Wikipedia talk:Verifiability

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Where should I ask whether this source supports this statement in an article?
At Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard. Don't forget to tell the editors the full name of the source and the exact sentence it is supposed to support.
Do sources have to be free, online and/or conveniently available to me?
No. Sources can be expensive, print-only, or available only in certain places. A source does not stop being reliable simply because you personally aren't able to obtain a copy. See Wikipedia:Reliable sources/cost. If you need help verifying that a source supports the material in the article, ask for help at Wikipedia:WikiProject Resource Exchange or a relevant WikiProject.
Do sources have to be in English?
No. Sources can be written in any language. However, if equally good sources in English exist, they will be more useful to our readers. If you need help verifying that a non-English source supports the material in the article, ask for help at Wikipedia:Translators available.
I personally know that this information is true. Isn't that good enough to include it?
No. Wikipedia includes only what is verifiable, not what someone believes is true. It must be possible to provide a bibliographic citation to a published reliable source that says this. Your personal knowledge or belief is not enough.
I personally know that this information is false. Isn't that good enough to remove it?
Your personal belief or knowledge that the information is false is not sufficient for removal of verifiable and well-sourced material.
Is personal communication from an expert a reliable source?
No. It is not good enough for you to talk to an expert in person or by telephone, or to have a written letter, e-mail message, or text message from a source. Reliable sources must be published.
Are there sources that are "always reliable" or sources that are "always unreliable"?
No. The reliability of a source is entirely dependent on the context of the situation, and the statement it is being used to support. Some sources are generally better than others, but reliability is always contextual.
What if the source is biased?
Sources are allowed to be biased or non-neutral. Only Wikipedia articles are required to be neutral. Sometimes "non-neutral" sources are the best possible sources for supporting information (with due weight) about the different viewpoints held on a controversial subject.
Does every single sentence need to be followed by an inline citation?
No. Only four broad categories of material need to be supported by inline citations. Editors need not supply citations for perfectly obvious material. However, it must be possible to provide a bibliographic citation to a published reliable source for all material.
Are reliable sources required to name the author?
No. Many reliable sources, such as government and corporate websites, do not name their authors or say only that it was written by staff writers. Although many high-quality sources do name the author, this is not a requirement.
Are reliable sources required to provide a list of references?
No. Wikipedia editors should list any required sources in a references or notes section. However, the sources you are using to write the Wikipedia article do not need to provide a bibliography. Most reliable sources, such as newspaper and magazine articles, do not provide a bibliography.
Does anyone read the sources?
Readers do not use the reference list extensively. This research indicates that readers click somewhere in the list of references approximately three times out of every 1,000 page views.

Citing a chapter[edit]

WP:BURDEN currently advises this:

Cite the source clearly and precisely (specifying page, section, or such divisions as may be appropriate).

I suggest that it say this:

Cite the source clearly and precisely (specifying page, section, chapter, or such divisions as may be appropriate).

Chapters can be particularly convenient in unpaginated ebooks, and not all chapters are further divided into sections. Citing chapters as an alternative to individual pages has long been accepted at Wikipedia:Citing sources#Books.

Naturally, it isn't always the best alternative. Just like it's sometimes appropriate to cite entire books ("Alice Expert says the Sun is really big" with a citation to her book, The Sun is Really Big), it is sometimes appropriate to cite a whole chapter, and it is sometimes appropriate to cite individual pages. The choice should depend upon whether you're summarizing a larger point, or just pulling an individual fact out of one sentence in the book. But I think that it is generally better to encourage people to consider citing a specific chapter than otherwise. Also, science-related books and reference works often have individually authored chapters, so editors should very frequently be naming the chapter and its authors regardless of whether a specific page number is also cited.

What do you think? Would this be an improvement, or not? WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:57, 15 May 2020 (UTC)

WP:BEBOLD. EEng 18:18, 15 May 2020 (UTC)
That would be a huge step backwards. Ebooks have alternative ways of identifying text, and it's often possible to find a page number for the text via Google Books or Amazon; if not WP:RX can usually help. And it's never appropriate to cite a whole book. Where does the idea come from that that would be enough? SarahSV (talk) 18:27, 15 May 2020 (UTC)
He's only suggesting adding the word chapter. What does your comment have to do with that? And while it's a narrow use case, citing a whole book isn't inconceivable (The first Random House edition ran to 1203 pages might be cited to the whole book. Like I said, it's a narrow use case.) EEng 18:39, 15 May 2020 (UTC)
It doesn't make any sense to write "Cite the source clearly and precisely", then suggest that a book chapter might be sufficient. Also, WAID, this is just odd. You wrote: "science-related books and reference works often have individually authored chapters, so editors should very frequently be naming the chapter and its authors regardless of whether a specific page number is also cited." Yes, of course, and we do and not only in science. Edited volumes are common. We cite author, chapter title, editors, book title, page range of the chapter, and the specific page reference. SarahSV (talk) 19:37, 15 May 2020 (UTC); 19:40, 15 May 2020 (UTC)
Chapters are already OK if appropriate: they're included in the phrase "or such divisions as may be appropriate". Sometimes they are appropriate. For example, a Wikipedia article cites an equation, and when you go to the source, you find that the equation itself, the definitions of the variables, and caveats about when it is valid are spread throughout a chapter; if you cited each page that was relevant, you'd cite the majority of pages in the chapter.
I prefer not to specifically mention chapters, because cases where just a chapter is appropriate are unusual, but we certainly shouldn't rule them out. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:00, 15 May 2020 (UTC)
Absolutely. Another example: article says X has been the subject of many popular songs, literary works, films, and dramas, you might naturally cite a book on X, and specifically the chapter in that book on X in popcult, but no particular page. I see what you mean about the possibility that mentioning chapters in the guideline might tempt people to cite them where a pg# would be more appropriate, but by not mentioning it you risk that, where a pg# isn't available/appropriate, an editor may fail to realize that a chapter# is at least helpful. EEng 21:40, 15 May 2020 (UTC)
You can cite a page range for the examples you give. What book would have no page numbers? It won't only tempt people to cite chapters; they'll do it. The requirement for page numbers for books has been in the policy for over 12 years (added here), but there was a requirement for page numbers on request before that. It would just be odd to remove it. SarahSV (talk) 03:43, 16 May 2020 (UTC)
Why would I ponderously cite pp. 434–513 when I can just cite ch. 7? EEng 14:59, 16 May 2020 (UTC)
There is no requirement to cite pages; other ways of specifying the portion of a work that supports a claim are clearly permissible. Since the requirement does not exist, adding "chapter" will not remove it. Jc3s5h (talk) 04:05, 16 May 2020 (UTC)
It says "specifying page, section, or such divisions as may be appropriate". It goes without saying that pages refer to books and other media that have them. If you're looking at a page, and you extract information from it to add to WP, why would you only cite the chapter? Sometimes Google hides the numbers but there are usually ways round that; Amazon usually offers a limited number; or someone at RX will help. "Clearly and precisely" does not mean chapters only. SarahSV (talk) 04:14, 16 May 2020 (UTC)
What if I'm not looking at "a page", but rather, the material to support the passage in the Wikipedia article is spread throughout a chapter? Suppose I want to summarize in a table various ways of writing angles in the field of land surveying, and I cite chapter 8, "Angles, bearings, and azimuths", of Wolf & Brinker's Elementary Surveying (n.p.: Harper Collins, 1989). The information about how to represent angles is spread all through the chapter. Jc3s5h (talk) 13:12, 16 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support this, it's a good addition and an increase in specificity when page numbers don't cut it, or in addition to those. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 18:53, 15 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Sort of support, but what we really want is for citations to be as narrow as practical. If it appears on one page or a few pages, give the page number(s). If it is spread through a chapter, give the chapter, and so on. The qualifier passim is a standard way to indicate that the information is distributed throughout the division indicated. Zerotalk 13:26, 16 May 2020 (UTC)
  • Support I think this suggestion is useful. I appreciate that a chapter is already a "section" or "division" but it is a common one and the chapter title can often be extremely useful. I'm thinking of those huge professional medical books with a couple of editors and chapters written by selected experts: each chapter is similar to a comprehensive review paper with their own topic and authors. So the chapter is an important feature and worth explicitly encouraging. Although this doesn't discourage editors from being even more specific, sometimes the sentence or clause really is sourced to information dispersed throughout a chapter, and one can be too specific. The chapter can also be useful for when page numbers are unhelpful, such as when you have access to a different edition of the book. -- Colin°Talk 10:15, 17 May 2020 (UTC)

How about if we said

Cite the source clearly and precisely, ideally giving page number(s) – though sometimes specifying a section, chapter, or other division may be appropriate instead.

EEng 15:05, 16 May 2020 (UTC)

It doesn't make sense to say "clearly and precisely" then "but sometimes not clearly and precisely; sometimes (we won't say when) citing a chapter would be okay". Even when an entire chapter covers something, you can still give a page range, or p. 60ff, or chapter 3, p. 60ff. But if the sourcing policy says editors may cite books but not give page numbers, that's what they will do, and when someone requests a page number, they will point to this policy and say page numbers aren't required. SarahSV (talk) 22:07, 16 May 2020 (UTC)
Gosh, you're right! I've struck the precisely, leaving the ideally giving page number(s) to make it clear to the reader what the, well, ideal is. As to sometimes (we won't say when) citing a chapter would be okay you're being silly. We leave a lot of things to editor judgment. Under my proposal we make it clear that we really want a page number if possible, but where that isn't possible or doesn't make sense a chapter or section would be good too. EEng 04:03, 18 May 2020 (UTC)
Just in case the discussion comes back to this side proposal, I've added the work instead for clarity. EEng 05:13, 31 May 2020 (UTC)
I begin to wonder how long the chapters are in your typical book.
I think there is no practical difference between saying "Chapter 7" and "pages 234–241", when chapter 7 happens to begin on page 234 and end on page 241.
I do think that specifying an ending point is often preferable to saying page 234ff (which means "and the following", which could include any page(s) after that 234 in the entire book). WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:59, 17 May 2020 (UTC)
A practical difference between citing a chapter and a page range that matches the chapter is that reference books often have many editions, and editions that are near to each other in order of publication often have the same, or nearly the same, chapters but different pagination. Especially if the title of the chapter is given, a reader who can't find the cited edition may be able to verify the claim in a similar edition. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:29, 17 May 2020 (UTC)
It looks like there is general support for including the word "chapter" in this sentence. Would someone like to add that to the policy? WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:43, 30 May 2020 (UTC)
I agree, and I'll be happy to do it, but since feeling has run high on this let's wait to see if everyone's in agreement, if not with the proposal itself at least with the fact that consensus has been reached. EEng 03:20, 31 May 2020 (UTC)
Oh wait. Are we talking about the original proposal, or mine a bit above here? But now that I look at mine I don't like it so much, so I guess it's the original we want? EEng 03:34, 31 May 2020 (UTC)
If you're going to remove that page numbers are expected, that will need an RfC. This is a core content policy. That has been in the policy for over 12 years, and in other forms before that. SarahSV (talk) 05:05, 31 May 2020 (UTC)
The current guideline doesn't say page numbers are expected but rather specifying page, section, or such divisions as may be appropriate so I don't know what you're talking about. EEng 05:13, 31 May 2020 (UTC)

To summarize... The old text was

(old) Cite the source clearly and precisely (specifying page, section, or such divisions as may be appropriate).

The original proposal was to change this to

P1. Cite the source clearly and precisely (specifying page, section, chapter, or such divisions as may be appropriate).

However, I humbly submit that my alternative ...

P2. Cite the source clearly, ideally giving page number(s) – though sometimes a section, chapter, or other division may be appropriate instead.

