Wikipedia talk:Verifiability

Latest comment: 8 days ago by Blueboar in topic Verifiability, second paragraph

    RfC concerning WP:ABOUTSELF

    There's an RfC about the applicability of WP:ABOUTSELF to an article on a religious organisation happening at Talk:International Churches of Christ#Request for Comment on About Self sourcing on beliefs section of a religious organization’s article, which might interest watchers of this page. Cordless Larry (talk) 19:55, 15 April 2024 (UTC)Reply

    Feedback requested on whether usage examples require sources

    Your feedback would be welcome at this discussion about usage examples at linguistic articles, and whether they require sources: Talk:Franglais#Are usage examples "original research"? Thanks, Mathglot (talk) 17:16, 22 April 2024 (UTC)Reply

    Responsibility section

    Right now, this guide reads Any material lacking an inline citation to a reliable source that directly supports the material may be removed and should not be restored without an inline citation to a reliable source. But the footnote in that quote reflects very different principles: 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.; ie, this footnote belongs on a sentence that says something like "Any material that is not directly supported by a reliable source may be removed." The change to the base text that set this footnote out of wack is old enough that it doesn't show up in the last 50 edits, but I'm not sure if wider consensus was sought for it beforehand. If there was, it's evidently the footnote that needs updating. -- asilvering (talk) 15:02, 29 April 2024 (UTC)Reply

