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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. (I happen to believe this, by the way.) 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. --JimboWales

Of course, I agree. For more in the same vein, see [Nupedia's policy statement], Part III, Section D ("Lack of Bias"). -- LarrySanger

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Last edited February 17, 2001 5:38 am by LarrySanger (diff)