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Wikipedia bans Breitbart as a source for facts (vice.com)
218 points by aceperry 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 203 comments

Maybe this speaks more about how Wikipedia works than quality of Breitbart as a source.

First, if you look how credible news organizations work, they need three confirmations from unrelated sources before calling it a fact. If Wikipedia has lower standards than that, then it doesn't really matter whom they choose as a source of information, it still rises the question of validity of the claim if there is only one corroborating source.

Second, this ban seems to assume a position that Breitbart can't be a valid source even if they use outside sources corroborating their claim, and that just goes against journalistic principles in general. But then again, Wikipedia has to my knowledge never claimed to work on journalistic principles, they do have guidelines in place that anyone can verify, but outright banning a source has a negative impact on their validity even if it is for a good reason.

Refusing to use Breitbart as only source is reasonable and valid in my opinion, but accepting any other source as valid enough to be used as a single source raises the same problem, news orgs are wrong from time to time, and that is a fact. So if they really wanted to make a statement, they would flag articles that need more sources and get more sources even if one of them is Breitbart. But positioning yourself as arbitrator of truth and banning sources, even bad ones really doesn't build confidence, instead it just erodes it.

I like that Wikipedia's visual style is black and white, but I'd like it's content principles to be a gradient.

Well stated. The problem that the blanket ban on one source introduces is that it becomes a divisive issue. The source and faction that subscribes then believes Wikipedia has lost its objectivity (even if it is trying to maintain the truth). The faction then just starts saying Wikipedia is biased and discounts it as a credible source that speaks the truth universally. To be clear I am not saying that the non-truth should be considered in Wikipedia - I am saying that I like what the parent suggests. Wikipedia should look for a more broad application of standards for sources, as the parent suggests flagging universally around citations not meeting standard, etc.

I don't see it that way. This is probably just a pragmatic move to keep Wikipedia users and contributors from getting their panties in a knot.

It's basically impossible to have a discussion on the internet about the merit something a strongly right leaning media outlet says (well it's possible, but the discussion won't be very civil). Anything factual Breitbart reports will be reported elsewhere because that's how media works, if one outlet covers it others will too. In light of that there's not much to be lost by banning Breitbart as a source. What you gain is that it gives the monkeys that edit pages one less reason to fling poo at each other.

I don't think this is completely true. They've also deprecated Occupy Democrats as a source of facts, so it's not like they're solely against the right, and if you read the RFC the editors are more concerned with their lack of fact checking and their history of publishing blatantly wrong information than their bias.

Many conservatives consider CNN as left wing and disreputable as many liberals consider Breitbart. Your same reasoning would also apply to Wikipedia banning CNN. Would you consider that a pragmatic move? If not, then for what reasons would they differ?

Does Breitbart even publicly retract or correct stories at all?

Here's an example from just today:

"This article has been updated to indicate that the 1,500 people who were errantly registered included non-citizens, but that did not mean all 1,500 were non-citizens."

[0] https://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2018/10/08/californ...

Thanks. Still looking for a retraction. But those are notoriously hard to find. Everybody likes to report on the retractions of others, but not on their own.

I've seen it a couple of times.

More relevant: can you identify any examples of Breitbart content that is, and remains, factually incorrect?

Great, some meat, let's meta-check the first fact check.

This is useful because your citatation is a good example of misleading commentary that tries to make Breitbart look worse than it actually is (again, do not mistake this argument for claiming it's actually super reliable). The story described on that page isn't false and the fact checks contradict themselves or end up agreeing.

Wikipedia is writing about a story headlined "Revealed: 1,000-Man Mob Attack Police, Set Germany’s Oldest Church Alight on New Year’s Eve". It states "the story was later shown to be false". This seems pretty categorical. The story was false, entirely false, and nothing but false. The citation for this statement is citation 189, a story in TheLocal.de

So let's read this takedown. Wiki says:

St. Reinold's Church is neither the oldest church in Germany nor was the church set on fire.

But the article Wikipedia cites says:

St. Reinold is not Germany's oldest church - that would be the Cathedral of Trier - and a small fire had started on some netting on scaffolding around the church, not the roof, due to one firework.

Wikipedia states St Reinold is the oldest church in Dortmund, Germany. So the claim of falsity here hinges on a dispute over whether churches are the same thing as cathedrals, or maybe there is an older church somewhere else in Germany, I was unable to establish that within a few minutes.

However it makes no actual difference to the story, is the sort of mistake that is easily made, and in fact Breitbart has published a correction at the bottom of the story:

"Correction: This article states St. Reinold’s Church is the oldest in Germany. We are happy to clarify that accolade belongs to the Trier Cathedral. Breitbart News stands by all other substantive facts in this article."

This sort of minor correction occurs frequently across all news organisations, and is not worth labelling a story as entirely false. Let's continue.

The second part of the claim that Breitbart is lying hinges on a dispute over whether the fire was on the roof of the church, or whether it was on some scaffolding around the church. This again does not seem very important, especially as scaffolding typically reaches the roof.

The third part of the claim is this:

video footage from the scene does not show a "mob", and no policemen were targeted

but again, citation 189 contradicts Wikipedia. It says:

The original report by the local news site from that night describes how some individuals did start launching fireworks from within the crowd towards police, who told them to stop but were ignored.

So local non-Breitbart news sources reported that policemen were targeted and I suppose, whether you describe a crowd of 1000 people deliberately launching fireworks at police as a "mob" is dependent more on your viewpoint than facts - any crowd can be described that way and Breitbart makes no claim to be neutral. However they were just re-reporting what local German news itself claimed here.

Final inspection. One of the stories central claims is that a group of men unfurled the flag of the "Free Syrian Army", which Breitbart describes as a group of "al-Queda and ISIS collaborators". The video is included in the Breitbart story so you can check this claim for yourself. It's actually kind of hard to see because the man unfurling the flag is facing away from the camera and we only get to see small parts of it, but it does look somewhat like the FSA flag, and again, TheLocal.de (the primary citation for the claim "the story is false") does not disagree with what happened. Instead they describe it like this: "In fact, the video shows a man holding a flag widely flown by those opposing the current government." - this is not a refutation. The FSA did indeed oppose the Syrian government. Breitbart's claim that they're "ISIS and al-Qaeda" collaborators relies on another story I won't bother to fact check, but I note nobody is disputing that claim specifically.

As fact checks go this is one of the weaker ones I've seen. Most of the claims Breitbart made came from local German press to begin with, and the claims that the story is "false" turn out to be quibbles over trivial details that Breitbart itself happily corrected because they were irrelevant to the story. The other claims are all things that those disputing them actually agree with, they just have a preferred spin.

Do you have other stories you believe demonstrates this problem better? I'm sure they have published entirely false stories because it's such a common thing. But this case doesn't seem to be one of those times.

They have not corrected their reporting even after everybody who was there disagreed with them. The very first sentence still reads: "At New Year’s Eve celebrations in Dortmund a mob of more than 1,000 men chanted ‘Allahu Akhbar’, launched fireworks at police, and set fire to a historic church."

Their reporting constructs from disparate events a mob that fought police and attacked a church while shouting "Allahu Akhbar". The source they themselves refer to (Ruhr Nachrichten) is very clear on how events cannot be connected in that way.


I’m not sure if this deserves the downvotes or not. I get the point that right leaning and left leaning people look at these sources differently. I imagine there are differences with respect to their publishing standards and that is perhaps what is attracting the downvotes.

I get the point though, the partisan divide makes it such that any programmatic banning of a source comes across looking partisan. I think this is why Twitter and others took so long to ban some publishers.

Programmatic banning of sources takes power away from editors to determine legitimacy. It censors the conversation that would have otherwise taken place. Wikipedia cannot claim impartiality once it picks and chooses sources at an organizational level. Due to having little interest in keeping up to date with Wikipedia's ban list, I certainly will no longer see it as impartial from this point onward.

I'm not concerned about the downvotes when I don't see a clear reason for them. As far as I can tell, I raised a legitimate point. I'm assuming that it's legitimate because none of the downvoters commented to explain why they disagreed with my point.

(I shouldn't have to say this, since it neither aids nor harms my arguments, but I don't read Breitbart.)

If some group of people think Wikipedia is bullshit, they're going to miss out on the most accessible repository of human knowledge that Man has ever compiled.

That's their own problem. They will fall behind others.

Wikipedia is biased to hell now days - pages are now routinely “owned” by editors, not because they are experts in a field but because they have the most time to camp pages.

Should we care more about accessibility or reliability?

If Wikipedia is the source of knowledge for you, you may have a problem.

It's both, of course. Never before has something so comprehensive and accurate ever been compiled.

You can condescend all you want. It is unparalleled as a first part of call regarding anything. People easily understand that reading about The West Bank on Wikipedia is a different exercise from reading about Charlotte Brontë and act accordingly.

> [...] news orgs are wrong from time to time, and that is a fact

The difference is that when news orgs on the top half of this chart [1] are wrong, even the ones that are quite partisan either left or right, it is almost always the case that they thought they were right when the published. The are wrong by accident.

When orgs along the bottom, whether they be far left like AlterNet or far right like Breitbart, are wrong it is often they case that they know they are wrong before they publish, but since their purpose is not news but rather pushing their partisan agenda, they consider that a feature, not a bug.

