Wikipedia talk:Identifying reliable sources

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Where should I ask whether this source supports this statement in an article?
At Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard. Don't forget to tell the editors the full name of the source and the exact sentence it is supposed to support.
Do sources have to be free, online and/or conveniently available to me?
No. Sources can be expensive, print-only, or available only in certain places. A source does not stop being reliable simply because you personally aren't able to obtain a copy. See Wikipedia:Reliable sources/cost. If you need help verifying that a source supports the material in the article, ask for help at Wikipedia:WikiProject Resource Exchange or a relevant WikiProject.
Do sources have to be in English?
No. Sources can be written in any language. However, if equally good sources in English exist, they will be more useful to our readers. If you need help verifying that a non-English source supports the material in the article, ask for help at Wikipedia:Translators available.
I personally know that this information is true. Isn't that good enough to include it?
No. Wikipedia includes only what is verifiable, not what someone believes is true. It must be possible to provide a bibliographic citation to a published reliable source that says this. Your personal knowledge or belief is not enough.
I personally know that this information is false. Isn't that good enough to remove it?
Your personal belief or knowledge that the information is false is not sufficient for removal of verifiable and well-sourced material.
Is personal communication from an expert a reliable source?
No. It is not good enough for you to talk to an expert in person or by telephone, or to have a written letter, e-mail message, or text message from a source. Reliable sources must be published.
Are there sources that are "always reliable" or sources that are "always unreliable"?
No. The reliability of a source is entirely dependent on the context of the situation, and the statement it is being used to support. Some sources are generally better than others, but reliability is always contextual.
What if the source is biased?
Sources are allowed to be biased or non-neutral. Only Wikipedia articles are required to be neutral. Sometimes "non-neutral" sources are the best possible sources for supporting information about the different viewpoints held on a subject.
Does every single sentence need to be followed by an inline citation?
No. Only four broad categories of material need to be supported by inline citations. Editors need not supply citations for perfectly obvious material. However, it must be possible to provide a bibliographic citation to a published reliable source for all material.
Are reliable sources required to name the author?
No. Many reliable sources, such as government and corporate websites, do not name their authors or say only that it was written by staff writers. Although many high-quality sources do name the author, this is not a requirement.
Are reliable sources required to provide a list of references?
No. Wikipedia editors should list any required sources in a references or notes section. However, the sources you are using to write the Wikipedia article do not need to provide a bibliography. Most reliable sources, such as newspaper and magazine articles, do not provide a bibliography.


There is consensus against adopting this wording. --ThaddeusB (talk) 19:35, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I broached this topic at the talk page for RS/N but the primary discussion should clearly be here, as the discussion now in Archive46 makes clear.

Should the following be placed in this policy:

Headlines of news articles are not intrinsically part of news articles, but should be treated separately as sources rather than being used for claims cited to the news article. Collect (talk) 14:12, 1 November 2014 (UTC)


I think this is in conformance with the discussion held previously, noting that headlines are not generally written by the authors of news articles, and may misrepresent the actual claims which the full article might support. Collect (talk) 14:12, 1 November 2014 (UTC)

  • No. We can't claim that it is always the case that headlines are written by a different author, and even if they were, it is the publisher who is ultimately responsible for headlines. The reliability of a source is not based just on the author, but on the publication as a whole. (Some sources don't event cite authors, such as in The Economist and others) - Cwobeel (talk) 15:24, 1 November 2014 (UTC)
    • Did you read the prior discussion wherein it was shown that 1. headlines are written to gain attention, and are not considered to be part of articles by journalism texts, 2. where it was shown that they frequently do not accord with statements in the article 3. are generally written by headline writers who are not fact-checked etc.? Cheers. Collect (talk) 11:54, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
  • The problem with headlines is that they can be taken out of context. Citing a headline is similar to cherry picking one sentence from a news article and ignoring what the rest of the article says. So... I would oppose treating the headline as a separate source. They must be considered in the context of the publication as a whole. Blueboar (talk) 14:00, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
    Um -- as they can (and often are) "taken out of context" (i.e. the claim in the headline does not necessarily match what the article actually says) why not support this mild wording pointing this out? It does not ban headlines from being cited, only states the obvious fact that the headline and the article are not a single cohesive and precisely equivalently fact-checked unit. Collect (talk) 14:33, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
    Because the proposed wording does not actually point out what the real problem is. That may have been your intent... but if so, you did not achieve your goal. I think the proposed wording would actually encourage editors to cherry pick sensational headlines and take them out of context (when we should be discouraging that practice). I can see POV pushers pointing to your wording and saying "But I'm not citing the article as a whole... I am citing just the headline... which is a separate source!" Blueboar (talk) 14:57, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Question What problem is this trying to solve? Can you point to a concrete example of where this is an issue? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 15:34, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
  • No. A reliable source is reliable not by virtue of being written by a single author but by virtue of being published by an organisation that has a well-deserved reputation for publishing true/accurate information. It's the organisation that matters, not the author. The fact that the author of the article and the composer of the headline might be two different people has nothing to do with anything. A publisher that stands behind an article will likewise stand behind a headline. Nomoskedasticity (talk) 16:53, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
    Actually, according to the guideline, both publisher and author affect reliability. Blueboar (talk) 17:12, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose again. The sentence makes a claim of fact ("Headlines of news articles are not intrinsically part of news articles") that cannot be substantiated in any reliable source. In fact, putting headline is the most important part of an article into your favorite web search engine should give you an idea of how many people (especially marketing professionals) believe exactly the opposite—that the headline is not only part of the article, but actually the most important part. If Collect wanted to write something like, "At larger news outlets, the headlines are often written by someone other than the journalist, and that person, far too often, doesn't know anything about the subject except what he just read", then I doubt that many (non-editor) journalist would disagree very strongly. But lets not make claims of facts that are objectively wrong: The headline is part of the article, even if it happened to be written by someone else. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:54, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
