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Wikipedia's 'Ban' of 'The Daily Mail' Didn't Really Happen (theoutline.com) 70

Earlier this year, The Guardian reported that editors at Wikipedia had "voted to ban the Daily Mail as a source for the website," calling the publication "generally unreliable." Two months later, not only previous Daily Mail citations on Wikipedia pages are still alive, several new ones have also appeared since. So what's going on? The Outline has the story: There are no rules on Wikipedia, just guidelines. Of Wikipedia's five "pillars," the fifth is that there are no firm rules. There is no formal hierarchy either, though the most dedicated volunteers can apply to become administrators with extra powers after being approved by existing admins. But even they don't say what goes on the site. If there's a dispute or a debate, editors post a "request for comment," asking whoever is interested to have their say. The various points are tallied up by an editor and co-signed by four more after a month, but it's not a vote as in a democracy. Instead, the aim is to reach consensus of opinion, and if that's not possible, to weigh the arguments and pick the side that's most compelling. There was no vote to ban the Daily Mail because Wikipedia editors don't vote. (emphasis ours.) So what happened? The article adds: In this case, an editor submitted a broader request for comment about its [the Daily Mail's] general reliability. Seventy-seven editors participated in the discussion and two thirds supported prohibiting the Daily Mail as a source, with one editor and four co-signing editors (more than usual) chosen among administrators declaring that a consensus, though further discussion continued on a separate noticeboard, alongside complaints that the debate should have been better advertised. Though it's discouraged, the Daily Mail can be (and still is) cited. An editor I met at a recent London "Wikimeet" said he'd used the Daily Mail as a source in the last week, as it was the only source available for the subject he was writing about.
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Wikipedia's 'Ban' of 'The Daily Mail' Didn't Really Happen

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  • An editor I met at a recent London "Wikimeet" said he'd used the Daily Mail as a source in the last week, as it was the only source available for the subject he was writing about.

    According to Wikipedia's notability guideline [wikipedia.org], if no reliable sources can be found about a subject, any article about it would fail Wikipedia's verifiability policy [wikipedia.org]. For this reason, the subject shouldn't have an article in the first place. That's what Wikipedia means by "non-notable": there is no way to make a verifiable article about the subject.

    • Why do you assume the "subject" mentioned in TFS was the subject of an entire article? It could also be the only source for a "subject" of a paragraph or even a sentence within an article that has multiple sources. There are other guidelines dealing with material within an article, but notability only applies if the "subject" is an entire article. (BTW -- what you just did there? Wikilawyering. That is one of the primary reasons people hate contributing to Wikipedia. And if you're one of the deletioni
      • There are other guidelines dealing with material within an article

        Very true. But each paragraph of an article also has to be verifiable. Otherwise, a paragraph supported solely by unreliable sources should be removed. This goes double if the subject is a living person. As Wikipedia:Verifiability puts it: "Any material that needs a source but does not have one may be removed. Please immediately remove contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced."

        • Very true. But each paragraph of an article also has to be verifiable.

          Yes, but your previous post was about the NOTABILITY guideline. Obviously if you declare X source is not "reliable," then a paragraph with only that source can be removed.

          But that has nothing to do with the notability guidelines. The entire point of your previous post was about how to pre-emptively ban an entire article through notability guidelines. As the summary notes, whether or not a particular source is "reliable" is often a judgment call. Even a "scholarly" souce can be unreliable if it's discu

          • by tepples ( 727027 )

            deletionism is contributing to the ruin of Wikipedia.

            Would using Wikipedia as a tool to promote hoaxes be superior to deletionism?

      • by Xest ( 935314 )

        "It could also be the only source for a "subject" of a paragraph or even a sentence within an article that has multiple sources."

        But that in itself can be deeply problematic, as one of the biggest problems with The Daily Mail is not that it outright fabricates stories (though it has done that too) but that it over-exagerates the impact of things, makes up numbers, and so on and so forth.

        So if the paragraph their quoting has no secondary source other than The Daily Mail, due to The Daily Mail's history there

      • by doom ( 14564 )

        Wikilawyering. That is one of the primary reasons people hate contributing to Wikipedia.

        Yup. Locked in a little room with madmen and shills, the "conflict resolution process" is a fancy name for "the runaround", and if you do get some sort of moderator intervention they do the most shallow reading of the situation possible, and display all the even-handed wisdom of an old irc-moderator defending territory...

        Oh, and you're supposed to pretend that you're treating everyone with respect, consequently you'

  • Daily Mail (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "Not a Reliable Source" as a consensus on the Daily Mail seems reasonable to me. However, Wikipedia policy doesn't say, "No citations to unreliable sources allowed anywhere" It's more "mark it as unreliable if you really need to use it".

