Wikipedia talk:Identifying reliable sources/Archive 2

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Bulletin boards and posts to Usenet

From the guideline: "Posts to bulletin boards and Usenet, or messages left on blogs, are never acceptable as primary or secondary sources. This is because we have no way of knowing who has written or posted them."

While the principle behind this is obvious and sound, I believe this is stated too strongly. Of course such posts are unacceptable as sources intended to verify the truth of what is posted, or even (due to lack of authentication of the identity of the poster) to verify the opinion of a particular person. However, there are circumstances where the source is to show the time, location, or language of the utterance, irrespective of the identity of the author or the truth or falsity of the utterance.

The specific issue that brings me here is the date of usage of a (relative) neologism. One editor has asserted (and has repeatedly reverted contrary edits) that a particular word was not in use before 2004, despite a number of sources showing otherwise. These sources are Usenet and bulletin board posts and blogs. The editor reverts the date of use to 2004, citing WP:RS and a newspaper source showing use of the word in 2004.

It seems to me that this is not a rational application of this guideline, and more importantly, that the guideline itself needs some amplification, since there are a number of applications where these sources would be useful and acceptable.

  1. Verification of the use of a word or phrase at a particular epoch (as above).
  2. Verification that a given assertion had been publicly made at a particular epoch.
  3. Verification that a particular subject was, in fact, discussed on Usenet or a bulletin board as of a particular epoch.

I'll try to draft a short amplification of the guideline for discussion here. MCB 00:45, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

I don't see the need for this. But, if we do anything like this, we need to explicitly state that the "assertion" you're referring to, can never be something that is harmful to a person's reputation. I see potential of your change, being misued, in editors showing that there were past allegation of something in UseNet. I know this isn't your intent, so I'm open minded. Also, we need to keep in mind there is no "official" version of UseNet articles. The same post, could appear differently to different people, in different places, at different times (I'm not saying this actually happens, its just there aren't any controls to stop it, that I'm aware of). --Rob 01:18, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

I agree that this section is very problemtic, and I in fact just tagged it as possibly inaccurate - there are things that blog/messgaeboard/USENet posts are clearly verifiable for - specifically, themselves. They are inadequate as secondary sources, but are fine as primary sources in a number of cases - and they can be verified in some cases - particularly blog comments by the blog's owners, and certain prominant people on message boards who have been vetted by the board owners (Many boards have customs like putting the names of important real people in red). Phil Sandifer 18:24, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

I can see that posts from the blog owner would be fine (assuming the blog was usable based on the other criteria), because they're an extension of the blog. But posts from anyone else wouldn't be, because we can't know who posted them. How could we know that the people identified as prominent, for example, have been correctly identified? Also, can you say what you meant on WP:V when you implied that RS allows unpublished sources? SlimVirgin (talk) 18:45, 22 April 2006 (UTC)
As a blanket rule? We probably can't. This is why source judging is more complicated than capsule policy can make it. There's a reason most of a college writing class on writing the research paper ends up being about finding good and reliable sources - it's hard, and there's often exceptions to blanket rules. In fact, always exceptions to blanket rules. In specific cases? The MUD-Dev list springs to mind as one where people are definitely who they say they are. When game developers post on IGN boards, they are accurately identified. Almost every comics message board of any importance that I know of makes sure that people who register using the names of creators are in fact those creators. And after years of controversy, it was definitively established that it really was Douglas Adams posting on USENet in the 90s. And Babylon 5 articles would be completely fucked if we had to strip out everything Straczysnki said online about the series.
As for unpublished sources, it depends on what you mean by publication. Certainly we do allow web sources, which are not, in the conventional sense of the word, published. We do not allow private or inaccessable sources, true. Published may well be the wrong word here. Phil Sandifer 19:03, 22 April 2006 (UTC)
I replied to the published thing on Talk:V: it just means entered into the public domain, whether on paper or otherwise. As for the websites: there are two issues. The first is notability. If we allow posts to Usenet on condition that we know for sure who's posting (but how could we ever be certain?), it would allow users to start adding completely non-notable opinions to articles. We can't say: it's all right to do this if you're writing about comics, but not when it's about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Secondly, even assuming that some message boards take great care to identify people correctly, how could we word a general guideline that would definitely rule out the 99.9 per cent of unidentifiable rubbish that gets posted to message boards? SlimVirgin (talk) 19:20, 22 April 2006 (UTC)
Ultimately? We wouldn't. As I said, reliability issues are more complex than can be put into capsule guidelines. I do, however, point out that Spoo - a recently frontpaged article - takes as almost its entire sourcing Usenet posts by the creator of Babylon 5. And so this "never" business is demonstrably untrue. Phil Sandifer 19:38, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

I'm very concerned about any attempt to include bulletin boards etc. as reliable sources. There is simply no way of verifying the contents of anything on them; how could they possibly be reliable? Jayjg (talk) 05:47, 23 April 2006 (UTC)

That's just not true. There are plenty of verified bits of bulletin boards. They are not 100% ignorable any more than they are 100% includable. Phil Sandifer 07:52, 23 April 2006 (UTC)
I think I lean with Phil on this. It's going to have to be a common sense approach. Eddie Campbell developed his graphic novel manifesto on the Comics Journal message board. It's verifiable that the Eddie Campbell that posted to the message board was Eddie Campbell, since the manifesto has been reprinted and discussed with Campbell since. The issue is whether a poster to a message board is who they say they are, but that same issue is held with every publication: authors use pseudonyms, journalists lie, some newspaper columnists don't exist; I think we should be honest about our sourcing, but I think if there's no good reason to disbar a source, we shouldn't do so unilaterally, there needs to be some level of judgement involved. I wouldn't want to open the doors to every post ever made anywhere by anyone, but if what's being quoted or cited is encyclopedic, is in character and has some sort of providence, I don't think it should be removed for no good reason other than because it's a message board post. I take the point that there's no way to legislate between a gut judgement; perhaps we should note that exceptions to the rule can be discussed and ratified here? Hiding The wikipedian meme 22:03, 23 April 2006 (UTC)
I think the talk pages of individual articles is better than trying to make a centralized discussion of this. Phil Sandifer 22:28, 23 April 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, that's a better way to go. It can always expand if needed. Hiding The wikipedian meme 09:38, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Exactly what parts of bulletin boards are verifiable, and how are they verified? I know that newspapers, journals, etc. have an editorial process. What similar process exists for bulletin boards? Jayjg (talk) 00:38, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

That depends on what you're using the bulletin board as. I agree, I have trouble figuring out how to use a bulletin board as a secondary source without essentially following any links it gives. But as primary sources? J. Michael Straczynski's Compuserve and Usenet posts are THE major source for comments on Babylon 5. John Byrne's posts on message boards are the main source for the claims about controversies he enmeshed himself in on message boards. Any number of online games have major developer announcements made in their forums. In every case, they make perfectly adequate primary sources. Phil Sandifer 04:13, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Totally agree with Phil here, it's a question of what's sourced and how. Opinion and statements which are useful and presented in context shouldn't be disbarred simply because they are made on bulletin boards. Our guidance is always on the don't throw out the baby with the bathwater side, I would suggest. That idea is what makes WP:IAR so important. I'd hate to think we'd unilaterally prevent message board posting with no discussion on the merits of the individual case. Hiding The wikipedian meme 09:38, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

A question on online sources

Recently I was checking the sources on an article and found an important point whose citation was to a website which requires a "free" login (which requires one's email address). I'm sure I'm not alone in being leery of giving out my email address. It's common knowledge that some organizations cannot be trusted to keep one's email address out of the clutches of spammers.

My question is, should Wikipedia as a matter of policy, stick to only those online sources which can be freely viewed by all, or is it acceptable to use sites which raise this bar against readers? My personal opinion is, no, we shouldn't use them. I feel that rather than going on and registering and checking the reference, many users will just shrug their shoulders and assume the point was well sourced. This could allow incorrect or POV points to be masked with the illusion of being sourced, which few will be interested in checking up on.

After all, Wikipedia is not a job or a way of life to many of its editors; it is a hobby, something to do in one's spare time. I doubt that many of them would be willing to remember a long list of logins to various online journals and news sites merely out of a desire to improve Wikipedia. I think the more probable result is that statements which cite login-required online sources will simply go unchecked, defeating the "many eyes" advantage of Wikipedia and throwing the ball in the court of whichever partisan happens to actually check the link by registering.

At the very least, links to online sources requiring registration should at least have a warning, along the lines of "(free registration required)" or "(paid registration required)".

How do I go about proposing this to the powers-that-be as a new policy or standard? -Kasreyn 20:48, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

Wiki can either use good sources or poor sources. The more artificial restraints imposed on the editors against their will the poorer the sources. Quality degradation defeats our mission. Rjensen 20:57, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
But how do we deal with reliability of those sources, if there's an extra requirement (maintaining login id's) imposed upon editors interested in ensuring reliability? I'd personally prefer to have no source at all (and remove the content reliant upon it) than have content whose source only extreme partisans will take the time to check on. -Kasreyn 21:41, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
we're talking here about sources like Google.books and the New York Times. They contain high quality information, higher quality than most open sources. Shutting ourselves off from vetted sources lowers the reliability of Wiki. It's like saying no one can use a book XX because that book is not in every local library. Extreme partisans are not "more likely" to use those sources; they prefer websites maintained by other extreme partisans. Most editors who are keen on reliability will gladly suffer the extra indignity of using a password to get free access to high quality material. Rjensen 23:30, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
Yeah. It would be nice if everything was freely available, but alas, not quite yet. You could make the same argument against someone citing an older newspaper article or book that's not online... it's a hassle to go to a library and look at it on microfilm, or whatever. But nevertheless, it would be a bad idea to disallow sources that aren't instantly available at a URL... as you get to more obscure topics, the information just isn't there yet. The important thing is that the source does exist and can be accessed reliably, if not highly conveniently. --W.marsh 01:59, 18 April 2006 (UTC)
Point taken; I stand corrected. I suppose I'll have to either spend the time or trust in others. But what do you feel about my other idea, putting warnings on links that will require registrations? -Kasreyn 22:19, 19 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Also, there are tools like bugmenot and mailinator that make "registration required" things a lot easier to deal with without giving out your e-mail address. --W.marsh 02:07, 18 April 2006 (UTC)
I strongly oppose warning labels. We should treat our users as adults capable of making their own choices--not like children who confront warning labels on their music cd's. Rjensen 23:30, 19 April 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps a section of commonly available links and another section of "registration required" links, such as the New York Times requires for some articles or that some encyclopedia's require? Another bothersome one is a kind of google map that requires their software. Terryeo 23:59, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Primary sources

The article says "But even then we should proceed with great caution and should avoid relying on information from the website as a sole source." I intend to modify the section to make it clear that one can rely on the owner of the blog accurately stating his own views, apart from exceptional cases. Does anyone object? Eiler7 09:59, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

I object to that. Blogs, with few exceptions, are a mish-mosh of vitriol, error and hubris. They are not reliable sources.Merecat 10:54, 21 April 2006 (UTC)
I object to your objection. The qualities of blogs are immaterial to whether they accurately represent the views of the person they are written by. Grace Note 06:39, 22 April 2006 (UTC)
I would generally object to any objection which allowed low quality, poorly stated, mispelled, unpunctuated information to be viewed with regularity on Wikipedia. If we scrape the trash from the street in order to have the broadest possible coverage of articles (which we could do, given Wikipedia's resources) then we degrade our quality to the lowest common demonimator we are willing to include. Terryeo

I love this

"Widely acknowledged extremist political or religious websites — for example, those belonging to Stormfront, Hamas, or the Socialist Workers Party — should never be used as sources for Wikipedia, except as primary sources i.e. in articles discussing the opinions of that organization or the opinions of a larger like-minded group, but even then should be used with great caution, and should not be relied upon as a sole source."

