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 (with due weight) about the different viewpoints held on a controversial 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.

National bias in WP RS re ‘intervention’[edit]

Are there any WP RS news media that refer — in reporter’s voice — to their own country’s intervention in other country’s electoral (or other) affairs as ‘interference’? Humanengr (talk) 17:21, 13 January 2018 (UTC)

By way of example, U.S. news media considered as RS in WP rarely (if ever) refer to U.S. intervention in other countries as ‘interference’. Thoughts? Humanengr (talk) 03:00, 14 January 2018 (UTC)

Good question! Writing from memory, several members of the Indian press were critical of the Indian takeover of Sikkim. (India had been "interfering" in Sikkim for a long time, apparently legally, but the last election before the take-over was controversial.) Similar sitation applies to allegations of interference in Nepal, esepcially when there are allegations of a blockade. I am sorry that I don't have any references handy, but I can dig them up if it is important. (Mind you that non-interference in other country's affairs is a core principle of India's foreign policy from the days of Jawaharlal Nehru.) -- Kautilya3 (talk) 09:37, 14 January 2018 (UTC)
Interesting. That would seem to run directly opposite to what my searches show for U.S. news media regarded as RS on WP. Any such refs would serve as useful counter-examples, so if you happen across them, great. And thanks for the cite to Nehru’s foreign policy; I see here that he “described the five pillars to be used as a guide for Sino-Indian relations, which were first put forth by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai Called Panchsheel (five restraints), these principles would later serve as the basis of the Non-Aligned Movement. Jawaharlal Nehru was the architect of the Non-Alignment Movement.” Principle #3: “Mutual non-interference in domestic affairs” invokes ‘non-interference’ explicitly.
But my primary interest is to see if any here can identify similar use of the term ‘interference’ by a U.S. (or, if not that, any Western or allied nation) RS reporter to characterize U.S. intervention abroad? Anyone? tia, Humanengr (talk) 18:56, 14 January 2018 (UTC)
Yes, indeed. See also Non-Aligned Movement, of which Nehru was a champion. The Parchsheel agreement did not do much good for India because China still blamed India for CIA's interference in Tibet.[1] This (mis)perception was one of the causes of the Sino-Indian War. Some scholars still believe that India was involved in Tibet. Knowing Nehru, I think it would have been highly unlikely.
The principle of non-interference had its roots in the anti-colonial movements, because colonialism was nothing but interference in the extreme. So, the former colonies would appreciate the worth of non-interference. The former colonial powers probably think it is a yawn. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 07:38, 15 January 2018 (UTC)


  1. ^ Fravel, M. Taylor (2008), Strong Borders, Secure Nation: Cooperation and Conflict in China's Territorial Disputes, Princeton University Press, p. 81, ISBN 1-4008-2887-2 
And they continue to yawn while effectively pursuing similar ends under the heading of ‘foreign intervention’ (a neutral or positive term) rather than labeling it ‘interference’ (a more negative term). (Thx for the various details re Soviet, China, Tibet, India, CIA; that all rings bells.) Humanengr (talk) 10:23, 15 January 2018 (UTC)

Please remember that the question asked is not: “Did country X interfere in country Y?” ... but “Did the media of country X use the term “interfere” when talking about what X was doing?” Most media would use more positive sounding terms if they approve of what X is doing... and would only use “interfere” if they disapprove. So... you would have to look at opposition media for the usage. Blueboar (talk) 12:13, 15 January 2018 (UTC)

Thx, Blueboar, and you’re exactly on point that the question is “Did the media of country X use the term ‘interfere’ when talking about what X was doing?”. Also thank you for the phrasing “if they approve” and “if they disapprove”. Using that, imagine two situations: 1) nation A takes action in nation B, and 2) nation C takes action in nation A. Media in nation A overwhelmingly approve #1 and characterize it as ‘intervention’ and disapprove #2 as ‘interference’. Just checking that makes sense before proceeding further. Humanengr (talk) 16:28, 15 January 2018 (UTC)
Well, "intervention" does not necessarily indicate approval... but "interference" almost always indicates disapproval. I would suggest you explore media reports from the late 1960s regarding the US involvement in Vietnam... I doubt many US media outlets would have used "interference" in the early 1960s (when involvement was generally approved of in the US). However, by the late 1960s or 1970s attitudes had changed, and the chance that an outlet used "interference" goes way up. Do I know of a specific instance of the word being used? No... but I would be surprised if no one used it. Blueboar (talk) 17:58, 15 January 2018 (UTC)
Basically agree re ‘intervention’ and ‘interference’; the former typically neutral or positive, the latter negative. Also, thx for enunciating the temporal element.
Backing up a step, I’m realizing I should amend the § title to “National bias in WP RS re foreign ‘intervention’”. I struggled with the title as it is a compound topic, bringing in effects of national bias in news media, WP criteria for identifying media as RS, and weighing of RS for use. Your statement of the question captures the first part of that, but I wanted to indicate the broader context. Will write after further research. Humanengr (talk) 16:48, 16 January 2018 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────@Blueboar and all, Offered for consideration:

A WP search for <"Russia interfered" OR "Russian interference”> yields 470 hits, the phrase appears in 3 as an article title; in many of the news media sources cited therein; and in the title of a WP ’Sister Project”, … . The phrase is freely used by U.S. reporters and editors to describe Russian actions.

In contrast, a WP search for <"America interfered" OR "American interference" OR "U.S. interfered" OR "U.S. interference”> yields 61 hits. In 0 of those 61 does the phrase appear with a supporting citation of a U.S. reporter using that phrase to characterize U.S. actions. Where it does appear, it is used, e.g., to characterize foreign perceptions of U.S. actions; with citation not to news media but to a book or an academic work; or without citation to a source.

