[WikiEN-l] Removal of unsourced material

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Thu Jul 12 17:00:59 UTC 2007

Bryan Derksen wrote:

>Stephen Bain wrote:
>>The important part about citation is just identifying which parts of
>>the text use which sources, because that's something that can only be
>>done by the person who has written the text (or done all the same
>>research). The formatting can be fixed by others later.
>It may be easier for the original author in many cases, but it's
>certainly not impossible for other authors to come along later on and
>dig up references without re-doing all the same research. It can even be
>easier since one already knows what to look for. Grab a few words from
>the unsourced text, put them in Google, and in many cases you're 90% of
>the way there.
>There's also the article-writing style where one happens to be a
>personal expert in the field who knows the stuff backwards and forwards
>from personal education, and so is able to slap together a solid
>beginning of an article or section without having to do a bunch of
>reading. While the result is far from a "finished" article it can often
>be a very good _start_ to an article.
>All in all I think putting some sort of deadline on deleting material
>tagged with {{fact}} is a very bad idea. If for no other reason than I
>would never tag anything with {{fact}} again.
I've always been a believer in resisting simple people with simplistic 
solutions.  They are often living exemplars of the maxim. "With friends 
like these, who needs enemies?"  The kind of officious behaviour 
proposed keeps a lot of good editors away from anything constructive, 
because they need to be constantly monitoring and babysitting the 

The problems addressed will not normally be fixed by adding references 
and sources, and going away self-satisfied that all is now well with the 
world.  An article (even one that started with adequate references) may 
have drifted with successive rewrites and stylistic improvements to 
something quite different from what was originally said.  References 
that were previously there can end up quite innocently attached to a 
completely different statement. 

An article may have a paragraph about a particular military campaign 
during the month of October.  It starts from a fairly mainstream and 
easily found historical text and that is properly noted in the 
references.  Later someone adds the specific dates in October when 
certain elements of the campaign happened, but does not give sources for 
this additional information, but erroneously and unintentionally leaves 
the impression that these dates were in the general reference.  Nobody 
is seriously suggesting that the dates are actually wrong.

While there are strong reasons to support the principle that the 
originator of information is ultimately responsible for the information 
that he adds, this is not an excuse for others to deny responsibility.  
Before we can resort to the originator's responsibility as a fail-safe 
device a lot of efforts by other people should take place before that.


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