Wikipedia talk: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.

Article talk page template inquiry[edit]

I wasn't sure how quite to search for this to see if it has been discussed before, so apologies if it has. Given a Wikipedia article on a potential source (e.g. The New York Times, VentureBeat, National Lampoon), it would be useful, but likely but perhaps inadvisable to place a 'reliable source' template on the talk page. I think it would be quite useful to editors, but would equally be a target for vandalism, and would break the wall between Article and Wikipedia spaces - pros and cons. Now that I think of it, maybe a hidden category would be less obtrusive, less likely to be vandalized, and not break that membrane between the spaces. The only reason why I spin this out is that I'm not aware of a comprehensive list of sources and their consensus reliability - if there is one, thanks very much for enlightening me. Regards --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 02:31, 19 May 2019 (UTC)

Hi Ceyockey, that sounds interesting and could be useful for readers, but would also require some effort to safeguard from vandalism and spurious changes. We don't have a comprehensive list of sources, but you may find the following pages helpful:
— Newslinger talk 04:43, 19 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm thinking now that the minimalist approach would be a hidden category. I'll do a bit in the space and see if it passes muster. If not, it can all be wiped away in a blink. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 00:36, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
So, there does in fact exist a Category:Wikipedia reliable sources which contains wikipedia articles about reliable sources, and which contains a sub-category Category:WikiProject lists of online reliable sources which contains WikiProject curated lists of reliable sources. I've created already a category and subcategory for Blacklisted sources -- but considering the finding of these categories, I'm going to rollback all of the categorizations and creations and work within the current framework. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 01:11, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
Sounds great. I look forward to seeing the results of this project. — Newslinger talk 06:02, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

Definition of analysis[edit]

In response to a question about Fox News and specifically Hannity, this statement was created: "Editorial commentary, analysis and opinion pieces, whether written by the editors of the publication (editorials) or outside authors (op-eds) are reliable primary sources for statements attributed to that editor or author, but are rarely reliable for statements of fact."

There's a discussion at RSN that might benefit from a definition of "analysis". It obviously doesn't include a meta-analysis, which is described as a "preferred" source type elsewhere on this page. It probably doesn't include "analysis" in the sense of analysis being a key characteristic of a secondary source (see WP:SECONDARY). But what is it meant to encompass? WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:31, 19 May 2019 (UTC)

Convenience link to discussion: WP:RSN § "News Analysis" Pieces and WP:RS. — Newslinger talk 03:24, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
It seems to me that the policy should encompass "news analysis" pieces like this: [1]. I think it would be helpful to explicitly make reference to this class of article in the policy, to make it clear that academic analysis pieces and meta-analysis are not meant to be included. Shinealittlelight (talk) 03:23, 25 June 2019 (UTC)

Anonymous/Unnamed Sources[edit]

Fairly new editor, what is the policy regarding anonymous/unnamed sources? Specifically anonymous interviews and eyewitness accounts. Wikipedia:Acceptable sources provides a good explanation, but the page is currently inactive, has the policy remained the same? (talk) 16:08, 20 May 2019 (UTC)

So some of it depends on what the source really is. If an anonymous government official was interviewed by a journalist writing a newspaper article, the anonymous official is not the source - the article is the source, and the journalist is its author. If someone claiming to be an anonymous government official posts his personal account of some alleged event on 4chan, that post is the source and its author is anonymous. These are very very different situations. If the author of a source is not known, it becomes much more difficult to assess its reliability (reputation for fact-checking and accuracy). Sometimes you can fall back on the publisher of an anonymous account, but if the publisher has no such reputation, you are deep within unreliable territory.
Okay, so most of the time we're talking about that first type of source. And, well, we deal with those as we would with anything else. If virtually all reliable sources are treating something as a fact, Wikipedia probably will too, even if the information ultimately came from someone anonymous. If they are treating it as an accusation from anonymous parties, but it is getting significant reception, it will be mentioned on Wikipedia with attribution. And if it appeared in one newspaper article and then vanished, Wikipedia will probably ignore it.
That last point is important. If an anonymous witness statement is carried by a reputable publisher, it is still but a single source, and potentially insignificant. It runs the risk of violating WP:REDFLAG. But to satisfy REDFLAG, and to satisfy WP:UNDUE, you would need to find more sources, and better sources. And now, congratulations, you no longer need to rely on an anonymous first-hand account - you can instead rely on all the secondary coverage of it. Someguy1221 (talk) 22:45, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
Hi @Someguy1221: thanks for your answers. You say that if it's only carried by one source it becomes insignificant, however if the same journalist publishes an anonymous interview to two different sources, (Ex: a journalist writing for the Washington Post as well as the Guardian) would this change anything or not?
Another question is; if a journalist from a reputable source cites an anonymous person/interview/witness claiming something about a particular event but his/her account conflicts with another media report from an equally reputable source. Do we include both, or is the anonymous one considered inaccurate? Would it make a difference if the anonymous person's account was corroborated by other weaker sources such as interviews with prominent figures like human rights lawyers or/and personal blog-posts documenting their own experiences? (talk) 00:04, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
This appears to be about Talk:Iraq War#Syria. It sounds like the fact that the journalist did not provide the complete, legal name of every person mentioned in that news article is not the main problem with the way you are presenting that source. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:20, 21 May 2019 (UTC)
It sounds like you're talking about a situation where it's not a matter of dueling anonymous sources, but a matter of journalists presenting contradictory stories based in part on anonymous sources. Also, I never said that a claim appearing in a single source is insignificant'. I said it could be. Ultimately, this is a question of WP:NPOV, not RS. You have sources, and they are not anonymous. You're trying to find a neutral way to present the points of view. The fact that a source asserts statements from anonymous individuals doesn't mean we throw out the source. It's not an editor's job to decide if a journalist has proved his case. The editor's job is to decide if the author or publisher has a reputation for fact checking and accuracy, and how to present the source's content neutrally. Someguy1221 (talk) 05:01, 23 May 2019 (UTC)

