Wikinews:Water cooler/policy/archives/2011/June

One of the sources was a YouTube page containing MSNBC footage, evidently captured live (no ads), evidently not an official MSNBC source. The immediate action I took was to summarily remove that "source" and one large paragraph of the article that itself claimed to be describing "footage". --Pi zero (talk) 11:44, 8 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Subsequently, I have also hidden the text of the revisions containing that source and the text that I understand to be based on it. (I also re-verified the remaining text from the remaining sources.) --Pi zero (talk) 12:57, 8 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It is currently 10:38, 12 June 2011 (UTC) , voting closes at 23:59 UTC, so just hours after this post. If you want to vote, please do so. Additionally, there's been an on-going discussion about a recommendation for voting to be extended to give people more time, opinions welcome. --Alecmconroy (talk) 10:38, 12 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • I voted (a few days ago) and now left a comment about the prolonged time proposal. Thank you for this notification, Alecmconroy! -Gryllida 12:31, 12 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Copy edit disallowed?

Today I made the following copy edit [1] after the article had already been published for 24 hours. The edit does not add any new information to the article, it just clarifies what is being said. Should the copy edit be disallowed? --William S. Saturn (talk) 21:30, 25 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In my opinion, yes, it should be. 24 hours after the article is published, effectively the only things you're allowed to do are typo correction, and retraction of the story should it be warranted. Anything other than that is pretty much a no-no. BarkingFish (talk) 21:37, 25 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Then why are the articles not archived after 24 hours?--William S. Saturn (talk) 21:39, 25 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Archiving an article removes it from the main page, and imho it should remove it from the main page, because it'd be just unfriendly, in an anti-wiki way, to have articles on the main page that are actually fully protected. Limited in what edits will be accepted is one thing; fully protected is another. --Pi zero (talk) 22:10, 25 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I see a couple of changes to the information; however, I've only looked at the bit in the diff so maybe I'm missing stuff covered further down in the article: your edit adds 'former' (Note: that could indicate the present version is in error, which might warrant a minor {{correction}}), and you remove the detail the initial run was unopposed. That, to me, tips the balance in favour of rejecting the edit. I just might have sighted the edit but for that, although I also rather agree with PiZ's interpretation of the rules; c/e should be exceptionally minimal if at all, but perhaps a wider discussion on that wouldn't go amiss. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 21:41, 25 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I just corrected the factual error as minimally as I could. Perhaps that will solve this issue, though the larger issue of copy-editing still remains.--William S. Saturn (talk) 22:30, 25 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
For a factual error past 24 hours, we'd issue a {{correction}} notice. I'm afraid I'm not entirely clear on the nature of the error. Could you explain it? Then we can work out wording for a minor correction notice. --Pi zero (talk) 22:57, 25 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just forget it. I'm getting really tired of this nonsense. This is unprofessional, unnecessary and ignorant. In what way does one word constitute a "substantial" change?--William S. Saturn (talk) 23:00, 25 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Any changing of facts is substantial on a project where facts as-known at the time are the focus. Further, unlike an encyclopedia - by its nature, always a work in progress - simply 'fixing' factual errors is somewhat unfair to our readers, who deserve us to admit to mistakes being made. Wrongness should be dealt with by correction template, as-mentioned above; I suggest {{Correction|This article mistakenly identifies <name> as <Place>'s current tax assessor; in fact, he is a former holder of the role}}. It's a fairly minor error, so I daresay readers will be forgiving. :) Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 23:14, 25 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yeah, so put a big ugly red thing at the top of the page because the word 'former' is missing.--William S. Saturn (talk) 23:17, 25 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
So, the core issue is that Hedges is a former tax assessor, rather than a tax assessor? --Pi zero (talk) 23:35, 25 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes. It's not incorrect to label him as a tax assessor, but it certainly would be better to add former in front. However, I'm against adding a big red banner to the top of the article to show this. I also removed the word "after" since it was unnecessary. These edits are as minor as it gets and the article is not archived so I see no need to make a big deal about this.--William S. Saturn (talk) 23:51, 25 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
On the "former" issue: I wholeheartedly agree it doesn't warrant a big ugly banner at the top. I can think of two possible approaches. One is to just leave it, since as you say it isn't actually incorrect per se. The other is something I recall Brian McNeil suggesting for some small issue with an article a while back: a correction notice at the bottom of the article. --Pi zero (talk) 00:17, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
For "former" I guess it's best to just leave it as it is. But what about the unnecessary word "after"?--William S. Saturn (talk) 00:21, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • A careful re-read of this conversation shows me commenting an issue may be an error, it being described in the next post as a factual error, and then a reversal of opinion to it not being an error. I'm left somewhat confused as to what is accurate, what is inaccurate and what is grey. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 00:24, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I mischaracterized the situation at 22:30. I stand by my initial post here. The edit was a clarification.--William S. Saturn (talk) 00:30, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Fair enough. :) I won't attempt to think further on this, since it's getting late in my timezone and I'm liable to make a mess of things. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 00:41, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've given this a casual look-over. My opinion? Diego is being slightly dickish. The policy he's applying is sound, and a cornerstone of enWN, but should not have been applied in that last diff I looked at. I'm going to add a new WC section to cover this in a more general manner; I also not William and Diego have clashed on US vs American - that should probably be covered in the SG. --Brian McNeil / talk 07:16, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Clarification on edits to published articles

It would (from above, and elsewhere) seem that edits to published articles are again becoming a bone of contention. They shouldn't be, mainly because we should all have the same philosophy and outlook when it comes to a news article.