    The change was made by WhatamIdoing in June 2021,[1] in a change to standardise the language between BURDEN and CHALLENGE. -- LCU ActivelyDisinterested «@» °∆t° 15:21, 29 April 2024 (UTC)Reply
    The footnote is trying to provide a definition of what it means if a source Wikipedia:Directly supports the material.
    We have had editors mistakenly think that the location of the little blue clicky number is what determines whether the source directly supports the material. In this error, they mistakenly believe that:
    • Born in 1927,[1] Alice Expert became famous for her interest in expertise.
    has a citation that "directly supports" the birth year, even if the cited source is all about elephants and does not mention either Alice or 1927 at all.
    What we're trying to tell them is that "directly supports" means that if the CHALLENGED fact is about Alice's birth year, then citing a source about elephants is no good, even if the little blue clicky number is actually touching the year. The cited source only "directly supports" the claim if the cited source contains words like "Alice was born in 1927" – and if it does that, then that cited source "directly supports" the claim even if it's at the end of the paragraph (or, technically, if it's not yet cited in the article – though a CHALLENGE requires that it actually be cited). WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:45, 29 April 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Ok, but that's not what the footnote is saying. If that's what we want the footnote to say, it should say that. -- asilvering (talk) 02:12, 30 April 2024 (UTC)Reply
    @Asilvering,
    The footnote says "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."
    I'm telling you that the meaning of the footnote is that the location of the citation is irrelevant to whether the source directly supports the material. What's relevant to the question of whether the citation WP:Directly supports the material in the Wikipedia article is whether the material in the source matches the material in the Wikipedia article.
    It seems to me that my explanation is exactly "what the footnote is saying". What do you think the footnote is saying? WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:16, 2 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    What the footnote currently says is, including whether one is present in the article at all. It is telling you that a sentence may indeed be directly supported by a reliable source, even if that source is not cited in the article. That is, an article may have zero references at all, but it is in principle possible to find a source that contains the same information; this is a statement about what makes a fact verifiable or not. That is irrelevant to the sentence the footnote is attached to, since that sentence is saying material should not be restored without an inline citation; it is a statement about what to do once a fact has been challenged and needs to be verified.
    Since you've clarified what this is supposed to mean, I can fix it by removing the "including whether one is present in the article at all" bit, so I'll do that. -- asilvering (talk) 02:35, 3 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    I think you've understood the sentence, but you don't believe it.
    Fact: A source directly supports the content when the content of the source matches the contents of the article.
    Where the citation is placed is irrelevant to whether the source directly supports the content.
    Obviously logical conclusions, given a source that says the same thing as the article:
    • If the citation is placed at the end of the sentence, then the source directly supports the material.
    • If the citation is placed at the end of the paragraph, then the source directly supports the material.
    • If the citation is placed at the end of the section, then the source directly supports the material.
    • If the citation is placed at the end of the article, then the source directly supports the material.
    • If the citation is placed in the ==External links== section, then the source directly supports the material.
    • If the citation is placed in an edit summary, then the source directly supports the material.
    • If the citation is placed on the talk page, then the source directly supports the material.
    • If the citation hasn't been typed into Wikipedia yet, then the source still directly supports the material.
    Naturally, that last case isn't useful to any other editor, and it doesn't meet the requirements of WP:BURDEN (which requires the citation to be formatted as an inline citation, implicitly in the article itself and [for practical reasons, as a means of communicating the relationship between the source and the material to whichever editor complained about the absence of an inline citation] plausibly near that material), but directly supports itself, strictly speaking, is about whether the source matches the article content. It's not about where the citation is located, or even whether the citation has been typed up yet.
    I think what you might want is to add a sentence that says something like "Of course, in case of a CHALLENGE, you really do have to have an inline citation to that source" – though I'd consider that to be redundant with the main text of the policy. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:52, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Why is this still being discussed after all these years?
    "Naturally, that last case isn't useful to any other editor" applies to any placement of the citation that is removed from the content supported by the citation. The citation should be close to the content it supports. (How close can be discussed, but not further than the end of the sentence. You reveal you understand this point. The citations is not about the whole article, but about a specific piece of information in the article, and it should be located adjacent to that piece of information.) Your long repetitions border on a rather silly WP:POINT violation, so we won't take it too seriously. We understand your point, and it is (still) not valid. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 06:03, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    The reason it's being discussed is because an editor appears to have misunderstood which words in the sentence provide him with an excuse to object about the location of the citation, and which words provide him with an excuse to object about the contents of the cited source.
    The first sentence using this says:
    "All quotations, and any material whose verifiability has been challenged or is likely to be challenged, must include an inline citation to a reliable source that directly supports the material."
    • The words "an inline citation" are the words that say the citation has to be close to the CHALLENGED material.
    • The words "directly supports the material" are the words that say the contents of the article must match what's in the source.
    If your complaint is that the citation is 'physically' in the wrong place, including that it's not in the article at all, then say something like "That's not a proper inline citation, which is required by WP:V."
    If your complaint is that the citation is 'physically' in the right place, but the Wikipedia article is talking about when Alice was born and the cited source is talking about elephants, then say something like "That source does not directly support the claim. According to WP:V, a source "directly supports" a given piece of material if the information is present explicitly in the source, so that using this source to support the material is not a violation of Wikipedia:No original research, and no amount of rearranging deckchairs changing the location of the ref tags is going to change the fact that the cited source doesn't directly support the material."
    Getting editors to use the right words helps people understand each other. This isn't necessarily popular (for example, a couple of years ago, we had a high-volume editor claiming that all uncited material is automatically a NOR violation, even though the second paragraph of NOR contradicts that), but it is important, especially for editors who are trying to change policies. WP:Policy writing is hard, and it's almost impossible if you don't pay attention to the differences like which words indicate the location of the citation and which words, in the same sentence, tell you something about the nature of the cited source. WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:24, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    ! agree with your statement. I have always understood that a cited source needed to directly support content in the article, but when I first started editing WP more than 18 years ago, I did not understand the importance of having the citation as close to the supported content as possible (nor, it would appear, did many other editors at the time). Having seen how often well-intentioned edits move citations away from the content they support, I now support citing individual sentences within paragraphs, when applicable. We have {{Failed verification}} for a source that does not support the content, but if a citation supporting some specific content is not close to that content, then, if an editor does not have the time and patience to search for the displaced citation, {{Citation needed}} may be added. These are distinct problems, and policies and guidelines need to make that distinction clear. Donald Albury 14:18, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    WhatamIdoing and Donald Albury, thanks for the clarifications. I agree. The location of the citation should be close enough to the relevant content that a reader will logically make a connection between the content and its citation. If the citation gets moved or is otherwise located too far away, then placement of {{Failed verification}} or {{Citation needed}} tags is appropriate. That's why I object to the practice of moving all citations to the end of a sentence or paragraph. Some citations need to be placed exactly right after a specific word or phrase and should not be moved, especially for sensitive BLP matters. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 15:41, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    I think you've understood the sentence, but you don't believe it. is not true, and I would appreciate it if you stopped trying to speculate. -- asilvering (talk) 16:37, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Well, do you? Do you actually believe that the source I'm going to cite later today "directly supports" the contents that I'll be citing it for? Or do you believe that since there's no citation in the Wikipedia article yet, that it can't possibly "directly support" that material? WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:45, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    If it isn't placed logically close to the content, it doesn't "directly" support the material. The cite's placement somewhere in the universe does mean it "supports" that material, but that is irrelevant for our purposes. We need it "directly", IOW located "closely", to support the material, hence the need for it to be located "inline". That's pretty close. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 17:02, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    No. That's not what's intended.
    If it isn't placed logically close to the content, then the content is uncited. Uncited is not the same thing as "directly supports".
    We need the source both logically close to the content ("inline" with that content) and for the source to directly support the content ("source and Wikipedia article say the same thing").
    Maybe we need to use other words for this. @Valjean, can you imagine a source that indirectly supports content, so that (to reverse the requirement in the policy) "using this source to support the material is not would be a violation of Wikipedia:No original research"?
    For example: Imagine a pair of tweets saying "I got married today" and "I'm in London today". It would be a violation of NOR to turn those into "Chris Celebrity got married in London today", right? It's a violation because no source directly says that the wedding was in London – they only indirectly imply it, right?
    I know we agree that this problem can't be solved by moving the refs around. Even if you format it as "Chris[1][2] Celebrity[1][2] got married[1][2] in London[1][2] today[1][2]", that pair of tweets is still a NOR violation, because they only indirectly support the claim. This would be a violation of the requirement for the source to WP:Directly support the content, even though those ref tags are literally touching every single significant word in the sentence. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:55, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Wouldn't it be a SYNTH violation to use them that way? -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 17:59, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    It absolutely would violate SYNTH.
    And SYNTH, as every experienced editor knows, is part of NOR.
    And this footnote says that if the only way your source (NB: not "location of ref tags") could be said to "support" your content is a NOR violation, then your source (NB: not "location of ref tags") does not "directly support" the content. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:04, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    That wording really confuses me. There are too many different elements for me to be sure how to parse it. Is there a word missing somewhere in all that? -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 18:32, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    I don't think there's a missing word.
    What's difficult about saying that sources that don't say Chris got married in London don't support a claim that Chris got married in London? WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:37, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    There is nothing difficult about that at all. This is about SYNTH violations. Is that really your main point in this thread? -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 18:41, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    That is the main point, not "in this thread", but "in the policy itself". A source does not "directly support" content if it's a NOR violation for that content. The definition of "directly supports" is given in that footnote. The definition is: When you compare the source to the article's contents, it wouldn't be a NOR violation to claim that the source and the article are saying the same thing.
    I think the main point from other editors is "I want a sentence in an actual policy that will let me insist that the location of the citations be changed". Some editors have gotten into the habit of claiming (and genuinely believing) that "directly supports" is about the location of the citation, rather than the contents of the source. I've no objection to them having such a sentence. I only object to them using words about source–text integrity ("a reliable source that directly supports") when talking about formatting (e.g., the location of the ref tags). WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:53, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    What I believe about the statement in question, ie the note, is irrelevant to the question I raised in my initial post, which is that the two statements we have (the sentence in the main text, and the sentences in the note) introduce an unnecessarily confusing discrepancy. I understand both statements perfectly fine. What I am saying is that it is unhelpful to add "including whether one is present in the article at all" in the note when we are talking about what to do when "material lacking an inline citation to a reliable source that directly supports the material" has been challenged in the main text. Indeed, the location of the inline source is irrelevant when it comes to whether information is verifiable or not. However, once material is challenged, it is in fact very relevant that sources are present in the article.
    I posted on this talk page about it because it appeared likely to me that this discrepancy was the result of someone changing the main text and forgetting to change the footnote. If that was the case, it was possible that the change was done without wider consensus. I received my answer; this was not the case. Great! So, I edited the footnote to suit its context. I'm not sure why you reverted that, since my changes did not change the meaning of any of the text. -- asilvering (talk) 19:07, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    The whole note:

    A source "directly supports" a given piece of material if the information is present explicitly in the source, so that using this source to support the material is not a violation of Wikipedia: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. For questions about where and how to place citations, see Wikipedia:Citing sources, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section § Citations, etc.

    The phrase 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. should be removed. It just creates unnecessary confusion. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 18:32, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    That depends on whether your goal for the footnote is to make people understand what the words WP:Directly supports mean in this policy, or whether your goal is to explain how to properly place an Wikipedia:Inline citation. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:36, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    I think the problem is one of grammar; people sometimes incorrectly read it as "must include an inline citation that directly supports (that means 'touches', right?) the material (and by the way, this is WP:V so of course we're only talking about citations to reliable sources, but that's not really relevant here)". Instead, what the policy says is:

    • Under specified circumstances, the article "must include an inline citation", and
    • that the citation must point "to a reliable source", and
    • that the cited reliable source (NB: not the citation itself) "must directly support (i.e., match) the material".

    Here's the first sentence about this in the policy and the footnote, with a few adjustments that might make it easier to understand:

    "All quotations, and any material whose verifiability has been challenged or is likely to be challenged, must include an [[WP:INCITE|inline citation]] to a reliable source that directly supports the material."
    +
    "All quotations, and any material whose verifiability has been challenged or is likely to be challenged, must include an [[WP:INCITE|inline citation]] to a reliable source. That cited source must clearly contain the same facts or other information as the relevant part of the Wikipedia article. Inline citations should be placed close enough to the material in question that other editors can figure out which words, facts, sentences, or paragraphs can be verified in the cited source."

    The footnote would have to be adjusted to match the new language:

    "A source "directly supports" a given piece of material if the information is present <em >explicitly</em> in the source, so that using this source to support the material is not a violation of [[Wikipedia: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. For questions about where and how to place citations, see [[Wikipedia:Citing sources]], [[Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section#Citations|Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section § Citations]], etc."
    +
    "A source "clearly contains the same facts or other information" about a given piece of material in the Wikipedia article if the facts or other information is present <em >explicitly</em> in the source, so that using this source to support the material is not a violation of [[Wikipedia:No original research]]. The location of any citation—including whether one is present in the article at all—is important for other purposes but is unrelated to whether the source itself actually contains the same facts or other information as the Wikipedia article. For questions about where and how to place citations, see [[Wikipedia:Citing sources]], [[Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section#Citations|Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section § Citations]], etc."