Suggested merger - Deprecated sources table --> Perennial sources table[edit]

It seems that the addition of the 'auto-reverted' status icon and the 'edit-filtered' status icon to the Perennial sources table would render the table at WP:DEPSOURCES redundant and in need of parallel updating with the "main" list. I've confirmed that every item in WP:DEPSOURCES is in the Perennial list. As a target of the WP:DEPSOURCES shortcut, could create on the Perennial page a set of compact source name lists, one being a list of deprecated sources; the main table would then be the detail table supplementing the compact lists for quick reference. Thoughts? --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 01:26, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

I've actually proposed this at WT:RSP § Indicators for auto-revert and edit filter, but the idea didn't gain traction. The problem is that the perennial sources table is already very long and information-dense, and it's difficult to introduce more information without making the table more cluttered (and less accessible). I then suggested using footnotes, but decided against implementing them since I didn't think there was enough interest in this data, and because I wasn't sure which column to place the footnotes in. Do you have any suggestions for how this data can be presented without negatively impacting the readability of the table? — Newslinger talk 06:08, 25 May 2019 (UTC)

Removal of sources[edit]

Twice today I have come across edits where a citation has been removed and replaced with {{citation needed}}.[2][3]. In my view a citation should not be deleted unless the content that relies on it has been deleted. A poor source is better than no source, and poor sources should be tagged with {{Unreliable source?}}, {{Better source}} or similar. Do other editors agree with me. Is there a Wikipedia guideline that covers this? Verbcatcher (talk) 20:47, 6 June 2019 (UTC)

First of these removed sources is the Daily Mail, see WP:DAILYMAIL regarding that. Not sure about the other one. — Mike Novikoff 21:22, 6 June 2019 (UTC)
My issue is not about whether the Daily Mail is a reliable source, but whether unreliable sources should be deleted on sight or tagged as unreliable. A claim sourced to the Daily Mail is preferable to an unsourced claim. If a claim is too poorly sourced to be allowed in the encyclopedia then the claim itself should be deleted, not just the dubious source. Verbcatcher (talk) 22:45, 6 June 2019 (UTC)
In general unreliable sources should be removed; if they're unreliable, then they're useless for Wikipedia's purposes, and leaving them in gives a false sense of "security" around the information they support. It's possible that the information, however, may seem plausible and useful, which is why leaving it in, with the hope for an reliable source, is helpful to the reader. Jayjg (talk) 13:07, 7 June 2019 (UTC)
The process of removing an unreliable source and replacing it with {{cn}} came about as a compromise to answer those who wanted to remove content because it had an unreliable source. It's an established interpretation of policy, developed though multiple rounds of intense — some would say bone-crushing — discussion on this talk page, that it is an acceptable (though not best) practice to simply remove unsourced material, rather than to {{cn}} tag it or search for sources for it. Some editors took that one step further and said that if material was sourced only with unreliable sources that it ought to be equally acceptable to simply remove both the source and the material in one go. I don't recall whether that was ever settled, but a best practice was asserted to either remove the source and {{cn}} tag or leave it and {{tl}} tag it and in either case wait for awhile and then come back and delete the material if no better source was forthcoming; the length of "awhile" depended on how often the article was edited, but a week was minimum and a month about right. Even that best practice didn't ever get absolute consensus, but it was asserted as a way to avoid just deleting the source and the material in one whack. Regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 19:31, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
  • There is no “right” answer to this... because A LOT depends on the the nature of specific material in question. We have to examine each case on its individual merits. Blueboar (talk) 19:54, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
  • I usually follow these steps when I encounter a claim that references an unreliable source:
    1. If there is more than one citation, would the claim be fully supported by at least one reliable source after removing the citation to the unreliable source?
      • Yes: Remove the citation to the unreliable source.
      • No: Continue below.
    2. Search for other sources that support the claim. Is the claim fully supported by at least one reliable source?
      • Yes: Replace the unreliable source with the reliable source(s).
      • No: Continue below.
        • Alternatively, if the claim is partially supported by at least one reliable source, edit the claim to be fully supported by the reliable source(s), and then replace the unreliable source with the reliable source(s).
    3. Would the article no longer make sense after removing the claim?

