Wikipedia talk:Reliable source examples

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I've added a header about statistical data and puched the advice about electronic sources down the page, it's probably more useful to talk about subjects, then use the online advice to close off. I've tried to make the electronic source stuff a little punchier and more readable.

We could do with slimmming down the various sections as they're quite verbose and text dense, not helping readability. I can have a hack at the science stuff but it's a bit US centric, I'll try to come up with some business related stuff, but that risks being UK centric. Someone with some knowledge could usefully hack the history and law sections.

ALR 19:55, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

I have modified the section on Patents because in its original form it presented inaccuracies and showed a biased viewCambering (talk) 02:40, 1 December 2014 (UTC)

This is excellent[edit]

I feel like this proposed guideline is excellent, especially the section on avoiding citing the popular press. I used this guideline to support a point I was making, but another editor shot it down, saying that since this is a proposed guideline it can't be used to judge the validity of evidence in an article. Is that the case? If so, any idea when it will become official? Thanks!TimidGuy 12:41, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

This was never intended to be a proposed guideline... it should be considered a sub-page of WP:RS (which is already a guideline). It was designed to assist the editor in interpreting that guideline as it relates to specific topic areas, by giving examples of things that are considered reliable and unreliable... hence the name... "Reliable sources/examples" Blueboar 13:38, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, Blueboar. I wonder if this will be lost with the merger of wp:rs into wp:att. TimidGuy 16:58, 16 February 2007 (UTC)


Why is this page labled inactive? WP:RS is still an active guideline, and this page is simply a subpage of that active guideline... designed to give examples as they relate to specific topic areas. It was never supposed to be a guideline on its own, but a further resource tied to WP:RS. Blueboar 13:22, 16 February 2007 (UTC)


The status of this - quite useful - page is unclear. I have added 'proposed' tag to confirm in the coming week this is acceptable extension of WP:RS by the community. Please also note that per my comments here and in places linked there, WP:ATT FAQ addresses some of the similiar issues, some form of merger could be considered.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  17:29, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

Removed the proposed tag. It's more useful for pages you would like to see marked {{rejected}}. ;-) Otherwise I'm fine with it... let's see, didn't we have a clarification tag? --Kim Bruning 18:12, 25 May 2007 (UTC)
Look at the history of this page and WP:RS: this subpage was created because the examples section of WP:RS was getting too big, along the lines of the recommendations in WP:SUMMARY. Anomie 19:10, 25 May 2007 (UTC)
I missed that, thanks. So I guess the big thing is now how to merge it with the above part of WP:ATTFAQ; the concern the same thing and should be found in one place, I think. As much controversy as ATT has caused, I don't think that particular section was disputed by anybody...-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  00:45, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

From RS[edit]

The following has been removed from main RS page, as there was no consensus on examples nor on their place in the main guideline. Please discuss them below and introduce to the main body if consensus is reached.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  13:21, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

  • Urban Dictionary, as anyone can add entries to it and they are not moderated or edited further;
  • Google search results should never be cited in articles; they may, however, be useful in discussions about articles, on the talk page, in a deletion debate or elsewhere;
  • The Bible, Koran, Tanach and similar holy books are not reliable sources on history or science but are reliable sources on their respective religion and related subjects;
  • Primary sources are very reliable when it comes to general information about the subject (e.g. where an organisation is seated), but not reliable at all when it comes to opinions (e.g. "it was an enormous hit"). Articles that rely solely on primary sources also require a secondary reliable source.
  • Apparently "scientific information" on commercial websites which are in fact advertisements, especially with medicines and related things ("pseudo-science");
  • IMDB for anything more than basic info, as, like wikis, it is user-created and edited (see also Wikipedia:IMDb for examples on where it is appropriate);
  • Personal web sites and blogs, social networking sites (such as MySpace), and discussion forums;
  • Usenet and IRC postings;
  • SparkNotes should be avoided, as more reliable and scholarly sources can usually be found.

Film credits on IMDb[edit]

"One exception being that film credits on IMDb, which are provided by the Writer's Guild of America, can be considered to be adequately reliable."

No. Absolutely not. The WGA does not provide film credits for non-American films and does not provide film credits for movies made before a certain date. Many earlier films especially don't have complete credits - some notable silent films have no credits at all!

It would be more accurate to say, "One exception being that film credits on IMDb from current United States films, which are provided by the Writer's Guild of America, can be considered to be adequately reliable. Credits on historic films (especially those released before 1945) and films produced outside the United States may not be complete or accurate." --Charlene 16:36, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

Book reviews[edit]

What about book reviews? The Jade Knight 07:37, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

Commercial vs non-commercial journals[edit]

I'm troubled by the sentence "In general, journals published by prominent scientific societies are of better quality than those produced by commercial publishers." It's not true in the fields that I'm familiar with, so I wonder what is the justification for this statement. Raymond Arritt 02:47, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Feel free to remove it, Raymond. There's a lot on this page that isn't right. By all means clean it up to whatever extent you'd like, though bear in mind that it's not a guideline, so it has no force anyway. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 06:19, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
OK, I'll clean it up a bit. In my experience most editors don't recognize the difference between a policy and a guideline, so it's best to keep the guidelines in shape. Raymond Arritt 14:23, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Sites that Copy Articles from Wiki[edit]

There are some websites that copy all the articles on Wikipedia and host them on their website. While it is obvious from the common sense clause in WP:RS that these would not be RS, I have come across editors who want to use these as RS. I think this article should explicitly add that these types of sites are not RS.----DarkTea 05:46, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Wayback Machine[edit]

I deleted the recently added reference to the Wayback Machine. It's a useful resource, but it didn't seem to serve the purpose of this article -- which, as I understand it, is intended to be instructive about reliability of sources.

