Wikipedia talk:Identifying reliable sources/Archive 23

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Archive 22 Archive 23 Archive 24

Tightening up on blogs

I've made the following change:

Before "Blogs" in this context refers to personal and group blogs. Some newspapers host interactive columns that they call blogs, and these may be acceptable as sources so long as the writers are professionals and the blog is subject to the newspaper's full editorial control. Posts left by readers may never be used as sources.
After "Blogs" in this context refers to personal and group blogs. Some newspapers host interactive columns that they call blogs, and these may be acceptable as sources so long as the writers are professional journalists or are eminent in the field on which they write and the blog is subject to the newspaper's full editorial control. Posts left by readers may never be used as sources.

I could be a time-served professional plumber but my opinion on an Oscar nomination, even where subject to editorial control, isn't a reliable source for anything except my clearly unqualified personal opinion. The same applies, of course, to other opinion columns, and indeed to "special" journalism carried out by clearly unqualified individuals. --TS 21:19, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

In my experience with them, being a professional journalist sometimes doesn't mean much more than spending a few hours "learning" a subject to popularize it. (At a research center I was shocked at the NPR "science reporter" writing about our project -- not just her ignorance of a high school science concept -- but a seeming inability to understand it when explained.) Probably the strongest indicator is whether someone is a professional in that field. Regards, Piano non troppo (talk) 00:01, 4 February 2010 (UTC)


Can we say that Spoiler TV is a reliable source? [] ChaosMaster16 (talk) 00:20, 7 February 2010 (UTC)ChaosMaster16

Inclined to say no. It appears to be the personal web project of Andy Philip, who is not any sort of industry expert or insider, and from its brief "about" information, it relies on rumors and "tips" from users and content taken from other sites ("Unlike larger sites like EW, TV Guide and E!Online who never post each others info, we here at SpoilerTV post all spoilers from all sites."). It fails all aspects of WP:RS. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 01:07, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

Choctaw Wikipedia is not inclusive of all Choctaw?

Halito, (talk) 20:32, 10 February 2010 (UTC) Chim Achukma? Some of the information on the Choctaw Wikipedia is not inclusive or erronerous. Here's why, see treaties on website:

We are the Principle Choctaw Nation descendents. Although some Choctaws did leave Florida and North Carolina to move to what has become Mississppi and Oklahoma today, it does not change the fact that Choctaw still inhabit their Tribal lands of Florida.

Expert outside sources: Cenozoic seas: the view from eastern North America By Edward J. Petuch

The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South By Alan Gallay

The long Hunt: death of the Buffalo East of the Mississippi by Ted Franklin Belu This book is located in the Library of Congress.

We have many more resource which establish the Choctaw Nation origins in Florida. We still inhabit these land today as the Choctaw Nation of Florida. Yakoki!

This is not the place to raise these issues. (Each discussion page on Wikipedia has quite a specific purpose, to help keep things focused.) You should go the articles about which you are concerned, and at each one, click on the Discussion tab to contribute to the discussion on that particular article. Barnabypage (talk) 20:43, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
I am not sure if the editor is complaining about the use of the Choctaw Wikipedia as a source for an article on the English Wikipedia, or compaining about the Coctaw Wikipedia in general... if the former we can advise that it should not be used, because wikis are not considered Reliable Sources ... if the latter there is nothing we can do to assist... the other language Wikis are different entities and what we say here has no connection to what they say there. (All the different language Wikipedias are seperate and have their own rules and customs). Blueboar (talk) 21:40, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
The Choctaw wikipedia project is dead. [1]. Gigs (talk) 21:54, 10 February 2010 (UTC)


Per the discussion on obituaries above, I propose that we should clarify that advertisements are not reliable sources except for certain limited types of fact. Draft text:

Advertisements in any medium are not reliable sources, because they are in effect self-published, although they may be used to source certain facts where the advertiser would have no motive to mislead. Thus, the statement in an ad for a show that My Fair Lady is playing at the Acme Theater can be used to source the name of the venue; but Acme Bran is the healthiest way to start the day could not be used to source that assertion. Also beware of advertorials.

This next point is purely anecdotal, of course, but my experience of working in newspapers and magazines is that a surprising number of readers do not always make the distinction between advertising and editorial correctly in all cases. Hence, there is a risk that some Wikipedia editors will make the same error, and the risk should be highlighted to them. Barnabypage (talk) 20:43, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Just say they are subject to WP:SELFPUB if you must say anything. Gigs (talk) 21:56, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Frankly, I fail to see how Barnabypage thinks that this is worth codifying, while also believing that the previously-mentioned obituaries section is not. Except that this was proposed by him, while the obituaries section was proposed by someone else.--Blargh29 (talk) 00:48, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
I don't recall saying that the obituaries proposal was not worth codifying - indeed, I think I am one of the few who made constructive suggestions concerning its content. Regarding advertisements, there are far more advertisements than classified obituaries - the latter is a subset of the former - so it might make more sense to develop a general policy on advertisements than to focus on obituaries specifically. Barnabypage (talk) 01:00, 11 February 2010 (UTC)


To whoever fixes the WP:RS redirect next: please also fix WT:RS and WP:Rs. I just made them all point here, but don't care which way they go, as long as they either all go here or all to Wikipedia:Verifiability#Reliable sources. Ucucha 21:44, 15 February 2010 (UTC)


I added a section discussing the use of obituaries as reliable sources. --Blargh29 (talk) 06:39, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

I've reverted as there was no prior discussion nor seeming consensus to add this section. Please discussion first. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 13:58, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Why? Unless you (or someone else) has an actual objection to it, there's no reason to remove it. Mere lack of prior discussion is not a valid reason to revert a change. Gigs (talk) 16:41, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Bullcrap ... objecting to a change because it was not discussed is an "actual objection". It is a perfectly valid reason to revert. Blueboar (talk) 16:56, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
So, are there any actual objections to the new obituaries section?--Blargh29 (talk) 16:58, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Blueboar, it smacks of ownership and contravenes WP:BOLD. If someone doesn't have an actual problem with a change, they shouldn't be reverting it. Gigs (talk) 17:04, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
No, it does not. BOLD notes that if its objected to, don't run around screaming "you don't have a valid objection so I'm gonna keep putting my personal opinion in a widely used guideline because its really MY page." Obviously the change was objected to. It has no consensus. WP:RS is not some little personal project. All major changes should have community consensus not just one persons random idea toss in. As for my view on the new section, it seems like pointless WP:CREEP and completely out of place with the rest of the section. At best, it probably belongs at Wikipedia:Reliable source examples. I also see absolutely no need for it. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 17:15, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Can we discuss the merits of the addition, rather than indulging in our tastes for wikilawyering?!? Mangoe (talk) 17:10, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Well, see that's the thing, no one has raised any actual concerns about the addition! Gigs (talk) 17:12, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Collectionian has reverted me with a nonsensical edit summary that "my bold edit was reverted". I think he has me confused with Blargh29. Collectonian, there's nothing to discuss if you don't say what you think is wrong with the addition. Gigs (talk) 17:15, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
There is plenty to discuss and no, I'm not confused. You boldly added a new idea, and it was reverted. So quit acting like a two year old, propose your addition, and get community consensus instead of whining that it was reverted. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 17:16, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
I will also note that the additon violates WP:Consensus#Policies and guidelines in that it was a big thing done suddenly (ie with no discussion.) It that enough of an actual concern for you, Gigs? Now, can we discuss the merits of the change rather than the demerits of the revert? Blueboar (talk) 17:23, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Collectonian, you remain confused in that its not my addition. Thanks for at least posting an actual concern that can be discussed, but lay off the personal attacks. Gigs (talk) 17:42, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Okay, here are two points on the proposed new section. I agree with the gist of it, but:
(a) Obituaries at newspapers and other publications are frequently not written by staff journalists but by outsiders who have an especially informed perspective on the deceased party - sometimes, indeed, people who knew him. For example, if astrophysicist X dies, astrophysicist Y (if she is a good writer) might be invited to contribute an obituary.
(b) The addition perpetuates the myth (acknowledged even in fact checking) that newspapers fact-check on a rigorous and routine basis. They don't - for that matter I don't think even the U.S. newsweeklies do it the way that they used to be famous for.
The long and short of all this is that instead of referring to journalists and fact checking we should use a broader term like editorial oversight to distinguish editorial obituaries, which are more or less as reliable as the rest of the publication, from advertisement obituaries, which can't be a reliable source for much if anything. (Maybe for birth and death dates, the names of children and spouse, etc., but that's about it.) Barnabypage (talk) 17:37, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
(edit conflict)I am the one who added the new sub-section, not Gigs. As someone who rarely edits in policy areas, I am surprised at the mount in intramural sniping and wikilawyering that is going on here. For the record, I did solicit discussion about the addition. Someone has a problem with it? Let's hear about that, and not who reverted who...---Blargh29 (talk) 18:50, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Blargh... HUH? I though sniping and wikilawyering was required on policy pages... I mean it happens so often, I just assumed... 19:25, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

New sub-section obituaries

I hereby propose the addition of a sub-section dealing with obituaries. This is an important addition, because classified obits are published within reliable sources, like newspapers, but they themselves are probably not so reliable. Furthermore, I think this new sub-section should go under the "Reliability in specific contexts" section, because classified obits arise within a specific context that should be given special consideration. Here is my proposal:--Blargh29 (talk) 18:50, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Obituaries can be an invaluable resource for biographical articles, providing essential details like birth and death dates, family relations, education, and a timeline of major accomplishments. News obituaries, which are written by journalists and subject to fact checking, can provide essential biographical details and a good summary of a person's acheivements. Classified obituaries, which are written and paid for by the deceased's family, should be considered self-published sources and do not contribute to satisfying the General notability guideline.

Quite surprisingly, unless I'm missing it somewhere, there doesn't seem to be a general policy excluding advertisements from reliability in otherwise reliable sources (which there surely should be - although subject to some guidelines imposed by the publication, advertisements are to a large extent self-published). Of course this is a much broader issue than just classified obituaries, but maybe it's needed? If it does exist then it would cover the classified obituaries issue anyway. Barnabypage (talk) 19:11, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
I don't see why. It would seem to be stating the obvious, as the ads themselves are self-published (they can, however, be reliable for sourcing a film premiere or where a theatrical production was held or the like). Much like this thing with the obituaries. Its stating the obvious, and seems more like instruction creep than a necessary addition. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 19:23, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
I see where you're coming from, but stating the obvious might have saved this long discussion here, for example! Barnabypage (talk) 19:35, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Aside from morose humor in the claim that obituaries are self-published, the idea to draw the distinction seems reasonable. But this distinction is applied to all content-based types of publications. Therefore I don't think a separate section is required. If it is an editorial, then we are opening the door to the desire to classify all possible types of editorials (why only obituaries singled out). The same with self-published. Why obituaries? What about "Letters to the editor?" What about marriage announcements? Etc. In other words, please convince us why obituaries must be singled out. Mukadderat (talk) 22:11, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

I think the issue of letters to the editor is a tricky one (I'm not sure offhand if there is a policy covering them; I don't recall noticing one) because they are subject to editorial scrutiny, and indeed any extraordinary or absurd claims may be checked (or result in the letter being rejected for publication). But you're right that marriage announcements and the like are exactly analogous to obits - we should distinguish a paid-for marriage announcement from (say) a news story reporting a celebrity's marriage. This kind of issue is really why I proposed expanding the scope of discussion from one type of obituary vs. another, to editorial vs. advertising in general. The suggestion originally made about obits pretty much hits the mark as far as it goes, but it's just one example of a broader distinction. Barnabypage (talk) 22:25, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

"RS" is about content

P.S. This brings me to another issue: The phrase "classified obits are published within reliable sources" is a demonstration of common comfusion of media and content. We have already seen this discussed right here about "CNN is not so reliable". Therefore I would like you to consider whether this issue must be clearly stated in the policy: "RS" is about content, not content carrier. . Carrier's name is but one prong in the test of "BBC" against, say, "Stormfront". 22:21, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

1879 1918 German-Latin Dictionary

Is a German-Latin dictionary from 1879 1918 a sufficiently reliable source for the statement "the right [hand] (Lat. dextera, dextra; Gr. δεξιά) was commonly used in antiquity as a symbol of pledging trust, friendship or solemn allegiance to a master"? I don't think it is, so I'd like other peoples opinion. I happen to be skeptical that "the right hand" was a common symbol of allegiance in antiquity.

