This is a rant whose time has come. If you don't like my rant, there is a little arrow on the top of your browser bar and it points left. Clicking on
it will cause your screen to reverse to it's last page of display. That is probably the best course of action in that case....as I'm one steamed
Sources...... What are Sources? Sources are the places, people and texts we refer to in building a thread, a story or a good reply. Sources are as
much what is used in college as what is used in Blogland. What is a source though? What makes a source and why does it matter? Ahhh... I'll bet the
academics out there would love to see me drop into a lengthy and proper explanation while those I'd HOPE would read this have already yawned once and
started inching toward that back button.
WAKE UP ! ! !
I saw those droopy lids...and this is important!
The site we all know and love has a fever ....and it's a fever
of laziness coupled with a simple lack of caring enough to try.
I want to take a moment here and, as best I can from my understanding of how things work and don't work, explain how I look at all this and at least
one reasonable view of the problem.
The Hierarchy Of Story Sourcing - The 4 Rungs of Credibility
*-* Solid Source
So what does all that mean? Well, you go from the top of Authority which is something at the level of quality fit to write a story based entirely on
information from ......to Opinion. A moment to define those is needed.
is an Originating source of material. For example, if you are writing a thread about the Unemployment
situation in the United States and chose as your main data, the Bureau of Labor Statistics? You've chosen Authority
to cite. This is a
Government Agency dedicated to the sole purpose of collecting, analyzing and producing statistics blindly reporting that area for the U.S. Federal
Reports. There is not a source ABOVE that one they draw from beyond raw data itself. ...they personally collect or have delivered, the raw data they
work from and the raw data is collected to their specification. That defines an Authority
, in my opinion. When all comes FROM within them and
there is NO higher source to refer to......you have an Authority
Sources are the most commonly used and most challenging to define. It's not hard to say what they ARE..,.but limit to what they
ARE NOT. Everything from CNN to someone's Uncle Goober is quoted as a "source" these days and it's absurd! UNCLE GOOBER ISN'T A
I had to think harder than normal to come up with a logical and workable definition here. I've chosen to go with a common
sense approach rather than anything "technicalese" in wording.
A Source can best be defined as a person, organization or data collection that is widely accepted and acknowledged as credible. When citing a
source, personal opinion of it's value is irrelevant. 100% irrelevant.
If those reading your words don't consider the source credible, then
it won't matter how much time or work or effort you put into it. Your words won't be accepted as accurate or valuable in a discussion. With that in
mind, a good researcher or contributor will look at source credibility first from the perspective of the OPPOSITION in the debate. After all, if that
group laughs at the source, the debate ended before it began and all
was for nothing more than poor practice.
In the case of stories across MSM and our current events, I'll go one step further to say that the level of source credibility MUST rise in direct
proportion to the degree of personal meaning or impact which stories may have on those reading them
. I recently did a lengthy thread on Chief
Joseph and some of the last of the Native Americans who roamed free across the land. I know ATS has Native Americans. My thread was not in ANY WAY
debate or controversy based.
However, that audience would know the topic matter better than I do ...and the topic itself is emotional. So, the need to use the very best was
determined not by a desire to max the Star Lines and Flag Count.......but to do justice to a topic and honor to those who would read it.
In Outright debate? I'd adjust the last line above to read "......but to do justice to a topic and be correct AS WELL as
" (Those two things are very different....and the lack of seeing a difference is part of what causes this
I think ATS has had recently)
References come below sources and are the places we go to first on a story. At least most of us do. These are the places you
get the basic outline and general facts before going to verify things, learn the full details and determine what IS factual and what is NOT.
References include places like Wikipedia and News Aggregation sites such as Drudge Reports, Martinez Report, Hot Air and BreakingNews.
References are defined on two ways and they are clear.
First, is a bit subjective but no less clear in result all can see and know. It's first defined as those 'sources' your opposition in a debate or
those a story is written for do not or will not accept as a credible place to get information from. If I were to write a Tome about the evils of the
Democratic Party and first went to the Republican National Committee archives for data, I would be using a reference, not a source. I might see it as
a source.....but opposition in the topic wouldn't accept it as even a reference if openly cited. So....it's a place to start from not end
Second, References are easily and clearly defined by those places which source everything THEY post. In Wikipedia's case, every line is usually cited
and numbered. Wikipedia is a reference. The citations at the BOTTOM of a Wikipedia entry are possible sources.
Drudge Report headlines form a
reference. They link to sources. (sometimes...gotta check the links on a case by case,
The first thing to note is that I am NOT separating Personal, Professional, Educated, Idiotic or half ass from each other.
Opinion is Opinion. If an INDIVIDUAL is taken by the audience of readers as credible, the opinion will be accepted that way. If not? No degree of
accuracy to an opinion will make any difference whatsoever. None.
A PhD can site a moron off the street for an opinion and a Moron can cite a
Doctor. Opinion is generally worthless outside of relaying DIRECT AND PERSONAL experience because it's credibility is 100% subjective and changes
radically to each person reading. Therefore, opinion is great for background, explanation and context......but it's absolutely meaningless in
presentation of fact for an audience doesn't take the writer or his cited opinion as expert or at least knowledgeable in.
edit on 24-12-2012 by Wrabbit2000 because: (no reason given)