Splitting this off, Achal, I hope that's OK :)
There's a discussion on at the reliable sources notice board, for instance,
> which highlights some of the interpretive problems you raise:
Thanks for the pointer there; I'll try and place some comments in there
later. It is certainly an interesting discussion.
But here are some initial thoughts (please bear in mind I have only scanned
that discussion, and whilst I have had an ongoing interest in the oral
citations project I never dug into in too much depth). Also remember this
is based on my interpretation of our policies, so others may well differ!
> Can I ask you how you would analyse the work of the oral citations project
> in terms of our policies on original research, and verifiability?
The best way I can address this is to lay out my thoughts on our sourcing
Material on Wikipedia can be divided into "fact" and "opinion". The latter
of these is, perhaps confusingly, the simplest to address; because opinion,
viewpoints and perception can quite easily be collated and summarised. The
only real difficulty exists in figuring out which opinions are noteworthy
The problem is facts; as I am sure everyone can appreciate, facts are very
easy to get wrong (maliciously or not). This is especially a problem in
History where events can be pieced together via all manner of sources. Even
WW2 history can differ dramatically depending on the accounts you read -
some overuse oral citation (humans are fallible) and others misuse official
records (which can range from faked through to inaccurate).
The problem with primary sourcing of the oral form is that it comes
directly from an individual - with all of their perceptions and biases. To
make an extreme example out of this; imagine taking an oral citation from
Hitler, and a Jew in a concentration camp. Such citations would, I imagine,
give radically different viewpoints of the Holocaust. Obviously other
accounts, by third parties, show us which account is accurate - but if we
had only those two viewpoints I hope it is obvious how
difficult separating fact and fiction could be (ignoring that any rational
person would see the obvious).
So that brings us to the ideas behind sourcing; which is that we should
consider not only the material but author and publisher. This is important
because if the author of the source is partisan to the material then you
have to consider they may be biased to their viewpoint. As less extreme
example might be two citations from a Republican and a Democrat. Both say
"My Party is the Best because our policies are..." - you can't use either
source to say one party is better, because they are partisan. But you could
use it to relate their parties policies; and as partisans they are well
positioned to relate those policies!
If the author is a third party, of course, that lends weight to their
The publisher is the stumbling block in this case; because it is a
non-expert [sic] researcher uploading material to Commons. What could
mitigate this is a detailed description of the methodology used to collect
the citations, which would allow editors to review it for problems.
One final thing to consider is that WP:V talks about controversial or
challenged material. Whilst that might be a risk policy on the face (it
would be easy to present something non-controversial but also not true as
fact) it's critical to letting us actually write article (otherwise we
would be stifled in citations :)). For example; I've sourced material to
personal sites before with minimal problems - sometimes it is questioned
and what I usually say is "If you can show someone saying the opposite, or
make a sensible argument against, then lets remove it". (FWIW, and this is
an aside, I think is relaxed form to building articles is a Good Thing, and
we should do it more often - worrying about being wrong is stifling).
So now I've picked it apart here is my thinking; Oral citations on Commons
could be excellent sources in the right context.
Sure if the material is disputed or otherwise problematic then it is better
to look for a source that has peer review. But for simplistic, factual
things then I think it is rock solid. One example that comes to mind (and I
don't know if the Oral citations covers this sort of thing) is this: I was
recently on holiday in New Zealand. They have excellent museums there,
fanatically maintained (which is amazing compared to most countries...).
One nice feature is that a lot of the Mauri history exhibits have audio
from those of Mauri ancestory describing some cultural fact or other.
Things like recipes.
Something like that is an excellent oral citation; the author is
authoritative (being Mauri) and the content uncontroversial.
Boiled down, I think that oral citations have a distinct place as a source
- and we should encourage people to consider them as sources when writing.
But they are not something you could, for example, base an entire article
around. We should also explore ways to make them more "reliable", and more
usable. For example making them obviously available to experts in the field
It *is* important to get secondary coverage of a topic, because we are
tertiary source. This is the core idea of our primary source policy; if we
utilise primary material and research something to the extent that we are
the main authoritative source that becomes *hugely* problematic!
And further, how these policies might apply to the idea of social media, as
> well as more private archives, say, corporate archives, being used as
> citations? (And on that point, is there a difference between the the Native
> American folk archive at the Smithsonian and the corporate archives of the
> Michelin corporation in France, for our purposes?)
