Wikipedia talk:Identifying reliable sources/Archive 12

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Google News[edit]

Can all those news sources that appear in Google news be taken as Reliable Sources? My personal belief is that we should take them all to be reliable publications as Google accepts them based on their compliance with certain parameters.This will help us in case of issues where parties attack a publication saying it is not reliable and also help us understand which publications are nationally recognised worldwide. 09:21, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

removing {{historical}} from talk page[edit]

Resolved: Template at issue removed

It would appear that the policy page has been returned from Historical to active status or at least that there is a movement afoot to do so, so I have taken the liberty of commenting out the historical tag here. If this movement carries on it may be appropriate to unprotect the page as well in accordance with common practice. ++Lar: t/c 16:39, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Before it was made historical, its standing as a guideline was questioned by many. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 14:56, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
{{historical}} shouldn't be placed on talk pages to begin with. >Radiant< 14:57, 21 March 2007 (UTC)


It sure seems like maintaining a policy and duplicate guideline would be less then a perfect solution. I suggest that Wikipedia:Reliable sources be merged and redirected to Wikipedia:Attribution#Reliable_sources as you can see already it is not clear which one is the guiding principle. Signed Jeepday 14:43, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

This guideline was redirected to ATT.... but there is now a question as to whether ATT is going to remain policy or not (which was why this guideline was reserected)... that primary question needs to be answered before we merge or redirect anything. IF ATT remains policy, I would agree that we should redirect. IF it does not, then this guideline should revert back to being in effect. Blueboar 15:55, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Reliable sources should be expanded to include discussion of more examples of reliable and unreliable sources. A major problem with merging several policy and guideline pages into one is that useful details are eliminated in order to save space. Wikipedia can use this page to save its institutional memory of past decisions about which sources are not reliable. We have a spam blacklist and we could use something like a sources blacklist for unreliable sources that are frequently cited by Wikipedians. --JWSchmidt 16:30, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
At the moment this is handled well at the FAQ page attached to WP:ATT. If it turns out that ATT is rejected, then that FAQ (or at least the parts of it that relate to reliable sources) should be shifted over and attached to this page. Blueboar 18:37, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
A bad idea. See Wikipedia talk:Attribution#This merger is a really bad idea for some of the reasons. --Henrygb 22:58, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Bulletin boards, wikis and posts to Usenet[edit]

Resolved: Language that was deleted to make it not agree with WP:ATT has been restored.

This section seems to go a little too far. There are contexts in which such sources are valuable (cf. Godwin's law), mainly for establishing first date of public appearance. I do of course undertand the point this section is trying to make, I think it is just overbroad. While the content of some random Usenet post is potentially highly questionable, the archived timestamp on it probably isn't and in many cases may be the only source for the date in question. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 19:48, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't think the change is sufficient. Many bulletin boards, etc. are moderated with editorial oversight, and do have known contributors--this is particularly relevant in the academic world. The last sentence about the exceptions should not imply that they are the only exceptions. This will be an increasingly occurring situation as such media become customary channels for serious work. This also affects Notability issues where such sources are the only realistic sources. DGG 21:27, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Archived Usenet posts (i.e. through Google-Groups archives) should be an allowable source for historical references... for example historical announcements of software releases. I just noticed that a cited reference of a release date using this source was removed from a page, citing this policy as a reason for removal. An exception is needed. --Thoric 23:10, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

I understand the points you are all making... but right now is not the time to be fixing it... see below. Blueboar 00:07, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
If this page is already in debate, then people should not be actively citing it as an authoritative reason for their removal of citations from articles. Perhaps WP:RS should be downgraded to a proposal rather than a guideline until this merge is completed? --Thoric 03:01, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
No, the change that was reversed was made soon before the page was redirected, without discussion. If you want to keep a static version, that version would need to be a relatively stable, established version, not one with new, undiscussed changes. —Centrxtalk • 03:49, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
So, is it accurate to say that until this debate is completed, that an editor cannot cite this policy to remove links to a website? (Yes, I am asking this with a specific instance in mind.) In either case, what are the steps to show conclusively that a website is not a reliable source? Or can anyone simply declare that a website is not a reliable source, & put the burden of proof on other people to prove otherwise? -- llywrch 21:26, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
If a link to a website should or should not be removed as being appropriate or inappropriate for an encyclopedia, then it should or should not be removed regardless of whether this page is tagged as anything or exists at all. Generally, all of these guidelines and policies are advice and assistance for making an encyclopedia which, as regards reliable sources, needs to have accuracy. —Centrxtalk • 21:31, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

The edit made here should be restored. The change it fixed was made without consensus, the edit to make that fix had consensus here, and not only did the revert of the edit that made that fix not have any discussion, the reverter even effectively joined in the consensus. There is no "stability" clause anywhere, much less one that justifies reverting the repairing of damage to a guideline simply to make it agree temporarily with a page the future existence or status of which is heavily disputed. Also, the revert made WP:RS not agree with WP:ATT any longer, so "stability" urgers are thwarting their own goals with this page protection. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 19:37, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

PS: See also Centrx's comment on this RS/ATT conflict below. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 19:43, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
{{editprotected}} I see no evidence that there is clear consensus for any changes, so I will comment out the editprotected tag. Once consensus settles down, the page will be unprotected. CMummert · talk 20:25, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
No worries; the issue was a little convoluted, as the editprotect was a request for a re-revert of a revert of a restoration of material removed a while back without consensus. :-) The page is unprotected now, and I fixed the problem. WP:RS now agrees with WP:ATT again. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 20:50, 25 March 2007 (UTC)


Resolved: WP:AN discussion concluded protect not necessary any longer, and no one seems to want to change anything.

Please don't make changes right now. As most of you know, this page was merged into the FAQ page at WP:ATT, and was made historical ... well, Jimbo has asked us to do a poll on whether ATT has consensus or not, the result of which will affect this page. That is the only reason why this page is back to being active. For people to be able to decide properly in that poll, it is important that the various policies and guidelines that were merged into ATT stay in the same version that they were in when the merge took place. This is not the time to be making changes. Once it is determined whether this page will rolled into ATT or not ... then we can suggest changes at the appropriate location. Please be patient. Blueboar 00:05, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

That rationale makes some sense to me, but seems unneccesarily stridently presented. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:22, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
This is not the same version that was merged into ATT. For example, you reverted to a change that was made after ATT was established. —Centrxtalk • 03:55, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Hmmmm. As to be saying Yoda might, that seems to be a point of goodness. Hmmm... — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 05:27, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
The rationale no longer makes sense. See Editprotected requests above and below. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 18:32, 22 March 2007 (UTC)


Resolved: WP:AN discussion concluded protect not necessary any longer, and no one seems to want to change anything.

I have protected this page to maintain stability while the WP:ATT situation is being sorted out. Crum375 00:35, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Please cite a basis in policy for protecting the page from editing or provide a rational reason. --JWSchmidt 14:18, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
There is a question as to whether this page is or is not active. Until that is determined there should be no editing. Blueboar 14:20, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
There is absolutely no' question about that whatsoever. See Jimbo's edit summaries, and his comments at Wikipedia talk:Attribution. You are very, very badly mistaking what Big J. has said on the matter. There is a question as to what will become of this page after a poll that may never materialize, but this is not the same thing and absolutely does not justify full-protection of this page. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 19:41, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
The page says it is a guideline. It should be open for editing. --JWSchmidt 14:46, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
That is exactly the question that is being asked ... IS it a guideline or not? Please see: Wikipedia talk:Attribution‎ for details. Blueboar 14:50, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
It is strange that policy wonks who are in an argument over policy do not have to follow policy. Page protection exists for for specific purposes, not to be used on a whim by administrators who are involved in a dispute. --JWSchmidt 15:29, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Actually, this all stems from Jimbo Wales and not just admins.
But that aside, we don't have to stop the process completely... if you have a suggested change to this guideline, why not post it here where you can edit? Assuming that people agree with your suggestion, and if it turns out that this page is not reverted back to being historical, we can implement the change once the lock is removed. It may be slow, but then slow is often a good thing... there is no reason not to at least start the process. Blueboar 15:37, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
"this all stems from Jimbo Wales"<-- What I see is a prevention of editing of guideline and policy pages and then an attempt to blame that unjustified action on someone else. "slow is often a good thing" <-- particularly when you are involved in a dispute and you do not like a turn of events? --JWSchmidt 16:07, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
FYI, I am not an admin, and so can do nothing about the lock even if I wanted to... I was just trying to explain why it was put there in place. As for going slow... I feel that this is a good habit in general... it is always better to go slow, as doing so gives people time to reflect on a suggested change and decide whether the change has consensus or not.
So, What is your suggested change? Blueboar 16:25, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
The WP:ATT rationale is no longer sufficient (assuming it ever was) for the page protection or one editor's admonishments to not edit the page here. See recent threads at Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Poll: Even proponents of the ATT merger are largely recognizing that what to do about WP:RS remains an open issue, and that it is in fact a guideline, not a historical document. Crum375 is in fact involved in the ATT debate, so the protection is a conflict of interest (in the general sense; I'm not talking about WP:COI, nor am I implying any bad faith). So, please remove it. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 18:31, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Contrasting Request: I think the edit protect is a very good idea, and request that it remain in place... as I stated above, it will really confuse things to have changes being made to this guideline while we are trying to determine what to do over at ATT. Jimbo has said that ATT is to stay cannonical while we discuss the issue... so that policy is still the guiding one as far as this guideline goes. Anything we add here, has to fit in with what ATT says. and any changes here need to be reflected at ATT. So... if ATT is frozen, I feel this page should be frozen as well.
This does not mean we can not discuss things here on the talk page, and I encourage other editors to raise concerns and suggest changes. Blueboar 18:53, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
No, RS is not part of ATT. Some editors over there want to make RS be part of the ATT FAQ, but there is substantial disagreement over this idea. RS remains an active guideline, completely independently of ATT, V and NOR, and it also remains broken (someone deleted clarification on a point without consensus before the ATT fiasco, this was fixed a day or two ago, but someone removed that correction right before the page was protected. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 19:13, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
If RS is not part of ATT, then why was this page closed and redirected to the RS section of ATT for the last few weeks? I understand that this redirect was controvercial, that some liked it and that some hated it, but the fact is that this page was closed and redirected to ATT. Blueboar 23:45, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
As per Jimbo's initial posting in WT:ATT, the merger (and all sub-actions therein) was done without clear consensus. This includes elevating WP:RS from a guideline to policy, which was only done after redirecting WP:RS to WP:ATT. Additionally, Jimbo himself has established that calling WP:RS a policy document is a change in policy. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 01:19, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Um... I have to quibble a bit with Yukicigai's comment... this isn't exactly what happened (it is more complicated than an "elevation"). The concept that editors must use reliable sources to back their edits has always been part of Policy. Both WP:V, and WP:NOR discussed this concept as being key factors. This Guideline page was created to further explain what was said in those Policies. With the merger of these two Policies into ATT, the fact that this concept was Policy was made clearer by redirecting the shortcut link "WP:RS" to where the new, merged Policy restated what the old policy pages have always said. Meanwhile... the "guidance" part of this page (ie the stuff on how to determine what is and is not a reliable source) was copied over to a FAQ page attached to ATT... with the intent that it will eventually be promoted to a new guideline. So... the concept of RS was restated as being part of Policy... The shortcut link: "WP:RS" was redirected to that policy, and the guidance was merged into ATT/FAQ. It is a subtle difference, but it is different than saying "WP:RS was elevated to Policy." Blueboar 14:04, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Aye, Aye ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 14:47, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

WP:ATT: Join the discussion at[edit]

Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Community discussion

≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:13, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

NOTE: There is a proposal to merge this page into WP:ATT.[edit]

Resolved: New merge tag installed to address the issue, after 3 days w/o objection.

