Template talk:Unreferenced

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Inline citations to reliable sources[edit]

Current wording:

This article does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

Proposed wording:

This article does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding inline citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

The change is in the second sentence from "adding citations to reliable sources" to "adding inline citations to reliable sources". -- PBS (talk) 10:19, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

I made this edit "inline citations to reliable sources." to replace "citations to reliable sources" -- the latter can be misconstrued to mean that General References are acceptable as citations (they are not). Link to also WP:CHALLENGE

Fram reverting good faith edit without a substantive reason for the revert is not usually considered warranted (WP:REVEXP. That the template is protected is neither here nor there with regards to an edit such as the one I made -- it is protected to prevent vandalism and damage to the appearance of the articles on which it appears -- ny edit did neither, so what is your substantive objection to the change I made? -- PBS (talk) 14:55, 25 April 2013 (UTC)

  • PBS you don't have a history of coming to the same conclusions about reference tag content as is usually shown after discussion. As a general rule of thumb, if you think something needs to be changed checking with the community, is probably a good test for consensus. JeepdaySock (AKA, Jeepday) 15:54, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
    I do not understand you first sentence. In rely to your second: That is not how WP:BRD cycle plays out and that is a better way of editing in changes. -- PBS (talk) 18:26, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
Whether admins should edit a page having full-prot without first obtaining consensus is currently under discussion at WT:PROTECT#Remove "uncontroversial" from the policy. --Redrose64 (talk) 17:41, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
Interesting, but I think someone in that conversations should point out that a distinction ought to be made between types of pages. Articles are usually protected for a limited time for specific reasons to do with the content. Templates such as this are not protected because any specific problem with content but because of the potential problems that can arise if edited incorrectly, so the customary constraints on editing the two types of pages have always been different. -- PBS (talk) 18:26, 25 April 2013 (UTC)

I oppose PBS's change. A stub that includes a bibliographic citation at the bottom of the page, but didn't format it as an inline citation, is not unreferenced. It may be badly formatted, and it may well be inadequately referenced, but it is not 100% unreferenced and deserves {{refimprove}} or {{no footnotes}}, not {{unref}}. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:58, 27 April 2013 (UTC)

I have reverted my edit while we discuss this. The name of the template has nothing to do with the wording of the template. The wording does not say that the article is unreferenced what it says is "This article does not cite any references or sources", What I have changed with my edit is "Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources" to "adding inline citations to reliable sources" which is what WP:CHALLENGE requires (and this template is a challenge). It has been some years since general references have been considered adequate because of the problems of maintaining text-source integrity. {{Refimprove}} is better suited to requests for more inline citations when some already exist, {{no footnotes}} is for a specific type of inline citaiton which I think is a mistake to use on an article with no inline citations as it is requesting a specific type of inline citation which may or may not be appropriate for a specific article.-- PBS (talk) 22:19, 27 April 2013 (UTC)
Is this the sixth time now? Please go read the first sentence of WP:CITE, which clearly says that a citation is a line of text that identifies a source, not the connection of that source to any particular bit of material in the article. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:16, 28 April 2013 (UTC)
I do not know what it is that you are counting as it seems we are talking at cross purposes. The proposed change in the wording "adding citations to reliable sources" to "adding inline citations to reliable sources." as WP:V requires "inline citations to reliable sources." not general references which (as you know) have been depreciated for a number of years. -- PBS (talk) 17:06, 29 April 2013 (UTC)
I'm counting the number of times that I have to tell you that a bibliographic citation is still a citation even if it is not connected to a particular bit of material in an article (an "inline citation").
WP:V requires inline citations if and only if one of four particular conditions are met, which is frequently not the case in a substub. WP:V doesn't require that any sources at all be named in an article that does not contain one (or more) of those four cases. For example, this:

A bone fracture is a broken place in a bone.

would make a substub for which no policy requires any sources at all.
You are free under policy to provide no citations. You are equally free to provide a general reference:

