Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 19

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Wikipedia:WikiProject TUGS

As part of the above mentioned Wikiproject, I am making a solo attempt to completely refurbish, copyedit and basically glam up all articles related to the 1988 children's television series TUGS. But the problem is, this series was made in 1988 and has since been completely forgotten about, with no official website, just except a handful of fansites and a couple of mentions here and there. What do you do for citing sources in a case like this, where no official sources are apparent? Thanks --SteelersFan UK06 08:18, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

IMHO Best would be to dive into the archives of 1988 and find the original press coverage. However, that would not be feasible to most editors. So you will propably have to do with the fansites; weak sources as they are. Arnoutf 08:44, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
I see. Thanks for your help i knew i could count on you guys =) --SteelersFan UK06 12:12, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
You might try getting scripts or transcripts. As mentioned somewhere above, it would not make for a particularly interesting article, but still... Dysmorodrepanis 12:16, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

Oh come on and accept original research. You will never get far if you disallow it. I strongly oppose your rules. You know you are being really stupid about this. Your stupidity and panoraidity will not go unnoticed for long. I will make sure original research is allowed because we can not verify all content. No your fear of original research must stop at ONCE! I will complain to the Original Research Allowers. They think you are being stupid. You better allow it or I will ban you off for good. Beware! of the reseults and take action right now to avoid trouble and jail. The Original Research Allowers will put anyone who hates original research in jail for life! Fairycart 09:23, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

Yeah right, ok I do not see any curve in the earth (personal observation) hence I deduce the earth is flat after all (QED). Nice bit of original research from me; let's rewrite Wikipedia..... And that is why original research is not allowed. Btw I LOVE original research, that's why I am a scientist, I publish it in peer reviewed journal though, not on Wiki ;-) Arnoutf 10:22, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
It's very likely that there are no secondary sources about individual episodes or characters, so the articles will probably need to be deleted or possibly merged into one list. 17Drew 12:30, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
One alternative solution is to create your own primary sources on the Internet via a web site. Because editors look at on-line sources more than printed, if you publish the hard-copy information to your personal web site, then you can reference it on Wikipedia. I've seen this work in several situations, such as Brat Pack where virtually 100-percent of the article is based on a hard-copy magazine article. If you don't have the energy to create your own site, try contacting those other fansites and see if you can incorporate your newly found information into them. I've actually been told by one editor to do this as a way to stay within the rules of Wikipedia. Groink 02:35, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Citing the web

Is it standard to use a title that describes what is on the page rather than the title that appears on the page for websites that are not news articles? LaraLove 14:13, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

I generally use the title that appears in the title bar if there's not one on the page itself. 17Drew 14:19, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

URL Refs vs. Tag Refs - tags preferred: proposal

This discussion (Reference styles section) leads me to believe that the URL method[1] of writing citations is not the preferred method of referencing, whereas the ref tag method[1] is considered the correct way. While we can never eliminate the use of URL tags, I think we should discourage them.

I propose that the WP:CITE page (and other related pages) make mention of the fact that the REF TAG method is preferred over the URL method, and that the URL method should be discouraged.

Comments? Timneu22 18:27, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

There is a difference. For example when providing a showcase in a list (e.g. the list of museums in the Utrecht (city) article I would use a weblink (but not numbered), whereas when I use the information as a source for the article I think the ref method is the best way. So yes, with this caveat, I fully support your idea. Arnoutf 19:10, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
The "preference for ref tags over URLs" proposal isn't for lists, just for inline citations. You are correct that the museum list in that article should be weblinks. I'm glad you support this idea. I'll wait for a few more... Timneu22 19:23, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
I find external jumps mid article, distracting and misleading, I wouldn't use them. I also support discouraging external jump only citations mid article for the same reason. IvoShandor 02:58, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
THIS DISCUSSION MOVED BELOW: #Merge two sections into one - tell users which method to use! Timneu22 10:35, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Number of citations

How many is too many?

Seems a tad bit overdone to me. Dreadstar 09:13, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Generally every time a point is made a reference might be pertinent. Generally one main point per paragraph, but it's sometimes possible that two or three references might be used to make one point, but in Wikipedia that could be bordering on synthesis. Those examples could possibly be trimmed by tracing back the multiple references to their original sources. I start by removing the aggregation services that refer elsewhere. --Monotonehell 09:31, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
In your first example I fully agree, that is overdone. The notes are more examples than real source. E.g. The sentence about being first Italian Am, and wearing a golden pin is an easily verifiable (albeit double) message that is unlikely to be contested. Hence a single, or at max 2 (for the two points made in the sentence) reference would suffice. The other 10 (12 citations for a single line....) are over the top. Arnoutf 09:55, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the comments! That's exactly what I was thinking too. Another editor drew my attention to the article, so I thought I'd double-check my view on the vast number of reference links. Thanks for confirming. Dreadstar 19:45, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Should Harvard Referencing be deprecated?

WP:CITE lists two methods for inline citations: Harvard Referencing or footnotes with "ref" tags, in that order.

It appears to me, overwhelmingly, that the latter method is more commonly used. The last 10 featured articles have all used inline citations with ref tags. Offhand, I can't recall the last time I saw a FA with Harvard referencing. It has probably happened...but not recently, and certainly not very often.

When I joined Wikipedia, I used Harvard Referencing for a number of articles that I created, since it was the option listed first. I now regret that, as those articles look odd now. I know that in one article I worked on, other editors came in later, and as part of an FA push (which was successful), converted all of the inline cites to use ref tags.

At this point, is it fair to say that "the people have spoken," and Harvard Referencing is the less preferred option? At the very least, I think it should be listed second, with a comment that "ref" tags are preferred by most editors. Marc Shepherd 15:47, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

Harvard referencing is alive and well, thanks. There's no reason to worry about it - it isn't better or worse than the footnote method. I don't really understand why there is so much concern about Harvard referencing, when it's still a very common style in journals. Moreover, this guideline is not just for featured articles, which must meet the idiosyncratic interpretations of the FA reviews; it's a general recommendation for all articles. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:53, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
I'm not passing any judgment on which method is better. I'm just making the empirical observation that, overwhelmingly, it seems that the "ref" style has prevailed on English Wikipedia, to a point where it is now considerably more common. This is not merely true in Featured Articles (which purport to represent the best of Wikipedia), but all over the site generally. Marc Shepherd 16:56, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
A comment on Harvard / Footnote. In my line of work (applied social psychology) I prefer Harvard because you can deduct a lot about the underlying assumptions/position in a paper or report if you know who the cited authors are. This is particularly useful for a field where there is a lot of disagreement about models and paradigms (such as in social sciences). For Wiki purposes, however, it is essential that we present a view that is as balanced as possible and reflect all points of view. For such purposes the Harvard style has not such an explicit benefit (as you try to exclude pov and assumptions of models as much as possible). So, yes there are objective reasons for using Harvard; although perhaps not for most Wiki articles, but that is something else. Arnoutf 17:15, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
Another reason to continue to recommend Harvard is that if an article is found on a site with a suitable copyright license status, and the article uses Harvard citations, the article could be copied as-is into Wikipedia. Or, an author who wrote for a publication that requires Harvard citations could copy it to Wikipedia too, if the agreement with the publisher allows him/her to do so. (This assumes, of course, the article is suitable for Wikipedia.) --Gerry Ashton 17:25, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
I'm not suggesting Harvard Referencing would go away. There are almost 2 million articles in English Wikipedia. Harvard Referencing could very well be employed on tens of thousands of them. It's not going away. I'm just wondering whether it remains appropriate to list "ref" tags and Harvard as two equivalent styles, with Harvard listed first? Marc Shepherd 17:54, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
Do the Harvard citation templates work, and if so, could someone give me an example of an article that uses them? The footnote method with "ref" tags works, and provides a link from the superscript down to the footnote at the bottom of the page, and another link to go back up to the text. The Harvard citation template claims to do this, but I didn't find any article where it seemed to work. I think it's good style to name the authors and year in the text. I don't see why you can't do this and then put a ref-style footnote after it, too, like this (Smith and Jones, 1960)[2] that goes to the full citation. If footnote style is used more often, I think it's a good idea to describe it first on this page, as Marc Sheppard suggested, though perhaps without any comment about which is preferred. --Coppertwig 22:20, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
One example of what I think you are asking for is Taboo. The <ref>s use {{Harvnb}} templates to generate clickable links in the Notes section to matching named elements which are generated by the {{Citation}} templates which mark items in the Referneces section. No backlinks are provided from the References section items — it is necessary to use the browser's Back button (or alt-left-arrow, or whatever) to retrace the history of pages viewed. -- Boracay Bill 23:08, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
THIS DISCUSSION MOVED BELOW: #Merge two sections into one - tell users which method to use! Timneu22 10:34, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:WikiProject Citation cleanup

Hello fellow editors. Could an admin please add the Wikipedia:WikiProject Citation cleanup to the See Also section - I can't due to the protection. Thanks. Onnaghar tl ! co 18:03, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

I don’t believe the goals of this project, specifically maximizing the use of citation templates, are compatible with this guideline, which does not encourage their use. Christopher Parham (talk) 18:56, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
I think the project is still in its infancy (e.g. illustrated by goals that do not follow this guideline as observed above). It was after all only started 2 weeks ago. I would suggest to let it develop to maturity first before requesting to add it to this page. That time lage will allow time to resolve such issues before there is a semi-official endorsement of the project through its linking from here. Arnoutf 19:27, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
Ok, I understand. I'll come back later. Thanks for the advice. Onnaghar tl ! co 12:01, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

Could "BLP" be replaced with "biography of a living person"?


lI'd like to request that pursuant with Wikipedia:Explain_jargon, the use of "BLP" in Wikipedia:Citing_sources#Unsourced_material ("so long as the article is not nonsensical or a BLP") could be changed to "biography of a living person" to make it easier to understand. --Hopkapi 02:52, August 30 2007 (UTC)

Seems reasonable. Done. --- RockMFR 05:00, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

Merge two sections into one - tell users which method to use!

The two sections on this page...

... both point to the fact that the Footnote style of referencing is the preferred method. I believe we should make this point known. When this page is unprotected, I recommend the following:

  1. Add more of an introduction in the Inline citations section, discussing the three types of referencing methods and their pros/cons. State what has been stated here: footnotes are recommended.
  2. Reorder the Inline citations section so that footnotes are first (they are recommended). Embedded links second? Probably up for debate but you see where I'm going.
  3. Make it clear to the user — while several methods DO exist, we like footnotes.

Comments? Timneu22 10:45, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

No, the consensus that multiple reference styles are acceptable is extremely longstanding. Two sections don't demonstrate otherwise. Christopher Parham (talk) 11:19, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Christopher Parham, just a few editors putting up their opinion, which is contested in the mentioned sections as well, is not an illustration of anything more than that there are some editors who prefer a certain used style (which is tautological because there would not be articles in that style if there were no editors preferring it). Not an indication of Wiki community preference; let alone consensus whatsoever. Arnoutf 12:01, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

Christopher Parham's comment somewhat misstates the case. What is longstanding is not consensus, but the lack of it. The guideline reads the way it does, because editors could not agree. The result is one of the few Wikipedia style guidelines that fails to recommend a style.

Whatever one's personal preference may be, does anyone here deny that footnotes with "ref" tags have become, overwhelmingly, the most commonly used inline citation method on English Wikipedia? Has not the time come to recognize this? Marc Shepherd 12:37, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

Some freedom of choice makes editors happy. Guidelines should support the editing process and not put it in a straightjacket. Therefore I am an active fan of guidelines that allow different possibilities.
Yes the ref tags are most commonly used. Yes I would be happy to acknowledge that this is most common. No I would not be happy to change the text to reflect any preference of one style over another. Arnoutf 12:46, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
OK, but then we should at least add the stuff I mentioned to the Inline citations section: REF tags are most prominent. And we need to add pros/cons: URL links in mid-sentence are ugly, REF tags may not be easily grasped, etc. It's fine to say "here are three methods", but my gosh there's no direction given as to why or when a user should use what. A new editor won't know what to do or why there are multiple methods, because WP:CITE just says "here are ways to do it." I think it should be mentioned — at the very least — that the REF tags are the most popular. And that they are prettier. ;-) Timneu22 21:37, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
I question whether they are the most popular -- far more users employ embedded links than anything else, I would be willing to wager, simply because they are much simpler. The problem with pros and cons is that its not clear there would be any agreement on what the pros and cons are. Christopher Parham (talk) 23:39, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
It is quite difficult for newish editors to grasp the complexities of the 3 (or more) different ways to go about referencing and citations, (and footnotes), and a style guideline should give clearer instructions. Harvard referencing has its uses. URL's in the middle of text are ugly. Where Harvard referencing has been used correctly in an article, there should be no wholesale changing unless the concerned editors agree on the talk-page. And Harvard referencing should be continued to be used where appropriate under the same provisions. But please, somewhere the Ref or Ref-notes system has to be explained clearly, at the moment all one can do is poke around in articles, and try to pick up what best practice is by *osmosis*. Editors should have freedom to use all of the types of Referencing available in Wikipedia - they are so many, and clearly written instructions would be most appreciated. Newbyguesses - Talk 23:53, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
As far as making the instructions clearer, that would be fine. How do you think the section on footnotes could be made more clear? (note however that the main page for detailed advice on footnotes is not this one, but WP:FOOT) Christopher Parham (talk) 00:01, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Newbyguesses. I've been on Wikipedia for a long time and lately I've been thinking why do some articles use footnotes and others use Harvard; what's up with the ugly URLs? There are no clearly-written instructions. We need to give some examples about best practices. As for explaining how to make REF tags easier, I don't think they are hard at all, but we can address that later. I think a pros/cons chart will be pretty easy to do, if people are just open-minded. Here's a quick summary as a starting point.
Reference Style Advantages Disadvantages
URL links[2]
  • Easy to use. Just add [] within the sentence, and the link is created.
  • Readers and editors often find the links distracting in the middle of text.
  • Unsuitable for many high-quality sources (peer-reviewed research papers, books)
  • Aestheitcally pleasing. These tags tend to be less distracting than other methods.
  • Creates automatic reference list (usually at the bottom of an article).
  • Easy ability to use the same reference multiple times in the article.
  • To some users, the use of <ref> tags may not be intuitive.
  • Incorrect use of these tags (forgetting to add a closing tag, for instance) could cause problems with page rendering.
Harvard Referencing (
  • Easy to add - just put text in parentheses.
  • Unlike footnotes, the reference for a statement can be found without additional clicks.
  • May be distracting within the middle of text.
  • No automatic reference list

This ugly table and comment were done by Timneu22 00:10, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Thanks, user:Christopher Parham, my viewpoint here is obviously that of a novice. WP:FOOT is a separate GL, and I did not want to widen the scope of the discussion concerning thispage unnecessarily. What I would suggest, is that all info on REf be in one place, and that on Harvard a separate para, or sect. I would wish for something along the lines of a how-to guide. How-to-reference, step by step. In the meantime, I must admit I have not read the guideline through completely enough times yet to have specific helpful criticisms. But I will be trying to get up to speed. Referencing is key, as verifiabilty is key. Newbyguesses - Talk 00:21, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Most of that is completely subjective, though; why are footnotes aesthetically pleasing and the others distracting? Christopher Parham (talk) 00:37, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
  • regarding URL links[3], the requirement here that "A full citation is also required in a References section at the end of the article." is generally ignored.
  • Footnotes[4] and Harvard Referencing ( can be combined. This is done, for example, in the Taboo article. -- Boracay Bill 01:13, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Add to advantages of Harvard referencing: Use of the author's name as the subject of a sentence is often convenient to avoid weasel words. ("Helps avoid weasel words" for short?) Re combining footnotes and Harvard referencing: I think "Harvard referencing" refers to a style in which the authors' names appear in the text. The Taboo article does not do this. It does use the templates which are usually used with Harvard referencing. (Maybe someone could still provide a good example of a page that uses Harvard referencing?) Under advantages of footnotes: "automatic links down to the reference list and back". Under advantages of Harvard referencing: "automatic links down to the reference list (but not back)". (assuming that the templates are used.) --Coppertwig 01:47, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure about the specifics of style guidelines regarding the construction of inline references to endmatter material which might be laid down by a Harvard referencing system style manual. In practice, several styles are used, and styles are often mixed. (see this). Regarding the example you are looking for, see Albert Einstein, Alexander III of Scotland, Alexios II Komnenos, Bengali language, Brigham Young. You can probably find other examples among the list of pages here. --Boracay Bill 02:19, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, I have been working on this article. Several references have been added to the article, improving it (Harvard and REF are both used in the article). The task ahead of me, in just *tidying* that Footnote-reffs section, will be more arduous than actually finding the REFFs and writng some text was. I like tidy REFFS, but the work is difficult, and could be less so, if a *how-to* style guide was in place. Newbyguesses - Talk 04:32, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Just incidentally, I've come across this, which indicates that the Harvard system traces back to a paper published in 1881 by Edward Laurens Mark, with parenthetical inline citations in that paper looking like "(75, p.5)" indicating the item number of the full citation in an endmatter list and the relevant page number in the cited item. -- Boracay Bill 05:16, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
To Christopher Parham, I say that, yes, this is somewhat subjective. However, the goal here is to give new users an easier time. These "subjective" statements are coming from people who have been around for a while and can see the good/bad of different styles. Why are footnotes more attractive? I don't know, but multiple users on here have stated this, so it is certainly a "pro". After getting all this feedback, I'm sure that we need to add this chart. We should also add, as Boracay Bill mentioned, that all types of styles can be mixed on one article, but again it seems a best practice would be to stick with one style for an article. Also, Coppertwig, where to Harvard references link down but not back? It's only text, that I've ever seen. Timneu22 10:33, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
With respect to the title of this discussion, Merge two sections into one - tell users which method to use!- For me, it is more a question of - Tell'm HOW TO reference, explain different methods, if the methods are different, and discuss which method works best when we all know HOW the methods (are supposed to) work. Newbyguesses - Talk 11:34, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I have opined previously (not on this subthread) that I believe that this particular guideline article should limit itself to, as the article intro says, "describing how to write citations in articles." rather than to veer off (arguably — I see it as veering off, some others do not) into questions regarding where in the article these properly-constructed citations should be placed and whether/how they should be linked/backlinked. I was shouted down on that, and I consider it to be an argument lost. Rots of ruck. -- Boracay Bill 12:13, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Add to disadvantages of footnotes: (I think) if a large number of <ref></nowki> tags are used in an article, it significantly slows down the page loading or rendering, to view the page or to view a diff link of the page. The user has to wait, and perhaps it takes up the time of the Wikimedia servers. I think it depends mainly on the number of <nowiki><ref></nowki> tags even if many of these go to the same few footnotes. I wonder whether it's feasible to make the software more efficient. I don't know whether the Harvard citation templates have the same problem. I think superscripts rendered with <nowiki><sup> do not have this problem to any significant degree, but they don't provide the automatic links and other benefits. --Coppertwig 18:05, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Why Harvard references are distracting: Most people who come to the Wikipedia for information are probably not interested in the references. I expect the vast majority of references are simply ignored, read over. Harvard references add a chunk of text, irrelevant to most people, into the middle of a sentence, which the reader must skip over. A paper with lots of these refs can become quite tiresome to read. Footnotes can be ignored more easily. Since most people probably choose to ignore refs, footnotes make the Wikipedia more accessable for most users. Remember, the Wikipedia is not a paper in a scientific journal. The people reading it are not necesserally super smart, and are not out to check the correctness of a paper, as they may be in a journal. Rocketmagnet 09:16, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
You will find that an significant number of people find footnotes more distracting than Harvard referencing. As with American/British spelling, everyone has some preference they use when writing their own articles, but changing existing articles just leads to arguments. It isn't really worth discussing again. — Carl (CBM · talk) 12:25, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
This discussion is not about changing existing articles. This is about making it more clear which is the preferred method (which is apparently refs). Rocketmagnet 11:54, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
I have, out of sheer frustration with the existing possibilities, switched to using Harvard refs as footnotes and citing a nice alphabetical list of sources - to which the footnotes refer - separately; it is interesting to see (Taboo) that others have come to the same conclusion. It was a bit odd at first, but I found it to satisfy the needs of the inexperienced editor (as the ref tags are kept brief) and the professional scholar (as there is a neat ref list rather than an arbitrary hodgepodge).
That (Harvard references within ref-tagged footnote, separate alphabetized list of references) is my preferred style as well. Two more advantages of this style over putting everything directly into a ref: (1) it's easier to read and edit the source text of the article because it isn't as broken up by the long references, and (2) listing the references alphabetically in a single place within the article's source text makes it easier to keep them formatted consistently with each other. I will still use un-footnoted harvard cites when I want to use the author's name as part of the prose, though. I find {{citation}} and {{harv}} (or {{harvnb}} or {{harvtxt}}) very helpful for this referencing style. —David Eppstein 01:29, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
That "Wikipedia is not a paper in a scientific journal" is no excuse for sloppy reference lists, which are off-putting to scientists and other experts which do on occasion consult WP (and which are the single social group - apart from political extremists with NPOV problems - which still pooh-poohs WP). The cite template will always be crufty and is decidedly non-intuitive to use, and only using tags results in a list that is so chaotic as to render it useless to the professional (look at Archaeopteryx#Footnotes for example. What a mess that is!). Sources and footnotes are not the same thing even in print media, and WP should not strive to lower itself under an already-existing standard but rather use its advantages to achieve a standard that no print encyclopedia can ever dream to reach.
Altogether I find none of the existing preferences to be able to provide a clean (referencing-wise and code-wise) possibility to properly and thoroughly source an article - at least not with some decidedly non-standard tweaking. Thus I can only conclude that, until a properly working and especially scaleable system exists, none should be unequivocally recommended over the others. Dysmorodrepanis 01:16, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
(←) There is no preferred method, as there is no preference between American and British spelling. And as with the spelling issue, I don't think that discussion to find a preferred method will go anywhere. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:45, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
I think we could well advise users against using "pure" URL refs except if it works best. Of all methods, URL links provide the least information to the reader, and I for one try to avoid them whenever possible. There is the occasional case where an URL link might even be the preferred way - usually if the linked page has no title, author and whatever else is needed to properly cite a source. In 99% of cases (and that's actually - roughly - the empirical proportion I have found in my edits) a Web source should be citeable via tags.
If an editor is too inexperienced to use tags, s/he can stil use the "URL link" cite, to be corrected later. But for the experienced editor, URL links should come last on the list. Using them without need is to throw away information, and that is, I think, the cardinal sin in an encyclopedia, especially in the world's greatest. Dysmorodrepanis 01:38, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

FWIW, I support getting rid of Harvard refs and standardising on Wikipedia refs (<ref></ref> and <ref>{{cite web|etc|etc}}</ref>).--Gronky 20:15, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

If the reference is just a link, an inline link is preferable - the target is just one click away. Merely moving a link reference to the "references" section, without adding the full details of a proper citation template, puts it two clicks away and makes navigation up more difficult. You can't just right click and open a reference in a new tab or window, like you can a link.
If a full citation template is provided, then a reference is justified, but if it's just a link, it may not be worth the trouble. If a reference is just a URL, with no user-readable text at all, then putting it in the reference section is clearly undesirable. --John Nagle (talk) 04:25, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Note that the project page of this article, under Inline citations and Embedded links says:
As I read that, it's not a matter of "If a full citation template is provided, ..." — this style guideline requires that a full reference be provided in a "References" section at the end of the article. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 06:47, 29 December 2007 (UTC)


I need to know if genres need to be sourced, because Hoponpop69 keeps going to random band articles and adding citation needed tags to the genres, when they've been up for months and nobody objected to them. Tim Y (talk) 23:51, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

This guideline page says, "This page in a nutshell: Material challenged or likely to be challenged needs a reliable source." The policy page WP:V says, "Editors should provide a reliable source for quotations and for any material that is challenged or is likely to be challenged, or it may be removed." I don't believe that any exception to this exists for music genres in band articles.
Perhaps one or more reliable sources for establishing what genres apply for rock bands need to be identified. Also, perhaps more Music genre articles and associated Genreboxes need to be created — I noticed that in the Good Charlotte dispute regarding Genre citations, the genre Synth Rock has a genre article but no genrebox. (note: I am no expert in the subject area of musical genres or of rock bands, as may be obvious). -- Boracay Bill 01:35, 2 September 2007 (UTC)


Paul Abrahams 23:58, 2 September 2007 (UTC)It would be a good idea to have a citation template for patents. I needed to cite a patent and could not find anything about a standard form for doing so.

