Wikipedia talk:Identifying reliable sources

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Where should I ask whether this source supports this statement in an article?
At Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard. Don't forget to tell the editors the full name of the source and the exact sentence it is supposed to support.
Do sources have to be free, online and/or conveniently available to me?
No. Sources can be expensive, print-only, or available only in certain places. A source does not stop being reliable simply because you personally aren't able to obtain a copy. See Wikipedia:Reliable sources/cost. If you need help verifying that a source supports the material in the article, ask for help at Wikipedia:WikiProject Resource Exchange or a relevant WikiProject.
Do sources have to be in English?
No. Sources can be written in any language. However, if equally good sources in English exist, they will be more useful to our readers. If you need help verifying that a non-English source supports the material in the article, ask for help at Wikipedia:Translators available.
I personally know that this information is true. Isn't that good enough to include it?
No. Wikipedia includes only what is verifiable, not what someone believes is true. It must be possible to provide a bibliographic citation to a published reliable source that says this. Your personal knowledge or belief is not enough.
I personally know that this information is false. Isn't that good enough to remove it?
Your personal belief or knowledge that the information is false is not sufficient for removal of verifiable and well-sourced material.
Is personal communication from an expert a reliable source?
No. It is not good enough for you to talk to an expert in person or by telephone, or to have a written letter, e-mail message, or text message from a source. Reliable sources must be published.
Are there sources that are "always reliable" or sources that are "always unreliable"?
No. The reliability of a source is entirely dependent on the context of the situation, and the statement it is being used to support. Some sources are generally better than others, but reliability is always contextual.
What if the source is biased?
Sources are allowed to be biased or non-neutral. Only Wikipedia articles are required to be neutral. Sometimes "non-neutral" sources are the best possible sources for supporting information (with due weight) about the different viewpoints held on a controversial subject.
Does every single sentence need to be followed by an inline citation?
No. Only four broad categories of material need to be supported by inline citations. Editors need not supply citations for perfectly obvious material. However, it must be possible to provide a bibliographic citation to a published reliable source for all material.
Are reliable sources required to name the author?
No. Many reliable sources, such as government and corporate websites, do not name their authors or say only that it was written by staff writers. Although many high-quality sources do name the author, this is not a requirement.
Are reliable sources required to provide a list of references?
No. Wikipedia editors should list any required sources in a references or notes section. However, the sources you are using to write the Wikipedia article do not need to provide a bibliography. Most reliable sources, such as newspaper and magazine articles, do not provide a bibliography.


Cross-Wikimedia-project[edit]

e.g. Wikipedia article referencing news on Wikinews. This needs to be clarified. Erkinalp9035 (talk) 09:42, 15 February 2017 (UTC)

We already say that Wikipedia and most wikis and most other websites with user generated content are unreliable. As far as I'm aware, all experienced editors consider all Wikimedia projects to be generally unreliable for RS/V purposes. Does this actually need to be clarified? Someguy1221 (talk) 09:57, 15 February 2017 (UTC)
Because Wikinews has its own guidelines for reliability of news(stricter than Wikipedia) and lacks IAR policy; Wikibooks is used to create wiki e-books by itself, which should be considered the same as another multi-author e-book. Erkinalp9035 (talk) 18:06, 21 February 2017 (UTC)
No it should not. Because the concept of "reliable sources" includes peer-confirmed expertise of authors. Clearly "multi-authors" from wikinews cannot guarantee that, just like any other crowd-source. And, on a personal note, from what I read recently in wikinews, it is written by relentless POV-pushers. Staszek Lem (talk) 19:42, 21 February 2017 (UTC)
You can confirm any expert Wikimedia user via its user page, if it wishes to disclose. Authenticity control scan can be run on a wikibook just like a Wikipedia article. I meant that multi-author e-book thing for Wikibooks, but not Wikinews. Erkinalp9035 (talk) 20:16, 21 February 2017 (UTC)
We don't have and we will not have wikipedia articles edited exclusively by recognized experts in the field. Staszek Lem (talk) 20:51, 12 March 2017 (UTC)

Zimdars' 'fake news list'[edit]

Now, this is becoming ridiculousier and ridiculousier:

This reminds me teenth centuries' "battles of pamphlets". Do we really have to have both of them?

My idea was that wikipedians independently "vet" the entries in the list and we compile our own List of nonreliable sources, with the first entry being... Ta-da-a!! The Daily Mail, but clearly nobody really cares, thus creating an evident drama for one respected wikipedian.

What shall we do about this? My minimalistic suggestion is to merge the two essays into one, named Wikipedia:Zimdars' 'fake news list'. Staszek Lem (talk) 22:05, 21 February 2017 (UTC)

<Starts working on Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources/List of reasons why the list of reasons why Zimdars' fake news list is itself "fake" is fake and Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources/List of reasons why the list of reasons why the list of reasons why Zimdars' fake news list is itself "fake is fake is fake all the while giggling maniacally. > ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 22:39, 21 February 2017 (UTC)

So making a list is being talked about in Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard Endercase (talk) 21:48, 3 March 2017 (UTC)

WP:WPNOTRS seems confusing[edit]

I now realize that I don't understand this (familiar) bold-face statement in WP:WPNOTRS:

Wikipedia articles (and Wikipedia mirrors) are not reliable sources for any purpose…

So now I wonder what WP readers are to make of the ubiquitous WLs. Isn't the only reasonable assumption for them to make is that the WLed article together with its sources (and WLs…) are to be mentally transcluded into the original article? If not, what? I note that Help:Link seems to treat WL's on the same basis as external links.

Even if mental transclusion is the intent, I suppose that the intent of this dictum may have been to forbid reliance on a source cited in the WLed article to support a statement in the original article. All supporting sources should be immediately apparent. That may seem reasonable until one considers situations where the WL is used to define the subject of the statement and provide its relevant properties. The dictum would then appear to require the copying into the original article of all citations in the WLed article that bear on relevant properties of the subject. If this wasn't the intent, what was it?

Or should we mentally nuke this question with WP:IGNORE and forget it? Thanks. Layzeeboi (talk) 09:12, 3 March 2017 (UTC)

It's perfectly fine to pull sources from another article and use them on a related one. I do that all the time (just make sure you check the source and change the access date, not just rely on the text of the WP article for the information itself). But Wikipedia is edited by governments, corporations, ideologues, and outright vandals in addition to lots of constructive but opinionated editors. So if you were to cite WP as a source, while actually pointing to the source in the article you link to, literally by the time you hit save the source might not be there anymore, and is all together likely to be removed or changed over the course of several years. So as an editor working on an article, which you and others are the stewards of, and which you help protect from things like vandals and POV pushers, it's your job to make sure the actual source is included in your baby, that it says what it's supposed to say, and is available for the reader to verify the information presented. TimothyJosephWood 11:45, 3 March 2017 (UTC)
What it means is that a wikilink is not a substitute for a citation. Every article should be sufficiently sourced all by itself even if its wikilinks are ignored. A wikilink doesn't mean "click here to find the evidence for this claim", but rather "click here for further information about this topic". The reason for this rule is that otherwise it would be near impossible to figure out what the original non-wiki source of any piece of information is, and we would even have logical nightmares like articles citing each other in a circular fashion. Zerotalk 12:02, 3 March 2017 (UTC)


Perhaps:

Wikipedia articles (and Wikipedia mirrors) are not reliable sources in themselves for any purpose.

would make the intent of the sentence more clear? Obviously one may find RS sources cited within other articles, and cite those sources for the claims they support. Collect (talk) 13:29, 4 March 2017 (UTC)

  • No need for text bloat. The sentence must be taken in the context. The next sentence clearly says "Because Wikipedia forbids original research, there is nothing reliable in it that is not citable with something else." The previous sentence clearly says "Because Wikipedia forbids original research, there is nothing reliable in it that is not citable with something else.". Staszek Lem (talk) 21:10, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Now back to the original question. The problem with wikilinks is that there is no guarantee that the wikilinkes article will forever support the claim. For example, it is quite often that the "main" wikilinked article fixes some erroneous claim. But the same claim may be present in many other related articles, e.g., as a summary of as to make text logically coherent. Therefore, for the purposes of verifiablity, any text not footnoted to a "permanent" external ref may be challenged in case of doubt regardless wikilinks. (Of course, the "permanent" refs may have error themselves, but this is a global issue, not wikipedia's.) Staszek Lem (talk) 21:10, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
  • While we are at it, IMO the wording "for any purpose" is redundant (and may be misleading). In wikipedia, sources are used for the only purpose: to serve as a reference/footnote. Staszek Lem (talk) 21:19, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
That is a good point, and those words aren't true either. WIkipedia articles, like all sources, are reliable for their own content. There are a handful of cases where the content of Wikipedia got into the news and citing the Wikipedia content in an article about the news would be fine. I suggest we remove the words "for any purpose". Zerotalk 02:23, 17 March 2017 (UTC)

Thanks for all those interesting comments, but they seem to relate to editors' attitude to WLs. For example, User:Staszek Lem discusses a "problem with Wls", and "may be challenged". My original question was what are WP readers to make of WLs, regardless of what editors think of them? Readers receive no instructions about this. Isn't it inevitable that most readers will assume that the linked articles are to be considered on the same basis as the main article they are reading? Consequently, the sources cited in the linked articles must qualify as reliable sources for the original article, even if they aren't copied over. Zero sez "What it means is that a wikilink is not a substitute for a citation. Every article should be sufficiently sourced all by itself even if its wikilinks are ignored." This seems disingenuous. The practical reality is that many articles cannot be understood by most readers without resorting to some of their WLs, even though a reader with enough expertise wouldn't need them. Are those "bad articles"? I don't think so — most editors instinctively ignore WP:WPNOTRS when relying on WLs to define terms that are unfamiliar to most readers. It may be helpful to try to say more specifically what WP:WPNOTRS is intended to forbid, although I don't feel strongly about this. Layzeeboi (talk) 06:33, 18 March 2017 (UTC)

Re: most editors instinctively ignore WP:WPNOTRS when relying on WLs to define terms -- no they are not. Rather, they are applying WP:V, namely its part which says that footnotes are not obligatory for each and every blurb; the key concept in WP:V is "challenged or likely to be challenged". Staszek Lem (talk) 17:26, 20 March 2017 (UTC)
Re: what WP:WPNOTRS is intended to forbid -- it forbids exactly what it says: it forbids relying on wikipedia as a source. I.e., when challenged, one cannot argue "but wikipedia say so". Staszek Lem (talk) 17:26, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Linking to Zimdars' fake news list[edit]

Should we include a link to Wikipedia:Zimdars' fake news list in the "See also" section?

