Forum:Disclaimer template for controversy sections on smasher articles

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Forums: Index Proposals Disclaimer template for controversy sections on smasher articles
Proposed.png This discussion is in regards to a proposed change on SmashWiki. The discussion must first meet with a consensus before it is implemented.

After having read through the concerns raised by user Xaltis, regarding the controversy section of her smasher article, I believe that we need to take some action against the potential harm that the Wiki may be inadvertently causing to certain smashers. That is, by including a controversy section for allegations made against these smashers, without a clear disclaimer mentioning that unless stated otherwise these allegations are unsupported, we may be being complicit in the wrongful shunning and exclusion of innocent smashers.

While I don't know much about this particular case, and can't comment on the accuracy of the allegations, I have no doubt that there are at least a few instances of false allegations made against smashers who don't have the platform or support to defend themselves in a way that is satisfactory to be included as a reference on the Wiki. In the case of Xaltis specifically, after a fairly long string of text effectively condemning her, our representation of her response to the allegations amounts to "Xaltis denies the allegations".

My main issue with this is that, when presented with a list of allegations made against an individual, regardless of their quality or validity, the typical reader's impression of that individual will be permanently tainted, regardless of whether the reader has been presented with anything of substance to back up these claims. Granted, the Wiki is not responsible for the actions of unscrupulous accusers, but the fact is that many people view the Wiki as an authoritative source of information on smashers, and thus when we brazenly list any allegation, made against a smasher, that has garnered any sort of notability, with no formal disclaimer being displayed alongside them, we are absolutely being complicit in the propagation of these malicious allegations, even if we don't explicitly endorse their credibility.

With this in mind, it is very understandable that certain smashers will be very unhappy with the way the Wiki has portrayed them, and the allegations made against them. I would argue that we have indeed been irresponsible by not including such a disclaimer, and I believe we have a responsibility to rectify this.

I propose that we create a template, in a similar style to other notice templates, which makes it clear that the Wiki's inclusion of these allegations is for completion, and is in no way an indication of the validity of the allegations. I'm thinking of wording somewhere along the lines of "The following section lists allegations made against an individual, which are included for completeness. The inclusion of these allegations is not an endorsement of their validity, nor does it indicate that the allegations are supported, unless stated otherwise." The design of the template would be very simple, perhaps with a gray colour scheme and a typical !-warning sign, or something to that effect.

Please let me know what you think of this, and if anyone can come up with possible designs for the template, that would be much appreciated. Note also that the wording I provided is not final, and suggested improvements are also welcome and encouraged. Alex the Weeb 10:43, March 18, 2021 (EDT)

Support[edit]

  1. As stated above. Alex the Weeb 10:43, March 18, 2021 (EDT)

Oppose[edit]

  1. Oppose. We already have a general disclaimer. I don't think we need to specify this and in fact I think it would serve to empower those who have allegations against them to flag them this way rather than leaving things at the baseline we currently do: "we report the factual existence of the allegations and don't pass judgment ourselves". Miles (talk) 10:51, March 18, 2021 (EDT)
  2. Oppose. The word "allegation" speaks for itself. They're accusations levied by someone against someone else, and unless we clearly state that they admitted to their actions, they should be seen as such (we even stated this when Aidan made his post on Reddit back in July). In addition, their reputations would be tarnished regardless because we aren't the only place that notes this information, in fact I would argue that Twitter and other social media does a much better job in bringing more attention to the allegations. Sure we can have a notice that states that the allegations are not confirmed but that wouldn't stop the majority of people from believing it as true regardless. CookiesCnC Signature.pngCreme 11:35, March 18, 2021 (EDT)
  3. Oppose. I understand the sentiment here, but I don't see why this is necessary. We use the wording of "allegation" and a neutral tone akin to that of a press article, which is all that's needed. When you're adding one of these disclaimers it'll often end up being like 5 lines long and more, and it just ends up being unnecessary fluff that can even take attention away from the allegations. This boils down to an invasive wall of text that adds literally nothing to the allegations at hand, it's completely irrelevant. I don't think it'd even be particularly helpful in regards to stopping people from having "warped" perceptions of the individual. I'd argue that the universal disclaimer should be linked via a template or something instead, which is much less invasive and does exactly what you want. Perhaps it can even be revamped to include consideration for "criminal" allegations; it hasn't been updated since 2015 and could use with a look, yeah? --PlagueSigImage.pngPlague von KarmaPlagueSigImage.png 04:17, March 24, 2021 (EDT)

Neutral[edit]