Inline, I use {{patent|US|1234567|"Soft Collar"}} which generates US 1234567  "Soft Collar" using Template:Patent. Alternatively {{cite patent|US|1234567|title="Soft Collar"}} generates US 1234567, ""Soft Collar""  using Template:Cite patent. Either of these can be enclosed in ref tags. LeadSongDog (talk) 15:06, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
If you don't want to use a template, The APA Publication Manual (5th ed., p. 410) offers this suggestion:
Smith, I. M. (1988). U.S. Patent No. 123,445. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
--Gerry Ashton (talk) 17:14, 29 December 2007 (UTC)



I am Kris Peterson. I wrote my own bio. All sources were right from the person (S) cited. RE: Jobriath: I was there and knew that he was the first openly gay performer. My parents: anything referring to them were told to me by them. I was there and knew all to be the truth with everything stated .

Kris Peterson (Ladyinabag). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ladyinabag (talkcontribs) 16:21, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

First of all writing your autobiography on Wikipedia is discouraged (see Wikipedia:Autobiography). Second, you imply that your sourcs are comments by certain people. I think in most cases this will be considered as original research, (sse WP:OR) which is not considered an acceptable source in the Wikipedia community. Consider whether you want to take this (your own) biography further or maybe you should leave it. Arnoutf 17:08, 3 September 2007 (UTC)


Can you use an email you have received from someone as a source? Can it be uploaded or something? --SteelersFan UK06 17:52, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

That's not really a published source, and thus not appropriate. How would other editors confirm that the email is accurate? Christopher Parham (talk) 18:05, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, we do have the Wikipedia:OTRS system (not that it was ever intended for this purpose).--Pharos 18:12, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
I don't think that OTRS can handle verifying emails. The best thing is if the sender of the emails publishes the contents in a verifiable format. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 18:32, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
In scientific literature such a source can sometimes be used in special circumstances (although it is considered as an extremely weak source). If you use such a source the reference would be something like "John Smith (2007) Personal communication". If e-mails, or just a conversation with someone, are ever to be allowed in Wiki, the "personal communication" identifier is in my opinion essential.
However I am personally against this format as it is not verifiable; and secondly allows untrusthworthy editors to introduce their chat with a pal as a source. Arnoutf 20:42, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

(Unindent) The issue in question was that a number of IP's were adding a new member to the band The Rumble Strips, but i reverted it because it was not added on the bands website or myspace page. I went as far as to email the band's manager, and he confirmed that the new addition was actually a member of the band. Their website has not confirmed this, so I wanted to use the actual email. --SteelersFan UK06 00:08, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

Um, so wouldn't they have just added to their myspace page, like, tomorrow? If we're ever gonna go to the trouble of verifying e-mails, it probably shouldn't be for "breaking news", but rather for things we aren't likely ever to get sources on, like the biographical details of some obscure 1920s Soviet academic, e-mailed by his son who's now a tax assessor in Illinois.--Pharos 00:53, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
There is a big difference between a recognized author using an email as a source for the author's writing, and a Wikipedia editor using an email for a Wikipedia article. The recognized author and the publisher can, to some degree, be trusted to really have possession of the email, and to have taken reasonable steps to assure it really was written by the purported email author. A Wikipedia editor is someone or something that creates electrical signals that may or may not be signs of intelligent life on Earth. --Gerry Ashton 04:15, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
Yes, but in cases where it is verified that the e-mail belongs to this person, and if OTRS or some other system can verify e-mails (frankly I'm uncertain of the technical details, but I do know it is relied on for image permissions) and the information is valuable and cannot be attained in another manner, I think this might be a tool to consider.--Pharos 04:39, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:No original research. Wikipedia is supposed to be a tertiary source and not use primary sources to be the first to publish a fact or idea. 17Drew 05:36, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm not disagreeing on the content of emails being problematic, but I'd nitpick with that "definition". Wikipedia may be viewed as a tertiary source and currently by policy does not seek to be the publisher of original ideas, but I think that it is a different thing to saying that is what it is supposed to be. What it seeks to be is a free encyclopedia. Other policies at the moment seek to define how it is developed with a view to a means of quality control. Whether the membership of the Rumblestrips is really encyclopedic is another debate, but there is an argument that if they are considered worthy enough to have a page, then there should be no issue with the information being as accurate as possible with reasonable evidence. Is it verifiable? Arguably, the emailer has used a reasonable process: there is unverified information, they have gone to a reputable source and got confirmation. If someone is concerned they can always email again. For this type of article, perhaps we should not be too precious. After all, there are no good scientific or historical papers ever going to be published. Spenny 15:47, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
Reply to Spenny: "Arguably, the emailer has used a reasonable process." Emailer is ambiguous, I don't know if you meant the Wikipedia editor who asked a question or the question-answerer who replied. It doesn't matter; the entire exchange was reported by a Wikipedia editor, and all Wikipedia editors are unreliable.
"If someone is concerned they can always email again." No! It would usually be inappropriate for the Wikipedia editor to provide the e-mail address of the person who provided confirmation, e-mail addresses are subject to frequent changes, and it is unreasonable to expect an individual to reply to queries from Wikipedia readers forever. One problem with such an expectation is the person who provided confirmation will eventually die, and then will be unable to answer e-mails. --Gerry Ashton 19:33, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
Another issue is privacy violation. It is not always allowed to publish personal data that you have received in confidence (such as an e-mail) address without explicit agreement of the sender. I for one would object to have my e-mail address being published on wiki as that would make me very vulnerable to spam. Such privace issues would limit the use of such e-mail source very much (and there are other objections - see my other arguments). Arnoutf 20:02, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

(unindented) I am adamantly against allowing e-mails as sources. That would allow inclusion of opinions that in themselves have no value. We have to acknowledge that there are editors with a hidden agenda and a lack of scientific rigour; hence we should not allow such a subjective loophole in our sourcing guidelines. (Consider one flat earth supporter mailing another flat earth supporter that the world is actually a disc rather than a sphere. The first flat earth supporter suddenly has a source to include in article about the world--- No please, a source should be better than that).Arnoutf 17:53, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

There might conceivably be situations when an e-mail would be acceptable as a source, but I can't think of an example offhand. I would not be inclined to revise the policy to include e-mail, as it is likely to invite citations that are mostly unreliable. If the band Rumblestrips is notable enough to belong in an encyclopedia, there should be citable published sources listing its membership. The lack of such a source strongly indicates that Rumblestrips simply doesn't belong in Wikipedia to begin with. When a fact so fundamental as the band's membership can only be ascertained by e-mailing the band, what does that tell you? Marc Shepherd 18:32, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
I think at some point we have to come to terms with the schizophrenic nature of Wiki. There is the academic encyclopaedia, then there is the encyclopaedic repository of other stuff. I think most of the discontent over policy is the stuff bit. The trouble is that you can throw away the "stuff", but then does Wiki lose the magic know-all reputation that might just be the critical mass that makes it the thing it is? The "other stuff" is well suited to the original "many eyeballs" approach of validation and not well-suited to the reliable sources. The point about Rumblestrips notability is well made on the one hand, but I am sympathetic to the lower bar of inclusion that if a group of people are notable enough to have a fan base, then what is the harm? On the basis of little harm, then the policy we are interested in is NPOV, not verifiability.
Fundamentally, why be so up tight about policy on the fluffy end of Wiki? (Just a thought!) Spenny 21:05, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
I have nothing against the fluffy end. However I am against introducing dubious sources in any type of article. I would rather see a 'fluffy' article that lacks sources, than one disguised as a 'stuff' article through addition of many weak sources. Arnoutf 16:51, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
I think that is a good take on the issue - the drive for citation producing a false sense of accuracy. A well edited uncited article is a better bet than one with dubious references. We see it in more solid articles too, and I think it is one of the reasons why Wikipedia would benefit from a "quality" vs. "interesting, but at your own risk". Probably more for the village pump, but I think the drive for verification through citation rather than oversight has lost the scope. The community at large seems to want the know-all Wikipedia, and is happy with the health warning. People are often only looking to more dubious sources of verification as they wish to defend truth over verification on essentially unimportant matters, it seems to me. Spenny 19:39, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
I have echoed this point that a well edited uncited article is a better bet than one with dubious references to WT:V and WT:RS, suggesting that this point be made explicitly on the assiciated project pages. -- Boracay Bill 23:10, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
There exists another name for the "verification through oversight" that you propose: Wikiality. Regards, High on a tree 02:14, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
"I am adamantly against allowing e-mails as sources" - well, there are things like the DML which (despite the problem of a claim in a mail being refuted as the thread progesses) are certainly much more reliable than the usual newsfeed. Reliability of sources should be the issue, and the DML is the place where people like Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. go to discuss issues nearly, but not quite, fit for publication, and - more importantly - to nitpick the stuff that slipped through peer review. If one of the DML bigwigs picks apart a paper and the others agree, it's safe to say that this publication - no matter it being peer-reviewed, published in a scientific journal and whatnot - is not good to cite without comment.
However, I am ~100% against pers. comm. A source on WP needs to be as reliable and verifiable as possible, as far as I'm concerned. "Personal communication" may be reliable, but it's hardly ever verifiable. Basically, to me it's "can the author(s) be taken seriously?" and "can even average Joes/Janes, with the information I will provide, follow up on the source and check the facts themselves?". If the answer is "yes" on both counts, source is cool, if not, search for another one. Dysmorodrepanis 00:59, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
One has to wonder how one could reasonably avoid citing email in articles discussing the effect of those emails.LeadSongDog (talk) 15:15, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
Do you have an example?. Anyway, I think discussing the effect of an e-mail would require secondary sources; otherwise the editor is interpreting the effects; which is original researchArnoutf (talk) 19:09, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Video as source

To Whom It May Concern:

For the Wikipedia page on Alan Nathan, you have the words "citation needed" at the end of the third line as per the following:

"Nathan's style is noted for its speed, skilled debate, and rigorous logic.[citation needed]"

Below is the "citation" from a leading authority in the broadcast field. I hope the audio/video url referenced will suffice.

“One of the most unusual talk shows in the business because he is a radical moderate. It terrified me the first time I was on because within 30 seconds I realized I was playing in a very difficult sport. It’s a brilliant show and he is a brilliant moderator.” -- MICHAEL HARRISON, Editor & Publisher, Talkers Magazine - STATED DURING INTRODUCTIONS AT THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION/TALKERS MAGAZINE PANEL DISCUSSION, September 27, 2002

Here's the audio/video url: —Preceding unsigned comment added by Thecentrist (talkcontribs) 16:51, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

The line from your source states he is a brilliant moderator; so you can put that in; but it does not quantify this brilliance as "its speed, skilled debate, and rigorous logic." so you would still need a reference for these claims. Arnoutf 17:01, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

See also

Would someone please throw Wikipedia:Template_messages/Cleanup#Verifiability_and_sources into the See also section? I've mistakenly come here looking for cleanup templates at least three times - wouldn't hurt to at least link to the list. MrZaiustalk 10:18, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Harvard referencing + footnotes

  1. Harvard referencing is extremely useful because of it's functionality: it is a very nice touch to be able to click on (Crevier 1993) have that take you to the list of references. It should not be deprecated, because this functionality would be lost.
  2. Footnotes take up less space and just plain look better. They also make it easy to see a glance whether the article has sources.

So, my solution has been to use both. See History of artificial intelligence.

I tried to build a "harvard footnote" template that looks like this {{hf|Crevier|1993|p=234}} but works like this <ref>{{Harvnb|Crevier|1993|p=234}}</ref> but I couldn't get it to work: it comes out with "CITEREF" in the footnote. Any suggestions? ---- CharlesGillingham 23:29, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

After glancing through the discussion above, I've noticed that others have mentioned that Taboo uses the same system I did. ---- CharlesGillingham 23:36, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

It's not documented, but the Ref parameter of {{harvnb}} and the ref parameter of {{Citation}} (note the uppercase vs. lowercase difference) can be used to suppress the CITEREF, e.g.
which hook respectively to:
  • Dawkins (1986),   Missing or empty |title= (help) using #whatever
  • Dawkins (1986),   Missing or empty |title= (help) using #CITEREFDawkins1986 -- Boracay Bill 02:33, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Can someone help me with citations?

Hello, I'm new to Wikipedia and wanted to start with just a couple of pages for now because I'm really busy lately.

I made a page on Moshpit Tragedy Records. There are links to two real sources which mention Moshpit Tragedy on the page. I don't know how to do the citations so I was wondering if someone had time just to do a couple.

There is a whole list of news about the label from this reliable music news webpage here:

The first link is about one of Moshpit Tragedy's bands filming a profession video. The next is about one of their bands from Finland having new lvie footage available. The next talks about one of their new releases, etc etc...

please just check it out, maybe give it a quick citation if you know how, I just don't have time to figure it out. Thanks! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:14, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

Referencing is a lot of hard work. You are probably the person best suited to provide the references yourself, and anyone, I think there are only a few editors happy doing the hard work for articles they are not personally involved in.If you do have time to create articles but not to provide references I would advice to create fewer articles; or help editing on article with many involved editors. In any case my advice would be to learn the editing style.
Basically what you do with referencing is supporting statement put as fact that maybe controversial. For example if you state in an article: "European people do not trust their national governments" this is a controversial fact. Such a fact needs support. If you now have found a study from a good source (e.g. a scientific journal) stating somewhere "The evidence in this paper shows clearly that there is not trust in the national governments by the citizens of Europe" you have your source. (Note that if your statement is as highly controversial as this one there will be discussion about the reliability of the source and pamphlets that maybe acceptable for less controversial claims will be thrown out).
For every fact that you bring anew into an article you must be able and willing to give a source the more so, the more a fact is more likely to be challenged.
Section 3 of this article explains in some detail how to do the referencing. The creator of an article is free to choose from the three styles (the inline style seems the most common at the moment).
I hope this helps you. Arnoutf 08:06, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
I've written some advice, and helped with the article a little. See Talk:Moshpit Tragedy Records ---- CharlesGillingham 14:09, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
I have added a bit of info on categories and projects. Dysmorodrepanis 15:37, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

Question of placement

This is a situation that I've seen in a handful places, with variations, so I'll use a generic example for my question. In an article that uses inline citations, suppose there's a section where two sources have been used for the entire contnent. How, mechanically, should these be cited? -- that is, where should the <ref>s go? For added confusion, suppose the section is a table, where if you put them in only one cell, it looks like only that cell's being referenced, but putting them in all cells is obviously Right Out.

Any pointers to examples/best practices appreciated. —Quasirandom 16:23, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

This is from my knowledge of scientific writing (at least how apply it when writing for peer reviewed scientific journals and I have not yet been corrected for this way)
In general whenever a new fact is entered into a discussion the reference has to be given. Follow up arguments do not necessarily need repitition. For example
Bla bla bla (REF A), bla bla bla bla. Bla bla. Hear hear (REF A).
Bla is a follow up on the earlier referenced argument and thus needs no new reference if it is from the same source; if it is from another source, a ref can and preferably is given though. Hear is a new argument and thus needs new reference even if it is the same source.
For the table the answer is fairly straigthforward. If you get the whole table from a source add the reference to the table header (or similar). You see this regularly in scientific journals more or less like "Table X. Bigfoot appearance (adapted from Smith, 2001)"
If the table is self compiled from different sources, each cell requires a reference. Or if you combine full columns or rows, you can add the ref to the column or row header. Hope this helps? Arnoutf 16:34, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
Somewhat. Most of these tables don't have much in the way of headers, but possibly it could be worked into the introductory sentence(s). —Quasirandom 14:56, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

References vs Further reading

We need to make clear that if the sources are listed under "References" that nothing else, such as further reading, may. Hyacinth 20:22, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

A tiny part of an authoritative work might be used as a reference, but that should not eliminate the entire work from possibly being a "Further reading" item. (SEWilco 20:28, 8 September 2007 (UTC))
I note that subject matter on this project page relating to References, Further reading, and other endmatter sections overlaps and sometimes conflicts with similar subject matter on the WP:GTL project page. -- Boracay Bill 21:53, 8 September 2007 (UTC)


Those [citation needed] things are very annoying. When reading a page, it's very distracting and makes me, of short attention span, very annoyed. See Once Upon a Time in America for an example. Couldn't you make some sort of script (If you haven't already, which would be great) that makes these go away, just for reading purposes? They're not exactly less annoying when they've been cited either, with this little number right next to some text. How is this justifiable, even if a statement needs a citation? --Kaizer13 22:06, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

Simple. If a statement has a [citation needed] added to it, you can be sure it is contested (by the editor adding the tag), and no evidence to solve the doubts has been offered. This is a very important signal to all, both short attention span and critical readersnot to believe the line without very very serious second thoughts.
The other way around, the numbers show that there is support for a claim. The reader with short attention span knows the statement can be trusted, even if it seems counterintuitive. The critical leader can check whether the counterintuitive claim is indeed as fully supported as the number suggests by looking up the reference.
The referencing may reduce legibility just a little bit but that has to be taken for granted. Nevertheless, both types or citation are essential to all readers who seriously hope to get any valuable information from Wikipedia. Arnoutf 23:17, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
I understand why they're there, and why Wikipedia seems to trust absolutely nothing but "verified sources". Without citations, you say it's not "valuable information"? I'm just asking if it's possible to turn them off and actually read the text without a lot of retarded small numbers disrupting the flow of the text. --Kaizer13 01:55, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Try this:
  1. Use the Firefox browser
  2. Download and install the Web Developer Extension from
  3. Create a local stylesheet named nosup.css, containing one line: sup { display:none; }
  4. In the Web Developer Extension toolbar click CSS->Add user style sheet and add the nosup.css style sheet
  5. If/when you want to display superscripts again, click ✔CSS->Add user style sheet to turn the checkmark off
-- Boracay Bill 08:14, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
A good deal of the disruptive effect is caused by the primitive way most web browsers handle superscript numbers--as colored markers that disturb the line spacing. Properly composed text--even microsoft word quality text--renders better, even on screen, by using relatively fixed spacing and smaller numbers. If we had a convenient way of rendering the pages as pdf format,the visual effect would be much better. DGG (talk) 05:16, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Alright, thanks a lot! --Kaizer13 15:39, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Kaizer is bang on. We need a "hide tags" button. There are many potential advantages, not just ease of reading.qp10qp 00:51, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
I agree Is this a feature request for Wikimedia? ---- CharlesGillingham 05:40, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

In a well-written article, inline citations are not really that distracting. They can be distracting if a less-skilled editor throws in stacks upon stacks of superfluous cites, and unfortunately that does happen sometimes.