[1] https://www.adfontesmedia.com/

> First, if you look how credible news organizations work, they need three confirmations from unrelated sources before calling it a fact.

Based on this criterion, are there any credible news organizations left?

Its fairly easy to find 3 sources for any story because most articles are just reworded from other articles.

"unrelated" is the key word here (though I agree that copy-paste "journalism" is a fairly serious problem).

They can just put a quote in a headline and people will click on it. Whether the truth was spoken is irrelevant to their bottom line.

> if you look how credible news organizations work, they need three confirmations from unrelated sources before calling it a fact.

having worked in journalism, hahahhahhahhahahhhahhahahaha

Yes that claim is wrong, here's CNN admitting they ran a story that was totally false and aren't going to do anything about it, because it met their standard of two sources:


Raju went on CNN, in muted tones, to note the correction, explicitly claiming that “two sources” had each given him the false date on the email, while also making clear that CNN did not ever even see the email, but only had sources describe its purported contents.

As Greenwald points out, in this particular case it's implausible that those two sources could have been independent because the mistake was about mis-reading the date on an email in a way that happened to be politically convenient:

All of this prompts the glaring, obvious, and critical question — one that CNN refuses to address: How did “multiple sources” all misread the date on this document, in exactly the same way and toward the same end, and then feed this false information to CNN?

So either the OP is wrong about what credible news organisations do, or CNN is not credible (see my arguments below to that end), or both.

I wonder how much of the commentary about NYT/CNN/etc being "credible" and Breitbart being "not credible" is based on misunderstandings of how journalism works?

> Maybe this speaks more about how Wikipedia works than quality of Breitbart as a source.

It has nothing to do with how wikipedia works rather than the pressure being put on it by monied interests and the news organizations.

What is happening to wikipedia is what happened to google, reddit, youtube, twitter, etc.

It's the elite media ( particular nytimes, washingtonpost, cnn, et al ) trying to muscle out everyone else.

In the long run, this isn't going to hurt breitbart or any of the right leaning news sources. Right leaning people are going to find it one way or another. It's going to hurt vox, theverge, huffingtonpost, buzzfeed and the billions of left leading fringe news sources as the big boys get special treatment. I'm certain that breitbart is going to be around 10 years from now. I'm not sure about vox and company.

And also in the long run, it's going to make people distrust the nytimes, washingtonpost, cnn, etc even more. But I don't think they care. Que sera sera.

People really underestimate how much external money pressure is being put on tech companies like wikipedia to serve as propaganda outlets. It's not even tech, even the ACLU is feeling the pressure. The only thing mere mortals can do is see out things play.


> if you look how credible news organizations work, they need three confirmations from unrelated sources before calling it a fact

If Wikipedia then uses that news organization as a source, isn't it in effect using the same standard?

> Second, this ban seems to assume a position that Breitbart can't be a valid source even if they use outside sources corroborating their claim

Really, it isn't that complex. Most people learn this in kindergarten, if not before.

Every heard of the "boy who cried wolf"? At no time does anyone suggest if the boy turned up with the wolf's head under his arm you would disbelieve him. But later when telling people "I believe there is a wolf now" you don't say it's because "the boy told me [again]", instead you hold up the head.

Well, it's the same for Breitbart. Saying "it's true because Breitbart said it's true" is just going to get you tarnished with Breitbart's reputation, but handing out Breitbart's citation might just do the trick.

When the signal to noise ratio is so low, and the time cost of continually reviewing references and arguing with the right wing article brigadiers is so high, banning the troublesome source is a simple way of ensuring the available editor time is spent constructively.

For all their flaws, Wikipedia is one of the few web information sources that are globally accepted as more or less correct. Everybody has something they hate about Wikipedia, but the general gist is that they're more or less credible. Alternative encyclopedic efforts are totally fringe and/or money-making scams like Everipedia.

With this in mind, perhaps social media companies should piggyback on Wikipedia's reputation and flag articles from sources like InfoWars and Breitbart with a banner that reads: "Wikipedia doesn't accept this site as a valid source."

That would let Facebook and Twitter off the hook from having to make these calls themselves, and would provide readers with valuable context.

As is sometimes said in management theory "it was a great measure until it was made a target".

Wikipedia is a good reference for what is and isn't likely to be factually accurate, but if it is going to be _the_ standard then it will quickly be corrupted by people pushing a non-factual agenda.

Also, Breitbart being loose with the facts isn't something that the social media platforms want to get involved in. If we count twitter as a publishing platform similar to Breitbart, twitter will spread much more misinformation (arguably in a more damaging way, flash mobs are scarier than anything a print media style organisation can do). You may as well prefix every single tweet with "Wikipedia doesn't accept this tweet as a valid source".

> As is sometimes said in management theory "it was a great measure until it was made a target".

Wikipedia already is a target. It has been a target of distortion almost as long as it exists. It handles these exceptionally well. Not perfect, but given how attractive Wikipedia manipulation is and how easy you'd think it is it's incredible how well it fights it off.

The underlying Wikipedia politics are horrible. Tons of crazy people fight each other using rule lawyering and other tricks.

I don't disagree at all, but between Wikipedia and StackOverflow, I'm slowly becoming suspicious that crazy, legalistic communities may actually just be really good at moderation?

For all of their faults (and there are many), Wikipedia, StackOverflow, and to a much smaller extent even Hackernews all tend to be kind of good at what they do, petty rules notwithstanding.

Although, Reddit exists too, so maybe I'm just cherry-picking examples. I don't want to fall into the same trap that people did with excusing people like Linus.

There's a good example of what pawelmurias is referring to on the Wikipedia vote page linked in the article [1]. Here are some quotes, from two editors on opposite sides of the Breitbart argument:

"I find it incredibly hard to believe that [Editor 2] is still pushing this issue aftermore than a year and a half, and after his having narrowly escaped an indef CIR block [...]" -Editor 1

"Please review WP:ASPERSIONS, and leave me alone. Or, try again to get me banned. These types of comments add nothing to the discussion and aren't, in my opinion, proper conduct for an editor." -Editor 2

"I'm a regular RSN contributor, and you are not. [...] As for casting WP:ASPERSIONS, you should probably hold your tongue before insinuating that I am stalking you: if I recall correctly, you spent about a month following me around and delivering backhanded insults at every opportunity before being told by several admins to knock it off." -Editor 1

I usually think better of editing Wikipedia for fear of being drawn into something like this. Even the most seemingly innocuous, well-cited edits can end up getting you into trouble with someone.

I think Wikipedia is a wonderful achievement, but it often isn't pretty behind the scenes.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Not...

It sounds like the thick morass of crazy people fighting each other over random things might actually act as armor against sane people who think they can slip in and do their dark business in unopposed silence.

Isn't "rule lawyering" just "lawyering", and its re-emergence in this (as professed above) rather successful community possibly an argument for its effectiveness in making complex social communities work?

> It has been a target of distortion almost as long as it exists.

I think you misunderstood the parent. The management theory quote is talking about the thing you measure (e.g. factory output quantity) as a proxy for success becoming what is aimed for (e.g. make as many as possible without regard for quality, worker treatment, maintanence, etc.).

Point being, as you said, wikipedia will become a focus point, with everyone pushing their agenda to the 'source of truth' even more than they do now.

This is true, but it's a matter of degree. We already rely heavily on Wikipedia and it's probably a good idea not to raise the stakes even more. There's a limit to how much pressure a volunteer organization can withstand.

> As is sometimes said in management theory "it was a great measure until it was made a target".

And in economics this is called the Lucas critique[1] (any economic policy which targets a particular metric eventually results in the metric being gamed and thus no longer being a useful metric -- even if the public does not do this maliciously).

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucas_critique

Eh, I'm not sure I'd agree with that. Many people treat Wikipedia as credible for most topics, but wherever there's a controversy (especially a political one), at least one side of it will probably be skeptical of Wikipedia's coverage of said controversy.

I'm also not a fan of using Wikipedia's criteria for valid sources on social media sites becuase it's not really an accurate measure. It's very much biased in favour of well resourced outlets at the expense of niche or freelance ones, despite what others in the field consider credible. For example, if you're looking for information about the next Pokemon game, what do you consider a reliable source? Something like Serebii.net, or something like Kotaku?

In the gaming field and media, the former is more reliable since they've built up a reputation in their field as an accurate source for information, whereas the latter isn't terrible, but is mostly reposted stories with less vigorous fact checking none the less. On Wikipedia however, they think the latter is more accurate, since it uses paid writers with a more professional layout and real name identification front and centre, which distorts the coverage a bit.

I basically commented a bit more about this in my article here:


> Wikipedia is one of the few web information sources that are globally accepted as more or less correct.

Not even Wikipedia claims this, which is why they tell users to never quote Wikipedia but to go to the sources (which all articles are supposed to have) and quote those instead.

Except for those times what is cited is a scientific journal behind a paywall. You can’t really quote those unless you pay up.

Then there’s the whole “WikiGate” (terrible name, but whatever) where Elsevier gave free accounts to Wikipedia editors[1]. That doesn’t help.

[1]: https://arstechnica.com/science/2015/09/wikigate-raises-ques...

Sci-Hub is pretty amazing for any paper that has been out for as long as most sources on Wikipedia have been, so in truth you can almost always read them in full.