  • Support link - The list is useful for replacing unreliable sources (at least until we have a similar list of our own). Kaldari (talk) 23:51, 16 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Donald Trump also has a list of what he considers to be fake news sites. Should we create an essay documenting those opinions and link to it from our identifying reliable sources page? He is equal to Zimdars in the area of being an expert on what is fake (both of them have exactly zero qualifications) and handily beats her in the area of his opinion on what is fake being notable and often reported in mainstream news sources. I suspect that I could also find some democrat who has compiled a list of fake news sources if I looked. --Guy Macon (talk) 11:06, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose -- if a wikipedian cannot tell that newsbiscuit.com is bad, God help them. And I seriously doubt that people will have patience to consult this list. Staszek Lem (talk) 01:55, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Strongest possible oppose: Zimdars' fake news list should not be linked from any Wikipedia policy page or content guideline because [A] It is user generated content and thus by definition can never be a reliable source, [B] Melissa Zimdars is an associate professor of communications at Merrimack College who has zero qualifications for determining whether a site is fake or non fake, and [C] The list is heavily loaded with sites that supported Donald Trump and very light on sources that supported Hillary Clinton, including some obvious candidates like Huffington post and MoveOn.org. Such a link would be a clear violation of WP:USERGENERATED and WP:BIASED. --Guy Macon (talk) 11:06, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
    Isn't being an associate professor of communications a qualification for evaluating news sites? —Granger (talk · contribs) 12:26, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
    If an associate professor of communications is not qualified, then who is? I'm uncertain about linking or not, but this particular objection is nonsense. Zerotalk 12:42, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
    Indeed, "Communications" is precisely the department in many colleges that evaluates journalism and trains journalists. Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:57, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
    Zimdars is an assistant professor. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 14:07, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Support with caveats The list is useful as one criterion in deciding on sources. As Zimdars herself has said the list is not definitive.[1] I find the argument that we should apply a political litmus test to our sourcing criteria unpersuasive. Shock Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 14:33, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Same question I asked above: Donald Trump also has a list of what he considers to be fake news sites. If I were to create an essay documenting those opinions would you favor linking to it from our identifying reliable sources page? It seems like your argument above would apply equally to such a page. --Guy Macon (talk) 15:38, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
  • I am not aware that Donald Trump has a faculty position in a communications department, but of course am willing to be corrected. Shock Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 16:03, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
  • You really think that being an assistant professor at a private catholic college for less than a year makes her a recognized authority on what is and is not a fake news site? Where are her published, peer-reviewed scientific papers on the subject? What was her methodology? Can her "research" by replicated? In 2015 she tweeted "One article and video at a time, I’m gradually bringing my Dad and brother back from the propagandistic, conservative/Republican DARK SIDE". Does that sound like an academic who is expressing a neutral point of view? --Guy Macon (talk) 19:34, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose For all of the reasons given above. Plus binary or categorical categorization of sources is an inherently flawed concept. Emphasizing a previous point, such listings are very vulnerable to bias and having a double standard applied for inclusion. North8000 (talk) 19:39, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Weak support. An assistant professor of communications seems well qualified for evaluating news sources. I see Staszek Lem's point that the list may not really be that useful, but some editors might find it helpful, and including it doesn't do any harm as far as I can tell. —Granger (talk · contribs) 20:07, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose Wikipedia in general does not support "use of opinion as fact" in the best of cases, and this does not appear a strong place for an exception. Collect (talk) 20:38, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Comment: Many people on various noticeboards have made the point that we need to evaluate what a source is going to be used for rather than consulting a blanket list that simply decides that some sources are always "fake". Here is an example of this: False information on the internet is hiding the truth about onions, where both Google and the New York Times ended up telling lies about caramelized onions. Even sources that have been repeatedly wrong sometimes get it right. The National Enquirer has been wrong so many times that it would be easy to just dismiss it, but during its reporting of the O.J. Simpson murder trial The Enquirer unearthed a photo him walking on the field at a 1993 Buffalo Bills game wearing a pair of Bruno Magli shoes, even though he denied ever having owned a pair, and in 2003, The Enquirer ran a story about Rush Limbaugh's illegally obtaining OxyContin, and the police later confirmed that he had bought 30,000 pills illegally. My point is not that we should trust the enquirer -- we shouldn't (Carol Burnett never got drunk in public with Henry Kissinger, and Elizabeth Smart's family were not part of a gay sex ring no matter what the Enquirer says) -- but that someone adding information about the shoes or the OxyContin should have done more research to see what other sources were saying. They should not have consulted a list by some assistant professor who never submitted her "findings" to a peer-reviewed journal and let that list decide what is and is not "fake". --Guy Macon (talk) 19:25, 19 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose There is no reason to see this source as definitive. Are we going to place the author in the position where every time he updates his list, it automatically has the force of policy? TFD (talk) 03:36, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Speaking of updating, her original list (the one reprinted by the Los Angeles Times, and then a bunch of other sources reprinted the times article) had 118 entries and four categories. It currently has 912 entries and 12 categories (but still fails to list most major left-wing purveyors of fake news). A couple of the categories are:
Political: Sources that provide generally verifiable information in support of certain points of view or political orientations.
Clickbait: Sources that provide generally credible content, but use exaggerated, misleading, or questionable headlines, social media descriptions, and/or images.
And yet we (Zimdras doesn't) call it a "fake news list".
So if we leave the essay as it is, we will list some sites that Zimdars no longer lists and miss a bunch that she does list. And if we update it to reflect her latest version, we will be listing a bunch of sites that the LA times and other sources that reprinted her earlier list did not include, thus making our unreliable, user generated problem into an unreliable, user generated, non-notable problem.
BTW, Jessica Roy, the person who took a list intended to be a handout to students and made it viral news by putting it into the LA Times with a clickbaity headline, is a former Huffington Post producer. In an amazing coincidence, The Huffington Post is one of the makor left-wing producers of fake news that Zimdars chose not to list. --Guy Macon (talk) 19:37, 21 March 2017 (UTC)

WP:RS as a means of POV-pushing[edit]

"Reliability" is determined pretty subjectively in practice, and editors with political biases can arbitrarily declare sources they politically disagree with to be unreliable. Hardly any right wing sources are considered RS, but plenty of left wing sources are (e.g., WaPo, NPR, MSNBC). A determination of RS or not is never done on the basis of any systematic empirical study of error rates. "Reputation" is a factor, but that's mostly a collection of people's gut feelings.

We need a more objective standard of source inclusion than "Reliability", because the current standard can defacto be used to censor the use of any source that a majority of editors politically disagree with.

I would propose that any newspaper that isn't explicitly a tabloid and has a circulation in the millions should be considered worthy of inclusion.Jwray (talk) 21:32, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Oppose. A "source" is defined by three elements: publisher, author, and text itself. We don't automatically label something "worthly of inclusion" and give a green light to everything coming from it. Even the best of the best of the best make mistakes. Similarly, we don't slap "unworthly" tags lightly. And this is not to say that your rule would declare reliable Russian and Chinese govt newspapers. Staszek Lem (talk) 00:06, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
Seems rather WP:POINTy, but I'll bite. At Talk:Southern Poverty Law Center, the OP asked Wikipedia editors to name one conservative source that is reliable. I would say Fox News (excluding all of the "infotainment"), the Wall Street Journal, the National Review, The Economist, and the Financial Times are generally reliable sources. Breitbart and the Daily Mail are not. Just as, on the left, Gawker and the Socialist Worker not generally reliable sources either. Sławomir Biały (talk) 01:13, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
Economist, WSJ, and FT are centrist. Fox is center-right, and people complain when you cite it. Lots of people complain if you cite facts to National Review or anything to the right of National Review. MSNBC and NPR are more Left than National Review is Right. Jwray (talk) 02:30, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
No, they really aren't. The problem here is US politics: the Democrats are now centre right and the Republicans far right. Pretty much any dependable news source is going to look centre- to left-leaning by comparison with the fundamentalist libertarian ideology of people like Paul Ryan. Guy (Help!) 14:05, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
And after trying to cite a Wordpress blog, no less! It seems to me the problem with WP:RS isn't the policy itself. Ian.thomson (talk) 01:21, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
I wasn't trying to cite a wordpress blog. What a grossly dishonest smear tactic. I posted in the talk page a link to a wordpress that had a COPY of an article that was published in a local newspaper, because the newspaper itself doesn't have online archives. Obviously before you could use that newspaper article you would have to look it up in a library and cite the newspaper itself. Jwray (talk) 02:25, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
@Sławomir Biały:Please do not confuse the terms "right wing" and "conservative". Also, I would not put Fox and WSJ into the same political basket. Staszek Lem (talk) 01:28, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
I'm assuming that the OP does not know the meaning of "left wing" and "right wing" either, since NPR, WaPo, MSNBC are in my opinion grossly mischaracterized as "left wing" instead of left of center. Is there a list of what User:Jwray thinks are reliable "right wing" sources, for suitable definitions of "right wing"? When I think of "right wing" sources, I think of things like Stormfront, definitely not reliable. And when I think of left-wing sources, I think of things like the Socialist Worker, also definitely unreliable. But if we're going to talk about sources on the left and on the right that are reliable, then there are certainly many high quality sources encompassing a diverse range of political philosophies. Sławomir Biały (talk) 01:37, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
Left wing and right wing are not the same thing as far-left and far-right. It's in between center-X and far-X.Jwray (talk) 02:34, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
In that case, see above for a list of reliable right wing sources. Sławomir Biały (talk) 10:16, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
(edit conflict)OP lost me with "left wing sources... e.g., WaPo...". Here's my take:
  • There are lefty sources -- The Nation is a good example. It's a political magazine.
  • There are righty sources -- The National Review is a good example. It's a political magazine.
  • And there are neither-right-nor-left sources -- Time is a good example. It is not a political magazine. It is a news magazine.
Time is, of course, capable of making errors of fact -- and I'm sure it does. However, they are not usually going to be deliberate. Time magazine's business model doesn't support that. Their subscriber base wants, basically, the news -- too many errors of fact will hurt their business. But The Nation or the National Review can be suspected of possibly eliding, shading, spinning, cherry-picking, or even misstating facts on purpose in order to advance a political agenda. Their business model supports and actually encourages that, since their subscriber base wants that and will re-subscribe if they get it. IMO neither The Nation nor the National Review are very good sources for statements of fact, for this reason.
With Time, you can add in other highly-respected middle-of-the-road straight-news organizations such as the New York Times, CBS, Foreign Affairs, the Economist, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post etc. Some of these are kinda-sorta "liberal", some are kinda-sorta "conservative", and this might come out on their editorial pages -- but their news reports are pretty straight-up and they can't really be described as "left-wing" or "right-wing".
Now, some people consider Time (et al) to be a left-wing rag, and some people consider it to be right-wing rag. But those people are stone ideologues, and what we do is demonstrate that, and they generally fail to win the day. Herostratus (talk) 02:14, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
This is a nice post and I agree overall that sources like The Nation and National Review are not ideal as sources for facts for this reason, but I also think it's wrong to tar those sources with the same brush as Breitbart. I can easily see either one of the first two being acceptable under some circumstances, but it's hard to see the latter in that way. Notable have-their-own-Wikipedia-article policy experts, congressmen, distinguished professors of history, economics, etc., write for The Nation and National Review. The same cannot be said for most other sources. Sławomir Biały (talk) 23:50, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
Wall Street Journal is definitely not a reliable source when it comes to science - especially climatology. I think I never heard "Fox News" and "reliable source" in the same sentence except maybe with "not" somewhere in between. --Hob Gadling (talk) 10:46, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
WSJ may not be reliable on the science of climatology... but it is reliable on the politics of climatology. Context always matters. Blueboar (talk) 11:51, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
Being reliable on politics? What does that even mean in the context of climatology? Any sound climate politics must be based on sound climate science. WSJ promotes conspiracy theories spread by climate change deniers from libertarian/conservative think tanks, an ideologically motivated pseudoscientific fringe group, and pretends those people are worth listening to. Anybody who gets their climate change ideas from this source will end up in fantasy land. --Hob Gadling (talk) 15:28, 23 March 2017 (UTC)

