Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard

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Colin Heaton's biography of Hans-Joachim Marseille

BLUF: Heaton & Lewis is an acceptable, reliable source for the article. Rationale: H&L have not produced a "scholarly" book on Marseille, but their quality is clear. Simply finding errors in their work(s) does not eliminate them as an acceptable source. (Indeed, scholars seek to "find errors" in the work of others as part of scholarly debate.) The caveat to this closing should be clear – while acceptable, the info H&L provide must be given proper weight per consensus. So, I recommend reducing the length of the Nazism section. In particular: Sheck is over-used; too much emphasis is given to the 1942 Germany visit and his piano playing; we do not have collaboration about his Holocaust concerns; and "several biographies" are not cited for "distain" of Nazism and Nazi leadership. – S. Rich (talk) 19:02, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

The source in question is Heaton, Colin; Lewis, Anne-Marie (2012). The Star of Africa: The Story of Hans Marseille, the Rogue Luftwaffe Ace. London, UK: Zenith Press. ISBN 978-0-7603-4393-7.

It is used several times for lengthy paragraphs in Hans-Joachim Marseille#Marseille and Nazism to make the case that Marseille was "openly anti-Nazi". I have argued at Talk:Hans-Joachim Marseille#Evidence for Marseille's "anti-Nazi" stand that these passages in Heaton's bio are almost exclusively based upon personal reminiscences by former comrades and Nazi persona like Karl Wolff, Artur Axmann, Hans Baur and Leni Riefenstahl, which are renowned for being talkative about the Nazi era and being apologetic at that. Their stories are not supported by other sources, but in fact appear to be very unlikely, if not impossible. Heaton's gives dates which contradict themselves and commits obvious errors. The stories he relates about Corporal Mathew Letulu [sic!], i.e. Mathew P. Letuku, contradict much better documented secondary literature. Apart from interviews, possibly conducted by himself, which is difficult to tell given the rudimentary nature of the footnotes, Heaton relies almost exclusively on two biographies, one by military pulp writer Franz Kurowski, the other a "tribute" by some Robert Tate. Based upon this evidence Heaton draws far reaching conclusions, namely that "Marseille was perhaps the most openly anti-Nazi warrior in the Third Reich." (p. 4) Given its focus upon oral evidence, collected somewhat 40 (?) years after the events, its poor editing and obvious errors, I consider that biography to be an unreliable source that should not be used excessively (and it is used for many more dubious claims) in a GA in the English Wikipedia, because it is misleading.--Assayer (talk) 20:14, 28 December 2016 (UTC)

I agree with you that this source is very weak for an article on a Nazi era figure. I wouldn't have a problem with it being mentioned as "some biographies say", i.e. carefully attributed. It seems to be overused at the moment. Itsmejudith (talk) 21:26, 28 December 2016 (UTC)
It seems to be usable only as evidence for what unreliable sources say, and I'd use it only when it is explicitly described as unreliable. Richard Keatinge (talk) 12:38, 30 December 2016 (UTC)
Nothing but opinions from an agenda-driven Wikipedia editor. Assayer wants Heaton off Wikipedia. He has failed to show Heaton unreliable. Those are the facts that matter.
I am also concerned with the comments from Itsmejudith. What do you know about the literature of aerial warfare in World War II? And how could you say that about a book you've never read?
I'd encourage people to have a look at the talk page of Hans-Joachim Marseille - where the complainant makes accusation and assertion with no evidence. Dapi89 (talk) 11:12, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
See WP:HISTRS. Popular books by non-historians are not reliable for the history of WW2. Itsmejudith (talk) 12:20, 3 January 2017 (UTC)
  • You are miss quoting what is a guideline; see section: What is historical scholarship. The question as to the book for evaluation is whether it is considered WP:RS or not; I do not know this work and therefore cannot offer an opinion. Kierzek (talk) 18:46, 26 January 2017 (UTC)
Unfortunately, biographical works by academic historians on members of the Wehrmacht or SS below the rank of general can be numbered on the fingers of one hand, so WP:HISTRS is useless and we must fall back upon the traditional methods of evaluating a book and its author like use of primary sources, use of puffery or biased language, etc. All that requires actually reading the book more thoroughly than a Google snippet can allow. I've never read Heaton so I really don't know if I'd consider him RS or not. Personally, I'd be most interested to see what Wübbe has to say.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 14:19, 3 January 2017 (UTC)
@Sturmvogel 66: On Wubbe, here's input from an editor familiar with this work: The book is 20% text and 80% pictures and copies of the original documents plus newspaper clippings. Source: User_talk:Dapi89/Archive_1#Hans Joachim Marseille. I.e. it's about 80% primary material, including unreliable war-time propaganda, and 20% commentary, also potentially unreliable given the slant of the publisher. The book was published by Verlag Siegfried Bublies -- de:Verlag Bublies, "a small, extreme-right publisher from Beltheim". K.e.coffman (talk) 17:24, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
He doesnt have a biography here, but from what I can google online he probably passes muster as a reliable source. Ex-military, ex-history professor, current historian and consultant for TV/Film on WW2. He is qualified in the area, has been published on the subject as well as earning a living from it for a significant time. If the only thing being held against him requires second-guessing him, thats not how WP:V works and is bordering on original research. Only in death does duty end (talk) 14:36, 3 January 2017 (UTC)
As to the argument that Heaton is "qualified in the area": According to Heaton's own CV on his own commercial website he holds a BA and two MA degrees in history, was consultant and adjunct professor to the online American Military University and guest historian for a single episode of a History channel programme. That's not very impressive. What is more, I looked for reviews of his works and could not find much. It seems, however, that Heaton regularly uses "oral testimony" from people involved. That is stressed by Stephen M. Miller in a recent review of Heaton's Four-War Boer for the Journal of African History (2016), commenting that the information of the interviews are not substantiated in the text or in the notes ("unfortunately") and Horst Boog, reviewing Heaton's Night Fighters (which is his MA thesis at Temple Univ.) for the Militärgeschichtliche Zeitschrift (2010). Boog also points to numerous errors, for example Heaton's estimate of 1.2 million civillian German bomb victims. (The highest estimate is actually 635,000 victims, recent research (Richard Overy) estimates 353,000 victims.) I might add that by now I am challenging the reliability of the book for a certain, controversial characterization of Jochen Marseille. Thus one does not need to read the whole book (which I did), because I refer to a couple of pages which are cited at length in the article, I point to the sources and how they are used and I point to the language.--Assayer (talk) 17:05, 4 January 2017 (UTC)
The above is a combination of original research which we dont do and actual genuine concerns. If multiple reliable sources have cast doubt on his credibility (critical reviews, peers countering his claims etc) then that does shed doubt on his useability in an article. Could you make a list of the sources critical of him/his book? Only in death does duty end (talk) 17:19, 4 January 2017 (UTC)