Never finds the stuff I search :/

You should try with Library Genesis first. Both projects cooperate (so if LG doesn't have something, it gets added when downloaded from SH, and SH gives you a link from LG when it's already on their DB), but I find the LibGen search engine to be far more powerful, throwing me the article I need when SH can't.

Really? Do you search by doi number?

It’s a direct proxy to university databases - it should have almost everything.

That's not a "Wikipedia" thing though...that's standard practice with any encyclopedia.

Britannica has been recommended to me many times, by academics, as a source of basic facts - it doesn't contain in-depth research, of course, but they considered it to be reliable.

> perhaps social media companies should piggyback on Wikipedia's reputation and flag articles from sources like InfoWars and Breitbart with a banner that reads: "Wikipedia doesn't accept this site as a valid source."

I'm already tired of the media treating me as an idiot. But when a channel of communication (like a social media site) starts to insert its own comments into the information, well, that's really many steps beyond treating me like an idiot. Completely unacceptable.

You're always free to use some other site. The unfortunate fact is that a large group of people who seek their news on Twitter and Facebook have zero media literacy. IMHO the big social media sites need to recognize that and start contributing to fixing the problem.

But this does the opposite. If you want people not to blindly trust whatever they see on Twitter, you can't solve that problem by putting a Twitter badge on articles that say, "this is/isn't trustworthy".

That just encourages people to be even less thoughtful: "I don't have to check the source, Twitter would tell me if it was bad."

Media literacy is a serious problem, and it has to be solved through education and evolving cultural norms. Proposals like this reinforce the toxic norm that all you need to do to fact-check is make a list of good and bad web sites.

Sometimes making someone's life easier in the short-term can have the side-effect of making their life harder in the long-term.

Thus you are proposing that the most literate people (i.e., those that would be offended by such ridiculous handholding) leave Twitter and Facebook? Do you think this would contribute to "fix the problem"?

that doesn't solve the problem it just offloads it.

wikipedia could collapse under the weight of being the internets authority of epistemology.

That weight has been on Wikipedia's shoulders ever since Google started presenting it as the #1 result on most "established topic" searches.

I think this could be about efficiency. If it is codified that Breitbart is not a credible source (which is not a irrational idea), you don't need to have daily discussions about Breitbarts credibility.

A funny thing I have noticed about Wikipedia is that although citing Wikipedia itself in an academic paper is still not a good idea generally speaking, the references provided in a Wikipedia article are usually far more relevant than the ones provided in a typical IEEE paper.

It was a shock for me to discover that the "literature review" of an IEEE paper I was reading was essentially useless compared to the one provided by Wikipedia on the same topic. When combined with the fact that the IEEE paper was behind a paywall and the Wikipedia article was accessed within seconds using a search engine, I now know better how to do a literature review...

Why is this the case? Part of what I have noticed about IEEE is that at least 20% of the references provided are simply added at reviewer's insistence to boost their favorite author's citation count (possibly themselves), regardless of what it has to say about the topic at hand. I don't really know how much of this extends to non-IEEE venues. What I can say is that the mathematics papers I have read provide much better references.

I've found the opposite--the academic sources cited on many Wikipedia pages (in math and adjacent areas) are seldom comprehensive and often insufficient for the topic. Literature reviews in decent papers, on the other hand, usually clue me in to entire swaths of the literature that I was previously unaware of.

> the references provided in a Wikipedia article are usually far more relevant than the ones provided in a typical IEEE paper

IME, speaking of academic research in general, often an almost completely different body of knowledge is cited by each. One is high-quality academic research, the other is general 'Internet knowledge', for lack of a better word. The latter often completely misses the boat.

> It was a shock for me to discover that the "literature review" of an IEEE paper I was reading was essentially useless compared to the one provided by Wikipedia on the same topic.

That says nothing about wikipedia, and only indicates that you've stumbled on a poorly written paper.

>Wikipedia is one of the few web information sources that are globally accepted as more or less correct.

This is totally wrong. Wikipedia has always been received with skepticism because it's "the site where anyone can write anything", and it's never managed to shake that reputation.

That's a common complaint, but in practice people generally accept Wikipedia as a source of factual information. It's the 9th-most viewed site in the world [1], and it's not like people go there for the rich multimedia experience. Surveys show a relatively high level of general-audience trust. [2] And for good reason; one of the best places to find criticism of Wikipedia is Wikipedia. [3]

[1] https://moz.com/top500

[2] https://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/08/09/more-british-people-tru...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia

> people generally accept Wikipedia as a source of factual information. It's the 9th-most viewed site in the world

That assumes people are interested in factual accuracy, and I don't think that's the case. Tabloid newspapers and celebrity gossip draw many readers too. Recent events should make clear that priorities are elsewhere.

It's a matter of degree, of course. If I'm writing something professionally or if something serious depends on it, I'm not depending on Wikipedia. If I'm trying to find the name of that recording by that musician that's on the tip of my tongue - sure, why not.

Yes, exactly. Even you generally accept Wikipedia as a source of factual information. Sometimes you dig deeper. Which is fine, that's what Wikipedia wants people to do.

> Even you generally accept Wikipedia as a source of factual information

That reduces it to a binary choice: Accept or not accept. A point of my comment is that the choice is not binary.

Most of the time the behavior is binary. People go in search of an answer. They find one, accept it, and then stop looking. I agree that there are sometimes more complex behaviors in relation to information, which is why I said "generally".

> Most of the time the behavior is binary

I'm not sure I agree, but it would be interesting to study. I think people assign a trust value to almost any information they encounter. For example, I would guess that you assign a 'trust value' to this comment based on where it is (HN), who wrote it (a commenter that you likely don't know), how it's written (the sophistication of the English and the argument), the emotion (sarcastic? angry? humorous? all caps? calm and reasoned? etc.), etc.

On the other hand, for some things I agree that I don't care much about the trust value because I don't care much about the accuracy, such as 'who sang that song I can't get out of my head'. Which means we have to draw a distinction between trust and caring about trust.

Horrifically bad argument that always comes from people who have never contributed to wikipedia or researched for 5 minutes how it works. Pages of high importance are moderated and restricted, so no you can't just write anything, and even in the cases where you can there needs to be a citation.

> With this in mind, perhaps social media companies should piggyback on Wikipedia's reputation and flag articles from sources like InfoWars and Breitbart with a banner that reads: "Wikipedia doesn't accept this site as a valid source."

Yes, Wikipedia: the poster child for factual, accurate, unbiased, trusted information.

I've used Wikipedia for a decade and a half and I love it, but every single time I hear someone mention it, or I mention it myself, be it in an academic context or not, it is always met with a negative comment implying that it is not a "legitimate" source for anything - although most will admit it's a fantastic starting resource.

I also wonder whether you would be as gung-ho about this idea if Wikipedia started flagging articles from sources such as HuffPo, DemocracyNow, the various Gawker offshoots, and "anonymous sources".

As long as Think Progress doesn't make it through either!

That depends a lot on the topic. I've seen articles on Wikipedia that were ridiculously wrong and couldn't be corrected for some byzantine reasons. For the longest time Wikipedia claimed Bitcoin was a pyramid scheme, despite it failing to meet the criteria on Wikipedia's own page on pyramid schemes.

I certainly wouldn't accept Wikipedia as correct on any topic that gets caught up in the culture wars. Unfortunately, Wikipedia is by its nature very easy to manipulate for small very intense groups who believe they're on a holy mission to cleanse the internet of "bad people".

This change being a case in point. I read all kinds of news sources, from the Washington Post to CNN to the Daily Mail to Breitbart. I wouldn't say Breitbart is wildly different in accuracy to any of the rest, not because it's great, but because so many other outlets (like the NY Times, BBC and CNN) routinely publish things that are false as well. CNN is practically a byword at this point for biased misleading nonsense, they publish stories that collapse all the time. Yet Wikipedia isn't banning CNN, only conservative outlets like the Daily Mail and Breitbart. Isn't that strange?

> For the longest time Wikipedia claimed Bitcoin was a pyramid scheme

[citation needed]

Checked the entire edit history of the article with wiki blame. The phrase 'Pyramid scheme' I could find has been added four times. The first two referred to a specific bitcoin-based third-party scam, which was removed in 2012 when the scam was old news. The second two refer to the multiply-cited opinion of prominent economists, and are presented with disagreement. It was added removed and added again in short order.

> CNN is practically a byword at this point for biased misleading nonsense

That is far cry from it being demonstrated. When fact-checked, it ranks among more accurate news sources. The usual rejoiner is that fact-checking can't be trusted.

It is striking how much we live in an era of fear, uncertainty and doubt over truth. And it is stoked much like your comment: some vague innuendo, unsubstantiated claims, false equivalence, and gaslighting of evidence.

Saying something I don't like, is not the same as saying something false. Though our inherent cognitive biases would love us to believe that, and our toxic politics often demands we claim so.

Sorry, I was mis-remembering, Wikipedia claimed it was a ponzi scheme. The rest still applies.


I'd note that this:

The second two refer to the multiply-cited opinion of prominent economists, and are presented with disagreement

doesn't make any difference to my opinion. Who cares if they're economists? Either something meets a definition or it doesn't.

That is far cry from it being demonstrated. When fact-checked, it ranks among more accurate news sources. The usual rejoiner is that fact-checking can't be trusted.

