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Are policies being used to the detriment of Wikipedia?

Okay, continuing to drag this discussion on is not appropriate. OP has been pointed to the places that he needs to change guideline/policy. --Izno (talk) 15:09, 21 March 2020 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I would like to continue a discussion I started earlier, see Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 152#Are policies being used to the detriment of Wikipedia?. Recently I worked several hours to add some recent research on Parkinson's disease to the article on it. Immediately it was reverted by one of the guys whom I complained about earlier, a group of editors who put watch-points on huge numbers of articles and whenever anybody edits those articles they immediately check to see whether, in their opinion, it conforms to the rules of Wikipedia. So in this case, it was reverted on the grounds that the references were either primary or "predatory". "Primary" means they were research articles in peer-reviewed journals, and "predatory" means that they come from those scurilous popular science magazines like (in this case) New Scientist. I am told (on Talk:Parkinson's disease) that we have to wait until someone publishes a review article (not a research article) in a peer-reviewed journal! The policy cited is Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources (medicine). So if that policy really means that we cannot put the exciting research of the last year into the article, well then, I think the policy should be changed. Eric Kvaalen (talk) 17:21, 8 January 2020 (UTC)

I would recommend you pursue any further discussion about a discrete guideline at that guideline's talk page, in this case WT:MEDRS. I would further comment that you will need to have better rationale than you have provided here and previously for any change in this regard, and you will need specific changes that you would like to make to specific sections of that guideline. Good luck. --Izno (talk) 17:35, 8 January 2020 (UTC)
Yes, I do believe that policy is meant to stop exciting research of the last year being added. It's on purpose and for what many consider good reasons. One is that exciting research of the last year is often at least partly wrong. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 09:35, 9 January 2020 (UTC)
As noted by Izno, this is not the right forum to pursue these questions. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:30, 9 January 2020 (UTC)
this is absolutely the correct forum to pursue these questions. That’s what the village pump is for. I’m amazed that you’d say it isn’t.
Please carry on with this topic. —Sm8900 (talk) 10:59, 9 January 2020 (UTC)
This is a generally correct place to discuss this topic, but guideline change, unless you are starting a request for comments, is almost always better discussed at the talk page of the guideline in question. It is a correct forum, but only minimally so. --Izno (talk) 15:58, 9 January 2020 (UTC)
if you need to cover information that is not covered in a journal, try looking to see if it is covered in major newspapers, rather than just online publications like Live Science. -Sm8900 (talk) 11:07, 9 January 2020 (UTC)
Major newspapers are often not considered good enough per WP:MEDRS either, but context matters. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 11:45, 9 January 2020 (UTC)


I prefer to have a discussion here rather than on the talk page of the policy about "reliable medical sources". I want the input of the general public, not some clique of guys who made that policy! Now, concerning what user Gråbergs Gråa Sång has written above, it may be that some things reported in the last year turn out to be partially wrong, but we can still report the research! If we were to exclude everything from Wikipedia about which there is any shadow of doubt, then there wouldn't be much left. Our readers deserve to know what's goin' on in a field, not just the established, conventional wisdom. And Sm8900, the popular science source I used is not "Live Science", it's New Scientist, which is a print magazine that has been going for more than sixty years. It is "the world's most popular weekly science and technology magazine" (see [1]). Eric Kvaalen (talk) 05:45, 13 January 2020 (UTC)
Didn't ping Gråbergs Gråa Sång and Sm8900. Eric Kvaalen (talk) 11:42, 20 January 2020 (UTC)
hi. Thanks for the reply! That’s good to know. Sm8900 (talk) 19:51, 20 January 2020 (UTC)
@Eric Kvaalen: Concerning the "predatory" bit, this is not because you have used New Scientist for a source (which would fail being a WP:MEDRS-compliant source), but rather because you used MDPI and Frontiers journals, which have various problems. Calling them predatory is a bit too extreme (Zefr has a propensity to do that), but they are not reputable venues, and again, do not satisfy WP:MEDRS. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 05:03, 23 January 2020 (UTC)


@Headbomb and Gråbergs Gråa Sång: Thanks for the explanation of "predatory". But I still don't know what journals that I cited are considered suspect. And in any case, I disagree with this idea that someone can come along and delete all my work just because he thinks that some of the journals referenced are "predatory" and some are "primary". We want our readers to have up-to-date information on the research that has been done. Or more to the point, our readers want that! Right? I don't think that Zefr considered each statement that I made and referenced, and decided that each one was too doubtful to tell the readers. I think he just hit Undo. Either these guys, like Zefr, are enforcing incorrect interpretations of the policies, or the policies need to be changed. (I'm not pinging Zefr, because this is not meant to be an argument just about what he did in this case. It's a general problem, with several guys doing it.) Eric Kvaalen (talk) 05:33, 28 January 2020 (UTC)

