Wikipedia talk:Citing sources

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Requesting permission to change sentence: first major contributor[edit]

I came across the sentence As with spelling differences, unless there is consensus to change, defer to the style used by the first major contributor. I am requesting permission to change it to As with spelling differences, unless there is consensus to change, defer to the style most in use. The reason I am requesting permission is because I feel some editors wouldn't want to check the edit history every time to find out what style they should use, especially if it is a page with thousands of edits. If nobody has any issues with this I plan on making this change on March 28 (UTC-4). Jesant13 (talk) 21:38, 25 March 2014 (UTC)

This topic (first major contributor) has been extensively discussed before, I think recently as well. I oppose your suggested change; unless someone is a WP:Newbie or otherwise inexperienced with editing Wikipedia (such as some sporadic editors), it's not difficult to check in the edit history and see who the first major contributor is. And "the style most in use" is vague. "Most in use" with regard to what, the reference styles in the article? Flyer22 (talk) 21:52, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
On a side note: I altered the heading of this section with "first major contributor" so that it is clear as to what this section is about; it will also help identifying the section once it is archived. Also, despite what I just stated above, it actually can be difficult to determine who the "first major contributor" is, depending on how that aspect is defined. Flyer22 (talk) 21:55, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
I concur with Flyer22. As with spelling differences, unless there is consensus to change, defer to the style most in use is not true, because that is not the basis for choosing the national variety of English.Jc3s5h (talk) 22:27, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose, because "most in use" is ill-defined, and would amount to a change of policy. And also because, if there is some possibility of a problem, that should be established prior to slamming in a change. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:34, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. "Most in use" is vague, debatable, and subject to change. Also, even if a new editor isn't savvy enough to find the earliest edits link, this is something than can be easily explained on the article's talk page. As spelling variations are ultimately trivial to the broader purpose of this encyclopedia, we should endeavor to allow consensus to be established quickly rather than muddying the waters. --GentlemanGhost (converse) 22:48, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. (ec)Lazy editors are not a reason to change, especially when this would gut the intention of the current wording. Vegaswikian (talk) 22:49, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose, per Flyer22 and J. Johnson. Even if it is not intended this way, "style most in use" is easily interpreted to mean "American English only," on grounds that the US population is larger than any other English-speaking region.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:51, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
    This is about CITEVAR, not about ENGVAR, so American vs non-American English spelling is irrelevant. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:53, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
WP:ENGVAR is being addressed because of the "As with spelling differences" aspect of the wording. Flyer22 (talk) 23:08, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
Exactly so, and the same principle is involved. Citation style preferences also vary by nationality, and the proposed wording can easily be interpreted as "mob rule", according to whatever is regarded as the "most predominant" usage, in the opinion of any editor, using any criteria.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:37, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Most WP policies of this type go back to maintaining the style used by the first major contributor. There are good reasons for us to maintain similar wording to WP:DATERET. Dates can be something over which there are edit skirmishes of various intensity. Having a policy at variance with the policies at MOS would only fuel issues. I also agree with the reasons supplied by others above who have voiced opposition. I would support a change which changes much of the text describing date styles, and which to choose, to just referencing MOS:DATEFORMAT. Making the change to primarily referencing MOS would alleviate the need to go into unnecessary, repetitive detail on this page. Unless I am mistaken, there is no intent, or desire, to differ from what is acceptable in MOS. If there is, then we should have the description concentrate on the differences or limitations and be explicit that they are intentional difference from MOS:DATEFORMAT. — Makyen (talk) 23:20, 25 March 2014 (UTC)

By "style most in use" I was referring to the style most in use in an article, not all of English Wikipedia. Does anyone have any suggestions as to a different way to determine how to determine what spelling style to use in a given article? Jesant13 (talk) 00:44, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

