Wikipedia talk:1.5 sources

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For what it's worth, I like the concept here somewhat, but the name is killing it for me. Primary and secondary sources have a well-determined meaning from years and pages of teaching about research. We ought not simply make up new terms. The sources described are, by any mainstream definition, secondary sources. Phil Sandifer (talk) 14:43, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

The problem back when I made up this term is that there are those that disagree on that point and under certain classifications are primary sources since they are by the creators who are not "separated" from the work. (that's not my view, but it is a valid view). If they were clearly secondary, then there would be little issue with their use to show notability but that was a big thing back then. I'm not thrilled with "1.5 sources" but that was the best term I could envision. --MASEM 15:26, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
I do not think that it is wise to kowtow to people who are insistent on misusing terms that have actual meaning. The sources are secondary. They may not be "independent," which is a separate issue, but they are secondary sources by any accepted measure. Phil Sandifer (talk) 15:40, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
No. No, they're not. Most, usual DVD commentary doesn't qualify as an actual secondary source, discussing and analysing the primary source. DVD commentary is mostly, but possibly not exclusively suitable as a primary source for the views expressed by the commenting person. That's where 1.5 comes in. Everyme 02:25, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Forgive me for bluntness here. You are wrong. A DVD commentary is a secondary source on the episode or film it comments upon. Period. It is a primary source for the views of the people talking, it's true, but it is a secondary source for the work of fiction itself. Period. There is no ambiguity here. This is black and white. I could give my students a quiz on identifying whether a source is primary or secondary, and if I called that secondary, nobody in my field would say I was wrong. Phil Sandifer (talk) 03:12, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Only problem is, you're not in your field here. And what you are completely missing is that we should always err on the side which helps with our horrible systemic bias and helps improve Wikipedia. Your insistence, however right in the ivory tower setting, is dead wrong --and harmful!-- in this non-academic playing field. In case you haven't noticed, professional rules do not apply here. Also, your definition of primary and secondary source were coined in and --in that strict form-- only apply to the world of academic, non-fiction publishing. Alsoalso, I happen to know a thing or two about media research and how murky waters get and how sloppy even some professors are (in their own publications!) when it comes to carefully discerning the who-said-what in discussing fiction and its meta discourse. Too many tend to neglect strict and clear qualification of their cited sources. Bottomline, this is indeed as clearcut as your making it out to be: You and your students happen to be dead wrong when you cite or accept as secondary source anything that was published as part of the respective franchise. Just no way, sorry. And similar applies to e.g. promotional interviews which took place as part of the artist's contract. Everyme 11:25, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Film and media studies isn't my field? My won't my dissertation committee be surprised. Your problem here is that you're treating "secondary source" as some magical warrant of quality about which no more needs to be said. No, one cannot treat a promotional interview or a DVD commentary as gospel. Yes, there are significant biases and other issues to work through in using them. But both are secondary sources. They simply are. You are wrong. What you are saying is nonsense.
Which leaves us with the question of whether Wikipedia should abandon the world of academic non-fiction publishing and create bold new standards for what is acceptable research. You clearly think we should. I think that is the stupidest viewpoint I have ever seen expressed in a debate about sourcing in Wikipedia. Phil Sandifer (talk) 14:56, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. With "not your field" I was obviously talking about the categorical difference between academic process and the wiki process. The latter is clearly not your field. I don't "argue we should" abandon the world of academic non-fiction publishing, I'm arguing that the wiki process is utterly incompatible with the academic process to begin with. People need to be taught and guided through the prerequisite steps of assessing sources. I'm worried about the encyclopedic standard, and I believe you're not really getting my point here. I'm worried about things like people citing some tie-in "encyclopedia" as a secondary source in AfDs. I'm worried about people writing up articles about fictional characters like biographies or articles about some plot device as historical accounts. That's what's actually happening. I'm trying to evaluate how best to improve the whole situation. And I'm convinced that arguing for the implementation and application of academic standards is so far detached from what people are actually doing on Wikipedia that it cannot help with the real issues. 1.5 is just a starting point, but we need more like that. Anything that actually helps improve the current mess of fiction- and popculture-related topics. Doesn't need to be 1.5 exactly, but it certainly cannot be academic process, that much should be clear to everybody concerned about Wikipedia's quality in that area. It's like telling children to follow adult rules. It just wouldn't work. It doesn't, it never has, and it never will. Everyme 15:28, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
The route of creating our own standards for legitimate research that are divorced from any comparable standards in an established research-based field - journalism, academia, whatever - is madness. Its end result is either a staggering act of hubris in which we declare that we have created a bold new form of research and a new direction for human inquiry, or it simply sells out all claim to quality and reliability that Wikipedia might have. Phil Sandifer (talk) 15:31, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
You gotta be kidding. Have you actually looked at our neat collection of pure in-universe plot summaries lately? Contrary to your belief, there's nothing to risk or lose here, but quite possibly something to win. Everyme 15:38, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm aware that we have bad articles. We ought clean them up. But I do not see why we require the invention of new standards for what good research is to do it. Phil Sandifer (talk) 15:41, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
You are talking about "invention of new standards". I call it trying to find ways to educate fellow Wikpedians. Everyme 15:42, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Educate them about what? This essay is wrong! It is factually untrue! I do not support educating fellow Wikipedians so as to teach them wrong things. Phil Sandifer (talk) 15:47, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