The statement is made in Roman salute article. The source can be seen here.--Work permit (talk) 01:57, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

N.B.: the dictionary I used was the digitized 1918 (8th edition), not the one from 1879. The Georges dictionary is still a standard work for classicists/philologians (de:Karl_Ernst_Georges). Furthermore, it is a definite and reliable source, since two other Latin dictionary (OLD & Lewis-Short, both standard works themselves) confirm it: "token" (= "symbol"), "frequent sign", "symbol" etc.. Several primary sources I dug up also confirm (see article discussion). As I explained there, the term dext[e]ra also received the specific meaning "oath" and "pledge" due to the right hand's use during oaths and pledges. — (talk) 20:33, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
What does the source actually say (in English)? Barnabypage (talk) 11:48, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
It mentions the "right [hand]" as a sign of friendship, sign of trust/loyalty etc. English Latin dictionaries refer to it even more explicitly as a "symbol" or "token" (v.s.). — (talk) 20:33, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
You could use in-text attribution—"according to ..." etc. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 21:44, 15 February 2010 (UTC)


OK, Silly question time. I think that we all agree that Wikipedia is not itself a reliable source, right? So, where does it actually say that? It is inappropriate to add references to articles saying, essentially, "see: Other article", correct?
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 03:49, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

  • WP:PSTS - Wikipedia is a tertiary source
Our policy: Wikipedia articles may not be used as tertiary sources in other Wikipedia articles, but are sometimes used as primary sources in articles about Wikipedia itself..
--Work permit (talk) 04:15, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
There it is, thank you. I knew that I wasn't crazy, and it said this somewhere. With all of the recent changes here I couldn't find it...
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 05:14, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Add also WP:CIRCULAR. Crum375 (talk) 05:22, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

This page again

For anyone coming from the RfC:

This is a proposal to move Wikipedia:Reliable sources to either Wikipedia:How to identify reliable sources or Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources. This is to emphasize that it is a "how to" guideline, rather than the "whether to" policy, which is Wikipedia:Verifiability. Please say whether you support the proposal, and what your preference is for the title.


Guys, I'm sorry to harp on about this, but we need to do something about this page. It's causing confusion all over the project, making some editors think that the need to supply sources is just a guideline, and that they can be flexible about it.

I've suggested many times before merging this, redirecting it, to avoid the confusion with the policy. If we're not willing to do that, can we please at least move it to Wikipedia:How to find reliable sources or Wikipedia:Identifiying reliable sources. That will signal to people that this guideline is a "how to," not a "whether to." SlimVirgin TALK contribs 00:06, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

I agree. However after re-reading the page I see that its correct title should be Wikipedia:Reliability of sources, because it discusses both reliable and questionable sources with about equal emphasis. Or, along the idea of SlimVirgin, Wikipedia:Identifying the reliability of sources.
In addition, I would suggest that the shortcuts WP:RS, etc. must redirect to the policy: Wikipedia:Verifiability#Reliable sources, because in many discussions I see arguments, such as "per WP:RS", which often refer to policy, because that underlying argument seems to be "a source must be reliable". And this page must be shortcutted with WP:IRS or WP:IRoS. Mukadderat (talk) 00:33, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
P.S. Sorry for my short memory: I have already suggested this rename and it was even seconded. Mukadderat (talk) 00:38, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
I completely agree... We should definitely seperate the "rules" from the guidance, and a name change would probably help keep them seperate. This guideline (whatever we call it) should focus cleanly on "how to" determine the reliability of sources, and refer any and all "whether to" issues to WP:V (and to the extent that we need to repeat a policy "rule" to help explain some "how to" issue, it should be done as a quote and attributed to the policy). Blueboar (talk) 01:06, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
The sugestion or repeating and/or quoting the policy has already been sugested by me earlier and rejected as unfeasible. Mukadderat (talk) 15:43, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
In that case, I propose Wikipedia:How to identify reliable sources, WP:HIRS or WP:IRS. Having the "how to" in the title stresses the function of the page. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 07:23, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
Makes sense to me... Morphh (talk) 14:47, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
I would still ask you to consider using the word "reliability"' in the title, since the page helps to identify both reliable and unreliable sources. The latter task is just as frequently seen in discussions as the former ones. One needs clear rule of identifying nonreliable sources in order to have reasons to reject some references and even whole articles. Mukadderat (talk) 15:43, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
I think that might make it too long-winded. The two favourites seem to be Wikipedia:How to identify reliable sources, and Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 12:46, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
Agree. I think chaning W:RS to point to policy (W:SOURCES) is the highest priority. I think 'Source reliability' would be a good title.--Elvey (talk) 22:59, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
As I said, I support this idea... however... please be sure to advertize the hell out of this idea. WP:RS is a very long standing guideline, and we can expect a knee-jerk reaction to any suggestion of change in status or renaming. At least an RFC and a post at the VP are called for. Blueboar (talk) 04:17, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

I have always thought this was the policy (it's [[WP:RS]] after all) and never really thought about it beyond that. It sounds like it is easy to fall into that trap. But at the same time, people in the know have probably been using the right one all along. I'd highly recommend making [[WP:RS]] a dab page that links to both. 018 (talk) 19:29, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

IMO there is no reason for dab, since the policy will have a prominent link to WP:IRS. A dab will add only waste of time by hesitation where to go. Besides, starting from a policy is always a useful "refresher course". Mukadderat (talk) 02:13, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
The reason for a dab would be (1) there are many links already to WP:RS that should not be to the policy and (2) people who did not pay attention to the change (almost everyone at first) but knew what they were linking to would probably appreciate the link being to a dab instead NOT what they wanted. 018 (talk) 16:43, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

I agree that WP:RS should link to WP:SOURCES section (policy), WP:IRS should link to the current WP:RS page (guideline), and the latter's title should become "Identifying reliable sources" to clarify its scope. WP:SOURCES should contain a link to the WP:IRS guideline (as it does now) for detailed guidance in how to identify reliable sources, with the same caveat for policy taking precedence over guideline in case of conflict. Crum375 (talk) 02:47, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

I'd go along with that.--Kotniski (talk) 13:03, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
Ditto. --Elvey (talk) 23:50, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
Okay, as we seem to have no objections, I'm going to move the page to Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources (WP:IRS), which follows the syntax of Wikipedia:Citing sources, also a "how to." SlimVirgin TALK contribs 04:32, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
That's done. Does anyone have a view on what to do about the Reliable sources noticeboard? I had forgotten that was a subpage of Reliable sources, so when I moved all the subpages, that was moved to Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources/Noticeboard. I wasn't sure people would want that, so I moved it back. But it means it's now a subpage of a title that exists only as a redirect. Is that a problem? SlimVirgin TALK contribs 04:53, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
  • Resisting the urge to have a kneejerk reaction here. I see some sense, but I don't like it that WP:RS doesn't go to what it used to go to. Maybe WP:RS should point to Wikipedia:Verifiability#Reliable_sources. It is often cited as a reference for a *need* for reliable sources, not for identifying/typing. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:49, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Seems to me that such a major change should have had a lot more advertisement (which was requested and apparently not done) and discussion rather than being a consensus of just a few folks. Further, the RfC had not run its course, instead the admin who made the proposal and started it just declared he had consensus and implemented it?? This seems highly inappropriate to me - no admin should close their own RfC. I'd hope someone would revert this and generate more discussion first - since it clearly has been rejected in the past. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 05:57, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
I oppose this rename, although it may be too late. We've got all sorts of screwy names around here. As long as it works for us, that's what counts. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) 06:10, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
(ec) I posted an RfC and to the PUMP. And this has not been rejected in the past, Collectonian. Smokey, WP:RS does go to that section of V, or did I misunderstand?Peregrine, why do you oppose? SlimVirgin TALK contribs 06:12, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
It's only a page title (not even in article space), no-one's objected (I don't see any substance in these late objections), plenty of people supported, so I think it was perfectly right to move it, and we should now move on. --Kotniski (talk) 09:12, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
I have to say that I don't much like this change either. I haven't commented earlier since I didn't think that this had a realistic chance of occuring; on the other hand, now that It's done I find that I simply don't care all that much. You could have put a bit more planning and forethought into the move, though. The most immediate significant criticism that I can think of, off the top of my head, is that this was a solution in search of a problem, but if it was important to y'all... *shrug*
— V = I * R (Talk • Contribs) 03:18, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
It had a good succinct name, that everybody knew, and now it has neither. I guess I also don't care that much though. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) 03:54, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

Ahh. WP:RS went to that section of V, but wp:rs=WP:Rs did not. I fixed WP:RS to make it the same as WP:RS. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 12:21, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, Joe. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 03:34, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

name change to "Identifying reliable sources"

  • Terrible section title. In forums people are encouraged not to title their threads "Help!". This is similar - a generic title that makes you think no action is being taken. I added a subsection with a decent title to add some detail, but still, I would have expected more from experienced editors... I don't really care that much about the change; it's annoyingly longer, but I suppose it's more logically precise.II | (t - c) 17:25, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

RS noticeboard

Does anyone here have a view as to what we should do with the RS noticeboard? When I moved the page, I moved all the subpages too, thinking I'd catch only archives. I had forgotten that the RS noticeboard is a subpage of RS. When I saw I had moved it and its archives, I undid the subpage move.

Any thoughts? Consistency is good, so really all pages should be moved. On the other hand, if people are used to the noticeboard being called the RS noticeboard, they might prefer that it stay there. The reason we moved this page was to make clear it was a "how to" guideline, and not a "whether to" policy. But that concern doesn't apply to the noticeboard, so there is no pressing need to move that, apart from consistency. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 18:56, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

IMO it is unimportant where it stays, as long as a redirect is in place. A more immediate issue IMO is where to point the Wikipedia:Reliable soruces: to WP:IRS or to the policy section. Mukadderat (talk) 21:50, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
I would leave Wikipedia:Reliable sources in place for now, pointing here, but the WP:RS shortcut pointing to the relevant section of the policy. Once people are used to the redirect, we can perhaps move the former too. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 03:33, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

Title change and short cut redirect

I see that the proposed moves have taken place.... the short cut WP:RS now points to WP:Verifiability#Reliable sources and the title of this page is now WP:Identifying reliable sources.

I have no problem with these moves... they were discussed and recieved some degree of consensus... but I am concerned that this did not recieve more discussion or notification. At the least, this should have been mentioned at the Village Pump. I have rectified that omission. Blueboar (talk) 18:36, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

It was mentioned at the Village Pump. There was no omission. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 21:32, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
I am not enamored of the change in the title of Wikipedia:Reliable sources. It seems to me that this guideline is just as much about evaluation as identification and includes other things such as defining what a reliable source is. I agree with AnmaFinotera who said, Seems to me that such a major change should have had a lot more advertisement. I would recommend putting it back and getting broader input. I would also like to see some analysis of the "confusion" mentioned at the beginning of the Discussion above, namely, It's causing confusion all over the project, making some editors think that the need to supply sources is just a guideline, and that they can be flexible about it. The first paragraph of this guideline is very specific about that. How are they confused? --Bejnar (talk) 03:53, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Agreed, this change seems to have been discussed without much advertisemnet and as it is so major a little bit more care should have been taken. I am not aware of any particular confusion caused under the old name. Jezhotwells (talk) 12:38, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
It seems a little stilted to me but I can live with it. I am surprised after being so active in RSN debates ( or is it now IRSN? ) that there wasn't more fanfare about this. The only issue I have is that the WP:RS shortcut should stay where it is. I don't want to move it to an intro paragraph within WP:V, for a variety of reasons. Squidfryerchef (talk) 15:29, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
I think moving the shortcut is what lies at the heart of the issue here... I may be wrong, but it seems like the entire reason for the renaming was to move the shortcut to WP:V#Reliable sources. Squid... would you share some of your reasons for not moving it? Blueboar (talk) 15:56, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
OK, I'll bite:
  • The page about reliable sources is a guideline, not a policy. While the name change seems to remind people of that fact, it also will have the side-effect of pushing WP:IRS into obscurity and having WP:V usurp that role. Moving a shortcut that's extremely widely used in content debates will accelerate that process.
  • It's essentially a way to turn a guideline into policy without going through all the checks and balances. It reminds me a bit of how another sourcing guideline, WP:PSTS ended up in WP:NOR which it's only tangentially related to.
  • I don't believe that it's ever proper to move a shortcut that's so widely used to a different page. It's fine to correct it to the new title, but not to a paragraph within a different policy. That doesn't seem to jive with how pages are normally moved on WP.
  • It breaks a lot of links, some browsers seem to have trouble with anchor redirects, and it makes liars out of all of use who ever said "RS is a guideline, not a policy".
  • A shortcut called "IRS" isn't an apt metaphor for editors based in the U.S. And what will we call RSN now? IRSN?
  • Only the name change, not the shortcut change was listed in the RFC, the part that was transcluded to the RFC pages. There's no basis on moving the shortcut other than a few people on a talk page and VPP just before a multi-holiday weekend, so I don't feel bashful about reverting it.
  • The RS/IRS page has several other shortcuts such as WP:RELIABLE, etc. It makes sense to keep RS together with them.
  • I don't beleive there was ever a problem with WP:V being a policy about citing your sources and the rock-bottom minimum standards for reliability, and WP:RS being a more subjective but widely followed guideline. Keeping policy and guideline separated prevents editors from either forcing out or forcing in sources that fall in the gray area between the two against consensus.
Squidfryerchef (talk) 16:50, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Agree with squid's reversion of the shortcut. It just breaks too many old links and mentions of WP:RS which may not have been linked. I don't know if a bot could fix them all, but I don't think it's worth the effort. The rename of the page is fine with me. Gigs (talk) 17:06, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Squid's first comment goes to the heart of the issue here... While this page (Wikipedia:Reliable soruces) has long been a guideline, the concept of Reliable Sources is and has always been part of Policy (with multiple Policies stating that we need to cite reliable sources)... This split between Page status and Concept status is what causes confusion. The rename and move of the shortcut resolved this split. Blueboar (talk) 17:41, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Well the problem is that it's going to lead to a deprecation of WP:IRS and instruction creep towards WP:V. I'd much rather see WP:V trimmed down and the specifics moved towards WP:IRS (and PSTS moved back to IRS). That said, the many broken discussions caused by moving WP:RS is a serious issue; it's really bad to just move the cheese like that. If people want a snappy shortcut to the blurb about reliable sourcing in WP:V, create a new one called WP:VRS or WP:RSV. Squidfryerchef (talk) 17:55, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
  • Blueboar could you be more specific about the nature of the confusion, especially in light of the first paragraph of this guideline? --Bejnar (talk) 18:57, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
I am referring to confusion that exists between saying "The need for RS is policy" vs. saying "no, WP:RS is only a guideline". The concept is policy, but the page where that concept is explained is a guideline. That confuses people. Blueboar (talk) 19:20, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
(Asside... Squid, I think you are confused as to the history of WP:PSTS. We can not move WP:PSTS back to WP:IRS or WP:RS becuase it did not originate here... it originated at NOR, and was essentially copied into WP:RS relatively recently.) Blueboar (talk) 19:20, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