I've looked. Nothing. I did say earlier in this thread, this claim of unreliability is just an opinion of one editor. This type of personal attack on sources has been made across multiple threads and articles with the same old result. Heaton qualifies as reliable. Dapi89 (talk) 13:07, 6 January 2017 (UTC)
I'd like to add that you could find critical reviews about facets of any one of these academics work, even Overy and Miller. Using the differentials in casualty figures, which vary among all academics is a weak argument (never mind what the latest, supposedly new, research has to say, which doesn't automatically make it accurate anyway). And can you define victims? Anyone who suffered a gash from an air attack can be considered a victim. Such vague descriptions are unhelpful. Opinions are also unhelpful. Assayer is well aware of what is required here. Does this editor have reviews that are directly critical or not? Dapi89 (talk) 13:28, 6 January 2017 (UTC)
@Only in death: Could you please elaborate where you draw the line between OR and "genuine concerns"? Neither do I use unpublished sources nor do I come to a conclusion on my own. I simply hold what Heaton says against what other published sources say. Isn't that what User:Sturmvogel 66 asks for, if we don't have biographical works by academic historians at hand? How else could we evaluate the reliability of a publication, that is ignored by historiographical works? Please do also take into account how the material sourced to Heaton's biography is presented in the article, namely as factual accounts. Of course this is what Heaton does in his work: He weaves lengthy quotations of various anecdotes related to him through interviews into a coherent narrative. These anecdotes are not supported by third party sources and Heaton does not discuss their reliability. Thus many of the information can only be traced to oral testimony. Do we have to accept that as reliable, simply because Heaton does?
@Dapi89: Although I chose to ignore your continuous personal attacks I have to say that remarks like "Anyone who suffered a gash from an air attack can be considered a victim" are highly inappropriate. And the literature on aerial warfare in World War II is not that "vague".--Assayer (talk) 17:29, 8 January 2017 (UTC)
It's not an attack it is an observation on your behaviour. Those comments are entirely appropriate unless you feel the wounded don't count. I didn't say it was vague. I said you're vague. All this is hot air. You're trying to use discrepancies and differentials in accounts and figures, and unbelievably spelling differences (!!), to try and have an author discredited. OR is being kind. You're views are personal and tendentious. You're a polemist. End of story. Dapi89 (talk) 20:16, 8 January 2017 (UTC)

If Horst Boog, one of the most respected German authorities on aerial warfare during WW II, devotes a whole paragraph of his review to a list of errors, concluding that there were even more errors, then this does not add to an author's reliability as a source. I take notice that this biography is predominantly cosidered to be a "very weak" source, to say the least. One editor questioned the applicability of WP:HISTRS in cases such as this, while yet another considered the evaluation of certain claims against the background of other published sources as OR. The contradictions between these different approaches were not resolved. One editor rather commented on me than on the content, so that my evidence remains unchallenged. Maybe, as a piece of WP:FANCRUFT, the article in question is fittingly based upon anecdotes told by veterans and former Nazis. I find it troubling, however, that this is a GA by Wikipedia standards and short of FA status only because of the prose, not because of dubious content or unreliable sources.--Assayer (talk) 21:12, 12 January 2017 (UTC)

I've previously raised concerns about Heaton on the Talk page (Talk:Hans-Joachim Marseille#Unreliable sources tag) as a WP:QS source, due to problematic POV he exhibited in one of his articles. He has called an action of a German commander an "act of humanity". A "daring raid" or "skillful military ruse" would be okay, but "an act of humanity"? That is just bizarre. (See: Talk:2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich#Heaton. Comment from another editor was: "Heaton removed as biased pov and non WP:RS").
A related question, does Heaton indeed cite Franz Kurowski in his work? If yes, how extensively? K.e.coffman (talk) 03:53, 17 January 2017 (UTC)

"the applicability of WP:HISTRS" Assayer, what applicability? The link leads to Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources (history), which is an essay, neither policy, nor guideline. Per Wikipedia:Essays: "Essays have no official status, and do not speak for the Wikipedia community as they may be created without approval. Following the instructions or advice given in an essay is optional. There are currently about 2,000 essays on a wide range of Wikipedia related topics."

And this particular essay does not discount works of popular history: "Where scholarly works are unavailable, the highest quality commercial or popular works should be used." Dimadick (talk) 07:59, 17 January 2017 (UTC)

@Dimadick: I did not bring WP:HISTRS up, but User:Itsmejudith. I did find that comment more helpful than others, though, because it provided at least some kind of guidance. I did not argue, however, that "highest quality commercial or popular works" should never be used. In general the comments during this discussion were contradictory. But how would you determine the quality of sources?
@K.e.coffman: Heaton considers Kurowski's bio of Marseille to be "very good" (p. xiv). Given the number of Heaton's footnotes I would say about a third of them refer to Kurowski. I did not check every footnote, what and how much material he borrowed. Heaton's main source are his interviews. In chapter 4 "Learning the Ropes", for example, there are 21 references, six refer to Kurowski, the rest refer to interviews.--Assayer (talk) 19:59, 17 January 2017 (UTC)
@Dimadick: Does the editor consider Heaton to be high quality commercial / popular work? K.e.coffman (talk) 16:46, 18 January 2017 (UTC)
If you mean me, I am not particularly convinced of Heaton's quality. I just noted that the discussion was using an essay to ban popular history works. Dimadick (talk) 16:49, 18 January 2017 (UTC)
Thank you for the clarification. K.e.coffman (talk) 00:57, 19 January 2017 (UTC)
Assayer and K.e.coffman have used Wikipedia to attack sources about any German serviceman who served in World War II if it dares to complement their personal bravery or service record. Coffman has opposed the advancement of these articles, namely the Knight's Cross lists and has deleted hundreds of articles about these recipients. It should come as no surprise that their singular agenda here is to degrade and delete portions of the article that doesn't fit with their opinions. Assayer in particular has scoured the internet for anything he can find that is critical of Heaton. The tiny and weak tidbits of those academic(s) (just the one?) that are critical of small aspects of his work is nowhere near enough to decry Heaton. Virtually nothing else.
This attack on Heaton should be treated for what it is: OR and opinion by a pair of anonymous internet users. And they don't get to decide who is admitted to Wikipedia and who isn't. I'm glad at least one other editor can see that. Dapi89 (talk) 19:24, 18 January 2017 (UTC)
@Dapi89: "at least one other editor can see that" -- Which other editor is that? K.e.coffman (talk) 01:00, 19 January 2017 (UTC)

I found a review of Heaton's book on Marseille from Aviation History. Mar 2013, Vol. 23 Issue 4, p62-62. 1/2p.. It reads in part:

  • "Writing the biography of a 22-year-old, most of whose life remains undocumented, isn't easy. The only way to turn it into a book is lots of photographs (Kurowski's method) or this husband-and-wife team's choice, spending way too many pages reciting the exact details of 158 aerial combats…which in turn requires suspension of disbelief on the part of readers. How, exactly, did the authors know which rudder Marseille kicked and what the airspeed read, whether he pulled full flaps or skidded to avoid a pursuer's rounds, just what Marseille saw through his windscreen and exactly when he saw it?"

