How about adding an insufficient explanation banner to answers that use Wikipedia as their only source?

From this answer:

insufficient explanation

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

Or do we need a custom banner stating 'Wikipedia is not a reliable source?'

  • 1
    yes, we should make use of other banners too. I am not sure many are aware of other banners. Citation banner is the only one. It is frequent use. Another thing is this citation banner is used very frequently that the banner is just added and no details are given to the user on what should be improved. A comment will do better than the banner without a comment. A mod said that banner doesn't guarantee correctness but only quality. I think banners should be used as last resort after explaining in comments before deleting. That is how I observed on other sites. Aug 17, 2018 at 6:04
  • Related Is it OK to cite Wikipedia in answers?
    – YDS
    Aug 18, 2018 at 14:18
  • Related The copy-paste issue, Hinduism version
    – Mr_Green
    Mar 24, 2020 at 9:19

1 Answer 1


Wikipedia is actually a tertiary source of information and are not meant to be used for research. Remember that Wikipedia cites most of its sources, so instead of using a link to Wikipedia, the author can edit their post to include a link to the original source.

However, there are enough users on our site with the privilege to edit posts. We would just need to edit the answer to link to the primary source rather than to Wikipedia. Fixing this would probably take a minute at maximum.

That said, Wikipedia isn't that reliable, and in most cases it clearly mentions that the content there isn't "cited". In those cases, we can be pretty sure that the content in the answer is of dubious origin and is certainly not reliable.

My suggestion is that, whenever the Wikipedia article linked cites that the content might not be valid (with the "citation needed" Wikipedia banner), let us also use the "Citations needed" banner on our site. If the paragraph does contain valid sources, then let's edit that answer.

  • 2
    'We would just need to edit the answer to link to the primary source rather than to Wikipedia' - there's also the issue with some answers that want to use Wikipedia anyway to make their point because they were unable to find the primary source that supports their viewpoint. Aug 16, 2018 at 19:29
  • 2
    @sv., yeah, in those cases (where we can't find the main article from which Wikipedia quotes), we can't help. We will need to add a banner. Wikipedia can't be used as a direct source, it can be used to fetch the correct sources. Aug 16, 2018 at 19:57
  • The last paragraph is not clear with respect to banners. Are you suggesting that based on Wiki's internal banners, we should put banners in our site? That will be inconsistent, because when the reference is added in Wiki and the banner is removed, the banner in our site will become invalid. In other case, if the referred content itself is removed from the Wiki due to lack of source then the answer itself will become invalid. You may want also clarify that you want to apply your suggestion to all the Wiki based answers uniformly?
    – iammilind
    Aug 17, 2018 at 7:42
  • Wikipedia makes it clear when the content written there isn't cited, @iammilind. In those cases, we should just add the improper citations banner on our site. If the reference is added in later, then it's the duty of either the poster or the first concerned user who notices it, to replace the Wikipedia link with the the correct reference and then flag for removal of the post banner. If the content is removed from the Wiki page, then it's good for us, the post will already have the banner, and we can continue doing out work. Aug 17, 2018 at 9:01
  • All in all, Wikipedia is just a tertiary source and shouldn't be considered as a strong reference material on our site. Linking to a wikipedia page for say a definition, or more information is fine, but it shouldn't be the main source of validity for an answer. And yeah, I'd prefer that we have the rule applied uniformly. Aug 17, 2018 at 9:01
  • 2 problems with this approach. (1) The Mod/users will have to go and check in the Wiki to see if the citation is present for the quoted text or not. It's also subjective, if some part of the quote is cited and some is not. (2) Relying on "concerned" users to keep following on Wiki articles about citation is difficult & rare IMO. People usually move on after sometime. -- The suggestion is good in theory, but hard in practical. But it will help if implemented rightly.
    – iammilind
    Aug 17, 2018 at 9:12
  • (1) isn't a problem per se @iammilind, it wouldn't take much time to check a wikipedia citation. Given that we don't get a lot of answers everyday solely relying on Wikipedia as their main reference point, it shouldn't be an issue to check them (a maximum of 5 minutes in any case). But I agree with (2). Even today, there are few posts with banners, though the OP has added in the source, because they've not flagged for the banner removed. Similarly, the wiki page might have been updated and we'd not know at all. Ideally, the onus is on the poster, but we don't live in an ideal world. Aug 17, 2018 at 9:19

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