I do agree that {{citation needed}} is distracting. It is meant to be. Marc Shepherd 15:06, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Citing page numbers

So, I just found out about the <ref name=""> method of citing multiple times from the same source, but I can't figure out how to add page numbers into these, and I would really keep those annoying tags off the top of articles that complain about page numbers being missing from cites. Help? Murderbike 00:13, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

You can't really add varied page numbers; that's the disadvantage. Whatever reference you write out will come up for every repeat tag. What you can do, obviously, is make multiple refs for a particular page or page range. In that case, you simply write out the page number or page range between the arrows in the master ref. This is useful if, as often happens, one needs to make several references to a small page range. Here's a very simple example: Bruno Liljefors. The whole article is reffed to nine pages of one book. I don't think I'm in the majority in this, but I like to repeat all the reference information for each multiple tag. My reasons are that it prevents a mess up if someone cuts the master ref, and that it makes it clear on the edit page what the reference contains, which the truncated refs don't. qp10qp 00:36, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
there ar workarounds--I give the general ref , and then simply put the page number after it , generally in parenthesies, or as a subscript. I think its worth the doing. Most of the time, the individual exact pages are not actually necessary unless it is extraordinarily controversial, and I say something like (pp. 9 – 14).DGG (talk) 03:59, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
There are several ways to add page numbers. One can be seen in the working draft mentioned in the Request for feedback section following this one. Another way which is used in some articles is something like "<ref name=whatever>The citation text</ref>{{Sup|p.123}}" and, elsewhere, "<Ref name=whatever/>{{Sup|p.147}}". Another way sometimes used is e.g. Template:Ref harv and, elsewhere Template:Ref harv and in a bibliography section an entry something like:
There are probably other ways as well. -- Boracay Bill 04:21, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
Have you looked at {{Harv|.. }} and {{Citation| ... }} templates? This handle a lot of page numbered citations to a single reference work very nicely. See History of artificial intelligence or Taboo. ---- CharlesGillingham 05:51, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
Yes. See the Request for feedback section following this one.. -- Boracay Bill 12:11, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Request for feedback

This guideline says that it is a style guide, describing how to write citations in articles.

Noticing that the Eating disorder article has a {{Citation style}} tag, I've tried to clean it up. In the cleanup process, I've done some nontraditional things which I think have improved the citation style of the article. I would appreciate feedback on whether the improvements I think I've made in the citation style of the article justify working ourside the box in ways which will no doubt confuse some future editors of the article. My current working draft with my changes is here (compare with the unmodified article here. A good side-by-side comparison can be seen by placing the References section headers at the top of the browser windows.

Nontraditional things done to this article: I've used the <span style="display:none"> trick discussed here to group all the <Ref> declarations together in a hidden span, then moved that hidden span to the top of the article. Doing that allows the display order of the expanded Reference section items to be controlled. I then reordered the items into a sensible order. One irritating artifact of this is that all the References section items now have at least two backlinks, and backlink "a" is uniformly nonfunctional. (related material this -- Boracay Bill 03:36, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

In the first place, let me say that you've improved the appearance of the article considerably. It's a massive improvement. The only criticism is that there are several instances of "stacked" footnotes, such as:[3][6]. That kind of layout is distracting. It should always be possible to structure the cites differently, so that this won't be required.
Regarding "stacked footnotes", I left the referencing as it was in the original article mdash; I was only trying to address citation style. Regarding the specific example you mention, my rework changed "... and decreases eating [6]; [7]." to "... and decreases eating.[3][6]" -- Boracay Bill 23:45, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm not fond of the hidden span trick, as I think it will confuse novice editors, and as you observe, it makes the backlink "a" tags "uniformly nonfunctional." Marc Shepherd 15:17, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
Please do not use the hidden span trick, as it invalidates backlinks. I suggest cleaning up the footnotes by eliminating the amount of repeat info in footnotes. If you set out full information about repeat sources of footnotes (like books) in a References section, then the Footnotes section need only mention Author last name (year), p. x. See Alexithymia, but please do not use that span trick, which has been discussed at the talk page of WP:FN. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:49, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
An older version which had done only that amount of cleanup work can be seen here. I considered that an improvement, but was not happy with it. I think that the hidden span version with the citations re-ordered here is much improved style-wise. The hidden span trick and the nonfunctional backlink which it produces is being discussed elsewhere, and it's been suggested that eliminating the nonfunctional backlink might be a simple and low-risk change to cite-php. A WP:VPT discussion about that may be opened up sometime soon. -- Boracay Bill 23:45, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
I have started a thread at WP:VPT --Slashme 15:39, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

internal links in references

I'm not sure if this page or another is the best place. What are your opinions on Internal links use in "references" or notes?

In my experience, because references serve to demonstrate the authoritativeness of the content, only links which serve that purpose further should be included (in addition to respecting the general guideline against linking something too many times in an article, this is basically an adjusted form of WP:OVERLINK). This avoids the references section becoming confused and overcharged with internal links in addition to sometimes heavy use of external links.

As such, red links and links to publishing companies (or, god forbid, locations) should be avoided. Links to works and authors who have articles are fine as long as the link is not present in the text.

For a comparison, see before and after (with additional links removed from {{The Banksia Book}} and {{The genus Banksia L.f. (Proteaceae)}}). Or before and after.

Any thoughts? Circeus 19:09, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

We agreed that wikipages should not be used as reference in other wiki pages. So as source/reference it is a no-go.
Listing them in the references or sources section without inline references, could be considered not to be a breach of the above (although I think that is dubious at best). However, why should you add them there? In general related Wiki articles are listed in a "see also" section. Arnoutf 20:41, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
Just commenting that some wikilinking from inside citations is to some extent encouraged by impilication by the existence of the authorlink parameter of {{Cite book}}, {{Cite journal}}, {{Cite conference}}, {{Cite encyclopedia}}, {{Cite web}}, {{Cite mailing list}} and by the author-link parameter of {{Citation}}. -- Boracay Bill 00:00, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
I think you're missing my point. We're not talking about using am article to source another, we're talking about using another article to provide extra information about the source. Circeus 00:07, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
I do think that linking pulishers is overkill. Surely, though, links in notes follow the same rules as links in the body of the text. Notes are often more than references: they may provide supplementary material.qp10qp 00:19, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
Yes I agree. My comments are specifically about references (wholly inappropriate links in content notes are a whole'nother business, but they are rare.) Circeus 00:35, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
I think we are all agreed that publishers never should be linked--its internal linkspam. But here's an example. when I give a reference to something from Physical Review Letters, I sometimes have linked it for the benefit of those who might not know how important it is. Or when I give a references from Oxford Dictionary of National Biography similarly--but there will be several thousand of each, so I'm having second thoughts. But what if it were really a unusual source, and the link is needed to show the importance? One solution in that case its to mention the name in the text, not the reference. DGG (talk) 00:53, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

My feelings about wikilinks within the references:

  1. Notable authors should always be included, even if they're also linked in the text or in other references. Reasons: references are often copied and pasted between articles, and a wikilink that's present in the text of one article might not also be present in the other. The references are far enough from the text that it might not be easy to find the in-text wikilink for an author. And, the coloring of the author's name allows one to determine that a notable person was interested in the subject which may help establish the notability of the subject itself.
  2. Some author names should be redlinked. If one feels that an author is sufficiently notable for an article, but hasn't yet been written about here, redlinks are a convenient tool for collecting links to that person's work, and the list of redlinks helps establish the importance of the subject on lists such as User:Mathbot/Most wanted redlinks.
  3. Some journal names should be linked, but in general not redlinked. The main use I see for this is not the link itself, but the "what links here" page of the journal's article. But again, for the same copy-and-paste reason as authors, if it is linked, it should be linked consistently in the each reference using that journal rather than only the first one.

Basically, I don't see a sea of blue and red in the references as being a problem at all. One doesn't read references like text, so I'd rather err on the side of greater linkage and less readability. —David Eppstein 02:21, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

What does this mean?

Could someone interpret the following?

In the footnotes system, full citations may appear in a "References" section or may appear directly in the footnotes.

I'm not aware of any discretion when using footnotes; the text of the footnotes are inserted into the body of the article, but are visible to the reader in a section ("References", "Notes", whatever) at the bottom. Is there really some other option? And if not, would someone please change the wording? -- John Broughton (♫♫) 23:21, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

That is correct, but the best practice is to have notes in the "Footnotes" section using the <ref></ref> markup, and then list the full references using the {{cite book}}, {{cite journal}}, and {{cite web}} in a bulleted list in a section named "References." At least that is what GA and FA reviewers would want to see. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:25, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
In my opinion, guidelines about this (primarily this guideline and WP:GTL) are somewhat contradictory.
  • A separate guideline, WP:FOOT, which is mentioned in this guideline, explains that tags named <ref>, </ref> and <references/> exist, and that some number of separate items consisting of material placed between the first two of these tag will be expanded in a numbered list at the point in the article where the third tag is subsequently encountered. A list of items expanded by this mechanism is called "footnotes". This <references/> tag (which produces a list of "footnotes") is often placed in a section named ==References== but this tag can be placed anywhere in the article and, in practice, it is often found placed in a section named something other than ==References==. Articles where the section containing this <references> tag is not named ==References== often do contain a section which is named ==References==, and such a section usually contains a list of items which are not specifically referenced item-by-item from the body of the article. Some articles use the footnoting mechanism explained in WP:FOOT to construct n intermediate list which directs readers from points in the text to specific supporting references listed elsewhere (see e.g., Taboo).
  • This guideline recommends that sections named ==Notes==, ==Footnotes==, and/or ==References== be used for footnotes (i.e., the numbered list of items produced by the mechanism explained above and in WP:FOOT). It also says other sections, named ==External links==, ==Further reading==, and/or ==Bibliography== may be placed in an article to list books, articles, and links to websites.
  • This guideline says that all items used as sources in the article must be listed in the "References" or "Notes" section, and are usually not included in "Further reading be included in these other sections.
  • This guideline speaks of "A References section, which lists citations in alphabetical order, helps readers to see at a glance the quality of the references used." Such a section would probably not contain a list of footnotes produced by a <references/> tag.
  • The WP:GTL guideline provides guidance which differs somewhat from the guidance provided by this guideline. That guideline says that articles may contain certain optional "Standard appendices and descriptions" sections, commonly named ==See also==, ==Notes==, ==References== (or combined with ==Notes== into ==Notes and references==), ==Further reading== (or ==Bibliography==), and ==External links==. It further says that ==Notes== is only for footnotes (explanations or comments on any part of the main text). and that ==References== is only for referenced materials (books, websites etc. cited in the main text), otherwise ==Notes and references== should be combined.
Especially confusing in this guideline are the separate statements that
  • A footnote is a note placed at the bottom of a page of a document to comment on a part of the main text, or to provide a reference for it, or both. The connection between the relevant text and its footnote is indicated by a number or symbol which appears both after the relevant text and before the footnote.
  • If [ a separate "References" section in addition to "Notes" ] is included, the footnotes should be in a separate section entitled "Notes" or "Footnotes." Where an alphabetical list of references is provided, "short footnotes" may be used, where the footnotes contain only an author, perhaps title, and page number, without giving a full citation in the footnote itself.
Apparently the word"footnotes" is being used in the first case to to speak of the numbered list of items produced by the <references/> tag,and in the second case to speak of something else. (Who's on first base? [5][6]) -- Boracay Bill 01:36, 12 September 2007 (UTC)
What you're basically saying is that the sentence, rather cryptically, refers to the mixed Harvard/Chicago (footnote) approach found in articles like taboo, Charles Darwin, saffron, and Pericles. If so, it seems to me that it should be reworded to be much clearer. If no one disagrees, and no one does it first, I'll take a shot at it, then. (Regarding the contradiction between this guideline and WP:GFL, which I agree exists, I suggest opening a separate section/discussion.) -- John Broughton (♫♫) 12:18, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

<references /> versus {{reflist}}

On a vaguely related topic, should we really be telling people to use <references/>? My understanding is that {{reflist}} does the same thing with the addition of a small font (and the easy ability to add multiple columns) and is generally preferable. At least, mention both. —David Eppstein 05:27, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

Mentioning the reflist option is fine IF it's also mentioned that it should be used only when the list of references is reasonably long - at least 10 references (in my opinion) is a good rule of thumb. The problem with reflist is that the reduced font size of the text of the footnotes makes them (in my opinion) somewhat less readable. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 12:18, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

Problems with the embedded citations method

What if the "References" section is already in place and has citations from one of the other two acceptable citation systems?

Neither Wikipedia:Citing sources or Wikipedia:Embedded citations offers any guidance if there already is a "References" section that is being used for footnotes or for Harvard referencing. I can see three possibilities, none of which currently appear in any guideline, including, Wikipedia:Manual of Style:

  1. Embedded citations shouldn't be used, because we don't mix citation systems within a single article. (But according to the project page, we do.)
  2. The editor should change the header of the section titled "References" to something else (that would be "Notes" for footnotes; what would it be for Harvard referencing?), and should add a new "References" section, where the full citations required by the embedded citation system should be placed.
  3. The editor should leave the "References" section as is, and add a new section (titled what?) to place the full citations that are required by the embedded citations system.

As someone who thinks the embedded citations system is problematical (particularly because off-line citations are impossible with it), I'd appreciate the opinions of others.

(Note: originally asked at Wikipedia talk:Embedded citations and cross-posted here; since all comments have been here, I've now posted the full question here. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 20:08, 12 September 2007 (UTC) )

Comments would be appreciated. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 23:29, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

It has been agreed that the citation system for an article should be consistent. New citations should be given in the style already used, unless the changes to the article are so substantial that it justifies replacing all the citations in the article. ---- CharlesGillingham 00:36, 12 September 2007 (UTC)
Unfortunately, there is an absolute contradiction between such an agreement (don't mix systems) and the fact that the embedded citations system cannot handle offline sources. Someone who wants to add a citation to a source without a URL must either use a footnote or the Harvard referencing system. And, to be blunt, I think the best way to solve this contradiction is to scrap the embedded citations system. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 11:58, 12 September 2007 (UTC)
I think you have a point there. Internet sites can be linked in both other systems, but non internet sources cannot be cited with embedded links. This would be disastrous for the quality of reference. And even if you have the link to an online version of a scientific paper, this will probably have limited access so the complete reference needs to be provided anyway. Perhaps we can get rid of the embedded sources by having a transition period: existing articles using only embedded citations are allowed to continue doing so, until (and only until) an editor wants to add a source that cannot be inserted in the embedded system. At that time the editor inserting the link chooses the new editing style, remaining embedded links in the article are from then on converted to the new style. This is probably doable as articles using only embedded links are most likely stub or short start articles.Arnoutf 14:19, 12 September 2007 (UTC)
I think you vastly under-estimate the use of embedded links, but I would support deprecating this citation method, using the transition mechanism that you suggest. Marc Shepherd 17:04, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

I always thought embedded citations are simply the product of laziness to properly format a reference. Should be fully abandoned, at least any form of recommending it. For some forum-shopping: As suggested below, I'd even go so far as to have {{fact}} used with <ref> to use it rather as a placeholder than an disruptive inline-tag. — [ aldebaer⁠] 17:23, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

I wouldn't go that far. This was offered as a legitimate referencing technique, and it is only comparatively recently, as Wikipedia has matured, that people have begun to look down on it. Marc Shepherd 17:43, 12 September 2007 (UTC)
In-line citations are often how new editors learn to add references. It's not pretty or perfect, but I'd rather see an in-line reference than none. Articles should probably be converted to footnote format (or Harvard) from in-line, but that would take time. -- Flyguy649 talk contribs 20:31, 12 September 2007 (UTC)
One idea, that far exceeds the scope of this page, would be automatic edit warnings displayed to IPs/new users when an edit adds one or more http links. That way, they would get a chance to learn about proper referencing early on. — [ aldebaer⁠] 20:41, 12 September 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Flyguy649. We should however have some idea how we tackle the conversion issue, as the guidelines now state the first editor sets the style, this is obvious no longer true for embedded link articles which will be converted.
At AldeBaer, I am afraid such an automated warning system may scare off digibetic editors who still may provide much needed input. If we develop something it should be very very friendly and very very user friendly in its advice. Arnoutf 17:41, 13 September 2007 (UTC)


I want to add a section on the page, telling people to not use "ibid". As soon as a new citation is intercalated, the "ibid" will no longer be properly cited. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) 04:37, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

"Ibid" would be used (mistakenly) only with the footnoting or the Harvard referencing system. I strongly reommend that you review the detail pages regarding those two systems, and, if necessary, change one or both of those. Let's not make the Citing sources page the place where every single bit of information about citing sources is collected; this really should be more of a summary page that points editors to other pages with more details, should they so desire. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 12:02, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

Usage of {{fact}}

I also posted this on Template talk:Fact, but that talk page is far less active.

I wonder if anything speaks against using the template included in <ref>{{fact}}</ref> tags. It seems to me that it would still work to draw attention to a need for a citation, but would simultaneously work as a reference placeholder which needs to be filled. I got the idea because I believe that References sections are still widely underappreciated as individual and very important sections. There are still far too many articles with unformatted in-line external links, many ref sections are a gigantic mess. — [ aldebaer⁠] 16:02, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

I can see a few potential issues with this. The first is that {{fact}} tags are meant to be obtrusive. They draw other editors' attention, in the hope that the statement will be promptly sourced, corrected, or removed. A fact tag buried in a footnote is nowhere near as obvious. {{fact}} tags also serve as a warning to the reader that the statement might not be reliable.
Lastly, in my experience, the outcome of a lot of {{fact}} tags is that the whole statement ends up getting removed, because no citation can be found in a reasonable amount of time. Marc Shepherd 17:47, 12 September 2007 (UTC)
Ok. I know the tag should stick out, but as with many tags, the overuse poses a bit of a problem on some articles, so I thought a compromise along the lines of my idea could improve that.
I see your general point, and agree. However, using some kind of extended template syntax in conjunction with <ref> would also afford the possibility of having a visible date for each tag (in the ref section), for the precise purpose of evaluating that reasonable amount of time. Something like "Citation needed. Tagged as unreferenced since 2007-09-12." — [ aldebaer⁠] 18:08, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

I personally think that the [citation needed] tag should be done away with. If an editor comes across a statement that is unsourced, and that they they believe should be, they should either: a) have the guts to delete the statement on the spot b) do some research and find a source for the statement even if they didn't put it there (this is often possible) c) leave it alone. I consider the placement of a [citation needed] tag after an unsourced statement to be less desirable than any of these other options, because the tags chop up articles, and my experience is that they become "permanent" features of articles (as in no one ever provides a source, and yet the unsourced statement is never removed). Librarylefty 08:37, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

The {{fact}} tag serves important purposes. The community has determined that we have an obligation to provide reliable information in Wikipedia, and that the best way of demonstrating reliability is attributing all information to reliable published sources. Unattributed information in WP detracts from the credibility of WP. Placing the {{fact}} tag on unattributed statements editors of the need to cite reliable sources andalerts readers that the materila may not be reliable. An alternative would be to simply remove all unattributed material, but this can create hard feelings, especially with contributors who have acted in good faith, but are not familiar enough with our policies. If I know enough about a subject to recognize unattributed unreliable information, I will remove it immediately. If I have doubts about the information, or simply don't know enough to judge the reliability of the information, I add the {{fact}} tag. I find that sources are often cited for the material within a couple of days. I also periodically work through my watch list, and remove material that has been tagged for a couple of weeks or more with no citations added. The {{fact}} tag is very useful tool for improving the quality of WP, and I wish more editors would use for frequently. -- Donald Albury 17:01, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

Inline citations in lead

I think I read somewhere that a fact in the lead of an article that otherwise should have an inline citation does not need one if the same fact is repeated later in the article in a more detailed section, and has an inline citation there. Am I right, and if so, where did I read it? --Gerry Ashton 20:22, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

I haven't seen it, but it seems a reasonable idea. On the other hand most lead sections (being summaries) will not contain controversial statements so no refs needed anyway. Arnoutf 20:33, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
This was the subject of a (In my opinion lame, because both opinion were square within the limits of current policy at the time) edit war that left 2 Project pages fully protected for weeks. It's probably not going to get added again, it's usually settled ona case-by-case and statement-by-statement basis anyway.Circeus 21:19, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
IMO, any guideline on this should be in WP:LEAD and not here. It would probably be a good idea, though, for this guideline on (I do keep repeating this bit from this article's own lead section) how to write citations in articles to point to WP:LEAD#Citations_in_the_lead_section. IMO discussion about whether or not and/or in what circumstances the lead section should contain citations should take place in WT:LEAD#Citations_in_the_Lead, not here. -- Boracay Bill 23:15, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
I think it's clear that the insertion of such citations is totally unnecessary if the matter is cited later in the article. It is only necessary to cite everything once per article. The lede is just an abstract. I think most requests for such citations are the result of edit wars carried too far, and should be promptly halted, as being unproductive.. DGG (talk) 02:18, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Even in abstract of scientific journals is occasionally notice a reference. So it is not this clear cut. In general I would say it is not needed, but situations may ask for exeptions. Sadly not all introductions are abstracts, there is often unrepeated information in them but that is indeed a discussion for WP:LEADArnoutf 07:16, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Citations are very important in the lead because they get changed more often than any other part of an article. When someone reads something they don't like in the lead of an article, they sometimes "add their two cents", so many leads get continually whacked by people trying to push their own pet theory of a subject (see History of science for an example of a lead that is reworded twice a week). One purpose of citations is to stop this kind of low-level, ongoing edit war. It's hard to rewrite a sentence that is properly verified and it gives editors an objective way to judge new changes. ---- CharlesGillingham 08:23, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
Wouldn't a better way to enforce this than requiring citations be to follow WP:LEAD and remove additions to the lead that aren't backed up by more detail in the main article? We don't need a citation requirement for this purpose. —David Eppstein 15:06, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

Referencing video?