... might be preferable because it emphasizes that page numbers are "ideal". Pinging Headbomb, Jc3s5h, WhatamIdoing, SlimVirgin, Zero0000, Colin. EEng 15:11, 1 June 2020 (UTC)

  • I'm happy with either of the proposals. I do not see either of them as removing an expectation for page numbers (when page numbers exist and are a suitable way of identifying the content, of course). WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:46, 1 June 2020 (UTC)
    Yeah, we're past the red-herring idea that a anything we're discussing devalues page numbers. EEng 16:12, 1 June 2020 (UTC)
    @EEng, maybe you should just make a change (anything that seems reasonable to you) as a starting point. The first edit doesn't have to be the ideal one. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:30, 24 June 2020 (UTC)
    [1] EEng 17:09, 24 June 2020 (UTC)

Not easily accessible sources - published sources that are not easily accessible as they once were[edit]

I propose this addendum: "This also means references to sources that had once been accessible, yet are not anymore, cannot be removed solely based on that reason. You have to prove the reference have been unpublished by its original author due to falsity or privacy issues, or is unreliable; in order to remove that reference."
The reason for this proposal is that websites and book copies go exhausted, websites go stale; there have been examples of Wikipedians trying to delete information because of removal, rewriting the history in effect. If we allow published sources that are not easily accessible, we also have to accept the situation of references going dead during the lifetime of this encyclopedia. This never happens with paper encyclopedias because they are fixed on paper and circulated; Wikipedia, however, constantly changes and its main form of consumption is electronic, via interwebs. Erkin Alp Güney 20:29, 3 June 2020 (UTC)

  • I think "prove" is too strong a word. The level of standard for accepting an offline source is WP:AGF: we generally accept these sources without proof unless 1) they are used to support an extraordinary claim; or 2) the person who added them is a habitual liar. Reasonable doubt (i.e. challenging the source not solely because it is inaccessible, but for more substantial reasons) is sufficient to get an offline source removed. -- King of ♥ 21:36, 3 June 2020 (UTC)

This is fundamentally structurally flawed. Wp:ver does not make any requirement that restricts the presence of a reference. It makes reference requirement for the presence of text. There is nothing in wp:ver mandating removal of references. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 01:06, 4 June 2020 (UTC)

This is wrong. Sources must be both Published and Accessible. It is no longer possible to verify that the cited source said ____ when every single copy of that source has been lost. The purpose of our verifiability rules is to make sure that someone can check the source; if no copy of source exists, then the purpose is not met.
It sounds like you may find the information at WP:DEADREF to be relevant. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:43, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
Current rules allow sources that are legally publicly available but hard to access for some people (e.g. physically kept in a limited area, but accessible on demand). My proposal furthers this, and enables referencing "a last remaining copy" (after all, an encyclopedia is a historical artifact) or "a dynamic website gone down with no archives". Erkin Alp Güney 06:01, 4 June 2020 (UTC)
Erkin Alp Güney, I thought that I understood your proposal, and now I think I don't. Imagine that I have cited a paragraph to "a dynamic website gone down with no archives". I'm not quite sure exactly what the "dynamic" part means, but I assume that nobody has a copy of the webpage that I was citing. I went to that website, copied some numbers out of it ("As of April 2020, 4 people in this city had tested positive for COVID-19"). Now the website is gone. Nobody has a copy. Another editor thinks that number is suspiciously low, and thinks I meant to type "40" instead of "4". How will you verify whether I typed the correct information in the Wikipedia article? WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:33, 15 June 2020 (UTC)
Dynamic website means server-side content generation, depending on user profile and navigation state. How deep you verify accessibility depends on what grounds you get into doubt. If it is inconsistency of added content with what cited source actually claims, for a reference that was accessible at the time when added but not anymore, you have to do that in a reasonable time after it has been first added; after that, it is basically history. If you think that source has never existed, or a falsification for aforementioned sources, you also have to verify the fact for removing it, just like you did for insertion. Erkin Alp Güney 18:34, 15 June 2020 (UTC)
@Erkinalp9035, this may be a timely question. I'm looking at some websites that report the prices of some drugs. These websites do a quick search of several independent databases (e.g., looking up the price on various sellers' websites). This means that when I add the source on Monday, it will say that the usual price is (e.g.,) $23. When I go back on Friday, to make sure that I got it right, it may say that the price is $22.
Should people be using that kind of website at all? There is, effectively, no way for anyone to check that the price was actually what I said that it was, at the time that I added it. The most you could do is check what today's price is (which is probably going to be similar, but will probably not be the same). WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:37, 24 June 2020 (UTC)

Again, the reemedy is not removal of the reference. It is determination that the reference does not fulfill the verifiability requirement for the text, and eventually removal of the text. North8000 (talk) 12:54, 4 June 2020 (UTC)

Research Showcase on verifiability next week[edit]

Hello, all,

Next week's mw:Research Showcase is on the theme of "Credibility and Verifiability". It will be available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS9Jc3IFhVQ It will start on Wednesday, 17 June 2020 at 16:30 UTC (12:30 p.m. EDT), but it's recorded, so you can watch it later if you want to.

The first presentation is on a project called NewsQ, and I think will mostly about news and something like the circular sourcing problem. We are also promised some comments on what the Showcase's notes called the "US Perennial Sources list". It will be related to this paper.

The second presentation is called "Quantifying Engagement with Citations on Wikipedia", aka "Does anyone actually look at the inline citations?" This paper suggests that the answer is "mostly no", especially when the article is already well-developed.

Please share this with other editors who might be interested. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 23:13, 12 June 2020 (UTC)

We should ban citing some social media: specifically TikTok but probably other garbage as well[edit]

I have been very concerned about citing social media like Facebook for 1.) the self-published nature of it, 2.) the frequently wildly inaccurate mis- and disinformation that it spreads, and 3.) tacitly encouraging our users to go to walled garden surveillance networks. I have recently seen citations for TikTok and I think this is too far: in addition to the problems that I have already outlined, this is malware from a totalitarian government. Under no circumstances should we encourage or even allow outgoing links to this. I think we should explicitly state that in the verifiability guidelines and have entries on individual apps and sites that are particularly egregious about this and should never be linked (I would definitely argue that Facebook belongs as well: it is totally inappropriate to encourage any outward links to their tracking ad network). ―Justin (koavf)TCM 01:48, 30 June 2020 (UTC)


To be clear: This is specifically about TikTok and its unique problems but I situated it in terms of other social media as well. Please don't allow me to distract from TikTok in particular. ―Justin (koavf)TCM 04:51, 1 July 2020 (UTC)


Would agree but it won't happen. Long ago recommendation to me was.. avoid pop culture junk and focus on academic topics that educate readers. Don't see Facebook used in ancient history or scientific articles.--Moxy 🍁 02:04, 30 June 2020 (UTC)
As to TikTok I would never ever see a case we'd ever need to link to it - can a TikTok post contain *anything* encyclopedicly useful? The new privacy concerns raised would make it worthwhile to eliminate it via blacklisting. Facebook's a different beast as there are informational posts made through there though they will nearly always be primary sourcing. Excluding Facebook would be too wide a net as an immediate issue, and if we start issuing concerns about linking to tracking ad network, that would make almost any offsite linking including to most reliable sources a problem. So this is really not an option. --Masem (t) 02:06, 30 June 2020 (UTC)
Masem, I have seen it cited on Nikki Blonsky. Very inappropriate and is basically posting a link to malware. ―Justin (koavf)TCM 01:36, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
I believe this diff is what you're talking about which is extremely iffy. We do want self-sourced statements about "coming out" for sexual identity, but I would absolutely say its OR to presume that someoen using the song "Coming Out" via TikTok to do that isn't appropriate. And the weight of the problems of TikTok's security issues would not make it worthwhile to let that link through a blacklist through for this purpose. --Masem (t) 02:25, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
I'd support banning all social media links and making TikTok a BADSITE on account that they're Chicoms. The problem is that Wikipedia only exists for fans to read about their fandom, and for most of them that means using primary sources, especially social media. If this were a concerted effort for knowledge we'd ban all primary sources and force the use of secondary sources but we're not about knowledge, we're about high-minded fandom so SanFran gets donations. Chris Troutman (talk) 02:38, 30 June 2020 (UTC)
I think the subject's social media is acceptable for a limited number of cases, mainly for personal information:
  1. Gender identity, sexual orientation, and pronouns, especially for marginally notable people where secondary sources may not regurgitate their self-declarations; and
  2. Birth dates, ditto, unless there is evidence they may be lying.
King of ♥ 02:54, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
King of Hearts, Including social media profiles that are spyware/malware? ―Justin (koavf)TCM 04:52, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
If you wanted to make this about TikTok, then you should have led with that and not conflated it with general comments about the unreliability of social media. -- King of ♥ 13:48, 1 July 2020 (UTC)
If this is just about TikTok, WP:RSN is thataway. --Izno (talk) 13:55, 1 July 2020 (UTC)

"Wikipedia:UNSOURCED" listed at Redirects for discussion[edit]

Information icon A discussion is taking place to address the redirect Wikipedia:UNSOURCED. The discussion will occur at Wikipedia:Redirects for discussion/Log/2020 July 1#Wikipedia:UNSOURCED until a consensus is reached, and readers of this page are welcome to contribute to the discussion. Adam9007 (talk) 17:10, 1 July 2020 (UTC)

AfterEllen as a reliable source[edit]

Opinions are needed on the following matter: Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard#AfterEllen. A permalink for it is here. Flyer22 Frozen (talk) 00:22, 3 July 2020 (UTC)

Bringing this article in line with Wikipedia:Identifying and using self-published works[edit]

This article is at odds with Wikipedia:Identifying and using self-published works. I edited this article to bring them in line. MichaelBluejay (talk) 15:23, 6 July 2020 (UTC)

  • Reverted. The policy already tells people to read WP:RS, so repeating what RS says is duplicative bloat.
That said... if there is some sort of conflict between this policy and a guideline, then the better approach would be to amend the guideline to match this policy. WP:V is a core policy after all. It should take precedence. Blueboar (talk) 15:32, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
... Or to incorporate content from that guideline if we believe it appropriate for the policy, after reaching consensus. --Izno (talk) 16:14, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
MichaelBluejay made a number of undiscussed changes to WP:USESPS before coming here to "bring them in line". Schazjmd (talk) 18:25, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
First, I did try to discuss here, but I apparently didn't hit Submit after my last Preview, sorry. Yes, I edited Wikipedia:Identifying and using self-published works also, because it was internally inconsistent with itself and disorganized. If anyone doesn't like those edits, let's discuss them there. As for this article, editors need a concise definition of SPS and concise guidelines for when they're acceptable and when they're not, and that's what's missing here. Also, it's more accurate and appropriate to class SPS as "May or may not be reliable" rather than "Usually not reliable." Indeed, Wikipedia:Identifying and using self-published works characterized SPS as such in several places (before my edits). MichaelBluejay (talk) 18:51, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
Blueboar is correct: there is a conflict between this article and WP:USINGSPS, including the WP:LEADSENTENCE. Afaic, the definition there is clearly mistaken, and I've opened the discussion WT:USINGSPS#Definition is misleading on its talk page. In my opinion, the discussion here is dependent upon prior resolution there and cannot profitably go forward without it, or the discussions should be merged in an appropriate venue. Michaelbluejay cannot be faulted for attempting to foster consistency among policy pages, so discussion following this recent series of changes will hopefully lead to improvements. Mathglot (talk) 19:37, 7 July 2020 (UTC)
I agree, WP:USINGSPS should be cleaned up before bringing this article in line with it. I'll check the discussion there and see if there's anything I can contribute. -MichaelBluejay (talk) 10:29, 8 July 2020 (UTC)
@Michaelbluejay, at least for right now, I've reverted your re-ordering, because it made the changes seem more significant than what they really were. Here's a decent diff for anyone who is interested in seeing how few material changes he made to the wording. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:10, 8 July 2020 (UTC)

The "bringing in line with" choice of words sort of confused matters. It sort of implies that making a core policy become consistent with a supplementary page is itself a reason to change the core policy.North8000 (talk) 12:49, 8 July 2020 (UTC)

