Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 20

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Archive 15 Archive 18 Archive 19 Archive 20 Archive 21 Archive 22 Archive 25

Source code citations?

Can source code or a comment inside source code be used in a citation? To me, It seems like it should definately be okay if its freely open source. But what if I want to cite something... not completely closed but that comes with a piece of software or book that requires purchasing? For instance, library source that are included with Visual Studio. Can this be acceptable or is it not valid because it cannot be checked be "everyone"? AllUltima (talk) 05:39, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Things that must be purchased may be cited; the most common example is books. However, software is often protected not just by copyright, but also by a license agreement, so take care to obey your license agreement. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 05:45, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
Just to amplify what Gerry Ashton said -- Sources must be "available" and being available for purchase is fine. Inserts that come with books are therefore fine. As to license agreements, personally, I wouldn't worry too much about licensing terms for books that are sold on the consumer market: citing to content, factually described, within a license agreement would rarely violate the terms of most such licenses. That said, do be careful about stitching together cited information to form a new argument -- wikipedia doesn't publish original research. --Lquilter (talk) 14:06, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Blacklisted links

This dead link check which I did today turned up several links which it flagged as "Blacklisted link". What is the recommended action here? Could info on the recommended action be added to the project page? -- Boracay Bill (talk) 07:00, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Excessive link length that makes the page scroll horizontally

See reference 2, ^ —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:29, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

External links should usually be named with the method at Help:Link#External links. A very long link like your example should definitely be named. The second best option is to just put it in brackets with no name, producing a numbered link like this: [1]. PrimeHunter (talk) 17:42, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
I hasten to draw attention to the following from the "External links" subsection of this project page: "As with all inline citation methods, a full reference would also be required in a "References" section at the end of the article". -- Boracay Bill (talk) 18:53, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
At least part of that link instructs the browser to highlight the words "friendly" and "fire" in red. If you can find those parameters and eliminate them, you can shorten the link without significantly reducing its effectiveness. --GentlemanGhost (talk) 18:42, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

Citing sources/example style sub-page

Regarding the Wikipedia:Citing sources/example style sub-page, another editor asked on its talk page about its status, but has been unanswered since January. Is the sub-page considered a "style guideline" as well? Or is it an "essay"? Or neither? --GentlemanGhost (talk) 18:35, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

Clarification on author-page

Harvard referencing here refers to the author-date system (Jimbo 2007), and does not mention the author-page system (Jimbo 23). Does this mean the author-page system is forbidden on Wikipedia? Gimmetrow 23:45, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

The article Harvard referencing makes it clear that the page number(s) are included in situations where they are useful. If you wish, you can think of it as the "at least the author-date system". --Gerry Ashton (talk) 01:07, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
If you are talking about footnotes of the form, "Author, page", where the authors refer to the list of references where complete information is found, that format is widely used and acceptable. I haven't seen people doing this in parenthetical references, but I don't think there would be great objections to it. Christopher Parham (talk) 01:11, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
Funny you should say that, but I had objections to it, so that's why I'm asking. Author-page means parenthetical citations of the form (Jimbo 23), where the 23 means p.23 of the work by Jimbo fully specified in the references. Nothing else appears in the parenthetical citation unless needed to distinguish two works by the same author. The year of publication appears in the references. This approach has some benefits over author-year for online work: websites, having no page, are identified by author only. For books, it's basically the "short note" system used in many FAs.
So the question is, does Wikipedia allow only that narrow form of parenthetical citation as described here, or more generally, any parenthetical citation system? Gimmetrow 02:36, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
Looking at the page you seem to be talking about, it seems to be fine except that I do not understand the reason the references are numbered and ordered the way they are -- alpha by author would seem to make more sense if the citations are pointing to an author name. In my experience the how-to examples given on this page should be viewed as indicative examples of acceptable systems rather than an exhaustive collection of the allowed options, and the style used on that page seems to be within the acceptable universe. There are other misconceptions floating about on that page, including the notion that the use of citation templates is a standard practice. Christopher Parham (talk) 02:51, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

New uw template?

I've seen a few times people deleting web sources which go dead and often deleting the information soon after as unsourced! I've just read [2] which says you shouldnt do this.

Could someone put together a user warning template I can use to respond to a user who deletes a dead link without replacing it? Thanks AndrewRT(Talk) 18:31, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

I'd say you're the man for the job, if you feel this is important. I would probably just drop that link on their talk page and ask them to keep it in mind. Christopher Parham (talk) 14:52, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
Done (by some other kind editor!) - see discussion at [3] AndrewRT(Talk) 18:05, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

A bit confused with the citation system, what to do and how to do it?

I'm trying to add references to an article I'm working on and I have difficulties to understand what to do and how to do it at best. After a few investigation about how Wikipedia works with respect to referencing, I'd like to share a few remarks . I apologize in advance if this is redundant with some other parts of the wiki.

  • About the Wikipedia:Citing_sources documentation:
    • I did not find the documentation about {{wikiref}} and {{wikicite}} very clear. It took me a lot of time to understand that the first one is used for refering from the article body to a citation of the reference section and the other one to actually give the text of the reference in the reference section. At the beginning, I thought that one was an obsolete version of the other. I believe that it would help to reformulate the sentence "Links can be created using {{wikiref}} and {{wikicite}} ..." so that it is clear that one is expected in the body of the article and the other in a reference section of the article. The example shown is misleading as it does not show the usage of {{wikiref}}. It should certainly be said somewhere that {{wikiref|id=foo|text=this}} and [[#Reference-foo|this]] are (if I understand correctly) equivalent.
    • Still about {{wikicite}}, an example showing that it can effectively be used in combination with {{citation}} would be helpful I think.
  • As a LaTeX user, I'm used with the BibTeX sytem and I wonder how to do similar things in Wikipedia:
    • The BibTeX system has two properties that I could not find in MediaWiki:
      1. It automatically orders the references in alphabetic order: no need to think about where to put the next reference in the reference list.
      2. It allows sharing of bibliographical notices: the same book, the same article of a journal, the same URL can have its {{citation}} template once for all in a separate repository and all what has to be done in the body of the article is to use a <ref name="the_canonical_identifier_of_the_reference"/>.
    • Of course, this would need some software support from MediaWiki, but we could then imagine the same architecture as it is done for inserting image. If a reference does not already exist in the common pool of references, we shall add it manually to the database (in the same way we already do for images). Then, to make a reference, the editor would simply have to give the identifier that comes with the reference. The selection of the necessary references and the sorting in the page would then take the place at the {{reflist}} template.
    • With such a kind of system, we could get rid of the two-step referencing that links first to a footnote before linking to the actual bibliographical data.
  • Even without going to a system à la BibTeX/LaTeX, can we imagine having a global Wikipedia repository of references (Note: I also asked the question at the village pump and had interesting answers).
    • For instance, some robot could collect and classify all {{citation}} used in pages so that one could easily find the citation that we are looking for and that we know for sure that it is has been used many times already (but where?). This would help also to improve the overall consistency and accuracy of the bibliographic data used in Wikipedia (at least those used several times).
  • Is the {{citation}} template enough general? Here are typical examples:
    • For an article I'm working on, I want to add a reference to a 1958 book by Curry and Feys with two sections by William Craig. This reference is already on the page about Robert Feys but it is plain text and it does not use the {{citation}} template. How can I say with a template that William Craig is an auxiliary author who only wrote two sections?
    • I have a similar problem with the following reference: Girard, Jean-Yves (1987-90). Proof and Types. Translated by and with appendices by Lafont, Yves and Taylor, Paul. Cambridge University Press. How can I explain, using the {{citation}} template that two of the authors only contributed to the translation and to appendices? In BibTeX, there is an optional field note for this kind of thing. It is not the perfect solution as it lacks robustness (it may depend on the actual format used for rendering the citation), but it helps a lot.
  • Finally, why isn't there a similar mechanism of referencing as the Harvard referencing system provides but using a footnote instead of the Harvard (Author, date) format. This would provide another way to avoid the two-step referencing mentioned above. With such a system, each wikicite would provide a number (its position in the list) and each {{wikiref}} would refer to the corresponding number. Hugo Herbelin (talk) 17:59, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
(begin insert) Regarding Brenton, FWICS Frey, Curry, and someone else whose name I cannot read were co-editors. I haven't seen the actual book, but would guess that individual chapters were written by different authors. Perhaps cite a chapter (using {{Citation}}) something like:
Regarding Girard I think you need to append such explanatory notes after closing the body of the {{Citation}} template.
Finally, try looking at the documentation for {{Ref label}} and its companion {{Note label}}, and at Wikipedia:Footnote3. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 01:41, 30 December 2007 (UTC) (end insert)
{{Citation}} is a fairly general citation template. {{Cite book}} is a more specific template. It supports a "coauthors" field and an "others" field. The "others" can work like a note about translators. But, you don't need to use these templates anyway. Just write the reference like you want. As for LaTeX, many editors have asked for a BibTex-like structure, but it doesn't really exist. About the best you can do is use named references as you illustrate above. You just need once instance in the text somewhere that defines what the named reference means. See WP:Footnotes for more detail on that. Gimmetrow 18:29, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
I don't say that BibTeX has only advantages, but being able to have the bibliographic data at only one place is great. By this way, when you add an information you did not have previously (like the ISBN, the DOI, or the exact range of pages for a conference's article), it is changed at every place in the same time.
In the article I was talking about (Curry-Howard), I finally could manage to reuse the uniformity of style that the {{citation}} template provides without losing information: I simply added the missing informations after the citation. That worked because {{citation}} adds no period (note however that the field "other" was not displayed by {{citation}} and I had to add it manually).
At the village pump, I learned that French wikipedia has the "numeric Harvard" style I was talking about. I liked it very much (the example given was [4] but it seems in fact that all pages have the automatic indexation of <ref>'s directly within <references/>).
At the village pump, I also learned about the Zeteo database (for mathematics). It is also very convenient. Shall I consider that using this kind of tools (Zeteo, but also the Reference Wikification tool) is a recommended practice for dealing with citations?


I've expanded the documentation to hopefully better explain how [[#Reference-...]] is effectively an easier to use 'free-format' version of {{wikiref}} template, which hooks up with {{wikicite}}. --SallyScot (talk) 19:22, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. Then, if I follow the example, the recommended form is to use [[#Reference-...]] rather than {{wikiref}}, right?. But I'm still a bit confused because I thought that the advantage of {{wikiref}} over [[#Reference-...]] was that you did not have to know that the internal encoding of a link is the id of the citation prefixed with Reference-. Hugo Herbelin (talk) 21:49, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
The {{wikiref}} template page suggests that the [[#Reference-...]] format is simpler, but I guess it would be up to individual editors if they thought otherwise. I'd say [[#Reference-...]] is simpler because you don't include the parameter names (id=,text=) that way, but really I prefer it for it's flexibility. Using the full {{wikiref}} template obliges the citation to display with brackets, which is fine for Harvard referencing, but you wouldn't want the brackets for short footnote citations with full references. So [[#Reference-...]] is used in the both the examples (i.e. with Harvard referencing and with short footnote citations with full references), showing that the short citations method is essentially the same as Harvard referencing, basically replacing parenthesis with <ref> tags. --SallyScot (talk) 00:59, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Continuing to understand better, but still finding that the Citing sources guideline page can be improved.
Let me try to summarize. I have a new article, I have to choose a reference discipline for it, and I have 4 parameters to take into account:
1. Are the full references scattered in the source of the page or are they gathered in a well delimited part of the source?
2. Do the references appear as footnotes of the form [1] or as text of the form (Miller 2005)?
3. Are the references directly linked to the full reference list or indirectly via a note list, or not linked at all?
4. Do the full reference list support references that are not linked from the body of the article?
Then, I have the choice between 4 citation disciplines which each provides the following features:
Position of references in source Reference style in article Linking to full reference Ability to have non linked references
Harvard referencing all together (Miller 2005) direct yes
short footnote citations with full references all together [1] via note list yes
footnote referencing scattered [1] direct no
embedded links (not recommended) scattered [1] none yes
Is that right?
1. if I want to gather the references alltogether (column 1), {{wikicite}} is what I need.
2. if I want a footnote (column 2), <ref> is what I need and <references/> makes the automatic ordering of the footnotes
3. if I want to directly link to the full reference (column 3), [[#Reference-id| ... ]] is what I need.
Is that right?
Especially, if I want Harvard citation, I use ([[#Reference-id| ... ]]), with parentheses around, for which there is an alias named {{wikiref}}.
Now, can we combine direct links and footnote? If one tries:
The Sun is pretty big [[#Reference-idMiller2005|<sup>[1]</sup>]], however the Moon is not so big [[#Reference-idSmith2006|<sup>[2]</sup>]].
1.{{wikicite|id=idMiller2005|reference=Miller, E (2005). "The Sun", Academic Press.}}</nowiki>
2.{{wikicite|id=idSmith2006|reference=Smith, R (2006). "Size of the Moon", Scientific American, 51(78).}}</nowiki>
Then, it actually produces the correctly linked following text:
The Sun is pretty big[1], however the Moon is not so big[2].
1. Miller, E (2005). "The Sun", Academic Press.
2. Smith, R (2006). "Size of the Moon", Scientific American, 51(78).
That's great, except that numbering has to be done manually, because only <ref>'s know about numbering.
Sorry to be so long, but I'm a newbie who has to choose a referencing style from scratch. That is why I'm trying to understand how the things work. Hugo Herbelin (talk) 11:01, 30 December 2007 (UTC)


You seem to understand it fairly well from what I can see above. Perhaps a version of the summary table you produced could be included on the project page. Yes, the problem with trying to combine direct links and footnotes as you've said at the end is that the numbering would have to be done manually, which could become very difficult to maintain as the article develops in the future. Also, something would have to give in the ordering of the citations and full references. The numbered citations as they appear in the text would have to be numbered non-sequentially to correspond to the alphabetized full references (if the full references are numbered sequentially). Either that or the numbers assigned to alphabetized full references would have to be shown out of order.
e.g. say, "The Sun" were written by Edward Young, and "The Moon" by Robert Brown.
It would either have to go...
The Sun is pretty big,[2] however the Moon is not so big.[1]
1. Brown, R (2006). "Size of the Moon", Scientific American, 51(78).
2. Young, E (2005). "The Sun", Academic Press.
0r, it would have to go...
The Sun is pretty big,[1] however the Moon is not so big.[2]
2. Brown, R (2006). "Size of the Moon", Scientific American, 51(78).
1. Young, E (2005). "The Sun", Academic Press.
--SallyScot (talk) 12:06, 30 December 2007 (UTC)


You can use the table for the project page if you want. Maybe extra columns could be added then, like ability to list the references alphabetically. Hugo Herbelin (talk) 13:11, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

The Harvard referencing templates subsection

This subsection leads off with the following paragraph:

Inline author-date citations can be generated in the article text using {{Harvard citation}} templates. Use of the Harvard citation templates can include an automatic link to the full reference, but only if the full reference uses the {{Citation}} template (and the author last names and year match). Links are not generated to full references using other templates or those written freehand.

I object to the "but only if" clause. Consider the the case envisioned by the paragraph as written:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.{{|Harv|Smith|1943|p=123}}
(and, in endmatter)
  • {{Citation |last=Smith |first=John |title=Lorum ipsum explained |year=1943}}

Or, as I've more usually seen in wikipedia articles, something like:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.<ref>{{Harvnb|Smith|1943|p=123}}</ref>
(and, in endmatter)
<references />)
( this expands as: 1. (Smith 1943, p. 123) — click it )
  • {{Citation |last=Smith |first=John |title=Lorum ipsum explained |year=1943}}
( this expands as *Smith, John (1943), Lorum ipsum explained  )

Or something like:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.{{|Harv|Smith|1943|p=123|Ref=some_made-up_anchor_name}}
(and, in endmatter)
  • {{Citation |last=Smith |first=John |title=Lorum ipsum explained |year=1943 |ref=some_made-up_anchor_name}}

Or any of a number of possible wildly differing cases which are linked in a forward direction by wikilinks and in the reverse direction by the browser's "Back" button. Perhaps something like:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.{{|Harv|Smith|1943|p=123|Ref=some_made-up_anchor_name}}
(and, in endmatter)
  • {{anchor|some_made-up_anchor_name}}Y'all oreally ought to read the book "Lorum ipsum explained" by John Smith. Look for it in your local library. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 00:33, 30 December 2007 (UTC)


I've changed wording of the subsection to which you objected. It now says...

Use of the Harvard citation templates can include an automatic link to the full reference if the full reference uses the {{Citation}} template with matching criteria such as author last name(s) and year.

However, it could be argued that the link keyword originally was automatic. The alternate constructions you've given above are interesting (if perhaps a little esoteric), but mostly ways of manually overriding the automatic link criteria as far as I can see.

--SallyScot (talk) 12:56, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Wikilinks from citations to full references

After thinking about it some more (see discussion above), it seems to me that the stuff about {{wikiref}} and {{wikicite}} was all a bit fussier than needs be.

I'd said that all {{wikicite}} is really is simply a 'wrapper' around the full-format reference with made up id matching that of [[#Reference-...]] so that the link between them works.

Well, if you look at the HTML code that {{wikicite}} generates you can see that's quite literally true. It simply puts <cite> tags around whatever is in the reference parameter and sets up cite's id parameter as "Reference-" plus the id value.

So anyway, I've rewritten this part hopefully to help demystify it somewhat.

--SallyScot (talk) 11:24, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

References template?

Gimmetrow reverted two edits I made a little while back (see this reverting edit), which I thought would be ok. I'm realizing now why I thought this was the normal practice - AWB automatically replaces <references/>reflists with {{reflist}} reflists. If this is not the agreed upon practice, why does AWB automatically replace the old system with the new one? TheHYPO (talk) 01:16, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

AWB is a product of some independent group of editors and you'd have to ask them why they chose to add that feature, but it's not based on any consensus that the template is superior. Christopher Parham (talk) 01:28, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
Funny you should ask, but according to Rich Farmbrough, this feature is removed in current AWB builds but not yet in the release version. Gimmetrow 01:59, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

Subscription links in references

I'm curious as to what others think about providing an external link to a subscription site in a reference. There are some editors who believe that if the "New York Times" (for example) provides an abstract to an article published in 2005 (and the reader has to pay or subscribe to read the full text of the article), the link should nevertheless be made. I would argue this runs afoul of External links#Sites requiring registration. Additionally, while a link might provide full-text access today, it won't in two weeks or six months (thus creating a dead link or subscription link). The issue is not addressed in the guidelines, insofar as I can see. Thoughts? Comments? - Tim1965 (talk) 22:47, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

As stated in the lead of the "External links" guideline, "the subject of this guideline is external links that are not citations of article sources." So if the site is used as a reference, and not just an external link, the "External links" guideline just does not apply. I would say that if the subscription site provides URLs that work for a long time, they should be linked to, so those who decided to buy a subscription should take full advantage of it. If the URLs are only valid for a few weeks, maybe it is just as well not to link. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 22:59, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
Most newspapers (such as the "New York Times," "Chicago Tribune," "Los Angeles Times" and "Washington Post, for example) keep articles available for free to the public only for 14-21 days. The URL then changes, and goes subscription. Subscription links exist for forever (insofar as I can tell). Some argue in favor of verifiability, that any John Doe can write a citation. But providing a link provides verifiability for that citation. My argument is "so does looking it up in the public library." A link is only as good as the person verifying that link. Verifiability is no good if the fact being cited is behind the pay-to-view wall. As for paying for the article, Wikipedia provides ISBN links for books, but doesn't have a system for newspaper or scholarly articles. Should authors be trying to recreate that by providing links? I'm doubtful (there's a similar discussion elsewhere on this Talk page). - Tim1965 (talk) 23:17, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
Wikipedia's ISBN system can't be directly compared to newspaper archive sites, because new and used books can be purchased from many vendors at different prices, while the on-line archives of a newspaper are usually only available through one company. Also, verifiability isn't "no good" if the fact is behind a pay-to-view wall, it's just accessible to fewer readers than if the site were free. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 23:33, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Gerry; you don't seem to be disputing the validity of the sources, and if we are citing the source, we might as well put a link to the most readily available place to find a copy. I can certainly see how many readers would be helped by this practice (e.g. people who already have free access to such archives) but I can't understand how any readers would be harmed. Christopher Parham (talk) 04:04, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
Just for future reference, what should be done when the validity of the sources is disputed? If an editor sees an outlandish statement with subscription-only source, how should it be verified? --Hamitr (talk) 03:08, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Thankfully that's a situation that comes up much more in theory than in reality. With the major newspapers, like the NYT, I personally have access to every issue ever printed for free... so if it's really an issue of what an offline source says, you should be able to find someone who has access to the particular newspaper's archives... although it does become more difficult with smaller regional papers. I would think that in such situations, where the citation is to say, a 20-year-old newspaper article available on microfilm in maybe 5 places worldwide... and this is a worst case scenario... that everyone involved try to find a better source. If that fails, I don't see why you wouldn't be able to call a library that has a copy and ask a librarian to look at the story on microfilm for you and see what it says. This is a problem so rare though that you really just need to figure out a workable solution when and if you find yourself in the situation. Ultimately, we need to be able to cite offline (or subscription only) sources if they're reliable. Books, journals, old newspaper articles... it makes verification harder, but do we really want an encyclopedia whose only sources are free webpages? If free webpages were so extensive, Wikipedia wouldn't really be necessary anyway. --W.marsh 03:24, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Back issues of newspapers and magazines can be viewed at libraries. If it is a local newspaper, you could try asking for a copy of the article in question from the library in the town where the newspaper is published. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 03:22, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
We routinely use (and encourage) DOIs, and in most cases these link to sites requiring subscriptions. Dragons flight (talk) 05:04, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

References for geographical features

Some of the prose and data on Wikipedia about geographical features is a result of a process that could be called original research: looking at online maps and other changing online services, describing the geographical features visible in them, finding coordinates, comparing the proximity of labels to some location, measuring distances, etc. In my mind this is not a problem, though reliable and verifiable sources would be preferred. What however is a problem is the faithful linking of the services where this work was done as the source of the information, and putting that in the references section. Most of the information has not been published as such in those services, is not static, may be a result of unknown interpolation, and its sources in the services are usually not revealed. For examples, most of the articles with links to seem to have references of this type.

