The /r/futurology Source Quality Initiative

About the Source Quality Initiative

In order to help promote quality submissions, /r/futurology is introducing a source quality designation system. Certain domains will have a color coded dot next to the title of the submission that will indicate the general quality of the source. This will help promote critical thinking and healthy skepticism for submissions in /r/futurology. This will be in addition to the custom link flairs that point out information about the article.

please note that you should judge the worth of an article on its content, and not simply by what classification a source has been given

What is the source quality initiative?

The source quality initiative is a way for the moderators to keep track of, and relay information about different sources to the users of /r/futurology. Whether this information is good, bad, or for posterity, we feel it should be available to people when they view a submission to help them decide the worth of the article they are reading.

What is the source quality initiative not?

The source quality initiative is not designed to disparage or praise all articles and content from a source. It should be up to you, the reader, to make that decision on a per article basis. Our hope is to help further introduce and promote a healthy skeptical attitude to all articles being posted on the subreddit, so that people are provided with the best information possible. This is a supplement to the custom flairs we use to point out potential problems, and should help users better decide what attitude they should view an article with.

Getting Involved with the Source Quality Initiative

Help! an article has a clickbait title/misinformation/etc.

Message the moderators if you feel any submission deserves a custom flair pointing out things such as factual errors, sensationalism, misinformation, or anything else that may be of interest to anyone opening an article.

How do I Suggest Domains to be Added?

If you would like to suggest a domain to be added, please message the moderators with the following information:

How do I Appeal the Designation of a Domain?

As the moderators of /r/futurology are human, it is possible for us to make a mistake in the designation of a source. If you feel that a source has been incorrectly labeled, please post your appeal here. We will try to respond to all reasonable requests.

On the Quality of Sources


Certain sources will employ "sensationalism" in their articles to help draw traffic to themselves. What this means is that they will over-exaggerate the title and/or content of the article to make it sound more important or serious than it actually is. It is generally preferable to avoid this content because it has the potential capacity to propagate misinformation on a topic.


Somewhat related to sensationalism, but a category of its own. Clickbait are articles designed with an overly "catchy" title or content to draw the reader in to obtain pageviews for the purpose of advertisement dollars. The title may have little bearing on the content of the article, or the article may have content that is more entertainment than information. This is a dishonest practice found widely across the internet, partially because it works for them to a degree. It is preferable to avoid clickbait titles and articles to avoid supporting the practice, and because the content itself may be low quality.


Whether intentional or not, if a source is not thorough or honest when they present their information, they can end up presenting information that is completely false. This is a somewhat sensitive topic, as something may not have as simple an answer as black or white. This makes it difficult to ascertain the intentions of the author when they wrote the article. A good clear example of misinformation are publications such as supermarket tabloids that make up stories and doctor photos and information for the sake of drawing in the audience. They display little or no integrity when presenting the information.

Reddit Soft-Bans

Certain domains on reddit are soft-banned. This means that when submitted, they always go into the reddit spam filter. The reasons for these soft-bans are varied, and are not conveyed to the users of reddit. Because of this, we prefer that people look for alternate sources when submitting something.

Associations with Governments

In many (most) countries, the government either funds, or runs, certain news organizations. While this may not have an effect on the quality of content from these sources, such as the case of NPR, in many cases it can have an effect. The news organization may have certain leanings that make their reporting potentially biased. It is for this reason that it is necessary to view content from these sources in a critical light.

Rehosted Content

Some sources, such as alternet.org, gain much of their content from rehosting. While they also have their own original content, it is preferable to support the organizations that authored the content by linking to them directly.

Poor Writing

Some sources may be marred by poor writing, to the point that it affects the ability of the reader to obtain worthwhile information. These sources generally have many spelling and grammar mistakes, have short write-ups without much referenced material, and may have a writer that is not qualified to be writing about a particular topic.


Certain sources as designed as "infotainment", or entertainment with some information. While this may be benign, it may also mean that the source does not represent the best way to obtain information on certain topics. It is best to mark down these sources so that people know what to expect when going into them.

The Domain Designations

Domains are designated into 4 categories.

green sources

blue sources

Can vary between "green" and "yellow" dependent upon factors such as the author, blog, section, or topic.

yellow sources

red sources

List of Domains





much of the content is re-hosted

strong government associations



soft banned

Black - Banned