Wikipedia talk:Identifying reliable sources/Archive 34

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more iformations about Sri Gayathri

In very short form: Gayathri manthra was createed by 24 Rishis are called varnam. All 24 letters are having Reshies and adidevathas. And also 24 Sookshma Devathas are there. If u welcome this note Plmail me to — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:44, 3 August 2011 (UTC)

How does this relate to the topic of identifying reliable sources? Is there a dispute over this? Blueboar (talk) 13:49, 3 August 2011 (UTC)

Wonderland, Gahanna, Ohio

Problems with substandard references triggering deletion of unequivocally true material

In many cases nobody has managed to find a perfect reference to a fact, a fact that may be obviously true, and yet we can only find sources that are from university courses or primary sources for example. In many situations a good reference will be in a text book somewhere, but it turns out that no editor happens to have access to it.

In that case the following very often happens:

  • somebody works out that the article is missing material, something that is obviously true.
  • they add it
  • somebody tags it for being unreferenced
  • the best reference that can be found is of low quality, so they add it
  • somebody else deletes the reference because it's a low quality source and retags it as unreferenced
  • somebody else deletes the whole thing simply because it's unreferenced

Note, that at no time is anyone thinking that the material was in any way wrong, it's just being deleted for bureaucratic reasons. You can quote 'not a bureaucracy' at them, but they will often stick to their guns and take it out. None of the people involved are likely to get sanctioned for their actions. And yet we have material that is almost certainly true being deleted more or less out of hand.

This is all just unnecessary pain; it's the kind of thing that makes people leave the Wikipedia in disgust, and I don't blame them. But here I would argue that in this kind of situation, you would be better off simply tagging the reference as being low quality and leaving it in.. That way the reader is alerted to it being true, but not very well sourced. (Obviously this wouldn't apply in BLP situations or where you have any good reason to think it's not true.)

So I'm saying we could have tags like: {{primarysource}} {{university}} {{tertiary}} and then you would tag the reference, not the main text.

So it would be like:

All cats have pointy ears due to chromosome 15.<ref>[http:/ Developmental Biology 23]{{university}}</ref>

which would appear as: All cats have pointy ears due to chromosome 15.[23]

and the reference would appear as: Developmental Biology 23 Less Reliable University Source

The convention would be you wouldn't remove the reference unless you have any reason to think it's wrong, but you would leave the tag in place until a better reference is found.

I think that that's a lot better than what we're doing at the moment, it balances the quality of references against actually capturing information that the reader needs. I think at the moment we're being just a bit too black and white, it's either 100% reliable or it's unreliable, but reality isn't like that.

What do other people think? Teapeat (talk) 15:39, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

I don't think the problem you describe actually exists. Nor do we treat sources as "either 100% reliable or it's unreliable" as you assert -- in fact our treatment of sources is the exact opposite of that. Can you point to an actual, real example where "unequivocally true material" has been deleted because of sub-standard references? Dlabtot (talk) 20:39, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Are you aware of {{Primary source-inline}} and {{Third-party source-inline}}? It sounds like they would solve your problem. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:03, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
I think if I tagged something with that, the references and material would still usually get removed, since the references would be not considered reliable. In fact tagging them like that could well get them removed faster and harder.Teapeat (talk) 01:44, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Unless you're saying that you never see people removing references to (for example) .edu sources like lecture notes, and unless you're saying that you never see people removing unreferenced material, then you have to agree that this must be happening. There's a certain group of people that systematically do one or other; and they're not necessarily the same people (or in any way bad people). But over time this has the effect of doing what I say above. NOBODY, ever checks back through the history looking for references that have been removed, and few people have qualms about removing .edu sources (like online MIT lecture notes for example) and tagging them with [citation needed], and a fair number of people will take out unreferenced material tagged with [citation needed].Teapeat (talk) 01:44, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
"What I'm saying" is what I already said: Can you point to an actual, real example where "unequivocally true material" has been deleted because of sub-standard references? It seems the answer is 'no'. Dlabtot (talk) 18:27, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm saying we need an explicit policy that lower quality references should usually be labelled not removed, the current policy is that they absolutely can be removed at any time, and it's not uncommon to treat this as a must, and I've never seen this be frowned upon by the community, nor is, later, removing unreferenced material.Teapeat (talk) 01:44, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

I agree this is a problem. I'm having this problem with an editor on the stereoscopy article regarding the "Stereo Base" section. This involves a simple geometric (trigonometry) ratio formula which the editor calls "unsourced". What is the policy on simple a priori mathematical or arithmetic truths? That is to say maths that in themselves can be seen as true by anyone who understands the rules of math. In effect 2+2=4 doesn't need to be sourced as it's "common knowledge". Trigonometry isn't used by many people so its rules are not "common knowledge" in the sense of knowledge held by many people. But its rules are "common knowledge" by people who understand trigonometry (talk) 05:08, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

As written the "common knowledge" acceptability standard for unsourced referances of wikipedia seems to make "common ignorance" rather then common knowledge the acceptable standard. (talk) 05:16, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Even "common knowledge" must be verifiable... i.e. we must be able to cite a source for it, even if we don't include it. Simple math formulas and algorithms are verifiable by looking at standard math textbooks. Simple formulas and algorithms (area, volume, basic addition, etc) are so easily verifiable that we usually don't feel there is need to actually cite the source (as they are unlikely to be challenged). The more complex the formula, however, the more we do need to cite sources for it. There is a greater likelihood that they will be challenged.
Trigonometric ratios are on the boarder line. They are certainly common knowledge for mathematicians, but not for (say) historians or biologists. Thus, they probably don't need to be cited in an article on mathematics... but they would need to be cited in an article focused on history or biology. In other words... the context of what topic area we are dealing with matters in deciding whether something is really common knowledge or not.
Specific context is important as well... we need to ask whether the use of the formula or algorithm in question is "commonplace" (as opposed to being common knowledge) in a specific context. If not, then there is the possibility that using it amounts to Original research. For example... suppose I discover that you can use a particular trigonometric formula to calculate the number of likely voters in a given district. The formula itself may be commonplace ... but my use of it to calculate voter numbers is not. I would need to show that someone other than me thinks using the formula is a valid method of calculating voter numbers... otherwise it is my own OR. Blueboar (talk) 15:38, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
I've had it in mind to write something for a while that explains the difference between the "best possible source" (which we like) and a "good enough source" (which we require, assuming the material actually requires a source). A source need only be strong enough to support the claim. A lightweight claim (e.g., the number of fingers on the typical human hand) need only have a lightweight source. A heavy claim (e.g., that someone is accused of murdering someone else) needs a strong source.
Teapeat, on the very rare occasions that I've seen such refs removed (rather than being replaced with a much better source, which is also an unusual occurrence), it's been because the URL to the university notes had gone dead, and the person didn't know about the instructions at WP:DEADREF. Can you give me an example of a live link to a "good enough" source being removed? WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:51, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Trade press

A mention of the trade press should be mentioned in the guideline. In some cases, as far as I am concerned, they are not far removed from blogs as to their reliability. -- Alan Liefting (talk) - 01:52, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

I suspect that the reliability of the trade press varies according to both field and publisher. I'm not sure that we need to call them out as requiring any more care than any other type of publication. As a general rule, most trade publications will meet the minimum standards for being reliable, e.g., having editorial control (which blogs don't) and a reputation for fact-checking. Their reputation for promotional behavior is less than stellar, but that is something that good editorial judgment can handle. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:11, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Band from Kerala- Motherjane!!!!!!!!!

Noticeably missing is Motherjane from Kearla...Progressive Art Rock genre...One of the best bands of Indian Rock if not The best in the country — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:42, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

I am sure the band appreciates your loyalty. The question is: are there reliable independent sources that discuss the band? If such sources exist, please fix the problem yourself by writing an article about the band. If such sources don't exist, then we can not have an article on the band, no matter how wonderful the band may be. At least not yet... if the band is as good as you say they are, I am sure it will only be a matter of time before such sources are written. And then you can write the article. Blueboar (talk) 15:09, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Music magazines

Can music magazines like Kerrang!, Blabbermouth, Metal Hammer etc. be a reliable source about contemporary music (biographical content, cd-reviews)? --Pass3456 (talk) 16:17, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

This kind of question can and should be asked at WP:Reliable sources/Noticeboard, because whether a source is 'reliable' depends on how you use it. Magazines like Kerrang! and Metal Hammer are likely to be reliable for most of the uses that a sensible editor would put them to. Blabbermouth is also likely to be reliable, but it is not necessarily independent of the record label that is hosting it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:43, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

School Websites

A number of schools now have pages on certain topics, such as this or this. Would we count these kinds of sources as reliable or not? ItsZippy (talk) 19:05, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

This kind of question is usually asked at WP:Reliable sources/Noticeboard, where you can expect a more detailed answer, but in general, these are reliable (assuming you use them in some sensible way) but self-published sources. They are certainly not the best possible sources for questions of philosophy and theology. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:40, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Ok, thanks for the reply. I was just looking for a general answer - if I have a more specific question, I'll take your advice and go to WP:Reliable sources/Noticeboard. Thanks. ItsZippy (talk) 20:00, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Neurotically Yours and a possible external links section....

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I had added an external links section to the page, which I had the intent of adding other links to, though it was removed by one user, which prompted the following discussion:

{{quote|I don't want to be one of those super annoying people, but I noticed you removed my external links section, which is completely fine with me. Would you be bothered if I readded it, possibly with the youtube channel, Facebook page link, and Twitter link, as well as the home page link? -Poodle of Doom (talk) 17:17, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

That section was redundant, because that link is already provided in the article's Introduction. A Facebook or Twitter link would likely be considered spam and would certainly not be reliable sources. Such a link would definitely be removed. SMP0328. (talk) 18:23, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
The only reason why I'm interested in creating the section is because many other similar topics have one. This would seem standard for most articles of a similar class. Having just browsed similar topics, I've noted that in all of them the site is used as it is currently on the Neurotically Yours page, and still listed as an external link. The main difference between this section on other pages, and here, is that they also include places like, newgrounds, and the like. Now, I could provide shop links, newground links, and various similar official sites (or semi official depending on how you look at it). Not to mention, pages that are directly controlled by JIM. I think these pages are definitely worth mentioning. But I digress,... If you think they aren't worth mentioning, I'll leave them out. I simply think there's enough credible, and fairly official pages to link to. -Poodle of Doom (talk) 18:38, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
Having cut my thoughts short, I'd also like to point out that the youtube channel has been used as a reference, and that reference had been made to the Facebook page (though it wasn't cited). -Poodle of Doom (talk) 18:39, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
The link is also provided in the Infobox. An "External link" section is not required, so there's no need to add one just for the sake of having one. SMP0328. (talk) 19:15, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
Actually, the youtube channel, facebook, twitter, and official newgrounds pages (all of which host official Neurotically Yours content) are not linked to in the infobox at all. The only thing referenced there was the illwillpress site. Again, I refer to the fact that there are several sites hosting official Neurotically Yours content that could be linked to, and used as an official source of establishing information in the article at a future date if need be. These sites seem relative to the articles development. -Poodle of Doom (talk) 20:23, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
Read this. This is why I believe using Facebook or Twitter as a source would likely be disallowed. SMP0328. (talk) 20:39, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
And I quote:
There is an important exception to sourcing statements of fact or opinion: Never use self-published books, zines, websites, webforums, blogs and tweets as a source for material about a living person, unless written or published by the subject of the biographical material. "Self-published blogs" in this context refers to personal and group blogs; see WP:BLP#Reliable sources and WP:BLP#Using the subject as a self-published source.
Since the information contained there in is published by the individual who's content the article is about, and through use of the information you have cited, I'd believe that this kind of information could be used in this article (though I personally wouldn't). That said, I'm not looking to use these as source material, but to create an external link section. It seems even more appropriate now. -Poodle of Doom (talk) 22:30, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

This conversation spawned the idea of doing a little research on the subject, of which I have found some valuable information here, and here.