Would anyone object if these kind of references were removed (for descriptions of features visible on most modern maps or data derived from non-published services) or converted (to geographical coordinates when referring to a location as a map link)? If not, could these thoughts be reflected in the guidelines in some way? --Para (talk) 19:31, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

You might want to talk to Wikipedia:WikiProject Geography, Wikipedia:WikiProject Maps, or Wikipedia:WikiProject Geographical coordinates. If a coordinate is involved, the latter project's {{coord}} links the coordinate to many map services so there are alternatives if one service changes. -- SEWilco (talk) 20:01, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Also to elaborate, when the location of a feature is not obvious from the location of the article and the editor has felt it necessary to link to a map, then coordinates should be used instead. The coordinate templates have a source parameter for the same purpose people have used a map link as a reference, but it's rarely used for these "original research" coordinates. In the references sections I have found the following types of links:
  • Coordinate reference: "The bridge’s WGCB number is 35-04-18[2], and it is located at 41°45′16.632″N, 80°53′52.584″W (41.75462, 80.89794) <ref>map service link</ref>" (from Mechanicsville Road Covered Bridge)
  • Map description: "At this point, the highway runs along a viaduct above state route 92 (Nimitz Highway), passing to the north of Honolulu International Airport. <ref>map service link</ref>" (from Interstate H-1)
  • Directions: "Turn left, continue x miles, turn right, continue... etc etc <ref>map service link</ref>" (from Mechanicsville Road Covered Bridge)
  • Measurements: "Beginning at the east end (traveling westward), under Canyon Road the tunnel turns SSW (202°)<ref>The tunnel was tracked on TopoZone data on ACME Mapper. The angle was measured using Photoshop. The angles are expressed in conventional navigational cardinal direction values.</ref>" (from Robertson Tunnel)
  • Data derived from services: "Elevation 3,618 ft (1,103 m) <ref>Note: maps give an elevation of 3,593 ft (1,095 m), while Peakbagger, and Google Earth give 3,618 ft (1,103 m).</ref>" (from Mount Boardman)
  • Data interpreted from a map: "Rocky Mountain, elevation 3,080, is located west of Gaddistown, Georgia, less than two miles west of the boundary between Fannin and Union counties. <ref>map service link</ref>" (from Rocky Mountain (Georgia))
Some of these uses may not be too encyclopedic, but I won't go there and would just like to hear people's opinions on the referencing. Should it be done this way? --Para (talk) 23:08, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
I do work on highway articles in the U.S. Usually, when writing a route description, I just cite distance information, as a route going through a particular town or mountain range should be verifiable on any good map. I usually pull distances from the department of transportation map, citing it with [shameless self-promotion] {{cite map}}. When working on a junction list, which includes mileages for each junction, I prefer using websites with the values readily available. Otherwise, I'll calculate the distances on Google Maps by placing a destination at each junction and adding the numbers up; I always link to the resulting itinerary as part of my references.
I try to avoid using coordinates because your casual reader doesn't really have a frame of reference for relating to those. I know I live around 37 N, but other than that, coordinates don't have much meaning to me, and I find that saying "five miles northeast of Ozark" or "just south of Republic" is more helpful for placing things in my mind. —Scott5114°˘ [EXACT CHANGE ONLY] 01:34, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
If I'm reading you right, when something is verifiable on any good map, references are unnecessary. Having a route description in an article would then imply that the information comes from a map.
For distances, it's indeed good to use publications where the result doesn't depend on user input. Many articles however use automatic route finder services as a reference for distances. There's no guarantee that such services always give the same route, or then that the distance will be the same every time. With plotting the points and referencing a link that gives the result, the problem is that the measurements are reproducible only online, only as long as the service uses the same data for calculating a non-linear route between the points, and only as long as that same service is still available. The points used should be given in the article so that the same procedure can be repeated elsewhere, even on printed maps. M62 motorway#Exit list for example gives the coordinates for some of the junctions. There are many tools for visualizing coordinates, and the same information can be included in the "direction format" as well. --Para (talk) 13:30, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
[5] is an example link for Missouri's Route 73. As mentioned above, I try to use these only as a last resort, when I can't find the information from any other source. I know that some editors working in other states like Pennsylvania use Microsoft Streets & Trips or Delorme Street Atlas and then cite the version of the program they used. Then, at least you know that it won't "break" in the way you described.—Scott5114°˘ [EXACT CHANGE ONLY] 21:55, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
This is an interesting discussion. If I'm following the conversation properly, then these points might be relevant; if not, hopefully they'll prove interesting in their own right.
  • I'm not sure that the act of reading a map or measuring distances on a map should be considered "original research" any more than reading and paraphrasing the type on the page of a published book should be considered original research. Of course, it's important to read a map properly, as it is to properly read (and not misinterpret) text derived from a source of information for the construction of a Wikipedia article. That doesn't always happen, but that is one of the shortcomings of Wikipedia that we must live with and wrestle with.
  • Topozone and a number of other popular online map viewing interfaces use (in the United States--I can't speak for other parts of the world) actual maps produced by the United States Geological Survey--considered among the most reliable sources for coordinates and elevation data (in most cases). When you're looking at a location in the USA on Topozone, you are looking at an actual USGS map. Whether or not Topozone actually cites USGS (I believe they do. . .somewhere), that is the source they are using. However, see my next point.
  • In the last two decades, the accuracy of coordinate and elevation data has improved significantly. USGS measurements for most United States locations were not derived from modern computer assisted/satellite assisted technology. A number of errors--most of them minor--have been discovered since, and it is likely that many more will follow. So, USGS reflects (in most but not all cases) the best information on hand. . .the best published information that is. You may find that your handheld GPS unit actually offers more accurate data than an official USGS map published in the 1980's. Or not, depending on the quality of the unit and service, and how skilled you are at reading it.
  • Many other mapping services (Google Earth) tap directly into satellite information for coordiantes just as hand held GPS devices do. This begs the question: can a handheld GPS device be cited? If so, do you cite the device, or do you cite the satellite network itself? Before you say "No! this would be original research!" Keep in mind that the satellite networks that provide the data to handheld GPS units are probably the same networks that provides data to Google Earth and other commonly accessible applications. Furthermore, when USGS gets around to updating its printed maps, it will also probably rely on the same (or many of the same) satellite networks (hopefully more than one). --Pgagnon999 (talk) 04:27, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
No! :-) Seriously, references must be verifiable. Unless everyone is going to send me their GPS devices (note to self: buy a bigger toybox), the reference (the device) is not verifiable. Maps, on the other hand, can be obtained or consulted. RossPatterson (talk) 04:08, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree with you for the most part, however, to play the devil's advocate: how is the GPS device different from Google Earth software provided the same source is cited via the GPS device, i.e. the sat. network responsible for providing the original data? I use my laptop to obtain the same data you are now reading, but I don't need to mail it to you to cite this talk page.--Pgagnon999 (talk) 04:27, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
A single GPS reading should be similar in quality to Google Earth coordinates in a U.S. city. Google Earth has tried to properly georeference their photos and coordinates in cities should be similar to reality, although problems can be found. Street maps (not images) tend to be generated from data which is strongly linked to geographical locations (such as survey markers). Put a single GPS reading (which varies by 15m/50ft) in Google Earth and you'll see some difference in a city. In rural areas the differences between a GPS location and a Google Earth image is likely to be greater. However, which coordinates are good enough for Wikipedia purposes and how should their source be cited? Is a coordinate considered to be obvious enough to not require a source? As with text, such info might be adjusted by editors with "better" info, so if you're marking something not obvious (such as the original entrance to a fort which was later moved 200 yards) then you need to describe it ("Location of plaque marking original entrance" where the plaque can be seen by someone standing there although not on Google Earth). -- SEWilco (talk) 18:24, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
I focus on verifiability, and that means access to the source and enough info to locate it. Based on that, I'd say that neither a GPS device nor Google Earth are verifiable references, and therefore aren't valid references on WP. The GPS device isn't verifiable because it isn't available to others for verification (unless I get that bigger toybox :-) ) — conceptually, it's the same as an email, unpublished correspondence, or the only extant copy of a book on the Pope's private bookshelf. Google Earth isn't verifiable because it isn't fine-grained enough — it would be similar to citing "Rand McNally" or "Encyclopaedia Britannica". Either of the latter can be made verifiable by narrowing down the breadth of the reference (e.g., "Rand McNally's Big Atlas of Wonkaville" or "Encyclopaedia Britannica Vol. 3 Ch. 25"), so perhaps there's a good way to do that with Google Earth too. RossPatterson (talk) 23:36, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
  • As for the actual practice of citing elevation and coordinate data, I think it's no more and no less important than citing anything else edited into an article. In my own work, I've found it most fruitful to check more than one source. This is a pretty good practice in any kind of research. I don't know about the quality of reliability among those internet sources that are vague on where they are getting their info, so it's best to always cross-check to a source that is considered to have longstanding quality standards (such as the USGS). I've found that some packaged software (notably DeLorme) isn't specific enough for very precise measurements, but suffices for general measurements. I've also found that the United States Board on Geographic Names doesn't always associate the name of a landform with the highest/lowest elevation point on that landform (or exact lat./lon), thereby making it a problematic source. Why this is, I'm not sure, but I expect it has something to do with the issue of where the name of the landform is in relation to the contour lines on the map and how the data entry clerk interpreted that relationship when it was entered into the USBGN data bank.--Pgagnon999 (talk) 04:30, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
You're correct about citing references for coordinates. It's just like interesting dates - we cite references for them, especially if they're subject to debate or if various sources disagree. RossPatterson (talk) 04:08, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Only about 10% of all the 300,000 coordinates on Wikipedia have a source parameter. Some of the rest may have a reference tag, but since they're rarely seen for coordinates, most are probably looked up by people using maps and satellite images, indicating an arbitrary location. When the point has been chosen by a Wikipedia editor, how can there be any reference? I think coordinates should have references (or source parameters, not sure which is preferred) only when there is a static dated publication stating the coordinates for a named point, as otherwise they are not verifiable. --Para (talk) 13:36, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure I'm following you. By "source parameter" are you referring to, let's say, cooordinates linked to the GeoHack? Do map and sat. images produce "arbitrary locations?" I'm not sure that's so; if it is, it may be helpful to determine which ones aren't reliable and which are. As for a "point being chosen by a Wikipedia editor", well, wny not? If maps are sources of information, then reading a map (and by extension, doing simple math to specify that meaning) is not different than reading a book and distilling meaning from it, then translating (or paraphrasing) that information into a Wiki article. As for "static dated publication" I'm not sure that such sources are any more accurate than some of the online sources you question (see my example of the USGS above). Furthermore, how exact should map translations be? When I measure the distance between two cities, for instance, it isn't necessary to be accurate to more than a rounded mile/km, less so if the distance is great or the routes between the two points vary--the kind of accuracy you'd find on just about any online source, and the kind of accuracy you'd expect from anyone reading a map and making no-brainer measurements on it with a ruler. I think we have to assume "intelligent intent" with regard to editors and their capabilities to read simple maps and draw simple measurements from them. --Pgagnon999 (talk) 14:13, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
The style manual instructs coordinates to be entered using a coordinate template, so we can assume that all coordinates people have worked on are in that common format. Since all such templates use the common parameters available with coordinates, the source parameter is also available.
In my opinion maps and satellite images do not indicate the location of large scale features such as mountains with a precision necessary for the 1ft elevation precision that many articles use. If the coordinates of the article are appropriately rounded for the scale used, and there are no coordinates for the highest point, how can anyone verify the elevation if the source is just a map or a geographical service with similar information? If the coordinates are an estimate by some guidelines, be that the center of the feature, highest point, some politically chosen point, or just rounded to the closest unit appropriate, and the coordinates can be verified in other maps or services to show the same general location, then the source of the coordinates is all of them together and there is no need for references.
There's no problem if the reference is to a site that always gives the same data (ie. allows linking to data from a given date), that's the case with books, lists, and some online services. Accuracy aside, they are verifiable. Many online services however are not; the elevation mentioned in the Mount Boardman article for example doesn't seem to be shown as such in any of the referenced sources for those coordinates, which makes the references useless.
Perhaps instead of references for those simple measurements and data from common sources, there should be a tag indicating that the data has been verified at the time of the edit, and that all the geographical data in the article is available from the services linked through the coordinates? --Para (talk) 17:56, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, but I still don't know if I'm clear about what you are trying to say. I looked at the Mount Boardman article; clearly if you compare the elevation data in the article with the USGS topographic maps (Via Topozone, via GeoHack), you end up with a USGS topographic map showing the mountain but indicating an elevation higher than indicated in the article. So, someone is wrong. The problem here seems to be either a typo/mistake, or the fact that the article writer used a different source than indicated in his reference. But this is an editing problem; it can be corrected by re-editing the article and supplying referenced elevation data--via whatever source. Of course, the writer never specified which of ghe GeoHack sources he supposedly used. . .is that what you are getting at? Yes, it would be better for an editor to be specific about which one he used. . .if he used any of them at all. As for the "1 foot precision" in citing elevations, I think it's generally accepted that such measurements, no matter what the source, are an approximation, not an absolute--even for elevations listed as precise on USGS maps. As for estimating elevation where "exact" elevation is not given, it's obviously important to let the reader know that the measurement is an estimate, better yet, indicate the margin of error inherent in the estimate in a footnote. For instance, "Estimated at 500 feet +9 feet/-0 feet" for a summit with a highest contour of 500 feet and a coutour interval of 10 feet. I'm not sure if that addressed your comment. .. --Pgagnon999 (talk) 20:32, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
When the data entered to Wikipedia is not from any single source, but is averaged, estimated or outdated values from an undated source, is not visible as such in the services, and is not a result of a simple calculation (to the reader, as he doesn't know the source numbers but only the result), it is not the same as ideas distilled from words in a book. It is changing the information found from the source, and you can no longer say that the composite information is from that source, but from "all the available topographic services on the map sources page". This is not an isolated problem in a couple of articles, but is evident in all articles that cite services with geographical data without a date or source, and is even worse when "simple measurements" have been done. --Para (talk) 21:21, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Again, and I'm not trying to be difficult, but I'm not entirely sure what you are trying to say. I think I'm closer to understanding you, but not quite there yet. What specific "undated" sources are you referring to? Are you indicating that the problem is with the fact that some editors cite Geohack itself as a reference for geographic data instead of verifying the actual source data via the options listed in Geohack? Or are you indicating that the actual possible sources listed in GeoHack shouldn't be cited and are "undated"?--Pgagnon999 (talk) 21:34, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm saying that when data is not clearly from any single source where it can be verified, it should not be referenced as if it was from such a source. If the data is originally from a reliable source, but the reference isn't or can't be made to mention the original source and date of the data, the reference should not be made at all, as it is of no use. Google Earth and NASA World Wind for example can easily be used to get some elevation number to make articles look pretty, and other editors may even be able to find the same number from that source for some undefined period of time after the addition, but there is not enough information to make a complete reference for people to verify later. With the Mount Boardman article for example, where we now have to guess if the sources have changed or if the editor made a mistake, had the reference been made with identification and date of the original dataset, we would have the necessary information to find out if the source data has indeed changed since the edit or not. All references to services with no identification information of the source of their data, where the same information either can't be found at all or can be verified in any service with similar data, should be removed from Wikipedia. --Para (talk) 00:33, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
From purusing your talk page, it seems that you have a strong geo-tech background. Although I certainly respect that, I would encourage you to keep in mind that, since you've brought this issue to a talk page that is not specific to geo-technology, it would be helpful (to me anyway) if you could use specific examples of what exactly you are proposing, and how exactly you see Wikipedia changing. When you say "original dataset" specifically what dataset(s) are you referring to? Which sources specifically are you suggesting that we do away with? How specifically do you envision they might be done away with? How would that be implemented? How do you see it happening that editors can be compelled to stop citing, for instance, Google Earth, and start citing these "datasets" you mention? Seems like a tall order. I'm wondering, if I'm reading you properly (and I still don't know, as your language is still vague or maybe I'm just thick), if perhaps you are suggesting something a little extreme here. There are clearly instances were absolute data should probably be cited (for instance with regard to the finer details of nuclear physics), but in other cases, I do believe that a Rand McNally road map is a legitimate enough source, let's say, to get a general measurement in miles between two cities, regardless if Rand Mcnally reveals its original data source or not. In other words, I don't think it helps Wikipedia to insist on such rigor across the board (if indeed that is where you are coming from). . .not to mention the nightmare of trying to enforce it/make it happen. If that is what you are suggesting, I'd have to strongly oppose such a change. --Pgagnon999 (talk) 02:42, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
It's not specific to geo-technology that full references should be given when citing a source, to allow people access to the same data at any later date. That's why static publications should be preferred as sources. When you can't find a reliable static source for something, instead of citing an everchanging online service, you should go to the original source or not give any reference at all. For example, USGS datasets with sufficient identification can be found from the Geographic Names Information System and National Elevation Dataset among others. Many of the services people reference on Wikipedia may use the same data as a source, but if the service doesn't mention where and when the data is from, and that information is not carried over here to the reference, it might as well have been made up as far as reliability and verifiability is concerned, making the reference worthless.
I'll go to specific details in a #Georeferencing recommendations section then, when I'm up to writing one, using the examples from above. Getting rid of such bogus unverifiable references wouldn't be harder than anything else Wikipedia instructs editors to do. It doesn't need to happen overnight, but there can be guidelines here and in related wikiprojects discouraging bogus referencing, vigilant editors zapping such references on sight, informing mistaken editors on proper referencing, etc. Note that I'm only talking about geographical information here, and of sources that can change, or of information that is the same everywhere. --Para (talk) 14:00, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for working to be clearer :). Although I agree with your statement that "bogus" references to geographic data should be discouraged, I disagree with a unilateral labeling of all sources that do not cite specific "datasets" as "bogus" under all circumstances. For instance, Google Earth, regardless of where it is getting its data, provides direct, easily accessible visual data about the surface of the earth. Websites change all the time, and that is why it's important to include a "Retrieved on (date) reference." Let me give you a specific example. for instance, let's say you wanted to inform a reader about the (relatively) current dimensions of an ongoing stone quarry on a specific mountain--let's call it North Peak. As the article is about North Peak, not the quarry, it's important to a) prove that the quarry exists; and b) provide an estimate of the size of the quarry--a general, not absolute--measurement which is going to be "dated" no matter where the information comes from, unless there is someone out there at the quarry measuring its expansion every time a chunk of rock is removed. So, for the article about North Peak, one might cite a measurement of the quarry taken from Google Earth, and in the reference section, note when the information was retrieved from that source. Of course, you can argue that it would be better to go to the source of the Google Earth data instead, and you're right--it would be better but it wouldn't be necessary. And, as I've argued elsewhere in this article, and have provided specific examples, the Geographic Names Information System is not necessarily more reliable than some of the sources you suggest that we shun, and in many cases it is less reliabile. And yes, I do believe that reliability is something that should be important to us. If I have a source of information that provides consistantly more reliable data than another "official" source of data, then I'd be a fool not to go with the more reliable source, regardless if or not they display their "original datasets" as long as they have a reputation of providing accurate information as it applies to what I am working on, and the level of detail I am working with. I would, however, have no problem with you or anyone editing articles, on an individual basis by replacing a less precise source with a more precise source, but again, I think this has to be done on a case by case basis; I think it's determiental to force it upon all articles. For instance, if it was decided that the USBGN data lookup feature should be the source of elevation data for mountain summits in the United States, we'd end up with quite a mess of misinformation on our hands, as it is not (consistently enough) a reliable source for such information (see my comments and examples below--if you can find them in this anaconda), regarless of the fact that it can cite its original datasets. My fear (and maybe it is unfounded) is that you are suggesting a unilateral change to Wikipedia and a universal branding of certain sources (you have yet to name specific ones) as unsuitable as references because they do not reference the absolute sources of data they are working with. This seems a little extreme to me. Aside: Did I also mention that USGS datasets are often decades more dated (and therefore dependent on less reliable technology) than other current sources? --Pgagnon999 (talk) 16:03, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Finally, I should point out that it's important to match up the proper coordinate format when linking from an article to the Mapsources GeoHack Wikipedia tool; if not, you'll end up directing your readers to Mars.

