Wikipedia talk:Criticism

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Criticism guideline?[edit]

This has been an essay for quite some time, and there has recently been at least one controversy about a criticism article which has even left the wiki into the (sort of) real world. Many people have strong opinions on how the project should handle criticism, particularly dedicated criticism articles.

As a first question, is a guideline about criticism worth having or will it cause more problems than it solves? If there is a guideline, what should it cover? Just for simplicity, I'll include my response to the question here:

  • Support having a guideline. I would propose that the guideline cover situations when dedicated criticism sections or articles are appropriate and guidelines for use of potentially biased secondary sources. Much of the current content can be retained as an essay, since it is mostly suggestions rather than expectations. SDY (talk) 01:08, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
  • Support only if it discourages them. Sceptre (talk) 08:09, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose We're getting far too much instruction creep at this point, and I prefer the "exceptional cases make bad law" concept -- we should not create a guideline because a controversy has erupted over a single article, nor should a guideline be written while criticism and controversy rage on Wikipedia over the concept. Let things continue to be handled on a case-by-case basis at WP:AfD and other fora, and if a consensus opinion emerges de facto, we should only then consider formalizing it into a guideline. RayTalk 14:48, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
  • Support, or amend WP:NPOV: There's definitely a way to cover criticism of a topic in a neutral way, but in many cases we fail. A few sentences on this would be helpful. Randomran (talk) 20:35, 14 April 2009 (UTC)

Relisted to generate a more thorough discussion so a clearer consensus may be reached.
Relisting comment: Relisted with discussion moved from WP:RFC/BOARD
Please add new comments below this notice. Thanks, G. C. Hood (talk) 21:14, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

In a number of articles on Wikpedia, there is a section labeled "criticisms" but no section for the opposite viewpoint. I believe in order to remove this subtle bias from articles and to keep Wikipedia neutral a different approach should be followed. Either there should be an opposing and opposite section, or the criticisms section should be changed to something with a bias-neutral title like "opposing viewpoints", and criticisms as well as accolades for disputable entries should always include both sides for a balanced view when reasonably possible.

Consensus seems to be that any valid and notable criticism should be worked into the article where it applies rather than concentrated in a special section.--Charles (talk) 08:34, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
I agree, and so do the authors of the essay Wikipedia: Criticism.
Is that essay adequate, or should we promote that essay to a WP:GUIDELINE ? --DavidCary (talk) 16:50, 13 June 2014 (UTC)
  • Support promoting WP:CRITICISM to a guideline. It's been standard practice to avoid criticism sections and articles for years, but they still pop up in places they shouldn't. Having a guideline would make the existing consensus clearer. G. C. Hood (talk) 21:14, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support As I explained here. Mhhossein (talk) 06:20, 30 January 2016 (UTC)

Criticism vs. critical reception[edit]

I am sure that there are very good historical reasons why this article focuses on negative criticism, as this is likely to be controversial. It seems to me, however, that much of what it says applies to positive critical reception, as well. For example, in the approaches section, would we only want to suggest that negative criticism be integrated into sections, or should positive critical response also be integrated?

I am wondering how the article would read if "negative criticism" were to be replaced by "critical reception" wherever possible. There would still be places where negative criticism is being exclusively addressed, of course, and those should remain as is. I've tried to explore what this might look like: Wikipedia talk:Criticism/Criticism workpage hgilbert (talk) 11:06, 26 April 2013 (UTC)

That's a good question. I suppose the essay focuses on negative criticism because 99% of the time the essay is invoked to address a situation where an editor erroneously emphasized negative critical material. The purpose of the essay, in those common situations, is to educate the offending editor: "Look, if you want to include negative material, fine, but it has to be done as follows....". Changing the title or emphasis of the essay to "critical reception" in general would somewhat undermine that primary purpose of the essay. You are correct that the essay could be written symmetrically, applying equally to positive & negative criticism. The risk is that changing the emphasis would dilute the message - and editors sent to this essay may miss the primary point. --Noleander (talk) 15:42, 29 April 2013 (UTC)


This page says (in WP:CRITICISM#Living persons) that there are strict rules governing the inclusion of negative material on living persons, and we should consult WP:BLP for details. On consulting WP:BLP I noticed that that page basically says of this issue "don't create attack pages on private figures; don't add negative material on public figures unless you can find multiple reliable sources". Virtually every instance of the word "negative" is in the context "whether positive or negative". Since the relevant policy page has so little to say on the subject, shouldn't we just include it on this page and link to the relevant policy page anyway? (talk) 00:50, 14 May 2014 (UTC)

Controversy on how to classify a topic[edit]

This discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.
Closed by G. C. Hood (talk) 21:25, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

I have a unusual case that isn't covered by this article or the above talk points. When there is disagreement (from sourced material) on how to categorize a topic, how shall this be handled? It certainly doesn't need a section discussing the disagreement, nor is it clear how to mention it in the text or how to deal with it in relation to related topics. The case I have in mind is an alternative health modality, Rolfing. The debate is whether it should be described as bodywork, manual therapy or manipulative therapy, or massage. Presently the article uses the term massage, however practitioners of Rolfing say that it is not massage. This disagreement comes about because a number of secondary sources call it a type of massage, while a number of other secondary sources avoid using the word massage and some even bother to clarify that it's often mistaken for massage. The word massage is sometimes used by the general population as a synonym for bodywork, yet bodywork practitioners often understand that the term "bodywork" is more inclusive; see bodywork (alternative medicine) for a brief review of this. The word "massage" comes from the word for dough (masa for instance) and it has a connotation of kneading the muscles. Hands-on approaches that are more sophisticated than kneading will sometimes avoid the term massage. Another factor: there is a massage tradition that has developed over time, and Rolfing does not have a place within that tradition but rather has its own history, teachers, schools, etc. One cannot attend massage school to learn Rolfing. Is there a WP policy on how to handle this sort of problem? I welcome suggestions, and also if an experienced editor would be interested in collaborating with me to put together a draft of changes to propose to the page's editors, I would appreciate it! -Karinpower (talk) 03:36, 26 May 2014 (UTC)

