Wikipedia talk:Identifying reliable sources/Archive 13

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Given that this is a guideline, while the controlling policies are WP:V and WP:NOR and possibly WP:NPOV, it is crucial to conform exactly to the policies. Also, in my opinion it is much better to start with a simple version that essentially conveys everything we need, and then possibly expand it where needed. The current version is clear, concise, and leaves the editors leeway to use their common sense and judgment, without introducing ambiguities and possible inconsistencies with the policies. Crum375 17:04, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

But does it say anything? This version falls into several parts:
  • Universal rules, like "Claims of consensus", which should be policy.
  • Justifications of policy, like "Scholarly and non-scholarly sources", which explains to the visiting academic why he are turning down his original research. This should either be policy, where it may be seen, or in a FAQ
  • Long-winded versions of "Always use common sense" as Itayb says above of the extremist paragraph. Why not say it in the short version? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:11, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
And it is extremely important that the writing be of a high quality. Otherwise we will only cause confusion. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:25, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
For example: Assessing the reliability of the sources used in an article allows the editor to caveat the statements made, identifying where weaknesses are present and where there may be alternative positions on a statement, with a qualitative opinion presented on the relative arguments based on the quality of sources. ?
  • Caveat is not an English verb.
  • If it were forced to become one, it would be redundant with "identifying where weaknesses are present and where there may be alternative positions on a statement".
  • How does allow govern "with a qualitative opinion presented on the relative arguments based on the quality of sources."?
  • Are qualitative and quality redundant here? If not, what is the distinction between them and why?
  • And most important: how is this qualitative opinion to be expressed without original research? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:15, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

From thi history "Crum375: This seems the clearest and most concise version - KISS is important in policiies)" This is not a policy it is a guideline. --Philip Baird Shearer 18:04, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

If it's important in policies, why would it not be important in guidelines too, Philip? SlimVirgin (talk) 18:06, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Covenience links[edit]

This section made the following ruling:

Such links are unique in how reliability is applied. It is important to ensure that the copy being linked is a true copy of the original, without any comments, amendations, edits or changes. When the "convenience link" is hosted by a site that is considered reliable on its own, this is relatively easy to assume. However, when such a link is hosted on a less reliable site, the linked version should be checked for accuracy against the original, or not linked at all if such verification is not possible.

This is reasonable. If it is consensus among editors, it belongs at Wikipedia:Convenience links; if it is not, why is this page decreeing it? In either case, why does it belong here? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:23, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

As I remember, before we added this we were fielding a lot of questions about how the reliabe sources guideline applied to convinience links... since we added it, very few questions have been raised... so I would assume it has consensus. The crux of the questions were whether convenience links in general had to fit the criteria for reliable sources or not. Some people stated that we did not need to worry about the reliability of the hosting site... since what was being cited was the original document and not the site. However, it was pointed out that some POV sites have been known to edit or amend what is said in the original (Omitting or adding a paragraph that changed the document to reflect their POV for example). What resulted was a compromise... The idea is that as long as we have checked that the copy hosted at the convenience link is accurate to the original, we can call the copy reliable even if the hosting site would not normally be considered so. If it turns out to be different than the original in some way, then it is not reliable. Blueboar 19:17, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Not so simple[edit]

We need someplace, and this page may not be the best choice, to record decisions on questions like the one I originally came here to ask: Is the OED a reliable source for the etymology of antimony? (See Talk:Antimony; there is an editor who denies it.)

These don't belong in policy; should we have a FAQ? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:46, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

It would depend which OED. If it's the online thing, then no. The complete OED might be a reliable source, but dictionaries are best avoided as source in the view of many editors. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:25, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
It was the Second Edition (1989). But we need some place to compile these decisions, so we don't have to trust to memory. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:41, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Writing again[edit]

I see Jossi has just removed it, but this was about to be my next example:

Assessing the reliability of the sources used in an article allows the editor to caveat the statements made, identifying where weaknesses are present and where there may be alternative positions on a statement, with a qualitative opinion presented on the relative arguments based on the quality of sources.

??? SlimVirgin (talk)

Made no sense to me, so I deleted it. We should strive for guidelines that use language that can be easily understood. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 20:36, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
The usual drastic decision; the intent is clear beneath the goobledygook; not all of it desirable. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:44, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
If the intent is clear, please clarify it, because it really does not make sense to me. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 20:48, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

If an editor knows the reliability of the sources in an article, he can include warnings against poor sources, and note which ones make disputed claims; he can also choose what to say in the article depending on the relative quality of the sources.

I agree it was poorly written, and the last clause of the translation is a guess; but some such is the intent. I am also not proposing the translation as guideline text; I did it in two minutes, and I still disagree with the last clause. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:03, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Your version is just as bad. It doesn't mean anything in practise. Does it mean this: "According to the Guardian, Israeli troops advanced inside Lebanon, but we all know the Guardian is pro-Palestinian so you better check this against other source"? No, clearly it doesn't mean that. So what does it mean? SlimVirgin (talk) 21:08, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
For this example, "Syrian press sources say that Israeli jets attacked civilians in Beirut. Other sources disagree [both Israeli and neutral], saying... The Syrian press is censored and in part owned by the Syrian government, and is widely held to be unrealiable[reliable source, which says it is widely held.]" Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:27, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
But we could only add that if another reliable source had said it in relation to the topic being discussed. So then we're not evaluating the source; other sources are evaluating it. I'm getting the impression that you're very confused about NOR and V, and the relationship between them. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:15, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Why pussyfoot?[edit]

Exactly right. This is the kind of copy editing we need in all the policies and guidelines. Make every word count; and get rid of any that don't. Make sure you're using the most descriptive and clearest words available. No more tortured sentences. No more unnecessary asides. Clarity of writing = clarity of thought, and vice versa. SlimVirgin (talk)

Yes. That is what is needed. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk)

James Arlandson on - reliable source?[edit]

there has been substantial debate over whether the author of this article is considered a reliable source. the debate revolves around this tendentious insert that "Islam codifies and legalizes rape" (academic scholars do not make absurd claims like this, and thus WP:REDFLAG). it must be noted that unlike general scholars of Islam, Mr. Arlandson has no qualification in Islamic studies, and thus has no authority or basis with which to write about Islam. numerous editors, including an admin, opined that neither Arlandson nor are reliable sources for information on Islam, yet two particuar editors seem determined to tout them as such. citing this source, they argue that Arlandson has "a PhD", although they do not specify in what (Christianity? Philosophy?), and that he teaches "Introductory philosophy and World Religions" at a college; and that apparently does have a substantial peer-review process. other arguments which as especially subjective are that his articles are "well written" and "high quality". they also argue that there is no basis upon which to request that a writer possess an academic pedigree in his field of literature for him to be considered a reliable source, or that his works be approved of by the scholarly academic community, which they amazingly resort to deny the existence of. i would like input from established members here in order to put an end to the matter. ITAQALLAH 21:14, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

