User:Fr33kman/SN/The Importance of V/Issue 1

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The Importance of V: Issue 1

Okay, ...

I want to get very, very, very serious here for a moment. Simple English Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia. Right? We are a trust-worthy and reliable source of information for our readership; the entire globe! But one thing we tend to fail on an enormous amount is in verifying the information contained within our pages. The Internet is probably one of the most unique inventions homo sapiens sapiens has ever achieved. Anyone, literally anyone, can publish on the Internet, and anyone can claim to be an expert on any subject. Some sources of information are more credible than others. An online encyclopaedia should be a resource on the ever effervescent Internet that people can rely on.

At the moment, most of our articles do not have the ability to state to the readership that the information contained within them is factual; ie: verified! There is a simple reason for this. One of the fibe pillars of the Wikipedia is verifiability. Verifiability is both the action of checking and proving something to be the case, and both the action of demonstrating this to the end-user; our reader. This is important because without being able to say that what the reader is reading has been verified to be so, the reader could be relying on false information. Not being able to say we are verified to be factual is a major problem for an encyclopedia. Think about it!

As such I will be talking about the importance of V and how to go about performing it, and also how to go about showing it to the reader. The former will happen with a demonstration course of how to choose a fact to verify, perform the academic reaseach on it, and make use of both <rev> & </rev> markup and also the whole set of {{cite}} templates to show the readers that the fact is, indeed, true!

The first lesson will be how to chose what facts need to be checked, and what kinds of verification will be needed.

First Lesson[change | change source]

Not every thing said in an article needs to be proven. For instance, consider the sentence; "All human beings breathe air.". This is a self-evident factoid. The reader is, themselves, a human being, and thus knows that they breathe air; they are doing it whilst reading. However the assertion that "zopiclone is a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic agent used in the treatment of insomnia.", requires proof. How does the poor reader know. maybe it isn't. Perhaps someone put it in and got it wrong, it can happen.

Things that are common knowledge to the overwhelming majority of people likely to be reading an article do not need to be proven. Things that are not likely to affect the readers understanding or, and ability to reliably use the information contained in the article probably doesn't have to be proven. Other information contained within the article that assert factual information probably do need to be proven.

Example 1[change | change source]

So let's look at an example article architecture, one that has quite a few problems with reliability, and also one that has a bit of substance to it already. This article is on the Main Page. It is listed under the auspicious section entitled "Knowledge groups". It is, presumably an article that we feel the reader can trust; it's on the Main Page after all. Problem is, it is almost entirely unproven. It has not been verified. There is only a single reference listed and that is to a trade organization for architects. Now can we completely rely on an organization that clearly has a conflict of interest and also a specialist knowledge of the topic of the article? Perhaps in some things, perhaps not in others.

The very first line of the article states; "Architecture is a term that means either the science of the design of structures such as houses, places of worship, office buildings, or the profession of an architect." The question could legitimately be asked whether or not that is true. A well researched source placed in a {{cite}} template provides the reader with an assurance of reliability and us with a knowledge that we are a reliable source ourselves, to our readership; on so too the whole world.

The statement under History that "In the past, people built huts and wood houses to shelter from the weather." probably doesn't need proving because a vast majority of people probably already know and believe that. On the other hand, maybe it does; what about people whose ancestors lived in caves, or underground?

Later on a very important need for verification crops up; " ... architects like George Fowler Jones and Decimus Burton still followed the Gothic style, to build new churches." Really? Now at this point the article is making a very serious assertion of factual information. It is very specific, and it is about living people. This is something that must be researched, proven, and cited so that our customer (the readership) can rely on the information, and also so that other sites on the Internet that rely on using WP for a source can link to one that is reliable and factual.

Food for thought!

That's it for this issue, ... next issue: The key role of WP:RS in the success of WP:V
fr33kman talk 07:57, 25 October 2009 (UTC)