Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/Archive 21

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I gave myself an example of the behaviour that I think is sound Wiki, which some people here clearly think is entirely inappropriate. In tweaking an article, I realised that a referenced article was particularly ill-written - Disk mirroring - and I find that fairly offensive in an article that has existed for a couple of years - so it seems something of an orphan. It caught my fancy, I have a particular dislike of detail and technical without what I think a reasonable person would understand. My background is that I have worked in IT for over 25 years (yes, I am a wrinkly, not a bright-eyed and bushy tailed young academic). What I saw offended me so I used my knowledge and direct experience to write a summary [1]. This knowledge was gained from IBM red books, other IT staff, informal discussions, expensive consultants but I would not have in mind any ready or reliable source, the sort of way you gain an MSc from Cambridge - living and breathing ;) . If you go there you can take a judgement, it the hole that has remained for some time worth plugging, is my unreferenced top of the head explanation of disk mirroring, did it make Wikipedia a slightly better place? I am not so interested in this propeller-head topic that I would be interested in editing further. I've done my bit, an attempt at a reasonably structured brain dump on the topic, not advancing a position, simply explaining, as well as I can quickly, what it is. Two years ago, this would have been agreed to be an entirely appropriate response. Now it seems there is a strong point of view that I have committed a WikiSin. Have I? Is it even OR? Spenny 09:13, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

Nutshell wording

In a recent edit, the wording of the nutshell was changed from:

Articles should only contain material that has been published by reliable sources. Editors adding or restoring material that has been challenged or is likely to be challenged, or any quotations, must provide a reliable published source, or the material may be subject to removal.


Material that is challenged or likely to be challenged needs a reliable, published source, as do quotations.

The latter version seems to imply (probably unintentionally) that material that is not likely to be challenged does not need a reliable, published source. I replaced the nutshell with:

Articles may contain only material that has been published by reliable sources.

but was reverted. I agree that the first version is a bit repetitive, but what is the advantage of version #2 over version #3? Thanks, Black Falcon (Talk) 20:15, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Version 3 can be read equivalently to "all material must be copied from somewhere else". Even if we want to say that all material, absolutely all of it, must be sourced (including "chickens lay eggs" and "the Earth moves around the Sun"), then it should be worded more like "All material must have a reliable, published source", as this doesn't imply that the material itself must have been published (verbatim). SamBC 20:22, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
Do you mean to tell me that we don't want to encourage blatant plagiarism and copyright violations? ... :P How about:

Article content, especially quotations and content that is challenged or likely to be challenged, must be supported by reliable, published sources.

This version also tries to integrate SlimVirgin's revision. Black Falcon (Talk) 20:33, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm mostly happy with that wording. I worry, however, that people may be encouraged (or inspired) to cause trouble by demanding references for common knowledge or blatantly true material. I expect that's a much wider debate, and I think it's been being discussed recently. SamBC 20:38, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
Hmmm ... that's true. In that case, I think it would be prudent to wait and see what others have to say about this. Cheers, Black Falcon (Talk) 20:47, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
I like that last wording. It shifts the focus away from the content itself and onto the citations it is "supported by", which is the point of WP:V Blueboar 00:07, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

Reset indent The last proposed revision is quite acceptable. Almost as good as the previous version as mentioned at the top of this section. Adrian M. H. 00:35, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

I can see why people would like the 'original' (in terms of this section) version shortened or tightened up. However, on reflection, I can see one real problem with the latest suggestion from Black Falcon - you can't say "this must be done, especially when that" - must isn't quantifiable, you can't have multiple degrees of 'must'. If something is compulsory, it can't be more or less compulsory than anything else that is compulsory. Plus, it loses the emphasis that all quotations must be sourced and referenced, not just challenged or contentious ones. I'm getting more and more convinced that the original is hard/impossible to shorten effectively. SamBC 00:56, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps we could just drop the middle part and leave: Article content must be supported by reliable, published sources. I think that accurately captures the core of the policy without getting bogged down in the details. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 04:21, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
BlackFalcon, your suggested nutshell — "Articles may contain only material that has been published by reliable sources — is actually a description of WP:NOR, not WP:V.
NOR tells us that all material in WP must be attributable to a reliable, published source. That is, there must be someone out there who has published that material before. V tells us only when it must actually be attributed i.e. when we must actually cite a source. And that's for all material that is challenged or likely to be challenged, or quotations.
If something isn't likely to be challenged, we don't need to source it (V). But we do need to know we can source it if required (NOR).
It was to make that distinction clearer that we wrote WP:ATT as a summary of the policies. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 06:25, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
WP:ATT was a definite improvement. But people get stuff in their head a certain way and then can't see it any other way. As one wag put it: it's not what people don't know that's the problem - it's what they know that ain't so. WAS 4.250 14:12, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
SlimVirgin, my latest suggested nutshell (sorry for the confusion ... there're 5 versions above) is worded differently: Article content must be supported by reliable, published sources. I suppose "supported by" can be taken to mean "attributable", but I actually mean "attributed". Black Falcon (Talk) 17:57, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
That's better, but it's still more of a description of NOR than V. What do you feel is wrong with "Material that is challenged or likely to be challenged needs a reliable, published source, as do quotations?" Or if you want to make the attributed/attributable distinction clearer, then "Material that is challenged or likely to be challenged, and all quotations, must be attributed to a reliable, published source." SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 19:49, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
I think the "Material that is challenged ..." wording is too weak. In general, I feel that most article content, and not just content that is challenged or likely to be challenged, should be attributed. Of course, this may be a view that others do not share. Black Falcon (Talk) 19:58, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
Black Falcon, the nutshell has to summarise what the policy says, and I think that SlimVirgin's latest version is an accurate summary of that. The policy that the nutshell is summarising does not say that most article content needs an attribution. SamBC 20:01, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
You're right ... I suppose I've been putting the cart before the horse. My apologies. As far as I'm concerned, I think we can consider the matter settled. I would prefer a change in (strengthening of) the policy, but that would require a broader discussion than this. Cheers, Black Falcon (Talk) 20:11, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, BF. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 20:13, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

particularly consensus

Okay, there is a slow motion edit war happening on this page, the two sets of parties seem to disagree about the consensus regarding the word "particularly". Well, regardless of if there was a consensus or not in the past, the reverting indicates there is no consensus either way now. So lets come to agreement about it first instead of changing the official policy back and forth like a light switch. I don't like protecting policy pages due to long term editors edit warring, but I will. Until(1 == 2) 13:54, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

I haven't participated in the edit war, but do oppose removing the word. Doing so has the effect of outlawing non-mainstream sources in any topic which is covered by a peer-reviewed journaly, but there are a lot of places where such sources are useful. JulesH 15:46, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

That's exactly the problem. While it's true that mainstream sources are usually going to be preferred, there may be an unusual or minority source that's nevertheless reliable enough. This policy can't rule out any reliable sources, and what counts as reliable and appropriate will depend on context and editorial judgment. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 15:56, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
Although the discomfort with "particularly" is understandable, JulesH and especially SlimVirgin have already stated the point pretty clearly, and SV numerous times. Although I haven't tossed a dart in this particular edit war, the opposition seems even more troubling when we consider that "mainstream sources" may (in some instances) be subject to scrutiny for academic misconduct, Category:Scientific misconduct, or even outright forgery, and still have partial merit as a reference even after being thoroughly discredited. (See e.g., Sokal Affair).
Moreover, as Birgitte already indicates in an earlier thread, the imprimatur of "mainstream" or "official" (sometimes these are used interchangeably) is neither necessary nor sufficient proof of reliability.
We may all disagree to what extent certain sources of information can be trusted or taken at face value, (I personally don't totally agree with Birgitte's analysis above, for example). The point is, this is an area that sometimes calls for well-informed judgment on a case-by-case basis. Even though the "individual close calls" should be relatively few in number, we should not be trying to obliterate editorial discretion and sound reasoning with an unconditional and universal endorsement of "mainstream sources" as somehow innately superior and beyond all scrutiny in comparison to all other potential sources of information in the universe. This simply does not stand up to logical scrutiny, and seems inappropriate. dr.ef.tymac 16:41, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
I can't agree with your paraphrase of my comments. I don't believe I have ever commented on the reliability of "mainstream" or "official" sources in general terms. I did object to the particular proposed wording in that thread, but you straying far from that context with this generalization. I might be able to clarify my thoughts on general situation if you expanded on why you "don't totally agree" with my comments. Honestly I haven't given it a great deal of thought outside of that particular proposed wording. IMHO reliability is factor of two things the degree of scrutiny a publication receives (scrutiny by subject experts is a greater degree than that which is done by standard fact checkers) and the reputation of the reviewers and/or the organization they are affiliated with. But in regards to this particular dispute I have never honestly known how to qualify what a "mainstream source" exactly is. I know that it means things like the New York Times, but I don't know what quality in particular a mainstream source has (besides that it contains mainstream views but that is a bit circular). Without being certain of that, I really can't say what my opinion is about the inherent reliably of "mainstream sources". So I doubt that you know what it is ;)--BirgitteSB 17:13, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
No problem Birgitte, first, let me say my main intent in referring to your comment was to make a more "general" point about the difficulty of distinguishing what "mainstream" actually means, and how "mainstream" is not (by itself) a guarantee of validity. I thought you made a very good example of this (general) point by talking about the (specific example) of "government sources". Many WP contributors equate "governmental" and "official" with "mainstream" ... I'm not saying I agree with that, and I'm definitely not claiming that's what you said earlier. I was just trying to point out that the "definitions" of these terms can overlap.
Sorry if I muddied the waters or made it look like I was appropriating your views to support my own. As you indicated here, your point and mine were not necessarily the same. I saw an overlap which is why I mentioned it, but I failed to expressly "connect the dots" to make it clear.
The good thing about this unintended confusion is, it is another example that actually reinforces my original point.
A lawyer might consider the Code of Federal Regulations to be extremely reliable and above reproach. She might also consider it reliable because it is a governmental publication, that also happens to be "mainstream" (it is to lawyers anyway). In contrast, an Epidemiologist might not consider the CFR to be reliable at all, even though sections thereof directly cover medical topics and relate to clinical research. For the physician, the fact that it is "mainstream" or "official" or "governmental" (or whatever other 'label' you want to attach to it) is no solace and no comfort. The physician's definition of "fact checking" may have nothing to do with the lawyer's definition. Therefore, it follows that the physician's definition of "mainstream" is also subject to variation (even though the definition of "governmental publication" is not).
Same publication, same words, same topics, but different conclusions of "validity" based on the perspective of the person reading it. That's really the point I was making (tried to make), and the reason why "particularly" seems appropriate here. dr.ef.tymac 17:51, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

(od) First, saying regardless of if there was a consensus or not in the past is a problem. It is *not* irrelevant that consensus was established on Draft 1; it is relevant, as is the fact that that version is not in the article when it should be. We can't keep having long, drawn-out discussions to find a solution on which most of us can agree only to have it reverted, often without discussion, ad infinitum. Second, there was strong objection to this sentence when it was part of the whole "welcome" business--whether "particularly" was left out of genuine error or because of the reverts, the problem remains that it is simply not well-worded. As I explained before in my rationale for deleting it, saying "particularly if they are respected" suggests it is OK if they are not respected, but we just prefer it if they were! Of course, they must be respected whether they are mainstream sources or not. With the current wording, we might as well say, "articles should rely on respected mainstreams sources, but we make occasional exceptions for non-respected, non-mainstream sources"! Save for deleting "particularly", how else would this work? Delete "respected" at least per Draft 3? — Zerida 21:11, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

So I take it no one would object to the deletion of "respected" from that sentence? It's redundant anyway, since the first part of the sentence indicates that non-academic sources must be reliable, so there is an assumption that they will be respected (or at least not non-respected like the qualifier suggests). — Zerida 02:43, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
Judging by the discussion, there's consensus for the current version, Zerida. The bottom line is that sources don't have to be mainstream. They just have to reliable and appropriate, and what that means is a matter of context and editorial judgment. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 06:37, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
No, judging by the discussion, there was a misunderstanding. This is not about whether sources should be mainstream or not, I've already explained what my concern is. And could you stop unilaterally archiving the Draft thread when this is still under discussion? Otherwise, my post makes no sense. — Zerida 06:55, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
Your post does make sense, and the page has to be archived, because it's getting hard to load. You want to remove "respectable." Can you say why? SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 07:00, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
Because of what I explained above. Did you my read response above or is there something I need to clarify? Here is my rationale again: saying "particularly if they are respected" suggests it is OK if they are not respected, but we just prefer it if they were! Of course, they must be respected whether they are mainstream sources or not. With the current wording, we might as well say, "articles should rely on respected mainstreams sources, but we make occasional exceptions for non-respected, non-mainstream sources"! Save for deleting "particularly", how else would this work? Delete "respected" at least per Draft 3?Zerida 07:04, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
Saying "particulary if they are respected, mainstream sources" does not suggest it's okay if they are not respected. It means it's okay if they are not "respected mainstream sources", though less okay than if they are. This is because, as several people explain above, we don't only use "respected mainstream sources." It's not a good idea to remove respected, because not all mainstream sources are okay. The British Sun is mainstream and not okay, for example. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 07:09, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
There is another qualitative issue. There is an assumption here that the sources are a complete, sensible and comprehensive discussion, but we are comparing apples and pears. A newspaper article may be a proper analysis, or a throwaway comment. If we claim the BBC as a source, we have a range of styles, from the as it happens news, which we would generally see as attempting to be correct within the normal bounds of journalistic incompetence, we have magazine pieces, which can be very POV, we have historical summary pieces, (all you need to know about life in 3 paragraphs). While these sources can be great for "in a nutshell" they are also very dangerous for over-simplification - they may not even be directly concerned with the topic at hand. The real danger is for POV-pushing where an editor cannot find a solid source to say what they want to say, but an editor can Google around for a journalist who happens to use the right words in a respected mainstream source. The respectability of the source is no guide to the quality of the piece in relation to the subject.
I think you are right to be very nervous about phrasing here, so the underlying point must remain, anything other than the respected peer reviewed journals must be treated with the utmost suspicion and there should be an extra strong suspicion where one of the lesser sources appears to support a contradictory POV to peer reviewed publications. Spenny 08:50, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
It means it's okay if they are not 'respected mainstream sources': <sigh> Of course, I don't need to keep pointing out why this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, to put it quite mildly, and if it weren't presented so matter-of-factly, I would think you were joking. However, at least one can take comfort in that when all else fails, one is safe invoking WP:IAR. — Zerida 09:37, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure I understood your point, Zerida, but based on your apparent concern it seems there is still some possible misunderstanding here. Just to clarify, consider these yes/no questions: 1) Do you agree that there is room for disagreement, even among recognized experts in any given field, over what constitutes a "respected" source? -- 2)Ditto for what constitutes a "mainstream" source? ... Just trying to better understand if there is any common ground within the differing views expressed here. dr.ef.tymac 10:08, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
(od) My concern is the implication given in the sentence that a non-respected source (whatever that entails) may be used, which is in contradiction with several other parts of the policy. For example, the policy states elsewhere: the most reliable sources are .... books published by respected publishing houses; and mainstream newspapers and Questionable sources should only be used in articles about themselves. Saying that non-academc sources may be used in academic articles, particularly if they are respected mainstream publications is a contradiction. While this may not be the intention behind it, it actually gives the impression that this is not as important for academic articles as for general ones. It suggests that "non-respected mainstream" publications for example (whatever that means) can be used.
So even while I agree with you that there can be disagreement over what constitutes a "respected source" (just as there would be on the definition of "reliable source", "mainstream source", etc.), the policy is here, among other things, to stress the use of sources that are for the most part reliable, respectable and mainstream publications whenever possible. Editors can debate whether the NYT is a respectable publication to their heart's content on an article's talk page, but from a policy standpoint, it is reliable, respected and mainstream enough to be included within context. Since this the intention behind the sentence, and the policy in general, I don't see the harm in eliminating a potential loophole that could invite misuse. — Zerida 01:10, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
Okay, that does indeed clarify an issue here. We both seem to agree that there is "wiggle room" in the definition of the terms (respected, mainstream etc.) I would also add (and you may or may not agree) that the variance in definition also hinges on the purpose for a source is used, and the topic area in which it is used. In other words, it's a bigger issue than just WP contributors debating it out on a talk page. Some publications are inherently "defective" for use in certain professions and disciplines, but not in others (thus widening the "wiggle room").
It seems to me that this "wiggle room" is the inherent limitation that cannot be done away with, and must be acknowledged in this policy, or indeed, in any context that presumes to define "reliable" or "mainstream" for a general audience. This is a "loophole" that simply cannot be closed. I don't have a mathematical proof for you (although I bet one is available) so I will just ask you to consider this:
1) the term "particularly" (which you disfavor) points to the "loophole"; 2) the terms "for the most part reliable" *also* points to the "loophole"; 3) the terms "it is reliable, respected and mainstream *enough*" again, points to the same loophole. The problem seems to stick out like a sore thumb; there is no universal way to define these terms to the satisfaction of all. dr.ef.tymac 07:06, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
Dr. Ef, I am referring to something very specific in the policy, not debating semantics. The policy does have to be general enough in order to cover a range of articles, and of course, you will still get editors who say "I edit such and such articles, and this part doesn't cover so and so" etc. No one said the policy has to be, or that it can be, perfect. That is, however, different to me from saying that a "loophole" is part and parcel of the policy. It is inevitable only if some insist on making it so for their own purposes. And even if a loophole "cannot be closed", it doesn't need to be made wider with a badly-worded section and obstinate edit-warring that get passed off as "consensus". It is supposed to be remedied, and ideally eliminated. — Zerida 05:48, 28 July 2007 (UTC)
Alright Zerida, having followed these proceedings for a while, I respect your opinion, and I do agree that at times the discussion has gotten into unproductive territory in the recent past. I do think, however, that sometimes attending to the "semantics" is not counter-productive if it helps clarify misunderstandings and uncover potential common ground between alternative reasonable viewpoints.
In any event, you've presented good-faith arguments that are reasonably consistent and well-informed (IMO). Hopefully you will not be dissuaded from continuing to do so, despite that it may appear some are insisting on "their own purposes" here. Although, yes, that may be a factor, I still think there is legitimate merit to both "sides" of this issue. Regardless of the "side" ... I'll support any effort to improve the tone of the discussion itself, so that it does indeed stay focused on the merits. Regards. dr.ef.tymac 14:01, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

Purposed change: challenged material = inline citation

I am sure that this has come up before, that I probably rehashing something that that has already been discussed here, or on WP:RS or some place else of substance, but here it goes.

If one is pushing a particular POV, the easiest way to maintain material that other editors consider controversial or unreliable is to reference it in the vaguest possible manner, and then repeated that the source is reliable for that material. You demand that other editors accept on faith that what you claim a source says is an accurate portrayal of what that source says. Then you demand detailed proof of fallibility from anyone who challenges your assertions. Basically, to most editors, it is not worth the edit war that would ensue if they challenged your source, so the source stands and with it anything you claim that source says. Vagueness becomes your friend; while detail is your enemy.

Wikipedia:Citing sources states: “Inline citations are needed for statements that are challenged or likely to be challenged, including contentious material about living persons, and for all quotations.”
Another innovation. This page should specify the end, not the means. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:46, 29 July 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Verifiability states: “Material that is challenged or likely to be challenged needs a reliable source, which should be cited in the article. Quotations should also be attributed.”

I for one would like to see the wording in V more closely resemble CITE. Wikipedia is now a top-ten web site, and each day more and more people are making decisions based upon its content. I think that the wording in CITE creates a more transparent encyclopedia, it makes it easier for the average user to tell what the original source is, and thus making it easier for the user form an opinion on our reliability. Transparency improves usability.

I would suggest a rewrite stating more or less (I am open on the details):

Material that is challenged or likely to be challenged needs a reliable source, which should be cited using an inline citation. Quotations should also be attributed using an inline citation. Full citations must contain enough information for other editors to identify the specific published work you used; including title, author, publisher, date of publication and (for printed works) the page(s) the material can be found on.

I know that bloat is bad, and giving ammo to trolls is bad; but I think the gains out way these concerns.

Thought I would throw this out and see which way the wind is blowing. Brimba 00:20, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

If you take out "including title, author, publisher, date of publication and (for printed works) the page(s) the material can be found on"(to specific, a title and URL is enough often), I am all for it. "enough information for other editors to identify the specific published work you used" makes the point very well. Until(1 == 2) 00:23, 29 July 2007 (UTC)
I could live with that:) Brimba 00:33, 29 July 2007 (UTC)
I would consider the following ref/cite insufficiently detailed:
[...] Yammer yammer yammer (assertion).<ref>{{cite book|title=Holy Bible, New International Version||publisher=International Bible Society|month=April|Year=2003}}</ref> -- Boracay Bill 02:11, 29 July 2007 (UTC)
The citation is sufficiently detailed to identify the work. The reference to the cite does not provide sufficient detail to verify that the source cited does in fact support the assertion.
I'm confused, are you saying that that's a problem? Citations are not supposed to copy material, they're meant to point to the material so that someone can find it to check. Quotations are only appropriate in limited circumstances. SamBC 02:22, 29 July 2007 (UTC)
I was also confused by the refernces inclusion, which are utterly unrelated to what you were saying, I think. Basically, whether there's enough info in that citation depends entirely on the content of "Yammer yammer yammer (assertion)" - it might give chapter and verse, and if so that's enough. The bible probably isn't the best example to work with, to be fair. SamBC 02:30, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

The two don't disagree - WP:V says things should be cited, WP:CITE says how they should be cited. In any case, the idea that a vague citation is enough is just wikilawyering - if the citation is too vague to be useful, just say so and remove the material. WP:V doesn't trump common sense. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:08, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

The citation is sufficiently detailed to identify the work. The reference to the cite does not provide sufficient detail to verify that the source cited does in fact support the assertion.