That is best discussed at article's talk page. If you are "stuck", pursue dispute resolution. At first looks, it seems to me that there is no harm is quoting that article, with the caveat that you attribute that POV to the writer and do not assert that POV as a fact. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 21:35, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
This looks to me like a scholar blogging out of his field. Arlandson teaches at Southern California College, Costa Mesa; his thesis, done at UC-Riverside is now a book: on the position of women in Luke and Acts.The site's FAQ denies any interest in academic qualifications, and does not suggest any form of peer review. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:42, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Yes, agree. It is more an op-ed than anything else, and as such is just the unchecked opinion of an individual. Not worthy of inclusion, IMO. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 21:48, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Were Arlandson a sociologist specializing in Arab societies, would your opinion be any different? Itayb 21:58, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Not necessarily. He is a published author? Has any article of his peer reviewed? Is he considered an authoritative source? Otherwise, it is just an unqualified opinion by someone posting his views in a blog (that by the look of it is quite partisan). ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:00, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, Jossi. Let me see if i understand correctly:
Even eminent scholars don't necessarily write to rigorous academic standards on all occasions, even when they write about a topic which falls withing their field of expertise. Therefore, in order to establish the reliability of a source, it is not enough to point out that the author is an expert in the field. Other aspects of the source should be examined, such as where the source was published (an article published in an academic journal is reliable; a book review published at a periodical of a political party is unreliable), whether it underwent a scholarly editorial overview and the prose's style and tone (formal or informal?, subjective or objective?). It is quite possible, for example, for a scholar to maintain a personal blog, wherein he/she discusses topics which fall within his/her field of expertise. The articles and opinions expressed in that blog should not be preferred over any other individual's expressed opinions in these matters.
Have i got it right? Itayb 22:33, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
How do we establish if an author is an expert in the field? For one, you could check how widely published he/she is. In that context, a blog by a widely published author or scholar could be used as a source. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:41, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Now i'm confused. A source is reliable because it is popular? An individual is an expert in some field if he/she writes articles in this field, which are widely read? Itayb 22:59, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Not widely read. Widely published. It is not the same thing...≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:42, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
He is in fact a published author, and his book is cited (that's how I know what I do); but he is well out of his field here. That his book was once his Ph.D. thesis is commonplace. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:25, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
James's Phd is in "Comparative Literature, emphasizing the analysis of religious texts". I think he is well qualified to comment on Islam. --Matt57 (talkcontribs) 18:02, 20 April 2007 (UTC)
Sounds like another case where changing the wording so it becomes a statement of opinion as opposed to a statment of fact could solve the problem. Blueboar 18:08, 20 April 2007 (UTC)
I agree. We can state that it is James opinion, like we do for other critics of Islam. --Matt57 (talkcontribs) 18:11, 20 April 2007 (UTC)
"James's Phd is in "Comparative Literature, emphasizing the analysis of religious texts" -- could you reliably verify that, please? his thesis is on women in the Bible. ITAQALLAH 18:18, 20 April 2007 (UTC)
If Arlandson's opinion is to be used for criticism only, then, it should be restricted to such sections.Bless sins 22:08, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
Arlandson says that he has personally studied Islam after 9/11. This is not a reliable source. --Aminz 22:11, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
While it certainly would be fair to capture what critics have had to say about the topic of that article, as well as broader treatment of the range of historical and modern interpretation within Islam, Arlandson’s polemic that the Quran codifies and legalizes rape is beyond the pale. He is basically making a modern legal conclusion about a culture 2000 years ago that had practices without parallel to our modern world. For instance, modern Westerners have only the vaguest notion of what “concubinage” was. Furthermore, in his personal research, he apparently has failed to discover that there is a very different Islamic word for what we call “rape” – and it is forbidden by the Quran. I am not a Muslim, nor an apologist for Islam, nor a scholar on the subject, but a little academic “legwork” will turn up this information. Inasmuch as whether Arlandson should be treated as a reliable source because he has a PhD., I’d point out that anyone who cannot handle the primary sources (which in this case requires fluency in Arabic) cannot call themselves a scholar on the subject. While Western criticisms of MMA might very well have a place in this the article, I think more scholarly and less polemical sources can be found. Askari Mark (Talk) 23:14, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
Several points, the source in question is completely referenced to the Quran and Hadith collections it references and no one has disproved these references. Second "For instance, modern Westerners have only the vaguest notion of what “concubinage” was" correct thats why we should call it what it is sex slavery. Third Its logic is very simple; Q.can a female slave say NO to her master and not have sex? A. NO therefore sex with your master equals rape. Read the wikipage about rape if you doubt that. Hypnosadist 04:13, 28 April 2007 (UTC)
Thank you for proving my point. The common assumption that concubines were (sex) slaves is not a truism. Concubines were more often non-slaves than they were slaves; often it was a relative status issue. In many cultures and times they were more what we might call an "official mistress", although that doesn't quite capture it fairly either. As for sourcing, it's readily apparent that Arlandson neglects to point out the range of different interpretations among Islamic scholars, ancient and modern, as to just what an "MMA" truly was. Anyone attempting to learn more about it can't help but run into this problem of both interpretation and translation, so one must conclude that Mr. Arlandson chose to use that which most suited his polemic – which is not how a scholar of any sort is supposed to handle his sources. Askari Mark (Talk) 04:31, 28 April 2007 (UTC)
I didn't prove your point, that some (a very small percentage) of "concubines" concented to thier original entrance to the job (in early islamic culture) does not mean they all did. Thats why i object to the use of concubine to cover sex slaves which this is clearly about (women captured in war are not going to have concentual sex with the guy who just killed her family). This is about can a SLAVE GIRL SAY NO TO HER MASTER and the answer is no, thus that is rape, its VERY simple. Hypnosadist 05:08, 28 April 2007 (UTC)
Well, you did (again) prove my point about how little moderns know about obsolete statuses such as concubinage. However, that's not the point in this thread, nor is whether what Arlandson writes true or false. The question in this instance is whether can Arlandson, as an academic, be considered a "reliable source" on this subject. My point is that no, he shouldn't be since he doesn't exhibit scholarly handling of the material. Scholarly standards require identifying contrary evidence and theories and responsibly addressing them with a more credible response, not ignoring it. It would have certainly served to strengthen his case if had done so (which is why it is part of scholastic standards). If he had done so (or were to do so) – and he has the academic training to do so - I'd be willing to credit him as a reliable source on this material. Askari Mark (Talk) 17:36, 28 April 2007 (UTC)
Arlandson is NOT talking about concubinage but slave girls captured as booty thats very different. As for "Scholarly standards require identifying contrary evidence and theories and responsibly addressing them with a more credible response, not ignoring it" then that rules out all the Imans that are used as sources. Hypnosadist 19:12, 28 April 2007 (UTC)

YouTube as a source[edit]

I've been editing some pages about personalities on YouTube, and some issues have come up regarding YouTube videos as a source. Now to clarify, I want to mention that I understand:

  • YouTube videos that violate copyright shouldn't be linked to.
  • YouTube videos of TV documentaries (and such) would not be cited as sources, the original documentaries would be.

What I'm referring to here are YouTube videos posted by their creators and copyright owners. I've seen statements in some Talk pages that YouTube videos can't be used as sources, period, however I've found no specific policy about it.
Now, I've had some discussions about what I considered Original Research that used YouTube videos (Talk:Stevie_Ryan#falsetto). But I'm not clear how moot that actually is, depending on how usable YouTube vids are as sources in the first place.
E.G., if someone watches a video on YouTube and then provides a summary of it in an article (let's assume here it's for a valid and acceptable reason), is that similar to providing a summary for a book or movie? Or how about just quoting from a YouTube video?
Do they basically fall under the same guidelines as any other source material, or is there a blanket prohibition that I just haven't found?

