The Michigan Wiki serves to explore Michigan in-depth. To do so, we must address both fact and opinion. Primarily, the Michigan Wiki is not a publisher of original thought: all material published by the Michigan Wiki must be attributable in some manner. Items that are being expressed as fact need to be attributable to a reliable published source. Personal opinions and experiences, however, need to be attributed to the person who provides them. These are considered interviews and personal accounts. Interviews and personal accounts are valuable insights into the lives of Michiganders. They are, however, personal opinions and should be handled as such. The threshold for inclusion in the Michigan Wiki is whether material can be attributed, not whether it is true.
The essence of attributionEdit
All material in the Michigan Wiki that is stated as fact must be attributable to a reliable, published source; that is, a reliable, published source must exist for it. If none does, the material is regarded as original research and should be removed. In reality, not all material must actually be attributed, but attribution is required for quotations and for any material that is challenged or likely to be challenged.
Personal opinions added via interviews and accounts need to be directly attributable to the person who provides them. These should not be presented as fact, but rather as personal opinions. Interviews and accounts are kept on separate pages from attributable facts, but connected through special links.
Doesn't the Michgian Wiki care about truth?Edit
Michigan Wikians do care about the truth, but we are mindful of our own limitations. We want to produce a high-quality resource about Michigan, and by insisting on the use of reliable sources, we ensure that anyone can independently verify the facts (and sometimes opinions) we present. Editors should ensure that if majority opinions are mentioned in an article that significant-minority opinions are also included for fairness.
The threshold for inclusion in the Michigan Wiki is whether material can be reliably attributed, not whether any individual editor holds it to be true. In particular, material that an editor believes to be true but that cannot be attributed to a reliable source should not be included in this wiki. Articles should simply present reliably attributed statements, views, and arguments, and then allow our readers to judge truth for themselves.
What about information from personal blogs, forums or discussion boards?Edit
The Michigan Wiki does take into account that personal blogs are published on the Internet and widely accessible for the world to view. The Michigan Wiki does encourage the inclusion of factual information and even opinion provided that all are presented fairly and without bias. Whether or not a blogger had a bad experience at a hotel in Traverse City is irrelevant to the immediate discussion of the article. If a blogger provides facts, and citations for them, they are welcome to be included into the wiki. The same applies for forums and discussion boards, even if they are moderated. In an individual from one of these media is willing to be interviewed or provide a personal account, we would welcome it, under the provision that it be attributed directly to the individual and not a pseudonym.
Are wikis reliable sources?Edit
Wikis, including Wikipedia, Wikia and others, are not regarded as reliable sources. However, wikis are excellent places to locate primary and secondary sources. Many of them license content under the GFDL, which might be worth importing into the Michigan Wiki, but once imported, the material is subject to attribution and point of view rules expressed on this page.
Is IRC a reliable source?Edit
Transcripts of chatroom sessions are not reliable sources because they are unpublished, and we have no way of knowing who the authors are. Transcripts are also easily forged or altered.
Facts: Types of source materialEdit
What are primary, secondary, and tertiary sources?Edit
- Primary sources are documents or people very close to the situation you are writing about. An eyewitness account of a traffic accident published in a newspaper is a primary source. The White House's summary of a George Bush speech is a primary source. Publicly available databases, such as citation indexes and census surveys, are primary sources. Primary sources that have been published by a reliable source may be used for the purposes of attribution in the Michigan wiki, but only with care, because it's easy to misuse primary sources. For that reason, edits that rely on primary sources should only make descriptive claims that can be checked by anyone without specialist knowledge. Any interpretation of primary source material requires a secondary source.
- Secondary sources are documents or people that summarize other material, usually primary source material. They are academics, journalists, and other researchers, and the papers and books they produce. A theologian's account of what the Bible says is a secondary source. A sociologist thesis based on his research of primary sources is a secondary source. A journalist analysis of a traffic accident, is a secondary source. A New York Times analysis of a George Bush speech is a secondary source. Wikipedia articles should rely on reliable, published secondary sources wherever possible. This means that we publish the opinions of reliable authors, and not the opinions of Wikians who have read the primary source material for themselves.
- Tertiary sources are publications, such as encyclopedias, that sum up other secondary sources, and sometimes primary sources. The Michigan Wiki is a tertiary source.
What kinds of sources are generally regarded as unreliable?Edit
Some sources are generally unacceptable for use as references in Wikipedia; for example, because a source's contents, author(s), or authenticity cannot be reasonably confirmed:
- An anonymous source is an unnamed person or a work created by an unnamed author. Anonymous sources are not acceptable in the Michigan Wiki, because we can't know whether they are trustworthy or qualified to comment.
- An unpublished source is one that is not publicly available, or that has been distributed only through anonymous channels or forums, and for which a publisher cannot be identified. This includes any leaked information about government affairs or corporate policies. Unpublished sources may never be used as sources on this wikia.
- An obsolete source is one that is out-of-date, or has been officially withdrawn or deprecated by its author(s) or publisher. Some of these sources are valuable for historical perceptions and accounts, but should not be treated as a reliable source for modern information.
- A questionable source is one with no independent fact-checking process, or with a poor reputation for fact-checking. This includes gossip columns and sources that are entirely promotional in nature. Questionable sources should usually not be used as sources except in articles about themselves.
- A self-published source is material, online or in print, that has been published by the author, or whose publisher is a vanity press, web hosting service, or other organization that provides little or no editorial oversight. Personal websites, blogs, wikis, and messages on Internet message boards are considered self-published. With self-published sources, no independent entity stands between the author and publication; the material may not have been subject to any form of fact-checking, legal scrutiny, or peer review. For that reason, self-published material is usually not acceptable as a reliable source.
A compiled list of trustworthy online sources. These sources here are mostly accurate, but try to double-check whenever possible.
NOTE: Even though these sites are accurate, do not copy and paste from them. Please rewrite or paraphrase all information gathered. Sources cited should be the movie, novel, or book the website obtained their information from.
- Michigan.gov the State of Michigan official website and its subsidiary sections.
- Sites of news media and newsprint such as:
Opinions: Interviews and personal accountsEdit
So, what about interviews?Edit
Interviews conducted by Michigan Wiki contributors are welcome. If there is a local politician or respected member of the community who has some insight into the culture of Michigan, we welcome its inclusion. An interview expresses opinions and personal perceptions, however, and are kept as their own article, rather than as part of other articles. For example, if a respected leader in Petoskey gives an interview discussing life there, it is not included under the Petoskey article. Rather, it is included under a different name, such as [[Interview:Respected-leader on Petoskey]].
What about personal accounts?Edit
The Michigan Wiki is not against personal accounts. Accounts of an individual or event are opinions and recollections and should be marked as such. Accounts and other story-recollects should not be marked as fact. Eventually, we hope to have a specific namespace for accounts and recollections which can be shared by users.