  1. I like the idea of this, but I do not like the way you've worded it. The inclusion of these allegations is not an endorsement of their validity makes it sound way too much like "we know this isn't true but we're leaving this here anyway" (which obviously isn't true). I am not sure how I'd like it worded, but this isn't it. Serpent SKSig.png King 15:21, March 18, 2021 (EDT)
  2. I don't think this is a bad idea, but I don't see much point to it other than just adding needless fluff to every relevant article; controversy sections are already supposed to be written in a neutral tone that conveys we're not backing either side as the truth (outside of cases where it's confirmed beyond a doubt), and of course the catch-all SmashWiki disclaimer exists. Additionally the Xaltis situation is not a good precedent for this; of course anyone that is involved in any such controversy has it in their best interest to have their controversy section removed or be rewritten to be as flattering to them as possible regardless of if they're guilty, so someone that cares enough about their smasher article will try to raise a stink about it regardless of how balanced the coverage is and is unlikely to be deterred by any disclaimer. Omega Tyrant TyranitarMS.png 21:32, March 18, 2021 (EDT)

Comments[edit]

There is absolutely no way that general disclaimer is sufficient here. And in what capacity are we empowering those with allegations made against them by placing a disclaimer at the top of their section before going on to provide a list of allegations that have been made against them? I really don't understand how you can look at something like this, and say that we are not contributing to this very real issue? Alex the Weeb 10:57, March 18, 2021 (EDT)

The Xaltis situation is, to my knowledge, in the process of being rewritten right now to encompass additional details about her behavior that are currently not there, so that's not in a stable place to use as a reference point. More generally, I don't see why we should have to hedge our reporting further when we can simply list the allegations and any response from the player, list any bans/consequences that have resulted, cite our sources, and not attempt to say anything that isn't neutral, factual reporting. Stating that the assumption is that allegations are "unsupported" would only serve to imply that accusers' claims shouldn't be taken seriously. Besides, if the claim isn't supported by citations, it shouldn't be here in the first place to need such a disclaimer anyway. Miles (talk) 11:03, March 18, 2021 (EDT)
We're not saying they're unsupported, we're saying that if we don't provide supporting evidence, the reader can assume they are unsupported, which is consistent with the principle of innocent unless found to be guilty. In other words, we're saying that we will list allegations that aren't necessarily supported, which is what we are currently doing on multiple smasher articles. If you take issue with the specific wording used, feel free to provide an improved wording. Also note that showing that the allegation was made is not the same as stating that the allegation is supported. Currently, pretty much any allegation made is being listed in controversy sections with minimal vetting, and the only source is the accuser's word. Without a disclaimer, we are being irresponsible with our reporting. Alex the Weeb 11:10, March 18, 2021 (EDT)
Stating that an allegation exists doesn't bypass "innocent until proven guilty" or anything like that. All we're doing is the same thing you'll see journalists do where articles will use phrasing like "alleged" or "claimed" rather than anything more definite. We are not the arbiters of whether a cited accusation is "supported" enough or not, nor should we be. Your proposal would imply accusations are false until "proven" true, which is as undesirable as the other way around especially in this context. Far better to simply state the facts ("allegation exists", "XYZ was banned", "XYZ disputes things", etc.), cite our sources, and allow the reader to come to their own conclusions without us feeling the need to prejudice their opinion. Miles (talk) 11:15, March 18, 2021 (EDT)
No, it absolutely isn't. The disclaimer serves as a warning against treating our listing of the allegations as a comment on their validity. It is well known that simply stating that someone was accused of a crime triggers a bias against that individual, and when it comes from a source that people trust, this effect is amplified. We can't simply pretend that we're not causing this to happen, nor can we fool ourself into believing that the average reader has ever read the generic disclaimer article, or if they have, that they will be taking it into account when reading about such allegations. This is not an issue we can afford to be complicit in. Alex the Weeb 11:24, March 18, 2021 (EDT)

@SK: I'm really not sure how you would arrive at that interpretation, but regardless, as I said the wording isn't final, and is simply an example of the kind of thing it would say, so do let me know if you come up with a better way of wording it. Alex the Weeb 15:43, March 18, 2021 (EDT)

I also think that wording needs to be changed, but like SK, I cannot think of a better way of wording it at this time. Black Vulpine of the 🦊Furry Nation🐺. Furries make the internets go! :3 18:40, March 18, 2021 (EDT)
Ok, I'm assuming the problem with the current wording is the perceived lack of neutrality. I have written a more neutral version of the disclaimer: "The following section contains a record of allegations made against a person or group of people. Their inclusion on this Wiki is neither an endorsement, nor a condemnation of, either the allegations, or any of the parties involved. Per our disclaimer, SmashWiki cannot guarantee the validity of the allegations listed, nor should it be taken as an authority on the issue." I think this wording could also serve as a better representation of where we stand from a liability perspective as well, but my main concern is that we minimize the harm that our Wiki may inadvertently cause. Thoughts? Alex the Weeb 19:06, March 18, 2021 (EDT)