K.e.coffman (talk) 06:01, 20 January 2017 (UTC)

Which editor do you think? Or do you ignore posts you don't like?
So? If K.e.Coffman knew anything about Marseille, he'd know that through interviews with his commanding officers, and pilots in his units, Heaton is able to understand how he approached air combat. Marseille shared his knowledge with all those around him. I've seen interviews with Korner and Neumann that explicitly discuss Marseille's unorthodox tactics, some of which are sourced in the article. Simple really. Dapi89 (talk) 10:55, 20 January 2017 (UTC)
Perhaps K.e.Coffman needs to remember (if he knew, which I doubt), that 109 of the 158 claims filed by Marseille are recorded which included many combat reports with short but vivid descriptions of how he engaged the enemy in successful combats. Dapi89 (talk) 11:00, 20 January 2017 (UTC)
Editor Dapi89 state that criticism of Heaton was "nothing but opinions from an agenda-driven Wikipedia editor". I have provided a 3rd party review of Heaton's work on Marseille, which points out that the work is close to being historical fiction in its depictions of the areal battles ("requires suspension of disbelief on the part of readers"). Is this review also wrong? K.e.coffman (talk) 20:52, 22 January 2017 (UTC)
That says what exactly!? I repeat; the reviewer and it's number one wikipedia fan don't seem to understand that actions, tactics and the subject's point of view are quite easy to record.
And even if this reviewer had something insightful and factually accurate to say, using it to attack and remove another source from Wikipedia shows the agenda driven nature of the attacking editor. It shows K.e.Coffman, you're not interested in researching the subject for its own sake, but scratching around for dirt you can throw at Heaton. It is absurd to contemplate labelling Heaton unreliable because he receives some form of criticism from someone who likely is not an authority on Marseille. Heaton is.
It should be obvious the reviewer, whoever they maybe, is too ignorant to be entertained. Dapi89 (talk) 23:26, 22 January 2017 (UTC)
@Dapi89: please see: WP:no personal attacks.
The review is of the work under discussion, it's by "Wilkinson, Stephan" from the Aviation History magazine. Unless the magazine is not reputable, I don't see how a 3rd party review can be dismissed on the grounds that (in the opinion of one editor) it's been shared by "agenda-driven" contributor to "scratch around for dirt [to] throw at Heaton". K.e.coffman (talk) 23:49, 22 January 2017 (UTC)
It isn't an attack. It's an observation. Understand the difference. I've lost count of the number of editors that have said the same thing.
Once more, you are using a non-expert source to attack the credibility of biographer. That is OR and Tendentious. You can see why a score or more of editors regard you as agenda driven. You've spent the last few months doing this type of thing. Your efforts to destroy the article on German personnel won't be tolerated without exceptionally good reason. Dapi89 (talk) 07:32, 23 January 2017 (UTC)

Summary on Heaton

Summarising, as the discussion has been long and involved:

  • this source is very weak for an article on a Nazi era figure via Itsmejudith
  • It seems to be usable only as evidence for what unreliable sources say, and I'd use it only when it is explicitly described as unreliable via Richard Keatinge
  • He doesnt have a biography here, but from what I can google online he probably passes muster as a reliable source. Ex-military, ex-history professor, current historian and consultant for TV/Film on WW2 via Only in death
  • I've never read Heaton so I really don't know if I'd consider him RS or not via Sturmvogel 66
  • I am not particularly convinced of Heaton's quality via Dimadick

K.e.coffman (talk) 02:36, 26 January 2017 (UTC)

How many times do you have to be told, that you don't get to decide whether a source is reliable. Neither does anybody else, unless they can provide good cause.
The personal opinions of Wikipedia editors are useless. Dapi89 (talk) 21:36, 27 January 2017 (UTC)
@Only in death: I was able to clarify that evaluation of sources is not original research; please see this discussion: Wikipedia talk:No original research#Evaluation of sources. K.e.coffman (talk) 23:42, 27 January 2017 (UTC)
You were not evaluating a source. You don't like it. You made a decision it had to go, then scoured the internet for anything that would support your pre-existing prejudices against sources that write about German military personnel and that don't label them Nazis or falsifiers of their own records. Using anonymous reviews, from non-experts to ban sources about which they offer only the very slightest of criticism is tendentious AND OR. Dapi89 (talk) 13:18, 28 January 2017 (UTC)
Please visit Wikipedia talk:No original research#Evaluation of sources and engage with the editors there. K.e.coffman (talk) 00:11, 29 January 2017 (UTC)
I don't need to. You're behaviour encompasses more than OR, also Tendentious and selective editing. Dapi89 (talk) 12:48, 29 January 2017 (UTC)
The above comment incorrectly identifies historian Horst Boog as a "non-expert". He was the pre-eminent expert on the Luftwaffe operations during World War II, having contributed to three volumes of the seminal series Germany and the Second World War.
General note: this is a noticeboard to discuss reliability of sources, not user behaviour. For the latter, please see Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents. K.e.coffman (talk) 03:55, 1 February 2017 (UTC)