    From the prior discussion read [1], and note that journalism texts uniformly point out the problems with headlines. [2] has "Newspaper headlines are difficult and costly to write and often dangerous to publish. Headlines can mislead readers and sometimes hurt feelings and provoke lawsuits." "Randall Hines and Jerry Hilliard, in a study of editorial quality, examined the extent to which Tennessee newspapers observed established guidelines for writing headlines. They learned that dailies failed to observe traditional guidelines about 30 percent of the time and non-dailies about 40 percent.(5) Theodore E. Conover, in his book on graphics, condemned headlines claiming that "The traditional headline form is difficult to write and often it is necessary to use inaccurate or inappropriate words because of the rigid unit count."(6) ." "Headlines are error prone. In a 1964 study of inaccuracies in one week's issue of the Gainesville (Florida) Sun it was shown that headlines contained incorrect facts (42 percent of errors) and distortion and exaggeration (34 percent of errors).(7) ." " Headlines and leads are too often misleading. F.T. Marquez studied headline accuracy by comparing headline and story content. He found that 25 percent of headlines in a sample of 292 stories were misleading or ambiguous.(12) In a telephone survey by Edward Smith and Gilbert Fowler, 237 respondents were read 10 headlines and asked to describe what they thought the story was about. The respondents either failed to receive a message from the headline or got an incorrect message 42 percent of the time.(13)." "John Merrill and Ralph Lowenstein, in listing propaganda techniques they say are sometimes used in the media, claim that "So many headlines are twisted, biased, distorted, and otherwise rigged, that one is led to believe that headlines bear about as much resemblance to their stories as the stories; bear to the reality they purport to report."(17) Other Editor & Publisher articles show how accurate grabber headlines can mislead readers,(18) how headline puns mislead(19) and how headline sports jargon "... can detract from the readability and the meaning of what we are trying to communicate."(20) ." "Steve Pasternack summarized the problem saying "... a moderately sized headline can significantly damage a reputation, regardless of what the article states."(25) ." [3] " A study by Gilbert Cranberg found that of 680 stories, 128 of them (just under 19%) had inaccurate headlines or contained errors evidently introduced during editing." [4] "Factual errors also tended to be substantive: misquotations, incorrect numbers, and inaccurate or misleading headlines were among the most commonly cited mistakes." [5] "The Times has also been afflicted with the bane of all newspapers - headlines that didn't match news stories. That failing served as the basis for 8 percent of the Notes. For instance, a Times copy editor in 1997 was attempting to write a headline to match a story about America's leading colleges and universities defending their use of affirmative action in their admissions and came up with: "62 Top Colleges Endorse Bias in Admissions." It took the Times only one day to admit that "`bias,' as a term for affirmative action, was neither impartial nor accurate. It should not have appeared."(15) In 1990 the Times reported about a book by a KGB defector who said that Harry L. Hopkins, the confidant of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was an unwitting agent of major significance for the Soviet Union, but that role, the Times said in a subsequent Editors' Note, did not justify the headline: "Roosevelt Aide Called an Unwitting Spy."(16) " etc. Cheers. Collect (talk) 23:58, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
    Sure, there are problems galore with headlines. But none of that said anything like "Headlines are not part of the article", which is what you have actually proposed to put in the guideline. If you want to put "Headlines are not part of the article" in the guideline, then you need to dig up some reliable sources that say "Headlines are not part of the article". NB that "Headlines are not part of the article" is not the same thing as "Headlines are frequently misleading, erroneous, biased, twisted, distorted, incorrect, inaccurate, and otherwise just plain bad". WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:03, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment I'd suggest something along the lines of "Avoid using news article headlines as sources as they are generally not reliable." A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 00:16, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
  • How about "Headlines may sometimes be simplistic or even misleading, and should not be used for contentious statements not otherwise supported by the article in question"? AndyTheGrump (talk) 00:25, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
    That would work for me. It has the advantage of being accurate and even verifiable, which makes it a significant improvement over "Headlines are not part of the article". WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:03, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
  • No to the RFC's proposed wording. Collect is making a dog's breakfast of this again. The last time this came up, there was general agreement that headlines should generally be looked at with extreme caution and generally avoided as sources for fact, as they are often loose summaries of the material they are attached to. The fact that they are sometimes written by other journalists has absolutely nothing to do with anything, and is a pointless avenue of discussion. I still think something like this says all there has to be said about general avoidance of headlines: Newspaper headlines should be used with care, and only where they are directly supported by the text of the associated article. Avoid including content found only in a newspaper's headlines and not in the associated article bodies. __ E L A Q U E A T E 01:41, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose per WP:GROUNDHOGDAY and WP:OTHERPARENT. We just had a long discussion about headlines as reliable sources. The conclusion was that "headlines should, at the very least, be treated cautiously and taken 'with a pinch of salt'" but that "there is not a consensus for any sort of outright prohibition on the use of headlines as sources". What has changed since then? How does this current proposal build on that recent consensus? I can't see that it does, in any way. It looks more like Collect trying for a do-over while failing to mention the prior, recent consensus discussion. In any case, as others have pointed out, the categorical claim idea that headlines are "not intrinsically part of news articles" is dubious, if not an outright falsehood, and thus shouldn't be written into policy. MastCell Talk 05:09, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose Thus line seems to make little sense at least if the intent is to point out that headline alone without the context of its associated article may not be reliable source. This is because it just suggest a separation without really spelling out its consequences. If however the intent is to establish a headline as separate (reliable) source without the context of the associated article, then that is a complete no-go as it essentially boils down to cherry picking lines out of context, which is an inappropriate handling of sources. In short the suggested either misses its intent or its intent is completely unacceptable.--Kmhkmh (talk) 13:05, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose as too weak. Can anyone point to an example where citation of an article headline, rather than the body of the article, led to an improvement of Wikipedia? (I exclude the case of famous headlines that are themselves the topic of discussion.) I've been here for 12 years and I can't think of an example. Headlines are poison; why would anyone want to allow them as sources at all? Zerotalk 00:59, 10 November 2014 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