Squid, I have no problem moving the shortcut back to this page. The shortcut wasn't the issue. The key issue was giving this page a title that made clear it was a "how to" page, and not a "whether to" one. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 21:34, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

I just went to do it, and see that you've done it already. I'm fine with that. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 21:36, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
OK, pardon my lateness, it looks like people have also moved WT:RS and so forth back. Looks like we've arrived at something we can all live with. Squidfryerchef (talk) 19:58, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Author's identity

A question has arisen at Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Noticeboard#Pseudonymous_sources whether the author's identity matters in judging the reliability of a source, or whether it's just the publisher. I believe it is established practice to consider both author and publisher in tandem, where the author has a reputation; but it is asserted that policy doesn't support that - and I can't find anything that shows it does. Comments? Rd232 talk 11:50, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

I'd say it depends on where the editorial control or fact checking would lie. If a book is published at a place like Infinity vanity press, then obviously the author is all that matters. A newspaper has more layers of checking on high profile stories at least, so the author doesn't matter as much. Gigs (talk) 14:04, 3 March 2010 (UTC)
We must examine the source as a whole when assessing reliability. As the guideline states: The word "source" as used on Wikipedia has three related meanings: the piece of work itself (the article, paper, document, book), the creator of the work (for example, the writer), and the publisher of the work (for example, The New York Times or Cambridge University Press). All three can affect reliability. Reliable sources may therefore be published materials with a reliable publication process; they may be authors who are regarded as authoritative in relation to the subject in question; or they may be both.
This cuts both ways... while the author's identity is a factor in determining whether a source is reliable or not... it is not the only factor. So, while the fact that a source is written pseudonymously (or even annonymously) might be a reason to consider it unreliable, that consideration might be negated by other factors, such as being cited in other respected and reliable sources.
In other words... this is yet anothter situation where you need to judge the specific source. We can not make a one-size-fits-all rule on this. Blueboar (talk) 14:16, 3 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, I wasn't expecting such a rule. I just wanted to be clear that it is written that the author is a relevant factor. Rd232 talk 18:10, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

currency of RSs

Can we add a common sense section that says that old sources are to be used with caution, especially when controversial? The current policy and guidelines say nothing about a source's age. This omission becomes a problem when, for example, an editor wants to cite a 19th century book to support an outdated historical or exegetical analysis. Most editors use common sense, but when the defenders of a POV need to go back 30 , 40, or 100 years to find scholarly support for their opinions, they have been known to staunchly defend old works as equally reliable with current sources. A common issue is the 100-year old Catholic Encyclopedia, but other old works (which may have been reliable in their day) are also commonly cited, especially to counter more recent scholarship. Leadwind (talk) 16:14, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Could we go further and say that all other considerations being equal, a newer source is preferable to an older one on the common-sense grounds that it has the opportunity to reflect more recent research and scholarship? Or is that going to create a lot of pointless wars as people mistakenly replace old, good sources with bad, new ones? Barnabypage (talk) 18:18, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
This really depends on what the topic of the article is. The old CE is still the most reliable source for some topics (the lives of Saints and things like that)... it is an outdated source for other topics ... and it was never a reliable source on still further topics, even back in the day. Blueboar (talk) 20:05, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Not speaking of the CE in particular as I'm not familiar with it, but...if it is a highly reliable source on hagiography, then surely any reliable work written since will draw upon the CE and add any more recent knowledge? I reiterate that this is absolutely not a reason to discount the CE and its kind altogether, but an observation that while more recent reliable works should incorporate anything of value from older ones, the converse obviously can't be true. Barnabypage (talk) 21:10, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
In some cases there isn't anything newer. But I think we agree... use modern sources where you can... use older reliable sources where you can't, but be aware that the information may be outdated Blueboar (talk) 21:47, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes, this is a very good point. Use old sources with care, and prefer more recent sources if available as they can reflect updated knowledge. Fences&Windows 22:58, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
I think Barnaby's word "hagiography" is clearer than BB's "lives of Saints". CE may well be a very good source on the legendary lives; it's unlikely to be so on the historical ones. Peter jackson (talk) 11:30, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
Point taken. Blueboar (talk) 17:25, 24 February 2010 (UTC)
The Catholic Encyclopedia is a curious case, especially as the Western rite Church seems to be swerving back and forth a bit on some issues such as the latin mass. What the CE says about the latin mass may be closer to the current line out of the Vatican than some hippy dippy spirit of Vatican II work coming out of the late 1960s which predates the B16 contribution of the 'hermeneutics of continuity'. Care should be exercised when newer does not mean newest and not just in matters of religion. Discussions on glacier melt in the Himalayas have a similar problem right now. The IPCC AR4 report is simply not reliable on the issue though it is still considered reliable for most issues related to climate science. The IPCC is handicapped by the fact that it both recognizes that AR4 has it wrong and that it has no formal correction process better than to fix it in AR5 which is scheduled to come out in 2014. TMLutas (talk) 16:06, 24 February 2010 (UTC)
i would add that Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition is notorious when the subject becomes the French. i don't know how to account for the bias of the past, without including the bias of the present, but with caution. Pohick2 (talk) 22:34, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

Offline sources

I'm thinking there needs to be a section added mentioning usage of offline sources in articles and how this does not affect their reliability. Right now the only mention of this is a link to the essay in the see also section. This definitely needs to be mentioned as it's important for editors to know that just because a source cannot be found online does not make it unreliable. -- œ 08:52, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

The last sentence of the overview is: It is useful but by no means necessary for the archived copy to be accessible via the internet. Someguy1221 (talk) 09:28, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
That line just seems to be referring to "archived copies" in context to the sentence before it. I guess what I'm looking for is reiteration and a bit stronger emphasis of the points stated at Wikipedia:Offline sources. -- œ 09:45, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
With this in mind, I have edited the first line of the second paragraph of the "Overview" as follows (changes in bold): The term "published" is most commonly associated with text materials, either in traditional printed format or on line. I think this should make it clear. Blueboar (talk) 14:49, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

Reliable Source - Or Reliable Content?

(Please assume WP:NOCLUE)

For something to be a reliable source, does it mean that (A) we can identify the source reliably? (eg with an ISBN, and a page number) Or does it mean that (B) the content that is found at that ISBN/page number has some sort of factual currency?

If it is the former (A), then I believe that undue weight could be placed upon the gravity of what is often not much more than an opinion, and it should be made clear that an RS is just a source which can be found reliably. This itself allows WP to be free from accusations of OR. But it also prevents any claims that WP ever has facts to offer. This is by far my preferred reading of RS, and it allows WP to be free in it's gathering of information from all branches of knowledge without discrimination. Of course, there is still argument about whether or not the opinion of an author of an RS is notable, and there is still a major problem in WP about arbitrating over just how much space or precedent or priority one author should have over another, but at least we wouldn't be involved in imagining that we can somehow divine just what content is accurate and what is not. When there is conflict (which appears to me to be often) then I would give more weight to sources that describe the conflict - these conflicts are often because authors of RS are just not aware of the exceptions that generate the conflict. This is most obvious to me at Buddhism where up until the modern era at least three major populations of Buddhists have been effectively isolated for over a thousand years; and where even modern scholarship tends to be based upon and around only one of these populations.

If it is the latter (B), I would get increasingly worried about what (or who) can arbitrate over just who (which group of people) can make a reliable comment about something, especially when covering broad spectrum statements. Especially (as many historiographers are aware) that even the most erudite scholarly texts are biased and politicised according to the time and place of authorship. For instance, many scholarly works have been published on Eugenics and racial disadvantages in the past. Does that make them reliable? Another instance - what about academic establishments which are not part of the Western(-ized) academic corpus (such institutions as the large monastic universities of Drepung etc, where Geshes obtain hard-won degrees after twenty years of study? Are they discounted/unreliable because they are foreign or don't speak English, (even though several universities (Oxford/Cambridge, and others) acknowledge the Geshe degree as an academic achievement?

(20040302 (talk) 12:07, 16 February 2010 (UTC))

B. the consensus is that such a source is a more reliable source of information for an article. You should use some common sense but that can't trump reliable sources. If they all say the earth is flat and you know it is round then the wikipedia article has to say it is flat. Dmcq (talk) 12:30, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Dmcq, Thanks. Would you care to address some of the questions that I raise under the "B" paragraph: (1) Who at WP arbitrates over just which group of people can be considered to make reliable statements about something? (2) What qualifications/process are necessary for a group of experts in a domain to be established as reliable sources? (3) As the world's knowledge changes, that group of people needs to be re-assessed (otherwise we have eg Eugenics/Phrenology/any outdated science as still being RS). How is that reassessment process managed, and how often does it occur? (20040302 (talk) 13:54, 16 February 2010 (UTC))

You me and the other editors do by WP:CONSENSUS arguing over points here and in the various articles in wikipedia. That's why you can edit this guideline. Dmcq (talk) 14:50, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
(e/c)The community decides in the end through a process of consensus. The reliability of a source is not universal. It's contextual and varies depending on the statement the source is used to support. When sources disagree, we can always fall back on saying who says what, and let the reader decide who is right. We don't need to be an absolute arbiter of "fact" if a "fact" is subject to widespread disagreement. That said, we don't give undue coverage to fringe theories. We tend to emphasize mainstream thought and opinion for better or worse. We often cover fringe theories, but we don't give them equal weight. We try to give coverage based on the coverage that other people give, which weights us toward the mainstream. Gigs (talk) 14:51, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Okay, thank-you for your time. This was very useful to me, even after six years of being an editor. (20040302 (talk) 16:19, 16 February 2010 (UTC))

I am back again. I just read (WSJ Article on WP): The guide credits old media and old-fashioned definitions to establish legitimacy. "These sources should be reliable; that is, they should be sources that exercise some form of editorial control." These include "books published by major publishing houses, newspapers, magazines, peer-reviewed scholarly journals, websites of any of the above and other websites that meet the same basic requirements as any print-based source." In short, "Basically, if anyone at all can post information without anyone else checking that information, it is probably not reliable."

Now, don't get me wrong, but my reading of that paragraph is much more in line with RS being "A" Above: There is no guarantee of fact from said content, but the content has been through some form of editorial control. This definition of RS is far more broad than any concept that the content of the source itself is reliable.