Regarding the recently added items about PubMed:and PLoS; they may indeed be reliable but again I wonder if they're instructive. PLoS could be instructive as an example of peer-reviewed web content. Both seem wrongly located in this section on "Use of electronic or online sources". Seems like they could go in the science section. TimidGuy 16:06, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

Since no discussion or objection, I'll move PubMed and retain PLoS, but will add an instructive comment. Then will get feedback from DGG (MLS, Ph.D) whether he agrees PLoS is a good example. TimidGuy 16:17, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

I adjusted the wording a little to make clear that it applies only to material formally published in journals. PLoS is the best known, but I will add 1 or 2 more. I also revised the statement about PubMed, which is only an indexing service, not a guarantee of quality, and listed the traditional 4 top medical journals. I also revised the statement about quality of journals; Cell is more specialized than Science and Nature and needs to be listed differently.
Thanks for reminding me about this--I have some more things to think about. DGG (talk) 17:50, 12 August 2007 (UTC)
Thanks so much, DGG. I really appreciate your input on this. TimidGuy 19:19, 12 August 2007 (UTC)
Pubmed is certainly a scientific resource but it is also certainly on the web. I guess this is where you have to choose between categorisations? The wayback machine is source you want to reference if you'd like to cite certain revision of a website.
What I'm trying to do right now is find more and more examples of reliable online resources.--Kim Bruning 19:06, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, Kim. I don't think we want to try to create an extensive list of reliable online sources. Anything added here should be instructive regarding the reliability of a general category of online sources. TimidGuy 19:18, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
*Nod* if I wanted to make an exhaustive list, I'd just make a new wikipage. What's going on here is that there seems to be this bias towards treating all online sources as unreliable, which I think is not the most useful approach? --Kim Bruning 11:17, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes, there's a definite bias against online sources in Wikipedia guidelines and policies. This is because much web content is self-published, with no editorial oversight or peer review. I think the policies and guidelines do a fairly good job of explaining this stance and in articulating the kinds of online sources that are acceptable and in what contexts. TimidGuy 14:54, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
Of course, some network content is not reliable, so it's nice that we keep that out. Now here's some other network based content which is quite reliable, so it wouldn't be very nice if we kept that out, especially if we were to discard it in favor of less reliable sources. Inevitably, the quality and quantity of online sources has been rapidly improving over time, while the quality and quantity of traditional paper and broadcast sources has remained roughly the same (or may in fact have declined). Even if your claim is true, and in the unlikely event that current guidelines are absolutely perfect at this moment in time, I would still recommend keeping a close eye on this issue, so as to keep the guidelines in step as the rest of the world changes around us. --Kim Bruning 16:25, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
The current guidelines and policies make the mistake of tarnishing all "blogs" as unreliable sources. There is a huge difference between a self-published, personal blog (unreliable for most uses) and a "blog" that is actually an online magazine with professional writers and editorial staff. For certain topics, especially those in technology, many periodicals publish online only. Who'd needs paper, because it's just an unnecessary expense. Paper doesn't magically create truth. I think we need to fix WP:RS, WP:SPS and WP:V to remove bias against online media, and focus on the real issues. Does the source have editorial supervision? Is there fact checking? Does the source have a reputation for accuracy? - Jehochman Talk 03:15, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

What about biology?[edit]

According to the Wikipedia, biological sciences are not included in physical sciences. And, there is a desciption for "physical sciences, mathematics and medicine, but no biological sciences." Is there any intention for that?

Much of the content of that section also applies to biological sciences -- such as the examples of journals such as Cell, Science, and Nature. We could, I guess, alter the heading to include biological sciences. TimidGuy 19:22, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

Biological sciences are conventionally viewed as under life sciences, not under physical sciences, for the reason that it is primarily study of processes related to living organisms.

Nature and Science are not discipline-specific publications, but pan-science publications, so there is no distinction supported - they publish in many broad areas of science. Cell is a journal in the life sciences - it studies living organisms. Wikibearwithme (talk) 19:43, 18 November 2015 (UTC)


Sources vs. links[edit]

User:Tenebrae is claiming that due to this page, we shouldn't even link to other Wikis (eg, not providing a Wookieepedia link on a Star Wars character page). I and several others, meanwhile, say it's fine to put another Wiki in a link as part of an "External Links" section as long as you don't try and use it as an actual source. Who's right here? Thanos6 04:04, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

Please noted that the external Wiki we've been discussing, the Marvel Database Project, has been
  • removed as linkspam by many editors,
  • was the subject of lengthy discussion at the talk page of the MDP's creator (User talk:JamieHari#DC Database link at Batman), and
  • was placed throughout WikiProject Comics by that site creator self-promotionally to drive traffic to it.
Additionally, "Marvel Database Project" itself was twice considered non-notable as an article topic, and deleted per Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Marvel Database Project (second nomination). --Tenebrae 04:22, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
Does it matter who put something there? Just like a scientific fact remains a scientific fact regardless of who states it. Thanos6 04:28, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
It does matter, see WP:COI. I suggest you take the discussion to Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Comics. Anomie 13:11, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
Indeed it does matter - there are a couple of issues at work here - the big one being that the owner of the site can't link to it (that is really a rule with no wiggle room) and that wikis cannot be considered a reliable source. It is the latter which, I must assume, is the reason we are here and to force it through you'd need to overturn a rather large plank of policy and, as it would be a bad idea, I don't think it can fly. As the above comments suggest - this isn't really the place for such a broad ranging discussion. There is a section on the Comics Project talk page if you want to address the other issues. (Emperor 02:59, 2 September 2007 (UTC))

Popular press[edit]

I have been looking at the section "Science article in the popular press". It suggests that the academic literature is preferred over magazine sources. I have been thinking about updating the section to make it clear that books and articles written by a commentator can validly be used as sources on the views of that commentator (even views about science studies and science). Would anyone object to a change like that? I would like to know that such a change would fit with the consensus, given that this page is related to policy. Eiler7 23:19, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