This gets to the heart of the problem. Stating that something must be listed is sometimes more useful than arguing over the worthiness of a particular source. If the party wishing to include something is forced to be up front about their source, then it become much easier to ascertain whether the source is valid or not. If you make it mandatory to take the needle out of the haystack and place it in the sunlight, it becomes much easier to see if it is in fact a needle, or just straw. Brimba 02:58, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

Good addition, Brimba. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 19:59, 29 July 2007 (UTC)
I like the addition, but I re-added "in the article" which your change took out, it is amazing how many people think wikilinking to an article with references is enough. Until(1 == 2) 20:07, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

Great and welcome change (or rather clarification) to this policy. Two minor cavils with the current version:

  • The term inline citation is used but not defined/wikilinked. Shouldn't expect new editors, who are most likely be directed to this policy, to know what it means.
  • really, really minor point. The policy says, "using an inline citation that contains enough information ...", but an inline citation (say, using Harvard referencing), need not by itself contain such information; the complete reference may provide the missing fields.

Abecedare 22:16, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

Good point about the wikilink, I suggest WP:FOOT for the link. Until(1 == 2) 22:34, 29 July 2007 (UTC)
I would prefer not to use WP:FOOT for this purpose or any other; I doubt its wording is consensus; having been produced by revert warring by a single irresponsible editor. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:47, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

This is a novel addition; we have always required that citations be clear and precise. This may be done in several ways, as WP:ATTFAQ#When_should_I_use_prose_attributions.3F provides. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:47, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

source should be cited after the sentence or paragraph in question using an inline citation

Citations document tells us how to cite, this tells us that we need to cite. The reference to WP:CITE is close enough for detail. However, if you want the wording this still is not good enough, a quote is cited part way through a sentence and when you say the end of the sentence does it mean before and after the paragraph? In the same way as "in the article" is redundant with common sense, getting into instructions as to how to cite is just bloat in the wording. BRD is bold, revert, discuss, not BRR...D. The how to cite passage should be reverted, but I am not going to edit war over it. Spenny 22:45, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

I have to quote that "in the article" bit a lot, people think that wikilinks to articles with citations are citations. Common sense really is not that common. People really need to be told that a citation goes with the claim it supports, it is not as self evident to many people as one might believe it to be. Until(1 == 2) 22:51, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

OK, I'll give you the "in the article" (if I can actually stop conflicting with you!), remember the audience ;) How to cite, that is still bloat though, the appropriate wording to quote is in policy. Spenny 22:55, 29 July 2007 (UTC)
It depends on the article, however; if, as has been done, summary articles are drawn up by copying the leads of seveeral articles, the text is as well supported in the new place as it was in the old. Anything that encourages use of citations which are not actually checked by the editor quoting them is a bad thing. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:50, 29 July 2007 (UTC)
I agree that "after the sentence or paragraph in question" is too restrictive, since the inline citation can precede the quote (say, "Milton Friedman (The Power of Choice (2007), p3) says that:") or be appended at the end of individual clauses or even words (see first sentence of Nastika#Etymology).
Of course this is entering wikilawyering territory but, if possible, we should aim to word policies as precisely as we can. Abecedare 23:03, 29 July 2007 (UTC)
We should not be discussing methods at all on this page; we should state objectives.Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:50, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

The problem with inline citations

I fear this change is being promoted by the reasoning that if we could just get a footnote at every sentence, all would be well. I wish it were.

I say nothing of that school of bad editors, who add citations to their work, whether or not the source supports what they say. Often this is plain lying; sometimes, looking for a source for what they know to be true, they google for a phrase, and don't read or can't read the context.

But the problem with inline citations is that they decay faster than text, even with good faith editing. The fundamental problem is that editors edit without checking the footnotes; often they can't, when a footnote is to a print or a restricted-access source (as peer-reviewed articles tend to be). I have seen the meaning of a sentence reversed, in a good-faith assumption that the not was vandalism, although the source was the article that proved that the previous accepted truth was false. An editor will recast a sentence to sound better, and move the footnote from what it supports to something it doesn't. An editor will rephrase a carefully worded sentence (changing, for instance, "encourage" to "advocate") and make something false that was ttue.Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:02, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

I agree with PMAnderson's rationale and position. If specific methods are to be introduced into the terms of this policy, it should ideally consist of no more than a general recommendation (if that). Absent a wider discussion, I believe a better course of action would be to avoid the addition; or at least limit it to a footnote indicating it is a recommendation, but not a universally prescribed requirement. dr.ef.tymac 00:21, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
What you (PMAnderson) say is true, but with inline cites it is at least possible for an editor to go back to the source, check whether the attribution is accurate, and if not, correct it (I have done this numerous times). Without an inline cite, one just has to take on faith that a stated fact is possibly backed up by one of the references listed in the Notes/References or Further Reading section. What is a conscientious editor supposed to do if one believes that a statement is incorrect in such a situation ? Just make the edit, even if it ends up deleting/modifying sourced information ?
I simply don't see how one can have verifiability in practice without in line citations. Abecedare 00:25, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
For material that is challenged, we need an inline citation. There is no other way. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 00:27, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
Good to hear you say that. Until(1 == 2) 14:41, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
This is not the case. Please read the next section; an editor who was willing to go to such lengths for WP:ATT and WP:ATTFAQ should know what was in them. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:54, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
As a matter of best practice, this is already policy. No FA or GA would get through without inline citations. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 00:29, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
As a matter of best practice, this is already policy. Which is it, best practice or required practice? I can think of several industries where the two terms do not necessarily mean the same thing. The distinction is subtle, but relevant.
Those who see it otherwise will have their say, but incremental chipping away at editorial judgment and discretion can tend to have a stifling effect on "best practices" because these always evolve over time. dr.ef.tymac 00:40, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
Dr, policy should reflect best practice, so the use of inline citations is already policy. Adding it to this page doesn't really make it policy. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 01:00, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
No, policy should state what there is wide consensus must be done without exception, which is why the wording of {{policy}} differs from {{guideline}} - and why policy should state what we must achieve, not how. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:37, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
Sure. And until we have a better practice than insisting on inline citations for challenged material, we are doing OK with current practice in this regard. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 00:52, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
Others differ. Inline citations in place of prose attributions make contentious articles measurably worse. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:55, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
I think you've misunderstand PMA. The addition of an inline citation doesn't affect in any way the use of a prose attribution. They're two entirely separate issues. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 01:00, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
Yes, it does, when, as in the example from ATTFAQ, in the next section, the prose attribution is itself a clear and precise citation. If everybody who was going to apply this policy were as clueful as those who write it, this would be understood by implication, but I see no reason to be so optimistic. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 12:50, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
I am going to add a footnote and remove the "dubious" tag as an attempt at compromise here. Feel free to revert if you must, but please do try to give it a fair reading first -- and if necessary, try to fix it rather than nix it. Although I think there may be some over-enthusiasm powering the 'inline citation' bandwagon, it is admittedly the majority viewpoint on WP; that much I think goes without saying.
I do not admit that. There is a majority that we should attribute reliably, and there is probably one that inline citation does this (I think over-optimistically, as above). Even those majorities are not overwhelming; the opposition on the WP:ATT poll that thought attribution something novel and undesirable may be misguided (I think so), but it is numerous. I doubt a majority has an opinion on such questions as whether we should require inline citation, or whether to do so without exception. A small clique does on each side of the issues; it may be that one is larger than the other. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:24, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
Nevertheless, any time policy "insists" against conduct that reflects good faith, and may even represent an established convention in certain disciplines and fields, that just strikes me as a cause for some concern; minor concern in this instance, but concern nonetheless. dr.ef.tymac 01:09, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
Policy is not, nor has ever been limited to bad faith actions. WP:V in general deals with good faith actions. Until(1 == 2) 14:43, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
To Until(1 == 2) I never implied that 'bad faith' is the exclusive domain of WP policy, but it definitely should be the primary domain of WP policy if and when we are insisting what "must be done" by all contributors. (Please note the important qualification: "if and when"). Here's one good reason why: every time you instruct editors on what "must be done" you create more incentive to invoke WP:IAR among competent contributors who have good reason for not following a particular convention. The less incentive there is to invoke that, the better.
This point is less related to this specific issue at hand, and more related to the structural implications of WP policy as a whole; and the extent to which that policy has lasting credibility in the eyes of those who are most familiar with it. This is, IMO, a very important point that merits consideration. Others may see it differently, but there's my .02 for ya. dr.ef.tymac 16:26, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
Why should bad faith be the primary domain when it comes to insisting? Requiring verification or clear citations has nothing at all to do with motives, it is an requirement made out of academic standards, not behavioral issues. It is well withing the domain of policy to insist in matters unrelated to good faith/bad faith. I agree with your point about credibility, but I don't agree that this change damages said credibility. Until(1 == 2) 19:31, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
I wouldn't limit "good faith" to simply mean "good behavior" or "good motives". I'd also include any belief consistent with an established (but not widely-recognized) norm, or a any well-reasoned and internally consistent justification for not recognizing a norm. In other words "academic standards" are not entirely separate from "behavioral issues" ... if they were, there would be no need for Academic tenure.
Lest I be misinterpreted as "opposing" verification or clear citations ... I will reiterate my primary concern is with "strictly construed edicts" making their way into policy -- not necessarily with an emphasis on what is established "best practice" as a matter of convention. I feel this point has been made enough though, so ping my talk page if I seem to be in need of a sanity check. I recognize reasonable people can (and do) disagree on this. dr.ef.tymac 02:49, 31 July 2007 (UTC)
I have made it clear that the intention is not to declare alternate conventions policy violations, provided they do in fact provide clear and precise attribution of assertions. That this is possible, and occasionally convenient, the next two sections should show. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:19, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Prose attributions

WP:ATTFAQ was swallowed up in the crash of WP:ATT; but much of it was uncontroversial. The following section on prose attributions is still valid, although the proposed revision above would prohibit them. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:07, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

In general, prose attributions are not precise enough to replace formal citations, although there are exceptions: Paradise Lost (V, 257-9) is more precise than a page, and independent of edition. Again, the following describes the sources precisely; whether it is brilliant prose, and how much of it should be put into footnotes, are editorial decisions:

John Smith argues throughout Chapter IV of his book The Very Reliable Book (Reliable Press, 2005) that inline citations aren't always needed, while George Gordon completely disagrees in a lengthy essay ("Paging Smith") published in the June 2005 issue of Reliability Magazine. The 2007 edition of The Very Reliable Book repeats Smith's arguments, but adds, in a note on page 45, that "Gordon has completely convinced me."

Redundant prose attributions may be excised for clarity; it is not necessary to prepend "according to..." to every place that a controversial source is cited. Where multiple sources state the same thing, a generic prose attribution, such as "According to numerous scientists...", may be used. Prose attributions which overstate the support for a position, which engage in value judgements, or which constitute ambiguous or unfalsifiable "weasel words" should be avoided (See Avoid weasel words).

(Last paragraph struck; consensus, but not germane here Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:00, 30 July 2007 (UTC))

Another counterexample

Consider, please, the article Homotopy groups of spheres. 90% of it is sourced from two sources, both of them a couple pages long; the other 10% has footnotes. One footnote each represents the two sources, each of which sources several sections. This could (perfectly equivalently) be done with an endnote, and was at one point. Its statements have clear and precise references; but its GA status was challenged because it didn't have a footnote saying "Hatcher 2002, p.339, Ravenel 2003, App. 3" after every paragraph.

I'm sure the intention here is not to make the article (or the form as an endnote) a policy violation; we have many better things to do; but that will be the effect. What function would this serve? How does it help the encyclopedia to require unnecessary (and distracting) footnotes? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:10, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. Inline citations should not be required by policy, because there are a large number of edge cases like this. Another is an article I worked on a while back, LR parser, which cites only a single source which is widely held to be the absolute authority on the topic. Clearly there is no need for inline citations here: everything in the article is attributable to this one source. (edit: or at least it did when I worked on it last...)
I would be happy with them being required by a guideline, but policy should apply to almost all articles, and there are clearly a large number of articles where inline citations are unnecessary. JulesH 14:02, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
Even if only 2 citations are used, one still needs to know which citation goes with which claim. If you name a ref you can use the same on over and over and it only gets one entry. I don't see the issue. If a piece of information is cited to a reference, then show it as such, if a whole paragraph cited the same reference, one at the end is enough. If a whole article has only one source, then a citation at the end is an inline citation, but really for NPOV the article needs more than one source anyways. If I cannot tell which citation goes with which claim, then I don't think it should be a good article. No problem. Until(1 == 2) 14:09, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps there is a disagreement over what "inline" means. I would consider it appropriate to put the footnote after a block of text supported by the claim of any length. But if the material is supported by more than one source, then more footnotes would be needed. Until(1 == 2) 14:15, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
This is half the point. Experience shows that any mention of inline citation will be read very narrowly; WP:GA/R is full of bad examples. This particular problem could be solved by deprecating GA as broken, but the same editors would read this the same way elsewhere.
The other half is that if the two footnotes were an endnote, as they used to be, they would contain the same attribution, with the same precision. Why not? Policy should include goals, on which we agree; not methods, on which we can differ. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:30, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
WP:GA says it prefers footnotes in its own right, so I think the changes here more reflect than influence the GA process. Until(1 == 2) 14:41, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
I agree; I meant how they read their own standards: more narrowly than they are stated or than we actually need. They will read any requirement or recommendation here narrowly as well. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:48, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

(outdent) Footnotes provide the best opportunity for verification. A complete footnote citation, with page numbers and ISBN, is a world more useful and quickly verified than in-prose citations and endnotes. Saying that Writer X said Y in Chapter Z of Book Foo seems more than a little shady to me. After all, you must make the interpretation of what Chapter Z "really" says, which is quite plainly original research. We are supposed to report the claims made by reliable sources. If a reliable source says that writer said Y in Chapter Z, then cite that source. Otherwise, individual claims in an article should be directly supported by claims in references. In regards to articles with only one or two reliable secondary sources, I would strongly question the notability of such a subject or simply request more sources. Even obscure scientific and philosophical topics generally have several published articles and at least some mention in several books. Just some thoughts. You're welcome to a grain of salt with them. Vassyana 18:38, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Depends on the source, and the nature of the citation; but I sense that is in fact arguing with the section above. To use the somewhat arbitrary choice of ATTFAQ, what's wrong with "Paradise Lost, V 257-9"? The numeration of Milton is standardized, and it is both more precise and more accessible than John Milton, "Paradise Lost" in Complete Poems and Major Prose ed. M.Y. Hughes, p.331 Indianapolis, Hackett, 1957, ISBN 0872206785. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:07, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
Every strong set of rules and principles recognizes exceptions. I believe such exceptions are rare. The example you cite is really only useful in relation to primary sources, otherwise citing folio, verse, etc numbers does not really apply. Primary sources should be used very sparingly and the type of example only applies to a small minority of primary sources, so this very easily could be handled as a rare exception. In nearly all cases, claims should be directly supported by reliable secondary sources, and they are most clearly verified through full citations. Vassyana 19:24, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
It should recognize exceptions. We must recognize them explicitly here, or see arguments of the form, "This is policy; there can be no exceptions". This is perhaps the chief reason to keep methods in guidelines, which at least have the {{guideline}} tag. But the exceptions are not as rare as all that; consider the FA Pericles. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:47, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
I think trying to expand policies and guidelines to accomodate every reasonable exception is bureaucratic, sisyphysian, and will result in an unwieldy and unmanageable set of rules. The policy and guidelines are supposed to be expositions on principles, not legislation unto itself. We can use some sense and recognize exceptions. Mentioning every exception results in bloated rules and providing by-the-numbers to-the-letter excuses for the abuse of what are exceptions, rather than the rule. Just some thoughts. Vassyana 00:02, 1 August 2007 (UTC) (p.s. To be bluntly honest, I'm nothing less than horrified that a featured article with such profusely available reliable secondary sources relies so heavily on primary sources. For an article that supposed to represent the absolute best of practices, it certainly does not.)

Seeking input

A sentence on Bruce Lee's article is being discussed: "Lee caused a 235lb opponent to fly 15 feet away with a one inch punch." This is supposedly taken almost verbatim from the source, a book by John Little, who has written numerous books on Bruce Lee. Personally, and please point out if I am being biased: I consider this to be an "exceptional" claim as defined under Wikipedia:Reliable sources, as it implies something that seems surprising and is not widely known. This claim suggests that after punching someone at only one inch away, Bruce Lee caused the opponent to "fly" across for 15 feet or about 4.5 meters before stopping, essentially flying across an entire room. The claim does not even suggest that the opponent merely stumbled. This claim has not been verified by the various video footages of Bruce Lee that exist. In the publicly available videos, Bruce Lee punches people but they only take a couple steps back and fall into a chair.(clip) I am not aware of any video footage where any human being can do this.

Another editor feels that the source, Little's book, is an outstanding source, that the claim is non-controversial and does not qualify as an "exceptional" claim, and finally that there is no need to state in the same sentence that the claim is "according to John Little". For the sake of consensus, could some editors please provide some remark on this issue, either here or at Talk:Bruce Lee? Thank you. Shawnc 04:04, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

Frankly, I'm highly dubious about claims like this. While I have seen demonstrations of techniques that are quite startling, this one seems to violate the law of conservation of momentum, so would require exceptional sourcing to state as fact. Perhaps a rephrasing to "sources claim that Lee caused ..." would solve the dispute? JulesH 13:08, 31 July 2007 (UTC)
I agree that adding the phrase "sources claim that" would be more neutral.
Would it be a good idea if we mention this way of presentation in this guideline, ie. for sourced statements that may be considered controversial or difficult to verify by editors? Shawnc 02:18, 1 August 2007 (UTC)
It is not possible. Ask anyone who knows the laws of physics. The only way to make 235lb fly 15 feet with the impact of a human fist is to make it fly down not across. Creating that much momentum with impact force using a human hand exceeds its fracture toughness. On the other hand a strong man can throw 235 lb 15 feet, so it is possible he used his fist over a distance of a few feet (follow through on the "punch") to push the guy hard enough that he fell back and it looked like he flew 15 feet. WAS 4.250 21:06, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

Inappropriate to remove verifiable references?

Shouldn’t this page give better guidance on when it is inappropriate to remove verifiable references? I've ask a similar question at WP:REF. —MJCdetroit 14:30, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

I think where it says that a claim must have a reference if it is challenged or likely to be challenged is all you need to enforce the presence of a reference. Until(1 == 2) 14:50, 31 July 2007 (UTC)
Looking at MJCdetroit's comment at WP:REF... I gather that the references in question were removed from an infobox, and apparently none of it is likely to be challenged (it is stuff like who the mayor of Rochester, NY currently is) ... so it sounds like we are dealing with a styalistic issue rather than a challenge issue... ie whether citations are needed for basic information contained in an infobox or not. Blueboar 15:04, 31 July 2007 (UTC)
Such normally non-controversial information only needs to be referenced if challenged. But if challenged, then yes it needs a citation. Often the information in the infobox is mirrored in the article content, it can be referenced there if so, and not in the infobox. Until(1 == 2) 15:24, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

Of Gladio, LaRouche, and why detailed inline citations are important

Here is one example of why we need detailed inline citations; it is the page and the issue that got me to propose the inline citation change, as I wished to revisit the issue of citations, but to have any chance at all of having a different outcome from previous requests I needed a more powerful tool.

The page Operation Gladio discusses “false-flag” operations supposedly carried out by the CIA in Europe to discredit various communist and left-wing organizations and political parties. According to this story almost all/or many terrorist attacks that occurred in Europe during the 70’s and 80’s where the work of the CIA designed to give a black-eye to anyone on the left of the political spectrum. Supposedly this was done to manipulate public opinion through fear and propaganda, with the end result of keeping the CIA’s/America’s/whoever’s adversaries from coming into power.

There are actually three Gladio pages on WP (Operation Gladio/Strategy of tension/and Stay-behind) which all cover roughly the same material. Plus multiple other pages spread throughout WP that tie into the Gladio concept. It even has its on category: {Category:Gladio}

Officially almost all of this material leads back to a single individual, a man named Daniele Ganser. As stated recently by one of his supporters:

One can not proceed by guilt by association. Ganser's work on Gladio is about the only one available, and we are not judging the person here, but the work. Tazmaniacs 15:56, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
Ganser is not "one marginal academic", he is nearly the only historian to have worked on this subject. Tazmaniacs 14:39, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

This is where the problem comes in. There are several references to an organization named Statewatch. document The citation is simply “Statewatch”, no breakdown beyond that; it’s the same as citing a controversial subject to “Greenpeace”, as in Greenpeace itself, not a particular document, person, or position paper –just “Greenpeace”.

When requests for more detailed citations where made, the replies where thus:

Statewatch is a reliable source (if it's good for Guardian & the BBC, it's good enough for Wikipedia). Furthermore, the reference are not even Statewatch per se, but news articles (recensed by Statewatch). Finally, the fact that the data is copyrighted and that the link has therefore become dead doesn't make the info less "real": it's not because you can't access it freely that it doesn't exist. The info is still there, the news article still exist, the Statewatch recensus of them still exist, and the events still have happened - unless you can prove the reverse. Tazmaniacs 21:34, 8 November 2006 (UTC)
We do not rate each article in a newspaper for RS. That it not how WP:RS works. The newspaper is the source, and if it passes RS then anything in it is permitted under WP:RS. Lord Seabhcán of Baloney 11:45, 9 November 2006 (UTC) (claiming that Statewatch was for all practical intents and purposes a Newspaper, and should be counted as such)

So if Statewatch is the source, who actually authored the material. If everything else leads back to Ganser, it would seem that Ganser is the source. So you now have two main sources, but they may in fact both be Ganser = one source. You can not tell from the citations given. You need more detail.