A bone fracture is a broken place in a bone.
• Expert, Alice (2012) "What is a Broken Bone?" J Imp Medicine

The first example is unreferenced; the second is not. The first example contains no citations; the second one does (specifically, it contain a non-inline bibliographic citation, which in wikijargon iss called a general reference). Neither of them contain inline citations, and both of them are fully compliant with our sourcing policies. 19:18, 29 April 2013 (UTC)
Above you stated "WP:V requires inline citations if and only if one of four particular conditions are met" the second of the "four particular conditions" states Any statement that has been challenged (e.g., by being removed, questioned on the talk page, or tagged with [citation needed], or any similar tag) this template (as a tag) specifically meets that requirement and is mentioned by name in WP:V -- see this footnote.
The argument you have put forward is not what WP:V suggests. If something generally known (although the game of trivial pursuits indicates that what is generally known in one English speaking country may not be generally known in others), then it does not need a reference, so general references are not relevant in the example you give. Only if the information is not generally known is a citation required and WP:V states in the section called "Burden of evidence": Attribute all quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged to a reliable, published source using an inline citation. The change of wording of this template from "adding citations to reliable sources" to "adding inline citations to reliable sources" is closer to the wording of the policy and is less confusing. -- PBS (talk) 09:46, 30 April 2013 (UTC)
  • Is that a direct quotation? No, I made it up myself. Has anyone actually WP:CHALLENGEd the material given in my example? I'm not seeing a fact-tag there. Is anyone WP:LIKELY to challenge that information? I seriously doubt it. If none of those three answers are affirmative, then BURDEN is irrelevant. WP:V is not "suggesting" anything: it is directly stating the requirements. I promise that if supplying an inline citation was absolutely required on absolutely every page, no matter how WP:BLUE the contents, then WP:V wouldn't "suggest" it, but would rather state it in words that could not possibly be misunderstood.
  • A source is relevant if it contains information about the subject of the article. If and only if that material were ever challenged, then a general reference would not be sufficient to meet the BURDEN, but at this point, there is no BURDEN because there is no CHALLENGE and none is LIKELY. An irrelevant source for that material would be one about some celebrity's cat, not a source about broken bones. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:53, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
  • We are talking about a challenge because this template is a challenge (and it is explicitly mentioned in WP:V as an alternative to {{citation needed}} when there are too few in-line citations and using {{citation needed}} would clutter the page). It sates that there is information on the page that needs a citation to a source and WP:V dictates that any material that is challenged needs an in-line citation. -- PBS (talk) 09:37, 3 May 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I see that you added that statement in a footnote at WP:V. I notice, however, that it does not say anything like "add the tag for completely unreferenced pages when some citations are present"; "zero" is merely one case among many that qualify as "too few". So if there are actually zero, you may add the unref template, and if there are more than zero but still too few, you may add refimprove.
If you would like, I'd be happy to ask at WT:V whether anyone else agrees with you that the unref tag is appropriate for any partially referenced article. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:23, 4 May 2013 (UTC)

Oppose this change because one of PBS's reasons, "General References are acceptable as citations (they are not)" is false, and he/she consistently and repeatedly misstates community consensus despite being reminded over and over. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:54, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

  • Oppose Per Jc3s5h JeepdaySock (AKA, Jeepday) 10:21, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
  • support' there is no reason why we should not be suggesting the best practices as is required by policy, rather than the absolute minimum, which will likely simply just be challenged again, causing unnecessary frustration to the editor. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 12:08, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
    • Two questions for you:
      • Did you know that we have FAs that contain general references in addition to an ample number of inline citations? This undercuts PBS's claim that gen refs are never acceptable.
      • We're not talking about how to respond to a challenge (if we were, then the gen ref would be insufficient). We're talking solely about whether a page that obviously contains a list of references, i.e., a list of bibliographic citations under a heading like ==References==, should be marked with a self-evidently wrong statement that there is no list of references on the page. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:53, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
"contain general references in addition to an ample number of inline citations" that is the requirement, the general sources are bonus, but nothing without the actual inline cites. its as if the speed limit is 35, and you put up a sign "dont go faster than 45" - not at all helpful. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 01:40, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
Sure, but PBS is asserting that they are never acceptable, not even in combination with inline citations when inlines are actually required. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:23, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
the rfc is about wording of a template and about what wording will best influence contributors to help in the best manner and be least likely to cause additional frustration for them. directing them to the best practice method from the beginning is clearly the optimal solution. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 11:03, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Qualified oppose I think the direct issue is quite clear cut. This template is manifestly not the type of challenge WP:BURDEN refers to, which we can see by the fact that the template itself refers to the challenge that can be made under that policy section, i.e., this is not it. Likewise, the template's documentation instructs:

    "This template should only be used on articles that have no sources at all. Don't add this template to articles that contain even one general reference, parenthetical reference, or citation-containing footnote. A citation is any description of a reliable source that supports any of the article content, even a bare URL. The format of the citation and the name of the section heading is not what determines whether a link or citation is a source.

    This does not admit of an interpretation that its placement is the challenge for sourcing under WP:BURDEN that requires an inline citation. Having said that, I agree with the implication of PBS' edit that this template could use some guidance that inline sources are very much wanted, even if I don't agree with the specific change made. What I'm getting at is that I think it might be useful to add (addition highlighted): "Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources (preferably using inline citations).--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 16:41, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
    The link takes you to Help:Introduction to referencing/1, which does not admit that non-inline citations are even possible (and IMO that's a good thing). So IMO what we've already linked is sufficient: if you follow that link, you will end up doing the right thing. I wouldn't link WP:REFB page as a definition of WP:Inline citations. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:03, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
    If my memory serves me well, every time that this is discussed and WhatamIdoing is part of the discussion WhatamIdoing advocates the use of general references and downplays the use of inline citaitons. In the case of the block of text you quote Fuhghettaboutit it was added to the documentation by WhatamIdoing in March 2010 long after this template was written in January 2005‎. The advise is contrary to the intent expressed the footnote in WP:V policy. This change would help to clarify that issue. --PBS (talk) 09:37, 3 May 2013 (UTC)
    You added that footnote only in 2012, and nobody except you believes that it means that general references are never permitted. It says, "It may be that the article contains so few citations that it is impractical to add specific citation needed tags, in which case consider tagging a section with {{unreferencedsection}}, or the article with {{refimprove}} or {{unreferenced}}." It does not say "If there are too few inline citations, then you can add {{unref}} to the page", nor does it say "Never add a citation to a page unless it is placed inline". NB that it also does not say "Every single page is required to contain at least one inline citation."
    I'm not actually a fan of general references, and I can't think of a single instance in which I would use them. (Well, maybe for a substub containing one sentence, because having a little blue number in that case looks a bit odd.) I only say that the community permits them, especially in the case of substubs written by inexperienced editors. (WikiProject Maths has also defended them as being particularly appropriate for some maths articles.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:37, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
    WhatamIdoing If you think "So IMO what we've already linked is sufficient" but you think that "[it] does not admit that non-inline citations are even possible (and IMO that's a good thing)" then why not keep the new wording but retain the old link: ("adding inline citations to reliable sources")? -- PBS (talk) 09:37, 3 May 2013 (UTC)

* Oppose. I think I understand Phil's intent, and in general would agree. And I certainly agree that (in general) we should encourage best practice, not what is minimally acceptable. But I think there should be a distinction between the case where an article "does not cite any references", and the case where an article does in fact have references, but lacks in-line citations linking them to the text. To the extent that a new editor might not understand that there are additional considerations is best handled by directing the editor to the tutorial. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:51, 2 May 2013 (UTC)

