Submissions/How much is 12,000 ft: Verifiability vs Truth when dealing with units of measurement

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This is an Open submission for Wikimania 2017 that has not yet been reviewed by a member of the Programme Committee.

Submission no. 2092 - C7, L1
Title of the submission
How much is 12,000 ft: Verifiability vs Truth when dealing with units of measurement
Type of submission (lecture, panel, tutorial/workshop, roundtable discussion, lightning talk, poster, birds of a feather discussion)
Author of the submission
Łukasz Golowanow, pl:User:Airwolf
Language of presentation
E-mail address
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (up to 300 words to describe your proposal)

Verifiability is one of the core policies governing the content of Wikipedia. It is supplemented by the generally accepted consensus that verifiability trumps truth.

However, there are situations in which the source will be correct and wrong at the same time. One of these situations is when converted units of measurement are used. Take the 12,000 ft mentioned in the title and say that a US author states that Soviet Aircraft X suffered certain problems above 12,000 ft. Subsequently, the source is used as a source for the article describing Soviet Aircraft X on any Wikipedia fully utilizing the metric system. In the Soviet Union, the metric system was used as well. Therefore, the ‘12,000 ft’ is already a converted number and, on top of that, almost certainly rounded.

What should the Wikipedian do? Should they retain the feet in an article written in a ‘metric language’ about a ‘metric topic’? Should they convert the 12,000 ft into meters? That’s exactly 3,656 meters and logic dictates that the number is incorrect (too precise to be feasible). Should they try to guess what the original number was? 3,600 meters? 3,700? Or 3,500 perhaps? Should the source be rejected as unusable?

This is the aircraft in question; the submission stems from an actual discussion within pl.wikipedia

Using my experiences in two fields—as a Wikipedian and as a professional translator of non-fiction—I will present the pros and cons of these and other options of dealing with a problem which, in my opinion, is under-appreciated. In fact, it touches upon the very essence of Wikipedia and as such should be considered in a more thorough way.

What will attendees take away from this session?

I see my presentation as a small seed for a larger, overarching discussion regarding verifiability. Therefore, the lecture is intended to create an additional level of understanding within our international community of issues described above and, hopefully, in the long term it will lead to conclusions on how to tackle the problem.

Theme of presentation
WikiCulture & Community
For workshops and discussions, what level is the intended audience?
Length of session (if other than 25 minutes, specify how long)
15 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)

I will, if granted a scholarship by WMPL

Special requests
Is this Submission a Draft or Final?

This is a Completed submission for Wikimania 2017 ready to be reviewed by a member of the Programme Committee.

Interested attendees

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  1. Amir É. Aharoni (talk) 11:25, 11 April 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Jamie Tubers (talk) 03:24, 12 April 2017 (UTC)[reply]