I would be fascinated to see who claimed this and how reliable their fact checking is. Because yes, literally anyone can call themselves a fact checker and then announce their views to be 'fact'. I've noticed more than once some person or site claiming to be a 'fact checker' and then engaging in very dodgy behaviour. The ones that try to give 5 star ratings to claims seem most susceptible to this. Anything beyond a binary yes/no is too tempting for people to insert their own opinions and views. BBC "reality check" is notorious for this.

And it is stoked much like your comment: some vague innuendo, unsubstantiated claims, false equivalence, and gaslighting of evidence.

Quit with the ad hominem. My post wasn't a scientific article - it was reporting my own experience with fact checking various different outlets. But fine, I'll raise the bar.

If you really believe that these cable news outlets are more honest than average, then please go read Greenwald for a while and explain how they keep publishing false stories by their own admission, that are always false in support of the same narrative.




This one has a very good collection of juxtaposed stories


I read lots of news sites from across the spectrum. Perhaps it helps that I'm not American so a lot of what happens there is merely interesting, rather than something threatening urgent impact on my own life. There is very little difference between them all. New York Times is not better than Fox News is not worse than CNN, and so on. The journalists at all these places feel strongly that it's OK to mislead people if it's in support of the 'right' cause.

> For the longest time Wikipedia claimed Bitcoin was a pyramid scheme

> Wikipedia claimed it was a ponzi scheme. The rest still applies.

It was added to a list of Ponzi schemes with the qualification "Bitcoin has been called a Ponzi scheme" and a citation to an article on April 11, 2013. It was deleted on May 7 that year, in the very next edit to touch it.

Your characterisation seems to me tendentious in the extreme.

> Who cares if they're economists?

Anyone who understands that knowledge is not syntactic, and that expertise trumps word lawyering.

> Quit with the ad hominem.

I apologise if you felt it was so. Nothing I said referred to any personal quality of you or anyone else. It was intended as purely an attack on the argument you made. The opposite of ad hominem.

> The journalists at all these places feel strongly that it's OK to mislead people if it's in support of the 'right' cause.

[citation needed]

Here's another discussion of the same Wikipedia problem of calling Bitcoin a ponzi scheme from 2012: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=123760.0

As you can see, people were arguing with some editor who kept sitting on the page. It was an on-going problem that lasted a long time.

I wish I didn't have to keep repeatedly backing this claim up. OK, I mixed up pyramid and ponzi scheme, but the original point is sound (and "economists agree" isn't a valid argument given that plenty of economists also disagree, and being an economist doesn't automatically make someone right anyway). Sigh.

Nothing I said referred to any personal quality of you or anyone else

I'm not sure how to interpret "gaslighting the evidence". From what I understand "gaslighting" is an insulting verb that means an activity someone is engaged in, to deliberately confuse other people. That's not at all my intent.

As for your last paragraph, that's what this entire thread is about. Look at how media outlets consistently get certain subjects factually wrong, again and again and as Greenwald puts it "always wrong in the same direction". These aren't random mistakes caused by simple carelessness. They keep happening because journalists want them to happen - if they didn't the mistakes wouldn't be so correlated, or so consistent, or so frequently replicated across so many outlets, and they'd put in place more robust systems to stop them.

The self evident primary purpose of the various news platforms is not to inform, but rather to persuade. Persuading persons to buy things is their primary source of revenue. They also routinely work with public relations firms. Finally the editors and other staff all have their own views and like most persons most of them must like the idea of persuading others to agree with them. The on-air behavior of news anchors on election night in 2016 completely destroyed the fiction of their impartiality. Had the election gone the other way we would have seen an equally crass display of triumphalism. I don’t see how any intellectually honest person can fail to believe, regardless of views, that the various news sources are all biased, because it’s observably true.

> I wouldn't say Breitbart is wildly different in accuracy to any of the rest, not because it's great, but because so many other outlets (like the NY Times, BBC and CNN) routinely publish things that are false as well.

I agree that many mainstream outlets have a slant, however this is a frankly ridiculous equivocation between legitimate news organisations with bias reportage and a hack conspiracy website that among others peddled knowlingly false 1) pizzagate and 2) Obama birther conspiracies.

Please provide evidence of the many false stories you refer to, because they just don’t exist.

  a hack conspiracy website that among others peddled knowlingly false 1) pizzagate and 2) Obama birther conspiracies
Surely you can provide an example of each?

Actually, Breitbart was one of few media that pointed out that it didn't matter where Obama was born, as his natural-born citizenship was automatically conveyed from his mother. "Birther" arguments were a fabrication of "mainstream" media.

Go read the set of stories published in the west about Russian hacking. Every story collapses when examined. Again, I cited Greenwald above, he was written about this extensively.

The only reason you believe the outlets you named are "legitimate organisations with bias" vs "hack conspiracy websites" is you haven't picked up yet on the conspiracy theories being peddled by those so-called legitimate organisations.

Another example beyond Russian hacking: it's common for such legitimate outlets to claim there's a shadowy, far reaching conspiracy by men against women, which is why <insert any difference here>. It's literally a conspiracy theory. They report on it as if it was fact, and lie to push the conspiracy forward.

To back that up, examine how they falsely reported the contents of Damore's memo. So many articles claiming he said women aren't biologically suited for programming, even though he stressed in his memo he was not saying that and was talking about general interest across populations. I stopped keeping track of which outlets were lying about the memo's contents after I realised they virtually all were.

Your stories about Russia are specific to CNN & MSNBC, but plenty of other reporting has been done on this matter. I think it's safe to assume the narrative has moved from 'hacking' and more to highlight the weaponinzing of social media for political propaganda.

> there's a shadowy, far reaching conspiracy by men against women > To back that up, examine how they falsely reported the contents of Damore's memo

Picking these two specific things pretty much shows your hand in this matter. You're clearly someone who has made up their mind that women & men are in fact treated equal despite stories, lawsuits, and salary data proving other wise.

However, Wired did a write up[1] on why Damore's memo was clumsy despite trying to use scientific evidence. Mainly in that he cited facts without extrapolating on them and noting the small differences in the numbers. Further, there is a lot of nuiance in all of this and societal studies that get picked apart for gotcha facts is not a great way of using studies. [1] - https://www.wired.com/story/the-pernicious-science-of-james-...

> However, Wired did a write up[1] on why Damore's memo was clumsy despite trying to use scientific evidence. Mainly in that he cited facts without extrapolating on them and noting the small differences in the numbers. Further, there is a lot of nuiance in all of this and societal studies that get picked apart for gotcha facts is not a great way of using studies. [1]

It's great somebody discussed that, it was probably biggest complaint I had about Damore's article.

But you have to admit that "flawed methodology in reaching the conclusions" was not really widely cited as biggest issue with Damore's memo.

> I wouldn't say Breitbart is wildly different in accuracy to any of the rest ... because so many other outlets (like the NY Times, BBC and CNN) routinely publish things that are false as well.

I have no idea where the parent gets this (no source is provided), but more generally this is a talking point, throughout history, of liars and propagandists; it's a way of excusing and normalizing their behavior. Propagandists in particular want to neutralize or paralyze, not persuade, their targets - it's easy to see how destroying all trusted institutions would do that.

In the end, it's like someone telling you, after they just lied to your face for the nth time, 'everybody lies!'.

That’s the thing: they’re all liars. Gell-Mann amnesia demonstrates this conclusively.

mjrpes 10 months ago [flagged]

Breitbart is no worse than NY Times or WaPo? I gather you have doubts about climate change also.

Please don't make a thread like this even worse by tossing in even more political flamebait.

"Comments should get more civil and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive."


I don't, not on the broad strokes anyway. I gather there's some controversy over ocean acidification in particular. But where did you get that idea from? My comment on another story pointing out how both sides of the political spectrum have issues with science in different fields?

Source please


It was correctly downvoted, since the comment was unsubstantive on a divisive topic.

God forbid! That science is settled by consensus, after all.

Only conservative outlets? Did you read the article? It says they banned OccupyDemocrats for similar reasons. They aren't just banning right wing news.

> For the longest time Wikipedia claimed Bitcoin was a pyramid scheme, despite it failing to meet the criteria on Wikipedia's own page on pyramid schemes.

The language in the article [0] regarding pyramid schemes clearly notes that this is a concern raised by "various journalists, economists, and the central Bank of Estonia". An encyclopedia is a tertiary source and summarizes other sources. It has absolutely nothing to do with how Wikipedia itself defines pyramid schemes.

> I wouldn't say Breitbart is wildly different in accuracy to any of the rest


[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin#Ponzi_scheme_and_pyram...

> For all their flaws, Wikipedia is one of the few web information sources that are globally accepted as more or less correct.

Only for things that aren’t politically fraught enough for one person, anywhere on the internet to decide to camp on the article. Look at what you get if you look up “Cultural Marxism”.

It redirects to the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory article, with the subheading “Cultural Marxism Conspiracy Theory”. This when there was an excellent article on the academic movement of that name.

Very introductory reddit thread on the history of the academic movement


Cultural Marxism and Political Sociology


Talk page for the Cultural Marxism Wikipedia article, which now redirects to Frankfurt School Conspiracy Theory


The cultural marxism article being deleted was far from the result of "one person". There was a deletion discussion [0] with input from multiple users, as well as a deletion review. [1] In fact, the discussion was closed by three independent and uninvolved admins. Additionally, the contents of the article were merged, so it's not as if any mention of the topic fell off the face of the earth. You should familiarize yourself with Wikipedia's notability guidelines for standalone [2] and what they entail, as well as the criteria for reliable sources. [3] Lastly, the Wikipedia article explains quite clearly that the so-called "academic movement" you're advocating is a term that was later co-opted by conspiracy theorists. Wikipedia is not for fringe theories. [4]

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletio...