New Proposal

There is some support for saying something about headlines, but not enough to constitute consensus at this time, and certainly not enough to justify any particular worded offered --ThaddeusB (talk) 19:35, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Headlines should not be used for contentious statements not otherwise supported by the article in question.
Avoiding any statement of reasoning, and using suggestions made here about the wording. Collect (talk) 23:00, 5 November 2014 (UTC)
  • If we write something like this into policy, there will be endless wikilawyering about what constitutes a "contentious" statement, and what level of "support" is required in the article body. Before we go down that road, can you supply some concrete examples of the problem this language is intended to remedy? Do we have a pattern of editors misusing headlines? If so, please present some evidence of it (in the form of diffs and/or links). We are spending an inordinate amount of time on this, and we've probably already passed the dead-horse threshold, so I think it's fair to ask why. MastCell Talk 06:26, 6 November 2014 (UTC)
    I agree about the problem with "contentious" but I disagree that there is no problem to solve. As a veteran of the Israel-Palestine section (want to see my scars?) I can tell you that it is a regular event for someone who can't actually read an article (due to a paywall for example) to cite it anyway on the basis of the headline. This practice so often leads to a misleading claim about the source that outlawing it altogether would be a big improvement. In the newspaper business, headlines are not part of articles and are frequently written by a person not involved in the writing of the article or the investigation leading to it. Even worse, headlines are often deliberately "cute" and many sub-editors prefer a good pun over precision. I would ask "what is the advantage to Wikipedia of allowing headlines to be used as sources at all?" Zerotalk 00:50, 10 November 2014 (UTC)
    Zero, I'd be happy to see some reliable source that says news heads aren't part of the story. I spent more than an hour looking for such sources, and I came up with zero. (NB that "written by someone else" and "not part of the article" are not the same thing. I want a reliable source that actually says "not part of the article".)
    The solution to the conflicts you mention is for someone (not necessarily the person who added it) to get a copy of said sources and find out what they say, rather than assuming that they're wrong. It is tolerably rare to see a head that says "Alice won the election" followed by a story that does not support it. We could even get organized enough to ask our editors who live in those areas to help us find these sources. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:05, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
    No, it is the same thing, at least to the extent that matters for us. The reason why we consider newspaper articles to be reliable is that they are written by trained journalists who have investigated the facts behind the story. After the story is written by a journalist, it is passed to the editorial staff who do extra things that include writing a headline. (That process is really easy to source; I assume you don't dispute it.) So the headline does not share the properties that cause us to consider the story reliable. Now, consider your example: headline says "Alice won", body says "Alice didn't win". Would you support an editor who cited the headline for the wikipedia text "Alice won"? If you wouldn't, then you agree with me. Zerotalk 07:53, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
    These problems are already covered by the existing guideline. A newspaper whose headlines don't line up with its articles is not a reliable source, because it lacks good editorial oversight. Likewise, an editor who cites an article without reading it is violating our basic behavioral expectations—we don't need to rewrite guidelines to deal with that (I'm also curious to see links to the situation you're referring to; while I don't question your honesty, I've learnt from experience not to take on faith any allegation made by disputants in the Israeli-Palestinian arena without seeing the evidence). Be that as it may, the situations you describe are already covered and do not require us to rewrite our guidelines. MastCell Talk 17:05, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
    Passing comment in case anyone ever reads this, perhaps years later: The reason why we consider newspaper articles to be reliable is that they are fact-checked by the very same editor whom you accuse of being unable to write a passably accurate headline. Check out the guideline: "written by a trained journalist" is mentioned nowhere in it. "Fact-checked" (i.e., by someone other than your "trained journalist") and "subject to editorial control" permeates the guideline. WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:00, 22 November 2014 (UTC)
  • What about: Take care not to cite headlines out of context with the rest of the article that follows them... or similar wording. Blueboar (talk) 14:26, 6 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Wikilawyering about the word "contentious" can be avoided by deleting the word "contentious". If a statement isn't in the body of an article, it isn't in the article. Contentiousness is a red herring. So, to be precise:
    Headlines should not be used for statements not otherwise supported by the article in question. Zerotalk 01:05, 10 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose As best as I can tell, this appears to be a solution in search of a problem.[6] A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 01:28, 10 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Well I don't know if its a solution in search of a problem. And to the extent it is it's reasonable to not clutter up our rules. But AFAIK it is true that headlines are written by the editor (or the copyeditor) and not the reporter, as a rule, unless the news business has changed recently. That's the editors job. The reporter's job is to report the story. The headline-writer's job is to summarize it in the headline, and according to certain rules for headlines that the publication uses. Different people. And you do get some howlers and misrepresentations. I certainly would say that headlines aren't reliable sources for statements of fact BY THEMSELVES. If the material is not also in the body text, you certainly can't cite the headline. If people are doing that they should stop! If we need a rule to make them stop, then fine, otherwise common sense should prevail: use the body text only. Would it possible to just insert "body text" somewhere instead of adding a whole clause? How about changing "the piece of work itself (the article, book);" to "the body text of the work itself (the article, book);"? Or something? Herostratus (talk) 01:03, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Support - Common sense, really, for anyone who has read many articles at all and would notice that headlines often are misleading. Not sure why this is controversial. DreamGuy (talk) 04:55, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
    • Again, if a newspaper is in the habit of publishing misleading or deceptive headlines, then it is not a reliable source. I have yet to see anyone provide an example of where this has been an actual problem, which makes me wonder why so much effort is being expended to push this "solution". Recall that this is at least the third attempt to write this material into the guideline, the last two having been shot down by consensus as unwieldy or needless. MastCell Talk 17:08, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
How about WP:Reliable sources that used headlines about Jodie Foster being gay or lesbian, even though, as the sources show below those headlines, Jodie Foster never publicly stated that she is gay or lesbian? It's the same for Amber Heard and others. Headlines often are misleading or otherwise inaccurate, and this is the case for WP:Reliable sources, as well as poor sources. Flyer22 (talk) 17:23, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
Arguable. Generally, a headline is a summary (eg., when a female says she "came out" and introduces the woman she shares her life and children with - its summarized), so then the issue is, is it reasonable summary, and some outlets may be better or not better at that. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:48, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
Arguable indeed, and problematic, as Talk:Jodie Foster/Archive 3, Talk:Jodie Foster/Archive 4, Talk:Jodie Foster/Archive 5 and the current talk page of that article show. And as the Amber Heard talk page debates show, WP:Reliable sources simply assumed that she is lesbian, and used headlines describing her as such, even though her coming out speech did not use such language, and we now know that she has dated men, is open to dating men, and would rather not label herself with a sexual orientation (publicly at least). Flyer22 (talk) 18:01, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
Wait a minute—this is not a "headline" problem, since most of the sources cited in the Foster and Heard biographies describe them as "gay"/"lesbian" in both the headline and the article body (e.g. [7], [8], etc). So while I agree with you that we should exercise more care in dealing with sensitive matters like the sexual orientation of living people, the proposed change to this guideline would be totally irrelevant to the problem you've described. MastCell Talk 18:29, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
In your "18:29, 12 November 2014 (UTC)" post above, you stated "most of the sources." As you know, "most" is not "all." I'm not even sure that "most" applies in this case, since many sources simply state "comes out" to play it on the safe side regarding Foster; this seems to be because there was a lot of debate regarding her coming out speech. But either way, some of the WP:Reliable sources that reported on the aforementioned Jodie Foster and Amber Heard cases reported them as gay or lesbian in the headline only, while then talking about their coming out speeches, acknowledging or showing that these women did not state that they are gay or lesbian; these sources show their coming out speeches in full, in part, either by text or video, or both. Take, for example, this The Seattle Times source (reporting what the Associated Press stated); it uses the heading "Foster reveals she's gay, suggests she's retiring," and then, immediately under that, states, "Jodie Foster came out without really coming out." That is currently the first source used in the Personal life section of the Jodie Foster article for the coming out material. Take, for example, this The Advocate source, this Us Weekly source and this NDTV source regarding Heard. Many sources were like that for Heard. This ABC News states in its heading "Amber Heard Latest to Come Out in Hollywood," but, as this Google search page currently shows, that heading used to state "Amber Heard, Latest Star to Come Out as a Lesbian in Hollywood"; this means that the source changed its heading, likely after Heard talked about dating men and not wanting to label her sexual orientation. And this CBS source about Heard, which is currently in her Wikipedia article, is like a double heading matter to me, rather than a heading and body matter. Flyer22 (talk) 19:23, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
This is exactly my point. Unless you're proposing that we also rewrite policy to exclude the use of "double headings", the proposed change won't fix the problem you're describing. On the other hand, it will open up a huge can of wikilawyering about what constitutes a "headline", and what constitutes "adequate support" for a headline in the article body. MastCell Talk 20:00, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
  • I would support Colin's wording above, as a very succinct indication of the problem. Personally, I would go further in specifying the unreliability of headlines, but at least this makes the general situation clear and offers a specific guideline for the most problematic cases. It was mentioned above that sources with unreliable headlines are unreliable sources; while true, even for reliable sources the headlines are very apt to reflect a matter of opinion more than the article text: after all, their purpose is to attract attention. DGG ( talk ) 00:33, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
    • I'd almost certainly support Colin's wording too, since Colin is a remarkably astute and thoughtful editor. But I don't see that Colin (talk · contribs) has contributed to this discussion. I assume you're intending to support Collect's wording? I have yet to see anyone provide evidence that this is a problem worth rewriting our guidelines to address, and I am concerned that this proposed change will impose a heavy burden of wikilawyering on the rest of us. MastCell Talk 20:00, 14 November 2014 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

WP editors calling assertions by RSs into doubt[edit]

@Blueboar: suggeested n a section above, "We [meaning WP editors] may have grounds to question the reliability of [a cited acknowledged RS in relation to the topic] (for this specific sentence)." That, I believe, would be original research -- using material—such as facts, allegations, and ideas—for which no reliable, published sources have been offered in order to challenge a particular assertion by a cited RS. WP:DUE describes how assertions by other sources which are contrary to or which would bring into doubt assertions by a cited RS should be handled (my characterization of that for purposes here).

WP editors are not reliable sources. WP editors are probably among the most unreliable of unreliable sources. Opinions/POVs/judgements by WP editors about individual assertions made by sources considered reliable for a topic do not in themselves hold any weight whatever in impugning the reliability of those individual assertions by sources considered reliable for a topic. Contrary opinions/POVs/judgements expressed by other sources also considered reliable for the topic do have weight, and should be given due weight. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 22:05, 10 November 2014 (UTC)

Of course any editor can question whether any source is reliable for a particular statement, regardless of whether it's generally found reliable for other things. There's nothing wrong with Blueboar expressing doubt about whether a source is reliable for a certain statement; it's a requirement for all editors to make assessments like these, constantly, in discussion or alone. Characterizing editors weighing reliability as OR is wrong-headed. It's required to edit in the first place.