Of course there's the whole other discussion of YouTube stats being referenced, but that's not what I'm looking for help on here.
x 17:58, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

You are correct that there are some questions (no blanket prohibition as far as I know... but serious questions) as to whether one should use YouTube as a source at all. I am sure that articles on such videos would indeed tend to have issues with WP:Note and verly likely WP:NOR. If such videos are notable, they will have been commented on in reliable secondary sources and one can cite to those. At best, they should be considered Self-Published, with all the warnings, restrictions and exceptions that would imply. Blueboar 18:24, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
I beg to disagree. I used a YouTube clip once as a primary source in the article on Azmi Bishara. The clip was an interview with Bishara, produced by AlternateFocus, and hence not self published, and i found it just as reliable as any other available primary source. I too was admonished then that YouTube is banned from Wikipedia, but when i asked to be pointed to a specific policy my admonisher had no reply. (Since then i removed the quote from the Bishara article) Since it seems to be a common knowledge among some editors that there is a ban on YouTube, i suggest to state in the guideline explicitly, that this is not the case. Itayb 19:02, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
If such videos are notable Well, I'm not talking about an article about a video per se, but using a video as a source for an article on a subject whose notability is presumed established.
At best, they should be considered Self-Published, See, that makes sense to me (though strictly on a case-by-case basis). It's treating them like any other source material, which I think is fair (as opposed to a ban).
it seems to be a common knowledge among some editors that there is a ban on YouTube, i suggest to state in the guideline explicitly, that this is not the case I agree, though I think of it more as a "common wisdom".x 19:59, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
One thing to note... in Itayb's example of the Bishara interview produced by AlternateFocus, it sounds to me like he was using the YouTube clip as a video form of convenience link. In which case, (assuming that the original production is a reliable video source) it would be acceptable... with the same caveat that all conveniece links are subject to... be sure that the clip accurately reflects the original (it is very easy to edit and re-mix a video ... and a clip taken out of context could change the meaning and intent of the original production).
All of this brings up related issue, however... I don't think any of our policies and guidelines really deal with video sources very well (and several not at all). With improved technology, video is increasingly a source "type" that be we will be dealing with. Perhaps we need a more in-depth discussion about what kinds of video sources are reliable and what kinds are not. Blueboar 20:52, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
In fact, i quoted from the interview to substantiate a claim made by another editor. Here's how i used it. Videos may be tweaked as can written documents, and even more easily.
I suggest the following formulation:
==YouTube and similar sites==
Clips from YouTube or similar sites can be used in Wikipedia both directly and indirectly (e.g. by quoting from them, summarizing their content, etc.) subject to Wikipedia's policies. In particular, copyright must not be violated, assertions must be directly attributable and the article should be, on the whole, balanced with respect to the views it presents.
Itayb 21:23, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
I respectfully disagree. Video material that is posted by anonymous individuals cannot be deemed reliable as source material: it could have been tampered with, selectively edited, etc. If the material was uploaded by a reliable publisher such as NBC, that would be different. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 15:28, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
OK, you've convinced me. YouTube should not be considered reliable. Itayb 15:32, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
Itay, I would have preferred you saying "Now I understand why" rather that "You convinced me." The former asserts your responsibility in the process, the latter keeps the burden on me... Just a thought... ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 15:47, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
Video material that is posted by anonymous individuals cannot be deemed reliable as source material Good point. Technically speaking, all contributors to YouTube are anonymous, as YouTube does absolutely no verification of identity for most contributors. What they might additionally do for someone like NBC, I don't know. But if it's an NBC documentary, the attitude is already to cite the original documentary (and I do agree using YouTube as a verification is unreliable for the reasons you stated).
But again, I'm not talking about using YouTube as a second sourcer, I don't think that's a valid approach. I'm talking about where the YouTube posting is the original material as posted by the "author", e.g. BowieChick, etc. If article content is about a "YouTuber", and the video in question is posted in their account, I think by the very nature of the case it's relavant. But I'm starting to realize this whole YouTube thing is a pretty big subject. Oops. x 22:24, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
In the case of BowieChick, you are using a self-published source in an article about that source. That is OK and allowed. But you cannot use an anonymously posted video as a reliable source for other material in WP, per the reasons stated above. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:29, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, but I'm not really looking for approval on what was done in a particular case or a blanket declaration from one person on when YouTube is allowed, because that's the problem in a nutshell anyway. What I'm wondering and hoping to discuss is what guidelines either do exist or should be established regarding using YouTube as a source. x 00:27, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

Again, what I'm asking is that if it can be assumed that policies and guidelines regarding any source material also applies to YouTube videos, how they would apply, and if special considerations should be included, and if a specific policy should be established about it, as Itayb has suggested (though I might word it differently). x 00:37, 20 April 2007 (UTC)


Is considered to be a reliable source? The entries are written by individuals, but I don't know what standard of accuracy or verifiability is imposed on them by the website. --Vbd (talk) 15:17, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

I would say not, for the exact reasons you state ... some of the links they provide may be reliable (it depends on the link) so it could be considered a useful tertiary source, but not a reliable source in itself. Blueboar 17:33, 18 April 2007 (UTC)


In this edit, I added a link that has existed on that page a few weeks, maybe days ago. I would like to know what problems editors are having with this. There are some WikiProject links around the WP namespace, such as WP:UN and WP:FR. With the reverter's edit's reasoning, should all DAB links be removed?--Ed ¿Cómo estás? 00:41, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

The fallacy reductio ad absurdum (and borderline straw man). Try reading edit summaries. :-) All policypage DAB links this unlikely to ever be needed should be removed, yes. People involved in WikiProjects generally understand their namespaces, including their shortcuts, just fine, and if they don't that's their problem; the rest of WP shouldn't be made to read, and re-read, and hatnotes with regard to obscure topical projects every time they come to a major policypage. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 00:51, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
PS: The examples you cite are utterly non-comparable. The UN one is obvious and obviously needed, as "UN" usually stands for United Nations. The FR one has nothing to do with DAB hatnotes on policypages at all; it's a DAB between two WikiProjects that arguably could have equal claim to the shortcut, just WikiProject France got to it first. What you will not find are DABnotes like the one you just proposed on policypages. And it isn't even to a project, it's to some random minor page in the project. Please. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 00:56, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
Actually, the RuneScape task force was a WikiProject, named WikiProject RuneScape. The official abbrev. for RuneScape is "RS", which has wide use on all forums, fan sites, etc. Any RuneScape Task Force participant would look for this shortcut, due to its common usage withing the gaming world.
If it becomes a problem that too much DAB links exist on one page, maybe we can use a WP:NAVFRAME to display the links?--Ed ¿Cómo estás? 02:01, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
"Was" is a key word here, but more to the point: WP:NOT WikiGamePedia. I'd be shocked if almost every single shortcut on the system weren't the "official" abbreviation/acronym for something, somewhere. It's simply not relevant. Virtually every English speaker above the age of 9 or so knows the acronym UN and knows what it stands for, making DAB a good idea for WP:UN; this is hardly the case with RuneScape. And if you are actually contemplating a nav box for disambiguation hatnotes then, well, I just don't know what to say. Anyway, lots of WikiProjects have subpages with shortcuts. Just because WP:WSS/P and WP:WSS/NG exist does not mean that WP:P and WP:NG need DAB hatnotes that point to these subpages (which are actually major and important subpages for Wikipedia as a whole; somehow people don't get confused). And note that the DABnote that WP:NG does have a) goes to a main WikiProject page, not a subpage, for b) an ISO country code that is very, very well established and broadly known, making confused guesses that WP:NG goes to the Nigeria WikiProject a likely bet. Again, not the case with the game. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:20, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Proposal on citing "consensus"[edit]

