyright violation and plagiarism. Copyright violation is the copying of copyrighted text with or without attribution against the terms of the copyright licence (with an allowance for "fair use" in nearly all jurisdictions). Plagiarism is the passing off of someone else's work as one's own, whether the work is copyrighted or not. This is not copyright violation, because it is out of copyright, and not plagiarism, because it is properly attributed. Phil Bridger (talk) 17:47, 7 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
So, let me get this straight, are users saying that it is ok to copypaste text from an out of copyright text as long as that text is attributed? This feels very wrong, which wikipolicies allow this?Boynamedsue (talk) 22:19, 7 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
See the content guideline at Wikipedia:Plagiarism. While at least some editors would prefer that such material be rewritten by an editor, there is no prohibition on copying verbatim from free sources; it is allowed as long as proper attribution to the original source is given. Donald Albury 22:39, 7 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I think it needs to be done with considerable caution if at all, and it just seems like a less ideal option in almost every case, save for particular passages that are just too hard to rewrite to the same effect. But I think the consensus is that it is allowed. Remsense 01:20, 8 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Copyright has a limited term (though these days, in many countries, a very long one) precisely to allow the work of the past to be built upon to generate new creative works. isaacl (talk) 01:48, 8 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Nothing new is generated when you copy something verbatim. Traumnovelle (talk) 08:43, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Remixing from sampled works is increasingly common. Imitating other people's work is done to learn new styles. Jazz music specifically has a tradition of incorporating past standards into new performances. Critical analysis can be more easily placed in context as annotations. And from an educational standpoint, more people can learn about/read/watch/perform works when the barrier to disseminating them is lessened. What's in copyright today is the source of new widely-spread traditional works in the future. isaacl (talk) 14:44, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Aye, every time you read a poem it's a new translation. If this were Wikiversity, I think there'd actually be a lot of room for interesting experiments remixing\ PD material. Remsense 14:46, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
You wrote a lot but none of it actually addresses what I've said. Traumnovelle (talk) 15:33, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I gave examples of new creative works that have copied past work verbatim. isaacl (talk) 04:11, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Actually, comparing the two, and looking at the edit history, it is not at all true that "...This article is a word for word copy from this source." Much has been changed or rewritten (and many of the spicy bits removed). This is fairly typical for this sort of biography, I would say. Johnbod (talk) 02:48, 8 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, I was a bit imprecise there, it is the first three to four paragraphs of the life section that are directly lifted word for word. I'm just a little shocked at this as anywhere other than wikipedia this would be classified as gross plagiarism.Boynamedsue (talk) 05:21, 8 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
If it's clearly noted as an excerpt (and not just a reference) I wouldn't feel able to say that. However like I've said above, the number of cases where this would be the best option editorially is vanishingly few for an excerpt of that length. Remsense 05:22, 8 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
(As such, I've explicated the attribution in the footnote itself, not just the list of works.) Remsense 05:37, 8 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Collecting, copying or reproducing high quality, classic writings on a topic is quite common in publishing. See anthology, for example. Andrew🐉(talk) 20:54, 8 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
That is true, but publishing big chunks of it unchanged as part of a new book under a new name, without specifically stating that this text was written by someone else is not. If you cite someone else, you have to use different language, unless you make it clear you are making a direct quotationBoynamedsue (talk) 21:01, 8 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
But the article does (and did) specifically state that it was written by someone else. Phil Bridger (talk) 21:31, 8 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
It didn't. It cited a source, that is not the same as stating the text was a direct quotation from that source. It now states: "This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain" which is an improvement but does not differentiate between which parts are direct quotes and which use the source properly.Boynamedsue (talk) 21:40, 8 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
That seems very unneeded, as no one is claiming specific authorship of this article, and as the material used for derivation has long been linked to so that one can see what that version said. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 21:50, 8 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Anywhere but wikipedia, passing off someone else's words as your own is plagiarism. The kind of thing that people are rightly sacked, kicked out of universities or dropped by publishers for. This includes situations where a paper is cited but text is copy-pasted without being attributed as a quote.
I'm more than a little shocked by this situation, but if so many experienced editors think that it's ok, there's not much I can do about it.Boynamedsue (talk) 22:00, 8 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
That's because we aren't trying to impress the teacher with our sooper riting skilz. We're providing information to the WP:READER, who isn't supposed to care who wrote what. This is fundamentally a collective effort. Note the tagline is "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia" not "By Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia". There exist WP:FORKS of Wikipedia where 99.9% of the content is unchanged. Are they plagiarizing us?
An analogy that might help is the stone soup. If you grew the carrots yourself, great! But if you legally gleaned them instead, so what? The soup is still tastier. Suffusion of Yellow (talk) 22:27, 8 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Yeah, wiki-mirrors are clearly plagiarising wikipedia, even though they are breaking no law. Wikipedia is a collective effort of consenting wikipedians, it is not supposed to be a repository of texts stolen from the dead. That's wikisource's job.Boynamedsue (talk) 22:34, 8 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
A Wikipedia article doesn't proport to be your work. They are a collaborative effort by multiple people. The fact that some of these people are long dead before this text shows up here is irrelevant. If copying from a PD source, you certainly should make it clear where the text is from, but it's not an absolute requirement. Additionally, if a statement of the source wasn't done by the revsion author, it can be done subsequently by anyone else (assuming no blocks or bans forbid this particular person from editing this particular article). Animal lover |666| 15:28, 9 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I don't see why it would be acceptable for it not to be made clear. Once more, there's a distinction between copyvio and plagiarism—the fault with the latter for our purposes broadly being that readers are not adequately made aware of where what they are reading came from. The obvious default assumption of any reader is that they are reading something a Wikipedia editor wrote. Tucked away as it is, there is an edit history that lists each contributing editor. This is not superfluous context to me, it's about maintaining a sane relationship between editors and audience. Even if there's potentially nothing wrong with it divorced from social context, in terms of pure claims and copyright law—we don't live in a media environment divorced from social context, there's no use operating as if we don't meaningfully exist as authors and editors. Remsense 15:34, 9 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
By the way, plagiarizing Wikipedia would be a copyright violation, since Wikipedia texts are released under a license that requires attribution. Same can't be said for PD texts. Animal lover |666| 18:43, 9 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
When EB1911 was published, copyright in the United Kingdom expired seven years after the author's death, so "the dead" would probably just be surprised that it took so long for their work to be reprinted. Wikipedia exists to provide free content, the defining feature of which is that it can be reused by anyone for any purpose (in our case, with attribution). So it shouldn't really be surprising that experienced editors here are generally positive about reusing stuff. – Joe (talk) 19:18, 9 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The stuff you are claiming is "plagiarized" is getting far better attribution than most of the writing in Wikipedia. Most of the contributing writers get no credit on the page itself, it is all in the edit history. I'm not sure whose writing you think we're passing this off as. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 15:19, 9 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I think simply being stated at the bottom is pretty much exactly the level of credit editors get—for me to feel comfortable with it it should be stated inline, which is what I added after the issue was raised. Remsense 15:21, 9 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
To be fair I think the only reason these things tend to be noted with a template at the bottom of the article is that the vast majority of public domain content was imported in the project's early days, as a way of seeding content, and back then inline citations were barely used. – Joe (talk) 19:23, 9 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Uh, what are we going to do, dock their pay? jp×g🗯️ 07:42, 10 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Was thinking more along the lines of tagging the text or reverting, a talkpage message and possibly blocks for recidivists. But like I said earlier, it appears that the consensus is that things are fine how they are. World's gone mad, but what am I off to do about it? Nowt. Boynamedsue (talk) 08:14, 10 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The text you're worried about was added twelve years ago by a user who that has been blocked for the last eleven years (for, wait for it... improper use of copyrighted content). I think that ship has sailed. – Joe (talk) 08:24, 10 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
There you go, gateway drug.Boynamedsue (talk) 08:27, 10 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I don't think that hypothesis is replicable. Alpha3031 (tc) 09:58, 10 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • There does appear to be a consensus that such works need to be attributed somehow, and despite whatever disagreement there is, the disagreement in substance appears to be how that is done. What we are doing in these instances is republication (which is a perfectly ordinary thing to do), and yes we should let the reader know that is being done, but I'm not seeing a suggestion for changing how we do that. Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:53, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    It seems to me that the OP asked a question and got an answer, and discussion since has been extracurricular. Remsense 14:57, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Sure, but the OP does have a point that the more the use of the work looks like our work and not someone else's work, the more it looks like plagiarism. For example, putting a unique sentence in from another's work, and just dropping a footnote, like all the other sentences in our article, is not enough, in that instance you should likely use quotation marks and even in line attribution. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:19, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I think, as with most things, it depends on the situation. Plagiarism is not just the use of words without attribution, but ideas. An idea that has general acceptance might get attributed inline once in an article if it is associated strongly with a specific person or set of persons. But every mention of DNA's double helix doesn't have to be accompanied with an attribution to Watson and Crick. If some info about a person is written up by a reporter in a now public-domain source, for many cases it's probably not too essential to have inline attribution when including that info in an article. If it's something that reporter was known for breaking to the public, then it would be relevant. isaacl (talk) 15:43, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    But that was not the situation being discussed, it was word for word, copying the work. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:48, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Sure; just underscoring that if the concern is plagiarism, it applies more broadly to the restatement of ideas. Rewording a sentence doesn't prevent it from being plagiarism. Even with a sentence being copied, I feel the importance of an inline attribution depends on the situation, as I described. isaacl (talk) 15:55, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Sure, but that is similar a simple phrase alone, like 'He was born.' cannot be copyrighted nor the subject of plagiarism. Now if you use the simple phrase 'He was born.' in a larger poem and someone baldly copies your poem in large part with the phrase, the copyist violated your copyright, if still in force, and they did plagiarize. Alanscottwalker (talk) 16:19, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Yes, copying a poem likely warrants inline attribution, so... it depends on the situation. isaacl (talk) 16:24, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    And that's the issue raised, regarding republication on wiki, is it currently enough to address plagiarism. Alanscottwalker (talk) 16:35, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I think the need for inline attribution depends in the same way as for content still under copyright. The original question only discussed the copyright status as a criterion. I don't think this by itself can be used to determine if inline attribution is needed. isaacl (talk) 16:43, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    As plagiarism and copyright are two different, if sometimes related, inquiries. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:08, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    >If some info about a person is written up by a reporter in a now public-domain source, for many cases it's probably not too essential to have inline attribution
    It absolutely is essential per WP:V. Traumnovelle (talk) 15:49, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Attribution is required. Inline attribution is not (that is, stating the source within the prose). isaacl (talk) 15:58, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    It still requires sourcing. Traumnovelle (talk) 16:06, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Yes, attribution is sourcing. isaacl (talk) 16:15, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I think, better to distinguish the two. Attribution is explicitly letting the reader know these words, this idea, this structure came from someone else, whereas sourcing is letting the reader know you can find the gist or basis for the information in my words, there. Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:16, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    My apologies for being unclear. I was responding to the statement that inline attribution absolutely is essential. Providing a reference for the source of content is necessary. Providing this information within the prose, as opposed to a footnote, is not. isaacl (talk) 19:57, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Certainly, it is possible to put explicit attribution in the footnote parenthetical or in an efn note. (I think your response to this might be , 'it depends' :))Alanscottwalker (talk) Alanscottwalker (talk) 20:18, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I think you might be talking past each other. isaacl is simply stating that WP:V requires attribution, it does not require any particular method of attribution. What method of attribution is preferable in a given place is not a matter for WP:V. Thryduulf (talk) 23:55, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Should be be providing in-line attribution for every sentence on Wikipedia to let the reader know which editor wrote which part of it? Wikipedia isn't an academic paper, as long as we can verify that there are no copyright issues with the content (such as an attribution-required license), attribution doesn't matter. --Ahecht (TALK
    19:32, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Surely there's some reasonable position between "attribution doesn't matter" and "attribute every sentence inline". Remsense 09:06, 14 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Yah, sorry those two extremes certainly don't follow from each other (Nor does the comment you are responding to discuss inline). The guideline is WP:Plagiarism and it does not go to those extremes on either end. (Also, Wikipedia does publically attribute each edit to an editor, and it does not need to be in the article, it is appendixed to the article.) -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 10:51, 14 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Around 2006, I reworked a copy-pasted EB1911 biography about a 16th century person, it took me about a week. It has stood the test of time, and remains to this day a pretty good article despite having the same structure and modified sentences. The lead section is entirely new, and there are new sources and section breaks and pictures etc.. but the bulk of it is still that EB1911 article (reworded). I do not see the problem with this. Disney reworked Grimms tales. Hollywood redoes old stories. Sometimes old things are classics that stand the test of time, with modern updates. -- GreenC 16:44, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I think everybody is fine with articles which are largely based on a single source when they are reworded. It's not the platonic ideal, but it is a good start. The problem we are discussing is when people don't bother to reword. Well, I say problem, I have been told it's not one, so there's nothing left to say really.--Boynamedsue (talk) 20:06, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
If you actually just reword a source like 1911, you should still use the 1911 template, and no, the thing you have not explained is why the template is not enough. Alanscottwalker (talk) 20:29, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Oppose. This proposal is WP:GREATWRONGS. The article John Leslie, 1st Duke of Rothes is perfectly fine. It does not violate any policy, guideline or consensus. There is nothing objectionable about that article. The proposal to rewrite the article would not improve the article and would result only in disruption. The proposal to put a template on the article solely to disparage the inclusion of public domain content in the article would result only in disruption. It would be disruptive to discuss this proposal further, because this proposal is disruptive, because this proposal is WP:GREATWRONGS. James500 (talk) 18:50, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Huh? There is no proposal. Also, there has long been a template used on the article. Your attempt to shut down discussion is also way, way off, (and your RGW claim is risible). Alanscottwalker (talk) 20:12, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I propose all WP:GREATWRONGS should be righted immediately.Boynamedsue (talk) 20:06, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    WP:IAR! Alanscottwalker (talk) 20:12, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Amongst other things, the OP said that copying public domain text, with the correct attribution, "feels very wrong". James500 (talk) 20:49, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
So, WP:GREATWRONGS is applicable whenever anyone uses the word "wrong"?Boynamedsue (talk) 20:59, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Only when great. -- GreenC 15:44, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Oppose any change to the practice of incorporating public domain content. Wikipedia is not an experiment in creative writing. It is an encyclopedia. It's sole and entire purpose is to convey information to readers. If readers can be informed through the conveyance of text that has entered the public domain, then this should not only be permissible, it should be applauded. BD2412 T 20:52, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Again, there is no proposal to do something different. The OP apparently forgot about things like anthologies and republication of out of copyright (like eg. all of Jane Austin's work, etc), but than when such matter was brought to his attention, retrenched to whether attribution was explicit (which we already do) enough, but has never explained what enough, is proposed. Alanscottwalker (talk) 22:24, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    The proposal was to create a maintenance template that encourages editors to delete all text copied from public domain sources from all Wikipedia articles, even if that text is correctly attributed, simply because it is copied from a public domain source. He actually tried to tag the article with Template:Copypaste (alleging copyright infringement), despite the fact that the content is public domain and was correctly attributed at the time, with the Template:DNB attribution template. James500 (talk) 23:49, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    That's not a proposal, he asked what template is appropriate, and he was given the list of templates at Template:DNB. Alanscottwalker (talk) 00:49, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • oppose the existence of a proposal: I would like to clarify, wherever people think they are seeing a proposal, there isn't one. I asked a question about what tag to use when people plagiarise out of copyright texts. I got an answer I think is stupid and expressed incredulity for a couple of posts. Then, when I realised that people were indeed understanding what I was talking about, said if so many experienced editors think that it's ok, there's not much I can do about it. WP:NOVOTE has never been more literally true, there is nothing to vote on here...Boynamedsue (talk) 04:07, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Support not adding any more bold-face votes. Suffusion of Yellow (talk) 04:19, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Alanscottwalker says above that the more the use of the work looks like our work and not someone else's work, the more it looks like plagiarism.

Animal lover says above that A Wikipedia article doesn't proport to be your work. They are a collaborative effort by multiple people. The fact that some of these people are long dead before this text shows up here is irrelevant.

