[Foundation-l] Ensuring veracity of articles based on print sources

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Fri Oct 6 09:23:51 UTC 2006

Andrew Gray wrote:

>On 03/10/06, James Hare <messedrocker at gmail.com> wrote:
>>For those books not mentioned in Google, we would of course do our best to
>>compile a list. Then once the list is made, knowing Google, it would only be
>>a matter of time that the list of old books would be listed on Google,
>>therefore making my testing mechanism work.
>It would be simpler just to toss the name into copac.ac.uk or
>catalog.loc.gov and see if it appears! But this still doesn't tell us
>anything beyond "I am claiming this book supports me".
Absolutely!   And that claim is only sometimes a hoax.  It can as easily 
be a good-faith misinterpretation of the information.

>It still doesn't get past the fact that I belive David when he says
>"This band does indeed appear on page seventeen of Australian Indie
>Rock Monthly, August 1979", but am slightly less inclined to believe
>the unknown chap claiming he's found something earthshattering in a
>1937 issue of a Russian underground newspaper...
It takes a long time to build trust, and there are still many long 
standing Wikipedians whose judgement I would question on some issues but 
I would trust on others.  I'm sure we all keep personal lists of that 
source.  The newbie who quotes the 1937 Russian newspaper in support of 
his point could very well be right.  It would a gross assumption of bad 
faith to reject his citation solely on the basis that he is a newbie.

>Fundamentally, use of an offline (or subscription, etc) source is a
>good and sensible thing, but it requires a modicum of trust that we're
>getting a reliable link between the page and the information quoted;
>we can't get around this by preparing lists of reliable and unreliable
>texts, we can only get around this by someone "trusted" saying yes,
>I've looked at that, it's there.
Everything should be checked and re-checked independently, but that's 
only an ideal.  We're already having difficulties getting software that 
gives us a stable version that has only been checked for common 
vandalism.  In time we should go much further than that, and allow 
statistically based algorithms that will give a measure of probably 
accuracy based on the review of multiple readers.


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