The core of the difference in opinion appears to be whether or not this is medicine (therapy). This is something that should be explained in the article, all relevant views based on sources (that is sources directly relating to rolfing) should be in the article. Don't bother about the "dough" translation (for instance) if that is not in sources directly relating to rolfing (otherwise drawing it in would be original research). whether or not the medicine / no medicine controversy should be in a separate section is not the first concern. The first concern is to describe it properly, based on sources, in the article.
All in all I rather recommend Wikipedia:Fringe theories/Noticeboard if you need further help on this (you'll see the case isn't all that unusual as you thought). --Francis Schonken (talk) 03:59, 26 May 2014 (UTC)
Nope, I think you've misunderstood. This is not at all a debate about whether it's medicine and the WP:FRINGE status isn't being contested - the studies that have been done weren't published in a mainstream WP:MEDRS quality journal, so that's that, til better quality studies emerge. Again, the question is about whether "massage" is used in the first sentence of the article as part of the basic description (and currently it is used in 4 other places). And again, the secondary sources are split, with several sources acknowledging the confusion and explaining why massage is the incorrect term. Comments from others, please? Thanks!--Karinpower (talk) 04:15, 26 May 2014 (UTC)
If calling it a fringe theory isn't the problem, then surely Wikipedia:Fringe theories/Noticeboard is a better venue for your question. Your question is in no way unusual there, see intro of that noticeboard's page: it's about helping you to put together the content of any fringe-theory related page (as much as drawing the fringe / no fringe line which is no concern here I see). --Francis Schonken (talk) 04:37, 26 May 2014 (UTC)
My question is quite pertinent to this subject of how to deal with controversy on WP, I think, and it's not addressed in this article which I think is an opportunity. The question of a disagreement about how to categorize something has to an issue that has been found in many other areas, not just alternative health. Can anyone else chime in on this, please? Thanks!--Karinpower (talk) 17:59, 28 May 2014 (UTC)
categorize can have a specific meaning in Wikipedia, see Wikipedia:Categorization, but I assume that's not what you meant.
How to qualify a topic in the lede of an article that falls under WP:FRINGE is an excellent question for Wikipedia:Fringe theories/Noticeboard. See for instance Wikipedia:Fringe theories/Noticeboard#5:2 diet for a similar question being treated there. I would be wrong not to point you in the right direction on your question. This talk page is about the content of the Wikipedia:Criticism page. I'm not sure what you would like to see improved to that page? Then even if the page is improved, it is an essay (see notice at the top of the page), not a guideline or a policy, so anything written there is superseded by, for instance, the guidance at WP:FRINGE. Nor is this talk page, probably only monitored by those who are interested in the content of the actual essay, something that will attract much attention for multiple views on how to write (the lede of) the Rolfing article. If you find something useful in the essay, by all means use it. If you would like the essay to have more content on how to treat criticism in a lead section, by all means propose it. But questions on how to apply content that isn't in the essay to an encyclopedia article (when there is an excellent other venue for such questions) will probably not attract so many answers. Just some friendly advise. --Francis Schonken (talk) 20:17, 28 May 2014 (UTC)

Thanks, actually Wikipedia:Categorization is exactly what I was looking for. Sometimes it's hard to find what you need until you know what term WP uses for it. I suppose at this point, this entire section could get archived if you wish to clean up the talk page to keep it more tightly constrained to the article. However, I do think it could be useful to for the essay to say a bit about how to handle controversies around categorization. Especially when sources disagree on it. --Karinpower (talk) 18:36, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

Removing the "criticism" label makes valuable content harder to find[edit]

The introduction says:

"Editors should avoid having a separate section in an article devoted to criticism, controversies, or the like because these sections call undue attention to negative viewpoints. Instead, articles should present positive and negative viewpoints from reliable sources together, fairly, proportionately, and without bias."

As a reader I frequently look for a "criticism" section title in an article. A clearly labeled "criticism' section makes it easy to find positive and negative viewpoints. Such paragraphs often link to very interesting documents.

Further in the article section on "Avoid sections and articles focusing on criticisms or controversies":

"the word "Criticism" should be avoided in section titles because it may convey a negative connotation to many readers. Alternative section titles which avoid a negative connotation include "Reception", "Reviews", "Responses", "Reactions", "Critiques", and "Assessments"."

Renaming section titles is only going to make valuable criticism hard to find in long articles.

Is there a place to discuss this and suggest another policy? --Rougieux (talk) 13:04, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

This is the place, however convincing long time editors is going to be hard. Generally I find many, not all, criticism sections becoming a toilet. It is just how it has rolled. Basileias (talk) 05:42, 27 September 2014 (UTC)
Seconded. Filtering out negativity is something someone can do for him/herself, not necessarily something Wikipedia should accomodate in general. --Francis Schonken (talk) 15:26, 27 September 2014 (UTC)

Dated example[edit]

The article for Igor Stravinsky no longer includes a Criticism section (but rather a Reception section). Should this example be changed? ~Mable (chat) 13:17, 30 December 2014 (UTC)

When should critical reception or controversies be included in the lede?[edit]

Question: to what extent should the reception of a topic generally, or controversies about the topic specifically, be included in the lede?