The first thing I would like to point out is that the overview of identifying reliable source states the following:

Articles should be based on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. This means that we only publish the opinions of reliable authors, and not the opinions of Wikipedians who have read and interpreted primary source material for themselves. The following specific examples cover only some of the possible types of reliable sources and source reliability issues, and are not intended to be exhaustive. Proper sourcing always depends on context; common sense and editorial judgment are an indispensable part of the process.

The section that I would particularly like to draw from is the part stating that we should only publish the opinions of reliable authors. As I understand this, we should not only use this for "opinions", but for facts, figures, and relevant information in regards to edits made. As I see it, as far as reliability is concerned, it is no more reliable that content published, via whatever means, by the original author whose work is being written about.

With that in mind, the next piece of information I'd like to address is as follows:

Self-published material may be acceptable when produced by an established expert on the topic of the article whose work in the relevant field has previously been published by reliable third-party publications.

The above quote can be found here. The reason I bring this up is due to the fact that many of these sites I am about to propose be added to the External Links Section I am looking to create are contained self published material (i.e., information coming directly from Mathers himself).

Continuing on, in the next section of the same article, I'd like to quote another portion of text:

Self-published or questionable sources may be used as sources of information about themselves, especially in articles about themselves, without the requirement that they be published experts in the field, so long as:

1.the material is not unduly self-serving; does not involve claims about third parties (such as people, organizations, or other entities); does not involve claims about events not directly related to the subject;
4.there is no reasonable doubt as to its authenticity;
5.the article is not based primarily on such sources.

This also applies to pages on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Now, the content I am looking to suggest will not provide any material that is not unduly self serving, will not make claims about third parties, only offers information directly related to the subject matter, and is not based on sources that would cause this to be anything other than an accurate statement in the future. Further more, considering the content of such sites comes directly from the author, whose content the article is about, we have no reason to doubt it's authenticity.

In regards to what constitutes a reliable source, I quote the following:

The word "source" in Wikipedia has three meanings: the work itself (a document, article, paper, or book), the creator of the work (for example, the writer), and the publisher of the work (for example, The New York Times). All three can affect reliability.

Again, the content I will be suggesting for this proposed section contains all of the above information. It shall include the work itself, content coming directly from the creator of the work, and published by the original author.

At this point, I would like to suggest that an external links section be added; containing links to the homepage of Neurotically Yours, the Facebook page, Twitter page, and Youtube Channel. At this point some of you may be asking why it is I have quoted all of the above information regarding sources, and what any of it has to do with the four links I am looking to add. This is all relative due to the need to maintain, and update, the article as time moves forward. As I see it, the content contained within each of these suggested "External Links" can be considered a reliable published source from a reliable author (Mathers himself). Furthermore, though controlled by the original author of the work, the works themselves, and various content, and information, is being published on a third party source. It maintains its reliability due to the relationship the author maintains with the sites, and controlling the content being portrayed. At that, as I have previously stated, the content I am looking to add will not provide any material that is not unduly self serving, will not make claims about third parties, only offers information directly related to the subject matter, and is not based on sources that would cause this to be anything other than an accurate statement in the future. Further more, considering the content of such sites comes directly from the author, whose content the article is about, we have no reason to doubt its authenticity.

My point on the most basic of levels is this: These sites, being the official Facebook page, the official Twitter page, the official Youtube channel, as well as the homepage site (this link will be included to help bulk up the section) all contain information directly published by the author, and may contain relevant information worth including in the future. They are reliable sources, which can be used to verify information. Current standards seem to allow for third party sites (such as Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube) so long as the information therein contains verifiable, reliable information, which they do, as the information comes directly from the author. At that, the Facebook page has been made reference to in particular sections (though not used as a source). Many of the older cartoons are hosted on Youtube, and many of the citations link there. The Twitter feed could possibly contain information worth using in the future to expand upon the article. To beef up the section, I'd personally add a link for the homepage to make it look bigger. That said, if these sites are not listed in an "external links" section, and personal knowledge of the official site for future editors aside, whose to say to these people that the various youtube references are capable of being used? Or that the references to the Facebook posts were an accurate reflection of what really transpired? My point is simple. If we create an "external links" section, then this shows relevant source material to future editors, and maintains the validity of the article in its current state. Furthermore, it gives reletive source material for future use.

I'd like to extend this as a discussion to the wikipedia public. I know that it's only four links, and I know that it's not particularly that big of a deal. However, I do see it as being extremely relevant, and worth having. It seems like a bit of a standard to most articles. What do you all think? -Poodle of Doom (talk) 05:36, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

Poodle of Doom was incorrectly told to post this question about ==External links== on this page and at WT:V; s/he has been redirected to the WP:External links/Noticeboard. WhatamIdoing (talk) 14:56, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

TV program references

I am getting concerned about the number of pages referencing television programs in connection with historical and technical subjects. The TV show may use sound bytes from experts but that can result in quoting out of context and cause misunderstandings. Wikipedia authors should be encouraged to identify experts and find their peer-reviewed or otherwise published works on the subject instead of referencing the TV show that used their material. Even when the article begins with news reporting on a current event, the author should eventually rewrite it as a historical article from reliable publications other than the original programming. One exception would be educational TV such as programs created for high schools and colleges, which have an associated textbook or transcript, but the hardcopy version of the material will have citations to sources that the lecturer used to create the lessons. Possibly TV citations warrant a message box, like IMDB references, if not now, at some point in time. Or that could be prevented by discussing this issue in the editing guidelines. Comments wanted. Patrij (talk) 14:17, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Do you have any proposals about whether any changes should be made to this policy page?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 14:55, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Television media is no worse than any other space-constrained, time-sensitive media, like a daily newspaper. The list of subject-matter experts who claim to have been misquoted or misrepresented in their local newspaper is legion.
Fundamentally, though, this is a proposal to make excellent sources become the enemies of the "basically good enough" sources. If you want to use the best possible sources, or to upgrade weaker sources, then please boldly do so, but the primary purpose of this guideline is to identify the minimum standard for sources. We have enough trouble convincing some new people that their best friend's blog isn't acceptable for anything without trying to teach people the difference between a good source and a practically perfect source. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:11, 9 September 2011 (UTC)


is it true you can only bring back 1k of tobacco from eu after 1st oct — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:29, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Definition of source

Perhaps a single source could be defined more clearly in the guideline, as it appears that there is still a misunderstanding (see Talk:Melly Goeslaw for an example). If a single source is the published work itself, it should be explicitly stated (i.e. "A source is a book, article, scholarly paper, dissertation, webpage, etc.") If all works by one author or publisher are considered a single source, that should also be stated clearly. Crisco 1492 (talk) 08:25, 11 September 2011 (UTC)

I am not sure what you are proposing. I am aware it can be confusing sometimes that one author is one source, one publisher is one source, etc, depending on the discussion. It should be kept in mind that for one author who is a reliable source generally, not every work of that author is necessarily a reliable source. (For example their blog might not be considered good enough, but their peer reviewed journal articles might be. The blog, being a different type of publication, can and should be subject to more critical discussion, because differently fact checked.)--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 08:39, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Sorry for being confusing. The guideline, as currently written, doesn't indicate what a single source is in an explicit manner. As such, there is a possibility that an editor could interpret the guideline as meaning that all articles from a single newspaper (no matter when they were published) are a single source, or that all books written by a single author are a single source, using the logic that the ones producing the works referenced are actually the sources. I would propose an explicit definition of what a single source actually is (even as a footnote), especially since many notability discussions hinge on the number of RS's found. Crisco 1492 (talk) 08:47, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
Why wouldn't the answer just be that it depends what question has been raised? (Is it about one article, one author, one publisher, one page of one book etc.) Sorry if this answer sounds a bit think, but maybe it helps get the definition of the problem.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 09:17, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Talk:Melly Goeslaw is the one that led me to making this request for an explicit definition of "one source", as I define "one source" as a single piece of written material (newspaper article, academic paper, webpage etc.) but the other editor in the discussion defined it as a single publisher/company, and as such was worried that the article did not pass WP:N. However, I have seen this issue a few times before. The discussion on the talk page appears to be finished, but I would prefer if we could make the guidelines a bit clearer. Crisco 1492 (talk) 09:29, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
  • It turns out that "a source" can be a person or a published work, and this is pretty well spelled out. Yes, the author is the origin of the work, and the work is the published source, but the contents may reference other sources. That's why we specify the author, the work, the editor (in a multi-work work), the volume, the edition, the publisher, the page number(s), the date, and sometimes include a quote, in order to be as specific as possible about the article claim we're supporting with the ref. The editor considering the publisher/company as the source is focussing on "single sourcing" - that is, getting all of one's facts from a single source. This is why we emphasize, in WP:RS and WP:V the use of independent sources, unrelated by finance, industry, or family, or any other entanglement that would render their work dependent on the other. I would have a bit of concern if every ref in an article came from a single publisher/company, say McMillan, once all the refs are fully expanded so that all can see the commonality. I would be less concerned if the refs were from different divisions of McMillan, however, as they have separate editorial staffs. Problem solved by addition of independent reliable sources. Does this help? --Lexein (talk) 07:33, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia not a reliable source?