Please see Wikipedia:Citing consensus. Thank you.--Pharos 02:24, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Lack of comments = consensus?[edit]

To my suggestion above?-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  01:38, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

Are non-English major newspapers reliable?[edit]

The discussion at Talk:Przyszowice massacre about that issue has been going on in circles, particulary since RS has no clear answer to that. Please comment (and also see my proposal above which would address that and related issues).-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  17:06, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

I certainly don't think we can call something unreliable just because it is in another language. However, since this is the english language wikipedia, an accurate translation of the relevant material should probably be included either in the text or in a footnote. Blueboar 18:49, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
In a pinch, and to be sure, you might post a question about a particular source on that language's wiki. That might also work as a suggestion to include in RS for when such a debate arises. Askari Mark (Talk) 19:50, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
The main point here is not whether non-English sources are accepted or not, since this is actually reasonably covered at WP:V#Sources_in_languages_other_than_English. The editors who dispute their reliability argue that newspapers are inherently unreliable and that unless it can be shown that the author of the newspaper is a reliable academic, the article cannot be used as a source. I think there is nothing in our rules that would support such an argument, and it is our common practice to treat newspaper articles as reliable unless it can be shown that the newspaper or author are criticized by other sources, or the facts themselves are contradicted by a more academic work (none of which is the case here).-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  03:56, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

The issue is not the language being non-English[edit]

Reputable newspapers are reliable sources to be used in article about current events. There is no doubt about that. The issue here is whether they can be used as sources for the historic articles thus putting them on equal footing with reputable academic sources, such as peer-reviewed publications or history books published by reputable publishers. I say, if the newspaper article devoted to history is written by an otherwise established author, it is usable. If, however, it is written by we do not who, we can't use it. If that not known personal got his work through a peer-review scrutiny, no matter what the language of the work is, it is fine. If we know nothing about the author, the source is of the publicist nature and the subject is history, we cannot allow this to an encyclopedia. --Irpen 07:00, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

Are we talking about an Op-ed piece, or a regular article? A regular article published in a major newspaper (in any language) is a reliable sources... Newspapers have fact checking which is equivalent to an accademic peer review as far as Wikipedia's requirements are concerned. The fact that we may not know the name of the reporter who actually wrote the piece does not matter... the newspaper stands behind the reporter, and we can say that the "author" is the newspaper itself. If we are talking about an Op-ed piece, then the identity of the contributer is indeed important (by definition, an Op-ed is opinion and the reputation and qualifications of the author is a factor in determining the reliability of his/her opinions). Blueboar 14:11, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
A regular article.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  16:34, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
Then we must assume that the publishers have fact checking mechanisms in place, and that they stand behind their writers. It is a reliable source. How much weight to give it is a different matter... if what the newpaper says in the article goes against the consensus of historians, or if it reflects outdated information or something, then it may be less reliable as a source than other sources and their information. To figure that out make sure you read WP:NPOV, and apply it to the specifics of the article in question. But on the abstract issue of "are things like this reliable?" the answer is yes, they are. Blueboar 20:14, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
Could you take a look at the page in question and comment there? We are still in a deadlock... -- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  01:11, 23 April 2007 (UTC)
Ugh. I looked at that article, and decided I don’t want to get into the middle of that mess. However, for the purposes of RS, I find I tend to agree more with Irpen’s comment: “Scholarly sources includes peer-reviewed journals, books published by academic publishers or by the unversity presses. If, however, the author who is otherwise established in academia publishes the article in a normally non-academic source, web-site or political tygodnyk (newspaper), this would also be acceptable. What is non-acceptable is non-academic publications authored by people with no confirmed credentials.” I do have to make a reservation, though, regarding the reference to a “political tygodnyk” since I’m unclear just what kind of newspaper that is supposed to be. “Reliability”, of course, is a matter of degree, not necessarily “is” or “isn’t”.
When it comes to the foreign press, it is my experience that foreign mainstream press is about as reliable as English-language press as long as the country practices a generally reliable “freedom of the press” and the source has a basic fact-checking policy. When it comes to state-owned press or press subject to censorship as a normal working practice, they are in principle unreliable (at least in such areas as the state finds “sensitive”). In the case of even free press with an openly embraced political perspective, I’d not consider them “reliable” except insofar as they present, define or describe their side’s viewpoint on an issue – and this is true not just for foreign-language press. An exception could be made, however, for a journal addressing political issues that invites the contributions of a wide range of viewpoints from noted scholars or experts. In any case, the nature and orientation of the foreign-language source should be identified in the citation, since its perspective would not be easily accessible to a reader who is not fluent in that language. This is particularly true in the special case where there’s a paucity of English-language sources. Askari Mark (Talk) 02:21, 23 April 2007 (UTC)
I agree that politically-biased newspapers may not be reliable; however note that the newspapers in question have articles on them: they are mainstream Polish newspapers, obviously with fact-checking and such, independent of the government and operating in free press society. Thus they are reliable, and articles about history published in them are reliable, too.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  16:32, 23 April 2007 (UTC)
Then I have to say I'm unclear what the precise issue is that you two are feuding over. I'm unfamiliar with the Polish press myself. Are you saying that an article you wish to cite is in a politically biased newspaper? If so, then you still have to be careful with even an article written by a scholar because the editorial process will usually lean toward favoring the selection of writings by scholars (or respected, knowledgeable non-scholarly authors) sympathetic to their views. Askari Mark (Talk) 17:59, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

The issue here is not the political bias even but whether one reasonably expects the articles on the historic subject published in a regular newspaper to be by default as much usable in an encyclopedia as the article on the current political events, published in the similar newspaper. My answer is, possibly, but not universally, since the historic research is not the field of experitse of the general press. Fact checking applies to the facts provided by the journalist in his report on what he saw or received from his sources. The whole concept of "fact checking", in the context of regular journalism, is inapplicable when we talk about the events from the remote past as the writing based not on the facts established by journalists who write this papers, but people long before that. This should is the work of a historian and not a journalist (who may as well be a historian but may be not.) Non-academic publications, and especially everyday newspapers, are written not with an intent to be a source of the historic info, but the current one. Our expectations to the fact checking in newspapers applies to reporting. Current news is reporting. Thei analysis is reporting. A writing about something long ago is not reporting but a history science. The author may be an otherwise established historian. This would of course matter. But if the journalist decided to try himself in a history science he has to go the same path as when an engineer does it, submit his work to a peer-reviewed journal. This is where the reputation is established. Once it is established, even the academic's personal web-site is an OK source. --Irpen 21:07, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

