Wikipedia:Deprecated sources

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Deprecated sources are indicated with a stop sign icon in the list of perennial sources.

Deprecated sources are highly questionable sources that editors are discouraged from citing in articles, because they fail the reliable sources guideline in nearly all circumstances. Use of these sources may generate edit filter warnings for registered users and may be automatically reverted for edits from IP addresses.

Deprecation is a formalization that arises from Wikipedia’s normal processes for evaluating sources. It primarily exists to save time by avoiding the endless discussion of the same issues, and to raise awareness among editors of the status of the sources in question. For example, if editors are unfamiliar with either the specific sources or the general sourcing requirements, they can be saved the experience of having their work undone later on. Deprecation can be proposed with a request for comment at the reliable sources noticeboard, and the restrictions are only applied if there is community consensus.[1]

Since there are an endless number of poor sources, there are also an endless number of sources that would be deprecated if we bothered to have discussions on them. These sources have always been de facto deprecated as a normal result of our policies and guidelines that try to ensure that we use reputable sources. A discussion that results in deprecation may involve a change or clarification of editorial consensus (thus resulting in a change of current practice), but the only effect of deprecation alone is to explicitly codify the source’s pre-existing status, as already determined by Wikipedia’s sourcing requirements. It does not inherently change how they are evaluated under those requirements.

Deprecated sources should not be considered to be either unique or uniquely unreliable. They may be those that are most often cited by unaware editors, or those that come up in discussion the most often – for example, due to real-world controversy, borderline reliability, or a tendency to be promoted on-wiki despite a lack of reliability. Since there are many reasons that a source may be unreliable, the specific reasons for deprecation vary from case to case. The first source to be formally deprecated was the Daily Mail, which was determined by community consensus in a 2017 RfC to have a "reputation for poor fact checking, sensationalism, and flat-out fabrication". This RfC became a landmark decision, and new deprecation proposals are usually based on language from its closing summary.

Deprecating a source is different from blocking the source (blacklisting), which is generally done to address spam-related issues.

Effects of deprecation[edit]

Deprecated sources are restricted in three ways, most of which were discussed in the 2017 Daily Mail RfC:

  1. The source is designated as generally unreliable.
    • Citing the source as a reference is generally prohibited, especially when other more reliable sources exist. Images and quotations should also be avoided, since they can be manipulated or fabricated. If the source contains material that cannot be found in more reliable sources, it may be valid to assume that the material in question is incorrect. The source may only be used when there is a demonstrable need to use it instead of other sources.
    • The source is no longer used to determine notability.
  2. Typically, the source is listed on User:XLinkBot/RevertList and User:XLinkBot/RevertReferencesList. XLinkBot automatically reverts links to the source that are added by unregistered users and accounts under seven days old. This behavior is subject to restrictions, which are described in the lists themselves.
  3. Typically, an edit filter set to "warn" is implemented, which displays a message to editors having contributed more than 7 days and who are attempting to cite the source in an article, notifying them of the existing consensus and asking them if they want to proceed. At this point, the editor may choose to cancel the edit, or dismiss the warning and complete the edit.

Deprecated sources with few valid use cases may be blocked due to persistent abuse. This involves the source being added to the spam blacklist and/or the Wikimedia global spam blacklist, which prevents editors from saving contributions containing a link to the source. It is not necessary for a source to be deprecated to be blocked, nor are all deprecated sources blocked.

Acceptable uses of deprecated sources[edit]

Deprecation is not a blanket retroactive "ban" on using the source in absolutely every situation, contrary to what has been reported in media headlines.[2] In particular, reliability always depends on the specific content being cited, and all sources are reliable in at least some circumstances and unreliable in at least some others. Citations to deprecated sources should not be removed indiscriminately, and each case should be reviewed separately. While some deprecated sources have been completely eliminated as references, others have not.

Looking forward, however, the addition of new references from deprecated sources is extremely rare. Deprecated sources can normally be cited as a primary source when the source itself is the subject of discussion, such as to describe its own viewpoint. The verifiability policy provides an additional exception: a questionable source may be used for information on itself, subject to the conditions in WP:ABOUTSELF (see also WP:SPS and WP:BLPSELFPUB). An external link to the source can be included on an article about the source. Editors are also expected to use common sense and act to improve the encyclopedia. If an exception applies, the source can be evaluated and used like any other. Deprecation does not change the application of Wikipedia's policies and guidelines, and the use of all sources continues to be governed by WP:RS and WP:V.

Additional exceptions may be specific to individual sources as summarized in the RfC: for example, the 2017 closure of the Daily Mail RfC mentioned that participants said it may have been more reliable historically.

What deprecation is and isn't[edit]

Deprecation (cf. Lat. deprecatus) is a status indicating that a source almost always falls below Wikipedia's standards of reliability, and that uses of the source must fall within one of the established acceptable uses. Establishing new types of acceptable use requires a demonstration that the source is uniquely reliable in those particular circumstances compared to other possible uses of the source.

