Wikipedia:Quote your own essay

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The popularity of essays on Wikipedia is growing. During articles for deletion discussions, editors may sometimes quote essays as supportive material for their arguments. From time to time, other enthusiastic editors may point out that the first editor is simply “referencing their own essay” and imply that it is not a valid argument.

Examples:

  • Keep I think that this argument should be kept because of WP:EXAMPLE. SelfQuoter 11:54, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Delete You're quoting your own essay, that's not a reason. NoQuoter 01:42, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

How do they know who wrote the essay, you might ask? It is not a difficult task to check the history of a page and learn who the primary contributors are to that page or article. There are very few "secrets" on Wikipedia!

So what are the reasons (both for and against) quoting your own essay in a discussion?

Reasons to quote your own essay[edit]

There are several good reasons to quote your own essay (or any other essay for that matter) in an AfD discussion.

  1. It saves time in creating responses
  2. It prevents having to "re-think" arguments and lines of thinking for commonly-encountered discussions
  3. It provides a single location for references (if any) to support the argument
  4. It allows community collaboration and refinement of the arguments that can lead to making Wikipedia even better.
  5. It makes others in the discussion aware of the essay so that it can be mentioned again in future AfDs on similar topics.

Reasons not to quote your own essay[edit]

Naturally, there are also reasons not to quote your own essay.

  1. The essay is held out or implied as policy, thus creating the appearance of having greater weight than it should (see WP:NOTPOLICY and WP:EANP for essays on the subject)
  2. It prevents having to "re-think" arguments and lines of thinking for commonly-encountered discussions
  3. Even if not implied as policy or guideline, some editors may believe that an essay has more weight than it should.
  4. Merely quoting an essay can often be viewed as too abrupt, or dismissive, in not taking time to clarify issues, so consider stating additional explanations, along with quoting an essay, or just omit the essay and write direct explanations inline, where direct clarification might be more helpful (than a wikilink).
  5. With some users, the title of a quoted essay might be misinterpreted, so consider adding text to rephrase the essay concept, or not quote the essay at all.
  6. Perhaps an essay should not be quoted under the original title, but rather, quoted by an alternative redirection title, more appropriate to the ongoing discussion.
  7. If your essay is too long, chances are you will get a TL;DR reception, even it is full of sparkling wit and deep thought.

How to[edit]

If all the above did not discourage you from self-quoting, make sure your message goes through without annoying your opponents colleagues:

  1. In addition to "see WP:MYESSAY" it is good to add a summary of the actual argument you had in mind or at least point to a specific section/bullet in your essay. (As a side effect, this habit will force you to maintain a clear structure of your essays.)
  2. Be willing to answer more than "RTFM!" on someone's "Huh?" and don't ask "did you actually read my <crystal-clear, brilliant> essay?"

Disclaimer: Not for article content![edit]

Just to make sure: this essay is discussing quoting your own essay for discussions and talk pages on Wikipedia. It is in no way implying that it is good to quote yourself for article content.

Conclusion[edit]

Well-written essays are duly noted as essays. While an enthusiastic editor may quote an essay—even their own essay—in an AfD discussion, that does not in and of itself become a "bad" thing and there are several advantages to doing so. Just be sure that the community is clear on the communication—essays should be marked on the page as such.