If it's in an article about the commentator, that should already be covered by WP:SPS. If it's in an article about the science, it's not particularly often that the views of a particular commentator are relevant; when they are relevant the article will probably say something like "Joe Commentator states X" and the "permission" to cite the source that way would IMO be more appropriate added to WP:SPS rather than here. Anomie 02:58, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I want the article to say "Joe Commentator states X". However, at present, this policy page says that the academic literature is preferred. WP:NPOV says that all significant views should be covered. As it stands, this policy page allows people to object to certain views that are not sourced to the academic literature which is not, I believe, the way we should operate. To give some more context to my query, the commentator I have in mind is James Randi and he writes about alternative medicine. I think it can be legitimate to include his views despite not being in the academic literature. Eiler7 20:52, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
The page says academic literature is preferred for sourcing experimental results. A person's commentary on a scientific topic isn't experimental results. The only obstacles are whether James Randi's writings are relevant to the article's topic and the criteria in WP:SPS. Anomie 21:47, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
Well, this is a borderline case. Randi is claiming that a particular conclusion about TM is not true and pointing out that a replication attempt did not find it to be true. That seems like a significant viewpoint but it also relates directly to an experiment (the replication). I cannot tell from the current text whether Randi's view would be allowed or not. So I would like to update the text. Eiler7 11:57, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Still seems clear enough to me with existing policies. Your quote isn't being used to cite results as fact, it's stating what this one (biased?) guy believes. So unless you're trying to distort the context to make it sound like the guy is reporting established fact rather than his own views… Anomie 16:49, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Here [1] is the change I did. Could you look over it and comment? I will be changing it to say "Randi reported that an investigation by Royal College of Surgeons experiments had been" and other making other similar changes but the diff captures the essence of what I want to do. Eiler7 21:09, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
I see, you are trying to use the guy as a source for more than just his views on the matter. I also see issues with WP:WEIGHT and WP:CITE, and I suspect there is some weight to the claims on the talk page that more research has been done in the 25 years since that book has been written. Anomie 22:50, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
No, I am careful not to go beyond his views. All the text is essentially from his book. His view, as stated in the book, is that replications have been done and failed. As it stands, the casual reader might assume that the pro-TM research is all valid. I wish to add a skeptical view. If you have specific ideas on how to make it clear that all I am adding is Randi's view, I would be interested. Perhaps it would be sufficient to have something like "notable commentators have expressed doubts about the validity of pro-TM research, including James Randi" and make "James Randi" a wikilink. Eiler7 22:23, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Take it to the article's talk page. Anomie 02:34, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

Are newspapers reliable?[edit]

Are newspapers and other news sources reliable? Nurg (talk) 22:56, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

For what? Raymond Arritt (talk) 02:02, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
As a source of info for Wikipedia articles. Nurg (talk) 04:43, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
It depends -- on the subject matter of the article, the reliability of the newspaper, and so on. It's impossible to give a yes-or-no answer. Raymond Arritt (talk) 05:07, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
For example for history topic? --Ruziklan (talk) 13:01, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

Change in status[edit]

On the basis of ongoing conversations at WP:RS regarding the merger of guidelines, and following on a suggestion at the VP [2], I have Boldly changed this to an essay, which I think represents most closely the current actual status. DGG (talk) 00:30, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

The three-day discussion at the Village Pump by, I believe, just three editors, did not make any mention whatsoever of the propriety of allowing third-party wikia and blogs to be used as reference sources. The policy that one editor linked to, at Wikipedia:Verifiability#Reliable sources also did not.
I could find no place else, other than this page, that specifically disallows the use of third-party wikia, blogs, and other wildly inappropriate sources of reliable, credible, authoritative, factual reference. I'm not an admin like DCG, but please, please, let us not throw out the baby with the bathwater. We cannot not address the issue of third-party wikia, blogs, etc. as reliable references, can we? --Tenebrae (talk) 23:58, 23 December 2007 (UTC)
this has been discussed repeated in the RS noticeboard archives, and there seems to be no generally agreed rule, except they are not usually allowed, except for some exceptional situations where they are regarded as the customary and most reliable sources and supervised with editorial control. (By experience at AfD, this is accepted most frequently with respect to some computer and SF topics and only for certain particular well-known sources; the application to politics and pseudoscience is considerably more doubtful). The degree to which they are allowed is a matter that at this point has to be discussed case by case. I don't think we really have a basis yet for establishing a more solid guideline on this. Personally, my take is that this sort of source will become increasing the accepted means of communication even in the academic world, and we will have to come to terms with it. Admins do not set policy by the way, just try to enforce what the community agrees is policy. You have as much voice as me in trying to establish something. Possibly this could be a separate issue, but in practice i think we first need to discuss more individual cases at the noticeboard and AfD to figure out what we want to do. But I suggest that starting off by saying "wildly appropriate" sort of begs the issue--everyone will agree 100% that those that are inappropriate cannot be used. DGG (talk) 00:15, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
Appreciate the input and discussion. Anothmer user, User:Francis Schonken, has twice reverted without any discussion, and when I pointed him to this discussion, he said in an edit summary this discussion doesn't exist. ("Recent talk page discussion does not address 'essay' status")
I'm glad to hear it's non-controversial and everyone will agree 100% that third-party wikia,forum postings and blogs (except those of the subject him/herself) can't be used. Would it be possible for us to state this somewhere on a policy page?
The reason I ask is that a lot of people do insert them, and I've always been able to guide them here where they could read for themselves not to insert them. But now, I can't find anywhere in the policies that actually says this. Am I just missing where it is, or is there no longer a formal policy about blogs, forum, etc.? I need a knowledgeable editor's help on what to do now. Thanks for any.--Tenebrae (talk) 01:02, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
that's not what I said. I said is is non-controversial that those blogs etc "that are inappropriate" cannot be used In my view, and that of many others, some are appropriate, if they are the best sources available. Which ones are, and which aren't, does not in my opinion have consensus. I personally would accept a pretty wide range in some subjects, but I'm not sure everyone would. The reason there's no formal policy is in some part because we don't agree on one. DGG (talk) 06:03, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

Popular culture and fiction section[edit]

This section should demand the same high standards for scholarship as the other sections and direct editors to databases such as JSTOR and MLA. If those fail, then they can turn to reviews and DVD commentaries. However, we should not begin with the assumption that there is no scholarship on these topics (particularly "fiction"!). Some material I wrote up a while ago for the novel project that might be helpful here: Wikipedia:WikiProject Novels/Style guidelines#Major themes. Awadewit | talk 08:09, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Proposal for new sub section "Are search engines or mirrors reliable sources?"[edit]

At first glance this would seem self evident, but my recent discovery of the mirror used as an external link/ reference leads me to suggest it should noted here. I am fairly sure we have all seen at least one article with Google search results listed to support some argument or "fact" in the articles main space. I was rather surprised to find the entry was not already here.

