I believe we would easily agree that an ID card presented by someone is by
default and in general immensely more reliable than any newspaper or random
biographer or historian stating whatever without mentioning what their
source is. That's why I don't see the point of asking for secondary sources
when the ID is available (either publicly or by OTRS).
As for public vs. private, easy example: Our local archives provide access
to all existing/known birth certificates in my region (or christening
certificates, when those are not available) from 1538 till 1940s:
. Why would anyone prefer some so
called "secondary source" over them? Unless some very good case is made
that the official document is falsified, which would rather be the very odd
OTRS can be used to verify and certify any kind of private information, not
only identity of people. In Wikipedia we generally and usually send people
to OTRS when they want to prove such kind of thing as their birthdate,
without having to expose publicly their IDs. As far as I know, that's how
My understanding is that the question with primary sources in Wikipedia
emanates from the confusion with primary "autobiographic" sources, which
are often considered the ones with worst quality, and the historical
primary sources (meaning the first original document that everybody quotes
afterwards), which are generally the best and more reliable (except in the
cases where some debate has been made about the reliability of some
specific primary source, in which cases one can simply add the debate to
the primary source information). My understanding and experience is that in
historical terms, the quality of a source generally degrades with the
number of times it is quoted and recycled, so that secondary sources would
be generally worst, and tertiary sources, as paper encyclopedias and
newspapers, would generally be the worst possible ones.
I know this "primary source" stuff still is an ongoing debate in some
corners of the Wikipedias, but, frankly, I've never seen anything that
would question the point that an historical primary source is in general,
and in the absence of any reliable study countering it, the best possible
one we can quote.
Alexandre Hocquet <alexandre.hocquet(a)univ-lorraine.fr> escreveu no dia
sábado, 16/02/2019 à(s) 14:32:
On 16/02/2019 12:18, Paulo Santos Perneta wrote:
"/what Wikipedia actually requires: not
primary sources like birth
certificates, but secondary ones
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2NVH21MEe0> – publicly available
sources in which her birthdate is mentioned./" -> This is not exactly
true. That would be the kind of document that could be required by
someone in OTRS in order to certify her birth date. And birth
certificates are issued by official third party, reliable sources, so I
don't see how can they be considered a "primary source". Unless you are
talking about primary sources in History, but in that case those would
often be the best possible sources one can use in a Wikipedia article.
What constitutes a reliable source is a never-ending debate for
wikipedians and historians alike. I tried to make that point in the
Philip Roth anecdote
(you can find it here, it's in French, but I have added approximate
English subtitles : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2NVH21MEe0
Is the open letter by Roth in the New Yorker a secondary source ? a
reliable one ? And is the facebook post of Bliss Broyard a reliable
source ? Is it becoming one when it is transcripted in the Salon
magazine ? This is a very tricky point and the raging debates about it
at the time show just that.
You can consider an "oficial" birthdate certificate a reliable source. I
find it questionnable though, as many football players have several
birthdates for example. (And to assure this point is not a
post-colonialist one, It has been recently revealed that French police
were deliberately falsificating immigrants papers to expel them).
But it is certainly not a secondary one. It is not published, so it's
useless to being cited in Wikipedia, and even if some sort of public
archive of birth certificates would exist, they would still be primary.
The process of their production would have not be analysed by a "third
party" as you name it.
Finaly, when OTRS require such papers, is not it to prove the identity
of someone complaining in order to receive their claim, more than a
piece of evidence to be inserted in an article ? If you have a
counter-example, I'd be interested to check.
Université de Lorraine & Archives Henri Poincaré