I think this is a difference in how people implicitly view it. The first view says "A Wikipedia article is written by people who type the content directly into the editing window. If your username isn't in the article's history page, then your words shouldn't be in the article. Article content should come exclusively from Wikipedia editors. If it doesn't, it's not really a Wikipedia article. This is our implicit promise: Wikipedia is original content, originally from Wikipedia editors. If it's not original content, it should have a notice to the reader on it to say that we didn't write it ourselves. Otherwise, we are taking credit for work done by someone who is them and not-us in an us–them dichotomy".

The second view says "A Wikipedia article is a collection of text from different people and different places. Where it came from is unimportant. We never promised that the contents of any article came from someone who directly edited the articles themselves. It's silly to say that we need to spam an article with statements that bits and pieces were pasted in from public domain sources. We wouldn't countenance 'written by a random person on the internet' in the middle of article text, so why should we countenance a disclaimer that something was 'previously published by a reliable source'? I don't feel like I'm taking credit for any other editor's article contributions, so why would you think that I'm claiming credit for something copied from a public domain source?"

If you the first resonates strongly with you, then it's shocking to see {{PD-USGov}} and {{EB1911}} content casually and legally inserted into articles without telling the reader that those sentences had previously been published some place else. OTOH, if you hold the opposite view, then the first probably seems quite strange. As this is a matter of people's intuitive feelings about what Wikipedia means, I do not see any likelihood of editors developing a unified stance. WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:56, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

This is a reasonable summary of the issue. I think many of those who hold the first view work in or have close ties to fields where plagiarism is considered a very bad thing indeed. Academic and publishing definitions of plagiarism include using the direct words of another writer, even when attributed, unless it is explicitly made clear that the copied text is a direct quotation. For people who hold that view outside of wikipedia, the existence of large quantities of plagiarised text would detract seriously from its credibility and validity as a project.Boynamedsue (talk) 07:07, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I work in publishing, and there is plenty of space there where such specificities are not generally called for. If one is doing an abridged edition, children's edition, or updated version of a book, one credits the work which one is reworking but does not separate out phrase by phrase of what is from that source. Much the same goes, of course, for film adaptations, music sampling, and so on. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 16:28, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I think the difference there is that you are giving primary credit to the original author, and your work is voluntarily subsumed into theirs (while of course correctly stating that it is a Children's version or an abridged edition, giving editor credits etc.). In wikipedia, we are taking other people's work and subsuming it into ours.--Boynamedsue (talk) 16:37, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I think the dichotomy is useful but I doubt anyone can subscribe to the pure form of either position. If I had to guess, I would assume most editors would agree with most of the sentences in both statements when presented in isolation. Remsense 07:13, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
No. Your characterization is too gross to be useful and your made up dichotomy is just silly. We have those templates precisely because we try to give credit where credit is due, per WP:PLAGIARISM, so there is nothing shocking at all about {{PD-USGov}} and {{EB1911}} content. Sure, there are other ways to do it, than those templates, even so. Plagiarism is not a law, so your reference to the law makes no sense. But what is the law is, Wikipedia has to be written by persons, who can legally licence what they put on our pages, and if you did not write it you can't release it, nor purport to release it nor make it appear you are releasing under your licence, when you can't and you aren't. And Wikipedia does not warrant we offer good information either, in fact Wikipedia disclaims it in our disclaimer, that does not mean Wikipedian's don't care about good information. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 10:23, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Wikipedia is written by people who freely license their contributions by the act of editing. But, public domain material is already free, does not need to be licensed, and so can be freely added to Wikipedia. Material that has been released under a free license can also be freely added to Wikipedia, subject to the conditions of the license, such as attribution (although we cannot copy material under a license that does not allow commercial use, but that has nothing to do with this discussion). There is no policy, rule, or law that Wikipedia has to be written by persons (although the community currently is rejecting material written by LLMs). Reliable content is reliable whether is written by Wikipedia editors based on reliable sources, or copied from reliable sources that are in the public domain or licensed under terms compatible with usage in Wikipedia. I believe that we should be explicitly citing everything that is in articles, even if I know that will not be happening any time soon. We should, however, be explicitly citing all public domain and freely-licensed content that is copied into Wikipedia, being clear that the content is copied. One of the existing templates or a specific indication in a footnote or in-line citation is sufficient, in my opinion. Donald Albury 14:43, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, you cannot present it as if you are licencing it (and indeed requiring attribution to you!) which is what you do if just copy the words into an article and don't say, in effect, 'this is not under my licence this is public domain, that other person wrote it.' (Your discussion of LLM's and what not, is just beside the point, you, a person, are copying, not someone else.) And your last point, we are in radical agreement certainly (about letting the reader know its public domain that other person wrote it, and that's what the templates try to do) we are not in a dichotomy, at all. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:28, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Alan, I think your response makes me more certain that my two polar ends are real. You're working from the viewpoint that if it's on the page, and does not contain words like "According to EB1911" outside of a little blue clicky number and outside of the history page, then the editor who put that text there is "purporting" that the text was written by that editor.
There's nothing in the license that requires is to let the reader know that it's public domain or that another person wrote it. You know that a quick edit summary is 100% sufficient for the license requirements, even if nothing in the text or footnotes mentions the source. The story you present sounds like this to me:
  • The license doesn't require attribution for public domain content.
  • Even if it did, it wouldn't require anything more visible than an edit summary saying "Copied from EB1911".
  • So (you assert) there has to be in-text attribution ("According to EB1911, a wedding cake...") or a plain-text statement at the end of the article ("This article incorporates text from EB1911") to the public domain, so the casual, non-reusing reader knows that it wasn't written by whichever editor posted it on the page.
This doesn't logically follow. I suspect that what you've written so far doesn't really explain your view fully. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:44, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
No. Your false dichotomy has already been shown to be of no value. Now you add to your baseless assumptions about clicky numbers and what not. I think that editors add content to Wikipedia under the license (otherwise we would have no license), yet I also think we need to tell the reader that the matter comes from somewhere else, when it comes from somewhere else. None of that should be hard to understand for anyone. (And besides, article histories are not secrets, they are public and publicly tied to text available to the reader and anyone else.) It's just bizarre that you would imagine an unbridgeable void, when basically everyone is saying that a disclosure should be made, and they are only really discussing degrees and forms of disclosure. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:13, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, a disclosure should be made, and it was made. Phil Bridger (talk) 18:51, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, indeed, and that is why the discussion is about form. Alanscottwalker (talk) 19:14, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Alan, I don't agree that the spectrum I describe is a false dichotomy, or that anyone has even attempted to show whether it has value, though I gather that you happen to disagree with it.
I don't agree that the CC-BY-SA license requires disclosure of the source of public domain material. I think that's a question for a bunch of lawyers to really settle, but based on my own understanding, it does not. I think that Wikipedia should have such requirements (e.g, in Wikipedia:Public domain, which notably does not mention the CC-BY-SA license as a reason to do so; instead, it says only that this is important for Wikipedia's reliability), but I don't think we have any reason to believe that the license does. This distinction may seem a little like hairsplitting, but if we propose to change our rules about how to handle these things, we should be accurate about what's required for which reasons. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:00, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
It should not take a lawyer to tell you that to grant a licence you first have to have a right, and that you should not be misrepresenting that you have right when you don't. A lawyer can't give you the ability to be honest. You're not proposing to change rules, and indeed there is no proposal here, so that proposal talk of yours is irrelevant at best. (As for your false dichotomy, it is just a figment of your imagination, a useless piece of rhetoric, where you pretend you know what others think.) Alanscottwalker (talk) 21:37, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Issues from Deletion Review[edit]

Here are two otherwise unrelated issues that have recently come up at Deletion Review.

Non-Admin Close as No Consensus[edit]

More than once in recent months, there has been an appeal to Deletion Review where a non-admin closed an Articles for Deletion discussion as No Consensus, and one of the questions at DRV was whether the close was a bad non-administrative close. The language in question is

A non-admin closure is not appropriate in any of the following situations:… The outcome is a close call (especially where there are several valid outcomes) or likely to be controversial.

It seems clear to some editors that a non-administrative close of No Consensus is almost always wrong, or at least may be overturned by an admin and then should be left for the admin. If it is correct that No Consensus is almost always a close call or that No Consensus is often likely to be controversial, then I suggest that the guideline be clarified to state that a non-administrative close of No Consensus is discouraged and is likely to be contested. If, on the other hand, it is thought that No Consensus is sometimes an obvious conclusion that can be found by a non-admin, then the guideline should be clarified in that respect.

Robert McClenon (talk) 05:18, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Any outcome can be controversial. But not all no-consensus outcomes are controversial. -- GreenC 17:03, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
If DRV has a strong consensus that the correct closure for some deletion discussion is "No Consensus", that's certainly not a controversial closure. As such, such a closure can be done and implemented by a non-admin. The DRV closure doesn't actually judge the original thread, only its DRV discussion. Animal lover |666| 17:35, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I agree with GreenC. Controversial discussions and discussions which do not reach consensus are overlapping sets but neither is a subset of the other. There are XfDs where it is clear to anybody with experience of Wikipedia that there is no and will be no consensus, there is no and should be no requirement to be an admin to close those discussions (the first example of a discussion that would clearly be suitable for a no-consensus NAC was Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Réseau Art Nouveau Network). Thryduulf (talk) 19:14, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I just want to throw out there that we really should have a category for trusted non-admin editors for discussion closures. There are editors with tremendous experience and a solid and well-demonstrated grasp of policies and procedures who for whatever reason have never become admins, and whose discussion closures should be given more consideration than relative newbies first experimenting with closures. BD2412 T 20:58, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Frivolous filings at DRV[edit]

Sometimes a filing at Deletion Review is frivolous because it does not identify any issue with the close or any error, and does not identify circumstances that have changed. Occasionally a request for Deletion Review misstates the facts. In one recent case, for instance, the appellant stated that there was only one Delete !vote, when there were three. Some of the editors have wondered whether there is some alternative to having such filings open for a week of discussion. Should there be a provision for Speedy Endorse, comparable to Speedy Keep 1 and Speedy Keep 3 at AFD? Robert McClenon (talk) 05:18, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Sure why not. If the nom doesn't like it, they can start a new DRV with the problem addressed. Sometimes that gives the nom time to reconsider and refactor in a new light, and they won't follow through. Sometimes it energizes them to create a really good rationale improving their chances of success. Either way it's helpful. And risky for whoever issues the Speedy. The speedy has to be done before too many people engage otherwise it will alienate and irritate the participants whose thoughtful comments are buried. -- GreenC 17:16, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Yes. "Speedy Endorse" should be allowed in situations parallel to any Speedy Keep rationale; as with Speedy Keep closures, they address the DRV discussion and not the underlying XFD discussion, and as such are no prejudice closures if the new discussion doesn't have the same issue. Animal lover |666| 17:40, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I agree with GreenC and Animal Lover. Although if other editors have also identified issues with the XfD close despite the inadequate nomination then a speedy close of the DRV is unlikely to be appropriate. Thryduulf (talk) 18:54, 12 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
A user could create a DRV discussion on an inappropriate closure without expressing adequate justification, or while banned from the topic of the underlying article, each of these would be a speedy endorse if caught by someone who supports, or has no opinion on, the original closure. (Someone who supports it could give a justification in the first case, or merely support changing the closure in the second, and prevent any speedy endorse.) Animal lover |666| 05:44, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Most of these, in my experience, are already speedy-closable per WP:DRVPURPOSE #8, including your motivating example. We, insanely, don't enforce that. Why would you think that, if we added another similar rule, about statements that are less obviously made in bad faith, that we'd enforce it any more consistently? —Cryptic 10:56, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Of course we allow speedy closes. Maybe they've just gone out of style since I was active there? See for a list of speedy closes I've done at DRV. RoySmith (talk) 14:52, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Moved to WT:Deletion Review

It should be Speedy Close[edit]

Thank you for your comments. It occurs to me, based on further reviewing at DRV, that the provision should not be called Speedy Endorse, but Speedy Close, because some of the DRV's that should be closed in this manner are not really endorses because they are not really deletion reviews, but mistaken filings. There is one today which appears, after machine-translation from Romanian, to be about the deletion of an article in the Romanian Wikipedia. I have also seen Deletion Review requests where the nominator wanted to delete an article, and thought that a deletion review discussed whether to delete the article. So I think that I will take this discussion to the DRV talk page to try to discuss the wording of criteria for Speedy Closes at DRV, which will then probably be followed by an RFC. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:47, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Should DRV be semi-protected?[edit]

I have one more policy idea about Deletion Review. Should Deletion Review, and its daily subpages, be semi-protected? I have occasionally seen Deletion Reviews started by unregistered editors, but I have never seen a reasonable Deletion Review initiated by an unregistered editor. Unregistered editors cannot nominate articles or miscellaneous pages for deletion because those involve creation of a subpage for the deletion discussion. They can start deletion reviews, but I see no encyclopedic purpose that requires that one be logged out or not have a valid account or not have an unblocked account in order to request deletion review. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:47, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Unless there are sufficiently many bad filings by new and unregistered users that they are disruptive then semi-protection seems like a solution in search of a problem. Thryduulf (talk) 08:17, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
While reasonable drvs initiated by ips and non-autoconfirmed users are rare, there are a handful of sensible, longtime IP contributors to DRV - I'm thinking in particular, though there are others. —Cryptic 10:46, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Access date[edit]

Recently, Jax 0677 (talk · contribs) was using {{better source needed}} on Dia Frampton to indicate that the "access date" field was anachronistic to the content being cited by the source. This is obviously not the right citation template, as it gives the implication of "we need a more reliable source than Billboard itself for Billboard charts". What would be the right template to say "anachronistic access date"? Or should you just go in and fix it yourself? Ten Pound Hammer(What did I screw up now?) 00:09, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

There are several possible unrelated causes. I sometimes see that situation when a fact is cited using a temporally-consistent cite, and then a later fact is added with no update to the cite. The first table entry is reasonable from the original access-date. It's only the second row that is anachronistic. So either the editor who added it did not look for a cite at all or did not update the access-date when they did use that ref. Looking at the ref, either it does support, in which case the solution is to update the ref, or it does not support, in which case {{failed verification}} on the specific entry. I agree that {{bsn}} is clearly the wrong tag. DMacks (talk) 00:23, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Perhaps {{update source}}? Masem (t) 00:35, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, that's the one. Safari ScribeEdits! Talk! 22:22, 14 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

COI guidelines[edit]

When I first came on board as a Wiki editor, I thought what I was learning about COI meant that anyone with even the slightest connection to the subject of a Wiki article couldn't edit or write on that subject in Wikipedia. Now I've come to understand that it actually IS possible as long as the editor makes an official COI declaration. I'd have saved myself a few months of real concern about the fairness of this rule for a couple of topics on which I believed I could make a helpful contribution with a balanced perspective, if I'd grasped that COI doesn't automatically prohibit if disclosed. Like the disclosures that journalists make in stories to which they add "full disclosure" announcements about any connections they have to the subject that might cause assumptions of possible bias.

What I'd like to suggest to Wikipedia policymakers is that this important point about COI be made as clear as possible in all documentation about it. Then other editors — especially newbies, as I was when this issue came up for me — won't stumble around in the dark as to what they can and can't work on — at least, legitimately.

I realize that trying to ensure 100% clarity on this could be challenging, especially because a lot of what we learn about COI is not just through COI-related documentation but also through Teahouse and Help Desk discussions. Still, senior editors can probably think of many ways to make sure the distinction between a flat "NO, you can never" and "YES, you can if you ALSO do X" is better highlighted across the board.

Augnablik (talk) 07:06, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

It does seem like many new good-faith editors are very concerned about potential COI to a degree that is qualitatively more extreme than the norm among experienced editors. Of course, there are also many new, potentially good-faith editors seem not to feel any concern regarding COI whatsoever—though I cannot honestly characterize this side of the equation as anything but a comparative lack of familiarity with the guideline on average. Let's take a look at the current verbiage of WP:COI and see if there's something we can rewrite to better reflect the actual norms. Here's the first paragraph:

Conflict of interest (COI) editing involves contributing to Wikipedia about yourself, family, friends, clients, employers, or your financial and other relationships. Any external relationship can trigger a conflict of interest. Someone having a conflict of interest is a description of a situation, not a judgment about that person's opinions, integrity, or good faith.

