QUOTE(timbo @ Fri 14th October 2011, 6:56pm)
The whole notion of "reliable sources" is pretty idiotic, actually. The key question is objective accuracy; whether facts come from a primary, secondary, or tertiary source should be, ummmm, secondary to the, uhhhhh, primary concern of VERACITY.
There is bullshit in all published media. There is truth on unedited amateur blogs. Some mainstream media is more bullshit-laden than others (looking at you, Fox News). Some blogs are farcically untrustworthy, to be sure. The whole notion of one-size-fits-all Reliable Sources rules is stupid.
This is original sin dating back to the Philosophers coming down from the mount in 2002 or whatever year it was that Sanger and Wales got serious about systematizing this project...
Well, some wasn't THAT original. Yes, for obvious reasons considering the demographics of their writers, WMF didn't trust it to have any idea of truth or even how to detect it. So they did the next best thing: they substituted "authority" for "epistemological competence."
It took quite a while for them to figure out how to define "authority" and finally they decided that it amounted to "non-self-published published material." This wasn't a very good proxy, but it was the best they could do, and now they've stuck to it.
It has obvious problems: when it comes to e-publishing, it hardly matters if you publish it yourself or "someone else" (yuck, yuck) does it FOR you. Without the money problems of publishing, the care of editing goes out the window.
The other problem is that even in venues where publishing still costs money (paper journalism), editorial care is a slave to monied interests in many ways, from time-pressure to sponsor and subscriber pressure, and this can get so bad that a private blog on the net can be far more truthful than the Weekly World News.
Perhaps the main original sin is that everybody forgot during the setting of WP souring policy back in 2005 that there's no good way to separate the independently-published sources that are truthful, from those that are as true as Tass
and Mein Kampf
. Ah, we let WP's editors figure that out, do we? I thought we'd agreed they are idiots? Hmmm.
Wait, I have it!
We let OTHER published sources tell us what the reliable published sources are!
Hence the primary and secondary thing.
Gee, it's kind of a recursive conundrum, ain't it?
It's all kids and no teacher, and chaos ensues.