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Wikipedia:NPOV dispute

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Articles that have been linked to this page are the subject of an NPOV dispute (NPOV stands for neutral point of view; see below). This means that in the opinion of the person who added this link, the article in question does not conform to NPOV standards. See What links here for a list of articles in NPOV dispute.

What is NPOV?

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Neutral Point Of View. An NPOV (neutral, unbiased) article is an article that has been written without showing a stand on the issue at hand. This is especially important for the encyclopedia's treatment of controversial issues, in which very often there is an abundance of differing views and criticisms on the subject. In a neutral representation, the differing points of view are presented as such, not as facts.

See Wikipedia's Neutral point of view reference page for an exhaustive treatment of the subject.

What is an NPOV dispute?

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Often, authors can view "their" articles as being NPOV, while others disagree. That an article is in an NPOV dispute does not necessarily mean it is biased, only that someone feels that it is.

Note, however, that there is a strong inductive argument that, if a page is in an NPOV dispute, it very probably is not neutral — or, at least, that the topic is a controversial one, and one should be wary of a possible slant or bias. The salient point is that one side — who cares enough to be making the point — thinks that the article says something that other people would want to disagree with.

Probably the only grounds on which there could be an NPOV dispute over an article that actually conformed to the NPOV is when one or both of the parties to the dispute did not understand either the NPOV policy, or enough about the subject matter to realize that nothing favoring one POV had actually been said. For example, ideologues, when presented with an article that has exemplary neutrality (as per our policy), will consider the article biased precisely because it does not reflect their own bias enough. Probably, such people simply do not understand the NPOV policy.

By linking to this page from an article, a dissenter can register his or her concern without unduly upsetting the author(s) or maintainer(s) of the article, and without starting a flame war. Others would maintain, however, that linking to this page only postpones the dispute. This might be a good thing, though, if a "cooling off" period seems required.

Everyone can agree that marking an article as having an NPOV dispute is a temporary measure, and should be followed up by actual contributions to the article in order to put it in such a state that people agree that it is neutral.

It is important to remember that the NPOV dispute tag does not mean that an article actually violates NPOV. It simply means that there is an ongoing dispute about whether the article complies with a neutral point of view or not. In any NPOV dispute, there will be some people who think the article complies with NPOV, and some people who disagree. In general, you should not remove the NPOV dispute tag merely because you personally feel the article complies with NPOV. Rather, the tag should be removed only when there is a consensus among the editors that the NPOV disputes have indeed been resolved.

Sometimes people have edit wars over the NPOV dispute tag, or have an extended debate about whether there is a NPOV dispute or not. In general, if you find yourself having an ongoing dispute about whether a dispute exists, there's a good chance one does, and you should therefore leave the NPOV tag up until there is a consensus that it should be removed.

How can one disagree about NPOV?

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The vast majority of neutrality disputes are due to a simple confusion: one party believes "X" to be a fact, and — this party is mistaken (see second example below) — that if a claim is factual, it is therefore neutral. The other party either denies that "X" is a fact, or that everyone would agree that it is a fact. In such a dispute, the first party needs to re-read the Neutral Point of View policy. Even if something is a fact, or allegedly a fact, that does not mean that the bold statement of that fact is neutral.

Neutrality here at Wikipedia is all about presenting competing versions of what the facts are. It doesn't matter at all how convinced we are that our facts are the facts. If a significant number of other interested parties really do disagree with us, no matter how wrong we think they are, the neutrality policy dictates that the discussion be recast as a fair presentation of the dispute between the parties.

There are many ways that an article can fail to adhere to the NPOV policy. Some examples are:

  • The article can simply be biased, expressing viewpoints as facts (see en:Wikipedia:POV)
  • While each fact mentioned in the article might be presented fairly, the very selection (and omission) of facts can make an article biased.
  • Some viewpoints, although not presented as facts, can be given undue attention and space compared to others (see en:Wikipedia:NPOV tutorial#Space and balance).
  • The text and manner of writing can insinuate that one viewpoint is more correct than another.
  • The subject or title of the article can imply a particular point of view.
  • A type of analysis of facts that can lead to the article suggesting a particular point of view's accuracy over other equally valid analytic perspectives.
  • The author's own viewpoint is mentioned or obvious.
  • Alternate viewpoints are compared in persuasive terms.

How to initiate an NPOV debate

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If you come across an article whose content does not seem to be consistent with Wikipedia's NPOV policy, use one of the tags below to mark the article's main page. Then, on the article's talk page, make a new section entitled "NPOV dispute [- followed by a section's name if you're challenging just a particular section of the article and not the article as a whole]". Then, under this new section, clearly and exactly explain which part of the article does not seem to have a NPOV and why. Make some suggestions as to how one can improve the article. Be active and bold in improving the article.

How can neutrality be achieved?

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Talking with other contributors is a great way to find out why there is a dispute over an article's neutrality. Ideas and POV's can be shared and ultimately the disputed fact or point can be fixed if it is incorrect or, when dealing with a controversial issue, various legitimate sources can be cited in the article.

Historians commonly cite many sources in books because there are and will always be disputes over history. Contributors on Wikipedia can do the same thing, thus giving readers a broad spectrum of POVs and opinions.

Adding a page

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To mark a dispute on a page, type {{POV}}, which expands into:

The neutrality of this article is disputed.
Please see the discussion on the talk page.

(edit: en:Template:POV )

Please note: The above label is meant to indicate that a discussion is ongoing, and hence that the article contents are disputed and volatile. If you add the above code to an article which seems to be biased to you, but there is no prior discussion of the bias, you need to at least leave a note on the article's talk page describing what you consider unacceptable about the article. The note should address the problem with enough specificity to allow constructive discussion towards a resolution, such as identifying specific passages, elements, or phrasings that are problematic.

Another related boilerplate is {{POV-check}}:

This article may not conform to the neutral point of view policy.
A Wikipedian has nominated this article to be checked for its neutrality.
Discussion of this nomination can be found on the talk page.

(edit: en:Template:POV check )

Use this boilerplate when there is no active discussion of a dispute on the talk page, but the article does not appear to conform to NPOV guidelines. You should explain what's wrong with the article on the talk page. See also: en:Wikipedia:POV check


The neutrality of this section is disputed.
Please see the discussion on the talk page.

(edit: en:Template:POV-section )

Use this when the bulk of an article is OK, but a single section appears not to be NPOV. You should explain what's wrong with the section on the talk page.