RuneScape:Neutral point of view

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This page in a nutshell:
All RuneScape Wiki articles should be written from a neutral point of view.

All RuneScape Wiki articles must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), representing fairly and without bias all significant views. For guidance on how to make an article conform to the neutral point of view, see the NPOV tutorial.

According to Wikipedia founder Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales: "A few things are absolute and non-negotiable. NPOV for example." [1]

Explanation of the neutral point of view[edit source]

The neutral point of view[edit source]

The neutral point of view is a means of dealing with conflicting views. The policy requires that, where there are or have been conflicting views, these should be presented fairly. None of the views should be given undue weight or asserted as being the truth, and all significant published points of view are to be presented, not just the most popular one. It should also not be asserted that the most popular view or some sort of intermediate view among the different views is the correct one. Readers are left to form their own opinions.

As the name suggests, the neutral point of view is a point of view, not the absence or elimination of viewpoints. It is a point of view that is neutral - that is neither sympathetic nor in opposition to its subject.

Debates are described, represented, and characterised, but not engaged in. Background is provided on who believes what and why, and which view is more popular. Detailed articles might also contain the mutual evaluations of each viewpoint, but studiously refrain from stating which is better. One can think of unbiased writing as the cold, fair, analytical description of all relevant sides of a debate. When bias towards one particular point of view can be detected, the article needs to be fixed.

Bias[edit source]

NPOV requires views to be represented without bias. All editors and all sources have biases. A bias is a prejudice in a general or specific sense, usually in the sense of having a predilection for one particular point of view or ideology. One is said to be biased if one is influenced by one's biases. A bias could, for example, lead one to accept or not-accept the truth of a claim, not because of the strength of the claim itself, but because it does or does not correspond to one's own preconceived ideas.

Types of bias include:

  • Class bias, including bias favouring a "type" of RuneScape player ("Noob", "Pk'er", "Hi-level")
  • Commercial bias, such as the promotion of a YouTube video, player gathering, or event.
  • Sensationalism, which is bias in favour of the exceptional over the ordinary, often leading to Undue Weight. This includes the practice whereby exceptional events may be overemphasised, such as riots, forum black-outs etc. (in some cases)
  • Bias generated from the players' perception of Jagex, or RuneScape itself, where two separate parties (supporters and opposers) may POV push their philosophies onto the Wiki. This is similar to the Rants forum.

A simple formulation[edit source]

We sometimes give an alternative formulation of the non-bias policy: assert facts, including facts about opinions — but do not assert opinions themselves. There is a difference between facts and opinions. By "fact" we mean "a piece of information about which there is no serious dispute." For example, that a survey produced a certain published result would be a fact. That there is a planet called ScapeRune is a fact. That partyhats are discontinued is a fact. No one seriously disputes any of these things. So we can feel free to assert as many of them as we can.

By value or opinion, on the other hand, we mean "a piece of information about which there is some dispute." There are bound to be borderline cases where we are not sure if we should take a particular dispute seriously; but there are many propositions that very clearly express values or opinions. That gold-farming is wrong is a value or opinion. That R4ng3rno0b889 was the greatest ranger is a value or opinion. That the Jagex was wrong to remove unbalanced trade is a value or opinion.

The RuneScape Wiki is devoted to stating facts in the sense as described above. Where we might want to state an opinion, we convert that opinion into a fact by attributing the opinion to someone. So, rather than asserting, "R4ng3rno0b889 was the greatest ranger," we can say, "Most players believe that R4ng3rno0b889 was the greatest ranger," which is a fact verifiable by survey results, or "R4ng3rno0b889 had the most xp on the high scores list for Ranged," which is also fact. In the first instance we assert an opinion; in the second and third instances we "convert" that opinion into fact by attributing it to someone. It is important to note this formulation is substantially different from the "some people believe..." formulation popular in political debates. The reference requires an identifiable and objectively quantifiable population or, better still, a name (with the clear implication that the named individual should be a recognised authority).

In presenting an opinion, moreover, it is important to bear in mind that there are disagreements about how opinions are best stated; sometimes, it will be necessary to qualify the description of an opinion or to present several formulations, simply to arrive at a solution that fairly represents all the leading views of the situation.

But it is not enough, to express the RuneScape Wiki non-bias policy, just to say that we should state facts and not opinions. When asserting a fact about an opinion, it is important also to assert facts about competing opinions, and to do so without implying that any one of the opinions is correct. It is also generally important to give the facts about the reasons behind the views, and to make it clear who holds them. It is often best to cite a prominent representative of the view.