    Neither The Guardian, nor The Outline really understand the Reliable Sources policies on Wikipedia. Also, finding one WP editor who did "X" doesn't mean "X" is following the consensus or not.

    Also, theoutline sucks down bandwidth with rather large (almost full page) ads in

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      However, Wikipedia policy doesn't say, "No citations to unreliable sources allowed anywhere" It's more "mark it as unreliable if you really need to use it".

      I think the expectation is that people use "this has sat in the article for a month without a reliable citation" as an excuse to remove a contentious claim from an article.

  • In other words, truth be damned. The truth is achieved by a vote in Wikipedia land.

    • How, then, should Wikipedia determine the truth? People tend disagree about things on occasion.
      • An angry virgin admin or prolific editor takes over a Wikipedia page and fervently reverts any edits he doesn't like, throws a hissy fit on the talk page, often citing ambiguous rules or guidelines that he doesn't apply to his own edits, then locks the page from editing due to "abuse".

        This happens all the fucking time any any page remotely related to anything political or controversial.

        • I'm no super-sleuth, but it sounds like someone is angry about having their political opinions removed from edits that they've made to Wikipedia pages.
          • Yup, you're no super sleuth. The last edit I made to Wikipedia involved an article about a famous bird. The edit was reverted by some assclown for some shit about "no original research" despite the fact that I was quoting an official source regarding that bird.

            That was about a decade ago, I guess.

            Wikipedia is shit.

            • You have to admit I was pretty close.

              Anyway, you could have cited your source, if you really had one, and that would've more than likely been the end of it. If you didn't have a source to cite, then obviously the policy has to be to strike that info, because anyone can just say "I'm quoting an official source!" without backing it up.

              In any case, while many Wikipedia pages are "shit", as you so eloquently explained, they are far outnumbered by the useful pages that have sources cited for most, if not all, of

              • No, you weren't correct. You specifically talked about political opinions. This was about a bird.
                I did cite my source.

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        By teaching the controversy. If one set of reliable sources says one thing, but another set of sources of comparable reliability says something else, the article can mention disagreement on facts. But editors must be assess "comparable reliability" carefully to avoid giving undue weight to fringe viewpoints [wikipedia.org].

      • Wikipedia arent interested in the truth, they are interested in verifiability - which is an altogether entirely different thing.

  • by Jiro ( 131519 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @12:43PM (#54270619)

    Wikipedia has things which by pretty much anyone else's definition are rules, but Wikipedia officially calls some of them "guidelines". Wikipedia does things which by pretty much everyone else's definition are votes, but Wikipedia doesn't officially call them votes because they are not followed 100% of the time (even though they are followed often enough that other people would call them votes).

    Claiming that the story is wrong because they weren't really rules or votes is just privileging Wikipedia-terminology over real-world terminology. It's like claiming that a story about small and large drinks at Starbucks is wrong because they're really Short and Grande drinks, not small and large at all.

    • by doom ( 14564 )

      The one I like is insiting that "writers" and "writing" has to be termed "editors" and "editing". I was trying to work on the "guidelines" once upon a time, and you're essentially forbidden from using phrases like "When you're writing a piece like this, you need to ask yourself--." No one ever writes anything at wikipedia, the words just magically appear to be hacked up by editors-that-aren't-really-editors.

      Another good one is "weasel words": the wikipedia meaning of that phrase was essentially made up

  • Wikipedia "banning" the Daily Mail was analogous to when Google announced they were going to pull h.264 support out of Chrome. A tale... full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  • I suppose this fact checking article is technically accurate for a very specific and narrow set of criteria... which aren't even well defined in TFA. (Technically right? That's the best kind of right!)

    It reminds me of these recent fact checks: http://imgur.com/a/tSs3o [imgur.com]

    "Pants on fire" - (Number is correct, but fails to mention the cause)
    "False" - (Transgender girls aren't boys)
    "Mostly False" - (The numbers are valid, the comparison is questionable)
  • I once read a book by Linda Hill that I personally found amazingly valuable, but only because I was careful not to light any matches, because her presentation was dry, dry, dry.

    Because of the Indian incompetence story here on Slashdot this morning, I went to paste a link into my files, and chanced upon a past entry concerning HCL Technologies, a topic that Linda Hill has addressed in video, and soon I found myself watching a clip of hers on YouTube I hadn't seen before.

    Linda Hill on empowering young sparks [youtube.com]

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