Emphasis mine. This is tricky: the entire lead seems to define COI as automatically existing to a maximal logical extent. Nowhere does the lead nuance that most people can successfully edit about things they have particular interests in—in short, the lead does not adequately communicate that there can be interests without conflicts of interest.
I understand why this is: we don't want bad faith COI editors feeling emboldened by our nuance to push POV, or using it as a rhetorical shield when called out. But I still feel the lead should probably have at least one sentence explicating that (unpaid) COI only arises when one is personally unwilling or unable to edit according to site norms like they would on another topic. COI shouldn't be implied to be as total or even subconscious like it is in the lead as written. Remsense 07:53, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Thank you, @Remsense. Just having acknowledgment by a senior editor as to the validity of the issue — regardless of the eventual outcome — feels so nice and warm and fuzzy that I’ll just lie back and bask in it awhile … 🏖️ Augnablik (talk) 08:50, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Why would people understand "external relationships" to encompass interests in the first place? – Joe (talk) 11:13, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
It's simply a bit of a sticky phrase: it seems easy for nervous minds to give it a very broad definition. But I also understand how it's difficult to rephrase without making easier for bad-faith editors to argue around. Remsense 11:15, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Presumably working backwards as all "interests" are the result of external relationships of some kind. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 17:08, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Just to clarify something that's come up in a few of your recent posts, Augnablik: there are no "senior editors", working groups, or policymakers here. Our policies and guidelines can be edited by anyone, just like every other page, and aim to reflect the consensus of all editors.
On COI, I actually think your first understanding was correct. As always there are a range of opinions on the subject, but in general the community does not want you to edit topics on which you have a COI. That is why the nutshell summary of WP:COI is do not edit Wikipedia in your own interests, nor in the interests of your external relationships and the first sentence, after defining what it is, reads COI editing is strongly discouraged on Wikipedia. However, Wikipedia has no firm rules (there are no "you can nevers"), so it's impossible for us to complete forbid it. Hence the procedures for disclosed COI editing; they're there for those who insist on not following the clear instruction at the top of the page (do not edit). They exist, but that doesn't necessarily mean we want to highlight them. – Joe (talk) 11:10, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Joe, I think it's more complicated than that. First, I'll take the sentence Remsense highlighted, and highlight it in a different way: Any external relationship can trigger a conflict of interest – but just because it can doesn't mean that it will.
Second, consider what the OP says: anyone with even the slightest connection to the subject. What's "the slightest connection"? If you take a train to work, do you have at least "the slightest connection" to Commuter rail? To the specific transit agency? Only to the specific line you take?
I think most editors would say that isn't an "external relationship" at all, though I have had one editor claim that nobody should edit the articles about the towns where they were born, lived, etc., because (in that editor's opinion) it's possible to have a relationship with an inanimate object. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:00, 13 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
@Joe Roe, this is something far from what I thought was COI. Firstly, I am still seeing that "slightest connection" as something else. Initially, COI should be editing people you know and not things you know. Okay, IMO, does editing someone/something you know and have seen a COI. Safari ScribeEdits! Talk! 22:30, 14 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I'm literally just quoting the guideline. Slightest connection is Augnablik's wording, not mine. – Joe (talk) 08:11, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Actually, “slightest connection” is @WhatamIdoing‘s wording. Augnablik (talk) 12:15, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
No, "slightest connection" is from the very first sentence of this thread: I thought what I was learning about COI meant that anyone with even the slightest connection to the subject. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:35, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I would say my point is that one can take different emphases away from the lead as written. I think an explicit statement, perhaps a single sentence, which delimits the scope would go a long way to narrow this potential interpretive gap. It's hard to feel because we know what this verbiage means in practice, but it's very plausible to me that a chunk of new editors—those of a nervous disposition, if you like—come away fearing for their own ability to edit neutrally, worried about COI in situations where others generally don't have problems. They simply don't have enough experience yet to know that. Remsense 08:30, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Beside “those of a nervous disposition” who might be “worried about COI in situations where others generally don’t have problems,” add those of us still somewhat wet behind the ears who’ve now read many Teahouse COI-related exchanges in which the point was driven home about fates like banishment awaiting us if we stray outside the pale. Augnablik (talk) 12:35, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I intended my characterization as broadly and neutrally as possible, apologies if that doesn't get across. Remsense 12:53, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Perhaps what would be most helpful is if the Teahouse regulars didn't try to (over)simplify the COI rules.
Part of our problem is that the rules are taught by telephone game, with each person in the chain simplifying it just a little more, and making it sound just a little stronger, until the story ends up being a false caricature of the real rules. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:38, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
If this is in direct response to me, I‘ll try my best to offer better advice in the future. Remsense 16:41, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I've no idea who is taking care of the Teahouse these days. I doubt that anyone in this discussion is the primary source of this problem (though perhaps we should all do our best to improve in this and all other areas). WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:07, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I think WP:COI has a significant weak point, specifically the sentence: How close the relationship needs to be before it becomes a concern on Wikipedia is governed by common sense. Because a COI is about the existence of a relationship and not the editor's actual ability to edit without bias, there is no obvious or common way to tell what degree of closeness triggers it. It's inherently arbitrary where that line is drawn. The result of that ambiguity is that some conscientious editors may be unnecessarily excluding themselves from broad swaths of articles where they could productively edit based on a trivial personal connection.--Trystan (talk) 14:00, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
We've also seen in recent discussions that different long-established editors editing in good faith can have very different interpretations of where the line should be drawn. Thryduulf (talk) 15:03, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, this has beeen an eye-opener for me as a still-newish editor … and the writer of the post that started off this thread. It hadn’t occurred to me that “different long-established editors editing in good faith” — those in position to make judgments about COI infractions by their less long-established brethren — might be using somewhat different measuring tapes.
The outcome of this thread is very important to me, as I’ll shortly have to make a self-applied COI label for an article I’ll be submitting, and I want to get everything as straight as I can about COI before then.
Thank you to everyone who’s added insights to this discussion. I hope it brings about the clarity we need. Augnablik (talk) 19:57, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Stick around long enough, and you will find that “long-established editors editing in good faith” can (and do) disagree on how to interpret almost all of our policies and guidelines. We (usually) agree on the essence of P&G, but the nuances? Not so much. But that’s OK. Blueboar (talk) 21:36, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
If an editor does not think they should edit because of COI, that's fine. As with most everything here, we rely on their judgement, all the time, and if they have a question about it, they can ask in multiple places, as with everything else. This is not the most difficult judgement they will face here. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:00, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
To be fair if their edits are entirely appropriate the COI will almost certainly never be identified... We generally only identify COI by first identifying problematic editing and then ending on COI as the most likely explanation for them, in cases where its genuinely not disruptive nobody notices. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 17:16, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Doesn't that suggest that the COI analysis is largely irrelevant? If my editing of Famous Author's biography is problematic, does it matter whether it is because I am her sister (COI) or just a devoted fan (no COI, just ordinary bias)?--Trystan (talk) 17:47, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Yes the vast majority of the time the COI analysis is largely irrelevant. Also fans have a COI (its an external relationship like any other), just normally one below the common sense threshold. Superfans or similar though do have a serious COI and we have big issues with them. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 17:52, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I wouldn't say a fan of any sort has a close relationship with the subject within the meaning of COI. They may have a metric tonne of bias, but per WP:COINOTBIAS, the presence or absence of actual bias is irrelevant to whether a COI relationship exists.--Trystan (talk) 20:46, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The President of the Jimmie SingsGood Fanclub has a massive COI in regards to Jimmie SingsGood and you can work down from there, also note that the relationship doesn't have to be close to trigger a COI... The standard here is common sense. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 20:51, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
How close the relationship needs to be before it becomes a concern on Wikipedia is governed by common sense. Common sense (allegedly) determines whether the closeness of the relationship is problematic, so closeness is inherently important. I could see a fan club president having a COI, but only by virtue of holding that specific role.--Trystan (talk) 21:10, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Any level of fandom which effects their ability to edit the topic dispassionately is too close, we're supposed to be editors not advocates. Thats the problem with self policing COI... If it is a genuine COI then the person will be incapable of recognizing whether or not their edits are neutral. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 05:17, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
This is dangerously close to implying a lot of things that would be violations of WP:HID, like that being black is a COI on racial issues. It is also directly contradictory to WP:COINOTBIAS. A COI is not an opinion, it is some sort of concrete relationship to the subject of the article. Loki (talk) 02:30, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The idea that If it is a genuine COI then the person will be incapable of recognizing whether or not their edits are neutral is also not true. Any PR hack who removes damaging information knows their goal is not "neutral"; they know they're trying to make the article "favorable". Any person who replaces favorable errors with accurate facts (e.g., the correct number of employees, the correct amount of revenue) knows they're making the article more neutral. There are circumstances in which people won't be able to tell whether their edits result in a neutral article, but that happens to all of us on occasion, and does not always happen to people with a genuine COI. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:26, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
You're on the right track, but its not so much irrelevant as a different and generally harder inquiry for a person to undertake about themselves, not 'do I have a defined relationship', but the more self-searching and self knowing inquiry of something like, 'am I able to separate here from my bias, or is it too much to be me to be fair.' (I think many editors avoid topics, at least to an extensive level, where they know they have no desire to be unbiased in their writing about it, or they think they cannot, but they have to know themselves on that, not something like an external relationship). -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 21:16, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
That is very much how I approach my own editing, and identifying when I should step back from a topic. But that is fundamentally about applying WP:NPOV. I am not able to reconcile that self-reflective approach with WP:COINOTBIAS, which explicitly clarifies that a COI exists where a relationship exists, irrespective of the editor’s bias, state of mind, or integrity.--Trystan (talk) 21:48, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
That's it, it's a different inquiry, as that part says though, they may have some overlap. --Alanscottwalker (talk) 22:01, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
No. Because the best, most effective, and often only thing between good and the abyss is you, just you alone, so you have got to, got to do the consideration, you're the only one there is. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:52, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Correct. What matters is whether your edits are problematic, not why they are (or aren't). Thryduulf (talk) 18:57, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

If you want to follow this literally, if you are a human being, and edit any article about human beings, be sure to declare your COI.  :-) We really need to calibrate this to acknowledge the widely varying degrees of strength of COI. Also to fix how this is often usable/used in a McCarthy-esqe way. North8000 (talk) 17:03, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

If you do not want to not exercize judgement, this is just a rough place to be. COI is certainly easier to navigate and involves a ton less work than NPOV, to anyone who takes NPOV seriously. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:12, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Indeed, it is difficult to be a new editor. I do not see why this means we can't try to help them. Remsense 17:14, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Best not to assume new editors are helpless. How demeaning that would be. Some need no help, and others should ask. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:19, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
If it has the appearance of a conflict, it probably is a conflict. Selfstudier (talk) 17:04, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
If that were truly the case, we wouldn't need the policy. Remsense 17:05, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Still need the policy, but that criteria always works in edge cases. Selfstudier (talk) 17:08, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I don't know about you, but no one I've ever met is able to reliably tell when something is pornography. Ever. Remsense 17:17, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
How is that a COI? Selfstudier (talk) 17:22, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Its a Jacobellis v. Ohio reference to the fuzziness of the "I know it when I see it" standard. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 17:25, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Sorry, that's an oblique reference as regards the "if it looks like X, then it probably is" device. Remsense 17:26, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Ah, I see now. Just when it was getting interesting :) Selfstudier (talk) 17:33, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Except what has "the appearance of a conflict" to one editor can be completely different to what has "the appearance of a conflict" to another editor, even if they are both very experienced - let alone to those who aren't. Thryduulf (talk) 17:06, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
As per above, I am talking about the point where the line is drawn (because it isn't). Selfstudier (talk) 17:10, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The point where the line is drawn needs to be clear to new and old editors alike, determining the point based on vague phrases that not even all regulars can agree on is actively unhelpful. Thryduulf (talk) 17:13, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Let me know when it is drawn, and good luck with that. Selfstudier (talk) 17:15, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Oh many people would draw the lines in roughly the same place and they would do it quickly too, but in the end if they have empathy they should probably say, if you are still in significant doubt stay away, you don't need that, do other stuff. Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:24, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Especially for controversial subjects (not all of which are WP:CTOPS), there is an unfortunate pattern of "any edit that doesn't push my POV is motivated by COI". I don't think there's ever going to be an easy agreement here. On the one hand, we have editors feeling obliged to leave serious errors in articles because they have a tenuous connection to the subject, and being praised by those who think readers are better served by unlabeled bad content than by that bad content being removed by someone who is "tainted". On the other hand, we have people leveling COI accusations when an editor with a tenuous connection fixes simple, non-controversial, non-content problems (e.g., an AWB run for WP:REFPUNCT mistakes). WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:24, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
These hypothetical 'what someone else thinks' of yours, are often absurdist and just caricatures of nothing real. And it appears your statement has no bandwidth for 'if you have a question, ask'. ask'Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:33, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I've no objection to people asking, though if they're given permission to edit, I would not want them to trust that the permission is worth much. Absurd accusations are par for the course in some subject areas, and appear whenever the accuser thinks it could give him an advantage in a dispute. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:31, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

We used to have an excellent gold standard in the lead and in bold at wp:coi, it was "when advancing outside interests is more important to an editor than advancing the aims of Wikipedia, that editor stands in a conflict of interest." This is of course a function of several things such as the strength of the potential-coi situation and the ability/propensity of the editor to only wear their Wikipedia hat when editing Wikipedia.North8000 (talk) 17:13, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