There should be a prominent merge tag posted on this page, directing people to the discussion, which is supposed to be trying to attract as many people as possible. This is the very problem that led to the current dispute: that there had been no merge tag on this and similar pages while discussions about possibly merging were going on. Would someone please correct this and put up the merge tags? --Coppertwig 00:11, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Better yet, just remove the improper full-protection, which is not supported by anything at WP:PROT. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:31, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

The project page needs {{Mergeto|Attribution}} (see Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll - merge has been proposed). — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 19:37, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I've added the merge template; cheers. -GTBacchus(talk) 19:45, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
This issue has not been resolved. The current merge tag says that some parts of the page "have been merged" into another page. It does not warn users in any way that there is a proposal to demote the entire current contents of the page to "inactive" (see proposed poll wording at Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll). A proper, normal merge tag would do so. --Coppertwig 18:19, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Good point. Please see WT:V and WT:RS for draft tag suggested (in scope, not in exact detail) by WP:RFPP peeps. A similar tag could be applied here, and I think everyone would be happier with it. After I take the trash out (IRL, I mean) I'll copy if over to here for discussion as well. PS: Boldface objections to the "Resolved" tag aren't needed; as {{Resolved}} says, just remove it and keep on discussing. :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 05:50, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Minor typo[edit]

Resolved: Typo fixed

The last paragraph of Types of source material contains a misspelling ("polititian" should be "politician") that you might want to fix when (or if) editing of that page is again permitted. --Rich Janis 09:02, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

This has been taken care of by an admin :) SGGH 22:22, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

This page '*has already been merged*[edit]

Resolved: All parties are satisfied.

... and we are discussing the subject in a community wide debate. The merge template makes no sense, is confusing and adds nothing. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 21:59, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

That works, Armedblowfish. Thanks. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk)
(edit conflict) Okay! : ) Including the message I was originally going to post below:
I think the goal was to attract more editors to join the discussion. I subted the template back in, and made some changes to make it more specific to this situation. I hope that helps.  : ) Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 22:03, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Exactly, and the new custom template is great, and informative. Jossi, please see WP:ATT/POLL. Half of the debate is whether RS, V and NOR should be merged into ATT. That makes it a proposed merge. Just because there exists an ATT page right now in which they have been merged already doesn't mean that there is not a merge proposal in the air. The situation is unusual, but surely, surely you have better things to do that fight over templates that do nothing but bring more people to the poll about ATT? This is really getting silly. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:26, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
This is getting really tedious. Can you please drop this and let the debate continue unencumbered by minutae? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:35, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks! : ) Jossi agreed to the new version, so I don't see what the problem is. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 22:32, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, this is highly satisfactory. (NB: I misread and hadn't seen Jossi's agreement, I was responding to the topic; my bad. Actually renewing the argument about past/present tense wasn't my actual intention.) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 23:09, 25 March 2007 (UTC) Updated 03:10, 26 March 2007 (UTC) to be a bit more explanatory. Original wasn't meant to ignore Jossi's criticism, I was just editing about 5 things at the time so I was unnecessarily short here. -SMcC.

Change "Reliable Sources" to "Acceptable Sources"[edit]

"Acceptable Sources" is a far more accurate and honest descripton than "Reliable Sources" to describe the basis on which sources are allowed to be used in wiki. A certain blog may be far more informed and reliable on a particular topic than a national newspaper, but the former is an unacceptable source and the latter is an acceptable one, regardless of its reliability. In reality the so-called reliable sources may often have very dubious reliability, so it's rather naive to keep on using that word for them. It also makes it harder for editors to understand why a source may or may not be used, when on occasion they see something which they know is unreliable being called reliable and vice versa. Tyrenius 02:34, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Seems too intentionally subjective to me. I'm not saying there is no possible better name for WP:RS than its present one, I just don't think that is one. :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 03:06, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
It describes the house policy and is apt. It is ironic that the means, whereby articles are verified with no original research, is based on a premise established by original research without verification. The glib assessment of, for example, newspapers as "reliable" is somewhat lacking in academic rigour, to say the least. The whole basis of verification comes from a useful but highly subjective criterion. Tyrenius 03:22, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia is meant to be an encyclopedia, not a refereed academic journal, so I'm not sure what "academic rigour" has to do with it. If all of our sources had to meet that criterion, WP would have nothing in it but about 5000 articles about science. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 03:27, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
OK, let's leave academic rigour out of it, and just rely on common sense and elementary knowledge. It is not very convincing to use the term Reliable Sources to convince someone of the sources they should or shouldn't be using, when they can easily argue they are being pointed to an unreliable source in certain circumstances and know a much more reliable one — which unfortunately may not be acceptable on wiki. It is much easier to comprehend and communicate that we have a certain ruling, whereby we have deemed certain sources are acceptable and others not. Tyrenius 03:33, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
That's why I prefer saying reliable sources to saying reliable sources. The concept is that the sources truly be reliable for the subject area they deal with, whether that meets this week's arbitrary standards or not. --tjstrf talk 03:36, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
I think you want reliable sources, or reliable sources, then, as you are only challeging the definition/nature of "reliable" not of "sources". — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 04:40, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Ah, yes, you have a point. I shall adjust my linking habits. --tjstrf talk 07:01, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
There really is such a thing as relaible sources, and the community of Wiki editors I think does a good job in sorting it out. The world has hundreds of thousands of experts who spend a great deal of effort to validate reliability and publish explanations that satisfy their peers, and Wiki should reflect their work. That is Wiki should seek out best scholarship, not rely on minimum acceptable levelsRjensen 04:19, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
One of the problems is that people push to include topics for which there do not exist truly reliable sources, such as news events, much popular culture, etc. An article on any strictly encyclopedic topic certainly should be citing professional histories, textbooks, etc. never magazines and newspapers. —Centrxtalk • 04:32, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict) That includes journalists by the way. I've detected what seems to be a thin undercurrent of "newspapers suck!" here, and don't agree with it. While they are not refereed science journals, they do have rather uniform editorial standards (I mean real newspapers and newsweeklies and such, not the National Enquirer and gossip rags), and all of the 20+ professional journalists I know on a first name basis take their role and responsibilities very seriously, especially when it comes to fact-checking, libel and attribution. (For now I'm content to let the reader sort out the radical difference between my and Centrx's view. I'm actually suprised, since I find that we agree on other topics more and more. New surprise every day!)— SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 04:35, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
I think "allowable sources" is best of all, because we mean only those sources that Wikipedia by policy allows. There's nothing about them that makes them reliable, albeit some editors here think the mainstream media and academics are inherently "reliable". What is reliable should depend on what we are talking about, but we don't make fine distinctions here. Grace Note 05:42, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
"Permissible" works better for me. "Allowable" for some reasons sounds imprecise and as if we're talking to children. I can't give a reliably sourced reason for that, it's just a "feel" thing. :-) PS: I think it's the "allowance" and "I can't go to that playground, cuz I ain't allowed" connection, maybe. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 07:20, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Regardless of the exact word, I think we are hitting on something here. What is permitted under WP policy/guidelines, vs. what is supposedly objectively "reliable" (a determination which of course can't possibly be objective at all.) I'm not 100% behind this proposed change at this stage, but it is making sense to me. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 07:22, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. I think acceptable is definitely better than reliable. I personally like the term appropriate sources per the discussion of Grace Note. My mother's blog is a highly appropriate source for non-controversial information about my childhood, while peer reviews academic journals and mainstream science text-books are the most appropriate sources for articles on science. In any case, acceptable, permissible, and allowable are all fine suggestions. --Merzul 19:53, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
I think the way to find what to call the guideline is to examine what it is saying and then find the definition for that. There are quite strong rules, so there is a definite sense of authority with some leeway. This needs to be maintained. "Appropriate" possibly shifts it away from the existing parameters and opens the way for disputes in practice. "Allowable" hits the mark quite well, and is easier to spell and say than "permissible". It also hints at some flexibility, as in something is not normally allowable, but may be in a certain instance. It's a bit friendlier than "permissible". I think the playground analogy is a reason for, rather than against, its use! Tyrenius 21:35, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

"Acceptable" to me intends to imply a binary standard of reliability, which does seem to be the stance taken by WP:ATT. "Significant" might work for a sliding scale of reliability that depends on circumstances, consistent with the spirit of WP:NPOV. Wikipedia:Reliable sources has been in conflict between those who prefer a binary stanard of reliability and those who prefer a sliding scale adjustable depending on circumstances for as long as I have been discussing things here. "Reliable" is probably the most inclusive, even if not the most accurate. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 02:23, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Actually, I think we should drop all the modifyers... What if we just make this a guideline about "Sourcing". Let's leave the "rule making" to Policy pages and limit this page to "guidance and advice" on how to source statements within the limits given in those Policies. Blueboar 12:50, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Agree with User:Tyrenius above. As a newcomer to Wiki 6 months back I was shocked to see the credence given to Main-Stream-Media over other sources. And the MSM being described as "more reliable"! Especially when applied to conflicts between the "West" and non-English speaking countries/cultures/interests this produces heavily biased articles contrary to WP:NPOV and is something that absolutely MUST be addressed. (Sarah777 15:41, 31 March 2007 (UTC))

Rewrite WP:RS to make it consistent with the spirit of WP:NPOV?[edit]

See Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Community discussion#RS_and_NPOV. You can participate at Wikipedia:Undue weight (sources). Thanks, Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 03:31, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

No comments on the merits of the idea (haven't looked into it enough), but strongly concur with the plan of doing this as a separate page; emotions have run very hot lately about making changes to any document related to WP:ATT at all. Would suggest moving it to Wikipedia:Reliable sources and undue weight or the like instead, so that people do not become confused and start citing it as if it were an independent concept. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 04:28, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
There's addl. discussion over at Wikipedia:Reliable sources and undue weight. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 05:51, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

New combined merge/community discussion header tag[edit]

Resolved: New merge tag installed.

Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Header. I was asked by an admin from WP:RFPP to come up with a combination of the merge header from WP:RS (as of this writing) and the protection header from WP:ATT, to be used on both WP:V and WP:RS, and propose it on the talk pages of both. Above, someone has raised issues that might be addressed by a similar custom message here. My take at this is located at the link above. By belief is that this version will satisfy everyone. It has the text (with twiddles that make it apply to this page instead of ATT, V or NOR) from ATT's tag, with the merge tag formatting of the one presently at RS. I believe it would obviate the need to continue editprotecting about the need for a merge tag. I think it also absorbs all the ideas of the template in the topic above, too. Any objections? It looks like this:

PS: I has a noinclude variant in it for the case that protection is reinstated here.

SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 19:22, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

PPS: No, it didn't really take me half a day to take the trash out. I got tired and went to bed. :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 19:28, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Jimbo Wales's requested poll nearly done - please see[edit]

Jimbo Wales requested a poll to gauge community thoughts on the Wikipedia:Attribution merger. A poll for this is being crafted, and is somewhat close to done. Concensus for the past 24 hours (with the occasional dissenting voice of course) that the thing is close to done. Only the main question is still heavily debated. A pre-poll straw poll is here:


To sort that out. Accepted group concensus seems to be to pre-poll to 4/1/07 22:00 and then launch a site-wide poll (again, as implied/requested by Jimbo) at 4/2/07 00:00. Please help hash out the wording for that last quesion. - Denny 13:31, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Boldly added notes about wikinews and usenet[edit]

Shouldn't be too controversial.

Wikinews's mission in part is to act as a reliable source for wikipedia, so if we then don't allow it, that would be silly.

Certain usenet FAQs and posts are considered canonical wrt usenet itself. It seems fairly safe to make that as a clarification on self published sources. This doesn't quite cover (in)famous documents like the sci.skeptic faq though. Hmm.

Actually, another reliable wiki is wikisource, which replicates reliable sources that can be freely published.

I'll add that as another example. If the list gets really long, we might need to refactor/move elsewhere/ do something else :-/

--Kim Bruning 11:24, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

Good direction, though some details need sorting out. All the "you can use that as a source, it's a wiki/blog/Usenet post/whatever" get pretty tiresome. It's not the medium, it's the message and the writer. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:00, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll[edit]

Resolved: 'Speedy keep' result.

Per comments on the Talk page here, and in other locales, it appears groups of editors are specifically against Jimbo's specifically requested public poll to gauge thoughts/support on the idea of the ATT merger. As it has been stated that the Poll is "dead" per users such as User:WAS 4.250, I am nominating this. If there is wide spread support to run this poll, this page should be kept. The MfD is here:

Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll

Thank you. - Denny 16:12, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

Result of MfD is a Speedy Keep... now let's get back to work on the Poll. New voices are needed to break deadlock. Blueboar 17:36, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

Banning "extremist sources"[edit]

Looking at the discussion archives, I see that the paragraph on banning "extremist sources" didn't get consensus. In fact it is silly and "extremist" is a meaningless term. Are we going to ban the US gov as a source because it is widely recognized as an extremist warmonger? Are we going to ban the Islam media as a source because the US media widely call them extremist? --BMF81 17:50, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

Extremist sources are not banned because they are extremist... but because they are un-reliable. They tend to self-published for one thing. That said... it is true that the definition of "extremist" is in the eye of the beholder, so some common sense is called for. I would say that such sources (assuming they meet all the rest of our rules) are best used as citations for statements of oppinion rather than statements of fact. Blueboar 18:10, 1 April 2007 (UTC)
Extremist sources are not "banned" at all. They are often useful for sourcing specific facts, such as when and in what form someone said something extremist. People seem to forget that a "source" is not always a source for an assertion about the world ("the sky is blue because...", or "Bush sucks because..."), but often for very simple things such as the date of an occurrence. There is no such thing as a source that is always reliable for all things, nor any such thing as a source that is never reliable for anything. Even The Onion is reliable for certain things, such as when an imflammatory, notable piece was published in The Onion. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:12, 1 April 2007 (UTC)
I still, nevertheless, need clarification on this one. How do we determine what sources are extremist? Is Hizbollah extremist? If so, they can be quoted on pages about themselves, but can they be quoted on pages about the Israel military otherwise? What about Hamas? They do run a government now. Or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Or Condoleeza Rice? See what I mean? Where's the line? We need one. A simple statement wont do. Hornplease 21:38, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
I agree. I, too, feel the need for a clearer definition of what constitutes an extremist source, and possibly also an accompanying open list of specific extremist sources, with an optional commentary stating under which circumstances they should not be cited and when they can be cited after all. Itayb 18:15, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

Well we could start with the Index of Forbidden Books and expand from there. What about adding to it "The English Revolution, 1640" (pub 1940) after all Christopher Hill was a communist. --Philip Baird Shearer 18:43, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

That's very cute. Personally, i can live with or without the extremist clause, but i'd like the rules to be clear. As long as there are some sources which cannot be referenced, or can be referenced only under restricted circumstances, i'd like to know exactly how to identify these sources and these circumstances. Right now the situation is neither here nor there. This i don't like. Ambiguity encourages dispute and makes for lengthy and ineffective disputes. In the end, ambiguity works best for the aggressive editor, because where there are no rules, the strongest prevails. Itayb 19:50, 12 April 2007 (UTC)
Extremist sources are indeed banned, as they are not reliable for anything, even for claims about themselves. Holocaust denial sites, for example, are not reliable for anything, even claims about themselves, as they regularly deny even their Holocaust denial. Jayjg (talk) 21:55, 12 April 2007 (UTC)
"Banned"? Um, RS is a guideline, not policy. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 11:18, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Wow, great drive-by intervention, Jay. Manages to be both infuriating and apparently uninformed while using the fewest possible words. Holocaust denial mentioned for extra points. Hornplease 18:29, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Emphasis added: "Holocaust denial mentioned for extra points." — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 12:47, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
I do not totally agree here. they are the only reliable sources for what their public position is. . A Holocaust denier site will usually have a statement of some sort about what it purports to be, and that can appropriately be quoted--the safest way is to quote a key sentence with an exact source, not to try to analyze it. Then, of course, one includes comments from others about the nature of the site and the apparent intent of its authors. Even for the most disreputable and dangerous site, it can usually be best demonstrated to be such in its own words. It does take considerable objectivity and determination to find a suitable representative quote. I do not think that Jayjg and I would disagree about most actual instances. The key point is not to evaluate the site yourself, and to be fair in selection. Politics is ambiguous, and editing is a matter of judgment. DGG 04:13, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
As i've written, i'm more concerned about having precise rules than about the nature of those rules. However, if i have to make a value judgment here, and decide whether to do away with the extremist clause, or to retain it and clarify it, i'd go for doing away with it altogether. Firstly, deleting rules is technically easier than formulating good rules, and results in less rules to remember. Secondly, what matters to me as a consumer of knowledge and of opinion is the methodology, by which the knowledge has been acquired and the opinions reached, rather than how well accepted they currently are to the general public.
However, if the extremist clause is abolished, it needs be balanced by tighter standards for the reliability of the source. Only such documents should be accepted, which have been published in journals/newspapers, etc. which have a clearly stated policy of fact and methodology checking, and whose editorial process is transparent (as in a peer-reviewed journal, or a newspaper with some kind of an ombudsman office, such as CBS News' Public Eye). Itayb 07:07, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

What is an extremest? It seems to me from its use here to be a word rather like terrorist that it is a pejorative term. "It is a word with intrinsically negative connotations that is generally applied to one's enemies and opponents, or to those with whom one disagrees and would otherwise prefer to ignore."(see: Terrorist#Pejorative use). Given the systemic bias of this project, I think that WP:ATT/WP:RS is enough, particularly the sections "Exceptional claims require exceptional sources" and "Self-published sources" without the need to define what an extremist source is. For an example of what I mean see Muhammad al-Durrah who is the extremest in that article? On issues like Global warming which is the extremest position? For example is the Great Warming Swindle an extremest piece? Given the talk page disputes which happen, any codification of extremism will inevitably be used as a club by extremists on the other side of a coin to club their rivals. --Philip Baird Shearer 10:18, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

User BMF81 claimed (in the first comment of this topic) the paragraph on banning "extremist sources" didn't get consensus. What is the basis for this claim? Itayb 11:07, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Frankly, I am not certain why WP:FRINGE when applied to politics does not sufficiently explain how we cover the statements of extremist groups. Can someone comment on that? Hornplease 18:30, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
WP:FRINGE deals more with the questions of if and when we should cover statements of extremist groups... I think this guideline should deal more with how.Blueboar 19:14, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

In the discussion archive there are many users complaining on the absurdity of such a paragraph. If some users are so opposed on removing it, we should at least include in it the concerns raised here.--BMF81 11:52, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

1. BMF81, I've gone over the last couple of archives all past archives of this talk page. I've found no such thing. Could you please be more specific?
2. I've began to collect discussions concerning the extremist section in User:Itayb/Extremist sources. Right now it's quite a mess. All are welcome to add, reformat, etc. Itayb 13:40, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
Are you sure you didn't find anyone questioning if the word "extremist" has any meaning at all? The point has been clearly restated here by User:Philip Baird Shearer. The rewording "widely acknowledged as extremist" just moves the question to "acknowledged by who?".--BMF81 14:39, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
There's a discussion on 'thresholds' with, among others, Fred Bauder, who cites various ArbCom discussions. It went nowhere; the best that could be said is that 'it starts discussion'. This is not good enough. We need more detailed policy. Hornplease 20:17, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

Rationale for the "Extremist" clause[edit]

  1. What does "extremist" mean? How can one tell/demonstrate that an organization/individual is widely acknowledged as extremist?
  2. What's the rationale for the "extremist" clause? How does this clause agree with the NPOV policy? Itayb 17:52, 14 April 2007 (UTC) as a source[edit]

This news website requires users to register and log in before they can view the newspaper's online articles. Does this not hinder its utility as a source?--h i s s p a c e r e s e a r c h 14:04, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

This may really be a bigger question than this page can handle (cf. WP:EL), but my take is that since you can register with anonymized, bogus information, the hindrance is trivial. Getting at a site with fake personal info is much less hindring than paying for a hardcopy source. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 14:42, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
Why do people always compare register/pay to view sites with the effort/cost of buying a book?... To me it compares more to going to a library... you don't have to register unless you want to check something out and take it home, and it is usually free. I am not saying register/pay sites are completely off limits, but I do think they are lower in the range of reliablility than other sources. Blueboar 15:03, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
You and I don't often see eye-to-eye on ATT-related matters, so just as a handshake: Well said. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 12:57, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
For full use most libraries require you to be a local taxpayer (or a tuiton-paying student). The NY Times service is free--after you pay your internet provider that is. Rjensen 15:08, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