even if the article is written by the author whose name is not in any way established in historic research (a jorunalist.)
Ah. So, the issue is whether a history article published in a general, but respected newspaper can be reliable if it is written by a journalist with no established record of writing on historical topics? By implication, I take it that no suitable source is available from a reputable scholar on the subject. Is the author by any chance a noted and respected investigative journalist? If so, he will be trained in research techniques that are similar to those of a professional historian, as well as have some expertise in weighing the relative merits of different sources. And, yes, first-rate newspapers do perform some “fact-checking” on the esteem with which such a writer is held; the quality of their contributors reflects on the paper’s reputation. While I would rate the “reliability” of such an author lower than that of an expert scholar, I wouldn’t dismiss his or her work out of hand. Their product might very well be something “mid-way” between the reliability of secondary and tertiary sources, since they lack some of the breadth and depth of familiarity with the subject matter that a scholar would be expected to have. They might even be more objective and neutral in viewpoint than some scholarly experts. Another key question is whether it is desired to use the article in question as a citation for non-controversial aspects of the topic; an accomplished journalist with good investigative skills could be expected to handle these well, but if what is being cited is controversial, the journalist might be out of their league, and even if they aren’t “out of their league”, they often will run into the “problem of space” inherent in their media, which precludes a fair and balanced treatment of the differing viewpoints. Askari Mark (Talk) 04:28, 24 April 2007 (UTC)
"no suitable source is available from a reputable scholar on the subject". Not quite - most of the facts have been confirmed with a scholarly source from Institute of National Remembrance.
"Is the author by any chance a noted and respected investigative journalist?" I couldn't find much information on 3 out of 4 journalists; fourth one is a notable person (Kazimierz Kutz). While I agree that author's reputation is important, our primary criteria is a publishing source, not the person: a new scholar publishing his first paper in an academic journal may not have even a bio online, but he is reliable; while a reputable scholar starting a new blog may be much more controversial. Those articles were published in major newspapers with no noticeable bias, therefore they should be considered reliable.
Per my post from 21:39, 20 April 2007 at Talk:Przyszowice massacre the newspaper details don't contradict the scholarly ref, only add a few more details (for example that many houses were burned). As such I don't think that reliablity is a serious concern anymore, but my attempts to remove the unreliable tag are still being reverted (and my recent posts on talk page are ignored).-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  06:13, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Institute of National Remembrance, while "scholarly" is hardly neutral. Being a political branch of the governmental that carries the law enforcement (prosecution) and lustration functions greatly undermines its neutrality and credibility. However, even IPN does not support most of the content which is referenced purely to the publicist level writing by we still don't know who.

Finally, I agree with what Askari Mark wrote above about the topic being a controversial one being important to this case. This is extremely controversial issue.

But overall, I get a feeling that this is an attempt to amend the policy to fit the article. --Irpen 06:24, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Unneutrality or unreliability of IPN is your personal opinion; it is recognized as a neutral and reliable scholarly institution by the Polish government and criticism of lustration branch of IPN, estabilished in March 2007, is irrelevant to research conducted since 1998. I have noted on article's talk page that IPN supports most of the content, articles provide only superficial details. Feel free to reply there and dispute those details, I offered a compromise that we can note in text that those details come from newspaper, a compromise which you are ignoring since 20 April. And yes, our debate certainly shows flows in RS and the need to amend it with clear examples and answers when newspapers are reliable and when not.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  18:27, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

I have some knowledge of the lustration issue, and it was a poor decision to also give prosecutorial powers to a government organization with investigative responsibility; it begs abuse as a political tool by whatever party controls it. I agree with Irpen that it cannot be considered neutral from that point on; however, that in of itself does not necessarily make the IPN an unreliable source, according to the standards of WP:RS. WP:NPOV addresses the kind of article Wikipedia’s editors are supposed to produce – one with a neutral POV; WP:NPOV guides how we use sources, whether they themselves are neutral or not. WP:ATT calls for having sources for facts and assertions, particularly contentious ones; it does not ask us to determine whether their content is “objective truth,” though.
The main concern WP:RS has in this particular case is whether the enticement for political abuse of the IPN through potential falsification of its published material renders it no longer reliable. In my opinion, based on Wikipedia’s guidelines of what qualifies a source – even a non-neutral source – as “reliable”, I do not think we can judge IPN to be an unreliable source unless and until there is a revelation of such activity. Let me explain why I believe this (besides from what WP:RS says). The cunning political approach to abusing the powers of the IPN is not to produce falsified information on an opponent; the odds are that it will be found out and “blow up” in the face of whoever gets caught. The ways in which it is most likely to be abused is by who gets reported on and with what timing, along with who doesn’t get reported on; the government can control the agenda of its publication, yet maintain “plausible deniability”. Granted, there are indeed stupid politicians who do stupid things, so the potential for fraud is only low, not zero.
My recommendation is to treat any material published by IPN before 15 March 2007 as fully “reliable,” and any published thereafter as “conditionally reliable.” By the latter, I mean that any material that does not clearly import political damage to an opponent of the sitting government should be treated as generally reliable; however, in any case where the reputation of someone who is a critic, competitor or opponent of the sitting government’s leaders should be treated as “suspect” in its reliability. If there is call to use it at all in such a case, either the text or the citation should be annotated to point out that critics claim the IPN may not be a trustworthy source in this instance.
I hope this helps the two of you resolve your issue. Best regards, Askari Mark (Talk) 01:56, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
as I see it,and discuss below in another context, there are no absolutely reliable sources, and the WP idea of RS has to be interpreted as "sufficiently reliable for the purpose at hand," and as a question of relative reliability. I do not think in most topics being academic or newspaper is definitive: It depends on the academic publication in question, and the newspaper. Many academics of high reputation in their fields have published articles much influenced by their prejudices, and even good journals have published them. This is true not only of totalitarian regimes but in ordinary times. Similarly, some newspapers, even those emanating from a political partisan group, have an enviable record of reliability--and some do not. In cases of ethnic conflict, no source associated with either side can be assumed reliable in all things.
thus in practice I agree with the similar but not identical advice of Askira Mark: use what you have, and indicate the possible prejudice. It is WP's job to provide accurate reports of what others say. DGG 05:10, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I think the comment of Askira Mark is really important with regard to biographies of Russian activists who are in opposition to Putin's government. Askira said that "any material that does not clearly import political damage to an opponent of the sitting government should be treated as generally reliable. However, in any case where the reputation of someone who is a critic, competitor or opponent of the sitting government’s leaders should be treated as “suspect” in its reliability". It means that publications of pro-Putin journalists who smear opposition figures and opposition journalists are not reliable and can not be used in biographies of the corresponding living person (say an opposition journalist) or even other persons (such as Politkovskaya). Do I understand correctly?Biophys 14:42, 10 May 2007 (UTC) Just to clarify. I am talking about empty-worded statements of pro-Putin journalists like "his writings are worse than Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler" or "she focused more on accusing [authorities] and less on reporting". Biophys 15:07, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
Not exactly. I think the best description I've read about what we do here on Wikipedia is "We don't really write about our topics; we write about what others have written about them." The purpose of WP:RS is to define what our general standards for "reliability" are. We are the ones, after all, who choose the sources. Since this is an encyclopedia, it would be inappropriate to present the common insults of partisan writers, but not all partisans are the same. A principled partisan wouldn't need to rely on insults and unproven or unprovable accusations, but would present a more carefully reasoned and evidenced critism. It might be appropriate to include this – along with the identification of their partisan leanings – in an article. A sweeping rule banning all publications that feature articles by one partisan faction is overly broad. If we did, then partisan editors could rule against otherwise trustworthy sources simply because related partisan publications subsequently picked up the legitimate issue themselves. Where it is appropriate to include a partisan viewpoint in an article, we need to find the source with the best-reasoned presentation of that view – which will be something that source will be a "reliable source" for, even if they are an unreliable source for the opposition's views. There is a great tendency to conflate "neutral source" with "reliable source", but they are not the same thing; a partisan source can be a "reliable source" for its own side's viewpoint, while at the same time being an unreliable source for the opposition's viewpoint. Askari Mark (Talk) 18:00, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