--Pgagnon999 (talk) 03:50, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

The United States Board on Geographic Names is probably often used for coordinate information although the source is often not cited. Unsourced coordinates often have the USBGN numbers, although it is possible the numbers came from another source (or from the USBGN through another source). However, reading a GPS device should be considered as an acceptable method; the USGS uses volunteers with GPS units to collect coordinate information. If we want to define a coordinate manual of style (driveway, main entrance, or center point?) we'll do that as we have for other source materials. Trivial calculations, such as taking GPS readings on opposing sides of a building and using halfway between the two locations as the location of the building, should also be as acceptable as paraphrasing text is. Another editor with a more precise or authoritative source/device may later correct the info. The source should be specified if it is not obvious or considered common knowledge. -- SEWilco (talk) 17:08, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
With regard to your comment "The United States Board on Geographic Names is probably often used for coordinate information", I'd like to suggest that the USBGN online data lookup feature is probably less reliable than a handheld GPS device for a number of reasons; see above and also related discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Mountains#peak lists?.--Pgagnon999 (talk) 17:21, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I think the USBGN is authoritative and official, but probably suffers many of the problems one would expect from a government-affiliated official decision making organization. The USBGN FAQ [6] 29 does state that updates are frequently applied, whatever those are. The USBGN procedures are focused on names and I suspect that USGS workers update coordinate info but I haven't found details. Whether USBGN numbers are correct for Wikipedia use (such as city coordinates being of oldest location, such as city hall) depends upon what Wikipedia wants. At a minimum, USBGN is a citable source of some authority. Locations which are not in USBGN require other sources. -- SEWilco (talk) 18:04, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Here's a specific example of the type of problem one is likely to encounter when using the USBGN: Peak Mountain. If you refer to a USGS topographic map of the mountain (such as this one duplicated on Topozone) you'll note that A) The words "PEAK MOUNTAIN" are shown along the entire length of the mountain ridge, and B), According to the contour lines, the summit is over 700 feet. However, if you look it up via the USBGN (see here), you'll see that the summit is listed as 581 feet. If you then click on the feature name (Peak Mountain) in the USBGN lookup results, it will give you the option to view the mountain via Topozone. Click on that, and you end up with this, which shows you the southern ledge of Peak Mountain at 672 feet, not 581 feet, not the actual 700+feet summit. Obvioiusly, this throws off coordinates and elevation. If this were a rare or isolated incident, not big deal, but it's not. I can cite several more such inconsistancies all within a radius of less than 30 miles. If that is representative of the degree of reliability on a national level (and why wouldn't it be?), I think it brings into question any reference using the USBGN alone. --Pgagnon999 (talk) 18:20, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
USBGN FAQ [7] 16. # How accurate is the elevation data in the GNIS Database? How was it measured? -- SEWilco (talk) 18:34, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
The USBGN is one source which can be cited on Wikipedia. Other sources maybe be better for specific locations or uses; for a mountain the altitude used by some mountaineering record tracking group might be suitable. If you can park a precision GPS unit on a point for 24 hours that might be better (location of the first Sears store?). -- SEWilco (talk) 18:34, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

tl;dr the above, so this might have been covered, but on U.S. roads I generally cite Acme Mapper, which is a pretty nice Google Maps/USGS topo combination. For instance, see the route description of California State Route 190. If there's something that's not obvious from any of the three types of imagery - road, satellite, or topo - then I cite a better source. For elevations, unless the topo has a number right at the point, I give an approximate figure based on the contour lines. --NE2 12:41, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

Ok, so your preferred map service or user interface is ACME Mapper, but is that tidbit suitable for articles? Any map from after the geographical feature was built provides a similar view that you can look at when writing a description. If something is obvious in the imagery you have looked at, and others, and its location is noted in the article, is it really necessary to cite any particular source, when the same information is available in so many other services for the same location, without any interpretation or other processing necessary? --Para (talk) 14:00, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
Not all maps are equal. One might not be as up-to-date, while another might show a different name for a road. Citing exactly where I got the information lets readers check the reference. --NE2 15:08, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
You recognise that the date information is important, but you're still referencing something that has neither date nor source. That's the same as citing a friend of a friend who read the information from a reliable source; the information will not be verifiable, since the source you used is known to be dynamic and so it may not have the same data from the original source anymore, or may not be available at all. Shouldn't you also mention the discrepancy of the sources in the article and cite the different map in addition to the maps that have common information, instead of making your own judgement on which source is right and citing an aggregate service where you can't know where the labels will be tomorrow? --Para (talk) 15:46, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
That's why I say when I accessed it. I'm not saying that there is a discrepancy, just that if there is one it will be clear that there is one. --NE2 16:51, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
But it won't be clear, that's the point. Look for example at the articles Google Accused Of 'Airbrushing' Katrina, Google's View of D.C. Melds New and Sharp, Old and Fuzzy, and Censorshopping around the Netherlands. Google Maps is such an everchanging cocktail of data that you can't guarantee that others would get the same information tomorrow, and they have no way of knowing the data has changed from since you looked at it, since it's given without sources as if it was factual information. If however you're writing about some large scale present day topic such as roads, small differences in the data are insignificant and it doesn't matter whose map you're looking at. What information does a reference to a single service then convey and will it help convince readers of something? --Para (talk) 01:10, 11 January 2008 (UTC)
I understand your frustration with the changing nature of data provided by internet geographic services, but isn't that the nature of the internet as a whole? I think that's fairly well understood by anyone that when you read an article that references by an internet source, that source may change at any time, without notice or indication that it has done so. But that doesn't mean the source isn't worthwhile and shouldn't be cited. And sure, Google may have airbrushed Hurricane Katrina, and there certainly have been inaccurate news articles that have been printed by generally reliable sources such as the AP, BBC, whatever, but occasional incidents of inaccuracy or fraud should not mean that the baby should be thrown out with the bathwater. --Pgagnon999 (talk) 01:22, 11 January 2008 (UTC)
To jump in here, as it coincides with another sub-discussion going on inside this beast, I agree with NE2, and I wonder if you are insisting on too rigorous a standard. I think that there are certainly instances where such rigor is justified, but I don't think it is necessary to enforce it in every instance. A map published by a reputable publisher should be citable, regardless if it reveals its original data set or not. Of course, it can be challenged as a source, and replaced with a better source, but it should not be automatically regarded as unsuitable--Pgagnon999 (talk) 16:17, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
I don't see what the problem is here. Encyclopedias do not contain page after page after page of stubs about irrelevant hamlets because it would obviously detract from the important stuff, since if people wanted to know how to skin a cat or find the mystical land of Toul Kork, they would go somewhere else. However, Wikipedia is not paper, therefore it may be spammed by bots injecting directory lists that could easily be found on and Google Earth. For an idea of what I'm talking about, simply refresh Special:Random over and over. It is important that we include this stuff, because someday, the ghosts of the Native Americans that died in Adobe Creek might rise from the dead and want to contribute to that article to tell us a bit more about it. Because obviously, the squirrels and bunny rabbits there aren't talking. Until scientists manage to invent a means of immortality, that's not going to happen of course, and it's just going to be a worthless stub -- but give it some time. Consensus is inescapable and will fix things, eventually. Zenwhat (talk) 22:28, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

I must admit to a bit of confusion with the Wiki policy upon citing sources for geographical places altogether. I have been happily adding latitude and longitude for a few years now. This involves "improving" coordinates of existing articles (some Wiki coords come from geonames where previously "near enough was good enough" - I'd find that geonames sometimes locates a place in some nearby field rather than in the centre of an urban area) and also sourcing brand new articles. People leave you alone of you are redoing the coordinates. If you are creating a new article for a village, people now want contributors to cite sources "otherwise an article may be deleted". I think this is overkill - I added Morefield last month as an example. My POV:

  • The Wikipedia is infinitely expandable. At least one person comes from every village. I'm not sure waiting until somewhere becomes significant for some reason matters. If it's on the map, I'd want it in the Wikipedia. I leave whether every hillock needs cataloguing for others - I'm only interested in human settlement.
  • Indeed sometimes there is no true source. Yes I may have located it using Google Maps or Virtual Earth. But those sources did not suddenly spring into existence this decade - they are built on the work of predecesors. Originally indeed somebody 100 years ago went around with surveying tools which became the Ordnance Survey which became a source for Multimap. Personally my source is "well there it is on the map I'm using".

Does citing sources for geography need a rethink generally? --Scotthatton (talk) 18:32, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

References are good, but only if they lead the reader to the information cited. Though anything on the internet can change, most reliable online sources cited on Wikipedia are publications that aren't expected to change. If they disappear, it is often still possible to find the material again, and they usually have an author who can be contacted. With dynamic databases such as most online map services none of this is true: their very nature is that they change (or in people's minds, improve), there is no way to see what a service's imagery at a certain date in the past looked like, there is no identification in the material, and no way to contact the authors. Such references are therefore of no use, and only give the false impression that the article is well referenced, when on further inspection the references are not verifiable and all we have is the editor's word for it. To compare with other topics, it is not customary on Wikipedia articles about companies or currency to cite current stock exchange or exchange rate services. With such data there is no expected truth the services would be trying to approach and Wikipedia to catch up on, but only different periodic values, which is why those articles cite published historical data. When there is a truth to something we write about, it shouldn't be an editor choice to decide whose data is closest to it, but it seems that that's exactly the practice in Wikipedia. A rethink is certainly needed. --Para (talk) 12:10, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Apparently we're still at a point where geographic coordinates in a database might be off by a kilometer or two. Checking a database of industrial locations against orthophotos founds such differences.[8] -- SEWilco (talk) 18:09, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Scrolling lists

I notice that this was recently added:

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

Does anyone know where it was decided that it's best not to use these? I've seen them used in articles with very long Notes or References section to great effect. I can see that printing would be problematic, but then lots of issues in articles can cause problems with printing, and we're an online project, not a paper one. Apart from that, though, are there real problems with these scrolling lists that I'm not aware of? SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 10:22, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

I have had no involvement here either but I can see Wikipedia_talk:Cite_sources/archive18#Scrolling_Reference_List, Wikipedia_talk:Cite_sources/archive19#Scrolling_reference_lists, Wikipedia_talk:Footnotes/Archive_7#scroll_box_for_references and Wikipedia:Templates_for_deletion/Log/2007_June_11#Template:Scrollref. To me such lists look to be a bad thing. Thincat (talk) 10:47, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
As it happens, I don't think scrolling lists should be used either, particularly for References, which would be at the bottom of the page, where you'd be using the browser's own scroll bar anyway. However, I don't really agree with the inclusion of the argument that it cannot be guaranteed such list will display in all web browsers. Arguments made against scrolling lists should legitimate. Concerns over readability and printing still stand, but the argument of browser compatibility is being overstated. --SallyScot (talk) 11:23, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm wondering what it is about scrolling lists in particular that is problematic. Image size and placement, for example, will look different on different browsers, will sometimes not print out well etc, but we don't disallow images for that reason. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 13:31, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
If I recall correctly, most mirror sites can't handle the scrolling lists; but that may have changed since the last time I checked. Kirill 13:45, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
The other question is what benefit they provide. There is no particular reason to save vertical screen space within a page when most browsers already have a scroll bar on the right hand side of the window →. In most of the cases I see where the scroll box is desired, a better solution would be more judicious use of references, a change to a referencing format that uses less space, or a combination of the two. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:34, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I see. Thanks for the feedback. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 20:52, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Documentaries and Interviews

Just one question, how would one cite a TV documentary or interview? A lot of the time these things don't appear on the internet or on a news broadcast, so it's difficult to include information from a source like that in an article. BalkanFever 04:29, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

This sounds like a job for {{cite video}}. RossPatterson (talk) 23:17, 9 January 2008 (UTC)


Here's a real example using {{cite video}}...

  • Sherratt, Dr Andrew (Presenter); Sarah Marris (Producer); with Daniel Seibert, Dr Françoise Barbira-Freedman, Dr Tim Kendell, Dr Jon Robbins and Sean Thomas (1998). Sacred Weeds: Salvia divinorum (video) (Documentary). UK: TVF Productions (for Channel 4). Retrieved 2007-08-08. 

--SallyScot (talk) 11:32, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Style guideline for PD sourced content

Does WP:REF support that all (all, as in everything without exception) PD-sourced material be placed in quotes to avoid the appearance of plagiarism? If PD-sourced material is not in quotes, is it proper to remove the offending text? Please say it ain't so! -- Paleorthid (talk) 19:18, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

The same editor removed a map and updates which interfered with his wrapping PD text as quotations. He places imaginary plagiarism restrictions above that to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. Or, in this case, this wasn't even expired copyrighted material, as the work was created in the public domain. -- SEWilco (talk) 20:39, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
SEWilco, that is misleading. You know I made effort to save your contributions here: Talk:Bathhouse Row#Alternative sources, for editing back into the article when more peace prevails. To others, please see the history of edits of Bathhouse Row, reflecting many combative reverts, and the talk page, if you want to review SEWilco and my roles. doncram (talk) 21:12, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
The PD text was still adjacent, with cosmetic blank lines (proposed by another editor), although better organized than in the original, with the source cited at the end of each section. There was no need to destroy the improved presentation and remove material. And you didn't bother restoring the new material, leaving the article for readers and editors with older text and large blocks of text protected from alteration within quotation markings. You say below that "a huge block of text" is intimidating, yet that is exactly what you insist upon. -- SEWilco (talk) 21:21, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
To focus on the question posed for the RFC, is it wrong for another editor (me) to delete copied text from a 1985 source while leaving a link (change which SEWilco reverted)? Is it wrong for an editor (me) to set aside copied text into block quotes (which SEWilco reverted several times)? I tried both approaches as intermediate steps in editing the Bathhouse Row article, to make some space to improve the article with new writing outside of the copied text sections, toward eliminating all of the copied text. Perhaps either editor approach is fine. Someone can add PD text without violation of copyright but with poor referencing practice (not putting it into quotes to reflect that the wording is copied). In my view, another editor has equal right to remove it all, leaving link to the available source, or to set it aside in block quotes, or to label it as badly referenced / requiring improvement in referencing. SEWilco would even deny me the right to put copied text into quotes, I actually had to beg him to let me. Paleorthid, where do you stand on the right of an editor to set aside text into quotes, or to label an article as poorly referenced? (You posed other side of the question, must you use quotes, in terms of say it isn't so, now what is your view about can you choose to use quotes, or can u label unquoted copied text as poorly referenced?) doncram (talk) 06:08, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
I would definitely support the right to place that kind of text in block quotes, or remove it. I suppose it would depend how well-written and informative it was. If the article could easily survive without it, I'd say remove it and link to it. If not, then block quotes would seem fair enough. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 18:16, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
doncram wrote: Someone can add PD text without violation of copyright but with poor referencing practice (not putting it into quotes to reflect that the wording is copied). You're confusing the issue somewhat. Something in the public domain is by definition non-copyrightable and the only issue is proper referencing of the material and that does not have to be done via block-quotes. In addition, if you have a problem with material that doesn't address an issue in your opinion then find something that does.Awotter (talk) 23:09, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
To give some more info to Paleorthid's question, I have indeed added the "nofootnotes" tag to a number of articles covered in "Category:Wikipedia articles incorporating text from public domain works of the United States Government". For some of these articles which show some effort to properly reference other sources, I have added a note to the talk page such as this one related to one of my edits that Paleorthid questions. In response to a a similar posting I made on Talk page of "2007 Brooklyn tornado", an author/editor expressed appreciation for my calling attention to the appearance that the article was poorly sourced due to the use of that "USGovernment" template, and has chosen to fix the article so as to be able to remove that disclaimer. In other cases I have just added the "nofootnotes" tag. In some cases I removed offending text (leaving the appropriate external link to the text source). In one case I returned to add more sources and to set aside copied text in a block quote, see this diff on James R. Allen article. I think all of these interventions are helpful and justified. doncram (talk) 21:01, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I have stated that these types of edits on articles involving big hunks of copied text are needed to avoid the appearance of plagiarism, but that is only one reason. Another reason is to clarify that, in some cases, virtually all the text is copied, perhaps slavishly, from a source that perhaps should be questioned. I noted in the Talk:James R. Allen case that the official U.S. Air Force biography which was the source, had neglected to discuss potential controversy about his role as superintendent of the Air Force Academy when women were admitted, which later led to great controversy and scandals. I don't know in that case whether Allen was involved constructively, obstructively, or not at all, but I do question whether the USAF official biographies are selective in what they report in ways that excludes anything that might reflect poorly on the USAF. I think it is highly appropriate to segregate by quotations or block quotes anything that is directly copied, to avoid being slavish dupes of dated or otherwise questionable sources. doncram (talk) 21:01, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
It occurs to me to look at the official U.S. military bios of officials involved in the Tailhook scandal. Compare the official bio for official U.S. Navy bio for Frank Kelso which does not mention Tailhook to the wikipedia entry Frank B. Kelso II which does cover it. My point is that slavish copies into wikipedia look convincing, but in fact are selective, biased accounts that only show the military in a favorable way. Quite a high proportion of the articles in "Category:Wikipedia articles incorporating text from public domain works of the United States Government" are virtual copies of US military bios, but are presented not in quotes so they convey a) that the facts stated are accurate, obvious, non-controversial, and further they imply b) the facts stated are the notable ones to be said about the given person. It is intimidating to others who might want to edit, and would naturally search for other sources if they see that the whole block of text is just from one source, that it is not considered obvious, uncontroversial facts. I believe the military bios are valid on most biographical facts, but still if u copy it without putting it in quotes I think you are endorsing the included material and endorsing the omissions of significant negative material. doncram (talk) 04:47, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Another reason is to facilitate entry into the editing of an article by other editors. When there is a huge block of text copied in from another site, it is naturally intimidating to many potential editors. To begin to revise or add to an already big article that may be stated very authoritatively, is difficult, unless and until one understands that all of the article, or huge chunks, is merely copied from one source. This came up in somewhat heated discussion with SEWilco of Bathhouse Row where copied text is currently segregated in block quotes; it certainly applies to Duquesne Spy Ring which is mostly 33 profiles and photos copied from here. doncram (talk) 21:01, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Doncram says that a huge block of text is intimidating, yet that is exactly the format he has forced upon Bathhouse Row. The copied text was "segregated" by him, replacing a better organized and well sourced format (which also had some updates which he removed). -- [[[User:SEWilco|SEWilco]] (talk) 05:07, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Copied text seems unencyclopedic. Shouldn't an encyclopedia include condensed discussion, that is be shorter than the sources that it cites? It does not add value to merely copy. It potentially adds value to call attention to material, by selective quoting and citing, or by including an external link. doncram (talk) 21:01, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Copied text is no more encyclopedic than original text, based merely upon whether the text is being reused or newly written. We accept newly written text and consider it for further editing. Would text copied from, say, the current edition of an encyclopedia not be encyclopedic merely because it was copied? It would be a copyright violation, but it would not lose its encyclopedic quality merely due to being copied. Being encyclopedic depends upon an evaluation of the specific text and not its origin. -- SEWilco (talk) 05:12, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
I do appreciate Paleorthid's raising this question here, which may be an appropriate place to raise it. I look forward to your comments. I have also made a point to raise the issue in WikiProjects involved in many of the articles, as here:Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Military history#Copied material in Military History articles, and quality ratings and here Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Aviation#Copied material, inappropriately sourced, in aviation articles. doncram (talk) 21:01, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

As I told Doncram (who seems to have then ignored me and gotten into the same dispute with other people) PD text doesn't need to be in quotes. There's no legal or ethical requirement for this... even our copyright/plagiarism critics have never complained once about our use of PD text. There are much better issues to fret over. --W.marsh 21:30, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

We interacted over editing Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge to improve its referencing and in discussing those edits in its talk page. I did not ignore you at all there, but your assertion of no need to track copied material did not convince me. It turned out that the article was referenced inadequately to start with: it had been tagged with the general disclaimer that it "incorporates text from" one source, but in fact when specific statements were reviewed, some were not supported by that one source after all. Keeping track of which text is copied from where by using quotes is part of sensible, normal practices of good referencing / proper sourcing, that is the lesson I took from our discussion. doncram (talk) 23:42, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
To sharpen my point slightly: use of the general disclaimer obscures new Original Research assertions that can be added to an article, as was the case here. It is fair to label an article having the general disclaimer "incorporates text from" as poorly referenced, given higher likelihood that OR assertions can/ may well have crept in, given no separation between sourced vs. non-sourced material. doncram (talk) 06:26, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
  • No - per WP:CREEP first and foremost, but among other things per above. MilesAgain (talk) 22:09, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
    • Hmm, the WP:CREEP article is interesting but I don't think it is very relevant. I don't think that keeping copied text in quotes is something that is complex to manage. And it is the practice in most English-speaking educational systems, that students are taught to do that. doncram (talk) 23:07, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
      • Students aren't writing papers to inform an audience though, they're writing them to prove their knowledge of the topic, and thus, using someone elses words as body text is a problem, even if used legally and attributed. We're just trying to create good articles, proving how much we the writers know about the subject is irrelevant. --W.marsh 23:10, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
        • By mentioning the usual training of students, I was meaning to convey that keeping copied text in quotes is a procedure that is widely understood and hence not unduly "complex" to manage, relating to WP:CREEP. I didn't mean to suggest that the collective of wikipedia editors is involved in writing articles to get a grade. But, come to think of it, perhaps that is sort of true that we writers do need to prove the accuracy of what we know/write. The collective of wikipedia editors can well be concerned with their credibility and the credibility of wikipedia in general, and there are principles of Verifiability and so on. Unquoted copied text simply looks bad, is disappointing and discouraging to come across, and obscures the verifiability (the specific sourcing) of the material. doncram (talk) 23:29, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Random break 1

When one publisher republishes a new edition of a work from a different publisher and author (after the earlier work has either entered the public domain, or permission has been obtained) the new publisher acknowledges the earlier edition in the front matter, but does not use quotation marks or indention to distinguish text which is being used without alteration. Following that convention, I believe it should be sufficient for Wikipedia to mention in the reference section that an article is derived from a PD article published elsewhere.