Corporate archives I would deal with in the same way as any primary source;
use it to cite facts, bear in mind the author/publisher. WP:SPS talks about
being wary of unduly self-serving material, and I think that is an
excellent way of putting the approach to corporate archives.
In terms of social media, this is tricky. Because social media is vastly
more accessible than other mediums - particularly to hacks. Wordpress blogs
are trivial to make, for example, and you can sound authoritative or
convincing on a subject to a layman with only medium effort. I'd treat
these with more caution.
Phew, that was dumped out in a stream of conciousness way - so it might be
a bit "buggy". But that's what I figure :)
(Just as a note; I consider "publisher" quite broadly - i.e. the person who
hosts or maintains the material)
This is interesting. Upon my daily sift through Google News for agencies
that might post Wikinews articles, I came across this (A video from
WikiNews...no not Wikinews):http://vimeo.com/35988111 It was posted on
another site a week ago:http://www.vhx.tv/644528 I don't know who made the video.
All I know is this poses a potential threat to our project. I don't know enough
about copyright laws in regards to the use of Wikipedia's project names
or the use of logos. Regardless, this is not good and quite frankly
kinda scared me a little. So I am sending this message through Foundation-1 in hopes that someone might be able to explain this. Wikinews Water Cooler discussion
Jason Safoutin - Accredited Reporter.
"Speech is free, if you pretend it's free."
Recently on foundation-l, in the Oral Citations thread has been the
beginning of a conversation that is far too important to be relegated to a
few back-and-forth responses.
Manish and I have submitted for a community fellowship to formalise the
discussion around an expanded role of alternate citation techniques, and
to try and tease out any consensus that may exist. The project's name is
"InCite" in trying to reflect it's value-neutral position. If you'd like to
see a serious and constructive approach to solving this sensitive and
controversial problem then please endorse it's acceptance on meta visiting
the link .
Tomorrow will be anti-ACTA protest in Belgrade and Wikimedia Serbia
, along with the guests of GLAM conference  from France, India,
Hungary, Italy, Czech Republic and Macedonia will be there.
There is also discussion on Serbian Village pump about blackout of
Serbian Wikipedia on one of the next days . Up to the present,
there is 100% support for that.
Although I don't think that it would be necessary, there is the idea
to block access to English Wikipedia to users from Serbia if the
blackout of Serbian Wikipedia doesn't help. That means that we should
have support from WMF to do that.
P.S. Thanks to Adrienne Alix, who poked us to do that :)
I think you have inadvertently hit upon something essential.
Content has some relative value. Someone has always had to put energy
into creating content. More importantly for our current discussion,
someone has always had to make a decision to invest in the REPRODUCTION
of content. Printing (on paper) is historically an expensive process.
Publishers could not afford to waste time, materials & equipment on
content of questionable value. So submitted content was always subjected
to some sort of review process to weed out the trivial content. Someone
made a value judgement. Historically that person(s) had a vested
interest in the subject of that content. Whether peer reviewed or
evaluated by a subject matter expert - printed matter has always had
some sort of editorial process.
That isn't to say we should necessarily trust the motives of that
editorial process. Propaganda is by its very nature NOT objective. But
there is a big difference between an article written for a local
entertainment or business daily and an advertisement in that
publication. For example: a theatrical publication pays for an
advertisement (where they get to say what they will) - but a
'''review''' by that same publication is the result of editorial control
and is trusted as far more objective by the reader.
Another example - the Reader's Digest - a publication trusted by
millions, has now become the advertising platform of choice for the
pharmaceutical industry. Every issue has multipage ads for expensive new
drugs. The layouts of these ads make them LOOK authoritative - as though
the staff of RD advocated their use. So the weight of RD remains about
the same, though actual content of value is less, and the subscriber
pays for the increased bulk mail costs.
So - by a roundabout we come to the meat of the content issue.
The reason we tend to trust printed material in general is because it is
perceived to have been through some editorial value judgement.
Most of the editing that is done in any publication process has noting
to do with the value of the content - it is ERROR CORRECTION. Only a
subject matter expert is qualified to do editing that is a VALUE JEDGEMENT.