(outdent) Ok, then what is your alternative suggestion on how to improve the current situation? And by all means, I'm talking not about some lofty ideals but about the trenches. Everyme 15:51, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

What aspect of the current situation, specifically, are you looking to improve? Phil Sandifer (talk) 15:54, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Oh, now that you're asking... Nothing, actually. Our fiction-related articles are all fine and dandy. Nothing that couldn't be cured by knowing what's right and hoping for the best. Everyme 16:01, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

Arbitrary break[edit]

One of the problems with how WP defines primary vs secondary sources is that it is a mix of approaches. You may believe, by a strict academic approach, that DVD commentary is a secondary source, but if you read WP:PSTS, it could be considered as an "eyewitness recount of an event", a primary source. That's the problem here - per the WP guideline, the types of materials meant to be covered by this straddle that definition. Now, unless we want to change WP:PSTS (which is quite difficult), it makes sense to recognize that there are sources that some may feel are primary per PSTS, and some feel are secondary per PSTS, and thus identify them as that so that their definition stays consistent with WP:PSTS. That's all this is trying to do, establish that these are better than being a primary source alone, but may not carry as much weight as a secondary source in the minds of others, and thus editors need to be cautioned that relying a topic's notability on this "1.5 sources" only may be challenged in the future. --MASEM 15:21, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

Well, the real issue is that the Primary/Secondary distinction is made by claim. A DVD commentary is absolutely a secondary source for interpretive claims about a text, for claims of reception, for summary. It is more likely to be a primary source for information about production and authorial intent - but even there you need to thread the needle carefully and on a sentence by sentence basis, and deal specifically with the exact claim being made. For instance, on the DVD commentary to the film Boys Don't Cry, the director talks about how she framed a shot to resemble the color change shot in Wizard of Oz. Whether that is a primary or secondary source depends entirely on how one uses the fact.
Pierce intended the shot to resemble The Wizard of Oz: Primary
The shot resembles The Wizard of Oz: Secondary
Or, if we want to clean up the NPOV on the second one, "The shot has been compared by Pierce to the one from the Wizard of Oz." That's a secondary sourced claim - it treats the director as one of many possible perspectives on the meaning of the film, which is not only legitimate, but what would normally be expected. So it's a fine line to walk in the world of specifics. But in the general case, for more claims than not, a DVD commentary is a secondary source. Phil Sandifer (talk) 15:29, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
That's all covered by WP:ASF. "Pierce intended the shot to resemble The Wizard of Oz: Primary" is wrong. "The shot resembles The Wizard of Oz: Secondary" is wrong. "The shot has been compared by Pierce to the one from the Wizard of Oz" is correct, assuming the appropriate reference is provided and the statement truthfully reflects the source. Everyme 15:40, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
In which case the DVD commentary is a secondary source. Though I'd say that "Pierce intended the shot to resemble The Wizard of Oz" fits the bill as well, given that Pierce is the one saying it, so it's simply a summary of Pierce. The difference is that it uses the DVD commentary as a primary source, while the alternative formulation "Pierce compares the shot to the Wizard of Oz" - uses it as a secondary source.
But in any case, we seem to be in agreement that DVD commentaries, when used to interpret or describe the work of fiction, are secondary sources. Phil Sandifer (talk) 15:47, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Nice twist, but no, we're not. It's pretty much a primary source. You see, the franchise doesn't end at the film credits. But I gotta say, I'd like to see you introduce secondary sources for analysis of kayfabe in some random professional wrestling article. With a secondary source like, say, The Rock (or whoever is currently the champion there) providing critical external analysis like "I'm gonna smash your skull in, Undertaker" (or whoever etcpp). Everyme 15:59, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
The franchise might not end, at the credits, but the film certainly does. Again, it comes down to what claim you're making. The core issue, though, is that claims by the author are secondary sources for analysis and interpretation of a text.
I will assume your kayfabe question is meant sarcastically, given that the issue there is blindingly obvious. Phil Sandifer (talk) 16:04, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Blindingly obvious in that according to your approach, e.g. color commentary constitutes a secondary source? Everyme 16:06, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Blindingly obvious in that fiction is not fact. Phil Sandifer (talk) 16:33, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
It isn't?! Everyme 20:20, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Phil, you may be right from your area of expertise, but please read WP:PSTS, and understand there is a vagueness, intentional or not, that those that created the work, regardless of when they talk about it may be primary or secondary. These definitions are the ones we must work under, unless you think you can convince the consensus to change that. The fact that there is that vagueness is why it is necessary to call out this case of commentaries and interviews and caution that they could fit either and may be challenged. --MASEM 16:28, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
I think we're wholly clear here on PSTS. It says that "artistic and fictional works such as poems, scripts, screenplays, novels, motion pictures, and television programs" are primary sources. That clearly sets the bar at the work of fiction itself. And given that the section is sourced to University provided guidelines on primary sources, I can only assume that we are intended to expand on that using existing literature on primary sources. I see no evidence anywhere in PSTS that it is intended to replace the normal meanings of those terms, or that we are trying to create new definitions, and no evidence that the normal view of a DVD commentary as a secondary source is challenged anywhere in the policy. Where, exactly, do you see there as being ambiguity? Phil Sandifer (talk) 16:33, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