@Eric Kvaalen: Several people are tackling several different problems in several different ways, some with more tact than others, some with poorer arguments than others. So unless you give us other situations, it is hard for anyone to generalize anything and give you broader advice. However, one thing that should be clear is that WP:MEDRS has to be followed when WP:MEDRS-covered claims are being made, and that Frontiers Media and MDPI journals generally don't qualify as WP:MEDRS-compliant sources, regardless of if one considers those journals and publishers to be fully predatory like the garbage from OMICS Publishing Group, or merely 'questionable/unreputable'. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 06:10, 28 January 2020 (UTC)
@Headbomb: But what I've been trying to say is that I don't think the "MEDRS" (medical reliable source) policy is good, if it excludes putting in the research that I put into that article. I'm not asking for advice. I'm asking people to think about what kind of articles we want in Wikipedia. If you would like more examples of the same sort of problem (not just with medical articles), see the older thread that I mentioned at the beginning. Eric Kvaalen (talk) 17:05, 2 February 2020 (UTC)
@Eric Kvaalen: "If it excludes putting in the research that I put into that article." That's exactly what the policy is designed for, see WP:WHYMEDRS. We don't want such research featured in Wikipedia, because it is too early, too erratic, and too unreliable in the evidence chain for Wikipedia. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 19:29, 2 February 2020 (UTC)
@Headbomb: Yeah, well, that's your opinion. The question is, does the reading public agree with you? I doubt it. Eric Kvaalen (talk) 16:47, 9 February 2020 (UTC)
What the reading public wants is irrelevant. This is what the community wants. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 09:15, 10 February 2020 (UTC)
Let's avoid making assertions about what "the community" wants. We don't all the same opinions about everything, and it appears from this discussion that at least some part of "the community" also wants to take the suspected preferences of the reading public into account.
Eric, I'm not going to say that we're perfect, or that we don't go overboard sometimes. Some of us would really like to exclude anything except solid Evidence-based medicine (which sounds fine until you realize that's about 50% of regular, conventional medicine, that there's more to medicine and medical conditions than objective facts, and that "the community" rejected the proposal to elevate the scientific point(s) of view over all of the non-scientific [that word means "arts and humanities and law and business and stuff", not nonsense] POVs years ago).
In general, it's my experience that mentioning a big media sensation in an article, in a very small way, is not an unreasonable way to reduce edit warring and get a compromise that editors can live with until the media hype dies down. But in other cases, I think it's easier just to play the game their way. So they don't want you to cite a "primary" peer-reviewed research paper on whether having an appendectomy reduces the risk of Parkinson's? Fine: cite PMID 31713092, which is a review article instead. You can do this by finding the paper you'd like to cite at PubMedhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30381408 – and then looking for the box on the side that tells you some other papers that are citing it. Start with anything in that list that's tagged with a blue "review" label and see what they say. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:54, 11 February 2020 (UTC)
@Headbomb: The policy specifically says that newspapers are valid, depending on circumstances. allowing mainstream media is one way to make sure we are expanding as a genuine resource. --Sm8900 (talk) 16:52, 9 February 2020 (UTC)
@Sm8900: the policy specifically warns against using newspapers to make WP:MEDRS claims or determine the WP:DUE-ness of scientific coverage. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 09:05, 10 February 2020 (UTC)


@WhatamIdoing: Thanks for the suggestion! @Headbomb: I'm amazed that you say that what the reading public wants is irrelevant, and that the only thing that matters is what "the community" wants! Who is this community anyway? Those who managed to get their opinions cemented into Wikipedia policy? We're not editing Wikipedia just for ourselves, or just for the pleasure of enforcing the rules. Eric Kvaalen (talk) 08:42, 18 February 2020 (UTC)

