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Wikipedia frequently-encountered sources, color-coded by perceived reliability (wikipedia.org)
99 points by ColinWright 9 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 79 comments

I have to laugh at the Times of India (rated yellow) comment - "It tends to have a bias in favor of the Indian government".

Times of India, An Phoblacht, CGTN, Global Times, Press TV, Ria Novosti, Russia Today, Sputnik, TASS, Telesur, Venezuelanalysis and Xinhua are all yellow or red.

BBC, Bellingham, Economist, Forbes, Fox News, New Republic, NPR, Reason and Weekly Standard are all rated green.

It is pretty clear - sites generally supportive of the US/UK governments and their businesses are OK. Sites generally supportive of India, Venezuela, Russia, the Irish minority(/majority) in north Ireland, China etc. are not OK. It's just a myopic view of the world from two English-speaking countries, and English Wikipedia.

Bias and spin is allowed as long as the content is factually correct. Reliable relates to factual accuracy not spin, story selection etc. It’s one thing not to cover an inconvenient story, it’s another to lie about what happened.

Fox News is well known for massive bias in the US, but they try to stick to the facts. Russia Today etc is a little more factually flexible.

PS: Just be careful, saying something factually accurate that’s misinterpreted by most viewers is a common tactic. For example talking about US “income tax” as if it where the only US tax on people’s incomes.

> Fox News is well known for massive bias in the US

It's also worth emphasizing that the rating of Fox News changes dramatically based on the type of programming. The talk show segments (e.g., Fox and Friends) are rated as bad content. They also indicate that you should use caution citing Fox News for politics and science since it's biased.

Regarding Fox News in particular, they are split into three parts: talk shows, politics and science, and everything else. The talk shows are red for "generally unreliable", politics and science are yellow for "no consensus", and everything else is green for "generally reliable".

It's interesting that they didn't do a similar split for CNN or MSNBC. The summary for both networks says to consider talk shows as "opinion pieces", which should not be "considered reliable for [...] statements asserted as fact", but then why aren't they split out as separate sources?

The war propaganda from those outlets marked green is not at all factual.

"<some government official> said <false claim>" is still factual reporting if said government official did in fact make the false claim. It would be wrong to cite it as proof that the claim is in fact true, but it would be a good source to cite to show that the claim was made.

Does nobody remember the Iraq war? The administration followed the media, not the other way


I had not yet learned English at the time and I was definitely not reading the New York Times, so no, I do not remember their coverage of the Iraq war.

That said, your link contradicts your statement that "the administration followed the media":

> The way the pre-war game worked was that Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, an exile opposition group, served as a public relations clearing house for Iraqi defectors under Hussein. Chalabi then connected the defectors with journalists like Miller so they could tell their wild tales, based on what they claimed was first-hand knowledge, about Iraq's mounting WMD threat. Of all the mainstream journalists on the defector beat however, Miller was the most impressed and least skeptical of Chalabi's sources; sources who were spreading pro-war talking points on behalf of the pro-war American administration.

There are no links to any NYT articles based on Chalabi's sources, but I assume they still presented the information they got from him as something a source had told them, not something that the reporters themselves hat witnessed in person.

the news use to be like this https://youtu.be/rWtwjDhgN3Q?t=32

Theater basically.

> Russia Today etc is a little more factually flexible.

Russia Today is a state-run propaganda outlet specifically structured to engage viewers and shift perspectives outside of Russia about Russian behaviors and affairs. It's essentially the Russian government pulling a "Radio Free Europe"[1] against the US, and it's no surprise that RT has become a darling for conspiracy theorists and right-wing trolls in the US since.

Calling RT "factually flexible" is hilarious and far too charitable. The grandparent has a point that their green sources tend to be biased towards a pro-West point-of-view, but pointedly they're also all sources which exist (for better or for worse) as editorially independent from their governments, and have a strong history of criticism of their own government as well as governments around the world. The sources considered yellow aren't merely biased, they have a history of being shills, choosing not to run stories or to outright lie when it benefits their government or political agenda. Many of the red sources could only be quantitatively considered "fake news".

It's not a mistake that US/UK based sources are more reliable than sources elsewhere, and while it likely is somewhat influenced by the bias of the people making the list, it's also heavily influenced by the reality of the situation. Most of the world, especially the developing world, does not have a true freedom of the press that has been established in the West for far longer. This situation is shifting, to some degree, but we've also seen backslides. Honest journalism and press freedom isn't something we can take for granted, we must actively fight to keep it and to hold journalists and governments accountable as a people. It was just in 2018 that Hungary (an EU member state) had it's /last/ opposition non-state media outlet shut down under threat, and now has all of its Hungarian-language news completely beholden to the state. This isn't a case unique to the developing world, it's happening in parts of Europe too, and we've seen dangerous shifts in the US.