Deprecating a source is a weaker measure than blocking or banning it, and the terms are not comparable to each other. Wikipedia's equivalent to blocking is blacklisting, which is an entirely separate mechanism, and websites are usually only blacklisted if they are involved in spam-related issues, such as external link spamming. Blacklisted sources are listed at the English Wikipedia spam blacklist and the Wikimedia global spam blacklist, with new proposals submitted at MediaWiki talk:Spam-blacklist. External links to blacklisted sources cannot be included in edits and editors will be shown an error message. In contrast, deprecated sources can technically be entered by editors as long as they are not on either of the spam blacklists.

How does a source become deprecated?[edit]

To start a discussion on deprecation, start a request for comment at the reliable sources noticeboard.[1] Editors will then evaluate the source and determine whether there is a consensus for deprecation. However, if the source is not already de facto deprecated as current practice, or if the source has not already been discussed at length in the past, it may be a better idea to start a regular RSN discussion instead.

In general, a source that is proposed for deprecation should be either frequently used or frequently discussed. Additionally, in order to prevent instruction creep, sources that should be particularly obvious (for example, The Onion) are unlikely to be formally deprecated unless there are editors seriously arguing for their reliability. Similarly, the fact that there may be non-deprecated sources which are just as bad as (or even worse than) a source under consideration is not considered to be a valid argument against deprecation.[3]

What sources are de facto deprecated?[edit]

Any source that fails the reliable sources guideline in nearly all circumstances. While we will never have an exhaustive list, most deprecation to date has focused on sources that promote known falsehoods, particularly debunked conspiracy theories. This does not have to be intentional and may be a result of factors such as poor fact checking or sensationalism. One might assume, for instance, that fake news websites are effectively deprecated, as are sources that promote pseudoscience or denialism. The pages on potentially unreliable sources and perennially discussed sources may also be helpful.

Currently deprecated sources[edit]

Since each source proposed for deprecation has to be discussed separately, we cannot formally deprecate all possible sources that deserve it. As described above, the fact that an unreliable source is listed here does not make it inherently different from an unreliable source that is not listed here.