Why? What is the point of adding general references without in-line citations (They can be added as long citations in footnotes so there is next to no difference in short article) because adding in-line citations keeps WP:text-source integrity. Besides AFAICT unless one reads "does not cite any references" to be cite as in "in-line citations" and references as "general references", the phrase is meaningless as citations and references are usually interchangeable words. -- PBS (talk) 09:37, 3 May 2013 (UTC)
As to the point of adding "general" references (in this instance I would prefer "full reference") without in-line citations: WhatamIdoing might give us both an earful on this, but in the narrow sense that I think you intend I would agree: no point. My opinion is that there should always be in-line citations of some sort to connect the text with the full reference. But I see a lack of in-line citations to be a different problem than a lack of any references. (Which is also different from lacking the reference a short cite points to, something I occasionally slip up on.) And as I said: if an editor doesn't understand this, it is best explained in the tutorial, not in the template text. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:01, 3 May 2013 (UTC)
J Johnson is correct: it's a different problem. We have tags for these other problems. This tag often gets spammed onto articles that were created by total newbies just minutes before. If we can get them to do so much as provide a bare URL somewhere on the page, then we've made substantial progress. People like us don't actually need this template to exist at all; it exists primarily to communicate with people who need to be encouraged for even taking baby steps in the right direction. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:37, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. While I agree that inline citations are usually the most helpful, it is not true that they are always the only acceptable references. They are the only acceptable references only when you want to solidify content that is challenged or likely to be challenged. For everything else, they are acceptable and we welcome them above no citations at all. The point of this template is not to enforce WP:CHALLENGE but to promote referencing generally. Inline citations may better but that's not the point. This template is a memorandum, if you will, for editors who do not fully realize the 'source' aspect of Wikipedia. NTox · talk 05:01, 4 May 2013 (UTC)

@Jc3s5h and WhatamIdoing. The proposed change in wording has nothing to do with whether general references are ever permitted, the proposed wording is "Please help improve this article by adding inline citations to reliable sources". There is nothing in the change of wording from "adding citations" to "adding inline citations" that explicitly or implicitly prohibits someone also adding general references. -- PBS (talk) 09:44, 4 May 2013 (UTC)

Comment Let us suppose that there is an article with no references at all. If such an article exists then it is unlikely only to contain information that requites no references. If such an article exists then this template should not be placed on it. -- This template can be used for articles that contains information that require a reference and as such is a challenge. The verification policy state that in-line citations are required for such information. If the author of an article in response to the challenge was to add a general reference to an article and remove the template, that author would not have met the challenge. Instead the diligent challenger would probably add a {{citation needed}} template, or some other template to the article. The author who has already gone to the bother of adding a general reference would probably be vexed and not unreasonably think (or ask on the talk page) "why did you not tell me in the first place that in-line citations were needed?" -- The proposed change in the wording of this template alters the advise form "adding citations" to adding "inline citations" which is what an editor unfamiliar with the verification policy needs to know (for those familiar with the policy and guidelines all the wording after the initial sentence is no needed). -- PBS (talk)

  • Support - This makes perfect sense. The proposed change in wording has nothing to do with whether general references are ever permitted, the proposed wording is "Please help improve this article by adding inline citations to reliable sources". There is nothing in the change of wording from "adding citations" to "adding inline citations" that explicitly or implicitly prohibits someone also adding general references. And why you wouldn't suggest or request from the editor that they follow the best, most desirable practice is not apparent to me. Jdanek007 (talk) 21:25, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
Hmm. You've commented on a discussion from several months ago, and in doing so have copied text verbatim from this edit. I wonder why. --Redrose64 (talk) 22:26, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose - New editors may not have figured out how to do inline citations yet, but if they can supply a reliable source to support an unreferenced or under-referenced article we would still encourage them to add the sources. Someone else can always follow up and fix the format (placing the citation "in line" at appropriate places). So... the template should simply ask for reliable sources (without specifying "in line"). 16:43, 4 May 2013 (UTC)— Preceding unsigned comment added by Blueboar (talkcontribs)
  • Oppose per Blueboar. Making citations inline is a bit technical, and just letting us know what sources the article was based on is a huge advantage in assessing the article's verifiability. The proposed change is too perfectionist. Sjakkalle (Check!) 18:27, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Despite PBS's assertion that the template shouldn't be used except as a formal CHALLENGE, that's not how it actually is used. The first example I give above would likely attract an unref tag. A couple of years ago, we had a bot add the template to unref'd articles. "Added by a bot to thousands of articles based on whether ref tags were present or not" and "only added if inlines are absolutely required by policy according to editors' best judgment" are pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:03, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
Phil, I think the essence of your statement is: if we tell someone (via a template) that they should add references, we should also tell them to add in-line citations that link to the references. I do not disagree with that, and to some extent even agree with it. My disagreement here is whether both advisements should be in the single template. If both advisements are warranted, there is no reason (that I see) why that can not be done with separate templates. And indeed, if an editor did include in-line citations (short cites), but not the full references they point to, then one template would be warranted, but not the other. Also, the template under discussion here is for where an article does not cite any references. Which is not the situation where even one reference is cited. So the issue is not on how much an editor should be warned, but whether this template should carry multiple warnings. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 18:59, 5 May 2013 (UTC)

