User:Rl/NPOV

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NPOV crusade[edit]

If you came here because you are confused by my work, if you came here to find out about my agenda: I strongly support Wikipedia's neutral point of view. To me, that is simply the single most important issue in Wikipedia – that is my crusade.

Obviously, that does not mean that all my edits are motivated to further the NPOV (let alone that I have no POV myself). And since I am fairly busy, I have my crusade on the backburner.

Regardless, I see several reasons for a fair presentation of all sides of an issue:

Know your enemy[edit]

The more important a specific issue is to you, the more important it becomes to observe those who fail to agree with you. This idea is uncontroversial – everyone who has ever prepared for a debate is familiar with it.

Educate others[edit]

History has shown time and time again that the media are highly effective means of influencing people. However, you need to control a sizable chunk (preferably all) of the media or people will spot the bias easily.

Wikipedia is nowhere near being the primary source of information for most people, so someone managing to introduce a clear bias in any direction will just result in people dismissing WP as a reliable source for information.

In addition, any substantial minority can create a fork anytime with a bias of their liking. So you may well end up preaching to the choir while those you meant to educate are now using a fork which removes your arguments as you removed theirs.

If you want to educate others, do not give them an excuse or an incentive to use sources with their favorite slant – if they disagree with you, having them read NPOV articles is the best you can hope for.

Cultivate dissent for the sake of it[edit]

Dissent is not only the mark of a free society, it is also a valuable good. It keeps a well run group from becoming complacent and offers alternatives if or rather when the world changes.

Any group of people that manages to silence all dissenters is doomed. No matter how well run it is, it lost the most effective means to eliminate bad ideas and create new ones.

Educate yourself[edit]

Elections, business investments, or jobs – most decisions in life are trade-offs with dynamics that are often surprising. The world changes, and with it the basis for our decisions.

It is common wisdom that mistakes are cheaper to correct if we learn about them early, and that they are easier to correct if we are undogmatic about the decision we need to reconsider.

Knowing all sides of an issue, knowing that the world is not black and white helps avoiding dogmatism which is a trap because it makes revisiting a decision virtually impossible. This is not advocating relativism: You can still strive to identify particularly bright shades of gray. It just means that changing an opinion does not fundamentally threaten your idea of the world.

In addition, watching the trade-offs shift in the battle of opinions enables us to recognize our mistakes earlier than if we waited for fate or history to hit us with a clue-bat. And chances are that of all the many opinions each of us holds, some are both fairly important to our future and wrong.

Personally, I spend a lot of resources on things I believe in. And I work hard to stay up-to-date with every criticism of my beliefs – I would rather know today than tomorrow if I have been wasting my time or my money.

the battle of opinions[edit]

To the extent that our disagreements are about opinions, we can never hope to resolve them. I'm not really concerned about dissent or consensus, our conclusions, our beliefs, do not shape the world. Argument here is sterile, and indeed, intended to be sterile (otherwise it would be the sin of Original Research). The purpose of the WP, like any reference book, is as a medium for individual self-education (primarily of the user; also for the editor, for trying to put something into plain words is very educational.) It is not for the discovery of truth; that's an unreasonable goal. We write the best we can for the present. Only an artist can write for the future. 71.247.14.30 04:39, 15 September 2006 (UTC)