Eric Kvaalen, it seems to me that the opinions of the reading public can readily be discounted when that population does not intersect with the one participating and forming consensus on Wikimedia projects. This is why: because Wikipedia is "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit" and therefore any sufficiently interested reader of Wikipedia can become an editor of Wikipedia with little effort. If anyone in "the reading public" feels strongly about a point of policy on Wikipedia and wishes to effect change, then the way to do this is to become editors and have their voices heard. Otherwise, the opinions and tastes of the nebulous, amorphous, "reading public" can never be known well enough for us to form policies and guidelines in the first place. That's why it doesn't matter, because it's too difficult to measure and it's easy enough to become an editor, and therefore, part of the community. Elizium23 (talk) 08:49, 18 February 2020 (UTC)
Not only that, but if you made a poll that asked the scientifically illiterate general public questions about science, you will end up with answers that don't reflect the opinions that matter. If I asked people "Should legislators make laws mandating that doctors warn parents against the dangers of mercury in vaccines and their links to autism prior to vaccination", I would get "Oh yes, I don't want my child to get autism!" from a significant portions of them. So yes, what readers "want" is irrelevant here. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 10:51, 18 February 2020 (UTC)
Eric wrote: We're not editing Wikipedia just for ourselves, or just for the pleasure of enforcing the rules.
Some of us are. I'm not saying that's a good thing, but, for better or worse, it's a true thing. Not everyone is as selfless and idealistic as you. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:52, 18 February 2020 (UTC)
@Elizium23: Of course theoretically anyone can become an editor of Wikipedia. But there are milliards of people who just use Wikipedia as a reference. When they want to know about Parkinson's disease, they go to the Wikipedia article on Parkinson's and read. They're not gonna start arguing on the policy pages in favor of putting the latest research results. In fact, they will have no idea that the latest research results have been deleted from the article because of some policy about not using primary sources! (Or "predatory sources".) But they would certainly be offended if they knew. And Headbomb, I'm not advocating putting in nonsense about vaccines or whatever. I'm talking about the latest scientific research. WhatamIdoing, thanks for the compliment! Eric Kvaalen (talk) 12:39, 28 February 2020 (UTC)
Unless the latest scientific research has been vetted through reviews and meta-analysis, it is not ready to be featured in encyclopedias, because primary research−, especially in biological sciences, is not reliable. Again, see WP:WHYMEDRS Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 13:15, 28 February 2020 (UTC)
Headbomb, I just don't agree with that policy. Wikipedia is not meant to be a place where only iron-clad truths are mentioned, like the Pythagorean theorem (in Euclidean space!). We can and should tell people what the latest research in medical fields is. And I also don't agree that just because some research has been published as a primary source it should be considered unreliable! Of course, the researcher may be lying, or something like that. But let's not be ridiculous. Even if it's not a primary source we can't be absolutely sure that it's true. So why should we make a rule saying that primary sources are out and secondary sources are in? Eric Kvaalen (talk) 20:51, 6 March 2020 (UTC)
See WP:1AM#When you know that the consensus is against you. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 20:54, 6 March 2020 (UTC)
@Headbomb: I don't know that the consensus is against me. We have a couple people here, like you, who think I'm wrong, but that's certainly not a representative sammple of what you call "the community", nor of course of what the public wants. Really, whom is Wikipedia for? Just for people like you? Eric Kvaalen (talk) 05:59, 12 March 2020 (UTC)
Wikipedia is for everyone, edited by everyone, and governed by consensus and policies like WP:DUE and WP:MEDRS. It is not a specialist's encyclopedia aiming to document every individual single paper ever published, every research dead end, and every piece of science by press conference/press release. See WP:WHYMEDRS for details, for the eleventy billionth time. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 06:59, 12 March 2020 (UTC)
We do sometimes go a bit overboard, though. We've seen editors try to remove all mention of common treatments for medical conditions on the grounds that there isn't sufficient scientific evidence behind them. It's still an encyclopedic fact that these things get used, even if they're under-researched. Only about half of conventional medical treatment is currently backed by decent scientific evidence. We should have all of medicine in Wikipedia, not just they've finished researching. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:28, 12 March 2020 (UTC)
We should have all of medicine that has undergone a scientific review, not simply all of medicine that was ever published or been the subject of one-off research. In 2019 a vaccine against cancer based on Protein X was studied by Smith et al.<ref>Primary source</ref> types of claims is exactly what we don't want. What we want is a critical evaluation of the research, ideally systematic reviews, that discuss what was studied and places it in a proper context. That is Multiple studies have investigated Protein X as a possible vaccine for cancer. As of 2019, results have been inconclusive due to poor control and methodology.<ref>Independent review</ref> is what we want. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 19:58, 12 March 2020 (UTC)
We really do need to have some way of reporting research that has been accepted by reputable bodies such as the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Cancer Research UK or the (UK) Medical Research Council but not yet accepted by WP as sufficiently reviewed. Quoting WP:MEDASSESS or WP:NOTADVICE may enable WP to protect itself against negligence suits, but it doesn't help non-medics trying to understand the often obscure jargon of professionals. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 18:55, 12 March 2020 (UTC)
  • WP:IGNORE exists for a reason. This is one of those situations where there may be a reason to adhere to it. Also, if they are using policy to inhibit the improvement Wikipedia, that should not be tolerated as that is disruptive editing. Kirbanzo (userpage - talk - contribs) 19:20, 12 March 2020 (UTC)
@Kirbanzo: I agree and I've opened an RfC that deals with this issue here, with discussion that happened here. I invite you to take a look and comment. إيان (talk) 03:58, 18 March 2020 (UTC)
If my above comment would considered canvassing, please ignore. This is my first RfC and I'm trying to publicize it. إيان (talk) 04:47, 18 March 2020 (UTC)
Ian, I think the other guy in your discussion is very unfriendly and bossy (as is typical), but in the part I redd (the discussion is very long!) I think I would have to agree with him that your addition was not 100% sure, based on the source you gave. Maybe it could have been reworded to be acceptable. Eric Kvaalen (talk) 12:31, 21 March 2020 (UTC)
Kirbanzo, it would be nice to just "ignore the rules", but you know, they'll just revert that if you do! Even if it just breaks their interpretation of the rules. Eric Kvaalen (talk) 12:31, 21 March 2020 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