"Are search engines or mirrors reliable sources?"
No, search engines and Mirrors can never be reliable sources per WP:SOURCES "Articles should rely on reliable, third-party published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy". A search engine or mirror has no control over the addition of content of the articles nor do they have the ability to gain a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy on content that they do not control.

I am sure there are many editors here who can and will improve on the wording I have suggested. Jeepday (talk) 22:38, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

the results of a search engine for a person's papers or similar matters can be a convenient source, but it really should have the key results copied over. The results of an appropriate search engine query can sometime document a numerical value, as the number of library holdings or the number of entries of a certain type in a database. And there are some bibliographic sources that for technical reasons cannot be cited in any other manner. Obviously great care must be used, so it will need some thought on the wording. DGG (talk) 00:18, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

Financial markets[edit]

re: Black Monday (January 2008). It's extremely debateable whether January 21 has any special significance in financial market history, or more to the point deserves an article in Wikipedia. Much of the problem comes from the sources, e.g. the Scotsman, Al Jezerah, AP via an Omaha TV station, a Toronto general (not financial) news commentator, etc. Sources like the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Economist never called it "Black Monday" or suggested it was a "melt-down" or any nonsense like that.

One thing I would like to make sure of is that, when a headline (such as "Black Monday") is not repeated in the text of the article, then I don't think it should be considered as being from a reliable source.

Would it be ok if I suggest a "Financial news" heading, with text stating that WSJ, FT, Economist, etc are considered to be reliable sources for financial news, but that Al Jezerah, Omaha TV, are not?

Smallbones (talk) 22:00, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

Reliability of Interviews[edit]

I have bit of a conundrum with an article deletion but I think there is a broader issue that I can't really get settled: Are interviews of a subject by a third-party reliable sources? Do they establish notability? My inclination is that as a source this is equivalent to a self-published work.

An interview is composed primarily of the words of the subject. They are not edited or reviewed by the interviewer. So if CNN airs an interview with John Smith, is what he say a reliable source? Is he notable for having been interviewed by CNN?

As opposed to journalist conducting an interview as research for an article, where they will corroborate information from other sources, fact check, and have others follow-up and fact-check.

In an interview, we hear it straight from the subject... does the reliability of the interviewer attach? --Marcinjeske (talk) 00:53, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

an interview in most news media is normally a collaborative creative work by the interviewer--the interviewer directs the conversation; the art is to direct it informatively and interesting, and the perversion of the art is to direct it misleadingly, and manoeuver the subject into expressing things otherwise than he really intends them. Some interviews, indeed, give the subject free play to expand at length, and just serve as a framework. I think that';s pretty rare in video media, and not that common in print either. DGG (talk) 03:55, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

Religious sources proposal[edit]

Proposing a section reliable sources for religious beliefs. Would welcome improvement and clarification.


Religious sources - In significant world religious denominations with organized academies or recognized theological experts in religious doctrine and scholarship, the proceedings of official religious bodies and the journals or publications of recognized and well-regarded religious academies and experts can be considered reliable sources for religious doctrine and views where such views represent significant viewpoints on an article subject. Ordination alone does not generally ensure religious expertise or reliability. Absent evidence of stature or a reputation for expertise in a leading, important religious denomination or community, the view of an individual minister or theologian is ordinarily not reliable for representing religious views.

The proposal would add clarity and prevent two extremes. On the one hand, we've had a perenniel problem of people referring to books, web sites, and pet doctrines of ministers etc. in religion articles without evidence of stature or reliability in a religious context. On the other hand, a number of editors have been interpreting the reliable sources guidelines, perhaps reinforced by a personal skepticism of religion, as implying that all religious sources should be considered self-published and that only secular academics can be considered reliable even for highly religious subjects, on grounds that because theologians rely on revelation and tradition rather than empirical investigation, they lack a reputation for checking facts and hence are inherently unreliable. The proposal attempts to implement a reasonable understanding of the spirit of WP:RS as representing sources regarded as reliable and authoratative within a community and for presenting a specific viewpoint. The intent is to limit what is permissable to only religious opinion that is documentably authoratative and where such opinion is appropriate and properly attributed. It also attempts to avoid the overuse of WP:RS to make what sometimes seems to be a de facto end run around WP:NPOV, explicitly permitting references to religious experts on matters of their own religious expertise. While many branches of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity have organized academies or theological bodies which have documentation enabling us to tell who is considered a recognized expert and who isn't, not all religions do. The proposal is intended to be limited to only those cases where such a determination is possible. It is also intended to be limited to only cases where the religious viewpoint itself is documentably significant (e.g. key denominations of major world relgions, on subjects where the religion's viewpoint is clearly relevant). A minor denomination shouldn't be able to bootstrap itself into having its views be considered significant by setting up a seminary journal or doctrinal committee any more than folks with a marginal science theory can become reliable or significant by setting up their own journal. The intent is to simply clarify existing policy and prevent misunderstandings rather than make a change. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 20:49, 13 July 2008 (UTC)