    Alternatively, we could add a sentence such as "Even if the <ref> tags are literally touching the disputed word, if the cited source does not explicitly contain the same facts or other information as the article, then that source does not directly support the material. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:34, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    Please excuse me if I take a break from this now. You are writing a whole lot, and it's too complicated to deal with so quickly. I have other things I'd like to deal with for a while that don't give me a headache. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 18:44, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    If I can cut to the chase… instead of “directly supports”, what if we said “explicitly supports”? Would that resolve the issue? Blueboar (talk) 19:05, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    It wouldn't resolve the initial question I had that prompted this thread. I solved that issue quite simply, with this edit, but was reverted. -- asilvering (talk) 19:09, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    The purpose of this footnote is to provide a definition of the words "directly supports". The purpose of the footnote is not to redundantly repeat what the main body of the policy already says about inline citations being required. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:13, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    The purpose of a dictionary is to define words with no context. The purpose of a footnote is to provide additional relevant information; the context matters. -- asilvering (talk) 19:21, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    The footnote is providing additional relevant information. Specifically, it is providing the additional relevant information that the words "directly supports" has nothing to do with the location of the citation. The case of "whether the citation is present in the article at all" is merely the most extreme version of where the citation is located. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:28, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Blueboar, that should reduce (but probably not eliminate) the misuse, but would not solve the problem that the policy does not have a clear sentence that says a citation at the end of a paragraph (or section, or article) isn't always good enough. Editors want a sentence that lets them demand, over the objections of others, that the little blue clicky numbers be placed right next to disputed word(s). WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:12, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    This is not even a little bit what I am talking about. You are fencing with strawmen. -- asilvering (talk) 19:23, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    You aren't the only person who has struggled to figure out what "directly supports" means. The footnote was created (by me) in 2018 because of prior confusion; it has helped, but apparently it is still not clear enough. Therefore, we should look for ways to make it clearer. There are several possibilities for making it clearer.
    One possibility is to put a statement in the policy that says "Contrary to what you may have been told, this policy does not actually require that every article contain any sources, and it definitely does not require inline citations except for the four specified types". If the policy had such a statement, then newer editors (a category that I'd put you in, since you've "only" been around for 2.5 years and have "only" made more edits than 99.5% of editors) would not be quite as surprised to see a phrase indicating that an uncited source can support article content. (Personally, I'd like to change the policy to require a minimum of one independent source per article, but so far, I haven't gotten my way on that point.)
    Another possibility is to change the "directly supports" language to something that sounds like it has less connection to physical proximity. This would probably be wordier.
    A third possibility is to add a ==Definitions== section. For example: "directly supports: source matches article content" and "inline citation: NB that 'in some completely different line' doesn't count as an inline citation".
    Please understand that your concern is being addressed here not as a single isolated individual, but in the full context of multiple rounds of confusion, by multiple editors, over multiple years. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:51, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Please, I've already asked you to stop assuming things about what I do and do not understand. I have not in any way struggled to understand what "directly supports" means, and I presently believe that your insistence that I do misunderstand this is causing you to misunderstand both my edit and my reasoning for it. -- asilvering (talk) 23:42, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    Before I leave to do some work in my wife's garden, let me drop this here before I forget it. I think we're talking about two aspects: (1) existence of a source and (2) accessibility/location of the source. If those two words were used more frequently, it would help us to stay on-topic for each aspect. They are getting mixed up. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 19:13, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    @Valjean yes, that is exactly the issue I tried to disentangle. -- asilvering (talk) 19:19, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    • I've relied on the footnote clarifying "directly supports", and I think the proposed change worsens the explanation. I'm not sure where the miscommunication is happening, and I'm wary of duplicating the above misunderstandings. I don't see the footnote as reflecting different principles than the body/lead content it's associated with. Firefangledfeathers (talk / contribs) 19:20, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
      @Firefangledfeathers, can you clarify whether you mean WhatamIdoing's proposed change above (which I agree is much worse), or my proposed change? Mine was here but was reverted by WhatamIdoing. -- asilvering (talk) 19:22, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
      Thank you for clarifying, I meant your proposed change. For the record, I also oppose WAID's change; I suspsect the motivation for her proposal was maybe just a misunderstanding of your and Valjean's concerns. Firefangledfeathers (talk / contribs) 19:25, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
      Would you mind explaining why you think my change worsens the explanation? I'm happy to change it or drop it entirely if it has made things more confusing. WhatamIdoing's responses appear to be aimed at someone who wants a sentence that lets them demand, over the objections of others, that the little blue clicky numbers be placed right next to disputed word(s). Since that isn't me, I don't understand them at all. -- asilvering (talk) 19:29, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
      Is the issue perhaps that I'm being perceived as trying to change the meaning of "directly supports" in general? If that is the case, I apologize for the misunderstanding, and can say that this is not at all my intent. I agree with the text of the footnote as written and I don't think it is confusing as an isolated paragraph explaining the meaning of "directly supports". My only objection is that that full definition, including the "even if there are no sources in the article at all" bit, doesn't make sense to use on the particular statement it's being used on here. -- asilvering (talk) 19:52, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
      I do think the purpose of the footnote is to explain the meaning of "directly supports" in general. The part about "including whether one is present in the article at all", is important, since some editors (not you!) miss that content can be verified/directly supported even if a citation isn't present. I would add the footnote to the "directly support" in WP:SOURCE.
      Having re-checked, I missed your comma removal, which was a good one. I would support removing the comma in the first sentence of the footnote. Firefangledfeathers (talk / contribs) 20:03, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    As suggested by myself and asilvering, the policy will be much easier to understand if we disentangle the two concepts of (1) existence of a source and (2) accessibility/location of the source. Here is my quick and dirty version, which should be improved:

    1. Verifiability is satisfied by the existence of a reliable source that directly supports the content. (But that knowledge is useless to readers if we stop there.)
    2. That source must then be made accessible to readers in the form of an inline citation placed near the relevant content.

    Can we work on using something like that as a replacement for the current wording, where number two is currently just a parenthetical comment? -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 21:55, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    I don't think there is anything approaching site-wide consensus that material that is verifiable, but uncontentious and unchallenged, requires an in-text citation in all cases - which is what your point 2 appears to suggest (at least, as I read it). Newimpartial (talk) 23:05, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    The "sky is blue" cases are the obvious exception. As I wrote, my version is quick and dirty and just to get the bare bones format and point across. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 23:09, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    If I'm reading it the same way you are, I think that could be corrected by prepending "When challenged" to #2. But I don't have any interest in rewording WP:V itself, so I'll leave that to others. I only wanted to remove what I saw as an unnecessarily confusing digression in the footnote that I reworded. -- asilvering (talk) 23:39, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    I acknowledge that 2 is a quick and dirty version, but it's enough of a departure from the status quo that you should expect a major effort in trying to head in that direction. Firefangledfeathers (talk / contribs) 00:51, 8 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Even if you read it as not meaning that everything must be cited unless it is unquestionably sky-is-blue (which, since Valjean wrote it, is not entirely a safe assumption), it goes beyond providing a definition of "directly supports". It sounds like it should be in the main body of the policy, rather than in a footnote.
    If someone wanted to work on the wording, then I suggest:
    • that the focus on "readers" is IMO inappropriate (because readers rarely look at the refs). We don't have a statement anywhere of why we value citations, and it's possible that we don't actually have an agreement on the "why". To be clear, we all agree that citations are desirable; what I'm saying is that if you ask three editors why we should cite sources, you might get three different answers (or four, if "because the rules say so" counts), and
    • that phrases like "the existence of a reliable source" and "accessible" will have to be defined, or you'll have avoidable disputes (e.g., "There's no little blue clicky numbers in the article. Verifiability requires 'the existence of a reliable source', and there are no sources in that article. This is a complete violation of the policy!" followed by "The sources exist – one of them is on my bookshelf right now!" for the first, and "I can't access that PAYWALLED source, so it's not 'accessible'.").
    WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:23, 8 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Take a look below at the new section. I have tried to deal with a couple of your concerns. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 05:57, 8 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    Verifiability, second paragraph

    This is my attempt to disentangle two concepts that are confusingly mixed together in the second paragraph. I have also stricken a confusing phrase in the note that becomes extraneous in my version. This is not a fully finalized wording and improvements are welcome.