Now if you're saying editors (within consensus) can't determine who we judge to be a reliable source for a particular claim, then who would? Who then decides what reliable sources are reliable enough to decide what other sources are reliable? Should we add nested levels of citations for the sources of the citations themselves (as The New York Times found to be reliable by Professor Wimperschnootz who is vouched for by Professor McDeedee who we heard is good from...)? This is rabbit-hole silliness. Editors (within consensus) are always ultimately going to be the ones who decide if any single particular source should be considered reliable enough for any particular claim. There's no way around it. As we aren't infallible, we add citations so that readers have the ability to check what we're basing our editorial choices on. Editors aren't reliable for article material, but we are the only ones available to judge what sources we consider reliable enough to repeat in a context (in negotiated consensus with each other, of course). __ E L A Q U E A T E 23:02, 10 November 2014 (UTC)

Shorter: No source is blanket considered reliable for every claim it could possibly make. Assessing whether a particular source could be considered reliable for specific individual claims is routine editing, regardless of whether the source was considered reliable for other things.__ E L A Q U E A T E 23:19, 10 November 2014 (UTC)


Here is a report of a peer-reviewed (and presumably copy-edited) journal article where the phrase "(Should we cite the crappy Gabor paper here?)" was included in the finished work. The journal was Ethology.

I guess my point is there is peer review and then there is peer review, and there's probably a bigger drop in reliability from The New England Journal of Medicine and The University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople Review of Multidisciplinary Ethnic Studies then there is from The University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople Review of Multidisciplinary Ethnic Studies and your Uncle Dwight's grocery list.

I'm not sure if we ought to change

When available, academic and peer-reviewed publications, scholarly monographs, and textbooks are usually the most reliable sources. However, some scholarly material may be outdated, in competition with alternative theories, or controversial within the relevant field.


When available, respected academic and peer-reviewed publications, scholarly monographs, and textbooks are usually the most reliable sources. However, some scholarly material may be outdated, in competition with alternative theories, controversial within the relevant field, or of indifferent quality.

but maybe. Herostratus (talk) 01:19, 12 November 2014 (UTC)

I wonder what someone like User:MastCell or User:Colin would make of that. With their work on MEDRS over the years, I suspect that they've seen just about everything.
My initial thought is that "respected" would be loved by a certain class of POV pushers, and that "of indifferent quality" is nothing more than the truth (but is it a truth we want to acknowledge here?). WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:11, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
All journals are going to have occasional editorial collapses. If they're rare they don't usually affect overall reputation and level of "respect". The journal in your example is going to have about the same amount of academic respectability next month as it did last month, despite their blooper. It is a reminder that RS aren't somehow infallible, but that's true whether it's New England or North Dakota. Changing the guidance would change nothing of substance here, and might cloud the original points. __ E L A Q U E A T E 02:41, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
Hah. Since I was pinged, here are my thoughts, in no particular order. I think it's fairly common to scatter commentary like this throughout a manuscript when one is drafting it. I certainly do it, as a way of communicating informally with coauthors who aren't physically on-site. Of course, I also go through and remove those comments before submitting a manuscript, in order to avoid embarrassment. At the same time, as the Slate article correctly notes, most quality journals employ editors and proofreaders who work on a manuscript after it has been accepted for publication, and tidy it up (in particular, references often need to be converted to the "house" format; grammatical errors need to be fixed, especially when the primary author is not a native English speaker; and tables and figures often need to be touched up). I suppose smaller journals, like Ethology, don't splurge on proofreading staff. I guess I would hope that, as a matter of simple common sense, we don't treat Etholgy as equivalent to Science or NEJM. If we do, then all the policy-tweaking on Earth won't save us. And finally, my favorite example is from the Slate article: "RESULTS: In this study, we have used (insert statistical method here) to compile unique DNA methylation signatures..." That's the most honest description of statistical methods I've read in an omics study in quite some time. MastCell Talk 04:55, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
It's an isolated gaffe. It doesn't discredit Ethology in a fundamental way. This particular one has gotten attention because it's funny, but the NEJM also issues corrections for its typos and omissions. "Reliable source" does not mean "has never made a public error", it means they have a reputation for only rarely making mistakes, and admitting and correcting when they make them. __ E L A Q U E A T E 17:51, 12 November 2014 (UTC)

"relatively reliable"[edit]

There is no such thing as a completely reliable source and, unless the source is really trying, there is no such thing as a completely unreliable source.

The text of the project page currently begins, "Wikipedia articles should be based on reliable, published sources"

I think more accuracy would be achieved if it began with something like, "Wikipedia articles should be based on published sources that are considered to be relatively reliable".

Suggestions of wording would be appreciates but top sources may get things and there is always the potential that other sources, perhaps backed with video or other evidence, may provide good usable information. Sources should not necessarily be polarised between good and bad and the accuracy and reliability of materials may depend on the individual researcher/reporter/writer/editing staff involved. Gregkaye 18:09, 12 November 2014 (UTC)

What you say is true, and I've said so in many comments here over the years. Unfortunately, it is not easy finding a fully satisfactory way to specify this. "relatively" reliable is not really an unambiguous concept-- it can mean either As compared to The Truth, or As compared to other sources. Further, sources are typically of different degrees of reliability for different types of information, even in the same reference. A bio on an official source connected with the subject is very likely to be accurate about the birthplace and date, and considerably less so about the person's importance. The standards for reliability also vary, particularly with respect to BLPs, and even more particularly with respect to negative information in BLPs. The same researcher or writer will be more accurate in some places than others; for example, academic historians will be more authoritatively reliable in their specialty than in making broad generalizations in general works. There are many other qualifying factors, and how to say this right will take some discussion. The present wording "Contextual" is in my opinion a reasonable way to say it, but we shouldindeed go into more detail. DGG ( talk ) 00:23, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
You could try something like, "Wikipedia articles should be based on published sources that are reliable for the content they're being cited for." WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:04, 22 November 2014 (UTC)
The problem with that is that it opens up a whole can of worms - "that source isn't reliable, because it is wrong". Now sometimes that is a legitimate argument (e.g. when a source makes an obvious error), but often it is used when a source doesn't concur with the TRUTHTM being pushed by a POV-warrior. I suspect that what we really want in sources is that they are expected to be reliable, unless there is strong evidence to the contrary. So for example we expect an academic historian specialising in the English Civil War to know when the Battle of Naseby was fought, and accordingly we cite him or her on trust for the date of the battle, lacking other evidence. AndyTheGrump (talk) 06:36, 22 November 2014 (UTC)

An RfC on industry websites the management of which are outsourced to web development and PR firms[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere

Please see Talk:Aspromonte goat#RFC on Italian dairy & farming industry sources for a discussion of whether a website produced by an industry consortium and managed by an Internet publishing/marketing firm, is a presumptively reliable or unreliable primary source for (non-promotional) information. This could have broad implications, because outsourcing of online publication is increasing, not decreasing, as more and more companies see no point in having an on-staff webmaster when firms provide these services on a contractual basis with entire teams of people, with many collective years of experience, and the cost of whom are shared across numerous clients.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  19:56, 21 November 2014 (UTC)

A mining industry consultant who claimed no direct ties to Imperial Metals did industry-oriented edits/POV deletions on Mount Polley mine disaster but he's a member of the mining association and works as a consultant in the field, and has a history of POV the line between contracted and so-called "volunteer" editing on such articles seems very iffy. Similarly, a tide of industry-generated "oil sands" RS were used to mandate the Athabasca "tar sands" in Wikipedia as "oil sands"....when industry funds research and publication using its chosen/misleading jargon, and the deluge of resulting "sources" is used to mandate such POV language, it's an ongoing problem....and there will be those here who defend those repetitive and self-referential sources as "legitimate" instead of being industry-generated.Skookum1 (talk) 04:45, 22 November 2014 (UTC)
I believe that SMcCandlish is asking a different question: If an industry group hires a firm to create a website for them (rather than hiring an employee to create a website in-house), then is that website reliable or unreliable? For example, if it's okay to cite the "Ruritanian Widget Manufacturers Association" website, written by Joe Employee and Jane Webmaster, for a factual claim (e.g., that manufacturers in Ruritania make a million widgets a year), then is it okay to cite the same information from the "Ruritanian Widget Manufacturers Association" website, only this time the website was written by the employees of Professional Websites R Us instead of by Joe Employee and Jane the in-house webmaster? WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:40, 22 November 2014 (UTC)
Suffice to say I had quite the time correcting a false claim on certain wine-region articles, where the defender of the mistake (a claim that the Sonoran Desert extends into British Columbia, which is counter-factual as the Sonoran Desert ends at the Colorado the real world) fielded article after article from wine and travel magazines as "reliable sources", all clearly playing from the same industry-based press releases. The editor combating me claimed no affiliation to the wine point is that it's not just overt consultants and companies, who havedisclosed, but those who do not, or as with the Mt Polley item make excuses and evasions and disavowels while acting quite red-handedly as COI/POV.....this is also rife on political bio articles of all kinds, anywhere, where it's cler that "p.r. operatives" are at play, whether as SPAs or "lurkers".Skookum1 (talk) 07:33, 22 November 2014 (UTC)