The example I am looking at is the Waldorf education article. Should the lede be about neutral themes, characterizing the theme, and both positive and negative reception/critique be placed in the body? Or should some reception be included in the lede? I'd like some neutral parties (I am not one!) to give advice here, please. HGilbert (talk) 00:38, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

There is no general answer to your question, except perhaps the general recommendations of WP:BALASPS ("...treat each aspect with a weight appropriate to the weight of that aspect in the body of reliable sources on the subject..."). As for the body of the article: it has currently six main sections (content sections), with criticism afaics about half of such a section. If that corresponds to WP:BALASPS, then the lede should have a comparable ratio of criticism. The lede has four paragraphs, the criticism being described in about a third of its last paragraph. Which is about 1/12th of the text of the lede, so approximately the same ratio as for the body. So in a first quantitative approach this seems OK (if IRL, roughly, 1/12th of the reliable sources are devoted to criticism).
WP:FTN seems an appropriate place for more input if that answer doesn't cover your concerns. --Francis Schonken (talk) 06:18, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. This is helpful. (Other than the choice of noticeboard; Waldorf is regarded by educationalists as a mainstream approach.) HGilbert (talk) 10:27, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

Changing the "Criticism" heading to a "Reception," "Response" or "Reviews" heading in articles[edit]

Changing the "Criticism" heading to a "Reception", "Response" or "Reviews" heading does not work for every type of article. Furthermore, when a section is only a criticism matter, and especially when that's all sources have to offer on the subject, the heading is better off titled "Criticism," not by the less specific titles of "Reception," "Response," "Reviews" or "Reactions." Not to mention that changing the heading in such a way can be non-WP:Neutral (see WP:Due weight and its subsections), as opposed to this WP:Essay asserting that changing the heading to those other titles is usually neutral. This is why, in the essay, I changed "usually" to "commonly." It depends on how/why editors are changing these titles. A few times I've seen editors change a perfectly valid "Criticism" heading to "Reception" while citing this WP:Essay (or something similar), as if it is a WP:Policy or guideline, and when "Reception" is not quite fitting in those cases. In my opinion, "Reception" is more fitting for a work of art (whether it be a book, a play, a television show or television episode, a film, etc.) or some other concept where "Reception" does not look out of place. Recently, Waters.Justin changed the criticism headings at the Penile plethysmograph and Reproductive rights articles to "Reception," and I reverted, as seen here and here. It does not make sense to me to use "Reception" in those cases, as if we are gauging the popularity of a book. But I did change the Penile plethysmograph's criticism heading to "Views" afterward. I also added "Views" to the essay as an alternative heading because it is always an appropriate heading for representing the public's thoughts on a subject. And because of some editors thinking that "Reception," "Response" or "Reviews" headings can be fitting in any case, I added the following text to the essay:

However, headings should be accurate. While "Reception" and "Reviews" are headings commonly seen in television and film articles (see MOS:TV and MOS:FILM), they might be less appropriate for a biological and/or medical topic (see MOS:MED), for example. If a reaction section only has criticism to offer per the available sources, it might be best to title the section "Criticism."

Francis Schonken came along and reverted all of my additions, stating, "the word 'criticism' not mentioned once in MOS:MED.", as if that was the point. The point of me linking to MOS:MED was to show what headings are usually used for those types of articles, just like I pointed to MOS:TV and MOS:FILM for the "Reception" and "Reviews" matters. I'd looked in the edit history of this essay before I started making changes to it, so I knew that there was a high chance that Francis Schonken would revert me on something. But to revert me on all of that? Considering that this essay is currently only watched by 85 people (including me), maybe I should just jump right into a WP:RfC on this matter, and alert the relevant WikiProjects to this discussion; I don't feel like thoroughly debating this topic, especially since I don't see why my additions need debating. Flyer22 (talk) 11:42, 22 May 2015 (UTC)

I understand your position here and I agree that in some cases "Reception" is indeed not quite fitting. But "Response" or "Reviews" should be more fitting in those cases. I am against criticism even in cases when a reaction section only has criticism to offer per the available sources because it might be non-neutral and can open Pandora's box and unnecessarily disputes. If you still insist on your position it might be a good idea to initiate RfC.--Antidiskriminator (talk) 12:00, 22 May 2015 (UTC)
"Reviews" is similar to "Reception." I don't see either as fitting in the cases of the Penile plethysmograph and Reproductive rights articles, for example. I further tweaked the Penile plethysmograph matter.
Jeraphine Gryphon, since you reverted Francis Schonken, and then Francis Schonken reverted you, do you have anything you want to state in this section? Flyer22 (talk) 12:05, 22 May 2015 (UTC)
In the context of a content titled WP:Criticisms the edit that Jeraphine Gryphon saved seems to me to have a high level of relevance. GregKaye 19:10, 23 May 2015 (UTC)
Late reply: The penile plethysmograph is not solely or even mostly used for erectile dysfunction matters; so that the criticism in that article is not "directed at use of the device as part of an erectile dysfunction treatment" is not surprising to me. Before your response above, I'd changed the "Criticism" heading into a "Views" heading after combining two of the sections; this is similar to a Society and culture section, which is an option listed at MOS:MED#Sections. Criticism is also at a different part of the article; other criticism is in the "Legal admissibility" section, which should perhaps be combined with the "Ethics and legality" subsection of the "Views" section. Either way, my point is that your suggested headings led an editor to add headings that don't fit and your essay should be less of a "one size fits all" prescription. Flyer22 (talk) 05:43, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
If a section contains a content that is best defined by the terms "criticism" or "criticisms" then the terms "criticism" or "criticisms" should be used as per MOS:HEADINGS. GregKaye 18:57, 23 May 2015 (UTC)
A meta-discussion like this isn't terribly useful. It all depends on the context and subject matter of the article. "Criticism" and "reception" mean very different things in different realms of knowledge. A top-down approach of trying to prescribe a rule for all articles from an essay page is hard. - Wikidemon (talk) 01:26, 24 May 2015 (UTC)