Wikipedia seems to perfectly satisfy the criteria laid out in the relevant paragraph of USERG: It is an "open wiki" website "whose content is largely user-generated". Should we, therefore, treat Wikipedia itself as unreliable?-The Gnome (talk) 07:45, 11 September 2011 (UTC)

Yes indeed: as editors we treat it as an unreliable source for the purposes of this policy concerning how to write on Wikipedia. Of course the aim of all this is that Wikipedia, by using reliable sources, will be reliable for people to use. But as Wikipedia editors, we are aiming to achieve this, and not to assume that it is already so. That would be silly. So of course we should not be sourcing our information for Wikipedia, from Wikipedia. See WP:Circular.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 08:03, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the response. I stumbled upon Wikipedia's own disclaimer here, which rather settles it. Thanks, again.-The Gnome (talk) 08:06, 11 September 2011 (UTC)

Should this info be in the main topic/article/project page ? I searched for it - others might not dig down here to the discussion tab. -- (talk) 05:26, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Goose Bay Photo

Your article on Goose Bay, Labrador contains an incorrect photo ID of USAF aircraft there in the 1953-1954 time frame. The caption names the aircraft as F-89's however the picture should be correctly ID'd as F-94. I was stationed there during that period and had been associated with those aircraft several yenigger131.118.52.39 (talk) 02:54, 23 September 2011 (UTC)ars. A Google search for either plane will definitely support this. (talk) 06:03, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

Is it consensus that we should discuss opinion writing as a type of primary source?

Concerning the latest changes, I am not denying opinion peices might be a type of primary source, but I sometimes wonder whether the distinction primary/ secondary/ tertiary is not in itself something a bit fuzzy, which hinders rather than helps people looking for clear advice.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 09:37, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

Just for leisure consumption... University of North Carolina link on opinion etc as primary sources. [1] Wifione Message 10:39, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
It depends on how the opinion is formed. The first publication of an original opinion, or an opinion that someone holds through directly observing a event, is a primary source. But if someone decides to hold an opinion that others have already published, and makes that decision as a result of reading sources, then it is a secondary source. Unlike Wikipedia, it is perfectly fine for secondary sources to take sides after analyzing the published sources. Jc3s5h (talk) 12:10, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Jc3s5h, the book review addition had nothing to do with the opinion part. You undid that too; so placing it back. Additionally, I think you've gotten the detail wrong. An opinion, by its very definition, is an opinion. That is why opinions and op-eds run under opinions and op-ed sections in newspapers. In case an opinion writer refers to a reliable source commenting that, for example, "WSJ mentions that Mr. A Jr's net worth is $5 bn and rising," then this opinion can be mentioned only after ensuring that there is either a link to WSJ too or to another reliable source. In case an opinion columnist mentions that "Mr.Y is not one who can logically debate in the Senate," then again, you can use this opinion if and only if there are RS to support this conjecture. In other words, in case the opinion is formed after reading reliable secondary sources, you will find secondary sources to augment the opinion. In case no reliable source exists, then neither any material nor an article may be based purely on the opinion -- however reliable an editor may believe the opinion to be -- as the opinion remains an opinion. No opinion or contents within the opinion need be NPOV and can have a negative or positive point of view. Irrespective of that, one would need RS to augment the opinion. Our policy has been formed after critical discussions (like this). An opinion can be used easily, therefore, if there are reliable sources available that support the opinion on the issue. Therefore, I am replacing the linking to policy. Therefore, I am adding the linking back too. Thanks. Wifione Message 04:01, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
I completely disagree. Opinion pieces by acknowledged experts and journalists writing in reliable sources are not comparable to anonymous Wikipedia editors. For example, Wednesday the New York Times published an Op-Ed piece by Nicholas D. Kristof, who claims to have interviewed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, and quotes him as saying "I would like to, with your permission, greet all of your readers as well as Web viewers and wish all of them the success and blessings of the Almighty", it would be reasonable to report that quote in Wikipedia. The same would not be true if a Wikipedia editor claimed to have interviewed Ahmadinejad. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:41, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't wish to sound argumentative here. But an interview conducted by Nicholas is primary on two fronts - interviews are primary sources. Secondly, Nicholas has himself taken the interview first hand - that's his primary experience - he's directly involved in it. If Nicholas had viewed an accident and had written about it in the op-ed. That's primary too, as per policy. But I'm open to seeing your point of view too if you have another example, because whether a source is primary or secondary depends on the context. I quote policy, "primary sources that have been reliably published may be used in Wikipedia, but only with care, because it is easy to misuse them. Any interpretation of primary source material requires a reliable secondary source for that interpretation. A primary source may only be used on Wikipedia to make straightforward, descriptive statements that any educated person, with access to the source but without specialist knowledge, will be able to verify are supported by the source." Kind regards. Wifione Message 17:19, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

I read the text that was deleted in that edit as referring to the fact that sometimes, particularly in more academically-oriented publications like the London Review of Books or New York Review of Books, what is nominally a book review - i.e. an opinion piece - can in reality be, at least in large part, a scholarly consideration of the same subject as the book; and that in those circumstances, it can be treated as a secondary source of fact rather than just opinion.

Let me give an example. Professor Smith writes a book on the history of Fubars. Professor Jones, another expert in this field, is asked to review it for the LRB. What he delivers is, in effect, a summary of current thinking in Fubarology. There are whole lengthy passages which have nothing to do with discussing the quality of Professor Smith's book; they're merely setting it in context.

These passages should, then, be treated as a factual secondary source.

But perhaps I'm entirely misinterpreting the intention! Barnabypage (talk) 19:30, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

Barnabypage, there was no text deleted in the edit, only added. Secondly, the book review part was not connected to the opinion section. It's a separate section where the concept of how books may or may not be secondary/primary sources is written. Perhaps you did not see the edit clearly. Also, the book review addition clearly mentions exactly what you mention --- that book reviews may be either of the three; opinion, summary or scholarly. Thanks. Wifione Message 04:01, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Apologies, Wifione, I commented some time after looking at the diff and mis-remembered the addition as a deletion! We seem to be fully in agreement, then. Barnabypage (talk) 11:18, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
As this discussion is still going I'll just mention that I find trying to describe reliable sources in terms of the primary/ secondary distinction is often more difficult than trying to analyse them in other ways. I see no reason that we should use this distinction as an anchor which we link to.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 10:53, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
But Andrew, reliable sources as per policy on Wikipedia are described in terms of primary/secondary/tertiary distinction. Wifione Message
It is indeed an often misleading approach that invites for wikilawyering.--Kmhkmh (talk) 11:20, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Whether a source is primary, secondary, or tertiary does not have any bearing on whether the source is reliable at all. It limits how you may use the source, but it does not change whether you may use the source.
IMO the summary of PSTS in this page is unnecessary duplication between advice pages and should be removed as being out of scope. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:45, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

No, it is not in fact it actually makes little sense to me. First of all "opinion writing" is rather fuzzy term and many academic areas there is hardly any writing without "opinion" to begin with. Instead focusing too much on the primary versus secondary versus tertiary issue and "degrading" "opinion writing" by making it (artificially) primary, one should focus on the reputation & quality of the particular source, of its author and its publisher. It goes without saying WP editors need to distinguish opinion from fact in any source, but that is completely independent from the point at hand here.--Kmhkmh (talk) 11:16, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

Andrew, you're right: Classifying sources is fuzzy. It depends not only on the absolute characteristics of the source, but also on how you use the source. Also, the English Wikipedia's policies confused "secondary" with "independent" a few years ago, and the result has been pretty long-lasting confusion among editors.
So when you're trying to figure out whether a source is going to be restricted in how you can use it—not "reliable", but "easily usable"—there are three separate categories of limitations:
  • Is the source primary or not?
  • Is the source self-published or not?
  • Is the source affiliated with the subject or not?
So: MegaCorp posts a press release on their website saying that they sell the most widgets in the universe. That's primary, self-published, and affiliated: you have to be very careful how you use that. It's "reliable", but appropriate use probably includes WP:INTEXT attribution, "According to MegaCorp..."
The reporter visits a child in the hospital for some disease and writes about what the reporter saw, what people said to him (or her), etc. It's a standard human-interest story, published with a touching photo on the front of the local section. This is a primary source—but not self-published and not affiliated with the subject ("third party" or "independent"). It's "reliable", so you can use it, but only if you are careful about how you use it (as described at WP:PRIMARY).
Published opinion pieces are normally considered primary, as indicated at Wikipedia:No original research#cite_note-2. So if (to use the example above) The New York Times publishes an opinion by Kristof, who quotes Ahmadinejad as saying "I would like to, with your permission, greet all of your readers as well as Web viewers and wish all of them the success and blessings of the Almighty", and you want to add a sentence to Wikipedia that says Ahmadinejad said these words, then this source is:
  • primary,
  • properly published, and
  • independent.
It is also (more importantly) reliable for the fact that Ahmadinejad said these words. "Primary source" is not a fancy way of spelling "bad source" on Wikipedia. You may use this primary source for that purpose (if, in your best editorial judgment, that's a valuable thing to do for the article). What you can't do is take even a baby step beyond the source, e.g., to support a claim that Ahmadinejad has increase his public relations savvy or is now a nice person who wishes to bless people. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:36, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
One problem is that there is no clear distinction between opinion (primary) and analysis (secondary or tertiary).   Will Beback  talk  22:52, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes: Best judgment required. There's no way around the fact that classifying sources is complicated. Additionally, even if it is something we'd normally call a secondary source, you can transform it into a primary source by the way you choose to use it. All sources are primary for something. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:36, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
That's why it is important when assessing individual cases not to get lost in primary versus secondary versus tertiary aspect, but to focus on quality and reputation of the source instead. Things as: Does the content make sense and is internally consistent? Is it consistent with the (common) domain knowledge in that field? Is the content confirmed directly or indirectly by other sources. Is the author reputable and known for his quality work? Is the publisher reputable? Is it peer reviewed? The answers to those questions usually matter much more than some formal exact distinction between primary/secondary/tertiary.--Kmhkmh (talk) 20:46, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I agree: "secondary" is not another way to spell "good source". This guideline actually says, for example, that quotations are best sourced to the primary ("original") source. What makes a source reliable (according to this guideline) are these qualities:

  • It has a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy.
  • It is published by a reputable publishing house, rather than by the author(s).
  • It is "appropriate for the material in question", i.e., the source is directly about the subject, rather than mentioning something unrelated in passing.
  • It is a third-party or independent source.
  • It has a professional structure in place for deciding whether to publish something, such as editorial oversight or peer review processes.