There is a second possible source out there, one that you will not find on Operation Gladio: Lyndon LaRouche

LaRouche’s “Executive Intelligence Review” carried a 4 part series in 2004 called “Strategy of Tension: The Case of Italy” that lays out the same material we have in WP in much the same manner. [2] Google “LaRouche Gladio” for additional material.

Ganser in turn has written three articles for LaRouche’s Centre for Research on Globalisation [3]

And he has given a detailed interview to LaRouche’s “Executive Intelligence Review” “ Titled “Secret Warfare: from Operation Gladio to 9/11” [4] PFD file

LaRouche gave this introduction to Ganser in yet another article three months earlier: Daniele Ganser is leading a research project on NATO's secret armies at the Center for Security Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich. His book, NATO's Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe, sheds new light on the "Strategy of Tension" which EIR has been exposing for many years. [5]

Apparently the Swiss where not that impressed with Ganser’s academic work as he is now listed as “Daniele Ganser, professor of contemporary history at Bale University (France)” and someone else has his old position.

So the question is, where does the material found in Statewatch come from? Is it double dipping (Gansers worked cited a second time, but represented as being a second source)? Or is it from LaRouche (laundered material)? Or a combination? We don’t know, nor can we without detailed citations matching claim to source.

Many of the primary sources Ganser cites are questionable at best, and several are hotly contested. However, WP cites his website as a whole, or his book in its entirety, making it hard to make a connection between what he claims, and what he uses as a source for that claim.

When ever the subject is highly controversial, editors need a robust set of tools at their disposal to be able to challenge claims that on the surface appear questionable. First and foremost is the ability to see where that claim is sourced to, and to have that information directly in font of you where you can access it in a timely manner. The faster you can check material against its source, the more ground you can cover. The same goes for the reader, if a reader can quickly and conveniently check sources to their own satisfaction, the higher the regard they will have for WP.

Gladio is only one example, but I think it shows the need clearly, so I am really happy to see my initial edit stick and that it has been improved. Thanks Brimba 06:24, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

Appropriate translated terms - practical or traditional?

We have a problem in translated terms because of the inconsistency of practical and historical scientific terms. Some people insist that the Japanese Wikipedia should include the description of The Tranditional Standard Dictionary terms only, which was derived from the German terms and new invension a century ago, but not the English-based terms that are practically used. I think it would be helpful to have the additional note for the practiccal use, especially for the newbies and people in the different scientific fields. Actual current situation is that many people pronouce the English-based terms in the lab, while they write after The Standard Dictionary. Although I hope them to be unified into English-based terms, at least, both the practical and traditional description should be included in the Wikipedia, instead of just one. I believe this is the major policy of the Wikipedia. The oppenent insist, while they are aware of the practical use, that those terms should not be included just because they are non-canonical without reference. Because of the nature of spoken language, the citation is very difficult. However, those terms are actually used and the opponents agree with it. This is strange. What can I do to contribute to the Wikipedia? --Tosendo 06:46, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

Please provide links. WAS 4.250 23:22, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

Verifiability dispute

I am involved in a dispute with User:PikDig regarding the Asian Spirit destinations article. I am currently at step 4.1 of the dispute resolution process, and this section is an attempt to Discuss with third parties and perhaps (step 4.2) obtain some attempts at Informal mediation from cool heads.

PikDig created the article on 12 June, having forked it from the Destinations section at Asian Spirit. I had tagged the Destination section there as {{unreferenced}} on April 8 (here), the tag was still in place when PikDig forked the section on June 12 — loosing the {{unreferenced}} tag in the process. On July 30, I noticed that the Asian Spirit destinations article had no references and tagged it with an {{unreferenced}} tag here. PikDig reverted that on this same date here, with the edit summary: "see their website!"

I reacted to that on July 31. On the article's talk page here, I referred PikDig to WP:V, explaining that assertions need supporting cites and that the editor supplying the assertions needs to say in the citation where he got the info so that the validity of the assertions can be checked. Commenting that it was not my burden to ferret out and supply the supporting cites, I did so anyhow, here — adding See also and References sections to the article, along with appropriate content. I cited the Flight Schedule from the Asian Spirit website in support of the assertions made in the article, and individually flagged assertions which I could not verify against that supporting source with {{failed verification}}. I explained the changes I had made on the article's talk page.

On August 2 (here) PikDig reverted my changes without an edit summary, but he did add a "Reply for Boracay Bill" section on the article's talk page. That same day, I replied inline to his talk page comments, and invited him to contact me on my talk page for a less pubilc discussion.

I let things lie for a couple of days, then put a message on PikDig's talk page (see here) saying that I intended to revert his reversion (actually, further edits by Pikdig to the article in the meantime would necessitate re-verification the current article content against some supporting source -- probably the same source I used earlier), but that I did not want to get into an edit war. I asked whether he would react by re-reverting my unreversion. On 4 August, PikDig responded on my talk page here, saying: "I would definitely react.."

Rather than engage in an edit war, I'm continuing down the dispute resolution process, as mentioned above. Comments and mediation attempts by "cool heads" are solicited. -- Boracay Bill 06:09, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

WP:V#Sources in languages other than English

The policy discourages references to sources in languages other than English, and that is fine. But should there not be even stronger wording against references to printed works in languages other than the standard Western academic languages of German and French? For instance, works in Dutch would be rather difficult to get hold of in good libraries outside The Netherlands or Belgium. /Pieter Kuiper 09:30, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

First of all, some English sources are just as difficult to get hold of... as long as someone could do so, the requirement is met. Secondly, I don't think we can say that because German and French are "the standard Western academic languages" we can give them any preference... Start down that road and we can get into all sorts of silly debates about how one language is "more academic" than another... What about sources in Latin? (the academic language of Europe until almost 1800)... what about Italian (very important for any study of the Renaisaunce)... what about non-western languages such as Russian, Japanese or Chinese? ... all are valid academic languages in some field or another. We can not say one language is 'more academic' than another. Thirdly, our discouragement of sources in languages other than English is based upon the fact that this version of Wikipedia is written for those who speak English. In other words it is based on who is reading the encyclopedia, not on the academic standing of the language the source might be in. Blueboar 12:53, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
I'd like to add two further clarifications. First, the policy does not discourage use of non-English sources generally, but rather encourages use of English-language sources whenever available, assuming the English-language sources are of equal or greater quality than the non-English sources. For instance, if it comes down to it, a reliable non-English source should replace a unreliable English source. Second, the English Wikipedia is not the Western Wikipedia. For one thing, English is spoken/understood all across the world. For another, the scope of our coverage is universal and not limited solely to North America and Western Europe. — Black Falcon (Talk) 23:00, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
Ok, encourages English-language references. My issue was not 'academic standing' of the language, but verifiability and accessability of printed works. A reference to a work in a language that would be difficult to get hold of for 98 % of the readers is does not serve the purpose of verifiability very well. Editors that really need to use such a reference should be meticulous. They should try to give exact page numbers, so that one can order a copy or read a page without needing to read a whole book. They should list bibliographical information so that it is possible to estimate what standing the source has. /Pieter Kuiper 23:25, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
I'd go a little further and state that editors should be meticulous regardless of the language, since complete citations are always preferable to vague ones and sometimes (in cases where there no URL is given or a link goes dead), necessary to verify the sourced statement. However, this seems to be more of an issue about completeness of citations rather than language. It is no more or less difficult to specify a page number for a non-English work than an English-language work. — Black Falcon (Talk) 23:57, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
Not at all in contradiction, but as extension, we want to be accessible as well as accurate. It's probably good in all cases to give the best english language source available, as well as any superior non-English sources. For sources in translation, both the original and the translation should be cited--one will be more accurate, the other more likely to be read and understood. And any key parts not in english should be translated--in general the title of a work should be. the language of the article is english, and so should the comments be, and the talk pages. Quotations given only in a non-English language are out of place here. Similarly, if a print reference has an online equivalent, it should be given--for convenience, even if it is a paid-access version. DGG (talk) 02:22, 8 August 2007 (UTC)

Many of the sources I work with are in Sanskrit, and while secondary English sources are best, sometimes there is no good alternative to providing a citation to a primary source or adademic work in Hindi (or some other Indic language). The focus on Western European languages is understandable, but the world is a big place. Many sources need to be cited in the original so that verification of romanizations can be done, etc. Buddhipriya 06:13, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
Non English sources are welcome if no English alternative exists. This is good. Until(1 == 2) 13:40, 8 August 2007 (UTC)

Op-Ed pieces - verifiable sources?

The title pretty much says it all - does Wikipedia consider opinion-editorial pieces from magazines or newspapers to be valid sources? On the one hand, it's published in (for the most part) a reliable source. On the other, these op-ed pieces tend to have terrible POV slants, as they are solely the opinion of the writer, who may or may not be an expert on the given subject. I can't seem to find any information either way on the topic, so I figured I'd come to the source.

Thanks! Sidatio 13:22, 8 August 2007 (UTC)

An opinion piece is only really a reliable source to show that the person said such a thing, it is by definition not a statement of fact but one of opinion. I would not use it to support anything other than that the person in the piece said that. Until(1 == 2) 13:39, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
I find that Op-Ed pieces fall into something of a grey zone... the reliability of an Op-Ed piece depends in a large part on the reputation of it's author and (to a lesser degree) on the Newspaper publishing it. Some columnists have a higher reputation (when talking about a given topic) than others. Some columnists even cross the line into recognized "expertize". Yes, an Op-Ed piece should still be treated as an opinion (after all, Op-Ed is short for Opinion-Editorial)... but they can, sometimes, be quite reliable. I would consider an op-ed piece on the Arab-Israeli conflict that was written by Henry Kissenger and published by the New York Times, for example, to be high on the reliablility scale. Blueboar 15:22, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
Also the if the reputation relates to the field of discussion. I would not trust a quote by Albert Einstein giving his opinion on meteorology. Nobody is an expert in everything, but they can still be an expert in one thing and talk about other things they are not experts in. Until(1 == 2) 15:25, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
The problem with any newspaper article is that some amount of editorialising may creep in and be indistinguishable from the news element. Spenny 17:46, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
That is why it is always nice to get multiple sources. Until(1 == 2) 18:00, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
and OpEds should be clearly quoted as such.DGG (talk) 08:39, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

Self-published sources

The text is a little too black and white in my experience. Whether it is a peer-reviewed academic journal or a monograph published by a university press, the actual financial arrangements can be quite similar to the "vanity presses". The author or authors or writing committee contributes money to the publisher to ensure publication. The money usually comes from publication grants from various granting agencies - not out of the author’s pocket - but the publisher will not publish the article or book without the injection of cash. That is, commercial academic publishers are - quite often -subsidized by their contributors. Perhaps the text could be written with a bit more gray or nuance in the Wiki policy statement. Cheers! Wassupwestcoast 23:49, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

Yes. I agree. But the battle is between representing policy as something clear and specific enough that it is useful in edit wars by admins who want something that will settle disputes and representing policy as guidance for well meaning individuals who want suggestions for how best to weigh the various editorial concerns that must be balanced for an optimum article. WAS 4.250 06:13, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

{{Not verified}}

Would somebody remove the {{Not verified}} mention in the second paragraph of "Burden of evidence?" That template has been redirected to {{Refimprove}}. 04:42, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

Swapped it for the correct link. Blueboar 12:34, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

First-party sources

I think there might be a little problem with the wording that seems to claim that WP works only on third-party sources. In certain cases, this would discount particular references that are crucial to the article. I'm thinking specifically of classical articles. Reading this policy literally (which too many are apt to do) would cause us to exclude sources like Thucydides for the Peloponnesian Wars or Herodotus from the Persian Wars (each fought in relevant conflict). There has to be a way to phrase the policy so that it specifically allows for sources that had direct involvement, but are considered reputable in their field. CaveatLector Talk Contrib 06:41, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

The policy does not say that we may not use a first party primary source... only that third party, secondary sources are prefered. In the case of articles on historical subjects, we can certainly use first party primary sources (like Thucydides and Herodotus) to cite the basic facts... especially since these are often the only sources available. However, for any comments on or analysis of these primary works we should cite the work of modern historians... IE expert third party sources. Blueboar 12:29, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
I was worried that the policy did not make this explicit enough. CaveatLector Talk Contrib 14:19, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
The problem with making things "specific enough" is that every subject area is slightly different. Explicitly stating that a given type of source may be used because of the needs of one subject area can lead to disasterous results when aplied to another. We need to recognize that sourcing for articles dealing with History has different rules than sourcing for articles dealing with Science, or Pop Culture ... Once you start to carve out specifics for one subject area, you soon have every subject area requesting to carve out specifics for their topic area... to allow this type of source or not allow that type of source. That leads to a very confusing, unwieldy and ultimately useless policy. Policy needs to be written using generalizations, to cover the the majority of subject areas and the typical article. It is recognized that there are always going to be "exceptions to the rule" in any given subject ... and when these arise, common sense should prevail. Blueboar 14:37, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
This is really a moot concern. Both examples provided are extremely well-covered in reliable modern third party published references. There is not a shred of "need" to use primary sources in those instances, except perhaps to mention a portion or quote a section as they are referenced or quoted in a reliable source. Vassyana 19:56, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
First of all, 'strawman' implies that I am attacking the policy itself. I am not. I think that WP:V might be the most important policy we have here. Second of all, if you think there is 'not a shred of need' to use primary sources in an encyclopedia article regarding facts of ancient history, then I am afraid that your understanding of serious scholarship (or even something that could be considered research material) is critically mistaken. Yes, it is necessary to use reliable third-party sources for the interpretation of these primary sources; however, allow me to make a slightly unconventional metaphor: Imagine that you are in a pitch-dark room. This room is full of mirrors, in order to reflect any light source that might exist. You have a flashlight in your hands. Writing an article without using the primary sources at all would be like expecting to find your way around this room using only the mirrors (the third-party sources) but not the flashlight itself (the primary source). Any article that hopes to discuss actual historical events of the Persian Wars without citing Herodotus in some fashion would have as much utility as a limp noodle (at best). I was merely suggesting that WP:V make it explicit that primary sources are sometimes admissible (but OR intepretations of them never are). I realized that User:Blueboar is right in this when s/he says there are always 'exceptions to the rule', which is basically a WP:IAR point. Why you saw fit to assume that I had 'less than ideal motives', I really have no clue. CaveatLector Talk Contrib 21:32, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
You summed up my view perfectly. If the editors of an article all agree that it makes sense to cite a primary source, then do so (that is exactly why IAR was created). No need to change this policy to make special allowences. I would continue your annalogy and say that we should make sure you are useing a quality flashlight that has good batteries... ie that the primary source is one with a high reputation... but then again, if that were not the case, there probably would not be agreement to use it in the first place. It certainly is the case with sources such as Herodotus et al. They are the energizer bunnies of Ancient History. (OK, perhaps I push the analogy to far, I'll stop now.) Blueboar 22:49, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
I sincerely apologize if you took personal insult to my comment. It was certainly not intended in that fashion. It was a general statement, not a direct accusation and I've removed that portion of the statement to avoid any misunderstandings.
I think primary sources should be used in as article only as they are used in secondary and tertiary sources. Liberally permitting the direct use of primary sources gives little gain and allows broad abuse. If a reputable sources says we know X is true because Y ancient author said so and it seems accurate, there's no reason we cannot say that in the article. In fact, we probably should. As an example, it would be hard to write about Plato without reference to his own writings. We should not rely on primary sources directly, but rather allow secondary and tertiary sources to determine which materials to present, how to present them, how reliable they are and what they mean in context. Also, we are permitted to call upon primary sources with care under current policy. The no original research policy discusses primary, secondary and tertiary source. Perhaps a bit of harmonization and cross reference to WP:PSTS may be warranted.
Regarding the wording: "If an article topic has no reliable, third-party sources, Wikipedia should not have an article on it." This is really little more than a nutshell encapsulation of notability. Reliable third party sources are required to establish notability and indeed provide enough material that an encyclopedic article can be created without original research. Vassyana 22:52, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
I don't think anyone is saying that you should not use reliable secondary sources and third parties. It would indeed be wrong to base an article on nothing but primary sources. But I disagree if you are saying that we should never use primary sources. Let's take an example... a good portion of what we know about the Germanic tribes during the time of the Roman Empire comes from the Roman historian Tacitus. It would be rediculous not to quote what Tacitus said about them in an article on the Germanic tribes ... and if you are going to quote him, you should cite to where he says it. Blueboar 23:18, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
Well, unless Tacitus was (solely) writing about his own experiences with the germanic tribes, then that is a secondary source (of information on the germanic tribes). This is especially true if it's like a lot of his histories, which describe events that occurred well before his birth. SamBC(talk) 23:30, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
Actually, Tacitus is considered a primary source. Historical sources are primary sources in the study of history and anthropology. Regardless, such works are not reliable sources, first because they weren't published by a modern publisher with a reputation for accuracy and fact-checking. Second, because there is a whole swath of literature just devoted to analyzing the claims and accuracy of ancient and historical sources. Also, such works must be analyzed in the context of the writer, their culture and their historical context, which we must rely on secondary and tertiary sources to do. Vassyana 22:27, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

(outdent) I think there are significant misunderstanding here. First of all I want to support SamBC statement that the source being discussed are not purely primary sources. It was written to be a "secondary source" and is only called a "primary source" because it closer in time to the events than other sources. It is not a "primary source" in the way a journal (diary) or correspondence is consider one. Those terms (primary, secondary) are actually quite ambiguous and cannot really be used as definitive labels. However I think it is simply another misunderstanding to think this has anything to do with this policy. The policy here speaks of "third-party sources" or "third-party publications". This mention of "third party" is in reference to the publisher rather than what cardinal number we can describe the source by. It is all about disallowing articles backed soley by references that are purely self-promotional. I suggest we change every instance of "third-party sources" to "third-party publications" just to prevent confusion. What does everyone else think of that?--BirgitteSB 13:35, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

The problem is that the Real World is not so black and white. Reliable, rigorous and robust sources are often not technically third-party publications. Some general examples, academic research in some fields is published by journals wholly owned by professional associations. Respected religious research is published by church owned presses. Even good nature guides are published by nature organizations. Of course, the biggest example is governmemt. The list is endless. In some organizations there is no attempt at even a 'Chinese wall' between the organization and the press and yet integrity wins out; usually some sort of editorial independence is invoked by the editorial staff but the barrier is one of moral courage. Commercial or true third-party publication of serious academic research is much rarer than the naive might think. For example of this, one may check out this scandal - Canadian Medical Association Journal#Controversy about editorial independence- which last year was much talked about in the press. Cheers! Wassupwestcoast 19:42, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
I don't see what this comment has to do with the sources being discussed (Thucydides for the Peloponnesian Wars or Herodotus from the Persian Wars etc.) Or how clarifying "third-party sources" to "third-party publications" would have any effect on the issues you bring up. Although you might want to make a new topic if you have suggestions on how to handle those issues.--BirgitteSB 20:45, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
The discussion was forked into a discussion of "third-party publications". I'm saying that particular thing is rare in the real world. If you limit verifiability to sources that are "third-party publications" then a huge chunk of academic research would not pass the quideline. The stuff is not published by a third party. As for the topic at hand, most of the serious Classical journals are published by various classical associations of which the author(s) actually belong. If the worry is a conflict of interest - the cause of the concern over self-published works - then searching for truly conflict of interst free publications in academia where a true independent commercial third party publisher is involved is rare. If you are worried about the definition of primary, secondary and tertiary sources, then the issue is completely different to the issuse of "publisher" which is what editor Birgitte suggested when the editor wrote:

I suggest we change every instance of "third-party sources" to "third-party publications" just to prevent confusion. What does everyone else think of that?

I think it represents a lack of understanding between "sources" and "publications". Cheers! Wassupwestcoast 23:27, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Then why would you want to leave the policy as it is where the two terms are used interchangeably? --BirgitteSB 15:11, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

Confirming references

I need unbiased opinions (others, stay away). If someone puts in this as a reference to something:

"John Bishop, the greatest man alive", Detroit Times, April 16, 1945.