But the other sides in the disputes these people have, equally partisan, are good sources. I think it would have been far better to be clear that no partisan website is likely to be a good source, whether it's Stormfront's or the ADL's, Hamas' or the Israeli government's, the Socialist Workers Party's or the Confederation of British Industry's.

I know I'm one of the few people here who is even concerned that, far from presenting information in a fair, neutral way, Wikipedia simply entrenches a set of biases with this kind of policy but someone has to say it. This and other policies are written in a way that prevents the encyclopaedia's being neutral (including, hilariously enough, the NPOV policy, which is rather a roadmap to a particular bias than a means to create neutral articles).Grace Note 06:39, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

The implication of what you're saying is that we shouldn't use the British government as a source of information on the IRA. So if the British govt has on an official website that X number of people are believed to have been killed by the IRA since the troubles began, we should ignore that, and quote the Guardian instead, which will have used the govt website as its source? SlimVirgin (talk) 12:12, 22 April 2006 (UTC)
There is the staunch university professor in his ivory tower who's use of the internet is "non-encyclopedic", perhaps. But many points of view such as The British Government, Religions, "save the whales", etc. have presented their POV for us. While I agree that the policy of NPOV does not address in enough specificity the vastly different world of online resources, compared to traditional resources, enough to fulfill every possible example, its meat of an encyclopedic, neutral, readable, understandable point of view is, I think, enough as a broad, general policy. Terryeo 23:51, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Academia as sole authority?

"Use sources who have postgraduate degrees…": Ridiculous. Only true where academic citation is relevant. For one thing, there are many areas where this is absolutely irrelevant as a yardstick: there is no reason to think that someone with a postgraduate degree in music, or in critical theory, or whatever, has more to say about Madonna or Bob Dylan than an undegreed music critic who writes mainly about popular music. Most academic writing about popular music is, not to put too fine a point on it, pretentious wanking.

Similarly, would you really rule out Jacob Adler as a citable source on the early years of Yiddish theatre because he didn't have a degree? He was a brilliant intellectual (among other things, translator of Tolstoy into Yiddish) who was in the middle of it all! Who else is one going to cite on… well, on the dozens of things for which we currently cite him (easily found with a search on his name: we probably use him as a source more than we write about him).

Would I hesitate to take a non-academic source on Ancient Mesopotamia, especially if it contradicted the academic sources? Sure. But on current events, I'll trust a good newspaper reporter just as much as I'll trust the average post-doc or professor. - Jmabel | Talk 07:04, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Primary/secondary sources

Rjensen, you keep changing my descriptions of primary and secondary sources, but your edits are introducing errors e.g. that NOR means Wikipedia articles should not depend on primary sources (not completely wrong, but misleading) and it contradicts your own account that a story by a journalist who witnessed an event is a primary source, because of course that would be fine to use; that people aren't primary sources (see previous point: the important thing is that it's okay to use their information when it's published, but it isn't okay if they tell your their story over the phone); and you deleted that trial transcripts published by court stenographers are primary sources, when in fact they're an excellent example of the kind of primary source we're allowed to use. Can you say what the purpose of your edits is, so I can understand where you're coming from? SlimVirgin (talk) 12:04, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

As this is a guideline page and Not a Policy page, I reworded the section on secondary sources accordingly. This article is not the place for "may never" "must not" etc. Again, it is a guideline and not a policy. Fahrenheit451 04:45, 23 April 2006 (UTC)

SlimVirgin, I object to your reverting my edits without a discussion. I started a discussion right after my edits, but you reverted anyway. I find your obligatory language only appropriate for policies, Not guidelines. You do not seem to understand this. Will this require a mediation?Fahrenheit451 20:03, 23 April 2006 (UTC)

Exactly - these changes keep undermining established policy. Jayjg (talk) 00:37, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

It sure looks to me that the edits in this article were largely unverified to begin with. --Fahrenheit451 00:55, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

They don't have to be "verified," if by that you mean sourced. This isn't an article in the encyclopedia. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:20, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I apologise for the fact that my comment wasn't self explkanatory. You are stating that your edits are being amended and that as this is a guideline strong language such as "may never" has no place. I am trying to state that your position cannot be the case when not using such language undermines WP:V, which is policy. Although this page is a guideline, where it restates the policy at WP:V, it should use the language of the policy. Your edits seem to be removing phrases which exist in that policy. Hiding The wikipedian meme 09:42, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Judging secondary sources from their sources

Note: I had posted this earlier, but it got archived without any responses. I'd appreciate some feedback, so I'm reposting it. Mangojuice 04:54, 23 April 2006 (UTC)

I have seen a couple of arguments recently that attempt to dismiss secondary sources on the basis that those secondary sources use bad primary sources. Two cases in point that have come up in the last couple of days.

Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Radical integer: Article is sourced partly by a reference to Mathworld by Eric Weisstein, but that website has also been published as a book. Some editors dismiss this source, citing that the book uses, as a source, discussion on a mailing list and little else. (Concerns that Weisstein's work is error-prone are also raised, but not the issue I'm interested in here).

Talk:The Game (game): A new source has been found for The Game, a newspaper article in De Morgen. Some users dispute the use of that source, as it may have been based partly on a previously deleted Wikipedia article.

I don't think we should get into the specifics of these cases here (there are other discussions for that), but I would like to say that I think the following caveats should be added to the WP:RS page.

Judging secondary sources based on their sources

  • Secondary sources should not be considered unreliable for not disclosing their sources.
  • Secondary sources may be considered unreliable for being based on (or probably based on) sources that are known to be faulty or grossly unreliable.
  • Secondary sources, generally, should not be considered unreliable because their sources aren't as reliable as this policy expects.
  • However, secondary sources that are based mainly on sources Wikipedia would not consider reliable should be used cautiously.

My reasoning: first of all, it is not our job, nor a good idea, to try to vet the contents of every secondary source we want to cite. It is good to consider the quality of our secondary sources, and considering the quality of their sources is a good thing. However, if the source in question is published, we should trust that someone knowledgeable considers the source's sources to be adequate, and we should defer to this unless we have information to the contrary. Secondly, we cannot demand the same quality of sourcing in the sources we use as we require for Wikipedia articles, or in principle nothing would be reliable. We really have to defer somewhat, and I think we should defer as long as we don't know of any specific problem.

As an example, if a newspaper article claimed that (say) Gwynneth Paltrow had dyed her hair blue, and the newspaper was reputable, we could use it to add a claim to Gwynneth Paltrow that she dyed her hair blue. If we find out the article was based on the claims of an anonymous person in regular contact with Gwynneth, we defer to the article's judgement that the source is reliable, but it would be appropriate to hedge and say "The Washington Post reported that Gwynneth Paltrow died her hair blue," not endorsing the source, but using it. If it turned out that the anonymous person was lying, we could then consider the newspaper article unreliable. What do people think? Mangojuice 04:54, 23 April 2006 (UTC)

I agree. If the secondary source is definitely reputable, we just report what they've said. SlimVirgin (talk) 09:54, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
No, Mangojuice. This "reliability" is described as a property of the source, not of the information within it. According to this guideline, once you have a publication in a "reliable publication" you cannot even investigate, or in any other way attempt to evaluate, whether they are right or wrong. You cannot find out, or even try to find out, if someone, anonymous or otherwise, lied to the publisher, or if the publisher made any other kind of mistake. It is irrelevant, at least according to the way these rules are stated.
And, of course, even if you could find out without doing any information investigation whatsoever that a particular piece of information was wrong, that doesn't thus mean that the source is an unreliable source that we cannot use. Otherwise, we wouldn't have any sources we could use. Gene Nygaard 20:35, 25 April 2006 (UTC). Corrected 22:36, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Fundamental Problem

This page seems to me to have a fundamental problem, which is that it is trying to be a didactic guideline that people can check and immediately know what to do. Such a guideline would be wonderful. Lord knows I and many other college composition teachers would pay good money for such a guideline. Unfortunately, such guidelines are largely impossible, which is why we generally teach entire courses on evaluating sources instead of pointing people to the relevent Wikipedia guideline.

I suspect this page would be more useful and helpful if it were a statement of general principles of source evaluation rather than the over-ambitious declarations it currently represents. Phil Sandifer 21:30, 23 April 2006 (UTC)

So, since Farenheit has managed to completely derail the point I was trying to make, I've split his section off. Anyone have any actual comments on what I said? Phil Sandifer 04:10, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

I think on the one hand you've got people for whom such strict guidance isn't perhaps needed, since they're well aware of the issues, but on the other you've got people who don't realise what the problem is, and if we had a statement of general principles it might allow this area to be opened up to even more wikilawyering. That's not to say I don't agree, but I can see a reason for taking the strictest line possible as long as we mind that we also have WP:IAR. It may well come down to, well, Phil knows what he's doing, but keep an eye on Hiding. But then isn't that the nature of wikipedia? I've rambled on to long, sorry. Hiding The wikipedian meme 09:48, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
I agree. This guideline (like most of them) isn't written with good, experienced editors in mind, but for new editors, or POV pushers and troublemakers. A statement of general principles would be open to interpretation and would cause endless hassle. The more we can pin things down, the fewer the loopholes and the less wikilawyering there is. The general principle for Wikipedia is that the greater a publication's fact-checking and libel-checking process is believed to be, the more reliable the source is considered. Those that clearly have no such process are considered unreliable. That's basically it. SlimVirgin (talk) 10:00, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Farenheit451's comments

I second that, Phil. I have changed the verbs used from obligatory to recommendation. One User:SlimVirgin seems to want to make the guideline a policy, however. Fahrenheit451 22:36, 23 April 2006 (UTC)

Well, OK, but that's not really the problem I have with the page. Phil Sandifer 22:46, 23 April 2006 (UTC)
In my view it's one of the most valuable parts of the page. Blogs, bulletin boards, etc. are unchecked and unverifiable, and appear and disappear on a whim. They are simply not reliable sources, and even suggesting that they might be opens up the encyclopedia for untold amounts of abuse. I say this have seen these sources used to push various kinds of nonsense. Jayjg (talk) 00:36, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
And where do you propose the featured article Spoo get its major source then? It is simply not the case that blogs and bulletin boards - and especially UseNet - is blanket unreliable. There is crap there, but that does not rule out the entire category of source. Phil Sandifer 04:10, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
It's not necessarily that it's crap, Phil, it's that it's anonymous. An encyclopedia being edited by anonymous editors using anonymous sources would be completely unreliable. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:17, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Except that it's NOT always anonymous. I can think of very few recent examples of impersonation, and very many examples of people authentically posting. And, again - what do you propose we do with all of these articles, some of them featured, that rely on Usenet sources? Phil Sandifer 06:44, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Fahrenheit, please stop making large changes without prior discussion. This page has to be consistent with WP:V, which is policy. Also, you're adding edits that make no sense e.g. that we have to "evaluate" websites for "illogical statements," whatever that means, before we cite them. You seem to be saying our citation standards are so low that all a source has to do to be credible is not contradict himself. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:38, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