    The current second paragraph states:

    All material in Wikipedia 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 to a reliable source that directly supports[a] the material. Any material that needs an inline citation but does not have one may be removed. Please immediately remove contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced.

    The policy will be much easier to understand if we disentangle the two verifiability concepts related to the (1) existence of a source and the (2) accessibility of the citation for the reader and editor:

    1. Verifiability is satisfied by the existence of a reliable source that directly supports the content. (But that knowledge is useless to readers and editors if we stop there.)
    2. A citation to that source must then be made accessible to readers and editors in the form of an inline citation placed near the relevant content.

    Based on those principles, we can tweak and rearrange the current wording (above) to this:

    Version 1 All material in Wikipedia mainspace, including everything in articles, lists, and captions, must be verifiable using reliable sources. Verifiable implies both existence and access. The material is considered verifiable if a reliable source exists somewhere that directly supports[b] the material. As the mere existence of that source is unhelpful if a citation is not immediately accessible to readers and editors, all quotations, and any material whose verifiability has been challenged or is likely to be challenged, must include an inline citation to such a reliable source so readers and editors can verify the source is used properly. It should be placed near the relevant content. Any material that needs an inline citation but does not have one may be removed. Please immediately remove contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced.

    That is a bit longer, but it is also more comprehensive by providing one important reason (especially for editors) behind the requirement to provide an inline citation. There is a difference between a source and citation. The citation must be accessible inline. The location of the source, even if behind a paywall, is beyond our scope, but the location of the citation is something we do care about and can control.

    1. ^ A source "directly supports" a given piece of material if the information is present explicitly in the source, so that using this source to support the material is not a violation of Wikipedia: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. For questions about where and how to place citations, see Wikipedia:Citing sources, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section § Citations, etc.
    2. ^ A source "directly supports" a given piece of material if the information is present explicitly in the source, so that using this source to support the material is not a violation of Wikipedia: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. For questions about where and how to place citations, see Wikipedia:Citing sources, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section § Citations, etc.

    Valjean (talk) (PING me) 05:15, 8 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    Discussion

    The only type of "access" that will make sense to readers is the ability to read a source, which we don't require for all readers. For this reason, "existence and access" will be misunderstood as a requirement that any reader can read the source. Calling a citation "provided" or "included" would be less confusing. However, I agree that the current sentence "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." has no point and should go. It was added in 2018 with essentially no discussion. Zerotalk 06:51, 8 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    Zero, you make excellent points. Below I have changed "existence and access" to "existence of a source and access to a citation to that source." Would it work better for you if I went a bit further and said something like "existence of a source and provision of access to a citation to that source."? -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 17:49, 8 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    "Access" is confusing, because with respect to policy, I think it generally refers to whether the source is freely accessible, and many sources are not for most readers, they have to pay for the book, pay for the article, or go to a library (and it has to be a very good library, and many don't have access to a library at all), Occasionally, I have seen some argue we only should cite what's accessible for free on the internet, which would be bad in many ways, including the fact that the internet deletes and changes addresses, and later it is not accessible. Alanscottwalker (talk) 10:46, 8 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    Alanscottwalker, below I have changed "existence and access" to "existence of a source and access to a citation to that source." -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 17:49, 8 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    Perhaps I have a bias as I already understand the intent of the paragraph in question but I don't see that the change is an improvement. It makes the text longer but I'm not sure it makes it any more clear. Springee (talk) 11:53, 8 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    An important point… a source does not have to be accessible by “you”. It merely has to be accessible by “the public”. For example, a book written in french that is in a public library in Paris is accessible to anyone in Paris, but not (easily) accessible to an english speaker in New York. But, the information in that book is still verifiable, because the person in New York could ask someone in Paris to verify what it says. Blueboar (talk) 12:44, 8 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Bingo! Blueboar, below I have changed "existence and access" to "existence of a source and access to a citation to that source." It is only the citation that must be accessible to readers and editors. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 17:49, 8 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Springee, it would be helpful if you would provide exact quotes of wording that is vague, unnecessary, confusing, or whatever. Place yourself in the position of a relative newbie editor trying to understand and apply WP:V. Experienced users (all of us in this thread) may not need as much, but we also take a lot of things for granted based on our experience and knowledge of PAG. Newbies need it spelled out. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 17:55, 8 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    Excellent suggestions and concerns. Here is a revised version based on those concerns (note content focused on "access"):

    Version 2 All material in Wikipedia mainspace, including everything in articles, lists, and captions, must be verifiable using reliable sources. Verifiable implies both existence of a source and access to a citation to that source. The material is considered verifiable if a reliable source exists somewhere that directly supports[a] the material. As the mere existence of that source is unhelpful if a citation to that source is not immediately accessible to readers and editors, all quotations, and any material whose verifiability has been challenged or is likely to be challenged, must include an inline citation to such a reliable source so readers and editors can verify the source is used properly. It should be placed near the relevant content.
    Any material that needs an inline citation but does not have one may be removed. Please immediately remove contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced.

