From Otherkin Wiki

people can say pretty much anything they want on the internet. how do we know if a source is honest?

(using the word 'honest' because things don't have to be hard facts to be useful here)

types of source: primary, secondary, tertiary

There are lots of questions you can ask about a source to determine whether or not it’s reliable:

  • Is there an attributed author? When people don't want to put a name to their posts, they almost always have an agenda. maybe this is for harmless reasons, like having concerns about their privacy or safety. But it often makes it more difficult to ask other questions about the reliabilty of the sources, such as:
    • Do they have the authority to be talking about this subject? If a person is writing about what it's like to be an elf, they should probably be an elf themself! But people can have authority in other ways - a person conducting a qualitative study on phantom limbs has the authority to do so if they have a sociology degree and they've used the proper scientific method. That said, an article on an experience or community should always be primarily built on sources _by people who actually have that experience or are part of that community_.
      • Is there a way to contact them if you have questions or corrections? Typically, good authors are open to hearing conflicting viewpoints, or willing to correct themselves if they got something wrong. If you spot something that doesn't sit right with you and there's no way to talk to the author about it, that's usually not a good sign.
  • What’s the purpose of the piece? Is it a personal essay? Is it trying to be an objective description of something? Is it a persuasive piece which is trying to convince the reader of something? Or even a shitpost?
    • Is it biased towards a specific viewpoint? A good source should not try and present a specific viewpoint as fact. An opinion piece is one thing, But making generalizations as if that opinion applies to the whole community calls the reliability of the source into question.
  • When was the source written? If, for example, you're writing about the history of a term, sources that are closer to the date that something happened are probably going to be more accurate than ones written years after the fact.
  • How is the source written?
    • Is it in-depth? Short posts are typically not very useful.
    • Does it cite other sources? If a post backs up its claims by linking to other posts, that's usually a good sign! However, these other sources might not be good themselves - a person can deliberately link to other biased sources in order to make their own view look more legitimate. If a post cites its sources, you might have to go evaluate _those_ sources with these questions as well.
    • Is the author using tricks to convince the reader of something? Post that are trying to argue a specific point might use logical fallacies to make people think a certain way about things. If a post is using aggressive or emotive language, that might be a sign to scrutinize it more closely.
  • Do other people think it’s a good source?
    • Did it have input from other people? Some pieces have _editorial oversight_ - another person checks the work before it gets published. for a book, this is the publisher's job, but this might also be the case for essays that are submitted to anthologies, news sites or shared blogs. most sources will _not_ have this, so it shouldn't be counted against them, but evidence of editorial oversight can boost the likelihood it's good.
    • Is it commonly linked to or referenced by other people? If many people in a community reference the source, that's a good sign that it's generally representative of the community's feelings. If one essay from a person is popular, that can also be taken as some evidence that their other stuff is good too.
  • Is everything in the source true? Even if it's an opinion piece, if someone has the basic facts wrong, their opinions might be based on incorrect conclusions. sometimes people make mistakes or misremember a detail! but if you spot something that's outright untrue, that's a sign to treat everything else with extra suspicion.

The more of these questions you can answer positively, the better a source it is. However, there is no hard line that cuts ‘bad’ sources off from ‘good’ sources, and no source is ever perfect! There are some types of sources that tend to be questionable overall, which we list to make you aware that you should pay closer attention to them when evaluating.

what why
Caards Many caards typically fail a number of the critera above. It's usually not clear who wrote them, and their claims are often not substantiated (or their sources are _other_ caards which are also dubious). But they often _look_ professional, and are deliberately trying to _look_ authoritative, which can mislead people. Some caards are well sourced and have a clear author, but these are rare, and if you find a caard as a source for something, you should be extra critical of it.
Other wikis Other wikis are not reliable sources because the content on them is not stable and can be changed at any time. Also, frankly, a lot of wikis do not have good sourcing guidelines themselves. If another wiki cites a source for a fact, then you can simply use that source instead (if the source is a good one). If it doesn't cite a source, you should be questioning if it's really a reliable statement anyway! If you find a source which cites a wiki, that's also cause for concern.


don't cite a source that you haven't seen for yourself!