(A search for <Vietnam “American interference”> yielded 5 hits, one of which was relevant. The mention was, again, that of foreign perception of U.S. actions.)

For further context, note that, per Foreign electoral intervention,

A 2016 study by Dov Levin found that, among 938 global elections examined, [fn: These covered the period between 1946 and 2000, and included 148 countries, all with populations above 100,000.] the United States and Russia [fn: including the former Soviet Union] combined had involved themselves in about one out of nine (117), with the majority of those (68%) being through covert, rather than overt, actions. The same study found that "on average, an electoral intervention in favor of one side contesting the election will increase its vote share by about 3 percent," an effect large enough to have potentially changed the results in seven out of 14 U.S. presidential elections occurring after 1960.[cite; fn: This is, as the author points out, "Assuming, of course, a similar shift in the relevant swing states and, accordingly, the electoral college." Others cites have argued that foreign electoral intervention is likely to have the opposite effect.] According to the study, the U.S. intervened in 81 foreign elections between 1946 and 2000, while the Soviet Union or Russia intervened in 36.[cite to Levin]

Further searches welcome.

To what does anyone attribute the above discrepancy between “Russian interference” and “American interference” in WP? Humanengr (talk) 02:52, 17 January 2018 (UTC)

People not creating articles.Slatersteven (talk) 15:56, 17 January 2018 (UTC)
And to what do you attribute the dearth of U.S. news media articles that characterize U.S. ‘interference’ as such? Humanengr (talk) 02:05, 9 February 2018 (UTC)
@Slatersteven, How can users create articles that indicate the U.S. ‘interfered’ when so-called ‘Reliable Sources’ characterize U.S. actions as ‘intervention’ rather than ‘interference’? Humanengr (talk) 21:34, 11 March 2018 (UTC)
Which sources, what exactly are you talking about?Slatersteven (talk) 22:03, 11 March 2018 (UTC)
The point is that, AFAICS, there are -no- U.S. news media cited in WP that refer to U.S. actions in other nations as ‘interference’ rather than ‘intervention’. As I said above:

a WP search for <"America interfered" OR "American interference" OR "U.S. interfered" OR "U.S. interference”> yields 61 hits. In 0 of those 61 does the phrase appear with a supporting citation of a U.S. reporter using that phrase to characterize U.S. actions.

Can you find any instances where U.S. news media are cited in WP to refer to U.S. actions in other nations as ‘interference’ rather than ‘intervention’? Humanengr (talk) 01:50, 12 March 2018 (UTC)
@Slatersteven, Does that clarify? Humanengr (talk) 16:54, 12 March 2018 (UTC)
@Slatersteven or anyone, Do you dispute that Russian actions are consistently characterized in WP as ‘interference’ whereas analogous U.S. actions are not? Humanengr (talk) 21:47, 13 March 2018 (UTC)
It is not what we say but what the sources say that matters. --Emir of Wikipedia (talk) 21:53, 13 March 2018 (UTC)
Exactly...and so what. RS in each language will tend to have a national bias. The Russian Wikipedia no doubt has the opposite bias because it uses Russian sources. So what? Just document what RS say. -- BullRangifer (talk) PingMe 21:57, 13 March 2018 (UTC)
The 'so what' is that it needlessly fractionates 'RS' as a standard and promotes conflict. Who does that serve? Humanengr (talk) 05:56, 17 March 2018 (UTC)
@BullRangifer, re: “RS in each language” — right, ‘WP:RS’ is not a WP designation, but rather a WP-en, WP-ru, … designation. To label it as WP:RS is misleading. Thoughts? Humanengr (talk) 05:01, 25 March 2018 (UTC)
 ??? Is this still alive? After my "so what", I thought you'd get the point, but I guess this really means something to you, but I'm not sure what you want to do with it, if and when you get it figured out.
I could edit in the Scandinavian language Wikipedias, besides this English version, but I assume that the standards for what are RS follow similar principles. I haven't noticed any difference. I'm speaking of the language in the source, not just the particular country's wiki. (The RS used in each language's wiki will tend to be sources written in that language, with few exceptions.) Therefore, your comment "To label it as WP:RS is misleading." is confusing to me. What on earth are you talking about? All along, since the beginning of this section, all who commented here have been using the term RS to mean the policy WP:RS. Are you now referring to something else? -- BullRangifer (talk) PingMe 05:21, 25 March 2018 (UTC)
Your assumption — “the standards for what are RS follow similar standards” — is incorrect. RS on WP-ru includes TASS per Russian Wikipedia Authoritative sources. The standards for inclusion as RS differ. Humanengr (talk) 18:17, 25 March 2018 (UTC)
But the English Wikipedia also considers TASS a RS, but recognizes it is under the control of Putin, and thus far from neutral. American and British news media may have their biases, but they are not under government control, with the exception of Trump's channel Real News Update. (Trump controls it, but Fox News controls Trump's POV.) TASS is thus, as with many RS, reliable for its own POV. This is just a good example of how national bias exists, and how that bias is affected by many societal and political factors. With TASS, RT, and Sputnik, we're dealing with Russian propaganda and misinformation, which goes beyond mere national bias. Their actual "reliability" is questioned by those outside Russia, while Russians have little choice but to accept them, and not voice disagreement too loudly. -- BullRangifer (talk) PingMe 21:11, 25 March 2018 (UTC)
[Cont’d in new section below] Humanengr (talk) 20:19, 25 March 2018 (UTC)
[Should’ve asked before starting new section; apologies] Perhaps I missed it, but I didn’t see reference in WP policy, guideline, essay pages to considering TASS as RS or for characterization as “far from neutral”, “propaganda”, and “misinformation”. Or is that from article or talk pages? Just curious as to your sources. Humanengr (talk) 01:34, 27 March 2018 (UTC)
LOL! That's national bias, experience, and then western intelligence agencies. TASS is a RS for its own opinions, and some of the time also for general news. When it comes to politics and east/west relations, they only print what Putin, FSB, and GRU allow. Unlike most western European nations and allies, Russia does not have a free press. -- BullRangifer (talk) PingMe 03:24, 27 March 2018 (UTC)
Humanengr, replying to your deleted comment, yes, we do have articles which address the subject of press freedom in Russia. They are filled with RS for further research: Media freedom in Russia and List of journalists killed in Russia. In 2013 Russia ranked 148th out of 179 countries in the Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders. In 2015 Freedom House report Russia got score of 83 (100 being the worst), mostly because of new laws introduced in 2014 that further extended the state control over mass-media. -- BullRangifer (talk) PingMe 20:45, 27 March 2018 (UTC)
Thx for responding to my question. (Undeleted here: Do you have a reference in WP policy, guideline, or essay pages for ‘free press’?) That clarification might prove helpful later. For now, I’ll continue below. Humanengr (talk) 06:39, 28 March 2018 (UTC)