I was going to start a WP:RfC on what I stated above, but I no longer see the need to; if someone changes an appropriately titled heading away from "Criticism" because of this essay, then not only will I point out this is merely an essay, I will point to the "Criticism" section portion of it that states, "A section dedicated to negative material is sometimes appropriate, if the sources treat the negative material as an organic whole, and if readers would be better served by seeing all the negative material in one location." And if that portion is changed to make it seem like a "Criticism" heading is never appropriate, then I will start a WP:RfC on that.

This revert by Francis Schonken, of an edit made by Wikidemon, is something else I might start a WP:RfC on, since debating absent one will not help a thing; my feelings on Wikidemon's edits in that regard are made clear with this link. GregKaye also offered his opinion on it. Flyer22 (talk) 05:43, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

TY Flyer22. An RfC, which ideally might not be necessary, would certainly be of benefit here. I don't know what you think but it occurs to me that the opening text of WP:Criticism#"Reception" type section presents unnecessary WP:EDITORIAL in saying "An acceptable approach to including criticisms in Wikipedia articles is to separate the description of a topic from a description of how the topic was received." It seems to me that this is laced with bias when, in various circumstances, a direct presentation of a "Criticism"/"Criticisms" section may even be preferable.
It also seems to me that Francis Schonken frequently reverts editor input with no conceivable justification other than that consensus had not been achieved. For instance, I attempted changes to WP:AT#Use commonly recognizable names here, here, here, here, here, here and here. All attempted changes were made in accordance to arguments that Francis Schonken had personally supported in the talk page and, in the last case, constituted changes that Francis Schonken had personally proposed. Regardless of this s/he has continually reverted changes typically citing "no consensus" yet offering no actual criticism of the actual change made. My experience is that this behaviour is very disheartening. Efforts are made for, I think, constructive change which are then undone with a click. GregKaye 08:59, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
Well, the WP:EDITORIAL and bias links are to guidelines. Those guidelines are for article space; they are not for dictating how an editor writes an essay. Flyer22 (talk) 09:43, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
I do not see how, even if it were considered that guidelines fully applied to all contents, that there would be any sense of dictation. For a start, according to WP:PG, "Wikipedia does not employ hard-and-fast rules". Questioning, the use of one word is a radically different thing from an imposition of specific wording. Also policy and guidance are regularly applied to wider contents which is something that is regularly seen in locations such as WP:RM. If a principle works in one Wikipedia context there is arguably a strong possibility that it can apply to another Wikipedia context. Maybe I shouldn't have responded to the ping. GregKaye 15:50, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
Noting here that I already replied to GregKaye. WP:EDITORIAL is not a Wikipedia essay matter; nothing at WP:Words to watch is. Flyer22 (talk) 17:05, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
I've gone ahead and restored the changes,[1] which seem to have a consensus of three here. Francis Schonken's new edits[2] seem mostly helpful, but I don't think consensus exists for their exact version. In particular: (a) it is important to say why swamping articles with criticism — even if positive and negative are in balance — is not a good idea, because some editors think that all you have to do to make an article neutral is to balance things out, when in fact it turns an article that should be about a thing into an article about people's irrelevant opinions about it; (b) it is incorrect to say that the amount of space devoted to criticism of a subject should reflect the proportion of criticism in the sources, as neither word count nor ghits are reliable sources — for example, most people do not like the film 2001, widely considered one of the great films of all time, and simply counting sources you could find a lot of people who say that broccoli and cilantro are yucky, along with many French cheeses, though people's dislike of these things is of only minor relevance to their notability; and (c) the "mixed bag" commentary is confusing and possibly incorrect: for some subjects like film or schools of philosophy, critical reception is quite germane, it may be all over the map, and is nothing like trivia. "Germane" may not be a common way to put it, but the meaning of the word is quite clear. It is a combination of both relevance and weight, standard inclusion criteria on Wikipedia. - Wikidemon (talk) 18:07, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
I also tightened up the lede,[3] which was quite redundant. - Wikidemon (talk) 18:07, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I don't think "germane" is a useful word. --Francis Schonken (talk) 18:54, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
    • Fine, but Oxford English Dictionary begs to differ. Although simpler, we could instead say "relevant and of due weight to". Since you're watching this page I'll spare you an edit-warring caution on your talk page, but you seem to have a case of WP:OWN here. You've made this particular reversion four times, five if you count your original edit to add the "mixed bag" commentary. Not all of your edits are going to gain consensus. Unless you care to explain yourself, regarding anything you dispute we'll restore the version that does appear to have consensus, which I think would be more productive than simply rolling back all of your recent edits while waiting for a more full discussion of which have approval and which do not. - Wikidemon (talk) 19:09, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
      • Dictionaries don't say whether words are useful in a certain context. "Relevant" has the same problem of vagueness. "Due weight" is a useful concept (WP:WEIGHT), but in the context I still don't think it very helpful. The essay tries to help people understand how due weight is applied to "criticism": when one starts out with using the concept before it is explained, all one gets is tautologies like: "in order to give due weight to criticism apply it with due weight", which really says nothing. --Francis Schonken (talk) 19:32, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
        • I argue the opposite. Being germane to the article is the only reason to include criticism, and that means it has to be relevant to the subject matter and of due weight. Pertinence is a similar concept. What do those mean? That's the core of understanding how to edit articles, and an essay on criticism is hardly the place to give readers a crash course on content — something that has defied every attempt to agree on a guideline. WP:UNDUE has an incomplete explanation of part of the concept, which is fairly subtle. We don't include criticism about a thing just because sources contain it any more than we report the temperature and wind direction just because the sources say it. A key take-away from this essay is that criticism is not always pertinent to the subject of the article. If we, instead, emphasize that if sources contain criticism, it must be in the article, we encourage a form of cherry-picking of sources to serve a content preference. - Wikidemon (talk) 19:46, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
          • Well, err, no. This resumes to "I like the subject", so it is not germane to include too much criticism in the article, alternatively, "I don't like the subject" so all criticism is germane to include. Of course it is the sources and the balance of criticism versus non-criticism as it is in the reliable sources on average that determines how much of the surface of a Wikipedia article is devoted to criticism, and how that criticism is presented in that article. That's "due weight" in Wikipedia context. What it means outside that context has no bearing on how Wikipedia guidance is written. --Francis Schonken (talk) 23:01, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
            • Pertinence — or weight and relevance — is how articles are written here, not counting words or counting sources. I don't know where you got the idea that personally liking the subject of the article has anything to do with whether criticism is relevant. As I said way up there somewhere, having a meta discussion isn't very useful because you really need to look at the specific subject areas and articles to know whether criticism, wether positive or negative, is appropriate. It is quite relevant to discussion of artistic and popular entertainment works, not so relevant when discussing species of birds. The peacock article, for example, does not mention at all that the birds are widely praised as beautiful, though this is mentioned in nearly 1/3 of the sources (including many reliable ones)[4], and mentions only tangentially that they are criticized for their vanity or pride, which appears in about 1/50 of the sources.[5] It's just not very relevant to an encyclopedic understanding of peacocks. Once you establish that criticism may be relevant, establishing weight among various statements of opinion is very subtle because it depends a lot on context. It's not always the case that you can get reliable third party secondary sourcing as to what people's opinions are on a subject. When you are using authors' own statements of opinion as primary sources you have to apply a lot of discretion. - Wikidemon (talk) 00:17, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
              Pertinence, relevance, etc. are no inherent qualities of an article or its topic. They are all inspired by what one knows about a topic. What one knows about a topic always comes from sources, including from the primary source. So its about a discernement of what to do with which source. The essay tries to help editors with such choices, not assume that everybody "already knows best" what is germane or not. --Francis Schonken (talk) 14:01, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
              [inserted out of chronological order] The approach you advocate in that talk page link is nonstandard and, in my opinion, not ideal. Editors who don't know or can't figure out what's germane to a topic shouldn't be trying to make that decision based on counting words and citations. There's no substitute for actually reading, critically thinking about, and exercising discretion when sourcing content, whether it's criticism or anything else. We write by assembling, not counting. We can't teach editors on a single essay page how to do that, so we shouldn't try. Best to just mention that deciding on which criticism and how much of it if any to include is, like everything else, a matter of interpreting sources. I think you're the only editor opposing my proposed wording, so either we have a consensus for it, or else no consensus, in which case per BRD we default to leaving that portion of the essay in its pre-May 23 state. - Wikidemon (talk) 23:59, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
              • WP:BRD? Really? Instead of counting reliable sources, you'd be counting edits of Wikipedians? BRD is an almost deprecated essay, not a way to determine WP:CONSENSUS.
              Be assured, whether someone knows how to deal with things or not, I'd always try to write helpful guidance. WP:CRITICISM doesn't have to explain it all (nobody said so), it's just one of the stepstones. Yes, it should incite critical thinking, illustrate how discretion is exercised in practical circumstances, not override that with vaguish container words like "germane" or one of its alternatives.
              BTW, my approach in #When should critical reception or controversies be included in the lede? is fully covered by policy, and it can be seen from the reaction of the person asking about a practical issue that the approach was helpful. There also, no, I'm not going to agree to a rewrite of the essay that takes it in the opposite direction from core content policy. --Francis Schonken (talk) 05:46, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