So, I need further persuasion on this. My reading is that any source that is referenceable and has been through some form of editorial process may be considered an RS. It doesn't make the content reliable - it's just possible to reliably attribute an author to it, who has been questioned (or the opportunity of questioning has occured) as to whether or not that is what they wish to say. Am I wildly wrong? (20040302 (talk) 13:18, 22 February 2010 (UTC))

Reliability of attribution is not really the issue. The crux of it is that a statement that has undergone the editorial process in a publication with a reputation for reliability is likely to be reliable. A statement that hasn't undergone that process may very well be reliable, but we have no way of knowing that - or rather, no grounds for assuming it. Barnabypage (talk) 14:58, 22 February 2010 (UTC)
with a reputation for reliability sounds dangerous to me. It seems very hard to talk sensibly about publications with a reputation for reliability, as there just isn't a list. My feeling about this is that publications should be given the benefit of the doubt. Clearly there are papers which have deliberately no reputation for reliability (Sunday Sport = "Hitler Was A Woman" / "Aliens Turned Our Son Into A Fish Finger"). On the other hand, even the National Enquirer has been demonstrated to be a reliable source at times (for instance breaking the John Edwards extramarital affair story, and a reference from that paper would be relevant to the article, so I am not convinced by the gloss with a reputation for reliability is meaningful or sensible; actually worse - it pretends to be something which just isn't necessarily true anyway. As far as I can see, general media (rather than scientific media) are not particularly interested in facts. "Facts don't matter" is pretty much a cliché; moreover, even academic papers and studies are governed by politics (if not Politics) and political stances. Papers and publishers are far more aware of what may be litigious than what may be factual, and of course there should be no surprise about that.
Also, theres the issue of currency (mentioned below) - such that one could argue that even Newton or Darwin are no longer reliable sources, although we could state that they were reliable in their time - so there is no clear cut distinction of reliability over content. This is why I feel that maybe WP needs to think more carefully regarding the RS policy. Even a reliable source such as Nature magazine is only reliable within it's specialisation, and within it's own declared scope of peer review (albeit a much higher level of control than found in many other places). Experts do make statements about things which they know little or nothing about (often to their shame). So it's not enough knowing who said it, or where it was said, but we must know whether or not they are an expert within the field about which they have spoken. Otherwise, if we accept Einstein as a RS, should we not have a cite on God stating that He doesn't play dice?!
I feel that there is something missing - there is some sort of cognitive gap going on which I just don't understand. Maybe it's some sort of common sense which I'm not getting. I just don't end up with a pile of books and journals in one corner all labelled 'unreliable sources' and another pile on the table labelled 'reliable sources'. It just doesn't fit into my world that way. Everything has something reliable about it (even if it's the page number!) - and everything probably has something unreliable about it also. I do not live in an idealised world that way (20040302 (talk) 16:51, 22 February 2010 (UTC))
There just isn't a list - but making such a list is, in essence, what we're engaged in here.
Of course, it does depend on context, and while the New York Times is more likely than the Smalltown Daily Gazette to be reliable on a complex scientific issue, Nature is in turn more reliable than the NYT. So on the one hand it's true that there can't be and shouldn't be a list of invariably reliable (or unreliable) sources, nevertheless some sources are more often reliable than others, and thus it is more acceptable to generally depend on them - particularly for non-contentious points. (A suggestion that President Obama rigged the election requires that the source, down to the individual story, be hugely reliable. The comment that President Obama's dog is called Bo, if made by a generally reliable source, doesn't require extra verification.)
BTW, not to turn this into a general discussion on media reliability, but I think to say general media...are not particularly interested in facts is much too broad-brush. A newspaper or magazine that was consistently plain wrong about everything wouldn't last terribly long (unless, of course, it was overtly offering preposterous stories for their entertainment value, as in the Sunday Sport). Barnabypage (talk) 19:34, 22 February 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for your time. When you say making such a list is, in essence, what we're engaged in here, you mean that there is a list somewhere, or that the job of editors is to collaborate with each other (according to their interests/specialization) to develop a list? I find it hard to believe. As you point out, the reliability of a source depends on context, right down to the sentence level. But that leaves us nowhere regarding a means to arbitrate as to what source is reliable or not in a given context. As I pointed out earlier, sometimes even the National Enquirer is the most reliable source. I would argue, and I would argue strongly that not only is it difficult to identify any hierarchy of (guaranteed) reliability, but it is impossible unless we are omniscient, which is improbable.
A (any-sized) group of people get together and consensually decide what are reliable sources for a particular subject (no matter the breadth). That activity is not reliable. It's just a group of people over a particular timespan. They have failed to reliably identify reliable sources. If our method of identifying reliable sources is unreliable, then we cannot claim to have (reliably) identified reliable sources. How do you claim our 'method of identifying reliable sources' is reliable? Consensus does not guarantee reliability, especially not the partial (ie interested individuals at the time) consensus found on WP, unless we adhere to a very limited belief in the Consensus theory of truth, which has it's own problems - I for one do not believe in it.
I apologise for writing excessive verbiage. It is a challenge for me to sort my thoughts out carefully. (20040302 (talk) 12:30, 23 February 2010 (UTC))
Let me respond with a clarification and an open-ended question.
When I say we are "making such a list" I don't mean that we are, literally, drawing up a list. But what happens is somebody comes along and says "is source X reliable?" or "is source X reliable on subject Y?", the matter gets discussed, and (ideally) a consensus is reached. Then, if the question of source X comes up again, we can just refer back to the previous consensus and say "yup, source X was determined to be reliable" or "nope, source X is no good".
Of course, everyone acknowledges that there are always exceptions - there are bad articles in good sources and vice-versa, and that the quality of sources sometimes changes over time as their editorial policies change. But this approach means that rather than constantly re-debating the same sources over and over again, we can establish a rough-and-ready rule as to a source's reliability - and then if there are reasons to change that rule, or to bend it in the case of a particular article that the source has published, we can just discuss those specific reasons.
Finally, remember that reliability in Wikipedia's sense does not mean truth. It means something like probable truth, barring good reason to believe otherwise.
To my question. What system do you think would be better - more reliable? Barnabypage (talk) 13:10, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
Barnabypage - again, thank-you for your swift and eloquent response. Let me attempt to answer your question, and then I better go think things through some more.
First of all, though, I am remain confused by you telling me that there isn't a list, and then describe exactly that - a list constructed from precedents (previous consensuses), which (as a process) is new to me (I have focussed much more locally to my own domain). If I understand you correctly, then I believe that this article should definitely link to a list of reliable/unreliable sources and the date/link to discussion at which the consensus was made about each source. I believe that doing that would certainly be useful. Maybe someone could write a bot to do it, if it is a very mechanical task.
However, I foresee problems. Especially if a media channel or an author/scholar becomes aware that it is no longer considered to be a reliable source and wishes to contend it, and may even decide that the consideration is worthy of litigation, so we would need reliable sources in order to establish the basis of our consensus. Maybe?
My answer to your question is implied in my earlier posts. I contend that WP should not even begin to claim ability regarding identification of the reliability of content, but merely be very strong upon reliably identifying the source of any content (Verifiability without the RS tail). I believe that the other policies and guidelines (such as notability, balance, npov - and of course verifiability etc.) take care of any other issues.
It may initially seem weak but it shifts the goal into something that I contend is far more realistic and measurable, and verifiability alone prevents OR and litigation. I would propose strengthening verifiability considerably - so that anything for which there are no permanent records cannot be considered verifiable (this would deal a heavy blow to most website sources). Verifiability would involves identifying a chain of responsibility also - so unattributed, and undated/current sources could not be considered.
I am interested in your response to such an answer! (20040302 (talk) 14:01, 23 February 2010 (UTC))
2004 - when I say there isn't a list, I simply mean I can't give you a copy of "the list", or point you to a URL. It doesn't exist in that form (as far as I know). As you say it might be a very useful thing to have, essentially an index to all reliability consensus decisions reached in all Talk pages - I don't think it would be very automatable, though, and it would be a vast task for an individual to undertake, impossibly vast. The best mechanism might be a "submit this consensus decision to the list" tag of some sort which editors could insert into Talk pages. Whether there would ever be consensus to get it implemented is a whole other story...anyway, this is just a train of thought.
I do see the virtues of your proposed alternative to the "reliable source" philosophy. But I think the problem is that it effectively transfers responsibility for determining reliability from a small group of editors to every individual reader, vastly multiplying the effort involved in each reader learning something from Wikipedia - possibly to the extent that it makes the whole project pointless. (Incidentally, excluding Website sources would make this even harder for the individual reader, in fact virtually impossible for many.)
As it stands, there is nothing in principle to stop any reader making their own investigations into source reliability if they so wish, but those (I presume the vast majority) who are happy to have somebody else do the work for them are equally well served.
To look at this a different way - is there in fact a problem with Wikipedia considering unreliable sources as reliable, or vice-versa? And is the reliable-source policy likely to create more errors in the encyclopedia than would creep in under a "verifiable = acceptable" rule?
Personally, I'm not convinced the answer to the first question is "yes" (of course there are problematic individual articles, many of them, but purely IMHO, I don't think the emphasis on reliability creates systemic inaccuracy). However, I'm sure the answer to the second question is "no". Barnabypage (talk) 14:36, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
Barnabypage, again thanks for the time you have put into this. I think that I disagree with your analysis when you consider that my proposal effectively transfers responsibility from a small group of edtors to every individual reader. In the end, the articles regardless of source are authored by a small group of editors, and in each case, the reader (regardless of my proposal or not) the reader is faced with trusting that small group of editors when determining reliability of the article in question. As I see it, the activity of identifying reliable sources does not prevent POV, Balance, Bias, or anything else that may make an article poor.
I thought what you were talking about (regarding consensus decisions and RS) was a centralised activity, rather than a decentralised (article level) one. I am seriously interested in seeing a good example of this process in action, if you could point to one, as I have seen none. Even if it is decentralised, as you say, it should be possible to use some form of template mechanism to assist in the process, so at least editors have a better idea of how to compose/manage a list of RS over a specific specialisation. It is exactly this sort of thing that I am proposing to do within the ≈200 Buddhism articles that I spend more time working on, in light of this discussion.
My purpose in my proposal is not to break WP - quite the opposite. I believe (and it is totally off the top of my head random statistic, for which I am sure one can find statistical evidence) that for every word there is in the sumo of all WP articles, there are at least ten words on talk (and archive) pages. That's a phenomenal amount of text. Within the domains of my own watchlist, I guess that nearly all of those discussions don't have much to say about RS; instead, there are still plenty of arguments for which there are no sources given whatsoever. Why is that? Because the RS bar is too high, maybe. By being able to declare Verifiable without the additional RS requirement, I believe that the use of citations and sources would dramatically increase. I may be wrong, of course. Secondly, I believe that notability of content is important enough a distinguisher without needing to ask for reliability. Eg, the content may not be considered notable enough to be included within the article (this would prevent pseudoscience journals/books from junking up physics articles, which I could see as being a major problem with the removal of RS hierarchies). Remember, that the editors (who are acting as editors!) are responsible for choosing the structure, the content, and the direction of every article, as well as what (and where) sources are to be used. That happens regardless of whether or not those sources are recognised as reliable. I like the idea of reliability, just like I like the idea of objective truth. I just believe that it is unachievable, and therefore sets up an expectation where one is not needed. The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. I understand the motive for that. However, it appears to when you say probable truth, barring good reason to believe otherwise that what you want RS to be is an indicator of truth, not verifiability.
Maybe (sorry if I am restating something obvious) we should insist upon verifiability above and beyond a requirement for reliability. I guess that says it better. I totally understand the importance of being able to reply in a discussion "Thanks for your cite from the "Sunday Sport" regarding the sun being made of chocolate, but it's in direct conflict with this article in "Astrodynamics Today", which is generally considered to be far better informed." It seems sensible to allow for that, so some sort of RS is necessary (of course preferably would be an independent second source). But it's the other way round that I worry about, where people may choose not to cite a source, because it may not be considered reliable. It seems to me that we shouldn't tie RS as such a strong constraint to Verifiability.
Sidenote: Regarding websites, I understand. Maybe I am being way too strong. But being a director of an internet agency, I am aware of just how easy it is for anyone to author anything about anything. More to the point is that a source tied to a non-permanent url is NOT permenantly verifiable, which is a long-term issue that WP already has. (20040302 (talk) 16:12, 23 February 2010 (UTC))
Hi again 2004. As so often as these long discussions continue, it becomes apparent that we agree more than we might have thought we did. :)
On your centralisation/de-centralisation point - discussion happens on both individual article Talk pages, and (when it can't be resolved there) on pages dedicated to RS issues like this one. If I come across a really good example, I'll try to remember to let you know of it, but I have a feeling examples have been asked for before - and provided - so it might be worth looking through the archives.
I do agree that the RS policy sometimes has a tendency to curb additions that would actually improve an article, even when no editor disagrees with the substance of them, and that's a pity; in most cases I would rather see editors add "citation needed" tags than remove the content altogether. I also agree that the RS bar can sometimes be set too high. For example, as defined it is often more appropriate to scientific topics than subjects in the humanities, with the very high emphasis it places on peer-reviewed academic journals. In other cases, it makes artificial distinctions that aren't borne out by the reality of how publishing works (most notably, in my experience, between news stories and staff-written opinion articles in newspapers).
However, these are only my opinions, and it's not my Wikipedia! By and large, in any case, I do support the philosophy of RS if not always its implementation simply because, as you put it, what [I] want RS to be is an indicator of truth - and I think that relying on RS is as good an indicator of truth as we're going to get, short of researching every subject over again from the ground up. Of course, we should carry on refining the definition and identification of RS - both broadly and specifically - to make it an even better guarantee. Barnabypage (talk) 16:54, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
If I may join the discussion, I think we should emphasize A. Mentioning a source as often as possible is the first thing we need to help Wikipedia forward. When mentioning sources, we should try to find the best source possible. I think we should therefore not try to disqualify any sources, we should just provide a guideline on how to choose the best source possible. Discussion can then move from: is this source RS or not? To: is this source better than that one? This will be a discussion aimed at improvement.
A better quality source might be identified as having stronger arguementation/reasoning, better factual support and better sources mentioned in itself. However, having a source mentioned is better than having nothing mentioned.
Any editor deleting a source from an article should only do so if he has a better source to mention in its place. This is not yet common practice, but it should be so, in my humble opinion.--BalderV (talk) 10:56, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

Is a dust jacket cover a reliable source for wp:blp of the author?