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Deletion_review/Log/...

[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Notability

[3]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Identifying_reliable...

[4]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Fringe_theories

That's because Cultural Marxism isn't part of any serious scientific publication, it's just a non-sense term used by some far right members.

As you might have noticed if you had clicked on either the reddit thread or the amazon link that’s not so.

Cultural Marxism and Political Sociology was published in 1981. It’s been cited 40 times. That’s not a seminal work but it’s not marginal either. Cultural Marxism was a self-description before it was ever used as a slur.

Product Description A thorough examination and analysis of the tensions between political sociology and the culturally oriented Marxism that emerged in the 60s and 70s is presented in this volume. In order to create a strikingly original synthesis, Weiner considers the work of theorists as diverse as Jurgen Habermas, Claus Offe, Alain Touraine, Anthony Giddens and Alvin Gouldner, many of whom fall ideologically outside the cultural Marxism movement.

Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture has the following review


... If this collection is long and complicated, that is because Marxist theory has a long and complicated history: no simple summary or static model will suffice for a genuinely dialectical theory, one that works with the essential concepts of contradiction between the emergent and the persistent, mediation, and overdetermination. ...

Hope the average HN reader is aware that Breitbart is banned on HN, as a submission source.

I was blissfully unaware. For a fleeting moment your post made me wonder whether I should consider the ban problematic. Then I figured that credible sources would report on whatever Breitbart was shouting about, if it was serious.

And I'll live on as before.

> Then I figured that credible sources would report on whatever Breitbart was shouting about, if it was serious.

To the best of my knowledge, Breitbart was the only place to release all of the court documents from the Damore case.

Interesting enough, because of that, those documents are not cited on the Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google%27s_Ideological_Echo_Ch...

As far as I understood Wikipedia's decision the court documents could still be linked in an article. Breitbart is not the original source of the documents.

I think that Wikipedia trusts Breitbart enough not to falsify court documents.

> Then I figured that credible sources would report on whatever Breitbart was shouting about, if it was serious.

Seems a lot like how authoritarian countries view news. First, they classify (a.k.a. anoint) sources as kosher & credible, and then blanket ban the others. Then they demonize anyone who makes a logical argument for freedom of speech.

You can see this pattern in China, Russia, Iran, ... and HN, Wikipedia, ...

Of course, HN is a private company who is free under US speech laws to pick and choose sources it deems kosher. But it's ironic that HN considers it's audience immature enough to "protect" it from the triggers of opposing viewpoints, of Breitbart & ilk.

I don't feel I need to be protected from Breitbart so much as left alone by those who would read that rag. Call it arrogance, but I have better uses for my time than meeting people who afford credibility to Breitbart News.

> Then they demonize anyone who makes a logical argument for freedom of speech.

And what would that argument be? That I should be exposed to Breitbart so I "can see the other side"? Thank you very much. The world is not divided into two sides where we should go see the other. The world is full of shit. And there is no point to dwell on it.

That's funny. Wikipedia allows Gawker and Vox posts to be used as sources on articles that directly involve Gawker and Vox:


That whole entry is compiled of highly questionable sources.

Seems like a massive double standard.

Gamergate's entire "mission" is highly questionable.

Do you think that because of all of the biased media reports about it? That's literally what it's about (as is the topic of this thread). Social media, new media and old media being politicized, cliquish and dishonest.

That Vox and Gawker are viewed as more reputable than Breitbart gets to the very heart of what Gamergate was about (IMO).

At its surface I will take Vox reporting over what Breitbart puts out there. Much of the Breitbart stories I have read operated on FUD by taking the very smallest bit of information and conflating it into something far worse than what it is. Gakwer & Vox are not without their flaws, especially Gawker.

Gamergate is the perfect example of how media & reporting can be twisted into whatever narrative people want to make. The fact that it evolved into what it did is all the proof you need. If it was ever about "ethics in journalism" they would have never championed YouTuber's and people with 0 track record of journalism. Not to mention they continue to prop up people with known histories of questionable behavior (Cheon, Moriarity). The very fact that much of their 'theory' was based in journalist talking to each other is laughable.

I agree that Breitbart is trash, but I disagree that Vox and Gawker are any better. The issue is that everyone is allowed to say that Breitbart is trash, Wikipedia can ban it... But while many people know that Vox and Gawker are also trash, there are many institutions and platforms that will prop them up as reputable (such as Wikipedia).

That double standard spurred a lot of Gamergate's energy. Putting "ethics in journalism" in quotes says a lot, the whole thing was nothing but media meta-commentary (ethics in journalism).

Well I did fully acknowledge that Vox & Gawker are not without their problems. And if we break down Gawker to be ALL of Gawker a big problem of trust their is their Kinja contribution system, but some writers within the smaller groups (Kotaku, Gizmodo) have done good reporting. Wikipedia stated the reason they removed Brietbart was due to its "unreliability". That means they did take the time to explore BB as a source to validate the claims. If Vox and the entire Gawker network were "unreliable" I'm sure they would do the same.

I put it in quotes because it was a statement the GG latched on to to claim as their whole reasoning. However countless doxing & harassement attempts, specifically towards some women, prove otherwise. Again, one of their big tent pole arguments was that gaming press (which in reality is relatively young) had a mailing list they all communicated on. Which is just ludicrous to use as "collusion" b/c it assumes all press operates in a black box with no communciation.

There is a double standard in press reporting, but it is not some thing that is exclusive to gaming. There's a clip of Rooster Teeth slamming another press outlet for their review of Fallout while all three of them (Rooster Teeth) are decked out in Fallout gear. I can assure many more YT personalities are getting free gifts from companies to promote & review, but not disclosing as such. There is a new practice now of seeding games to these personalities early to help drum up hype around games. This is precisely the ethics situation you claim, but that's if you assume YT should be considered press (it's not). Someone who was contributing to IGN just got ratted out for plagarizing and IGN, after investigating, removed every piece of their content. By GG standards of IGN they're some unethical place and would have never done this. So yeah, GG in itself is a double standard and completely unreliable in their message.

Just going to say that quite a few GamerGate forums covered the IGN story, praised IGN for getting rid of the guy and basically slammed the hell out of Filip Miucin for copying other people's work.


The idea that they're quiet on actual ethics issues while making a mountain out of a molehill on localisation ones is false.

As for collusion, well it's questionable whether it occurred, but at least a bit suspicious that many sites suddenly turned out their audience mid controversy. Imagine if someone else did that. Like, an agency dev called their clients morons online, or a retail worker said their customers were malicious/trolls/sociopaths to their face. Would they still have a job?

Probably not. But that happened, it shouldn't have happened, and it's being justified somehow.

It's also worth pointing out that quite a few smaller sites and YouTube channels with GamerGate... tendencies or neutrality are actually pretty damn reliable, and that most aren't exactly Breitbart or fake news esque. Stuff like Techraptor or Niche Gamer or what not isn't exactly unreliable. Stuff like SidAlpha's YouTube channel isn't unreliable.

The issue is that what Wikipedia considers a reliable source is very much tilted in the large corporation/academia direction and misses the point in what reliability actually is. This isn't the 60s/70s/80s/whenever when being reliable only meant being a full time employee for a major newspaper or television network or publishing your work in an academic context. Many smaller blogs and creators (even under pseudonyms or anonymity) have equally good or better records now, and standards should change to accomodate that.

For clarification, I was intending to say GG took down IGN over the story. I was noting an outlet that was targeted initially in GG was IGN, but IGN showed they do in fact have "ethics".

GamerGate was founded on lies, and I see no reason to trust anyone who continues to be taken in by those lies. If you're really concerned about ethics in games journalism, stop marching under the banner of a group founded to harass some guy's cheating ex.

A rundown of the facts, again:

Eron Gjoni publicly claimed that his girlfriend Zoe Quinn, an indie game developer, had cheated on him with a bunch of guys, who he named. Most of these guys were other indie game developers. One of them was a writer for Rock Paper Shotgun, who had once mentioned Quinn's game in a single paragraph of a larger article about indie games, months before he allegedly slept with her by Gjoni's own account.

Some right-wing gamers immediately spun this into a narrative that Rock Paper Shotgun and several other sites they didn't like were corrupt and trading positive coverage of left-wing developers for money and sex. This narrative was wildly successful and wound up drawing in a bunch of people who were legitimately concerned about ethics in games journalism, and somehow didn't grasp the agenda behind it.

Consider Milo Yiannopoulos, a Breitbart reporter who "infiltrated" a game-writer forum, cherry-picked their discussions about how to respond to the harassment campaign, and spun them as sinister censorship. Yiannopoulos is a frequent supporter of literal, self-described Nazis. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milo_Yiannopoulos#Leaked_Breit... But many were and are completely taken in by his article--I still see people posting it to justify GamerGate.

Wikipedia, these days is remarkably accurate.

But much more significant than that, it's a compelling demonstration of what a large, committed community can do, together. With a vision for creating value, without a need for satisfying shareholders in anything but reason and adequately-competent, wide-ranging content.

