Wikipedia talk:Verifiability

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Where should I ask whether this source supports this statement in an article?
At Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard. Don't forget to tell the editors the full name of the source and the exact sentence it is supposed to support.
Do sources have to be free, online and/or conveniently available to me?
No. Sources can be expensive, print-only, or available only in certain places. A source does not stop being reliable simply because you personally aren't able to obtain a copy. See Wikipedia:Reliable sources/cost. If you need help verifying that a source supports the material in the article, ask for help at Wikipedia:WikiProject Resource Exchange or a relevant WikiProject.
Do sources have to be in English?
No. Sources can be written in any language. However, if equally good sources in English exist, they will be more useful to our readers. If you need help verifying that a non-English source supports the material in the article, ask for help at Wikipedia:Translators available.
I personally know that this information is true. Isn't that good enough to include it?
No. Wikipedia includes only what is verifiable, not what someone believes is true. It must be possible to provide a bibliographic citation to a published reliable source that says this. Your personal knowledge or belief is not enough.
I personally know that this information is false. Isn't that good enough to remove it?
Your personal belief or knowledge that the information is false is not sufficient for removal of verifiable and well-sourced material.
Is personal communication from an expert a reliable source?
No. It is not good enough for you to talk to an expert in person or by telephone, or to have a written letter, e-mail message, or text message from a source. Reliable sources must be published.
Are there sources that are "always reliable" or sources that are "always unreliable"?
No. The reliability of a source is entirely dependent on the context of the situation, and the statement it is being used to support. Some sources are generally better than others, but reliability is always contextual.
What if the source is biased?
Sources are allowed to be biased or non-neutral. Only Wikipedia articles are required to be neutral. Sometimes "non-neutral" sources are the best possible sources for supporting information (with due weight) about the different viewpoints held on a controversial subject.
Does every single sentence need to be followed by an inline citation?
No. Only four broad categories of material need to be supported by inline citations. Editors need not supply citations for perfectly obvious material. However, it must be possible to provide a bibliographic citation to a published reliable source for all material.
Are reliable sources required to name the author?
No. Many reliable sources, such as government and corporate websites, do not name their authors or say only that it was written by staff writers. Although many high-quality sources do name the author, this is not a requirement.
Are reliable sources required to provide a list of references?
No. Wikipedia editors should list any required sources in a references or notes section. However, the sources you are using to write the Wikipedia article do not need to provide a bibliography. Most reliable sources, such as newspaper and magazine articles, do not provide a bibliography.

Addition to burden[edit]

I think we should make it more clear that sources should a company content. Recently have noticed that many new editors add there source to the edit summaries or add a wiki link in reference tags to an article that has the source. We should be more clear that sourced should appear with the content added. This behavior is happening even when point here. I think a small addition could make this more clear. Under burden add a simple qualifier where it appears this to be added to the line and is satisfied by providing a citation to a reliable source that directly supports the contribution where it appears. We sort of say this in the second paragraph of burden....but I could be construed to mean only quotes. What do others think here?--Moxy (talk) 23:50, 19 May 2018 (UTC)

Actually the "nutshell" uses the correct term, "inline citation", so your suggestion is better implemented by:
and is satisfied by providing an inline citation to a reliable source
Of course, you can always find a luser who will provide an "inline citation" in the next section rather than "where it appears", but again even to your suggestion some smartass will reply: "Where it appeared? In this article, of course. And where did I add the citation? In this article, you asshole!" Staszek Lem (talk) 23:00, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
I think that WP:Nobody reads the directions, so adding that is pointless instruction creep. If these new editors are adding sources in an edit summary, then that's better than we usually did when I was a new editor. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:31, 27 May 2018 (UTC)

On citing censored sources[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere.

Please see WT:Manual of Style#Citing a bowdlerised source. This is kind of a side-issue of the "say where you got it" principle.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  00:46, 27 May 2018 (UTC)

Directly supports, hopefully for the last time[edit]

The two sentences that currently include the phrase "directly supports" seems to have confused multiple people recently, so I spent a while in the archives and page history, and I have the following things to report:

  1. This confusion wouldn't exist if we'd stuck with the language that User:SlimVirgin settled on in 2010: "This policy requires that all quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation, and that the source directly support the material in question." Note that there are two clearly separate requirements in that sentence: (1) "using an inline citation" and (2) "the source directly supports the material".
  2. "Directly supports" has nothing to do with the location of the citation. If you want to say something that means "you have to have a little blue clicky number at the end of the exact sentence that I'm complaining about", then you need to use the phrase "inline citation" in both of these sentences (that detail is currently specified only in the first of the two sentences).
  3. "Directly supports" is all about whether the content of the source actually says what the editor is claiming it says.