Although I firmly agree that articles ought to be based on secondary sources, I think that statement is out of place in this guideline. Being secondary does not make something a reliable source. Both primary and secondary sources can be perfectly reliable (for all reasonable uses). WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:45, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

Request for comment

Please join the discussion at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Television#Sourcing plot sections.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 15:20, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Reliable source query

I'm not sure if I'm asking this in the right location, but I feel you guys would know best. I am wondering if this is considered a reliable source for supporting the National Front's ideology of fascism. There is already one reference in there, but I feel another would be helpful. The reason that I am curious is because, despite being a mainstream news source, it doesn't appear to be (in this editor's humble opinion) as reputable as sources such as The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, and The Independent. The article appears to be somewhat informal and very opinionated. I was the one who re-added this link to the article, but I'm not wholly sure if it was the right decision: could you guys give your opinion on whether or not I should be using this source? Thanks. – Richard BB 20:39, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

I would hesitate to include anything from the "popular press" as a reliable source, though it would not hurt to use it as a source of items to cross-check, thereby aoiding WP:OR. Since this involves biographies of living people, one needs to be extra cautious. I would also add that I have seen many articles in the press (especially the popular press) where what is left out is as important as what is included. Martinvl (talk) 20:56, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
The correct venue for such inquiries is WP:RSN. Dlabtot (talk) 21:08, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, I'll take this issue there. Feel free to archive this thread immediately if anyone desires. – Richard BB 21:10, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Institutions publishing on 3rd party sites

Do we need a section on what happens when, for example, an institution which would normally be recognized as an RS publishes on facebook? See this discussion. BeCritical__Talk 21:05, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

What the organization says on Facebook should be handled like what the organization says on their regular website. Both of these are self-published, because the same organization that writes the material is the organization that posts ("publishes") the material to the web. (Remember that "self-published" does not automatically mean "bad source".) WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:40, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Agree with that, but would add that definitive corroboration should be required in order to show that the account is official. In this case, there is a link from the institution's website, so fine. --FormerIP (talk) 22:01, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
No, it probably isn't self-published because IRS considers self-publication to only be publication under the control of one person, or a few people. Adopting the view that, whenever the organization that writes something also publishes it, the work is self-published is inconsistent with the guideline and would require rewriting of the guideline. Jc3s5h (talk) 22:16, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Right, how would such an organization be any more self-published than a newspaper? I mean, if you grant that the organization had sufficient general oversight that no lone wolf published something in the organization's name? BeCritical__Talk 22:24, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
I can see there's logic to that position, but I'm also not sure that an assumption can be made that social networking accounts are managed in the same way as more traditionally published material. For example, I don't think it will be normal in most organisations to do the same fact-checking. If FB postings are capable of not being self-published, then WP:SELFPUB would need amending. --FormerIP (talk) 22:45, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
So the question would be if they vouch for the facebook page. Do you think that a link from the main page would be enough, or would they have to say something explicitly? BeCritical__Talk 22:57, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
IMO the link is as good as any number of words. --FormerIP (talk) 00:11, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
See the dictionary definition: "The publishing of books and other media by the authors or creators of those works, rather than by established, third-party publishers." A newspaper, like a book publisher, is "an established publisher". This is not actually inconsistent with this guideline or with any policy. It happens that the type of self-published work that we are most concerned with is the random personal blog or vanity-press book, but even (to use the instant example) a museum's website should be handled as what the museum chooses to say about itself, its people, and its collection, rather than what the Truth™ is. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:24, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

No, I'm sure that's not correct. This, for example is undoubtedly an RS, precisely because of the reputation of the museum that has produced it. I've got a slight difficulty with the thought experiment: what would I say if they had chosen to use Facebook to disseminate that. In reality, that's not how Facebook is used, but it makes the question difficult in principle.--FormerIP (talk) 00:12, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

With respect to the original question, feeds on Facebook/Twitter are extremely unreliable, even if published by generally reliable RS. If what's published on Facebook/Twitter has an original reliably checked version, that would be a preferable link - as it would allow any normal reader to check the reliability of the particular source, irrespective of whether the publishing institution is in general considered reliable or not. There's no institution, however reliable, that can be considered a guaranteed source of reliable material all the time. For example, if I were to take your link mentioned above FormerIP, then as per this, I should have definitive proof that the five dinos listed are the five most popular (or amongst the five most popular) this world has ever known. Would you consider this definitively RS or an opinion based on personal research of the institution? Wifione Message 02:50, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Actually, it says "five of the most popular". I don't think that phrase is very useful to WP, but the source would be fine. The same phrase could easily be seen in a book or a journal article, so I don't think that has much to do with the medium. --FormerIP (talk) 13:05, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

BMW Logo Emblem

In a recent MSNBC program and interview on the subject of the logo, the top BMW Design official stated the blu & white logo/emblem does, indeed, represent the aircraft propeller in motion as originally believed. It refers back to their first product which was aircraft engines in WW I WWII .

See MSNBC or Contact the Company — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:58, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

"Personal attacks" (not off-topic)

As strange as it may sound, discussing whether an author who also happens to be a Wikipedia editor is a reliable source appears to be prohibited by WP:NPA. I have left a more detailed explanation on the talk page there. That page seems to see very little attention, despite the fact that it's labeled as a policy. The wording in question was added two years ago by an editor who proposed it on the talk page, and nobody objected. Have mörser, will travel (talk) 00:48, 30 September 2011 (UTC)


Hi. The directions in the first paragraph of Wikipedia:Published say to come here to discuss it. I just wanted to point out that the second sentence uses the word "firm" in a way that makes the sentence unintelligible. If someone here know what is meant maybe they can quickly fix it. Alanscottwalker (talk) 01:22, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Thank you for identifying that problem. I have fixed it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:25, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

Frequency of reindexing

How frequently are pages reindexed? Yesterday I removed some citations sourced to Gyan {Books|Publishers|Publishing House} as per [2], but the edited articles still come up in searches. Thanks.JanetteDoe (talk) 16:59, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

I don't know the answer to your question, but might I interest you in Wikipedia:Potentially unreliable sources? Fences&Windows 22:09, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Polls and surveys

I would like to add the following as section 4.8 under the heading “Polls and surveys”:

Benjamin Disraeli, before the days of Mori and Gallup wrote of “lies, damned lies and statistics”. Polls, surveys and the like, especially public opinion surveys are a form of statistic and should therefore be treated with care.
There are three parts to any survey:
  • Who commissioned the survey and why?
  • Do the questions in the survey faithfully represent reason for the poll?
  • Was the sample a fair sample in the context of the purpose of the survey? If not, were the adjustments to the output appropriate?
Any organisation can pay to have a survey done that comes up with the “correct” result by loading the questions – that is dressing up a “damned lie” to make it look acceptable. Surveys and polls should therefore be treated as self-published sources. If their output requires interpretation or clarification, this should be gleaned from a neutral secondary source – if interpretation or clarification by a Wikipedian is necessary, then the results of the survey or poll probably has no place in Wikipedia.

Any comments? Martinvl (talk) 18:52, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

Good suggestion. However, perhaps this is too much being said for something that can be done with much less in maybe two optional ways. One, you could add "polls and surveys" in our verifiability policy footnote than rewrite a guideline which is based on the policy. Second, add a footnote to the section on questionable sources (again, do this in the V policy than here in the guideline) that lists examples of questionable sources. Just for information, something similar already exists in the Primary Sources footnote in our NOR policy. Wifione Message 07:36, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
I have tidied up the text a bit, added some wikilinks and posted it. Further comments and tidying up are of course welcome. Martinvl (talk) 10:22, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
I suspect you'll be reverted soon. I again repeat; even though your suggestion is good, the fact that you've written so much is not. In fact, you should not have created another sub-section on this. I'll suggest that you perhaps should revert yourself and add the concept of polls and surveys in our verifiability policy footnote rather than create another section. Wifione Message 11:57, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm not quite sure what the proposed addition is for (other than to help the originator with his losing battle to impose his POV in the discussion at Talk:Metrication in the United Kingdom#ASDA). I don't think that any such addition is required to these guidelines. Neither a poll nor a survey is a "source" as such. These are research activities. The resultant report will become a primary source for the details of the research, and should be treated as all other examples of primary sources. Secondary sources reporting the research should be treated in the same way as secondary sources reporting any other type of research. -- de Facto (talk). 13:39, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
I too would raise a flag that this may be editing a policy in order to win a dispute. The editor in question is trying, for what seem like blatantly obvious POV reasons, to block inclusion of any and every opinion poll in the Metrication in the United Kingdom article. This includes polls conducted by major national polling organisations, and also includes polls whose results have been reported by multiple reliable sources both in the UK and abroad. While polls, like any source, need to be handled properly, this particular editor wants them all rejected out of hand (you should see what he's been trying to put in - trips to his local supermarket as reliable sources!). Please exercise caution in dealing with any proposed additions.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 14:55, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
I demand an immediate and public apology from User:VsevolodKrolikov for this statement. The final sentence of my posting on the Talk page read: "This is obviously original research and therefore has no place in Wikipedia (which also means that we should strip out half the article!)". Martinvl (talk) 15:25, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to be apologising for. The whole of your last statement was
If the questions do not represent the real (as opposed to the declared) reason for the poll, it is a pretty useless poll. Matching the quesations against the declared reason for the poll indicates whether or not the poll organisers are telling the truth. Of course, if WP:OR is needed to clarify this, then the poll has no place in Wikipedia.
My point is that this is not in accordance with how quantitative research is typically done. I'm not going to apologise for disagreeing with you. That would be very odd.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 15:37, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── (and edit conflict) Regarding the proposal itself, the notion that the survey instrument must reflect the reasons for the survey (in Martinvl's terms "Do the questions in the survey faithfully represent reason for the poll?") is absolute nonsense - as I told him before he posted here. For good quantitative data, you should not want the respondent's feelings about the surveyor influencing his or her answer. Of course, openness about research purposes might be raised as an ethical issue, but really only when you're dealing with vulnerable populations whose answers could directly affect their own welfare. For example, a local authority surveying the dsiabled in its catchment area regarding its care for, er, the disabled in its catchment area. That's not a relevant issue here.

regarding DeFacto's description of polls as primary sources, I'm not sure that's quite right. The primary source is the population surveyed. We can presume that major polling organisations have reputations (or ones to be lost) regarding fact checking. They need to be handled with care because (and this might be what Martinvl is trying to get at when he's attacking the whole idea of opinion polling) they are typically taken because of the salience of issues at the time, but I would still see them as secondary, not primary sources.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 15:30, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