SlimVirgin, your POV edits are not verifiable. You condemn all "personal" websites without providing documentable evidence as such. Your wording is not guideline wording, but policy wording. That is just bad POV editing. Your edits make no sense. Sorry you don't know what illogical statements mean or know how to evaluate information. --Fahrenheit451 01:00, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Farenheit451, a policy page does not have citations in it, and please restrict your comments to the page itself, rather than commenting on individual editors. Jayjg (talk) 02:12, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
F, with respect, your contribs show you've never edited any of the content policy pages or their talk pages, so this material is somewhat new to you, perhaps. Please understand that the three content policy pages have to be consistent with each other, and any relevant guidelines have to be consistent with them. This page, as it stands, is consistent w with policies, but the changes you want would introduce a problem, and some were not at all clear (e.g. evaluating "illogical" statements: who's to decide what an "illogical" statement is? ;). Also, policy pages don't need cites or NPOV. "Some people like citations, but others don't"? :-) SlimVirgin (talk) 02:18, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

To make sense out of anything, one has to evaluate information irrespective of the source. This guideline page completely misses that important point. As it stands, the content of this page suffers from editing without a reality check on the part of the editors. It is deplorable. --Fahrenheit451 03:37, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Could I ask you to tone down the rhetoric, which isn't helpful. This page is watched by editors who are very familiar with the content policies. We have to be careful about recommending that people "evaluate information irrespective of the source," because that sounds like OR and is often exactly what they're not supposed to do. Rather than talk in generalities, could you give a concrete example of the kind of edit this page might rule out, so I can see where you're coming from? SlimVirgin (talk) 03:43, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

SlimVirgin, please be specific, which content policies are you refering to? You fail to mention that. Also, evaluating information is Not necessarily original research. It is irrelevant if it sounds like it. --Fahrenheit451 20:49, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

There needs to be some clarification of what a personal web site is. Obviously a MySpace-type page is a personal web site, but is a large site that is primarily the work of one person? What if it's an archive of other secondary sources? Does it stop being a personal web site if the domain name is registered in the name of a company? Does the company have to be incorporated? Is there a difference between links to long established sites like The B5 Lurker's Guide or Operation Clambake? (And what does the Narn Bat Squad think?) Because personal web site isn't defined, it creates openings for disputes about references on that point, irrespective of any other grounds. AndroidCat 04:58, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
See my replies to Vivaldi below, Android. It might go some way toward addressing your point. SlimVirgin (talk) 08:43, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Added NPOV template

This article needs a major clean-up. The editing is POV, sloppy, and unverified.--Fahrenheit451 01:03, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

This is not an encyclopedia article, it is a policy page. Policy pages are not about verifiable facts, but about Wikipedia policy. They are, by definition, "POV"; that is, they express Wikipedia's POV regarding policy. Jayjg (talk) 02:14, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

It is NOT policy, it is a guideline and the wording in it implies policy rather than advice. And even then, the advice is VERY faulty, demonstrating a gross lack of reasoning.--Fahrenheit451 03:32, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

But it must be consistent with the policies, and the advice is very far from being faulty. Please set out on talk exactly why you think this, so we can address it. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:40, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
An obvious bit of information to further question would be why more than a dozen edits in such a short period of time. Its true that in one specific area, Dianetics and Scientology, I recently have cited this guildeline in editing but what is the sudden need for such extreme changes in a guideline that has stood pretty solidly for about a year ? Terryeo 04:06, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Actually 27 edits in the last couple of days, having never edited this or a related page before. I'm assuming there's a content dispute somewhere that has triggered it. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:22, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
SV -- I don't know if you can call it a "content dispute", because I think it is only a single user, Terryeo (talkcontribs), that pretends that WP:RS has any relevance to our discussions which we are having elsewhere (Scientology, Dianetics, Xenu, etc...). Terryeo is under the impression that a web page that is owned by a single individual is never citable on Wikipedia, trying to suggest than any such thing is a "personal website" per the guideline of WP:RS. Although in this particular case, we are talking about a website with a long history of providing reliable information, that is checked for accuracy and sourced properly. It is also owned by someone that is would be considered an expert on the topic that he writes about. Terryeo is trying to use this guideline to suggest that Operation Clambake should never be allowed to be cited by wiki-editors as source or mentioned as reference in any articles. One area that Terryeo doesn't seem to grasp (or rather I suspect he does grasp it, but he is being deliberately obtuse) is that when an article, or book, is merely copied word-for-word and placed on the Internet by a reputable and reliable source of information, that it is okay to cite the original author of the work in the references AND provide a convenience link to the information, with careful note to make sure people realize that the link is a convenience link provided by a 3rd party. Since Operation Clambake has been in existence for 10 years and it has a long history of providing accurate and reliable transcriptions of many sources, it is perfectly acceptable to O.C. for this purpose. Here is what a typical reference looks like:
Now, Terryeo (talkcontribs) has been making disruptive edits to Scientology articles (for which he was blocked for recently) and then Terryeo makes the bold statement that he intends to wipe all references that use (or O.C.) from Wikipedia based on the guideline of WP:RS. He was advised numerous times that his interpretation of the guideline is incorrect, that his interpretation of the guideline is against consensus, and that guidelines themselves are "not written in stone" and when consensus demands an exception be made to guidelines, then it is okay to do so. So then, instead of removing the link to, Terryeo then goes ahead and starts removing the entire referenced source and any of the article text that cites that referenced source (because he apparently is psychic and knows that the editor hasn't read the original himself? Who knows? With Terryeo it's a constant battle of Wikilawyering, flawed logic, and disruptive anti-consensus edits). Terryeo needs to be advised that removing the original source (and the article text that cites it) is always an inappropriate use of WP:RS guidelines. Just because someone has chosen to republish material on the web doesn't mean we can't still cite the original book (or article, or video, or what have you).
Unfortunately, I think Fahrenheit451 is under the mistaken impression that Terryeo's argument held any weight at all. #1) Most people don't think Operation Clambake is a "personal website" or "blog". #2) Most editors consider its owner, Andreas to be an expert in the topic matter of Scientology that he has presented for nearly 10 years. #3) A "Convenience link" to material published by others is different than a link to a site where the author has done his own research and made his own conclusions. For example, a public domain book that can easily be verified is duplicated on a privately owned web site and a convenience link is made available. #4) Operation Clambake is a reputable source for verifiable, reliable, and fact checked information. Operation Clambake has been tediously documented and sourced itself. I think Fahrenheit has good intentions for wikipedia and this guideline, but I think his edits here were not appropriate either. We need to discuss how to make the guideline more clear, and hopefully Fahrenheit can help us do that here on the talk page before he makes any more edits to the main guideline page. Vivaldi (talk) 06:55, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Hi Vivaldi, thank you; that was very helpful. First, you're right that if all you're doing is providing a courtesy link, it doesn't really matter where it comes from, so long as you also post a full citation, and also so long as the website isn't violating the author's copyright by posting the entire book. It's also advisable to be cautious if you have any reason to believe the website might have changed the author's words. For example, I wouldn't trust that any material about Jews, Judaism, or the Holocaust found on a Stormfront website would have been copied faithfully.
On the issue of the website itself, it clearly is a personal website. The author uses the first personal singular throughout and says that he pays all the website costs himself. So this site can't be used as a source on Wikipedia on anything but itself.
The key to whether a source is reliable in Wikipedia terms is whether anyone stands between the author and publication i.e. whether there is any third-party input, editorial oversight, or libel or fact-checking process. There obviously isn't any with one-man personal websites, and so we have no way of judging its reliability. It's not just personal websites this applies to, but any self-published material e.g. books published by vanity presses. SlimVirgin (talk) 08:42, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
SV- We are not talking about links to copyrighted materials. These are all works that fall under the "Fair Use" principle or works where the original author(s) have granted the right to republish. The Church of Scientology has not ever sued Andreas or Operation Clambake for violating copyrights, because they would be laughed out of court if they tried. The same goes for David Touretzky's information that he publishes. Both sites have spent a great deal of time to make sure they are reproducing materials within the guidelines and constructs of US and international copyright law.
I would agree with you that I would hesitate to use Andreas as a source for things like "Andreas says that the Church of Scientology is a criminal cult", or "Andreas says that David Miscavige frequently uses petty violence against his subordinates". And I think most of the other editors here agree that Andreas' personal ideas and opinions are probably not citable for anything other than an article about himself or about things he has personally experienced (like his personal accounts of how he was harassed at work by Scientologists). I haven't seen anybody that has actually quoted the words of Andreas for any of the articles, so if that is happening, I would like to see it. It's also advisable to be cautious if you have any reason to believe the website might have changed the author's words. Certainly it is advisable to be cautious, but has been publishing online for 10 years with millions of unique viewers that have seen and checked his sources. Nobody has ever accused O.C. of manipulating or changing the information that they republish. They are reliable for this purpose. The author uses the first personal singular throughout and says that he pays all the website costs himself. So this site can't be used as a source on Wikipedia on anything but itself. Well, number one, I would disagree with your assement that he uses first person singular throughout. There are thousands of pages on that are written by others besides Andreas. I also disagree with your assessment that it "can't be used as a source on Wikipedia on anything but itself". WP:RS is a guideline and being a guideline is not the same as a policy. If there is good reason to make exceptions to a guideline and there is a strong consensus to make an exception to a guideline, then it is permissable to do so. I believe that when exceptions are made, they should be explained on an articles talk page. Vivaldi (talk) 19:44, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for posting a full explanation of the difficulty, Vivaldi. states its disclaimer at the bottom of its first page. It does not recognize copyrights nor fair use. It says everything on the site is the owner's opinion. I have other issues of a more technical nature about some of the information on it, but since it is a personal site and so, excludable, well, that precludes any need to discuss the technical information contained on the site and its presentation. Several personal sites are being used in the articles which Fahrenheit451, Vivaldi and I edit, is one of the more professional appearing ones. Terryeo 15:31, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Terryeo, apparently have been reading somewhere else, because nobody here has said that we cannot provide courtesy links to material hosted on When we cite a specific book or article that is properly sourced, we can provide courtesy links to that material even if it appears on or at These are like the "External Links" section. The documents themselves are not used as sources, but rather they are provided for the convenience of the reader. The actual sources are also referenced and can be checked by any editor (as they are certain to be, seeing how there have been 5,000 edits to the Scientology article). Vivaldi (talk) 19:44, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
That notice is a disclaimer for legal purposes, nothing more. As well, it doesn't say anything about not recognizing copyrights or fair use, and does recognize the RTC trademarks. AndroidCat 15:53, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
It is also worth pointing out that does not publish the full text of the Sooper Sekrit OT3 copyrighted texts. They publish only small portions of the text and a fair use analysis of them. In 10 years of operation, not one single lawsuit has been filed accusing of violation copyrights. Vivaldi (talk) 19:44, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
It is worth noting, the arbitration committee is presently voting on the use (or not) of that exact website ( / hereTerryeo 17:18, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
It is worth noting that the ArbCom will never proclude editors from using and as external links or as a host for convenience links of material that is properly sourced to other people. Vivaldi (talk) 19:44, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
They can be included in external links, but they can't be used as sources if they're run by one man. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:25, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

That is absurd. If they are run by two men or a corporation, it can be used. That is clearly a bias and discrimination against individual effort. The same could be said about a wikipedia article then. That is equally absurd. This guideline needs to be revised. --Fahrenheit451 20:44, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

For the third or fourth time, this page has to be consistent with the content policies. You're gushing pointless and uninformed outrage because you might not be allowed to make the edits you want to make, and you say above that you don't even know what our content policies are. Enough already. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:54, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

