David Goodman wrote:
The question isn't whether the material is
verifiable. The question is
whether we want to include articles on all village churches, some of
them, or none of them. The current answer is we include all of them
that are on official historical monument lists--which makes sense--
and also those that happen to have 2 findable references with
substantial coverage from third party independent published reliable
sources--which is not necessarily based on anything fundamental, but
does offer a rough screen. The screen will use its usefulness when
Google Books Search gets all of published local history on record.
I mention that information from churches and schools and similar
institutions about their earlier history is not always reliable: they
tend to claim a long connection with prior institutions that may or
may not be correct, and a connection with notable bodies or
organizations that may or may not have been real.
However, my problem with our "multiple third party sources" algorithm
goes further. It distorts content very badly. Not only does it prejudice
the pre-1995 subjects, as has often been said. It tends mean that the
thresholds for the inclusion of "human interest," and "are passing
newsworthy" subjects are a good deal lower than on places, buildings,
and more "solid" subjects. Because news media feature more on living
persons than they do on other subjects. Sure, an 18th century church
might get a feature in some local paper on a significant anniversary (if
it has had an anniversary since 1995!) - but that local paper is far
more likely to write about Joe, who did something kinky with a kid, or
who founded his own business. And the story on Joe is far more likely to
be picked up by other media - giving you your multiple sources. And even
if Joe's business went bust just after 1997, in 50 year's time, he'll
still have "multiple third party sources" whilst St. Anne's Church (est
1791) may still be waiting for its anniversary write-up.
And when you stop and think about it, which articles are the one's that
give us the maintenance headache? If we allow St. Anne's, we are far
more likely to have content that will remain NPOV and verifiable, whilst
Joe's article will be subject to his disgruntled attacking him. And,
as much as "potential for harm" is disliked as a criterion, we know
where the problems lie.
We'd do much better, if we didn't apply the same metric of "multiple
third party sources" to all subjects. If we really were serious about
maintainability, posterity, and systemic bias, we'd demand much much
higher standards for the post-1995, popular culture and the BLP, and
we'd drop to bare verifiability for other subjects.
Now, don't get me wrong. I am not suggesting we relax verifiability. But
asking "is it reasonable to rely on this source for this information?"
should be the metric. A church website, if it is obviously aimed at PR
and full of blurb, should have claims of membership and influence taken
with a pinch of salt. However, a page on a small church which narrates
that it was built in 1791, built of sandstone, and has a clock tower of
gothic style dating from 1806 built by village subscription to celebrate
Trafalgar, and that six generations of the family of the Lord of Boggle,
is hardly likely to be lying. And if the same information can be
verified for the website of the county historical society, then common
sense says we have enough.
Can there be some common sense between inclusionism and deletionism?