The New York Times is always (with the usual caveats) I suppose a fine source. If an article is published, it's published. Hiding it behind a registration or a "pay to view" option after x months should never be disqualifying. You can always microfiche it, if you feel like it. Any implication that only "immediately available" or "handily available" sources are OK is nutty. :) Old english tomes from the 15th century may be fine sources, but given I'll likely never be in England or able to read ye Olde English doesn't mean that they aren't good sources... same idea. Or, given I can't read Cyrillic, doesn't exclude Russian sources, etc. - Denny 15:35, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

A proper and complete newspaper citation does not require a hyperlink. As long as the publisher, date, author, and title (and page number if available) is there, it is a good cite. Someone viewing the citation at a library computer can go right over to the reference desk and look that article up. That is the essence of verifiability. Humans were writing proper citations long before any electronic media existed. A hyperlink in the citation of a brick and mortar newspaper is simply a convenience. Whether it is free, free registration, or pay per article does not matter. - Crockspot 17:33, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Correct. As long as all of the information is provided so that the article can be found in a library (article title, publisher, date, and author when available), the link is merely a courtesy. As to whether the NY Times itself is reliable, that's another topic. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:37, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Newspaper/mag citations that only cite the online copy[edit]

One of my pet peeves is a direct inline hyperlink to a RS news article that does not include any info but the link. If that article gets moved to a new URL, it can be very difficult to relocate without anything but a hyperlink to go by. Although sometimes there are good clues in the URL itself, such as a date or author name in the directory structure. Yahoo news links are notorious for going dead, and providing few clues. - Crockspot 19:58, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Right; that's why I hound every WP:FAC about full and complete biblio info on sources, and completing blue link refs. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:11, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
It's an increasingly thorny issue, though - some "mainstream news media" articles only exist in online copies. As far as I can determine, the pretty darned reliable BBC News articles available at the BBC website do not exist in any other form. There is no BBC newspaper or magazine. I definitely ack. Crockspot's point, but this is more complicated than it seems, here in 2007... — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 12:57, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Blogs as evidence of actual usage[edit]

I propose this addition: Note that these posts can be used to provide examples of common word usage, regarding for example slang words or newly invented words or new meanings for old words. In that regard they serve the purpose of a vocabulary clipping file. When dealing with new words lexicographers look for actual quotations showing how the word is used by ordinary people. The blogs are excellent sources for common ordinary usage of new words, slang words, and the like. That is they don't give a definition of the word (only reliable sources do that), but they use the word and thus the lexicographer takes notes. For 100 years they have been using sources like letters to newspapers, which are like blogs. Rjensen 20:08, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

While I am somewhat sympathetic to this proposal, and would have supported it wholeheartedly a year ago, I have to say that terms used on blogs, if they really catch on, eventually make it into reliable sources. For example Moonbat. It used to be a blog term, but now is in use regularly by two Boston Globe columnists, as well as numerous notable pundits. We also need to be careful about BLP and notability. Joe Blogger's myspace page attacking a third party should never be allowed. Michelle Malkin's blog using the term Bush Derangement Syndrome may already be allowable, because she is a notable columnist, and her blog posts may be used, as long as she is not attacking third party. If the term is truly notable, it will show up in reliable sources eventually. I think the benefits of patience far outweigh the consequences of opening a pandora's box for short-term gain. - Crockspot 20:30, 6 April 2007 (UTC)
I would agree with Crokspot. If a term that originated in a blog is notable enough to be worthy of inclusion in Wikipedia, it will have been used in other media. For the few words that gain notablility purely in the blogsphere, I think we would need to show usage beyond just one or two blogs. Joe blogger may come up with a wonderful neologism... doesn't make it notable. Finally, I think we need to remember that WP:NOT says Wikipedi is not a dictionary... I would think that much of what we are discussing is more appropriately placed at Wiktionary. Blueboar 13:06, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
I was not thinking of new terms invented on blogs. The debate started over how the word "Yankee/Yank" was used. The dictionaries do not have citations from recent decades but the blogs have current usage. So let me propose this: I propose this addition: Note that these posts can be used to provide examples of everyday word usage, regarding for example slang words or new meanings for old words. In that regard they serve the purpose of a vocabulary clipping file. Rjensen 13:31, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
I think the arguments above apply to new usages for old words as well. If the new usage is notable enough for inclusion, it will appear in multiple sources and probably appear beyond the blogsphere. Blueboar 13:53, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
Consider this: If you need to collect primary sources to justify a point then you are likely engaging in OR and are possibly violating NPOV. Just be careful. We need to let others make the points for us. ---J.S (T/C/WRE) 14:20, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
This is the collection of anecdotes, which would be dubious historiography, to say nothing of encyclopedic standards. We call it indiscriminate collection of information. Let some researcher do it, and publish in a learned journal; then see if he gets shot down. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:09, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Commentators who are Pressured/Asked to Revise/Clarify their Public Comments[edit]

I have a technical and administrative question regarding one paragraph in the criticism section on the Debito Arudou entry. Apologies to those who may think this background is unnecessary. On 25 October 2005, the Japan Times published an interview with author Alex Kerr. In one of the questions, the interviewer specifically asks Kerr about the political activist activities of the WP subject, Debito Arudou. Kerr responded critically of Arudou's tactics as a form of conflict resolution, while still acknowledging positively "that gaijin and their gaijin ways are now part of Japan's new civil society." Seeing how (1) it was critical (and therefore appropriate for the criticism section), (2) published in a mainstream newspaper, and (3) not original research (a clear WP policy requirement), the WP article was edited to include a brief synoposis of Kerr's criticisms and concerns, being sure to (1) document the source for the reader for further reference, and (2) include specific quotes from that interview for flavor. Like it or not, a publicly verifiable criticism was made. Yesterday, the subject of the criticism (understandably) seized an opportunity on the coattails of another blogger to publicly criticize Kerr's commentary on his own personal blog and e-mail distribution lists, perhaps to force a retraction. For the subject's criticisms of Kerr, see: "Alex Kerr falls into 'Guestism' arguments with unresearched arguments" at <>. Apparently, Kerr responded. However, the editing questions are now many: (1) the alleged clarification was posted on the subject's personal blog (is this considered a self-serving and unacceptable source?), (2) the subject himself, claiming to post on behalf of Alex Kerr, posted the reply (is this still considered reliable?), (3) the clarification still points out that, in Kerr's experience, these confrontational tactics do not work while clarifying the comment to read "no doubt that a stronger, more direct approach is appropriate [in the subject's case.]" (not necessarily a retraction, but a clarification?) and (4) both the subject and (apparently) Kerr are publicly asking their friends and supporters to "amend that Wikipedia article to indicate that [Kerr] wholly support[s] [the subject's] activities and [his] methods."

What to do?

1. Ignore the WP subject's personal blog entry and the posted clarification for the problems stated above?

2. Somehow request on the subject's WP talk page that a clarification be sent by Kerr to the Letters page of the Japan Times where the criticisms were original published for reliable accuracy?

3. Completely delete all mention of the initial public criticism? (No doubt this option is what some WP subjects would prefer)

4. Append another brief footnote to the initial criticism mentioning that, due to public criticism from the WP subject, actvisit Debito Arudou, on [such and such date], Alex Kerr responded on [such and such date] and then attach a hyperlink to the WP subject's personal blog comments where Kerr's clarifications may be found?

Any advice on how to proceed would be much appreciated? J Readings 19:05, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

A subjects personal blog is authoritative for what his views are at the time of posting. If he makes two contradictory statements at different times, they are each authoritative for the time posted. We cannot speculate for why he may have changed his opinion. If the matter is significant enough to warrant the detail, quote the claimed original statement and the claimed retraction and keep both. Do not rewrite history, and do not let the subject rewrite it. Any sensible reader will understand the possible self-serving nature of a person's own statements. (I am discussing the general question--I have deliberately not looked at the article in question.) DGG 06:56, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
Thank you for the thoughtful reply, DGG. Let me apologize again if this venue was inappropriate for the type of question asked. I followed your general advice and added the new information to the article. That said, I have to confess I'm still uneasy about using the subject's personal blog as a reliable source. It seems very self-serving. Best, J Readings 17:46, 10 April 2007 (UTC)[edit]

Would this qualify as a reliable source? Are page on the site dayd that it has some users contributing to the site, of course since there is an oversight process this wouldn't necessary disqualify it from being reliable. Aaron Bowen 23:15, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Hello? Aaron Bowen 14:56, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
The site itself is not automatically reliable or unreliable. SOME of it's material is reviewed, but some is open editing. So it depends on what is being cited... a review of a show by a "trusted editor" is probably reliable. A comment made by joe blow on a show's forum or blog page would not be. Blueboar 15:38, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, I know IMDb isn't considered relaible, that's why I asked. Aaron Bowen 15:52, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

A case in point: A book review by a professional[edit]

A Ms. Daisy wrote a book. A Mr. Smith, who is a retired Prof. of Psychology, has reviewed this book for a popular magazine (not a scientific publication). In his review, Mr. Smith gave an assessment of Ms. Daisy's personality based on the book.

A dispute has erupted in the talk page of the article devoted to Ms. Daisy over whether Mr. Smith's review is a reliable source for an assessment of Ms. Daisy's personality.

  • One side claims assessing people's characters is part and parcel of Mr. Smith's profession; hence his review is a reliable source.
  • The other side points out that the review is not an academic article and it probably did not undergo a scientific editorial scrutiny, as customary in academic publications; hence it should be taken as expressing Mr. Smith's personal opinion, which should not be valued more than any other person's opinion.