How does one reference something said on a television show? Specifically if a transcript is unavailable but the video is online? -- SatyrTN (talk | contribs) 14:11, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

You can cite it just like any other website, probably with a notation that it is a video, so that people with slow connections won't waste their time trying to view it. Of course, don't cite any websites that appear to be violating copyright laws. --Gerry Ashton 14:59, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Tks :) -- SatyrTN (talk | contribs) 13:43, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

Do the Harvard citation templates allow pages that link to a single ref at the bottom

I've been working on refs for Manga, with multiple citations from a single book. I like the little numbers that appear when using <ref></ref> in combo with what the "cite book" template produces at the bottom. It doesn't allow for individual pages to mentioned, though. I'm not a fan of having a section that lists all the books, and then having the little numbers go to something like "smith p.38' though. Do the harvard templates allow one to put the number in the body of the article with a link that goes down to something that looks like what "cite book" produces at the bottom inside the ref tags? - Peregrine Fisher 00:08, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Yes. See the Scat singing article for examples of how to do it. –panda (talk) 18:39, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Very cool. Thanks. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) 22:45, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

This guideline should address copyright issues

I occasionally see this situation in articles — (example) the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance article currently cites as a supporting source, which is a personal web page containing a verbatim copy of what appears to be a copyrighted work (see this).

My understanding is that it is considered bad form in wikipedia to cite a source which appears to be violating copyright. However, I see no guidance about this in this guideline. I believe that this guideline should provide guidance on this. (or am I missing something here?) -- Boracay Bill 00:50, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

Interesting issue. In principle I agree with you...... But.... This would require from every editor to check his/her sources on Copyvio's; and people may not always be able to do so.
If such an addition would be made I would limit it at something like "Do not knowingly cite sources that violate copyright"; leaving the loophole of honest ignorance. Arnoutf 20:01, 20 September 2007 (UTC)
There should probably be guidance on what action is appropriate upon encountering such a source (tag it with a (to-be-created) template? Remove the citation and treat the assertion it supports as unsupported?). -- Boracay Bill 23:30, 20 September 2007 (UTC)
In many cases, it is quite apparent that a copyright violation very likely exists to anyone who understands the rudiments of copyright law. Of course there will always be unclear cases, just as there are many other ways in which it can be unclear whether a source is suitable for Wikipedia or not. I don't think we expect editors to investigate, but rather, judge the website by what is immediately visible on the website. --Gerry Ashton 23:56, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

I'll try this more directly. I propose that a new section be added to this project page, as follows:

Supporting sources which should not be used
  • Sources containing apparent copyright violations
  • [... more items ...]

I further propose that a new subsection be added under Dealing with citation problems, as follows:

Sources containing apparent copyright violations
If a cited source is found to contain an apparent copyright violation, any editor may remove the citation without notice. Such removal should be mentioned in the edit summary, and may be further explained on the article's talk page.

Please comment if you disagree. -- Boracay Bill 06:28, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

This is already covered by policy (see WP:COPY#Linking to copyrighted works) so I don't know if an addition to the guideline is necessary. But if something is to be included I don't think that the above is ideal.
Sources are important to us and our guidelines should encourage appropriate replacement not simple deletion. For instance, in the example that started this, the link is not actually an appropriate source, the real source should be the newspaper - not a link to a webpage. Any link to a website with a copyright violation does need to go, but the reference itself should not necessarily. In the case above the link should be replaced with the correct citation (with or without a non-copyvio link), not simply deleted.
In cases where what we are linking to is a page that contains a copyright violation but what we are citing is not the copy violation material itself, the link to the page containing the copyright violation should be deleted, but not the whole reference (which in most cases ought to be able to contain appropriate detail without it directing the reader to the copyright violation material).
Also, our policy is to not knowingly link, I think the use of the word apparent takes things further than the policy does and I don't think that's a good idea. In particular one of the stated reasons for the prohibition on linking to copyvio material is that the linker also violates the law if they knowingly link - so I think it's important to use that wording rather than apparent. If this is going to be added I propose wording along the lines of:
  • Links to webpages containing copyright violations
Supporting sources should not knowingly link to websites containing copyright violations. Where the only online version of a source is a copyright violation the source must be referenced without a link. Where the contents of a source link is found to be a copyright violation editors should replace the link with a non-copyviolation link, or failing that with the appropriate citation details without a link to the material.
-- SiobhanHansa 09:55, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
I confess to having missed that policy snippet, but I question reliance on a wikipedia editor's ability to judge whether a source which apparently (in a WP editor's opinion) knowingly links in copyvio. In the example which I have provided above I think the copyright violation is pretty clear, but the question of whether the copyright violation was knowingly committed is a matter of opinion on the part of an individual WP editor. I think that I should take this question to WT:C. Regardless, though, I think that this style guideline page should address this issue. -- Boracay Bill 12:48, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
(furthermore) I see that Wikipedia:Copyrights says: "Knowingly and intentionally directing others to a site that violates copyright has been considered a form of contributory infringement in the United States (Intellectual Reserve v. Utah Lighthouse Ministry). Linking to a page that illegally distributes someone else's work sheds a bad light on Wikipedia and its editors." In light of that, and feeling that Policy should be amplified, reinforced, stated less concisely, and explained to some extent by Guidelines I renew my proposal stated above. (I'm not really committed to defending this proposal in its current form, but I do believe that this guideline should address this point). -- Boracay Bill 13:03, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
I've always thought of the policy as being an ongoing responsibility for every editor - that is, it doesn't matter if the original editor knew it was a copyvio or not, if you know you should remove it. with the Apparent/knowing issue my intention is not to let copyvio links stay because the original author didn't realize it was a copyvio, it's to stop the guideline expanding the policy from covering things that people know are copyvios to covering things that are apparent copyvio - Because I think the wording "apparent" will be applied more expansively than "knowing". WP:C may be a better place to hash this out. If there is more to be said (and the fact that we need to discuss it indicates there may be), then I think expanding in the guideline can be good. If there's little really expand on it may be that we should just point to the policy with a links are good but WP:COPY still applies type of comment. -- SiobhanHansa 13:20, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

Chicago Manual of Style

At one point this page listed that Chicago formating is an appropriate method to use when sourcing articles. As my off-line life involves much research in the liberal arts fields (ie. history, anthropology, sociology dealing with food) I use Chicago format for my citations as it is the most popular method. I have been using that method for all of the articles I work on. I recently had someone come in and start converting them to this inline citation which I find incredibly annoying when trying to edit with this large amount of excess text in the middle of a paragraph. So my long winded question is that I would like to know if Chicago formating is now frowned upon and is the inline citation method being promoted? In my opinion it should be the discression of the author, but if there is a policy I would like to discuss it as it doesn't seem "concrete."--Chef Christopher Allen Tanner, CCC 18:01, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

What exactly do you mean by "Chicago formatting"? Kirill 18:36, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
Chicago Manual of Style is style of citation like Harvard, MLA, APA, etc.--Chef Christopher Allen Tanner, CCC 18:53, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I'm familiar with the CMoS, but I'm not sure (a) which of the styles detailed in it you prefer and (b) how the contents of this page would interfere with that. Certainly, both short-form-note (as here or here) and long-form-note styles (can't think of an example at the moment) remain popular, and are easily implemented. Kirill 19:27, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

I don't think this page interferes with it at all actually, another user just became very pushy using the inline citations and I just wanted to make sure I was correct in my analysis of citation policy. --Chef Christopher Allen Tanner, CCC 19:39, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

Why link access dates?

In the examples of best footnote practices, this guideline links the access dates for a website. Why? Access dates have nothing to do with the content of the article and linking the dates serves no useful purpose. (It does, however, clog up Special:What links here.)--ragesoss 14:05, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

For user date preferences to kick in. -- Jeandré, 2007-09-23t15:26z —Preceding signed but undated comment was added at 15:26, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
Access dates have a lot to do with the content of the source (and hence the article). Simply put, a printed source stays the same, a website not necessarily. A website may disappear, the story maybe withdrawn, or dramatically altered. Giving the access date does not overcome this but at least makes clear when (ie what version of) the website was used. This has by now become standard in using website when cited in scientific publication for this reason. Arnoutf 15:40, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm not talking about giving the access dates (of course that should be done), but linking them. It doesn't seem worth the added link clutter, just for the user preferences that so few people use.--ragesoss 16:30, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
sorry I misunderstood. Do you mean in the "when a link goes dead" section; the rationale is explained there I think? Otherwise I cannot find it. Arnoutf 16:48, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
There is no explicit explanation on this page; the example occurs in the the Footnotes section, and begins "Plunkett, John". Implicitly, the reason is that given by Jeandré above: when a pair of dates are linked (September 23, 2007), then they can automagically be reformatted (e.g., to read "23 September, 2007" or "2007-9-23") if users have date preferences set. This makes sense for dates within the text of articles, which mark something significant connected to that date, so that readers might want to see the associated date articles (and for the few who set their preferences, to see the date in a preferred format). It also makes Special:Whatlinkshere somewhat useful, by providing a list articles that have something to do with a particular date. But linking access dates creates a flood of irrelevant links; I can think of no circumstances where a reader would want to know more about the date of access.--ragesoss 17:02, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
Ah I get it now, seems over the top to me as well to link access dates; muddling up the text and giving little to no benefit. Arnoutf 14:24, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

registration required

I need to cite a website where registration is required to read the information. This is the only place the information is avaliable. Is it necessary to inform that the site requires registration? I'm asking because my personal preference is to be made aware if I need to register, 'cos then I don't click the link. So using the {{citeweb}} template, how would I include that note? -- Matthew Edwards | talk | Contribs 02:42, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

If you're using the citeweb template you're presumably using ref tags so you could put it after the cite web template e.g.: <ref>{{citeweb}}<small> Registration required.</small></ref>
Which should end up looking like:
1. Your reference with all your details as laid out by the template. Registration required.
-- SiobhanHansa 01:43, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Where does the refs section go on the page?

Should the references section go before or after the "external links" section?

And should it go before or after the "See also" section?

Or is there any guideline on this at all? Everything I see just says that each should go "near the end of the article". --Gronky 13:33, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

I think you need to move further away from the article as you go down. So, in my opinion, an ideal order would be: See also/Notes/References (bibliography)/further reading/external links (though you don't always need all of those).qp10qp 18:51, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
Ah, so there's no policy? Ok, thanks. FWIW, my personal preference is to put the refs at the very end because they can be quite long unreadable, so readers will probably think the article is over when they get to the refs "small print" and that might make the External links section be missed. --Gronky 18:58, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
Qp10qp's ordering sounds like the right one to me. I've always seen further reading and external links after the references, when they exist. If the references are too long, make them two-column and smaller. —David Eppstein 19:01, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
Articles are structured to be read sequentially. The External links section is part of the article in that it too should be read as part of the sequence, albeit last. The refs section, on the other hand, is only meant to be read in the special case where a reader wants to check the accuracy of a claim in the article. Readers shouldn't have the read the refs in order to learn about the topic of the article. Refs're thus not part of the article and they should go at the very bottom with the other small print (copyright info etc.) that is visible for anyone who's looking for it but is out of the way of those who want to read the article. The 2-column small font just (rightly) increases the not-for-reading appearance of a refs section. --Gronky 19:54, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Guide to layout#Standard appendices and descriptions. 17Drew 19:55, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

Disagreement between two editors over a matter of accessibility

I've just created a subpage of my user space at User:OwenBlacker/Usability. User:Everyking and I have a disagreement over matters of accessibility and usability — notably related to <ref/> citations — that I've just listed on WP:RFC/STYLE; please come and add your views. — OwenBlacker 20:07, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Interstitial citations suck

For all five articles I've managed to make either Good Articles or Did You Know entries, I've meticulously used interstitial citations because that's what people want, and I reluctantly complied. However, upon finishing my history homework (a document-based question), I realized it is much more satisfying to read several documents, have it amass in my head, and then simply write, than it is to read, write, and cite repeatedly, resulting in piecemeal writing which tends to be disjointed. What would happen if I were to read all my sources, write, list my sources at the end, and then I had the audacity to list my article on Good Article Nominations or even Featured Article Candidates? Obviously I would get panned endlessly for not providing an inline citation for every other word, and so it would fail despite the fact that the article is completely cited. You can trust me to have a reliable source for every word I put on Wikipedia, can't you? I've been around for nearly three years without betraying the community's trust, for goodness sake. MessedRocker (talk) 01:32, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

I don't see what the problem is. I agree that one sometimes writes more fluently by reading first and then writing from the head. But if one goes back through what one has written, adding citations where necessary, one has achieved both good writing and useful inline citations.
By the way, I don't agree that piecemal writing need necessarily result in inferior prose. With complicated subjects, it seems to me essential to piece articles together carefully from a variety of sources. If one treats the result as a first draft, one can then go through the article rewriting it for fluency and clarity.qp10qp 01:48, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
Indeed; often times I do copyedits to my articles after writing them. My point is that it's absolutely no fun. I like writing, a lot, but having to read a passage from a book, record it down on Wikipedia, then recording the source, repeated many times, is not fun. MessedRocker (talk) 02:02, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, Wikipedia is a hobby, and it should be fun; so you should write articles whichever way you enjoy best. If one decides to apply for GA status, etc., then the whole thing does start to become work. One way round it is just not to bother with that stuff.
We are all different. Speaking for myself, I get a great deal of pleasure from the very process you describe as not fun. I like looking things up, combining them, referencing them. It makes article writing slow, but I'm in no hurry.qp10qp 02:18, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Qp10qp. To be honest, I like reading a lot and then let it combine in my mind and write it in one go. However, this can be dangerous, as some combinations in the mind lead to claims that are not supported by the original references. The detailed referencing will show where this happened; or support the brainchilds. This may sound like work, and it is (albeit very much fun work). Arnoutf 08:12, 29 September 2007 (UTC)
My complaint about them is that I think they disruptive in terms the article's readability. Putting six or seven superscript footnotes in the introductory sentence is not impressive to readers. It's a boot licking grovel to appease other editors. Editors get trapped sometimes in this mindset of assessing the articles like teachers grading term papers instead of like average readers. But we should aim for factual articles that are also well written and digestible. I have seen many, many instances in which editors have supplied bogus citations, usually to disguise their own opinions or synthesized analyses. I appreciate the need that the content be referenced with some specificity. I just wish a way to accomplish this stylistically that is also more aesthetic, and that isn't so disruptive to the article's read.Professor marginalia 17:10, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

Sidenotes / Web 2.0

Edward Tufte advocates having wide margins and putting full citations (author, title, publisher, year) in the margin adjacent to the citation. This allows the reader to easily find the full citation. In print it's a tradeoff between space and clarity to "waste" pages of wide margins, but on the web, we could do that or better, with a citation link popping up the full citation rather than sending the user to the bottom of the page. How difficult would this be to mock up? Would that be a good idea? —Ben FrantzDale 19:08, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

Whatever you do, make sure that printed copies of the article are still fully referenced. --Gerry Ashton 19:30, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
Although I appreciate Tuftes work, I am not a fan of that style. I prefer the Harvard style referencing with an inline reference looking like (Smith,2000); which has most of the information.
There is in the case of Wikipedia another reason why I think we should be careful with this kind of advanced referencing. Many people will only read the article, and not being interested in the references. We should keep it to the minimum, while of course allowing editors and critics to see the full refeence somewhere. Arnoutf 08:19, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

Using one source for an entire section

I know this isn't a good idea at all, but I have two articles I'm working on, To Kill a Mockingbird and Rosewood massacre where a single source is used as the basis of information in an entire section, because there doesn't seem to be any other source available. Instead of footnoting the same source to appear multiple times with no other sources noted, is there a tag that can be anchored at the top of the section that reads something like, "Information in the following section is sourced from Source X" which can be linked to footnotes at the bottom? Thanks for the assistance. --Moni3 12:49, 1 October 2007 (UTC)Moni3

Scientific writing usually advices the following. Use the source first time (ie in the first line), and then make clear that the rest of the para refers to the same source. For example:
It has often been proven that squares and circles are not the same (Smith and Jones, 1987). It was further proven by the same authors that triangles and squares, triangles and circles and many other shapes are not the same. They even expanded their research to include the difference between sphere and cubes. etc etc.
This way you don't need to repeat the reference. Any help? Arnoutf 14:08, 1 October 2007 (UTC)
We are still at an early enough stage in Wikipedia's evolution for there to be no rules about this, and so I see no reason why one could not simply state in a note (whether after the first sentence or at the end of the paragraph), "this paragraph is based on....ref whatever". I don't do that myself, though; I ref quotes and whatever may be challenged, even if it means repeating refs (one can use multiple-ref technique to avoid repeating the actual notes, though there will be multiple tags). In practice, there are dangers in the belief that there is only one source; someone may come along later with another source, and as soon as they add a note from it, your encompassing ref loses its effect, so that parts of the paragraph seem either unreferenced or referenced to the later note.qp10qp 20:34, 1 October 2007 (UTC)
I barely recall surfing through Wikipedia one day and seeing a template like this once. Was I imagining things again? I'm going to try to put To Kill a Mockingbird up for GA status, and I just know someone is going to protest a single footnote for the Background section. However, Lee has been very private about her life, and even discouraged the biographer that I did reference from writing the book about her life. Since there are no rules about this, how do I justify this to GA reviewers? --Moni3 20:45, 1 October 2007 (UTC)Moni3
I find it hard to believe that only one source exists for the background to To Kill a Mockingbird. Having just glanced at the article, however, the section is full of such straightforward information that I agree it doesn't need copious referencing. Spots in that section which call for a reference tag, in my opinion, are: The novel is a thinly disguised partial autobiography (scholarly judgement); Capote called them "apart people" (quotation); Lee stated that she had in mind something less sensational than that, although it served the same purpose to show Southern attitudes about prejudice (paraphrase of author's words); A.C. Lee was not as liberal as Atticus in terms of racial relations throughout his entire life, but became so gradually (biographical judgement); In 1955, when Lee was living in New York City and compiling her stories of the people in her hometown, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in Montgomery, sparking the year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott (synthesis with background to Lee's book); and The editorial team at Lippincott tried to warn Lee that she would probably sell several thousand copies at the most (anecdote). Best practice would be to indicate page numbers for each, so that the references could more easily be checked.qp10qp 21:05, 1 October 2007 (UTC)
My suggestion was just one way to repeatedly use a single reference. Of course the named reference template could help as well. For the specific example: I think this discussion should be continued on "To kill a mockinbird" talk page, and not here. Arnoutf 21:55, 1 October 2007 (UTC)
My response was not directly about the specific content, though at a glance it might seem to be. My notes in brackets indicate possible criteria for deciding when to cite, which is the business of this page.qp10qp 22:03, 1 October 2007 (UTC)
I found this case study to be helpful, although I guess it could have been on the article's own talk page. I like there to be a link to a referenced page from a talk page if it is a good case study. That way we can have the clean-talk-page cake and eat the interesting-case-study cake too. DCDuring 22:46, 1 October 2007 (UTC)
You'd think there would be more about the creation of this cornerstone of American literature, wouldn't you? I checked out every book there was about Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird from the University of Florida main library and what you see is what you get. I've also done article searches, book review searches, and educational article searches (the most info available is on how to teach it). Harper Lee does not want to be a subject of biography. She ensures it. I'd also have started this discussion on the talk page, but it looks like I'm the only one who responds to it, weirdly enough. A year ago it was a hot and active article and I couldn't keep up with it. I appreciate your responses. I'll take your advice into account when I try to cite the information better. --Moni3 23:05, 1 October 2007 (UTC)Moni3

I think I have a related concern. I want to use a reference that applies (along with other references) to various statements made in the section. Can the reference be given once and referred to subsequently with an id. It looks like wikiref and wikicite do this, but don't use the numbering system that the ref tag uses, which I prefer because it is smaller (less disruptive to reading). Bsharvy 03:46, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

See WP:FOOT#Citing_a_footnote_more_than_once -- Boracay Bill 04:02, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

I found an article that does this, by the way: W. H. Auden is ranked as a good article and posts at the top of at least 2 sections that one to three sources are used for the following sections. --Moni3 16:06, 22 October 2007 (UTC)Moni3

Snippets from that article's wikitext:
... not through any decisive change of views).<ref>{{cite book
  | last = Auden
  | first = W. H.
  | title = Forewords and Afterwords
  | publisher = Random House
  | location = New York
  | date = 1973
  | pages = p. 517
  | isbn = 0-394-48359-6}}</ref>
... return to the Anglican Church in 1940.<ref>{{cite book
  | last = Auden
  | first = W. H.
  | title = Forewords and Afterwords
  | publisher = Random House
  | location = New York
  | date = 1973
  | pages = p. 69
  | isbn = 0-394-48359-6}}</ref>
... of the human body<ref>{{cite book
  | last = Auden
  | first = W. H.
  | title = Forewords and Afterwords
  | publisher = Random House
  | date = 1973
  | location = New York
  | pages = p. 68
  | isbn = 0-394-48359-6}}</ref>
... His last prose book was a selection of essays and reviews, ''Forewords and Afterwords'' (1973).
<div class="references-small">
<references />
==Published works==
=== Books and selected pamphlets ===
* ''[[Forewords and Afterwords]]'' (1973, essays) (dedicated to [[Hannah Arendt]]).
Personally, I think it would be better to do that as something like:
... not through any decisive change of views).<ref>{{harvnb|Auden|1973|p=517}}</ref>
... return to the Anglican Church in 1940.<ref>{{harvnb|Auden|1973|p=69}}</ref>
... of the human body<ref>{{harvnb|Auden|1973|p=68}}</ref>
... His last prose book was a selection of essays and reviews, ''Forewords and Afterwords''.<ref>{{harvnb|Auden|1973}}</ref>
<div class="references-small">
<references />
==Published works==
=== Books and selected pamphlets ===
  | last = Auden
  | first = W. H.
  | title = Forewords and Afterwords
  | publisher = Random House
  | location = New York
  | year = 1973
  | isbn = 0-394-48359-6}} (dedicated to [[Hannah Arendt]]).
Paste that second bunch of wikitext snippets into a sandbox to compare that with the article as written. -- Boracay Bill 23:39, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
I've started entire articles from a single source. I attached a named ref to the first chunk of material, then scattered further refs behind large chunks of material. As pieces get edited some of the refs are likely to vanish, but it all was public domain text so all that has to remain is one acknowlegement of the long as some of the original remains. (SEWilco 00:23, 23 October 2007 (UTC))

How to cite a fact that has no single source

OK, here's my dilemma. I had culled genealogical data for Uma Thurman's ancestry some time ago, and I recently culled genealogical data for Ethan Hawke's ancestry. I obtained this data from several different web pages that are themselves sourced; the sources are not available to the general public but are well known to the genealogy community and generally regarded by it as irrefutable. After accumulating this data in my database, I discovered that Thurman and Hawke have several common ancestors. I mentioned this in Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke but didn't know how I should cite it. (I also forgot to use the [citation needed] tag; Yamla reverted my contributed fact out of Uma Thurman in compliance with WP:V and WP:BLP, and I later added the [citation needed] tag to the contributed fact in Ethan Hawke.) The sourcing of this fact is a house of cards — take away one source, and the fact becomes unverifiable. I have noticed that facts like these exist in some other biographies with any cited sources, but what I'm wondering is:

  • Is it permitted to contribute such "house-of-card" facts?
  • If it is permitted, how should one cite the sources?