List of scammy academic journals[edit]

Hey guys - I just came across this list of possibly predatory open-access journals after reading this article on scam scholarly publishing. Is there anywhere on a policy or resource page that it would be good to link it? –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 02:17, 24 November 2014 (UTC)

A link and short discussion was added a year ago to WP:MEDRS (under discussion of biomedical journals), though I suspect it would be helpful here too, perhaps to the section about questionable sources? Yobol (talk) 00:34, 25 November 2014 (UTC)
Yes check.svg DoneRoscelese (talkcontribs) 18:18, 27 November 2014 (UTC)

Demur. The language would open up a lovely field for Wikilawyers to play in regarding "reputation for fact-checking" for sources in general. We already have WP:RS/N where such concerns as may be reasonable may be raised. Collect (talk) 19:11, 27 November 2014 (UTC)

But sources in general are supposed to have a reputation for fact-checking, that's part of the policy. I don't understand your objection - could you clarify? (The addition isn't meant to supplant or supplement existing policy, but rather to head off some of these disputes at the pass by warning users to check before adding material.) –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 20:10, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
And RS/N can handle questions. The "list" in the source given includes a large number of absolutely reputable publishers of peer-reviewed journals - and the proposed language could be used to remove them even though they meet WP:RS. Adding such quibbles on this page is, IMHO, less than wise. Cheers. Collect (talk) 20:48, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
I would concur with the logic of Collect. I think the place for the centralized discussion is RS/N, rather than on a lot of various subpages all over the diverse English wikipedia. N2e (talk) 22:15, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
I think you're misunderstanding the purpose of adding this language, N2e. Collect, which sources on this list do you believe have unfairly been labeled predatory? –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 00:40, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
(We could also cite the same language to this page, which is a guideline for identifying scam journals.) –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 00:47, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
A spot check of the nearly 300 publishers shows most are, indeed, "peer-reviewed journal publishers." We already have WP:RS/N where a source may be questioned - but indirectly tarring a great many legitimate publishers is the wrong way to proceed. And "open access" is most assuredly not "proof of scam." "Peer-review" generally does not operate as a "scam" last I checked. Cheers -- let WP:RS/N do its job. Collect (talk) 00:52, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
Do you mean that they are peer-reviewed, or that they claim to be peer-reviewed but in fact are perfectly willing to publish a paper consisting entirely of "Get me the f--- off your mailing list" for a fee? Serious question here, since this is the entire point of adding this section –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 01:02, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
That is the key distinction, and it's a pity that other editors don't see it. This is a necessary clarification of existing policy, and we can't have bone-headed objections getting in the way. Nomoskedasticity (talk) 23:13, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
We have WP:RS/N and it does not seem to be overrun with the horrid journals you seem to think only bone-headed editors defend. Perhaps you can tell us precisely how many RS/N discussions have been held on the journals being discussed? If the number is small, I suggest the massive change is not worthwhile. (Note to MC -- snark about editors being "naïve" is not necessary here or anywhere on Wikipedia - I now have had more than three decades on-line, and more than fifty years working with computers, and I note that being "naïve" is not one of my qualities) Cheers. Collect (talk) 00:02, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
Those are odd qualifications to emphasize. I've found that people who spend huge amounts of time online and working with computers tend be more, rather than less, naive about the way the real world operates. In any case, I'm not sure that personal experience is relevant here. Predatory journals exist, and they feed off the naivete (and hubris) of people who assume that a journal which describes itself as "peer-reviewed" cannot possibly be a scam. MastCell Talk 02:38, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
There has been numerous related discussions in Talk:Predatory open access publishing. Quoting my own opinion, succinctly: "Beall's list is a one man's list, run by a self-appointed individual, with no committee oversight." It lacks transparency, because it's not disclosed how each journal/publisher fares with regard to the criteria set forth for categorizing predatory; it claims to have review board but the members are secret. It's notable enough to deserve a Wikipedia article, but it should not become a Wikipedia guideline -- general or medical -- for the reasons above. Fgnievinski (talk) 00:54, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
  • I think the addition in question is reasonable. Predatory open-access publishing is a fact of life, as numerous reliable sources attest (e.g. New York Times, Nature, etc). Obviously not all open-access journals are predatory, but some are. These journals play off the naive attitude expressed by Collect above—the idea that a journal which claims to be "peer-reviewed" cannot possibly be a "scam". Since these naive attitudes appear prevalent among Wikipedians, even those who frequent WP:RS/N, I think it's reasonable to add some language to this guideline (as already exists at WP:MEDRS) deprecating the use of predatory journals. The objections to such an addition don't make a lot of sense to me, at least as they're expressed here. MastCell Talk 06:32, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
Consulting Jeffrey Beall's list can be one of many useful ways of evaluating the reliability of a given source and we would do Wikipedia's editors a service by making knowledge of and access to this list accessible. I support an addition to this guideline which warns Wikipedia's editors of the existence of low quality "predatory" journals and providing a link to Jeffreys Beall's list. -- Ed (Edgar181) 01:06, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
The problems with predatory publishing has received increasing attention in academic circles for years, and is a particular problem for Wikipedia as most lay editors will just look at the publisher website, see the words "peer-review" and assume they are reliable, when it could not be farther from the truth. An article published in Science found that many of these publishers in fact do not do any true peer review at all, and that "the results show that Beall is good at spotting publishers with poor quality control". Given these facts, I do not see why we would not want to prevent poor quality journals from being cited here. Yobol (talk) 05:11, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
@Yobol: In Wikipedia articles about publishers/journals that are alleged predatory, we should rely only in allegations published in peer-reviewed literature (Beall authored several of such articles, check google scholar). Expert-authored blogs should be cited with discretion (WP:SELFPUBLISH). Even one false accusation would be too many, and who knows how many border cases exist -- I wish it was all black-and-white, predatory or not. Fgnievinski (talk) 18:25, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
In all articles, we have to equip our editors with the best information to edit and give reliable information. The purpose of WP:RS is to give our editors the information they need to decide what is and what is not likely to be a good source to use. Predatory journals are particularly insidious in this regard because they have the outward appearance of reliability ("Hey, this is an academic peer reviewed journal!") when in fact they are not. Predatory journals are a growing problem, and we now have objective data that suggests Beall's list is a decent place to start to have that conversation about which publishers are and which are not reliable. I have no particular interest to edit articles about the journals themselves, but I would suspect Beall's blog would qualify as an "expert" exception to the prohibition against self published material. I don't think anyone can say with a straight face that this is a not significant and growing problem, and we have to be able to equip editors with the information that is necessary to best select good sources, which the vast majority of these journals clearly are not. Yobol (talk) 18:33, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
@Yobol: I agree that predatory publishing is a problem that should be mentioned in WP:RS provided that we can word it in a way that doesn't give a false impression of certainty regarding the status of predatory or not; being included in Beall's list is becoming a sentence/verdict/condemnation but no one has checked the list in its entirety! Fgnievinski (talk) 18:59, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
@Yobol: I disagree that Wikipedia pages about publishers/journals should be allowed to make such serious accusations based on a blog post, expert-authored or not. In any other decent Wikipedia page, multiple peer-reviewed publications would be minimally required for such extraordinary claims. We're being led to give someone a free pass just because he attracted a lot of media attention. Fgnievinski (talk) 18:59, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
I have little interest in editing articles about journals themselves, and a discussion about that topic is not particularly relevant to this thread, which is about how to use Beall's list in the context of this guideline. I think the original wording as discussed in the questionable sources section was an adequate place to start, though it has been pointed out below that this is already discussed in the scholarship section, so I doubt it would be appropriate to duplicate. I would instead expand discussion in that section, with an explicit link to Beall's list and a caution against (though not outright prohibition) when using sources on that list. Yobol (talk) 19:12, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Have a look at this report about a peer-reviewed journal and the scrutiny they give the papers they accept for publication. As for Jeffrey Beall, he's a widely respected librarian. And personally, I have yet to see a single "absolutely reputable publisher" on his list and challenge Cirt to provide us with an example. Also, please note that Beall does not equate OA with predatory. There are many respectable OA publishers (PLOS, BioMed Central, etc) and those are of course not on his list. Unfortunately, I regularly encounter editors who misunderstand issues in academic publishing, including one person a while ago who wanted to classify all OA publishers as vanity presses because authors have to pay for the cost of publication of their articles... --Randykitty (talk) 12:15, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
  • This is already briefly covered in the "Scholarship" section last bullet point but I would support a link to Beall, and the other RS articles on the subject of these questionable sources. Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:23, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
  • This discussion isn't about what language to put in an article, so whether or not Beall's research on scams has been peer-reviewed is irrelevant, surely. It's more about whether we as the WP community trust his research. Thanks for the Science article, Yobol. –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 20:03, 29 November 2014 (UTC)

