Home » What Does it mean for a Fact to be “Verifiable” on Wikipedia?

What Does it mean for a Fact to be “Verifiable” on Wikipedia?

by Nathan Zachary
Wikipedia experts

Verifiability of Wikipedia content is one of the core content policies of Wikipedia. The reliability of Wikipedia refers to maintaining Wikipedia’s validity and accuracy. The readers need to keep a check on the content uploaded, whether the information comes from credible, reliable, and authentic sources or not. The reliability of any Wikipedia project has been tested statistically through comparative reviews edited by volunteer editors who generate online content.

According to the Core content policies, Wikipedia’s content is governed by three principles. First, the neutral point of view suggests all the content, including articles and encyclopedic content should have a neutral point of view. The writers should illustrate views impartially without being biased. Second, verifiability refers to all quotations and other information incorporated in the article that must be extracted from reliable and published sources. In Wikipedia, verifiability signifies people reading and editing the encyclopedia should check the sources of information. They should identify reliable sources. Third, the editors should familiarize themselves with different issues interpreted. For instance, they should pinpoint the problems if they find any content irrelevant, having a conflict of opinion or talk pages involved with accusations, or any article without authentic sources. Consequently, Wikipedia page creators and editors are not permitted to add or delete unreliable information until it is verified through reliable sources.

The last core principle is No original research (WP: NOR). Wikipedia does not publish original thoughts; writers should use researched-based knowledge and information posted on the Wikipedia platform, printed newspaper, or peer-reviewed journal. Moreover, the content should not comprise void assumptions and personal experiences.

 The credibility judgments from professional Wikipedia experts determine that, in general, Wikipedia is more accurate than textbooks. The content can be made provable by checking the material comprising online citations, titles, and subtitles of the articles and the slogans used on the Wikipedia page. Moreover, the editors need to crosscheck the authentic sources of the article. For new researchers, Wikipedia articles and page content are a good starting point for research and acquiring accurate facts.

How to evaluate the Accuracy of a Wikipedia Content

Wikipedia maintains certain policies and organizational methods to evaluate the articles. The editor needs to be well-acquainted with the core policies. 

Look for template messages to know about issues in articles

While analyzing a template article,  the editors can observe the messages placed on an article indicating problems with citations and style. The articles having accurate information receive the status of “featured articles. You may see a star on the top right side which indicates that the papers have met Wikipedia standards of excellence.

Check whether the articles have citations for their assertions and facts.

The first thing wiki consultants need to do is check the article’s citations. According to Wikipedia’s guidelines, any material can be challenged without an accurate quote or source. Pay attention to the hyperlinked footnotes throughout the article. Note whether important assertions are being cited. If you find the quotes, you need to determine the article’s sources. Moreover, double-check if they are being cited properly. Some sources will be considered more convincing than others sources. However, it depends on the type of article written and the sources chosen to be included.

Before comipling an article, the writers should remember they should refrain from extracting citations from questionable and self-published sources. According to Wikipedia rules, these sources are not considered reliable since self-published books or content may create behavioral and emotional biases among the public. However, if any notable platform or publisher has already published the self-published book, then references are acceptable.

Consequently, the editor can look to authentic websites to check questionable sources that contain conflict of interest, biasness,  and extremism. Moreover, the reliability of the content requires checking whether the content is based on a rumor or personal thoughts.

The best creditable and legitimate source is an academic journal or a reliable publication. Often, the editor won’t get access to the first-hand material; in that case, the original research publication comes up as the most reliable choice to examine the authenticity of the sources.

Check the edit history of the article.

The articles published on the Wikipedia platform have an edit history. Through the tab labeled “History,” the editor can view the number of edits done over a while. Consequently,  they will get an idea of what changes were completed. This can be a good way to scan if the article was vandalized before. The editor needs to compare two of the listed versions to see  the edits done to the page. The comparsion enasee what was changed.

The edit history provides an IP address or a username for each edit to an article, as it is observed that many contributions are made anonymously. Having IP addresses help the editor trace details about the contributor. User pages also help to provide relevant information such as name, age, interests, education, career, and personal life. The editor can find the user’s page by clicking on the username in the edit history.

Take a glance over the Discussion Notes.

Another strategy to find out the article’s authenticity is to click on the “Discussion” tab found at the top of the article. The background discussion of an article can provide important information about the piece. For example, the editor comes to know why the article was written. In addition, the Discussion notes include challenges, ongoing arguments, and suggestions about bringing improvements.

To recapitulate

Wikipedia is a reliable encyclopedia platform that users can use to contribute articles and other content. The essential thing for a user is to get a registered Wikipedia account and create a user profile.

As you plan to write an article, choose an unbiased topic. The tone of the article should be fair and neutral. To find the best citation sites, users can find authentic content and quotes on Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic Search, and CiteSeerX.

These are reliable places to find academic articles. Remember, add your username to the content that makes it more convincing. Avoid using external resources for citations; it may make the article vandalized. Moreover, if a writer has misused the citations, they are accused of plagiarism. In such a case, the article will not be published, and the user’s account will be blocked. Therefore, it is vital to check the sources before writing the paper.

First, choose the sources that are the latest and relevant to your topic. Subsequently, find out the author who has cited the original content. Following these guidelines will assist you in writing genuine and well-researched content for your wiki page.

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