In my view it is becoming one of the wonders of the modern world. Without a sugar daddy.

Unpopular opinion: Sometimes Breitbart does have useful info. They were the only ones who had the full leak of the Google all-hands that was definitely newsworthy, for example. Discard that and you missed some useful info. You canot just color publications as "good" and "not". This sort of maximalism (seeing the world in black and white) is rarely good long term. Almost everything in the world has a use.

> almost everything in the world has a use

Do you routinely read far-left news sources like Current Affairs and Jacobin to make sure you're getting the full picture?

Yes I do. And also foreign news to get a non-usa-centric view.

I'll second this. I read stuff like Jacobin as well as Breitbart.

If sources which occasionally play lose with facts or spin are to be banned from Wikipedia some mainstream news outlets should probably go as well.

Not a fan of Breitbart, but this reeks of political preference. Wiki should be above this kind of thing but apparently isn't, which speaks to it's own credibility.

Really curious about the downvotes (which I don't care about the votes, just what it means).

Do they mean "Breitbart is much much less credible than all other news outlets (except maybe Infowars) so they deserve this!"

Or do they mean, "Yes, but leftism is the correct point of view, they told me so in college, so they deserve this block!"

Or do they mean "We've been trying really hard to resurrect major media as a legitimate source for believable propaganda and don't like your insinuation there!"

Or something else I haven't thought of?

Because from where I sit, Breitbart, the grand total of 3 times I visited it seemed a bit extreme and one sided, but in reporting not any further from what one might consider "accurate" than many biased mainstream news outlets (comments section excluded, that was indeed a circus).

Did I miss something?

Not really a person of strong political persuasions but big tech shoving brave new world down everyone's throats isn't really my thing either. Plus I doubt it will work. I guess I prefer the dumb pipes model but once people are involved that goes out the window? Any way to tone that down?

In your original post:

> Not a fan of Breitbart, but this reeks of political preference. Wiki should be above this kind of thing but apparently isn't, which speaks to it's own credibility.

Wikipedia editors concluded that Breitbart News is an unreliable source. If this reeks to you, fine. Maybe there is something there. Maybe they did have other motives. Go dig. But don't just draw general conclusions about Wikipedia's credibility from that reek.

In my opinion, anything touching Breitbart reeks. Wikipedia is doing well to have settled the matter and gotten rid of that reek. At some point you don't discuss the finer points of shit anymore. You close the lid. As they did with a host of other publications.

Just one stinking example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breitbart_News#False_report_of...

"Go dig" and "general conclusions" don't make any sense in this case. The evidence for the conclusion is there.

The point, as stated in my original post, is that "fake news" type reporting isn't confined to right leaning publications. One doesn't need to dig much to determine that. Yet one view source is banned, the other is not. This isn't "assumption" or accusation, it's how it appears to be.

What I really hear you saying, (and I think reality comes out a bit further down in your post), is "I don't like Breitbart!".

And, emotionally not liking something is a good reason as any to downvote so that is fine. Thanks for the explanation.

But just to re-iterate, I don't care for Breitbart either. Nor CNN. I do think Wikipedia should stay out of politics though.

Are you comparing CNN to Breitbart? And by what standards?

> I do think Wikipedia should stay out of politics though.

Impossible. What gave you the idea?

You are saying you think it's ok for Wikipedia to have a political bias or you are saying you don't think this indicates they have one?

If it's the first I guess we have to just disagree and that's it and I'm really sad you feel that way and wish you would reconsider your stance. If it's the second, there are arguments to be made.

My concern isn't your political views or distaste for the slant of some publication. I understand that, I don't like grossly biased publications either. My concern is the danger of a politically motivated group of people removing a publication from being cited in a very large crowd-sourced knowledge base because some people don't like the slant.

Whatever happened to principal before preference? Did that all go away and now we just try to bulldoze our way around everything at any cost because we think our subjective opinions are "right"? Can't folks see how not only futile but self defeating this is? Smart folks at that. WTF? is all I can really say. It's a big world with lots of opposing visions and views. And people have a right to these, even when we believe differently, and a good knowledge base will try to remain objective.

I disagree with the narrow meaning you give to the term "political". Political is anything related to how we organize our government. From my understanding what you mean is "partisan". You're implying that Wikipedia is partisan to "left-leaning" news sources. And you mention CNN.

Are you saying that if Wikipedia bans Breitbart, they should ban CNN too? And on what basis? What would be the standard they should use?

I agree that the polarization observed in US politics is a dangerous trend. But I think that Wikipedia is navigating this well.

You may be right. I have only visited Breitbart a few times, the actual "reporting" seemed to be reasonably accurate (although certainly overlaid with bias). I'm just concerned is all.

Can Vice be next?

Breitbart is actually quite accurate, I'd say it's no more misleading than any other mainstream publication. I'd wager that most people here don't actually read the website yet hold strong opinions on its reporting, which in itself is sad.

I challenge everyone who disagrees to look at Breitbart's front page right now and find an article you would consider objectively false or more biased than the average CNN or HuffPo article.

What is the case is that very often Breitbart reports on things more mainstream sites refuse to report on. It's real diversity of perspective like this that's actually valuable in a free society.

But Breitbart doesn't tow the ideological line, so it gets banned.

When we ban websites like Breitbart we lose sources that examine sides of issues that often go unexamined, or issues that get ignored altogether.

> I challenge everyone who disagrees to look at Breitbart's front page right now and find an article you would consider objectively false or more biased than the average CNN or HuffPo article.


> EU Cracks: Juncker Says Brexit Deal Close


It's certainly not the EU who are cracking under Brexit, Theresa May's government is.

> Danish Minister Rejects EU Migrant Quotas Claiming ‘Too Few Contribute’


The actual source (https://jyllands-posten.dk/politik/ECE10915137/stoejberg-dan...) says it is the UN quotas it is stopping, not the EU ones as suggested in the title. The title is also misleading, "too few women contribute" is the quote.

They only took in 500 refugees a year before that, something the writing definitely does not reflect, and will continue "throw open their borders" to refugees with disabilities.

And hey, lets throw in a nice bit about rape statistics and putting asylum seekers on deserted islands.

The less said about the comments, the better.

What's your source for the 500 refugees per year? I saw different:

> The country registered 3,500 asylum seekers in 2017, according to the ministry, the lowest number since 2008.


As for the rest of your nitpicking, I'm sure you're aware we could do the same with the headlines from any media source. I once saw CNN publish essentially the same story with two opposing headlines: "NFL ratings are down again this season. Is it time to panic yet?", then "Trump says NFL ratings are 'way down.' That's not completely true"

In the article I linked.

> However, Inger Støjberg has broad support for the decision in the Folketing. All parties in the blue block and Social Democracy say no to take 500 quota refugees through the UN system, as it did before.

These are the quota refugees. The ones the article is lambasting. Asylum seekers are different, technically a superset of refugees I guess.

I'm glad you saw two contradictory headlines once (to nitpick: way down != down), I'm not sure how that refutes any of the many things wrong with the two articles I described above, found within 5 clicks on their website frontpage.

That was just one example of thousands. Headlines are misleading more often than not, I find.

The examples you gave from Breitbart don't come anywhere close to proving that it's worse than other media.

And the zero examples you gave prove what exactly?

Now you're just being argumentative. I gave one example of a misleading headline.

Just try being equally critical of, say, CNN headlines and I'm sure you'll see what I mean.

I'm merely nitpicking. "i once saw X trust me ok" is not an example, it's an anecdote.

If you want to put out the point that these shoddy half articles I found on Breitbart are actually representative of CNNs reporting and the industry as a whole then I suggest you do exactly what I did: go to their frontpage and find two completely misleading headlines with borderline xenophobic, utterly misleading content that are there right now.

Of course, this will be super easy right because CNN is the same as Breitbart, right?

Something in me thinks this will be the last I hear from you. It's been nice discussing this with you.

The actual headlines of the articles don't count as an example? They're easy to look up. You'll see that CNN published the same facts with two contradictory headlines, coincidentally changing their position to disagree with Trump.

I'd like to see what Breitbart publishes that's worth a ban.

Please feel free to provide ban worthy examples if you like, instead of a couple of minor mistakes of the kind every news organization makes in their headlines.

Again, no examples. Why?

I feel like your conviction that breitbart is as good as any other news source (or as bad, whatever way you look at it) is not grounded in reality if you call those minor mistskes.

Not only is the headline misleading but the contents as well, designed to stoke certain people and confirm their biases.

From reading that article, the contents instead of just the headline, you would get they are stopping accepting all the thousands and millions EU immigrants flooding into their borders because they do not contribute.

Not one bit of that is true.

Find me something on CNN as patently false and misleading as that, on their front page right now please. Thanks!

What's patently false and misleading here is your characterization of the article.

> From reading that article, the contents instead of just the headline, you would get they are stopping accepting all the thousands and millions EU immigrants flooding into their borders because they do not contribute.

Nowhere in that article did Breitbart say millions of EU immigrants are flooding into Denmark.

And if I give a charitable interpretation to your nitpick that Breitbart altered the quote, removing women from "do not contribute", it could apply to the headline, but not the article. Breitbart quoted the full statement in the second paragraph.

It's one of many that were banned, across the ideological spectrum.

That's beside the point, Breitbart shouldn't be banned.