What I'm saying is that the poll report is the primary source. It is the first time the results of the poll or survey have been collated and analysed. -- de Facto (talk). 15:45, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
How does that differ from an article in an academic journal which collates and analyses survey data? (It's not peer review as such, as that's the equivalent of the polling organisation's fact checking mechanisms. Peer review is probably an indication of being more reliable, but not of being more secondary).VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 15:49, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
The academic journal is a secondary source - it takes the primary source (the original survey report published by those who conducted the survey) and analyses/synthesises what it. In the article we've recently been discussing, the Which? report is a secondary source, the original report from Asda or the organisation they commissioned to conduct the poll, or whoever, is the primary source. -- de Facto (talk). 15:56, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
As far as I can see, you are classifying anything that a secondary source bases itself on as primary. However, secondary sources will also base conclusions and arguments on other secondary sources (other studies), and even tertiary ones (textbooks, encyclopedias etc.) Being used as a source does not necessarily make you a primary source. Instead, a primary source comes directly from the subject of you're interested in. In this case, it's the views of the British adult population, with a primary source being a database of comments. A survey (which has been through analysis) on those views is secondary. A poll is only a primary source if what you're interested in is the nature of opinion polls. Our concern with polls is their reliability and their due weight, not that they are primary.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 16:09, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
I think of a poll or survey as analogous to a scientific experiment or study and the original report produced by those carrying out the poll or survey as analogous to the paper produced to document a scientific experiment or study. -- de Facto (talk). 16:24, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
I think that underplays what polling organisations have to do. They simply don't put out raw data based on 1000 randomly selected people. They need to make sure that the sample is representative of the population they are sampling, and adjust where necessary (equivalent to the methods and results sections of an academic article). They are making secondary source comments when they make claims that x% of population Y believe proposition Z. It's true that they don't interpret the social important of the results - which is where we need to be careful, but I don't see why that makes them primary sources per se. VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 16:36, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
They have to design the "experiment" method, etc. and collate and analyse the results, yes. As scientists do for their experiments. -- de Facto (talk). 17:06, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
Which, of course, they do. So doesn't that make them a secondary source?VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 17:08, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
Take a look at WP:PRIMARY and see what you make of that. -- de Facto (talk). 17:12, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
I took a look. I would appreciate being pointed to which particular sentence you feel matters here. If it's the one about "a scientific paper documenting a new experiment" that means a new experimental method (a new type of experiment), not a repeat of previously applied methods. Otherwise, the vast majority of academic articles used on Wikipedia would be primary, not secondary. So I'm assuming it's not that sentence.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 17:18, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
I thought that the "primary sources" section was apposite. The rest of the sentence you quote ("... is a primary source on the outcome of that experiment") tends to rule out your interpretation as there would be no "outcome" from the design of an experiment, only from subsequently performing it. A poll or survey is designed, performed and reported upon in a "paper". That "paper" is the primary source for that poll or survey. Subsequent reporting or analysis of the contents of that "paper"; by the BBC or Which? or whoever are secondary sources. -- de Facto (talk). 18:21, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, this is correct. If someone was like "According to this document which I drudged out from the dumpster behind the pollsters building location X amount of people believe Y" then that would be using a primary source. If a pollster publishes its results then what they publish is a secondary source, normally handled by editors and writers who are different from the researchers who produced the results.AerobicFox (talk) 18:32, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
The results from a reliable pollster can certainly be reported in an article(e.g. a recent Gallup poll found the x% did xxx, etc). Use of an additional secondary source is more suited to analyze the data. 538 is an excellent site run by the statistician Nate Silver and now published by the NY Times. He analyzes the methods used by pollsters and would be a good example of using a source to comment on a poll(e.g. Nate Silver points out that X pollster only polled by cell phones which typically leads to over-representation of democrats, or X pollster only called landlines and at these times which normally results in larger numbers of Republicans respondents, etc, etc). There is no need to treat research results published by a reliable pollster with special handling, if there were significant mistakes in their polling method then somebody somewhere should have already pointed it out and that can be mentioned in the article.AerobicFox (talk) 18:32, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
Anybody can commission a survey and even if it is conducted 100% in accordance with accredited principals, the survey can still be biased if the questions have been loaded by the sponsors to give the “correct” answer. Likewise, if the survey results are quoted out of context, they are meaningless. In the case of the "Asda report", I have been trying to get Users DeFacto and VsevolodKrolikov to see this but neither seem able to do - DeFacto in particular accusing me of POV when he is in fact hounding me (see WP:HOUND) when pushing his own brand of POV.
Let me summarise the situation:
  • Asda reported that their own survey showed that 70% of their customers are confused by the metric system, so have reverted to selling pre-packed goods (strawberries) in one pound packs.
  • Which? magazine reported this in an article that cast doubt on Asda’s logic, the author of the Which? article asserting that most people actually bought fresh produce by count rather than by weight. She also asked for reader’s opinions.
  • User:DeFacto first repeated the Asda findings without any reference to the Which? comments in the article Metric system and after they was thrown out as being irrelevant to the article, he added them to the article Metrication in the United Kingdom.
I have found authoritative evidence that shows the Asda customer base is more heavily biased towards the least-educated sector (socio-economic group D) than is the customer base of the other three big supermarkets – Sainsbury, Tesco and Morrsions. (This is also public knowledge). DeFacto refuses to accept that this is important – I don’t know what the real reason is, it could be that he is blinded by his own POV or it could be that he is out of his depth when addressing matters that involve statistics. He asserts that since Asda have 18% of the UK market share, the Asda findings are notable on their own.
DeFacto has been backed by User:VsevolodKrolikov. I am utterly surprised that neither are able to see that even though Which? magazine reported the Asda findings, they questioned the findings rather than endorsed them. A number of other editors, who in real life have had training in mathematics or statistics, have expressed concern at using the Asda findings in this context, but DeFacto and VsevolodKrolikov have also igniored them.
Neither report ever gave the size of the previous packaging, so I cannot rule out that they were previously 500 gram packs. If this was the case, then I cannot rule out that Asda have “tuned” the questions to give a cloak of respectability to their downsizing (“lies, damned lies and statsitics” – Benjamin Disraeli).
DeFacto and VsevolodKrolikov have refused to either remove references to the Asda findings from the article or to allow the Asda findings to be put into context by deleting my attempts to do either.
In view of their behaviour, I believe it necessary to lay down the dangers of using public opinion surveys especially where it is possible that the questions have been tuned to give “correct answer”. I therefore urge that the changes I made to the main page be reinstated and that they be properly debated. If no satisfactory solution can be found here, I shall be forced to take this to arbitration.
Martinvl (talk) 07:29, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
Martinvl, your rant is infused with untruth, misrepresentation, inaccuracy, arrogance and bitterness. Your POV-pushing mission has been stalled, accept it.
You say that it was me who added the Asda findings to the Metrication in the United Kingdom article - in fact it was you – here!
You assert that I refuse to accept that the socio-economic background of Asda's customers is important. What makes you think that - a non sequitur conclusion based on my refusal to accept your original research in which you attempted to imply it to be significant?
You assert that I assert that since Asda have 18% of the UK market share, the Asda findings are notable on their own. I didn't. I opined that becasue Asda is the 2nd largest (by market share) supermarket in the UK, that its actions with respect to metrication were notable.
You assert that "a number of other editors, who in real life have had training in mathematics or statistics, have expressed concern...". Will you list them all please to support the weight you give by the use of "a number of".
You assert your bizarre POV on the Which? report as somehow being the only possible interpretation. It isn't.
Your use of absolute and uncompromising phrases such as: "I have been trying to get Users...", "I have found authoritative evidence that shows the Asda customer base...", "DeFacto refuses to accept that this is important...", "it could be that he [DeFacto] is out of his depth when addressing matters that involve statistics...", "I am utterly surprised that neither are able to see that even though...", "I cannot rule out that they were previously 500 gram packs.", "... have refused to either remove references to the Asda findings from the article or to allow the Asda findings to be put into context by deleting my attempts to do either", "In view of their behaviour, I believe it necessary to lay down the dangers of using public opinion surveys..." suggest a mission to impose your POV rather than a quest to achieve consensus and balance.
You cannot seem to accept that your view is not necessarily the definitive view, or that it may be flawed.
Additionally, you cannot seem to accept that your theories about how the Asda survey might be flawed are just that - your original research - and have no place in the article until you can find a reliable source to support them in relation to that specific survey.
It appears to me that in a last-ditch effort to enforce your prejudices that you are now attempting to alter the guidelines to improve your chances. You even have the arrogance to "urge" that your rejected changes to this policy be "reinstated" first, and then discussed later!
-- de Facto (talk). 09:57, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
Martinvl, You and one other user (HiLo48) have asserted that you have expertise that somehow makes your opinion important on the grounds that you did a bit of stats at university. Yet this dispute has never involved mathematics or mathematics for statistics. Instead it has involved how quantitative social research is done, and on this count, both you and HiLo haven't demonstrated any particular specialist knowledge at all. HiLo didn't even know what national statistics offices are for, and you appear not to be familiar with survey research. That's not a crime, and it doesn't make you less of an editor, but your conviction that you must be right because of what degree you did seems to be causing you problems in interacting with editors who disagree with you.
Your interpretations of the Which? report here on the Asda survey don't stand up. You have claimed it is obvious the piece was written to avoid an expensive libel case (eh?), and that the writer is casting doubt on the reports, when all she is doing is identifying as someone who (a) doesn't buy her produce at Asda and (b) doesn't think about weight at all when she shops. She reports the survey neutrally, with neither critique nor endorsement. The survey is also reported in other reliable sources.
An examination of behavioural issues would indicate that you have at least a couple of times deliberately ignored that there is a dispute, and have been pretty contemptuous of other people's edits. You have also attempted to introduce material with sourcing clearly so much worse than that which you dispute that it has been tendentious. Not sanctionably so, although it wouldn't help you should you decide to take our behaviour "to arbitration" (by which I presume you mean ANI of some sort). I'm not sure what we've done wrong except disagree with you.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 10:28, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
Going back to the original question, we try to avoid doing too much of our own investigation and assessment. Surveys and polls are definitely okay for use in Wikipedia if they are peer reviewed or by reputable polling organizations. We can always add extra about them from reliable sources. If a company does its own survey and it doesn't use a professional with a reputation to protect or submit it for peer review then that is self sourced data. We can report it if it appears in a reliable source but we should be careful to say what it is and not give weight to the results. We don't have to argue on talk pages about motivations or cast aspersions on points of view or anything like that. Reliable sources and due weight cover everything that's needed. Dmcq (talk) 10:55, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
Thanks to Dmcq and AerobicFox for your comments. I shall try not to continue the dispute here (sometimes it's difficult not to respond). But I would appreciate your (and others') input. Regarding AerobicFox's comment that polls do not require special handling - I do think polls can present a particular danger in terms of inadvertent or deliberate bias being introduced into an article because there is no discussion in a polling report as to the implications of the results. Here's an example of what I mean:
There is a (thankfully entirely civil) disagreement on the same page about how polls are presented. For example, there are two polls (both by legit organisations) regarding public attitudes to imperial and metric measures. One considers people's attitudes to turning completely metric in all aspects of life (to which a small majority are opposed and a smallish minority supports), while the other considers how people think about journey distances (showing that people overwhelmingly think in imperial). My view is that because, unlike most areas of British life, roadsign journey distances have not been metricated at all, we may be misleading readers if we simply put the two polls side-by-side in a section on public opinion without any comment or context. The two polls are not really measuring similar enough things. Others argue that these are reliable sources and it's not our business to worry about providing context. What do you think?VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 13:47, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
I must admit I can't see any reason for sticking an in-house survey by a supermarket into the lead of Metrication in the United Kingdom. The main story there is about a supermarket's response to metrication laws and the survey has near zero weight. There does seem to be synthesis or pov problems in reporting that people measure distances in miles when distances haven't been converted, especially when the lead does not mention that distances have not been converted. The lead should say that distances are still required to be in miles and yards before mentioning that people use miles and yards, the lead should summarize the article and the article talks about distances. Dmcq (talk) 14:11, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
The thing they are still worried about in Ireland is the pint. Far more important than distances and speeds ;-) Dmcq (talk) 14:21, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