I think the grandparent's complaint is honestly more biased than this list, and reveals that they hold resentment towards the West and believe (rightly) that the world is dominated by a Western narrative as an outcome of the US global hegemony. What they fail to admit to themselves is that this also is the driving force behind press freedom increasing globally, because the natural state of affairs is for media to avoid stepping on toes, and they must admit that most of the outlets they've listed, including the Times of India, have taken blatant actions that would call their reliability into question.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Free_Europe/Radio_Libert...

Do you honestly believe that, for example, the Economist is just as partial as RT, Sputnik, Telesur, or Xinhua? If not, then what point are you actually making? Your comment is purely surface level and relies heavily on cherry picking the data. Not least because there are numerous UK/US sources which are deemed unreliable, and numerous non-US/UK sources which are deemed reliable.

What makes you sure that the BBC, Economist et al. are not genuinely more reliable than, say, Russia Today?

The BBC was banned from broadcasting the voices of Sinn Féin MPs who had been elected to the UK parliament.

So starting from the vantage of a news service banning interviews with members of its own country's parliament, outlets like Russia Today have to be below that bar.

A number of Russian outlets are listed as unreliable - perhaps some of them are tabloids like English language tabloids, but it seems that all Russian outlets with a standard mild or heavy support of their government are not OK, whereas this is not the case for the US and UK outlets with the same mild to heavy view of things from their country's vantage. It is just the myopic view of the English speaking countries.

> The BBC was banned from broadcasting the voices of Sinn Féin MPs who had been elected to the UK parliament.

The British government instituted that ban, not the BBC. That was also ended almost 30 years ago.

Russia is very low on press freedom (142) while the UK is at (28) is high [1] which seems to be the reason for its outlets to be unreliable.


Everyone in the UK was banned - but they got round it by having an actor reading what the SF MP's said.

SF could have go round this by taking up their seats and using parliamentary privilege.

To take up their seats, they would have had to swear an oath - "I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God."

So if the Irish republicans had sworn an oath of allegiance to the queen, her heirs and their successors, they could have had the benefits of UK press freedom. Ok.

It's clear that the ban on Sinn Féin members speaking on television was an abuse (by the government). But given that the BBC sidestepped the ban by having them re-voiced by actors (purportedly making Thatcher furious) it's difficult to see them as anything other than independent-minded in this instance.

My question wasn't "what makes you think the BBC is perfectly reliable", but "what makes you think it's not more reliable than RT et al."

That's one of the biggest problems with Wikipedia. "Reliability" is based on perception and PR rather than any objective metrics. Which is due to the bigger problem that there really is no objective way to measure it. I don't know if there's any better way to do it, but right now the opinions of the most active users are the opinions that get accepted as facts.

I could count two non US/UK green sources. If that's the outlook they have, Wikipedia should have no business documenting anything outside the Anglosphere.

I count eight of them. I'm not sure which six you ignored, but there's three of them before you live the 'A's.

The bias you're seeing towards the lack of non-Anglosphere sources in the list is likely the bias against non-English sources--whether good or bad. There's not a lot of French newspapers in that list, for example.

This list is essentially culled from discussions of "is this source reliable or not?" on the English-language discussions in Wikipedia. Non-English-language sources simply aren't going to appear in those discussions with any frequency, because most editors editing English-language articles aren't going to be using non-English-language sources.

> There's not a lot of French newspapers in that list, for example.

Which isn't that surprising considering that English sources are preferred for the English-language Wikipedia.

Usually, if there's something important in a French newspaper then English-language ones will report it as well, through their local correspondents.

This is a terrible take.

State media from countries without free press doesn’t really have a chance to be independent (and thus not reliable).

It’s not really about US or UK it’s about countries with a reasonably free press vs countries without.

If I want a perspective from Russia, there are outlets other than RT to look at.

You seriously think RT should be given the same credence as the BBC?

Now that's worthy of a laugh.

Fox News is deemed reliable for news excluding politics and science.

Also if you want to read the 70.000-word RfC regarding this issue: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Not...

> Sites generally supportive of India, Venezuela, Russia, the Irish minority(/majority) in north Ireland, China etc. are not OK.

I can't square that these ratings from Wikipedia:

- The Hindu: trustworthy. There is consensus that The Hindu is generally reliable and should be treated as a newspaper of record.