Second summary on Heaton

  • This discussion has been going on for more than a month now. It is fair to say that no consensus has developed that this source is unreliable. Let's close this discussion per WP:DROPTHESTICK. --Nug (talk) 09:52, 1 February 2017 (UTC)
  • I do not see it this way.
  • Three editors expressed concerns about the source (see above).
  • The nom expressed concerns.
  • I've not considered Heaton to be reliable since encountering content cited to him at SS Division Das Reich.
  • One editor stated that Heaton is probably RS and expressed concerns over OR in evaluating the source, but have not come back to the discussion.
  • One editor has expressed an opinion that Heaton is RS.
Thus, the rough consensus seems clear to me that Heaton is not a suitable source for the claims in the article. K.e.coffman (talk) 20:10, 1 February 2017 (UTC)
  • Expressing a concern isn't the same as declaring it unreliable. You have misrepresented what the various editors have said in your summary. For example you quote Itsmejudith: this source is very weak for an article on a Nazi era figure but omit her next sentence: I wouldn't have a problem with it being ... carefully attributed. Only you have openly stated this source is unreliable, but two stated it is RS, well make that three since Itsmejudith thinks it okay if properly attributed, actually make that four as I think Heaton is a reliable source for his own opinion that "Marseille was perhaps the most openly anti-Nazi warrior in the Third Reich." --Nug (talk) 21:03, 1 February 2017 (UTC)
He's a reliable source for the decades-later reports of people with a strong point of view. This does not suggest that his interpretations are reliable for the sort of judgements that are being made about "anti-Nazi" attitudes in the early 1940s. He is on the margins of usability, and then only when appropriately framed and very carefully used. Richard Keatinge (talk) 14:29, 2 February 2017 (UTC)
I started this debate to get some additional input whether this particular source is reliable for the content it supports and I would like to thank you for the input. As a reminder: In the article in question Heaton's biography of Marseille is not simply used to present Heaton's opinion. Instead numerous anecdotes and stories related to Heaton through interviews and quoted by him at length are presented as facts.(Perma) It seems fair to summarize that Heaton is a reliable source for his own opinion and for the decades-later reports of people with a strong point of view. Thus the consensus of this debate is that these opinions and reports are to be carefully attributed.--Assayer (talk) 00:24, 3 February 2017 (UTC)
No I don't think that is a fair conclusion. While Heaton's opinion with respect to Marseille's anti-Nazi sentiment should be attributed, there is nothing to suggest that the numerous anecdotes and stories related to Heaton through interviews and quoted by him are unreliable. In fact a review of his book by the journal Military Review in the March-April 2015 edition states "A well-written, insightful, quality book, it entertains while it educates; it is highly recommended."[1] --Nug (talk) 02:32, 5 February 2017 (UTC)
@Nug: Since you seem to offer dissent to my conclusion that opinions and "decades-later reports" were to be attributed, please clarify: Do you argue that the anecdotes and stories that can be found in Heaton's bio are to be accepted as fact and presented as such in a Wikipedia article? Because my argument is that anecdotes and "decades-later reports of people with a strong point of view" are in general biased and opinionated and thus should be dealt with according to WP:BIASED, i.e., with WP:INTEXT at the least, although in regard to the details I would point to WP:ONUS and WP:EXCEPTIONAL. That anecdotes by former Nazis and comrades are quoted at length by Colin Heaton may add color to the picture, but does not transform their anecdotes into truthful, objective, reliable, and accurate representations of historical truth. I have specified my concerns on the talk page of the article, so you might look for examples there.--Assayer (talk) 15:06, 7 February 2017 (UTC)
Do you have a source that backs your conclusion? I've provided a review published in the journal Military Review that highly recommends the book. I see you have ignored that. This discussion has been going on for weeks here, perhaps time to accept there is no consensus for your opinion and WP:DROPTHESTICK now? --Nug (talk) 00:30, 18 February 2017 (UTC)
Thank you for clarification. So I'll take notice, that because of a review by Major Chris Buckham, a Logistics Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force and graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada with a BA in Political Science and an MA in International Relations, you think that "first-person anecdotes and interviews with many of [Marseille's] former commanders and colleagues" (Buckham) conducted by Heaton are to be considered factual accounts and can be presented accordingly. Since you are asking for sources, please take note of the extensive material I have presented here and on the talk page of the article. I may remind you, moreover, that Dapi89, who is also very much in favor of those anecdotes, has already thrown out a slightly less favorable review of the book in question by stating, and I am quoting only his more civilized words, It is absurd to contemplate labelling Heaton unreliable because he receives some form of criticism from someone who likely is not an authority on Marseille. He considers this as OR and Tendentious. By that logic Heaton cannot be labelled reliable because of some praise he may have received by a non-expert, or can he? Unless, of course, this is not about sorting reviews by pre-existing prejudices in favor of Heaton. Consensus does not necessarily mean that every editor agrees on every issue. It is the quality of the argument that matters.--Assayer (talk) 03:32, 18 February 2017 (UTC)
So to clarify, are you saying that the opinion of an anonymous Wikipedia editor of unknown academic qualifications, self-published on this notice board, carries more weight than the opinion of an identified academically qualified military officer published in the leading professional journal of the US Army? Seriously? --Nug (talk) 08:49, 18 February 2017 (UTC)
No, I don't say that Dapi89's opinions carry a particular weight, in fact, I find most of them unsubstantiated and focused on personal attacks rather than content. I would not summarily label any reviewer as unqualified, but wanted to point out, that you cannot choose reviews to your liking. I have done what is essential for any historian as for any Wikipedian, namely checked the source against other research sources. In view of the expertise by the MGFA and other evidence I consider Heaton's narrative to be WP:EXCEPTIONAL. It is almost exclusively based upon anecdotal evidence, which, as any textbook on the methods of oral history will tell you, is factually unreliable. As Marc Bloch has famously put it: "The most naĩve policeman knows that a witness should not always be taken at by his word, even if he does not always take full advantage of this theoretical knowledge". (The Historian's Craft, 1954ff.)--Assayer (talk) 20:28, 18 February 2017 (UTC)
I was referring to your opinion, you seem to be saying that we should place more weight on your opinion than the opinions published in reliable sources like Military Review. Indeed, you cannot choose reviews to your liking, but you have not provided any other review of Heaton's book. MGFA does not mention Heaton's book, so where are you sourcing these reviews you claim call Heaton's work into question? --Nug (talk) 01:15, 19 February 2017 (UTC)
First of all, in his short and broad review Major Buckham does not address the specific issues I have raised. (I might add that he finds nearly every book that he reviews to be "insightful". See his blog, The military reviewer.) Second, above you'll find another reviewer being quoted, who asks how exactly the authors found out about all the details. That review has been discarded by Dapi89 as non-authorative with an argument which basically discards any review as non-authorative. Third, it remains undisputed that Heaton's evidence are anecdotes and interviews. He has somewhat routinely used this "oral history"-method in other books, too, and reviewers have been critical of the reliability of those interviews. And rightly so because, fourth, as of January 2013 the MGFA has denied that any serious historiographical study of Marseille existed, and did not bother to even mention Kurowski's, Tate's and Wübbe's earlier works either. It noted, however, that attempts by popular literature to suggest an ideological distance between Marseille and Nazism are misleading. Thus Heaton's claims are exceptional and should be backed up by multiple high-quality sources, before they are being accepted as plain facts. But I keep repeating myself and would suggest to take further discussion to the talk page.--Assayer (talk) 04:06, 19 February 2017 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I concur with the above; the strongest case against the Heaton source when used for the subject's anti-Nazi credentials is that the author's opinions are not supported (and in fact directly contradicted) by the military historians at the Center for Military History and Social Sciences of the Bundeswehr (formerly MGFA). K.e.coffman (talk) 05:27, 24 February 2017 (UTC)

You would. More opinion, no proof. Again, lots of "I think" in all this. I am going to repeat Nug's question: where are you sourcing these reviews you claim call Heaton's work into question? I don't want more elaborate complaints and opinions as to why Heaton should be banned from wikipedia. I want you to tell me where there are concerns from other parties - preferably by published authorities on the Luftwaffe and Marseille. Dapi89 (talk) 11:44, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
One more thing: that Heaton is "directly contradicted by the military historians at the [[Center for Military History and Social Sciences of the Bundeswehr" is false. They do not say that he was or he wasn't a Nazi. They say they are not aware of any 'outstanding' deed to show he wasn't. One doesn't have to show any act or "deed" to show they are/were not a Nazi. Heaton's book is based on those who knew him. And they say his politics were in sharp contradiction to everything National Socialism stood for. Dapi89 (talk) 13:40, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
Heaton's book is based on decades-later anecdotes related in a deeply-changed political climate. It is at best on the very margins of usability, if carefully attributed. Richard Keatinge (talk) 14:04, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
Source for your claim? Or is this another opinion? Dapi89 (talk) 16:19, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
  • Comment I was asked to comment on this issue, but can better make only a general comment about sources in this area:
Essentially all biographies emphasise the importance of their subject
All biographies contain quotation about what the subject has themselves said at various occasions. It can be assumed that all such statements are self-serving. There will be various statements at various times , and it is easy to cherry-pick the one that is desired..
All references to an author's work are intended to appear balanced, unless intended as an attack piece. They will therefore contain both positive and negative statements, and it is easy to cherry-pick the one that is desired.
All members of an organization involved in immoral or illegal behavior will try to minimize their personal responsibility. In particular, all members of the German army in world war Two writing for an external audience will claim to be anti-Nazi, at least as compared to other people. (though there are a few who will instead glorify their past actions)
It is almost impossible for an historian or biographer to avoid developing a bias about the period or events or people they are describing. Some do this more successfully than others, but bias always exists. DGG ( talk ) 01:02, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

Requested a close

I've requested a close at Request for closure noticeboard. K.e.coffman (talk) 03:11, 2 March 2017 (UTC)

Yes, it has been open for long enough and I would say that no consensus has occurred. But with that said, leave the finial word to the closer. Kierzek (talk) 14:23, 6 March 2017 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Sources on Estonian police battalion


  • Collaboration with the Nazis: Public Discourse after the Holocaust, edited by Roni Stauber; chapter by Yitzhak Arad
  • "The report deals with the role Estonian auxiliarry forces in crimes committed outside of Estonia. ... On 7 August 1942, Estonian police battalion No 36 took part in the round-up and execution of all remaining Jews..." (somewhat loose paraphrasing, exact quote in the link)
  • The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945; edited by Geoffrey P. Megargee:
  • "On August 7 1942, the Germans and their collaborators (including Estonian Police Battalion 36 ...) took away the remaining inmates (...) and shot them there": link.
  • In contrast, Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity states: "There is no reliable data concerning the participation of members of the 36th Estonian Defence Battalion in the execution of Jews". ("Estonian defence battalions / police battalions". In Toomas Hiio; Meelis Maripuu; Indrek Paavle. Estonia 1940–1945: Reports of the Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity. Tallinn. pp. 825–876)

Article: 36th Estonian Police Battalion

Content: "In August 1942, the battalion participated in the murder of Jews in Novogrudok, Belarus."

