Wikiquote:Neutral point of view

This page is an official policy on Wikiquote.
It has wide acceptance among editors and is considered a standard that all users should follow.
Please do not make significant changes to this page without prior discussion.

Wikiquote Policies and Guidelines

Wikiquote has a strict neutral point of view (NPOV) policy, which basically states that its mission is best served not by advancing or detracting particular points of view on any given subject, but by trying to present a fair, neutral description of the facts, among which are the facts that various interpretations and points of view exist. (Of course, there are limits to which points of view are worth mentioning, and this can be an area of conflict.) This policy exists on all Wikimedia projects.

"Neutral point of view" should not be confused with "point of view espoused by an international body such as the United Nations"; writing in NPOV style requires recognising that even widely held or widely respected points of view are not necessarily all-encompassing.

While NPOV is an ultimate goal in writing a Wikiquote article, it's difficult to achieve immediately as a single writer, and is thus sometimes regarded as an iterative process (as is wiki writing in general), by which opposing viewpoints compromise on language and presentation to produce a neutral description acceptable to all.

This might be viewed as an adversarial system, but hopefully a polite one. One is expected to approximate NPOV to the best of one's ability and welcome improvements brought by others in good faith; a failure of the system can become an edit war, in which two or more parties dig in and refuse to compromise, instead reverting each other's changes outright.

The original formulation of NPOV

A general purpose encyclopedia is a collection of synthesized knowledge presented from a neutral point of view. To whatever extent possible, encyclopedic writing should steer clear of taking any particular stance other than the stance of the neutral point of view.

The neutral point of view attempts to present ideas and facts in such a fashion that both supporters and opponents can agree. Of course, 100% agreement is not possible; there are ideologues in the world who will not concede to any presentation other than a forceful statement of their own point of view. We can only seek a type of writing that is agreeable to essentially rational people who may differ on particular points.

Some examples may help to drive home the point I am trying to make:

  1. An encyclopedic article should not argue that corporations are criminals, even if the author believes it to be so. It should instead present the fact that some people believe it, and what their reasons are, and then as well it should present what the other side says.
  2. An encyclopedia article should not argue that laissez-faire capitalism is the best social system. [...] It should instead present the arguments of the advocates of that point of view, and the arguments of the people who disagree with that point of view.

Perhaps the easiest way to make your writing more encyclopedic is to write about what people believe, rather than what is so. If this strikes you as somehow subjectivist or collectivist or imperialist, then ask me about it, because I think that you are just mistaken. What people believe is a matter of objective fact, and we can present that quite easily from the neutral point of view.

Jimbo Wales, Wikimedia founder

NPOV on Wikiquote

Since Wikiquote is a collection of quotations, NPOV writing is less frequently required. This does not mean that NPOV is any less an official policy, or that it does not apply on Wikiquote. Quotations included in Wikiquote do not need to conform to NPOV, as they are reflections of the point-of-view of the quoted individual; however, all non-quote text on Wikiquote (excluding userpages and with limitations in the Wikiquote namespace) should conform to NPOV. This includes intro text on quote pages, templates intended for the main namespace (they should not express preference for or against any view, etc.), and where relevant, the contents of the Wikiquote namespace.

See also