Definitely a problem but a more holistic solution is needed. Add two more criteria (expertise and objectivity with respect to the item which cited it) Take wp:rs, wp: primary/ secondary/tertiary plus these two new criteria collectively as "strenth of sourcing" and then say that the more contested/ controversial the statement, the stronger the strength of sourcing must be. North8000 (talk) 02:54, 21 March 2017 (UTC)

  • Why is it that I am seeing so many comments in so many places that are clearly criticizing the results of WP:DAILYMAILRFC, yet go to great pains to not actually mention The Daily Mail? Why do they all contain phrases like "any newspaper that isn't explicitly a tabloid and has a circulation in the millions should be considered worthy of inclusion"? It seems like a strange pattern. --Guy Macon (talk) 03:07, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
    • I don't think this was. In the poster's lexicon, the Daily Mail would be "center-right," i.e., uses the same set of facts as the "left-wing" media. They want to use
Most right-wing sources fail rs because they do not have the same journalistic standards as mainstream media. I took an article from their website today that caught my attention, "Canada Conjoins Euthanasia and Organ Harvesting," by Wesley J. Smith. As you can see, he takes a news article in the conservative National Post and provides his commentary. He is not a journalist, has conducted no independent investigation and the article has not been fact-checked. Why should we use this article as a source, when we can use the original article in the National Post? We don't accept opinion pieces by liberals published in the New York Times as reliable sources either.
Regarding your proposal: "any newspaper that isn't explicitly a tabloid and has a circulation in the millions should be considered worthy of inclusion." That is already effectively the case. I cannot think of any mass circulation newspaper that has not been accepted as a reliable source, at least for news stories, with the exception of the Daily Mail.
TFD (talk) 04:12, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
Why did you specifically compare "right-wing sources" with "mainstream media"? Are you implying that there is some fundamental difference between right-wing fake news and left-wing fake news? See
A am apolitical, and it is crystal clear to me that both sides of the political spectrum are creating "fake news" and will continue to do so as long as it is effective. In my opinion, the fact that a bunch of Wikipedia editors are now treating "research" by an assistant professor at a small catholic college as if it were reliable (despite there being no peer-reviewed paper, no experimental methodology, and no evidence that the assistant professor has any expertise in the subject) as if it were a reliable source is a real problem. There is more to determining whether a source is reliable than asking "does it agree with the political positions I already hold?" --Guy Macon (talk) 09:11, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
Excellent points and summary. North8000 (talk) 11:58, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
Disagree. Come on, now, Guy Macon. This breathlessness is just too much, especially when relying on your own claimed superiority ('more, neutral than thou', really?). Did you read the articles you just posted? They all basically say the same thing, which is Wikipedia policy and guideline already: avoid social media, breaking news, and things not reported in multiple mainstream outlets.
As for that essay list, there is much stuff listed in the "see also" section that no one pays attention to, so your doom and gloom is rather silly, whether it's in the see also section or not (which right now, looks unlikely). It's also an essay, so you are free to edit it (for your version of "reliability", whatever reliability is expected in an essay), but just remember WP:BLP policy when discussing a living person anywhere on Wikipedia. Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:45, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
  • I'm laughing right now at the assertion that the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times are centrist. Of course, I've actually read the WSJ and FT before. To be fair, I'm also laughing at the assertion that MSNBC is "left of center" instead of left-wing. For the record: Conservatism is a right wing political position, just like liberalism is a left-wing political position. WSJ and FT are right-wing and generally reliable (as is Fox News, which is only center-right in the sense that they're just about smack in the center of the right-wing political spectrum). MSNBC and WaPo are left-wing and generally reliable (NPR is often claimed to be left-leaning, but I wholeheartedly disagree, at least in terms of their intentions).
There's really nothing to do here. We're not going to lower our standards to satisfy the desires of a relatively small number of editors to see their political views get more prominence and emphasis. The reason it seems like WP has a left leaning bias is because WP strives to be neutral and reality has a well-known liberal bias. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 13:37, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
    • The problem is less about which "wing" sources fall into and more about their loss of objectivity, the same path that the Daily Mail followed. Which way sources lean wouldn't be a problem if they were still objective, covering all significant viewpoints without judgement. But that's rapidly disappearing in modern journalism (the "fake news" is a great example of this). This then coupled with our RS policy which had generally eliminated many right-leaning sources that have already given up their objectivity (eg Breitbart) leaves editors heavily using left-leaning sources that are not objective to put the journalists' opinions in terms of facts, and/or refuse to incorporate significant views from right-leaning sources because "they aren't RSes". The combination is making nearly all currently political articles just echoing the sentiments of the majority of the press, rather than documenting the situation, and we're making echo chambers here. And as it seems nearly impossible to enforce WP:NOT#NEWS and WP:DEADLINE to avoid having day-to-day commentary added to articles on ongoing situations, we need to address the root of the issue, being the sourcing problem. WP editors need to take a lot more caution and be completely aware of the situation in the media rather than blinding riding on RS to write ongoing political articles. --MASEM (t) 13:52, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
Re: "And as it seems nearly impossible to enforce WP:NOT#NEWS and WP:DEADLINE to avoid having day-to-day commentary added to articles on ongoing situations, we need to address the root of the issue..." I think that our inability to enforce NOT#NEWS and DEADLINE is the root of the issue. The sourcing problem is a symptom of that inability. If we can figure out how to better enforce NOT#NEWS and DEADLINE, then the sourcing problem you describe resolves itself. Blueboar (talk) 16:03, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
Actually, I think the broadening political divide in the US and Western Europe is the root of the problem, but I agree that it's impacting WP due to editors trying to keep articles updated in real time, with brand new sources. And I see it from both political sides: the right keeps trying to counter WP's perceived bias, and the left keeps trying to counter the right, leading both to keep searching for RSes and adding them with new content the moment they go live. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 16:17, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
Agree on both points above, Blueboar nailing it that we have far too many people trying to edit in real time when many many of these articles need establishment of a long-term view. How we fix this short of enforcing full protection on such articles (a last resort) is a major question, but I suspect the issues around RS/POV would mostly resolve if all editors considered how an article should look in 5-10 years rather than tomorrow. --MASEM (t) 17:04, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
I'm not sure I agree that "reality has a well-known liberal bias", as MPants observed. The far left is just as divorced from reality as the far right. It's true that one needs only look to conservapedia to find a project whose goals are ostensibly similar to ours, but pushing a fact-free right wing worldview. For example, the article on dinosaurs notes that they were "created on day six of Creation". And I do not know of an equivalent project on the left, although presumably dinosaurs died off because small furry creatures controlled the means of production, and instigated Revolution against their reptilian imperialist overlords. There were many such bizarre theories promoted under Stalin. Far right apparatchiks seem to be attempting to push their sources into Wikipedia, and have been for quite some time, while I do not see a similar coordinated push from the far left. Marxism is correctly described as a pseudoscience, for example, but the article Austrian School tries very hard to give equal validity to the discredited economic school. Sławomir Biały (talk) 17:34, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
The far left is just as divorced from reality as the far right. No arguments here. But I think you're reading the quote a bit overly strictly. I'm not suggesting that the left is correct and the right is wrong, end of. Instead, what I've observed is that when people, regardless of political affiliation, give serious thought to political issues and problems without considering allegiances, they tend to converge on a group of answers which is a bit left of center. Indeed, all of the truly "apolitical" people I know tend to lean to the left just a bit. Even people with explicitly conservative views seem to acknowledge this on some level: search Facebook for people who, in their political description give some variation on "socially liberal, fiscally conservative". You will find tons of them, from all over. In fact, it's one of the most common descriptions I've seen (behind the usual suspects, like the two major parties and variations on "centrist" or "independent"), and I've had to engage in Facebook data mining on a professional level before. You have to travel to the extreme ends of the right-wing spectrum to even find people who openly embrace ideals such as ethnic nationalism, the condemnation of homosexuality and gender equality. Ideals which, you may note, were part of the mainstream conservative thought process until just a few decades ago. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 18:50, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
Except "socially liberal, fiscally conservative" discribes Libertarianism, which is neither left wing or right wing. I would be curious to hear the results if you (MjolnirPants) took The World's Smallest Political Quiz at [ https://www.libertarianism.com/Quiz ]. I am apolitical (yup, I really am) but if you held a gun to my head and forced me to pick a US president, I would have picked Sanders or Johnson. --Guy Macon (talk) 19:52, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
"Serious thought" here is a double edged concept. It's well known on the right that so-called informed opinions are actually shaped by a combination of crypto-Marxists and islamofascists. Your serious thoughts are not your own, but rather are shaped by leftist institutions. Sławomir Biały (talk) 19:40, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
I will just leave this here... [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE3j_RHkqJc ] --Guy Macon (talk) 19:52, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
(In response to this commentby Guy Macon.)Except "socially liberal, fiscally conservative" discribes Libertarianism, which is neither left wing or right wing. I'd say it's an ideology that has both right and left wing elements. But, in practice, most people who describe themselves in that way aren't actually Libertarian. They have this "line" of ethics, past which they support moral laws (prohibitions on drugs, prostitution, etc), something which is pretty much antithetical to libertarians of either bent. They also tend to support social institutions and globalism (the last is kind of hit-or-miss with Libertarians, in my experience, but I've never met an honest Libertarian who liked Medicare). Hell, a lot of self-described libertarians I know aren't very libertarian. They're just liberals who like to pay lip service to the ideas of small government. And truly, a lot of self-described liberals I know occasionally gush about how awesome a flat tax would be (until I point out that they usually have a few thousand more refundable tax credits than they owe in taxes every year).
I took your quiz, as you asked. It said I was a liberal, with 70 on the personal axis and 20 on the economic axis. Is that what you were expecting? To be fair, I tend to edge towards libertarianism (my Facebook political views are "Half liberal, half libertarian") in more nuanced and in-depth surveys. I once convinced a Statist Liberal that private ownership of nuclear weapons would be a net positive. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 20:41, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
the same path that the Daily Mail followed Actually the problem is that Wikipedia is slipping the same slope as the "wing" sources following the Daily Mail, and the mainstream too. The slope is to allow journalists turning into pundits interpreting facts rather than reporting it. I remember in earlier times in Wikipedia I had to revert twice a day ledes of bios of Hitler and Stalin where everybody wanted to make the first sentence like "Stalin (1897-1954) was a bloody ruthless dictator of Russia" or something. Now people seem to give up, Stalin being long dead. But for the events of today it is close to impossible to squeeze judgmentalism in opinionation out of articles not today's topics. The "wings" may be reporting facts "truthfully", but they manipulate them by taking out of context, putting into biased wording, and surround them with the commentary serving an agenda. Staszek Lem (talk) 16:56, 21 March 2017 (UTC)