A part of this dispute is that the essay includes the following: "Avoid mixed bag section titles like 'Controversies' without it being clear in the section title what these controversies are about. If the content of such section is of the 'mixed bag' kind, the section should be handled as a trivia section (see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Trivia sections)." That is not good advice. That's like calling the Controversies section of the WP:Good article Kanye West "trivia." Flyer22 (talk) 16:06, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

I'll change "...section title..." to "...section title(s)..." as the current guidance may be read as applying to the main "Controversies" section title only, while subsection titles can make it perfectly clear what the controversies are about, as in the West case. --Francis Schonken (talk) 16:18, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
If the implication is that there should not be more than one criticism or controversy within a section or subsection, and that instead each criticism or controversy should have its own section title, that is also incorrect. I'm still not clear (which if I'm not being dense suggests that the wording is not clear) on what it means to handle a controversy section like a trivia section, or why. - Wikidemon (talk) 00:03, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
I think the current wording is quite clear that it doesn't imply what you wildly surmise. When you think WP:TRIVIA isn't clear, that's not the problem of this essay. (BTW, a rewrite of that guidance is discussed on its talk page, by RfC). --Francis Schonken (talk) 05:46, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
Okay, I've removed this particular new section as discussed. If you wish to include it, please consider gaining consensus for it here — it would be helpful in my case if you would actually explain what you are proposing instead of simply telling me that I am wrong — or conducting an RfC on the topic. Thanks, - Wikidemon (talk) 10:16, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