Situations and handling[edit source]

Undue weight[edit source]

NPOV says that the article should fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by a verifiable source, and should do so in proportion to the prominence of each. Now an important qualification: Articles that compare views need not give minority views as much or as detailed a description as more popular views, and may not include tiny-minority views at all (by example, the article on Bounty Hunter doesn't mention praising it over the Wilderness, only because a distinct minority of players actually have such views). We should not attempt to represent a dispute as if a view held by a small minority deserved as much attention as a majority view, and views that are held by a tiny minority should not be represented except in articles devoted to those views. To give undue weight to a significant-minority view, or to include a tiny-minority view, might be misleading as to the shape of the dispute.

Undue weight applies to more than just viewpoints. Just as giving undue weight to a viewpoint is not neutral, so is giving undue weight to other verifiable and sourced statements. An article should not give undue weight to any aspects of the subject, but should strive to treat each aspect with a weight appropriate to its significance to the subject. Note that undue weight can be given in several ways, including, but not limited to, depth of detail, quantity of text, prominence of placement, and juxtaposition of statements.

None of this is to say that tiny-minority views cannot receive as much attention as we can give them on pages specifically devoted to them. The RuneScape Wiki is not paper. But even on such pages, though a view may be spelled out in great detail, it should not be represented as the truth.

In other words, views held only by a tiny minority of people should not be represented as though they are significant minority views, and perhaps should not be represented at all.

A vital component: good research[edit source]

Disagreements over whether something is approached the Neutral Point Of View (NPOV) way can usually be avoided through the practice of good research. Facts (as defined in the A simple formulation section above) are not Points Of View (POV, here used in the meaning of "opposite of NPOV") in and of themselves. A good way to build a neutral point of view is to find a reputable source for the piece of information you want to add to RuneScape Wiki, and then cite that source. This is an easy way to characterise a side of a debate without excluding that the debate has other sides. The trick is to find the best and most reputable sources you can. Try the library for good books and journal articles, and look for the most reliable online resources. A little bit of ground work can save a lot of time in trying to justify a point later.

Fairness of tone[edit source]

If we are going to characterise disputes neutrally, we should present competing views with a consistently fair and sensitive tone. Many articles end up as partisan commentary even while presenting both points of view. Even when a topic is presented in terms of facts rather than opinion, an article can still radiate an implied stance through either selection of which facts to present, or more subtly their organisation — for instance, refuting opposing views as one goes along makes them look a lot worse than collecting them in an opinions-of-opponents section.

Let the facts speak for themselves[edit source]

A piece of advice is given about Lucien (not that this has not been actually stated, but is to remove the Wikipedia aspect of this policy on the RuneScape Wiki):

You won't even need to say he was evil. That is why the article on Zamorak does not start with "Zamorak was a bad Mahjarrat" — we don't need to, his deeds convict him a thousand times over. We just list the facts of his deeds dispassionately, and the voices of the dead cry out afresh in a way that makes name-calling both pointless and unnecessary. Please do the same: list Lucien's crimes, and cite your sources.

Remember that readers will probably not take kindly to moralising. If you do not allow the facts to speak for themselves you may alienate readers and turn them against your position.

Attributing and substantiating biased statements[edit source]

Sometimes, a potentially biased statement can be reframed into an NPOV statement by attributing or substantiating it.

For instance, "Elfinlocks is the best PKer in RuneScape" is, by itself, merely an expression of opinion. One way to make it suitable for the RuneScape Wiki is to change it into a statement about someone whose opinion it is: "Elfinlocks' combat skills have been praised by many players such as Cow1337killr and R4ng3rno0b889," as long as those statements are correct and can be verified. The goal here is to attribute the opinion to some subject-matter expert, rather than to merely state it as true.

A different approach is to substantiate the statement, by giving factual details that back it up: "Elfinlocks had the highest killcount in Bounty Hunter from 2003 through 2006." Instead of using the vague word "best," this statement spells out a particular way in which Elfinlocks excels.

Common objections and clarifications[edit source]

  • Does this apply to Guides? Should we be giving weight to less effective strategies?
    • In most cases, no. Guides, when well-written, illustrate the best paths to accomplishing something. For instance, while saying "it's possible to defeat Elvarg with a steel scimitar so you can try if u want to" does give lesser strategies "weight" in the Elvarg article, readers can feel deceived by the content. This lowers our credibility for our guides.

Notes[edit source]

  1. ^ "A few things are absolute and non-negotiable. NPOV for example." in statement by Jimbo Wales in November 2003 and reconfirmed by Jimbo Wales in April 2006 in the context of lawsuits.

Other resources[edit source]