What do you think? Itayb 13:09, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

I would lean towards not including Mr. Smith's review. It could well have issues with WP:BLP. That said, it does seem as if the review passes the basic reliablility test... It was published in a mainstream magazine, and thus is attributable/verifiable. And given that Mr. Smith is supposedly a professor of Phychology, his assessment of Ms. Daisy's personality has some degree of expertese behind it. If you must include it (to balance the NPOV of the article, for example), I would make sure it is clearly stated to be Prof. Smith's opinion and not stated as undisputed fact. Blueboar 13:25, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
Oh, Ms. Daisy has been blissfully decomposing in the ground for quite some time now. Itayb 13:34, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
In that case, I would be hesitant, but probably lean towards acceptance. That said, it is impossible to make definitive statements about a source without knowing the details. To make a real determination, I would need to know a lot more info, ... what is the reputation of Dr. Smith? Is his methodology considered Fringe, or is it accepted by the mainstream?... What is the context of the article in which his statement appears?... What is the reputation of the magazine?... etc. etc. Blueboar 15:45, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Dr. Smith has impeccable reputation in his field, and the methodology he had been employing in his academic publications is well entrenched in the mainstream.
  • The magazine, where the review was published, is a mouthpiece for a political party. Ms. Daisy's book touches on politics.
  • The article is written in an unmistakably informal style and takes an unambiguous position (sympathetic or not) towards the book and its author.
  • Dr. Smith's review is introduced in the "Ms. Daisy" article thus: "In 19XX, Dr. Smith, reviewing Ms. Daisy's then latest book Controversial Musings, remarked that ...", where the words "Dr. Smith" link to the Wikipedia article devoted to Dr. Smith. Itayb 16:29, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
It certainly seems reliable as a hypothetical ... but again, the devil is always in the details, and as they relate to the specific article in question they may or may not change it's actual reliability. If the quote is being challenged, I would assume that there is more going on here than you have related (Political POV issues, perhaps?) ... you will have to hammer that out with the person making the challenge. Blueboar 17:19, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
Thank you very much for your thoughtful comments, Blueboar. I'd like to leave this thread open for a couple more days to see what other users may have to say about this case (i welcome any comment, even if it simply expresses agreement with everything you've written). :) Itayb 17:31, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Suppose Dr. Smith's words were published in a letter to the editor, rather than in a book review. Would your opinion of it change? Please explain. Itayb 06:48, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

It definitely would. Letters to the editor are usually chosen for publication because they express a particular opinion that the editorial staff feels would be of interest to the readers. However, the editorial staff does not fact check such letters. The paper or magazine does not stand behind the opinions expressed. This does not mean that letters to the editor are completely unreliable, but they are significantly less reliable than other types of sources. It is probably best to consider them "Self-Published", with all the restrictions and exemptions that this would entail. At best, I would say they might be OK when used to express the opinion of the writer, but definitely not used for any statement of fact. Blueboar 12:34, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Pre-release leaked information as a source[edit]

This wont be a problem for very long as the magazine is released in a week, but on the Grand Theft Auto IV page, information which is from a leaked issue of Game Informer magazine is being added. I've been trying to find a policy on using sources that are not officially released but I can't seem to find one. At this point all the information seems legitimate, but for a reader it is not easily verifiable as the reader cannot go out and buy the magazine to make sure it's correct. They'd have to hunt down scans on the web which I'm sure GI will start to have removed soon. Is a leaked magazine scan/photos of a printed magazine a reliable source? ●BillPP (talk|contribs) 16:37, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

In this case it's probably best to just get rid of that information for a week. No harm done by waiting.
In other cases leaked information is a judgment call. Leaked information can be reliable, eg: Pentagon Papers, or it can be rubbish. In any case, I'd treat leaked sources like a primary source. My style is to credit primary sources in the written text where for published sources I only use a simple ref tag. This gives the reader an indication of the source. SchmuckyTheCat 17:00, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
The issue here is that the leaked material has not (yet) been published... and since being published is a key component of our reliability standards, any unpublished material is by definition: un-reliable. It actually counts as Original Research. I agree with Schmucky... remove it until it comes out officially. Blueboar 17:10, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Thanks everyone for your input. I've been informed that the magazine was not leaked, but infact was delivered to a subscriber much earlier than the release date that the magazine states. I assume this changes the published status, but it still means that the material is not available to most readers of the article to verify. Is the magazine now an acceptible source? ●BillPP (talk|contribs) 18:57, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

I think this does change things. In this case we are talking about a published copy ... allbeit sent in advance of the regular shiping date. It will be verifiable to everyone else in a week, so I would say the material can probably stay if you wish. A caviat, however... Are we sure that the advanced copy will be identical to the regularly shipped version? I would hate to end up with egg on my face because they said something different. I guess it comes down to this... While I think you may keep the material ... it is a matter of judgement as to whether you should keep the material. I have to question whether it is all that important to include the material now, as if we were a newspaper out for a big "scoop". Your call. Blueboar 20:06, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
From what I've read, it's just a copy that got sent out early. Judging by the rate that material is being added to the article, I think there's a consensus to keep it as a source. Thanks for giving me your opinions on this. ●BillPP (talk|contribs) 23:41, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Interpretation of WP:RS for "criticism of X" articles[edit]

For normal wikipedia articles, we should use experts in the fields. The "criticism of X" articles are different as many notable critics do not have such qualifications. But they are notable as vocal critics. These critics sometimes make nasty accusations which in the case of the Jews could be classified as "antisemitism" or in the case of Islam as "Islamophobia". The question is whether we should include them or not. What is the exact criterion? --Aminz 06:19, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

I generally dislike "criticism of X" articles... they are far too often POV forks, and if the criticism are really notable they should be mentioned in the article on X. That said, there are some topics that need a seperate article to properly discuss criticisms... where there is enough material to justify a seperate article, and where including a full discussion of the criticisms in the main article would simply make the main article increadably long. The key is to make sure that any "criticism of X" article is presented in a NPOV manner... discussing the criticism accurately and fairly. Too many "criticism" articles become lists of "things we hate about X", when they should be dispassionate discussions about the criticims and the critics. Let me restate that... such articles should focus on the criticisms and the critics and not on X. You need to include context... do not just include what the critics say, but also discuss why they say it. You might want to discuss the history behind the criticism. You should discuss how prevalent such criticism is (is it a fringe view or one widely held)... and don't for get that NPOV means that if there are criticisms of the criticism we should discuss those as well. Blueboar 13:08, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
Exactly. If there is nothing that satisfies RS and discusses the critics and criticisms, then the article shouldnt exist. Hornplease 20:40, 12 April 2007 (UTC)
See WP:Criticism, and it's talk page entires. Jimbo opined once somewhere that criticism should be woven throughout the article, but there are valid criticism articles (think in terms of art or literature critics). My problem with many "criticism" articles/sections is that it's a POV term; what one POV-pusher terms "criticism" may be fact just facts documented to reliable sources, and often, POV-pushers push one side of the story off to separate sections or articles and call them "criticism" rather than weaving all sides of the story into a seamless whole. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:04, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Convenience links[edit]

"However, when such a link is hosted on a less reliable site, the linked version should be checked for accuracy against the original, or not linked at all if such verification is not possible."

I'm not sure this is entirely correct. A "convenience link" is not the reference itself, it is, as the name conveys, a possible aid to the reader. First of all, if we have any doubts about the veracity of the convenience link, we shouldn't be using it at all. Beyond that, in my opinion, the onus should be on the reader to decide whether they trust the contents of such a link. Caveat emptor. --kingboyk 11:02, 12 April 2007 (UTC) (See The KLF which uses convenience links, albeit at a site hosted by a Wikipedian).

I absolutely disagree. Just as it is the responsibility of the editor contributing information to provide a citation, it is the responsibility of the contributing editor to check convenience links against the original. While wikipedia does not concern itself with "truth" ... it does require accuracy (ie that we present what our sources say accurately). When we provide a convenience link, we are actually citing the original... and representing to the reader that the copy is an accurate representation of the original. The link is a conveniece to the reader (not a convenience for the contributing editor). Now, if the hosting site has a solid reputation (Project Guttenberg, for example) we can probably trust them to be intelectually honest, and to provide a reliable copy of the original.
Unfortunately, not all web sites are honest. The less than honest ones add, subtract or amend the material they are quoting, usually to further an agenda. It can be as simple as omitting an explanatory paragraph which can significantly change the meaning and intent of the original. Thus, when linking to such sites, a copy does indeed need to be checked against the original, to make sure that it has not been changed. Blueboar 13:02, 12 April 2007 (UTC)
In that case, they shouldn't be linked to at all. --kingboyk 14:50, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
The point is that if you have checked the copy against the original, and have determined that it is a "true and correct" copy, then you can link to it... no matter what the reputation of the site that is hosting it. Blueboar 14:59, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Unless there's a copyvio, which is very often the case. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:00, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

a reliable source archived in a questionable venue[edit]

Suppose a document, which had been published by a reliable source, is archived at a questionable website, such as a widely acknowledged racist site. Can the source be cited, linking to the archived version? Itayb 16:56, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

Probably... this is what is called a convenience link and the guideline discusses how best to cite it (see the section by this title in the guideline. Essentially: cite to the original, note that a copy is available at the site and provide the link). Note that you should check the archived copy against the original. POV sites such as the one you discribe have been known to ammend original documents in some way (adding commentary, omitting lines or paragraphs, or outright changing words) to further their agenda. Only link to the copy if you are sure that it is accurate to the original. Blueboar 17:25, 12 April 2007 (UTC)
1. Is your comment valid for both online and offline documents?
2. You have noted that the copy should be compared to the original, since questionable sites have been known to amend original documents. But if they are under such suspicion in the first place, is it safe to trust them not to mess around with the archived copy? Itayb 17:55, 12 April 2007 (UTC)
1) I'm not exacly sure I get what you are asking. If the original is online, there is no need to go to the archive site, just link to it directly. So by definition we are talking about an original that is not available online, and a copy that is. The point of a convenience link is that the reader does not need to go to the library or buy a book to see the original. The link is provided as a convinience to the reader so they can just to click on the link and see the document.
2) That is the point of checking... because the host is questionable, we do not trust them not to have messed around with the copy. If we can find the document online somewhere else (somewhere more reliable) we link to more trustworthy site instead. However, sometimes such questionable sites have the only online copy available, and since we may really want to use the link, we check them out to make sure. The point is that you can link to a copy hosted at a less than reliable site ... provided that you have checked and are sure the copy is identical to the original. Blueboar 19:08, 12 April 2007 (UTC)
OK, thanks, i think i understand. Itayb 19:18, 12 April 2007 (UTC)
Another opinion about this matter i've found in the archives: [1]. Itayb 19:15, 14 April 2007 (UTC)


I have removed most references to WP:ATT as it is far from clear that it is policy.

