[WikiEN-l] Age fabrication and original research

Ken Arromdee arromdee at rahul.net
Thu Oct 1 17:27:57 UTC 2009

On Thu, 1 Oct 2009, FT2 wrote:
> To add to this, note that "primary sources" are stated to include
> "...archeological artifacts; photographs.."
> NOR, a core policy in this area, doesn't say that the "writings about an
> artifact" are the source. It says clearly that artifacts themselves are
> categorized as primary sources.
> The only way an "artifact" or photograph could ever be a "source" is that by
> its very existence, it has a number of obvious descriptive qualities and the
> like that any reasonable person witnessing it would agree upon, and that
> anyone with access to the artifact could verify.

This is logical, but only proves that our rules contradict ourselves every
which way.

If you read NOR and RS, the general impression is that a source is written
or otherwise published material about something.  Those words you quoted are
pretty much the only references to a source being an object, rather than
what someone writes about the object.  It's a matter of emphasis--everything
else pretty much implies (regardless of whether it says so outright) that
this kind of source isn't good.  This is, in fact, one of the problems with
a lot of Wikipedia rules: we so strongly emphasize a rule that nobody will
believe in any exceptions, even if we didn't literally say the rule needed
to be followed 100% of the time.

Also, there are phrases which seem to directly contradict it.  For instance,
NOR contains this:

    Unsourced material obtained from a Wikipedian's personal experience,
    such as an unpublished eyewitness account, should not be added to
    articles. It would violate both this policy and Verifiability, and would
    cause Wikipedia to become a primary source for that material.

This implies that you *can't* use an object as a source, since it would be
your personal eyewitness account of the bridge or whatever.

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