I would support re-adding something concrete like this back to the lead, it's really all I've been asking for. Remsense 17:16, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
How about "An apparent conflict of interest is one in which a reasonable person would think that judgment is likely to be compromised." Selfstudier (talk) 17:25, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Given that reasonable, good faith, experienced Wikipedia editors cannot agree when judgement is likely to be compromised that is definitely not a good formulation. I'd support readding the old one that North8000 quotes as is. Thryduulf (talk) 17:28, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
You think that they will agree then? Selfstudier (talk) 17:30, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
That was removed in an effort to make our guideline at Wikipedia:Conflict of interest mirror the real-world conception of Conflict of interest. There are advantages to both approaches, but I doubt that there will be much appetite for reverting. The old style requires more trust in other people's willingness to do the right thing. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:28, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
It also left us more vulnerable to the crowd who perpetually perceives the communities interests to be one and the same as their own... "What do you mean making a page about my boss wasn't ok? The article is good and the point of wikipedia is having good articles! Better that I, an expert, write this article than someone who doesn't know that they're talking about" Horse Eye's Back (talk) 17:31, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The purpose of Wikipedia is making good quality encyclopaedic information available to people. We define good quality encyclopaedic information to be information that is all of:
  • Reliable
  • Verifiable
  • Neutral
  • About subjects we deem notable
If the content meets all of those requirements we want it, if it doesn't we don't. If someone writes a good quality encyclopaedic article about a notable subject (and/or improves an article about a notable subject) we should welcome their content with open arms, regardless of why they wrote it. If their content does not meet those requirements then we should remove it (and explain as best we can why), regardless of why they wrote it. Thryduulf (talk) 19:06, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Not sure what the point is, we can block editors and keep their content... we do it all the time. We can also remove content without blocking editors, again we do it all the time. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 19:11, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The point is that what content we keep and what content we remove should be decided entirely based on the content, not the attributes or motivation of the author and especially not the alleged or presumed attributes or motivations of the author. We should not be blocking editors who write good content just because we don't like why they wrote it. Thryduulf (talk) 19:23, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
A behavioral issue is an issue regardless of the quality of the content, just as editor should have little or no bearing on whether we keep content... Content should have little or no bearing on whether we keep an editor. For example undisclosed paid editing is inherently contrary to the purposes of wikipedia regardless of the content of the paid edits. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 20:55, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Putting ideological concerns about paid editing and conflict of interest ahead of our objective of building an encyclopaedia is inherently contrary to the purpose of Wikipedia. Hawkeye7 (discuss) 21:15, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
One could bring ideological concerns into it (I have not), but the practical concerns about paid editing and conflict of interest are significant enough on their own to make it a largely philosophical exercise. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 21:17, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The only practical (rather than philosophical) concerns about paid and other COI editing are whether the content is neutral, due and verifiable - and all of those are true whether someone is paid and/or has a COI. The purpose of Wikipedia is to produce and make available good quality encyclopaedic information. Everything that impedes that goal is contrary to Wikipedia's purpose. Deleting good quality encyclopaedic information because it was written by someone who has (or might have) a COI and/or was paid to write it is contrary to Wikipedia's purpose. Blocking someone who writes good content because they were paid to write it and/or had some other POV is contrary to Wikipedia's purpose. Thryduulf (talk) 22:14, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Thats not true, there are other practical concerns (such as reader trust, editor time, and subtle NPOV manipulation through for example content exclusion not content inclusion). The #1 thing that people expect for example of the Coca-Cola article in terms of quality is that it isn't written by Coca-Cola... If it is then it serves no encyclopedic purpose because the whole point of encyclopedias is that they aren't written by the subjects of the entries. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 05:23, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
"Subtle NPOV manipulation" is part of "whether the content is neutral, due and verifiable".
Reader trust is not affected by this. Readers do not know who writes articles. They never really think about that. Quite a lot of them believe that all articles are written for pay, through an organized professional system, or at least by subjects who are paying to have an article created. The fastest way to reduce reader trust (this is backed up by formal user research done by the WMF over the last decade, and you can read about it on Meta-Wiki and at if you're interested) is to point out the existence of the Edit button and prove to them that they can actually edit the articles themselves. (But don't worry too much: Cognitive bias usually kicks in before the end of the interview, and they invent reasons to justify their prior trust despite their recent discovery, which really shocks most of them, that Wikipedia actually is the encyclopedia anyone can edit.)
Reader trust is also affected by article content, but not usually in ways that will make you happy. Specifically, readers trust articles (here and elsewhere on the web) when the article tells them what they already believe and expect. This has an interesting implication for paid editors: Most readers already expect that articles are being paid for; therefore, when you tell them that articles are paid for, they are neither surprised nor disgusted by this revelation. They think that's normal, and they're okay with it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:46, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The content itself may be neutral, but its addition may make the article non-neutral. Readers don't need to think about who wrote the articles because they trust that independent editors wrote them, that is after all what we've led them to believe. Knowing that some articles contain paid edits is not the same thing as thinking that all edits are paid, clearly there is an expectation that they won't be. I would cease editing wikipedia for good if our COI restrictions were lifted, that is a practical impact you can't deny or obfuscate around. Encyclopedia are not written by their subjects, if you and Thryduulf want Wikipedia articles to be written by their subjects then you don't want us to be an encyclopedia. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 05:58, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Now it's even clearer that you are not listening, and now your putting words into our mouths. I'm no longer convinced you are contributing to this discussion in good faith. Thryduulf (talk) 07:48, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
You didn't say I wasn't listening earlier, you leveled that charge at a different editor ([10]. I'm not not going to assume bad faith, I'm going to assume that you were just mistaken about which editor your comments were addressed to. If you could join me in AGF I would appreciate it. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 16:10, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
In re clearly there is an expectation that they won't be [paid]: This assertion deserves a [citation needed] tag, or perhaps just [dubious ]. A very substantial fraction of readers think Wikipedia is a for-profit website.
Those of us on the 'inside' have a really skewed view of reality. @Horse Eye's Back, between your two accounts, you are in the top couple thousand people worldwide for contribution volume. In any sample of 3.5 million people, you are probably the one who edited the English Wikipedia the most. Think about that. There are twenty US states with fewer people than that; if you live in any of them, you are probably the all-time top editor from your state. You are so far from "average" or "typical" that it's silly to pretend otherwise. Things that are commonplace and obvious and clear to you (and me, and all of us here) are completely surprising to people who don't know how Wikipedia works. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:03, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I've never met someone who thought that wikipedia was for profit, but my interactions are of course primarily within a bubble. I'm certainly not typical, but I actually doubt I'm in the top 100 for my state. What I can offer is my take as a "power user" as they say... Which is that I find little as demotivating as sock-masters and COI editors. If regulation those areas got significantly worse I would almost certainly be spending less time around here, at the end of the day this is a philanthropic pursuit which I support with an immense amount (in the global sense multiple average human salaries) of time and money. If its Who's Who not an encyclopedia we're building then the money needs to flow the other way. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 23:11, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Read the 2011 survey results: About half of readers and a quarter of editors(!) had no idea that Wikipedia is a non-profit. Fundraising messages have emphasized the non-profit status ever since. I don't know if they've re-run the survey question, but realistically, I wouldn't expect the results to change very much. It's hard to move the needle on perceptions like that, because they're based on the assumptions that people bring in with them, rather than one what you've done to deserve it, and there's a new cohort of readers who need to learn this every day.
  • I don't think anyone wants more socking or conflicted editing. Changing the regulations probably won't have much effect on that. Changing practices might. For example – and this is a completely impossible example – if we required everyone to disclose their real-world identity and be pre-approved before they could start an article, then we would probably see less conflicted editing. I expect that this problem will never be fully solved.
  • I don't know why you think you wouldn't even make the top 100 in your state. Only about 2500 people have ever made more edits than you. About 40% of enwiki editors are from the US. That means in the whole country, with its 340 million residents, there are only about one thousand people who have made more edits here than you (and many of them are blocked, retired, or dead). It is possible, if you live in California, that you might just barely miss the cutoff for the top 100. It may be uncomfortable to realize how rare each high-volume editor is, but it's still true.
WhatamIdoing (talk) 07:53, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Just taking a gander I think that if we're just talking about the top 2500 people its more like 80% Americans and my state is one that for historical reasons is radically over-represented when it comes to the earliest editors (call them the Sanger clique). I'm not kidding, I can identify 50 Wikipedians who are either from my state or have been associated with it at some point (we don't exactly keep current addresses on people) who have more edits than me... Conservatively there are 50 more I don't know of. What I find uncomfortable is the overrepresentation of older white American men among high volume editors, I don't get any discomfort from the rarity of high volume editors itself per-say I just wish they were more representative of the actual population of the planet. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 15:35, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Not knowing that Wikipedia is a non-profit is not the same as specifically believing paid editing is the norm! If this survey is the reason you've been claiming Most readers already expect that articles are being paid for then that's a serious misjudgment that should be retracted. JoelleJay (talk) 17:41, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
HEB wrote: the whole point of encyclopedias is that they aren't written by the subjects of the entries
I don't think this is true. If it is true, or at least verifiable, then our article at Encyclopedia is wrong, and articles like English Wikipedia, and more or less everything in Category:English Wikipedia, should be deleted.
I think that "the whole point of encyclopedias" is that they provide a factual summary of information about a subject. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:46, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Describing themselves would be an exception. In general people have believed that in order for an encyclopedia to provide a factual summary of information about a subject it had to be independent of that subject. That means that Coca-Cola shouldn't be writing Coca-Cola, the Chinese Government shouldn't be writing Persecution of Uyghurs in China, and the US Government shouldn't be writing CIA. That doesn't seem like a terribly objectionable idea. This is why the "vanity press" in "Wikipedia is not a soapbox, an advertising platform, a social network, a vanity press, an experiment in anarchy or democracy, an indiscriminate collection of information, nor a web directory." links to COI. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 23:11, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I doubt your claim that In general people have believed encyclopedia...had to be independent of that subject, too. I think what you mean is probably closer to "Since sometime after yellow journalism, probably around the Walter Cronkite era, most middle-class, educated Western people at least pay lip service to the idea of editorial independence".
In other places, and in Western culture before the 20th century, people generally thought that using whatever power you had to help your family and friends was normal and desirable, so if an encyclopedia editor had a family member working for Coca-Cola, then "of course" the resulting article would be favorable and potentially written with the assistance of that relative. To not do this would be to prove yourself disloyal and anti-social. WhatamIdoing (talk) 08:10, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
"Western middle class" "before the 20th century" quite a bunch of anachronistic assumptions and non-sequiturs you have there, before the 20th century and indeed well into the 20th century almost no one went to high school or its equivalent for even one day, so philosophizing about their general encyclopedia consumption and even access seems bizarre. The past is a foreign land, as they say. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 08:42, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Encyclopedias are not works of journalism, what does that have to do with anything? You should consult a historian, needless to say you are wrong (try pre-15th century and maybe I would partially agree but even the Romans and dynastic Chinese has strong ideas about conflict of interest). Horse Eye's Back (talk) 15:45, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Thus, proper COI handling is essential to Wikipedia's purpose. No one of any real discernment is going find an encyclopedia good if it can't be honest and even has people pretend they can't even understand COI. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 19:31, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Nobody is pretending they can't understand COI. Multiple people are explaining why they disagree with you about what constitutes a conflict of interest and what level of conflict of interest is relevant to Wikipedia. Handling of COI is essential only to the point that we ensure the content is NPOV, everything else is irrelevant or actively harmful. Thryduulf (talk) 22:16, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Then, you really don't understand COI, if you can't bring yourself to disclose it. It's not a good encyclopedia when it misrepresents itself, like when autobiography is misrepresented as biography. Or the writings of the owner of the company on the company is represented as not the writing of the owner of the company. etc. etc. (It also appears you don't understand that Wikipedia is a publisher, and disclosing COI is what good publishers do, certainly good publishers of anything they are presenting to others as something to rely on.) -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 22:58, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
You are not listening. If the content in a Wikipedia article is encyclopaedic, neutral, verifiable, and DUE then is no misrepresentation because those are the only things a Wikipedia article claims to be (and sometimes not even that, e.g. an article or section tagged as being non-neutral is not representing itself as neutral). Whether an editor has a COI is a completely different matter. Whether an editor who has a COI should, must and/or does disclose that COI is a third matter.
If editor 1 writes words that other editors (who do not have a COI) state is encyclopaedic, neutral, verifiable and DUE then the content is encyclopaedic, neutral, verifiable and DUE and it is irrelevant whether editor 1 has or does not have a COI. Thryduulf (talk) 23:41, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
No, you are not listening it's not a good encyclopedia when it is dishonest, and it can't be trusted in anything (certainly no one of any sense can trust it to judge neutrality or reliability) when it won't or refuses to be honest. Alanscottwalker (talk) 23:50, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
If the words on the page are encyclopaedic, neutral, verifiable, and DUE then there is no dishonesty. That applies regardless of who wrote it and why they wrote it. Whether an article is all of those things is independent of who wrote it and why they wrote it - if every author has a COI with the subject then it could be all or none of those things, if no author has a COI with the subject then it could be all or none of those things. Thryduulf (talk) 00:10, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
There is dishonesty, and I already showed how, Wikipedia thus cannot be trusted (by anyone of any sense) to judge encyclopaedic, neutral, verifiable, and DUE. Alanscottwalker (talk) 00:13, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
After all this time do you really not understand how COI works or is this an elaborate act? From where I sit it looks like we have an WP:IDNHT issue here, you're just not being reasonable and its becoming disruptive. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 05:24, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
You all aren't going to agree. HEB, Thryduulf knows how COI works. He's just saying that there happens to be another value that he finds more important. Different people are allowed to have different values. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:49, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Denial of objective reality is not holding a different value. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 06:04, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
HEB and Alanscottwalker, please cease the personal attacks and start reading what other people are writing rather than assuming that if someone disagrees with you that they must be denying reality. If you are unable to discuss things rationally then Wikipedia is not the place for you.
I know what a COI is, I just disagree that it matters in any way beyond whether the article is neutral, etc. If the article is neutral it is neutral regardless of who wrote it. If the article is not neutral it is not neutral, regardless of who wrote it. Thryduulf (talk) 07:54, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
You're the one not reading. And there is no assumption by me here. Your use of as that a false attack against me, going so far as to invite me off the project, suggests how bereft your position is. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 08:20, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Please explain how accusing me of "not understanding COI" and of "denying reality" because I hold a view with which you disagree is not a personal attack. Thryduulf (talk) 08:35, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I already explained how you do not understand COI, as for denying reality that was not me, but it appears to be in reference to denying the reality of COI. COI is not invented by Wikipedia, and it's what good publishers disclose. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 08:42, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I already explained how you do not understand COI except you haven't. You've repeatedly stated that you disagree with my view about the way/degree to which COI matters, but that is not at all the same thing. Who invented COI and what publishers other than Wikipedia do are not relevant to what Wikipedia does and/or should do.
There are multiple things being unhelpfully conflated here:
  • What constitutes a COI.
  • What constitutes a COI that is relevant to Wikipedia.
  • How, when and where a COI (relevant to Wikipedia) should be disclosed.
  • Whether Wikipedia content is or is not neutral.
The last bullet is completely independent of the others: If content is neutral it is neutral regardless of who wrote it. If content is not neutral it is not neutral regardless of who wrote it. Thryduulf (talk) 09:01, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
No. I did explain it. And as can be told, you do not understand which goes along with you not understanding COI. That you suggest being a good publisher is irrelevant, suggests you don't understand what being a good publisher is, which also suggests you don't understand what we are doing here (the submit button is a publishing button), which also suggests you don't understand COI in publishing, and which also suggests you don't understand what a good published encyclopedia is. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 10:21, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
You are the one who is clearly either not reading or not understanding. If it is the former then there is nothing relevant I can say. If it is the latter then trying to explain things in a different way may help, I'll give it one more go but I don't hold out much hope - perhaps someone else will have more luck?
Every time we click the submit button something is published. That something should be all of encyclopaedic, neutral, verifiable and DUE. In reality it can be in one of three states:
  1. All of those things
  2. Some of those things (e.g. verifiable but not DUE, neutral but not verifiable, etc)
  3. None of those things
Which it is depends entirely on the actual words that are published. A given set of words falls into one of the above categories regardless of who wrote it. If "MegaCorp is the oldest and largest manufacturer of widgets in the United Kingdom. It won the Queen's Award for Widget Making seven times between 1999 and 2014." is all of encyclopaedic, verifiable, neutral and DUE then it is all of those things regardless of whether they were written by the CEO or by someone with no connection to the organisation at all. If the same two sentences are some or none of the four things an article should be then that is true regardless of who wrote it. Thryduulf (talk) 11:13, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Once again you have not been reading. And once again you demonstrate no understanding of COI in publishing. Or to the extent you do understand it, you are encouraging poor publishing, and a poor encyclopedia. Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:56, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Now you are just repeating yourself. I understand exactly what you are saying, I just disagree with it. I have repeatedly explained why I disagree with it, but you are clearly either uninterested in or incapable of understanding the difference between disagreeing with you and not understanding you. Either way continuing to engage with you is a waste of time. Thryduulf (talk) 13:03, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
It seems, you not bothering to even read what you write, to the extent I have repeated iit is to respond to your repetitious demonstration of misunderstanding. As I explained in the beginning, you evidence little to no understanding of COI in publishing, let alone good publishing or the good publishing of an encyclopedia. Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:27, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
That statement was always bad, because COI is about relationships which cloud issues of what's important with respect to the subject. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:39, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Just as safety regulations are written in blood, Wikipedia's COI guidelines are written in characters scavenged from promotional fluff. – Teratix 03:48, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    That's a non sequitur. Promotional fluff can be added to an article by anybody for any reason and it is completely irrelevant why because we don't want it in our articles regardless of who wrote it or why. Thryduulf (talk) 07:59, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    On the contrary, it's extremely relevant. Editors with a conflict of interest on a subject, all else being equal, are much more likely to add biased content to an article. Pointing out everyone has the capacity to add promotional fluff is trivial because we care more about their propensity to add promotional fluff. – Teratix 08:24, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    We don't exclude editors because they might not abide by policies. What matters is whether they do or do not. Wikipedia does not opeate on the basis of thoughtcrime. Thryduulf (talk) 08:33, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    We don't exclude editors because they might not abide by policies. Yes, we do, on a regular basis:
    • We exclude unregistered and very new editors from editing protected pages, because they tend to not abide by policies when editing these pages.
    • We exclude unregistered and very new editors from creating articles in mainspace, because they tend to not abide by policies when creating pages.
    • We exclude new editors from editing certain protected pages and even entire topics (e.g. the Israeli–Palestine conflict), because they tend not to abide by policies when editing these pages.
    • We exclude non-administrators from editing the Main Page, because they tend not to abide by policies when editing this page.
    There is nothing new or contentious about Wikipedia policies and guidelines that restrict a user from editing a selected subset of pages merely because they come under a category of editors who have a propensity to shirk policy when editing these pages. That is true even when we have no direct evidence this particular user will edit according to that propensity. This isn't "thoughtcrime", it's ordinary practice. – Teratix 13:42, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I disagree that COI editors add the most. Go check the histories of articles on cartoons, anime, or anything to which someone could be a "fan". You will see plenty of edits by fanboys that prop the subject up to a degree that COI editors wouldn't even consider. Dennis Brown - 11:22, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I didn't mean to imply that COI editors were the only kind of editor which tends to add fluff, or even the most fluff. I agree fanboys do this as well. – Teratix 13:52, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Fans are just one type of COI editor, those are COI edits (unarguably so if they actually do prop up the subject, meeting the standard raised above that the content also has to be bad not just the editor). Horse Eye's Back (talk) 16:14, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Fans are just one type of COI editor It's more like both fans and COI editors are types of editors who tend to be biased. – Teratix 01:37, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Bias is the result of a conflict of interest, it does not exist on its own. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 16:15, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    That is the opposite of what the guideline currently says: A COI can exist in the absence of bias, and bias regularly exists in the absence of a COI. Beliefs and desires may lead to biased editing, but they do not constitute a COI.--Trystan (talk) 17:11, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Sorry for the ambiguity... I'm speaking in the specific context of a fan, not in the universal sense. Being a fan is a parasocial external relationship. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 17:34, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

