9 thoughts on “Notability is the opposite of Neutrality

  1. I’m working on something that (among other things) should provide a better outlet for capturing deletionist-exiled information than Yet-Another-MediaWiki ghettos like ‘Deletionpedia’/’Includipedia’. I’m discussing it pre-launch at http://infinithree.org – and will be opening an initial version to more contributors in a matter of weeks.

  2. First off, I am real sorry for being too fussy about this. But I felt that its my duty to make you aware of this.

    [blockquote]I’ve just learned that an article about Peter MacDonald, the founder of the first Linux distribution, has fallen victim to deletion[/blockquote]

    You have said “first Linux distribution”. It is true that Linux is just a kernel and only a part of the whole operating system. The Free (free as in freedom) Software distributions that was churned out during the 1990s with Linux as its kernel had many programs (constituting more than 10% of the operating system, if I am not wrong) which were a part of the GNU project which was started by Richard Stallman in the 1980s to produce a fully Free (free as in freedom) Operating system. GNU project deserves credit for this and therefore it is right to call the distribution as GNU+Linux distribution and not just “Linux distribution”.

    For more details on this, you may check out these links :

    I observe that you’re on identi.ca. You may ask about this to your Free Software friends in identi.ca

    r. siddharth.

    • I stand corrected. My understanding of Free software and issues surrounding it is far from complete; I am still very much learning.

      There, you see, this a perfect example of why this is such an important issue, and why Peter MacDonald ought to have a proper article..

  3. You hit the nail on the head when you said good contributers might give up. My one Wikipedia article has been under threat of being deleted for not being notable almost since the day I made it. I jumped through hoops (the contributer rules). I actually found much more info available on the internet but didn’t include it because they were so picky. Never again. Wikipedia the organization just isn’t worth the trouble with their present attitude.

  4. I’ve sort of stopped editing Wikipedia because I discovered it was easier to create a “notable” article with a rip-roaring stinking bias than it was to create a neutral article on a topic of borderline “notability”.

    Since I feel neutrality to be more important than notability this put me at odds with the dominant culture at Wikipedia, so I took my ball and went home.

  5. This reminds me – I really should write a somewhat up-to-date post on the Wikipedia policies. Here’s a short summary of my thoughts; I’ll probably expand this to a longer post some day…

    Notability *should* be the other side of the coin to Neutrality. Neutrality, as far as Wikipedia policies go, means that researched facts stand on their own. Notability means that only researched facts are admitted to Wikipedia.

    An important historical point to remember: Long ago, people *tried* to quantify notability using other methods. People *tried* to create intricate policies that determine exactly how many news sources or Google hits there should be on any subject on a specific field (e.g. just how many films an actor should appear in to get an article). But once those limits were set, they a) were easily abused and b) they were frequently debated. This gave rise to a much simpler definition of notability, which is now known as the “general notability guideline”. As it is now phrased: “If a topic has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject, it is presumed to satisfy the inclusion criteria for a stand-alone article or stand-alone list.” You’ll notice that the subject-specific notability criteria have basically been rendered obsolete by this criterion – they’ve been reduced into rules of thumb. (For example, the web page notability criteria is basically “General notability applies. In case of web pages, this means that we’re not a web directory; let’s write about web sites that have actually been written about in news and/or that have been subject of scientific research.”)

    General notability criteria isn’t unreasonable. It is a simple, all-encompassing rule. Most of all, it’s straightforward and unambiguous: For example, Mark Duggan’s death has been covered in the news, so it’s *obviously* notable – the only question is *where* this topic should be covered. Article of its own, or as a part of some other article? (In the other end of the scale, we had a banal article about Mel Gibson’s DUI incident. *Three* AfD discussions, and it was still kept. *Sane* encyclopedists have apparently quit fighting and just gone ahead and now briefly mention the incident in the main article.)

    But the deletionists are essentially yearning for the bad old days when there *were* numbers and limits and you could tell when topics were significant based on Google hits. They want a more complicated process, a process that doesn’t exist any more in the policies, and has to be replaced by hot air. They want notability supplemented with quantifiable significance. They want to be able to say “you *may* have the required news sources, but we don’t care about that, because arbitrary criterion X isn’t fulfilled”. When they notice that the community has long since rejected the notion of quantifiable significance, they resort to a rhetorical assault. Result? Long boring deletion debates. Lots of time wasted. *Sane* people would just admit that while they have some good reliable sources for their facts, the incident *might* not be worth covering in a separate article.

    If there is a reliable source for any fact, it’s worthy of putting in an encyclopedia in one form or another. May not be worth an article, but it’s worth mentioning. That’s my view – and I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all.

    I could keep rambling about this, but I’ll leave that for my blog. =)

    – wwwwolf, a random Wikipedia admin who has seen the light and laughs at the stupidity of the AfD. (I delete spam, copyright violations and blatant vandalism. If you put actual effort in articles, you don’t hear from me.)

    • Some of us have been discussing what to do about this. The discussions are still in the early stages, and may end up going nowhere. But I think they might work out.

      Cross your fingers.


    • First, I should stay I have been involved recently in a long debate on Wikipedia which resulted in various Sockpuppet accusations and article-for-deletion “discussions.” In the process, a powerful editorial clique has started investigating off-wikipedia statements by people suspected of “off-wiki collusion” and claiming that anything said off-wiki that they don’t like is “canvassing” and can be grounds for sanctions ON WIKIPEDIA. Anyone remember Joe McCarthy? These various investigations on this topic (on and off wiki) so far have resulted in at least two accounts being blocked and threats on several others. So far as I can tell, WP is not a chartered investigative agency. The people who wanted to contribute to this topic have been summoned by WP brass to “discussions” and in many cases the chilling effect has has been significant in that none of the subjects of these investigations are continuing to try to edit the subject pages. Subjects of investigations are assumed guilty until proven innocent. The hostile editorial clique deletes any edits made by anyone they don’t like and if people resist, their credibility is attacked. Neutral point of view on Wikipedia is inconsistent, to say the least.

      The subject of the original debate is no longer as important to me as whether Wikipedia is functioning within its Foundation charter, its mission statement, and its vision statement. From what I have experienced in the last sixty days, the answer may be no. Using standard dictionary definitions of the terms “truth,” “fact,” “knowledge,” “information,” and “encyclopedia,” Wikipedia seems NO LONGER to be an “on-line encyclopedia that anyone can edit.” One senior WP editor said in a “discussion” that Wikipedia “isn’t about truth, it’s about verifiability.” Since the sources of verifiability accepted by WP are now almost exclusively online sources, by that guidance, WP could put up an article verifying that the moon is made of green cheese: all it needs is a source or sources online “verifying” this and a powerful editor who wants the article to exist. Since the foundation itself is subject to federal regulations, the WP brass need to clean out this nest of wiki-terrorists and behave in accordance with its stated mission. Failing this, when a person creates a WP editor account, they should be asked to acknowledge that they understand and agree that their behavior off-wiki may be investigated by WP and that their civil rights, including free speech, may not protect them on WP. And, lastly that anything they say anywhere about the topic of WP can be grounds for expulsion from WP.

      Ironically, I still use WP on one of projects as the single tie-breaking reference source. There are things about WP that are very good, but these behaviors are troubling and history is being rewritten in some cases by of a small group of wikipedia editors familiar with its process who use that process to intimidate others.

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