The relevant Talk page discussion can be found here: Talk:36th_Estonian_Police_Battalion#Novogrudok. Courtesy ping to Nug & Jaan. I would appreciate additional input on this matter. K.e.coffman (talk) 01:35, 6 April 2017 (UTC)

It's very interesting that the West German investigation in the early '60s could not prove participation in the killing as I wouldn't think that they'd have any reason to whitewash the Communist gov't of the time. I think that what we have here is reliable sources on both sides, so I'd suggest laying out the evidence like so: "The battalion has been accused of participating in the killings of Jews at X, on Y, (sources) but a West German investigation in the early 1960s could not conclusively link its members to the action(source)" and let the reader decide. RSN isn't meant to decide which evidence is the "best", and that's all I'm afraid that we could accomplish here.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 02:12, 6 April 2017 (UTC)
I wonder if there might be some clarification in the text of the second source, or possibly in any sources these themselves cite. I say this because the sources don't necessarily contradict. The first states the role the police played in the killings cannot be determined, whereas the second states that there is no evidence they participated in the executions. If the two sources are taking very different interpretations of "involvement", they might actually agree. Someguy1221 (talk) 06:46, 6 April 2017 (UTC)
The talk page discussion mentions WP:WPNOTRS, and claims that we shouldn't use tertiary sources. However, WP:WPNOTRS doesn't really say that - it says secondary sources are preferred but tertiary sources are reliable also. In practice, we use specialty encyclopedias quite a lot, as they are often written by experts in the field they cover. I'd consider The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos to be a specialty encyclopedia that is probably quite a good source for information on its subject matter. And I'll also note that the three volumes of the The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos are quite extensively researched and do actually include sources for most entries. I don't have the first volume available at the moment (even I quail at buying the books - they are pricey!) but I do have the second volume here at hand and a glance through shows every article has a list of sources as well as most having footnotes. I'd suggest getting the book through interlibrary loan and consulting whatever sources are used for the entry snippeted above. Ealdgyth - Talk 14:44, 6 April 2017 (UTC)
And the work on Collaboration is also post-Cold War and the section by Arad would definitely be considered a reliable source for this subject, as Arad is a researcher in the field of the Holocaust in the Baltics. His work is most definitely NOT a tertiary source, it is in fact a secondary source also. He may be wrong, but its equally likely the commission was wrong also - especially if it based its conclusions on a West German commission from 1971, prior to the opening of many archives after the Cold War. Ealdgyth - Talk 14:51, 6 April 2017 (UTC)
Your point about the West German commission not having full access to archival data is a good one, but none of these sources can be impeached as they're all post-Cold War and the commission doesn't even have any Estonian nationals as members. I'd need to see the sources myself, to see which way the preponderance of evidence lies if I were writing this article myself. But really, this is disagreement between reliable sources and should be discussed either in the main body of the article or a footnote, not a RS issue at all.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 15:03, 6 April 2017 (UTC)
Oh, I don't think we should take sides on either side - it appears to be a disagreement between sources ... all of which appear reliable. The ideal solution is to cover the controversy in the article. Both sides should be presented, and other sources brought to bear. A good start would be getting the Encyclopedia and seeing what sources it used. Ealdgyth - Talk 16:54, 6 April 2017 (UTC)
I would first also cite this close study in Estonian, that, based on historical documents and interviews with historians also comes to the conclusion that there is no evidence to suggest the police battalion participated in the roundup of the Jews. And let me also point out that this is not a case of poor or missing documentation. The main discrepancy between the sources seems to be generality vs. specificity. The sources that claim the role of the police battalion may be generally reliable and use reliable PS but in this specific case either do not specify their sources or rely on indirect evidence, e.g. "The reports of this squad report many entries on "military action against partisans," a phrase which conceals punitive measures against citizens and the killing of Jews."
The dispute between the sources is not notable enough to warrant a passage in the article so my suggestion is to include it in a footnote. --Jaan Pärn (talk) 21:54, 7 April 2017 (UTC)
The Ekspress source appears to be a general newspaper - at least I see articles on movies and other such topics on the main page of it. Google translate gives a very very rough translation which appears to be either a letter to the editor or an editoriak, which is supported by the translation of "PEKKA ERELT, EESTI EKSPRESSI AJALOOKÜLGEDE TOIMETAJA" which google gives as "PEKKA Erelt, Eesti Ekspress HISTORY sides of EDITOR". I'd suggest that the Ekspress is not exactly a scholarly secondary source here. Certainly, there appears to be a commission that does not think the brigade took part in the events. Unfortunately, an unsigned newspaper article is not a strong source contradicting the United States Holocaust Museum's encyclopedia of the various German labor/extermination camps, nor Arad, who is a scholar working in the field. Ealdgyth - Talk 12:44, 9 April 2017 (UTC)
Pekka Erelt is the editor of the history section of the Eesti Ekspress. His article may not be scholarly but it is investigative journalism. Even if we do not consider his own discussion, we should not dismiss the quotes by professional historians Meelis Maripuu, Argo Kaasik and Enn Kaup in his article. And again, this is a matter of specificity. The core of this problem is trusting a general RS over specific investigation on this matter. And, again, the conclusions of the Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity are not another opinion of 'a commission' but the conclusions of the commission established to investigate crimes by Estonian citizens. --Jaan Pärn (talk) 10:59, 10 April 2017 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── It appears that the commission does not rule out the possibility that the Police Battalion participated in the massacre. If I'm Google translating it correctly, the opening para of the Estee Ekspress reads:

  • Novogrudok, Belarus received notoriety among Estonians lately. Allegedly, the 36th Police Battalion took part in the mass murder of Jews committed there in August 1942. At least, Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center is certain of it. The wording in the report by the Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity is more modest; the report, however, did not rule out the participation of the Estonians. (Not sure if "more modest" is the correct translation.) link
It seems to be an incident of significance & deserves more than a footnote in the article, IMO. K.e.coffman (talk) 03:41, 14 April 2017 (UTC)
The Eesti Ekspress article was written in 2002, while the commission's work was still in progress, so obviously the commission "did not rule out the participation of the Estonians" at that time because it hadn't completed it's review of all the available evidence, including the 1960's West German investigation and post-war Soviet investigations. The commission's final report, published in 2006, concluded there was no evidence found relating to the participation of 36th Battalion. --Nug (talk) 04:10, 14 April 2017 (UTC)
From the Talk page: The report states on page 861 that the 36th Police Battalion was investigated in the Federal Republic of Germany between 1967 to 1971 and no evidence was found -- "no evidence found" does not mean that the commission established that the Police Battalion did not participate. What was the commission's conclusion? (As an aside, I would not put too much weight into a criminal investigation in West Germany in the 1960-10s, due to various reasons, which are too long to get in here). K.e.coffman (talk) 04:39, 14 April 2017 (UTC)
Why wouldn't you put too much weight on a criminal investigation of West German Police in 1960-70? I could understand your concern if they where investigating their own countrymen, but they spent four years investigating a non-German unit composed of nationals from the then Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. The Commission states on page 862 of their final report: According to data gathered by Israeli police in September 1963, about 2000 and atleast 3000 Jews were murdered in Diatlovo and Nowogrodek on 6 and 7 August 1942 respectively. There is no reliable data concerning the participation of members of the 36th Estonian Defence Battalion in the execution of Jews. Contemporary researchers accuse the local German gendarmerie, one Lithuanian unit and a Belorussian defence battalion of these specific actions.[163]. Footnote [163] cites Christian Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde : Die deutche Wirtschafts und Vernichtungspolitik in Wießrußland 1941 bis 1944, Hamburg, 2000, pp. 701-702. --Nug (talk) 01:19, 16 April 2017 (UTC)
Note re: "investigating a non-German unit composed of nationals from the then Soviet Union" -- presumably, the members of the Battalion retreated with the Germans and were residing either in West Germany or elsewhere in Western Europe; the Battalion's commander, Harald Riipalu, emigrated to the U.K, for example. K.e.coffman (talk) 00:02, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
Don't see how that is significant, given that the majority of the Battalion where captured by the Soviets. Upon what basis do you dismiss investigations of West German police? As I understand it, there was an issue in the late 1950's to early 1960's in regard to the Police investigating their own members who may have committed crimes during the Nazi period, but I think it is too much to claim that this would have impeded investigations of foreign personnel in the late 60's to early 70's. --Nug (talk) 10:04, 18 April 2017 (UTC)

Conclusions of the Commission

I tracked down the Commission's conclusions, and here's what the document says:

  • "The study of Estonian military units is complicated by frequent changes in unit designation, in personnel and in duties, some of which are poorly recorded. However, it has been possible by careful use of Soviet era trial records, matched against material from the Estonian archives, to determine that Estonian units took an active part in at least one well-documented round-up and mass murder in Belarus. The 36th Police Battalion participated on August 7, 1942 in the gathering together and shooting of almost all the Jews still surviving in the town of Novogrudok.
"In the published records, this unit was described as fighting against partisans at the time. The Commission believes that although there clearly were numerous engagements between police units and partisans, "fighting against partisans" and "guarding prisoner of war camps" were at times ways of describing participation in actions against civilians, including Jews."

This is stated on page XXI: Conclusions of the Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity (PDF). So I really don't see the contradiction between the finding of the Commission, The Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos and Yitzhak Arad.

Does the statement "There is no reliable data concerning the participation of members of the 36th Estonian Defence Battalion in the execution of Jews" perhaps refer to the act of actually pulling the trigger? Unless I'm missing something, the sources agree that the Battalion in question was indeed involved. Ping those who have previously participated: @Nug, Ealdgyth, and Sturmvogel 66: to have a look. K.e.coffman (talk) 00:02, 18 April 2017 (UTC)

Seems that both The Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos and Yitzhak Arad are paraphrasing this document you found, so obviously there would not be any contradiction. The basis of this appears to be the view that "fighting against partisans" was code for killing Jewish civilians. But it isn't clear how they arrived at that, as it appears to contradict the main body of the report itself, which devotes several pages to the activities of the Battalion and asserts there no reliable data concerning the participation of members of the 36th Estonian Defence Battalion. Are you able to access Gerlach's work and quote the original German here, perhaps that may shed further light, I've given the relevant page numbers above. --Nug (talk) 10:04, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
This document [I] found comes from the website of the commission and is called "Conclusions of the Commission". Are you saying that the Commission is contradicting its own conclusions? There's got to be more context around this. K.e.coffman (talk) 10:58, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
No, I said it appears to contradict the main body of the report itself, which explicitly states "There is no reliable data concerning the participation of members of the 36th Estonian Defence Battalion in the execution of Jews". Do you have access to Gerlach's work Kalkulierte Morde, pp701-702? --Nug (talk) 11:39, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
Sorry, I don't have access to Gerlach. If I sent you an email, would you be able to scan and email the relevant pages from the main body of the report (assuming its in English)? I'd like to see more context around their conclusion. K.e.coffman (talk) 22:57, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
That is a pity, with you being able to cite more obscure German historians, like Sönke Neitzel and Wolfgang Schneider, in other articles, you may have also had access to Gerlach. I can scan the relevant pages, but I don't have easy access to a scanner, perhaps I could go to the local library over the weekend. --Nug (talk) 05:39, 20 April 2017 (UTC)
Thanks, I would look forward to it. BTW, Sönke Neitzel is not at all obscure. He is a leading German military historian; his 2011 book Soldaten: German POWs on Fighting, Killing, and Dying (with Harald Welzer) was a sensation in Germany. The book was published in English and is even available as an audio book. It's a fascinating read; I highly recommend it. See also this interview (in English):
  • "Mindset of WWII German Soldiers": video interview with Neitzel discussing Soldaten, via the official YouTube channel of The Agenda (TVOntario).
K.e.coffman (talk) 19:16, 20 April 2017 (UTC)

Use of

Today I noticed while editing a page that a user @Huldra: was citing an odd website for many Palestinian villages. In fact, all Palestinian village articles Huldra writes cite this website. Now granted, this website does present legitimate info on little-known towns or villages that would probably be almost impossible to find elsewhere but, do you notice something off about this website?. Here's a picture of the front page of the website, I highlighted everything showing clear bias. And for the sake of being thorough, I went and checked some of these links.

  • The piece called The Spartan Jew - which says the Holocaust is nothing but an excuse for Zionists to use to justify militarism
  • The "Zionist FAQ" which is so disgusting I can't fit it into one image
  • Numerous citations of straight-up lies, this one is my personal favorite.
  • Obviously unfounded claims of ethnic cleansing, which speaks for itself in these pictures.