A few notes:

  • The real world common meaning of COI is pretty severe and narrow. Generally a strong personal economic interest of a public official that is very likely to be a strong opposing interest to doing their job properly. And it's also associated with actual or accusations of doing their public job improperly or illegally due to that economic self interest. So the first issue with this in Wikipedia is applying this term with a nasty real world meaning to much more benign situations in Wikipedia.
  • The actual problem in Wikipedia is when editing is actually influenced by something other than the objectives of Wikipedia. This takes two things
    • The presence of that influence. In this area WP:COI focuses on influences with specific concrete definitions e.g. paid editing, membership in a group rather than ones like side on a on a political or culture-war tussle.
    • The editor letting that influence affect their editing against the objective of Wikipedia. And the two main factors affecting this are the presence & strength of the influence and their strength/qualities of being to edit properly resist that influences. This is what actually matters and what was in the "Golden Definition" in the lead which somebody removed. The down side of this is that hard to know, but so is almost any other COI effort
  • Wikipedia also wrestles with and is confusing due to the two completely different meanings of COI. One is the end result (per the "golden definition") and the other is the presence of certain of the potential influences.
  • One component of a fix is to simply recognize that there are widely varying strengths of influences. At the extreme end of the spectrum is paid editing. At the other extreme is merely being a member of a large group or mere employee of a large organization or company. The latter are far weaker than things like general politics and being on one side of a culture war and should be completely removed from the COI radar screen. They just dillute it and are fodder for McCarthy-esqe tactics used in editing disputes.
  • Regarding strong influences (e.g. paid editing) getting disclosure is the most important thing. The current guidlines make it overly difficult for those who disclose and thus work agains the disclosure goal. Once a strong coi influence is exposed and visible, they automatically really aren't going to get away with anything

Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 15:11, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

And how does this analysis change if Wikipedia is part of the real world and not separate from it? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 16:17, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Taking your question literally/structurally, my context was about real world meanings of term vs. Wikipedia meanings or usage of terms. So Wikipedia being a part of the real worlds does not change my comments. Or if you meant how to reconcile, I think that the starting point would be to take the weak influences completely off the wp:coi radar screen or explicitly exclude them from being called coi. This would inherently bring the Wiki usage of the term close to the real world meaning. And also solve lots of other problems. North8000 (talk) 18:08, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Taking that in two parts... Firstly I think that wikipedia is informed by a broad spectrum of real world meanings of the term which are more or less plastered over by a consensus (in both senses). Secondly I completely agree with you there, the major miscommunication I see between editors is using (and I am 100% guilty of this) COI as shorthand for significant COI. I don't think anyone wants the radar to pick up the clutter so to speak, to extend the radar analogy we want to set the radar so that we see boats and land but not waves. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 18:17, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Given that the opening words of this section say that the OP thought (i.e., had been taught by the rest of us) that COI meant that anyone with even the slightest connection to the subject, I think that you're correct. We have a habit of focusing on trivial or immaterial connections – "even the slightest connection" – when we might do better to reserve COI for significant conflicts. We want to catch "paid to push this" but not "met the subject once", or even "made a necessary correction for someone you know".
As an example of that last, I recall a dispute years ago about a Wikipedia editor who was contacted by someone he had met professionally and who asked him to correct a strictly objective factual error about which there was some ENGVAR-related confusion (consider, e.g., Eton College, which an American would call a high school instead of a college). We don't really want to trot out the whole of COI just to get an error like that corrected. The connection is slight, the correction is necessary, and there is no chance of bias being introduced in such a case. That's not the scenario our COI rules were created to defend against. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:27, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
That seems like the exact scenario we have COI edit requests for. In that specific scenario the wikipedia editor should have instructed this person to make a COI edit request on the talk page instead of acting as their meat puppet. Problem solved, no issues created. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 17:06, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I think we have COI rules to stop people from writing puff pieces about themselves or from hyping things (e.g., stocks, products, cryptocurrency, etc.) that they stood to make money off of. I don't think we created the COI rules to slow down the process of correcting obvious and objective errors in BLPs. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:49, 19 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The purpose of COI rules is to ensure the neutrality and factuality of the encyclopaedia. If the rule prevents someone from correcting an obvious, objective error then it it should be ignored. Thryduulf (talk) 07:31, 19 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I'm sorry, but you didn't say it was BLP (which is a well established exception to so many things on wiki, including COI) Horse Eye's Back (talk) 17:47, 20 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Even if it hadn't been a BLP, it wouldn't matter. Our "interest" in getting objective factual errors corrected is much higher than our interest in running a bureaucratic process. The order is Wikipedia:Product, process, policy: achieving factually correct articles come first. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:09, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
One possible order is product, process, policy... The linked is an essay about WP:IAR. You're having issues with hyperbole, please say what you mean not something which is stronger but untrue. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 17:22, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The linked essay is not about IAR, it is about policies and guidelines and when to ignore them. Rather than accusing people of saying things that are untrue, first read and understand their argument then, if you actually disagree, refute the argument. I'm not seeing evidence you have done any of those things. Thryduulf (talk) 18:06, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
If we want to be pedantic (and I usually do ;-)), it's about when to follow this policy instead of one of the other policies or guidelines, though the same principle appears in other policies, as well. "Wikipedia must get the article right", to quote one of them (emphasis in the original). WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:10, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Its about those... But its also very obviously and unambiguously about IAR as well... "This is an essay on the policies Wikipedia:Ignore all rules, Wikipedia:Consensus and Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines." If you don't people to say that the things you are saying are untrue stop saying things which are obviously not true! Horse Eye's Back (talk) 17:08, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I think it would help to expand WP:COINOTBIAS on how COI and NPOV/bias differ, serving complementary but distinct functions that are both crucial to the encyclopedia. To my mind, WP:COI should set out clearly and narrowly defined relationships (paid editing, significant financial interest, or close personal friend or family). If such a relationship exists, editors are required to disclose before editing, and strongly discouraged from editing altogether. It is an objective test - it does not matter if there is any actual bias, because the close relationship creates the unavoidable apprehension of bias. Outside of that narrow COI framework, the appropriate lens is WP:NPOV. Every single editor has biases that have the potential to affect every single article they work on. Identifying those biases and working to set them aside is first and foremost an internal, subjective process, though feedback from other editors is also a crucial component. If an editor can't set their biases aside sufficiently to substantially comply with WP:NPOV, they should step back from a topic (or failing that, be topic banned for failing to comply with NPOV). But trying to frame all NPOV failures as COIs just makes COI confusing and ineffectual.--Trystan (talk) 18:31, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
@Trystan, do you think our differential response to accusations of COI vs POV pushing are part of the problem? It feels to me that COI claims get a more dramatic response than POV pushing claims. If you feel like you need help, you might find it more effective to speculate on whether the problematic content was put there by a paid editor. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:31, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
This isn't @Trystan but @Augnablik replying to your message, @WhatamIdoing, only because — as the originator of this thread — I'd like to jump in with a message about the direction the discussion's been going recently but I don't find a way to add a new message except in reply to someone else's. So, apologies for the hijacking, though it's not completely off topic.
What I'd like to say is that when I started the discussion on COI guidelines, it never occurred to me that it could devolve into actual conflict, especially among longtime editors. I thought about starting a new topic — COI guidelines, "Take 2" — for building on all the discussion in this thread so that the discussants could come up with an improved set of guidelines to help all editors, especially but not only the brand new.
However, I see that a new related thread has already been made, picking up on, and including several posts from, this one — The Teahouse and COI. Perhaps for now that would be enough to build on, so I won't add the new topic I'd had in mind. Please put back any drawn knives except to help carve out an improved set of guidelines. Augnablik (talk) 02:09, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Indeed, it must be odd to have other people try to assume or philosophize about what someone means when they say they have a "connection", because they should just ask the person who said it. Part of that, is this page is not really focused to talk about an individual user's situation, it is a place to talk about policy. For an individual's COI issues, the place for those conversations would be some place like WP:COIN, WP:Help Desk, the WP:Teahouse, or the User's talk page. Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:24, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
IMV, someone has a COI with a subject if, were they to publish something on it in an RS, it would not be considered "independent" in WP terms. That would mean: don't edit about your family, friends, employees/employer/coworkers, commercial or non-profit orgs/groups you belong to, specific events (but not necessarily general activities) you participated in, entities that have awarded you things on an individual level, etc., with the inverse also being true (those subjects shouldn't edit about you either). The nuance comes with which COIs we actually care about. As I think HEB alluded to somewhere, the status of having a COI is a behavioral concern and should be treated as such regardless of contribution amount or quality. I would analogize having a COI with a topic you don't edit about as equivalent to having a second account that you never edit with; it's something that exists as a potential problem but is a non-issue in practical terms, we don't need to require disclosure or look for it at all, and if it is discovered we have no basis for any sanctions. Editing topics you have a COI with is closer to operating multiple accounts: if discovered for reasons other than problematic editing, there may be cause to evaluate prior contributions, and depending on the timing, type, and extent of affected edits sanctions ranging from nothing to glocking may be warranted. We already have policies governing editor behavior that are quite divorced from the quality of their contributions, and consequences are typically context-dependent and at the discretion of admins or the community. I don't see why we can't use this same approach for COI. JoelleJay (talk) 18:39, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I really like this model from @JoelleJay of "if, were they to publish something on it in an RS, it would not be considered "independent" in WP terms". I think that's very functional and understandable to Wikipedia editors. That nicely differentiates the cases we care about (e.g., employed by, married to, in a lawsuit with) from the cases we don't care about (e.g., met once at a party, lived in the same city as). WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:36, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Re the real world definition of COI being a strong personal economic interest of a public official that is very likely to be a strong opposing interest to doing their job properly, I strongly disagree that such a definition reflects general use, if we are to look at basically any organisation that publishes guidance on what to them is considered a disclosable conflict. Hell, I worked at a large public company where posts on social media constituted a disclosable conflict, and looking at the BBC guidelines, said company was not alone in that regard. The Canadian DoJ includes participating in outside activities, such as: speaking at a conference; [...] volunteer work; [...] publishing documents; in their non-exhaustive list, and I don't think any of those can reasonably construed as "strong economic interest". Alpha3031 (tc) 10:52, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
You are describing particular organizations' rules for their people. IMO that is not the common meaning. I think that if you asked a person on the street I'll bet that it would be something withing my narrower definition which you quoted. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 17:56, 20 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I'll put up twenty that the definition would be more along the lines of "where there are two interests, and they conflict" rather than anything as hyperspecific as the one with three qualifiers (strong personal financial) interest which impact or is likely to impact judgement. The latter, in my unqualified opinion, is more simply called "corruption". But I'm not a dictionary person. Alpha3031 (tc) 14:02, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
A Google search for conflict of interest definitions is all it takes to see that the real world common meaning of COI is not limited to public officials, nor to economic interests. Levivich (talk) 12:57, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Each organisation that has conflict of interest policies has definitions, etc that are tailored to what is relevant to that organisation. None of the organisations that come up when I search are online projects whose goal is to write an encyclopaedia, so none of their can be assumed to be relevant or correct without examining what they are, why they are, how they are interpreted and what relevance the COI has to actions that are or may be taken or not taken. Thryduulf (talk) 13:54, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Somehow I'm not surprised you're not finding many encyclopedia-writing COI policies out there... check publishers or journals, see if their COI policies are limited to public officials or economic interests. Levivich (talk) 14:00, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Wikipedia is neither a journal nor a traditional publisher, journals and traditional publishers are not in the business of crowdsourcing a general purpose encyclopaedia. What their COI policies say or don't say is not automatically relevant to us - if you think a provision is or is not relevant to us you need to explain why beyond noting that it is relevant to a different organisation. Thryduulf (talk) 14:35, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
My comment about real world definitions of COI was in response to "The real world common meaning of COI is pretty severe and narrow. Generally a strong personal economic interest of a public official that is very likely to be a strong opposing interest to doing their job properly." This is easily disproven by looking at various definitions of COI in the real world. Meanwhile, you're talking about something entirely different: whether COI should mean the same thing on Wikipedia than it does in the rest of the world. Levivich (talk) 15:34, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

The Teahouse and COI[edit]

There is a concern expressed more or less in the middle of the extended discussion above, to the effect that the conflict of interest policies are oversimplified at the Teahouse. I partly agree and partly disagree, because the usual explanation of conflict of interest policy at the Teahouse has to be oversimplified, because it is in response to a clueless editor who wants to know why their draft about their business or herself or himself was declined or rejected, or sometimes why their article about their business or self was speedily deleted. The large majority of explanations of conflict of interest at the Teahouse are not addressed to clueless new editors who want to improve the encyclopedia. They are addressed to clueless new editors who want to use Wikipedia as a web host or advertising vehicle or platform. It may be that editors in the former class, who want to improve the encyclopedia and would like to edit an article on their employer or their civic association, get a more negative impression than is necessary. But I think that it is more important to discourage clueless misguided editing in that forum than to provide subtle advice to good-faith editors. There may be cases where Teahouse hosts should change the wording of what they say about conflict of interest, but it is essential to discourage promotional editing. Robert McClenon (talk) 00:10, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

I think a narrower and better-defined COI test would help with both groups. I.e., a rule that you should not edit when you are paid or otherwise have a significant financial interest in the topic, or the content involves you or your close friends and family. The vagueness of "any external relationship can trigger a conflict of interest", and the guidance to determine through common sense whether the closeness of the relationship "becomes a concern on Wikipedia" invites shameless self-promoters to blithely press ahead, because they invariably don't see a problem. Meanwhile, conscientious good-faith editors who don't actually have a COI self-select out just to be on the safe side. In the professional off-wiki contexts I am familiar with, COI is framed as a much more concrete and objective test, identifying well-defined situations that would give rise to the appearance of bias, whether actual bias is present or not. That clarity gives everyone the confidence that conflicted-out individuals can easily recognize that fact and govern themselves accordingly.--Trystan (talk) 01:08, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
What you’ve just said, @Trystan, really resonates with me as an editor with a COI situation out on the horizon. Having guidelines just a little clearer with real-life examples to make the directives come more alive — including how the editors in each situation handled it and what the resolution was — would be so appreciated.
After all, there are serious repercussions involved here. Messing up in COI is not quite the same as, let’s say, messing up in not providing good supporting citations.
Greater COI clarity could also be of value on the other side of the spectrum from messing up, where editors might not understand that they might find themselves in a COI situation yet still be able to proceed in editing an article, even perhaps writing it from scratch.
I think a similar balance is needed in Wiki directives between making them too hefty and making them too lightweight … but isn’t that the same as what we want in Wiki articles? Augnablik (talk) 03:54, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
To you or your close friends and family, I'd add "your teachers or co-workers".
It's tempting to add "your clients", but I'm not sure that's always going to take us in the right direction. Consider a hypothetical long-time Wikipedia editor. Like about 10% of the workforce, he happens to have a job in sales. He's currently researching Bob's Big Business, Inc. at work. Should he (a) update the Wikipedia article with public information about the company, or (b) leave the article inaccurate and out of date, because it's a COI to share information he happened to learn on the job?
I want to stop paid editing. I want to stop lawyers editing articles during trials. I don't want to stop ordinary people sharing the information they happened to learn at work. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:46, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

"Paid editing, significant financial interest, or you and close personal friend or family": Well, that is what is laid out in the COI guideline (and somewhat more explicit like "owner", "manager") but than what you get is debate over things like "significant" and "close", anyway.

If some really want a more detailed list one way to do that is to look for good publishing codes, publications on ethics in writing, journalist codes, etc. and write a group WP:Essay, your essay may be so good others start citing it all the time and then it may become guideline or policy (covering such things as executives, board members, fiduciaries, those whose job involves non-public information (because that means overarching duty owed to the org or to the markets regulators), investors, marketers, advertisers, spokespeople, etc. etc.). [Adding, the essay could also consult Arbcom cases, COIN cases, Teahouse COI discussions, and other such onwikiplaces].

