PBC:Verifiability

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In PBC, verifiability means that other people using the encyclopedia can check that the information comes from a reliable source. PBC does not publish original research. Its content is determined by previously published information rather than the beliefs or experiences of its editors. Even if you're sure something is true, it must be verifiable. If reliable sources disagree, then maintain a neutral point of view and present what the various sources say, giving each side its due weight.

All material in PBC mainspace, including everything in articles, lists and captions, must be verifiable. All quotations, and any material whose verifiability has been challenged or is likely to be challenged, must include an inline citation that directly supports the material. 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.

For how to write citations, see citing sources. Verifiability, no original research and neutral point of view are PBC's core content policies. They work together to determine content, so editors should understand the key points of all three.

Responsibility for providing citations

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All content must be verifiable. The burden to demonstrate verifiability lies with the editor who adds or restores material, and is satisfied by providing an inline citation to a reliable source that directly supports[1] the contribution.[2]

Attribute all quotations and any material whose verifiability is challenged or likely to be challenged to a reliable, published source using an inline citation. The cited source must clearly support the material as presented in the article. Cite the source clearly and precisely (specifying page, section, or such divisions as may be appropriate). See Citing sources for details of how to do this.

Any material lacking a reliable source directly supporting it may be removed and should not be restored without an inline citation to a reliable source. Whether and how quickly material should be initially removed for not having an inline citation to a reliable source depends on the material and the overall state of the article. In some cases, editors may object if you remove material without giving them time to provide references; consider adding a citation needed tag as an interim step. When tagging or removing material for lacking an inline citation, please state your concern that it may not be possible to find a published reliable source for the content, and therefore it may not be verifiable.[3] If you think the material is verifiable, you are encouraged to provide an inline citation yourself before considering whether to remove or tag it.

Reliable sources

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What counts as a reliable source

Base articles on reliable, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. Source material must have been published, the definition of which for our purposes is "made available to the public in some form".[4] Use sources that directly support the material presented in an article and are appropriate to the claims made. The appropriateness of any source depends on the context.

Editors may also use electronic media, subject to the same criteria.

Newspaper and magazine blogs

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Several newspapers, magazines, and other news organizations host columns on their web sites that they call blogs. These may be acceptable sources if the writers are professionals, but use them with caution because the blog may not be subject to the news organization's normal fact-checking process.[5] If a news organization publishes an opinion piece in a blog, attribute the statement to the writer (e.g. "Jane Smith wrote..."). Never use as sources the blog comments that are left by readers.

Sources that are usually not reliable

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Questionable sources

Questionable sources are those that have a poor reputation for checking the facts, lack meaningful editorial oversight, or have an apparent conflict of interest.[6]

Such sources include websites and publications expressing views that are widely considered by other sources to be extremist or promotional, or that rely heavily on unsubstantiated gossip, rumor or personal opinion. They are not suitable sources for contentious claims about others.

Self-published sources

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Anyone can create a personal web page or publish their own book, and also claim to be an expert in a certain field. For that reason, self-published media, such as books, patents, newsletters, personal websites, open wikis, personal or group blogs (as distinguished from newsblogs, above), content farms, Internet forum postings, and social media postings, are largely not acceptable as sources. Self-published expert sources may be considered reliable when produced by an established expert on the subject matter, whose work in the relevant field has previously been published by reliable third-party publications.[5] Exercise caution when using such sources: if the information in question is suitable for inclusion, someone else will probably have published it in independent reliable sources.[7] Never use self-published sources as third-party sources about living people, even if the author is an expert, well-known professional researcher, or writer.

Self-published or questionable sources as sources on themselves

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Self-published and questionable sources may be used as sources of information about themselves, usually in articles about themselves or their activities, without the self-published source requirement that they be published experts in the field, so long as:

  1. the material is neither unduly self-serving nor an exceptional claim;
  2. it does not involve claims about third parties;
  3. it does not involve claims about events not directly related to the source;
  4. there is no reasonable doubt as to its authenticity; and

This policy also applies to material published by the subject on social networking websites such as Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Instagram and Facebook.

PBC and sources that mirror or use it

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Do not use articles from PBC as sources. Also, do not use websites that mirror PBC content or publications that rely on material from PBC as sources. Content from a PBC article is not considered reliable unless it is backed up by citing reliable sources. Confirm that these sources support the content, then use them directly. An exception is allowed when PBC itself is being discussed in the article, which may cite an article, guideline, discussion, statistic, or other content from PBC (or a sister project) to support a statement about PBC. PBC or the sister project is a primary source in this case, and may be used following the policy for primary sources. Any such use should avoid original research, undue emphasis on PBC's role or views, and inappropriate self-reference. The article text should make it clear that the material is sourced from PBC so the reader is made aware of the potential bias.

