Reliability of Information

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AnOrdinarySABREUser
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Reliability of Information

Post by AnOrdinarySABREUser »

Hello all,

How reliable would you say the SABRE Wiki is for providing information on present and historic roads? I know that we aren't Wikipedia, but I think that more information on the Wiki needs to be sourced. Most information is unsourced, so there's a possibility that a lot of information on the Wiki is incorrect, especially when discussing historic roads. For example, the opening dates on the Thanet Way article are unsourced and are possibly inferred from historic OS maps, which isn't ideal. What, if anything, could be done about this? I know that a lot of sources/documents pertaining to present and historic roads are fairly rare so it'll be hard to do anything about it, but I want to see what other people think of this.

Thanks! :D

From the SABRE Wiki: Thanet Way :


Thanet Way was known as the Coastal Road during planning and construction.

It was planned to allow Thanet bound traffic to avoid Canterbury and to provide better access to Whitstable and Herne Bay. The road is primarily associated with A299 but the section between Whitstable and Eddington has been by-passed and is now A2990.

An early call for a coastal road between Whitstable and Margate was made in November 1912 at the conference of

... Read More
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c2R
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Re: Reliability of Information

Post by c2R »

AnOrdinarySABREUser wrote: Sun Nov 19, 2023 21:25 Hello all,

How reliable would you say the SABRE Wiki is for providing information on present and historic roads? I know that we aren't Wikipedia, but I think that more information on the Wiki needs to be sourced. Most information is unsourced, so there's a possibility that a lot of information on the Wiki is incorrect, especially when discussing historic roads. For example, the opening dates on the Thanet Way article are unsourced and are possibly inferred from historic OS maps, which isn't ideal. What, if anything, could be done about this? I know that a lot of sources/documents pertaining to present and historic roads are fairly rare so it'll be hard to do anything about it, but I want to see what other people think of this.

Thanks! :D
I agree that material should be better sourced - we've got reference tags, but these aren't used as much as I for one would like. Obviously, unlike wikipedia, we also allow (and encourage) primary research - but again I would suggest that such contributions are noted accordingly.
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From the SABRE Wiki: Thanet Way :


Thanet Way was known as the Coastal Road during planning and construction.

It was planned to allow Thanet bound traffic to avoid Canterbury and to provide better access to Whitstable and Herne Bay. The road is primarily associated with A299 but the section between Whitstable and Eddington has been by-passed and is now A2990.

An early call for a coastal road between Whitstable and Margate was made in November 1912 at the conference of

... Read More
Ross Spur
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Re: Reliability of Information

Post by Ross Spur »

I can only comment on the articles I have worked on, which includes the Thanet Way article mentioned. It is sourced, just not referenced. The main source is newspaper research using the British Newspaper Archive. If it is found elsewhere, such as on maps, then I would more than likely note the source.

I've never been into referencing each item of data. BBC History magazine doesn't and I doubt the Encyclopedia Britannica did. It's all added time and I'd rather get the facts in and move onto something else. Besides which, some articles would have had an awful lot of references.

By the way, I ran out of steam on the Thanet Way article so it isn't complete. One day I'll get around to it... unless someone else completes it first.
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rileyrob
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Re: Reliability of Information

Post by rileyrob »

Ross Spur wrote: Mon Nov 20, 2023 19:04 I've never been into referencing each item of data. BBC History magazine doesn't and I doubt the Encyclopedia Britannica did. It's all added time and I'd rather get the facts in and move onto something else. Besides which, some articles would have had an awful lot of references.
Exactly this. If everything is referenced then you will only end up with circular references, and there have been numerous instances of 'fake news' being referenced as fact, dating back to Victorian times if not before.

