Wikipedia:No original research/Noticeboard

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Quoting number of Google News hits

Is it original research to state "News site X has been quoted Y thousand times" using a Google News url? Eg using this link to support "PolitiFact has been quoted 185 thousand times". Stickee (talk) 12:14, 9 April 2017 (UTC)

Google's result counting is too variable to quote exact figures, but a statement such as "PolitiFact has been quoted thousands of times" would conform to WP:Primary as
  1. a "straightforward, descriptive statements of facts" and
  2. free of interpretation.
Batternut (talk) 13:41, 9 April 2017 (UTC)
This is an RS question at least in part. Many of those hits will be to the actual news site, others to who knows what, but meaningless. Doug Weller talk 13:35, 9 April 2017 (
No as your search results also comes upon with pages from PolitiFact, google will search for instances of the term, not how they are used.Slatersteven (talk) 14:01, 9 April 2017 (UTC)
@Slatersteven: incorrect, the search term "" in the example given removes those hits. Batternut (talk) 14:11, 9 April 2017 (UTC)
I stand corrected. Apart fro this, self referencing [1]Slatersteven (talk) 14:16, 9 April 2017 (UTC)
That page quotes Politifact without linking to it. I don't see the problem...? Batternut (talk) 17:11, 9 April 2017 (UTC)
Of course as with all Goggle hits, what they sau they gave found and the number of hits you get on the last page differs, the last pages says "Page 82 of about 158,000 results"Slatersteven (talk) 14:19, 9 April 2017 (UTC)
This used to confuse me, though now I realise that Google gives at most 1000 results, and usually less, but it doesn't mean they have given you all possible hits. I haven't seen a full explanation from Google, I'd think it would probably be horribly technical - I suspect they start with the first 1000 contenders from the index, subsequent filters leave the 820 that you actually want, but thousands more contenders remain un-returned. Batternut (talk) 17:11, 9 April 2017 (UTC)
maybe, but it does not alter the fact that we cannot be sure that all the results are relevant (as you say "what we were looking "). This makes it hard to think of this as meeting verifiabilty, it may change based upon some random factor of googles (in fact it has it now returners "Page 82 of about 303,000 results".Slatersteven (talk) 18:41, 9 April 2017 (UTC)
But "quoted thousands of times" was still verified by your query - true for about 303,000, about 185,000, or and about 158,000 results. For figures over 1000, whenever Google says "about x results", I would only describe as "quoted for hundreds / thousands / maybe tens or hundreds of thousands / millions of times". Batternut (talk) 19:46, 9 April 2017 (UTC)
There is a bias in mentioning how many times something has been cited, because it implies the source is important. But we don't know that from the cite count, so it is implied synthesis. If a source has been cited x number of times is significant, then that should be found in reliable sources in a reliable secondary source. TFD (talk) 19:50, 9 April 2017 (UTC)
Because "Google News are more likely to return reliable sources" (per WP:GOOGLEHITS) I think such cite counts do give a rough indicator of importance, especially in the arena of modern news media where being heard and being echoed is more important than being right. Alas perhaps, but the importance is not implied, it is measured even if only to an approximate order of magnitude. Batternut (talk) 21:23, 9 April 2017 (UTC)
You have just written a justification for synthesis. But the policy remains against it and would have to be changed to allow the observation. I don't know what you mean by "the importance is not implied, it is measured." You just said, "Google News are more likely to return reliable sources." In other words a higher count implies greater importance, which is the only reason to include the count in the first place. TFD (talk) 21:41, 10 April 2017 (UTC)
I see it like giving book or record sales figures, eg 100 million copies of the Bible sell each year, The Doors sold 4,190,457 albums, or even California Girls reached No. 3 etc. Do these claims synthetically imply success, or are they a measure of it? Batternut (talk) 23:50, 10 April 2017 (UTC)
The Bible figure is attributed to reliable secondary sources: The Economist and Russell Ash. Stickee (talk) 11:26, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
True, but primary/secondary source is not actually pertinent to TFD's synthesis argument above. Batternut (talk) 13:44, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
The prohibition is against synthesis by editors, not in reliable sources. We expect secondary sources to perform synthesis. If secondary sources consistently mention that the Bible sells 100 million copies per year, then we include it per "Balancing aspects." Reporters, historians and social scientists have their own criteria in deciding that is or is not significant. Our criteria is whatever they consider to be significant and we do not second guess their judgment. That is of value to readers because they want articles to present what is found in reliable secondary sources, not information that reliable secondary sources omit. If they want to know how many hits a news site has on Google, then they can do a Google search. TFD (talk) 06:48, 13 April 2017 (UTC)
An odd thing I've found about cite counts is that sometimes as you click through you'll find the count reduces dramatically. I did miss the bit in the search that eliminated the site, useful that, but Google News will still throw up some odd sources. Google Scholar is much worse. From the name you'd expect scholarly sources, but it also throws up woowoo. Doug Weller talk 13:34, 13 April 2017 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The second click eliminates duplications, but it will ask you if you want to include them. Some of the sources are of course better than others, which is probably why it is a poor guide. I notice in the PolitiFact enquiry, the first page shows it has been quoted in PJ Media, the Daily Caller and NewsBusters, and they all trash it. You need expertise in journalism to interpret this or save time and just accept that it is synthesis. TFD (talk) 16:44, 13 April 2017 (UTC)