How do I know whether this is really what the paper said? Its not something I can easily get a copy of and verify what it is saying. What do I do then? Trust anyone who makes this kind of reference, or remove it? And they might refuse to respond to my inquiries of requesting more information about the reference I put or they might say "The information I put in is correct". We're talking about WP:V which says, any reader should be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source. Well its 1945 and the Newspaper has gone out of business, so who knows what it said. --Matt57 (talkcontribs) 15:52, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

The same argument can be made about anything not online. However, newspapers are archived by libraries, so it is possible to check. Depending on quite how outlandish the claim is, it's best to assume good faith. SamBC(talk) 15:59, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
If you need to verify it, I am sure it is available on microfiche. Certainly Detroit's public library would have it, but other some libraries should as well. If the article in non-controversial it is probably best to just trust the editor who added the reference however, unless they have a history of poor referencing in other articles. If it needs to be checked out, try and contact Wikipedians from Detriot and see if they can verify it for you. Once for Wikisource, an editor was able to track down a 19th century Bulgarian newspaper article and get it scanned. Of course a 1945 article couldn't be scanned and displayed because of copyright, but it is amazing what can be accomplished through collaboration on sites like this.--BirgitteSB 16:52, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Thanks! --Matt57 (talkcontribs) 18:52, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

Links to other WP articles do not count as references

Which WP policy page specifically states this? I can no longer seem to find it. dr.ef.tymac 18:57, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

It used to be in Wikipedia:Citing sources, but was removed in June [6]. I think it needs to be put back, but the article is protected. So now, it's nowhere...Dreadstar 18:59, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
So far you seem to be right. I'm doing a little more homework to resolve that there was not indeed a legitimate reason for this change -- just letting you know I think we're both on the same page here, I'm just being careful with this, because if it *was* taken out inappropriately, then that's another issue that might have to be dealt with. I don't dispute the basic message, just trying to make sure what's what before we just plop it back in here at WP:V. dr.ef.tymac 19:05, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Hey, no problem. I'm glad you're double-checking me on this very important issue. It's good teamwork. Dreadstar 19:08, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Well, one problem is, I seem to remember completely different language (more detailed) that covered this scenario, more than just the one-sentence mention that was mysteriously removed from Wikipedia:Citing sources. I'm doing some archive searches right now.
Anyway, the underlying "mystery" may not be resolved immediately so I don't (personally) have any problem with the (re-)addition here, but don't be surprised if I (or someone else) copy-edits or reshuffles it to a different subsection of this policy page. dr.ef.tymac 19:16, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
I seem to remember that too, perhaps they condensed it down at some point. Is there a good spot in WP:V for it? I picked what I thought was a good section, sources. It didn't really seem to fit elsewhere. Maybe under 'Questionable sources'? Dreadstar 19:20, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
It's going to be put back into Wikipedia:Citing Sources according to one of the protecting admins. Dreadstar 19:25, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Ok, good. I'm still in the middle of asking Google to uncover if and where this issue was already addressed, elsewhere, before attempting to "re-invent the wheel". dr.ef.tymac 19:30, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

Request for comments

Request for comments: I've not uncovered whether this issue has been dealt with before in WP:V. 1) Has it been? 2) Should this issue be mentioned in WP:V if it is (or will be) already mentioned in WP:CITE? Is this a non-issue? Hopefully more contributors will chime in here, as the point seems to merit clarification. dr.ef.tymac 19:37, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

What is the point of Verifiability if one can not cite WP articles? Wikipedia policy is that articles will be well sourced and thus WP articles can self-reference themselves. If this is not assumed, then there is a tautological problem. Either Wikipedia trusts in its policies or it does not? If not, is there any point in verifibiality policies? Cheers! Wassupwestcoast 19:57, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Well, sure, that argument works, if we could assume that every wikipedia article actually fulfilled the various guidelines and policies. Plus they're rather subject to change, and further it's not good to cite one part of a large work in another; that's what "see also" is for. SamBC(talk) 20:07, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
We need to link to verifiable, reliable external sources as references for every article, this allows the reader to quickly and easily find and read the reference for themselves. I would not want to link one Wikipedia article to another, and possibly a whole chain of articles, so the reader would then have to play detective, and spend extra time and effort to try and verify something that should be immediately available in the article they're reading. This is not even taking into consideration the appropriateness of sources for the individual article's subjects and other related issues. Can of worms. Cite external sources for references. Wikilink to internal articles per WP:MOS-L, but not as source references for the purposes of verifiability or citing sources. Dreadstar 20:17, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
(ed conf) Exactly. This understanding is well established, and if it needs to be stated in policy for those that do not see it as obvious, let's add it. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 20:32, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
WP:RS used to talk about Not using Wikipedia as a source... the language is currently at WP:ATT/FAQ (see the section entitled: Are wikis reliable sources?). However, that does not discuss the difference between a source and an internal link. I am not sure that was ever spelled out. Blueboar 20:32, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Jossi, let's add it to policy so it is very clear to everyone. Dreadstar 20:50, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Is this policy the best place to add it? How deeply do we want this policy to go into proscribing sources for reliability? Currently we fail to even define reliable here.--BirgitteSB 20:59, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Verifiability and reliability are two different things (with some overlapping areas), and while both need to apply to sources, I'm not sure mixing them together would be the best course. I think either or both WP:V and WP:RS should contain the prohibition against using Wikipedia articles as a source for other Wikipedia articles. Perhaps a short definition in the policy and a longer explanation in the guideline? I can easily see it as both a V and RS problem. Dreadstar 21:04, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
I agree that reliability is an issue that overlaps this policy. I am really just appealing to everyone to think of the bigger picture before we start tacking on prohibitions. Where is the the best place to discuss why Wikipedia does not qualify as a reliable source? If the answer is here, than I have no objection. But please think it over.--BirgitteSB 21:18, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
This is Wikipedia's verifiability policy. Wikipedia articles aren't intrinsically reliable and their content cannot be relied upon from second to second, so the absolute prohibition on the use of such articles goes to the heart of this policy. --Tony Sidaway 21:22, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Then why not prohibit all wikis here instead of just Wikipedia, as the argument for is identical. And them why not blogs, because people are always trying to use them too (they keep popping up on Google and have the best material). But I have no real objection to sentiment. It will likely just balloon with further prohibitions until someone decides to clean it up and move all the examples to another page. Which someone else will probably at an even later date dismantle when they find the two pages diverging from each other. But go ahead I have popcorn. --BirgitteSB 21:30, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
There are certain limited situations where other wikis and blogs can be used in articles (notably in articles about themselves), but Wikipedia articles should never be used. A subtle difference, but perhaps one that deliniates between inclusion in a strict policy or in a more liberal guideline. Where would you recommend placing it, Birgitte?Dreadstar 22:05, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
We should put it in the W's of the list of unreliable sources we keep handy. Seriously though if it really necessary we spell this out let us do back at Wikipedia:Citing sources again or somewhere like Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia. There is a reason we don’t keep a list of reliable source around. And if editors really cannot be made to understand Wikipedia is unreliable without having say so on a top-tier policy page, how can we expect them to evaluate the reliability of any source?--BirgitteSB 15:13, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
I totally agree that it should be spelled out in Wikipedia:Citing sources, there's never been an argument from me that it shouldn't (I'm the one who pointed out that it's missing from there in the first place). But I also think a mention of it can be included in WP:V as well - it's a significant prohibition that I think rises to Policy level. It's so easy for editors to just think they can link to another Wikipedia article as a verifiable source. Since Wikipedia is so readily available and easy to link to, it shoud be a more visible prohibition than even other remote wikis. Frankly, as long as it's mentioned somewhere in the source policies and guidelines, I'm satisfied. Whether it's in a WP:RS policy or guideline or even both, I do think it's necessary. Dreadstar 15:35, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
Obviously we don't (and shouldn't) use internal references as sources. Instances of such usage are contrary to Wikipedia policy. Wikipedia is absolutely not itself a reliable source. --Tony Sidaway 21:08, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Ok Tony Sidaway, you've registered your views quite effectively, please note however that even "Questionable sources" acknowledges self-references are appropriate when placed in articles about themselves. Since it is not obvious that WP cannot be used as a reference in articles about itself, please give this discussion more time to develop before adding such emphatic language to WP:V. This is a huge can of worms that needs careful deliberation.
This is *especially* true since all (or most) of us emphatically agree that WP does not count as a "reference" ... this is a very common and basic understanding within WP. The fact that this is almost too obvious to mention does not, however, obviate our need to be precise. Sound reasonable? dr.ef.tymac 21:38, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Why do you emphatically agree that WP does not count as a "reference"? I think a serious point is being missed here. If we cannot consider Wikipedia reliable in itself, then we cannot consider Wikipedia reliable outside of itself: ergo, Wikipedia is a pointless exercise. In the Real World, the New York Times, for example, references itself. I think the assume good faith policy must apply. Every article must be assumed to meet Wikipedia policy guidelines even though Wikipedia makes no guarantee of validity. If we do not assume that editors work in good faith and source their articles, then debating reliability and verifiability policy is moot. On a side note, if we do not consider self-referencing valid then what of wiki-links? Surely, wiki-links are only useful if they link to useful – and hence – reliable articles. Anyway, this debate has a history - see Usefulness as a reference - which is quite pessimistic. Cheers! Wassupwestcoast 23:06, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Well, I did correct myself mid-sentence, yes, not "all" agree. The view you've expressed does have a certain "theoretic consistency" to it, the problem is, not many people seem to advocate it. But yes, all legitimate viewpoints should get consideration, hence this discussion. Nevertheless, my guess is even you would admit that some "pessimism" is justifiable. dr.ef.tymac 00:04, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
It strikes me that reliable sources are essentialy a way of ensuring verifiability. Thus, guidance as to what constitutes a reliable source, and thus something that provides reliability, should primarily be in WP:RS. Of course, I'm not sure that this matches very well with what's in the pages now, but what the hey …

This is already covered by the Manual of Style in the "Avoid self-references" page. The question may remain whether it should simply remain a guideline (as part of the style guide) or be considered policy and incorporated here. Vassyana 23:30, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

As a style guideline it is OK, but as policy it deprecates Wikipedia. Cheers! Wassupwestcoast 00:00, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

The fundamental reason I accept that we should not use other Wikipedia articles as references is the "telephone game" problem. Each article takes facts from reliable sources and paraphrases them to make an encyclopedia article. Making "second-level" articles by paraphrasing again from those, and then "third-level" articles by paraphrasing from those second-level articles, and so on, will only lead to errors being magnified. By insisting that each article can stand on its own as a first-level article, we keep those paraphrasing errors to a minimum. — Carl (CBM · talk) 00:05, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

Agreed that other Wikipedia articles are never almost never an appropriate source. In addition to the "telephone game" problem, which affects the writing of articles, there's the question of tracing factual claims to their origin as a reader or editor of new articles. It's never safe to simply rely on what an article says. To have any certainty you have to follow the references to the outside secondary sources, and if you're really serious from there to the primary sources. That's great, and fast, when everything is hyperlinked in an orderly way. But if you had to follow internal links all over Wikipedia to hunt for the place where someone initially consulted an outside source, it would be very hard. That's no shortcoming of Wikipedia. It's inherent to any reference work. A secondary benefit of disallowing Wikipedia as a source is that it encourages people not to repeat, excerpt, and quote parts of articles inside other articles. For example, in an article about the Beatles you don't go into a long biographical sketch of Paul McCartney. That redundancy creates all kinds of forking and version control problems, among other things. I find that refusing to let people cite Wikipedia cuts down a lot on this redundancy because people find it's best to include a simple link to the main article rather than to try to report in one article what Wikipedia says in another. I don't have any opinion about what belongs in WP:V versus WP:RS. They're two sides of a coin as far as I know. Wikidemo 00:18, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

Side note: It is interesting that Criticism of Wikipedia has (unless I miscounted) over 27 references that point back to Wikipedia. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that it's a decent article, this tends to suggest that the strict prohibition view is not entirely legit, at least not when WP is the subject of the article. dr.ef.tymac 00:28, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
ISTR that there's a note saying that questionable sources are often valid when the article is about the source itself. SamBC(talk) 00:31, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
Yup. I was just dropping that little tidbit in as a point of reference when it comes time to review this discussion and actually decide on whether and how to deal with this whole issue. Specific examples (usually) help, hopefully this will also. dr.ef.tymac 01:01, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes, the propagation of errors is inevitable but the errors are not systematic but random (hopefully). The bigger issue is one of philosophy. For example, surely an FA article can use another FA article as its source. If not, then what is the point of the FA process. If yes, then we accept this because we assume good faith in the process. Since a fundamental policy of Wikipediaa is to assume good faith then we must assume all editors and articles are written in good faith and follow Wikipedia policy. An analogy is the democratic right to vote: we assume every one makes a wise choice by the good faith in the will of the people. We do not - as policy - assume otherwise. Even when we know very well that our brother-in-law is clue-less in politics, every ones' vote counts. Likewise, even though we know there are vandals lurking in Wikipedia, we must assume every article counts. Else, the whole Wikipedia process is useless. Seriously, why debate verifiability as policy if Wikipedia does not see itself as being useful as a reference. What in the world are we doing? Cheers! Wassupwestcoast 00:29, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
To use a different analogy, it probably doesn't make sense to abolish The Office of Internal Affairs, even if we are confident that all of our police officers are good at self-enforcement. Even if we trust the cops to uphold the law, and consistently report on their fellow bad-apple-officers, it still makes sense to require our implicit trust to be substantiated by the oversight of an "outside agency".
Such a requirement does not necessarily mean we are "pessimistic". It could also mean that we just take some matters very seriously; that we are willing to apply safeguards that are much more rigorous than necessary, in order to preserve the highest standard of integrity and accountability. dr.ef.tymac 01:12, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes, your analogy is good. But the cops do work together and trust each other (we hope). Each cop doesn't insist on talking only to Scotland Yard (that is comletely outside the system and the country). The The Office of Internal Affairs is there as an over-sight but in day to day work cops don't have anything to do with it and the various law enforcement angencies work together (again, we hope.) Cheers! Wassupwestcoast 01:47, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

My take: Wikipedia is an encyclopedia -- a tertiary source. All our information should, by definition, come from primary and secondary sources and, in extremis, from other encyclopedias with a high degree of reliability (Britannica comes to mind). Citing other Wikipedia articles as sources is an aberration; that information has to have come from somewhere else, and in order for it to be reliable, we need to pinpoint what that other source is. Any compromise on this threatens to seriously diminish our credibility. Biruitorul 02:05, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

Updating language

As per the request to see how the discussion panned out, the sentiment here and the weight of the argument is in favor of prohibiting use of Wikipedia articles for sources, in part due to verifiability concerns. So I've re-added that statement, which was apparently taken out in June then re-added in Mid-August, leading to the present discussion. As far as I can tell only a couple people are arguing in favor of using Wikipedia to source material. This is also consistent with policy, guidelines, essays, etc., elsewhere. We've talked about it, the discussion has died down and I think it's safe to say there is a consensus. Plus, it goes to a core foundational issue of Wikipedia, that material used in articles needs to be externally sourced. Unless anyone objects, the discussion ought to be closed. Wikidemo 19:26, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Not to nitpick, but the "strict prohibition" you refer to applies to using Wikipedia as a third-party source. Therefore, the use of Wikipedia as a reference in the article Criticism of Wikipedia (for example) would not be barred under the prohibition. As long as everyone is on the same page on this particular issue, then I'd generally agree with your summary, and concur with your conclusion. dr.ef.tymac 14:29, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

What happens when blogs and wikis are the only vestige of "peer review"?

The following is a hypothetical:

I am the inventor of a new programming language called "zoz". Originally, I started it out as just a part-time hobby (I'm actually a linguist) and the only documentation for it is on my personal website (which is both a blog and a wiki). After a while, some others showed interest, and someone wrote a Wikibook "Teach yourself zoz in a week". Somehow, the Wikibook became famous and some amazing things happened:

  • Overnight, zoz has become the third most popular programming language in the world;
  • Addison-Wesley has just published my recent book "The joy of zoz";
  • Microsoft has just announced it plans to re-program its Operating System using zoz;
  • A bunch of zoz fans have just written a WP article: Zoz (programming language) and it survived AfD because it is now notable.

Needless to say, I am delighted by all this, but something bad has also happened.

  • A pesky WP contributor User:TyMac says the Wikipedia article is not balanced, because it only says "good" things about zoz;
  • TyMac asserts that "The joy of zoz" amounts to little more than a promotional piece advocating the use of zoz;
  • TyMac asserts that parts of my personal blog and wiki site should be included in the Zoz article, because it contains a complete history of my invention, along with comments and criticisms from users and creators of other programming languages;
  • TyMac asserts that some of these comments and criticisms should be included in the WP article, in order to provide balance.

Although I acknowledge the criticism on my blog and wiki, I don't want any criticism of zoz to show up on Wikipedia, as it provides me with *great* advertising. Also, some Wikipedia contributors are starting to re-program parts of WP using zoz, and I don't want them to know about the flaws of my new language. I want to have "plausible deniability" if and when those parts of WP start blowing up.

Since the only sources of criticism are my personal blog and wiki (as well as blogs and wikis of other programmers) can I keep out all criticism of zoz on the grounds that blogs and wikis are in violation of WP:V (as well as WP:RS and WP:OR)? I am not a professional programmer, and I've never been published in computer science journals, so obviously my blogs and wikis are not a reliable source, right?

Please advise. dr.ef.tymac 03:09, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

It seems implausible that all that could happen overnight without the usual accompanying media scrutiny. The tech media would jump on it, prod it, poke it, review everything they could find on it, and write about it. SamBC(talk) 03:19, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes, please excuse the obviously fanciful parts. If it helps, remove the part about third most popular, and Microsoft, and assume it is an Open Source software project that recently won some award, thereby making it notable for inclusion. In the real world, there are *plenty* of Open Source software projects that are almost entirely documented via "word of mouth" blog entries, web-forums, wikis and non-mainstream sources.
I am begging your indulgence, suspend disbelief and pretend it's possible for a notable article to have scant published content that is mostly just favorable, with the only "counter-balance" occuring in Wikis, blogs, web-forums and other "low-budget" channels of communication. dr.ef.tymac 03:26, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
Well, I'm not saying it's good (or bad), but as policies are currently written then the only sources we're supposed to use are reliable ones. Thus, until there's at least a mention of contention in some reliable sources, the article can only be positive. I would say that there are then two options to try and maintain NPOV — either try to moderate the tone of the article, so that all it says is that a lot of people think it's good, rather than saying it's good, or refuse to allow the article until it's possible to give a balanced report based on reliable sources. In practice, however, I suspect that many editors would be okay with a "for now" use of less reliable sources, in the interests of balance and accuracy. SamBC(talk) 03:30, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
Simple answer: wovon mann nicht reden kann, darüber muß mann schweigen. Words that are surely tattooed on the heart of every Wikipedian.
Difficult answer:
  • Tymac is being an arsehole and will get very short shrift on Wikipedia and just about anywhere else.
  • Addison-Wesley's publication is definitive on the paper publication of the language. This may vary from the version used by the most popular compilers. This is not a new thing.
  • Microsoft's statement is definitive on Microsoft's statements, which are of course considered to be highly significant. If Bill Gates stands up at Comdex and says "C# is history! C++ is archeology! We're going with zoz!" then you're doing okay and every newpaper from The Guardian to the Daily Bugle is going to be talking about it.
  • I am saddened to be reminded that many articles survive AfD because of something as ridiculous as our "notability" guidelines, but that's not an issue here.
  • Tymac can be sent off to find a reliable source asserting a verifiable opinion on your blog notes.
  • When things blow up you'll be exposed, and so will Wikipedia and Microsoft for their feckless software development decisions.
  • Wikipedia will cover that too.
  • I may have missed some detail but I think I got the general gist.
Wikipedia isn't a substitute for god. It's imperfect. It can never be perfect. In particular, when it comes to reporting events Wikipedia itself is involved in, you'd be mad to trust Wikipedia to do a good job.
Still, Wikipedia can and should try to do its best for all involved.
If you think that was bad, you should see some of our articles on the Middle East, Korea, Latin America, or whatever. --Tony Sidaway 03:53, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
And I forgot to say that if you think you, Bill Gates, Tymac, Wikipedia and I are wankers in this whole affair, it must be a while since you read the bible. That "god" guy in the books is a complete and utter tosser. --Tony Sidaway 03:59, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
Good answers, not necessarily because I like (or dislike) them, but because even if I disagreed with the reasoning, it's definitely consistent -- with a dash of perspective thrown in for good measure, no less. Thanks, Tony and Sam. Regards. dr.ef.tymac 04:18, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
Specific case information removed to User talk:Dreftymac#Verifiability case specificsSamBC(talk) 19:23, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
Having had the other half of this discussion over on No Original Research, there is a disconnect between the view that anything notable enough to be in Wikipedia will have good secondary sources and therefore this debate is a moot point, and the clearly held view that if enough people are interested to make something approaching a decent article that some small subset clearly find notable, then that is sufficient to avoid deletion. We are just about to hit the 2,000,000 articles mark. I'm not sure how many real subjects there are in there, but it is a lot.
The choice is: accept that notability does not equate with the availability of good secondary sources, and work out policy to cope with that (which is essentially saying popular culture and current affairs simply cannot achieve the same standards, so we need other guidance to avoid the worst excesses of poor editing) or hack your way back to say 50,000 articles because I'd guess that is about the level of notability other encyclopaedias work to, and for which there is a good pool of quality information. Somehow, I don't think Jimbo would be too happy building a business on 50,000 articles, and he would prefer to go for the 2 million as long as a reasonable standard of editing can be achieved.
So, Zoz is notable enough to be of interest to some small section of the community. The choice is accept the article and pragmatically accept that the information is as good as you will get and the sourcing will be weak and actually there might have to be some Wiki-eyeballed verging on OR stuff in there to keep the quality of the article up (damn the torpedoes!), or have some pretty nasty POV lurking in the article. Spenny 23:42, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
One thing that strikes me is that "Blogs" and "Wikis" seem to be enjoying something of a "credibility upgrade" ... even among "experts", even among academics operating under "publish or perish" constraints. The ironic thing is, (assuming I am correct), Wikipedia will probably be the last to recognize this trend, and WP:V and WP:RS will probably be the absolute last things on the internet to actually change in recognition of it. That's just my random prediction for the day. dr.ef.tymac 00:29, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
And Wikipedia actually has a mechanism to cope with the issue, the many eyeballs of the Wikipedia editors which was one of the original assumptions, but this tool has been thrown out with the bathwater. Spenny 09:41, 17 August 2007 (UTC)

any reader should be able to check

this rules out a lot of the citations in wikipedia. I can't check them cause they're in some book my library doesn't have or some journal you have to pay for etc. 08:41, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

Send us a list of the books that you own and the newspapers that you buy regularly and we will make sure that everyone uses only those publications. Adrian M. H. 08:51, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
This comes up all the time. Basically there is no requirement that anyone must be able to verify the references from their keyboard, bookshelf, or local library. Commonly available free sources are preferred, all other factors being equal, but not required. If WP was no better than your local library, it wouldn't be as useful. 11:21, 20 August 2007 (UTC) —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Dhaluza (talkcontribs).
Any reader can check if they travel to another city, go to the library there, etc.; or anyway, large numbers of readers who live in diverse parts of the world can check (if they travel to the one city that has the book on public display, etc.) If large numbers of readers can check, then one hopes that someone might fix errors. --Coppertwig 23:37, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Clarification on removing material

Should this sentence:

Any edit lacking a source may be removed, but editors may object if you remove material without giving them a chance to provide references.

instead read:

Any edit lacking a reliable source may be removed, but editors may object if you remove material without giving them a chance to provide references.