- Al Jazeera: trustworthy. Al Jazeera is considered a generally reliable news organization.

- The Indian Express: trusted. The Indian Express is considered generally reliable under the news organizations guideline.

- The South China Morning Post: trusted. The South China Morning Post is widely considered to be the English-language newspaper of record in Hong Kong.

- Xinhua News Agency: no consensus. Xinhua News Agency is the official state-run press agency of the People's Republic of China. There is consensus that Xinhua is generally reliable for factual reporting except in areas where the government of China may have a reason to use it for propaganda or disinformation. Xinhua is also generally reliable for the views and positions of the Chinese government and its officials. For subjects where the Chinese government may be a stakeholder, the consensus is almost unanimous that Xinhua cannot be trusted to cover them accurately and dispassionately; some editors favour outright deprecation because of its lack of editorial independence.

I had the same experience some years ago when I looked up a terror bombardment against Copenhagen by the British in 1807:


I was trying to find out if terror bombardments were a standard part of war at the time, but couldn't help noticing that there was a pretty stark difference between the facts present in the English version and those present in the Danish.

Denmark was neutral, and Danish troops were stationed with the king at the border to guard against a possible attack from the French army, while the navy was mostly not fitted out for war in alignment when the neutral status. Then the Brits came and set the capitol on fire with a huge bombardment, when the Danish king refused to abandon neutrality. Well, he had to abandon it afterwards - when the Brits took the navy, there was no defending against Napoleon.

An Phoblacht is certainly not considered unbiased in Ireland, given that it is published by a political party

Based on its inclusion in your list of objections above, I assert that you know less about this subject than the community of wikimedia editors whose consensus this list reflects, and are arguing from a position of ignorance

If I look at this list then I don't really see any evidence of the allegations in your comment, and find your list of alleged examples to be highly cherry-picked and misleading.

Fox News' listing explicitly excludes politics and science; it's listed as "Fox News (news excluding politics and science)". And Fox News talk shows are red. This sounds about right. Many other entries are considerably more nuanced; Reason, for example, is listed as "generally reliable for news and facts. Editors consider Reason to be a biased or opinionated source that primarily publishes commentary, analysis, and opinion articles. Statements of opinion should be attributed and evaluated for due weight." Again, this sounds about right for Wikipedia's purpose.

Quite a few of the "non-American" examples you list are explicit propaganda outlets of authoritarian governments. I don't see the problem with being careful with those. I don't know about the Times of India specifically, but a number of other Indian publications are listed as green, such as The Hindu and The Indian Express. There is also the South China Morning Post with the comment that "additional considerations may apply for the newspaper's coverage of certain topics, including the Chinese Communist Party and the SCMP's current owner, Alibaba."

This is for the English-language Wikipedia, so it's no surprise that English publications (i.e. the UK and US) dominate the list. And besides, there are many American and British entries that are listed as red or yellow: The Daily Mirror, Gawker, AlterNet, Breitbart News, BuzzFeed, Cato Institute, CEPR, Cracked.com, The Daily Caller, HuffPost, New York Post, OANN, The Sun, and more.

It’s myopic to assume that other countries have identical values and that their news souces wouldn’t be influenced by those values.

This is honestly a good read, even though it's likely quite confronting for many people.

I've been balls-deep in the Australian propaganda industry and it's frankly disconcerting how much power certain people hold over society in the media industry. It's obvious that Goebbels wetdreams came true in the 21st century and western governments are lapping it up while improving on his techniques.

Propaganda is no longer a dirty word, it's a way of life.

> and it's frankly disconcerting how much power certain people hold over society in the media industry

Without disagreeing, most people don't cling to power. They very willingly find someone likeable and give their power to them.

There are always going to be people with a disconcerting amount of power. One of the internet's more transformative facets is that now literally everyone has access to a channel where they can stand up and be that likeable person without being vetted by the media establishment.

> Propaganda is no longer a dirty word

About 80 years ago, it wasn't a dirty word, because it literally means " Material disseminated by the advocates or opponents of a doctrine or cause". It is inherently not good or bad, it is simply information you use to convince people of something. Climate change data is propaganda for climate change science.

It's the rhetoric of smart people combined with the assumptions of stupid people that have given it a permanently negative connotation.

What's the Australian propaganda industry? Are you referring to Rupert Murdoch?

ABC Australia and SBS are extremely slow to retract false or misleading news. SBS has refused to retract false information outright (they have zero oversight for online operations). ABC takes over a month to retract, sometimes as long as 3 months.