See WP:PRESERVEBIAS (essay). -- BullRangifer (talk) PingMe 21:59, 13 March 2018 (UTC)

Should such gross bias be indicated or remain hidden? Humanengr (talk) 06:22, 14 March 2018 (UTC)
It would violate NPOV to interject editorial opinion or to hide it through censorship. Editors are supposed to remain neutral and faithfully document what RS say. Direct quotes are obviously what they are, and paraphrases should not deviate from a quote by whitewashing out any bias. It should be preserved. A lot of what we do here involves documenting bias, without taking sides. It is editors, not sources and content, which must be unbiased and neutral. -- BullRangifer (talk) PingMe 15:18, 14 March 2018 (UTC)
Per WP:PRESERVEBIAS: "This does not mean that no attempt should ever be made to rectify gross imbalance …". We seem to agree there is persistent national bias. To expect readers to accept such biased characterizations — when presented persistently — as 'verified' much less 'true' seems to be asking a lot. Humanengr (talk) 21:13, 14 March 2018 (UTC)
Yes, that type of bias exists, cannot be avoided, and it is our job to document it, not neuter it, hide it, censor it, or even point it out (with our own comments or way of including it). That bias just might be the correct POV, because the correct POV is rarely in the middle. It's nearly always somewhere off-center. BUT, whether it's true or the correct POV or not is not our concern. We document all POV.
Each country, culture, and language will tend to have its own biases, ways of looking at things, and ways of expressing biases (IOW its view of what is true). Sometimes those biases are built right into the language. It is not our business to interfere in that. We must remain neutral and simply document it. We literally document a worldview. At the English Wikipedia, we document the worldview as presented primarily in English language sources, although no wiki is bound to only use their own language sources. We are allowed to translate and use sources from other languages.
Regarding "as 'verified' much less 'true'", we must prioritize "verifiability, not truth". That phrase used to be part of policy, and is still a fundamentally important concept to understand. There is an essay about it: [[WP:VNT. Our job as editors is not to allow our own ideas of truth (which are subjective) to influence our editing. We are not here to "right great wrongs". See the policy about that: WP:RGW. -- BullRangifer (talk) PingMe 02:39, 15 March 2018 (UTC)
Re your 2nd para: A claim of 'verifiable' is quite an overreach when 'worldviews' conflict across 'countries, cultures, and languages'. 'Reliability' is certainly not assured. For such cases, the guidance in WP:NEWSORG and WP:SOURCE is inadequate. (Aside: Do you have a reference for the 'worldviews' term in WP policies, … ?) Humanengr (talk) 19:33, 16 March 2018 (UTC)

"Interference" to some extent implies not only the action but success at it. For all of these cases, why not just neutral words that still convey the information? E.G "Efforts to influence".North8000 (talk) 15:56, 14 March 2018 (UTC)

Because that would violate NPOV. We must preserve the meaning, bias, and intent of our sources. Articles are not OUR articles. We can use our own websites, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter for that. No, our job is to neutrally present biased content, warts and all. We aren't allowed to remove the warts first or put make-up on them. We must present content accurately to readers, without the content being affected by our filters. -- BullRangifer (talk) PingMe 02:39, 15 March 2018 (UTC)

@BullRangifer, You acknowledged that “American and British news media may have their biases”. The problem is that articles on international disputes do not acknowledge that bias and readers are left unaware. How do we address that? Humanengr (talk) 02:08, 11 June 2018 (UTC)