I've always found bias in Wikipedia article to be the most harmful when it degrades the informativeness of the article. I.E deliberately obfuscating the topic, significant omissions for political purposes, gaming in misleading wording, all usually done by using Wikipedia policies and guidelines contrary to their intent. And they are vulnerable to such mis-use. North8000 (talk) 17:20, 21 March 2017 (UTC)

Guy Macon, you are missing the point. People from across the political spectrum can publish fake news, but none of those sources pass rs. A reliable source hires professional editors and journalists and has oversight over the accuracy of stories, including publishing retractions when they are wrong. Typically, except for local news outlets, that requires substantial investment and a large audience. The only news media that do that just happen to range in political orientation from center to center-right, i.e., from outlets such as CNN and MSNBC to the Wall Street Journal and Fox News. Left-wingers and right-wingers (i.e., to the left of MSNBC or to the right of Fox News) mostly have not provided the resources to establish a reliable news network. Instead, they provide commentary, which analyses the news rather than provide news coverage. Can you name any right-wing media that you think are unfairly excluded or any left-wing media that are wrongly included? And so that you do not think I am biased, I voted against the Daily Mail ban, because it is no less reliable than comparable newspapers.

And consider my example from the National Review. It quoted an article in a reliable source and added commentary. Why should we use it as a source?

TFD (talk) 19:45, 21 March 2017 (UTC)

In case anyone just emerged from a coma and didn't hear about The Daily Mail kerfuffle, see WP:DAILYMAILRFC. I will leave it to the reader to decide whether it is "no less reliable than comparable newspapers". --Guy Macon (talk) 20:01, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
The "centralist" sources (spanning the gambit from CNN/MSNBC to WSJ/Fox) also engage in news analysis (it just doesn't happen at the ends), which normally is fine when they are marked as analysis or op-ed pieces, so that inclusion on WP will include these as opinions with attributions. What is the problem in the modern media environment is that due to shrinking media budgets and competition from citizen journalists, the previously-existing bright line between news reports and news analysis/opinion no longer exists in most of these outlets; "A reliable source hires professional editors and journalists and has oversight over the accuracy of stories, including publishing retractions when they are wrong." is drifting away from the reality of the situation, even though this is still a metric we want to use. So we get "news reports" that are really news analysis filled with personal and subjective comments from the journalists. However, because they are not clearly marked as such, editors will incorporate those materials as fact going "it's from an RS, it must be true!" This is part of what made the Daily Mail unusable was sensationalist news, making distinguishing facts from opinion hard to do. It's also where many other sources are heading towards, albeit much more slowly and several years trailing the DM and other right-wing sources like Breitbart. We need editors, if they are going to be including day-to-day news coverage, to be fully aware how to distinguish from commentary and fact in such articles, and how POV policy applies to those. --MASEM (t) 20:25, 21 March 2017 (UTC)

One key initial claim was that "reliable sources" had employees who check articles for "facts" before the articles are published. Such sources are now pretty much non-existent, so we settle for "well they do publish corrections." The issue is that "they issue corrections" is a pretty thin basis for asserting that any source at all is "reliable" in the first place.

So what we end up with, all too often, has nothing at all to do with "actual accuracy" but with "perceived political/social/scientific correctness" which is a tad tenuous at best. Thus the "XYS is too right-wing" etc. as an argument, or "QRS does not toe the truth as seen by TUV group", or even "WZX does not agree with the majority of other sources as approved by Wikipedia." The Walrusian Time has finally arrived, I suggest. Suggestians? Collect (talk) 13:28, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

In addition to better enforcing NOTNEWS, DEADLINE, and RECENTISM per Blueboar above, we need editors to recognize that scrutinizing what established RSes say or report is completely within scope as part of WP editorial consensus. A lot of this stuff with the media is based principally on combined observation, and there ar editors that demand we show sources to show the deterioration of the media before they accept it as true. Of course, the media is not going to report on its own deterioration, and the sources that do are, guess what, treated as extreme non-RSes. As encyclopedia writers, we need to have the 60,000 ft view of the situation - not only on the topic of interest but how the media and the rest of the world reacts to the topic, to better understand what are the appropriate RSes to use for it and how to frame the topic in the context of NPOV. This is an area where RS combined with UNDUE can push out anything that doesn't fit a specific thread of thought that majority of the press are presenting. This doesn't require a major deviation from policy, simply more cautious writing in tone and presumptions of whether statements made by RSes are meant to be taken as fact or opinion. --MASEM (t) 13:49, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
No. Your feelings about how the Reliable Sources policy "mainstream" or "high quality" is so-different from 10 or 15 years ago when Wikipedia policies adopted those standards are, not to put too fine a point on it, bullshit/rumor/fakenews (take your pick), unless you actually do produce high quality academic studies (like literature reviews) to prove that. Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:09, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
You're self-demonstration my point about editor resistance here. And also on that same logic, the Daily Mail RFC, which had no academic basis to demonstrate their unreliability to our standards, should thus be overturned. In reality, we as editors working under consensus, where we already use our own perception and knowledge on judging the quality of RSes, can make the same determination about the state of the media today, since no one else anywhere does this type of analysis. --MASEM (t) 14:18, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
All the foundational policies, V/NOR/NPOV/BLP require "mainstream" or "high quality" , and "reputation for fact checking and accuracy" - as editors we do have to apply those (as in the DM matter), but no we cannot overturn those without changing policy. You are in effect arguing there is no such thing, as mainstream, high quality, or reputation for fact checking and accuracy, which if that is your belief, you just cannot work under our present policies. Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:30, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
There's no attempt to change what qualities we want in an RS. There are, however, two facets of how RS plays out with other policies that the trend in media changes (less objectivity) requires us to consider:
  1. Just because something is printed in an RS without an op-ed header does not make it undeniable fact. Most sources we deem default-reliable are still publishing appropriate articles that simply document facts without any attempt at analysis or opinion, and these are still valid. But because the line between opinion and news reporting has been disappearing, editors should not necessary assume that an article, published without an op-ed masthead, is necessarily an objective take. Editorial consensus needs to be able to evaluate articles on a case-by-case basis to determine if the article is engaging in subjective reporting or similar analysis, and if the material is deemed appropriate to include, to make sure YESPOV is followed with attribution to the author/work rather than reporting it as fact in WP's voice.
  2. If editors feel a topic needs current opinion from the media or others, (that is, ignoring the NOT#NEWS/DEADLINE/RECENTISM issue), then strictly limiting one's view to only what has been deemed RSes (applying UNDUE to this point) can create a false picture of the real world situation, particularly when the lack of objectivity is taken into account. If editors do opt to cover a topic ignoring RECENTIMS, then RSOPINION must be taken more seriously to consider opinions (and only opinions) from normally non-reliable sources that are appropriate authorities or experts on the topic at hand. And even if there are no contrary opinion in other usable sources and the opinion is unchallenged, we as editors still need to determine by consensus if it really is a fair claim to include given all other policies (for example, there is serious discussion to include Trump as an example at Demagogue).
There is no attempt to change what is an RS, only to recognize that RSes are not "the Bible", they can be infallible and unreliable at times, moreso lately due to lack of objectivity, and that other sources are not excluded from consideration when evaluating POV issues. --MASEM (t) 15:20, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
What is your actual academic articles proof for your belief that "high quality" and "mainstream" journalism is "more biased" than the in the early 2000s? Do you have the actual peer reviewed published proof that says that? Also, no one has ever thought RS are 'the Bible' (at least if they know current policy and guidelines). Alanscottwalker (talk) 19:56, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
We are not beholding to have such "proof" if consensus (which defines policy) agrees there's an issue. But there are works that talk about the changing of the type of journalism in the digital age with the advent of social media, eg: "Steensen, Steen, et al. "The Intimization of Journalism." The Handbook of Digital Journalism, edited by Tamara Witschge, CW Anderson, David Domingo, and Alfred Hermida (2016): 113-127." And unfortunately, I have seen many instances of people treating anything said by mainstream quality RSes as "fact", particularly in using labels at BLP/N. This happens all the time, but mostly as a result of people ignoring RECENTISM and trying to document what people think "now" rather than the long-term encyclopedic view. --MASEM (t) 20:07, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
You would not mention a new consensus, if you were not talking about changing policy. As for changing media, that is not proof that "mainstream" and "high quality" journalism is "more biased" or "less objective". "Social media", where it is even RS, is at best primary sourcing and is already deprecated by policy. Alanscottwalker (talk) 21:05, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
It's not about using social media at all. The academic sources that discuss the loss of objective reporting or growing use of subjective reporting in the media attribute this increase to several points, one being competition from social media and citizen journalists that can get the word out faster than traditional media can write articles, so as to keep their readership, the press have adopted more engaging articles which requires them to write from a more personal, subjective stance than objective. --MASEM (t) 21:20, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure the point of asking for proof was determining whether or not such a consensus has any chance of forming. Right now, it really doesn't seem like it does. Of course, if you had academic, peer-reviewed articles documenting an increasing polarization of mainstream media, and a correlated increase in factual errors and opinion pieces, you'd stand the chance of forming such a consensus. Personally, the way I see it is a purely pragmatic one: Unless and until something which is less beholden to the whims of Wikipedians and more accurate (both are necessary, as a proposal which depends a great deal more on our judgement might be more accurate in the short term, but is inevitably going to be more susceptible to gaming), I think we should stick with the P&G's we have. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 21:07, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
The two points above do not require any change to P&G, but simply require all P&G to be used in the right amount of balance. Whereas right now, RS + UNDUE is a sledgehammer to force the mainstream view and eliminate any counter-views into political or ideaological topics of ongoing concern, but when NOR + NPOV are taken as a whole, that approach really is not appropriate. But this all stems from editors ignoring RECENTISM and NOT#NEWS as well, another existing P&G area that is routinely absent from these discussions. --MASEM (t) 21:20, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
Correction: RS + UNDUE are a sledgehammer to force the mainstream view and diminish and downplay any contrary views in such topics. And that is as it should be. There's a reason the mainstream view is mainstream. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 15:39, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
Not universally true, this is where RECENTISM comes into play. If we are talking some events from 20 years ago or more, then absolutely we should use the current weight in RSes to document how that event is seen now, with all the hindsight needed to give it context, and eliminate fringe viewpoints (eg the conspiracy theories around JFK's assassination or if the moon landing was faked.) But in a current controversy, where we have no idea whom is "right" because we have no historical hindsight, we have to be very careful of letting a predominate opinion echoed in RSes that distances contrary opinions overwhelm the topic. We need to document the controversy, and lay out at least the facts (even if it is the "he said, she said" accusations) in a reasonable balance, before then considering the outside opinions on the matter. In 20 years, most of those outside opinions really won't matter relative to the core facts of the controversy, which is why RECENTISM becomes very important to avoid this type of situation. --MASEM (t) 15:46, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
When "we have no idea", the individual user has to be careful not to force his own ignorance on WP articles: there are controversies where one side is obviously right, but it is only obvious to the knowledgeable. I think your categorization of historical vs. current is artificial: elapsing time does often not really decide the issue but only spreads the already existing knowledge to more people. Sometimes it does not even do that. --Hob Gadling (talk) 16:20, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
The key about the historical vs recent aspect, particularly with how much emotion there is present in current ongoing controversial topics, is that in 10-20 years, we should have a far less emotionally-driven view of the situation, even if we don't know who's "right", we can provide a better reflection of more rational thinking on the situation. We can't deny the adage that "history is written by the victors", but at least we should wait for that history to be written in some cases, rather than presuming one side is right. We should be treating most current political and ideological controversies without prejudging either side of the issue to whether they are right or not, excluding rare cases where there is a complete afront to common decent human morals (eg if one side is fully backing the mass genocide of a certain race, that's where different considerations are taken). --MASEM (t) 17:16, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
I'm still not seeing any problems with our current policy that aren't inherent problems to sourcing. The notion of using unreliable sources to help inform the decision as to whether a nominally reliable sources is, in fact, reliable for its use would not fix this, it would only make it worse. So while I'm not dismissing your concerns here, I really don't see what we could realistically do about them. This is why we have editors instead of bots: for us to use our judgement to try and minimize cases where nominally reliable sources are wrong. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 17:30, 23 March 2017 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── It's not to try to disprove a normally RS to say they are wrong, but to have the ability to recognize when an article from a normally RS source is using subjective or personal opinion but not clearly marked as an op-ed piece, to avoid treating the statements made as fact, particularly when the article is on a currently ongoing debate or controversy in the realm of politics or ideological differences. A prime example of the situation is highlighted above where editors want to support inclusion of Trump in Demagogue as a fact because there are plenty of "non op-ed" pieces from RSes that support it such as [2] or [3]. That's a clear violation of RECENTISM, yet editors seem to ignore that because these look like factual articles due to the lack of an op-ed header, but any common sense clearly identifies them as opinion pieces due to tone and language. These articles are completely fair as opinions, and they can be used with attribution elsewhere. And maybe in time, in 2040, we'll look back as a society and that would make sense to include then, but right now, editors selectively use policy like RS and UNDUE to force this type of information into WP far too prematurely. (And I should clarify, I do not support Trump in any manner, just that a good majority of the situation is around how WP treats anything related to Trump and those topics associated with him). --MASEM (t) 17:43, 23 March 2017 (UTC)