For the second time, cite the policies that you are refering to. You're gushing pointless and uniformed outrage because you refuse to answer my question. Knock it off, SlimVirgin. --Fahrenheit451 21:00, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Indeed, SlimVirgin, stop. WP:RS isn't even policy. So "this page has to be consistent with the content policies" -- while true -- is irrelevant to this discussion. Second, even Wikipedia policy does not have the luxury of justifying itself via itself, and that's what you're trying to do with this guideline. Are you even going to argue beyond quoting the guideline? That a web page is "edited by one person" or "written in the first person" is not, alone, an indictment of credibility. Most pages on my university's web servers would fail those standards. Who pays the hosting bills is even more irrelevant. The considerations on WP:RS can be valuable, but they are only valuable holistically. That's probably the reason it's not "policy": it's a document to read thouroughly and consider when making citation decisions. --Davidstrauss 08:34, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

WP:RS is not policy because it is "how to implement policy". Policy is the statements which are broad, general and usually not specific. Policy requires an understanding of the philosophy which constitutes a subject, it requires a person understand more than the literal application of the thoughts of a single page, a single policy works with other policies to present broad, general ideas. Policy is to be followed while guidelines are to be implemented. Guidelines are the "how to" of policy. We implement guidelines which apply to specific actions, but we follow policy. Terryeo 11:16, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Your definition is completely unsubstantiated. It also (surprise!) interprets this guideline such that the articles to which you object would have to be removed. --Davidstrauss 06:48, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

The definition of guideline from the Concise Oxford Dictionary 8th edition states, "a principle or criterion guiding or directing action." The definition Terryeo presented above is something different. --Fahrenheit451 17:32, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

If you meant your posting to be a reply to my posting re: the definition of the term, "policy", why did you not indent appropriate to the discussion? I had a little more room than the COncise Oxford Dictionary had when it created its definition of "policy" and therefore, I stated it more fully and especially in the conext of "guideline" so as to spell out the difference. I believe what I posted accurately describes both the meaning of "policy" and "guideline" and especially as we use the two terms here, with 3 guiding policies and a number of implementing guidelines. Terryeo 17:52, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Terryeo, I suggest you knock off your captious criticisms of my indents and focus on the content of our discussion. I am ignoring all further critical remarks from you about that. Your definition of guideline is, according your own statement, your original research. The definitions we use are those from the commons, which Oxford articulates. --Fahrenheit451 18:12, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

In regard to this cite:

Atack, Jon A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics, & L. Ron Hubbard Exposed ©1990 (courtesy link to full text by ISBN 081840499
That seems to me a copyvio ... And we do not link to copyvio material. See Wikipedia:Copyright#Linking_to_copyrighted_works. It should be cited instead as:
Atack, John. A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed, Lyle Stuart (1990), ISBN 081840499X.

≈ jossi ≈ t@ 22:33, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

I don't think we can assert that it's a copyvio. There's nothing to indicate that the book's author hasn't granted permission to distribute it - I was under the impression that it was there with permission. (Certainly the "other" Hubbard biography on, Bare-Faced Messiah is OK to reproduce - I know because I asked the author myself!). Why not ask the owner of -- ChrisO 22:52, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Unfortunately he doesn't make statement of it on his website. Unfortunately he simply declares all of the content to be "my opinion". That you know otherwise could be helpful but hints toward a sort of POV that isn't entirely encyclopedic. Terryeo 23:38, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
If there was a clear statement that the book's text was reproduced with permission of the publisher and the author, it would be OK to link. The fact that you or someone else asked the author is WP:NOR and not verifiable. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 23:45, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Requiring copyright permission statements on linked pages is going way too far. It's one thing to refuse to link to obvious (or at least known) violations; it's another to assume violation unless the site author proves otherwise. --Davidstrauss 08:34, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Good quality sites frequently include an attribution like, "this work reproduced with permission of the author", it is not at all uncommon to view attributed works on internet sites. Terryeo 12:14, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Good quality arguments don't appeal to Argumentum ad populum. What many sites do means nothing. Give a reason why we should assume copyright violation other than the absence of explicit statement of permission. --Davidstrauss 06:48, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

Reproducing a work and linking to a work are two different bodies of data. All a link means is "Take a look at that over there". One does not need permission for that. --Fahrenheit451 17:21, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Again, if your post is meant to reply to the one above it, indenting appropriately would be helpful. A link is a body of data which is independant of the body of data it links to. However, for purposes of legal liability, a link is considered with a similar liability. For example, A man creates a personal website and posts all of a copyrighted Science Fiction book on it. Then, various internet users observe the book is posted and readable and link to it. In the interest of protecting their copyright, Random House (who publishes that particular book) may go to the server's owner via letter or other communication, and demand it be removed. Random House would also demand all links to it, on that same server, be removed also. For internet purposes, both the link to information and the information itself is treated similar. If a server refused to remove a link to copyrighted material after they were notified, then they would be subject to legal action, could be sued in court, etc. This landmark law was established by a case which was before the Supreme Court of the USA, which was forced upon the Church of Scientology, which resulted in higher and higher courts and finally the Supreme Court and took place some years ago. It might have been 1994, I'm not certain of the date. In any event, it behooves us to be a tiny bit careful in linking, though we are not the responsible party (as I understand it) if we supply a link which later proves to be to copyrighted material. Terryeo 17:52, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Cite the case. I doubt SCOTUS was ruling on Internet hyperlinks in 1994. You might be thinking of RTC v Netcom which doesn't apply in this situation. AndroidCat 18:50, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

What exactly is meant by a "personal website" or "blog"?

Does DrudgeReport count as a blog and personal website since its owned by Matt Drudge and contains blog-style posts? This article should also mention how to handle "convenience links" to material that is easily available at the library or bookstores. These "convenience links" should be allowed if they mention the name of the original source and they make no attempt to hide the fact of who is the original author and who is the republisher. Vivaldi (talk) 06:55, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Why not just reference the original author and publisher, then? SchmuckyTheCat 07:09, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
We have referenced the original author and publisher. The "convenience link" is not used as a source, it is only provided as a courtesy to the reader. It is like including a link in an "External Links" section. Extraneous links are not required to meet the requirements of WP:RS. Vivaldi (talk) 19:02, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Schmucky, the problem is that in this case, the original author and publisher were referenced, and the problem editor removed all references to the book anyways[1]. Even after knowing that a hard copy of the book was used to make sure all material quoted from the book was letter-for-letter accurate, he seems to still be arguing that if we have information from a source that is perfectly acceptable under WP:RS, that information suddenly becomes unacceptable if it is mirrored by a "personal website". His argument is: "The Guideline WP:RS does not state, "unless mirroring good information" but states, "No personal websites may be used as secondary sources" What could be more plain and obvious?"[2] Well, I have my doubts that it's "plain and obvious" to any editor that WP:RS is supposed to be applied in a way that makes it possible to remove "good information" that we have from a reliable source because we have the same information from a source that might be less reliable. -- Antaeus Feldspar 19:12, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
I've added a bit from WP:V on the issue of self-published sources, which may help to clarify. Vivaldi, a personal website would be one which is basically run by one person on a non-professional basis i.e. a site with no editorial oversight, no fact-checking, and no libel-checking process, usually run by an unknown private individual with no professional or academic involvement in the area the website is about, who has not been published in that area by a reliable third-party publication. SlimVirgin (talk) 09:13, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
(Responding to the question: is the Drudge Report a blog... not the question of whether a print book becomes unreliable if a personal website quotes it, or whatever that's all about...)
Seems to me... the critical question is who controls the content and how is it controlled. What is the web of authority? If it's a blog, the content is controlled by one person. Now, a) some people's opinions are important enough to be encyclopedic, and b) that person's opinion becomes verifiable, hence acceptable for Wikipedia, when it is published in what is considered a reliable source, and c) people's self-publications are reliable sources for their own opinions—assuming there's no serious doubt about their identity
In the case of the Drudge Report, as I recall he broke the tasty story about what Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton did with a cigar. But within hours, the mainstream media had picked it up, although some of them were elliptical in how they worded it. If what Drudge said was news, then it was probably encyclopedic. If it is encyclopedic, then a mainstream news story saying that Washington was agog over Drudge's cigar story could be cited in support of the story's importance, and an indication that it was being given at least some credence by people in some position to judge. And Drudge could be cited as a source for the delicious details. The verifiable content here is NOT "Bill and Monica enjoyed a cigar together," the verifiable content is "Matt Drudge made news with an unconfirmed story about Bill and Monica enjoying a cigar together." The difference is important.
You can use Drudge's website as a reliable source for the content of Drudge's own reporting, and you can use other reliable sources that refer to a Drudge story as indicators that the story is important and/or at least somewhat credible. What you can't do is use Drudge directly as a news source.
Until a reliable source talks about a Drudge story, you can't use a Drudge story.
Make sense? Dpbsmith (talk) 19:34, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Drudge is beginning to have enough street 'cred to make him "reliable". His reports most often have much accuracy to them. However, what makes Drudge a poor source is the transient nature of his "scoops". Until he starts putting out a column ala Dick Morris, then I'd say that Drudge is a sound-bite vendor. Such gruel is too thin to sink our teeth into. Merecat 03:55, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

I'm not arguing about Drudge's reliability. I just want to figure out if we use the term "personal website" as its used in WP:RS, does DrudgeReport count as a "personal website". I understand there are plenty of other arguments for and against including stories from Drudge in an encyclopedia (more arguments against probably). However, I still think the issue of what exactly is a "personal website" should be fully explained. If Drudge has a co-owner, then is it not a "personal website"? What if his organization is a private corporation? What if its a limited liability company? Does "personal website" mean any webpage that is owned by one person as a sole proprietorship? Or is it even more broad? Is a "personal website" any webpage where ONE INDIVIDUAL exerts complete and total editorial control over everything on it? (I'd guess that if we used the latter case, then there would be no wikipedia at all, since virtually every website has a single person that is ultimately capable of editing the content to reflect their whim). Vivaldi (talk) 02:03, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

Dpbsmith writes, Until a reliable source talks about a Drudge story, you can't use a Drudge story. Make sense?. No it doesn't make sense to me. DrudgeReport has a large staff of people now and they are a large company with lots of people and lots of revenue and they do have fact checkers and teams of lawyers and they have editorial control over their own stories. What makes them reputable or not reputable is their history of reporting the news. If they have been historically accurate and reliable in presenting the news, then they gain a good reputation. If they are historically unreliable in presenting the news, then they garner a bad reputation. I'm not arguing that Drudge is reputable or reliable. I just think its absurd to assume that the organizational structure of the company prevents it from being used as a reliable resource. If DrudgeReport was purchased by FoxNews, would we suddenly be able to start using it as a reliable source? If DrudgeReport suddenly sold shares in itself, we could start using them? If DrudgeReport expanded its ownership to 2 (or 3 or 7 or whatever?) people then we could start using them? (And really I am just assuming that Matt Drudge is a sole proprietor, although its probably likely that a corporate structure does in fact exist at DrudgeReport to give him limited liability and liquidity). Vivaldi (talk) 20:00, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Hmmm, the way I see it, it isn't that DrudgeReport is so much an unreliable source, but that just because DrudgeReport reports on something doesn't necessarily make it worthy of an article. That's pretty much the rule for any newsreporting site or paper. There are millions of stories in thousands of newspapers around the world every day. They aren't all of encyclopedic value: Mrs Jones from number 82 up the road had her bag snatched, it's not got the multiple third party sourcing that WP:V says should be there. So just because Drudge reports it, doesn't make it an instantly documentable topic for an encyclopedia; howevber, if more reliable sources pick up the story, it is. Reliability is something of a sliding scale, and strange as it might seem, if FOX bought DrudgeReports it would move up the reliability scale. Hiding The wikipedian meme 20:11, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
I'm not trying to argue that Drudge is reliable or reputable. I'm just seeing if we can figure out if he is a personal website as it is defined here. Do any of you know the organizational structure of Drudge? Is it a sole proprietorship, a corporation with a board of directors, an LLC? If Drudge has complete editorial control of the material, but still has a team of fact-checkers, lawyers, and other editors, does it matter? Is it still a "personal website"? Does "personal website" mean that it is owned by one person? If the ownership is two or more people, then it becomes, "not a personal website"? Vivaldi (talk) 01:56, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
just because DrudgeReport reports on something doesn't necessarily make it worthy of an article. I agree with you here. There are lots of things reported in newspapers that are not worthy of being put in an encyclopedia (although a quick glance at Britney Spears or Tom Cruise might make you shake your head at that notion, since it appears that every single tabloid claim is not only accepted at these articles, it seems to be encouraged!). Vivaldi (talk) 01:56, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

Citation fraud?