Deprecated sources
Source Date of deprecation RfC Auto-reverted Edit-filtered Black-listed Notes Uses
Baidu Baike 4 August 2020 Request for comment 2020 RevertList request 2020 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
2 HTTPS links HTTP links
Breitbart News 25 September 2018 Request for comment 2018 Spam blacklist request 2018 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
China Global Television Network (CGTN, CCTV International) 15 September 2020 Request for comment 2020 RevertList request 2020 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
Crunchbase 18 March 2019 Request for comment 2019 RevertList request 2019 Crunchbase is only listed on User:XLinkBot/RevertReferencesList, so citations to Crunchbase are only automatically reverted if they are in ref tags in addition to meeting the standard criteria. An edit filter is not implemented for Crunchbase in order to allow external links to the website. 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
The Daily Caller 13 February 2019 Request for comment 2019 RevertList request 2019 Edit filter change 2019 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
2 HTTPS links HTTP links
Daily Mail (MailOnline) 8 February 2017 Request for comment 2017 Request for comment 2019 Request for comment 2020 RevertList request 2018 Edit filter change 2017 Edit filter change 2019 Edit filter change 2020 The Daily Mail was the first source to be deprecated on Wikipedia. The decision was challenged and upheld in the 2019 RfC. This deprecation also includes the newspaper's website, MailOnline. Editors note that the Daily Mail may have been more reliable historically.
1 HTTPS links HTTP links
2 HTTPS links HTTP links
3 HTTPS links HTTP links
4 HTTPS links HTTP links
5 HTTPS links HTTP links
6 HTTPS links HTTP links
7 HTTPS links HTTP links
Daily Star (UK) 21 September 2020 Request for comment 2020 RevertList request 2020 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
The Epoch Times 6 December 2019 Request for comment 2019 RevertList request 2019 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
FrontPage Magazine (FPM, FrontPageMag.com) 18 July 2020 Request for comment 2020 RevertList request 2020 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
2 HTTPS links HTTP links
The Gateway Pundit 21 November 2019 Request for comment 2019 RevertList request 2019 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
Global Times 4 September 2020 Request for comment 2020 RevertList request 2020 Edit filter change 2020 Near unanimous consensus that Global Times publishes false or fabricated information, conspiracy theories, and propaganda promoting the Chinese government. 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
2 HTTPS links HTTP links
The Grayzone 8 March 2020 Request for comment 2020 RevertList request 2020 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
HispanTV 19 May 2019 Request for comment 2019 RevertList request 2019 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
2 HTTPS links HTTP links
InfoWars (NewsWars) 30 August 2018 Request for comment 2018 Spam blacklist request 2018
Spam blacklist request 2018
1 HTTPS links HTTP links
2 HTTPS links HTTP links
3 HTTPS links HTTP links
4 HTTPS links HTTP links
Last.fm 23 February 2019 Request for comment 2019 RevertList request 2019 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
Lenta.ru (12 March 2014–present) 21 December 2019 Request for comment 2019 Spam blacklist request 2020 There is currently no consensus on the reliability of Lenta.ru prior to 12 March 2014. 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
LifeSiteNews (Campaign Life Coalition) 4 July 2019 Request for comment 2019 RevertList request 2019 Edit filter change 2019 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
The Mail on Sunday 16 November 2020 Request for comment 2020 RevertList request 2020 Edit filter change 2020
1 HTTPS links HTTP links
2 HTTPS links HTTP links
3 HTTPS links HTTP links
4 HTTPS links HTTP links
MintPress News 4 July 2019 Request for comment 2019 RevertList request 2019 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
National Enquirer 17 March 2019 Request for comment 2019 RevertList request 2019 There is no consensus to implement an edit filter for the National Enquirer. 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
News Break 1 July 2020 Request for comment 2020 RevertList request 2020 Edit filter change 2020 News Break is a news aggregator that publishes snippets of articles from other sources. In the 2020 RfC, there was consensus to deprecate News Break in favor of the original sources. 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
News of the World 4 December 2019 Request for comment 2019 RevertList request 2019 Edit filter change 2020 Some editors consider News of the World to be reliable for film reviews. 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
2 HTTPS links HTTP links
Newsmax 20 November 2020 Request for comment 2020 RevertList request 2020 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
2 HTTPS links HTTP links
NNDB (Notable Names Database) 23 February 2019 Request for comment 2019 RevertList request 2019 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
Occupy Democrats 25 September 2018 Request for comment 2018 RevertList request 2018 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
One America News Network (OANN) 21 December 2019 Request for comment 2019 RevertList request 2019 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
Peerage websites (self-published) 26 May 2020 Request for comment 2020 Request for comment 2020 RevertList request 2020 Edit filter change 2020 Edit filter change 2020 List
Rate Your Music (RYM, Cinemos, Glitchwave, Sonemic) 23 February 2019 Request for comment 2019 RevertList request 2019 Edit filter change 2020
1 HTTPS links HTTP links
2 HTTPS links HTTP links
3 HTTPS links HTTP links
4 HTTPS links HTTP links
The Sun (UK) (The Sun on Sunday, The Irish Sun, The Scottish Sun) 18 January 2019 Request for comment 2019 RevertList request 2019 Edit filter change 2020 Edit filter change 2020 Some editors consider The Sun to be reliable for sports reporting.
1 HTTPS links HTTP links
2 HTTPS links HTTP links
3 HTTPS links HTTP links
4 HTTPS links HTTP links
5 HTTPS links HTTP links
RT (Russia Today) 27 May 2020 Request for comment 2020 RevertList request 2020 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
Sputnik 6 June 2020 Request for comment 2020 RevertList request 2020 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
Taki's Magazine 3 October 2019 Request for comment 2019 RevertList request 2019 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
Telesur 31 March 2019 Request for comment 2019 RevertList request 2019 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
2 HTTPS links HTTP links
VDARE 22 December 2018 Request for comment 2018 RevertList request 2019 Edit filter change 2019 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
Veterans Today 21 December 2019 Request for comment 2019 Spam blacklist request 2019 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
Voltaire Network 12 June 2020 Request for comment 2020 RevertList request 2020 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
WorldNetDaily (WND) 11 December 2018 Request for comment 2018 RevertList request 2018 Edit filter change 2019 1 HTTPS links HTTP links
2 HTTPS links HTTP links
Zero Hedge (ZH) 16 July 2020 Request for comment 2020 RevertList request 2020 Edit filter change 2020 1 HTTPS links HTTP links

Legend[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Requests for comment are created using the {{rfc}} template; see WP:RFC for the technical instructions. A common approach to posing the RfC question can be seen in this example.
  2. ^
    • Kalev Leetaru (2 October 2017). "What Wikipedia's Daily Mail 'Ban' Tells Us About The Future Of Online Censorship". Forbes. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
    • Jasper Jackson (8 February 2017). "Wikipedia bans Daily Mail as 'unreliable' source". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
    • Jon Sharman (9 February 2017). "Wikipedia bans Daily Mail because it's an 'unreliable source'". The Independent. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
    • Sebastian Anthony (10 February 2017). "Wikipedia bans Daily Mail for "poor fact checking, sensationalism, flat-out fabrication"". Ars Technica. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
    • Also see Daily Mail § Other criticisms.
  3. ^ See WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS, as well as the formal closure of this RfC (quote: "That we use other trash-sources is never a good reason to oppose (for it can be effectively weaponised as a circular argument across discussions, to prevent deprecation of any source at all) and there is nothing prohibiting any interested editor from launching referendum-RFCs for those sources.")