I understand what you're getting at, but I see a problem with all the possible solutions. Either we rely on non-reliable sources to help us differentiate between opinions and facts (which is pretty obviously a bad idea), or we use our own views and opinions. The latter may not be as obviously bad, but I assure you that it's far worse. There are Wikipedians insisting that calling false claims false is a "value judgement", for example, and this is extremely common. There are Wikipedians insisting that Breitbart is more reliable than the New York Times, unapologetically and emphatically, and their reasoning is that Breitbart supported Trump, and Trump won the election. There are Wikipedians arguing hard solipsism! If we as a group can't be trusted to even differentiate between claims of fact and opinions, then how the hell can we ever hope to weed out the opinions from the claims of fact? And you might claim that most of us don't do this, and I would agree. But anything which gives power to the minority among us who think their own opinions override what reliable sources say is a very bad thing for this project. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 22:22, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
I strongly disagree that we, both as individual editors and as a group cannot make that distinction between when a news article from an RS is performing straight-up news reporting without analysis, and when they are doing analysis or opining, as long as editors drop any personal bias as they are supposed to do when editing on WP. Unfortunately, too many of these areas on ongoing, emotionally-driven controversial topics are populated by editors that exhibit strong biases (both supporting mainstream views, and supporting the extreme minority view) that makes a sane conversation on this determination nearly impossible. This all goes back to RECENTISM and NOT#NEWS that WP should not be in this venue of trying capture the POVs of an ongoing controversies, only documenting their facts, and should instead look at the situation well after time has passed, where emotions both in reporting and in WP editing are no longer there, to make that summary judgment of how to describe the public opinion on the matter. If editors are going to ignore RECENTISM and summarize current and ongoing public opinion on a heated topic, then there needs to be an stronger evaluation of sources to make sure editors are not letting their own bias get in the way of seeing the differences between objective and subjective reporting. I am fully aware of the fringe minority issues you describe and agree we don't want those editors to keep trying to force facts from these non-RSes into places, but realistically it is easier to fight that fire with rational, unbiased discussion about an article's approach than with an emotionally-driven bias and shutting discussion down completely. --MASEM (t) 23:10, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
"as long as editors drop any personal bias" - This does not make sense. How can one "drop any personal bias"? I am convinced that the earth is round, that evolution has happened, that climate change is man-made, and that President Trump and his minions are incompetent in many areas, especially when scientific questions are involved. I have good, solid reasons for all of those. So, when editing, which of those "biases" should I drop, if any?
The only way out of this is to say: reliable sources trump what editors think. The reliable source agree with me (or rather, I agree with them). So I don't have a problem. Only editors who disagree with RS have a problem with Wikipedia, but they will to live with that. --Hob Gadling (talk) 13:57, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
There's a separate issue here that came around from a different discussion and that's recognizing that there is a difference when it comes to topics like fringe science, alternative medicine, etc. and political and ideological debates. In the former, there is generally a means of doing objective research or other determine that follows scientific methods to come to a reasonably confident conclusion that the fringe science is unlikely, etc. (eg "The earth is flat"). That is, these are broadly accepted as "truth" or "correct" and thus we would expect editors to accept these as truths in how they approach editing (we would not tolerate people trying to put the earth is flat on various articles). When it comes to political or ideological aspects, there is no formal way to come to a conclusion, as much of this is trying to make assessments about what a person or people are thinking, and that's impossible to capture; we can only judge actions. As such, there is no "truth"/"correct" position as there is in the scientific field, nor should we act like there is such a position. In those areas, that's where I would expect editors to recognize their bias towards or against a position and put that aside in necessary discussions and editing. You're free to express your bias, but not being able to see through that personal bias is where most discussions then start to break down. --MASEM (t) 14:17, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
but realistically it is easier to fight that fire with rational, unbiased discussion about an article's approach than with an emotionally-driven bias and shutting discussion down completely. So WP:IRS is, as it currently stands (which I've made quite clear is exactly what I'm defending) is an "...emotionally-driven bias..." which "...shut[s] discussion down completely"? Your implicit proposals is that we permit highly biased, unreliable sources to be used to gauge the validity of less-biased, more reliable sources. I contend without reservation that this proposal would introduce far more emotion and bias into the equation, and shut down far more discussions. After all, it means we have to judge the validity of the opinions of the relatively small number of people who work in climate science by the relatively large number of pundits who disagree with them, at least in part. And that's just ridiculous. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 14:15, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
Your implicit proposals is that we permit highly biased, unreliable sources to be used to gauge the validity of less-biased, more reliable sources. No, that's not at all what I'm saying. I've been arguing that we as editors are competent enough to recognize that the media today, when discussing political and ideological issues, are very far removed from reporting objectively on these topics, and expressing the "news" as their opinions without clearly marking them as opinions. That doesn't change their RS nature, it doesn't change the core principle of RS that we should only include facts that originate from RS (we definitely should not be going to non-RS sources for factual inclusion), but it does affect how WP:NPOV and particularly WP:UNDUE should be handled, in light of WP:RECENTISM/WP:NOT. Take any nearly issue with Trump: it would not take long to compile a list of negative opinions about him from RSes, but expressing these as facts/not titled as an op-ed. I've yet to find one of these where it is easy to tell by the language used that it is written as an opinion piece and not a valid news piece. However, editors that also loathe Trump (which is fine: you're allowed to have your personal opinions) have been using these to push a lot of the anti-Trump opinion across the board. This is first something we're supposed to avoid in the first place with RECENTISM, as we have no idea how Trump will be seen after many years have passed from his Presidency. Yes, there are a few things about public perception that are unavoidable, like the Woman's March and the reaction to the immigration bills, but the stuff that I see added all the time are media opinions trying to sway public perception, which we absolutely should be avoiding per RECENTISM. And then these are added without considering that they are just opinions, and treated as fact. That goes against YESPOV. This is the only place where non-RSes come into play as per WP:RSOPINION, we're allowed to consider opinion statements from non-RSes for valid inclusion, weighed appropriate with UNDUE, if we're going to ignore RECENTISM. Otherwise, the situation is: we become an echo chamber for what the media has to say; that's how a strict interpretation of the policies would lead us. I know we're supposed to summarize what RSes say on a topic, and that makes perfect sense for something non-controversial or that has been done and over with for many years, but when it is part of an ongoing intense debate, it's rather difficult to be summarizing everything when the big picture is not yet know, and that's why we have RECENTISM, to avoid trying to be this detailed before we can really understand the larger situation. --MASEM (t) 14:31, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
Otherwise, the situation is: we become an echo chamber for what the media has to say; I fail to see how we could do anything else without putting our own biases into this, and I've not seen any arguments which are even remotely convincing that our biases are better than any other. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 14:36, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
For one, we could force RECENTISM adherence more closely and avoid including significant opinions on a controversial subject until the book is well and truly closed on the matter, limited ourselving to just documenting the major elements of the controversy while it is in progress, and not trying to determine who "won" it based on current media sources. This is probably the singlemost important step to take to defuse the situation. Second, as we are an open wiki, that means there will be a plethera of voices, spanning the spectrum, compared to any single media source which is likely going to have a narrower distribution. Consensus and discussion without forcing one's personal bias in the matter can do the job, but that also requires all editors to abide by that, from IPs to experienced admins. This has worked well in topics far less controversial, so there's no reason it can't work in these, just that editors have to be fully aware of how they may be letting a personal bias sway discussion. --MASEM (t) 15:17, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
For one, we could force RECENTISM adherence more closely and avoid including significant opinions on a controversial subject until the book is well and truly closed on the matter, limited ourselving to just documenting the major elements of the controversy while it is in progress, and not trying to determine who "won" it based on current media sources. That's already policy; so you're not proposing a change in policy but a change in mindset; something which you can only affect for one particular Wikipedian.
Second, as we are an open wiki, that means there will be a plethera of voices, spanning the spectrum, compared to any single media source which is likely going to have a narrower distribution. Guess what that sounds like to me. Not that I'm suggesting you're advocating OR, I'm just pointing out the impression that a sentence like this gives.
Consensus and discussion without forcing one's personal bias in the matter can do the job, but that also requires all editors to abide by that, from IPs to experienced admins. Again, I'm not seeing any proposed change to policy (in this; when I cut out the preceding sentence as I just did, it suggests a change but I'm not trying to cherry pick your arguments to put words in your mouth, so I'm not assuming you're actually making that claim). Your previous comments in this, in this thread and in the last (I believe it was at RSN but I'm not sure) suggest that you are proposing that we alter WP:RS such as to permit us to weigh and validate the claims of reliable sources by the claims of non-reliable sources, but every time I mention that, you disclaim it and instead, make comments like these, in which you suggest that it's a lack of enforcement of current policy which produces the problem you've seen.
I actually have another suggestion: I suggest that we accept that controversial subjects will have controversial talk pages, and that the consensus of reliable sources on these subjects won't be palatable to everyone. We can then stick with our current policy which, while failing to fully curb all the bickering, still produces good articles more often than not at the end of the day. I don't believe, for one second, that there exists any possible solution which would both preserve WP's neutrality and put an end to all the POV arguments going on here. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 15:34, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
Actually, while RECENTISM is based on policy, you'll note it is not listed as policy, which is why it tends to get ignored. Particularly in current controversies, this really needs to be put front and center to more people. We shouldn't be trying to be as current as editors want to be while a situation is still developing.
And yes, some of what I ask is "original research", but it is the same type of backend original research that we allow to develop the encyclopedia, such as determining what actually is a reliable source, or making the recent decision about the Daily Mail. We're making OR about how to summarize a topic, which is a necessary element of being a tertiary source. This is not bad OR by any means.
you are proposing that we alter WP:RS such as to permit us to weigh and validate the claims of reliable sources by the claims of non-reliable sources Again, nothing needs to be altered, just recognized that policy allows for this. If we are talking claims and opinions, then that means that if one is trying to evaluate UNDUE, they should consider all valid sources that meet RSOPINION, which is broader than the set of sources that are allowed if we were talking about strictly factual info. (keeping in mind, that doesn't mean every claim from an RSOPINION should be considered appropriate to include particularly if they edge on BLP violations) But editors frequently dismiss the set of sources that met RSOPINION and fail RS because, well, they fail RS. The other facet that is part of this is using the "acceptable" OR to take an article from an RS and judge whether is it objectively asserting facts, or if it is engaging in opinion but not clearly labeled as such, as to then judge how NPOV would apply (as documented per YESPOV). It is very easy that if you personally agree with the stance of a opinionated article, you're going to want to present that as fact; that's human nature, but that's what we need editors to work against. It doesn't mean the stated opinion can't be included, but it must be treated as opinion (attributed in prose and not in WP voice), and should be judged relative to all opinions from the set of RSOPINION sources, or considered omitted if we're still in the midst of a controversy per RECENTISM. All this is set by policy and guidelines, but these facets tend to get lost by the volume of editors just insisting we follow RS blindly. I fully realize that at some topics, "following RS blindly" is a necessary step to avoid junk science, fringe theories, and other nonsense from entering WP, but in the areas of politics and ideological topics, we need to be a lot more open minded as editors as what the full situation is to simply avoid being a mouthpiece for the Fourth Estate. --MASEM (t) 16:05, 28 March 2017 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Again, nothing needs to be altered, just recognized that policy allows for this. No. And to that I add, Hell No. (capitalization intended). We should never judge the quality of a New York Times news report by the vociferousness with which Breitbart calls them liars, nor should we humor editors who insist on doing so. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 17:39, 28 March 2017 (UTC)

