This is an explanatory essay about the Neutral point of view, Verifiability and No original research policies.
Wikipedia's content is governed by three principal core content policies: neutral point of view, verifiability, and no original research. Editors should familiarize themselves with all three, jointly interpreted:
These policies determine the type and quality of material that is acceptable in Wikipedia articles. Because they complement each other, they should not be interpreted in isolation from one another. The principles upon which these policy statements are based are not superseded by other policies or guidelines, or by editors' consensus. These three policy pages may be edited only to improve the application and explanation of the principles.
|Jimmy Wales: The birth of Wikipedia, 2005 TED (conference), 20 mins.|
"No original research" (NOR) has its origins in the "neutral point of view" (NPOV) policy and the problem of dealing with undue weight and fringe theories. The core policy of Wikipedia, NPOV, is meant to provide a framework whereby editors with diverse, often conflicting, even opposing points of view can collaborate on the creation of an encyclopedia. It does so through the principle that while it is often hard for people to agree as to what is the truth, it is much easier for people to agree as to what they and others believe to be the truth. Therefore, Wikipedia does not use "truth" as a criterion for inclusion. Instead, it aims to account for different, notable views of the truth. First codified in February 2001, the objective of the NPOV policy is to produce an unbiased encyclopedia.
In the two years that followed, a good deal of conflict on article talk pages involved accusations that editors were violating NPOV, and it became clear that this policy, which provided a philosophical foundation for Wikipedia, needed to be supplemented. Wikipedians developed the concept of "verifiability" (V) as a way of ensuring the accuracy of articles by encouraging editors to cite sources; this concept was established as a policy in August 2003. Verifiability was also promoted as a way to ensure that notable views would be represented, under the assumption that the most notable views were easiest to document with sources. Notability is especially important because while NPOV encourages editors to add alternate and multiple points of view to an article, it does not claim that all views are equal. Although NPOV does not claim that some views are more truthful than others, it does acknowledge that some views are held by more people than others. Accurately representing a view therefore also means explaining who holds the view and whether it is a majority or minority view.
Soon it became evident that editors who rejected a majority view would often marshal sources to argue that a minority view was superior to a majority view—or would even add sources in order to promote the editor's own view. Therefore, the NOR policy was established in 2003 to address problematic uses of sources. The original motivation for NOR was to prevent editors from introducing fringe views in science, especially physics—or from excluding verifiable views that, in the judgement of editors, were incorrect. It soon became clear that the policy should apply to any editor trying to introduce their own views into an article. This also led to the refinement and creation of sub sections dealing with the balance of coverage.
In its earliest form, the policy singled out edits for exclusion that:
and established as criteria for inclusion edits that present:
As a more diverse community of editors were drawn to Wikipedia, it became clear that other topics besides physics, such as politics, religion, and history, were attracting original research. The need arose to seek a more systematic approach to define original research and guide editors to avoid it. The principles of "verifiability" and "no original research" overlap, and an attempt was made in 2007 to combine the two pages into one (see Wikipedia:Attribution), but it failed to gain consensus.
In order to determine community consensus and resolve ongoing disputes, conflict resolution procedures have been established with topic specific discussion venues related to the core content policies. For example:
Wikipedia:Neutral point of view/FAQ
Wikipedia's content policies have been the subject of academic studies and have garnered many books which have discussed the topic.