IMO, "polls" are evanescent creatures - and articles should avoid using them. Online polls are worse - as they intrinsically are "self-selected" as to voices. Even if from a "reliable source" the use of polls is suspect as being a way to inject opinions and treat them as fact. Collect (talk) 14:23, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

(ec) I agree that properly done opinion polls are more appropriate for the lede. (It seems to have been my suggestion that we assemble what polls we can find to replace that survey that sent Martinvl here). I would say that the Asda material has weight in the section on retail, while the lede should summarise Tesco and Asda's actions and reasons. In general the issue of metric and imperial for produce sellers is clearly due content in this topic (it's fired somewhat by the overlap salience of the issue in pro and anti-europeanist debates), so I can see why some people would consider the Asda survey appropriate for the lede. But as it seems to have been an in-house survey (reported by RS), it needs to be in context in a section of the article. I also agree that the article has problems of POV and synthesis. There are people wanting to have material where reliable sources have not pronounced, and there are people wanting to have their POV put in, and there's seems to be a large degree of overlap between the two.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 14:32, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
You're lucky that the biggest worry is the size of the glass. In Japan it's the quality of what goes in the feckin thing. Current exchange rates would put a pint of Guinness (always chilled) at around 10 Euros.
I think that User:VsevolodKrolikov’s comments about HiLo48 not being aware of what the National Office of Statistics did highlights a cultural gulf between his liberal arts background and HiLo48’s and my scientific/mathematical background. When HiLo48 and I spoke of statistics, I believe that he meant things like analysis of variance, Gaussian distributions and the like. A typical problem (taken from my textbook) that we might be asked to solve in the first year of a statistics course is “The annual salaries of a random sample of 1000 individuals of a particular age and profession has a mean of £1000 and a standard deviation of £50, while a random sample of 500 individuals of the same age but belonging to a different profession has a mean of £980 with a standard deviation of £75. Determine whether there is a significant difference between the average salaries of the two professions at the given age.” (Note, this problem date from an exam paper of the late 1940’s).
Since that type of problem is so common in stats courses, I assumed that much of what I wrote to be self-evident. It appears to me however that VsevolodKrolikov’s tradition is one where the term “statistics” is much more oriented towards the actual gathering of statistics from the relevant data agencies rather than testing them for validity in the matter that HiLo48 and I have been taught to do.
I trust that this will show why I we were both getting so exasperated at trying to explain ourselves. VsevolodKrolikov comments? Martinvl (talk) 16:10, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
I'll repeat the point that the dispute has never been substantively about the use or misuse of statistical methods. (HiLo48 made reference to Disraeli's worn-out quote, but when I hear that these days, I reach for my Spearman .45.) It has been precisely about real-world practice: question-setting, sampling issues and the politics of opinion polling. (As it happens, the stats problem you cite was the kind of thing I did for A level maths (for non-UK users: aged 16-18) in the late 80s; it's barely undergraduate.) A more general point is that by claiming expertise as if it mattered in the discussion, one risks switching off any faculty of self-criticism while opening oneself up for disdain at every single point one gets wrong. It should be strongly discouraged as unconducive to collegiate editing; expertise on Wikipedia is demonstrated rather than asserted. VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 17:04, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

Overall, I think this is a bad idea, and the fact that it's being proposed in response to a specific content dispute makes me nervous. Going back to the original three questions, it seems to me that they mean—or will be routinely taken to mean—the following:

  • Who commissioned the survey and why?: If you personally suspect the source's motives—say, an animal rights group talking about nutrition—then you can reject the information.
  • Do the questions in the survey faithfully represent reason for the poll?: Please make a habit of violating WP:NOR to reject published information you personally disagree with.
  • Was the sample a fair sample in the context of the purpose of the survey? If not, were the adjustments to the output appropriate?: Please make a habit of violating WP:NOR to reject published information you personally disagree with.

I'd guess than less than 1% of our editors is competent to make the last judgment, and many newspaper reports of surveys do not provide enough detail to make it possible for even an expert to do this. IMO what we need to do when surveys or polls are reported is to use liberal WP:INTEXT attribution: "Asda conducted a survey that showed their customers prefer imperial weights and measures", not "Everybody hates metric units". IMO such attribution is (1) good practice, (2) not within the scope of this guideline, and (3) already adequately described in the proper advice pages. And as a bit of personal advice, Martin, if you really believe that the only plausible explanations for the apparent British preference for "miles" or "pounds", as indicated in not only the Asda poll but all others mentioned on the talk page, is that either all the polls are biased or that "the British public are incredibly stupid"[3], then perhaps we'd all be better off if you picked one of the other nearly four million articles to work on. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:37, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

In response to User:VsevolodKrolikov - OK, this dispute has not been about proven misue of statistical data, but has been about possible misuse of statistical data. Just to remind yourself, please reread my veruy first posting on this matter: First posting in section Asda. All the points that I made are about potential misuse of statistical data.
In response to User:WhatamIdoing - You wrote "I'd guess than less than 1% of our editors is competent to make the last judgment". If you read my first statement in this argument (see above), then you will see where things started and hence my view that the quoting of public opinion surveys should in most circumstances be discouraged. Martinvl (talk) 15:55, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
Martinvl, this dispute has at no point covered material where editors needed to understand statistical methods - not even at at the (I'll be kind and say low intermediate) level that your exam question suggests your own much vaunted expertise is at. It has been, as it should be here, about reliable sources reporting on surveys, and where polling organisations are concerned, oversight, reputations for accuracy and fact-checking and so on. We do not have formal experts on Wikipedia, despite your self-aggrandising claims to be much like an expert witness in a court in wikipedia matters.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 16:21, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
I think that I have identified material that makes changes to this particular article unneccessary. I am continuing the discussion in Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard. Martinvl (talk) 18:29, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

GI Forgotten War Orphans Monica Kwon Banks

I have read and understood you do not agree with my website page in Wikipedia, on the issue of GI Forgotten War Orphans. Yes, there are very few orphanages. There are known national non acceptance of these children because of being half American or half of whatever nation is in there zone of War. I know by experience because I was one of these children. Now if you were a GI maybe no you did not mean to leave one, or maybe you did not, but this issue does exist and is a problem. There were horrible incidences that occurred with being born on a DMZ line in a bombing zone. GI soldier is all I know my father's name was, I do not blame him , but I do blame the governments involved for not even acknowledging these babies and children existed. Some did not even have the human rights, people can write about the Jewish Halocaust, I believe I have the Freedom Of Speech to tell the truth about the babies and children who were made orphans and many, many of them did not survive. Monica Kwon Banks, GI Forgotten War Orphans Monica Kwon Banks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Monybanks123 (talkcontribs) 01:49, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

See this editor's user page and my comment on her talkpage. WP:NOTWEBHOST would seem to apply here. Elen of the Roads (talk) 16:59, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

change of sisters name

Why on Robert Wagners page is his daughter name Katie, but when her name appears on her half sisters page she is called courtney? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:24, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

Robert Wagner#Marriages and relationships says he had two daughters, Katie Wagner and Courtney Wagner, with two diferent women. I'm not sure which other article you refer to. PrimeHunter (talk) 23:40, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

New checklist

With the help and encouragement of my colleague Lexein I created a checklist for organizing one's thoughts and/or arguments about references, it is here: Wikipedia:Ref vetting checklist. I used it a couple of times and it seems useful enough. If anyone wants to make improvements or suggest improvements, that'd be welcome. I'd like to list it in the the "See also" section of WP:RS, is that OK? Herostratus (talk) 17:42, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

Not having any objection, I'm putting this in the "see also" section of this page. (I changed the name to "Wikipedia:Reliable sources checklist" at Lexein's suggestion). I've used this checklist a couple of times and it seems useful, so I encourage people to give it a whirl. Herostratus (talk) 16:44, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

Tricky problem with commercial links

In going over references in List of vegetable oils, I'm finding myself wanting to distinguish between oils that have and have not received commercial interest for particular purposes. The most straight-forward way to document commercial activity is to point to it in the references, but those are, by definition, marketing materials, and fall afoul of WP guidelines. It'd be great to find a peer-reviewed article saying, "You can buy this stuff", but that turns out to be very difficult. And typing "apple seed oil cosmetics" or whatever into Google arguably constitutes original research, although of as low a level as it's possible to conduct. What do you do if the point of a reference is to say, "This, right here, is an example of marketing materials on this topic, in order to show that the stuff is actually being marketed for this purpose."? Waitak (talk) 22:41, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

I'd say WP:IAR applies. :-) Just be careful. If there is only one brand for a specific oil, I'd say linking to the brand is OK, as long as you don't actually repeat their sales pitch. If there are fifteen brands (I imagine olive oil has hundreds...) you can probably find a more neutral source, comparing them or surveying them or something. --GRuban (talk) 02:26, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
You might be better off linking to a manufacturer's page than to a retailer's page, and you might be able to find one or more that contain similar information. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:29, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback. Waitak (talk) 16:40, 22 October 2011 (UTC)

A Daily Mail clause

An interesting discussion at RS/N a few weeks ago over the Daily Mail fabricating a story about Amanda Knox petered out with a lack of consensus, mostly because those opposing striking anything recent by the paper as unreliable state that "everyone does it". This is an argument that gets trotted out wrt Fox News as well. While, of course, this has a nugget of truth in it, I'm opposed to the assertion in this policy that news organisations are generally reliable for anything. Obviously, even if the rest of the Daily Express was considered reliable, we wouldn't cite it on anything regarding the European Union. Even in general, we'd be wary of using a source's article on something its editorial line is against (and in some times, even for). Should we include a bullet point that due diligence should be taken when using a source in this case? Editors should show diligence anyway, but...