It's a great list to initiate discussion, he's caught a bunch of dodgy rackets and journals with bad scholarly reputations. But I don't think we should add a mention of the list in any way that makes it seem like we believe the list is authoritative, complete, or necessary to any particular discussion. It's one person, publishing his own views in his own space, and he's might get tired, or he might have biases we haven't seen yet. It's good on a here's educational examples of the kind of things to watch out for or in a Further reading kind of way, but the list is not a functional replacement for community and editor judgment in context. This is also similar to a "complete list of all known spammers" in that there will always be more instances than can ever be catalogued. Ultimately it is better to emphasize the better qualities in what we require in a good source, rather than giving editors the idea they can uncritically reference a "no-fly" list or blacklist compiled off-site.__ E L A Q U E A T E 21:50, 29 November 2014 (UTC)

I do not see the value of the list, since it does not meet rs. Presumably editors who respond to RSN research the sources before commenting on them. TFD (talk) 22:12, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
Actually, at least one version of his list have been published (this was published in The Charleston Advisor) and would therefore meet WP:RS itself. I'm kind of perplexed that people keep bringing up WP:RSN. The point of this guideline should be to give editors guidance without the need to go to WP:RSN, and nothing in the proposed addition would preclude taking it to RSN in any event. It might, however, keep bad sources out of articles by well intentioned editors who don't know what a bad journal/publisher looks like. Yobol (talk) 22:59, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm also puzzled at the idea that this would somehow preclude RSN. My goal in adding it was to make the list, or failing that Beall's guidelines for identifying a scam, easily accessible to editors, as a resource. If people who oppose its inclusion here have other suggestions as to where on WP it could be linked - either the list of journals or the guidelines, or both - definitely let me know, per my initial comment. –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 02:13, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
With the improvements being made to DOAJ, it becomes more useful as a whitelist. Beall's lists remain useful as blacklists. There's no real reason for ignoring either. An OA journal that is not on DOAJ should be questioned, just as one that is on should be questioned. In either case, there should be ample citation evidence that highly-trusted independent publishers consider it worth citing before we consider accepting so-questioned journals as reliable. LeadSongDog come howl! 18:41, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
Yes, that seems like a very sensible approach. MastCell Talk 19:17, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
Agreed. Dougweller (talk) 11:05, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
So then, what we need is to link those with brief explanation in this guideline, perhaps a footnote. Alanscottwalker (talk) 11:54, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
If we want to use it as an educational example in the notes or the "see also" section of how some journals are questionable, that's one thing. We shouldn't be adding a specific self-published "whitelist" or "blacklist" to the principles in the main guideline text itself. There's no such thing as a whitelisted reliable source for any type of claim on Wikipedia, and, while I think Beall's doing great work, I don't feel confident giving one blogger essentially a permanent future veto on reliable sources on Wikipedia. __ E L A Q U E A T E 20:13, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Also note the list has been modified over time, with some entries removed. Using it as a blacklist goes against Wikipedia policies and guidelines at that point. Collect (talk) 13:31, 5 December 2014 (UTC)
Talk of making a list on WP of reliable and unreliable sources is getting off my original point, which is that it would help to alert editors to the problem of scam journals and to a list of questionable ones. Nowhere would we be taking away the ability of editors to decide, through consensus, that an article might still be reliable despite being published in one of these journals, or that an article is questionable despite being published in a journal that's not on this list. I'm just not sure why we would want to keep editors in the dark about this resource. –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 02:53, 7 December 2014 (UTC)
Editors don't have to be kept in the dark, but this seems like specific advice better suited to an essay, something like Identifying Non-Predatory Journals and Academic sources, that could be linked to in the See Also section, with other good, specific advice. The main section of Identifying reliable sources is general in-house principles, not links to specific blogs we like.__ E L A Q U E A T E 03:20, 7 December 2014 (UTC)
Yobol pointed out above that this advice was already part of MEDRS, and I think it's a good advisory to put briefly in RS as well. It seems tedious for a user to have to click through to an essay and from there to a list, when we could just add a sentence. –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 21:13, 7 December 2014 (UTC)
So - can we go ahead and add some wording that indicates that this is an issue users should be aware of and provides Beall's list as a resource, without suggesting that it's the, er, be-all and end-all? –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 21:15, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
What are you proposing beyond: Some publications that appear to be reliable journals are instead of very low quality and have no peer-review. They simply publish whatever is submitted if the author is willing to pay a fee. Some go so far as to mimic the names of reliable journals. There's also a citation to Beall's list there already. I think it would be helpful to expand the description in the footnote, and explain where the list could be helpful. I don't think we should name-check the blog in the main body text though. That's not something we're even doing for specific citation indexes which are more clearly long-term helpful across more articles. __ E L A Q U E A T E 21:43, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
I think the text added originally is fine and would be happy to add it again, but other users seem to have been concerned about it. –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 23:51, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
  • There seems to be a vague general feeling that something of the kind can or should be included. I've restored the original text I added; feel free to edit in light of the discussion here. –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 18:31, 23 December 2014 (UTC)

Source bombing[edit]

What to do against articles with conflict involved and one side (like mainstream press) using the "reliable sources" definition to skew the viewpoint of the article by making articles and citing each other? Examples would be grassroots movements against the mainstream media. --Artman40 (talk) 17:37, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

I think aspects of the "reliable source" concept are obsolete. Any time I try to work on something subjective, I see something like this:

  • There is an objective truth to what happened. Your article may not have that, but the ones I work on do.
  • Multiple opinions have been expressed in "reliable sources." Necessarily, one or more of these resembles the objective truth.
  • I want to include an objective statement from a primary source. Necessarily, the statement supports one or more opinions.
  • This objective statement is identified as original research and speculation by editors who disagree with the opinion supported by the fact.
  • The fact can't be included in the article until a "reliable source" decides it's relevant, wraps it up in speculation and puts a political spin on it.