Let me bring in another example pertaining to the question "Are policies being used to the detriment of Wikipedia?". A friend of mine who doesn't believe in Evolution sent me a link to a YouTube video of a discussion with three scientists or philosophers. I wanted to know more about one of them, Stephen C. Meyer, so I looked to see whether there was something on him in Wikipedia, and there was. The second sentence said, "He is an advocate of the pseudoscientific principle of intelligent design." I thought it was entirely gratuitous to "inform" our dear readers that "Intelligent Design" is pseudoscientific, and I saw that the talk page consisted of long arguments about the presence of that word. So I took the word out. I ask you, which version is better, for an encyclopedia, "He is an advocate of the pseudoscientific principle of intelligent design", or "He is an advocate of the principle of intelligent design"?

Well, within about an hour a user with a pseudonym something like "Eagle Eye Jack", who obviously had a Watchpoint set on this article, revertted what I had done and wrote a pleasant note on my talk page, "Information icon Please refrain from making unconstructive edits to Wikipedia, as you did at Stephen C. Meyer. Your edits appear to constitute vandalism and have been reverted. If you would like to experiment, please use the sandbox. Repeated vandalism may result in the loss of editing privileges. Thank you."

Now, I was considering reverting his revert, and then doing it again after he reverts that, after which he wouldn't be able to revert without breaking the Three Revert Rule! But that would still be "edit warring", which is against the rules. So the article stands as it is, with the staus quo protected by rules. Someone wrote a comment in the text saying <!--Do not change or remove the word "pseudoscientific" without reaching consensus on the talk page first-->. Well, why should one side get its way if there's no consensus? The other side could just as well say that you can't add the word "pseudoscientific" until there's a consensus!

When I do "Show preview" of this edit, I see that Izno has closed the discussion. What gives him the right to do that? He's a partisan in the discussion.

Eric Kvaalen (talk) 06:53, 22 March 2020 (UTC)

Rethinking draft space

So, after a recent RfA, I began thinking about whether rethinking the use of draft space at all is something that we should consider. I've personally come to the conclusion that draft space is a failure, and for the most part is something that is used as a holding ground for G13 since the majority of the content is unsalvageable.

While I'm not proposing anything formally yet, I'd be curious at getting the community's thoughts on ways forward, whether it be disabling draft space completely or some other reforms. The current system isn't working, and thinking about ways to change it so we don't have to waste volunteer time maintaining a broken concept would be ideal. TonyBallioni (talk) 19:03, 15 February 2020 (UTC)