Seriously? You're still obsessing over this? Just get over it. It's part of life. English language sources will tend to have their biases; Russian sources will have their biases; Arabic sources will have theirs. That means there will be contradictory information between sources and the Wikipedias in each language. For really serious matters, like lying about factual matters, then use fact checkers. English language fact checkers are objective enough so their bias is so much toward truth thay they openly call Trump a liar. You won't find Russian fact checkers getting away with that, and if Trump remains in power much longer, American fact checkers won't be allowed to serve truth to that degree much longer either. Relish this fact and use those fact checkers. They surpass and transcend these national/language/cultural biases. Thanks to them, especially on the news sources which Trump calls "fake news", there you will come closer to truth than anywhere else on earth. The sources he likes disdain fact checkers. During the presidential campaign Trump even warned not to trust fact checkers. Only dishonest people do that. That's my last on this subject. Get over it. Life goes on. Use fact checkers. That's the only way to get closer to truth. -- BullRangifer (talk) PingMe 05:37, 11 June 2018 (UTC)
Re: “English language sources will tend to have their biases; Russian sources will have their biases; Arabic sources will have theirs. That means there will be contradictory information between sources and the Wikipedias in each language.” Why do you want to hide the existence of such contradictory information? Shouldn’t an encyclopedia that ostensibly offers the world’s knowledge want to highlight the existence of such differences in order to further a more common global understanding? What gain is there to reinforcing biases by constructing each language version as an echo chamber? Why not have, say, a template at the top of all articles involving an ongoing international dispute identifying it as such? Humanengr (talk) 06:16, 11 June 2018 (UTC)
Who benefits from 'contradictory information’? Anybody other than those who want to sow discord and support military tension or conflict? Humanengr (talk) 16:34, 26 June 2018 (UTC)
This is a NPOV-related issue, so it belongs on another noticeboard. NPOV is based on a rationale of proportional representation, so, hypothetically, if the body of RSs on a topic has a certain bias, then WP should mirror that bias to comply with NPOV. We're here to reflect RSs, not to "debias" them. It may be that the body of RSs published in one country is more substantial than that in another country, based on international reputation of the publishers and authors -- that's another NPOV factor. In this particular case, I'm not sure there's a problem of nationalistic bias in RSs. Major news outlets may be subject to it, but there are also reputable academics and journalists in the US and UK who have written about this topic without a "patriotic" slant. In fact, I would venture that most historical studies on US interventions probably take care not to sugarcoat its actions. Eperoton (talk) 04:30, 27 June 2018 (UTC)
@Eperoton Thx for your thoughts and also for your noticeboard suggestion; will consider. Follow-up q on your other comments: It seems we agree it is reasonable to presume news media have nationalistic bias, historical sources less so. Correct? Humanengr (talk) 06:28, 6 July 2018 (UTC)
Humanengr That has been a tendency I personal observed, but I don't think we can edit based on such an assumption. Rather, we should seek to reflect a balance of different perspectives found in RSs based on the WP:NPOV notion of prominence, which favors majority views over minority views but also more authoritative sources over less authoritative sources. For example, if we find different analyses of a historical event in a newspaper article and a peer-reviewed academic publication, the latter view should get more prominence. On the other hand, if we find one perspective in a broad swath of news media and another one in one academic publication, that's a trickier case to handle. If it's a prominent source, we should present both those views, but there's no simple formula on how to do that in the most policy-compliant way. Eperoton (talk) 13:12, 8 July 2018 (UTC)

WP:RS is a misleading designation[edit]

[Picking up on this issue as discussed above]

The fact that RS standards vary between language editions, as indicated in the example above, shows that identifying the WP-en RS standard as ‘WP:RS’ misleadingly presents it as a global WP standard rather than a WP-en standard. This subsection focuses on the misleading nature of that shortcut identifier. Humanengr (talk) 20:19, 25 March 2018 (UTC)

I don't see you as making any point not assumed already (you're just pointing it out). Is this really a "problem"? Do you have a better suggestion? -- BullRangifer (talk) PingMe 21:17, 25 March 2018 (UTC)
Yes, is pretty enwp-centric... Nearly none of the policies mention that they're enwp policies, and don't apply to other Wikipedia projects! Misleading! Bright☀ 17:12, 26 March 2018 (UTC)
But that is the fault of those who don't know that. doesn't make such a claim, so it's incorrect to assume it, and yet there will still be many similarities. Each has its own version of RS and NPOV. National bias will also affect how local editors word their policies. -- BullRangifer (talk) PingMe 03:28, 27 March 2018 (UTC)
I was being sarcastic. Bright☀ 09:11, 30 March 2018 (UTC)
Oh! Thanks for the clarification. -- BullRangifer (talk) PingMe 14:46, 30 March 2018 (UTC)

I really think this forum should be used for specific cases of specific edits citing specific sources in specific articles. To discuss general philosophies is above our pay-grade, or if really necessary, something for discussion on a policy page. Personally I think the simplest way to approach the problem on WP is to say that we summarize what the best sources we can find say, and if we find no decent sources we say nothing. The sources do not have to be neutral or on any particular side. It tends to be easiest to try doing this first and then discuss difficult cases as specific cases. (Apparently when it comes down to working on something practical, people apparently agree about a lot of things. When it comes to deciding on general policies they never do.)--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 21:04, 27 March 2018 (UTC)

@Andrew Lancaster: The Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard is for “posting questions regarding whether particular sources are reliable in context.” Humanengr (talk) 06:47, 28 March 2018 (UTC)
Note the "particular" and the "in context". There are far too many generalized discussions now, and these rarely achieve anything. Wikipedia is not a forum for philosophical discussions.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 09:06, 28 March 2018 (UTC)
Ah. Now I see what you mean. Yes, it seems I wrongly thought this discussion was on that forum! However, while that may make my wording look silly, I still think my point is relevant. I do not think WP wins anything by having very specifically defined and generalized rules, and I think the RSN approach is the right one for WP generally: case by case. We are nowhere near a level of perfection where for example it becomes realistic to expect that all language versions have similar opinions, not only for controversial subjects but even for surprisingly simple ones. In that context I think the differences between WP versions can even be helpful.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 09:17, 28 March 2018 (UTC)
@Andrew Lancaster, Assuming that the differences can be helpful, have you seen the differences being highlighted in WP? Humanengr (talk) 01:25, 12 April 2018 (UTC)

Seeking an indication of NPOV[edit]

Can anyone identify -any- action by the U.S. on any of the following or related pages — Foreign interventions by the United States or United States involvement in regime change or Foreign electoral intervention or Interventionism (politics)#Foreign_interventionism — where news media considered as RS per WP-en characterize the U.S. action as 'interference'? Humanengr (talk) 01:32, 23 April 2018 (UTC)