Letters to the editor of peer-reviewed journals: automatically reliable?[edit]

I am involved in a dispute regarding the use of a published letter to the editor of a peer-reviewed journal as a reliable source. The other editors claim that such a letter is (quoting WP:RS): "material published by peer-reviewed journals" and therefore is reliable. It seems to me to ignore the intent behind the quoted phrase to include material, such as letters, published in such a journal but not peer-reviewed. In essence, I believe that inherent in the phrase is the notion that the material in question is peer-reviewed; the fact that the journal's articles are peer-reviewed become irrelevant if letters to the editor are automatically considered just as reliable. User Blueboar has provided one interpretation on this talk page with which I fully agree; but not having any other official policy or guidelines to point to, and with the other editors steadfast in their opposition, I seem bound to the literal interpretation of the phrase. I am seeking a consensus regarding this issue and an end to the dispute. I also point it out as an area of the guideline possibly requiring clarification. Thoughts? Suggestions? Blackworm 17:51, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

I think you know my interpretation... but to make sure it is clear: I would consider it reliable for a statement of opinion (as it is verifiable that the person wrote the letter)... but I would not nescessarily consider it reliable for a statement of fact. Its reliability for a citation of fact will depend on the reputation of the person who wrote it... it does not get an automatic approval by virtue of where it is published, but it also does not get an automatic disqualification because it is only a "letter". A letter written by the formost expert in his field does carry a degree of weight, and should be more reliable than a letter written by Joe Undergrad. As a hypothetical, it falls in the grey zone. Blueboar 20:04, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

Due to the interaction between law and the operating methods of published journals, sometimes peer-reviewed texts can be marked as "letter to the editor" or even "advertisement"(!). So peer review and marking do not correlate. You need to check separately to see if something is in fact peer reviewed. --Kim Bruning 20:13, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

For disclosure purposes, I am one of the editors who disagrees with Blackworm. As I see it, in the case in question, the sentence is attributed to the authors. The quotation is verifiable, as it is linked to the peer-reviewed journal, which is itself a reliable source. As WP:RS states: "Reliable sources are credible published materials with a reliable publication process; their authors are generally regarded as trustworthy, or are authoritative in relation to the subject at hand." The peer reveiwed journal in question here eminently fulfills the above. Further, in my opinion, this is not "Letters to the Editor" in The New York Post, but the selected letters published BY the peer reviewed journal, which themselves are listed in PubMed. Further, as stated in WP:RS "Using reliable sources assures the reader that what is being presented meets the Wikipedia standards for verifiability and originality. Accurate citation allows the reader to go to those sources and gives appropriate credit to the author of the work." Once again, these letters, which are commentary on previously published articles in the journal, are completely verifiable and demonstrate no original research. The journal is a scholarly source, and neither the journal, nor the article or the comments on it are fringe. I still fail to see the issue, other than an attempt to remove well-cited, verified information for WP:POV purposes. Unfortunately, as I have pointed out on the articles talk page, there are a number of sources that are far worse than this, but I do not see Blackworm discussing those as they happen to support his exogenous position. -- Avi 22:00, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

Yet again, please do me the courtesy of assuming good faith and not attacking me personally. The letter to the editor you use as a source has not been shown to be peer-reviewed nor even fact-checked. That you believe it is "not fringe," a "scholarly source," and "demonstrate no original research" is interesting, but (a) it is not supported by any evidence, not knowing the criteria the journal uses for publishing letters, and (b) even if true, in the absence of peer review it has not been demonstrated that these authors are in any way notable enough to warrant a paragraph in an encyclopedia, with direct quotes and statements of fact. Blackworm 22:26, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

If a letter to the editor (or any other source that would be considered not a RS) is reproduced in a peer reviewed article, it would be OK to cite the peer review article as the source. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:51, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

I agree. You seem to take for granted that the letter to the editor would be considered as not a reliable source. I do, as well, but the opposite seems to be asserted by the opposing editors in this dispute -- i.e. that the mere fact of the letter's publication in the otherwise peer-reviewed journal makes it a RS. As I hope I have made clear, there is no evidence that the letter at the heart of this dispute underwent peer review, nor is peer review of the letter even claimed by the editors opposing me in this matter. Blackworm 23:03, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

I disagree, especially as the letter itself cites their published works in Am Fam Physician as well as JAMA (although the JAMA too is a letter and not an article. Both of these authors have been published a number of times in peer-reviewed journals, both articles and letters as can by checking for "Shechet (R)J" (J and RJ are the same person) and "Tanenbaum B" in PubMed search. The letter in and of itself should be considered reliable, based on its authors and its publication location. Much better than some of the fringe websites that are in that article. -- Avi 01:39, 23 April 2007 (UTC)
Further, as mentioned, WP:RS itself states "Reliable sources are credible published materials with a reliable publication process; their authors are generally regarded as trustworthy, or are authoritative in relation to the subject at hand." In this case, I have yet to see a valid argument as to why the source quoted fails the above sentence. -- Avi 01:49, 23 April 2007 (UTC)
In a nutshell, the question here is not whether published commentary in peer-reviewed journals are as good as the original articles themselves, but whether said commentary acheives the standards of WP:RS. If minimal standards for reliable sources were actual peer-reviewed articles, then I daresay fully 85% of all sources in wikipedia would fail. Once again, it boils down to what wikipedia requires in a reliable source, and I have yet to hear how commentary on a peer-reviewed article, published in that very same peer reveiwed journal, does not conform to our standards, even if we all agree that a peer-reveiwed article is an even better source (than letters, news sites, CNN homepage, and most other, accepted, sources here). -- Avi 04:32, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

Here, I believe we are somewhat closer to reaching an agreement, although you do not seem to be clearly addressing the points raised, while introducing new clauses ("commentary on a peer-reviewed article," "published in that very same [...] journal"). These only seem to serve to add confusion. Are you now willing to agree that a published letter in a peer-reviewed journal is not necessarily a reliable source, i.e. that it may indeed fail the minimum standard for statements of fact? If so, could it also additionally fail the minimum standard for statements of opinion notable enough to warrant inclusion in Wikipedia? It seems we must at least agree on these questions before we may proceed to the additional clauses and conditions required to meet the minimum standard(s). Blackworm 05:17, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

It depends on the letter and the journal. in many cases, such letters are reviewed by the editor, the original author is given an opportunity to respond, and such letters are the means by which improper results are challenged They then have the same reliability as anything else in the journal. I note that Medline and other indexing services scrupulously index all substantative letters of this sort.
In other cases, as with the typical letters to the editor of a newspaper, they represent individual opinion, selected for representativeness or interest. (And of course there are the "letters" which are simply short articles.) Nothing about peer-review is black and white. DGG 07:22, 23 April 2007 (UTC)
According to an e-mail I received back from Pediatrics, all letters are shown to article author's to allow them to respond, should they wish. -- Avi 21:20, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

What is the relevance of that, Avi? Please respond to my questions above. Thanks. Blackworm 22:57, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