I have also restored some information which was deleted during the last couple of months while the debate over WP:ATT has been going on. Which may have been deleted because it was in WP:ATT or in the WP:ATT/FAQ. Either way I think there needs to be a debate over whether it is removed from this guideline. Specifically the scholarly sources/Non-scholarly sources. I have also separated out the merger of "Partisan, corporate, institutional and religious sources" and "Extremist sources" as I do not think that they are the same thing. Again I think this should be discussed in detail if they are to be merged. --Philip Baird Shearer 16:02, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

scholarly sources/Non-scholarly sources[edit]

Should the section "scholarly sources" be kept modified or deleted? --Philip Baird Shearer 16:02, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Should the section "Non-scholarly sources" be kept modified or deleted? --Philip Baird Shearer 16:02, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

I think you have the section headings wrong, but there is some material worthy of keeping, if re-written. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:06, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Merge Partisan, corporate, institutional and religious sources with Extremist sources[edit]

I do not think that the sections "Partisan, corporate, institutional and religious sources" and "Extremist sources" be merged. what do others think --Philip Baird Shearer 16:02, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Definitely not the same... but similar cautions should be given. Blueboar 16:56, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Biographies of living persons[edit]

"Due to the legal sensitivity of these articles as well as moral obligations, do not include anything on living persons, if you cannot find a legitimate secondary source to rely on." is a first cut at an issue arose over a section in a biography of a living person which highlighted the problem of relying on primary sources. See Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Community discussion#NOR and the entry on Christopher Michael Langan: lessons, and Talk:Christopher Michael Langan#WP:NOR - removing original research, do not re-insert unless you have a source other than original research (and other sections on that page) --Philip Baird Shearer 17:55, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Generalizing from specific photographs[edit]

Can someone please look at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject New York City Public Transportation#Subway Car Edits? Thank you. --NE2 20:11, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Update examples[edit]

What do you think about updating the rather incomplete Wikipedia:Reliable sources/examples (has it ever been approved as an official extension of the RS policy?) with text from WP:ATT/FAQ#What_kinds_of_sources_are_generally_regarded_as_reliable.3F, WP:ATT/FAQ#What_kinds_of_sources_are_generally_regarded_as_unreliable.3F and WP:ATT/FAQ#Questions_about_the_reliability_of_specific_sources?-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  20:25, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

I think that's a very good idea. Itayb 21:38, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
What about the other way around? The xamples and content of WP:ATTFAQ are far superior to that page. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:05, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

The page of WP:ATT/FAQ is extremely raw and controversial to be upgraded to a policy status. What is really behind this is an attempt to get an official policy stamp on allowing to use non-academic newsarticles as reliable sources about remote history, putting them on equal footing with peer-reviwed historic article, scholarly books and other serious academic sources. More at Talk:Przyszowice massacre. --Irpen 06:52, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

V and NOR[edit]

There was recent confusion during the discussion of ATT about the role of RS, with people thinking RS was policy, and V was something else. In fact, a lot of what people found important in RS had been copied from V and NOR. To minimize this confusion, I've removed the section from V and NOR that were repetitive (which I inserted in the first place), so that it's clear RS is a separate thing from V and NOR. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:47, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

The descriptions are not the same as this is a guideline it discusses the pieces in more detail. For example the NOR says:
Primary sources are documents or people very close to the situation being written about. An eyewitness account of a traffic accident is a primary source. United Nations Security Council resolutions are primary sources. Primary sources that have been published by a reliable source may be used in Wikipedia, but only with care, because it's easy to misuse them. For that reason, anyone—without specialist knowledge—who reads the primary source should be able to verify that the Wikipedia passage agrees with the primary source. Any interpretation of primary source material requires a secondary source.
While this version says (I have struck out the pieces which is in the NOR)
A primary source is a document or person providing direct evidence of a certain state of affairs; in other words, a source very close to the situation you are writing about. Primary sources include official reports, letters, eyewitness accounts, autobiographies, statistics compiled by authoritative agencies, court records, or other documents produced by a participant in an event, or an observer of an event.Primary sources that have been published by a reliable source may be used in Wikipedia, but only with care, because it's easy to misuse them. For that reason, anyone—without specialist knowledge—who reads the primary source should be able to verify that the Wikipedia passage agrees with the primary source. Any interpretation of primary source material requires a secondary source because experts have the resources required for interpretation, interpolation, extrapolation, or corroboration, each of which usually constitutes original research.
Now it may be that you do not think that the struck out parts should not be repeated, but what about the other parts? If this is guideline and not a policy then should it not be to an extent be a commentry on the policies? --Philip Baird Shearer 23:01, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

Sorry for the revert SV but can you please slow down and discuss the changes to each section first? --Philip Baird Shearer 23:08, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

Please don't revert. You opposed ATT. Fair enough. But now you can't also oppose one of the reasons for ATT, namely that the current three pages are a confusing mess. People don't realize that much of RS was copied from V and NOR by me. Therefore, that has to be undone. It must stand or fall on its own merits. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:06, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
And if the descriptions of policy are not the same, that is even worse, Philip. Please allow V and NOR to deal with their issues, and RS to deal with its own. Otherwise we have repetition, which is pointless, or inconsistency, which is worse than pointless. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:07, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

I did not oppose WP:ATT. I did not vote but I expressed a support for the one article approach although I was not happy with the changes (intended or otherwise) in the wording between the two.

I am not against changing this page but I think you should talk through the changes you wish to make in detail rather than making very large changes. Now what do we do with text that is in this guideline, (as is shown above), that is not in the the policies. I think that there is a need for a guideline such as this one to expand on the points made in the policy. This is what happens in the WP:NC and seems to work quite well there. --Philip Baird Shearer 07:55, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Philip, why do you keep restoring text here that is from V and NOR? There shouldn't be text here about those issue that isn't in the policies. As I said earlier, which you didn't address, repetition is pointless, and inconsistency is worse than pointless. Please address that point. SlimVirgin (talk) 15:41, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

I am sorry but do you realy mean that "There shouldn't be text here about those issue that isn't in the policies"? Guidlines frequently expand on what is written in policy articles. Without that Policy articles become bloated with details and examples. --Philip Baird Shearer 18:01, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Major-publication blogs?[edit]

An interesting question has been raised on WP:BLPN which I'd like to raise here as well for some input. Numerous major media outlets such as newspapers and broadcasters have established their own blogs to serve as a sort of 24/7 op-ed page. One of the best developed examples that I know of is the UK Guardian's Commentisfree blog. It's clearly run with editorial oversight, which makes sense given that legal liability issues apply just as much to a blog as to a dead tree publication. On the other hand, some other newspaper or journal blogs such as National Review's The Corner blog give no indication that they're subject to editorial oversight. So it would seem that we have two categories of mainstream media blogs - those that are explicitly overseen by editorial staffs, and those for whom there's no evidence of editorial oversight.

How do we deal with this distinction? Should we accept major-publication blogs as a source if they are subject to editorial oversight? In practical terms, what's the distinction between such blogs and conventional print-format op-ed pages? Are non-editorially overseen media blogs truly self-published if the actual publisher is a reputable media outlet? -- ChrisO 23:06, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

I think if they are subject to editorial oversight, they are reliable - it doesn't matter how the information is published, but how reliable it is.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  02:48, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
But how do we express that? We could say only "personal blogs" are not allowed, but that doesn't deal with the distinction between blogs that are edited by newspaper staff and those that aren't. How do we tell when they are and aren't edited anyway? SlimVirgin (talk) 02:53, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
How about something like: "Articles published on blogs maintained by newspapers, such as the Guardian's Comment is free section, [2] may be used as source material so long as the newspaper states explicitly on its site that the blog is subject to editorial oversight. [3] Readers' comments on such blogs may never be used as sources." SlimVirgin (talk) 02:58, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
I like that formulation. Can we tweak it a little? I'd suggest the following wording to clarify a couple of points (changes highlighted in bold): "Articles published on blogs maintained by broadcasters and newspapers, such as the Guardian's Comment is free section, [4] may be used as source material so long as the media outlet states on its site that the blog is subject to editorial oversight. [5] Where there is no statement of editorial oversight, such sources may not be used. Readers' comments on such blogs may never be used as sources." -- ChrisO 19:47, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Judging sources[edit]

Hi Ms Virgin,

You are apparently famous. I have seen your name around.

Regarding this edit, I do not think I agree with you. I hope you will give my argument fair consideration.

I think that as editors, people must use judgment about sources. I think it is not unreasonable to consider various factors in that review. For example a very old cited and researched article might be overcome by something more recent. The age of the article becomes relevant. But that was one of the things you removed, saying "No original research". I do not think it is the same as original research to use editorial oversight and judgment. --Blue Tie 23:07, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

I'm sure that section could be written to make it accurate, but as it stood it was very misleading. For example, that an academic may be reliable in his own field but in any other: an article on chemistry in the New York Times written by an physicist, or by a cleaning lady, is regarded as reliable in virtue of its being published by the NYT. The section encouraged editors to reject that on the grounds of authorship. Best to continue this on the talk page. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:12, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
And all sources are biased. Bias is not a reason to reject a source, or discuss the bias or anything like that. Only extremist sources are excluded. And so on. A deeply problematic section likely to cause more problems that it solves. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:14, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
I think both of you are making valid points and it is because of this that a section like this is useful particularly for those who have not had the benefits of a university education and so have been taught how to assess sources for reliability. --Philip Baird Shearer 23:33, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
But it would have to be written properly. As it stood, it would have created more confusion than it cleared up. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:03, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
  • I disagree with Slim's removal of large sections of this guideline and think that it should be put back. Anyone else? semper fictilis 02:28, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Those sections are in V and NOR, and there are links to them on this page. It is causing confusion to reproduce text from the policies here. It also leads to the possibility of people editing them and making them inconsistent with the policies. The people who maintain the policies can't be expected to have to monitor this page too to check that no one has done that. Please continue to develop this page without relying on copying material from V and NOR. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:31, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Or if you mean the non-scholarly sources section, it was inconsistent with policy. It would have to be written properly to make sure it didn't contradict what was said elsewhere, and also to make sure it's factually accurate and well-written. As it stood, it gave some odd advice. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:32, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

I found the section useful in a recent debate. Currently the RS policy doesn't state if non-scholarly publications are reliable or not - for example, there is no answer to a simple question: "Are newspapers articles acceptable sources or not".-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  02:51, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

If you want to write such a section, by all means have a go, but that section as it stood really was very problematic. Everything in here must be consistent, in letter and in spirit, with V and NOR. The current version does say that non-scholarly sources are reliable, by the way. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:00, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Where? Neither I nor a collegue could find that part (other than by extrapolating from the existing section on non-scholarly sources). Honestly, RS is not very useful in practice - per my comments in #Update_examples. It's great theory, but when it comes to discussing whether a source is reliable or not, with the exception of obvious stuff - academic publications are good, self-published sources are bad - it's very very murky. Instead of tweaking wording (verifiability not truth... link reliable to RS or not...who cares, really) we should make sure the policy has good examples and is actually useful for editors.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  03:41, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
I agree. It's a pointless page. Many of us have been saying that for a long time. The problem with it has been that, whenever anyone has tried to write a useful section about how to use sources, how to spot they're reliable, and so on, they haven't understood the content policies, and so they've ended up contradicting them.
The section you were looking for is here SlimVirgin (talk) 04:58, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

"in articles about themselves"[edit]

This seems like a rather rigid way to view undue weight. There are many levels of weight, and limitting usage of a source to the article about itself is just one of them. Usage of extremist sources should be limitted, but I believe it is basically a matter of a) only using them as primary sources for their own opinions, which of course need to be phrased as indirect statements (WP:NPOV#Attributing_and_substantiating_biased_statements) and b) not giving their opinions undue weight (WP:NPOV#Undue_weight). We could provide more guidance on how much weight is due weight, but its more of a scale than just "in articles about themselves".