  • The point of “supplementary pages” is to EXPAND on concepts that are presented in the policy or guideline. That means a) the supplement should conform to the policy (not the other way around), and b) the supplement will contain DETAILS that are NOT necessarily included in the policy. That said... I welcome the opportunity to bring the supplement back into line with this policy. Blueboar (talk) 14:47, 8 July 2020 (UTC)
  • The actual policy is that you make all the conflicting pages reflect the current community consensus, regardless of which pages say "policy" or "guideline" or "supplement" or anything else at the top. Also, relevantly, that page explains a concept that is found in multiple policies and guidelines, not just this one. We can't bring a page "in line" with just one of them. The definition of a self-published source needs to be the same in WP:V, WP:NPOV, WP:BLP, WP:N, WP:NOT, and more. The community will never stand for us claiming that a bio about an employee is self-published if it's at a government agency's website but non-self-published if it's at a university website (even though WP:NPROF would appreciate it), or self-published on a small business's website but non-self-published on a large business's website (even though that was tried on this talk page years ago). WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:15, 8 July 2020 (UTC)
    A discussion about changing the definition of self-published in any policy page should take place at WP:VPP, not at Wikipedia Talk:USINGSPS. Schazjmd (talk) 22:27, 8 July 2020 (UTC)
    Schazjmd, if there were actually a definition of that term in any policy page, I would probably agree with you (WT:V would be another reasonable location). But there isn't, so it logically follows that there can't be any discussion about changing it. There's no definition in any policy page to talk about changing. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:26, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
    WhatamIdoing, my point is that a change to a policy (including adding a definition that isn't there) needs to be a community-wide discussion at WP:VPP. Schazjmd (talk) 18:31, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
    It is normal for discussions about this policy to happen on this page. (I haven't seen Michael proposing any changes to the definition, though.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:42, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
I don’t think it matters where the discussion is held, but we do want the wider community to be involved... especially if we are contemplating more than minor tweaks )and changing the definition is definitely more than a minor tweak). So... the discussion should probably be at least ADVERTISED at the pump. Blueboar (talk) 19:00, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
  • To basically summarize, "self-published" should not only includes the situation where the person that wrote the material also controls the "publication medium" which is what WP:V already gives, but as we're finding out to be clearer, should also cover the situation when the the author controls the publication process. That is, this would be an approach that would cover the Forbes Contributor model that we know there's no editorial involvement between the author clicking "submit" and the appearance on Forbes.com - we currently don't call that self-published because, well, Forbes.com owns the site, but if we extend the idea to cover the process and not just the medium, then it covers that and things like open journals w/ no peer-review process, Medium.com and a bunch more questionalbe sites cleanly. --Masem (t) 00:16, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
    • I call those Forbes Contributor blog posts self-published, and I know that I'm not the only editor with that view. Whenever the same person/organization/entity controls what's written and when/whether/how it sees the light of day, then it's self-published.
    • https://www.lexico.com/definition/self-publish specifies "independently and at one's own expense", which is a formulation that may appeal to some editors, because it includes the Forbes Contributors/Medium/HuffPo bloggers, the ebook and invented-my-own-publishing-house publishers, and the business/org websites, but could be construed to exclude government websites and publications (because although the government agencies publish their materials "independently" in some sense, the taxpayers pay the expenses). WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:41, 9 July 2020 (UTC)
Just a quick note about the Forbes Contributor model... While it may be defined as a form of "self-publishing", it's important to keep in mind that editors do review each post after publishing, make minor tweaks, and occasionally remove them. There is some editor involvement within a certain period of time. Also, there is a threshold associated with a writer becoming a contributor in the first place. They are vetted based on their expertise and reputation. I get that the process of self-publishing is being called out here, but it should be clear that they are not in the same category as some enthusiast who creates their own site or publishes through a social media platform. --GoneIn60 (talk) 19:40, 13 July 2020 (UTC)
While the Forbes.com contributor model uses a nominal amount of editor involvement, the lack of editorial oversight associated with Forbes.com contributors is well-documented by the Columbia Journalism Review, the Poynter Institute, BuzzFeed News, and The Outline. Since Forbes.com contributors rarely have their articles reviewed, these articles receive a similar level of editorial oversight as self-published sources; as a result, Forbes.com contributors are considered equivalent to self-published sources. — Newslinger talk 21:43, 22 July 2020 (UTC)

Let's make some progress on this. Can someone suggest a good workable definition of SPS? Currently, this policy doesn't offer any definition, which is not helpful to editors seeking guidance. -MichaelBluejay (talk) 17:07, 10 July 2020 (UTC)

Well, going off the way I'm thinking, possible language would be Self-published works are those where the author of the content has direct control of publication of that content. This may be when they directly through their own web site or social media account they control, or when they publish through a third-party publisher (such as Kindle Direct Publishing) or website (such as contributors on Forbes.com) without any editorial checks prior to publication. (This is just a staring point). I feel this doesn't disrupt how SPS are currently used nor affect how past RS decision on SPS would affected (eg cases like SPLC , Quackwatch, etc.) --Masem (t) 17:15, 10 July 2020 (UTC)
I'm not sure this is easier to understand/apply than the current definition, though I know the concern over the current definition isn't that it's unclear, it's that it's not accurate. What if we add a qualifier ("SPS are *generally* sources in which the author and publisher are the same"), keep the list of examples of SPS and non-SPS (which is the most helpful bit), and expand that list to deal with concerns about sources not covered by the stricter definition?
Also, I'd like to hear examples of sources which fail the current, strict definition, and why. -MichaelBluejay (talk) 13:42, 11 July 2020 (UTC)
I think that the problem isn't "failing" the definition, but people not understanding what it means for the author to be the publisher. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:24, 11 July 2020 (UTC)
The question is: Is there a way to SUCCINCTLY explain what it means for the author to be the publisher? Blueboar (talk) 19:09, 11 July 2020 (UTC)
I don't know, but whether there is or not, a few acceptable/unacceptable examples will go a long way towards clarifying. Since we haven't made much progress, I will be bold and edit as follows: (1) Recast SPS as "may or may not be acceptable" (more in line with WP:USINGSPS), and (2) provide a starting definition (not really acceptable to not define SPS at all!), and (3) provide some acceptable/unacceptable examples. -17:50, 12 July 2020 (UTC)
The main issue is that the average editor probably presumes that when we say "author is same as publisher" that publisher refers to ownership of the place where it is published, and not "the person that does the process of publishing". Perhaps the way to say it "a self-published source is where the author of the material is generally the same person that directly processes the publication of that material." --Masem (t) 05:50, 13 July 2020 (UTC)
Speaking as a "learner"-stage editor who has been trying to make sense of this, I agree with your comment re: how typical editors likely interpret "publisher," but I might say something like "the person(s) who determine whether the work gets published," as there are situations where the publishing decision involves more than one person. I also think that an analogous situation applies to "author": a typical editor probably presumes that when we say "author is same as publisher" that "author" refers to the person(s) who wrote the text, not the person(s) or organization that controls the creation of the text; the writer may not be the author, as when someone is employed to write sales material for an organization, is given an assignment by a boss to create certain material, and the material is published with the organization's name identified and the writer's name not identified. That is, in that case author=publisher not because the writer determines whether the work is published, but because the organization is both author and publisher. But it's important to be clear that just because someone writes something as an employee, that doesn't always make the employer the author; for example, faculty at research universities are employed by the university and publishing research is part of their job, but the university isn't the author of a professor's research publications.
In trying to sort out when author=publisher, I'd also run into problems when more than one person has significant input into the writing and/or more than one person has control over whether a work gets published, which is why I raised a question at the RS/N about whether online forums with editorial boards are SPS (and now that I'm getting clearer on all of this, my take on my own question is that a given online forum might have a mix of SPS and non-SPS works, depending on the specifics of a given work that's published there). It may be that author=publisher invites misinterpretation, and it should be shifted to something like "person(s) controlling creation"="person(s) controlling publication," recognizing that because there may be more than 1 person on one or both sides, it's possible for there to be inequality even if person A is involved on both sides (e.g., if an editor at an online forum with an editorial board creates an article but may jointly make a decision about whether it can be published there along with 1 or more other editors there, then the article isn't SPS even though the editor who wrote it is also involved in the decision to publish it). And as Mathglot noted here [2], it's important to help WP editors not think of SPS in terms of where a work appears, with the "where" being uniformly SPS or not-SPS. I think that echoes this idea of shifting from "publisher" to "the person(s) controlling the process of publishing" or "the person(s) who determine whether the work gets published." -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 13:46, 13 July 2020 (UTC)
Something along the lines of Masem's definition would be most universal. If itis necessarily a bit abstract, the more common / prescriptive words can be given as an example. North8000 (talk) 19:48, 12 July 2020 (UTC)

My attempted improvements were reverted again. That's fine, as long as we're moving towards coming up with a working definition, and giving examples of acceptable/unacceptable use, but we don't seem to be doing that. Either my edits should stand, or others should step up to try fixing the problem. Right now, the guidance to editors on the topic of SPS seems pretty lacking. -MichaelBluejay (talk) 22:35, 12 July 2020 (UTC)

That's not how it works. Don't make non-trivial edits to this key policy page without consensus. Zerotalk 05:03, 13 July 2020 (UTC)
Yes, MichaelBluejay, that's not how it works. North8000 (talk) 12:26, 13 July 2020 (UTC)

Ultimately, we're going to have to come to an agreement on whether the definition of SPS needs to be revised. Because of the "Never use self-published sources as third-party sources about living people" rule, the definition of SPS has significant implications for which sources can be used as RS for statements that fall under BLP. As a simple example, if government publications are generally SPS, and if the Mueller Report is among them (in that the government is both the author and the publisher), then we cannot use the Mueller Report as a source for a statement about any of the people who were charged in the Special Counsel investigation. That strikes me as a well-intentioned policy (BLPSPS) having unintended and inappropriate side-effects because of the SPS definition. -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 15:38, 16 July 2020 (UTC)

I have sympathy for this, but there is also something to be said for the view that "Never use self-published sources as third-party sources about living people", while well-intentioned, always cast too wide of a net. The idea that the self-published views of experts should not be allowed in commentary within the BLPs of others within their fields of expertise, for example, has always struck me as nonsensical. Obviously comment based on professional rivalry or currying favor should be excluded (not to mention otherwise undocumented biographical material), but I am not convinced that these biases are less present in independently published material, anyway. So yes, too wide of a net - a general caution coupled with more precise guidance about situations never to use SPS would strike me as a more fruitful approach. Sigh. Newimpartial (talk) 15:47, 16 July 2020 (UTC)
I agree that this is more likely a case of "Never use self-published sources as third-party sources about living people" casting too wide a net. There isn't much discussion on the WP:BLP talk page. I did link from there to the discussion here and a couple of other relevant discussions (e.g., [3]). Perhaps the best solution is something like "SPS can be used for third-party BLP statements on rare occasions, as long as the author(s) meet WP's definition of an expert source for the statement in question and there's good reason to believe that it has been through some significant internal fact-checking" and maybe adding "and the claim should made in the source's voice." (I don't know what the "right" solution is, just trying to give some examples of how to cast a slightly wider net, as may be appropriate, while not making it so wide to create a lot of new problems). As an aside, as I continue to think about the Mueller Report (because I'm working on the United States v. Flynn page), it may be that I also misjudged that in some ways, as the Special Counsel's Office/DOJ carried out some of the interviews and is a party in the legal cases, so that document may be first-party rather than third-party for some statements. I have to say that as a newish editor, it's not easy to know whether I'm abiding by all of the rules properly; there's a lot to learn / think through. -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 16:29, 16 July 2020 (UTC)
At least to me, BLPSPS, when it comes to SPS by recognized experts in the field that BLP is involved with, should be limited to when it is discussing the person directly. Or to flip it, a recognized expert in the field talking about a facet that is related to the BLP but wholly distanced from being about the BLP should be okay. A hypothetical case would be the discussion of a fad diet populated by a BLP (but not notable for its own page) with a recognized nutritionist itemizing the faults of that diet but not touching any commentary about the person that created it, though ideally we'd want MEDRS sources to even being doing that (and to that end, we'd only be discussing the fad diet is so far as to explain broad claims and not any "scientifically" sound facts it may present. --Masem (t) 17:26, 16 July 2020 (UTC)
@Masem: I've been working on the page for the court case US v. Michael Flynn (which arose out of Mueller's investigation), and in the background section, I'd like to be able to mention that in addition to the 1/24/17 interview that led to Flynn's false statements charge, he was interviewed 4 times in Nov. of 2017 before making his plea deal. He was also interviewed over a dozen more times during his cooperation period. There's oodles about the 1/24/17 interview in the media, but not so much about the later ones. I have substantiation for those post-January-2017 interviews from government sources (the Mueller Report for the first 4, and court documents for those and the later ones). These are claims about Flynn and the SCO/DOJ, not distant. I also know of MSM sources reporting things like "Mueller says in a sentencing memo that Flynn ... has provided 'substantial assistance' to the investigation, including meeting 19 times with Mueller’s team and Justice Department lawyers," but I'd like to be able to split out the pre-plea-deal from post-plea-deal interviews because of the way the article is structured, and I find it ridiculous that the SCO itself identifying the interviews in a court doc. may not be OK because it's SPS (unless it's judged to be first-party rather than third-party, since the SCO/DOJ is itself a party to the case), but a secondary MSM source simply repeating what the court docs say is OK. Or to take another example, someone introduced some quotes into the article from the court transcripts, and the BLPSPS rule says "Do not use trial transcripts and other court records, or other public documents, to support assertions about a living person," so I either need to go hunting for an article that quotes them or remove them. And if MSM are simply quoting from transcripts, why is the primary document unacceptable but the secondary MSM report OK? These rules simply don't make sense to me sometimes. -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 18:25, 16 July 2020 (UTC)
Yeah, I think there's an aspect of BLPSPS that has to do with "factual" coverage like a court case like that situation that BLPSPS can get in the way of a neutral - or in the case of Flynn, a more comprehensive/explanatory - article that may need to rely on SPS ( though I know you're looking at things like SCOTUSblog here which again, shouldn't be SPS). But that does rest on what answer we get at here. --Masem (t) 23:03, 16 July 2020 (UTC)
A related discussion that has come up that I think tells us we are in the right direction is over at WP:RS/N about YouTube (Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Noticeboard#RfC:_YouTube) where some are arguing for a edit filter on it because the videos there are posted as an SPS, but as several oppose comments point out, YouTube is not really the "publisher" (again, back to the confusion). In other words, there's alignment on the thought processes here. --Masem (t) 23:03, 16 July 2020 (UTC)

Should this article have a definition of "Self-published" or not?[edit]

I'm creating a Talk section for each problem with the SPS treatment as I see it, to see if there's consensus that each issue is indeed a problem. If so, then after that let's move on to discussing fixes. If not, then there's no point in discussing fixes to something that editors think isn't broken (though I think an objective review will conclude that WP:SPS is currently pretty deficient in providing guidance to editors).