So where in WP:SYNTH is there distinction between primary and secondary source? Does it really matter which reliable source gives us "The Doors sold 4,190,457" or "100 mill Bibles sold", so long as we are satisfied with its likely truth? Reliability is important, which is why it is specified in WP:Synth, but primary/secondary is not, which is why primary/secondary is not mentioned in WP:Synth. Batternut (talk) 08:54, 14 April 2017 (UTC)

It seems to me that the synthesis issues above do not have any policy basis, at least as far as stated in WP:SYNTH. For the following reasons:

(a) primary source is good enough - WP:SYNTH does not require secondary source,
(b) WP:SYNTH only talks about combining material; this claim is supported by a single part of one source,
(c) the claim is a statistic of a type found all over wikipedia, and "SYNTH is not ubiquitous", per WP:What_SYNTH_is_not.

Either of (b) or (c) above would mean, independent of all other factors, that the claim does not fall foul of WP:SYNTH, and I submit that both are true. IMHO. Batternut (talk) 20:37, 14 April 2017 (UTC)

"of a type found all over wikipedia" I can't say I've seen anyone use Google News cite counts attributed to a search page before. Stickee (talk) 22:20, 17 April 2017 (UTC)
Is that not an RS concern, rather than OR/synthesis? Batternut (talk) 08:30, 18 April 2017 (UTC)

The discussion so far seems to me to amount to:

  1. Synthesis does not apply.
  2. Claim "News site X has been quoted Y thousand times" is not verifiable given the approximate and variable nature of the source.
  3. Claim "News site X has been quoted hundreds (or thousands) of times" is verifiable if Google News is considered reliable.

So, is this discussion the place to consider the reliability question, or should that go to WP:RSN? Or have I missed something? Batternut (talk) 22:03, 21 April 2017 (UTC)