Supports DDG's assertion that they have similar reliability to the article itself. -- Avi 14:15, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

DGG: I disagree with your assertion that the letters "have the same reliability as anything else in the journal" under those circumstances. It is not the responsibility of the author to fact-check every statement made by every published letter to the editor responding to their peer-reviewed article, nor the responsibility (nor practice) of the journal to subject such letters to peer review. Blackworm 23:00, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

Yes, you are right that my wording was exaggerated, and I apologize: I should have said they have similar standing, not equal standing. It depends on the journal and the type of letter. Some medical journals do it fact always give the author an opportunity to reply., especially if the letter alleges serious breeches of scientific ethics. Nature too often does this. Every time people I know have been involved, the author has a chance to reply. In the old days, sometimes the authors reply ended up in the following issue, and the chain could go on like a WP discussion, except over several months rather than several days. Typically letters to the editor of this sort are rare--they are not writted or printed for trivia. If you like, I can find some illusrative chains--Avi, do you have one at hand?
The more general comments are these days handled by a blog of some sort--and even here they are reviewed--not to peer review standards, but still reviewed. Again, to start at the top end, the Nature web discussions on each article is very much under the control of the journal. As a more general example, the Letters to the editor in the NY Times is also under editorial page control--the ones that are printed are because they are either of particular human interest or subject important or a necessary conterbalancing view.
The only general statement is that nothing about peer review is black and white. For that matter, nothing about RS is really black and white. DGG 07:21, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for your insight on this. I do understand this process; there is no need to further illustrate it. In this particular case, the original authors did not reply to the authors of the particular letter under dispute. I do not take this to imply silent agreement; in fact in their reply to other letters they refute the particular claim by the letter's authors which is under dispute. Blackworm 08:36, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

Au contraire. As the authors saw fit to try and respond/refute other letters and not this, the case could be made that they agree. Regardless, interpretations of their silence is pure original research. What we do know is:
  1. The letter was printed in a respected, scholarly peer-reviwed journal.
  2. The source is not being used to support the claim itself, but to support the fact that it was made by Tannenbaum and Shechet.
  3. To add further strength (but still, IMO, unnecessary), according to Pediatrics the author's had the opportunity to see the letter and respond should they have chosen.
I see no reason whatsoever for any serious claim against the reliability and verifiability of the source as regards its supporting the sentence in the article. --Avi 14:15, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

As you say, we can't infer agreement nor disagreement, so your third point is null and void. The first point is the reason I asked for opinions here; and so far no one has claimed that this makes it automatically a reliable source; in fact the consensus here seems to be that at best it is not as good a source as a peer-reviewed article. Your second point is the strongest IMO; however, it isn't clear to me that the authors of this letter are either "generally regarded as trustworthy," or "authoritative in relation to the subject at hand" (quoted from WP:RS). Whether they should have a paragraph in an encyclopedia dedicated to their opinions is at issue. Perhaps we can reach a compromise by the inclusion of a balancing claim supported one or more major medical associations. I will suggest an edit on the talk page of the article. Blackworm 23:08, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

Its hard to infer from silence: I can fail to respond because I know you have driven me out of court, or because I think I've refuted you so effectively that anything further you may say doesn't matter. And your solution seems very reasonable, both here and as a good practice in general. DGG 05:02, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

It seems obvious to me that if the only academic source is a letter to the editor in a jounral, which are very certainly not reviewed by two or three independent referees, then the ref is somewhat dubious. I would personally think that anyone trying to insert a disputed opinion substantiated only by such a letter is pushing things a bit. From experience I can say that journals occasionally publish letters from somewhat fringe-y people in order to have their views stomped on in a reply. Hornplease 02:43, 29 April 2007 (UTC)

Letters are not peer reviewed, aren't they? They can be cited, but certainly merit a clarification like "Person X in a letter published in publication Y stated that...".-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  06:19, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Again, it depends on the journal and the importance of the matter--often journals list their policies on this somewhere on the information to authors section of their site. But, to skip up one, no I would never rest a matter solely on a letter to the editor, but I would certainly regard such a letter in a good journal as evidence that the question was still controversial. There are no foolproof RS rules: the people who apply them can't be fools. We have to proceed on the evidence that the eds. here are neither fools nor bigots. some will be, but since this is a wiki and most of us I hope are neither, those who are will get corrected. Fortunately, it is not our responsibility to settle the truth of controversial questions, but just accurately report what others say. (I suppose this discussion had its origin in a discussion of one particular point, and I am not commenting on it specifically.)DGG 06:59, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
Any source that is a "letter to the editor" should be marked as such, that should be the default. Especially those sources claiming the status of a peer reviewed scientific journal as a reliable source. This standard should be the default no matter what the journal's policy (to peer review or not) to letters are. I also think that an editor is free to check any source he/she wants to make sure it is crystal clear. In particular, with regard to checking one source instead of each and every one, one does not have to use a NPOV in choosing what to edit (whatever that means), only in making sure that the edit is made in a NPOV (and accurate) fashion. R. Baley 22:28, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

Articles about a controversy[edit]

I would like to propose an explicit addition. I think this probably meets the spirit of reliable sources, no original research, verifiability, and neutral POV.

Specifically, in articles about a controversy, if a party to the controversy is used as a source in describing or characterizing an argument used by an opposing party to the controversy, the fact that the source is a party to the controversy should be disclosed in the article, and not left as an exercise to the diligent reader to determine.

Hypothetical Example 1: Pop versus Soda Controversy The pop versus soda controversy pits Christian fundamentalists from the Midwest who prefer the term pop over the term soda, against scientists and linguists from around the world who state that the correct term is soda pop or just soda... Scientists are against the family, as evidenced against their disdain for the term 'pop', which is also a homonym for father. [1]


Clearly, this would be better written as:

Hypothetical Example 2: Pop versus Soda Controversy The pop versus soda controversy pits Christian fundamentalists from the Midwest who prefer the term pop over the term soda, against scientists and linguists from around the world who state that the correct term is soda pop or just soda.....According to Pop-advocates, scientists and linguists are against the family, as evidenced, they say, by their disdain for the term 'pop', which is also a homonym for father. [2]


However, in this second example, I think this is original research, requiring an NPOV RS not a party to the controversy to make the observation that pop-advocates believe scientists are anti-family.

The best approach would be

Hypothetical Example 3: Pop versus Soda Controversy The pop versus soda controversy pits Christian fundamentalists from the Midwest who prefer the term pop over the term soda, against scientists and linguists from around the world who state that the correct term is soda pop or just soda.....According to Pop-advocates, scientists and linguists are against the family, as evidenced, they say, by their disdain for the term 'pop', which is also a homonym for father. [3]

[3]<ref>See AP article, citing</ref>

If others agree, I will try to reword this into a more consise but explicit statement. Comments? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 21:01, 24 April 2007 (UTC).