Alternatively, or at the same time, if people were interested in creating a list like Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Perennial sources for COI's that get discussed at places like WP:COIN , Teahouse etc. that could work. And ultimately if you get to what someone sees as a sticky wicket, put it to a vote/not vote, it may not be a sticky wicket, at all.

A primary way one might think about the guideline is it is a code for writers/publishers, since here, they are one in the same. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:06, 18 May 2024 (UTC) [added in brackets - Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:09, 19 May 2024 (UTC)][reply]

I think that it's important to remember that COI-related influence is a matter of degree and relates to concentrated tangible personal gain, not just influence by external factors:

  1. Concentrated. If a mere employee of a company with 100,000 employees writes in their company's article, any gain from their writing will be very dispersed and thus microscopic. If they own the business, are senior management or are the PR department any gain will be much more concentrated. And of course the strongest is paid editing.
  2. Influence-only is not necessarily COI influence. Otherwise everyone with mere political views or a cause has a COI influence.
  3. Tangible gain means something more than just feeling good or helping a cause.

And again, the net result comes from the strength of the influence and the ability and propensity of the editor to ignore it and wear only their Wikipedia hat when editing. North8000 (talk) 18:54, 20 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

  • Something to remember… having a COI does NOT mean someone is banned from editing an article. We ask those with a close connection to the topic to disclose their connection, so that we can examine their edits … in case their connection leads them to edit inappropriately. However, if they edit appropriately, then there is no problem. Blueboar (talk) 21:07, 20 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Is it as simple as that, @Blueboar? If so, 99% of the concern I’ve had ever since I first found out about this Wikipedia issue and its assorted punishments for sinners will evaporate.
    If we can confidently go forward with our articles knowing they won’t be automatically zapped just because we put a COI label on them, that’s eminently fair. A remaining issue will be training (perhaps even required?) to ensure that editors can recognize both objectivity and its opposite, plus a test to ensure that they can apply objectivity in their Wiki efforts. If these are described as for editors’ benefit and success, helping us cut through what’s been a huge area of confusion and anxiety, my experience in the world of training makes me believe most Wikipedians will be likely to go along.
    I assume there are Help tutorials on COI. If so, are they in depth enough or do they need a little tweaking? Augnablik (talk) 02:09, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    While it should be as simple as that it unfortunately isn't, partly due to very different opinions regarding what is and is not "appropriate" editing - in the view of some people (including me) everything that improves the encyclopaedia in some way is appropriate, in the view of some others every edit by someone with a COI is inappropriate. There are also many different views between the extremes. Thryduulf (talk) 02:20, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Because of those differing views, contributors cannot "confidently go forward with our articles knowing they won’t be automatically zapped just because we put a COI label on them". There always will be patrollers who believe that any COI worth disclosing is a COI worth cancelling the content over. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:35, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

A suggested more specific definition[edit]

Some appetite has been expressed for a more specific definition of COI. I agree with it and so in an attempt to concentrate discussion in that direction, here's my proposal:

You have a COI if you meet any of the following criteria:

1. You know the subject of the article personally. What exactly "know personally" means is somewhat subjective, but it's pretty broad: going out for a beer with someone once is enough. This also explicitly includes yourself.

2. You have a concrete financial interest in the subject of the article, however slight. If you could make or lose money based on the content of the subject's Wikipedia article, you have a conflict of interest with regards to them. This explicitly includes your employer, anyone who is paying you to edit Wikipedia and any subjects they are paying you to edit Wikipedia about, and any stocks or other financial instruments you own and are aware you own.

3. You have some other concrete material interest in the subject of the article (often but not necessarily views or attention). So for instance, both the president of the Taylor Swift fanclub and the guy who tracks Taylor Swift's jet have a conflict of interest with regards to Taylor Swift even if neither of them monetize it. This explicitly includes any organizations you belong to or projects you work on even if not monetized. Note that this material interest must be concrete: a fan club president could gain members and a diss website could gain views, which are both concrete benefits, but an ordinary fan or hater can't gain anything concrete, only an intangible sense that their opinions are correct (which is not enough to trigger a COI).

It's only a first draft so improvements could definitely be made. Is there anything I'm clearly missing? Loki (talk) 03:04, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

My first impression is that this is extremely overbroad. Simply going out for a beer with someone once does not constitute a COI. The definition in point three would mean that everybody who has ever edited Wikipedia has a COI with Wikipedia. Thryduulf (talk) 03:09, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I'm trying to put this middle-of-the-road between people who think COI is very narrow and only covers stuff like editing pages about your employer, and people who think that it's extremely broad and covers just being a fan of a thing. And both of those kinds of people have expressed those opinions in this thread, so clearly both of them are positions a real person could have.
Also, I'll be honest, this is very close to my own opinions on what constitutes a COI. Which is to say, when it comes to individuals it really is pretty broad and really would cover anyone you have even had a long conversation with. People are very bad at dispassionately editing the articles of people they know personally. Human empathy is a powerful "concrete material interest" that we need to consider.
There's definitely some improvement to be made in the wording of point three, though. I didn't mean to include Wikipedia in either an organization you belong to (that'd be Wikimedia staff but not ordinary editors) or projects you work on (that was intended for personal stuff, not big collaborative efforts) but I could definitely see how it could be read differently. Wikipedia itself might just need to be a special cutout, though, because despite not intending it, I actually do think it's plausible that Wikipedia editors in general have a COI about Wikipedia itself. Loki (talk) 03:22, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I agree that we almost certainly do in general have a COI when it comes to ourself, I think everyone on some level understands that... The community is on its best behavior when covering things which involve us (Criticism of Wikipedia etc) and we seem to make a concerted effort to make sure that such discussions have centralized and broad input and that the content we put out is as close to NPOV as we can possible get. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 17:28, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Which proves that it is possible for editors with a COI to write NPOV content. Thryduulf (talk) 17:52, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I never said we wrote NPOV content... I said that we got as close to NPOV as we can possibly (SIC in original) get. Its also never been in question whether editors with a COI can write NPOV content, the question is whether editors with significant COI can reliably do so without help (very different questions). Horse Eye's Back (talk) 17:57, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
This feels like a narrower and more accurate statement than most of the foregoing. It's not any and every relationship, but only significant ones. The question is not whether possible or impossible, but whether the community can rely on it happening. It's not whether they can, but whether they'll need help.
I would add "inexperienced" to this list of qualifiers. That may not be quite the right word, as I intend for it to encompass anyone with less than expert-level Wikipedia skills. I'm pretty sure that I could write some NPOV content on almost any subject without any help. I'm also pretty sure that I know the limits of my abilities (e.g., whether I'd be able to meet my standards wrt a given subject; which aspects of the subject I could safely write about; whether fixing the article is worth the drama), so you could rely on me to either get my edit right or to avoid that subject. IMO it can be done, but since the world is not made up of highly experienced Wikipedians who have internalized the systems here, I wouldn't count on it happening in any given case. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:03, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I agree with Thryydulf that this definition is too broad. going out for a beer with someone once is especially broad. Family, yes; friends, yes; Coworkers you have worked with/do work with, sure (though I wouldn't agree with 'all employees of your organization across all of space and time ever even ones you never interacted with')—but a single conversation? This is far too much.
any organizations you belong to or projects you work on is also too broad, and I don't think it's as simple as making a special carveout for Wikipedia (and even if it was that simple—why the special exception? There are plenty of non-Wikipedia topics that Wikipedia editors could contribute to). The impression this gives is that members of the Conservative Party (UK) have a COI for Winston Churchill, that citizens of the United States have a COI for the Library of Congress, or that a member of D23 (Disney) has a COI for Disneyland, or adherents of religions that measure/register membership—say, the Catholic Church—have a COI (in this example, say, for Paul the Apostle). That seems much too broad. Hydrangeans (she/her | talk | edits) 04:04, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
What if the criterion for COI were anything that could give the slightest appearance of a conflict of interest?
As long as COI is not in and of itself a bar to writing and editing Wiki articles … and the criterion of admissibility for articles worked on by editors with any degree or possible appearance of COI but the objectivity of their work … then we’d hardly ever have anything to lose by sticking a COI label on our work.
That is, of course, if we ARE objective. Augnablik (talk) 04:27, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
If two people think it's too broad, then maybe it is too broad. But I do want to define a COI based on objective tests and not based on subjective tests like "the slightest appearance of a COI", because it's very clear that editors have wildly differing views on what appears to be a COI. Loki (talk) 05:00, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Two some examples of how this is too broad: Quite by accident the other day I discovered that one of my coworkers from when I worked at Defra is now a youtuber. I've not investigated whether they are notable, but they don't currently have an article. The only time I interacted with them outside the office environment was occasionally at the pub after work or on team away-days, and haven't seen them for about 20 years. Under your proposed definition I have a COI regarding them, in the real world I don't.
I have created numerous redirects to articles about people/organisations with the aim of making it easier for people to find those articles (e.g. Comptel Data Systems cycling team, Pure (British radio station), Watercress line, Bridgnorth Castle Hill Railway, Martin Par, Sally Man, San Francisco BART, etc). This will have increased the views of those articles and, at least arguably, thus benefited the subjects. Doing this would, under the proposed definition, mean I have a conflict of interest with those subjects. Thryduulf (talk) 14:31, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I do think you have a COI with your former coworker.
You wouldn't have a COI under this proposed definition for providing material benefits to someone else, including by editing their Wikipedia article. That editing Wikipedia can provide material benefits to someone is the background of the COI policy, it does not itself constitute a COI. (You also wouldn't have a COI under this definition for listening to a radio station or riding a particular train, though you would if you happened to be on that cycling team.) Loki (talk) 16:20, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Why do you think I have a COI regarding someone I haven't met for 20 years and are connected to only through a very large organisation I haven't worked for for well over a decade (and presumably who he no longer works for either)? What exactly are the interests that conflict? Thryduulf (talk) 17:21, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Same interests that would conflict with someone you know well. Human empathy is a powerful thing. People do not like to do things that would hurt people they know, including negative Wikipedia coverage. Loki (talk) 23:27, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
@LokiTheLiar, since when is "not wanting to hurt people" considered "An involvement, claim, right, share, stake in or link with a financial, business, or other undertaking or endeavor"?
I was reminded recently that, about 15 years ago, I added a paragraph about a supplier of medical marijuana. One of their clients used marijuana on their premises and caused a fatal car wreck on his way home. The other driver died. Her baby survived. He died the next day.
While I was writing it, I remember thinking that I didn't want to hurt the feelings of any surviving family member. Do you think that recognizing that some ways of describing the facts could be hurtful is actually a "conflict of interest"? Personally, I thought it was more of a Golden Rule situation. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:52, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Your quote misses the "they know" part of Loki's statement. Your example is surely a good instance of editing without a COI, as it shows feelings that might apply to anyone, rather than that would apply just to people you know. CMD (talk) 02:20, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I don't think I'd have done anything different if it had involved someone I knew, especially if I only knew them slightly or years before. Would you? Could you imagine yourself thinking "This is going to read by two mourning families now, and perhaps in the future by a baby trying to learn something about the car wreck that killed his mother. But I know this group, so I'll write it this way..."? I can't. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:07, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The appearance of a conflict tends to be sufficient for people to assume that there actually is one, even if there actually isn't. Tough, I know, but there you are. Still stuck with the problem of defining that, tho. Selfstudier (talk) 08:40, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I think in most other organisations the issue is resolved by the fact that the group adjudicating conflicts of interest are a different group from the persons actually having a conflict. The guidelines for group B disclosing to group A could be somewhat (but not significantly) broader, and group A could continue to simply use the reasonable person standard. On wiki, of course there is only really one group (editiors). I mean, technically editors can privately disclose to ArbCom or something, but that would probably be a waste of time for everyone involved. Alpha3031 (tc) 14:33, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Usually (i.e. outside of Wikipedia) conflicts of interest are defined by a reasonable person standard, that is, if a fair and reasonable person (properly informed) might conclude that the personal interest could improperly or unduly influence their regular responsibilities. This is a significantly lower standard than any possible perception of conflict. For example, I would say that a prototypical reasonable person would likely not consider being a fan of something a disclosable conflict, unless they were a pretty obsessive fan. (note that the prototypical reasonable person is still a fictional construct)
Of course, most of the reasonable people editing Wikipedia would probably never become problematic in their COI editing, (if they do any) and conversely, most problematic COI editors would probably not meet the standard, so we probably do need to spell some things out. Alpha3031 (tc) 14:25, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Do you mean significantly higher standard? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 13:30, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I mean less strict or narrower. The reasonable person standard is an ordinary standard of scrutiny and there are people who would not have a disclosable COI under such a standard but would under a "any possible perception" standard. Alpha3031 (tc) 11:36, 24 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

I think that a good framework is to define those COI influences which are strong enough to invoke Wikipedia's COI rules and guidance:

  • The "strong enough......" criteria leaves out the very weak ones and avoids trying to legislate or philosophize the general "COI" term.
  • Saying "COI influence" leaves the door open for re-introduction of the golden definition of COI-driven editing and makes the distinction between COI influences and COI-dominated editing.

Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 18:55, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

There should be a blanket ban on accusations of COI. Hawkeye7 (discuss) 20:09, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Just noting that raising the question is 95% of being an accusation. Mostly agree but I'd make an exception for raising the question where it very strongly looks like UPE. North8000 (talk) 20:15, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I think people need to be able to bring the point up. Obviously it's impolite to do it without a good reason, but I don't agree with banning the question. One of the big downsides of our WP:OUTING policy is precisely that it can make it hard to bring it up within policy, even when you have a good reason. --Trovatore (talk) 20:22, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
It is not impolite, it is a personal attack, and it violates our no personal attacks policy. I have been accused four times, and not once was it with anything approaching a good reason. An automatic indefinite block for a personal attack would solve this problem. Hawkeye7 (discuss) 00:27, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Well, I disagree rather sharply. I have also been "accused", if you want to consider it an accusation, and I didn't like it either. But you know, you're not going to like every interaction you have here, and it's not a requirement that you should, though of course it's nicer when you do. I think it's legitimate to inquire into the things that might nudge editors into making judgment calls in one direction or another. --Trovatore (talk) 00:59, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
It is not legitimate, it violates our policies. Hawkeye7 (discuss) 00:27, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
If so, I would suggest that's a problem with our policies, because it's an objectively legitimate question. --Trovatore (talk) 00:36, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I've been in the same boat as you, but what policies does it violate? Because its obviously not inherently a personal attack, although it could be delivered as part of one, so what do you actually mean? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 13:34, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The problem with very strongly looks like UPE is that some editors believe that almost anyone starting an article about certain subjects very strongly looks like UPE – to their jaded (or incompetent) eyes.
Perhaps if we had more of a game-ified software system, we could institute enforceable quotas ("You can only revert an article three times within 24 hours, and you can only accuse two editors of UPE within 30 days, and..."). As it is, we have only messy human-interaction options available to us. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:13, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Yeah, I guess that there are varying standards on what strongly looks like UPE. I was talking about really strong. Maybe an editor with 200 lifetime edits, and all of those are to write 10 articles on living persons who works in an area where they would benefit financially from having a Wikipedia article. And their first edit in their account was to produce a near-finished article, and where they've done an expert job at finding and maxing out references where the pickings are pretty weak. North8000 (talk) 18:05, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
If they've done an expert job of producing an article that demonstrates notability, what is the problem that you are trying to solve? Thryduulf (talk) 18:07, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
@Thryduulf: Although it is a sidebar, for the example/what is typical, it's what I'd call edge case notability. They've maxed out finding what is available. Fails a strict reading of GNG, but would likely survive AFD. Now, answering your question, I'm not on any such quest. The only question is when it's looks near-certain UPE, and "do I have a due diligence obligation"? I think this is off topic here, I only brought it up as a possible exception to the "never ask" comment. North8000 (talk) 19:05, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Way too broad. #1 should be close friends and family members. If I go to a trade show and happen to eat lunch with someone that doesn't automatically create a conflict of interest. #2 with its "however slight" is so broad that you'd basically be asking anybody who owns a share of a "whole market index" fund to pretend like they have a COI. #3 is interesting and I had to chew on it a bit to see the conflict of interest, but doesn't that also boil down to a financial conflict of interest? The eventual goal of adding members to your club and attracting viewers to your website ultimately is to make some money, even if it's through ad revenue, right? ~Awilley (talk) 18:49, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Enough people have given that same criticism of #1 that I'll incorporate it into the next draft. The reason #2 includes and are aware you own is specifically to avoid whole market index funds.
For #3, not necessarily. Many people have no plan whatsoever to monetize their interests. So for instance, as far as I'm aware Azer Koçulu had never made a cent off left-pad, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a COI for editing npm left-pad incident. Loki (talk) 19:48, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