It appears to be both an OR and RS concern, since when you're performing OR there's no way concrete way to judge reliability of what you've conducted. Stickee (talk) 03:37, 22 April 2017 (UTC)
Happily anybody can hit Google with the same query and get a result that justifies the claim. That's a primary source for you! Batternut (talk) 22:41, 9 May 2017 (UTC)
Batternut, sorry for my late reply. The synthesis is implicit. As you said, "I think such cite counts do give a rough indicator of importance." Inclusion of the numbers implies that PolitiFact is important. That's what you are trying to convey whether you say it explicitly or merely imply it, by combining two facts: the number of hits and the implicit fact that a high number of hits is an indication of importance. TFD (talk) 05:56, 7 May 2017 (UTC)
The second "implicit fact" of your argument is not a fact, it is an interpretation. Most statistics are subject to interpretations such as "more is better" (eg record sales), "less is better" (crime rates), it's what makes them interesting. Your view means the quoting of most statistics produces synthesis - quite possibly, but we do generally allow statistics! @The Four Deuces: Batternut (talk) 23:34, 8 May 2017 (UTC)
There is implicit synthesis in which facts we choose to report, which is why "[[WP:BALASP|should strive to treat each aspect with a weight proportional to its treatment in the body of reliable, published material on the subject." The prohibition is against synthesis by editors, not in reliable sources. Note the following article on VDARE's website: "Whites Down To 10% Of World Population By 2060— Does It Matter?" Citing stats has implicit synthesis so we don't cite stats we would not expect to find in reliable sources about the subject. We're not here to provide our personal takes on things, just to report what is in reliable secondary sources. TFD (talk) 00:19, 9 May 2017 (UTC)
The extreme VDARE page is an ad absurdum case - a closer example is the Fox News article claim "94,700,000 US households ... receive the Fox News Channel". That would count as "implicit synthesis" by the definition proposed above, but I think it's acceptable - because the proposed "implicit synthesis" does not correspond to policy in wp:Synth. The Fox News claim is actually covered by SYNTH is not ubiquitous. Regarding NPOV/Balancing aspects (WP:BALASP), that can only be decided in the context of a whole article - I don't think it helps evaluate whether a specific claim is OR. Batternut (talk) 22:41, 9 May 2017 (UTC)

ron popeil

Mr. Ron Popeil received the award from the Electronic Retail Association (ERA) in 2001. I know, because I was having dinner with him and his staff/family at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:49, 23 April 2017‎ (UTC)

I checked the ERA's website and Ron Popeil did indeed receive the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001, not 2013 as stated in the article. It has been corrected and the ERA's website is cited.Roches (talk) 23:16, 22 May 2017 (UTC)

Brocard's problem

See recent history of Brocard's problem. An IP has repeatedly been adding an unpublished preprint (by someone whom I can't identify as a professional mathematician, so not a "recognized expert" in the sense of WP:SPS) with some computational claims. The claims look plausible, but my feeling is that unless/until they are actually published they are original research. Additional opinions welcome. —David Eppstein (talk) 04:22, 8 May 2017 (UTC)


Two related editors keep reintroducing a criticism section into the article. See The source is a New York times article that mentions Herrenknecht in an article on the Iranian nuclear program. The article makes no connection between Herrenknecht and the Iranian program and certainly does not speculate, as the two editors do, that "Herrenknecht's involvement is not known". Following this logic, maybe an article on the Disney corporation should also state that "Disney's involvement in the Iranian nuclear program is not known". Not sure why the editors keep reintroducing this paragraph, but I guess some editors are all to willing to remove IP edits on sight. 2A02:A451:8B2D:1:859A:89E8:28A7:B99D (talk) 17:55, 9 May 2017 (UTC)


Is a table like this one synth? No source connects all these quotes to each other. No More Mr Nice Guy (talk) 16:51, 15 May 2017 (UTC)


Recommend scrubbing of defamatory and dangerously over the top edit (see [2]). Quis separabit? 19:47, 16 May 2017 (UTC)

Taken care of. Thanks. Quis separabit? 01:14, 17 May 2017 (UTC)

Climate of Clearwater Beach

Recently, I came across the Clearwater Beach article and noticed an unsourced sentence regarding the climate: Clearwater Beach is officially classified as having a humid subtropical climate, however, the area is actually has more similarities with a tropical climate, resulting in hot, humid summers with frequent thunderstorms, and mild, dry winters. Although it's entirely unsourced, I assumed the first half of the sentence was correct, but the second half "however, the area is actually has more similarities with a tropical climate, resulting in hot, humid summers with frequent thunderstorms, and mild, dry winters" strikes me a WP:OR, so I removed it. Another editor disagrees with my removal and explanation of OR, but then added a source to back up his claim. I'm not aruging that his source is reliable, but despite it being called "U.S. Climate Atlas" is only a map and says nothing about climate, but temperatures in the US, nothing specific about Clearwater Beach. See the talk page for our "discussion". Thanks. Jauerbackdude?/dude. 18:59, 18 May 2017 (UTC)

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