PBS content streaming via Amazon[edit]

I have been enjoying a program that previously aired via PBS. I am accessing the content through Amazon with a subscription. I've got producers' names, titles and such...but no air date. I would love some opinions on how this can be referenced. Best Regards, Barbara 17:24, 16 June 2019 (UTC)


I have just encountered the above-named site used as a ref by a newbie when removing citation needed. Any thoughts on this Prabook homepage? Very vague about us section. A WP search returns a few very recent uses in the last few days only. I'm thinking this is a recent US-based development, likely a crowd-sourced wiki needing login? The content accessed by the newbie ref I believe to be copy-paste plagiarism from WP. I've flagged it up at Inge Stoll and Talk.--Rocknrollmancer (talk) 01:12, 18 June 2019 (UTC)

@Rocknrollmancer: You're more likely to get useful discussion of the reliability of specific sources at the reliable sources noticeboard - suggest moving this over there. (If you move it, feel free to remove this comment). Nikkimaria (talk) 03:49, 18 June 2019 (UTC)
Thank you Nikkimaria - I'll get on it, inexperienced on this aspect (and 90% of the others!).--Rocknrollmancer (talk) 12:08, 20 June 2019 (UTC)


wallmine Can anyone give me advise on the wallmine . I have been going thru their articles and they seem to be pretty intent in reporting in a responsible nature ~ they republish reuter articles ~ which I'm sure that the pay a fee for that, but it looks like they have a pretty good grasp of information that you can access and you don't have to register with wallmine in order to access that information i.e. if you insert AVY in the ticker search box you will get information on Avery Dennison Corp. ~ but then if you scroll down to the executive section, and say lets choose the first independent director on the list 'Julia Stewart'. You get a lot of current biographical material ~ the question is here ~ Can wallmine be a reliable source to use on Wiki? ~ thanks for your input Mitchellhobbs (talk) 14:10, 18 June 2019 (UTC)

  • Just an adder ~ (I just tried to do more searches) ~ you get three searches per month then you have to sign~up, but at least you don't have to give your whole mysterious life history to a stranger ~ H ~ Mitchellhobbs (talk) 14:36, 18 June 2019 (UTC)

Find a Grave[edit]

Why is a link to a photo of a tombstone on "Find a Grave" considered bad, where as a link to a photo on Wikimedia Commons is good? Both are "user-generated content"!!! I can't link to "Find a Grave", but I could go to a cemetery, take a photo, upload it to Wikimedia Commons, then MAGICALLY it's ok now! • SbmeirowTalk • 01:24, 24 June 2019 (UTC)

  • The difference is that pictures from Wikimedia Commons are used for illustration, and not for factual information. Citing a Commons picture as a reference for factual information would be equally bad. — Newslinger talk 01:39, 24 June 2019 (UTC)
  • If an illustration isn't considered factual, then why should it be allowed? • SbmeirowTalk • 01:48, 24 June 2019 (UTC)
    • MOS:IMAGES states "Images should look like what they are meant to illustrate, whether or not they are provably authentic." and the reasoning is that they serve as "an important illustrative aid to understanding". Readers should still rely on the article text for facts. — Newslinger talk 01:58, 24 June 2019 (UTC)
      • The same could be said of a photo on "Find a Grave", because a tombstone is "an important illustrative aid to understanding". If a statement already has a reference link to an obituary, then an additional link to photo of a tombstone on "Find a Grave" illustrates it. • SbmeirowTalk • 02:21, 24 June 2019 (UTC)
  • By providing a link, did you also want the photo displayed in the article? There may be a copyright issue in doing so. The original photographer still owns the copyright. By posting it on Find A Grave the photographer grants Find A Grave and its Group Companies a perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, sublicensable, royalty-free, world-wide license to host, store, copy, publish, distribute, provide access to and otherwise use such material. In general, thats not a license for anyone else to do as they please with it. -- Work permit (talk) 02:46, 24 June 2019 (UTC)