First issue: Should this article have a definition of 'self-published' or not? Again, here I'm not asking for proposed definitions, just an opinion about whether or not the article should include a definition. If your answer is no, then why do you think the article shouldn't have a definition? -MichaelBluejay (talk) 15:03, 15 July 2020 (UTC)

Yes. Now that I'm finally clear (I think) on what the definition means (see [4]), I find it very helpful as a learner-stage editor to have a definition. I think we should focus on making the definition clear, not delete it. -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 15:34, 15 July 2020 (UTC)
Yes. Adding my vote so we can move toward crafting a definition. -MichaelBluejay (talk) 21:12, 22 July 2020 (UTC)

Yes. It would be helpful to explain our jargon, but we would need another discussion to nail down the definition. — Newslinger talk 21:45, 22 July 2020 (UTC)

However, if there is no consensus on a suitable definition, it should not be added to the policy. It would be improper to conclude that a definition should be added if none of the proposed definitions have sufficient support. — Newslinger talk 07:50, 30 July 2020 (UTC)

Should this article mention that SPS "includes almost all websites"?[edit]

One helpful bit on WP:USINGSPS is that it says something like, "SPS includes almost all websites, except those published by traditional publishers." That seems very helpful to me. While it doesn't cover every case, it covers *lots* of them, very efficiently/succinctly.

So, Should this article say something like, "SPS includes almost all websites, except those published by traditional publishers."? Again, here I'm not asking for exact proposed wording, just an opinion about whether the article should include wording similar to this. If your answer is no, then why do you think the wording is unhelpful? -MichaelBluejay (talk) 15:03, 15 July 2020 (UTC)

No. Is Google Books a traditional publisher? Many people would deny it is a publisher at all, rather just a platform that hosts works published by others. What about archive.org? Both these are used extensively and correctly. "Almost all personal websites" would be closer. Zerotalk 15:10, 15 July 2020 (UTC)
Only if it's true. Until we have a clear, agreed-on definition of "SPS" and "traditional publisher," how do we know whether a claim like "SPS includes almost all websites, except those published by traditional publishers" is true? I suggest that we postpone consensus on this question until we all agree on the relevant definitions and determine whether we have RS evidence whether "almost all websites, except those published by traditional publishers, [are SPS]" is true, or can come up with a related claim that is true. Personally, I doubt that there's good evidence re: the percentage of websites that are SPS vs. not, but I could be wrong, and of course if a source is a RS, we can cite its claim, even if the source itself doesn't provide good evidence for the claim (one of the problems with WP's definition for RS). -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 15:47, 15 July 2020 (UTC)
Even if the truth of the statement could be established, how would it help editors? It wouldn't provide guidance of the form "start by assuming it's unreliable", since that would require a completely different statement: "almost all websites you will encounter when you are searching for information on a topic are unreliable". Search engines do not provide you with a random website when you search for something. Zerotalk 16:02, 15 July 2020 (UTC)
Whether a source is SPS is a different question than whether it's RS. The intersection of the two categories is non-empty and sizeable, but so are the complements (the part of each set that lies outside the intersection). Recognizing that a source is likely to be SPS is useful in two ways: to heighten scrutiny about (1) whether it's a RS for the claim in question (though that assessment should also occur with non-SPS) and (2) whether it's a BLP claim for which thirty-party self-published sources can't be used, even when written by someone who meets WP's "expert" definition for that claim. I think it's helpful to point to the part of the RS discussion that notes that the acceptability of a source is context-specific, and if it's true that most websites and many paper publications are SPS, add the need for heightened scrutiny. But, it's certainly possible to address the latter issues without including a sentence like "SPS includes almost all websites, except those published by traditional publishers," so I'm open to changing my mind, and you've shifted me in that direction. -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 16:27, 15 July 2020 (UTC)
Yes. It is true, and (more pointfully), telling editors this helps them choose suitable sources. Look at List of most popular websites or any similar thing, and look at the types of sites.
  • Blogs? Self-published.
  • Corporate websites? Self-published (including all similar websites, such as non-profit organizations, fraternal clubs, etc.)
  • E-commerce? Self-published.
  • E-mail and mailing lists? Self-published.
  • Internet forum? Self-published.
  • Search engine? Irrelevant (because you shouldn't be citing the search results page anyway), but the non-results parts are self-published.
  • Social media? Self-published.
  • Software? Self-published (like any other corporate site).
  • Wikis? Self-published.
The two types of websites that we agree aren't (usually) self-published are:
  • Media organizations (including everything from the online copy of a daily newspaper to online-only magazines to television shows to film studios; the "corporate" part of the website [such as an "About us" page or an advertising rate sheet] is self-published, but the main contents are not)
  • Service sites that provide online copies of publications that you should normally cite directly (e.g., Google Books, JSTOR)
    • Some of these "service" websites have mixed status (e.g., Amazon, Instagram or YouTube, where you can find both self-published videos of skateboarders recording their friends' tricks side-by-side with non-self-published official publications from media organizations such as Skateboarder (magazine)).
There is the one category that we haven't really settled on, which is whether a government website is "self-published" (because the same agency writes and makes their content available to the public) or not (because they're not publishing at their own expense). The Mueller Report could be classified either way, depending upon the definition you choose. Mostly, in practice, I think that we treat typical government websites (e.g., the sort of page that tells you whether you need a permit to cut down a tree) as if they're self-published, and more formal publications (e.g., annual reports of school statistics, or the decennial US census) as non-self-published. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:08, 18 July 2020 (UTC)
I've reconsidered and now think it's important not to make claims about "websites," as a website may include a mix of SPS and non-SPS. For example, Yahoo.com is on the list of most popular websites, and a lot of Yahoo pages are self-published, but Yahoo News is a mixture of news aggregation (e.g., from the Associated Press) and original edited news articles that are similar to news published in more traditional sources. If "more formal publications" from the government are considered non-SPS, then government websites (e.g., justice.gov) also have a mix, and some will have a mix anyway (e.g., loc.gov has a mix of material written by Library of Congress staff and material originally published elsewhere, as does nih.gov). Ditto for university websites. Personal blogs are SPS, but some academic blogs have sizeable editorial boards and are probably a mix of SPS (for articles written by their editors) and non-SPS (for articles written by guest authors and submitted for publication, where the article may be rejected or go through significant editing). I think that a claim about "websites" encourages people to overgeneralize, and if we're going to include this kind of statement, it makes more sense to say something like "Almost all websites include some self-published material, and a vast number of websites are exclusively SPS. However, a given website may have a mixture of self-published and non-self-published material, and WP editors should focus on whether the specific material being used as a source for a claim is or isn't self-published." -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 02:11, 19 July 2020 (UTC)
Yes, over-generalization is common in source discussions. North8000 (talk) 11:26, 19 July 2020 (UTC)
I think the claims about "websites" is (a) helpful overall and (b) recognizes that, in practice, when editors are trying to make a case for citing a 'website' as a reliable source, that they're almost never trying to make a case for citing 'this book/newspaper/academic journal I happen to be able to read online'. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:02, 19 July 2020 (UTC)
Yes. I agree with WhatamIdoing that the statement is true. Including the statement helps editors understand that the websites cited on Wikipedia are not a representative sample of websites on the Internet. Editors who are aware that the average website is self-published are likely to evaluate websites more carefully before citing them as sources. — Newslinger talk 06:14, 24 July 2020 (UTC)

Should the article include some examples of acceptable and non-acceptable use?[edit]

Examples are very helpful to editors. WP:USINGSPS provides several helpful examples, but that supplement is unofficial and so not authoritative, and I doubt there's any interest in elevating the supplement to be official policy. WP:USINGSSPS is too long to be included in this article, but simply including some good/bad examples of SPS wouldn't take much room and would go a long way towards clarifying how SPS should/should not be used.

So, Should this article include some examples of acceptable and non-acceptable use? Again, I'm not asking for which examples should be included, just whether it's a good idea to provide this kind of guidance to editors. If your answer is no, then why do you think that examples are not helpful? -MichaelBluejay (talk) 15:03, 15 July 2020 (UTC)

Yes, they're helpful. -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 15:50, 15 July 2020 (UTC) [Edit: I've reconsidered. I think it's important to have examples, but I don't think it's important to have them here rather than at USINGSPS. -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 22:59, 22 July 2020 (UTC)]
I don't think so, or, if we include them, the examples should be very brief. USINGSPS is a much better place to put examples and 'worked examples' of how we concluded that these sources were(n't) self-published. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:12, 18 July 2020 (UTC)

No, I think policies are more suitable for explaining broader concepts rather than specific examples. Wikipedia:Reliable sources § Self-published sources (online and paper) (WP:RSSELF) is the guideline that elaborates on WP:SPS, and any examples would be more appropriate there. WP:USINGSPS would be even better. — Newslinger talk 21:31, 22 July 2020 (UTC)

Newslinger, WP:SPS links to this policy (Verifiability), not Wikipedia:Reliable Sources. So, any definition and examples (if there are to be any) should go here, not there. Also, WP:USINGSPS isn't a good place to have the only examples, because it's not policy. When I refer to WP:USINGSPS, the bad editors I battle will surely dismiss it as unofficial. Either the examples should go here, in Verifiability, or WP:USINGSPS should be elevated to be official policy. -MichaelBluejay (talk) 00:44, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
Let me clarify my sentence, since it was ambiguous: Wikipedia:Reliable sources § Self-published sources (online and paper) (WP:RSSELF) is the guideline that elaborates on WP:SPS, and any examples would be more appropriate in WP:RSSELF than in WP:SPS. The reason I consider WP:USINGSPS an even better location is that policies and guidelines are intended to be stable, and naming specific sources (that can vary over time) would be a better fit for a supplement. See WP:RSP and WP:ELP for other examples of supplements. If someone dismisses your argument because you cited a supplement, you can follow up by explaining how that argument is consistent with the corresponding policy or guideline. — Newslinger talk 07:38, 30 July 2020 (UTC)

Should this article characterize SPS are "usually not reliable" and "largely not acceptable"?[edit]

The article currently characterizes SPS and "usually not reliable" and "largely not acceptable". In fact, it seems that's not true; there are a whole host of reasons in which SPS are both reliable and acceptable. WP:USINGSPS lists several.

