Neutral Point Of View

Wikipedia, for example, utilizes the neutral point of view of when writing their articles. This is due to their wide audience range. In order to do this effectively an article must display every side of a given issue.

This is where blogs and wikis differ. In blogs one side of a topic can thoroughly by discussed and researched by one author. In some cases details can be cherrypicked to reinforce the bloggers own opinions. A wiki can be written to develop all angles to express conflict-free information from multiple authors.

The example given in the book best describes this form of writing:
"Instead of writing 'Apples taste good,' one would instead write 'Some people like the taste of apples.' "

How NPOV Works

In NPOV, statements of passions are converted semantically into observations - observations that can be pretty obvious.

Apples taste good. => Some people like the taste of apples.

This appears to be the perspective of the observer, the historian, the anthropologist, the consultant: those who work out ideas as a discipline, by testing them against the world and each other (RyanHeilman). There's a loss in that conversion, but a gain in the distance. (MattLavrenz, DevanBierbrauer). What is lost in personal passion is gained in distance and inclusion. The consistency of NPOV might also make the article easier to read and to edit. (MattLavrenz).

NPOV and This Wiki

We don't strive for NPOV on this wiki. We would like DocumentMode to seem to written by TheVoiceOfTheWiki. [more]

There's some discussion in WikiWebCollaborationChap1 on whether NPOV is really possible - not that that means we can't try it out. Someone can check more on this on Wikipedia and elsewhere.

re: conflict. I think WikiWebCollaborationChap1 talks about this. We like to think that ConflictIsABadThing, but the authors suggest that wikis make it possible for conflict and dissensus to move development of ideas along by letting conflicting ideas live side by side. Maybe ConsensusIsABadThing.

Something to consider as well would be the differences between thread mode and document mode. Thread mode, much the same as a blog allows initial ownership of a point of view. In document mode though there is an absolute need to be more careful when putting forth an opinion.

I have found wikis to be biased sometimes mostly due to the access that anyone can do on the wikis. But I do think that some people also like to play the devil's advocate, they enjoy arguing with people, almost like a sport; they get a high either off of the rush of the adrenaline or by their competitiveness. Maybe the next person I find that is this way, I'll send them to a wiki to debate with people; look at this as a new profession: TheWikiArguer by trade, debater for life.


There are those who enjoy setting up what WND's Joseph Farah pinned as "pseudo-journalistic terrorism." His Wikipedia bio stated he was a "noted homosexual" as well as numerous other fallacies about his personal and professional life. When Farah attempted to change these "facts" he was told he was not a reliable source of information. On the other hand, I found a site dedicated to pointing out copious examples of liberal bias while I found a different site dedicated to highlighting examples of conservative bias.

In order to think (and thus report) objectively you must put aside any preconceived notions. You can type in any kind of claim into a search engine and you will find arguments for and against your idea. Search "water is bad for you" and the first page of hits alone range from Mother Nature Network headlines to Ben Franklin quotes. If we believe something enough, we will find facts to prove we're correct. Still don't believe me? Search "gravity doesn't exist."

Something I also want to point out is the fact that someone created that Wikipedia article because they felt strongly about that person/place/thing. If you're a reporter and you love Abraham Lincoln, you're not going to mention how he suspended the writ of habeas corpus but about how he signed the Emancipation Proclamation and had a really cool speech. Maybe that is what's good about Wiki's allowance of anyone to edit their pages. If someone sees that kind of error they can just go and fix it themselves.


Lots of wikis also have "talk" pages for highly contested, or just plain interesting subjects. These pages allow wiki users to hash out their ideas about the subject and settle on something reasonably neutral to put on the page. In addition, most wikis don't have the conversational interface that ours has, so if people genuinely just want to have a conversation about the subject, they're free to do so.


I think something important to keep in mind when talking about wikis is the idea that to the reader, the wiki was written by one person (or seems to be.) The voice of the wiki really should remain neutral as well as the ideas on the page. Otherwise the reader would most likely get lost much quicker.


re: I copied and pasted your point onto TheVoiceOfTheWiki. It fits here, and is also a great starting point for this page. MatthewAdams

So if the writer stays neutral, what happens to the information that is missing due to the inability to stay neutral on other content? People may argue that someone is awesome, but what about all of the bad things that they did? It should be up to the reader as to whether or not they agree with the information and what is repeated throughout their search for truth.


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