Wikipedia talk:Citing sources

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Multi-page web sites[edit]

I am working through an article where one of the primary sources is the project home page. The site, like all (IMHO) good web sites, breaks its material down into separate web pages. This leads me to wonder how to best cite it.

If this web site were published as a book, it would have multiple pages. I would not cite each page as a separate document, I would have a single "ubercite" for the book as a whole, and then refer to pages in it using sfn (a godsend).

But to be more accurate, each web page more closely conceptually matches a chapter in the book. In that case I would still use a single ubercite and use the loc= to refer to sub-pages.

But it appears neither such system can be handled by sfn unless I'm missing something here. Can an sfn have a loc or page ref that is an url to another document?

More generally, can anyone offer advice on how to cite such works, without having to have individual cites/refs in the body or refs section.

Maury Markowitz (talk) 12:54, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

I believe sfn accepts |loc=. At any rate, it is just {{harv}}} (which has 'loc') automatically wrapped in <ref>...</ref> tags. Either way you can populate your text (notes) with stuff like "Smith, 2005, §25", all of which automatically link to your full citation for the source (e.g.: "Smith, John, 2005, Mucho flapdoodle"). It's not that the short cites (from sfn/harv) link to another document; they all link to a single full citation for that source.
Web pages often have sections, but I don't recall ever seeing anything that would amount to a chapter. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:35, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

Intro work[edit]

Just saw note about no changes without "extensive discussion", after I had "edited boldly!"

My goal was not to change any policy. I am an academic, and have done freelance editing, and my goal was/is to make some minor changes to make help pages a bit more accessible to non-programmer, and/or non-academic types, and faster/easier for everyone else. With that in mind, my specific goals were to:

1. Preserve existing information 2. Add brief overview of citations 3. Optimize clarity via order of explanation, consistency of terms, etc.

Please review to ensure I didn't alter any meanings, and see if I achieved my goal! - Then we can have an "extensive discussion" if necessary! Peacedance (talk) 03:35, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

@Peacedance: you didn't include the name of the article which any editor concerned should go to to review Whalestate (talk) 17:36, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

Question about citations for quotations[edit]

Can editors please clarify whether it is acceptable for a direct quotation to only have a mention of the author and book title without a linked citation with page numbers etc. A disagreement has just arisen on this issue between me and another editor on the Thomas More article. My understanding of the MoS is that all quotations should always have a linked citation with full details of the source. Am I correct in thinking this or not? Thanks, Afterwriting (talk) 10:51, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

This seems to be about a quote from a popular historian, that St Thomas More was "a particularly nasty sado-masochistic pervert." That seems like a rather controversial statement, to say the least. So it's likely to be challenged. The policy here is

Attribute all quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged to a reliable, published source using an inline citation. Cite the source clearly and precisely (specifying page, section, or such divisions as may be appropriate). (WP:Verifiability#Responsibility for providing citations)

So I edited that passage to add a {{page needed}} tag. Sources like newspaper articles don't require a page number, but cites to books usually do. – Margin1522 (talk) 13:16, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. Much appreciated. Afterwriting (talk) 15:33, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
The author's last name and a shortened form of the title is sometimes used for the short cite (instead of the more common name and year). But that should always point to a full citation, with the full bibliographic details of the source. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 17:57, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
That's a good point, especially since this book has two titles. The English edition (OCLC 560325149 has the title The statesman and the fanatic: Thomas Wolsey and Thomas More, while the American edition (OCLC 644950439) has the title Statesman and saint: Cardinal Wolsey, Sir Thomas More, and the politics of Henry VIII. I looked for the quote in snippet view of the American edition and couldn't find it. We really do need a page number and edition to verify if the author actually wrote this. – Margin1522 (talk) 20:19, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

RFC:Should all claims have a citation?[edit]

Should all claims, even claims of the type "Paris is the capital of France" have an inline citation to a reliable source? An edit by User:WhatamIdoing and another edit by User:HaeB add the new advice "However, editors are advised to provide citations for all material added to Wikipedia; any unsourced material risks being unexpectedly challenged or eventually removed." Jc3s5h (talk) 14:41, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

Discussion of all claims having a citation[edit]

No. Citing well-known uncontroversial claims adds a clutter of footnote numbers or parenthetical citations for the reader, clutters the wikitext for editors, and makes it very difficult for editors to edit because they may not have a collection of elementary school textbooks to support claims that are too well known to be mentioned in reference works intended for adults. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:41, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

Oppose The existing policy, which has been in force for as long as I can remember, is that all facts are "attributable", i.e. editors must provide sources to back them when requested to do so. (talk) 15:06, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

  • Oppose the edits for being ambiguous, incomplete, and even over-arching, and certainly undiscussed. A rollback might be appropriate. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:42, 18 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment: Did we not formerly have a clear summary statement that citation is required for direct quotations, close paraphrases, controversial claims, and material challenged or likely to be challenged? Have we not formerly distinguished verifiability (as potentiality) from actual attribution (citation)?
There has been a long chain of edits, but especially in the last three weeks, which however well-intended, and however obviously good they seem to individual editors, have not been discussed, and are not reconciled with other viewpoints. All these divergent interpretations of material poorly conceived in the first place has led to a large increase of muddledness. It seems necessary to have yet another deep, intense discussion of interpretatons and concepts, and of structure and approporiate level of prose. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:42, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