>If you are into news and being informed, leaving off sites like breitbart from regular perusal is a mistake. They often bring up facts and perspectives considered unimportant by other outlets. Even infowars has its uses, if for nothing else other than entertainment value.

I am not from US so I have no bias in this case, do you mean that I should check sites that I consider to be garbage because they sometimes may bring some story that other sites won't? Are you doing this? Do you read garbage articles, do you watch acient allients shows, read about flat earth etc ? Because when I notice that soem news site went in the bad direction(clickbait and other garbage) I will not waste my time to find a diamond in tons of garbage, it is not my fault they have that much garbage

I sometimes glance at Breitbart although I'd be more of a NYT guy politically. It can be useful as an indication what the 40% or so that support Trump are thinking.

Yeah, I understand why you would check it once in a while, I personally don't read political news that often since there is nothing really important happening daily. If I have tiem for reading better to read something I like better like science or technology or entertainment.

Is it even a useful indication of that? Perhaps it's a more useful indication of how certain groups want a particular demographic (e.g. Trump supporters) to think?

"Entertainment value" is about the only thing Breitbart could have going for it, if you find that kind of thing entertaining.

It has no place on Wikipedia.

Also, why put "article" in scare quotes? Its pretty unambiguously an "article". That's not a good way to try to deligitimize the OP, if that's what you're going for. You should have stuck to your point about being open-minded, though I would add the "but don't let your brains fall out" postscript.

Vice is generally in the same category as Breitbart, only on the left.

The 'article' cites such sources as splinternews to back up its various unsupported claims an innuendo.

If that is the case, can you please point out the hate-mongering present on Vice? Because Breitbart is full of it.

Russia, Russia, Russia!

There's a difference between being critical against Russian interference, and literally calling Muslims subhuman invaders.

Yeah that's the irony here. Vice is definitely the left-liberal version of Breitbart. Both have lots of edginess and questionable articles, but also put out some articles with very valuable original reporting.

Breitbart can hardly be called a news site, it's more like a hard-right opinion blog.

Their posts have been shown time and time again to be incredibly biased, using dogwhistle hard-right (even fascist) terms and referring to "muslim hordes", "rapefugees" and the like. It doesn't meet any kind of standard for objective or even semi-objective journalism.

Not the place to continue this discussion but chasing up just one reference I find an opinion piece by Milo Yannopolis evidently upset (I wonder why?) by the poll revealing that at that time 52% of British Muslims would like his sexual preferences to be illegal.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/apr/11/british-musl... Title: "Half of all British Muslims think homosexuality should be illegal, poll finds"

I'd wager at least that many 65+ yearolds in the UK would think the same. And they outnumber British Muslims by a fair margin.

Elderly people in the UK have a surprisingly hostile outlook on black and homosexual people, at least around where I grew up.

That’s like saying you’re depriving yourself of a diversity of sources by not reading the National Enquirer regularly. Unless you’re studying propaganda, the only thing reading Breitbart gives you is a chance to be mislead.

If you want right-wing perspectives, the WSJ or The Economist would be far more deserving of your attention.

The Economist considers itself center-right, and is classically liberal (free trade, individual liberty). Breitbart caters to nativist sensibility, and while there might be a thoughtful, reasonable standard-bearer for nationalism, I haven't seen one. Perhaps such a publication would act as a pressure valve and reduce the prominence of the nativist garbage rags? Likely I'm too optimistic.

What's the value of a less extreme nationalist press, except to espouse the same values but make them more palatable to moderates and lead them down the slippery slope to extremism? For better or worse the "ideal" world of nationalists would be a massive, traumatic revision of the current state of affairs, aimed at ethnic minorities and vulnerable people for benefit of white people. It seems like an inherently extreme and racist philosophy.

While I am firmly in the open borders camp, I'm willing to consider nationalist arguments. I can see why people see value in national sovereignity or cultural preservation. I agree there's a very thin line separating it from racist drivel. That is where I draw the line - nationalist: can debate, nativist: not worth my time.

What is the national culture of America? Would nationalists deport all the people of European ancestry and give the land back to it's original inhabitants? What culture is preserved by stopping people moving between Mexico and Texas, which are pretty culturally similar and until recently were the same country? I don't there's a narrow line, I think there's no line and they're just branding to try and save face.

> Would nationalists deport all the people of European ancestry and give the land back to it's original inhabitants?

You are obviously trolling, but I'll answer you anyway. Nationalism (especially in the US where the two overlap much less than in other places) refers to citizenship rather than ethnicity. Nobody is suggesting deporting US-born ethnic Africans.

So why have borders? It's so you can have programs that help the local poor. Any kind of welfare/medicine/UBI type program has to have some kind of filter on it or the poor of six continents would sign up and bankrupt the programs, so that filter is citizenship. The same applies to local wages. Allow local companies to hire foreign workers and wages equalize, which for US workers means they go down. And the culture of the US depends on having a middle class.

> What is the national culture of America?

Are you honestly asserting that it doesn't have one? The culture in Silicon Valley is exactly the same as the one in Beijing? The one in Alabama is identical to Russia?

> The culture in Silicon Valley is exactly the same as the one in Beijing?


> The one in Alabama is identical to Russia?


Shenzhen isn't Beijing and Ohio isn't Alabama. Also, the idea that the culture in Shenzhen and Silicon Valley are identical remains ridiculous (try promoting anti-censorship technology in each place), and the shirts are obviously meant to be taken in same way that "better dead than red" doesn't mean you wish you were dead.

I should clarify that I'm from Finland, which gained independence from Russia in a clearly nationalist context. Not to belittle the troubling consequent alignment with Germany in WW2 which we tend to try to explain with "we didn't know Hitler was so evil" and the existential threat by Stalin. Regardless, national pride can take several forms. You could learn folk song and dance. Or you can wield torches in a skinhead march. I'd very much like to reclaim the concept from the latter.

>which we tend to try to explain with "we didn't know Hitler was so evil"

There is good reason to believe that the Finns aligned with Nazi Germany for purely tactical reasons of survival rather than any shred of ideological agreement. The notorious Hitler-Mannerheim conversation which consists of fifteen minutes of tape-recorded conversation was recorded initially without der Fuhrer's knowledge or consent, an act of subversion, and was preserved rather than destroyed, again against Hitler's express orders. It is essentially a boastful and deluded monologue from Hitler to an audience that continues to humor him rather than engage with him, even as he escalates into evident delusion and falsehood.



It feels like you're moving the goal posts - "celebrating national pride" is something you can do without banning people from your country or marginalizing them. Nationalism seems fundamentally opposed to multicultural society - it's not about people electing to do folk song and dance, and multiculturalism doesn't prohibit celebrating culture.

Nationalism does not directly lead into those things. My understanding is that's primarily about national sovereignity. Nativism is about discrimination of people based on origin or ethnicity. Obviously there are overlaps in the supporters of these ideologies. I am neither a nationalist nor a nativist myself.

Well, you must understand the historical context... It wasn't like Finland wanted to roll with Hitler. They were forced to, by the aggressiveness of the Soviet Union and the inaction of the Allied forces.

First, the Soviet Union had just become best buddies with the Nazis (Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its secret addendum). Second, after demands to cede Finnish territory were rejected, Soviet Union staged a false flag attack and threw eventually overall about a million troops at Finland. The attack was repelled but Finland had to cede roughly 12% of its territory.

Third, the Soviet Union was clearly not done, so what could Finland do? The horrors of 1939 were bound to happen again; Soviets were gearing for war and one could not really expect the weak and submissive Soviet population to make any kind of change for the better within their nation, that much had been taken care of by the death camps, deportations the secret police, tight control of the media, etc. The only actor who could realistically provide substantial help against the inevitable rematch with the Soviet madman was Nazi Germany, a nation run by another madman.

Had USA, UK and the Allies sent troops or at least enough material, or pressured the Soviets to drop their ambitions of annexing a neutral country, Finland would not have needed any help from the Nazis. As it was, Allied help on a meaningful level did not happen. The neighbouring neutral Sweden helped the most, for obvious reasons: if Finland fell, they would be next.

So, yes, it was an existential threat. However, as crude as it may sound, given the circumstances, Hitler being evil or not was surely not even considered.

  Mexico and Texas, which are pretty culturally similar and until recently were the same country
Actually, Texas was part of independent Mexico for less than 15 years, and that ended 182 years ago.

There are some clear cultural differences that America has with pretty much any other nation in the world.

The most notable is our very expansive definition of free speech, which has broad popular support and is found almost nowhere else in the world. American culture also exhibits a relatively high support for economic freedom and avoiding government largesse. Additionally, we have a strong liking of suburbs (as typified by the proverbial "white picket fence").

American culture has high support for other people avoiding government largesse. Nobody wants to give up their own subsidies, on the right or the left.

There is certainly some truth to what you say but it's not a universal rule. E.g. plenty of people refuse to sign up for welfare or unemployment benefits that they would qualify for, and we still have a bunch of states boneheadedly refusing to expand medicaid even though the expansion is almost fully paid for by the federal government.

It's ridiculous how strongly people object to the idea of preserving national culture or being nativist, when so many of them turn around and focus so heavily on cultural preservation and nativism when talking about gentrification and housing policy on a local level.

That's because the people who argue most fervently for "national culture" are at the same time often strongly opposed to contemporary culture (arts, poetry, classical music, etc.) and don't produce anything of cultural value themselves, whereas the people who actually advance the culture of their country tend to be indifferent or fairly cosmopolitan (as a tendency, of course there are exceptions).