I have not yet said anything about using non-RSes to disprove what an RS says, which I agree we should not do. I do however think editors are intelligent and competent enough to recognize the bigger picture of how the media sources (RS and not RS) in general are speaking to a topic, particularly if they are involved in a topic, to understand where there is controversy that may not be rigorously documented, and to consider if the situation is still developing before engaging in trying to document a topic fully. I also think editors can, without bias, recognize between objective and subjective reporting, and can figure out how to handle subjective statements with more care (eg as attributed claims rather than fact in WP's voice). It is the blind adherence to only sticking to what the RSes say and presuming they are always factually correct which creates the problem; policy and guideline is not that blind, but editors take a strict read of p/g to maintain this position. There's the other extreme of including every random blog which we clearly have to avoid, but nothing I've spoken to is about weakening how RSes are meant to be used per documented policy/guiideline, only to offset the selective interpretation of that. --MASEM (t) 17:59, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
I have not yet said anything about using non-RSes to disprove what an RS says, which I agree we should not do. That's not what I was suggesting. I said you seem to be saying that we use non-reliable sources to judge the neutrality of reliable sources. Breitbart regularly gets downright vitriolic about how "dishonest" the NYT is, and if we were to use it to evaluate a NYT source, we would inevitably conclude that the NYT source was chock full of bias and opinions and was useless for anything but the views of the author. And again: hell no. What Breitbart says should only matter when we're discussing what Breitbart says. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 18:57, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
It's not an issue of neutrality, but objectivity. Objectivity is one of those things that we can judge for ourselves as informed readers, not requiring any specific sources but just having knowledge of a topic at a 60,000 ft level; the lack of objectivity is one of those evidenced by tone and wording choices. Only once you have shown that RSes covering a topic are not reporting on it objectively, and determined through consensus what are opinions and claims rather than fact as outlined at WP:YESPOV, then you may want to turn to looking to RSOPINION-meeting sources to decide if there are reasonable counterpoints to those opinions in a current ongoing controversial topic, or keep in mind RECENTISM and avoid including the opinions altogether. --MASEM (t) 00:14, 29 March 2017 (UTC)
I do not share your trust in the wisdom of all the editors here. I know there are editors for whom some scientific facts are just opinions and claims, and it seems to me that those editors would profit from what you are suggesting. Again, climate change is a prime example. The crackpots doubting it are currently pretty active, some of them are in positions of power, and your RECENTISM seems to apply to them. The same is true for my other example above, evolution. --Hob Gadling (talk) 09:27, 29 March 2017 (UTC)
I agree with Hob completely. I've just recently interacted with an editor who insisted that "false" (used synonymously with "incorrect") is a value judgement, and accused me of playing semantic games when I pointed out how wrong this was. Any path forward which requires constant good judgement is doomed to failure the first time someone uses bad judgement. And this doesn't just apply to a minority of Wikipedians: Each and every one of us has made a really stupid choice at some point. Without exception. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 13:08, 29 March 2017 (UTC)
(Sorry to pick this up again much later, it dropped off my radar). To Hob's point, there is a very big difference between how to handle controversies in the areas of science and health, where there is scientific method-obtained objective studies to disprove points against the fringe views, and political/ideological aspects, where there is no way any objective study to determine the truth can be done, as you cannot directly measure human intentions (you can ascertain them from actions and words, but that's not the same as actually knowing what they are thinking, and depending on your goal that ascertainment can be subjective). That's why this concept is meant to be apply to the political/ideological topics that would fall within RECENTISM, rather than something like global warming which is far far far outside that and has a body of study to demonstrate that.
As for good or bad judgement, that's the point of consensus discussion; the problem is that editors who wear their personal POV on their sleeve often do not consider their judgement as "bad" or do not leave room to consider other people's judgement as "good". I don't know if that false vs incorrect is over Pizzagate but I know that came up there before, and that's the type of case where editors who feel very strongly for left-leaning (or more likely, very much have strong feelings against the far right) seem to be letting that POV override good judgement. "False" can mean "incorrect", but it also has a meaning that implies lying or deceit (a type of purposely malicious action). It doesn't have to be that, when used in the right context, such as talking about boolean variables or psychological aspects like false memories, but these contexts make it clear we're talking about "incorrect" meaning. When used in the context of a political/idealogical controversy like Pizzagate without further context, it gives a tone that attacks those that made the allegations as they were purposely being deceitful. Maybe they were, maybe they weren't but again, we can't ever prove intent objectively (or without the ruling of a court). It's why it is a poorly selected word for a neutral work. Yet, the mass media use the word at large to describe it, so these editors think there's no problem using that word. We as editors can be intelligent enough to recognize that the media themselves have clearly expressed detest for the sites that propagated the claim, and thus using "false" over other more impartial terms falls right in line with the media's stance. So despite the large number of sources calling Pizzagate as "false", we need to be more impartial in tone, as well as considering how RECENTISM applies here (knowing the short term bigger picture). Now maybe in 20 years, we can recosider the word if that is how writers of the time refer to that event, since RECENTISM no longer applies, but if we're going to be breaking NOT#NEWS and writing on short-term events, we absolutely have to be aware of the environment of those reporting, and that can be done by WP editors as long as they are putting their personal biases away in the consensus discussions. It's doesn't make it any easier, and could lead to more prolonged, but less disruptive, discussions prior to including material that includes strong opinions on a breaking news topic. --MASEM (t) 14:27, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
Either a pizzeria does have a basement, or it doesn't. Pretty easy to find out: grab a gun, go there, let them show you the basement.
No, some facts are just facts. Alternative facts are lies, and alternative fake news are probably true. The big lie can be recognized as such by contemporaries too. --Hob Gadling (talk) 19:48, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
This is not at all trying to say that Pizzagate is in any way truthful, but understanding that choice of language affects tone that can be used to enforce a non-neutral viewpoints. Too many editors that likely share the same POV/bias as mass media (eg to the left) are going to be dismissive of anything that seems contrary to what the mass media presents, even though we are not supposed to repeat that bias, but unfortunately, when such discussions like this issue on "false" vs "incorrect" in regards to conspiracy theories is always dismissed, it makes it impossible to actually address the core problem. --MASEM (t) 20:02, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
A quick addition: I do think there is a time and place we need to be dismissive of editors asserting counterclaims or trying to force a false balance; editors coming along and asserting that Pizzagate must be presented as true when no RS even comes close to offering it as such, absolutely we should not spend excessive time trying to entertain those claims. But I have found many many times (including on these pages) editors dismissive of issues with respect to impartiality, recentism, and other factors that do need more discussion, with the editors ignoring some RSes (including those that fall within RSOPINION) in favor of the majority view provided by RSes for topics related to current and active controversial topics. There are very subtle but important differences being arguing for false balance (which we can't do) and arguing for impartiality (which we are supposed to do), but these are routinely lumped together because both ideas seem to go against the mainstream view presented in RSes. --MASEM (t) 20:15, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
Often the answer is easier than people want it to be. When there are significant viewpoints on both sides of a statement, then the statement is merely an opinion and should be worded (with attribution etc.) as such. And it doesn't matter what credentials the "source" has, for that statement they are just a primary source on their own opinion on the topic, not secondary source coverage of the topic. But people don't want it to be that simple, because that would work against their use of wiki-lawyering to POV an article. North8000 (talk) 21:46, 5 April 2017 (UTC)


The checklist[edit]

There's a fairly simple checklist we have when assessing whether something is considered default-reliable versus default-unreliable. It has to meet all of the following criteria:

  • Expertise, in the form of credentialled writers and a robust procedures defining who gets to write for them.
  • Credible editorial oversight and independence (i.e. not "fact-washing").
  • A reputation for commitment to accuracy, including fact-checking prior to publication and correction or retraction of erroneous articles.