If that's the case, the wording needs to specify it so that there is no confusion, something along the lines of "style most prevalent within the article." However, I still recommend against this change. --GentlemanGhost (converse) 01:05, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
(edit conflict) @Jesant13: Most/all here probably understood your intent that "most in use" was intended to mean "most in use on the page to which you are adding the citation". What people have pointed out is the wording can be interpreted differently than you intended, and that some editors will interpret it that way either intentionally, or unintentionally.
Unless the situation is crystal-clear, the process of determining the varient to use on a particular page can result in burning a bunch of time if there are differing opinions. I don't see a reason we should open either of these cans of worms (WP:ENGVAR and/or MOS:DATEFORMAT) on this project page. The various sections/pages within MOS are as comprehensive as has been reached by consensus. Unless there is a consensus here to explicitly differ from WP:ENGVAR and/or MOS:DATEFORMAT, then we should just state that the guidelines described in those pages/sections should be used in citations.
If you are asking "how to determine which" because you want to know as opposed to something for the project page, then that is a potentially long discussion. I started to write something quick, but it just kept getting more complex as I was writing it. I deleted it because I realized I do not have the time to write something up and such a discussion is much more appropriate to have at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers or Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style where more editors can comment than will see it here. — Makyen (talk) 01:19, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
Jesant13, why are you asking here at WT:Citing sources about how to determine what spelling style to use? I realize that CITEVAR and ENGVAR use the same model. (I should know; I wrote CITEVAR.) If you want to know how to determine what citation style to use, I can help you with that. But if you want to know what spelling style to use, then the rules are quite a bit more complicated, and you really need to stop asking that question here. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:19, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
I was asking here because of the sentence As with spelling differences, unless there is consensus to change, defer to the style used by the first major contributor. That sentence is on the project page. What I had been doing and plan on continuing doing is using the spelling style and citation style for a given citation type (like the web) used most in a given article, instead of checking the edit by the first major contributor on every single page I decide to edit. I've yet to have someone revert any of my edits over this. I'm thinking about not making the change I suggested because on another project page I came across the same thing, which is to use the style put in place by the first major contributor. Jesant13 (talk) 20:42, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
For everyday editing, just take a look at what you see, and copy that citation style to the best of your ability. These rules about which style to follow are aimed at resolving serious disputes. If you're not in a dispute, and you're not trying to start one (e.g., by radically changing the style currently in use without talking it over first), then you don't need to worry about any of this at all. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:59, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
Okay, I'm glad to hear that the rules are aimed at resolving serious disputes. I didn't know that before. Jesant13 (talk) 22:40, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

The above conversation is very confused. Can those who are talking about ENGVAR please strike those comments. In the case of CITEVAR the current wording is inadequate for several reasons. "defer to the style used by the first major contributor" has several problems for CITEVAR that ENGVAR does not have, as national spelling and grammar constructs have not altered during the lifetime of this project, but the method of citing text has altered a lot.

First of all the paragraph says "If the article you are editing is already using a particular citation style, you should follow it;" There may not be a style or the style may vary from that used by the "first major contributor". In practice what tends to happen is that style evolves over time. For example if a book is cited one then a full inline citation may be appropriate, but if someone then comes along and cites different pages from that book, it is verbose to copy the whole citations for each page change, so editors tend to start to use short citations. To argue that all those short citations should then be changed to long citations just because someone does not like short citations and justify it on "defer to the style used by the first major contributor" when the first editor used a long citation for one instance is not a help to the project. This also has to do with the complexity of the article. In short articles then whether half a dozen citations are listed as footnotes or split into short citations and alphabetically listed long citations does not really matter, but once an article gets into the 100 of citations some cited multiple times with different pages to support different passages it is often not practical to use anything other short inline citations and a sorted list in a references section, no matter what style was used when the article was only a paragraph long with just one reference.

There are other problems:

  • 1) The first major contributor may have used a style that was acceptable when the article was written but is now considered inadequate for example this guideline now suggest avoiding embedded links, but if no style can be agreed upon then if that is what the original editor used that is what the article would end up with if one was to "defer to the style used by the first major contributor".
  • 2) The technology has changes is anyone seriously suggesting that because the first person used footnote3 or something earlier that article should revert to using that method if not agreement can be reached on current style?
  • 3) This has ownership issues. For example I wrote my first article Royal Scots Dragoon Guards back in November 2003 does that mean I can choose the style of citations that can be used in that article forever more? What if I think that the style I used initially is now inadequate. Can I unilaterally change because I was the "first major contributor"?
  • 4) This whole idea is skewed to not using templates because unless the article was copied from a PD source such as EB1911 (where templates were included for many years), then if the article is older than seven years then there is a very good chance that templates were not used initially. Even with more recent articles newish editors tend not to use citation template, not because they are opposed to them, but because they are not sure how to do so and they are more interested in creating their new article quickly. But later those who dislike templates can quote this line "defer to the style used by the first major contributor" to support their preference.