On that last point, I found this comment by User:Crum375 in June 2010 to be the most useful for understanding the point:

And that's the key: the person adding the challenged material must convince the others not just that a source exists, but that that source directly supports the material in question. For example, the source could support it only implicitly, if you read between the lines, but there is no way for us to decide that without seeing the actual quote and discussing it on the talk page. Similarly, if it's a translation, we need to see the translation so that editors can judge whether the source directly supports the material.

Note that Crum added this language to that particular sentence in April 2010; the sentence was revised by SV shortly afterwards, but not in ways that change the meaning. Since Crum added that language, I think we can safely assume that Crum's comment accurately indicates the actual intent.

In addition to other comments in the archives, this interpretation of the phrase is further supported by the even older sentence in a section currently titled ===What counts as a reliable source?===: "Use sources that directly support the material presented in an article and are appropriate to the claims made". That sentence would not make any sense at all if you interpreted "Use sources that 'directly support' the material" it as "Use sources that 'are cited right where the material is'". It only makes sense if you understand "direct support" as "the source needs to actually contain the material that you're putting in the article: no fake refs, no making stuff up, no reading between the lines: either the claims are plainly and directly present in the source, or that source can't support that claim."

Having read all of this, I really think that there cannot be any further doubt that the "directly supports" language is entirely about NOR, and has nothing to do with the location of the citation. I think we should consider re-splitting the two requirements into two separate phrases (to clarify the meaning for future editors), and redundantly re-specifying an "inline citation" (to solve the problem that people are having with overly distal citations). WhatamIdoing (talk) 07:05, 28 May 2018 (UTC)

May I suggest detailing the specific proposed change? North8000 (talk) 12:05, 29 May 2018 (UTC)
Claims that need to be verifiable fall into two categories:
  1. Claims that are not direct quotations and are unlikely to be challenged just needs to be verifiable, but not necessarily supported by a citation.
  2. Claimes that are direct quotations, have been challenged, or are likely to be challenged, must be supported by an inline citation that directly supports the material.
The passage in the policy in the "Responsibility for providing citations" section reads:

All content must be verifiable. The burden to demonstrate verifiability lies with the editor who adds or restores material, and is satisfied by providing a citation to a reliable source that directly supports the contribution.

This passage is confusing. More precisely, the burden that lies on the editor adding material is to know that the material is verifiable. If the material is unchallenged, unlikely to be challenged, and not a direct quote, the burden is satisfied if the editor knows, in her own mind, that the material is well-known and easy to look up. Only if the material is challenged, likely to be challenged, or a direct quote does the additional burden of supplying a citation exist, and in such cases, the citation must be inline. By failing to mention that citations, when required in this context, must be inline, the passage adds to the confusion.
Another point the policy fails to address is, if a claim that requires an inline citation appears more than once in an article (say, in the lead and also later in the article), is it necessary to provide the inline citation at all appearances? Many editors prefer to leave the lead as uncluttered as possible, and try to avoid citations in the lead. Jc3s5h (talk) 13:04, 29 May 2018 (UTC)
When and where to put a citation is what this "directly supports" phrasing doesn't address. "Directly supports" means "the source actually said this, directly/clearly/plainly, and any educated (in the relevant subject area) person could read that source and determine that the source actually says whatever you're claiming that it says". "Directly supports" does not say anything about whether you need a citation at all, much less whether any citation needs to be inline, in the lead, after each instance, etc. "Directly supports" means that if the source says "Albert Einstein was a noted physicist", then you cannot use it to write "Albert Einstein was the most famous physicist in the world". The source doesn't "directly support" that claim, no matter where you stick the citation.
So perhaps, if necessary, we could add a footnote that says something like "A source 'directly supports' a claim if the claim in question is plainly present in the source, without violating WP:NOR. The location of a citation – including whether one is present in the article at all – is unrelated to whether the source directly supports the material. For questions about where and how to place citations, see WP:CITE, WP:CITELEAD, etc.". WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:06, 2 June 2018 (UTC)

Potential replacement for {{Rp}}[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere.

The new improvement to <ref>...</ref> proposed at meta:WMDE Technical Wishes/Book referencing/Call for feedback (May 2018) would obviate the need for the {{Rp}} template, as well as provide various other enhancements. The discussion is presently swamped by people who just don't like fully-inline citations and only want to use {{sfn}} and page-bottom referencing, but this is a false dichotomy. The discussion isn't about which citation style is better (the answer to that is "it depends on the article"); the question is whether this feature would be good to have for referencing that is fully inline, and the answer is clearly "yes". I would be delighted if my old {{Rp}} template was finally superseded by an actual (and more tidy) feature of MediaWiki itself.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:05, 1 June 2018 (UTC)

RFC: Should the article contain references to verify that the entries are YouTubers?[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere.

Please see Talk:List of YouTubers#RFC: Should the article contain references to verify that the entries are YouTubers? for an RfC in the purview of this policy. – Finnusertop (talkcontribs) 15:03, 19 June 2018 (UTC)