I don't have any non-circumstantial evidence for this, but it seems very clear that when user:BlackFlag wants to say something in the Auberon Herbert article that he doesn't have a source for, he goes and writes something and creates new sections for a FAQ then comes back and cites them. Look at the new sections tailored explicitly for the arguments I've been having with him, that didn't exist a few days ago. There is a whole new section called "F.7 How does the history of "anarcho"-capitalism show that it is not anarchist?" [3] that is not on the FAQ on the Infoshop copy. [4] Is this how the FAQ works? Anyone can make things and sections up and anyone can come back here and cite them? Here is another article that came about shortly after arguing with him about Herbert: [5]. It looks like BlackFlag is this "Anarcho" character. If what it appears to be true, is true (it appears to be too much of a coincidence to not be), then this is fraudulent. What is the policy on this? RJII 19:57, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

They don't look like credible sources to me. The first one (the geocities site) definitely isn't. The anarcho directory in looks like a personal directory. Anything that looks like a personal website is disallowed, in part for the very reason you've given above, viz. that anyone could add whatever they want to a personal website then use it as a source for Wikipedia. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:24, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Wow. Isn't this deserving of a ban or something? This seems pretty serious. RJII 03:57, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
This is the same thing the editors of the Jack Hyles page are doing, and Wikipedia defends it in that case. Anything that was published anywhere else is fair game, based on what is happening on the Jack Hyles and related pages. Pooua 06:19, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
He just admitted to it: ""Anyone can make things and sections up"? So the sections in question are not referenced with the appropriate sources? As for who I am, it is not that relevant as it is the quality of my contributions which count, based on the evidence I supply. BlackFlag 08:21, 25 April 2006 (UTC)" "I'm more than happy not to reference any new sub-sections of section F of "An Anarchist FAQ" in the future -- I would hate to be considered "unethical" by RJII (whose grasp of facts is well known). However, I do wonder what will happen when "An Anarchist FAQ" *is* published. Does it become a valid source then? And what of articles written by anarchists who have "no apparent academic qualifications"? Does that mean we cannot quote anarchists who have only been published in anarchist papers? Just wondering... BlackFlag 16:02, 25 April 2006 (UTC)" RJII 14:25, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
That's not admitting he wrote that section of An Anarchist FAQ because of his debates against you. -- infinity0 16:38, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

An Anarchist FAQ is a well-acclaimed document and is in no way a personal website. RJII has been trying to discredit that source ever since the start of the year, because it is in opposition to his views. His comment above trying to get BlackFlag banned should say something about his attitude. -- infinity0 15:54, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Please familiarize yourself with our Wikipedia:Reliable sources policy. Thank you. RJII 15:55, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

RJII, your attitude gives away your blatant personal bias against that source. -- infinity0 16:01, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

You bet I have an attitude. The FAQ cannot be used as a secondary source on Wikipedia. If it is used as a primary source, then it cannot be the "sole source" but must be buttressed by a more credible source. And, it is very shady for a Wikipedia editor, when a source is requested of him on Wikipedia, to go add his own research to An Anarchist FAQ and then come back to Wikipedia and cite it. You better believe I have an attitude against this. RJII 16:06, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

You have no evidence that his own research was added to AFAQ. That version was released on April 15, your debate with him was on April 23. The FAQ is going to be published by a specifically anarchist publisher; it is credible and reliable. -- infinity0 16:10, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Your dates are wrong. And, he already admitted it. And, "going to be published" is not good enough. Review our Wikipedia:Reliable sources policy. RJII 16:11, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

They are not wrong. What are the real dates, then? Please stop being disruptive, like this edit. You are distorting policy. -- infinity0 16:28, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

They are indeed wrong. I've been in disputes with him long before that. And, there are no dates on these things: [6] You don't know what you're talking about. And, no I am not distorting policy. You need to read the policy. RJII 16:32, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

The intro of the FAQ at that address says April 15. Provide a diff showing the debate before that date. -- infinity0 16:37, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

See the Auberon Herbert talk page [7]. This been going on long before April 15. That article is how this got started. He was making up things to say in the article that he had no sources for. After I requested sources, he would go write material and post it on the net then come back to cite it. RJII 16:48, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

The section of the FAQ you claim has been written specifically for BlackFlag to cite in the wikipedia articles mentions Herbert in one section only, F.7.2. There are four sections, F.7, F.7.1, F.7.2, and F.7.3, on the general topic of anarcho-capitalist history. I think WP:AGF that BlackFlag saw the FAQ and quoted it. Moreover, the debate has long been running; it did not originate between you and BlackFlag. -- infinity0 16:58, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

LOL. Obviously, you simply don't know what you're talking about. RJII 17:00, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Personal websites and reliability

I think there are several issues getting entangled here. We need to be clear about them on the guideline page. As Terryeo has shown, there's a degree of unclarity which can be exploited by the unscrupulous. (On the subject of Terryeo, btw, I strongly advise against engaging with him on this topic. He's an obsessive POV-pusher and would-be wikilawyer who's just been enjoined by the Arbitration Committee for his continued disruption - see [8]. Please don't feed the trolls!)

The basic purpose of the guidelines under "Personal websites as secondary sources" is clearly related to the section under "Reliability" immediately above. This identifies the key issue as being one of self-published sources. The mere fact that information is hosted on a "personal website" does not automatically make that information self-published. If it's a republication of existing information published by a third party, it's a matter of secondary publication.

We need to make a distinction between content personally authored by the website's owner and hosted content written by and clearly attributed to a third party. Items such as books, newspaper articles, peer-reviewed academic papers etc. may well be (and often are) hosted on "personal" websites. However, these are clear not self-published sources. They've already been though the publishing process, most likely independently of the website's owner. This includes the fact-checking, lawyering etc. mentioned in the guideline. They're also, more often than not, available offline and therefore satisfy WP:V. Linking to an online copy is merely a convenience for the end user. The fact that they are hosted on a personal website doesn't mean that they are, in fact, self-published items. I think this needs to be made clearer in the guideline. -- ChrisO 20:35, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

You never miss an opportunity to stick in, "troll" or "I think he is editing in bad faith" do you, ChrisO? It is unnecessary and irritating, it neither adds to the issue you communicate about nor can it impresses others. You have done it several times on this page alone, and always directed at me Terryeo 02:33, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
It was actually ChrisO who enjoined me to the Arbitration Committee and it is the issue of Personal websites being used as secondary sources of information as verifications within Scientology articles which drove the arbitration. Not external links or references, though I have made a mistake in my editing, but actually using personal websites (and frequently, too) as information, cited information, with articles. ChrisO says he contributes to and he frequently cites I assert that is a personal website and can not be used that way for Wikipedia standards. The situation has been hammered at for months in the Scientology articles, I caused enough disturbence that I'm presently "being enjoined" by the arbitration committee, thanks to ChrisO who, with a handful of other editors, initiated it. Meantime, I'm enjoined not to edit the articles. And that's fine with me but I hope to see the issue, "Is a suitable site for use as a secondary source of information within articles" be resolved (whether or not I'm a troll)Terryeo 00:58, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Hi Chris, yes we could make that clearer, though by "source," we don't mean a site that has posted information from elsewhere. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:45, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
This is the issue that Terryeo is raising - he wants to delete links to web-based versions and extracts of published books and newspaper articles, on the grounds that they're on "personal" websites. (He's not asserted that it's somehow altered, merely that it's been "tainted" somehow by being on a "personal" website.) The material that he wants to remove isn't written by the owner of, nor is it self-published (see e.g. ). So when you say above that "They can be included in external links, but they can't be used as sources if they're run by one man", you're falling into this trap of conflating information written by the website owner with information hosted by him/her. -- ChrisO 21:03, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
ChrisO....makes the case that I am raising an issue, but his statement only talks about a minor part of the issue I am raising. At this site you see an example of the issue I am raising. by ChrisOwen It is one of 134 articles on authored by ChrisOwen. ChrisOwen is just one contributer to but he has contributed personal essays, so I use his name as an example. Many people contribute to, ChrisO....says so at this difference Since the site does no fact checking, Mr. ChrisOwen might, by some mistake, in one of his essays, exaggerate or even make up a pure fantesy. The owner of the site beholds to no one, so Mr. ChrisOwen's essay might appear in ChrisOwen's own words. Then, that Same ChrisOwen could come here to Wikipedia under some other screen name and present the article of his own words, quoting and using portions of it in a Wikipedia article as a secondary source. I am completely against this sort of manipulation. That is the issue I raise, though I appriciate that ChrisO has stated a portion of the issue I raiseTerryeo 01:57, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
The External links section doesn't contain sources, but only further reading. The References or Notes section is where your sources are listed. Maybe I should take a look at the article. Which one is it? SlimVirgin (talk) 21:06, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Not external links or sources, but references for quotes or statements in articles. Take a look at this diff for an example (one of many, unfortunately) of the sort of silliness that Terryeo has been trying to perpetrate. We need to make sure the guideline is worded tightly enough to discourage this sort of thing happening again. -- ChrisO 21:25, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
I made a mistake there, removing an external link reference. I shouldn't have removed an external link reference to However, exterally linking has not been my assertion, my assertion revovles around using / as a secondary source of information. That was my mistake. But not the issue I have raised. is practicaly the bible of the advocates in the Scientology articles, nearly every and perhaps every Scientology article has references to within the article. I raised the issue because it does not seem appropriate to use Clambake org as a secondary source of information, as a verification and a cite for information within an article. Terryeo 00:36, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
You didn't "remove an external link reference to", Terryeo. You removed everything on the page that had to do with Martin Gardner's Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, and used a link to as an excuse for doing so. -- Antaeus Feldspar 04:00, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
I see what you mean, but that's just a failure to understand the guideline and what the word "source" means. We have to assume that people know what words mean. Any new wording about this would have to be careful not to open up other loopholes, and I'm not sure it's worth it just to accommodate one person's misunderstanding. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:29, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Well, you may be right, though I'd say that it's deliberate bad-faith wikilawyering on Terryeo's part rather than simple misunderstanding (and it seems the ArbCom agrees, considering its injunction). However, I'd still prefer it if we could be clearer about the self-published / republished content point. -- ChrisO 21:41, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
I don't know how clear I can be, the articles ChrisO is talking about have be revolving around secondary sources for months with 2 editors saying one thing and ChrisO and advocates for saying another. It isn't bad faith, though I did make a single mistake in removing an external link. The issue I have raised and talked about (desperately) in talk pages is good quality secondary sources. I have provided links to the U.S. Navy's statements about Scientology and they have been removed and scoffed at, and to scholars who testify before governements, their statements. Those too get scoffed at and deleted. I did make a mistake when I removed an external link reference to Clambake / Xenu. It wasn't a deliberate act of malice on my part. Terryeo 00:41, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Terryeo is now being deliberately obtuse. He knows why he can't call these words, "the U.S. Navy's statements about Scientology". He's been told why numerous times, and yet he continues to repeat the same nonsense like a broken record. This is just more example of disruptive and time wasting behaviour. He pretends like he hasn't even seen the reasons why his statements are false. For those who are unfamiliar with the "Navy" document, it is merely a copy of the work of one man, B.A. Robinson of This man is clearly biased in favor of cults. His only scholarly reference on the subject of cults include the reknowned cult apologist J. Gordon Melton. His only references that he used to find out about Scientology were from Church of Scientology owned web pages. (Robinson is admittedly not an expert on the subject of religions). So of course his analysis of Scientology is going to be nothing more than a rehashing of what the Church has already said. And just because the Church of Scientology offers up this biased "study" of its religion to the Navy doesn't mean that the Navy endorses it as anything other than a document that the Church of Scientology gave to them to explain the religion. It is not a Navy study, nor does it validate Scientology teachings at all that the Navy republishes the document. Compare version to Navy copy of the same. See also the disclaimer on the Navy's site, which specifically states that the U.S. Navy exerts absolutely zero editorial control over the website. Vivaldi (talk) 15:46, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
"being deliberately obtuse" is not what i am doing. Please re-read what I said. I said I presented to editors neutral links. I did not tell editors how such links should be referenced. Will you clean up your language, please, particularly when you mis-state the words I have typed.Terryeo 02:31, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