It would be important to clarify the fact this is only a clarification of application of an existing policy with regard to religious doctrine. Yes, the Abrahamic religions have well-organized schools, but they are also plagued with independently-run fringe groups that seek to push their own distorted views of established doctrines. For example, very few Christians would regard Bishop Shelby Spong as a reliable source when it comes to sound interpretation of Christian doctrine, even though he is an ordained minister at a major mainstream Christian denomination. Not that he's all wrong, but his ideas are too controversial. But in this regard, religion is not different than any other subject.
Where religion can be different with regard to sourcing is where editors are using the sacred text itself as an only source. That should be done only when there is no significant alternate interpretation, or when the stated fact for which the sacred text is used as a source is somewhat trivial. Interpretations of the sacred texts often vary from one scholar to another even within the same denomination, so, while using the sacred text itself should not be completely prohibited, it should be done carefully, as with all primary sources. --Blanchardb-MeMyEarsMyMouth-timed 21:56, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
The one other time the sacred text can be used is to say "The XXX version of the sacred text says in passage PPP 'quote directly from version'." Not as a source for the meaning of the passage, but as a source for the actual wording of that passage.
The Spong example is an excellent talk page example - he is well know, is writings are widely published, and he represents a fringe view for both his faith and even his denomination.
To take an article I'm preparing to rewrite; I've found three significant Christian viewpoints on the matter: 1) its really God moving (many charismatics/pentecostals), 2) its fake and heresy (heresy hunters/cult watchers), 3) ask us again in a few years after more evidence is in (probably the predominant viewpoint numerically, but not publishing much). Then there is a secular viewpoint to incorporate. In a significant world religion, there are likely to be multiple viewpoints that can be adequately sourced. GRBerry 22:56, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
Certainly agree that there are typically multiple significant views on religous matters even within denominations. Do you think the proposed language adequately reflects this or would you recommend a change in the wording to address it? Note that there can be multiple bases for considering a source, particularly someone with influence in multiple communities or someone who has one foot in religion and one foot in academia, journalism, etc. Bishop Shelby Spong may sometimes represent a significant viewpoint because of his stature in communities other than the Anglican Communion or the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (I express no opinion on this). The intention of the proposal isn't to enforce any sort of orthodoxy, but simply to ensure that a source has genuine stature in a relevant community and reflects a significant view, and isn't being included simply because a Wikipedia editor likes what he or she has to say. If the proposal doesn't adequately address this, I'd appreciate ways to improve it. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 00:43, 14 July 2008 (UTC)
As for the wording of the proposal, I would do a simple copyedit (views views → views). Other than that, I would keep the text as is. --Blanchardb-MeMyEarsMyMouth-timed 01:44, 14 July 2008 (UTC)
Typo removed. --Shirahadasha (talk) 02:37, 14 July 2008 (UTC)
Silence being an option, what should we do about the various newspapers, magazines, journals, other periodicals, et. cetera? Some are independent of the associated organization - e.g. United Church Observer. Some are coming from movements that have no overarching organization - e.g. Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies, Biblical Archaeology Review, Christianity Today, The Progressive Christian. Some are independent and/or intentionally non-denominational - e.g. Minnesota Christian Chronicle, Christian Observer (Anglican, but one of multiple Anglican viewpoints), Christianity Magazine, City Light News, or United Church Observer. Some are official publications of a denomination - e.g. War Cry. There are even movement/denominational wire services such as the Associated Baptist Press. Then there are broadcast media (radio and TV) with there additional issues. GRBerry 03:30, 14 July 2008 (UTC)
The proposal isn't intended to provide an exclusive definition of reliability covering all cases. Perhaps this could be clarified. I expect the question of the appropriateness of a journal as a source would be addressed by attempts to ascertain its circulation, reputation, and influence. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 06:30, 14 July 2008 (UTC)
I'm fine with silence on this point for now. GRBerry 03:38, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

I am concerned how a policy like this (which applies only to the "significant" religions per the wording) will bleed into and/or become (via practice) different from how we treat sources from "insignificant" theologies, such as New Thought (over 100 years old) or Neo-paganism (less than 50 years old, arguably). Will these "insignificant" or "minor" religions (I am sure their adherents would not choose those terms) be treated differently due to size or age? There is a risk that because these newer domains of religious knowledge do not have "well established" schools (also arguable in the case of the New Thought Unity School of Christianity) they may be relegated to the defacto status of a religion with no reliable academic primary sources.

Let me narrow this concern a bit by first asking the pointed question reguarding the phrase "recognized and well-regarded religious academies and experts" ... Recognized by WHO? Well-regarded by WHO? Low Sea (talk) 04:54, 14 July 2008 (UTC)

An inherent problem with a requirement of verification, a concept of "reliable" sources, and a policy requiring weighting based on a concept of significance is that such requirements inevitably favor established ideas and institutions over novel ones, and hence such a requirement imposes an inherent conservative/pro-mainstream bias. A very similar problem exists in science, business, music, and many other fields, where Wikipedia requirements quite regularly inhibit or diminish coverage of novel or little-known theories, companies, bands, etc. which may well have great promise and richly deserve to become established and receive fuller coverage. These difficulties, however, are difficulties inherent in the underlying Wikipedia policies (WP:V, WP:RS, WP:WEIGHT) themselves. The fact of the matter is, in every field of knowledge, Wikipedia's core policies have the effect of giving novel and obscure subjects and views less coverage than more popular or established ones. This proposal isn't intended to make things any better or worse on that score than they already were. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 06:03, 14 July 2008 (UTC)
Additional comment -- Perhaps it might be useful to explain what is meant by "significant" here. A religious subject only has to be notable to get an article, which requires independent coverage. The Unity Church may well meet these criteria. However, religious views are often relevant to other subjects including social issues such as Abortion and Capital punishment, topics in Philosophy, articles on the Bible and other scriptures, and many others. On topics like these, WP:WEIGHT says that only significant views get included in the article. These existing policies mean that the views of relatively small and new religions like Unity Church wouldn't necessarily be included in all the many other articles where religious views would be relevant (otherwise, these articles would be unmanageably long). This proposal isn't intended to address this issue, which is handled by WP:WEIGHT. The only question it attempts to address is this: in cases where religious views are relevant, what sources are appropriate to use to present them? Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 06:30, 14 July 2008 (UTC)
Proposal in general looks good. The one question which comes to mind is how much weight to give content presented from a religious viewpoint relative to content from a scientific/academic/whatever viewpoint when the two clearly disagree with each other and possibly even mutually exclusive, like some would argue is the case for Creationism and modern science. John Carter (talk) 19:48, 14 July 2008 (UTC)
Issues about due weight don't really affect this guideline. It's either a sufficiently reliable source for the given statement, or it's not. Whether and how to make the statement is a separate consideration. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:58, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