Right, those are the only ones I found. Note that all 3 are distantly historical, drawing on Dov Levin’s journal article that addresses Russian and U.S. electoral intervention from 1946-2000.
No WP articles cite any contemporaneous RS to portray U.S. intervention as 'interference'.
Yet we have near uniform characterization of Russian actions as ‘interference’.
Further, the Tharoor article states: "While the days of its worst behavior are long behind it, the United States does have a well-documented history of interfering and sometimes interrupting the workings of democracies elsewhere."
On what basis is the underlined claim made? Humanengr (talk) 01:21, 6 May 2018 (UTC)
For disputes between the U.S. and its opponents, by what measure are U.S. news media any less propaganda or misinformation (BullRangifer's terms above) than those of opponents? Humanengr (talk) 01:00, 16 May 2018 (UTC)
There's a loaded question if there ever was one. The answer is, depending on the context, specifically meaning of "the U.S. and its opponents" and "U.S. news media". If the dispute is between the governments, then government-controlled media is a directly involved party, while media that happens to be published in one of the countries, but is not government-controlled is less involved. If the dispute involves all facets of a society - say WWII - then the lines blur. But I'm guessing you're talking about the Syrian Civil War, and why RT (TV network) and TASS are not considered reliable; well, because the Russian government is directly involved in the war, and TASS is directly owned by the Russian government, and RT is widely considered to be controlled by the Russian government. The extent to which the U.S. Government is directly involved is debatable, and in any case the New York Times, etc., are not directly controlled by the U.S. Government. --GRuban (talk) 14:58, 23 May 2018 (UTC)
Thx; to clarify if you care to answer: re ‘loaded question’, how would you express the ‘controversial or unjustified assumption‘; re ‘extent to which’, does that include ‘whether’? Humanengr (talk) 10:16, 25 May 2018 (UTC)
Er ... what? Sorry, I didn't understand that question. --GRuban (talk) 19:54, 25 May 2018 (UTC)
[re our prior 2 posts, we can set that aside for now.]
Presenting information using loaded language is propaganda. Using negative terms (e.g., ‘interference’) to describe A’s actions while using neutral or positive terms (e.g., ‘intervention’) to describe analogous B’s actions is loaded language, hence propaganda.
Adding qualifiers to classify actions by ‘direct involvement’, ‘extent of involvement’, etc., doesn’t change that. It’s still loaded language.
Those qualifiers are at best distractions from the base issue — description in negative vs neutral or positive terms.
Western media use the former to characterize Russia actions but -never- characterize U.S. actions in those terms. This is inappropriate bias for an encyclopedia ostensibly trying to capture the ‘world’s knowledge’.
(I can address each of your ‘qualifiers’ (my term) if needed, but wanted to address in summary first.) Humanengr (talk) 14:25, 26 May 2018 (UTC)

WP:RS is a misleading designation? Y'all have been out in the real world too long[edit]

Judging from the above discussion, many folks have been out in the real world too long. :-) That's where "reliable" source means reliable. That would mean objectivity and expertise on the topic/text in question.....two things that have been kept out of Wikipedia reliable source policies and guidelines, where "reliable" just means having other trappings. A tongue-in-cheek way of saying that we should start to introduce those things, and this guideline would be a good place to start that. I tried it on a small scale a few months back and got reverted. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 21:01, 27 June 2018 (UTC)

Reliable doesn't have completely different meaning. The WP policies simply define the best proxy for reliability in the real world. Since WP is an open system with unknown authors such a proxy is necessary.--Kmhkmh (talk) 18:39, 8 July 2018 (UTC)

Fact checking[edit]

Wikipedia employs no systematic mechanism for fact checking or accuracy -> Wikipedia currently employs no systematic mechanism for fact checking or accuracy. Paper encyclopedias had trusted committees, and those committees had many scientists in many fields and were usually headed by a philosopher or a grammarian to check accuracy. As Wikipedia editors are highly distributed and has no one trusted, we need a systematic process. Wikipedia, as an encyclopedia, cannot perform primary original research, but sometimes, primary sources conflict so much that a reconciliation (which is a tertiary research) is needed more than stating "there is no consensus". Hence a need for systematic reconciliation process. Something like systematic literature review but applied to a tertiary source. An automated rule-based one would be even more preferable as it would be auditable. Erkinalp9035 (talk) 14:05, 29 May 2018 (UTC)