So, Should this article characterize SPS as 'usually not reliable' and 'largely not acceptable', or should we instead direct editors to exercise caution with SPS, and then provide some guidance on acceptable/non-acceptable use? -MichaelBluejay (talk) 15:03, 15 July 2020 (UTC)

No, as it's uncertain whether the assertions of "usually" and "largely" are true, and phrasing it this way increases the likelihood of editors dismissing SPS as a category, even if a given SPS is reliable and acceptable for the claim for which it's cited. We should encourage editors to make case-by-case determinations for SPS. -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 15:56, 15 July 2020 (UTC)
I think it's premature to be asking this question. SPS should be dismissed as a category for some types of claims (e.g., anything medical), and embraced for other types of claims (e.g., Joe Film announced his engagement on Twitter). Twitter appears (very often as a ref) in more than 40K articles right now, and Facebook in 60K, so I'm unconvinced that people are rejecting them inappropriately. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:16, 18 July 2020 (UTC)
WhatamIdoing, I think I understand your point that some SPS are good and some are not, but I don't see why you think it's premature to ask whether we should characterize SPS are "largely not acceptable" or not. From your discussion, it seems like you agree that "largely not acceptable/usually not reliable" is too broad, but I don't want to put words in your mouth.
As for whether valid SPS are rejected inappropriately, come on an editing walk with me and I can show you examples. That's what prompted my attempts to get SPS defined. I can't edit in my area of expertise in part because I'm battling bad editors who are quick to revert valid SPS. I'm on an editing holiday until that's resolved. -MichaelBluejay (talk) 00:55, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
No. I think it's far better to say that SPS should be scrutinized for acceptability, rather than broadly paint them with a "largely not acceptable" brush. So, with two No's and no Yes's, does this count as consensus to change the wording? -MichaelBluejay (talk) 00:55, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
  • This question should be asked in an RfC and advertised on WP:CENT, considering its scope. — Newslinger talk 19:00, 30 July 2020 (UTC)
Go for it! -MichaelBluejay (talk) 03:53, 31 July 2020 (UTC)

RfC: Let's define self-published sources[edit]

Consensus above is that the policy should define SPS (which makes sense; a policy about SPS isn't as useful if no guidance is provided as to what SPS is). Since defining SPS is a significant edit of the policy, it will benefit from having a greater number of editors involved in creating the definition. Please discuss below. -MichaelBluejay (talk) 05:30, 4 August 2020 (UTC)

Consensus above (no objections) was that this policy should define SPS (which makes sense, because it's impossible to apply the policy if we don't know what SPS is and what it's not). So let's hear some suggested definitions, please. (I'd offer mine, except that I don't have strong feelings about what the definition should be (just that we should have one), and when I copied the one from WP:USINGSPS (publisher=author), it was rejected.) Please suggest an actual definition, not just a discussion that doesn't include an actual definition. If no actual definitions are proposed, I intend to try again to insert the "author=publisher" definition from WP:USINGSPS. About that, Whatamidoing thinks WP:USINGSPS is a good place for acceptable/non-acceptable examples of SPS, so if WP:USINGSPS is trustworthy, then it ought to be trustworthy for the definition. If it's not trustworthy for the definition, then it's not trustworthy for acceptable/unacceptable examples either, and the acceptable/unacceptable examples should be included in this policy. -MichaelBluejay (talk) 21:23, 22 July 2020 (UTC)

My proposal: "Material is self-published if the person(s) who controlled the material’s creation = the person(s) who controlled whether the material was made available to the public."
And then in clarification, note things like the following (or, if it seems more appropriate, leave some or all of these things for the USINGSPS page):
1) “Control” is important, as a person writing promotional materials for a company ultimately isn’t the person(s) who controls the creation; rather the employer controls that, and the writer is employed to create work to specification. As part of assessing this, the existence (or not) of independent editorial staff plays a role, and we’ll need to clarify the meaning of “Independent” (e.g., without a conflict of interest for the material in question, able to reject that material for publication).
2) “Material” means the specific work that’s being used to substantiate the claim (a specific webpage, book, article, piece of music, etc.) rather than an entire website, journal, etc., as it’s possible that a given website, journal, etc., might include a mix of content that’s self-published and content that isn’t self-published. For example:
  • an article in an edited newspaper isn’t self-published, but the comments posted below the article on the paper's website are self-published; a standard op-ed isn’t self-published, but an editorial by the editorial board is self-published, as are ads
  • an article on a website with independent editorial decision-making isn’t self-published, but a live-blog on the same website is self-published
  • an article on a site like Forbes.com might be self-published, while another article originated in Forbes magazine and is not self-published
  • a government webpage at nih.gov may be self-published (e.g., the overview for grant applications) or not (e.g., the PubMed pages that provide information about journal articles)
  • a professor’s own page on a university website is likely self-published, but an edited article on the university’s website isn’t
That said, a website, book, etc. may consist entirely of self-published material (e.g., Twitter, Facebook) or may have no self-published material (e.g., books by a traditional publisher). -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 22:42, 22 July 2020 (UTC)
Thanks, I like it! -MichaelBluejay (talk) 22:46, 22 July 2020 (UTC)

This definition covers many self-published sources, but I think it excludes some types of sources that are commonly considered self-published. Let's use Wikipedia itself as a counterexample. Wikipedia consists primarily of user-generated content, which is a type of self-published material. Wikipedia does have Articles for creation, a process in which content created by editors is reviewed by another editor who was not involved in its creation; this uninvolved editor determines whether the content gets published. However, articles that are published through AfC are still considered self-published and user-generated because the AfC review process is not rigorous enough to ensure that the published content is reliable. I think it would be more helpful for the definition of self-published to focus on the comprehensiveness of the source's editorial oversight, since this is the factor that directly influences the "reputation for fact-checking and accuracy" that is demanded of a reliable source. — Newslinger talk 09:07, 24 July 2020 (UTC)

@Newslinger: What's your proposed definition? (Michaelbluejay is asking us for "an actual definition, not just a discussion that doesn't include an actual definition.") -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 10:30, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
Moderated content doesn't change self-published, because its post-process. And we can distinguish this from , say, redactions and errata made by RSes with editorial control as there, we expect those sources to say what was changed and why, where with moderation, that's just done without comment. So this all still works in the framework of sites like Wikipedia, IMDB, Know Your Meme, etc all being self-published with moderators. The key with the self-published part is the lack of editorial review and intervention before the proverbial "PUBLISH" button is hit. --Masem (t) 14:40, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
Not quite (a key, maybe) because even if someone on Wikipedia, has an editorial review and intervention before the post-button is pushed (even if the button is pushed by the editor, not the author), it is still self-published/user generated. Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:49, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
I mean, whether an editorial review can be done on WP before it is posted, that's optional, sure, but there is no minimum requirement or limitation in the publishing process chain that brings in another other editorial review before the user that wrote the material hits the publish button. Whereas at a reliable newspaper, the author sends to editorial review, and after any back-and-forth, that's sent to a publishing department or to the website department that prep and then push to print/publish at minimum; those are required steps and thus eliminate the self-publishing factor, if you get what I mean. A self-publishing route that could employ editorial control if desired will still be called self-publishing for our purposes if that control is not a mandated feature. --Masem (t) 15:05, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
Again, not quite. There was actually a discussion recently raised about the Signpost, which is a "newspaper" (some say) and published on Wikipedia and it asserts some kind of mandated editorial review, and one or two people vaguely tried to argue such was not self-published, although the consensus was clearly that it is. It would not become, not-self-published merely by taking all review off Wikipedia before putting it in the edition. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:15, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
We'd still be looking at the lowest-common denominator - that being the whole of WP, which is self-published. But what key is here is to arrive at a broad definition that works 99% of the time and allows for common sense discussion for outliers, and not to get a mechanical exact definition to account for all possibilities. The current SPS definition is far too narrow to reflect where it should be and makes discussing what is an SPS difficult to argue (eg with things like Forbes contributors and YouTube videos, broadly, because of the impression that "publisher" must be the website owner). Getting use close enough and letting contested cases be determined on talk pages as necessary is fine than the current status. --Masem (t) 15:37, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
Well, that probably arises from the tendency of some to take every section of a policy and read it out-of-context. If someone cannot or will not get that what we really want are professionally published books and journals from entities with a good reputation (as in WP:SOURCE), and the farther you get away from that the more problematic and grey it becomes, they just won't get the point, no matter what we write. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:51, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
This will always be the case for any policy or guidelines. What's core is that too many editors, due to how the current statement on SPS here is written, walk away presuming that SPS extend only to case where the author controls the publishing medium, like their blog. That's a common case of an SPS but it omits the broader scope that should be included for purposes of using SPS to evaluate sources, particularly for BLPSPS evaluations. There will still be the BURO applications of that, but at least we are starting from a point that's more appropriate. --Masem (t) 16:50, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
No. First, you point to an essay, the reason it's an essay is it does not have general consensus. Whatever happens, this should not be done here, it's at best a guideline issue, if you think you can come up with a workable guideline that is always going to have play in the joints (sometimes on Wikipedia, as in life, you do have learn to live with uncertainty). The idea of framing it in concrete policy stone is quixotic at best, and unworkable in detail -- such detail issues among other things are why we have a whole noticeboard to discuss specific pieces of information. In short, try to actually buy into, we are not here to (re)publish or give undue prominence to anyone's or groups' original thoughts whether Wikipedian's or otherwise, nor string them together in articles. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:05, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
Alanscottwalker, I'm confused about what you're saying "no" to (to defining SPS? to my proposed definition? to something else?). WP:V explicitly refers to SPS [5] without defining them. Most of us think that a definition is helpful, and I attempted to improve the WP:USINGSPS definition based on issues people raised here and on the talk page there. I'm not wedded to my proposal. Do you have a different definition to propose? FWIW, as a newish editor, it wasn't at all clear to me where to get help determining whether a given source is a SPS, as compared with whether it's a RS, and part of the problem that I've encountered is that people tend to overgeneralize and say that an entire publication (website, journal, ...) is SPS or not, rather than focusing on whether a specific article in the publication is SPS, where that specific article is the one that someone would like to use for a citation. (Granted, sometimes we can say that an entire publication is exclusively SPS or exclusively non-SPS, but other times publications have a mix of self-published and non-self-published material.) -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 16:07, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
Masem and Alanscottwalker, I'd be delighted if both of you would propose a working definition of SPS. -MichaelBluejay (talk) 18:31, 25 July 2020 (UTC) (Edit: Masem, I'm sorry, I forgot that you'd offered a definition above, in a different section. -MichaelBluejay (talk) 05:21, 30 July 2020 (UTC) )

I see two shots at SPS definitions:

  • "Self-published works are those where the author of the content has direct control of publication of that content. This may be when they directly through their own web site or social media account they control, or when they publish through a third-party publisher (such as Kindle Direct Publishing) or website (such as contributors on Forbes.com) without any editorial checks prior to publication." (Masem)
  • "Material is self-published if the person(s) who controlled the material’s creation = the person(s) who controlled whether the material was made available to the public. (FactOrOpinion)

Shall we use one of these as a starting point for revision, and if so, which one? Or are we ready to just pick one? While they're both good, I give the edge to FactOrOpinion's, either as a starting point or as a finished product. -MichaelBluejay (talk) 05:21, 30 July 2020 (UTC)

  • Between these two definitions, I have a strong preference for Masem's definition, which considers the level of editorial control. — Newslinger talk 08:18, 30 July 2020 (UTC)

I see no harm in creating a definition, but I do see harm in various proposed new uses above (characterizations, over generalizations). I prefer Masem's. North8000 (talk) 10:45, 30 July 2020 (UTC)

I agree with the idea of creating a definition but I think it could be hard. I think we all agree that an expert posting something to his personal blog is self published even if they are an acknowledged expert in the field. One person did the composition, fact checking, editing and releasing the article. But what if there is more than one person involved? What if we have a two person blog where one person writes and the other reviews/edits? Probably still SPS. What if a company issues a press release? A researcher at Honda releases an article about vehicle emissions. That article is reviewed by Honda's PR and legal team before release. Thus it is not self published by an individual. How would we categorize that? Self published by Honda? Does it become "the opinion of Honda" vs the opinion of Mr Smith working for Honda? I think this question can be summarized by "what counts as editorial review"? When we say "self published" are we referring to just the person who literally typed up the words or do we consider if the "editor" has a vested interest in the content? Even that last part can get questionable. For example, not long ago the NYT editorial board made their hostility towards more liberal gun laws clear. Does that mean that their editorial control is compromised with respect to gun control articles. I ask simply because I think we need to be able to say why Honda releasing a report on emissions would be different than the NYT releasing a report on the need for tighter gun laws. My personal feeling is the Honda emissions paper would be a SPS while the NYT article wouldn't but other than saying "The NYT is a news paper" I'm having trouble thinking of a concrete way to differentiate the two. Springee (talk) 14:18, 30 July 2020 (UTC)