Primary and secondary sources[edit]

It's very good proposal. However, there is an issue which should be clarified. We have some problem for distinguishing primary and secondary sources. Some editors consider contemporary sources as secondary and old sources as primary. I think time is not a good criteria for this issue. We can consider the main theologians' works such as Thomas Aquinas, Al-Ghazali or Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī as secondary sources. In brief there are some books which are considered as the main sources of the religious issues in seminaries and among scholars of each denominations, these are not sacred or original sources but the most acceptable interpretation of those sources. --Seyyed(t-c) 03:12, 14 July 2008 (UTC)

I agree that this proposal is limited in scope and doesn't address this issue among others. Perhaps you might have a proposal that addresses it. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 06:30, 14 July 2008 (UTC)

I propose adding this sentences to the above proposal:

Secondary sources are not necessarily modern/contemporary ones, but every acceptable theological and religions sources among scholars of each denomination except original sacred ones can be consider as secondary sources. For Thomas Aquinas works are secondary sources to introduce Catholicism.

How about, as an alternative:

Secondary sources are not necessarily from recent years - or even centuries. The sacred or original text(s) of the religion will always be primary sources, but any other acceptable source may be a secondary source in some articles. For example, the works of Thomas Aquinas are secondary sources for a Roman Catholic perspective on many topics, but are primary sources for Thomas Aquinas or Summa Theologica.

GRBerry 03:37, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

Your proposal is better than mine.--Seyyed(t-c) 12:09, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

Added both proposals[edit]

Added both proposals to the project page. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 00:17, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

-- (talk) 23:47, 12 March 2015 (UTC)There remains a problem of edits by people of faith citing religious works as a historical source or perhaps naively mixing fact and scripture. Some of those edits could be attended by "according to xyz tradition" or a similar caveat. (I think it doesn't help that media acting out of respect use meaningful but subjective appellations such as "Prophet".) An example of what I mean:  :)

Government agencies[edit]

Can we presume that government agencies are RS? Presumably though some governments would be unRS at least on certain topics, due to national agendas, etc. But what is the criteria? - Keith D. Tyler 17:36, 5 August 2008 (UTC)


Are materials from recognized nonprofit organizations (e.g. Amnesty International, ACLU, human rights organizations, etc.) RS? What would make such a source unRS? What is the criteria? - Keith D. Tyler 17:36, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

Foreign language sources as references?[edit]

First of all, bear in mind my situation that I am currently working on getting the Croatia national football team a Featured Article. Extensive work has been put into it and I was thinking of nominating it again shortly. However, some of the sources (very few if it helps the cause) are written Croatian. It should be considered that the prime reason for this is because most English news sites (especially the major reliable ones) do not publish such stories which have been mentioned in the article. The Croatian sources are from highly reliable and established news sites from the Croatia, but I still think there may be dispute over their use (primarily when it comes to a Featured Article review again). I was wondering, how much will this diminish the chances of the article and what is the basic rules/reliability on foreign source references? Would really appreciate some help ASAP.

Thanks a lot! Domiy (talk) 04:45, 13 August 2008 (UTC)

It should not be a problem, although you might have to provide translations to reviewers. Newspapers do not become unreliable simply because they're not written in English. (Imagine a Croatian Wikipedia rejecting facts published in The New York Times simply because the source wasn't written in Croatian.) However, if there are facts that could be just as easily supported by an English reference, then please use those sources (or use those sources as well). WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:59, 13 August 2008 (UTC)
Problem: more authors in the pipeline - less accuracy (at best). Always check the downstream version against originals. NVO (talk) 00:08, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Essay unsourced for 2 entire years[edit]

26-Nov-2008: Yes, this essay, bemoaning the need for sources has had absolutely NONE for 2 entire years (created 28-Nov-2006). Yes, the essay has provided no citation footnotes, or even general references, for two total, complete, solid years. Meanwhile (for 2 years), the essay has cast judgments about the quality of various organizations as to being reliable sources. When I tagged a section of the article, 6 days ago, as needing references, as well as specifically "citation needed", that revision was totally reverted within hours. Congratulations, that has ensured that the article went 2 solid years without sources, while whining about the need for sources, and casting (unsourced) judgments about the reliability of other organizations. I'm sorry, it doesn't take an Einstein to see a problem here. So, why has this essay refused to follow the source-reference advice it pretends to support? -Wikid77 (talk) 05:07, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia essays, guidelines, and policies do not have to provide reliable sources to support their advice.
Besides, where the heck are you going to find a reliable source to support this essay's assertion that Wikipedia editors have made these recommendations about how to use certain reliable source? Or were you not aware that this, indeed, is the sort of source you'd have to find? We are not trying to verify facts here; it is not a question of whether this essay's advice is the One True™ Way of Research. It's just the advice from your fellow editors. If you can find a reliable off-Wikipedia source that proves that the contents of this essay are, in fact, the recommendations of your fellow editors, then do by all means share it with us.
The rest of us, in the meantime, have decided that the mere existence of the essay is pretty good proof that Wikipedia editors have recommended its advice to others. Sometimes the original, self-published source is the most authoritative proof of what was said. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:24, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

Reports and Publishings of Human Rights Organisations[edit]