Any edit lacking a reliable, published source may be removed by any editor; however, editors wishing to retain the material may object if you remove material without giving them a chance to provide references.


That would bring the wording closer to the nutshell. Brimba 13:37, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Brevity is best. The nutshell is supposed to reflect the page, not vice-versa. I don't see too many edit wars over this to begin with. All material should be sourced. Is there a difference between sources and reliable, published sources? If no difference, no point adding extra verbiage. If there is a difference I wouldn't support relaxing the standards in a way that encourages contentious editing. Any edit can be removed for most any purpose as a matter of improving an article, so saying that it can also be removed for lack of sourcing goes without saying.Wikidemo 17:55, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

limits to the rule?

Are there limits to what can and cannot be challenged? For example, if an article contribution makes a reference to the sky being blue and somebody else says, "hold on, can you find a verifiable source that the sky is in fact blue?" does this mean that the contributor is now obliged to go out and finde a verifiable source that the sky is in fact blue, or risk removal of his contribution? I would consider that an unreasonable challenge -- although I admit that raising this question does open up the whole issue of the subjectivity of "reasonable." [[User:|Minaker]] 11:49, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

I think you have to take this on a case by case basis. If someone is asking for citations for this kind of thing and really insisting on them it almost borders on incivility or disruptive editing.--Crossmr 13:04, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
Let me start by offering this reference to why the sky is blue which is listed as an external link on Sky. Then say if there was a limit to what could be challenged who would set it? If you are saying the sky is blue because you looked up and it was blue then that is original research and falls under Wikipedia:No original research. The opening sentence of Wikipedia:Verifiability is The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. "Verifiable" in this context means that any reader should be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source. Addionally WP:PROVEIT places the burden of proof on the editor who adds or restores material. This leads us to the conclusion that there are no limits to what can be challenged Jeepday (talk) 13:46, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
No but if an editor is challenging things like that WP:POINT would lead me to believe they're trying to disrupt wikipedia to prove a point, especially if they do it on multiple articles or multiple times. Original research is the drawing of conclusions or analyzing information to put forth an opinion. Original research isn't looking up a fact and adding it to a wikipedia article. From WP:OR Original research (OR) is a term used in Wikipedia to refer to unpublished facts, arguments, concepts, statements, or theories. The term also applies to any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that appears to advance a position the fact that the sky is blue is well documented and published in multiple places so reporting it isn't remotely original research.--Crossmr 17:06, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
If someone contentiously reverted edits saying the sky was blue, or applied citation tags to the same end, I would have them blocked and leave it to others to figure out the distinction. There are certainly many things, most things, that are too trivial, obvious, or universally accepted to need citations and where citations would actually hurt things by clogging the real information here with useless references. 99% of the facts on Wikipedia are uncited, and probably 75% of the facts that ought to be cited are uncited. Fixing them all would be a task equally as great as creating the encyclopedia in the first place, and removing them all would do irreparable damage. But if someone asks for one in good faith because they think it's necessary or it's not obvious to them, we oblige. An occasional problem is when POV-pushers aggressively tag and delete claims as part of their overall effort of subverting the rules to get rid of articles and claims they don't like. For example, apologists for a crooked politician or a country that has committed genocide will make life miserable for anyone who wants to tell the truth. There, verifiability runs into another core principle, neutrality. Sometimes it's on a political issue like that, and sometimes it's in favor of a particular person or company or a favorite conspiracy theory or piece of pseudoscience. I don't see that this is a big problem, certainly not as big a problem as that of bad unsourced information, but if you're caught in the middle of one of these campaigns it can be awfully disruptive. Wikidemo 17:14, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
So the answer I am hearing to Minaker's question is that in general there are no limits on what content may be challenged and references requested for. In the case where an editor or group is using this to disrupt Wikipedia or push a specific POV then it may be appropriate to look to WP:POINT or Wikipedia:Village pump for assistance. Jeepday (talk) 01:37, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

Thanks, everybody. This is all useful information. Many of the above comments seem to be directed toward hypothetical editors who are intentionally disruptive, to advocate a POV, prove a point, or push some other sort of inappropriate agenda. I'm also curious, however, about well-intentioned but (arguably) misguided editors who go a little rules-crazy -- in other words, editors who (as far as one could tell) honestly do believe the sky must be proven to be blue before the fact can be cited. While Jeepday's argument that the "sky is blue" observation is most likely original research is valid, it also illustrates exactly why an over-reliance of certain rules could be disruptive. Based on your helpful answers to my question, I was able to look into this further, and I think the policy on gaming the system is very relevant here. However, even then, the question is not completely answered, since the Gaming the System policy again assumes that the disruption is intentionally malicious, and not merely misguided. Minaker 10:43, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

Re: WP:BLP#Reliable sources

Please see WP:BLP/N#Ongoing WP:BLP-related concerns, particularly: WP:BLP/N#WP:BLP#Reliable sources policy section itself, which pertain to questions pertaining to verifiability and reliability of sources of material about living persons (not only biographies but other articles concerning living persons as well), including questions pertaining to sources being linked via "external links" in Wikipedia space (WP:EL), whether it be in source citations, or in References and/or External links sections. Thank you. --NYScholar 17:44, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

Distinguishing WP:Verifiability from WP:Reliable sources

During the whole WP:ATT promotion issue last April-May, one issue that really didn't get addressed all that well is the redundancy between WP:Verifiability and WP:Reliable sources. If we're going to have two separate policies or guidelines, we need to distinguish between the two somehow, and not just have them be copies of each other. I suggest that the underlying distinction is as follows:

  • Verifiability discusses when facts and assertions need to backed up by a reliable source. (The answer in a nutshell: when the material is a quotation or is likely to be challenged)
  • Reliable sources discusses what constitutes a reliable source. (The answer in a nutshell: a trustworthy or authoritative publication with regard to the subject)

We ought to be able to get rid of some of the redundancy, which through editorial drift is bordering right now on being a fork. Any comments? COGDEN 23:05, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Sounds good to me. Another thing: in policy discussions, people should say what they think or use first-principle arguments more often, and less often argue that something should be a certain way because another policy says so (unless the purpose is to make the policies consistent, rather than to decide what the policy ought to be). I think people get in the habit of arguing on the basis of policy, and forget to turn that off when in policy discussions. I think there are now 3 pages all with similar long definitions of primary, secondary and tertiary sources; let's cut out some redundancy. --Coppertwig 23:22, 27 August 2007 (UTC)
How about putting it all in one place and referring to it - like Wikipedia:Classification of sources. It's currently classified as an essay, but the intent in creating it was to try and have one definition which was the wikipedia definition (eventually). SamBC(talk) 23:54, 27 August 2007 (UTC)
I agree with this too. They shouldn't contain mixed information, especially considering they are not only a different area, but one is a policy and the other is a guideline where levels of scrutiny are different and assuming consensus from one applies to the other is not safe. I also agree regarding policy discussions--when you're trying to figure out whether or not a policy is an ethical one to follow, being self-referential is circular and not helpful except for the exception you mentioned. -Nathan J. Yoder 08:40, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
I agree as long as RS is made policy and not a guideline. Too often someone will try to jam through an unreliable source under the guise that that RS or something else is really just a guideline so that means they can ignore it whenever they want to use wikipedia as their soapbox.--Crossmr 14:47, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
My own view is that RS should be deleted or demoted to essay status. If it's to remain a guideline, it would be good if, as Cogden suggests, it becomes advice about which sources to use, and not just a fork of V. The problem, as Crossmr says, is that people have in the past turned up and added nonsense. It's too much work for the same editors who monitor V and NOR also to monitor RS (which was part of the point of consolidating them in ATT). But if different editors do it, inconsistencies creep in, so I'd oppose RS becoming policy for that reason. At least as a guideline, people can just ignore it. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 15:02, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
Ditto what SlimVirgin just said, except 3 caveats:
1) WP:RS has value for certain users -- the mere fact that there is a guideline with the words "reliable sources" in the title helps prevent missteps in some situations;
2) if WP:RS does get appropriately "toned down" so as not to conflict with WP:V, and so as to give advice about which sources to use, it should absolutely not dictate any prescriptive bounds, or create any kind of perception that there is a "blacklist" and a "whitelist" of sources that have the "WP stamp of approval"; and
3) even the most prestigious publications and journals are not immune to editorial misconduct. Thus, the "nutshell definition" is a good one, but the shell is not without its cracks. dr.ef.tymac 15:38, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
Advice on sources is no good to be honest. We need policy, if only to to diffuse many potential disagreements over unacceptable sources. The moment you call it anything less than a policy you open the door for anyone to begin to say "Well this is just a guideline and not policy so lets just ignore it in this case because it supports my PoV". If we want to toss WP:RS, then WP:V needs to be made both a page about WHEN you should cite things and WHAT you can use for those citations. To me NOR is different in that its talking often about building cases by inferring things from sources, or drawing your own conclusions. NOR could be instead made about what constitutes acceptable sources that people can use to support statements, but I still feel this needs to be part of some policy, because one thing that prevents wikipedia from being a soapbox is that adherence to using only reliable and not what joe blow posted on some cheaply hosted site, or in a forum, or a blog, etc. --Crossmr 15:48, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
We tried consolidating them at the beginning of this year in WP:ATT, which summarized V, NOR, and RS. The plan was then to add an FAQ page, which would deal with how to identify good and bad sources. But after many months work, we had a poll of editors in which (writing from memory) we got a majority for the change (several hundred) but not what WP calls a consensus. So we were left with the three pages, two of them basically the same, and none about what counts as a good source. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 15:54, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
I remember I was involved a little in that, but what about just combining WP:V and WP:RS leave NOR to itself for now. We really should make a concentrated effort as a community to make sure reliable sources are defined because otherwise what are we doing here? There may be some gray area sources but I'm sure there are things that everyone can reasonably agree on like "The New York times is a reliable source" and "A site on geocities is not".--Crossmr 16:17, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
We could combine them so long as the sources section of V wouldn't end up too long, because policies need to be succinct. Or we could have RS as a subpage of V to make clear which one has priority. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 17:54, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
I don't think it has to be too long. As pointed out there may be some rare exceptions, but I think it the vast majority of articles what is and isn't a reliable source is the same.--Crossmr 18:11, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
No, it's more subtle and complex than that. The New York Times may be a reliable source for some things but not for other things. At the AIDS page, for example, some new cure reported in a news source is not considered reliable; only after it's reported in the peer-reviewed scientific literature does it stand much chance of getting mentioned on that page. (part of message by Coppertwig on 17:51, 28 August 2007 (UTC) which was later split)
That's not correct. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 17:54, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
(Coppertwig continued) A site on geocities (like a Wikipedia page) might be a reliable source in rare cases for some things, such as backing up a claim that there is a geocities page purporting to be a certain statement by a certain famous person; or a reliable source might quote a famous or expert person as saying that they've made certain statements on a certain geocities site, and then the geocities site could perhaps be a reliable source as to what those statements are. It's not simple. That's why it should be in a guideline, not in policy. --Coppertwig 17:51, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
There can always be an exception. but those exceptions I think would be rare and not the norm. No one is saying you can't say "These are the general policies for verifiability but there may be rare (and rare needs to be stressed) exceptions". Those exceptions can be spelled out if they happen over and over or people can be directed to discuss the exception on both the article talk page and this talk page. The problem now is that some people think everything should be an exception because its what they're interested in, and its the pov they want to use in the article. They then demand policy against what they want and there is none. We need to outline a "general standard" as well as known exceptions (scientific for one), and a policy on how to handle sources that people want to present that fall outside the norm. This can tie in to dispute resolution, but it should clearly indicate what is expected in this case, i.e. discuss it on the talk page until a consensus is reached, or take it to dispute resolution, rfc, etc if a clear consensus cannot be reached on the talk page. We may even indicate that people can be bold and try a non-traditional source if they so choose, but should realize if its challenge they shouldn't just be trying to jam it back in over and over until a consensus is reached.--Crossmr 18:11, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
My discussion with you over in Talk:PayPal is a good reason why this should NOT be done. Making it policy allows people to engage in hypertechnical wikilawyering whereby instead of discussing the merits of the source with respect to reliability as a concept, it becomes "what does the letter of wiki-law say about it." When someone says "it's the letter of the law" (even if technically true) instead of discussing the issue itself based on what makes it reliable, then you've ventured out of the realm of creating a better encyclopedia and are engaging in prescriptivist policy making. After all, going against consensus on what is reliable wouldn't make much sense even if it did violate the letter of a guideline (under IAR you can technically ignore policies in some cases but I don't like IAR for other reasons)
WP:RS should be about what it means to be reliable, not a list of DOs and DON'Ts. So what do you guys think is the essence of reliability? What makes a source reliable from Wikipedia's perspective and is it possible to judge reliability without making judgments of veracity of the source material (see my mini-essay below).
As an example of a discussion I'm having: Is a primary source supposed to be a very rare exception that is not even worth discussing outside of saying it's not allowed by policy? Who thinks that using prescriptivism for WP:V and WP:RS is preferable to descriptivism?
Policies should be things that can be understood as a general and timeless (doesn't change much with respect to evolving society/technology) concept and therefore not need specifics. Because of the timeless quality, you don't need to continually modify it--requiring you to gather a rather large consensus due to the importance of it being policy instead of a guideline.
Guidelines are often created for the purpose of clarifying policies, in large part due to how often they change and how hard it would be to get a policy-appropriate consensus. Guidelines also allow consensus to be made local to an article, which is good in this case because what constitutes a reliable source would vary depending on the article in question. If you are needing to add all kinds of exceptions, it is not well written. If you need to get overly specific, it's also not well written--because you should be defining concepts, not details or descriptive, not prescriptive. In other words, something like "sources of type X, Y and Z are good and A, B and C are bad" (as it's currently written) are trying to simply create a prescriptive ruleset.
The problem with reliability is that it doesn't really fall under these categories. It is something that evolves more quickly, especially with technology. No longer are only print sources the reliable ones. No longer is it simply traditional news sources, books and scientific literature. Consider a lot of non-tradition news sites like Slashdot. It's a good way to show how a technical community has reacted to something (in terms of linking to it) and also demonstrates that a subject has a large following in the technical community.
Mini-essay on the essence of reliability. There's another issue that I think should be addressed. Isn't a source being judged as 'reliable' against the spirit of NPOV policy? Suggesting that a source is 'reliable' means making a judgment call on how accurate the source assertion of veracity of the source included in the content. From WP:NPOV: "None of the views should be given undue weight or asserted as being judged as "the truth."'
My contention here is that the number of people in the relevant population (e.g. scientists for scientific journals) that consider the source reliable (relatively speaking) within the context that it's being used in. In terms of contexts, its possible a source may be considered reliable for certain things and for those it could be used, but for many others it could be considered horrible and it wouldn't be used for those. We may also consider 'hypothetical reliability' instead 'known reliability'--that is, instead of just going by a source that the population already knows about, you may consider sources that the population is less aware of, but would consider reliable if they encountered it.
This is a measure that can be enforced consistently, without passing judgment of veracity, by users who have any type of view. Most traditional sources (e.g. print newspapers) are very notable and would do well, so that's not an issue. This would have the added advantage of including non-traditional sources that many would consider reliable in technical and other types of niches that the general population isn't as directly aware of. -Nathan J. Yoder 07:17, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
making it not policy allows the opposite. Anyone who wants to push pov can very easily say "its not policy therefore I can do whatever I want and ignore a formed concensus (which guidelines are)." Reliability hasn't evolved that much. Official websites are reliable for articles about the subject. Professional News websites are reliable for a host of things. Scientific journals are considered more reliable that news articles. Third party websites which aren't professional news sites aren't reliable for much. They're not professional organizations, they're not usually full of experts in the field (which would be considered an exception and thus usable).--Crossmr 13:24, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
I suggest that you read WP:WIARM and take special note of #4. That particular rule is actually held by Wales himself and other people much more influential than I, so I'm not sure it could be realistically removed any time soon. Can you please elaborate instead of repeating what you originally said? When it comes to judging the numerous potential sources that exist, especially the many non-traditional ones that come up, taking a prescriptivist approach would essentially smash them all with one broad stroke. If, for example, we went by your interpretation of primary source cases, they'd be practically non-extant on Wikipedia and we'd have to remove quotations from big individuals and important historical documents. That's why descriptivism is the ideal approach--go by the spirit of it.
No one is suggesting ignoring a formed consensus. In fact, by using the prescriptivist method, you are requiring that a consensus that editors have over a specific source be ignored if WP:RS contradicts it. By making this a matter of policy, it makes it much more time consuming to change and more likely to not reflect the true consensus of Wikipedia regarding what is a reliable source.
We've already needed to add various exceptions to what would supposedly be a straightforward rule because of media evolution. My method allows consensus to determine what a reliable source is on a case by case basis where there is any serious matter of contention.
I don't know what it means for reliability to evolve (clarify please), but regardless of that numerous new sources have been created because of technological evolution. If even only 1% are good, then you're still dealing with many good sources. How do you propose to deal with the rise of many good non-traditional news source materials? Just reject them? That would be contraindicated by the purpose to write a good encyclopedia.
Even with good newspapers, you have to remember that they're written on an (IIRC) 8th grade reading level and are written generally to assume that the reader isnt' that bright, which excludes coverage of a lot of material. Editorial quality varies considerably and I can note various ones that do "fact checking" and have editors that definitely shouldn't be considered reliable either because of a strong ideological slant and/or they are just incompetent. There are also plenty of bad professional news sources, including some which even have an explicit ideological stance. Even the most mainstream and popular media is continually criticized. There's even blatantly biased scientific journals.
With new areas of technical matters (science, math, technology, etc) continually being created that are either too far over the head of the general population (which is who most newspapers are for) or are too much of a niche because they're part of a specific technical subject (for example, coverage over the emacs fork), you need new types of sources.
Mailing lists between major developers of a project have been used, for example, to clarify development issues that wouldn't be covered by any traditional media. Aside from examples like that, there is also an issue that it's usually hard to gauge the popularity of ideas within the technical community without having to rely on certain technical websites (e.g. Slashdot) to demonstrate how notable those views are. Slashdot even conducts interviews on certain occassions. You can also take a look at many articles on mathematical and CS subjects--very often there are good website of an educational nature that aren't written by experts (not in the sense of having a PhD anyway), but are nonetheless well written and very helpful as either external links or source material.
What criteria do you plan on using to determine what a reliable source is if we were, hypothetically, writing a new policy page from scratch? Why should being part of a traditional news source even be a consideration? Why not evaluate websites on a case by case basis using some universal criteria/methodology (see preceding questions), instead of relying on statistical generalizations (even if they were 100% statistically accurate--which is questionable)? Once you know more information about a specific source, relying just on generalizations isn't logically valid. How would you evaluate, on a case by case basis, the quality of particular author(s) of a specific source? What *methods* and justification thereof do you use for the following: determining who is an expert, determining when an expert is required, determining a sources general/overall reliability (e.g. levels of fact checking, editing), determining ideological slant of a source, assessing the popularity of a given viewpoint (for purposes of due weight and general inclusion/exclusion), etc? What exceptions do you and don't you allow for and why? -Nathan J. Yoder 12:45, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
that's an essay not a policy nor even a guideline, as such I'm free to ignore it as you so willfully seem to want to do to push your pov on paypal. Its quite simple, if a page isn't created by a reliable and reputable organization or individual they're out. In the case of individuals they should be experts in the field for which they're being used as a citation. For organizations they should be professional news organizations, professional and reputable review sites with editorial oversight, they should be the official page of the subject. Whether some people choose to believe everything they read in a random joe's blog that is up to them, wikipedia doesn't. Anyone can create a blog and put whatever they want in it. Anyone can create a complaints website and put whatever they want on it. There is nothing about those that makes them remotely verifiable. Unless they become recognize for quality and fact checking they're out.--Crossmr 14:29, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
Please read WP:CIVIL, there is no need for attacks here and you aren't contributing productively to this discussion and it makes me wonder if you just came here because I did. WP:IAR is official policy, directly sanctioned from Wales himself. That essay, linked directly from the policy page (which does give it at least some merit), is just a clarification of what the policy means. What do you think IAR (official policy) means? This is reiterated on various other policy and guideline pages. See WP:NOT#BUREAUCRACY which specifically stated that you are to follow the spirit and not the letter of policy. It also links to something describing wikilawyering, which you should read as well.
Since you're simply repeating yourself and refuse to give non-circular definitions and are directly refusing to answer many questions I asked with good reason (like how you determine who an expert it is) and are refusing to address the many issues I outlined, I have to ask why you're replying. "It is simple, a reliable website is a website that's reliable" (paraphrased). The fact that you insist on using such circular definitions suggests that you consider it anything but simple. That's not helpful and quite frankly, is going to result in you not getting the validation you seek. Recognized by who and how are you determining the degree to which these sources are recognized as such? Since we're defining reliability, we need to define what qualifies as an expert, professional, reputable, etc. And as I also said, criteria is needed to determine quality of fact checking and other factors. I could use circular definitions to construct a maze of circular logic too, but it wouldn't help my point--which is why I tried to fully explain the methods that I think should be used.
No one here is suggesting that random websites that someone just put up be trusted. Even in the particular case which you've brought up, it is not just a random website someone put up yesterday for reasons I already specified, one of which is how popular and widely frequented it is--that's not something any joe blow can do. -Nathan J. Yoder 15:44, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
Please point to where I was uncivil? Simply pointing out that you want hard and fast policy for every point raised on the paypal talk page that would contradict the type of material you're trying to include in that article and then back up your argument here with an essay isn't remotely uncivil. IAR is policy and as much as you want to IAR, I can IAR in return and remove anything you add. Policy supports it right? in fact IAR supports ignoring 3RR doesn't it? I've been heavily involved in the talk page of IAR and before you try and use it to make your case you might want to spend some time there understanding it. IAR is policy, but that essay of clarification is not so since you're requiring hard and fast policy for every thing on the paypal article, I'll require it just the same here. As far as debates go, they're effectively over once you want to hang your hat on IAR. it goes both ways and leaves no room for discussion. There is a reason its been not policy, policy not policy and policy again. It doesn't quite have the consensus for power that calling it a policy would dictate. It doesn't matter if the website was put up yesterday or 3 years ago. The website will stay as long as the bills are paid and its not violating any laws where the servers are hosted. That does nothing to establish whether or not a website is reliable. As far as determining what an expert it, criteria for professional organizations, etc. We can easily create sections on the RS talk page and take input from members and try and reach a consensus on that.--Crossmr 23:10, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
How about how you decided to change the subject and accuse me of POV pushing on another page? " I'll require it just the same here." I gave you explicit policy--WP:NOT, why did you ignore that? Seriously, this is one of the worst cases of bad faith I've seen in a while-I keep giving you exactly what you ask for and in reutrn you give me circular logic. You continually claim that various things you say on other pages are supported by policy, so I challenge you on it, then you struggle to find something and when you fail to do so you just start going in circles. I'm sorry, but no hypocrisy exists with me, but I see someone who exhibits it strongly. If I went left and right claiming that everything I said was policy, instead of trying to support my arugments on their individual merits (which I do), you might have a point.
It seems like your arguments consist entirely of "it's policy," except when policy works against you. Whenever you're proven wrong, you just ignore the refutation and repeat your original assertions (argumentum ad nauseam--which isn't good faith). I'm not the one asserting that everything is policy left and right. IAR doesn't support ignoring 3RR--go read the essay, it clarifies the purpose of it. If you disagree that that's what it means, then fine, argue that, don't just "nope, it's wrong."
"As far as debates go, they're effectively over once you want to hang your hat on IAR." That's just another way of saying you weren't really interested in a debate in the first place and this is an excuse. That doesn't make sense, I only brought up IAR because you were refusing to participate in the debate to begin with. I had written long, thoughtful responses and your responded with "oh duh reliable sources are sources that are reliable." Because you were refusing to budge in that regard, I decided to respond with policy since you have shown a history of only participating when someone brings up that something as policy--rather than a discussion of what policy is.
"We can easily create sections on the RS talk page and take input from members and try and reach a consensus on that" So why not respond to what I've said here, there then, if we are try separating WP:V and WP:RS? Your only responses have been brief and counter-productive--relying on circular definitions. If you like, (I'm sure you'll ignore this) I can even copy and paste my responses over there, would you respond with something more than circular definitions? I've made a good effort here to try to define my methodology and viewpoints, where are yours? -Nathan J. Yoder 02:43, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
Merging WP:V and WP:RS is another possibility, of course, and I'd support it. But I suspect it might be easier to find consensus for distinguishing them rather than merging them. Basically, I think we can leave WP:RS basically as it is, except perhaps move the BLP section to WP:V. In WP:V, we can just delete main heading #2, which is redundant, or turn it into a brief summary style section referencing WP:RS. COGDEN 17:52, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
If we merge it, then how are you going to deal with additions to the RS side of it? Consensus on policy changes is slow and RS is a continually growing list. -Nathan J. Yoder 07:17, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
In reply to SlimVirgin: Here are examples of the phenomenon I was referring to, i.e. where news sources were not considered reliable sources and editors (successfully, AFAIR) opposed putting the material based on them onto the page: [7] [8] [9] --Coppertwig 21:56, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