Proposed changes[edit]

The following changes have been proposed, and disputed.[6]

Amount of criticism[edit]

What is the problem with

Generally it is not a good idea to have articles swamped by criticism. Some policies and guidelines that help determine the amount of criticism an article should hold:

  • WP:BALASPS: space devoted to criticism in a Wikipedia article should reflect the overall proportion of criticism in reliable sources on the subject of the article.
  • WP:POVFORK: don't split off articles with the purpose of purging a Wikipedia article of its legitimate criticism.
  • WP:ABOUTSELF and WP:PRIMARY: even if third-party reliable sources are generally negative about a topic this shouldn't impede devoting sufficient space to a fair description of the topic, for instance (partially) based on primary or self-published sources, within the limits of policy.
  • Specific guidelines like WP:FRINGE may instruct how to handle criticism in certain areas.

? I don't see a particular discussion about its merits above. --Francis Schonken (talk) 10:26, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

  • The reason I oppose this change, discussed at length above, is the first bullet point, which incorrectly suggests that the amount of space devoted to criticism in a Wikipedia reflects the amount of space devoted to criticism in reliable sources. Writing articles, and sourcing them, cannot be reduced to mechanistic word counts for reasons explored in other context in WP:GHITS and WP:GOOGLE. This is a very influential essay, so making that suggestion here provides fuel for editors who would shoehorn criticism into all sorts of subjects where extensive criticism is not relevant to the subject matter and therefore inappropriate, a very real problem on Wikipedia. Once it is established that criticism is in fact appropriate, sound editorial discretion is required to consider who is making the criticism, their standing, what any third party sources may say about the significance of that criticism, and so on, not just counting noses as they may appear in newspaper editorials and other sources. - Wikidemon (talk) 11:12, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
    • Tried to address this by staying closer to the policy wording [7] – anyway, I think it useful to point to other guidance at this point in the essay. --Francis Schonken (talk) 11:59, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Having taken a look at the proposal more closely, it appears the whole thing is fairly muddled. It purports to instruct editors about the quantity of criticism to appear in an article, but only the first bullet point is on that subject. The second discusses POV forks (which is an all-or-nothing issue, not the amount). The third is about which sources may be used, and points to policy/guideline pages on sourcing, not quantity. The fifth is about fringe material, not how much space to devote to it. While these may all be useful principles to keep in mind, only the first bullet point says anything (and incorrectly so) about how to decide how much criticism to include. - Wikidemon (talk) 11:12, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
    • Spinning out a sizable portion of criticism to a sub-article reduces the amount of criticism in the main article, and shouldn't be done when the subsidiary article is a POV FORK. That is what is explained. See WP:POVFORK for details. --Francis Schonken (talk) 11:59, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
    here's an example --Francis Schonken (talk) 12:24, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

Mixed bag[edit]

(in the list section describing different approaches to controversies and criticism, not the table version that precedes it)

Proposed: "For a specific controversy regarding the topic, when such topic takes a prominent place in the reliable sources on the topic. "Controversy" is not necessarily part of the name of such section (e.g. Antibiotics#Misuse, Rick Ross (consultant)#Jason Scott deprogramming). Avoid mixed bag section titles like "Controversies" without it being clear in the section title (or in the titles of the subsections of such section) what these controversies are about. If the content of such section is of the "mixed bag" kind, the section should be handled as a trivia section (see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Trivia sections)."
  • I oppose this particular wording, and we have not been able to agree on a compromise version. It is not clear what "mixed bag" section titles are, and that phrase is not generally used by Wikipedia editors. The advice given on what to do if a section title is in fact a mixed bag is also not clear. What does identifying the nature of multiple controversies in the section title or subsection titles have to do with there being a mixed bag? The reference to the "trivia sections" article is obscure, I have no idea what it means to handle a controversy section as a trivia section. Controversies are not trivia. It might be a good idea to make sure the prose-ified list items here match the table version above — in which case, one wonders why we follow a table with a redundant list that in some cases says the same thing as the table, and in other cases as here says something completely different. Either way, whatever we choose to advise editors to do should be clear and on topic. - Wikidemon (talk) 11:19, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
    • Controversies treated in separate sections should only appear under section titles that give an indication of what the controversy/ies is/are about. This works best to the best of my experience. I'd be happy to see examples of how it works better without bringing this advice in practice – are any available? I have no problem with the concept that is named "mixed bag", seems quite intuitive to me. Also Trivia guidance seems easy enough to apply (which in some cases is: do nothing...) --Francis Schonken (talk) 11:59, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

Dedicated section for a lawsuit[edit]

Did I misinterpret WP:CRITICISM here? I was always taught that WP:CRITICISM says "In most cases separate sections devoted to criticism, controversies, or the like should be avoided in an article", but now that I'm reading the essay in its entirety, I see that it can support just about any argument, depending on which part of the essay is cited. It even has a radically different attitude towards BLPs versus companies, whereas I'm not sure why they would be any different:

  • Living persons starts off with: "Negative material about living persons may violate privacy policies or damage the person's reputation; therefore, strict rules are in place..."
  • Whereas Organizations and corporations starts with: "Many organizations and corporations are involved in well-documented controversies, or may be subject to significant criticism."

