Wikiprove:About

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What is Wikiprove?

Wikiprove’s mission is truth in politics.

We take political speeches, debates, Q&As, etc. and put transcripts online. We then invite the web public to footnote those transcripts.

This is what makes Wikiprove unique: no other factchecking site gets the public involved. Wikiprove harnesses the power of the web in the service of political truth. Our motto is: "Prove it."

How does it work?

Footnoting is a three-step process:

  1. Wikiprove editors work through a transcript putting "Prove" tags beside every specific factual claim and "Probe" tags before any sustained statement.
  2. The web public then writes up Wikipedia-style articles — with links to primary and secondary sources — for each of those "Prove" and "Probe" tags, verifying the claim or statement in question.
  3. Wikiprove editors then follow up on every article to make sure the sources are legitimate and publicly available. Where an article has decisively shown a claim or statement to be untrue -- either false, misleading, BS, or inconsistent (terms defined below) — Wikiprove editors mark out the claim or statement in the transcript. Red font indicates a false claim. Green font indicates a misleading claim. Purple font indicates a BS claim. Underlining indicates an inconsistent claim.

Wikiprove editors also calculate a speaker’s “Kleinfeld Score” (see below).

What is an “untruth”?

An “untruth” is any statement or claim of fact that falls short of the standard sworn witnesses must meet: “Do you solemnly swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”

We sort untruths into four categories:

  1. False. These are specific claims of fact directly contradicted by the bulk of reliable information. We indicate falsehoods with red font.
  2. Misleading. These are specific claims of fact so partial or exaggerated as to give rise to a false impression in the mind of a reasonable listener. We indicate misleading claims with green font.
  3. BS. For Wikiprove purposes, BS only arises in a Q&A context, such as a debate. Where a question calls for specific claims of fact and the speaker responds non-factually — e.g., with statements of value, policy, or interpretation, or with minimal or irrelevant facts — the answer is BS. We indicate BS with purple font.
  4. Inconsistent. These are claims of any kind — fact, value, policy, etc. — that contradict other claims that the speaker has asserted previously. We indicate inconsistencies with underlining.

Exception: It’s not dishonest to change one’s mind. Therefore, when a speaker admits or has previously admitted that he or she once held a different view, Wikiprove will not underline the statement or otherwise mark it out as inconsistent.

Note: Wikiprove does not mark any statements as lies. A lie is an intentionally or knowingly false statement, and we do not guess at what is in a speaker’s mind.

Why "Prove" and "Probe" tags?

"Prove" tags give the web public an opportunity to examine specific claims of fact to determine whether they are false or misleading.

"Probe" tags give the web public an opportunity to examine sustained political statements — including not only specific claims of fact, but also value statements, policy statements, etc. — to determine whether they are BS or inconsistent.

Note: Only specific claims of fact get "Prove" tags — not positions or interpretations. For example, the claim, “The New York Stock Exchange is good for America,” is a position and would not get a "Prove" tag. The claim, “The New York Stock Exchange is an engine of American prosperity,” is an interpretation and would not get a "Prove" tag. The claim, “The New York Stock Exchange generates half of America's GDP,” is a specific factual claim and would get a "Prove" tag.

What is the “Kleinfeld Score”?

The Kleinfeld Score is a numerical score that measures a political figure’s honesty. You calculate it by dividing a political speaker's number of truthful Wikiproved claims and statements (i.e., claims and statements found not to be false, misleading, BS, or inconsistent) by his or her total number of Wikiproved claims and statements.

The result indicates the percentage of time that the political figure speaks honestly.

For example, if a politician gives a speech containing 10 specific factual claims, 4 of which turn out to be untrue, that speech gets a 6/10. If the politician later gives a speech with 2 out of 12 untruths, that speech gets a 10/12. That politician's Kleinfeld Score is the sum of all his or her statements that have been Wikiproved: 16/22 or 73%.

The Kleinfeld Score is named for Wikiprove’s founder and director, Joshua Kleinfeld, an assistant professor of law at Northwestern University: http://www.law.northwestern.edu/faculty/profiles/Joshua%20SethKleinfeld.

What about close calls?

There are inevitably close calls when determining whether a claim or statement is false, misleading, BS, or inconsistent. Wikiprove editors apply standards derived from a long tradition of work about the nature of truth in the fields of law and philosophy.

Most important, everything on Wikiprove is open to the public. So you can make your own judgments about our judgments. You can also make your voice heard by clicking on the "Discuss" link at the bottom of every transcript and voicing your views.

How do I start factchecking?

Click Factcheck a Claim.

How do I become a Wikiprove editor?

Click Become an Editor.

How do I contact Wikiprove?

Write Wikiprove's editorial team at wikiprove@wikiprove.org.

What does the future hold for Wikiprove?

For now, we are focusing on the 2012 presidential election.

In the long-run, we hope to make all statements by political figures or organizations, wherever and whenever made, subject to factchecking. Anyone will be able to upload a transcript, and anyone will be able to check the claims in it. Our goal is to be a weapon in the service of political truth throughout the world.

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