Wikipedia editors to snub "unreliable" Daily Mail

Wikipedia editors supporting the policy cited the Daily Mail's “reputation for poor fact checking, sensationalism and flat-out fabrication"

Editors of the global online resource Wikipedia have voted to prohibit the use of the Daily Mail as a credible reference for articles.

In what is seen as an unusual move for the online encyclopaedia, editors have voted that the publication is “generally unreliable” and have warned against its use - especially when other more reliable sources exist.

Anyone looking to upload information to the crowd-sourced encyclopaedia will be warned when attempting to cite the publication as a reference - and contributors are encouraged to remove and replace historical references “as appropriate.”

The editors have called for volunteers to review about 12,000 links to the Daily Mail already on Wikipedia and replace them with alternative sources where possible.

Fact checking

Editors supporting the move based their arguments on the Daily Mail’s “reputation for poor fact checking, sensationalism and flat-out fabrication.”

The website said examples were provided to back up the claims.

Editors who argued against the restrictions said the policy does not deal with other poor sources that are currently permitted.

They said the publication is “reliable for some subjects” and argued that it “may have been more reliable historically."

The website’s advice to editors had already warned against the use of any tabloid newspaper, “such as The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail” in place of a “more respected mainstream source.”

It also singled out state media in countries with low press freedoms including the Chinese press agency ‘Xinhua,’ the North Korean ‘Korean Central News Agency’ and ‘Press TV’ in Iran for special mention.

Online debate

The vote followed a month long online debate among the website’s editors.

Announcing the result of the poll, a statement on the website said: “Consensus has determined that the Daily Mail (including its online version, is generally unreliable, and its use as a reference is to be generally prohibited, especially when other more reliable sources exist.”

“As a result, the Daily Mail should not be used for determining notability, nor should it be used as a source in articles. An edit filter should be put in place going forward to warn editors attempting to use the Daily Mail as a reference,” it said.

A spokesperson for Wikimedia, the non-profit that hosts Wikipedia, said the policy is "not a blanket ban, but a general statement from volunteer editors on the reliability of the source for use on English Wikipedia."

"Wikipedia is a living, breathing ecosystem where volunteers regularly discuss and evolve the norms that guide the encyclopedia," she said.

She said that among Wikipedias "many policies and guidelines" there is even a recommendation to ignore all rules.

"It captures the open spirit of the community," she said. “If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.”

The Daily Mail has been contacted for comment.