'As a Web 2.0 site or a blog becomes more popular, a growing percentage of its reader contributions devolve into vitriol, backstabbing and name-calling (not to mention Neanderthal spelling and grammar). Participants address each other as “idiot” and “moron” (and worse) the way correspondents of old might have used “sir” or “madam.”'
"One thing is clear, however: the uncivil participants are driving away the civil ones. The result is an acceleration of the cycle, and an increasing proportion of hostile remarks."
Thanks for everyone's replies. I'll make a few comments.
1. The legal database (more properly, collection of legal journals)
I was using when the question came up was HeinOnLine. In my
small city, it is available in one public library and two university
libraries. I'm sure the access is similar in other cities. Similar
resources like Lexis are also widely available in public libraries.
So I don't think availability is an issue.
2. Jay is quite correct to discourage weasel words like "probably".
For one thing, it prevents objective verification.
3. Sarah points out the following text from WP:NOR :
"anyone--without specialist knowledge--who reads the
primary source should be able to verify that the Wikipedia
passage agrees with the primary source. Any interpretation
of primary source material requires a secondary source."
That seems to be broken. Examples of specialist knowledge
which might be required are the ability to read a foreign
language and the ability to understand mathematical notation.
Someone who can read music should be able to report from
a musical score that it is in E-flat, even though that requires
specialist knowledge. What the policy *should* require
(somehow) is that anyone who can read music will agree that
the score is in E-flat. The fundamental skills of the field
should be assumed, and the policy should reflect that, imo.
4. Sarah wrote: "We use writers as sources, not databases and
libraries." Nobody suggested libraries. I don't see that
databases are excluded by any existing policy, provided that
the process of extraction of the information from the database
Suppose I have a book about a serial killer, which lists all the
victims one by one. I think it is perfectly ok to write "all the
victims were women" after looking up each case in the book.
It comes under "research that consists of collecting and
organizing information from existing primary and/or secondary
sources is, of course, strongly encouraged."(WP:NOR) I can't
see how that is different *in principle* from reporting that all
the articles on a particular subject in a particular database
give the same story about something, provided that that
observation is one that anyone can verify. Of course this
criterion might not always be satisfied, but that shouldn't
eliminate the cases where it is.
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