I Agree with your reasoning (framing the statement as a statement of opinion as opposed to a statement of fact)... but this is already covered in WP:NPOV and does not need to be repeated in this guideline. Blueboar 14:36, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

template for non-neutral source?[edit]

Is there a template for tagging a citation that is not a neutral, reliable source? I don't mean {{fact}} - that just asks for a citation - I'm looking for something that would say "neutral source needed" or something like that. Than ks for any help! Tvoz |talk 18:12, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

{{POV-statement}}? -- Avi 18:21, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
{{POV-assertion}} perhaps -- Avi 18:22, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
You could also try {{fixpov}} Blueboar 18:37, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
Thank you both! Excellent options. Tvoz |talk 04:38, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

Jewish Virtual Library[edit]

This site is listed as a source for many wikipedia articles. I've been checking it out and it seems that it does not conform to WP:RS guidelines. Many of the entries list wikipedia as its source. For instance [1], [2], [3], [4]. Notmyrealname 20:15, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

While individual articles may rely on wikipedia for information (and thus be unreliable as a source in wikipedia), I don't think that we can call the entire JVL unreliable. Other articles seem quite reliable, and some are even written by noted experts. Probably best taken on a case by case, citation by citation basis. Blueboar 20:44, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Agree with Blueboar. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 20:59, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Blueboar, could you give some examples? Almost all of the articles (especially the biographical ones) there seem to be poorly sourced summaries from other places, such as Wikipedia. I take it as a major red flag regarding their lack of any editorial oversight. Notmyrealname 19:22, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Sure... Just picking a few articles at random... this article seems to be a very relaible source... as are this, this,this,this, and this.
I do note that the site seems to be really more of an article hosting site (thus the "Library" part of the name, I suppose). Some of the articles do seem to be simply copies of things written elsewhere. So in that sense it may be better to use it for "convenience links" more than for the original citation. But some of the articles seem to be original to the library, or summaries of stuff written elsewhere ... Again, this looks to be a site who's reliability must be judged on a case by case basis. Some times the answer will be "Sorry, that isn't reliable", some times the answer will be "Yes, that is reliable". Blueboar 19:52, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

Online distribution services and directories as sources[edit]

I cannot find how online distribution services -- prnewswire, businesswire, findarticles, for example -- are viewed and used as sources. I have been treating them as tertiary sources and when I find an article that uses them as a source, I try to find the primary or secondary source -- publication, company website, etc. -- to include instead. Can anyone direct me? Flowanda 19:14, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

Note on newspapers needed[edit]

Per discussions here, and here, I would like to add a note along the lines that major newspapers are considered reliable unless a particular article is contradicted by other more reliable (academic) sources or the author is known to be unreliable on that subject. Perhaps also a note that in case of controversial articles it is recommended to note in text that particular info is referenced to an article may be a good idea?-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  03:58, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

Exactly per these discussions such addition is highly unwarranted, unless specifically stated that mainstream news sources (such as major newspapers) are acceptable on the subjects of the current or recent events which is their primary field of coverage anyway. --Irpen 04:03, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
Irpen, you are the only person raising this objection; nobody else who commented in relevant threads thinks it's appopriate. Newspapers and magazines often have background articles about not-current events that are somehow connected to current events (ex. anniversairies, new research, etc.) and are perfectly reliable sources for this unless they are contradicting more reliable (academic) research - which reliable newspapers with editorial oversight are very unlikely to do.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  05:05, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

One only has to read the discussions above to see that your "nobody" claim is false. --Irpen 05:41, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

Let "one" make decision whose claims are false for themselves, this is why I linked the previous disussions in my opening post.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  05:50, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
I find it amusing that user Piotrus who claims that all Russian sources are unreliable at the article Institute of National Remembrance talk page, and delights by his POV, suddenly forgets such links as this.Vlad fedorov 06:39, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps, just because Polish legislation provides for obligatory lustration of all journalists we should discard all Polish sources then, applying Piotrus logic? Vlad fedorov 06:42, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

A reliable source committee?[edit]

Since quite a few disputes seem to occur over whether something constitutes a reliable source or not, would it perhaps be useful to have some sort of committee appointed just to arbitrate such disputes? It could circumvent a lot of unnecessary angst between users with opposing views.

The committee could be appointed from admins who have an excellent reputation for edit quality and impartiality. Any comments? Gatoclass 06:13, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

Certainly a good idea.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  06:46, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
Excellent. I aspire to resolve all my disputes over "unreliable" sources in Boris Stomakhin article with Biophys. Vlad fedorov 07:00, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
Absolutely not ^demon[omg plz] 11:45, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
No. This is the job of the editing community for a specific article/topic area, because only those editors are likely to have the specific interest and expertise to understand the specific sourcing issues. For those rare cases in which the parties are utterly unable resolve their disputes like adult human beings, we have Arbcom. -- Visviva 11:52, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
No need for a committee... there are several avenues one can take to resolve questions and debates over the reliability of a source: You can ask about it here, you can post an RfC or Third Party request, you can request a mediator, etc. Blueboar 12:45, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
You are right only in theory. Real life is very different. In the case of Boris Stomakhin article mentioned above, I did asked for advice at this talk page, and the source was clearly decided to be inappropriate. That did not help (Vlad Fedorov continued inserting the source). Vlad asked for a Cabal mediation, but the mediator did not tell if the source is reliable or not. Just to explain: the "source" (extremist web site) say: "Kill, kill, kill!" (citizens of Russian Federation) and I am against of using that kind of "sources" in WP articles. Yes, we need such committee.Biophys 15:29, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
Just a note to clarify what is really happening. This website with "Kill!Kill!Kill!" statements is a site of Boris Stomakhin organization - RKO. And "KillKillKill" is a statement made by Boris Stomakhin. Biophys wants to exclude these words of Boris Stomakhin who was sentenced for extremist activities, in order to present Boris Stomakhin as an innocent dissident who was prosecuted by bloody KGB regime and stuff. Biophys wages propaganda campaign here in Wikipedia by inserting allegations,myths and legends in the articles on GRU, SVR, FSB, KGB, Human rights in Russia, Boris Stomakhin, and other. That's why Biophys falsely claims that "the source was clearly decided to be inappropriate", he omits that it was only him, who decided it. Vlad fedorov 16:07, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
It would appear that this issue is already clarified under the current policy esp the section on "Exceptional claims" which states that "Surprising or apparently important reports of recent events not covered by reliable news media." should be "supported by multiple reliable sources, especially regarding scientific or medical topics, historical events, politically charged issues, and biographies of living people." Pending coverage from other sources the claim should not be made and the source should not be used. A compromise could be "some sources claim" with the ref attached and it made clear that it is not a fact and clearyl establishing the possible POV so as to avoid the impression of weasel words. NeoFreak 16:42, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
No. If a policy isn't clear it needs to be amended. There are already plenty of different routes a editor can take for dispute resolution and dictating policy by committee is contrary to the tried and true concept of consensus formed policy. Not to mention cabal creep ;) NeoFreak 14:01, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
Content RFC's are useless, I've tried them. No-one responds to them. "Third party" intervention is not binding and unable to resolve such disputes either. Perhaps you are right though NeoFreak that the policy needs to be made clearer. That would certainly be a start. Gatoclass 14:25, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
I've found WP:3O to be a great tool. If the editor in the minority refuses to accept a neutrally achevied consensus, is reverting all others and has refused mediation then it is reasonable to assume that administrator intervention or arbitration is required to avoid further disruption. NeoFreak 16:45, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

RFC and 3O are not that helfpul: first, in 50% of cases they fail to attract outside interest, and when they do, I still see some previous discutants ignore the newcomers for various reasons, and their will to stay in the article almost always outlasts the newcomers. We need a place where community comments on reliability of a particular source to an article would be clearly visible.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  20:09, 17 May 2007 (UTC)