Finding Reputable Sources
The nonhuman community as a whole has, for a long time, had deep roots in fact and reason. Members are encouraged to question things, and bring new information to the table when it arises - so it's no surprise that there are a number of articles and resources on nonhumanity. However, just like picking wild berries, some of these resources may not be as good as they seem. It's important to be able to tell which are "good," and exactly how far you can take that "goodness."
A lot of the basics of finding reputable sources stems from academia - things we might have learned in grade school. Capitalize the first letter of the first word in a sentence, always capitalize I as a pronoun, don't use text-speak, and so forth. A lot of these are obvious. This is a pretty decent way to narrow down what's "good" and what isn't. If it's hard to read and has a lot of mistakes, it usually isn't a reputable resource.
Check any possible resource for a name. This is a tricky one in the otherkin community, because a lot of us don't use our "real names" online, but that's simply a fact of the community. In the case of a pseudonym, try to see if you can trace that pseudonym to other places. Jarandhel uses the same pseudonym in most communities, and so does House of Chimeras, just to name a few. If they're willing to put their name on it, that's a good sign. If it's left anonymous, be careful.
Another good way to tell if a resource is accurate is to check when it was last updated. For example: Let's say you have two online articles about a crime. Both were published ten hours ago, but one was updated eight hours ago, to include more recent news from the police chief. The most accurate article in this situation is probably the updated one. You want to get the freshest, most applicable, most up-to-date information, after all.
Most well-written articles will cite their own sources. They had to get their information from somewhere, after all. Look for this. If an article cites faulty sources, it may not be very factual itself.
When the more technical aspects are checked off, it's then time to examine the content of the article. Trust your gut. If something doesn't sound right, Google it. Can you find something else to back up the claim? Is there anything strong against it? If that piece of information is sourced, does the source seem reputable? Double check, then triple check.
Check your source for other information, too. If an article says mixing orange and yellow paint makes green paint, they might be getting other facts wrong, too. Again, double check.
Examine the article for bias. If an article claims that abortion is wrong because it's "not what God intended," that's bias, whether you believe it too or not. If an article says blue is the best color because the author likes the color blue, that's bias. If it's an opinion, it's not a fact, and even if that bias isn't present in the specific piece of information you want to cite, you may still want to lean away from using it. Also, pay attention to who is writing the article. If the owner of a pencil factory writes an article about pens being unhealthy, there might be some bias in play.
And lastly, check the resource at hand for logical fallacies.Yourlogicalfallacyis.com is a great at-a-glance explanation of all the various logical fallacies. While logical fallacies don't necessarily invalidate a claim, they don't provide a very strong factual basis. If your source includes any of these, you may want to look for another one.
And now that I've cited a source, it's time to put me on the firing squad! Ready? We're assessing Yourlogicalfallacyis.com.
Technical aspects: Is proper grammar and spelling utilized? Looks like it! They do use some "artful" lowercase letters when you hover over certain fallacy buttons, but otherwise, it all looks pretty good. Did they put their name(s) on it? Yep - right there at the bottom, and they even linked to the creators' personal websites.
Is there a date listed from the last update? No, it doesn't seem like it - but it does list their publishing year (2015) and this kind of material isn't necessarily time sensitive. We'll call that a strike against them.
Did they cite their sources? A lot of the information they're using borders on common knowledge, if it isn't common knowledge already, but if you look at their FAQ,they do reference two sites. We'll give them 3/4ths of a point.
Now that we've examined the technical aspects, we can move onto content. Does anything seem off about this information? Well, I can recognize most of these logical fallacies from things I've learned previously, so it seems like everything so far is correct. Is any "extra" information correct? Yes, on the same count, since this is a bit of a one-subject deal.
Is there any bias? No - information relating to religion or other sensitive topics, if it appears at all, is written in a very neutral tone. And while the website does sell poster versions of the logical fallacies, the interactive website and a downloadable version of the poster are available for free. Yes, the owner is making money off of it, but only if we choose to have this resource in tangible form, and even then, I could still just print it out. The rest of the time, they're just asking for donations. That's about as much bias as a birdwatching guide book, except it's probably about $20 cheaper.
Are there any logical fallacies present? No, and boy am I glad.
So as it stands, the only strike against Yourlogicalfallacyis.com is that they don't list their last-updated date. Not too shabby! My sourcing here is probably pretty solid, but I should be prepared to acknowledge that my information may not be up-to-date. If I were trying to make a stronger argument, I would probably want to find a second source, just in case. It never hurts to have multiple correct sources.
Little mistakes aren't the end of the world, nor do they mean that a source is completely unusable and you, the person who sourced it, should be exiled to the moon for the rest of your life, but little things add up. Be aware of what you're sourcing, where you're getting your information, and as the saying goes - when you go to a gunfight, don't bring a knife.
Edit 12/7/15: @kiror pointed out that I had mistakenly referred to a name as a pseudonym when it actually wasn't. That's been removed. Thank you!
Tags: Newcomers, Community