Talk:Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Working Groups/Diversity/Recommendations/13

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This draft gearing toward English Wikipedia?[edit]

Has the draft considered the effects on all Wikimedia projects, like Wikipedia? Looks like the current draft is about mostly English Wikipedia, isn't it? If that's not it, how does this draft address issues at non-English projects, like Croatian Wikipedia and Azerbaijan Wikipedia, which were plagued with content and community issues addressed at Meta-wiki? Also, the draft is written in English (can't tell, though, whether it was well skilled or needs improvements) and not yet translated into other languages. George Ho (talk) 22:17, 16 August 2019 (UTC)

I agree this needs to be articulated clearly. "Notability" in (English) Wikipedia terms is not even relevant for many if not most of the Wikimedia projects, for instance Wikisource. Nemo 10:18, 17 August 2019 (UTC)

Notability & reliable sources[edit]

First, I can't help but suspect that this recommendation is the work of specific individuals who have had problems with their articles concerning notability, & reliable/verifiable sources. If this issue & the recommendations weren't so general & vague, I could dismiss this as a case of baseless suspicion, but regardless to agree with this proposal would enable them to demand their unsatisfactory articles be accepted without review. I don't have any proof it is whom I suspect, & honestly it is not important that I name them, but fairness demands I admit my suspicions before stating my piece.

In some ways, the Notability/Reliable sources rules at en.wikpedia are broken, especially when it is applied to certain topics; I can attest this is the case with African history. It is difficult to obtain materials to research various events in African history, & such materials tend to be primary sources which are discouraged for use in writing articles. (The reason why primary sources tend to be more available than secondary is simple: working with limited funds, libraries will favor collecting primary sources over secondary ones, especially when these secondary sources are esoteric & too technical for the general user. The research libraries that do collect the secondary sources en.wikipedia policy favors are few & restrict access.) In short, the material is out there, & available, but not in a form that many Wikipedians would accept, out of fear this would lead to violation of the No original research rule.

One solution that occurs to me would be to modify the rules to accept the most reliable sources available. In some cases this would use secondary sources; in others it would be the present the unadorned facts of primary sources, properly attributed & the absolute minimum of interpretation. My proposal might not be the best solution, but it is a specific proposal based on well-defined problem one can understand & thus either agree or disagree with. A specific proposal is what is needed to improve diversity; vague suggestions based on vague complaints will not only fail to fix the problem, but weaken our methods to assure we are writing the best possible content. -- Llywrch (talk) 17:07, 20 August 2019 (UTC)

It sounds to me like what we need to do is not to start using or accepting sources that don't meet the reliability criteria. Rather, since those sources exist but are hard to access, why doesn't WMF use its rather substantial clout to help us get access to them? For that matter, I see no reason WMF couldn't help found high-quality, peer-reviewed, open-access journals specifically for underrepresented subjects. If the problem is that reliable sources are lacking or hard to access in certain areas, why don't we fix that rather than using poor ones? Seraphimblade (talk) 18:27, 21 August 2019 (UTC)
If we're talking about Africa, for instance, their success in establishing international journals which are fully open access is higher than in Europe or USA by several measures. It's extremely unlikely that any toll-access journal may be needed as a source. I agree it's possible that some help is needed to surface the sources available out there. Perhaps translation is a barrier and a cost which money can help with. Nemo 06:08, 22 August 2019 (UTC)
The current Wikijournals proposal would be an excellent step forward in this direction. Also I think an encyclopaedia is a very specific thing, that depends on certain other specific things, namely published scholarship and accessible secondary sources. There are certainly many other valuable things to do to make the sum of all human knowledge accessible, but I think we have to recognise that all of these things are not necessarily encyclopaedic. The bits that can be an encyclopaedia should be one, and the bits that don’t fit the encyclopaedia model should adopt other models and get going. Everything can be part of a family of open knowledge projects but it is a mistake to think that everything can be part of an encyclopaedia. Diversity in sources and in methods of gathering and sharing is great. An encyclopaedia on its own cannot be diverse in this way because it must be what it is, or be nothing. Mccapra (talk) 21:51, 21 August 2019 (UTC)

Much of this can be accomplished without changing either reliable source or notability standards[edit]

