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I was about to do a translation of a Wikipedia article when I noticed that it contained a question with answers from serverfault as a reference.

I think this is pretty cool. Does anybody know of other uses in Wikipedia?

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Shouldn't that be on meta.wikipedia.org ? –  Kobi Aug 19 '10 at 4:52

5 Answers 5

Generally, this'd be against Wikipedia policy on verifiability, as they discourage using self-published sources lacking editorial oversight.

They do allow exceptions for people viewed as experts who've been published by reliable third-party publications. So Jon Skeet would be acceptable, because he's written books on C#.

Update: Circular references considered harmful.

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SO isn't a reliable 3rd party? Joel will set the dog on you! –  Martin Beckett May 5 '10 at 16:45

If you do a wikipedia search for StackOverflow.com you can see that there are several articles that cite StackOverflow.com as a reference.

The Slowloris article seems to be the only mention of Serverfault, and there seems to be no mention of SuperUser.*

(Excluding the articles that are about the sites themselves)

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Yes, in Lua (programming language) the Stack Overflow question Why is Lua considered a game language? is used as a reference.

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Wikipedia's rules on Reliable Sources are in balance with policies on keeping a Neutral Point of View. This includes giving attribution for sources that might be expressing an opinion. So while it would likely be against policy to simply state something as fact and give SO as the citation, it wouldn't necessarily be a problem to say: "A question on StackOverflow.com, a popular Q&A website for computer programmers, explained..."

It would ultimately be up to whether or not there were other sources which disputed the claim, whether the SO user was already well-known, and whether the article was contentious enough for anyone to care or even notice.

On the spectrum of reliable sources, going from published third-party reference, to first-party blog, to pure hearsay, community Q&A sites are somewhere between the first two. I imagine that the reputation of the author would take precedence over the consensus indicated by total votes, although there might be a situation where an article identified a fact as, "based on the highest voted answer on Q&A site StackOverflow..."

Interesting question. I don't think Wikipedia has a specific guideline on this yet. The relevant guideline might not be Verifiability, because a reader can indeed just go check the StackOverflow site, but that would depend on SO already being recognized as a reliable source that readers could verify for themselves.

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In the slowloris article it is used like that. It is only a reference for the sentence "x,y, znd z have all been suggested as means of reducing the likelihood of a successful Slowloris attack" –  Martin Smith Aug 19 '10 at 12:12
    
@martin Yeah, that seems like a good use for it. Limited scope and well qualified. –  Ocaasi Aug 19 '10 at 13:14

I would think SO would not be frowned upon as sources of self-published information as they are explicitly peer reviewed. A SO question may well get hundreds of reviews by experts and peers in the field, while a peer reviewed paper only gets a dozen.

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That's a good point about peer review. The problem is that all Q&A sites are technically peer-reviewed, so determining whether one was reliable or not would require second/third party sources describing the site as a reliable place/great place for answers, etc. But even then, each question is potentially un-reviewed, or reviewed by people without qualifications. It's a generally muddy area. Peer review usually requires that people with expertise are the reviewers, and while that is certainly sometimes the case on SO, it can vary by question due to the free-wheeling nature of the site. –  Ocaasi Aug 20 '10 at 3:12

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