The "first major contributor" argument should only be used if on balance if there is nothing to choose between two options and the original contributor introduced a specific overall style that is still in use: EG harvard style or footnote style and not for anything else. -- PBS (talk) 18:24, 27 March 2014 (UTC)

Phil has some good general comments, but on the broader issue. On the specific request made here there is solid block of opposition (largely because the proposed language was unclear). I suggest that the request be closed as "denied", with an option for continuing this discussion on the broader issue. (Although another venue might be better.) ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:11, 27 March 2014 (UTC)

What do you do when there's no URL?[edit]

I have run into this several times. I click on a link but the URL at the top of the screen does not change. So I'm not giving information which is that useful when I put the URL at the top of the page in the citation. And in a case I ran into today, I don't think the title of the page changed either. When I typed in a search term, the information on one part of the screen changed. I clicked on the link and only that part of the screen changed.— Vchimpanzee · talk · contributions · 16:50, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

I, and I'm sure other people, would be happy to help. It would help us quite a bit in trying to figure out what is going on if you could provide an example. Information which would be helpful would, for example, includes: the page name and reference name/number/some other identification, what you, specifically, clicked on, anything else you can tell us (browser, OS). — Makyen (talk) 18:09, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
I've misplaced the information I needed to continue this, but I'll come back when I've found it. Thanks.— Vchimpanzee · talk · contributions · 18:31, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
Look at reference 1 in Yell County Courthouse. This is on almost every NRHP article. I think this is what the question is about. Vegaswikian (talk) 19:38, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
I don't see what the problem is with reference 1 in Yell County Courthouse. For me, the text "National Register Information System" is linked to When I click on the link, I am taken to that page. I admit the data in the registry appears less convenient to access than would be desirable, but that is a problem for the National Park Service. The reference is generated by the {{NRISref}} template, which appears to be doing what it is documented to do.
But that link has nothing about the topic. And there is not direct way to navigate to it. Vegaswikian (talk) 18:19, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
For me, all of the references on the Yell County Courthouse page have primary links that link to either a webpage, or a PDF document. Reference 2 does have a [[Wikipedia:Red link|red-link] to Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, but I don't think that is what you are trying to indicate.
If you are not seeing the link, then definitely need more information about your configuration. However, the existence of those links should not depend on your config. — Makyen (talk) 23:57, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Getting back to the original question, this is the link. Where it says "Name", I type in a search term. Let's say "Lee". On the right, a list of names comes up and I click on one of them. Let's say "Robert Lee". Information about what I searched for comes up. The URL has not changed, so I can't use it as the URL because the information would not be on the screen.— Vchimpanzee · talk · contributions · 13:22, 27 March 2014 (UTC)

I use the at parameter at Template:Cite web#In-source locations. Make it specific enough to easily find the result, without adding obvious details like "Click on the name". When you know the wanted result, go back and test for a clearer way to get there. In your example it could be at=Search on Lee, Robert. This only gives the wanted search result. Quotation marks don't work in the search so I used italics to not confuse the reader. PrimeHunter (talk) 14:16, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
Thanks. I hope that works.— Vchimpanzee · talk · contributions · 14:23, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps |at=Select name: Lee, Robert is better. 'Select' and 'name' are terms used on the NAIA Honors website so by using those terms in the citation you are preparing the reader to see the terms used there. Also colon instead of italics to keep the Wikimarkup out of the citation's COinS metadata.
Trappist the monk (talk) 14:44, 27 March 2014 (UTC)

Discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Medicine#Should we change the ref layout during the above bot work?[edit]

You are invited to join the discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Medicine#Should we change the ref layout during the above bot work?. This is about changing the formatting of citation templates on these popular articles, based on the preferences of the majority of editors at the WikiProject. (There are 1500 articles on that list, but I believe that most of them already used the preferred formatting style, so this would likely affect far fewer articles.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:51, 30 March 2014 (UTC)

Cite.php backlinks[edit]

I noticed this earlier, but here this problem can't be overlooked. I submitted this bug. Comments are welcome. Paradoctor (talk) 20:44, 3 April 2014 (UTC)