I am assuming this is primarily written to cover larger Wikipedias, since these two concepts are primarily related to Wikipedias rather than any of the other existing projects. I do agree that there is limited knowledge of what would constitute a reliable source in some regions or contexts; for example, few Wikipedians will have enough context to know whether a Ghanaian news publication is locally equivalent to the Washington Post or to the National Enquirer. The same is true when determining notability, often because there aren't a lot of sources that help give context to whether (as an example) a musician is popular throughout a country or has never performed outside of their region. This seems to be more an issue of better educating both the existing editing community (particularly with regard to sourcing) and new editors (particularly in what to include in articles to demonstrate notability). Notability and reliable source standards vary from project to project and are applied by those local editing communities; there aren't global standards for these concepts, and I don't think you've made the case for them. Risker (talk) 03:31, 23 August 2019 (UTC)

@Risker, if the recommendation were, "We need to have community conversations regarding the on-going standards and goals for our encyclopedia projects including improving quality assurance measures to meet those standards and goals." I would agree. But here the working group is making an absolute recommendation that notability and sourcing standards are wrong and must change. The Working Group has not engaged here with further dialog on this recommendation, which is very troubling. I agree with your observation that "I don't think you've made a case for [global standards]". Hlevy2 (talk) 13:50, 1 September 2019 (UTC)
I agree with Risker, and I think that point is made in several places in this recommendation, e.g., "Too much bias in implementing the notability criteria. Ie. topics that pass these criteria through non-western reliable sources still get flagged a lot of times". The main problem isn't necessarily "the criteria" so much as (some) people (sometimes) implementing the criteria unfairly. I have seen, for example, editors at the English Wikipedia insisting that all articles about schools for teenagers are automatically notable, and then voting to delete an article about exactly that kind of school in Asia.
Purely encyclopedic activities, such as like writing good articles about periodicals, could be really helpful in this regard. Imagine a world in which editors don't have to guess whether a news website in an unfamiliar language is reputable based on its aesthetic model, because the sum of all human knowledge about newspapers, magazines, and academic journals was already in Wikipedia. We have some (including articles in the English Wikipedia about the biggest privately owned daily and the biggest government-owned newspaper in Ghana), but we need more. Maybe we could somehow support a Wikimedian in residence or a partnership with a group such as the w:en:International Coalition on Newspapers to improve those articles. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:40, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
Your issue of schools is a demonstration of textbook America-centric bias and how adorning the robes of an overzealous benefactor can be counterproductive.
In India, the number of local newspapers is vastly less than in USA/UK. We don't have a newspaper for every district (constituent units of a state)/major town; vernacular publications cover an entire state, almost always and that too, are few enough in number. The consequences are probably rationally expected and everybody from the Indian Wikiproject indeed knows that it's outright insane to expect coverage of every random higher-secondary school and above in our reliable newspapers. For an anecdotal experience, I have not seen any of the 5 higher secondary schools in our area to be covered in any newspaper in a substantial fashion -- one made it to a city-page news after a student committed suicide whilst another was name-dropped in a list courtesy its students performing well in an exam.
Now, an AfD about an Indian school will attract more heads from India than some other nation, generally. That's because AfDs are sorted in country-specific lists which are often keenly watched by country-project-regulars. Same for a school in USA, which draws it's own country/state-project-regulars in more numbers. There also exists a common domain of users who patrol education-AfDs-list and make a common appearance in both.
So, in a general afore-described AfD, most of the folks from Indian Wikiproject says that the article ought be deleted because there's no source and there's no rational expectation of finding any source whilst some overzealous western guys !votes to keep them, because we are perpetuating systemic bias otherwise. Some of the latter allege that there must exist some source (which the delete !voters can't find for the time being), because the same type of schools in USA do have them! The last time I checked Indian-school-AfDs scenario, a few those AfDs were successful because the sheer volume of INB editors usually out-voiced or convinced the SYSBIAS folks.
In totality, we have, in the name of fighting systemic bias, an effective imposition of an America-centric version of notability which compels us to often keep articles of schools, about which precious nothing is known save that they exist and are accredited.
P.S.:- You can replace India with any country from S. Asia., as to the broader view-port of newspaper availability and their coverage.Winged Blades of Godric (talk) 15:48, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
Winged Blades of Godric, I believe that if you look around the "NSCHOOLS" debates, you will find that I am a committed opponent of the "every school for teenagers is automatically notable" rule. If you would like a particularly appalling example, look around until you find me asking about a specific short-lived 19th century school, whose name is not known, but which some editors were perfectly willing to declare to be notable and worth of an article, so long as it ever issued even a single high school diploma.
