[WikiEN-l] Age fabrication and original research

Gregory Maxwell gmaxwell at gmail.com
Sat Oct 3 20:00:33 UTC 2009

On Sat, Oct 3, 2009 at 12:00 PM, Ken Arromdee <arromdee at rahul.net> wrote:
> On Fri, 2 Oct 2009, Gregory Maxwell wrote:
>>No it's not. If the you've understood a rule as some formality that
>>you must comply with when it clearly does not help you've
>>misunderstood something.
> That's how rules actually work in Wikipedia.  Ignoring a rule--especially a
> rule about sourcing--is going to get you pounced upon by rule mongers.  And
> in a dispute, the rule mongers are always right.  It doesn't matter if the
> rule actually does any good.
> You're talking about an ideal Wikipedia and I'm talking about the one we're
> stuck with.

Funny— It's worked for me many many times. I think you're
overemphasizing the corner cases where it fails.  It's only natural,
999 out of 1000 times something works fine, people are going to
remember the one time where it blew up in their face.  Most edits
don't provide source data, most aren't reverted... Doesn't mean that
the system doesn't need to be improved, but it's not helpful to
characterize it as always failing to do the right thing.

(or perhaps you should try editing in a less contentious area, or stop
pushing a fringe viewpoint…  if either of those things apply to you,
your experience would be understandably different from average)

>>A decent secondary source, written by people familiar
>>with the limitations of the primary material and with consideration of
>>the available data and scholarship, is that sanity checking.
> In that case, it's not a (decent) secondary source at all, and the initial
> idea--that there are no secondary sources--was correct.
> The idea that a newspaper article that quotes the date from the primary
> source is going to do any more sanity checking than you would...  isn't true.
> In this context, the secondary source is "I found a reference to a newspaper
> article which quotes the date".  It's not going to discuss the conflict the
> way you describe--it's just more acceptable because it better fits the rule.

So I went to some effort in a previous message to slam newsmedia as a
secondary source.  It usually isn't in any meningful way.  But the
problem there is the misguided belief that it is, not the preference
for secondary sources.

I don't know how it is outside of the US, but primary education in the
US places news media (and encyclopaedias!) as high quality sources of
digested information. When I first got access to a university library
(along with journals, and specialist reference works) it was a
incredibly eye opening experience for me. I expect that as more
references works become accessible online along with open access
journals people will recognize that newspapers are not usually good
secondary sources and the norms on Wikipedia will change... but that
will take time.

More information about the WikiEN-l mailing list