We have, as a hard rule, the point that sources published later than an article should not be added and drawn from. This can simply be described as "not stepping on Wikipedia's toes"; our coverage is a "snapshot", what is known at a specific point in time, and easily subject to "Fog of War" issues. That's actually a good thing – even if it makes us look somewhat foolish later on. Leave playing "Ministry of Truth" to Wikipedia. If general perception surrounding an issue or item of news is wrong, our coverage may be so too - but preserving such is important as a historical record.

Some of the above concerns me because I feel there should be more give-'n'-take between well-established contributors. William and Diego both qualify as such; I'll take Diego's side on the US vs American argument (I've linked to the wikt definition); we must remember, and respect, our international audience; Diego is an American, but he's most certainly not in the United States.

However, per the above section, I'm on William's side. The one-word insertion of "former" is non-controversial.

So, can I ask reviewers to start considering who has carried out c/e work on an already-published article? (/me stares hard at Diego). If you're dealing with changes by someone with a dozen-plus articles - who has done OR - then, if you're unhappy at a change, try to avoid reverting; instead challenge them on the talk page of the article to justify what is acceptable. The litmus test for me is: "If a MSM did the change, would you be feeling cheated?" --Brian McNeil / talk 07:54, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I should point out that, although Diego has certainly taken the hard-line position, I am the one who rejected William's original edit, and I've taken the hard line in the specific positions I've expressed thereafter. I took the hard line last night on the word "former", maintaining we should either leave it be (since William says it's not technically incorrect), or add a correction note at the bottom of the article (since it's clearly not worth a big ugly note at the top). I hadn't yet taken a position on the removal of unnecessary word "after", deciding instead to let everything cool and gel over night, but after sleeping on it I'm honestly inclined to a hard line on that — we had a troll a while back who was endlessly fiddling with details of phrasing on a several-day-old article, and we maintained then that you don't keep fiddling after the 24-hour horizon. I wouldn't hesitate to fix a "the the" -> "the", or noun-verb agreement, or perhaps some other, slightly more intrusive straightforward grammatical errors, but I would not consider stylistic phrasing preferences to be within bounds.
Also note, BTW, all this started on my talk page, and after some back-and-forth I suggested it should come here for a larger sampling of perspectives. --Pi zero (talk) 11:13, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
And having said that myself, I'm truthfully thinking unnecessary words —I mean truly unnecessary ones, that add nothing, like the excess thats we all love to hate— might reasonably be classified as borderline "grammar", so deleting them would be within archive policy. --Pi zero (talk) 13:16, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • A very minor copyedit can be said to leave things effectively unchanged. The key question is if the substance of what is said has been changed. I do seem to recall pushing the policy to its most permissive limit to play slightly with wording of some of Diego's Spanish-to-English translations; I left these unsighted seeking second opinion, if I recall correctly. As such, I'd lean towards allowing small copyedits after sleeping on it. However, such should be done sparingly. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 13:22, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think maybe I sighted at least one such late copyedit (i.e., one pushing the policy that you'd made to Diego's translation).
I'm struggling to understand and articulate the simple heuristic that I sense should underlie this. When does a mechanical "fix" to improve clarity become an error warranting a {{correction}}? And when does it become mere tampering with stylistic choices in the article? (I just removed a spurious that from an article from 2006, and I don't feel I was in any danger of crossing the line. But I'd like to be able to explain why I felt safe in doing it.) --Pi zero (talk) 14:16, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This isn't a computer program; it's the messy, gloriously ugly, English language. There is no "simple heuristic". I'm all for "that is a four-letter-word" being applied, even to archived articles. But, on other items, there is no clear dividing line, only shades of grey. --Brian McNeil / talk 18:53, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sounds like we have different understandings of the word heuristic; indeed, I see my usage is not particularly consistent with Wiktionary's entry either (which in theory could mean I'm using it wrong, but I'll assume it means Wiktionary's entry is incomplete at least until I've had time to chase it down in, say, three of the hardcopy dictionaries we keep on our bookshelves :-). FWIW, I'd consider stunningly obvious a somewhat weak description of "this isn't a computer program". --Pi zero (talk) 20:35, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
So can the initial copy edit be restored since the substance was effectively unchanged?--William S. Saturn (talk) 22:07, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'd object to that. It still seems to me that the initial copyedit did change substance, and on top of that, there was gratuitous stylistic fiddling, which shouldn't be allowed. --Pi zero (talk) 22:21, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I feel this now adequately represents feeling on the issue. Opening it up to the floor, as it were. In particular: Can we now make this policy? I think it fairly reflects all the discssions and conventions that have surrounded this, and we currently lack any sort of policy on this. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 13:58, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Suggestion: make it a guideline, rather than a policy. Feels less bureaucratic that way, and less an invitation to wikilawyering. --Pi zero (talk) 14:24, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree it should be a guideline as-opposed to a policy. As you'd see, I wikilinked to the Nazi interview, and comments namespace. I'd suggest perhaps another short paragraph linking to what's likely to be the limits most admins will tolerate. That might require wider input. --Brian McNeil / talk 19:03, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A collapsed list of examples and which side of the line they fall might give more flexibility. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 20:36, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]