What Artman40 mentioned describes a new barrier to entry, a barrier to participation in Wikipedia itself. You need to have "reliable sources" to include objective material that supports an opinion, so you can't add it. Before Wikipedia, you had to (figuratively) own a newspaper to get your opinion heard.

The reliable sources requirement can re-build that old barrier. The example is a good one; if a movement has limited ability to get its opinion covered in "reliable sources", it's back to the way it was when you had to own a newspaper. Roches (talk) 13:25, 5 December 2014 (UTC)

Quick thoughts:
  • I'm guessing that you two are in a dispute. In that case, go to WP:RSN.
  • If the "objective fact" is published in a source, then copying that fact to Wikipedia cannot be WP:OR. OR = stuff not found in a source (by definition). If you want to include "an objective statement from a primary source", then that's not OR (assuming that the statement is actually in the primary source, and that the source is published, e.g., not Great-Grandma's old letters that you found in the attic after she died).
  • There are dozens of reasons why said source and said material might be unwanted (e.g., copyvio, plagiarism, various subsections of NPOV, unencyclopedia nature, etc), but if it comes from some published source, then it's not original research.
  • You might want to read WP:Secondary does not mean independent and WP:USEPRIMARY.
Good luck, WhatamIdoing (talk) 14:07, 5 December 2014 (UTC)
There is an objective truth to what happened - Wikipedia is not about reporting a "truth"; we report significant viewpoints of what happened as described in reliable sources.
The fact can't be included in the article until a "reliable source" decides it's relevant, wraps it up in speculation and puts a political spin on it. - Tough. That is the way we edit articles.

- Cwobeel (talk) 22:45, 6 December 2014 (UTC)

Also, note that WhatamIdoing offered in WP:Secondary does not mean independent and WP:USEPRIMARY, these are essays and not policy. For policy refer to WP:NPOV, WP:V and WP:NOR the three core content policies of Wikipedia, to which all material in articles is expected to be compliant with all three. - Cwobeel (talk) 00:20, 7 December 2014 (UTC)

Cwobeel, I'll also suggest that you read WP:The difference between policies, guidelines, and essays. I notice that you have cited WP:BRD in your contributions, which is "just an essay, not a policy", too. The tag at the top of the page doesn't tell you whether the page is applicable, accurate, or accepted. (And in the case of PGE, the material could have been in WP:POLICY—much of which I've written—but I thought it would clutter up the main policy page (and require a more formal tone, which I didn't want to bother with). WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:42, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
I am well aware of the differences. WP:BRD is an accepted mean for achieving consensus nonetheless. - Cwobeel (talk) 00:46, 16 December 2014 (UTC)

My reply, which is mostly about Shooting of Michael Brown[edit]

Thanks. The two of us aren't in a dispute with each other. I added my comment below because I've faced a lot of the same use of "reliable sources" to justify reverts. Here's an example from Talk:Shooting of Michael Brown:

On a table comparing "typical grand jury hearings" with a specific hearing: "I have added a table indicating the differences as reported by the NYT. I will not respond to the above if it was nefarious or not, as it is irrelevant to what we are trying to do here, which is reporting on what reliable sources said about the subject. - Cwobeel (talk) 18:20, 1 December 2014 (UTC)" I contend that facts about grand juries do not need to be reported in the New York Times to be incorporated in an article.

On a witness who supported the police officer's account: "I don't think anyone will oppose such, but need to find WP:SECONDARY sources that discuss that testimony rather than relying on our own WP:OR interpretation of the WP:PRIMARY Gaijin42 (talk) 01:27, 6 December 2014 (UTC)" The article has more content from eyewitnesses with opposing accounts. I contend that it would not be OR to quote/paraphrase/discuss the account itself to address this.

In the section "Summarily inaccurate" an IP editor mentions the use of biased secondary sources, and another user objected:

"we report what reliable sources say" is not an accurate or useful summary of WP policy, but I suppose we can just put a pin in this until/unless you go ahead and violate some more policies. Centrify (f / k / a FCAYS) (talk) (contribs) 14:58, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

I'm capable of using primary sources to write NPOV and objective content. But I spend too much time composing replies to editors on talk pages and comparatively very little time improving content. Part of my experience is that at least one, if not two, people are actively enforcing the idea that Wikipedia is their blog, in the sense that they are using it to report things they read in secondary sources, rather than reporting facts directly from the primary sources. I'm assuming good faith, but I think people want to protect their content.

I don't see how a collaborative effort to write fact-based articles on ongoing events should require that sources be politically biased, or that a fact cannot be taken from a primary source until it's noticed by a secondary source.

Thanks for your time in reading this. I only have one question that needs addressing: What do I do when I get slapped with WP:SPECULATION WP:OR WP:SECONDARY?

Added: None of the quotes are disputes I'm involved in and I don't want to address those, just the overall idea that "we use reliable sources." Roches (talk) 15:15, 6 December 2014 (UTC)

You are welcome to attempt changing Wikipedia policies by engaging in a discussion such as this one. But you are not welcome to start editing articles in which you dismiss Wikipedia core policies and do whatever you want in contradiction with key policies. You are deleting well sourced material. You are also deleting key reporting, just because you believe journalists got it wrong. This is totally unacceptable and disruptive. - Cwobeel (talk) 22:39, 6 December 2014 (UTC)
None of the quotes are disputes I'm involved in Really? As for your arguments about using primary sources instead of secondary sources, it is exactly the opposite of what we do here in Wikipedia. You have a lot to learn. - Cwobeel (talk) 22:42, 6 December 2014 (UTC)
Roches, I don't really want to go through the article history to look for examples, so it's hard to know how well the question you've written lines up with the actual problems you're encountering. Your question about whether grand jury details need to be mentioned elsewhere makes me suspect that WP:DUE is more relevant than NOR. My dilemma is a bit like tech support, when the customer asks a very specific question, like, "How do I re-format my hard drive?", rather than saying, "I want to make my computer faster. What do you recommend?" I'm going to take a page from tech support and just answer what you've asked.
  • WP:SPECULATION isn't really appropriate for most disputes of this type. The most relevant bit is the line about people extrapolating from the sources, and you shouldn't do that. If it's not actually, undeniably in the published source, then it doesn't go in. If you "deserve" that complaint, then what you should do is to remove any content that extrapolates or speculates or otherwise says something "more" than what the source said. If you don't feel like the complaint is relevant, then you should ask the individual to explain in more detail and/or to quote to you the exact sentence out of that section that is relevant.
  • WP:OR in general is about writing things that aren't in the published reliable source. If you "deserve" that complaint, then what you do is to remove any content that isn't actually, directly present in the reliable source. If you don't feel like the complaint is relevant, then you quote the exact sentences that you added to the article, quote the exact sentences out of your source that obviously, directly, and completely prove that your reliable source already published all of this information, and tell the other editor that this quotation proves that the material you added has already been published elsewhere and therefore (by definition) cannot be OR. Note: OR is also the home for SECONDARY, which I admit is confusing. You may have to ask for more details to figure out whether the other editors mean the normal OR parts or the WP:PSTS part.
  • WP:SECONDARY is probably going to be the biggest problem for any article about current events. This is because all early news reports, and many later ones (with the major exception of 'news analysis'), are actually primary sources. (See WP:PRIMARYNEWS for more details.) I'll spare you the explanation about why SECONDARY exists, but that is a policy, and you should do your best to respect it, even if it means that the article cannot contain every possible detail that interests you. Articles are supposed to be encyclopedia articles, which means brief summaries, not 13,500+ word tomes with 286 cited sources (including many primary sources; for example the second ref on the page, which is a partial transcript of the grand jury testimony, is unquestionably primary). To give you some perspective about what it means to be an "encyclopedia article", here is the entire text of a very famous murder as published in a real encyclopedia:
    On the evening of the 14th of April he attended Ford's theatre in Washington. While seated with his family and friends absorbed in the play, John Wilkes Booth, an actor, who with others had prepared a plot to assassinate the several heads of government, went into the little corridor leading to the upper stage-box, and secured it against ingress by a wooden bar. Then stealthily entering the box, he discharged a pistol at the head of the president from behind, the ball penetrating the brain. Brandishing a huge knife, with which he wounded Colonel Rathbone who attempted to hold him, the assassin rushed through the stage-box to the front and leaped down upon the stage, escaping behind the scenes and from the rear of the building, but was pursued, and twelve days afterwards shot in a barn where he had concealed himself. The wounded president was borne to a house across the street, where he breathed his last at 7 A.M. on the 15th of April 1865.
Good luck, WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:18, 16 December 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for that. In this issue the media reports are heavily biased, which doesn't make them unreliable but might not make them NPOV. I thought primary sources might help with NPOV, but I've come to the conclusion that all the "admissible" primary sources have already been used. My issue is that we are using biased secondary sources and not trying to present them in an unbiased way.