  • I think it's doing exactly what it should be doing being a graveyard for crap that would otherwise get into mainspace. And also acts as a place for WP:AFC to do its role when people aren't submitting crap. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 19:13, 15 February 2020 (UTC)
    If you submit non-crap, the odds of it being found in AfC to be published in time for you to want to continue contributing approximate zero. The ideal here is that people should be able to create content that is notable and others improve it. Draft space hinders that goal, and does not help it. AfC could easily go back to the user subpage model for anyone who really wants to use it. TonyBallioni (talk) 19:22, 15 February 2020 (UTC)
    If your solution is to resume putting new submissions into mainspace, then you're basically accepting all the G13 nonsense that is there to die the slow death it deserves. If you want to make sure the good stuff gets in, then the solution here is to improve the AFC process. One thing that could be done is to tag the talk pages of drafts, so they get put in the various WP:AALERTS notice of Wikiprojects. It works pretty well at WP:JOURNALS and WP:WPWIR and other involved projects. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 19:56, 15 February 2020 (UTC)
  • I don't see what benefit the current use of draft space brings to the encyclopedia. The whole point of a wiki is that content should be developed collaboratively, but in draft space nobody finds the content that needs improving. Rather than move things to draft just for them to be deleted six months later under WP:G13 people should use the existing deletion procedures where articles should be deleted, and let articles that should not be deleted be developed in main space where they belong. The use for draft space that I would support is very different from the way that it is currently used. Because Wikinews has been a failure it would be a good place for things that are in the news, so are covered by primary sources, but have not yet been covered by proper secondary sources, but it seems that enough people come out in support of having Wikipedia articles about anything covered by newspapers to preclude this. Phil Bridger (talk) 19:53, 15 February 2020 (UTC)
  • I remember being excited about draftspace early on, because it offered a place to find and collaborate on drafts that weren't quite ready for mainspace. There were two problems, though: 1) We don't have great tools for finding drafts, or even for notifying people creating articles that there's already an extant draft (an easily missed line before you start editing a page with exactly the same title as a draft is as close as we get). So nobody really uses it for collaboration/discovery. 2) After a series of RfCs and other discussions, the function of draftspace is the same as userspace but with a countdown to deletion for newbies who don't know any better. I don't know, maybe it's useful to have a bin for pages that don't need to be deleted yet, but don't make sense for any one particular user's userspace. I'd be interested to see some statistics about its usage. Admittedly, I have a specific perspective in this. I'm disappointed that draftspace is useless for experienced editors, and of the many, many new users I engage with, the vast majority of them are through off-wiki programs (courses, edit-a-thons, etc.) -- and perhaps draftspace is really just for those newbies that come to Wikipedia with no help. If that's the purpose, we should be clear about that, though. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 20:38, 15 February 2020 (UTC)
    TonyBallioni, the problem is that Draft space has been used as a holding ground for articles that should be in Category:Articles needing additional references, but that already has 387,516 articles in it, and it's pretty obvious that if a new page patroller adds that category in stead of draftifying it, nothing will happen. So they get dumped in Draft space where they await a slow death. Somehow we should find a way to get more eyes on those articles, rather than less. Vexations (talk) 20:55, 15 February 2020 (UTC)
  • I think that realistically, there is always going to be more input than manpower available to maintain it. The Weibull distribution probably doesn't strictly apply here but I suspect that the vast majority of drafts are not going to be edited collaboratively. So if you let all these things go into articlespace you get a flood of poor articles. If you put them in draftspace, a lot will be picked out by G13. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 21:01, 15 February 2020 (UTC)
  • I am personally of the opinion an article in draft space is one that is open for people to collaborate on; whereas in userspace its more for personal development without interference (and I would expect to be able to cut/paste at article to mainspace if necessary). And I do use it that way myself with 20 drafts on my watchlist currently, fettling the drafts every 4 months or so(10 new; 10 ex-Afd; expect 5 to be in mainspace this year). But I agree an article to effective in draft space it needs to be in one or more peoples stewardship(watchlist) (not necessarily the creator) or its almost certainly a G13 goner. Its likely pointless putting a long established article with an inactive author to draftspace unless someone shows interest it. For new newspace entries a point to "help - my articles been draftified what do a do about it". I'd like to see a two week pre-G13 banner notice that could trigger people's watchlist interest if necessary to try to minimize G13/Refunds. We need to minimize admin manual work and have good process pathways. HEADBOMB's article alert suggestions may have some value. Its my bedtime so I'm probably talking dribble.Djm-leighpark (talk) 01:20, 16 February 2020 (UTC)
  • Draft space is a repeat of ideas that failed before, including the Incubator and Nupedia. Wikipedia succeeded where the perfectionist Nupedia failed because of its Wiki approach which is inherently quick and dirty. Even after 20 years, 99% of Wikipedia's content is less than good and every page has a disclaimer to warn readers that the content is not reliable. Our processes are built around this fundamental understanding and acceptance that our content is flawed and always will be. New content should be put alongside old content so that they can be read and processed together by everyone, not just an inadequate handful of inspectors. Draft space should be disabled and marked as yet another failed experiment. Andrew
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