Is a just jacket cover a reliable source to use for information about its author? For example, can this cover be used for an article for an article on John Murphy (techncial analyst)? I don't intend to resurrect this particular article (it was deleted because it lacked sources), but I would like to use this sort of reference for other articles if I can.--Work permit (talk) 07:49, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

In my opinion it's clearly a reliable source, but just as clearly a relatively poor one. Moreover, it certainly doesn't help towards establishing notability per WP:GNG. However, for an author who is presumed notable based on other criteria such as an important award or the wide distribution of their books this is an acceptable source for uncontroversial information that doesn't raise red flags. Hans Adler 08:34, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. So if I were to establish notability in this case, it would be appropriate to use this jacket as a source for his education, his jobs, his awards?--Work permit (talk) 09:18, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
I would say yes. Maurreen (talk) 16:06, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
I would add one caution on top of the "not for notability" one just mentioned... a dust jacket bio is probably reliable for non-controvercial stuff, but I don't think it should be used for anything controvercial. I would certainly say that a dust jacket bio is less reliable than many other sources of information. So, if there is a conflict between the dust jacket and some other source, go with the more reliable source. Blueboar (talk) 16:42, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
dust jacket "blurbs" tend to get added to establish notability, (a lot of review sections consist of these) i wouldn't use "review quotes", but if they lead you to the secondary source then ok. Pohick2 (talk) 22:20, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
i did change that to a press release reference, at least we can read online; it raises the question - what is the reliability of press releases? Pohick2 (talk) 16:16, 9 March 2010 (UTC)


Hey all. I'm sure this is a stupid question that has been answered before, but would a work of original reporting from Wikinews, such as a Q&A style interview, considered a reliable source that can be used in a Wikipedia article? Obviously, I'm guessing a regular Wikinews article could not (and since that article itself needs to be sourced, it would be redundant to do so anyway), but since original reporting is more thoroughly reviewed and vetted, would it be acceptable? — Hunter Kahn 22:16, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

Not a stupid question... but yes, it has been asked before. The answer has been uniformely: "No." Wikipedia does not accept Wikinews as a reliable source. Blueboar (talk) 22:22, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
When was the last time this was discussed? WN was/is intended as a means to generate RS for WP purposes. --Kim Bruning (talk) 23:02, 3 March 2010 (UTC)
Wikinews has no editorial oversight or means to ensure the accountability of its editors. That makes it suspect and unusable.--Father Goose (talk) 23:37, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
At first blush, the part about "no editorial oversight" would appear to be patently false. Perhaps I'm just misunderstanding what it is that you meant. How do you square these two assertions (no editorial oversight, no means to ensure accountability...) with the realities of Wikinews policy and practice? --Pi zero (talk) 02:39, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
Just search for "Wikinews" in the archives at WP:RSN... there have been multiple discussions. They all seem to say the same thing... it not considered reliable. Blueboar (talk) 03:38, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
That's a useful pointer; thanks. However, the most recent discussion I see there — from August of last year — seems (superficially, at least) to be based again on the same seemingly false assertion that there's no editorial oversight on Wikinews. Since both instances of this assertion — here and in that discussion from last August — are by you, I was hoping you could offer some explanation of how you reconcile these claims with the use of flaggedrevs, peer review, and the editor bit at Wikinews. --Pi zero (talk) 04:28, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
According to its website, "Wikinews ... has no formal approval process for authors ... it is an open, public news forum, with transitory quality control, at best." There is no editorial board with identified qualified individuals, nor any formal editorial or legal vetting mechanism. Open public forums are not a reliable source, per WP:SOURCES. Crum375 (talk) 04:54, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
I greatly appreciate the specificity of this reference; thankyou.
If I'm properly understanding the nature of that passage from WN:OR, it was written long before current editorial oversight mechanisms were imposed, and not only hasn't been updated since, but has been left in its original boldface, actively encouraging readers unfamiliar with Wikinews authentication standards to take it out of context (missing, quite understandably, both the point of the paragraph within which the words occur, and the authentication measures described earlier on the page at the bottom of which they occur). I'll have to make inquiries at Wikinews and see what the community there thinks about this passage.
Are there other arguments to be made for the claim that WN lacks editorial oversight?
(BTW, the Wikimedia-internal prefix for Wikinews pages is n: ; one could reference an internal page version like this using the fullurl: magic word, though the method I consider cleanest is template {{sec link auto}} — here, {{sec link auto|n|Wikinews:Original reporting|query = oldid=832151|thus}} (thus), or, using the WN:OR shortcut, {{sec link auto|n|WN:OR|query = oldid=832151|thus}} (thus).) --Pi zero (talk) 14:14, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
"Are there other arguments to be made for the claim that WN lacks editorial oversight?" - Yes, if a group of people can't even maintain their own official policy page (which says they have "no formal approval process for authors" and that they are "an open, public news forum, with transitory quality control, at best," but according to you all that is no longer valid), the odds are not good that their editorial oversight for routine news articles is any better. And if you are wrong, and their policy page does reflect their current policy, then it speaks for itself. Crum375 (talk) 21:42, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
This reasoning seems to be based, understandably, on an expectation of Wikipedia-like project dynamics; but Wikinews has dramatically different project dynamics than Wikipedia. Wikipedia develops, in parallel, truly vast numbers of articles whose quality statistically trends upward over long periods of time, by creating policies and guidelines that guide long-term editing of articles. Naturally, the success of the project depends on polishing the policies and guidelines until every surface gleams. Wikinews produces a stream of individual articles of consistently high quality, each on a tight deadline, by enforcing a rigorous, labor-intensive peer review process that must be successfully passed by each article before it can (if it's lucky) be published. Established Wikinewsies pour time into producing the high-quality product. Yes, they find time for administrative pages that aren't directly in the path of the never-ending stream of ticking deadlines; but they find that time usually at a trickle, exactly because they are about the labor-intensive business of producing high-quality articles. Occasional smudges on the brass fittings of the policy pages are a reminder of the process that makes the project successful. --Pi zero (talk) 17:36, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
I am not impugning the motivations of its individual contributors, but questioning the overall structure. In a reliable news source there are multiple layers of editorial oversight, as well as professional legal vetting to avoid liability or libel. Typically there is a publisher, a board of directors, an editorial board, an editor-in-chief and a legal department. The key people are all identified and qualified individuals, and the end result is a product with a reputation for high quality and accuracy (or else it won't survive for long in the marketplace). In the case of WN, as I understand it, we have a forum of anonymous persons, with unknown goals and agendas (since they are not getting paid, it could be altruism, but not necessarily), with some sort of community peer review, but no single identified and qualified individual who reviews and approves every story, and no board or publisher to review that person's work, nor a legal department vetting each story. In addition, if WN were a bona fide news organization, other respectable publications would routinely cite it, as they do CNN or the NYT. At WP we require our reliable sources to have a track record for accuracy, and if there were such a record, WN would be routinely cited by other media. To summarize, WN appears to be an "open public forum", to use its own self-description, and as such, it is not a reliable source for WP's purposes. Crum375 (talk) 18:01, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Once again, that "self-description" you are referring to is very much out-of-date and a mistakenly-left remnant of the original, 2005 Wikinews policy that should not have been there. As far as "routinely cited by other news organisations" goes, we have been cited by media sources occasionally, such as the Sydney Morning Herald and CBS News, if that counts for anything ... Tempodivalse [talk] 18:12, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────A "very much out of date" self-description in an official policy page shows a lack of accuracy and fact checking, or professionalism, consistent with an open forum run by volunteers. And those "citation by others" examples are very misleading: both have to do with internal Wikipedia politics or drama, and WN is viewed by the media as an effective spokesperson for Wikipedia (CBS calls it, "an online news source connected to Wikipedia"), so it's like WP allowing an SPS to tell us about himself. A correct example should be CBS or the Sydney Morning Herald citing Wikinews for some news item to which WN has no direct connection. Crum375 (talk) 20:39, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

Excuse me, but I'm not understanding something. One small oversight such as that and Wikinews is suddenly considered inaccurate? How many times have editors on Wikipedia forgot to change a policy page or inadvertently post something incorrect after an update? I'm assuming that must happen sooner or later due to the vast amount of policy pages are here. And I, as well as most Wikinewsies, resent being viewed as a part of or sub-project of Wikipedia; sure, we're part of the same foundation but Wikinews has worked hard to maintain independence and set itself apart from the encyclopedia. Tempodivalse [talk] 22:44, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
A glaring error in the self-description on the official policy page, written in bold letters, standing there for a long time, is an example of sloppiness and lack of error checking mechanisms, typical of volunteer organizations. And yes, WP is just as sloppy, though in my experience not so much in its core policy pages (probably because it has more eyes). And the depiction of WN as an organ of WP by the news media comes from the CBS news source you linked above, which states that WN is "an online news source connected to Wikipedia." And you have not addressed my point about the misleading example. Crum375 (talk) 23:13, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

Hmmm... I don't think our determinations against using Wikinews were based on "false" information as much as continuing to say that it is not RS may be based on outdated information. The last time we discussed this in detail, WN did not use Flagged reviesions. Now they do. In other words, I think they have changed their policies, and so it is time for us to revisit the issue and re-examine WN's policies (as they actually work, not as they say they are supposed to work) afresh. This does not mean that WP will declare WN to be reliable... only that I think there is enough of a change that we should re-examine the issue. I am going to start an RFC on this (below), and will post a notice about this at the usual places. Blueboar (talk) 22:05, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
Ok... the RFC has generated a lot of response and discussion... and I think more can be said... however, I also think we can definitively say that there is no consensus at this time in favor of calling WN a reliable source. Blueboar (talk) 20:28, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

"Say where you got it" ... what if I got it from a site that violates copyright?

User:Moonriddengirl suggested I raise this here. It concerns what guidance we want to give editors who find themselves in one of the following situations:

  • I want to cite a BBC TV programme I've seen on youtube. The person who has uploaded the programme to youtube does not look like they work for the BBC, or have sought the BBC's permission. Some of the interviewees make important statements I want to cite in an article. Per WP:ELNEVER, I should not link to the youtube video. However, per WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT I should say that I viewed the youtube version, rather than the TV broadcast. What should I do?
  • The same applies to newspaper articles. We've all come across newspaper articles hosted on private sites, academic websites or topical news scraping sites, where licence to reproduce is either doubtful or clearly absent. If I say in the reference, "LA Times article, as seen on Site X", am I guilty of contributory infringement? --JN466 00:09, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
If I steal a book, and use it as reference for an article, it's just as valid a source as a legally purchased copy. If I suspect that my copy is bogus, however, that's another matter, because it affects reliability. Our focus must be on the verifiability and reliability of the source, not the legal status of the copy we used. Crum375 (talk) 00:46, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT is meant for you to say if you got the information from something other then the source. For example, if a book quoted the passage from the broadcast, you should attribute the book as well as the broadcast. That's not an issue here--Work permit (talk) 01:04, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
JN, Cite the original source. There's {{cite episode}} to use. Sources don't need to be hyperlinks! Gigs (talk) 01:14, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
One reason for WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT is that a book that you see scanned on a website, or a video on youtube could well have been modified from the original. We should not cite the original unless we have actually seen it. That said, if you have copared the original to the version that is on line or on youtube, and you are sure that they are identical, then you can cite the original and include what is known as a "courtesy link" to the copy. Suggested format: <ref>Author, ''Book Title'', publishing info, (hosted on [website name and link])</ref> —Preceding unsigned comment added by Blueboar (talkcontribs)
Blueboar, we can't link to materials that infringe copyright per WP:ELNEVER. Traditionally we have allowed links to sites like that provide automated caching, but disallowed links to unauthorized copies of materials on youtube. Gigs (talk) 02:26, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
Gigs is right: WP:ELNEVER applies. The editor could say, "as seen on youtube" or "as seen on website", without linking. This would tell the reader that they haven't viewed the original, and ensure compliance with WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT. However, the mere act of telling readers that the article or video is on some copyvio site could arguably send traffic to the copyvio site. I can see only 3 ways we can handle this:
  1. We tell editors they mustn't cite any source if they haven't seen the original, or a clean licensed copy. Impractical, will never be heeded.
  2. We tell editors they are allowed to lie and claim to have seen the original, even if they haven't. Misleads the reader, and fails WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT.
  3. We tell editors they should say where they got it, even if it's a copyvio site, but without linking to it. Potential contributory infringement, but otherwise practicable and clearly not as bad as linking to copyvio sites. --JN466 12:19, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure that it's a big deal. If there's no reason to believe that a work is modified, then just cite it as the original source material instead of the particular distribution method. After all, there's no guarantee that when you watch something on TV that it hasn't been modified in a way unknown to you as well, but you'd usually cite that as the show itself rather than the particular broadcast. 13:29, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
I agree about WP:ELNEVER and not linking to copyrited material... my point was simply to say that we should not cite the original unless we have actually seen it. This concept lies at the heart of WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT. If you see a copy of something you want to cite on youtube (or some other website) you have to note that this is what you saw... and if you discover that you can not cite it due to WP:Copyvio or one of our other policies... it means you have to do a bit more research and locate the original. Only then you can cite the original. And, yes, if you can not locate the original, it might well mean that you are not be able to use the source at all. Blueboar (talk) 14:11, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

The question is about the use of the source as a reference for article content. WP:ELNEVER isn't the thing to quote, as it's in the guideline, Wikipedia:External links, which specifically states:

The subject of this guideline is external links that are not citations to sources supporting article content ... Guidelines for sourcing, which includes external links used as citations, are discussed at Wikipedia:Reliable sources and Wikipedia:Citing sources.