There should be no merger. COGDEN nailed the problem on its head with his opening post. WP:RS needs as precise and detailed as possible definitions of what is reliable; nothing more, nothing less. Any WP:V content there should be merged back here and vice versa, and then both pages should be allowed to develop in their own directions. Currently WP:RS is much less useful then in the past, as its most useful content (descriptions of what constitutes a reliable source) where removed and replaced by dilluted-down statements from WP:V (see here and here for some relevant discussions.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  02:49, 5 September 2007 (UTC)


This policy is worthless. People who waste time making sure their sources are verifiable and reliable will always be trumped by people who just make up crap or are spamming Wikipedia.

This page in a nutshell: Material that is challenged or likely to be challenged, and all quotations, must be attributed to a reliable, published source.

This, on Wikipedia, appears to have the unique meaning that you can attribute it to a "reliable, published source," but that source doesn't have to say what you said it says in the text you wrote on Wikipedia. This pretty much just makes the policy worthless. But I thank all the administrators and editors who have clarified this issue for me so I won't waste any future time researching to make sure that what is said in the article is what the literature actually says. KP Botany 20:44, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

Can you verify that? In my experience an accurate reading carries weight in discussions, and bad faith misrepresentation can be resolved by dispute resolution as needed. .. dave souza, talk 22:12, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

The Unreferenced Tag

This tag states "This article does not cite any references or sources." This is a very odd all-or-nothing statement. Is it only to be used when there is not a single source in a document? Because that's how it reads. Or is there a less black/white version of the tag that says something like "This article does not cite a significant number of references or sources." NjtoTX 02:27, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Good point. But see Template:Refimprove and Template:Citations missing (which should probably be linked from Template:Unreferenced usage section.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  02:51, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
Ah, thanks! Exactly what I was looking for. Boy, it's hard getting to know this thing without sitting down with someone. NjtoTX 03:03, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
You can say that again :) -- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  03:07, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Dubious sources vs. no sources

A point has been made elsewhere that a well edited uncited article is a better bet than one with dubious references. I think that is a good point. It might be a good idea to make that point explicitly in both WP:V and WP:RS. -- Boracay Bill 23:07, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Neither should exist here. Whether you write it well or poor its still uncited. Whether the text is cited with a questionable source, or uncited its equally questionable.--Crossmr 02:54, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
In any case, a true statement with citation is much better than a true statement without citation. And even a statement with reference to a dubious source is better than one without citation at all - if the reader is aware that the claim that therapy X will heal all kinds of cancer within one month is coming from a geocities page, they might be more cautious, and diligent editors will find it much easier to remove such a claim. Let's not fall back to the times of "But it's true !!!" debates. Regards, High on a tree 02:20, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
Dubious citations are misleading at best, especially if its not something as obvious as a geocities page. If its a dressed up blog, or self-published website from someone with an axe to grind it can look legitimate and authoritative when in reality its not reliable at all.--Crossmr 02:55, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
Somebody who has difficulties discerning blogs and self-published web sites from reliable sources will not do good research when writing or verifying an article, regardless if those sources are quoted or not. But other with better judgement will find it much, much easier to assess what he writes if citations are given.
Of course I agree that dubious citations should better be removed, but they should be removed together with the statements that rely on them. Just removing the bad citations and leaving information in the article because it looks so "well-edited" is a perfect example of an ostrich attitude (head in the sand).
Regards, High on a tree 03:59, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
Not so fast... A dubious source can conceivably contain good information. I think you need to take a two part approach here... I agree that the dubious citation should be removed (with a good edit summary and a comment on the talk page to explain why)... but at that point you need to slow down a bit and give other editors a chance to look for a good reliable source for the statement. So, I would suggest replacing the bad citation with a {{fact}} tag, wait a week or so and, assuming no reliable source is provided then remove the statement. Blueboar 12:43, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
This depends heavily on the statement which is missing citation. Statements which are written as subjective opinions that look they were drawn from someone reading a forum, mailing list, chat log, etc should be removed out right. There a difference between "Company X has 200 employees" and "Many users think Software Y sucks".--Crossmr 18:11, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Consensus on alterations to policy

I came here after a discussion on the talk page of WP:BLP concerning additions creeping into policy pages without true consensus. I went back and checked the history of this and the talk page. Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/Archive 1 contains all talk from the beginning to October 2005. The changes made up to October 2005 are far from trivial and the discussion on the changes was made by maybe a dozen or so editors. I really think that we need to re-review the consensus on the various sections because of this. We should probably do it for the other major policy pages too, although my main focus is verifiability and reliable source pages for now. -Nathan J. Yoder 08:08, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

WP:SELFPUB as moving target

I have a question about WP:RS and self-published sources. There is a dispute on Southern California InFocus (a community newspaper) concerning information from a self-published web page of a notable organization (ADL). They have a page on their website that other editors insist on quoting on the article. My problem with quoting the website is that it is a moving target -- just in the time that we have been editing this article over the past few weeks, we have seen the ADL page change twice. Once they removed a sentence that we had quoted in the article -- the wayback machine shows an older version of the page with the sentence intact, whereas the current version of the page has removed the sentence, and added two new paragraphs about the newspaper. The only indication that anything has changed is a new date at the top. I don't think we can link to such a page as it is a moving target - there is no guarantee that it won't change again. I realize that the organization is notable but I do not see how a moving target self-published web page from that organization can be considered a WP:RS. csloat 18:51, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Notability doesn't denote verifiability. Their usefulness as a source is even more questionable with the fact that they have changed the text. As a non-static source, I can't see any benefit in using them as a source. What they say today might not be there tomorrow. Even if they were a traditional reliable source like the New York Times, if an article was constantly having the text of it changed, I'd question both the article and further usefulness of it as a source.--Crossmr 19:03, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
And I concur. Citing to a constantly changing document (where there is no absolutely fixed version available to cite to) makes no sense. Otherwise you get the huge mess like with the Bluebook(where the rules of citation keep changing and screwing up the meaning of a lot of court cases).--Coolcaesar 19:16, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
There are reliability issues, but not from being self-published. ADL is not a self-published source in the sense it is used here. It's a pretty major organization. By that argument the New York Times is self-published because it publishes its own paper. The key issue is that there is editorial control over the content of what it says. Presumably, the ADL has made a charge or criticized the paper, or otherwise has something to say bout this Muslim paper. I do see two pitfalls here. First, if the purpose of the quote is simply to say that there is some controversy or that the paper has been criticized by groups like the ADL, that is WP:OR. If person A says X about person B, you cannot use person A's statement to source the proposition that there is a controversy between person A and person B. You need a secondary source to cover the matter. Perhaps in a very limited way you can source the statement for the mere proposition that person A said it, but that is of limited value and any editorializing that this is part of a controversy needs some other source. But that's not even true anymore. By removing that sentence they have in a way retracted the statement, or at least diminished its importance. Second, if that quote is used to represent the truth of the ADL position, surely any real criticism of the newspaper must have better sources than that. ADL is certainly a reliable if partisan source for some things, but a changing quote on its front page is probably not the most reliable source on covering another organization it disagrees with. Wikidemo 19:21, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
The ADL web page appears self-published; there is no editorial control that I see any indication of. The comparison would not be to the NYT but to a blog on the NYT web page. Again, the fact that it is a moving target invalidates its use as a reliable source here in my mind. I agree with your point about the OR as well. To clarify though, the question at hand is not whether we can quote the removed sentence - I think everyone agrees we can't -- but rather whether we can quote anything else from the web page that may or may not change in the future. csloat 20:12, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
I think it is O'K to cite such sources. There are numerous on-line sources with constantly changing content, such as biological databases with protein sequences, structures, etc. A newly published protein structure can substitute the older one. Should we disqualify all such sources as unreliable? Definitely not. One should only correct the WP article to make it consistent with the most recent version of the database entry (just as we correct broken links). Knowledge is evolving, and so does WP (also an important information resource with changing content). Importantly, this ADL is not self-published. Biophys 20:26, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
There is a difference between a change in a scientific study and a website with no editorial oversight. Usually editorial oversight would indicate that once something is published, its not changed unless its officially retracted (i.e. in the case of a newspaper publishing an incorrect fact).--Crossmr 21:01, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
We must be able to verify a content that someone includes in WP. If an information suddenly disppears from a database or a previously posted article, then we can not use such information in WP, because it is not verifiable any more. But as long as information is present in any source that satisfy WP:SOURCE in all other respects, we can use such information. Why not?Biophys 21:40, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Just to clarify, the information that was being cited from the ADL page is still present on the ADL page. Something we were no longer needing to cite (we have another cite for this now) is not on the ADL page currently; presumably they have updated the page. The ADL page contains a long discussion and timeline regarding CAIR in a report with bullet points. 4 of these bullet points mention 7 articles that the paper has run that the ADL characterizes as problematic. There is no dispute between ADL and the paper. What we have done in the article in one short sentence is to summarize the issues that the ADL has taken exception to in a neutral way, very briefly so as not to cause an undue weight problem. Do you think this is problematic? Bigglove 20:46, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

  • Here is the sentence I would like to use in the article: "The Anti-Defamation League has expressed concerns that the newspaper has engaged in anti-Israel advocacy, defended Islamist militant movements abroad, and accused Jewish groups of anti-Muslim agendas.[7]" Bigglove 20:47, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Here is what that sentence is summarizing from the ADL page: July 2007: A CAIR affiliated publication, In Focus, published an article by staff writer Lawrence Swaim that claims that Jews enjoy unprecedented and destructive influence in the corridors of power in the U.S.; due to what it calls, “the new Philo-Semitism.” According to the article, there is among Christian Americans “a deep and even fanatical affection for Jews [a] power-worship, masking a desire to use Jewish organizations to advance a political agenda.” It further stated: “The U.S. corporate upper class would love nothing more, for example, than to give Jews a seat at the table of empire, if only they will help Israel become the flagship of U.S. hegemony over the Middle East — and the neoconservative movement arose precisely to service this political tendency.” The article, written to explain why Norman Finkelstein did not get tenure at DePaul University, also describes Israel as the Jews’ “disastrous experiment with religious nationalism in Palestine.”
    The July In Focus issue also included a cartoon from the Council for the National Interest depicting the presidential candidates competing for whose going to be first at “The Israel Lobby sign up;” an article that defends Hamas (the article was also posted to the Blog of Hussam Ayloush, director of CAIR- Southern California); and an article that accuses the Pew Research Center for reporting a low number of Muslim Americans to serve an anti-Muslim agenda, possibly inspired by the American Jewish Committee. Also, an article about religious extremism claimed that while Muslims may be attracted to extremism as a result of poverty and injustice, in Western societies it “is born out of exclusivist view of the world,” for example, “Jewish Zionists in Israel and in West Bank illegal settlements who advocate removal or whipping out of Palestinians based solely on Biblical claims.”
April 2007: Hussam Ayloush told In Focus, a CAIR affiliated publication, that “there is a well-coordinated attempt by extremist pro-Israel circles to silence American Muslims.” The article, “Pro-Israel groups target American Muslims,” argued that criticism of CAIR by “right-wing pro-Israeli groups” is motivated by a desire to prevent all Muslims from acquiring “influence in the political and social arenas.” According to In Focus, “CAIR officials say such attacks seek to marginalize the American Muslim voice and disenfranchise this minority.”
October, 2006: A CAIR affiliated publication, InFocus, printed an article supporting Hezbollah for its war against Israel. The commentary ignores Hezbollah’s culpability in provoking the hostilities, claiming the war was part of an American-British conspiracy, a “phase of the larger plans of the colonialist superpowers.” It also praises the “epic heroism of the resistance fighters” and “the larger-than-life leader,” Hassan Nasrallah.
September, 2006: InFocus, reprinted an anti-Semitic opinion piece first published by Saudi English-language newspaper, Arab News. The commentary claims that Israel acts with impunity “because we are the Jews – we are the victims of the Holocaust” and because “Israel is in a position of dominating the U.S. government.” It further claims that “we [Israel] need to create constant conflict,” and that the ultimate goal of these conflicts is the creation of a regional empire, or “Eretz Israel consisting of Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia and even Cyprus.” It also says that the Zionist movement “declared war on Germany,” insinuating that the Holocaust was somehow the result of a Jewish provocation.Bigglove 20:49, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
ADR is plenty reliable as a source and to call it self-published is[seems at my first look to be] silly. It's just partisan, as is the paper that is the subject of the article. We're not going to solve the Arab-Israeli problem or the bickering that goes on in the US either. But we can fairly report in encyclopedia way the organizations that participate in controversies and what the controversies are about. It does sound like the paper has a strong anti-Israeli agenda, or at least that there are reliable sources that say it does. That is a fair factual statement to include in Wikipedia, subject to POV and WEIGHT concerns, and would tend to go under a "criticisms" or "controversy" heading, as would any credible response on the other side. I'm going to stay neutral on whether that should be in the article or not because I don't want to actually look into the sources and assess everything, just saying that ADL's statements on that subject are not unreliable on the basis of self-publication. Wikidemo 21:41, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
It is not "silly"; there is absolutely no indication of any editorial oversight at all. The issue is not the ADL itself as an organization, but this one web page that has no indication that it is edited by anyone except the webmaster, who appears to be paying attention to Wikipedia talk pages and changing the page with the discussion. That is my suspicion anyway; it is entirely possible this is purely coincidental, but either way it doesn't matter - I don't see how we can be sure the content won't change again, and I don't see how we can claim this page is verifiable. If we had some indication that this was an official ADL policy statement, or if ADL published this statement in a reliable source (partisan or no), I would not have a problem with it, but I do have a problem with citing as verifiable a source that keeps changing, possibly in response to the Wikipedia entry itself. csloat 22:21, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Doesn't this require a secondary source showing ADL's opinion about this newspaper is WP:Notable. Otherwise, this just allows the ADL to WP:SOAPbox anything they want into the wikipedia. -- 22:45, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Summary: Wikidemo has given an opinion that the ADL Web site is not disqualified based on self-publication. Bigglove 22:53, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
To anon editor, Wikipedia editors put stuff in Wikipedia. The ADL is not putting anything in Wikipedia, they are putting stuff on their own Web site. Bigglove 22:56, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
That doesn't respond to the anon editor -- we need a third party that states that this opinion is notable; at the moment it doesn't seem to be. It is true they are just "putting stuff on their own web site," but that is exactly the problem -- they are doing so without any editorial oversight, and they are changing what they put up without warning, and they may be changing their page in response to wikipedia discussions about the page. All of this makes that material very difficult to accept as a reliable source by wikipedia standards. csloat 23:02, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
Okay, I might stand corrected then (I changed "is silly" to seems silly at first look). If this is indeed an out of the way page run by a single webmaster acting alone without ADL supervision perhaps it is unreliable - not because it's an ADL project or self-published as such but because this particular page/site lacks oversight, is unofficial, changes, etc. I also sympathize with the argument that if the issue is real and important then surely some other sources must have picked up on it. If not, it may be true or may not be true, but Wikipedia isn't the place to first bring obscure claims or truths to light. Not our function as an encyclopedia. I've gone about as far as I can go without actually reviewing the specifics, and I don't want to be the one to do that because I prefer to just make a general comment about verifiability, not get involved in a partisan dispute. Also, please don't take my comments as having any special authority. I just happened to wander by this page today. Wikidemo 23:06, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
I understand - the problem is we don't know whether this page is official or not; we don't know anything about it other than that it changes without notice, probably in response to wikipedia discussions. That is very problematic. I sympathize with your desire not to get involved; the problem is that we have three editors on that page who show no concern with the arguments here; they seem determined to keep citing that page no matter what Wikipedia policy states. At least one of them seems to be there only due to a personal grudge, which is unfortunate, as I think all of them could be valuable Wikipedia editors in the right circumstances. What does one do to enforce WP:V when several editors get together to violate it? Is it just a case of "majority rules" here? csloat 23:26, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Wikidemo, your general comment about verifiablity is very helpful as we were discussing the issue of self published sources and it is helpful to have an outside view. Sloat, are you saying that the ADL is not necessarily notable when it comes to commenting on specific issues of antiJewish antiIsrael bias? That would be a hard statement to support. Are you also saying that something appearing on the official ADL Website does not have the "ADL supervision" but is just a random act by a random webmaster acting alone? That would also be difficult to support. (Your conjecture about the ADL changing their site in response to Wikipedia just conjecture). Bigglove 23:19, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

I am saying that this particular opinion of the ADL about this particular newspaper is not notable without some third party commentary on it. I am not making any claim beyond that as far as notability goes. As for verifiability, I am saying that we cannot endorse a moving target as a reliable source. Especially not a moving target that appears to be moving in response to Wikipedia talk pages -- we might as well just make things up ourselves if we license that. It may be conjecture, but it is backed up by the timing. But even if my conjecture is incorrect, the argument stands that it is a moving target and thus cannot be cited on Wikipedia. csloat 23:26, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
I wouldn't even go as far as third party. If the paper itself even editorialized about the ADL's opinion of it, that could be enough to give it the sheen of relevance. Otherwise, WP:SOAP applies to the ADL just as much as any other person or organization. -- 22:49, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
On the question of what to do, you always try discussion first. If most people are talking and a few people just edit contentiously, the people who talk about the issue can usually work out a consensus or compromise and the contentious people eventually go away. If they won't, the next step is a mediation. I've had good results with the Mediation Cabal, an unofficial group. The next step up if the mediation is unsuccessful is formal arbitration, but those people are busy and you don't want to bother them if you don't have to. As you go up the chain you get more and more authority in the outcome. People who make edits in clear contradiction of an arbitration result, or even a mediation result, are simply being difficult and after a few warnings they can be blocked from editing if they won't respect the outcome. But usually, just talking about it and appealing to group consensus, policies, etc., will work sooner or later. Wikidemo —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wikidemo (talkcontribs) 23:43, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Merge with WP:RS