If specific facts need to be supported, and rely on the PD edition, a suitable inline citation should be provided. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 23:53, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

But exactly! Each fact with a big text copied from a PD source, does need to be supported. You mean one needs to insert an in-line citation for each sentence. (And I think each sentence needs to be put in quotes, to show that the wording, not just the content, is from the given source.) The better alternative is to put the whole text in a big quote. doncram (talk) 01:04, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
There is no difference between facts in reused PD text and facts in original text. If each sentence of original writing requires a citation to support its facts, then indeed each sentence of reused PD text needs a citation to support its facts. You're blending text with facts in your claim. -- SEWilco (talk) 05:06, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Here's where you and I differ. I think there is and should be a big difference between statements in copied PD text and statements written by the editors. If a statement is not in quotes in an encyclopedia article, it signifies to me as a reader that the editors have carefully considered it and concluded that it is fact, non-controversial. But if I am beginning to work on an article and a big block of text turns out to be merely copied, I am disappointed and I have to revise my expectations. I realize that as a regular reader I was misled. I realise then that careful consideration was probably NOT taken in deciding which facts were controversial or otherwise need specific support. It is too easy for someone to paste in whole blocks of PD text without thinking; I simply do not believe that an editor who copied a 1000 word passage, say, actually went through it and checked whether there were other sources available for every statement in it, separately, and that the consensus view on every point is the one stated in the PD text. Cutting and pasting a huge block equates with noncritical thinking. If an editor has reworded the material, I do believe that she/he cogitated over it, and would likely have been referring to several sources, and has taken care in evaluating whether some statement is a consensus, factual statement not requiring separate support. Even when mainly working from one source, the editor limits her/himself to rewriting what she/he understands to be pretty well known, and refrains from merely rewording statements that she/he knows are questionable or that she/he cannot evalutate the accuracy of. That's how it is supposed to work, in my view, and that's what I think most encyclopedia readers expect. doncram (talk) 17:10, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
An author did consider their text when they wrote it, and a Wikipedia editor is responsible for reuse... and you're changing to yet another claim from the preceding facts-require-citations statement. Which of your numerous positions is today's statement on formatting for PD text? -- SEWilco (talk) 17:44, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps you meant to imply that only asserted facts that might be controversial need to be supported separately. However, when a big text is copied to create an article, it is usually not obvious which assertions might require specific support. And it is being copied in by one editor who, perhaps uniquely, believes the PD material is all true, when it may not be. The PD material is given undue credence, it is pasted in and appears to be the received wisdom (behold, it appears in an encyclopedia, it must be true), when in fact the PD source may be outdated, inappropriate, suspect due to bias, and so on which is obscured by not putting that material in quotes. While one editor may slavishly believe one source, there are many other perspectives usually. The editing process requires keeping track of what is the source of facts, particularly when it is just one source that is being relied upon at first. doncram (talk) 01:04, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
I meant that whether an inline citation is needed is independent of the Wikipedia article being based on a PD article. So if the fact is controversial, or if the fact would be difficult to look up in an index or table of contents of one of the sources in the reference section, then an inline citation should be supplied.
It could be a bit awkward if some passages from the PD article are in quotes, because they are followed by an inline citation, while other parts are not in quotes, because there is no inline citation. This is a problem unique to Wikipedia. It is only in Wikipedia where every controversial fact has to be supported. Other publishers rely on the reputation of the publisher or the author to support many of the facts. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 01:13, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
A bunch of sentences together carry no undue credence on their own. Wrap them in quotes and they're set aside as being special and alteration is forbidden. If a paragraph simply has a bunch of text then people will read and edit the paragraph, with the ability to check facts in whatever sources are cited. Evaluation of text being outdated, biased, or inappropriate, has to be done for all text and not only whatever happens to be wrapped in quotation marks. Actually, text in quotation marks is by implication not to be altered and outdated, biased, and inappropriate terms are acceptable in a quotation. -- SEWilco (talk) 05:22, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Looking at WP:MOS#Quotations ("Attribution—The author of a quote of a full sentence or more is named; this is done in the main text and not in a footnote. An exception is that attribution is unnecessary for well-known quotations (e.g., from Shakespeare) and those from the subject of the article or section." and WP:MOS#Quotation marks ("Double or single—Quotations are enclosed within "double quotes". Quotations within quotations are enclosed within 'single quotes'."), I'd interpret that guideline as advising that literal quotations, regardless of source and unless the quote is well-known, should be set off by quotation marks and should be attributed. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 23:57, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

We usually aren't actually quoting the PD source, such as the 1911 Britannica, but just using its wording. Using something as body text isn't the same as using it as a quote. --W.marsh 00:01, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
But if an article is a total quote from PD but the quoted part is not indicated, and if someone wants to reword a paragraph, how will the reader know what has come from the original source and what may have been altered and therefore may not represent the original PD author? I am thinking of a particular article that is (or was at least) a total quotation from a known writer who donated (or sold) her writing to a site that is now in the PD. This article was just several huge blocks of text -- very reader unfriendly. Does that mean that anyone who alters anything in a PD article MUST reference the alteration? Mattisse 00:14, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
If Wikipedia publishes an article that is derived from a PD article, it is no different from Dover Publications publishing a revised edition of a PD book. To avoid plagarism, the original edition should certainly be acknowledged, but if readers wish to know what passages remain unaltered from the original, they will just have to buy the original and compare. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 00:20, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
In the case I am thinking of, it was slavishly copied but not attributed to the particular author who wrote it. It was just labeled PD. Now, of course, if someone went to the PD source, they would eventually discovered it was a word for word copy. (Or maybe it will have be altered in some way they would discover if they did a side by side comparison.) Normally Dover, or whatever publishing house, is very careful about notifying the reader of the copyright status of the material they publish. If Dover revised a PD work, I am quite sure they would copyright the revision. Mattisse 00:32, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
I daresay Dover would obtain a copyright on the revision*, just as Wikipedia editors copyright their revisions (and immediatley license them under the GFDL license). However, there would be no markings in the body of the text to distinguish passages that changed from passages that remained the same.
*For recent publications, Dover couldn't help but get a copright on revisions; it's automatic. Of course, registering the copyright is another matter. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 00:44, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Dover is not striving to be encyclopedic, with the policy of WP:V either. Dover can be POV without having to cite sources. Mattisse 01:09, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
To Matisse's (00:14 UTC) question "(in a PD originated article) how will the reader know what has come from the original source?": add "and to what degree will they care?" Normally source matters for only select portions of articles, and the need for cites can be dealt with selectively as the need arises, and to the degree it is important. Articles are evolving to using more intext cites. Among weakly sourced facts, those that have the highest demand for verification will be among the first to attract intext cite edits. The rest can wait their turn. --Paleorthid (talk) 04:14, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
It matters to the degree accuracy matters. If accuracy in Wikipedia is unimportant, then we do not need this discussion. Anyone can add any statement or chunks of statements and the source is irrelevant. WP:V is irrelevant as nothing needs to be verified. And it matters to the degree that you want editors to edit. It is the articles that are long blocks of PD text, some of it out of date, that editors seem to avoid as it is daunting to verify a humongous copy/paste article. Easier to start from scratch and find sources. A huge number of articles are copy/paste from Encyclopedia Britannica 1913. My observation is that editors seem to leave them alone. Mattisse 19:28, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
You're reading the minds of editors? Perhaps such articles appear to be encyclopedic. But you're implying that editors verify a humongous copy/paste article differently than they verify any other humongous article. Inventing a likely article name... Is History of Boston humongous, how do editors verify it, and does it matter if it is reused text? -- SEWilco (talk) 19:50, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
How do editors verify a copy/paste article? They have to find multiple secondary sources. Who wants to do that for huge blocks of text. Not very many people. That is why those articles are neglected and stay that way. The point of WP:V is that each reader can verify facts independently while reading the article. For example, some studies have shown inaccuracies in the current Encyclopedia Britannica but since the EB does not source its articles, the reader can not judge the quality of EB sources. Here lies the potential superiority of Wikipedia. That is why Wikipedia desires multiple sources to verify a fact. The template {{onesource}} can be placed on an article that relies on one source overly. Also PD articles can be out of date. WP:RS and WP:V are important. Are you saying they are not? Mattisse 20:19, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
How do editors verify any article? "They have to find multiple secondary sources. Who wants to do that for huge blocks of text." What facts are in huge blocks of text? Facts tend to be in fragments of text, so huge blocks of text are not fact checked in entirety. Facts within text are checked, which is why most text with citations has citation notes scattered throughout. Reused PD text is just text donated by an editor. If the source from which it came supports WP:V then the facts within might be supported by the same source from which the text came. The facts scattered within the text are checked individually and may acquire additional sources. Note that reused PD text might actually not meet requirements such as WP:RS but might still be usable as raw text, conceivably with unrelated citations (in addition to credit for the text, which would be separate from fact-supporting citations). -- SEWilco (talk) 00:53, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Mattisse, do you think that a block of reused PD text is a monolithic fact which must be isolated and cited in totality as being a fact? As a fact, not merely identification of the source of the text? -- SEWilco (talk) 02:27, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Another problem with this is splits and merges. Under this new standard, if we merged two articles, since we can't just copy text from a free (GFDL) source but most quote it, merged articles would have to formally quote the original articles they were merged from. If we split content off from an overlong Wikipedia article, the new subarticle would have to say, "According to the original Wikipedia article... quote..." and so on. That's another reason why this "quote" thing is silly. We always have re-used, without formally quoting, text from free sources, with proper attribution. It's practically a required part of what we do. --W.marsh 03:44, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

I don't see that raising a problem. Perhaps you need to conceptualize "we the collective of wikipedia editors" as one big collective author. "We" wrote one big article, say, and then choose to split it, "we" have still written each of them. To the extent that either/both contain text sourced from some PD source OUTSIDE of wikipedia, that can be / ought to be tracked, but you don't have to put in quotes "our" wording from the other article. It is "we" that wrote it wherever it is. doncram (talk) 04:24, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
And "we" track the origin of the text "we" wrote through the article history, not by noting each editor's contribution within the text. -- SEWilco (talk) 02:27, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
On the other hand, you say "We have always" done whatever, and I kinda want to separate from that. It is not the practice in the articles covered WP:NRHP where I have mostly participated, for example. It is in fact a few intrusions into that area which raise my concern about this issue. doncram (talk) 04:24, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
I have no problem with "kinda want to", it's the "absolutely want every article to" that I have heartburn over.--Paleorthid (talk) 16:57, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Random break 2

I am a member of Wikipedia:WikiProject Ships, and we often copy the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships verbatim, with proper sourcing, as a start to many articles. DANFS is a public domain encyclopedia (not really a dictionary) that aims to have a brief history of every ship to ever serve in the U.S. Navy. I completely disagree with the principle that all PD text must be placed in blocks of quoted text. Our uses of DANFS are not a copyright violation, because the source is public domain. They are not plagiarism, because they are properly sourced. Finally, they are encyclopedic, because they come from an encyclopedia. TomTheHand (talk) 14:20, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Rather than placing this kind of material in quotes, would it not make more sense to write it up as your own summary? Cutting and pasting is a little unethical, but it can also lead to strange-looking writing depending on the source, and in particular on the age of the source (some older PD texts use very flowerly language). Also, the point of Wikipedia (as I see it anyway) is that it's meant to be 100 percent our own work, free for others to use. Not 100 percent someone else's work, copied and pasted by us. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 14:26, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
If you'll check out DANFS, you'll see that it's already a concise summary. For many ships it is the best, and sometimes only, history available. It is not unethical to copy and attribute a public domain source, and it is just as free for others to use as it would be if you wrote it yourself. There is no moral high ground in rewriting it; what's free is free. Keep in mind the number of articles that began as copies of entries from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, and see here for how many articles still include its text. TomTheHand (talk) 14:57, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, but they're often poorly written by our standards, and rarely NPOV. In my view, our own work should be our own work. That's a separate issue from whether we're allowed to copy PD texts, because of course we are. I suppose the question is why anyone would want to, when the articles could be rewritten fairly quickly. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 16:09, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I took TomTheHand's suggestion and I see between 12K and 15K articles (here) that still include its text from EB1911. Considering the proliferation of PD source templates, some uncategorized or poorly categorized, the style issue that we are discussing surely affects several 10s of thousands of articles. --Paleorthid (talk) 17:22, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
It's a waste of time to rewrite PD text simply for the sake of rewriting, and we have other guidelines that address poor writing and NPOV, so that's not really relevant. DANFS, Britannica 1991, and other PD sources are only a starting point and are cleaned up and expanded as the article evolves. TomTheHand (talk) 17:36, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I suppose that's where we differ. I wouldn't say "simply for the sake of rewriting," as though that's not much of a concern, because to me the way an article is written is very important. But I suppose it depends on priorities. If your priority is to get the material into Wikipedia in whatever format — information over presentation — then I can see your point. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 18:00, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I don't advocate just dumping an article from DANFS into Wikipedia, tossing in some wikilinks, and saying "Woohoo! We're done!" However, I think it's very valuable to be able to use a DANFS entry as a starting point, then gradually clean up the prose and add additional sources. If you look at Special:Whatlinkshere/Template:DANFS, you'll see how many hundreds of articles began this way. I suppose you could describe my attitude as "eventualist" in this sense: we should get articles these articles going now, by copying PD sources, and then improve them with time.
The first article of that whatlinkshere list is USS Arizona which includes the DANFS statement "This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here" However, I note that article does NOT in fact seem to have any text from DANFS at all, and in particular not at the "here" link given. Perhaps the DANFS template is overused? By the way, for articles originally based on the 1911 encyclopedia britannica, the 1911 eb template is removed from articles after they have been completely rewritten. I would think that editors of articles should want not to give undue credit to DANFS. Perhaps some other sort of legacy DANFS template, like "this article was originally based on a DANFS entry, but no longer incorporates any text from that" would allow you to express your appreciation to DANFS while a) taking proper credit for wikipedia editors and b) avoiding muddying the waters about the extent to which wikipedia is merely copied from public domain texts. (talk) 01:05, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
We're at a point now where we don't do a lot of dumping from DANFS any more. We've shifted from quantity to quality. However, it'd be extremely problematic if it suddenly became unacceptable; as Paleorthid points out, tens of thousands of existing articles are based on PD sources. TomTheHand (talk) 18:46, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
What began this discussion, I believe, is the practice mentioned in your first sentence: 'I don't advocate just dumping an article from DANFS into Wikipedia, tossing in some wikilinks, and saying "Woohoo! We're done!" ' I understand that was done previously with PD sourced articles. The question is if we should condone such practices now, especially if the source is not an encyclopedia. Do you think so? Mattisse 20:30, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
The question is whether the reused PD text must be inside quotation marks. -- SEWilco (talk) 20:34, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
The quotation marks issue became the question after the creator of a particular article recently did a "dump and desert" from a source that was not an encyclopedia. When another editor suggested rewriting the article, starting with a skeleton of the original "dump and desert" so he could edit it and add sources, the original creator resisted this attempt to rewrite the article, (even though the second editor was willing to collaborate in a sandbox first). Mattisse 20:45, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I don't know what situation you're talking about, and the question here is: "Does WP:REF support that all (all, as in everything without exception) PD-sourced material be placed in quotes to avoid the appearance of plagiarism?" -- SEWilco (talk) 21:13, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Our collective answer to that question looks to be "No", at this point anyway. No one here has explicitly stated that they advocate that all of the 10s of thousands of articles with PD source tags must be treated with quotes to satisfy the style guidance that this talk page relates to. Certainly there are deficiencies, and remedies available for those deficiencies, on an article-by-article basis, but that's not the question.--Paleorthid (talk) 21:40, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
But if you were writing an article and suddenly introduced part of a copied PD text, you would have to say something like: "The X Encyclopedia writes that ..." and then quote them, or place the text in blockquotes, or something to indicate that this had been lifted from elsewhere. That's just common sense, and it would take seconds to add it, so I can't see why anyone wouldn't want to do it. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 19:20, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
What is the useful question to ask, then, Paleorthid? It is probably not the straw man proposal that you put forward to start this discussion. If it was just that, then the question was posed by you and answered by you. Perhaps you could expand on what you think are appropriate or inappropriate remedies for deficiencies (to be applied on an article-by-article basis, as you say). Or perhaps there should be some distinctions made between text copied from encyclopedic sources (1991 eb, DANFS) vs. just any old random U.S. Federal document that is in the PD. I think it is clear that WP:REF guidance on these matters could be improved. Could you make a real proposal, or suggest where you think discussion would be productive? Sincerely, (talk) 01:12, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
The original question I posed was my understanding of instructions doncram had expressed to me (and many others) in tagging articles we were working on, work that I have halted until we get this cleared up. Correct me, but that's not the same as a strawman. Nor is it the same as extending logic to its most ridiculous consequence. Doncram had indicated to me that, to avoid plagiarism all PD sourced material needs to be identified with inline cites contained in quotation marks. PD-source tags alone will not satisfy WP:REF. That's not view, and not my preferred style, but doncram indicated that my view and my preferred style was not supported by WP:REF. Rather than engage in edit warring, I put my planned edits on hold and posed the most fundamental question here for comment: Is what doncram was telling me supported by WP:REF: all PD cites have to be in quotes? Now that we have determined that it is not supportable to the extent that doncram initially represented it. Like Wikipedia, and consensus, doncrams understanding of the issue has evolved since then. That evolution would not have occurred without this RFC. My understanding is evolving also. I think we have room for improvement in this area.Yes we can move on discussing some of the more nuanced implications of the issue. ---Paleorthid (talk) 19:04, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
Reused text is not a quotation. If you introduce a text because an "excerpt can sometimes explain things better and less controversially than trying to do so ourselves." or to "provide a direct source of information or insight." (per WP:QUOTE) then indeed quotation marks are needed to mark that block of text as representing exactly what someone said, because exactly how they said it is important. Thus what is in the quotation marks must not be altered. The quotation at Of Plymouth Plantation#From the journal must be preserved despite its POV and unusual spelling. However, reused PD text is not a quotation. Reused text does not follow the other WP:QUOTE issues: It might be encyclopedic (such as being from an encyclopedia), the text might be worked into the article imperceptively because it's just text, reused text can indeed be proper paragraphs, and reused text does not have to take away from the encyclopedic feel. -- SEWilco (talk) 02:13, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
That is ridiculous double-speak. Copied text is a quotation, whether u credit it or not. doncram (talk) 02:22, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
I didn't mention anything about credit, as that is a WP:V issue and not a style issue. Copied text is only a quotation if it is intended to be "a direct source" and must be marked as providing insight. Otherwise it's just a pile of letters for editors to work on. If I'm referring to the U.S. Declaration of Independence then "the pursuit of Happiness" is a quotation; if I'm writing about sports then the pursuit of happiness might just be some more text to be edited. If I took that phrase from the Declaration or from Common Sense then I should give the author credit for his creation (which I did within this phrasing). -- SEWilco (talk) 02:47, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Does all text from EB 1911 have to be put in quotation marks or can it be used as text? Does all text from Simple Wikipedia have to be put in quotation marks or can it used as text? -- SEWilco (talk) 04:33, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
(←) No, it doesn't have to be quoted. You use the template {{1911}} for the 1911 encyclopedia. There isn't a template for simple.en as far as I know, but you can use {{Translation/Ref}}, or take one from Category:Interwiki translation templates and create a specific template for simple.en if you needed one. Doncram's comments appear to contradict our longstanding practice, as illustrated by the contents of Category:Attribution templates. A key motivation for free content is the we can reuse free content by others and they can reuse the free content we create. — Carl (CBM · talk) 04:46, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Summary so far