As a point of interest, the BBC states this about user uploaded content on YouTube:

Ashley Highfield, the BBC's director of future media and technology, said the BBC would not hunt down all BBC-copyrighted clips already uploaded by YouTube members, but would reserve the right to swap poor-quality clips with the real thing, or to have content removed that had been edited or altered in a way that would damage the BBC's brand. "We don't want to be overzealous," he said. "A lot of the material on YouTube is good promotional content for us."[2]

Ty 15:04, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

AH... Yes, the BBC actacually has an approved BBC page on YouTube where it uploads vetted video ... material from this page can be considered reliable. Blueboar (talk) 15:16, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
This would be probably be my bad. :) I'm afraid I get WP:ELNEVER and WP:LINKVIO confused. The latter does not distinguish between citations and external links, but merely references linking to copyright infringing sources. I have myself seen one instance where a video hosted illegally on Youtube was used in lieu of a primary viewing and somebody claimed that it had been modified, so this does seem to me to have some interesting implications. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 15:24, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
Proper citing can never be contributory copyright infringement. Verifying might be (where the copyright lobby gets its way), but that's for the individual following up on the reference to decide. It also depends on where you live. As long as you make clear that the legality of the material is in doubt, you are in the clear. I know of no law explicitly forbidding references to copyvios.
Where the reliabiliy of broadcasts is concerned, I'd like to note that movies and shows are regularly edited for broadcast for any number of reasons, and without notice to the viewer. The situation here is similar to webpages. Do not just quote the show and episode, state the specific broadcast you watched. Paradoctor (talk) 15:26, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
While I agree with you in large part, I'm afraid that "Proper citing can never be contributory copyright infringement" isn't really consistent with policy, at least insofar as our directly linking to copyright problems go. We have blacklisted, for example, certain lyric sites to prevent contributory infringement; even if our users rely on them for referencing lyrics in critical description, we don't allow them to link to those. --Moonriddengirl (talk)
Can't say that I consider that wise. Please note that the source cited in LINKVIO is not about mere linking, the defendant actively encouraged copyright violations. As a free encyclopedia, getting nervous about possible allegations of contributory infringement is not in our own best interest. Please note that compatibility with laws around the world is not our top priority. We comply in matters non-encyclopedic, but we have a vital self-interest in free speech. Paradoctor (talk) 15:57, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
I think we have an equally vital self-interest in protecting ourselves from lawsuits. :) LINKVIO has been in policy for quite some time; in its most nascent form, it enters in 2003, placed by the current Deputy Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 16:06, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
Do we protect ourselves from Sharia lawsuits? I'm quite sure this bit of policy has broad support in the community as it is now. I just say that this should change. As I think it will when Wikipedia finally goes decentral, but that's a conversation for another place. ;) Paradoctor (talk) 16:32, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
I imagine we would, if we were based in a country governed by Islamic law. Lucky for us WMF is based in the United States and subject to US law. Forget images of Muhammad; we'd be sunk completely on obscenity alone. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 16:57, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
It has long been established (both on and off Wikipedia) that there are limits to Free Speech. Not even "consensus", which rules so much of Wikipedia, can ignore federal and state law. Blueboar (talk) 16:11, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
I'll let that bit of US-centrism slide if you tell me which law explicitly forbids LINKVIOs. Also, like consensus, laws can change. Or be changed. ;) Paradoctor (talk) 16:32, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
Paradoctor, while I agree with you that it's somewhat paranoid and may exceed what the law requires, it is our practice and policy to forbid linking to infringing works, in citations or ELs. If you want to change that you need to go get WP:LINKVIO and WP:ELNEVER changed. I don't know if they are that way because of foundation legal council guidance or what. I do notice they are full protected, unusual for a policy. But really the talk pages of those policies and guidelines would be the place to have that conversation. Gigs (talk) 17:15, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
My comments were in fact intended to be US-centric... because US law is is what controle's Wikipeida's content. I am not an attourney, so I freely admit that don't know the specifics, but it is my understanding that we would also be goverened by the laws of what ever US State the Foundation is headquartered in (Florida?) ... or maybe we are governed by where the servers are... In any case, we are goverened by US and State law. My point was that I am sure that the Foundation's lawyers are all over that, and if they are doing their jobs, then they have reviewed our policies that relate to legal issues like libel and copyrite and advised the Foundation as to what they need to say. Blueboar (talk) 17:36, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

It's pretty simple. We can't cite copyright violations, as per WP:LINKVIO; this requirement is imposed by the U.S. law that governs Wikipedia. So we cite the original source, even if we happen to have seen only a copyright-violation of that source. This is standard practice, like it or not. Concerns that a copy might be an inaccurate one are valid, but similar concerns apply to material that is copied without violating copyright, so accuracy is a separate issue. Eubulides (talk) 17:44, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

Yes, these are different issues, which is why we are dealing with different policies and guidelines. But they are connected. WP:V tells us when to cite... WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT tells us what to cite.... WP:RS helps us determine if we can cite it (by guiding us in determining whether it reliable or not). WP:LINKVIO tells us whether we can include a link to it when we cite. WP:NPOV and WP:NOR tell us what we can and can not say about what we cite. All need to be complied with at the same time. Blueboar (talk) 18:03, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
The problem with a venue like YouTube is that it has issues with several policies and guidelines. In some cases it passes RS, and in others it does not.
User created videos hosted on YouTube obviously do not pass RS. They are created by unreliable people and posted anonimously... they are considered no more reliable than a comment on a web forum or joe blow's blog.
We have a different situation with videos that were created by legitimate sources but copied and posted to YouTube anonimously... here we have the issue of copyrite (did the poster have permission to post it?) and the issue of potential manipulation (is it the same as the original, or edited in some way). Both of these issues are different, but both are enough of a problem that we have to say that the video is not reliable. The solution in this case is to not use YouTube... but to see if we can locate a venue that hosts a copy the video without violating copyrite law, and one that we can trust not to have manipulated it.
Finally, we have the case of videos that were originally created by reliable sources, and posted to YouTube by those sources. These can be considered reliable, as we know who created the video, who posted it to YouTube, that they had permission to post it to YouTube, etc.
To put all this back in terms of a discussion of the seeming conflict between WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT, and WP:COPYVIO or WP:LINKVIO. You have to comply with both at the same time... When you come across a source that you want to use, you need to comply with a whole bunch of policies and guidelines. You do need to "SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT" (so that others can verify it... and do so with the same version you saw)... however, it might be that where you got it is not considered a reliable venue, or may result in some other policy/guideline violation. If so, you can not use it as a source. You need to see if you can "get it" from other venue... one that will not have the problems with our policies. Sourcing is not always as simple as doing a web search and linking to the first site you see... sometimes proper sourcing takes research and effort. And sometimes, you are not going to be able to find a usable source no matter what you do. And that may indeed mean that you can not say what you want to say in an article. Blueboar (talk) 18:59, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

Just one point here: the way "say where you got it" is being interpreted above is not quite right. What we mean by that is, if you're citing someone who cites a book, you should cite your source, not the book. It doesn't mean we have to say where we saw things on the Web, just as we don't have to say where we bought a book. We can add courtesy links if we want to, but they're not mandatory. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 23:31, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

In contentious topic areas, where things were seen on the web is often an issue. Wikipedians often cite articles they have seen reproduced on partisan websites. It is not unknown for such partisan websites to alter wordings or skip a paragraph. --JN466 02:04, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Any other editor can go see what the original source really said, and whether your citation was reasonable or not. That's the heart of verifiability isn't it? That someone can go check? So from a verifiability standpoint, it seems fine to me. Gigs (talk) 05:04, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
If an editor cites a media source in a contentious topic area with competing truth claims (Falun Gong vs. People's Republic of China comes to mind), and they have not seen the original, then it is vital they tell the reader whether they are citing an article as found on, or on a PRC government website. Scholars do that too. --JN466 15:39, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
this raises the dilemma when you try to reference from a blocked source. also when you try to references from an orphaned source, where the copyright is unknown. Pohick2 (talk) 16:21, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes, indeed. Editors should try to read the originals wherever possible. Where it's not possible, and where there's a serious risk of the material having been tampered with, a non-live link could be added to avoid copyright issues, but it really would have to be a serious risk of tampering. We can't go around assuming that people who have reproduced source material have done it dishonestly. In the five years I've been editing here I've not seen one example of that. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 03:37, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
One of our own did. I don't recall the details, but an editor forged a scan (from a Darwin book, I believe), rather than admitting he was wrong. I believe Durova (talk · contribs) can tell you more. Paradoctor (talk) 09:12, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
I don't think it's necessarily reasonable to design policy for extreme edge cases. If someone pirates an ebook and then cites the original instead, the chance of deliberate tampering in the infringing copy is extremely small. Gigs (talk) 17:01, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
Sure, I just pointed at a counterexample. The real problem is the unintentional tampering. Paradoctor (talk) 21:32, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
Kind of confused. Your example was only an issue because he was citing his tampered copy. If he had cited the original book, like I'm recommending, then any editor can go check and see that the original doesn't say that. I'm saying that editors should cite the original work, even if they happen to be looking at a pirated copy. This way verifiability to the original is maintained. "Chinese whispers" isn't an issue with digital media, so I'm not sure how that applies. Gigs (talk) 22:10, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
Sorry for the confusion. The editor in question did cite the original source, but claimed it contained a statement not in it. To prove his assertion, he manipulated a scan, which he provided to his fellow editors. Like forging a quote from a hard-to-obtain source. The point here is not to rely on editions of a work you have not actually seen. There is, even in the absence of malice, always generation loss. For an example of what may happen when well-intentioned publishers create digital media, you might want to read the last paragraph of this discussion at Wikisource.

RFC on Wikinews as a reliable source

Since the last time we discussed whether Wikinews should be considered a reliable source (reaching the consensus that it should not be considered reliable), Wikinews has changed its editing policies. For instance, it now uses Flagged Revisions. I think it is time to re-examine the issue to see if consensus has changed or not. Has Wikinews changed enough that we can now consider it a reliable source, or should we continue to deem it an unreliable source? Blueboar (talk) 22:15, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