Given that the bulk of this is about reliable sources, shouldn't WP:RS be merged? ←BenB4 01:07, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

The bulk of this should not be about reliable sources. The bulk of this hould be about verifiability. -- Boracay Bill 01:14, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
You could say it the other way around. The bulk of reliable sources is about verifiability. But it has a little other stuff too. At any rate, if you want to merge reliable sources into this page, yet still keep its distinction as a guideline rather than a policy and the freedom to get into a few other policy areas as well, you could simply transclude this entire page into reliable sources. I just made a similar comment on that page. It would work something like the WP:NONFREE guideline, which transcludes all of WP:NFCC. If you like that kind of format it could work here too. Wikidemo 07:28, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
Didn't some try something similar at Wikipedia:Attribution? Jeepday (talk) 12:20, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
No, I believe that was an attempt to merge WP:V with WP:NOR. MastCell Talk 16:24, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
I definitely do not think we should try to merge this policy into WP:RS. That would be a nightmare of coordination ... both pages are frequently edited, and edits here would have to be matched by edits there (and vise versa). It will take constent monitoring to make sure that they both say the same thing. Otherwise we will end up with WP:RS contradicting WP:V (which has happened before).
As I see it, we have only two options... re-merge WP:RS into this policy (it started out as essentially a POV fork from WP:V after all) or clearly deliniate the purpose and scope of both and keep them seperate. Personally, I would prefer the first option... it has always struck me as odd that this policy requires editors to use "reliable sources", but leaves it to a highly contentious and frequently edited guideline to explain what we mean by those two words. WP:RS is probably one of the least stable guidelines in Wikipedia. However, I suspect that any attempt to re-merge the two will result in another ATT type debate... people are too used to having (and fighting about) WP:RS to see it disappear. That means going with the latter option. And if we do go that route, then I think RS will need some serious attention as to its purpose and intent. It will need some major re-writing (and constant watching to keep it from drifting from that purpose and intent). Blueboar 17:05, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
What about my idea of transcluding this article in RS. That way there is no trouble keeping them separate because the part of WP:RS that is just a restatement of WP:V would be delineated, and uneditable from inside WP:RS. That would encourage the RS people to only add things that elaborate on or extend WP:V. Any part of WP:RS that duplicates or contradicts WP:V could simply be pruned out of WP:RS. That also eliminates any trouble keeping things current because a change to WP:V would automatically propagate to the transclusion in WP:RS. Not saying it should be done, but if we do that might be a clean way to do it. Wikidemo 23:20, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

We could transclude the source-related portions of this policy into WP:RS with judicious use of noinclude tags and comments adjacent to them so they don't get removed. Any objections to that? ←BenB4 12:32, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

They shouldn't be merge. In terms of specifics of what a reliable source is, there is a lot of disagrement among Wikipedians, which means that it should remain a guideline. See my essay about this on the WP:RS talk page. This is kind of annoying that we're having essentially duplicate discussions here and on WP:RS, maybe we should just pick one of the talk pages and debate there? -Nathan J. Yoder 19:36, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
It does not seem broken, so fixing it will likely make things worse. ((1 == 2) ? (('Stop') : ('Go')) 20:42, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
This is a solution begging for a problem. The material about reliable sources contained in this policy is incredibly non-controversial. While certainly the specifics of reliable sources hold a less overwhelming consensus (and hardly as contentious as presented), they are covered in WP:RS, not in this policy. Vassyana 23:51, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Bias in this policy

As written this policy creates an improper bias in favor of paper sources. For some topics, such as computer technology and Internet, many publications are only available online. Paper doesn't have magical powers for creating truth. Can we please change "books" to "media", or some other neutral term that doesn't favor one format (paper) over another (online sources)? - Jehochman Talk 18:49, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Paper publishing is still the standard. It has the required editorial oversight by default, with the exception of self-published books. Most online sources are self-published and clearly covered by the policy. Nearly all online sources that are reliable are published by reliable print publishers. Until such a time as online publishing becomes a primary model for a significant number of reliable references, the emphasis on paper publications is appropriate. Vassyana 23:48, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
I think the idea is that the page should outline the general intention instead of the specific. In other words, it should simply say that self-published sources are generally avoided, instead of bringing up a list of different sources that tend to be self-published. Using a list like that may result in some Wikipedians interpreting it as some hard and fast rule against the particular medium, instead of a rule against self-publishing. -Nathan J. Yoder 23:53, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Actually, most important publications initially published only online tend to be available in paper format shortly thereafter, if they are public domain or generated under a license allowing free reproduction with credit (like the GFDL). There are a number of small presses that specialize in printing out such documents in book format as desk references. For example, a large number of the Internet RFCs are available in the "Big Book" RFC compilations.
To reiterate Vassyana's point, the bias in favor of paper sources is correct and totally justifiable because they tend to have more editorial oversight, which, on average, increases their reliability. For example, if I publish an article in a law review, that article will be read by (1) editor(s) who read submissions, who will verify that the article says something meaningful that is appropriate for a law review; (2) several editors who have to track down every source cited in the article and verify that they exist and are cited properly (I have personal experience with this tedious task); (3) several copyeditors looking for grammar and spelling errors; (4) the editor-in-chief, and (5) the layout editor. In turn, that article will be published in paper form to law libraries across the United States and online on LexisNexis, and can then be cited under the Bluebook system as [volume] [journal abbreviation] [first page] ([year]). If I publish that same article on my personal Web site (if I had one, which I don't at the moment), then there is no guarantee of quality.
It still takes quite a bit more effort to publish in paper format, since offset lithography printing machines are still quite expensive and are not economical for runs under 1,000. Therefore, most publishers are going to have several sets of eyeballs looking at documents before they front the cost of setting up for a print run (as well as advertising and distribution). Also, most publishers have a brand name or trademark, in which they have invested significant capital. The exceptions, of course, are the vanity presses where the self-publishing author subsidizes the cost of the print run himself or herself. --Coolcaesar 01:35, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
Journals in my field are steadily moving toward online-only publication. What matters is editorial oversight and fact checking, not whether the material is published on the internet, paper, clay tablets, or whatever. Raymond Arritt 01:40, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
I quite agree with Coolcaesar. Raymond Arritt, what field is that? It would certainly be notable and quite distinct if there is a field moving in that direction. Most fields are still catching up to the dual-publishing model, mostly relying on third-party delivery services (such as Questia) of scanned materials. Vassyana 01:49, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm thinking specifically of journals published by the American Geophysical Union, though other journals in my field (atmospheric sciences) also are moving away from paper. The electronic version has been the official "version of record" for AGU for several years now (see here). Print remains available for the time being but they've told us in no uncertain terms that print will be phased out. The most recent weekly newsletter said that press runs are becoming smaller and smaller, and before long the cost will not be justifiable. Raymond Arritt 02:07, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
That's actually very nifty! :) However, a single (if prominent) publisher for a single relatively small field of science seems an exception, rather than the rule. I would not be adverse to expressing an exception explicitly in policy for such cases, but such an exception would have to be very carefully worded to avoid abuse. If you have some ideas on how this could be incorporated into policy, they would be most welcome. In the meantime, we're encouraged to use some sense and the rules already indicate that established experts and reliable publishers are granted an exception to the general bias. Vassyana 02:27, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
No, we are not talking about one or two exceptions. Your assumption is false. Huge swaths of knowledge that are moving to online only publication. In computer technology, and Internet topics, everything is online, and very little is available on paper. Other sciences are moving the same way. We need to fix this policy so it talks about media in general terms, without preferring books and magazines over websites. As long as there is editorial oversight and fact checking, how the info is published DOES NOT MATTER. The policy needs to be media agnostic. - Jehochman Talk 02:36, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
This is a trend in many of the sciences, in paleontology, in the biological sciences, and not just the AGU in the geological sciences, where sessions compilations are going web only, also web primary journals are becoming more prominant, see the PLoS journals, for example. Ask User:DGG about this to get an opinion, rather than guessing. Geophysics, by the way, is not a "relatively small field of science," as it is one of the crossover fields. The annual AGU meeting every year in San Francisco is the "largest annual scientific conference in the world." It's better to fact check than guess--geophysics is big time science. KP Botany 02:39, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
And, yes, these are all peer-reviewed web publications we are discussing, considered by scientists on a par, when not superior, to print sources. KP Botany 02:40, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Considering different publication models

(outdent) I apparently have a misconception of the publication model used by (at least a significant portion of) scientific journals. (My error.) My own field is in humanities, which has yet to adopt such a publishing strategy, instead relying on standard print as the primary model and online publication as a complementary model. Generally, the focus is more on making scans and text conversions of print materials available for online databases than on an "actual" online publication model. Regardless, I will agree that the main need is for references exhibiting professionalism and editorial oversight with a reputation for fact-checking & accuracy. Vassyana 03:08, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

The situation is similar in law, history, and most of the social sciences. The primary publishing model is still based on paper, citations are always to the pagination in the paper copy if one exists, and online versions are used only as an aid to research (because they're easier to search and to retrieve). In law especially, the paper pagination is retained in online sources through star pagination techniques. There are a few online journals, mainly technology journals, and a few high-profile blogs by law professors like Eugene Volokh. But for serious legal articles, the general attitude is that there are so many law reviews, journals, and magazines out there hungry for half-decent articles they can edit into something publishable, which implies that if you have no choice but to publish it online on your own Web site, then there is something wrong with you.
Furthermore, Jehochman is simply incorrect about "very little is available on paper" for computer technology or Internet topics. Try spending hundreds of hours walking the cavernous stacks of a world-class computer science library like Kresge Engineering Library at UC Berkeley, or the Mathematical and Computer Sciences Library at Stanford University, both of which I have explored extensively (one of my passions is the history of computing). I also believe the two giant professional organizations of the computing field, IEEE Computer Society and ACM, would both beg to disagree. They both publish hundreds of books and journal issues every year in paper format, which they then mirror online in their respective digital libraries.
Finally, to expand on KP Botany's point, geophysics is big business because of petrophysics (oil companies will pay big money to geologists who can find oil for them). --Coolcaesar 03:35, 10 September 2007 (UTC) (reworded later, --Coolcaesar 05:55, 10 September 2007 (UTC))
Uh... no. Almost none of the papers presented at the AGU meetings have anything to do with oil exploration. Raymond Arritt 04:01, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm not an ultimate authority on anything, but it is obvious from the nature of some online only journals that they can be as important as any other. (Though PLOS has now returned to printing a paper edition for libraries that want to archive it in that form; other almost equally good ones, like BMC Biology, never did publish paper). Each journal decides what is the version of record. the trend is certainly for it to be the online version , for this includes the more detailed form of the illustrations, and sometimes additional data. (and, FWIW, that is particularly important in fields like geophysics, where the arguments ar based on such presentations. A policy that downgrades such publication is out-of-date. Perhaps the most dramatic example is Physical Review Letters and the other Physical Review journals, for which a/the online version is the version of record b/the articles don't even have issue numbers any more and c/ the society has announced its willingness to stop publishing the paper whenever the membership decides there is no further demand for it. Peer-reviewed journals differ in quality, but whether they publish a paper version is the least important factor to consider. It's true some online only publications pretending to be peer-reviewed are junk, but the same is true of many print; that a journal of any sort says it is peer-reviewed doesn't stop it from publishing everything that comes in the door--or over the net. DGG (talk) 03:38, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

The irony of perspectives among some Wikipedians

The Irony Is Strong With This One. [1]

Thanks to the success of Wikipedia, many people[2] are adopting a free[3]-content online stance. People are moving away from proprietary paper publication. For perhaps the first time in history, people are publishing information that is important to all of society in ways that are now actually accessible by all of society.

At the same time, some Wikipedia editors are working hard to bias Wikipedia against the development that Wikipedia itself helped spark!

Argh! Can we get some unity-of-objective here?

--Kim Bruning 03:42, 11 September 2007 (UTC) [1] Sorry Mr. Lucas [2] The Wikipedia cabal is not just on wikipedia :-P. [3] as in speech, not as in beer

As I said above, I can agree that the main need is for references exhibiting professionalism and editorial oversight with a reputation for fact-checking & accuracy. Vassyana 01:06, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
The Wikipedia credibility catch-22: The truly ironic part is, the whole "paper versus electronic" dichotomy is really irrelevant, and Wikipedia will probably be the last place on Earth where people readily acknowledge that. Unlike Universities, Technical institutes, other organizations, or even other Encyclopedias, Wikipedia has no independent basis upon which to establish a favorable and enduring reputation of credibility.
This is the very factor that causes some to grasp at "more tangible" sources of substantiation, and what causes some to make ad-hoc (and sometimes entirely arbitrary) judgments about what is "reliable" (based on factors such as "is it on paper somewhere?")
This very discussion thread is a good demonstration. It's almost as though the mere fact that something's been printed (by a non-vanity press) is the "gold standard" of tangibility for some folks here, and tangibility is considered the only meaningful proxy for credibility (something that Wikipedia will apparently *never* have on its own, because there are no (or very minimal) "entry barriers" and no "tangible output" [like graduates, a finished product, award-winning inventions or cures for diseases]).
Law review articles as a case in point: Coolcaesar made some reasonable remarks about law review articles above, but what may surprise some people is that *many* law review articles actually recieve far less rigorous scrutiny and cross-disciplinary-informed critique than some of the higher-traffic Wikipedia articles. In fact, the entire publishing model for law review articles has been the subject of stern criticism among some very well-established legal scholars (See e.g., Reforming the American Law Review James Lindgren Stanford Law Review, Vol. 47, Law Review Conference (Summer, 1995), pp. 1123-1130). I'm not downgrading law review articles, (nor any other generally-accepted traditional source of scholarship) ... but I *am* suggesting that the issues here are far more nuanced than can be resolved with generalities, or unqualified appeals to "tradition".
Of course, the defense mechanisms kick in when people remember that Wikipedia has some glaring deficiencies, and that any 12 year old with an Internet connection can contribute. Many Wikipedians are subconsciously affected by this stigma, and vehemently protest any change that may seem to reinforce it. All this despite the fact that many disciplines are waking up to the power of a model that Wikipedia itself helped to pioneer.
The writing is on the wall, and astonishingly, the ones doing most of the writing will probably be the very last to realize it. dr.ef.tymac 03:40, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
One thing I've seen though is that most people don't consider wikipedia reliable. They consider in a tertiary source that should hopefully be verified on secondary sources. Hence the point of WP:V. People can read wikipedia and trust it if they like, but if they don't (and probably shouldn't) they can follow the sources for anything and verify it.--Crossmr 05:28, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
Agreed, but just to clarify my basic point: even though Wikipedia (an online-centric collaborative knowledge resource) has (understandably) little or no "brand equity" when it comes to reliability, it does not necessarily follow that all online-centric resources suffer the same reliability gap. Nor does it necessarily follow that "paper" publishing (by itself) bridges that gap.
Wikipedia(ns) will eventually have to decide. Either WP totally disavows every vestige of independent reliability as a source, and as an organization; or WP will have to acknowledge that it is indeed striving to be an "Encyclopedia" ... and recognize that this title carries an implicit air of independent authority.
It may well be the case that the "Encyclopedia" appellation is really just a façade for the big open secret: WP will *never* be anything more than the world's most verbosely annotated subject index.
Lots of paper references here are to outdated scholarship. With the cornucopia of free access to old works on paper offered by, editors on Wikipedia are dragging up loads of 19th century speculative and/or nationalistic historiography, giving this stuff undue weight in the digital age. /Pieter Kuiper 13:58, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
Pieter, that may well be true... but it is an issue that does not relate to Verifiability. That such sources exist, and that we can verify statements that are based on them, is the issue here. Whether we should make those statements, or use the source or not is more in the realm of WP:NPOV. Blueboar 14:04, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
The idea that references are necessarily reliable and that they are self-interpreting is somewhat naive, but the counter-idea that authorized interpreters are required does not necessarily lead to better results, and tends to enshrine the prejudices of whoever does the final editing. Personally, I think the obvious inadequacies of WP may be a better incentive to self-education than an approach that produces an homogenous textbook. What we need to do is not conceal the inadequacies, but make it plain that not all the sources are equal. DGG (talk) 08:27, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

Online sources for wider verifiability

This subject came up in a discussion elsewhere.

Given paper and online supporting sources of equal reliability quality, wouldn't the online source be preferable to cite because it is more widely verifiable?

Given a highly reliable paper-only source (a peer-reviewed journal article which is not available online, say; or a cite from a book by an author who is well respected in the field being discussed), such a source is a is a good supporting source to cite. However, is it desirable if citing such a paper-only source to also cite an online source — even, perhaps, an online source of less reliability than the paper source (an online article from a reputable news organization, say)?

Should this project article address the question of paper vs. online sources? Should online sources be preferred if the sources are of comparable verifiability? If a highly reliable paper source which has limited accessibility (and consequent limited verifiability) is cited, is the citing of a online source (perhaps less authoritative or less reliable, but more widely verifiable) as well? -- Boracay Bill 23:32, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Common sense tells us that verification will require a minimum amount of effort. We should not use less reliable sources to appeal to the laziness of those unwilling to invest the time and/or money necessary to verify reliable sources. In cases of equal reliability, no reason not to cite both unless the article is already overcited. Vassyana 23:47, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
This is not presently a big issue for me, but I would point out that I happen to live on Boracay Island in the Philippines. I have good online access, but have no reasonable means to verify cites of paper sources. My guess is that my situation in this regard reflects the situation of a significant portion of Wikipedia users. -- Boracay Bill 00:02, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

For a while I thought the full-text-online bias would win out. Perhaps what we're seeing is a last ditch effort by the old guard, to rein in the intertubes before they take over? (that and the nearest decent-for-fact-checking library is still 60 minutes out of my way[1]) --Kim Bruning 01:37, 15 September 2007 (UTC) [1] Considered a "long distance" by most Europeans... why they even have a different culture there (which they do actually and a different dialect, different public holidays, different governance, etc)

Why not use both? WilyD 01:53, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
I can live with that, for now. :-) --Kim Bruning 01:58, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
There are also online resources available, such as Questia. :) We should use the best available sources, regardless of whether they are found online or on paper. Vassyana 03:24, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
One day, and probably soon, we shall have access to all world libraries on-line, if Google and others get their way. Until that time, the fact that a sources is not online, means only that. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 03:59, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
Dude, those "and others" is going to have to be us, more or less. Other than that, I agree. :-) --Kim Bruning 17:05, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
At this point, access to conventional sources is usually more stable. Agreed, it won't always be that way, but that's still the case now. The print source also is usually able to be linked to various online sources--the reverse is not always the case. There is also the concept of a "voucher version," the single "version of record", & it varies. For the NYT, it's the published paper, not the online. For some journals, it's now the online. Use what you can find, but cite the print also if you can. Remember that "sources" like JSTOR and Proquest and findArticles and Google Books and the like are just reprinters--they themselves have no authority. DGG (talk) 09:04, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

Minor clarification: "online" does not necessarily mean "more widely verifiable". Some of those online repositories are proprietary subscription-only services such as JSTOR, LexisNexis and Westlaw -- some with their own proprietary interfaces and even proprietary citation formats; (see e.g., Fuqua Homes, Inc. v. Beattie, No. 03-3587, 2004 WL 2495842 (8th Cir. Nov. 8, 2004)). Often access to these are contingent upon payment or membership in a participating institution or organization. For some people, hard-copy distribution through ILL is actually more convenient and less restrictive. dr.ef.tymac 01:10, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

right, so remember to always give the actual citation. A librarian should be able to work from whatever you have, but the easier you make it the sooner you will have it. As for court citation, mostl court decisions essentially are available free on the web--see WP:Case citation, from which that example comes. Don't assume that a commercial service is the only way for anything. DGG (talk) 10:20, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Proposed changes at NOR that may (or may not) impact here

Knowing that a change to one core policy can have unexpected impact on others, and thus major changes should be coordinated and discussed cross policy: It has been proposed that the section WP:NOR#Primary, secondary and tertiary sources be replaced with something similar to this (the wording is not yet final, but the conceptual change has gained consensus at NOR). Not only are we now seeking broader community consensus for the change, but I think those who are working at WP:V need to take a look at the proposal, and think about how it might impact WP:V. Please comment at NOR. Blueboar 15:52, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Please see this for a brief synopsis of what is being discussed and why. To see everything in it's proper context, then much reading will be required, including going through the Archives for the page. In short, we are not attempting to weaken the policy, but to make clearer by moving WP:PSTS somewhere more appropriate, and linking to it's new location (wherever that is). The types of sources and their definitions are not really part of a policy that discusses "No Original Research", much like your house insurance policy's definition of "Acts of God" don't really pertain to your insurance policy. It's just included for further clarity, but the actual definition has nothing to do with your policy, just its final interpretation of what is covered (or not). This is not something that some are trying to impose overnight, much discussion still needs to be done, but the sooner others participate and help, the quicker the additional work can progress. wbfergus Talk 13:20, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

Semi-protect this page?