Edit request on February 16, 2014[edit]

Why not get rid of the date parameter and just encode the date into the template itself so that no one has to add the date parameter in? The way I see this as being done is changing

| date  = {{{date|}}}


|date   = {{subst:Currentmonth}} {{subst:Currentyear}}

I'm open to discussion if anyone contests this proposal. --Jakob (talk) 03:13, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

Not done: If the template isn't substed, it can't store the date that it was added like that. When it is subst'd, it already does that. Jackmcbarn (talk) 03:35, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

Request for comments on an issue in a tag similar to this one[edit]

Hi, there is a general issue with a tag that is related to this one, and I would like to request some feedback since the problems are similar to some of those that have been discussed here earlier.

Please have a look at Template talk:Unreliable sources, and reply in that talk page if you want to comment. The reason why I'm posting about it here is because it doesn't seem like anyone is watching the other template's talkpage. Anonimski (talk) 15:20, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

There are fewer than 30 watchers. --Redrose64 (talk) 20:24, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

Template-protected edit request on 29 July 2014[edit]

Hello. The word “removed” must link to Wikipedia:Verifiability#Burden of evidence rather than the current section (Which no longer exists). Thanks. QrTTf7fH (talk) 17:37, 29 July 2014 (UTC).

I've added an {{anchor}} to Wikipedia:Verifiability so that the "removed" link works again. There may be other templates or pages that link to the old section name, so I think this is the right fix. -- John of Reading (talk) 17:55, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
Thanks you, but shouldn't links to renamed sections be replaced with a link to the new section anyway?. QrTTf7fH (talk) 19:02, 29 July 2014 (UTC).
I don't think it's worth asking the servers to rebuild a quarter of a million articles just for that. -- John of Reading (talk) 21:30, 29 July 2014 (UTC)


I was wondering why a specific distinction between Template:Unreferenced and Template:Refimprove is made. Why is the difference between no reference and lack of references an important distinction? Isn't it both simply a lack of references? Many, if not most reimprove articles have less than 3 references in total, which doesn't seem too different from completely unreferenced.

I'm not suggesting anything to be changed (yet), but I am curious why things are as they are~ Maplestrip (talk) 14:04, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

As I wrote at 19:34, 7 September 2014 on Template talk:Refimprove#Should this template be used more sparingly?, {{refimprove}} is a subjective judgment, unlike {{unreferenced}} which is objective - either there are refs, or there aren't. See also: Template:Refimprove#When to use; Template:Refimprove#Differences from {{Unreferenced}} and {{Citation needed}}; Template:Unreferenced#When to use; and Template:Unreferenced#Differences from related templates. --Redrose64 (talk) 18:14, 5 November 2014 (UTC)
Subjective vs objective, that does make sense. I understand why that is desirable. Thank you for the quick reply Maplestrip (talk) 18:17, 5 November 2014 (UTC)