For Wikipedia to combine the two functions in an "editor" is not
productive. We need a *two tiered* editorial process at work to become
more efficient. If there are not enough subject matter experts - more
need to be recruited. /Otherwise the trust level of the publication will
suffer./ Presumably the various portals are organized enough that they
can serve as a funnel for value judgements - but the general editorial
volunteers have to learn to refer the value judgements to the
specialists in these portals and confine themselves to error correction.
This also means that we can then attract more subject matter specialists
as they do not have to deal with the error correction task and their
decisions will have more prestiege. (It should be a BIG plus for a
professor to be able to say that (s)he has been a subject matter expert
editor on the xxx portal of Wikipedia for yyy years on their CV)
On 2/22/2012 5:08 AM, foundation-l-request(a)lists.wikimedia.org wrote:
> Well actually, we use newspaper sources very frequently, as well as
> non-scholarly (and therefore non-peer-reviewed) books, so in fact, we
> rely on*printing* (or to put it more kindly, publishing) as a signal
> for peer-review, not peer-review itself. In my opinion, this is a poor
Fred Bauder writes:
> I think it probably seems to climate change deniers that excluding
> political opinions from science-based articles on global warming is a
> violation of neutral point of view, and of basic fairness. That is just
> one example, but there are other similar situations.
This analogy is breathtakingly unpersuasive. Apart from the fact that
consensus about scientific theory is not analogous to consensus about
the historical records of particular events, climate-change-denial
theory is actually discussed quite thoroughly on Wikipedia. Plus, the
author of the op-ed in The Chronicle of Higher Education doesn't seem
at all like climate-change deniers.
If there is something specific you want to suggest about the author --
that he's agenda-driven, that his work is unreliable, or that the
journal in which he published the article is not a reliable source --
then I think equity requires that you declare why you doubt or dismiss
I read the article in the Chronicle pretty carefully. The author's
experience struck me as an example of a pattern that may account for
the flattening of the growth curve in new editors as well as for some
other phenomena. As you may rememember, Andrew Lih conducted a
presentation on "the policy thicket" at Wikimania almost five years
ago. The wielding of policy by long-term editors, plus the rewriting
of the policy so that it is used to undercut NPOV rather than preserve
it, strikes me as worth talking about. Dismissing it out of hand, or
analogizing it to climate-change denial, undercuts my trust in the
Wikipedian process rather than reinforces it.
Apologies if your receiving this more than once, I thought its important
to forward this to other lists as well, since editing by PR firms has
been discussed quite a bit recently.
To: wikimediaindia-l(a)lists.wikimedia.org; wikimedia-in-mum(a)lists.wikimedia.org
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2012 07:02:59 +0000
Subject: Re: [Wikimediaindia-l] [Wikimedia-in-mum] Report on Mumbai Workshop 2
Slightly late in the day, but I thought it would be good to share this with everyone. A few days after we had the Workshop @ Text100, they blogged about it here: http://text100.com/hypertext/2012/01/wikipedia-for-pr/
To: wikimediaindia-l(a)lists.wikimedia.org; wikimedia-in-mum(a)lists.wikimedia.org
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 2012 04:38:22 +0000
Subject: [Wikimedia-in-mum] Report on Mumbai Workshop 2
Moksh and I went to the Text100
office at Nariman Point on 6 January 2012. Aprox 25 people attended the
Workshop in person which was webcast live to Text100 offices in Delhi
and Bangalore. Through the 1 hour Workshop we covered the below and
answered several questions raised by attendees.
We covered the following:
1. Wikipedia Philosophy/5 Pillars (and that we do not have editorial control, that admins are nothing but editors with additional responsibilities. On what is done when there is an issue we explained the process upto Arbcom and that Jimbo has a veto which he has never used so far and has stated that he doesnt think he will).
2. Licensing (Explained Wikipedia is free licensed under CC-BY-SA)
3. What Wikipedia is NOT
5. Be Bold and edit anything that is incorrect
7. Tutorial (Editing/Citations etc)
9. CoI (Bell Pottinger affair)
also gave a live editing example and we showed them how to sign on a
page with 4 tides (the attendees had actually typed their names on the Wiki page for
One of the participants mentioned official company photos
on Wikipedia articles. Explained that such photos on have been donated
to Commons and suggested that Text100 could also donate their photo
archives to Commons, which would be useful for several articles. They
sounded positive on this aspect - will be following up with them on this.
Wikimedia-in-mum mailing list
Greetings from Wikimedia India !!!
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