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Trying to summarize thus far... and the numbers in the list have been hard-coded intentionally so they can be referred to without the numbers changing due to wikilist editing. -- SEWilco (talk) 02:27, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

1. All PD-sourced material must be placed in quotes. 
2. PD-sourced text does not have to be in quotes. (Paleorthid, SEWilco, MilesAgain)
3. PD text must be in blocks of quoted text.
3a. Blocks of text are intimidating to editors. (SEWilco)
3b. Editors verify facts of huge blocks of text in articles. 
3c. The consensus import of 1911 Britannica used no such formatting (MilesAgain)
4. If specific facts need to be supported a suitable inline citation should be provided. (Gerry Ashton, Paleorthid)
5. WP:MOS#Quotation marks: "Quotations are enclosed within 'double quotes'." (Boracay Bill)
5a. We aren't quoting the PD source, just using its wording. (W.marsh, SEWilco, MilesAgain)
6. Quotation marks are needed so the source of PD text can be identified.
6a. Wikipedia tracks the origin of text separately from the text, in article History. (Paleorthid, W.marsh, MilesAgain, SEWilco)

I added my name and comment to the above. MilesAgain (talk) 04:51, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Matisse withdrew Matisse's name from what he/she thought was misrepresentation of Matisse's comments. I follow Matisse and withdraw my name from this "summary" by SEWilco. I do not endorse this as a fair summary of the discussion, however well-meant it may have been intended to be. doncram (talk) 22:38, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
Then nobody agrees with the following:
1. All PD-sourced material must be placed in quotes. 
3. PD text must be in blocks of quoted text.
3b. Editors verify facts of huge blocks of text in articles. 
6. Quotation marks are needed so the source of PD text can be identified.
That leaves:
2. PD-sourced text does not have to be in quotes. (Paleorthid, SEWilco, MilesAgain)
3a. Blocks of text are intimidating to editors. (SEWilco)
3c. The consensus import of 1911 Britannica used no such formatting (MilesAgain)
4. If specific facts need to be supported a suitable inline citation should be provided. (Gerry Ashton, Paleorthid)
5. WP:MOS#Quotation marks: "Quotations are enclosed within 'double quotes'." (Boracay Bill)
5a. We aren't quoting the PD source, just using its wording. (W.marsh, SEWilco, MilesAgain)
6a. Wikipedia tracks the origin of text separately from the text, in article History. (Paleorthid, W.marsh, MilesAgain, SEWilco)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

very funny summary was removed. i don't think it is easy for anyone very heavily invested in a debate, to summarize it objectively while involved in it. doncram (talk) 02:03, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

OK, you find someone to summarize it then. -- SEWilco (talk) 02:20, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
OK well, for anyone who cares, the above "summary", now enshrined in "archive" do not change tags, is SEWilco's amended by 3 others, and hence probably no longer even SEWilco's view of what is a fair summary of the preceding discussion. It is fairly ridiculous to try to score points or whatever it is SEWilco is trying to do, by taking advantage of removal of some names to imply consensus on some point he wishes were true. doncram (talk) 02:55, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
I was trying to identify what the issues are in that long discussion. Apparently I misread something as indicating that PD text must be placed in quotes, and nobody proposed a different interpretation of whatever those statements were saying. If you can improve the discussion, pipe up rather than hiding that something has been misinterpreted. -- SEWilco (talk) 16:47, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree with the comments of SlimVirgin below as we are editors and summarizing is not hard and involves some creativity to do it accurately. But it is not important. I personally skip over block chunky articles both as a reader and as an editor. If others enjoy reading a copy/paste, then so be it. For example, the bath house article (in Arkansas, I believe, but I can't remember the name of it) is one that I would just skip over both as a reader and as an editor. But if there are people who like that sort of thing, then so be it. I do not want to deprive you of your enjoyment and there are plenty of other articles for me to contribute to productively. I look for articles to edit that are inviting and interesting to me. I am speaking for myself only. Mattisse 17:06, 23 January 2008 (UTC)


Examples of what placing all PD sourced material into quotes might look like.

The above examples all miss the point. Setting aside long copied in texts in quotes is not usually optimal, it is intermediate, in clarifying which stupid text is merely from one source, which can then be evaluated. (Although I reserve judgement about the Itek article, where an editor/author not involved in this discussion was just doing what he/she thought was right and/or was best, maybe that is meant to be an end point article.) Probably large passages should be deleted entirely, replaced merely by a link to the source. Often the material should be rewritten. These examples are being proffered as if they are proof that quotes look bad. Well, don't copy in the long texts! The only thing worse that long copied in quotes, which require lots of referencing, is copied in text that a reader/editor may sense is copied from somewhere else without proper attribution. It is NOT proper attribution to attach a footnote at the end, or even a template that states "text is incorporated from" somewhere. That is the amount of referencing that is appropriate for crediting substantive content to some source. It is inadequate referencing for showing which actual wording is to be credited (or blamed) to a specific source. If you don't want to credit the source, then DON'T COPY THE TEXT, that is a simple rule you could follow. And perhaps something along those lines should be part of the guidance in WP:REF, if it is not explicit enough on this. doncram (talk) 01:27, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

It surely isn't difficult to summarize a text and keep in quotes anything you feel needs to be reproduced exactly. I must say I agree with Doncram -- if you don't want to attribute text to other people, the best thing is not to copy what they've written. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 13:59, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
Isn't the box at the bottom of the article explicit attribution of the source? Doncram's comment "It is NOT proper attribution to attach a footnote at the end, or even a template that states "text is incorporated from" somewhere." disagrees with our longstanding practice of doing exactly that. The entire purpose of the template at the end of the article is to credit the source. There are other potential problems with copying long parts of text from public domain materials, but simply failing to adequately credit the author isn't one. — Carl (CBM · talk) 14:12, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
Well there are some shortcomings in the crediting of public domain authors in wikipedia. First, for instance, a template that I have only come across recently (since this discussion started here), simply states that material in the article is from some National Park Service site, without identifying which one. (To quote: "This article contains material that originally came from a National Park Service website. According to their site disclaimer, 'Information presented on this website, unless otherwise indicated, is considered in the public domain.'" The "their site" is linked to one NPS location with that disclaimer. And I happen know there exist other NPS locations with statements limiting use of NPS-reproduced materials.) A reference in the article may be to a NPS site, but in many articles about historic sites there are often multiple NPS sites referenced, so the template is not specific enough. doncram (talk) 22:32, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
These templates rarely are specific enough. It's better just to use the PD text as you'd use any other. Read it, summarize it, and give a citation. Doing that avoids all these issues. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 23:17, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Second, it is interesting perhaps to note that the DANFS attribution is evolving, implying dissatisfaction with the overly general attributions given. After considerable discussion in WP:SHIPS, new versions of the DANFS template allow for linking to the specific DANFS article that is being cited in a given ship's wikipedia article, and even for multiple specific links, because it turns out there are different versions of DANFS material. doncram (talk) 22:32, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Third, the generic 1911 eb template, the generic DANFS template, and other templates are in my opinion inadequate for not crediting, by name, the specific author of a given article (especially if a specific link to the article showing the author name is not given). doncram (talk) 22:32, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Fourth, too often not credited is the actual writing done, as opposed to the content (whether or not a sprecific link is given). There is a distinction between crediting the source for content and crediting the source for the writing that I believe is not adequately understood in wikipedia. To credit a source for content, it is enough to provide a reference (perhaps okay to do this in template form that links to the content). However, in my view that needs to be distinguished from crediting the writing, which can be conveyed by use of quotation marks or block quotes. The wikipedia article on plagiarism is currently inadequate in my view, by the way. There are different types of plagiarism that are not adequately understood. One type of plagiarism is not giving attribution at all to a given source. Another type is not giving credit for wording copied, although the source is stated. There are other types of plagiarism. (To illustrate another one, not especially relevant otherwise in this discussion, it is perhaps especially abhorrent to copy the bibliography of a given source, which falsely implies that the author of a plagiarized work has consulted those sources. It is appropriate to cite only the first source which cites those other sources. This clarification on what is appropriate is made somewhere in the wikipedia style guidelines, maybe in WP:CITE, but I believe the inappropriate action is not clearly covered as a heinous type of plagiarism in the plagiarism article.) doncram (talk) 22:32, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree with SlimVirgin, who points out that it is not difficult to summarize a text and use quotes for exact reproductions. On wikipedia, where so many editors are involved, it make it possible for other editors to freely edit the article without worrying about what is an exact copy and what is not. Granted that summarizing is not as easy as a straight copy/paste, but wikipedia is supposed to be about editing. Mattisse 14:19, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
The entire point of free content, though, is that it can be freely reused by other projects. We grant our free content for others to reuse, and in exchange we have always permitted ourselves to use free content by others. We acknowledge the sources of this free material more prominently, in many cases, than we acknowledge our own editors, who are only listed on the history page. So I see Doncram's concerns as disagreeing with our status as a free-content project, and our long history of reusing free content. — Carl (CBM · talk) 14:31, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
If we can agree on this fundamental aspect of Wikipedia (and I don't see how we could not agree on this), we could move forward to address the underlying concerns that can be addressed within this context. That is we can talk about using inline cites and quotes as desirable in some situations, not as an enforceable requirement of WP:REF. --Paleorthid (talk) 19:49, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
Again Carl/CBM is commenting in a way that i must acknowledge I find compelling. I do value free software, and free documentation/text content, to be reused by others under the GFDL restrictions. However, I think it is overstatement to say that the "entire point of free content" is that way. Just because it is legal (that is, not a copyright violation) to copy PD text without extensive attribution, does not mean that is better than copying with extensive attribution (that is specific linking to sources and use of quotations to track the specific wording copied). Or better than rewording material, and keeping specific linking to source to reflect content. I think that what PD content gives us, which other sources do not, is the right to copy long passages that go beyond what would be fair use quotations. In some situations (I am not sure where vs. where not), it may be useful for wikipedia articles to provide those long passages. In all of those situations, I am inclined to expect that it is better to quote the PD source than not to quote it. Anyhow, PD content is different, legally, so you can use more of it than content from non-PD sources. That might be a point, if not "the point", about PD stuff. doncram (talk) 23:08, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
And I find Paleorthid's request also compelling. I don't want to quibble too much here about exactly what I must agree upon as a fundamental aspect of wikipedia in terms of use of free content. Would the following be enough? I recognize that Wikipedia was once an underdog group of renegades who were trying to do what people said could not be done, creating a significantly large encyclopedia. By capitalizing upon the expired copyright status of the 1911 eb encyclopedia, which had been widely regarded as a high quality encyclopedia, with additional hard work these renegades were able to manufacture many articles that were encyclopedic, and a wikipedia encyclopedia of substantial scope was born. (I am not really meaning to sound facetious, that is pretty much as I understood it, from afar, as it was happening.) The wholesale incorporation of EB material is, indeed, part of Wikipedia history. However, allowing for all that, what is appropriate now may be different. For one, wikipedia has grown and is here to stay, so wholesale incorporations are not necessary for success of the project. For two, there are many public domain sources which are not encyclopedic. Perhaps only well vetted PD sources should be "incorporated" (I would accept DANFS as basically being very well vetted, although apparently there are different DANFS versions and some controversy about which is best/okay within WP:SHIPS) and covered by use of improved templates (which provide specific links to sources, and which are more clear in their statements in some respects). I think it is time to question the presumed value of many PD sources for wholesale copying, and to question whether regular use of quotations when material is copied would not be better for readers and for subsequent editors. doncram (talk) 23:08, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Paleorthid focuses on what is to be enforceable or not. Few people like to be told what they must do, but it goes both ways. Some would not like to be told they must go back and reword many EB or DANFS-based articles, for instance. I and others would not like to be told that we CANNOT reword EB or DANFS or lesser-quality PD content, or that we cannot put quotes around material that we detect has been copied, as part of tracking what needs to be rewritten to make a better article, one not requiring the generic template-type disclaimers. doncram (talk) 23:08, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
The examples look to me to have been chosen to stimulate discussion, not as proof that quotes look bad. In the userfied Nimrod Glacier example, the one most apt to be described as proof that quotes look bad, I took a robotic approach to simulate an objective approach that might occur under one of the scenarios discussed above. 10s of thousands of problem pages all with the same problem creates an opportunity to use an automated approach to producing the in-line cites and quoting which several here have advocated. There are 730 articles that use the same source as Nimrod Glacier, all written with the same approach: copy-paste direct from the source, wikify, categorize, rewrite very slightly to conform to Wikipedia style. If we can simplify the proposed remedy to the point where a bot could do a significant portion of it, that would be a very positive outcome of this discussion. Nimrod Glacier is a great article for discussing this because it is such a simple and straightforward example.--Paleorthid (talk) 19:25, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
I see nothing seriously wrong with the "before" form [9]. The attribution at the bottom could be more clear, however. I would suggest making a template similar to Template:Planetmath, and using that to give more direct source information. — Carl (CBM · talk) 19:34, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
If we require quoting for public domain text, why not take it to its logical conclusion and require it for GFDL text as well - such as the previous version of each article you edit? The substance of this proposal is essentially "Wikipedia articles cannot be based on public domain texts", which is an EXTREMELY radical change in policy and beyond the scope of this guideline (I found this discussion via WT:MOS, but it's beyond the scope of the manual of style too) —Random832 17:40, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
"It surely isn't difficult to summarize a text and keep in quotes anything you feel needs to be reproduced exactly." - that's fine, but as I read this proposal, it seems to be for requiring quotes for anything that happens to be reproduced exactly —Random832 18:13, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, except that it doesn't "happen" to be reproduced exactly; it is being copied word for word because people don't want to take the time to write it in their own words. Surely that's not what we're here to do. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 21:35, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Actually, if we find a good free source for a worthwhile topic, and Wikipedia lacks an article on that topic, of course we should copy it verbatim. That way, we quickly provide a free, online source in a place people are accustomed to looking for information. Depending on how good the free source was, we might or might not be able to improve on it later. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 21:39, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
That's what people do. The question is twofold: First, should they be doing it? Why not take the time to read the passage and write it in your own words? Failing to do so can lead to some terrible articles if the PD source is POV or badly written, and they often are. Secondly, a problem arises when only some of the article has been lifted in that way. Do we acknowledge the change of style with quotation marks, or just leave the mishmash of texts? I think it was that question that triggered this thread. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 21:45, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
I think that Category:Attribution templates is the answer to these questions. Free content from other sources can be incorporated into articles with attribution but no extra quoting. This is how should be. If I am writing a GPL computer program and find GPL code I want to use, I don't rewrite the code, I just incorporate it into my program as is. That's the point of free content as wella s free software. — Carl (CBM · talk) 21:49, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
I am a big fan of free software and Carl/CBM's bringing it up gave me pause. I think the difference is that software is, well, different. In software, it may be that extensive comments about the source of different code sections is not generally helpful (although on the other hand, isn't there a big fuss made about software version control and bug-checking and tracking, so keeping track of source of code sections might sometimes be helpful). At least the comments do not directly affect the functioning of the software for the users. The value of software is that it functions correctly in doing whatever it is supposed to do, which is more objective than subjective. For an encyclopedia, however, the sourcing is important in establishing the validity of assertions made, as well as in crediting either the external authors or implicitly crediting the wikipedia editorship as the writers of the material. (In many encyclopedias, there are explicit by-lines for the authors of given articles; in wikipedia the implicit by-line is to the collective of wikipedia editors.) An asserted fact is more valuable to a wikipedia reader when its source is given. And, also, it is more helpful to subsequent editors of an article if the pasted-in text is identified. It could also be helpful to computer software editors, to have well commented code, too. I suspect that there are software editors as well as wikipedia editors who want more tracing of the source, when they have to go in and fix things later. doncram (talk) 21:51, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
As for SlimVirgin's first question, about what editors should do, ideally the editor should evaluate the quality of the source. If it's in the public domain because it was written before 1923 it's very likely the article could benefit from a rewrite. If it's a recent technical article written by the leading authorities in the field, which they generously decided to put in the public domain, the Wikipedia editor may not be able to improve on it.
As for the issue of distinguishing the text of the original article from alterations made by Wikipedia editors, this is an issue, especially if the original is a paper document or in a substantially different format than the Wikipedia article. (If the original article is available online in a similar format, computer software exists that will make a comparison easy). This problem exists for paper publishers who create a new edition of a public domain book too, but this situation is different; for the paper publisher, the original publisher and author, and the revision publisher and author, are all known quantities and the revision can normally be presumed to be well done. The Wikipedia editors are an unknown quantity and the revision is not reliable.
So, we have a problem that is unique to wikis. Perhaps a major software revision, unique to Wikimedia, to solve this problem, is justified. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 22:00, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
I didn't understand your second paragraph, Gerry. The question is what is wrong with using quotation marks, or blockquotes, or some other form of attribution to show which parts of the article have been lifted word for word? SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 22:19, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
That's already been covered in the above discussion. Having blockquoted text discourages people from editing it. From what I've read so far, your main worry is that people don't judge the validity/quality of the text they're copying and that they're just blindly pasting it in. Well, then that's what {{citation needed}}, {{dubious}}, {{update needed}} etc. tags are for. I don't think Wikipedia has ever cared about plagiarism, just copyright violations. The quality of the writing and source of the writing are two different issues. If I paste in PD content that's poorly written and POV and whatnot, it should be challenged by other editors. PD material certainly may be out of date, in which case it can be improved upon, but PD text should be treated the same as prose written by Wikipedians -- edited mercilessly. howcheng {chat} 05:01, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
That has been the practice up until now. Some people here seem to want to get rid of that practice, but I will say again - such a change is far beyond the scope of this guideline, or indeed any part of the manual of style. —Random832 08:40, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

(unindent) The problem I have with using blockquotes or quotation marks to show what part of an article was lifted from a PD source is that if most of the article is unchanged from the PD source, it will be so ugly it will be difficult to read. I suspect that's why no one who prepares a revised edition of a book ever does that. The one technique I have seen used when it is important to keep track of revisions is that a vertical line is placed in the margin next to lines that have changed since the previous version. I'm sure Wikipedia is neither equipped nor inclined to do that. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 05:17, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Don't cite me, bro!

This source: [10] has been cited in Interstate Highway System, probably to the chagrin of whoever added this Important Note: "Note: do not quote, cite, or reproduce without permission of the author. Contact Essays in History to arrange permission." Going on the assumption that no one has bothered to contact the author, is it unreasonable to just ignore the note? —Rob (talk) 23:35, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Absolutely. What the hell were they thinking? MilesAgain (talk) 04:48, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I imagine they were thinking, correctly, that the author has no right to require people to ask permission to cite or quote him. See fair use, the principle on which we cite or quote every source. TomTheHand (talk) 14:11, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
This kind of "no cite / no quote" questions occur occasionally in academic publications. Usually when it concerns a copy of an officially published source. In such cases it means: You should cite the published source. It is customary to provide the full reference in such cases. Alternatively it maybe a source that is not (yet) published or under review. There it means something like: "Be careful to cite as the publication maybe withdrawn" or "Please do not use this freely as this intelectual property of mine is not quite ready and someone may steal the idea and get it faster to publication than my team". However, by publishing a text on the (open to all) internet without giving full referencing information defeats all these. By doing so the author put the ideas (not the actual text) in the public domain, and implicitly agrees with fair use (ie properly referenced cites and quotes). If you don't want to be cited; don't publish your text! In brief I support TomTheHands comment, the use of the cite is fair use. Arnoutf (talk) 20:52, 22 January 2008 (UTC)


I've restored a version of the page from a few months ago, but I included the recent version of some issues that I know are important to people e.g. where to place ref tags in relation to punctuation.