It would also allow to simplify the inclusion criteria in most subjects into "systematically audited k-fold n-ary attestation (k and n may vary among subjects) from reliable sources", helping us include more information but still closer to the truth. Erkinalp9035 (talk) 08:17, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
@Erkinalp9035: When sources conflict, editors need to weigh their reliability and try to give them due weight accordingly. Sometimes, we might even decide some sources are just wrong, and delete these claims or move them to a footnote. For example, I did this at Acts of Thaddeus#Authorship when a bunch of sources from reputable publishers made erroneous claims. If you're suggesting a more formalized process for making these judgments, then I would suggest that you think this through and make a more specific proposal. However, if by "reconciliation" you mean actively trying to make sense of how both sources can be true, then that's WP:SYNTH, and I strongly agree with the guidelines that that is out of the scope of what is appropriate for an encyclopedia editor. Daask (talk) 21:53, 4 June 2018 (UTC)
@Daask: I propose a completely formal algorithm for k-fold n-ary attestation, which I would name "mechanical historian". To include any conclusion mentioned in a source:
  1. Find k sources of n-ary nature where n is not categorically decided but formally defined by its shortest citation distance to original research or an event (theses and well-sourced news or reports are primary in this system). Citation cycles are removed in source consideration. Non-citing sources are automatically considered questionable and subject to the current rule, i.e. only to be used for facts about itself. Remaining sources which of which any citations do not eventually lead to a event or original research are automatically disqualified as made-up.
  2. Mechanically compare all pairs of these k sources, and note the number of conflicting pairs (for a given fact, slightest disagreement or one-sided non-statement is considered conflict for this purpose, two-sided non-statement is excluded from this calculation) for said conclusion, which I would call φ. Number of considered pairs is σ.
  3. Truthiness ڪ=max(0,div(σ-kth_root(k,2*φ)-1;(σ+k+1)))^n is the score we want (notice it is damped by number of the sources. This is because further sources are more prone to misstatement.)
  4. Only conclusions those can be included are whose kaf scores are greater than a threshold (which could vary according to the field just like k and n) are considered reliable or questionable, anything below it is considered unreliable.
  5. A reliable fact can be included by itself without mentioning alternate conclusions, but its full citation chain needs to be included.
  6. A fact in "factually questionable" truthiness can be included if and only if no reliable conclusions exist, but all of the questionable conclusions have to be included together and with their full citation chains.
  7. Unreliable conclusions cannot be included at all, even if it is about itself, only exception is statement of lack of consensus when no reliable or questionable conclusions exist.
We now have fact-level reliability rather than source-level and the procedure is simplified compared to current notability and reliability guidelines.
Anything passing this tough test as "reliable" is synthesis-safe (i.e. can freely be combined with one another for further conclusion as long as logical rules are followed faithfully), and can be used in further non-primary research in addition to be included into Wikipedia.
Kaf score represents a probabilistic truthiness, and is formulated in a way it is more than or equal to 0, but always less than 1 because nothing can be trusted in an absolute certainty.
It completes in quadratic time per fact, cubic time per article. This is also easily implementable on a bot except for the natural language processing hurdle.
The proposed inclusion criteria is rigorous enough to make Wikipedia a well-formed secondary-source (not the formal definition in the algorithm, but in the historian's sense) encyclopedia without including subjective judgment,  as it is originally intended . "
Applicability and implementation: Implementation of this proposal requires re-scanning of all articles in the project. Erkinalp9035 (talk) 14:08, 5 June 2018 (UTC)
ڪ is for k-t-b which means "to write" in Arabic. Erkinalp9035 (talk) 09:50, 7 June 2018 (UTC)
@Erkinalp9035: I would strongly oppose this proposal and consider it substantially inferior to current guidelines. Secondarily, I also consider it impossible to implement. Issues:
  1. Primary source material is frequently mixed with analysis.
  2. Analysis material doesn't always cite all the primary material being discussed.
  3. Some writers are more authoritative than others; If you're trying to do this automatically, I would expect some sort of weighting by journal impact factor, author h-index, and publisher reputation.
  4. The natural language processing hurdle is not trivial.
  5. Wikipedia isn't about truth, it's about reporting on what reliable sources say.
I don't think the quality of sources can be adequately assessed by machines. What you describe sounds like it could be a useful tool to assist editors in making judgments. I continue to oppose the synthesis you describe as a form of original research we should never allow on Wikipedia.
Ultimately, I think you're dreaming of a tool that is far from trivial to create, and of questionable use to Wikipedia, as you are proposing different criteria than what we use here. Daask (talk) 15:26, 11 June 2018 (UTC)
@Daask: The proposed guideline would evaluate the sources we currently evaluate "questionable" as unreliable (made-up). "The slightest disagreement counts as conflict" is to avoid improper synthesis, to replace current policy of "... kinds of sources are reliable" (which is very long and frequently leads to WP:IAR, primary purpose of this proposal is reduce instances we need to resort to WP:IAR and avoid drifting the encyclopedia into compendium). If you have a proposal to implement fact-level reliability check without getting into NLP hurdle, go propose. "Analysis material doesn't always cite all the primary material being discussed." They do in natural sciences, applied sciences, linguistics and history (proposed policy is modelled after the method of literary history). Political and behavioral sciences may have different techniques. "Some writers are more authoritative than others" Proposed procedure abolishes it and replaces by "citation distance", h-index and journal impact factor are backlink-dependent, novelty dependent and nonexistent outside scientific literature therefore unusable for historical research which needs to refer to primary or secondary sources in many context. An encyclopedia is an historical artifact, after all. Erkinalp9035 (talk) 12:45, 12 June 2018 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 18 June 2018[edit] (talk) 15:16, 18 June 2018 (UTC)
 Not done: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format and provide a reliable source if appropriate. -- The Voidwalker Whispers 16:27, 18 June 2018 (UTC)

Source rating list?[edit]

Is there some list of sources which have been evaluated and known to be RS or not? I know about WP:DAILYMAIL, but that's just one extreme case. Wikipedia:Reliable sources checklist tells you how to evaluate, but it would still be useful to record the results of previous research. Does such a list exist and I just haven't found it yet? -- RoySmith (talk) 15:20, 19 June 2018 (UTC)

The Daily Caller suddenly a RS?[edit]

I read a rather surprising claim here:

  • "... Daily Caller is part of the same fact-checking network relied on by Google and Facebook.[1]..."

While it's apparently possible for an unreliable and extremely partisan site like The Daily Caller to have a special site like for fact checking that somehow got approved by the Poynter Institute, I don't find any confirmation on the Poynter website that The Daily Caller itself is suddenly a reliable site. Can anyone else provide more information about this claim? Is this just a conflation of two sites and attempt to give TDC more credit than is due? -- BullRangifer (talk) PingMe 23:40, 28 June 2018 (UTC)

We are neither google nor facebook, what they use for fact checking or reliable sources is there business not ours. By our standards the daily caller is not an RS and suspect some other publications that facebook and google might use are neither. In fact afaik google is using WP for fact checking and to identify/combat fake news. However from our perspective WP is anything but a RS.--Kmhkmh (talk) 23:49, 28 June 2018 (UTC)
Dear Colleague BullRangifer. First off, yours is an example how fake news are spread. You cite the statement from a dubious wikipedian, who (a) cites the PR babble of TDM and (b) actually misstates what it said. Good thing that we stop it right here in wikipedia:-) Your guess about conflation is correct and verifiable from sources. No. TDS did not state it is "part of network" It did state that checkyourfact is "part of network". Second, for a source to be RS fact checking is not enough. While the basic fact may be true, the truth may be spun in surprisingly numerous ways. Finally, I second the opinion that we in Wikipedia decide ourselves who is RS and who is not, so TDC cannot suddenly become a RS for us. Staszek Lem (talk) 00:36, 29 June 2018 (UTC)
Bingo. Very well put, and exactly as I have always understood things to be. -- BullRangifer (talk) PingMe 03:00, 29 June 2018 (UTC)
We must also keep in mind WP:USEBYOTHERS. Emir of Wikipedia (talk) 19:22, 9 July 2018 (UTC)

Frequently misinterpreted sourcing policy[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant page elsewhere.

