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I asked a rather tongue in cheek question to demonstrate what I feel is a real problem on this site. A number of questions I've seen are based on what I feel is an overly literal interpretation of a "claim".

For instance, even though it happens to be true, I don't believe any great number of people think that pregnant women actually "glow" in any physiological sense when they say "you're glowing". I also see my question as directly analogous to this question about Rihanna and the Illuminati. This also touches on claims in fiction such as the "off the record" question.

Is this just something to let voting sort out? If so, why was my Slim Shady question closed with multiple upvotes? I guess I just want some definition on a policy here instead of just going with a squishy interpretation of what constitutes a real claim.

Related: Is humor and satire acceptable for notable claims?

  • Note: I deleted your question on sight, before I read this. – Oddthinking Jun 25 '14 at 2:59
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Closure vs. votes

Closure is not necessarily related to upvotes. Closure is based on whether the claim is notable (believed by a bunch of people) and whether the question is narrow, clear, and objective. Votes are whether users think the question is useful and clear, and that the asker has put in a modicum of research effort.

Glowing women

This site establishes that people do believe that "the "bloom" or "glow" of pregnancy is not just a saying".

Analogy to Rihanna/Illuminati question

Your Slim Shady question can be distinguished from the Rihanna/Illuminati question because Eminem's assertion that he is the Real Slim Shady is limited to performance. The claims that Rihanna is part of the Illuminati are not limited to performance.

Also the Slim Shady question is one of self-description. The Illuminati question is one of membership in an organization.

Real claims

There is no criteria on this site requiring claims to be "real" except perhaps implicitly via the following requirements. Claims need to be notable (believed by a bunch of people). The question needs to be objective. The question needs to be narrow. The question needs to be clear.

As the closure was due to non-notability, my guess is that the close-voters think that nobody actually believes there is a status outside of performance that is objectively considered being the "Real Slim Shady".

  • Thanks for the answer. I would say about the "glowing" question, even though it happens to be true that women "glow" when pregnant, I don't see any evidence that such a claim is believed by anyone. For instance, the radiant example I gave in a comment on @Oddthinking's answer is actually true in that all humans emit black body radiation. That doesn't mean that it's a notable claim that a "radiantly beautiful" person radiates. It's just a figure of speech that happens to have a meaningful literal interpretation. – William Grobman Jun 25 '14 at 4:06
  • @WilliamGrobman The site I linked to that explicitly says "the "bloom" or "glow" of pregnancy is not just a saying" isn't evidence that people believe that it isn't just a saying? I think that shows that at least the writers and readers of that website believe that. – user5582 Jun 25 '14 at 6:31
  • That is a fair point. It does seem that some people interpret "glowing" in some sort of ruddying sense. I just find that rather hard to believe. – William Grobman Jun 25 '14 at 16:57
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Before I address the question, I want to address the way that you asked it.

When one becomes frustrated with the way a policy or guideline is being applied, it may be tempting to try to discredit the rule or interpretation thereof by, in one's view, applying it consistently. Sometimes, this is done simply to prove a point in a local dispute. In other cases, one might try to enforce a rule in a generally unpopular way, with the aim of getting it changed.

Such tactics are highly disruptive to the project. If you feel that a policy is problematic, the policy's talk page is the proper place to raise your concerns. If you simply disagree with someone's actions in an article, discuss it on the article talk page or related pages.

Note that someone can legitimately make a point, without disrupting Wikipedia to illustrate it.

We are not Wikipedia, but the arguments supporting that policy apply equally here. Please do not pose fake questions. We don't think we have a strict policy on this, but we will get one if it proves to be a problem.

In the meantime, I saw the question was not posed in good faith and had no chance of being rescued into a good question, and so I deleted it outright.

  • On the other hand, we do have strict policies against "sock puppeting".

Do not create fake accounts. It is a quick way to have all of your accounts suspended.

  • Your "glow" example is a poor one.

I understand you don't believe it. I understand that. I've always assumed it is a white lie people say to tired women with body-image issues to make them feel better about themselves. [I am willing to acknowledge I may be missing something that others can see; empirical evidence that people can pick recently pregnant women from photos/videos of their face, at a better than chance level, would cinch it for me.]