  • Well i just went over and looked at some random stories and at the sources. The sources for the stories are (from what i have seen in my five minute gander) appear to be reliable as used here on wikipedia. I would say it could be used as a reliable source so long as whomever used it also included a link from the source which the story originated from mark nutley (talk) 22:38, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
  • As a long-term Wikinews contributor, gaining credibility as a source for Wikipedia has always been a goal - but less-so for synthesis stories. These are the 'staple' stories, made from available mainstream sources. To Wikipedia, I'd assume you'd fall back to the "mainstream" sources, but they might go away - the Wikinews one won't. What I'm more interested in is, given the wiki transparency, and flagged revisions, would Wikipedia consider Wikinews Original Reporting as coming from a credible source? I would hope so - I know the standards I hold myself and other to. --Brian McNeil /talk 22:50, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
    • Question: Is there any process in place that would prevent me from posting a fake interview or eyewitness account on Wikinews ? (This is a not a rhetorical question; I genuinely am interested in the answer since I have never edited wikinews) Abecedare (talk) 23:48, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I wouldn't want to encourage you to disrupt the wiki to try and prove a point, but you're expected to provide original reporter's notes, transcripts, photos, &c. If you have no contribution history that's going to have to be very plausible - there is a preference for people demonstrating they can accurately synthesise a report from mainstream sources before doing original reporting. Faking a report should take a lot of careful effort - just like with any other source. Wikinews has to try and help new contributors who want to do OR, you might put it that there is a lot less AGF; there's more a need to Accrue Good Faith.
Then again, can you really say as much as that for quite a lot of sources that Wikipedia happily cites? --Brian McNeil /talk 00:05, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Of course, I have no intention at all of faking a news report at wikinews!
If I am understanding correctly though, the only guard against such attempts is the reputation an editor builds over time. Right ? Abecedare (talk) 00:15, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
I'd point out many journalists in the MSM are quite open about the fact that they have extreme biases (both corporate and personal), yet Wikipedia uses them anyway.
Not only that, but in the case of CNN, they are actually dumb enough to claim that they have "fair and balanced" reporting of every issue, rather than NPoV reporting (which is what Wikinews strives toward). "Fair and balanced" reporting means that you give equal time to all sides. That works fine in opinion pieces and political stories, but it doesn't work in any way shape or form for factual reporting. In factual stories you should just report the facts; there simply isn't another side of the story to tell, there is just the facts of the situation. That's why CNN and Fox regularly give airtime to absolute cranks: "fair and balanced reporting". If they run a story about NASA and the moon, they *have* to have an opposing viewpoint ("NASA didn't go the moon!!!111!!", or "NASA went to the moon, but the aliens are now controlling them!!!" (that one is unfortunately common in the mainstream media:( ), or "The moon is made of green cheese, and NASA is covering it up!!!" (less common;) )). CNN has to give airtime to crackpots, we don't. Fair and balanced != NPoV.
Because of this, I'd say we're more reliable than they are:P. Gopher65talk 00:45, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Are there outside studies comparing Wikinews to reputable traditional news sources? Paradoctor (talk) 22:51, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment As I noted in the discussion thread above, here is what Wikinews say about themselves, in their official policy: "Wikinews ... has no formal approval process for authors ... it is an open, public news forum, with transitory quality control, at best." To the best of my knowledge, open public forums are not a reliable source, per WP:SOURCES. Crum375 (talk) 00:17, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
  • (Disclaimer: I'm a 'crat and arb at Wikinews) Um, actually, that line has been removed. That little blurb was a remnant of the original 2005 Wikinews policy on Original Reporting that we forgot to remove after installing Flagged Revisions. That statement is inaccurate now, as Flagged revisions gives us much, much better "quality control" over content and we certainly have a "formal approval process" at n:Template:Peer reviewed. Tempodivalse [talk]
      • OK, can you please provide the identities of the members of the editorial board? Is there an editor-in-chief who approves all stories? Is there a legal department which vets stories for libel and liability? Is there a formal policy for vetting the qualifications of editors? Can you provide a link to the names of the people in charge and the formal policies? Crum375 (talk) 00:46, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
        • Your point being ...? Many of the sources that Wikipedia currently cites (i.e. IMDB) would probably not give you all of that information either. Tempodivalse [talk] 22:50, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
          • Many articles on WP contain false information, some of it intentional. Many (if not most) are poorly written and poorly sourced. Many have no sources at all. But all these flaws don't mean we have to accept the lowest common denominator. Crum375 (talk) 22:57, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Crum375: 2 words: Fox News. They regularly print (and air) stories that are later retracted because they turn out to be false. And so does everyone else (though with less frequency than old "faux" news); that's just the nature of news. News is new, so the details are sketchy. That's why Wikipedia isn't suppose to have news articles. News is by its very nature unconfirmed. When it's confirmed, it stops being news, and becomes encyclopedic content. Course, you all ignore that "no news" rule and publish unverifiable information all the time (if it's less than 3 days old it shouldn't be on Wikipedia in my opinion), so I suppose that it's a moot point. Gopher65talk 00:55, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose treating wikinews as a reliable source. I have never really looked at wikinews before, and looking at some random articles, the content is surely better written, sourced, and formatted than random articles on wikipedia. However even a quick survey found demonstrable errors and sourcing problems, which combined with its anonymous contributors, lack of effective editorial oversight, having no responsible publisher etc makes it an unacceptable source on wikipedia. Abecedare (talk) 01:14, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Analsyis of two random articles
  1. Original reporting: the second hit on google search for wikinews (after the wikinews site itself) is the article n:Wikinews international report: "Anonymous" holds anti-Scientology protests worldwide. Most of the article is unverifiable (in the English wikipedia sense of the word), and has sourcing and documentation issues. For example, lets concentrate on the Minneapolis, Minnesota section.
    1. The listed correspondent for the section is n:User:Observer who is also the listed correspondent for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which given that the two cites are 5-6 hour apart by road, and the protests all seemed to have started at 11am local time, would have been a stretch. Worse, unless am I am misreading something, the user stopped editing in June 2007, i.e., some 8 months before the events being reported.
    2. The actual "correspondents" for the section are all IPs, who given this edit (toned down by subsequent edits) were anti-CoS participants in the protest, and hence hardly disinterested observers.
  2. Synthesis article: The first hit I got doing a random article search on wikinews was the article n:IBM to launch software that works on Linux, Windows and Macintosh. Now look at the the sentence,

"PSA Peugeot Citroen, being the second largest car manufacturer, signed a multi-year agreement with Novell, which is the provider of Linux software, to run Linux on its 20,000 desktop PCs. In addition Linux will be installed on 2,500 server computers."

which seems to be paraphrased from this Reuter's article but gets several facts wrong. Firstly PSA Peugeot Citroen is not the second largest car manufacturer; it is the second largest car manufacturer in Europe. Secondly, the wikinews article says that Novell is the provider of Linux software, while it is only one such provider. Thirdly the sentence in the wikinews article implies that Peugeot has 20,000 computers, and it will run Linux on all of them, while the Reuter's article only states that Peugeot would run Linus on 20,000 of it's computers (not the same thing!).

Given the number of issues found on inspecting only a small fraction of basically the my first two hits on wikinews does not inspire sufficient confidence for us to be able to rely on it. Abecedare (talk) 01:14, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

  • With regards to Abecedare (talk · contribs)'s above comment: If you look at the dates on those two articles, you'll find that they were both published before we implemented Flagged Revisions. Please look at *any* article published in October 2008 or later (that's the month when we fully started using flaggedrevs) and see if those articles are any better/accurate. Tempodivalse [talk] 01:29, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
    • Thanks for that additional information. I'll take a look... although it may be a day before I can do so. Abecedare (talk) 01:35, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
      • (edit conflict) I must agree with Tempodivalse's statement. Chose any recent article, even one on the main page; all recent news is listed there. --Mikemoral♪♫ 01:38, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

Ok I had to work a bit harder this time, and couldn't find any problems with the first 4-5 more recent articles I read (again using the random article generator). But I see several issues with the article n:Abu Ghraib prison burns after riot published on September 12, 2009. Analysis of a more recent article

  1. The cited sources talk about a fire in a cell in Abu Ghraib prison, unlike the headline and lede sentence of the wikipedia article, which sensationally talk about the prison burning and being set alight.
  2. The wikinews article says

    "The fire injured three wardens but not prisoners, who began rioting. That injured three inmates."

    I could not verify these details in the two cited sources. The BBC article only says, "three guards and three inmates had been injured."; while the Reuters report says Three guards and three inmates were reportedly injured. I don't know the origins of the additional details in the wikinews article (a third uncited report ?)
  3. (arguable) The wikinews article says that US soldiers were caught, "torturing and sexually abusing prisoners". The two sources put it as, "abusing and humiliating" and "abuse and sexual humiliation". I am curious whether the substitutions of torture for abuse and sexually abuse and for sexual humiliation was guided by a written editorial policy at wikinews. I won't press this point, because I am pretty certain we could, if we wanted, find sources that use those terms for the US soldiers' actions.

I think introduction of flagged revisions has helped, but there are still sourcing and (arguably) POV issues. Abecedare (talk) 02:41, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

  • Re to Abecedare: about the "sensationalism", I'd just like to point out that a lot of other MSM sources that Wikipedia cites (i.e. Fox News, Sky News) frequently do the same, and occasionally make it even more sensational (actually, that example was not much of an exaggeration and was factually correct, the prison *was* set alight, even if a small portion). I'm not suggesting that's a good thing (and perhaps the wikinews article could have had a more suitable title), but just saying... Tempodivalse [talk] 03:27, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
I don't believe the headline and lede sentence are even technically accurate (Consider the difference between "There was a fire in White House today" and "White House was set on fire today") ... but I don't want to get lost in the weeds of discussing a single article. To be frank, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw on wikinews; I had expected much worse. Abecedare (talk) 03:54, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I see no reason to. Why not just use the underlying source(s)? "Reliability" is not a black or white issue. When an editor asks "is xxx reliable" the question we always ask is "reliable for what". To best answer that question, we need to know what the underlying source is. --Work permit (talk) 01:21, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
For the stuff that WN synthesizes from other sources, what's the point? Why not go to those other sources? Maurreen (talk) 03:30, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Frequently those "other sources" are either hidden after a paywall after several days or disappear offline due to age. Wikinews articles will be there, publicly visible for ... well ... forever, practically speaking. Tempodivalse [talk]
Do sources that we already consider reliable consider WN to be reliable source? Maurreen (talk) 03:42, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure. Wikinews hasn't gotten much attention from mainstream media or popular online publications. Tempodivalse [talk] 03:46, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Wikinews does have a nice page with a list of sources. --Mikemoral♪♫ 03:50, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Strike that, I misread the comment. --Mikemoral♪♫ 03:53, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

  • Oppose, for now Wikinews cannot be considered as a credible reliable source unless all contributors use their real name. Wikinews:Wikinews:Credential_verification is a good start, but the way I understand it, it's not a requirement unless you want a press pass. We would never accept a newspaper with anonymous authors as a reliable source, and we shouldn't make an exception for Wikinews. If Wikinews had a special category for stories written only by credentialed authors, then I'd be willing to accept those as reliable. Gigs (talk) 04:04, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Again... you consider the content that comes out of Fox News to be "reliable" and "NPoV"? Have you even read the articles that they post? You set standards for Wikinews that are higher than those you set for the rest of the media... and for Wikipedia, I might add:P. Gopher65talk 04:16, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
  • (e/c)Gopher: I never mentioned FOX news. Much of their content is editorial in nature and isn't reliable as "fact". Mikemoral: We don't consider Wikipedia to be a reliable source either. Gigs (talk) 04:40, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
The project page says, "Articles should be based on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy." Does anyone believe WN has "a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy"? Is there any evidence of such a reputation? Maurreen (talk) 04:35, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
As part of the peer reviewing process, sources must be checked. Maybe n:WN:PR may help explain this. --Mikemoral♪♫ 04:47, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
If there is a distinction between having demonstrable standards for fact-checking and having a reputation for fact-checking, I'm not sure how one measures reputation. But, one way or the other, it might be relevant to note that Wikinews is listed on Google News. --Pi zero (talk) 05:14, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
One indication would be its use by reliable sources. For example, one newspaper prints a statement that it attributes to another newspaper. Or one newspaper prints a story entirely from another newspaper. Maurreen (talk) 05:17, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
The Sydney Morning Herald, CBS and others have based articles on Wikinews original reporting (Chris Benoit mystery editor confesses: claims "terrible coincidence" and Death of Nancy Benoit rumour posted on Wikipedia hours prior to body being found) the wub "?!" 10:55, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose Material either is available from other RSs, or is reliant on basically anonymous sources. If it is otherwise available, use the other RSs. Anonymous sources are intrinsically unreliable. Collect (talk) 13:20, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Collect and others above. Crum375 (talk) 13:26, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose - It's still an anonymously edited wiki, with no established third party evidence of stability/reliability. And the way it's set up it will never be a good source, as people can go straight to the source. DreamGuy (talk) 21:26, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose in the strongest possible terms. It's very, very difficult to take this as a serious suggestion, so I won't. No, never. --TS 21:30, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose - insufficient evidence of added benefit to make an exception from the basic policy. At the same time, wikinews can always be in the "Further reading" section or even in the linkbox. Mukadderat (talk) 21:52, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I have uncollapsed the above sections; please don't hide details from those of us who, while active Wikimedians, may not be immersed in the time-consuming to-and-froing that takes place on Wikipedia. As others state, and I believe, knocks this argument out of the water, both initial examples are prior to Wikinews implementing and bedding in a Flagged Revisions implementation. Thus, to be somewhat provocative, I have to say I fully support Wikinews being considered a reliable source for Wikipedia - one with more quality control than English Wikipedia itself - at least as-of the date Google News accepted Wikinews as suitably controlled to list as a news source instead of as a blog source. I must, frankly, dismiss the comments of those saying 'nay' as the words of people who cannot countenance there being more than "support" wikis to the "One Wiki to Rule Them All"; And, yes, I don't care if this appears failing to WP:AGF, there is a persistent and unkillable appearance of a cadre of Wikipedians who have absolutely no respect for the work people put into Wikinews. Would that they were as critical of sources such as CNN or Fox News – Such gets cited as "credible", tells you naught of their reporting process; whereas some verification on Wikinews is not instantly available to scrutinise and all content is worthless. Those with the oppose and strong oppose votes; you are saying you have no faith in a sister project, therefore I feel justified in returning the favour. --Brian McNeil /talk 22:20, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
    • At least some of the opposition is even-handed. We're not necessarily saying WN is worse than WP. Neither I as an individual nor Wikipedia itself see WP as a reliable source. Maurreen (talk) 22:25, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
  • To, perhaps, argue semantics, you might say I'm arguing Wikinews is a respectable source; which, to some, may not be the same as a "reliable" source. I have to ask, Where do you draw the line? Is it a case of "respecting" the verification steps some – perhaps new sources, like Wikinews, take – that works on one side? Or, taking something as a "reliable" source that has a long history of being accurate? You're pushing to the real core of what Wikipedia should accept, and there is a degree of schizophrenia. A sister project, which has more transparency to its editorial control than *most* sources cited by Wikipedia? And people are out-of-hand considering its use as a reliable source? I'll make no secret of championing Wikinews; would that it were easier to shame Wikipedians into seeing a sister project working to a higher standard than they themselves do. --Brian McNeil /talk 01:24, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── There is a deeper reason (than mere relative accuracy of articles) why Wikinewsies are liable to perceive the Wikipedian attitude toward Wikinews as hypocritical. I'm not saying it necessarily is hypocritical — but there is a deep reason why it may be perceived so.