    I have changed "existence and access" to "existence of a source and access to a citation to that source." It is only the citation that must be accessible to readers and editors. I have also split the long paragraph. The last part is unchanged. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 17:49, 8 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    This new version proposes to change what is meant by "Verifiable" from existence to include "access to a citation". This would be a huge change to enwiki terminology, at the very least, and is not something I can see becoming legitimate without a welll-publicized discussion with wide participation. Newimpartial (talk) 22:39, 8 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Newimpartial, that part can just be deleted as it's not essential to say it out loud. I just thought I was voicing what is already implicit, as two sides of the same coin, in our application of WP:Verifiability: (1) that we already require most content to be verifiable in a RS and (2) that we also should provide an inline citation to that source. Below is the version with that part deleted:
    Version 3 All material in Wikipedia mainspace, including everything in articles, lists, and captions, must be verifiable using reliable sources. The material is considered verifiable if a reliable source exists somewhere that directly supports[a] the material. As the mere existence of that source is unhelpful if a citation to that source is not immediately accessible to readers and editors, all quotations, and any material whose verifiability has been challenged or is likely to be challenged, must include an inline citation to such a reliable source so readers and editors can verify the source is used properly. It should be placed near the relevant content.
    Any material that needs an inline citation but does not have one may be removed. Please immediately remove contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced.
    Will that work better for you? -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 22:55, 8 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    To answer your question, it does work better. I don’t like the any material...must include language because I think it encourages bad-faith challenges to obviously verifiable statements (which we already see without such language) and in doing so, makes it more difficult to write a good encyclopaedia article. In particular, since lead sections are especially susceptible to challenges in questionable faith and since citations for challenged material should be placed near the relevant content, the proposal will predictably result in ref-bombing of lead sections.
    So while I can't say I support the proposed language, it no longer changes the meaning of "verifiability" and is therefore an improvement over the earlier proposal. Newimpartial (talk) 02:49, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Newimpartial, the matter of refs in the lead is beyond, and separate from, this discussion. That issue exists already with the current policy, and my suggested changes won't have any impact on it. If we wish to make it easier to not use refs in the lead, we could add "in the body" so it reads "should be placed near the relevant content in the body". (I think that's too controversial a change right now, so this is just to show how it would look.)
    The any material...must include language is original policy, not my change. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 02:59, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    I get what you're saying about the existing text, but because you are proposing to add placed mear the relevant content, the revision will in fact create additional incentives for ref-bombing, especially in the article lead.
    (You are quite right that I placed my parenthetical, "which we already see...", in a misleading place in my comment above, but unfortunately that doesn't really affect my assessment of the impact of your proposed change.) Newimpartial (talk) 10:03, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Newimpartial, "It should be placed near the relevant content." is not essential here and can be removed. Do we address placement of citations anywhere else in this policy? No, only in the footnote by directing readers elsewhere to Wikipedia:Citing sources#How to place an inline citation using ref tags, where we write: "The citation should be added close to the material it supports,". So my wording here is fully in line with our Wikipedia:Citing sources content guideline. Knowing that, is it wrong or negative to just say it here? It seems relevant to do so, but we can also leave it out.
    I added that sentence because it bears on the concept of this policy. (Verifiable and "to verify" are fully on-topic here.) Whether content is "verifiable" is one thing, but whether we can easily "verify" it is a step further, and that's the purpose of this policy, and why we even have a "no verification" tag. We want editors and readers to be able to use the provided citation to verify the content's and citation's validity. If the citation is not placed near the relevant content, then it is difficult or impossible for editors to access the citation for its intended purpose. So, since we mention this in a totally different place, isn't it an improvement to mention it here? -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 22:36, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    About my striking that "confusing phrase in the note" (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.)... It became extraneous in my version because I gave a nod to it with the words "exists somewhere". When practical, it's better to say in the text what one might otherwise say in a note. In this case, it was easy to do. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 00:03, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    For the same reason as before, I recommend replacing "is not immediately accessible to readers and editors" by "is not present". Simpler too. Zerotalk 02:27, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    That makes sense. Thanks! Here it is:
    Version 4 All material in Wikipedia mainspace, including everything in articles, lists, and captions, must be verifiable using reliable sources. The material is considered verifiable if a reliable source exists somewhere that directly supports[a] the material. As the mere existence of that source is unhelpful if a citation to that source is not present, all quotations, and any material whose verifiability has been challenged or is likely to be challenged, must include an inline citation to such a reliable source so readers and editors can verify the source is used properly. It should be placed near the relevant content.
    Any material that needs an inline citation but does not have one may be removed. Please immediately remove contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced.
    Will that work better for you? -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 02:33, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    Here is a comparison of the current second paragraph and version 4. My additions/changes are highlighted:

    ORIGINAL

    All material in Wikipedia 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 to a reliable source that directly supports[b] the material. Any material that needs an inline citation but does not have one may be removed. Please immediately remove contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced.

    Version 4

    All material in Wikipedia mainspace, including everything in articles, lists, and captions, must be verifiable using reliable sources. The material is considered verifiable if a reliable source exists somewhere that directly supports[a] the material. As the mere existence of that source is unhelpful if a citation to that source is not present, all quotations, and any material whose verifiability has been challenged or is likely to be challenged, must include an inline citation to such a reliable source so readers and editors can verify the source is used properly. It should be placed near the relevant content.
    Any material that needs an inline citation but does not have one may be removed. Please immediately remove contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced.