Armed Blowfish (mail) 03:45, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

When you say it's a rigid way to view undue weight, I'm not quite clear what you mean — particularly what you mean by "it." The self-published source section is in V anyway, rather than here, and it's only talking about when self-published sources may be used. It's not connected to undue weight, at least not directly. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:39, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, I was referring to Wikipedia:Reliable sources#Extremist_sources. [6] I guess what I am saying probably applies to self-published sources as well, but that's really a different - if overlapping - kind of low reliability. Self-published sources nearly always rank very low on the due weight scale, in my opinion. — Armed Blowfish (mail) 04:49, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Can you think of an example where an extremist source would be used as a third-party source? SlimVirgin (talk) 04:55, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Suppose an article was discussing philosophical views of suicide. The libertarians, a noteworthy extremist group, have rather non-standard views on that, namely right-to-die. A libertarian source discussing this would be a first-party source for it's own opinion on the matter. However, it would be a third-party source on the topic of suicide. Although it can be used as a primary source for the opinion of the libertarian author anywhere, it would only qualify as being "in an article about itself" in an article about the author, the author's publisher, or perhaps if we stretched it articles about libertarian views. This would prevent the source from being used in a philosophical views on suicide article. — Armed Blowfish (mail) 05:06, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Libertarians aren't widely regarded as extremists. :-) The section is referring to extremist groups, or widely acknowledged extremist ideologies (neo-Nazism, for example). SlimVirgin (talk) 05:10, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Depends on the Libertarian, doesn't it? Suppose that an extremely doctrinaire anarcho-Libertarian (pick your line of extremism; I'd pick opposition to public streets, but it's up to you) had a new twist on right-to-die, which got a notable amount of attention.
It is possible to define "extremist" such that any extremist must be so rare that recognizing him is undue weight; but then we don't need a section on extremists - undue weight covers it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:33, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Bear in mind, too, that a source can be a person or it can be a publication. A neo-Nazi could be given a Guardian column and then we could use him. That's unlikely to happen, of course, for the same reason that we don't use them as sources. So a libertarian philosopher could be used as a source because he's in a mainstream university and being published by mainstream publishers, even if you personally regard him as extremist. SlimVirgin (talk) 05:13, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
A libertarian author might be published on a mainstream libertarian site, like or (The second is technically an anarchist website. The site owner, Jeremy Sapienza, stresses that not all anarchists are libertarian.) If so, they might be trusted to represent a libertarian viewpoint, if nothing else. That said, libertarian belief in free speech might stand in the way of an extensive peer review process.
Anway, as you don't consider libertarianism extremist, I guess a Neo-nazi perspective might be of interest in an article about eugenics. There is a lot of commentary about nazism, although I hope there are few followers.
Armed Blowfish (mail) 05:27, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
A neo-Nazi viewpoint wouldn't be acceptable in an article about eugenics. That's the point of the no-extremists provision. SlimVirgin (talk) 05:29, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
But again, you're looking at it in the wrong way. The question is always: who is the source? If a person (publishing wherever), is he a specialist, widely acknowledged, published by third-party publications, and so on? If a publication, is it known, does it have good editorial oversight, a fact-checking process, and so on? We don't look at sources only in terms of their ideologies. SlimVirgin (talk) 05:31, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
If so, why need that statement at all? How does one identify an extremist source? I don't think that should be left to the individual editors on contentious pages, as it leads to the kind of special pleading that harms the encyclopaedia. Hornplease 20:24, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
As worded, we couldn't quote the literature of the Lebensborn movement in the article on eugenics either, even though letting the Nazis describe themselves is often the clearest and swiftest way to inform the reader about just how bad they were. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:44, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict: Septentrionalis seems to know more about the topic of Nazism than I do, but since I already wrote this I'm posting it anyway.) Actually, an original Nazi perspective would probably be more relevant than a Neo-Nazi one. (To my knowledge, the Neo-Nazis are not carrying out eugenics programs.) See Eugenics#Eugenics_and_the_state.2C_1890s.E2.80.931945. Suppose an editor was researching the eugenics programs in Nazi Germany. Since a source cannot be trusted to accurately represent a viewpoint it is opposed to, and I assume all of the secondary sources would be opposed to the Nazi's eugenics programs, the editor looks through the references list of a history book and finds a primary document written by a high-level Nazi soldier defending the eugenics program. I'm not sure what sorts of publications the Nazis had, but the soldiers rank might give him some sort of expert status in relation to Nazi opinions. (Not published by the secondary source, but cited by it.) Should this be used? The events of the Neo-Nazi eugenics program deserve some weight - do not the motivations behind them deserve a little weight as well?
Armed Blowfish (mail) 05:52, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Actually, this is from a book on eugenics, War against the Weak, which I read relatively recently, and commend. (The Lebensborn article could use serious work, by the way; it claims, without sources, that the Aryan breeding program never happened.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:34, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Doesn't the "extremist" clause partly disagree with the NPOV policy? And whatever value is in this clause is already covered by the V and NPOV policies, isn't it? I suggest it be deleted. Itayb 08:06, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Seems reasonable. There is, however, a point here: We should mention in WP:RS that extremist literature is rarely peer-reviewed, and is almost always of extremely limited reliability except perhaps on the group that produced it. That's a valid rule of thumb, appropriate to a guideline. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:34, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
We should also point the reader to WP:FRINGE, as in many cases extreminst literature falls under that category. Blueboar 14:40, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

I've reworded. I seem to have edit-conflicted with someone who points out that "extremist" is an attack phrase, and we don't want to have Position X find someone on their side who says that Position Y is extremist, and then purge Position Y from Wikipedia. This is a valid warning; but I think there is consensus of the sources (in our sense) that the neo-Nazis are in fact extremist. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:57, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Spetentrionalis, i appreciate your efforts, but i think your new formulation didn't really improve the situation. Firstly, the term "extremist" is too vague, in my opinion. Secondly, this section makes very strong generalizations, without supplying reasons:
Organizations and individuals that are widely acknowledged as extremist [...] produce literature which is often{{weasel-inline}} defensive and rarely{{weasel-inline}} reviewed by any independent authority. It is normally{{weasel-inline}} of extremely{{pov-statement}} limited reliability, except perhaps on the group itself; even there, claims about the groups' history and purpose are often{{weasel-inline}} non-consensus.{{fact}}
I don't see the practical utility an editor can extract from this paragraph, and i think this formulation does not encourage neutrality. I think it should be deleted.
I understand the distress people feel when faced with the prospect that ideologies/organizations which they find objectionable, such as racism/Nazism or El-Qaeda, will find their way into Wikipedia. But in my opinion, silencing these opinions merely on political grounds, which is, in my opinion, what the extremist clause is encouraging, is against NPOV. Itayb 15:30, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
I agree with cutting the section entirely... the fact is, citations to such sources can usually be eliminated for a host of other reasons... the Self-Published clause of WP:V, WP:Fringe, The synth clause of WP:NOR, WP:NPOV#Undue_weight, just to name a few. If none of the existing policies and guidelines apply... the source is probably not all that extreme and should be included in the article. If we must have a section on extremist sources (perhaps due to the "What happened to the section on X? I found it so useful..." revert principle - ie it has been part of the guideline for so long that someone will come by and revert the removal no matter what we do)... then let's simplify it considerabley. Blueboar 16:07, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
I would prefer to have something over nothing, but I'd rather have nothing over the most recent mess that was put up. My own preference would be simply to say: "Organizations and individuals widely acknowledged as extremist should be used only as sources about themselves and their activities in articles about themselves, and even then with caution." And then expect editors to use their common sense regarding what "widely acknowledged as extremist" means. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:34, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Since editors are expected to use their common sense regarding what "widely acknowledged as extremist" means, and all this sentence says is: "Don't use sources widely acknowledged as extremist", then we might as well write: "Always use your common sense." and be done with it. Itayb 16:52, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

I think, as should be clear, that weasel words are appropriate to assertions in Wikipedia space. To say or imply always or never is often false, but to supply exact figures and examples as to how many "peer-reviewed" journals are organs almost universally regarded as extremist (there are some) would be a waste of space here. But if it doesn't meet Itayb's objections, I repeat, fine: away with it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:56, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Neutral Point of View#Undue_weight is rather vague when it comes to determining exactly what due weight is. Couldn't we write something that provides more guidance on that? — Armed Blowfish (mail) 01:42, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Quoting religious sources[edit]

If I write in an article that "Holy Book ABC says ____ in chapter 30:22" -- this is okay, correct? We're just quoting a religious source. What is the way to go about this? Some users are protesting that this is "Primary Source" and should be removed and I disagree. We're simply quoting what the religious source says. What are the procedures to do this correctly? Quote it exactly as it is in quotes? --Matt57 (talkcontribs) 13:35, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

It is absolutely OK to quote from such texts... they are a perfect example of the proper use of a primary source. However, some warnings do apply. First, you must be careful that you are not using the quote to imply a conclusion that would be considered Original Research. Any interpretation of what the text says or means should be backed by a reliable secondary source. Second, if there are differing versions of the text (the different translations of the Bible, for example) you should note any significant differences between the versions (a nice way to deal with this is to quote several or all of the differing versions)... this is especially true if there is controversy over the language of the translation. Finally, care must be taken to ensure that a NPOV tone is taken. Blueboar 13:59, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Well, frequently, quoting religious sources is done by someone who is critical of the text, or who favours the text so I dont know if it can be NPOV. For example if Holy Book X says "cut the hands off a thief", then I might want to say something like "Book X says that thieve's hands should be cut off ref". People who rever the text might say thats out of context etc. But thanks, you did say that we can quote the text. The only issue then possible could be how its quoted. --Matt57 (talkcontribs) 14:48, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
SIMPLY quoting the text is not OR, or POV etc. Commenting on it could well be. Blueboar 16:09, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. --Matt57 (talkcontribs) 16:35, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

This is the 2nd time that Matt57 has pulled something like this. Please see User_talk:Bbatsell#A_small_question_about_blocked_users, where initially, Matt57 asked his question in such a vague way in order to the admin to agree with him, and then proceeded to use this as an argument to push his POV. Then, when the admin in question found out, he chastised Matt57 for being disingenuous. I am afraid that the same problem is happening here. You see, Matt57 is not merely quoting religious text, he is interpreting it as well. See this:

That is the citation appended to "big breasts" in the 72 virgins article. Where does that say big breasts? That is called original research, and by agreeing with matt57, that is what you are unduly supporting.--ĶĩřβȳŤįɱéØ 00:41, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

I have agreed with another user that we can use "voluptious" - thats the word used in the Quran. I will revert your deletion some time later with the exact Quranic words used. --Matt57 (talkcontribs) 00:54, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
so do you admit that your edits consisted of original research as well as deception? Thanks.--ĶĩřβȳŤįɱéØ 00:57, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
It wasnt. The word Kawaib means swollen breasts in Arabic. But if you want to use words of the translators who have obviouslt softened the meanings, we can use those. We have to use reliable sources, I agree. I will restore the article and infact, hopefully we can include secondary sources that talk about the different interpretations of this text. You should restore the original 72 virgins hadith infact. That was sourced. Please dont removed sourced text.--Matt57 (talkcontribs) 01:12, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
"Kawaib" doesn't mean anything by itself. You use original research to give it a meaning. Also, verse 34 does not contain that word. Neither does verse 33. The verse uses the word "WakawaAAiba", which means something different. Just admit you used original research.--ĶĩřβȳŤįɱéØ 01:28, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
Matt57, do you know Arabic? who told you that Kawa`ib means "swollen breasts"? that would literally render the verse: "And swollen breasts for companions." i think the website has made a mistake or something, Y. Ali translated 78:33 as: "Companions of equal age", ("The Holy Quran" (2000) Yusuf Ali, p. 521, 78:33 ISBN 1853267821) Pickthall translates it as: "And maidens for companions", (cf. [7]) and a machine translation of that verse similarly renders it as "And maidens for companions." in any case, this discussion is becoming extraneous to the purpose of this talk page. ITAQALLAH 01:38, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
Lets continue this debate else where. We're done with this page. --Matt57 (talkcontribs) 03:15, 17 April 2007 (UTC)


The problem this guideline has had from day one is the poor quality of the writing, and the lack of clarity of thought. We're in the top ten websites and editors come to these pages looking for advice, yet all we deliver is a confusing mish-mash of imprecise, poorly expressed personal opinion. Example:

Organizations and individuals that are widely acknowledged as extremist, whether for political, religious or anti-religious, racist, or other extremism, produce literature which is often defensive and rarely reviewed by any independent authority. It is normally of extremely limited reliability, except perhaps on the group itself; even there, claims about the groups' history and purpose are often non-consensus. Use with caution; and see also WP:FRINGE.

