Verifiability and Neutral point of view (Transcript, en)
You’ve probably seen Wikipedia. It’s a free online encyclopedia, built by people like you and me around the world. You might wonder how thousands of people build an encyclopedia together…
Well, first, Wikipedia is a wiki website, a website anyone can edit. So, on Wikipedia, editing or creating a new article happens with the click of a button. But for these contributions to remain in Wikipedia, they have to follow two basic rules.
The first is verifiability. With so many contributors, Wikipedia articles must rely on information from published sources like books or newspapers – resources known for fact-checking.
Requiring contributors to cite these resources in articles and quotations ensures that Wikipedia articles are factual and high quality. If it’s not verified, it can’t be in Wikipedia. For example, you can write that the US unemployment rate in 1935 was 20.1%, but you must also cite its source for it to remain in Wikipedia. In this case, numerous history books could be verifiable resources.
The second rule requires a neutral point of view. All Wikipedia material must be presented fairly and without bias, just like any other encyclopedia. This means Wikipedia is not a place for contributors to share their own opinions.
Let’s say you’re an advocate for vaccinations and you write “every parent should get their children vaccinated.” Unfortunately, this is biased and certain to cause disagreement. It can’t be in Wikipedia. However, published opinions of experts can be included. And if these opinions differ, the article should present all the major opinions without endorsing one over the other.
For example, writing that: “Vaccinating all U.S. children saves an estimated 33,000 lives.” and citing a reputable source is a statement of fact that can be verified.
And if there is an opposing view, it should also be included. For example, a quote from a reputable source like “critics claim that vaccinations have never benefited public health” helps to balance the article and keep it neutral.
By following these two rules, contributors can respect one another and help create a free encyclopedia, the largest encyclopedia in human history. Learn more at wikipedia.org.