    How's that? -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 03:16, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    "Unhelpful" seems unwarranted. It's not as helpful as a clearly-cited source, but it's a hell of a lot more helpful than a source that doesn't exist. – Joe (talk) 10:12, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Agreed, that part of the sentence could be removed, as the value of having a citation is obvious. Zerotalk 12:03, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Joe and Zero, so you're suggesting I delete this part? As the mere existence of that source is unhelpful if a citation to that source is not present, It's certainly obvious to experienced editors, but not necessarily to newbies. If we discount the value of helping them, then I can delete that. What do you think? -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 22:42, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    If we discount the value of helping them – yes, of course, that's what we want...
    No, the point is that the statement is not true and exceeds current consensus. In general, I prefer WhatamIdoing's version below. – Joe (talk) 05:35, 10 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    So, now to apply these changes (removing As the mere existence of that source is unhelpful if a citation to that source is not present,) and (removing "It should be placed near the relevant content." for Newimpartial):

    Version 4A

    All material in Wikipedia mainspace, including everything in articles, lists, and captions, must be verifiable using reliable sources. The material is considered verifiable if a reliable source exists somewhere that directly supports[a] the material. All quotations, and any material whose verifiability has been challenged or is likely to be challenged, must include an inline citation to such a reliable source so readers and editors can verify the source is used properly.
    Any material that needs an inline citation but does not have one may be removed. Please immediately remove contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced.

    How's that? -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 23:22, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    To answer this question (and the prior question you directed to me above), I regard this version as an improvement. Newimpartial (talk) 21:42, 10 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    Also categories

    I propose that this is an opportunity to spell out the verification requirements for categories. At the moment categories are not mentioned in the body of the text; they are only mentioned in a footnote that says "For a disputed category, you may use {{unreferenced category}}" with no help as to what "unreferenced" means and what can be done about it other than tagging. At WP:CATV there is a little more: "It should be clear from verifiable information in the article why it was placed in each of its categories." So I propose a new version:

    Version 5

    All material in Wikipedia mainspace, including everything in articles, lists, captions, and categorization must be verifiable using reliable sources. The material is considered verifiable if a reliable source exists somewhere that directly supports[a] the material. All quotations, and any material whose verifiability has been challenged or is likely to be challenged, must include an inline citation to such a reliable source so readers and editors can verify that the source is used properly. It should be placed near the relevant content. All categories applied to an article which have been challenged or are likely to be challenged must be supported by sourced content in the article.
    Any material that needs an inline citation but does not have one may be removed. Please immediately remove contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced.

    Zerotalk 12:03, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    Zero, I love your suggestion and will support it. I should point out that you, and others, have opposed me doing exactly what you are doing. We have bits and pieces of valuable information, like what you mention here, that are mentioned in other places, and that it would be good to mention here, but I have been opposed at nearly every such attempt. Most of my improvements of this nature are opposed. I'm surprised to discover how conservative so many editors are, and how they are opposed to progressive ideas that can improve content, but that's the way it seems to be here. If your conscience will still allow you to do this without reciprocating the favor to me, I will still support you. That's how I role. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 23:02, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    Notes

    1. ^ a b c d e f A source "directly supports" a given piece of material if the information is present explicitly in the source, so that using this source to support the material is not a violation of Wikipedia: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. For questions about where and how to place citations, see Wikipedia:Citing sources, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section § Citations, etc. Cite error: The named reference "directly supports 2" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
    2. ^ A source "directly supports" a given piece of material if the information is present explicitly in the source, so that using this source to support the material is not a violation of Wikipedia: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. For questions about where and how to place citations, see Wikipedia:Citing sources, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section § Citations, etc.

    WhatamIdoing's suggestion

    All material in Wikipedia mainspace, including everything in articles, lists, and captions, must be verifiable. Material is considered verifiable if a reliable source, containing the same information, has been published and is accessible to the general public. Additionally, four types of information are required to be followed by an inline citation to a reliable source containing that information. These four types are:

    Any material that is required to have an inline citation but does not have one may be removed. Please immediately remove contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced.

    I have highlighted the main change; the rest is mostly formatting.

    This version deals with the "directly supports" problem by eliminating the language and therefore being able to eliminate the entire footnote defining that language. It also provides the complete list in an easy-to-read format. (Our current version lists the first three, and then leaves the BLP item as an afterthought.)

    This version does not deal with the question of whether the same fact must be repeatedly cited (e.g., in the lead, the infobox, and the four different times the fact gets mentioned in the body of the article). I will say that in my experience we prefer redundant citations for repeated direct quotations, but that those are rare, and that we require redundant citations only for the most contentious BLP material. If that's a significant concern

    I have no firm opinion about categorization, so I've tentatively left it out. It should probably be a separate decision, with suitable notice to Wikipedia talk:Categorization and similar pages.

    What do you think? WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:33, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