When I've been updating or creating wiki articles I will make note of relevant maps for critical dates, for instance showing a new bridge has been built, or when a route moves several times in a short period, perhaps due to a bypass or town centre improvements. However, I haven't gone through and referenced data found from listed / historic building sites; local history sites or geograph captions and the like. I try to find two separate sources before I state something historical as being an absolute fact, but if I can only find one source I will endeavour to use a word like 'apparently', or for a date use a c for circa.
At the end of the day, Listed building text is supposed to be definitive, but Canmore and HES have both perpetuated inaccuracies from the original data compiled fifty or more years ago, which are then copied elsewhere on other sites. More recent research has shown these inaccuracies but the definitive data doesn't get updated. I can't think of specific examples off the top of my head, but dates and engineers / builders for bridges are the most common I have come across. I remember coming across one bridge which the Listing text stated was built in Year x, but the first edition OS map, generated from a survey five or six years later didn't show it. I eventually found that the bridge had been built 20ish years later, and that it was a basic transcription error which had been perpetuated.
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Steven
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Re: Reliability of Information

Post by Steven »

I'd say it's pretty good, but not perfect.

The biggest contributors who add historic information are all people that I'd trust to actually have checked the information, and would, as RileyRob mentioned, put circa for an approximate date, or write something like "according to the 1926-27 MoT map".

I trust RossSpur's excellent Network Changes pages implicitly, as I know just how much research goes into them.
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Bryn666
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Re: Reliability of Information

Post by Bryn666 »

Citations are useful, but as others have said, the key thing is getting information on there in the first place. Whilst we want to maintain a system of reliable pages, we are not an academic journal and thus relying on footnotes is going to detract from getting people to contribute. Referencing is tedious and surely nobody enjoys doing it (and if they do, they're probably a serial killer or some other type of wrong 'un :shock: )

If someone doubts something the Wiki says then they are highly probably going to delve into the matter themselves and do their own fact checking; if this happens I would hope they'd flag their findings!
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multiraider2
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Re: Reliability of Information

Post by multiraider2 »

Any of my own limited contributions are not referenced and are based on what I find/see for myself. This seems to be mainly the case for others but allowing that there has been some detailed research carried out by members down the years. I think what we have is a very good resource and am happy that if we find something that is not wholy accurate we can simply add an update. We do not tend to be stuck in edit wars and the dire [citation needed] that is all over the site that shall not be named is not something I would want for us.

For all this lack of citation there would be nowhere in the world that I would consider a better source of information of British Roads than here. Some of it is so specialist or obscure knowledge that it really is the case that there is no better/definitive source out there. If something is not absolutely correct as at the current moment we can sometimes find better information and update later but it's not as though lives depend on what we are saying.
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rileyrob
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Re: Reliability of Information

Post by rileyrob »

From a personal point of view, I have also done a lot of historical research 'on the ground', literally travelling roads on foot or by bike to identify old alignments and so on. Obviously this doesn't give dates, but it is also not the sort of thing that can be backed up with references. I have often taken photos which are in the gallery to support my discoveries, however. I susbstantially expanded and re-wrote the A82 pages several years ago in this manner, and have subsequently also done a lot of work elsewhere across Scotland, and the Isle of Man.

This site investigation work has (I think) enabled me to spot things on google maps and street view which I can then more confidently describe as former alignments etc on other routes where I haven't explored on the ground. Subtle changes to alignments on OS one inch maps often back up my idea and help with dating, and in some cases the Six inch and later metric large scale mapping helps too, although the wide gaps in dates and variable standards of updates do make this somewhat difficult to be precise about in places.

As has been noted above, if I have got something wrong, it is not likely to be a massive problem for anyone, and I am perfectly happy to be corrected. One of our newer members has recently gone through Zone 9 and fine tuned my work, and by the looks of it this has been from personal involvement with road improvements in the area over a long period. Again, this is invaluable information which is probably not recorded anywhere else that is readily accessible, and with one exception I felt no reason to query or amend their useful updates.
Rob.
My mission is to travel every road and visit every town, village and hamlet in the British Isles.
I don't like thinking about how badly I am doing.
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