Multiple point of view

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Crystal wordprocessing.png This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

A group of people, even if all consider themselves part of a single community, inherently has multiple point of view. Each person has their own point of view.

While editorial conventions such as NPOV make it easy to state views in ways that can be verified or refuted, they simply do not cause the underlying multiple views to go away or be less keenly felt or believed. Views that cannot be accommodated within a given discourse, like an encyclopedia article, will still show up on talk pages, deletion discussions, and forked wikis protesting Wikipedia policies. Just because it doesn't belong (yet!) in an encyclopedia is no reason not to deal serious with a view.

Meta is for the multiple point of view of Wikipedia. Many conflicting Wikipedia philosophies have arisen, including at least one - factionalism - which identifies lack of an explicit way to accommodate multiple points of view as a serious and longstanding problem in the project. One early proposal, the IPA or TIPAESA format, has since been adopted by other public wikis, especially political ones like openpolitics.ca (Canada) and dkosopedia.com (US). It is actually quite easy to elaborate even a contentious issue on one page if appropriate multiple views exist.

Another project accommodating multiple views is wikinfo.org which uses a sympathetic point of view convention for the main article, but allows critical point of view to be separately stated in a parallel article. This is the simplest model.

A sort of fusion of the two models, the issue/yes/no convention, has been employed in recent mediawiki releases. This is a good first step since the simplest position on any issue is "yes, this is an issue" or "no, this is not an issue". Named positions are the next step, and they allow issue statements to be more neutral as any judgemental terms are moved to the positions. Arguments pro and con, and counter-arguments to these, can all be accommodated even just within the IPA subset of TIPAESA. Knowing what the long term goal is, makes it easier to accommodate multiple point of view, and provides a graceful way to accommodate a growing conflict.

For good examples of handling multiple point of view, the featured issue list of openpolitics.ca is helpful. For instance, the page on whether Canada should recognize Hamas as the government of Palestine/Gaza is particularly interesting. While it's not devoid of bias, it's quite obvious where the biases go. And as contentious issues go, this would be one of the worst. So if it works for that kind of issue, why wouldn't it work for the lesser issues we face?