So yeah, I don't think this is a very neutral source. Yet, it's largely the sole ref for most of Huldra's pages. BedrockPerson (talk) 21:17, 17 April 2017 (UTC)

The one information I use from the site is citing for the Village Statistics, 1945 data from this book:
  • Hadawi, Sami (1970). Village Statistics of 1945: A Classification of Land and Area ownership in Palestine. Palestine Liberation Organization Research Center. 
....which happens to be hosted on the palestineremembered site. There has never been any suggestion that the palestineremembered has falsified the Hadawi book. In any case, I also link to
  • Department of Statistics (1945). Village Statistics, April, 1945. Government of Palestine. 
....that is hosted by the Israeli National Library, so anyone can recheck that the info is correct. Huldra (talk) 21:25, 17 April 2017 (UTC)
@Huldra: Yeah, on that note actually, I really do want to stress the part in my initial post where I stressed "this website does present legitimate info on little-known towns or villages that would probably be almost impossible to find elsewhere", and it's clear Huldra cited this aforementioned legit info. So, IDK if this is really no issue or if the otherwise unfit info that can be found on the website somehow detracts from the legitimacy without exception. Again, IDK. Just wanted it brought to attention. BedrockPerson (talk) 21:28, 17 April 2017 (UTC)
@BedrockPerson: If you search for palestineremembered up there where it says Search this noticeboard & archives you will find that this has been discussed many, many times. Generally, it is not a WP:RS site, except for the Hadawi material. We keep it as a WP:EL link, though (there are many great pictures there, which we cannot see anywhere else) Huldra (talk) 21:35, 17 April 2017 (UTC)
@Huldra: Actually, I just checked. In 244 archives of this page, this website is not mentioned once. This is the first time it's been reported. BedrockPerson (talk) 16:38, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
@BedrockPerson: How did you miss, say Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Noticeboard/ Huldra (talk) 19:59, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
@Huldra: The same way you thought one mention somehow means it was "discussed many, many times" BedrockPerson (talk) 21:33, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
@BedrockPerson: Sigh. It is discussed many times, search for palestineremembered. (I get 8 hits when searching for that, while you get 0?) I just linked one example, to show the most relevant. (And we don't really need more than one example, do we?) Huldra (talk) 21:41, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
@Huldra: I swear, I've looked it up on the search bar on this page, the search bar on top, only result is this one. Every time. BedrockPerson (talk) 23:38, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
@BedrockPerson: 1 is still not 0. And it is also mentioned, say at Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard/Archive 34. But again, we really only need one discussion of it, don't we? Unless new opinions form. Also, it has been discussed many other places... say here. Again, the established consensus is that we don't use it as source, except for the Hadawi figures.Huldra (talk) 23:54, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
@Huldra: No, you don't understand, I should've clarified: this page was the one result that showed up. There were no others. Just this one. BedrockPerson (talk) 13:59, 20 April 2017 (UTC)
There are in fact more results in the archive, but under "" rather than ".org". Try using "palestineremembered prefix:Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard", although that brings up a few results related to a user of the same name. Alcherin (talk) 19:02, 20 April 2017 (UTC)

BBC One – Antiques Roadshow

Is BBC One – Antiques Roadshow a reliable source? It's cited on the Spandau Prison article as proof that there's a surviving brick from the prison that was demolished in 1987.--Jim in Georgia Contribs Talk 19:13, 18 April 2017 (UTC)

In the specific context it is used, yes. It is used as a primary source for the statement that the brick appeared on the show. In fact, the most reliable source possible for the statement "X appeared on an episode of Antiques Roadshow" is the episode of Antiques Roadshow where X appeared.
That said... I am not at all sure that this bit of TV trivia is worth mentioning in our article on the prison. Blueboar (talk) 20:04, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
Thanks; it's about to become history.--Jim in Georgia Contribs Talk 20:11, 18 April 2017 (UTC)

Discussion concerning al-Masdar

Hello RSN,

We have an RFC discussion concerning al-Masdar at Talk:Battle of Aleppo (2012–16), feel free to chime in. EtienneDolet (talk) 02:28, 19 April 2017 (UTC)

Just to further qualify Étienne Dolet's notification, the RfC is essentially a blanket proposal to use Al-Masdar News as a reliable source for that article (and, implicitly, that it should be used as a reliable source without any form of attribution for that topic area broadly construed). --Iryna Harpy (talk) 20:46, 19 April 2017 (UTC)

A "Development" section in a Street Fighter ’87 entry

A link on feature about an original Street Fighter dev team is no more available with a "Service Unavailable - DNS failure" response. Gleb95 (talk) 06:33, 19 April 2017 (UTC)

  • Linksearch en (https) - meta - de - fr - simple - wikt:en - wikt:frMER-C X-wiki • Reports: Links on en - COIBot - COIBot-Local • Discussions: tracked - advanced • COIBot-Link, Local, & XWiki Reports - Wikipedia: en - fr - de • Google: searchmeta • Domain:

The website is used as a reference on over 100 Wikipedia articles. It seems to be used to support claims that are mainly celebrity gossip. This website is described at DJ Vlad as "the TMZ of hip-hop". The website appears to have been added to many articles by users who include it as a reference for every one of their contributions, suggesting WP:REFSPAM. What do others think of this website? Deli nk (talk) 19:17, 19 April 2017 (UTC)

  • oh hell no. Yes this is a tabloid. Kill it with fire everywhere it is used. Nice catch. Jytdog (talk) 04:40, 22 April 2017 (UTC)
I'll start working on removing it, and any associated inappropriate content, but it may take awhile. Deli nk (talk) 16:15, 22 April 2017 (UTC)
I did some reviewing/replacing and that is a walk on the ugly side of Wikipedia. So much gossipy trash content about celebrities. ugh. Jytdog (talk) 02:27, 23 April 2017 (UTC)


The reference

"Pie And Mash Shops". Retrieved 30 December 2012. 

is cited three times within the article Pie and mash. Both the cited article itself and the WP article h2g2 suggest to me that -- "h2g2: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Earth Edition" -- would fail (by WP:USERGENERATED) to qualify as a citeable source. Do I misunderstand the nature of h2g2? -- Hoary (talk) 03:50, 20 April 2017 (UTC)

You nailed it per their "contribute" page. Should not be cited in WP. Nice catch. Jytdog (talk) 04:39, 22 April 2017 (UTC)
Thank you, Jytdog. It looked cut and dried to me, but I wondered if I might be missing something. -- Hoary (talk) 07:07, 22 April 2017 (UTC)

Vladimir Lenin

Fischer, Louis (1964). The Life of Lenin. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

  • In 1964 many Lenin's texts were classified.
  • Louis Fischer was a journalist, not a historian. He had emotional problems with Communism, first a supporter, later a critic.Xx236 (talk) 05:35, 20 April 2017 (UTC)
  • Lenin was anti-imperialist, and believed that all nations deserved "the right of self-determination".[1] - the statement misinforms. Lenin opposed foreign imperialism but he recreated the Russian empire. Georgia didn't have "the right of self-determination", so apparently Lenin rejected the idea.


  1. ^ Fischer 1964, p. 87.
--Xx236 (talk) 05:40, 20 April 2017 (UTC)
Shub, David (1966). Lenin: A Biography (revised ed.). London: Pelican.
  • The book was published in 1949. Shub was a revolutionary. Such text should be studied as a historiical source, not a contemporary book, Xx236 (talk) 08:09, 20 April 2017 (UTC)

Sources for a Syrian actress' date and place of birth

In a new article about Kinda Hanna, there is an editor who would like to source content about her place of birth and date of birth (the latter a sensitive BLP issue, at times), to the following 3 sources:

  • الموت يغيب والد الفنانة كندة حنا
  • وفاة والد كندة حنا
  • وفاة والد الممثلة السورية كندة حنا

Are those sources reliable for that content? (we have looked and don't have any English; these are what are being proposed) Thanks Jytdog (talk) 06:12, 20 April 2017 (UTC)

Would be super helpful to get feedback. thx. Jytdog (talk) 03:55, 21 April 2017 (UTC)
crickets. There is a dispute here and input would be helpful. Jytdog (talk) 02:26, 23 April 2017 (UTC)