<<<The wording of the policy is excellent as it stands. The issue with personal websites and blogs is that often times, the blogger or webmaster will chose to cite out of context, add his/her own commentary to the cite, as well as provide links to pages that do not include cites repurposed from reliable sources but the blogger's POV instead. This is in addition to the possibility of violation of WP:V as there is no easy way for readers to verify that the cite is correct. I would argue that if there is a source, such as a book, there is no need to provide an online cite if that cite is located in a non-reputable source such as a personal website, blog or online forum. Just list the book, the ISBN number and the page number (if you have it). That is enough for WP:V. You can also include a short footnote with relevant portions of the quote if really needed. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 22:16, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

In addition, note that although we comply with the fair use doctrine as it pertains to quoting sources, that webmaster or blogger may not be as punctilious as we want to be, resulting in possible linking to copyvios. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 22:20, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
That was another point I wondered about: how can the website be posting large chunks of a book without violating copyright? SlimVirgin (talk) 01:26, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
SV -- The website posts the entire book without violating copyright, because it is okay. Atack does not object that his book is distributed online by these particular people. Vivaldi (talk) 01:40, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
Yep. With no disclaimer about permission, that is probably a copyvio. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 01:50, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
While it certainly would be more clear if a disclaimer were put up, the lack of one does not not mean its a copyright violation. The author can grant people the right to redistribute his works or they can choose not to object when people redistribute their works, while still maintaining their copyright. You can rest assured that you will never see Atack make a copyright violation claim in this case. (I'm sorry if I'm dancing around here, but there are specific legal issues involved since Atack is a citizen of the UK and his book was banned in UK. So my comments aren't here to indicate that Atack "encourages" or "participates" in the distribution of his book -- because that isn't true either. Atack plays absolutely no part at all in it. He neither objects or encourages people to distribute it online. Atack spent a lot of time and money trying to get his book published and Scientologists have fought him a long time. There is nothing that would please a Scientologist more than to see Atack tossed in the slammer or fined heavily for violating a court order.) Vivaldi (talk) 01:40, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
Scientology Book an Open Issue, Wired News, May 5, 1999. AndroidCat 04:48, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

If it's a republishing of another source, than the original source should be cited. Wikipedia should not be so far removed from the reliable source that it can't be cited directly. This is not to be confused with the definition of primary and secondary sources. A personal website and a newspaper are both secondary sources as they collect information from primary sources. Personal websites should only be used to cite the opinion of the web site. This should extend to routine sources that Wikipedia uses such as MediaMatters or MediaResearch. Both those cites are tertiary sources that refer to secondary sources. It's the reliable secondary sources that should be used by Wikipedia. I see no reason why personal websites or blogs ever need to be a secondary source. They should only be used as primary sources about the website or the poster themselves.

As for external links, those are not citations. They are not sourcing facts about anything so I don't see why external links can't include references. Blogs and personal websites often post links to other primary and secondary sources that are valuable research tools. But they shouldn't be used as actual references for factual data other than as a primary sources. --Tbeatty 02:54, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

If it's a republishing of another source, than the original source should be cited. Wikipedia should not be so far removed from the reliable source that it can't be cited directly. Agreed. The original author, publisher, and all other relevant details should be cited as the source (if indeed they are they source). Then if someone wants to place a convenience link or courtesy link to the material on a website, then that is okay too. It is like an "external link" that is provided for convenience and not as a source. These external links are not even affected by the guidelines of WP:RS. Vivaldi (talk) 01:40, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Reliable_sources has been placed for mediation

Due to a number of flaws in these guidelines and the conduct of one editor in particular, this article has been placed for mediation. --Fahrenheit451 21:19, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

You can't place guidelines for mediation, only people, and I have said no. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:25, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

All right, SlimVirgin goes on record as refusing mediation about edits on the Reliable Sources guidelines. --Fahrenheit451 21:37, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

She's right - it's not appropriate to mediate Wikipedia governance. The mediation process was set up to mediate articles. If you want to get the community's views on a matter of governance, you should raise it at Wikipedia:Village pump (policy). -- ChrisO 21:41, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Thanks, ChrisO, I will do that. --Fahrenheit451 21:46, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Reply to wikipediatrix

(copied from SV talk page) Hi Slim Virgin, I'm posting this to you here because things are frenzied to the point of unreadability on the Reliable Sources talk area. Firstly, Regarding, you commented: "On the issue of the website itself, it clearly is a personal website. The author uses the first personal singular throughout and says that he pays all the website costs himself." This isn't exactly true. Mr. Heldal-Lund, the site's webmaster, does not use first person singular throughout, only on that small percentage of the site that are comments from himself. The vast majority of the site consists of material from other sources and contributors. Secondly, although Fahrenheit451 may be a hothead, his essential point is correct: the idea that an investigative website can't be used as sources if they're "run by one man" is preposterous. "One man" ultimately runs everything. Les Moonves runs CBS, so is CBS News ineligible as a source? Books are permitted as sources, yet doesn't "one man" write a book, more often than not? If Mr. Heidal-Lund were to present his website as an e-book rather than an investigative website, would it suddenly magically pass muster? In the final analysis, the information is out there, and the information is crucial to literally dozens of Wikipedia articles (one of which was a Featured Article). It really seems detrimental to Wikipedia to treat as one would a blog or other "personal website" over such a technicality that goes against the spirit of the guideline. (And it IS only a guideline.) wikipediatrix 23:04, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Hi, if you read some of my posts above, you'll see the explanation. We can't use personal websites as sources because there is no editorial oversight, no fact-checking process, no libel-checking process. That doesn't mean that, if a personal website contains a newspaper article, we can't link to it, because the source is the newspaper. But we can't use information written and posted by the website owner, in part because he could add anything he wanted, then cite it as a Wikipedia source. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:14, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Hmmm.... I stated that I deliberately kept my comments off this page, and I don't appreciate them being moved here against my will. I already read your comments (obviously) and I don't feel they answered my concerns (obviously). You are stating things in absolutes, as if they are set in stone, and they are not. wikipediatrix 23:32, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Trix, the logical rules for a situation, once agreed upon, are "set in stone". Guidelines, though subject to modification over time, are at any given time, static. Please try to live by them, rather than fight against them. Merecat 01:01, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Merecat-- Actually guidelines are not "set in stone". There is a specific policy that you can read called at policies and guidelines that specifically and unambiguously states, "Guidelines are not set in stone and should be treated with common sense and the occasional exception." And just someone believes that a particular exception should be made to a guideline, doesn't mean they don't support the guideline in general. It isn't "fighting against a guideline" when we make an exception to it. It is just part of the normal editing process that is granted to us by the official policy that states, "Guidelines are not set in stone". Vivaldi (talk) 00:54, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

I would say never use personal sites. There is no way to be sure that the newspaper article is reprinted on that site accurately. Find an original source, or don't cite it. Merecat 23:16, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

We aren't citing it Merecat, we are citing the original source and providing a convenience link to a web page. The web page itself is not used as a source. It's called a courtesy link. It is like the "External Links" section. Since the web page is not being used as a source, WP:RS doesn't even apply. We are using the actual source and clearly describing the details of authorship, so that a enterprising person with a library card or access to Lexis/Nexis can go verify the details. And we know that Operation Clambake accurately reproduces articles, because they have developed a reputation over the last 10 years as a reliable source for such information. Not once in its 10 year inception, with over 10 million unique viewers, has anyone even suggested that one of the sources copied was done so incorrectly. It is a reliable and reputable resource. Vivaldi (talk) 00:59, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, Trix, I didn't mean to offend you by replying here; it's just that I didn't want to start another thread about it elsewhere that would probably be repetitive. Which point exactly do you feel has not been addressed? Bear in mind that this page has to be consistent with the policies. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:24, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

What's the point?

This project page tells in big bold letters:

  • We report what reliable publications publish. We do not investigate, or in any other way attempt to evaluate, whether they are right or wrong. See Wikipedia:No original research.

Now, consider this. Suppose someone puts into the Ernest Shackleton article a claim that he came within 156 km of the South Pole.

No source was added for this, when this was actually put into Wikipedia. But I can easily provide 100 reliable sources for this "fact", including Encyclopædia Britannica, World Book, other printed books, web sites from educational institutions, etc.

Consequently, you try to tell us that we cannot "investigate, or in any other way attempt to evaluate" this? That's just bullshit, plain and simple.

I could, of course, also easily provide 100 reliable sources for the fact that Ernest Shackleton's closest approach to the South Pole was 180 km. Some of them would even be the same sources which also provide the 156 km figure, in other parts of the same reference work.