For purposes of a definition, we shouldn't worry about all the tiny details, and I would be perfectly fine with a guideline or essay page to explain it out further, if needed. This is also what talk page or RS/N discussion pages would be for, to work out edge cases.
But as to your examples, and these are just my feelings:
  • One writes, one edits/publishes: Assuming that the writer had to go through the editor, that would not be self-published, though we can beg the question of how reliable that is for a group that small. If the editor step was optional, then that's still an SPS.
  • Press release after PR editing: Not self-published, but that's a primary source.
  • The Honda paper : Not self-published, but again primary, also would likely fail the SCIRS check if it was being used that way (lack of peer-review, which is different from editing).
In otherwords to your point, the entity that stands in the way of the writer and publisher does not need to be independent in thought of the writer, but it should be standard and required stage of the publication process, as to avoid that being an SPS. But the resulting work can raise several other flags related to appropriate uses of sources that could make it inappropriate to use. --Masem (t) 14:47, 30 July 2020 (UTC)
I don't understand why a "Press release after PR editing" and the Honda report are not self-published. Seems to me that the organization controls both the creation and the publication, even when different people are doing it. The USINGSPS page says "If the author works for a company, and the publisher is the employer, and the author's job is to produce the work (e.g., sales materials or a corporate website), then the author and publisher are the same." Do we need to spend more time looking at specific examples, to help surface what we think the definition should rule in or out for cases that are in the middle (neither clearly SPS, like a personal blog, nor clearly not-SPS, like a peer-reviewed journal)? This is the reason that I worded my proposal as "the person(s) who controlled the material’s creation" rather than "the author of the content." It's OK with me to say the latter, but we need to make it clear that the "author" may not be the person who does the writing and may instead be the organization the writer works for, even if the writer's name appears on the text. If it's helpful to look at other borderline examples, I'd previously asked on the RS/N whether the online law/security forum Just Security is or isn't SPS, and there was no consensus, perhaps because the definition isn't clear enough, perhaps because people automatically assume that blogs are SPS, perhaps for some other reason. There also doesn't seem to be consensus about which judicial rulings are/aren't SPS. Either way, I think it should be made clearer somewhere (for newish editors like me) that people can also go to the RS/N for help determining whether an expert source is SPS. -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 20:11, 30 July 2020 (UTC)
In much of this lengthy discussion, sometimes editors are conflating self-published with unreliable. e.g., "Oh, we shouldn't call such-and-such source self-published because it's usable." Let's remember that self-published and unacceptable are two totally different things. Here we're looking only for a definition of self-published, not whether the SPS is usable or not. We can list acceptable/non-acceptable uses of SPS in WP:SPS and/or WP:USINGSPS.
Next, I'd like to point out that the debate about what does and does not constitute SPS is precisely why we need a definition. How can the WP community apply this policy if nobody knows what it means?
Finally, getting us back on track: It seems there's greater support for Masem's definition. What tweaks should we make to it, to make it helpful to editors seeking guidance? My personal preference is to not mess with it so much, as expanding it to try to make it cover every possible case could wind up making it unwieldy. We can leave the details to bullet-point examples of what is/is not SPS. -MichaelBluejay (talk) 04:06, 31 July 2020 (UTC)
Commenting on Masem's proposed definition: "Self-published works are those where the author of the content has direct control of publication of that content. This may be when they [publish] directly through their own web site or social mIedia account they control, or when they publish through a third-party publisher (such as Kindle Direct Publishing) or website (such as contributors on Forbes.com) without any editorial checks prior to publication."
Isn't there a danger in this definition of SPS? If I understand correctly, the way this is worded could be used as a loophole. All the SPS has to do is include a page from a reliable source and then say the citation meets the criterion of editorial oversight. Meantime, the user is being pointed to the SPS as a whole, and the SPS as a whole may not meet the bar of a reliable source. Once you link to something on an SPS, you are linking to the entire site, not just the specific citation. For example (and something like this actually happened, not in Wikipedia, but as to Google Search), a white supremacist site could be used if it published a reprint of an article about Martin Luther King, Jr. from a reliable source--would it not then meet this SPS definition? Perhaps I'm not understanding the definition of "author" and "publisher." Is the "author" in my example the writer of the reprint or the owner of the SPS; is the "publisher" the reliable source (news journal) or the owner of the SPS? There are problems in trying to nail down an airtight definition of SPS. The WP Policy as stated now has a clarity that might be obfuscated by this, don't you think?Trouver (talk) 14:19, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
Obviously, we'd only be talking about what controls there are regarding the original writing /content, and not included/quoted material.
What my definition is trying to be clear is that the "author" is the person or persons that put together the piece, assemble all the facts, and prepare the near-final piece, while the "publisher" is the person/persons that do the editorial review (this is not just spell checking but making sure the work is kosher for the entity it represents, fact-checking elements, etc.) and then do is the equivalent of typesetting and preparing for print or web publication. In this format, we want sources where the "author" and "publisher" are distinct different groups - not necessary different entity (that would be the peer-review model in academic journals), but definitely need to be different assigned permanent roles in the entity. A self-published source is where that distinction is not clear : a single-person entity where "author" is "publisher", a small team that has diffuses jobs so there's no distinction who authors and who editors, the Forbes contributor model where there's post-posting oversight but there's no effective barrier to a contributor from posting (the "editors" are not the "fact-checking" type), and so on. Ad Michaelbluejay makes a very important point here that this definition by no means alludes to anything about reliability of the source; an SPS by this defintion could still be reliable, and a non-SPS could be unreliable based on their history; this is merely an evaluation of their process. --Masem (t) 14:47, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
Yes, that's which I'm fine with creating a definition but expanding rules that are based on overgeneralizations. Actual reliability goes by the expertise and objectivity of the author in the context of the particular topic at hand, with the editor layer either enhancing that, or helping confirm it for quick wiki-assessment purposes. North8000 (talk) 15:49, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
And if we need to have more clarity/definition, a separate guideline page (Or adding to WP:RS for that purpose) would be where to talk more. And again, this should be seen as the starting point for consensus-building discussions if there are any questions. Key is mostly getting past the idea that "SPS means author owns publication site" that is a bit too limited. --Masem (t) 16:01, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
And how should people handle it if we can't tell whether the editing is "just spell checking" vs. "making sure the work is kosher for the entity it represents, fact-checking elements, etc."? For example, I was told by an experienced editor that s/he had never "seen anyone call a published [judicial] opinion in a recognized reporter self-published. To do so would be an overly-strict reading of the definition" ([6]). But how do we know whether the editing that takes place in the process of preparing a court document for publication in a bound volume is spell checking and type-setting vs. fact-checking? My impression is that it's only the former, but if that's the case, then either the judgement that judicial rulings aren't SPS is wrong, or the definition needs tweaking. Or consider the Mueller Report. I doubt that anyone outside the Special Counsel's Office did fact checking, only checking for what needed to be redacted. But I don't know, and I don't see where to look it up. So is that report SPS? These sources themselves may not make it explicit whether there are independent "editorial checks prior to publication" for something other than typos and type-setting. It seems to me that some sources are clearly SPS, some are clearly not SPS, but it's for the group where it isn't clear that we most need a good definition to help us figure out whether it is/isn't SPS. -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 18:23, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
In my view, judicial opinions are 100% SPS. They're not subject to editorial review. Also, they're primary sources for the opinion, and while they're secondary sources for facts and legal analysis, they're self-published secondary sources and thus shouldn't be used for facts (about others) without attribution at least, but can be used to cite the legal analysis of the court making the analysis (about self). Citing a judicial opinion in an article about the case is like citing a book an article about the book. In most instances, there should be other reliable secondary sources that talk about the opinion. (If there aren't, that's a red flag that there may be a notability or DUE problem.) In other words, when writing about a landmark Supreme Court case, true secondary sources (like an analysis in The New York Times about the case) should be used as a source, rather than citing directly to the case itself. Similarly, the Mueller Report (or any organization's report) is also self-published. Thus it's a primary source for the opinions or conclusions of the report, and while it's secondary for the facts relayed, because it's self-published, it shouldn't be used as a source for those facts except with attribution. Levivich[dubiousdiscuss] 18:43, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
We do want to be careful to simply call judgements as SPS because (this goes all the way to the original questions FOO was asking) this would strictly allow the use of court rulings to be used on any case that involved a named person if BLPSPS was applied to that degree, even if we're not talking negative claims about the person involved (eg Trump v. Vance). Judgments and laws/rule-making documents, as well as reports that fall out from the law-making process (which is the Mueller report) should be taken as primary, as SPS, but not in the same manner as JoeBlogger writing on his blog, as they are official records of the gov't and thus carry a special weight there. They still need to be used carefully whne used on articles that are directly about a BLP, but not broadly as BLPSPS should be taken. --Masem (t) 18:58, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
I don't understand why calling a judgment an SPS would allow the use of court rulings on any case that involved a named person? The document written by a court ("judgment", "opinion", "decision", "ruling", whatever) is SPS by the court, not by either of the parties in the case. In other words, if a court decision says "Joe ran the red light", we can't use that in the article about Joe to say in Wikivoice "Joe ran the red light", because it's an SPS relaying facts about another. Instead, we'd have to say, "According to the court, Joe ran the red light." Right? Levivich[dubiousdiscuss] 19:04, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
I think Masem meant "would strictly disallow" (per BLPSPS and/or BLPPRIMARY). -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 19:08, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
Ohhhhh yes that makes more sense :-D Well, in that case, yes, it would disallow statements at least without attribution, but I'd say "feature not bug". The conclusions that courts draw are, in some cases, the absolute definitive/authoritative conclusion (e.g., convicted for murder), but at the same time, those conclusions are drawn from less than "full reality"; i.e., only from admissible evidence. Juries and judges make their decisions based on a subset of all available information, according to rules that are designed to protect people's rights even at the expense of finding absolute truth. That's why acquitted doesn't mean innocent. Court decisions shouldn't be used to source statements in wikivoice; they should be attributed, in my opinion. Levivich[dubiousdiscuss] 19:21, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
For statements about living people, BLPSPS and BLPPRIMARY disallow use even in the source's voice and even on non-biographical pages. I do understand that if secondary sources aren't reporting some fact, including it might be UNDUE, but (a) secondary sources sometimes quote primary sources, and the primary source is a better source for the quote, and (b) we're still left with the question of whether some secondary sources are/aren't SPS (e.g., articles on a site like Just Security or Lawfare, both of which have editors, but where the editors sometimes publish articles, and it's unclear whether other editors check that work prior to publication). -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 20:06, 2 August 2020 (UTC)

The discussed definitions, including Masem's which I prefer, are all reasonable regarding the meaning of the SPS term. But, they all expand the de-facto standard, which is sources which slam-dunk are SPS's. Might not such an expansion upset the apple cart in the various policy and guideline places that utiliize the term? Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 20:21, 2 August 2020 (UTC)

Can you give an example of something that's now included but that wasn't included previously? WP:USINGSPS currently defines SPS as author = publisher, so I don't think either proposal expands the definition. -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 20:34, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Simple definition - a company or nonprofit internet site whose sole purpose is to publish material about itself and the activities it is involved in is a SPS - regardless of who is doing it. That is not the same as a newspaper hiring journalists to cover real world stories they're going to publish - they are not participants in the story itself. If they restricted articles to be stories about themselves and their publication's own work - then it would be self-published. An author who writes a book and pays a publishing company to design and print the material for him makes the book a SPS. A CV is a self-published source. And that is what makes a SPS blindingly obvious. Atsme Talk 📧 22:10, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
Sometimes it's "blindingly obvious" whether something is a SPS, and other times it isn't. And a given website may have a mix of SPS and non-SPS material, as I tried to note in the examples here. There are also examples elsewhere in the section where people have different views about whether a source is/isn't SPS (e.g., published judicial opinions, an edited online forum like Just Security, a Honda researcher's article about vehicle emissions that's been reviewed by Honda's PR and legal team before release). -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 00:39, 3 August 2020 (UTC)
Atsme, I think your definition is too narrow. There are lots of SPS works whose content is not about the author or the author's activities. For example, I author and self-publish a popular website about saving electricity. The topic has nothing to do with me, but the site is still self-published. SPS has more to do with whether there's editorial oversight, and less about the subject matter in relation to the author. -MichaelBluejay (talk) 13:04, 3 August 2020 (UTC)

Thank you Masem, for clarification on the matter of editorial oversight (or lack thereof) being the central thing in defining SPS.Trouver (talk) 15:25, 4 August 2020 (UTC)

Since there hasn't been any new discussion for a while, are we ready to vote on Masem's definition? If so, I vote Yes. -MichaelBluejay (talk) 08:06, 7 August 2020 (UTC)

Yet another way of thinking of SPS[edit]

This doesn't change from my definition I've proposed, but enhances how it fits into our scheme about talking about WP:V and reliable sources. But one can see SPS as being the same concept of measuring a source as why we look for peer-reviewed sources and non-predatory journals in MEDRS and SCIRS. I don't know if "validation" is the best word to describe this, but the idea is that we'd prefer, particularly for controversial material, information that is sourced to a work that that material has been "validated" by others not involved in the writing process. If there is no such validation process involved before that material was published, then we should be very careful of including that material, if at all (depends on context), and if include, use with inline attribution and not in wikivoice. How much validation is a spectrum, ranging from the highly rigorous peer review of works like Nature and Science (our MEDRS/SCIRS-meeting sources), to factcheckers at major book publishers, to editors at major newspapers like the NYTimes, to online news sites with editor teams, and so forth (I don't know if this is exactly how one would order these works but it's just a concept). Way on the bottom would be predatory journals, Forbes contributors, personal blogs, and all that. Aka basically where SPS should end up.

On this concept of "validation" (again, probably not the best word), this is why BLPSPS is the key point where defining SPS right is important, we are not going to include non-validated material about a BLP on their article, and an SPS, even by an expert, is pretty much the definition of non-validated. But this notion can apply to other places as well one the approach of SPS that I have spoke of.

BUT now above the question about laws, final court decisions, etc. and the like came up, and while those can be called "self-published" in this scheme, the idea of "validation" of those is that they are "official" determinations that set the law/practice of the land, and by their nature, are automatically "validated". They are still primary sources and thus should not be used to build out an article per NOR, NPOV and notability concerns. This does not apply to all gov't documents, only these "final" determinations, as material leading to those such as testimony, memos, etc. can easily be of the SPS with non-validated claims.