The page had deteriorated to the point where parts of it were very difficult to understand, and someone had made substantive changes to the layout -- I believe it was User:SallyScot. The page has to be clear and clearly laid-out, so that people can find things and understand them. Otherwise, there's no point in the guideline existing. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 00:27, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

"deterioration" means what? gradual changes that you, personally, don't agree with? —Random832 18:01, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
No, I meant changes that made the guideline even harder to follow, with writing that was unclear. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 19:46, 23 January 2008 (UTC)


Here's a hardlink to 'deteriorated' version for ease of reference. --SallyScot (talk) 00:46, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Citation templates

Comparison of two versions for this section under discussion. - Similar parts are grayed here only for contrast, otherwise the emphasis (i.e. the bold closing part of #1) is as per original text.

1. The use of citation templates is neither encouraged nor discouraged by this or any other guideline. Templates may be used at the discretion of individual editors, subject to agreement with other editors on the article. Some editors find them helpful, arguing that they maintain a consistent style across articles, while other editors find them unnecessary and annoying, particularly when used inline in the text, because they make the text harder to read in edit mode and therefore harder to edit. Because they are optional and contentious, citation templates should not be added against consensus, and editors should not change articles from one style to another if there are objections.
2. The use of citation templates is neither encouraged nor discouraged by this or any other guideline. Templates may be used at the discretion of individual editors, unless their use is contrary to the established consensus of editors on the article. Some editors find them helpful, arguing that they maintain a consistent style across articles, while other editors find them unnecessary, arguing that they are distracting, particularly when used inline in the article text, because they make the text harder to read in edit mode and therefore harder to edit.

Version two has dropped the final sentence of version one. Version one ends up on the side of discouraging the use of templates, in contradiction to the first sentence, which states that their use is neither encouraged nor discouraged by this or any other guideline.

Version two also drops the reference to some editors finding the use of citations "annoying", as this is an inflammatory emotional response. Version two replaces this with the argument that some find their use distracting. For contrast, imagine if the section were edited to say that some editors are infuriated with formatting inconsistencies that result from non-use of citation templates.

Version two has better balance in suggesting templates may be used "unless contrary to consensus" rather than "subject to agreement" which was again leaning toward discouragement.

--SallyScot (talk) 00:26, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

You keep leaving out the crucial part that the style should not be changed over objections. It's the same with any style change. It avoids arguments. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 00:28, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

The issue is not the same as any style change because, unlike say reference tags and punctuation, it is not necessarily visible to the reader. In practice you should find editors more relaxed, and you'll see articles containing both freehand and template citations. Version one discourages such tolerance with its emphasis of annoyance on one side. Why does it shout citation templates should not added against consensus while saying nothing about freehand citations being added against consensus, or about citation templates being removed against consensus? --SallyScot (talk) 09:36, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

You can see them if you try to edit. The issue of citation style has been discussed a lot on this page, and it has always been agreed that people shouldn't switch from one style to another over objections, as with any style issue, unless the old style is deprecated; and the principle of not forcing style changes in general on pages over objections has been upheld by the ArbCom. That principle particularly applies to citation templates because many people dislike them and they make pages hard to edit for flow (hard to copy edit). It's a rule of thumb that saves a lot of arguments. If someone wants to start an article using templates, there's nothing to stop them, but they shouldn't change well-formatted references to templates without agreement. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 16:07, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
There are two somewhat distinct issues here. On a purely templates versus not-templates level, the matter is largely invisible to the reader, and so it's more a matter of editor preference than many of the more obvious "optional style" issues. I'll leave the discussion of this aspect to SlimVirgin, since I don't really care about the presence of the template code one way or another.
The other issue, however, is the question of citation style rather than template use. The templates—at least as they're currently implemented—will generate citations in a particular style (MLA, if I'm not mistaken). Inserting them in an article that already uses that style would bring us back to the first issue, since it would be invisible to the reader; but inserting them in an article that uses a different style (e.g. CMS) would be a reader-visible style change, which is explicitly prohibited without the consensus of the article's other editors. Kirill 17:51, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
It's because the reader-editor distinction breaks down on Wikipedia that we have to look at how the page is read in edit mode too, and there's no question that these templates make pages harder to edit, and especially to copy edit, which can lead to poor writing. I'll post an example here later. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 17:56, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Example of the kind of problem templates cause (and this is by no means the worst I've seen -- the more contentious the article, the worse it is, because the more citations it needs):
From 1994 to 2000, Wales served as research director at Chicago Options Associates, a [[futures contract|futures]] and [[stock option|options]] [[stock trader|trading firm]] in [[Chicago, Illinois|Chicago]].<ref name="qanda">{{cite news|title=Q&A: Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder|author=[[Brian Lamb|Lamb, Brian]]|url=|work=[[C-SPAN]]|date=[[2005-09-25]]|accessdate=2006-07-11}}</ref> By "speculating on interest rate and foreign-currency fluctuations" he had soon earned enough to "support himself and his wife for the rest of their lives," according to Daniel Pink of [[Wired (magazine)|Wired Magazine]].<ref name=bookstopshere>{{cite news|url=|title=The Book Stops Here|date=[[2005-03-13]]|accessdate=2006-10-09|publisher=[[Wired (magazine)|Wired]]|last=Pink|first=Daniel H.}}</ref> During this time one of the projects Wales undertook was the creation of the [[web portal]] [[Bomis]], a website featuring [[user generated content|user generated]] [[webring]]s that, according to [[The Atlantic Monthly]], meant the site "found itself positioned as the [[Playboy]] of the [[Internet]]".<ref>Poe, Marshall. "[ The Hive]". ''The Atlantic Monthly'', [[2006-09-01]]. Retrieved on [[2008-01-15]].</ref> For a time the company sold erotic photographs<ref name=accessforall>{{cite news | last = Brennen | first = Jensen | title = Access for All | journal = Chronicle of Philanthropy | volume = 18 | issue = 18 | publisher = Chronicle of Higher Education, Inc. | location = USA | date = [[2006-06-29]] | accessdate =2008-01-16}}</ref> and Wales described the site as having had "a market similar to say [[Maxim (magazine)|Maxim]] magazine. So it‘s kind of a guy-oriented search engine".<ref name="qanda"/> Although Wales is no longer connected with the company his involvement with Bomis has been criticised with questions frequently asked about the nature of its content.<ref>{{cite news | last = Mangu-Ward | first = Katherine | title = Wikipedia and beyond: Jimmy Wales' sprawling vision | journal = Reason | volume = 39 | issue = 2 | pages = 21 | publisher = Reason Foundation | date = June 2007 | accessdate = 2008-01-16}} </ref><ref name="wirednews">{{cite news |last=Hansen|first=Evan|title=Wikipedia Founder Edits Own Bio |work=[[Wired News]]|publisher=[[Wired (magazine)|Wired]] |url=,1284,69880,00.html|accessdate=2006-02-14}}</ref> Bomis also provided the initial funding for the [[Nupedia]] project.<ref name=bookstopshere>{{cite web|url=|title=The Book Stops Here|date=[[2005-03-13]]|accessdate=2006-10-09|publisher=Wired|last=Pink|first=Daniel H.}}</ref>
Some people get round this by having the template stretched out vertically, but that makes it even worse if there are lots of them. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 18:11, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
True enough. (To be fair, this is partially due to our having footnote text inline to begin with; even without using the templates, dense footnotes—particularly footnotes with discursive text of their own—will make editing more difficult, particularly for someone not familiar with the text.) Kirill 18:17, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

(<-)Why is that worse? In the regular view they are invisible, and in the edit view, it makes quick identification of text vs. cite extremely easy; just look for a horizontal line of text. -- Avi (talk) 18:15, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

In principle, one could make a statement in this guideline that citation templates should not be added against consensus. However, one could not make the statement that freehand citations should not be added against consensus, because the citation templates only handle the sources that the template editors have thought of. From time to time, one will find a source that the existing templates cannot accommodate. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 17:47, 19 January 2008 (UTC)


Here's a closer representation of how the above example might more properly look in edit mode...

/Citation templates example

--SallyScot (talk) 19:09, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

First, that's not what it looks like because I copied it exactly. But even if it were, you can still see how hard it would be to create any kind of decent writing with these templates in the way. Plus there's simply no point to them. People who know how to fill in the templates properly can write refs without them. People who don't know how to do it make mistakes and fill them in wrongly, so you end up with inconsistency. And as others have said, if introduced on a page using a different style, you end up with a mishmash of styles. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 19:17, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

You've argued that the templates stretched out vertically would make the layout even worse. User: Avarham questioned this. So I'm not sure what your "that's not what it looks like because I copied it exactly" issue is about really. If I've made the example look even worse as you say then surely that's only further supporting your contention that it's hard to create any kind of decent writing with these templates in the way. --SallyScot (talk) 21:06, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Somewhat related to this is Bugzilla Bug 12498, which contains draft code to implement a cite.php extension enabling named refs to be declared outside of the article prose, and to allow editor control of the order in which the cites appear in the <References /> expansion. All that need appear within the article prose would be a ref like <Ref name=whatever />. It is currently awaiting review. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 05:39, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
That will be very helpful. I found an even worse example yesterday. Try editing this for flow. :-) SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 13:54, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
In an interview with the ''[[Associated Press]]'', Morton stated that he asked Cruise for an interview, but was turned down: "I asked Tom for an interview and he declined. The Church of Scientology has got a very controversial reputation and that is what he is linked with. An unauthorized biography would essentially be a compromise. . . . I want to investigate it without any kind of fetters."<ref>{{cite news | last =Staff | first = | coauthors = | title =Tom Cruise biographer Andrew Morton defends his unauthorized book | work =[[The Canadian Press]] | pages = | language = | publisher = | date =[[January 17]], [[2008]] | url = | accessdate =2008-01-18 }}</ref> Morton hired private investigator and former adult film actor [[Paul Baressi]] to investigate Cruise's private life.<ref name="titlePAUL BARRESI SUPERSTAR">{{cite web |url= |title=PAUL BARRESI SUPERSTAR |accessdate=2008-01-17 |format= |work=}}</ref><ref name="titlepaul baressi - porn star and director - dvd and videos and more - filmography - - internet adult film database">{{cite web |url= |title=paul baressi - porn star and director - dvd and videos and more - filmography - - internet adult film database |accessdate=2008-01-17 |format= |work=}}</ref><ref name="churcher">{{cite news | last =Churcher | first =Sarah | coauthors =Emily Maddick | title =Tom Cruise fury as Diana author hires gay actor to probe private life | work =Daily Mail | pages = | language = | publisher = | date = [[February 12]], [[2006]] | url = | accessdate = }}</ref><ref>{{cite news | last =Staff | first = | coauthors = | title =Royal biographer and a porn star anger Cruise | work =[[The Daily Telegraph]] | pages = | language = | publisher = | date =[[February 13]], [[2006]] | url = | accessdate = }}</ref> He also consulted with [[Los Angeles, California]] attorney Graham Berry.<ref>{{cite news | last =Staff | first = | coauthors = | title =Morton moves on from legal defeat with life of Cruise | work =The Evening Standard | pages = | language = | publisher = | date =[[October 20]], [[2005]] | url = | accessdate = }}</ref><ref>{{cite news | last =Zwecker | first =Bill | coauthors = | title =Biographer's Cruise work will probably lack usual 'as-told-to' label | work =[[Chicago Sun-Times]] | pages = | language = | publisher = | date = [[October 20]], [[2005]] | url = | accessdate = }}</ref> Baressi stated he had begun investigating Cruise after his marriage to [[Nicole Kidman]] ended, but after six years of research on the actor had not been able to find any evidence that Cruise was gay.<ref name="grover">{{cite news | last =Grover | first =Sally | coauthors = | title =Detective Gets 'In Touch' And Confirms Tom Cruise Is Straight | work =All Headline News: Celebrity News Service | pages = | language = | publisher =AHN Media Corp | date =[[November 22]], [[2007]] | url = | accessdate = 2007-11-22 }}</ref> Baressi gave all of his research to Morton, and later told ''InTouch'' magazine: "Everything I have found, and everything I know, points to Tom being heterosexual."<ref name="grover" /> Morton also traveled to [[Toronto, Canada]] to interview people who knew Cruise when he was filming ''[[Cocktail (film)|Cocktail]]''.<ref>{{cite news | last =Staff | first = | coauthors = | title =Longoria takes a fall | work =[[The Buffalo News]] | pages = | language = | publisher = | date =[[January 21]], [[2006]] | url = | accessdate = }}</ref> Several [[Paramount Pictures]] employees were interviewed about Cruise's termination by [[Sumner Redstone]].<ref name="intouch" /> The book had initially been planned for a February 2006 publication date.<ref>{{cite news | last =Staff | first = | coauthors = | title =Latin American video awards postponed | work =[[Philadelphia Inquirer]] | pages = | language = | publisher = | date =[[October 20]], [[2005]] | url = | accessdate = }}</ref>


I'll have a go at editing that one for flow if you like, but a couple of things to take into account I'd say are, firstly, judgment based largely on extreme cases doesn't necessarily make for good policy, secondly, perhaps more importantly, bear in mind that if you want to see the information using inline full citations then it has to be included somehow anyway. All the citation templates really do is identify the parameters, if you have lots of freehand citations then they're inevitably going to break up the flow too.

To that end I've updated the earlier example to also include an edit mode representation without using citation templates (i.e. freehand) for fairer comparison :-)

/Citation templates example

--SallyScot (talk) 15:12, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

OK. Second example edit mode representations done. These are: with citation templates unaligned (as above); with citation templates aligned (and the empty citation parameters removed); and without citation parameters (i.e. freehand).

/Citation templates second example

--SallyScot (talk) 22:01, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Commenting on SlimVirgin's horrific example above, I'm not convinced that the use of templates vs. hand-formatted cites is the culprit here which causes the edit-flow problems. I have converted the the template-based citations in that example to hand-formated inline citations, with the following results:
In an interview with the ''[[Associated Press]]'', Morton stated that he asked Cruise for an interview, but was turned down: "I asked Tom for an interview and he declined. The Church of Scientology has got a very controversial reputation and that is what he is linked with. An unauthorized biography would essentially be a compromise. . . . I want to investigate it without any kind of fetters."<ref>Staff. "[ Tom Cruise biographer Andrew Morton defends his unauthorized book]", [ The Canadian Press], [[January 17]], [[2008]]. Retrieved on [[January 18]], [[2008]]. </ref> Morton hired private investigator and former adult film actor [[Paul Baressi]] to investigate Cruise's private life.<ref name="titlePAUL BARRESI SUPERSTAR">[ PAUL BARRESI SUPERSTAR], Retrieved on [[2008-01-17]].</ref><ref name="titlepaul baressi - porn star and director - dvd and videos and more - filmography - - internet adult film database">[ paul baressi - porn star and director - dvd and videos and more - filmography - - internet adult film database], Retrieved on [[2008-01-17]].</ref><ref name="churcher">Churcher, Sarah; Emily Maddick "Tom Cruise fury as Diana author hires gay actor to probe private life", ''Daily Mail''[[February 12]], [[2006]].</ref><ref>Staff. "Royal biographer and a porn star anger Cruise", ''[[The Daily Telegraph]'', [[February 13]], [[2006]].</ref> He also consulted with [[Los Angeles, California]] attorney Graham Berry.<ref>Staff. "Morton moves on from legal defeat with life of Cruise", ''The Evening Standard'', [[October 20]], [[2005]].</ref><ref>Zwecker, Bill. "Biographer's Cruise work will probably lack usual 'as-told-to' label", ''[[Chicago Sun-Times]]'', [[October 20]], [[2005]].</ref> Baressi stated he had begun investigating Cruise after his marriage to [[Nicole Kidman]] ended, but after six years of research on the actor had not been able to find any evidence that Cruise was gay.<ref name="grover">Grover, Sally. "[ Detective Gets 'In Touch' And Confirms Tom Cruise Is Straight]", ''All Headline News: Celebrity News Service'', AHN Media Corp, [[November 22]], [[2007]]. Retrieved on [[2007-11-22]].</ref> Baressi gave all of his research to Morton, and later told ''InTouch'' magazine: "Everything I have found, and everything I know, points to Tom being heterosexual."<ref name="grover" /> Morton also traveled to [[Toronto, Canada]] to interview people who knew Cruise when he was filming ''[[Cocktail (film)|Cocktail]]''.<ref>Staff. "Longoria takes a fall", ''[[The Buffalo News]]'', [[January 21]], [[2006]]</ref> Several [[Paramount Pictures]] employees were interviewed about Cruise's termination by [[Sumner Redstone]].<ref name="intouch" /> The book had initially been planned for a February 2006 publication date.<ref>Staff. "Latin American video awards postponed", ''[[Philadelphia Inquirer]]'', [[October 20]], [[2005]]</ref> -- Boracay Bill (talk) 02:05, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Comparative examples with edit mode representations

It's completely one-sided to go looking around for particularly horrendous examples, implying that they're largely the fault of citation template usage, without also including comparative examples of how the same content might look without template usage.

I have attempted to address this by showing comparative examples with fairly realistic edit mode representations. However, if you looked at the first example earlier you may have seen an intermediate version which had been changed by User:SlimVirgin into something which (as far as I could see) did not have realistic edit mode representations. However, I'm prepared to be reasonable, give the benefit of the doubt, and assume SlimVirgin's purpose was simply to include into the comparison the original unaligned citation template examples, and that the hacking of the edit mode representation was just an unintentional misuderstanding. Anyway, the idea is to show representions including a realistic looking editor typeface (a monopitch teletext font) within editor like scrolling windows, so, here they are again if you've not seen the fixed versions:

/Citation templates example - Jimbo Wales excerpt
/Citation templates second example - Tom Cruise excerpt

The two examples each show show three representations:
1) with citation templates unaligned (as they were found originally);
2) with citation templates aligned (re. debate as to whether this improves or worsens); and
3) without citation parameters (is freehand better than both of the above?).

--SallyScot (talk) 19:07, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

On the wording

Re. the sentence - "Because they are optional and contentious, citation templates should not be added against consensus, and editors should not change articles from one style to another if there are objections."

I would like to remove this. It does not make logical sense. It implies that citation templates should not be added against consensus because they are optional. This is a non sequitur. For example, creating a Wikipedia account for editing unprotected pages is optional, it does not follow that someone editing anonymously needs to get consensus first. That's not what optional means.

It also inappropriately shouts "editors should not change articles from one style to another". When in practice you should find editors more relaxed and accommodating, and you'll see articles happily containing both freehand and template citations. The overemphasised wording here just unnecessarily encourages people to make fuss over something which doesn't need to be such an issue.

I'd also like to change the second sentence's reference - "subject to agreement with other editors on the article" to say "unless their use is contrary to the established consensus of editors on the article"

The concept of consensus is key, objections could otherwise be of any kind, such as against consensus and quite unreasonable. The wording should encourage consensus, not simply the idea ultimately of stubborn veto.

--SallyScot (talk) 00:18, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

SallyScot, from the time the citation templates were invented until October 2007 the guideline had that (or substantially similar) wording. In October you unilaterally removed these words from the guideline, without, I might add, even a comment stating you were doing so. The reasons for keeping the wording are obvious; the citation templates are a complex language that add huge amounts of bulk to articles for only dubious benefits - in this case, uniformity of citation format. However, even that benefit is illusory - you would be hard pressed to find any reasonably lengthy article that had uniform citations, even among those that use citation templates. The few articles that do have uniform citation styles inevitably have someone closely monitoring them to weed out alternative styles, which are continually introduced by new editors. In addition, the citation templates are themselves often improperly used; for example, I've found people using the web citation template for articles that appeared in print, solely because the article was reproduced on the internet. Citation templates are awkward and complex, and multiply like roaches - currently I count over 80 of them in Category:Citation templates. Citation templates are made for people who like to fiddle with templates, not for people who actually are trying to write articles. That is why people object to them so strongly, and that is why this wording must remain in the guideline. Jayjg (talk) 03:10, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
Re the point above - "In October you unilaterally removed these words from the guideline, without, I might add, even a comment stating you were doing so." - For reference, the edit in question was - 18:31, 27 October 2007 - It was accompanied with the following edit summary... (→How to cite sources -make example vol number different to page number for clarity + some Full citation templates rewording) --SallyScot (talk) 22:52, 24 January 2008 (UTC)


Jayjg, your response does not really deal with the issues raised. In fact, it misses the main point entirely, going off instead on a sweeping POV tirade against citation templates generally.