Secondly, and this is related to the Daily Mail (re: it's coverage of Doctor Who actress Karen Gillan been caught nude in a hotel corridor): gossip pages, even in an RS, are not RS for the obvious reasons, right? Sceptre (talk) 03:20, 23 October 2011 (UTC)

WP:BLPSOURCES says "Material should not be added to an article when the only sourcing is tabloid journalism." So we wouldn't use the Mail for gossip about Karen Gillan, and probably WP:UNDUE would keep such an incident out of a BLP anyway (which reminds me of Talk:Dakota Blue Richards#Deleted content). When we know that a particular source is unreliable or biased on a particular topic, absolutely we should keep it out of articles on that topic. Fences&Windows 21:39, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

Dispute over sources in Libya content

I've noticed a couple of editors recently citing Iranian state media outlet PressTV, "anti-imperialist" news website, Russian news service Pravda, and American talk radio host Alex Jones to support additions and changes to content on articles related to Muammar Gaddafi and the Libyan civil war. Are these permissible as reliable sources? -Kudzu1 (talk) 22:03, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

As an addition to this, the information they are adding goes wildly against common sense and in some cases is clearly wrong or fake. Jeancey (talk) 01:22, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Should be cited with attribution, at the least. Dlabtot (talk) 02:49, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Well... one of the claims is that there was a spontaneous 1 million man march in tripoli to show support for gaddafi earlier in the conflict. Considering that there are only 6.4 million people in libya at all, and only 1.7 million in tripoli metro area, I highly doubt a million of them were marching. It's things like that, which are completely unreasonable claims. Jeancey (talk) 03:09, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

You may be interested in using Wikipedia:Reliable Sources/Noticeboard which deals with the reliability of specific sources to support specific claims. Fifelfoo (talk) 03:44, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

Victor Valimaki

Why aren't Victor Valimaki's fight stats correct. I saw him fight in Feb 2007 at MFC 11 at the Edmonton Convention Center and met him earlier that week at West Edmonton Mall while the MFC was promoting the upcoming event the following Saturday. He acted professionally and was receptive to my fiancé and I. He did a fine job of representing the MFC organization and the sport of MMA in general also he was genuinely impressionable hence my recollection of the encounter. Both my fiance and I are sure that he was the current light heavy weight champion for the MFC at the time but this information isn't listed under his stats. Anyway I thought somebody at Wikipedia should correct his information. Right now the info is not accurately showing his accomplishments, this is misleading to any of his fans that are searching for info about him and of course it must be annoying to Victor himself to see that one of his most notable accomplishments during his MMA career is not listed in Wikipedia. When searching online for info regarding any fighter in MMA, the Wikipedia site is usually in the first two or three links on the results page. The info on Wikipedia is selling him short so to speak. I think Wikipedia is a wonderful resource and is usually the first link I select when looking for info about popular people. I maybe wrong in my statements here and apologize for any inconvenience if I am. Thanks kindly and keep up the good work. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:31, 29 October 2011 (UTC)

Thank you for your suggestion. When you believe an article needs improvement, please feel free to make those changes. Wikipedia is a wiki, so anyone can edit almost any article by simply following the edit this page link at the top.
The Wikipedia community encourages you to be bold in updating pages. Don't worry too much about making honest mistakes—they're likely to be found and corrected quickly. If you're not sure how editing works, check out how to edit a page, or use the sandbox to try out your editing skills. New contributors are always welcome. You don't even need to log in (although there are many reasons why you might want to). WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:26, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

Did Whitney Cummings graduate high school early?

I was noticing Whitney Cummings' accomplishments. She seems to be very smart. However, I was wondering if she graduated high school, and thus college, early. Her birthdate is noted as 1982. However, I was born in 1978 and it seems odd that we graduated high school and college at the same time. I did not go through school quickly, or skip grades, or anything of the sort. Just curious. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:16, 30 October 2011 (UTC)

The dates in the article for her graduation from high school and college were wrong. Now corrected using citations. Fences&Windows 21:16, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

What to do if an editor insists that a RS isn't?

This is an interesting problem. There is a list with sources. However the editor seems to have looked for specific words to be present in what would otherwise be reliable sources. Words such as "emo", "grunge", and "hardcore". If the creator found those terms the editor ignored the rest of the RS and included the phrase including those select words as proof of membership on the list. I however don't think that taking words and phrases out of context should be permitted. This is a case where no other sources support the claim but the editor believes that one reliable source outweighs other reliable sources that don't support that one. What should be done in this case? This is a discussion about the list of Christian hardcore bands. --Walter Görlitz (talk) 21:12, 31 October 2011 (UTC)

This seems to be a case for WP:RSN?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 21:15, 31 October 2011 (UTC)
I concur: take it to WP:RSN but first do some research to verify the stability of the web site, whether the author cites other notable sources, notability of author, expertise of author in the field, author's other published works (books, articles), whether author or works are cited in other reliable sources - see WP:RSVETTING. The only downside is that RSN isn't always fast - they have a backlog. The more work you do, the easier it will be for them to call "reliable." I was able to rehabilitate two "unreliable" blogs: see WP:WikiProject IRC/Sources. --Lexein (talk) 06:26, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

The first hall building was converted to a 2 story building in the 70s.

Stranahan High School

The first hall building was converted to a 2 story building in the 70s.

This is incorrect. I was a member of the first graduating class from Stranahan High School (1959) and I had classes (Modern European History with Ida Jane Madl) in a classroom on the second floor of Building One. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:43, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

If you can find a WP:Published reliable source (local newspaper, maybe? Surely they would have mentioned the construction of a new school building) that supports your recollection, then you should WP:BOLDly fix the error. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:29, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

Grassroots/participatory media (citizen journalism) ?

I notice there is no metion of Citizen_journalism. This apears like somewhere inbetween commercial and self-published. I am new to wikipedia and I understand that Wikipedia principles pages should not be edited before consensus here in the talk page. (talk) 12:54, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

What would you find useful to say about this? WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:28, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
Mention them for starters. (talk) 12:53, 10 November 2011 (UTC)

User pages may be, in fact, reliable sources

We recognize that self-published blogs may be reliable sources if the author can be reliably identified. Such sources may be used for non-contentious information about the author, or for subject matter that the author has previous publications in reliable sources. A Wikipedia user page has most of the characteristics of a blog, so if it can be reliably attributed to the author (for example, because the author has stated the name of his/her user page in a reliable source) then that user page is just a reliable as any other self-published blog with a known author.

So the limitations on using user pages as sources are not about actual reliability, but rather Wikipedia's policies about what kind of material we want, and don't want, on user pages. Jc3s5h (talk) 15:56, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

There's a lot of problems with that. The main one is that user pages are editable. I guess you could cite a diff, but I don't think this is something we should be relying on for much. Gigs (talk) 18:15, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
The problem mentioned by Gigs should be elaborated: it's not that the pages are editable, since blogs are editable as well, it's that they're usually openly editable. Anyone on the planet may edit my user page. It's why Open Wikis are not reliable sources. --Walter Görlitz (talk) 18:44, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

Extrapolation from RS

I have been wondering to what extent information can be extrapolated from a reliable source. I would like to ask about the theoretical example about using a map as a reference to explore data extrapolation. Let us say that the map is an ordinance survey map of Suffolk in the UK, and the map clearly shows that Suffolk is next to the sea. Would it be acceptable to add "Suffolk is a coastal county" and use the map as an in-line reference in a Wiki article. The map is published and can be examined by anyone to verify this fact from extrapolation; however, let us presume the words "Suffolk is a coastal county" or similar do not actually appear on the map. Snowman (talk) 16:17, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

In this particular example, it should be fine, because this is an uncontroversial fact. You might be advised to find a better source. There are many books relating to the Suffolk coast that you could choose from. But no-one is going to say that you are making too much inference from the map. If you want more examples, look in the archives of the No Original Research noticeboard. Itsmejudith (talk) 16:34, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
Thank you. I am sure there are more conventional text sources with this information, but I wanted to explore what sort of conclusions can be made from the information presented in a reliable source. Snowman (talk) 16:53, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
That's not extrapolation. Extrapolation would be using temperature records from the last 100 years to predict the global temperature rise in 2050. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:36, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
Thank you. I see; I suppose it is more data extraction than data extrapolation. Snowman (talk) 16:47, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
That's right, and what you would be doing with the map is similar to the paraphrasing and summary of sources that we do all the time. If a book said "Einstein failed at everything he ever attempted", and we knew this was a reliable source and representative of the general view, we would able to write "Einstein was not successful". Itsmejudith (talk) 17:01, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
I see what you mean, but I hope using Einstein in a hypothetical example in that way does not confuse anyone. Snowman (talk) 18:07, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
I hope not, because it seems he was quite successful :-) Itsmejudith (talk) 18:21, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
The general theme is that reliable sources contain information—and that information is not always supplied in words. You can use a map to describe a geographic feature just like you can use a famous painting to describe the contents or colors in the famous painting. It would be equally acceptable to use (to name a famous ancient map) the Psalter world map itself as a (primary) source to describe the contents of that map or the features listed on it, or to use any reasonably reputable modern map to say that Suffolk is not a landlocked area. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:09, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

Canadian Immagration Act

Hi I just was on this website trying to find some info and realized that your site has made very little to no mention on this topic specifically Pierre Trudeau and the immagration of Jamacian criminals Could somebody please clairfy this for me — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:38, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

Thank you for your suggestion. When you believe an article needs improvement, please feel free to make those changes. Wikipedia is a wiki, so anyone can edit almost any article by simply following the edit this page link at the top.
The Wikipedia community encourages you to be bold in updating pages. Don't worry too much about making honest mistakes—they're likely to be found and corrected quickly. If you're not sure how editing works, check out how to edit a page, or use the sandbox to try out your editing skills. New contributors are always welcome. You don't even need to log in (although there are many reasons why you might want to).
You might look into WP:Articles for creation if you want to start a completely new article on this subject. Be sure to read about whether the subject qualifies for a separate article. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:03, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

The new conservative media

See here:

Another part of the Republican Party's problems, Frum says, is "the new conservative media, that create an environment in which you can have a different set of facts from other people." As examples, he cites Fox News, talk radio, conservative blogs and the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal.

Count Iblis (talk) 02:00, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

Assuming Frum's opinion is important and relevant enough in the context of whatever article we are talking about, yes this is a reliable source. Or is your point something you forgot to type? --FormerIP (talk) 02:03, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
Did you see that box at the top that says "To discuss reliability of specific sources, please go to Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard"? This is WT:RS, not WP:RSN. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:04, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
I'm guessing that the original poster is making the point that "new conservative media" entities are not reliable, per Frum? But all of the examples shown are already not considered reliable sources for statements of fact. Herostratus (talk) 03:21, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

"Self-published sources" -- say what??

What is a "self-published source"? Most newspapers publish themselves. Many journals also. If I'm Henry Ford I can pay for my own newspaper (that good old reliable Dearborn Independent), and we all know about William Randolf Hearst who at one point owned nearly 30 newspapers and what is now the core of the Hearst Corporation. Did Hearst "self publish"? Does this WP doctrine merely mean to exclude people who "self publish" but don't have a lot of money? What is it about having a lot of money that makes what you say intrinsically "reliable", as in "truthful?" Please discuss, in light of Hearst.

Here's the WP policy from WP:V, WP:IRS and the section on WP:SELFPUBLISH:

Anyone can create a website or pay to have a book published, then claim to be an expert in a certain field. For that reason self-published media—whether books, newsletters, personal websites, open wikis, blogs, personal pages on social networking sites, Internet forum postings, or tweets—are largely not acceptable. This includes any website whose content is largely user-generated, including the Internet Movie Database,,, collaboratively created websites such as wikis, and so forth, with the exception of material on such sites that is labeled as originating from credentialed members of the sites' editorial staff, rather than users.