News Corp and Fairfax both retract false information fast. From my limited experience, News Corp issued a retraction within 10 minutes of my email and Fairfax within 2 days. Both fair.

ABC? 2+ months. SBS? Never.

Without commenting on quality, at least the private sector bothers to correct what they say. ABC and SBS couldn't care less.

You can choose your own adventure there. Rupes or <Nameless>, it's honestly all the same.

They A/B test you for outrage and optimise. When was the last time the news told you everything was actually all fine?

Everything being fine isn't much of a news, is it?

Yes, it is! Lots of great things are newsworthy – but they don't induce that “oh no, I need to learn more” feeling.

Curious and funny: The Onion is slightly more reliable than some non-satire websites.

For Wikipedia's purposes, I would think Onion would be an outright "Do not use".

I wonder what cites The Onion? The only reason I can think of would be for meta-Onion entries, e.g., Wiki entry on The Onion itself, perhaps their management board, etc.

I clicked on a few random references.

Several use The Onion to establish "Cultural Significance": the logic seems to be that if something is well-known enough for The Onion to mock, it has a reasonable amount of cachet.

Clever, as I doubt there are many sources that literally report "X is a household name."

I guess something to the extent of: "[action X] was widely mocked in the press ..."

It should be noted that plenty of sources that is describe as reliable has disputed quality in term of bias, which I would generally describe as the difference between fact and narrative. The factual reporting from those are usually true, but the narrative might not be, and thus WP authors need to take care of omissions and added opinions by the journalists.

yes, npr has been my main news source for a while, but i can no longer listen for more than a few minutes at a time (to try to stay informed) because the outrage narratives have been turned up to 11. it's non-stop and highly grating. certain voices are an insta-off for me and the list of those voices only keeps growing.

I like how they list themselves as unreliable.

It's funny because in practice probably all of us use Wikipedia as essentially gospel when it comes to almanac facts such as historical people's birthdates or survey numbers, ie average rainfall or the region some tree owl lives in.

Precisely because we expect that Wikipedia has sourced this information, such as climate data, from a reliable location - i.e. not made it up for itself.

The great thing about Wikipedia is that you can very easily see if something is sourced and where it is sourced from.

Trust, but verify.

well, checking the source can be complicated, if it's a web page that had disappeared before being archived or a book/publication.

The link rot on wikipedia is pretty bad.

I don't really have an easy solution. People aren't doing it in bad faith. Do laws prevent archiving for the purpose of referencing? IANAL but it certainly sounds like one of the copyright exemptions.

If so there could be a "wikisource" that fetches sites when referenced and then archives them. This isn't IA, it's a different goal really.

What I find ironic is that any site that covers politics is considered reliable. Trying to be unbiased or accurate in political reporting is like trying to wash the dishes with paper gloves on.

Anything goes on wikipedia as long as it are established long term so called contributors doing it - there are no rules.

It gets spectacularly hilarious where the best way to become a long term contributor is by deleting a lot of contributions. The more people you run off the wiki the more praise from others doing the same.

You have to ask the right questions like: "Why are you not writing articles?" The logs are all there. I'm not making stuff up. Its a honest question to ask if someone is deleting well researched properly sourced contributions day and night the year round.

It gets quite hilariously silly where it is argued that peoples identity can not be verified. It is amazingly easy for someone [old] with a life time worth of experience in a field to write down some completely obvious things - but not as easy as pressing a delete button in anonymity. You should ask about this and enjoy the absurd answers.

It's the usual NYTimes, WaPo good, FoxNews bad list.

Did you read the list? From what i got, it was NYTime > Wapo = FoxNews > random Tabloids, do you have an issue with this?

Do you think in general, Fox News is more reliable than the New York Times (when one is a televised source with article covering their shows, and the other a newspaper with limited editorial content)? In fact, in a nutshell, would you trust a random editorial on science and technology from the NYT or a random editorial on science and technology from Fox News?

I know i trust the scientific doing vulgarization work for the NYT more than scientific ones factchecking the "science" on Fox News, but this is just because i don't know who Fox News hired for this, do you have information on him?

By the way, the man writing science articles for France NYT equivalent (le Monde) is really biased and i don't trust any of his article by principle, so its no a "mainstream media good!" position, i just read articles, compare what i know for sure and the articles, and if its more wrong than right, I throw the man and whatever he ever wrote after that in field i don't really get (so not physics and not compsi). I can't do that for Fox News (its not often signed sadly, and its often shitty pseudoscience). If you have a method that tells you that Fox News is factually better than the NYT (and not an arbitrary one), could you share this method?

