[WikiEN-l] Are phone books reliable sources?

Anthony DiPierro wikilegal at inbox.org
Wed May 31 12:58:19 UTC 2006

On 5/30/06, Ray Saintonge <saintonge at telus.net> wrote:
> You extrapolated the frequency of the name "Ng" in the Melbourne
> directory as an argument to prove the much broader hypothesis that phone
> books are not valid sources.

As he explained, that's not at all what he was doing.  He was giving
an example of when a phone book can be a valid source.  A very
insightful example, at that, and one which I conceded disproved my
suggestion that phone books were never valid sources.

> If among all those Ngs
> there is only one Egg Foo Ng it might still be useful there.

I don't see how.  Just because there is only Egg Foo Ng in the phone
book still doesn't mean that there is only one Egg Foo Ng in the area
served by that phone book.  I just don't see how such information can
be useful, especially considering how easy it is to put false
information into a phone book (in my experience there is generally no
verification of the names at all).

> And we
> haven't even mentioned the usefulness of the yellow pages in
> establishing the existence of a business over a time frame.
It's even easier to put false information into the yellow pages section.


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