Prepare your popcorn: Wikipedia deems the Daily Mail unreliable

Stage set for Jimbo Wales vs Paul Dacre. Who will win?

Friends look shocked watching TV. photo by Shutterstock

Welcome, Mr Dacre. Wikipedia editors have voted to put The Daily Mail in the sin bin – alongside The Register.

After a small but decisive vote involving around 80 contributors, the Mail is now classified as a "potentially unreliable source" on its advice page. This doesn't mean its a "policy" or a "guideline", but editors are free to use the justification to snip links to the Mail.

The Mail "is no longer considered to be a reliable source and cannot be used to demonstrate notability", contributors are advised in Wikipedia's revised not-a-guideline guideline.

The same advice page describes El Reg thus:

In general, tabloid-journalist newspapers, such as The Sun, Daily Mirror, equivalent television shows, or sites like The Register, should be used with caution, especially if they are making sensational claims.

Opposing the not-a-ban, contributor "DrChrissy" pointed out that it was already difficult to cite the Mail.

"I am totally fed up with seeing this subject come up. Many, many readers are not aware of the disdain with which the Mail is viewed by some editors and then when they try to use it as a source, they are treated as if they are stupid or deliberately trying to get around PAGs. I know this from personal experience when in the distant past I tried to use the Daily Mail as a source – a sharp learning curve ensued," the contributor explained.

Others opposed because "Bashing the Mail is fun, and it doesn't look as if anyone disagrees much that it is best avoided, but that there will possibly be rare occasions when it will be a good source, given the context."

Looking at Wikipedia's greatest 16 howlers, all were inserted without the help of the Daily Mail or any other newspaper.

And the list doesn't include our favourite "Wiki-fact" of all time: that Ronnie Hazlehurst co-wrote a hit for S Club 7. That delicious but phoney factoid was born on Wikipedia and used in many newspaper obituaries.

Despite being in the sin bin, El Reg has won plenty of friends at Wikipedia in recent years, after reporting on the diverging views and needs of the community (who go unpaid) and the burgeoning Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) that raises and dispenses cash (employees of which are paid).

After we reported that the WMF would ignore a pledge by Jimmy Wales to stop nagging Wikipedia readers for money if it met its fundraising goal early, the foundation eventually relented, and took down the nagging banners.

By our calculation that saved Wikipedia users being bombarded by around 300 million additional advertisements over the Holiday Season.

We look forward to seeing how the Mail's editor, Paul Dacre, will respond to the snub.

Bring some popcorn. ®

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