Should the published reports of Human Rights Organisations or written under oath eyewitness statements taken by a lawyer published by a HR organisation for a case can be considered to use as reference in a wiki article or not. Kasaalan (talk) 16:15, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

Try posting your question to the page dedicated to answering such questions. Be sure to tell them exactly what the source is, which article you're editing, and what exactly you want to say. That will help you get a prompt answer. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:13, 12 December 2008 (UTC)


I am wondering what types of maps can be considered reliable sources and which cannot. Is there a policy/guideline somewhere that addresses this already? --Lasunncty (talk) 21:44, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

question on actors/actress appearnce in music videos[edit]

if some wants to or already added info on an actors/actress page about them being in a music vid and they are the male/female lead (love intrest )in the videos or just making a cameo in what if any Reliable sources can be provided to show that it's not just the users opinon but an implied in how the video was flimed that the actor or actress is the love interest? how can you provide Reliable sources for that? (Inferno17 (talk) 23:53, 3 July 2009 (UTC)).

History section[edit]

Since page creation, the History section has been unrevised. I intend to revise it. Fifelfoo (talk) 11:54, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

I located and notified the original author of the History section User:Rjensen, the current History project B-class criteria point to: Wikipedia:MILMOS#SOURCES. (Which is very good.) MILMOS#SOURCES doesn't deal with lesser cases, primaries, tertiaries, etc. very well. Fifelfoo (talk) 12:19, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

"$Open_Source_project must be deleted, because there aren't any reliable sources" -- WHAT?[edit]

We're getting to the point that not only are wiki's considered unreliable by wikipedia, but now open source projects are being deleted, even though F/L/OSS is one of our world's most progressive cultures of transparency and openness. Wikipedia, as one of the world's first free/open content projects, is a member of that community itself, our people regularly attend open source conferences, and open source leaders visit ours.

Ok, so starting a deletion wave against OSS is definitely taking things a little too far.

So I'll point out the elephant in the room: We need to re-examine what is a reliable source. During the time that wikipedia has existed (and partially due to the existence of wikipedia itself, I might say with some pride. :-) ) dead-tree works are ever so slowly falling into disfavor, and often net-based sources are becoming more professional and reliable over time.

We need to start using our brains more again. People need to actually asses the quality of a source, not just act like zombies going "Dead tree good, 'live tree' bad". How can we stimulate this?

--Kim Bruning (talk) 23:19, 3 March 2010 (UTC) And thank goodness I managed to put RFC 2026 in there long before the current insanity erupted.

Hmm, similar problems at WP:N : Wikipedia_talk:Notability/RFC:Notability_of_free_open_source_software . --Kim Bruning (talk) 00:37, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

While FLOSS projects tend to be fairly open the problem is with third party sources. Their descriptions of themselves tend to be far from trustworthy so third party sources are needed. Unfornately most get written by well fanboys with the occasional person who forwhatever reasont he project has annoyed thrown in for flavour. Building a set of neutral descriptions from that mess would be nice but doesn't fall within our remit. While more use could be made of expert blogs the general lack of third party reports made by people halfway neutral limits any possible progress in this area.©Geni 00:50, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
When we looked at FLOSS articles written before current RS was implemented, the articles were pretty decent. OSS is really just an example though. More and more things are slowly moving on-line. Over time, dead tree sources will slowly become obsolete. At that point, we won't be able to create new articles at all! ;-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 01:11, 4 March 2010 (UTC)


"Usenet is typically only a reliable source with respect to specific FAQs..."

Which FAQS would those be? Marasmusine (talk) 08:38, 3 August 2010 (UTC)

I'm also very interested in knowing the answer to this question. —chaos5023 (talk) 14:57, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
One of the primary methods of publishing on the internet prior to the WWW was Usenet. I'll give an example: There was a question about the dating of a certain software. It was pointed out that the author's claim on their own website to have published it in 1988 was unreliable. However the complete sources were found in messages published in November 1988 on Most of the internet RFCs including the ones that allows Wikipedia to run were originally published on Usenet. Godwin's_Law and the Tanenbaum–Torvalds_debate are other examples I would point out. The guidelines are meant to be used with a strong dose of common sense. I don't even think the use Usenet references "rarely" is an accurate guide, as more often than not Usenet references are pretty good ones especially when attempting to find sources of things that only exist on the early internet itself. I would also add that much of the print journalism of the 80's and early 90's concerning the internet is often full of significant errors because those writing articles about the internet in magazines and newspapers were often laughably ignorant of anything to do with computers and networks, and their editors even more so. - Jlambert (talk) 22:15, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

Only source is Youtube[edit]

There are many music-related items whose only sources are Youtube. What do you do for this, as Youtube sources aren't considered reliable by Wikipedia? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Snesiscool (talkcontribs) 02:33, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

Blogs not reliable because they are fallible, and don't always fact check... unlike?!?!?[edit]

"In many cases, no. Most private weblogs ("blogs"), especially those hosted by blog-hosting services such as Blogger, are self-published sources; many of them published pseudonymously. There is no fact-checking process and no guarantee of quality of reliability."

What these days meets those almost impossible barriers? Certainly not most mainstream media. Does even the new york times meet this standard?TeeTylerToe (talk) 02:58, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

The difference between a publisher and a printing service[edit]

Patent authorities aren't actually publishers in any traditional or meaningful sense. The fundamental characteristic of a publisher is having a meaningful choice about whether to make the material public. The patent authorities have zero choice over this. The inventor is in total control. The inventor is the one who decides whether to make that material public (in return for a limited monopoly). The patent office cannot stop the publication of a patent application (including applications they've denied) and cannot force the publication of a patent application (although the inventor will have to give up the monopoly rights in that case).

That means that the PTO is not actually "the publisher" any more than YouTube is the publisher for millions of videos. The PTO is basically a glorified printing press for this aspect of the patent process. They release to the public whatever the inventor tells them to, whenever the inventor tells them to do it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:24, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

What significance should we attribute to your assessment of what it means to operate in a "traditional or meaningful sense" so as to make "meaningful choices" ?

you say: "The patent authorities have zero choice over this. The inventor is in total control."