I have not argued for and do not insist that everybody should use Citation templates. This is a key difference between our positions. You appear to want to discourage citation template use entirely. - Whereas I'm only arguing for wording in this guideline which actually reflects the current consensus as I understand it, namely that "The use of citation templates is neither encouraged nor discouraged".

I do apologise if my earlier edits were felt to be lacking in terms of appropriate edit summary or sufficient comment. I don't seek to impose unilaterally and I am happy to work toward a consensus. In my defence however I should point out that the edit version I've been trying to work toward was largely User:Wtmitchell (aka Boracay Bill)'s and not solely my own. This, in addition to User:Kirill and User:Avi's discussion comments, suggested to me otherwise that overall discouragement of template use is not a consensus view. In fact, before your contribution we were dealing principally only with User:SlimVirgin's objections. And SlimVirgin, seemingly disbelieving, posted on my user talk page querying whether I might have multiple accounts.[11] To which I have to say quite categorically that neither User:Wtmitchell, User:Kirill, User:Avi, or any other user, is a sock-puppet of mine.

Please try to deal with the points that I've actually raised. If they are too much to swallow all at once, then we can break them down and go through them one at a time. Establishing true consensus is sometimes a slow process which requires patience on all sides.

So, bearing that in mind, can we not agree, isn't it the case that the current wording[12] incorrectly implies that citation templates should not be added against consensus because they are optional? Isn't this a conclusion that does not follow from its premise? For example, creating a Wikipedia account for editing unprotected pages is optional, and it simply does not follow that someone editing anonymously needs to get consensus before doing so. That is not what optional means.

- Further discussion is welcomed.

mini references:

User:Kirill - "I don't really care about the presence of the template code one way or another" - above - 17:51, 18 January 2008.
User:Avi - "in the edit view, it makes quick identification of text vs. cite extremely easy; just look for a horizontal line of text" - above 18:15, 18 January 2008.
User:Wtmitchell - "Change "subject to agreement" to "unless contrary to consensus"" - project page edit summary - 20:11, 17 January 2008.
User:Wtmitchell - "Because this page neither encourages nor discourages use of citation templates, remove boldface discouragement regarding their use" - project page edit summary - 03:49, 17 January 2008.
User:SlimVirgin - "I'm not keen on seeing someone in a protracted revert on a guideline who may have tried to do the same thing before, under a different name." - SallyScot's user talk page - 20:45, 21 January 2008.

--SallyScot (talk) 20:42, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Sally, the primary points are that the templates rarely provide the benefits claimed for them, particularly consistency. Indeed, with over 80 of them, how could they possibly do so? On the other hand, the issues raised regarding them are (arcane language, bloats the article, inflexible) are entirely valid. What typically happens is that an article writer goes along merrily writing and editing an article. Then a template wonk comes along and "improves" the article by putting citations in templates. The article writer is obviously miffed; the additions have only made his job of editing harder, not easier. Yet what recourse does he have to remove them? He is thus forced to accept this unhelpful imposition, or edit war rather than write articles. The guideline has always rightly recognized this reasonable disaffection for citation templates by including a strongly worded message to template wonks not to go adding them against consensus. Jayjg (talk) 03:11, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

The templates always include more text than is necessary, and so they invariably add to the problem. Plus they're inflexible, they can introduce inconsistency, and they don't prevent errors. Above all, they're unnecessary. It takes less time just to write the citation -- whether a long or a short one -- without adding a template structure around it.

SlimVirgin, 14:59, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

I wholeheartedly disagree with the above. Citation templates allow for a consistent display of reference; allow for many options such a sadding LCCN's, DOI's, OCLC's, ISBN's, a consistent format for journal volume/issue numbering, the ability to have a consistent format for accessdates, which is critical when quoting URL's, not to mention the ability to have the original and archived copy, and the text that is added is just four braces, some pipes, some equals signs, and intuitively-named parameters. http linking and wikilinking for most entries, as well as italicization, is handled seamlessly by the template, further adding to a consistent display. Error prevention is irrelevant, as hand-coded ref's are just as prone, if not more so, as there is no helpful parameter name in the field. Inflexibility is addressed above, and the introduction of inconsistency can be equally blamed on non-template users as template users, Slim. As for more text; since the text is invisible in view mode, it can only be an issue in edit mode. And the horizontal format of untemplated references is just as confusing, if not more so, do to the absence of the pipes and equals signs that tip the editor off that this is a cite and not text. So, Slim, your arguments are not convincing, and, what it boils down to, is a matter of taste that should not be imposed one way or the other. Please do not forget WP:OWN; not to mention unfounded accusations of sockpuppetry. -- Avi (talk) 22:49, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

And as for Jay's comments, I have to agree with Sally again. Please see above for point-by-point discussion about sice, uniformity, and complexity. As for using cite web for a print article, it depends. If the URL was used as a convenience link, then you are correct. But, if the citation is the URL, the fact that it was printed is just as irrelevant as a printed article's being posted on the web, Jay. As for you comment “Citation templates are made for people who like to fiddle with templates, not for people who actually are trying to write articles,” besides it being both false and fallacious, it is an insult to those of us who try and write articles that are properly referenced and æsthetically pleasing in view mode. Please speak for yourself and restrain yourself from making blanket assumptions about others. Also, making invalid sweeping generalizations of appeal to emotion does not serve to further intelligent discourse about the topic at hand. Thank you. -- Avi (talk) 22:55, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Revised wording proposal

Re. the concern raised by User:Jayjg above "...Yet what recourse does he have to remove them?" Well, believe it or not, I actually quite agree with the underlying sentiment here. However, it has to work both ways surely. And I don't think an appropriate sense of give and take is clear from the current guideline wording.[13]

As a result, I propose the following revision…

The use of citation templates is on the whole neither encouraged nor discouraged. Some editors find templates helpful, arguing that they help maintain a consistent style across articles; while other editors prefer writing freehand, saying that they find templates distracting when used inline in the article text and arguing that they make it harder to edit. Given the diversity of opinion, editors are encouraged overall to be respectful, tolerant and accommodating of the different preferred approaches as long as the results render similarly well to the reader. Pre-existing citations added by other editors should not subsequently be changed from freehand to template, or vice-versa, if there are objections.

--SallyScot (talk) 18:32, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

I agree with the sentiment, but it seems long. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:23, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Or, a shorter version (i.e. with a footnote)...

The use of citation templates is on the whole neither encouraged nor discouraged. Some editors find templates helpful, others argue that they're a distraction.[1] Given the diversity of opinion, editors are encouraged overall to be respectful and accommodating of the different preferred approaches as long as the results render similarly well to the reader. Pre-existing citations added by other editors should not subsequently be changed from freehand to template, or vice-versa, if there are objections.


1. ^ Some editors find templates helpful, arguing that they help maintain a consistent style across articles; while other editors prefer writing freehand, saying that they find templates distracting when used inline in the article text and arguing that they make it harder to edit.

--SallyScot (talk) 22:32, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

The issue is not the templates, it's the referencing system

The issue here is not the citation templates, it's the use of full citations directly in footnotes. If the full citations were moved to the end of the article, and the footnotes only gave author, year, and page number, there would be no issue. This system is used in several featured articles, I believe. Or Harvard referencing could be used, which is even more editor-friendly. For example, see the work in progress at Mathematical logic. — Carl (CBM · talk) 14:35, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

The templates always include more text than is necessary, and so they invariably add to the problem. Plus they're inflexible, they can introduce inconsistency, and they don't prevent errors. Above all, they're unnecessary. It takes less time just to write the citation -- whether a long or a short one -- without adding a template structure around it. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 14:59, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
However, when used at a the very end in a references section, the templates encourage consistency when possible (of course they don't cover every possible situation). See Mathematical logic#References and its source. In that article, many of the references are not simple enough to only use the citation template, but its use does help with consistency, and gives HTML anchors to which the in-text references can link. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:05, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
The templates encourage consistency only insofar as all editors use them, use the same ones, and use them correctly. That, however, is rarely the case. Jayjg (talk) 03:01, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Not to argue that it doesn't have its place, but the style used in the work in progress at Mathematical logic article pointed to above can draw a {{nofootnotes}} tag, and placement of that tag may be justifiable. IMO, intrusion of fotnotes into the article prose needs to be minimized while still providing inline footnoting capability. I'll again mention Bugzilla Bug 12498, which attempts to do this. (I filed that bug, but I'm not wedded to the specifics of the solution suggested there. An alternative approach would be fine with me if the approach taken there is judged suboptimal.) -- Boracay Bill (talk) 01:07, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
It uses Harvard referencing; anyone who puts on a nofootnotes tag gets a free trout. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:22, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
(hangs head) I missed that at a quick look, I'm so used to seeing superscripted cite.php refs in WP articles. I've often seen articles formatted similarly but which deserved {{nofootnotes}} tags. Not to defocus this to a general gabfest about wikitext alternatives for references, but I've seen similar utilization of the ID element provided by {{Citation}} done with e.g., ([[#CITEREFKatz1998|Katz 1998]], p. 686) vs. {{Harv|Katz|1998|p=686)}} vs. <Sup>{{Harv|Katz|1998|p=686)}}</Sup> vs. <ref>{{Harvnb|Katz|1998|p=686)}}</ref>, etc. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 02:30, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

I have just created Bugzilla bug 12796, billed as "Enable editors to control footnote ordering and to insert wikitex between footnotes. Also declutter article prose." The decluttering of the article prose is done by optionally allowing editers to declare footnotes in a block (grouped and ordered as desired, with un-numbered header wikitext insertable before/between/following the declared footnotes). The bug includes cite.php code with changes to implement this, plus a test case to demonstrate the added functionality. I've marked its priority as NORMAL, but I think that it should have a higher priority than that. This bug replaces previously-mentioned Bug 12498, which I've marked "WONTFIX". -- Boracay Bill (talk) 06:12, 26 January 2008 (UTC)


Hi Bill, Just to be clear, so you could use them like this, yes?

The Sun is pretty big,<ref name=Miller2005 /> but the Moon is not so big.<ref name=Brown2006 />

== References ==

<ref decl=Brown2006>Brown, R (2006). "Size of the Moon", Scientific American, 51(78).</ref>
<ref decl=Miller2005>Miller, E (2005). "The Sun", Academic Press.</ref>

--SallyScot (talk) 21:02, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Bias against templates

You (SlimVirgin) reverted my edit which was intended to make it so that this guideline does not express a preference one way or the other for having templates or not having them. If you think the guideline should specifically say that not using the templates is better than using them, you should get a consensus to that effect (probably at TfD) - otherwise this guideline should recommend against unilateral changes in either direction, rather than forbidding them in one direction (adding templates) while silently endorsing the opposite. —Random832 21:21, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Put simply, if there is a rule saying that I can't go in and change all of someone's citations to templates, but there is no rule saying they can't go in and change all the templates on another article to not using templates, that is saying it is NOT an optional style difference, and that is not something that the community seems to agree with. —Random832 21:25, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
I don't know about the edits to this page, but removing the templates from a page that already uses them would be a poor way to spend your time. — Carl (CBM · talk) 21:27, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
As I said in the edit summary, there's no need for a template once the citation is properly written, so there shouldn't be a problem removing them. What the guideline is saying is that they shouldn't be added to a page over objections, given how hard they make the page to edit. If we want well-written articles, templates tend to get in the way of that. That's the only point. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 21:30, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
(editconflict)Honestly, I'm not a fan of these templates anymore - i used to be, but ever since the stuff about date wikilinking, etc, it just seems like more trouble than it's worth. But unless the templates themselves are deprecated, I see no reason to permit people to go in and remove them any more than to let people add them.(/editconflict) I don't think there is a consensus that the templates are not indefinitely useful. And, for the record, I think that the problem is the fact that the whole citation's inline, and IMO it's not substantially more readable without templates than with them. There needs to be a way to define the content of a reference somewhere other than in the middle of a sentence. and I have filed bugzilla:12765 to that end. —Random832 21:33, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
SlimVirgin, Templates aren't what makes articles hard to edit, it's placing footnotes which are intended to appear elsewhere inline in the article prose which makes articles hard to edit. Earlier, you provided a horrific example of how templated citations got in the way of editing. I hand-converted your horrific templated example to just-as-horrific hand-formatted citations which also got in the way of article editing -- no improvement at all with hand-formated citations vs. templated citations. (see here). Again, Templates aren't what makes articles hard to edit, it's placing footnotes which are intended to appear elsewhere inline in the article prose which makes articles hard to edit. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 04:20, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Random832: there is. You can just put author, date,pages in the footnotes, and references in their own section. Or you can use Harvard referencing. As I pointed out somewhere else, the real issue here is the use of full citations in footnotes. — Carl (CBM · talk) 21:37, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Random832 and Carl (CBM) Please look at bugzilla bug 12796, which addresses this. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 03:43, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
There is certainly a problem with people removing templates. I am quite sure there is no consensus that templates get in the way of a well written page; otherwise we wouldn't have them still. Now I need to go look at the edits to the page. — Carl (CBM · talk) 21:32, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
SlimVirgin: Please look at Bugzilla bug 12796, which provides a way of removing footnote clutter from the flow of the article prose. (whether the clutter consists of textual asides, complicated hand-formatted citations, template-formatted citations, something else entirely, or some combination of the foregoing) -- Boracay Bill (talk) 03:58, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

(<-)Also the term over objection is inherently flawed. That implies one person, such as SlimVirgin can put up a fuss and point to the wording. Any change, be it to add or remove, needs consensus. More than that, if the article is undergoing edits by a number of people, and the usage is pretty much evenly spread in terms of usage or non-usage of templates in any given ref, it would be improper to either cause all ref's to be templatized, or to remove all of the templates against consensus. An article with an existing distinctive style (be it templates, Harvard, {{note_label}}, etc.) should not be changed against consensus. -- Avi (talk) 22:03, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

And yes, CBM, there is a problem with people feeling that it is "all right" to remove templates, but not to add them. -- Avi (talk) 22:04, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

I agree. I was going to say, at some point when an article gets long enough, the active editors should discuss on the talk page and pick a style to be used. This is completely parallel to the British/American dialect issue, and should be handled the same way. — Carl (CBM · talk) 22:06, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Those of you who are changing this are forgetting what's behind it. We don't force style changes on editors. If an article has been written using Harvard refs, and if there's no problem with it, we don't turn up and change to footnotes. Or if it's in British English, and again is unproblematic, we don't change to American English. This is a principle that's been upheld by ArbCom several times. Ditto with templates. Particularly so with templates, because they inevitably cause the writing to deteriorate. I'm not aware of any Wikipedian who is a regular article writer who likes them. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 22:13, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Maybe because you are'nt looking hard enough Face-grin.svg. Unless, of course, you have a new definition of "regular" article writer? -- Avi (talk) 22:15, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Avi, your approach to this is illustrative of the problem. You told me that you don't write articles. You said you're a wikignome, and that you go around imposing these templates on existing articles. What you're in effect saying is that the writers can go hang -- once they've done their job, you will impose your citation style, and if that means they can't write anymore because they can't see what they're doing, tough. That's exactly the attitude this guideline seeks to protect editors against. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 22:16, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Right. We don't force style changes on editors. So how is it that you use that to justify removing my edit, which said not to force the style change of "templates -> no templates"? —Random832 22:17, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Slim, no one is trying to force templates into articles; we are concerned by the seeming bias towards their removal against consensus ("over objections" for example, or only mentioning "adding"). If an article is in the process of being built, and the style is not clear, there can be no more reason to remove the templates than to add them. Everyone agrees that an existing, established style needs to be maintained, per the various ArbCom rulings, but no one style should be affected by a negative or positive predisposition, Slim. The way this guideline was worded was leading to a distinct bias against the use of templates, which is counter any of the ArbCom rulings you were referencing.

And as an aside, I never said I do not write articles (please see Actuary or Circumcision or Abbey Mills Mosque or Actuarial science or Jack Coggins for some examples). I also like to enhance others' work by ensuring that facts are cited, links are corrected, interested readers can find more information, and policies and guidelines are upheld in both the letter and the spirit, Slim. -- Avi (talk) 22:24, 23 January 2008 (UTC) -- Avi (talk) 22:24, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Citation templates 2

  • Because templates are optional and can be contentious, editors should not change an article with a distinctive citation format to another without gaining consensus. I don't think this is anything to do with templates. Presumably this refers to changing footnote format to Harvard, or whatever. I don't think it matters whether editors use templates or not, since the reader will not notice.
Hi Qp, Have you been through the first Citation templates section above? - The SallyScot section has some bearing too. --SallyScot (talk) 18:00, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
  • the "Cite xxx" family separates elements with a full stop, and gives page ranges as plain numbers, while the "Citation" template separates elements with a comma, and precedes page ranges with "pp." Thus, these two families should not be mixed in the same article. Well, yes, that would be a mess. But it is normal to use both a comma style and a full-stop style in the same article. The comma style is used for notes and the full-stop style for the bibliography or references list. qp10qp (talk) 16:31, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
Hi Qp, the advice not to change to templates over objections is that many editors find it harder to edit the text with templates in it, especially when there are lots of them. So editors are asked not to arrive at a page and switch to templates unless editors on the page agree. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 19:03, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
What you have just said is, in my opinion, better than "editors should not change an article with a distinctive citation format to another without gaining consensus". Although the latter is true, it sounds as if it is about citation formats such as Harvard, footnotes, or whatever, and not about templates. qp10qp (talk) 22:35, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I agree. What I wrote above is more or less what it said before. It was changed by pro-template people, and is now less clear. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 23:53, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
This is not to say that all editors agree with the current wording of course, or that its balance and clarity couldn't be improved. --SallyScot (talk) 19:33, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
The "cite xxx" thing was recently added by Gerry Ashton. I couldn't judge whether it was problematic or not, so I just left it. If you feel it complicates things, we could remove it. I think the details of how to use these templates belong on the templates page anyway, not here. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 19:03, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
I think it makes it very complicated. Whether the article is consistent about using pp. or whatever is not really a template issue. That should be decided before referencing, whether by templates or not. Templates are alien to me. I'm particularly annoyed when I see them used in the same way in both notes and bibliographies, in which case I feel entitled to remove them in one or the other (I haven't got time to go look at a template Smörgåsbord page to choose a second template for the page). Templating should not be an excuse to write note references in the same way as bibliography entries, in my opinion. (Turabian has a neat way of showing the difference between the two styles (N & B) and we should perhaps take a leaf out of that book, which explains things much more clearly than we do.)
I can just about tolerate templates in bibliographies, but I agree they are a nightmare to edit around in the main text. And when one tries to fill one in (to be consistent with an existing convention), one finds required fields missing or intractable: rather than go and find the fields somewhere, I take the short route and turn the templated note into a freehand one. Voila. Then I am liberated to give more information about editors etc. (I find the books I use are often untemplatable: for instance, today I referenced a preface by A. L. Rowse to a book of letters by John Chamberlain edited with an introduction and interspersed matter by Elizabeth Thomson: at different times I needed to ref to Rowse, Thomson, and Chamberlain. Templates don't have the flexibility to handle that, but freehand it's a cinch.) qp10qp (talk) 22:21, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
I think this is a critical point; there are now over 80 templates, so that even knowing what they all are, much less the thousands of permutations of fields in them, is an impossible task - and yet, they are still too inflexible to use in many situations! Jayjg (talk) 22:40, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
And they are very useful in others. So your point is? -- Avi (talk) 01:14, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
The point is that there are disadvantages without any clear advantages. They make articles harder to edit, they don't introduce consistency, they don't prevent errors. The biggest supporter of them on this page edited one recently with last name, first name for the first author in the citation, then the other way round for the other two. I had to go and fix it by hand. The citation didn't prevent the error, and may even have caused it because they cause such confusion. But I really think all this talk of templates needs to go on the template page. It's not a major issue for this guideline. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 01:23, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
In some editors opinions (to wit, you and Jay for example). In other editors' opinions they provide consistency of style, automatic linking of important data such as URL's to titles, OCLS, DOI, ISBN's, archived links and dates, etc., and allow for easy recognition of text vs. citation while editing. In a nutshell, Slim, some people like them, some do not, so leave it up to the editors on that page without predisposition to any one side, which this guideline seemed to do in a not-so-surreptitious manner. This page should be neutral on citations, overtly AND covertly. -- Avi (talk) 01:30, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
As has been shown, the claimed benefits are illusory, and the critical point for this page is that their inclusion in existing articles has always been controversial, which is why the guideline has always contained very clear admonitions not to force them on articles without agreement. Jayjg (talk) 01:32, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
People who see themselves as article writers -- who care about good writing -- tend to dislike them, for the simple reason that they make good writing harder. For that reason, we don't allow editors to arrive at a page they may never had edited before and impose templates on the people who actually wrote it. That's just a matter of basic respect. In the same way, we don't allow people to turn up and impose American spelling, or other stylistic issues. Article writers -- the people who created it and who are maintaining it -- have to be allowed a certain leverage, and people who go around making only stylistic changes have to respect the conventions of the page -- assuming the page is in order, of course. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 01:36, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes. For better or for worse (and, I think, mostly for better), precedence matters on Wikipedia pages when it comes to stylistic issues. There have been any number of ArbCom cases that have confirmed that. Jayjg (talk) 01:42, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

(unindent) A problem with citation templates is there is no one place (so far as I know) to look to see what style the various templates try to achieve. As far as I know, the editors interested in developing each template do their own thing. If, for example, "Cite book" put "pp." before a page range and "Cite journal" didn't, there would be no place to look to decide which one should be changed. Also, so far as I know, the various sitation templates do not document whether they are intended for use in endnotes or bibliographies. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 01:27, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

"Subject to agreement" phrase in template section

There seems to be a bit of a disagreement as to the presence of the bolded sentence in the section below:

The use of citation templates is neither encouraged nor discouraged. Templates may be used at the discretion of individual editors, subject to agreement with other editors on the article. Some editors find them helpful, arguing that they maintain a consistent style across articles, while other editors find them distracting when used inline in the text, because they make the text harder to read in edit mode and harder to edit....

