Wikipedia Issues Near-Total Ban On Daily Mail As 'Unreliable' Source

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As a rule, Wikipedia accepts most any publication as an article source. If the information is credible and verifiable, it doesn't usually matter where it comes from. However, it just made one giant exception:

Wikipedia editors voted Wednesday to ban The Daily Mail as a source of reference in its entries, saying that the news website was “generally unreliable.”

The editors said the vote in favor of the ban stemmed from the website’s “reputation for poor fact checking, sensationalism, and flat-out fabrication.”

The move doesn't come out of nowhere. Editors have been discussing the reliability of the Daily Mail since 2015, and the decision to give it the boot came only after a month-long debate that began in January.

In early January, Wikipedia user Hillbillyholiday put in a request for comment on Wikipedia regarding British tabloid the Daily Mail. “Should we prohibit the use of The Daily Mail as a source?” 

“I envisage something just short of blacklisting, whereby its introduction to an article could be accepted only upon there being a demonstrable need to use it instead of other sources.” Hillbillyholiday wrote.

A lengthy, month-long discussion followed, at the end of which time Wikipedia’s editors voted, and a decision was reached: Daily Mail will no longer be used as a source.

In its description of the decision, editors summed up the pro-ban arguments as “centred on the Daily Mail’s reputation for poor fact checking, sensationalism, and flat-out fabrication.”

While they noted that there are subjects on which the Mail is reliable, they advised editors to find other sources where available.

The statement added: "The general themes of the support votes centred on the Daily Mail's reputation for poor fact checking, sensationalism, and flat-out fabrication."

A fiery debate on its suitability as a source ended with a consensus view that the Mail, and Mail Online, were "generally unreliable" and their use "is to be generally prohibited, especially when other more reliable sources exist."

There will be exceptions, of course: If the Daily Mail was more accurate in the past, those older stories may be useful.

And of course, it only makes sense to cite the paper in articles that are about the Daily Mail and its staff. Virtually everything else is forbidden, though, and editors are encouraging volunteers to look at and potentially replace roughly 12,000 existing links.

Wikipedia certainly has an incentive to clean up.

Wikipedia depends on donations to get by, and those won't be forthcoming if too many people question the accuracy of its stories. And like Facebook or other internet mainstays, it's under increasing pressure to combat fake and flawed news on at least some level. If Wikipedia were to do nothing, it could raise concerns that the organization relies more on the size and influence of a source than its authenticity.

Sources:

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