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What was actually said at RSN
Sycamore writes above "This issue was taken to WP:RSN as suggested here and the opinion of the editor who replied was that if a public work about an organization is contradicted by the organization, publicly and verifiably (as it is on Alpha Phi's website in this instance), then the controversial statement may be removed." and "An editor went to WP:RSN and the work in question was judged unreliable given Alpha Phi's public statement."
There was only one reply, and that said
1) Footnotes aren't required. Robbins seems to be writing for young adults, and Hyperion is similarly a popular, not academic, press, so this isn't the highest reliability source, but neither does this seem to be the sort of information that would require one. It seems to be sufficient.2) If your fraternity specifically contradicts something the book says publically and verifiably (say on your official web site, if you have one), we will either go with what you wrote, citing the fraternity's statement, or (if it's a notable controversy in itself, or we still have reason to believe Robbins) write both claims. If you merely contradict something privately, that's much harder. If it's a minor issue, then we can make an editorial judgment to remove the statement - we don't have to write everything our sources do, we get to pick and choose. If it's a major issue, though, enough that leaving it out makes a noticeable gap, then contradicting it privately isn't going to be enough, a verifiable public contradiction that we can cite in the article will be needed. (Think of Obama's birth, for example.) What makes something major or minor enough is debatable, of course, so specifics matter. --GRuban (talk) 9:48 pm, 14 March 2012, Wednesday (4 months, 13 days ago) (UTC+0)— end of quote copied from WP:RSN
So the editor considered Robbins book reliable enough to use in general, right? And suggested that both claims might be included. GRuban didn't say it was "unreliable given Alpha Phi's public statement if I read the edit correctly. Dougweller (talk) 18:13, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
- I got pinged to confirm here. Yes, that's what I wrote. Here is the link to the archive: Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Noticeboard/Archive_117#Contradicting a Public Work with a Private One and determining a reference to be inappropriate for Wikipedia. The frat has publicly stated that Robbins is wrong. (Well, they're being edgy about it, and don't come right out and say "AOE is not our secret", but I'm guessing that is at least what they want us to think they mean.) So we can't just write what Robbins says as fact, since it is disputed. The only question is, do we write both statements, or neither? That's a question of weight, not of reliability. So quite possibly the editors who more know about the subject would be able to say more than I. Is this a big enough controversy for us to actually write about it as a controversy? Just from my uninformed position, I took a quick web search, and can't see any big argument about it. If there is a notable controversy, we should certainly write about it, but it's not our place to make one up. If there is no notable controversy, while we're not sure about an item of information, and it's not a particularly notable or important item of information, so that leaving out would harm our readers, while writing about it would seem to harm someone, I think we should err in favor of leaving it out. --GRuban (talk) 00:22, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
I'd just like to contrast this situation with the other two Greek Letter Organization pages with apparent repeated deletion by members of the organization. For Phi Gamma Delta, the issue is over use of the greek letters in the article versus the fraternity policy of only using them in specific places. For Kappa Sigma, the issue is more similar to that of Alpha Phi, in that it appears to concern information specifically revealed to new members. However for Kappa Sigma, the fact is referenced to Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities and elsewhere. If Robbins's book is one end of the scale for a reference for a fact for a Greek Letter Organization, I feel that Baird's Manual of American College fraternities has to be the other.Naraht (talk) 01:43, 28 July 2012 (UTC)