Why is a reliable source

For whatever reason there are some editors that don't think this is a reliable source. However the reasons given don't make any sense. First it's not a website that anyone can edit. They have a physical address and contact information if you want to contact them. They have a whole list of their staff of editors, writers, managers and many more. It's not a fan website, which is what some editors have claimed. Here are some links to check it out. As you can see all employees mentioned have bios and they all appear to have college degrees, which is more than can be said about wikipedia editors. I don't see any reason as to why they are not a reliable source.AllSportsfan16 (talk) 02:37, 22 April 2017 (UTC)

Having college degrees is not really an indication that the employees are a reliable source. Because this site is being used as a source for WP:Biographies of living persons, they should be held to the highest standards of fact-checking and reliability. Their request for facts from readers of the site is a bit concerning: "Help complete pending profiles by submitting missing info" ; "Suggest an update to an existing celebrity profile" ( I'm a bit dubious. Can you show any mainstream reliable sources that use this site to cite information on birthdays and the like? First Light (talk) 03:15, 22 April 2017 (UTC)
Yep. Basically, this is no different than IMDb, which has been consistently ruled to be WP:NOTRS (as per WP:RS/IMDb), for exactly the same reason – it's WP:USERGENERATED. --IJBall (contribstalk) 03:54, 22 April 2017 (UTC)
No you're wrong it is not user generated information. It's not like wikipedia you can't edit the page and they do say people can make suggestions, but it doesn't says that they are just going to post everything that they get.AllSportsfan16 (talk) 04:08, 22 April 2017 (UTC)
My point is that they hire editors and researchers. It says suggest and update or help complete, they are not requesting anything. I'm sure they check to see if the information is accurate before they post it, why else would hire experts. There is a contact us link if you have questions or concerns has anyone thought of using that. In an earlier discussion an editor suggested that they don't fact check, but there's no indication of that. No I don't have a way of confirming any mainstream sources that use it. From the bio of the Director of Operations it sounds like they reach out to celebrities personally for the information. It sounds like they have huge team gathering information and there is nothing wrong with asking the public, but it's not like wikipedia where anyone can edit the pages.AllSportsfan16 (talk) 03:59, 22 April 2017 (UTC)AllSportsfan16 (talk) 04:01, 22 April 2017 (UTC)
This is no different than IMDb – IMDb also has people that "check" submissions and either approve or decline them. But the editorial control and fact-checking is insufficient to be considered a "reliable source" for the purposes of Wikipedia, especially for BLPs. is in exactly the same boat... --IJBall (contribstalk) 04:08, 22 April 2017 (UTC)
Agreed, this is not a reliable source of birthdate information. VQuakr (talk) 04:19, 22 April 2017 (UTC)
In the bio of the head of operations it says As director of data and operations, Nate helps the marketing team connect with celebrities and he also helps data scientists and writers profile celebrities. So no they aren't just checking people's submissions. They are doing there own research look at how many editors, writers, researches, data scientists and others that they have hired. You don't hire that many people unless you are doing research why pay that many people if there just excepting fan submissions. Unlike IMDB you cannot create an account on famousbirthdays, while you can submit suggestions it doesn't just add them. So basically everyone that's saying it's an unreliable source is saying that they hire researches, writers, editors, data scientists and others just to spend money, meanwhile they just accept all fan submissions as true and post them. You're thinking is ridiculous. Employees cost money, companies don't hire them to do nothing.AllSportsfan16 (talk) 04:24, 22 April 2017 (UTC)
  • ugh, no. Celebrity gossip site with user-submitted data. I recognize that it can be difficult to find RS for birthdates but this is not the way to go. Jytdog (talk) 04:37, 22 April 2017 (UTC)
Okay, how many times do I need to say that they DO NOT rely on user-submitted data. Look at their team page they have hired lots of researchers, editors, data scientists. A company does not hire people to have them do nothing, employees cost MONEY if they were just relying on user submitted data they would not hire that many people. Sure you can suggest submissions, but they are not automatically excepted like wiki sites are.AllSportsfan16 (talk) 04:47, 22 April 2017 (UTC)
I do hear you saying that - the many, many times you have said it. Not buying it necessarily. There is no sign where they do get their information or how they check it. Claiming to have lots of bodies means nothing. Jytdog (talk) 02:25, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
Since you addressed me, let me ask you. Why are you arguing so fiercely for this? Why does this source matter so much to you? Jytdog (talk) 02:26, 23 April 2017 (UTC)

Correct, there's no indication that they use user-submitted data. Inviting readers to help by "submitting missing info" or "suggest an update" simply leads to an email form. That could be marketing (and the email goes in the bit bucket), but more likely it is a rational and functional avenue to receive suggestions (which they can then vet) in case they have something wrong or missing. Would you prefer if they say "We don't publish our email address, since we don't care if you think anything on this site is wrong."

Second of all, what's their business model? Based on their name, it is "providing correct birthdays", at least as a start. And indeed in this interview with the founder (which may be equivalent to a press release, I am not familiar with that site -- but no matter, it is a statement from the founder either way) he says just that. And they have a staff (unless they're lying and all those portraits are stock photos -- which is not impossible), so they seem to have sufficient bodies on hand for somebody to do fact-checking, if they want to.

So if "providing correct birthdays" is their business model, not caring if they get their birthday data correct or not would be a quick way to go out of business, n'est-ce pas? So they probably want to get the data correct, although it's possible they're too stupid to do so.

But if they're not lying or stupid (which they could be, but of course that's true of anyone), then I would think that at least for birthday data they would be somebody to consider.

Sure, they look like the kind of site that you would tease your sister for reading. But so? What does that have to do with how rigorous their fact-checking operation is or is not? Herostratus (talk) 05:09, 22 April 2017 (UTC)

Previous discussion at WP:Reliable_sources/Noticeboard/Archive_153#Is_famousbirthdays.com_a_reliable_source_for_personal_information. I see same issues as with IMDb, they don't say where they get their information and what process they use to validate it. Mostly just "trust us". I expect they may just go to IMDb to get whatever IMDb says as a first pass of research and publish it but, again, who knows as they won't tell us their process. They may go to Wikipedia for all we know. I expect they do a basic web search for their information and populate their database with what they find. Might be an automated web scraper. Geraldo Perez (talk) 19:29, 22 April 2017 (UTC)
Up-arrow THIS. --IJBall (contribstalk) 21:51, 22 April 2017 (UTC)
Yeah maybe. A lot of this is really just guesswork though, I think. What'd be good would a compare-and-contrast between the information-acquisition and fact-checking operation of this site and say People magazine. Info like that is hard to get though. Herostratus (talk) 02:49, 23 April 2017 (UTC)

Roadside Thoughts

Is Roadside Thoughts a reliable source? It was used as a source at Claytonia, Idaho, a new article. Roadside Thoughts appears to be bot-generated information, with "no editorial oversight", per WP:QUESTIONABLE. The opinion of others would be appreciated. Thank you. Magnolia677 (talk) 10:04, 22 April 2017 (UTC)

The site appears to use data from reliable sources, but Wikipedia has never, as far as I know, decided whether "automated sources" are, in fact, "reliable." "Personal opinions" are not found on this site, though it does have ads, so I would rule it out as "commercial" at best. Collect (talk) 13:12, 22 April 2017 (UTC)
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