My proposal would be to decide to set a course to make the necessary changes to make the COI policy consistent with this:

COI-influenced editing is when advancing outside interests is more important to an editor than advancing the aims of Wikipedia, where those influences are from potential tangible benefits that are somewhat concentrated on the editor. "Tangible" is intended to exclude ethereal benefits (such as feeling good about yourself) or where tangible benefits are of comparitively trivial value. "Somewhat concentrated" is intended to exclude benefits dispersed over a large group where the editor is merely a member of that large group. This also excludes cases where the editor is overly influenced by mere political views and mere causes. Many things might be called a COI-influence, with respect to provisions of this this policy, they fall into three groups:

  1. Where the nature and strength is such that the provisions of this policy do not apply
  2. Where the nature and strength is such that the general provisions of this policy apply
  3. Paid editing where the definitions and provisions of the more stringent special paid editing policy apply

Note this uses the terms "COI-influenced editing" and "COI influence" but not just "COI" because of it's multiple meanings some of which are pejorative. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 19:32, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

My first thought is that COI-influenced editing is when advancing outside interests is more important to an editor than advancing the aims of Wikipedia says everything that needs to be said. Thryduulf (talk) 19:48, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
This looks about right. Three comments and a question: 1) add "real or" to "potential tangible benefits" 2) Add a footnote to clarify that (paid or volunteer) membership in an organization is likely not COI-influence editing, but employment or serving as as a board member may be. 3) Delete the sentence on political views. Question: I don't understand the somewhat concentrated language. - Enos733 (talk) 19:55, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I put "political views" in (merely) as an example of where the editing may be problematically overly influenced by outside interests, but where "COI" provisions really don't apply. So it can go. To give an example of "Somewhat concentrated", if someone is merely a member of a large organization, any tangible benefit from editing the article on that organization would be widely dispersed and thus not "somewhat concentrated" and be microscopic for an individual member. North8000 (talk) 15:11, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Given that *any* editing which advances outside interests as such is already banned by WP:PROMO regardless of whether COI is involved what would be the point? You can't double ban something which is already banned. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 13:40, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

I find it helpful to think of "conflict of interest" as "conflict of role". One role is as a Wikipedia editor. Other roles include someone paid to edit; a (close) friend or family member of the person who has a Wikipedia article about them (or the person themselves); an executive of a company, or a member of the company's PR department; and president of a fan club. When the two roles conflict, it's critical to declare COI, and to minimize one's (direct) editing in Wikipedia.

Someone who is simply a supporter of a political candidate doesn't have a COI issue - but does have an NPOV issue when editing the article about that political candidate.

Tying this back to the previous post, "advancing outside interests" and "potential or tangible benefits" [from violating Wikipedia editing rules] are both related to having an (important) role that conflicts with the role of being a fully-compliant Wikipedia editor. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 23:41, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Simplifying re COI[edit]

I have to question why we need to define all this… it strikes me as instruction creep. The concept is simple:

  1. For editors with a tie to the topic that might be a COI: Assume you have one and please disclose it … And if that tie will prevent you from editing in accordance with our policies and guidelines - Don’t edit. Note that paid editing is strongly discouraged.
  2. For other editors: If you think some other editor has a conflict, AND that conflict is preventing the other editor from editing in accordance with all of our policies and guidelines - first try to resolve the citation with civility, and if that does not work, report it (but be careful not to violate p&g in the process - especially our rules on “outing”). Note that if the other editor IS editing in accordance with p&g, there is no problem. Just keep an eye on the situation.

I don’t think we need to define things further. Blueboar (talk) 14:10, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Well, so as not be naïve, it's never not going to be problem for Wikipedia when it gets reported off-wiki that congressional offices are editing campaigns or CEOs are editing their company, its just not. Alanscottwalker (talk) 16:27, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The situations that a definition could help with are:
  • Identifying a real-world COI
    • This could predictably cause problems (politician replaces an article with puffery) or solve problems (marketing department notices that revenues were overstated).
    • We want to warn these people off from editing directly.
  • Drawing the line for barely-yes vs barely-no COIs
    • This could cause a problem (high school student adds some trivial scandal du jour to the article about their own school) or solve a problem (high school student updates the article with the name of the new principal)
    • We want to help the accusers figure out whether we consider attended this school/lived in this town/is one of millions of people who own that product/liked that movie to be a COI (historically, for these examples, we have not).
  • Discouraging false accusations
    • This could be due to bad behavior ("Nobody would write this kind of marketing bafflegab unless they were paid to!") or good behavior ("Nobody would care enough about this unimportant subject to create an article unless they were paid to!")
    • False accusations harm the community. False accusations drive away promising editors. False accusations wielded as weapons by POV pushers are bad. The community does not need another round of "You obviously know something about this religion, and you're not denouncing them, so you have a COI" followed by "My connection with them is that they kicked me out for coming out as trans". That does not protect either articles or the community.
Views from experienced editors are on a spectrum, but I think the two main areas are:
  1. We care about the article more than about how it got that way.
    • For example: Given a choice between having an article on WhatamIdoing's Gas Station be outdated vs having me correct it, they lean somewhat towards having the article up to date. It would be better for Wikipedia to have a reputation for getting the article right than to have a reputation for incorrect and outdated content.
  2. We care about Clean hands/the reputation of the community more than having the article improved.
    • For example: Given a choice between having an article on WhatamIdoing's Gas Station be outdated vs having me correct it, they lean somewhat towards having only The Right™ editors edit the article. It would be better for Wikipedia to have a reputation for maintaining pure motivations than to have a reputation for letting the subjects of articles influence their content.
This is a difference in fundamental human values, so I do not think we will get agreement on which one is "correct". WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:03, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Once again, these positions you have made up are just figments when not insulting. Neither of those describe any editor unless the editor is such a fool as to think there is only one way to correct an article, and your "reputation of the community" stuff is just nonsense, unless you are actively trying to make-up nonsense. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:12, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Given that Wikipedia:Edit requests exist for just such a scenario that seems like a false choice. Also you misremember history, the COI was with the Harold B. Lee Library and the Association for Mormon Letters not the religion itself and the editor turned out to be a former employee who had edited wikipedia pages about the library while an employee and an active member of the AML (the COI *was* substantiated, unlike the story you just presented). Horse Eye's Back (talk) 17:17, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
IF they disclose, and are editing in accordance with our P&G… why should we care what gets reported off-wiki? Blueboar (talk) 17:06, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, its when the reporters have to do the disclosing. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:13, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Agreed. This seems like four pages of solution looking for a problem. GMGtalk 16:33, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I support continued attempts to refine and clarify the guideline. Lack of definition was cited repeatedly in a recent discussion as a reason not to upgrade the COI guideline to policy. I continue to think we deserve and need a clear policy on conflicts of interest. Firefangledfeathers (talk / contribs) 16:40, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
We HAVE a clear policy… 1) disclose 2) edit in accordance with p&g (and if you can’t - don’t edit). Blueboar (talk) 17:12, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I'm not sure how you can think this true, and I think you are probably mistaken. Could you link to the policy you're referencing? Firefangledfeathers (talk / contribs) 17:18, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I have my doubts whether CoI can be sufficiently defined so as to form the basis of a policy but the guideline could definitely be spruced up. Just for clarity, imo paid editing is a CoI. Selfstudier (talk) 16:49, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
imo paid editing is a CoI
Yes? GMGtalk 17:19, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I'm referring to Wikipedia talk:Conflict of interest#Should we upgrade this to policy?, "Though that case also highlighted some ambiguities in the definitions of paid editing and financial COI, and relatedly this guideline's relationship to WP:PAID" Selfstudier (talk) 17:27, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Yeah, there's no way I'm reading through that pages long debate (but I do notice a bit of opposition). As far as I've seen, there's been little serious conflict in practice with the status of paid editing, with the exception of something like WP:GLAM, and it's mostly an issue that can normally be resolved with existing guidance and a healthy dose of WP:COMMONSENSE. We don't need to legislate every tiny detail. Most of us have a fairly decent head on our shoulders. GMGtalk 18:18, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • I have finally realized what my problem with this entire discussion is… it is focused on the editors, not their edits. Simply having a COI is not a flaw; allowing your COI to affect your editing to the point where you violate a p&g is. And THAT is best addressed by focusing on the edits, not the editor. Blueboar (talk) 22:58, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Yes, this is what I've been trying to say throughout most of this discussion. If someone with a COI and someone without a COI would make the exact same edit, it doesn't matter which one of them did. Thryduulf (talk) 23:49, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    One might say that there has not been much good faith assumed in this discussion. Donald Albury 00:19, 24 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Sadly assuming bad faith is common (but not universal) when discussing COI, paid editing and related topics. It's one of the reasons why people interpret questions about whether one has or does not have a COI as a personal attack - compounded by some people refusing to accept "no" as an answer. Thryduulf (talk) 09:08, 24 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    If the way COI worked was that people could simply choose not to allow their COI to affect them, then there wouldn't be COI rules in the world. If the people who vote on whether an edit is a "bad" edit have an undisclosed COI, the system will be corrupted. That's why we don't allow judges or jurors with COIs. (That's why COIs in the US Supreme Court is making the news lately.) Unconscious bias isn't ABF, it's science. Levivich (talk) 11:29, 24 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

User page styling question[edit]

Is styling a user page like is done at User:Tevez Tam Gaming ok with our guidelines? It seems to fall under WP:SMI. I'm talking specifically about the hiding of the talk/view/edit/history links and not about the subjectively tacky choices. Gonnym (talk) 09:39, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Mm, I see an user talk link right next to the Wikipedia logo. I'd worry about the false claim to be an admin - I am not sure that the average editor knows about Special:UserRights and thus might falsely think that they are an admin. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 09:54, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
It looks like it's copypasted from a Wikia site (which the page makes frequent reference to). jp×g🗯️ 10:57, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
This clearly violates WP:SMI on Vector 2022 – all the UI under the header bar is hidden, and most of the remaining text is unreadable black on purple. It's so messed up I don't even know how to go about fixing it. – Joe (talk) 10:26, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Note that Joe blanked the page with a link to the WP:SMI and left an explanatory message on their user talk. Looking at the revision prior to blanking, it was all-but completely unusable on Monobook skin with no link to user talk, etc. Thryduulf (talk) 12:20, 15 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
WTF! For a moment I visited something that wasn't even closely related to Wikipedia. X (talk) 15:37, 24 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Use of quote boxes in mainspace articles?[edit]

This question arose out of a discussion over at Talk:Climate_crisis#Quote_boxes Essentially, that article used have two quotes placed into highly visible, blue-tinted boxes - roughly similar to how images are placed. You can see an example here. A WP:GOCE volunteer had removed those quote boxes, arguing that they were the equivalent of WP:PULLQUOTES. The article's primary editor, who placed those boxes there, predictably disagrees.

Now, I did a quick search of the archives, and couldn't find if this question had ever been discussed before. What do the editors here think? InformationToKnowledge (talk) 14:52, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

  • Balfour Declaration, which went through FA review, has a few. So looks as if it is OK in principle, should be due, NPOV and so on, like everything else. Selfstudier (talk) 14:59, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I found this a very interesting example. It appears to provide images of specific documents when they're available, and quotations from the ones that we don't have a photo of. The process of choosing "the image showing these words of this document" is not IMO materially different from the process of choosing "these words of that document". I assume that if suitable scans of the documents became available later, then the quoted text would be replaced by an image, and everyone except those who can't read the text in the images will be satisfied. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:36, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • A fallacy of a site-wide blanket ban on all quote boxes (beyond fallacies I list here) is that quote boxes are essentially images of text. They are not inherently pullquotes. A site-wide ban on quote boxes would by implication outlaw {} and {} and {}, and so forth. —RCraig09 (talk) 17:07, 18 May 2024 (UTC) (primary editor of Climate crisis)[reply]
  • Hi all, I guess I'm the cause of this upset. I thank I2k for bringing this up here, I was thinking to ask at one of the help desks. My view is quote boxes are functional equivalents of pull quotes because they do the same thing as pull quotes; they decoratively present and bring undue attention to single quotations with no proper context in isolation from surrounding text, and sometimes with no relevance to the article's text. They present an editorial points of view decided by a single editor and skew neutrality. I think quote boxes should be deprecated in the mainspace in the same manner as pull quotes, and eventually eliminated from it. RCraig09's view of quoteboxes as a functional equivalent to images makes no sense to me; text and images are not the same thing, nor are they interpreted in the same manner. Cheers, Baffle☿gab 18:08, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • They present an editorial points of view decided by a single editor – What are you talking about? Whatever's in an article (text, images, quote boxes) is there by consensus.
  • and skew neutrality – Why???
EEng 08:57, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Added note; the Manual of Style is a guideline, not a policy. Baffle☿gab 18:27, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Well, that is obviously not necessarily so, whether it is so in some specific case would need to be discussed. Selfstudier (talk) 18:13, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
What isn't "obviously not necessarily so"? Please be clear in your replies, otherwise you may as well just mumble into your hand and vaguely point into the distance! Cheers, Baffle☿gab 18:23, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I refer you to my initial response (and lose the snarky attitude). Selfstudier (talk) 18:29, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Sorry for that, Selfstudier. Thanks everyone else for their input. Baffle☿gab 00:14, 20 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
(@Selfstudier, I think that was a request to identify which of the many things Bafflegab said that is the antecedent for the pronoun "That" at the start of your sentence. For example: Is it "obviously not necessarily so" that Bafflegab is "the cause of this upset", or that they present an editorial POV, or that the MOS is a guideline, or what?) WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:19, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I guess they can speak for themselves, right? And I already clarified that my "that" doesn't refer to anything they said at all. Selfstudier (talk) 22:08, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Almost every, single, substantive edit on Wikipedia potentially involves hurdles re undue weight, context, connection to other text, relevance, editorializing, and neutrality; yet through millions of applications of editor judgement, Wikipedia thrives. Separately: re my 17:07 post re images, I meant that both quote boxes and images of historical texts are simply rectangles of pixels representing alphabetic characters, so that blanket-banning one would imply blanket-banning the other. —RCraig09 (talk) 20:09, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • If I'm perfectly honest, I think almost all cases of quote boxes are overdue weight. Should we really be highlighting specific things people have said about something. Usually the only time I think it's suitable is when the quote is from the prose/work and the text in the article is directly commenting on that part.
Others probably have different views on this though. Lee Vilenski (talkcontribs) 18:40, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I don't see a significant difference between a block quote and a pull quote. One's in the middle of a paragraph and the other's on the side, but both put all the words in the article. I wonder how much of the instinctive rejection is caused by the default blue background for the latter. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:28, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Looking beyond mere appearance, and contrary to what the copy editor insinuates, the quote boxes in the subject article are simply not pull quotes, for several reasons listed in the first paragraph of this post. +Background color is also choosable on a case-by-case basis. —RCraig09 (talk) 22:16, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Just a quick note. Our MOS says This below-quotation attribution style is intended for famous quotations and is unusual in articles because it may strike an inappropriate tone.
Are the quotes we are talking about "famous quotes", or just things people have said about a thing? Lee Vilenski (talkcontribs) 23:24, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
AIUI they're talking about the difference between:
Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party.[1]
Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party.
—Charles E. Weller[1]
WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:36, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Quote boxes are ok, but should be used very sparing, which mostly they are. Johnbod (talk) 01:04, 19 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Quote boxes are ideally used, like images, to illustrate an article ('illustrate' used proverbially, in the case of quotes). Of course context matters around the selection and inclusion of quotations in boxes. In principle, I think they can be and are fine. If we were to prohibit quote boxes from main space articles, I can't help but think it would follow to prohibit images as well—couldn't it be said that my decision to include an image of author Gordon Wood in the article about Empire of Liberty draws undue, decontextualized attention to Wood and his appearance or something like that?—and I don't think Wikipedia would be very improved if we did that ('that' being prohibiting either quote boxes or images or both). Hydrangeans (she/her | talk | edits) 01:23, 19 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • One way to support the weight of including a quote box is to have them sourced not to the original primary documents, but to secondary sources that analyse that quote or use it as an example. CMD (talk) 05:34, 19 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • I don't use quote boxes often, but when I do, such as in T. Rex and the Crater of Doom, I feel like it does add a sense of style to the article. Of course, my usage is explicitly not as any form of pull quotes, since the quoted material isn't in the article otherwise. So I suppose the context of usage matters. Generally, I would expect quote boxes to have separate material that isn't being duplicated in the regular prose of the article itself. SilverserenC 06:52, 19 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • I've used them fairly often. They're useful for a number of things, including material I feel will be interesting to the reader that doesn't integrate well to the text.Wehwalt (talk) 15:56, 19 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Quote boxes can be useful per Wehwalt, they are not generally "pulled" from the article, but rather like images and illustrations add to the article. (Also, setting off quotes with, for example, different margins and space, is common in expository writing, among other things, it breaks up solid lines of prose upon prose.) -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 01:12, 20 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Agree with several comments above that quote boxes are fine but should not be overused. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:03, 20 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Quote boxes aren't the same as pull quotes: pull quotes repeat text in the article, whereas quote boxes have text that is not in the article. This is a major difference. As others have said, quote boxes shouldn't be overused, but sometimes quotes can add value to articles, for various reasons. Levivich (talk) 05:58, 20 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • This discussion reminds me of an example of the abuse of quote boxes I ran across not so long ago: § The pretty boxes almost make you forget that none of the quotes so prettily boxed up actually talk about the subject of the entry... (well, actually, the last one does, which is why it's still there, even if it's not very pretty (turns out it's a single-celled table). Anybody skilled in the elegant art of quote box decoration is welcome to try to fix it up). -- SashiRolls 🌿 · 🍥 08:15, 20 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • If used judiciously, I think quote boxes can be a good resource for providing additional context on an article's topic. For instance, for topics in history or the arts, they can provide perspectives from involved figures that may not fit naturally in a prose summary. As an example: one article where I think quote boxes are well used is Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, a current FA. ModernDayTrilobite (talkcontribs) 15:18, 20 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • I've been hearing for years that quote boxes are inherently POV, and it's nonsense. Judgment must be exercised, and the quote boxes' cases are limited, but a highlighted quote need be POV no more than does a block quote in the article proper, or a photo caption. A quote box is POV if it's POV, its undue if its undue, and it's not if it's not. We make editorial decisions about what to include or not include, what to put in the lead or not put in the lead, what to emphasize or not emphasize, all the time. Quote boxes are just one more such decision. EEng 08:53, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]