For your reading pleasure or displeasure: Wikipedia:Frequently misinterpreted sourcing policy.

Originated as a WP:Village pump (policy) post, now developed into an essay. Reception has been uniformly positive so far, though it's a bit of a mix of a list of issues and recommendations of what to do about them. I might split off the latter material to a userspace page at some point, especially if a key boldfaced item gets resolved.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  03:01, 1 July 2018 (UTC)

You start with "This is a list of key points of frequently misinterpreted sourcing policy" but what you write is not the misinterpretation but rather how you think the interpretation should be. It took me a couple of minutes to figure that out, and even to figure out that the section headings are your positive statements and not a summary of misinterpretations. You could be clearer about that. About the content, I think you make too much of the primary/secondary classification, which I have always thought does more harm than good. On the other hand, I like the "disruptive editing" section very much. I also think AE should be less quick in dismissing complaints as being "merely content disputes" when they are actually about wilful misrepresentation of sources and similar sins. Zerotalk 03:34, 1 July 2018 (UTC)
When I'm glancing over this i'm sure whether it removes misinterpretations or creates some. In particular the formal classification or distinction between primary, secondary and tertiary sources is imho problematic and can be a bit misleading. A much higher emphasis should be given to reputation and quality of source rather than formal primary, secondary and tertiary distinction, in particular with regard to secondary and tertiary sources.--Kmhkmh (talk) 18:30, 1 July 2018 (UTC)

Highly biased list of supposedly unreliable sources included on this page (as a citation)[edit]

Within the section of this policy page titled "Questionable sources," there is a link (citation number 9) to this highly partisan smear piece which claims to somehow be an authoritative source on non-reliable sources: That article links to a Web page that smears reliable American conservative Jewish news sites such as American Thinker, Breitbart, and David Horowitz, yet fails to mention a single left-wing or Islamic fake news site. Mysteriously absent from the list are any unreliable far-left extremist sites like Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times (went from being center-left to far-left within the past decade), Salon, all Vox Media publications (including the The Verge and Polygon), Mic, Now This, Democracy Now!, Truthout, Truthdig, The Nation, or The Intercept. There is also no mention of any Islamist anti-Semitic hate sites posing as news sites such as Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss, and Al Jazeera. The far-left polemical site AlterNet does make the list, but it erroneously claims the notoriously anti-Semitic activist site is "reliable." Counterpunch, another far-left anti-Semitic hate site that espouses Marxist and communist views, is merely called "political," while the Daily Caller is smeared as being political, clickbait, and having an extremist bias. The author even says in the bottom of her list that she regularly reads Truth-Out to get her news. Truth-Out is a far-left blog with a strongly anti-Semitic and anti-American bias that promotes 9/11 conspiracy theories. Surely a biased and spun list compiled by some random Marxist professor of communications whom a notoriously left-wing lifestyle magazine happened to mention should not be included in this highly important policy page for Wikipedia, an encyclopedia that supposedly advocates for a neutral point of view. You wouldn't trust a list compiled by a neo-Nazi, would you? Well, Marxism is just as racist and just as evil.--Riferzippy (talk) 06:57, 11 July 2018 (UTC)

WP:OTHERSTUFF exists. Fifelfoo (talk) 08:57, 11 July 2018 (UTC)

Definition of a source[edit]

Section "Definition of a source", does not provide an accurate definition of what a source is. Is a promoting site such as or a source? If so, what kind of source is it? Primary, secondary or tertiary? What about the site of a village, providing non sourced historical info that includes trivialities.Τζερόνυμο (talk) 11:14, 11 July 2018 (UTC)

Reading between your lines, I think that you may be starting in the middle of this issue. Only material from a reliable source can be included in English Wikipedia. "Reliable source" is a defined term which only has a slight relationship to what that term might mean in plain English. The actual definition of the term is not found in this guideline, but in the Verifiability policy beginning here and continuing through the following "Sources that are usually not reliable" section. At root, however, the definition of a reliable source is "reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy" and which are not, in most cases, self-published sources. Those terms are all discussed in some detail in the Verifiability policy and then are further explained in this guideline. If, after reading those you have questions about particular sources, you should ask them at the reliable sources noticeboard, as questions about particular sources are not appropriate on this talk page (which is for discussing improvements to this guideline). Regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 16:22, 11 July 2018 (UTC)

TransporterMan, thanks for bothering to answer my question. It seems I was not understood correctly. I totally agree with verifiability policy and WP:Sources. My question is on a slightly different topic. What is the definition of a source? Why don't we have one? Problem with not having a definition is that one might claim that anything that we read/hear is a source. Is that the case? Is everything a source? Is a post in a random forum a source, albeit an unreliable source or it is not a source at all. Cheers Τζερόνυμο (talk) 20:59, 11 July 2018 (UTC)

All those things are, indeed, sources, just not reliable sources (and thus not usable here). Websites such as you mentioned in your original post are sources, but may or may not be reliable sources, depending on reliability. Be aware that in discussions here editors often just say "source" - "that's not an acceptable source" - with the understanding that they mean an acceptable reliable source. Regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 22:51, 11 July 2018 (UTC)

Section "Definition of a source", does not provide an accurate definition Huh????

