Proposal talk:Authority over content disputes

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The One Truth - the central fallacy of NPOV

This proposal, like the attempts at controlling ethnic wars on English Wikipedia, is ultimately doomed because of a central fallacy inherent in the wikipedia pillar of NPOV. This fallacy is that there actually is an NPOV that is agreeable to all reasonable editors. Unfortunately, in Wikipedia battlegrounds, there is often no NPOV. Editors are living in weltschaums so polar that a mutually agreeable neutral point is impossible.

My main experience with battleground articles has been in the area of the Israel-Arab conflict. There is a certain assumption here of non-ingenuousness on the part of editors in these articles. Editors from the other side are "POV-pushers" who are trying to promote their own opinions in the article. For the most part this is untrue: the majority of the editors I have encountered on both sides of the field are knowledgeable, have good writing skills, and, what is most important, are not fighting for their own points of view - they are fighting for their own understandings of neutrality.

Examples of this are rife. Here is a recent one: the fight over whether Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and whether it is the capital of Palestine. Both sides in this battle readily recognize, and are willing to include in the article, the opposing opinions. So the argument is not about content, but about presentation. Is it fair to say that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel when only one country (Micronesia) recognizes it as such? Is it fair to call Jerusalem the capital of Palestine, when the Palestinian National Authority in fact has no de facto jurisdiction whatsoever in Jerusalem?

Both sides in this dispute are arguing not for their own points of view, but for neutrality as they see it.

But there is no neutrality.

This proposal would remove the argument over the neutral point of view from the hands of the involved editors, and put it into the hands of a group of administrators. But why should these administrators agree about this sought-after holy grail of wikiland, the single NPOV? Because the disagreements over neutrality are not ideological, they are substantive.

Relying on recognized, acknowledged scholars is not a solution. Can you envision Rashid Khalidi and Anita Shapira, both internationally recognized scholars, leaders in their fields, with outstanding academic credentials, collaborating on a single, agreed article on the Middle East conflict?

No, the solution is not to escalate arguments over NPOV to a higher authority. The solution is to recognize that there are topics about which there is no agreed NPOV, and to allow the warring camps to create their own versions of NPOV. I have written a proposal in this vein at Proposal:Parallel articles in same article space for controversial topics, and have also written an essay about this at The Politicization of Wikipedia. This suggestion has engendered very little interest and certainly no support, which encourages me to think it is a really good idea. --Ravpapa 07:25, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

Comment by FT2

From seeing how wiki disputes work, I have very strong concerns about "content arbitration". What starts as a well-intentioned hope of resolving content disputes may well lead to a fossilization of views, a "Wikipedia official view", and and a far more serious problem in future. I also think the problem is not that NPOV fails, but that people don't understand what NPOV is about, and it isn't given a chance to succeed.

  • Comment on arbitrated content is here. (disclosure: I was an enwiki arbitrator at the time)
  • Comment on the above post re NPOV and Israel-palestine, is here

There are much better ways to handle both of these problems, that have a much better chance of avoiding these side-effects.

(brief post only, I'm on vacation!) FT2 (Talk | email) 19:22, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

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