-John Rigali 17:18, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

You are on the slippery slope of original research. Ideally, everything in Wikipedia should be attributable to secondary source. While your discovery is interesting, it doesn't belong in Wikipedia, it belongs in a blog about geneology somewhere. We're just collecting the world's information and insights; we're not adding to it. ---- CharlesGillingham 17:38, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
I don't think it's particularly notable that two people have a common ancestor from 500 years ago. But as for citing, I could only see this working by spelling out and citing each piece of the argument. That would at least be verifiable, but it would still come across as WP:OR by synthesis, if this argument has never been published elsewhere. Gimmetrow 19:47, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
I think it is normal that those of us who spend so much time peering into information should occasionally make new discoveries or links between known facts. It is frustrating that we can't present such things on Wikipedia. However, we can raise the points on talk pages, which relieves some of the urge to shout them from the rooftops—a couple of my own examples are on the talk pages of John de Critz and Roger I of Sicily (in the second case, someone has read my comment and added "probably William Werlenc" to the article, but that is original research, my warblings notwithstanding). It's good fun playing at scholarship, but until someone publishes our research, that is all most of us are doing on Wikipedia. :(. qp10qp 21:55, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
its actually rare that some sort of printed source can not be found for almost any historical correlation., Unfortunately their accuracy is another matter. The well known genealogical sources for the european nobility in the editions used in WP are a frequent source of blunders. at least forthe UK theres the DNB. DGG (talk) 07:45, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
Seems to me that citations can be become bogus when the group of involved experts becomes too large and fragmented. At such time the concept of leading authorities or "more reputable than most" comes into serious question and is unclear. How do you judge a majority opinion when the group becomes too large and unsurveyed? Of what value is a minority citation when there are counter opinions?
As an example it seems we have at least a million people worldwide qualified as Personal Computer experts - many of whom have done research with apparently differing results
(some simply different working assumptions or goals, some slanted, some obsoleted in a flash of time, some ignorant of important software or hardware configuration, etc). Also the PC group is a good example of a fast moving field where experts tend to document far less than the whole and rely on general knowledge. And when are you bootstrapping into esoteric meta-academics like giving a citation for the basic explanation of 1+1=2 or the ABCs of the English alphabet? (The point being "is the mathematical proof of uniqueness etc required for the common reader? Does a citation that furthers advanced studies of recorded writing back the basic explanation of the ABCs except if you follow through with quite a bit of advanced history and philosophy of symbology etc.") 11:13, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Is this site a valid source?

It looks to me like a fansite.Hoponpop69 21:48, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Moving references

Moved from Wikipedia:Help Desk

Has there been a proposal about moving references (which takes up more than half of the page in some articles) into their own place or module, much like any comment or question about the article is located in the "discussion" module? This might require a software change... Anyway, could someone point me to a discussion of this sort? Thank you. CG 14:22, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Against, the sources should be directly visible in the main article. Arnoutf 21:07, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
Why not? In many books, any refs or notes are located at the end in an appendix of its own, followed by a bibliography appendix. It is similiar to WP articles but instead of cluttering each page they are grouped in a separate section. I don't see any real disadvantage in it. CG 08:22, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
I have no problem re-structuring refs and notes (although the software implementation may be difficult), but the information should be somewhere in the main article and not in a separate page. With regard to your comparison to books, in Wiki articles this is already the case, references are located at (or near) the end in a separate section called references. Following the metaphore of a book, in my opinion your suggestion would not be to put the refs at the end, but in a different volume altogether, but of course that is an opinion. Arnoutf 10:15, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Yeah you're right, my analogy with books is already implemented, but there's still a problem. A huge list of refs (as it is required for FAs) has many disadvantages: It takes up more than half of the space making estimation of the size of the article difficult, but more important not all readers are interested in checking references. Not all WP visitors are making researches and very few of them have an interest in checking the refs (other than editors who are concerned about the quality of articles), therefore there's a frequent loss of downloading time and even printing paper, in addition, bottom templates, external links and "see also" sections located after the refs are becoming harder to spot. I know that implementing this sort of thing require a great software change (and a request at Bugzilla not here), but after seeing complaints about huge list of refs, I was surprised that no one has suggested a way to solve it (or at least that what I think). Thank you. CG 11:17, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Quran references

Many secondary sources on Islam write about the Muslim beliefs, theology and faith in general. These secondary sources often point to the Qur'an as a reference. Question: when a user cites the secondary source, is it alright if the user also cites the references of the secondary source cited?


Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet of God.<ref>Smith (1996) quotes Qur'an 61:6.</ref><ref>Smith, John (1996). ''Muslim beliefs''. New York: A B Press. Pages: 22-23</ref>


Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet of God.<ref>Smith, John (1996). ''Muslim beliefs''. New York: A B Press. Pages: 22-23</ref>

What do you guys think?Bless sins 19:56, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

One does not cite the sources of a source. Cite only the source you're using. --Cheeser1 22:51, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

However, the project page for this article makes the following point: For example, you might find information on a web page which says it comes from a certain book. Unless you look at the book yourself to check that the information is there, your reference is really the web page, which is what you must cite. The credibility of the article rests on the credibility of the web page, as well as the book, and the article itself must make that clear. (emphasis added).
Take an illustrative example -- say a WP author wishes to make a point that the Department of Interior issued proposed changes in the year 2000 in the way the BIA calculates and invalidates a Certificate of Degree of Indian or Alaska Native Blood. The editor got that info from this Weyanoke association web page. That page does contain the information, but clearly attributes it directly to a column titled Native Intelligence by one Jack D. Forbes, said to be of the Native American Studies department at UC-Davis. The column is quoted in full (let's not get sidetracked here with questions about possible copyvio issues; I've contrived this illustration to make a point -- I've seen similar situations numerous times around WP). For sake of this illustration, suppose that the WP author I'm postulating is unable to chase down a more direct citation himself. The author should say where he got the info (here), but I think that it is useful to add something like "quoting an article, Native Intelligence, by Jack D. Forbes (Native American Studies, UC-Davis). The WP article cannot cite the Native Intelligence article directly because he has not seen it; he has only seen a purportedly accurate requote of an article purportedly correctly attributed. -- Boracay Bill 02:02, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
yes, that is the accepted thing to do, both on wikipedia and elsewhere. But a more common wording is:
Native Intelligence, by Jack D. Forbes (Native American Studies, UC-Davis as cited by [whatever].
The important thing, as you say, is that both are always needed. In the Qur'anic example you give, I would certainly add the verse. DGG (talk) 01:35, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
But this isn't about quoting someone quoting the Quran. It's about quoting someone's analysis of the Quran. To point to Bob Smith's article on the Quran and say "The Quran is interpreted to mean XYZ" - to also cite the Quran does not make sense: the Quran does not make analytical claims about itself. --Cheeser1 22:37, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
If the source is making specific reference to a passage in the Quran then it is helpful to identify the passage in question. One can do so in a footnote if it isn't already clear from the text of the article. This doesn't imply that the interpretation is necessarily accurate. Christopher Parham (talk) 01:39, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Quoting from TV Documentary

I wish to write about an important figure in Scottish Gaelic culture, Margaret Fay Shaw. I have several trustworthy sources including obituaries from both The Independent and The Guardian. That's okay. My problem relates to a television interview she participated in, shortly before her death, for BBC Scotland. This interview had many quotes that I would like to be able to use which would back up my claims of her paricular fondness for South Uist amongst others. Unfortunately, as with most Gaelic programming, there are no online transcripts which I can cite. What would my best course of action be for it to be recognised by the community? Simply to quote directly from the programme? I can't think of any alternatives. --Kryters 17:20, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

I think that maybe acceptable; after all BBC is reliable compared to many websites that are being used. When you use it, make sure it can be found back later; i.e. Title of program, year of first air date; broadcasting channel (BBC Scotland), first air date (and time). Perhaps also add producer etc. I'll check the APA publication guide for you in a few days, they probably have suggestions (their chapter on sources is very long and detailed). Arnoutf 17:55, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for your advice. I knew that I couldn't just quote and get away with it. The press release for the programme is here. That gives all the information I need. How should I present it in the footnotes/references section? I'm quite new to all this citing stuff. --Kryters 18:13, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
An example from the APA style is: Riker, David (Director). (2005, February 11). The City: La Ciudad [Television broadcast]. Alexandria: Public Broadcasting Service. following this generic template (Last Name, First Initial of Authority (Title of Authority). (Year, Month Day of broadcast). Title of Show [Television broadcast]. Location of broadcasting company: Broadcasting company.). If you format your ref like that I think it would be ok; although we tend to use Chicago (with which I am not familiar) rather than APA, so not everybody need necessarily agree with me. The APA television citing style is explained for more examples here
If you want to make an inline cite you can format it as follows: <ref>Wilson, Les (Director). (2003, November 10). Among Friends: Margaret Fay Shaw [Television broadcast]. BBC Scotland.</ref>. Put like this inside the text (including ref tags, be careful not to add the nowiki tags as these will stop all tags between the). If you copy the ref tagged section into your article and add the <references/> or {{Reflist}} tag at the end of the article it will automically generate the reflist on the page. A superscript number (hyperlink) appears in the text where you place the ref tags. Good luck Arnoutf 21:20, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

heiia i are to the scool naw butt i mort go no bye —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:47, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Research on reference use in Wikipedia articles

I'm not aware of any studies in this area. I've done a quick one myself available here: Wikipedia:WikiProject Wikidemia/Use of referencing and assessment. I would like to see much more research like this conducted, and have provided a few suggestions. Any comments are welcome. Richard001 04:45, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

"Citation needed" reference?

Should [Citation needed] types of markup show up in References with a backlink? It would help editors and readers find marked items. (SEWilco 03:42, 10 October 2007 (UTC))

The {{fact}} tag could include <ref name=CitationNeeded>'''Citation Needed'''</ref>, causing all those tags to show up in the References section below. (SEWilco 02:15, 19 October 2007 (UTC))
What would be the added benefit? Using search function citation neededs are easily found in the text. Only by seeing them in context you can adjust the text, or find a reference. Arnoutf 07:22, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
And all "fact" tags are linked to that template; you can see them via "What links here" at Template:Fact. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 13:37, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Personal involvement with references

How do I cite references from personal emails or phone calls with or about the subjects of my articles? --Moni3 19:20, 10 October 2007 (UTC)Moni3

You may cite articles that you wrote if and only if they have been published in reputable publications. You may not cite personal emails or phone calls because they are not publications. --Gerry Ashton 19:32, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
So if I spoke to the subject of one of my articles I'm not able to cite any information provided during our call? --Moni3 19:40, 10 October 2007 (UTC)Moni3
No, information on Wikipedia should be verifiable through published sources. 17Drew 19:47, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Ok. Thanks. --Moni3 19:55, 10 October 2007 (UTC)Moni3

Discussion about particular attribution

I encourage Wikipedians who watch this page to comment about a new proposal at Wikipedia talk:Fringe theories#Appeal to particular attribution. Thanks ScienceApologist 17:29, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Possible false citiation of sources

[[7]] says that it is improper to copy a citation from an intermediate source without making it clear that you saw only that intermediate source. How does one approach an entry which purports to have many references, but where the probable reality is that the entry has had only a single source, and the many sources are actually only sources cited within that single source. I am referring to something like this page: [[8]]. In it, many sources are listed, including original documents held in the British Foreign Office records. However, I think it is highly improbable that the editors of that page have seen such original documents, and is more likely that it is all taken from a single book, most likely of Turkish nationalistic origin. Meowy 00:32, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

If there is an identified single intermediate source, that source should be cited. It is permissable to use a format which lists both by citing to primary source, cited in secondary source. Secondary sources may translate and/or interpret primary sources. Best, --Shirahadasha 03:45, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

I think it would be fair to consider a claim to be unreferenced if the citation provided does not allow a person with reasonable skill in using libraries and the Internet to figure out where the reference document is located. It might turn out that actually viewing the reference document requires traveling to a particular library or government office; that's OK. --Gerry Ashton 18:29, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
I'd say that was the case with most of the references given in the[[9]] page I mentioned. I feel that most of the information in that page has come from a single uncited source and not from the multiple sources that are cited. So how should the problem be addressed? Ask the editor that put the content there? And how is he/she going to prove those multiple sources were actually used? Meowy 00:19, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
My guess is that the cites to which you refer include those added in this edit and this edit, both by OttomanReference. If you have a question about whether that editor used an intermediate source and, if so, what that source might be perhaps it might be a good idea to ask that editor. Yes, if an intermediate source was used the cites should say so and should identify that source. Incidentally, googling around a bit turned up this, which looks like it might have been a source for some of this material. -- Boracay Bill 01:40, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
(continuing) Ah, I see that while I was putting the above together you did inquire about this on OttomanReference's talk page. Hopefully, that'll help clear this up. -- Boracay Bill 01:52, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for that input. There do seem to be similarities with that Googled article, but more in the style of the writing and in its listing of Foreign Office documents than in the subject matter. Bilal Simsir is a well-known writer much used by the Turkish State to advocate its official history of events, and will use only sources which agree (or which can be made to appear to agree) with that official history. That's why it will be important to know the intermediate source, if one was used. As you just noticed, I've asked OttomanReference about his sources. Meowy 02:04, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

The quote function in citations

There is a quote function in citations, and I use it. Other people have been removing them, saying the are not to be used, and that no featured article uses them. I find them very useful:

  • They show a full quote in situ with the surrounding text
  • They aid in reconnecting to the web source if the link is broken. Try finding: "John Smith dead" vs "John Smith, the Anglican bishop was found dead today". Links on the web are mutable, especially links to Associated Press articles, which by contracts are not to be archived, such as the one used at Yahoo. It makes it easier to find the article again, in another newspaper or news archive, sich as CNBC, CNN, or the BBC.

What do you think? --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) 17:32, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

Not all citation templates support the quote parameter. In particular, {{Citation}} does not, though it is easy enough to add a quote inside of a footnote containing {{Citation}} but outside of the template. This sounds like a difference between you and other editors about writing style in some particular articles. The manual of style doesn't lay out hard and fast rules about placing quotes inline vs. placing quotes in footnotes (see this), though I get the sense that inline placement is preferred. Even if placed inline, of course, paraphrases and direct quotations do require supporting citations identifying the source used {see this). Another article which might be useful is this, which contains wikilinks to other possibly useful articles.-- Boracay Bill 01:06, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
This discussion appears to be the same as that in the section below, and the consensus seems to be running against the practice. As for direct quotations making it easier to find permanent versions of the story at places like CNBC, CNN, and the BBC, why don't you use those sources initially, rather than a transient AP story? That way, someone looking for more information from the story can find it much more easily. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 13:33, 30 October 2007 (UTC)


I was encouraged by User:wtmitchell to bring this here

I'm not sure how to format a source I used for Michael Koenen. The source is [10]. Now with the {{cite}} template, it asks for a "publisher." Is this the Atlanta Journal-Constitution or Tromboneguy0186 10:41, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

I originally posted that at WT:RS, then removed it. It's now on my talk page, along with a quick reply from Bill. He suggests that the article itself might by a copyvio since it copies something out of the print media, and as such we shouldn't cite it. I tend to think, though I in no way know for sure, that this is not a brazen copyvio on the part of WWU's site, since they quite frequently post articles from the print media (most are just the Bellingham Herald, though, or other local{er} papers).

Anyway, any and all input on the matter is appreciated. Tromboneguy0186 12:10, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

Copying an entire newspaper article to one's website would be a copyright violation, unless one has permission to do so. Copying a sentence or maybe a paragraph would be fair use. The fact that one does it all the time and hasn't been caught yet does not mean it isn't a violation. --Gerry Ashton 15:38, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
My assumption is not that the WWU site "hasn't been caught," it's that they do have permission. Why else would they do it, and how would they not have been "caught" after doing it for three years-plus? I'm sure I could find this out with a little digging, though, being as I work part-time for the WWU athletic department. Tromboneguy0186 23:01, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

Reference tags

From the history of the article:

04:14, 25 October 2007 Omegatron (Talk | contribs | block) (28,869 bytes) (→Where to place reference tags - for several years now, with no opposition) (undo)

Omegatron given this history in the archives:

how do you justify the statement "Where to place reference tags - for several years now, with no opposition" --Philip Baird Shearer 14:24, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Seems to be an instance of "If I only act as if; and shout it out very loudly, many people will believe I am right/represent consensus; without me giving any arguments". Sadly I have seen this behaviour before. Arnoutf 17:37, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

reference tool

Is the [ref generator no longer functional? --Jerm (Talk/ Contrib) 15:43, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

I just tested it; it seems fine, if you use a URL that doesn't include a pipe at the end. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 13:27, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Quotes in references

I've come across an issue with another editor who simply insists on including a quote in each and every reference that he puts in. At times, these quotes can run into 2 or 3 sentences. This is done for even a very minor reference such as one for Ben Affleck, reference #5, Encyclopedia Titanica, or all of the references on the Dan Antonioli article. His explanation is two-fold: a) the reader needs to see the reference as it appears in situ (which makes no sense to me since to see the reference in situ requires one to go to the site to view it) and b) the citation template has a space for a quote (although the editor doesn't always use the author space, despite the author's name being available).

My issue is that this practice is usually unnecessary as well as functioning to bulk out the page with unnecessary information in the reference section. In some cases, the references end up having an excessive amount of info in the citation yet leaves the article bereft of content.

Please help on how to approach this and what Wikipedia considers reason to include a quote in a reference. Perhaps someone else might broach this subject with the editor since I've had no luck with it? Wildhartlivie 09:57, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

My two cents, that use goes way beyond fair use of copyrighted material, the direct quotes appear to be a way of hosting the source information, it's rather senseless really.IvoShandor 10:14, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
In my opinion the quote in the citation should only be used to avoid potential ambivalence, not to put in text systematically;the reference is meant to give a reader the option to read text; not to give the text. In no single scientific referenceing system is the use of quotes proscribed, so it seems indeed irrelevant.
On top of that, copying such amounts of text seems indeed bordering on copyright violation. Arnoutf 11:35, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
  • The practice of including the relevant portions of a source within a reference is a model practice that should be encouraged and used more extensively by other editors. In addition to the cite template requesting the parameter, inclusion of the relevant cited text provides the clearest possible documentation of the statement being sourced, without requiring a reader to hunt through the source document. I have on many occasions tried to trace back a source from a reference, only to be forced to read through every sentence of the source document in its entirety, without any certainty of what material was being cited. For those sources that retain information for short periods of time online, especially some major newspapers, the cited text may be the only way most readers will ever see the source material. User:Wildhartlivie offers no reasonable explanation for why the practice should be prohibited other than the fact that he has decided that its use is unnecessary. See New York City for an example of a featured article that takes excellent advantage of this feature. Perhaps someone could broach the subject with User:Wildhartlivie that there is nothing wrong with the practice as he seems to be rather stubbornly trying to create a nonexistent issue. Alansohn 04:19, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
I see no guideline on using or not using the quote function. The only time the display of a lede paragraph has been found to violate copyright was for Google in Belgium. I an all other cases Google's right to display the lede paragraph of any news has been upheld by the courts as fair use. Links to articles are not permanent, especially Associated Press stories, and having the lede has helped me refind articles after the original link expired. Try find "John Smith, Died" vs "John Smith, Died. John Smith the Anglican Bishop died yesterday at his home in Cheshire."