But that we don't believe it is very different to saying an insignificant number of people believe it. It is not hard to find people who do believe it, or are on the fence

  • Your Rhianna example is an outdated one.

It was asked in April 2011, when the site had barely entered Beta. We hadn't established any of the key policies that now define the site. (As a general rule, I treat any question before June 2011 as being from a different culture.)

This also-outdated, also-over-literal-interpretation question was very controversial at the time, and helped promote some of those new rules.


Which brings me to the question: The ultimate test is "Do many people believe the claim?" As that is hard to measure, we use a proxy of whether the claim is "notable" - if many people have heard it or repeated it, it is likely that many people will believe it (or even better, be interested in the evidence before they believe it).

If the question relies on reading the claim very literally, we need to ask whether people believing the claim are also interpreting it literally.

It is sometimes a tough call. It is made more difficult by the fact that many skeptics (and I don't exclude myself) are rather literally-minded.

(It is one of the reasons I dislike questions that ask us to test Biblical passages literally. They quickly gets bogged into arguments about how the passages should be interpreted.)

  • +1. 1st: I support deleting the question (but would extend that to others that are just as ridiculous). The question was not quite like disruptive editing though because I genuinely wondered how the policy would apply. 2nd: I think the glow example is good. It would be like asking if [insert beautiful actress] is really "radiant" and expecting a physics based answer instead of realizing it's just a figure of speech that has nothing to do with her "radiating" in the physical sense. 3rd: Good point about the old question. Would agree that it wouldn't be welcome now? – William Grobman Jun 25 '14 at 3:59
  • 4th (the question part): I like your Bible example. I guess I just really wish there was a better way to quantify if the "claim" in an actual claim that people believe, or simply a piece of fiction or figure of speech. What do you think of the radiant example in my previous comment? – William Grobman Jun 25 '14 at 4:01
  • I've seen shampoo ads that promise to make your hair 72% more radiant. (Okay, I don't remember the exact figure, but I remember choking with horror, and wondering if there was ever a time where words actually meant something. Sigh.) I guess that would be a notable claim - if we thought lots of people walked away with the belief that hair radiance (in the beauty sense, not the optics sense) was measurable. – Oddthinking Jun 25 '14 at 13:43
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In addition to @Oddthinking's excellent answer, I'd like to point out that many claims we address here are always going to be in some way, ridiculous.

For example, I personally find claims against evolution or pro-young Earth, or in denial of climate change, completely ludicrous and devoid of any believability. I also once asked a ridiculous question because I thought it would be OK. It wasn't.

That said, when establishing rules, we can't accept a simple subjective interpretation of the users of the site. That would make the rule unfair.

This is the reason why we have the notability rule as we do:

Claims have to be seriously believed by a sizable number of adults.

Under this rule, we can objectively keep YEC questions and close Slim Shady questions.

  • Thanks for the Santa link; that was very instructive. I also read its linked adult belief question. Is your notability definition official? I thought it just meant the claim was widely known. Both the "believed" (which I thought notability was a proxy for) and the "adult" parts were news to me. – William Grobman Jun 26 '14 at 14:15
  • @Wil I believe they are official – Sklivvz Jun 26 '14 at 14:32
  • @Sklivvz and Wil, I think the quote in this answer is a paraphrase and slight change from notability standards that have been upvoted widely by the community in the past. I can't find this exact wording, or reference to adults in any other meta post about notability – user5582 Jun 26 '14 at 16:23
  • @Articuno That is my understanding too. I was under the impression that we used notability as a proxy for belief under the assumption that if a claim is widely disseminated, it's likely widely believed. The adult-belief meta question linked in the Santa question showed the adult part didn't have consensus either. – William Grobman Jun 26 '14 at 21:40
  • @will it did have consensus as the Santa question was closed by the community. I think I've specified the word adults elsewhere, but in any case, that's the spirit in which the notability rule was always understood. Feel free to open another discussion if you want to debate this further. – Sklivvz Jun 26 '14 at 21:49

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