    It is tempting to add something like ...to the general public, even if that reliable source is not cited in the article and Material that does not fit into any of these four categories is not required to have a citation in the Wikipedia article. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:40, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    I like it, very clear. I wouldn't bother with the "even if..." bit; it's implied clearly enough. The second addition makes sense given repeated misunderstandings of this point, but to more accurately describe the current status quo I'd make it, Material that does not fit into any of these four categories is not required to have a citation in the Wikipedia article, though ideally it should have one. – Joe (talk) 18:03, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Perhaps not technically required? not officially required?
    (I'm not sure that it's actually "ideal" for non-required material to have an inline citation, especially if someone is interpreting "material" in a Least publishable unit system, à la WP:REPCITE or looking for a rule that can be interpreted as requiring a little blue clicky number at the end of each sentence. We want to encourage citations, but we don't want to encourage reverters who are treating contributing content as a game of Mother, May I?) WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:16, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Yeah, all the exceptions to that statement came into my mind as soon as I hit save and if we tried to list them all the section will be twice as long. What about something like ...in the Wikipedia article, but adding one may still be an improvement? Otherwise I think the simple "not required" is fine. – Joe (talk) 18:39, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Oh, I like that. I agree that a simple "not required" is acceptable, but if we want to say more, then I like your "but adding one may still be an improvement" better than any of the others we've thought of. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:02, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    WhatamIdoing, I'm all for adding such clarifications that make this stuff easier to understand, especially for newbie editors. That's what I have tried to do above, but for some reason, my suggested improvements have largely been rejected, even by you, and they are the same types of improvements you are now suggesting. Think about that for a bit. BTW, I will still support your effort.-- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 23:13, 9 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    I like having the list itemized, but I have other problems:
    (1) The phrase "accessible to the general public" is problematic since "accessible" has two distinct common meanings. To paraphrase my dictionary, it can mean "able to be reached or obtained" or "easily understood or appreciated". The ambiguity is not resolved by context since both meanings make perfect sense. I assume that the first meaning is the one intended, but some will assume it has the second meaning since it is similar to some wording at WP:PRIMARY. As a possible hint towards fixing this, note that the verb "to access" does not have the same ambiguity as the adjective "accessible".
    (2) WP:SOURCEACCESS, says "Some reliable sources are not easily accessible." Only the word "easily" stops this being a direct contradiction; is that enough?
    (3) Some research libraries are not open to the "general public", but I don't think we should ban the sources they contain. Anyway, this would be a policy change requiring a separate consensus.
    (4) The requirement that categories also have to be sourced, though in a different way, should be included. Zerotalk 02:24, 10 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    1. See the linked page: Wikipedia:Published#Accessible. It's not enough for it to have been published; it must still exist, and other people have to be able to get their hands on it. A Lost literary work has been published but is not a valid source for Wikipedia.
    2. I'm not sure which problem you're trying to solve here. Sources must be accessible to the general public. It can be expensive and difficult for them to do it, but it has to be possible. It is not possible for "other people using the encyclopedia [to] check that the information comes from a reliable source" if the only RS is not available to them under any circumstances.
    3. If the only copies of the work are in closed archives, then it's already not acceptable under WP:V. WP:V approves of "documents in publicly accessible archives", including those "available only in special museum collections and archives", but not those that are restricted to only people who work for a particular employer, who have particular professional qualifications, who have a particular security clearance, who are enrolled in a particular school, or – in a highly relevant case – who follow a particular religion.
    4. Nobody has actually proposed that categories must be sourced. The proposals are only that categories must be verifiable. That's "able to be verified, including through the expedient of finding a reliable source yourself". The distinction between "don't ever put any stuff in Wikipedia if no RS has ever published it before" and "this specific, narrower set of stuff requires little blue clicky numbers" is important for this paragraph. The proposal to add the cats is in the former bit, not the latter.
    WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:51, 10 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    I also share the concern about the "is accessible to the general public" wording. It goes a step too far. The thing that must be accessible is the citation for editors and readers here. -- Valjean (talk) (PING me) 03:58, 10 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    What about ...has been published and which it is possible for the general public to access? This removes the potentially ambiguous "accessible" (although that word is also used in WP:SOURCEACCESS) and does not imply that access should be free or easy, only theoretically possible. I think the "general public" bit is helpful and within the bounds of current policy, per WAID. – Joe (talk) 05:52, 10 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    What does "possible for the general public to access" add to "published"? Do we have classes of sources in mind that are published but the general public cannot access them even with difficulty? If we can't think of such sources, what's the point of going beyond "published"? A document in a closed archive is not "published" so that's eliminated already. Zerotalk 13:08, 10 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Squadron Leader X was published in 1943. Using the definition in this policy, it was "made available to the public". Specifically, anyone in a city in England with a couple of shillings was very welcome to pay the admission price and watch the film. That's Wikipedia:Published.
    However, to the best of anyone's knowledge, no copy of the film exists any longer. The loss of all known copies does not magically become "unpublished" (though respondents on the wrong end of a libel case wish that were possible); once the genie is out of the publishing bottle, the source stays "published". But it's not accessible any longer, so it's no longer a valid source for Wikipedia's purposes.
    The most common problem for us is a website that's gone offline without a useful archive copy. Consider, e.g., the very first article I created, or the first that you wrote. We added URLs, but the websites are long gone. The source was "made available to the public", but it is no longer a valid source. A URL to a long-dead, unarchived website does not let other people "check that the information comes from a reliable source". WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:58, 11 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    Those are fine examples, and I agree with both of them. We should definitely exclude sources that are not known to be available anywhere. I was thinking more of this: many university libraries do not admit the general public. One has to be an employee or student to get in. However, we have many editors who are perfectly well able to check books in such libraries, so I don't think we should exclude them. Do you agree? Zerotalk 06:41, 11 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    “The general public” might not be able to just walk in off the street, but every university library will have a process that grants access to non-students/employees. Blueboar (talk) 12:12, 11 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    "is accessible to the general public" wording. It goes a step too far.
    This is already the policy. There is no policy that says I can cite a source that nobody else is allowed to read. The options are:
    • Sources do have to be available, at least in principle, to other people. They might have to spend a lot of time, effort, and money to make it happen, but if they're willing and able to do that, then it doesn't matter who they are. For example, anyone with the money to travel to the British Museum can read the signage there to check whether the source says what the article says.
    • Sources don't have to be available to others. We should go back to that editor from years ago, apologize for going "too far", and tell him it's okay to re-write the articles about his religion based on the rare 19th-century books that are only available at his religion's library, which only allows people belonging to that religion to use the library. If someone wants to check whether he's correctly representing the books' contents in the articles, we'll smile and tell them to assume good faith, or, if they're really serious, to join his religion in the hope that they, too, might get admitted to the secret library some day.
    This is "X and not-X"; there is no third option. I know which I pick. I know which you'll pick. Sources must not only have been made available to the public, they must still be available to the public. That's "published" and (in our traditional wording) "accessible". WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:14, 11 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
    I think we should treat the category issue separately, since it's adding a new guideline (even if transplanted from elsewhere), rather than improving the wording of what's in WP:V now. – Joe (talk) 05:41, 10 May 2024 (UTC)Reply