As a good example of people not wanting to read a whole webpage to look for a reference see the deletion in Ghosttown, Oakland, California where someone deleted a reference because they couldn't find the information on the webpage. This was right after someone deleted the quote function from the reference.

Thus should be debated on a global level rather than the case by case basis as is done now. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) 04:25, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

I can't think of any publication that includes that kind of information in citations. IvoShandor 04:28, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
  • For instance concerning how fugitive Internet links are. The New York Times archive was hosted by ProQuest just a month ago and now is hosted directly by the New York Times. The older ProQuest links to articles are no longer active. Seeing quotes in situ in Wikipedia, to me, is the best way to ensure the information is quoted properly. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) 04:41, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

I have indeed offered reasoning for why I believe the use of this sort of "quote" is inappropriate. I didn't say it should be prohibited, I said the manner in which these quotes are being used is not what is intended for the quote function. Using information from a source to craft new text is entirely different from pasting entire sections of a page into a citation template. Besides the fact that it's bulky, distracting, and excessive, very little of the information contained in them is being utilized. Those sections pasted are copyrighted and the quote options are not being used in the manner they are intended. I didn't just up and decide it was unnecessary. I sought out opinions at two relevant resources within Wikipedia for opinions on this matter and have approached another. The majority opinion seems to be that it's at least bordering on copyright infringement, that it's a rather backhanded attempt to host the article, and its unnecessary. That is why references have an "accessed on" date, to show when it was available, should it no longer be. I did look at the New York City article. There are brief quotes in 4 references - out of 154. That is not what is going on here, which is why I've brought it up. 4 out of 4 references in one article have more quoted material pasted in the reference than the material in the entire article. Refer to the 1st sentence below the edit box: "Content that violates any copyright will be deleted" and to the policy in Wikipedia:Copyrights#If_you_find_a_copyright_infringement. I am doing exactly what Wikipedia asks us to do. Wildhartlivie 08:24, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

As I said earlier, the only court to find that hosting the lede, or the abstract, of an article was in Belgium, where Google was not allowed to aggregate the lede from news articles. No other court has found it a breach, and it isn't a breach of the DMCA in the United States, where the English Wikipedia is hosted. As Ronald Reagan said: Trust, but Verify. we should make it as easy as possible to verify. Hoaxes slip in too easily. Just last week, Jon Stewart told Ben Affleck that he had directed other films. That was incorrect, his first film was Gone, Baby, Gone. Where did the bad info come from? Most likely Wikipedia which said it was the third film he had directed. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) 20:57, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
In my opinion, there is no need to quote great chunks of the source like this. A phrase here and there would be more judicious. There comes a point, I think, at which we have to trust an editor that a source supports the information it references. Of course, this is a vulnerable point for Wikipedia, I admit; but if Wikipedia has to prove every statement by quoting at length from every article or source it references, then I'm not sure there's much point to Wikipedia.qp10qp 12:13, 28 October 2007 (UTC)


Seeing quotes in situ in Wikipedia references is not the best way to ensure the information is quoted accurately. A better way, certainly more verifiable, is to refer to a properly archived version.

And you don't need to simply hope it'll be findable in some Internet archive at some later date either. WebCite allows you to preempt the possibility of future page deletion with its archive form -

This page allows you to submit URLs for archiving with WebCite. The contents of pages requested will be archived, including any inline images and / or media (up to a maximum size). As part of the archiving process, an e-mail will be sent to your address (as specified), giving a unique archive URL that can be used to access the content, which you can then use in your Wikipedia article reference.

--SallyScot 19:26, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

I don't know much about copyright law, but it looks pretty close to the edge to me. What SallyScot says above me is a good solution for what to do with internet pages that might disappear. From looking at these pages, I can say they look very messy with all the extra data stuck into the citations and as another person said above, quotes should be used to remove ambivalence about a fact in an article, not to recreate the piece where it came from. The last time I saw nearly whole copies of a page accompanying an article, was in college for term papers. AndToToToo 20:36, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Why am I allowed to provide whole paragraphs of quoted text using the blockquote function, yet having the information at the bottom of the article is a violation of DCMA? How is it that Google in every search performed provides a paragraph of text, or a few sentences of text, and that is not a violation of the DCMA? --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) 21:07, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
The practice of including the relevant portions of a source within a reference is a model practice that should be encouraged and used more extensively by other editors. I find that a bizarre statement. For a source that is used in an article multiple times (that is, a single footnote number that appears in multiple places in the article), it would not only only make the footnote huge, but it would also (by incorporating large sections of the source in the footnote) be heading in the direction of obvious copyright violations. Let's remember that one reason that no one has sued the Wikimedia Foundation (yet) is that links to external sources send readers to that source; Wikipedia is therefore a friend of newspapers and other sites that have content and make money from display advertisments. Changing it so we're a self-contained universe isn't the right way to go. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 13:24, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Let's remember that one reason that no one has sued the Wikimedia Foundation (yet) is that links to external sources send readers to that source. I find this to be one of the most ignorant statements I've ever read on Wikipedia. Given that the practice is widely used in scholarly books, journals, magazines and even Wikipedia articles, the far more logical answer as to why no one has sued the Wikimedia Foundation (yet) is that there is no copyright issue whatsoever, despite the hysterical hypotheticals. Other than baseless fear-mongering (what if there are thousands of references within one article?, What if somebody sues Wikipedia? What if the gods strike is with leprosy for quoting content?) No rational individual can possibly advocate that inclusion of a single sentence with proper attribution is a copyright violation, after all far longer text sections are regularly quoted within articles and within references; no one advocates inclusion of the entire text of 300-page book within a source. Yet there is some middle ground that the copyright-addled refuse to acknowledge. Pushing copyright violation as an excuse here is just a means to ignore the issue at hand: how much text can be included in a citation? The refusal to offer any suggestion to this simple question is indicative of a tendency to treat the most straightforward issues by treating them under the most extreme application of the most vaguely relevant Wikipedia policy. Alansohn 16:24, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
    • I agree there is not a high risk of copyright infringement, although that question would be better answered by our lawyer Mike Godwin. But independent of copyright concerns I don't think it's necessary to include a quote from every source to back up the claim. The entire point of giving bibliographic information is to allow the reader to verify the claim directly from the published source. If there is no public permanent record of the source, we should be reluctant to use it. In the case of the New York Times, for example, many libraries have every edition available for reference. — Carl (CBM · talk) 16:33, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
      • No one has advocated that the practice is necessary and must be included for all references. Yet in many cases the practice is appropriate. A reference that merely points to an article in The New York Times can be referring to any sentence in the article; a reference with specific text cited is referring to the specific text cited within that article. Either way, someone wishing to verify the source must actually read the article in question, but with the specific cited text included, there is no ambiguity as to what is being cited; without it, one must read the entire article to guess what the reference is related to. Articles regularly quote text within articles and within references, a practice that is universally accepted, even if it is not necessary in all situations. What we have here is a blanket statement that anyone who quotes any text from any article in any context has committed a copyright violation; that statement is clearly false. Alansohn 16:48, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
        • Since on-line sources can easily be searched, a need to use the entire article is less of a problem since one simply searches for relevant keywords, although page numbers or similar should be provided if avaliable. For print references, the page number should be adequate. Since a direct quote would need to be checked just as much as a paraphrase, I don't see that using quotes provides any greater assurance of reliability, and it imposes significantly greater burdens on users. Depending on the context it might not add any value to delete quotes this user has been willing to take the time to add, but I wouldn't require it of anyone else. Best, --Shirahadasha 19:12, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
          • Not that anyone's counting, but at this point Wildhartlivie, IvoShandor, Arnoutf, qp10qp, SallyScot, AndToToToo, CBM, Shirahadasha, and I have expressed opposition to the practice of putting chunks of text into footnotes, a practice that is not supported by any Wikipedia policy or guideline, and that is in no way the norm at Wikipedia. I think that's about as close to consensus as most discussions get, and I suggest that the practice stop. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 00:26, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

From the copyright decisions that I've read in detail over the last few days, the issue of displaying the lead paragraph, or a thumbnail of an image, in a search engine has not been found to be the issue. The copyright violation occurs when the search engine or webpage hosts the material. Since Google frames the page which is in actuality loaded by the computer of user employing the search engine, Google has been able to avoid liability on this.

The issue here is, for copy & pasted paragraphs & full biographies into a reference, is that Wikipedia becomes the host for the material, and this example we are considering, material in excess of what is being used in the body of the article. And that, according to the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals, is a copyright violation. There have been a whole passel of copyright issues here over improper use that I've come across while researching discussions on WP the last few days - in requests for comment, articles & images for deletion and copyright violations. This issue is representative of the same. Wildhartlivie 06:16, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

Scrolling reference lists

Scrolling reference lists should never be used, because of issues with readability, accessibility, printing, and site mirroring. Additionally, it cannot be guaranteed that such reference lists will display properly in all web browsers.

What are scrolling reference lists exactly? --SallyScot 15:23, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

They are boxes that shorten the citation list, providing a scroll bar on the side for scrolling down through the list. Only the shortened box shows on mirrors or printout, so all of the citations are lost. I can't show you an example because there shouldn't be any, but envision a long list of citations where you only see the first five or so, and have to scroll down a box to see the rest. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:35, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

Thanks. I'm wondering if the article really needs a section on this. It seems such an obscure (and seemingly non-existent) issue. It would likely cause more confusion than clarification in the reader's mind. --SallyScot 18:38, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

The question comes up periodically. I think it needs to be written in some guideline for editors to reference, and this seems an appropriate place to have it. Gimmetrow 18:44, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

How would an editor implement scrolling reference lists? I mean, would they even possible? --SallyScot 19:11, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

I don't speak HTML, but those who were using them knew how to do it; all we need to do is tell them to stop doing it :-) SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:29, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
I have seen them around, and removed them.... It can be done (sadly enough). Arnoutf 19:41, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

Okay. I think I understand. It doesn't seem to be anything specific to Footnotes then, or Inline citations for that matter. I mean, the policy then applies to lists of any kind. It would apply as well to a list of full citations - as distinct from footnotes (they're not necessarily the same thing). Anyway, if it's going to stay in, I figured it should be brought up in the section levels, so it's not a subsection of Footnotes or Inline citations. Thanks. --SallyScot 20:22, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Which browser doesn't it work in? It works in Mozilla, Internet Explorer and Opera. I am not aware that it doesn't work in some. Its one of the most basic HTML tags. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) 20:48, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
Because of its original section title and placing in the article I thought scrolling reference lists may have perhaps been implying the use of some esoteric template (e.g. some scrolling template variation of <references/>). But it seems as if it's really more of a point about scrolling lists in general. I'd therefore assume that it has more to do with html implementations of scrolling text (of any kind). Something like e.g. <div style="height: 256px; overflow:auto"> may actually be quite robust in terms of which browsers it works in (I don't know I haven't looked into it that much). I would say that the article should argue against scrolling lists in legitimate terms though. Concerns over readability and printing still stand, but perhaps the argument of browser compatibility is being overstated. --SallyScot 19:52, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
I think the readability and printing always were the main arguments. Arnoutf 20:42, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
This issue is addressed in WP:CITE#Scrolling lists but it may need to be more prominently covered. ElKevbo is working to remove them from the FAs and has taken out a dozen so far. KnightLago 02:12, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Combined references and footnotes

In compiling references and footnote citations in combination with article-wide references that can only be shown in bullet points, I've taken a liking to a compact method which lists everything under a References section, and a separation header in bold (but not a subsection) indicating the beginning of the footnotes. It looks like this: (an in situ example here)

<div class="references-small">
* references too article generic for spot cites  
<references />

For me, activating Footnotes as a TOC element produces overwhelmingly large types and is just an unnecessary obvious and obtrusive element in the TOC. Not sure where, I've seen this method applied someplace and adapted it, thinking it in line with the WP guidelines and policies.

On making such an edit, I've recently been reverted on sight with adamant comment that this violates policy of WP:CITE and WP:LAYOUT, and it apparently it doesn't even warrant discussion. Since I interpret these guideline pages as fairly flexible, offering options and such, I'd very much appreciate a few words of explanation. Am I plain wrong and should undo all these reference sections? MURGH disc. 12:17, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

In that case, could one not just have "General references"? Or "General reading" (or "Further reading", though the last might imply that these sources were not directly used)? There is a very simple solution to all this, I think: simply include all books, cited or not, in the "References" book list. The reader will assume that all the books have been used as references for the article, even if some are not specifically cited in the footnotes. Voila.qp10qp 12:51, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
I would revert on sight too, on the basis that anything that serves as a heading must be marked up as a heading, otherwise it will not appear in the table of contents. Markup everything as what it is, and if you don't care for the appearance, petition the developers to improve the appearance. --Gerry Ashton 12:55, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
OK, if it is so, that the TOC appearance is mandatory, I didn't know that. A visual result that wouldn't bother me is reached by "downgrading" the subsection level, by using:
It appears exactly same in the TOC but doesn't blow away the actual reference material. Is this contrary to the guidelines? MURGH disc. 13:23, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm missing the point here, I guess - having both a "Notes" section (that's the preferred name, last I looked) for footnotes, and a "References" section for article-wide sources, results in all of two headings at the bottom of the TOC. That doesn't seem particularly intrusive to me. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 13:16, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
I suppose this is at the heart of my question, between "Notes" and "'References" and "Notes and references" all widely accepted, within the understanding of "not set in stone and should be treated with common sense and the occasional exception", "all of two headings" can have the appearance of tabloid newspaper headlines with the unfortunate effect of occulting the actual material presented. The format I was using goes against easy, understandable use for the wikipedia reader? MURGH disc. 13:57, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
The references section should not contain footnotes. One confusing issue is that the tag that generates footnotes is called <references/> - it should have been called <footnotes/>. I don't see how having two lines in the TOC instead of one obscures material - can you explain that in more detail? — Carl (CBM · talk) 14:09, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
No, I didn't mean that anything is obscured in the TOC, that is just my feeling of redundancy. The disproportionate layout occurs below, when the references become glorified ELs, in addition to regular ELs, like this. I'd think when a user wishes to see references, she would expect to see generic and specific references collected, but this is my ignorance of the faux pas of references containing footnotes, and in part probably a result of the <ref> issue you mention. MURGH disc. 14:56, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, the Will Eisner article does have some issues. This is a common problem in pop culture articles. Is it true that everything in the "references" secton of that article is either listed in the notes section or the external links section? If so, I would just move the bibliographic info for references to the notes section, delete the references section altogether, and name the notes section "Notes and references". That would give a more attractive layout. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:05, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

On lesson learned and final advice

Thanks for the constructive comments. A few final responses on what I've taken from this would be appreciated, so I may move on in accord with guidelines and don't unnecessarily add to the workload of fellow wikipedians:

It is a little disturbing that simply supplementing a section heading "References" with template {{Reflist}} is inappropriate, because it seems very widespread. Since so many of the articles I edit require a combination of spot citations and article-wide references (publication dates and bibliographies) I've noticed a method used by a frequent GA-building editor, that I quite like and have started to use. In editmode it looks like this:

* references too article generic for spot cites  

Here is an example in situ. What do people think about this? OK or revert on sight? MURGH disc. 14:06, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

I would change ;Footnotes to ===Endnotes===. My reasons are
  1. It is used as a subheading, so should be marked up as such
  2. Since our articles are always one logical page, but may print as several paper pages, our notes are more similar to Endnotes than to Footnotes; we might as well call them what they really are. --Gerry Ashton 16:12, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

Scrollbox references

I think that people who read the today's featured article, sometimes get a bit intimidated with the extra size that the references section adds to the page, so i suggest publishing thme in scrollboxes, as this would condense the size of articles and make seem more coherent. An issue was raised that the references wouldnt print, but most people dont print off wikipedia and would certainly not wanan print off a reference, unless checkin an FAC. But most people just quote wiki in essays and stuff, so i say bring on the scrollboxes --Hadseys 22:16, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

This matter was discussed two sections above this one; if you want to continue that discussion, please do so, above, rather than starting it over again. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 22:28, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

When 'Further reading' may link to non-free sources

In the field of EDA (Electronic Design Automation), almost all of the material is published by the ACM or the IEEE, and is not free. So if you want to do any further reading on these topics, you will want to consult these libraries. (To show how dominant these sources are, 5 of the 6 cites are to these libraries in the article Routing (EDA), and in the referenced book chapter, 50 of 53 are from these sources.) So I added a note to the 'further reading' section stating that if you want more information, you may want to look at these libraries, with a note that they are not free. See the pages Routing (EDA) or Placement (EDA) for examples.

However, editor User:TeamX believes that refering the user to such sources is advertisements or spam, since they are not free.

This appears to be a conflict between two desirable attributes. On the one hand, under the purpose of further reading:

This also makes it easier for users to identify all the major recommended resources on a topic.

and the IEEE and the ACM are certainly major recommended resources. On the other hand, under "links normally to be avoided", the guidelines state:

Links to sites that require payment or registration to view the relevant content

In my mind, although free is certainly better than non-free, the first objective should be to direct the reader to the relevent material. Note that there is absolutely no controversy over pointing to a book in the 'further reading' section, even though most books cost money. (And just like books, the IEEE and ACM journals are available in many libraries - so you can view them for free if you visit such an library.)

What do others think? Thanks, LouScheffer 04:58, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

Almost no academic journals / conference proceeding are free; neither are books. Yes they are partially commercial links (the publishers make money this way). I do think however IEEE and ACM (and for that matter all academic paper publishers) are not spam linking. Perhaps we could have a minimum requirement that when in doubt the further reading source needs to be notable; and accepted by the academic community. (both ACM and IEEE would fulfill both these requirements). Arnoutf 10:44, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
In my reaction about this issue on TeamX's talk page I already pointed out that I don't regard references to well established institutions like IEEE and ACM as spam. These happen to be the main sources for academic information and the fact that this is not for free doesn't make a reference to it just another commercial advertisement. And the same applies for referencing to books that have to be payed for as well. Of course we might try to find a waterproof formulation for what is allowed and what isn't, but on the other side we might also apply the rules with some level of common sense. WimdeValk 20:29, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
The IEEE and ACM aren't for-a-fee websites, they're professional organizations and publishers of well-respected journals, and the IEEE is also a standards body. They're both perfectly reasonable (indeed, often authoritative) sources of references and additional information. There's a significant difference between such groups and, for example, a newspaper website that charges for access to its articles. RossPatterson 20:53, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

It would be disastrous for the technical content of WP to have to avoid not-available-free-online academic publishers in references or additional reading. And many university public libraries provide that material, for free, to anyone who walks in. However, I think a pointer to the whole ACM digital library, for a specific topic such as EDA, is overbroad. A better link would be to the ACM or IEEE conferences and journals that cover that specific topic. (I haven't looked at the changes to the EDA article, so maybe that's already what was there. If so, just a point of clarification.) —David Eppstein 20:59, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

I think there is a big difference between providing a for-fee link for a citation and providing one for further reading. External links for further reading fall under the external links guideline, not this one. With further reading books it's generally considered inappropriate to add a link to a bookshop - we provide the ISBN and other details so readers can find these materials in their preferred manner - through a library for instance. Is there a reason why a similar line can't be taken on things like journals? -- SiobhanHansa 21:22, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
The general procedure for further reading is this (others, please correct if I over-generalize). First, find an interesting article. IEEE and ACM libraries have searches and will show you the abstract for free, and Google scholar will search the full text and show a snippet. (I personally find the abstract much more useful, but google scholar covers a wider variety of sources.) Then if the article looks promising, you can try a web search (sometimes the author can keep a free copy on their personal web site - some societies allow this, and some not). Usually you won't find it, and now you have a few choices:
  • Physically go to a library, then view it for free. Using the journal or conference name, or the ISBN for conference proceedings, you usually tell from the library web site if they have the object of your desires.
  • Buy it from the ACM or IEEE. Lots of universities and companies have site licenses, so this may or may not be easy/free.
  • Use any number of library services that will find it, scan it, and send it to you (for a fee, of course).
It's not clear to me how to make this as vendor-free as ISBN searches, but maybe someone sees how to do this...LouScheffer 23:02, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
Just to amend LouScheffer. Authors are sometimes allowed to have the pdf on their website (depends on the journal), but you can trust to keep the author to keep a pdf of the article on his/her files. It is perfectly allowed to request a reprint from the author (the e-mail is usually given with the article information); most authors will be happy to send you the pdf (I am usually honoured when I get reprint requests myself). However, many academics change jobs and e-mails frequently, most are very busy, so be polite, only ask for an article you are really interested in, and don't be offended if it is not send; the author maybe too busy, or may have mislaid the pdf (especially if the paper is a bit older). Just see this as an additional option if all else fails. Cheers Arnoutf 10:05, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
Good point - I added this advice to the template. LouScheffer 16:05, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

Here are a list of issues with this template:

1) Redundancy in the template, example: "One major source of additional detail on this subject ([SUBJECT]) is the technical literature". This sentance is not needed.

2) The journals listed are not always the most appropriate for each subject. There are only two listed. As an example, the subject of ATPG is better covered by IEEE's Design and Test publication. This template is not flexible enough to modify it for every subject.

3) The template adds no new information at almost 200 words long - it has been placed on several subjects.

4) The template is better incorporated as text under the topic of Electronic Design Automation since it is a 'general' reference and a specific reference for the topic.

5) It suggests to the reader to coax the author into breaking IEEE rules of publication. The last sentence is "As a last resort, a polite email to the author will sometimes yield a copy". IEEE requires payment for many of these publications and does not grant the author permession to provide a "free" copy in response to an email request.