Do remember, however, that "extremist" is a common pejorative. Deciding that a group is extremist should require the same wide consensus of authority as making an assertion as a fact, in Wikipedia's voice.

  • (1) What does: " produce literature that is often defensive" mean?
    • defensive:.."Of a person, attitude, expression, etc.: self-protective, defiant, ready to reject criticism."
      • I didn't ask what the word meant. I asked what this means: "produce literature that is often defensive." SlimVirgin (talk) 17:23, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
        • "produce literature that is often self-protective, defiant, and which rejects criticism"
            • Couldn't you have said that then? And that's not the problem with these groups. The problem is when they attack others, not when they defend themselves. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:30, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
              • Use six words instead of one for the same meaning? No, thank you; that way lies bureaucratese. I don't think our guidelines need cater for editors who don't know plain English words like "defensive". Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:56, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
                • You don't write in plain English. And you do use more than six words where one would do. That's mostly the problem, or else the one you choose is the wrong one. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:05, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Could you expand on that accusation, if it is indeed relevant? It makes no sense in this context. Hornplease 20:30, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
  • (2) What is wrong with "defensive literature," whatever it is?
    • It is always PoV, by definition; quite often dishonestly so, misquoting the opponents and the facts, and omitting anything which may be said against the group, even if admitted in the group's internal discussion.
      • What is "defensive literature"? How is it more POV than any other kind? SlimVirgin (talk) 17:23, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
        • See above paraphrase. Have you really never looked at the literature of an extremist group? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:43, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
          • I'm not asking about matters of fact here, but about the writing, which is very unclear. There are better ways to express these ideas. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:30, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
  • (3) What is an "independent authority"?
    • an authority or source independent of the group in question.
      • No, what is it in this context? SlimVirgin (talk) 17:23, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
        • That's what it is in this context.
  • (4) Must the New York Times be "reviewed by an independent authority" every day before publication, before we can use it as a source?
    • It has internal systems of review, which include (or should include) an element of devil's advocacy. It is also externally reviewed by its competition and press critics; if the Times gets things wrong, there will be a source that says so within 24 hours (and they will often print a correction)
      • An internal system of review isn't independent. As for your claim that all their mistakes are exposed by others, that is patent nonsense. You're saying it has never made an error that wasn't noticed? SlimVirgin (talk) 17:23, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
        • No, I didn't weasel-word this sentence; I indicated a distinction of kind at some length; it is (as usual) really a distinction of degree. I do not claim (does SlimVirgin?) that any source is absolutely reliable. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:43, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
          • Now you've lost me. Can you give me an example of an "independent authority" who might be conducting these reviews? SlimVirgin (talk) 20:30, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
            • Rather than finding one of the real examples, consider a hypothetical Journal of Aryan Studies, which peer-reviews its articles. It would have to pick its reviewers carefully to get any printable replies at all, but it need not, quite, pick neo-Nazis. (This is easier for les thoroughly discredited extremisms; but the neo-Nazis are the example we're using.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:39, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
              • No, could you please give a real example? SlimVirgin (talk) 21:05, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
  • (5) What does "Claims about the groups' history and purpose are often non-consensus" mean?
    • "disputed by a consensus of other sources", but that would have been clumsy.
  • (6) Must all claims cited in Wikipedia be "consensus," whatever it means?
    • All assertions which do not have a prose attribution or acknowledgment of an opposing views should be opposed by nobody or by sources which it would be undue weight to mention. See WP:UNDUE for more.
      • I'm sorry but that sentence is incomprehensible. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:23, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
  • (7) Deciding that a group is extremist "should require the same consensus of authority ...": which consensus is that? Might it mean the same thing as "widely acknowledged as extremist," which is already in the first sentence?
    • No, it is stronger. See WP:CONSENSUS for the definition being applied here. For "Widely accepted" see, among others, WP:NCGN - a more limited concept, which a bare plurality might fulfill.
      • It isn't stronger! You're making this up as you go along. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:23, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
        • I'm not the one making things up as she goes along. Touch Slim Virgin's prose and she engages in reversions and personal attacks; I should have expected this, I'm not the first. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:43, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
          • Stop this. The writing was awful by any standard. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:30, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
It wasn't really that awful. Perhaps a step back is in order here. Other people might have something to say about it as well. Hornplease 20:30, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
            • I am overwhelmed by SV's civility, as by the breadth of her vocabulary and her command of syntax. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:56, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
              • I'm sorry. I don't know how else to say. I've said it politely before but the point wasn't taken, and so it has to be said explicitly. These policies and guidelines must be well-written. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:05, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
  • (8) "as making an assertion as a fact"?? I can't parse it.
  • (9) And then the final clause, tacked on as an afterthought: "in Wikipedia's voice." Again, I can't parse it, so it's not clear what it's trying to say.
    • Both seem perfectly grammatical to me.
      • Then I don't know what to say to you. It is a very badly written sentence, gramatically all over the place. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:23, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Compare it to what was there before the edit.

Organizations and individuals that are widely acknowledged as extremist, whether of a political, religious or anti-religious, racist, or other nature, should be used only as sources about themselves and their activities in articles about themselves, and even then with caution.

Please someone explain to me how the former improved the latter. SlimVirgin (talk) 15:32, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

By making it considerably clearer, and attempting to get within the box of what people mean by 'extremist', so the policy isnt thrown around by irresponsible editors. Hornplease 20:30, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
It has been restored without any explanation as to what it means. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:10, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Has Slim Virgin read the discussion above, in which the version she is so prose-proud of is questioned by several editors? I offered a compromise in the hope it might save the point, and still answer their objections. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:47, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

I find it difficult to believe that an experienced Wikipedia editor is in good faith unable to understand "defensive", "independent", "consensus", and "voice"; but the civil reaction is to tweak either the new text or the old, in the hope of converging to compromise, not reversion. The answers above are mine, where unsigned. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:47, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Please answer the questions. If you want to defend this version, you have to explain what it means. I can't tweak what I can't understand. Look at this explanation of yours, for example "All assertions which do not have a prose attribution or acknowledgment of an opposing views should be opposed by nobody or by sources which it would be undue weight to mention." It is completely meaningless. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:23, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Let me try again; I was taught to write conditional sentences as such, but it can be broken down further. On a talk page, I was not expecting to have rigor required in this fashion.
"If no source opposes a given assertion, there's no problem with it. If the sources that oppose it are so few that it would be undue weight to mention, still no problem. Other statements are significantly opposed, and should either have a prose attribution to a specific source, or should be accompanied by acknowledgement of opposing views." All this (all a restatement of policy) to explain "consensus", used in the sense of WP:CONSENSUS, but applied to sources, not to editors. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:37, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
No, look, we need to settle this. It's not a question of being rigorous. This sentence is, as a matter of hard, cold fact, meaningless:
All assertions which do not have a prose attribution or acknowledgment of an opposing views should be opposed by nobody or by sources which it would be undue weight to mention.
The guideline must not be written like this. Your explanation is slightly better, but confusing, long-winded, and ill-formed gramatically:
If no source opposes a given assertion, there's no problem with it. If the sources that oppose it are so few that it would be undue weight to mention, still no problem. Other statements are significantly opposed, and should either have a prose attribution to a specific source, or should be accompanied by acknowledgement of opposing views." All this (all a restatement of policy) to explain "consensus", used in the sense of WP:CONSENSUS, but applied to sources, not to editors.
You still have to struggle to understand it. I don't see the point of writing this way when it could be so much simpler and clearer. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:49, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Are you trying to say something like this? "Prose attribution is recommended for contentious material, and opposing views should be cited alongside it." SlimVirgin (talk) 17:52, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
No. What I was trying to say was "consensus", in the sense of WP:CONSENSUS, but applied to sources instead of editors. All else has been efforts to explain on the fly to SlimVirgin's real or pretended failure to understand. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:03, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Simple, clear English like "Organizations and individuals that are widely acknowledged as extremist, whether of... other nature."? If I were as defensive as SlimVirgin, I would ask what "other nature" meant, and how it construed; but since it was obvious enough what she was trying to say here, I preferred to edit it, Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:59, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Don't tell me that I'm only pretending not to understand it! That kind of writing is unacceptable in policies and guidelines, which are meant to clarify issues, not cause more confusion. That means the people who write them must (a) understand them very well, all of them, and (b) be able to write clearly and gramatically. SlimVirgin (talk)
As for the "other nature" bit, I agree. I didn't write it, and wouldn't. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:09, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
At last, some common ground. Why, then, did you revert to it? If you had reworded it, we might have met in the middle. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:19, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
There are people who specifically wanted that list to stay. I remember the discussion, and so I left it as the least bad option that was agreed to. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:35, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Nothing could have been easier; this list was in the version you complain of; but why not fix "other nature"? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:16, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
I would have rewritten it entirely, but as I said, this was the least bad version that was agreed. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:27, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
Just caught on to this debate. To put in my two bits, I concur with SlimVirgin that the following sentence of Septentrionalis is so convoluted and opaque as to be meaningless: "All assertions which do not have a prose attribution or acknowledgment of an opposing views should be opposed by nobody or by sources which it would be undue weight to mention." As an attorney who earns a living by analyzing very complex legal rules in precise formal written English, I can say quite honestly that I would be fired if I wrote in such an ornate style which practically borders on Engrish! --Coolcaesar 06:54, 24 April 2007 (UTC)