Wow - from what source did you get your information? Perhaps you could cite the relevant passages in the USPTO patent laws and regulations supporting your characterization of this autonomous publishing power enjoyed by filers of patent applications?

Also, are there some established regulations or rules controlling the operation or published content of "traditional or meaningful" publishers that you can refer to in supporting your distinction here? Or - is this another one of those wonderous powers executed by the invisible hand of the free market? Wikibearwithme (talk) 04:41, 10 January 2016 (UTC)

Opeining and Closing Credits[edit]

I am wondering if opeining and closing credits are reliable sources? My opinion, is that it is not reliable at all. However, Wikipedia does not work with opinions. Therefore, is there somewhere I can find my answer? Is it in this article or another? Thanks.  — SoapFan12 (talk, contribs) 10:50, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

Are patents reliable sources[edit]

I think the current guidelines are misdirected. A patent application eventually receives an ISR [international Search Report], where the patent examiner makes his comments on the novelty of the application with regard to the prior art and also makes comments about its patentability. So there is oversight of all applications and if a link to the patent includes the published ISR then the weight of reliability can be judged. To say that links to patents are unreliable is a biased view. Say for example in a technical field where there is a device commonly known to work or with independent verification that it does work, then, a link to the patent or patent application for that device is perfectly logical. In this way the technical background describing how the device works becomes available by linking to the patents office records and descriptions / interpretations by editors are not required. Please make commentsCambering (talk) 22:59, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

I also find the current guidelines to be highly misguided. An issued patent does provide a completely valid form of reference, and in fact, the ONLY widely accepted form of reference in establishing novelty, particularly with regard to any subsequent claims of novelty. Precisely for this reason, patents are allowable forms of citation in peer-reviewed journals. They also establish the existence of a publicly available search by an official authority with well-evolved and accepted guidelines, the meeting of a well-regulated guidelines for full disclosure, as well as means to access full bibliography associated with a very specific technology.

This assessment of patents as insufficient as references is in contradiction to widely accepted practices of reputable, peer-reviewed, scientific journals. They are an accepted (frequently, the only) record of disclosure for a technical pursuit or concept, which is often of genuine interest. Unless someone has some evidence of an "alternate universe" where these previous statements are not factual, somebody needs to correct this summary disregard for their merits as a reference.Wikibearwithme (talk) 00:01, 18 November 2015 (UTC)

The guideline seems fairly clear to me: patents are reliable sources for simple descriptions and attributable claims about their contents. They are not equivalent to publications in peer reviewed scientific and engineering journals nor are they technical manuals. In that regard patents are suitable sources for describing the purported function of the device, not how it works. Betty Logan (talk) 04:44, 18 November 2015 (UTC)

That doesn't appear equivalent to how it is represented under this project page, which is quite dismissive of issued patents, and states that they are, for all practical purposes, self-published, putting them on-par with web-pages. This is a rather capricious and non-factual assessment.

Secondly, as the only accepted, regulated, standard of recorded history in the subject of what is and what isn't technically novel (ultimately a legal definition), your description doesn't appear to address the significance of that function. Wikibearwithme (talk) 20:01, 18 November 2015 (UTC)

RfC announce: What does Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources (medicine) cover?[edit]

There is a request for comments at [ Wikipedia talk:Identifying reliable sources (medicine)#What does MEDRS cover? ].

At issue is whether the lead paragraph OF WP:MEDRS should remain...

"Wikipedia's articles are not medical advice, but are a widely used source of health information. For this reason it is vital that any biomedical information is based on reliable, third-party, published secondary sources and that it accurately reflects current knowledge."

...or whether it should be changed to...

"Wikipedia's articles are not medical advice, but are a widely used source of health information. For this reason it is vital that any biomedical and health information is based on reliable, third-party, published secondary sources and that it accurately reflects current knowledge."

This has the potential to change the sourcing policy from WP:RS to WP:MEDRS on a large number of Wikipedia pages, so please help us to arrive at a consensus on this issue. --Guy Macon (talk) 06:09, 3 November 2015 (UTC)

Patent section contains "patently" false statements[edit]

Perhaps it is the systemic flaw of Wikipedia that no authority is required to change or originate content; however, in this most essential and foundational of sections, it strikes me that statements should clearly and unequivically be backed up by facts.

For starters:

"Government patent authorities do not approve, fact-check, edit or endorse any material in the patent application."

If someone is going to speak authoritatively about the patent system, it should be, at the very least, somebody who is somewhat acquainted with the well-established delineations of what the patent office does and does not do. They should also be able to differentiate this from what a peer-reviewed journal does; however, the preceding language and the entire section on patents evokes the layman approach of one who is lazily aware of neither, and chooses to make degradatory, dismissive remarks instead.

The patent office, in point of fact, approves, fact-checks, edits, and endorses, FOR ITS PURPOSES ONLY. In an encyclopedia, sometimes these very same purposes are, as an easily demonstratable fact, actually far more relevant, to a particular subject under investigation, than what is done in a peer-reviewed journal. This is also one reason why peer-reviewed journals sometimes reference patents.

Other lazy statements in this "references" section are also, at very best, equivocating.

Does anyone attending this section have a grasp of this? Does anyone attending this section actually have any genuine expertise in this subject area? Wikibearwithme (talk) 03:44, 10 January 2016 (UTC)

In an attempt to introduce greater accuracy into this section, I edited to replace existing language with the following: "Their main concern, as regards conditions for publishing an application (not an issued patent), is whether the application is in conformance with the form and content required of a complete patent application under the guidelines of the relevant patent office (national or international)."

This replaces the factually incorrect and effectively meaningless statement, "Their main concern is whether the application fully describes the claimed invention."

This is only a small start - much more is required for this section to be at all accurate, technically; or even-handed with regards to what any publishers do or don't do.