The last is what failed with the Daily Mail. Guy (Help!) 14:32, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

The checklist for "POV-pushing" vs. "including important point of views"[edit]

The above checklist is OK for checking against reporting of facts. However reporting of opinions is more tricky. While all the above is applicable, I would suggest to add one more rule, similar to our concept of WP:!vote:

  • We add an opinion, if the person cited provides compelling reasons which have led them to this opinion.

Rationale: a "bare opinion" is more a statement about the person cited (about their views), rather than about the subject at hand. For an encyclopedia it is more important to see the facts which have led an expert to that opinion. It is easier to dismiss an opinion rather than facts. Compare which of the two texts are more credible:

  • "Putin wants to restore Russia's domination"
  • "Putin tries to restore Russia's domination: he grabbed Crimea, split Georgia, meddles with Ukraine, acts in Syria. Putin says "Make Russia great again".

Clearly, the first one, taken in an isolation, is easily dismissable: "Of course American hawks they say so because they hate Putin". Staszek Lem (talk) 20:32, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

Request to remove Bleacher Report as a source[edit]

Checking through searching "Everything" on the Wiki search for "Bleacher Report" shows there are thousands of articles using it as a primary source. It should never be used. It is a content farm based solely on SEO optimization and pushing controversial opinions for viewership, and should not be considered a source if Wiki wants to be reliable for sports information. Warshington (talk) 06:25, 25 March 2017 (UTC)

Defining reliability of a medium via the trust on the medium among its readers[edit]

The proposal is rejected as most participants in the discussion, for one reason or another, don't seem to think that "the suggestion would benefit Wikipedia".

I would have given the discussion somewhat more time: this relatively early close was prompted by the OP suggesting, after two days, that this might be about the time when we start "considering editing the page", instead of picking up on the signals given by other editors that this appears to be heading nowhere in terms of a guideline update. --Francis Schonken (talk) 13:28, 8 April 2017 (UTC)

PS: recommended further reading: WP:PERENNIAL#Define reliable sources. --Francis Schonken (talk) 13:43, 8 April 2017 (UTC)

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

Hi all, I'm new here and writing with background of journalistic studies. Mass media is commonly used as a reliable source in several Wikipedia article and referred as "a reliable source". I'd like to suggest adding the following into the definition of reliable sources:

When citing a medium as a reliable source, there should be an independent study or poll supporting the reliability of that medium. For example a poll showing more than 50% trust among the readers would support the reliability, and in the opposite less than 50% would support unreliability. This should not be taken as a requirement, as such information is not available for all the mediums, but for those who have it's a good rule of thumb when defining the reliability. This rule of thumb should not be used for defining a reliability of a single article published in any medium as any article might be reliable despite the trust on the medium in general. However, reliability of a medium shouldn't be founded solely on trust among readers as there are areas, times and circumstances where/when mediums are used for propaganda or for other purposes. Please also refer to other methods identifying reliable sources. The reliability of a single article should always be handled separately considering the concept, but more focus on reliability should be addressed especially when using articles in mediums having low public trust among their readers. When a reliability on a medium(s) plays important role in a Wikipedia article, and especially when using article(s) of medium(s) carrying low public trust, it's a good practice to reason the use of such medium and when possible, link readers to a recent study or poll on the reliability of the medium.

EDITS IN THE ABOVE SUGGESTION:

1. After comment by Hob Gadling, edited adding However, reliability of a medium shouldn't be founded solely on trust among readers as there are areas, times and circumstances where/when mediums are used for propaganda or for other purposes. Please also refer to other methods identifying reliable sources. Edit by 81.197.179.232 (talk) 11:32, 6 April 2017 (UTC)

DISCUSSION:

I think the above suggestion requires a discussion in advance both on it's usefulness, topic and the content itself. My goal here is to ensure good practices when referring to mediums as a source. Thanks for any opinions. 81.197.179.232 (talk) 13:48, 5 April 2017 (UTC)

I stopped reading after "When citing a medium as a reliable source, there should be an independent study or poll supporting the reliability of that medium." No writer searches for an independent study or poll every time the writer wants to cite a source. This idea is a non-starter. Jc3s5h (talk) 13:59, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
My suggestion does not require writer to do that. Please read through at least, and maybe suggest edits which would remove such an impression you got. 81.197.179.232 (talk) 14:24, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
By the criterion of whether the readers agree with the articles, Völkischer Beobachter and Pravda are reliable sources. --Hob Gadling (talk) 19:45, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
We use polls (at least among ourselves) to establish media reliability only when a dispute arises. Heck, even Pravda may be a reliable source when it says that "Khrushchev visited kolkhoz "Lenin's Glory". Staszek Lem (talk) 21:17, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
Thank you for bringing up this point of view. You refer to mediums in a country under dictatorship / communism, so we should also consider the reliability of such polls. I suggested an independent study or poll which includes this level of reliability check when needed, but it might not be enough (There actually might be trust among readers). An edit to my suggestion is in place. My suggestion is not supposed to drop any other method regarding reliability checks on mediums, like for example how a propaganda medium is currently handled as a source in Wikipedia, and the suggestion should not enable the use of such mediums any easier than the current practices are. Having these in mind, I've edited my suggestion by adding However, reliability of a medium shouldn't be founded solely on trust among readers as there are areas, times and circumstances where/when mediums are used for propaganda or for other purposes. Please also refer to other methods identifying reliable sources. Again thanks a lot, happy if you check if this edit covers the issue (and doesn't bring up any new issues). 81.197.179.232 (talk) 11:32, 6 April 2017 (UTC)
Actually, my two examples were intended not as constructive suggestions for improving the proposition but as counterexamples for destroying it. What you are suggesting is to use the fallacy of argumentum ad populum. People are fallible and easy to fool, in democracies as well as in dictatorships, and most of the time, in all countries, the majority holds several batshit crazy ideas with no connection to reality, often because media spread them. Sometimes the majority elects known liars and frauds into positions of power because of that. Truth and reliability are not, and should not be, determined by vote. --Hob Gadling (talk) 14:30, 6 April 2017 (UTC)
I don't mind if your goal is more destructive or constructive as long as it's well argued, which you again do. My counter argument: As long as gallups, polls or other measures of opinion are used to support scientific studies I can't find a reason why they should be disallowed when determining reliability of a medium. You also shared a valuable point re argumentum ad populum but I see that already taken care of with the latest edit. In the current form the reliability is not based solely on the fact that it is a widely popular thought and it does not disregard the importance of expertise, independence, accuracy and fact-checking, but instead adds to that list. 81.197.179.232 (talk) 18:41, 6 April 2017 (UTC)

English can be a confusing language... It took me a moment to realize that we were (once again) discussing news media, and not discussing the reliability of mediums. For a moment there, I thought the OP was asking us to search for polls to determine whether (for example) Theresa Caputo was more trusted than John Edward... or something like that. Blueboar (talk) 12:42, 6 April 2017 (UTC)

It can... a medium was a generally used term during my studies to cover any intermediate agency or a channel of communication like as a single instance in the field of media, definitely not limited to news. Do you think another term would be better to avoid confusion? 81.197.179.232 (talk) 18:41, 6 April 2017 (UTC)

How long time should we give for the discussion here before considering editing the page? (assuming the suggestion would benefit Wikipedia) 81.197.179.232 (talk) 12:59, 8 April 2017 (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.

Challenges to the closure should be taken to WP:AN (after contacting the closer, which has taken place), not WP:TO, per WP:CLOSE#Challenging other closures – Finnusertop (talkcontribs) 15:09, 10 April 2017 (UTC)

secondary source cite of primary source[edit]

For a case where a primary source x says “We conclude with y degree of certainty that z” where the primary source defines ‘y degree’ as being less than 100%, is a secondary source’ considered reliable when it specifically cites the primary source a statement of the form “<primary source x> concluded y” rather than qualifying that statement as the source did? Related: Are there degrees of reliability that pertain here? Humanengr (talk) 00:48, 18 April 2017 (UTC)

Issues like this frequently arise when one source cites another inaccurately. I don't think it has anything to with primary vs secondary. Zerotalk 00:56, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
Thx. So ignoring the primary vs secondary aspect, would the citing source be considered reliable if it cites 'inaccurately'? The answer seems an obvious 'no'; I'm just confirming re WP use of the term 'reliable'. Humanengr (talk) 01:03, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
Elaborating: RS:News organizations says "'News reporting' from well-established news outlets is generally considered to be reliable for statements of fact (though even the most reputable reporting sometimes contains errors)." Here the citing source is stating that another source "concluded z" without the qualifier. The issue is whether it should be considered 'reliable' when it is not 'accurate'. Humanengr (talk) 01:15, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
The problem is in deciding who gets to decide what is "inaccurate". For example, the usual standard in lots of inferential statistics is 95% confidence that a result is not random. But the results are often described as given - as a conclusion, that yes, something or other is as it is. But sometimes, depending on the research question and the data involved, the standard is 90%. Or 99%. So what's "inaccurate" here?
And here is the thing. Based on experience, I'd say that a lot of Wikipedians probably have some difficulty even with the whole "verifiability" part of sourcing - is it sourced or not? The last thing you want is this bunch running around trying to evaluate whether or not a source is being "accurate" or not. That way lies madness. And reddit. Basically that would just turn Wikipedia into another crappy internet discussion forum.Volunteer Marek (talk) 01:37, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
Re "depending on the research question and the data involved". Does that include consequence (say in terms of benefit or cost) of the decision? Humanengr (talk) 04:57, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
In theory, yes (Loss function). In practice, most often it really comes down to the quality of the data. But that's not a Wikipedia topic.Volunteer Marek (talk) 05:13, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
I'm asking whether you are saying that consequence should or should not be considered. The probability of an event is one thing; the consequence of an event is another. I am not asking about the quality of the data for either, only whether consequence should be considered. Humanengr (talk) 05:39, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
Are you asking about Wikipedia practice specifically, or just scholarly work in general? If latter, then yeah, "consequence of an event" is part of the loss function - look at that article.Volunteer Marek (talk) 18:09, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
Let's pick this up later after discussion below re 'secret' (beyond the Taleb issue). Humanengr (talk) 19:44, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
This is a hard question and I don't think there is a simple answer to it. Some points: (1) If both the sources are independently citable under the rules, you can cite them both to show the disagreement. However, you shouldn't write it as a story of how one source got it wrong (which would be a SYNTH violation). Just write that one source says A and another source says B. (2) Rules like NOR and V don't apply to talk pages, sources can be reliable for some things and not for others, and editors have the right to choose which items in "reliable sources" get into articles anyway. It is perfectly ok to argue on the talk page that a source made a mistake, using whatever evidence you can muster, and if a consensus forms that you are right you have decided that the source is not reliable for that fact. Zerotalk 01:52, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
I'm not sure what "independently citable" means (and don't see a mention of it in the RS article. Re "Just write that one source says A and another source says B.": that would result in, e.g.:

"<Name of 1ary source> concluded that y did z.[cite to 2ary source] <Name of 1ary source> "concluded with high confidence that y did z.[cite to 1ary source]"

Is that what you are recommending?Humanengr (talk) 12:22, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
"Independently citable" just means that each of the sources satisfies our citing rules (like WP:RS) on its own merits. As for how to cite both of them, not every problem has a solution which is both satisfying and elegant. One device you might think about is to put the secondary source's opinion in the main text, then in the footnote giving the full specs of the secondary source you can note that it cited the primary source which you then quote. It is perilously close to SYNTH, but maybe ok if you don't write that the secondary source made a mistake. Zerotalk 13:22, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
@Zero0000: Pls see discussion below with Jc3s5h wrt 2ary sources citing 1ary public summaries of their 'secret' investigations. Comments welcome. Humanengr (talk) 20:33, 23 April 2017 (UTC)

I should also add that in my experience on Wikipedia I've really only seen a few instances where a secondary, reliable, source really "got it wrong". 90 times out of a 100 it was the user who wanted to use primary rather than secondary, who either did not understand the primary source or was pretending not to understand it in order to push their POV. Out of the remaining 10% a good chunk just involved sources which used some ambiguous phrasing which could be easily misconstrued. The couple times where the source "got it wrong" it actually wasn't that hard to get consensus on talk not to use that particular source, or to write it in the way which makes it clear that something fishy is going on (for example, do it the way Zero0000 suggests).

Basically, if you think "source got it wrong" and others don't see it that way on the talk page, there's a pretty good chance that you're the one getting it wrong.Volunteer Marek (talk) 05:13, 18 April 2017 (UTC)

@Volunteer Marek: Pls see my response below to Jc3s5h re a narrower focus; will return to broader issues later. Comments welcome Humanengr (talk) 17:04, 23 April 2017 (UTC)

"We conclude with y degree of certainty that z" is a typical way to state a conclusion in a scientific journal. "Jones concluded z" or even just "z" may be a typical way to state a conclusion in a source aimed at a popular audience, or when addressing a technical audience in a briefer format. So it comes down to whether the author of the secondary source has the qualifications to make the jump from "Jones concluded with y degree of certainty that z" to "Jones concluded z". If the secondary author is a scholar in the field, I'd consider it reliable unless there are other reliable sources contradicting the statement. If it's a general-interest reporter writing a newspaper article about a technical subject, I wouldn't be so sure the secondary source is reliable for the statement about z. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:44, 18 April 2017 (UTC)

@Jc3s5h: Thx. In science, experiments are repeatable (more so in physics, less so in other disciplines), so there is a possibility that a 2ary author -might- have some relevant experience and -might- be qualified. But in, say, writing about a public summary release of a secret investigation by a government agency, the 2ary author has no basis on which to make a judgment of the 1ary source designation of confidence. Any change from the designation given by the 1ary source -- e.g., "with high confidence" is a biased distortion. Humanengr (talk) 19:34, 20 April 2017 (UTC)
I must disagree. Making use of the conclusions of the primary source requires readers to transform the statement to different wording or action. A technical reporter writing for a lay audience writes "Jones concluded z." An engineer writing a test spec translates "a properly functioning circuit will have an output voltage that is normally distributed with mean 1.0 V and σ 0.01 V" to a program that shunts any part with an output voltage >1.03 V or < than 0.97 V into the trash bin. A patient translates a probabilistic statement about the risk of a surgery into a decision to have the surgery. Making use of a statement involving probabilities involves transforming the statement into a useful form for the situation. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:26, 20 April 2017 (UTC)
Agree that 'use' and 'decision' are key. Are you familiar with Taleb? Humanengr (talk) 21:53, 20 April 2017 (UTC)
No. Jc3s5h (talk) 23:17, 20 April 2017 (UTC)
@Jc3s5h: Taleb's proofs of errors in "traditional treatment of probability distributions" have radically changed decision-making but I can leave that aside for now.
Not really. Taleb's audience is mostly the semi-educated who wish to seem smart without putting in the work. He's basically saying the same shit that's been known for years just dressing it up in new phraseology and pretending it's original. The loss function (multiplying consequences by their probabilities and basing decisions on that) has been around for a couple centuries implicitly and explicitly for almost a full century.Volunteer Marek (talk) 18:12, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
(by "semi-educated" I mean people with a Masters or a Bachelors degree, depending on the discipline ;) )Volunteer Marek (talk) 18:18, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
I don't want to pursue this now except to say that's not even wrong. But I'd welcome comments below re 'secret'. Humanengr (talk) 02:07, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
Ok. But if you think that Taleb "proved" that there are errors in "traditional treatments of probability distributions" or that his stuff has "radically changed decision-making" (how would you know?) then, well, that's "not even wrong".Volunteer Marek (talk) 08:58, 25 April 2017 (UTC)
In your engineering and surgery examples, as in my physics, etc., examples, the data and methods have been made publicly available. In those cases, another party -might- have some basis for "transforming the statement into a useful form for the situation". But in the case of a secret report they do not have access to the data and methods and so have zero basis for "transforming the statement". Any change is a distortion. Humanengr (talk) 08:13, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
  • Responding to the OP - every policy and guideline says that we should rely on secondary sources, and I will add to that, that we should rely on high quality secondary sources. There are zillions of reasons for this. One reason to reach for high quality secondary sources is that their expert authors will gather up the underlying primary sources and contextualize them. It isn't our place as editors to peer review them. We should just summarize them. One of the ways that editors go wrong is that they grab low quality secondary sources that don't deal well with the material they are discussing; editors also go wrong by citing primary sources and interpreting them in various ways.
With the way the question is phrased, neither I nor anybody else can understand if the secondary source is high quality (a New York Times article, or a review in the NEJM) or low quality.
In general we defer to high quality secondary sources. 20:53, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
@Jytdog: I narrowed the discussion in my post immediately above (which basically repeats my 19:34, 20 April 2017 cmt). Can you respond specifically to the issue of 2ary sources citing 1ary public summaries of their 'secret' investigations? Humanengr (talk) 21:04, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
The question remains too vague to answer. You give no sense of whether the 2nd source is high quality of low. If it is Daily Mail-ish and it mischaracterizes the underlying source of course you don't use that. These kind of hand-wavy discussions are generally unproductive. It would be much better if you actually brought the sources you are concerned about. Jytdog (talk) 21:11, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
btw I looked at your editing history, and am guessing this is something about the Russian interference with US elections and what the US intelligence agencies found, how those findings were reported, and what other people think about those findings and of various reports of them. This is a morass where obvious political agendas are making editing more difficult than usual. Per the advice in WP:Controversial articles, concentrate on raising source quality and push away efforts to introduce content based on low quality sources. Jytdog (talk) 21:15, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
I have no problem in talking about the specifics; but the issue is broader. The issue is what is considered 'high quality'. You are correct that political agendas are of concern, and that is exactly what I am focusing on. I want to address this more generally but will note the particulars here (which include some confounding issues).
In this example, the 1ary source, the ODNI, provided a Jan 2017 public summary of their conclusions as "We have high confidence in these judgments." Obviously, as for all secret investigations, they did not publish their data or methods and so are not available for review and critique. The 2ary source cited for the lead sentence inexplicably refers not to the Jan report but to what it superseded -- a Oct 2016 'joint statement'. This results in a lede of "The United States Intelligence Community officially concluded that …" without the 'high confidence' qualification. The cite to the Jan 2017 report is postponed to the 2nd sentence. The discussion on the talk page has promoted the 'concluded that' language citing various later sources. But none of those later 2ary sources are cited in the lead para. So the controlling presentation to the reader is that the -current- assessment is 'concluded that'.
I hope those details provide context for what prompted my general concern, which I restate here eliminating the confounding issues in the example above: Assume, for sake of simplicity, that a 2ary source cites and rephrases the public summary given by 1ary source of their 'secret' investigation. The 1ary source, irrespective of any supposed stamp of 'quality' approval by the WP community or anywhere else, has no basis -- since the 'secret' nature of the investigation prohibits release of data or methods for critique -- for rephrasing the 1ary's statement of their conclusion -- except a political agenda or incompetence, both of which make the source extremely unreliable for any such statement.
This applies to all 2ary reports of secret investigations. Humanengr (talk) 22:16, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
I'm less convinced than before. The report defined three confidence levels then assigned the highest level to its main conclusion. It isn't a qualification that lowers the strength of the conclusion. It allows for a small possibility of being wrong, but so does "officially concluded" (as opposed to "determined beyond any doubt" for example). So in this case I think the secondary source's summary was not too bad. Zerotalk 02:01, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
Interesting then how all discussants opposed to changing the lede to (in your view) the stronger statement are those convinced the claims are undoubtedly true. Humanengr (talk) 02:34, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
Just FYI - people's strong views make it harder. Guessing at what people's views are and making comments about that in the midst of discussions, make things impossible. If you keep doing that you will end up topic-banned. WP:FOC. Jytdog (talk) 04:11, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
@Zero In your view, does "officially concluded" allow for different interpretations? Humanengr (talk) 09:32, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
The word "officially" can have different import depending on context. On its face it just means that the committee presented the report as a formal action, in which case it has no bearing on the certainty of the conclusions. However, authors sometimes attach the word "officially" to drop a hint that something might be hidden, i.e. that there could be an unofficial position that differs from the official one. I have no idea if that applies here. As for "concluded", that's what the committee did: they wrote "conclusions". All committee conclusions come with a level of certainty, though usually it isn't stated. Not saying that a level of certainty was attached, especially if it was the highest defined level, is not a sin if every reader should know that some level of (un)certainty is necessarily there. If you think that "officially concluded" means "proved" or "determined as a fact", you are simply mistaken; it does not mean that. Zerotalk 10:07, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
Do you think that the fraction of readers who read "officially concluded" as 'proved' or 'determined as a fact' is negligible? Humanengr (talk) 10:49, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
It is quite difficult to write a nontrivial sentence that nobody will misunderstand. So I don't see that you have point. Zerotalk
What advantage is gained by rephrasing the 1ary source? If both concluded 'with high confidence' and 'officially concluded' leave "a small possibility of being wrong", why rephrase except to distort? Humanengr (talk) 11:53, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
We are the readers of the secondary source; the author of the secondary source is the author. The author has broad discretion about how to write his or her work. If a reader invents a writing rule that the author has no knowledge of, and no obligation to pay any attention to, and the reader then dismisses the secondary source as a distortion, other Wikipedia editors are likely to believe that the writing rule was not invented in good faith, but rather, because the editor arguing for dismissal of the source is grasping at straws to exclude a source that disagrees with the dismissing editor's own views. Jc3s5h (talk) 12:49, 24 April 2017 (UTC)