For some reason this page is under constant bombardment of late by vandals with anonymous IP addresses. The edit history becomes hard to use because you can't tell if anyone has made a real edit when nearly all the edits are either vandalism or reversions of vandalism. I don't see any constructive edits recently from anonymous IPs. Do you think that's enough to go for long-term (a month or so) edit protection? Wikidemo 00:25, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

I concur that semi-protection is needed. The underlying problem is that this policy and NPOV are often cited as the basis for reverting vandals, quacks, and psychos who try to insert biased garbage into the encyclopedia. So then when they realize they can't get anywhere on Wikipedia, they get mad and come here and vandalize this policy and NPOV as well. --Coolcaesar 16:37, 20 September 2007 (UTC)
I have semi-protected the page for 2 days due to persistent vandalism. I do not want to even semi-protect a policy page for longer than that. Hope this helps some. ((1 == 2) ? (('Stop') : ('Go')) 16:44, 20 September 2007 (UTC)
Again, maybe? As soon as it came out of semi-protection it was vandalized again by an anonymous editor. Wikidemo 01:22, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Sprot for a week. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:39, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Sumarization question

If a source says, "Although it is doubtful that future findings will alter the view that X, further work may help with the details," then is it okay to say it says X? ←BenB4 16:21, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

No... don't interpret what the source says... state what the source says... that it is doubtful that future findings will alter the view but further work will help with the details. Blueboar 17:08, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

Bleedingly Obvious Stuff

Apologies if this have been covered elsewhere, but it wasn't on the article and I reckon it should be. I've been trying to work out: what happens if something is blatantly obvious, but no reliable sources exist? This has happened already on wikipedia, in the owned article, so I think we should try and clarify the policies on this matter. Let me run you through.

Essentially, there was some debate as to whether or not the article could permit the word "owned" to say that owned means getting smashed etc (not in that tone, obviously) or if we could put it in that owned is often written as 0wn3d etc. The issue was that there were practically no reliable sources out there on the word, it being relatively new, but I was prepared to bet that it was so bleedingly obvious that we didn't really need them. The other point that came up was that some topics might not necessarily have those sources around; "owned" evolved in l33t, and you can't really get many reliable sources on that, can you?

This brings up the point about an article being deleted if there are no sources; there was a debate on deleting the article, which was rejected eventually. The result was we were left with an article with some friction over whether or not we should be able to include blatantly obvious info. You see, we'd decided to keep the article, and I could proove that owned meant getting smashed, but I couldn't provide reliable sources. (Look aorund on the net for about forty five seconds, and you will find evidence for it). I suggested to other other person in the debate to google owned or put it into youtube to see what I was on about-probably a good thing to do here; might give you a better idea as to what I am talking about. I spoke to a friend about the debate, who laughed that the other guy thought I needed sources for the article, but he persisted, for reasons I sort of understand, but I still think that some things are a bit "everyone knows that", if you get my drift. Result? We hadn't deleted the article, but there was no way we could get it to accuratly represent the meaning of the word. So anyway, what do we do for things that are so bleedingly obvious that you can't challenge it's accuracy, but there aren't exactly published scientific journals on?

Would be great if we could clarify this issue; I think it would be very useful were a similar situation to present itself again. 11:31, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

I, for one, could not describe that as obvious. The only definition of "owned" of which I am aware is the one that you will find in any reliable dictionary. I can quite understand why it was challenged. Adrian M. H. 12:36, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
I agree... it isn't bleedingly obvious to me at all. And that is the problem... one person might think something is bleedingly obvious and another does not think so. To assume something is that obvious comes close to WP:NOR. That is why we have to cite to reliable sources and verify things. Also, Wikipedia does not report on Neologisms... until a new word, definition or usage is noticed and commented on by reliable third party sources, it should not be included in Wikipedia. "Owned" or "0wn3d" may be popular texting speak... but until reported on it remains a Neologism. Blueboar 12:48, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
OMG, PWNage! <ducks> We really should have a branch of wikipedia or a namespace or tagging or category for stuff that didn't-quite-make-the-cut-yet, to prevent duplication of effort for when it does finally make the cut. --Kim Bruning 19:11, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Sup u noobs! We have a separate WP section for this kinda stuff, that like totally pwnz u all!! It's called The Wikipedia institute for unreferenced pwnage. If you want to write about kewl stuff without citing a buncha lame-azz boring "references", that's the place to go.
But seriously folks: "Bleedingly obvious" covers concepts such as "up is the opposite of down" and "the letter W starts with the letter W", everything else is WP:OR ... "pwnage" is not the slightest bit obvious to a General Audience (the people for whom you and I are writing).
Fortunately, there's a great tool for finding references to this kind of thing, it's called teh internets. dr.ef.tymac 20:38, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Me again. Yeah, what the last guy was saying. If you google owned, you will find out what it means in about thirty secondsm but you would be hard pressesd to find, say, an encyclopoedia on it. Here is what I mean:,GFRC:2007-03,GFRC:en&q=owned

Put that into your browser, you will see what owned means. CLick on 2, 3 and 4, you will get more or less the same thing. So I think it's pretty bvleedingly obvious what it means (not necessarily general knoweldge, I dind't say that, but if you try and tell me owned doesn't mean getting smashed to more than a few people after reading that, I will be very disappointed). If we were a group of aliens who had arrived on Earth with no prior knowledge of human customs, came here and found that page, I think we would probably conlcude that a significant number of people use owned to mean getting, well, inconvenienced. So what would we tell our superiors back on mothership wiki? Essentially, if we can proove something (not necessarily what owned means), but there are no reliable sources, what do we do? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:40, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

What do we do?... we wait. We wait until this usage of the word gains more notice and is mentioned by reliable sources. If the usage continues, some reliable source will pick up on it. Blueboar 19:57, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
Indeed, waiting is good if it's too obscure to have references. The word "owned," however, is well established, and I don't see the problem. Even 0wn3d gets 53 results in Google News Archive, and while most aren't reliable (e.g. the Register and Inquirer actually use the terms own3d and 0wn3d in articles, but they've got a shaky rep), a few are good; Anchorage Daily News explicitly says "'I 0wn3d you' means 'I have Beaten you in a very humiliating fashion,'" while the AP, ZDNet and InfoWorld and many newspapers document usage of the term, particularly when covering specific website defacings. I couldn't think of any new words for which Google News Archive didn't have some results. -Agyle 06:46, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, if it does have references, then they can be cited, and there's no need to argue against the need for references for being "bleedingly obvious". SamBC(talk) 13:38, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

A problem with "many scientists use the term to mean"

A problem has arisen at neo-Darwinism where a group of editors are insisting that use of the term is 'mainly historical'. I contend that it is anything but historical, and has been in continuous use for over a century, being more used now than ever. Three problems arise:

  • I want to say, "the term neo-Darwinismis widely used by scientists when referring to the current theory of evolution', but I cannot find a secondary source that says this in so many words. I think this is largely because acedemic books and journals have no need to say such a thing, why would they? They just contain writings that refer to current theory. Other encyclopedic articles seem confused and conflicting, probably because they too cannot find an actual statement of what neo-Darwinism is. But I can find article after article, by top scientists in which it is 'blindingly obvious' that the term is being used to refer to current theory. These are primary sources, not in the sense of what they say, but as evidence that they use the term. I am therefore told that no matter how many I cite, to conclude that 'the term is widely used by scientists' is OR. Is this fair. Is concluding that something is widely used OR. If you could not find an actual statement that "bakers often use yeast" (and you might not) then is it not reasonable to assert this on the readily verifiable evidence that bread contains yeast and bakers make bread? It seems to me that the test required here falls into the category of 'easily deduced by a reasonably intelligent person' and so it is not OR.
  • In trying to find an alternative to 'the term is often used by scientists' I have tried to say "Many scientists, such as Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, and Fred Hoyle use the term neo-Darwinism". I was challenged on the grounds that Fred Hoyle was a crank, and not an expert in the field, so he may have used it incorrectly. But Fred Hoyle was nevertheless a scientist of the highest order, FRS, and knighted for his work in science! I am not relying on him to use the term correctly anyway, I'm just saying he used it. Surely that's fine?
  • This problem explodes when I try to just say, "creationists often use the term". This is because many scientists, especially in the US, despise creationists and want no reference to them in science articles. Again I am told that creationists are irrelevant as they are not experts in the field, and yet a Google of the term neo-Darwinism brings up 25000 results, and yes, as far as I can tell, most of them are articles by creationists or are critical of the modern theory of evolution. To me it is clear that the fact that they are opposed to the modern theory of evolution does not mean they cannot refer to it (and they usually use the term correctly too) using the term neo-Darwinism, but other editors are united in rejecting any reference to the fact that these 'non-experts' use the term. So we have an article that only acknowledges historic use of a word that gets 25000 hits on Google, all clearly referring to the current theory of evolution (this is quite simply the correct, most widely used word for it). Any suggestions (or help at that page against stubborn editors please). --Lindosland 00:35, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
(1) "Widely used" is a bit subjective and hard to verify, but doesn't seem necessary anyway, when you can just say what it means. If someone wants to claim the term is no longer used in academic discourse, I'd say the burden of verifiability is on them. In this case, and show dozens of uses in journals and books since 2000. I'd try to avoid subjective, non-verifiable claims in the first place; say "Neo-darwinism means...," or "was introduced in 18xx to mean..." and then list other factually verifiable alternative definitions if there are any.
(2) Verifiable doesn't mean worth including. Cataloging who uses the term, absent any other context, may be easily verifiable, but unimportant. If someone notable uses it in a novel way, or is carrying on the historical movement in a contemporary context, or wrote a book on the subject, maybe that's noteworthy, but just that they used the term probably isn't. Whatever the case, saying Hoyle used the term isn't a question of verifiability.
(3) A statement as generalizing as "creationists often use the term..." would be difficult to state as a verifiable fact, and perhaps should be avoided. If it has a colloquial vs. scientific definition that can be verified, it could be stated without generalizing who uses it in the colloquial sense. If you can quote a leading theologian writing "Neodarwinism means blah blah blah" in a way that contradicts other usages, that's verifiable. It may or may not be noteworthy, but it is verifiable. -Agyle 03:53, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

I agree with all that you say, and only got into this trap of 'useage' because any attempt to say 'neo-Darwinism is the modern theory of evolution ....', which is what I sincerely believe it to be, has met with immediate opposition. The reasoning used against me goes like this:

  • A talk-origins site says that the term was used by Romanes to refer to a historical theory.
  • Another secondary source said, in the past that use of the term to refer to the modern evolutionary synthesis was probably wrong.
  • Most people who use the term today are creationists or opponents of modern evolutionary theory. They cannot know anything.

I say that the first point is just a separate fact and in no way disproves modern use. The second point similarly, although things get a bit confused since some people use the term modern synthesis to mean an ongoing synthesis that began with the historical synthesis of the 1940's. By a false deduction from this some editors therefore say that neo-Darwinism is not the modern theory. The third point seems irrelevant to me, since creationists use the term to mean exactly what I believe it means, ie the modern theory. They do not have their own useage in any way, but once you declare the term to be historical you can say they are all stupid and are using it wrongly! Other editors say that since most users are creationists and creationists are not experts in evolutionary theory, they cannot know what it means and so they are no proof of modern use! I am left only with the possibility of demonstrating by reference to Dawkins, Gould and as many other scientists and experts as I can find, but this is OR I am told. This really is a case of how do you say what is blindingly obvious when it is so blindingly obvious that nobody bothers to say it in a secondary source? Perhaps you would like to have a go at neo-Darwinism. The page was created a few years ago and quickly turned into a redirect to modern synthesis. But the modern synthesis was a historical landmark, and though some regard it as ongoing many do not, so the better term for the modern theory is neo-Darwinism, as good scientists realise. The editors of all these pages are intent on relegating the page deo-Darwinism to history and stopping it developing to reflect what I am saying, apparently because to scientists in the USA (but not the UK where I am) neo-Darwinism is simply a dirty word by association with creationist useage! I guess this is just a huge problem that wikipedia is hitting on many controversial topics, political correctness is another page where the same battle has occurred, with exactly the same reasoning used to silence any suggestion of what it really is (a political movement). In that case, all sources that use the term correctly are labelled 'crackpot conspiracy theorists' and rejected as citations. The problem appears impossible to solve without the possibility of some means of verifiability by reference to primary sources as proof of useage.

I note your comment that if editors want to object to my claim the burden of proof is on them. Most editors, in my experience, including many admins will not work this way when the going get tough. They accept only a 'cut and paste' exercise of putting together sentences from secondary sources. I saw a quote of Jimbo Wales somewhere to the effect 'just ruthelessly remove uncited material'. I think this approach is dragging Wikipedia down. --Lindosland 15:46, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

What part of ""Verifiable" in this context means that any reader should be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source. Editors should provide a reliable source for quotations and for any material that is challenged or is likely to be challenged, or it may be removed." means that the burden of proof is on editors removing unsourced material? This appears to be a naming issue, as much as anything, and is more appropriately discussed at Talk:Neo-Darwinism. .. dave souza, talk 16:36, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
I agree, this is veering off from issues of verifiability. Lindosland, note that my own "burden of proof" comment referred to someone adding a claim. I.e. if an article includes an accepted, verifiable, and well-cited meaning for a term, I think someone who wants to add "but it's no longer commonly used in that sense," should generally make sure the added claim is also verifiable. Just my opinion though. -Agyle 16:56, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, Lindosland appears to be seeking validation for making Neo-Darwinism a pov-fork of Modern evolutionary synthesis, and while it's still being considered for deletion, there's a case for making it a historical explanation of the various meanings of this term which is still occasionally used. .. dave souza, talk 17:20, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

This is simply not true, though it has been argued against me for some time now. The citations offered to me all define 'modern synthesis', or mention a historical use, but contain nothing to challenge a view that there is now a modern meaning in widespread use. Why do I remain so convinced of this modern meaning. Quite simply , because if neo-Darwinism were indeed a historical term to be described on the history page, then most modern experts like Dawkins and Gould and many others would appear to be talking a very strange gibberish about something long past in all their recent punlications and lectures. It's 'blindingly obvious' but I cannot, unfortunately, find a secondary source to state simply what the primary sources demonstrate infallibly. One thing though: as a result of all my efforts, the request for deletion failed, and there was much ageement to improve not merge. --Lindosland 23:19, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

Discussion at Wikipedia talk:Lead section

There is a discussion going on at Wikipedia talk:Lead section about how WP:V applies to lead sections. One editor has said there that the isue is somethign for WP:V to decide, but I cannot see any sign of discussion on this matter here. I think the discussion needs to be noted here, at least to to assert either that the final decision can be made there or confirm that the decision should be made here and the discussion moved here.

In summary, the different POVs are:

  1. Everything in the lead should have inline referencing there and then, in just the same way as if it were in the body of the article.
  2. The lead is a summary of the article and should contain nothing that is not mentioned in the rest of the article. It is also an introduction to the subject and should be kept neat and simple for the readership. Therefore discusison in the body of the article with appropriate citations should be used to confirm everything than needs referencing in the lead and the lead should be kept clear of citations.
  3. Editors should be free to cite in the lead or in the body of the article whichever they consider appropriate as long as everything in the lead is justified somewhere in the article with the use of appropriate citations. No one should be forced to add or remove citations in the lead provided this condition is met. --Peter cohen 18:26, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
  • The policy indicates that sources must be provided for articles. However, it does not indicate where those references may be located; some users indicate that they should be located in the lede, just like with any other article, and other users believe they should be placed in the body of the text, where the greater density of details is found, with some exceptions such as BLP issues and very controversial statements. It really boils down to style and the way an editor creates a lede: does she type it as an introduction, or as a summary? In either case, as long as the material is cited somewhere, I say it's fine. Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 18:32, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Given that inline citations aren't actually required in any case, the idea that they be required in the lead seems a little... strange. SamBC(talk) 18:43, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
    • I have no opinion on the matter raised by Titoxd, but inline citations actually are required for quotations and material that is challenged or likely to be challenged. Black Falcon (Talk) 18:47, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
      • Actually, WP:V just says that they have to be attributed. The method of attribution isn't stipulated, and there's more than one way to skin a cat. SamBC(talk) 19:04, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
        • Quoted from WP:V: "All quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged should be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation." A citation is of little use if it's not possible to know which sentences it supports. (By the way, I take "inline citation" to also include citations given in the Harvard reference format, not just footnotes). – Black Falcon (Talk) 19:10, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
          • And I refer you to the footnote immediately following that, from which I quote, "alternative conventions exist, and are acceptable when they provide clear and precise attribution&hellip", but this is getting rather tangential now, I think. SamBC(talk) 19:16, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
    • I don't think the issue is them being required in the lede more than they are required (or not) in the rest of the article. Apparently some people want to ban them from the lede entirely. I don't think that has much chance of passing, but that's what I think is being proposed. — Carl (CBM · talk) 18:49, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
      • Not really. What has happened previously is that an entire section of an article is properly referenced, and then summarized into the lede. Since the source material is already there, and no controversial conclusions are made, it is all right to not reference the sometimes dozens of sources used in the section within the lede. However, other editors complain that that is a breach of WP:V, which is not exactly precise. Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 18:54, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
        • That's a more subtle issue. It raises no problems with WP:V, since if there is a citation later then obviously the material is verifiable and that's all that WP:V requires. On the other hand, it might be an issue with FA reviewers, because their standards are idiosyncratic and go beyond may differ from what WP:V requires. — Carl (CBM · talk) 18:57, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
          • Hopefully I don't overgeneralize, but FAC reviewers are usually the ones incensed the most by unnecessary citations in the lede, claiming it makes it unreadable. Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 18:58, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
            • I changed my statement. — Carl (CBM · talk) 19:01, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
              • Omigod. There is no requirement on the guideline. No requirement. No requirement. Sorry for losing my mind. Because it's a guideline it can't be a requirement. Had to make the clear. It simply asks people to follow policy. I can't believe how much K has been wasted. Marskell 19:04, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
          • Titoxd, as long as the attribution is made somewhere, then whether or not it's in the lead doesn't matter. No policy violation is occuring if there are citations in the lead, nor is there a violation if there aren't (provided the information is attributed elsewhere in the same article). SamBC(talk) 19:07, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
            • That's what I'm saying. Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 19:09, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
              • It will be K well spent, if the end result is more attractive, less fussy leads and less nitpicking reviews. To address Carl's point above, I haven't seen anyone proposing that citations are banned from the lead. The issue is editors being forced to add them to the lead, for statements already fully sourced elsewhere in the body of the article. --Malleus Fatuarum 19:12, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
            • Agreed. The necessity or desirability of inline citations in the lead paragraph of an article is something best determined on a case-by-case basis. Black Falcon (Talk) 19:13, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
              • I agree with that. That's been half the point: some leads are going to need them, some few or none. Marskell 19:15, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
              • You are being disingenuous. The point is that the present guideline WP:LEAD states that "The lead must conform to verifiability and other policies. In particular, material likely to be challenged and quotations should be cited in the lead."--Malleus Fatuarum 19:20, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
                • (EC) I still don't see what the big deal is. Quotations should always be attributed, but lead paragraphs generally don't need to include quotations. As for material that is likely to be challenged ... what's wrong with citing it in the lead? Yes, it may be a little redundant, but at least it guarantees that readers won't have to read through 30-50 KB of text just to find the citation they are looking for. In any case, WP:LEAD is a guideline which can, when it is deemed appropriate, have exceptions. Black Falcon (Talk) 19:38, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

(outdent) Well, fast and furious. Titoxd and I just made quick edits. I added "Editors should balance the desire to avoid redundant citations in the lead with the need to aid readers in locating sources for challengeable material." I think this strikes the right note. It allows people to say:

  • "Look, that is redundant and we aim to reduce redundancy;" but also
  • "Look, that really is a startling claim and I'd like a source at first mention." Marskell 19:33, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
  • As it happens, I'd perhaps agree with "startling" claims being sourced in the lead, and there's an obvious issue with quotations and BLPs. My beef isn't with any of those, it's with the statement that all claims likely to be challenged should be cited in the lead. --Malleus Fatuarum 19:44, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
Why codify this... If an article contains a potentially contentious statement, it makes sense to place the citation at the first occurance of this statement... even if it is in the lead. That said, I really don't see the need to have this codified one way or the other. Ultimately, it really depends on the article, the statements that are being made, and editorial judgement. Blueboar 19:45, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
Why? Because reviewers don't always understand the subtle nuances between guidelines and policies. I'd perhaps agree with "startling" claims being sourced in the lead, and there's an obvious issue with quotations and BLPs. My beef isn't with any of those, it's with the statement that all claims likely to be challenged should be cited in the lead. Why should they be cited in the lead as opposed to elsewhere in the article? --Malleus Fatuarum 19:48, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
Could this be a solution?:
"The lead must conform to verifiability and other policies. The verifiability policy advises that material likely to be challenged and quotations should be cited. Because the lead may repeat information in the lead and body, editors should balance the desire to avoid redundant citations with the need to aid readers in locating sources for challengeable material."
Note this no longer says " the lead". It gives the V advisement and then suggests striking a balance in the lead. Marskell 20:02, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
That form of wording would certainly go a long way towards satisfying my objection to the current guidelines, and I could sign up to that :) --Malleus Fatuarum 20:10, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
Well then, praise God! Marskell 20:22, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm also happy with that. Applying common sense on where to cite is where I stand rather than a rigid rule stating in the lead or not in the lead.--Peter cohen 20:24, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
Let's just hope it can get agreement at the guideline's talk page too... not that this level of agreement really represents full consensus here, but if people who disagreed before can agree with this, that bodes well. By the way, I also approve. SamBC(talk) 20:30, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
I had been involved a while ago in a previous iteration of this dispute, but the text currently on the guideline is excellent. I agree as well. Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 20:32, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
Boy, I go offline for a bit and you guys effectively knock down the Berlin Wall, stop Athlete's Foot and finally kill Disco. No fair!
Seriously, very nice work over at the guideline page; we were rather spinning our wheels trying to get something done. I've added a small tweak, (and I specifically left out the part about the verious corporal punishments for editors who unnecessarily put cites in the Lead; I was actually quite pleased with 'having to carry a purse at a sporting event'-guys or 'having to use the mens' restroom at aforementioned sporting event-gals. Such is compromise...) and I think it addressed a hint of a preference issue. - Arcayne (cast a spell) 21:56, 27 September 2007 (UTC)