Wikinfo:Sympathetic point of view
Owl of Wisdom
(or is it the owl of humor?)
With the exception of extraordinarily offensive subjects, the main article on any subject should be written from a positive point of view, and in the case of biographies, from a point of view sympathetic to the subject. For example, the main article about the United Kingdom should focus on its accomplishments, its attractions, its interesting history. Critical material can, and should be, covered in auxiliary articles which explore, for example, its role as an oppressive colonial power. Auxiliary articles should be prominently linked to at the top of the main, positive, article on the subject, and vice-versa. In the case of abstract subjects the main article should treat the concept as rational and coherent, as for example in the article on truth. Notions such as there is no such thing as truth should be dealt with in auxiliary articles. With respect to extraordinarily offensive subjects, such as Hitler, National Socialism, rape or murder, it is inappropriate to include articles about them from a positive or neutral viewpoint.
Point of view is the perspective from which one views a subject. Consider, for example, overtime. Overtime is one thing from the perspective of the worker and another from the view point of the employer. From the viewpoint of the unemployed it is yet a third thing. The government may have a view, expressed in labor law.
So, if one writes an article on overtime, one can define it then explore its ramifications. No real need to write it from a particular point of view. But, take an article on the United States. Definitely, to be written from a sympathetic point of view (SPOV). Additional articles will be necessary as one considers the reaction of the rest of the world and the critics of the United States. They are written under a title in the form: [[United States:A critical viewpoint]]. In that article one can feel free to fully express whatever negative light one might see the United States in. (This is kind of like a debate)
So, for a country, a person, a movement the main article shows the matter in a good light. Additional articles may take various critical viewpoints. In the case of a concept the main article assumes the concept is useful and has meaning. The supplementary articles may show, in various way, how senseless, ambiguous and useless the concept is. Link all such articles together at the top of each page, so that a reader of Wikinfo can consider all the viewpoints.
Neutral point of view is an editorial policy of Wikipedia which is unattainable in many cases, leading to edit wars and arguments over whose view is more neutral than the others. This idealistic and unworkable policy is rejected here. No neutral point of view articles here on the Tiananmen Square Massacre with the viewpoint of the killers given equal weight to that of the victims.
What to do?
There are going to be times when you're editing on Wikinfo that you'll encounter an article espousing a POV which rubs you the wrong way. What do you do about it? Well, first, let's consider Wikipedia, where in such a case, editors rally as many supporters they can and try to force a deletion of the entire article, or in case of small passages, they will war over them. This happens a lot. We don't do that here, in fact, we don't even have a page for deletions! Consider that we are now just as voluminous (19,035 articles) as Wikipedia was a couple of years ago, and that we have some of the content they deleted.
There are exceptions: We don't like offensive content, and prefer not to become a platform for the various troll or "wiki factions", and we will delete plain nonsense, since this is an encyclopedia. However in cases where the issue is point of view, what we do is add our own POV to the article, either in a separate section or with a linked separate article. We thus avoid silencing those voices rubbing us the wrong way. This approach allows everyone to see the complexity of connections on an issue. As a result, we don't have edit wars, and rarely have formal disagreements over content, since everyone has a clear outlet to express their point of view.
Owl of Wisdom
(or is it the owl of humor?)
Sympathetic point of view (SPOV) is used by Wikinfo (Internet-Encyclopedia) for writing about a subject or concept from a favorable perspective. The approach was initiated on Wikinfo in 2004 in reaction to NPOV (Neutral Point of View), a policy at the dominant Wikipedia. As a result, SPOV has allowed many points of view in articles that Wikipedia might have censored.
A "neutral" policy strives to represent all perspectives in a balanced manner. But all too often, it leads to endless bickering and "edit wars" over what is the balanced view. SPOV allows each perspective to be represented fully and enthusiastically, even passionately. If a typical "pro-and-con" treatment within an article satisfies all sides in a debate, then nothing more is required. But, if various perspectives cannot coexist in a single article, then each can have separate articles, each giving their various points of view.
- Does one have to say Adolf Hitler was a nice guy?
- No, even neutrality is inappropriate.
- Does one have to say Saddam Hussein was a wonderful leader?
- Inappropriate, but information that in addition to gassing people, he suppressed sectarian violence might be appropriate.
- Does one have to say Usama Bin Laden is a positive force?
- No, but his viewpoint is very interesting and should be fully explored.
- Does one have to say Al Qaeda is a charitable organization?
- Hardly, but a clear explanation of their goals is appropriate.
- Should the article on cancer be sympathetic to cancer?
- About how to avoid it and cure it.
- Does one have to say that Buses are interesting?
- Any interesting information ought to be included, as well as how good buses are for the environment. How dirty, polluting, time wasting, and boring can be in a critical article.
Articles newly imported or updated from Wikipedia will be written to a certain extent from NPOV. They may be imported without major revision, but many need substantial revision, especially those on controversial subjects which have attracted the attention of point of view pushers on Wikipedia.
The effect of this policy change from Wikipedia's attempt at NPOV becomes much clearer as one considers such current controversies as the Israeli Palestinian conflict, or a US Presidential election. In these cases, Wikinfo's editorial policy results in a coherent article on both Israel and Palestine, and both Democrats and Republicans. For concepts, the main articles should take the viewpoint of the concept being sensible and useful. This is especially productive for ambiguous concepts like love, truth, or justice. In the case of the many articles imported from Wikipedia, many can be improved by further editing in relationship to this change in point of view. Some articles have been more or less left as is, some split into parts, some rewritten altogether.
- "There is no other side to Anti-Semitism" Cynthia Ozick, October 2, 2004, 2004 New Yorker Festival, Literature and Politic Panel.