The last line is particularly shocking, as the suggestion in the last line that what might make material "reliable" (and thus usable in WP) from these nasty internet "sites" is the fact that the material ostensibly comes from somebody on the site staff with "credentials." Oh, really? Since when has Wikipedia cared about credentials of people who write? If you have credentials, what does it matter if you're blogging? If you don't have credentials (like curveball (informant)), what does it matter if you're being presented by the US government and then published as a source by the New York Times? If you think publishers with a lot of money check credentials and sources, you need to read WP:OTTO just one more time. And if you think government is any more careful, check out the cause of the 2003 Iraq war.

WP has never been very hot about the credentials of people it uses for sources. But it's not above slipping the matter in, if somebody argues that WP's present policy simply amounts to believing the statements of publishers with a lot of money, over those who have less money. Shame on you. Anybody want to defend this idea?

WP:V says "Anyone can create a website or pay to have a book published, then claim to be an expert in a certain field. For that reason self-published blah-blah-blah—are largely not acceptable." Anybody here spot the hole in the logic? "Since" anybody can pay to create a website or pay to have a book published.... But "anybody" means ANYBODY. This is then conflated with "and claim to be an expert." Which is the problem? "Self publishing" (whatever that is) or "claiming to be an expert?" Many large dead-tree publications do not rely on experts, and WP does not require them to, so who are we kidding? Nor does WP care about experts.

Let me point out that there actually is no logical bridge from "anybody can self-publish and claim expertise" to the next statement in this policy, which is that the many sources named next, are therefore "unacceptable." Yes, is it is true that anybody can publish, but that simply means anybody can publish. Large groups, small groups, business, single individuals, a little "academic press" employing two editors. Wikipedia takes statements from the New York Times, which self-publishes. And yes, anybody can claim expertise, but so what? Wikipedia frankly doesn't care about expertise, since it's impossible to prove. Yes, academia has methods, but the conventional academic ways are the very ones that Wikipedia has always steadfastly ignored whenever it comes to "big money publishing."

So, if your policy is "big money publishing, not truth" which WP's seems to be, then you reap what you sew. The complaints above about "the new conservative media" with a lot of bucks are to be expected. Wikipedia, the tool of capitalist propaganda; how could we expect otherwise? And failing that, WP's policies make it inevitably the tool of any group that can raise enough money to kill some trees and put printer's ink on them. Believe it or not, that can even be the political Left. SBHarris 19:59, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

Commercial, academic and some political/religious presses publish on the basis of an editorial policy designed to check content. The separation of editor and author defines in many significant ways what is a self-published text and what is not. Compare, (given your description of wikipedia as "capitalist propaganda"), Historical Materialism to the world socialist web site. Historical Materialism has a separation of editorial and authorial functions, wsws doesn't. Historical Materialism is the publisher of author's articles, New York Times is the publisher of journalist's articles, wsws is both publisher and author. Fifelfoo (talk) 21:07, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
Okay, but in your minimalist interpretation, that still only means that all I need is two people, one to write and the other to edit. I'll bet even the "world socialist web site," separates those functions. Given the way human memory works, it's pretty hard to write anything that isn't full of fubars and obvious mistakes without it! So? If you have a blog with two people, is it now not a self-pub? SBHarris 21:30, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
The wsws doesn't indicate any separation of editorial function from their content. Similarly, with a blog you would be hard pressed to evidence the separation of editorial function that RS/N editors look for when evaluating sources. If you have particular works you're concerned about, I'd suggest taking them to RS/N. Some SPS get through because of the "expert" exemption, that the author has a reputation for quality in this area and has a reputation to maintain separate from the presses' failings. Fifelfoo (talk) 21:38, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
What makes something non-self-published is the separation between author and publisher, not between author and editor. (That division is what produces "fact-checking" and "editorial control".)
And just like "secondary" is not a fancy way of spelling "good source", self-published sources can be excellent and non-self-published sources can be truly lousy. The five characteristics of a reliable source are listed here. Being non-self-published is #2 on the list, but there are four others. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:51, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
I was using "editor" to describe the editorial function of the publisher. Fifelfoo (talk) 22:52, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

Yes, the term "self published" is very bad, but unfortunately it is well established, just like "original research". What the term really means includes both amateur publishing and vanity presses, but not professional new organizations even if they do self-publish their content in the plain sense of the term. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:19, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

I think nearly everyone only slightly familiar with Wikipedia policies will understand that "self-published" is widely used outside Wikipedia, and is a red flag for reliability in the same way as "published by the author". In contrast, "original research" has a much different meaning within Wikipedia than in the real world. Many claims that would be rejected in Wikipedia as "original research" would be rejected by journals because they are not original. Jc3s5h (talk) 01:26, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
You're right. But I think the main use of "self published" is in the context of novels and albums (as in Self-publishing). Another unfortunate terminology is that if I publish my research paper on my website or on, it would usually be described as "unpublished" rather than "self-published". — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:39, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
  • SBHarris, have you read the footnote on self-published sources in our Verifiability policy? Wifione Message 04:38, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Oh, you mean footnote #4 about extraordinary claims and extraordinary sources. That just pushes the question back to what constitutes an extraordinary source. In science, it really requires multiple independent well-done studies of the physical phenomena. In other fields, it's not at all clear what it means. But in any case, it doesn't have much to do with self-publication. With dead-tree publication, it really MEANS something that the publisher and editor are not the author, since the publisher takes a monetary risk. But all it means is that the publisher is taking a risk, not that the material is likely to be true. All it means is the publisher thinks that this book about Atlantis or some new-age diet or flying saucers or the JFK assassination conspiracy, will SELL. In our era of e-publishing, we don't even really have that. So what's the point of looking at who publishes what? It's sort of irrelevent, except inasmuch as the publisher has a reputation for fact-checking. But that applies as well to ME if I self-publish, if I (and my editor) have a reputation for fact-checking. It's the reputation for "truthiness" that counts, not who publishes. SBHarris 19:29, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
No, Wifione means note 5 ("Self published material is characterized by the lack of independent reviewers (those without a conflict of interest) validating ..."): this is the one highlighted in pale blue if you follow that link in Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera or Safari; but although IE7 goes to the correct place, it doesn't highlight in blue. --Redrose64 (talk) 20:28, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Ah. Well, that's a much better criterion. (Although if he meant footnote 5, why does his pipelink above read [[Wikipedia:Verifiability#cite note-4|footnote]]?) Although this criterion should make you think very hard about anxiety-provoking stories published by newspapers who know that they had better not be boring, or else they won't be bought and read. Again, I reference the NYT stories about WMD in Iraq that were a major trigger of the totally unnecessary Iraq war. Suppose you're an editor of the NYT-- do you not realize that if you don't publish stories about threats to New Yorkers, you're eventually going to lose your job?? Why doesn't that count as a conflict of interest?

But back to the original point, I'm fully in agreement that editorial oversight by somebody who has no confict of interest is very helpful, and lack of that should (normally) be a certain blackmark against information "sources" in general. But then let us write is as a WP:COI thing and not as a WP:SELFPUB thing, with this core idea hidden down in footnote 5. One of the reasons we prefer medical "review" papers as sources rather than the primary literature, is that a lot of the primary literature has an axe to grind, and we know there's a selection-bias between reporting drugs and treatments that work, vs. drugs that don't work (who cares about those, unless it was formerly thought otherwise?). Negative drug trials tend not to get published. Would you buy the New England Journal of Medicine if it were full of negative trials? How then does such a fact influence the journals editorial policy (which papers are accepted and which are not?) Trials funded by drug companies are 4 times as likely to show positive results as trials on drugs not funded by companies that have an interest in the drug. [4] And so on.

Moving on to the next level, there is in fact no way to tell which editors here on WP are paid for, by businesses. These editors select material from business publications, which are as self-pub'd as it gets. The fact that WP has in some cases banned editors who are openly editing on behalf of clients, doesn't make this problem disappear! It merely shifts all that under the table, so the reader can no longer make a conflict-of-interest judgement (nor can the other editors working on the article). As with the medical studies, it's not that the studies we see are bad, it's simply that the ones that aren't exciting are filed and are never seen again. Wikipedia's opaque politics and its refusal to recognize genuine expertise in its own writers, compounds an already difficult problem.

Could we at least decide what policy we want, for what reason, and then plainly say it somewhere? SBHarris 02:27, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

In response to "if he meant footnote 5, why does his pipelink above read [[Wikipedia:Verifiability#cite note-4|footnote]]?", I've responded on your talk page, because it's off topic for WT:IRS. --Redrose64 (talk) 15:24, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
  • SB Harris, when I wrote the footnote 5 for this policy, it was to put into words that while COI was a superset, SPS was a subset of the same. You have to realize that while the footnote can be included in the policy's main wordings, it's only for reading ease that I made the addition into a footnote rather than main text add-on. Footnotes have as much importance as the policy and are part of the policy; but yes, they can be missed by quick readers. You're also right on another context; one could also call this wp:coi or some similar nomenclature. However, there are too many other cases under CoI - some of those which you rightly point out. How do we get them too under this policy? We could create another CoI section that subsumes SPS; yet includes many of the examples you write. Would you be interested in authoring a sub-section like that? If yes, would you wish to inquire from the community whether they'll be interested in the same? Kind regards.(And yes, about the cite note numbering: the mediawiki address numbering is always from the 0th cell; in other words, similar to why the 2000s is called the 19th century; so when you click on cite note 0, it'll take you to cite note 1;) Wifione Message 07:46, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
I don't quite understand Wifione's subset/superset terminology. In any case, a conflict of interest is more than just holding and promoting an opinion. It involves personal gain, whether the gain is increased money, power, prestige, or the like. A person who self-publishes a website to spread an opinion, however odd-ball the opinion might be, does not necessarily have a conflict of interest. Thus caution is needed when using self-published material whether there is a COI or not. Jc3s5h (talk) 15:05, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
SBHarris, apparently the answer to your question above is "no". We can't plainly state what a self-published source is, because we have some editors who find the plain dictionary definition to be inconvenient. The last time I brought this up, I was informed that was definitely not self-published, because they employ too many lawyers to self-publish anything, even though the website is both written and published by the same corporation. (According to these people, a smaller company's website is self-published, because it's written and published by the same entity and that entity isn't famous for employing lots of lawyers.) They're also apparently unable to understand what the dictionary definition's line about "established, third-party publishers" means; they think that if they use the dictionary definition, then traditional publishers, like magazines and newspapers and such, will all become self-published.
So the semi-secret wikidefinition of self-publishing seems to be sources published by people who employ too few lawyers, regardless of the publisher's or the author's identity, not merely sources that are both written and published by the same, non-established-publisher entity.
The alternate definition, when the number-of-lawyers definition is inconvenient, is "small", as in small entities (e.g., low-circulation magazines) are always self-published but large ones (say, Coca-Cola, Inc.) never are. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:51, 1 December 2011 (UTC)