Most people in the political center are able to recognize the cognitive dissonance of these self-proclaimed "nativists" and object to their hypocrisy.

Gentrification, on the other hand, is a real-world problem for anyone who lives in a big city and has nothing to do with local culture or nativism. People can literally no longer pay their rents.

Not easy to produce things of value when you get thrown out for your opinion from essenyial platforms, like venues, banking services, payment providers, college campus, etc

That's totally ridiculous and not even worth discussing. Unless you're a full-blown Nazi, terrorist, or communist and your main goal in life is trolling and spreading hatred, you'll have zero problems with any of the above essential platforms.

Just to give you a sense of how wrong you are, I'm working at a university and one of my colleagues is a fully convinced communist and another colleague is an overtly racist Social Darwinist. They are luckily the exception, but that's just because they defend fringe positions that most people do not and never will endorse. Big surprise. The center portion of the normal distribution is larger.

I was thinking less of the flavor and more the credibility as journalism. Even most people who disagree with the WSJ editorial positions would agree that they don’t just print bald-faced lies.

I’m not sure what that’s look like for nativism since so much of that movement has been based on mistruths but it’s definitely not Breitbart.

The problem seems to be that on many platforms, advocating something like enforcing existing immigration law gets you downvoted and shouted down as though you were advocating gassing the Jews. It seems to be even less tolerated than more extremist comments, because actual-Nazi comments get publicized as "look how terrible The Other Side is" whereas a more reasoned right-wing position might actually convince people.

For example, the top level comment in this thread has been flagged to death even though its gist is that people should look for news from multiple perspectives.

And when you have that kind of populist sentiment attacking anything that questions the party line, reasoned counterargument gets mushed into the same outlets that carry extremist conspiracy theories because they're the only ones not being cowed. Which naturally leads to the kind of polarization we've been seeing lately where both sides move away from the middle.

I'm astonished they accepted Breitbart in the first place. When I first heard about it, I checked it out and literally the first discussion in their comment section was about how to most efficiently gas the maximum number of jews in the US. I'm not kidding.

Breitbart is not the only problem of people who read it, many of them are mentally ill (schizophrenia) or they were raised in a way that makes it almost impossible to discern facts from fiction. Before you argue about that, I can guarantee you that I would - and in fact do - say the same about similar radical left-wing "news sites".

One problem at Wikipedia is that there is generally not enough vetting of the citation sources.

To be fair, that's not entirely their fault, because especially in the US there is a vast network of fake science and news sites powered by lobbyists, and it takes a substantial amount of effort to discern these from reputable sources. I've seen some interesting network analysis of the lobby sites of the US oil industry, and have to say that I wouldn't have been able to easily recognize their think-tanks and science information sites as fake. They're well-disguised and you have to look at interconnections, board members, and funding sources to find out who is really behind them. For example, some of them looked like legitimate sources about green energy technologies, but were in reality designed to poison the climate change debate and further the interests of oil concerns.

Conclusion: Don't focus too much on Breitbart, there are plenty of other seemingly legitimate associations, news sites, institutes and think tanks whose primary purpose is to bullshit people, and they are funded from the left and right.

You're making an extraordinary claim here. Care to provide a link backing it up? If not, this is just a slur.

You're implying that people who go to breitbart are mentally ill. Maybe they need help? Should be committed to an institution for their views? That worked out so well in the Soviet Union...

Yes, many of them are mentally ill, which is pretty obvious if you would actually care to check out their comments on Breitbart, which I have done.

I stand by my word, everything I've said about Breitbart is true, whether you like it or not. You can downvote me as much as you want, fact is that Breitbart is a hate speech site that also happens to copy & pastes news from other sources in order to disguise their real purpose. Anyone who thinks there could be a "news site" with a more right wing bias than Fox News is seriously deluded, because the primary goal of news reporting is not to politically influence the public towards radical anti-democratic world views and create chaos.

Just to make this clear, I'm not a US citizen and couldn't care less about Breitbart's fake news if Bannon hadn't recently announced that he wants to invest money to focus his propaganda efforts on the EU with the goal of disrupting the European Union and instigate chaos in Europe. There is no need to write indirect slurs about Breitbart, the truth suffices to discredit this site.

But if you want a real slur, no problem. Yes, the people who run Breitbart are absolutely despicable scum.

Would you read an ISIS "news site" to get your "news"? If the answer is no, then you also shouldn't read utter crap like Beitbart.

Ok, but where is your source that they have schizophrenia?

Unfortunately many conspiracy theorists suffer from schizophrenia, a tendency to believe in conspiracies is one of the symptoms of schizophrenia, and the Breitbart site comments section is full of conspiracy theories - or at least used to be (see below).

Note that I said "many" not "all" in the original post, and that was based on checking their comment section in 2016. Since then I haven't checked whether they have moderation now and whether this has changed, as you may imagine I have better things to do.

Note: Same poster as OP, just from a different account.

Multiple personalities?

It seems unhelpful to write off Breitbart readers as unaware of reality. They may be uncritical readers of the news, and they may have deplorable beliefs, but many sane, rational people believe terrible things. Or they're willing to associate with people who believe terrible things to further their own agenda, and be complicit in those terrible things.

I agree in hindsight that my comment was unhelpful. The anectdote about the "gassing the jews" thread was true, that was in 2016, but instead of bashing on breitbart I should have emphasized more that there are plenty of more legitimate looking sources of disinformation, especially in the US where lobbying has such a long and powerful tradition. That was the main point I tried to make, but my disdain for Steve Bannon and his entourage got in my way.

(Posted from another account, because I changed my machine, but I'm the same as OP.)

This says far more about the credibility of wikipedia’s editors than it says about Breitbart.

This is very bad.

A web site banned as a source for facts from schools the world over now bans a web site as a a source of its banned facts.

I get the joke, but it is worth clarifying that schools don’t ban it because it’s unreliable, but because it’s a secondary source. It’s done to teach sourcing discipline.

Many teachers accept other secondary sources, though. News article that summarizes a scientific paper? Ok. Wikipedia article citing that paper? Not ok. My impression of this has been a mix of misinformation (anyone can edit it, it must be wrong!), and the fact that it’s just too easy: it really doesn’t make students “work for” their information, so it completely throws off their schedule because everyone has quick access to a reasonably high-quality source.

It really is mostly FUD. Wikipedia tends to be quite accurate (on somewhat popular topics, anyway) precisely BECAUSE there are multiple people reviewing articles.

I'd argue that its strength is exactly being a secondary source, instead of just alledging facts someone has already taken the time to value multiple sources. Additionally the talk page often adds extra depth.

Instead of blindly hyping against Wikipedia, it should be taught to use it well (and not depend on it too much).

Unfortunately, most teachers don't understand this, and they tell the kids that Wikipedia is normally wrong about everything.

At least, that was my experience.

I'm pretty sure Wikipedia is a tertiary source, actually. Their guidelines recommend preferring secondary sources, and place significant restrictions on the use of primary sources. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:No_original_research...

I don't think schools ban Wikipedia because it's a secondary source. Because then they would also have to ban most textbooks.

Why wouldn't you want a student seeking a secondary (or more) source? Just blindly believe what the teacher says and don't question it? That education system is failing that student.

Given that you apparently didn't learn the difference between a primary source and a secondary source, I'd say the education system failed you.

A primary source is one that "creates" the information of history, e.g. a letter, journal entry, official announcement, or original research. A secondary source (nominally) synthesizes and summarizes primary sources into a coherent narrative.

I did learn the difference, over 20 years ago, and today is the first time it's come up since. No need to be rude.

That's not what "secondary source" means.

Thanks for clarifying that. Of course, nothing in a classroom is a primary source.

If you're saying that, you still haven't had the definition of "primary source" sufficiently clarified.


> In the study of history as an academic discipline, a Primary Source (also called an original source or evidence) is an artifact, document, diary, manuscript, autobiography, recording, or any other source of information that was created at the time under study. It serves as an original source of information about the topic. Similar definitions can be used in library science, and other areas of scholarship, although different fields have somewhat different definitions. In journalism, a primary source can be a person with direct knowledge of a situation, or a document written by such a person.

Many, many things in a classroom will be primary sources.

At my school (UK) we had 2 main sources - the teacher, and the textbook. Niether were primary.

Students used the internet a lot, and Encarta (lol), and were constantly getting grief from teachers for doing so.

Your textbooks are highly likely to have contained excerpts from primary sources.

thank god you know more about my education than I do.

You really want to argue that the UK educates students without a single excerpt from the Magna Carta, without a single Churchill speech, etc.? That you went through twelve years of schooling without ever being exposed to a historical figure's own words? You were never assigned a single autobiographical work to read from?

Be my guest, but good luck getting anyone to believe it.

edit: I'll just note, additionally, that you stated "nothing in a classroom is a primary source". Even if it were true that yours was an unprecedented aberration, that general statement remains untrue.

Could you please stop posting unsubstantive comments to Hacker News?


I'm a college professor and I tell students they shouldn't cite wikipedia because they shouldn't be citing any encyclopedias (except something like a legal encyclopedia or something like that) because they should look for primary sources. However, I tell them to go read wikipedia and look at the sources cited in a wikipedia article.

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