This is just a thought that I think makes seeing why we want the definition of "self-published" to be "person that pushes the 'publish' button == person that created the work", as that completely skips the "validation" step that we want. --Masem (t) 17:06, 3 August 2020 (UTC)

PinkNews as a reliable source[edit]

Opinions are needed on the following matter: Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard#PinkNews. It's a reassessment matter. Flyer22 Frozen (talk) 02:49, 10 July 2020 (UTC)

Does Footnote 9 still have consensus?[edit]

Footnote 9 currently reads, in part (emphasis added):

Sources that may have interests other than professional considerations in the matter being reported are considered to be conflicted sources. Further examples of sources with conflicts of interest include but are not limited to articles by any media group that promotes the holding company of the media group or discredits its competitors; news reports by journalists having financial interests in the companies being reported or in their competitors; material (including but not limited to news reports, books, articles and other publications) involved in or struck down by litigation in any country, or released by parties involved in litigation against other involved parties, during, before or after the litigation; and promotional material released through media in the form of paid news reports.

Recently, there was a discussion at RSN, "Is CNN usable as a source for unflattering information about Fox News?", which closed with "The consensus is that CNN is a usable source for unflattering information about Fox News. Editors largely do not accept the financial COI argument to disqualify CNN." (permalink)

Should Footnote 9 be modified, e.g. to remove the part about "discredits its competitors", or in some other way? Levivich[dubiousdiscuss] 22:57, 22 July 2020 (UTC)

Courtesy pings to opener and closer of that discussion, Aquillion and starship.paint. Levivich[dubiousdiscuss] 23:03, 22 July 2020 (UTC)
  • @Levivich: - thanks for the heads up. I would suggest “discredits its competitors” be removed, purely based on the WP:RSN discussion. Anyone wishing to re-add the phrase should perhaps create an RfC at Wikipedia:Village pump (policy), with alerts to editors who participated in the WP:RSN policy and also any editors involved in the original discussion to add in “discredit its competitors”, if such a discussion existed. starship.paint (talk) 04:06, 23 July 2020 (UTC)
  • I would remove the "discredits its competitors" language as well. I do not think it is consistent to allow a source when it covers its competitors positively, while disallowing that same source when it covers its competitors negatively. We currently have WP:UBO, which allows us to consider usage by other reliable sources as a positive indicator of a source's reputation. If we are allowed to consider a reliable source's endorsement of another source, we should also be able to consider the source's rebuke of another source. The "promotes the holding company of the media group" language is valid, in my opinion, and should stay if the footnote is kept. — Newslinger talk 04:17, 23 July 2020 (UTC) Edited 19:22, 3 August 2020 (UTC)
    Since this question is likely to be of broad interest, I have upgraded this discussion to an RfC. — Newslinger talk 06:34, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
    I also support the emerging consensus to remove the entire footnote. — Newslinger talk 21:36, 30 July 2020 (UTC)
  • I agree that "discrete its competitors" should be removed. -MichaelBluejay (talk) 05:16, 23 July 2020 (UTC)
  • If a media source deserves to be discredited, where else are we going to read about it other than competitive media sources? Out of necessity, we have to accept such sources. But in this case, I would not rely on a single competitor; I would want to see multiple sources which are independent of the disreputable source and each other carry similar negative stories. Jc3s5h (talk) 11:07, 23 July 2020 (UTC)
    Alternatives to competitive media sources (e.g., CNN/Fox) include academic journals, books, and noncompetitive media sources (e.g., CNN/BBC). Levivich[dubiousdiscuss] 06:50, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
    @Levivich: How about New York Times versus Washington Post? Associated Press versus Reuters? Are they competitive? starship.paint (talk) 07:13, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
    @Starship.paint: AP/Reuters, yes. That means if there was, say, a scandal at AP, we shouldn't use a Reuters article as the only source for content about the scandal (and perhaps not use it at all, but at least not as the only source), because Reuters has a COI when it comes to its main competitor, AP. NYT/WaPo is a bit more grey-area for me. NYT/WSJ are in the same city and thus would be "conflicted" in my view. NYT and WaPo are not in the same city, so they don't compete for the same local market, but they do compete for the same national market, in the same way as AP and Reuters. So if there were a scandal at NYT, I would avoid using WSJ as a source at all, and I'd probably avoid using WaPo as the only source, although if it had a particularly in-depth article (as it probably would), I might use that along with other, less-conflicted, sources.
    I don't want to bludgeon this discussion so I'm going to make another related comment now and then shut up: one thing that the earlier RSN thread made me realize is that my own view of CNN and Fox News is likely outdated. I remember when Fox News launched as a direct competitor to CNN, and it became the main alternative for 24hr cable news. For example, as I remember it, people watched the Monica Lewinsky scandal unfold either on Fox or on CNN, depending on their political leaning. Some twenty-five years later, they're really not head-to-head competitors in that way anymore. I was persuaded by the argument that several RSN !voters made that the audience for Fox News, if Fox News disappeared, would not go to CNN, they'd go somewhere else. So perhaps when judging which media groups are competitors, and in which markets they compete, it should be more about more than geography. Levivich[dubiousdiscuss] 07:37, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
    Thanks for your detailed reply, Levivich! starship.paint (talk) 09:02, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
  • I don't think it makes sense to generalize from a discussion about a specific CNN claim/article (in the RSN discussion) to a claim about media sources in general. Rather than simply removing “discredits its competitors” from footnote 9, I think it would make more sense to keep it but soften the statement a bit, saying something like "Further examples of sources with that may have conflicts of interest ..." and then add something to note that the details of a possible conflict of interest case should be assessed to determine whether it's an actual conflict of interest or is instead professional reporting on a negative fact about a competitor. Or if people think that the rest shouldn't be softened (e.g., that "news reports by journalists having financial interests in the companies being reported or in their competitors ..." should still be prefaced by "with" rather than "may have"), then reword it as two sentences, separating out and softening the claim about "articles by any media group that promotes the holding company of the media group or discredits its competitors," but not softening the rest. -- FactOrOpinion (talk) 13:56, 23 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Using an examples CNN and Fox, I honestly wouldn't want a claim from CNN to be used to "discredit" Fox. A book or three on bias in the media from an expert on such things using Fox as a prime example probably already exist and should clearly be preferred by our policies. I think the full close from the other discussion goes this way as well. You can use CNN, but it's probably not a good idea, and if you do, attribute. I tend toward leaving the phrase in the note. --Izno (talk) 14:19, 23 July 2020 (UTC)
    I don't think Izno's post at 14:19, 23 July 2020 (UTC) allows for the speed at which corporate takeovers can change the nature of a source; waiting for a book may not be reasonable. Also, since such discussions are apt to be contentious, relying on books, which are less likely to be widely available for free, may present a problem. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:12, 23 July 2020 (UTC)
    We are not here to right great wrongs. --Izno (talk) 20:29, 23 July 2020 (UTC)
  • A source writing about it's competitors is as egregious of a degredation-due-to-COI as any other type of COI referred to here. I see no reason to remove it based on some discussion about CNN. North8000 (talk) 21:46, 23 July 2020 (UTC)
Notified: Wikipedia:Village pump (policy), Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard, Wikipedia talk:Reliable sources, Wikipedia talk:Independent sources, Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Reliability. — Newslinger talk 06:41, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
  • The footnote doesn't make sense. What does "articles by any media group" mean? Press releases? Or does it mean articles by authors/journalists in publications (ultimately) part of a media group - which would be casting the net super wide and would seem to think that all media organizations exert total top-down editorial control, which is a crass over-simplification: the BBC (say) and RTV are different in this respect. I think the text in question is unhelpful; if a reliable source comments on an the unreliability of an unreliable source that is good for us; vice-versa not so. Trying to re-frame this as some kind of relativist play-off of COIs is unintelligent. Alexbrn (talk) 07:12, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Added by Wifione, who was indef banned for POV problems and sockpuppetry. If Wikipedia ever gets to the point where that level of detail on the quality of sources matters, we'll have come a long way indeed. But we're so far from being there that this footnote seems detrimental. --Hipal/Ronz (talk) 15:09, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
Good point. That's an argument for removing the entire #9. North8000 (talk) 15:19, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove the footnote. This application is clearly incorrect, as we can't even agree on which sources are competitors. Furthermore, it seems questionable to apply this only to media sorces. By the same standard, we should also discount authors who have written similar books and might be competing for sales, academics who may be competing for the same position, etc. I think that COI should be defined more narrowly to affiliation rather than worrying about competition. (t · c) buidhe 15:41, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove entire footnote - I would not only remove the bolded part, but the entire footnote, for the reasons stated above. It is badly worded (indeed, unintelligible in part), confusing, makes little logical sense. Neutralitytalk 22:54, 24 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove (or substantially rewrite) I'm building on the excellent point made by @Buidhe:. Conflicts of interest and definitely far broader than media sources. it is always the case that one should give due consideration to the possibility that there is a conflict of interest. it is quite easy to imagine a conflict of interest if one media outlet is criticizing another media outlet, but importantly a is not necessarily a conflict of interest and b there are many many other examples. The first point means we should not be making the absolute statement that there is a conflict of interest

    are considered to be conflicted sources

    in the second point means that we should not privilege media sources as so much more likely to be conflicted then others that they deserve special mention and everything other than media are swept up in almost an aside

