If you want to be known as a brilliant writer who leaves a gasping, select audience of hand-picked readers in awe with every dripping jewel of crafted prose, go write an allegorical novel about a clumsy vixen’s sexual awakening at the hands of a smooth-handed scribe, or become a columnist for The Monthly. Most normal readers don’t give a shit about your throwaway references to fin de siècle political movements or Kurosawa films or what Ben Chifley would have thought about all of this. That goes double for your sources. Don’t be a goddamn elitist. No one likes it, and no one clicks on it. Here’s a handy guide to sourcing your material.
YOUR UNCLE AFTER FOUR WOODSTOCKS: GOOD
A FEDERAL POLITICIAN: BAD
Ask yourself this: who’s going to be better informed about what’s going wrong with this once-great nation? Your uncle, who spends all day trawling through a huge variety of Facebook groups dedicated to the pure love of Australia, or some bastard politician who’s robbing pensioners to pay queue-jumpers to take jobs from disabled battlers who shouldn’t be on welfare in the first place if they’re able to join a protest march against our brave boys fighting ISIS so that every child of the Southern Cross can continue to celebrate Australia Day on January 26 as God and Captain Arthur Phillip intended, no matter what this smart-arsed Andrew P Street bloke your cousin keeps sharing on my bloody wall just to stir me up – and it’s not bloody working mate, trust me – might have to say about it? Fair dinkum, more dollars than sense, some people.
MAN IN THE STREET: GOOD
ANDREW P. STREET: BAD
There’s a reason that we talk about political ideas passing the pub test. It’s because the man in the street is a very good judge of what’s bullshit. Fairfax columnist Andrew P Street, on the other hand, is an Adelaide-born elitist who only pretends to like Barnesy and sneers at your greatest hits albums. Don’t quote him. Unless he’s standing in the street. Or a pub, I suppose. Actually, this is a grey area.
SOMEONE ON TWITTER: GOOD
PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL: BAD
Everyone’s on Twitter these days. It’s relatable. Plus it’s heaps easier to search than the university library.
A CLOSE FRIEND OF THE COUPLE: GOOD
THE PERSON THAT ACTUALLY SAID IT: BAD
This one’s specific to gossip mags, mostly. You might think it’s more hoity-toity to throw around anonymous sources, like you’re Woodward and Bernstein grabbing confidential information from Deep Throat or whatever (I never got to the end of that film), but really, it’s way more elitist to name-check the people who are so close to a celebrity couple on the rocks that they know the intimate details of their train wreck relationship, but not so close that they wouldn’t anonymously sell out said couple in the glossy pages of some scandalous publication. As an unrelated serendipitous bonus, it’s heaps harder for Bec and Lleyton to sue if they don’t know who said all that shit about them.
ANYTHING ELSE: BAD
If the boss is riding you, I suppose it’s okay to click on one of those footnotes to see where the info originally came from, but seriously, Wikipedia’s laden down with editors who are hyper-focused on ensuring the correct information is present and correct in each entry. Plus,it’s all free so you don’t even have to say ‘according to Wikipedia’ when you’re presenting the facts of the matter. It’s a given that it’s from Wikipedia.