Fox News is listed as a good source of any non politics and science news, with those two being in the no consensuses category.

And Fox News was not the only thing identified with this separation. On the flip side, HuffPost basically fell in to the same category of good source for general news, don't use for politics.

It states that Fox News (politics and science) is viewed as biased and opinionated by most editors.

There is no similar warning on The New York Times.

In my opinion, they are both equally biased and opinionated, but in opposite directions, left and right.

So this pair of ratings shows the left bias of Wikipedia, and its editors.

And there are other (better) right-leaning sources listed as reliable for politics. The Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, for example.

Washington times and examiner got a fairly positive treatment as well.

Does that list usually contain hundreds of other entries, with accompanying explanation? What exactly was the point of your comment?

> There is consensus that RT is an unreliable source, publishes false or fabricated information, and should be deprecated along the lines of the Daily Mail. Many editors describe RT as a mouthpiece of the Russian government that engages in propaganda and disinformation.

I'm not saying that this is untrue or that RT is a reliable source, but I can't actually recall or find a specific example of false or fabricated information published by RT. Does anyone have a good example?

The "reliability" levels reveal more about the inherently biased beliefs of the most active users (i.e., editors) than about the sources themselves. It turns out that "facts" are surprisingly slippery.

Hacker News is missing!

I'm not sure if you're making a joke or what, but why would Hacker News count as a source? It is a bunch of semi-anonymous comments on aggregated stories (which might not even be news). It absolutely should not even be considered as a source.

I just think a big issue is that people are ignorant about how to recognize and what it means to be a primary source vs secondary source vs opinion based in fact vs opinion based on falsehood vs something pulled out of thin air.

I've too often seen people on here make "arguments", citing only some unsourced op-ed piece to back up their claim, as if it means anything. It's exhausting.

I presume it would follow the same guideline as Reddit and r/IAmA, i.e. a primary source for verified accounts, but "generally unreliable" for everything else.

And this is how 'reality' gets a left wing slant.

What ratings in that table do you feel are unfair?

One good example is the SPLC, which has routinely marked conservative groups which they deem to have wrongthink to be grouped in with Neonazi's and other radical racial organizations.


The actual evaluation of SPLC is

> The Southern Poverty Law Center is considered generally reliable on topics related to hate groups and extremism in the United States. As an advocacy group, the SPLC is a biased and opinionated source. The organization's views, especially when labeling hate groups, should be attributed per WP:RSOPINION. Take care to ensure that content from the SPLC constitutes due weight in the article and conforms to the biographies of living persons policy. Some editors have questioned the reliability of the SPLC on non-United States topics. SPLC classifications should not automatically be included in the lead section of the article about the group which received the classification. The decision to include should rather be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Does "biased and opinionated source" not sufficiently reflect your views?

Maybe the color code is shitty, i agree with that. SPLC should be yellow.


The Southern Poverty Law Center is considered generally reliable on topics related to hate groups and extremism in the United States. As an advocacy group, the SPLC is a biased and opinionated source. The organization's views, especially when labeling hate groups, should be attributed per WP:RSOPINION. Take care to ensure that content from the SPLC constitutes due weight in the article and conforms to the biographies of living persons policy. Some editors have questioned the reliability of the SPLC on non-United States topics. SPLC classifications should not automatically be included in the lead section of the article about the group which received the classification. The decision to include should rather be decided on a case-by-case basis.


For information, hatewatch indeed group KKK, Neonazi with other conservative groups, anti-LGBT especially, and sometime anti-abortion group depending on the degree of proselytism. It is a antifa technique, really soft as only the organization and the leaders are on the list. It is useful knowledge, but not as much as the private antifa lists (that include members of the organization too).

Your really going there after the events of the 6th of Jan?

Pretty much just a color-coded list of American-Left == right, American-Right == wrong. Quite congratulatory for those who agree, but makes for pretty dull reading for those already weary of this forced dichotomy.

Kind of, but it just depends on what you consider American-Left and American-Right. Most actual leftist publications on there are listed as biased and are in the "no consensus" category. Though I only see two or three that I recognize and would call leftist.

> Though I only see two or three that I recognize and would call leftist.

That may say more about you than about the list ;)

Maybe, but I just mean publications that are left of liberalism. Not sure what else to call them besides leftist.

Except for the ADL, essentially a pro-Israel lobbying group, marked as "reliable".

You are confusing ADL with AIPAC.

ADL is not a lobbying group at all.

Well reality has a well-known liberal bias.

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