6) Specific references are much more valuable and appropriate.

7) Wikipedia guidelines state that external link to fee-based sites are not allowed.

8) The "Reference" section and "Further Reading" section is not meant to be an education on guiding the reader to 'general' reference sources. Example: each medical topics does not have a 200 word template describing good general sources for further medical reading.

)) Solution: Move the discussion about sources in the Eletronic design automation, the make sure the EDA topics have Electronic Design Automation in the "See Also" section.

One other note. I appreciate that the author is help guide readers who are completely unfamiliar with the topic. But in doing it with the template with a repeatative 191 words across many topics is not the correct method and breaks guidelines.

TeamX (talk) 00:09, 23 November 2007 (UTC)

Periods at the end of references

Harvard references that are listed at the end of the article should have periods at the end of them. However, in this guide, speciifcally in the sections 'Short footnotes with alphabetized full citations' and 'Footnotes,' there are no periods at the end of the examples given. So this footnote: (Miller 2005, p.23) should be: (Miller 2005, p.23.) I am not suggesting the period be used in in-text footnotes, but rather ones placed at the bottom of the page. All the citation guides I have looked at confirms the period at the end of footnotes, so I'd like to change the examples and add a period to the end. Zeus1234 10:52, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

Problems (error in source) with citations

Have not heard back yet on my Email to Wikipedia. There's another "problem with citation" which is not dealt with, which is, what happens when a source is in error and the error has been confirmed with the author? That should be included as well, it does happen. If there's a specific policy out there already, I haven't found it, and it's not for want of searching. PētersV 14:49, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

The website of an author who is "an established expert on the topic" (WP:RS) can be used, so if the author can be pursuaded to publish the correction on his/her website, that would suffice. Even better would be to have the correction published on the publisher's web site. --Gerry Ashton 16:59, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
The author himself does not have a site. I have in the meantime contacted the publisher to find out if they have any sort of online "errata" compendium. No word back yet from either WP or the publisher. PētersV 18:13, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

Addition to help new users

There was a suggested addition to this guideline to help new users which I think makes a lot of sense. Since new users often have trouble with the complicated (and possibly bewildering) citation guidelines, why not say something in a prominent location like "If you find this confusing, feel free to cite your sources however you want! Someone will fix up the formatting later as long as you provide a complete citation to the sources you used." JoshuaZ 13:52, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

There was already this in the lead...
If you do not know how to format the citation, provide as much information as you can; others can remove unneeded information, but can't fabricate information to make up a deficient citation.
I've copied this so it's now repeated in the How to cite sources section introduction. --SallyScot 18:54, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Propose to drop mention of External links section for just Further reading

I think it is time to depreciate the "External links" name for the section and only recommend the alternative named of "Further reading". To keep the discussion centralised please join the discussion over on Wikipedia talk:Guide to layout#Propose to change External links section to Further reading --Philip Baird Shearer 01:23, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

citing notes

How do you cite a note by an editor or translator of a book by someone else? Two somewhat different examples that I've guessed at are in Carmen (novella) (reference by Martineau) and Madagascar Serpent-eagle (Fisher and Higgins). I'll be grateful for an explanation or a pointer to one. —JerryFriedman 06:41, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

I would suggest that, generally speaking, the citation should include the footnote as part of the page number. For example:
Smith, All About Citations, 2005, p.27fn34.

If the work provides the explanatory material as an endnote rather than footnote on the bottom of the page, you still cite as above. The important thing is to find the foot/end note on page 27, and then know which note it is (#34). Not that endnote #34 occurs on page 768 at the end of the book or article. - Tim1965 (talk) 22:37, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

Best reference format to use

Hi, I see there are (at least) 3 formats in use for references; inline, Harvard, or just putting an external link or bookref next to each fact. Seems to me from the other threads here that inline (with a list at the bottom) is the consensus choice - is that right? Jamieeeeeeeeeeee (talk) 10:56, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

No. Harvard, at least, is equally acceptable. Christopher Parham (talk) 00:51, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Reference section names

There is an overall lack of current consensus as to established 'best practice' at the moment. Further efforts could be made in this area.

Arguably, part of the problem lies in the bewilderment of terminology. For example, it might seem more easygoing to suggest that a footnotes section can be called either Notes, Footnotes, or References (or Endnotes even), but in practice I think it just adds to the confusion.

The difficulty would be in actually establishing such consensus though.

My preference would be to call a section generated by <references/> tag, who's content is determined by the what's inside <ref> tags in the article, simply, References.

In earlier discussion however it has been argued that the References section should not contain footnotes. Carl said - "One confusing issue is that the tag that generates footnotes is called <references/> - it should have been called <footnotes/>." - (CBM • talk) (14:09, 30 October 2007).

I'd go along with this if indeed there was a <footnotes/> generating tag (who's content was determined by what's inside <foot> tags in the article, say). But as it is I think it would be clearer to label such a section References.

Then I would say that a separate section that lists full citations, using Citation templates for example, would best be called, simply, Citations.

But if you look at yesterday's (Nov 19th, 2007) featured article, for example, you'll see that it has what I'd call References labeled as Citations and what I'd call Citations labeled as References. This approach seems rather counterintuitive to me. I'm not saying that article looks bad, but there is a lack of a consistent overall approach for sure.

My preference would be to try and establish an intuitive and straightforward 'best practice' naming consensus. And I'd suggest approaching this with regard to what the said sections actually contained, including consideration of the current syntax (e.g. such as the <ref> tags currently used).

--SallyScot (talk) 20:00, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

I don't know, that article seems fairly intuitive to me. One list contains a list of works to which the author referred in writing the piece ("References"), and the other contains instances in which the author actually cites those works in order to substantiate the content of the piece ("Citations"). Christopher Parham (talk) 00:56, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
I don't want the "References" section to be the one that uses the <references> (or {{reflist}}) markup, I want it to be the one that contains the list of references. We should be structuring things so they make sense to article readers, not to article editors, if there is a conflict between the two. For the same reason, if I am using ref-references style markup, with citations and other footnote-like material within the ref tags but the actual list of references elsewhere, I'd prefer to call the section containing the reflist tag "Notes" rather than something else, because that describes how it should be interpreted by the readers. I don't see what's so confusing about that. —David Eppstein (talk) 01:47, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
This style-guideline page and the guideline page Wikipedia:Guide to layout both address this issue. Unfortunately, the two seem to be in a continual state of disagreement. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 03:11, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree that the featured article looks fine, but aren't the terms "References" and "Citations" fairly synonymous? Another way of putting it might be that one section contains a full list of cited works from which the author(s) sourced their writing of the article ("Citations"), and the other contains specific instances in which the author(s) actually refer the reader to those works in order to substantiate the content of the article ("References"). In other words, it makes exactly the same sense put the other way around. --SallyScot (talk) 13:59, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Maybe there is different jargon in different fields. In the field I'm in (math), references are published works and we cite those references in the papers we write. So the article Sophie Blanchard matches our usage of the terms. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:37, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
Total consistency is perhaps impossible owing to the different size and scope of articles. I think short articles should mix the notes and references together and have no separate list of referenced books. Here's an example of an article culled from a few pages of one book: Bruno Liljefors: two sections would seem over the top here. Where the bibliography would be enormous, it is also sometimes necessary (though unsatisfactory) to combine notes and references: for example at William Shakespeare, where a hybrid system is used. For the average article, I think it makes sense to separate the notes from the alphabetical list of books. These days, I favour a "notes and references" section, followed by a bibliography. I've stopped adding "further reading" sections and add those books to the bibliography. qp10qp (talk) 16:14, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

I'm happy to go with such a definition, i.e. that references are published works and we cite those references in the article. However, if this is agreed best practice, then the existing <ref> and <reference /> tags are definitely not best named. I realise it's a big ask to get such things changed, but ideally, perhaps we'd ultimately be better off with the development and use of <cite> and <citations /> tags instead.

Also, if you look at what the Sophie Blanchard article has done with its Notes section, complimentary <nb> and <notes /> tags, which generated separate [a][b][c] (etc) style tagged notes would really seal the deal (automatic tagging with roman numerals rather than a,b,c would be another option). Such separate notes could more easily support narrative asides and make them quite distinct from citations Otherwise, hard coding such tagged notes (as done in that article) is the only way to achieve this effect (consequently potentially tricky to maintain proper sequence with the addition of any further notes in future edits).

In any case, I think the Citing sources project page here could do with some further updating. It has a section entitled "Full citations" which is in effect asking for full reference details, and saying that these should go in a "References" section. It would be clearer then if the section itself were called "Full references" and subsequent article wording changed accordingly.

--SallyScot (talk) 17:31, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Two notes on usability

Embedded links

These break the connection between the place a link is used and the full citation, which is not only a problem for editors, but perhaps more so for readers, since they can't simply click their way to the full citation. I propose to drop this citation method entirely. -- Shinobu (talk) 19:32, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree, embedded links as inline citations should at least be discouraged. --SallyScot (talk) 20:07, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Short footnotes with alphabetized full citations

I've seen an article which actually uses this, and it sucks. If you want to know where something is cited, first you click on the [#], as usual, and then you have to manually plough your way through the list searching for the citation. The example in the article doesn't at all illustrate what happens when the list of citations gets long. -- Shinobu (talk) 19:32, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

The short references can (and should) be linked to the full citations. The example has this. For an example with a long list of citations see the Salvia divinorum article. --SallyScot (talk) 20:07, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

That is certainly better, although it's still a bit clumsy compared to direct referencing. Perhaps I'll fix the article later today. As for the direct linking, how long do we wait for protests before changing WP:REF? I don't actually think there will be any protests, considering that a obviously better alternative (ref tags) exists, but still, it'd be better not to just change stuff without giving people a chance to have their say, even if said people probably don't care or agree. Shinobu (talk) 11:04, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Is the retrieval date always necessary?

This guideline states that a full citations should include the "date you retrieved it if it is online." But is this really necessary for a page that is clearly dated and unlikely to change, for example, an online version of a printed article from a newspaper or magazine, or an old blog post? I only ask because, to me, it clutters up the reference lists and is kind of annoying to see random retrieval dates for online documents that aren't likely to ever change. I understand the purpose for web pages that are typically updated, like wiki pages or pages about information which changes on a regular basis, but for typically "constant" pages which are clearly dated, is it reasonable to omit the retrieval date? DHowell (talk) 03:06, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

On-line articles are constantly changing. In your examples the content will probably not change, but old material is often simply removed, or the content is moved to a different location. So, date of retrieval is always useful. We could argue that it's not necessary as long as the cited material is still there, but it will be the day it's gone. An online version of a printed article is not the primary source, so in such cases it is more important to specify actual date or issue of the publication (and its name), author and/or title of the article, page number, etc. Oceanh (talk) 04:04, 22 November 2007 (UTC).
Retrieval date is a standard part of "works cited" today. The retrieval date makes it easier to find the right historical version. I once really puzzled over some data in a wiki article cited to the bio page of the subject's commercial site. It seemed very specific and AFAICT correct, but it wasn't on the subject's page. I thought maybe it was mis-cited. Eventually I looked through the page history, determined when the sentence was added, and found through that the data *had been* on the subject's page when the wiki edit was made. So yes, the access date *could* be determined from edit history, but it's really inconvenient. Ideally, all relevant info should be provided with a cite. Gimmetrow 04:15, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Oceanh and Gimmetrow, and note that I've spent hours working on locating and replacing dead links on WP:FARs, and the retrieval dates are sorely needed. There is one situation I know of when they aren't needed. PubMed is an NIH-indexed database of the abstracts only of all medical journal-published research. A PMID entry gives all of the information necessary to locate the actual journal-published article in a library (article title, authors, journal, volume, issue, page nos, etc). PMID information is never going to change; it merely points you to the journal, which is already given in the citation. Per WP:MEDMOS, retrieval dates are not needed on PMIDs. See Autism, Asperger syndrome, and Tourette syndrome to understand how PMIDs work. You'll see on those articles that, even if the PMIDs went dead someday, the actual citation gives you everything you need, and the PMID is just an extra. On the other hand, newspaper article URLs frequently change. Also, a PMID is not a link to the actual article; it's a link to an abstract (typically one paragraph) of the article. Sometimes you get lucky, and a PMID links to a free full-text article (PMID 12946972). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:28, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
I agree. To keep it simple I would state each and any source on the internet requires a date of access. If you do not want to provide that, refer to a printed source. This is the only way to keep the references good (similar things are required for most reference styles in scientific journal). Pubmed (or other database site - e.g. Scopus) abstracts are in general not really satisfactory as source for full article; as the articles conclusion may pose caveats not in the abstract. Anyway, these sites refer to a printed article anyway, so why not cite that? Arnoutf (talk) 21:15, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
Ok, if I am citing a printed source, but linking to an online version of that printed source, do I need to give the retrieval date? DHowell (talk) 11:16, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

Multiple citations

I want to create multiple citations instead of having to write the source over and over again (for example <ref name="">). Yet, when I do this it comes up with “Cite error 8: no text given”. Help! Cinefile81 (talk) 06:03, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

One reference should look like <ref name=something>Some text</ref>, and the others should look like <ref name=something />. Error 8 usually happens either because the re-uses don't have a / at the end, or somewhere else in the page a ref tag isn't closed with a </ref>. Gimmetrow 07:06, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
If you can't figure it out, give us a link to the article so we can look. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:30, 22 November 2007 (UTC)


There is an effort to move links from websites to links to articles at Webcite, which appears to be storing copies of webarticles. Has this been discussed before? What is Wikipedia policy. It wants to be an archival site, but what is its relationship to Wikipedia? --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) 07:25, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

If you will check WP:REF#Tools, Webcite is the first tool recommended, which is a free archive by editors & publishers to prevent losing links in citations that may well be taken down. There is also, but it doesn't seem to have Wikipedia endorsement.
WebCite was mentioned in the Wikipedia_talk:Citing_sources#Quotes_in_references discussion by another editor:
Seeing quotes in situ in Wikipedia references is not the best way to ensure the information is quoted accurately. A better way, certainly more verifiable, is to refer to a properly archived version.
And you don't need to simply hope it'll be findable in some Internet archive at some later date either. WebCite allows you to preempt the possibility of future page deletion with its archive form -
This page allows you to submit URLs for archiving with WebCite. The contents of pages requested will be archived, including any inline images and / or media (up to a maximum size). As part of the archiving process, an e-mail will be sent to your address (as specified), giving a unique archive URL that can be used to access the content, which you can then use in your Wikipedia article reference.
Wildhartlivie 09:39, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Didn't you carefully explain to me that hosting webcontent without the authors permission is not allowed, and violated copyright? You explained it here: Talk:Dan_Antonioli. You said the 9th District Court disallowed it in Google vs. Perfect 10. How is this different? Or did I misunderstand your argument. It appears that instead of Wikipedia hosting a few sentences of copyrighted material, now Webcite is hosting whole webpages of copyrighted material. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) 19:14, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm neither endorsing or condemning use of the tool, I'm answering the question you posed, which was whether it had been discussed, Wikipedia's policy on it and its relationship to Wikipedia. Since Wikipedia is endorsing an archive site by making it a recommended tool to use for preserving brittle urls, one would first assume that the copyright issues inherent in the archiving have been either addressed or implied. In fact, WebCite content is licensed under the Creative Commons license, which allows for the non-commercial archiving of web-related content in this manner. I requested an archive back-up of a couple citations recently, mostly because they both seemed a little bit tenuous as far as longevity was concerned. I didn't realize that the citations template, which contains both the original url and the archived url, replaces the original when one uses the link in the citation. However, both are available on a diff of the edits where an archived url citation is added. Wildhartlivie 05:09, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
Just to be clear - WebCite has almost no content of it's own, and that's all that is under the Creative Commons license. Here's what they have to say about it:

WebCite Legal and Copyright Information
Except as described below, all content on the WebCite website is licensed under a Creative Commons license, described in detail here.
Copyright and license for all content archived by the WebCite system are retained by the original authors of the archived pages. If you are the author of such a page, and would like its content removed, please contact us.
The term WebCite is a registered trademark.

Anything archived at WebCite remains under whatever restrictions it was originally under. RossPatterson 02:47, 7 November 2007 (UTC)


With regard to (aka the 'Wayback Machine'). - As far I can tell, from reading the site's detail such as its FAQs, it does not seem to be geared toward responding to requests for the archiving of individual web pages. The 'Wayback Machine' seems to treat submissions as requests to archive whole websites rather than just individual pages. An archive request made there will be added to a list for their web crawling programs to pick up, which they say should happen within a couple of days. However, it may take months from such a request being submitted before the website actually appears in the archive.

By contrast, Webcite is geared up for archiving specific pages more interactively. As well as a confirming e-mail, submission of a successful request via the archive form - - results an immediate onscreen message advising you of the archive URL there and then. - So in that case you're ready to use it straight away.

The 'Wayback Machine' is worth a look though. In particular as, aside from any individual requests, it automatically 'crawls' the web on its own. - So, apart from fairly new and 'uncrawled' pages, there's the possibility that an archive version will already exist for any given page. You may wish to check before going to Webcite.

If you use some of specific citation templates such as {{cite web}} or {{cite news}} with both the original URL and archive URL (archiveurl+ archivedate) parameters set, then the resulting format should include both. Using {{cite web}} for example,

*{{cite web | last = Reboletti | first = Rep. Dennis | year = 2007 | month = Mar | title = Reboletti Passes First Bill, Bans "Magic Mint" | publisher = Illinois State Representative Dennis M. Reboletti (R) 46th District | url = | archiveurl = | archivedate= 2007-06-08 | accessdate = 2007-06-08 }}


Both the specific template {{cite journal}} and the generic template {{Citation}} don't support archiveurl parameters however. It may be that you'd expect formal journal citations to have associated identifiers such as PMID and DOI anyway.

Personally, depending on the suspected fragility of the link, I think it's okay to include the archive URL initially only as <!--comment-->, as an 'insurance' if you will. In other words, should the original link indeed disappear at some future point in time then the comment delimiters can be removed and the backup archive link brought fully into play.

--SallyScot 16:57, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

To sumarise: WebCite is an archiving system for webreferences (cited webpages and websites), which can be used by editors to ensure that cited web material will remain available to readers in the future. You do not have to be the author or publisher of the material in order to cite it.

--SallyScot (talk) 22:09, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

SallyScott wrote "[WebCite] can be used by editors to ensure that cited web material will remain available...." Um, not if you mean Wikipedia editor (unless the Wikipedia editor has authority to submit the page to WebCite independent of his/her status as a Wikipedia editor). She also wrote "You do not have to be the author or publisher of the material in order to cite it." True, after someone with proper authority caused the material to be archived by WebCite, anyone can cite the material at the WebCite location. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 22:32, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

Gerry Ashtonn wrote "[...]unless the Wikipedia editor has authority to submit the page to WebCite independent of his/her status as a Wikipedia editor". Um, can she say what she means by authority? WebCite's own page says - WebCite® is an entirely free service for authors who want to cite webmaterial, regardless of what publication they are writing for (even if they are not listed as members). --SallyScot (talk) 23:06, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

Reading WebCite's home page more carefully, they do seem to be saying that the author citing the work to be archived may initiate the archive process, without permission of the copyright holder of the work about to be archived. I think WebCite is wrong about that, except when the material copied qualifies under fair use. (P.S.: SallyScot's guess about my gender was incorrect.) --Gerry Ashton (talk) 23:32, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

Here's some food for thought: What is unique about WebCite that makes copying/archiving with WebCite not a copyright violation? I don't see that being addressed here and until it is addressed, I'm not certain that we should have added material to the policy advising this course of action. While wholesale archiving like the Internet Archive may be permissible, is anonymously initiated archiving a possible violation? Shell babelfish 21:52, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

The Internet Archive also removes content upon request from the owner, as far as I know. If WebCite does this it's unclear whether the service is really valuable, and if it doesn't I think there are serious copyright issues. Christopher Parham (talk) 02:26, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
They have a FAQ which briefly gives their take on copyright issues. They say "WebCite® honors robot exclusion standards, as well as no-cache and no-archive tags. Please contact us if you are the copyright owner of an archived webpage which you want to have removed."
They also imply that a recent U.S. court decision that ruled in favor of some of the caching that Google does applies to them. I don't feel qualified to say if it really applies or not. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 04:28, 30 November 2007 (UTC)


For the benefit of those following this discussion, the advice I'd like to include about WebCite can be seen in this previous revision (for example).

At the time of this discussion post, the new section that I've been trying to add has been reverted four times.

I don't want it to start looking like an intractable edit war, but the arguments that have been raised so far do not really stand up.

The objections about having appropriate authority to submit the page to WebCite and those of copyright concerns are based upon misunderstandings, which have been dealt with.

I can appreciate wanting to err on the side of caution, but if you look at the WebCite Consortium's Frequently Asked Questions page on the subject, along with the Creative Commons license itself, it's quite clear that the circumstances we are talking about fall under fair use criteria. From WebCite's FAQs:

"…Fair use is even more obvious in the case of WebCite® than for Google, as Google uses a “shotgun” approach, whereas WebCite® archives selectively only material that is relevant for scholarly work. Fair use is therefore justifiable based on the fair-use principles of purpose (caching constitutes transformative and socially valuable use for the purposes of archiving...)"

The Creative Commons license conditions include considerations of:

• Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in a way that suggests they personally endorse you or your use of the work).
• Non-commercial. You may not use the work for commercial purposes.