Relevant policy[edit]

The following information represents things which i thought important for the discussion - including the locations and some copies (with highlights) from within wikipedia which i found relevant to a discussion on whether claims should have citations, which i made in order that any discussion might proceed on the basis of evidence and actual facts of the subject under discussion, which all interested persons might together be able see easily, therefore obvious and known to everyone. Whalestate (talk) 20:37, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

key words[edit]

verifiable[edit] - "Make sure or demonstrate that (something) is true, accurate, or justified" - Middle English (as a legal term): from Old French verifier, from medieval Latin verificare, from verus 'true'.

synonymous meaning - - substantiate, confirm, prove, show to be true, corroborate, back up, support, uphold, evidence, establish, demonstrate, demonstrate the truth of, show, show beyond doubt, attest to, testify to, validate, authenticate, endorse, certify, accredit, ratify, warrant, vouch for, bear out, bear witness to, give credence to, give force to, give/lend weight to, justify, vindicate; make sure, make certain, check

see also :

Five pillars[edit]


The fundamental principles of Wikipedia.....

pillar 3. An essential part of something that provides support.

Second pillar[edit]

Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view ...

All articles must strive for verifiable accuracy, citing reliable, authoritative sources, especially when the topic is controversial or is on living persons.

Third pillar[edit]

Wikipedia is free content that anyone can use, edit, and distribute ...

Respect copyright laws, and never plagiarize from sources. Borrowing non-free media is sometimes allowed as fair use, but strive to find free alternatives first.

Fifth pillar[edit]

Wikipedia has no firm rules ...

Wikipedia has policies and guidelines, but they are not carved in stone; their content and interpretation can evolve over time. Their principles and spirit matter more than their literal wording, and sometimes improving Wikipedia requires making an exception





The English Wikipedia does not have a single, definitive statement of the community's values and principles

Wikipedia:Core content policies[edit]


2.Verifiability (WP:VER) – Material challenged or likely to be challenged, and all quotations, must be attributed to a reliable, published source. In Wikipedia, verifiability means that people reading and editing the encyclopedia can check that information comes from a reliable source.

3.No original research (WP:NOR) Wikipedia does not publish original thought: all material in Wikipedia must be attributable to a reliable, published source. Articles may not contain any new analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position not clearly advanced by the sources.



"This page in a nutshell:Readers must be able to check that Wikipedia articles are not just made up. This means that all quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation."

"Even if you're sure something is true, it must be verifiable before you can add it.[1 - This principle was previously expressed on this policy page as "the threshold for inclusion is verifiability, not truth." See the essay, WP:Verifiability, not truth

Wikipedia:Verifiability, not truth[edit]

This page in a nutshell: Any material added to Wikipedia must have been published previously by a reliable source.

Editors may not add or delete content solely because they believe it is true. actually i just re-wrote this statement, since it is written incorrectly, i'm sure, in edit 18:35, 19 April 2015

the statement now reads:

Editors may not add content solely because they believe it is true, nor delete content they believe to be untrue, unless they have verified this firstly with a source

the 18:35, 19 April re-write is in no way a change of policy, it is just the correct wording of the policy, as it stands. Whalestate (talk) 18:49, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

  • Comment – I think there are a few problems with the "Editors may not..." part. As a minor point, "Firstly" is kind of stilted. Also, the "unless" doesn't follow. If editors have verified the content beforehand, then they aren't adding or deleting solely because of what they believe. Finally, I don't care so much for "Editors may not..." as the nutshell of this policy. I contributed to Wikipedia for several years before I got around to reading the policies, and nobody complained. Instead of the policies, I read the MOS. That's because the MOS contains information that is actually useful for someone who wants to contribute to the encyclopedia, instead of being a list of things that are forbidden. I think it would be nice if we had more suggestions about how to write good content and less of the "Editors may not..." attitude. That is, if we want editors to actually read the policies. – Margin1522 (talk) 19:59, 19 April 2015 (UTC)|

Zero information is preferred to misleading or false information (statement of James Wales 2006)[edit]

"...There seems to be a terrible bias among some editors that some sort of random speculative "I heard it somewhere" pseudo information is to be tagged with a "needs a cite" tag. Wrong. It should be removed, aggressively, unless it can be sourced." (note 5 of — Preceding unsigned comment added by Whalestate (talkcontribs) 18:45, 19 April 2015

@Whalestate:, you have inserted a third-level heading, Relevant policy, under the second level heading RFC:Should all claims have a citation?, which makes your stuff part of that discussion. But your stuff seems to have nothing to do with the RFC; indeed, I can't figure out what it is about. Compose an appropriate introduction to your stuff and move it to an appropriate heading. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:29, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

@Jc3s5h: I have added a comment at the place you linked Whalestate (talk) 20:40, 19 April 2015 (UTC)