I am of the firm opinion that this predisposes articles not to use templates, because it sets the standard at "objection" which means that any one editor can come and complain. I believe the standard should be like any other guideline, which is consensus. I think the best course of action is to leave the sentence out completely, as their use should be determined by the initial authors of the article the same way as Harvard vs. Note citation is used. There are other editors who have a problem removing this sentence. I would like to see discussion both pro- and con- so that we can work out what is best for this guideline in this area. Thank you. -- Avi (talk) 19:35, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

It means that you shouldn't arrive at pages to impose templates against the will of the editors on the page. It's the same with any style change, as explained above. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 19:49, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Then the suggested version (shown below) should be completely adequate as it specifically states that (in bold letters to boot):

The use of citation templates is neither encouraged nor discouraged. Some editors find them helpful, arguing that they maintain a consistent style across articles, while other editors find them distracting when used inline in the text, because they make the text harder to read in edit mode and harder to edit. Because templates are optional and can be contentious, editors should not change an article with a distinctive citation format to another without gaining consensus.

I believe that the text, as brought above, makes it crystal clear that "you shouldn't arrive at pages to impose templates against the will of the editors on the page," without having the connotation that templates are weaker than other styles in that consensus is not necessary; only objection. As a compromise, would you consider the following (sentence changed is in Italics):

The use of citation templates is neither encouraged nor discouraged. Templates may be used at the discretion of individual editors unless against pre-existing consensus on the article. Some editors find them helpful, arguing that they maintain a consistent style across articles, while other editors find them distracting when used inline in the text, because they make the text harder to read in edit mode and harder to edit. Because templates are optional and can be contentious, editors should not change an article with a distinctive citation format to another without gaining consensus.

I still think the guideline is clear without the sentence, though, and am interested in other opinons. -- Avi (talk) 19:54, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

The reason this is happening, in case anyone wonders, is that Avi turned up at New antisemitism, an article he had never edited before so far as I know, and changed the refs to citation templates. He was resisted, and revert-warred war to keep them in, then gave up, after posting various angry messages. He then came here to change the guideline so that it can't be quoted against him if he wants to do this in future.
We get this a lot -- people who turn up policies and guidelines to change them after finding the policy stopped them from doing something they wanted to do. These changes are almost always a bad idea, because they focus only on one incident or one point of view, and ignore the bigger picture or other people's interests. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 19:58, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Ah, Slim, Slim, such vitriol is unbecoming in you--no matter. As regards New Antisemitism I concur that after strong sentiment from you and Jay adding templates is inappropriate due to the fact that a pre-existing style had been created. My concern with you was what I perceived as intolerable rudeness, which I am currently drafting an off-line e-mail for you, as there is no need to involve other editors here in any personal disagreements you and I have.

That, however, in no way shape of form changes the inherent bias implied in the current wording. You may not like me, which is fine; the right of free association is upheld by the US Bill of Rights which governs Wikipedia (due to its location in Florida). However, that does not give you, or anyone, free reign to make changes, or maintain inequities, in guidelines against consensus. The fact that it may have taken a particular incident to alert me to the inequity in the current wording is just as irrelevant as your ad hominem misrepresentation of the reason for my edits. Furthermore, even if you were correct, which you are not, your response above is still fallacious as you are neither repudiating nor even discussing the points I raised, but theorized as to my intentions, which, may be fun for you, but does not serve to answer the valid points I raised.

So, in a nutshell, my dear Slim, please save your excoriation of me for e-mail and chat, and kindly keep this page discussing the problems with the guidelines, and not the problems you have with me, Sally (whom you accused of sockpuppetry, and seemingly only because she had the temerity to disagree with you), or any other editor in particular. I await a reasoned response. Thanks, -- Avi (talk) 21:23, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

We have no personal agreements or disagreements, Avi. No one was rude to you, as I recall. You, on the other hand, started wondering what I was trying to hide by removing the templates. That's how silly it got, and then you brought it to this page.
The important point is that we see this a lot at V, NOR, and here -- editors try to add something without a source, or a source that's not right in some way, or they want to impose their citation style on an article, and so they go to the policies and try to change them. But policy writing requires being able to stand back and see issues from multiple points of view. It also requires resisting the temptation to create a new rule for every experience we have. That's why I'm opposing your changes. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 21:28, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

The matter of rudeness or lack thereof is not for discussion here, Slim. I will be glad to discuss it with you offline. E-mail has been sent, by-the-by. The issue here is the sentence I bolded above. You responded with your reasoning. I responded that based on that reasoning, I still do not understand why the sentence needs to remain, as the bolded part at the end of the section makes it very clear that people should not change styles against consensus. -- Avi (talk) 21:48, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

The bolded part is your wording and it's not clear; you saw yourself above how a new editor here didn't know what it meant. Therefore we need to keep the rest of the text. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 22:04, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Re. "you saw yourself above how a new editor here didn't know what it meant" - If you're referring to User:qp10qp's request for clarification in the Citation templates 2 section above. My reading of this was that they were confused by what was meant by the term 'citation format'. --SallyScot (talk) 22:50, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Slim says - "policy writing requires being able to stand back and see issues from multiple points of view", but has also argued against citation templates earlier, saying - "how hard it would be to create any kind of decent writing with these templates in the way. Plus there's simply no point to them. People who know how to fill in the templates properly can write refs without them." Perhaps Slim could hold back on the Ad hominem circumstantial arguments and focus more on the reasoning as it is presented.

Anyway, here's how I would attempt to stand back and see the issues from multiple points of view...

The use of citation templates is neither encouraged nor discouraged. Some editors find them helpful, arguing that they maintain a consistent style across articles, while other editors find them distracting when used inline in the text, arguing they make the text harder to read in edit mode and harder to edit. Given the diversity of opinion, editors are encouraged overall to be respectful and accommodating of the different preferred approaches as long as the results render similarly well to the reader. Pre-existing citations added by other editors should not subsequently be changed from freehand to template, or vice-versa, if there are objections.

--SallyScot (talk) 23:27, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

The wording used to be better (by the way, I've got 89 edits to this page, so I'm not a new user: the expression "citation format" is only confusing to me insofar as it is now made to apply muddlingly both to what appears on the page and to what appears in the edit box: two different matters).
Your last sentence would be unacceptable to me: I'd rather lose it and look at improving the penultimate sentence of your draft, if we must have it. The reason I find the last sentence unacceptable is that I often change templates to freehand when I feel I can improve the presentation of references (I leave them if they are doing no harm, of course: mishmash seems to be the most common state of affairs on a page), and I don't want a stroke of the guideline to make me a miscreant or restrict my freedom to edit. I don't set out to remove templates, but it is necessary, in places, when standardising references, say for a FAR.
I'm afraid that I cannot accept an equivalence between templating and non-templating. This is because on the one hand we have had several centuries of the English language being written with words and punctuation in the right order, and a mere few years of this computer trick of putting words in the wrong order only to see them magically jump into the right order when saved. I put templates in the same category as electric toenail clippers: Shakespeare managed well enough without them and I expect his toenails were as well manicured as his sentences. I tolerate the sticky mess templates make, so long as I can manage to work around them, but the minute one interfere with my editing, out it goes. It feels like removing a corn. The truth is that many pages contain a mixture of templates and non-templates and that this mixture does no harm so long as one makes the citation system (if you know what I mean—last name first name, CMS/MLA, that sort of thing) consistent. A toasted sandwich is a toasted sandwich whether it is done under the grill or in a complicated toasted-sandwich-making contraption that is tricky to wash up: the choice of cheese is what is important (I recommend tangy red cheddar with a sprinkle of Worcestershire sauce. But each to their own).qp10qp (talk) 02:33, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

Qp, what is your opinion about the following:

The use of citation templates is neither encouraged nor discouraged. Some editors find them helpful, arguing that they maintain a consistent style across articles, while other editors find them distracting when used inline in the text, because they make the text harder to read in edit mode and harder to edit. Because templates are optional and can be contentious, editors should not change an article with a distinctive citation format to another without gaining consensus.

-- Avi (talk) 02:36, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

The last sentence is unclear, as I have said before, and possibly superfluous, but the rest is common sense. I don't think we should be telling editors what to do on this ("should not"): this is not an issue like BE/AE since it is not visible to the reader. The notion of consensus is implicit in the long-standing opening part of the above and I suspect we need not go further than that. qp10qp (talk) 02:44, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

The current section has an extra sentence, which I have bold italicized. Do you believe that the extra sentence is necessary, unnecessary, incorrect, confusing, or irrelevant? Thanks for your answers:

The use of citation templates is neither encouraged nor discouraged. Templates may be used at the discretion of individual editors, subject to agreement with other editors on the article. Some editors find them helpful, arguing that they maintain a consistent style across articles, while other editors find them distracting when used inline in the text, because they make the text harder to read in edit mode and harder to edit. Because templates are optional and can be contentious, editors should not change an article with a distinctive citation format to another without gaining consensus.

-- Avi (talk) 02:46, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

This was the section before it was recently changed, for the sake of comparison:

The use of citation templates is neither encouraged nor discouraged by this or any other guideline. Templates may be used at the discretion of individual editors, subject to agreement with other editors on the article. Some editors find them helpful, arguing that they maintain a consistent style across articles, while other editors find them unnecessary and annoying, particularly when used inline in the text, because they make the text harder to read in edit mode and therefore harder to edit. Because they are optional and contentious, citation templates should not be added against consensus, and editors should not change articles from one style to another if there are objections.

The issue that is key for me is that they may only be used "subject to agreement with other editors on the page" (unless of course it's a new page and there are no other editors). This prevents people from turning up at articles and imposing these templates on existing editors. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 02:51, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

But the way it is written now, it allows people to show up and remove them when the article has already had them, which is why if the sentence is removed, BOTH possibilities are covered by the existing statement of "Dont change w/o consensus". -- Avi (talk) 03:05, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

Well, can anyone give a valid explanation as to why the removal of the "subject to agreement" sentence is inappropriate? Or in other words, why is the following not perfectly acceptable:

The use of citation templates is neither encouraged nor discouraged. Some editors find them helpful, arguing that they maintain a consistent style across articles, while other editors find them distracting when used inline in the text, because they make the text harder to read and edit in edit mode. Because templates are optional and can be contentious, editors should not change an article with a distinctive citation format to another without gaining consensus.

-- Avi (talk) 16:07, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Glitch in Citation accessdate= treatment

An anomaly which comes up in use of what I believe to be a standard Citation reference, is that use of "accessdate=January 20, 2008" ends up generating a red-link to January 20, 2008, while use of "accessdate=2008-01-20" does not. Seems like a bug to me, I am trying to report it here. Please advise on where it should be reported, if not here.

This came up for me in editing List of National Historic Landmarks in Oklahoma. I tried eliminating the red-link by going ahead and creating the article on January 20, 2008, but an efficient wikipedian ever-so-promptly and politely deletes the new article (as is appropriate) :) doncram (talk) 23:04, 20 January 2008 (UTC)


This was changed in this edit. Both {{cite web}} and {{cite news}} specify accessdate in ISO format and wikilink it. Apparently Kaldari changed {{citation}} such that it's also wikilinked, which means it must be in ISO format to avoid a redlink. [Cite web and Cite news have code which check if the date (not accessdate) is in ISO format, and only wikilink it if it is. This was apparently never extended to accessdate.] Gimmetrow 02:25, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
Wow, thanks for the informed and informative response. I gather the right place to report it is in "template talk" for the Citation template, and i raised it there (cutting and pasting from this discussion here). See Template_talk:Citation#Glitch in Citation template treatment of accessdate= field. Thanks! doncram (talk) 22:22, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

1. The issue of auto-formatting of dates will automagically resolve itself when bugzilla:4582 issue is resolved.
   (I'm on it and I'll hopefully be done in a week or two)
2. The issue with the redlink for non-ISO dates is known. That is why citation does did not link dates.
3. Would people please relax about date auto-formatting? For 99.99% of all views, dates are not formatted even if wiki-linked.
-- Fullstop (talk) 08:51, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Quoting hardcopy sources

User:Jack-A-Roe just added this paragraph:

When using citations that are not available online for verification, if the use of a citation is likely to be controversial or if it is questioned by other editors, it is helpful to provide a direct quote of a short passage from the cited source. The quoted text can be placed either in a footnote or on the talk page, so editors can confirm that the source supports the text as used.

The edit summary stated this was a more logical place for this paragraph, but did not explain where the paragraph came from. So, where did it come from?

Also, I don't agree with the part about using the article talk page. If the talk page gets archived frequently, the quote will be too hard to find. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 21:48, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

also not maintainable. If the quote is not provided by the editor what happens then?Arnoutf (talk) 18:01, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
It's a good idea to put such quotes on the talk page if they're not crucial, for other editors to see. If the quote is crucial, it's better to place it in the footnote to avoid the archiving problem. I think these things boil down to editorial judgment at the time. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 18:45, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Finell has removed this passage, citing talk, though he didn't leave a comment here. Does anyone else object to this?

When using sources that are not on the Web, and if the material is contentious, providing a direct quote helps other editors to verify that the source supports the edit. This can be done on the talk page or in a footnote; if the quotation is crucial to understanding the edit, placing it in a footnote will give it wider exposure than adding it to a talk page.

SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 19:50, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

(outdent) I deleted User:Jack-A-Roe's recent addition to the MOS. It was added with no discussion or consensus. More importantly, is is a bad idea for three reasons.

  • First, it deprecates print sources that are not reproduced online, even though that is still where the majority of reliable scholarship resides. Wikipedia's emphasis has always been, and should remain, on the reliability of the source, not whether the source is online. Further, offline print sources that are cited are usually available to Wikipedians who want to check them—in the library.
  • Second, it assumes bad faith by those who cite offline sources. Or, perhaps, it assumes bad faith by everyone—that everything that anyone submits is likely to be wrong and must be verified (as opposed to verifiable) by others. Either is unacceptable. Wikipedians who cite reliable offline sources should not be put to the special burden of supporting in advance, with direct quotations, everything that they contribute.
  • Third, articles should not be larded with quotations (even in footnotes) that do not contribute to the reader's understanding of the article. Personally, I tend to use quotations from my sources, but that should be a matter of individual editorial judgment, not a guideline.

If an editor has reason to question the accuracy of another's contribution, the question should be raised on the article's Talk page. If the original contributor does not respond and no one else satisfactorily addresses the question, the question can be raised on the original contributor's Talk page, if there is one. It that doesn't settle the matter, it is up to the doubting editor to research the facts, either from the cited offline source or from other available sources. Finell (Talk) 20:02, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Dear SlimVirgin: I was already writing this and saw your comment in an edit conflict window when I tried to submit it. I believe that my edit summary said that I would be explaining my action on the Talk page, and that is what I was doing. Finell (Talk) 20:08, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Okay, thank you. You raise some good points. Would it be better to have the same passage, but say that "as a matter of courtesy," some editors provide quotations? Or would your objection still stand? (I take your point that things need to be verifiable/attributable, not actually verified.) SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 20:11, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Personally, I object in principle to treating print sources less favorably than online sources in any way. I've seen several less experienced Wikipedians even ask whether it is permissible to cite offline sources, when there was nothing in WP:CITE that said that online sources were even preferred; I get palpitations when I see that. I've been active online since the mid-1980s and had an Internet account before there was a Worldwide Web, so I am not anti-tech or anti-Internet. But, except for current and relatively recent developments, the best sources in most fields are still offline. That will continue to be the case until intellectual property law and the means of compensating writers and publishers catch up with 1990s technology. Until then, people should be encouraged to use books and the library in addition to, but not to the exclusion of, online sources.
If you wanted to say that where a reliable online source supports a statement in an article for which a print source is already cited, editors may consider adding the online source for the convenience of the readers, I could support that (or at least not oppose it), but only after there is a Talk page consensus for such a new guideline. But the guideline should make clear that the reliability of the source is paramount, whether online or in print, and there is no preference for online sources.
By the way, if an editor wants to document something for the benefit of future editors, the place to do it is in a <!-- hidden comment -->—not on the Talk page or in a footnote. Anything in footnotes, as in text, should only be for the benefit of readers, not editors.
Time to go back to my real work. I won't be back here for at least several hours, if then.Finell (Talk) 20:50, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree about the importance of not appearing to downgrade offline sources, so if it looks as though it's doing that, perhaps you're right that we should leave it. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 21:30, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
As a reader, I wouldn't mind quotes from online sources too, in some cases. —Random832 21:50, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
It's especially helpful where the online article is several pages long, and you'd have to struggle to find the relevant section. It's not always clear which passage an editor intends to use as support for his edit, and especially not when he's made a mistake and the source doesn't in fact support him. Supplying a quote on talk or in a footnote saves a lot of time. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 22:00, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

When providing a quote ina footnote/cite, it is not a bad idea to wrap it in <small>...</small> tags. Otherwise longer pieces tend to overwhelm the citation area. -- Avi (talk) 22:06, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps there is a reason to take the original proposal "When using sources that are not on the Web, and if the material is contentious, providing a direct quote helps other editors to verify that the source supports the edit. This can be done on the talk page or in a footnote; if the quotation is crucial to understanding the edit, placing it in a footnote will give it wider exposure than adding it to a talk page."
And instead turn it into this "When using sources where the material is contentious, providing a direct quote helps other editors verify that the source supports the edit. This can be done in a footnote; if the quotation is crucial to understanding the edit, placing it in a footnote will give it wider exposure."
Wjhonson (talk) 00:48, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I like this approach a lot; it was what I was thinking as I read the above material. No reason to disfavor non-online materials; quotes can be useful in many circumstances. A few thoughts: (1) We may as well mention that it can be helpful in multiple circumstances, although it's nice to provide the "controversy" example; (2) Is might be worthwhile to add a caution against people padding cites with additional extraneous quotes. So here's a proposed edit of Wjhonson's edit:

    In [some/many] instances, a direct quote from the source helps other editors verify that the source supports the edit. If the quote provides important contextual information, it can be placed in the footnote.

    --Lquilter (talk) 16:05, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

At least Wjhonson's approach doesn't treat, say, the Durants' The Story of Civilization as being inferior to some high school history teacher's, or even college professor's, Web site. In response to SlimVirgin's concern about what pert of a long online article the editor is citing for support, print sources have the advantage of page numbers; if an online source has headings or other anchors in the HTML, the link can point to that, although not all Wikipedians know how to do that. I still object to adding quotations ANYWHERE in the article, including footnotes, solely to persuade other editors that the source supports the statement for which it is cited. Everything visible in a Wikipedia should be there to help the reader, never for the convenience of other editors. Avi's suggestion of putting the quotations in small type is an indication that the extra quotations will be a problem, and his solution adds another problem on top of it: making Wikipedia harder to read.

The standard for years has been that a disputed edit without a citation is subject to removal. If this new proposal becomes a guideline, will doubting editors start reverting edits with citations if the citation is not supported by a confirming quotation? Assume bad faith or incompetence? The burden should remain on the editor who doubts a statement to follow up in some way (I have done this myself many times when I doubted the correctness of an edit with a citation); there are many ways of doing that (I suggested a few above). The burden should not be on every Wikipedian not only to cite WP:RA but also to supply a supporting quotation. While the proposal is well intentioned, it is really a very fundamental change in Wikipedia editing policy and opens the door to even more contentiousness than we already have. Finell (Talk)