It is also easy to see where the error comes in. It is a simple matter of misconverting a value of "97 miles", because the miles were not properly identified. Yet the fools writing this page and WP:VERIFY and WP:NOR write these pages as if it would be impermissible "original research" to take that closest approach expressed in latitude, in the very same sentence in this article, as 88°23' south, figure out that this is 97 minutes of arc from the South Pole, and that a nautical mile is roughly a minute of arc, and from that simple investigation, then proceed evaluate this particular statement of fact that he came within 156 km of the pole as being totally unreliable, even though it can easily be verified from reliable publications (such as several in this Google search [9] ) Gene Nygaard 08:43, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Has anyone else posited the theory for that mistake? Baldly, I suppose I mean can you source that, and if so, you can add it. Which you probably know already. Personally, I'd do it all in a footnote, mention the two distances in the article, and then place what you say about the mistaken conversion in a footnote which also cites a couple of texts where the different numbers are stated, and also drop a note to that effect on the talk page. Don't know if that helps? Hiding The wikipedian meme 10:11, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Wrong answer. Not even addressing the right question.
According to this guideline, we are not even supposed to "attempt to evaluate, whether they are right or wrong". What you propose, of course, would be doing just that.
That's the issue here—the wording of this guideline. Fortunately, there are enough Wikipedia editors with enough common sense not to go by that so that I don't ever anticipate any real problems with the article itself. Gene Nygaard 20:44, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
But there's no issue with the guideline; what you're suggesting is forbidden by WP:NOR policy, and for good reason. As I point out below as well, Wikipedia has no way of evaluating whether or not your argument is correct, reasonable, plausible, etc. As soon as we allow this, the floodgates open up for every crackpot on the web to use Wikipedia to "prove" that the truth (on what ever matter obsesses them) is quite different from what all published sources say on the matter. If some published sources say 156km, and others say 180km, then we simply report both. Period. If the difference is important, then some reliable source will have recognized it and commented on it. And Wikipedia editors do not count as reliable sources. What you describe as "common sense" is usually actually an unfamiliarity with policy, combined with an unfamiliarity with or disinterest in the subject matter. Jayjg (talk) 21:27, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
First, are you so sure that a third-party source explaining the likely error can't actually be found?
Second, if not, what's the problem with putting in a footnote saying "Some sources say 180 km[cites], some say 156[cites], some say 97 miles[cites]. 97 nautical miles = 180 km. 97 statute miles = 156 km. The closest approach was 88°23'[cites] which is 97 minutes of latitude = 97 nautical miles from the pole." Those last sentence is pointing in a certain direction but it is hardly original research. Then let the reader draw his or her own conclusions. Dpbsmith (talk) 15:25, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
First, it doesn't matter in the least if I could find a third-party source explaining the likely error. According to the rules, I cannot investigate and I cannot ... attempt to evaluate if they are right or wrong. Gene Nygaard 20:44, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Right. Because Wikipedia has no way of evaluating whether or not your argument is correct, reasonable, plausible, etc. As soon as we allow this, the floodgates open up for every crackpot on the web to use Wikipedia to "prove" that the truth is quite different from what all published sources say on the matter. Jayjg (talk) 21:27, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Pretty much what the people above have said; you quote the various sources. You don't investigate and come up with your own novel theories regarding the different numbers, as that is original research. If it's important, sooner or later someone will publish this theory in a reputable source (if it has not been done already). Jayjg (talk) 19:11, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Your statement here contradicts your later one just above it. What possible difference could itr make, even if someone did publish that theory? We still cannot use it to investigate or to try to evaluate the truth of the published sources we already have. I suppose we could then clutter up the article some more, by publishing a theory to explain something for which nobody in the whole wide world argues to the contrary? Gene Nygaard 21:39, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Nonsense. If a theory is published in a reliable source, it can be included where relevant. As for strawman arguments, they don't add much to the discussion. Jayjg (talk) 00:35, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
It is, of course, prohibited investigation into the truth of the matter to even look for such a source which explains the error. Gene Nygaard 21:53, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Nonsense again. Finding reliable sources relevant to a subject and quoting them is what editors should do. Please take this discussion seriously. Jayjg (talk) 00:35, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
How about you taking it seriously. What is it that you don't understand about We do not investigate, or in any other way attempt to evaluate, whether they are right or wrong? Gene Nygaard 00:44, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
What's your point? We present the information that reliable sources provide. We don't do our own research into whether or not we think the information the reliable sources provide is true or false. You seem to be making something of this, but I'm not sure what. Jayjg (talk) 02:39, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
The see also at the end is only supplemental to the stated rule.
The stated rule says nothing whatsoever about "my own research".
It says we do not investigate, we do not evaluate the truth of the statement. Period. No limitation only to "by our own research". Gene Nygaard 03:12, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
You seem to keep forgetting that these guidelines and policies work together, not in isolation, and that your definition of "investigate" is a unique strawman one that has nothing to do with policy. Moreover, you obviously can't mean what you're claiming now, since your proposed examples all involved adding pure original research regarding Shackleton etc. Regardless, you're not making sense any more, but are determined to have the last word anyway, so I yield the last comment to you. Have at it. Jayjg (talk) 03:20, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
No matter how they "work together", when an explicit rule is stated in one of them—AND BOLDFACED ON TOP OF EVERYTHING ELSE, JUST SO WE KNOW IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT—it would thus work the same in conjunction with the rest of it.
If that isn't what was intended, then it isn't what should be said. Gene Nygaard 03:35, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
You don't investigate or evaluate whether they are wrong by utilizing your own original research. This means you can't cite yourself as a source for claims you write in the articles. Your personal interview with the spirit of Princess Diana may be perfectly legit, but we aren't in a position to determine that, so we require reputable, reliable, and verifiable sources. If you want to include sources that are verifiable, then you can do so. Just remember that articles are developed through consensus and if specific points of view are determined to be so minor or held by so few people that they are insignifican, then they can be excluded from the article. There is no way to make hard and fast rules that document every possible thing that can and should be done in an encyclopedia. If we could do that then the encyclopedia would literally write itself. If you are coming here hoping that we can fully explain away every possible interpretation of every word in all the policies and guidelines, then you will find yourself disappointed. The short answer: you are free to make edits that are verifiable, even if those edits have a point of view different from others already in the article. If there are indeed multiple points of view, then try to make sure you maintain a neutral point of view with your edits and explain that various people have different points of view and provide sources that document all sides of the significant points-of-view. Vivaldi (talk) 02:17, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
If the agreement is that this guideline doesn't mean what it says, then it's not that damn hard to start trying to fix it.
It sure took you and Jayjg an inordinately long time to get around to admitting even that much. Gene Nygaard 10:52, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
Like Jayjg, you seem to be making some interpretation based on what you expect to see here, rather than reading what is actually written.
Furthermore, there are not multiple points of view involved here. Gene Nygaard 02:37, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
I have read what is written and I feel that you have some sort of misunderstanding about what is written. The "no investigation" deal means that your own original research shouldn't be used. You are of course allowed to edit the articles and add information that meets the policy of verifiability. And again, if you are expecting the guidelines and policies or conventions or style guides to directly lead to text on a page, then you have the wrong idea here. We use a process called consensus building to create the articles, so we have a group idea about what it means when it says "no investigations" -- and that idea clearly seems to be in conflict with what you think it means. If you are going to insist on absolute policies that specifically mention which words are going to be allowed in Wikipedia and in which order they will be allowed, then I'm afraid you will be forever unsatisfied with your stay here. Vivaldi (talk) 08:40, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
I've read what you've written here, but little of it makes sense, and what does make sense contradicts the WP:NOR policy. Jayjg (talk) 02:41, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

A point of information to substantiate Gene Nygaard's statement: The 8th edition Oxford Concise Dictionary defines research as:" the systematic investigation into and study of materials, sources, etc., in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions. b. an endeavour to discover new or collate old facts etc. by the scientific study of a subject or by a course of critical investigation." It defines evaluate as: "assess, appraise." Evaluation then, is not a violation of any wikipedia policy. As long as one does not systematically investigate, conduct a scientific study, or a course of critical investigation, there is no original research. Wikipedia editors can even analyse: "examine in detail the constitution or structure of." I hope this helps. --Fahrenheit451 17:59, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Actually, it doesn't help, because the "evaluation" you describe is, of course original research, which is forbidden by policy. Jayjg (talk) 19:11, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

No, evaluation is different from research. We need to operate on the english language here, and Jayjg can call arbitrarily anything research he wants to by working without definitions. Wikipedia editors have every right to evaluate, but not present original research. --Fahrenheit451 23:15, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

No matter what you do, you are always doing some interpretation of what your sources say. Gene Nygaard 20:47, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps; nevertheless WP:NOR states that "Articles may not contain any unpublished theories, data, statements, concepts, arguments, or ideas; or any new analysis or synthesis of published data, statements, concepts, arguments, or ideas." What you've done above obviously qualifies. Jayjg (talk) 21:27, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Just a fer-instance. I have an unreliable source making this claim; let's just assume for the sake of argument that it were a reliable one:
  • "I have now found my taped copy of the original cylinder recording and it starts off with Sir Ernest stating "We reached the point of within 97 geographical miles of the South Pole. The only thing that stopped us from reaching the actual pole, was the lack of 50 pounds of food............".
In order to use that, you need to determine what Shackleton meant when he said "geographical mile".
So, how do you determine whether or not this is something different from a statute mile?
I suppose you could look for a source explaining what a geographical mile is, including that article here on Wikipedia. But, in doing so you discover that "geographical mile" is an ambiguous term with several different meanings:
  • a nautical mile, in any of its various meanings over time, roughly equal to one minute of arc on the Earth's surface
  • a particular nautical mile based on the circumference of the Earth at the Equator. Because of the shape of the Earth, this is longer than any of the other nautical miles, which are normally based on some midrange value for the circumference as you go along a meridian through the poles.
  • a unit equal to four minutes of arc based on the circumference of the Earth at the Equator.
So do we just forget about it? Useless information? A bunch of people here have been claiming that it would be prohibited "original research" to try to determie which of those definitions jibes with the undisputed, published latitude figures. Gene Nygaard 22:07, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
I can't understand what your convoluted example is about, but it's hardly likely it's relevant in any event. Quote reliable sources, not your own made up theories. That's simple. Jayjg (talk) 00:35, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
Somehow, it doen't surprise me in the least that you cannot understand a straightforward issue like that.
So let' just flesh it out a bit. Assume that there is already a referenced statement that the closest approach was "97 nautical miles".
Should I now add a footnote that Shackleton himself says it isn't that, but rather "97 geographical miles", because I also left my brains behind at the door when I came in, so I am no loger able to determine if they are the same thing and need to leave it up to the reader?
BTW, it is no longer limited to unreliable sources. Those words are available straight from the horse's mouth. Shackleton's recorded speech is available online in mp3 and wav format at the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Gene Nygaard 07:26, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
I think what Jayjg wrote was clear. If you have reputable and reliable sources that are verifiable, then you may add claims to the articles using those sources. Keep in mind, there is lots of information that is verifiable that doesn't belong in Wikipedia, which is why we have what Wikipedia is not and other similar guidelines and policies. In the end, no matter how much you dig around in the guidelines and policies for direction, you are going to end up in the same place. You will need to build consensus for your point of view if you want your controversial edits to remain in place. There are means you can use to help you in this process. You can use RfCs, mediation processes, communication on IRC, visits to the Village Pump or what have you. But if you think that editors will allow you to use your own convoluted interpretations of the policies and guidelines to produce an effect that is clearly against the spirit of those same policies and guidelines, then again, I'm afraid you have found the wrong place for editing. Vivaldi (talk) 08:50, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
What a bizzarre, totally irrelevant ramble! Somebody ought to make up an award for gems like this. Gene Nygaard 01:05, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

Investigate vs original research

A recent edit added the heghlighted distinction: We do not by our own original research investigate, or in any other way attempt to evaluate, whether they are right or wrong. See Wikipedia:No original research.