    include but are not limited to

    . The first point is more important. the footnote as written basically states that there is a conflict of interest simply by being a media source. This gives far too much power to editors who might be interested in excluding criticism of media sources. As written, any criticism of one media source by another media source can be simply removed on conflict of interest grounds without needing to assess whether it might be well grounded.--S Philbrick(Talk) 18:31, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
Listed at WP:CENT. Levivich[dubiousdiscuss] 19:56, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove the discredits its competitors clause. The New York Times discredits the Korean Central News Agency.[7] The Times is still a reliable source. — BillHPike (talk, contribs) 23:05, 25 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove the discredits its competitors clause per Newslinger and Billhpike. One important thing to remember is that this is a list of examples — removing the phrase doesn't mean every possible instance of a media source covering another source negatively is acceptable, but rather just that the issue is sufficiently nuanced that it's not appropriate to use it as a clear-cut example of something not okay. I generally trust editors to be able to decide on a case-by-case basis whether a media outlet is operating with a sufficient editorial firewall when covering another source for it to be considered reliable. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 06:39, 26 July 2020 (UTC)
    Oops, seems like we don't have an article for editorial firewall. Someone should probably write that... {{u|Sdkb}}talk 06:40, 26 July 2020 (UTC)
    It's covered (briefly) at Chinese wall. Calidum 07:11, 26 July 2020 (UTC)
    Thanks, I've created a redirect from Editorial firewall to Chinese wall § Journalism. — Newslinger talk 07:51, 26 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove discredits its competitors for the reasons others have highlighted as well as the related or in their competitors in the following sentence. I also believe the litigation part should be rewritten, because, based on my reading, if a person sues a newspaper for libel we could no longer use that newspaper as a source for that person, even if the case is thrown out. (My concerns about that section go beyond that, but that is just one example.) I'm ambivalent about the rest of the paragraph, except the paid news report part. Calidum 07:03, 26 July 2020 (UTC)
    • On second thought, remove the whole thing. Any parts that might be relevant would presumably be covered by other rules. Calidum 23:04, 30 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove. This is premised on on two myths that are, unfortunately, broadly considered gospel. Namely that (a) human (and journalists', specifically) behaviour is largely driven by financial considerations, and (b) that any single journalist would compromise their work for the infinitesimal difference some story critical of a competitor may have on their future salaries. A CNN journalist will not criticise FOX News because management told them to, or because they own put options. They'll do it because they hate FOX and everything it stands for. 193.27.14.72 (talk) 20:20, 27 July 2020 (UTC) 193.27.14.72 (talk) has made few or no other edits outside this topic.
"Sources that may have interests other than professional considerations in the matter being reported are considered to be conflicted sources." Wouldn't "I hate the other news agency" be as much a non-professional consideration as a financial interest is? Ken Arromdee (talk) 21:33, 27 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove "discredits its competitors" only (and the closer will have to be careful to see which comments to "remove" are only about that quote, not the broader footnote—which is not actually quoted in full in the RfC text). This is a complicated one, to be sure. Under capitalism, both a media organisation and its journalists have no choice but to pursue the profit motive at least somewhat (unless it's a state propaganda tool, which is worse). Unfortunately, we can't mitigate all the effects of this—which include (but are not limited to) political agendas which support the organisation, overt conflicts of interest, sensationalist reporting, reporting selectively on facts which fit the public discourse, short-termism and pandering to a demographic. We can mitigate a couple. But I like Hipal's If Wikipedia ever gets to the point where that level of detail on the quality of sources matters, we'll have come a long way indeed. I don't think precluding CNN from being used to comment on Fox or AP for Reuters is helpful at this time. Without convincing reason to include text in a policy, it should be removed, to mitigate wikilawyering, overcomplication and a higher barrier to entry for new editors. — Bilorv (talk) 22:29, 27 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove entire footnote as unnecessary, confusing and requiring OR to make any determination. Beyond My Ken (talk) 02:33, 28 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove as overly-broad; in the modern media market you could reasonably portray anyone as a competitor to anyone else. (Fox itself considers what it does to be "news and entertainment"; is it therefore in competition with all entertainment on TV?) I'm not at all understanding the argument made above that CNN is a competitor to Fox but the NYT isn't; paper and cable news are, in the abstract, absolutely in competition, and in theory if the NYT could publish a magic story that utterly discredited cable news - which, of course, discrediting a major cable news network would be a step towards - they would, in theory, profit from it. Obviously that is absurd, but it seems to me that the idea that CNN is compromised by similar thinking is equally absurd, and illustrates the general problem with drawing "markets" so broadly. I think that an extremely specific and overwhelming overlap might qualify, but in that respect Fox (which, unlike CNN, is a "partisan-branded" network targeting an ideologically specific audience) isn't really a competitor to CNN - it is competing more directly with newer upstarts like eg. Breitbart. --Aquillion (talk) 10:56, 28 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove entire footnote. The "discredits its competitors" part is bad for reasons that multiple editors have explained above, but the rest isn't much better. It reads like an attempt at legalese written by a committee of non-lawyers, aspiring to rigor and implementing a kind of cargo cult version of it. Clarity is noticeably absent. As best as I can tell, the footnote is trying to jam multiple issues together (attacking one's supposed competitors, litigation, ...), and it succeeds at explaining none of them. XOR'easter (talk) 07:24, 29 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove entire footnote I commented above but did not "vote". Overly prescriptive and an overgeneralization. The "discredits its competitors" part is probably one of the best parts of it; a case where the sources is almost certainly so biased to be worthless, so I certainly wouldn't remove just that. North8000 (talk) 14:59, 29 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove entire footnote. Given the oligopolization of America, you can make a case for a journalist being involved with respect to practically any company they report on. Common sense is far superior to an overgeneralization like this. -- King of ♥ 03:30, 30 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove per WP:CREEP. Most sources have some implicit conflict of interest. Aacademic papers are trying to push or support a thesis; journalists are trying to attract readers and sell advertising; authors are trying to sell their book; and they all usually have a political angle or bias. Being professional doesn't change this; it just means that they being paid and so have pay-masters to keep happy. The best work may well be amateur, being done for love rather than money – that's what we seem to rely on here at Wikipedia. Andrew🐉(talk) 18:59, 30 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove entire footnote footnote is poorly written in pseudo-legalese. Guidance on COI sources should belong in guidelines like WP:RS or WP:COI anyways, since WP:V is a high-level policy. Galobtter (pingó mió) 20:21, 30 July 2020 (UTC)
  • Status quo ante The discussion at RSN was wrongly decided. No change should be made here. Chris Troutman (talk) 19:30, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Status quo ante - I agree with Chris t, but will add that it is not just a matter of us demoting a RS based on their competitors' financial conflicts of interest, or the fact they took a back seat in the ratings game, or have a polar opposite political POV; rather, this issue reaches much deeper into our core content policies - NPOV, V and OR - and we should not allow arguments that cite biased/COI sources to determine the final outcome of anything - WP:CONTEXTMATTERS. Our own arguments tend to have a partisan flavor to them, and while one side may outnumber the other at any given RfC for whatever reason, we must keep in mind that WP is not a democracy, and quite frankly, neither is the USA (it is a Republic with an electoral college), and therein lies part of the problem with the current rating method of entire networks, channels and online publications that have numerous sections with differing political views. It is not and will never be a simple yes or no answer - there are too many nuanced arguments including the ones that led to the creation of Footnote 9, along with REDFLAG, NOTNEWS, RECENTISM, LABEL, NEWSORG, SYNTH etc. To rid the project of that footnote would open the door to making any biased/COI source a reliable enough source to state the biased material in WikiVoice with a simple citation rather than using intext attribution, and that will open a whole new can of worms. Atsme Talk 📧 21:58, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Keep - At this point I do not see issue with requiring better sources for someone complaining about their competitors. Creep does not seem to come into play since this was around in 2012. I am not very sympathetic to the New York Times reporting on Korean Central News Agency either, I generally do not see them as direct competitors. Levivich summed that up well near the top. The fact that it was written by a indef banned user, at this point, is not relevant since again it was written in 2012 and you could make a WP:STATUSQUO argument. PackMecEng (talk) 23:29, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove entire footnote for the reasons described by Buidhe and others. The footnote is poorly worded, solves no clear problem, and is vague enough that it's an open invitation to wikilawyering. We already have guidance on how to handle conflicts of interest. This footnote doesn't reflect best practices, nor does it harmonize with other existing guidance—it looks like it was added and then largely ignored until the recent Fox News RfC. More to the point, we can rely on reputable journalistic outlets for reliably-sourced coverage of other media. This footnote limits our ability to write comprehensively and accurately about media organization, and so should be removed. After all, policy is meant to describe best practices, not to try to coerce changes to them. MastCell Talk 23:07, 3 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Keep per status quo arguments above. I would agree with Starship.paint and Newslinger about the removal of discredits its competitors. Arguments that the footnote invites unhelpful wiki-lawering are belied by the fact that it has been live for 8 years without issue. petrarchan47คุ 20:55, 4 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove per the confusion over what it means --Guerillero | Parlez Moi 14:47, 5 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Remove per the reasons I provided at the RSN discussion that prompted this discussion, as well as the fact that it appears the most problematic language was added to the footnote without discussion (I skimmed through the archived discussions and found a lot from that timeframe about truth vs. verifiability, but I couldn't find anything indicating that there was a consensus about the language for this footnote); I suspect that if the language had been discussed at that time, the consensus eight years ago would not have been for inclusion. Grandpallama (talk) 16:32, 6 August 2020 (UTC)

Suggesting clarification of PAYWALL[edit]

A few weeks ago, I noticed that the "Access to sources" section weren't very clear in its message, it kinda beats around the bush of explaining that paid and rare sources are acceptable. I performed this edit to rectify, but that was reverted as controversial. I saw it as unchanging to meaning, but I guess I'll seek consensus. Anyone opposed to the linked edit or have other suggestions? Gaioa (T C L) 22:23, 1 August 2020 (UTC)

I noted this edit as odd and just didn't hit the revert button myself.
I don't think the AGF reference is appropriate here. It is reasonable to ask after the details of these sources. (We have had some hoaxes and generally false articles propped up by fake offline sources, as well as misunderstood offline sources.)
I also think the present section fairly straightforwardly says that these sources should not be rejected. We might consider using positive words there instead of negative i.e. "These sources are acceptable for use on Wikipedia." rather than "Do not reject reliable sources just because they are difficult or costly to access.", but that is not what your edit did (instead somewhat convoluting the section with the one regarding offline sources; maybe there's a separate improvement there). --Izno (talk) 03:27, 2 August 2020 (UTC)

What is the purpose of ABOUTSELF?[edit]

Recently, I've had a couple of discussions with folks at WP:RSN about the use of questionable sources as sources about themselves. One was whether a journal that acted as "an official arm of the Catholic church" can be used as a source for Catholic teachings (Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Noticeboard/Archive_304#Landas). The other was whether Iranian State TV can be used a source for the viewpoint of the Iranian government (Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Noticeboard#RfC:_PressTV).

In both cases, my position was "yes", yet many people argued "if their viewpoint is notable it should already be covered in reliable sources". If that is the case, then why does WP:ABOUTSELF exist? It clearly allows us to use "questionable sources" without the "requirement that they be published experts in the field". Does WP:ABOUTSELF not allow us to include material (subject to some constraints) that is not covered in reliable, secondary sources? VR talk 16:12, 2 August 2020 (UTC)

A map showing where the subject was boring - L
I always saw it as something for minor facts that while important might not get much coverage in secondary sources. For BLP articles I would say things like birthday or where the subject was boring born would be fine as long as it is not controversial or contradicted anywhere. For organizations I could see the use of mission statements for example or an about us page. But that should be cleared not to violate WP:PROMO. In the end if the claim has value to the article and not controversial then it should be okay to use. PackMecEng (talk) 16:47, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
where the subject was boring – So that might come up, for example, in bios of college professors and geologists? EEng 17:46, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
Also engineers. Dang it, Freudian slip?718smiley.svg Thanks for the catch! PackMecEng (talk) 17:49, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
Freud's first slip. EEng 17:56, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
Think we'd definitely need a secondary source that a person was boring. Hyperbolick (talk) 17:58, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
This; for basically things that would be basic, non-controversial encyclopedic data that we'd would include for any other equivalent entity as long as it was known and sourceable. Birthdate, hometown, what school they went to, their early career for a person, or for a company, their current employee size, year of founding, major division/locations, etc. These should be seen as filling in the gaps where significant coverage from secondary coverage from a standpoint of notability or other policy. --Masem (t) 16:58, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
Ok, but what about not so "boring" stuff? Like living person A gets accused of something and the allegation is picked up by secondary sources, but person A's response to those allegations is not?
Anyway, if its only for "boring" stuff, this should really be clarified in the policy.VR talk 22:47, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
Since we are all trying to bore each other here can I offer another about self example? There are two cases I think are important ABOUTSELF examples. The first is if DUE, RSs have said something about an article subject (person, organization etc) then the subject should be allowed to reply and, within reason, we should cover that reply. So if company X was accused of, for example, wrongful termination of workers then a company statement refuting such claims should be allowed as a source. That does not mean quote it but we can say the company responded and, if appropriate, include a summary or key highlights. Another example is if the actions of a person or organization make more sense in context of their position on a topic. Here my go to example is gun rights organizations. It generally easy to find sources saying a gun rights organization (often the NRA) is spending huge amounts of money to oppose some "common sense reform" but that doesn't really help an uninformed reader understand why they might oppose such a law. However, if the organization has published a statement saying "why we oppose X" then it seems reasonably to summarize such a statement as it helps readers understand why an organization would put such effort into stopping what many assume is an obvious rule. So my criteria in the second instance is ABOUTSELF should be allowed when an organization has published policy/action/etc statements that directly relate to the organizations actions in the real world. I don't have a great way to phrase that second case but I do think it's important to help understand why a person or organization does something. Springee (talk) 02:22, 3 August 2020 (UTC)
Basically we don't want to include a company talking about themselves without some external reason to including it, as to avoid self-statement appearing to be promotional or platforming for the entity. --Masem (t) 03:01, 3 August 2020 (UTC)
Masem and Springee, so let me try phrase that better: WP:WEIGHT can only be conferred by reliable, secondary sources. "Weight" is whether a topic should even be discussed on wikipedia. But once WP:WEIGHT has been conferred, then WP:ABOUTSELF is allowed subject to the constraints already listed at WP:ABOUTSELF (e.g. no promotional or exceptional claims). WP:WEIGHT can't be conferred by WP:ABOUTSELF (except in trivial cases like birthday) so we can't use WP:ABOUTSELF about anything that has not appeared in reliable, secondary sources. Does I understand you correctly? VR talk 01:48, 4 August 2020 (UTC)
WEIGHT has nothing to do with how we determine what is included, but how to judge what to include when there are multiple viewpoints to consider. Notability is the guideline to judge when we have sufficient coverage to include a topic on an article. And particularly for organizations, we have a narrow WP:NORG that limits the types of sources for notability to avoid promotional articles on WP. But once notability is met we can include primary sourced material. But this is still whether we don't want to include a company's advocacy unless that itself was the subject of attention from a third-party or in response to a third-party , as discussed. --Masem (t) 03:10, 4 August 2020 (UTC)
I think we need to be careful that "exceptional claims" isn't used to censor the motivations behind the actions of the article subject (organization, BLP etc). That an person holds a particular opinion may not be a controversial claim even if the specific opinion is. If Jim said, "I can fly" before jumping off the bridge we don't treat Jim said he could fly as exceptional even if we think Jim can fly is exceptional. The difference being the first explains Jim's thinking/rational. So long as we know Jim said that (and for argument sake assume it's Jim's view) then it's not controversial that Jim said it (and for argument sake) feels it to be true. Of course it would be exceptional to assume Jim had the physical ability to fly like Superman. There was a previous discussion about this subject here [[8]]. Springee (talk) 13:22, 4 August 2020 (UTC)