The word "source" when citing sources on Wikipedia has three related meanings:
The piece of work itself (the article, book)
The creator of the work (the writer, journalist)
The publisher of the work (for example, Random House or Cambridge University Press)

Please explain what is inaccurate here? So, is a publisher hence a source Staszek Lem (talk) 23:57, 11 July 2018 (UTC)

"Source" is also used by some editors to refer to the host of the work (website), whether or not it had anything to do with the original creation/editing/publishing. In context people will often distinguish then between the "source" and the "original source", which can just get darn confusing if there is a simultaneous debate over the original source of a piece of information found in a particular source. Someguy1221 (talk) 00:03, 12 July 2018 (UTC)
Please let us not increase confusion with source types. A webhost is either a media or a publisher. In it, a webpage or hyperlinked collection of webpages is a piece of work. And of course, someone wrote this piece of work. The "original source" is original source, which is not easy to track in case of gossip, copycat reposting or plagiarism. Of course, it is often important to have "original source", e.g., if there is a doubt in transmission via secondary sources, the "chain of evidence", so to say. In particular, one of criteria for reliability of secondary sources is whether they provide the sources of information processed in them. Staszek Lem (talk) 00:12, 12 July 2018 (UTC)
If anything worth splitting hairs is to distinguish "formal publisher" vs. "creative publisher" or something, the former being essentially a dumb instument for self-publishing, while the latter selects authors, arranges reviews, works works with authors to improve the published material, etc. This distinction is important for Wikipedia because the former ones do not count as reliable sources, or, rather, the reliability measure is shifted to the author. The latter ones are towards the reliability spectrum, depending on editorial policy and bias. Staszek Lem (talk) 00:29, 12 July 2018 (UTC)
The most basic meaning of "source" is "where you got it". The fundamental principle in WP is that editors are not authorities -- you cannot write something just because it is in your head for whatever reason (doing so is WP:OR). You need to fetch the information from somewhere else. The use arises from the question: "What is the source of that content you just added?"
The minimum definition of a source that the community would even start to consider the reliability of, is a "work". We use that term, like it is used in copyright law (see here for example) - something "fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” So, a book, an article, a movie or video, a recording of a dance performance or the written choreography of a dance (but not a dance performance itself! -- this is not "fixed").
A conversation you have with somebody, is not a "work". So no way is it a reliable source. A transcript or recording of a conversation, is a work. It is fixed.
V and RS elaborate what kind of "works" are reliable sources. (it needs to be published somewhere, by somebody with a good reputation, etc)
But basically a source is "where you got it". Jytdog (talk) 00:25, 12 July 2018 (UTC)
Yes, it is a "work" that can be cited in wikipedia. And now it occurs to me that a bit of rewriting is due here, starting from this point:
  • A source is a piece of published work.
  • The reliability of the source is based on the following:
    • Work's own merits, as judged by peer review (how it is cited, how it is reviewed)
    • Author's merits: author's reputation of producing solid, reliable works
    • Publisher's merits: publisher's reputation of producing solid, reliable works by means of author selection and thorough reviewing process
Staszek Lem (talk) 00:37, 12 July 2018 (UTC)
While far from perfect, this gets close (without overcomplicating the issues, I might add).--Bddmagic (talk) 00:45, 12 July 2018 (UTC)
Hah are you sure without complications? The "assesible" part is deeply philosophiocal one, known as the problem of the sound of a tree falling in a forest without anyone to hear it. Staszek Lem (talk) 00:52, 12 July 2018 (UTC)
That "works" for me, Staszek Lem! Jytdog (talk) 01:19, 12 July 2018 (UTC)

Linking something with related meanings, does not define it. [[User:Staszek Lem|Staszek Lem] asked me to point at the inaccuracy. It 's not just a point, but I 'll give it a try. Our working definition is apparently an Extensional. Our definition says ~ has 3 related meanings, where it should state that "~ could have one or more of the following meanings". It is obvious that is not mandatory for Source to have all three meanings simultaneously. Secondly, and most importantly, I would expect in a definition, not to state the meaning(s) of something, but to state what that something is. The problem that arises by the borderless definition we are now using, is best presented by the notion that source means "where you got it". That includes everything. The inclusion of everything diminishes the claim that we are actually having a definition of a source. Sorry for my bad English and thank you for answering.Τζερόνυμο (talk) 07:03, 12 July 2018 (UTC)

Thanks everybody who is contributing to this Τζερόνυμο (talk) 07:03, 12 July 2018 (UTC)

User:Τζερόνυμο what matters in Wikipedia is whether a given reference is a "reliable source" for a given bit of content, and there are reasonably well defined definitions for that. You didn't ask about "reliable source", you asked about just plain "source", so of course the answer is vague. If you have questions about whether a specific reference is a reliable source for a specific bit of content, please bring both of them to WP:RSN.Jytdog (talk) 14:56, 12 July 2018 (UTC)
Jytdog Well seems that we are getting somewhere, we both agree that the definition of a source is vague. I think that causes problems to the definition of "reliable source" but anywayz...Τζερόνυμο (talk) 07:31, 13 July 2018 (UTC)

Google Ngram Viewer[edit]

This page is only for improving this guideline. Questions about individual sources should be asked at the reliable sources noticeboard, please repost your inquiry there or restate it here in the form of a proposal to improve this guideline. — TransporterMan (TALK) 14:52, 12 July 2018 (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.

Is there any way Google Ngram Viewer can, could, or should be used as a reliable source? Or is it considered complete WP:OR? Wolfdog (talk) 13:08, 12 July 2018 (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.