I would argue that it is unecessary. First, it reads quite akwardly, and second, there is a link to WP:NOR ate end of sentence. Maybe it can be tweaked for emphasis. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 11:57, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

I agree that it's unnecessary and looks a bit awkward. The link at the end of the sentence is explanation enough. SlimVirgin (talk) 12:42, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
A light-face link can only be supplemental to the black-letter stated rule. It does limit that rule in any way whatsoever.
If someone is going to quote this quideline, they are going to quote what is written in black letters. To do so is false and misleading, and contrary to the so-far unanimous agreement on this talk page that it is more accurate with the added qualification. Gene Nygaard 12:54, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
BTW, Jossi, that addition is not highlighted in distinction from the rest of the sentence in which it appears. You are being disingenuous by not highlighting the whole sentence. Gene Nygaard 12:58, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
Am a correct in that you were also merely sloppy in bolding the See Wikipedia:No original research part? That is neither a part of my recent addition nor highlighted on the project page, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt in this case because the three apostrophe's which cause it are unmatched, so it is only closed by the end of the paragraph. Gene Nygaard 13:05, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
And no, it doesn't really matter all that much whether the link is highlighted on the project page or not. It is still unspecific background information, something which does not narrow or restrict the plain language of the stated rule in any way. Gene Nygaard 13:27, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

P.S. It would probably be instructive for all of you to read through the section I start above, keeping in mind that my comments are based on what was actually written in this rule, and the comments of Jayjg, Vivaldi, Hiding, and Dpbsmith all appear to be (and in the first two cases are admitted to be) based on how they imagined it to be written, as if it already included the part which I have now added. Gene Nygaard 14:12, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

Please desist from revising history; no-one has "admitted" that their comments are based on how they "imagine" the "rule" to be written, and my comments certainly were not made on that basis, though yours were certainly based on some imaginative interpretations of what is stated in that sentence. If your statements continue to display this level of intellectual and factual dishonesty, then there will be no point in my responding to any of them, and I will instead merely edit as I see fit. Jayjg (talk) 15:53, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
I'm not revising history; we can read what you wrote above, too.
  • Jayjg:"You don't investigate and come up with your own novel theories regarding the different numbers, as that is original research. If it's important, sooner or later someone will publish this theory in a reputable source (if it has not been done already).
Not only do you say it is limited to "original research", but in the actual wording then, whether or not someone else published it is totally irrelevant to the probhibition of inventigation and evaluation of the truth.
And this series:
  • Jayjg:We don't do our own research into whether or not we think the information the reliable sources provide is true or false.
  • GN:It says we do not investigate, we do not evaluate the truth of the statement. Period. No limitation only to "by our own research".
  • Jayjg:You seem to keep forgetting that these guidelines and policies work together, not in isolation, and that your definition of "investigate" is a unique strawman one that has nothing to do with policy.
Of course, as Vivaldi pointed out below, this rule is not "policy". Gene Nygaard 17:17, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
It would probably be instructive for all of you to read through the section I start above, keeping in mind that my comments are based on what was actually written in this rule, and the comments of Jayjg, Vivaldi, Hiding, and Dpbsmith all appear to be (and in the first two cases are admitted to be) based on how they imagined it to be written, as if it already included the part which I have now added. Gene Nygaard First of all, this isn't a "rule". It is a guideline. Secondly, if you continue to use your imaginative and convoluted interpretation of this one specific sentence in a guideline to justify actions which clearly are against the consensus viewpoint and against the spirit of this guideline and all the other policies and guidelines and conventions of Wikipedia -- you will find that your editing time here will be unproductive. I do not "imagine" this to be a "rule", nor do I "imagine" that this guideline is written in any manner than what it is. I, and many other editors, don't have the difficult problems you seem to have in understanding what this sentence means to editors. Vivaldi (talk) 16:36, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
"Rule" is the more general term, one without the specific Wikijargon meanings of "guideline" and "policy".
You act as if we cannot read what you wrote above:
Written in response to my stating of the rule as written:
  • "You don't investigate or evaluate whether they are wrong by utilizing your own original research. This means you can't cite yourself as a source for claims you write in the articles."
Written in response to my pointing out that "Like Jayjg, you seem to be making some interpretation based on what you expect to see here, rather than reading what is actually written".
  • The "no investigation" deal means that your own original research shouldn't be used."
Gene Nygaard 17:03, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
Gene- Like you've been instructed before, this one particular sentence does not exist in a vacuum. We have lots of other guidelines and policies that are contructed all over the place to help you put this particular guideline in its proper context. You are insisting on dissecting out a particular sentence and interpreting it in the strictist sense possible, when it is obvious to nearly every other editor here that the strictist sense is not the correct one. You must view this sentence in the context of other guidelines and policies. In particular, you have been guided towards No Original Research. I agree with you that one possible interpretation of this sentence is that nobody may ever do any fact checking, but I believe that strict interpretation is clearly not correct given my understanding of Wikipedia and the full context of all the guidelines, policies, conventions, styles, etc... Vivaldi (talk) 17:35, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
Vivaldi, if you agree that "nobody may ever do any fact checking" is a possible interpretation, why not change to wording to rule this interpretation out, and make this sentence more consistent with the rest of the policy? My suggestion is:
  • change "we do not investigate, or in any other way attempt to evaluate, whether they are right or wrong"
  • to "articles should not investigate, or in any other way evaluate, whether a source is right or wrong."
This makes clear that the problem is putting OR in articles. The problem is not (as in Gene's example) doing some calculations to check the credibility of a source.Ragout 03:52, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
Vivaldi, any unsolicited private instruction I may have received is irrelevant. It doesn't change the plain English of the actual wording.
There's probably a word for it, though it doesn't come to mind right now. This is like the print equivalent of a soundbite.
That's what other people are going to get thrown at them—what appears to be a concise summary of the section. Though it does rather baffle me why the summary of this section doesn't have something to do with using multiple sources instead.
I didn't realize when I started this, but the bold highlighting of one sentence to make it really stand out from the rest of the paragraph was something that had only been added by SlimVirgin a few days earlier. Gene Nygaard 10:31, 28 April 2006 (UTC)typo fixed 10:50, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
I also chose to refer to it as a "rule" in this case to make it clearer that I was talking about one particular piece of advice found on the page. In Wikijargon usage, "guideline" is often used for the page as a whole, as in "WP:RS is a guideline". Gene Nygaard 17:55, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

It's important to disinguish Original Research from editorial oversight. It is not "original research" to not include inofrmation that is deemed unfit. That is an editorial decision. For example, the Flat Earth Societies scientific description of the Global Positioning System, while may be sourced to the hilt with their experts, it is editorial judgement that assesses those claims, not Original Research. Wikipedia is not just a collection of links and views of whomever has an opinion.

Gene, perhaps you should create a special sub-page of this talk page where you can publish your own interesting thoughts and unique theories regarding policies at length, and leave some room on the actual Talk: page for the rest of us to get on with working on the guideline. If you click on Wikipedia talk:Reliable sources/Gene Nygaard's ideas you can get started. Just a thought. Jayjg (talk) 17:52, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
I can't see what the issue is here, except that the change is not an improvement. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:08, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
It is what everyone here has been saying the existing rule actually is. Including you. And the redundancy problem you complained about has been taken care of. Gene Nygaard 18:14, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
What is the difference between the two versions? [10] I can see a difference in the writing quality (one is good, one is awkward), but otherwise I can't see one. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:48, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
Well, Gene's version is still redundant, as it mentions the NOR policy two sentences in a row, and is also non-encyclopedic "it is not the job of Wikipedians etc." Those would be other differences. Jayjg (talk) 19:10, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
So, that redundancy is easy to fix. Take it out of the unbolded portion as well; it adds nothing to the meaning there. Leave it in the bolded portion, where it clarifies the meaning, in accordance with what everybody has been saying here on the talk page. Gene Nygaard 19:27, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
Yes, it was easy to fix, and I fixed it. It's now concise, well-written, and unambiguous. Problem solved. Jayjg (talk) 20:25, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
No, it isn't fixed.
1. It suffers from the same problem as the version from before I raised the issue of not identifying the "investigation" and "attempts to evaluate" applying when they are done "by our own original research".
  • The link to WP:NOR in your version is just a preamble, rather than a postscript, and does nothing more to limit the application of the rule stated in the main clause than it did before.
2. The term "In accordance with" is at best misplaced, and at worst grossly misleading. Gene Nygaard 22:41, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
Hi Gene. We've finished with that section and moved on. If you have more musings, please remember to use Wikipedia talk:Reliable sources/Gene Nygaard's ideas. Thanks. Jayjg (talk) 23:21, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
But I see you've gone ahead and already filled it with the things you can understand! Gene Nygaard 02:36, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

Whether you agree with them or not, recent edits by Rjensen, Ragout, and Tbeatty have highlighted additional problems with the wording of this particular rule.

If it weren't for whole hordes of editors constantly investigating, testing, and evaluating most everything written on Wikipedia, Wikidpedia wouldn't be worth a minute of my time nor anyone else's.

WP:RS deals with the use of reliable sources for what is published in the articles. It is beyond the scope of authority of this guideline to prescribe what happens outside of that.

Furthermore, I'd suggest that if a Jayjg/User:SlimVirgin version of this rule is to remain, then we need a glossary on this project page to explain the unique meanings used here for terms such as:

There are probably others which could be added to this list. Gene Nygaard 13:30, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

Another problem:

WP:NOR stands on its own two feet. It is not the role of WP:RS to try to paraphrase and restate it.
One of the problems, of course, is that any such paraphrase will be based on a "snapshot" of that page.
Since original research can never be a "reliable source", there really isn't a whole lot more that needs to be said about it here. Gene Nygaard 14:20, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
Gene, you're on the wrong page. Remember, please use Wikipedia talk:Reliable sources/Gene Nygaard's ideas. Jayjg (talk) 19:38, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
I am using that. It is a special page for every on-topic response from Jayjg . Gene Nygaard 10:38, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
I can't find anything in WP:NOR amounting to "we do not investigate, or in any other way attempt to evaluate, whether they are right or wrong". I'm very pleased too! The issue is what may properly be entered into Wikipedia. On the basis of what one believes is factual, one may make verifiable (and preferably verified) edits, supported by reputable sources. There is no requirement to ignore the real world, the requirement is to describe the world with reference to reputable sources without reporting one's own conclusions from these sources. I am sorry Gene Nygaard has met with such a negative response from some editors. Perhaps his strong and vivid example regarding Shackleton has diverted attention from the change he attempted to this guideline. Thincat 11:36, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
There do seem to be an inordinate amount of people hanging around here who can't see the forest for the trees, aren't there? And that's even after I pointed out to Hiding right away that he had missed the point entirely—that the issue here was precisely that, the wording of this rule. Gene Nygaard 12:01, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
P.S. The point Thincat makes is also precisely why I suggested that we have a glossary and that it include the Jayjg/SlimVirgin meaning of In accordance with, and also why I pointed out that it is not the role of WP:RS to paraphrase and restate WP:NOR. Gene Nygaard 12:06, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Fundamental problems with "Check multiple independent sources"

The problems with this section of the problem go far beyond those discussed in a couple of the talk page sections above.

The first two paragraphs deal with various faults in perception and memory, a couple of the things which can cause variations in what you find even in "reliable sources".

The third paragraph says that "if multiple independent sources agree" (note that it doesn't say all) and they are either not biased or their biases balance, "then you may have a reliable account".

But the rest of this section, and the rest of WP:RS in general, seems to be devoted to the proposition that a "reliable account" is not the goal, is not even a legitimate goal, and is in fact irrelevant. What we are striving for is a "verifiable" account from "reliable sources".

The second fundamental problem is that while the third paragraph does at least provide some guidance when multiple sources agree, nowhere are we given any advice about what to do when we run across those inevitable variations in verifiable accounts from reliable sources, the very thing we are warned so strongly about in the first two paragraphs of this section.

Given that no real guidance is provided, what's the purpose of having a guideline in the first place? Gene Nygaard 15:48, 27 April 2006 (UTC)