wrong way[edit]

Thanks for the idea, but no, this is not a good idea. There is subtlety in source typing that confuses people, true, but no, it is not a question of needing more slots. This concept is not nearly good enough to justify creating a new wikipedia-term that will serve to make wikipedia less accessible to newcomers. Please userfy this essay. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:23, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Well, to be fair, I don't support forced userfication. Phil Sandifer (talk) 03:08, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
"Less accessible to newcomers"? Bad news: Some basic intelligence and willingness to learn the ropes are prerequisites to participating in the project. Everyme 03:57, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Specific criticism of the essay[edit]

1.5 sources is an utterly unofficial but fairly useful working term coined by User:Masem.

Belongs in a footnote

It relates to the usage of sources, mostly in fiction-related articles, which cannot strictly be categorised as being either primary sources or secondary sources: interviews with key people, DVD commentary, etcpp.

Thoroughly disagree. Source typing can be subjective, and depends on usage. Given a particular source and its usage, I insist that I can categorise it.


In discussions surrounding fiction-related topics, it's often a matter of personal preference whether one sees such a source as a lesser, primary source which cannot provide any significant external context or whether one sees it as more of an independent, secondary source which can and should be used to add context and perspective.

This too me indicates partial misunderstandings of source types. Primary sources are not “lesser” source. Independent and secondary are very different things. If context and perspective is added, either the source is secondary (not necessarily independent) or the editor is synthesizing (which, let’s note, is not absolutely forbidden).

For such situations, 1.5 sources can serve as a neutral working term to start negotations from the middle-gound, common-sense vantage point that such source-related issues have to be decided on a case by case basis, and that it's mostly about the specific implementation of a source rather than any categorical judgements.

Not sure where this is leading. Is it to mean nothing more than that we can’t decide whether it is a primary source or a secondary source?

I believe this should be userfied because it is nothing more than a criticised opinion of a single editor. This is my opinion, I didn’t say forcibly. Possibly (alternatively) something can be made of it, but it will require a thorough beating and a rename. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:25, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

Let me iterate why I started using that term as it may shed light on the issue. Back last year when we were going through the first rewrites of FICT due to the changes at WP:N, we had iterated over several cases of fiction articles in regards to notability. One case that kept coming up was television episodes that only had commentary from their DVD to go off of. The general consensus is that the DVD commentary was not enough to establish notability of an episode article by itself but if combined with even just a single third-party secondary ref, that helped to establish the notability needed. People were hesitent to call them secondary sources because the fact that alone they would not serve to meet the notability guideline means we were already conflicting with that. Thus the creation of the 1.5 term, indicating they were better than primary sources, but not as strong as secondary.
However, thinking about this more, these probably can be stated, exactly, as "first-party secondary sources". They still fall under concerns of WP:SELFPUB (even though the creators of the DVD commentary aren't exactly publishing it, they aren't being edited or reviewed either, thus making their comments self-published), so there's still concerns of using these sources as the only evidence of notability (selfpub not necessarily equating to reliable). --MASEM 15:12, 5 November 2008 (UTC)