I noticed that the Infoboxes of Micronations have disappeared. There is absolutely no good reason for it. We should change it back Eehuiio (talk) 15:25, 19 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Have you got the page link to where an infobox has been removed? Lee Vilenski (talkcontribs) 15:32, 19 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
See archive #191… about a month ago, we held a long discussion about the infoboxes for micro nations. The general feeling was that using the “country” infobox was inappropriate… with some support for creating a brand new “micro-nation” infobox specifically for these articles. Blueboar (talk) 15:36, 19 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I see that some work has been to implement the consensus of that RFC. I didn't see any infoboxes removed, but I only checked a few articles.--Trystan (talk) 15:45, 19 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The consensus of that RfC was to not use {{Infobox country}} for micronations. Regrettably, nothing further was agreed upon. What I've seen is plenty have had their Infobox country replaced with just plain {{Infobox}}, which of course should not be used directly. There is no reason not to use {{Infobox micronation}}. It currently redirects to Infobox country. The two should be unmerged, it takes just a few clicks to do so. Then micronation articles should be update to use that template. – Finnusertop (talkcontribs) 16:06, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
@Finnusertop, Trystan, Blueboar, Lee Vilenski: I started the process of making an RfC compliant version of the infobox at Template:Infobox micronation/sandbox. The template should be mostly good to go, it just needs documentation. --Ahecht (TALK
21:29, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Overuse of the term "criminal"[edit]

I am opening this topic on seeing recent extension to "<country> <male/female> criminals" categories. This pejorative term is applied here to freethinkers such as Richard Carlile and Thomas Aitkenhead. Both Carlile and Aitkenhead suffered legal consequences for their beliefs, but these are, to my mind, far from the everyday understanding of a criminal as someone taking advantage of their fellows.

As I previously commented, describing as "criminals" all those imprisoned or executed after a process would draw in philosophers and religious figures, discarded wives and courtiers in monarchies, those executed in the Terrors of France in 1793 and the Soviet Union in 1937, opponents of the Nazis but not all the Nazi leadership themselves, astronomers, geneticists, etc.

Could Wikipedia use a stricter definition to attain WP:NPOV? I suggest limiting the term to those found responsible for actions causing harm to specific other people - broadly, what common law jurisdictions might regard as tortious liability. It isn't airtight, as regimes love to convict opponents for corruption, but better than the current arbitrary over-use. AllyD (talk) 10:12, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Noting that there is an extra component to that. There is a huge difference between covering some criminal aspect and using "criminal" or their crime as the noun/adjective for the person. North8000 (talk) 20:24, 21 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Isn't this already covered by WP:BLPCAT? Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 00:57, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I think this is a request to make BLPCAT even stricter and to also apply to long-dead people. Thomas Aikenhead is given as an example above. He not only has been dead for three centuries but also meets all the criteria in BLPCAT. But since he was executed for blasphemy, which is not something that a modern liberal democracy considers a valid crime, should we put him in Category:Scottish male criminals?
One might decide that Category:People executed for blasphemy and similar cats are enough. A chat on the talk page would be the usual and appropriate way to make a decision. I think it is important to remember that even if the cat exists, and even if the rule permits inclusion in that cat, you are not duty bound to add every qualifying article to that category. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:29, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Oh, that makes sense. Apologies for not thinking this through enough when linking BLPCAT. I think the spirit of this:
Caution should be used with content categories that suggest a person has a poor reputation (see false light). For example, Category:Criminals and its subcategories should be added only for an incident that is relevant to the person's notability; the incident was published by reliable third-party sources; the subject was convicted; and the conviction was not overturned on appeal. should apply when categorizing long-dead people too. I also think that if a category doesn't quite fit (like what AllyD is describing above) we shouldn't use it. Criminal is a very broad term and it doesn't make sense to lump everyone together. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 10:47, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
To be a bit more clear, I think Aikenhead and Carlile meet the "crimes are relevant to their notability criteria" I wish to apply to them above but that Ally's general desire to limit who is in the broader criminal category is a good idea. I think that criminal is such a broad term that lumping everyone together is akin to comparing apples to oranges... *only* using more specific categories like Category:People executed for blasphemy makes sense to me. Clovermoss🍀 (talk) 18:06, 24 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I am a criminal. I forgot to renew the MOT test on my car once about twenty years ago, was stopped by the police and subsequently convicted of driving without an MOT. If there was a Wikipedia article about me would it be put in Category:English male criminals? I hope not. Phil Bridger (talk) 10:59, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Unless the failure to renew your MOT and/or your conviction for doing so was relevant to your notability then it would likely fail WP:CATDEFINE and so should not be included. Thryduulf (talk) 11:29, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
See WP:Crime labels. Part of a larger problem on Wikipedia are labels rather than descriptions. If a famous person was caught shop lifting, do we call them a criminal for life in the lead section? The label "criminal" obscures the nature of the crime, it's severity, when it occurred, etc.. it hides information. This is one of many reasons why labels for crimes are almost never a good idea. The factual truthfulness of a label is not what is important, rather the editorial decision to use any label at all is the problem. -- GreenC 15:30, 24 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The factual truthfulness of a label is not what is important Umm... No? In the case of Thomas Aikenhead, they died centuries ago, and so I'm not sure we're too doggon concerned about being insensitive. The only reason they have an article is because they were convicted and executed. GMGtalk 15:56, 24 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
If you read the essay I linked, it specifically talks about dead people vs. live; and there is a section about the weighing the truthfullness of something versus other factors, mainly having to do with BLP and lead sections, which is were we mainly see problems. -- GreenC 22:06, 24 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Thomas Aikenhead was convicted and hanged. We don't have to agree with the law at the time. But that doesn't make them not categorically a convicted criminal. GMGtalk 15:43, 24 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    My query above mentioned Aitkenhead (and Carlile) as examples to which the categories are applied, but alluded to possible extensive use. To be clearer, would it be appropriate for similar "criminal" categories to be appended to the articles on Jesus, Joan of Arc, Bruno, John Ogilvie, Lavoisier, all convicted and executed? I think not, and that is the direction in which I would prefer to see consistency here. AllyD (talk) 19:49, 24 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Yes? Try to apply your reasoning consistently. Are we to update every historical conviction to modern standards? And what standards should we use? The US? France? China? That people were tried and convicted in their time and place is simply a fact. Anything else seems like revisionism. GMGtalk 20:23, 24 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Draft Content Fork Question[edit]

Is a draft about a topic that was previously blanked and redirected by AFD a content fork? If so, should the creation of the draft be avoided because it will be a content fork? If not, is there some other policy-based reason why creation of a draft should be discouraged?

The question has arisen at Deletion Review of Shane and Friends. An article by that title existed in 2021, but was nominated for deletion, and the AFD discussion was closed as Redirect. The article was cut down to a redirect, but then there was edit-warring. The AFD was then subject to edit-warring. Three years later, there has been a Deletion Review asking to restore the article that was cut down to a redirect. The DRV is trending to Endorsing the Redirect. I said that the sources of the redirected article had been garbage, but that an editor in good standing could develop a draft with good sources and submit the draft for review via Articles for Creation. (That is common advice at DRV after an article has been deleted.) Another editor criticized my advice that a draft could be developed, and said that the draft would be an impermissible content fork, and would create attribution problems.

On rereading the guideline on content forks, I see that it only prohibits content forks of the same type. My interpretation is that a draft article and the history of an article that has been cut down to a redirect are different types of pages.

So my question is whether the guideline against content forks discourages review of a draft to replace a previous article that was cut down to a redirect. Robert McClenon (talk) 03:51, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

A draft is not necessarily a content fork, but the message at the DRV seems to be that it is likely that this particular draft would end up being a content fork of the information already at the main page, and that a better course of action regarding the content would be to put it into the main page rather than the draft page. Is drafting generally common advice for articles that have been redirected? In full deletion cases I understand the rationale as a draft shows what a page might look like, but in cases where the article history exists a 'draft' of a kind can be seen there. CMD (talk) 04:24, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Where a page is merged and redirected, or simply redirect to the content already at the target, one can assume that the worthy content is in the target article, or should be added there.
An AfD result to do this is typically done because the spinout article is redundant or contains excessive information. Telling someone unhappy with the result to go recreate it in draftspace is wholly nonproductive. It is going to waste the time of the editor who does this, and it is going to waste the time of reviewer who later deal with that draft. More than likely, it is going to be rejected by WP:SRE if it gets that far, and on the less likely chance that new content is actually worthy, it’s going to be an attribution hazard due to parallel histories with the draft and the mainspace article.
Where the content is already in mainspace, it should be improved in mainspace, in plain view of all interested editors. If something needs spinning out, there are good instructions at WP:SPINOUT, and nothing there tells an individual editor to go off alone and make more content on a draft page. In an unusual case where editors think a draft will help, it is important that interested editors are aware, and the best way to ensure that is to talk about it on the article talk page.
Robert McClenon is the ONLY editor I have ever seen tell an unhappy person at DRV to go to draftspace and recreate an article that was redirected via consensus at AfD, and in every circumstance I can imagine, this is a bad idea. SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:53, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Here's my take on this, after tracking down the DRV discussion in question: SmokeyJoe is right that a discussion at Talk:Shane Dawson about identifying sufficient reliable sources to establish independent notability would be the best way for someone interested to begin, rather than creating a draft on their own as the first step. But they're wrong or hyperbolizing about pretty much everything else, including the claim that Robert McClenon told the unhappy person at DRV to create the draft (the actual statement was An editor in good standing may submit a draft ... The appellant is not an editor in good standing with respect to this title.). As for the question about content forks, I find Wikipedia:Content forks#Temporary subpages most relevant; the implication I get from that is that Draft pages (at least when used correctly) aren't considered content forks, they're "a place to work on consensus". Anomie 12:14, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Thank you, User:Anomie. I agree that it appears that User:SmokeyJoe has seriously misinterpreted what I said at the DRV. I did not tell an unhappy editor to create a draft. I have sometimes advised unhappy editors at DRV to create a draft, and I have sometimes disagreed with User:SmokeyJoe as to whether a draft was in order. Anomie is correct that I was not advising the appellant to create a draft. What I advised them was to stop engaging in personal attacks. I don't know why SmokeyJoe thought that I was advising an unhappy editor to create a draft. Robert McClenon (talk) 14:49, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
In this case, the reason that I thought that a draft created by a good-standing editor might be in order is that I thought that the reason that the original article was blanked and redirected is that its sources were garbage, and that a draft with good sources might be different. Robert McClenon (talk) 14:49, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Thank you. Robert McClenon (talk) 14:49, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
You wrote An editor in good standing may submit a draft with good sources for review to Articles for Creation. While always true, it is an inappropriate suggestion at a failed contest of an AfD decision to redirect (history intact, content at the target). Instead, all ideas for reversing the redirect should go to the talk page of the redirect. SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:33, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
User:Anomie, Wikipedia:Content forks#Temporary subpages is relevant and correct. Temporary subpages are temporary forking, and are only ok if it is temporary. In practice, this can only mean that the temporary page is being coordinated from somewhere else. The somewhere else is the redirect target talk page. It might be a sensible thing to agree to work on a draftpage, coordinated from the redirect target talk page. It is not a sensible thing for the unhappy editor to fork the content from behind the redirect, work on it alone, while everyone just assumes it is temporary. SmokeyJoe (talk) 09:47, 24 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Regarding your implication that drafts are not temporary, sounds like you may want to review Wikipedia:Drafts#Deletion of old drafts. Anomie 11:34, 24 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
If you send the unhappy editor to draftspace to re-create the redirected article, the unhappy editor would be assuming it is so they can submit it and have it moved to mainspace. SmokeyJoe (talk) 14:19, 24 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

IMO the draft idea is OK (regarding fork) but might not be ideal or helpful. One other idea.....suggest that any advocate for revival find two true GNG sources (in depth independent coverage of the topic of the article) on the topic and explain that this is the relevant question. Suggest that if so, the proceed per the above. And suggest that if they are unable to do so to not pursue having a separate article on the topic. North8000 (talk) 19:55, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Find two good GNG sources? Yes. Two are sufficient, and no more than three. I think for anyone wanting to reverse an AfD consensus, they should be pointed to WP:THREE for its advice. SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:36, 22 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Of course three is better but keep in mind: 1. This is sort of setting "don't move until you have it" criteria. 2. Even two really GNG-solid sources is higher than the defacto standard at AFD for GNG-dependent articles. North8000 (talk) 15:17, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Question: What about telling the unhappy editor that they could work on the potential article in their USER space (ie to create a USER draft page)? When done, they can let us know, and we can figure out where best to place it (if at all). Blueboar (talk) 15:07, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
That's good too. But I see a huge amount of misleading of newer editors all over the place on what matters (on GNG-dependent articles) and they end up on wild goose chases working on article quality issues that are not rejection criteria and then getting rejected again. And also people declining/rejecting/draftifying articles for article quality issues which are not rejection criteria. And so giving this guidance on GNG-dependent articles would help on both fronts. Clarifying, by "GNG-dependent" I mean where it doesn't meet any SNG criteria. North8000 (talk) 15:24, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I think these are both terrible ideas. The user is on the losing side against consensus. They need to learn to work with other editors, and to not go work on a private copy in isolation. The redirected (not deleted) article can be seen here. It is now redirected to Shane Dawson. Consensus is that content on the Shane and Friends podcast belongs in that article. Either do that, or talk about it on the talk page, arguing WP:CCC if you like, at Talk:Shane Dawson#Shane and Friends. SmokeyJoe (talk) 09:31, 24 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

RFC notice for DYK and BLP policy[edit]

There is currently an RFC at Wikipedia talk:Did you know#RFC on DYK and BLP policy. All editors are welcome to participate.4meter4 (talk) 15:09, 23 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]