Proposal for a standard for Tiering and judging criterion for Chinese PLA sources, version 0:
1. Source tiers: a. Tier 0: Official sources i. Weibo accounts of Chinese military commands, official newspapers, media channels ii. Bilibili accounts of Chinese military commands, media channels iii. Official newspapers and media channels b. Tier 1: Highly reliable non-official/near-official sources c. Tier 2: Mostly reliable non-official sources d. Tier 3: Sources of average reliability e. Tier 4: Sources of low reliability f. Tier 5: Post as a joke 2. Types of media: a. Photos (Satellite or otherwise) b. Videos c. Text posts on social media d. Articles e. Other forms of information (NOTAMs, Research papers…) 3. Evaluation criterion: a. Steps to take once the tier system is mature: i. Identify all claims made by a source inside the source material in question ii. Truth as correspondence: 1. Cross reference other sources to identify if the claim has been corroborated by other INDIVIDUAL sources. (Individual is key because Chinese sources often parrot each other, forming an entire ecosystem of what appears to be corroborating sources, but ultimately only having 1 source.) Check for any contradicting or conflicting claim as well. a. Corroborating with sources of better reliability tier increases the credibility of the claim. 2. Cross reference official sources to see if there is any contradictory or supporting claims. In this case, it is likely that official channels will not directly reject or confirm the claim, but photos, videos, signboards at various military exhibitions, air shows etc. can be employed. iii. Evaluate all claims made in the article as either: 1. True 2. Highly likely to be true 3. Unclear if it is true 4. Highly likely to be untrue 5. Untrue iv. Based on the ratio of claims in each above category, classify the particular source material based on the tier list. v. A source’s tier is based upon a rolling analysis of his/her claims over a set period. (i.e., new round of tier evaluation every 3 months) b. How to set up the tiering system: i. Identify sources that have been cited or used widely as sources of information for the PLA. ii. Select a very specific topic: claims related to the WS-10 engine iii. Evaluate claims from sources selected on the specific topic. U 1. Unless for extraordinary reasons that must be justified via direct evidence, take claims made by official sources as “True”. These official claims serve as the baseline for evaluation. In the case where the official sources have not provided sufficient information, move to near-official sources that have known PLA connections, or rely on photographic and video evidence that can be verified as non-photoshopped. iv. Apply the similar steps under “Truth as correspondence” to evaluate claims. v. The ratio of claims under each tier category will determine the tier of the source for that specific topic. vi. Holistically, the tier of the source will depend on its reliability in these different specific topics. This leaves room for flexibility in the tiering system where a source can be reliable for one topic, whilst be unreliable on another topic. vii. Repeat the process for all desired topics at hand.