The point of my example, however, isn't to debate whether it's possible to find the sources that I think would be appropriate to support an article about any given school. The point is to say that if any given editor happens to loudly support the "automatic notability" idea for all high schools (an idea that – theoretically, at least – the English Wikipedia does not accept even to the notability of obvious cases, such as US presidents and chemical elements), and then that same editor declares that a substantially equivalent school in an Asian is non-notable because of its location, then I think the word most commonly used to describe that situation is "hypocrisy". I'd much prefer a situation in which someone said "Ooops, I guess we need independent sources for all the high schools", but that's not what happened.
I think this could be summarized in a form of Hoyle's Law: Whatever the game, whatever the rules, the rules are the same for both sides. Not "All US high schools are automatically notable, but Indian schools have to prove 500 words in multiple independent sources", not "Male authors need one independent source to avoid a deletion discussion, but female authors need three", not "American television shows for adults are notable, but American television shoes for children are not", but just the same rules for all the schools, all the authors, all the television shows, etc., always. If the Indian high schools need to cite two independent sources, then so should the US schools, the UK schools, the Australian schools, and so forth. And if the US high schools don't, then no high school does, no matter what country it's in. We should not have different rules for people and institutions in different countries, of different races, gender, religion, etc. The rules should be the same, and be enforced the same, for everyone. WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:17, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
It's confusing two separate things to talk about whether high schools should have an article, and whether they have 2 conventional reliable sources for notability according to the English WPs GNG guideline. The question about what should be in an encyclopedia is defined by the policy at WP:NOT, as modified by whatever guideline and practices the community decides on, either formally or informally case by case at deletion discussions. For many years we had a practice that we would not necessarily use the guideline for secondary schools, but simply accept them all, to avoid questions about what counts as a RS for the purpose, such as the perfectly reasonable problems discussed above--the practice was defined by en:WP:Notability (high schools). This rule was superseded by the RFC at [ ], which basically says this should use the GNG applied a little liberally. Since then, the various people on each side seem to have been over-saturated with the topic, and very few AFDs have taken place, with variable outcomes, as is usual at enWP AFDs.
In practice, the enWP uses the GNG which depends on sourcing, not the importance of the subject, for most topics. It adjusts this to what people want to do by interpreting the factors "significant coverage", "reliable", "secondary sources" "independent pf the subject" . and "presumed" differently for different topics. For example, since we were concerned that having articles on new companies was an opening for promotionalism, it was decided to restrict the sources considered reliable to consider those dealing just with funding or the like as trivial coverage -- see [1].
Other language WPs seem unfortunately to be following the enWP example. de, for one.
The solution to differential or disproportionate coverage is to explicitly decide what we want to include. We still need to be limited by the one basic role, WP:V -- there needs to be some reliable source. Other than that we should include what we have a consensus to include, not manipulate the way we argue about interpretations of exceptions to guidelines in the hope of it coming out as we want. When we do that, to get the desired results, these interpretations/practices/guidelines would need to be, and are, different in every field. What counts as significant for some organizations is not significant for others. What counts as a RS for schools in India is not a sufficient RS for notability purposes for schools in the US. We are continually reinterpreting with notability requires meeting both the GNG and specific guidelines, or requires meeting either the GNG or specific guidelines--these are a number of contradictory statements of this. In some fields, such as business people, we care strictly about secondary sources--in some, such as athletes, we accept primary. In some, like social influencers, we try to find every excuse to distort wording to delete; in others, like scientific prodigies, every possible artifical way to exclude. What counts as "presumed" is very different for schools, where the current RfC says the resumption can be dismissed by not finding sources after a naïve search of the internet, to others, such as historical figures, whee without any actual guideline the presumption is always accepted. We accept early European settlers in some regions on the basis of just being there.
Unlike in Hoyle, we should not be playing games. We write for our readers. If we conclude that we need or do not need to have the depth of a sports almanac for minor leaguers, we can say so; if we think we need depth of a legislative manual for state legislators, we can say so it; if we want or do not want to include every recording by a major artist, or every recording by a major artist for popular but not classical music, we can say so. If we decide it is--or is not--appropriate to counter systematic discrimination by accepting first female/first person of colour/first person of a particular religion to do something in a nation (or local area) we can say that; if we think such practice intrinsically wrong we can decide that instead. (I'm deliberately choosing areas where there's been controversy, and also ones where I support and do not support the current position) If we decide that because of social or government facotrs or questionable reliability of sources for a particular country, we want to be more or less selective, we can; What we should not do is leave it up the accidents of the type of sourcing, or the skill of the debaters at an AfD.
In a sense I'm arguing against my own interes, for in many fields I know enougho say that any particular source is sufficient or insufficient for notability according to the result I want, and in some areas a reasonable number of people sometimes to follow my lead. It shouldn't be that way. DGG (talk) 22:55, 19 September 2019 (UTC)