Consider: "even if that means that the article cannot contain every possible detail that interests you." This is a major issue in the article now. There seems to be an idea that any point of view reported by a reliable source, even if it is opinion, must be included, and cannot be removed. Thanks again, though. I'm not sure how much I'll work on this article, but your comment has important ideas for all the editors of the article, not just me. Roches (talk) 15:06, 16 December 2014 (UTC)

Encyclopaedia Britannica[edit]

After recently being rapped over the knuckles for using Britannica as a source, I thought I'd read this article to see what I had done wrong. I found this:

Tertiary sources such as compendia, encyclopedias, introductory textbooks, obituaries, and other summarizing sources are helpful for overviews or summaries, and in evaluating due weight, but should not be used in place of secondary sources for detailed discussion

I am just as confused as before.

  • What are "summaries" and "overviews" in WP. Are there summary/overview articles where I could use EB, or are there parts of an article (eg. the lead) where I could use EB?
  • How could EB be used to "evaluate due weight"? I can't see anything obvious in the due weight article.
  • How can I tell that EB is being used for "detailed discussion"?

It seems to me that articles in EB, given the way that articles there are produced, are easily the equivalent of academic articles, or books. Myrvin (talk) 07:50, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

I have read Wikipedia:WikiProject Encyclopaedia Britannica, but this doesn't seem to help. However, if EB isn't to be used, how come there's a WP project on how to use it? Myrvin (talk) 09:14, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

"Overview" means that a different encyclopedia entry might give you, as an editor, a good mental picture of how other people have summarized the topic. They are useful for editors to read while editing, to get a sense of the topic, even if we don't cite them for detailed material. They can help editors decide if certain information is worth investigating in less tertiary sources.
The "evaluate due weight" means that if we find that some piece of information is covered in a tertiary encyclopedia entry, it's probably likely that secondary sources have noted the information as well. Presence in a tertiary source is a helpful indication that it's probably also been noted by secondary sources and is probably worth including in our article, (but it's not a replacement for actually finding some of those secondary sources). __ E L A Q U E A T E 14:43, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
The WikiProject is part of Wikipedia's absorption of some public-domain tertiary sources wholesale. This type of use is usually clearly marked within articles where we're basically reproducing a whole article not wriiten by Wikipedia editors. It's not a model for building new articles, written by editors, out of disparate sources. It's not a model we can use for any of the tertiary sources that are currently under copyright, either.__ E L A Q U E A T E 16:28, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
You may have encountered one of our many made-up rules. Rumors like this get started and passed around for years. We don't actually ban the use of EB (or any other source, for that matter; see the /FAQ at the top of the page). In fact, if your information actually comes from EB, then you are required to state that fact, per WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT. EB is cited in more than 10,000 articles.
However, the person who complained is correct that a tertiary source is not an ideal source for most purposes, and it is especially inappropriate for detailed, complex, or contentious matter. Whether a source is "reliable" depends on the statement that you're making. If it's uncontentious, almost sky-is-blue material, then an encyclopedia is an okay source. You don't need a gold-plated academic journal article to say that Abraham Lincoln was a US president (unless your main goal is to look like Wikipedia Iz Serious Academic Bidness, which is not a view I subscribe to). If you are supporting complicated material, though, like exactly what happens to protons inside a nuclear reactor, then you should look for a more appropriate (e.g., more technical) source.
By the way, in case it comes up, by supplying EB as a citation, you have met your WP:BURDEN. There is no requirement that you fulfill requests for "better" sources (no matter how "better" is defined). If the other editor wants a better source, it's his job to find it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:28, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
Hello WhatamIdoing, nice to see you again. Perhaps this particular made up rule comes, in part, from this RS guideline. I came to this article because I was looking for reasons why, or why not, EB could be cited, and I know that I should only cite reliable sources. However, it looks to me as if the words I quoted above are not to do with sources to be cited, but sources for research - which is what I think ELAQUEATE is saying. It can easily be read to say that tertiary sources should never be cited, because in WP articles we are always putting in "detailed discussion" and never summaries or overviews. As you know, I'm having problems with GA reviews. Does your advice go for GAs too? Myrvin (talk) 07:43, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
I don't think it can be read that "WP articles we are always putting in "detailed discussion" and never summaries or overviews" because WP is a tertiary source - and so a general purpose of WP is summary and overview. Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:14, 16 December 2014 (UTC) As for GA, well the strength and draw back of that system is that you are submitting it to the reviewer for them to declare it "good". It is inevitable that some demand they make may seem (and even be) whimsical or capricious. So, only you, as submitter, can decide if it is worth it. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:30, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I see that. I was trying to think from where these whimsies might come. I have given up completely on GANs for that very reason. A nominator can spend hours and hours doing requested changes, only to find that the article is not good enough, because - inter alia - the article cites Britannica. Myrvin (talk) 13:03, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
Well, the only solace maybe - take the 100,000 foot view - generally, an anon on the internet making some evaluation of another anon's work - it is what it is. Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:50, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I think that some of these "whimsies" do have a reasonable origin. Our years-long telephone game often causes us to lose nuance.
What do you all think about adding a bit in the guideline about "the kind of source to use for general research" vs "whether this particular source is reliable for that particular statement"? We focus mostly on the latter, which might make our occasional statement about the former be confusing. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:06, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
The rest of the section, and article, is about citations. So I think this should be too.Myrvin (talk) 20:13, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
Instead of the words quoted above, how about:

Respected tertiary sources such as Encyclopaedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Judaica, and Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, may be cited, as long as such citations are not in the majority in an article.

Myrvin (talk) 12:47, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
I think that those exact words might result in needless complaints about stubs (which often have only a single source). But perhaps we could add something like it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:15, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
Ah yes, I see that, WhatamIdoing. I added the 'majority' thing to reinforce the guideline's statement about articles being "based mainly on reliable secondary sources". Since it already says that, I guess it doesn't need to be repeated. How about:

Respected tertiary sources, where articles are written by experts in the field and have editorial panels, such as Encyclopaedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Judaica, and Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, may be cited.

Myrvin (talk) 18:10, 28 December 2014 (UTC)

Lorna Tolentino[edit]

she has never done a movie titled Dugo ihuhugas sa kasalanan...the correct title of it instead is Sa Putik Ihuhugas ay Dugo with Philip Salvador and Elizabeth Oropeza

also the movie Huwag Mo kaming Isumpa under Seiko films with Christoper De leon and Rio Locsin was not shown or done in 1969 it was shown sometime in 1986 before the award winning Maging akin Ka Lamang. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:45, 16 December 2014 (UTC)