Proposal talk:Parallel articles in same article space for controversial topics

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    The main problem with this proposal is that it is based on the premise that finding a way to present all the facts in a neutral manner is too hard so we shouldn't bother trying and instead have multiple non-neutral articles, one for each point of view. I fundamentally disagree with that premise. A neutral point of view may be dificult to achieve nevertheless I believe it is an ideal worth striving for and as we strive to bring articles ever closer to that ideal we will be improving those artices, even if they never arrive at prefect neutrality. Filceolaire 21:49, 9 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

    No, that is not the premise of the proposal. It isn't that it is too hard to present all the facts in a neutral manner - the problem is that it is impossible to present them in a neutral manner. It isn't a matter of laziness; it's a case of trying to square the circle.
    In the case of articles dealing with the Israel-Arab conflict, both sides believe disingenuously that their versions are the NPOV versions - that they are impartially presenting the facts in a neutral way. You can see this stated explicitly, where each side repeatedly uses NPOV as an argument against the other side's versions.
    I expand on this notion in an essay I wrote, that you can read here.
    The main problem with the vain pursuit of NPOV in politically charged articles is that the loser is always the reader. Disputed articles often never achieve any degree of stability. The text is not an effort to achieve clarity, but rather the result of a negotiation between editors, and often a failed negotiation at that. As a result, the text is often convoluted, articles perseverate on issues that are truly marginal, and key elements of the disagreement are buried under piles of weasely rhetoric. Examples of this are rife: look, for example, at Muhammad al-Durrah or Mohammad Amin al-Husayni.
    I have looked at these two articles and at your essay and I do not believe these articles are so dreadful that they justify the radical step proposed here. I believe that both the wordings offered for the Deir Yassin descriptions affirm that there is a dispute as to the number of casualties and both are acceptable. If the reader really wants to know which to believe then she can read the rest of the article. The articles on the two Mohammads are, in my opinion better and more useful for readers than multiple POV articles would be. Given the controversial nature of the subjects I would say Wikipedia can be proud of these articles. The Talk pages for these articles reflect this. The arguments are over minor details of presentation. These articles show that it is possible to work each day, edit by edit, to get ever closer to a neutral article even if we never arrive at the ideal of perfect neutrality.--Filceolaire 21:11, 10 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Clearly, our expectations of quality differ. --Ravpapa 12:36, 11 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    We need to start working on an encyclopedia that is reader-centric, rather than editor-centric. --Ravpapa 08:23, 10 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

    neutral editors?

    One of my concerns about this sort of forking is that it risks empowering the POV warriors at the expense of npov editors. Currently with everyone trying to edit the same article, policy and neutral third parties should backup the neutral editor. But as soon as you allow different factions to edit their own versions of events you legitimise the edit warrers and force the neutral editors to choose which side they want to edit, and then risk being accused of being an interloper from the other side. I fear that once separated the differing versions of events will tend to drift further apart.

    I suspect you won't even get rid of the conflict, as your requirement for both sides to use the same sources means you retain the difficulty of both sides arguing as to whether or not particular sources are suitable for use (though I suspect in practice the undesired sources will be cherry picked with POV editors using the other sides sources for uncontentious detail such as dates). WereSpielChequers 12:22, 12 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

    First of all, I am grateful and delighted that my proposal has engendered some serious interest. I think the most important thing here is that we start doing some original, out-of-the-box thinking about this problem. Because it is bleeding the Wikipedia. While these controversial topics (and the Middle East is only one of them) are pretty marginal to Wikipedia's mass of knowledge, they attract a share of attention far disproportional to their presence.
    Your concern is legitimate that the creation of parallel articles (I don't like the term forking - forks are in separate article spaces, and these versions are in the same article space) entails the risk of empowering POV warriors. But, as one who has been involved in these battles myself, I have come to believe that many POV warriors are mislabeled: they are not pushing a POV, they are militating for their version of NPOV. This is true on both sides of the dispute. Most pro-Palestinian editors do not want to expunge the pro-Israeli version of events, they only want to put it in the context of what they perceive as the truth. and vice versa.
    You are also right that much of the battle in these articles is over the reliability of sources. Arguments against sources have occasionally bordered on the absurd. For example, Moshe Perlmann's biography of the Grand Mufti was disallowed as a reliable source because Perlmann was an officer of British Intelligence when the Mufti was in power. This is the equivalent of disallowing Churchill's chronicles of World War II because he was Prime Minister at the time.
    This is why my proposal takes decisions about the reliability of sources out of the hands of editors involved in the article.
    The proposed requirement that opposing editors must include every referenced fact in the opposing version reduces the possibility of presenting a POV to the presentation, and not to the selection, of the material. (Note that they must not only use the same sources, they must use the same facts from those sources.) It eliminates the possibility of "cherry-picking". And the unity of content suggests that the two versions could, conceivably, be merged in the future, if some really charismatic editor were to take the task upon herself. In this case, the parallel-article approach would be a tactic in creating a version mutually agreeable to everyone, and not an end solution in itself. --Ravpapa 07:19, 14 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Having been dragged into one such saga recently I have to agree with your point that these sagas are bleeding the pedia. I'm not convinced that this would be the solution as I don't see where neutral editors would fit and I fear that allowing such parallelism could result in unpicking such neutrality as we have, but I'd be interested in seeing it trialled. Perhaps with some sort of indicator from the wider community as to the perceived neutrality and accuracy of an article. WereSpielChequers 12:26, 15 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    An article being a little bit POV is like a girl being a little bit pregnant. Once the POV warriors get their foot in the door then they won't be happy until the article reflects their view and the most extreme and persistant view will I fear tend to prevail. Look at Conservapedia. The editors trying to enforce the policies you list above will be outnumbered and disheartened. Why would they even bother fighting to improve a POV fork? I agree that we may need changes to our procedures to make life easier for NPOV editors and harder to POV warriors but I don't know what those measures might be. I am pretty sure this measure will not help.Filceolaire 23:08, 19 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

    I envy your confidence in your own ability to identify the NPOV from the POV editors. Like you, I believe that my point of view is the neutral one, and that the others are not neutral. Unfortunately, I suffer from this existential fear that maybe what I consider neutral isn't really neutral, and that the other guy is right. --Ravpapa 18:13, 20 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]