The two projects aren't trying to do the same thing. Wikipedia is all about gradually increasing article quality — of huge numbers of articles, in parallel — over the long term. Wikinews is about taking articles one at a time, getting each one right the first time, in a tearing hurry, and then freezing it for posterity. Profoundly different goals with profoundly different means. Having had the privilege of participating in both projects, I've witnessed that both projects succeed extraordinarily well in their respective goals. But the projects have something else in common: their respective citizenry-based paths to success defy conventional classification. (Cf. the zeroeth law of Wikipedia.) So Wikinews is apt to deviate from various properties that "all" reliable sources supposedly have, making it easier for Wikipedians to doubt its reliability. Wikinewsies can't help being aware that they're succeeding, just as Wikipedians know they're succeeding; so when Wikipedians apparently deny Wikinewsies' success despite its kinship with Wikipedians' success, Wikinewsies are apt to perceive that as hypocrisy. (And of course when Wikinewsies apparently deny Wikipedians' success, the Wikipedians aren't going to take it too kindly, either.) --Pi zero (talk) 02:06, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

Story Continues after the jump

I don't know that anyone claims that Wikipedia is of higher standard than WikiNews, to the contrary it sounds like most agree that WN is of a higher standard and with more controls. That doesn't mean that it is good enough or at least it does not mean it has been sufficiently proven. Once other outlets cite you more then we can revisit the issue. Whats the big deal anyway? It's just wikipedia. Unomi (talk) 01:32, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

It is not to be expected that citation by other news outlets will be a meaningful indicator of Wikinews's actual performance. Here's why; as usual, there are two separate cases to consider: Wikinews synthesis articles, and Wikinews original reporting articles.
Synthesis articles perform a function that provides very little motive for other outlets to cite them. In the long run, synthesis articles are neutral renditions of a story that will never be hidden behind a paywall; but in the short run, the story has already appeared elsewhere or a synthesis article couldn't be written, and other outlets aren't likely to cite Wikinews just for the sake of its NPOV (even those outlets that care about neutrality). (I've given some reasons why it would be advantageous in the long run for Wikipedia to cite synthesis articles in my comments below.)
Original reporting articles do sometimes get cited by other outlets, but the frequency of that happening is only going to go up if the actual quantity of original reporting on Wikinews goes up, which is only going to happen if the project grows. Which brings me to a somewhat delicate point, which is why Wikinewsies care whether Wikipedia considers Wikinews a reliable source. We're discussing how to best promote the integrity of Wikipedia here, which I maintain is 100% in the best interests of Wikinews (and vice versa), but it is helpful to understand how the projects affect each other. Increasing citations of original reporting depends on growth of Wikinews — and a significant obstacle to growth of Wikinews is that the official position of Wikipedia on reliability of Wikinews has, as its most natural oversimplification, "Wikinews is worthless". It's not realistic to pretend that Wikipedia isn't important, in this regard; Wikipedia is a major component of the global infosphere, and closer to home, it's perceived as the definitive authority on crowd-sourced information projects (and perception matters in discouraging new contributors). --Pi zero (talk) 15:19, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
We do we (Wikinewsies) care? Well lets be honest, we wouldn't mind a little respect. Though some more useful reasons: A) If Wikipedia thinks we're usable to cite, others will follow. I'm sure ya'll know that you tend to lead the way in a lot of things. Not to say people don't cite us now, or don't carry our news now, but every little bit helps. B) More links to Wikinews means more readers for us. More readers means more potential converts to editors. More editors means more news. ... Well, that's a start for now. --ShakataGaNai ^_^ 17:40, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
You have this exactly backwards... Wikipedia can not use Wikinews until it has gained a good reputation for journalism ... a reputation that is demonstrated by being cited by reliable sources. Wikinews must gain that reputation and those citations on its own... while we can wish it well, we can not help it along. When it comes to determing whether sources are reliable, we follow... we never lead. Blueboar (talk) 18:04, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
I think you missed the part where I addressed why Wikinews care. I didn't touch the "Is Wikinews respectable or not". --ShakataGaNai ^_^ 20:20, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
If I understand you correctly, Blueboar, you are suggesting that Wikinews has not, in fact, already demonstrated that it has a suitable reputation by being cited by reliable sources. I'm trying to understand exactly how, and to what extent, this measure applies. This is the first time I've had occasion to deal with the technical intricacies of this particular guideline, but it appears to me that the relevant section is Usage by other sources. This section raises several questions for me.
  • My point above is that there is a big difference between absolute frequency — naively counting citations — and relative frequency. It has been established in the discussion above that reliable sources are willing to cite Wikinews; but if a Wikinews article would not be cited by a reliable source no matter how highly that source esteemed Wikinews, then the fact that the source didn't cite that article means exactly nothing about whether or not that source considers Wikinews to have a good reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. Only when a Wikinews article would be of interest to the potentially-citing source, is there any evidence in either direction to be had in whether or not the source actually does cite the article. Is there a body of case law (so to speak) on how relative versus absolute frequency bears on the application of the usage test?
  • The section also makes it pretty clear that the usage test is not the only type of evidence possible for reputation, but I admit that I'm having difficulty discerning from the guideline what other forms of evidence are possible. It's not even entirely clear to me whether the test done earlier, where actual Wikinews articles were vetted for accuracy, bears on reputation.
  • Is there a relevant distinction drawn between strength of evidence for reputation, and the quality of reputation for which evidence (strong or weak) is given. (And if so, how does it bear on the use of reputation in judging reliability?)
--Pi zero (talk) 21:57, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
"It has been established in the discussion above that reliable sources are willing to cite Wikinews": Did I miss something? The only example I saw above is where WN was used to report on internal Wikipedia politics/drama, where CBS explains that WN is "an online news source connected to Wikipedia." This is just like WP allowing a questionable source to tell us about itself. Are there other examples? Crum375 (talk) 22:09, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
First, just to avoid misunderstandings: It's my impression of this thread that there is, in fact, reasonable consensus that Wikinews in order to be considered a reliable source will need more evidence-of-reputation than has been presented (and, in fact, more than has been claimed). My questions above are intended to illuminate the nature of what is needed going forward, which I hope will help to minimize future misunderstandings and acrimony.
About the CBS story: I see you suggested in the other thread that it made Wikinews sound like "an organ of WP". Rereading that story, I have to say that honestly I didn't see that interpretation. It came across to me as the writer choosing to mention explicitly that two entities mentioned are not unrelated to each other — they could in principle have said that both organizations are under the aegis of WMF, but that would have been a lot more verbose and cumbersome (not least because it would be introducing a third entity, WMF, that many readers would not be familiar with). The Sydney Morning Herald, so far as I noticed, didn't bother to comment on the relationship.
I agree that it would be interesting to see additional examples of other news outlets citing Wikinews; the wub's post above seems to imply that other examples exist, though I don't see anyone claiming that they're more than occasional (BTW I'm not clear on the definition of "routine", which is another point on which I'd be grateful for clarification). I don't happen to have such information at my fingertips, which is why I worded that part of my earlier post so carefully. --Pi zero (talk) 01:35, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
I consider it misleading to say, as you did above, that "it has been established in the discussion above that reliable sources are willing to cite Wikinews," where the only available examples are the media citing WN on internal Wikipedia politics/drama, with CBS referring to WN as "an online news source connected to Wikipedia." As I noted above, this example is like WP using a questionable source to report on itself, and does not in any way confer any additional reliability on such a source. To make that blanket statement, knowing that many people may not bother to learn the exact details, is spreading misinformation, which is not a healthy way to promote the reliability and trustworthiness of a new news source. Crum375 (talk) 02:39, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

Four specific issues

Here are four specific issues that I see as forming the backbone of discussion in this thread. Sorry to make such a lenghthy post, but it's really four comments in one and each of the four is major in itself; and I'm putting them together because I'm trying to get at the big picture here.

  • (0) Wikipedians (understandably) reason thus: Wikipedia is fundamentally not a reliable source; and Wikinews is just like Wikipedia only covering current events, therefore Wikinews is also not a reliable source. The flaw in this reasoning is that Wikinews is not just like Wikipedia, it's radically different, even though there are some commonalities like being citizenry-driven and having lofty ideals about benefiting all humankind by making information (of differing types) freely available. Going from this project to that one is like stepping into an alien world. Just as a taste of how very alien it is: Long expansive discussions are the life's-blood of Wikipedia; but if Wikinewsies spend a lot of time on expansive debates, stories are lost. Right now, stories are on their way to dying of staleness in the Wikinews:Newsroom because (one suspects) Wikinewsies have been taking the time to participate in this discussion over here — I'm not complaining, I'm just pointing out that the dynamics of the work that's done over there is so alien to Wikipedian operation that even the kind of debate we engage in over here is a language that Wikinewsies can only speak at measurable cost to their project. Fifty years from now, there are news stories from today that the general public (who can't afford to go through paywalls) won't be able to read about in the Wikinews archives because of this discussion. Can I seriously mean that just making a few comments here can do that? Yes, because, having the edit bit at Wikinews and having actually reviewed articles on occasion, I know it's a massively time-consuming operation. If a Wikipedian takes time out to comment in a discussion like this, maybe they take a little longer to get to an edit to an article somewhere, but it will still be waiting for them later; if a Wikinewsie takes time out to comment in a discussion like this, some news story may be lost for all time. This also makes it harder for Wikinewsies to fully represent their position in a discussion like this at Wikipedia, of course.
  • (1) Regarding synthesis articles (the ones that aren't original reporting): It's been suggested that there's no reason to admit Wikinews as a reliable source for these, because there have to be other sources that are cited by the Wikinews article, and why not just cite those directly. But the fact that the material was vetted through the Wikinews peer review process means that the Wikinews information actually has a layer of liklihood-of-accuracy added to it beyond its sources (a synthesis article has to have at least two independent sources; that's one of the many things that peer-review checks for). All accuracy is statistical in nature, of course, which brings up another point. We often pretend — but it's only a sometimes-useful pretense — that once we've labeled a source "reliable" that means we will never doubt it, but in fact a reliable source is a step along the way to verification. Specific apparently reliable sources, or even specific details within them, are determined from further study to be unreliable. Wikinews stories are especially good for that because the information necessary to do more in-depth investigation of its accuracy is enthusiastically made available — the fact-checking someone did earlier in this thread on some Wikinews articles was facilitated by this very property of Wikinews articles. Articles from another news source would be harder to vet (especially long after the fact). Which brings up one more point: for the first level of source-checking, the Wikinews article will always be accessible without going through a paywall, whereas the sources from which it is derived are apt to cost when accessed long after the fact. Which means that a Wikipedia article that uses a Wikinews article as a source will, on average, be better fact-checked than a Wikipedia article that bypasses the Wikinews article to cite its sources.
  • (2) Regarding original reporting. Some commenters here have simply overlooked the fact that these Wikinews articles exist, and it isn't possible to bypass them to go to the sources (as it would with a synthesis article) because there are no other sources. There's some great material — as in, valuable information not available anywhere else — that's been published, and the standards for documenting original pieces are quite high. I'm not aware of anyone interviewed by a Wikinews reporter ever complaining that they didn't say something that was reported. (Wikinews does know how to do retractions; it's just very rare because of the quality control procedures in place).
  • (3) Anonymity of some editors has been objected to. Now — I'll get to WP reliability itself in a moment — there's an obvious practical problem with not allowing anonymity, because volunteer Wikinewsies are risking their necks (hopefully that's just a metaphor) by involving themselves in NPOV reporting on big, Darwinianly successful organizations that don't like being reported on neutrally and wouldn't hesitate to use lawsuits, with no need for the lawsuits to have any actual substance, to intimate or just plain financially destroy people who don't have the protection of a big commercial news organization with its own pack of lawyers. That actually does bear on reliability, come to think of it, because Wikipedia benefits from the existence of neutral reporting. More to the point, though, we ought to be asking exactly why anonymity is supposed to be unacceptable in this situation. The purpose of revealing real names is, as I understand it, accountability. But there is no lack of accountability involved in anonymity in this context. Trust is established cumulatively through reputation and can be lost, and that is exactly the same as would be true if real names were used. (Actually, real names are required for accredited reporters, but I digress, because the issue here is the existence of any anonymous reviewers at all.) To the extent that professional news organizations do provide real names, I don't see that that has prevented such people from doing things that lose (or should lose) them their trusted status.

--Pi zero (talk) 13:40, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

A standard (at least an ideal) within WP has been that it doesn't make independent decisions. It relies on others who are established. Other than with its existence, WP does not serve to advance any ideas. WN should meet the same standard as other sources under consideration. If WP decides otherwise, that would be biased decision that would not advance WP's level of perceived quality or not. Maurreen (talk) 15:46, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Regarding anonymity, it's fundamentally incompatible with your trust and reputation system. Here on Wikipedia the reputation of an editor is not supposed to matter; our policies are designed in a way that all editors have to abide by the same standards for contributions, whether trusted or not. So it doesn't matter as much if people sock or make a "fresh start" after being widely discredited. You rightfully point out that reputation is much more important in news reporting. Reporting under a real identity is the only reasonable way to ensure reliability based on reputation.
For the case of a controversial story that may draw a lawsuit, your argument doesn't hold water. A subpoena can force Wikinews to release IP addresses and a subpoena can force the ISP to tie that IP to a real person. So once a lawsuit is filed, any anonymity is basically gone. You could always devise a system whereby identity was obscured for particularly sensitive articles, once every contributor had a real identity on file.
I should point out the idea of anonymity in wikimedia is basically a new one. When I signed up for Wikipedia in 2005, the username policy encouraged me to sign up under my real name. It's not unreasonable or unprecedented to require everyone at Wikinews to use real names. If you want people to take you seriously as a news outlet, you need to do this. Gigs (talk) 14:57, 12 March 2010 (UTC)