This leaves us perhaps with one remaining objection. Christopher Parham suggests that if WebCite removes content upon request from the owner, then "it's unclear whether the service is really valuable". However, I would argue that this is a complete non-sequitur as far a best practice is concerned. The likelihood of an author objecting to WebCite inclusion, and subsequent removal of material at some future point is, I suggest, quite remote. In any case, this simply does not imply that use of WebCite was bad practice in the first place. If it turns out that some author is really determined to delete every trace of their work from the Internet, then, hey, you can only do your best.

I therefore state my intention of reinstating the WebCite advice section to the article, with the welcome invitation of relevant discussion points, further considerations, constructive criticisms and following article re-edits of course.

--SallyScot (talk) 11:45, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

SallyScot's reference to the Creative Commons License is disturbing. It has nothing whatever to do with the issue at hand. If WebCite wants to license the original content they place on their web site with that license, that's their business, and has nothing to do with Wikipedia. They have no authority to apply the Creative Commons License, or any other license, to material that they copy from elsewhere. Only the copyright holder can grant a license. The fact that SallyScot has persistently been unable to grasp this suggests that SallyScot's interpretations of copyright rules are unreliable.
The rational set forth in WebCite's FAQ may be true, but the're not exactly a disinterested party, are they? --Gerry Ashton 15:36, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

My apologies if reference to the Creative Commons license has lead to confusion. Thanks for clarifying. Yes, strictly speaking the license refers to WebCite's own content. I'd say that the listed considerations of attribution and non-commercial use are worth taking into account in any case. It's an overstatement to say they have nothing to with the issue at hand, though I can see how their inclusion could appear misleading. However, I think it's disingenuous to say that I have persistently been unable to grasp the issue and to suggest therefore my interpretations on the matter are unreliable. If you seriously think that WebCite has real copyright concerns then you have to take a look at the article's pre-existing - What to do when a reference link "goes dead" section, as Wikipedia could not then condone the use of any archive site in any context.

WebCite have been going since at least 2003, the Internet Archive since 1996, and search engines such as Google caching since long before that. Just because these parties are not "disinterested" doesn't mean they've been flouting the law all this time. The copyright concerns raised in this discussion so far do not really stand up to reasonable scrutiny.

--SallyScot 18:36, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

Amended revision

An amended edit version, with new reference to copyright concerns and additional advice that an archive version may first be sought on the Internet Archive (using the 'Wayback Machine'), was reverted (01:37, 3 December 2007 by Hu12). From my point of view, the concerns that have been raised have either been dealt with or were anyway insubstantial. Gerry Ashton's point - "The rational set forth in WebCite's FAQ may be true, but they're not exactly a disinterested party, are they?" - can't be taken too seriously. - It's a rhetorical question merely casting aspersions.

Shell babelfish asked - "What is unique about WebCite that makes copying/archiving with WebCite not a copyright violation?" - This question doesn't really make sense. It's more pertinent to ask what's unique about WebCite that would make copying/archiving with WebCite a copyright violation? Search engine caching and the Internet Archive's crawler based approach have already set an archiving precedent. Why would wholesale archiving like the Internet Archive be permissible but individual webpage archiving like WebCite not? - there is no reason - "Fair use is even more obvious in the case of WebCite than for Google, as Google uses a “shotgun” approach, whereas WebCite archives selectively only material that is relevant for scholarly work. Fair use is therefore justifiable based on the fair-use principles of purpose"[11]

The Citing sources project page already contains a section - What to do when a reference link "goes dead" - with longstanding advice (not added by me) - "WebCite allows on-demand prospective archiving and is not crawler-based; i.e. pages are only archived if the author has requested archiving when he cited the piece for the first time, which is highly recommended".

All I'm really suggesting is that it's better to consider archiving before the original link goes dead, rather than crossing your fingers and hoping it'll be retrievable somehow afterwards.

I therefore restate the aim of reinstating new version of Archive advice section to the article, with the welcome invitation of relevant discussion points, further considerations, constructive criticisms and following reworking of course.

--SallyScot 11:45, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

I just came across this dicussion (via a pointer by Gerry on a related Talk page), and I support Sally's addition. In reading over the whole discussion, I have seen no credible argument for why is any more legally risky than any other archiving service, and therefore I see no reason not to include it along with the Web Archive. Based on this, I ask Sally, Hu or anyone else to go back through the edit, and merge in the removed material into the current version. If someone objects, let them speak up now. JesseW, the juggling janitor 00:15, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

References for article sections

This may well have been addressed in one of the several archives for this talk page. There are cases where references apply to an entire section. Is there a consensus on how to represent those? The particular article that triggers this inquiry is 2001-02 UCLA Bruins men's basketball team. Thank you for the input (or referral to a particular archived discussion). --13:31, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

I would suggest that in this case you put a one sentence introduction to the section and place a reference tag after the colon:[1]
--Philip Baird Shearer 14:43, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
How do you do this for an entire section of text? Such as Swedish language#Old Swedish, which appears to be based on a single reference? –panda 18:58, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
I've tended to put a separate footnote-reference at the end of every paragraph. By using named footnotes, you can get a single footnote with multiple references. Not exactly the same thing, but see how I multiply referenced "Scigliano 2007" in Chin Gee Hee. - Jmabel | Talk 02:00, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Google Books as a reference?

Is it acceptable to cite something using a book on Google Books as a source, providing that the link is active and directly linkable? Ekantik talk 18:22, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

Speaking only from my personal experience, I have cited books found in Google Books using {{cite book}}. I listed all of the usual info needed for a book citation, but also included the Google Books link in the url field. –panda 18:48, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the quick response. That's exactly what I've done. The cite template will take care of the general reference in case the link is no longer available. Ekantik talk 19:23, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

How to cite a database or software as a source?

I'd like to cite information from Collegio Football in various college football articles. It's a software package that ships with an updatable database and is filled with stats, history and other information. Is there any issue with citing this as a source? It's used by major media sources as a reference. What's the best way to cite information obtained from there? The URL where the software is available from can be used. I'm assuming the title is 'Collegio Football'. The version number of the database could be provided in the refid field and the access date would be appropriate to include as well. Sophosoft could be listed as the pubisher. What other information would be appropriate?--Rtphokie (talk) 01:24, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Proposed guideline: when presenting interpretations, both original author and interpreter should be cited

When reading Buridan's ass, I came across the quote "If I am asked, whether such an one should not rather be considered an ass than a man", putatively by Spinoza. I would think that "one" should be preceded by "a", not "an". As Spinoza wrote in Latin, it is likely that this is an issue with the translation, rather than the original. But the article makes no mention of what translation is used. I've seen similar incidents before, and they suggest to me that we should adopt the following guideline:

Editors may occasionally wish to make reference to material that has been converted from another form. It may have originally been written in another langauge, transcribed from audio, or otherwise transformed. In such a case, editors are encouraged to, as much as is reasonable, provide both the original and the converted, and the identities of not only the original author but also whoever performed the conversion.

Heqwm (talk) 03:21, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

Regarding your example, a little googling turned up this page, which attributes a translation with the "such an one" wording as "Ethics, by Benedict de Spinoza (1677), Translated from the Latin by R.H.M. Elwes (1883), MTSU Philosophy WebWorks Hypertext Edition © 1997". Regarding your suggestion, it sounds like a reasonable thing to suggest. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 03:52, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
I believe it is standard practice in all academic writing to give credit to the translator. I'm not sure if it's standard practice to give credit to transcribers or stenographers, but it isn't a bad idea. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 04:48, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
In our several Anglo-Saxon history article, Bede is credited in a specific translation. I agree translations should be cited to a specific edition, or if doing a translation when none exist, provide the original phrase (that's what I did in Le Naturaliste Canadien). Circeus (talk) 05:53, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Question: If I translate some text to English, does that mean that I should be credited with making that translation? That would seem odd since anyone with knowledge of that language can check the translation and modify it. It would be similar to listing all editors who have ever modified an article as authors in the article. OTOH, for published translations, I can see how including the translator may be relevant. –panda (talk) 08:36, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
I have two suggestions which I have illustrated using this example from comments above (French) Desmeules, Mélanie (2002). "Les Années chicoutimiennes du Naturaliste canadien". Saguenayensia 44 (3): 19–21. (I presume Mélanie is the translator)
1) When citing a translator, make it clear thus, (French) Desmeules, tr. Mélanie (2002). "Les Années chicoutimiennes du Naturaliste canadien". Saguenayensia 44 (3): 19–21.
2) When translated by a wp editor, say so thus, (French) Desmeules, tr wp editor (2002). "Les Années chicoutimiennes du Naturaliste canadien". Saguenayensia 44 (3): 19–21.
This would make it clear that an orginal work had been translated by a wikipedia editor without the need to change it each time a new slant was put on the original words. It would also remove the temptation to self promote. Abtract (talk) 09:35, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Sounds like a fair idea. Good thinking. Arnoutf (talk) 14:50, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Note this discussion. A guideline like this should probably include items "translated or transcribed", not just translated. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 00:34, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Likely to be Challenged?

It seems this definition is somewhat relative. I understand the unacceptable concept of 'common knowledge' but surely if something is 'widely known' and 'easily verifiable' then the challenge of a single contributor should not invalidate it. There are all sorts of uncited things that are challengable under this criteria just because one person does not know about something. Having just corrected an incorrect entry that was not cited, I corrected it. This correction was then reversed (and made incorrect again) because a citation was not provided for the correction. This in the same paragraph as a totally uncited quote. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Phileadie (talkcontribs) 09:58, 10 December 2007 (UTC)


I must confess I have issues with the current phrasing of the verifiability policy - "Likely to be challenged" - which I find rather weak. I think it simply invites too many edits without references. It encourages laziness as the editor will so often just not bother, thinking - "oh, this is widely known". Phileadie makes a fair point in discussion with Elektrik Blue regarding Orland Airport - "there is a great deal more information on this screen that is far more worthy of reference or challenge than this e.g. 'VS A380 order', 'Plans to build a South Terminal evaporated after 911', 'A380 landed at MCO on Tuesday 14th November (no year)'. The BA A380 order was widely reported, is very clearly in the public domain and easily verifiable through multiple sources (news search, Airbus webside) - surely we are not saying that we have to provide a reference to every piece of information added. If I say 'BA fly to Orlando' or 'It has 23 Gates' do I need to cite this as it is not common knowledge?"

In another discussion on Elektric Blue's talk page 'snowolfD4' wrote - "not everything on Wikipedia has to be cited. If we start blanking entire articles just cos there aren't any citations we'll end up in a fine mess."

But again, I'd have to disagree, and say that many articles are already in a fine mess precisely because the use of references has previously been so lax. So, those other parts, 'VS A380 order', 'Plans to build a South Terminal…' etc, should have indeed included references to news search, Airbus website or wherever the verifying information could be found in the first place.

I'd like to see some change in emphasis from the current - "material that is challenged or likely to be challenged" - to material that is challenged or which could possibly be challenged. - With the challenger usually getting the benefit of any doubt. And my response to those who might say - "well almost anything could possibly be challenged" - would be - "Yes. Quite."

--SallyScot (talk) 11:40, 10 December 2007 (UTC)


Point taken and I certainly have no problem in including citations for everything I add - although I think it will deter some of the more casual contributors. I guess my issue is more with the way in which the standard is applied rather that the actual rule itself. I would suggest material that is challenged or which could reasonably be challenged might be a better definition as most material 'could' be challenged including birth dates, death dates, names etc.

--PhilEadie (talk) 18:27, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

To be honest there are numerous accounts of actors who listed themselves as younger, inofficially changed names, etc. so indeed date of birth and name can sometimes be challenged. I would say that if something is likely to be challenged it should be cited. As soon as it is challenged (e.g. by a good faith fact tag) it is obviously likely to be challenged, and thus the (good faith) request for a (specific) reference should (IMHO) be honoured in (practically) all situation Arnoutf (talk) 18:32, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Citing online encyclopedias

When citing an article in an online encyclopedia, is it sufficient to only state (1) the title of the article and (2) which encyclopedia it came from? Or do you also need to include other info such as the link/URL and access date even if the article can't be accessed unless you've paid for a subscription to the encyclopedia? –panda (talk) 16:39, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

I don't know about the link, but I would include the access date, because the contents could change. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:23, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Template based implementation examples

Comments on template based implementation examples to overcome difficulties with editing due to our non-see-what-you-get editing interface led me to add:

See Category:Specific source templates for some template based implementation examples.

to the page. WAS 4.250 (talk) 18:07, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

A propose for policy modification: Grace period, giving Benefit of the Doubt to new unsourced items

Can we delete an uncited info just immidiatly after its addition or should we have a grace period? I mean if someone added an uncited info, should't we give it the Benefit of the Doubt and wait some time before deleting it? As the current policy for Wikipedia:Citing sources#Unsourced material says we are not obliged to wait or give any time before deleting a new unsourced item. We can put [citation needed] if we want but also we can choose to immidiatly delete an uncourced material if we have a POV as it is douteful. My proposal is for a small set "grace period" (few days) after the addition of a new unsourced material even if it is doutful. Still harmful material can be immidiatly deleted (like info on live people). With current policy as it is, personal POVs would not let other users to see a new material and help to add sources to it. They can decide it is doutful (a fairly vague word) and immidiatly delete it.Farmanesh (talk) 16:17, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

I would support a grace period, but wonder how it would be implemented. Could it be "botted" in some manner (I doubt it, but others may know better than I). My own preference is to add {{fact}} or a more global section template, and then either source the ref myself, or, if not my field, to try to remember to go back and check in (say) a week, at which point I tend to remove, and leave a talk page comment.
For me the ability to give formal support depends on the system that then weeds out the dross. Otherwise the informal system of some editors acting as I do and other editors removing stuff on sight (half pun intended) seems good enough. Fiddle Faddle (talk) 17:47, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
Seductively attractive, especially when it is my uncited information, but impossible in practice. A 7-day moratorium on removing uncited info would be taken by some as a ban on reverting if the original edit contained uncited info (which many do). If anything we need a way of deleting more uncited info which might sharpen up editing. Abtract (talk) 18:10, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
Nicely stated, Abtract. I can't support a fixed time or other moratorium on removing unsourced contested material. It should remain flexible, so editors can make a judgment as to how much time unsourced content can remain. It's nice and polite to leave such content in place with a "fact tag" on it, but immediate removal must remain an option under any circumstance. Dreadstar 18:31, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Removal of {{fact}} tags

I've had experience with the primary editor of an article removing {{fact}} tags (that I added) soon after they were added, without replacing with references because he didn't believe the text needed a reference. However, the tagged text was not common knowledge. Should {{fact}} tags be honored or is it acceptable for editors to ignore and remove them? If it is acceptable to remove them without replacing with a reference, then under what circumstances? –panda (talk) 01:23, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

It is as acceptable to remove them without adding new references as it is to add them to facts that need no additional reference. That is, if you think this other editor's practice should be explicitly banned, look to your own actions as well. —David Eppstein (talk) 01:35, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm not looking for the other editor to be banned. I was just wondering when it is acceptable to remove tags. –panda (talk) 01:41, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
When facts that need no reference are unnecessarily tagged. Without more context, it's difficult to be less general. —David Eppstein (talk) 01:44, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
How about dates/years/centuries of some event, for example, that's not necessarily common knowledge, such as the timespan of the Renaissance period? (Intentionally not the article in question.) Part of the reason I ask is because earlier today I saw someone claim that {{fact}} tags should never be removed without a reference. –panda (talk) 01:54, 15 December 2007 (UTC)


Although I have some issues with the current wording of the policy, i.e. what's meant by the word 'likely' with the idea of material that is likley to be challenged (see above), it seems to be less ambiguous after material actually is challenged. In other words, if you've added the {{fact}} tag, then the material has been, practically by definition, challenged. The material now requires a reference, and you are well within your rights to push for it.

--SallyScot (talk) 13:09, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Very little can be said without knowing the actual situation. Panda, could you provide more detail? — Carl (CBM · talk) 14:58, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
I didn't want to bring up the actual article in case it would create some bias. Anyway, I placed several {{fact}} tags in the Swedish language article, such as this one. In this case, I was looking for a reference for:
  • the year when Finnish territories were lost to Russia (in 1809), since it's not common knowledge
  • "Swedish was the sole administrative language until 1902 as well as the dominant language of culture and education until Finnish independence in 1917." Swedish has never been a majority language in Finland, according to Statistics Finland (in 1900, only 12.89% of the population spoke Swedish [12]), so I found that sentence conflicting.
  • For the years Swedish was a part of the mandatory education in Finland
  • To substantiate that Swedish and Finnish were almost equally used in Helsinki in the early and middle 20th century.
I was not necessarily stating the text was incorrect, I was more interested in seeing references to make the text verifiable. In this particular case, the primary author removed the first {{fact}} tag without replacing it with a reference, and removed all of the text after the first paragraph so that the rest of the tags were removed from that section. The edit summary was "removed irrelevant or unreferenced content".[13] (Personally, I thought much of the removed text was relevant...) –panda (talk) 16:05, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
For the first one, the year the territories were lost, I'd think that a wikilink to an article describing in more detail the conflict or treaty in which this occurred (with proper sources within that other article) would be better than a footnote to a history book. As for the others, removing uncitable claims should always be acceptable. —David Eppstein (talk) 17:40, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
I've always been under the impression that we aren't supposed to use other Wikipedia articles as references...? I have nothing against removing uncited claims, but it's wasn't as if the claims were "uncitable". The time between when I tagged the claims (22:49, 1 December 2007) and when they were removed (01:29, 3 December 2007) was less than 27 hours, which didn't really give other editors the chance to cite the claims. (The claims didn't violate any WP policy where you would want to immediately remove them.) –panda (talk) 18:57, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
My understanding is that we can't use them as sources themselves; e.g., it would be inappropriate to have a reference formatted as a citation to a Wikipedia article, retrieved on such-and-such a date, etc. But it should be ok to use them to point to sources; e.g. if you have a sentence "The Foo province was lost to Russia in 1862, as part of the [[Treaty of Bar]]," and the Treaty of Bar article is properly sourced and includes a sourced description of the loss of the Foo province, then it shouldn't be necessary to also source that description in the Swedish article. Any source you cite is likely to be of marginal relevance for an article about the Swedish language, and anyone wishing to verify that fact should be capable of viewing the linked article and seeing the sources there. I wouldn't be comfortable applying similar reasoning when you have to traverse more than one wikilink to get to the real source, however, and I'm not sure of the extent to which this interpretation is explicitly supported by policy. —David Eppstein (talk) 21:35, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
The policy in question is WP:V, and the words currently contained therein relating to this are, "Articles and posts on Wikipedia should never be used as third-party sources." I've argued that the term "third-party" is confusing in this snippet, but it does make sense if read in the light of other statements in the article which use the term — particularly, "If no reliable, third-party sources can be found for an article topic, Wikipedia should not have an article on it." -- Boracay Bill (talk) 22:52, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Anonymous vandalism

Looking at our edit history, it seems to me, for the sake of the occasional minor grammatical change and the odd reversions of others vandalism (which would get picked up by registered users anyway), anonymous edits are generally more trouble than they're worth here. I've created a table showing anonymous edits from the beginning of October 2007.

In arguments given generally in support of anonymous edits it is claimed for the average Wikipedia article that somewhere around 75% - 80% of anonymous edits are made in good faith and intended to improve the encyclopedia (see perennial discussion topic). This is clearly not the case for Citing Sources project page.

Summarising the edits there are over 100 incidents of anonymous vandalism - and that's with article being semi-protected for six weeks during the period from the beginning of October 2007 to 17th December 2007. There's very little of value otherwise being added anonymously to compensate for this level of vandalism.

I'd have to ask if a project page such as this is a place where we really get much benefit from anonymous edits. Personally, from what I've seen so far, I'd be in favour of permanent semi-protection here.

--SallyScot (talk) 22:34, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

Embedded references

What is the accepted wikpedia policy on external links as references? There seems to be conflict (either explicit or confusion) about what the proper reference style is. If I were to link to an external site as a reference to a fact, is the proper usage to [14] link it with a numbered link, or to put that link with full information inside a <ref> tag so that the link appears in the reflist and only a numbered link to the reflist is placed? I always thought numbered external links (the first way) was discouraged in favoure of reference lists, but Wikipedia:Embedded citations seems to suggest this as the proper way. TheHYPO (talk) 18:49, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Embedded reference are tolerated, but full bibliographical information is better, because if the link goes dead, there will be better clues to help figure out where the information might have moved to, or where to find equivalent information. The full bibliographical information can be included with <ref> tags or with Harvard referencing. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 19:49, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
I've updated the Wikipedia:Embedded citations article to suggest that, because of the difficulties in associating them with their appropriate full references, the use of embedded links for inline citations is not particularly recommended as a method of best practice. --SallyScot (talk) 20:51, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Two questions

First one, I'm citing a short piece that is included in a larger work. Particularly, a piece written by a Norman Jones, that is in a book that has many authors, but is credited as "Edited by so and so". How do I cite the individual author, and not the editor? Second, when the heck is some genius gonna work a page number option into the "ref name" tag? Murderbike (talk) 02:27, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

{{cite book}} ought to do what you want:
{{cite book |chapter=A Short History of Wikipedia Citations |author=Norman Jones |title=The Wikipedia Anthology of Neato Keen Stuff |editor=MurderBike |pages=100-101}} yields:
Norman Jones. "A Short History of Wikipedia Citations". In MurderBike. The Wikipedia Anthology of Neato Keen Stuff. pp. 100–101. 
RossPatterson (talk) 03:20, 21 December 2007 (UTC)