Accessibility

Access to sources

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Some reliable sources may not be easily accessible. Do not reject reliable sources just because they are difficult or costly to access.

Non-English sources

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Citing

Citations to non-English reliable sources are allowed on the English PBC. However, because this project is in English, English-language sources are preferred over non-English ones when available and of equal quality and relevance.

Quoting

If you quote a non-English reliable source (whether in the main text or in a footnote), a translation into English should always accompany the quote. Translations published by reliable sources are preferred over translations by editors, but translations by editors are preferred over machine translations. When using a machine translation of source material, editors should be reasonably certain that the translation is accurate and the source is appropriate. Editors should not rely upon machine translations of non-English sources in contentious articles or biographies of living people. If needed, ask an editor who can translate it for you.

Other issues

Verifiability does not guarantee inclusion

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While information must be verifiable in order to be included in an article, this does not mean that all verifiable information must be included in an article. Consensus may determine that certain information does not improve an article, and that it should be omitted or presented instead in a different article. The onus to achieve consensus for inclusion is on those seeking to include disputed content.

Tagging a sentence, section, or article

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If you want to request a source for an unsourced statement, you can tag a sentence with the {{citation needed}} template by writing {{cn}} or {{fact}}. You can also leave a note on the talk page asking for a source, or move the material to the talk page and ask for a source there. To request verification that a reference supports the text, tag it with {{verification needed}}. Material that fails verification may be tagged with {{failed verification}} or removed. When using templates to tag material, it is helpful to other editors if you explain your rationale in the template, edit summary, or on the talk page.

Take special care with material about living people. Contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced should be removed immediately, not tagged or moved to the talk page.

Verifiability and other principles

Neutrality

Even when information is cited to reliable sources, you must present it with a neutral point of view (NPOV). Articles should be based on thorough research of sources. All articles must adhere to NPOV, fairly representing all majority and significant-minority viewpoints published by reliable sources, in rough proportion to the prominence of each view. Tiny-minority views need not be included, except in articles devoted to them. If there is disagreement between sources, use in-text attribution: "John Smith argues that X, while Paul Jones maintains that Y," followed by an inline citation. Sources themselves do not need to maintain a neutral point of view. Indeed, many reliable sources are not neutral. Our job as editors is simply to summarize what the reliable sources say.

Original research

The "No original research" policy (NOR) is closely related to the Verifiability policy. Among its requirements are:

  1. All material in PBC articles must be attributable to a reliable published source. This means that a reliable published source must exist for it, whether or not it is cited in the article.
  2. Sources must support the material clearly and directly: drawing inferences from multiple sources to advance a novel position is prohibited by the NOR policy.
  3. Base articles largely on reliable secondary sources. While primary sources are appropriate in some cases, relying on them can be problematic.

See also

Notes

  1. A source "directly supports" a given piece of material if that information is directly present in the source, so that using this source to support this material is not a violation of PBC:No original research. The location of any citation – including whether one is present in the article at all – is unrelated to whether a source directly supports the material.
  2. Once an editor has provided any source that he or she believes, in good faith, to be sufficient, then any editor who later removes the material has an obligation to articulate specific problems that would justify its exclusion from PBC (e.g., why the source is unreliable; the source does not support the claim; undue emphasis; unencyclopedic content; etc.). If necessary, all editors are then expected to help achieve consensus, and any problems with the text or sourcing should be fixed before the material is added back.
  3. When tagging or removing such material, please keep in mind that such edits can be easily misunderstood. Some editors object to others making chronic, frequent, and large-scale deletions of unsourced information, especially if unaccompanied by other efforts to improve the material. Do not concentrate only on material of a particular POV, as that may result in accusations that you are in violation of PBC:NPOV. Also check to see whether the material is sourced to a citation elsewhere on the page. For all of these reasons, it is advisable to communicate clearly that you have a considered reason to believe that the material in question cannot be verified.
  4. This includes material such as documents in publicly, that are available for anyone to see.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Please do note that any exceptional claim would require exceptional sources.
  6. Sources that may have interests other than professional considerations in the matter being reported are considered to be conflicted sources.
  7. Self-published material is characterized by the lack of independent reviewers (those without a conflict of interest) validating the reliability of content. Further examples of self-published sources include press releases, material contained within company websites, advertising campaigns, material published in media by the owner(s)/publisher(s) of the media group, self-released music albums and electoral manifestos.