It seems to make the assumption that criticisms of BLPs are usually not valid, whereas criticisms of companies are. Neither assumption being true of course. CorporateM (Talk) 09:17, 11 July 2015 (UTC)

I suppose that part of the essay was written before WP:BLPGROUPS existed. Added a link to the policy section [8]
Anyhow, the approach of the essay is "defer to policy" for those areas where policy contains relevant guidance. Do you suggest any updates to the essay text that may make that clearer? --Francis Schonken (talk) 10:29, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
One of the things that caught my eye was the recurring theme of "if sources treat it as an independent topic". If you look at an article like Credit Suisse, which I brought up to GA, there are a lot of lawsuits/controversies in the Post Financial Crisis section and each has plenty of media coverage devoted just to that lawsuit. It seems like this guideline would support making dedicated sections or articles for each one, which would just be silly. I would think that WP:LENGTH would be the primary emphasis, creating separate articles or sections when the content is too long to fit into the narrative and its length is supported by sources.
The contrast between the BLP and ORG sections just smacks of extreme disparity. The other day I made nearly identical posts to BLPN[9] and COIN[10] about pages where my potential COI was very remote. The BLP page had a minor problem and it was fixed in one day. The dedicated controversy section was removed. The problem on the company page was much more severe, but nobody responded, some edits were made two weeks later, and the Controversies section (cited to press releases and primary sources) remains.
Sorry if I am soapboxing! CorporateM (Talk) 19:53, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
It's not clear to me what your question exactly is w.r.t. the guidance contained in the Criticism essay?
  1. Yes, there is a bit of a sensitivity difference between living people and (large) companies. That difference is explained on a policy page (WP:BLPGROUPS). WP:CRITICISM doesn't want to alter such guidance.
  2. Noticeboards work more or less efficient to tackle concrete issues, sometimes a bit more efficient, sometimes a bit less efficient. WP:CRITICISM isn't concerned with the workings of noticeboards (there is no dedicated "criticism" noticeboard), maybe best to direct your suggestions in that context to the talk pages of the policy pages that govern the area of the noticeboard (WP:COI, WP:BLP, etc.) or to the talk pages of the noticeboards themselves.
  3. Re. Internet Brands#Controversies – your concern (inadequate sourcing of the section) seems rather something that would get an adequate response at WP:RSN imho, so maybe it was the choice of noticeboard that explains lack of response?
  4. Re. Credit Suisse#Post financial crisis: obviously that is still generally the preferred way to do it (work the criticisms in the historical account on the company rather than sectioning it off, especially as the company has a very broad history apart from such controversies). And the approach was sanctioned by the GA process. I don't say writing a separate article on the controversies is impossible: compare Super Bowl: no "controversy" section, although a controversy is mentioned in its "Entertainment" section. That controversy has a separate article (follow the Nipplegate redirect). All covered by the approaches proposed by WP:CRITICISM. Where do you see possible improvement of the guidance in the WP:CRITICISM essay? --Francis Schonken (talk) 07:29, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
"Many corporations are involved in well-documented controversies and legal disputes, or may be the subject of significant criticisms" could be followed with something like "In most cases these can be incorporated into the narrative of the article, such as in History, Products, or Operations sections based on the subject of the controversy." I suggest adding "legal disputes" because this is the most common controversy on most company articles.
Then "If multiple, reliable, secondary sources - other than the critics themselves - provide substantial coverage devoted to the controversy or criticisms and the content creates an undue or WP:LENGTH issue when incorporated into a more general section, a separate section or article can be considered. A separate article can be made if the content would create an undue or WP:LENGTH issue on the entire page. The reason I struck "other than the critics themselves" is because it assumes a one-sided "criticism" rather than a two-sided controversy or dispute and in most cases it is more two-sided. Just saying a secondary source is more appropriate I think.
I would also suggest something like "Whether the controversy or criticisms is a single event versus a business practice or dispute that took place over an extended period should be considered. A single event is more likely to create UNDUE issues (see Odwalla for example and it's treatment of the 1996 Odwalla E. coli outbreak), and improves the argument to create a separate article, or just a sentence or paragraph in the article, depending on the volume of source material and significance. Something occurring over an extended time period that is a significant part of what the organization is known for is more likely to warrant either a dedicated section, spreading it into the article's narrative/chronology, or some of both."
I realize it's annoying when editors suggest changes to a document like this after not getting their way on a particular article. Figure I'll just abandon the discussion on that page. CorporateM (Talk) 18:19, 12 July 2015 (UTC)

I'm sorry to say, but nah, don't see the benefit of expanding the crticism essay with this:

  • Re. adding "...and legal disputes..." – oppose expanding the scope of the guidance in the essay in this sense: not every legal dispute is a controversy or a criticism. The guidance in the section is on controversies & criticisms, not on legal disputes in general.
  • Re. adding something like "In most cases these can be incorporated into the narrative of the article, such as in History, Products, or Operations sections based on the subject of the controversy" – oppose, doubles content already in Wikipedia:Criticism#Integrated throughout the article: "Often the best approach ... is to integrate ..."; We could reiterate every other section in each section, but I oppose it – the idea is to describe each approach in its dedicated subsection, not to mish-mash it until every section describes all approaches.
  • Re. adding "multiple" – oppose, sort of doubles "substantial coverage": the guidance applies when the coverage is substantial (which could be from a single, but very reputable source, not necessary to request multiple sources)
  • Re. adding "secondary" – oppose, WP:SECONDARY, explaining the concept, is difficult to grasp for many Wikipedia contributors, so wouldn't use it when not necessary (besides the correct qualifier would be "third party" sources, not "secondary" sources: when e.g. the NYT, generally a secondary source, would report on its dispute with whoever, that doesn't make the coverage we would need in the context of this guidance), which is really the case here.
  • Re. removing "other than the critics themselves" – oppose removal: current wording explains "third party" without needing to recur to the more difficult to grasp concepts. Also, it is clear from the guidance as currently written there need to be three parties (criticised party, critics AND a reliable, independent source covering it as "controversy", which is one party more than what the new proposal considers sufficient).
  • Re adding "...the content creates an undue or WP:LENGTH issue when incorporated into a more general section..." – oppose, starts from a questionable reading of both WP:UNDUE and WP:LENGTH: the first because sectioning off the criticism almost by definition increases the WP:UNDUE liability, and the second because that guidance is only about article size, not size of sections in an article (splitting criticism/controversy in separate articles is treated in WP:CRITICISM#Separate articles devoted to criticism and WP:CRITICISM#Separate articles devoted to controversies... and we're back at my second point above: oppose mishmash of all sections in all other sections)
  • Re. adding "...A separate article can be made if the content would create an undue or WP:LENGTH issue on the entire page..." – oppose, same problem as second point and parethesis in previous point.
  • Re. adding something like "Whether the controversy or criticisms is a single event versus a business practice or dispute that took place over an extended period should be considered. A single event is more likely to create UNDUE issues (see Odwalla for example and it's treatment of the 1996 Odwalla E. coli outbreak), and improves the argument to create a separate article, or just a sentence or paragraph in the article, depending on the volume of source material and significance. Something occurring over an extended time period that is a significant part of what the organization is known for is more likely to warrant either a dedicated section, spreading it into the article's narrative/chronology, or some of both." – oppose, unnecessary micromanagement, a.k.a. WP:INSTRUCTION CREEP, not suitable for an essay. Besides, example of a separate "controversy" article that got re-integrated in the main article because the separate article was a WP:UNDUE liability --Francis Schonken (talk) 20:32, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
@Francis Schonken: You argued that we should not make changes, because they introduce redundancies with other areas of the article, which is true, but unlike BLP, there are no special rules for companies. ALL of the content in this section is redundant with the rest of the document, because there is nothing special about how company pages are treated versus any other subject. Therefore, I can see deleting the section in its entirety, but I don't see a good reason to include selective redundancies that have such an uneven tone. CorporateM (Talk) 16:42, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
There is Wikipedia:FAQ/Organizations#The article on me/my organization is an attack. What can I do?, and, as recently linked from the essay, the BLP section that says something about companies. Don't see the selectiveness you claim. There are some rules regarding companies outside this page, like BLP has a more extended body of rules outside this page. A short summary should suffise. If that summary would be "selective" please explain, I don't see it. --Francis Schonken (talk) 17:15, 16 July 2015 (UTC)

Clarity needed[edit]

I was recently involved in a move discussion that was just closed, and was also involved in some others that have not been closed. The issue was whether the word "controversy" belongs in the article title. I want to comment now about this section of this essay, while it's still fresh in my mind. My purpose here is simply to point out ambiguity in this essay, without advocating any particular sort of change to the essay. This essay says:

The word "controversy" should not appear in the title except in the rare situations when it has become part of the commonly accepted name for the event, such as Creation–evolution controversy.

Is this referring to WP:COMMONNAME? If it is not, then what is meant by "commonly accepted name"? If the article subject is widely characterized in reliable sources as a "controversy", but the article subject has no WP:COMMONNAME, then what is this essay suggesting about use of the word "controversy" in the article title? What if the article subject is widely characterized in reliable sources as a "controversy" but that word is not part of the common name? Clarifying these matters in this essay would make the essay much more useful. Thanks.Anythingyouwant (talk) 14:41, 15 July 2015 (UTC)

P.S. The move discussion that I referred to (and that just closed) is here.Anythingyouwant (talk) 14:55, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
What a peculiar way of asking. WP:AT (of which WP:COMMONNAME is a section) is policy. This guidance page is an essay. Whether or not the essay is at a certain point referring to a policy, the policy supersedes the essay. So that part of the question is moot to all extents and purposes. If the essay is no help in better understanding the policy, then follow the policy (note that that part of the policy is often misunderstood, but this is not the place for that: ask at WT:AT).
"Commonly accepted name" can mean: find a reliable source that calls it so. It can also mean, challenge it by WP:RM, it is commonly accepted when it passes, until consensus changes on a next RM. So finding the sources that show it is a name that should pass WP:RM would always be a good approach to prevent consensus from changing.
Example: Nipplegate redirects to something I can't remember with Super Bowl and a Roman numeral in it as well as the word "controversy" but obviously not the most common name for the incident. That name has to pass WP:AT (which is of course considerably more than the often misunderstood COMMONNAME). The criticism essay proposes to at least check whether the less "common" name is at least "commonly accepted" as a name to indicate the incident, which I think will be OK until another Super Bowl will have an incident leading to a controversy of comparable magnitude (while the Roman numeral beats recognizability which is one of the WP:AT criteria - as long as there is no other significant halftime controversy the numeral does however not diminish recognizability). --Francis Schonken (talk) 19:10, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
I don't see what's peculiar about my question. If "the commonly accepted name" in this essay means common name then why not say so here in this essay? If it means something different, then why not say so here in this essay? This seems like a straightforward line of questioning to me.
Likewise for the other questions I posed. If Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy is an article title that follows the suggestions in this essay, is that because it's the common name?Anythingyouwant (talk) 19:25, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
The short answer to your question is "no". I tried to explain the nuance in that answer. Part of that involves explaining that WP:AT can't be reduced to WP:COMMONNAME. --Francis Schonken (talk) 17:00, 16 July 2015 (UTC)

WP neutrality and reliability[edit]

concerning NPOV of,

under editwar siege since several years and

questioned again by fiedler, speer and jebsen :

pls. reconsider his strange contacts, presented by another oppressed scientist in

thx so much. (talk) 21:21, 29 October 2015 (UTC)